Tag Archives: dogs

Photo-a-Day: Trust

Today the dogs went to the vePhoto-a-Dayt for their annual check-up. (Yes, I know, I didn’t post yesterday and here I am posting about the dogs AGAIN–it’s going to be a long, boring summer for those of you who follow this blog. Soon, you’ll be able to spot Scout and Pruf in a doggie line-up.) Prufrock is a champion. He’s very chill at the vet and lets them do what they need to do. Part of it is that he’s just old, part of it is that he’s just a really good dog, and part of it is that he’s super stoic. He does not let on if something is uncomfortable.

Scout, by contrast, never let a feeling go unexpressed. She’s very vocal and opinionated. Both of them are rescues, but Scout, being much younger than Pruf, is much closer to her experience of being abandoned and then rounded up by the local animal shelter. All this by way of saying, the vet is touch and go. Historically, going to the vet with Scouty has been a dicey situation. She cowers, she tongue flicks, she shakes, she releases her anal glands…once, she even snapped at the vet when he leaned over her to give her a treat. Her fear and anxiety go through the roof when strangers get in her face like that (the vet later acknowledged that he knew better than to do that with her).

We don’t know much about Scout’s story. She was found at about 18 months of age wandering the woods in rural southern Ohio. A local shelter picked her up, but they were going to have to put her down because they didn’t have room for her. The shelter staff called a rescue organization in Cincinnati to see if they wanted Scout, and they said yes. Soon, she was at an adoption fair at our local PetSmart with the unfortunate moniker Trixie. We saw her–and Lord know why–we feel in love.

Basically, she was an awful dog because of having been abandoned in the woods. She cowered when we got out the tin foil, she growled if we got to close, she suffered from what seemed like an incurable case of submissive urination (she’d get so scared when we came home from work that she would pee all over herself). She still hides when it thunders and is very scared of the iPod. But she’s much more comfortable with affection and she has even made some human friends aside from us.

Today at the vet was a miracle. Scout was almost happy to be there and watched with great interest as the vet checked Pruf’s heartbeat. When the vet tech, who is amazing, by the way, took Scout in the back to get weighed and have her temperature taken, I could hear her cooing to Scout, telling her what a good girl she was. When the tech returned with Scout, she confirmed that Scout had been really good and didn’t appear to be frightened.

Here’s the kicker: “She let me kiss her on the head.”

That’s what the vet tech said to me. Scout let the tech kiss her on top of the head. I was stunned. I told Scout what a very good girl she was, and she jumped up and hugged me, softly gnawing on my chin.

As we were paying and checking out of the vet’s office, that same tech and I were having a conversation about how much Scout has changed in the 3 years we’ve had her.

And she said this: “It’s amazing what they can do when they learn they can trust you. It’s really all about trust.”

Indeed it is. I’ve watched this creature move from being damaged by lack of trust in humans to thriving because of trusting humans.

It’s the same way with us. We get damaged or we thrive based on the presence of trust.

 

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Photo-A-Day: Helpers

Photo-a-DayHello again after another hiatus! I’ve been some place much less interesting than Brazil and endured a travel delay on my way back. I’m home now and ready to get back in the swing of it.

Time for a photo of you-know-who: Scout and Prufrock, my two cattle dogs. Due to the highly uneventful nature of my life, I snap photos of the dogs and blog about them a lot. Good thing they’re cute.

And helpful, as you can see. Today, I spent an embarrassing amount of time dealing with the calf-high grass in the backyard. And by “embarrassing,” I mean about 3 hours. (Our yard is small.) First, I had to pick up all the poop, second, I had to weed the grass, third, weed-whack the grass and rake and repeat. Finally, it was time to mow! And mow and mow and mow.

My trusty companions pretty much did as pictured above. Pruf rested in the grass and stared at me while Scout darted between her under-the-porch hiding place and my face. She’d hide for a while then come bounding up to me, sticking her snout right in my face–nevermind what I was doing–and give me a big sniff followed by a stinky kiss. Then, it was back to her hiding place.

I enjoy their company so much that, honestly, it does feel like they are helping. They like to nibble on the grass, which actually is a huge help given how tall and unwieldy I’ve allowed the grass to get.

Yesterday was my turn to help someone. I helped a good friend pack up her house (she’s moving to NYC) and haul stuff off to Goodwill. I don’t usually think of myself as a particularly helpful person in a physical, manual sense (I’m much more helpful when it comes to being someone’s sounding board…or editor), so this was a welcomed change–to (actually) be helpful. I confess there was a reward in it for me: I got lots of fantastic free stuff. My friend’s truly grateful hug was perhaps reward enough. I’ll miss her!

Tomorrow’s challenge is to rectify the embarrassment known as the “front yard.” My helpers probably won’t be as present because the front yard invites a number of dangerous temptations–like chasing cars and cats, lunging at passing canines, and hunting down the mailman. They’ll probably just watch me from their perch on the couch.

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Photo-a-Day: Gorge

Photo-A-Day I’m back, after a brief hiatus. We took a quick trip to Red River Gorge, in the Kentucky wilderness. To make up for not being able to post the past couple of days, I offer you two photos.

The first one is of one of the funnest things on the planet: playing fetch with the dogs in the water. We’ve got Prufrock, the whiter one in the back, and Scout, the darker one in the front. And, yes, that’s a very dirty me, fixing to throw their stick. Pruf was quite a swimmer in his youth, but now that he’s about 11 and a half, his skills have declined. Instead of a full-throttle paddle in pursuit of a stick, he’s more likely now to bound through the water for a few steps, stop, sigh, and look at me with a pathetic expression that conveys something like, “I can’t find the stick, please throw another.” And we repeat the cycle.

Scout is scared of everything, including swimming, and, just between you and me, she has a fraction of Pruf’s intellect. Sometimes, she’ll bring a stick back to me if the water is shallow enough. Otherwise, she can’t quite figure out the whole swimming thing. I coaxed her a long a bit on this trip and actually got her to dog paddle. In true Scout fashion, of course, her dog paddle didn’t look like any other dog paddle I’d ever seen. She moved like an otter, twisting through the water.

A quick look through my photo library reveals that I have numerous versions of this same photo–in this exact same watering hole–from various years. You can never have enough photos of being in the water with the dogs.

The second photo isn’t a sunset; it’s something almost better. The light at sunset. The way the pinks and yellows stretch across the sky and illuminate something as mundane as a pine cone gives dusk such an energy. Things in the Eastern part of the sky seem to light up as the sun casts its parting rays across the horizon. It’s just beautiful.

So, here are some pine cones.

Photo-A-Day

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Photo-A-Day: Viewfinder

Photo-A-DayThis is my viewfinder. These two pups and their floppy black ears.

One of the most amazing things about Cincinnati–and a huge selling point for me when I moved here 4 years ago–was the parks. Wow. The city proper has about 300,000 (the total for the suburbs and tri-state is about 2 million) and yet there are huge, beautiful parks everywhere. My favorite is Mt. Airy, a 1500 acre forest about 5 minutes from my house. Plenty of trails there for the dogs and me to hike on.

I’ve passed a lot of my time just like this: walking down a trail at Mt. Airy with these two cattle dog mutts in front of me. I’ve seen this sight so often, it’s such a ritual part of my life, that it’s almost weird to see it in a photo. I can close my eyes and see Prufrock and Scout marching down the trail, flopping their ears, and I ache knowing that one day I will cease to see this sight. (Pruf is about 11 and a half–that’s all I’m going to say.)

So, welcome to my viewfinder, the image that shapes my world. Both of these dogs are rescues and I’m grateful for the way their spirit and their form have framed my life.

(I warned you all that there would be a lot of dog pictures in this photo-a-day project.)

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Photo-a-Day: Playing Fetch

IMG_1554So, today’s photo is of the dogs: Prufrock (left) and Scout (right). You will probably get tired of seeing images of the dogs although I never tire of their beautiful faces.

Speaking of getting tired, that was the whole point of our outing. Instead of our usual walk, I took them an open field a few blocks away to play fetch. Even though he’s about 11, Pruf is a master fetcher. Just look at him. He’s brought me back his ball (where is Scout’s ball? Nowhere to be found), he’s looking at me, he is ready to go.

In contrast, Scout, who’s about 4, loves to run around but only brings the ball back about 70% of the time. (Pruf usually goes to get me Scout’s ball after he’s dropped of his.) Her favorite place in the world is right next to him. She likes to lay on him, touch him, lick him, be with him.

Clearly, I’m a dog person. I love these creatures: they really complete my life. When I travel for work, I experience such a dearth of sensation. In hotel rooms, there’s no clippity-clop of clumsy paws, no jangling of collar charms. I can’t look into their deep brown eyes, touch their fur (Pruf is coarse and wiry; Scout is silky smooth and soft), or feel their hot breath on my face. (I miss my partner, too, but you know, we can talk on the phone, Skype, email, text, etc.)

Well, I fear this post is official maudlin and veering into the land of cliches about (wo)man’s best friend. Dogs live with a presence that I envy. They work hard and let it go. And I’m grateful for what these two have taught me and continue to teach me.

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