What Not to Do to Your Dog in Public

Saturday, June 9, 2018 1:26 pm

For the first time this year, Dennis and I took Sammy to the farmer’s market in Waukesha this morning.

One of the reasons I wanted to get a dog, almost 2 years ago now, was so that I could have an animal I could hang out with outside of the house. Someone who could ride with me in the car to get a hamburger or ice cream. Go to a farmer’s markets and outdoor flea markets on occasion.

I love my cats dearly, but they’re not all that enthused about jumping in the van and going for a ride. And I’ve tried walking them on leashes. They were very adept at crouching on the ground with their claws embedded into the earth, but as far actually moving with the leash on, not so much.

I was surprised, and dismayed when we took Sammy to his first farmer’s market a year ago. He hated it. He cowered at all the people. He barked at all the dogs and wouldn’t let anyone, human or animal, get near him. When we tried to take him through a drive through for a hamburger, he barked and growled at anyone who happened to pass within six feet of our car.

Not what I expected.

Dennis enrolled Sammy into a socialization class at our local HAWS last summer. Sammy learned how to let other dogs approach him and Dennis learned how to help him feel safe when other dogs and people were around. Today Dennis put all that training to the test and then some.

Being the first time he’s been in public since last fall, Sammy was a little more on edge at the farmer’s market than normal. He has to get used to it again, but he was still doing well. Sammy prefers to walk with Dennis when we’re there. I think it’s because he did the HAWS training with him. Or maybe it’s because Dennis prefers to walk with Sammy when we’re there.

You see, Sammy is a magnet for attention. As we walk him down the aisle people literally stop and comment to each other and us about what an adorable dog he is. Several people called him the “laughing dog today”. I swear Dennis walks a little taller with an uncharacteristic perky spring in his step when he’s walking Sammy at the farmer’s market. (I’m the one bringing up the rear of the group juggling all the bags.)

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Sammy is wearing his smile here.

Today, though, Dennis took Sammy’s socialization exercises one step further than ever before. Probably further than anyone at HAWS ever expected one of their doggie-graduates to have to endure.

A family came up to ask and asked if Sammy was a Pekingese. I said he was not, he was part Pomeranian, part Shih-Tzu. The husband replied that they had a Pomeranian at home that they loved.

To my shock (and embarrassment), Dennis scooped up Sammy, flipped him on his back and showed this family how when you turn Sammy upside down his ears flip-up and he looks just like a Pom. The dog who, last year at this time, was so freaked out he couldn’t go in public was now being tipped on his back so strangers could admire his ears.

The family was a bit taken back and didn’t know what to say, although, they did comment that Sammy didn’t look all that thrilled about the whole thing. I wonder if HAWS has a class to socialize humans on the things not to make your dog endure while in public?

Sammy handled the situation like a champ. I was proud of him. We tried to reward him for literally having exposed his vulnerable underbelly to strangers with hot, homemade donuts but he wasn’t interested. Dennis, however, was.

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Sammy ignoring his piece of donut

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Fresh, hot donuts. Yum!

I’ve heard some people go to the farmer’s market to get fresh vegetables. We go for fresh made donuts.

Sometimes I do buy vegetables, too. But it’s usually to make things like Beef Stroganoff and strawberry rhubarb crumble.  I resisted buying the fresh dill for Swedish meatballs. And in a small nod to health, I bought a head of lettuce.

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Since the donut treat was a bust, I wanted to make sure Sammy had something he really enjoyed to attach to our outing. I suspect he still only tolerates going to the farmer’s market, even when he isn’t flipped on his back, so we needed another place to stop.

The answer was easy: Five Guys Burgers. Sammy’s favorite place to go.  He even knows the name. Say Five Guys at home and he gets all excited and runs to the door.

Come to think of it, so does Dennis.

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Watching for Dennis to bring the goodies

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Waiting for the next bite

2:24 pm

Fight Like Cats and Dogs? Not in Our House!

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018 9:40 AM

It is a commonly held belief that cats and dogs do not get along. We’ve all heard the cliche’ “fight like cats and dogs”.

Personally, I’ve never thought that is the case. When I grew up we always had a cat and a dog and they never fought. When I was newly married to my first husband we had a cat and dog, too, before we had our son. They never fought either.

Naturally, when I brought in Sammy a year and half ago, and then Charlie nine months later, I had the expectation that the dogs would not fight with the three cats.

And they do not. They actually play together which we need to monitor because the dogs can get a bit loud and overbearing; but they never fight. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.

There are vast differences, though, in cats vs. dogs.

After a vacation where you lock a dog in a 5 X 8 room in a kennel for four days, they will greet you with unbridled love and enthusiasm. Their joy in seeing you will be boundless and there will be much licking, tail wagging and maybe even a little excited piddling. The fact that you were the one who left them for four days in an uncomfortable situation will never occur to them. As soon as they see you, you will be best buds again.

Cats are a bit different. After leaving them at home when you go on vacation, without barking dogs, and a pet sitter who visits and feeds them, pets them and plays with them not once, but twice a day, they will, in fact, ignore you when they see you. They know that you abandoned them and they will  look at you as if you are the lowest, most insignificant, non-entity they have ever seen. Until they decide they forgive you and insist on cuddling up on your head all night.

Nights. That is one thing I didn’t consider when I added dogs to our household. Dogs sleep schedules are much like human’s. They sleep at night and are up during the day. They are diurnal beasts. Cats are nocturnal beasts. The sleep all day and are up at night.

With three cats and two dogs, this combination of animals pretty much guarantees that some animal will want attention from Dennis and/or myself every hour of every day. This causes problems as we would enjoy uninterrupted sleep for at least five hours a night.

And then there’s that magic time of year that we are in right now, when the days grow long and the sun rises earlier. When the sun rises, so do the dogs. When the sun rises in the vicinity of 5 AM there is an overlap between the nocturnal beasts’ nighttime playtime and the diurnal beasts’ daytime playtime.

This is not good news for the humans in the house who now have two species cavorting at the end of the bed instead of just one.

There is now a competition for who gets to wake us up first. Will it be the cuddly cat who knows he only needs to purr to get me to pet him or will it be the dog who thinks licking whatever skin happens to be exposed will bring him attention? It could also be the cat who nibbles my nose to wake me. At least she’s gentle. Usually.

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Lucy, the nose nipper as seen on our web cam from when we were in Las vegas

Lately, it’s been the whining, barking dog who insists he has to go outside because it’s light out who has been getting us up. (This is the same dog who will refuse to go outside in winter until the sun comes up which is a good two hours later than it does now.)

I’ve heard there are people who lock their animals out of the bedroom at night. We’ve tried that and have the shredded carpet outside the bedroom door to prove it. Cats do not like to be locked out of anywhere. Dogs don’t like it either.  That’s one area that they are both the same.

I believe this dichotomy between sleep schedules is the real reason the combining of the species has been discouraged throughout the ages. It has nothing to do with them fighting.

I am probably the only person in the state who is looking forward to the days growing shorter.

10:38 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Always Knew I was an Odd Duck

Tuesday, June 5, 2018 for Saturday, June 2, 2018  11:40 AM

If you ever have the opportunity to see someone’s dream come true, you should take it. It’s an amazing experience and one I had the privilege of doing last Saturday. I’ve been meaning to blog about it sooner, but catching up on the week’s worth of chores that accumulated while we were in Las Vegas has kept me from writing.

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll remember that I wrote about a writer’s lecture I attended in May. You can read about it here.

While at the lecture I learned of a writer (the one with the cool shaved hair style) who was having her first book published. She wrote a fantasy novel and it is being published by a small press who accepts fantasy works.

Since my novel-in-progress involves time travel, it, too, is considered in the fantasy genre. Before I even knew what her book was about, I was interested in learning more about it. Her publisher could be a resource for me if I ever finish my book. I learned she was having something called a Book Launch at a small coffee shop in Waukesha on June 2nd where she would sell paper copies of her book.

I’ve never been to a Book Launch before. I debated not going since we just got back from Las Vegas and I was tired and had tons of laundry to do. In the end, though,  I decided to ignore the mountain of laundry and go see what it was all about.

I’m so glad I did! There were probably twenty-five or so people who attended it, and I think I’m the only one the author didn’t know. She introduced herself to me and I think she was a bit surprised I was there. I was, in fact, the only person who attended the book launch alone.

This author had a good size family and there were several tables filled by them. She also had members from her writing critique group there and her employers. I’ve decided that I need to make more friends. If I ever am fortunate enough to do launch a book I think I will maybe get four people to attend. Five if my writing coach’s husband attends.

The author said a few heartfelt words about the inspiration for her book. She allowed her vulnerability to show through and I had to choke back tears. I couldn’t be the only one crying at this happy event! She read an excerpt from her novel and then signed books at the end of the event.

The energy in that room was absolutely amazing. The author was (pardon the cliché’) glowing with pride and with excitement. She was witnessing the culmination of a fifteen-year dream come true and I was there to share in her joy. It was pretty awesome.

At the risk of sounding like a new-age crazy person I have to admit that I am a big energy person. I often pick up on the energy of people and of places. I’m drawn to a few, I’m put off by more. This event and the author, drew me in the same way as the writer’s lecture drew me in last month. On the rare occasions this happens it’s truly magical.

I always thought I was an odd duck in this respect, my ability to feel the energy of people and places. Then I found a test that proved I am.

There is a personality assessment used by psychologists and counselors called the Myers Briggs test which breaks down personality types into 16 groups. I was first introduced to the Myers Briggs test by a boyfriend twenty years ago. We were having problems and his counselor suggested he ask me to take the Myers Briggs test. Which I did, but I didn’t find out the results then. My boyfriend said it gave him lots of insight into me, though. That didn’t stop us from breaking up. Twice.

I took the Myers Briggs again in a week-long seminar at my local college for people looking to change careers. This was about 10 years ago. As the instructor was handing out our test results, she told me that I was the first person she’d had in her five years of teaching who had my particular personality type. INFJ.

What is INFJ? It stands for Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging.  We make up roughly 1-2% of the population. We are called “mystics”, “empaths” and highly intuitive. In short, we’re big on picking up on the energy of the world around us. Apparently, there are a few other odd ducks like me out there after all.

INFJ types are not shy. Introversion does not equal shy. Introversion means we recharge our emotional and creative batteries by spending time alone. I will stake my small talk abilities against an extroverts any day. I’ll just need retire into my own world for a few hours to recharge when I’m done.

At the book launch on Saturday, I was invited by several ladies to share their table when I was sitting alone. Normally, I accept these invitations, however, I did not accept on Saturday. I could already feel this was a special event and I just didn’t want to be distracted by making small talk from experiencing it.

I hope the nice ladies that invited me to sit with them weren’t offended. One of them was a therapist so maybe she figured out I was an INFJ immersed in the moment. I hope so.

It’s a bit vampiric, I think, to attend another author’s book launch and feed on the positive energy her hard work produced. It was invigorating, though, and also inspiring. I went back home and made some deep cuts and revisions that needed to be made to my book. I’m going into one-on-one writing coaching this week, so moving forward with the novel has been forefront in my mind and I think attending that event helped me make the changes I needed to make in my book, but didn’t necessarily want to do.

Are you curious about your personality type? The actual Myers Briggs test is quite involved and is administered by professionals. However, here is a link to one I’ve taken several times on the internet and it always tags me as an INFJ the same as the actual test did. It takes about 10 minutes to take.

If you turn out to be a fellow INFJ message me in the comments. I’d like to meet another one of the 1-2% walking around out there.

I’m about half way through the book I bought at the book launch. It’s called Pick Your Teeth with my Bones by Carrie Newberry and it’s excellent! The writing is far better than many of the books I’ve read from the big name publishing houses. It’s about a shape-shifter girl (NOT a Werewolf — they are different!) who is forced to face the creatures who killed her mother and sisters. It’s fast-paced, funny and a great read.  You can purchase your own copy off Amazon.

book cover

12:50 pm

Highlights from Vegas with some help from Jimmy Buffet

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 2:45 PM

Dennis and I spent four days in Las Vegas this last week. It’s the first time we’ve been away for the that long in two and half years since we last visited Vegas. I will be scoring this blog post with snippets of Jimmy Buffet songs because there is a Jimmy Buffet song appropriate for just about every occasion. (And we spent a lot of time at Margaritaville in Las Vegas).

Vegas has changed in two and half years. The hallways between the hotel rooms and elevators are longer. And the casinos are bigger, too. Everything is farther away and we did much more walking this time which is the reason that I was so stiff on Saturday that I could barely walk. I’m growing older but not up…

I really need to get that swim spa and start getting into better shape.

Seriously, there have been changes in Vegas since we were there last. Uber is now the way to get around. We did have a car, but we found it easier and cheaper to Uber between casinos on the strip. Especially since most hotels are now charging for parking (another change since the last time we were there).

Buying pot is now legal in Las Vegas. We ate pizza in a restaurant across from a very upscale strip mall that had a pot store next to an Einstein’s bagels and a gourmet popcorn shop. Coming from a state where having pot on you will at least get you fined, if not arrested (depending on how much you have), seeing a thriving pot store out in the open was a bit surreal to see. …I’ve run my share of grass/Made enough money to buy Miami …

Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant now has a casino as part of it. They have actual Jimmy Buffet slot machines (Dennis won on them!) and they have Coppertone suntan lotion scent dispersed into the casino through the air vents. Even the carpet looks like an aerial view of islands in an ocean. For a guy that sings about chilling and living the easy life he sure has an aggressive and amazing marketing presence. Bet he didn’t build that by spending his life sailing, fishing and drinking. Wasting away again in Margaritaville…

Speaking of drinking, I discovered a drink called a Bloody Maria at Margaritaville. I’m sure this isn’t a new drink, but it’s new to me. It’s basically a Bloody Mary made with tequila instead of vodka. I hate vodka but I like tequila! What a happy find that was. Why don’t we get drunk…

We also discovered gourmet cheese burgers and milk shakes at a restaurant in our hotel called the Black Tap. They were the best burgers I’ve ever had. Cheeseburger in paradise…

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The milk shakes were something to see. Dennis had Oreo Cookie and I had Cake Batter. His had a full Oreo Cookie ice cream bar and mine had a large piece of cake on top of the shake. They were humongous and fun. And expensive! Holy cow were they expensive. It was a good experience, but unlike the Bloody Maria, I think this will be a one-time experience for me.

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Our massive shakes. We didn’t even eat half of them they were so big and so rich.

One of the most serious changes were the many security guards with German Shepard dogs in the casinos on the Strip and also walking around Fremont Street downtown. I’m not sure of the exact reason, but I’m assuming they are trained to smell for explosives or gunpowder? One morning,  I saw a security guard in our hotel down on one knee rubbing the belly of her German Shepard who was rolling on his back and clearly enjoying the attention. The guard dogs have an important job to do, but they’re still dogs at heart. I was glad to see there was real affection between the guard and her dog. Somethin’ ’bout your dog sittin’ by your side…

There are some things in Las Vegas that have not changed and probably never will. It is hot. Ninety degrees and above every day.

You will lose. And I did. Every bit of cash I brought to gamble I lost. Dennis didn’t lose all of his so I guess that’s kind of like winning.

There are unusual people. Mainly in downtown, but I have also seen them on The Strip, too. Fruitcakes on the street/Struttin’ naked through the crosswalk in the middle of the week…

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The guy in green was a street performer. I’m not sure about the other guy.

Fifteen years ago, it used to be easy to pick out the “ladies of the evening” but now it’s not. They blend in with the other young women dressed for a night on the town. Apparently, styles for the party crowd have evolved to the point where many of the women dress in short, tight dresses with stilettos. This is not a condemnation nor an approval, merely a fact. And maybe a little awe and envy on my part at how those women can actually walk in stilettos when my feet were hurting in cushy Skechers. I go for younger women/ Lived with several awhile …

It was a good trip. One of the best since we got married in Las Vegas over ten years ago.

It was different, though. In the past I’ve worried about my mom when we were gone. I didn’t have to do that this time. Her 89th birthday would have been last Wednesday on the 30th. I was glad to not be home on that day. I think it was better to be in a different place. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes…

I always worry about my animals when we’re away but this is the first time I’ve had dogs and been away for that long. Charlie and Sammy both survived kennel life well and Charlie the Survivor actually did better than Sammy. Sammy was very nervous and had to be checked out by the vet on staff to make sure there weren’t any bad issues with him (there weren’t, thank goodness). Charlie, being the survivor that he is, just rolled with it. I think that maybe because he’s old, he’s lived through a lot and nothing much phases him anymore. …some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic but I’ve had a good life all the way.

Not a bad place to be in life, that’s for sure.

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Both dogs were very happy to see me and insisted on lap time.

So which Jimmy Buffet song are you humming now?

3:47 pm

 

 

My Husband, the TSA Magnet

June 2nd, 2018 11:06 PM

Last Monday,  when we traveled to Las Vegas, I was reminded of how Dennis is a magnate for airport security. It’s been that way for the past 15 years or so.

Dennis’ checked luggage is searched on most flights. Mine has only been searched once during the close to twenty years we’ve been traveling together.

Dennis has been the recipient of countless TSA random searches. I’ve never had one (knock on wood).

When going through customs in Mexico, you press a button to determine if your bag gets searched or not. Red means search. Green means no search. Dennis always gets Red.

I’m convinced all this scrutiny, random or otherwise, is the result of something that Dennis did in an airport during the spring of 2002, before we were married.

This was shortly after the shoe-bombing attempt happened in December of the prior year. Air-travel security was still being redefined after 9/11. Tensions were running high in the airports in general. Many people were still afraid to travel by air, and those who did were often nervous and wary of their fellow passengers. Security was viligant. Very viligiant.

Dennis and I were, once again, traveling to Las Vegas. We had checked in, got our boarding passes and cleared security.  We were early getting to our gate, as we always are.  As we sat there waiting to board, I noticed a lot of security guards milling around. I didn’t think much of it. At first.

Within fifteen minutes, our little gate had at least ten officials — both security guards and police officers. There were a few suited men milling around, as well. They  looked like FBI agents look on TV. People were starting to look nervous, whispering to each other and looking around for something or someone suspicious that would warrant all the security. I was getting nervous, too, as it became clear that whatever or whoever was drawing their interest was in our area.

Little did I know that the culprit was sitting right next to me.

As a group of four sheriff deputies descended upon us, Dennis leaned over and said to me, “I know what I did. Don’t worry, it’ll be okay.”

That was it. The sheriffs politely escorted Dennis away to a closed door room near our gate.

I was astonished. What should I do? Should I call a lawyer? Should I try to follow him inside the room? He couldn’t have done anything that bad, could he?

All these thoughts were going through my head while several gates of waiting passengers were staring at me as if I was part of some evil plot. The older woman and her husband who were sitting next to me changed seats. I tried to be nonchalant as if this sort of thing happened all the time. Nothing to worry about. Nothing at all.

After ten minutes, it was getting close to the time to board, and still no Dennis. What should I do if they start to board the plane? I couldn’t leave without him, could I?

Of course I couldn’t. Not because I am noble, but because I realized that Dennis was holding both our boarding passes.

Another five minutes passed, and I was ready to start hounding the gate agents for information, when I saw Dennis hurrying down the hallway towards me. He was flustered, but he looked unharmed.

Our fellow passengers in gate area didn’t look happy to see him.

What had he done to cause such a ruckus?

He had hid extra cash in his sock and as he was walking to the gate it shifted. While I was in the ladies room, he took off his shoe in the hallway and adjusted his sock. That was it.

Apparently airport security saw him take off his shoe on video and out of an abundance of caution, called for extra security, detained Dennis, checked his shoes and his sock and eventually let him go.

Our flight left a few minutes late that day due to Dennis and we had four very large, very imposing “passengers” that just happened to be seated all around us. I used the quotes because these passengers weren’t waiting for the flight before or during Dennis’ ordeal, nor did they have any carry on luggage. They didn’t read, talk to each other or nap during the flight. They all just sat there, alert. Once we landed in Las Vegas, these passengers didn’t take the tram to the luggage area with the rest of the passengers on the plane. They never did show up at the luggage carousel, either. I am convinced that the airline bumped several passengers to put security on the flight in the seats around us. I have to say, I felt very safe flying on that flight. I don’t think we’ve ever been safer on a plane than we were that day.

I haven’t thought about that story for awhile until we flew out of Milwaukee on Monday. Dennis and I now have TSA precheck, which means we can bypass normal security lines. We don’t have to take out our plastic baggies out to be x-rayed or take off our shoes or belts. It’s almost like traveling pre-9/11 except for getting our bag scanned and walking through a body scanner.

However, two or three times a day, a random bag check is flagged on a precheck TSA passenger. And guess who got flagged? Dennis, of course.

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Here is Dennis waiting for a TSA agent to search his bag. He no longer hides cash in his socks.

Thankfully, this check didn’t require security guards and closed door rooms. Just a quick check of his backpack and we were back on track.

The sock story has become somewhat of a legend in our house and we laugh about it now. But to this day, I still always carry my own boarding pass.

June 2nd, 11:59PM