Saturday, January 30, 2010


I went to my Camera Flash Made Easy class today. It was a long day for the brain and I didn't get a ton of sleep last night but it was fun. As predicted a learned a whole lot but really I just need to practice a bunch. More on that later. After I've fired my flash in your face about 160 times.

I had to scurry home, though, to grab keys and pick up the Maggie Dog for her overnight here. There were missteps and foolishness and my sweet Aunt Fanny it's cold out there. Not the sort of night where it's OK to screw up an address and go 3 long blocks out of one's way.

She didn't want to come with me. She tried to hide upstairs and I don't know these people and wasn't sure if anyone was home so there I was standing foolishly in the foyer not wanting to poke around the house, trying to decide how to convince her to come to me. She'd come just within tongue's reach to get a treat but she wouldn't descend the stairs completely. I finally tricked her. I rattled her food dish until she came into the kitchen, gave her a treat then grabbed her collar and leashed her up.

She was much better on the street. Well, better and worse. She was more of a puller when she wanted to sniff something but she was calm enough to make eye contact with me if I called her name and she accepted treats and love on the street.

The pet food store was closed which is really too bad since I don't have any food for her. I have some treats and I've got rice and I'm thawing some chicken. I'm pissed they were closed, I was sure they were open until 8! Tomorrow morning will have to include a trip to the pet food store, if not for food at least for treats.

I've concluded that, despite being a deeply nervous dog, she's actually quite brave. She continues to be interested in places and things even when she's frightened. She continues to stand her ground when the cats act foolish, while remaining properly wary of them.

The cats are a problem. They're a huge problem. As long as we all sit quite still they manage to keep quiet but as soon as anyone moves there's a lot of bushy tails and throaty growls and the occasional outright attack. I was trying to pet them as they stared at the dog while puffed out to thrice their size. That helped a bit, I thought, but then the dog went off to get a sip of water and they attacked her. She had to be rescued and I yelled. Nothing like a firmly mixed message I suppose.

I have to play this experiment out to the fullest extent. I have to try to sleep in my own bed instead of chickening out and sleeping on the couch. Tomorrow I have to get up off the couch and do the things that need doing around the place so everyone has to move about the place and pass near each other and not have it end in a blood bath. We'll also go out for a couple of longish walks to give everyone a break but co-habitation is key.

This whole process of deciding about a new dog is even harder than I thought it might be. In some ways helping Emily to die was easier because I asked for clarity and I knew her so well and I knew she was declining so I could make a fully informed decision. There are many more variables to this one. Not the least of which is that this particular dog really needs one human being on whom she can rely and when that happens I have no doubt that she will seemingly transform. In truth she'll simply finally be able to be her real self because she won't have to worry about everyone else so much. I'm pretty sure that self will be pretty darned cool but the more I get to know her the more I also think that she'll be fairly strong willed and not a little sneaky. Spoiled by my old dog I gave Maggie a half a large biscuit then brought the other half into the living room. I set it on the coffee table while I wrenched my shoes off and she, without even looking to me for confirmation, sniffed the second half once, tilted her head for the right angle and snarfed that fucker right down. She's smart. She knows what's for dogs and that she's a dog so she has a right to it.

She's not a lap dog despite being a great lap size. She'll get close but not really in your lap. She stood next to the couch for a long while so I could scritch her, which she loved. It also inspired me to consider testing my new showerhead, which I chose specifically for ease of dog washing.

Making this decision feels very lonely. I think that's part of why I'm feeling the need to share the process pretty extensively here. What in the name of Steve Jobs would I have done in the time before blogging? I know that making this sort of decision with someone else presents its own challenges. I know that I am capable of taking Maggie in and giving her the kind of life she needs. I also know that with her issues and with the cats' issues that project would be a long, intricate and perhaps all-consuming one for a while. Maybe a long while. My cats are stubborn.

I don't need to decide anything tonight. I just need to press on with the experiment. Tomorrow night, when Maggie is safely back on a bed in her current home, it'll be time to think on it some more.


  1. Hug for you.
    Scritches for Maggie.
    And a blast from the new showerhead for the cats.

  2. These introductions are HUGELY stressful. You'll need a day off to recuperate from playing animal social worker.

  3. This is a trial visit, right? Take time. She won't be Emily.

    I know you have told yourself that intellectually, but it is probably still in you emotionally. I know for me, even though it's been two years since Kotsie died, now that we have Jack, I still expect him him to be Kotsie, even though my brain tells me No.

    And you still need to get to know one another. And ALSO - really important - you're the human in this relationship, so you have to accept that you may need to be the trainer to help her become the Good Dog she needs to be. I am facing that every day with Jack - just because Kotsie was the perfect dog, it doesn't me I don't have to help Jack learn how to be one.

    If you keep Maggie, take an obedience class as if you had never ever learned it before. Seriously. All dogs are different.

    Good luck