Saturday, March 22, 2014

As Prescribed

Skilled SkirterIt has been a winter of getting by. We've all done it. You wore your shit kicking boots to a party. You ate what was in the freezer rather than go out in the cold. You quit trying to dress up your winter coat and just accepted that it was the way you were going to look for the foreseeable future. Really, you just quit trying. Didn't you? Please tell me you did because I did. I really did.

Let me start by saying that I would not classify the past couple of days as warm. Some people would but I would definitely not. They were, however, warmer than it's been in a while.

Yesterday I took the dog to the park in the morning and it was probably his 5th or 6th day off leash in a row. Then we went to the vet and there was a longish wait which we used to work on our please-don't-bark-at-everything protocol. After a short evening walk we had company over and a nice late night walk. This morning we were back in the park for off leash time. We wandered the greenmarket and walked home with friends. This evening we took a long walk, met friends with dogs and friends without dogs, spent time in the bookstore, stopped off to buy some dessert, and headed home.

That paragraph describes the sort of life someone with an energetic young dog, perhaps a terrier, is supposed to live. Lots of input for the brain and lots of output for the body is what keeps the cats (and the sanity) safe. I have not been living that life lo these many months. More importantly my dog has not been living that life.

It's funny how the brain adjusts. I knew that Ed's cat chasing and his barking and reactivity were elevated. I thought it was a setback, though, something that needed hard work. The phrase "buckling down" kept running through my head. Since it has been a winter of (barely) getting by I didn't even try to buckle down because it seemed to hard. Nothing seemed worth it. All of my energy needed to be conserved for staying warm and failing to despair. The extreme difference in my dog's behavior after something as comparatively little as 30 minutes in the park before work in the morning is a revelation.

There's work to be done, to be sure, but it's not as onerous as my winterized brain made it out to be. I mean, a trip to the bookstore? It's like there's something in this for both of us.


  1. dog-related: Rip had a breakthrough this week. i don't know if it's because she's had increased exercise since things warmed up some, allowing her brain to work a little better, but i'll take it.

    tonight we hiked a mile in our neighborhood. she came back panting and i came back sweating. aside from one period of OMGBARKATALLTHETHINGS (directly related to her need to head outside for a bit), she was a dream puppy.

    amazing how we forget that activity and mental work mean our dogs are well behaved, eh? :)

  2. And man, I know this and I'm studying this and yet the amount of difference it made was still a revelation to me! At least it's a pleasant surprise.

  3. it really is funny. like, wtf dog, stop being an ass. think you think back to when dog last had a training session or a good long walk, and brain goes "oooohhhhh..."

    at least, that's how my dog-related revelations usually hit. :)