slowpoke & joe - adrift in seattle

A girl, an ontological dilemma and a puppy stumble through Seattle

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Unripe plums and cherry pits

The weather's nice and Joe's been dallying outside more, now at an age where he's content not to be hanging about under the desk.

The cherry tree has tons of red if a bit bitter cherries, the squirrels, crows and other birds are making short work of them and drop the pits on our deck, with shreds of fruit still clinging to them. Joe's never been food motivated (although perhaps that too is changing) but he must have been gobbling them down, with a chaser of rock hard plums.

The effect on his digestive system can be imagined and he had to be rushed outdoors on the hour every hour starting at 3 a.m. After a day of white rice he seems to be on the mend, but unlike the teenager after a bout with Tequila, he hasn't lost his taste for cherry pits so I can't let him out alone.

It's funny because he's been out there for weeks with the cherries, leaving them largely alone and then suddenly they're as irresistible as crack.

He's a few days from breaking the one year mark, so maybe lots will change as this landmark birthday is passed. I'll let you know.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Joe is lost and found

Joe loves water, as much water as his webbed feet can have at. We usually walk up and over the hill to Lake Washington to tiny little coves. This little ribbon beaches are a few feet of pebble beach where it's possible to throw a ball for Joe to retrieve.

On a beautiful sunny day, there is a lot of competition for lakeshore and all our usual spots were taken. We headed further down the lakeshore where the coves are cut away by cliffside. At that point, there is a boulder retaining wall. From above it looked to be only 2 feet (less than a meter) high, an easy leap up or down for Joe. So down he leapt and I stood above and threw the ball. He jumped out into the rolling surface of the lake intent on the ball, his shoulders rolling heavily with every stroke. This always amuses me, the way his shoulders pull at the water.

And he nabbed the ball and swam back. His paws dug into the dirt capping the boulder wall, and it became slick and muddy. His paws didn't find purchase and slid back onto the boulder. This for some reason frightened Joe and he wouldn't try to jump up from the lake onto the boulder wall. His eyes were wide with alarm. He circled whining and pacing in front of the wall but couldn't be coaxed into making another attempt to jump up. At over 75 pounds, he weighs too much for me to pull up, even a couple of feet. He was out of his head with fear. And suddenly I was too, as there was no way for me to get him.

I grabbed my coat and started to run down the trail to where the boulder wall was shorter. As I ran away from Joe his whining turning to whimpers and heart-wrenching cries, I couldn't see him but I could hear him crashing around in the water. Roughly 75 feet away, I found a place to get down, there was no choice but to jump from the wall into the snowmelt of Lake Washington.

I waded 10 feet from shore into the Lake calling to him before he noticed me through his panic. When he finally espied me, he was the very picture of joy as he bounded through the waves to me. I was soaked to the hips in icy water, my sneakers filled, my hands covered with mud as we clambered out of the lake. But I did have my puppy again and all the horrible scenarios that had run through my mind in the minutes I'd run down the trail were now receding.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

On a brief hiatus, back next week. Sorry.

Thanks for coming -

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sometimes I wish I was my own dog

Joe, like all dogs, lives in the present moment. His life is good: lots of exercise, healthy food, yummy bones, two people who love him and play with him. And except for the times when he doesn't get what he wants, he is happy.

Often he's joyously happy. And sometimes I'm a wee bit envious; it's hard for me to enjoy things as much as Joe does; it's hard for me to not live (mentally) in the past and the future; it's hard to relax as completely and sleep as soundly.

It seems like a pretty excellent deal, the dog's life in relatively prosperous countries.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Eau de great stinking corpse lily

Joe is so consistently well-behaved that we've not been faced with a disaster that demands he go to obedience school. B. doesn't really believe in them anyway.

However, Joe is now 10 months old and strong - very strong. With a hop to grab an especially delicious looking stick, I can be nearly pulled over. It's infrequent that he becomes oblivious of my presence at the other end of the leash, but it does happen. And I hate to be lurched off my feet, as if at sea, while only walking my puppy.

This is Joe's first spring and he is very charmingly attracted to flowers and plants he's never seen before. It's hard not to melt at the sight of your puppy breathing in the fragrance of Iris. Even after you've been yanked 3 feet to give him the pleasure.

It's sad too to realize that this is simply 'cataloging' for him, now that he recognizes that 'that' flower has 'that' smell, he'll never do it again. Because in some sad silly species-chauvinistic way, I'd like him to enjoy the scent of flowers.

And perhaps if I can find a great stinking corpse lily, he would.

In a month, though, flower-appreciating or not, off we go to Obedience School.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Swimming Lessons 2

Joe is nearly 10 months old now, and he's taken to swimming. He's fascinated with water but thus far will only really swim in Lake Washington as he can run and hop into the little waves before having to swim. And he's achieved a mean dog-paddle.

Marymoor Park offers 4 different dog coves but he'd have to jump off a rock to actually do any swimming. For months, we've been trying to coax him off the rocks and into the stream but no dice.

He'd clamber around on the rocks, longingly watching other dogs leap into the stream and set out against the current. Whimpering with frustration, he'd dance on the rocks and slide into the drink, claws and neck outstretched.

But finally he tentatively set his nose into the current and set out a few feet after a stick. He turned back towards the shore and saw me n' B. cheering him on - after reassuring himself that he could get out of the water and back in on his own, he was off! He saw probably 21' into the stream which has a current strong enough to drift a fishing boat past relatively quickly.

His delight and dog pride were obvious and visible for about 3 minutes. And then he found a particularly interesting puddle of dog pee and all was forgotten.

(Now that the rains have stopped, I'll bring my camera out again)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The destructive omnivore

Joe, has suddenly and inexplicably developed a taste for generally unconsumable items: my rugby coat, my baseball cap, a tire tread, plastic grocery bags.

This comes essentially without warning. He's been able to safely be with household items up until this week. Nothing's changed except he's older, 9 months and 3 weeks. His schedule remains the same, he's home alone never longer than 5 hours and usually only 2-4 hours.

Nonetheless, his palate has evolved from bones, rawhide chews and kongs to more exotic fare - my clothing and tires.

And he doesn't seem to connect his stomach and excetory woes to his new eating habits. Everyday I've done a quick patrol to make sure no items are available for consumption, but like a gourmand, he simply expands his range.

Today, he pulled the plastic grocery bag out of the garbage, simply to enjoy it's delicate texture and for the frisson of ripping it into miniscule shreds. (Making it very hard to know exactly how much he ingested).

That mystery will, no doubt, be solved with tomorrow's yard work.

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