Tag Archive | Lila the Dog

Better Than a Rat’s Tail

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Lila & Kona

I thought Lila, our dog, looked fine, but we kept hearing comments about how she looked “plump” or “overweight” or “is she getting bigger?” which made my heart feel sick since my husband and I make a point of exercising her regularly. Last summer, it also seemed like her energy level decreased.  Then, last November, we noticed her tail looked like a rat’s tail.  There were big splotches of fur missing.  We thought she might have a thyroid problem so we went to visit the vet.

Doc felt her fur and agreed that it didn’t have the luster that a Labrador’s coat usually has. Lila stepped on the scale, and her weight was the highest it’s ever been even though we cut back on her food.  The vet took a blood test to see if Lila had a thyroid issue, and sure enough, a few days later, he called to tell us that she needed to go on thyroid medication. We were surprised, since no one else in the family has a thyroid problem.  😉

Last weekend, Lila had another checkup, and when she hopped on the scale, she was 12 pounds lighter. Doc and his assistant were surprised to see that she lost so much weight since her now luxurious fur can make her look a little puffed out.  “Her fur is so soft.  She looks like a stuffed animal,” the assistant said.  Her fur is as soft now as the day we brought her home, and thankfully, Lila’s energy has increased too.  Doc would like her to lose a little more weight because it’s hard on dog’s joints and they can get arthritis if they get too heavy, so we’ve been instructed to cut back a little more on her food.  Of course, we’d never let her get too skinny, and she wouldn’t let us do that either, but I’m hoping the sticks and whatever else she munches on in the backyard don’t have a lot of calories!

Now with spring arriving, Lila’s beautiful coat is shedding and blotches of fur are showing up on the carpeting, but the fur loss is not as bad as it was before she went on medication.  Seeing the fur on the carpet is so much better than looking at a rat’s tail!

Hiding Among the Trunks of Towering Trees

The minute my husband walked into the door last Monday night, I could tell something was wrong.

“Lila really got into something,” he said. He did not look happy. They had just come home from their walk, and according to my husband, Lila, our dog, was covered in something disgusting.

“It can’t be that bad,” I thought to myself because Lila’s not one to get into too much stuff.

“We have to give her a bath. She couldn’t go back in the van. The van is still down by the park. She’s covered with whatever it is she got into.”

Lila can get into a bit of something small in the yard, and she rubs her neck into the offending odor. Like that’s not good enough, she turns to rub the other side of her neck into it too. Usually, it’s not that bad and we can’t even tell she’s trying to smell like something else. This little routine usually happens after a bath, but it’s been a few weeks since she’s had one.

Since the hoses are tucked away for the winter, and we didn’t want to drag them outside, turn on the outdoor faucets and freeze the little girl into an ice cycle, I opened the basement window while my husband attached the hose to the laundry tub. We pushed the hose through the window out into our backyard. While my husband went to get Lila from the front yard, I went to turn on the flood light in the back and then went to the linen closet to grab some towels.

Once I saw both of them in the back yard, I couldn’t believe what I saw. I was surprised to see the entire side of Lila’s beautiful black coat smeared with something orange. We’ve never seen her get so covered with anything before.

After I got the thumbs up sign from my husband, I ran downstairs back to the laundry tub, and turned on the water. Lila didn’t mind getting a bath outside even though it was cold out. The water was warm, but I wondered if she was confused as to why we were washing away the treasure she found. She must have been disappointed that we didn’t like her discovery.

20151011_072854Lila after a bath at Lulu & Luigi’s
a few weeks ago.

A few days later, my husband and Lila went down to the park in the light of day to see what it was that Lila had gotten into. Our suspicions were confirmed when he saw two rotting pumpkins sitting in the park hiding among the trunks of towering trees.  We know she likes pumpkin because we give it to her as a treat either frozen with plain yogurt in her Kong or just straight from the can into her food bowl. We were surprised she liked it enough to glide through it with one side of her entire body – especially when it was rotten.

“That’s okay, Lila,” I said. “You needed a bath to be ready for Thanksgiving company.”

Perhaps she just wanted to be a part of all the festivities!

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

Dance of the Season

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A dainty trot and prance is what Lila, our dog, likes to do when we go on walks in the fall. Lila is a black Labrador retriever mixed with Chesapeake Bay retriever (we think). Since we adopted Lila from the Animal Humane Society and there wasn’t a lot of background information, our vet guessed that she’s mixed with Chesapeake Bay retriever.  Doc thought this because she has a large barreled chest, and, when she was younger, her curly fur traveled down the length of her spine. Her happy, affectionate, and quiet temperament must be from her Chesapeake Bay side, and her outgoing, kind, and even-tempered traits must be from her Labrador side. But when we get to the path between the bridge and the main walkway on our way to the preserve, her moves become similar to what a smaller dog would do during a circus act! She lifts her paws trying not to step on the scattered leaves. The texture of the leaves or her fear of there being something underneath must make her afraid to step on them. Lila struggles and tries to place her paws on the dark spots where the leaves aren’t covering the way.

That path doesn’t get maintained like the main path. In the winter, the snow doesn’t get removed, but we manage to walk along without having to trot or prance. Other walkers’ footprints make a pathway. The ones who traveled there before us make a manageable trail. Our footprints help to make a trail too.  When we get to the main path in the fall, Lila relaxes because most of the leaves have been swept away.

Watching her walk among the leaves is like watching her perform a doggy hopscotch. No need for drawing numbered boxes or throwing rocks to play this game.  I guess we’ll never know which side the prancing and trotting comes from.  Maybe it’s just Lila’s own dog dance of the season.  Her rhythm matches the fluttery way fall leaves dance to the ground and how waters of the babbling creek randomly hop over jutting rocks.

Lila’s performance is always something to look forward to this time of year!

Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances. ~Maya Angelou

Sometimes My Dog is Smarter Than Me…

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When Lila and I go on our walks through the preserve, we travel along an asphalt path to get there. That path leads to a cement sidewalk that goes alongside a creek underneath a bridge.  Sometimes we’re surprised to see the creek overflowing.  The sidewalk is hidden by the walls of the bridge, and we don’t know if we have to go around until we reach the hidden spot. When it’s overflowing, Lila knows we’re going to turn around and walk up the hill, cross the street, and walk back down the other side. With so much rain this year, the creek has wandered and floated above its usual spot to flood the sidewalk many times. Sometimes the water settles back down by the time we get back where we started from. When that happens, we’re able to walk underneath the bridge on our way home. Once in a while, we continue walking a little further along the asphalt path to another entrance, but that’s not the usual way we go.

When we go on these walks, we listen and hear birds chirping, the sound of traffic going by, rustling of leaves, hoots of owls talking back and forth, and little critters scurrying about breaking twigs or crunching leaves. I like when our footsteps make a rhythmic sound, but that doesn’t last long because Lila goes off to sniff something along the path or stops to munch on a blade of tall grass.  Not only are the sounds different each day, so is the feeling of the air – either sticky and hot or a little cooler and dry.  Lila’s nose twitches a little differently now as new fall odors appear.

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On our walks, we always leave the preserve the same way we entered.  The time she reminded me the way to go was when we took the longer pathway – the one we don’t usually take. Her snout pointed to lead me to the direction we needed to go.

“Oh, that’s right Lila,” I said, as I patted her on the back.  “That’s the way we entered.  Good girl!”  I was really daydreaming, I thought.  It must have been the sounds of the preserve that distracted me!

I’m glad Lila was paying attention.  Maybe it’s her way of letting me know that sometimes my dog is smarter than me!

The Love I Gave Stayed…

 

I’d like to think those other dogs are around my family because of me.  I was the first dog they had.  My biological father was a black lab, and my biological mother was a cocker spaniel.  When I first joined my family, I was three years old, and the kids were 11, eight and six.  I cuddled with them, let them brush my fur, and happily ate the dog food they put in front of me.  I was happy to protect them when they went for walks and played games whenever they wanted.  Sometimes I ended up in their beds when they were sleeping, and they didn’t seem to mind.  I was used to being a part of a family like theirs, and it didn’t take me long to get used to them after they adopted me from the Animal Humane Society, a wonderful place that helps pets find new homes.

After I passed away, my family thought they were doing me a favor by waiting a respectable amount of time of six months before getting another dog.  The kids thought Mom and Dad needed a dog because Laura, the oldest kid, was going to go off to college and the other two weren’t far from being really grown up too.  The kids didn’t want Mom and Dad to get lonely!  I didn’t mind when they decided to adopt Lila, a two-year old, beautiful black lab retriever mix.  I knew they wanted another dog because they missed me and my love.  Someone found Lila wandering around in the northern woods of Minnesota covered with 17 wood ticks.  My family found her at the same Animal Humane Society where they found me.

It took a long time for Lila to soften up to the whole family because she was used to living on her own.  We don’t know if she got lost or was abandoned.  I didn’t blame her for wanting to stay away from everyone.  After moving in with her new family, she enjoyed digging holes underneath bushes and hiding from the sun.  Lila seemed so brave when she stayed outside during storms.  After being stuck in the house over winter, she finally softened up to the family.  It took about a year before she fell in love with them, realized she found her home and wasn’t going to have to go anywhere else.  She got comfortable and figured out to stay inside during storms and watch over the family.

When Matt, the youngest kid, went off to college and got an apartment, it wasn’t long before he found Bauer, a beagle and blue heeler mix, and adopted him.  Bauer was around three years old when he moved in with Matt.  When Mom and Dad went to visit them, Bauer was friendly and seemed like he knew the visitors were Matt’s Mom and Dad.  Later that night, when Dad walked by Matt’s bedroom, Bauer growled and Mom and Dad were worried Bauer was mean.  The next day, when Mom held Bauer in her lap and moved his legs because his paws were digging into her shirt, Bauer growled.  Mom growled back.

A few months later, when Matt and Bauer came home for a visit, Bauer acted like he was king of the castle.  Bauer scared Lila, a dog three times his size.  Bauer growled at Lila every time she got close to Matt.  That growl caused Lila’s fur to fall to the floor.  If it was possible for the floor to make a sound each time a piece of fur fell, it would have sounded like a steady drum beating.  Mom tried to keep up with the fur piles, but they bunched up and rolled along like dust bunnies.  By the time Matt and Bauer’s visit was over, Mom was thankful Lila hadn’t gone completely bald.  Now that Bauer has been in the family for a few years, and when he comes to visit, there isn’t as much growling.  Either Bauer got used to them or it could be because Lila stood up for herself a few times by growling back and showing her teeth.

Just as the two of them were getting used to each other, Laura and her hubby got Kona, a German shepherd puppy.  Kona and Lila got along from the start even though Lila tends to keep a respectful distance when she doesn’t want to play.  Thankfully, Kona is learning how to adjust to Lila’s moods.  The first time Kona and Bauer met, they got along very well.  Bauer played with Kona like they were long lost friends.  They wrestled, ran around the sofa and stood staring at each other in puppy play fashion with their legs pointing towards each other.  It seemed like Bauer was happy to be with a dog his size.  The next time they met, Kona wasn’t Bauer’s size, and Bauer wasn’t interested in playing with Kona any more.

Sometimes Mom thinks back to the time when I first started to live with them.  It was a few years after they moved into their house with the white tile kitchen floor.  Mom sweeps the broom, then uses a Swiffer, if the broom didn’t do the job.  She wonders if it was dumb to get two black dogs when they live in a house with a white floor.  Now when Kona and Bauer stop by, brown and gray furs fall waiting to get swept up as well.  Mom can get frustrated and thinks about getting a different floor but sometimes realizes it’s practical to see where the dogs leave dirt.

Mom must not mind the mess too much.  If she did, these other dogs wouldn’t be around the white tile floor.  I like to think Lila, Bauer and Kona are there because I did a good job of training my family.  It looks like the love I gave stayed and it’s being handed down every day.

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

Sun Set Golden on the Horizon

2015_03_29 Pierside Grill

When we approached the host of the restaurant at the Pierside Grill, we had to tip our heads back to see his face.  His long, straight hair was pulled back tight and was the same color of the sand we could see off in the distance.

“Table for four, please.”

“We have a policy that your entire party has to be here before I can show you to your table.”  I looked down at the podium.  The policy was posted beneath the spot where our host was resting his elbows.  He held tightly onto each of his hands as if he felt the same way about the policy as we did.  There was quite a crowd and almost all the tables were full even though it was pretty early in the evening.  I couldn’t imagine which table we would get by the time our party was complete.  The parking lot was far away, and it was probably difficult to find a parking space.

“Oh,” we said together in monotone voices.  The sun was still a little high in the sky and wouldn’t be setting for a while.  A hostess stopped by and ushered a complete party to their table, a table that could have been ours.  My stomach moaned in protest but was only heard by me.

“He’s just parking the car.  He should be here soon,” said Gran.

The host fanned some of the menus back and forth in front of his face as if he was nervous, so we scooted over to the side to make room for other customers.  Some of the sunbathers on the beach were packing up, getting ready to go.  I briefly surveyed some of the tables to see if others were finishing their meals and wondered who might leave next.

When Gramps arrived, our host showed us to our table.

“I saved you this table by the wall,” said the ponytailed man as he tucked a loose strand of hair behind his ear and dealt menus to each of our spots at the table.

“This is great,” exclaimed Katie.  We were surprised to get a spot where we could see the waves of the Gulf gently glide along the shore.  Our waitress brought water, and we ordered coconut shrimp and iced tea.  As we watched the wide open space before us, it seemed as if the beach was a stage, a show for us to watch.  A man rode his bike to make a trail in the sand.  His parrot held tight to the handle bars.  We wondered if the bird was tied to the bars or if it held tightly of its own free will.

Now that the sun was setting lower, the day felt cooler, and dogs were getting their walk along the beach.  A set of black labs that resembled our family dog waded out into the water while being led on leashes.

“Don’t drink the water,” I said to them even though they were too far away to hear.  It was as if they heard my advice and held their heads high, careful not to dip their heads.  They must have tasted the salt of the water sometime before.  Seeing the labs made me wonder how our dog Lila would have liked the beach. When I thought about her earlier that day, I knew she wouldn’t have liked going on a walk with me because it was very warm that day, in the 80s.  Lila loves cooler weather, and I doubted she would want to vacation in Florida because there are snow banks.

As we sipped tea and munched on coconut shrimp, we noticed how more and more people were lining up on the pier ready to watch the sun set.  Our waitress checked with us several times, but we pretended we couldn’t make up our minds as we briefly looked at the menu.  We didn’t want to get ushered out of the restaurant too quickly, and we noticed many tables were empty at that time.  We had gone there to watch the sun slowly slither away on its daily journey.

People of all ages and sizes strolled along the water’s edge while I watched a lady perfecting her hand stand.  Sometimes she tipped right, then left, but most of the times she was able to keep her balance upside down tightly clad in a bikini.  I wondered how the rush of blood to her brain must have felt as I watched a cloud stretch out to make different shapes.  At first that cloud looked like a spoon which somehow turned into the shape of a bird.

We ordered ribs and burgers, which were quickly delivered and deliciously devoured.  As the clouds drifted away, the sky became a pale, soft blue as if it was dimming, ready to sleep and show its stars.  Getting closer to the edge, the sun set golden on the horizon turning parts of the blue sky pink as it set.

Good night soft sky.  See you tomorrow.  It’s always a blessing to see you.

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dog Fish

Taking Lila to a nearby lake to go for a swim was something we’ve been talking about off and on ever since we got her. The only reason we didn’t take her earlier was because Lila has a habit of running away from us when we let her off her leash. Yesterday my husband and I decided to take her to a nearby lake. We had to drive a few miles. If she was going to run away, it would be a long way for her to find her way back home.

As the three of us rode along in our mini-van, Lila sat patiently behind us on the floor with her nose pointing straight ahead. Usually she sits on one of the open seats so she can get a better view. I think she knew something different was happening.  After we parked, got out and walked down the hill to the lake, Lila showed how happy she was by quickly pulling Dad along the path. We walked by a boy fishing off a dock and a couple of men who were with a yellow lab at another dock. The yellow lab had a life jacket hooked up around its waist and was practicing retrieving a bumper from the dock.

“It’s going to be hard for that boy to catch any fish with the dog jumping in and out of the lake!” I said. As we headed a little bit further down the path, we found the perfect spot to let Lila off her leash. Dad threw the tennis ball into the lake, and Lila went after it just like we hoped. She retrieved the ball, turned around and headed back towards us. We cheered her on and told her what a great swimmer she is. As soon as she got out of the water, she shook some of it off on us just to let us know how it felt.  We threw the tennis ball in a couple more times, and Lila did a great job of retrieving it.

Lila has a habit of getting a little wild look in her eyes right before she runs away from us. Having the idea that she might take off, we were always sure to keep a close watch and grabbed onto her collar every time she got out of the water. Now that we know she trained us properly on how to watch out for her, we will try taking her for a swim again someday soon.

As we started to leave the lake, we met a family with two young children carrying fishing poles.

“What’s that?” one of the children asked while pointing at Lila.

“It’s a Dog Fish,” said my husband.

“What’s a Dog Fish?” the little boy asked.  His head was cocked to the side as he looked at our beautiful black lab that was dripping water from her soaking fur.

“Nah, I’m just kidding.  This is our dog.”

“Is it a boy or a girl?” the little girl asked.

“She’s a girl.  Her name is Lila,” said Dad.

They asked their mom if they could pet Lila, and she said yes.  Lila patiently waited until the kids were done.  What our dog really wanted was to explore more of the park.

As the family walked away, I smiled at each of them even though the Mom gave me a little bit of a bewildered look through her sweet smile!  I think she might have appreciated the joke about the Dog Fish, but I don’t know for sure because no one laughed.

It looked like Lila enjoyed her swim because after she ate her dinner, she was mellow for the rest of the night.  She was one worn out Dog Fish!

A person who has never owned a dog has missed a wonderful part of life. ~Bob Barker