Tag Archive | Walking the Dog

“Ah, Interesting”

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During the cold snap, we didn’t take Lila outside for a walk, except for one day when the temperature got to be ten degrees above zero. A couple of days before, we went shopping for dog booties. Lila’s paws weren’t used to the subzero temperatures. Arctic blasts never used to bother her but now that she’s almost 12-years-old, the cold took its toll on her. After her outdoor potty breaks, she had a hard time walking back to the house. Her rear paw couldn’t bare the bite of the cold any longer. She held her back paw high to keep it off the crunchy snow. We found a small pet store not far from our house, which had a large selection of booties.

”Hello. What’s your return policy?” I asked the man who worked there. “In case these boots don’t fit our dog.”

”Since it’s nearing the end of the season, we’d like to get them back within the week. We’d like them back without any scuff marks.”

”Ok, thanks. These should work,” I said.

”Make sure to wrap them snug, so they don’t slip off. Have your dog walk close to you. It’s best if they don’t run.” I nodded yes while I thought about the times our other dog lost one bootie here and then another bootie there while we were on our walks. “Try to keep your dog out of snow banks too, because they fall off and then there’s no way you can find it.” Been there and done that too, I thought. Where was this guy 20 years ago, when I bought booties for our dog, Music?

We purchased the boots, which practically cost more than what I paid for mine, and went home. The next morning, with the temperature still hovering below zero, I fastened them onto Lila. I wrapped the Velcro as tightly as I could. Lila pranced about trying to get used to the feeling and probably wondered how to get them off. Each step was a quick jaunt of touching the floor then lifting her paw back up again. I sent her outside where she continued her prancing style. At times, she reminded me of a bucking bronco. One of the booties fell off and landed on top of the snow, which sent me out in my parka to retrieve it.

Lila didn’t feel much better about the booties when I put them on her before our walk that afternoon. After we got outside, she ran and hopped in every snow bank on the way. When we got to the trail, Lila excitedly ran up to a chocolate lab and a yellow lab. Lila usually doesn’t get close to other dogs. It was like she wanted one of them to get the strange things off. The other dogs didn’t wear booties and their owner didn’t have them on leashes. The labs were being walked by a young man who asked, “Do you feed your dog that corn?” My husband had a plastic bag of corn from Gag Gift Gone Good. My husband didn’t hear him, with all the commotion of trying to settle Lila down.

”We feed the squirrels,” I said. Since it was quite cold, I didn’t tell him the story of Gag Gift Gone Good.

”It’s really bad for dogs’ digestive systems,” he said. “They’ve been finding it over there by those trees,” he pointed the way.

”Oh, sorry. We won’t put it out there any more,” my husband and I chimed as we continued on our way. I thought how if he had his dogs on leashes, he could prevent them from going over by the corn, but I didn’t say anything. Maybe he didn’t see the sign that says dogs must be leashed. We said we’d dump the corn in the marsh, but we ended up throwing it in the garbage.

”Oops,” I said to my husband. Oh well. At least the booties stayed on. 🙂

Never say, “oops.” Always say, “Ah, interesting.” ~Author unknown

Another Mile…

While on a walk the other day, our dog, Lila, acted like a puppy with the way she jumped about after my husband found a stick for her to fetch. A tiny thought came to me of how agile Lila is for her age of 11 years and that maybe we shouldn’t be playing fetch any more. As we watched her run happily through melting tufts of snow, I chased the thought from my mind. She looks great, I thought. That expensive dog food must be working its magic on her.

Not too much longer after that run, my husband and Lila came home after a quick jaunt, with Lila limping. It looked like something was bothering her front paw. No whines escaped from her during the incident where she was running and suddenly came to a stop. The quick halt must have been too jarring for her. We didn’t find any swelling or bumps on her legs, paws, or ankles. Since it was Sunday, we called the vet the next day. Betsy said to watch Lila for a day and call if it got worse. We waited until that evening and made an appointment for the following day. Even though Lila could climb up and down steps okay, it seemed her limp was getting worse, or we were imagining it was getting worse. Plus, we didn’t want to delay any repairs, if there was something that needed to be fixed.

Lila was excited to go for a car ride the next day. Lila’s tail slammed against the back of the car seat on the way to the vet. When we arrived, we saw this silly sign.

We called the office, and one of the techs came out to our car to get Lila. It felt strange because it was the first time we let Lila see the doctor by herself. People are not allowed in the office, due to the coronavirus.

A short time later, the doctor called to let us know Lila seemed all right, but he thought it was some sort of soft tissue issue and that perhaps arthritis was the cause of the limping. “She is getting older,” he said.

“How long do you think we need to wait before we take her out for a walk?” I asked.

“Why don’t you wait until Saturday, and take it slow,” Doc told us. We were told to only give Lila leash walks for the time being. The tech delivered our girl back to us, all wags and smiles. She got two treats and a bottle of pain killers, which have been helping her.

Lila and I took a very small walk the next day. Lila looked up at me when we got back to our front door. She gave me a look like, You’ve got to be kidding me. Is this all the further we’re going to go? I dropped her off at home, and continued on for a longer walk by myself. Not holding onto a leash with a dog at the other end felt awkward, when I walked without my faithful companion. It was a straight walk, with no stops, no sniffing, no pointing at squirrels or chipmunks, no head tosses to show me the birds, no picking up messes.

The next day, we went for a little longer walk – about a mile – because the limp was gone and has stayed away. Today we will go about another mile. Maybe next week we can go three. Every mile together is a gift. 🙂

Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Under the Steeple

low angle view of clock against sky

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“Hi Evie,” I said enthusiastically.  “It’s Mary Ann, from choir.”  Even though I’ve only been a part of choir for a short time, I find it surprising that I miss it so much.  Plus, having been sheltering at home, I was extra excited to see someone I know in the flesh instead of over a computer screen.  

Evie was one of the first people to talk to me when I joined and has been a member for a long time.  We are in the alto section together, and Evie helps me get the notes right.  I can hear her very well, since she sits behind me.  We chatted for a short time, while we were both walking our dogs.  We were sure to keep a good distance from each other so as not to spread any unknown germs.  Evie said she misses everybody and can’t wait until we can all be together again.  I feel the same and look forward to singing with our group again.

Our choir stopped getting together the beginning of March because of COVID-19.  At that time, we were getting ready for the most important weekend of the year, Easter.  The first time I attended practice was last September.  I knew it was time for me to join because the choir sang songs that were not in the missal or worship aid.  I wanted to sing those songs too!  During my first practice, I seriously got chills while we were practicing one of the songs.  The little hairs on the back of my neck stood out.  I couldn’t believe I was among so many talented people.  Surely, I thought, This must be what angels sound like.  Not only did everyone sing beautifully, there is a comedic connection among the members that bonds the group together. It’s not only the music that I miss, it’s the good humor that comes along with the ins and outs of practicing to become better.

Another thing I miss is the cream-colored robe.  The first few times I wore it, I felt uncomfortable.  The robe is linen and covers from neck to toes.  It sometimes sticks to my clothes and bunches up when I’m walking.  I usually wear a t-shirt and cotton pants underneath because everything can get really warm.  I started to appreciate the robe when people I’ve never met came up to me after the service to tell me how great the choir sounded that day.  Now when I tune in to watch the live stream, I see how empty the entire space looks.  The choir loft seems especially bare.  Chris, our organist, is there every Sunday with one of the cantors, and I try to sing along.  After one of the first Sundays of the shelter-at-home, Chris emailed to let us know how much he misses seeing us in the loft.  Chris closed his email by signing it “Your Organ Grinder.”  🙂

When people get back to under the steeple, I will happily wear my cream-colored robe no matter how warm I get.  As long as we sing, we pray twice, and we all can use double the prayers right now. 

To sing is to pray twice. ~St. Augustine 

Cheering Us On

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Lila and I saw this sidewalk art when we went on our walk this morning.  It’s a new creation that appeared since our last visit.  The creative designs greeted us just as we came out of the tunnel.  As we approached the drawings, the birds’ songs seemed to get louder as if they were welcoming us.  It was like the little creatures knew what I was reading and were cheering us on.  It seemed like we were entering a magical forest.  The birds quieted down as we went on our way to walk around the rest of the path.

Hopefully, these signs will cheer you on too!

Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death. ~Author Unknown

 

Sparkling Spring

 

Eighteen inches of snow is never a welcomed sight, especially in the spring. Memories of last weekend, when the snow fell on us, lingered in my mind yesterday morning.  It felt like winter was never going to leave.  That snow was heavy and swirled about in the blowing wind.  It blanketed everything around and made me dread it even though it left sparkling flakes in the night.  Those sparkles would have appeared more beautiful early in the winter instead of early in the spring.  It felt awkward to have to stay in during a blizzard when all winter long Lila and I have been going for long walks on Saturdays.

Yet, not everyone was disappointed by the four letter word that begins with the letter “S.” Lila loved it.  Even though the snow was all the way up to her belly, she ran and jumped around like she was going through an obstacle course.  As she came back into the house, she ended up bringing a bunch of the snow along with her.  The flakes clung to her black fur.  She must have liked the cool feeling it gave her because she didn’t shake it off.  Lila tends to walk in the snow when we go for our winter walks.

After Lila and I left the house for our walk at 8:30 yesterday morning, the birds greeted us with happy songs. (We didn’t hear a peep out of any birds last weekend.)  The sun was peaking over to warm us and the bright snow spotted the grass making us wonder if winter was still holding on.  The temperature was 30 degrees.  We still had to trudge through some snow piles when we walked to the path.  The more we walked, the warmer it got.  My winter jacket, hat, and mittens were no longer needed, and I tied my jacket around my waist.  Others walking around the park had been more confident in the weather and wore lighter clothing.  The sun was warmer than I thought, and the wind was nowhere to be found.  It got to be 40 degrees by the time we got back home.

In spots, the green grass sprung out at us. Some trees had buds to show us.  Cardinals chirped a lovely tune to us.  Canadian honkers honked at us.  Robins hopped close to us.  Other birds dove in and out of trees around us.  Squirrels hid from us.  Wild turkeys flew up into a tree branch to get away from us.  The day brought us temperatures in the 60s.  It looks like all these things in nature think spring is sparkling through to leave winter behind.  I guess I think so too?  Whatever happens next, Lila will be happy.

Under the giving snow blossoms a daring spring. ~Terri Guillemets

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

Hanging On . . .

While on walks at the preserve with Lila our dog this fall, I snapped a few pictures.  Seeing some of the leaves still hanging on during mid-November was quite a change to what we’re used to in Minnesota – our fall weather was so nice this year.  Now that Mr. Frost has visited us, almost all of the leaves are resting on the ground waiting for the snow to fall.

In autumn, don’t go to jewelers to see gold; go to the parks! ~Mehmet Murat ildan

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

Happy Birthday, Kona – One Year Old!

Dear Kona,

When I first met you, you were a little fluff of beautifully colored fur. Your little eyes peeked at us through heavy eyelids. As you walked a few steps and found a boot to sleep on, we wondered if you thought it was one of your brothers or sisters. We knew you missed them.  After a short nap, you woke up to make a very small puddle on the carpeting in your new home. You looked at us again like you wondered if that was okay. I knew then that you would learn what you needed to know because German Shepherds are smart, and you live with good teachers.

After you grew a lot and spring arrived, you were no longer carried into our house like a little baby, but entered like a bountiful bunch of energy.  The afternoon you came to stay at our house, we spent our time together in the backyard. I fastened your collar to a rope that was secured around our maple tree. Lila had her rope too. I spent most of the afternoon untangling both of you. You watched me plant zinnias in a garden you couldn’t reach because the rope was too short (for a reason), and I swear you barked a warning to me that bees were buzzing about my head because that was the only noise I could hear. I knew then that you would be a good watch dog.

Kona and Lila

After I planted the flowers, I grabbed the hose. The hose unraveled as I walked with it over to the garden. When I turned on the water, you pawed at the liquid like it was a new creation. You whinnied and whined and tried to get a drink. I knew then that you could make an adventure out of something ordinary.

When you came into our house and the water bowl was empty, you pounded on it with your paw to let us know you needed more. After I brought you back to your own house, you showed me where your treats were by standing patiently in front of the cupboard in the kitchen. I knew then that you would always be a good communicator.

Kona on the Front Steps

Whenever someone you know comes to your house for a visit, you make them feel very welcome. You murmur several greetings or maybe you sound like a hyena. It seems like you greet certain people in different ways, either with a tall hug, a nudge with your nose, or an accident on the floor. When this happens, we know you love us!

It’s been a fun year getting to know you.  I’ve enjoyed the walks we’ve gone on with Laura and Lila around the preserve, Lake Harriet, or the dog park.  I can always tell when you’re ready for a break by how you sit by the water bowl.  Sometimes I wonder if any water ever ends up where you want it to go!

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I know you’ve learned a lot in a short time, but don’t forget that you’re very lucky to have these two to love!  They’ve done a great job of taking care of you, kept you out of dangerous situations, and helped shape the delightful dog you are today.

Laura, Mike and Kona

Laura, Michael, and Kona
Spring 2015

Love, (You know me as) Your Grandma 🙂

 Kona and me Jan 15 2015

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!