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2002: Lost People
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CREATURES OF HABIT
7 February 2013
I sometimes think that I spend entirely too much time with the dogs. Our lives have evolved into such a pattern and they read me so clearly that it's a no brainer who is in charge around here. The only thing that gives me a slight edge is that I have opposable thumbs, but if they could get their own meals, it would pretty much be over for the concept of human dominance.
Our days have such incredible predictability.
I almost always wake up somewhere around 4 a.m. When I wake up, the three dogs are asleep in their usual places, Lizzie on a chair, Sheila on the dog bed, and Polly at my waist as I sleep on my side. I get up and leave the quilt over Polly. No dog moves. It's too early for them to be up.
I move to the recliner and settle in there. Polly may or may not decide to join me. If I fall back asleep, which I frequently do, the dogs will let me sleep until I wake up. They won't bark at dogs passing by on the street, they won't try to lick me. If they wake up, they walk quietly into the family room, look at me, and then go back to the living room. They are very considerate (I know this because I often play opossum so they think I'm sleeping when I'm not ready to be up and awake yet).
The SECOND they hear me touch the handle that lowers the foot rest for the recliner, Polly leaps off of the chair and Lizzie and Sheila race in for a morning cuddle. Love ins all around. "She's AWAKE! She's AWAKE!" It's the joy of the second coming every morning.
(I should add that if I can't get back to sleep at 4 a.m. and decide to get up and work in my office, as I am doing now, they totally ignore me because it's not time for their body clocks to be awake yet.)
Fully awake, or still groggy from sleep, there is no avoiding the fact that the dogs. must. be. fed. now.
I stagger to the various spots where they eat and pick up their bowls. Sheila sits calmly in the family room, Polly claws at the backs of my calves, and Lizzie leaps over and over again at my waist until she sees that I really am putting food in the bowls.
There is a moment of peace and calm while all three eat. Lizzie, who went through a year of barely eating anything, now scarfs down every crumb of her breakfast in an instant and then goes to sit behind Polly, waiting for Polly to decide she's full, so Lizzie can have the leftovers. Nobody would dare do that to Sheila.
Throughout most of the day, Lizzie and Sheila mostly do their own thing (sleep) while Polly is firmly attached to my body. If I sit, she must be in my lap. They only time she will leave me alone is if I'm here in my office, then she gets in my chair and sleeps. If she's had enough sleeping alone, she barks. Not the constant yap-yap-yap of a Chihuahua, but sitting there and punctuating the air with a single bark. And then if nothing happens, another, ad nauseam. She is telling me that she needs a lap to sleep on.
At 5 p.m., Polly decides it's time to have dinner. I don't know how she got this notion, since dinner time around here has always been 7 p.m., when Jeopardy is over. But if I get up and move anywhere, it is with Polly at my calves and Lizzie at my waist again. I'm better to either sit in the recliner from 5 to 7 or stay in my office.
When the Jeopardy think music plays, Polly leaps off of my lap and goes to find Lizzie. The two of them do their dinner dance, which brings Sheila sauntering in. I feed them all and start dinner for the humans.
If it is something that requires a timer, I sit in the recliner while the food is cooking. The timer on the stove has a quiet little "ding" as it starts the last minute count down. As soon as she hears the ding, Polly leaps off my lap and stands there looking at me, letting me know that the timer is about to ring. At other times in the day, if I am baking something and the timer goes off, Polly will run into my office to bark and let me know that the timer is beeping. She has developed a wonderful Pavlovian response to the timer.
If I am going out somewhere, Polly knows it before I even get up from my desk to start getting ready. She knows I'm leaving soon and she knows she gets a treat before I leave the house. I have been known to leave the house early just because Polly drove me to it. I swear she is a mind reader.
For all her intelligence and her ability to read my mind, Polly is a lousy psychiatrist. She's not one of those dogs that knows intuitively when I am sad or upset and climbs into my lap to gaze lovingly at me and let me know that she understands. She does not invite long intimate chats about what is going on in my life. It's all about her, her, her, and who cares if I'm sad or not. Stupid dog.
As the day winds down and I watch nighttime TV in the recliner, I dare not take a potty break. If I get up to go to the bathrom, Sheila is there instsantly, leaving her bed in the living room to escort me to the couch to sleep. Even if I'm not ready to. If I don't follow her, she paces, she worries. She eventually goes back to sleep, but if I move again for any reason, she's there again. It's time to go to bed and she can't understand why I don't understand that. Jon Stewart? Who's Jon Stewart? Forget The Daily Show and go. to. sleep. now.
When I finally give in to her demands, turn off the TV, and go to the couch, Sheila has a routine where she walks between the couch and the coffee table so I can pet her. She walks first in one direction, offering me her hindquarters to pet (not the most desirable angle) and then turns around and walks back in the other direction, standing by my head so I can pet her head. When she decides I've done enough, she either lies down along side the couch or she goes to the dog bed to sleep.
In the morning, we start the routine all over again.
I have to admit I kind of like this little "pack" that we
have become. At least we seem to understand each other and there are few surprises
in a normal day.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
It's been very foggy in the mornings this week
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