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Meadow’s Bad Hair Day(s)

Mead and ball(Meadow, pre-haircut)

I know my favorite canine philosopher Cesar Millan would say that I’m projecting human feelings onto my dog, but Meadow was not happy about her haircut for at least three days. She normally wears her hair long and flowing, but after a skunk sprayed her, we had to shave it off.

Her moping started as soon as we picked her up from the “salon.” We had brought two other dogs, Tony and Adriana, along for the ride, and she greeted them both with an uncharacteristic growl. She didn’t play in the mosh pit for several days nor would she sleep in our bed.

The other dogs weren’t sure about her new haircut either. The morning after we had her fur shaved Meadow stood up on the couch, and Adriana started snarling at her as though she didn’t recognize her. Like who’s the new chick?

Things finally turned around on Friday. Meadow, still brooding about her short fur, trotted beside me under a drizzling sky as we walked down the bluff towards the trails in our backyard. At that point, it’d been pouring for twenty-four straight hours, so by mid morning on Friday our normally dry creek had more water flowing through it than it had all winter. I’d say two feet of rushing water, enough to make crossing sloppy but not enough to stop us. We’ve had a lot of precipitation in Middle Tennessee over the past month, and sunshine has seemed nonexistent.

Meadow hopped into a deeper portion – maybe three feet – created by the jagged edges of the limestone rocks lining the creek bed like a dragon’s spine. And suddenly, as though a switch had flipped, she stopped sulking and started acting like the fun-loving Meadow we all know and love. In fact, I couldn’t get her out of the creek. The water splashing on her nearly naked body must have felt like a shower after a five-day camping trip, because she leaped and sprinted, diving her face under, then licking at the drops that sprayed off her muzzle. I realized she’s probably never felt water so close to her skin before, and that she must be a skinny dipper at heart. In order to celebrate her newly discovered hobby, everyday this weekend I’ve taken her down back and let her romp.

I don’t know whether I was projecting human emotions onto Meadow about her bad hair-day mood or not. But I do know that when she gets wet, even with her fur sheared she still smells like skunk. I’m not even joking. This is one of those patience things isn’t it? Like I just have to wait it out?

Tony Starts Leash Training

tony hand(Meadow and Tony a.k.a T-bone)

Our nine-week-old foster puppy Tony has officially started leash training. Yesterday morning we attached a slim, lightweight rope to his collar and initially just let him drag it along. We didn’t try to hold the leash or guide him. We just let him get used to it being there.

Tony scampered behind us on the paved Springfield Greenway, rump waddling back and forth as he tried to keep up with the pack. Tony wears an ink-black, thick and poofy coat – maybe some sort of poodle mix – and gets hot fast, even in thirty-degrees; after a quarter-mile his baby-pink tongue hung to the side.

At first he was ferocious with his new leash, grabbing and shaking it like he was taking down his archenemy. But eventually he gave up trying to kill it and started carrying the red sinister string in his mouth instead. Once or twice I caught him barking at it.

It was a cold gray morning, but Tony didn’t care. In his world the sun never stops shining. When he’d pause to sniff something of interest (and there’s a lot of interesting things for a puppy on a rural greenway,) he’d lag behind for ten to twenty yards, then tuck back his ears for the least air resistance possible and sprint full throttle to catch up.

None of the other four dogs we had with us were thrilled about walking beside T-bone because, like everything, he tried turned walking into a game, and he’d jump at their necks, legs, and ribs with his sharp piranha-like teeth gleaming white.

At one point he leaped at Meadow, latched onto her neck, and clung to her hair, literally hanging completely in the air. Meadow is a patient dog, but enough being enough, she reprimanded him with a low menacing growl and a sharp nip. He yelped but we ignored him, letting the pack teach him his boundaries without interfering. The dogs do it better than us anyway. Mason and I have to repeat rules in our awkward human language a bazillion times, but the pack reprimands Tony once, and he listens.

After a good mile or so, occasionally, I’d pick up the leash and hold it, letting him walk right beside a hound-mutt Rosie, who gets all serious when she migrates, and like Meadow, wasn’t putting up with an ounce of Tony’s silliness.

Tony would act great for a little while, black fluff ball trotting alongside the big dogs. Then he’d realize he was attached to my hand and start yanking and pulling. I’d drop the leash until he got his groove back, then try again.

This went on for the entire four miles; all in all, we – woman and puppy – probably walked in tune for only about 1000 feet. The good news is that when Tony got home from his first leash-training session, he took a solid two-hour nap. Every once in a while he’d jerk his tiny paws, like he was dreaming about walking with the big dawgs.

Book Recommendation: Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

If you are as interested in pack behavior as I am, then you will LOVE Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf. I had never heard about it before Doug Glover, my professor at VCFA, recommended it, but since I found it, I’ve read it twice in two weeks.

Here’s the book  link on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Never-Cry-Wolf-Amazing-Arctic/dp/0316881791/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1398509602&sr=8-2&keywords=Never+Cry+Wolf