Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2, 2010 - New Stuff, Fun Stuff


Well, it seems fall is upon us. That's fine with us - here at the Shady Rest, autumn is our favorite time of year. Still-warm days, crisp nights, that "fall" smell in the air, stunning blue skies. The leaves are just now starting to change to their orange, red and yellow wardrobe. The grass doesn't need mowing quite as often now, but there aren't yet any leaves to rake. Perfect.

The dogs are loving the cooler weather, and that the mamas tend to be in a better mood this time of year. I got home from work the other day and let them out as usual, then decided to go join them. We had a nice romp in the yard and everybody was smiling when we went back in. CJ. and I met in the fall, Halloween, to be specific, so October and November always bring back fond memories. The fact that it's always more fun to cuddle when it's cooler doesn't hurt any either...

Speaking of CJ., she's been having to work a bunch of overtime lately, mandatory, as her company rearranges to accommodate taking on a new client. In general, this is good - as much job security as one can expect these days and her company is growing, so that's good. Still, it means the dogs and I are having more quality time together by ourselves. We miss her, but we still have a good time.

I find I talk to them more when I'm home "alone" than when CJ's here too. I mean, we both talk to the animals often and at some length, but when it's just me and the kids, the conversations get even longer and more detailed. Part of it is because I don't always have anyone to talk to at work all day either, so by the time I get home, I'm bored, and animals are such great listeners. Dogs appear to hang on every word you say, fascinated. If I seem happy, they get happy with me. If I seem sad, upset or annoyed, they pull in closer, get quieter, seem to be both sympathetic and protective.

Sherman has lately developed a couple of new behaviors, or at least started displaying behaviors we hadn't seen before. For one, when I come home, he rushes to see me, along with the other guys, but that's not the new part. When I reach down to give initial pats, I only have one hand available. (They get a cursory pat, then I put away the purse and lunch bag and whatnot and then more thorough scritches are given with both hands. ) I try to keep it even - a pat for Sherman, a rub for Spencer, a caress for Sammie, and around one more time (the other three, Freya's still crated and Archie and Loki usually wait at the other end of the house for me to get there, preferring to avoid the rush.) That used to work fine, each getting a pat or two in turn, but now as soon as I try to move my hand off Sherman's head and onto Spencer's or Sammie's, Sherman will grab my sleeve with his teeth, just the tiny front teeth and very carefully, and try to pull my hand off of them!

It might be a behavior worth discouraging if he were pulling hard or trying to bite flesh, but he's so careful with the fabric and so careful not to get skin, that I can't help but chuckle at him. I tell him to wait his turn and he runs off. He then runs back bearing a toy! He never, ever used to do that, and I'm tickled he's opening up and wanting to play. Wiggling all over he runs to the kitchen, down the hall, to the living room, squeaking his toy all the way, the bounces up on the bed to get me to play grab with him for a few minutes.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit his other new "thing." He's started wanting to "spoon." Romantic with a partner, a little disconcerting with a beagle. This morning, for instance, I'm about half awake and feel something warm scoot up against my upper back, right between the shoulder blades. For one, very brief moment I thought it was CJ., until a cold, wet nose went "Fooof!" and blew a blast of exhale on my neck! Slowly and carefully, I turned enough to verify that yes, Sherman had crawled to the top of the bed, body still under the blanket, but head on my pillow, chest up against my back, one paw kind of over my shoulder. CJ was on the other side of him, her back to his, and Kali the cat was on CJ's outside, by her hip. Quite cozy.

I'd like to add that I'm quite proud of Archie. I had some errands to run today while CJ was at work and as I got ready to go, I realized that I was assigning tasks - "Freya, keep an eye on the house," "Sherman, don't eat Sammie"- and Archie was sitting up in the bedroom, awake and listening to the discussion. For some reason I felt a twinge of guilt, like I was afraid he was feeling left out, like I didn't think he was capable because he was older and nearly blind. So, I leaned down, rubbed his head with both hands and said, "And Archie, YOUR job is to guard this bedroom while I'm gone. You're between the door and the bed, so it's your responsibility to make sure nobody steals the bed or sneaks it out that door. Okay?" He looked at me and tapped his foot on the floor, which I took as sort of an Archie version of "aye-aye, ma'am."

I ran my errands, met up with CJ in the driveway as we got home about the same time, went to grab a bite and came home. I went to the bedroom and there it was, the bed, still safely in place, with Archie still in the doorway, still sitting up (or, more likely, sitting up again after a bit of a nap). I told him how very proud I was, what a brave and good guardian he was! He seemed pleased at the praise, getting up to march off down the hall to the kitchen pee pad. I should leave him in charge more often.

Ya'll take care, now. Take a second to look at the leaves and sniff the air while it's still autumn-crisp. Winter'll be here before you know it.

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