A Morning Like No Other

So, you won’t believe what happened on my morning walk.
I’m a reasonable pup.  I do my best and abide by my humans (stupid) rules, so it seems only fair that my humans do their best and abide by my simple rules.  Rules such as haul your lazy self out of bed so you can feed me on time, scratch my belly when I turn over, give me two cheese snacks when you crate me, and tell me how awesome I am at least 10 times a day – you know - the basics.
There is one rule that cannot be broken. I must have an absolutely quiet, audience free moment with my favorite spot (determined daily) to accomplish my morning business.  This really isn’t too much to ask…or so I thought…
Bear with me while I support my unbreakable rule up with facts and evidence.
According to AmericanHumane.org:

It is not instinctive for dogs to relieve themselves outside; it is only natural for them to not go where they sleep. Everyplace else is fair game!

Additionally, The Lewiston Vet Clinic, Lewiston, MN, suggests:

Praise the good: While your pup is doing the right thing in the right place, PRAISE her abundantly! After she goes potty outside, give her a treat to teach her she did the right thing. If you do catch her going in the house, startle her, by saying “NO!” loudly, or stomping your feet while she is in the act. At the same time, pick her up and bring her outside. (A puppy will usually stop urinating when you pick her up.) Imagine how uncomfortable it would be if you were constantly interrupted when you went to the bathroom. They will learn that when they go outside, they won’t be interrupted.

!!! It’s right there in the Potty Training Manual !!!

Teach me to go outside, even though it’s not natural, and in return I learn I can go without being interrupted. Simple, easy and a win-win for all.

Except this morning.
Ready and raring to greet the day with my morning routine, I drag a bleary eyed Diana down the street, bark my, “Good morning to you, Mr. Gray Stripey Cat” at the cat on the corner house’s porch, round the corner, take a moment to read the latest news on the tree trunk, and head straight for the grass strip along the park.
Diana knows to stop, turn her back for privacy, and let me pace back and forth in a tighter circle until I am satisfied and take my moment.  Just when I’d begun, my mind wandering to whether I would get cheese shreds or rice on my kibble this morning, disaster struck!!!


What the devil?  There, in mid-moment, out of the darkness sprang my archenemy (Diana calls him a neighbor…she is more lenient in her definitions than I am…).  Chi-Weenie irritant extraordinaire, the only dog in a 2 mile radius that barks more than me…


Can you say embarrassed and hopping mad?  Well, I can and did.  I was done – but not finished - and really, really mad.  Diana and Arthur’s mom casually waived hands at each other and tried not to notice each other’s nightgowns under their coats.  How can they be so blasé? Uncaring, I tell you.
We moved on in a vain attempt to find another “perfect” spot.  No go – literally.  I was so mad I couldn’t stop barking.  I’d walk 10 feet, stop, turn and bark my furor at Arthur, legs so stiff with indignation that I bounced down the street. 

“Find your own spot, Arthur!
You attention hog!
You stole my
Most Proficient Barker crown!
Now you want MY SPOT!
!!!MY SPOT!!!”

It really think I am scarred, permanently, damaged beyond repair, unable to ever accomplish my morning routine ever again.
Diana says to relax, time will heal my furor. And cheese.  Definitely cheese.


How To Deal With Being Watched

Diana and Michael went to a neighborhood Christmas party without me the other day. A set back in my “always go in the car with you” resolution, but what can you do, right?
At the party, Diana met a little girl. This beautiful little girl is so painfully shy she was unable to speak with anyone at the party. When the neighbors that live right behind us and across the back alley asked how I was and started chatting about dog stuff, the little girl kept staring at Diana and looking away when Diana saw her.
The little girl kept getting closer and closer to Diana and eventually sat as close as she could next to her.  She kept looking at Diana and looking away.  Diana kept quietly talking about how amazing I am, how much I look forward to my evening walk, how we’ve met lots of neighbors and how “everyone knows Sasha.”  (I asked Diana to tell me that part of the story a couple of times…)
The little girl bundled up all her courage and said, in a near whisper, to Diana, “I know you.  You are the Dog Lady.  I like your dog.  She is funny, always barking and sniffing the trees and wagging her tail.”
Well, needless to say (but I will anyway – that’s how I do stuff) the little girl’s Mom was surprised and pleased that her child was actually chatting with Diana.  Diana winked at the Mom and kept telling funny stories about me and asking gentle questions.  Soon, the little girl was happily chatting away.
Later on, the Mom came up to Diana and said that every night they watch us walk and explore the neighborhood.  The little girl waits for us to pass by their kitchen window.  Once we’ve passed she goes back to what she is doing.
The Mom said she’s been doing that for nearly a year and has been talking about maybe one day she will rescue a dog too.  As a family, they have been talking about how much responsibility it is to take care of a dog. You have to do stuff you might not want to do – like walk them every night, even if you don’t feel well, or you have other things you want to do, or it’s rainy or snowy.
Diana said if they decide to adopt a rescue dog she would refer them to the groups that I bark about.
So here I am, doing my daily neighborhood check, barking at whatever catches my fancy, sniffing my way around the park, you know, minding my on bees-wax.  Little did I know I was making an impact on someone. 

In a week filled with sadness and bittersweet loses of pals on Twitter, I savor the gentle sweetness of this story even more than usual. I’m sure going to stop at their house and bark a little louder and wag my tail a little faster just to say, “Hi.”


Legacy for Marley Terrier

When a pal passes, it can be so easy to say a few words of condolence and move on. For me, each pal leaves a piece of themselves within me for safekeeping.  I can not easily move on as I was.  I become forever changed by the grace of having known them.  The honor of this duty is a solemn one for me.  Yet, I know it is important to carry on.
I don’t know if I am barking into the vast wilderness, unheard.
I don’t know how to make a difference except by being true to myself.
I do know it is important to stop and grieve, to remember and to be thankful for having met.
I do know that, for me, the only way forward through grief is a formula of
time + action.

Time will settle itself.

Action I can accomplish by:

Vowing to always be gentle, kind, encouraging and tireless in my efforts to raise money for animal related charities.

Laughing when I can, giving a hug when it is needed and sitting quietly beside those that need silent support.

Pledging to keep Marley’s legacy alive by:
  1. accepting the duty to continue in his pawprints, not as he would, but as I can;
  2. be guided by the vastness of his compassion and generosity of legacy;
  3. guide myself, and hopefully others, in a way forward by shining a light into the darkness of the reality of animals in need.
I can only do what I can do.  I comfort myself with the hope that it will be enough – even for just one.

 Until we meet again and thank you, Marley.