Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lazy Saturday: What's That?

As I've mentioned, normally after our ridiculously early Saturday morning dog class, Barley and I come back home and take a very long nap and then maybe take a walk and then laze around the rest of the day.

Yesterday, that was not the case.  I was on-the-go for a solid 13 hours!

First, we had class where we pushed the limits of our "What's that?" practice; our trainer took away the partitions between three of the four dogs (the dog behind the sheet stayed behind her partition--BUT by the end of class the sheets were all gone and she was doing great!).  Then she used little gates to block off a large square area and we took turns doing heeling exercises in the fenced off area while the dogs outside the area worked on remaining calm while another dog was moving.  We even got to do a little off-leash heeling inside the square since we were doing so well!

Throughout the class, our trainer would move our mats closer and closer to the fenced area.  By the end of class, Barley's mat was inches from the fence and she didn't even bat an eyelash when the other dogs were moving around near her.  It was incredible.  Eventually, the trainer started moving some of the parts of the fence away, too, and all of the dogs did really well.  None of them even noticed the other dogs were there.

We also worked on some calming, petting, massaging techniques--that will be great to use during week 6 of agility while other dogs are running around and in places like the vet's office.  We worked on long, slow pets starting from the neck down to the tail.  We worked on petting the tail into a relaxed position to show other dogs your dog isn't a threat and to trick your dog's brain into thinking it must be relaxed if its tail is.  We did the same thing with the ears and massaging them into a relaxed position.  We also worked on air pets--which is just what it sounds like--the petting equivalent of an air hug/kiss.  Barley does not like air pets.  She looks at me like I'm nuts and wiggles around so she bumps into my hand so I have to really pet her.  We'll be avoiding air petting.  (I tried air pets on Soth, too, and even my grumpy little cat thinks they are weird.)

The dog behind the sheet was less barky this week.  She might not be able to come out from behind her partition in this session, but she has made a lot of progress, and Barley didn't show nearly as much stress this week when the barking happened as she did last week--and it was much easier to get her focus back when she did get nervous.

After class, we mad a quick stop at PetSmart so I could get more cat food, more treats, and of course, a new toy or two.  Soth ended up getting spoiled--they remodeled the store and got in lots of new cat toys and they were super cute, and it wasn't until I got home that I realized just how many cat toys had been thrown in the cat.  Oh well, I guess now I can throw away the toys he has peed on instead of continually trying to wash them.

Then it was off to the Arboretum where things are finally starting to bloom.  We didn't get to enjoy the blooms too much, though.  It was their weekend long Arbor Day celebration, so admission was free and there were kids and small dogs and people galore.  We skipped the Rhododendron Garden and the Butterfly Garden, where most of the blooms would have been, and went adventuring in the woods.  Once we were in the woods, we saw a total for 5 people in 2 hours (which is 4 more than we usually see, but still significantly more peaceful than the main parts of the Arboretum).

I can't say that the overall trip was nice and relaxing.  Parts of it were, but I was on a little on edge.  Maybe it's because I knew that when we got home, I'd be tossing Bar in her crate and rushing off to meet my parents to plant flowers on my grandma's grave for the one year anniversary of her death.  Maybe it's because all three of my country music preset channels on the radio insisted on playing Toby Keith songs, of the past and present, and Grandma loved him--we used to joke that he was our step-grandpa.  Maybe it was because I was tired and I am never nice when I am tired, plus the coffee pot had malfunctioned and despite the empty reservoir, the coffee pot only had half the amount of coffee I was expecting it to have--which lead to some really disgusting, undrinkable coffee.  Maybe it was the sheer number of people at our usually peaceful place (after all, I am a bit misanthropic).  However, I prefer to blame it on the old man I originally parked next to in the parking lot.

When we got to the Arboretum, the parking lot was full.  There's a big field of additional parking, and in two years of membership at the Arboretum, I have never once seen a car parked there.  It was almost full.  So, I had to park in the field and when I got there, the first available spot was next to a car where an old man was standing with his doors wide open.  It was clear that we were supposed to take the first available spot from the waving of the parking attendants, so I parked as close as I could to the car with the open doors.  I turned off the car and started getting our stuff together.  Then the old man knocked on my window.  That sent Barley into a tizzy.  She was barking and growling.  Then the STUPID old man, reached for the door handle--he was going to open the door on the same side of the car Barley was on.  I knew if that happened, she would lunge at him and things wouldn't be pretty, so I turned the car back on and rolled the window down a crack.  He scolded me for not parking closer and said I was taking up 2 or 3 spots and needed to either move closer (although his doors were still wide open) or farther away (which I later found out was where a little group of killdeer were nesting on the ground and I would have squished them!).  Instead of scolding him for upsetting my dog and being dumb enough to even consider opening the door of a car with a visibly upset dog inside, I rolled up the window, said nothing, and moved my car to a completely different row.  Luckily, we didn't see him again.

Parts of the walk through the woods were great.  We went down on the boardwalk and it was warm enough (almost 70!) for Barley to get to enjoy splashing in the stream a little bit.  She pounced on minnows and quenched her thirst and attempted to herd the ripples in the water.  It was very entertaining.  We also got to enjoy seeing leaves starting to come back on the trees and hear lots and lots of birds.

We also got to visit the maple collection, which is basically just a big field with maples around it and a really pretty red barn (that I think actually belongs to someone and is not part of the arboretum) way in the background.  So, Barley and I usually stop there and sit in the grass and take a water break and a picture break.

Happy pup in the sun.
Her face is so disproportional to the rest of her body.

The trail was also ridiculously muddy in parts, though.  And, although my girliness has subsided a little since I got Barley, I still really hate to get muddy.  Most of the time, there were places where we could go off-trail a little bit and go around the mud, but there were a few times where it was unavoidable.

Practicing her balance for agility!
We also had a moment that was straight out of a movie (you can decide if it's from a horror movie or a comedy).  The trail we like to take goes up to the maple collection and then you either go back the way you came or you can get on another trail that is a loop with two different places to cross the stream.  If you turn one direction, you get to a nice flat spot where the stream is relatively shallow and there are lots of rocks to hop across and then there's a medium-length staircase to take you back to the trail to the visitor's center.  If you take the other part, to cross the stream you have to go down a short staircase, then there's like a foot of space before the stream (and the stream is usually significantly deeper here), then you have like two big rocks to hop on and you have to hop directly from the second rock to another staircase.  Then you get to a HUGE staircase to take you back to the trail to the visitor's center.  I prefer the first option.  Maybe if I didn't have a dog who decided to occasionally herd the stream, I'd feel more confident about hopping across deeper water and going directly from a rock to a stair, but I do have a dog who's a little nutty, so I try to avoid that path if possible.  So, we went the easy way across the stream.  I let Bar play in the water for a few minutes before we attempted to hop across.  Then we made it to the other side with no incident.  The fun started when we got to the staircase--there was yellow caution tape blocking it off.  I looked around, and there was a steep path that looked like it would take us straight up to the point where the staircase went, so I figured even though my legs would probably hate me for it later, we may as well off-road it.  I'm not sure if it was muddy or just so many layers of leaves, but we were sinking deeper and deeper the farther we tried to go.  We turned around.  Then I saw another shorter path that was even steeper and it looked like it leveled off at the top and then met up with the trail near the top of the stairs.  We decided to try that.  As we were reaching the top, I realized that this hill was so steep that there was going to be no good way down should it not connect with the trail we wanted.  And guess what.  It did not connect to the trail we wanted.  So I stood at the top of a minute and wondered how we were ever going to get back down.  Then I saw a little tree and I knew that I could put Barley in a sit-stay and sort of slide down to that tree and then call her to heel and then we could repeat that and I'd be at the bottom of the hill.  It all started out just fine, but Barley had never seen me slide before and she got worried.  She ran to me, and in the process, wrapped her leash around the tree.  So there we were--stuck halfway down the hill with Barley's leash wrapped around the tree.  Eventually, after convincing Barley that I was fine, I got her untangled and we made it to the bottom, but it was not graceful!  My jeans were filthy!  We ended up having to go back to the trail, hop across the stream again, and then take the less desirable route with the multiple staircases.  What an adventure!

By the time we got back the car, my parents had texted me a meeting time and place, so I had just enough time to change into clean jeans and give Soth his lunch before rushing back out of the door to head to PA.  I met my parents for a couple lunch-time beers, and then we headed to the cemetery.  Even though Emily Dickinson's death poems are my favorite, I am not very good with death in my real life.  One time, my dad wanted to go put flowers on my grandpa's grave--I stayed in the car.  Luckily, I haven't had to deal with death often--my grandpa died when I was 3, so I don't remember that, and the three great-grandmas that were alive when I was born died when I was relatively young, too.  The few times I have had to deal with it, I just really haven't dealt with it.  A friend died from cancer the summer after I graduated high school.  I went to the calling hours, but decided that was enough and skipped the funeral.  My first dog died the summer after my sophomore year in high school, and I stayed inside while the rest of the family went out to bury her in the yard.  When my grandma died, I told my best friend and then two coworkers who knew I had gone to visit her in the hospital, but that was it.  In fact, most of my friends still don't even know she's gone (living in a different state from the majority of your friends makes this very easy to do).

We were going to have some sort of service for my grandma--she wasn't religious, so we weren't going to do the whole funeral with a priest thing, but something at the grave with my siblings and parents to bury the ashes.  Summer was right around the corner, so we were going to pick a time that worked for all of our schedules (which shouldn't have been hard since my sister and I weren't working and my brother was still looking for a job), but for some reason, Dad just never picked a day (maybe this is where I get my inability to face death from?).  Then one day, Mom told me that Dad had had the funeral home bury the ashes.  I guess he thought they'd been holding them too long?

Since today is the anniversary, I asked Mom if they were going to the cemetery, which is less than an hour from my house.  I felt like I needed to go.  Dad wasn't planning on it, but since I'd brought it up he suggested we go yesterday.  I think we all needed it.  We planted flowers, made inappropriate jokes that would have made my grandma laugh, and then left.  There were no tears, but it was emotionally exhausting.  I got home around 7:30 and stayed awake long enough to watch the end of the Pirates game (Raise the Jolly Roger!) and then was in bed before it was completely dark.

After 12 hours of sleep last night, I'm still kind of worn out.  It's past 11 a.m. and I'm still on the couch in lamb pajamas.  Eventually, I'll find the motivation to walk my dog and steam clean the carpets, but for now I'm just enjoying a snuggle session with my little man-cat.

If you feel so inclined today, lift up a red solo cup for my grandma.  Viv was a wonderful grandma and she's missed terribly, but after seeing her name next to my grandpa's I know she's in a better place.

1 comment:

  1. Viv is a happier lady now that she's with her main man.

    I hope you had plenty of time to relax today! I'm glad that Bar is doing so well in class!