Friday, January 08, 2016

Leaving the Pack, Dogs, That Is!

Every once in a while---well, actually quite often---typical days are full but not filled with anything in particular, 'cept maybe DOGS.  Yesterday was such a day.

It was birthday, of sorts, so we celebrated vociferously in front of the birthday boy. 

Liam turned three months old yesterday.  

In his 12 weeks of life, he has said "good bye" to his mommy in Hunters, Wash., moved to the Lovestead, learned the basics of sitting, staying, heeling and doing most of his business business outside. 

He has tripled his size since coming to Sandpoint, reduced one of Bill's good socks down to a wrist warmer, chewed three of four corners from a floor mat, learned to climb up and down stairs and frolicked at will for the first time yesterday with Kiwi and Foster in the 40 by 40 dog run south of the house.

During that time, Liam has also found his way to permanent residence within our human family's hearts. 

Yes, it was a big deal yesterday when I shoveled the gateway to the dog run as well as a path to the shelter within.  Then, I opened the gate for the first official "biscuit time" since Liam's move to Sandpoint.  

As dogs entered the snow-filled enclosure, they not only enjoyed a couple of biscuits but also christened a brand-new empty Folgers can.  

Naturally, Kiwi, coiner of the Folgers coffee-can method of doggie fun, maintained ownership of the newest toy most of the time, especially while I flattened a foot of snow into trails around the enclosure, first with my boots; later, with snowshoes. 

Once the network opened up possibilities for the trio to race back and forth, Kiwi relinquished the coffee can several times for me to throw.  

Liam engaged in some elementary coffee-can chasing and snatching, without much competitive success. 

That's okay.  Dozens of coffee cans in the months and years ahead await his inclusion into the perennial can chasing, chewing and stealing activities among the three. 

It was obvious to me as I watched them----this the first time Liam has been loose with Kiwi----that they have, indeed, become a closeknit team.  They compete with each other but also watch out for one another.  And, that is good. 

I especially witnessed canine team camaraderie last night when Liam must have stumbled and tumbled as he descended the stairs.  Twas the first yelp I've heard from the young man, and everyone gathered around to see if he was okay, especially his buddy Foster.

I love these dogs so much that these dogs pretty much control my life at the Lovestead, especially during these winter months.  Virtually every moment of the day, sets of hopeful, intense eyes keep track of my every move, both inside and out.  

They know how much I love them and that my heart melts whenever I make eye contact back.  So, I spend a good amount of time being led around the place by a pup and his two seasoned buddies.  

If I sneak a snack inside the house, two sets of sharp ears hear and suddenly appear, sitting like gentlemen and waiting for their handout.  

If I change into one of my downtown coats, two dogs sit as close to my feet as possible with eyes focused and bodies ready to leap out the door, race to the car and jump in.  

Well, let's qualify that.  Liam still thinks he's just going outside.  He hasn't completely bought in to getting into the car and sitting next to Foster who rides shotgun, but he's gradually learning.  

The most unkindest cut of all for our beloved dogs----figuratively speaking, of course---often happens during that afternoon hour when Mom of Lovestead Border Collie Nation Plus One decides it's time to spend some time away from dogs and to interact with humans. 

That hour or so has become my new excuse for having to go to Starbucks or Tango for a cup of coffee and a treat and hopeful interludes with other two-legged creatures besides Bill. 

When the downtown coat is on, the purse and cell phone are in hand, and the dogs are positioned at the starting gate-----hopefully ready to dash to the car----and then, I pick up Liam and carry him in his garage crate and Foster stubbornly remains in denial until that last time the door to the outside shuts in his face, I can tell you it's a cruel moment for the Border Collie Nation Plus One. 

Mom has actually had the audacity to leave us!  It's a mortal sin in a dog's mind, but I don't repent.  

These are smart pups, but they haven't exactly elevated themselves to the reasoning that Mom's escape to town is probably really good for them. 

That's a little abstract and much too cerebral when the usual brain work involves "come," "no, don't do that," "kennel," and "biscuit time!"

Maybe they'll figure it out some day.  For now, it's pure negligence on Mom's part to leave us in the garage to look at each other, often with NO COFFEE CAN!

I am a bleeding heart, but my brain does occasionally arise above "come," "biscuit time," etc. and starves for a dose of daily stimulation from the outside world.  

So, I leave the house and the dogs behind, without even an ounce of generic or even Catholic guilt.  

When I do show up at Starbuck's or Tango, purchase my cup of coffee and treat and enjoy brief, often stimulating conversations with both friends or new friends, my mental cylinders recharge.  I feel totally revitalized AND I'm ripe and ready to return to the Lovestead to resume the simple, demanding and joyful life of a Border Collie Nation Plus One Mama. 

It's a good life.  I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I've got the coffee-can supply to prove it. 

Happy Friday. 

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