a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: September 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Photo #2850

SUMMARY: A rousing round of randomness

So, here's the thing. Ya take a lot of photos, the camera numbers them for you, but the camera has only a certain number of digits, say, up to 9999, so eventually, after 9999 photos, it rolls back around to 0001 again.

Sometimes, when I search for a certain photo number, the variety of photos that appear intrigues me.  So, just because-- here are my IMG_2850s.  (No guarantee on quality, just--this is what's in my files, so this is what ya get.)

(I've done this before.)

Tip: Click the first image to make it larger, then use your arrow key to go through the rest--but you won't see captions there.

2013 November  - Vasona Park (Santa Clara County, CA) Festival of Lights

2016 November - Our hotel, Barstow, California

2016 April - Inside arcade at Eastridge Mall (east San Jose)

2007 July - Judge shopping at Bay Team CPE competition (San Jose area)

2012 December - Local Park (with dogs)

2014 October - Glass Pumpkin Festival, Palo Alto, CA

2010 January - Bay Team club holiday party

2017 April - Bird not being photographed, Walt Disney World, Florida

2008 October - Justin (and Boost's relative?) doing Freestyle at USDAA Nationals, Scottsdale, Arizona

2017 September - Reno, Nevada and its mountains


Why the huge gaps between years? Apparently other 2850s didn't make the cut and are gone for good. So sorry, Other 2850s!

P.S. really, Arlene, I'll get around to eclipse trip eventually.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Grief and Joy

SUMMARY: Things change over time. But not quickly.

Two things happened Sunday that made me realize that the jagged wounds of losing Tika and Boost are scarring over:
  • I took Chip and Zorro up Coyote Peak to my special Photo Spot where the Merle Girls and I had gone so many times, and although of course I thought about Boost and Tika, it was more of a reminiscence, not a tearing-out-my-guts experience. That had been one big reason why I hadn't even tried before: Couldn't bear the thought of going up without the girls and remembering all those good times.   But this time, I was completely present with these dogs, paying attention to them, enjoying them, incorporating their presence on this special peak into my life story.
  • I again came across Team Small Dog's cartoon post about scaredy-cat young Border Collies from a while back, and it reminded me so much of Boost all over again, and it made me laugh all over again--and the laughter didn't end in sobs; it was all delight.
So, two and a half years is apparently how long it takes to where  I'm managing to have their memories in my life without immediately breaking down.  You know, it gets to where one thinks that will never happen.  Not to say that I don't miss them so much so often. But it's bearable now, most of the time.

Unlike this:

This evening, I had a little extra time and was in the neighborhood of my parents' former home. Thought I'd do a quick drive-by.  Oh, it hurt. From a mile away, the closer I got, the more it hurt and hurt. Grief is physical.  Both parents gone so recently, and the house where they lived for 49 years, and all those birthdays and Christmases and dinners and celebrations and all the books and the bookcases full of photo memories and all the family memorabilia and heirlooms and the things that my parents loved everywhere in the house.  All the things that made the house My Parents' Home.  It could never be reproduced anywhere again. And neither could Mom or Dad be.  It hurt so much.

So, 9 months since Mom died; 6 months since we sold the house; those are nowhere near long enough to distance the grief.

It'll be a long time before I try that again.

Me Not Get In Car

SUMMARY: A sad, sad Chip.
Backfill: from an August 27, 2016 Facebook post

Human Mom wishes that she understood why, so often (but not always), Chip acts terrified about getting into the car. Really, we go plenty of places other than the vet and have hardly ever been there. (Zorro, on the other hand, you can't *keep* out of the car.) Poor Chipper.

He worries about so many things. He's a busy guy in the worry department. But so sweet.

On this day, trying to take him for a ride. To a park. (But he wouldn't know where we're going because I go to various places.) He won't even get in the side door, which is much lower, when he's in this mode. And I can't lift him without hurting myself unless I really need to get going, and yep it hurts.

Tail between legs. I feel so sorry for poor scared Chip, but I have no idea what the deal is and am not inclined to leave him home alone when I'm going somewhere fun with Zorro.

Nooooo please don't make me.

Don't make me (lying down, ears flat, tail between legs).

You cannot pull me towards the car; my feet are nailed to the ground here.

Finally pick him up and set him into the car (I'm in a hurry today and it's been 5 minutes already and he's in such a state that treats don't interest him) and, rather than stepping into the crate, he makes an amazing U-turn of his body and tries to jump back out.

He seemed quite happy to be at the park when we got there, and quite happy to get into the crate when it was time to go home. Who knows.

He'd been with me probably 6 months before I ever saw this, and it seems to be getting more common over the last 2 years, so it's something that made him decide that going places is bad... *some* of the time.

I have a ramp, and I look at that ramp every time this happens, where it's stashed in my garage, and keep thinking, no, don't want to haul that around and set it up and take it down every time-- but I'll probably give it a go. One of my objections has nothing to do with the dogs but with not wanting people to see that I'm leaving the house with my dogs. Without the ramp, I can load them in the garage. With the ramp, I have to open the garage door. Dunno, maybe a bad reason. I did it with Tika for a year or so, could do it again. But he's only 5, darnit, and can hop in very easily as far as I can tell. AND the ramp seems to scare him even more. We tried practicing walking on it while it was flat on the ground and you'd think that I was trying to force him to walk on red-hot coals.

No signs of him feeling ill or uncomfortable once he's in the car. Looks attentive and interested and alert unless it's a longer trip and he goes to sleep. It's not every time, either, getting to be maybe 50-70% of the time? And it's *never* when coming home after being somewhere.

I've been trying short drives to get them out of the car and NOT to the vet, places that they like to go, but it wasn't helping. Anti-anxiety meds? Keep thinking I'll look into something for fireworks. Maybe this, too, but have to consider whether dosing him up is worth it for the one short moment (or long 5 minutes) of getting him into the car.

He was a rescue, yes, but: No one actually abandoned him--I should moderate my "he was a rescue" to "he was a rehome from a home who cared about him." Yep, with Chip, it's hard to know. One morning on my way out the door to work, I bent to pet him with my keys in my hand and one of them came loose and swung at his muzzle. For a very long time he'd move away from me as soon as I picked up my keys. So, very true that something could have happened that I don't even know about, stubbed a toe on his way in? Bumped his head? Something that happened here but not anywhere else. Sigh. This is where I need a dog-brain-deciphering device.

Poor sad little doggie.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Successes and Santa Teresa Park

SUMMARY: Went up a hill today with the dogs.

Really, it has been 2 months since I last posted here? Jeez. Hard to find good bloggers these days.

This morning was filled with successes.  I woke up not too late or too early... 7:30ish. That's good.  I didn't have a dizzy spell first thing. That's very good.  Got up, loaded up the car (put the crates back in that have been out since my trip to Wyoming... OMG almost a month ago!).

Chip hopped up into the crate with no fuss or bother! Huge success!  I've been trying to give him of opportunities to just get into and out of the car while I'm doing other stuff in the car or garage, sometimes feeding  him in the car, too.  Not huge numbers of opportunities, but some--and, yay, if he's back to his original willing-to-go self, that is a huge huge huge success.

Just taking the dogs somewhere for a hike is a success: Haven't been physically able, or mentally prepared, or too busy, or all three.  And this was a particular challenge--haven't been hiking up Coyote Peak since the Merle Girls died, and for the first time felt eager to do it with the new dogs, not overwhelmed with grief.

We went to Santa Teresa County Park.  Like a comfortable, familiar old rec room that I'd not visited much in the past 3 years. Morning was overcast and a bit foggy as we arrived at the entrance.

The road curves up through the park. My turkey feather came from here.

Parked in the main parking area, the Pueblo Day Use Area.  Lots and lots of parking. And I don't have to pay in county parks because last year I bought my lifetime senior pass.

As we drove in, we passed a flock of wild turkeys in the meadow below the road (those black spots, you know?). Sun still wasn't out, so it looked like a perfect morning for a hike.

No matter the season, day of the week, time of day, or weather, one nice thing about the park is that the parking lots are almost never even close to full, which means the trails won't be crowded, which means a nice, relaxing, peaceful hike.

Waiting patiently for danged Human Mom to stop taking photos and get us out of our crates.

Reminders of my old dogs pop up all the time. The bag of treats I grabbed for the hike still has the winning raffle tag with Boost's name on it. Success: I remember that fondly and wistfully and did not sit down on the pavement and start bawling.

Yay! On the trail! Sun is coming out, but still hazy enough and cool enough to be a pleasant walk.

Plus, many fascinating poops.  (Deer?)

Zorro seemed stunned that the seasonal pond was bone dry. He's never been here before, so maybe Chip said something to him.

Come ON cool it with the photos already! Another success was with passing dogs on the trail. Fortunately it's a wide trail; I'd get them both on a short leash hold off to one side of the trail (avoiding foxtails and poison oak) and give them treats as long as they weren't barking and making a fuss. They were both perfect except just once, last dog on our way down, when Zorro tried to jump Chip. I don't know what triggers that, but I was prepared and managed to keep Z away from C and then they were both calm again. This is wonderful, means  it won't be so terrible walking them when other dogs are around.

Aha! Can already see the radio tower at the top of Coyote Peak, rising from the remaining morning fog. Means that we're maybe halfway up already.  Feeling good--between knees, hip, back, and so on, I just wasn't sure whether I'd be able to get up the peak. I'm a wee bit tired but nothing I can't manage. Hooray!

Gate to keep cattle where they belong. This is new since I last hiked here--the park allows them to graze on the nonnative grass with the expectation that native plants and wildflowers will do better without that competition.

As we near the top, the first cattle that we've seen (those black specks, you know?).  Dogs were interested but not overly so. Other than cattle, mostly we saw people on bikes in tree-climbing gear coming up the hill, and a few people with their dogs.

At the top of Coyote Peak!  Revealing on the trail the downside of cattle grazing...

Wonderful view from up here, but the air quality was not good, so it's mostly haze.

"Haze." Or whatever. Over the city of San Jose. However, I can see MUTT MVR in the parking lot below! You probably can't... but maybe, if you look full screen. A bit above and left of the center of the picture.  It's only a mile hike, winding around the hillside, but over 500 feet up.

The highest peak in the background is Mount Umunhum. There's an old radar tower up there, the only thing left of the radar tracking city that used to be there, where military families lived and worked. Umunhum has been closed for something like 35 years, and today its remodeled mountaintop is open to the public for the first time, but only by reserved seats on shuttles for a tour. Which I have. So I'll be there later in the day.  Tomorrow, it'll be completely open.

Success! Made it to the top! Didn't have to stop and rest for long periods! Legs doing pretty good!  The first photo for my Coyote Peak Portraits in over 3 1/2 years.  There's Mount Hamilton with Lick Observatory in the background... if only it weren't so hazy, you could see the white domes there.

There's a wonderful sign at the top that points out things of interest so you can match them up with reality--but, as you can see over the top of the sign, TOO DARN HAZY to see much of anything. Still, nice view, nice place to sit and contemplate.

This represents the first time I've tried taking photos with the old smartphone that my sister gave me. Figured out how to use it (mostly) and figured out how to get them off the phone onto the computer. The final success for the morning!