a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: June 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Looking Back -- Population and Freeways

SUMMARY: Silicon Valley then and now
From a FB discussion on my post about Spokane vs Coeur d'Alene, and about avoiding big cities. June 30 2020.

Likely gibberish to folks who haven't lived here, or maybe not.

I said:
My current big city [San Jose aka Silicon Valley aka Santa Clara County aka South Bay Area--overlapping multiple city and county boundaries] grew up around me. I know that there have been traffic issues always, but they build more freeways and more lanes and that just encourages more cars and more people. When I moved here (with family), the county held about a million people. About 1.2 million when I moved out on my own and joined the work world. Now it holds about 2 million. It's overwhelming at times. Not just the traffic, but the smog--which got much better for a while--is getting worse again. Construction is infilling everything, and usually higher (no more 1-story office buildings).
I've actually been threatening to move elsewhere since 1976 or so. Colorado was on my radar at the time. [Note: But that was more because I wanted to move around like we always had as a family. We can see how well that worked out.]

Friend who recently moved to Victoria BC said:

when my parents brought me to Sunnyvale in 1962 there were still orchards everywhere, I-280 didn't exist, US-101 was still the Bayshore Freeway, and CA-237 was still a 2-lane country road.
As you know, we decided to bail out for someplace less metropolitan. It helps being retired because I don't have to care about finding a well-paying job

Then I responded:
Yeah, the job thing for sure. 
I think that things weren't too different in 1968. Going to friends' houses, I'd bike past orchards in our neighborhood. Horse riders very occasionally came down our street from the stables 2 blocks away. Friends in high school cut apricots nearby for summer jobs. I-280 between San Jose and CA-85 wasn't completed until some time after we moved here, and the section going north to SF still went along Cañada Road (I remember the awful traffic on the annual high school honor society bus trip up and back). 
CA-237, yes, when we'd drive north on this 2-lane road for whatever reason (probably off to go camping), during the winter it was very clear that it ran through wetlands: water and ponds along both sides of the road in the fields. And plenty of time to look when stopped at all the stoplights. All hint of that is long gone. A real detriment to the Pacific Flyway. [Now almost all commercial.]
For many years, I made an annual trip from Campbell to Visalia, which meant north on CA-17 to I-280 to US-101 south where it was still Monterey Road aka Blood Alley for several miles, talk about traffic... Then eventually that section of US-101 was finished, and it shortened our trip by at least half an hour; then 85 went in from Cupertino to south San Jose, which shortened it by at least another half hour but increased the traffic noise at our house by a lot. Somewhere in there also CA-152 past Casa de Fruta was upgraded to a 4-lane freeway, which took care of the traffic jam there, so even a shorter trip. 
OK, this is fun. Really have things I need to do.
"When I was a kid, we really had it hard..."

  • Wikipedia discusses US-101's history going back even further than its fame as El Camino Real with the Spanish missions built starting in the last 1600s.
  • I love Casa de Fruta. My photos of one visit. ... And of another visit. (See captions: Hover cursor over image viewed smaller or larger.)
  • Map of expected Santa Clara County land use from this Army Corps of Engineers document written in 1959 (page D-3):
  • I haven't compared to current reality of industrial vs residential and commercial
    (I've tried for an hour to find a current land-use map; this old one shows more the Santa Clara city area--
    CA-237 angling up to the right, US-101 angling down to the right),
    but the former is now likely much lower than the latter.
    You can see that the SF Bay has vanished by their 2020 vision (even then some of the wetlands and/or the bay had been converted to salt ponds).
    True story.
  • CA-152: One of the few major routes out of the south bay. Once you're on it, you're stuck for about 25 miles. So if there's a major accident, you're stuck big time. On one trip, a semi caught fire. We were stopped, then slowly crept, for maybe an hour. Everyone herded past it on the very slanted center divide--watching semis drive on that was scary!

  • Construction ev-ry-where 24/7/365. I don't think it has stopped in 10 years. (in early 2000s, with the dot com bust, it slowed for a while). Often replacing "older" buildings of only one story.

  • Traffic. Not always 24/7/365, but sometimes seems that way.  This section always has brake lights and stopped traffic during commute hours and often just any daylight hours.

  • Looking down on my family's neighborhood, 1969. Almost everything in view built within the previous 1-10 years I'd say. One orchard off to the right (winter so trees are bare); chunks of empty green on the lower left (flat). None of that there now. And the smog, OMG THE SMOG! Many days you couldn't see those mountains at all!

  • From the same hilltop 40 years later. Can't see anything for all the trees (not complaining about trees...).  Above the bush in the previous photo is a yellowish-green field with 2-story buildings to its  upper left. That's the high school.  Here it's zoomed in 40 years later--above the shrub on the right side of the photo. You can see the buildings but barely see the field. (Smog is much better. After it has rained, it is often even clearer.)

  • And in the 1969 photo, above the people, there's another (closer) green rectangle; that's the junior high.  Here it's zoomed in from the same hill -- you can barely see the field (center right, with a line of evergreens along its far side). The arrow is our house.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Erasing: The Tag

SUMMARY: Someone needs to get some  use from this.

Backfill: Posted July 2. Parts from Facebook originally, June 29.

I splurged on this beautiful, solid, steel ID tag for Chip’s red collar a month or so ago. To replace the cheap one that was wearing out. I didn’t get around to adding it. 

I can't bear to keep seeing it sitting there on the table, where I almost got around to adding it to Chip's collar that previous weekend while the collar was off so I could comb him a bit. He was blowing his coat like crazy. But he liked the feel of combing/petting/caressing. An easy dog to groom.

It does not have the dog’s name on it, so I’ve added it to Zorro’s collar. Even though it doesn’t match.

It is harder than I thought it would be to admit that Chip won’t be needing it.

Sunday, June 28, 2020


SUMMARY: Random Chip. Because. So many things to remember.

Backfill: Originally posted on FB 6/28. Posted here July 2.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Zorro the Mighty Hunter

SUMMARY: No! Dead! Rodents! In! House! Please!
Backfill: From June 26  and 27 on Facebook. Posted here July 2.

June 26, 7:14 PM:

Day 3 of the Vermin Killer: Mongo gopher got taken down today. Zorro nearly killed himself in the process--fortunately I was home and went looking for him. When I finally yelled sternly, Zorro, Come!, I heard a sound near the hot wooden shed in the side yard. Or... IN the shed. He pushed through the crappy doors into the shed apparently to finalize the transaction, but they don't push out. Still clutching the monster in his jaws. Seemed happy to see me.

Dork. Must find a solution for those doors.

P.S. I don't know which are gophers and which are ground squirrels--I don't actually look that closely usually. "big furry dead thing that's not a cat." ;-) My soil is also highly clay and bakes like rock in the summer, however, I do water during the summer usually, and that probably helps them, no matter which they are.

June 27 12:07 PM:

Yesterday the mighty hunter was so desperately hot on a hot day--after spending quite a long time digging a mongo hole** under my waterfall-that-has-never-worked and then chasing the very large squirrel or gopher into the shed--that when I freed him from the shed, he brought the corpus delicti inside and dropped it on my front-hall rug. After I chased him outside with it, he came back in and dropped it on the rug in the downstairs bathroom. I chased him out again and when he brought it back in and dropped it on the kitchen rug, I started tossing cookies into the hallway while I extirpated the unwelcome "visitor". ("In a bag in the trash" = "destroyed completely")

Revisiting the scenes of the crime. Now you know, when you come to visit, which carpets to not rub your face on.

** Begging the question of who is really doing more damage to my backyard…

My beautiful hall carpet. Probably the one that I like the best in my house at this time. Not that it has a lot of competition, but I love the colors. (which, incidentally, are a rich deep red, and a wonderful navy blue, and kind of an ivory yellow.)And he dropped a giant corpse on it!

The bathroom carpet where Zorro's catch briefly resided.
(When the guy came to strip the wallpaper, fix the water damage, and paint the walls and ceiling, I said, don't bother painting the vanity; I want to do it!
In April 2019. The paint is waiting for me...)

The “kitchen” carpet. It’s really just something to wipe feet on, and for the dogs to land on when they come through the dog door with their muddy feet. But, still...
Side note I commented in Facebook:  The gophers are active enough this spring that I have been able to collect the dirt that they shove out their back door and use it to fill all the previous pits of peril created mostly by Chip but sometimes Zorro and rarely by gophers. I also am very good at finding all of those by stepping on what I think is solid grass and twisting my ankle. I have actually run out of places to put those mounds of dirt and am stacking it on my patio for future needs! Sheesh.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

A truly lovely evening.

SUMMARY: Good thing it was a good *#&;%^@# evening otherwise--

Backfill: From Facebook June 25. Trying to ease my mind of Chip's absence. Posted here July 2.

It was a really lovely evening. Zorro and I drove up to Milpitas to walk with my sister and her dog Abby, and they mostly ignored each other which was wayyyyy better than my concerns.

Temperature was great for strolling and looking at the hills. Saw a little smoke but didn't seem to be up in the hills, so that was good.

Found a beautiful piece of fractured glass.

Sister and her husband barbecued dinner and brought it down to my place and we had a lovely picnic on my patio, with a gorgeous sunset to top it off. (We have all been almost exclusively at home, very cautious when shopping, and have no symptoms...)

Oh, and then I remembered that I found a package on my front porch when I got home, so I took it out to the picnic and opened it and discovered that we could have a huge box of See's chocolates for dessert, thanks to another sister thinking of me and Chip. All together delightful.

Mostly. Just that one little thing...

Nice walk in Milpitas.

A little smoke in the hills but didn't see where it was coming from. Hope it was minor.

*#%&@&$@ 🤬

A beautiful piece of distressed glass!

Picnic in my back yard! Thanks to Chef Paul and my seester!

A surprise on my front porch in a big package marked
 "Perishable". Thanks, sister Ann!
Oh, my, I'll have to do a lot more walks now!

I didn't know who had sent it when I opened the box.
Didn't find out until a bit later.
Heartfelt message and I will certainly enjoy.

Picnic on my patio, with Zorro keeping us honest, and a lovely pink sunset.
(Well, it was pink in real life... I'll have to play with the editing sometime. Maybe.)


SUMMARY: Things one doesn't expect to hurt so bad.

Backfill: From Facebook originally June 25. Posted here July 2.

I dread getting out of the shower now. Every shower for 6 years, and now--nothing.

Zorro Has A Lot Going On

SUMMARY: He is keeping Human Mom busy.

Backfill: From Facebook June 25; posted here July 2

We’ve been working on weave poles – – first time in a very long time that I’ve felt like actually doing agility training in my yard. We haven’t been working on the dogwalk, but that’s OK, because Zorro takes it all by himself.

The hunting business is hopping.  Yesterday he caught a ground squirrel, last night or this morning, two small rats. (And the next day there'll be a gopher or squirrel, and the next day another squirrel.)

We’ve been going for a walk once or twice every day, which is the first time in a long time that I’ve felt like making that effort.

There’s always the shower to lick out after Human Mom squeegees it.

This morning, Human Mom did her best to play the game he and Chip would play: bitey face and then tuck tail and chase each other frantically back-and-forth in the upstairs hall and bedroom;
Zorro got fully into it, and mom used her hand as the bitey face, rolled around on the bed with him doing it, and then back-and-forth excitedly up and down the hallway.

And lots and lots of massaging of the neck and back and legs, and just snuggling.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

When Chip First Came Home--

SUMMARY: Remembering Chip. Rejects the World Sleeping Order.
Backfill: From Facebook June 23; posted here July 2

When Chip first came home, age 3, Tika and Boost were already sleeping on my bed. I wanted to (a) let the dogs become accustomed to each other's presence, (b) let Chip know that he didn't always get to sleep on the bed, and (c) confine him at night until I knew how well house-trained he was.
He scratched and bit at the softcrate, so I set up the x-pen next to my bed.

He'd have none of it. Repeatedly levitated from there onto my bed (no running needed, no floor required in between). I decided that (1) he definitely had the chops for agility and (2) I give up, he wins, I just wanted to sleep.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Martial Cottle Park mini-hike During COVID

SUMMARY: Zorro doesn't mind.
Backfill: From Facebook June 22; posted here July 2. Trying to catch up on my life here instead of lost on Facebook.

I’ve been avoiding walking in the park behind my house: Too many people mostly without masks these days. So we headed out about 6:20; cold air; strong chilling breeze that kept my hair blown over my eyes; overcast. I figured, all the wimps will be at home.

Hmmm—In the days of SIP **, apparently nobody is a wimp.

** Shelter In Place -- it has been just over 3 months now

And my mask broke.

But Zorro got to explore many, many, many gopher holes.

And we got about a mile in, fourth day in a row.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Tunnel Running and Games

SUMMARY: Remembering Chip. Missing this happiness so much.

Backfill: From Facebook June 21; posted here July 2

Chip learned to do tunnels from Boost. And he loves doing them. Just not when I tell him too. And he taunts you to chase him. And he loves being wet from playing in the hose, and whenever he rolls around in pleasure inside or out, he makes happy little noises.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

I Don't Want to Lose You

SUMMARY: Goodbye, Chip: Sometimes love just ain't enough.

Backfill: From Facebook June 20; posted here July 2

Now, I don't want to lose you,
but I don't want to use you just to have somebody by my side.
There's a danger in loving somebody too much,
Baby, sometimes love just ain't enough.

Are there things that I wanted to say?
And do I feel you beside me in my bed,
there beside me where you used to be?
There’s a danger in loving somebody too much,
and it's bad when you know it's your heart you can't trust.
Baby, sometimes love just ain't enough.

[modified lyrics from recording by Patty Smyth]

Friday, June 19, 2020

Goodbye Chip

SUMMARY: My little playing in the hose dog.

Backfill: From Facebook June 19, posted here July 2.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Really Bad News

SUMMARY: The technical cancer details. But wonderful vets.

Backfill: Most from Facebook June 17; posted here July 3

My regular vet, a wonderful human, took my phone inside to take photos of Chip's x-rays for me. (All appointments are outside for the humans; dogs go in.) And then he sat with me in the parking lot to explain them, AND he brought out a book with sample x-rays from a German Shepherd (appropriate, given his DNA test earlier this year) to compare and let me photograph them, too.

Four x-rays: What his looked like yesterday and what it should look like. Cancer nodules in lungs and other places (?), chest filled with fluid.

Chip's x-ray--fogginess around center is
fluid in his lungs/chest.
Also when zoomed in, you can see
lots of small dots, circles, whatever.
Lots of them. 
What it should look like. Clear. 

Again, fogging is fluid in his chest cavity.
And fuzzy dots/ovals/circles also visible in many places.
What it should look like.

The next vet, Dr. Maria Kuty, who helped me with Boost at the end 5 years ago, came this morning with less than 24 hours notice to ease Chip carefully and comfortably into a deep sleep and then out of his misery completely. One couldn't ask for a better mobile vet for this crushing event.**  She talked and listened and loved Chip. She delivers him to the crematorium and will bring his box back when it's ready.


** Note: In my mind and heart, it is the cancer that is killing Chip. If I weren't able to give the gift of relief, I'd have had to watch him slowly die over the next day or two, or worse, even a few days longer.  It has been painful to see him the past 4 days get worse and worse and worse. It is Chip dying that hurts so much, not the actions that I requested from the vet.

Goodbye Mr. Chip

SUMMARY: My sweet boy is gone.
Note: Also posted on Facebok, more photos currently.
ALSO NOTE: The original link for this was mucked up, so I reposted. If you bookmarked this before & it appears to be gone--that's why. But here it is, still same date and time.

I can't believe, can't bear it--third dog to die of cancer between 9 and 10. I am grieving for them all now and railing against the Universe.

Goodbye Mr. Chip

Chip (Finchester’s Butterscotch Morsel)
May 25, 2011-June 17, 2020

Monday morning, when Chip went to the vet, I suspected pancreatitis. Twenty-six hours later—Tuesday—I learned that cancer and fluid filled him. He is dying. Twenty-one hours later—Wednesday —the vet arrived and, just like that, my long-legged, skinny, perky, happy, bright-eyed boy is gone.

The one who loves people. The one who sometimes worries about something new until he has carefully figured it out. The one who is terrified of fireworks and thunder. The one who, no matter how many times I say “Stretch!”, doesn’t—until we’ve done other tricks and I’ve put the treats away. The one who takes everything cautiously, except exchanging expletives through the fence with the dog next door, except playing in a spraying hose, except for his Indy car tunnel performances. The one so soft, so smooth, who loved hands on him.

Wet dog! Happy spotted tongue!
The big dog with the small, black-spotted tongue who loved tiny toys. Who loved sleeping in his crate.

He interviewed for, then joined, Taj MuttHall in May, 2014 as a rehome from a family who loved him. He was going to be my next agility dog. After the first several classes, though, it became clear that it stressed his slow, studied way of figuring things out (he’d run and hide in a tunnel) and so he became simply a proud and excellent companion dog.

Things he loved the most:

- Going wild with the hose spray (watering flower pots became a challenge). When the spigot came on, he’d fly in from wherever he had been.

- Being touched: Lying quietly on his side being stroked and massaged, or standing for gentle brushing, or pushing his head between my knees to be wiped down after another hose spray experience. For as long as I wanted. And if it weren’t as long as *he* wanted, he’d wriggle and verbally demand more until I started again.

- Blasting through the yard’s agility tunnels full speed, back and forth and around, and then hitting a high-tension play bow just inside the end of one, eyes sparkling, waiting for me to say readyyyyy GO! and then blast to the other end of the same tunnel and wait again. And then explode out to the next tunnel. If I were inside, he’d do tunnels all on his own, the b-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-um sound of a dog breaking the tunnel speed barrier echoing into the house.

- Digging.

- Marking. Everything and often.

- Rubbing his head and back on my wet hair fresh out of the shower.

My sweet volunteer assistance dog—he’d come and get me if I accidentally closed Zorro in the garage, or if Zorro found an open gate and went outside to explore, or if my alarm went off (any alarm, any time of day), or if anything occurred inside or outside that he wasn’t sure what it was or felt that it was out of place in his carefully ordered world.

He is deeply intelligent, in a quiet genius way: He’d consider each piece of each thing I wanted to teach him, maybe for a while, and try a couple of things cautiously, and then more confidently, and then he’d have it. No wildly offering random behaviors for him.

In that way, he replayed my beloved thoughtful-learning Remington (1993-2003), whom he resembled , which is how he ended up coming home with me. Like Remington, he wanted to smell my breath once daily (only 2 dogs to do that). Like Remington, he loved to run, but agility wasn’t high on his priority list. Like Remington, he has cancer in his 9th year.

My heart is sundered.

And yet I am replete with gratitude for those who brought him into my life so that every day I could laugh and smile repeatedly with him and could receive as much snuggling as I wanted. What more could I really ask?

March 20, 2014 - New dog!
That look...!

August 14, 2004 - First time through dog door on his own
(Full set of photos: Dog Door Success!)

June 17, 2020 - Le Chien Soleil 
Really, Human Mom? More photos?

Daily - Full-speed flying through tunnels


NOTE: the same text with a bunch more photos should be viewable on Facebook at the moment: https://www.facebook.com/ellen.finch/posts/10221178115937779

ALSO, just copied them (and maybe more) to my Smugmug photo site under Chip Photos for His Obituary.

I'm posting this now, butI have many more photos to add. Trying to cull from 6,000 with so little notice--

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Fucking cancer

SUMMARY: Fucking cancer

Backfill: From Facebook June 16; posted here July 3.

Fucking cancer!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Everyone Drives to the Vet

SUMMARY: Chip is with the vet. What is up with him?

Backfill: From Facebook June 14; posted here July 2

Well, here we are in the vet’s new waiting room, Chip inside the building getting checked out, Zorro and me hanging out in the back seat of the van, watching the world go by.

Oops... Apparently human mom is sitting in the back seat and Zorro is taking over the driver seat.

(They'll check him over and draw some blood and call me back tomorrow. )

(Vet says to watch and see whether he's having trouble breathing when he's not stressed at the vet. I find that he really is at times--take a video for the vet. It is not hot, and he has not been active recently. Here I can also see how much weight he has lost so quickly. He still looked good 2 weeks ago but that was another symptom--)

(Tonight I'll make a list of his symptoms over the last couple of days to give to the vet tomorrow as needed:)

Chip doesn't feel great

SUMMARY: Chip is not feeling well. Off to the vets we go. It’s one of those weeks.

Backfill: Posted partial on Facebook June 15; added here July 3

Appetite dropped way off suddenly on Friday. Now it's Monday and worse. Even though Human Mom has been trying to feed him an attractive but bland diet.

Da heck, Human Mom, whut dis nasty whites you is hide da chicken yums in?

Side note-- my comment on FB about what could be going on: Maybe too many plums. That is my working theory. And I’m thinking that it’s not an issue with the plums themselves, but with the salicylates that they contain, because that can trigger pancreatitis in a dog who’s already had an episode. I learned that this morning online (It almost seemed like the pancreatitis acting up, but he has been on a low-fat diet, and I haven’t been giving him anything other than that, so I looked up what could trigger pancreatitis, and it listed the 10 most common things, one of which was salicylates, and I said, a-ha!), but we will check with the vet to see what’s up.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Freedom to Live

SUMMARY: Following yesterday's Freedom to Roam--but with a different demographic.
From a facebook discussion about racism, homophobia, and the like, since the riots and protests have dominated the news for the last 2 weeks: June 13, 2020

The discussion was long and good. Trying to summarize:  The Civil War wasn't really that long ago--people may still be around who talked to people who had stories from their childhood.  My family wasn't from the south, but my mom up until she died shortly before 2020 could talk about things that her grandparents did as children--she was born in the '20s, so her grandparents would've been born in the 1850s or '60s. Attitudes die hard, and much of the south is still proud about seceding from the Union over state's rights. (They'll also claim it wasn't about slavery. Right. Read some of their secession statements.)

Jim Crow laws existed through most of my elementary school years until the Civil  Rights Act of 1964.

Loving vs Virginia, striking down anti-miscegenation laws (you can't marry outside your "race"), came as I neared my Junior High School years.

This, from my life, somewhere between those two events. Nothing dramatic in some ways, but oh so telling.

When I was in roughly K-1st grade, we lived in a well-integrated neighborhood in southern California. It wasn't something I thought about; it was just that way. My good friend next door from kindergarten spoke English pretty good; her parents were OK at it, her grandparents who lived with them spoke only Japanese as far as I can recall. I had only a vague idea about what or where Japan was, so it didn't matter.

The family that moved in with kids our age, none of whom spoke much English at all, I think were glad to encounter my mom who did her best with a Spanish-English dictionary to welcome them and get to know them and assist as needed after their flight from Cuba with nothing. Mom did try to explain about Castro and how badly he treated his people, either trapping them in Cuba or imprisoning them for trying to leave or, when they left, as with this family, confiscating everything they owned, including the woman's wedding ring. That they were Cuban was meaningless. That Castro was a bad man was the message.

The black family in an apartment between all of them also had a son my age who was in my K class. We were all just kids.

My class back then. Who's a blonde female minority of one? I never noticed that, either.
Then we moved to a growing town in Colorado, then in the mid-'60s to an IBM town north of New York City.

As far as could tell at my age, they both seemed pretty much like everywhere else I lived. [In retrospect: other than the couple of years described above: white, middle-class professionals, no divorces, I'm not sure I even knew what divorce was.]

A family moved in next door to us with five girls  our ages. (We also were 5 girls.) They were black. You can't help but notice that in a world of light-colored faces, but it didn't matter one way or another to me. Was friends with the girl my age and somewhat less with the other ages, which is normal. Had her over for sleepovers a couple of times--that's what we kids did as an excuse to stay up late, I suppose; so, different friends, different weeks.

Visited her home often. One day when I went over there, she introduced me to her grandmother. I said, "Your grandmother? But she's white?" And she said something like, yeah, so? I just had to process it for several seconds, then fumbled a bit, realizing that I had just embarrassed myself, and decided, yeah, so? I had certainly picked up the world view from somewhere (probably in southern CA, just from my experience, not anyone told me) that  people married people who looked like them. Had never had an opportunity to see otherwise. Now i did have the opportunity, and that was that. I was in 5th or 6th grade.

But it speaks to how segregation, whether mandated or societal, enforces assumptions about how people should live.

Same timeframe. Had started to spend time with a girl from a couple of blocks over. We'd play together-- barbies or read comics or just doing whatever kids do. (She wasn't into my other favorites like cowboys or Batman or Green Lantern or climbing and exploring.)  One day while I was with her, a couple of other girls called me from behind another house to come over for a minute.  I did, and they said, why are you playing with her? She's Jewish!  I knew that Jewish was a different religion, because when my girl scout troop went caroling in the neighborhood, we sang different songs for the Jewish houses (dreidels and the like). We knew which houses they were because all the kids knew all the other kids.  We were all in classes together--there were only 2 classes of each grade level, and each year was a different mix of us.

But I didn't know that that meant I  shouldn't play with someone. I have no idea what I said to them or asked them. I have no idea what they told me about why. I think I ran home and asked my mom, leaving my poor friend behind. And I think I got some explanation that those girls were not nice people and being Jewish was just like anything else that any people are--just one descriptor and nothing to affect whether I played with them or not.  I'm pretty sure that I didn't understand then that my dad's dad had been born into a Jewish household.

So, anyway, the girl and I continued our friendship and were best friends until we moved away.

The only photo I ever took of my best friend
while living in NY.
Oh! Found this in my dad's photos. Us at Halloween.
I think because I wanted to use my grampa's former
magician outfit, and she had a fancy white dress.
I made the hat myself.  Also: Sam the family dog.

So much peer pressure is out there, and if it comes from your parents instead of, or in addition to, your neighbors, it could be powerful.

Here in Silicon Valley, we had only two black families in my neighborhood with kids who went to my Jr High and High School.  Encountered the ones my age and was a casual friend of one; didn't think about it, she was just another kid working in the school library with me. Doesn't mean that I wasn't becoming fully aware-- the "race" riots of 1967 and 1968 were the year before we left NY, and I learned a lot when MLK Jr was killed, and I learned more when our class' trip to Washington DC was postponed because of the  additional race riots and protests.

And here we are in 2020, still repeating. And repeating. And repeating.  As protests exploded around the world at another needless death of a black man.

Disclaimer: Written all in one flow from the brain. It's long. Maybe a little interesting and/or relevant.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Freedom to Roam

SUMMARY: But, for my dogs, only in my yard.
From Facebook discussion June 12, 2020. About the concern for things like whether the dog might eat the neighbors' oleander leaves (which are toxic to dogs) that drop into the yard.

Different people have different approaches towards giving their dogs free rein in the house and, in particular, the yard.

Amber in my tiny townhouse yard.
Would hang out under the storage bin where she could
 peer through cracks in the fence  boards to watch the world go by.
I never thought about them being free in the yard particularly; they just had access. My family's dog (a Collie mix) had freedom in their fenced yard. My first dog (German Shepherd / Golden mix) was about 6 months old when I moved to a townhouse with a patio/"lawn" maybe 12 feet square and 8 foot walls all around, so she grew up without obvious danger accessing that enclosure without me around.

So, by the time I moved to a place with a normal yard, she and I were accustomed to her being on her own out there (w/access to the house).

My entire townhouse back yard.
My dogs get gradually more autonomy as they grow up and/or as I get to know them better and learn what their mean propensities for consumption are. [That's a sophisticated economics joke to impress you with my wit and perspicaciousness.]

I've been lucky and so far had no dogs who were at any obvious risk for eating dangerous things in the house or yard, and I do my best to keep my yard reasonably free of potentially toxic things.

Domesticated foxglove near here,
just one of many colors.
(My last yard had gorgeous pale lavender foxglove flowers come up every spring and I miss them so much. I and dogs had been there for a few years before I learned that they were poisonous. Never saw any of my 4 adults show any interest in eating parts. Also never had a real puppy there.)

Once they've earned it, during the day, they have a doggie door, hence, free run of the house and yard. I wouldn't do this with dogs under 20 pounds, probably. Or still in blatant puppyhood. Or if I lived in a location where, say, coyotes were wont to wander at will through my yard. Or if the yard weren't securely fenced.

Has worked fine with all eight dogs so far except for Sheba the Amazing! Escape Artist Extraordinaire! Had to work hard to keep her home.

But there are risks: Remington engaged with a full-grown raccoon one evening after dark and even at 55 lbs he was severely bitten.   A friend's dog found a skunk in the yard and paid for it. A mile from my house. Same neighborhood. Not big yards. Not wild yards. Middle of the suburbs on the flat valley floor. So--  I just keep my fingers crossed.