Archives for category: animals

I spent a long weekend hanging out with this happy drunk. In the meantime, Hayden got a cut on one of his toe pads, so he is currently on a dog-park hiatus and gauzed up and wearing my sock. I don’t know if there’s something in my water with Miu gashing her front right leg and now Hayden gashing his front right paw, but the next foot injury had better not be me.


The cat is currently coned because her stitches in her front leg haven’t totally healed yet. I have to monitor her while she eats since I uncone her for food and a little bit of grooming time and she can do an impressive amount of damage in very little time if she gets to grooming that wound.

I’ve been putting water directly in her food bowl with the kibble to make sure she’s getting enough water, and I top it with some fish oil to entice her to her bowl. (Kibble-water-gruel sounds pretty terrible, you know?)

I fed her and watched her eat this morning while I had my morning coffee, but since the dog was also requiring my attention, I put the cone back on Miu. As I started Hayden’s short training session, I heard the “hurrrk hurrrrrk” of an impending vomit. I found her and grabbed her, but I couldn’t get the cone off in time, so she vomited fish-oil-water, most of it staying in her cone. She freaked out because the vomit started to seep down around the collar and wet her neck, so she gave a mighty shake of her head and body and sprayed fish-oil-water everywhere, especially onto me.

I managed to keep my grip on her and carried the clawing, dripping, yowling mess to the hall closet where I grabbed a towel, wiped her down, carried her to the bathroom where I unceremoniously deposited her onto the floor, washed her cone out, re-coned her despite her mighty protests, and hopped in the shower for my second shower of the morning.

That is why I’m late to work today. And I will not take my cat’s usual independence for granted again.

This is my favorite Hayden-face, the face that he makes when he’s really, really focused on something he wants and doesn’t realize his lips are stuck. It betrays his ridiculous personality that’s usually all hidden away in the regal GSD packaging. And the cat judges him for it.

Happy second Gotcha Day, bud. You got a good serious face going, but I know you’re just a doofus inside. Just. A. Doofus. Aroooo.

It’s been eight years since she came to live with me as a two year old “adult” cat. (Joke’s on me with these Humane Society rescues and misplaced expectations — I didn’t know that cats could live to be 20, in which case, should a two year old really be called an adult?) She was confined to the house after construction started in our neighborhood a few months ago, but she’s back to being an indoor/outdoor cat lest she drive us both to insanity and she’s really become an incredible hunter. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed, but I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t want to throw up in my mouth a little every time I have to “take care” of a half-dead creature (*ahem* euphemisms) or almost step on a fully-dead creature. You’d think the bloodstains on the driveway would serve as a “stay away” sign, but apparently, our neighborhood has an insane vermin problem. Not in my house, thanks to Miu. (And not in our neighbor’s house… Apparently, Miu charged into their house and sussed out a mouse and they were more than happy to let her carry it off.)

Anyway, I have a folder on my phone called “Things Miu Brought Me” so I made you all a little collage. Click to enlarge at your own risk. Top center is a her latest kill — a rat. A goddamn rat. That she dragged into the house.

Hayden lives for two things: mealtime and chasing his ball or frisbee. Hayden is Lucy’s favorite at the park. Lucy, a compact Schnauzer/Aussie Shepherd-mix,  is an insane bundle of energy with a prancing run and a propensity for chasing other dogs. No store-bought toys for her; other dogs are her toys, and Hayden is her favorite.

Hayden is her unwitting rocket, she is his shuttle. He pays her no attention because he’s learned that she doesn’t want his toy. The only sign that he even realizes she is there is his slight acceleration when she’s hot on his heels. He only has eyes for his toy, she only has eyes for him. She gives him just enough space so that she doesn’t get tumbled during the unpredictable launch and she waits just a fraction of a second for him to take off so that she can find her position half a body-length behind. Always chasing. At full speed, they’re a formidable and mesmerizing duo worthy of a couple gasps from onlookers every time. 

When forecasters predicted five steady days of rain, her human and I commiserated as only high-energy-dog owners can.

He shrugged as he said, “We’ll probably last until Saturday or so before we cave. My wife says, ‘You know, you can always wash the car.'”
“But your car, right?,” I asked.
“Of course, my car,” he nodded with a wry smile.

Savants usually have some drawback trait (perfection is rarely found) and Lucy and Hayden are no exception. They also share the unfortunate honor as “rudest dogs at the watering hole” at the park. It’s actually a three-way tie with Cindy, the black lab. The way Hayden uses his mouth to drink is not unlike the way an alligator slams its jaws on its prey, sloshing more water out the sides of his mouth than he gets down his throat, leaving behind a disgusting drool-laced foaming slop (which I hurriedly throw out and refill with fresh water while muttering apologies at these polite-dog owners [honestly, where did you guys get your mild-mannered dogs?]). Lucy is insistent about washing her paws in the bowls and sometimes laying her whole upper body in the tipped-over bowl and resulting puddle. Cindy’s habit of sussing out any water source within the park, whether in bowls or in hidden puddles, has her human always carrying around a pre-emptive towel and yelling, “Damn it, Cindy!” whenever we hear a splash. As much as we try to monitor their behavior around the water, we are no strangers to towel-lined cars. I’ve met mature dogs, mature puppies, even, and I’m coming to terms with the fact that Hayden simply is not.

Hayden sprained a toe last Sunday slipping on some wet grass, and I kept him home from the park for an agonizing 72 hours. (No concern necessary, he still got his thrice-daily walks.) We went to the park yesterday after he lost his limp and then he reinjured himself in a collision towards the end of the session. It turns out, as Hayden found out, no matter how determined, you cannot run through a pitbull. Luckily, the pit, solid as a rock, emerged uninjured, but Hayden limped off the field.

This morning, he emerged from the crate with a very slight limp, but by the time I got home this afternoon, he had no noticeable deficit in his gait. We found ourselves in a brief spot of sunshine between two storms, so we headed down to the park to take advantage of this respite. After I had him trotting after lazy throws for about 20 minutes and monitoring his gait, Lucy showed up with her human and it was game on. I think he was waiting for her to show up because once she arrived, he started pushing his toys at me with renewed insistence. They went full-throttle for a while before I called him off and we headed home.

When we got home, all of a sudden, he started walking with a significant limp, even though nothing happened at the park that would have reinjured his toe to that extent. I suspect that Hayden has realized that I won’t take him to the park if he is limping and he masked his limp until he had gotten his fill of playtime. And once his focus is on the ball, he forgets his injury and loses any ability to recognize that he is experiencing pain. If you’ve seen the focus and drive in a police dog’s eyes when they’re given a task, you would recognize the same gleam in his. I can see him as a failed police dog — passed all marks for intensity and focus, failed for intensely focusing on things his trainer did not want him to focus on.

After owning Sachi and Clay, two highly self-monitoring dogs, dogs that would limp for a bit at the slightest incident just from the surprise, ladies that would look at you in disdain if they needed to pee while it was raining because ugh, my feetses are wet, Hayden is an entirely new animal to me. We definitely got his name right. Originally “Jake” from the shelter, bringing to mind images of a monotonous khaki-clad call-center employee, he was renamed after the motorcyclist Nicky Hayden who inherited his number 69 from his dad who selected it because it would look the same upside down in the dirt.

The next 48 hours should be raining steadily, so I’m anticipating a good amount of couch time as he recovers and I read through these rainstorms. Miu always joins us in our cuddlefests and I’m happy to be trapped inside, listening to the pitter-patter on the roof. Saturday will be our next opportunity for the park, but I’ll be manipulating his toes before we head out there again, lest he fool me twice.

Hayden (AKA Hey, doofus/ Heddo/ Doof/ Bunny) was my biggest concern in the month leading up to the physical separation. He’s technically my third dog, but I’ve always co-owned dogs because I’m a selfish person — I never trusted myself to be a good enough owner on my own. I worried mostly about how Hayden would fare as a crate-dog, whether he would tear up his cushions or whine-yell for hours on end. Crating him during the day is necessary so that I can have peace of mind while I’m at work knowing that he isn’t trying to escape the yard or pacing in circles and driving up his own anxiety. I believe this is the best way to keep his anxiety in check (short of getting another dog, which, hell no) and I think my resistance to crating has been my own doing in anthropomorphising his existence. The fact is, a friend reminded me, he isn’t a human. He doesn’t need to be treated like a human, and this is still highly preferable to his former life as a neglected, emaciated runaway. He’s done so well this past week, so much better than I anticipated, and I’m feeling a lot of relief right now.

That said, owning a young GSD is not for the faint of heart. The day starts at 5:45am because he’s ready to go in the morning. We walk up to 10 miles every day and we also do additional training on top of that. I spend at least three of my eight free waking hours every day focused entirely on him. The stakes are a bit higher as an owner of a big, high-energy dog and I feel the responsibility to train him well since I want to have a dog I can trust and take out into public (and so I don’t have to put any qualifiers on my “Yes” when people ask, “Is he friendly?“).

Hayden is not the dog I chose to get and he is not the dog I would choose to get again. As an inherently lazy person, I firmly believe the best part about going for a hike is the fleecey pants I get to put on my tired legs after a hot shower. On the other hand, Hayden’s favorite part of the hike is coming home to play tug ‘o war. Still, at the end of the day, I’m glad to have his presence in my life and to be his human. He’s kept my momentum moving forward when all I’ve wanted to do was to stay in bed. In return, I just hope that I’m doing right by him. When I see his tired, droopy eyelids trying desperately to stay awake at the end of the day, I think I’m doing okay. We’re doing okay.

But seriously, are you an old dog yet, dude?