You can teach an old dog new tricks

Zoey has lived with us for the past eleven years and for the majority of those years, remained in either the house or yard. She (and Coco) didn’t get to go on neighborhood walks (or open space hikes) because they were out of control on leashes. When they saw another dog, no matter how far off in the distance, they’d bark, growl, lunge, and generally behave in a bat-shit manner.

zoey-after-walk

Zoey right after we got back from today’s walk.

At one point early on, we spent a whole lot of money to have a personal dog trainer work with us. That strategy ultimately failed because of a lack of consistency. The dogs responded to me as the alpha, but couldn’t care less about pushover-Zippy’s commands or young Wildebeest and Zebu with their high voices and unassertive attitudes. The dogs still believed they were the alphas who needed to protect the pack.

It all came to a head years ago when I took Zoey and Coco for a walk. They went nuts when they saw another dog, and in their ensuing barking / twirling / lunging, knocked me to the ground. Both my knees were thoroughly black and blue.

That was it for me. I no longer felt guilty about having two dogs that never, ever left the yard.

And then Coco died. To help Zoey through her grief, we started walking her once a day. I’ll admit that it hasn’t been an entirely pleasant experience (one walk lasted a full three minutes because I had to drag Zoey home after she went ballistic at the sight of another dog), but I am pleased to say we’re having some enjoyable walks. Today’s, for example.

Zoey still has an alpha attitude, but she’s older and wiser (and a little less strong). I’m grateful we can give our old girl the gift of a daily walk.

 

 

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Coco, RIP

cocofor-rip

Joined the family August 18, 2005
Said goodbye November 17, 2016

You came to us as Cocoa, and Wildebeest changed that to Coco.
Over the years you were our Coco Sue, Susan, and Speckled Snake Dog.
No matter the name, you were always our funny friend
with the big eyes and catfish whiskers.
You could run faster and see farther than anyone,
and now you can do that forevermore.
Plus eat all the poop you want.

Rest in peace, Coco Sue.

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Hey ho! Let’s Go!

Okay, this is a stretch.
Coco isn’t a Ramones fan
and she doesn’t sing Blitzkrieg Bop.

Still.

This expression, as she stands at the door waiting to be let inside for dinner, just screams HEY! HO! LET’S GO!Coco

Or maybe I’m projecting a punk attitude on her because I know how when that door opens she’ll run inside and her back legs will go out from under her as she negotiates the turn to her food dish. Pure mosh pit enthusiasm.

Hey! Ho!

 

 

 

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Friday Five: The New-to-Me Edition

ONE: The right headlight on our 2004 Prius went out and Zippy fixed it with a new bulb (something he’s done four times over the years, thanks to the kindness of people who post YouTube how-to’s).

New bulb in the old car.

New bulb in the old car.

 

 

 

 

 

 


TWO:
We replaced our garbage disposal splash guard (taking only three trips to the stores to find the correct size), again thanks to the kindness of people sharing DIY knowledge.

My new view from above.

My new view from above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THREE: One night this week Zippy and I watched WILD, the movie based on the book by Cheryl Strayed, and an image from that film that’s stayed with me is Cheryl writing in her journal and then tearing out the page after it’s filled, and feeding it to the campfire.

WILD movie

 

 

 

 

 

FOUR: One of our two old dogs is suddenly walking like a drunken sailor and yesterday the vet told us Coco is (hopefully) suffering from “Old Dog” Vestibular Disease, so she’s now on some medication and we’re hoping she’s soon upright and back to herself.

Coco's got a new tilt to her head.

Coco’s got a new tilt to her head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIVE: Last fall Zippy and I dug out the raised bed on our patio that had been destroyed by our two old dogs, and replanted it with new perennials (before adding a barrier fence to keep out Coco and Zoey), and the new plants are poking through.

A new penstemon has joined the garden.

A new penstemon has joined the garden.

One Very Average Dog

“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.”
~ Andy Rooney

Zoey and Lebowski 002Zoey, of the unconditional love and bad breath, is at the vet’s right now receiving a “senior exam.” I’m hoping I’m wrong about what I sense. Either way, I’m leaving now to pick her up and bring her home to her best friend, Coco. The reunion will result in tail-wagging that would sting my legs if I was foolish enough to get in the way.magpie, coco, and zoey 012

Ties That Bind (Up Your Mind)

At the end of May, Zebu graduated from high school and was one of the speakers. The ceremony was held at Red Rocks Amphitheater (coolest place ever!), but we were seated halfway up the venue so had to rely on the Jumbotron. (Aside: It was a thrill seeing Zebu and friends on the big screen.)

My older brother and his girlfriend also attended, sitting even farther from the stage. Later on, he told me he couldn’t see a whole lot of details but did notice Zebu’s red tie beneath his black gown. I reminded my bro he’d given Zebu that tie for Christmas one year (along with white gym socks), thinking that was a cool factoid. NOT. Rather than feeling warm and nostalgic, my brother panicked a bit because he had no memory of that and went into a short tailspin about getting old and forgetful. I eventually helped the silly codger to a chair and handed him a glass of milk to calm his nerves, and we laughed it off.

Fast forward to today. I just found photographic proof of the tie AND gym socks. Behold, Christmas eve 2005:

l-r: Wildebeest, Zoey, Tracy, Coco, Zebu, and Uncle Pizza.

l-r: Wildebeest, Zoey, Tracy, Coco, Zebu, and Uncle Pizza.

I’m thrilled with this evidence, but am not sure whether it will soothe or further agitate my brother’s mind . . .

 

Friday Five: The Farewell-to-Lebowski Edition

On Wednesday, July 10, we said goodbye to Lebowski. We adopted The Dude (known as “Harry” on his adoption papers) from the Dumb Friends League in November of 2004. I went to the shelter with the intent of adopting another female cat (I’d had two females before, Diva and Isis), and instead ended up with the friendliest (male) cat I’d ever met.

Lebowski would run ahead of us and flop down on the floor, inviting us to rub his tummy. At which time, he’d purr in the loudest tones. Writhing in ecstasy.Lebowski 027Making that constant contactWhen people came to the house, he’d hang back a minute or two but then stroll out to make introductions. Lebowski viewed everyone as potential friends and ear-scratchers.Batman and Lebowski 002He had a good relationship with Coco (pictured below) and Zoey, the two shelter dogs we adopted in the year after he joined us. He tolerated their sniffing and nuzzling, and he repaid them with friendly swats on their heads from where he perched atop their crates.Dogs and Cat 026This summer was The Gift of Lebowski. Expectations were that he’d die in May but he stayed with us for almost another ten weeks. I spent most of the summer with him. Lots of time on the bed or couch, but increasingly either on the deck, the patio, or wandering the backyard. He had quality of life as he watched (and sometimes chased) the butterflies and stalked beetles. In the final days, he was happy to curl up beneath the yarrow and valerian where he could observe everything around him. Lebowski 004I like to say that Lebowski won the lottery when we brought him home because for the rest of his life he had four devoted friends who loved on him and satisfied his hedonism. But that lottery feeling went both ways. I’m forever grateful the female cat I’d picked out to meet/adopt didn’t want anything to do with me and that the shelter volunteer then said, “You know who’s a really nice cat you should meet . . .”

Words can’t do him justice.