I Did What I Had To Do

…which was the theme of the summer of 2012, and though it looks incredibly dramatic in print, it’s not, really.

First of all, my dear daughter was home, and now she’s gone.  No, she’s not my best friend, but we have a very good, close mother-daughter relationship.   We rode bikes down the bike trail every summer evening as we’ve done for years, keeping track as the sun set earlier and marked her departure to Rhode Island (damn).  By the way, we had one freaky memorable incident in early August: It was getting dark, and we both saw in our mirrors a light behind us, so we pulled over to the right to let the cyclist (*ahem* we thought) pass.  At that moment, my daughter’s bike dropped a nut 🙂 (it’s her dad’s bike, actually), and the fender started to rattle.  We turned around to find the nut, and the light that was following us was gone.  No one was there.  We instantly decided on a big “hell no!” and turned for home, nutless.  The next thing in our bike mirrors was…two lights.  No kidding!  We took the quickest route to get to the highway that runs along the Wisconsin River (only slightly less perilous than the bike trail) for the return trip.  It wasn’t until we were close to home that I reminded her about the double suicide on the bike trail two years earlier, which was where the lights had appeared.  My daughter has been trying to forget the incident ever since.  So I see dead people’s bike lights—COOL!  Didn’t sprout a single goosebump.

We also went to the Mount Olympus water park in Wisconsin Dells for a day (with the rest of the family).  It’s a great place for water, old-fashioned rollercoasters, and go-carts—the latter are the family favorites.  Mount O has a unique wave pool.  It doesn’t throw out a steady stream of waves; it stays calm and hits you unexpectedly with intermittent tsunamis.  It’s a blast, but painful.  I was rolled several times but got out of there with only a sprained shoulder and a sprained wrist, plus one nasty scrape on my ankle.  Success!  We went kayaking in Waupaca (beautiful lakes of crystal there, only beginning to feel the invasion of zebra mussels), where I found that YES I CAN capsize one of my “fat-butt” (aka modern and wide) kayaks, despite years of steadiness and several firm claims that they could never be capsized.  Alas, I was drawn into the water by the great gravity of my exposed Android cellphone.  My souvenir of the trip is now daily warnings about a ruined SD card.

One great advantage of having the daughter home was her help in training Maya the Pup.  We rarely needed pupsitters, and we could team up and be consistent with the little beast.  And I admit, a beast she was!  (It’s easier to say that now that she’s improved…)  I’d mentioned before that I’d stupidly forgotten how hard it is to raise a puppy.  To do the job right is totally consuming (that is, when you’re learning how to do it as you go).  Maya’s biggest issue—after not knowing the language, having a brain too immature to attempt to, and having zero motivation to please us—is her mouth.  She ate everything, including bark, acorns, and rocks.  She nipped constantly, being especially obsessed with wrists that were closest to the cellphones into which a person was talking.  She sank her teeth into my wrist several times (maybe the sheer emotion added to the gravity of the thing?  By the way, I will be trying that wrist-biting move the next time I go to WalMart, where cellphone usage is required of all customers by law).  In any case, her nipping is now almost entirely gone due to the reaction of (1) screechy “ow!” + (2) “NO” + (3) ignore.  Very effective.  Puppies hate being ignored.  We’re still working on the Consumption of Everything problem.  I throw away every rock and piece of wood I find (or it gets tossed into the street).  I’ve sprayed her favorite targets—and let’s not forget kitchen cabinets here—with doggie bitter spray, vinegar, and hot sauce, which she laps up as if it’s Hollandaise sauce.  The behavior is decreasing, but not going away.  Maya racked up a $300 vet bill for X-rays and an enema to remove that bark (and possibly some constipating dog food).  Add that to the normal puppy shots, two parasites from the farm life, and a urinary tract infection (which set back that potty-training a bit, lemme tell ya), and you’ve got one expensive puppy.  And to think, all this was going on while my daughter and I were intensively working with her.  No wonder I had no time to write…

One the positive side, Maya is pretty clever.  With a more skilled trainer than me, she’d be brilliant.  I finally understand that the theory is to get your dog to do many things, choose the desirable behaviors, name them, and reward them.  Then those behaviors increase in frequency.  Maya just turned four months old, and she can do the usual sit, lay down, come, and stay (let’s not confuse knowing with obedience—that one escapes me, and I’m just not getting consistency yet).  She has also learned the useless but amusing tricks of rolling over and also crawling like a WWI soldier in a trench.  (Hey, I saw the opportunity and went for it.  Cracks me up every time.)  I’m still working on transferring this training technique to training the writers who report to me.  They know something’s up if you toss them M&Ms.

My daughter accused me of leading her and Maya on deathmarches.  Hey, one two-hour hike around a lake does not constitute a deathmarch, whether you’re a 21-year-old female or a puppy.  However, two such marches…?  We took Maya to Devil’s Lake, near Baraboo.  My husband was too busy to watch the pup carefully that day, and we figured we’d take a chance on how she’d behave during the ride in the crate and the adventure.  It was the best day of Maya’s young life.  There were dogs EVERYWHERE (following park rules, of course), free treats (still some Japanese beetles on the bushes, LIVE!), and everybody wanted to visit the puppy.  She even got to attack the waves in the lake, which she learned were not intimidated in the least by her biting.

the real deal and me!

devil pup, Hollydevil, and Devil’s Lake

Next week, the pup gets to further inflate her vet bill and be spayed, so as not to pass on her bitey little genes to another generation, and to keep tender-hearted me from potentially dealing with puppies in the future.  I don’t think I could take that…I hear a weak one always dies, and what if the pups aren’t all spoken for?  We’d have a hard time accommodating another dog, let alone I never give up on animals, so unwanted pups would never go to the pound.  Usch.  Anyway, this reminds me of my favorite website ever (besides WordPress?): http://dog-shaming.com/.  It reminds me that my dog is normal because NO dog is normal.  Get the logic there?  I’m also considering how to decorate Maya’s cone when she bears the Cone of Shame after her operation.  Here is my inspiration, compliments of dog-shaming:

now this is art!

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~ by rebuildingholly on September 8, 2012.

4 Responses to “I Did What I Had To Do”

  1. Summer flew by this year but sounds like you were busy!!.. I love the notes on Maya’s cone..lol..Priceless 🙂

  2. lol…keep ONE puppy? I ended up keeping an entire litter of kittens (once) because I couldn’t bear to part with them! Puppies….I’d need to live in deep country…I can’t even resist a DOG! (Lovin’ the update on Maya)

    • I’m glad you’re bearing with my Maya comments. Training her has been absorbing a lot of my time, but it’s paying off! She is becoming a great dog with good habits. I’m glad you kept the kittens. You have a good heart!

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