Hot Diggity Dog

Ringo the Dog came to live with us 10 years ago and I’ve mentioned his crazy antics often over the years, including, but not limited to:

  • The night he ate our couch.
  • The day he chewed the leg off the coffee table.
  • His fear of vacuums.
  • His love of snow.
  • The times he’d snuggle in my lap, even as a 90-pound dog.
  • The way the word “walk” sent him into spasms of joy.
  • The way he’d act like I was returning from a 90-day world cruise, although I’d just gone downstairs to get towels out of the dryer.
  • The way he couldn’t corral the grandkids, and it drove him bonkers.

Good BoyFive months ago, Ringo the Dog passed away. It was unexpected and heartbreaking. There was a sudden emptiness in our home that had been filled with Ringo begging for treats or running in and out of the doggie door.

We were all dazed, unsure how to move through our dogless days. There was no furry distraction keeping us from sliding down the death spiral of today’s political chaos.
I had to start talking to my husband. I had no good reason to go for walks every day. No one jumped on me when I got home from work. Well, my husband did, but it just wasn’t the same.

Few things are as satisfying as a warm, happy dog snuggled next to you.

So.

For my birthday in July, we decided it was time to get a puppy. I yelped and jumped on the Google machine like an 8-week-old Pomeranian to search for dogs. I was quickly overwhelmed with the sheer number of puppies and the high-level of cuteness available.

Then I saw a German Shepherd/Lab puppy on the Community Animal Welfare Society website. I contacted the CAWS foster mom and was told he’d already been adopted – but his sister was available.

I couldn’t drive fast enough to meet this little ball of furry energy. Even before I’d held her, I knew she was mine. When we discovered her birthday was Star Wars Day (May the Fourth), that clinched it. #StarWarsGeek

We named her Jedi.

After filling out the application, where I had to list everything from how often she’d go for walks (daily) to what Netflix shows I binged (all of them), CAWS finally approved her adoption and we brought Jedi home.

Jedi-2monthsI forgot what it’s like to have a puppy sleep between your feet as you get ready for work. I get overwhelmed with happiness every time she pounces on her squeaky toy. I find reasons to stop at PetsMart every day for treats and toys and accessories. My husband suspended my credit card.

My 2-year-old granddaughter can finally boss something smaller than her. My 7-year-old grandson spends time training her to sit and lie down. (The puppy, not his sister.) My husband’s adjusting to having Jedi knock the lamp over every single day. I’m floating on a puppy-shaped cloud.

I tried to invoke the Family Medical Leave Act so I could spend all day with Jedi watching her explore and grow. My boss wasn’t buying it, so I dash home during lunch for some quick puppy love.

I know we’re in the puppy honeymoon stage and soon our sweet little girl will turn into a velociraptor, only with more teeth. But I also know time with our pets is so short. That makes it all the sweeter. Jedi didn’t replace Ringo, she’s just a rambunctious extension of his joy.

I’m sure every dog owner thinks they have the most wonderful dog in the world. The best thing is, they’re right.

Originally published in the Davis Clipper

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Ringo’s Healthy-Living Advice

Ringo the Dog has weighed exactly 84.9 pounds for the last three years. Luckily, he’s a border collie/lab and not a Chihuahua, or he’d be an incredibly huge mutant.

I could learn a lot from Ringo about creating a healthy lifestyle–if I cared to do that sort of thing. When he and I were discussing the subject, here’s what I learned about incorporating heart-smart habits into my lazy life:

  • Eat treats one at a time. Ringo gets a couple of tasty biscuits, flavored with things dog love most–like peed-on tree stumps and dog crotch. But he’ll take one snack to his special treat-eating space on the carpet, and enjoy every single bite. I, on the other hand, eat treats by the bowlful without the use of my hands.

pie

(I will die face-down in a pie tin. And I’m okay with that.)

  • Get regular exercise. Ringo takes two walks every day. That means I take two walks every day. Occasionally, I’ll change things up and we’ll try “jogging” for a few blocks. The problem is, I jog so slow there’s time for him to sniff a few plants, pee on a couple of shrubs and chase several gophers, all without falling behind me. But he keeps me moving.
  • Only eat when you’re hungry. If Ringo’s not hungry, he won’t eat. Sometimes his breakfast becomes his dinner since he’s had no desire to eat.  I eat until I start leaking French fries. And then I keep eating. (And I wasn’t even eating French fries.) But there are also those times he sits with his nose in  my lap while I’m eating chocolate, pizza, (anything, really) as he waits for crumbs to drop onto his lolling tongue. So I guess it’s okay to splurge once in a while.
  • Get lots of sleep. Napping is Ringo’s second-favorite thing. (His favorite thing is attacking/molesting my daughters when they come to visit.) When he’s tired, he’ll plop down and sleep. On any surface, in any location, in any position. He doesn’t feel guilty, make excuses or try to pretend he wasn’t sleeping. He embraces his naptime.

IMG_20130725_162409

(Sound asleep. And snoring.)

  • Let off some steam. Sometimes you just need to bark at the neighbors. Or frantically dig holes in the backyard. Or run through the doggie door at high speeds. Or dance around the kitchen while waiting for your walk. Those are much healthier choices than eating a gallon-sized bucket of cheesecake bites or bitch-slapping the stranger in front of you at Walmart.

If I can incorporate even ONE of these healthy-living tips, I will be on my way to a happier, stress-free life. Time for a nap.

Why Ringo Hates Halloween

Good Boy(I am a good boy. A very good boy.)

Once upon a time, there was a crazy-ass dog named Ringo. Although his family loved him very much, Ringo was a neurotic freak, with a tendency to overreact to. . . well. . . basically everything.  Along with canine-induced ADHD, Ringo also suffered from AAA (allergies, anxiety and arthritis), making him an itchy, nervous and crippled doggy companion.

One day, Ringo’s owner (Lady Peri of Kearns) was walking Ringo when, all of a sudden, giant Halloween inflatables popped up on the neighbor’s lawn–scaring the dog poop out of poor Ringo. Barking didn’t scare the scary inflatable spider away. Growling didn’t even phase it. But did that stop Ringo? NO! He growled and barked all the way down the street, turning around to make sure the spider knew he had caused Ringo MUCH anxiety.

spider(Someone needs a big can of Raid.)

The next day, Lady Peri decorated the house for Halloween. She placed pumpkins, ghosts, ghouls, skeletons, witches and other nightmare-causing props in strategic places–except Ringo was now afraid to come in the living room. He was convinced the witch’s cauldron was going to eat him–or at least take his chew toy. So Ringo jumped on the couch, growling softly, only leaving the safety of the couch cushions to eat. Or to glare in Lady Peri’s direction.

Ringo Glare

(I hate you, Lady Peri.)

When trick-or-treaters visited Ringo’s home, he went delirious with fear as Hulks, vampires, goblins and Miley Cyrus costumes paraded up and down the porch. Ringo hid behind the La-Z-Boy, hyperventilating into a doggish dementia.  Turning to emotional eating, Ringo tried to steal chocolate bars from the big bowl o’ candy Lady Peri had left unattended.

Screeches, screaming, banshee wailing and loud moaning coming from the Halloween CD didn’t do anything to ease Ringo’s terror. His howling didn’t do anything to ease Lady Peri’s nerves.

Finally, the month of terror ebbed, leaving Ringo in a pile of furry panic. Lady Peri took down the bats and zombies, and the neighbors deflated their 6-foot inflatable spider. Ringo could breathe easy again.IMG_20130725_162409

Until the next day when the neighbor’s giant inflatable turkey appeared in the yard.

Ringo’s Tips for Living

Living with a dog is a lot like living with a zoned-out stoner. They both stretch out across the couch all day, smell bad, mooch out of the pantry and don’t have jobs. But I LOVE our puppy!!!

In my last Life and Laughter column, I wrote about the last two years since we adopted Ringo. (Shhhh. Don’t tell him. He doesn’t know we’re not his real parents.) Here are some life-isms I’ve learned from our crazy-ass puppy:

(Ringo, two years ago. I don’t know the name of the dog sniffing his butt.)

Naps aren’t a luxury–they are a necessity. Ringo spends most of his day spread out across the living room floor, or couch, moving only for food, a walk, or a belly rub (see below). He has turned napping into an art form. Taking a cue from him, I will curl up around him on the couch until we both start snoring.

Belly rubs make everything better. Ringo LOVES having his belly rubbed vigorously. In fact, when he sees us coming, he’ll roll over so we have better access to his tummy. But NO ONE better touch my belly. I will slap you. Instead, I’ve learned that shoulder and back rubs make amazing substitutes for the belly rub.

(Ringo, letting it all hang out for a belly rub.)

Eat only when you’re hungry. We feed Ringo twice a day. Sometimes he eats, sometimes he doesn’t. He doesn’t ever feel the urge to clean his plate or finish all of his dinner; unless steak, gingersnaps or small pieces of cheese are involved. I haven’t quite mastered this lesson since I eat anything that isn’t plastic. And some things that ARE plastic.

Be excited about going outside. Ringo has trained me to walk him twice a day. Each walk is an adventure for him. He’s as excited today to walk as he was the very first time we took him to the park two years ago. I especially like our winter walks when no one is outside. Great way to clear my head.

Sometimes a hug makes everything better.

(Giving my daughter a hug. Or strangling her. I really can’t tell.)