Friday, July 30, 2010

Vacation, all I ever wanted

I was a little ... what's the word ... wary, I guess, preparing for our annual summer trek to Michigan this year. The 750-mile drive was to be Hathaway's first long road trip, our first border crossings with a pit bull, first time staying in unfamiliar houses for any length of time. With cats! (And toddlers, horses and chickens ...) There was a lot to be prepared for.

Silly me. Mr. Laidback rolled with it, the way he pretty much rolls with whatever situation we throw at him. Six hours in a car? It's a good time to catch up on some sleep. Motel room? New beds to sleep on. Customs? They barely looked at our passports, forget about the dog's papers. Strange house? Lots of corners to explore and stray snacks to find.

About a half-hour after we got into Dodge, er Romeo, the kids and I walked Hath over to the pool to meet my sister-in-law and nephews, who are almost 5 and almost 2. He won Jill's approval, was pretty much ignored by the boys and made a new BFF, Sofie, in a matter of minutes.

I was a little hesitant to let him off the leash around the pool, around the boys (who at their ages are very similar to bowling pins around a tank like Hathaway) and Sofie. But we got a tennis ball and the dogs played and ran -- exactly what he needed after two days on the road.

He was puzzled by the kids playing in the pool, thinking that they might be in distress, and started to get worked up and anxious. He looked like a canine David Hasselhoff, running up to the edge of the water, ready to jump in and save the children, but I really didn't want to find out if he'd actually make the leap.

I leashed him and headed back to the house, followed faithfully and unexpectedly by Sofie, who would not turn around and go home. She ran along in front of us, urging Hath to play. Of course, the minute after I let him off the leash, a huge doe sprinted across the road in front of the dogs. Sofie knew what it was and charged after it. Hath stopped for a minute, then followed his friend in futile pursuit.

He's afraid of the horses, likes chasing the chickens and finds the boys finger-lickin' good. He spent the dinner hour under the table, licking knees and snuffling for scraps. We ended our night with an unheard-of 2.5-mile walk filled with lots of new smells and territory to mark.

And, of course, some very loud snoring from the foot of the bed.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dog is my co-pilot

OK, this may be the worst picture ever, but you can sort of see Hathaway sitting in the front seat.

I know a lot of dogs ride in the front seat, but my boy has always stayed in his space in the back of the little SUV. We go for a ride, he sits in back. I run an errand, he waits anxiously, drooling, and with his nose smudging the back window.

So today, in Ontario during a brief stop to stretch legs, relieve bladders and fill bellies, imagine our surprise when we didn't see the silhouette of that damp little nose pressed against the tinted rear window. It was even more surprising to see him riding shotgun, nose pressed against the passenger-side glass.

For 11 months, he had a clear shot at the front seat, without any suitcases, computer bags, backpacks, smelly shoes, water bottles, juice pouches, books or beach bags to impede his forward motion. But Hath held his ground and maintained his space.

For nearly 600 miles in the last 24 hours, the pit bull sat out longer pit stops in higher temperatures. But something today, during the 15 minutes it took to hit the head and grab burgers to go, prompted him to climb over piles of stuff and plop himself in the front seat to wait. We can only imagine his motivation.

All in all, he is treating his first road trip like a great big adventure, which of course, it is.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

As we learned from our nation's founding fathers, the struggle for independence is never easy.

In honor of the Fourth of July (not really, but let's just say) Hathaway and one of his best friends, Lily, re-enacted the Colonists' bid for freedom the oppressive motherland, England. The part of independence was played by a blue rubber ball with a smiley face on it. (Believe me, it's in there.)

Our forebears, with the determination and gameness of pit bulls, were tireless in their struggle to wrest the basic freedoms on which the United States of America were founded from under the thumb of King James.

With clenched jaws, and often, bared teeth, the members of the Continental Congress debated forming a new nation. In the end, as you know, the pit bulls, er, Colonists, came away with the blue ball (independence) and, waving it in their opponent's face, pranced away from England to become America, united, under Dog, with liberty, justice and rubber balls for all.