Saturday, March 27, 2010

Don't drink the water

I always wonder what's going through Hathaway's head when I leave for awhile.

When we first brought him home seven months ago, it was easy to tell because you could follow either a) the trail of saliva from window to window, room to room as he searched for me; or b) followed the line of destruction from room to room as he chewed stuff when he didn't find me. As you know, Hathaway is a stress chewer. The good news is, he only swallows if it's edible (see There's a pit bull in my ... fridge? posted 11.13.09).

Fortunately, he seems to be growing out of his separation anxiety. He can sleep in the chair across the room instead of right next to me. I can go to the bathroom by myself and he'll wait patiently outside the door rather than try to push his way in.

And that makes me wonder what he does now when I leave. There are clues: paw-shaped indentations on the couch cushions, mussed up covers and pillows on the bed. Those are good signs; it means he's sleeping for at least part of the time he's alone.

Apparently, though, he's even more comfortable than I thought. On Thursday, when I got home, there were the usual clues, but an interesting new one as well: drops of water on the nightstand next to my bed and the book sitting under my half-full middle-of-the-night cup of water. Hmmmm ... I wiped up the water and left the cup where it was.

After running an errand for about 45 minutes on Friday, a drowsy-eyed dog met me at the top of the stairs. I checked the bed, and his spot was still warm. Looking at the nightstand, there were some drops of water near the almost-empty cup of water.

Now, I'm no Sherlock Holmes, but my best guess is that as soon as Mr. Please Don't Leave Me hears the car start, he heads upstairs, helps himself to a drink and goes to sleep. Of course, I discovered this two days ago, so it makes me wonder for how long and how many glasses of water he's actually been doing it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Requiem for an orange ball

Oh orange ball, my orange friend
I can't believe you've met your end

Inseparable were you and I,
and I carried you proudly, head held high

While showing you off to one and all,
"I'm Hathaway; this is my ball."

I chased you down through mud and Nor'easters;
kept bringing you back, out-retrieving Retrievers

You didn't break in my pit bull jaws
or under stomping pit bull paws

You kept your bounce, unlike the others
that split their seams and shed their covers

I could find you in a foot of snow,
and held you when I had to go

I shared with friends, Carmen and Danny,
Toby, Jake and even Manny.

We fished you out of the water before,
but this time you sank too far from shore

Dear orange ball, where for art thee?
At the bottom of the ocean, buried at sea.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fright night

It takes a lot to rattle me, but after walking Hathaway tonight, consider me rattled. Still trying to unwind.

I took the dog out tonight for a quick walk around the block -- 7-10 minutes tops. Just long enough for him to water the neighbors' bushes before we tuck in for sleep. Even though we don't do this every night, my pit bull and I have a usual route and a usual routine. And usually, I let him off his leash. Tonight, thanks to some sort of divine intervention, I kept him leashed.

We were walking and peeing (him, not me), and peeing and walking. We got about 40 yards, when Hathaway stopped, and looked -- alert to something behind us in the dark. I saw a huge, black shadow near a neighbor's house for a second, then it disappeared. It was enough to spook me good.

I couldn't help but think of the third Harry Potter book, "The Prisoner of Azkaban," when Harry thinks he sees a big, black dog, not sure if it's real or a hallucination. "The Grim," his Divination teacher calls it -- the symbol of death.

OK, so I read too much. And just home from book club, after a glass of wine, maybe I'm overreacting. I gave the dog a tug and said "walk," and we went a few more yards, starting up a side street, when he stopped again.

I turned and looked, and trotting behind us, 10, maybe 15 yards away, is the biggest coyote I've ever seen. It was the size of a German shepherd and the only thing telling me it was a coyote and not a wolf, was logic and a basic knowledge of geography. The beast was well-fed, had a beautiful coyote and scared the living crap out of me. It moved swiftly and silently, from house to house. It's trash night in the neighborhood. Plenty of goodies for a late night snack.

The coyote stopped and looked at us and we looked back, and then I yelled. Like an idiot. A loud idiot. Yelling as I searched and groped desperately for rocks that I could throw if he started toward us. "No! Go! Get!"

Thankfully, he went on his way, which was away from us, but I was scared. We finished our walk with Hathaway oblivious and me clutching my rocks, risking whiplash, trying to watch every direction at once.

I have been closer to wild coyotes before, so I'm not sure what made this different, why this time I felt threatened. Maybe it was the sheer size of the thing -- just devastatingly huge to be living that close -- and twice the size of my 60-pound pit bull. I was scared for my dog and for myself; something I've never felt walking or hiking or breaking up a dog fight. I know my dog could take care of himself if the coyote came after us. I know he would protect me at all costs. I just don't ever want to have to see it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hathaway and the Action Figure

Or maybe we should say Out-of-Action figure. Hathaway shares more than just a big head with "Alice in Wonderland's" Red Queen. His new favorite song is "Heads Will Roll," by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Off with his head!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The chronicles continue

Yes, I admit I made my dog his own page on Dogbook, the goofy Facebook application for dog lovers. I don't think I'll be updating Hathaway's status as often as I update mine, of course, but some would argue his status is probably more interesting.

I did want to share his profile picture though, because he just looks cool. Now, I am totally against those (mostly) crazy people who dress up their dogs on a regular basis. (Cough * Paris Hilton * Cough) My boy has his winter sweater, which matches his collar, because he has very thin fur and not an ounce of fat to keep him warm. That is the extent of his wardrobe, despite the best efforts of the kids. They never played with dolls but they want to dress up the dog. The Santa hat. A T-shirt. They have browsed other outerwear. No, no and no. Is it any wonder he wants to hide behind the dark glasses when they're around?

He's a pit bull for goodness sake. Let the dog have his dignity.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Remains of the Day

I was tired after a long weekend of revelry in Vermont and the 4-hour drive home, so can you really blame me for not unpacking the cooler? There was nothing cool in it, just a pot, cans of Vernors and some dry goods I had taken up to make breakfasts and a dinner.

I figured it was safe, sitting on the floor near the kitchen, lid securely fastened, and off I went to work on Monday. What I came home to would have made somebody proud -- Harry Houdini maybe, or more likely Yogi Bear. The cooler lid was off and discarded like last week's squeaky toy. The lid of the pot was vehemently cast aside, and the macaroni and cheese and maple syrup sampler boxes both had teeth marks. The jar of cayenne pepper, which had been in the pot, escaped harm. But the ripped wrappers of instant oatmeal and long grain and wild rice lay nearby, limp and empty.

Just for kicks, I left the cooler in its spot, still with the cans of soda inside. On Tuesday, the lid was again on the floor next to it, but everything inside was intact. On Wednesday, Hathaway didn't bother with the cooler at all, and there it sits, lid untouched. Nearby though was the peel from the banana I had strategically left on the kitchen counter.

Our little game of outwit-the-pit continues ...