A Quiet Evening with Moe and Willa

At Night with Moe and WillaAnd so it starts. Tonight it is with the gray blanket from the family room; other nights it’s the smaller blue blanket from the kitchen area. It is a routine repeated each and every night.

At the end of the day we are content to retreat to our bedroom to watch TV. It is a time to relax and immerse ourselves into the lives of our favorite TV characters. It is escapism at its finest. While we indulge ourselves, ever loyal Willa is content to lay on the floor beside my husband, when he’s home; on the bed beside me when he’s not. When the evening starts Moe is usually found outside taking in the sounds and smells of the quiet evening, occasionally conversing with the other dogs in the neighborhood.

As if tipped off to the fact that the murderer is about to be revealed or the lead character is about to deliver the cleverest comedic line ever written, Moe will prance into the room dragging one of the blankets that normally lie scattered around the house. This is not an easy task for the Big Brown Dog. Moe is often tripped up when his hind legs insist on planting themselves on the very blanket he is trying to drag. Persistence usually pays off. He will enter the room dragging his blanket of choice, stand at the end of the bed, look at us and bark one loud resonating bark, trumpeting his accomplishment and demanding he be rewarded for his efforts. Once sufficiently rewarded, with lots of ear rubbing and proclamations of what a good dog he is and sometimes some kibble or other treat, we will be left in peace. After re-winding, we settle into the quiet and attempt to rejoin the show. A few minutes will pass before a prancing Moe arrives with one of my flip-flops or one of my husbands shoes. He doesn’t chew these items, they are simply presented so that he can claim his reward. This familiar drill will be repeated several times throughout the evening before he finally collapses in the hallway or the en suite bath tub for the long night’s sleep.

Like most people we watch pre-recorded shows or we binge watch TV episodes on Amazon or Netflix. Thanks to the antics of our Big Brown Dog Moe, when we view a 20 minute episode it will take us 40 to 50 minutes; an hour show can take up to one and half hours. As frustrating as they may be, the interruptions by Moe would be sorely missed if they stopped. Who could possibly live without relishing the site of a large brown dog carrying around a bright pink flip-flop, chest puffed with immense pride at his accomplishment?

Fear

Grief has limits, whereas apprehension has none. For we grieve only for what we know has happened, but we fear all that possibly may happen.

Pliny the Elder

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are often ruled by our fears. Like the vast majority of people, I suffer from some phobias. Well to be honest, I may suffer from more than a few. There are extensive lists of “common” phobias. Below are just a few. Are you brave enough to claim your phobia?

Arachnophobia – The fear of spiders (That’s me)

Ophidiophobia – The fear of snakes (Me again)

Acrophobia – The fear of heights

Agoraphobia – The fear of open or crowded spaces

Cynophobia – The fear of dogs (Definitely not me)

Astraphobia – The fear of thunder and lightning

Claustrophobia – The fear of small spaces (Me once more)

Mysophobia – The fear of germs

Aerophobia – The fear of flying (Okay this is getting embarrassing, me again)

Trypophobia – The fear of holes

 

I think that dogs have phobias as well. Three of our four dogs have displayed Astraphobia, which should be expanded to include fireworks. A thunderstorm at night would find us surrounded by a whimpering and quivering mass of dogs, which included Moe, Tasha and Willa. Our king size bed became very small when it contained our three fearful dogs. Only Taz seemed immune. He would sleep peacefully through all the commotion swirling around him. New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July are nights of terror in our household.

With their keen sense of hearing this seems rational. Unfortunately, some of other phobias do not seem so rational.

Our Collie Tasha developed a “fear”of things in the sky. A plane flying over head

Tasha in TN
A Newly Groomed 12 yr old Tasha

would send her into a fit of frenzied barking. A bright full moon had the same effect. We learned to tolerate this eccentric behavior. It was the episode of prolong barking, and standing fixated, staring at a flag waving in the wind, in a roadside Rest Station no less, that broke the limits of rational behavior. Forever more Tasha was the butt of our jokes. We became convinced that she felt her purpose in life was to warn us of the impending alien invasion that would suddenly appear in the sky. Alas, she did not live to see her fear come true. Who knows it may still happen and when it does my husband and I owe her a big apology.

Memories

TazThey come when you least expect them, lured to the surface by forces known or sometimes unknown.

They start with fleeting glimpses, like the flash of light reflected off a raindrop. Similar to a summer rain they can remain soft and gentle; sometimes they built to a torrential downpour; sometimes they hit with the force of a hurricane destroying everything in it’s past.

So it is with Taz.  Often I cannot identify the trigger that brings the fleeting images of him patrolling our yard to my mind. When I see the dog bed he used as a home base, memories of him rushing in from the cold and dropping into it’s warm embrace flood my mind. I laugh to myself as the fleeting images gather strength and I remember that after wresting with Moe, he would run to the bed, like a child calling a time out, and the wrestling match would stop.

Although his time with us was short, Taz left behind a treasure trove of memories. I laugh out loud when I think about him getting stranded in enclosed areas. I picture the lawn in our yard where we had enclosed a section with wire fencing about two feet high. The grass was worn and damaged and needed a rest from the onslaught of our four dogs. One day I followed the sound of a whimpering Taz and found him standing inside the enclosure. He was clearly distressed. Despite the fact that he had made his way into the enclosure, he could not find his way out.

I laugh at memories of a stranded Taz at another house. That little house is surrounded by forest. When we moved in we were uncomfortable letting our city dogs wander loose, especially when we let them out after dark.  To solve the problem, we built a temporary fence of wire, in the backyard, and created an enclosure. This area was accessed from a set of patio doors in our living room. Our backyard could also be accessed through a door in the kitchen. This “kitchen” door lead into the area outside the enclosure. We used this “kitchen” door to take Tasha, who was having difficulty walking, out for her potty breaks. At the same time, we would let the other dogs wander freely around the yard. Moe and Willa usually followed us while we helped Tasha outside. Often Taz would be outside in the enclosed area.We would call to him across the yard where he stood, not more than ten feet away, behind the fence. He would stand in enclosure and whimper, indignant at being stranded. It became clear he was unable to navigate the steps needed to go into the house, through the dog door, run along a hall into the kitchen and out the kitchen door. Time after time, I would have to go back into the house, call him from the patio door, then lead him into the kitchen and out the door to freedom. It took several “guided” tours before Taz got the hang of the whole thing.

I smile and laugh at my Taz memories. Then the memory of his loss hits like a hurricane. As time passes the hurricane will get downgraded. Soon it will be a tropical depression. Then only gentle memories, like light summer rain, will remain.

The Headlines are Shocking

Rottweiler
Is this the face of a vicious animal?

RCMP say woman, man mauled by 2 dogs in home in British Columbia” Global News December 30

On Christmas Day Ms. B did something she has done hundreds of times. She opened the door to her trailer to let in her small dog. It is an action that dog owners know well, it something done routinely, an action that requires little thought. Unfortunately, on this day that routine action had tragic results. When the door to the trailer opened two Pit Bull’s charged in, chasing after the family dog. The charging dogs attacked the family cat. It was probably instinct that drove Ms. B to try and save the life of the family pet. She stepped in and was bitten by the invading dogs. Her partner Mr. E then intervened, attempting to stop the two dogs. After being bitten several times, Ms B. escaped to a bedroom and managed to call 911. The Pit Bulls continued to attack Mr. E, who exhausted from the relentless advances of the dogs, collapsed into a chair and used his arms to shield his face and neck. The attack continued until the RCMP arrived. It only stopped when the officers were forced to shoot the dogs. Mr. E remains in hospital and faces many surgeries to reconnect torn tendons and muscles in both arms. At this time it is unclear if he will have to have his hands amputated. One dog died on the scene, the other dog who managed to escape even after being shot, was found and humanely put down.

Young woman in hospital after ‘vicious mauling’ by dog in Richmond field” Global News December 31

On December 30th a visit to a local BC park took a very dark turn for twin sisters K and J and J’s little boy. On this day they took with them a rottweiler-husky cross, which belonged to J’s boyfriend. The dog was tied to a tree while the three played and romped in the park. Once untied the dog tried to attack the little boy. Police said K was bitten 100 times as she tried to draw the dog away from attacking her three-year-old nephew. J was bitten more than 20 times while protecting her son. Other people in the park intervened, hitting the dog with hockey sticks to distract it from it’s attack. The dog is currently in the custody of the Richmond Animal Protection Society. A decision as to what will happen to it has not been made.

Dog attacks are the subject of nightmares and horror stories (thanks to Stephen King’s Cujo) and yet here they are in real life. As a dog lover and parent I struggle to understand what happened. I can not explain it. Worse yet, I can not in all good conscience state that this will never happen again. We have to remember that dogs are animals. There are, unfortunately, times when instincts, those that we try to curb with training and breeding, kick in. One such instinct, which appears to be stronger in some dogs, is the prey instinct. It is not unusual for the instinct to chase, and perhaps kill, to be initiated in large dogs by small dogs and unfortunately sometimes small children. Do I think this means we need to stop having large dogs are pets? Definitely not. However, we need to be attentive to our dog’s demeanor. We need to be vigilant in watching our dog’s behaviors. Is he tense around small dogs? Is he tracking it? Just waiting for an opportunity to chase it? We need to stop potential problems from developing. You know your dog like no one else knows your dog. As a dog parent you are responsible. You need to acknowledge and be aware of potential triggers. Triggers that may change your lovable couch potato into a hunting animal.