December 20, 2017
or literally any day after 3pm
November 23, 2017
Year 1, we asked you to click.
Year 2, we asked you to share.
Year 3, we asked you to pay it forward.
This year… well, 2017 has been tumultuous in so many ways. Just getting up and going to work has been tough when it feels like the world is falling apart. At work, we’re having to “do more with less.” Sometimes you have to find something to brighten your day.
Eddie is a handsome, golden 8-year old. He snores and he sheds and he gives slobbery kisses. He goes on walkabout when his person is attending a “no dogs allowed” meeting and he gets bored. He’s sweet. He’s the most popular being at the office. You see his face and it just makes you feel happy.
Eddie has a very important job as a guide dog for Q (not his real initial). They are world travelers, happy hour partakers, and together they’re living their best bachelor lives. They’ve been together for 6 years. Q says it’s maybe taken that long for them to really get used to each other.
[Let me be clear: I understand what is or is not appropriate behavior between service animals and not-their-people. I have read enough stories online about people distracting service animals and tragedy striking. There are boundaries, and I respect them. Everyone at work respects them, and we asked Q how we should or should not acknowledge Eddie when they joined our office. I also asked Q’s permission before taking these pictures of Eddie.]
At 8, Eddie is starting to slow down. His walking pace isn’t what it used to be, and he’s stopping for rests at times that may not be convenient or safe for he and Q. Eddie is otherwise in good health, but he’s aging, like the rest of us. In late September, a rumor went around the office that Q would be retiring Eddie and getting another service animal.
All hell broke loose, and that’s not an exaggeration. There were shushed hallway conversations. People asked Q what his plans were, what Eddie’s plans were. Q wants Eddie to be able to be a dog in his twilight years. No fewer than five coworkers offered to adopt Eddie when the time came (I was one of them). Q is Eddie’s entire life. Would he understand?
Yesterday was Eddie’s last day at the office. He’s spending the holiday at a friend’s house and then heading off to his new home with X (also not his real initial). I stopped in to see Q today, because he leaves right after the holiday to meet his new guide. He’s nervous and excited. I asked how he’s feeling about letting Eddie go. The good news is that Eddie will be living with a family that are good friends with Q. They’ll see each other. He’ll get updates. Q’s looking forward to meeting his new guide dog, but there’s so much that needs to happen as they bond and adapt to each other; it’s going to be a busy December for them. I cried a little when I said bye to Eddie, getting one final sloppy kiss that left a slime trail on my sweater (worth it).
While Q adapts to life with a new guide dog, Eddie is beginning a transition to civilian life. He’s going to be living with a family with small children. He’s got a yard and extra room in a house. But he won’t be hopping a plane for a jiu-jitsu tournament or heading down to a local pub for a young professional’s meet up. Not often, anyway. Suburban life awaits him.
We wanted to do something for Eddie, because he deserves to be rewarded for doing his job so well for so long, and to celebrate this transition to retirement.
This year, we’re happy to give Eddie a 6-month subscription to BarkBox. Zozo loves his BarkBox and seems to know that the blue and tan box is for him when it appears on our porch each month. The treats are good quality and the toys are fantastic and durable. Our hope is that Eddie will enjoy these special deliveries, too, that are just for him.
Momma has not been writing a lot about us recently because of human reasons. BUT I got bored and figured out her computer password. I am on instagram and twitter now. Follow me? I will follow you. We can sniff each other!
summer in washington, dc can give you the blues. i told mom and dad we should get away for the weekend: enjoy some fresh air, disconnect, commune with woodland creatures. and so here we are, on a trip to lost river, wv. i was promised adventures and all the sniffs.
friday, august 4
mom and dad furiously finish packing. i packed the night before [okay, mom packed for me because 1) i do not have thumbs and 2) i am not allowed to counter surf]. we all exercised this morning and ate a good breakfast so that we’re not “wiggly monsters” in the car.
11:15am. finally in the car. i am a road warrior; they are a mess. see?
we like to travel together and listen to podcasts and sing along to showtunes while we drive. dad steals my harmonies. jerk.
12pm: we detour to the woodstock brewhouse for lunch. they have barbecue and a patio that i’m allowed to sit in. dad had some pulled pork and sausage sliders. mom and i shared some brisket.
one of the tricks to our travels is packing some extra towels. sometimes, places allow pets but the area does not have any shade. mom and dad have gotten very clever at rigging tents for me, but i usually prefer to be out and about, looking at the people and letting them look at me. i also like to flirt with waitresses. i am a lady’s pup, after all.
1:15pm: we get lost so it takes us a little longer to arrive than expected. someone needs to refresh her map-reading skills. we rented the hideaway through airBnB. it’s awesome, and very welcoming to pets. they left treats for me, and there’s a dog bed and an extra leash and a ball chucker toy. i spend two hours sniffing everything.
3pm: mom and dad leave to see what’s happening at the lost river general store. i settle in for a nap. i wish they had brought me because they said the people were very nice and there was ice cream. i love ice cream and i only get to have it on the most special occasions. vacation is a special occasion.
4pm: they return and we rest on the screened-in porch. mom and i take a nap.
6:15pm: mom and dad leave to go to dinner at the guesthouse, which is just around the corner. while they’re gone, a big, scary thunderstorm comes through. i cannot believe they have left me in a strange place by myself during the apocalypse. this is not the adventure i signed up for.
8pm: between rain drops, mom and dad come home. they feel bad for leaving me during the storm. we snuggle and i get to eat some apple because i was a good, brave boy while they were gone.
9:35pm: last pit-stop of the night. i investigate for bears. none sighted… yet.
saturday, august 5
8:04am: time to get up and start our big adventure day. the big, scary storm took away most of the heat, and there’s a breeze on. mom borrows a long-sleeved shirt from dad because it is chilly. it is going to be the perfect day for a hike. but first, breakfast. i choose to dine al fresco this morning.
9am: after being a little lazy, mom and dad go out to get their breakfast at the lost river grill, and then they go to the farmer’s market without me. this wasn’t the plan. i was supposed to go, too, because it is dog friendly. so much stuff here is dog friendly. i love it.
10:21am: we figure out which trailhead we will pick up, pack our backpacks, and head out for our big hike. mom did not bring my backpack, so she has to carry my stuff. lost river state park is over three thousand acres of wilderness and animals and campers. we take the white oak trail up to cranny crow overlook.
11am: it is a four mile hike, out and back. i lead the way and set the pace (doesn’t it look like dad is running to keep up?). dad walks me up. mom walks me back. we encounter horses on the trail, which i think are either the biggest dogs i have either seen, or dinosaurs. we also meet other hikers who tell me what a nice boy i am (duh). while we walk, we sing songs and talk about serious things like what else is brown and sticky, other than a stick (answers: horse poop, mud, old bananas, the apple we left on the counter overnight, avocados that have been in the fridge too long. you get the idea)? at the summit, we stop for water and protein. dad has a nut bar; i have cheesy treats. it is a great hike.
1pm-ish: we are back at the car and i get a good brushing and pat-down to make sure i have not picked up any critters on the walk. all clear! the plan was to go to a pond next so that i could do some swimming, but i am too tired. maybe swimming tomorrow?
1:21pm: back at the hideaway. we have showers and snacks and a lazy afternoon.
4:42pm: mom and dad start preparing for dinner with the ingredients they bought from the farmers market. i help dad man the grill.
5:30pm: we eat our dinners outside and i get to have a bite of steak because i was such a good boy today.
for the rest of the evening, we read books (mom) and comics (dad). as for me, i am turning in early. only one more day of vacation. boo.
sunday, august 6th
8:04am: i am a routine-machine. the sun is awake and so is my tummy. time for breakfast and morning hunting for bears. it is still very chilly outside and today it is also grey, so i think we will not be able to do swimming.
9am: mom and dad leave for breakfast, and i begin my end-of-vacation sulk.
10:09am: mom and dad come home. they begin to pack up bags and wash dishes. we finish digesting breakfasts by reading on the screened-in porch. no one is eager to get on the road, least of all me.
10:57am: dad is loading up the car and mom is doing last checks. i am buckled in to my flight suit and acting grumpy. we lock the cabin and return the key to its hiding spot. we will be visiting dad’s parents on our way home, which will break up the ride and delay the real return to reality.
best. weekend. ever. until the next one.
This gallery contains 9 photos.
Things have been hectic here in DC, and I needed a bit of a break. So, I booked a flight, said goodbye to the boys, and headed to Key West, FL for my first-ever solo vacation. I packed way too much into my long weekend, but I did what I wanted when I wanted. I stalked all of the famous authors homes. I ate frozen key lime pie dipped in chocolate. I collected to-go cups frothy with adult beverages. It was pretty glorious.
One of the reasons I picked Key West– other than the sun, people watching, and pirate history– is Ernest Hemingway. Even more specifically, his cats. He loved cats, and often professed that they were the most emotionally honest creatures living; Hemingway himself was not a particularly emotionally honest human. He thought they brought luck.
Hemingway was given a white polydactyl cat by a ship’s captain passing between Cuba and Key West sometime in 1936. This cat, Snow White, became the first six-toed cat on Hemingway’s property.
Polydactyl cats carry an extra gene that manifests as extra toes on both the front and/or back paws. 53 cats currently live on the Hemingway property, and they all possess the polydactyl gene although only (!) 17 of the cats have the extra toes. So many mitten-feets!
The gates to the property are wide open during the da, and there are trees that stretch over the gates and walls that surround the house, but the cats stay where they are. They’re born there. They live there. They are buried there.
They receive food, treats, medical care and tons of love from visitors. Each cat is named after a ’30s or ’40s celebrity. And really, they’re as attention-seeking as some of their namesakes:
The cats are not up for adoption, although about 10 years ago a couple made off with F. Scott Fitzgerald, poor tom-cat. Now the guides says they take a peek inside the handbags of crazy cat ladies who come through. I get it.
I’m particularly fixated on polydactyls because of Athena, she of six toes, walking like a runway model because her thumbs get in the way. I feel like I met her long-lost relatives. Maybe she’s a descendent of the purloined F. Scott. SHe’s certainly as surly as I suspect he was in feline-form.
Hmmm…. this bookish girl can hope.
*they say “barked at”; i say “defended them from.” we apparently have to agree to disagree. (i’m right).
I SAVED THEM!
About a year ago, I started running. Voluntarily, with nothing chasing me. I bought good sneakers that fit my orthotics (my knees have history) and a Wind Breaker and a little belt in which to keep my phone for music. I used the Couch To 5K app to help me get started. If you were around my neighborhood, you’d see me jogging and walking and jogging and walking and huffing and puffing three days a week. I did it for exercise and to help prepare for a musical I was in last summer.
(To be clear, I tried to take Zozo with me. He wasn’t having it. It could be I was too slow or he was too interested in pooping when there were no cans around. Either way, opportunity lost.)
I hate running. I struggle with it, but I keep at it. I like the fresh air. I like reporting back on homes for sale or new lawn decorations. But mostly, I like that I get a chance to see neighborhood dogs.
Bradley is a handsome Sheltie who trots his dad along. When he sees you, no matter how far off, he sits and waits. His dad waits, too. You may not pass Bradley without petting him, for he will follow you until you pet him. Sometimes coming and going, I get some Bradley love. Bradley’s dad gets a lot of interrupted walks.
Ariel is a German Shepherd with the largest ears I’ve ever seen. She moved into a house as a puppy, and it’s been amazing to watch her grow into her feet. Her eyes are amber. When her dad walks her to the local middle school to collect her human siblings, she’s off-leash, focused and disinterested in sharing the sidewalk. Disciplined. So disciplined.
There’s a dog– sometimes two– that live in a house one street over. I refer to this dog as Evil Dog. I think his name is Storm. I’m not sure. He’s a fence charger and a jail-breaker. From out of no where, he’ll come charging the fence, barking at passers-by, not at all phased by the beeping of the electric fence collar his owners have on him for extra restraint. Maybe I’m being unkind– I suspect he’s lonely, bored, or poorly socialized– but he scares me to death every. damn. run. (One time he hopped the fence and walked to Home Depot. He was found in the plumbing section.)
A Burmese Mountain Dog broke away from his tweenage companion and knocked me over, stood on my legs and licked my hair. The crackle of a changing voice screaming “MOM”, “HELP” and “HE’S JUST A PUPPY” was heartbreaking. When I realized I wasn’t being mauled to death, we all calmed down and had a giggle. And then I cried the rest of the way home. Run cut short. (They have a fence now.)
The long-haired Chihuahua. This little thing, wearing a bedazzled orange harness, came running yap-yap-yap out of an open garage and chased me down the street. When I turned back to him, he put his tush down and hushed. I walked towards him and he backed up, turned around and started towards home. I resumed my run and he resumed his. I picked up my pace and flipped a corner. I have no idea where he went, but I hope it was home, along the sidewalk.
There’s a beagle who guards a neighbor’s chicken coop and generally hangs out in the middle of the street. He’s a weirdo. People just drive around him, or get out of their cars to shoo him home.
There’s an older Korean gentleman who walks his cat. I want to make friends with him.