commuterchroniclesdbh

Driving and Biking in the Big City

Posts Tagged ‘pets

How does a pencil-skirted commuter climb a security fence?

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tiger

Little Lucy has a big roar

She has to be pretty desperate. If you’ve been commuting as long as I have – in years and in hours – then you know how desperate I am for hearth and home and wine at the end of a long day and an hour-plus commute.

Settle in for this one because it takes some ‘splaining and the ‘splaining starts with Little Lucy, a ball of fluff and an unexpected addition to our household. She came to us Halloween night, in need of a home. She’s shaken up our household and brought more smiles and laughter than I could have expected.

At eight-weeks-old, she had to be left home today with Big Dog Tucker for a bit while my husband went to some important meetings. As the usually longer-distance commuter, I’m never home first. But I was today and excited to be.  I couldn’t wait to let her little self out of the cute teal-colored kennel and get kisses and licks all over my long-day face.

That’s when I realized John had locked the back gate. Of course, he had. We’ve got a cool pool back there and no one was home. Unfortunately, my key to the gate hangs just inside the back door of the house. Now, I realized, that wouldn’t do me any good anyway because I didn’t have any keys to the house. I’ve been using this just-right-size-for-my-credit-card-and-iPhone as my side bag to my briefcase. My house keys were somewhere inside the house with my regular purse.

This wave of facts rolled over me as I heard the first cries and whines from my three pounds of mostly fur. It was a pitiful, pitiful sound.

First I ascertained that I was, in fact, screwed.  Back gate locked; front door locked; garage door locked; son’s keys to his own home and not mine; my keys not in the briefcase or console of my Clarence, my Rogue.

The cries from the little teal kennel continued, heartbreakingly louder every minute. Big dog Tucker was enjoying the show because I could reach over the fence, pet and reassure him.  He’s been around for 11 years and has seen many similar adventures. He knows that one of my pet peeves is to be locked out of my own home – something that happens way too often if I leave for a bike ride without house keys.

My first thought for a solution was of the two-by-three-foot, box-like plastic recycle bin on my side of the fence from recycle day. I didn’t really give it much thought before I tossed it over the fence, flat side up and against the other side of the fence. I was thinking I’d climb over and that would give me about two feet less to jump to the ground. Now, though, how was I to climb over on my side?

We have a marble bench that gave me a leg up, but, did I mention I have two new fake knees? I’m starting to think I may be jeopardizing my until-now record-breaking recovery.  I teetered on the marble and realized I couldn’t throw my leg over just yet and make my way down on the other side. I needed another boost of inches or maybe a foot on my side.

The barbecue pit is quite small. The fire pit is almost immovable. Thus, I chose the wooden rocker, swing and dragged it painstakingly over to the fence. Still, I’m not convinced I’m going to do this, and my sensible side of my brain keeps hoping John will return any minute to divert this action.

fence

Heights to climb at the end of a long commute

But, I did it. I climbed onto the marble bench, then to the higher arm of the rocking chair. I teetered from this height, thinking of the new knees before I threw my right leg over the fence and lifted my full body off the rocker, straddling the fence in my skirt – it had a lot more give than I’d have thought.

Finally, I could feel the recycle beneath my tippy toes. And TA-DA!! I was over. This reluctant commuter was home.

Lucy was released and everyone lived happily ever after. Now, let me put those keys back in my briefcase or change out this cute purse.

Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

November 15, 2016 at 7:07 pm

A dog walk is not a person walk

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When I got home from work today it was after a thunder-boomer that had dumped a few inches of rain on my ’burb and clogged my traffic for all 30 miles home from Houston. My Tucker-hound had been mostly housebound and certainly en-fenced all day and was ready for a change of scenery – no matter how hot and sticky his human would get. The waves of vapor were coming off the greenbelts and concrete streets like wintertime gutters in my Michigan suburbs, outside of Detroit.

As I looked back across the throbbing mist at the beginning of our outing, I felt a change in perspective that was new-dimensional. I decided to go with it. Go with Tucker. Let it be his walk, not mine.

Dog professionals say that hounds smell scents as distinctively as humans see colors. We see a rose stand out in a field, and he smells a rabbit from its morning trail. Tucker decides our path, sets our pace and stops and stops and stops along the way.

Now that I have aching knees from too much tennis and racquetball, I bike while he walks. He is on an extended leash because we are on the streets and greenbelts and not on the water-logged banks of the gully. Blue Streak is the perfect bike for this because it goes as slowly as Tucker. It has a wide seat for sitting and waiting while he sniffs down to the last scent from last year or maybe two years ago.

He pauses longest on the path to the park. Does he still smell our Patsy-girl, gone now for four months? How about Andy-dog from a few years ago? He wouldn’t even know ol’ Barney, the Dalmatian who walked those roads near Detroit as well as another neighborhood in Kingwood.Tucker on the hunt

The smells must be like photos in an album to Tucker. He is reminded of old friends who used to be his companions on this walk. We stop longest at the decorative logs where every four-legged friend leaves a calling card. He smells a rabbit, a stinky boy walking home from the pool and maybe a squirrel. He has the taste of squirrel in his mouth from last week when he caught two on consecutive days, leaving squirrel tail feathers in his mouth.

Experts say that the sense of smell is the most significantly linked to memory, and I wish I could sniff as powerfully as Tucker and call up a full blown memory of Patsy walking beside us. Her hound ghost would walk beside us and maybe we’d be joined even by Andy dog from my three-dog days. Those were wild and out of control walks. Andy was an incredible specimen of canine magnificence, strong and physical yet mild mannered and easy going. He would lull me into a smooth, relaxed walk only to jerk me, face down into the dirt when he spotted a cat under a car. He fooled me every time. Bloodied and bruised me many days.

Patsy also kept both Tucker and I on our heels wondering if we would be dragged into the bushes, attack some unsuspecting neighbor or make a mad, powerful dash for parts unknown. She was a mischief-maker, unlike Tucker who is so easy that I’m inclined to take over the walk and make it human. But I won’t. This is a dog walk and not a human walk.

I compare my sights to his smells and know we have absorbed just about everything possible in this mile-long, 30-minute walk. I see the deep green of the newly watered leaves and yet spot the moving lizard as it jumps from one thin trunk to a wider one. An orange butterfly catches my eye and a mushroom blooms from the earth. Tucker, on the scent, pauses at a bush to sniff and move deeper into the woods to sniff again. Could this be Romeo, the aptly named hound whose owner allows him to roam our neighborhood most nights? Now that Tucker and I walk the gully most evenings, we don’t see Romeo as frequently but we know he’s making his rounds.

We pass up the park where we hear kids shouting and playing and choose, instead, to take a singular path that backs up to few houses and gives us deep breaths of peace. Tucker trots counter clockwise on the roundabout – like my own preference when I’m not forced to obey traffic laws. He pauses once to look up at me with curiosity, and we discuss whether or not he needs water in this humidity. Of course, I have plenty and offer him some. He takes a little but then gestures that it’s time to go home.
In the end, the sweat drips into my eyes and blurs my vision again, reminding me of the heat that originally had altered my view. We are nearly home and I lean forward and unleash my powerful companion. I ride, he runs for home.

Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

August 4, 2014 at 6:02 pm

When home is colder than the big city

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Andy dog and a butterfuly

Andy Dog photo by Big Johnny

Disclaimer: This is really a sad and violent blog today. It is dedicated to my sweet Andy Dog who ran the roads of Kingwood anytime he got the chance. He was a hound’s hound, sometimes running until the pads of his feet bled on the concrete. I watched him run right into the path of many cars. He was wiry and fast. Once, when just a puppy, he jumped out of the window of my truck, slipped out of his dog collar and ran the roads of a strange neighborhood. We were always lucky.

But, as we all know, luck runs out quickly and when you least expect it.

It happened for a neighbor and her sweet Princess this week when Princess was killed by a hit-and-run driver just a block from my house and on the very last leg of my commute home. It was far enough ahead of my car that I couldn’t quite tell what was happening. I saw the pet owner run from the grassy area of the gully and just fall into a clump on the side of the road. It was only when I pulled my car up beside her that I could tell it was a woman and her dog. I didn’t know her but knew the dog, Princess, and had seen them walking all the time. Princess was a small little white dog, Jack Russell-looking. I believe the pet was killed pretty instantly but her body was still beautiful and fully intact.

I reacted instinctively. I know it surprised the owner because it surprised me, too. I just parked my car, jumped out and ran to help. We were both wailing and hovering over the dog to see if we could do anything. We spent about an hour, just crying and angry. I was holding the owner while she held Princess. It’s really shaken me up to watch the sweet thing die like that. I can’t get over it. Then, I can’t forget the carelessness of the driver who was going so fast and didn’t stop.

A third neighbor and I just sat with the owner, so upset while time stood still. Eventually, I went home for a box and the other woman got a towel out of her car. We finally moved Princess into the box, taking off her collar for the owner as a keepsake. Then we wiped all the blood off of the owner and ourselves. It was so terrible.

The other neighbor, who was a bit older and more experienced with such tragedies, talked about how people can be so inconsiderate and preoccupied.

“This is our home,” she kept saying. “This is our home; this shouldn’t happen at your home.”

I wonder what would have happened if the driver had stopped. At first, we compared descriptions and considered tracking her down. It was a mom with a car seat for a baby in the back of the car. She was entering the neighborhood instead of leaving. We were crazed and angry. But, in the end, we knew it was over. My neighbor’s four-legged companion was lost forever in a moment of carelessness. It was unforgivable. Nothing more could help.

Here’s the pretty good part, though. When it was all done and the owner finally stood up and wasn’t crying so much, we made incredible human contact with each other and the third woman. I saw her and she saw me. We were unprotected and honest with each other. We hugged like we were part of the same universe, easing each other’s burden just a bit. A real connection. That doesn’t happen very often. We never exchanged names or phone numbers, but I will know them when I see them again. We are kindred spirits. I saw them and know them. They know me.

Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

March 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm