Thoughts from the bark

You might remember that a while back, over a year ago, I blogged about Milo, the newest four-legged member of our family. Milo is still with us, but it has been an interesting year with the beast whom I refer to as my project dog.

Milo is quite possibly the best, easiest dog we have ever owned. He is reasonably well-trained. He is extremely easy-going and not demanding. But he has one little issue. Actually, it is one giant issue. He is aggressive. Fear aggression. Mostly towards people but sometimes other dogs. And when the 65 pound, out-of-control, barking, biting, monster comes out, it is a scary thing indeed. But with people he likes (all 15 of them at last count) and dogs he trusts (both of them), he is passive, roll over and rub my belly sweet.

For the first nine months or so that he was with us, we were very conscientious about working with him. Every walk was a training walk. We kept his life as structured as possible and tried to be absolutely consistent with him. We worked with a trainer. Thanks to some marvelous, patient folks at our vet, we can board him and have him doctored there. We can and do walk him around people and other dogs, but we are careful to maintain some space around him, keep him under control, and not allow others to approach him. At some point, I felt like I had done all that I could do. I didn’t have the wherewithal to become a true dog trainer. As one of our neighbors told me when I was lamenting that he is much, much better, but we still don’t trust him, “Milo is just Milo. You can’t expect him to be something else.”

Still, he generally works with our lifestyle and we will keep him as long as we can, although that might not be quite as long as his natural life. Our vet, trainer, and any other dog people we know have assured us that, quite frankly, we are Milo’s only hope for a normal cage-free life at this point. I have come to terms with the fact that we adopted a security dog instead of a family dog.

And now that I have all THAT out of the way, I can tell you about his latest quirk that has us laughing and shaking our heads.

Milo is a coward. This is at the heart of his aggression issue; his ‘fight’ instinct is stronger than his ‘flight’ instinct. Unless he’s not clear about what he needs to fight (odd sounds, sudden movements), and then he becomes a cowering pile of fur. A few days ago, Milo decided he was afraid of the kitchen. Milo’s food and water bowl are in the kitchen. The outside door that Milo uses is in the utility room, adjacent to the kitchen. We never crate-trained Milo, but we did kitchen-train him, confining him to that one room when we were sleeping or out of the house. It is supposed to be his safe, happy place.

Maybe it started last week when a glass fell off a shelf and shattered. Milo wasn’t in the kitchen at the time and I calmly barricaded him OUT of the room while I cleaned it up. I think now he is expecting a loud shattering noise to happen whenever he goes in the kitchen. Or maybe it is because I moved his food bowl onto a tray. This is a dog who does not like change. Or maybe he is like the child who is convinced that there is a monster in the closet and there is not much you can do to prove the negative. It would not surprise me to learn that this dog has a vivid imagination. So we’ll continue to coax and bribe him to traverse the kitchen to go for a walk, and we’ll laugh as he comes in and snatches a bite or two of food before retreating. And we’ll hope that this is just a phase.

You really want me to come in the kitchen?

That treat better be worth it.


Reasonable Excuses

Surprising no one, especially yours truly, I have already fallen off the noblopomo-starting-one-day-late wagon. But I shall not just throw in the towel, no matter how tempting that would be. Besides, missing a day has given me something to blog about.

A few years ago, I gave up excuses for Lent. The goal was to not just make excuses for doing and not doing things. I had to try to justify my actions and activities (or lack thereof) with reasons. Yes, yes, yes, it’s a very fine line, and I was no more successful at that than I have been at noblopomo, but it did make me more mindful of what I said and did. 

Rather that just say that I was uninspired and procrastinating, which would be true but sounds an awful lot like an excuse, I shall here list the things I have accomplished since I last posted.

1. I reached level 1309 in Toy Blast. I don’t actually know how many levels there are, something over 1400 though. Don’t do it, don’t go the App Store, you do not want to start this addictive puzzle game.

2. I walked the dog 3 times.

3. I reached level 97 in Roller Coaster Tycoon. I don’t even enjoy this game anymore. If I can just reach level 100 before they update it and add new levels I will take it off my ipad. Honest.

4. We went and picked out new seats for the 2018 Astros season. I should have taken a picture of the view from the new seats, but I forgot to in all the excitement of sitting in the seats and covering the availability tags and hoping no one with higher priority would steal them out from under us. They are two sections closer to home plate and 4 rows closer to the field. 

5. I reached level 1296 in TwoDots. (Are you sensing a theme here?) There are currently 1310 levels in TwoDots. Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians got me started on this game – another reason to stay off twitter I suppose. I usually keep up with this one, completing the levels as they add them, but I had fallen behind. I thought maybe I had given up the game for good when Hurricane Harvey upset my time-wasting schedule, but once I had noblopomo to procrastinate on, I recommitted to Two Dots. 

6. I did a minimal amount of household chores that weren’t really optional. 

7. I searched for any old notes I might have here or there about blog ideas. I found some, but remained uninspired. 

And now I sit in my local Starbucks where my ipad keystrokes are showing up with about a 13 second delay. And my free-with-rewards venti caramel brûlée latte is finished. And I promised myself that I wouldn’t go home until I had posted a tftb. I can think of no more reasons to avoid pushing the ‘publish now’ button. Excuse me for wasting your time today. 


When I decided to do noblopomo this year, I thought I might try my hand at a little fiction writing. Emphasis on little. I thought I might try some ‘three line tales’ or the genre I’ve seen referred to as ‘flash fiction.’ Now that November is over a week in, I’m not sure I’m feeling the fiction side of writing, but also not sure how I’ll post every day if I don’t start making something up.

I’ve always enjoyed writing but I’ve never been much of a fiction writer. At my most creative, I used to make up stories around reports that I had to write, to mixed reviews. My seventh grade social studies teacher thought I was brilliant, my college chemistry TA’s thought I was weird, and I was rebuked when I tried it at my first engineering job. I always thought I was clever, but none of those other appraisals were wrong.

Now D#2 is working on a novel during NaNoWriMo and she has been gracious enough to give me a few sneak peeks. I know I’m biased, but she really is a solid writer. By contrast, I started reading a self-published novel by a friend-of-a-friend. A review on the cover descried it as a “post-apocalyptic/survival/contemporary western/romance novel.” Yeah, life is too short for more than one chapter of that one.

When you read the good stuff, however, it has an uncanny ability to answer the question that you haven’t even quite asked yet. Like this passage that I read today from Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology:

Do you wonder where poetry comes from? Where we get the songs we sing and the tales we tell? Do you ever ask yourself how it is that some people can dream great, wise, beautiful dreams and pass those dreams on as poetry to the world, to be sung and retold as long as the sun rises and sets, as long as the moon will wax and wane? Have you ever wondered why some people make beautiful songs and poems and tales, and some of us do not?

I got my answer in a Norse myth and it was a good enough answer for me. Let’s just say that I have yet to taste the good mead…yet.