Thursday, November 08, 2012

Exercise Part II -- or the Dog Saga Reprise

Luie, Gus, and I have just returned from our morning "romp / bah! humbug!" walk in the park (you can guess which two think it's a romp).  As always, I return amazed at how brilliant my two pups are -- each in their own unique, incredible ways.

Luie does not greet other dogs appropriately and because of his energy and putting his nose where it really doesn't belong can start a growling, leaping dust-up.  This requires that Gussie -- half Luie's size --  must get right in the middle and start a full fledged fight.  Left to his own devices, Gus is friendly and out-going and knows every dog in the park.  Regardless of their size, he runs with them.  Actually, because Gus can NOT really run but pumps all four legs at the same time, he hops around with them -- but he's having fun and he's chasing after a big quarry, so it's all good. 

Luie is always on leash because of the blindness and this also hampers his interaction with other dogs.  When we find the labs and goldens in the park we skirt them, letting Gus interact as he can until he becomes tired and joins us at the edge of the park, as Luie and I amble from interesting smell to strange bushes inhabited by urban city park creatures. 

Yesterday all day was bad for me -- because it began with wiping up, disposing of, and the desmelling piles of runny poop left in the early morning hours by Luie.  Normal poop no longer fazes me -- but yesterday's steaming piles left me queasy and out-of-sorts all day long.  Luie was pretty much in my inner doghouse from 7 a.m. until bedtime. 

Gus, on the other paw, and I have begun to have "chats."  I tell him in simple language what I'm expecting.  I take his little beard in my hand, look him deeply in the eyes (he's always been a dog who enjoys staring contests with you -- except he has these baleful, huge eyes that just lure you right into his heart -- and they plead for love the entire time) and I tell him what I'd like him to do. "Gus," eye contact made, "Please come when I call your name.  You can run wherever you want, but when I call you must come right away." 

For three days now Gus has roamed the park at will, but always with his head and body alert to where Luie and I are walking.  One, "Gus" from me has brought him trotting right up to us to rub against my legs and let me know that he's obeying.  Moreover, he comes with joy and delight in his steps.  I'm incredibly impressed.  We've had Gus six years now - and I didn't realize that right before me he had turned into the very sweetest dog we had ever owned. 

I had known that our first pound Schnauzer, Miss Milly, was the strongest willed dog we'd ever had.  She truly was the Queen of all she surveyed.  She was also incredibly wily and could get around her family with ease, making sure HER needs were met at all times. Wolfie, Schnauzer #2,  had been my heart dog -- he loved me (and eventually Hubby -- but that took a lot on Hubby's part to get there) with a fierceness that will never, ever be replaced.  To Wolf I could do no wrong and he would die trying to make sure he had pleased me.  My heart will never heal from his loss. 

Fritzy, from a pound in Ottawa, Kansas,  was the scamp.  He wanted top billing in our household -- he was wiling to concede that place to Hubby but he never, ever gave me a secure second billing.  Every three months or so I'd have to turn him upside down and lay across him on the bed to remind him who was stronger.  He was also a sneak -- we never stopped him from peeing in the fine china tea cups and tea pot collection on the bottom self of the stereo cabinet.  He would growl at me when I'd try to get in bed with Hubby.  It was an on-going battle, even to the end. 

Gussie came when Wolf died, poor little boy.  At that point I didn't want another dog -- I only wanted Wolfie.  Fritzy, who loved Wolfie too, had gone under the bed and would only come out for car rides.  Hubby found Gussie in the same pound where we had adopted Fritzy and the two were immediate friends. 

Gussie doesn't seem to choose sides in the family.  Always before the dog had aligned with either Hubby or me but Gus, he's one-dog-fits-all type.  Even though Fritzy's pee scent was still in the house, Gussie did not pee on it.  He knew to pee and poop outside and that's what he does.  He loves his food but he's not aggressive or greedy about it.  He learned quickly to walk without a leash -- streets are "no-no's" and sidewalks are good.  Now he's relearned to come immediately when called, and he does it willingly.  He's friendly with adults and likes other dogs.  He shares the bed space while still wanting to cuddle with his humans.  He's a little pansy where pain is concerned -- he's the first moaner and whimpering dog we've ever had.  But he has his reasons, too -- instead of the sleek Schnauzer body, his is squat, with short legs.  He's almost always two to three pounds overweight, no matter how we monitor his diet.  He can't jump well -- and he has to be lifted into our bed.  His teeth rot faster than an unpeeled banana left in the sun.  His gait is off and he moves his legs in unison instead of like a galloping dog -- still he loves to run and does it every chance he gets.  He's prone to skin allergies and we are usually treating him for some kind of lesion around his head or neck and trying to keep him from scratching.  Razor burn from his grooming is a particular problem. 

Gus is very independent.  He did not mourn Fritzy's untimely death from kidney disease.  He accepted Luie, who absolutely adores him, with aplomb -- almost indifference.  It's Luie who always initiates interaction.  He travels well and does not complain if he's in a car for 12 to 16 hours at a time.  He believes, however, that on short rides the front seat, especially my lap, is his prerogative, even if he doesn't want to sit on it -- Luie had better NOT try.  On long trips he likes to have a pile of pillows in the back seat for lolling and snoozing.  He does not play with toys -- I think because his teeth are so bad.

The honest truth is -- that I'm learning more and more each and every day -- Gussie is the perfect little boy and exercise partner at the park.  If only his vet bills were not always in the upper three figure (sometimes four figure) range. 

Gus watching Luie whirling after a Christmas toy

I started this post two days ago about exercise -- honestly, I did.  I do have an exercise story to tell.  Yesterday Hubby met with a physical therapist and I joined a gym for a year.  This is probably the most interesting news in our lives -- but I keep getting distracted by my wonderful doggies.  Tomorrow I'll tell you about the gym.


Donna said...

Once we learn to observe them, most animals are SO smart. They follow their instincts, which 9 out of 10 times keeps them out of trouble. I have at time been almost reduced to tears by the wisdom of my animals. Even the silly cats, who think THEY are the bosses.

Margaret said...

Cute stories about the doggies and their personalities. They are like people, aren't they?