In late July a mix of sand and rain blows towards Tom’s Thumb and the McDowell Mountains, meaning there was only one place you’d find Trixie: under the covers of our bed, hiding until the monsoon passes. The second picture was taken at sunset a few days later in more cat-friendly weather. With the arrival of October she’s safe for another year, as the winter rains tend to be a lot more gentle.
Bear relaxes by the pool after a late summer swim. Ellie had her classic spread eagle pose but Bear’s signature sit is to tuck a paw underneath. The other night I went out on the back porch to watch an approaching monsoon, Bear indicated he wanted to join me but I was a little hesitant as I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about the storm. However I also didn’t want to have to put up with the most serious side-eye from the other side of the sliding glass door so I brought him out and had him sit beside me. We watched in silence as lighting constantly lit the mountains until he rolled over and asked for a belly rub. Not much later he fell asleep in the occasional darkness, when the storm finally passed I woke him and we went inside and I had my answer as to how the pup feels about thunder and lightning.
Trixie of course was buried under several layers of blankets in our bed.
Though most of the same plants are blooming now, this picture is from early April as I haven’t taken many pictures of Bear in the pool since then. It’s not that he hasn’t been in the pool as the pup loves to swim, rather that as soon as the water got warm enough for my delicate sensibilities, I started swimming with him. And that’s when I discovered he seemed uneasy with me in the pool.
As long as I stayed by his side he was OK, if often giving me some side eye, but if I swam out on my own he’d immediately come after me and start tugging on the sleeve of my shirt or gently tugging on my wrist. I got a lesson in just how much it freaked him out when I wanted to get a little exercise so I looped his leash around a deck chair so I could get swim some laps. He dragged the chair across the porch and to the pool’s edge until I got out and assured him I was alright. My wife took him inside but he just stood at the window and barked until she took him out of sight.
So in addition to using our pool time on the weekends to work on his understanding of the Come and Stay commands, and then Drop It and Leave It, I added some exercises to convince him I was a good swimmer and he could just relax and play. By mid-summer he was doing much better, but then there were a few weeks with no swimming when I got sick and then my wife got sick and then a monsoon washed a lot of dirt into the pool.
When the swimming resumed I was fearful of a relapse but the opposite happened, he was now completely at ease with me being in the pool and since then we’ve spent long sessions just goofing around, with me hoping the exercise will tire him out but discovering which one of us has the most energy. Our pool time has become as treasured to me as my long walks with Ellie were, time to forget the stress of the world for a while and revel in the joy of the two of us.
One nice thing while I was quarantined in July is the bedroom has blackout shades on its windows, so I could keep the room dark to make it easier to try and sleep off the illness. It’s hard to get them to come down the last little bit to the window sill but sometimes I leave some extra room regardless, to allow curious cats to sneak in behind them for backyard birdwatching. Trixie was one of my convalescence companions, though at times it was hard to tell if my fever had returned or I was just feeling flush from the heat of Little Furnace sleeping on my legs.
It’s the first time I’ve appreciated the bedroom being so big, normally it’s just wasted space for us but it was nice while it was my home inside our home for a couple of weeks. It gave me plenty of room to play with Bear when he was allowed in, it was nice to have time to bond with the pup, normally hard to do except on the weekends.
One night in July I woke to my teeth chattering so badly I had to clench my jaw to get them to stop, not exactly normal for the middle of the Arizona summer. The thermometer confirmed a low grade fever and the rapid test confirmed Covid, which I later discovered was quietly sweeping through the plant. I quarantined in the bedroom, at first we kept the pets out but after talking with the vet we allowed them in when I was feeling better. Boo even slept on my chest at one point, something he hasn’t done since he was a kitten, he usually prefers curling up beside me.
In the early days Boo and Trixie occasionally complained outside the door about not being let in, with paws swiping under the door to try to catch my attention, but if Sam was still with us we would have had to let them in and just brought in litter boxes and food. He would have curled up on my chest and been annoyed if I coughed too much, but not so much as to actually get up. I would have been serenaded to sleep by the purrs of a cat who was happy so long as we were together.
I haven’t been up for a sunrise hike lately but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been up, just a bit too knackered for a short drive to the trails. I have kept up my usual wanderings around the yard at night, yielding sightings of Sonoran Desert toads each of the past two nights, and two tarantulas in the previous weeks. Our sprawling cactus out front has gone nuts this year with a dazzling display of flowers, but since they only bloom at night I have to try and grab a few shots in the morning if the bees aren’t too active, which is why I’ve been getting up early.
That’s meant I’ve been up a few times when my wife took Bear on his sunrise walk and I was able to join them for the first time in months. While he still needs improvement with people and dogs he feels like a different dog compared to when we adopted him, the training has helped tremendously. I had him pose at the end of the cul-de-sac as the sun rose with Troon Mountain in the background.