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.
There are black bears, grizzly bears, polar bears, water Bears, …
I took many pictures of Sam sleeping atop the cat tree over the years and only through the greatest restraint have I avoided sharing each and every one of them with you. It is the day this picture was taken that packs the emotional punch for me, two days before the movers were to pack our things and load them onto a truck, three days before we would leave for Arizona, five days before we would arrive. He knew something was up but he had no idea how much I was about to upend his world.
A simple picture of Sam sitting in a chair with his name writ large on his collar. But I know the chair was in my office because the junk haulers took away my old couch that morning and I brought down my old chair from our bedroom, a chair we bought when we moved into the house and which served me well for many years (and serves us well even now). It was a delight to photograph Sam in it as it reminded me of when Templeton loved to sleep there, especially after he lured me out of it so he could steal my spot. The collar though he and the other cats only had to wear in the days leading up to the move, and during, and after, in case they got loose during the confusion.
Thankfully they did not. This story ends in joy not tragedy.
A picture of Sam sleeping on the bed, I took many of those too, but it was only our bed for a night as this was the hotel in California on our first night, the in-between place in the in-between time. A reminder of a long trip, especially for the little ones, but a reminder too that as long as we were together we would be all right.
A quick picture of Ellie that I snapped after we arrived at our rental house in Arizona at the end of March. The house will be home for a year, Arizona for much longer, and I am so thankful we found the house and that our lovely landlords accepted all the pets. All of the hiking and swimming has been great for me, I’m in the best shape I’ve been for a long time. The one story house has been great for Ellie as she can now follow us everywhere we go. As for Sam, well, our little snuggler has been putting on weight as he no longer has to go to the basement to use the litter box, the main floor to hang out in my office, and upstairs to join us at night. He’s getting a reduction in food to slowly bring his weight back down. Trixie and Boo are doing just fine, they love watching the wildlife in our back yard.
Ellie relaxes by our backyard pool on April 1st, our first full day in Arizona. She was able to relax after a long three day drive from Oregon but I wasn’t so lucky as I was starting work the next day. I was already worn out from the stress and pace of the previous months but since then I have been able to relax on the weekends, my wife has been taking care of the day-to-day stuff at home and we have yard and pool maintenance for the outside and a nice landlord if things need attention on the inside, freeing me up to go hiking pretty much every morning I have off.
Even for that a few weeks ago I hit a wall where I knew I needed to take some time off, but unfortunately it was an especially busy time at work, each week busier than the next, culminating in a week with a couple of very late nights and little sleep. Things are slowing down now so starting on Wednesday I will take a week of vacation, not going anywhere just need some downtime. I still haven’t fully unpacked my office.
One bright side of being laid off was I took Ellie on long walks every morning and not just on the weekends. I started the long weekend walks in her elderly years when she wanted to cut our evening walks short but I realized she’d still go on long walks in the morning. The downside is my hiking took a nosedive during those years as the mornings were my trail time as well, but I don’t regret it, you never know how much time you’re going to get with these old pups and each of those walks was precious to me.
Since my wife has been home in Arizona she has been walking Ellie in the mornings so I’ve gone out hiking most of my days off. I do miss walking with the pup though, the past week I’ve been getting up early on work days and my wife and I walk her together, we walked for 1.4 miles this morning. We should all age so well. We can’t convince her to get in the pool though, she loved to swim when I took her to the rivers in Portland but I think the step into the pool is the issue, steps are a big problem for her these days (thankfully the rental house has none).
I need to teach her to jump in! Maybe I’ll wrap some bacon around my head and stand in the middle of the pool.