Migration in the Rain

I wanted to pull the covers back over my head.  I could hear it coming down in sheets.  Great.  Time to Migrate with the Pack for Food.  Can’t the pack go use the lawn?  Pretty Please?  The pack is cold and knows there is kibble in the kitchen.  I held an argument with Cesar Millan in my head.  Wow he’s persuasive. Guess who won?

I roll out of bed, committed to hunting.  I added a new line to my regular morning prayer: Please, God, let there be no food on the hunt today. (Cringe) I pause for a moment to apologize to God and all the people in the world for whom that prayer is justifiable heresy. Please God, let there be food for people who NEED it.

I have to pick Christmas up and put him on the floor.  He can hear the rain too.  Who knew a little fur ball could look so betrayed?

I gear up for the elements.  It’s freezing out there.  Gotta be around 45-50 degrees.  (My wife laughs at me.  She’s from one of the frozen states.  This would be shorts weather in her home town.  I get no sympathy.)  Knit cap: check.  Gloves: check.  Long underwear: check.  6 long sleeve shirts and a fleece: check.  Infamous parka: check.  Umbrella: double check.

Christmas sits sleepily by the door, he’s not quite sure how he got there.  I open the door, we step out, go down the stairs.  Christmas plants in the carport.  He couldn’t say more clearly “I. Am. Not. Going.”  He tries make a break for the house.

Fortunately, I’ve shared my life with a lap dog before.  I am prepared for this.  I whip out a yellow rubber doggie rain slicker (with hood) and have him strapped in before he knows what hit him.  I have to physically carry him to the sidewalk and set him down.  He’s not about to get his feet wet.

Can I just mention here that this is not my idea of a great morning walk?

Our walk attitudes go something like this:

Me: Focus ahead: think hunting for food. I am freezing.  FREEZING.

Christmas: Ew…step….ew…step…ew…step…ewwww…look up pleadingly…mom…ew…It’s RAINING.

Fortunately other dogs have come through and swept the neighbor hood for food.  Clean as a whistle.  Not a wrapper in sight.  Whew.  I’m horribly curious though, is there any crab left behind that tree?  Wow.  Not even one iota of shell.

Given all the drama I’m infusing into this rainy walk, you’d think I was mushing across the Alaskan Tundra.  I hunch my head down and we both walk miserably for our half hour, hunting.  As we head home, Christmas perks up…he knows there’s food there.

We both shake on the landing before going inside. Water flies in all directions.  I make his breakfast.  He eats.  Hunt resolved.

I look outside prepared to be content with the rain now that I am warm, img_4806-esafe, dry, and holding a mug of hot tea.

The sun is shining.   Not a cloud.

Migrating for Food with the Pack

I was talking to Daisy on IM again this morning.  (I say again as if there are days this doesn’t happen.  Not.)

Daisy: Morning

Me: Yawn

Daisy: You going to the Christmas party?

Me: Yeah.  We have to prove we’re not covered in dirt and hair 24/7

Daisy: That’s the only reason we have these parties.  To prove we don’t look like rat girls.

Me: That we own makeup…

Daisy: We do?

Me: Oops, my bad.  We’re naturally this beautiful.  I forgot.

Daisy: Where are we shopping online today?

Me: You decide.  BRB.  I woke up late and the commute was killer.

Daisy: Uh…you “work” at home?  Are you awake?

Me: The  hallway was bumper to bumper and don’t think I didn’t notice the “quotes”

Daisy: Where are you going?  No fridge!  You could be hours…

Me: Nope.  Time to take The Christmas Present out to migrate for food with the pack.


I forgot I haven’t told Daisy any of the details of how we’re uh, “training” The Christmas Present.  She had to wait 45 minutes.  Drove her nuts.

We wanted dog training instruction similar to what works with horses.  So.

I checked out the entire shelf of dog training books at the library, looking for one with the same approach: learn to speak Dog.  I found The Dog Whisperer.  Cesar Millan is a genius.  He knows it’s simple, and that we’re all pretty stupid when it comes to our dogs.   I like that he’s kind about pointing out exactly how stupid we are, and how we can un-stupid ourselves.  Not many people have the knack of making you want to hear more about how dumb you are and have you nodding your head in complete agreement.  Genius.  I read it twice.

Wolves (which after all are the ancestors of our 9 inch fur ball) don’t wake up, whine, and nudge the pack leader for kibble.  Wolves roll out of bed and immediately follow the pack leader in the hunt for food.  I’m committed to proving I’m the pack leader.  TCP is not allowed to leave the house before me, has to stay at my side or behind me on the walk, never in front, and we walk.  We don’t wander from tree to tree.  We focus on our hunt for the food.

Privately, I think our dog thinks I’m a moron, since we always find the food…at home.  Where we started.  But whatever.  It works.  Two days, no choke chain, TCP walks quietly next to me.  A dog learns to heel in two days with no words or treats?  I’m sold.  But I blew it this morning.  Late.  Hungry dog.  Explain to Daisy that I haven’t fallen and can’t get up, and get on with the migration.

TCP is naturally helpful.  I don’t know what his mixes are, but there’s some sort of hunting dog mixed in with the Lhasa Apso: he’s full grown at 9” but he points, and he tracks…nose to the ground…intently looking for food.  This was not a good hunt day.  We FOUND the food.

Someone with an eating disorder wandered through our neighborhood last night munching and tossing.  Before we even get to the sidewalk TCP has pointed out a bag of half eaten, frozen Doritos in the bushes.  He’s puzzled that I’m passing them up, but hey I’m the pack leader, so he’s with me 100%.  We hit the sidewalk.

I’m focused on what’s ahead, TCP is tracking for food.  He stops and points out some moldy cheese.  This?  Nope, keep walking.  Puzzlement.  A few steps later his head bobs down and he’s bouncing.  Uh-oh.  Sit.  I remove the apple from his mouth.  Nice apple.  Huh.  We walk.

I let him pit stop at a tree and hum to give him privacy.  He’s trying to wolf something down surreptitiously.  Crap, is it edible?  I found a battery in his mouth a few days ago.  I fight him for…a crab claw.  I check out the back of the tree.  There’s a whole cooked crab.  I tell him in body language we’re not eating the crab.  I can tell he’s thinking, “Okaaaaaay…and we’re walking why?”

I now look closely at the ground.  Half a churro next to the electrical box.  Veer!  BBQ drumstick on the lawn!  But there is no fooling that nose.  He knows precisely where every potential meal is located.  We continue the hunt for food.

Dang it.  We keep FINDING it.

Pudding cups, still lickable.   Broccoli, already cooked.  Juice boxes, still oozing.  Chocolate stuck to badly opened candy wrappers.  Pre-chewed gum.  A loaf of wonder bread?!  Come on.  What happened last night?  I’m supposed to hunt for food for a minimum of half an hour every morning.  You know, before I go home and find it in the cupboard.  There’s no contingency plan in The Dog Whisperer for what to do if the migrating pack FINDS food.  So I do what I always do when presented with a confusing situation: I pretend it’s not there.  Nope.  All that food you see?  Not there.

TCP is agitated.  He’s doing his job.  He’s quietly pointing out all the food we’re passing.  He’s hungry.  What kind of twisted pack leader am I?  He keeps stopping and pointing, foot up, nose and tail straight, intense stare at the crushed mini powdered donut…the unidentifiable something…the split bag of frozen blueberries.  Finally we’re home.  He is SO confused.  This is the first hunt we’ve actually found stuff and we didn’t eat it.  By dog standards there were some pretty cool eats.

He likes kibble, but come on mom….pre-chewed gum…we coulda had pre-chewed GUM for breakfast!  TCP looks at the bowl of food and then looks at me.  I think he’s feeling sorry for me.  For a pack leader, I’m pretty slow on the uptake.

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