Friday, January 24, 2014

The Year of the Scarf, Mina

Grim-faced Mina. Maternal Mina? Don't mess with me Grandma Mina.

Mina is tolerant.

True story!

When I lived in what I fondly refer to as the Halfway House, one of my neighbors had a 3-yr-old toddler. Sometimes I would let Mina wander around the front fenced in yard of the apartment complex. She liked sunbathing by the fence while I read books.

Me reading books and Mina sunbathing are common themes in our 12 year relationship.

Mina loves children. I cannot understand this fascination, given how shy Mina started when first rescued. Her trust and tolerance of children have never been in question (mainly ever since a 3-yr-old cowboy chased her around my parent's house - uninvited - one Halloween and Mina didn't eat him).

When Mina sees children, her demeanor changes. I find it weird to ask parents if I can take pictures of their kids with my dog, so I have no photographic evidence of Mina's love of children. This bums me out. Trust me, it's real.

Anyway, back to the neighbor kid. He was not taught how to properly interact with dog. The first time Mina met him, he swung a real life hammer at her. The kind of hammer only adults should use. It missed and I flung myself protectively over Mina, heaving her in my lap and explaining quickly how much Mina hates being hit by hammers.

He respected this, dropping the hammer. On his foot. Okay, so their first meeting didn't go great but future interactions went better. He learned to hold his hand out first and scratch her chest before petting her back or head. He learned not to tug on her tail or drape himself over her back.

Mina loved it. She loved this kid and his attention and even his tail-tugging, back-draping, hammer-swinging ways. However, I was thankful when they moved because they still let him play with that hammer.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Year of the Scarf, Mina

I see the Year of the Scarf as a way to remember my dogs while they are alive. In remembering, I honor my interpretation of their stories. I hope they don't mind.

This is Mina's confident pose with an orange and purple hued scarf. She would wear this to a job interview and nail it. The interview, not the scarf.

Mina has not always been brave.

True story time!

During my university stint at Davis, I lived in a big house (five rooms, big by my standards). There was a glass table with chairs on the front porch. I enjoyed sitting with roommates and drinking a cup of coffee.

It seemed important for Mina to be with me at available times. I brought her out with me, her to lay down and me read a book. I was stupid. Mina's world involved safe zones - my room, the living room, the kitchen. Not the upstairs bedrooms, the dining room, and assuredly not the front porch.

I looped her leash around the table, settled into a chair and began reading.

Mina was horrified. I cannot fully express how troubled she was by this movement away from safety into terrifying new worlds. So of course she reacted poorly. Upon feeling the restraint of the leash as it tugged against the glass table, she balked. Leaping away towards the front door, I could only gasp in shock as my book and table disappeared...the book flopping uselessly to the ground, the table a little more dramatic.

Glass shattered everywhere. This did not endear the table to Mina. She planted herself at the front door, staring intently at the doorknob, waiting for me to get a clue. No one was hurt but it was a reminder that Mina missed out on so much the two or three years spent in a garage (or some other dark, confined space).

Mina aged perfectly and confidently. Mina at 15 is different than Mina at 4. I love senior Mina more than is probably physically possible. I loved junior Mina but it came with a lot of fears and struggles and concerns. We stuck through it, though. Super glad about that.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Year of the Scarf, Celeste

Can you summon words for those ears?

I have seen those ears for nearly seven years. They looked the same in puppy form.

Celeste suffered from severe ear infections the majority of her life, leaving her sensitive about ear-touches. Sometimes I accidentally elicit a squeak from her if I handle her ears the wrong way.

Even during her darkest moments, her ears scabbed and painful, Celeste would let me tend to them.

Her ears are what the velveteen rabbit would feel like. Dog ears are like that but Celeste's especially so.

True story time. Two years ago, Celeste fancied herself a war mage. Sighting her quarry - a jackrabbit - Celeste tried her Barbed-Wire-Be-Gone spell and misfired, crashing wildly into the jagged metal. Unperturbed, Celeste only ceased her pursuit because of my panicked screams. Then she insisted on walking the two miles back to the car, despite my attempts at carrying her.

The wounds were clean and so bled profusely, inspiring a deep fear of blood loss and imminent death. In me, not her. She needed ten stitches to her chest and four stitches to her paw. She was cool with the pain meds.

She still chases rabbits but is more responsible around barbed wire.

I am grateful her ears were left untouched. They are perfectly wild.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Year of the Scarf, Mina

Everything with dignity. This is Mina's motto. Primarily because I inflict many indignities upon her. For example, The Year of the Scarf.

Some may think she looks grandmotherly in this photo. Untrue. Mina is ready for a convertible ride down to a beach where she may fling her front paws dangerously in salt water.

Senior Mina carries an air of dignity and cuteness with her at all times. A fine line to walk, for sure.

Junior Mina never did. She was a rolling, frothing, bowling mass of muscle and thoughtless intent. My dad likes to share a story of walking Mina at the local park years ago. She weighed 48 pounds. He had a black belt in karate. And she dragged him down a hill. I think there was another uncontrollable dog with a mirthful guardian. Nothing bad happened.

Another true story. Junior Mina had a hard head. Senior Mina has the same hard head but uses it appropriately. Junior Mina believed all creatures had heads like cement. She greeted me daily with a leap to my face, her rock-solid cranium crashing into my less rock-solid face. One bloody nose and black eye later, I devised a strategy.

Before leaving for college classes, I would steal with me one of Mina's favorite toys (she had more than one). This was not so traumatic for Mina, thankfully. Upon my return, I would offer the sacrificial squeaky toy in lieu of my face. Mina loved this game. Her favorite toy AND person showing up at the same time? Nice!

To this day, Mina greets my return home with a squeaky toy in mouth and a happy grin on her face.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Year of the Scarf, Celeste

I don't know about this, guys and gals.

Mina is included in this photograph as a small right ear in the bottom left corner.

Celeste turns seven in May. I adopted her as a puppy from the streets of Mexico. Literally, the streets of Mexico presented me with an adoption contract and I signed on the dotted lines. If only.

Dogs accept punishment (scarves, e.g.) for cookies. Celeste prefers an off limit approach to her ears but for a cookie? Wrap a scarf around her head stat! She did not paw or shake or generally act horrified. Instead, she stared with great intensity at the cookie which is located two inches above the camera. I wanted you to believe she loves cameras.

She does not. Cookies make cameras appealing. This is one reason why dogs are great. Wearing scarves is another. Rampaging across a meadow in glee is an additional one.

The Year of the Scarf.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Year of the Scarf

2014 is Year of the Scarf, Mina and Celeste style.

Mina is now 15 years and 2 months old. She is living with cancer and has been doing so for more than a year. Two months ago, she had her first ever seizure. So of course 2014 should be the Year of the Scarf - frivolity and adorableness wrapped in a 35-lb Pocket Pit Package.

Celeste will be featured as well. She is far from thrilled about scarves. Trust me, you'll see.

I treasure the string of moments spanning into days spreading into months with Mina. Magical, I'd say.