Today almost kicked my butt. In my defense, it had a head start.
Gordy left last night for work, flying out of Orlando, but storms in Chicago kept the departure on the tarmac for almost 2 hours. I always have a bit of anxiety when he is in motion, but when things go less than planned, it hangs on me like a shroud. I feel called to pay attention…as if my attention to things matters (a trick often played in the mind of an anxious person). So, I stayed up late wanting to know that he had landed safely, giving my attention to it.
The big dogs stayed by me and Gracie had long gone to bed, but the young pups took full advantage of the extended evening hours. I could hear them playing out in the back yard as I rustled around the house, keeping myself occupied. And then I became aware that things sounded different. Giada’s barking had become high and chirpy and Monroe’s barking was from somewhere else. I called them in, but only Giada came. Where’s Monroe? Where is that barking coming from? What is that reflection in the door from the driveway?
In the driveway!?
Which is NOT in the back yard where dogs are SUPPOSED to be….safely fenced in.
At least she came to the door.
This is a bad deal in general, but it is a particularly bad deal now because on Friday we are leaving for our first trip away (together) since we moved here. I had found a person to take care of the tribe in our absence. She was going to stay at the house, but she has a 9 year old son who would stay with her and when she brought him over (so we could see how it would be), it turned out highly active kid was not on the dogs’ wish list.
So, I revised the plan and that plan meant the dogs would be alone at night. No sleep overs. Now, how could I feel comfortable with that if Miss Monroe had escaping the back yard as the new thing to do with her free time?
I walked the fence line with a flash light, and blockaded what I thought was her exit route. Gordy landed safely …. oh, so late, but safely … in Chicago and I locked all the dogs in to spend a restless night in bed conjuring up a new plan.
The pups whined me awake early in the morning and I let them out thinking the morning routine would apply (go outside, do your business quickly then climb into bed, paws gritty with dew and dirt and snuggle in for a snooze).
This time, when I hear Giada’s chirpy bark start, I am bolt awake. Chirpy means she is one place and Monroe is someplace else. Giada is at the fence line and I take clues from her gaze. She’s out there. I am calling and calling for Monroe. And then I see her. A small, brown speck scurry along the road.
I am a lunatic in bare feet and a night shirt. MONROE!!! She bolts along the fence line and slides under the front gate, greeting me like a long lost friend. That’s it. Plan confirmed. Monroe is going to the kennel for our trip.
What else. Oh, did I mention the water softener?
It was an add-on years after the house was built. We conclude this from how it was installed outside the back wall of the bedroom wing, with jerry-rigged electrical wiring and pavers to keep it from tumbling down the hill. Some time this weekend we realized things might be going wrong, but the sorry thing waited until Gordy’s absence to fully let down it’s hair.
So now, I am fixing fence line (turns out it was the gate) to create a high security perimeter for Monroe AND I am resuscitating an “I don’t want to live” water softener.
The repair guy comes tomorrow.
Gracie was at the vet last week. She is old and her thyroid took an early retirement. She is on medication, but I felt like she hadn’t been “herself” and wanted to check her levels. Sure enough, the vet called with the results and new medicine is in order, so down to the vet clinic we go. I say “we” because I made Monroe come with me. No trust. Zero.
While there, I talk with the vet about some other things going on with Gracie and she suggests that I (wait for it)…
“field catch a urine specimen”
and bring it in.
Follow an old dog around with a cup and catch her pee when she goes.
Oh. Sure. I can do that.
It took all day. The first try was not even close to a try. She out distanced me by a mile. The second try, I put her on a leash (ha!) and brought her out the front where no one else gets to go (not counting Monroe on her walkabouts, apparently).
Success. Back down to the clinic I go, specimen in hand and Monroe in tow.
All of this business has made me later than usual for evening feeding and the horses are anxious for me to come down to the barnyard. I get Filou settled in his feeding stall and everyone else gets fed in the pasture, one last time I think because the barn is almost finished; the interior stall doors are here and getting installed tomorrow. As I walk through the herd, I notice that Legs has a bit of a skin thing happening on his hind legs and I bring him into the barnyard so I can bath and tend to him. Fussing is what I do well, no doubt about it.
I am outside the barn scrubbing and medicating Legs when we hear scrambling sounds coming from the barn. Legs nickers urgently. Filou squeals back. I run.
Filou has left his stall (no, he never does) and has wiggled his way into the blockaded stall which holds the hay and feed. He was trying to reach the alfalfa and, in doing so, stepped through the slats of the pallet holding the hay. His front foot is stuck and he is panicked. I am a lunatic for the second time today.
I throw myself at him, hugging his neck, trying to keep his body weight forward. Whoa, big guy. Easy. Don’t pull. He has to ease off, step forward. I beg in my head, in my arms and legs, in every fiber of my being. Don’t pull back. Let go. Step forward. I hug for all I’m worth and somewhere in the choices of what could be, he chooses to be with me. He lunges forward and staggers to the end of the stall, his foot free.
Filou is shell shocked. So am I. I rage that Gordy is not here. I hear myself calling for him to come RIGHT NOW. But I need to do this by myself. In my own way. To run, like a girl.
I get Filou out to open space. He is shaky on that leg. We stand for a bit of time in close space until our hearts beat together, near normal. Then I do run, like a girl, up to the house to get medication. (This is why we are redoing the barn FIRST. So that everything will have a space down at the barn. Where it is needed. But today, it is up at the house.)
Filou hates the taste of the medicine. I know it and he knows it’s coming, but we do it anyway. We stay together for a long time, but in the end he chooses to return to the herd and I let him.
Tomorrow will tell the story as to whether I have secured the back yard, made the right call on Filou’s injury or whether the water softener can be healed. Tonight I am considering this awareness that being who I am is all I can be, when it is just me. I don’t have Gordy’s doctor-minded, cool, calm, problem-solving intellect to run to. I just have me. And I run, like a girl.