Blue-Violet Iris Interior

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sunny Days in May: Dog-Sitting and Flower-Photographing

A sweet old girl.

Splash! Lady goes swimming.
I spent this weekend looking after a new client, a golden retriever that I'll call Lady. She's the quintessential golden: sweet, mellow, and friendly. She's thirteen years old, and while she's got some arthritis, an active lifestyle keeps her joints moving relatively freely and she's still got plenty of spunk!

This active routine calls for a nightly walk to the park where I first met her and her owner while I was walking Mr. Gorgeous, where she plays fetch for roughly twenty minutes, and then walks back to her house, a little more than a mile away. I failed to replicate this routine for her, but not for lack of trying!

On the first evening, we arrived at the park to discover the presence of two policemen AND an animal control officer with a pup paddy wagon! It appeared they'd been called regarding a specific incident, since they spent the entire time speaking to an individual who had a barking dog in his car, but I was not about to let Lady off-leash in front of an animal control officer! The park is treated by the locals as an unofficial off-leash park, but there are prominently posted signs to remind park-goers that letting your dog off-leash is against the law. It would be terrible to have your client's dog hauled away because you were dumb enough to let it off-leash in front of law enforcement! But I am not dumb and neither were the many individuals who arrived with their dogs, observed the situation with dismay, and then left. Lady and I took a meandering walk around the perimeter of the park, stopping for petting sessions, trying to kill time in hopes that the cops would leave and I could give Lady her ball game. They eventually left, but the animal control officer didn't, and finally I gave up and walked Lady home. She thought it was a rather lame walk and I was very sorry that I couldn't explain to her why there could be no game of fetch that evening!

A (non)retriever and her ball.
Things looked more promising the next evening. When we arrived at the park, there were no problematic legal impediments to our pleasure, so I let her off her leash and threw the ball for her. Well, she moseyed after it and then lay down and rolled around on her back on top of it, but she didn't return it to me. I threw it again, she slowly trotted after it, and then stood with the ball in her mouth, surveying the scene. On the next throw, she settled herself in the grass to enjoy the breeze. Her owner said that she's great about bringing the ball and dropping it without any fuss, but Lady displayed no interest in playing fetch with me! So finally I gave up and sat down on the grass with her and gave her a nice petting session, which she enjoyed, pressing her head against my chest as she leaned into the rub-down. It was very pleasant at the park, but not exactly what had been prescribed! I then walked her around the park to see if I could get her juices flowing, and while she displayed so much enthusiasm upon seeing a man hitting balls at one of the tennis courts that he offered to give me one for my dog, she expressed zero interest in returning her ball when I tried tossing it for her again immediately afterward! So I gave up and we walked down to the marina and admired the high schoolers all dressed up for prom instead.

A sopping Lady post-swim with her toy in mouth.
On Day Three, I decided to try something different. Lady's owner mentioned that she loved to swim and that it was great for her arthritis, so I decided that we'd make an excursion to the secluded little lakeside park where I take my own dog swimming. It was sunny and 80 degrees, a perfect day for a swim, and Lady got extremely excited when I got one of her float toys out of her toy box! She insisted on carrying it herself out to the car and then down to the lake. In her enthusiasm to get to the water's edge, she nearly pulled me off my feet as we scrambled down the steep slope! (She's not exactly a loose-leash walker and can exert plenty of pull even on level ground.) We had the little park all to ourselves and it was very fun to chuck her toy for her out into the lake. Unlike with the ball, Lady had no problem retrieving her floating toy for me! It was such a nice thing to do on a hot May day. I had been wondering how much swimming would be enough, but I needn't have worried: Lady told me she was done by trotting away back up the trail, toy in mouth, at such a rapid pace that I had trouble catching up to her to get her leash on! We met two dogs and their families coming down the hill as we went up it, so we certainly weren't the only denizens of Seattle who were charmed by the idea of spending part of a sunny Sunday by the lake. I took Lady for a brief walk in the hot sunshine in an attempt to get her somewhat drier before putting her back in my car and then it was back home to bask out on the backyard grass.

A playful Lady rolling around on top one of her toys to get a good back-scratching!

Snoozing on her bed.
Except for our seeming inability to play a decent game of dry-land fetch, Lady and I got along just fine. She liked my massages and being brushed and grinned most gratifyingly when I returned to the house and got up in the morning. She could usually be found in my vicinity, including waiting patiently outside the bathroom door while I showered, and on one occasion, dropped her ball in one of my bags in the bedroom. I think it can safely be said that she found me an acceptable substitute for her owner in her owner's absence.

Lady in profile.
There were two things that went slightly awry during this dog-sitting gig. The first involved sleeping. It's never easy, especially the first night, to sleep in a new place. I had a terrible time falling asleep the first evening and then dreamed that I continued to be awake for sometime after I dropped off, and dreaming you're unable to sleep is not generally very restful! So after a poor beginning to my night's slumber, I found myself awakened when dawn came and started to fill the bedroom with light. It was a very nice bedroom, but it had an entire wall of east-facing windows, so on a sunny May day, even with the mini-blinds closed, it was flooded with light from about 4:30 onward. I have difficulty sleeping unless a room is pitch-black and have special "black out" blinds on my bedroom window to prevent any light from entering. I also need a lot of sleep in able to function properly. Between falling asleep after sometime after 1:00 and sleeping fitfully until 3:00 and then being awoken by the light at 4:30 and sleeping only fitfully until I finally gave up and got up around 8:30, I was a wreck! My mother was kind enough to buy me a sleep mask while I was at my acupuncture appointment, which fortunately worked wonderfully the next night, but Saturday was not an easy day. I nearly broke down when it came time to take Lady on her walk: the enormity of that mile-long walk with a large, pulling dog to the park and then the uphill walk home again just seemed too much. I was able to give myself a little pep talk about not trying to do too much and so, after eating an enormous bowl of granola for dinner and taking my migraine medication, I drove to the park with Lady and left my large, heavy, fancy-pants camera at home. (I was sorry I didn't have it because one of the park's resident bald eagles was sitting in the PERFECT place to get an amazing picture; I seldom go to that park without seeing one of the eagles, but it was the first time I'd seen one of them so perfectly situated in regard to unimpeded sight lines and not hopelessly silhouetted against the light!) In the end, I did have a nice time and while Lady didn't get quite as long of a walk, she did get some exercise.

The other thing that didn't go quite right was that I couldn't get the kitchen sink to turn on. I'm pretty sure this was not my fault. Lady's owner left me a note that the sink's garbage disposal wasn't working and I suspect that the water had been turned off somehow while she was poking around with the disposal. At least that's what I hope. It didn't SEEM like a difficult-to-operate sink, but I sure wasn't able to get any water to come out of it! That kind of thing will certainly make you feel idiotic and paranoid, though. I ended up washing the dishes that couldn't be put in the dishwasher in the bathtub!

Of course, one of my favorite things about dog-sitting (other than the dog) is getting to take my camera for a walk in a new place. Since it was sunny all three days that I dog-sat, I was able to get more than two hundred beautiful photos of late-spring flowers. The following are some of my favorites in rainbow order:


To view a whole album's worth of ranunculus photos, click here.


(This is probably my favorite photo out of all the ones I took!)

Bearded Iris.



You can see more photos from this outing (and early spring photo sessions) in this Facebook album. (You don't need to be a member of Facebook to view the photos, by the way!)

That concludes my extended rundown of my first (and hopefully not last!) weekend with lovely old Lady!

1 comment:

  1. Love your shots :)

    Sounds like you had lots of fun with "Lady" :)

    My daughter was showing me photos of a 4 day old foal she had taken, so beautiful and amazing, she loves horses too! :)

    Thank you for your sweet words on my blog :)

    Have a lovely evening, cheers, T. :)