I was so happy to wake up the other day and realize that fall finally arrived! The air was fresh and clean. No smoke or new wildfires. The girls and I jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to get the breakfast and enjoy this wonderful break from a very hot, smokey and frightening month of wildfires and on-going Covid pandemic.
I promised Charlotte and Georgia that we would go on a really long walk, since they had been so cooped up. They danced for joy, when I pulled their leashes out and put on my shoes. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! A walk!! We are going for a walk now, not tomorrow– tomorrow was a concept they really did not understand.
We were just about ready. I had slipped on their halters and clipped the poop bags and treat pouch onto my jeans, when I noticed a news flash on my phone–hot weather ahead. Three to five days of triple digit temperatures with fire and heat warnings!
Rats!!!! I felt like Charlie Brown when Lucy was pulling the football away, again!!
I stomped around, grumbled, and and complained to Charlotte and Georgia that we really needed a break! 2020 was turning out to be the most challenging year, ever! This is not fair! I complained to no one in particular. But surely someone was responsible.
I was grateful that fall finally arrived (and so were my dogs)!
Charlotte and Georgia had been so excited a minute ago–who was I to spoil their moment as they looked at me with baffled expressions? So, I abandoned my tirade, tied my shoelaces, and off we went to explore our favorite place — Sonoma State University which bordered our property. I decided to be grateful for the day and make the most of it. Living in the moment, like my fur babies, could be a human Momma thing as well.
The day was simply stunning! The SSU campus was turning into fall colors and bursting with green grass, colorful leaves, and fall blossoms. Living next door to SSU has been such a blessing. The campus, which looked like a well manicured park, was only 100 feet away. We wove through the mostly empty buildings on sidewalks lined by lush grass and shrubs bursting with bright flowers.
Of course, the girls made me stop every few minutes, so I would take pictures of them. I guess we all have our moments of vanity!
The usual challenges . . .
As we wandered into the more wooded areas, I stayed on the alert for possible hazards like darting squirrels, low flying geese, and worst of all — duck poop! Even with their gentle halters on, they could easily pull me off my feet with their combined lurch forward.
I learned that lesson on Day 1, when they dragged Jayne and me to the park for a very brisk walk! I adopted them at age 6 and leash training was clearly not part of their early education. So, I invested some time and money to train them to heel, which seemed to be more about teaching them to laugh (at me). Nevertheless, we did quite well with the heeling lessons.
Ultimately however, I found it difficult to heel two dogs at the same time on either side of me, plus I kept tripping over them as we wound our way around the park. So, I ordered PetSafe Gentle Headcollars that fit over the nose and head. I had called Tiffanie, who was a dog trainer as well as a kennel owner, in great distress. She recommended these halters, which did not cause any discomfort but slowed them down a lot since dog noses are more sensitive to pressure than canine necks. And, I loved the colors which included purple and hot pink!
But even with these halters, if there was a will, there was a way!
Charlotte, the most Cattle Dog one of the two siblings, was very willful when on the scent. And, Georgia usually chose to go along with her slightly bigger sister. The Vet once asked me if Charlotte was the boss (of the two dogs), and I exclaimed that Charlotte was the boss of all of us!
I have learned to walk with my head down simultaneously scanning the path ahead in multiple directions. Otherwise, I risk stumbling over dogs who suddenly decide to stop and sniff; or, I find I need to pry who-knows-what out of their mouths; or, I might get jerked toward other dogs who are towing their humans. My chiropractor warned me that looking down was probably bad for my posture, but I figured it was better than falling on my bum or making an expensive visit to the Vet.
Time to head home . . .
After a couple of hours, the heat of the day set in, and we were all panting. So, I announced that we were heading home and was sure to mention that carrots would be involved with our homecoming.
Now, who would have thought that a dog would like a carrot? Sherry, one of my trainers, suggested that I give them each a big carrot, so they would stay occupied when I was away. To my surprise, they loved carrots! Unfortunately, the rate at which they gobbled them down kept them busy for only five minutes. Still, it was a great bribe and a healthy treat!
On the way home as I began to tire, my mood shifted a bit. I was still happy to be out with my sweet pups, but I again noticed the emptiness of the huge campus. According to an article by Mary Callahan, appearing in The Press Democrat on August 14th, 2020, SSU normally has around 9,500 students, but enrollment was down by 11% due to Covid-19. And this fall, professors were conducting classes mostly on-line. Additionally, only about a fifth of the 2,250 students who usually lived on campus were now staying in the dorms.
Indeed, the campus looked like a ghost town. The usually hustle and bustle of students rushing from one building to another was gone. The Campus had closed the cafe`s and libraries. A sheet of paper blew aimlessly in the wind through a causeway normally full of students. But today, the three of us were the the only ones walking across the empty pavement.
I felt sad for the young people who were forced to interrupt their education, due to this frightening pandemic.
Yet, I know they will be back. The campus will be humming again with energy, learning, and new beginnings. We will get through this. Humans are very industrious and determined. We may not have that same wonderful in-the-moment kind of spontaneity as our canine friends. But we can focus on how to build a better future and reduce our momentary despair.
Back home . . .
We were all happy to be back home, and I was truly grateful that fall had finally arrived. I opened the door and stepped back, as Charlotte and Georgia charged past me toward their water bowl. The girls settled down and quietly munched on their much anticipated carrots. I sighed with relief and collapsed into my recliner with a cold glass of water. Such a great day!
More great days will come–playing ball again with friends, running in the dog park, jaunts at the beach. I called a few friends who assured me they were all well. Then, I gave thanks for this day, our home, and this moment.