Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Learning to Walk (a dog)

[While attending Rick’s funeral, and with Mark at work, our friend Jay was asked to look after Lucy, our 5lb shi-tzu.  Jay took it upon himself to also write a guest blog post for Green Monkey Tales.]

It’s funny how quickly you forget the basics: their tricks, their schemes, their nifty maneuvers.  How they run, how they hide, their fake-outs, their Heisman’s.

Lucy started off by making like she was headed for the door, ready for her morning walk.  I grabbed a baggie from the closet and headed back down the entryway stairs to the front door.  Except, Lucy didn’t follow.  She just stood atop the stairs as if she had already taken her walk.  But I knew better.  Mark texted me earlier saying he couldn’t get Lucy out the door without missing his train… would I walk her?

I climbed the stairs once again but Lucy scampered into the dining room and beneath the table.  On all fours (me, not her), I reached for her.  She cowered and back-stepped to the other side of the table’s pedestal.

I know this dog fairly well and know she doesn’t particularly like men other than Mark.  Fortunately, I’ve been a dog owner for more than 10 years so I’ve been tried, tested, approved, and licensed in the doggy world as a dog lover and advocate.  Sadly, I had to put my dog down about a year and a half ago but after 10 years, you don’t forget the basics like chasing down a sneaky dog.  Plus, Lucy likes me.  Well, sort of, she doesn’t really like anyone other than Mark and Shannon.  She shows equal affection for me as she does her ripped up toys, so that says something.  Lucy refuses, however, to be picked up by anyone other than Shannon and Mark.

A couple things to note:

  • Lucy weighs 5lbs.  Seriously, she’s like a squirrel, but cuter.  The chase should have been over by now. However…
  • I watched Cujo for the first time this weekend (true story).  Needless to say, I was going to play her game.

I backed out from the table, stood up, and walked around to the other side before resuming the position.  She backed away again.

I got up, walked to the kitchen and started rummaging through the drawers. “Where the hell are the dog treats?”  All I could find were treats for Phoebe the Cat.  I considered what would be worse on the carpet for Shannon and Mark to discover: Lucy’s vomit (after ingesting cat treats) or poop (from no morning walk).

I walked empty-handed to the dining room table and tried again.  Not surprisingly, Lucy back-stepped to the other side of the table.  Once again, I backed out, stood, walked around, and kneeled one last time.  It worked.  Lucy walked tentatively toward me… before darting passed!

After banging my head on the dining room table, I cursed, stood up, turned, and watched Lucy scamper up the stairs.  I gave chase but she ran right into Mark and Shannon’s bedroom.  You know how you don’t necessarily trust—or simply want—people in your house while you’re away?  Well, you can trust me.  I hate being in other people’s homes while they’re away.  I never feel comfortable.  Despite being one of the most trustworthy and respectful people around, I always feel strange in someone else’s unoccupied home.  Needless to say, I didn’t want to chase a friggin’ dog the size of a ferret with the agility of Reggie Bush through Shannon and Mark’s bedroom.

With Mark gone until evening and unsure what time Shannon was expected back, I felt obligated to give it a go.  Once again, I got down on hands and knees and crawled toward the bed.  Lucy calmly sat beneath watching my every move.  Was that a smile?  I reached an arm under but she backed away to the other side of the bed.  Fully trained now, I stood, walked around, kneeled, reached.  Same thing.  Despite her familiarity with me, she simply refused to come out from beneath the bed.  Screw it.  I texted Mark saying I had given up and that I’d try again in a couple hours.  Round I: Lucy

30 minutes later…

I was home, trying to get some work done, but I felt bad.  I remembered all too well the mornings in which I had an early conference call and couldn’t take my dog out first thing.  I recalled her eyes.  And how she sat beside my desk without so much as a whimper.  I saved my work and headed back to Shannon and Mark’s.  I texted Mark on the way: “I know she hates to be picked up but are we talking scratches or a trip to the ER?”  (Cujo was frightening, I tell you.)

Arriving at their door, I gave the knocker a good rap, announcing my visit to Lucy and Phoebe the Cat.  I was hoping Lucy would greet me at the top of the entryway stairs (like my first visit).  I was prepared to pounce on her (that is, after seeing Mark’s response, “minor scratches lol.”)

As luck would have it, only Phoebe the Cat greeted me this time.  You need not be a Rhodes Scholar to guess where Phoebe was hiding.  I headed up the stairs, into the bedroom and kneeled beside the bed.  Winter gloves on this time (I’m not an idiot), I reached for her.  She backed away.  The bed was just big enough to prevent me from reaching the center.  I started shifting things that were stored beneath the bed (sorry, Shannon and Mark!) to block her escape to the other side.  That, however, didn’t work.  Lucy—who I’m now convinced doesn’t have a bone in her body—squirmed over pillows and around boxes to safety.

I walked downstairs and searched the kitchen for treats yet again.  Exasperated, I turned around and what did I see leaning against the wall but one of (yes, one of) Shannon’s batons.  For those of you who don’t actually know her, Shannon twirls fire.  Yes, you read correctly: “twirls fire.”  Often naked, I’m told, but that’s not the weird part as far as I’m concerned.  She friggin’ twirls fire!  But I digress…

I grabbed the baton and headed upstairs like a [reference to LA cops removed].  “Lucy, let’s go. Out!” (Yes, I started talking to the animal.) “Out,” I shouted again, “let’s go!”  I started poking and prodding and got her to move positions.  With the added length of the baton, I was able to coax her out from beneath the bed.  I stood up and walked slowly toward her but she jetted out of the room and down the stairs.  Progress.  I closed the bedroom door and descended the stairs.

Hello, Dining Room Table.  I found myself rubbing my head (subconsciously?) and kneeled down.  I angled the baton around the pedestal and poked Lucy from beneath the table.  With that, the tables turned, so-to-speak.  The minute she headed to living room, I knew she was mine.  It was like taking her queen in a well-played game of chess.  I grabbed the leash from the chair in the living from and cornered Lucy in the V of the couch.  Her last line of defense was just a pawn: the coffee table that stood between us.  I faked left, she went right.  I went right, she went left.  I stepped over the coffee table and she froze.  Checkmate.

As I bent down to put the leash on her, I realized that wasn’t wearing a collar!  (Note to dog owners: if you want your friend to walk your dog, put its collar on before you leave the house!)

I still wasn’t ready to try picking her so I considered my options.  The leash was super long, more than 20 feet, and I considered a slipknot.  Something felt wrong about that so I reconsidered.  Now I’m not proud of it—nor am I exactly sure of how the idea entered my head after deeming a slipknot to be mean-spiritedbut I actually considered tying Lucy up… like a calf.  And that’s when I noticed something: Lucy was lying down.  I couldn’t tell at first because she’s so small and so close to the ground that it always looks like she’s lying down; her legs are only about three inches long.  Lucy had submitted; she simply gave up.  If I didn’t know better, I might have thought I heard her whimper “uncle.”

I wasn’t about to fall for another one of her tricks so I slowly—very slowly—took two steps backwards and reached blindly for the collar on the living room chair.  I kept my eyes on Lucy the entire time.  I stepped towards Lucy and as I bent down I realized that the collar was one of those full-body jobbies designed for dogs that pull incessantly.  Lucy is 5lbs for chrissakes!  With no idea how to fasten this type of collar, the idea of a slipknot re-entered my mind.  But first, I gave the collar a chance.  I unclasped one of the buckles and put the strap that formed a small hole over Lucy’s head.  That left two larger holes to figure out.  Was this thing really a dog collar?  Did they have a three-headed gila monster upstairs (Google it)? WTF???

Having had enough, I pulled the remaining straps beneath Lucy’s belly (mindful not to give her the impression that I was going to lift her up) and closed the remaining clasp.  I didn’t care that it wasn’t on properly… it was on and it was around her neck.  I attached the leash and gave her a little yank.  We were off.

Finally outside in the snow, Lucy and I had a non-verbal conversation:

Lucy: “I’m not peeing.”

Me: “The f%ck you are.”

Lucy: “OK, but I’m not pooping.”

Me: “I don’t give a sh%t.”

She peed, I took a picture, we went home.  Walking up the path to the condo, I got a suspicious look from the cranky neighbor—the neighbor who Shannon failed to “vote off the island” in a recent blog post.

“F%ck off,” I thought or said.  (Shannon/Mark, if your wreath is gone, we’ll assume the latter.)

I opened the door, removed the contraption from Lucy’s neck and let her scamper in.  I tossed the leash inside the door, locked up and walked home, nearly taking a spill on the ice not 10 feet from where Lucy peed.

Round II: Jay


  1. Thank you for the entertainment,love the style in which you give me my dose of pleasure....

  2. Very entertaining. You did a great job on the story. My dog is 85 lbs, would have been waiting at the door for you and would have given you the ride of your life. Naked baton twirling? Hmmm....very interesting.

  3. Whew! So glad I live in a house that has a dog run. I just have to open the garage door and Daisy can walk herself.

    Really enjoyed the read. Thanks.

  4. I have never had pets...
    This is a great post, loved it...
    Have a nice day:-)

  5. JAY aka Boris.... hysterical!

    What makes this even funnier is the Jay/Lucy contrast. Lucy being 6 inches tall and Jay being 6 ft 8.

    In Lucy's defense... Just because she doesn't LIKE to be picked up doesn't mean she'll attack. She won't bite or scratch - unless its hot, she's at polo, trying to watch the pony's and you're pestering her.

    The crazy collar was Mylo's harness - a dog 3 times her size. I took Lucy's pearl necklace off last week because her extra long winter cut made the collar a bit tight. Lucy doesn't like leashes. She thinks their restrictive and unnecessary.

    Lucy eats cat treats.

    Lucy says you tried to kidnap her. And that you we're going to auction her off on Ebay. Is that true Jay?

    Promise never to disclose what you saw under the bed.

    I so appreciate your dedication and your sense of humor! I especially love that we met in the dog park, way back... before your first Iphone. Our dogs ignited a wonderful friendship.

  6. 1. I'm only 6'6".
    2. I am not picking that ferret up. Ever.
    3. Mylo (8lbs) doesn't need a friggin' harness either.
    4. The cat treats tasted pretty horrible. Doesn't your friend have yummy organic ones?
    5. No one met the reserve price of $1.6M on eBay so I was forced to return Lucy.
    6. Your secrets are safe with me.
    7. Phoebe adored you. Lucy? That's up for debate.

  7. LOL, you both gave me a good laugh today. Twirls fire?! and naked.... hum :) My wild blogging friends :D
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  8. not totally naked Jules... only top naked, and only if I'm wearing a highly flammable top. I'm practical like that. :)

  9. I love a good dog story, thanks!


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison