What the dog expects

Winter has arrived, no matter what the calendar says. It’s raining hard here on the Oregon coast, with snow expected tonight. School kids are hoping for an extra day off while their parents are hoping the snow never comes. Friends from farther north are already sending their snow pictures on Facebook. For me, if it snows right now, when I don’t have anywhere to go, that would be nice. I’ll take pictures, too.

Meanwhile, I have been writing poems for the Poem a Day challenge sponsored by Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides site. For the most part this has been really fun. Robert sends out a prompt each morning, and we make it into a poem. This poem is based on the prompt to write a poem about an agreement.

My dog and I have this agreement:
When I sit on her couch, she will sit on me.
She will stretch out on her back,
paws in the air, head in my lap,
so I can pet her belly forever.
Whatever else I’m doing,
my right hand must stroke her fur.
I must not move, even if she snores
or whimpers in her running dreams.
If my legs go numb, too bad.
If the telephone rings, it rings.
If night falls and I am hungry,
I cannot disturb the dog.
I must love the dog no matter what
as she snuggles in my lap.
This is our agreement.
It suits us both quite well.

Dog attack spoils our fun

As we got out of the car at the dog park on Sunday, I could see a brown and white dog eagerly watching us from inside the enclosure. Annie spotted her right away and seemed to want to play with her, too. The dog was jumping up and down, reminding me of Chico, the hyperactive dog I had to give away. This dog was female, about Annie’s age and size, with extended nipples as if she has had a litter or two. She had a pit bull face. That didn’t bother me; my dogs are half pit bull, too.

I had only gotten Annie through the first gate when this other dog, Reina, joined us in the space between the gates. The dogs sniffed each other and seemed all right. But as soon as we got inside, the dogs went nuts and started fighting. I tried to pull Annie away, but the other dog kept advancing. Suddenly I felt pain and screamed. Reina had torn a big hunk out of my black pants and left a four-inch-long scrape and bruise on my inner thigh. She was still attacking my dog. “Get your dog!” I hollered to the owners, a young couple who were just sitting on a log doing nothing.

In a minute, the dogs stopped fighting and started acting like they wanted to play. I let Annie go. They ran together a bit. Annie stopped to poop, the other dog thumped her on the butt with her paws, and they ran some more. Okay. But still, my pants, my leg . . .

Another woman arrived with a smaller white dog. Again, the jumping, the sniffing, and the attack. Reina grabbed the little guy around the throat and didn’t want to let go. Again, the owners did nothing. Annie had gone off on her own, exploring other sections of the dog park, but as the other dogs started to relax, she approached them and I followed. Closer up, I could see the white dog had blood on its neck. “Hey, she drew blood,” I said.


Another woman drove up, this time with two small dogs. I put Annie’s leash back on. There was Reina, jumping at the gate again. The woman asked me if the dogs were safe. Yes and no, I said, holding my pup tightly. I pointed Reina out, showed the damage to my pants and my leg and said I was taking my dog out of there.

Which I did. The other woman left, too.

Annie and I walked around the nearby college where I peeked in all the dark windows, seeing tables, desks, a piano, boxes, long hallways. We were both kind of shaky. I could feel the cool air blowing through the hole in my pants and the red scratch beneath. I wanted to get fresh clothes and put some antibiotic ointment on the wound.
I was so angry, and I still am. Reina is a beautiful dog, but I keep thinking about Chico and how dangerous he became and how much I miss him. You can’t let an aggressive dog attack other dogs and their owners. If it does, you owe them a big apology, at the least. Those two never even said they were sorry. An apology and maybe even an offer to replace my pants (which were old, but I liked them and had to throw them away) would be in order.

Whether you have a pit bull or a chihuahua, if you can’t trust it 100 percent, don’t let it loose in the dog park–or any other public place. Nothing horrible happened this time, but when a dog draws blood, it is not okay. Don’t spoil it for those of us who just want to have fun on a Sunday afternoon.

Where There’s Water . . .

I should have known. Wetlands means wet feet. Annie and I visited the new Beaver Creek State Natural Area just south of Newport, OR, today. It’s a beautiful state park, all new and shiny, smelling of fresh-cut wood and grass. Trails padded with grass and wood chips lead upward to great vistas and downward though the rushes toward the creek.

We headed south on a pleasant trail. When we passed an opening to the creek, I pulled Annie back, saying, “Oh no. We’re not getting wet today.” As the grass rose around us, I gazed at miles of waving grasses and distant hills in varying shades of purple, gray and tan. Just as I was wishing for the 10th time that I had brought my camera, the ground gave way beneath my feet. Sploosh! Annie and I were in mud up to her belly and my calves. We walked on a little ways, hoping the ground would firm up, but it didn’t. Sploosh, sploosh, sploosh. We turned back.

Off the side of the trail where the ground is solid, there’s a plastic dock, accessed by a plywood bridge. If Annie waded in there, she could get clean, I thought. She was thirsty, already drinking the murky water. I stepped onto the dock, felt it rocking dangerously and decided I was better off sitting down. Meanwhile, Annie leaned over the edge, drinking. I relaxed in the warm breeze. Ahh.

Suddenly, splash! My pup, who just discovered two weeks ago that she could swim and who has thrown herself into every puddle since then, jumped in. It was deep. She tried desperately to climb back onto the dock but couldn’t get a grip on the plastic surface. She panicked, desperately splashing, her nails slipping off the dock. Still holding her leash, I struggled to guide her over to the shallow side, willing to jump in if I had to. Just when it looked as if she might drown, she finally paddled around the dock to the shore. She shook a few times and pulled me toward the car. She’s traumatized, I thought. But then she saw another trail. She headed right for the water. “We’re wet enough,” I said.

And so, with NPR’s “Fresh Air” providing commentary in the background, we drove home, utterly soaked. Every now and then, we turned to grin at each other. Another adventure survived.

Moral: This is a great park. You can hike, kayak, canoe, or simply enjoy wide open spaces from the many benches scattered around. Take Highway 101 to Oregon’s Milepost 149 and turn east. The turnoff and the parking lot by the visitors’ center are well-marked. If you don’t want wet feet, watch your step. If you want to see it all, wear tall boots and carry towels. Lots of towels. Don’t forget the camera.