If Life Gives You Gandy…

She's happy for the company, but can't stand being mimicked

You make lemonade. No, that can’t be right.

Truth is, I don’t know what you do–especially for the first hour of the day, starting of late around 4. This is about when we get up anyway, but during that hour she is a Tasmanian Devil-dog: nothing but mouth, an attention that does not span, and having forgotten anything she might seem to have learned the days before.

I’m sorry to be so stuck on this one subject (no, let me get this right: WE are subjects, SHE is royalty, and very cat-like in that way.) But Gandy is what we’ve taken on, and we’ll soldier through.

On the positive side, she had no indoor accidents yesterday, and a couple of times went to the door and put her paw on it to go out. A couple of times, it was a trick, and she wanted out to chase leaves and chew on pine cones. But she’s connected the door with the place she does her business, and if she needs to, that usually happens in the first minute (or more often the first five seconds) after her feet hit the grass.

And she has her sweet moments, at times replacing mouthing with piranha teeth with gentle licking. When she’s getting tired, she wants up and settles down quickly, the sleepier she is, the higher up on my chest she perches.

Yesterday, with me leaning back in my office chair, she nestled in along my sweatshirt zipper, facing me. I talked to her and stroked her back feet, calming her down for the blessed nap to come.

She cocked her head quizzically, staring intently into my eyes, and lifted one soft paw to reach out and put it lightly on my lips. I don’t know what that was all about. I chose to think it was not random, and that she intended it to express her deep contentment to be here, now, with us. I felt the same way.


She is perplexed about that other dog she sees in the bathroom door mirror, alternately wanting to play and challenging it with a growl and crouch. She’s put nose prints all across the bottom of the mirror already.

Note the door. Like a number of doors that were in the original house (built circa 1870) the doors (some of which were stored in the barn) were of course built to the height of the door framing of those days–somewhere in the neighborhood of 5’10”, which was more than adequate for the tallest person of that era.

We had to build the doors up–top and bottom–to be able to reframe them for today’s much taller folk–a phenotypic expression of our improved nutrition, increased longevity and perhaps other factors that favor taller individuals. You can see we never got around to finishing them, which I justify by saying I like to remember them in their found state. The excuse has worked now for 12 years since we moved in.

We still have one original door opening upstairs that could not be increased because its top abuts the lower ceiling up there. We have to issue helmets when son-or-brother-in-law comes, both of the in the 6’5” range. I’ve learned to duck, and am only 6’2”–or at least used to be.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Oh, I think she’s adorable. I’m kind of getting a much needed vicarioius puppy fix through your posts. I remember the work one of those little things entails (which I usually tend to gloss over in my mind when I’m feeling particularly puppy-less)

  2. When you started with “you make lemonade” I went “uh oh; sounds like Gandy’s a lemon.” But no!! She sounds like she is coming along swimmingly. Going to the door already: our dog still doesn’t signal that way. We have to interpret all sorts of goofy behavior as his signal that he needs to go out. Gentle licks; paw on lips. You are growing up a pup in the right way, for sure. She is going to be a joy for a long time to come, getting off on such a good footing.

  3. She is adorable.

    But, just remember to stop the habit of putting her on your chest to get her ready to sleep — long before it becomes a habit for her. Otherwise, you will have a big dog wanting that attention each night.