Can’t Live With’em

Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie

It has been a mighty long week since we arrived back home last Monday after a week away, only to have to endure the past week with the dog on house arrest.

Because of Gandy’s belly stitches (spaying on April 11, then a skin infection) she’s been forbidden to get in the creeks. Which, around here, leaves scant few places to run wide-open and NOT be tempted by a near-by body of water.

As they say, a well-exercised dog is a good dog. The contrary is very much also true. And she has been largely obnoxiously full of herself such that no amount of indoor tug-of-war is enough to wear her out, though it is very effective for the rest of us.

Add to that the fact that she has gotten a good notion of her full measure, and realizes all the higher-elevation forbidden surfaces of her puppy-dom have now fallen within her reach: the kitchen counters, the dining room table, and the cup and plate strewn surface of my desk. She is skilled at bumping my right hand while delicately positioning the mouse to cut and waste or precisely scribble all over a powerpoint image. So much for the creative process.

She now has a full set of adult teeth. So the soft toys she would formerly mouth for long stretches of time, she now disembowels of stuffing in a matter of minutes. She’s especially fond of the “permanently-sewn” plastic eyes and noses of teddy bears. As Euell Gibbons was fond of saying, “Many parts ARE edible.”

And so this phase of human-dog relationship is growing more and more like a bond between spouses: Can’t live with’em. Can’t live with’em. What’s a fella to do?

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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. How much longer? Do you perhaps know of a place you can take her, where there is less water? A hilly hike, a dog park, a school yard that’s fenced? Would the water be less tempting if you were tossing a ball (if you don’t already)?

  2. Fred, hopefully Gandy will have recovered from her ordeal in a few days and be able to swim gain.

    Cassie also hated plastic eyes and noses. If a new toy had them, she chewed them out in short order amid much growling. Toys with internal squeakers were shredded immediately – the thought of toys talking back to her was highly offensive. Spencer is a little more laid back, but just to be on the safe side, we stay away from plastic eyes and noses as well as squeakers. The lad has a mighty jaw.