The last week or so have been a set of downright pleasant days. Shall we count the ways:
- Baseball’s position players reported to spring training yesterday
- I exchanged awesome emails with the wife of the late jazz great Charles Mingus
- We caught my friend Walter‘s really excellent show at the Armory Cafe in Somerville
- We hung out with friends at Toad a couple nights later
- My wife gave me an early birthday present of a high-priced Invictus wristwatch bought for a preposterously low price
- And I wasn’t immediately shot down when I floated the idea of going to Chicago on the Center for Future Civic Media’s dime to present projects to high schoolers who happen to be students of one of my best friends
It’s like I’m Gatsby and life is a squirrel, and we’re just waiting for the right moment to attack and/or spoon each other.
It’s a lot better than the week or two prior, which was capped off by a scream from the bathroom as my wife accidentally discharged a loaded heart-shaped Valentine’s liquid soap:
Ah, laser pointers. Is there any more entertaining way to mess with your dog?
When we first started playing with the laser pointer, we felt kinda bad, like we were breaking Gatsby’s brain. But then we realized she knows exactly what’s happening and just enjoys the fruitless chase.
We went to Fresh Pond today, and upon our return, Gatsby, who now manages her own Twitter account, got her second chance to walk off-leash. And it was another success, as she proudly tweeted:
OFF-LEASH AT FRESH POND FOR LIKE HALF AN HOUR, BITCHES! WINNER = @GATSBYBOSTON
Lindsay and I were able to film part of it:
It’s clear that there are certain places Gatsby flat-out loves. Fresh Pond is one of them, and she behaves incredibly well with other dogs when she’s not tethered. And then there’s just the fact that she can roll around in the leaves to her little heart’s content:
We still have a lot of work to do with leash aggression, with Gatsby getting quite nervous on-leash approaching a dog on the sidewalks near home. But it’s such a pleasure to be able to go someplace and walk for forty-five minutes with her only reactions being appropriate ones: “BUTTS! . . . MUD PUDDLE! . . . OMG SQUIRREL!”
This past week was a complete wash at work, what with one supervisor away, the other supervisor just having left MIT, and everyone else still recovering from the Future of News and Civic Media conference that we hosted the week before. But a week like that was needed, desperately. And it leads, after a few more days, into my first real vacation since my trip to Ireland in the spring of 2007.
With Lindsay and me trying to save for a house, vacations for the foreseeable future will always be to Easthampton, NY, where her family has a lovingly unpretentious second home. We’ve been looking forward to it for months. We’ll take Gatsby, we’ll see Lindsay’s parents, and we’ll even get to see a couple of friends on the last weekend there (starting their own well-deserved vacation as we end ours). We’ll sleep a lot. We’ll walk Gatsby a lot. We’ll barbecue. It’ll be great.
Meanwhile, mostly Gatsby-centric, the latest photos to share…
Gatsby’s was in her shedding season a couple weeks ago. This was the result, after having swept the week before:
Around the same time, my mom was in town, meeting Gatsby for the first time:
Lindsay’s friend/coworker Courtney just got a Boston Terrier/Pug mix named Cagney, who visited us today and was tough keep still:
Not that Gatsby is any better:
And mysteriously, despite loving to chase squirrels, we bought Gats a stuffed squirrel at Petsmart this afternoon, and this is how we found them soon after:
Lastly, completely unrelated but just because I’m proud of it, a Photoshop/Illustrator job I did showing MIT’s most famous building partially underwater:
Two mornings ago, I was heading out to walk The Gats.
As soon as we got to the bottom of the stairs, she was transfixed…
What she saw must have been one of the most glorious sights for a dog: a squirrel on a low branch was eating an entire blueberry muffin. The whole freaking thing. Sweets + squirrel = Mmmmmmmm-nomnomnom.
So she tries to climb the tree.
Before you know it, the squirrel has bugged out and dropped the muffin right into Gatsby’s mouth. It happened so fast, I thought it was the squirrel in her mouth—but it was the muffin. As if my dog had a Mouth-Mounted Muffin Tractor Beam®.
I (responsibly!) got the muffin away from her.
But we can no longer pass that tree in peace. Every single walk now results in a plaintive, backside-planted gaze up into that tree, into the Magic Muffin Tree, where delicious squirrels drop delicious treats right into your open mouth.
And yet, it’s still more dignified than this:
I’m happy to say the photo at the top, of her under the bed, is a result of being too warm, not of being scared. We’ve been dealing with Gatsby’s socialization with other dogs, specifically that she freaks out, barks, and lunges when she passes dogs on the street. While it’s limited to that—she’s fine with dogs in houses and in parks and off-leash in yards—she’s really uncomfortable on the street.
This afternoon we had a nice breakthrough, courtesy of our friends Jen and Eric and their two Australian shepherds Indigo and Azure. They volunteered to bring their dogs over and have us meet them outside, and after a very brief barking fit, Gatsby calmed down around them. Now, we understand that Gatsby will probably never be the kind of dog that sprints up to other dogs, sniffs, gets into play stance, etc., but with Indigo and Azure as role models, she quickly learned how to be calm around other strange dogs.
We—Jen, Eric, their baby, and our three dogs—walked around the neighborhood, down Mass Ave. to Shepard St. and on to Radcliffe Quad and back, and we came across a total of four dogs. The first one, a small gray guy, started barking at us right away, and Gatsby initially barked back. But in a lesson for all owners, the man walking this dog wasn’t the owner and agreed to stick around for a few minutes while the dogs got used to each other. That’s the key after all: to show dogs that barking doesn’t result in the other dog going away.
Later, walking down Mass Ave., a woman came by with a black labradoodle, and the interaction was completely uneventful! It was the first time ever that Gatsby met a strange dog on our busy local street and simply sniffed and said hi.
Then on Radcliffe Quad, there were two pugs, and the result was the same. They all sauntered over to each other, sniffed, lingered for a minute, and then parted.
So all-in-all, thanks to Jen and Eric! And Azure and Indigo! You helped us and The Gats so much today.
We took the Gats to Fresh Pond again today, and she was SO. WELL. BEHAVED. There’s a long way to go before she doesn’t bark and lunge at dogs on Mass Ave., but this time at Fresh Pond she was friendly with dogs and kids alike.
So when we got home, we rewarded her with our favorite drink: a delicious martini. I think she’s got the look for such a dignified drink, don’t you?