Like most things in life there are good and bad parts to having Minnie around. The hardest thing to deal with is that Minnie doesn’t like Orion. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say she doesn’t like it when Orion has my attention. She’s also a little scared of him moving about in his wheelchair.
Of course there’s another side. When Orion is planted in place eating Minnie is right underfoot. She is very much aware that the person most likely to drop food on the floor is Orion. She’s pretty sure once it hits the floor, it’s hers. (Minnie is a very food aggressive dog.)
I’ve got a dog run set up out the back door, so the whole in and out thing isn’t difficult. Timing seems to be challenging. Minnie has her moments when she’s in 15 min, out 15 min, in 15 min, out 15 min. She also sometimes waits a little too long to ask to go out (and I’m not always quick to get to the door). I mopped up a puddle or two over the course of the week.
On the positive side she and I took a walk every day she was here. I like being out. I like walking. I just don’t, unless I have a good reason. I’m not fond of walking aimlessly through the neighborhood, and I’m not motivated enough to go to a park or the lake just to walk. It didn’t hurt that the weather cooperated. I bundled up a couple of times, but we never had to walk in the rain (or snow).
When I look at the exercise I get when Minnie is around I think about how beneficial it would be to have a dog. Then I remind myself that I’m trying to reduce my ties to external responsibilities, not add to them. I could walk to the coffee shop (and write). I could walk to the grocery store (as long as it was just a few items I needed). I could walk to my volunteer shift at Gilda’s Club (even in dress shoes).
The thing I miss most when Minnie leaves is the company. She goes and I find myself looking for her every few hours. I miss the cuddles. I miss her sleeping on the couch while I read a book. I even miss the evening, going to bed, routine. But not enough to need a dog of my own. I am reminded that the best part of being a grandparent is that you get to send them home.
Those who are regular readers know that I have Karina staying with me unexpectedly this month. With Karina comes her dog, Minnie. There is a difference between “babysitting” for a weekend and having the dog come to live with you. I’m learning a lot.
One of the things I find interesting is how much I struggle with Mom vs Grandma. When I talk to Minnie about Karina, it’s Mom. When I talk to Minnie about me I stumble. I’ve still got Orion and I don’t have grandchildren (beyond the dog). I think I’m ready to be a grandma. (I’m not sure I’m ready for Karina to be a mom, and with Orion all bets are off.) But I clearly don’t think of myself that way. I wonder how many other people struggle with the words during that transition?
The other part of that is “Whose the Boss?”. Karina is gone, a lot. I’m home, in my house. On their own, Minnie would spend that time in her kennel. Here, since I’m moving about, that’s just not fair. So I have Minnie for much of the day, but she’s not my “responsibility”. That might be fine if she was a plant.
As it is, Minnie and I are constantly interacting. She wants to go out, her food bowl is empty, it’s hot and she needs water. She wants to play, she wants to cuddle, she wants to jump into my lap and jump out and jump back in. When I’m in the kitchen, or doing anything else, she’s under-foot. Even when she’s quiet, her presence napping on the couch while I type makes the atmosphere different than when she’s not around.
This weekend Karina spent some time in her room binging on The Lord of the Rings movies. Minnie, of course was with her. It occurred to me more than once to look up and wonder about where the dog was, and what she was getting into. I think I’ll miss them both when they go.
This morning I took Minnie for a walk. She’d spent a lot of the time in the kennel this weekend. She was really hyper and needed some exercise. It’s not my job to take the dog for a walk. I spent a lot of time not doing anything productive this weekend. I needed some exercise enough to notice that I hadn’t been getting any. The fact of the matter is that the walk was for me, but I wouldn’t have taken it without the dog.
It’s probably good to be doing this transition with a puppy rather than a baby. The “stepping on toes” doesn’t hurt quite as much this way. If Minnie was a baby, Karina would want to know when, what and how much she was eating (and what was coming out the other end.) Do I really have to tell her that I sneak Minnie bacon at breakfast?
I’ve been trying to get out of my head all week. Not an easy task apparently. Missing the cat hasn’t helped. Rainy days (day after day after day) hasn’t helped. Not sleeping (the rain doesn’t help the background pain at all) doesn’t help. I know I did some things last week. I maybe even did some cool and important things last week. I just don’t remember much except the grey.
It occurred to me, in a flash of sunlight, how important the little things are. I watered the plants.
I fed the feral cat that took refuge from the rain in my garage. (No worries, he was gone as soon as the sun came out.) I took Orion to Trader Joe’s.
You have to understand that Friday afternoon our Trader Joe’s does wine tasting. Most of the time the wine tasting host is a lovely Italian man named Lorenzo. He teases Orion in Italian and Orion adores him (so of course I do too.) What’s not to like about that little excursion. I get groceries, wine, entertainment, a happy Orion and flirting with an Italian. Life starts looking up.
The other thing I know that gets me out of my own head is helping others. A Gilda’s Club just opened in Minneapolis (practically in my back yard.) Some of you will remember Gilda Radner from Saturday Night Live. When she was dying of breast cancer she found a club for women like herself to just hang out and support each other. She left them a legacy and they became Gilda’s Clubs. They’re scattered across the united states and most of them are open and welcoming to anyone of any age who’s dealing with cancer, supporting someone with cancer, or survived having cancer.
I am a cancer survivor myself. I had colon cancer in my 20’s. My Mom is a breast cancer survivor. My cousin is just clear of throat cancer. There are members of the family who’ve dealt with prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. My best friend from college died of Kaposi sarcoma, the skin cancer that is associated with HIV/Aids. (It’s what Tom Hanks character had in Philadelphia.) I easily qualify as a member of the club no one wants to belong to.
Since they had their grand opening a week ago I figured I’d stick my head in on my rounds and check it out. It’s a beautiful building, well designed and appointed. I sat in on a cooking/nutrition class that was very well done. I even got a recipe. I took a tour and saw all their group rooms, the yoga studio, the art room, the teen center and the children’s corner. They may be understaffed and marginally attended now, but they have the facility to really take off in a very short time. I put my name in the pool as a volunteer for the front desk. Hey, it’s walking distance from my house.
Maybe I’ve started a new adventure. Maybe I’ve come full circle. It’s not as extreme as Karina’s solution. I’ve become a doggie Grandma to Minnie Mouse. I’m not stuck in my head anymore.