A Christmas Tail

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“I love this bird bath!” . . . .

Maud came into our lives late in 2017 and anybody who has elected to cope with an energetic, rambunctious puppy will know what ensued.  Life became puppy-centered chaos!  The tragic loss of our former dog Rosie led us to become very protective of Maud.  She is confined to the yard, walked on a leash and is billeted at night in her crate in the house.  She has a large, covered outdoor kennel where she stays when we make day trips to town in hot weather and she cannot be left in the car or pickup.  Nor can she be left in the house, for a variety of reasons (she chases our two cats, Katya and Bleu; she chews on everything; she empties the waste baskets, etc. etc. etc. )>

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“What’s this white stuff?” . . . .

It has taken all of 2018 to learn the lessons of Maud.  Her first long trip was to our cabin at Red Feather Lakes, Colorado.  We made several “comfort” stops for her along the way but she was having none of it.  She chooses where and when.  She loves life at Red Feather, with endless walks around the lakes, barking at the squirrels and chipmunks who seem to be everywhere, diving into snow banks to unearth voles and critters hiding below and chasing her frisbee, off-leash at last!

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“This stuff gets in my eyes!” . . . .

In February she made her first overnight trip to Denver.  She thought life at the Marriott was dandy.  She was able to identify our room after a couple of passes, enjoyed long walks through the adjacent office park and neighborhood, and barked at our selection of TV programs.  We had to turn that off or be evicted.  She became very excited riding around in Denver’s non-stop traffic.  We had to confine her to the back seat for safety and sanity.  She prefers to ride between us on the console in the pickup where she can choose the radio programs, crank up the heater and mess with everything on the dashboard.

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“I got it, I got it, throw it again!” . . . .

In March our challenge was what to do with Maud for our date at the Wyoming Symphony in Casper.  We had season tickets and missed the January performance due to a blizzard.  It meant leaving her in the cold car, in the dark, for several hours.  We packed her dinner, her bowls, a blanket and she managed fine.  Michael volunteered to walk her during intermission and missed out on the traditional cookie and coffee break.  What we sacrifice for a dog!

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“You’re not getting me in that thing!” . . . .

Maud is an Australian Shepherd.  We have been told this breed ranks in the top ten for “separation anxiety.”  In July we had to confront the problem of driving to Omaha for son Royce’s wedding.  This was not a trip for Maud.  Not only does she bark at trucks (I-80 is a truck train), but we couldn’t leave her in the hotel or a hot car while we made the rounds of pre-and- post nuptial events.  Departure was traumatic.  Michael was anxious, I was crying, and our caregiver was grimly determined.  Maud was not be comforted and roamed every room in the house looking for us.  I phoned home and cried.

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“That’s my frisbee, Gus!” . . . .

Maud’s best friend lives nearby and comes to visit frequently.  He always seems to get ahead of her to retrieve the ball or frisbee and she gets pretty annoyed.  The expression in her eyes says it all.  She is bigger and stronger than Gus, but he out-maneuvers her.  Isn’t that like a guy?

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“Come down out of that tree and I’ll have you!” . . . .

We took a jeep trip to the Big Horn Mountains later in July to attend a memorial service for a dear friend.  We usually take the doors off the jeep, swathe our heads in a bandana and hope the dust doesn’t overtake us before we reach the top.  Maud is supposed to ride in the back of the jeep, however she prefers to stick her head out and smell the air and look for varmints.  Before I know it, I have a 40-plus pound dog sitting in my lap trying to hang out the door opening for whatever adventure might be discovered.  One rabbit and we’ll never see her again!  By the time we reached our destination and the ensuing service, we were barely presentable.  Maud only barked once or twice during the speeches and I was able to keep her at a distance so she wouldn’t jump up and lick everybody’s face.

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“Want to play ball?” . . . .

We planned a getaway to Taos, New Mexico in September.  We were determined that Maud would make a real road trip with us and were delighted to learn our favorite bed and breakfast had one pet-friendly suite.  We were a little nervous, as the Hacienda Del Sol is pretty cushy and wraps around a walled courtyard which is beautifully landscaped.  We rose early to walk Maud off premises and sorted out where we could take “comfort” breaks.  By this time, Maud was more accommodating and accepted our choices, for the most part.  Her only faux pas was peeing in the courtyard in the presence of the proprietor as we returned from shopping one afternoon.  Bad form, indeed!  They did not evict us.  I hope we can go back.

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“I’m waiting” . . . .

We have been busy all of December shopping, baking and making the usual round of holiday gatherings.  Michael’s black-tie event in Sheridan posed yet another challenge.  The Holiday Inn was very accommodating.  Maud took her first elevator ride with grace and aplomb, remained calm in the presence of children roaming the corridors (she loves children and wants to hug and kiss them!) and was perfectly well behaved until we reached our room.  Then she became agitated, whining and finally barking at us with commands.  In years past we would have taken the time for a glass of wine in the cocktail lounge and relaxed before dressing for dinner.  Not so this year.  We put on our coats and with Maud on her leash, walked to the PetSmart store just a block away.  Maud was so excited to finally be invited in to shop, and what an array of dog treats, bones, toys and other dogs!  We settled on a lime green ball, fed her a complimentary cookie and headed back to our hotel where we spent the next hour bouncing her new ball around the room while she raced madly around retrieving it.  She had to wait for us in the pickup while we tried to enjoy the rest of the evening.

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“You mean I wasn’t supposed to?” . . . .

Barring a blizzard, we will be at Red Feather for Christmas and Maud, Michael and I send our best wishes for the holiday season.  We look forward to the New Year and the next chapter of life with Maud.  It truly is a dog’s life!

 

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