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I…am very out of practice…

Recently, I had family visit and they brought their two dogs with them, Pickles and Unagi.  Pickles is a Rottweiler.  Unagi is a pit bull mix of some kind.  Maybe with a retriever.  What I’m saying is, I had an extra two large dogs in the house.  Four big dogs in the house is kind of a lot, guys.

The good thing was that all the dogs got along just fine.  Horse kind of just ignored everyone because he’s a cantankerous old man.  Or not really.  He’s actually kind of cheerful but dumb.  But he is definitely old.  So he wasn’t much for the playing and rambunctiousness of the younger dogs.

Yaris…is a princess.  But she does like to play.  So she got along well with the other dogs.  She and Pickles already knew each other because Pickles visited for about a week when she was a puppy.

Pickles is the next youngest and definitely the tallest dog.  She’s taller than Horse but doesn’t have his bulk.  She…also is a little bit dumb.  My mother decided that Horse was “number one dumb” and Pickles was next.  That’s probably accurate.  Horse is pretty dumb.  Pickles sometimes would try and compete with Horse for the title of number one dumb, but in the end…I think she’s still a little smarter than Horse.  She’s also quite loud.  And bossy.  Always barking at the other dogs to do stuff.

Unagi is the youngest, really still a puppy, but incredibly smart.  He’s probably the smartest dog of the four.  When they first arrived, someone had put him outside in the backyard.  The other dogs were still inside and I saw that he wanted to come inside from the backyard.  I had Yaris go outside to teach him out to use the doggy door.  He looked startled when Yaris suddenly appeared from the doggy door and he didn’t quite catch her when she came back inside.  So I had Yaris go in and out of the doggy door again and I saw that he was watching Yaris intently.  Right after Yaris came inside, he poked the doggy door and came inside too.  He had it down after that.  Then he liked go outside at will to run around like a crazy dog.  Well actually, he definitely has an on/off switch.  Either he was on and running around like a crazy dog.  Or he was off and sleeping.  There really wasn’t an in between setting.  He and Yaris would play a lot of biteyface.  Well, until Pickles would bark at them because she wasn’t invited to play.  Punk.

So anyway, while I had all four dogs with me, I happened across a small jar of bubble solution.  I have always wondered how Yaris would react to bubbles so I took the dogs outside and blew bubbles at them to see what would happen.

Pickles immediately ran off chasing them and trying to bite them to death.  This wasn’t really surprising.  It seemed a very Pickles thing to do.  Earlier, she spent a good amount of time barking at my broombot.  Unagi barked at it too.  But Pickles continued barking long after Unagi had realized that the broombot wasn’t going to do anything to him and ignored it.  Pickles was very offended by the broombot and barked at it almost constantly.  I figured something similar would happen with bubbles.

Unagi would chase after the bubbles sometimes.  Other times he would sit with Yaris and just look at the bubble stream.  That was kind of surprising to me.  I thought for sure he would run after the bubbles like a crazy dog.  But no, only sometimes.

Yaris didn’t run after the bubbles at all.  I was a little surprised.  I thought she might chase after them because she does have a high prey drive.  But then again…she’s a princess and she did the princessly thing of sitting on her butt and just watching the bubbles float by.  She seemed to enjoy watching bubbles magically appear from the bubble wand.  And I caught a few of them on the wand to let her sniff.  She sniffed at the bubbles quite delicately and then sat back, and apparently wanted to watch more bubbles float by.  Princess.

And Horse?  Well…Horse took a nap.

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I think it’s official.  I mean, he’s pretty much always been an old man since he arrived.  You’ll remember that I adopted him when he was 6 so he was already an older dog.  He’s always snored like an old man.  It’s super annoying when he falls asleep before me.

Anyway, Horse is 10 now.  That’s pretty old for such a large dog.  You’ll note that I already had to make him a sweater for the winter when I didn’t have to do that for Choco until she was well into her teens.  But he’s really nailed home his old fart status recently when I had taken him and Yaris out for a walk and…he just refused to walk any more.

I try and take the dogs out on nightly walks.  It’s…not been anything close to nightly.  But anyway, when we go out, we’ll normally wander around the neighborhood for about a mile.  Recently, I’ve noticed that Horse is pretty reluctant to walk toward the end as we’re getting closer to the house.  At first, I thought maybe he just wanted to stay outside and sniff at things more.  But I would remember how he would puff while walking up hills, much more so than before, like…an egregious amount of puffing for the small hill we’re walking up.  So I thought maybe he was getting tired at the end of the walk and that I shouldn’t walk more than a mile with him anymore.

The other night, I took the dogs out for a walk and I decided we could go all the way up the hill instead of halfway up and circling back like normal.  Horse had been trotting next to me all way until we got to about halfway up the hill and he was huffing and puffing like he had been running the whole time.  I checked to see how he was doing at the halfway point and he seemed ok and going up the hill was only going to add less than a quarter mile to the overall distance, so I decided we could keep going.

A small problem arose at the top of the hill where there were people parked next to the sidewalk and blocked easy access to cross the street to go back downhill.  It meant that I might have to acknowledge their existence.  I did not want to do that.  This is partly the reason why I walk the dogs pretty late at night.  There are fewer people to acknowledge and I can pretend it’s just the dogs and me.  (I am a jerk.)  Since those people were in the way, I decided that we’d just have to go around the longer way that brings us out to a main street.  The total distance would be about a quarter mile added to our normal distance.

I should mention that another reason I prefer to walk at night is that it allows me to walk Yaris off leash.  There are minimal distractions at night and if she does happen to get distracted, and I just use a laser pointer or flashlight to direct her attention back to where it should be.  But that’s only if we’re inside the neighborhood where there isn’t much car traffic so Yaris can be off leash and I only have to look after Horse.  But since we had to go out to a main road, I had to leash up Yaris.

So, now I’m walking the dogs on one leash via the splitter and we’re going downhill, but next to a bigger road.  I figured it would be ok because we were going downhill and Horse would probably want stop to sniff things, since we don’t often walk this way.  But…Horse started moving slower and slower and he didn’t seem to be interested in sniffing things.  I would have to nudge him to get him moving.  And then I started hearing the beginnings of his panicky whines.  It’s the whine he makes when he really doesn’t want to do something, like going up the steps into the dog tub for a bath.  This was not a good sign.  And it wasn’t.  Because he just stopped moving after that.  He planted all four legs and wouldn’t budge.

Horse is a heavy dog.  I can move him if I push him a bit, but it’s tiring and not really an effective way of getting him to move.  So I decided we’d rest for a couple of minutes and go again.  Yaris tried to help by making fun of Horse and then dragging him.  Horse is about twice Yaris’ weight, so I don’t know how much her dragging helped at all.  He was willing to walk again after a few minutes but only about two steps.  And then he planted his legs again.  We repeated this for about 30 minutes before I gave up and called my brother to see if he could take my car and pick up Horse.  We were within a few hundred feet from the house at this point but if we continued on in the same way we were going, we probably won’t make it back to the house for hours.

When my brother came by Horse had already plopped down on the sidewalk.  He saw the car and got excited and wanted to get into the car.  But…he refused to actually get into the car.  I ended up having to lift him into the car.  Did I mention that he’s pretty heavy?  And I’m doing this while making sure that Yaris isn’t running off exploring the middle of the road.

After I finally stuffed Horse into my car, I told my brother I’d walk Yaris back to the house, and it took us like 5 minutes to walk back (had to cross a street).  Horse saw us coming up and he got excited and trotted toward us like nothing was wrong.  He conveniently forgot that he was supposed to be tired unto death and that I was extremely irritated with him.

Anyway, lesson learned.  I’m not walking more than a mile with Horse anymore.  I now have to drop him off at home halfway through the walk and take Yaris out for another loop so she gets enough exercise.  The first time we did this, Horse was terribly offended and barked at us as we disappeared off in the distance.  Then he went inside the house to pout.  Not my fault dude.  Not my fault.

Also, I was really lucky my brother was home that day.  I’m not sure what I would have done if it was just me.  I’m thinking I would have tied Horse to a tree and then went back with Yaris to get my car to pick him up.  I’m definitely not carrying that dead weight.  If Yaris did something like that, I’d have a fighting chance carrying her home.  She’s small enough to shoulder carry and obedient enough not to wiggle around if I told her not to.


You can see Yaris just off camera judging him.