Friday, July 28, 2006

Quietly stepping into the next decade

June 20th I turned 40.

When I turned 30 I was completely unaffected by the landmark number and celebrated with a big party. Approaching my fifth decade and exiting my fourth caused some contemplation, but for the most part I enjoyed it's arrival just like I do all my birthdays. To me birthdays are special days. A day to give thanks for the life you've been blessed with.

Still being 40, I have to admit, catches me off guard every once in a while. Most people I work with now are younger than I am and they seem to know all the newest bands (bands I've never heard of). It is now recommended I go for an annual medical screening that women never look forward to. If I think about my age doubled I quickly try to think of something else. Silly things like that cross my mind. I am fortunate to be petite in stature and have a look that is, I'm told, nearly a decade younger than my actual age. So perhaps I may be 40 but it will be a little while, it seems, before I catch up to it.

My ideal way to celebrate is exactly what we did – slipping away with my little family of husband and beagle to the beauty of Door County. Relaxing time spent driving and exploring and eating and playing. Taking Diesel turned it into an experience much different than it would have been without him and it was so worth it. We planned adventures around what Diesel would enjoy so we visited beaches and parks, took boat rides, and ate all our meals outside in the lovely early summer weather. It was a dog vacation. And I look forward to many more.

On June 20th, as 9:45 P.M. approached, the three of us snuggled up on our hotel bed and opened a bottle of port I received as a birthday gift from a dear friend. We toasted the arrival of the new decade. Soon after finishing my port and taking a well-wishing phone call from my parents I fell asleep to the evening news on television.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

A clever canine in four weeks

I have been thinking about teaching Diesel some tricks. I miss watching his brain work. Just the other weekend I woke my husband up to the sound of a clicker and my saying "Through" as I lured Diesel into doing figure-8s between my legs. He picked it up quickly. He'll follow you anywhere if he thinks you have a treat in your hand. Hounds are that way. Hounds hound.

I bought a book called "The Only Dog Tricks Book You'll Ever Need". It looks great and there are a ton of ideas. But I like classes and social interaction. Photography classes, yoga classes, old-school aerobics classes. Now dog training classes. Besides, I love seeing everyone else's dogs. Somehow I always come to the conclusion that Diesel is the most handsome and the most clever. Not that it's a contest.

So I looked on the Wisconsin Humane Society's Web site yesterday to see what was on offer. Beyond Manners class starts soon but was full and at 5 P.M. anyway. Couldn't make it. But wait, there's a Clever Canine Tricks class that starts tonight. What could I have going on for the next four Wednesday evenings? Nothing much. It's back to school!

Mark and I had taken Diesel to WHS for Manners class within three weeks of bringing him home. It was a six week class and he graduated a star. He is now conditioned to do a good sit pretty much everytime he sees a stranger. Not because I insist he be so polite but because he thinks they have hot dogs. Heather, our instructor at WHS, had hot dogs so chances are a wide variety of humans have hot dogs. Makes me smile. I know he's being a hound but the unsuspecting stranger is impressed with the polite and attentive beagle.

Last night we learned targeting, weaving between my legs as I walk, bow, reinforcing "drop it", and speak on command (I'm not going there – Diesel is the quietest dog ever and I don't want to awaken that noisy beagle instinct!).

This morning right after our walk I took our homework sheet, half of Diesel's breakfast kibble, and the clicker and we went through the paces. He's catching on!

But this time we practiced and clicked outside. My husband was still sleeping.