Thursday, July 31, 2008

MacKenzie Speaks: Exercising Mom

Hi, folks! I know, you’re all wondering where I’ve been all this time, and I have to tell you, I am just about totally worn out. My mom has been really tense lately because there hasn’t been any bull riding on the television for weeks. She’s been moody and awful and she hasn’t let me drag the other dogs around by their heads hardly at all since the PBR in Dallas was on the tube. In fact, she’s sprayed me so much with that darned spray bottle that I actually am sort of getting used to it, but I still run away when she grabs it because if she figures out that I’m not afraid of it anymore, she’ll come up with something even worse. Like a fire hose, or maybe pepper spray.

Anyway, since I am the guardian of this family, old lady dogs and hostile cats included, I knew I’d have to take it upon myself to make sure my mom didn’t go completely bonkers. And the cure for being all pent up is exercise, right? So I decided that my mom really needed to get off her fanny and burn up some of that hostility, and I convinced her the only way I know how—I bounced around and ran over the other dogs and charged outside and barked at the garbage men and the Pooperman and the Chem Lawn guys. And it worked! In less than a week, she and I started walking every weekday morning.

One thing in my favor is that my mom is sort of like a plant—when the sun is up, she’s up, and since the sun comes up around 5 up here in the north country during the summer, and doesn’t set till almost 10 at night, that means that she’s awake most of the time. My dad has more sense than to wake up that early, so my mom doesn’t have anything to do for a more than an hour before he gets up. The other thing about my dad is, I’m the only one who’s allowed to talk to him when he first rolls out of bed. I hop up on the couch and wiggle my butt and lick his face, and he pets me, but then he shambles off to get the cup of coffee my mom is holding out to him and he doesn’t say another word till he’s eaten about half his breakfast. At first I thought my mom was just being pissy when she wouldn’t try to get him to talk, but finally I figured out that he’s not awake yet. I guess maybe she’s had more practice at this than I have. But it makes me feel so good, that he wants to talk to me first!

Anyway, I convinced my mom to get up and take me for a walk, and I must say, it’s working out splendidly. She puts my collar on me and hooks up my leash, and off we go into the early morning. It is usually just a little bit hazy up on the mountains, and we walk to the end of the block and I let her decide which way we will go. I figure that since I’m making her do this, she might as well think she’s in control, right?

We take a different route every morning—I can’t have her getting bored. But I like it best when we walk north, cross the big street, and then walk along a little park in a new subdivision that is mostly undeveloped. My mom says that the city fathers showed good sense when they required the developers to set aside a certain amount of land for parks in every subdivision. I have to agree, since if they hadn’t done that, our house would back right up to somebody else’s back yard and I wouldn’t get to bark at all the dogs who walk their owners down the little trail behind our house. You can see all kinds of crazy doggies out there, and all their crazy people too—little Yorkies walking with big brawny guys, and a bunch of hound dogs, and some spaniels, and mutts, of course, and even a couple of Aussies (none of them as handsome as me).

But my favorite has to be Eiger, a Bernese Mountain Dog who is a little younger than I am. He lives down on the corner and one Sunday, when his folks had taken him hiking and then come back to the house, they let him out of the car and he hot-footed it over to see us. I guess he’d been seeing my sisters and me playing out back and he wanted to play, too. If you don’t know what a Bernese Mountain Dog looks like, click on the link to see a picture.

As you can see, he’s even bigger than I am. I keep trying to convince my folks that when they get another puppy, they need to get one like Eiger, but they’re waffling about that. Sometimes they think they’d like to have a really big dog, like this Mastiff. Of course, Mastiffs aren’t Rhodes Scholars, but I heard my mom tell a friend the other day that intelligence in dogs is way over-rated. That hurt my feelings a little bit, because I thought she loved me for my brains, but I guess it must be for my looks and my sweet personality.

Then other times, they think they’ll just go with the flow and get a tiny little dog, a Yorkie or maybe a dachshund. I guess they might be influenced by the fact that when I went to puppy obedience classes, my best friend was a Yorkie named Henry, but you’d think all my shoving these old lady dogs around would have taught them something by now.

Anyway, when we walk north, we don’t get to go by Eiger’s house. My mom didn’t believe I knew where he lived until one day we were walking along and she said, “Eiger lives here, MacKenzie.” I jumped and started looking around for him, but she was just teasing me. His people let him sleep in. I’d like to, of course, but I’m sacrificing myself for the good of the order.

But walking north is really nice, because we get to walk along the park and I get to dodge the sprinklers, and there are lots of bushes and prairie dog holes to sniff. One problem is that my mom seems to think that once we get outside, we have to go, go, go, go, go! And she never wants to stop and smell the bushes, let alone pee on them. How can she tell who’s been by since we came that way last? And how will they know we’ve been here, if I don’t pee on them all just a little? She’s pretty good about letting me stop sometimes, but after about four or five halts, she gets impatient and yanks on my leash and I know I have to get moving.

Then we cross the street into an area where there aren’t too many houses yet, although Habitat for Humanity is building two duplexes side by side on one corner. We walk up the middle of the street, because there aren’t any sidewalks over there and the ground is pretty rough. We amble up to the corner and turn east and then we can really see the Bridger Mountains. At that time of day, the sun is up but it’s not quite above Bozeman Pass yet, so it isn’t shining in our faces. We turn back south and walk down a long stretch with nothing on either side, and usually my mom will cut across on one of the side streets, because she doesn’t like walking along a busy street too much. Of course the only people who are out are construction workers on their way to work, but they all drive big bad-ass trucks and they drive too fast and talk on their cell phones and make big wide turns, and a lot of noise. And boy, do they stink!

Sometimes we see the lady who jogs in bicycle shorts, and the lady who walks all the way down to the corner and then turns around and comes back, and the guy who jogs past us as we are heading for home, and there’s even a lady who rollerblades early in the morning. We hardly see any other dogs, though, I guess because most dogs walk their people on the trail and we usually don’t walk there. That’s all the fault of the old ladies, by the way. One morning mom and I turned at the corner by Eiger’s house and walked up the trail, and all three of the old lady dogs ran outside and barked at us till long after we were out of sight. I guess my mom wasn’t too pleased, because we haven’t done that again.

By the time we get back home, the sun is up and my mom is nice and relaxed. Of course that only lasts till we get inside, because then I have to get the other dogs into their proper positions for breakfast and that’s a noisy process. It’s amazing my dad can sleep through it. Sometimes my mom gets so mad she goes for the spray bottle and then I have to run outside and sit on the deck till everybody calms down. I really don’t understand why she doesn’t care if they all just mill around like a bunch of lost sheep, but maybe it’s because she’s a person and I’m a sheep dog. She just doesn’t understand me sometimes.

But in general, I have to say that dragging her out for a walk in the morning is a big success. It takes her mind off the fact that she hasn’t seen any bulls hop in a while and it gets her out from in front of the computer, where I think she’d sit 24/7 when no bulls are bucking, if I weren’t here.

There’s only one problem—I’ve done such a good job of convincing my folks that I’m the one who needs exercise that on the weekends, my mom makes my dad take me out for a long, hard walk. Last Sunday, he drove me out to Hyalite Reservoir and we walked all the way up the hill to a waterfall. By the time we got up there, I was so hot and tired that I didn’t even care that the waterfall was a lot like a big spray bottle, I just walked right into it. When we got back to the house, all I could do was lie on the floor with my head on the air conditioning vent, and pant. I’ve got to figure out how to tell my dad that I really don’t need all this, it’s just to keep my mom sane. I mean, it’s my job and all and I take it seriously, but everybody should get the weekend off, right?


Stockyard Queen said...

The Stockyard Queen is proud to post this comment on behalf of Shannon, who is having technical difficulties. Here it is:

MacKenzie, it looks like you have a beautiful area to walk in. I'm sure your mom appreciates you helping her through the PBR slump. I, too, am taking more walks these days and I'm also reading a lot more. In fact, when I was looking at the library the other day and had to laugh when I came across a Harlequin type of book called "Cowboy Christmas". Somehow, I'm sure it wasn't quite the same thing as Reese's. But, perhaps that's a discussion for another time.....

Anyhow, Eiger sounds like a great dog. If your folks to into another puppy, I think the Mastiffs are wonderful. I also like Newfies and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. And since you brought up the tiny dogs, I don't suppose you know which rider it was that I saw walking to his car holding a leash attached one of those kinds of dogs? I'm sure it belonged to his girlfriend (she was right next to them), but it was an amusing picture--a cowboy with an itty-bitty dog *g*

I'd like to say that the walks will end soon since the PBR is back this weekend, but given that your mom's an early riser and PBR is on in the evenings, I won't make any promises. As for your dad and his walk, was the view worth the time and effort? From the pictures, it looks like it was.

Jean said...

MacKenzie, I'm jealous. Where's my fly rod I'm comin' visiting. I'll bring my barn dawg Belle (aka Bellatrix LeStrangedog). You two can play while I fish.

Those photos are exactly what I loved about Montana. Within 5 minutes of my house in any direction I had scenery more beautiful than poor tourists were standing in long lines to see at a National Park.

We had trout filled streams in every direction and caught enormous bass out of each of the three reservoirs within 10 minutes of our house. The air smelled like Christmas trees, sweetgrass and woodsmoke.

Damn... I'm homesick.

Stockyard Queen said...

Sweetie, you and yours are always welcome up here. Our oldest dog is named Belle as well! In a few weeks, we'll start smelling the pine trees when the wind blows up from Big Sky. I can't wait.

Jean said...

I'm packing ;-)

I vote against a mastiff simply because the daughter of a friend of mine was attacked by one recently while at a dog park. Plus, I don't much care for the macho breeds which, to me, include any type of bulldog and bulldogesque dogs except possibly Frenchies.

I'd take that bernese mountain dog which is actually the breed I'd decided on to replace my old barn dogs when we had to have them put to sleep. My neighbor had other plans for me and his extra australian cattle dog pup however, so I have LeStrangedog.

She's only a year old so she's pretty hyper still but she's extremely smart. She's also hell on those dastardly ground squirrels that plague me. If she spies one across the paddock (and she has the eyes of a falcon) it's dead within 30 seconds.

So far she hasn't started harrassing the horses yet. She started playing with one through the fence one day letting him chase her back and forth while she wagged and barked and waited for him to catch up.

She's also really friendly with humans so she's not an issue with people coming to view the minis. She barks when something is amiss or someone or something is in the yard that shouldn't be. That's all I need a guard dog to do.