Max came to us as a six year old champion that needed a change of scenery. He was the perfect age, right between our two year old Whippet and our sixteen year old Italian Greyhound. The two year old had recently lost his fifteen year old Whippet playmate and all of us needed a “pack” addition. We knew Max was special from the start and as he came out of his shell and got to know us we realized what a calming presence he was.
When my father went into memory care, right before hospice, Max visited him with me every week. Not only would Max lay by Dad and stretch his body to touch Dad along his entire side as Dad lay and listened to the rest of us visit and read, but before and after the visit with Dad, Max would entertain the rest of the staff and residents in the twelve unit wing where Dad was staying. One resident, Lisa, loved dogs, but could not care for her own anymore. She would take Max by the collar and lead him around the wing. Every once in a while he would look back at me, wondering if I needed him, but would continue with Lisa until I went to get him or until she let go of his leash. Lisa also had a buddy in the unit, Rob, that used to raise “police” dogs, in his words. He was relatively new to the facility as a resident and would often become agitated at how difficult it seemed to be for him to leave the place (he wasn’t able to leave as he was a resident and simply couldn’t remember it). The staff really liked to see Max come because no matter how difficult things were with Rob, when Max showed up he forgot all his frustrations and could not say enough about how well trained Max was as he praised his calm manner around people.
Both of Max’s pack-leader parents go to work in a dental office all day. Trish is a five year old patient. The last time that she was at the dentist she had two baby teeth extracted. While it was done relatively pain free and simply, she associated those missing teeth with going to the dentist and was not particularly interested in another visit, no matter who promised fun flavors and simple procedures. She came in nervous and clinging to her parent. When Dr. Amble asked if she liked dogs she simply gave a single nod of her head, so he suggested that she might like to meet one of the office mascots. When Max came down the stairs he quietly came up to Trish. His head was basically at the same height as hers, so with his head bent down he gave her just a little peek out of the corner of his left eye. When all she did was look back at him he kept twisting his head until he was lying flat on his right side in front of her with his chest and tummy pointed toward her. It was really sweet and Trish finally reached out to greet him. He totally turned it around for her and before we knew it she was smiling as she ran down the hallway to her appointment which, by the way, went fine.
Just because you are an adult doesn’t mean that a dental appointment doesn’t give you the butterflies, either. Max is never adverse to saying “Hi”, offering a reassuring head to pet, or even in some cases, spending a few minutes giving an all-out body hug.
Max has calmed many a patient prior to their visit, some during their visit, and even a few more after their visit. He and the rest of his dog pack spend the majority of their working days on the second floor snoozing, scoring treats and chasing tennis balls around the business manager’s office and the break room.
This is the time of year that I like to fill this thing with wood and sit with a book all evening.
The design is an interesting one called “The Rumford”, based on Count Rumford’s London design from around 1796. It has a tall, wide opening with a not-so-deep firebox and a flue restrictor whose purpose is to speed up air and improve updraft for a less smokey fire. The better updraft allows for the more shallow firebox, bringing the warmth of the fire closer to the front and more into the room.
I’ve spent many a pleasant Friday evening with my toes pointed at the fire and my nose buried in a book, with three happy dogs sprawled together, held back from the heat only by the fire screen.
I know that sweet baby red foxes don’t quite fit the definition of “blastie” for the Scots, so for animal Tuesday a week ago, I blogged pictures of a mother red fox and her four kits in our back yard. They were little greyish sort of blobs then, just starting to find their legs. Oh what a difference a week makes. I’m sure I’m imagining things, but it seems like the rabbit population has already dwindled. I caught these pictures of one of the four kits this morning from our bedroom window as we were getting ready for work. All four of them are still around, happy and playful. They’re moving much faster now, which is why I could only get a good shot of one of them.
I can see it now, I’m looking forward to a few years rodent free down on our end of the lake!
For the last three years or so our yard in the northern suburbs has been overrun by rabbits. They get into anything green in the vegetable garden and eat lots of the budding flowers as well. It seems like the population of rabbits and foxes ebbs and flows in an alternating cycle in our area. When there are so many rabbits that the in-breeding starts to show (stumpy ears, funny feet, etc.) the fox population starts to pick up. It seems we might be at that stage now, as here are the new squatters at the north end of our yard. All the pictures aren’t great, but we have seen a mommy fox with four babies!
The stare must have burned into the artist’s consciousness, because he looked up and smiled right at Nico.
Gilbert then glanced over and stood up, wagging his tail at Nico. That was the precise moment that Nico realized Gilbert was not in his truck and that the artist was laying on one of his packing quilts. Neither one of these things was a big issue, but it did mean that this amply bottomed artist had been inside his truck.
“Stay” he said loudly to Gilbert as he held out his hand in the universal halt signal. There was really no need to do this, as Gilbert knew the rules, no running to Nico unless called. Gilbert decided to make it clear Nico was over-communicating, so he sat down.
Nico strode over to the side of his truck and Alexander moved to sit back on his haunches. He stuck his hand out, saying “I’m Nico, you must be…?” he wasn’t going to make any assumptions here.
Laughing, the young man grabbed his hand and hauled himself to his feet. “I’m Alexander, dude, really cool to meet you!”
Nico leaned down and picked up the abandoned sketch pad. “I see you’ve been sketching my dog…”
“Yeah, he is so cool and he has the best eyes…”
Nico interrupted with his continued statement “…who used to be in my truck…on my packing quilt, which also used to be in my truck.”
“Oops, first mistake?”
When we first started coming to Lake Christine, near Lutsen, MN, on a regular basis. The moose were easier to see and Old Greybeard, a mistress of the area, was a well known sight.
She was known to have twins almost every year and would raise them, during the earlier part of the summer, in and around the lake. We would most often see just her, eating the tender cedar branches hanging over the water, but caught glimpses of her twins once in a while as well.
I think it was two years ago that we heard she had died. I believe there was a rumor of both her death from simple old age as well as her having been shot by a hunter with a moose license. Either way, the result was the same, she doesn’t show up across the lake from where we stay anymore.
“Happy Mayday, boys! Try to get some rest and relaxation in today!”
“Go away, Dad, we’re busy sleeping.”
*Rolls eyes and walks out of the room*