Tuesday, June 7, 2011


When we first lost Aggie, I was stunned mostly by how empty the house felt.  There was a presence missing, and the house was quiet.  Too quiet.  And so Skipper came to live here in January, a little over 4 months ago. 

Rich calls Skipper the Bizarro Aggie.  (for those not well versed in Seinfeld minutia, here's the wikipedia, though it doesn't focus on the hilarious Bizarro world interactions as much as the man hands and Kramer's job!).   Skipper is completely opposite Aggie in every way.  Aggie was 100% personality, coming directly at you, forcing you to deal with her.  Skipper would prefer very much to just be left alone, thank you very much. 

Quite honestly, Skipper appears devoid of any personality whatsoever, though that's not fair to her.  There are flashes of personality, but they are fleeting and quickly subdued. 

Here's Skipper's schedule:  Wake up when we do.  Get hauled out from under the bed, then picked up and taken downstairs when leash is put on.  Go for walk and hopefully take care of business.  Come inside, have leash hooked on a chair to keep her in one place, then have wet food set in front of her which she quickly eats as long as no one is watching.  Be unhooked from leash, make a mad dash for under the couch.  Wait til Rich and Elizabeth leave for school, then dash past Gee and Andrew and follow Susan upstairs.  Dash under bed.  Stay there.  At 5:30, get hauled out from under bed, leash hooked on, carried downstairs for afternoon walk, where hopefully business is taken care of.  Come inside, leash unhooked, and depending on mood dash under couch or dash upstairs and go under bed.  If stayed downstairs, wait until kid's bathtime and follow Susan upstairs, and dash under bed.  Get hauled out from under bed around 10 and carried downstairs for evening walk with Rich.  Come inside, have leash removed, and dash upstairs to under bed.  When it is completely quiet and dark, creep out from under bed and crunch dog food and lap up water.  Hide under bed til morning.  Repeat. 

To be honest, a terrarium with a couple of snails may have more personality. 

As Rich says, to counter my argument that at least she's an easy dog: I'd like to know I even have a dog in the house! 

I vacillate between two strategies.  Either we leave her alone completely to come out of her shell on her own, or we haul her out from under the bed and force her to interact.  If I had errands to run in the car on cool days I've taken her along.  We sometimes make her sit with us downstairs.  Harrison is jealous when we do this. 
She was great in Florida.  OK, well, sure, she spent her usual 22 hours of the day under the bed, but I was able to walk her off leash every day and she loved it.  So when we got back, I took E and A and Skipper to Rock Creek and we hit a short trail. 

She is a cute dag (Rich: cute is not enough!). 

And to be fair, she has some sort of intestinal issue that we cannot seem to fully resolve, and it clearly impacts her.  We deal with one thing and she's great, and then another thing pops up.  Perhaps she has IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), brought about by stress/nervousness.  She'll likely be at the vet again this week.  And she does sometimes break out a little bit - three out of the past four days she's come out from under the bed in the morning and followed me downstairs, without the hauling and carrying.  There is a playful, sweet pup in there, we just hope, with a little attention, patience, and more time we can bring it out. 

The From Left to Write Book Club consists of over 100 bloggers who read books and then write posts inspired by the book (not a review of the book). This month's post was inspired by The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova BaileyAs a member of the book club, I was given a free copy of the book. This isn't remotely the post I wanted to write about this lovely, spare, lyrical, poetic book.  I don't actually read all that much natural history, even though I tend to love what I read (because of a lethal combination of "I give at the office" mixed with jealousy and bitterness that I don't write like this).  This is among the best natural history I've ever read.  I love, love love Victorian naturalists, but even more than their writing I love when someone else culls through their prose and pulls out the best bits.  And what I truly loved about the book is that it sits in many categories - I loved the natural history, but the woman who brought this book to the book club did so because of the long-term debilitating illness that is the other portion of the book.  This book came along at precisely the right and absolutely the wrong time in my professional life, as I face the reality of leaving behind the world of science and nature, even as tenuous as my connection had been the past few years.  I have a few posts in my head to write about that, so we shall see if they ever make it into pixels. 

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