I know, I know, I promised no more dogs. I kept my word for a few days. Could not pass up the opportunity to put a wolf in sheep’s clothing, (especially when said wolf found the costume on his own… dug it out of a long-lost bag and carried it around in his mouth).
Happy Easter, whether you’re Christian, culturally Christian, or none of the above.
Happy Easter, happy dog.
Simon is wondering what Odin is so happy about. He thinks dog costumes are stupid.
I like to think Oats is waiting for the Easter Bunny in his sly costume. He likes to think we’re going on a walk.
Good news, I’m done blogging about dogs. I realized I was a little obsessed there for a moment. Just imagine what I’ll be like when I have children. Save yourselves.
To make amends, I offer you my favorite song of the week. Here’s the challenge. Go about your business with the song playing in the background but stop every time you hear the words Barbra Streisand and have a mini dance party. If that doesn’t make your Monday happier, I’m not really sure what will. And, chances are, you won’t be able to control yourself and will have to keep dancing.
I know, I know, you’re sitting on the edge of your seat. You just can’t wait to find out what we named our dog. Nothing more exciting has ever occurred in the universe.
Wait, I’m sure the picture in your reader already gave it away.
We kept his name as Odin, *but* with a catch. Oats came in first in the polls, (70 votes, wow!). So, he will be Odin with the nickname of Oats, which works great, because, like I said, the long O sound catches his ears every time, (must have been destined to be Olivia O’Bryon’s dog, right? Enough long O’s for you?). Okay, really he’s more of my husband’s dog, but that’s beside the point.
And, in the spirit of any good marriage, it definitely checked the compromise box. Alex liked the Norse mythology behind the name Odin, so he keeps it, and I don’t have to call him the prefix odi- (aka hate). So, welcome Oats/Odin to the family. Everyone needs a nickname or two, right?
I know what you’re thinking, wait, his name was already Odin– but, his tag said Odi before, so he did officially receive a name change.
Looks pretty comfortable with his new identity, the Norse god of magic and also the father of Thor, (fitting, seeing how one of the suggestions was Thor). But, he’ll be Oats to me. Which reminds me, thanks for all the great name ideas! We had fun reading them here and on Facebook.
Yes, I’m serious. As soon as I realized the root Odi means hate, I was over his name, (the curse of being a fifth grade teacher)… But, we’ve spent all weekend trying to find the right one and, well, it’s hard work. I swear our kid will have four names someday before we find the perfect fit.
Our first dog was purchased from a breeder as a scrappy 6-month-old puppy. He was the last of his litter and his picture on the internet was love at first sight. Sure we had to potty train him, but he came with no emotional baggage. He was secure, feisty, and ready to love.
This scrappy picture from the internet stole my heart.
Odi, on the other hand, is a completely different dog. We are probably his sixth placement, (wherever he started, pound, rescue group, adoptive family, rescue group, us). The family who adopted him before us returned him because he was taking their 3-year-old son’s toys. I can imagine it was more than just the toys.
I laugh that unlike Simon, Odi is an actual dog. He likes being outside, exploring, getting into trouble.
Odi is a ball of energy in the mornings. He wants to play for hours. He has marked in our house. He chews. He scratches at invisible pests even though he has been flea-free for days. We’re helping his tummy overcome the stress of a new home with a bland diet of rice and boiled chicken fed four times daily. There was a moment on the beach yesterday where he looked around and did not recognize anyone. He bolted back toward the car, stopping to see if a stranger was anyone he knew by tapping her ankles with his paws. She looked startled, I got there just in time for him to turn and wag his tail. Thankfully he remembered me.
Put simply, Odi is work. Adopting a dog sounds so beautiful, a saved life, a happy home. And, it is these things, with time. But the work comes first. He offers so many glimmers of a wonderful companion. He plays with Simon without aggression, he sleeps happily in his crate, he is affectionate, calm with people, gentle. He gets Simon to move his butt off the couch. He plays fetch. He loves the backyard. Everyone who has met him has been in awe that we’ve only had him for such a short time, that such a happy, well-mannered dog was homeless.
He is amazing, but he also requires more work and patience than a dog who has never been abandoned. He hates getting in and out of cars. He refused to walk into Petsmart. One out of a hundred people makes him cower behind our legs as though we’ve crossed paths with an evil witch. He likes dogs the most. It is clear he has a history we will never fully understand.
Friends with similar stories give us hope, reassuring us their now well-adjusted dogs were no where near as calm after only a week. Odi is calm, I’ll give him that. I just have to admit I thought rescuing a dog would be a little easier. I don’t regret it and I’m sure his list of challenges is minor compared to many others like him. I’ve already fallen under his spell. He just requires more energy than our lazy little guy lying on the couch next to me. But, I guess that’s why we got him in the first place…
Odi is definitely special. We’re hopeful the love and consistency will pay off.
Spring break ended in a blink. I finished four books, adopted a dog, wrote my last essay to clear my teaching credential, watched two movies (Sessions + Ruby Sparks), went to yoga, submitted two short writing pieces (one was accepted!), and walked by the river. Yesterday, the grand finale, we packed up the dogs and drove to Muir Beach, our favorite hike.
The pet-friendly beach is leash free and the huge hill promises a view down the coast toward San Francisco. I used to look forward to the Pelican Inn as our after hike reward, but now I recommend just the beach. The Pelican is too crowded and the food has lost its magic. Still, Muir Beach was the perfect way to end a week off, even if that week disappeared faster than I’d like.
About a month ago, yoga cat disappeared. We were sad. Our dog was sadder. He destroyed long-time favorite toys, sniffed every inch of ground on our walks, and just looked generally depressed whenever he was left home alone. He and yoga cat used to play chase to pass the time and we almost always found them in the same room, together, when we got home.
Lacking the chase exercise, he began to put on weight. Suddenly, the dog door he had used for years was a little too small. I finally drew the line when he got stuck. Yes, stuck. His harness was the straw that broke the camel’s back, or got the pomeranian stuck in the dog door, depending on how you look at it.
My husband had been trying to convince me he needed a friend for weeks. I was reluctant. What if Luna came back? Did we really want the added expense and work of another creature in our house? Did we feel like potty training a puppy? I was staunchly on the no side, but my husband persisted and I gave in. It would be his dog. He had to pick it out, do the work.
He found a pure-bred border collie puppy down in Modesto. My gut said no. I didn’t want a puppy and I was nervous about having such a smart, possibly high-energy dog. So, I did what any good wife would do and got back on Petfinder to look for a decoy. Success. A wire-haired terrier with grey polka dots on her ears. She looked a lot like Simon’s favorite girlfriend down the street. The dog was supposed to be Simon’s new friend, after all.
My husband, the good sport he is, approved of a quick trip to Elk Grove to check her out at a sanctuary for homeless pets. Poor creature, she was a mess, and Simon had zero interest. He is breed-ist and prefers dogs with poofs similar to his own. Fortunately, in the back of one of the dog runs, Alex spotted our new dog, a border collie mix who patiently wagged his tail while all the other mutts howled in pandemonium.
Our gentle boy.
Alex asked if he could be brought out. It was love, for Alex at least. For Simon, well, he still didn’t show much interest, but as the dog checked him out, they showed no aggression to each other, which is unusual for Simon with boy dogs. This dog was one of the gentlest we had ever met. Even the roaming cats were of no interest to him. As Simon barked like a mad man each time a cat crossed our path, Otis did nothing but wag his tail. All good signs, we decided.
Turns out our pal Otis was the spoiled beast of his previous rescue family, but he kept taking the toys of the three year-old child and it was just too much for the family to handle. He had gone to obedience training, received every medical service imaginable, even had a DNA test to determine his breed combination, (apparently schnauzer, border collie, and cocker, but I’m not convinced). In his year and a half of life, he somehow ended up on death row at a pound and then was rescued by this animal group, adopted, then returned.
The two week trial sold me. Here was this dog with all these pluses, if it didn’t work, we could bring him back. We felt like he picked us. He was so happy to see us through that chain-linked fence, so patient as he watched Simon and wagged his tail. On the car ride home, he snuggled his new friend the entire way. Last night he slept without objection or a single noise in his crate. Today he and Simon stomped around the backyard for hours while I did some spring yard work.
And I thought I was Simon’s best friend…
I wasn’t sure if it would be hard to love another dog like I love Simon, but I think Otis will at least come close. He’s eager to please, kind, and affectionate. He loves Simon like he’s known him forever. Somehow he makes our home more complete, happier even, I guess my husband was right.
The only part we don’t agree on is his name. Alex wants to call him Odin after a pagan Norse god. I immediately took to calling him Oats and Odi for short, which for me goes more with Otis. I guess this dog will have two names, depending on which family member you ask. Although, really, we have both been calling him Odi, so I guess that’s his name. And, it does have a pretty great song to go with it, Odi, Odi, Odi, Oh! Smart boy that he is, his ears already perk up when it plays.
Alright, he does have one bad habit for us to break– he seems to think the planter box is for play… And, yes, there is a reason I did all that yard work, winter left our backyard a mess.
Last year, my spring break was magical. We went to Carmel, ran with the dog on the beach, dined in fancy restaurants, spied on fish at the aquarium, and ate German food with friends on a rainy evening in SF. Like I said, magical.
This year, no big trip planned. My husband has to work, and I’m left mostly to my own devices. One of the blessings of a teacher schedule is that some of my breaks are spent at home. Back when I only had three weeks off a year, every one of those vacation days was spent going somewhere. Now, I have the time to unwind.
There is, however, a catch. I have found that if I just wing it and don’t use my time wisely, I get anxious that I am squandering my valuable time off. My solution, a long to-do list, which I’ll spare you here, (because some of it is not so fun, like lesson planning and writing my last darn State of California teacher essay). Instead, I’ll just give you my favorite pieces:
Yoga. I know you’re shocked. I plan to use up those darn Groupons I keep buying and luxuriate in yoga all week. That in itself is a relaxing escape from normal life.
Read. I’m a funny reader. People give me books all the time, and instead of waiting to start a new book until I finish whatever I’m reading, I usually get impatient and add the new book to the mix, which leads to reading six books at once. I’m excited to go sit on a coffee shop patio, enjoy the week-long 70 degree forecast, and read, read, read.
Dogs. Yoga cat disappeared. She’s gone, our dog is lonely. My husband wants to get him a friend. I might give in… Or just take him to the dog park with my teacher friend.
Day-trip. If I can’t spend the week somewhere, I can at least get us out the door for the day. Thank goodness Northern California is filled with so many amazing spots. Look forward to a post about one of our favorite adventures– a Muir Beach hike and a lazy lunch on the lawn of the Pelican Inn.
Write. Oh yeah, and maybe I’ll write something. I have lost my momentum, but I hope to find it again over the next week.
I know I’m fortunate to have this time at home. I wish we lived in a society that created more time for people to stop and enjoy life. I know we create what we want for ourselves, but it is a nice thought. When I lived in Spain for the summer, I was taken aback by how everything shut down for summer festivals and holidays and siestas and quiet shop-free Sundays… I hope you get a little spring break in there somewhere too.
My sweet husband surprised me with some spring break tulips, a great start to my week off.
I am an ADHD reader. Here is the pile of books I am reading simultaneously. My goal, finish them so I can start fresh.
This week marked the passing of the 100th day of school. The kindergarten and first grade teachers dressed up as 100 year-old ladies and the students squealed with delight. One student asked the other fifth grade teacher why we don’t dress up too. She responded, “Because we would have to be mean old ladies, not nice ones.”
That kind of sums up what teaching fifth grade feels like sometimes. I have to be stoic else I succumb to laughter over forced farts, sexual innuendo or goodness knows what else. Fifth grade is a constant adventure. Occasionally, I crack. However, it’s in my best interest to remain stern. I get why.
This week I survived some pretty traumatic fifth grade break-ups, (for them, not me), awkward puberty conversations, and the reintroduction of chocolate milk to their school diets, (a point I’m lobbying to change). My crowning achievement was not teaching my students to master adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing fractions, but rather to hold tree pose. It’s the little things.
Now, I’m home, I’m tired, and I’m ready for a well-deserved weekend. Monday I have my last mini-observation and I’m determined not to spend the next 48 hours over-thinking it. Someone else made an anticipation list for the weekend, and I have to say, this might be my favorite idea of the week. Anticipation slows down time… It also puts value on moments, big or small.
So, here’s my weekend anticipation list:
Yin yoga, (candles, 95 degrees, slow movement, meditation, bliss), no alarm clock, my nephew’s fifth birthday party, SuperBowl Sunday featuring SF (first time I’ve ever slightly cared), family dinner, tradition, query letters, my fluffy dog and Fair Oaks bridge with one of my long-time besties, hot tea, snuggling on the sofa with my honey, quiet. Maybe even a little peace.
I feel more relaxed already.
It’s so easy to look forward to the big moments, it’s refreshing to stop and anticipate the small ones instead…
I envisioned this post as my monthly Bloggers for Peace entry, but I have to admit I’m not feeling very peaceful. January was an intense month. While I kept my cool through the intensity, I’m hoping February will bring a shift in energy.
If I followed astrology, I would be certain some planet was in retrograde or crossing or whatever happens when people act nuttier than usual. The full moon, maybe… Or maybe it’s just January. I’ve heard that more people die in January than any other month. Something about holding it together through the holidays, perhaps?
I get that it is a bit of a let down. Suddenly the festivities are over. The parties are done, everyone goes back to work and their regular lives just as the coldest cold sets in. Last year I was sad to let the holidays finish. This year I didn’t mind. I was ready for 2013. But then January caught me off guard.
Sure it had its good moments. It certainly went by quickly. I’m still in the middle of leaving a note for a different student each morning, my daily act of kindness. The notes have earned me hugs, puzzled looks, smiles. I survived my first clothing-optional hot springs visit, (I remained clothed if you missed the earlier posts). I did yoga nearly every day. That’s probably the best part, hours and hours of yoga. I even taught my students to hold themselves in tree. It’s our peaceful, yoga contest when we need a break.
I’m just glad January is over. All 31 days of it. May February bring a little more daylight and a little less intensity.
And, what the heck– I was going to over-think my first video blog, but instead I give you the real me. Unscripted, after a long day of work… Sorry for the lame sound synching and the lack of focus… I’m already talking myself out of it as I type. Must hit publish before I change my mind, part of my goal to be brave and really put myself out there as a writer this year. Here it goes.
This morning I awoke earlier than usual to my dog convulsing at the edge of my bed. Worried he might vomit, I shooed him straight out the door to the backyard. Then I realized he could hardly walk. He was shaking. He could not breathe. I scooped him in my arms and wrapped him in a blanket. I held him on the couch until his breath steadied and his body was still.
I was afraid he was going to die. I breathed and whispered sweet words to him. I reminded myself of my childhood dog and her seizures. I convinced myself it was those stupid flea pills. He let me hold him for an eternity, then shook it off, ate breakfast, and went back to sleep.
The last couple days I have been lost in my mind. Yesterday, I wrote almost the entire day. I finished part of an essay to prove to the state of California that I deserve a clear teaching credential, (as if my survival through a grueling residency program and my first year on my own were not enough). I poured two or more hours back into my pitch, sculpting word by word.
When I write, I often disappear from everything else. I get sucked so deep into my mind that the day disappears into darkness. Sometimes I forget to eat. Last night I forced myself to take a break to do yoga. Pandora playing in the background, I wrote down the name of this song. This morning, after Simon was tucked back into my spot in bed, I sat and listened. Then I cried. I get so lost in my mind. I’m grateful to be awake.
Must post something about 2013. You know, resolutions or something.
To be fair, I DO love resolutions. One of my life goals is to spend every New Year’s Day at the ocean, reflecting. I decided awhile back that it’s a much better way to spend the new year than hung over on the couch.
Not sure I’ll make the ocean part happen this year, we’ll see.
But, before I can look forward, I have to look back.
Struggle and happiness, chaos and peace. Immense gratitude. I learned, a lot. I wrote, a lot. So much stuffed into 12 months. Do I have it all figured out? Not hardly. But, I feel better balanced than ever before. Happy, even. In the spirit of Thankfulness Thursdays, I leave you with my 2012 Gratitude List (and pictures dug out of this year’s blog).
I feel so fortunate to have a teaching job as a new-ish teacher in our current economy. This year was hard, but I became a better teacher one day at a time, and each day I feel a step closer to making this my lifelong work, instead of something I lovingly survive for the time being. So much gratitude.
2012’s valentines to my students, proof my heart is in the right place!
And, can’t complain about my night job. It may not pay the bills (yet) but writing makes me happy.
I was definitely an ADHD reader this year. Still have ten or so titles half finished on my dresser… The book I was most grateful to finish, hands down, Dear Sugar.
Cheryl Strayed speaks to every human emotion in this book. So real, so touching. She writes with an unabashed openness I strive to emulate…
I’m thankful for the Lumineers’ soulful lyrics set to summer in the backyard with family, our car cruising down the coast, a sea of people at Golden Gate Park…
So much gratitude to live on such a beautiful planet and to have the means to see it even in a year that did not always feel easy.
San Francisco at sunrise
Oregon Coast sunset
Mom’s Mt. Shasta
More than anything else, I am grateful for the people in my life, friends, family, near and far… Oh yeah, and my dog too, he counts, right?
No greater gratitude than for the people in my life.
And, not to be forgotten, this was the year I discovered my own power in healing. So thankful.
Yoga, meditation… healing.
Even though I started blogging in 2011, my move to WordPress cemented my commitment to putting my words out there and becoming part of a greater community. I am truly grateful for all the connections I have made this year– words of wisdom from every corner of the globe, thank YOU!
So, your turn, what tops your 2012 Gratitude List?