Friday, February 22, 2013


I have always wished I was a little better at spontaniety.  You know ... the 'fly by the seat of your pants' kind of person who can make plans at the last minute (or cancel them) without it causing too much stress.   I'm just not that kind of person.  Never have been.  I like to plan ahead, look forward to major events like vacations and holidays and have all my ducks in a row.   When I take a trip, I have an itinerary, even if I'm going alone.   "Flexibility" to me, means building one rainy day into my schedule so that if we run into inclement weather, I don't completely unravel! 

It turns out that dogs like routine too.   Structure.  Consistency.   Doing the same thing in the same way, day after day.   Of course the seasons bring changes in our day-to-day schedule, but those changes are gradual, and so the transition is pretty seamless.   Dogs don't need a watch to keep track of time like we do, but their circadian rhythm adjusts to the schedule we set for them.  

Some veterinarians recommend once a day feeding, but my dogs have always done well with a small dish of food in the morning, and then a larger meal around 5:30; when I get home from work.   If I forget, Dee Dee  lies by her food bowl.   She doesn't bark or whine or make a fuss; she just lies there quietly until I get the hint.    When I come home from work at night, the girls are at the door to greet me.   That is, assuming I come home at the correct time - which is roughly between 5:20 and 5:50.  If I come home early, as I did this past Monday due to a blizzard, they are somewhat startled to hear the key in the door.

My dogs develop routines very quickly.    If I do something twice in a row, especially if it's something they like, it is now a 'routine' and must be repeated.     The hardest part of the day is when I leave for work in the morning.   They know it's coming.  But they still don't like it.   So we have a  couple of things we do to make mornings a bit more fun.   After they go outside and eat their breakfast, they hang out in the bathroom with me (or just outside the door) while I get ready for work.   I'm usually eating my bowl of cereal at that time, and they get the last bit of milk in the bottom of my bowl.   Don't ask me how that started.  I just know that it is an unchangeable rule at this time.  As soon as they see me tipping the bowl to spoon up my milk, they run to their bowls and wait for me to divide the last little bit between them.  Our other morning ritual is just before I leave, I send them outside to go potty one last time.   While they're outside, I take a couple of beggin' strips and break them into about 14-16 pieces.  I hide these tiny pieces all over the house .... in corners, under chairs, on the shelves of a bookcase, in a kennel, and on the furniture.   When I let them back inside, they go on a tear all over the house to find their treats while I am quietly slipping out the door.   It helps take the sting out of the saddest moment of the day.  

The favorite treat at my house is a Greenie.   The thing I don't understand is how did they figure out that the best treat is also the most expensive?   I guess they have refined taste.   At any rate, Greenies are reserved for Saturday mornings; right after their weekly grooming (which includes the dreaded nail trim).  That's the only time they get them. 

And then, of course, we have a bedtime routine.   I did not set this.   The girls did.   And it's changed over the years.   For years, both of them slept with me.   Then, for a long time, they took turns sleeping with me.   Then, for quite a long time after that, Princess slept with me.   But now neither one of them sleep with me.  Princess developed a 'zero tolerance' policy for me moving in bed.   For a while, she'd start out with me, but as soon as I'd turn slightly, or fluff my pillow, she'd jump down.   Now, she doesn't even give me a chance.   So we have a pretty funny (if you ask me) bedtime routine.   There are two dog beds;  one in the living room and one behind the recliner in the bedroom.   About 8 p.m.  Dee Dee crawls into the bed in the living room and goes to sleep.   Around that same time, Princess stands by the bed, and whines for me to put her on it.  (She used to be able to jump on her own, but not anymore.)   That's where they stay until I get ready to go to bed; about 11:00.   As soon as I pull the covers down, Princess jumps off the bed and goes to the dog bed behind the recliner.   At this point, Dee Dee is still on the other dog bed in the living room.   But as soon as she hears me flip off the light switch, she comes trotting into the bedroom and makes herself a nest from my dirty clothes and the throw pillows that are on the floor.    It's the funniest thing.  She has always loved to sleep on anything that smells like me ...  my coat, towel, clothes, ... you get the picture.   Pretty endearing, if you ask me.