I knew I had not yet shaken the sloth of winter when I realized that the most aerobic exercise I’m getting these days is trying to put on my pantyhose in the morning.
When the days are short, cold and gray and when the nights are colder, my inner toad wants to burrow lower into the soil and sleep longer.
Suddenly, spring jumps in and a switch is flipped. I wake up and I want to do something. No, that’s not accurate. I want to do everything.
I want to plant something. And then plant something else.
I want to paint something orange.
I want to clean the closets until only about a dozen items are hanging unwrinkled and spaced widely apart.
I want to drink an icy cold beer.
I want to dump out those drawers that are stuffed with unidentified parts and pieces, candle stubs, inoperable pens, old lipsticks and mascara, and a single chopstick. Those drawers make me a candidate for "Hoarders." I want to outfit the clean drawers with neat dividers.
I want to drink another icy cold beer.
I want to buy a small tractor.
I want to repaint the front porch and paint a hopscotch course on it.
I want to give most of my clothes and almost all of my stuff to Goodwill.
I want to repaint the little cement backdoor step and paint a tic-tac-toe puzzle on it.
Then I remember warm weather means that my new dog, Bucky, will spend more time outside in the yard. Or more accurately, outside and over the picket fence. Barking loudly at strange and frightening people and things. Oh, the efforts Bucky and I have made to modify this behavior.
We took dog-training classes. Not very successful. For Bucky or me.
We called in a dog whisperer. She observed and counseled us, separately and together. This was semi-successful. For me, not Bucky. She swore to God she would come back. She didn’t.
Bucky and I moved on.
We installed an invisible fence that came with more dog training and counseling. Very successful, until Bucky persuaded the cat to spray the transmitter unit and shorted it out.
I read that effective dog training can be personalized and improved by understanding the dog’s breed. Little problem here. Bucky is a rescue dog, middle sized, black with a white patch on his chest. From his markings, he was assumed, but not proven, to be a Border collie mix. Uh, oh. This breed needs lots of exercise, can run like the wind and jump like a gazelle.
So, to accurately ascertain Bucky’s breed, I sent off for a dog DNA kit. The results told me Bucky is a cross of Australian shepherd, German shepherd and mastiff.
The key characteristics of these dogs are: intelligence (Bucky and I could have told you that); active, energetic and watchful; herding tendencies (the cats and me); eager to learn and responds well to rewards; enjoys dog sports such as agility and competitive obedience; and protective around strangers.
Some less positive characteristics were listed, but Bucky and I chose to ignore those.
Hungry for yet more information, we consulted the celebrated local pet psychic, Pam Case. This was more for me than for Bucky. I have known about her work for some time and was anxious to meet her.
She met the two of us, closed her eyes for a moment to tune into Bucky, and then told me what the dog was thinking. He told her:
He is the most amazing dog I have ever had.
He is very smart and talented and has remarkable poise, much like Sir Laurence Olivier.
He finds our daily routines comforting.
He would like to have more specialized training, such as search-and-find classes because he has such a great nose.
His favorite food is chicken.
All of this helped pass the winter when we were indoors a lot. Not all of the time, because while I go to work, Bucky goes to a doggie day care to burn off some of his energy.
Now it really is spring, not just those disappointing false starts. I have eliminated some of the items on my ambitious to-do list. In fact, I have eliminated most of them.
As for Bucky, once the invisible fence was repaired, he no longer jumped the fence. We cannot report equal success with loud barking at scary people and objects. One morning at 3 a.m., he discovered the killer ceiling fan. Thanks to his loud vigilance, we are both alive to tell the tale.
We’re also looking into additional training, for him, not for me — scent classes, agility competition, search-and-find training.
Despite what he told the pet psychic about loving chicken, he now refuses to eat it.
Everything changes with spring. A lot of it for the good.