Monday, August 24, 2009

Pleasing Princess Pudge

Fist Bumps to Mother Nature!  She was much more kind this week! She even dealt me cool, cloudy Saturday and Sunday mornings making for fairly easy 14-mile and 10-mile weekend training walks.  Thanks to the cool weather this weekend, I was even able to challenge Riley to a 5-mile journey; a bit further than our typical 3-4 miles together.

I often claim that everything in my house is low fat except for me and the dog. It’s true! My mom has always called Riley, "Princess Pudge"-and with good reason!  When we visited the vet for Riley’s 1-year old check up (March 2008), the vet warned that at 62 lbs she was starting to “lose her girlish figure.”  Well, aren’t we all?  Since then we have tried two different prescription brands of low calorie food.  She is now 2 ½ and she continues to put on a pound or two every time we go for a check up.  Last visit it was 75 lbs and we left with a stern warning to switch from treats to carrot sticks and frozen green beans and to increase the amount of exercise she was getting.  (Riley is chowing down on a rawhide as I write this having turned down the offered frozen green beans earlier tonight.) But, we DID beef up her exercise regimen.  She now joins me for the first few miles of every walk I take. 

In addition to helping Riley with our renewed “eat less move more” promise, it is great company for me.  Some of my walks take up to 4 hours and having her with me for the first bit helps break up the otherwise very long morning.  This week she logged 13 of my 33 miles.  Not bad for Princess Pudge!  I decided during our 13 miles together that I love Riley more than she loves me.  Now, I know that Riley loves me.  When it comes to humans, she realizes that she is lucky she landed with me.  I remind her of this all the time by telling her things like “Do you know that SOME dogs have to sleep outside?”  and “Do you know that SOME dogs don’t have a soft fluffy bed?  Their own piece of living room furniture?  A basket overflowing with toys?”  But I definitely love her more than she loves me.

It’s tough being an only pup.  So, I invite Riley’s friends to come visit, frequently.  Joplin has been here since late July and will be till Labor Day.   That is love!!  Riley shows her appreciation by choosing the hours between 3am and 5am to play chase with Joplin-using my bed as home base.  I love her more than she loves me.

I believe that when you bring a dog along on a walk, you have to allow them to do all the doggie things that they love.  I practice patience with Riley while she sniffs every tree, shrub, and bush along our path.  She shows me her enthusiasm for our walk by running at full speed every time we see a squirrel-thus jerking my arm nearly out of its socket and causing me, on numerous occasions, to fall flat on my butt.  I love her more than she loves me. 

When hosting a friend, it’s important to make them feel included.  It’s only the polite thing to do as a host.  So, when we go for our walks, I bring along Joplin, or Addie, or Carrie, or Bell (anyone but Cookie who’s 2 inch long legs just wouldn’t be able to make it).  I can tell that Riley appreciates the effort that goes into walking 2 dogs by the way she paces left then right, left then right, creating a tangled mess that I must then unravel by spinning in circles, one arm in front of me, one bent behind me and trapped awkwardly by a thin cord that cuts into my skin as she continues to pull forward.  I love her more than she loves me.

A pup used to the finer things in life must have a fresh yard where she can play and “go.”  I perform an every other day sweep of the backyard to ensure that Riley never has to dodge any “piles” as she chases the brave birds and critters that play in our pine trees.  She really is grateful for such a clean backyard.  She sure shows it!  She waits until we are about 3 miles into our walk to make her deposit.  And, somehow, she always knows exactly which yard to choose.  She NEVER chooses the house where the lights are out and the garage door is closed.  Oh no!  She is very good at identifying the house where the owners are outside doing yard work or on the porch sweeping or, like this Saturday, where a real estate agent was showing a potential buyer around the yard-to make her deposit!  As I scurry to discretely scoop and bag her pile before the owners notice the horse-size droppings, I swear I can see her grin in my direction, knowing that I will have to carry the now full bag for at least 2 miles before we reach home and a proper trash can.   I love her more than she loves me.

Every princess needs toys and Riley's collection rivals FAO Schwarz! I regularly surprise Riley with a new plush item.  She just loves them!  Doesn't everyone show their love for their toys by ripping into the fabric and completely gutting the cotton innards, thus causing a blizzard of white fluff all over the living room?  It takes forever to pick up the millions of tiny cotton threads that are strewn around the house after she shows mercy to her plush victim.  I'm happy to follow her around with the dust buster-because I love her, more than she loves me.  

After an early morning of playing tag with friends, followed by a challenging evening of walking and squirrel chasing, a girl needs her beauty rest.  I make sure Riley is comfy by providing her an oversized, cotton filled puppy bed-freshly laundered once a week-at the foot of my bed.  She really appreciates it!  I can tell by the way she snores so loudly she sometimes startles herself.  Nothing like the serenade of a 75 lb dog to lull you to sleep.  I love her more than she loves me. 

Despite all of her wild ways, I do appreciate that every day, even on the days when I don’t have much motivation to strap on my walking gear, Riley shows genuine enthusiasm and determination to get me out there and walking.  She knows the routine and if I even try to sit down on the couch when I should be taking to the sidewalk, she does sprints around the kitchen stopping at the area where her leash is kept and barking incessantly until I oblige.  She loves me-no question about that.

This week I completed 33 miles and 66,963 steps.  Riley was a wonderful companion for 13 of those.  Okay, she was a companion-“wonderful” might be an overstatement.  This brings the total miles walked so far to 265 and 530,532 steps.  Another 35 miles and it will be time for a new pair of kicks! 

Happy Stepping! 

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