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Monday, November 23, 2015

I kicked my dogs out of their comfort zone.

Over the weekend, I rearranged the furniture in my living room. Several times. Into several different configurations. I usually do this every November, to make room for seasonal stuff, like my Christmas tree (decided to ditch the artificial over the summer and go with a real live tree this year. Stay tuned for the upcoming blog post about that inevitable disaster), my holiday village (does anyone ever have the "perfect" place to display one of those things?), and all the decorations I've accumulated over the years (and continue to accumulate, even now, despite the fact that, every Christmas, my house looks more and more like a freezer in need of defrosting, it's so packed with red things and green things and silver things and gold things and scented things and melodic things. And lights. Lots and lots of lights. ). 

In general, I love this time of year, and bright, shiny, musical decorations make me happy. Or at least give me the panicked jump start I need to get my shopping and wrapping and baking done, preferably in time to enjoy other things as Christmas gets closer. So this past Saturday morning, I started hauling my large leather sofa and love seat, several stands and tables, and my no-longer-play-it-but-had-it-since-childhood-and-refuse-to-part-with-it piano from wall to wall, trying to maximize the television viewing potential from every piece of furniture, and trying to put my piano somewhere it wouldn't be in the way but would remain in the actual living room. I still don't know that I'm in love with the final setup, but for now, I'm keeping things as-is, at least til after Christmas. Because even though my piano is relatively small, as far as pianos go, it's still a piano. It ain't light. And since both the couch and loveseat have recliners on both ends, they're not light either. Suffice it to say I had a lot of explaining to do to my chiropractor this morning. Well, actually, I didn't. All he said was: "Wow! What have you done to yourself since Friday?" To which I responded: "Um ... moved stuff. And a piano." And that was pretty much the extent of our conversation. Unless his non-verbal "Why the hell would you do that?!" expression could be interpreted as some kind of critical, scolding counter-response. I vote no on that, and, in fact, chose to interpret his follow-up expression as one of awe-struck admiration for my strength and perseverance. So let's move on.

I s'pose all this intro stuff is a sympathy-seeking ploy to get you to feel worse for me than you do (or will, in short order) for my traumatized canines. Because, you see, as is common with so many dogs, my boys dislike change, each for his own specific reasons.

Beckett simply can't handle anything out of the ordinary without winding himself into a frenzied "Danger, Will Robinson" moment. In fact, if Beckett could actually speak, he'd likely say just that, before insisting "Take cover because we're all going to die!" I don't even come home with different, exciting dog treats anymore, because I'm convinced that it's not the ingredients that give him diarrhea (since his special sensitive-stomach, grain-free diet guarantees him the same ingredients in all foods and treats, and it is only the shape or size or color of his ingestibles that actually change), but the fact that something new has landed in his very ordered world and disrupted the status quo. Truth be told, I deserve to suffer the consequences of his ICan'tCopeWithThis condition, since I adopted him before he was two months old and basically molded him in my own image. So I generally just cater to his sensitivities and honor his needs and eccentricities because, as I often say, he is my canine equivalent and I am pretty much who he would be if he were a 42 year old woman. Minus the tail.

Gatsby, on the other hand, simply travels through life on a nonstop power trip.  He is basically fourteen pug-eyed pounds of You'reNotTheBossOfMe. If he could actually speak, his reaction to the latest changes in our living room would be pretty much like his reaction to all other changes he doesn't demand, orchestrate, or approve, and it would go a little something like this: "What? The? Hell?"

Because Gatsby does not tolerate being one-upped. There's something so uber-irritating to him about having to charter a new path from kitchen to patio, or carve out a new spot from which to spy on the neighbor while taunting her sweet golden retriever through our dining room window. And as for my executive decision to drag his bigger-and-cushier-than-my-own bed from the sliding glass door area to the perfect spot of living room floor by the end table? Most. Egregious. Move. By. A. Human. Ever.

So, between Beckett's "Why are you ruining our lives forever with all this unnecessary moving and shifting and adjusting?" lament to Gatsby's "Who died and left you in charge?" inquisition, I am left with two very upset, very disoriented canines who can't seem to find a comfortable place to rest or chew their bones or watch the outside world pass by. And yet, resourceful little buggers that they are, they're weathering this, too.

"Please don't make me go back out there."
"I'm hungry. Again."
Beckett has, once again, taken to his favorite "I can't handle life anymore" spot in the downstairs bathroom (and I promise, this is today's picture and not a recycle job from several days ago, when he sought refuge in the same place after Gatsby turned my grey sock into a four-course dinner). Gatsby, on the other hand, has simply taken to sitting by the closet where the dog treats live, so that every time I pass by (which I have to do whenever I go into the bathroom to make sure Beckett hasn't decided to drown  himself in the toilet), Gatsby whines and paws at the closet door as if to say: "Food is love.  And you owe me that much."

I go back and forth, from thinking that I am doing something good and important here, by forcing both dogs out of their comfort zones, to wondering if I'm just on a little power trip of my own, as I attempt to take charge of the home I bought and paid for and maintain while these little free-loaders (adorable and essential to my life though they may be) constantly work together to stage a coup the likes of which no military has ever seen. But I keep pushing through it all, doing my best to assure Beckett that change is good and necessary and inevitable while simultaneously resisting the urge to give Gatsby apology cookies every time I turn around.

Last night, I did grant them both some quiet, limited time on the couch (which they are trained to stay off unless I put down a blanket and invite them up with me), and this morning, they both got a few extra "I don't know how else to say I'm sorry so here's a cookie" cookies. (Beckett let Gatsby take his cookie, both because Beckett is the gentlest, sweetest dog ever, and because he's got nervous stomach issues again, and probably couldn't think about food while our whole world was crumbling around us.  Or at least morphing into a rearranged living room with the potential to destroy everything in its path.)

For now, we all agree that the living room situation could be better, but that we'll get used to it.  Or we won't.  Good thing there is, it's just furniture - it moved once, and it can (and most certainly will) move again.  And we'll all live to tell about it (in another blog post, no doubt).

With that, the three of us wish you and your loved ones a happy week of Thanksgiving and gratitude, from our terrifying, completely out-of-control, insanely chaotic home to yours.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Love means frequently having to say you're sorry ...

The goal:  Determine whether last year's Christmas sweaters still fit.

The outcome: Fashion show for my own amusement.  Followed by a generous donation of teeny tiny Christmas dog sweaters to the doggie daycare collection bin and two humiliated canines with body image issues.

Dear guys,

Sorry. Again.