Home > Life, Pets, Weather > Now THAT’s The Life!

Now THAT’s The Life!

I was writing something the other day comparing our economy to the animal world, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really want to think about all that anymore. It brings me down too much, even though the big crisis isn’t really affecting me directly. As my friend Judy used to say, “It is what it is”. I can’t change anything by worrying about it, so here’s what I’m doing instead…

The weather in Florida is finally changing. Yes, we do have seasons here, and it is gradually turning into fall. The humidity is gone and I am reminded of the six gorgeous months we enjoy. All of the autumn flowers are in bloom, including the wild bouganvillea right outside the door. We planted it in front of a palm tree, thinking it would look pretty around the base of it, and then one day it just went crazy! It almost froze to death last year on our one sub-zero night, so I cut it back to the ground and it came back TWICE AS CRAZY! I chop at it as often as I can, but now it is growing clear up into the tree, hanging great flowering branches out of the palm. In honor of Halloween, I’m calling it “The Bougie Man”…

With this beautiful weather comes the time to start taking Wacky Jacky the Weisenheimer Weimaraner on his bike/runs around the block. Once I got up the courage to try this with him, I discovered that it was the best way to get him some real exercise. As nutty as he can be when he walks on a leash, he does not divert from his mission (at least HE thinks it’s his mission) of guiding me around the block safely on my bike while he gallantly runs alongside. I think he thinks he’s a superhero. I can barely keep up with him, but once we really get going, it’s the next best thing to horseback riding. I am thrilled that in this neighborhood where dogs are not technically allowed to wander freely (except for The Mayor — we’ll get to that later), he has a chance to get out and stretch his legs fully.

On our way around the block, we spotted Lily, the little boxer mix who was a rescue from Hurricane Charley in ’04, sunning herself on the sidewalk. Jack navigated me safely around her and we headed back home. On the way there, we spotted “The Mayor”, a.k.a., my black lab, Murphy, making the rounds. I made a mental note to go back for her when Jack and I got home.

I try not to be overly protective about dogs because I know that, for the most part, they will work out their issues without killing each other. However, one day I was walking Murph and stopped at Lily’s house to see if she would want to go for a walk with us. At the time she was chained to the basketball net in the driveway, and though I had had an incident with her before when she was tied up, I didn’t think about that at the time and when Murph and I approached, Lily lunged. Murphy is not an aggressive dog by any means but she will protect me if she thinks I’m being threatened. She fought back and grabbed Lily by the ear. We managed to get them apart but Lily’s ear was bleeding and it took a trip to the vet to get it to stop.

At a doggie wedding some months later, Lily got the chance to reciprocate, biting a chunk out of Murphy’s ear. They’re even now, but I’m still a little reluctant to get them too near each other. Lily has proven to be a terrific little dog as long as she is not tied up. The owners don’t know her history before the storm but we have theorized that she might have been left tied out during the hurricane and she is therefore very anxious whenever she is tied out. So the owner just lets her sit in the yard.

I headed back out to find Murph and ended up at Lily’s house again. There Lily lay, content as a little pig, half on the sidewalk, half on the grass. I pulled over and dropped my bike at the edge of the driveway and sat down on the sidewalk to rub Lily’s belly. She has a look about her that is always a little apprehensive, but if you stop petting her, she pushes her nose against your hand which is her way of giving absolute permission for you to touch her.

We were in mid-massage when neighbor Mike pulled over in his big truck. Big, burly Mike, who cried for weeks when he had to put down his yellow lab, Chopper, a few years ago.

“Everything okay?” I looked around and realized that it looked an awful lot like there’d been some sort of wreck involving me, the dog, and the bike.

“Oh yeah, we’re just visiting…”

He said, “Did you know the Mayor is up the street?”

I replied, “That’s actually what I was doing before I stopped here — looking for Murph…”

He just smiled and said, “She’s just sauntering along, sniffing and wandering….Now THAT’s the shit!”

“And that’s why I let her do it — so that people like you can see her out there and smile to yourselves and think, “Now THAT’s the shit”….”

Lily’s owner came out to join us. Lily’s eyes were rolled back in her head as I rubbed my fingers up and down her forehead. Alongside Mike’s truck pulled up another neighbor who joined us. “Did you know Murphy’s out?” We all just chuckled. This whole party started out because I was looking for Murph.

I have many days lately where I feel a little guilty about how I spend my time. Most of my income is from pet-sitting. I drive around to people’s houses and let their pups out to pee while their owners are at work or away on vacation. I didn’t mean to still be doing this 5 years later after I’d started doing it to make extra money while I was in school, but it has taken on a life of its own.

I made a fairly conscious decision when I moved down here not to go back into corporate America and have found a number of ways to support myself without having to sit behind a desk. Some of my guilt is about the poor schlubs who still have to make their livings that way and now are at the mercy our economy. But they still seem to need someone to let their dogs out. I feel I am doing them a great service so that they are able to spend the time they need to in order to keep up their lifestyles, or in some cases, simply survive.

This lifestyle I have created for myself gives my soul lots of room to stretch out in the warm sunshine. I get to stop in the middle of the sidewalk in the middle of the day to rub anxious pups on their foreheads until they fall asleep. I get to breathe the wonderfully cool breezes off the lakes in people’s backyards and get my exercise without having to think too much about it. I don’t have to worry about my wallet bursting at the seams, but everyone who expects money from me each month always gets it, no exceptions.

Toward the end of my siesta with Lily and before I got up to continue searching for Murph, another truck came along, driven by a guy with replacement mailbox posts in the back of his pickup. He stopped in front of us, turned to lay his head on his crossed arms in the window, sighed, and said, “Now THAT’s the life….”

Damn… it IS, isn’t it??

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Categories: Life, Pets, Weather
  1. CherylZ
    October 22, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Oh, many days I do envy you! Corporate America sucks and is boring and not very fulfilling. Not to mention, there’s no guarantee that the wallet will bulge….that’s for sure. My dogs trapped me in my bed this morning and I laughed so hard because they just wouldn’t move and I was stuck under the blankets. They love to be near us. I would like to be a dog, I think. I know Dad used to call me one, so maybe I really am!

  2. October 22, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    There are certainly worse things to be than a dog!

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