Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ray has an ADVENTURE (and a Bath)

This morning Gregg and I decided to take Ray for a walk through the neighborhood behind ours. We didn't get very far before we met a woman walking a big, black greyhound by the name of Gage. I had met her yesterday morning for the first time when I was walking Ray and carrying a Pabst Blue Ribbon can. Ray, always interested in recycling, had picked it up off of the sidewalk and carried it for about 10 feet before dropping it. Not wanting to be seen as a litterer, I picked it up and carried it the rest of the way home to throw in the recycle bin. Being civic minded has it's downside. Now people think I start drinking before 9 in the morning.
Anyway, back to our walk. We saw the woman again when we were pretty far from where we had met her the first time and coming from a completely unexpected direction. There was no way she could have gotten where she was by using the sidewalks or the streets. 
She saw our surprise and said "If you walk down to the next street, take a left, go to the house at the end, and walk from the sidewalk to the woods, you'll see a path. Take the path and cross a footbridge. Then follow the path to the street (that abuts our cul-de-sac). If you take the path that goes to the right just before the footbridge, it will take you to a sandy area that we call 'the beach.' The dogs love it." 
So Gregg, Ray and I headed for the path, the footbridge, and the beach. The footbridge was narrow and made out of planks with no railings on either side. Ray and I had had a rather nerve-racking experience with a footbridge previously when he had mis-stepped and fallen about a foot into a ditch. This one was higher. I looked at it with misgiving but felt that my blind dog could do anything anyone else's dog could do, so I asked Gregg to cross and call to Ray. I stayed behind him with my hands on both sides of him to guide him across. We made it without incident and continued to the path to see where we were.
We were really close to home so I said "Let's go back and check out the beach." 
We headed back to the footbridge, Gregg had Ray on the leash so I headed across first and called to Ray. He took one step and started to step off of the side. Gregg quickly pulled Ray back before he could fall. I picked him up and carried him the rest of the way across the bridge. Maybe narrow footbridges are not a good idea for a blind dog after all. 
We headed down the path through the woods and eventually came to the "beach." It was a gravel sandbar with a little stream winding back and forth through it. It was only a few feet wide and a couple of feet deep at it's deepest point. I've lived here for 15 years and never knew it was there. I led Ray to the water and he waded in to get a drink. Then he went ballistic. He was bounding through the water, biting it, lapping it, loving it. All of his body parts seemed to be going in different directions at once. It was classic spastic cannonball but with a splash of something extra. He was having a BLAST. 
We spent about 10 or 15 minutes with Ray dragging me up and down the stream bed, across the shallows, and once into the water up past my knees. It was so much fun that I wished I had a camera and a longer leash. Although truthfully, it was probably safer for Ray to have a short one. He plowed into the steep stream bank (it was steep in a few areas and flat in others) a couple of times (it's hard to predict the direction of a spastic cannonball.) 
Instead of returning the way we came, Gregg, Ray, and I headed deeper into the woods to see if we would come out on the main drag that bisects our neighborhood. Gage's mom had said that one of the paths through the woods led there. We followed a steadily dwindling trail for awhile, Gregg leading, Ray and I following. I was trying to keep Ray from poking himself with branches and thorns while at the same time trying to avoid poison ivy. (I knew it was there somewhere, but I've never been good at identifying it.) 
"I can see the main drag," said Gregg "Let me go ahead and see how we can get there." 
He took off. Ray and I stayed put. The trail had pretty much evaporated at this point. I sniffed. Something stunk. I looked around for dead animals or stinky mud holes, then bent down to smell Ray. It was he. 
When Gregg got back he said "There's a way to the street but I don't think Ray will be able to make it, let's see what else we can find." 
We headed back the way we had come, crossed the stream and meandered alongside it for awhile. 
Gregg said, "There's the back of a house, let me see if we can get through their backyard." 
He forged ahead, Ray and I trailing.
"I think this will work," he yelled. 
Ray and I followed along and Gregg made a silent sign pointing through a backyard that was gated at the front. The gate was open. We all made a dash for it and came out on a street that's a few blocks from our house. We were all charged up. Ray was smiling. 
We walked along home. Gregg took Ray's leash. I was walking in front. 
"You look like you've been in a swamp," said Gregg, "You're all muddy and wet." 
It was hot out. I felt fine. 
When we got back to the house, I said, "Don't let Ray in the house, I need to give him a bath. He's stinky!" 
Gregg attached the hose to the faucet in the laundry room and held Ray's leash while I lathered him up with Oatmeal dog shampoo. It must have smelled delicious because Ray was trying to lick it off of his legs. Gregg held his head to keep him from eating the shampoo. We finished up and I dried him off a bit with a beach towel. It didn't seem to make much of a dent in Ray's dampness although we did have a fun game of "try to grab the towel." I thought maybe a hairdryer would work better. We took Ray into the backyard and plugged it into an outdoor socket. It turns out Ray has severe reservations about hairdryers. I got a handful of dog treats and tried to distract him while Gregg tried to dry him off. It's amazing how reservations can be overcome by food. He wasn't quite dry but he was a bit fluffier when we finished.
Gregg and I needed showers ourselves so we retired upstairs. I left Ray lounging on the futon in the upstairs non-room (the stair landing) and hit the shower while Gregg shaved. I heard "Bah! Bah! Bah!" SLAM. 
Gregg came in the bathroom and said "Ray was in your closet so I shut him out of the bedroom." 
I thought this was probably a good thing. Having a damp dog on the bed was probably not something we would really want and I knew that Ray would head for the bed (we caught him there last time we left him upstairs unattended). 
I was in the bathroom with a towel wrapped around me when I heard "Uh Oh." I walked out of the bedroom to see ribbon, yarn, string, and a pair of plastic knitting needles (size 35 - they're about the size of turkey basters) strewn about the hallway. It was an experimental knitting project that I had started the year before (or maybe two years before) and had stashed under the drafting table in my office. I don't want to jump to conclusions but either it was a very localized tornado or Ray had been looking for something to do. Oh yeah, and the tornado must have had something sharp in it because the knobby end had been removed from one of the needles and the pointy end had been punctured on the other. 
Weather forecast - localized tornadoes

As we were gazing at the mess in the hallway, there was a crash downstairs. Still in towels, we ran down to see the kitchen trashcan over on it's side and the doggybag from the previous night's dinner on the floor being furiously licked by our hound dog. I guess he must have taken the term "doggy" literally. 
We put Ray outside, cleaned up the mess, and went upstairs to change. 
Gregg took off for the grocery and I washed the kitchen floor. Worn out after his exciting morning, Ray had retired to the couch. 
I finished up in the kitchen and went out back to scrub up an elaborate, black iron room divider that I had bought at an estate sale in the early spring. I had split the divider into two, used two of the sections as trellises for my vines on the patio, and had two sections left. I thought maybe we could use the remaining divider as a dog gate at the foot of the stairs. The one that I installed isn't working out too well, it's difficult to open, and if Ray is going to be here indefinitely I have to come up with something better. But first I needed to clean it. I grabbed some garden gloves and an old rag. Ray, miraculously recovered from his exciting morning, followed me outside. 
Knowing instinctively that I really wanted to play, Ray immediately started biting at my gloves and the rag. I "Bah"ed and tried to convince him otherwise. It took a few minutes and a slap on the nose (hey, he bit me first!) but Ray was finally convinced. Undeterred in the fun department, Ray went and grabbed a watering can half full of water, dragged it into the middle of yard, gnawed the spout for minute then knocked it over and "watched" interestedly as the water sloshed out. Then he picked up a scrub brush (it was fair game, it was on the bottom rack of the grill) and laid down to gnaw on the handle. 
I continued cleaning the room divider, glancing at him occasionally to see what he was up to. He had something yellow. I went to investigate and found the spritzer that I use to correct him when he lunges at people. I removed it from his jaws (it'll never be the same), put him in the house hoping he would return to his resting place on the couch and went back to work. 
I was working about 30 seconds when I heard a loud ka-thump, thump. It sounded like it was coming from upstairs. I dropped my rag, opened the sliding glass door, and sprinted up the stairs. There was a toilet brush lying in the hallway. I picked it up and went to put it back. Trash was strewn all over the bathroom. I heard a noise from the hall and went out to see Ray rummaging interestedly through the stuff we stash in the bottom of the linen closet for pickup by a local charity. I dragged him out of the closet, closed the door (not that it seems to do anything - I think he's figured out how to open closets) and ran downstairs, trailed closely by my blind dog. 
I returned to my work on the room divider. I went to get a bucket of soapy water and grabbed the scrub brush that Ray had been chewing on earlier. I scrubbed up the bottom of the divider, dropped the brush in the bucket and went to get a hose to rinse off the soap. I picked up the hose and turned just in time to see Ray grab the scrub brush out of the bucket of soapy water (HOW DOES HE KNOW IT'S THERE?  HE'S BLIND!!!!!!!) and head for the kitchen door (which, in a moment of stupidity, I had left open) and my clean kitchen floor. I intercepted him just in the nick of time, closed the door, rinsed off the divider, and went in the house to lay down.  

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