Ray was passed out on the couch, exhausted. It had been a busy couple of days for the blind hound.My sister Kathy had flown in from Colorado on Tuesday. We had driven to South Carolina on Wednesday (to visit Mom and Dad) and now it was Thursday.
Ray had woke me up at the crack of dawn for a walk down the block. My favorite sister-in-law, Yuko, had come by at 8:00 and taken Ray for a 3 mile run....
Well, I got that far writing about our trip, when I was overtaken by events. It is now almost two weeks later and in that time I have come to realize something: Ray has a much more active social life than I do.
While Ray was in S.C.
- Yuko came every morning (but one) and took him for a 3 mile run.
- My 6 year old niece, Hannah, came everyday and took him for a trot down the block.
- His foster mother, Amber, came to visit him.
- He had two play dates with Zoe, a golden retriever that he met on previous trips.
- He 'visited' through the fence with his exotic girlfriend.
- Hannah came over for a sleepover with him.
While Kathy and I were in S.C.
- We went to Walmart
If life were a popularity contest, Ray would win, hands down.
Ray Runs with Yuko
"He's a good runner," said Yuko after their first morning run. I think it was because the weather was nice and cool and Ray was refreshed after sleeping for about 8 hours on the drive down and another 8 hours overnight. After the third day, "I think he must be tired," Yuko said, "He stopped to sniff a lot."
Ray Runs with Hannah
I have to admit, I felt a bit of trepidation every time I handed Hannah the leash. Ray is a strong dog and Hannah weighs about 20 pounds less than he does. Every time I handed him over I said, "If he starts to pull, let go of the leash. OK?" Hannah would nod and take off at a dead run. I don't know if it's because Yuko ran him in the morning and he was tired or because he knew he was with a six year old, but whenever Hannah took off running down the block with Ray, he would just trot by her side. It was just so cute.
Amber comes to Visit Ray
It was touching to see how excited Ray was to 'see' Amber. His greeting lasted about five minutes and consisted of jumping, tail wagging, licking, and every excited thing a dog does when his person comes home. His grand finale was a flop so that Amber could rub his belly. I would have been jealous if it wasn't so nice to see that Ray remembered his first 'mom' after all this time. I noticed that every time Amber laughed, Ray's head would lift and turn in her direction and his tail would wag. Amber must have laughed a lot when she had him and he must have a lot of good memories about his time with her.
Ray and Amber
Ray's Playdate with Zoe
The first day that Yuko took Ray for a run, she stopped by her friend Haike's house to set up a playdate. On previous trips to S.C., Ray had played with Haike's Golden Retriever, Zoe, in Yuko and John's backyard (to the detriment of Yuko's vegetable garden). This time, Haike had us meet her and Zoe in a grassy, fenced-in area that belonged to the local college (which was not in session).
For the first 10 or 15 minutes, Ray totally ignored Zoe, he just walked around with a strange, stiff-legged gait, sniffing things. "He's just trying to memorize the layout," I explained lamely, embarrassed that my dog didn't seem to remember his old friend Zoe.
Ray's disinterest in Zoe was explained when he finally stopped to poop. You can't play when you gotta poop. Hannah asked me for a bag and went to pick up after Ray (while her mother and I looked on proudly - I don't know any other six year old on the planet that wants to help by picking up dog poo). Ray and Zoe took off running and wrestling. They played for a good long time then did it all again (without the poop delay) later in the week.
Ray and Zoe
Ray's Exotic Girlfriend
Ray's exotic girlfriend was either playing hard-to-get or she had some abandonment issues from when Ray left her after the last time we were in S.C. She charged the fence ferociously every time we got near. Ray tried singing her his sweet, sweet song, but she would have none of it. He then tried leaving a p-mail for her on a bush just out of nose-reach to soften her up. It must have contained an apology because by the time we left, she wasn't charging us at the fence anymore. She wasn't exactly friendly but I didn't get the feeling that we would be eaten for breakfast.
Hannah and Ray's Sleepover
The sleepover with Hannah was hilarious. Hannah had gotten it into her head that she wanted to come over and sleep with Ray. Yuko and John were agreeable, so on Friday after school, Hannah arrived with her two suitcases; one full of her clothes and one full of books.
"Try to get her to go to bed by 9:00," Yuko said, "but if she doesn't go, then try to get her to bed by 10. But if she doesn't go, try to get her to go to bed by 11:00. But if she doesn't go, don't worry about it."
I should mention that Hannah is a Night Owl.
At 10:15, I said to Hannah, "I have to take Ray out to pee."
"I'll go too," said Hannah. I slipped Ray's collar over his ears, gave Hannah a flashlight the led them both outside. Ray immediately tried to drag me to the spot where he had buried his bone earlier in the day when he and Hannah had been playing. Hannah had taken Murphy's role by playing keepaway with Ray's bone and now he didn't trust her anywhere outside where his bone was unprotected.
I tried to re-direct Ray away from the bone-hole. Ray sniffed around a bit, then tried to drag me back to the hole. Hannah was following closely with her flashlight, it was pretty dark out. I gently re-directed Ray away again.
"Ray you have to go pee," said Hannah. It was pretty obvious that Ray was going to do no such thing while Hannah was on the loose.
"Hannah, why don't you go stand on the porch. I'll be right there," I said to my helpful niece.
Hannah retreated to the porch. Ray sniffed about looking for the right spot. "DID HE PEE YET?" yelled Hannah.
Ray started to head back to his bone-hole. I dragged him away.
"Not yet," I whispered loudly. Another minute of following the hound around.
"DID HE PEE YET?" yelled Hannah again.
Again Ray headed back in the direction of his bone-hole. I dragged him away.
"Not yet. Hannah, don't say anything OK?" I asked.
Hannah was quiet for a minute.
"DID HE PEE YET?"
Ray was frantically trying to drag me towards his bone. He just knew that Hannah was going to steal it.
"Uh, Hannah, why don't you wait inside for Ray. He'll be right there."
"OK," said Hannah as she slipped into the house.
Now that the bone thief was gone, Ray quickly settled on a place to pee. We headed inside. Everyone was already in bed. Everyone but Hannah, that is.
We retired to the bedroom. Ray collapsed onto his bed with a sigh. Hannah picked out some books for me to read her and we settled on the bed she was supposed to be sleeping in. I read her a couple of books.
"I don't know what it is but I'm not tired at all!" said Hannah in a bright voice that sounded alarmingly alert and wide awake.
I turned off the light and retreated to my bed. I was really tired. Hannah got off of her bed and went to lay on a pad that she had brought with her and positioned next to Ray's bed. She started to softly sing to Ray. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine." I lay in the dark grinning like mad, trying hard not to laugh. When she finished the first verse of that she segued, without pause, into "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine." Ray groaned. I was now trying so hard not to laugh that it hurt.
Hannah finished her two songs and got up again to lay on her bed.
"Can we open the windows?" she asked, "I want to smell nature. I like the smell of nature."
I got up and opened the windows. Ray's girlfriend next door started to bark which set off her companion dog, a Jack Russell Terrier with a rather lovely singing voice.
"I'm never going to be able to sleep with those dogs like that," said Hannah. I closed the windows and went back to bed. Hannah went back to lay next to Ray. He gave a deep sigh.
After more up and downing and deep discussions ("Do you have a masters degree?" "Do you know onomatopoeia?"), I finally fell asleep (I know it was after 11:30). When I woke next, it was pitch black and quite, quite quiet. Hannah was asleep on the floor next to Ray.
At 5:30 dad's sprinkler system deployed. I know this because Ray sat up with a quick, high-pitched howl. I gave a stern "Quiet!" before Ray was able to really get started. Ray wandered over to me, he wanted to go out.
I looked around and saw Hannah asleep, crosswise, on her bed, her feet dangling over the side. Ray left me and snuffled along the edge of her bed until he discovered Hannah's feet. His tail madly wagging, Ray licked furiously at the bottom of her feet then started up her legs. Hannah didn't stir. I stifled a giggle, grabbed his collar and led him out of the room to take him outside. With no distractions around, Ray quickly peed. We retreated back to the bedroom and back to our respective beds. Hannah was still sleeping in her uncomfortable-looking position.
Both of us fell back asleep for a couple more hours. It had been a short night and we were still tired. The only one that it didn't seem to affect the next day, was Hannah.
Ray with his friend, Zoe and his cousin, Hannah