Let Bosco Be Bosco

20140621-211943-76783352.jpg

Sorry we’ve been gone so long. All this walking takes up a lot of time and energy!

And then there’s the post-walk recovery napping. And I’m not going to give you the percentage breakdown of how much time we spend on each.

So… When we last saw our hero, Bosco was being dragged around his neighborhood by an evil person, intent on destroying his cuddly layer of fat. Bosco has stoically submitted to the evil master plan, going as far as losing 5 pounds, just to give the illusion of compliance.

According to my Fitbit stats, I’ve walked 330 miles in a little more than 2 months. I think Bosco’s done at least half of that. I doubt this dog walked that much in his whole life leading up to it. Combined.

And he HATES it. He hates the noises, he hates the distance, and he hates getting hot and panty. And this got me thinking….

What if …. Bosco were to get a sister? Someone who could help him understand that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Who could show him how to let loose and have fun. Someone who could take some of the walking duties off of his plate.

I remembered stories from his shelter days, of dogs that he enjoyed being with, and I’d heard how he flirted with the girls when he was at his hotel. So I pondered it for a while.

And one day, a sweet face showed up in my Facebook feed, and a few days later I saw it again on Twitter. She was a big, good-looking girl who looked just like Bosco, except she was white, with a big brown spot on her head. She looked so sweet, and I thought maybe Bosco would like to be with somebody just like him. Of course she was at BARC in Brooklyn.

So I arranged a visit with Vinnie and Jay, and Robyn and Bosco and I headed off on a big road trip. Robyn and I gabbed the whole time, and Bosco farted up the car.

When we got there, Vinny and Jay were waiting with the dog on the sidewalk. How did that go? Well…….. The first thing she did was mount Bosco. We can safely say that set the tone. I really think she’s an unpolished gem, but Bosco haaaaaaaaaaaaaated her. He went so far as to growl. We all talked for a while, and my three friends were of the same opinion – this was not the dog for Bosco.

Vinny spelled it out for me – Bosco just wanted to be with me. And he didn’t want to share. Robyn and I talked it through over Asian food, while Bosco flirted with strangers. She helped me understand that if that particular dog was added to our household, it would completely destroy every step Bosco has made in building his confidence.

And I’d told Bosco he had the deciding vote. And that vote was no.

So no it was. I’ll be honest and admit that I was more than a little sad about it. I wasn’t ready to rule out future roommates though, so I thought the next step would be a little more socialization with other dogs to see if he was opposed to all dogs, or just that one.

Last week Bosco and I went to visit a friend and her dog. I wanted to learn how Bosco would be with a more passive dog, who he’s met before.

Bosco taught me something totally different.

He interacted with the other dog the same way teenagers with cellphones interact. They were both there, both fine with each other, but beyond that, could care less. But…..

My friend has had some horrible changes in her life, and her world is upside down. Bosco was drawn to her. And during this visit, which was full of emotional conversations, he was at her feet, or sitting two inches away. He requested a tummy rub, and fell asleep while she rubbed him.

You might already have picked up on this, but – Bosco doesn’t go out of his way to interact with other people. This is way out of character.

I felt like he was saying to her “I know exactly how you feel. It’s really scary. Let’s just be together and everything will be okay.”

So Bosco may not want another dog in his life. So what. He knows what’s important.

Baby Steps

Bosco is broken.

Or so he claims.

Bosco: It’s an absolute fact just look at me I can’t even lift my head I’m ruined.

photo 5Long story short – my company developed a wellness program that’s pretty cool. Check it out at mindful.sodexo.com.   A couple of weeks ago, I joined an activity group that the office set up.   I’ll be honest – the free Fitbit was quite the incentive. All I have to do is try to walk 10,000 steps every day.

That doesn’t seem like much at all – unless you have a desk job. And all day long, while I’m not walking, there’s this big guy sleeping on my sofa. And he’s grown a bit too soft and cuddly.

photo 1Bosco: In dog culture you’re supposed to have extra padding because it means you have a good house and good food and surely you want everyone to see me and know that I have that because it also means you’re a good person see there’s something in it for you too and it’s not so bad see I haven’t even eaten this snack so it’s not like I have a problem.

Yeah. Anyway….

To get my steps in, I need to take a couple of lengthy walks every day. See where this is headed? I thought this would be great for both of us. Time together, exploration, socialization, etc. We do not, however have a unanimous decision on this approach.

photo 1Bosco: A walk means I go outside and turn left and then I walk halfway up the block to do my thing and turn around and go back inside to eat a snack and go back to bed and besides that sidewalk is very cold in the morning and doing anything else would seriously cut into my nap time and a great way to spend time together is sitting on the sofa while you rub my ears.

We’ve been walking every night when I get home from work, usually around 7. The distance varies – it’s a minimum of 8 blocks, but I have to hit 10,000 steps by the end of it.

photo 5Bosco: I have been very busy snoring all day and I am worn out and I don’t want to walk around in the middle of the night 7:30 is my bedtime and this makes me late for nite nite and then I’m too tired to go up the stairs to my bed so I have to nap on the floor first and it just throws my whole schedule off.

This past week I added a morning walk. We crawl out at 6, and do anywhere from 8 to 10 blocks. Nothing major, just enough for Bosco to do what he needs to do, and prevent any “using the laundry room as a bathroom” incidents while I’m gone.

photo 2Bosco: I don’t know who’s doing that in the laundry room I’m upstairs sleeping the whole time and I sleep very soundly it must be the mailman and 6 am is still nite nite unless I’m hungry and then I want you to get up right away.

I do have an ulterior motive to our activity. This horrendous winter limited Bosco’s interaction with the outside world. He’s made great gains in his confidence when he’s safe inside the house. But he lost ground about being outside, seeing different people and encountering unexpected events. Walking more, and in unfamiliar places will help him understand that there’s still nothing to be afraid of when he’s outside.

photo 2Bosco: For years I walked two blocks to the pier and looked at the water and then walked back and took a nap I don’t see why there needs to be more I bet you don’t drive to work taking longer and different routes every day do you I thought not I’m gonna trail along behind you and act all grumpy and when people laugh at us it really hurts my self esteem.

In the last two weeks, I’ve logged about 50 miles of walking, and a little over half of it has been with Bosco. He is cooperative, but not happy. Yesterday we took a long walk in the morning, and another in the afternoon. Later that night, I got cold and put on a hoodie. Bosco interpreted that as an indication that we were going for a third walk. He ran upstairs to hide.

Bosco: I may not not know much about the world but I’m not stupid.

But we’re doing good. We’re starting slow, and taking a lot of breaks. Bosco gets very happy when we stop, and drinks directly from my water bottle, which I find both hilarious and disgusting. He still pesters me to go for a walk, and soon he will get used to the distances and be enthusiastic for the whole walk.

photo 3Bosco: Maybe we can get in the car and drive around and I can look at things that way and eat snacks without having to walk at the same time and we can circle the block where the cute cocker spaniel is and I can put my head out the window and say hey baby and impress her that I have a chauffeur.

 

Babbling Bosco

photo 1

Bosco’s talking!

It took 19 months for him to have an opinion strong enough to verbalize.

Normally he communicates with snorts and huffs and every so often a very soft sound that sounds like “berf.”

But a week or so ago, he had something to say, which was:

“I like pork.”

It all came about when I was eating stir-fry pork. Bosco thought it smelled good, and dropped some hints that he’d like to taste it.  He put his head in my lap and  stared up at me with huuuuuge eyes. Really subtle. Then I offered him a vegetable. He eagerly reached for it – then realized that wasn’t what he wanted. He sniffed again, curled his lip, and shook his head.

Being a jerk, I laughed at him. And then he spoke up, and ran around in little circles.

A few days later, we had the same scene – but this time it was grilled chicken. After submitting his request, Bosco accepted that there would be no chicken for him, and went off to watch from a distance. Then I called him over and gave him a piece. This is a loose translation of what he had to say:

“Yay it’s chicken I’m eating chicken and it tastes soooo good and I’m so happy I’m going to run around the room and yell because I’m eating chicken and it tastes so good and this is the best day of my life because I had chicken.”

Or something like that.  Something so wonderful happened to him that he finally forgot himself and all his anxieties and was a big happy dog. A one inch piece of chicken did all that.

photo 2

In the last few months, he’s been seeking affection, asking to be petted, and to have his ears rubbed.  He doesn’t get as nervous when I cuddle the stuffing out of him, and seems slightly disappointed when it stops. But …. then there’s the smooching. He’s so cute, and so tall, and I love to plant a big kiss on the top of his head. He haaaaates the smooching because it comes with sound effects. Yesterday I smooched at him from across the room.  He ran backwards and “berfed” at me, wagged his tail, then ran forward. Repeat repeat repeat. He wanted me to know that it would be more fun to run around the house than smooch.

I was eating trail mix yesterday, and Bosco wanted some. He was unconcerned that everything in trail mix is bad for dogs.  He made his eyes 600 times their normal size, and looked from me to the container, and back again – After I’d put it away, he kept it up for another hour.

Let’s just say this- I’m pretty thick sometimes. He wasn’t telling me he wanted nuts and raisins. He. Had. To. Go. And I wasn’t getting it. So he resorted to the classic way to get my attention.  He put himself at eye level, reached out with a big ol’ paw, and smacked me.

Message received!

Mooney Eyes

mooney eyesI think I’ve whined about it before – I’ve been working a ridiculous amount of hours lately. I’m “lucky” enough to be able to do this while sitting at home (and let me also say I’m lucky enough to have the problem of having to work a lot).

What I’m really lucky about is Bosco. I’ve said before that he’s a very good project supervisor, and he’s a very good morale booster. He hangs out on the sofa, with his head on the arm. Of course he falls asleep (oh,upper management). But when I look up, he opens his eyes and I get a big pittie smile and vigorous tail wags that raise dust clouds from the sofa (Too busy to vacuum. Yeah, that’s it).

But let me tell you what’s causing really big pittie smiles…the realization that there are other treats out there, that are better than the low-cal ones I make for him.

I bought him a present for his anniversary. It’s a treat puzzle – you hide things in some of the compartments, and the dog is supposed to have to figure out how to get them.  I put little pieces of  beggin strips in 4 spaces.

This is the very first time Bosco saw it.

Not exactly intellectually stimulating, was it? I do love that he closed it when he was done.

Now he’s found religion. As a new convert, he is fervently, passionately devoted to his holy trinity.

  • Pulled pork
  • Ham
  • Bacon

He still doesn’t pay much attention to my food – except when pork is involved. Then he’s very attentive, making big moony eyes at me.

The face of a pork lover.

The face of a pork lover.

Also on his anniversary, I gave him one small piece of bacon.

Bosco meets bacon

Bosco meets bacon

I think he liked it. And now we share a common belief – that bacon is the best thing in the world.

He’s doing a silly Clydesdale step right now. I have a breakfast sandwich – a messy one, and there’s been spillage. Unfortunately it was the green peppers that fell, but he decided to eat those. Now he’s telling me he knows there’s bacon in the room – he wants to put a paw on my leg – but he knows I will consider that begging, and he’ll be reprimanded. So a paw goes way up, he catches himself, and puts it down. And then in his excitement, the other paw comes up, he catches himself, etc etc etc. And of course there are big moony eyes too.

Mmmmmmmmmm……..bacon………..

Bosco Thoughts

Bosco is pondering - or pouting - after I took a pen away from him.

Bosco is pondering – or pouting – after I took a pen away from him.

Bosco’s a quiet guy, and he likes to sit back and ponder things.  I can tell he’s having some deep thoughts lately.  Here’s what I think he’s been thinking:

Every song I’ve ever heard has a verse about me and my big feet. I’m famous.

When I have nothing to say, I say nothing. Think about that, humans.

How can it be that every time I’m ready to poop, somebody makes a big noise and wrecks my mood?

Why do people spend time fussing with food? If they’d just eat kibble, they could go to bed at 7:30 like me.

How come I don’t get to use the porcelain flushy thing? It’s raining. I’m tall enough……

Why isn’t there yogurt-covered kibble?

Why should I bring the ball back? You’re the one who threw it.

Why are Yorkies so bossy?

Big boy likes his sleep.

Big boy likes his sleep.

How can I possibly be expected to function on less than 21 hours of sleep each day?

How many pictures of me do you really need?

And most important of all: Life is about sitting in sun puddles.

sun puddle

PS: Why was there a pancake and a pop tart on the sidewalk?

W.T.F.

At his school's playdate; smiling because someone is telling him he is handsome.

At his school’s playdate; smiling because someone is telling him how handsome he is.

We’ve been doing some major celebrating this week. Bosco’s pooping in the yard.

So maybe that doesn’t scream cake and ice cream to you. But let me add this tidbit – until last week, he was afraid to even be out there. There are sounds coming from outside of the fence, and that makes him jumpy. It’s hard to poop when you’re jumpy.

But he decided this week that it’s quiet enough at 6 am to hunker down and git r done.

Something has changed for him in the last few weeks.  First reactions have always been a huge W.T.F., complete with freezing or attempting to flee. His reaction to new things is different now. He’s not exactly shooting forward to feel the rush – but he is staying put to see what happens next.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought this enormous piece of furniture, and had to bribe friends to help me get it in my house. And somehow I managed to not have to lift anything. Yay. Anyway, one friend brought his toddler daughter with him. She’s adorable, and at the “squawk and grab it” part of her life. Her dad says that she loves dogs, and thought she’d get a kick out of Bosco. And she did. At least twice her size, he must have looked like a huge carnival stuffed animal.

It was real clear real fast that Bosco’s never seen tiny children. Here’s an artist rendition of the event:

Untitled-1

A few days later, we saw a neighbor carrying a child. Bosco seemed surprised and a little sad that there was no squealing and reaching.  The next week, Auntie Laura stopped by with her sons.  They’re small, but they are very experienced dog people. Even though he was nervous, Bosco sat down to get his petting. One boy gave a couple perfunctory pats, then climbed in the car and asked to go to Target. The other boy stood in front of Bosco, and they stared into each others faces. They were telling each other, “yeah, we can just stand here and be good with each other.”

He’s also expanding his trust/affection circle. Last month I had to go on a business trip, and he stayed at Robyn and Bill’s hotel. I got voicemails about how playful he was while he was there. Laura was on the same trip, and we checked Bosco out of the hotel before taking her home. In the past, he would have been on the floor in the back of the car. This time, he was trying to squeeze himself between the front seats, nudging and poking at her for some Bosco loving.

He’s also getting better about loud and unfamiliar places. I didn’t realize last Saturday was opening day of fishing season, and that the park would be packed. He was thrilled to be there.  But I did discover that he will hip check me into a pile of horse flop to avoid stepping in it himself.

Bosco napping after a big walk in a crowded park.

Bosco napping after a big walk in a crowded park.

Yesterday in the park, a woman was teaching her daughter to fly a kite. It was a flashy and colorful kite, and looked kind of like a huge bird. I expected Bosco to shy away and try to leave. But he stood there watching for a few minutes. When the kite went high, his ears went up. He turned his head to follow it as it swooped around. When it crashed, his ears flattened. And then they’d slowly come up again, as the kite rose back into the sky.

W.T.F. is still in his vocabulary. But it’s a different acronym now.  It’s ….Well…….(long pause for analysis) …….That’s fine.