Living in a Doggie World

Lake Tahoe is very much a place akin to dog heaven.  Dog owners seem to outnumber the non-dog owners, and whether in pickup trucks or old subarus, dogs tend to accompany their humans everywhere – to work, to play, traveling, etc.  They have their run of anywhere non-paved, including local trails (snow-covered and not), the enormous swimming pool known as Lake Tahoe, and because of this, I think they tend to be mellower and better behaved than their urban cousins who live their lives leashed, tethered and not allowed to run free from time to time.

I was reminded of Tahoe’s unique pro-dog attitude twice today.  First when I stopped off at Alpen Sierra to grab a quick coffee, and happened to park next to a space occupied by a gorgeous, if graying, St. Bernard, who had pretty much taken up a parking space for himself (his human had tied him to a nearby newspaper kiosk).  Said St. Bernard was unflappable and completely at ease in his state of semi-consciousness as folks like me passed by and smiled.  Because who wouldn’t smile seeing such a gorgeous animal?  He was unperturbed by us admirers, and certainly wasn’t giving up his primo parking spot for anyone, including the driver of the large SUV that started pulling in – then changed her mind.

Then this evening I opened up the local free monthly newspaper (which has no editorial merits of its own, but features interesting ads from various businesses who won’t advertise in our formerly daily paper).   In it was a 1/3 page ad dedicated to a man’s dog who died in 1984 – 25 years ago.  While it was poorly written (not unusual here), it was obviously heartfelt, and I was strangely touched.  This guy hadn’t had a dog since this one died, and apparently the cat just wasn’t the same.

While I consider myself a dog lover, and very much understand the attitudes of most dog owners here (except for the stupid & irresponsible, but I’ve vented about that already), this was something I’m pretty sure I’ll never do.  For as much as I love Soleil the wonder ‘tard, I’m not sure I’d commemorate the silver anniversary of her eventual passing to the world.

But remind me of that when I entertain blogging about it, okay?


Blithely Self Assured…or Incompetent?

While this article’s headline about incompetent people really having no clue seems like it’s straight out of The Onion, it’s actually from the SF Chronicle.  And it explains so much about human behavior.  I guess I’ll have to amend my mantra of ‘stupidity should be painful’ to ‘stupidity AND incompetence should be painful’.

Amusingly (or frighteningly) enough, I’ve found the characteristics described in the article present in many people that I’ve encountered.

Not Such a Beautiful Day

While many people were celebrating this historic election, I spent today fighting with a slow and surly computer.  It’s become such an issue that it makes the most rote work tasks take 5 times as long, leaving me with days of high unproductivity (an anathema in my family).  After a particularly frustrating morning I dropped the laptop off at the fix-it place with explicit instructions to do whatever it takes (remove Microsoft Office? Blow it up?).

As a result I’m working off an old computer of N’s.  It’s equally slow, and the Internet browser has taken to freezing up and crashing at highly inopportune moments, like when I’m trying to grade my online course assignments.  Suffice to say my stress levels have skyrocketed, despite ample amounts of red wine.  I’m beginning to believe it is more me than the computer, seeing as how these issues appear to be following me from machine to machine.  At this point i wouldn’t be surprised if it followed me to a friggin’ ABACUS.

The dog is slinking around the house thinking that my explosive cursing is aimed at her.  Her innate guilt is amusing but off base tonight.  For someone so reliant upon computers and the Interweb, I’m not loving what I do for a living right now.  Culinary school actually sounds quite appealing.

First Snowfall of the Season

Friday night Tahoe got hit with a winterish (for October) storm, one that left trails in awesome condition and the mountains a light shade of white (a few inches, not the 16 I’d heard predicted above 9,000 ft).  While I was too ill to enjoy playing outside Saturday (damn stomach bug), I was able to let myself get excited for winter and skiing as I worked at home and felt generally feeble.

And since we’ve accumulated 2+ cords of wood from the trees we had removed from our property this summer, there’s no need to hold back on keeping the wood stove cranking.  Which is what we did yesterday and again this afternoon, much to the dog’s delight.  It didn’t take long before she was splayed out in a puddle of dog by the fireplace, pink nose and all.  Lucky for her, N, the resident fire builder/manager, doesn’t have much in the way of business travel this winter.

Wha’ Happened?

It was only Monday last I looked.  How did it become mid-September already?

The wind from our Labor Day trip to Mammoth must have pushed the time by all the quicker.  It’s quite versatile, that wind.  Not only did it exfoliate my face with the help of the pumice that’s native to Mammoth, but it kept thing exciting at our hotel, the Tamarack Lodge, by rattling windows and trees and gusting to ridiculous speeds (I heard 95 mph on the local weather).

Despite the unusual weather, it was refreshing to get out of Dodge for a weekend and enjoy some cooler temps, different scenery and see old friends.  N had spent Saturday morning doing maintenance on the Ski Club Lodge (a keeping it real quonset hut perched on some prime Mammoth real estate), so we stole a few hours in the afternoon to do a short hike.  That meant Mammoth frontcountry, which is polluted with people, many of whom have no clue about hiking etiquette.  N had words with some retards who insisted on cutting the trail, and the idiots acted contrite but continued to do so until he caught up with them again.  However, there was a lake within short distance which meant the dog could swim, so we suffered stupidity for her needs.

She amused the various groups of Japanese tourists (there were many) who weren’t familiar with a dog prancing with a log.

Most people just hike to and from the lake, but we continued another half hour up the trail to the Mammoth Crest, which is well worth it for the views.

The best part of the hike was the descent – it took only 20 minutes to descend what took an hour to climb, and got us back to the Tamarack Lodge in time for cocktail hour.

My Surprisingly Well Trained Dog

Yesterday I took the dog out for a run, since her energy levels had rebounded exponentially since our 19 mile hike on Saturday.  It was hot, which meant I did the ‘jogging shuffle’ instead of my slightly faster paced ‘fast jog’.  I don’t force Soleil to heel when I’m this slow – it would drive both of us insane.  Instead she meanders about, sniffing and marking, coming back to me to make sure I’m still moving, but rarely does she stand still.

So it was with a bit of puzzlement that I saw her standing off the trail looking back at me during one particularly steep and painful hill climb.  I wasn’t sure why, but the answer became clear when I saw a mountain biker whizzing towards me at a good clip.  Soleil, usually known more for her stupidity than her intellect, must have internalized some of my ‘heel’ commands at actually figured something out.  Who knew?

It’s amazing what a huge payoff dog training has in the long run.  (Isn’t that right bro?)