October has come and gone and somehow I missed the mention of Sumo's 7th birthday on October 4th, which would make him a dignified human male in his forties, not really deserving of being infantilized as happens so often simply due to his size and cuteness. Sumo keeps impressing me with his astounding self-confidence, and self-reliance, even self-containment. This guy does not need much attention from anyone. At home he is content to hang in one of his favorite spots, usually on top of a pillow of mine, while outside he just relishes his freedom to follow his nose, run ahead and explore, with no fear, but total abandon. When we approach our park I believe the mice run for cover and the birds with their excited chatter warn the ground squirrels of Sumo's imminent approach. Sumo will fly ahead, if allowed, to check on every single spot he ever suspected or encountered wild life, all the while keeping track of my whereabouts. He knows that park and our 'hood like we know our inside pockets. I do not believe either of my dogs would ever get lost downtown. Today Sumo happened to come upon that one long haired gray cat that loves to hunt in the park, supposedly not a feral cat, but belonging to a neighbor. Of course Sumo ran excitedly after the cat, but stopped just about mid-air to respond to my call (I had gotten worried about near by traffic.) Sumo is a very good boy. Because love goes through the stomach Sumo got extra helpings of roast chicken and a special trip by bike up to the dog park for the two of us only.
October 23. we celebrated Isabella's anniversary, a day I will never forget, 6 years ago, when I brought home from the shelter my first dog ever. Oh, I was nervous, unsure, worried and very aware of the responsibility involved. I knew fully well that I hated to have to go out for walks, I was concerned about not just my emotional availability, but also my financial capability of caring for another. (Considering my client who payed $12,000 to the vet only to lose his pure bred Australian Shepherd to some strange genetic disease within 10 days, my concerns were and are well justified!) I waited to pick her up for two days when I was unscheduled for several days and had full availability to dedicate myself to the acclimation of my new furry companion. In those first days I remember I would get up with the first light, something like 6 am. I would dress in a hurry in order to go out with my girl, terrified her bladder may be ready to burst. In those days I would walk the 'hood with Isabella for a good 5 hours and one day for 7 hours straight. As we got home Isabella, after 7 hours, Isabella finally crashed with all her 4 limbs splashed out across the floor. 6 years ago we still had laws that did not allow the presence of dogs in restaurant patios, so really we mostly meandered as I had heard that a tired dog was a good dog. My worries about her destroying my home, chewing on furniture or shoes and making a mess of my papers were totally unfounded, Isabella was and is a very good girl with a good sense of what is proper and what not.
She decided early on that people ought not to be sitting on the ground and would get rather agitated about the not so uncommon street folks, transients, in our 'hood, but she got also upset with me when I lowered myself to her level. Since, she has adjusted very nicely and has been sleeping communally with no problems, all of us in one big bed. She has retained though her sense of right and wrong. When the cat got up on the roll top desk she knew right away that was wrong, she did need nobody to explain it to her. When strangers approach at dusk or in the dark she will alert as well. But I also watched her tell Sumo off, literally nudge him to stop barking at a friend.
We have been dealing with Isabella's physical challenges now for at least 2 years. Things are better if not good. Of late I give her a lot more leeway. Rather then drag her along, I try and let her set the pace and lead the way. She loves it and becomes very purposeful and adamant in which direction she wants to proceed. It is quiet a change from the Isabella-girl that followed Sumo everywhere, who had made Sumo the focal point of her world. She no longer can keep up with his pace and I believe she has given up and taken some of her power back. Their relationship is something to behold as they don't fight, don't hold grudges but rather accommodate it each very nicely. More often these days Isabella will pick up a scent, she has a very good nose, and Sumo will come back to her to check it out. Isabella easily picks up the scent of meat from hours ago, or the scent of other animals on someone's clothes, or the scent of wild life I spotted, but they missed visually. Isabella is smart, I can point and she will look in that direction. The other day inside the community garden, now barren, I called on them and while Sumo jumped up several feet to race to me on the shortest route, Isabella could not jump and looked to me. I pointed the other way and I watched literally the light of comprehension go on in her eyes as she turned away from me toward the exit to come toward me. I love that girl! I love them both, or rather all three of my furry companions. I am blessed, if sometimes challenged as well.