On Cats & Dogs

My horoscope says I should spend a quiet night in with my beloved this evening.

I hope that doesn’t mean I can’t at least take him out for walks.

The Brody part of my beloved, at least. The cats are all good with staying inside.

It’s possible Miss Flynn is developing another urinary tract infection from the stress and anxiety caused by the construction outside. I’m hoping to head it off for her this time by closing the window and curtains in my bedroom and leaving the fan running to drown out some of the noise. They introduced a new machine to the mix this morning, which is I think what stressed her out today in particular. When I was leaving to come to work, she was under the bed cleaning herself, so hopefully the “safe room” I created for her will do the trick. My poor anxious girl. So much like me in that way.

Piper has a sensitive tummy, but it seems to be mostly diet related now. She threw up a lot while she was in the shelter, too, which delayed her being spayed and coming home with me for a good month or so, but since then it’s any change in diet, including eating stuff she’s just not supposed to. Jack Bear and Flynn both have bellies like a steel trap, really. They can eat pretty much anything, so long as it’s actual food. They almost never throw up. But where Flynn is emotionally sensitive, Jack is pretty chill. Except when he’s being a little jerk, but that’s usually just for attention, so it’s more likely my fault for not giving him enough in the moments when he’s just relaxed and hanging out.

And then there is Brody. The loud noises outside don’t seem to bother him, and now that he has his own couch from his first family, he is happier than ever. I keep hoping some of that confidence will rub off on the kitten girls, especially Flynn, but so far it’s not working very well. She and Brody do try to groom one another on occasion, but as far as relieving anxiety goes, the presence of a chill doggie is not really helping her out, from what I can tell.

The one issue I am having with young Mister Brodykins is his aggressive reactions to the attention of some dogs. At first, he loved saying hello to every dog and person he met, and even got just as excited 30 seconds later upon meeting them again on the sidewalk going the other way. He was always very patient with those smaller than him, and with the enthusiasm displayed by exuberant puppies. I loved how he was the always the calm one; the friendly one. Everyone else seemed to love him, too.

Well, except that one doggie, but apparently she set every dog in the neighbourhood off when she was on leash, so Brody reacted just the same as all the others. She was a rescue and no one knows her history, but she was giving off some vibe when on leash that other dogs picked up on and did not like. Cute and calm little Brody would lose his mind and strain to get at her even just seeing her down the street.

Now, however, he seems to be far less tolerant of attention from other dogs, and he unleashes the Hulk more often than he used to. He did it twice this morning, the first time at a dog he’d done it to before, but who didn’t even get close to us before Brody snarled and leaped at him. And the second time a few minutes later, with a puppy at whom he’s also snapped, but who managed to get a few sniffs in this time before Brody launched.

I can usually sense it coming now; he gets really still for a second or two before unleashing. I just don’t know how much of it is coming from him, and how much is from him sensing me tense up in anticipation. Both suck; I just don’t know how to resolve either one. I’m not even sure what specifically sets him off, nor whether or not he actually tries to bite the other dog, versus fire several warning shots off their bow. My gut tells me he doesn’t actually make contact, for the simple reason that not one single dog has retaliated yet. Which…thank goodness, because he’s liable to get himself killed one of these days as it is. If he was doing it before, it’s likely the reason why Sophie almost killed him a couple of times. No way would she put up with that behaviour, from him or anyone else.

As near as I can tell, he seems to take issue with any form of attempted domination, however remote it appears to me. He doesn’t like to be humped, nor stood over – which I can totally get. He hates being pawed at or stepped on, even in play, because that’s not how he plays. Totally get that, too. He doesn’t like when other dogs get all up in his face instead of giving him space while sniffing politely – I also totally get that. I don’t like those things, either, but I’m not the one lashing out at everyone who doesn’t behave the way I want them too. I mean, who has the time for that?

I am not sure why it seems to be happening more often lately, unless it’s because I’m worried about it and watching for it and he’s picking up on that and reacting in kind. He’s also possibly a bit more possessive of me recently, which doesn’t seem to really be a factor in encounters with other dogs, per se (it’s the people who might have treats, and therefore earn his greater interest, after all), but I kind of feel like…and this will come out wrong because I’ve never put words to it before…it’s almost like he’s concerned with saving face, or looking tough…for me. Not that he needs to protect me, but that he wants me to know he can, if it comes down to it. He doesn’t want to let any other dogs get the upper hand, so he snarks them down if he senses anyone trying to get the better of him.

Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t really know. I was just thinking about it more today because it happened twice this morning – and with really cute doggies I wanted to pet!

It’s usually okay because the dogs’ people seem to understand, for the most part. Some even let their dogs know that Brody has a right to warn them to back down, and help settle the situation so the dogs can just sniff one another and be on their ways. Some people I am always apologizing to, but without chastising Brody too much because, in the end, I want him to feel safe and like he has the right to defend himself from unwanted attention. Which he does. I would just prefer he choose a less violent warning before prematurely escalating to a snarling fit of rage!

The thing is, he’s one of the gentlest, sweetest souls I’ve ever met in this world, and it hurts my heart for anyone else to get the impression that he’s one of those schitzo, frothing little dogs that walk around with a chip on their wee shoulders simply because they are tiny and angry. Brody is so not that dog. He just gives off that impression sometimes, and while the dogs – I think – learn the difference, I don’t think most people do. They know what they see, and what they see is a tiny black and blond Tasmanian Devil taking shots at their sweet dogs.

It bothers me.

That being said, though, we have FAR more positive interactions than negative, so it’s not like this Hulk-ness has taken over his sweet personality. Far from it, in fact. He’s still one of the very best guys I know, and continues to far and away be the puppy I love most in the whole world.

Which he knows, because I tell him that several times a day. Usually whilst rubbing his belly.


Sense of Smell

Super nice out today, so I took Brody for an extra long walk.  He was so happy, trotting along, sniffing everything he could get at.  He was especially glad to not have to wear his coat or boots, I think!

Along the way, we caught the scent of woodsmoke.  A ton of houses in my area have fireplaces, and I think the smell of wood burning might be one of my favourite scents ever.  It’s different from other things burning – like toast – and is instead a warm, comforting scent that, for me, stirs up happy memories.

Are there scented candles that smell like wood-burning stoves or campfires or anything like that?  Because there should be.

Smell is one of our most powerful senses, and yet is quite often overlooked.  It’s linked very strongly to memory, and also to taste, as evidenced when one has a cold, for example.

I remember when I was quitting smoking, I was told I’d develop a greater sense of taste and smell fairly quickly.  Unfortunately for me, it was still kind of spring time, and everything I smelled was bad.  What a waste of a returning scent.

Some smells make me hungry, even if I’ve just eaten.  Bacon, bread baking, vanilla/cookies, pretty much anything on a barbecue.  Vinegar makes me want fries.  I guess in some way the scent of most foods make me hungry, but there are definitely a few that are tough to ignore.

I doubt I can even name the majority of smells that unlock memories for me.  Not all of the memories are good, either.  And some keep changing.  Like lilies will always make me think of Alysia now, if for no other reason than that we all wore them to her celebration of life, and they were everywhere that day.  Wood burning reminds me of being at Grandpa and Grandma’s, mostly.  Pies baking reminds me of my mom baking every weekend when I was young.

See now I want pie.  Where was I?

Certain perfumes and colognes of course.  What was that one all the guys were bathing in back in the 80’s?  Brut?

Some scents I don’t like still hold good memories.  Like, I don’t love the smell of mittens, toques, socks and/or those boot liner things Grandpa used to wear drying – and burning – by the wood stove or the heaters at home, but I do love the memories associated with having played in the snow and finally coming inside, out of breath, our cheeks flushed and our eyes shining with excitement.  I don’t love wet dog smell, but I adore dogs, especially happy ones who’ve just gotten soaked from playing out in the rain or a lake or what-have-you.  I don’t really love the smell of fresh-tilled dirt, but I do sort of love that it smells like life.  And I love the smell of fresh-cut grass, yet not when it gets rained on.  Wet cut grass smells groddy.

Sometimes it goes the other way, too.  I don’t even drink coffee, yet lI love the scent of it percolating.

Naturally, there are also a bazillion smells that I don’t like , nor do I like what caused them, nor do I like memories they may or may not stir up.

For example, liver.  Keep that crud away from me!

As Brody and I walk along, and I watch him sniffing away, I’m simultaneously awed by how much better a dog’s sense of smell is than ours will ever be, and also glad that mine isn’t that good, because there’s a lot of scents I could really do without as it is.  Imagine, though, what it would be like – for our palette to recognize even more flavours, for our memories to be even sharper at the re-introduction of a particular scent even years later.  I wonder if our minds would continue to store all of that information, or if it would let it go again, just as easily as we took it in?

I wonder if Hudson the polar bear would still remember me by my scent, were he to see me now?