Bear in the TV room
At a glance, or from a distance, it looks just about the same. You might notice the dog pen pieces (the same ones that used to be inside) at the back and side of the house, keeping Bear in the backyard. It is a bit surprising that he hasn’t figured out how flimsy the plastic pieces are that keep him secluded in the backyard. I imagine that it is largely because they were so good at keeping him contained when he was a little puppy. And on top of that, he still prefers to be inside, preferably on a couch.
But other than the dog-pen pieces purchased at Baby’s R Us, the plants, the shed, the path, the bikes, they all look the same. Until you walk through the backyard, you would think that it hadn’t changed. Getting a fenced-in yard was on our list of things to do before getting Bear. All the other items were taken care of: dog food, chew toys, crate, and aforementioned dog-pen. A fenced in yard never got done, and it has really only been done in practice. A more substantial gate at the back and the side need to be installed (one run to Home Depot has supplies for the back gate stacked behind the house).
Two things will hit you as you walk through the backyard. You will notice both eventually. One is the smell. It is not overpowering, but it is there. And it is stronger in some spots. The smell emanates from piles of poo with plenty of “sitings”. Along with the smell is the number of flies. Attracted to an abundant amount of nutrition, the flies swarm the piles. It has taken me a week to adjust to this new setup. I now seek and scoop the piles first by sight and then by sniffer.
I first look for a gathering of flies, and then I hone in on the exact location by smell. As a kid I would get paid a quarter per poop to cleanup Sammy’s yard. Maybe it was the cold, or maybe it was the thin air in Colorado, but I remember those poops being dry to the point of brittle. (It could also be the health of Sammy’s insides compared to Bear’s insides)
With paper bag and a shovel called the Super-dooper-pooper-scooper (it had a scissor type setup), I would get two-dollars of poop without any hassle. There was never any struggle to get all the pieces; I never remember stepping on any. (It could also be that as a kid I just didn’t care if I stepped in dog poop)
Being isolated in the back, I didn’t clean out Sammy’s yard that much. However, as a central part of our traffic flow, especially in nice weather, I clean the backyard at least once a day. With the plastic bag over my hand like a glove, I venture out, taking big slow steps, looking for piles. In the beginning I more often than not found the pile by stepping in it.
I think it is the humidity that keeps the odor on my shoes, and I apologize if you notice a dog poop smell around me, but I can’t escape it. I’ve started leaving my shoes at the door, fearing what is clinging to the bottom. I hope that I’ve developed highly sensitized sniffing of dog poop, and that I actually pick it up when others don’t. I smell it at the gym and out for frozen yogurt.
It’s gotten to the point that I have changed some habits. Instead of sitting with my leg crossed over the knee, I now have both feet flat on the ground to minimize the smell. I’m told this is actually better posture. Other unanticipated positives of having a puppy include: meeting a lot of our neighbors that have dogs; meeting a lot more women when I am walking the dog (see It’s true); getting the our cats in better shape since they walk with us.
It is worth noting that there are also unanticipated negatives of having a puppy: my hands smell like dog food from feeding him during training, my shoes smell like poop, and the backyard is littered with “chew” toys.
Bear playing with a water bottle during Maggie’s soccer practice.
The back patio is littered with actual chew toys and with “found” chew toys. Branches and scrap pieces of wood are piled in a spider plant. A bottle of fluoride pills (Portland does not add fluoride to the water) is punctured without a lid next to Bear’s squeaky red dog. A hair-brush with the half a handle (don’t tell Heather or Maggie) lays in the rock path next to Bear’s kong and bone. The soccer cone and duster can be found behind the rose-bush next to a hole he has been working on the last two weeks (again, don’t tell Heather).
As Declan and I walked through the yard, he said, “This is Bear’s territory.” This just made me think of the pre-Tedford era, back when Pawlowski took the Bears to a top ten finish, which then made me a bit sad thinking of the recent loss to dreaded USC.
Lower right is the fly that has been sucked dry by the spider.
Every year about this time there are a lot of spiders. The nests explode into an abundance of baby spiders. There are a bit of a nuisance, but they disappear pretty quickly. This year they are feasting on all the flies. We get to witness the lower end of the food chain in our backyard. Beginning from the waste of a higher order mammal, to larva and flies, and onto spiders.