Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm Back, and our We is Three.

I'm just going to dive in... this is merely a finger exercise, tonight... an intro, or re-intro. I may eventually, occasionally or inconsistently reflect on the odd transition since back-when, and the myriad changes from the last time i used this blogsite -- back in the summer of '08.

For my own perspective's sake, let's look at then-&-now: i had a relatively new girlfriend, as we tiptoed and traipsed around each other's world, learning; i was in my 30s; puppydog was an actual puppy; i had roommates; i hadn't yet read "The Chosen" or "The Corrections" or "The Jungle" or "The New York Trilogy"; a white guy was POTUS; Lehman Brothers was a well-respected bank; the Blackhawks and Giants still hadn't been champs in decades; Conan was on NBC; and Jack, Kate & Sawyer were still mired on the island.

Things have changed. I can't stop writing about change, about the passage of time, about differences -- it is much of what i calculate and ponder and sift through, mentally. In the greater than eight hundred days since the puppy-related blog posts, which you can glean below, that dog has become my -- no, our -- best friend. And instead of talking only about me and my, it's we and our -- Tamara is a part of me in a way that I can only, simply, be thankful for. And our little we, whoopsie, became a bigger we this fall, when Jonah joined the frenetic fray.

So calculating time -- my whole M.O. -- now, with a baby, has been changed. Now, as wholesale changes are grouped by the hour and day, rather than year and decade... I am on internal clock overdrive. And THAT is why i am here: I need to calculate the changes with words, hash them out as thoughts, put on paper the incongruousness of all of it, of life, of parenting, of making a kid and finding him here all of a sudden and watching him wiggle, and wiggle bigger, and outgrow onesies even now, at ten weeks old.

So this is how my mind works -- it IS odd -- when I look at the kid cooing at the window or the wall.

I think, Holy Shit. I have a baby. Tamara had a baby. I made a baby, and Tamara made a baby, and Tamara carried that baby -- a real baby, organic, heavy and tangible as a sack of potatoes, kicking like mad -- for NINE FREAKING MONTHS.

That's what I shake my head at, dozens of times a day. I like it; it boggles me; but don't know how to keep that thought fresh while staying present, moving on as The Baby moves on. It's an existential walk-in-a-circle on our hardwood: how did this happen? How can I keep it steady. understand it, and flow with it?

How can I REMEMBER EVERYTHING ABOUT IT?

That's why I am here, and why I'll scribble here for the foreseeable, occasional future.

So it happened. How??I mean, I know how it happened. I blew a baby into the world.

I - We - plopped a baby onto Planet Earth.

A baby, with my reverberating DNA, and, thanks to the Goddess of Baby-smell and Diaper-tape and Midnight-television and All Other Baby-Related Things Holy, my beautiful wife's DNA as well... was lifted out of the World (whirled?) of Being Pregnant -- (an aside: getting pregnant is one thing... but Being Pregnant is altogether another, and one of the other things it is, is, FANTASTICALLY DIFFERENT THAN HAVING A BABY LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE) -- was lifted out of the Preg World (again I suggest: whirled?), a world crammed full of Preg booklists and filmstudy and mommy-and-daddy-Get-Ready-Classes and over-the-shoulder glances at babygap (as you consider whether stepping inside will cause colic) and carseat befuddlement and crib comparisons and diaper dilemmas and daily OBGYN appointments (every day, right? didn't we have an air mattress in the lobby, and a best-friendliness with the front-desk nurses?) -- and sushi and sapporo cravings and unasked-for explanations as to why this mommy or that daddy found out of didn't find out the baby's XX or XY chromosomal configuration (not that there's anything wrong with that) and Q&A sessions with perfect (read: imperfect) strangers... out of that innocent (really) World (whirled?) swirled a ten-fingered, ten-toed, vocally-corded, fully-cooked baby, lifted skyward and nonchalantly washed-and-dried by the nursing staff, plopped into my arms, Tam's arms, our arms... and sent, with instructions, to our house. With us. All of a sudden. Out of nowhere. Out of our bodies. Which is nowhere, really...

His name is Jonah. I haven't eaten him yet, or kissed him into edible bits, or rubbed the fine soft hair off of his miniature head. (Ten weeks ago -- J turned 70 -- (days) -- today -- ... ten weeks ago, I thought overlove was inevitable. I was right. It has suggested to me that this won't manifest as truly problematic for at least 5 years, and possibly not for 25 or 30, or 50).

He is a wiggling widget of skin and soft and sweet smell, of squishy meat. And I am going to remember everything-- that's my goal -- by writing it down. His -- I hate this word but I'm freaking exhausted, guess why -- adventures, and mine, and Tamara's, over the coming hours, with Jonah-only-knows what kind of consistency.

Final though here: I have been asked my take, by friends with kids, on parenting ''so far,'' -- like it's a game, the first part of the 1st quarter is over, now's the TV timeout. How's it going, aoch? Game plan good? Unfolding as expected?

The query is sweetly meant, but odd. My take on parenting.... I mean, does Baby have a take on Milk, yet? Sure, he's had a helluva lot of it. But he has hardly tempted, or savored, the flavors. The few he's had -- left boob and right; formula, of this sort or that, liquid or powder... But Jonah's take on milk can't be compared to anything. He doesn't even know what he doesn't know.

So it goes with me. Here I am, allofasudden, not directly planned, Someone's Dad. I wasn't someone's dad until I was; now i am. And "parenting so far" -- well, I have hardly tempted, or savored, the flavors, though I've had a few. Still -- I don't even know what I don't know.

I want to know it. I crave remembering all of it, forgetting nothing. I want to hear it from other points of view, and compile it with abandon.

It will be boring at times, and I like the notion of that -- a nice respite from the unboring, from the things that make me shake my head in wonder, when I don't have time to shake my head.
That's why I am here, and here I -- er, we -- go.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Deliciousness


Chewie is an idiot.


So is Phil.


To wit:

Chewie ate Tam's glasses the other night. Phil thought Chew was playing with one of her myriad, healthy, fun fun fun yummy doggy toys that don't cause emergency treks to the vet on weekend mornings,. Instead... Chewster was eating hip chick anteojos.

The "crunching" noise .. was not the teeth-on-nylabone sound that Phil thought it was. Oh, noooo. It was actually the glass (not plastic!) lense being crunched into bitsy bitsy bits, and then swallowed.

When Phil came closer than the fifteen feet away he'd been, from Chewie.. and saw the brown trapezoidal frames being twirled like a rope bone, he was sad. When one of the lenses wasn't IN said frame, he was sadder. But Phil still didn't think Chewie swallowed the frame! Indeed, Phil told Tamera that while her formerly cool-ass glasses appear to be nearing the end of their time on planet mother Earth... there's a lense lying around SOMEwhere, that Chewie apparently popped out! But she couldn't EAT an actual glass lense, could she? Tam says Yes! Phil says No!


And then, hours later, Chewie, seemingly happy and weird as ever... starts to gurgle and buck and wiggle and fritter and urp, urp, urp, bloop, bluhp, PUKE something right onto Tam's formerly soft cool comfy comforter. It's six inches of white foamn, with two somehow smooth pieces of glass inside -- smoothed edges! As if filed down by the poochie gods! -- that are quarter-sized.


It is, to be sure, two thirds of Tam's left lense.


The vet is called, the vet laughs, ha ha very hee hee funny vet vet stop laughing seriously wtf vet? Hunh? Funny?


Well she appears to be fine, the vet says, playing with a waggy tailed Chewie chew chew, who's trying to eat the vet's stethoscope. Wait -- do vet's have stethoscopes? I think they do. And IF they do, Chewie would surely try to eat it. Point is, Chewie's feeling fine.. the vet checks here and there, talks about the bad possibilities (torn organs! ripped insides! six years of braces! months & months of dog therapy, and blaming every car-and-cat-not-caught on her -- nodding at Me -- Owner (dammit!)) ... and then whisks her away for x-rays.


Tam and I fret. Well, not really. We read Dog Fancy and gave each other a Horse Quiz in Equestrian Cosmo. (Didn't realize there was such a magazine -- unreal! Tamara likes white horses. I like black horses. Odd but true fact!)


Then MK the vet calls us in, and we look at Chewie's 2 x-ray views. Here's what we saw (for real):


* Enough poop to build a small beach hut, "knockin' on the door, ready to come out! ha!" -- according to our HILARIOUS and now more-wealthy veterinarian;


* A 2 1/2 inch "tree seed" (????!!!!) -- which the funny funny rich rich vet "removed from Chewie's rectum. "Did it hurt when you removed the tree seed?" Phil asked. "No," said the Vet, setting down her copy of Kiplinger's Personal Finance and calling her broker. "Darn," said Phil.


* No glass. None whatsoever. "Maybe it passed through?" said the Rita Rudner of Bay Area vets. "You should keep your eye out when she poops -- if there's any blood, call us right away... and you can watch for glass. If you really want to know, you can get some gloves and look for the glass in her poop." I don't think, i think i said, we're gonna repair the glasses. I don't need the lense pieces OUT OF HER FREAKING POOP. Sweet geezus.


We are given meds -- 3 pills a day for five days -- and told to get "regular Pepcid." Chewie is happy. We go outside. She makes a huge poop. I don gloves, craft a small hut out of it, crawl inside and weep myself to sleep.


POSTSCRIPT: The next morning, I see Chewie chewing on her rope bone. But -- alas! -- she has fooled the villainous owner once again! Under the rope bone is Tamara's blackberry charger cord. It is chewed to bits, and off to the Radio Shack we go, Chewie pitter pattering happily, healthily along my left side.


Song of The Post: "Maximum Consumption" by The Kinks (runner up - "Girls Just Want to Have Lunch" by Weird Al Yankovic)


Thursday, August 14, 2008

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks...




I apologize that it's been nearly two weeks of acclimating to our New Life... without a single blog post. This process -- re-fitting into my old ways and places and folks, in this brand new manner -- a duo, however un-dynamic -- has been exponentially more formidable than I thought.

Chewie was fantastic on the plane, jetting back we had a window seat, the row behind the exit, with my bare feet on her furry sleepy back, and the middle seat woman not minding Chewie rolling into her footspace from time to time; Chewie was not afraid, at all, of the landing gear machinations or the bumps here and there -- but from the get-go, once landed, things felt dfferent fr her. She is a country dog -- born and bred -- and she was in the Big City now, like a pretty girl in a metal music video.

And it clearly felt upside down for her, to her, about her. While she was primed, geared up with new smells and sounds and scenery -- and so darn many dogs, everywhere, at every turn, large and small and in between... while that was all cool... you could see in her eyes that everything she'd ever known, wasn't here. I was the only link, and she'd only known me three weeks.

She seemed sad.

She got along well in my apartment... for about three hours. Then she pooped in it. Yes -- another dogwaste blog entry. The obsession continues...

Turns out, that my landlord -- when asked if there had b een any other dogs in the apartment, thought i meant dogs owned by tenants -- and the answer was indeed, No. However, the landlord himself had lived in our space... and owned an old hound... who'd peed everywhere.

So after I emntioned to Chewie's trainers that she peed twice and pooped in our apartment... totally out of character for her... the trainers insisted that another dog's waste stains/doodster remains HAD to be in there.. and voila! Twas true. She was simply marking terrain. So now, I am blacklighting the pad, finding and cleaning said stains with a vinegar - water solution + Nature's Miracle, so Chewie doesn't lift anymore.

She is otherwise doing OK potty wise -- if by OK i mean pooping mostly on city sidewalks swaddling with chatty coffee carriers and meeting attendees and bustling businessfolk, in front of gazing passers-by. Chewie is enchanted with city streets, city dogs, city dogwalkers, city traffic, city lights, city leaves blowing by on city parkways, city sticks and rocks, city mud, and city pigeons. She is most enchanted by the sidewalks, were she makes most of her country turning to city tinkles and such. We spend 15, 20, 25 minutes in the grassy parkland near my apartment (2 blocks), near Tamara's apartment (1 block), and near the newsroom (2 blocks) -- yet, she just plays, mostly, rubs her nose in the grass, chases birds, rubs my leg with her snout and paws (odd but true), and looks at other dogs and owners. After I ask her to Go Potty! fifty or sixty million times, and she doesn't, we leave... and she invariably squats and pooped on a sidewalk -- usually in front of a mansion. Once, she did it in front of very nice Greek restaurant, with people walking out with leftovers, left gagging. Another time, she squatted in the middle of a major street -- the WALK sign was flashing, and since she takes more than eight seconds to do it, i had to drag her across, ahead of itchy cabs. Additionally, San Francisco is, of course, a city of many hills.. and Chewie likes to squat and pee thereupon... thus creating a ChewieUrea River all the way down, from Pac Hts to Lower Pac Hts, or from wherever, to wherever below. Streams of ChewPee.. down, down.... down.

File it under my lessons learned: Urine is liquid, and it runs.

Oh -- I am NOT ass wiping. Nope. Jenn... I am off that train.

But I am still using a canister of wipes every three or four days... to clean up the messes on the sidewalks. Grass is so much easier! Oh glorious grass god... get going in attracting Chewliet to your easy bulls eyes!

Access has been mostly ok. Not many inane comments -- though not many means, in effect, that there have been a few. Two unauthorized pettings -- both today: one at the DMV, the other at UPS, where we picked up a package from her Papie in Chicago, who sent her bones and a neato water bottle we can share.

On the first night, the guy at the Korean BBQ place tried to keep us out, but we stood firm -- law is on our side -- and ate what may or may not have been a tainted meal.

Guy: No dogs allowed!

Tamara: It's a medical service dog!

Guy walks away. We remain in line.

Later, Same Guy: Really! Sorry! No dogs allowed!

Me: It's a medical servicew dog!

Guy: I am allergic, and this is a small place.

Me: I'm sorry. It's state and federal law; I'm allowed in. She'll be fine, under our table.

We're next on the waiting list, sitting down, Chewie perfectly quiet and content, an angel at our feet. I take my certification card and the law card with CA law on one side, the federal statute on the reverse.

Me: I'm not trying to be a jerk; it's the law, if you want to glance at it...

Guy: I know the law. It's ok. (waves me away)

Me: (sotto voce - If you know the law, why'd you try to kick me out?) Okay. Thanks.

But Tam and I thought they maybe spit in our food?

People ask what's up... sometimes brightly, sometimes, with inane openers like, Is she a seeing eye dog?

Um. Your eyes are green, and... no.

... and wherever i go, i am stared at, gazed at, and questiuoned, though nicely. Chewie is the center of attention, unendingly. People invariably assume I am training her to be placed with someone else. So be it.

The newsroom has been amazing... supportive in every way. I mean, they have to be, to an extent... but they're beyond supportive. Excited; happy; enthused; admiring; itching to have Chewie get more acclimated, and comfortable, in her new life, so I can take the vest off for a few minutes here or there, and they can pet her soft face and play some newsroom fetch. She mostly sleeps, though -- eats a bone, chills out, bones some more. She's out of the way. Occasionally she gets up and walks around on her own, trotting back waggingly when I snap my fingers.

This week, a TV crew from another local station -- not my CBS brethren upstairs -- came to our newsroom, filmed Chewie at work and me at work, separately and together... and the local reporter Bob macKenzie did a piece on us. I never saw it, but you can probably find it online. KTVU is the station.

And my pal Doug in our newsroom did a story on Chewie and I, using some sound I brought back, of Mykaela, from the program, and of Shannon (Gwen's mama). They sojnd good. Email me if you'd like to hear them and I'll forward them on.

We're getting there. She's still wigged out from all the newness--- she's nervous and jumpy, odd at times, eating a lot or nothing, pooping on sidewalks, thinking odd thoughts, seemingly... She's not quite herself.

She's also exceedingly clutzy. She picked up her bone last night, and cracked her skull on Tam's coffee table -- it would have knocked me out. She fell off a little ledge in a park -- THUMP! -- flat on her side, slipping on wet grass. She slides like mad across hardwood, and bumps into my legs scooting down the street. I have stepped on her paws... though her new vet here says her toe, is mending nicely.

And *i* have a hard time fgetting to work on time, at 11am most days -- despite waking up at 730. There are so many walks, training exercises, feedings, medications, baths, toys to play with and fix...where's the Phil time? Where's my stuff?

I look forward to the routine becoming routine. Right now, life is upside down -- as predicted.

Thanks to Angela for the newsroom pics.. and the SOTP is "Hard to Handle" by The Black Crowes:

Saturday, August 2, 2008

We passed.

Chewie -- on her birthday -- passed the certification test "easily" -- none wrong, not the easy stuff we hadn't practiced, and not the hard stuff that she was taken in for extra after-class work to get better at... none of it was problematic.

We're coming home, diploma and ID badge and certification in hand.

Now, this is not an ending, of course... and our training will continue in earnest, for some time to come.

This is just the end of the beginning.

True, I'm quite sad to say goodbye to these folks -- the diabetic kidsa and their parents, Michele and her kids and husband; Kim and her family; and my friends Jenn, Shannon, Neal, and Kim and Kristy... sad to say goodbye to everyone, but I know I'll see many of them again, and be in touch, in consistent communication, online and otherwise, in the days and weeks and years ahead.

What a blessing.

I am quite excited to get back, can't wait, as Chewie gets a big-city whiff for the first time, on her 366th day of life. I'm also psyched to get back into the newsroom Monday, and see everyone, be 'me' again, as me as me can be, plus one.

And, by way of transition... to quote Mohammed Ali:

Me? We.

Indeed, I wouldn't have been writing this if not for the support, deep and lasting, profound and emotional, written and oral, financial and influential -- of so damn many of you. Thank you from here, and I'll see you -- this blog will of course continue, as Chewie's adventures in San Francisco begin -- I'll seeya on the other side.

We're off to graduation, and a Happy Birthday bash of sorts for Chewie... who had a bath before the certtification exam, and seems rather pleased with herself. Late tonight, Jenn and her mom Kristy are driving us to St Louis prior to my early morning flight to SFO. Three Califrnians, two dogs who've never been to Cali but are going there -- to live -- tomorrow.

Fantastic.

I saw all of this, this 'path ahead,' a few weeks back, in the first or second post... and this feeling i have right now, was a part of my prediction.

But I didn't realize how proud and blessed I'd feel (maybe because I usually feel prtoud, and always feel blessed!)

I mean, I knew I was going to be grateful for my family and friends who helped guide me here, to this experience, in so many ways... but I didn't know my profound gratitude and emotion would be so palpable, and I'd be so lucky with a crazy cute smart little dog, and I'd be so stoked to get out of this bubble, and also so changed, positively, for having been in it, confined, swamped with work and busy-ness in such a different-than-usual manner -- dog stuff! really! -- as it was such a rich, vivid, positive experience, and I've collected more than a few new, solid friendships. I didn't know, all of that, back then.

Now I do. Here I sit, a lucky man, again.

Thank you.

More -- much! -- very very soon.

SOTP: On Chewie's 1st birthday, "Fluorescent Adolescent" by The Arctic Monkeys, off the 'Favourite Worst Nightmare' album

Friday, August 1, 2008

Whiz Kidz

Chewie thinks I am dominant. She's slightly fearful of me -- she has a stronger-than-usual desire to please, compared to other puppies.

And therefore, she doesn't yet lick me very much. Generally, she's not too much of a licker... and she hasn't touched many others here (a few times, out of vest)... so her licking prowess hasn't quite been displayed.

There's only need for her to lick me, to ramp up the Alerting. Chewie has alerted me twice -- once, to a low, and another time, to a 100 point drop in my blood sugar level, from 190 to 91, which then levelled off at 95 and stayed there (but i didn't go low -- low for most is 80 or under).

When these dogs are learning to alert, we do scent training when we get low (whether they alert us, or we discover the low ourselves, via symptoms and then a blood test). We very specifically get our scent to their noses wit face to face interaction. Then, they're supposed to lick us -- and we praise. Problem was, Chewie wasn't licking much. She'd maybe lick my hand, but not my face. The trainers thought it might be, as happens with puppies, that she saw me as such a strong Pack Leader, that she didn't think she was supposed to lick me.. and therefore did not.

But there is a remedy, and it comes in a can, and tastes great, or awful, depending on how discerning your little tasty buds, on triscuits.

It's Cheese Whiz. Or, as my canister says, Party Cheese.

When I get low, wherever i happen to be, i spread it on my chin, and lips, and do the scent exercises with Chewster. And lo! behold! she licks me, licks me madly.

I did it in the back seat of Shannon's car the other day, in the parking lot of a bowling alley (we were going bowling; i bested Obama)... and then yesterday, we did it in the detergent aisle at Walgreens. There was c whiz EVERYwhere, and i had no napkins. When i finally met my friends later, there was dried cheese whiz (even worse? perhaps) on my chin, and, oddly, part of my earlobe, someone told me in the hallway.

Whatever works! Making out with my dog in public... apparently... may just work. It's gross -- especially with the added 'kink' of processed squooshie cheese being pooted out of a metal canister -- but we are, in fact, a new couple. And new couples kiss, a lot, anywhere they can. We're in this together! We're a team! We're falling in love! (And we love cheese!)

SOTP: "New Love" - Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers


video

Chewie (with an I-E please), the Leo

The votes are in. Chewie with an IE won. Next time, i'll have to ramp up my voter registration and get-out-the-vote operations, because only eleven people voted. "Chewie" -- though -- had a majority, pulling in six votes, from both red and bkue states. Illinois was a true swing state, telling the tale.

So, Chewie it is.

Meantime... we were given all known information about the dogs this week.

Chewie is a Leo... and turns 1 year old on Saturday, tomorrow, August 2nd.

The party planning committee says they may step up. We already had some stuff on the calendar, as it's graduation day... our last day here, as we drive with the ever-generous Jenn and Jae and Jenn's mom to St Louis Saturday evening, before flying home Sunday... but we'll see about the singing.

Today's Chew's last day under one!

As for what we can learn:

Leos born on August 2 have an edgy personality that makes them interesting to others. They are often extremely good-looking individuals who have a desire to shock others with stories about their wild past. Even though these stories are often exaggerated, they see them as part of their "legend."

August 2 people believe that there is no such thing as having too many friends. They often lead an exciting yet troubled love life. They aren't really made for domestic bliss and seem to prefer playing the field for many years. They fall in love in a big way and often break up in a storm of recrimination.

Children and Family

Family is not usually a critical matter in the lives of August 2 individuals. As parents, they can indulge their own youthful nature by becoming part of a child's world and reconcile unhappy memories from the past through the healing miracle of love.

Health

August 2 people live life to the fullest. They are rarely careful about their diet and seldom, if ever, get enough sleep. They require plenty of vitamins and minerals in order to facilitate their good health.

Career and Finances

August 2 people like professions where they are on display. They have an outgoing, joyous personality that lends itself to success as a performer, model, or attorney. They are good at making money and even better at handling it. There is plenty of potential for becoming wealthy, as long as they have the discipline to follow through on their creative ideas and concepts.

Dreams and Goals

August 2 people see no barriers to making their goals come true. They want it all and have the chance to achieve their dreams if they keep their enthusiasm at a high pitch. Their one professional failing, lax work habits, must be corrected.

Famous People born on August 2nd:

1932 Peter O'Toole (actor)

1939 Wes Craven (film director)

1964 Mary-Louise Parker (actress)

Leo Itself:
As the sun moves into Leo we see a lot of stars, maybe not always famous but all in their own minds. The Leo men are as royal as their sign being accepted and sometimes worshiped by most around them. Both men and woman are of the theater, they are the best and the most believable. Here are a few examples; Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, Bill Clinton, Walter Payton, Connie Chung and the list goes on. You will learn more as we look into the individual days that make up the Leo legacy.

SOTP: "Dog Got A Bone" by The Beta Band, off the album Three E.P.'s

Strong Gazes

Chewie is okay, limping slightly, but cool. We spent the day at a kids' theme parkey place yesterday, and while she was a little freaked at first by the loud roller coastery zoom zoom noises, she settled down fine. Watching me closely with her wide emotion-filled eyes, but seemingly fine, even pleased.

The trainers and their kids, as we played games and licked ice cream cones and walked and talked and relaxed a bit, tried to 'steal' our dogs -- with some success. One girl, Jennifer, a teenager, was playing air jockey with her mom in the loud game room. She had Buster in a downstay, her foot on the leash, but reached forward to slap the puck, leaned off the leash, and when she came down, it wasn't there... and one of the trainer's nine year old kids (following instructions) had made off with Buster.

She wigged out a bit and they brought Busterboy back... but the lesson was clear. Michele, in fact, says she gets two emails a week on average, about service dogs stolen -- and it's in a public place nearly every time. They are well trained non-biting dogs, worth a lot of money. She has been stern -- and we have been non-believing: People WILL try to take your dog, touch your dog, step on your dog. They will be pissed you have it in a public place; they will ask you why, since you're "not blind." They will deny you your federal civil rights -- try to keep you out of this place and that.

And, they will pick up a not-held leash, and walk away. Which is why the dogs are trained to stay, even if being pulled, unless you give a command. It is the hardest thing for them to learn -- to stay even when being dragged. But they're supposed to plant their feet, not move, like a cartoon Fred Flinstone trying to stop his car -- supposed to BE, in fact, dragged... and never break, never walk with the dogthief.

So, that lesson was instilled.

They tried to steal every dog, successful sometimes. They targeted Chewie but I got the game and had her in my sights as I played skeeball and dealornodeal, that crazy in the groove! dance game, some shoot em up stuff. Chewie was great -- she looks at me when approached by someone else, her eyes lasering in on me, wondering, quizzical, waiting for me to speak, which I do, to listening ears.

They did manage to 'steal' her, at the very end, when we were sitting in a large laughey group eating hamburgers and drinking sodas. I went up to get more tomatoes, and said, I'm watching. Don't take her unless you wanna pick up her poop. (It's always about poop, isn't it?)

Spooning diced redfruit on my angus, I watched as they did, in fact, swipe her, and hustled her off somewhere I couldn't see.... so, i had a few minutes of Chewielessness.

I did not enjoy it.. though i must admit there was a wee bit of freedom.

Yes, i was playing tough, by not going after her, not doing the freakout that everyone else had done -- i'd learned my lesson, our lessons were instilled... and i was annoyed and didn't go after her. Ate. Cleaned. Packed up. Walked out to go home. Stood by my car until they walked Chewie happily over. I wasn't playing their childish games (and acted a bit childish by not, i know).... though i was happy they DID say she wouldn't budge, had to be dragged, and resisted the way she is supposed to.

Good girl.

I went and got a haircut last night, in the mall... and Chewster was perfect. I hardly even thought anything of it... just walked to the mall, as i'll do in the real world, walking anywhere... brought her inside, laid her down until my name was called, as she watched me with her big brown eyes, walked her (as people stared and stared and stared -- if you hate being gazed upon, you'll dislike your service dog handler status) to our station, and out her down to my left, away from the swaths of human hair (ick) on the ground, most of it the deep browns and black colors of Chew herself. I sat down, not holding the leash. It didn't reach. I looked. She was staring at me, waiting for instructions. I got her up, swept a hairless path away with my sneaker, and put her under the stylist's counter, holding the leash in my lap. She was perfect throughout, sniffing a bit (and told No), watching me closely, and checking out the stylist swing her long dark-and-maroon-streaked hair about, looking back at me, and laying chin-in-paws.

Real worldy, that was, though we're not quite there.

On the way, I heard not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but six -- six! -- little kids start crying because they wanted to 'pet the doggie.' Some parents look at us and know -- "You can't!" they till their little tiny kid. "That's a working dog!" ... Good Mommy! God Daddy! ... and if the parents look as if they're gonna ask, "Can Junior pet your pooch?" i jump in first, say, "Hi!" and then, to MY girl, "Heel!" while miving briskly yonder, knowing eyes are on my back.

I can't stop for everyone. Some people walk straight up to you and ask about them. Some people walk right up and put their hands out for the dogs to sniff; I pull her back and say something to the effect of, 'Please don't touch her. She's working.' -- though I do it as nicely as possible.

I was walking down the hotel hallway one night, grabbing my forgotten notebook, and walked past the father of one of the kids in our class. Another child, parentless, sprinted past the both of us... and when I got to my door, he came up behind me -- he's a fellow White Sox fan, and I thought maybe he was gonna give me a baseball score -- and said, Just so you know... that kid just petted Chewie as he walked past... he got past YOU, and put his hand on Chewie's shoulders, and patted all the way down her back to her tail as he ran past.

Just so you know.

Not that it's a huge deal, though if it happened fifty times a day I'd have to takes some steps to avoid or correct. But, it's gonna happen. My eyes (especially MY eyes) cannot be everywhere. But my sharp tongue will not, will never, hold back.

I think we'll be okay, on Monday, heading to a newsroom off a city bus or train, zipping around downtown, buying coffee and lunch, then groceries and such. Living. Having a day. Then an evening. Then, if blessed, doing it again, again, and again again.

I do, I do, I do think she'll be good, watching me, while we walk and live, play and work, being watched constantly, being seen and recognized, by many eyes. It'll be me doing my thing, as ever, and Chewie, listening best she can with that bright little pulsing doggy brain, over and again, one day at a time.

SOTP: "These Eyes" by The Guess Who.