I get home from work around 4 o’clock three days a week. Tsunami, with her dog ears, has heard the car lock beep, or my key in the door, or she smelled me walking up the path. By the time I open the front door she’s waiting at the back door to be let in. It’s not a calm wait at all. She paces back and forth and jumps up on the windows. She whines, pleading to be let in. I make her sit and I wait until she’s calmed down before I open the door. As soon as the door opens, though, the calm that I forced up on her leaves. She runs around the house, back and forth down the hall. She runs back to me, whining to be petted and loved. I make her sit again, trying to calm her down. Until she calms down I ignore her and go about my business of changing for the dog park. I go upstairs and change into clothes suitable for the dog park – jeans that can be dirtied with dog drool and dirt, shoes to protect my feet from all the sticks and burrs in the park, and a long-sleeved shirt to keep the bugs away.
We take Tsunami to the dog park every day because without it she is a nut all night. When she injured her leg last month we spent most of our evenings keeping her from digging in the backyard or playing fetch down our small hallway.When we first started taking Tsunami to the dog park we were the only ones going. We had to come up with new ways to get her to run around rather than just sniff every blade of grass. I never saw other dogs, but when Wes would come home he would have story after story of new dogs he’d met. Gradually, more dogs started coming regularly and we started making friends with their owners.
Every day Tsunami, Spanky, Efes and Buffy are at the park. Their owners and Wes and I pretty much own the dog park. We hand out bags to all the owners who forget (every day) to bring bags to pick up their poop. Now instead of forcing Tsunami to run around, she runs on her own. Chasing other dogs and sticks and tennis balls. She comes back to us for water and a little love, but mostly she plays.
By the time we get her back home she’s exhausted. The walk to the park is her pulling on the leash, Hurry! she seems to be saying. On the way home she lags behind, slowly making her way home. She stops to smell a few blades of grass but mostly she focuses on staying upright and getting home. Once she gets home she heads straight to her water bowl. Sometimes she has a few bites of dinner. Within minutes, she’s passed out on the floor while Wes and I make dinner.
On good nights she wakes up to finish her dinner and then falls back asleep. Sometimes she begs us to snuggle with her, and one or the other of us complies because I honestly don’t know anything sweeter than a sleeping puppy in your lap. But some night it’s obvious that she doesn’t think that hour at the park just wasn’t enough and suddenly we’re yelling at her to stop digging or to take that rope outside. Sometimes we force her into her bed in the living room, making her Stay! It takes a few moments, but soon she’s asleep, tired as ever she just needed a reminder that it’s now rest time.
Sometimes she makes me scream and sometimes I want to cry with frustration. Sometimes I lose my shit with her over small things she does and that scares me. It scares me how quickly I can turn from her loving “mom” to the crazy lady yelling at her. But then she calms down and snuggles into my lap, nudging her nose between my side and arm, and she sleeps. Sometimes I hear her snoring while she sleeps in her kennel next to our bed and I forget what a shit she was that afternoon.
She is awful and wonderful all at the same time.