Note: The following is a conversation that took place with Jenna, our 13 year old Australian Shepherd. Jenna wanted it to be known that she is not complaining about her lot in life; rather, she is glad that both Pete and I are being so accommodating in her advanced age.
Alys: Jenna, how are you doing today?
Jenna: I was so-so a moment ago. But now that you have returned from peeing, I’m doing far better.
A: Why is this?
J: I get anxious when I’m left alone.
A: Why is this?
J: I don’t know. In the words of Ranger the Goat, “It just is.”
A: Jenna, you know you are not alone. There are many dogs out there just like you – they get anxious when their owners go and do other things. But give me a break, I should be able to go and pee without you getting your knickers in a knot.
J: But I am not one of these other dogs. Unknot your knickers please, and take me with you down the stairs when you go and pee.
A: Why can’t you be like other dogs?
J: Because I don’t like other dogs.
A: Yes, I have noticed that you don’t enjoy interacting with other dogs.
J: Actually, other dogs mystify me. All they want to do is sniff butt. This is disgusting. I just don’t get it.
A: You don’t have a tail. If you had one, would you feel differently about this?
J: My tail was lopped off before my eyes were open, so I have no idea about how I’d feel about other dogs if I still had one.
A: Well then, what do you know?
J: I can say with great certainty that I’m growing old. This past year has brought this to the forefront of my consciousness.
A: How so?
J: Well, you have taken me to the veterinarian’s office three times in the past two months. I forgot what the first visit was for. The second time around they removed the zit off my back. Then the third time they removed the abscess on my paw. The latter was last week. See? I’m walking around with this huge bandage on my foot.
A: About the zit. It was a mast cell carcinoma. If they didn’t remove it, it would have gotten bigger and possibly killed you.
J: Goodness gracious.
A: Yes, goodness gracious.
J: Well, they shaved a huge patch of hair off my back. Rainbow and Ryder were aghast.
A: They’re dogs. Are you friends?
A: How so?
J: Rainbow and I agreed on the day I moved in here to stay out of one another’s way. And this has worked out well for us.
A: And Ryder?
J: Ryder is a very tenacious dog. Just now, you and Pete are figuring out how to deal with her. You ignore her when she jumps on you when you’re eating. I say, don’t give in. If you do, she will walk all over you in any and all ways.
A: Anything else?
J: While we’re on the subject of other dogs, I don’t understand why Ryder is so obsessed with the goats. Herding, it’s all she wants to do, and all she wants to talk about. I get tired watching her.
A: I don’t know why she is the way she is. But is there anything else we can do to make you feel more comfortable here at Hotel Squalor Holler?
J: Stick close. That’s all I ask. Stick close.
247. 9/16/14: Women who Run with Horses