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September 15, 2013: High Maintenance

Pete and I pride ourselves on being good houseguests, and in fact this summer have refined the art. My friend Christopher calls visitations “mooching the existence,” but in this case this is not an apt term. We don’t mooch. We take people out to eat, and clean up behind ourselves. And we try as best we can to be like toilet paper – indispensable.

Yes, we used to be low maintenance. Back in the day we had just one dog. Bootleg was such a good houseguest that after, many who we visited acquired dogs of their own.

We became mid-maintenance after we got Rainbow. This made itself apparent when after a few weeks of new dog

ownership, we visited my sister, Eleanor. She was then living semi-communally with Jerry, who was then a fairly uptight guy. Rainbow, maybe ill, both pooped and threw up on the floor. And she raced about barking incessantly.

We upped the anti just a bit with the acquisition of the horses. Raudi is a talker, and if any other horses are around, she’ll extend greetings, and let them know she is in the area.

We knew that visiting others with two horses and two dogs in hand would require more vigilance on our part because it’s way over the top. We tried, upon arriving at Robin’s, to introduce Sheba, her Australian Shepherd/Husky/Akita mix to our dogs, but Sheba made it clear that they were interlopers. So we kept them separate, alternating having our dogs and her dog in the yard and house. In the meantime, Raudi was besot with the neighborhood mules and horses. However, we kept to a routine, dogs in/dogs out. And I kept plying Raudi with hay. Add to potential dissension – Robin’s neighbors have been giving her a hard time. Most recently, one of them tried to run her over when she was out walking on the road.

To her credit, the weak link – Ryder, has been doing quite well travel-wise. She sleeps and chews on her bones when we are in transit. And she appears to be truck-broken. And she has been doing well when in the vicinity of other dogs. However, we suspect that she has spent most of her life outside, and therefore is not yet house socialized. She also has not figured out what objects are hers and what objects are not. And she barks. So she has not, as has Rainbow, learned how to be a good guest.

Ryder (we learned) at this point in time is also prone to separation anxiety. None of the above is good – in particular, the separation anxiety issue put us squarely into the category of high maintenance visitors. A case in point: Pete and Al were out and about, so Robin and I decided to go out and about. We went to check out the college and Coeur d’Alene. After a bit we connected with our husbands via the phone, and decided to go out and eat. Robin and I had narrowed it down to Thai when Robin’s phone rang. I heard her say “Border Collie? Orange and black collar? Yeah, I’ll check.” Before she could say anything, I replied, “yeah, that’s her.”

We immediately did a route change about face and went and retrieved Ryder. She was at Robin’s neighbor’s place. I, of course, apologized profusely to Martha and Oscar, who were extremely understanding. They’d quickly grabbed her, and put her on a leash. This, they said, in order to keep her away from their feral cat, who Martha added “had recently given a local coyote a hard time.”

We returned to Robyn’s place. Ryder, once inside, immediately began roaming around the house, gathering up Sheba’s toys. She grouped them together, then took them elsewhere. She also included some non-toy items in the mix, like the bathroom floor mat.

We’d originally planned to leave on Monday morning. Ryder’s behavior of course provided us with even more incentive to get going early. As the dog jumped on and off the bed, I came up with what I called the number one visitation axiom: the more high maintenance you are, the shorter your visit should be.

Next: 177: 9/16/13: The Farragut State Park Carriage System