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The littlebrowndog in Transition
12/18/2015 9:56:30 AM



Riley came into my life one afternoon at the local Humane Society. He was the loud, barking, jumping littlebrowndog and the dog I found least appealing of the available orphans that day.

Why the littlebrowndog?

My adult son was to be a co-owner of any dog we selected that afternoon at the Humane Society, and while I was attracted to three other dogs, he kept walking back to the large cage where the littlebrowndog was throwing a hissy-fit. Granted the 50 pound, pitbull mix was handsome, but he was a pitbull and the only thing I knew about the breed came from the bad press that seemed to follow them around.

I persisted and made three separate trips outside with the other dogs I was interested in, but each was rather lackluster and one was a bit scary. Finally my son convinced me to try the loud littlebrowndog on for size and I reluctantly agreed. The young woman from the Humane Society staff who accompanied us assured me that any dog they displayed for adoption has passed rigorous testing, including testing for aggression. As soon as we entered the fenced in area and sat down, the littlebrowndog picked up a stuffed toy and literally threw it into my son's lap.. At that moment, I knew any protest I might make against adopting this energized bundle of muscle and fur would fall on deaf ears.

After completing the paperwork, writing the check, and buying a new collar and leash. the three of us stood in the Humane Society parking lot wondering what to do next. The littlebrowndog silently refused to get in the back seat of the car by sitting down on the pavement. It took a few minutes of coaxing to get him to climb in and I took that reluctance as a sign of an intelligent dog. By the time we arrived home twenty minutes later, the littlebrowndog had a new name, Riley, along with a new home.

Flash forward four years. My son has moved into an apartment,and has begun a job that requires him to work long hours. The thelittlebrown dog and I are roommates and have become fast friends.

The Transition

It's all about a shabby old couch. You know that feeling when you walk into a room and realize for the first time that the furniture looks worn-out, that the material on the chaise you have spent years relaxing in is looking thin and shiny, that the couch the littlebrowndog has made his own looks a little too doggy. Once that thought creeps in, it becomes impossible to ignore, impossible to pretend. Once the decision is made to buy new furniture, then, as any animal lover knows, the problem becomes how to replace the shabby couch while acknowledging that particular piece of furniture really belongs to the dog.

The Plan

I decided to use the three weeks before I began painting and updating the room as a transition period for the littlebrowndog. My first step was to buy a new, orthopedic, dog bed and to clear out a particular spot in the room for the new bed. When I brought the new dog bed home, it was love at first sight. When I laid it on the floor, Riley immediately climbed on top and began sniffing. Throughout that evening he alternated between the old couch and new bed but when push came to shove at the end of the night he curled under the slipcover and fell asleep on the couch, leaving his new bed empty in the dark.

That's when it occurred to me that the slipcover was the littlebrowndog's "Linus blanket," so I went back to the store and bought him his very first blanket. Who knew there are such things as blankets made exclusively for dogs? As soon as I unwrapped the blanket, Riley took it from me and dragged it with him wherever he went that night. I was in the kitchen and called him. He came running down the hall dragging his new blanket behind him, it was absolutely adorable to watch. But, again, when he fell asleep that night the blanket was abandoned for the couch and slipcover.

And so we wait ...

A few days have gone by now. Riley still drags the blanket with him most of the time and when I find it in a heap on the floor I pick it up and thrown it on his new dog bed. During the evening he goes to the bed and lays on the blanket, then wanders back to the couch. I have noticed that he has taken to tossing the new blanket over his head, attempting to cover himself with it. Two more weeks and his shabby old couch will be gone. I am optimistic that the littlebrowndog will be ready for the transition by then.

Where's the Snow?
12/11/2015 2:40:19 PM

It's less than two weeks until Christmas Day here near Albany, NY, and although I'm certainly not complaining, there's not a flake of snow on the ground. The grass in my front lawn and backyard is still green, and the ground hasn't frozen yet. Last year at this time we had already been pounded with one major snowstorm after another and we were already measuring our snowstorms in feet rather than inches.

A part of me loves this unusually mild weather. Arriving at work in the morning without my heart beating out of my chest because of the stress from driving in a Nor'easter snowstorm, is a relief. Not worrying about getting stuck in my own driveway at the end of the workday because the city snow plows dumped a foot of snow at the entrance is a relief. Falling asleep at night without trying to decide if I should make the attempt to get to work the next morning, if it's worth risking life and limb, is a relief. It's even appealing to hop in the car and go Christmas shopping without listening to the day's weather report first, do I need boots, gloves and scarves? What time will the snow start? Better be home by then.

BUT, on the flip side, there is something special about Christmas shopping with snow on the ground, something magical about watching fresh white snow flakes sparkle as they drift down under the streetlights, and anyone who has ever seen a fresh layer of soft white snow shimmering on the ground would be hard pressed to choose snow-less Decembers instead.

Perhaps the issue here is choice. If I could choose to be a kid again, home from school, my snowsuit warming on the hot radiator, mom searching the house for my one lost mitten, then pulling on my navy blue rubber boots over warm wool socks, stuffing the pants leg of my snow suit into the top of my boot, struggling to force the ankle strap to close, then a snow-less December would be unthinkable, unacceptable, inconceivable!

So, I sit here conflicted. The adult me would be happy to get through the entire winter without a drop of snow, but the kid in me, oh, the kid in me, wants to find my round metal snow saucer, drag it across the street and fly down the mounds of snow in reckless abandon laughing alongside my childhood friends while our cheeks grow red and our socks collect tiny ice balls of snow.

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