Monday, June 3, 2013

Old dogs and new horses

Our ancient terrier, Under Dog, has become increasingly incontinent, aggressive, anxious, and annoying.  On Friday night I was alone in the house, as my daughter's at the beach with a friend, and my husband and son were golfing in Atlanta.  I thought of throwing a wild party, but the idea of getting into my pajamas early, having a glass of wine, and reading a book was too seductive.  I was never much of a party animal anyhow.

Along about 2am, Under Dog began to bark.  He became a canine metronome: 'Arf-ARF! Arf-ARF! Arf-ARF!" until I thought I'd lose my mind.  I know from prior bitter experience that he does not need to be taken outside or given water or anything else except perhaps to have his lips superglued together.  He's in the mudroom, in his crate, next to the crate containing our other housedog, and he's having a full-fledged anxiety attack, and nothing will fix it.  He used to do this every several months or so, but he's panicking a lot more often now.  Sometimes my husband and I will move his crate into the garage to muffle the yelps.  Friday I just put the pillows over my head, and, with the dog, marked off the hours.  3 am.  4.

At 7:45, showered and getting dressed, I stuck my head out the bedroom door and yelled, "Under Dog, shut the ---- up!"  His barking ceased immediately.

I should have yelled that at 2 am.

Meanwhile Under now pees at random in the house repeatedly throughout the day, regardless of how many times I take him outside.  He pees right in front of me, something he's never done before.  I googled "demented dogs" and sure enough, he's likely got canine senility.  I'm taking him to the vet on Thursday in case there's some sort of help for him, but meanwhile, while running errands today, I bought an electroshock bark collar and a pack of puppy pads, because he barked all night Saturday and Sunday, too, and because maybe he'll pee on the pads instead of my good rugs.

Meanwhile, I had gotten up on Saturday to go on one of the hunt's summer trail rides.  This one wasn't far from my house--1000 acres of meadow, forest, and mountain, with a gorgeous view at the summit.  Sarah loves this sort of thing; she was as happy as a horse can get.  At one point we came to a wide meadow with a strip mowed around it, where those of us who wanted to canter could, while the walk/trot group met us farther down the trail.  My friends Judith and Holly promptly asked if they could canter really fast, and I fell in behind them, but then it turned out Holly's idea of "really fast" was considerably slower than Judith's and mine, so we passed her and lit out.  Judith rides a 22-year-old former racehorse named Rick.  Rick can run, but Sarah did her womanly best to keep up with him.  Sarah looks at least half draft, but she's actually 3/4 thoroughbred, and sometimes she lets her inner racehorse have the upper hand.

I was about halfway through the 3 hour ride when it struck me suddenly that a year ago when I'd done the same ride I'd been on Gully, not Sarah.  It was the last difficult thing Gully and I did together--and I certainly kept to the walk/trot group with him.  The part that surprised me was the realization that I felt as comfortable on Sarah's back now as I had on Gully's then--and I'd ridden Gully for 13 years.  Sarah and I are becoming more of a team than I realized.  I'm very glad.