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BeeBee and Baby

Posted Jul 22 2008 8:22pm

The Baby in this post is my 2-year-old granddaughter, but for alliterative purposes, I co-opted the name her cousin Lauren calls her, Baby Geneva. BeeBee and I stayed with Geneva last weekend while my son and his wife took some much needed time off and I saw a side of Bee I’d never seen before. Even more interesting, I didn’t realize its full meaning until after we were home again.

When we first arrived, Geneva was still at daycare so I wasn’t paying as much attention to what was going on as I should have been. Consequently, I didn’t realize that the resident cat, Lena, was downstairs until she suddenly came flying by with Bee in hot pursuit. BeeBeelovesto play with my cat, but Lena probably didn’t know that and had no desire to learn. Before I could grab Bee, Lena shot up the stairs, but Bee didn’t realize this and made a few more circuits hoping to catch up with her. After that, Lena made herself scarce and my daughter-in-law created a private space for her to eat and drink in the basement. When Lena wasn’t there, she was on top of or under the bed in the master bedroom upstairs to which Bee had no access.

As expected, Bee was excited when she first saw Geneva, but she responded well to kenneling to take the edge off before Geneva got home from daycare, than calming pressure on shoulder and hips coupled with tethering to the leg of the kitchen table. Based on her response to these activities over the months we’ve been together, limiting her motion enables her to process stimulus input more effectively and prevents her from overloading. It’s easy to tell when Bee overloads because she lets loose with high, piercing barks and jumps up repeatedly. Even if you know and love her like I do, it’s annoying.

Once Bee settled down I began implementing The Plan, The Plan being that Geneva and I would walk BeeBee around the fenced yard with Bee on my left, me holding the bulk of her leash in the middle, and Geneva holding the end of the leash on my right. That didn’t last long because it soon became clear that Bee had no intention of going anywhere other than where we were going while she was leashed. Although I was always right there, it wasn’t long before Geneva was walking Bee herself and we spent many hours walking around that yard. In fact, I soon felt like I was on first-name basis with the individual blades of grass I’d seen them all so many times.

Needless to say, I also got pretty good at cleaning up after Bee. Granted this sounds like an idiot simple task, but everything is more complicated when there’s a very active 2-year-old around, the grass is high, and one is wearing bifocals. It’s amazing how fast one can miss a pile of dog-do and said active toddler can find it under those circumstances. “Look, look! See, see! Oh, oh. Yucky!!!” Call me anal, but I didn’t want to go there.

Because of this, part of my walking-in-the-yard ensemble included two garden trowels. One to scoop with and one to scoop onto. Not exactly haute couture, but very functional. In fact, I got so good with my tools that I could even get one trowel under Bee so she defecated right on it. Alas, this isn’t the kind of skill that impresses many, and I doubted the 2-3 it might lived in that neighborhood, so I limited my use of this newly discovered skill to when no one else was around.

If this gives the impression that not much went on during those walks around the yard, that’s pretty much true with two notable exceptions. One was a virtual downpour of spiraling maple seeds, which I’ve since discovered are actually maple fruits with the lovely name ofsamarathat filled the air like thousands of miniature pinwheels.The majority were the familiar light brown color, but there were also much smaller ones that were green and magenta. Watching them spin in the wind with the brilliant blue sky behind them and the sun turning the brown to gold was a spectacular site. Hearing them at night hitting the roof was an eerie experience. Imagine being in shower of hale with wings. 

The other notable outdoor event occurred when I noticed Lena observing us from her perch on the sill of a basement window. Because she was eye level with Bee, I figured this would not be good. However, before I could point this out to Geneva, she took Bee right up to the window, squatted down and talked to the cat, and Lena spent all of her time hissing at the dog. Throughout all this Bee was oblivious to Lena’s presence.  If I had to guess, I’d say this resulted from a combination of the wind that caused her to focus on more readily available scents, plus the glare on the glass that rendered the cat invisible to an animal with Bee’s decreased vision.

Inside the house, Bee was equally well-behaved although she quickly proved that the part of her brain that contains the Little Kid Eating = Free Food on the Floor Center works fine. Because of that, she spent all of Geneva’s mealtimes tethered to the leg of the kitchen table where she quickly fell asleep. When Geneva was napping and I was working, she’d spend a few seconds looking for Lena and then sleep at my feet. When Geneva was awake, she wanted to be where Geneva was and had less interest in Geneva’s toys that Geneva had in Bee’s. The one exception was Mr Potatohead’s arms for reasons I can’t guess unless it was because Mr Potatohead was a horse’s patootie inToy Story.But we didn’t watch that movie until later after I threw the cable/TV/DVD/alien-summoning device into a seizure that made watching anything else impossible.

My big concern relative to Bee prior to our arrival was the zoomies, the zoomies being those racing spells dogs get into, either as a form of celebration or a stress-reliever, depending on the context in which they occur. BeeBee, Frica, and now Ollie all experience several daily sessions of these both inside and out. In Bee’s case, these begin with a peculiar jump in which she arches her neck, lifts the front end of her body, and leaps forward. I assume she does this to create the momentum she needs to get her uncoordinated legs working in a coordinated manner sufficient to reach zoomie speed. Even though the resultant gait isn’t normal, it does enable her to move low to the ground at an impressive speed, although she can’t turn as quickly or maintain the pace for as long as the other two.

When she zooms indoors, she sometimes likes to zoom in and out of her crate or under the dog couch in addition to making repeat circuits around the center chimney. These variations usually result in the crate being propelled across the floor and her ricocheting off the couch because she lacks the fine motor skills to avoid collision.

Although the joie de vivre communicated at such times always delights me, the idea of a 2-year-old getting clobbered by Bee during a fly-by or my dog hitting someone else’s nondog furniture did not, so I was always on zoomie alert. But not once during the long weekend did BeeBee zoom.

The trip home was as uneventful as the trip to my son’s, but that all changed after we arrived. Such a joyful canine reunion! Purely speculation on my part, but the dogs’ interactions so reminded me of those that occur when little kids are reunited after similar interludes away from their favorite playmates. All of them were vocalizing at once as if trying to describe what they experienced and ask about the other’s experiences during the separation. No sooner did I let them out than they zoomed.

And zoomed.

And zoomed some more. 

In addition to pulling out all the toys I’d just put back in the toy box, they zoomed inside, too.

But I’d expected them to do that. What I didn’t expect is that, in the week after we got home, Bee would have her own private zoomies, some of them even when the other dogs were asleep. It was only then that I realized how much she had contained herself during all those walks with Geneva and as they played together in the house.  Because she’d done this so willingly and seemingly effortlessly, it never dawned on me how much self-control this required.

Does this mean that I think Bee didn’t enjoy herself with Geneva? Not at all. I think she enjoyed all the new challenges and experiences every bit as much as I did. But once she got back in her familiar environment, she wanted to celebrate all the new experiences she had survived (mostly all by herself!) and all the familiar ones here that she’s come to love and trust in our time together.

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