One family. One big, black dog. Endless adventures.

Woof!

Just a quick hello. Today, Loki taught an 11-year-old what it’s like to work very hard to get a floor clean, only to have a huge black fur ball mess it up again before you’re even finished. He’s a teacher, that Loki.

Shades of Linus

Loki has a blankie.

We first handed it to him months ago, when we were still trying to provide him with a bed of his own. We bought him a proper dog bed, mind you, but he refused to sleep on it. Instead, he used it as a toy. He’d shake it around, knock things over and finally settle down to chew on it.

Yes, it was a large dog bed. It was not particularly light. And yes, I said he could shake it around. And toss it across the room, for that matter.

The dog bed wen to the basement.

We tried giving him an old blanket, but he didn’t pay too much attention to it, so it landed in the closet.

A few weeks ago, while I was cleaning out the closet, Loki stuck his nose in and grabbed the blanket and gave it a good shake. Then he trotted off with it. That was fine: He knows it’s his. (No, really. Loki would NEVER treat one of the other blankets lying around the house that way.)

Since then, Loki has become very attached to his blankie. He cuddles with it. He plays with it. When I sit down in the evening to watch TV with a blanket on my lap, Loki grabs his blankie and snuggles up, too.

It’s adorable, actually.

There’s just one thing: His blankie is this garish purple Dora the Explorer fleece that Daughter outgrew years ago. It’s hideous. And now it’s always underfoot.

That’s my boy.

Giving thanks

I have plenty of things to be thankful for, but I don’t have entire blogs dedicated to most of them.

So let’s discuss why I’m thankful for Loki.

I’m thankful for that fur, and the way I can bury my face in his shoulders in soak in puppy joy.

I’m thankful he’s tall, because I don’t have to bend over much to pet him. That’s huge when you’ve got a bad back.

I’m thankful for the way he barks when he sees strangers in our yard at night, and for the THUMP when he plops down at the side of my bed.

I’m thankful for the way that big, powerful, rambunctious dog patiently allows my daughter to fawn over him, recline on him and generally harass him mercilessly. No, he doesn’t just allow it: He loves it.

I’m thankful that because of Loki, I now exercise regularly. And I’ve met a whole lot more of the people in our village, particularly the dog lovers.

I’m thankful for all the things Loki has taught me, particularly the things I’ve learned about myself.

I’m thankful for the way Loki loves to look at the sky. He reminds me to look up, too.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Please keep the door shut

I have been working with Loki lately on door etiquette. When it’s time to go outside, he has to sit down before I open the door. He has to remain seated while I go outside, and he’s not to move until I call him.

It’s actually going rather well.

Unfortunately, he has apparently decided these rules do not apply when I’m not around.

When one of Daughter’s friends opened the door Saturday afternoon, he bolted. He enjoyed a lovely romped through the woods near our home. He ate something gross-smelling and even snuck in a quick swim. Oh, joy.

We’ll keep working on the whole door etiquette thing. That will probably be easier than trying to get 10-year-olds to stop going in and out of the house every 10 minutes.

One year later

It was one year ago this week that we first brought Loki home.

That’s hard to believe.

I remember very clearly the scene at the animal shelter. It was very nearly closing time on a Saturday, so as soon as we decided we wanted to bring Loki home, the staff rushed us through the adoption process. One staffer took him into their clinic to get his shots and a microchip; someone else took us to the front office to fill out the requisite paperwork.

When they brought him out front for us, there was a family with small children in the room. They were fascinated by this huge animal, but frightened, too. He was… BIG. And filthy. And I wasn’t completely sure he was friendly. Sure, he seemed friendly, but what if he wasn’t? Want if he turned out to be mean? I started wondering what we’d done.

As we walked out into the summer heat, I have to admit I was wondering if it was too late to change our minds. My husband has admitted he was thinking pretty much the same thing. When I saw this huge dog standing next to our car, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to get him in. In fact, I was certain we WOULDN’T be able to get him in there if he didn’t want to go. With the cloud of gnats that surrounded him and the way he was starting to drool… And the way he’d scared those kids… Uhhhh…

I suspect it was pure stubbornness that kept me going. I didn’t want to be wrong, so I just kept going.

All through the wretched weeks that followed, I held firmly to the dream that this creature could someday be one awesome pet.

When he became deathly ill, I held on to that idea. When he started feeling better and turned into a wild dog, I held on. When children cried at my doorstep because they feared encountering my big, frantically friendly furball, I wavered. When his constant mouthing made even my own daughter a bit afraid, I snatched onto the last shreds of that dream… but didn’t let go. If he had meant to hurt her, he would have, I told myself.

When he snarled at me, knocked me on my can and generally scared the daylights out of me, I dug in one last time — and started training myself.

A little research confirmed that some dogs really do growl convincingly when they’re having fun. Turns out that’s what Loki does. He thought we were having a whole lot of fun.

I had to make it clear to him that I was NOT having fun. That wasn’t easy.

We had to teach ourselves before we could teach Loki. Together, my family worked at it. Loki worked, too. He’s big and he’s young, but ultimately, he’s a very bright dog who loves us and wants to please us.

And now, we have our Loki. He’s awesome.

He’s well-groomed, well-behaved, healthy and very, VERY cuddly. I love to bury my face in his soft, luxurious fur. He’s like the biggest, softest teddy bear ever, come to life. Unless he somehow gets the idea you’re messing with one of his people: then watch out. I would not want to be you.

He’s a teddy bear, a tough guy, and very much a ladies’ man. (Thank heavens we had him neutered as soon as he was healthy enough for surgery.)

He barrels toward me full-speed, skids to a stop, sits and daintily licks peanut butter from my finger. He greets me at the door, sleeps at my feet and makes sure my life is never boring.

He is my Loki, and I love him.

Happy Fourth of July

Loki shows his colors on the Fourth.

Loki wore a pair of flags for our morning stroll into the village. He looked quite patriotic as we set out.

We had a lovely stroll at first, but after the first mile and a half, the affects of the heat set in. I was wearing jeans and an oversized (but patriotic) T-shirt; Loki has that fur. It was HOT out there, and getting hotter fast. We were both feeling it.

We made it home, but I confess I was tempted to call my husband and ask for a ride. As soon as we got back to the house, I started closing windows. I switched on the AC on my way to get Loki some water. I put food in his bowl, but he took one look at it and walked away. I understood completely. It took me a while to get around to eating breakfast, too.

I went ahead and put my flags out in the yard — some small ones along the street and the bigger one from the post of our porch. Then I locked the door and swore ¬†I wasn’t setting foot outside again until fireworks time.

I spent the rest of the morning watching the Tour de France.

Ah, the joys of summer in Ohio.

I was on the phone with Steve Friday when he suddenly interrupted himself: “I need to see if that’s a dog in our back yard.”

Huh?

“It could be a coyote or a fox — it’s out by the shed.”

There was a long stretch while I talked him through finding the binoculars in the junk drawer and he tried to catch sight of the critter while it wasn’t hidden in shadow. Eventually, he decided it was a dog after all, and we assumed it would wander off eventually.

But when Loki and I arrived home from that evening’s walk, our neighbor was standing in our yard.

Daisy peeks out from her campsite in our back yard.

“Have you gotten a good look at that animal that’s been hanging around by your shed? Are you sure it’s a dog?” she asked, sounding a wee bit concerned.

I told her Steve had gotten a look at it with binoculars and said it was a dog… but I lost no timing herding Loki and my daughter into the house. Then I ventured out with my trusty telephoto lens.

The first shot confirmed it was a dog, because coyotes and foxes generally don’t wear collars. Then the dog ducked out of sight and I again forgot about it.

The next day, the dog was still around. The neighbor said she’d thought about feeding it. Oh, no…¬†Feeding a stray is dangerous on so many levels.

Of course I fed it.

I crept down to the shed with a bowl full of food and a pocket full of bacon treats. The dog wouldn’t let me get close to it, but I got a good look. It was a beautiful, elderly animal. It looked fairly healthy, but was very, very frightened. I tried tossing it treats, but it retreated under the shed. I left the bowl of food in the grass and went back in the house. Eventually, the animal crept out and started eating hungrily.

“Loki, you might have a friend,” I muttered.

Steve went down to see if he’d have any better luck calling it. It retreated from him, too, but he returned to the house with a plan.

“I’m going down to the market,” he said. The front window of the village general store is a clearing house of local information. If someone in the area was looking for a lost dog, there would be a notice there.

Sure enough, he found a poster on the window and called the number. The people were at our house even before Steve made it home.

It turns out the dog, Daisy, had been rescued after spending years in a puppy mill. She’s very timid, but very much loved.

How much so? The woman who owns her climbed under the shed to get her.

There are things living under there. Some of the past residents had fuzzy black with white stripes down their backs. Snakes. Mice. Who knows what else.

Daisy is LOVED.

And now, thanks to Steve, she is home.