Lacey’s Routine: Dog Story 2 by Ron Steinman
Recently my daughter Linda sent me a story from London she saw in the Daily Mail about photographer Amanda Jones and her project, “Dog Years: Faithful Friends and Now.”
Amanda Jones took photos of many dogs, some over a span of twenty years. The photos require close inspection to see the changes the dogs went through over their lives, all of differing lengths. The photos are often moving, enough so to bring tears to any dog lover’s eyes. Seeing those pictures made me reflect on my life with Lacey, my Shih Tzu who died more than a year and half ago at almost 18 and half years.
I am sure my memories are similar to what many of you have experienced. With that in mind here is a day in the life of Ron and Lacey.
I awoke early to walk her anytime between 7a and 8a after we first stumbled out of bed. When I got home from work then between 2p and 3p, I walked her again and then around 8p to end our night outside. After each walk I would wash her bowl with hot water. I then filled it with cold, fresh water. After she drank, and I wiped her face and told her to “stay,” she did. I used a paper towel to rub her face firmly, but gently. That way her face stayed clean and food did not always stick to her beard.
She usually did all her stuff during that first walk. If she did not, I rarely worried. She went when she had to. She hated walking in the rain. She usually wasted little time in all bad weather. She would wet and then turn quickly toward home, her short legs churning with purpose.
In the morning after her walk she had a snack. I always had a supply of Snausages, her favorite treat. I gave her three that I cut into thirds. I put them on the floor next to her water bowl. She had a small mouth and tiny teeth with which she chewed slowly. She rarely ate from a plate or bowl, unless it was dinner. I will have more about that in a coming post. She ate her snack right away. Sometimes she let me know she wanted more food by staring at me and vigorously tapping my foot with her right front paw. It was never an ordinary tap. It was more like a hard pounding. She wanted my attention and she got it. She did it by sending me a signal. Do not ignore me, she was saying. Take care of my needs. Seriously.
At night when I was home, I kept her water fresh. She hung out with me on the couch when I read or watched a show or sports on TV. If I went to the bedroom to work at the computer she followed me and patiently waited for me to put her on the bed. Sometimes if she tired of sitting with me, she headed to the bedroom ahead of me and stood near the door or in the room itself. Many nights I heard a small yip from her that said, come get me and put me on the bed. She was usually not very vocal unless she did not like a dog in her path. She had negative feelings about pugs and the big forty and fifty pounders whose heads were bigger than she. I had a feeling that Lacey was protecting me from possible injury by a big dog.
Generally, she slept through night, often next to me near my other set of pillows, but not always. In more than ten years in the apartment, she awakened me only once. At least that was the case before she aged badly over the last two years of her life. That last walk at night for her to wet was important because only then could she hold herself the rest of the night.
When I left in the morning and knew I would not return until after dark, I left a light on in the living room, the one by the big chair. She did not like being in dark alone, something I had never been able to understand.
The towels hanging on the stove are Lacey’s. I used them to dry her paws or her face and head after a rain. The towel on the fridge was a hand towel for people. But Lacey’s towels were special and always would be. Until a few months ago, I allowed them to stay hanging on the handle of the stove.
Then, there is this: When I was in the kitchen late at night and Lacey was on my bed in the bedroom, she would watch me from the corner of the bed until I turned of the kitchen light and headed into the bedroom. When I was back in the bedroom, she turned from the corner of the bed, settled into her regular spot near the second set of pillows, and went into a deep sleep. Though she has been gone for many months, there are still nights when I see her wide eyes staring at me until I go into the bedroom, settle in bed and either read or turn off the light and go to sleep.