May 28, 2019

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.

-Robert Collier


I pick up Waldo from the vet in the afternoon, cone and all. He obviously has a real problem with the clear(ish) piece of plastic that keeps getting in the way whenever he does anything, but otherwise, Waldo is the same old Waldo. We go home and the dog rams the cone into everything. The walls, the door frames, my legs, everything. Sometimes, he does it, I think, to try to get it off. Sometimes, I wonder if he forgets that it’s there. Other times, it’s as if he jams it around as entertainment. I put away the toys, like balls and pull ropes, that might excite him into too much activity. I give him some edible “bones” to eat, but have to put his antlers and other tougher chew toys away because he can’t hold them and chew on them at the same time, due to the cone.

I take him outside every two hours. The cone of shame comes off, and we go, for us, on very short walks – twice around the building. We come in and the cone goes back on. This becomes a pattern and as the appointed time approaches, Waldo comes over to my chair, puts his forepaws on my legs and plops the cone on my lap. I don’t need a watch.

I’m amazed. Waldo seems to accept the relative inactivity and takes it in stride.

Still, ten whole days…

Ten days and nights of living with the cone-of-shame. Ten long nights of loud noises coming from the crate in the wee hours as Waldo wrestles with the piece of plastic and tries to get comfortable in bed. Ten days of getting shin bruises, of having things knocked off of tables, of water bowl spills and dog food all over the floor. Ten days and nights of constantly hearing that damned collar slam into everything within range. And yet, Waldo takes it all as a necessary evil he just has to deal with as best as he can.

I expected a lot worse than I got. With all of his pent-up puppy energy, I thought he would be constantly whining and jumping at the door to go outside. He didn’t whine at all and only rarely jumped at the door. He did regularly plant his front end on my chair arm or lap and we worked around the cone to have many more bonding moments, with pets, pats and shoulder rubs from me and long pink-tongued licks and love-nibbles from him, than we usually have. Before surgery, a leap into my lap produced play time – fetch, tug-of-war, keep away or going outside. After surgery, it was more cuddle time. I liked it.

Finally, the ten days were up and we walked into the vet’s office with bated breath. Waldo got his stitches removed, was pronounced adequately healed and earned a clean bill of health with a full pardon from all restrictions. Once home, the first thing I did was to fold up the onerous cone-of-shame and throw it in the trash. I feel as jubilant at being freed from the damn thing as he must. Next, we go for a prolonged walk, in the rain, about the property where we live – not a long walk by our standards, but a big improvement over what we’ve been constrained to. Waldo rushed to the end of the leash and happily sniffed about and stalked whatever rabbits he could find. We both slept well that night.

Next day, we’re back on the rail-trail and our usual trek. All the rain we had recently caused a greening of the environs with tree skeletons now decked out in young succulent leaves, flowering plants on the trailside, including some trees showing off white puffy blossoms, and sprouting weeds. Grass is starting to grow long and yellow dandelions are in bloom. The rain did this. Have you ever noticed how your lawn grows faster after a storm? Even more so than when you prodigiously water it from the city water supply? The reason is simple. The raindrops pick up nutrients from the air as they fall, including hard to come by nitrates, and feed the plant life as well as provide it with the juice of life. That produces a sudden explosion of floral growth and development. The rail-trail provides us an inflorescence worthy of a Monet. It feels really good to be back.

And Waldo? Ten days of imprisonment have passed, the chains are off and the puppy energy-bomb is on the loose.


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