“Sophie needs to go pee pee.” Years ago our dog, Sophie, learned that the way to ask to go out to do her business was to sit in front of me and cut her eyes at my spouse several times so that I would tell him to take her out.

We still laugh about that. She has been with us since 2004 and still she sits in front of me and tries to get her point across. Usually I can understand what she wants but sometimes even I get confused. We tease her asking if she wants this or that. She really likes K words. She does not fall for asking her if she wants to go to Kalamazoo anymore. Katmandu still gets her attention but I am never sure if it is the KAT or the place that is most interesting to her.

For the first couple of months after the fire when we went up to our land she was only mildly interested. She would get out a bit then go sit in the car. Lately when we head that way she gets very eager and wags and sometimes barks and whines. When we get there she is very eager to go smell all of her spots and take the walk that we used to take. When she gets to area where the house foundation was and the house stood, she is very distracted and will do anything at all to get back in the car. It is sad to see her like that.

Tonight Sophie got silly. This huge green shag carpet house is 60 feet across and 40 feet deep. It is possible to go nearly the full distance across and then deep without running into any walls. Sophie takes advantage of that now and again. Tonight was now. She raced back and forth skidding to a stop at the invisible wall that surrounds the kitchen. She would sit for a few seconds and then off at a dead run again. Skid in. Sit. Tear out and make the loop again. Skid, sit, loop, PHEW! At nearly 9 years old that is a lot of skidding and stopping. The running part is not so hard but when you old bones are a bit creaky skidding to a stop and sitting then getting up again is a challenge on dog or human.

After her dashing around and around, she got her kibbles for dinner. After dinner she got a flip. I gave her one that is larger than she normally gets hoping it would wear her out. Usually she is not interested in the thicker ones that are in the bag of dental chews we get at our Vets. Tonight was different. “LET ME HAVE IT!” Dance, dance, prance, prance, “See my flip? Isn’t it the most beautiful flip you ever saw?” After a while she left it on the floor and walked over toward me and cut her eyes looking for something we might have that was better than her wonderful flip. I frowned at her and I said, “No, that is not yours, you have your flip.” She dropped her ears and then pounced playfully on her flip.

After a while she got tired of chewing on her flip. She plopped on the couch on her blanket (it is our couch, not the one that belongs to this temporary house). After a little rucking she fell fast asleep. When it was time to get ready to go to bed my spouse said, “Sophie, come on, lets go pee pee.” She looked at me and then at him and back to me. I said, “She is not interested.” She plopped her head down. My spouse said, “Come on, Sophie, you gotta go.” She looked at us both with adoring eyes and rolled over to give us a half-belly. Of course, she had total control over the situation. Cute and sweet always win out over stubbornly refusing to go out to pee when it is cold outside.

On and on the petting went. She rolled over for a full belly and then stretched herself out so far she almost fell off the couch but she was confident that someone would stop her slide if she stared to go. Stretching felt too good to interrupt.

After far more time than sensible adults should have, my spouse stopped petting Sophie. He went one more time to the door and said, “Come on, you gotta go pee pee.” She looked at me and then cut him a quick glance, looked at me and rolled over on her back and lifted her paw for more belly rubs. We both nearly died laughing but of course, she got more belly.

Finally we insisted that she get up and go pee pee. She happily hopped off the couch and walked by her half-eaten flip, scooped it up, tossed it into the air, snagged it as it came back down, held it in her mouth while my spouse fastened her collar and lead. She walked outside with it in her mouth. He reported that she carried it out to the edge of the woods where she goes and then scooped it up when she finished and trotted back inside with her flip in her mouth.

When we headed upstairs, I scooted the finally discarded flip a bit to keep from stepping on it. She pounced, raced upstairs and plopped down by my desk to finish it off. She knows I fuss at the computer with email and writing this blog after we finish downstairs so she knew she had a perfect place for a flip finale. Not only was it a perfect place, I dug around in my backpack and found her travel water-bowl and got her some water. She is trained not to leave our near vicinity so going downstairs the 1/4 mile from the bedroom to the utility room where her water is would be completely out of the question.

An evening with Sophie at her best, racing around, skidding, sitting, racing, flipping, belly and flip and then zzzzzzzz as only a tired dog can go.

It is good to see her goofy and happy. The fire has been hard on all of us but sometimes I think it is the worst on her. She has serious separation anxiety. She has 4 dog beds so that there is always a place for her near where we routinely are. If my spouse and I are sitting across the large but open temporary office we have she will time-share. She goes over where he is grading papers, rucks up her bed, sleeps a while, gets up comes by me, rucks up that bed, sleeps a while and then positions herself halfway between us at the top of the stairs so she can see what is coming up, or going down. She keeps watch on both of us.

It seems to me that her fear and worry are palpable. Sometimes something we cannot see passes over her and she just quakes. It makes me sad to see her feel so scared.

I think Sophie barks for us all these days. Sometimes we are silly and happy, sometimes we are tired and hungry and sometimes we are just downright scared. Mostly, I think, we are all looking forward to being home.

dog running through area live but chared trees following a fire

We were both pleased to see that the trees on the mountain above our house were not completely burned. As was true of the areas where there were houses, some trees were burned and others were not. I had been expecting denuded ground. I was relieved and pleased to see some of the trees survived the fire.