Learning to be big dogs

When they were very, very small. Copyright Ann Carranza, August 2012

I took Leia and Yoda (separately) out for ‘walkies’ on a leash, today. On the upside, they both have learned to navigate the back steps when they want. Yoda hops like a rat or a rabbit and he’s ready to hit the world full speed ahead. He’s quite responsive to the leash and slight tugs and walks very well (my opinion), though of course, imperfectly.

On my first walk with Leia and Honey with Chica running interference (and she seriously interfered with the walk by bowling Leia over). Leia was most enthusiastic about going outside and walking nicely. But on our second walk, she cringed and wouldn’t go down the steps, fell over when she heard a car, cowered when she heard the neighbor’s dogs. This was after dark, so maybe she found it spooky. She also decided that she hates the leash as much as she hates her collar and that a tug meant she was supposed to lie down and act like a rock.

Yoda, my little trooper, actually ‘took care of business,’ after darting under Chica as she peed. I praised him to the hilt and he hopped back to the house.

I also worked on ‘sit’ today with all three of them. Honey is the most stubborn and does not even try to please me (though she loves me completely). Yoda got it on the third try, while Leia flopped onto her side in a dramatic exhibition of her personality. I was using Monterey jack cheese as their reward and they all gobbled it up like little turkeys.

A good day was had by all today at Carranza’s Corner.

A puppy’s revenge

Yoda thinks that if he closes his eyes, I can’t see him. Copyright Ann Carranza November 2012

Yoda is a very vocal puppy in that he growls when the other two apply a lot of pressure to him in some way (like Leia’s standing on his back). He puts his little head down, turns it sideways and growls ferociously. It’s hysterical at times but gets to be a bit much to listen to after a while.

Today, I got tired of Yoda’s growling and put him on time-out in Chica’s crate. Ah, blessed silence. Then he started to whine about being isolated. He finally convinced me to get him out, so I petted him and told him what a wonderful puppy he is and that I’d put him back in with his mama and Leia, but that he had to stop growling so much.

I set him in the corral, Leia jumped on his back and the growling commenced. Sigh. This time, I put Leia and Honey in the crate inside the corral and left Yoda loose. Went back to Chica’s crate to find out that Yoda had done a bunch of “dirty business” in the crate.

Now I get to clean that crate, too.

Fostering fun—it’s endless.

Fading light

Water on a gray day. Copyright Ann Carranza, October 2012

Today’s the first day I’ve noticed the change in the light. It’s July—the hot, blazing sun drove me indoors in the middle of the afternoon, but now as the light fades toward night, I perceive the slightest difference and the fall approaches. I panic. I’m not ready for the end of summer and light-wane.

Why did the summers of my childhood seem a time of endless beckoning days with fun and laughter and I didn’t think of autumn until after Labor Day? But now, each year brings autumn backward into summer and my longing for the light begins earlier, even while I’m reminded to savor each day.

I hang the clothes on the line in the gloaming, pegging each item to the next (well, except for the socks). The ritual soothes me and I know the laundry will dry overnight when heat lasts until morning and the air is still.

No leaves have yet turned but Leonel finished pulling the last ear of corn from its stalk and we’ve gnawed the final kernel from the cobs. A single gallon bag of whole kernel corn resides in the freezer and even that will be gone before the calendar marks the first day of fall.

The stalks stand, silent sentinels near the 15-foot sunflowers, their yellow contrasts bright against the cobalt sky. Tomatoes ripen daily. The spurt of seeds and juice, tart on my tongue as my teeth bite into another San Marino Roma. Its solid heft and meaty flesh make me think of spaghetti sauce and tomato soup.

The early mildness of the padron and serranos convert to robust heat, then tongue-scorching blasts mouths eager for sunshine converted to salsa.

The days inexorably march on and I capture summer in photos and memory and wring every last bit of light from each remaining day. Now, it’s August, and the sun retreats faster. The peaches come and go like light’s memory. How many peaches did I eat? But they are gone now—giving way to apples, then figs.

People knock on the door. May we pick peaches? May we have figs? Of course, of course, we reply. Help yourselves and enjoy! We plant to share.

The tomatillos fill their papery husks. I peel them; their sour odor assails my nostrils. How can something sour taste so divine? Bags go in the freezer, filled with chiles, tomatoes, tomatillos. Enough to last until next summer’s conversion of light to fruit? I hope. Oh, I hope! This way, yes, this way, I capture the light to serve it up on cold winter nights on plats warmed by salsa, in bowls of soup, in big pots of chili beans.

But now, the grape-scented air is infused with the skunk-spray scent of marijuana. Just how many neighbors cultivate the crop in their yards, garages or nearby? I wonder at their audacity and at a police department absent of olfactory sensitivity. And the light continues to fade.

The goldfinches cover the sunflowers for hours each day. They devour seeds as if they are in endless supply, while the monarchs arrive and sip from the tithonia and salvia and zinnia. They dance with West Coast ladies, common checkerspots and fiery skippers, while carpenter bees and European honeybees pause to enjoy a final blossom-burst. In the endless movement, I capture more joy, more light, in memory and photos.

But, I see the stripped shells of the sunflowers, bereft of goldfinches. The monarch resumed their southerly journey. Dry leaves rasp from the sycamores that have responded to fall’s waning light for almost 40 years.

The rains begin in earnest and I feel like melting into a puddle.

I sigh. The longing for the light rises—cries in my wanting heart.

Collars and the first ‘walk’

“I’m so sweet in my new blue collar,” says Yoda. Copyright Ann Carranza, November 2012

I bought “the babies” collars, today, and took Yoda for his first “walk” in which he did little walking but a plethora of jumping, leaping, balking, running, pulling and fussing. I walked him with his mama, Honey, and tried to get his attention long enough for him to get the slightest clue of what he was supposed to be doing. The long-term goal of collars and leashes is to start housebreaking the puppies. Oh, please, please, wish me luck.

Meanwhile, back in the house, Travis was holding Leia, who for the first time, cried real tears. She didn’t like being left behind while the others got to go outside.

Yoda started by backing up against the leash, then darted forward until he came to the steps.

“Nope,” he thought, “not going down those.”

Unfortunately, I had a different idea. I cajoled him to the top step, helped him down the first one while his stiff little body told me that he really wanted nothing to do with steps (this from a puppy that fearlessly jumped off the sofa and clunked his noggin on the carpet, then repeated the action).

We navigated the two low steps, then he darted to the end of his leash, jumped straight up in the air, dashed to Honey (who was totally concentrating on getting to her potty spot) and leaped on her back, stalling all forward progress.

The neighbors’ dogs started barking—he stopped dead in his tracks, perked those silly, donkey ears up to the sky, and looked at the fence. I don’t think he quite figured out what it was he couldn’t see.

Honey did her business and we leaped, hopped, jumped, balked, ran, pulled and fussed our way back to the crying Leia.

Silly puppies—offering lessons in patience along with laughter.

Sweet girl, Leia. Copyright Ann Carranza, November 2012

Later, when Leonel came home, he leashed up both babies. I said that he might want to rethink that action. Perhaps, I said gently, it would be a better idea to take Leia and Honey out together, that way Honey could do the lesson part. After the puppies balked for the first time and nearly pulled their collars over their heads, he seemed to agree. I exchanged Yoda for Honey, and off they went.

First stop, the steps.

“Nope,” Leia thought, “not going down those.”

As I pushed and lifted her stiff front legs and little butt to the first step, Leonel pulled gently on the leash, and nearly pulled it over her head. We got her down off the steps and I warned Leonel to watch when he pulled, so Leia wouldn’t slip her collar. He walked outside with a jumping, leaping, balking, running, pulling and fussing little girl and her mother.

I went back to washing dishes and cooking dinner.

Yoda says, “Get that blinding light out of my eyes.” Copyright Ann Carranza, November 2012

A howl crept eerily up my spine. Yoda didn’t like them going off without him, any more than Leia had, only he was more vocal. Not only did he start crying (tears down his little cheeks) he howled like a tiny wolf until they came back in.

All that stuff was hard work, so they piled up on Honey and went to sleep—a crumple of Chihuahuas. Silly puppies.

“I don’t like the bright light, either,” says Leia. “But isn’t my new collar pretty?” Copyright Ann Carranza, November 2012

Their first adoption event.

Last post you saw Honey. Here are Yoda and Leia, her two 3 1/2 month old puppies.

They were all neutered, today. I’m going to be so sorry to see them go; yet, I will rejoice when they find their forever homes. If you are in Santa Rosa, California this weekend you can find the sweet-as-Honey adoptable Chihuahuas at Petsmart at 1954 Santa Rosa Ave. (near Best Buy).

California Animal Rescue–what a wonderful organization!

You will never find a better friend than one of these three sweethearts.

Leia stands on her brother, Yoda’s, back. Copyright Ann Carranza, Nov. 2012.

Princess Leia. Copyright Ann Carranza, November 2012.

Precious Yoda. Copyright Ann Carranza, Nov. 2012.