Settling into a Schedule (of sorts) with Sheba

**There are two important notes at the end of this post, I hope you will read them:)

UP and at ’em

Sheba has been with us for 20 months now and, according to her records, was six years old on June 25th. I can finally see a discernable routine in our days. You might think after 20 months, it’s about time; but with her background (See Introducing Sheba and Life with a Tentative Dog) patience has been key.

We struggled with housebreaking for eight long months and finally realized that she needed to be walked. Three times a day. We are fortunate to live near a school that many people in the community use for a dog walking park, so much so that our borough has installed dog waste stations at two places along the journey and provide free waste bags.

She is the first dog we ever had that we could not simply put on a tie out rope outside so she could “do her business” and then scratch on the door to come back. She will lay on the grass outside for hours if my husband is working there or if we are both in the yard, but she still will not “go there.” It seems to be holy ground.

But finally, walking her three times day around the school yard and other places has reduced the number of accidents. In fact, thankfully, it has been several months since she has confused the living room carpet with the grass at the school.

Her sort of schedule

Part of the success of this new routine is getting up right away, for me that is 7:30 a.m. retirement standard time, and then grabbing her treats, bag and leash and getting out of the house before she has time to think about it. I am not at my best during that first walk, but there is no time for coffee if I want to keep the house smelling nice. She seems willing enough to come home without dallying, once she has found the absolutely perfect repository and has sniffed enough blades of grass, and other things.

Yet, as soon as we come in the door, she seems to think her breakfast should come before my coffee and depending on my state, I will oblige her. Then, while I am wishing I could go back to sleep, she has curled up into a ball and gone back to dream land, while I make coffee, forage some breakfast and try to not noticeably stagger around the kitchen.

Just chillin’

When I was in seminary and living in a dorm in my early 50’s I used to joke that I wore bangs to cover up the tattoo on my forehead that said “Not a morning person.” But I wasn’t fooling anyone.

Treats and Food

Sheba gets a Denta Stick at noon, or as close to noon as we remember, and seems to be ready for a walk soon after she inhales her treat. Supper is at 5, more or less and she gets a rawhide at 7:30 p.m. She gets her last walk of the day after supper and that seems to be enough to get through the night.

Like many pets, she seems to see herself as a priority and thinks she can tell time. Sometimes she is right on the money, and sometimes it is wishful thinking on her part.

She can be pushy, especially when it comes to wanting her treats; but I can be stubborn. Although I have teased my husband for years that the correct pronunciation of his last name is “Stubbornville” truth be told, I am a bit stubborn too. When she follows me into the office after her post supper walk and starts pushing my hands away from my keyboard, I will not be moved and tell her to lay down. That might net me a glare.

Sort of schedule?

I admit that this sort of schedule is my fault. Perhaps something more regular would be better, but I am not that rigid, nor do I care to be so, but it all seems to fit in and suit.

I talk to the animals

Well, one at a time. When I walk Sheba, I talk to her. I feel like, despite her sense of duty and distraction, this is some good one on one time for us. I praise her of course for doing those good things, but I also just talk with her. I know she ignores me, but I hope that the sound of my voice does something positive. I tell her that we are lucky to have her. Then I say, “who am I kidding? You are lucky to have us.” Both are right, I hope. When she seems anxious, a sudden noise, or the onset of another human being, can be enough to distract her from any productivity, I remind her that I will not let anyone hurt her. I also tell her frequently, that she is a good girl and I am proud of her.

I have seen people walking their dogs with a leash in one hand and a cell phone in the other, and that is their choice and right, certainly. But as much time as I spend on the phone, texting or social media, I feel like this time of walking Sheba belongs to her.

Fear and wariness continues

I took Sheba to the Vet’s office for a technician visit. While we waited, and there was not much going on in the office, she backed up, partly under the chair next to me and shook. Now, I realize no smart animal likes going to the vet, indignities of all sorts can and do happen there. But she shows that type of fear, when the neighbor dogs bark. She has learned to lead me out of the way, in order to avoid walking in front of the offending dogs’ house. She will pull me to the back yard and around the side of our house, rather than walk in front of theirs.

She has the same general reaction to men, boys and children and when the football team starts to practice and suit up across the street at the school, walking Sheba will be a little more challenging, though not impossible. It simply makes me sad.

In twenty months, I have only heard her bark twice at most. She does bark gently in her sleep, but all the neighbor dogs who bark, she will not bark back. I admit I am grateful, but when I mentioned this to the receptionist at the vet’s office the other week, she said, “you don’t know what her previous owners did to make her that way.” And it makes me wonder as well, though those are answers we will never have. How much fear or pain has to be instilled in an animal to make it stifle instinct?

No ma’am, I am not going to look at you.

Camera shy

Unlike human toddlers and babies who quickly warm up to having their pictures taken, even to the point of posing, Sheba will not cooperate. But I have taken a few candid shots for this post. I wish I could show you a video of her running around the house or jumping up half in the air, seeming to have springs on her front paws, bouncing up and down when I come home from being away, or when my husband or I say those magical words, “Sheba, do you want to go for a walk?” Or pictures of her stretching out her long, lean body as she puts her front paws on the porch railing to crane her neck at the latest sound to catch her attention. But those shots or videos could never happen if she saw the camera or the phone, as you will see.

Bedtime Ritual

Because, as far as we know, Sheba lived her first four-and-a-half years in a crate, we are grateful that she willingly gets in her crate, when we are going out or when it is time for bed. There are sometimes she tries to pretend she is invisible or deaf, especially during the day, but usually she will go right in. Sometimes she goes in without being told because she “reads” the signs, car keys in hand, jacket grabbed of the back of the chair, etc.

When it is bedtime she still races ahead of me and turns around on the landing to look at me and to make sure that I am following. If the doors to our room and her crate are open, she generally goes right in, even before I get to the room. I pet her and tell her that she is a good girl. I put my hand under her chin, because she seems to like that, and I tell her that I love her and close the crate.

I have written posts about all of our dogs, but since Sheba is the current pet, it is easier to recall the myriad things she does. There are times when missing Misty, our beagle who died October 27, 2018, just sweeps over me and catches me off guard. Then I think when the time comes to say goodbye to Sheba (hopefully many years from now) it will be the hardest. Because of all four of our rescue dogs, Sheba is the one that is most mine and has stolen my heart.

Granted, I have used a lot of anthropomorphic language in telling this story (language that ascribes human characteristics or tendencies to non human entities), but in my defense, Sheba is only human after all.

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

A celebration: This is the 50th post in The Beach Girl Chronicles, I will keep writing, I hope you will keep reading and sharing! Thank you for following this site, or reading on Linked In or my Facebook Page, Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles.

A BIG Thank you to Sue and Leanne who have hosted the Mid-Life Share the Love Link Party (#MLSTL) and are ending that party with this weeks contributions. Thank you for the welcome you have extended to me as a new blogger, and for your encouraging words. I have made many wonderful connections with other bloggers through this link party and am grateful to you both. Wishing you both success and joy as you branch out in other areas. Michele

Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

32 thoughts on “Settling into a Schedule (of sorts) with Sheba

  1. First of all, congratulations on your 50th post, Michelle. I see your blog turning into a lovely memoir.
    Although, I have not participated as much as I would have liked to in the #MLSTL, I’m glad for the connections I made through this, including you.
    I have a lot of your post’s to catch up on. Loved reading about Sheba, your routine and relationship with her. We have two dogs, of which, Lucky is a rescue. We literally took her off the street, but 5 years later she’s still difficult to understand. She’s extremely aggressive with other dogs, especially strays, and it can be challenging walking her because if this. She’s also afraid of a certain type of men, which makes us wonder about whether she faced abuse. Despite the challenges, she’s a most affectionate and playful dog and keeps our older boxer young.
    As I always say, what would we be without our dogs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand about “Catch-up” reading. I try to read as much as possible when I am going to participate in a link party, which is most weeks but not all weeks. then on the weeks in between, I have to sigh and let it go. But the bloggers I follow s how up on my reader page so that is helpful. It is hard for people who do not have pets understand t hose of us who do. We grieve their deaths not unlike the deaths of our human family and friends. We had really thought about fostering because of our ages and I wanted a senior dog if we were going to adopt. But I also wanted a dog that needed us and that is certainly Sheba.

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      1. Corinne, my laptop is very jumpy today! I wanted to also say thank you for the compliment and the comment and also taking the time to read. My posts are long I can’t seem to help myself:) so I especially appreciate the readers.
        I tried to email you about something that had nothing to do with our blogs, but definitely to do with writing but it ddin’t work so I will ask it here. . I am looking for some basic information about the use of Elephants in caravans on the Silk Route, without spending a small fortune on someone’s dissertation. Do you have any suggestions of websites or other avenues of research?
        Back to our pets, there are some days I wish Sheba could talk and other days I am grateful she can’t. Thanks again and blessings, Michele

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      2. Hi again, Michelle – I do love your posts and want to take the time to read them all and leave meaningful comments.
        So nice of you and your husband to keep rescue dogs – they are so worth the time and effort. I do believe that our dogs find us. I remember reading this line that sums it up – Saving one dog might not change the world but surely for that one dog the world will change forever.

        I will keep my eyes out for something regarding the use of elephants of the Silk Route as I don’t have any information off hand.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you for the compliment, Corrinne, with 50 posts, that’s a lot of reading. My favorites are the stories about my parents, Jack and Maggie, and life at the Union Villa and of course the water stories, oh, and the dog stories. (humor) Anything you can send my way on elephants and the silk route would be great, websites, book titiles, etc. My dad was in t he Merchant Marine and spent much of my youth between trips to the Mediteranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, ports of course. I had dolls from all over the world but when I outgrew dolls, I gave them away along with my few Barbies and Teenage dolls. I have one dancing girl doll (not sure of the origin, could be Turkey, and two small stuffed camels. I will have to post a picture sometime. We had hassocks in the living room and carved tables with gold leaf patterns. He had brought home two carved elephants, large, that my mother turned into lamps. I think my brother got the tables and lam[s when mom died. Pretty sure the tables and the elephants were all from India.

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  2. Hello!
    Your not the only one with a dog who is like this! Sasuke is a rescue dog who was born stray and I am his first and last forever home. By the time we have had our morning walk and I stagger into work between 7:30 and 8:30am – I have tried to cram minimum 3 cups of coffee or orange juice just to be awake! Luckily Sasuke got into this routine within four months after I was recovering from an illness and we both got sick of being indoors.
    Now when we walk he poops and pees no problem, it’s just the heat of Kyoto stopping us from being out more.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My laptop is jumpy, I may have to switch to something else. At any rate, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this story. We have had 4 rescue dogs in 30 years, one at a time, and I have written about their stories here in this blog. the first one is “The Gift”,, that goes back to 1989. I was amazed to see that you are from Japan, I am in Pennsylvania, in the United States. it is pretty interesting the way blogging connects writers from all over. Thanks again, Michele

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      2. Hi – So sorry for the delay in replying, Ive had Sas for about 11 months now and it has most certainly been a learning curve! We never talk about the destruction of my favorite (and most expensive!) coat only what I can learn from it in order to help him. Case in point he is now sleeping in the wardrobe. Why?! No idea – I just go with it, it makes him happy!

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      3. Im actually an expat from Britain working in Japan and after years of wanting but not being able to adopt a dog in Britain, Ive been lucky to do it here in Japan. Rescue dogs are simply the best – Sas has such character and will that its a constant negotiation with him. Wouldn’t have it any other way!

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      4. Wow, how long have you lived in Japan? What kind of work do you do? One of the things I have come to really appreciate about bloging is the connections from people around the world. Many of the bloggers I connect with re from Australia, but I have gotten to know people in India, Ireland, England, Canada, to name only a few. I am not a traveler, but those connections really help. Especially with life in the time of COVID, to realize what other people are dealing with. Thanks for writing. Blessings, Michele

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      5. Hi! Ive been here for four years now, teaching English as a second language to adults and children however, I don’t want to do this long term so Im starting a uni course this October while working.
        Sas is already fed up with me reading to him about the topic.. he has three years of this! Poor thing!! 🙂

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      6. What is your goal with the course? Our last dog, Misty, actually ate my homework one day. My husband (her favorite human) was away, so it was just myself, Misty, my work and tons of reading for school (I was Working on my Dr. of Ministry Degree). I had left her twice already that day. She would not be crated, so when leaving her alone, we were able to block her off in the ktichen and laundry room. The third trip that day I just had to run out for a little bit, but it was an emergency call. When I got home only one page, thankfully, of my notes was on the floor in pieces, and a pencil half chewed. I taped it together and put it back in my notebook and took it to class with me to show my seminary prof that my dog really did eat my homework.

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      7. I don’t really have an explicit goal for the Uni course, its more to keep the four year old me happy and a big fat told you so to everyone past in my life who said I should be and do something else.

        It wasn’t homework, however, I do have to plan my teaching lessons for large group out services for work and the book that I use Sasuke chewed and so I rocked up to work with chewed and slobbered lesson plans to show the students that half eaten homework is acceptable so long as they show their working or have video’d their dog dissecting it! 🙂

        I still have the book and use it – its now vintage and well chewed and my boss despairs as it doesn’t look professional however I argue its a life lesson: for students its a valid excuse; for those who find 2020 a write off – even chewed up its still useful!

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  3. Hi Michele, I love this post. It’s so nice that Sheba found you, someone who will take her personality and unknown history into consideration to give her the best life. You’re doing a wonderful thing for her.
    Congratulations on your 50th post, too! 🙂

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  4. If you will keep writing, I will keep reading, Michele! Congratulations on the 50-post milestone.

    Our (late) dog Benji was a rescue too. He was only 9 months old when my son rescued him. Or maybe he rescued my son. Even in his later years, Benji would flinch when my husband took off his belt to get undressed for bed. I hate to think what the first 9 months must have been like.

    I used to talk to Benj when I was walking him too. I think dogs understand more than we realize. Just because they don’t have vocal cords to “talk” doesn’t mean they don’t understand. It got to the point where we had to spell around Benji if we didn’t want him to know what we were saying (like V-E-T).

    Sheba is a beautiful girl and I think you are right – you are both lucky to have each other.

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  5. Congratulations, Michele, on your 50th post! Both you and Sheba are lucky to have found each other. Dogs are loyal and smart. I’m sure Sheba appreciates your talking to her and taking care of her. #MLSTL

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  6. Michelle, Sheba sounds like such a character. Sounds like to me that she’s landed in a very good home where she is number 1. Our Iscar is number 1 too, there’s no doubt. Congratulations on posting your 50th post. I’m also going to miss #MLSTL

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  7. Michele – Don’t you love how our dogs take control of our lives and make their routines, our routines? Our lovely old guy, Tucker, is almost 11 years old and is getting so set in his ways. We have now reached a point where we walk the routes he wants to walk – he knows where the dog water fountains are and where the little old ladies with doggy treats hang out! Good for you for adopting another rescue dog – it’s not always an easy journey but it is a rewarding one! Helen

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    1. Thanks very much Helen. I have mixed in stories of other rescues we have adopted, along with stories about my parents, growing up in a bar, it’s all memoir.. Sheba is the easiest of the dogs to write about because I don’t have to stretch back into my memory. I think she is psychic though and going to get me back. Since I bragged about her, in an international forum no less, she has only done what she should have once today instead of twice and I am half expecting an accident. Hopefully I am wrong. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this post. #mlstl Michele

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  8. Hi Michele – what a lovely story to read and you are such good parents to Sheba – it’s so nice to read a happily ever after ending for an animal who didn’t get a good start in life. Also thanks so much for your lovely words at the end about our party. I’m going to miss everyone turning up on Wednesdays, but I’ve followed your blog and look forward to staying in touch (and I’m hoping others do the same with mine so I don’t lose any of this lovely community I helped to create) Thanks so much for being a part of #MLSTL xx

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    1. Leanne, thank you so much an d thank you for following the blog. I will be interested too to see what unfolds for you in the coming weeks and months. Looking forward to reading more. Blessings, Michele

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  9. That was a lovely read Michele! I haven’t had a dog for years but one of my daughters has a chunky black Labrador who is like a member of their family. I agree MLSTL has been a fabulous way of meeting and engaging wth other bloggers. I’m looking forward to staying in touch in many other ways now, as I enjoy the community and camaraderie. #mlstl

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    1. Thank you very much for those kind words. I am glad to be able to still have contact with many of the bloggers I have met through #mlstl and the open door will provide other opportunities. There is a certain discipline of link parties that is beneficial, simply in following through on commitments. But I think that sense of mutual respect (reading, commenting and sharing) will carry over. best and blessings, Michele

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  10. Michele, first I want to give that sweet puppy a loving hug! She is so lucky to have found your loving home. And second, I’m so glad we “met up” through MLSTL. I will admit it was “easy” to stay up on each others’ blogs when we found ourselves there weekly. But I started following your blog so I won’t miss out!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer! I look forward to your posts as well. I participate in Esme’s Senior Salon, too, thought I don’t usually do them both in the same week. Too much to fit in. But I especially wanted to do my 50th post and add a note for Sue and Leanne. Thanks for following The Beach Girl Chronicles. Best and blessings, Michele

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  11. Ah Michele, that was such a heart warming story…and I hear you on ‘standard retirement time’. We have thought about a pet dog but resisted. We ended up loving and nurturing one originally our son’s but he insisted she stay with us “this is the home she knows”. We did. And it was my husband who had to call the Vet to end her awful last few days.
    Congratulations on your blog celebrations too.
    I have enjoyed connecting with you here via Sue’s and Leanne’s link up and invite you to pop over to my link up called Life This Week on Mondays if you choose.

    Take care,
    Denyse

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words and for the invitation. I will take you up on that soon! It sounds like your son’s dog, your dog was very blessed. We have cried together through the deaths of three of our dogs, Sheba is our 4th rescue in 30 years. It is a privilege to befriendnd these creatures and love them to the end. Blessings, Michele

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  12. Congratulations on your 50th post! I love the designation “retired standard time.” It’s a blessing in some ways that your dog is particular about where she does her business. The one dog we had went anywhere. She was ok inside, until she got older. But the whole back yard was her latrine–had to always watch where we stepped. 🙂

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