September 17, 2009

How Much Is Too Much?rose among flowers

We’ve been having long conversations at our house about quantity versus quality. The topic varies — how much we eat, how much money we spend, how much we work, how much we exercise — but the focus of these topics is always how much is too much. As a puppy, I never even considered that there could be too much. Abundance felt normal. I wanted more treats, more play time, more friends, more romping, more chasing, and more scratches on my belly. I could never get enough. Now that I’m older, though, I’ve realized I have limits.

For instance, on Monday we walked 7.5 miles. We know this because Gretchen got a pedometer just to measure exactly how much she (and therefore I) walk during our working hours. 7.5 miles is a long way and when we walked another 7.5 miles the next day, I turned to Gretchen and said, “That’s 15 miles in two days. We could be in Renton by now!”

“Who’d want to go to Renton?” she asked.

wilson smileGood point, but when we walked another 6.5 miles yesterday and 5.5 today, I asked, “So do you think we’re walking too much? I mean, that’s 27 miles in four days! ”

Gretchen just smiled and said, “I wonder how long it would take us to walk across the United States?”

“Why the United States?” I asked. “Let’s walk across Canada!”

And soon our conversation spun out of control and we were dreaming way too much. Still, the theme has got me to thinking: Can I over do it? Can I do too much? If so, what does that look like?

This thought was with me all day, through all the miles we walked. With every dog, I was thinking how much is too much?

The day started when we walked Gretchen to school. In this city, there are a lot of hills and that was my first observation: Can there be too many hills in a dog’s life? After Gretchen went to work, Quillette and I hung out at the house and waited for her to return. Can a dog have too many naps? According to Quillette, no. I’m not so sure. I, for one, was certainly ready when Gretchen returned with Ollie in tow.

the shottake 2

All of us — Gretchen, Quillette, Ollie, and I — went for a long walk up on the ridge. Gretchen, of course, had to stop and snap her favorite photo hoping to chronicle the changing leaves. I asked, “How many photos in this spot are too many?”

Her response? “Yeah, but Rubin, every shot is different. Different dogs, different trees, different weather. It’s never too much!”

But as you can see, Ollie had had enough. He walked right out of the picture!

where's he going?

We were going to play fetch, but the line up of dogs to walk was thick and the schedule was full, so we ended up playing dog tag. We walked Ollie all around the neighborhood (yes, up more hills), dropped Quillette off at home for another of her precious naps, and Ollie and I walked over to pick up Wilson.mosaic

Wilson and Ollie had never met before and they instantly hit it off. “You can’t have too many friends,” quipped Ollie. I just rolled my eyes! We walked Ollie home and he was very happy to return. I think his mom was home sick or maybe working and he felt compelled to be by her side. So we said goodbye and then Wilson and I headed off to pick up the next dog. First, though, we had to stop for an obligatory photo in the park by the beautiful mosaic pillars. Wilson, though, was more interested in the ball in Gretchen’s backpack! It was hard to get him to focus on the task at hand! “This is too much,” he whined! “Let’s get movin!”

And so we did. Off to pick up a surprise. Well, a surprise to me. It was Woobie!!!! I’ve really missed her and the way she greeted us, she really missed us! Wilson had never met Woobie and what do you know, they hit it off like you wouldn’t believe — walking as close together as too peas in a pod. It was too much, I tell ya, too much!

three of uslooking this way

As you can see, Gretchen posed us in a new spot — the amphitheater by Woobie’s house — only she couldn’t get everyone to look the same way at the same time.  Hey, there was a lot to look at!

look at her

While we were waiting for Gretchen to get the picture she wanted, I asked Woobie her opinion of what’s too much. “Hey, Woobie,” I said. “Do you think you have too much hair?”

“Well, Rubin,” she cocked her head and smiled, “I’ve never really thought about it? Do you think I have nice hairtoo much hair?”

“No,” I said. “I kinda really like your hair, Woobie. I wish Gretchen would let my hair grow long, but then she’d have to comb it more and man, I hate that part.”

“Really? I kind of like it!”

Amazing! “What do you like about it?”

“Everyone is petting me and paying attention to me. Frankly, I can’t get enough of it!”

See! There it is again. What is too much for one, is never enough for another. This is a deep, philosophical issue. I’m telling you!

Woobie and Wilson walked side by side all the way back to Wilson’s house. Along the way, Gretchen teased us saying, “Good dogs, Woobie, Wilson and Wubin!”

Her jokes can be too much, let me tell you!

After Wilson, Gretchen dropped me off at the house so I could rest and she marched Woobie back home to her own house. Then Gretchen had to hustle to make it to Rosie’s house on time. She made it and Rosie was very happy she did!

happy Rosie

They headed over to the park where Gretchen worked on Rosie’s recall and where she tried to get pictures of Rosie’s jowls. Gretchen thinks Rosie has the coolest cheeks. She’s always rubbing them whenever they go on a walk. When I get to meet Rosie, I’m going to ask her if it’s too much to have Gretchen so focused on her cheeks. I wonder what she’ll say?

looking goodtough girl

come heretreats?

I asked Gretchen when she got home what she liked so much about Rosie. “She’s very sweet,” is all she said, but then added, “She’s seen a lot in her and I think really appreciates the life she has now. She knows it’s enough.”

the good life

Rosie got some extra time today just because she was being so adorable, but she eventually had to go home and lucky for her, her buddy Tyson was home, too! She liked that very much.

Next up was Gemma. Now Gemma is a study in too much. She’s always into something and always paying for it. Take her current predicament — her broken toe.


Gretchen was going to bring Gemma by to see me, but after they walked awhile, Gretchen realized it would be too much for her broken foot. “She just needed to go slow and steady,” Gretchen told me later.

“I’d be gentle,” I told her.

“Yes, but it would be too much for Gemma, I’m afraid.” When Gretchen saw how sad I was she said, “Soon, buddy. You’ll get to play with Gemma soon, but for now, she needs to not overdo it.”

restingclose up

They didn’t go very far on their walk, Gretchen told me later, because Gemma got tired and wanted to rest in the shade.

Gretchen took the opportunity to snap some nice pictures of her as well as spend time rubbing her belly and scratching behind her ears. It’s hard to scratch behind your ears with a cast on your foot! Hang in there, Gemma! We’ll romp again one day. Heck, we’ll overdo it to the max when you’re all fixed up!

Once Gemma went home, Gretchen swung by Saber’s house, walked him back to our house, and we spent the afternoon finding the edges of how much is too much!

First with my toys…is it too much to ask that he doesn’t play with my toys?

too muchthis is yours?

Is it too much to ask that he doesn’t taunt me with my toys?

tauntingmine, too!

Is it too much to ask to at least share the toys?

this is minesharing?

uh, excuse me!please give it back?

When Saber visited us at our house a few days ago, he wanted nothing to do with the kiddie pool in the backyard. He stayed as far away from it as he could. Clearly, it was too much for him. Today, he stayed away until he saw how much I loved the pool. I could NEVER get enough of water, especially on a hot day!

cooling offtouching water

All of the sudden, Saber decided that maybe the water wasn’t such a bad thing. First he got one of my toys out of the water and the next thing we knew, he was IN the water. Like crazy in the water!

in the waterlike this?

splashinglying down

happy water

Everything that I like to do in the water, he started to do. He dug, he splashed, he laid down, he smiled, and just like me, he raced around the yard all wet and extremely happy!


Finally, he’d had enough and he decided to sit with Quillette and me for a photo.

3 dogs3 again

I was laughing in these photos because Quillette, who thinks puppies were put on this earth to annoy her, was mumbling under her breath in each shot, “Oh bother, I’ve had enough!”

Luckily, Saber didn’t hear or if he did, he didn’t care!

enough!happy face

Saber is at that point in his puppyhood where nothing is too much. I walked him back home and he raced around beside me happy as happy can be. Puppy personified, if you will, and it reminded me of when I was a crazy young lad like that. How much is too much? I guess it all depends on your perspective. I’m lucky that I have lots of different dogs who walk many, many miles with me to offer me so many different kinds of perspectives. I can never have too much of that!

Until tomorrow,


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