April 15, 2010

Better Than…/Better Then…

Gretchen gave her students a lesson today and I listened. It was on the difference between then and than. (She also had to give a spelling lesson on the difference between were and where…”Where’s the ‘h’?” she asked her students to help them remember that “where” has an “h” and “were” does not, but I liked the than/then discussion more.)

So, it goes something like this: “Then” has many definitions but is often based on time though not always. “It will happen then…” “Then, when I was a year old, I was crazy…” “If I don’t wear my raincoat, then it will rain…” or “I will meet you then. Do you want to synchronize our watches?”

Other uses of “then” are: “We could go to the dog park and then the pet store…” “If you want to visit your friends, then you’ll need to finish your breakfast…” or “I took a nap, then worked on my dog blog…”

“Than” is not based on a place in time. Rather it’s used for comparisons. “I’d rather be swimming in the lake than resting at home…” “I’d rather have a treat from your pocket than have to wait until meal time…” or “That dog is bigger than you.”

All day long, I kept thinking about than/then and found myself reflecting on the day from these two very different perspectives. For instance, on the way home from school I thought, “I can take a nap and then have a drink of water…” or “Better a nap than a drink of water.” See how it makes everything kind of different.

I did go home after school while Gretchen walked Rosie. They had a few than/then moments. “If we put on your raincoat,” Gretchen told Rosie, “then if it rains you won’t get wet.”

“I’d rather eat cookies,” Rosie replied, “than put on that raincoat.” (Note the anticipatory treat drool in the second photo!)

On their walk, they came upon numerous dogs. This is always a challenge for Rosie because she gets overexcited and sometimes a bit aggressive, but that was then (get it) and today she did really well.

“There’s a dog running off leash over there,” Rosie noticed from afar. “If we go by them then I can show you how much better I am at being around other dogs.”

“Better that you’re friendly with strange dogs,” reminded Gretchen, “than upset because sometimes it doesn’t pay for you to be upset!”

Rosie agreed and every time they came upon a new dog, Rosie did better then she’s ever done before. Better today than yesterday! Or is it “then yesterday?” Yikes!

Despite the raincoat, it didn’t rain on them. Nope, the rain waited and then when it came, it came down hard, fast, and for a short period. I’d rather have that kind of rain than the kind that goes all day long!

After Rosie, Gretchen came to pick me up and we hopped in the car to go visit Zoe. I was still a little nervous, but I did a much better job greeting Zoe (then last time or than last time? Hmmmm? It’s still kind of confusing). Because we only had three dogs to walk today, everyone (including Rosie) got a little bit longer walk. Today, Zoe and I headed down to Genessee Meadow. I love the Meadow. It’s a big open field with a wetland right in the middle of it. When Gretchen and I go by ourselves, I sometimes get taken off the leash to play fetch or to run along the trails that meander throughout wetlands.

I was so hoping that would happen today and apparently Zoe was too. Since she’s still recovering from her knee surgery, she’s not allowed to run free, but boy did she try. First we walked around the Meadow, then we posed for photos (see, I’m a lot closer to the big girl this time). And then, we walked across the Meadow and both Zoe and I, extended at the end of our flexi-leashes, decided we wanted to romp. She went into a play bow, gave a big woof, and then I did the same.

“No, no, no,” Gretchen warned. “Zoe can’t play like that! Not yet, Rubin.” Bummer because you know what, I’d rather romp with Zoe than have to pose politely for pictures side by side. I mean, you’ve got to admit, she’s a cute girl, isn’t she?

But we behaved ourselves, though Zoe didn’t behave as well as I did. She really wants to play and who can blame her. Knee surgery has a long recovery and I bet she misses romping around like the puppy she is. She’ll heal up soon enough and THEN we can play!

Zoe happily went home and I looked forward to next week when I get to see her again. Then we were off to Saber’s house and that’s when the rain came down. Saber didn’t care and neither did I. That’s because we thought the tennis courts would be free, but guess what? They weren’t. People were playing tennis in the rain!  I guess they’re the kind of people who would say, “I’d rather play tennis in the rain than work at the office!”

So Saber and I went for a walk, down through the tunnel, then up through Colman Pea Patch where we posed by the bluebells and I practiced looking a little soggy.

Saber decided the fresh, tall grass looked mighty tasty so he started chowing down. Silly guy.

We made our way back over the hill, walked by those courts again and struck it lucky. They were empty. Wet, but empty. And so we played. I must say, I’d rather play on wet tennis courts than not play at all. I think Saber feels the same way.

We pretty much dried off by the time we took Saber home and then I got a special treat — I got to play fetch by myself in the little field. Better that than going home, I say.

And best of all, Gretchen kept her camera in her backpack. Not that I don’t mind all the photos — they really help me with this dog blog — but sometimes it’s more fun to play than mix it with work. You know what I mean?

I’m pretty sure I have this than/then thing down, though I still really have to think about it. Human language is so complicated. I mean, dogs have one word “woof” and it means lots and lots of things, but none of them are as confusing as than and then. Trust me.

Until tomorrow,


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