July 1, 2010

Sticky Leaves

Everyone has their irritations in life. For me, it’s one something gets on my fur like a twig or leaf. I get very upset. Sometimes, when the wind is particularly whipped up it will blow through my fur and I can’t stand it. I twist and turn and try to get the wind out between my hairs. I can’t, of course, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

But lately the large maple tree right outside our house (identical to all the others on our block) has been kind of an irritation. First, it has these seed pods that drop all over the place. They’re just the right size to get stuck under shoes or worse, in between my pads. Then these furry pods fall from the tree and the latch onto me like barbed wire.

I’m pretty good at ripping all of that off, but what I really find irritating and the thing I struggle with the most are the sticky, sappy leaves that are currently falling from the tree. I don’t remember this happening last year and Gretchen concurs — for some reason the sap on the maple trees is running wild! Leaves scatter all over the ground — green ones, not yellow or gold ones — and they are covered in something equivalent to rubber cement.  Gretchen calls it maple syrup and I guess, given that the tree is a maple, that just may be what it is.

Regardless, her shoes and my pads are pretty sick and tired of it. They latch on and no matter how hard I pull with my teeth, those leaves won’t come off. Or worse, they come off in pieces — crumbled sticky leaves stuck in my teeth and on my feet and fur.

Yep, that is probably the thing that irritates me the most of late. I think Gretchen’s pretty sick of them too. And the car — you should see the globs of sap that cover it! We washed the car the other weekend and within a day, blobs that looked like resin were splattered all over. One day I even saw a squirrel (they usually catch my attention) who had a big sticky leaf plastered on his two back legs. “Here’s my chance,” I thought knowing that the little guy was pretty crippled — like a tripod trying to make an escape — but when I lunged toward him, he bunny-hopped his way down the street too fast for me to catch.

I had to laugh, though. Even the squirrels find the sticky leaves irritating.

But there are other irritants in life. Each of us has our own list. For Ollie, the irritations come in the form of cats (I can relate). When we walk, he is always on the lookout. If he sees a cat perched in a windowsill or on a doorstep, he leaps up and barks with irritated excitement. I appreciate his alerts because I, too, like to pester the cats, but for Ollie it’s as if the cats were put solely in this work to bug him.

Quillette’s irritant is frisky dogs. As an older gal, she doesn’t much like it when a young dog comes racing toward her with unbridled excitement. She’ll snarl and snap if need be. Luckily, Ollie understood the rules and was very good about approaching the old bird.

Rosie has many irritants — cats among them — but another one is loud and rumbling trucks or buses. Boy do they make her jump! If they rumble by too close, she skitters away and tries to get as low to the ground as possible. That’s when Gretchen finds a beautiful garden for Rosie to meditate and relax. Works like a charm every time!

I’m tempted to say that Gemma is the irritant in many instances, but I suppose that wouldn’t be too nice. Do things irritate her? At first, I didn’t think so, but today as walked up to get Woobie, a city light crew was working on some lines and they had a machine to trim away the branches. Gemma did not like that at all. She, too, tried to skitter away, but Gretchen reassured her and I tried to explain that humans make all sorts of bizarre noises but that we wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her!

Now Woobie, I think, isn’t irritated by much, but then again Gemma was kind of an irritant today. She just gets so excited to see Woobie that she wants to play right away and Woobie, equally excited to see us, races around the porch and up and down the steps to her house that Gemma can’t help but play bite at her. Woobie doesn’t like that much, but Woobie knows amazing restraint. She’ll snarl and then quickly back away and go about her business. Yes, Gemma might be an irritant for Woobie, but Woobie doesn’t hold onto the irritation for long.

Saber is irritated by one thing mainly and that’s his nose collar. He hates that thing. He spends all his time trying to get it off, so much so that when Gretchen has to take his photo, she pulls it off and makes him pose in a stay position. If there were sound for this photo, it would be, “Ahhhh, that feels so much better!”

Of course, when he’s playing with me, he could care less about the nose collar!

I’m just getting to know Paige, but today I got to see her irritations. We headed out on our walk and this time, instead of weaving through the neighborhoods, we climbed up a long couple flights of stairs and ended up in a great little spot with lots and lots of trails. (I’m sworn to secrecy about this particular location, but you’ll have to trust me that it was pretty amazing and fun.) Of course, Paige and I are both nursing mild injuries so we were not allowed off leash. Bummer.

But it’s super bummer for Paige because she LOVES to chase things and the things at this wooded, traily location were rabbits!!! Oh my, oh my, oh my! I got as excited as Paige, but because of some superficial owies we weren’t allowed to chase them. I have to admit, that irritated me as much as it did Paige…well, almost. She got pretty agitated, so much so that we had to abandon the walk on the trails and head back to the safer streets of the neighborhood.

Not before a photo op. Though I must tell you that one of my other irritants is one dogs touch me. Saber will often butt into me or in the car, while we’re driving Gemma will want to be right next to me. I do not like this in the least and will often loudly show my disapproval. But today, while posing with Paige, she sidled up to me in a very affectionate way and I must admit, it was very nice. I didn’t snarl or move away. Instead, I leaned right into her and we both enjoyed the moment.

I think there’s a lesson in all of this — something about trying new things and trying not to be irritated — but frankly, it’s been a long day and the lessons will have to wait until tomorrow.

Until then — I sure hope life’s irritants stay clear of your paths!

Rubin

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