Undersocialized Charlie and my efforts to have a companion dog!

Among the many problems created by the pandemic is the under socialization of my puppy. My nine-month wait coincided with CoVid 19. Born on February 7th he arrived home just after society was shutting down. Governor Newsom declared a stay at home order in mid-March. We picked up Charlie at 7 weeks rather than chance not being about to make the 2-hour drive to Orland, Ca, and Serenity Springs Labradoodles.

So instead of allowing Charlie to have many social interactions during this critical puppy period, we were busy having our groceries picked up through e-cart, and sanitizing them before bringing them into the home. No one knew what we were up against. Social interactions consisted of listening to Amy teach us on Zoom. Charlie would sit next to my computer and together we learned. Amy’s voice and treats were our first classroom at Baxter & Bella online training. As more was known about CoVid 19 I reached out to my friend Carly and a few months ago we went to our first in-person training with other under-socialized puppies.

Nearing one year of age, Charlie now attends class with the “gifted” pups training to be CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) dogs. Sometimes this works, and sometimes not so much. Skateboarders, cyclists, and motorcycles are triggers (Puppy training language). He was so alert last week, that when I asked for a paw he followed the instruction with his eyes on the road. It was funny to watch but frustrating to teach. In this new 6 feet separation society when you take dogs in public you may not want to let anyone pet your dog. So to be polite, you can say, “Please don’t pet my dog, but if you want he can wave to you.” Giving a paw is the first step in teaching dogs to wave. Good adaptation for the pandemic. Right?

Being anxious is detrimental to learning. To desensitize Charlie I decided to park in front of a store and let him watch the world around him. He feels safe in the car. I give him treats when he is calm. I listened to an NPR interview with Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist. Her research specialty is dog cognition. I have since downloaded one of her audiobooks to take with us. A perfect soundtrack for people watching from the car. While we watch I capture some images with my Fuji x100f. I like this camera for street shooting.

Next time I will park right in front of entrance!
Looking in to the store.
Reading while walking.
Charlie, the ghost dog!

Last weekend my friends planned to walk the Johnny Cash Trail outside of Folsom Prison. Since my focus has been on Charlie I decided to take him with me. I brought my Fuji x100f to simplify the photo walk. This was a real test. I met the group in a shopping mall parking lot next to very busy, fast-moving street traffic. He was doing well considering the noise.

Right outside the razor-wired fence of Folsom Prison.

Group planning doesn’t always work out, so I decided to pass on the trail, and went in search of a nature trail. The Miner’s Ravine Nature Preserve parking lot was 1 1/2 miles down the road.

Came across this interesting tree. Such an expression What does it say to you?
Gave Charlie the command, “Wait!” He allowed me to take my photograph.
Raised manhole cover ahead. My friend Anne sees something else.
Charlie walks around the manhole cover.
I took this photo after our walk. I think the nature preserve was on the side that we did not visit. Or else Charlie did not pay attention to the sign. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!

Charlie relaxed, and when I asked him to wait, he allowed me to capture some images. This was a win-win situation.

He always recognizes our car, and is happy to jump in!

I plan to make a point to take Charlie out with me daily. After all, someday we all will not be homebound. I hope!

Connect and Reconnect

I finally decided that I needed to visit my dentist for a cleaning, and realized that CoVid 19 would no longer provide a good enough excuse. Teeth cleaned. My dentist wants to see me again in December. I needed to replace my tired electric toothbrush, and I purchased an updated version.

Not my toothbrush. Just an image of something I found while out taking pictures.

I quickly discovered that many changes have been made over the years. Now I needed a booklet of instructions. I read over the safety directions. My last brush had an on and off switch. I have 6 choices for various parts of my mouth: teeth, tongue, and gums, etc. One light lets me know if it is charging, and another tells me if I am pressing too hard. Ok, I understand the need for those lights. But I stop at the point of blue tooth connection. My brush can keep track of how well I brush each part of my mouth. Do I really need to know this? Maybe if I had problems with my teeth. I do not!

I have an Apple watch. Let me say straight out that I refuse to take directions from my watch when it tells me to stand or breathe. I purchased the watch feature to keep track of steps and listen to podcasts and music when out walking. I started to use it to answer my cell phone “Dick Tracy” style. Remarkably, most people I speak with don’t even know I am talking on my watch. Setting a timer, checking the weather, reading messages are helpful features. Sometimes I am asked if I fell and should I need help. Luckily, this necessary feature has not been used, yet. But last week I found that my watch let me know if I was washing my hands long enough. 20 seconds = Good job or Well done! Maybe the app developers are working on a way to let me know if I am standing too close to another person. Corona help me.

The telephone on the left depended on an operator to put through your call. It probably was part of a party-line based on the numbers on the dial at the top. The telephone on the right reminds me of my first experience with a telephone. As a telephone operator, I still put through a couple of party line calls in 1970’s.

One of my jobs while in college was that of a ATT switchboard operator. Boy do I have many stories about that time.
Early in my marriage I worked for a private company and ran the office switchboard. Voice mail has replaced this job.

Having a cell phone makes the pay phone a thing of the past. No more hunting for change. Looking for a working phone that won’t eat your nickels and dimes. No need to make collect calls.

In my first apartment when I worked for the telephone company, I did not have a telephone. My landlady’s phone was downstairs and if needed I could use it. In my second apartment, there was a payphone downstairs in the foyer. To reduce our rent we helped the landlord by doing odd jobs around Magnolia Manor. Many “interesting” characters lived in this house divided into one-room apartments. Hence, the continuous emergency calls.

Many an emergency call made late at night after searching for change under the bed.

I still have a landline as a backup. When it rings my dog Charlie gets all excited. I’m not exactly sure why. The phone is located near the front door, and he acts like he may miss an important call. So funny.

How many of you have a landline? I remember being connected with a cord and having to wait and wait and wait for a doctor to answer. Stuck. Cutting the cord was a BIG improvement. Cordless made its debut with an added addition of voice mail.

If you think about it our mobile phones have not been around for very long. In 1997 I connected using what looked like a large rectangular box. Searching the Internet I came across this article, The Evolution of Cell Phones. Now most everyone is dependent on using pocketable cell phones for much more than connecting with others.

In this time of isolation, I see more people reaching out by computer. And I often do this. But sometimes I just get the nerve and call someone that I haven’t spoken to in years. I find this a daunting task, but so far reactions have been well received. I have two aunts in their 90’s living on the east coast. The last time I saw them was 2004, and it was good to hear their voices. After the death of a second cousin early on in the pandemic I just felt the need to reach out to his wife (second cousin in law). I barely knew her, and she only knew of me through my parents, but I felt that she had been left alone in her house for the first time in probably over 60 years and she could use the company. She is not online, and her cell phone is her only connection. Forty-five years pass so quickly. With the help of the Internet, I was able to locate a college friend and call her up. Now if only Corona leaves we may get to visit. It turns out that her son now lives near me.

My Doodle Charlie helps me connect. Many doodle owners come together from all over and share. I sent out and received around 50-holiday greetings from other members of DoodleKisses. It’s fun to see all the different dogs. I reconnected with my friend Carly who is a CCI trainer. I wanted advice on socializing Charlie. Now Charlie and I attend class masked and outside with some very well behaved CCI pups in training. I belong to a couple of Doodle groups on FB. Feeling connected when raising a new puppy is important. We met other doodle owners at a local park in October. Charlie enjoyed his cup of whipped creme “Puppichino”. The larger doodles are teaching him how to share.

CoVid interferes with getting together now with the pandemic surge. Something to look forward to in 2021.

Zoom has helped many of my groups stay connected. Having a meeting scheduled gives my day some structure. It goes on my calendar, and I feel like I have made a commitment to attend. My brother and sister-in-law organized a Bingo Event, Birthday celebration, and Chanukah Party. I may not have gotten to eat any cake, but the connection is made!

Here’s to connecting and reconnecting in 2021!

My Life in the “New Normal”

My idea of living with the pandemic evolves. When I made the decision to cancel my trip to New York in March I was thinking about a couple of months and then a return to the way I usual do life. As many hunkered down, I prepared for lockdown mode. My pantry had enough provisions, and I bonded with my puppy.

Things opened up, but my husband and I kept to ourselves mostly. Went out only when the risk warranted. Learned how to Zoom, and kept in touch by telephone and FaceTime. I enrolled Charlie in classes online Zoom style. Risk lowered, and the nice weather called me to explore the world. But still I hesitated.

After I took Charlie to the groomer I was tempted to lower my guard and take myself for a haircut. The last time I had my haircut was in early February. It seems like a lifetime ago. For the first time in many, many decades I can pull my hair back into a ponytail. Not exactly the look I was going for in my seventies. So I masked up, called up my stylist, and trimmed up my hair. My hair is now one length, I can still pull it back if I need to, and I feel so much better.

Selfies are not my thing!

So here come the holidays. Halloween just passed, and I decided that I would avoid the “Trick or Treat” scene. My grandsons stopped by in their costumes and looked like they had a fun day.

Actually the only character I recognized was “The Hulk”, but they all looked Super!

As it happens, our block was especially quiet. Not one visitor rang our doorbell. I hope that by next year Charlie will be able to calmly greet costumed kids.

Charlie calmly sharing time with us while we play Zoom BINGO with Ed and Leti!

This year would have been a challenge. Maybe next year I will find a Halloween collar that I know I still have somewhere in the house. I have a full year to decide what if any humiliating costume I will put on Charlie.

For now, I can look over my photos of Halloween over the years. Staring Alyssa, Isaac, Eli, Lucas and Wyatt. Rachel and Sean are along for the ride!

Next year we have another Pumpkin to treat!

Our election is over in everyone’s mind except for you know who. I worry about the next couple of weeks until January 20th. What’s life without something to worry about?

Sanity restoration needed for 2021!

My grandson’s 5th and 3rd birthday sandwich Thanksgiving Day. The country is not moving in a good direction with the pandemic. Numbers are rising, and I hope to ride out CoVid 19 and really have something to celebrate in 2021! So I guess, as all the special occasions that have been delayed these celebrations will need to wait.

For now, I will shop online, be thankful for all that surrounds me, and enjoy the little things that make my life special.

What is the new normal?

Calm. What is it? Pushing and pulling is what I am feeling. Time to think, but my mind seems to wander. So much to comprehend. So much to try to explain to friends.

Issues arise when there is no one at the top delivering reliable information. Truth, whose truth, what numbers do I believe? I understand this is a “novel” virus. Much is being learned as CoVid 19 affects the population. I am listening to the CDC advice (Stay home, Stay masked, Stay 6 feet apart!). I am a face toucher so the mask/bandana reminds me to be careful about what I touch. I am not comfortable around people, and have pretty much stayed in lockdown mode. If I must go out, it is for a short time.

Sacramento/Fair Oaks is currently at Stage 2 reopening rules. Stores have opened up for business as usual. I have been in two stores, but I still feel uncomfortable shopping, and will probably continue to rely on my computer for most orders. Besides, I really don’t miss shopping malls. I have pandemic proof hair and I am not hiding my silver curls. I’m letting my hair grow, for now. One day I will be ready to go to Total Beauty Experience and see Yvonne. Until then, I wait.

Me and my Charlie. Loose curls on both of us. (Photo by my friend)

Since things are relaxing here in California I feel more defensive about my position to remain at home. Or stay masked. Or stay 6 feet from people. The longer this goes on the less sure I am about what is best. Sometimes I feel a bit of pressure to get out, but then I gravitate to stay home, and feel safer. My grandchildren live 5 minutes away. They have, for the most part, been staying away from crowds. Last week we had our first heat wave (100+ degrees) and I visited my grandchildren while they played in their pool. I thought I would give my daughter a break. Being home with 4 kiddos eight and under is not an easy task. At the same time, keeping 6 feet apart, and masked is not really possible either.

Even camera distance apart is hard with a two year old

On my birthday, David, Charlie, and I went over for some delicious birthday cake from Pastry Heaven.

Wouldn’t you like to have a taste of this?

This also was Charlie’s first outing. Not too excited to see Max, my daughter’s older Pomeranian. The two dogs probably will not end up being best buddies. There is a big age difference, and they pretty much ended up ignoring each other. Charlie was delighted to play with the boys and socialization is moving ahead.

CoVid has not been handled efficiently. All the blustery talk did nothing to prevent this country from ranking number 1 in deaths. The pandemic has called into question unfair practices that have existed forever. Health care is not equal, and with growing unemployment, many are losing their health benefits. Poor people with no savings, homelessness, price gouging, everyone staying inside, and loss of family support led to major frustrations. Especially affected were those in nursing homes, veteran homes, and prisons. I can’t tell you how many of the Holocaust survivors have died from CoVid in such a short amount of time. People who didn’t feel the impact of family deaths have begun to protest and push back on the restrictions to their “freedoms”. Being a child of two Holocaust survivors, I can’t help thinking about their lives under the Nazis, and how long they did without. Protesting, disregarding CDC advice, and celebrating Memorial Day with extensive partying, turned this pandemic into a political event. I understand that for some it is important to get back to work, but many people are just over living responsibly. To mask, or not to mask. Rights and freedom to live. This is after all an election year. November 3rd can’t come fast enough.

As I write this entry, my country is protesting the death of George Floyd. A black man who was murdered in daylight, on camera, by 4 police officers. First the pandemic, and now the mistreatment of our black men and women, has finally pushed people to stand up to this and request justice. This country has now seen over 2 weeks of protests. On the positive side, I see a variety of people – black, white, old, and young committed to making a change. So along with the protest, the hard work begins. Many are hopeful that this may be a turning point in race relations. I can only hope. All I can say is be sure to VOTE in November!!!