Leverage

Three little words in our home are equal in power to any weapon of mass destruction. The biggest and oldest of our two Bichon Frise, Annie-Annie, not only understands what we say, she buys into the power of persuasion when it comes to her Daddy.

Weekend mornings, she lays in wait, listening for any of the three, harmless little words. “Go.” “Walk.” or “Leash”.

Sometimes, when the Bichons are outside, my husband will whip open the slider and simply raise the leash like a flag – a beacon of hope that Annie has not been forgotten. Other times, the two will have a elongated stare down. The subliminal hope in a thought that she will get to strut and brag with her beloved daddy down the street.

Then, those mornings, when the moment seems right. I whisper a key word under my breath. Ever vigilant, she typically looks at us in disbelief. Of course, I cannot say with all certainty that my husband is ready for a little jaunt, however, there is no turning back the clock to the moment before the “mistaken” utterance. “Oops! Sorry Hon.” I mock wearing a devilish, sideways smile.

“Well then, I better get my shoes, and you better get your leash.” ~ Dan Frye

“Peeves do not make very good pets.” ~ Bo Bennett

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Wag

What a gorgeous string of days. Deepening into Fall, the morning air begins crisp changing to a gentle golden warmth for our personal afternoon enjoyment. The best time of the year, in my opinion, to get out – before the deepening of the season turns into the snows that are sure to come.

Dawning the bling known as her harness, the Bichon Frise struts herself excitedly down the sidewalk. I get to come along. Shes a stunner, but she hardly knows it. As friendly as they come, she’s only looking to make another friend – a friend out of any bird, dog, cat, human or bug. This fuzzy little girl has never met a stranger.

With Autism in the family, discipline is considered a four letter word. It’s difficult to punish behaviors, odd and unleveled as they come, since it is considered the first form of communication. Observation and tolerance leads into a word, statement and ultimately a sentence to share a thought, passion or even irritation with a person on the Spectrum.

The dogs grew in the same home – and have inherited a bevy of “abject behaviors” that escalate the moment she moves herself out the front door with that certain saucy swagger that only a Bichon possesses.

Delicious smells coupled with delirious freedoms await the very recipient of the “Pretty Girl Walk”. Shortly out the door we start with a full on “Jesus Christ Pose”. Nose down, legs straight out – for what can only be known as a “Full Body Sniff.” (I sense you can visualize my nemesis in action, no?) I execute the first “heliport” lift from the top of her harness of the day.

She jogs, I waddle. We argue repeatedly. The poor man coming our direction? He was almost taken down by her attentions. He said shes a good girl, cute too while I heliport her, again, and turn the corner towards home.

Awesome! Here comes the Quail trying to make a run across the street! “Mom, Mom, MOMMMMMMMM!!! Let’s GO! GO! GOOD LORD MOM MOVE IT, MOVE IT, MOVE IT!!!!!!!”

Faltering on the drag of the leash, I trip, fall and now I am in full “Jesus Christ Pose” facedown on the turf. Swearing towards erectness she, not so patiently, waits. I turn again to limp home. Beautiful. Another classic Annie move. She darts, I drift and die.

Arriving home we meet up with Lilly, a shadow in size and personality to Annie. Flinging her bling, the big girl turns and smiles, yes SMILES after us. She so knows she possesses the worst behaviors imaginable. She knows she struts and brags. She smells kitchen scents through the windows to the outside. She senses when someone is thinking of going to the refrigerator. We are not in control of our home, Annie is.

With a heavy sigh I turn to Lilly. “Tomorrow little one. Tomorrow we will win a battle, together.”
We look to Annie and I swear, I swear it to my grave….she winked back at us. That saucy little wench, she winked, turned and sauntered off. “Annie!” ~ Wendy Frye

“Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” ~ Ann Landers

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Missed Adventure

Sometimes, and you know when it happens, the Universe hands you your backside and you decide, with all the dignity you can muster, you must make a choice.

This happened, again, in our family the other day. Our oldest, diagnosed Autistic, graduated high school with honors – and we were set to celebrate. BIG! A vacation, a little time carved out for each other, traveling to a strange and wonderful place together. A time to explore the possibilities that the future has to hold. San Francisco! A haven for the artist within our oldest, and the dynamic venues available to our youngest – who’s thirst for knowledge will never be quenched.

Plans were drawn up, tickets bought and at the last moment, mayhem. Our dog sitter didn’t show up. It was at the last minute we realized how vulnerable the two little white dogs we love so fiercely had meant everything to us. The slippery slope of quick change for our oldest can make or break any adventure – and no amount of planning could so quickly derail all our efforts to take a break as a family and adverted the disaster that loomed Sunday morning.

She just didn’t show up. An agenda aside of our own, we never realized how a vindictive wife of my husbands friend could so easily change our fates. How her callous disregard for our sons victory dance to San Fran, after a long school career and the regaled graduation of our eldest. We trusted this person, who had known our family for 10 years, and had cut and styled or sons hair from the time he couldn’t cope with the sound of clippers in our home, the very person who just didn’t show up.

We proverbially woke up, shifted admirably, and I dropped off the three most important men in my life at the airport. At the break of dawn, there we were, plans blown up – and surprisingly the subsequent damage to our sons dream vacation was minimizing as the minutes ticked by.

What an alien feeling coming home, alone, to the dogs who were snubbed by the woman they saw only two nights ago, nuzzled and loved on her as they do us. A quick woe is me post on Facebook netted several phone calls from real friends willing to come over and salvage our plans.

No, we had already made the on the spot decision to send my husband solo with the boys. A male bonding adventure, complete with municipal traveling, arriving at the wrong hotel, with low blood sugared sons competing for security with the man they know as their father. He was just as alone as I, in a strange place – pulling up his big boy pants, he is now on point, determined to show his sons the time of their lives……..

My other mother, Cynthia, called me to talk it out. “The Universe is telling me something here.” , I say. “Yes, and everything happens for a reason.” She replied. We laughed out loud at how my husband went to the wrong hotel after I told him every day for 2 months that it was the Hyatt ON the Pier. (Who knew there were TWO Hyatt’s in San Francisco!) Really, they will be fine, and now – after two phone calls on day two, they are having a great time, without me – and that is the best news, ever!

I was disappointed for a while. But you know, navigating the lives of the members of my family so throughly and for so long nets me a little me time to call my own, too. It is worth what we are out for my plane fare and cost of a hotel bed for this, this forced bonding time for the boys.

Chasing the dogs back to bed from the front room window, where they keep watch for the rest of the family, kept me up most of the night. But alas, I had a long lunch with my mother in law today, one of only a hand full of times we’ve had 3 minutes to string together for each other. We went shopping, nixing the mall for the salvage stores and having a delightful bite at the local bistro. It was priceless spending time with her…..and I promised to do a better job in the future.

An era has come to an end. My two boys – they are not the babies I borne or the little boys I worried over for so long and so intently, especially the eldest with Autism. No, they are men of the world now. And their father? He is making the mutual memories with them to call his own with the two young men he helped craft over the years. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful!

So right now? I’m going to eat Fritos and string cheese for dinner, chase the dogs off “Daddy’s Chair” and wait for the next phone call from my family. Spending time in boxer shorts, cruising the internet and Facebook has been delectable. Can’t wait to hear about the mis-adventures and experiences they have shared together – alone in a big city – without me, the navigator of the family.

A long, long time ago, my very close friend Jenny told me every year for Mother’s Day she spent 24 delectable hours alone at a local hotel with the explicit orders to her family that she was not to be disturbed. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES was she to be disturbed, and that meant blood too. It was her time to recharge – the mother of three children that includes twins all under the age of two years old, living under the roof of a single wide mobile home trailer. All the while raising them all at the same time. Her husband honored her wishes and she found her center, once a year – and now, I get it. Alone time is divine, in small doses actually therapeutic. OMG Jenn, I get it.

Thank you Universe – this time to myself is welcome. The hand dealt to my husband, alone with his boys also, again very welcome. Now please, move along to the next family, hand them theirs so they learn the lesson of solitude and sharing the responsibilities of life – and please, leave a little more time for us, the ones who have learned and honor your wishes. Because ultimately, all we have are our memories, and in the end? Its the time well spent, together, and apart – that is most remembered by all.

~ Wendy Frye

“Fathering makes a man, whatever his standing in the eyes of the world, feel strong and good and important, just as he makes his child feel loved and valued.” ~ Frank Pittman

Lilly

After a year of only one dog, Annie, Daddy’s dog and beautiful girl, we began to wonder if one dog could be so much fun, why not get another? It was only in consideration of Annie and the long, lonely days she spent waiting for us to get home, of course.

The boys were trying to sell me that the anxiety ridden, people pleasing little white dog needed a “buddy”. I resisted, you see, it was just giving my husband a license to pick himself up another personal pet. Annie ADORED Daddy. It was obnoxious being the other woman in the house. Annie would personally herd me to wherever Daddy was. The boys thought it was sweet. I, however, saw through her little game. I have survived, but really, another one?

So, the morning of Father’s Day, just in time my husband and kids Summer Break, there appeared in the local paper THE advertisement. The advertisement featured that same little white, fuzzy face dotted with coal black eyes. “Mom!” Let’s get Dad another dog for Father’s Day! You know Annie would love it! My husbands head swung around, locking his hazel greens on my steely blues and I knew it was just not a suggestion anymore.

The boys and my husband piled in the Prius and drove the 100 or so miles to pick up the newest drama queen of the house. I stayed home with “The Annie”. It was awesome, Me, Annie and her last day of being the star of the household. “Let me know how it feels big girl. Let me know how you feel when you too are usurped by an outrageously expensive little ball of fur.”

From what I heard there were at least 7 litter mates up for selection. My oldest stayed in the car and my youngest eagerly (ADHDish) checked out the puppies. They called and let Annie and I know they found another beautiful girl puppy! Awesome! I’ll bake the cake – not.

A couple of hours later the boys pulled up in the drive. Ever so stressed out, excited, and obviously overwhelmed they entered the front doorway and called out the warning that the new puppy was home.

Annie, missing her boys, was thrilled! She stood up, twirled in circles, and then froze. She smelled the trouble. I looked over, and noticed one thing. Her tail was wagging. It was wagging the wag of the Alpha female. She had to have known!

Poor little Lilly, Lou Lou. To be so cute and have “The Annie” breathing fire upon your very presence. We sat down in the living room, circled up, and took the baby out of her travel box. Oh, and she was a little baby. Younger than Annie when we first picked her up – and what did that baby do? She looked us all in the eye, whined a pathetic little whine, and immediately walked up to the kibble bowl and dug out a morsel. She dropped in down in front of “The Annie” and proceeded to eat. A little mind of her own!

What? Oh, ya, she was fully trained on being a certified pig dog. Annie came from a puppy-millish place. Lilly, raised in the kitchen of a grandmotherly woman who poached a few puppies for a friend….but I digress.

Little Lilly Lou Lou. What a sweet, little baby doll. She ended up being the best friend to Annie. So cute, and so little. She is a runt. True confessions a year later? Our son had dropped her on her head and felt so horrible that he felt he needed to be her indentured servant the rest of her days. (He dropped her 4 inches from the floor, but what is a bleeding heart to do?)

Lilly and Annie eagerly await the opportunity to co-chase evil joggers and walker -by’s from the settee in the front room. Yes, they have their own little couch, with blankets and pillows from which to spend the day observing life go by. Lilly personally has chased the mail-man from the front window so many numerous times – dutifully protecting her family from USPS evilness.

They are a pair, Annie and Lilly. And yes, they are now both Daddy’s Girls. I am mincemeat – only good at giving treats in the morning before dashing off to work. But then, every once in awhile….Annie will come and rest her head on my lap asking for belly pets. That little poser, she really does love me too.

~ Wendy Frye

Antionette

The allergist warned us every year, for 10 years, not to bring an animal into our home due to the medical history of our children.

The summer of our 11th year with that allergist, we rebelled. It was the 4th of July. I had just mentioned to my husband that I met a gal at work who had these super cute, friendly, forgiving, fuzzy, happy little white dogs, the Bichon Frise, and they are reportedly hypo-allergenic.

What heresy against our allergist this was to even discuss the possibility of a family dog! How delicious it was to be so rebellious! Phoned the gal, found a dog, jumped in our truck, went to the local pet store, bought everything imaginable for a new puppy, went to McDonalds, got hopped up on MSG, drove the 1 1/2 hours arriving at the other side of the County, and met our fate.

She was our girl. Oh, what a little looker! Big, round black eyes surrounded by fluffy white fur. She saw our kids and walked right up to them. It was a match! Even if we had to break out the epi-pen everyday, we were hooked!

We paid the strange lady, loaded our precious cargo back in the truck, and nervously drove home. SHHHHHH! She’s sleeping! “No music, no talking, stop singing, can’t you be quiet?” This was our oldest son, the one on the Spectrum, dictating our behavior. Precious 🙂

Arriving home, our eldest, carefully picked up the dog carrier with its furry cargo, and christened the door with her arrival to our home. It was one moment we will all cherish forever. Annie, as we call her, was acclimated to living in our home over a long, wonderful summer. My husband was off work and was able to do all the potty training, over-sight and behavior intervention with the kids. And boy, is she ever Daddy’s Girl.

Being absent during her early months heralded me the Omega to her Alpha in the home. Daddy gets sweet licks, I get the dark looks. She herds the family, pounces on me in my sleep, mimics me with her hussy walk, and from time to time even attempts to hump my leg (if she thinks I’m not paying her attention).

But really, how wonderful is it to come home, see where my oldest has dropped his backpack, skid over to the puppy pen, and in my mind, only imagine the loving reunion taking place every day. Awesome!

She is a monster. She thinks she runs our home. She loves my kids. She is Annie, Annie-Bannanie, and she completes us.

~ Wendy Frye