Friends Should Let Friends Ride Buses

My mom gets all knotted up around this time of year, which means I get to earn my keep as Official Stress Relief source. It’s not a role I chose when I got adopted.

Here’s what happens. My mom Cathy hates to drive. That’s why she moved to a city. She rents out her garage space.

Okay, she’s weird. She actually loves riding buses. She would rather ride buses than cabs. “The drivers gab on their cell phones,” she says,”or I have to talk to them and listen to their political views. On a bus I get to read or sleep. We help the environment. What’s not to like?”

I like buses in Seattle too. I get to sit on my mom’s lap and look out the window. The bus drivers like me. Other passengers fuss over me.

But then we go visit her friends. When it’s time to go home, my mom wants to take the bus. “It’s safe,” she says. “It’s free because I have a pass. It’s very comfortable and I can sleep or catch up on my email via cell phone. And it’s usually faster than driving because buses barrel through the lights and barge past the cars. What’s the problem?”

The problem is, her friends get upset. “It’s dark. It’s a holiday. We can’t let you take the bus.”

My mom won’t let them drive her. “If anything happened on a dark holiday night,” she says, “I’d never forgive myself. Anyway, why should they make a long car trip? The bus is 2 blocks away.”

So she ends up either refusing the invitation (even though she likes going and the friends enjoy having her over) or calling a cab that costs almost $40 (plus listening to the driver’s cell phone chatter and having to explain that “the dog is friendly and doesn’t shed much”) and resenting the whole thing.

Today she was discussing the problem with my Aunt Sara, the dogwalker, while I waited patiently to get going. Aunt Sara is usually on her side, but this time she said, “No way. I won’t let friends take a bus, especially on a holiday.”

Aargh. My mom hates it when she can’t change people’s minds. See, if I’d waited long enough, I’d have been adopted by a rich owner with a couple of Mercedes who really liked to drive…

Best sight-seeing in Seattle: Magnuson Dog Park

Yesterday my mom’s friend Bob was still visiting from Florida. Mom’s known Bob for years, since they were both professor at U of Alaska in Fairbanks.

“So what do you want to do today?” Mom asked Bob. “I have a brilliant idea. Let’s take Gracie to Magnuson Dog Park!”

They were a little worried that the skies would be gray. Maybe we’d even get some rain. Humans are ridiculous. They run at the sight of just one raindrop.

Luckily for all of us, we had a magnificent day. Mom’s camera batteries died so she didn’t get the photos she wanted but otherwise I got to go wading. I became special friends with an Australian something-or-other that looks like a border collie.

Bob is an outdoors kind of guy and Mom is the ultimate city gal. So Magnuson was a good compromise. And since Bob doesn’t have a dog, Mom wanted to make sure he got a great dog experience while visiting. I sat on Bob’s lap on the bus to Magnuson and most of the way home.

Then Bob treated Mom to dinner at an Indian restaurant since Mom had treated him to the basketball game on Saturday night. Mom had a glass of wine and she was SO tired we ended up falling asleep early. Around midnight we woke up and Mom finally took me out for a walk. Whew…what a relief! But I’m glad we waited. I don’t want to lose my mom to a DWWI: Dog-Walking-While-Impaired.

Friends over for dinner? No way…

My mom was skimming through a library book, Life Is Friends: A Complete Guide to the Lost Art of Connecting in Person, by Jeanne Martinet.

She isn’t crazy about the author’s idea: Invite people over for dinner. My mom would have to bring food from the deli section of Metropolitan Market. Her guests would have to sit on the floor.

“And we would have to schedule dinner for the day the cleaning service comes.” Alas, so true! The book says don’t bother to clean for guests. I think they need to make an exception for my mom.

“This book is so filled with detailed instructions,” Mom said, leafing through the pages.  “Look at this, Gracie. All these details about houseguests, househosts, challenging situations like drunken brawls…

“Oh no!”

My ears perked up.

“If you’re single, you are supposed to invite two couples over to avoid the dreaded triangle…and preferably a single friend for yourself.”

Mom tossed the book ainto the “return immediately” pile.  She got up from our couch and headed off to find her shoes.

“Come on, Gracie. Let’s go for a walk. We need to go by the pet store and order you some food.”

Yes! She just said the magic words. They usually have a treat for me, too. Dogs have friends everywhere.

Ah, the pressures of royalty…

My mom Cathy showed me a news story about Britain’s Prince Harry, the younger son of Princess Diana and Prince Philip.

“When princes and princesses take trips,” she said, “they are supposed to carry out works of charity. They visit people who are sick or disadvantaged. They inspire everyone who sees them. They show their flag.”

OK, mom, what’s your point? I do good things, too.

Today when we were in the dog park, I stood patiently next to people who wanted to give me a good back rub and butt scratch. Ooh, that felt good. But hey, it’s not about me. People feel good when they pat a dog. Their blood pressure drops. I am contributing to the health of our nation’s citizens.

I’m especially good to people on buses. When I’m sitting in my mom’s lap, people come over and talk to me. They rub my head. They tell my mom all about the dogs they owned years ago. Some of those people look like they haven’t had a conversation in ages.

True,. some of the conversations are a little offbeat. My mom just smiles and nods. I sit stoically and say nothing. I never bite anyone, even when they smell like tobacco or booze, which I hate. I never lick anybody. OK, I might give them a good sniff, but my mom pulls me back when I get too close.

And then there are people walking by or sitting on nearby benches, smoking or just drinking coffee. These people almost always need a dog fix. They need to give me a big hug. It’s called two-minute therapy. That’s what I do best.

We walk in the sunshine

Yesterday my mom decided we should go for a long walk. The weather was beautiful, she said, and she wanted more exercise. Have you ever noticed that when Mom wants exercise, I have to walk too?

We took a bus to the top of Queen Anne hill (thank goodness – it’s very steep). We walked to the pet store. So many wonderful dog treats! I couldn’t wait to see what Mom would buy me.

Bad news.

“Gracie, you have enough treats,” my mom said. “This time we are getting something for Ophelia. She’s been playing with pieces of paper and I want her to have something she can’t swallow.”

Have you noticed that Ophelia’s taking over? My mom feels a special bond with that cat because she nursed Ophelia to health last fall. You’d think Ophelia would hate the person who shoved food down her throad twice a day. But no: there’s a mutual adoration society in our home.

The people at the pet store were very helpful. “Here’ s a catnip toy,” they suggested. “She couldn’t swallow this one.”

“But Gracie could,” my mom said, giving me the eye. “And Gracie will play with everything. She loves catnip.” Right, mom. Tell the world.

We walked away with a catnip log that’s not even interesting. What a wasted trip. And when I say “walked,” I mean that literally. We walked all the way down the hill to our home.

“Every time we pass a bus stop,” Cathy says, “Gracie wants to stop and wait for a bus!” Well, why not? My mom let a perfectly good Number 2 Bus – our favorite – get away.

“Walking is good for us,” she said firmly.

Ophelia loves her new cat toy. She has no dignity for a cat of her age and size. I’m too tired to care. And I need to save my energy for my trip to the park with Aunt Sara. We CUPPIEs need our beauty sleep.

Back to normal (more or less)

After the cat food fiasco, my mom has been feeding me small amounts of crunchies mixed with rice. I’m eating.  I’m happy and healthy. See, mom? No bit deal. I haven’t dragged you out at 2 AM for the last two nights.

The cats are another story. Cathy doesn’t want me eating their food so she put their dishes on the kitchen counter. Creampuff enjoys jumping up. Ophelia, who’s not exactly skinny, says that waddling is more her style. So Cathy lifts he up a few times a day, hoping she’ll get the message.

Ophelia’s not into messages. I think she was spoiled rotten in her first home. But give her credit: she’s adjusted well, all things considered. Some cats hide in a closet for a whole year. Or a lifetime.

Ophelia just hides in her kitty condo.

Canine Urban Princess Gets The Ultimate Day in the City

Mom says today was the ultimate in urban living for a canine — and for her, too. She was behind schedule so we flagged down a Yellow Cab to take me to the Dog Lounge.

We CUPPIEs know how to ride in a cab. I sat straight on my mom’s lap, looking out the window, and didn’t budge. The driver likes dogs (otherwise he wouldn’t have stopped for us). I started to help him by licking the window, but my mom was horrified. “Gracie,” she said, “you don’t need to wash the windows.”

I spent a delightful morning being pampered with a workout in the Big Dog area, followed by a bath, pedicure and ear trim. Summer gave me a beautiful red and white bandanna to wear home. Everybody on the bus made a fuss over me. “Such a well-behaved dog,” they said. “So beautiful.” It was a community of urban bus riders. And all created by me.

“What’s her name?”

“Gracie. Amazing Gracie. Or Princess Gracie.”

“What’s her breed?”

“All American Mutt,” my mom says proudly.

Come on, Mom. You’re a copywriter. Can’t you come up with something more…regal?

Yeah, right.

Urban Dog Uncovers Owner’s Core Gifts

My mom Cathy just signed up for a training program on info products. For her first assignment, she is supposed to ask 10 people (family, friends and colleagues) to answer three questions to uncover her core gift

Cathy hates this stuff. She’d rather write 3 info products in a weekend than ask people to help her answer these questions. Most people she knows would rather be boiled in oil than do this. And it’s just south of woo-woo land.

But since I fit into the “family” category, I thought I’d (pardon the expression) dig into these questions.

Q1: In your opinion, what do you think I’m naturally good at doing?

A: From where I sit (currently under the coffee table), I think you’re naturally good at selecting dogs. First you chose Keesha from the Broward County Humane Society and then — seven years later at the opposite end of the country — you chose me on Petfinder.

OK, you didn’t really choose me. I chose you. And yeah, I know you thought about sending me back. But who’s kidding who? Once I started sitting in your lap on the bus, I knew: we were a team.

Q2. In the past, what have you been able to rely on me for?

Food. Dog beds (one in each room…and I’ll take the sofa anytime, thank you very much). More food. Walks. Excursions to the dog park. Food. Visits to the vet. Training (we could skip this one if you get busy). A kong to chew when I’m alone in my crate. Two cats to entertain me and keep me humble. My own corner of your sofa. My big bag of chewies.

Oh yeah, did I say food?

Q3. What do you feel are my top 3 strengths and talents?

Well, I hope you’re a good copywriter, because you couldn’t make a living with your domestic skills, like housekeeping or cooking. I do my best to help by nibbling stray crumbs here and there, but you’re a challenge.

OK, here goes:

Talent #1: You learn fast. When I first got here, you said, “No dogs on the furniture..and never on my bed!” So I slept in my crate for the first few months, slurping on my peanut butter kong.

But soon you caught on to the deal I offered: no chewing your socks if I could sit on the couch. And I wouldn’t eat the cat food if I could sleep on the foot of your bed.

Hey, a deal’s a deal. You immediately saw the win-win possibilities. I knew your MBA would count for something.

Talent #2: You’re highly intuitive.

When I sit next to the door, looking pathetic, you know I need to go out…right away. When I put my head in your lap and look soulfully into your eyes, you slam the laptop closed and grab the leash. You easily predict the future of your rug if you don’t get us out to the street.

Talent #3: You’re a shameless self-promoter.

Every time we ride the bus, you tell everyone in earshot our story. All it takes is one question: “What’s her name? How old? What kind?”

You don’t hesitate. “Gracie. Five. All-American Mutt but she thinks she’s a princess. Rescued from a humane society in Bellingham. No, not a shelter – foster home. Isn’t she well-behaved? I am so proud of her…”

It gets better. We walk to the Queen Anne branch of the library. Almost always some nice person is sitting on the steps. “What a good dog,” they say.

This is my cue. I turn my Cuteness level up to Maximum Strength, snuggling and prancing around.

After the unsuspecting victim has been totally won over, you say, “Gee, do you think you could keep an eye on her for just a minute while I run in and return a book? She doesn’t like to be tied up outside and she tries to run away…”

When you come back, everybody’s smiling. The mark even thanks you for the privilege of spending time with me. You may be a great salesperson, but I’m the champ when it comes to delivering customer service.

OK, I did my part with the questions. If you’re reading this blog and you know Cathy, please volunteer to answer the questions. She won’t want to ask. I just hope she keeps writing stuff that sells. Urban dogs don’t come cheap.

Contact info here:

Yes…I have to ride naked.

My mom, Cathy, doesn’t mind spending money on me. She’ a very generous owner. I get trips to the dog park and outings with my Aunt Sara. I eat high quality dog food (when my tummy isn’t doing the tango…otherwise I have to eat yukky rice). I have a kind vet who keeps reminding Cathy that I’m a great dog. And the folks at the Downtown Dog Lounge adore me. They use me for temperament testing when a new dog comes.

As soon as the weather gets just the least bit chilly, all the dogs in the park start dressing up. They have little coats and sweaters. They look so cute! One dog at the Lounge wears pink with ruffles, to match his mom’s color scheme. Adorable.

But do I have a coat? Ha.

During my first winter with Cathy, we had some really cold days. Brr! So my mom called the vet.

“Does Gracie really need a coat?”

“Is she shivering? Does she seem comfortable? Then it’s optional.”

“Good,” my mom said. “I can’t imagine stuffing her into a sweater every time we go out.”

So I’m the only naked dog you’ll see on the bus.

It’s hard to argue. Cathy is not exactly into fashion herself. Her idea of dressing up is wearing her best pair of shorts (in summer) or her favorite sweats (winter). And on really special occasions, she’ll break out a new pair of running shoes.

The good news is: We live near a wonderful clothing store, Peridot. The young women who work there are dog-friendly. I always say hello to the resident dog, Scout. And they save Cathy’s butt when she has to look presentable. Last week she had to give a presentation and they sold her a coat dress (do I have to say it was on sale?) and told her how to accessorize it. Here she is, looking about as presentable as she gets. Cathy Goodwin Speaking on Copywriting and Networking

Celebrities in trouble

Arf! Gracie here.

I was having a pleasant nap when my mom woke me up, exclaiming, “This is nonsense.” When I looked up inquiringly, she explained she was reading about some celebrity’s latest escapade with a car and a DUI.

“If I were a celebrity, going to a party,” my mom told me, “I would have a chauffeured limo standing by to take me home. That way I could drink as much as I wanted.”

I cocked an ear.

“OK, Gracie,” my mom admitted. “I hate parties. Everybody teases me about how little I drink. And when I go out, it’s close enough to take a cab home. Or even the bus.”

Bus? My ears perked up. Now we’re talking. I love riding buses. I get to sit in my mom’s lap and everybody tells me I’m such a beautiful dog.

“She’s a mutt,” my mom Cathy tells the other passengers. “But she thinks she’s a princess. It’s like living with Paris Hilton.”

Me? What’s this mutt stuff? I am a princess. And I don’t demand more than any other rescue dog.

Good thing I’m going to the dog lounge today. They recognize my royal blood and treat me accordingly. They set me up on the couch and feed me treats all day long. They let me play in the back with the Big Dogs. When I scratch on the door to the front, they say, “Oh it’s Gracie. Come on in, sweetheart. You can help us run the reception desk.”

That’s the way a rescue dog should be treated.

Arf! Mom is off to her gym and then it’s my turn.