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Do Your Job #PottyMouth

Monday, June 27, 2016
My people are obsessed with my potty habits. They are constantly saying, "Amelia, do you need to do your job?" Which is the polite way of saying go to the bathroom. 

When they are being patient, they take me out and say, "Okay, do your job." And when they are being impatient, they say, "Come on, take a pee," or, "I know you need to poop." As if they didn't understand that these things take time and that it is important to find exactly the right the spot.

In the morning, they take turns taking care of me, and then they leave each other coded notes like the one above, which means:

Amelia peed (#1) and pooped (#2), which equals 3, and she ate (8) her breakfast.
Taco ate (8).

They don't ever tell Taco to do her job because Taco does her job whenever she wants in a box in the powder room. I envy Taco's freedom. It must be nice to be above all bossing around. That said, I know that going to the potty outside is way better than using a box inside. Sure on cold, rainy days, it'd be nice to stay in the warm, dry house, but Taco never gets to feel the breeze on her bum. Poor sister-cat.

Anyway, as I said, they're obsessed with making sure they know if I did my job. Sometimes, when we're away from home, it's hard for me to find the right spot and feel comfortable, and this stresses my people out a lot. The first time they ever took me on vacation, I refused to pee for over 24 hours, and on the ride home, they literally stopped at every single exit off the highway from Freeport, Maine, to Lowell, Massachusetts, trying to get me to pee. I never did. I preferred to wait until we got home.

I've gotten better since then--that was five years ago after all!--and I think our trip will be fine in this regard. For me, anyway, because as we've previously established, I go outside. 

What Diane's worried about now is her own potty issues. You see, the Big Rolling Crate (BRC) isn't like an RV. There's no plumbing. 

The other day Diane and Todd came home with the emergency toilet solution: A toilet seat that snaps onto a 5-gallon bucket. The people are going to have very cat-like toilet habits, it seems, on this grand adventure. 

From the look on Diane's face when Todd snapped the seat onto a bucket, you'd think she'd just stepped in poo, and not that Todd was proposing a place to go #2. She studied the bucket-toilet and said, "I think I'll just maybe be dehydrated a lot and not eat much."

Todd assured her it's only for emergency because most of the time there'll be Walmarts and truck stops and fast food restaurants and camp grounds and, of course, the woods. Personally, I think the woods are the best toilet, so I'm not sure why Diane makes that face every time Todd mentions it. 


Thursday, June 23, 2016

I guess it's common knowledge that I am afraid of a lot of things. When I first found my forever family, I was so anxious and afraid all the time that I chewed holes in just about everything, such as my old pink blanket. In my defense, I'm a lot less afraid now than I was five years ago when I first came to live with Todd and Diane and I haven't chewed a hole in any blankets, sheets, towels, or clothing in years, but still, I have some fears. To be honest, I'm a little embarrassed that I get scared so easily; after all, how can I fulfill my sworn duty to protect Todd from all dangers real and imaginary when there are so many potential dangers?

Todd things that this summer's Todyssey will help me overcome my fears, and Diane thinks that's a lot of nonsense. I can't say for certain which way it will go. All I can say is I will fulfill my duty to Todd to the best of my ability, as always.

Anyway, Diane says blog readers like lists, and since our last list was of favorites, we decided to make a list of fears, just to get everything out there in the open before our big, fear-facing adventure.

1. Dogs.

Yes, I know I am a dog, and no, I am not afraid of myself, but other dogs are frankly rather scary. They bark loud, they run fast, sometimes they growl, they have sharp teeth, and they always seem very interested in me. I am less afraid of dogs now than I used to be, thanks to my best friend Bobby and our occasional visits to the truly terrifying dog park, but dogs other than Bobby still make me want to run home as fast as I can.

2. People other than Diane and Todd, especially small people.

I have trust issues. It's just that simple. I'm not going to just lick the hand of any old person who sticks a hand in my face. Roll over and let a stranger rub my belly? Not a chance. If I don't know you, I can't be sure I want to know you. The people I like best (other than Diane and Todd) are the ones who either totally ignore or who give me a lot of yummy table scraps. The people I like the least are the ones who baby-talk to me and want to pet me.

3. Cardboard boxes.

I don't know why everyone thinks this is so weird. Yes, I am afraid of cardboard boxes. It doesn't matter how big or small the box is, either. If a cardboard box appears on the front porch, I have no choice but to take cover under an armchair or in my crate. What I don't get it why no one else is afraid! You don't know who put that box there! You don't know what's going to be in the box! What if it's a small person or a dog? It could be. You can't know until you open it. A lot of boxes have shown up at our house lately full of supplies for the Todyssey, and let me tell you, constant exposure to boxes has done nothing to diminish my fear. For good reason, I might add.

4. New toys.

I'm sorry but there is nothing that isn't terrifying about a pink polyester pig that squeaks when you squeeze it and that shoots across the room when you pull its tail. Why would anyone think I would want such a thing? That's what I want to know.

5. Anything that makes a popping sound vaguely resembling the sound of a gun being fired.

And you aren't afraid of the sound of a gun being fired, I have to ask, what's the matter with you?

6. Having my claws trimmed.

I'm not the sort of gal who goes for pedicures. I do not like having other people touch my feet for any reason, but when I see them coming at me with those clippers--I shudder to think of it. I'd rather get my shots than have my claws trimmed.

As I look back over my fears, I have to say, I feel reassured. I don't have to worry at all about #3 and #4 on our trip--Amazon can't possibly deliver to the Big Rolling Crate as we drive across the country, and Diane and Todd keep saying that we can't buy things on our trip because there will be no where to put them in the Big Rolling Crate anyway. I also don't have to worry about #6, because that only happens when we got the vet, but we're going to be far, far away from the vet on our adventure.

So it really just boils down to dogs and people. Who knows? Maybe Todd's right, maybe this trip will help me overcome those fears. Only time will tell...

Our departure is in one week! One week before the Big Rolling Crate sets sails on a Todyssey across the sea of highways leading West into the vast interior of the country. Stay tuned...

The Big Rolling Crate

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

There's a lot of excitement at my house right now while my people try to get everything ready for our big adventure. My boy-person, Todd, whom it is my duty to protect from all dangers real and imagined for as long as I shall live, spends a lot of time preparing the Big Rolling Crate, and my lady-person, Diane, fusses around the house, doing all the stuff she didn't have time to do during the school year. Diane is a teacher, and during the school year, she's always going on and on about not having time.

My people call the Big Rolling Crate "The Bus," or sometimes "The Ambulance," but I call it the  the Big Rolling Crate. We have a lot of rolling crates right now and I like them all.

Diane's rolling crate is small and I like it because it is always clean and it has a sunroof, but it doesn't have a center console, so it's hard for me to see where we're going because I can't stand and look forward very easily.

Todd's rolling crate is bigger and I LOVE the big center console. I can balance my front feet on it and my back feet on the back seat and it's like I'm actually driving the car (except I'm not, of course, because paws aren't good for driving cars). Todd's care is always dirty, though, and I usually have to share the back seat with lots of tools and stuff.

Then there's the big, loud rolling crate, which Todd calls "the Ford" and Diane calls "the pickup." It's very noisy in the big, loud rolling crate, which sometimes frightens me, but I do love the bench seat. I get to sit right between Diane and Todd in the very front, and they get made at me sometimes because I want to lick Todd's face while he's driving (Diane never drives the big, loud rolling crate), but I don't care, because I like to lick Todd's face.

The rolling crates are much more fun than my regular crate, because my regular crate just sits in the sunroom and there's no room in it for anyone but me. The rolling crates can fit a whole bunch of people. Usually it's just me, Todd, and Diane, but sometimes other people come with us, like friend Caitie or friend Zeb or Mammam Dot, and even though I'm a little afraid of other people, I'm not as afraid of them when we're all in the rolling crate going somewhere, because I know we're going somewhere fun.

You see, crates are my safe places. Whether I'm in the regular crate at my house or one of the rolling crates far from home, I know I'm safe in there, and I like that, because, to be honest, I get scared a lot.

Diane is afraid that my scaredy-cat nature is going to cause problems on our big adventure, but I know that as long as we have the Big Rolling Crate, everything will be okay.

Right now, Todd's fitting out the back for a big bed and hooking up solar panels so we can electricity. I don't need electricity, because I'm a dog, but my people seem to think this is important. I guess if Diane's going to update my blog from the road, we'll need electricity, so now that I think about it, for the first time in my doggy life, electricity might be useful to me. See that--I'm getting more and more like my people every day.

My Favorite Things

When I told Diane I wanted to make a blog about our adventure, she said to me, "Amelia, that sounds like a lot of work. You don't even like people! Why would you want to do that?"

And I looked at her and I said, "I do too like people, I just sometimes forget that I don't have to be afraid of them. Anyway, the internet is a great place for agoraphobic, anthropophobic like me to make connections."

She couldn't argue with that.

Since we haven't left for our adventure yet, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about me and my family so that once we start our journey, we've already gotten all the exposition out of the way. Exposition is a word Diane taught me. She's an English teacher.

Anyway, Diane suggested that I make a top ten list of my favorite things to do to help you get acquainted with me, so here we go:

My Favorite Things

1. Todd.

I love Todd. In fact, I adore him. To me, Todd is like a God. See how Todd and God rhyme. Music to my big ears. From the moment I met Todd, I knew that for the rest of my life, it would be my sworn duty to protect him from all dangers real and imaginary for as long as I shall live.

2. Treats.

Before Todd found me at the Worcester Animal Rescue League, I had never had treats, but now I get treats all the time, and I have found that if I want a treat, all I have to do is be bad. I do something bad, and to get me to stop, my people give me treats. It's brilliant.

3. Diane.

I feel a little bad putting Diane after treats in my life, especially since she's being so kind and transcribing all of this, but honesty is an important quality in a dog. I do love Diane a lot because Diane takes care of me and makes sure I get two delicious meals a day, and she gives me my medicine when I'm sick, and takes me for walks, but let's face it: Diane isn't Todd. Early on my life with my forever family, I learned Diane will always protect me from all dangers real and imaginary, and in that way she enables me to protect Todd, and for that reason, I put her third on my list.

4. Sleeping.

Ah the simple comforts of a California-king-sized bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and a fluffy down comforter.

5. Chasing cats.

Don't worry. I never catch them, and even if I did, I would never hurt them, but it is a good deal of fun to see the fear in their eyes when they see me coming across the yard.

6. Chasing Bobby.

Bobby is my best (and only) dog-friend. He's a standard poodle who is three or fours younger than me but a lot bigger. Even though he's much taller than me, I can keep up with him. We go on walks together and then Todd lets us off the leash and we play "Thunderdome," which is a very fun game where I chase Bobby until we're both exhausted.

7. Swimming.

For me, swim season starts as soon as the ice melts and lasts until the pond freezes. I love swimming. Todd taught me how. I used to get so scared when he would swim far away from shore because how could I protect him when he was all the way out there. So I did the only thing I could. I became an excellent swimmer. That's what Diane and Todd always say. "Amelia is an excellent swimmer."

8. Playing in the snow.

I came from the South so in my early years I didn't get to play in the snow, but in Worcester it snows a lot (well, not this past winter, but usually). I love to pounce in the deep snow and roll on the hard crusty old snow and follow along in Todd and Diane's snowshoe tracks. The cold doesn't bother me. After all, I am wearing a fur coat.

9. Riding the Rolling Crate.

Going places is so much fun. Just me, my people, and the open road.

10. Coming Home.

Going places is fun, but I'm always the happiest member of the family when we come back to our house at the end of the adventure. I like having a house. When Todd first brought me home, I was scared to come inside, but now I'm always the first one through the door.


I guess before we get all involved in our epic road trip, I should tell you a little bit about how I found my forever family.

I came to live with Diane and Todd in early January, 2011. It happened like this: One cold day, this nice lady came to the animal shelter and she thought I looked very smart. She thought I might be the perfect dog to rescue her, but she had heard that a lot of shelter dogs have social and behavioral problems, so she decided to introduce me to her son to see how I did with men, since I seemed to be okay with women.

The thing is, during my time at the shelter, I really wasn't myself at all. I had been removed from my first home--if you can even call it that, as I was generally left outside and neglected all the time--and brought from Tennessee to Massachusetts. I had just had a litter of puppies, who had all been taken away from me, and then I had surgery to make sure I never had any more puppies. When the nice lady saw me, I just recovering from that surgery and I was in a lot of pain because the shelter can't afford to give all the dogs pain medication, so I guess you could say, I was kind of out of it.

I also didn't like the shelter one bit. There were so many dogs barking day and night, and I could smell them all, but I couldn't see them because we were in separate kennels. We had to pee inside, which is demeaning, but unless someone like the nice lady came to see about adopting us, we didn't really get to go outside. I was so happy when the nice lady took me into the yard next to shelter. It was like taking a little vacation to heaven.

So anyway, the nice lady came back a second time, and she brought her son with her. Her son was Todd, my one true love, the person whom I sworn to protect from all dangers, real and imaginary, as long as I shall live. As soon as I saw him, I knew he was The One. I tried very hard to communicate this telepathically to him, since I hadn't learned any other ways to communicate with him yet at that time, and I thought it worked, but after a nice visit, he left with the nice lady. I was so depressed all I could do was lay in my kennel with my head on my paws. I didn't even try to look cute for any other people who came in that day.

That afternoon, though, Todd came back, and he brought another nice lady with him. That was Diane. Todd and his mother had decided that I would probably be too much for her to handle. She needed a different sort of rescuing. Instead, they decided that it would be better if I rescued Diane and Todd instead. Diane, however, was not so sure. As soon as she came near, I could tell that she was afraid of me. She was more afraid of me than I was of her, and that's saying something, because I have a hard time trusting people and tend to find them quite scary if I haven't had a chance to get to know them.

Diane saw how happy Todd was to play with me, though, and then, when they took me outside and she saw doing my favorite winter activity--rolling on a patch of ice--she thought I was too cute and funny to be left in a shelter. So they adopted me and brought me home!

I was so relieved to get out of the smelly shelter, but I had never lived in a nice house before, so I was scared too. Todd had to carry me into the house, when we got inside, I ran straight to the corner and curled up where I thought I would be safe.

Looking back now, it's amazing how little I knew back then. I was two years old, but I didn't know what treats were, I didn't know how to play with balls or bones, I hardly knew any words except, "No!" and "Bad Dog!" because those were the only things my former people ever said. Much to Diane and Todd's relief, I was house-trained, but that was just about the only training I had.

At first, I was "Todd's dog," and he was the only who fed me and took me out. That was Diane's condition. She let me rescue them, but on the condition that I was "Todd's dog." This was mostly because Diane was still afraid of me.

Now, though, Diane feeds me and takes me out and cuddles me and says I'm her dog, and I am, too. Although it is Todd whom I must protect, I have enough love for two people, and I would protect Diane too if she ever needed protecting (but she doesn't usually need protecting, because girls are a lot tougher than boys).

How Diane got over her fear of me is a pretty great story but also a long one, and Diane says we have to say that for another blog post because this one had gone on quite long enough already.

Here's a little video of me rolling on the crusty snow, which as I said is one of the things that made Diane and Todd fall in love with me!

Sister Cat

When Diane and Todd brought me home, I was surprised to learn they already had a rescuer: a cat named Taco.

Taco is "O Cat" spelled backwards. Also, Taco's full name is Tacocat, which is a palindrome. Actually, Diane and Todd didn't name her Taco for either of those reasons. They just thought it was a cute name for a feisty cat. They only realized the poetic potential of her name later.

Anyway, after I rescued Diane and Todd, Taco and I became sisters. Or at least that's what Diane says. She's always saying, "Amelia, don't antagonize your sister," or "Taco, leave your sister alone." We aren't real sisters, obviously, but we're more like step sisters.

I like Taco a lot, especially when I get to chase her through the living room. I just want to play, and I think Taco would be an ideal playmate--she's very fast and very smart--but Taco never wants to play with me. She just gets mad and hisses and swipes at me with her many-toed paws. Taco is a polydactyl cat.

Taco is pretty old, like maybe 12 or 13--Diane and Todd aren't sure since Taco was a stray cat before she rescued them, so that's probably why she doesn't want to play. Taco also does not enjoy the rolling crates. Whenever she goes in the rolling crates with us, she makes a lot of hysterical noise and bangs her head on the small crate Todd and Diane put her in for trips outside the house.

Taco can't go on our epic road trip with us, but Diane and Todd found someone to come take care of her and stay here at our house with her until we get back. We'll miss her, but it's not her kind of adventure, anyway. We'll send her postcards. She likes to sit on the piles of mail on the dining room table, so I think she'll like that.


Whether or not we need a canoe for this summer's adventure has been quite a big topic of conversation between Todd and Diane for the past few days. Todd thinks a canoe is the perfect accompaniment to the big rolling crate, and Diane thinks it would be somewhat insane to tie a 16-foot canoe to the top of the bus and drive a few thousand miles like that.

Usually I side with Todd in all things pertaining to adventure, but in this regard, I must side with Diane. I have only been in a canoe a few times, and frankly I haven't been very impressed.

Personally, when I'm at a lovely pond or lake, I'd like to take a nice swim, roll around in the sand, roll around in some smelly dead stuff along the shore, and then hunt around picnic areas for leftovers.

Unfortunately, we arrive at a lovely pond or lake with the canoe, I have to jump in and just sit there. Diane sits in front of me. Todd sits behind me. They paddle and Todd corrects Diane's form and Diane makes snippy comebacks, and all I get to do is sit there. What's the fun in that?

Last week we got a new-to-us canoe, and I will admit it's an improvement over the old one. The old one was handmade by Todd and his dad, and it is very pretty to look at but very wobbly to ride in. The new one is sturdy and wide and rides low enough to the water that I can stick my tongue out for a drink any time I like, which is nice, but in the end, a canoe is a canoe.

One fun trick I've learned: When it's time to get in the canoe, I can jump in from one side and then jump right back out the other side. It's great fun and I can do it over and over until Todd gets mad and picks me up and puts me in the canoe and holds me there so they can shove off.

I think I could probably jump out of the canoe at any time while Diane and Todd are paddling and then I could just swim to shore, but I haven't tried it yet, and I think if I did the people would be very unhappy.

So far, I think Diane is winning to "Should we take a canoe on the Todyssey*" debate, and I'm glad.  I'd much rather swim and hike and save the canoeing for another adventure.

*Todyssey is now the official name of our adventure, and it will be referred to as such henceforth. Todd's dad came up with it and when Diane heard it she laughed her head off, although I'm not sure why. She told me it's English teacher humor. Personally, I don't read a lot of books, although I do enjoy eating the newspaper and the occasional magazine.

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