Shelley Widhalm

Archive for the ‘Best Friends’ Category

Girl without Dog

In Best Friends, Dad's house, Hard goodbyes, Novel editing on March 13, 2011 at 5:23 am

Yep, I’ve been girl without dog for six days. My dad, who visited me and my brother last weekend, is taking care of her until next Saturday. I “loaned” her out for two weeks for two reasons.

First, my dad had grown attached to her after being her caretaker for a few months while I was living with my mother (see previous blogs). He hinted a few times that he would gladly take her while I was working on my novel, which I finished last month.

Second, I wanted some concentrated time to work on editing my novel. With Zoey, my miniature dachshund, I have to provide her with love and attention, including playtime and walks, every day after work. I knew I couldn’t meet my self-imposed deadline to meet with an agent at a conference this month to present my book. But I decided to postpone the conference scene until my book is tight as a Ziploc bag. I still kept the deadline, but it’s extended to the end of the month.

My dad, who lives in eastern Colorado, took Zoey with him on Monday, and I worked on my novel that afternoon (I have Mondays off in exchange for Saturdays). I thought, “I’m dealing,” until I got home from the coffee shop and faced my empty apartment. I cried and the next night, too, thinking that I should just get on with my work But I hadn’t realized until Zoey was gone how attached I’ve become to my canine best friend.

I guess I’m a sucker for her doggie kisses, her wiggly-butt greetings and her rough-housing play as I try to make my bed in the mornings.

Okay, only six more days …

Girl with Dog

In Best Friends, Coffee shops, Going on walks, Going out, Shyness on March 6, 2011 at 8:55 am

I have become known as the girl with dog, at least in the small city where I live. I have a few acquaintances, some from my job as a journalist, and run into them at coffee shops, restaurants and downtown. If I’m dressed casual after normal work hours and don’t have my miniature dachshund, Zoey, with me, they ask, “Where’s your dog?” It’s like we’re a unit, my 9-pound best friend and I.

Our hanging out together during after-work hours started with a conflict of interest. Being a single girl for a couple of decades (with boyfriends thrown in here and there), I got used to doing what I want in my free time. And then I adopted a dog with needs, particularly for going on walks, getting pets and being social.

As a coffee shop lover, I started taking my squirmy dog with me to a downtown coffee shop, so that I could read and satisfy her needs for getting attention. At first, she didn’t want to be a lapdog, but after a few weeks, she learned that it was a compromise – she sits on my lap and people come up to us and want to pet her.

I take her to open houses and events that allow dogs and into shops that do the same. The result – when I am sans dog, it’s like I’m missing my purse. I run into people who ask that question, where is she?

Zoey, too, loves our regular coffee shop. When we’re actually trying to take a walk and pass the shop, she pulls me to the door and scratches on the glass, as if saying, “Let me in!” “The shop is closed,” I tell her. “We can come back tomorrow.” Scratch. Scratch.

I feel bad for her, my friendly girl who wants to go inside for attention, a free bone and some love.

My challenge next week is to ask someone out for coffee who I normally would not, because I would tell myself, I’m too shy. I just might bring my dog, too.

The Dog Commitment

In Best Friends, Lonely Girl, Responsibility, Separation Anxiety, What's important on February 6, 2011 at 10:38 am

I didn’t do a challenge this week. Of course I have an excuse. My dad arrived Friday night for a weekend visit, so I can’t just leave him to go to a nightclub. That wouldn’t be very nice to do to company.

My dad had originally planned to come to pick up my dog and keep her for two weeks, so I could work every night on my novel, but our schedules won’t allow it to happen. I’m near the finish line with my rough draft and want to dedicate a block of time to it. I can’t just ignore my dog and, for that reason, have to juggle her with work, writing, errands and anything else I do.

After talking with my brother, my dad decided to still come, because they have a couple of fix-up projects they need to do.

What I’m not telling my dad is that I’m glad Zoey is staying after my bout of separation anxiety. I love waking up in the morning to her doggie kisses and the furious wags of her tail when I come home from work. I’d miss our walks, her following me around the house and the way she cuddles smack against we when I read or we sleep.

I know, I know. I’m lonely girl with dog, who, without my planning, has become my best friend. I never believed that cliché until I saw the communication that starts between you and your dog. The looks she gives you, mostly a matter of a slight movement of her eyes, and her body language, the various barks and the way she wiggles, rolls and runs, all of it letting me know what she wants or believes I should understand about her.

I can’t look in her eyes without realizing that I am responsible for this creature and that I need to be there for her. I bought her in a pet store, but what I took home was an eager ever-ready bundle of love that needs my time, attention, dedication, love and encouragement. Otherwise, I’d be better off with a pet rock.

Dog Talk

In Alone, Best Friends, Talking on December 5, 2010 at 8:30 am

I’ve become the girl who talks to her dog. I no longer live with the family, so I don’t have the constant conversations going on around me. In other words, I don’t always have someone to talk to if I don’t schedule a coffee date or a lunch or dinner out.

I’ve somehow started talking to my dog. It’s not a “How’s my, girl?” and “Aren’t you a cutie?” It’s more like, “How was your day? What did you do? Were you a good girl? Oh good, you didn’t potty on the floor. What a good girl. … Be quiet, silly girl. It’s just noise. Stop barking. STOP. It’s all right, I love you. …”

I tell my dog what I’m doing, so she won’t wonder where I’m going. “I’m going to take a shower. I’m going to brush my teeth. I’m getting the mail.” The only thing I don’t tell her is that I’m going to the fridge. She knows the second my foot touches the wood floor in front of it. It must make a special sound or something.

This might be all right, but I caught myself holding a conversation with my dog when we were outside on a walk. I figured it’s time for me to start calling all of my girlfriends. Okay, okay, I’m not crazy. I just like to talk.

And so does Zoey. She has a language hidden underneath all of her barks, her whining and what I call her happy sound, the sound she makes when she is in the ecstasy of play. I’m jealous, too, of the dog that is the receiving end of all of my talk. All she has to do is listen and play and just be. My best friend seems to know what I’m saying, or at least I imagine it to be that way.

Missing Zoey

In Best Friends, Missing each other, Separations, Sleeping companions, What's important, Wrapped around Zoey's paw on September 26, 2010 at 4:51 pm

I don’t like that I have to leave my dog Zoey at my dad’s house, but after the fight with my mom, who I’m living with for the time being, I will have to do so (at least from Oct. 16, 2009 to October of this year, when I will be moving into my own apartment).

Zoey has been staying with me one out of every six weeks when my dad travels to Nebraska for treatment for his macular degeneration, as I’ve mentioned before. I visit my dad during one of the weekends in the interim if I can fit it with working every fifth weekend and whatever else comes up.

A few days before I pick her up, I talk about her more and get excited about spending time with my favorite girl. I love sleeping with her tight against my side and getting doggie kisses in the morning. We play after I get home from work and every once in awhile, she’ll accept being a lap dog for about five minutes while I read. But mostly, I sit on the floor to do bills or type on my laptop because she wants me at her level.

I’ll admit I’m a bit of a pushover, but at the same time, I’ve come to see Zoey as my best friend. I never feel lonely when I’m with her, but I will on occasion when she’s gone. Sure, I have friends, but they don’t want to play every day after work, now that we’re in our thirties. I miss how in elementary school, I could walk down the street, knock on my best friend’s door and ask, “Can you play?” Now, I have to call or Facebook, plus go through all these antics, just to plan a coffee outing. Life is so complicated being an adult. I miss the simplicity of childhood, and I love the straightforward relationship I have with my dog.