One day last winter, when Blue was still a newbie and skinny as a rail, the boy and I took Casey and Blue out to the tennis courts at the apartment complex and let them frolic in the fenced in area....in the snow. The sheer joy the showed while they pranced around, threw the snow in the air with their noses, and wrestled around on the ground until all you saw was a blur of blue and brown made me say, "This. This is why I have dogs."
I've been low on the willpower lately. I don't know if it's because all of my energy is focused on worrying about school, because it's getting cooler and my body is trying to enter hibernation mode (read: eat Qdoba 24/7), because tuition payments are sucking out my soul, or because I'm just worrying about school a lot (I'm sorry, did I list that twice? Hmmm.) but lately, if I want to watch football, I watch football. If I want to wear a sweatshirt to work, I wear a sweatshirt to work. (I think my boss is afraid to mention the sweatshirts.) Diet Coke? Psshhh. There is no "diet" in "stressed." If I want to have warm bodies to snuggle with in bed, I let the dogs sleep up with me. If I see juicy tasty dog treats that cost more than the food I'm buying myself, I buy them for the dogs. Apparently, if I am going to be stressed, I am going to use my dogs to bring me joy.
The dogs? They are getting spoiled. I don't think they mind being used.
There's a huge fenced in field near my house. "Fenced in" being the operative words there. It's part of Crown Hill Cemetery, and it contains tall grass, some dense woods, a huge wide open field, and (most importantly) an overabundance of deer. Now, pit bulls aren't like, say, beagles, or huskies. Pit bulls are pretty emotionally attached to their humans... So after a lecture about how I should trust my dogs more, I let them both off their leash and let them roam around the field. They didn't go far... until Blue spotted the deer. Immediately both dogs took off after the bouncing white tails. I would have been more frightened of losing my dogs if the scene hadn't been so hilarious. Neither Blue nor Casey is taller than maybe two feet from the ground, but while Casey is all legs, Blue is mostly muscle. The deer seemed to be as tall, if not taller, than I was...their backs, I mean. Their heads seemed like they would tower over me. Not to mention the antlers on some of them. Sheesh. There is no hunting in the cemetery, so these deer are BIG.
While Blue is moving his little legs as fast as he possibly can, the deer are getting further and further away from him. Still, he's running with a huge grin on his face and his tongue flapping in the wind. The deer disappeared into the woods, and without hesitation, Blue crashed in after them. At this point, even though I had lost sight of my dog, I could hear him crashing through sticks and leaves and in general being about the worst tracker he could be. He's not a graceful dog to begin with, so I could tell he was using the "run through obstacles" option instead of the "avoid obstacles" option.
Meanwhile, one deer had peeled itself from the group and veered away from the woods and back into the meadow. This is the one that Casey decided to pursue. Her legs are longer, and she's pretty agile, so it was awesome to watch her keep up with the deer as it zigged and zagged across the field. She never gained any ground, but she was definitely hanging in there. Eventually her deer went into the woods also, and she followed.
For a while, everything was quiet while I waited. I counted the seconds in my head to keep myself from freaking out. "...fifty-nine....sixty. It's only been a minute. Everything is fine. Sixty-one...sixty-two..."
Off in the distance, so small that they appeared to be no more than an inch tall, a deer appeared followed by a brown and white blur, then disappeared back into the woods. I paced and waited. After learning my lesson previously, I remained in the last place the dogs had seen me and waited for them to return.
Almost exactly five minutes after they had run off, both dogs appeared heading towards me from opposite directions. Casey was panting and bounding towards me. She almost barreled into me, but dodged at the last minute. On her return trip to me, she jumped up in the air to show me how much fun she had just had. She was almost saying, "Do it again mom! Bring the deer back again!!!" Blue, on the other hand, slowly walked towards me and fell over on his side as soon as he reached me. All I heard from him were snorting gasps while he attempted to catch his breath through the huge grin on his face. I could not stop laughing. For the rest of the walk, no leashes were needed since the dogs remained within twenty feet at all times.
Ever since that day, we've gone back to the field several times, and each time the routine is the same. Dogs see deer. Dogs chase deer. Dogs return exhilarated and exhausted. Emily is thrilled. (Though she's always careful NOT to let the dogs go if she sees fawns...) I've been trying to take pictures, but my camera is too slow....all you see are blurs :-) Lately, I think the deer are no longer frightened of Blue (who will never catch them, but NEVER fails to chase them if given the chance.) They will see him coming, wait until I'm sure they can see the whites of his eyes, and then run away. Poor Blue either doesn't understand that he has no chance, or simply doesn't care. I think it's the latter. To him, the running is worth it. Casey doesn't seem to be as driven. Sometimes she'll chase the deer. Other times she'll see them and it's almost like she thinks, "Meh. Not worth it."
I realize that it's an odd way to relieve stress, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The fact that I'm outside in the beautiful fall weather, coupled by the fact that this is cheap entertainment, coupled with the fact that I'm certain the dogs will never catch a deer...well, it's more fun than memorizing all the bones in the human body....
So what do you do to relieve stress? Any other cheap easy suggestions that may or may not involve dogs?
(Oh yes, and thanks for all of the suggestions for studying... I've made flash cards in the past with mixed results, so I'm trying them again. And I searched for online quizzes, but mostly found multiple choice options. What I need are "fill in the blank." Any other ideas to help memorization are greatly appreciated. As of now, I carry my flash cards everywhere. Yep. I'm pretty cool...)