My shadow has four paws

Jazz in my shadow by JulieAnn Corbin

Even on days when the sun hides behind the clouds, I have a shadow and she has four paws. My shadow is my pup Jazzmin and as I’ve said many times, I can’t imagine my life without her. Inside my house, she’s always nearby. Usually when I get up from my desk, she gets up too and follows me or is the speedbump behind my chair that I almost trip over. Unless she’s snoring happily away in her crate (which she is right now) she keeps her eye on me and is always ready to play and of course, walk.

Along with Jazzmin, I have three cats and while they love me unconditionally just like Jazz, they show it differently. Jazzmin always comes when called while the cats come most of the time unless they’re sleeping or just plain ignoring me. Jazz is always eager to please and expresses happiness when she sees me and her unique doggy “smile” always brightens my day.

As any dog owner knows, having a constant companion that never judges you is a wonderful thing! I can ramble to Jazz about anything and she doesn’t think I’m crazy, odd or weird. Well, she might, but she doesn’t speak human so I don’t really know. I think mostly she’s just happy I’m talking to her and that’s not something that can be said of all the humans I’ve encountered.

Jazzmin doesn’t care that I don’t quite “fit in” with other humans or that my personality doesn’t always sit well with people, all she cares is that her mama loves her, feeds her, plays with her and takes her for walks every day. I can be 100% myself with Jazzmin and my other pets and they still love me. There’s truly something to be said for the unconditional love of animals.

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The clarity of low visibility

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Low visibility looking down the big hill

The very wintry weather lately has made it difficult to walk Jazzmin but with all the roads plowed today, I decided it was time to set boots and booties to snowy road and take a walk. Once my girls had been picked up, I changed into my walking clothes, got Jazz sweatered, backpacked and bootied up and headed out.

It was lightly snowing as we walked carefully down the driveway to avoid slipping on the ice below the most recent dusting of snow. Once safely on the salted and slightly snowy road, we easily found our pace and the fresh, chilly winter air felt wonderful to breathe in. By the time we reached the end of my road, the light snow had turned into big, heavy flakes and shortly after turning left onto the next road, the snow changed again to a mix of fluffy flakes and tiny snowballs.

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Light snow shortly after we turned onto the second road

I wasn’t sure how long of a walk we were going to take, but I enjoyed the tranquility of the snow and crispness of the air so much, we kept going right up the big hill. The snow got progressively heavier as we walked and the visibility became quite low, but as I was walking, I didn’t mind at all. It would’ve been a different story if I was driving, but when I’m walking I can see exactly where I’m going and don’t have to worry about my car tires slipping or sliding. My boots and Jazz’s booties had no problem keeping traction as the road and our bodies became coated with snow.

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A very snowy Jazzmin

When there weren’t any cars driving by, it was very calming listening to the falling snow. The air was still and the limited visibility from the heavy snowfall helped bring clarity to my mind, heart and spirit. Walking always helps recharge me and quiet my hectic mind as the fresh air fills my lungs and the exercise works my muscles. By the time we reached the top of the big hill my thighs were mostly frozen, my hair was coated with snow, my glasses were wet and foggy and Jazz wasn’t exactly thrilled to be covered in snow, but I was still smiling and she was still trotting along.

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Jazz trotting along

I’ve said this before but it still holds true, taking a walk when you’re down, confused, anxious or worried can do amazing things! It does amazing things when you’re feeling up too, but when your mood really needs a boost, get off your butt and walk! I know I’m glad I did and it helped remind me how resilient, strong, determined and amazing I am. With my pup beside me and a path before me, there’s nothing I can’t handle!

Have pup, must walk!

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When I first adopted Jazzmin four years ago, all I knew was that I wanted a dog. I figured a dog would be good company when I didn’t have my daughters and a dog would motivate me to walk more regularly. I had been walking almost every day that first year in my house until winter set in and I then lost all desire to venture out in the cold. But when I adopted Jazz, I didn’t rescue a dog, I rescued a pup.

I call her a pup because I think it’s as adorable as she is and because she has the seemingly limitless energy of a puppy. She was two (best guess by the shelter) and already well trained when I adopted her and knew sit, stay and shake. She was also crate trained which was perfect because at the time I worked away from home and had to leave for several hours a day.

The first night I had her home it was just me, her and the two cats I had at the time. Not knowing how good she was about letting me know when she needed to go out, I took her out a few times during the night despite the snow and cold of January. I quickly learned that she’s very good about telling me when she needs to answer nature and that she can make it all night without a problem.

It took me a while to figure out the right way to walk Jazzmin, but even as we were figuring that out, I walked her almost every day. It was obvious how much she loved walking and I didn’t want to deny her that pleasure, even in the cold. I bought her a fleece jacket and booties to help keep her warm and dry and we walked the roads around my house quite regularly.

I’ve kept up the regular walking of my pup Jazz for four years now and I don’t intend to stop. I have watched the Dog Whisperer and know that he suggests walking a dog daily to get their energy out. I don’t actually think it’s possible to get all of Jazz’s energy out, but I do at least try.

I think I owe it to Jazzmin and myself to walk as often as we can. It’s good for both of us as it’s great exercise and gets us out in the fresh air, even when that air has a wind chill in the single digits like it did today. There are some days we don’t walk because it’s too cold or too hot or I’m sick but otherwise, if I’ve got at least 15 minutes, I walk my pup. She doesn’t have the best concept of time so she forgets I’ve walked her shortly after we get home, but I know I’ve walked her and that makes me feel like a good pup Mama.

Although I’m not perfect and I don’t always walk Jazz for as long as experts recommend, I know she’s far better off than most of the dogs in my neighborhood. We rarely see other people walking their dogs, but we do hear the dogs barking at us from inside the confines of their home. Having a nice, safe, warm home is a wonderful thing for any dog and I’ve provided that for Jazzmin, but that’s not enough for me or her. When I rescued her, I committed to giving her a full, happy life and the best way to do that is to put paws to pavement and wiggle on down the road!

Black labs and bass guitars

Such a sweet black lab!

Such a sweet black lab!

I had a plan for today…and I should know by now that making a plan is unwise because the universe always finds a way to disrupt my plans. I intended to work all day on my freelance jobs and I started strong doing a heavily researched piece for a new client. I had just started my second writing job when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I focused my attention to the world outside my living room window and realized there was a black dog running along the shoulder of the road by my front pine trees.

A few moments later, a car came up the road and thankfully slowed down to avoid hitting the pup, but I knew it wasn’t wise to leave the poor pup out there at the mercy of traffic. I quickly stood up from my chair and walked swiftly out onto my front deck. I reached the side of the deck and whistled at the pup a few times until I caught her attention. I called out “Come here, puppy!” and she dashed over happily with her tail wagging fast enough to propel her onward. The moment she reached me, I realized she was the same black lab who had appeared in my yard last year around this time. She is extremely friendly and obviously well-fed with white around her muzzle indicating she’s not exactly a puppy. When I told her to sit, she rolled over onto her back instead and started wiggling happily around.

As I had an old bag of dog food that Jazzmin no longer liked, I went in the house and fetched a bowl and a scoop of food for the black lab. Jazzmin was extremely excited upon seeing the black lab outside, but I kept the two separated, as I had no idea how the lab was with other dogs. Figuring the lab had probably only recently gained its freedom, I put Jazz in her crate with her peanut butter-filled Kong, placed one of Jazz’s collars on the lab, clicked on the leash and decided to walk down the road in search of the pup’s owners. I knocked on a couple doors where it looked like people would be home but no one answered. One woman did answer her door and she was very friendly but said she didn’t know to whom the dog belonged. It was the first time I’d met any of my neighbors aside from the ones right next door and I suppose walking around with the lost lab was one way to become more social 😉

Squirrel?!

Squirrel?!

After ringing the doorbells on every house where it looked like people were home, finding no owners, and being chased off by three barking beagles, I decided to head back home with the lab. She acted as if she hadn’t been on a leash very much as she pulled, jumped, and danced happily around sniffing everything in sight. I was able to rein her in pretty well but it was kind of like walking a small bear. It certainly put in perspective how well-behaved Jazzmin is on the leash now.

Thankfully, when I headed back out with the lab later, I learned from my closest neighbor that she belonged to a house on the corner and that it wasn’t unusual for her to get out when the wind blew the door open. Armed with that useful knowledge, I walked her up the road and returned her safely home. After that, I took Jazz for a walk and let her sniff around everywhere outside where the lab had been so she would be reassured that her “competition” was no longer on the property.

With that interruption to my day complete, I finished my second writing assignment and set to work continuing the task of reorganizing my living room. For me, reorganizing always involves making a huge mess as I sort through things before I find neater places for all those things and put them away. Amid that reorganizing, I moved something that was holding up my left-handed bass guitar and said guitar fell happily on my arm leaving a mark. I took that as a sign that it’s time for me to get it out and try playing it again, so I tucked it somewhere it won’t fall on me and went about my business.

My sexy, red left-handed bass guitar.

My sexy, red, left-handed bass guitar.

At last, I accomplished my planned tasks of moving a storage cabinet intended to hold the dog supplies, reorganizing the shoes with some repurposed racks, and relocating a large storage ottoman buried under piles of papers. Now all I need is a bookshelf for the living room and I’ll finally have a place for everything! While it took me much longer than I expected and had unplanned interruptions, I accomplished a lot today and toasted myself with a nice, cool glass of homemade red wine. A perfect Friday night in for this very tired superchick. 😉