Drat! A day late and a dollar short, as the saying goes. I started off this morning writing a post to commemorate the 2/22/22 date but quickly realized I’d need a time machine to pull that off. Between yesterday’s blizzard and working on an upcoming post about Plato and geometry, I lost track of the date (a peril of being retired — dates don’t matter much anymore).
Not that I had anything date-specific to post about, and plenty of other bloggers did post, so no great loss. But having started, I may as well keep going.
Even if all I have are some very tiny treats.
Aren’t those tiny Milk Bones adorable? The box said they were mini, but I was still surprised at how tiny they are. I bought them a couple of weeks ago because it’s February, the month where BentleyMom flees to Florida, and I get to dog-sit my good pal Bentley for ten days.
The only downside is that, as just mentioned, it’s February in Minnesota, which my favorite uncle once called the “coldest, darkest month.” He was technically wrong about it being literally the darkest month — the Winter Solstice being more than a month behind us — but at this point winter and the short days have been getting old. Most of us have a serious case of fièvre de la cabine at this point.
Uncle wasn’t much wrong about it being the coldest month, though. By now the heat inertia that makes the first months of winter bearable has fallen prey to the reverse entropy of several months of cold, so there isn’t much relief. We’re at that point where, even on a bright sunny day, it’s still cold AF.
Like right now. Not a cloud in the sky, but it’s +4° (Fahrenheit) out, which is one reason I’m writing a blog post rather than taking my morning walk. It needs to be at least +10° for that! It doesn’t look like we’ll see that at all today, but hopefully tomorrow it’ll warm up a bit (the forecast says +15°).
The sick thing is being at that point in winter where the plus and minus signs on the temperature really matter. Below zero is bad enough, but -10° (let alone below that) sucks all the balls in the basket.
The February weather is why the tiny treats. Between what age does to most of us and the inability to take decent walks, Bentley needs to cut down on the calories. (So do I, for that matter and for the same reasons.)
I see the ten days as a vacation for all of us. BentleyMom enjoying visiting her folks in Florida, Bentley (hopefully) enjoying hanging out with me, and even I change things up — less blogging, more reading and evening TV watching.
But I’m gored by the dilemma of the delight dogs get from treats versus the need to try to cut back, and who wants to cut back on vacation? Bentley is quite clear on the matter: Moar Treetz!
That’s why the tiny treats. And small bits of roasted chicken breast that I figure are both healthier and (hopefully) lower in calories than dog treats.
Another problem with winter confinement is sheer boredom. Dogs (and many humans) are intelligent creatures. Sitting around inside is boring, especially if you’re not into curling up on the couch and reading. I’ve tried to interest Bentley in science fiction, but she’s too grounded for such fantastic stories.
To give her something to do, I cram the treats inside a hollow bone or inside the Kong toy I bought her. Part of the deal with the classic Kong is that you can put treats inside it. Most dogs figure out that throwing or dropping it can cause the treat to pop out, and it’s hysterical to watch.
(The original Kong, I think, is still one of the best dog toys ever, especially for a dog like Bentley who usually quickly destroys most toys. “Quickly” as in minutes. Bentley isn’t much into fetch, but dogs who are really love how they bounce around so unpredictably.)
That said, like most dogs, she spends much of her day sleeping. Some dispute whether dogs dream, but her many muscle twitches, muffled barks, and eye movements, sure seem like coherent dreams to me (coherent for dreams, anyway).
There’s an old saying about letting sleeping dogs lie (which has always puzzled me, because dogs are always very honest). The prohibition is somewhat along the lines of not waking someone who is sleep walking, which I’ve never taken too seriously, but a stronger objection is that it disturbs REM sleep. On that count I try not to disturb her dreams.
Some of those dreams, though, are vigorous and active. She seems to be running and barking, even jerking violently sometimes. She can be kind of a ruffian on her play dates with doggie friends, and I hope that’s what her dreams amount to. I’d hate for her to be having nightmares.
We weren’t stuck inside the entire time. The week was okay (Bentley Time started on a Monday), especially Thursday and Friday, but a nasty cold front moved in on the weekend.
It was worse than just cold, though. It was so warm on Thursday and Friday that the snow and ice melted, plus the cold front pushed a bit of precipitation ahead of it. Very wet snow, even rain, which produced a lot of water that the cold front turned to ice.
Suddenly the whole world was a skating rink. Taking Bentley out for a quick pee, I just slid down the incline of my driveway! I envied her having four paws. At my age a “slip and fall” is no joke.
Those who study self-awareness in animals often use some form of “mirror test” — does the animal recognize itself in a mirror. Most animals don’t. Generally, dogs don’t. Often, they’ll get excited the first time they encounter a mirror (my puppy Sam sure did), but, because there’s no smell or sounds from the image, they often quickly lose interest (Sam, once she got over it, never found it interesting again).
Fellow dog-lover and online friend, Tina (of the Diotima’s Ladder blog) suggested a kind of explicit training. Sit in front of the mirror with the dog and use touch to try to connect what the dog experiences with the image in the mirror. I bought the mirror you see in the photo above to try that.
I think I got her to recognize herself. Maybe. She does seem to understand reflection, I’ve often seen her looking at me in the mirror, and I can’t tell if she doesn’t quite understand her own image or just totally doesn’t care. Given she recognizes me in the mirror, I’m leaning towards just doesn’t care.
It was a nice vacation, got a lot of reading done, and taking Bentley for walks got me back into it for myself. Between winter weather and some joint issues, I’d let my daily walks slide (aging sucks; try to avoid it).
Unfortunately, having gotten started again, now the weather is keeping me inside again. It’s currently up to +7°, and that’s likely today’s high. My uncle was right; February is awful.
[400+ words deleted] I had a rant here about how increasingly disappointed I am in Apple (adding to my increasing disappointment in WordPress and major longtime disappointment in Google), but I decided to leave that for another post. Or not even. What’s the point, really? Unless we all band together and refuse to put up with the crap, the crap will continue.
Which is exactly why most movies suck these days. No one really cares enough to demand better.
I tried to watch Red Notice on Netflix the other night but bailed after 40 utterly pointless and infantilely stupid minutes because it was killing too many of my brain cells. The whole Ryan Reynolds schtick is beyond old at this point, and as likeable as Dwayne Johnson is, it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the stupid cliched pointlessness. Gal Gadot has always been kind of a zero in my book, so I was the opposite of engaged or even interested.
I used to talk about how modern movies are often nothing more than a string of cliched icons strung together — cool moments taken from other stories and made into a pointless scrapbook of a movie. Add to that utterly infantile writing, a fault I’m seeing more and more.
That was Red Notice. An utter waste of time, a nothing of a story, and written by an infant. Even by Netflix standards it was a piece of shite.
[Damn. There went the word count again. Blame it on fièvre de la cabine. I am seriously looking forward to Spring!]
Stay warm, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.