Thursday, April 28, 2011

This Week's Column

One freaked out Corgi

The past couple weeks were full of storms and have left me with little sleep. Not because they wake me up, I find sleeping through stormy weather quite soothing.
My lack of sleep is because, for some reason, Duke the Corgi suddenly has become scared of storms. Furthermore he believes when he is scared I have to be awake. Boo, my Chocolate Lab, is quite annoyed by this as he grumbles at Duke and then flops back asleep.
I’m not sure where this new fear of storms came from, but the lack of sleep is beginning to wear on me.
I discovered over the stormy weekend he can now sense when a storm is coming. His heightened canine senses can tell me when a storm is coming before I even hear the thunder. I know this because the poor little thing freaks out.
When the storms rolled in Saturday, he started whining and wouldn’t leave my side. I almost tripped over him several times. I would sit down on the couch and he would run as fast as his little legs could take him to the couch and sit next to me shaking, trying to sit as close to me as possible.
After hearing the tornado warning on television I opened my basement door in case we had to go down in a hurry. Duke didn’t wait for that. I noticed I hadn’t tripped over him for a while and found him sitting in the basement. I called for him, and he wouldn’t leave the basement. He stayed there until the storm rolled through and he was happy.
This would have been fine and dandy if he hadn’t sat right in the middle of a puddle of water that had settled in my basement, tracking said water throughout my house when he emerged from his safe zone.
The worst is at night. The little booger wakes me up and makes me stay awake until the storm has passed and he feels safe again. Early Monday morning I was woken by his barking. It’s kind of funny. It’s almost as if he’s whispering at first but then when I don’t wake and immediately give him attention he gets louder.
Each time it storms, I roll over to the Corgi who is crying in my ear and pat him on the head and say a little “it’s OK, boy” and roll over to try to go back to sleep. This does not satisfy his majesty so he usually starts crawling all over me until I give him satisfactory attention. Again, Boo will grumble and then go back to sleep, annoyed.
Usually, this is the routine during any storm. That morning in particular he added a new part to the routine. He hid under the covers.
I was slightly relieved because I thought maybe if he can hide under the covers he’ll be OK and won’t need me to be awake. Sadly, that was not the case. He would hide and then emerge to make sure I was awake and if I wasn’t he’d wake me up again.
While dogs can often sense things that humans cannot I will never be able to tell if Duke is trying to alert me to danger because he does this with any rumble of thunder, not just the dangerous storms.
So, the past couple weeks I’ve been dealing with a freaked out Corgi. I placate his nervous moments and then tiredly go throughout my day with lots of coffee and little sleep the night before.
I can understand when people have to do this for their children, but Duke is a dog. I try to remind him of that fact, but I’m not sure it’s sinking in.
With more spring storms to come, I will expect many more restless nights ahead. Maybe he’ll get over his fear as quickly as he developed it. Probably not. Boo and I will just have to learn to tolerate him.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This week's column

Heroes, we can’t help but like them. They can do things that go beyond human expectations. The onslaught of comic book hero movies hitting theaters this summer makes me wonder why we like these characters and, for that matter, who was my favorite superhero growing up. Comic book heroes have been around for a while, but does today’s society latch on to them because it is searching for heroes? When my parents were younger, astronauts were going to the moon for the first time, the cowboys on TV didn’t have shady real-life personas and athletes really were athletes without medicinal assistance. Today, unfortunately, if any supposed “hero” makes his or her way to the public eye the premier is quickly followed by a major crash from the pedestal. And movie superheroes really don’t do much better. They all seem to have a bit of an anti-hero edge to their heroic endeavors. But back to my original question, why do we like superheroes? Maybe it’s because they often come from other planets as Superman did. Or is it because, like Batman and Iron Man, they are ordinary people who find ways to make themselves super? Maybe it’s that an ordinary student can be bitten by spider and suddenly become superhuman. And let’s not forget “The Greatest American Hero,” or at least, we can’t forget the song. “Believe it or not I’m walking on air/I never thought I could feel so free-ee-ee/flying away on a wing and a prayer/Who could it be?/Believe it or not it’s just me.” Sadly, I didn’t even have to look up the lyrics on that one. Regardless, I think we all have our favorites. My brother’s were the man of steel and a masked cowboy. Growing up he loved Superman. He might have even had a pair of Superman Underoos. Anybody else remember Underoos? But I think the Lone Ranger was his all-time favorite. He’s still a big fan of Westerns today. I remember when we took him to see the 1981 film version. He was one excited 4-year-old. Dressed in his cowboy hat and six-shooter on his belt, he sat wide-eyed and excited when the lone crusader turned around with his mask on and the iconic music played in the background. But for me, my hero drove an invisible jet, had a lasso of truth, could deflect bullets with her golden bracelets and had some killer boots. That’s right, Wonder Woman. Imagine 6-year-old little Becca spinning like crazy to turn into Wonder Woman just like Lynda Carter did on the show. This is how it usually went down. I had a specific outfit to wear as her alter ego Diana Prince. It was a plaid skirt with a ruffled blouse, like many outfits I saw her wear on the show. With my hair pulled back and wearing glasses I began my transformation. I would begin to spin and under my outfit I had blue shorts and a red top. I would also wear my mom’s boots which were way too big and hit me above the knees. Then there were the bracelets: the biggest I could find in my mom’s jewelry box. When my hair came out of the pony tail I would put on either a headband or tiara. Also included in the outfit was one of those 1970s-style gold rope ties that would go around the olive green curtains in the living room, for the lasso. I should also tell you this all happened while I was still spinning, creating a very dizzy Wonder Woman when it was all complete. After the transformation was complete I was then ready to hop in my invisible jet and fight the evildoers … often with the Lone Ranger by my side. So yes, I’m a sucker for a good superhero story as well. I’m excited about “Thor,” “Captain America,” a new X-Men flick this summer and the promise of a Justice League and Avengers film in the future. And let’s not forget a new Lone Ranger movie next year. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find the true answer of why we like these films, other than the coolness factor, but I like that kids can still dream of knights, cowboys and caped crusaders. C.S. Lewis may have said it best. “Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.”