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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Dogs Who Feel Deeply

p3Our Scottish Terriers, Misha and Grisha, are the family’s big babies. They love to cuddle, snuggle, play, eat… and get into trouble. The Scotties sniff in closets, trash cans, suitcases and backpacks for a tasty morsel or a dirty sock.

Their trouble-seeking behaviors are exacerbated when they are missing the family. Let one of us parents go away on a business trip, or the kids go away on an excursion for a day or two and look out: the dogs miss everyone so much that they can barely stand it. And it leads to trouble.p

Why they can’t just sit and mourn by the front door is beyond me. I recall the moving film, “Return to Me” where the wife dies in an unexpected car crash and the couple’s dog will not move from the front door, ever waiting for her return. It makes me tear up every time.

But Misha and Grisha? When our kids went away to the mountains recently, I was home alone with the dogs as Benedetto worked at the dacha. Everything went haywire, from a flooded basement, to a toilet that broke, to changing pick-up times for the kids… but most of all, it was the dogs who couldn’t handle everyone’s absence.

p2What am I, chopped liver?

The first night, I could not sleep upstairs. Instead, I brought a pillow and blanket down to the couch and slept there to keep the little guys company. (Little guys is a relative term, these are big dogs in small dog bodies, about 20 pounds each, with personalities many times multiplied.)

Then they insulted me by not curling up on top of my legs which is their favorite sleeping position. Every two minutes they would jump down from another couch when they heard a car door, running to the front door in hopes that it would be the family returning. No sleep at all for any of us.p

The next day, 5:00 am, they needed to go out in the small, urban backyard. Grisha does not return after 10 minutes. I call for him. I rattle some kibble in his dog dish. Then I venture out in my robe, into the early-morning, chilly darkness. I discover him near the far corner of the fence, no doubt trying to escape, which if I had to collect him would end up to be a three-block, around-the-corner adventure.

Here, the two fences apparently don’t meet. This is what I learn in the early morning hours. It appears as though Benedetto has piled branches in front of the small gap in an effort to deter any digging or escaping. Instead, I find Grisha stuck in the branches, he cannot move, and his tail starts wagging, propeller-style, when he sees me come to rescue him.


IMG_2811How can I be mad at a face like this?

Then Misha starts jumping up the stairs. The upstairs with its many bedrooms is off-limits to the dogs. We place the top of a big, plastic storage tub across the steps to keep the dogs downstairs. Misha now takes flying leaps at the stairs and I find him sneaking upstairs seven times in a row. If I dare to go and take a shower, he will be somewhere there, rooting around in the kids’ rooms.

Not good. Not safe. I carry him around from room to room, showing him that nobody is there. Doesn’t solve the problem in the least.

I put them in their crates for small periods of time.

And on it goes all weekend long, until everyone returns home, safe and sound. The dogs sleep contentedly, snoring, dreaming, twitching. All is well. These are our Scotties who feel so deeply about their family. I love them.


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