Monday, September 19, 2011

Making Other Plans

Life is what happens while you make other plans.  John Lennon

A week ago, I loaded the dogs in the car and drove with my sister, Jane, from Jupiter Island, Florida, up to Washington, DC. The plan was for me to spend at least a month and a half up at our loft apartment in the Tysons Corner area. Jane would visit and then fly back to Florida.

Packing for any trip is a challenge, as my blog sisters will attest. But when you are changing climates and in the midst of creative projects, it's especially daunting. Jane and I both suffer from RLS (Restless Legs Syndrome), a neurological problem that results in discomfort and pain in your legs, aggravated by sitting for long stretches. There had to be a lot of stops along the way so we could stretch. We arrived in McLean, VA, at 3 a.m. If you haven't been to the area lately, you can't imagine what a mess it is. They are adding three new Metro stations to the area. We found ourselves dodging orange barrels and trying to find our way along 9-lane roads marked "Changing Traffic Patterns" and newly constructed exits that were poorly marked. Even the GPS got confused. We wound up on a short dirt spit surrounded by construction vehicles. I sat there a minute, did a U-turn, and crept along until I found a familiar landmark and made it to the condo.

We arrived at 2 a.m.

Sadly, it became quickly apparent that the dogs would not adjust well to life on the 7th floor. The engineered wood floors--while beautiful--were too slick for poor Rafferty. The poor dude's three feet went out from under him! The floor in the elevator was marble and might as well have been pure glass. Once you got out of the elevator, you had to get both dogs across the marble foyer. Then you had to get them to walk almost a block away to "do their business." When we signed the lease, dogs were allowed in the green space directly in front of the building. But as my character Mert might say, "Not no more."

After getting the pooches settled as best I could, My husband and I flew on to St. Louis for my scheduled signings and Bouchercon. It was great to be back in the Gateway to the West, but I felt a little sick at heart. How would we deal with the dogs and the housing situation? How would my sister manage two dogs? One that couldn't stand up and one that HATES to walk on a leash? That's right; Victoria finds walking on a leash beneath her dignity. We've had dog trainers work with her to no avail.

Victoria (in the pink) is annoyed. "I asked for a limo! Not a grocery cart!" Raffi says, "To infinity and beyond! Hurry, lady, I've got to go potty."
Auntie Jane came up with an ingenious idea for getting both dogs outside at the same time. She put Vicki and Rafferty in a grocery cart. You see, there's a 24-hour Harris Teeter grocery store on the first floor of the condo building. All the residents borrow the grocery carts and take their bags of food up in the elevator, then return the carts. Jane realized that she could fit two dogs in the cart, navigate the elevator, guide the cart down the sidewalk to the grass where dogs were at least tolerated, unload her furry cargo, let them do their business, re-load them and go home.

"Auntie Jane? Um, is this safe? Hello?"

Smart cookie! Needless to say, the dogs and Jane received a lot of interested glances and comments.

Meanwhile, I was racing from signing to signing and to a doctor's appointment with my heart in my throat. How was this going to work? Sure, the cart was a good stop-gap measure, but long term? What would happen when there was snow and ice? Or rain? How would we manage when we had to call a dog sitter?

But I'm a lucky girl. My darling husband brought up the subject. "I don't think this is fair to Rafferty. He can't cope. If we just had Vicki, we could carry her. But Raffi weighs nearly 30 pounds! I think you'd better go back to Florida."

So Jane and I re-loaded the car. We arrived back here in Florida a little after midnight. The dogs hopped out of the car and puttered around in the grass. Both of them seemed relieved.

How about you? Are you often forced to make other plans?


Linda O. Johnston said...

How wonderful that you were willing to change your own plans for the sake of your pups, Joanna. I applaud you!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Linda, we tried booties. We tried the wheelchair. We tried a potty-park and piddle pads. It just didn't work, and we've made a commitment to Raffi and Victoria.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

And Harris Teeter needs their grocery carts back!