Siobhan Connally’s Ittybits & Pieces: Can I Mow The Lawn?

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The dog came bounding over to me, a moist tangle of curly, black hair and slobbery jowls.

“Stay down, stay down, stay down,” I chanted as she proceeded to plant her front two mulberry-stained feet on my midsection.

Summer has arrived, and suddenly my desire to wear white departs.

And quickly, the true reason one never lets dogs on the furniture becomes self-evident.


Pawprints. Everywhere. Reminding me again why it is we can’t have nice things.

The impulse strikes me to cut down the tree and be done with it. Weed tree has grown big and tall and fruitful.

But there are so many options.

I know I should be more consistent with training and consequences. I know the best practices: Ignore unwanted behavior, restrict access to the object of desire, reward desired behavior. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I stay cool and calm and collected. Not overly enthusiastic or encouraging. I turn my back. Still, black and purple berry stains dapple my clothes like bruises.

Oh, sure. Eventually, a calm will set in. The dog will get tired of pin-balling around and curl up near a kid. Compelled, as Summer usually is, to have at least one part of her being touching a part of theirs. Everything slows: breathing, heart rate, blood pressure.

At this moment, anyway, I wish we could all be a little more like dogs. Or at least the attributes we humans tend to ascribe to them:

Joyful, loyal, loving and just a little bit ludicrous. Resilient.

Not that it would solve anything. We‘d still have to keep an eye on the royal Corgis, who will nip at your heels; and possibly that Great Dane, who doesn’t know his own strength.

Maybe it is just knowing they usually are what they seem, and that remedies are as straightforward as action/consequence that leads me to such thoughts.

I can tell who is eyeing whom with wicked thoughts, and when to intervene. I can gauge when a single timeout will reset the entire clock or when it won’t work at all.

And though I don’t know what’s zooming around in their minds as they chase a squirrel or run a fence with another pal, I just know in those moments they seem wholly unencumbered with any other trouble. And I wish we all had a lot more of that.

You know … like the bumper sticker says, Bark less, Wag more.

In human terms, it seems like we need some kind of faith in humanity. Some sort of faith in the future.

And the more I try to draw a distinction, the more I see how alike we are.

It’s always going to be messy. There will still be misunderstandings and misdeeds. Most of the time we will handle it easily. But not always. Especially when Summer eats my shoe.

But I also know, eventually this will end. The birds and squirrels will dispatch the fruit, and the remainder can be washed away with a hose. Maybe next year we could make wine.

Every season requires patience and persistence. Even this one.

Siobhan Connally is a writer and photographer living in the Hudson Valley. Her column about family life appears weekly in print and online.

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Siobhan Connally’s Ittybits & Pieces: The dog days of summer require patience