Monday, March 15, 2010

My new boss has a tail and pees outside


As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I’ve worked in marketing & corporate communications for the last 10 years.

What I haven’t mentioned is that right now, I’m not.

Three days before this past Christmas, my employer summoned me for a routine meeting. Well, I thought it was a routine meeting. It turned out he thought it was an excellent time to inform me my position was being eliminated.

I was sad for about 43 minutes. That’s the time it took me to clear out my home office and review the household budget with Pythagoras to determine that we would not be required to juggle flaming cantaloupes on a street corner to pay the bills.

While I hunt for a new job, the layoff has given me what I’ve always dreamed of having – the time and space to devote myself to being a “real” author. Though my new three-book deal with Sourcebooks certainly helped my quest for “real” authordom, I wasn’t certain how well I’d stay focused without the structure of a day job. Would I freeze up? Flounder for routine? Become addicted to cyber-porn without a boss breathing down my neck?

I didn’t need to fear any of those things. I have an Australian Kelpie.

For those unfamiliar with the breed, Australian Kelpies are herding dogs on caffeinated crack. Medium-sized and tenacious, Kelpies will herd anything that moves and several things that don’t. We acquired Bindi from a local rescue group five months ago, and within an hour of her arrival at our house, she had herded the three cats into the living room, lined them up alphabetically, and taught them to execute a military salute in formation.

She runs me the same way.

If I’m tempted to sleep in and ignore the blog, my canine boss is quick to cajole me out of bed.

Once I’m seated at the computer and my workday is underway, Bindi assigns herself the task of accompanying me on journeys to other parts of the house. If I get up to fill my water glass, she herds me up and down the stairs with a gentle reminder that my time is best spent in the office and not dusting the houseplants on the landing.

My new boss does permit me to have regular physical fitness breaks, something with surprising benefits for my writing. I can spend hours in front of my computer alternating between beating my head on the keyboard and beating the keyboard on my head as I attempt to solve a complex plotting issue. The second I leash the beasts and head for the woods, the puzzle pieces of my plot will begin falling into place. By the time I return to my computer, I can barely type fast enough to capture all the new clarity I’ve achieved.

So overall, I guess you’d say I’m happy with my new boss. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say she’s made me a better writer, but she’s certainly kept me from being a lazy one.

For those of you interested in seeing Bindi in action, I have a one-minute video clip to share.

A bit of background: Bindi’s canine housemate is Ozzy, an elderly Australian Shepherd/Heeler mix who is deaf, mostly blind, arthritic, and suffering from a vestibular disorder and a torn ligament in his knee. In spite of all this, he loves to go for hikes in the woods, where he inevitably wanders off and can’t hear us calling him.

Enter Bindi . . .

19 comments :

KAK said...

Uhm, may I borrow Bindi? My husky tends to disappear..yes, even on leash. No, you don't wanna know how that happens.

kristina said...

Thank you for rescuing Bindi. So dang cute. My Charlie is a rescue (mystery mutt the size of Texas), as is the cat (Pepper) and our Coral the Greyhound (RIP girl!).

Go give that mean ole boss of yours a kong-full of treats just for being so dang helpful! :)

Mason Canyon said...

Sounds like you have a great new boss, one that watches out for those. I love how pets learn how to help each other out.

Tawna Fenske said...

KAK, we used to have a disappearing dog just like that (Akita mix, as a matter of fact, probably a lot like your husky). We called her "rocket dog," and she was very good at vanishing.

kristina, all of our beasts are rescue animals from one place or another. Best. Pets. Ever. Your mystery mutt sounds great. Aren't mutts fabulous?

Mason, she's definitely the best boss I've ever had. Of course she's the first boss I've had who's able to lick her own butt, though there have been several I suspected were capable of it.

Tawna

Linda G. said...

I like your new boss a lot better than your old one. I'll bet she's better-looking, too. And obviously smarter. Sure, that's just speculation on my part, but it stands to reason. :)

Candyland said...

I don't see the difference between Bindi and my 3 year old boss. Except Bindi can't talk back. Bonus points for that.

Jade said...

I didn't realise there was a market for Kelpie's and Heeler's overseas. I thought the only people crazy enough to want one would be sheep farmers with a gazillion acres!

My mum has a Kelpie X who was rescued too and she stalks things: other dogs, birds, kangaroos.
She's nothing if not entertaining!

Karla Nellenbach said...

My bosses' names are Scooter (a Heinz 57 that I'm sure has some greyhound and jack russell-hes just too bouncy - in him along with doberman and various others) and Sampson (a purebred doberman)...both rescued from the outer fringes of canine society.
And, they're the best bosses a writer could ask for...that is until they decide to snap off their leashes to chase a rabbit down the street! Oh, and FYI Candyland: my boys do talk back. A LOT

Rhonda said...

Ack! What a scrooge your old boss was. Happy Christmas, you're being made redundant!

However, your new boss is obviously superior in every way...and I love how he "herds" his people, his feline and canine companions and keeps you on task.

Are Kelpies good with kids? Because my sister has 6, under the age of 7, and since she has failed to evolve the necessary extra 20 arms to cope with this I'm thinking a herding dog might be the next best thing. :)

Jeffe Kennedy said...

No treat necessary, ma'am - just the satisfaction of a job well done!

Tawna Fenske said...

Linda G, on the off chance that my former boss is lurking on my blog, I'll just say that my old boss and my new one both have their strengths and weaknesses. But, um...yeah. The new boss is way better.

Candyland, yes, Bindi gets bonus points for not talking back. She probably loses a point or two for occasionally chewing up books.

Jade, you see a surprising number of herding dogs (heelers, border collies, etc.) in local animal shelters around here. Some are working dogs that apparently didn't work out for some rancher, and others are likely house-pets abandoned by someone who didn't realize that herding breeds have A LOT of energy. Though you don't see many Kelpies over here, we did have the distinct pleasure of watching a Kelpie demonstration in Australia a few years ago. Seeing them pack the sheep together in a cluster and then run across the sheep's backs was priceless!

Karla, isn't it fun to try to guess what went into the batter to make mixed-breed dogs? We know Ozzy is probably a blend of Australian Shepherd, Blue Heeler, and Border Collie, but it's just a guess. Bindi, on the other hand, is such a textbook example of a working Kelpie that it's tough to imagine what else might be in the mix for her.

Rhonda, no kidding, nice Christmas gift, eh? But things have worked out well so far, so I can't complain. Since I don't have kids (and honestly know zilch about them) I can't comment with any authority about how Kelpies do with children, but I do know that many animal shelters suggest herding breeds not go to homes with small children. Herders aren't vicious at all, but their instinct is to nip at the heels of livestock to get them moving in the right direction. That might not be the way you want your kids moved around! Then again, plenty of people have told me herders and cats aren't compatible, and we have three cats in the house with two herding dogs. Go figure.

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Jeffe Kennedy said...

I should have mentioned - we have a border collie!

alittlesincerity said...

Wow. My papillon is the same way. She's a little queen when it comes to me taking time away from her. Seriously lowering productivity haha

Tawna Fenske said...

Jeffe, a border collie, huh? Then you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about! Does he/she herd you around the house?

alittlesincerity, papillons are cute, cute, CUTE! How could you not allow her to rule your life?! :)

Tawna

Sierra Godfrey said...

OK, but as someone who also has worked in marketing and corporate communications for the past 10 years, I still envy you for staying home and not starving. (and for the 3 book deal, drool!)

Tawna Fenske said...

Sierra, well, the "not starving" I probably owe to the unemployment checks (a big bonus of getting laid off instead of quitting). Those won't last forever, so I either have to get a "real" job or make it as a "real" author. I don't have very long to see which it will be!

Tawna

Anonymous said...

We just got our first herding dog mix. I've had a Husky, Great Danes, an Akita/ Shepherd mix and Greyhounds. This latest addition is a Collie/ Shepherd and she's young. After having Greys for the last few years, her energy level is quite a bit different! We now have a dog that plays and understands it. Trying to play fetch or tug of war with a Greyhound doesn't generally work too well. You throw something and they look at you as if to say, "What? You didn't like that one? If you don't want it, why should I go get it? You threw it, you get it."

Greyhounds are supposed to be prey driven and not all of them are small animal safe. However, my girl apparently missed that memo. She frequently sleeps with one of our cats. That could be because Lily is warm though...

I have a house full of contradictions as far as animal relations go. I have three cats, three degu, two dogs and four birds. Nothing like getting a bit from each group. Oh well. Keeps things interesting for sure.

And yes, all of them are rescues.

Fel.

Lindsay said...

I think we need to give Bindi and Jaeda another chance to be best friends - or lovers. What I mean, is that I need more Bindi time.

Tawna Fenske said...

Anonymous/Fel, aren't herding dogs a trip? They're certainly different than most dogs! We had an Akita/Shepherd mix too, and she was an amazing dog.

Lindsay, Bindi would love a date with Jaeda. Give us a call anytime! As you might have heard, I have no job :)

Tawna