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A Day in the Life of Cutter

The Morning Hours
Not the typical early-morning riser, Cutter is usually the last one of our household out of bed in the morning. Weekends, he's known for sleeping in an hour later, or more. We get up, make coffee, hang out and listen to the radio, read. He'll come wandering down eventually—usually heading right for his sunbeam on the couch to get in some more snooze-time. He might get up for breakfast, sometimes with coercion. And then it's back up on the couch. He doesn't ask to go out—he will wait until we're ready to go somewhere, or until one of us decides it's time.

During the work week, we humans get up sometime between six and seven. Cutter's usual position when we get in the shower is swaddled in his bed with his blanket over his head. Occasionally, we'll return to the bedroom to find he has taken over the warmest spot in our bed. Or he's found his way to the sunbeam on the futon in the guest room. More often, he's right where we left him, snoring away. We dress and get ready to go downstairs—Marc heads down first. When I'm ready to go, I uncover Cutter and tell him it's time to go eat. He gets up, stretches forward, then backward. He does one big shake, head to toe, pauses for a hug and heads on down.

Downstairs, his first destination is the couch (or the nearest sunbeam). His breakfast usually sits uneaten, waiting for a possible egg or cookie on top. Eventually, he gets up to eat, walking around the living room to help the food down. After eating, there's a puppy-fit in the living room, often accompanied by barking in an attempt to get others to play. He gives up pretty fast (we're usually eating still) and returns to the couch for a nap. If he's lucky, one of us will fall for his charms and engage in a little keep-away around the couch.

When we head upstairs to brush our teeth, our shadow comes with us. He'll stand in the hall outside the bathroom with his hang-dog countenance. Tired of waiting, he'll nose open the door to the guest room and look out the window for a minute or two.

Once we're ready to go, one of us will head out to the field with Cutter to mark his poop with a poop-stake for easy pick-up later on. When he's all done with his business, he moseys over to the poop-stake tree and waits, then when the human catches up, he takes off at a sprint and runs as fast as he can back to the driveway and waits for someone to open the door so he can get in the back seat. We carpool most days, so either Marc will drop us off, or we'll drop him off and then we start the workday.

The Workday
More often than not, Cutter and I are the first ones to work. Lights on, computer plugged in, messages taken off the machine, coffee made. I empty his bowl, clean it out, and fill it with "fresh water" which he'll drink down as soon as I set it on the floor in my office. Then we break for a little bit of play before everyone else shows up. On the days when we're dragging ass and late—and I therefore feel compelled to jump right into my work—Cutter will often stand around or lie down in the doorway, waiting for me to get up from the computer to enjoy this brief, but necessary, part of the day. After a few minutes, he heads to his crate and I sit down at my desk to begin work.

If he's been asleep for a while (when we come in around 8), he won't bother getting up to greet Brian or Val. I'll just hear the knocking sound of his tail wagging against the crate. Other times, he'll come out to see what Val's brought for breakfast, or to play keep-away with Brian, before everyone starts in to work. Cutter spends his day sleeping, getting up to greet the UPS man, the FedEx man, and any other visitors. If deliveries are made, he's in charge of box-shredding. (A real self-starter there.)

At about 12:30 or so, Cutter emerges from his crate, stretching and groaning. More often than not, it's the sound of Val preparing her lunch in the kitchen that wakes him. After he checks things out and determines the likelihood of getting a taste, he'll wander over to her area to observe, etc., the dining experience. Around this time, I'll suit him up (in his Holt No-Tug Harness), grab a poop-bag, and head out to take care of business.

Lunch hour is really the most variable part of Cutter's daily life. Depending on the season, the vehicle situation, and how we're feeling, we will spend our lunch hour walking someplace local. Beech Hill is great for the wintertime, and less great during tick season which is basically all the rest of the year. It can be a pain—most times I have to pull ticks off the both of us after a walk. But we still like that area. And we'll drive to Camden Hills State Park or Harkness. Other times, we'll just head back and play inside (or Brian will play, later, if Cutter is restless from not having his walk, and starts bugging him). Then there are the days, particularly after a busy weekend, when he's happiest to sleep away the entire day.

5 O'Clock
Cutter's internal clock wakes him between 4:30 and 5, especially when he's well-rested. He'll venture out of the crate and take up his post in my doorway, lying down and resting, but ready to move in an instant. He'll rest patiently until Marc comes, or until I pack everything up to go home. Val usually leaves at the same time and we'll walk out with her. (At the old Cheese Co. office, Cutter always knew to stop and wait at the top of the stairs for me to flip the in/out paw.)

The Evening Hours
After running our after-work errands—picking up Dad, grocery shopping, movie getting, etc., we arrive home. One of us will head to the mailbox and Cutter will head for the deck, wagging his tail and sniffing the walk as he goes. Once inside, his first stop is the food bowl, which he'll lick for a while, then give up and head for the couch. We don't usually feed him until it's time for us to eat, too. If he's not ready for the couch, or if he's particularly hungry, he'll pick up a bone or a rawhide porkchop or a bacon-bear—anything edible he happens to have handy—and lies down on his mat to chew for a while. If he's feeling punchy, the chewing is preceded by a brief puppy-fit during which the item is thrown repeatedly about the living room accompanied by barking (directed at the item) and fancy footwork.

About here is the typical hour for the humans to engage in peculiar activities with machines, balls, and heavy objects, if they're so inclined. When they do, the radio is turned up louder than usual, which kind of bugs Cutter (he likes things quiet). But still, he'll go where the humans are—if I'm lifting weights in the guest room, he'll get up and lie on the futon nearby. The Nordic Track is the most annoying, however, and Cutter will often go upstairs and hang out on the big bed while that business is happening. Either that, or he'll stay on the couch with an unsatisfied bend to his ears.

If it's not an exercise night, I usually cook something complicated. Marc helps. Cutter can be found on the couch, watching The Mom and Dad Show, as we say. We feed Cutter about the time that we eat, though he's done sooner. Often we'll listen to Terry Gross and play cribbage or gin rummy while we eat, and Cutter knows to go take it easy for a while. He keeps an eye out, though, and knows when we're done eating. He'll come over and stand around, looking for attention. When we're done the game and done eating, we do the dishes. Then it's usually time for Dad to go put on the wrestle-sweatshirt and play. If not that, something. We'll play keep-away around the couch, or lie down with him while he works on his Kong or eviscerates some new stuffed toy (the old stuffed toys are mostly tattered remnants). This hour of the evening Cutter knows he's the center of attention. If nobody feels like actually engaging in play, it's enough for Cutter just to have somebody down on the floor with him.

Movie time usually hits at 7:30 or 8, about three nights a week. Just as we're settling in, Cutter gets up from the couch and stands by the door (sometimes stopping by the water bowl first). This is the sign to go out and one of us takes him. Cutter resumes his spot on the couch, we crowd in with him. Some movies, Cutter will watch. (The Incredible Adventures of Wallace and Gromit is his favorite—he watches the penguin episode all the way through.) He wakes up for horses and dogs, mostly. But fast action keeps his attention, too. Things he doesn't like are gunshots and explosions and thunder. If we anticipate these, we'll turn down the sound. But more often than not, he'll jolt awake at the noise, bolt from the couch and go lie down on his bed by the heater. For calm movies, Cutter stays put. He starts watching most movies with us, but soon falls into a lightly-snoring sleep. If we're watching an unusually long movie—or we started too late—Cutter's internal clock will wake him around 9:30 or 10 and tell him it's time for everyone to go upstairs to bed. He'll get up—all sleepy-headed and half out of it—shake, and then stand in the middle of the room.

After pausing the movie, one of us will grab the flashlight and check out the front yard to make sure there are no wild creatures about, then Cutter will go out and pee on the front lawn. We call this, "Take yourself out, go pee-pees, come back inside, and you get a cookie." And that's exactly what happens. After the cookie, Cutter gets a bowl of fresh water, which he drinks down completely before heading upstairs. If it's a late movie night, one of us heads up with him to tuck him in (usually on the big bed, until we head up). If we're all going to bed, he waits around for the last person to shut off all the lights and heads up the stairs with them. He checks to make sure everybody is upstairs, peeking into the bathroom, before heading to his bed.

If his bed hasn't already been perfectly arranged, Cutter will either get up on the big bed, or he'll stand at the foot of his bed with his head on the big bed, waiting with slight annoyance in his expression. Then, once someone has arranged the blanket and the bolster and his pillow, just so, he'll settle in with a sigh, burrowing in. (And yes, if it's cold, someone will adjust the blanket to cover him up.) If he's gotten on the big bed, he'll let Mumma into the bed, but the second Dad tries to get in (even when he moves as carefully as possible so as not to disturb the Puppo), Cutter will bolt from the bed noisily and get into his own bed.

During the night, Cutter wakes up two or three times. I'm a light sleeper and usually wake to his "rotation." On a few occasions, when I've failed to awaken fully on my own, Cutter has actually given me a careful nose-poke and then stood by, waiting for it to take effect. I'll readjust his blanket and pillow like he likes and then we both fall off to sleep again. It's a matter of holding up the blanket so he can scoot under, or adjusting the pillow so he can bury his nose.

We hope it's a good life.

And that's that story.

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