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It’s a Gentle Leader, people. See? I can still
stick my tongue up my left nostril.

I trudge up three flights of stairs to be met by a museum security guard. 

Excuse me, ma’am, she says, stepping into my path of the exit. We were wondering why your service dog is wearing a muzzle.

Ok, that was three flights, chick. Up. To claim I’m out of shape would imply that somewhere in the recent past I was once in shape. I am intent on breathing through my nose so that I won’t actually pant like a black dog in the sun. But great. Now I’m expected to talk in a coherent and sane manner.

And I just hoofed it up here because I got the gotta-potty-please look from Yaxley. We’re on important and urgent business here, security guard person.

But wait . . . just a sec here. Who is this “we” anyway? We were wondering . . .? So the collective security guard force has been talking about me and the dog? Huh.

Isn’t he a handsome fella?, I start off with. Because it’s true and I say this to everybody. You know, he’s not wearing a muzzle. Actually that’s a head collar, a Gentle Leader.  It’s a training tool we use which gives the handler better control of the dog by controlling the head.  

Ok, now read that again, but pause between every three words or so. I’m making a sincere effort to not suck in air like I’ve had my head held under water. Which is only making it worse, really.

See?, I hold open Yaxley’s mouth to show his pearly whites. He is still able to eat, drink or bark with the Gentle Leader on. It’s not restricting in any way.

Oh, we’ve had the Gentle Leader 60 Second Training session many a time. Every CCI puppy raiser has, I would wager. Instead of being frustrated with the muzzle doppelganger issue, I try to see this as an educational opportunity.

As in I taught someone something today! My work here is done, kinda thing.

The security guard is an all business gal, but polite enough. She assures me that she’s not being confrontational. (I do believe she may have misunderstood my labored breathing as some sort of panic attack.) And continues on to share stories of small dogs smuggled in purses and attempts to bring ill-behaved pet dogs through the museum because it was too hot to leave them in the car.

I’m courteous in return, wanting to keep things all sunshine and rainbows here. Yaxley and I strive to be good ambassadors for CCI.  But this valiant effort will be all for naught if I don’t get that sloshing canine bladder out that door rather soon-like. I’m anticipating a double-duty event, actually.

Double. Duty. #2 doody, get it?  Bwa ha ha [snort]. Alrighty then, moving on.

We make our apologies to the security guard. I could stand and talk about dogs all afternoon with her, really I could.  But I need to toilet the puppy, won’t you please excuse us and all that kinda thing.  No worries though, Yaxley and I have a system down on this toileting thing with body cues and mind waves and stuff.  We make it in plenty of time, bag it and tag it, and are back in the museum refreshed and ready to roll onward.

With our final weeks together quickly coming to a close, I thought it good to walk Yaxley through the multi-sensory environment that is the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.   I was especially interested in checking out the Day in Pompeii exhibit that had been enjoying some rave reviews.

From the Cinncinnat Museum Center’s website: 

The Roman city of Pompeii was frozen in time by the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Pompeii’s archeological treasures rarely leave Italy, and this national touring exhibit marks the first time that these rare treasures will come to the region. Room-sized frescos, marble and bronze sculptures, jewelry, gold coins, and hundreds of priceless ancient artifacts join body casts of the volcano’s victims, eerily preserved in their final frantic moments. Don’t miss this glimpse through a unique window into the ancient past.

So a double-duty trip, so to speak. Ugh, no not that duty. You know, checking off two things in one event. Honestly, people.

Yaxley was his usual rock star self. Staying by my side and alert for what I needed him to do next. Sit, Down, Let’s Go, all that went well. We watched a short film on the destruction of the city of Pompeii by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Complete with a surround sound effect of booming noises and vibrating walls. Yaxley? No problemo. I can’t say he’s bomb-proof, but he should be pretty stable around a volcanic eruption.

Is it hot in here or is it just me? heh heh

The last feature of the Pompeii exhibit leads us into a darkened room with the body casts of victims from this disaster of 79 AD.  Rather somber and serious in this room. I’ve read about this event over the years in various magazine articles. I recall the striking photos of the natural  phenomena that created these ashen body casts. It was more than surreal to be standing in front of them now. I could have reached out to touch each one. But I didn’t of course. Not with the security team already whispering about me on those little headsets of theirs. That just wouldn’t be prudent.

The room was blanketed with an eerie silence as folk moved through. A reminder that it is a tomb of sorts. I noticed that Yaxley showed a sense of curiosity here. He observed everything, his nose twitching as I stopped to read each placard. What does a dog think when in the presence of such things? I wonder.

And then we came to the dog.  The brave creature that was chained to his post as a guard dog to his owner’s fuller shop. The body cast revealed the studded collar, the chain that held him to his fate. All the funereal body casts were hard to look at and I found this just as hard to process for what it was. An image can be found on Wikipedia’s Pompeii page.

I saw that dog, Food Lady. I need a hug.

In the silence, a voice. Don’t look! she says, looking at Yaxley. Ah, humor. Thank you kind lady, we needed the break. I shield Yaxley’s eyes and we move along.

The exhibit ends as all have before them. Into the bright, clear lights of the gift shop.

Ha! I’m stepping on our house. And Canada gets a special view.
Full moon tonight, eh.

As the day’s still young, we have time to explore the Natural History side of the museum as well.  On to the Ice Age for us for a meetup with a prehistoric wolf.

Back off, ye dire wolf. One more step and my
laser eyes will vaporize your shaggy self.

We slip further back in time to the cretaceous period for a face off with an ankylosaurus. Sure it’s a plant eater, but just look at that beak, willya?  Even get tagged by a cockatiel or some other pet bird? Yeah, times that by about fifty and you’re gonna lose more than a fingertip.

But that’s nothing to the brave Yaxley. He’s all bring it on, parrot head.

Because I’ll just shoot my laser eyes at ya [pow pow] and you’ll be stuck dating Barbie.


The Husband, Yaxley and I enjoyed the company of my favorite kid and his lovely girlfriend. Derek and Sam pose in front of the Cincinnati Museum Center, formerly the Union Terminal.  Yaxley is between them to keep an eye out for ill tempered dinosaurs.

If you have a nagging feeling about that familiarity of that art deco architecture, then you may have to embrace your inner geekness for all to see. This design was indeed the inspiration for The Hall of Justice for the Justice League (DC comics). 

Which I think is way cooler than it probably is.

About Donna Black-Sword

Lover of all things Dog.

6 responses »

  1. If you're not a professional author and making lots of $$…you SHOULD be!

    Deb and I laughed until we cried!


  2. Thanks for reading my ramblings, Mark & Deb. I'm blushing at your compliment. The irony of it all? I'm in Finance. But was able to squeak my way in as a newsletter editor at work, so does that count as getting paid for writing?


  3. OMC….you just made a cat person read your entire post, snorting and snuffling all the way (and no, I didn't stick my tongue in my nose, Yaxley's got it way over me (maybe not the cats) in that respect, and many others! What a great post, full of heart and true life! I love blogging in what it brings to life right here on my dining room table!


  4. Home run, again! Love your posts, Donna – keep 'em coming!


  5. What a wonderful compliment! I'm with ya on loving blogging, especially when it brings dog people and cat people together on common ground, LOL. We do have the occasional cat story here, too. Bodine will not be ignored, he tells me.


  6. Thanks Leigh Anne! I'm glad you enjoyed this week's adventure.



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