Monday, December 31, 2007


I started this blog for one reason: to get discovered by a literary agent. Then I would sign a book deal for my novel in progress, and be a guest on Oprah. Ha!

I met some great new friends, and was delighted to see a bunch of my faithful past readers were here and I started writing like crazy. Oh it felt good. I gave up my custom collar business to give me more time to write. A bunch of people found my book here and bought it, which helped.

In September, on the first week of this blog's existence, it was visited 516 times, with 853 page views. Even though Bill and I probably accounted for at least 500 page views, it was still an exciting start. This week, we had 2336 visits, with 3205 page views. Come on Oprah! The average visit has stayed pretty constant at around two minutes. Visitors have come from sixty-seven countries. Only, India doesn't count, because the fifteen visitors from India averaged two seconds per visit. No, India doesn't count.

Thank you for giving me your most valuable two minutes! I know how crammed every one's day is.

Now, for the resolution. The blog has gotten me writing consistently, but not necessarily on my novel. So. What do you think of my posting more excerpts from the novel here as I go? Just little snippets. Do I run the risk of having my story line stolen? Or boring you all to death? Please tell me what you think, if you have a moment, or if you care. Either way, I do resolve to get at least the first draft of this book finished in 2008. There. I said it. In public.

There are three other excerpts of the novel on this blog. You can start with this one (scroll down to the large writing), the next is here, and then this one.

Here is the newest. The Woman has lost her dog, Hope.

The calls were starting to come in. The Woman and Laura and Gayle had made posters with photos of Hope and a large, legible “REWARD” and the Woman’s phone number and had posted them all over the community. They had hit every veterinarian’s office and shelter for miles. They had gotten permission to speak to postal workers, Fed Ex and UPS drivers and supplied all of them with the posters. They had canvassed every convenience store and gas station, and there wasn’t a telephone pole in the county that wasn’t decorated with Hope’s photo and the words “Reward, no questions asked.” And the phone was ringing.
After a few crank calls, one call made the Woman’s heart leap. ”I’m pretty sure I got your dog,” the man’s voice said on the other end. “It’s white and got a spot on its side, and it looks just like the dog on the poster I saw.”
“I’ll be right there, if you could give me directions to your place?” the Woman practically shouted. On the drive there, she called Laura. “Oh my God, Laura, I think I’ve found her. The guy says she looks just like the photo. But I don’t know how she could have gotten there; it’s clear on the other side of town. It’s got to be every bit of twelve or fifteen miles, and it’s kind of a creepy area.”
“Did they say if she were hurt or anything?” asked Laura.
“No, he didn’t say, and I didn’t think to ask. She’s got to be ok. I just can’t wait to hold her in my arms. Hello? Laura? Hello? Damn!” Her cell phone was dead as a smelt. She reached to plug it in to the charger, only to realize that she had left the charger in her husband’s car. Damn and damn.
She saw a rusty mailbox with the number on her directions and pulled into the lane, winding into some scraggly woods, which hid the house. As she rounded a corner in the pocked drive she saw that hiding the house was a good thing. It was a mess. Broken bikes and trash and a rusted tattered swing set decorated the front. The house itself was cinder block, painted white or gray. It was so covered in black and green mildew, she couldn’t tell what color it had once been. There were bushes and landscape plants, but they were obliterated by tall weeds. She fought off a big wave of fear; she would get her dog. She clutched her purse tightly under her arm, picturing the $500 cash reward in her wallet. She wished her cell phone worked.
She looked around for any glimpse of Little Hope, but instead saw a man coming out of the house. A large man. Good God, the guy was a whole mountain. He had to be six foot five, and had a belly that belligerently fought any attempts to cover it, be it by pants or shirt. Suspenders kept the belly from pushing the pants clear down around his knees, but they had to go the long way around, making them look like parentheses.
As the Woman walked from her car to the door, that blimp of a belly seemed to be its own life form. She kept her eyes focused up on the huge man’s eyes, and said, “Hi. You have my dog?”
The tall man forced a smile, but it was evident that smiling politely was not a part of his normal activities of daily living. His cheek muscles twitched with effort. “I’m sure it is. It looks just like that picture. I don’t want to, uh. I mean… I mean wasn’t there a mention of a reward?” The smile wasn’t even a memory when his face hardened. His eyes didn’t contain a speck of kindness and the woman couldn’t wait to get her dog and get out of there. As if to confirm her need to turn away, the man cleared his throat and spit a glob of something that made the woman suppress a gag.
“Yes, I have the reward, but please let me see my dog. I can’t thank you enough. I’ve been so worried. I can’t begin to imagine how she got so far from home. Where is she? I don’t see or hear any dogs at all?”
“I put it in the shed so it wouldn’t get lost again.”
“Oh, that was a good idea. May we go get her?” If the woman had to stand there for another minute talking to this man, she thought she was going to have to spit a glob of something herself.
She followed him around a footpath to the back of the house. She was afraid. She realized that she had placed herself in a ridiculously vulnerable position. She was on a remote property, with a strange man who could sit on her and crush her to death, she had $500 in her purse, and she hadn’t told a living soul where she was headed. She wondered what the hell was wrong with her, and she wondered if this guy had Hope. Certainly if Hope were here, she’d be screaming ah-woos at the sound of the woman’s voice, and there was no sound at all, other than the distant drone of traffic from the Interstate.
“Oh, my husband is coming here, too,” she lied. “He’s probably a couple of minutes behind me.” It sounded just as lame to her as she figured it did to the man-mountain. She saw a shed, outhouse width, but three times deeper, attached to the back of the house. It was weather beaten, and the bottom boards were green/gray with slime. The woman felt her fear morphing into anger and she wanted to get her Little Hope out of there. But she had a bad feeling about the whole deal. Bad.
The large man fiddled with a key in the padlock and then opened the door. He moved his bulk out of the way and grunted, pointing the woman towards the back of the shed. She peered in, letting her eyes adjust and called softly, the universal call of a loving breeder, “Pup, pup, pup!” Even her oldest could not resist that high happy invitation, imprinted as their earliest memory of food, affection, and fun. In the very back of the shed, curled in a corner, looking with wary eyes was a small terrier mix. A male.
“This isn’t my dog. This isn’t even close to my dog. It’s a male and it’s not a whippet.”
“Are you sure? It’s white with brown patches. It looks like your dog to me.”
“It’s a male. I’m missing a female.” She turned to the miserable creature in the corner. “Come here, buddy. It’s OK.” She threw him a little biscuit, which he sniffed and then quietly ate. “Come on, come here. You’re alright, come get another.” The dog crept over, its tail low and it’s body language conveying nothing but fear and submission. She held out another biscuit and he took it gently from her hand. She scratched the side of his neck and then got a hold of his collar.
“He’s got tags. His owner’s phone number is right here!” What a jerk, she thought. A quick look at the little guy convinced her that he was someone’s loved pet. His nails were trimmed, he was in great weight, and his coat, though superficially dirty, was in excellent condition. She was gently stroking him during this assessment and the dog was wagging his docked tail faster, and squirming with delight, pressing his body into her secure arms.
“I need to call his owners,” she said, immediately blushing with her mistake. She did not want this man to know that her cell phone was caput. “Let me put him in my van.”
“Hold on there. Just hold on. Here’s what I think. I think this is your dog. I think you are welching on the reward. You offered a reward, and I have your dog and you aren’t going nowhere with this damn dog until I get the reward.” The man’s eyes looked snaky; no mammalian feeling, just flicking for prey. He absently grabbed at his waistband and futilely tugged at it.
In a fit of absolute inappropriateness, the woman fought an overwhelming urge to giggle. She was reminded of an old Saturday Night Live skit. Chris Farley played a failed motivational speaker, a derisory loser who was constantly hiking up his pants. The effect was to diffuse her fear, and she realized she could outrun this guy with her legs tied together if need be.
“Come over to my van. Let me show you something.”
At her van, she put the little dog in a crate, giving him another biscuit, and grabbed one of her “lost” posters. She showed it to the man.
“See here? Female. See that dog? Male. See this picture? Long legs, pointy nose, stripy spot on the left side of the body, long skinny tail. See that dog? His tail is cut off. This is not my dog. OK?”
The man’s face was purple with anger and he made a rumbling noise.
“I tell you what I’ll do. I’ll take this dog and I’ll get him back to his family. I have your name and phone number and I will strongly suggest that the family thank you for keeping him safe. But, this isn’t your dog and it isn’t my dog and I need to get him home.”
The man said, “Yeah, whatever. Great.” He hefted his bulk back into his house without so much as a glance over his shoulder.
The woman called out, “So nice to meet you, Creephead. Thanks for your help.”

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Be Still

Be still, my little dog, lie near and let me love you.
Your heart and mine, close and quiet in deep calm.
I need this time, this peace, this moment just because you
Share my very soul, you are my prayers and my psalm.

Be well, my little dog, rest easy and recover.
So tired from the struggle in your body with disease.
Sleep tight my little dog, while around you I will hover
Praying deep with all my voice: heal my little dog, oh please.

I love you, little dog, I love everything about you.
I love your quiet, and your wildness, your softness and your might.
You are a great little dog, I've never had a cause to doubt you.
Now, be still my little dog, rest quiet and sleep tight.
(c) P C Renzulli

Friday, December 28, 2007

Elsa Update

What a difference a week makes. Deb and Merle are working miracles with this dog, who is now called Shelby. Her tail just wags, wags, wags and she makes eye contact and uses her ears to convey her joy.

I have to tell you dear readers a little more about these good people, Deb and Merle. They are doing all of this, knowing that they can't keep this dog. They are doing all this while their house is on the market, being shown!!!! Thankfully, their real estate agent is a dog person who totally understands. Can you imagine showing your beautiful home, "Oh and this is our starved-to-death foster dog." So, if you dear readers could think positive thoughts about Shelby finding a forever home...

She loves to retrieve (no big surprise there!) and has learned to

"go get your ball"




"stand patiently while the humans yack"

"give kisses"

She got a dose of Heartguard today. The vet had us give benedryl 50mg a half hour beforehand. I've never had a heart worm positive dog before, so I don't really know what to expect. I know the Heartguard today was simply to lessen the microfilaria load in the bloodstream, and the real heartworm treatment can't start until she's gained ten pounds. (Which will be soon at this rate!)
My experience has been with Whippet Rescue before, and finding a home has meant picking the best fit from a long waiting list. If any of you have ideas to help find a forever home for Shelby, I'm all ears!
hug your hounds

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Radio Interview

Our local NPR station, WKMS, did an interview with me about the "No Christmas Puppies" story which was featured on . I did a terrible job with the interview (not enough coffee) but the station manager (Kate Lochte whose voice you hear asking me the questions) did some very artful editing. Though I did not make some points I wanted to, (and, as always I displayed my big fixation on POOP, good lord) the end product wasn't as bad as it started.
The interview can be heard HERE. It's an MP3 thingy, and my computer uses RealPlayer. It didn't come with any graphics on my monitor, but it worked.

I'll be back with more stories in a bit, but I thought you dear readers might enjoy hearing me bumble through.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas at 'Chateau Cuckoo'

My son came home for Christmas.
I drove to Nashville yesterday to pick him up from the airport. Southwest airlines decided that Jake's suitcase, and one belonging to another passenger on that flight, would be happier flying on the next plane. That plane wouldn't arrive for a few hours. Jake said forget it. He had his laptop in his carry on. He could go to Salvation Army and get some jeans.

It was a last minute decision to come home, but such a welcome one for me, and Bill, and Jake's cousin. I told Jake that we didn't have a tree, and the only decorations in the house are bazillions of wonderful holiday cards with whippets on them. And that we had accepted invitations from neighbors for Christmas dinners, but I was sure he would be warmly included by all our friends. That was fine, he said, he just wanted to come home. He's not had the best year of his life. You might say that everything that could go wrong for him has. Twice. And if you said that you would not be guilty of hyperbole.

So we talked and talked the two and a half hours home from the airport. We stopped and visited with Phyllis and Maddie and gave them their presents. Phyllis had an only son, and had out lived him. I thought she would enjoy a visit with Jake and I knew he would love to meet her.

At our house, the whippets went bonkers over Jake's magical appearance. Their favorite Jake was home! Ah-wooo, woo-woo, wildness and frivolity! Jake stepped back out to get something from the car while I settled the waggle.

When I looked up through the kitchen door onto the breezeway, Jake was standing there with an eleven foot Christmas tree. What was Jake doing with an eleven foot Christmas tree? A Christmas tree? Where did Jake get a Christmas tree?

"Jake. Where did you get that Christmas tree?"

"Someone left it in the alley for you."

My mind raced. The tree even had a string of lights in the uppermost section. The trolley station is on the other side of the alley. Oh my, did Jake help himself to one of their decorations? He wouldn't. But.

"Where in the alley? What do you mean someone left it in the alley?"

"There's an Indian belief, Mom. If you find a hammer, that means that someone left it for you and wanted you to have it. Someone wants us to have this Christmas tree."

"There are no Indians in our alley, Jake!"

"It was in the alley next to your neighbors' trash cans."

I have an over active imagination. Our neighborhood has had a bit of a hubub over a Christmas tree, which looked a lot like this one. One group bought an artificial tree for an official lighting by the Mayor, asking for donations to cover the cost, and only recouped about a third. The tree had lights and some sparse decorations. Some anonymous elves bought beautiful red ornaments and ribbons and strands of beads and decorated the tree under cover of darkness. The neighborhood celebrated this delightful act of generosity. Only someone somehow misunderstood and there was talk of filing charges against the people who "desecrated" the tree. And that was soundly booed as flabberghastorhetoric histrionics, and the neighborhood was very quiet for several weeks, except for people remarking on the lovely decorating job of the public tree.

I imagined that someone had vandalized the scandalized tree and tossed it in our alley and it was now headed for our living room. That there would be a big empty place where the public tree once stood and a familiar looking tree in Casa Renzulli's living room window. And we would be found out and never live down the shame. But no. This was a real tree, and the scandalous one was fake. I called my next door neighbor.

"Hi Michael. Jake is home for a visit. Yes, I'll tell him you said hi. He just showed up with a tree he found in the alley. Oh you are? It is? Are you sure? OK. Thanks. Merry Christmas!"

So, it turned out that Jake was right about the Indians, only it wasn't Native Americans, it was our next door neighbors. They had opened presents in the morning and then Ashly and the kids had already left to visit family in Texas. Michael is a CCU nurse and has to work Christmas day and the next, and then he will join them. He had just taken the tree down and was delighted for us to have it. Now we have a Christmas tree.

The Salvation Army was closed today. So were the consignment shops. Jake did not want to buy new clothes, as he has plenty of clothes. Another neighbor stopped by with a delectable plate of cookies. She heard the story of Jake's lost luggage, and said, "Well, you're exactly the same size as my husband, and we have a pile of clothes to go to the Salvation Army. I'll go get some." She came back with pants and shirts and even a pair of perfect cowboy boots. Jake practically lives in cowboy boots.

I think those Native Americans were pretty smart. Merry Christmas everyone!

Hug your hounds, and yourselves, and each other too.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Chicken for the Miracle Dog

Elsa is thriving under foster parents' Deb and Merle's loving care. The Great Rescue happened on Thursday. On Friday, day two, I went to visit and was greeted with big full tail wags. My niece went with me and sat on the floor, and Elsa sat on her lap. Looking at Deb. Wagging.

We bumped her up to a half a cup of sensitive stomach kibble four times a day, plus the A/D with the Panacur once a day. Her belly looked even skinnier because it was less bloated on Friday; losing the belly worm load. But she looked the tiniest bit less gaunt. Better hydrated. Shoot, she looked alive instead of like the standing dead. We sat and wondered about her past. Elsa took a long, peaceful, deep nap, opening her eyes only if Deb left the room.

Friday evening the phone rang. It was Merle. "We have a new development." My heart sank. Was she having bloody diarrhea all over their lovely house? Was she screaming in pain? Panting uncontrollably from Congestive Heart Failure?

"What is it, Merle?"

"She wants to play. We need some toys for this dog."

Oh my goodness, you are kidding me! "Bill, I'm going to run to my shop and get some toys for Elsa. I'll be right back."

Bill looked incredulous. "The water is almost boiling. You can't go now!" Bill had been given the all clear from his doc, and was celebrating being alive and well and in full control of his faculties by making a new and delicious pasta dish.

"Ok, I'll grab something from here and just run it over to Deb and Merle's and be right back, I swear." I grabbed a hard green squeaky ball which was a little too big for the whippets, and a rolled rawhide, and a large rubber ridged chew. It was all I had which was big enough for her. I jogged down the street with the treasures.

I was met at the door by a beaming Deb, a laughing Merle, and a wagging yellow skeleton dog playing tug with a knotted towel. I threw the squeaky ball and the skeleton dog ran after it and pounced and brought it back just a'squeaking and a'wagging. We all clapped and laughed like big goofs. We were big goofs. Big happy delighted amazed goofs. And it was only day two.

This morning, day three, I called to see how things were. I feared that Elsa had in a moment's boredom, oh, I don't know, eaten their dining room table. No, she had been great. Still some loose to liquid stool, but not frequent. Still not a single accident in the house. She had chewed on the rawhide, and was learning the "out" command with toys. Merle would have her sit, give her the toy, have a kibble ready, tell her "out", and trade the toy for a kibble. A natural at this dog training stuff!

I stopped by this afternoon with a couple more toys. Deb had already been to Petsmart and gotten her a Kong, (perfect!) some training treats and biscuits. I brought a dead rubber chicken. This particular dead rubber chicken has (had) a squeaker and a little bit of stuffie stuffing for disemboweling pleasure. Elsa had at it:

If anyone ever needed an example that Life Is Good, here it is, in living skeletal color! If anyone ever needed an example that people are good, there are Deb and Merle, bringing a dog they can't even keep back from the very brink.

And someone is going to get a great dog.
Hug your hounds!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


We live in a magical neighborhood. In the last five years, people from all over the country have come to this small southern town at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, just up from where they join the Mississippi. Artists. Because the people who live here are the Nicest People in the World. You can read more about that here.

And everyone has dogs. Our neighborhood is full of dogs and people who love them. And some cats, too.

Two days ago, the whippets told me someone was at our front door. We poured downstairs and found our neighbor Kathleen, who loves Buddy, her twelve year old sweetheart of a bully dog. When I opened the door, I saw the trouble on her face.

"Oh, Patience, I just saw a loose dog and she's in bad shape. Bad shape. She's starving. And she's had puppies."

We spent an hour, each in our own car, crawling back and forth through the neighborhood alleys and streets, with no luck. I walked my dogs, keeping an eye peeled: nothing.

Yesterday I saw the dog for myself. She was trotting down the sidewalk on Jefferson, a one way street. I had to go around the block to get to go the right way on Jefferson, and by then she was gone. But what I had seen chilled me. She was beyond emaciated. She was walking skin and bones. And from each side of her mouth hung ropes of drool. Could she be rabid? Could she have some oral abscess? I called Kathleen and told her I had spotted the dog. "Kathleen, I don't think you or I should approach that dog." I told her about the saliva. "I think if we see her again, we should call Animal Control."

Today, my neighbor Deb called. "Patience there is a puppy in Chad's garage. Could I pick you up and come see her?"

"Is she the color of sand and really skinny," I asked?


"Don't approach her, Deb. I think she is seriously sick and she could be dangerous," I warned.

"Oh," said Deb. "Merle and I have already petted her and Chad gave her some food." Hmmm.

"OK, come get me at the side door."

I put my puzzled dogs in their downstairs crates with their biscuits, and put a hat on my scary undone morning writer's hair, and a coat on against the rain. Again this rain. Sweet Deb swung by and drove me the kattycorner half block to Chad's gorgeous property.

And in Chad's garden shed on an old wrought iron lawn chair with a folded cushion, was a dog curled in a tight, I don't care if I live or die ball. It was the most skeletal living dog I'd ever seen, and I do whippet rescue. You couldn't look at her and not have your throat get too tight and you eyes sting. You just couldn't look and not feel a stabbing in your heart and your gut suddenly felt like you shouldn't have had that coffee because it was burning and maybe you needed to excuse yourself and puke. She was that skinny.

Well, I didn't know what to do. I knew if we called Animal Control she wouldn't live through the day, and that might have been a kindness, but I couldn't have survived seeing that pole/loop thing around her neck and her struggling and being heaved in The Truck. Chad came out and said he had given her water and a little bit of puppy food and the second time he did, she followed him to his porch. No, he answered, she hadn't growled, hadn't shown her teeth, hadn't done anything but duck her head out of the way when he tried to pat her. Like she'd been hit before, he said. I dropped a biscuit from my pocket onto her chair.

She swallowed it whole.

Then after all my advice to Kathleen, I stroked the top of her head. Bone. "I think she's a Pit/Lab cross. She could be all Lab, it's so hard to tell in this state, but no, her coat is too short. I think she's a Pit/Lab cross," I said to Deb and Chad, like that meant anything to them. What was I going to do?

"OK, here's the deal. I'll go back to my house and get a crate. If I can get her in the crate, I'll take her to my vet. Bill has been asking what I want for Christmas, and here it is - a big vet bill! If I can't crate her, I think I have to call Animal Control." Head nods all around. Deb drove me back around the corner (well it was raining) and I grabbed a crate, a hot dog, a martingale lead and my check book. And Bill's famous Rendezvous! I didn't want a sick dog in the Whippet Wagon.

I gave the dog a tiny piece of hot dog. She lifted her head but those yellow eyes were empty. I gave her another tiny piece. I dropped a bigger piece in front of her chair and she dripped down off her perch. I placed a piece in the doorway of the Vari Kennel, which she inhaled, and then I threw the rest of the hot dog in the back of the crate. She walked right in, snarfed the meat and lay down in the crate. Didn't blink when I closed the crate door. Didn't blink.

"All righty then. My vet is going to kill me!" But I think I've mentioned on this very blog that I am Blessed with the best vets in the world. "Bring her right in," said Gail. Chad came back out of his house with a wad of cash for the vet visit and the bag of puppy food. He wouldn't take no for an answer. Deb volunteered to come along. The dog didn't make a sound as we drove.

Deb and I carried the crate into the exam room. Ol' Poke 'n Stick, as my whippets call their dear friend and healer, is off on Thursdays, and his associate, Doc Rennie came in the room. Rennie has a smile that makes you feel like you're in a special space, and a heart just full of love and respect for her clients of all walks. She's purely beautiful. "What have you brought me, Patience?"

Rennie opened the crate door, amidst my warnings that I didn't know if the dog was aggressive, or anything about her at all. The good vet spoke to the dog and let her sniff around the exam room. Eventually and with absolutely no struggle or fuss or notice, Rennie had scanned the dog for a microchip (none), had drawn blood for heartworm (positive), had listened to lungs (clear), palpated belly, (full of worms but not full of puppies), checked gums and teeth (very pale and only around two years old), gave her a dose of Panacur in a bowl of A/D while testing her for food aggression (none, and she sat on command), put a kennel leash around her neck to see her reaction (a little worried but fine), and elicited the first feeble wag of the tail. Deb and I for the most part stood uselessly wiping our tears and marvelling at the skill, the gifts, and talent of Rennie the Remarkable.

Oh, Dear Readers, I know this is long for a blog. And I beg your forgiveness, but some stories just have to be told and that's all there is to it.

Deb said she would keep Elsa until we could find her a forever home. (Oh yes, we started calling her Elsa because she looked so much like the lioness in Born Free.) Deb has cats and an understanding husband with a huge big heart. I worried about the cats, beautiful Maine Coon cats. Deb said she could close off the back kitchen. I stopped and got a collar and a leash, my camera, a dog bowl and some food for sensitive stomachs, and a big foam bed. (Recognise your gift, Laurie? Thanks!) We got the collar on Elsa and let her out of the car at Deb's.

The dog was being polite, but still was not connecting at all. As we walked her around a small grassy section, she never acknowledged us, but was searching for things to get under, places of shelter. Then we took her in Deb's kitchen, letting her sniff around, dragging her leash. She drank a ton of water. We heard that tummy rumbling: puppy food from the morning, biscuits and a hot dog, a can of A/D and wormer, and a ton of water. Yah, let's take her out and try again!

Voila! A monstrous big pile of poo! On lead! A miracle! I fingered the whippet sized sandwich ziplock in my coat pocket. "You're going to need bigger than sandwich size, Deb." "We'll get quart sized. Gallon!" she laughed.

And we went back inside. And then there started to be a Change.

Elsa walked up to me, a hint of a wag, and leaned against me accepting my strokes and scratches. Then she walked over to Deb, and lay down next to her, again with a little wag. And her eyes weren't empty. They were coming to life.

I know Deb and her sweet husband Merle have taken on a very sick dog without batting an eye. I know that I am blessed beyond comprehension with the Most Wonderful Veterinary Practice In The World. I know this whole neighborhood will be pulling for Elsa, the way Chad and Kathleen did, without thinking twice.

This was the last picture I took today. What a difference! She started looking at us. Her eyes were no longer empty and dead. Can you see it? She's in there! And I think, from everything I've seen so far, she's a really, really good dog.


[Addendum: the whippets were truly stellar and terribly deprived yesterday. After spending all afternoon in the Great Elsa Caper, I came home, let them out, fed them and took a shower. When I got out of the shower, Bill was in need of his own trip to the human variety of ol' poke and stick, and we spent the evening at the E.R. Bill is FINE. He has some follow up studies to do, and he's going to see his regular doc today. He had his second episode ever of Transient Global Amnesia,
the first being eight years ago. I mention it only because when the E.R. doctor asked Bill who the President was, Bill said, "I don't know but he's a real jerk." That's my Bill!]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Sun Is Shining!

Perspective. It's a good thing.

The food for the hungry program here in my town is not open on Christmas day. But they will need help on Friday, the 21st, delivering food to families. I can do that! So I will.

Last night I got to help a little dog get back to her breeder. She was in a home that did not work out. I was a tiny part of her trip but it felt great. And we got to be helpful in two ways at once. Our very dear friends were going to Nashville yesterday to spend the night and catch their plane (to Mexico, lucky ducks) in the morning. This meant their daughter would have to do the five plus hour round trip. (At two and a half hours, Nashville is our nearest major airport.) So I said hey! I'm driving a dog to Nashville, you are welcome aboard.

Have I mentioned that Bill is a saint? He is. When he heard that I was driving the little dog to Nashville, he announced he was going along. He said, "I couldn't think of a single thing I'd rather do than spend five hours in the car with my wife. Well, I could, but the first one is too expensive, I can't do the second one anymore, and the third is unavailable. Fourth on the list of things I'd like to do isn't bad!" So now, with the added bonus of a two and a half hour visit in the car with our very dear friends, the trip was looking like a fun time.

About an hour before the ETA of the little dog (we were to meet at a gas station out near the Interstate, with the owner calling as she got close) I checked my phone messages. There was a cheerful message from a very elderly friend who lives alone, and I called her back. The phone rang, and made a connection, but the very elderly friend never said "hello". I could hear the TV in the background, but no elderly friend. I kept shouting "Hello" getting more and more concerned. "If you can hear me and you are in trouble just push a number on the phone. I'll come right over."


"I'm going over there," I told Bill. He kindly said he would hang by the phone and wait for the travelling dog's owner to call. My elderly friend lives about fifteen minutes from us. This was worrisome. If she were indeed in trouble, I would have a dog waiting at a gas station, very dear friends needing to make an international flight, and me waiting for Emergency Services. Oh Lord.

As I drove, I hit redial on my cell phone. Busy. But on the third try, when I had only gone a few blocks, my elderly friend cheerfully answered, "Hello, Patience! How are you? The sun shined today, wasn't it so beautiful?" Oh yes indeed it was glorious, I agreed. I turned around, not wanting to embarrass her by telling her what had transpired, and was still talking with her as I came back into our house. I smiled and nodded to Bill, and his warm smile added to my glow of relief. He has yet to meet my elderly friend, and still he cares just as much about her as I do. A saint he is.

We took Delia along for company for the little dog, which made Delia feel Ever So Special! I strapped two crates in the back of Bill's car, as the Whippet Wagon can accommodate nine whippets, but only two humans. We were riding in style. All the style that a white Buick Rendezvous could muster. (For a chuckle, read the first paragraph of that link.) The Vous. It looks a lot like a Gremlin on steroids or like an accidental cross-breeding between the Michelin Man and a Fed Ex truck, but there is tons of room in the back for large pieces of artwork, and on this trip, for two crates and our very dear friends' luggage. Got to love the Vous!

Bill and I picked up the little dog. She was heart-wrenchingly worried and frightened. You just couldn't help but apply the word traumatized. She purely didn't notice when I took her lead from her owner. I cuddled her (also unnoticed) and kissed her sweet head, and told her she was on her way home. Delia was very polite and welcomed her to the Vous. The little dog seemed relieved to see the safety of the crate and curled up and didn't make a sound for the next three hours. Not a peep. I don't even think she moved.

We had such a fun ride. Bill tortured us by saying, "I can't remember the third line of the Davy Crockett song. 'Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, greenest state in the land of the free, dah dah da dah da dah dah dah dee, kilt him a b'ar when he was only three! Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier.' What the heck is that line?" (The answer is: "raised in the woods so he knew ev'ry tree," but we never got it, just kept singing Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier in our brains.) Just about the time when we got the Davy Crockett song out of our heads, Bill said, just out of the blue, "Who'd have thought that Sinatra would have had a hit about a rubber tree plant?" We weren't talking about Sinatra; we weren't even talking about music. I'm still stuck with "Whoops there goes another rubber tree, Whoops there goes another rubber tree, Whoops there goes another rubber tree plant!" We all laughed and laughed.

We dropped off our very dear friends at their hotel, and then at yet another gas station, we met the next person involved with getting the little dog back home. This person was a delight! She brought her beautiful greyhound along for company. I had to pry the little dog out of my crate, which was sad, and we put her in the very nice person's toasty warm van. The greyhound wagged a welcome, and the little dog curled up in yet another safe crate. This very nice person will keep her until Saturday, when the last leg of the journey to her breeder and her home can be made. This very nice person had ANGEL written all over every single beautiful inch of her being.

I will be so happy to hear that the little dog is home. And happy again.

Today, the sun is shining again. The dogs and I will bundle up and go for a walk. I will count my many, many blessings. It is winter, and I am not crazy about the darkness and the cold. But I have so many riches in my life. My husband, the saint. My son who is safe and loved. Bill's daughters and our adorable grandchildren who thrive.

And these nine sterling souls who grace my life. Beautiful, generous, cherished dogs who keep me grounded and humble and grateful and fulfilled. Who bring me to the most treasured friendships.

Perspective. It's a grand thing.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bah Humbug

Poor Bill. Poor dogs. Poor friends and relations. Poor anyone who casually knows me.

Am I the only person alive who will be happy when all this holiday crapola is over? If you are a person who loves all things Christmas or Hanukkah or Solstice or whatever, you just go right on to your next blog and have a wonderful, blessed, happy winter. Please. Read no farther. You've been warned. But if this time of year makes you yearn for July, this is the place for you. I do understand.

OK, let me back up a bit. It's raining. It's been raining for three weeks, I swear. All day every day. All night every night. Actually what I hear on the bedroom window right now sounds more like sleet. Yup. Definitely sleet. So we've now gone from three weeks of constant hard rain to the only thing better: frozen rain. Oh glee.

The dogs are bored out of their collective gourds. And the only thing they hate worse than cold or rainy weather is cold and rainy weather. But they are, unlike their grouchy Servant, penultimate optimists. They ask to go out with eager anticipation that I've fixed the weather situation. They fly through the door like those little individual fighter plains that Luke Skywalker piloted: zoom, swhoosh, nyarrom. Only to skid to a disgusted, disappointed, united halt at the breezeway steps when they see the rain. Again. Nope, they were mistaken, they don't have to go out, after all. Until five minutes later when they think, "Hey! Maybe she's warmed it up and dried it out. Let's go see! Let us out, let us out, let us out!" I open the door, they swoop out. They turn around mid-swoop and slink back in. Yuck.

Forget walks. It is just way too cold and it's pouring. Forget it.

Ok, so that's on top of not such a great holiday childhood. From the minute I could speak, I wanted a horse. I mean I lived for a horse. Every Christmas list consisted of (1) horse, (2) dog. And that was it. No number three. (When I was eleven, I think I put a Barbie as number three, to my poor mother's relief, but then I tried to iron her hair which melted into a horrifyingly putrid blob on my poor mother's iron.) And my father was not such a happy soul. We have ten or so years of home movies. Three excited little girls, dressed to near immobilization in snow suits, sporting scarves, hats, and mittens knitted by the woman holding the camera. Off the family trudges up the Berkshire Mountains behind their house. You see the tree being chopped and sawed, but the actual felling always eluded my poor mother. You see the tree lying on the snow. Then the camera captures the three little girls being stabbed by pine needles as they struggle to help carry the thing back down the mountain through the knee deep snow. The father has managed to belittle each one of us in such a special, stinging, particular way that all three of the little girls are privately crying. Our mother makes us hot chocolate and tells us to hush while our father chops off a couple of feet and then a couple more from the bottom of the way too tall tree, just boiling in an anger stew. (We had suggested that perhaps the tree was too big, and we had been made fun of, and had been made to feel stupid and worthless. Being right didn't help a bit, what with all that stupidity and worthlessness weighing us down. Plus, being right created a whole new subset of anger.) Then we got to decorate it. Unless you were my father, you couldn't put a decoration in a right place. ("No, no, no not there.") And my sister always managed to drop a fragile ornament which always broke and always resulted in such disgust from my father. Tsking and sighing, and what's-wrong-with-you. (Gee, I don't know do you think it could have been the slight case of Cerebral Palsy? Just a guess here.) And then we all started crying again, ran up to our rooms, and my mother finished decorating the tree.

And, no matter how hard I tried, and Lord knows I tried, I couldn't make my own son's Christmas much better than mine had been. All he wanted was to be important to his biological father. I bought him way too many presents, and he knew how much Bill - thank God for Bill - and I loved him. But he wanted to be valued by his dad, who could value nothing but himself.

And while we're on the subject of Fathers and Sons. The Christmas story is supposed to be so sweet and lovely, but to me it's not so much. Mary has to give birth to her first child in a cold barn. No midwife, no women relatives helping, no epidural or I.V. Demerol. Just days of exhausting travel on a donkey at full term due to some tax law, followed by being in labor during a panicky but futile search for a hotel. An then, after raising her treasured Son, whom she has been told is Pretty Special, she gets to sit and watch him take three days to die of crucifixion. Probably not what she had in mind when the angels told her he was the King Of Kings. As a mother, I just cannot get my heart around the immensity of that horror. And as a Father, could God have not planned something just a wee bit more loving for his only Son?

So here I am. Kids are grown. Grandkids are far away. And I am old enough to feel like I don't have to pretend any more. I've decided I don't like the whole holiday thing. I am dismal at present getting. I can't plan ahead worth beans. And if I do find a perfect gift in June, I give it in June. When I do the dreaded Christmas shopping, I spend literal hours on each person, stressing over just the perfect gift, and then spend too much. While I'm wrapping the thing, I realise it is the most colossally inane bit of idiocy, and I just know that the recipient will hate it. Not just hate it but be offended by the lack of forethought, by how stupid a gift it is. I wrap the thing, but I just want to cry. And go away.

The only decorations in the house are the scores of festive cards. Almost every card has a whippet photograph. Every card makes me feel so guilty because I haven't carved the time to make and send my cards. Great.

Did I mention it's been raining forever?

We woke this morning to a dusting of snow. The old dogs are not impressed. But the two youngest are ecstatic. They are silly and zoomy and so thrilled not to be rained on. They are running too fast to notice the biting cold wind. They make me smile, despite my ludicrous self. We are the last stop tonight of a progressive dinner for around sixteen of our friends. Dessert - my weakest culinary link - and another Dirty Santa gift exchange. I hope this is the one where we're supposed to do gag gifts, because I'm doing the old poop calendar one more time. Only this time instead of the poop candle, it's a quarter pound of chocolate in the shape of a poo. I have another gift wrapped up just in case... If the rest of the diners do not put gag gifts under that tree, I'm you betcha hiding the poo calendar and chocolate poo and replacing them with the nice gift. Oh only there isn't any tree at our house. We're going to hang a wreath on the coat closet door and put the gifts under that. Deck the halls.

This house was on the Christmas tour the first couple of years we lived here. Open to the public who had bought tickets with the proceeds going to charity. Decorated to the gills. I bet our friends coming tonight are expecting holly and tinsel. I hope the smell of the freshly baked pies and gourmet coffee will distract them. (Who am I kidding? I stink at pies!)

So there it is. I hope I've made you feel better by realizing you are not the only one who feels like this. I'm going to start baking and cleaning. I know tonight will be fun, and I know that July will indeed come again. I think that this year on Christmas day, I'm going to go to the homeless shelter and help serve meals. See, this big ranting entry brought me right to that very wonderful decision and now I'm feeling much better about the whole holiday thing.

Maybe I'll dig out a decoration or two after all.

Hug your hounds.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I was so excited to be asked to write a story for our local most wonderful community events website. It is a wonderful wonderful wonderful site, the brainchild of two great gals who send out a weekly email directing everyone to the site to see what is going on in Western Kentucky, attracting folks from all over the region, including eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and Indiana, and western Tennessee. They have over 4000 subscribers and even more viewers. So I was beyond thrilled to get the chance to educate folks on the bad idea of puppies as Christmas presents, and the horrors of puppy mills.

In this endeavor, I asked you, dear readers, to supply me with photographic documentation of doggy disasters, and you, dear readers came through! I had chosen this shot ("Welcome Home!") for the feature image, as I'm sure you'll agree it is just wonderful:

And here are the rest of the "winners":

(Such helpful dogs to charm us with their collective creativity.)

Imagine my dismay when I jumped on my computer this morning, full of such excitement I could hardly stand myself, only to find my nightmare come to life. Instead of my photo of canine catastrophe, there, big as life was a photo of a darling little maltipoo, sitting vacantly under a Christmas tree, sporting a Santa hat and coat.

The very, exact image I was striving to erase from the puppy-buying public's consciousness.


My eyeballs flew out of their bloody sockets and landed on my keyboard. My heart just stopped beating entirely, exploded out of my chest, and plopped into my oatmeal with a thud. Great chunks of my hair fell out in my fists. I fainted. I wailed. I imagined iList readers, clicking on the headline, seeing the maltipoo and thinking, "Oh yeah! Great idea! I can get the kids a puppy for Christmas! Maybe I can find one on the Internet."


I had to do something.

Did I mention that the iList owners/creators are just the most wonderful, smart, kind, fantastic saints on the whole of the Earth? I fired off an email thanking them for running the story and begging them to please, please, please change that image! And within seconds, not only was the Christmas tree puppy gone, it was indeed replaced by the Definition of Doggy Destruction. And they even took down the adorable photo of the doodle puppies they had put at the end of the article.

Saints, they are absolute Saints, I tell you.

Oh, if you want to read the article, it is HERE. I am going to walk my dogs in the rain and pick up poop.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Christmas Party

The folks who do agility in my Kennel Club get together for some holiday cheer, and since this was my first year ever to enter an agility trial, they kindly invited me.

We met at a restaurant just down the street from my house, The Pork Peddler. It is a very popular “home-style” type of eatery with a huge buffet of southern delectables. I had skipped lunch in eager anticipation.

I should never be allowed at an “all you can eat” buffet. I have no restraint. Oh, I eat the salad to be healthy. The salad with the huge chunks of real, sugar cured bacon, and the thick goopy salad dressing, and a little lettuce. Then there was the southern food: “cooked down” green beans (more bacon, or ham hocks or something yummy), buttermilk biscuits, corn (sweetened and buttered) collard greens and more bacon and lard for flavor, mashed potatoes with home style gravy, deep fried okra, ham, turkey, dressing, barbequed pork and ribs. And then seconds because I hadn’t noticed the corn on the first round and I needed more cranberry for my turkey and then I needed more turkey and dressing for the cranberry. And then, while I was on a roll: dessert. Bread pudding with thick vanilla sauce, coconut cream pie, pecan pie, cherry cobbler and some other stuff that I can’t remember because I was in a sugar and fat induced ketoacidotic stupor.

Then we loaded up and headed to club member Cathy’s house for more merriment and a gift exchange. They play “Dirty Santa” which isn’t what it sounds like – no thongs for Mrs. Claus, much to my prudish relief. Everyone who wants to play brings a wrapped gift, and then each gift giver picks a number out of a hat. The picker of number one picks a gift and opens it. Number two may either steal number one’s gift, or open another one. If number seven steals number two’s gift, then number two can steal anyone else’s or open a new one. It’s really fun!

There was one problem. I got this party confused with another party, and I thought we were supposed to bring gag gifts. Now, dear readers, I ask you to put yourself in my unenviable place for a moment. I’m the only new face at the party. I have eaten approximately four pounds, six ounces more fat-and-sugar-laden food than my stomach could hold in my wildest dreams. People are opening artfully gift-wrapped presents and they are plush dog beds, luscious blankets, and gorgeous leashes with agility motifs. The gag present I brought, wrapped in black tissue paper, is still under the tree. My stomach started to churn.

It was my turn. Beginner’s luck, I had drawn a high number, third from last. I had little beads of sweat forming on my upper lip, though I was chilled to the bone. Cold sweat. What to do? I couldn’t think. My stomach was making alarming acrobatic tumbles. My dufus present was still under the tree. Maybe it would never be opened and no one would ever know. I wanted to be part of the gang, to play along, oh my God my gut, I can’t think. In a panic, I did what the last three players had done; I stole the biggest, most cushy dog bed. Well, it did match my dining room décor perfectly. The moment I sat back down, I realized my mistake. I should have picked my own lame present and refused to open it. Oh rats and rats, why hadn’t I thought of that in time?

The last person just happened to be a very kind person who has been so supportive and helpful to me. Please, oh please take this cushy dog bed from me! Please don’t take my lame-o gag gift from under the tree. The last gift to choose, thus ending the game and leaving you, kind person who has helped me so much, with my lame-o stink-o gag gift. Oh my stomach!

But this is a kind, polite, earnest person. She would not steal someone else’s lovely gift. No, with a trusting, sweet smile, she takes my gift from under the tree. I wanted to crawl under my beautifully upholstered antique Queen Ann’s chair and hurl barbeque and bread pudding all over myself. Instead, I blurted out, “I was confused! I thought we were supposed to bring gag gifts!” and then, I started to laugh hysterically.

This person is so nice, so dear, that after she opened the candle which looks just like life sized dog poo, she said, “Oh!” and then when she opened the calendar which has full color images of dog poo on every page, she said, “Well, I need a calendar! Oh my. Dog poop? Oh my!”

I gave her back the gorgeous chenille throw which I had dirtily stolen from her (I left that part out, too shamed to include it). My dear, kind friends returned the plush bed which they had stolen from me and took the poop candle and calendar, presumably for the Kennel Club Christmas Party Fund Raising Auction tomorrow night.

I will be bidding on the poo items at the auction. If I have to donate my whole Christmas budget to the good of the Kennel Club, I will do that. But that dog poop calendar and that dog poop candle is coming home with me.

Important but horribly scary news

Lead and arsenic in dog toys. Lots.

To see the News Story click HERE.

It is a Fox (Faux) story, but it looks credible, and if there's lead in Matel toys, why wouldn't there be lead in our dogs' toys.

Maybe it's best to go back to old socks tied in knots for our toys. (Says the woman who owns the doggy gift store. Sigh.)

Keep your hounds safe.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Rescuer's Question: How?

This is for Ruby the Greyhound's Rescuer at the Lurchers' blog. Ruby is going to her forever home tomorrow.

It was first published in my book, Mama Pajama Tells A Story, 2nd edition

© 2007 Patience C Renzulli and I gave myself permission to reprint it here.


How do I tell this little dog that the love she gave me will be forever treasured?

How do I thank this little dog for teaching me lessons in cheerfulness and optimism despite having been treated so badly by people in her past?

How have I fallen so in love with this brave good soul in just six short weeks?

How, oh how do I reassure her? She has given so freely of her love from the first moment, but her trust, that has been much slower, and is just starting to emerge. And here, as she starts to trust me, I will disappear from her life.

How do I tell this little dog, as I place her in a stranger's arms, that I have done everything in my power to make sure that this home is the absolute best possible for her. Better than my own arms.

That she will be treasured, protected, loved. That this home is everything I prayed for, and even more.

How do I turn away from her questioning eyes? Those deep, loving eyes that won't understand how I could be leaving her with strangers?

She's been through so much...

How do I tell her thank you?

How do I tell her goodbye?

© 2007 Patience C Renzulli, all rights reserved
illustration © William F Renzulli, all rights reserved

Friday, December 7, 2007

All Before Nine in the Morning

I woke up this morning from an odd dream. It had to do with giving birth, and in it, Bill said, "Patience, if you just let go, I think it will come right out." Made me think about the trouble I'm having with my novel. In my dream I didn't "know nuthin' about birthin' no baby," and in real life I don't know nuthin' 'bout writin' no novel, but perhaps if I just let go, it will come right out. Even in my dreams, Bill is so wise.

We ate our yummy organic non-instant oatmeal with real maple syrup and started right in on walking the waggle. Very Old Dog has been having a bit of trouble lately. The ligaments in one of his toes on his right front foot just gave up working at all last week. So this one toe is flat instead of arched like its neighbors. And it hurts. I've been giving him some Trammadol, and wrapping his foot in Vetrap, and that has helped a lot. We've been able to do our usual walk that way, around just one block with the Lady Maria.

This morning, after I wrapped his foot and put on his coat, Very Old Dog went into a crate and wouldn't come out. (He doesn't even have a crate; he has a special bed, so he got in Maria's.) He just looked at me with one ear kattywonkus and his worry wrinkles had sprouted on his forehead. For all of his thirteen and a half years, there was not a dog in the house more enthusiastic about going "walkies." Back at the farm, he would leap straight off all fours like a pogo sticking cartoon character as we headed off. We walked miles in the farm fields on lead and off, chasing deer and fox, squirrels and groundhogs, cottontails and the wind. And for the last five years we've walked all over this southern city, never shedding the leads, but losing none of the enthusiasm. Trading sunsets for river views, fields for sidewalks, deer for Stupid City Squirrels, fox for admiring strangers. Even two weeks ago, he was trying to pogo stick at the sight of an Evil Kitty, which is how he injured his toe.

But this morning, he went in that crate, and he made it clear that he did not want to go. So I told him it was fine and gave him his biscuit with the rest of the dogs waiting their turns to walk, and Maria and I headed out alone. I was crying a little bit.

We got to the next corner and Maria and I got attacked by the Evilest Evil Kitty of Them All. It's our new neighbor's cat, and I'm sure he is a wonderful companion. He is certainly quite the Character. He goes on walks with their dogs (though he's loose), and he spends a lot of time outside Stalking the Neighborhood. We heard a great commotion in the leaves to our left, and turned to see the Evilest Evil Kitty of Them All charging full speed at Maria and me. Yikes. At the last second, he charged up a tree right next to us, stopped on the first branch and blew a big raspberry right at the stupefied Maria. If a dog could stand with her jaw down around her ankles, Maria did. She looked up at me with big eyes.

I gave her a yummy for having not barked and we proceeded. We went about ten steps when I saw a very large, loose dog come around the corner of the next house. My heart jumped. Maria would be so vulnerable. Oh, thank God, it was our sweet neighbor Woody. Woody looks like he is maybe a Rottweiler/German Shepherd cross and is just the most wonderful guy. He belongs to our friends, Keyth and Elaine, and they take the very best care of him. They walk him miles and miles and pick up his poop and he's always beautifully groomed and he is loved and socialized and oh my good Lord, what a relief it was Woody. I called him and he came up grinning and got a treat and we headed back to his house. I knew Keyth and Elaine would be frantic that he had gone AWOL.

I rang the doorbell at Woody's house. Now, I must describe my typical morning walkies appearance. I am not a morning person. I usually get up, eat breakfast, and start to walk. Then comes the showering, getting dressed in real clothes, brushing teeth, putting on make up, doing hair part of the day. So I can look a little scary when I walk, but my neighbors are a tolerant bunch, and they're used to me.

I rang the doorbell again, somewhat urgently. Woody had run around to the back of the house, presumably to the site of his escape, but I couldn't see him. Luckily, I didn't see Keyth coming down the stairs, as the door surprisingly opened. OH! Oh, dear! Oh my!

My father had wanted to name me Prudence, but my mother prevailed. Something must have stuck, because I really am a prude.

I had rousted Keyth out of his shower. Keyth grew up in California. I don't know why I mention it here, but it seems important. He was holding a towel in front of his wet unadorned self. I don't know anything that was going on below his bare, nekked shoulders, because my eyes never went below shoulder level.

"Woody's loose!" I blurted, my eyes fixed firmly on Keyth's face.
"Oh, OK, wow, thanks," said Keyth. I don't know which sight was more scary. My morning walkies appearance, or Keyth's birthday suit. I did not see him turn around (thank God in heaven) because Maria and I were already scurrying down the sidewalk, back on our merry way.

Well, after that, the rest of the dogs' walks were just tame. Never mind the eight Stupid City Squirrellies during Fat Charlie, Mama Pajama, and Swede William's walk. "Oh, that's nothing!" I said to them. Puhff. And the bus full of high school students touring the galleries who thought it was clever to bark at Sam I Am and Lindy Loo? Forget about it. I just waved at the kids, delighted that they were fully clothed. "Oh yeah, no one has ever barked at a dog before. You're so original and clever, even the dogs aren't impressed. Have a great day!" I said under my grateful breath.

Very Old Dog did not lobby to go on any of the walks, so I was confident that I had understood his wishes. I gave him an extra treat, and he is now on my lap as I type. Such a huge change in our lives.

All before nine in the morning.
Hug your hounds!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Dog's Christmas

My dear canine friends, I've a story for you.
I beg you to listen: what I say is all true.
Your Humans are human and can't help their behavior,
They get all confused 'bout the birth of their Savior.

See, it's that time of the year, when the humans are hopping.
"No time for our walk today, gotta go shopping.
And tomorrow we have to put up all the lights.
You understand, don't you? You'll be all right?"

No time for your Frisbee, no time to throw balls.
Got to wrap all the boxes and deck all the halls.
"I'm sorry," they say as you're back in your crate,
"Office party tonight, we won't get home til late."

So you sit in your crate for a very long time.
You're warm and you're safe and they know you'll be fine.
But you're bored and you're worried and you don't understand
Why this time of the year things get all out of hand.

As if rushing around like a nut's not enough,
They keep filling the house up with all kinds of stuff.
There's holly and candles for all to see,
Then to prove they've gone starkers THEY BRING IN A TREE!!!

Yep, fellow dogs, they bring a pine tree right in
They put glass things on the branches and plug the lights in.
You think "Hey! Indoor plumbing!" But they say, "Get away!!"
"This is Our Special Tree for Our Special Day."

And don't think for a moment those tree balls are for you.
Though they bounce on the branches and call you, they do!
You haven't been chasing your own ball for weeks,
Or played tug o' war with your toy that goes "squeak."

As their Big Day approaches, their tempers grow short.
They're tired and stressed out and all out of sorts.
They've spent way too much money, whatever that is.
On gifts, decorations, and on something called "status."

See, they're only humans, and they always forget
It's not about presents or getting in debt.
The Birthday they're celebrating is all about Love
About gifts of the Spirit, sent from up above.

And that same great Father who sent them his Son
To teach all the humans to love every one,
Sends us to remind them, my good fellow hounds:
We exemplify love with positively no bounds.

So when their Big Day is ending, their presents unwrapped,
And they've eaten their feast and settled down for a nap,
That's the time when we dogs can show by example
That it's just about love, and can give them a sample.

They will feel something’s lacking, will see something's missing.
This is the time you can teach with your kissing.
They've ignored you for weeks with their rushing around,
Still you shower them with Love - the True Love of a Hound.

Whisper quiet, Dear Dogs, "It is not about Things!"
"It's not about buying new cars or rings."
The True Gift of Christmas is Love, sweet and pure.
And at Love, none can out do a dog, that’s for sure.

copyright 2006 Patience C Renzulli, not 2206! duh.
thank goodness the dogs love me anyway.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Page From the Novel

I have posted two other excerpts - isn't that just the strangest looking word - from the novel in progress. One is at the bottom of this page and the other is here.

The man let the broken screen door slam behind him, making the boy look up from his homework with concern. He could see the temper rising off his father like dust from old tires on a dry dirt road.

“You git off your lazy butt and git out to that shed and you clean every cage. I’m so tired of your worthless ass sittin’ here doing nothin’. You’re old enough to start earnin’ your keep. Just ‘cause you go to that fancy school and git on computers and read your books, you act like you know everything. Let’s see how damn smart you are after you do some real work. Go on. I’m sick and tired of lookin’ at you. I am so damn tired to my bones.”

The boy looked into his father’s eyes and said, “Yessir” as he closed his math book, keeping his place with his homework page. His heart fairly leaped out of his chest. He couldn’t believe this explosion of good luck. Any time he was caught anywhere near the dogs he got a whipping from his father. He got a cursing for making the dogs “soft”. “They ain’t pets,” the man would spit. “They’re investments. They’re dinner and electric bills and the goddam roof over our heads. You go out there spoiling them and they don’t have no puppies and I don’t have no way to pay the mortgage, and we’re on the street.”

He had no earthly idea what had caused this abrupt turnaround on his father’s part, but he was thrilled at the notion of being sent out to take care of the dogs. He had been sneaking out to the shed all his life, and here he was following an order to do what he loved most. He walked the rutted path through the desolate back yard quickly, quietly praying that he wouldn’t hear the screen door slam again with his father’s mind changing faster than the whip hitting his bare butt.

By habit, he slid through the smallest possible crack in the old shed doors. The odor smacked him silly, as it always did, but this time he could do something about it. He turned back and opened the door, hanging heavily askew on its rusty hinges. Some of the stink went out and some light came in. He had never dared take the time to count before, but now he quickly counted cages and dogs. Ten cages on the bottom back row, each with three to five dogs. Five on each bottom side row, mostly with three dogs. Standing alone in the center of the shed were stacks of three larger cages, three tall, each with a bitch nursing a litter of puppies. His eyes returned to the back of the shed. Stacked on the bottom row was another row of twelve crates, though these held two to three dogs each. Six more were stacked on each side row, with three perched on the top of those. And on the top of the back cages were five small rusted cages, each containing a male dog.

There were one hundred and five dogs in that shed, not counting the nine litters of puppies.

The boy was overwhelmed for a moment. He couldn’t believe there were that many dogs and he just didn’t know where he would start.

Please! I’m so thirsty. We’re hungry! Please! Water! Pain. Oh, Boy, please help us.

The voices were so loud in his heart, in his head, for just a moment he covered his ears.

"You know what to do. You are here and you know and some of us are dying."

That one clear voice gave him courage and jolted him out of his shock. He nodded at the little whippet, his “Angel” and he got to work. First the water buckets. He opened cages and grabbed buckets as fast as he could. He scrubbed the buckets in the work sink, using burning hot water and bleach and an old scrub brush he found in a corner. He filled them with fresh cold clean water and put them back in the cages. And he moved to the next row.

After all the dogs had fresh water, he started to work on the food bowls. Some were crusted with old food full of maggots, and the boy wretched every so often. But he shook his head and breathed through his mouth and kept on. He washed all of them out first, scrubbing until his fingers started to crack and bleed, oblivious. He was frantically aware of how fast the time was passing. When he looked in the food bin, the kibble was moldy, and the boy swore under his breath. The dogs, who were finding their voices and a little strength and a tiny feeling of hope after drinking the fresh water started barking, crying, screaming for food. It was contagious.

“Quiet! ”shouted the boy. “He’s going to come out here. Please, please try to be quiet. I am going as fast as I can.”

The barks and screams turned to shuddering whines. The boy ran out to his father’s truck and found a new bag of kibble in the back. He dragged it back to the shed, though it practically outweighed him, tore it open and started filling the beat up but clean bowls. He loaded as many bowls as he could carry and went from cage to cage. Some of the cages were so cramped with dogs that he couldn’t figure out where to put the bowl. Some of the dogs couldn’t stand, didn’t even try. Some of them looked away from the bowl.

This upset the boy terribly. But he put a food bowl in every single cage. Then he went back to the dogs who weren’t even trying to eat. He added a little water to the kibble to see if that would help. It did, in a few cases. He held some kibble in his hand for some of the weaker dogs, and they took a bit, to be polite.

He went to the whippet’s cage. She had emptied her water bucket. He raced to the utility sink and filled it again, physically hurting from knowing how little time remained for him to be out there. He put her water bucket back in the cage. She tried to wag for him. This was a dear soul, she knew. The boy gently stroked the top of the little dog’s head.

“You gotta eat, girl. You’re nothing but skin and bones and sores. Oh, man, look at those sores. Here - try just a bite of food.”

The dog ate some kibble and her eyes never left his. She drank in his kindness with even more desperation than she had the water. Her infected teeth caused her just amazing pain with every chew, but she could taste the boy’s joy with each bite, so she took bite after stabbing bite.

“I knew you could eat something,” the boy said with a grin. The pinched face of the dog and the thin face of the boy were only inches apart. For a moment, oblivious of the stench, the sores, and the filth, the boy leaned his forehead against the dog’s forehead. Her heart pounded with such abandon, she felt her ribs could no longer hold the thing. Surely it would escape her broken body and run some butt tucked zoomies, and land right in the boy’s chest. Her sunken eyes widened and she managed some wags which were so successful that her tail actually thumped the side of her cage. The boy felt his throat tighten and his eyes stung with desperate tears, and he kissed the little bony dog.

“I got to go. I’ll come back. I’ll make you get well.” He looked at all the other eyes. “I’ll try and I’ll make it ok for all of you. I sure don’t know how, but I will.”

He kicked the dirt in a rage of exhausted frustration as he crossed back to the house. What could he do? He was sure that if he only had a mother, there would not be a hundred starving dogs in a shed behind his house. He stopped with his hand on the screen door. Other boys had mothers. Other boys had dogs that played ball and slept on their beds. Other boys had fathers that came to school programs and put their arms over their sons' shoulders and beamed with pride. Other boys.

The boy wiped his eyes and nose on his sleeve and crept by the snoring form of the man, his father. He quietly took his math book to bed, but he fell asleep before his homework was finished. He ached. In his heart, in his bones. Too much for a boy. He dreamed of a soft hand on his cheek and he and the little whippet were running and he heard a lady laughing.

copyright Patience C Renzulli, all rights reserved

Monday, December 3, 2007

I've Been Tagged - 5 Random Facts

Rules:Link to the tagger and post these rules on your blog. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Oh this is fun! This is one of those blog things that I am slowly discovering.

Linda, at her most delightful Abby Creek Art blog "tagged" me. Here goes:
  1. I went on my first date with my husband twenty-five years ago. I knew in my deepest soul/heart/gut that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him during the first hour of that first date. After twenty-five years, I still think he is the most admirable, the funniest, the most compassionate, and the smartest person on Earth. I don't know how I got so lucky. I figure he must have been really bad in his last life, or I must have been really good.
  2. I would rather pick up warm dog poop than cold when using the Baggie Method, but vice versa when using the Scooper.
  3. I am currently writing a novel about a little dog who has exceptional powers of communication. She starts out in a wonderful, loving home and goes on all sorts of fun adventures but then she gets stolen and ends up in a puppy mill. Sometimes that part is so hard to write, and the research is so gruesome that I just have to stop.
  4. It is 11:21 AM and I am still in my jammies!
  5. I talk in my sleep.

Hope I haven't bored you to death. Now I get to do some tagging. Hmmmm. OK, I'm going to tag my funny neighbor, Aynex, and the awesome genius of iList Paducah, Mary, and of course my dearest in the world Bill, and my new dog blog friends Graham, and Asta's Mommi who might tell us a little about her painting???

Thanks, Linda!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Some Sunday Smiles

While I work on my little one person campaign to get Google to stop advertising for puppy mills, I have some smiles to share.

Have a Seat!

Lindy Loo makes herself comfy.

Swede William says, "Do I look like a dog bed?"

More Maria

This time of year, Maria likes to wear her jammies 24/7. (We get our jammies from Cottage Hound Designs. Christel is the nicest lady and does a ton for charity.) But Her Ladyship also likes to be covered up. The cover-upper blankets are mostly polar fleece, and the jammies are softest cotton flannel, and they stick to each other like velcro.

So this morning we hear this strange flump-step, flump-pause, step-step, flump. Puzzled, I look up from my computer at the rest of the waggle, to find them looking towards the stairway. I step out of my computer/sewing closet and this is what I see:

She's like the Sweat Pea character in the old Popeye cartoons.

That's better! All tucked in her special hidey bed.

A friend surprised me with this fun picture of Maria and me having a howl together:

Thank you Tim for this photo!

I hope your Sunday is full of smiles.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Some good news and a worthy cause!

Permission is granted to post and cross-post the text of our press release below.

From: Kris L. Christine
Founder, Co-Trustee
The Rabies Challenge Fund


One of the most important vaccine research studies in veterinary medicine is underway at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison. Dr. Ronald Schultz, a leading authority on veterinary vaccines and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences, has begun concurrent 5 and 7 year challenge studies to determine the long-term duration of immunity of the canine rabies vaccine, with the goal of extending the state-mandated interval for boosters. These will be the first long-term challenge studies on the canine rabies vaccine to be published in the United States.

Dr. Schultz comments that: "We are all very excited to start this study that will hopefully demonstrate that rabies vaccines can provide a minimum of 7 years of immunity."

This research is being financed by The Rabies Challenge Fund, a charitable trust founded by pet vaccine disclosure advocate Kris L. Christine of Maine, who serves as Co-Trustee with world-renowned veterinary research scientist and practicing clinician, Dr. W. Jean Dodds of Hemopet in California. The Rabies Challenge Fund recently met its goal of $177,000 to fund the studies’ first year budget with contributions from dog owners, canine groups, trainers, veterinarians, and small businesses. Annual budget goals of $150,000 for the studies must be met in the future.

Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM states: "This is the first time in my 43 years of involvement in veterinary issues that what started as a grass-roots effort to change an outmoded regulation affecting animals will be addressed scientifically by an acknowledged expert to benefit all canines in the future."

Scientific data published in 1992 by Michel Aubert and his research team demonstrated that dogs were immune to a rabies challenge 5 years after vaccination, while Dr. Schultz’s serological studies documented antibody titer counts at levels known to confer immunity to rabies 7 years post-vaccination. This data strongly suggests that state laws requiring annual or triennial rabies boosters for dogs are redundant. Because the rabies vaccine is the most potent of the veterinary vaccines and associated with significant adverse reactions, it should not be given more often than is necessary to maintain immunity. Adverse reactions such autoimmune diseases affecting the thyroid, joints, blood, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system; anaphylactic shock; aggression; seizures; epilepsy; and fibrosarcomas at injection sites are linked to rabies vaccinations.

Study co-trustee Kris Christine adds: “Because the USDA does not require vaccine manufacturers to provide long-term duration of immunity studies documenting maximum effectiveness when licensing their products, concerned dog owners have contributed the money to fund this research themselves. We want to ensure that rabies immunization laws are based upon independent, long-term scientific data.”

More information and regular updates on The Rabies Challenge Fund and the concurrent 5 and 7 year challenge studies it is financing can be found at the fund’s website designed by volunteer Andrea Brin at: