Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Birthday Present and I Am Challenged

My wonderful and generous friend and neighbor, Karen, gave Maria a birthday present. She would have given it to Maria on the night of Maria's birthday party if I had remembered that I was supposed to call Karen and Steve and tell them that the party was on. Or, at least if I had remembered to call them before they ate dinner.
Luckily Karen is the forgiving sort and look what she found for Maria:

It's the Three Dog Bakery cook book!

Then in the mean time, I was given a creative challenge by the MOST creative person in the universe. And that is my friend and neighbor, Aynex. (Pronounced "Eye necks")

Here is her challenge:
  • I'm challenging bloggers to make something, anything, and post about it. Let's see what you creative people come up with! Here are the rules:

  • 1. Make something, anything. It doesn't have to be complicated or artsy. Make a list, take an interesting picture, make some one's day, make dinner, make a doodle, make fun of yourself, make a poem, make your bed (OK, that last one is lame).

  • 2. Write a blog about it. With pictures for extra brownie points.

  • 3. Link to this blog and challenge six other bloggers to do the same.

Why, Aynex, why???? What horrible thing did I do to you to make you be so mean to me? (Just because the whippets hurl insults and death threats at your cat?) And then, and then dear readers, it went from bad to worse. One of the other people Aynex challenged, Bizzy, answered the challenge by creating (from scratch) her own bath fizzy. Oh dear, here it is:
I do not have her permission to put that photo here and I do not care. Anyone that creative and clever deserves whatever.

I slumped farther into my dark lack-o-Martha-Stewart-itis abyss.

I needed to create something that was not only Aynex-worthy, but it had to be about dogs to be allowed on my blog, and Bizzy had set the bar just so stinking high. A home made bath fizzy? With its own home grown lavender packaging? Puh-lease.

I would not let Aynex down. I wracked - wrecked - my brain. I couldn't write a story or a poem, that's what I do.

OK. I made a belly band. It is my very own made up pattern, with strategically placed, washable swimwear grade elastic for better comfort and stay-put-ability. Could the fabric, and soft matching flannel lining, be much more adorable?

See? It's a clever thing to wrap around your dog's winky to keep him from peeing on your furniture.

Only I've been making them for years, I call them No-pees and sell them on eBay. So I was still a creative flunky.

But then I remembered Karen's gift to Maria. Yes! I could bake some wonderful dog muffins. Only I didn't have any of the right ingredients. But, forsooth, I did have what it takes to make "Simple Simon Birthday Bones" and how fitting was that? I had what it took, because all that was required was flour, baking powder, peanut butter, and milk. Woo-hoo, and I even added a topping of shredded Parmesan cheese. How's that for sheer creativity on a scary scale? Hey!

I mixed everything up, kneaded as directed, rolled the dough out, and used the cookie cutters I have had in bone and bunny shapes for years and never used. Popped them in the oven, and watched them cook to a golden brown. I was on the phone as I took them out of the oven, and...

I dropped the whole frigging cookie sheet.

But I didn't drop the second cookie sheet.

So here are my creations:

A Monkey Head No-pees Belly Band, and

Simple Simon's Birthday Bones and Bunnies with Parmesan Topping.

After all that creativity, I'm too tired to think. I will pass the Challenge on, tomorrow... heh heh heh heh, be very scared..

hug your hounds (Mine are delirious from their delicious homemade bedtime snack. They really taste good! How would I know? Well, how do you think?)

The Gang's All Here!

Your wish is my command, of course!

First there was chaos.

And then there was utter mayhem:

And then, thanks to Molly's help and Laurie's genius, there was perfection!

Lying: Mama Pajama, Fat Charlie
Sitting: Lindy Sexy Butt Loo
Standing: Giacomino, Maria, Sam I Am, Swede Does Any One Want Some Of ME William, Delia, Luciano

L to R: Lindy I Am Irresistible Loo, Fat Charlie, Maria, Sam I Am, Swede Dear God In Heaven Help Me William, Delia, Luciano, Giacomino
Lying: Mama Pajama
I wish I could figure out why some photos are click-and-enlargible, and some are not. Just blogger magic, I suppose.

hug your hounds

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Catching up

As you know dear readers, we have had a lovely visit with our wonderful friend from Minnesoooota, Laurie, and her three dogs, two of whom are immediate family. Laurie is a professional photographer so on top of having fun, fun, fun with a soul sister, I have a personal paparazzi! The weather gods being what they are, horrid angry ugly things, poor Laurie would have been warmer and certainly would have enjoyed more sunshine had she stayed in the frozen tundra. But on the last day we were at least able to bundle up and take our walks.

Sam I Am and Swede William and Lindy Loo and their Servant.

Isn't this cool? She got our reflection in a downtown shop window. Laurie is so clever!

That's the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers on the other side of the flood wall.

Then I took Laurie's camera and she posed with the Terrific Trio:

Then I was a little devilish and said, "Here doggies!"

Oh I am naughty. Notice that the dogs have all of their tag collars mixed up. We took them off to do the magical photo Laurie took of all NINE of my dogs, which you haven't seen yet, hint, hint. And we put them back on willy-nilly in a hurry. Swede William is sporting Delia's fuchsia collar here.

Then Laurie took her camera back and captured Bill getting the mail when we got home.

And we had a delightful visit with Phyllis and Maddie. Laurie and Molly were both so excited to meet them. I took these photos, but Laurie took so super photos of Maddie. Sshhh! I'm going to surprise Phyllis with them for her birthday in May!

Maddie is doing so wonderfully. She got her teeth cleaned, and apparently she came with a longstanding urinary tract infection. Now that she has been treated for that she is quite spunky! But, she is so gentle and careful with Phyllis. The neighbors take Maddie along when they walk their dog, several times a week, so she gets regular exercise.
You simply cannot help getting leaky eyes as you watch these two dear souls. Phyllis is such a gentle, kind, classy, sparkly, fun lady. And so is Maddie. And the devotion between them is lovely.

hug your hounds and your friends too

Hormones and happiness

Lindy Loo is now at day eleven of her season. Meaning that from here on out, no, from last Sunday on out, there can be not a nanosecond of Swede William and Lindy Loo occupying the same air space without strong physical barriers separating them. Neither of them is particularly pleased with this turn of events, most of all Swede William. But they are both most gracious good sports. So far.

Here is how we manage. Downstairs, just off the kitchen is the dog room, with crates for when we go out of the house without dogs. In these special horny times, when we are downstairs for meals, either Lindy Loo Enticing Butt or Swede William Hornus Toadus is in a crate with a special chewie. They take turns. When we are upstairs working or writing, I have brought in a crate from the van and plunked it in the TV room. This view is from my computer chair.

They take turns in that crate as well, again always with a special delight. A peanut butter filled kong, for example. My dogs are crated only for short periods normally, so a peanut butter filled kong is an extreme delicacy. I feel a little sad, because Lindy Loo Who Must Now Be Denied and Swede William Who Would Like to Accommodate Her usually spend their mornings tearing around the yard and barking at hapless passersby (Lindy Loo, not William), and sunning on the papasan chairs on the porch and curling up and snuggling when they come in on the couches. They are the best of best of friends, and what must they think of my sudden reversal of their fortunes?

Hormones being what they are, Lindy Loo the Brazen Booty Bong Girl is shining all of her light on darling Very Old Dog. His Necessary Bits were donated to science years and years ago, but he still can sniff out a Chance of a Lifetime when it is flaunted before him, don't you worry about that! Recognising the opportunity is one thing; doing anything about it is quite another. Thankfully, aside from a long snuffle of Parfume de Youth and Heaven, the clever old boy doesn't try.

When everything becomes too much for Swede William Who is Being A Trooper So Far, he will get to go visit Lindy Loo's brother Emmett, and Edgar, and Heather and Baby Ben. This will be a Fun Adventure for him and we are so very grateful beyond words.

hugs your hounds, in a platonic, decidedly un-Swede William way, of course

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Way too short - way too long

Laurie and thirteen year old Spats:

Oh our lovely visit with Laurie and dear Spats, Rivet, and Simmer was just way too short. It felt like it was only beginning, and there she was today, already packing up to go home. A forecast of a snow storm across Illinois teased at keeping them here one more day, but the storm petered out and they got on the road at about 10:45 this morning.

We had a delightful time. As mentioned, the dogs were stars. Not a sneer or a snarl offered during the whole visit, and Lindy Loo's virtue remains intact. Sam I Am would listen for his brother Rivet to emerge from the guest room each morning. He'd cock his head at the sound of the door opening, and then jump up wagging as he heard Rivet plink, plink, plinking down our ridiculous stairs. When Rivet's handsome self appeared at the bottom of the steps, Sammy turned inside out with wags and smiles and bounces and woo-woooooos. "Look! It's my very own brother! Again! This morning! Right here in our house!"

Sam I Am's brother, Rivet

And we did get to do a lot of fun things. We went to visit Phyllis and Maddie (I'll post those photos later.) We ate ourselves silly. We practiced Agility at the Kennel Club, and were so impressed with our incredibly talented dogs! I was able to watch Laurie take impossible photos like this one:

Laurie left me with these priceless photos and so many more:

Two treasured Very Old Dogs, Giacomino and Spats

Giacomino and Maria
Molly and Mama Pajama

And as to the "way too long" part? Oh the travellers had a flat tire on the way home. After a little scenic detour through Central Illinois (well, that dang I-74 can just sneak by without so much as a howdy do, if you're admiring the beauty of your dogs in your rear view mirror), Laurie called to say that she had a flat. Bill and I were worried sick, until she called back saying she and her dogs were tucked into a toasty warm hotel room, with free wireless and a king sized bed. They will have about five more hours to drive in the morning, after they switch the donut for a real tire.

Hug your hounds

Saturday, February 23, 2008


The dogs in this house are being absolute stars. Gems. Unmitigated ambassadors of canine perfection. Delightful hosts, hostesses, and guests, every one. My dogs are thoroughly enjoying Laurie's dogs; well, Delia could do without Lindy Loo's sister Simmer, but Delia could do without Lindy Loo, if we're being honest. But Sam I Am so loves to have his brother Rivet here, and it's just fun to see them all having a fun visit. And speaking of Lindy Loo, Swede William would like to enjoy the pants off of her, but we're at the point where we are not allowing any meeting of the minds or other parts between those two lovebirds.

The weather has just been atrocious. Freezing rain and ice everywhere. Trees are dropping like Swede William wishes Lindy Loo's pants would. Laurie gamely insists that it's better than the ten degrees below zero (that's Fahrenheit, for my foreign friends) that she left in Minnesota. But the dogs can't walk on the pointy needle ice covered grass, much less run on it. Tomorrow the forecast is for ... freezing rain. I didn't have the heart to tell her. This is supposed to be the South. (Photo copyright Laurie Erickson. Lord she can even make ice look good!)

When Laurie comes to visit, I beg her to take photos of my Kennel Club friends' dogs, and not only does she agree, she has increased in popularity so that we worked her for two solid days. I get to be the Photographer's Assistant. I help the owners position the dogs, and then quick move my body parts out of the photo when Laurie has captured their attention. This involves contortions not appropriate for old people. I am an old person. Even older than three days ago. Much older. But when the folks get to view their dogs' photos on Laurie's computer, it is so much fun to see their reactions. "Oh!" "Oh look how pretty she is!" "How, when, how did she get that shot?" "Oh, my God don't you love this one? I love this one. It's so him." Laurie is amazing.

Yesterday we started out with a litter of precious five week old lab puppies. Six of them. Laurie gave me these photos to share with you, dear readers, but of course they are all copyrighted. I love the bloopers. She called this one "back chaining."

We cannot imagine what the puppy on the right was doing! (Maybe the puppy on the left foofed?)

And then she got this perfectly adorable shot:

And this:

And she got Lindy Loo and Simmer:

And Simmer and Lindy Loo:

More fun to come!

Hug your hounds

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Company is coming!

who's at the door?

Our dear friend Laurie from Minnesooooooota is arriving tonight for her annual visit. She is bringing her famous thirteen year old, Spats (the most titled whippet ever with something like twenty-eight or a million and thirty titles), and Sam I Am's brother Rivet, and Lindy Loo's sister Simmer. (At one point I considered naming Lindy Loo Sizzle, so we would have had Simmer and Sizzle.) Lindy Loo decided to celebrate the upcoming visit by coming into season. Oh joy oh rapture! Oh great timing. Oh $h!t.

Twelve whippets in one house with a bitch in season. Well, the only intact boy in the whole group is Lindy Loo's future arranged-marriage husband, Swede William. Being an eighteen month old with raging hormones, Swede William isn't so very choosy in just whom the object of his affections needs be. That said, he is the lowest dog on the totem pole here, and daren't go beyond a wishful sniff of any of the dog butts in this house. No sirree. One time he took a notion to romanticize Mama Pajama and she took a notion to perform a Swede William nose-ectomy, without anesthesia.

I fear that Swede William will labor under the delusion that our little guest Simmer will fit deliciously into the category of "any port in a storm." I do not believe that Simmer's stud muffin Rivet (muffins or no) will take kindly to this whimsy. I also fear that Rivet, only recently departed of his muffins, will take a shine to Swede William, in the Brokeback Mountain sense of the word, since Swede William's nose has been attached to Lindy Loo's Tinkle Can for four days, thus inheriting much of her ambrosial bouquet. I gave him a bath. Of course, Rivet will most definitely take a shine to Lindy Loo, in a decidedly un-Brokeback Mountain sense of the word, so why worry about Swede William?
Then there is the Fun Police, Delia, who follows a strict zero tolerance policy on any hanky panky in her house. Period. You get a silly sexy face on your doggy self, head up, tail up and wagging a rumba, one eyebrow jauntily cocked (or anything else), and Delia appears magically from where ever in a zoom blink, all hackles and teeth, to tell you "Oh no you don't!" Not on her watch. Not going to happen.
I will confess, dear readers, a tendency to worry. I brood. I distress over things which have not happened, and probably never will. I dwell in It-Could-Happen Land. Most likely the dozen will be model canine citizens. The humporama I dread will never materialize. It will be wonderful to see Laurie and her sweet dogs, and we have so many fun things planned. The weather promises to be disappointingly horrid. (What did I ever do to anger the weather gods so?) But it won't dampen the fun of the visit one bit. And, as Laurie generously mentioned, anything Western Kentucky can throw at us has to be better than Minneapolis.
Come back for updates and photos.
Hug your hounds

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Fun Monday # 4, I think.

[If you are looking for the update on Shelby it is the next post, just scroll down.}

From Sayre comes this week's Fun Monday Challenge:

  • Take your camera with you as you go about your business and take a picture of the things that make you laugh along the way. I was originally thinking about signs, since that's what usually does it for me, but I left it open to your interpretation

Hmmm. I work in a little room in my house. On my way to "work" I must settle all the other commuters.

Bill is in charge of Delia:

I pass the shelves with photos of my friends:

The front photo below is of Caruso and Gracious, who are no longer. How much do I treasure that picture? It was taken by my dear friend Laurie, and she will be here day after tomorrow for a wonderful visit! I am so excited to see her, and you will see lots of new photos!

I had posted a photoshow here of our typical walk, but the music played everytime you opened the blog and that is SO annoying. I deleted it.

To see the rest of the Fun Monday participants, go HERE.

hug your hounds

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Shelby is HOME, forever

Just in case this is your first ever visit to this blog, I'll give you Shelby's synopsis. Shelby was a dog who was found in our neighborhood in December, starving.
This was then:

Our two huge-hearted and dogless neighbors, Deb and Merle, took Shelby in, (much to the dismay of their three cats) and nursed her back from death's literal door. This was HUGELY heroic of them, as they were on the verge of putting their home on the market, and knew they would be moving into an apartment and could not have a dog. But they took her in.

We put out all kinds of notices, once Shelby gained weight and strength, thinking someone would want to give a perfect home to this heartworm positive, in need of a spay after the vaginitis is cleared up, sweetheart of a dog. But we didn't get a hint of a nibble, let alone a bite. The great gals of iList Paducah even made her the iDate of the Week, to no avail.

My adult niece Molly moved to my town last summer, temporarily. She'll be moving back east next month. When she came here, she missed her two dogs terribly. They stayed back east with her boyfriend. They are a boxer ("JD")and a Cane Corso ("Roman"- both neutered males) and though Molly loves the whippets, and they adore her, she is a big dog person. Molly melted at the first sight of Shelby. Many a day, I would pop over to see how Shelby was doing, and Molly was already there visiting with her. But, Molly lived in a no dog apartment, and that was that.

The days of Deb and Merle's generosity turned into weeks and then months and their move became imminent. And Merle's mom was having surgery on Tuesday. And then a Bad Thing happened. A man came into their home to visit, and Shelby took matters into her own paw. These folks had saved her life and she would defend them to the death and she did not like the looks of this fellow. He was uncomfortable around dogs anyway, and he didn't act right. A little shifty in her inexperienced eyes. So she gave him a little warning nip. Oh dear.

A Horrible Decision was made. I felt strongly that, after two months in a warm loving home, it would be beyond cruel to take Shelby to a shelter. The area shelters are filled, bursting, overwhelmed. People are losing their homes thanks to the mortgage crisis and are forced to move into pet free apartments. Families are blindly stumbling away from their bankrupt farms, fully stocked with animals. On a recent "Adoption Day" at the local Petsmart, there were more than fifty dogs in crates. Unneutered, sad, friendly, big, small, purebred, mixed, hairy, shorthaired, quiet, barking, I began to cry, right in the dog food isle. Dogs who were fine with men leaning over their crate, and squealing children poking their fingers through the wires. What chance did Shelby have, in need of heartworm treatment, socialization, training, and spaying? What on earth chance?

I called my kind, sweet vet who had been her hero and asked if she would. "Yes," she agreed. "Please don't take her to a shelter. It's horrible. I would rather do it kindly."

I called Molly. "I'm so sorry," I said. "We are simply out of time and options. Now we have a dog who has to undergo heartworm treatment, be spayed, and has put her teeth on a human. We'll take her tomorrow, if you want to see her tonight."

Did I mention that Molly is my niece? Our family has just a teeny streak of oh, let's call it um, stubbornness which shows up from time to time. A mulish tenacity. OK, we can be plain old pigheaded! Molly started making phone calls. The first excitement was that her boyfriend Matt agreed that Shelby could join their family. Could we find a foster home for a month until Molly moved back east? No. A ride with a rescue chain to Matt? I did not see how that could possibly be arranged in twenty-four hours. How would Shelby react to strangers reaching into her crate to take her out to potty along the route? Molly did not give up or give in. I said, "Molly, I have learned something in my fifty-three years. You do everything you can do, and if something is meant to be, it will be. But if you have done everything you can do, and you can't make a thing happen, it is the Universe taking control, and you need to be able to let go. Shelby has had more love in the last two months than some dogs get in a lifetime. We have to take comfort in that."

And then, like magic, my other line beeped. It was Merle. His brother could stay with their mom on Saturday, and he could drive half way with Molly. I clicked back over to Molly. The Universe had spoken, loud and clear! Everything lined up like happy quacking ducklings in a row following the grand mother Universe's perfect plan. Molly kept Shelby during the days so that Deb and Merle's home could be shown. Merle's mom's surgery went well. Shelby learned by leaps and bounds with Molly's obedience training. She met men and dogs on the sidewalks on walks and got rewards for her good behavior.

Molly and Merle and Shelby left at oh-dark-thirty on Saturday morning. They met Matt in West Virginia. Shelby thought Matt was cool beans and here's why. As she headed off in Matt's car, leaving the first people she had trusted in her life, he heard her getting restless in her crate. So he started singing "Elsa, Shelby, it's going to be ok," to the tune of "row, row, row your boat." What is not to love? And because sometimes feeling emotionally safe and comfortable is the most important thing, Matt let his new dog curl up on the front passenger seat for part of the trip, resting her big head on the console, being stroked by this new kind human in her life. She settled down, realising that though she had left the comfort of her Deb and Merle and Molly, she was with a Good Man.

I will miss Molly wickedly when she moves back east. I will absently pick up the phone a thousand times to tell her that Bill is making his sausage pasta and does she want to come on over, only to realise that it would be way too long a trip. I have treasured this time together. Clumsy at first, two adult women reacquainting, and then the new comfortable familiarity and genuine, glowing fondness. But now the sadness of her leaving will be offset by the tape playing in my heart and my mind.

Shelby's delight when her Molly comes home.

hug your hounds