Monday, March 31, 2008

Fun Monday # 7

If you came looking for the Rescue story, CLICK HERE.

Pensieve is hosting this week's Fun Monday. Our assignment:

  • please share words that inspire and motivate you--brief or bloviatory, silly or serious, from great world leaders to last night's Comedy Central...from a Hallmark greeting card to your favorite book. Choose one, choose many; let the quotes stand on their own or tell where you first read or heard them and how they affected you. There's a lot of leeway with how this topic can be handled.
I love quotes. I am a quotaphile. I so love good writing. To capture something powerfully universal in a few finely crafted words is to get a glimpse of Heaven.

Without further ado!

[First the dog quotes. This is a dog blog.]

My own:

  • In the eyes of a dog I see God.

I wrote a story about this. I will post it here someday.

I was fortunate - hugely so - to have been able to meet Roger Caras, and to get to know his lovely family a little. He has two of my favorite quotes

  • Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

  • If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.

And Abraham Lincoln gave us:

  • I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.

And then there is Mark Twain. I adore Mark Twain.

  • It is just like man's vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.

  • Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.

  • Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.

  • Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

  • Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.

Don't you just love Mark Twain? I do. I just love him.

go visit the rest of the Fun Monday participants Pensieve 's blog for some more great quotes!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Rescue (Part Three - Conclusion)

[This the conclusion of a three part story. If you haven't read PART ONE, please CLICK HERE. It will link you to PART TWO, which will bring you back here. Or you could simply scroll down.]

She pulled into her driveway just as the mail man stepped onto her porch. "Hey, Doug! Want to meet the new rescue? I just picked her up."

The mail man walked over to the van and reached in his pocket for a biscuit. The dog in the van stood in her crate and wagged at him, accepting the treat with glee. "She looks like a sweetie. And she doesn't mind the mail man," he laughed. "Remember Joe? I'll never forget that dog. It sounded like Armageddon on the other side of that door every time I tried to push your mail through the slot, and I thought we'd never win him over."

"Yup, good old Joe. He shredded my bills before I paid them. By the time he left here he loved you though, Doug. Amazing what a treat and a kind word can do, huh. He was a good dog, that Joe."

"Well, here's your mail. Good luck with the new one."

The woman said, "Thanks. She'll be easy to place. Her owner died in a car accident, so she's a little lost right now. I'm sure I'll find a home that will be just right for her in pretty short order."

She sat in the doorway to her van and leafed through the mail. One little envelope made her heart jump. "Well, speak of the..." She opened it with a broad smile and began to read.

I want to thank you for the joy you brought us by trusting us with Joe for the last thirteen years. He has brought so much to our lives. Thank you for letting me call you those million times for advice. When he chewed up my shoes that first week, and you said how hard it is on a dog that had a good home to be abandoned because they had known love. You told me he didn't know anything about expensive shoes, "he only knows they smell like you."  Thank you for helping us get his I.L.P. number, and thank you for celebrating with us when he got each of his Agility titles. Did you ever know a dog who loved Agility more? How much I learned from him!

He was so good for Toby growing up. When Toby was mad at the world, Joe was always there, doing something crazy to make Toby laugh. Remember the time he ran around and around the yard with Toby's underpants on his head? I don't know which one I worried over more when Toby left for college: the kid or the dog. But they were both fine. And our house wasn't empty. Joe was there.

I write with both grateful joy and a terrible sorrow. We had to let Joe go today. His fifteen year old heart just got too big. I have a confession to make. That day when we came and got Joey from you, you were so brave, and I even wondered what kind of person you were, that you could give up a dog you had literally brought back to life. But after we had turned the corner, I thought of something I wanted to ask you and we backed up the car. I saw you, crumpled on your lawn, face in your hands, sobbing. We drove off, not wanting to intrude. I've never shared that with you, in all these years. But I realised that you had given us a piece of your heart.

I wanted to give you that piece back. In the form of my deepest gratitude, and this little token. It came from you, thirteen years ago.

I could never, ever thank you enough.

The Rescuer turned the envelope over, and an old dog tag fell into her lap. She always had the new homes keep the tag with her phone number on their dogs until they got their own. It was Joe's old tag from when he was with her. A scuffed up, red metal tag in the shape of a heart.

She held tight it to her chest, while images of a good dog danced through her heart with each beat. She wiped her face on her sleeves and turned to the dog in the crate.

"Come on, girl. Let's get you cleaned up and settled. I know someone who needs a good dog like you right now. I need to make a phone call."

hug your hounds

The Rescue (Part Two)

[If you haven't read PART ONE, please CLICK HERE. There will be a link to bring you back to part two.]

The van pulled up to a modest, cheerful house with a small front yard. The Rescuer unloaded the rest of the dogs and put them in the fenced back yard, where play broke out in riots of toy shaking, grass rolling, and boisterous games of tug and tag. As she returned to the van, her husband pulled in the driveway from work.

"So you were able to spring him?" he asked, kissing his wife hello. The two peered in the dog's crate.

"Oh my dear Lord," cried the man, clutching his mouth.

"They were going to put him down today. Apparently he hasn't eaten since he got dumped two and a half weeks ago. I hate to put him through getting a bath first thing, but I've got to do it. I have to treat those sores, and I can't stand the smell anyway. I had to ride the whole way home with the van windows open."

The Rescuer's gentle hands took him out of the crate. He felt the sunshine as he stood on the warm grass in the front yard and he started to tremble violently. His legs buckled, whether voluntarily or from weakness, he didn't know. The Rescuer sat down beside him, placed his head in her lap, and stroked him with kindness and care. His eyes started to see then. He lost the nothingness stare and he looked at the Rescuer. And his tail wagged once.

He didn't mind the bath. The water was warm and the hands were gentle, and though the sores burned like fire, he didn't flinch. He was toweled and medicated with ointment and wrapped in warm blankets. By habit, he turned away from the food. The Rescuer gently opened his mouth and put some in, and softly held his jaws closed. He swallowed. Hello! What was this? He sniffed the bowl, and then gulped the rice and hamburger and broth as fast as his jaws would let him. Was there more? The Rescuer laughed and clapped her hands in delight. He slept.

He was now better than he had ever been. The sores had long healed. His dead coat had been replaced by a shining, healthy, proud one and he was friends with the other dogs in the Rescuer's house. He had learned so many lessons. The Rescuer had taught him to sit, lie down, shake, and his favorite, roll over. When he raided treasures from trash cans, she taught him a great trick. She put a piece of Italian sausage in a trash can and put it in the middle of the kitchen. When he trotted over to retrieve it, she said a sharp, "Unh-uh!" and when he turned to look at her, she gave him a piece of the delectable sausage that she had in her pocket. Cool! They practiced this and practiced this, in every room in the house. He did love this game! And after a while, when there was something wonderful in a trash can, he would trot over to tell her and she would fish an ever-present treat out of her pocket and give it to him. And tell him what a wonderful dog he was.

When he was first well enough to realise that there were girl dogs in this house, he became the Humping King. He was delirious with Humpzeist. He thought he was Rescuebert Humperdink. He humped air, he humped pillows, he tried to hump the girl dogs.

"We will never find you a home if you live in Humpville," said the Rescuer. She had gotten his boy parts removed as soon as he was strong enough, but this did not stop him. He heard the "unh-uh" but there were no treats involved. Then she told the girl dogs, "OK ladies, let him have it," and let him in the room with them. They did not appreciate his advances. They let him know this and his nose bled and his ear. Then he thought he would bestow his love on one of the boy dogs. He did not try that again. His humping days were done, and besides, he went on such long walks, and played for so many long hours in the yard, that he was tired and forgot all about it anyway.

"Joe," the Rescuer said as she was drying him from a bath, "Your Forever Home is coming in the morning. They are good people and I have told them all about you, and I have checked them out, and I believe they are perfect for you. Nope, I know it in my bones. Perfect." She had started calling him Joe, because he was a Good Joe, and he liked it very much. "And you are ready. Yes you are. But, Joe, my heart is going to break a bit. You will take your piece of it with you. And it's an awfully big piece you own, Joey. You are such a good dog."

Joe didn't know why her eyes were leaking, but he cleaned her face and wagged his best for her.

The Rescuer.

His Rescuer.

... to be continued HERE (part three, conclusion)

hug your hounds

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Rescue (just a little short story - fiction)

Part One

He had no idea what had happened to his life. He was sure he hadn't done anything Against the Rules. He hadn't Pooped in the House in forever, and he had chased that neighbor cat back to Creation, when it had dared to step on his family's property. He was pleased with the job he'd done terrifying the invading mail man every single day. He was sure his family appreciated his excellent skills of finding treasures in all of the garbage cans. Especially when he found the best treasures in the bathroom garbage and brought them into the living room for all to see.

Still, his safe, familiar, loving home had disappeared faster than stupid squirrel up a handy tree. He had heard his tall humans fighting and arguing about nothing and everything. His whole family was crying and sobbing and boxes were filled with their stuff. Then he was at a very strange place and the dad was sniffing and saying, "Sorry, buddy. I'm so sorry," and after handing his leash to a tired person, the dad walked away, without turning back. The tired person put him in a run with two other dogs and he had never felt such all encompassing, stark terror.

He curled up in a little ball in the back of the run and closed his eyes to all of it.

He didn't notice how many dark times passed. He knew the lights came on, dogs barked, and people came in and cleaned up the run, food dishes appeared, which he couldn't bring himself to touch, so his runmates argued over his. The lights went off and dogs continued to bark. So many dogs. The lights came on and the routine started again. He knew his bones were sticking into the hard cement more than they had when he first came, and he knew his family hadn't returned; that was all he knew.

A woman stood at the front of his run. Something tickled his nostrils.

"Oh he absolutely is one!" the woman was saying. "Thank God you listed him on PetFinder! We try not to let any of them spend a day in a shelter. I guess his family didn't bother to let the breeder know they couldn't keep him. Or I suppose he could have come from a puppy mill in the first place. Who knows. I just so appreciate y'all working with Rescue."

The shelter worker sighed as she accepted the fee and the paperwork from the rescuer. If only all of the dogs had such active advocates as these less popular breeds. Oh well, one less dog to put down today. One less.

This woman's van smelled of joy and treats and fabric softener. Instead of riding in the back seat like he had with his family, the woman put him in a crate. His eyes were still blinded by the sunlight, so he relied on his nose. The crate had fluffy blankets in it and clean water and a chewie and a biscuit. There were other dogs in the van, dogs just like him, and they wagged and sniffed greetings from their crates.

His Rescuer gave him a tender pat as she gently settled him in his crate. "You'll be all right now, sweet heart. Everything will be all right now." He smelled her tears, and without thinking he licked her face.

"Oh you poor, dear dog," cried the woman. "Let's go home."

... to be continued [Click HERE for Part Two]

hug your hounds

Thursday, March 27, 2008

He's home!



hug your humans

The River is a Risin'

Just a few more photos for you. These were taken Monday, and the river is cresting today. If we can eek out our walks between thunder and hail, we'll take some more photos.

Remember the bench that Looch, Delia and William were tied to? They'd be under water! I understand that the river is all the way up over the grass now.
Come on, Sammy, William, and Lindy Loo - Let's go down these stairs!
Sammy says, "Oh, senile servant, get the heck out of here now! Can you not see the river is a'risin'!"

Umm... Catfish crossing? (You can click to enlarge.)
And on the back (no skateboarding on driftwood?)-
Wouldn't want to annoy you!
A better shot of Lewis & Clark and Sacagawea and the newfie, with Sam I Am for perspective and loveliness.

hug your dry safe hounds

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And the winner is... (winners are...)

I typed up all of the entries. (Oh, and please note that I didn't blab, blab, blab about this free drawing, because it was to be a Reader Appreciation Give-away, so I put it at the end of a LOOOONG, boring post, and only the dearest of dear readers would have slogged through the drudgery and find the opportunity to get a freebie!)

I then cut them up into equal sized pieces and put them all into one pile, all together, with none left out.
The dogs were all sound asleep. Who would supervise?
I couldn't raise anyone, and Bill is still out of town, so it was up to HENrietta and Fartin' Earl to see that all entries were in the empty CD holder ready to be drawn:
Yup, they were all in there (you can click on any of the photos to enlarge them... use your back button to return):
I did the drawing. And then I felt like a cheapskate. Because I do so appreciate all of you dear readers. So I drew another. And then even one more. And then I thought how much each book costs me and I got a grip.
Here are the WINNERS!!!

Congratulations! And thank you for your unexpected and surprisingly supporting words!!! Really, I was the winner here, and I pumped out about ten chapters of the novel zoom with enthusiasm and confidence after reading your kind words of encouragement.
And since I feel bad that there were only three winners, I will lower the price of the book on eBay for one week, 20% !!! Wow!!! Bill will kill me!!! Welcome home, darling!


hug your hounds and winners please email me your snail mail address and let me know if you want my autographed book and to whom you would like it signed, or let me know if you already have the book and want two free custom collars instead.

Drawing today!!!

Oh NO!!! Yesterday was supposed to be the reader appreciation give-away drawing. But, and this will surprise not one person who knows me - I forgot.


Let's see. Here are my excuses, in no particular order:
  1. Bill's been gone for a week and gets home tonight!!! Yipppeeeee!! I like to think of myself as a strong, independent woman hear me roar, but without Bill as a daily presence in my life I'm a bit untethered. OK, so I am more than a bit untethered to begin with. The fact is, that Bill is my life. He is my breath and my pulse, the essence of my me-ness. He makes me laugh and he makes me think and he makes me better.
  2. I am doing a book reading today! Fifty-three people have signed up to hear me at the Library. I'm more than a little nervous. I wish I could take Sam I Am with me for courage and inspiration! If you, dear readers, could send mesmerizing, powerful, irresistible "Buy... her... book..." thoughts to the unsuspecting fifty-three in the audience, I would be most beholden to you! And while you are at it, you could send me a thought of "you can do it" and "ha ha ha you are just so entertaining ho ho he he he!" Oh Lordy, I am just going to stand up there and bore fifty-three people into a deep coma and they won't have enough ambulances to handle them all and we'll have to call in the National Guard and it will make the national news and forever I'll be known as the most boring human alive and I'll be in the Guinness book of records and we'll starve.
  3. It got cold again. My brain, that itty bitty piece of it that is still rattling around in the hollow space in my head where the whole thing used to live, is frozen. (It's supposed to warm up today.)
  4. Since Bill has been gone, there are many more dogs sleeping in my bed. They rob me of my oxygen and dig toenails into my eye sockets and emit noxious gasses which drug my brain into a forgetful state so that right after I give them biscuits, my gassed brain thinks, "Hey! I need to give the dogs their biscuits!"
  5. Forgetfulness is a sign and symptom of pasta withdrawal. (So is the five pounds I've lost this week!)

Those are my excuses, and I'm sticking to them. I'll go print up all the entries and do the drawing and post results.

hug your inspirational hounds

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dog Shows, Winners, Friends and an Award

Swede William, the handsome boy

We had shows this weekend down in Franklin, Tennessee, about a half hour south of Nashville. Bill is away, so I couldn't leave anyone home; we'd be gone way too long. Emmett, who lives with Heather and Jason and Baby Ben, was entered, and the exciting thing was that Heather was going to get to go and watch Emmett show for the first time in forever! We bemoaned the fact that since Heather would be present, the mean dog show gods would make sure that Emmett wouldn't win, but it would be a fun day, we would get to visit, and I would have help.

I loaded up the whole waggle, many of whom had assumed when I put on Dog Show Clothes in the dark that they would be left home and were thrilled to go and bounced and bounded and wooed and wagged and got ridiculously tangled and macromayed their leads between the gate and the van doors and celebrated life. We picked up Heather and Emmett and headed east and south. It had been such a long time since Mama Pajama had been in the crate behind my head, that I ate the whole muffin Heather brought without saving Mama Pajama a bite. I caught her look of utter dismay and disgust in my rearview mirror. Oh no!

We arrived in a quick three hours and walked the seven who weren't showing, gave them their biscuits and tucked them in, and headed into the building with the three show dogs: Emmett, Swede William, and Lindy Loo. It’s such fun to arrive at the whippet ring and to see whippet friends! And they were so relieved to see that I had brought my own dear helper. When I go alone with three dogs, then I have to rely on the kindness of people who wish they were strangers to hold my other two when I am in the ring with one. No big deal you say? These three dogs love to show. So when I am in the ring with one, the other two, erm, voice their displeasure at being outside of the ring instead of inside.

“There’s been a mistake! A gross error in judgment,” they scream. “I’m quite certain I should be in there! She’s utterly senile, you know. It must be my turn!” It’s not pretty, and eardrums have been shattered. Heather had been warned and was ready for the craziness.

Emmett went in first. He was very, very good, having neither shown nor practiced since August, for goodness sake. He got his first place ribbon, and his reward was for me to dash out of the ring, hand him in a blind rush to Heather, grab Swede William, and run back into the ring. The whole process took about twenty-five seconds.

[A little dog show primer – if you show, you can skip this. Dog show classes wait for no dog. If your class is called and you are not there, you lose. If your class is called and you are at the in gate fiddling with leashes and changing your armband number, you annoy your judge. Mightily. These judges are allotted about two minutes per dog and they might have 178 dogs to judge and they are standing in the heat/cold/rain on cement/mud/dirt and they have been doing it for about 100 years and if you are piddling around at the in gate and they are waiting oh they are not happy dog show judges and they sigh wearily and think unkind thoughts and bad words. There are several classes in each breed, divided by sex, for non-champions. The winners of each of the classes come back into the ring to compete against its sex for “Winners”. The one Winners Dog and one Winners Bitch are the only dogs of each breed to win points toward their Championship. The number of points they win depends on the number of dogs they defeat. Then the Winners Dog and Bitch go back in to compete with the Champions for Best of Breed. There is a language of dog shows: singles, majors, Winners, Best of Opposite, Breed, Specials, Group Ring, and on and on. It is baffling at first.]

We had found a wonderful volunteer to take Emmett back in the ring on the chance that William also won his class. He did. I stayed in the ring with William for Winners and the sweet volunteer grabbed Emmett from Heather (now Lindy Loo was really annoyed) and came in the ring behind William. Emmett thought he should be with me, but was a good, good boy. So we’re running around in the final go round and the judge points to someone behind me for Winners. The sweet girl who had Emmett passed behind me and said, “Sorry.” I thought she was leaving the ring, apologizing for Emmett wanting to be with me. The normal protocol when you don’t win is to quickly say congratulations to the winner and get out of the ring. Emphasis on ‘quickly’ and ‘get out’. I was confused. I paused. I looked at my friends behind me. “Who?” I asked. “Your dog,” they cried! “Not me, he didn’t point to me,” I said, looking as befuddled as I felt. “Your Bred By dog,” they yelled, pointing at Emmett and generously not adding DUMMY! I turned to see Emmett and his handler and the judge standing in the Winners spot and I jumped up and down. Yay! Yay! The dog show gods had indeed been kind and Heather got to see her puppy win! “Yay, oh yay,” I jumped and shouted and turned to smile at Heather! (The “sorry” had been for beating William in Winners, thinking that I had wanted William to win, which of course wasn’t the case, but was the source of my great confusion.)

“Get out of the ring,” shouted everyone else! Oops.

The drive home is always so much shorter when you’re laughing with a friend the whole way.

We had to leave at 5:40 the next morning, and I didn’t see why Heather should have to wake up at oh dark thirty simply to hand me her dog. She was staying home to enjoy Baby Ben’s Easter with family. Here is where Saint Dee comes in. Saint Dee went with me on Easter Sunday just to help. Saint Dee got up at oh dark thirty and spent six plus hours in the van and held the Screaming Meme’s ringside just to be kind. And this is not the first time she has done this. Saint Dee does not even own a whippet, though she is a dear beloved Auntie to the waggle. How lucky am I? How lucky?

Emmett, Swede William, and Lindy Loo doing zoomies in the yard

So, Emmett had spent the night on Saturday and he noticed that his sissy Lindy Loo had matured since he last saw her. And he had missed the whole thing. And he was a Very Horny Whippet. On Sunday at the show, Emmett did not mind not being with me. But he minded intensely being separated from his sexy (in his male adolescent brain only) sissy. Dee not only had to hold the screaming meme’s, she had to prevent ringside Consummation of Decidedly Unbrotherly Acts, which Emmett was quite determined to commit. And when Emmett was in the ring with me, he made it clear that he needed desperately to be out with Lindy Loo. And another friend took him in for Winners, but today was Swede William’s day and he won!

Each of the boys got a little closer to their championships, and it was a grand weekend and I’m indebted to good people. Sam I Am thinks I forgot him and he tried to remind me that he is the star and should be doing agility when we gave him a little walk around the show grounds before we left. I told him it would be his turn again soon. But all the dogs were so delighted to go, and I could not have done it by myself.

Today the dogs are sleeping it off. And I am writing this long story to say thank you.

And we got a fun award from our friend Koobuss! We are Totally Hip! (Clearly, this only applies to the whippets and not, after the above story, the Senile Servant!)

We are going to pass it on to Rudy, who is a Bedlington which is hip to begin with, and he does Agility, which is even hipper, and he takes in rescues which is the hippest!
And we would like to pass it on the The Canine Kids, with whom we are discovering we have a great deal in common, and if we are hip, they must be too!

Hug your hounds

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mistaken Identity

Just a quick note to say that although our Sam I Am's birthday is coming up soon in April (and it will be a doozy because he shares it with his Great Uncle Giacomino) today is another DWB Sam I Am's birthday. He's a handsome Weimeraner, so tell him happy happy!!!

hug your hounds and we have some exciting news for later...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Come Along for a Walk, Or Three!

The rain brought beautiful spring weather. Western Kentucky has long, lovely printemps, though we have gotten a late start this year. Usually by now the dogwoods are blooming, and we just only have daffodils. But, the delay has made this glorious spring time all the more blessed.

The first walk is (front to back) Maria, Giacomino (V.O.D.) and Mama Pajama.

This is the first thing we saw!

too slow, human anchor!

the little historic Texaco Station is now an information center where our creative friend and C-A-T person Aynex works

Aynex says she doesn't like dogs. Liar, liar, pants on fire! Happy Birthday, Dear Aynex, Happy Birthday to Youooooooooooo!!

Very Old Dog, Shadow Dog

The next walk was (L to R) Sam I Am, Lindy Loo, and Fat Charlie

Scanning for Evil Squirrellies. Nothing terribly thrilling happened.

The last walk was (l to R) Swede William, Delia, and Luciano (Looch). We went down to see how high the river was.

The river is way high! It's almost in the park.

These benches where we sit and think about things are in the River!

Guess we won't walk here!

What's that Johnny Cash song? It's 41 feet and rising. I wonder if they're going to start closing the flood gates. I think they close them at 43 feet.

Dead fish are the best for rolling in.

Only seagulls performing on the riverfront stage today! There is more seating and a drive below the stage.

Our lovely downtown Paducah

The world famous Quilt Museum of the American Quilters Society. In a month, there will be around 40,000 quilters here for the HUGE Quilt Show. That's Lewis and Clark, and their famous Newfie. You can't see Sacagawea, from this view, but she looks like she was about eleven.

Our great good friends Harvey and Jeanie were there when we got home.

We hope you have a beautiful spring day, too, and if not, I hope you can enjoy ours vicariously.

hug your hounds

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It's Raining, It's Pouring

When it decides to rain around these parts, it can solid rain. The storms here are violent and don't fit the pattern we all knew back in Maryland. The first time we had thunder and lightening in January, the two oldest dogs, now both gone, cried "No fair!" Gracious and Caruso had each independently become severely thunderphobic in their dotage. I don't know who detested distant rumbling more: oh how it tore my heart to see my darling, dignified seniors shaking violently, tongues curled in panic panting, eyes wild with terror. It was so bad that I got drugs for them from the vet, after trying the diffusers with mom's pheromones, and the herbal stuff which had no effect on anything but my purse. Even the drugs from the vet were a wash. So great was their fright, that the dose had to be enough to render them wobbly and incoherent, which brought on its own set of fears.

Now Very Old Dog, who will be fourteen next month has become a thunder hater. Thank goodness, Maria, just turned thirteen, does not mind the boomers in the least. The dogs - all nine - and I took Bill to Paducah's little airport yesterday. The storm warnings were dire, but his flight was on. Barkley International (that cracks me up) Airport has two or three commercial flights in and out per day. The sky above our farm in Maryland was always host to multiple planes, their trailing stripes criss crossing in some nonsensical Tic Tac Toe of the gods. Here, a plane in the sky is something to make everyone, even the dogs, pause and notice.

We dropped Bill off, and then went on to the Kennel Club for Tuesday practice. I had to move some equipment and tidy a bit in preparation, and as I was outside shaking a throw rug, I saw Bill's plane fly over. I jumped up and down and waved like a wife at a returning World War II sailor. Only instead of waving a hanky, I was waving a big hairy throw rug with dirt and dog hair forming a cloud around me. "Bye Bill! Here I am, honey! Here! Here!" Jump, jump. Silly, but there you go.

As soon as the first person and dog arrived for practice, the skies opened. The Kennel Club building has a metal roof, and there are overhangs on each side under which you can park. The rain crashed down, and the noise obliterated all other sounds. I ran out to check on Very Old Dog in the van. He was mildly concerned, but not the least frantic. I gave them each two biscuits and brought Swede William in to practice.

It poured the entire two hours, making our informal conformation and obedience practice pretty much an individual thing between folks and their dogs. If we tried to help each other or compliment something, it went like this:

"Wow, she looks great tonight!"

"Are you talking to me?"


"I didn't hear you?"

"Oh, she looks really good!"

"What crook's in the 'hood?"

"No, I said she is doing great!"

"Well, of course she's chewing bate, I just gave it to her!"

"Never mind."

So we mostly communicated with smiles and nods and thumbs up.

If you want to see nine disgusted dogs, come witness mine after a trip to the Kennel Club which did not involve running in the fenced area. Add to that being dragged out of their warm, dry van in a torrential downpour and being pushed through the gate into our little yard, and you've seen the worst. Oh they were not happy campers. They do love the attacks of the sillies that come with being inside and wet, though, and soon we were all a chaotic crash of towels and toys and woo-wooing. Maria squeaking the purple monkey at a maddening rate of six squeaks per second, Sammy was shaking the life out of the platypus sending her egg babies flying, and Looch was pouncing from one flying egg to the next. Swede William was overwrought and thought he could hump Lindy Loo who was trying to run laps around the kitchen island, but not getting very far with her Swede William anchor. Delia felt the need to chastise Swede William for such an inappropriate display, and stalked him with her head, tail, ears and dander up. Looking at me to say, "Fix this, or I will! Stop the little pervert!" Fat Charlie was hip checking me for more toweling, Mama Pajama was emptying the entire water bowl while I was distracted. And now Very Old Dog was having a tug of war with Maria over the purple monkey. Dear merciful heavens! Two necks with bulging discs tugging and shaking and oh Lord don't do that, sweet hearts!

The thunder didn't start until one in the morning. I awoke to a distant rumble and thanked all that is good for Very Old Dog's very diminished hearing. He hadn't noticed. The next lightening was bright and long and his head popped up. I started the thunder routine. The lightning flashes, I start gently rubbing Very Old Dog's ears to blot out the sound of the thunder. It works really well, as long as I don't miss a flash. I ended up sleeping sideways across the bed, so that my hand was already on his neck. Fat Charlie was in Bill's spot in his absence, and spread out onto my pillow as well. By three the thunder had stopped, though the rain hadn't noticed, and we slept soundly the rest of the night.

It is still raining, so in lieu of walks, we're having individual play, or training play, or rubs and cuddles. As long as the thunder stays away, and leaves my Very Old Dog be, this rainy storm is feeling cozy. The daffodils are in full bloom, and that helps.

Hug your hounds

[Oh and do read the next entry down and enter the drawing for the give away!]

Sunday, March 16, 2008

SIX MONTHS! (On Blogs and Blogging)

This is pretty funny coming from the "I will never have a blog" queen. But here's my post on how much I've come to love blogging and bloggers and reading blogs and writing this blog. And this is from the person who would get just a little annoyed when I saw the word blog. Like, "Oh, they have a blog. Well aren't they so special? And then I read a blog that I loved, and that blog led me to another, which was really good. And then Amy told me about the blogger who got a book deal because her blog took off. "Sure, well that was her," I said. And Amy said, "You can do it, Patience! What can it hurt to try?"

So, I have a blog. What I didn't realise was how many nice people I would meet through blogging. I thought that only scary angry bomb making vulgar sex maniacs and murderous perverts blogged. It never occurred to me that nice folks who loved dogs would blog, and find each others' blogs. When I discovered Dogs With Blogs I met hundreds of supportive, kind, entertaining, eloquent, delightful folks who adore their dogs.

Then I couldn't keep track. Several of the dog bloggers recommended Bloglines and I love it. I signed up for free and got no spam or stupid ads from it. Now I click on my bloglines page, and it shows me when a blog has a new post. No stuff in my Inbox, no losing a blog that I enjoy, no clicking on a blog to find nothing new.

So, I noticed tonight that it's been six months since I've started this blog. How about that? OK, the literary agents aren't beating down my door. HA! But Google keeps records, and 6,914 people have visited 27,642 times, viewing 38,490 pages. [Bill and I probably account for 20,000 of the visits.] The most popular story is Mouse! which has been read 1,391 times, followed by My Dog Is Getting Old, and For Dog Lovers Only. I have updated my sidebar to reflect the favorite stories in order of reader preference. And added a couple new ones.

I was even generating some revenue with Google Ads, but I couldn't filter out all the puppy mill ads. I couldn't stand for a nanosecond having a big old Internet puppy brokerage or a commercial breeder advertising on my blog. So I forfeited my earnings, and I'm not noble or rich (ha ha har ho ha hee hee hee falling down pounding the floor with my fists oh ha ha ha har har), I'm just stubborn. And I just hate the whole notion of breeding dogs for profit. I just hate it. I would like to believe that if I were forfeiting $100,000 instead of $27.74, I would have done the same thing. Or figured out a way to filter out those ads!

But (thank you, thank you dear readers) one very fun thing is that I got a royalty check from the publisher, and folks are buying my little book of stories! Many of you dear readers have bought the book either directly from me or from eBay and I know about that, and rejoice with every book. But I don't know until I get the quarterly statements how many books have sold through online sellers like Amazon. Whoopee! It was good news! And before you think I've gotten all rich (another fit of uncontrollable hysterics), I get a whole whopping $6 from each book that sells via bookstore, but oh what encouragement I get when folks buy my little book!

That encouragement gives me the oomph I need as I try to write The Novel. With the help ("prodding" she calls it) of a dear friend, the end of The Novel is actually maybe almost potentially visible. Most of the time I feel like a Foolish Old Woman. Who said I could write a novel? But this story, this little fictional dog's story, wants to be told. It will not leave me alone. The characters are becoming as real as the ache in my shoulders as I hunch over the keyboard. They are with me when I drive and always tag along on our walks. They hover around as I write this blog, and they dance behind my eyelids when I try to fall asleep. They are taking over and are starting to write the story themselves. If only they would pitch in when I'm picking up poop...

This is my thank you note to all of you. It is very personal, and I feel more than a little vulnerable telling you how much I appreciate your support and your kindness.

It has been a fun six months. I am so enjoying the new people I've met, and of course the delightful dogs I've gotten to know. I love writing for you.

Oh, and as a thank you, I will randomly draw a name from the comments on this post (if you are loathe to comment, email me instead) and the winner will get a free, signed copy of Mama Pajama Tells A Story, or if you already have it, you can substitute two custom made collars! The drawing will be a week from today. Monday March 24. Good luck!

Thank you-

hug your hounds

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sammy's Very Long Day

I've plain old run out of adjectives. Stellar - used. Superstar - used. Sweet - used, used, used. OK, let's try this one: Sam I Am is spectacular.

Tracy Ross and Sam I Am at WKMS

On Monday, I was scheduled to do on-air fundraising for our local National Public Radio station, WKMS. Sam I Am was also scheduled to do his Therapy Dog visits at the hospital. You may have caught on by now, dear readers, that I have a propensity to over schedule myself just a bit. I thought we could start our visits at two, and be at the radio station by four. Sounds perfectly reasonable, I say.

Only everyone on the floor, including most of the staff, was eager for a dog visit and we didn't finish until 3:03 and it takes an hour to drive to the station. And park. Oh brother. And Sam I Am had been fantastic. He had done a couple of bed visits, one of which was rather intense, and he works so hard with every patient, but most of all during the bed visits. If the patient requests, and can't reach Sam any other way, I'll lift him up and lie him next to the patient on the bed. He is an angel. He lies absolutely still, in sphinx position, but still totally engages with his patient. One of his bed visits that day was a large man covered with scary tattoos, whose arms didn't work so well. But he was so happy to see the dog. His attempts at patting Sam's gentle head were clumsy and slightly off target, but Sam beamed enthusiastically and nudged his hand when he stopped.

"I love dogs," the big tattooed man said. That was all he said, but he kept on patting Sam, getting a little better at his aim. Sam I Am didn't move a muscle, except to use his pointy schnoz to nudge his encouragement.

After telling Sam how proud I was of him all the way out to the van, and giving him five of his very favorite biscuits, off we zoomed heading south and west. There was no way I could take Sammy home, drop him off, and get to the radio station anywhere near on time. As I drove, peeking at him already sound asleep in his crate, I sure didn't want to reward his efforts by leaving him alone in the van for two and a half hours. If I had brought some of his buddies along, he wouldn't have minded at all, but alone... That just didn't seem right.

"Hi, oh, no I'm not calling in a pledge. This is Patience Renzulli and I'm on my way to help with fund raising. Is Kate or Ronda there? No? Oh hi, Stephanie, I'm on my way, um, could I bring my dog in? He's a Therapy Dog and he was just at the hospital and he had a shower this morning and he's very good, and I ran out of time and I don't want to leave him in the van for two hours. Yes? Oh thank you so much! He won't be any trouble, I promise. Thank you!"

I stopped and got a bucket of chicken and three sides for the hard working staff and students at WKMS, and schlepped Sam, the food, a bag of biscuits, and a sheepskin up to the eighth floor of the Price Doyle Fine Arts Building. Everyone was very kind. Most people were delighted to meet him. I set the people food on the break area counter and plopped the sheepskin down next to "my" chair. I asked Sam to "down" and gave him three more biscuits, and put my headphones on just as All Things Considered host Tracy Ross said, "I'm joined in the studio by Ronda Gibson and Patience Renzulli and we have just over $9000 left in our Spring fundraising goal of $100,000."

We begged and pleaded with the listeners to contribute, and during the times when the National feed was on air folks came and visited with Sam. Or I'd take him around and sneak him a french fry or a bite of Extra Crispy skin. He and I shared a cup of water. And then it was time to go back into the studio, back on the sheepskin, back on the air.

We were keeping Sam's presence a secret, and then Tracy played a commentary of mine, Dream on, Old Dog and we got some generous callers, and then Ronda blew our cover. She admitted that she'd been enjoying the company of a sweet Therapy Dog named Sam I Am right there in the studio. Well then the phones started to ring.

We did pretty well. I don't know that I'll ever be asked back to fund raise. But I have an idea that Sam I Am surely will be.

He is such a good dog. Such a gift.

hug your hounds

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


We went to the Kennel Club property today. All nine dogs and I. Usually, I take the three youngsters, Sam I Am, Swede William and Lindy Loo, and the object of the trip is to run. And run and run. I throw toys and encourage zoomies and throw more toys. And if I do take more than three dogs, I only put them out in groups of two or three at a time, to avoid high speed collisions or disagreements.

It was beautiful today. I don't mean nice, I mean if today were a food it would be home grown fresh gigantic strawberries dipped in Godiva chocolate, chilled, and with the juice running down your chin. Sixties. Warm sweet sunshine. Light blessed breeze.

I took them all.

I tossed their regular toys in the fenced area, and I set up my dog show folding chair and plopped my camera on it. I filled a bucket with water and clipped it to the fence. I had thought about bringing my book, but decided against it. I would just sit and watch my dogs.

I brought them all out of the van and into the yard. It was a little bit gutsy of me. If someone had started mad zoomies, disaster might have ensued. For once in my life, I didn't dwell on the worst case scenario; I sat in my dog show folding chair and I enjoyed the day. I enjoyed the dogs.

There were some mini zoomies, but Madame Fun Police Delia said, "Oh, I think not! Not on my watch." She wouldn't bother Sam, or Fat Charlie or Luciano. She was intent on keeping the young 'uns, William and Lindy Loo in line. Very Old Dog and Maria appreciated this. They walked and trotted around the perimeter with their noses in the grass, stopping to press their nostrils down into the dirt after a scratch to release the fresh scent. They don't see so well, and their hearing is diminished, but those noses are just fine. The smells of exquisite earth and spring roots must have taken those two old dogs right back to their grand glory days.

Mama Pajama was one of the finest running whippets in the country. That little dog was fearless, focused, and flat out fast. But since her illness, she has not enjoyed being in any situation which could involve being accidentally crashed into. When I've brought her to the Kennel Club property before, she would wait anxiously at the gate to go back in the van. It would take much coaxing to get her to play, and then only if she were alone in the fenced area. But today, maybe since zoomies were at a minimum, or perhaps because I was sitting in a chair instead of hurling toys like a pitching machine gone spastic, Mama Pajama enjoyed herself. She too sniffed and snuffled along the entire fence line, sometimes lifting her lovely head as high as she could, savoring some airborne aroma floating by.

We had no agenda. After a while, Mama Pajama, who is usually off by herself in the house, climbed up in my lap and settled there. Very Old Dog, who is perpetually, trippably* glued to me at home, wandered the far reaches of the enclosure, never giving my whereabouts a first thought, much less a second. Maria roached and rolled, and then her daughter Delia and great granddaughter Lindy Loo plopped down and copy-catted, for a roach-a-rama threesome. Swede William and Lindy Loo would grab a toy and do mini zoomies, avoiding Delia, only to have special Luciano swoop down and steal the toy right from their mouths. He'd smile triumphantly with a mouth full of stuffie, and then lose interest and drop it.

Fat Charlie ran and played and grinned at me and then flattened himself in homage to his God, the sun. He let his dear sister Mama Pajama hump him in high spirits. She only does it for a couple of seconds, and only when she's exceedingly happy, and only to him. He played a little with the young 'uns, and chased Sammy for a bit. But mostly he laid his angelic self down, right near my chair, and smiled his pleasure.

And dear Sam I Am. He had worked hard the last two days. At the hospital, at the women's shelter, and even at the Public Radio station, where he helped with the Spring fund raising. He was never without a squeaky toy in his mouth. He sopped up the ablutionary rays of that glorious southern sun and filled his lungs with cleansing country air. He relaxed. So did I.

Hug your hounds.

*I made that word up, but I like it.

Your turn #1

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hug your hounds