Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fun Monday # 11

This Fun Monday is extra fun, because one of my favorite blogs is hosting: The Lurchers. AOJ assigns:

  • All I want you to do is take me on your favourite walk. In words or pictures. Or both of course! Tell me why it's your favourite and point out things of interest on the way.

I've taken you dear readers along on so many walks! As I was leaving a comment on another Fun Monday post, I realised that I am so addicted to walking; I can't imagine my life without it, and if a terrible rainstorm robs me of my walk I feel like I didn't quite have enough air to breathe that day. I'm going to cheat a bit; the following post was from my first week of blogging last September, when I had, oh, two readers (my husband and myself). I think it is perfect for today's assignment, so here it is.

Walk-o-rama in Squirrel City

It is up to me to walk all of the nine dogs this morning. Bill has to go in for some early morning blood tests and he can't have coffee, so he's not going to walk his usual two.This arrangement does not please Delia, who adopted Bill as her Own Human, and the affront of his early morning departure, coupled with the poor substitution of me as her walking companion is nearly too much. To make it even worse, she has to go on the second walk. Humph! Pee-yew to the Inferior Human.

I've been walking the grownups in pairs, although the last walk includes the two yearlings plus Sam I Am. There was a time, back on the farm, when I walked all eight, plus (Saint) Opie the big old black lab, at once. But that was at the farm, and if they took off and dragged my well-padded butt across some plowed field in pursuit of deer, rabbits, ground hogs, or fox, we might emerge bruised and battered, but at least we would emerge. Here, in the city, if they drag me into the street, and there's a truck coming, well it's not a pretty picture.

And then there's the noise factor. We feel compelled to sound the GREAT VERMIN ALERT at the sighting of any squirrel, evil horrible cat, or hairy dog, and we've been known to be fooled by Blowing Trash. And we can make some noise. I have been training them to be quiet by carrying pockets full of treats. If they see any of the Great Vermin subspecies, and they don't bark, they get a treat. It's worked better than any other method I have tried. The 'head bop' method simply taught them to duck while they screamed. And lordy it was a mess when I forgot I had the poop bag in my hand and I bopped Luciano on the head and the poop bag exploded. That was not a good method.

Walking in smaller groups greatly decreases the noise factor, and a pair of dogs doesn't get nearly as riled as a pack of nine.

I did decide to walk in threes this morning. Call me lazy. First three consisted of Giacomino, Maria, and Mama Pajama. The cumulative ages (not counting me) top thirty-six years. Thirteen and a half, twelve and more than a half, and ten and a half. [update: now they are fourteen, thirteen and two months shy of eleven.] That's a lot of dog years. In people years they would be ninety-eight, ninety-one, and seventy-three. In deference to Mama Pajama, we went around two blocks instead of one. On the last leg, a Stupid City Squirrel decided to jump out on the sidewalk ten feet in front of us. Ouch! (Instinct propels the dogs forward playing havoc with my decrepit shoulders.) Good dogs! They regain their brain function and turn to look for their no barking treats. Ouch! Mama Pajama likes a little blood gravy with hers: chomp. I am nonetheless delighted with their restraint.

Then a big treat. Neighbor Lorrie is out in her yard. Lorrie is one of Mama Pajama's Very Favorite People in the Whole World. My little dog wiggles and wags and grins, and praises me for having found Lorrie, and goes back to wagging her delight at Lorrie. Lorrie makes a great fuss over the little sweetheart, and then Lorrie and I catch up.

I have no doubt that I missed the dogs' hints. Lorrie and I were talking away, and I'm quite certain that the dogs were trying to get my attention."You-hoooo??? Hello, idiot Human? Anyone home in la la land? Do you hear that? Do you have a single scent gland in your entire olfactory system? Ears, please?"

"Blah, blah, blah." I was talking to my friend in total oblivion.

So, Mama Pajama sounded the full GREAT VERMIN ALERT.

"Wow," said Lorrie, hands over her ears.

Once a month on the first Saturday at noon, since we live in Tornado country and have a nuclear plant next door, they test the Emergency Alert Siren System. (This can be quite disconcerting to people who have moved here from other parts and don't know it is a test.) The sirens can be heard for miles. They don't hold a candle to Mama Pajama's GREAT VERMIN ALERT.

"Oh, man!" cried Lorrie as blood from her ruptured eardrums trickled through her fingers. "She is loud!"

The Stupid City Squirrel hopped along the telephone wires overhead. I wished he would get electrocuted. (I'm sorry, but I really did.) Giacomino and Maria are head butting me for their treats, because they haven't made a sound. I am mortified as it is only 7:30 in the morning, and this is not at all neighborly.

"Later, Lorrie," I say, dragging the dogs the half a block home. Mama Pajama's eyes are shining; it's been a great morning for her, so far.

Next walk was Mama Pajama's brother Fat Charlie, and the much miffed Delia and her brother Luciano. "Well, it is high time," sniffs Delia. "Second group, indeed. Humph and grumble." But then we're out the gate and heading down the sidewalk and all is forgiven. And there are squirrels everywhere. What is it, National Torment Dogs Day in squirreldom? And I don't help matters. When I see a squirrel or cat as we walk along, I let out an involuntary gasp, usually coupled with an expletive. I can't help it. If the dogs haven't already seen the critter, my gasping and expleting sets them in a fit. They know what it means. In fact, you can sit in the TV room, amid somnolent dog bodies, and I can gasp an expletive and the entire pack will explode and run around looking for vermin. Then they realize they are in the TV room and I have played a joke on them and they shoot me "how could you" looks and try to find a better place to lie down than the one they just vacated.

But the three dogs were fantastic, and I managed to sing songs the whole time to distract myself from gasping and we did fine.

(to the tune of Home on the Range)
Oh give me a home where the squirrellies don't roam
And the sidewalks are all free from prey!
Where the cats stay inside
And the loose dogs all hide
And in peace we would walk everyday...

Only two and a half more miles to go. The third group. I stuffed my pockets full of Really Yummy Treats. I sang. First thing the neighbor's cat comes trotting down the sidewalk towards us. Gasp, expletive, BACK TO SINGING IN A SHOUT:


The dogs, along with the workers on the roof next door, look a little frightened of me. I'm a little frightened of me. I have no effect on the squirrels or cats, alas. We must have passed twenty of them. I handed out treat after treat, and I beamed at the dogs. Good dogs! Wonderful dogs! We pass a couple of hairy dogs and we don't make a sound. My nerves are frazzled to the point where I'm quite positive that you can see sparks flying out the top of my head, the ends of my fingers, and probably out my butt too, but the dogs, bless them, haven't screamed once.

And people say, "It's so nice you can walk with your lovely dogs. Isn't it a great way to relax?"


If you would like to read my other dog walking stories, click HERE. And be sure to visit The Lurchers to read the other Fun Monday participants! And, as always,

hug your hounds

Friday, April 25, 2008

I flew to Oregon for the annual American Whippet Club National Specialty Show. It is the first time since 1995 that I haven't shown my dogs at the National. Mama Pajama was second in the Triathlon twice, and sweet Giacomino was Best In Field when the National was in California ten years ago. Bill and I drove to San Diego from our farm in Maryland with the whole waggle, which was six whippets back then, and we had a ball. I also usually set up a booth where I sell my collars and leads and lots, lots, more. It is a grand time seeing folks I can only talk to on email groups the rest of the year, and seeing so many lovely dogs. When 600 whippets converge on a hotel for a week, it is quite the sight!

But this year the price of gas was simply prohibitive. And it is Quilt Week in Paducah, meaning that our town goes from about 36,000 to 76,000 or more. The Quilters come to town by the bus load for the American Quilt Society's show. Leaving Bill with nine dogs for the entire week when he would be extending his hours in the gallery to accommodate the hoards of visitors would not be nice. Not nice at all.

But, I needed to be at the Whippet National for the Board meeting and the Annual meeting, so I decided to fly out. I would drive the two and a half hours to the Nashville Airport, fly to Denver and then to Portland, where I would rent a car for the first time and then drive the two hours from Portland to the hotel in Eugene. Simple.

By some miracle I packed the night before. I could leave our house at ten in the morning and be allowing myself plenty of time for the economy parking option. I had already printed my boarding passes. I woke at seven just because it was time to wake. I scritched Very Old Dog on his butt, and to my abject delight, he did rollies and play bit my hand. It was a treasured game from his youth, with which he hadn't indulged me in months. He was always delighted to see suitcases, because he always went on the trip.

Downstairs we all went, out to potty, and in for breakfast. I was pouring the kibble into the dishes when Giacomino just fell down. I didn't see it happen; I heard it. And he was up on his feet instantly.

What on earth?

I continued with the breakfast fixing, and within another sixty seconds, he fell down again. This was not good. I supported him between my knees and finished fixing the bowls. I had to support him to eat, as he fell a third time while I put down the other dogs' dishes. Thinking, I was thinking.

I helped Giacomino into the kitchen to a bed. I told Bill that vestibular disease is not uncommon in old whippets, and I thought our sweet Very Old Dog might have a case. I looked at his eyes for nystagmus, and didn't see any, but then sure enough, his left eye started a rhythmic dancing pulse to the left and back, ever so slight.

"That's it, Bill. He must have labyrinthitis. Oh God, I shouldn't go." Then the sweet dog vomited his entire breakfast, and within a minute, both eyes were moving so violently that the poor guy's whole head was shaking side to side, side to side, side to side. It was awful. I called my vet and left a message with the answering service. It was only 7:12. He had gone from happy to this state in twelve minutes.

I said, "I'm going to take my shower quickly, in case I need to take him in, honey. Can you sit with him?" Bill took my place on the kitchen floor next to Very Old Dog's bed. I ran upstairs and I swear I did get wet, and soap and shampoo were both involved, but I ran back down the stairs at 7:17. What I saw stunned me. Giacomino was flinging himself over and over on the hard kitchen tile, (like a child rolling down a steep grassy hill, log rolling style) and Bill was trying to keep him still, totally without success. I gasped.

When a panicked person writes on Whippet lists that their senior whippet suddenly couldn't stand and they fear a stroke or brain tumor, I have frequently been the person who suggests that it could be Vestibular disease, and not to be too afraid. Just get the dog to the vet. That was my advice on a number of occasions. But when I saw my dear, sweet Very Old Dog flipping himself around on the kitchen floor, I was the panicked one. I scooped him up and ran for the van, only to realize that there was no way I could get him in a crate without him seriously injuring himself.

Bill still had his jammies on. He drove and I held Beans on my lap. I just knew I would not be bringing him home and I tried to be calm and cheerful for him. I tried to be. I failed miserably, but I tried.

I've mentioned on these pages that I love my vets, dear readers. I love my vets. Ol' Poke 'n Stick wasn't in yet, but Dear Doc took us right back, saying, "Don't you have a plane to catch?" I said I didn't think I'd be taking any planes today.

Dear Doc got to work examining Giacomino, and when she looked at his eyes jerking jerking jerking sideways and back, she said, "Oh you poor fellow!" She listened to the history and examined him carefully.

"This is classic, classic vestibular syndrome, Patience," she said. "He's going to be fine. Really. We'll get some meclizine in him and he will be absolutely fine. Honest. You go on your trip. He'll be fine."

And when I left at 10:30 he was already resting more comfortably. And Bill called me an hour later as I crossed into Tennessee to tell me that his eyes had already stopped moving. Completely. Bill pampered him and carried him up and down the stairs, and every time I called, he said that Very Old Dog was just fine, eating up a storm, and happy.

I got home at 1:50 this morning. It was a long two and a half hours back from Nashville. Bill was waiting up for me in the kitchen. The dogs all were asleep in our bedroom. I tippy-toed in but they all woke up. I kissed the nine noses. Giacomino was sound asleep, and looked up at me a little foggy eyed, like, "Where have you been? I've been on one wild ride!"

It is good to be home.

Hug your hounds

Home Again

Just got home from a whirlwind trip from our home in western Kentucky to Eugene, Oregon and back. I was naked as could be, traveling without any dogs.

We had a scary emergency on Monday morning, so before I headed for the airport, Bill in his jammies drove Very Old Dog and me to the vet. I will write about that tonight. He is doing GREAT now.

The hot news which can't wait is that yesterday, Xela won another race at Keeneland!!!! Jake and Xela are two for two! This race was even harder (against faster horses) and he won AGAIN!!! Holy SCHMOLY!!!

Here he is after the race with my son of whom I am so PROUD!!!

You can really see how small Xela is in this photo. and he ran against the BIG BOYs yesterday and he beat them and how!

I'll be back with a story later tonight. Just couldn't WAIT for this news.
Hug your hounds and your horses and your kids and your sweet spouses and your friends and shoot, just hug everything that moves today!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fun Monday # 10

Our host for this week's Fun Monday is a Southern Doll

Here is what she wants to know:

  • What have you done in your life that was worth doing? I want to know the moments in your life that you hope will be the ones to pass through your mind when your time comes. I hope that doesn't sound too morbid. This doesn't necessarily have to be items you have checked off your Bucket List, it can be those small moments that made you smile, or the time you got that huge promotion you deserved, or the first time your baby smiled at you out of pure joy. I want to know all the moments, big and small, that make life sweet! If you don't already have a running list of these in your mind, you should! These moments help you remember how much your life is worth living, and we all deserve to enjoy it.

Oh, ugh. I don't mean ugh to the idea or assignment. Just, oh, ugh.

I used to ride horses. I used to live and breathe horses. The moment that the first foal that was born into my excited, frightened, incredulous arms will be with me always. I named her Naughty Marietta for my mom, who had died years before. (And for Gilbert and Sullivan, of course.) Actually, thinking about it now, I realize that I can close my eyes and bring back the birth of every foal. The smell of the deep nights after the nervous, exhausted, repeated walk out to the barn alone. Every two hours for a week or more. And sometimes I would wrap up in a cooler - a type of thick wool horse blanket - and sleep the rest of the night in the stall. The sounds, the same in every stable in the world, and the heart scents, and the expectant peace. I will take that all with me. I had some fun wins in competition, but when I remember what I loved, it's those quiet times in the barns.

[Stay with me.]

What I value most in my life are the friendships. My most intimate friendship is with Bill. That he values me, knowing all he knows about my shortcomings, doesn't make a lick of sense to me, but he does and oh Lordy am I lucky! I invest a great deal in my friendships. My adult son is a terrific friend. I've enjoyed the transformation of the parental role into less of a see-saw relationship. When I had to move away from my friends - Bill's daughters, Jake's old ponies, and the women who were closer to me than siblings - I floundered. See? Now this is already getting all maudlin; I knew it would.


OK. What I'm really proud of is the mastery I've accomplished at the wielding of the pooper scooper. This was not always so. Until Jim and Sue visited in the fall of '06, I owned no such instrument. I picked up my yard via the Baggie Method. Jim said this would not do, and trundled me down to the pet supply store and found me just the right rake and scoop. And two white five gallon buckets with lids. And I was set. Only for months I flicked poop everywhere but in the scoop. "It's all in the wrist," Jim tutored. I watched him deftly flick a turd, plink, right in the dead center of the scoop. I watched me flick one over the scoop and bonk down my pants leg. And they would get stuck between the tines of the rake. It would take me six, seven, ten flicks per poop, and there I'd be, in my city yard, in my red flannel paws and bones print jammies for all the world and folks driving to work to see, flicking turds here, there and everywhere but the damned thing at which I uselessly aimed.

No more, dear readers, no more! I now can execute ca-ca cleanup with my eyes closed. I've added flourishes for fun. I twirl around my scoop, clicking my heels, a Gene Kelly, singing in the shit and sometimes in the rain, too! Then I use my rake as a jaunty Three Musketeers type of sword. (Why did the Three Musketeers have sword fights, anyway? Shouldn't they have had musket fights?) Take that, poo poo! Into the scooper with you! "What a glorious feeling, I'm happy as spit!"

In one smooth motion, I do an overhead double back spin, catching the crap with the scoop behind my back, and wave to the stupified Trolley driver with the rake as he pulls away from the stop at our corner. Then, wanting to top that for the Mail Lady, I do a flying camel followed by a triple toe loop and plop goes the poop in the scooper. I scoop in evening gowns, just because I can. When I smile as I scoop, a sparkle flies off my tooth, like in a cartoon, and you hear a little "ding!" People come from miles around, to marvel at the poop free yard which houses nine whippet feces factories. Occasionally, I fly out of the back door, crying "Hi Ho, Scooper, away!" and zoom the poop is scooped, and bewildered passersby cry, "Who was that masked dooer of good deeds?"

I am the Queen of Poo.

Top that.

(See if anyone did at Southern Doll's blog.)

hug your hounds

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Just Some Photos

Apologies if you were coming here looking for a literary gem. Today I am sharing the pictures of the Birthdays, and I hope you enjoy them.

The Birthday Dogs at the Kennel Club Property, worshipping the Sun.

Sam I Am squeaks.

Very Old Dog remembers.

Lindy Loo exalts.

There were gifts from our friends Karen and Steve. Is that not the coolest lamb in the world?

The HUGE pot of beef and rice and carrots.

There was folderol and excitation.

I cut up the beef and added the veggies.

Had to have a little celebratory Bowser Beer with dinner!

Very Old Birthday Dog approved.

So did Sam I Am.

And for dessert, there were naps all around.
Hug your hounds

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Dog Day

We didn't have a party for the birthdays. We didn't have a people party, I should say.

The dogs and I went out to the Kennel Club Property. It was an absolutely lovely day. Mid sixties, with sun that was warmer than that by far, but constant cool breezes kept us in perfect comfort. When I turned the dogs out into the large fenced area, I had to consciously remind myself that they were, in fact, dogs. I looked out at the herd of sleek shapes with their heads down grazing, and my brain saw a paddock full of tiny horses. It was good spring grass, though, and nobody puked. They simply enjoyed the tender shoots.

We nearly didn't make it. I had to retrieve a shipping container from the attic. I was stubbornly attempting to get the attic steps down by myself. (The ceilings upstairs in this old house are eleven feet, and the attic stairs fold up in one of those pull down doors. Eleven feet of fold up stairs are heavy and hard to manage, and my shoulders don't work so well.) Bill was encouraging me to let him help, and I was crying about something totally unrelated and not listening to reason, and I fell off the little step ladder and the stairs came crashing down on my head. Then I let Bill help. And he is such a kind man, that he didn't call me a stupid idiot or fall down laughing.

It seems like we only just celebrated Giacomino's thirteenth and Sammy's fifth birthdays. I have lost great chunks of this year. January and February completely elude me. I looked at their papers, to make absolutely certain, and it's true. They are fourteen and six. Giacomino's sister Lilly is Sammy's mom Jessie's mom. Dogs are only pregnant for sixty-three days, and Lilly only came in season every ten months and she was only bred one time. Jessie only had one litter, too. What are the chances that Lilly's grandpuppies would be born on her birthday? Is there a mathematician among you, dear readers?

I think it was a little miracle.

Sam and his great uncle's births couldn't have been more different, though. We rescued Giacomino and his brother Jazzbo from a "breeder" who sold their littermates to a pet store when they were five and one half weeks old. It's too long a story for the blog; I knew better than to buy the puppies from the pet store, but I threw up in the pet store's trash can one day. They didn't sell any more whippets after that. Giacomino was starved and filthy and full of worms and worried. Whippet puppies should be little pudge balls. He was skin and bones. This "breeder" also bred and sold pit bulls, and the whippet puppies didn't come out very high on the food chain.

Sam I Am, on the other hand, was born into the best of worlds. His Nana Linda and her anesthesiologist husband delivered the first puppy while the three midwives raced down I-95 at four in the morning. Jessie did a stupendous job and popped those puppies out bing, bam, boom. (Linda had made the trip to Massachusetts in February with Jessie to be bred to Sammy's father in a blizzard alone. It turned out to be the same days that Bill and I had come to visit Paducah for the first time, and I wasn't there for my friend. I would be there for the birth.) Jessie's seven puppies were born and were so beautiful and healthy, we were wild with happy relief and excitement. The x-ray had predicted seven. Jessie started to push again, and we figured it was the missing placenta. "This placenta has a head," I exclaimed, and out slipped Sam I Am.

Giacomino (for new readers, that is pronounced Jocko-MEENo and he's also called Very Old Dog in these writings) has been my shadow for fourteen years. He also won a Hound Group, and finished his Championship, owner-handled, and his Field Championship in AKC and his Lure Courser of Merit in ASFA, and got his obedience title, and was Best In Field at the American Whippet Club National Specialty in California. Meaning we spent a lot of time together, having the time of our lives. And he did all that before he was six, when an injury put a stop to any sort of competition.

And now Sam is six, and he's the very first Agility dog, and the very first Therapy Dog. (Well, Giacomino was a certified Therapy dog, but he only saw the patients in our office.) And Sam is so like his great uncle. It's uncanny.

I thought about all of that, and more, as I sat in the grass today watching the dogs. The young ones (Sam is still included in that group) ran with their squeaky toys and rolled in not too stinky stuff. The seniors walked around and smelled county smells and smiled a lot. A very kind neighbor has been visiting Giacomino and working on his meridians and his Chakra to help him with his thunderphobia. He's been sleeping better since she started. He proved that by flopping on his side in the sun and closing his happy eyes.

I bought a big hunkin' huge piece of pot roast on the way home. I had a Board Meeting to go to, and we had stayed late enjoying the sun. The dogs were hungry and didn't want to wait for the rice to cook and for me to cut up the humongo beef, so I gave them their regular food. Bill had pasta (with you guessed it broccoli rabe yum) ready when I got home, and it had a bacon garnish. We're disgustingly fair around here. If one dog gets to lick a plate, nine dogs get to lick a plate.

But tonight, when the rest of the dogs were outside, Giacomino got a whole slice of bacon, and so did Sam I Am.

And that was OK. Ain't life grand?

Hug your hounds

[good photos credit Laurie Erickson. snapshots me]

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Big Day

Happy Fourteenth Birthday, Very Old Dog.

Sweet old dog running in the sun last fall.


Happy Sixth Birthday, Sam I Am

Sam I Am is a joy and my buddy.

Asta sent Sam this darling card:

I'll write about their special day tomorrow.

hug your hounds

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Family and Friends

We had a wonderful visit from Bill's cousins Joan and Dan, and Joan's husband Angelo last week. They drove all the way from South Jersey (which, like Western Kentucky, is its own state) to bring us a freshly picked crop of broccoli rabe.

The dogs know that something of great import is simmering whenever I clean the guest room. It is normally the one room in the house off limits to dogs, so when the door opens and the Electrolux attacks, they know fun is afoot.

This puts them in a rather high state of spirits by the time the guests arrive. (Coupled with the fact that I usually spend the forty-eight hours before said arrival frantically cleaning the rest of the house, leaving no time for normal dog activities.) So when the cousins walked in, weary from their two day drive, the dogs were tuned, tuned, tuned.

"Company!" shouted all nine whippets. "Welcome to our happy home! Let us show you our gladness and glee by screaming hello in your ears and jumping on you and each other and creating havoc and general disorder!"

The cousins don't have dogs.

But, as you no doubt have guessed, cousins who will drive 980 miles to bring fresh produce are the best sports in the world. And they pretended not to mind being treated like so many pins in a whippet bowling alley.

A great good time was had, along with the consumption of much broccoli rabe. Our friends Karen and Steve came over to join us and Karen decorated Sam I Am in her napkin. This doesn't exactly pertain to this story, but the picture is so darn cute.

(Karen is an artist here in Paducah. She made her bracelet. It is enamel on silver. I covet it.)

The dogs adored the cousins. And the cousins said kind things, like, "These dogs are so well behaved. They're so soft." (The cousins had gotten over their excessive welcome by this point.)

It was a wonderful visit. Our freezer is stocked with a year's supply of broccoli rabe. And we are chock full of smiles and gratitude.

Cousin Joan gets a sweet kiss from Lindy Loo

hug your hounds

Monday, April 14, 2008

Keeneland Photos

(Someday I will go back to writing dog stories.)

First, thank you to dear reader Gail D. for sending me these photos she took at Keeneland when she was there last autumn.

This is the infield, which was brilliant spring Bluegrass green last week

And this is the paddock, where Jeannie and I got to play big shots, while Jake and the other trainers saddled the horses. Thank you again, Gail; it's fun to show these.

Looky what Jake emailed me last night.

This is after the 16th pole when the big dark bay horse had caught up with him, and Xela (pronounced "Zella," by the way) was taking off again.

This is the official win photo, showing the finish line on top, and the Winner's Circle underneath.

Closer of the Winners Circle. (And you can click to enlarge; use your back button to return.)
L to R - One of Jake's other owners, the Friendly Tour Bus Driver, Jeannie, Jake's kind mentor (in the hat and shades), smilin' mom, Jake's awesome groom, Xela, rider John McKee, Jake.

And finally, a close up of the official win photo. I didn't notice what Jake had the photographer do, until I was printing the photo. "Mom's Day at Keeneland" appears on the official photo!! How fun and crazy is that?

Thank you for sharing this fun day, this miraculous minute and ten seconds with me. No matter how well prepared a trainer has a horse, there is still racing luck. A horse can stumble coming out of the starting gate. A horse can get bumped or squeezed. A rider can not follow instructions. A million little things can go wrong.

If you click to enlarge the next to the last photo, and look at Jake's face, I think you can see all of the things which went wrong last year. Right after the photo was taken Jeannie asked him how he felt, and he said, "It hasn't set in yet. Ask me again when I come to visit at Christmas." I can see that in the photo.

Now, he's smiling. I haven't stopped.

Hug the everlovin' daylights out of your hounds

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fun Monday # 9

It's already time for Fun Monday! This week's hosts are the Nekked Lizards, and they came up with this assignment:

  • Any 5 (FIVE) pictures, any subject, and any 5 (FIVE) words to describe and/or explain each picture.

Sounds simple, but for a word monger like me... quite the challenge.

* * *

Loved ferociously.
* * *

Old. Every day, a gift.

* * *

Bill's talent storm,
sees light.

* * *
Proud proud proud grateful proud.

* * *

Love the view. Times three.

* * *
Photo credits: (1) Steve Surfman (2) Laurie Erickson (3) WF Renzulli, MD, PSA (4) friend of Jake's (5) me

Now you can go to the Nekked Lizards' page to find the rest of the Fun Monday's fun participants.

hug your hounds

Wednesday, April 9, 2008



This is not a dog story, and for that I beg your forgiveness and patience, dear readers. This is a son story, a grand little horse with a big heart story, and a story full of kind people.

I drove to Lexington and back today. My generous and kind friend Jeannie got up at oh dark thirty to go with me. My son had a horse running in the first race at Keeneland.

If you are a race horse trainer, having a horse run at Keeneland is a big deal. But if you are a young race horse trainer whose successful business imploded and vanished after a pile of bad luck so despicable as to have made Job himself shake his head in disbelief, then having a horse run at Keeneland is a huge big deal.

So Jeannie and I piled into Bill's "babe machine" (the Buick Rendezvous, which looks like a Gremlin on steroids) and headed East. Bill would be gone most of the day as he was juroring an art show in the middle of the state. Our kind and wonderful friend Karen let my dogs out at lunch time to potty. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to go. I got to take the Rendezvous, because Jeannie's husband Harvey drove Bill to the art show. Otherwise, I would have had to take the van, which would have been $200 in gas, and I wouldn't have been able to go.

I have to say here, dear readers, that I have been sick with worry for my son. I don't know how he survived the past year. I would not have. But he lives and breathes horses. He loves horses. He "gets" horses. He wants nothing else in life but to train race horses and to do it well. So he started all over. He persevered.

The four and a half hour drive flew by this morning. Jeannie and I talked and lucky Paul Simon sang. My nerves got more and more jangly. It had been seven months since Jake had run a horse, and this was only the second time ever that I would get to see it in person. I'd watched his races on the Internet and had made my poor Bill think that I was being torn limb from limb when he'd innocently come into the house, and I'd be shouting in my little room, "GO! GO! OH MY GOD! Youcango you go aooohhhhhhaoooahahaaaaaaaaaaa Yayayayayay!!!"

We pulled up to the barn, and my handsome son looked cool. If you didn't know him like I do. I saw a man who had everything on the line. He was stretched like a tight rope, but he was calmly rubbing liniment on his horse, putting wraps on his legs, giving his groom last minute instructions.

"He looks great, Jake."


Jeannie and I got to be in the beautiful Keeneland Paddock like a couple of big shots as Jake saddled the horse and gave the jockey a few words. "Just let him run his race. He's got a lot of heart. If he's in the middle of the pack don't abuse him, just bring him back safe. But I think he'll run big today." He gave the rider a leg up and we went into the Clubhouse. Jeannie placed her good luck bet. I don't bet. But I remembered something from when I was sixteen and saw my first ever horse race. I got to the window and said "five dollars to win on number two, please."

We stood at the front watching the horses warm up. I was only watching one little chestnut horse with a number two on his saddle pad and a white bridle on. I was so nervous at this point that I thought vomit might spew out my eyeballs and my butt and my ear holes and my arm pits. That's nervous.

A man in his early seventies walked up to Jeannie and me and pointed at the embroidery on his jacket, saying something about being a tour bus driver and having a safe driving record for forty-nine years. He said he'd bet on the one, three and nine in a boxed trifecta.

"You have to bet on the two!" cried Jeannie. "Her son trains that horse."

Tour Bus Driver Man looked at me and asked if he should bet number two.

I tried not to vomit as I explained the horse was coming off a five month lay off and this was my son's first ever start at Keeneland.

Tour Bus Driver Man pointed to his baseball hat which spelled "GAP". "God Answers Prayers," he said.

I don't bother God with prayers for dog shows and horse races. If I were God and had prayers from mothers with sons in Iraq and Dar Fur and Guantanamo to work on, I'd be right peeved at prayers for dog shows and horse races. But I'd been praying for my son "pretty regular" for a good while.

I said, "I tell you what. You send a prayer up. And if this horse wins, you come down in the Winner's Circle and get in the win photo with us."

Jake came back from the racing office and we ran upstairs to watch from behind the boxes. And the horses were in the starting gate and they were off. The white bridle burst out of the starting gate and was second by just a head, and the horses got in stride and the little chestnut was neck and neck for the lead. I pounded on Jeannie's shoulder blades "Go, Xela! Go!" and the little chestnut colt got his nose in front rounding the turn and Jake whispered, "Be a race horse, buddy, be a race horse now," and I beat poor Jeannie's back purple and I yelled, "GO, XELA! GO! GO XELA OH MY GOD GO!" and then a big strapping big bay colt, number nine the favorite, came up and hooked the little chestnut, and I thought they were right at the wire, and I groaned, "Close, honey, there's going to be a photo," and Jake shouted, "It's Keeneland, it's a long stretch, that's the sixteenth pole, HE's GOT HIM!" and the little chestnut dug in when the jockey asked him to and pulled out and won by a length and a half, just like an answer to prayer. And I stopped beating on Jeannie and I hugged her and Jake grabbed me and he lifted my way up off the ground and he spun in a twirl with his old mom in the air and we ran down to the Winner's Circle.

We found Tour Bus Driver Man looking positively confounded with his winning ticket in his hand and I said, "Come on! Follow us!" I told Jake that there would be a very friendly Tour Bus Driver in the win picture and Jake shook his hand and said it was nice to meet him, no questions asked about why there was a friendly Tour Bus Driver in the win picture. Xela came back, and he had barely even broken a sweat, but his nostrils flared in that inspirational nobility of a race horse who knew he had won. Jake patted him, with respect, and whispered something to him.

People who were part of the Tour Bus Driver's touring group collected outside the Winner's Circle waiving their winning tickets, shouting, "Thanks for the tip, Eddy!"

One of Jake's mentors was there. A generous man who quietly had helped Jake get back on his feet. He pointed out during all the congratulating that Jake would have all kinds of friends today.

"Yes," I smiled to myself. "But only one Mom."

So I beg your forgiveness for not writing about dogs tonight. And I know I've missed Asta's coming home party, and I am sorry for that. But when Jake called me later, he was down at the barn holding Xela outside to graze on the spring grass. He wasn't up in the clubhouse getting pats on the back. He was letting the little chestnut horse with the big heart relax and eat grass.

And I just had to write about that.

to see photos of the day, go HERE.

Hug your hounds

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fun Monday # 8

This week's host is Jo Beaufoix and our assignment is:

I want to know about your first ‘celebrity’ crush. You know, the one you fancied from that band, or that film, or who read the news, or who won Gold at the Olympics. Did you have their pictures on your wall or in your locker? Did you dress like them, style or colour your hair like them, follow them, meet them, marry them? (It could happen.)
Photos of THEM would be good, photos of YOU at the time you liked them would be even better. Also, if you have time, I’d like to know whether they had any influence over your life, the person you became, or if they were just an embarrassing blip you would kind of rather forget about.

Here's the sad truth. I've racked my brains. Nope. None.

I loved the music of James Taylor, Cat Stevens, and Simon and Garfunkel, but I didn't love them.

I was too busy being horse crazy. I spent every waking moment at the barn. Really, I had a crush on a horse. and she was a little, wild thoroughbred who had put several other riders unceremoniously in the dirt. So they let me, the scholarship kid, ride her.

We understood each other perfectly.

I will tell you a funny story. I went to an all girls boarding school. My father was head of the math department and my mom was the nurse. (Hence the scholarship.) By senior year, everyone but I had been able to giggle about having some sexy dream about some movie star. Paul Newman was Deetzie's dream man. My sophomore year roommate was infatuated with Paul McCartney and would dream about him in various compromising situations weekly. Not me.

Then finally I realized I was having one of "those" dreams. I dreamed we were camp counsellors, but we were being paired up with movie stars as roommates! This was it! Someone got Robert Redford. Someone else got Gregory Peck. And even in my dream, Deetzie got Paul Newman. I waited. Who would I get? The next person got James Taylor. Oh my gosh, I could hardly stand myself! I was having a sexy dream, finally. In the dream, they called my name. I stepped forward, provocatively shy in a va va voom kind of way. I fiddled with my long, curly hair.

"Phil Silvers," they called out.

I stopped looking provocative and just looked stunned. That was the clear emotion as I dreamed: duh, huh? nuh-uh.

Sure enough Phil Silvers, Mr. No Time for Sergeants himself, appears and takes my hand and leads me to our camp cabin. I thought to my dreaming self, "Phil Silvers? I'm finally having a sexy dream and I get Phil Silvers? Nuh-UH!"

And I wasn't even fortunate enough to have it end there. Nope. My inaugural sexy dream had to go on. I could hear Deetzie giggling with Paul Newman in the next room. I looked at Phil Silvers. "Nuh-UH!"

I don't have a photo of me right here from that time period. (I graduated from high school in 1972.) But I do have a photo of my dog, Rex.

I wrote about him; he was a fantastic dog. Would have done better dreaming about some adventure or another with Rex.

But no. Phil Silvers.

Hug your hounds, awake or asleep

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Remember Elsa/Shelby/Elsa the starving rescue dog? Matt brought Elsa back this weekend to collect Molly (that's the sad part for us, but we're all very happy for Molly and Matt), and he brought Elsa's LARGE friend Roman, too. Roman is a neutered male Cane Corso, a type of Italian Mastiff. We all had a reunion at Deb and Merle's old house, and Elsa was so happy to see everyone! She'll take over from here.

I about turned inside out for Merle! That blur is my wagging tail. And yes, I am standing on my head.

Hi Deb! You still have treats? You do! Look how pretty I sit for you.

Yup, right there, Merle! You still got the touch!

Wheeeee! This is the hall I ran down all the time, Roman! Can't catch me!!!

He's rubbing ME now, my big slobbery friend! Wait your turn. Isn't my coat beautiful? And can you believe my muscles!

Pay no attention to the gigantic blue dog at your feet, Molly. I am SOOO glad we found you again. We must never ever lose you ever.

Here is my awesome, happy family. I have a family! No one can take it away. I am being the best dog in the world and I share with Roman and he's really kind of good company if you don't mind slobber, and I don't, and Molly and Matt love me and they are mine forever and I got to come say thank you to Deb and Merle and ... I wil never again look like when Deb and Merle found me

because I, Elsa Shelby Elsa have a family
and they love me
and I love them forever and ever

Elsa has been to her new vet at her new home, and has gained enough weight and is healthy enough to start her heartworm treatment. After she is all clear of heartworms, she can get spayed. And then, she can just be a happy, loved, loving dog.

It is purely a miracle.

hug your hounds, extra tight tonight!

Sleeping photos

Gaucho and Verdi who are fellow Dog Bloggers, asked to see photos of all the dogs sleeping. I'm pretty sure that's what they asked, but they asked it in Spanish, which none of us speak. Anyway, here is a feast of sleeping whippets:

Whippets snuggle when they sleep. (Delia and Very Old Dog)

Whippets sleep in piles.

Whippets sleep under covers.

Delia sleeps on Bill.
Whippets, like Swede William, sleep upside down.

Whippets sleep on cushy pillows. (Lindy Loo)

hug your snoring hounds