Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A LIttle Hero - Buddy

This week's iPet of the Week is Buddy, who actually saved his human's life.
What an honor it was to interview Buddy's dad. He is such a genuinely nice man, who clearly adores his dog. And Buddy is quite the terrier-ist! His favorite toy was a monkey which came with him when he arrived. All that is left is the decapitated head! And Buddy tosses it around the living room with abandon.
It's a great, magical story.
Hug your hounds

Monday, October 20, 2008


Bill is doing a marvellous job of posting about our trip to Italy, using the photos which I took. If you are curious about the places we saw, go have a quick look at

Here are the only photos of dogs I got on the whole trip:

This little fellow was at the villa where we stayed in Tuscany. He was a terrier cross but had long straight stringy hair. He wanted nothing to do with visitors.

I saw a few filthy Westies in Firenze (Florence) whose owners wanted nothing to do with anyone sporting a camera. (I really couldn't blame them. There were hundreds of thousands of us.)

I saw a number of dogs which looked like this guy. He was in Bill's grandparents home town of Castel Nuova. Well fed, well groomed, he was a sight for my sore heart!

This litte fellow was devoted to his mom, but petrified of everyone else.

And this gorgeous horse was our next door neighbor at Fonterutoli. He belonged to the vineyard's owner, but I enjoyed breathing and watching him.
hug your hounds

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Home Again

Thank you all for your kind understanding of my craziness!

Ariel, one of my dearest dear readers, left the following comment:
... you are SO lucky to be so happy with your life at home that you don't want to
leave it!

Yes! I am! And no, I don't!

Not that we didn't see beautiful places. Here is the sunrise from our last day in Castel Nuova:

Made even more special, knowing that Bill's grandparents looked at this same sunrise, 100 years ago.

Here at home, on this gorgeous autumn morning, are the views that make my heart feel whole.

Fat Charlie worships his god, the sun.

Maria says, "What?"

Friends stop by for kisses.
And a Very Old Dog, who was as goofy as a puppy on his walk this morning, won't stay far enough away from me to get a good picture.
Hug your hounds

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Heart Attack

No where else on Earth could I write the following and not be involuntarily committed to an inpatient Psych unit. Oh how I appreciate you, dear readers!

I can tell you that I spent a two week, most-expenses-paid trip in Italy, Italy for heaven's sake, feeling like my heart was being attacked.

OK, before even you get out the straight jacket for me, let me explain. That two week trip was the longest I had gone without hugging a dog and/or horse for forty-four years. If you count my first ever pets, my parakeet Birdie, and my cats Stripy and Blackie, (does this explain why my dogs now have names like Giacomino?) then it was the longest I had been without animal companionship in fifty years. I am fifty-four years old.

To see photos of the beautiful places we visited, and some beyond delightful plein-air drawings by my talented husband, check out his blog! (He'll enjoy the visitors, too!!!) We stayed a week in Tuscany, the glory of which has been the subject of great art and literature. We saw David in Florence, the Tower in Pisa, the Piazza in Siena, and vista after beautiful vista from our home base of Fonterutoli. (Font-uh-ROO-tuh-lee). There was a road, with its original stones, into this village built by the Romans in 900 A.D. (Bill has photos on his blog.)

We went to Rome and saw the sights. And we went to a wonderful village in the province of Puglia (POOO-lee-uh) where Bill's grandparents were born and raised. Twenty-one Renzullis met there for a family reunion. There were no other tourists (in fact at first the locals thought we were there to evangelize them! HA!) and the beauty of that place will stay with me for my life. Such was the magic in that town, that my heart felt the least attacked there. We could look out of our hotel window, see the 300 mile wide valley where most of the wheat for all of that Italian bread and pasta is grown, and far off in the distance see the Adriatic.

the view from our window

But through it all, I felt like I couldn't quite fill my lungs. As though I had been amputated. Not like I had lost a limb; rather, I was the limb, lying useless and severed. Disembodied.

Because of the immense generosity of my neice, Molly, I didn't have to worry about the health and safety of the dogs. They know her well, and adore her, and I trust her as I would no one else. I did worry that I had placed a terrible responsibility on her, and I overemphasized that I was leaving her with very fragile old dogs, whose every day was, at best, iffy, whether I was home or not. In my defense, it didn't help that we had very little Internet access during the whole stay. I went to a pay-and-show-your-passport place in the nearest town, and learned that Maria, who will be 14 in February, had been vomiting and had stayed at my vet's for the afternoon getting IV's.

There's not enough air in this country. Why can't I breathe?

Luciano had given Molly a black eye. His special self was jumping up to kiss her while she was bending down. Whippet heads are hard. Oh boy. Hang in there, Molly. Bill's daughter let me send some messages from her blackberry, but nothing came back.

No news is always good news. Molly was visiting with friends after the dogs went to bed. The computer wasn't cooperating with her and kept 'poofing' her messages. Had Maria died and no one would tell me? What good would it do to ruin my vacation? What, Bill? Oh yes, that is a gorgeous view. What the heck is wrong with the air? No matter what I do, my lungs feel empty. I'm drowning here.

I sent a blackberry message to my dear friends and neighbors, Lee and Dee. Is Molly all right? Were the dogs all right? Please! Were Molly and the dogs all right? Yes, they replied. Molly and the dogs were just fine. Maria was back to barking and begging, and she was eating well.

OK. I should be able to breathe now. Why do my arms feel leaden? So empty and useless.

In Rome for two days, if I sat on the bottom of the marble steps in the hallway, the WiFi worked. Molly was doing fine, the routine was less scary, and Maria continued to eat and be merry. They were all enjoying Molly's head-counting "biscuit meetings" immensely, and Giacomino was sleeping all the time.

There is something wrong with my heart. It squeezes too tight when it pumps. Or it doesn't fit in my chest anymore. Maybe some of it is missing, and it's rattling around in a too-big pocket.
Bill's grandparents' home town

No Internet in the whole town of Castelnuova. But such was the power of seeing Bill walk the streets where his grandparents had played as children, of seeing the town with his own eyes, which he had heard about all his life, my heart seemed to fit better again.
And I would be home soon.
The dizzying hour and a half bus ride rocking and zigzagging down the mountain into Foggia sped by. And the packed train, sardines for three and a half hours to Rome, was fast and pleasant. I felt a little giddy.
We got up at 5 AM to get to the airport. Rome to Milano, then Milano to Chicago, then O'Hare to Amy's house, then the seven hour drive home. Just over 25 hours of traveling. Molly wanted to get the dogs up and witness the whippet joy, but I just wanted their lives to return to normal. It was nearly midnight, and they were in bed. I went upstairs.
Giacomino was waiting at the baby gate at the top of the stairs. He was wagging, and his ears were standing straight up, but his eyes were confused. No so with Bill's Delia, whose soft-crate zipper has been broken for years. Her Bill was home! She danced and sparkled. Her Bill was home! I went into our bedroom and put all of me that would fit into each crate and kissed each dear occupant.
"I'm home," I whispered.
I know, from doing whippet rescue, that a whippet starts to bond to a new human after about a week to ten days, and by three to four weeks they are part of that human's heart forever. I had been gone for fifteen days. And I saw the confusion in their eyes.
I'm home.
For the first two days, Giacomino stayed asleep, and when he was awake, he had a blank stare, like he had gone someplace inside himself and couldn't see out. Maria had another episode of vomiting and we went back to the vet. Her blood work and belly xrays were great! I went on an errand, and returned to the chaos of Excessive Greeting Disorder. Molly, ever astute, said, "That must be music to your ears." Oh, yes. We said a sad, grateful goodbye to Molly and she went back to her own dogs, whom she missed as much as I did mine.
And now that I've been home for six days, Giacomino's eyes are no longer blank. Maria is barking more, though she's not back to her mouth of the south status, and Delia is Bill's extra appendage.
I am a foolish old woman. I have no problem with that. As I type, I am surrounded by eight somnolent dogs. My heart fits in my chest and I can breathe. I am who I am.
I'm home.
Hug your hounds

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Miss Maddie is the iPet of the Week!

Remember Maddie, who saved Miss Phyllis' life?

She's the iPet of the Week!!! Go have a quick look!

And while you're there, check out Kizzie, the rescue Doberman who teaches kids about dog safety and helps them read.

Get your hankies out for Lexi, waiting at a local shelter for her forever home with her two newborn puppies, which she gave birth to while tied/tangled in a remote woods to a tree.

And hooray to iList Paducah for featuring these great heroes!!!

hug your hounds

Monday, October 13, 2008

There is NO place like home

We're home. Recovering from the time change. I thought it would be fun to have a guest piece! (Until I can get some sort of intelligible thought going in my sleep-deprived brain. And yes it's 4:22 AM and I'm up. Oh joy.)

Molly with Mama Pajama last year - photo by Laurie Erickson

So today's guest writer is my niece, Molly, who came and stayed with the dogs for the TWO WEEKS that we were in Italy. (Note to self and the rest of the world: two weeks is too long to be away. Never again.) Anyway, Molly knows the whippets really well, since she stayed with us for a few months last year, and she was gracious enough to come and stay with them while we were gone.
I got a couple of emails from her, and I thought you dear readers would enjoy this one! Molly is a great writer, as you'll see.
I am usually a little confused about what day it is, let alone what happened on which day (I can hear you now saying, "Just wait 'cause it only gets worse... teeheeheee"). So here we go. Wait... did I just think "alone"? Did I say "alone" out loud? Crap. Here we go again... I'll be back in a minute. One, two, three and four in the TV room. Five, six and seven in here with me. And eight and nine in your bedroom. Okay, I’m back. I usually do a headcount by number first because if I go through by name I might miss a name and be feeling okay when really it’s time for another Biscuit Meeting (or a national Amber Alert). If I only get to seven (or six, or eight…) after counting at least two or three times (to be sure that my math is right) then I can figure out which one is missing and hunt them down like a Whippet on a rabbit. Or a squirrel. Or a cat. (I won’t say deer because I didn’t know that Whippets chased things bigger than themselves until I started reading your book.) Anyway, I try to do a headcount before I start a Biscuit Meeting if they’re all relatively close to the same location (me) so that I don’t use crazy amounts of biscuits. I break them into pieces but I am probably going to need to go get some more in the next couple of days… Running out would do irreparable damage to my reputation around here. Counting the babies always takes a minute or two because sometimes I lose track, which is another good reason to count because it makes me feel a little more stupid but a little less crazy. Whatever. Feeling a little stupid is waaaay better than losing my mind. Even though my math sucks I can normally count from one to nine with no problem. These aren’t apples or oranges though, they can move around. And they do, right when I am up to five. Or six. Or eight. And I have to start over… but that is okay, because fruit doesn’t give kisses. If one (or horrors, maybe more than one) is missing, Anal Retentive Paranoid Interim Servant runs around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to locate the offender, who is usually doing something horrible like lying innocently in his or her crate (or on the couch, or on a dog bed, etc.) sleeping soundly until I come careening into the room screeching his or her name at an ever-escalating volume. Then they wake up, look at me like I’ve lost my mind, and go back to sleep. Or I have to pay out a biscuit for waking them up.
Either way, as long as I can find them I am happy...

Molly has recovered now that we are home, and will be going back to her own dogs tomorrow. I can't thank her enough.

hug your hounds

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Where In The World Are The Servants?

We can feel her sad heart from very far away missing us terribly. We feel his heart full of wine and olive oil and happiness and not giving us a second thought.

We don't know where they are, or how they could possibly be managing without us???

Our Molly is here, spoiling us rotten and is more than generous with treats, but where are our servants?

worried wags from the whippets

Have you seen them?