Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No, No. Bad Dogs.

Two stories.

First, a delightful visit by some fellow dog bloggers.
The Barkalotz Boys, Just Harry and Jake, are great good blogging friends of the whippets, and I was eager to meet them and their humans in real life.

There was a problem. I've mentioned the whippets' extreme breedism on numerous occasions. We have had frequent whippet guests, and even an Italian Greyhound or two, and the whippets are quite gracious hosts. They share toys and wag tails and get along just fine. But Harry and Jake are Wire Fox Terriers.

(I hear the whippet owners among you dear readers gasping in horror!)

The whippets have a dog room just off our kitchen. They eat there (when they're not mooching from our guests) and they stay in crates there when we go out. (They sleep up in our bedroom; the dog room is just for short periods when we're not home.) They will also go in there if we have a large number of guests, (like an open house or a gallery show) and the front door and yard gates are going to be open, to avoid escapees. So they weren't surprised when I gave them biscuits in their crates: the table was set and the pasta sauce had been cooking all day.

Then our guests came in.

It was loud. It was not polite. It was ugly.

"Hairy Dogs!!! Sound the Hairy Dog ALARM!!!"

"Idiot Servant do you not see? There are Hairy Dogs in our HOUSE!!!"

I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that the tornado siren could not compare. And that can be heard for 50 miles.

The Wire Fox Terriers were charming, beautifully behaved little visitors. The whippets... well they did finally settle - and quiet - down.

Second story. I used to walk all of the whippets at once, back when we lived at the farm. We walked through crop fields on tractor roads. I frequently ended up on my butt or my belly, when we encountered deer, fox, groundhogs, squirrels, and bunnies. I only walk three at a time, here in the city. Being dragged into oncoming traffic wouldn't be prudent. And I don't want a whippet to get loose. I quickly learned that it was a Bad Idea to walk large groups of whippets in the city, even with extra walkers. Bill would go his way with two, I would go mine in batches.

The whippets behave remarkably well in groups of three. But get six whippets together, and there's a pack mentality. One seventeen year old boy can be charming. Three can be productive. Six are a mob, egging each other on. Like that.

I ignored my own Rule, and accepted Bill's invitation to walk together. It was a holiday. We were enjoying High Spirits.

I walked Very Old Dog and Mama Pajama around their one block, and when I got back, Bill had coats on the remaining six. Off we set, Fat Charlie, Luciano and Delia with Bill. Sam, Swede William and Lindy Loo with me.

It was a lovely walk! I admitted to having Ungrounded Fears. Clearly, the whippets were used to walking in the city now, and we could walk together.

We repeated the whole thing the next day. We were joined by two little Yorkies on their walk, no problem. Good Dogs! Treats all around! And then, just a half a block from home, disaster.

Our neighbor, Keyth, (of Nekked Neighbor fame) was struggling with a large piece of artwork ahead of us down the sidewalk. I called out to him, "Keyth, do you need some help?"

Apparently, this translated into dogspeak as, "Dogs, find something to attack!!!"

And at that very moment, Swede William spied a C.A.T.

It wasn't pretty, dear readers.

I tried. Six years of training dogs to ignore what a thousand years of selective breeding has programmed into their brains. In groups of three, I can say "Look!" and focus their attention on treats in my pocket and away from vermin. In groups of three.

Not, dear readers, not in groups of six.

In their defense, this was a particularly heinous C.A.T. An evil C.A.T. which delights in sauntering just outside the whippets' yard. Loitering just out of reach. Blowing raspberries at them with impunity and pooping in our corner garden, in plain sight.

And there he was. No fence to hide behind.

Down I went.

The whippets' motto is if you can't bite the one you want, bite the ones you're with. So Sammy bit Lindy, Looch bit Charlie, Delia bit Looch.

I said, "Ow."

And then I spewed a long string of Bad Words. Loudly.

Keyth called later to see if I was okay. He's a good neighbor.

We're going back to separate walks, no more than three at a time.

hug your hounds. Even the naughty ones who do what they were bred to do.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Adventures in Walking

These days whippets are joined on their walks by their sweet, spunky neighbor, Francie. That means I am joined on my walks by Francie's sweet, spunky human, Tracey. Francie is just adorable. She's an accidental mix between a romantic Corgi and a determined Yorkie. She looks like a Benji with big, fringed, stand up ears and sawed-off legs. I think today is her first birthday!!! Happy Birthday, Francie!!!
Tracey looks nothing at all like Benji, but is tall, and glamorous. She is a gifted writer (I try not to be envious) and a talented artist. She is so funny, that I often have to stop at the public rest rooms down by the river, because at my age laughing that hard out in the cold is a hazard. Tracey is also deeply and honestly religious. So much so that she is kind, generous, and non-judgemental of my heathen ways. She walks the walk.

Okay, so we were walking in the bitter cold. We passed an empty building on the edges of downtown. Two young men were standing on the corner; not a corner where folks usually hang out. The younger one spoke.

"Djoo ahh phun nomburrr sexy?"

I'm pretty good at deciphering heavy accents. It's one of my talents. It came in very handy when I worked in the O.R., only I would think in a Filipino accent when I went home. But I knew I hadn't gotten that right. I stopped, and looked puzzled, so the young man repeated his question.

"Djoo ahh phun nomburrr sexy?"

Tracey and Francie kept on going, and she turned and spoke firmly to me, "KEEP WALKING!"

I said to the young man, "I didn't understand. Try again."

Tracey, with a look of panic called to me, "No! No! No! No!"

The young man repeated, "Djoo ahh phun nomburrr sexy?"

Now, I thought I heard 'Do you have a phone number, Sexy,' but I also knew that I looked like this:

If he had been directing his question at Tracey, that would have made sense, but he was talking to me, and in no fantasy land would I be remotely considered sexy. I asked him to try one more time. Tracey, distressed at my idiocy and worried for my virtue, pressed on, urgently crying, "Walk on, Patience! NO! Keep going!!!"

The young man tried once more.

"Do joo hab phone number of TAXI?" They did have suitcases and were a block from the Greyhound Bus station.

"HEY, Christian woman!!!!" I called to Tracey, making my hands mimic the opening of a book. A certain Holy Book. "They need HELP!"

Well, luckily we had just stopped to pee, because we laughed so hard over the notion that the handsome visitors could find anything remotely SEXY about this old dog walker!!! And as soon as I translated for Tracey, she rushed back to help them and apologized profusely for the misunderstanding.

The dogs just enjoyed the hilarity.


Oh and in addition to wishing Francie a happy birthday, please join me in wishing our neighbor Cooper a happy sixth birthday! Cooper lives with the whippets' Auntie Karen, who also walks with us when her work isn't as busy as it has been lately.

Happy Birthday COOOOOOOPER!!!
Happy Birthday to YOUOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

hug your hounds

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas Video

How cute is this??? It's making the email rounds, but if you haven't seen it, enjoy.

hug your hounds

Friday, December 19, 2008

Your favorite iPet, and the sweetest song

It's time for the iPet of the Week FAVORITE voting!!! Oh boy!

Will it be Buddy B, who pulled baby Samara out of their burning home?

Or Kizzie the rescued Dobe who teaches school kids about dog safety and helps them with their reading skills?

Is it Maddie, who gave her 87 year old human a reason to live?

Maybe it's Puppy, the 17 year old cat who keeps her Sarah such good company.

Or how about Frodo, the brave little Corgi who kept fighting and threw away his wheel chair?

Could it be sweet little Dru Bear, who taught her person how to love herself?

Oh goodness! It could be Sugar, the 26 year old therapy horse, or Buddy G, who saved his mom's life, when she was unconscious in the creek, or Heather, the 13 year old Scotty who's been visiting hospital patients for 11 years. Maybe Mortise the boxer, who ate a couch! (He is Luciano's favorite!) And there are more.

Just go HERE and follow the directions to vote for your favorite one.


And now for some fun. Dashing, handsome Swede William is in the thick of a virtual romance with an adorable and naughty little Jack Russell Terriorist named Teka.
Teka wrote a Christmas song for Swede William!!! She says her brother Gussie did, and it's on Gussie's blog, But Swede William insists Teka wrote it and who am I to argue.
Here it is:
(To the tune of Santa Baby)
Hey Swede William, let's share a milk bone
under the tree, you and me
Been an awful good girl, really Willie,
so hurry down the chimney tonight
Hey Swede William, a '52 convertible too, for you,
I'll wait up for you my dear Swede Willam,
so hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the doggies that I haven't kissed
Next year I could be just as good
If you'd check off my Christmas list

Boo doo bee doo hey Swede William,
I found for you a stuffie that's hot-that's what
You've been an angel all year, my dear
Swedest William, so hurry down the chimney tonight

William honey, one thing that I do I think you need, the key
To my condo divine, I'll shareso hurry down the chimney tonight
We can trim my Christmas tree
With some things that muzzer bought at Tiffany

I really do believe in you
Let's see if you believe in me
Boo doo bee doo
Willie Swedie, forgot to mention one little thing,
Ring me up on the phone, alone
Leave the waggle at home
Willie baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry ... tonight
Hug your hounds

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Santa's Sigh

“Please, Santa, I would like my own puppy for Christmas. I’ve been very good this year. And I don’t want anything else. Love, Julie.”

Santa sighed.

You see, over the years, Santa has developed a strict No Pet Policy on Christmas Eve. He even included it in the Elfin Handy Helper Study Guide. But it wasn’t always so. How did those humans get things so messed up? It wasn’t the children, of course. It was the grown ups.

There was a time when he could put a big red bow on a darling puppy and place it in a snugly stocking, and know that it would be a treasured member of the family for life. Eve after eve, Santa would drop down chimneys, and be greeted by the very dogs he had given in years past. Cheerful reunions, with wags and woofs, bright eyes and happy tales of living in a family of love. Santa adored seeing the Old Ones: pets who were in their Last Years. Though their eyes could just barely see him, and their ears could no longer hear him thump onto their hearth, their hearts felt his presence and they smiled in their warm plush beds and welcomed him back into their homes.

But times had changed. The dogs used to work the stock, or rid the place of vermin, or provide the family with dinner, or they guarded the homestead, or kept a lap warm. And there was always someone home who needed company. Kids spent every daylight hour playing. And their pets were their very best friends. The pets were important members of their families.

Of course, Santa watches all year long. He started seeing families leaving the house first thing in the morning. Rushing off to work and school. But after school came soccer or video games, and after that came dinner at a fast food place, and then it was dark. No time to walk. No time to play. No time to learn tricks. No time for pets.

And then the families were scolding his puppies for doing what bored puppies do.

Santa has a big heart. A heart as big as love itself. When a heart as big as love breaks, it sends shock waves. Fires, floods, storms, droughts, tsunamis of sadness came upon the Earth as Santa cried over his puppies. Thrown away like a broken toy, or tied out back and treated like a burden, at best, and shamefully, at worst.

Santa couldn’t risk another natural disaster, so he implemented the No Pet Policy. But he needed to do more. Parents were cheating. They were buying puppies, putting them under the tree, and signing his good name to them! The very thought caused an earthquake, as Santa hiccuped in horror.

“A list! I’ll make a list,” thought Santa. He was good at lists. And he went right to work.
· #1. No pets for Christmas, they are not toys!

Santa, the Champion of All Listmakers, could only come up with that one entry. He thought for a moment, scritching his beard. "Yes," he said. "That's the ticket!" He chuckled, and started a new sort of list, and went back to work ho, ho, ho-ing all the way.

Christmas Eve came, bright and crisp. Santa’s sleigh couldn’t hold another thing, and the reindeer snorted their eagerness to get going. Off they flew, dropping toys and goodies for all of the sleeping children.

And at the houses where the pets snuggled warm with their humans, he dropped gifts of love, comfort, and fulfillment.

At the houses with pets outside, shivering forgotten in the cold, he dropped gifts of responsibility, compassion, and appreciation.

And at Julie’s house, the little girl who had written to him, and all the others like her, he dropped gifts of intelligence, foresight, and education for the adults in the home. For Julie and the other children, left a special note:

Dear Julie,
Santa wants you to have a dog, oh yes! After your parents open the special gifts I brought just for them, they will be ready to find you a puppy. They will take care of your puppy, since you are a child. You may help! From your parents’ care of the dog you will receive the gifts of responsibility, and compassion. You will learn to appreciate the gifts of love and comfort your dog will bless you with for its wonderful, long life. You will enjoy a gift of personal fulfillment like no other.
Merry Christmas!
Santa Claus

Years later, when Santa came to Julie’s house, his heart burst with joy! There was her dog, an Old One now, thumping his tail in welcome. And curled up with the Old One was a puppy, who looked at Santa with shining eyes. The Old One said, “The pup’s been here a month, St. Nick. My girl's parents used your gifts wisely, so I’ve been able to give dear Julie my heart and my love.”

Santa dropped his trinkets under the tree, and gave the Old One a kiss on the nose. Knowing there was no greater gift than a dear pet’s pure love, he allowed himself a happy, all-is-well sigh, and then sailed on his way, shouting,

“Merry Christmas to all! And may love rule your life!”

copyright 2008, PC Renzulli

image credit: http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/santa/sundblom_santas.htm

hug your hounds

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Oh how I would love to climb inside my dogs' brains and hearts and just once, see their world through their eyes. I could only guess what they were thinking, as Special Humans from their past marched right back into their home.

Linda arrived first, for all intents and purposes another purchase from the grocery store. Linda is Sammy's nana, but she has been a huge part of all of my dogs' lives. Giacomino, Fat Charlie, Mama Pajama, Luciano, and Delia saw Linda, Willow, and Jessie (Sammy's mom), nearly every weekend, and a couple of times a week for their whole existence. Then we moved six years ago, and we lost her. The glee when I returned from my normal errands run with the Krogers bags, and Linda! I had found her!!! Only Swede William and Lindy Loo are out of the Linda loop, but they had met her as puppies and a whippet never forgets.
They were not done celebrating, no they were not, when the next day, who should march right on in the back door? Oh my stars, it was their Rhonda!!!

Accompanied by the Nice Lady, Crystal, who is practically family because she has stayed in our home for a couple of overnights. But Rhonda!!!! Right here in living color. Rhonda, who had been at dog shows, lure coursing, race meets, and road trips. Rhonda, who dogsat Fat Charlie and Giacomino at her house. Whose bags smelled of Giacomino's one and only wife, Snickers. It was Rhonda!!!

And while they were still celebrating the reincarnations of Linda and Rhonda, two more angels appear: Cheryl and Terrie.

People who shared every day of the week, when the whippets and those two people and I worked in the same office. Fat Charlie and Mama Pajama's nana Terrie, and their very own Cheryl, who now has three whippets, two of whom are immediate family, because she fell so deeply in love with mine. Dogs remember love like that. Dogs remember.

Not only had the missing humans materialized, they brought with them scent-images of dog friends and relations. Nose pictures of Giacomino's siblings Jazzbo and Lilly - Fat Charlie and Mama Pajama's mom. And their sisters, Mollie and Jessie. And Sammy's siblings Tucker and Graffiti. Noses found dads, grandads, great grandaunts, moms, cousins, nephews. Little hints of smells on clothing, in suitcases, on purses.

The tails kept on wagging. Eyes sparkled. Noses sniffed and sniffed, which started the tails wagging all over again.

I thought it was too much for Giacomino. He'll be fifteen in April, and he seemed to be overwhelmed. He continued to perk up, though, and I realized something. The last time a Special Person came to visit, Bill and I disappeared for Way Too Long. He had just recovered from our trip to Italy, when he lost his lifelong cuddle buddy, Maria. He had just recovered from that, when Special People arrived in droves, and I think he was terribly worried that I was going to disappear again. But I didn't disappear, and on Linda's last day here, she got to see him pull me around the block on his walk and gallop to me in the yard. Eyes shining, legs akimbo, tail wagging.

And I had a blast! You know you're with wonderful dog friends when not only do you not have to be embarrassed when you're stooping to pick up the eighth dog's poop on your walk, but your friend remarks, "That is really good quality stool. What are you feeding these days?"

Oh, but I miss them so.

hug your hounds, and your friends, too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Linda Arrives!!!

Oh, dear readers, I am a mighty bad blogger. Yes I am. I've said it and I mean it.

I bought batteries. I put the camera right on the kitchen counter, where I couldn't possibly forget. I repeated "I shall take photos, I shall take photos, I shall..."

I opened the kitchen door. Sam I Am looked around me. So did Mama Pajama. Bill had a good hold of Very Old Dog to avoid tippage, either from over excitement or from bumpage and generalized greeting flummadiddle. Fat Charlie came swooping in. Luciano's eyes got huge.

They couldn't believe who I had found. Their Linda!!! The very Linda who Lindy Loo is named for!!! Here right here in our kitchen, brought in with the rest of the groceries!

Since when did Krogers start stocking Their Linda!!!!????

The greeting was sweet, dear readers. Excitement, disbelief, sniffing just to be sure it wasn't a bobo Linda, but no... It was the real thing. Their LINDA!!! Whom they hadn't seen for two years, which is very long in dog time.

But I failed you. So taken was I in the merriment, and so senile am I in the head, I forgot to pick up the stinkin' camera and click.

These are from two hours later, after the meal.
Sammy says, "My Nana Linda."
the rare Mama Pajama kiss, as tolerated by Sam I Am, and witnessed by a happy Very Old Dog
I promise I'll do better tomorrow. I'll try to.
I'll ask Linda to remind me.
hug your hounds

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Delia's Pick

On the side bar of this page, I rotate some of Bill's new paintings. (When I remember...) Delia adopted Bill as her own four years ago, and she hangs out in the studio with him. Although, as I write, she is curled up with Sam I Am on the couch under a fleecy blanket. Bill is reading the paper downstairs.

Solitary Tree. acrylic on canvas. 36 x 36
do click to enlarge, you won't be disappointed!
Anyway, Bill emailed me an image of a new painting for the sidebar, and I thought it deserved posting on the main blog. It is just stunning. He painted it when Maria died, and though I'm not sure he would make the connection, I see her in the red sky. I see us in the strong mourning tree.
Or maybe I just see a beautiful painting that I proudly want to share with my dear readers.
I love it. (You can see lots more of Bill's recent paintings on his blog: HERE.)
Now, back to cleaning and decorating the house and getting ready for our FUN guests! Linda arrives tomorrow!!!)
Hug your hounds

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Getting ready

[photo from 2004 or 2005??? or 2003? I dunno. Friends start arriving on Thursday!!!]

Every year for so many years that none of us can agree just how long it has been, some friends get together for a holiday hug. And a whole lot of good food. And belly laughs. And a gift exchange.

We used to live within an hour of each other. We'd see each other nearly every weekend at a dog show, or obedience trial, or lure coursing. We saw each other through the very best times, and we saw each other through unspeakable tragedies.

We were our dogs' favorite other people.

Linda was the first person I told I was pregnant. Jake just turned 32 on Thanksgiving.

When I moved fourteen hours away, I drove home for our holiday get together. And other years they flew out here.

Last year, we all decided it was just too expensive. Wasn't that a foolish decision?

This year, they're flying out here. This year, Linda and Rhonda and Cheryl each have a new puppy to tell us about and show photos of and miss. This year, Crystal, of the trip to Sweden, will be joining us.

My dogs will go completely bonkers.

So will I.

I can't wait.

hug your hounds