Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Morning

The weather gods must have had great sex last night.

It is glorious today. Western Kentucky May Sunday morning sitting on the porch glorious.

We've had our breakfasts, walked our walks. Even the oldest dogs dawdled a couple of extra blocks just for the beauty of the morning. And the young 'uns went to the river and back, the long way.

It would be a sacrilege to come home from those walks and go up to my stuffy little computer/writing/sewing room. To desecrate a gift of cloudless sky, precious air, and thoughtful sunshine. After a brief argument with my 'shoulds', I fix a fresh cup of coffee and accompany my book and my dogs on to the front porch.

I love Sunday mornings in Paducah. There is an old peace. As though Sunday mornings from before cars and twenty-four hour convenience stores and iPods settled here and never moved along. We sit on the porch, the dogs and I, in our papasan chairs with our feet up in the splendid sunshine. The ceiling fans are redundant; the natural breeze is fine.

Though the book I'm reading is a classic, it loses. It can't hold my attention this morning. The dogs go from listless to launched when a cheeky robin hops too close. The church bells! I can't tell if they are from the catholic church, or Broadway Methodist, or Grace Episcopal. It could be the Presbyterians. It doesn't matter, the bells don't know.

They are lovely. I haven't seen a car yet this morning. This town feels old and dear.

I can hear the Westie from four houses down, across the street going crackers. She's inside, but that's how quiet it is. The mocking birds are trying to outdo each other and the church bells. They are doing a fine job.

Two neighbor girls walk by. They are wearing flowery sun hats. Two best ten-year-old friends accompanied by one dad. The dogs poke heads through the pickets, wagging the other ends. "That's Lindy Loo, that's Spice - she's new - and that's William, and that one's my favorite, Sam," says one friend to another, and she's mostly right. The dad says, "It's a great day for gardening," mentioning one of my 'shoulds', but I'm able to shrug it off and go on with my worship.

I love this town. Thank goodness I still miss my friends back east. Thank goodness I still miss the fields behind our farm and the smell of horses with their morning greetings, soft.

Thank goodness for this wonderful, magical place.

hug your hounds

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Preaching to the Choir about Poop

(this originally appeared on - you should subscribe so you don't miss out!)

My favorite tee shirt. Available at the Market @ 315, or online from me!

Last week, the dogs gave us the scoop: if they're out in public, they're going to poop.

Back in the Middle Ages, there weren't all that many people, and even fewer dogs. A dog could find a private, out of the way field or forest and leave a deposit before rejoining his knight and carrying on with the business of hunting his stag. Or hoisting his petard or whatever. No harm, no foul.

Nowadays, people and dogs abound. Dogs love us, guard us, depend on us, help us heal, lead us, keep us company, make us laugh, and make sure we get enough exercise. And did I mention how perfectly they love us?

All we have to do in return is love them back.

And pick up after them.

I had a shocking conversation recently with a clever writer whom I admire. "I don't believe in picking up after my dogs," quoth the clever writer. "You know, nature's fertilizer, ecology, all that."

My ass.

You go to a friend's house for dinner. You realize the chili dog you had for lunch was a mistake. You excuse yourself to use the powder room. You flush. You don't leave it there because it's Nature.

NEWS FLASH: no one enjoys your dog's poops either! And there's that whole mysterious magnetic quality of dog poop. If there is a human foot within 300 yards of a virgin field with one little dog turd in it, that foot will land in that turd. There's a Law of Nature for you.

And another NEWS FLASH: folks in a neighborhood KNOW who's not picking up after their dogs.

So here's a cool/not cool list to use as an easy reference tool.

Cool: Always pick up after your dog. Always. If you walk in the dark, carry a flashlight. Some retractable leads have a light built into the handle.

Not cool: Throwing away your last baggy. (The dogs must then poop again, according to The Rules)

Cool: As soon as your dog assumes the position, whip out your baggie with a flourish, Oh yeah, you got it goin' on. And if the baggie is color coordinated with your outfit? Hot.

Not cool: Your dog is taking a dump and suddenly you must examine a fascinating freckle on your finger, or identify that bird on the wire. You la la la don't happen to notice the steaming pile and you 'innocently' walk on. People hate you. Dog people especially. Like a good kindergarten teacher hates a pedophile. You cast aspersions on us all.

Commissioner Gayle Kaler

Cool: You're a City Commissioner who is willing to address the Poop Problem. Rock on, Commissioner Kaler, I'm at your service!

Not cool: Forgetting which hand you are carrying the full baggie in, and waving with the wrong hand to passersby.Holding the poop bag in the same hand as your cell phone, water bottle, etc. That's just gross.

Cool: If you're worried about being green, you can recycle plastic shopping bags, or buy biodegradable pooh bags. Leaving brown all over town is NOT green.

Not cool: Thinking that since I pick up after all of my dogs, I wouldn't mind picking up after yours. What kind of crack are you smoking?

Paducah Mayor Bill Paxton flexes some political muscle for a clean city

Definitely cool: Respecting your city, your neighborhood and your neighbors by cleaning up after your dog.

I would never advocate bagging up your neighbor's dog poop and returning it to their yard. Or porch. Or getting fed up enough to hurl it in their open car window as they drive by.

But I have been known to run screaming across a park, waving a poop bag overhead, yelling "HEY! YOUR DOG JUST TOOK A DUMP. DO YOU NEED TO BORROW A BAGGIE?"
hug your sweet poopin' hounds

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009


Life is getting in the way of blog time. Some of it very, very good: a visit from my dear friend Laurie from Minnesooooota! She brought Sammy's brother Rivet, Lindy Loo's sister Simmer, Laurie's treasured Very Old Dog Spats, and Laurie's magical camera!

Swede William by Laurie

Mama Pajama (see her little kiss) and Fat Charlie by Laurie

Two friends, twelve dogs photo by Bill

A surprise 70th birthday party for Bill, 58 guests for dinner, including Bill's best friend from FOREVER who was our best man and came here from Delaware as a surprise, and his daughter Amy and her husband who drove from Chicago as a surprise. Surprise, surprise surprise!

photo by Obie

photo by Obie

I warned on the invites that if anyone gave away the secret, they would have to pick up the poop in my yard for a year.

No one did.

Then two days after Obie went home, I gave a presentation to the Commission on Aging and Mental Health on Animal Assisted Therapy. Sam I Am went as demo dog. He was flat out awesome.

No surprise there.

This weekend is the Lowertown Arts and Music Festival, hosted by the Paducah Renaissance Alliance, a board upon which I sit. Tonight is the Bubble Q - a private dinner/dancing/auction fundraiser for the PRA. It's all one block from our front porch. You can see photos of last year's festival HERE and HERE.

Easy and Spice are doing just fine. Spice's butt cleared up in no time. (Thank you for asking.) Easy's cancer continues to grow, but he eats and plays and lordy how the two of them enjoy their city walks!

Spice and Easy by Laurie

To my fellow bloggers - I miss you! I scroll quickly through the "blogs I follow" blurbs on my dashboard. Life will settle soon, and I'll be back.

I call my sister daily. She is the bravest person I have ever encountered. And that is saying a whole lot.

hug your hounds

oh and I will soon do a post on how to look cool while you're picking up poop as a follow up to the Rules of Public Poopage

Thank you all for sharing the link to that story! It's really making the rounds!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

WKMS and I am a Poop Head

There are things worth supporting in this life. Top of my list is National Public Radio. If you've been deprived of shows like Prairie Home Companion, Talk of the Nation, Fresh Air, This American Life, and NPR news, for heaven's sake, end your deprivation!!!

Our local NPR affiliate is WKMS. They do a fantastic job. One of my requirements for moving to this charming neck of the global woods was that there be an NPR station. As we were driving on our very first trip to Western Kentucky, and I was fiddling with the radio dial, I found one. What with the static and the accent, I thought they were saying, "WPMS". It had been my dream to write commentary - little stories - for NPR and how Bill and I laughed at the notion that my big break would come on a radio station called WPMS. But we were hearing wrong. WKMS. WKMS. Got it.

(And in a fun twist, I had not yet had the nerve to contact the station about writing little stories for them. I had written a post to the small artist's email group about living in this neighborhood. That was forwarded (unbeknown to me) to the editor of Paducah Life, where it was printed. The folks at WKMS read it there and asked me if I would record it for them. Well, yes I would! Jumping jacks, high fives, and cartwheels ensued. That's what happens when little dreams come true all by themselves.)

Fund raising this year is t.i.g.h.t. Budgets are slashed. Charitable giving is down. But here's what I figure. I figure unbiased news coverage is more important than ever. I figure I want to hear my programs and not have them sacrificed to hard times. I figure that's worth my financial support, and my time and effort.

So, when Program Director Mark Welsh emailed me last week and asked if I would be willing to record a piece for the fundraiser, I said sure. Maybe I should have declined. You, Dear Readers, know this has been a challenging time for me. My head is not screwed on tight. I am hanging by my stubby little fingernails to Real Life, as it spins with all the calamitous energy of a very angry bucking bull.

But I wrote my piece and I drove down and recorded it. I called myself a Poop Head twice, and I sang Linda Ronstadt. A capella. OH DEAR!!! I forgot I can't sing. I mean I can sing with the best of them, just not particularly well. You can hear it HERE. Oh please be kind.

If you feel compelled to make a donation to WKMS after listening, or just out of embarrassment for me or pity, (obviously I have no pride) be sure to mention that you are no longer a Poop Head, either. That will bolster my self esteem times a million. Misery loving company and all that.

And if you are a local Dear Reader, WKMS would love if you could take five minutes on this survey:

Simply click on the image. It's fun and you get to tell them what you want to have on the radio. Cool.

hug your hounds - mine are listening to WKMS!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Rules of Public Poopage


I have studied my dogs' behavior closely for oh these seven years that we've lived in the city.

I've noticed they have Rules of Public Poopage. The Rules are followed religiously, and are added to, or expanded when needed for wondrous effect.

I may be missing some, due to my human limitations, but here's what I've recorded so far:

1. Never waste a public poop. Plan wisely.

2. If your human speaks on the cell phone during your walk, poop. The human will enjoy holding a fresh bag of poop in the same hand as the phone, right up there by their face.

3. If you are walking with human and dog friends, save your poop. They won't be impressed. Keep your buttocks squeezed tight. Instead, you can sniff a spot, and when your dog friends sniff to see what you were sniffing you can pee, and oops there you go peeing right on your dog friend's head!

4. If you are joined on your walk by a non-dog-person, show them what they are missing by giving them a kiss, and then if they secretly wipe off your slobber, quick find a big cat pooh in some mulch and snarf it down. It's really fun to watch the non-dog-person change color when they realize they've been licked by the same mouth that eats cat pooh.

5. If your human has just picked up all the poop in your yard before your walk, then BY ALL MEANS do not poop on your walk. Save it for the moment you step back into your yard. Your human loves having a Purpose in Life.

6. If it is rainy out, and your human refuses to make it stop, you have every right to poop in the dining room. This is especially true if the human has been cooking all day, is upstairs taking a shower not paying attention to your needs, and thirty humans are about to arrive at your house for dinner. This actually calls for a 'walking poop'. Make it a little liquidy and spread it all over.

7. If your walk happens to take you Downtown, don't take advantage of the landscaped areas; the humans expect this. Surprise and delight them by pooping right in the middle of the sidewalk. In front of a restaurant or a fancy boutique is a nice touch. This must be a stealth poop. No warning sniffing or positioning, or they will try to move you. Just stop, hunch and let 'er rip!

8. A full school bus of middle school children is a Must Poop Opportunity. This even calls for Simulpoops. Every dog on the walk is required to produce. You won't believe the shrieks!

9. The Important Human Rule states that if you encounter a human big shot on your walk, you must show said human that your poop does smell, just like theirs or probably even more! This includes, but is not limited to, Mayors, Governors, City Commissioners, Movie or Television Stars, CEO's (especially CEO's), and People Who Think They Are Important For Any Reason. Exempt are artists and writers because they are poor and riddled with self-doubt and most of them are dog people anyway. If they are Uppity, then the exemption is null and void.

10. For a festive occasion, like a charity run, or a ribbon cutting, festive poop is called for. Ingestion of crayons, tin foil, antique pearl necklaces, and/or brightly colored vinyl dog toys will do fine. Use your imagination! Make that poop sparkle!

11. Always save a little poop. When the human throws away the poop bag, go again. They feel useless and empty without a putrid poop bag in hand.

** poop candle available for purchase, email us!

hug your wonderful hounds

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Delicate. Very.


Okay, Dear Readers. Right here, right now, if you are not a 100% bona fide dog person (Dog Person, but I didn't want to be cutesie) thank you for stopping by. Don't read any farther. Further? Move along. It was great to see you.

Your writer has faced some gritty facts of life of late. Things over which I have no control, no power. No amount of screaming or ranting, bargaining or pleading on my part could change anything.

Easy and Spice are the two darling senior dogs who joined the whippet waggle after my sweet friend died of brain cancer. Easy has recurrent thyroid cancer. I'm an RN. Bill is an MD. Plus, I've had animals all of my life. I know that disease and dying is all part of this marvelous, miraculous life.

But. I noticed yesterday morning that Spice was uncomfortable when she pooped. "Hmm," I said. I examined her and found a large, hard mass at the base of her tail, extending to her anus. My first thought was loud, angry, and unworthy of repeating here. It involved a lot of ugly words aimed at Whoever is In Charge. I thought I was looking at a malignant rectal tumor.

Oh. Dear. Lord.

Eventually, my brain fired up some synapses, crackled up some rational thought, and made a little sense. A mass that size doesn't just appear overnight. It wouldn't appear outside of the pelvic bone. Think again, brain. Think! Another gentle palpation produced the facts that, (a) this mass was hot, (b) it was excruciatingly tender, and (c) uh-oh, holy pus-filled horror, stand back, Stanly, this was an anal gland abscess of alarming proportions.

I called my Dear Vet.

Calling your Dear Vet on a Saturday in Kentucky right as the Derby horses were parading in the paddock at Churchill Downs isn't nice. Calling your Dear Vet on Derby Day with the Mother of All Anal Gland Abscesses? Ish. Fortunately I had some lovely antibiotics left over from my own tooth abscess. "Yes," she said. "That would work. And give her an anti-inflammatory. And some hot compresses will make her feel better. I better see her on Monday, or call back if you need to for any reason."

I love my vets.

Here's the thing. Who would have ever thought that a gigantic anal gland abscess, nicely coming to a head, would be the good news?

You just have to laugh.

And hug your hounds. Especially the sweet ones with stinky pus butts. Poor thing's been through too much. But it's not cancer.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Take a Chill

click to enlarge, use your back button to return

Somebody got a good night's sleep last night! I was studying the Big Boring Book in bed and I looked up and saw this going on in the crate condos.


shhhhh hug your hounds

Friday, May 1, 2009



Coming home to a house with nine whippets is not a feat for the weak of heart, nor for the (literally) thin skinned. Whippets are celebrated sufferers of E.G.D. (Excessive Greeting Disorder)

A homecoming is a cause for hysteria and hoopla. For screaming and whoopteedoooos. For wagging and barking and jumping. For toy shaking and stuffie murder.

And there is the all-important full body claw drag. Luciano is the Champion of the full body claw drag. He inherited this talent, along with his beautiful headpiece, from his sire Caruso. Here's the technique:

  1. wander up, in the midst of the melee of welcoming madness, to the object of the welcome

  2. be cool. act casually nonchalant

  3. quietly jump up on the welcomee, placing one paw on each collarbone

  4. extend toenails, so that they wrap around each collarbone and extend into the welcomee's clavicular grooves

  5. plant a little kiss on the welcomee's lips. If you can sneak your tongue up her nostril, so much the better.

  6. stretch

  7. now, keeping toenails fully extended, drag your front feet down the entire length of the welcomee's body. Extra points are given for shredded clothing and drawing actual blood.

When Caruso did his full body claw drag, we said we had been "Caruso-fied." He left big long welts. Every. Single. Time. Luciano is approaching his dad's proficiency. Swede William has adapted his own special stealth version. He comes from behind and does rapid fire claw rakes down the back of the welcomee's legs. Very exciting if the welcomee is wearing shorts. Best of all if the welcomee is wearing a loose dress or skirt. The toenails can effeciently hook around the underpants, and one well-timed rake can produce all sorts of excitement.

Easy and Spice were the leaders of this Welcoming Committee. Spice had spent the four days of my absence curled up on Bill's lap. (Bless sweet Delia for sharing her Bill without so much as a 'humpf'.) Their surprised expressions when I came through the door turned to relief and then revelry. They thought they had lost yet another human, but there I was, home again.

I always enjoy demonstrations of E. G. D. It's loud, it's raucous, it's so against the rules. It can devolve into a group howl, which is always good for the soul. It's over in a minute or two.

And it lets you know that you are home where you belong. If you had any doubt.

hug your hounds