Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Many Benefits of Having Laurie as My Friend

Minnesooooooooota Laurie, that is. She just happens to be a talented photographer, as well as a kind, caring, understanding, funny, advice giving, dog training, always ready for a laugh or a hug friend. Oh I could go on forever but here's what I'm talking about today!

First, here's Laurie in a photo that her sister took. Laurie's on the left, then goofy me, then Laurie's 89 year old dad with whom I'm a little bit in love, watch out Bill! then Crystal who went with me to Minnesota (and to Sweden a couple of years ago if she looks familiar) and who was trying to snag Mr. Erickson with her blond hair and blue eyes and I had MY green eyes on her yes I did!

I digressed.

So, Laurie is this fantastic photographer. I get awesome show photos.

(Okay, if you look carefully, I'm trying to be a real pro by tossing the liver and catching it. But notice how the liver is bouncing off my wrist and will soon hit the ground? Yeah, I'm cool!!!)

Lindy Loo looking glamorous!

But then there are the candids. Oh my heart! Absolute TREASURES, and there are tons more. It's impossible to choose which to share so I just randomly picked some.

Sweet essence of Sam I Am

Mia - Oh breath-taking!

Swede William and Sam - pure art

More art - Lindy Loo in the sunshine
But then...
there's the risk ... well, remember how your mother told you if you made a face it might stick like that forever?

Oh boy!!!

I sure am lucky. And she did formal portraits, too. Wait til you see them!!!
hug your friends and your hounds

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Okay, so! Introducing...


Officially, CHAMPION Burnt Sienna Midsummer Night, JC

he was a little cutie patootie in Sweden

Now he can rest on his laurels ...

or his Lindy Loo!

Thanks and congrats to his breeder, Lisa in Sweden and thanks Laurie for these wonderful photos and the magical visit!!!

hug your hounds

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The End of a Chapter

Spice and Easy

No melodrama.

No comments of what a great thing I did - no. It was my privilege.

I guess ten years ago, Carolyn and Greg asked me to be named in their will with two of their other friends to be responsible for placing their dogs should something happen to both of them. Sure I would and I was honored. I barely knew the other two friends at that point.

We never dreamed... Greg and Carolyn were my age. We were young.

A month before she died, Carolyn said she was just worried about her eldest two, Easy and Spice. They were old and had been together since birth. Easy had thyroid cancer and wasn't expected to live much longer. Could they stay with me when she - Carolyn - was gone? She just needed to know where they'd be.

Of course.

Easy wasn't expected to live beyond January of 2009. Spice on the other hand would be typical of Wistwind dogs and live well into her teens - fifteen, sixteen, even seventeen. But Spice got her own brain cancer, just like Carolyn, and suddenly she was gone.

That was purely awful. I mourned the loss of Carolyn and Greg afresh. And Spice, oh God had not made a sweeter being.

Easy kept right on. He slept on our bed. He played with squeak toys like a rowdy puppy. He rolled and rolled and rolled in the grass. He never felt bad, though his tumor kept growing.

I am saving up for a small used motor home. I want to take all the dogs when we go to dog shows. It is physically painful to leave the old dogs at home, but around here it's too hot for them even with the van tarped, and it's no fun for old dogs in a hotel room.

Last weekend I went on a long awaited trip to Minnesota. I picked up Crystal who had gone to Sweden with me and we talked and talked. I got to see my dear, wonderful friend Laurie (who takes these magical photos) in person - we talk on the phone every day. And I got to see Sam I Am's brother Rivet, and Lindy Loo's sister Simmer who live with Laurie. I got to see Laurie's 89 year old dad, with whom I am a little bit in love.

And we showed in a big giant Whippet show. Swede William was a star and a half and finished his Championship with a huge win: a five point major, which is as big as they come. But that was Saturday.

On Friday, Swede William was Reserve. It's an honor to be Reserve at a Specialty (it means next best, almost, dang close but no cigar), and I was thrilled. See, Swede William's color is very common in Europe, but not in this country. It's all due to silly fashion and prejudice. (The written whippet standard says famously, "Color is immaterial".)

Out of sixty-six whippets, Swede William was the ONLY blue fawn. So he has to be extra good and he was oh boy was he!

When I got done showing on Friday, I saw there was a message on my phone from Bill. Bill does not call me during the day at a dog show and my heart stiffened. I thought oh no Mama Pajama or Fat Charlie. I wished my heart would beat again because I didn't have any air.

I called Bill.

Easy? No! Easy? How? He had taken his walk in the morning, barked at a Stupid City Squirrel, wolfed down his breakfast of Cheerios, Grapenuts and yogurt and rolled in the yard. And he had had a grand mal seizure.

I bawled then when Bill told me. Bill had never had to take a dog in for that; he's a gentle soul and that is my responsibility. Easy was still groggy from the seizure and in fact was starting to seize again. So he was not a bit worried which was a blessing. There was no decision to make. But still. I wasn't there. I was at a dog show in Minnesota in my van with my very good friends and all those losses: Greg, Carolyn, Giacomino, Spice, then Martha, and now Easy. Woo-wee it was loud for a little bit, I sort of keened. I sort of forgot where I was; and luckily I was not ringside, but down by a kind soul's motorhome.

Arms were hugging me. They had all been there. They understood. But I got a grip.

Then Saturday morning Swede William won and that was all he needed to finish his championship. I have fun showing dogs, and I think it's important to be an ethical breeder. How horrid would it be to not have any whippets, or wire fox terriers, or collies, or papillons? But I don't live and breathe for championships. It's fun and a thrill and a challenge.

Well, when I was standing with Swede William, waiting for his Winners Dog ribbon, the dam broke. Maybe it was my imagination - of course it was - but I had this overwhelming sense of Carolyn's presence. Like she was right in front of me smiling, and Greg was sitting in his fold up chair, smiling too.

Here came the tears! Big snotty ones that aren't a bit pretty. What did everyone think? People didn't know about Easy, except for Laurie and Crystal and the motorhome friend. There I am standing with my dog who just had a big giant win for which I can take no credit (Lisa in Sweden, his breeder, gets all of that) and I'm just a-bawling snot bubbles. And there was Carolyn with a big grin. Just all around me.

Every time I looked at Easy I saw Carolyn. I often saw Greg and Spice, too, but every time I saw Carolyn. I think after you're dead that there are more important things than dog shows. Maybe Carolyn's presence had nothing at all to do with Swede William's win. Maybe I was finally saying goodbye.

Like I've closed the cover of a good book, hating to leave the characters. Knowing they'll stay with me, but not be a part of my every day anymore.

Carolyn and Greg

It was a great long friendship, and I've been much luckier than I deserved.

hug your hounds and your friends

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Martha's Miracle

(This story starts HERE. This is the last part.)

Martha came home every year for Christmas. I tried to make the visits upbeat and fun. It was always disastrous. She would relive her miserable childhood, dragging her nieces and nephews into it. It seemed like she was determined to have everyone in tears; that’s what Christmas was to her. She arrived in dirty clothes with a suitcase full of dirty laundry for us to wash. Symbolic? Passive aggression ruled. And I was being ludicrous trying to make Christmas perfect for our kids. We would buy Martha's plane ticket, and then resent her for not being grateful enough. I came to dread her arrival.

Our father committed suicide (succeeding where Martha had failed). Martha and I got re-acquainted as adults during the horrific aftermath. We shared some very private things - each of us had thought we were alone, that it had only happened to us - and it was crazy that in this mess we finally felt like real sisters, perhaps for the first time. I noticed that Martha was different, too. Her clothes were clean and stylish. She turned down offers of wine. She said she was in AA. Here's a crime. I pooh poohed it. After a few more disastrous Christmases, we took Martha out to a nice restaurant (sound familiar?) and suggested that maybe Christmas was too emotionally charged of a time for her visit. Maybe she should come during the summers.

I didn't hear from Martha again for sixteen years.

I tried a couple of times to find her. The phone number I had was disconnected. Mail sent to her address was returned, no forwarding information known. Once I even paid $30 to do an Internet search, which only produced the last address and phone number that I already had and didn't work.

I wondered if she were alive.

In March of 2009 I was writing a blog post. A tribute to my dear friend Carolyn (Easy's mom) who had died that morning. My phone rang. Was I Patience? Yes. Did I have a sister Martha? Yes... Oh, God. The kind voice told me that Martha was in the ICU. She had advanced ovarian cancer. They had done an ileostomy. Could I speak to her? No, she's on a ventilator. Would she allow me to visit? Yes. Yes, I think that's a good idea.

That was one of Martha's angels.

During those sixteen years, Martha found a family. Through Alcoholics Anonymous. In Martha's hospital room there was a constant stream of visitors. Sometimes there was a line down the hospital hall because there wasn't enough space in her room to accommodate everyone. And I saw something I had never in my life seen in Martha's eyes: trust. I was incredulous.

She looked at her friends, right in the eye, with trust. Vulnerable, honest, loving trust. And she smiled and she laughed. What was this?

Here are some photos of Martha's Christmases after she stopped coming home.

She's looking into the camera and smiling. Really smiling. Not the grimace I was accustomed to seeing on film.

Martha managed an A.A. facility. She babysat during meetings, babysat for members. Her hospital room was wallpapered with construction paper cards made especially for her by 'her' kids. She loved kids. Of course she was the perfect elf at every annual Christmas party.

She had worked cleaning houses, doing whatever to get by. She had ridden that bike all over Toledo year round. Imagine! Once she had been the victim of a hit and run. "I was in the paper!" she told me. "Cracked my head wide open."

During her illness, her A.A. family stepped up. There were so many angels - I literally can't tell you. Angel Janet, who had made the effort to find me, took the impossible job of getting Martha health coverage. Martha's American birth certificate had been lost. In post 9/11 bureaucracy, getting a birth certificate was impossible. Janet did it. She stopped at no obstacle, even going to the US Senate! Martha's father was a U.S. born and raised citizen who worked for the State Department, and her mother was a nurse from Iowa, for the love of God!

Janet prevailed. Martha, who had been eligible for all kinds of government assistance all of her life, and who had never taken one red penny, finally got Medicaid. Thanks entirely to Janet.

Denial, in A. A. is a bad thing. Martha believed that she was going to survive this cancer. I didn't, but I also saw that denial had to be the only thing that let Martha survive her childhood. Her adulthood. All of those rude stares and averted eyes and paternal disgust? During this last year, my presence brought Martha face to face with all of those crappy memories. We talked a lot about growing up. I felt like my job was to show Martha that I cared about her, that I loved her, to listen and listen and listen, and to make her laugh.

Martha's denial was working. She got to go home. Against all odds, all medical prediction, after 4 + months of hospitals and nursing homes. Her A.A. angels gutted her little rental house. It reeked of cat and cigarette. They tore out carpeting, they scrubbed and painted. Martha got to buy new furniture. (In a freak series of events, Martha found a tiny inheritance she should have gotten decades ago. Now, to get medicaid and SSI, she couldn't have it. Her A.A. angel took her shopping.) "I've never had new furniture," she giggled to me on the phone. "I have good taste, everyone says!"

And now comes Angel Cindi.

Cindi had a medical background. She needed a place to stay. Martha needed a caretaker. She could not be alone. Martha had three tubes draining bodily fluids. She required so much care. And she could be difficult. Being cared for - and perhaps my re-entry into her life - made her revert to some of those old passive aggressive ways. Oh, Cindi! But they talked it out. Only the nurses reading this, or those of you who have cared for a terminally ill person can know the amount of work Cindi did.

Two and a half weeks before Martha died, she was asked to lead a men's A.A. meeting. Martha was so far beyond thrilled: she was deeply touched, she was honored. I asked Cindi on the phone if Martha were strong enough. "She's going to do it," said Cindi. "She's determined."

Here are the photos from that night. (Martha's face is swollen from the steroids that went with her chemo.)

Martha's miracle. The baby deprived of human touch. The Martha who couldn't stand to be hugged. Oh she had a family. Look at her.

During my first visit in the hospital. Martha broke into tears. "I had no idea that so many people cared about me," she cried. "I had no idea."

Cindi, Janet and I were with Martha when she died. I have a picture of Cindi giving Martha a kiss on her forehead that last night. I agonized whether to include that photograph. I decided not to. Martha is in a soft, flannel nightgown. She has oxygen in her nose. She is close enough to death that her eyes appear unseeing. She's lying in her bed, on her side, Cindi leaning over and kissing her gently. The remarkable thing is that you can see Martha puckering her lips - kissing back. Leaning in. Accepting and giving back. Martha, who couldn't.

The next week I returned to Toledo for her service. Janet had helped her arrange everything with that little inheritance she needed to spend. It was held at the facility Martha used to manage. Cindi had set up photographs. Martha's elf costume, her key necklace. There were 200 chairs. Full. People standing. I got the opportunity to thank Martha's real family. And they thanked Martha. How many of them had been helped to find their sobriety. If Martha could get to every meeting riding her bike in Toledo in February, they knew she wasn't going to hear any excuse from them!

If Martha could do it. She was an inspiration. She made a difference in their lives. She was loved and respected.

This was the picture I took of Martha for Obama's healthcare reform website. She was so proud that her story made it. She had worked every day of her life, and never had a nickel's worth of health insurance.

She had the most peaceful death. She had fought it mightily, and in the end she embraced her death with all that courage and infinite grace. Yet another A.A. angel prayed with her. When I arrived, Martha gave me a big smile, focused her eyes back in this world for a moment and held up her arms.

It was an enormous gift.

Martha was the bravest person I know.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Martha part 3 (of 4, I think)

(This is continued from HERE.)

I want to thank you for your kind comments. I have woken up every morning since Martha died in the end of March and I’ve said, “I’ll write Martha’s story today.” It is very difficult. I do not want to betray her privacy, I don’t want to be maudlin. I want to honor a Very Brave Soul. President Obama was at one point searching for stories of people without health insurance, and Martha encouraged me to tell hers, and then was thrilled when it appeared on the government’s website. I think she would be pleased with this telling, and I’m writing it in that vein.

Somehow Martha did survive her childhood. My memory of her early adulthood is muddled. I married at nineteen, our mother died when I was twenty, I had my son when I was twenty-two, and I divorced at twenty-four. Martha had gone away to college, and had been back living at home with our parents. (She went to a local Community College and then to Southern Illinois University – small world – where our mother’s first cousin was a dean. I think she lived with Cousin Jimmy and his wife. She completed all the requirements for graduation, but never turned in her thesis. Finished it, but never turned it in.) My first husband, JB, and I moved to Toledo, Ohio, to go to college where his father’s family lived.

JB was great with Martha. He made her laugh and laughed with her. One time, back home before we moved, I decided that I could teach Marth to drive. She had taken three different Driver’s Ed courses each ending in failure and our parents had long since given up, but I was sure I could do it. We were in our deathly little ancient Renault, driving in the country. About every two seconds I would ‘help’ a bit with the steering. Martha took a hairpin turn a hair too fast. She stomped on the gas pedal instead of the brake, and then she yanked the steering wheel this way and that, all the while accelerating like a pig headed for slop.

I clutched at the see-sawing steering wheel and shrieked, “Brake! Brake!” as we left the road and careened into a neighbor’s wheat field, gaining speed like Superman-faster-than-a-speeding-bullet. The sound of the wheat against the little car’s tin floor was deafening. But from the back seat, JB was laughing his fool head off and he started shouting, “Yeee haawwwwwwww! Ride ‘em cowgirl!” By some kindness of the Lord we didn’t flip and made it back on to the road proper. That was the end of Martha’s driving lessons, but thanks to JB we were laughing and having fun, instead of wallowing in humiliation yet again.

When our mother became terminally ill, Martha moved to Toledo and stayed with us. Well. I don’t think I was very kind to her during this time. I was nineteen, and I was pretty sure that whole marriage thing wasn’t the best decision I’d made. Oh I’ll skip the excuses. Basically, I think I acted out daddy’s part pretty well. I am ashamed as I try to remember.

Martha got jobs at Big Boy/Bob Evans type restaurants waiting tables. (She joked about being little Martha working at Big Boy.) Amazing. She loved it. Eventually she would drop one tray too many and get fired. She rode her bike everywhere. When JB and I moved back East, Martha stayed. She loved Toledo. She found a cute little inexpensive furnished apartment and she was happy, I think.

When my son was a baby, Martha got burned. Her shirt caught on fire when she was cooking at home. I came out to see her – I flew with the baby – while she was in the burn unit. She needed extensive grafting for burns on her arms and chest. She ended up being transferred to a hospital in Baltimore and then back home to our father’s house. I think that whole time was a nightmare for her. I think our father really tried; I believe he had promised our mother on her deathbed that he would try. Martha was so angry. Daddy was drinking heavily. What a mess. As soon as she was physically able Martha got herself back to Toledo ASAP.

Thank God.

I will finish this tomorrow. HERE

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More Martha

(This story begins HERE)

I cannot imagine how Martha survived her childhood. Honestly. I can't.

This photograph was taken in Germany, before there was me. On the back of it, written in my mother's hand are these words:
I like this. They're howling & each has a hand on one object.
They're looking at Jim to see who will win.

Two years after Martha's birth came our middle sister. (I am leaving her out of this story as much as possible out of respect for her privacy.) And four years after that, back in the States, came me. There were six years between Martha and me.

I am three or four; Martha a tiny nine or ten.

Because of her early isolation from human touch in the incubator, Martha couldn't stand to be hugged or kissed. It is not within my capabilities to fathom the constant state of frustration which was Martha's world. She was highly intelligent. Her two younger sisters were athletes; captains of their teams at school, first chosen for neighborhood games of dodge ball and team tag. Martha would be last picked and first out. There were requisite piano lessons and dance class. Imagine. Your sister, six years younger than you could play Beethoven; your fumbling attempt at Chopsticks was a mess.

And that constant, simmering angry undercurrent of disgust from your own father.

Handwriting, attempts at sewing, cooking, playing jacks, staying in the lines while coloring, on and on and on Martha couldn't do as well. Her disability wasn't recognized as a challenge with which she needed help. It wasn't recognized as a disability. She was called careless. It was her fault. I remember one time when Martha lost her balance. She tried to break her fall by grabbing something. It's instinct. Unfortunately what she grabbed was the corner of the tablecloth. The dining room table was set with the fine china for some fancy dinner. Crash. Martha was already mortified. My father stalked into the room, fuming. Anger was visibly leaching from his every pore. He hissed at Martha. She was getting up from the floor, already in tears and he hissed at her: What is the matter with you? You ruin everything!

In this picture, I am ten. Martha is fifteen and a half. Meaning that this was shortly after her suicide attempt. I vaguely remember this day. Martha had howled that she didn't want to be in a family photo. By this time she hated having her picture taken. (I look like a FREAK, she'd wail.) You can see my mother's grasp of Martha's wrist. (My mother was five feet tall.) I keep pointing out how physically small Martha was, don't I? People stared at her. Always. Polite people would then quickly avert their eyes. (Which was worse do you suppose? Kids staring at you, pointing? Or polite persons not making eye contact?)

Okay. Enough. My father was not a monster. He was a flawed, unhappy soul. I believe he was terribly lonely. And an alcoholic. Not ever falling down drunk. Just mean after his first martini, and meaner yet after his second and third. But my mother ...

Martha and I talked about our mother during Martha's last year of life. We had vastly different experiences; we had two different moms. To me, my mother was an angel, a saint. I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised if one day she developed stigmata, and we weren't even Catholic! She was my constant champion. My font of unconditional love. She made me feel as though I were her favorite, but I thought - even as a child - that she made each of us feel like that. She took all of our father's bilious venom. She just folded her hands on her lap, looked down, and took it. And then later she would have us singing songs while we did the dishes.

But from Martha's perspective, her mother wasn't there for her. She never stood up for Martha when she was being belittled. Was Martha so short because she was belittled into actuality? Well? Martha told me this story last summer. (I had heard this story from my mother when she - Mummy - was dying of cancer; how she regretted it.) Shortly after Martha's attempted suicide, her mother told her to dress up. That mummy and daddy were taking Martha - only Martha - out to a fancy restaurant for dinner. Martha was thrilled!!! Nothing like this had ever happened and she thought that maybe her cry for help had been heard. She got dressed without a fight and even put some mascara on, which of course ended up partly on her cheek.

The three of them headed out. I actually remember being a little jealous. Only they didn't go to a restaurant. They didn't go out for dinner at all. They took Martha to a psychiatrist. Oh God. I'm sure my mother hadn't wanted a scene, knowing that Martha would have refused. She was desperate to get help for her daughter and she probably had to threaten my father with divorce to get him to go.

When Martha told me this story she was bald from chemo. She cried hot angry tears, still feeling as betrayed as she had forty-six years before. But she started to laugh while she cried. "And they wondered why I had trust issues! Gee! Do you think?"

Somehow Martha did survive all of this. I shake my head as I type. How? How did she? The very good news is that before Martha died, she got to feel loved. Genuinely. To her very great surprise. She got to be the center of a giant, loving family who held her up and helped her out and took kind, loving care of her. She never married. She never had kids, though she was surrounded by kids who adored her. And the little girl who hated to be hugged was hugged and hugged and hugged. And she even hugged back, at the end she even hugged back.

I'll tell you all about this very real miracle tomorrow. Martha's story is continued HERE.

thank you for listening, and for being so kind

Sunday, August 15, 2010

shoulda woulda coulda

I'm going to try to write a little bit about my late sister, Martha. Everyday I say I'm going to write. Everyday I don't. Because I need to tell Martha's story.

I can't do it justice here, but I'll share a little bit.

Martha was born in Germany. My father was a Secretariat in the Navy during the Reconstruction after World War Two, and then he worked for the State Department. My mother was a nurse. When Martha was born, my mother knew something was wrong. My mother was 23, in a country where she didn't speak the language, away from her Des Moines, Iowa family. Martha was her first baby. Her husband was busy drinking with the Russians. (His job was to translate, which apparently translated into imbibing copious amounts of Vodka.) He was also having an office affair. We read in his papers after his death, that while our mother was in the hospital in Germany with her baby who was not doing well, our father was frolicking with 'his one true love'.

Really? I feel bad for both of them. (I believe my father did end up loving my mother, or at least respecting her. He provided tireless end-of-life care for her, before there was hospice. She died of colon cancer when she was 51 years old. In her own bed.)

But something wasn't right with Martha. The doctors in Germany put her in an incubator, and she was not allowed to be held or cuddled for six weeks. Nowadays we know the horrible effects of depriving a baby of physical contact. My mother knew in her gut, but had no power to do anything. Martha was a beautiful baby with a head full of curls and our mother's blue eyes. In every other way she resembled our father. And her head was a little too large for her body.

In the photo Martha is around twelve, and I am six. Can you see that I am already nearly as big as she? When she was all done growing she was about 4' 8". In heels. She couldn't bear to be touched or hugged. She had a slight case of Cerebral Palsy; just enough to make her clumsy. She couldn't do a jumping jack, but she appeared normal. She spilled things and tripped and fell all the time. She was extremely intelligent.

My father was embarrassed by her. Appalled. He saw his oldest daughter as his personal imperfection. When Martha was an adult and his other two daughters had (perfect) babies of their own, he made this stunning statement. "The one thing the Nazis had right was the notion of euthanizing imperfect babies at birth."

Martha was in the kitchen when he said that, and I prayed she hadn't heard. Which was silly of me. He had humiliated Martha her entire life - he specialized in humiliation, I mean he was so good at it. How could she have possibly not known how he felt?

When she was fifteen she tried to hang herself. That bought her some psychiatric care, but can you imagine in those days? Everything was Freudian and no doubt the shrink was trying to convince her that she wanted to do away with our mother so she could have our father to herself. Now that would be One Scary Thought if you were Martha. "Um, no thanks, REALLY. No. Thanks."

There were some fun times. I had a loose tooth and was too chicken to slam the door hard enough, once the string was attached to my tooth and the doorknob. "I know!" said Martha. She disappeared and returned shortly with Blackie, our schizoid cat. (Stripey was the calm one. And you wonder why I name my dogs things like Giacomino and Mama Pajama.) Martha tied the other end of the string to Blackie's tail and stomped her foot and said, "BOO!" Poor Blackie was gone for three days and we never did find my tooth.

I'm working tomorrow, so I'll write more on Tuesday. I think it's all going to come out now. It may even need to be more than some blog posts.
... Martha's story is continued HERE

thank you

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ol' Poke 'n Stick lives up to his (good) name

Poor Mama Pajama can't get a break.

Yesterday I had to take her to the wonderful vet. Wonderful in my opinion, anyway.
So the servant takes me in the van, all by myself, and I think we're going someplace fun. Like maybe to chase bunnies or kill squirrels or something. No. Where does she go? Of all the places, the idiot turns into Ol' Poke 'n Stick's House of Horrors. I expressed my extreme disappointment by refusing to get out of the van. "Hello, idiot servant??? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Leave this place immediately!" No. She doesn't get it and acts all happy like I'm at an Outback Steakhouse and in her stupid voice says, "Blah blah blah feel better blah blah blah I'm sorry blah blah blah biscuits." So I get out of the van because I am a good dog. And she did have biscuits.

Mama Pajama's eye has been teary ever since she got sick seven years ago, but I noticed that she was squinting it as though it was sore, and the third eyelid was covering more than normal. I got out my handy dandy nurse's penlight and saw a chunk gouged out from her cornea. Oh good LORD!

In the waiting room, Mama Pajama was very brave. She panted, but she didn't shake, and she wagged when she saw Gail, the office manager.
We go into the House of Horrors. Of course we do. There are a million other places in the world we could be but no, my special servant comes here. That nice Gail who has never been involved in the torture and who often has Kind Words and Very Good Treats bowed down to me and I rewarded her with a wag of my little tail. She is deserving.

It wasn't long until we were called back to our exam room.
Oh let's not. Really. Please?

I was really thinking that she had caught a tail in her eye, or maybe a poke from a branch in the yard and we would get some antibiotic drops and off we'd go. The tech put some numbing drops in both of Mama Pajama's eyes.
Okay, you are a Good Human! Oh my eye suddenly feels wonderful. I love you!

Doc came in.
Hello, Ol' Poke 'n Stick. Hey here's a thought: why don't you POKE and STICK the idiot servant today????

He put his moongoggles on and examined Mama Pajama's eyes. "Have you heard of an indolent ulcer?" he asked. [Warning: there are graphic photos on that site of exactly what Mama Pajama endured yesterday.]

Those goggles make your eyes look HUGE, did you know that? Kindly let go of my sweet little nose. It's a good thing you have such a kind and noble heart so I put up with your foolishness.

Doc scraped away the outer layer of Mama Pajama's cornea with a sterile Q-tip, and then scratched the surface with a needle. I got a little faint. (Yes I'm a Registered Nurse, but that's Mama Pajama.)
You're really lucky that I don't hold a grudge.

He then drew some blood from her jugular vein.
Of course he did. Why do you think his name is OL' POKE 'n STICK!!!

He spun the blood and made drops from her own plasma.
If you're going to put my plasma back in me why didn't we just leave it there in the first place?

So now she gets four different drops twice a day. And an anti-inflammatory pain killer by mouth.
Each torture session is accompanied by some rather tasty cheese. I have trained the servant well. Granted, in a perfect world there would be cheese without the torture, but oh she's a Human after all and you know how they ARE.

The good news is that this morning, Mama Pajama was her happy, wagging self. Her eye didn't seem to be bothering her much at all, and she enjoyed her walk as much as ever. The bad news is that she has to go back in two weeks and have it all done again.
Say what? SAY WHAT???? Human for sale, Cheap! Free to good home. Any home. Oh for goodness sakes.

hug your hounds

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hey, great comment!!!

I just found this new comment from my best friend, 'Anonymous':

Anonymous said...

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It made me giggle so I thought I'd share!


Monday, August 9, 2010

On a Roll

I've discovered something profound, and I'll share it with you. It's a secret, so use your best judgement to whom you divulge it.

If you actually enter your beautiful whippets in shows, sometimes they will win! And if you never enter or go to a show, they won't.

Yes! You heard it here!!!

Over the last two years, I barely went to any dog shows. This was not very fair to Swede William's breeder (in Sweden) who gave me her pick male puppy thinking he would actually get shown. Nor was it fair to Swede William and Lindy Loo who love to show more than anything except exterminating Evil City Squirrellies. Maybe even more than that.

After moving to Paducah, I had a little adjusting to do. Dog showing back home meant an hour's drive, two at the most, stopping at Dunkin' Donuts on the way (for luck, just for luck, not for the cranberry orange muffin and Boston cream - not creme- donut) with my best friends. Laughing and talking. Taking the whole waggle along. Singing Paul Simon songs for more luck. ("Mama Pajama rolled out of bed and she ran to the police station. When the papa found out he began to shout and that started the investigation.") Laughing and talking more. Being home by lunch.

Around here, it means driving 2.5 to 6 hours each way and staying in a hotel (ick). It's too hot for the rest of the waggle to hang out in the van so they have to stay home. Oh, hey, that's not so much fun. And then with the recession and blah blah blah.

I wasn't going to many dog shows. At all.

Well, we're going to dog shows again! Lee and Dee are kind enough to go with me. It is so much nicer to be able to abuse good friends by asking them to hold the Screaming Meemees ringside. (Whichever dog isn't in the ring, wants to be. They're a bit vocal - one could say shrill - in their complaints! When Lee and Dee don't go, I have to ask Random Ringside Persons.) We call ourselves The Golden Girls.

The dogs have done great! Yesterday, Lindy Loo was Best of Breed and Swede William was Best of Opposite. What a kick! I hadn't been in the Group ring since Lindy Loo's daddy won a Group 4 under Kent Delaney. This particular show was only one hour away, oh Glory.

I didn't take Sam I Am along on Saturday, fearing the heat. Bill said that after I left, he walked the dogs. (He's a Good Man.) After that, he was upstairs in his study, writing in his journal. He thought the Tornado Siren was going off. Turned out it was Sammy, downstairs by himself, head thrown back and howling his sorrow at being left home. So I took him on Sunday. We showed at 8 AM and I tarped the van until it looked like a big tin-foil wrapped Oscar Meyer Weiner! He did fine.

William! Wait for me!!!
You can't take dog shows too seriously. You can be serious in your devotion to your dogs, but you have to remember that every show reflects just one person's opinion. Sometimes the dogs I show win. More often, I congratulate someone else on their win. And I am genuinely happy for them. I was stuck with this feeling though that these dogs might not finish their championships.

WELL DUH!!!! It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the dogs, no! You have to show to win! Hello???? You can't win if you don't go! Your dogs can't finish their championships if they aren't ever entered.

Fifty-six years old and I figured that out all by myself. Ha!

hug your hounds

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blah Blah blog

Lordy I am hopeless. I just can't write to save my soul. I'm just going to blah blah blog what's been going on.

Lee and Dee were supposed to get a Swede William / Lindy Loo puppy. Actually they were supposed to get two Swede William / Lindy Loo puppies. Only Lindy Loo was in season while my sister was dying and I was driving back and forth to Toledo, Ohio, and Lindly Loo's season was short and she told Swede William if he got that THING anywhere near her Special Place, she would bite off his right front leg.

At the elbow.

Completely. And his name from that day on would be Stumpy.

So there weren't any Swede William / Lindy Loo puppies. "That's okay," said Lee and Dee. "We'll wait."

Only then their last sweet German Shepherd passed away from old age cancer and they didn't have a dog at all. That is not an acceptable way to live, as we all know, so I set about finding them a whippet.

Long story short, some good people had a litter of pups. I always loved the people and I loved their dogs. And this particular litter, well the mom's great grandmom was the mom of my very first whippet, Gracious. And the dad's grandpop is Sammy's grandpop!!! How amazing is that!!!!

Angie and Robin let Mia come home to Lee and Dee's house which is two blocks from ours. But the night that Mia came home, Swede William and Lindy Loo started hacking. And snorking. They got some respiratory bug at a show (I guess). So Mia couldn't come to my house and I couldn't take any whippets to see her. Ended up five of my eight got sick. I am ONE BIG MESS when my dogs are sick. ONE BIG HUGE MESS. They're on doxycycline and cough medicine and I feel like typhoid (gack cough) Patience. The vet said that my house will be safe after the last dog hasn't coughed for a week, and that the individual dogs are safe from being contagious after they haven't coughed for a week.

Lindy Loo and Swede William haven't coughed since Sunday, so they're safe Saturday. (Really they only snorked once when they got up Saturday morning, but I'm being careful.) Sammy hasn't coughed once today, and neither have Easy or Luciano.

It's been hellish.

But I did shower and put on shoes that haven't been worn and clean clothes and sneak over to see her a couple times. I'll get to show her and do agility with her and I cannot WAIT til she has a little Swede William / Lindy Loo best buddy to snuggle with.

Until then, Lee and Dee are doing a fine job!

hug your puppies!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Williams

You may know that Swede William (here after referred to as "Swede William") was named after Grandson William (hereafter referred to as "Grandson William"). They have the same sunny, funny, deep intelligence and the same color hair.

Grandson William flew down from Chicago for a visit.

He inherited his Grampa's interest in art.

And as you can see, he inherited his Grampa's talent!

And his fashion sense ?????

Grandson William and Grampa made fettuccine from scratch. I was not home during this process and I understand there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of wrong amount of eggs... on Grampa's part, and the fettuccine was ultimately saved by the Grandson William's suggestion of the addition of some water. Plus apparently the extruder/roller thingy wouldn't clamp to the counter - it having belonged to Bill's mom and counters have changed since back then - and each time Grampa turned the crank, it bopped Grandson William on the head as he bravely struggled to hold the thing still. Crank, bonk, crank, bonk, crank, bonk!

They were still on speaking terms at the end, and I have to tell you that was the WORLD's BEST homemade pasta ever. It was so light and melt-in-your-mouth and it was definitely worth all those head bonks. (Yes, granted it wasn't my head getting bonked, but still ...)
Can you just see how perfect it tasted? oooooooohhhhh!
I bought a special cookie for the bonkee. Well he deserved it.

Grandson William's family doesn't have a dog. But Grandson William is one of those souls who 'gets' animal speak. He has since he was a baby. I was going to run out to the Kennel Club property and do a little agility practice with Sam, Swede William and Lindy Loo. Grandson William wanted to come along. Fun! He ended up running Sammy, and really doing a good job with him! Even the other two, who are just learning, did well. Sam did the jumps, tunnel, a-frame and tire for Grandson William.
Gramma Patience was having such a good time that she forgot to take any photos or video. Arrrrgh!!! So later that day we took Swede William out in the front yard. Look how naturally Grandson William handles Swede William. It's not like he EVER takes a dog by the collar in his regular life. Look how consistent and positive and quick with the treats he is!

Mind you, if I were telling Swede William "wait" and "over" during nap time when it was 101 degrees in the shade, I don't think I would have gotten as good results! He's a smart dog and a whippet to boot.

It was a wonderful visit!
hug your hounds

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I can't remember if Barry found my blog first, or if I found his. But the very first time I read what Barry wrote, I respected him.

And the more I read, the more I respected Barry the writer, Barry the gentleman. He had a wonderful outlook, a delightful gift of story telling, a fun sense of humor. In every post I felt how deeply Barry loved his wife Linda. I shared his walks with his exploring buddy Lindsay the English Springer Spaniel. I enjoyed his wonderful Canada through his eyes and heart.

I made friends through Barry's blog. Kerry, and Kat. Laurie, Bagman, and Patty. And I felt so close to Barry.

When he wrote that he had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer I cried. I cried to Bill. I had read so many of Barry's posts to Bill. Barry blogged through his diagnosis and treatment, sharing his personal journey. With the courage and honesty and humor that was Barry.

I worked on Wednesday - gosh that was just yesterday. I did check my email before falling into bed. There was a forewarded message from Bill's address:

Dr. Renzulli,

I am sorry to go through you – but this is the only way I knew to get a note to Patience. I read her blog often….starting with the ice storm. I am from Paducah so her entries often strike a wonderful chord or two. Through her blog I found another blog by Barry Fraser. (I watched as the Waggles rang bells for Barry). Barry was such an inspiration and entertaining at the same time. But, sadly, I wanted to let her know that Barry passed away on Tuesday.

Bloggers and email friends become close like pen pals of old. Strange as it may seem it IS a small world after all.

Kind regards,


Thank you, Carolyn.

I cried. I cried for my loss, but mostly I cried for Barry's dear wife and for his dog. I wanted to write something worthy of Barry, but of course I can't. What I can do is invite you to spend some time in a wonderful place and get to know a hero.

Go there and pick any post. I hope that blog is up forever. It is the best testament to a great human being. A wonderful man.

hug your hounds, and send a prayer out for a spaniel in Canada who's lost her buddy, and to a wife who has had to let go of her hero

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


OH my ever-pooping goodness.

I tried a new dog food. Paid $60 for this premium bag of wild bison and elk or something which had no grain. The dogs ate it, but weren't entirely thrilled. In two weeks they got F.A.T. and I halved their portions. And their poops quadrupled, quintupled, multiplied exponentially.

I mentioned this to Bill one day. It was 110 with 200% humidity and I crawled in on my belly after having picked up the yard. "This new food makes too much poop," I panted, just before passing out from heat prostration.

Well, yesterday while I was at work, Bill picked up the yard. Then he drove to the dog food store and bought a 40 pound bag of the old dog food. The kind that produces little poops. He took the half-bag of mega poop food ($30 worth) and put it in the back corner of the pantry.

I love Bill.

Yesterday was a marathon at work. I left the house at 6:35 AM and got home at 8:30 PM. I live 20 blocks from the hospital, so the 'commute' is 5 minutes. The rest is work. It is so nice to come home to Bill and the dogs and the latex mattress topper. Oh how I looked forward to sleep. I had decided it would be a wonderful idea to have an anxiety attack at four in the morning before going to work. I haven't done that since the winter. Some chirping beeping noise from my computer plug in thingy woke me up and my brain went wacko.

You know, you wake up and your brain starts rapid firing bombardment of everything you've done wrong in your life since you were four and you scooped out a big chunk of your sister's birthday cake and ruined the whole party? It was all your fault and you should be ashamed of yourself. And the more you freak out about getting back to sleep because you are facing a Very Long Day, the more you can't fall asleep and then you remember the time...

So last night I was soooo looking forward to sleep. Only as I brushed my teeth and tucked the dogs in, I heard an unmistakable chirp. The dreaded smoke detector chirp. I said a Very Bad Word. Bill got the ladder (we have stinkin' 11 foot ceilings) and got the smoke detector down, setting off the whole house ear piercing alarms only twice - a new record! Oh thank you honey, I said.

Bill went to his study to read. Chirp.

It's still chirping, I said.

He took it into the guest room at the other end of the house. Chirp.

The room is still chirping, I said. Chirp.

We examined all of the possibilities. The attic? No way, there isn't any attic above our room. I, the Queen of Acrophobia, climbed the ladder to see if the bald wires were somehow chirping. No.

We listened. Chirp.

Ah! It seemed to be coming from the corner where Bill's out of season clothes were stored in Tupperware bins. We tore through every bin, every pants pocket. Chirp.



We went into his dresser drawers. Finally. Finally. Finally!!!! In the back of his junk drawer was an old smoke detector. Chirp.

Bill calmly removed the old battery from the thing. I really wanted to stomp it, hit it with a hammer, throw it through the bedroom window, smashing it to bits. I actually wanted to bite it.

Instead I climbed in bed. I had a little trouble falling to sleep because I was so enjoying the sounds of the dogs' quiet breathing, feeling the extraordinary comfort of lying down, my legs and feet and shoulders on fire, most of all the sweet nearness of Bill.

hug your hounds

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fat Charlie's Home Safe

So, maybe once or twice you've heard me mention that I love my vets?

First thing this morning I loaded up the whole waggle (minus Delia and Looch who went a'walkin' with Bill) and headed to Ol' Poke n Stick's before breakfast. (Hey, if Fat Charlie couldn't have breakfast, none of us could. That's only fair.) Wait, let me back up a minute.

Last night was awful. Pure personal hell. The fourth of freaking July.

I hate fireworks. Long before I had boom-phobic dogs, I hated fireworks. If you sneak up behind me and say "boo" you better duck and run and protect your private parts. I respond to being startled by hitting. Hard. While I scream. And I kick. Hard. Then I yell at you for being so STUPID. It is completely reflexive and I've been that way all my life. So I hate things that supposedly are going to look all pretty and then out of nowhere go boom.

In the country, you loaded up and went to the church or the fairgrounds and watched the fireworks. My mother learned early on, when she couldn't get me out from under our car, where I lay in a fetal position with my hands over my ears, screaming "Stop it stop it stop it," that it was better if she and I stayed home and popped popcorn and watched TV. They tried to condition me to liking them by buying sparklers and making a big deal of how fun it all was. Bull Shit. You couldn't fool me even at age six. But, in the country, at least home was safe. You could hear the bangs in the distance, but home was safe.

Then as an adult I worked in the Operating Room. Oh yeah, those blown off hands, feet, eyes: whewie, there's some fun. Idiots.

When my first whippet, Gracious, was around eight, my teenage son thought it was a good idea to shoot a squirrel out his bedroom window while she was sleeping on his bed. Thus began her intense terror at sudden loud noises. Caruso (Lindy Loo's great grandfather) and Giacomino (Very Old Dog) both developed old age thunder phobia. They would lie in some corner and tremble violently, panting with the curled-up panic tongue, eyes popping and nothing nothing nothing could I do for them. We all suffered through the week of the freaking fourth.

This year would be the first year since we moved here to the city that I didn't have a boom phobic dog. What a relief. It's just so different in this southern city. Cherry bombs, bottle rockets, things that make that ZZZZZzingBAMBOOOOM going off all over. The city sponsors a fireworks show over the river - only eight blocks away and bad enough though it lasts only an hour and a half and is done by people who supposedly know what they are doing. But everyone goes to Missouri and buys their own fireworks and sets them off all over. I hate it. But at least this year I wouldn't have an old dog trying to die of a heart attack.

Or so I thought. My neighbors had apparently bought out the entire state of Missouri. (Sorry Missouri, I guess you guys did without, lucky dogs.) Early on, way before the city's show started, HUGE explosions started going off in the empty lot right across from our house. And then over our house. All the dogs started looking alarmed. Then one firework went haywire (imagine that) and did the falling bomb sizzle noise as it shot horizontally past our TV room window and then exploded. I hit the floor and the dogs went ballistic.

We were clearly being attacked.

This went on and on and on. The city's display started; we could barely hear it over the amateur crap right outside our door. And over our roof. And in our yard.

I was already worried about Fat Charlie's surgery today. Anytime you anesthetize a thirteen year old dog, well... I said, "Let's just go to bed." I tried to let the dogs out to potty, but they were WAY too freaked out. Our world was exploding. We went up to our room. I couldn't find Mama Pajama and Fat Charlie. Found Mama Pajama in Bill's study, eyes huge and worried. I got everyone in our bedroom and handed out treats. No Fat Charlie. The calm dog, the unflappable. The one who was going to protect me - tooth and nail - with all he had when an old drunk guy thought my house was where he needed to be one night when Bill was out of town. My bravest fastest Whippet who had to have surgery in the morning. My oldest dog. Thirteen.

I found him in a dark crate downstairs in the dog room. Panting. Trembling violently. Eyes wide with terror. He didn't know how to protect us from this. I got angry.

My other sweet neighbor called. Her thunderphobic dog, Cooper - a lab/border collie cross - was wild with fear. "I'm afraid he can't keep this up much longer," she said. Should we call the police? It's our neighbors, our friends. But this is ridiculous. Those can't be legal.

This is just what my old dog's heart needed nine hours before anesthesia. It was getting louder over my house and he was getting more frantic. I asked Bill to read in our bedroom to keep the other dogs company and I took Fat Charlie and Sam I Am (for company) down to the van. We were getting out of there. As we ran from our breezeway to the van one exploded right over our heads and the burning things landed all around us. I screamed, "Stop it stop it stop it," just like my six year old self. It didn't stop. As soon as we left my immediate neighborhood Fat Charlie settled down and went to sleep. I called my sweet neighbor with Cooper to tell her what a good idea the van was. She answered her cell by saying, "We had to get Cooper out of there, so we're in our car out by the Mall." They had left before I did.

I tried coming home twice, but the neighbors were still at it. As long as I kept driving and Charlie couldn't hear the idiocy, he slept. We came home around eleven; the show across the street was over. But it had moved to the back yard. Fat Charlie didn't mind the firecrackers too much and he was worn out. He finally went to sleep. I did too. Around 1:30.

Okay, now I'm back to loving my vets. They let Fat Charlie wait in his own crate - his safe place - in my van while the pre-op shot went to work. They let me stay with him, with my quiet calm voice until the Propafol was injected and he no longer knew or cared what was going on. I took the rest of the waggle out to the kennel club to burn off their energy. My vets called me: Fat Charlie's surgery was over and I could pick him up in an hour.

He was FINE.

Now we're all lying in the kitchen/dining room. Fat Charlie's rear legs aren't working too well yet, but they will. He stopped panting when we got home. It's normal quiet here. Mama Pajama is sleeping a couple of feet away from her brother on Bill's armchair. Sammy is curled up by my head and Swede William is lying on my right leg. My foot's asleep.

As awful as last night was for me and for Fat Charlie, I kept thinking of a nurse I know. Her husband served in Iraq. He suffered from injuries from a roadside bomb. And now from PTSD. What the hell was last night like for him? When explosions brought back memories of friends' being blown to bits and his own stunning injuries. I kept thinking of him.

I HATE fireworks. I HATE fireworks. I HATE FIREWORKS. Hooray for the FIFTH of July. I hope all of you and your dogs are okay.

hug your hounds

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fat Charlie the Archangel

Around two or three years ago, I noticed a half-pea sized growth that showed up over night on Fat Charlie's hiney hole. I freaked. Ran him in to Ol' Poke n Stick, certain it was some hideous rectal cancer. Doc looked at me like, "Get out of here, you're not really an RN, are you???" but said, kindly, "Why that's just nothin' but a little polyp." I tried to save face by explaining that I didn't think humans got polyps on the outside of their hiney holes, and if they did I for sure had never seen one, but anyway I was so mightily relieved that nothing else mattered.

We named Fat Charlie's polyp his 'butt bump' and it has slowly grown to the size of a large marble (for those of you who are old enough to know how big a large marble is - about an inch in diameter for the sake of the younger readers). It sticks out from under his tail and shocks visitors for a moment until we explain, but it hasn't caused any harm.

Now, last week I noticed a spot on Fat Charlie's leg. It looked like a Bad Spot and I didn't like it. I decided on Wednesday that I would call the vet on Thursday (from work) for an appointment Friday. I left for work Thursday morning. Charlie's butt bump was pink as usual and the Bad Spot looked not as bad, but I fully intended to make an appointment for Friday during my lunch break.

I forgot. Work was crazy busy.

When I got home to the insanity of eight whippets who have wondered all day if I had gotten lost or eaten, I remembered that I forgot. Then I saw Fat Charlie's butt bump: it wasn't pink. It was purple/black.

Rats. My wonderful vets worked Fat Charlie in this morning.

They would have removed them both today, only Charlie had already eaten his breakfast. Cheerios, Total, and a sprinkling of Grapenuts with Organic Fat Free Milk and Organic Lowfat Yogurt. He'll have to go back in first thing Monday morning, with an empty tummy. He's a great good sport and doesn't pant or shake at the vet's. He looks at me and looks at the door: "Let's go now, why don't we?" But he kisses the sweet tech and even Ol' Poke n Stick and Baby Doc too.

Then something remarkable happened. I was back out front, paying for the meds, and the radio that is always on in their office played an old song. You know, the theme song for Gray's Anatomy (I think, I never watched it), "Chasing Cars"?
It was the song I used for Very Old Dog's tribute. I was writing the check, blab, blab, blabbing as usual and then boom I was soaking wet sobbing. Well, what do you do when you hear these lyrics piping right into your heart?
"I need your grace to remind me to find my own. If you lay here, if you just lay here, I can lie with you and just forget the world."
Oh I sobbed Fat Charlie out to the van, where the rest of the waggle waited and we beat feet out to the Kennel Club property. They ran and soaked up the gorgeous morning, I mowed and fixed the fence, and appreciated each of them.
And then I lay there. I just lay there with them and just forgot the world
hug your hounds

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How to Walk Dogs Backwards

Stella asked how we manage to walk three dogs, backwards, while filming, as seen in the video on the previous post.

It's easy. I am a marvellous dog trainer. I wish I could share my secrets with you, but really it is an inborn talent. A gift. Like charisma, this can't be taught or learned, it just is.

the end-

Who's training whom????

[Sam I Am here. I've distracted the Dear Servant momentarily. (No great challenge there, bless her heart. As the humans say in these parts. It translates into: the woman hasn't got a single bone to chew on.) We let her think that she has some magical gift of whatever she was talking about. It makes her feel good about herself, and honestly she has so little to feel good about that every little bit helps.

Here is the real scoop. The Elders tell me that in the Olden Times they all walked together in fields and woods full of every sort of delectable vermin. They speak of fox, groundhogs, bunnies, evil squirrellies, and something magical called deer. Of course the Elders knew that the Servant was crippled, blind, and senseless, so they would allow her to tether herself to them so she wouldn't get lost. As clumsy as she was, even back in her relative youth, more often than not she would land with an 'ooph' on her bouncy belly whenever the vermin were sighted.

A large, gelatinous, human anchor. Screaming obscenities with her face in the mud. (Makes me giggle just a little bit to think of it. Silly human.)

Here and now we walk in this city. No fields, unless she drives us to the Kennel Club. No fox, no groundhogs, no magical deer. (I sure would like to chase one of those one day; they sound great!) Plenty of Evil City Squirrellies who show no respect, Evil C.A.T.s who are V.I.L.E., loose dogs who are danger-danger-dangerous, and lots of cars and trucks.

She doesn't walk us all at once any more. She makes us take Turns. I get two turns because I have taken my Great Uncle Giacomino's place and she can't stand to be away from me for a minute and a half. When it's not our Turn we wait in our Dog Room and get a biscuit and howl our heads off to let her know how stinky not-our- Turns are.

It's taken us eight years, but we finally trained her. She used to (close your ears, Dogs, this is for the humans only) jerk on our necks and froth at the mouth and yell something which made no sense like nonobaddogs or some such unintelligible nonsense. Of course we payed absolutely NO attention to this demonstration of human stupidity; we barked louder and pulled harder. REALLY! I mean. She's not a bad human, but, sigh, she is a human.

One day she had a treat in her pocket. We were dutifully alerting her to the danger of a horrid, rabid, stinkypoopbutt C.A.T. at the top of our lungs and she was getting ready to behave badly. I said, "Hey Idiot Servant! You have treats in your pocket. They might be more interesting than that ol' stinkypoopbutt C.A.T."

She didn't get it (no surprise) so I bumped her pocket with my wonderful long skinny nose.

HELLO!!! LIGHTBULB!!! The human thinks she has a GREAT IDEA!!! Don't you just love them? So now our walks are a treat a minute. We don't pull her? We get a treat. We don't bark our heads off? We get more treats. Treats treats treats!!!

Yah, life is good. We can still bark our heads off at anything we want when we're in our Yard. Unless she's near the Flying Object Of Doom (she calls it the plastic watering can). Then we just run to her instead, and... GET TREATS!!! They are so easy to train if you are consistent and get on their level.

goose your humans-

Sam I Am]

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh Happy Happy

It is Mama Pajama's and Fat Charlie's thirteenth birthday. Along with Sammy's mom Jessie, who lives in Maryland.

I'm going to go sit on the porch with them.

Steve Surfman photo

Laurie Erickson photo

Laurie Erickson photo

please hug your sweet old hounds