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