Category Archives: dogs

A catch-up morning. Hold the mustard.

My desk is almost clean. Almost. The left side that was stacked with papers and business cards and bills and bank statements and God-knows-what-else has been attacked. I threw out most of it and organized the rest.

I finally called the businesses whose cards I’d saved: Little Luxury Day Spa to order more moisturizer and Spot-On! Dog Training to make an appointment with a trainer who comes to the house. I have high hopes for finally getting The Boys under control. Or me. Depending on how you look at it.

Rhonda Allison skin care

Rhonda Allison makes some nice skin care products. I’m a fan!

My son bought me a gift certificate for a facial at the day spa for Mother’s Day and I loved it. I’d never had one before and wasn’t apprehensive, exactly, but not really sure what to expect, either. It seems like I could massage my own face if I really am in the mood for such a thing, but it was pleasant and I did feel especially clean afterward. I like the moisturizer so much that I just left a message for Naomi to order more. It’s from the Rhonda Allison line of skin care products, if you’re interested. I think I counted about 25 moisturizing-type products alone. The one I’m using is eZinc Protection Cream to moisturize and protect my face from “the elements.” It’s very light, which I prefer to heavier, creamy concoctions.

Fortunately, I also found in my pile a check from my friend Tina to cover her half of the season tickets we’re buying together for Cleveland’s Playhouse Square Broadway Series. I’ve already forgotten some of the plays we’re seeing, but I know we’re seeing Hamilton on August 3rd, as well as Waitress (loved the movie with Keri Russell as the pie-baking, pregnant waitress) and a musical based on Gloria Estafan’s life. I believe Aladdin is in the mix, which I may or may not actually go to. I’m not into children’s theater, or to going to the theater with children. Maybe if I had grandchildren? Maybe.

Hamilton NYT

Hamilton photo from the NY Times. Can’t wait to see it!

But I’m excited to do this – my first time committing to a series. I’ve been interested in doing so for a very long time, but most of the people I know who buy season tickets already go with a group that’s been attending plays together for years. I love spending time with Tina, so it will be great to meet early for dinner downtown to catch up before we see each show.

As for Spot-On! Dog Training, I was walking The Boys a month or so ago and came across the trainer working with a lady and her dog about a block away from my home. His colorful van was in the driveway and as I watched them work for a minute, the trainer said hello and offered me his card.


What someone hears when they ring my doorbell.

I have taken both dogs to training, separately, not long after adopting each. They do well on walks. They know how to heel and walk sedately on my left side. Mind you, this is only when they’re wearing what I call “poky collars” with little spikes. If they’re wearing their adorable harnesses, they basically ignore me and pull and leap at will. You may think I’m a horrible person for using the spike collars, but what an earlier trainer in Madison told me made sense. She said that when a dog pulls on that collar, he gets a little pinch that will deter him from pulling harder. A choke collar, on the other hand, can seriously choke and hurt a dog who may continue pulling much longer and harder before feeling the discomfort. I never jerk on the poky collar, by the way. That gentle prod is enough for them to resist pulling all on their own.

October 2013

What’s really behind Door Number One.

What I really need to work on with The Boys is for them to “come,” “sit,” and “stay.” They know what these words mean, but they will only reliably cooperate if food is involved (and if they’re hungry; not hungry, all bets are off). If someone rings the doorbell, they are like the hounds of hell, barking and leaping at the front door to (I’m guessing) protect me and their territory. No amount of saying, “Hey! It’s only the Domino’s delivery guy! Settle down!” has any effect on their behavior. No magic words will entice them to shut-the-fuck-up and sit quietly. It’s an embarrassment.

And why is it an embarrassment? Because these are perfectly nice dogs who have found themselves in the hands of an incompetent Dog Mom. Do they need training? Oh my, yes. But guess who needs it even more?  Yeah. Me.

Since much of the problem takes place in our home, I’m excited to find a trainer who will come and work with us at the house. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Now morning has broken. Oh, wait. No, it’s really just lunch time and I’m hungry. Let’s see what’s in the fridge, and as always, hold the mustard. Ick.

Thoughts on this Saturday

First, I’d like to thank a number of neighbors who have rose bushes planted near the sidewalk in front of their homes. I stop to smell everyone’s roses each day when I walk the dogs. I am a cliche.

At least one pair of  large, handsome blue jays have claimed my yard as part of their territory. On the one hand, they are magnificent to see – bright sapphire with black and white markings. On the other hand, they are the meanest birds around. I’m afraid that they’re chasing away the nice birds. I actually found a dead cardinal floating in my little pond last week, if you can believe that. I’m not blaming the blue jays. But it was very sad.

And my last comment on birds: where are the hummingbirds? I have had my feeder up for two weeks, but no hummers have appeared. I changed the nectar Thursday because I didn’t want one to finally show up and go, “Eeuw! Stale nectar! I’m out of here!” I hope they will discover my feeder soon. I also hope the blue jays don’t scare them away.

Rich groomed Feb 2015

My sweet Richie. A Morkie? Maybe so!

I found a great Groupon deal for window washing, inside and out. Yesterday the young man who owns the company, Don, came to the front door and almost immediately asked what kind of dog Richie is. I explained that he’s a rescue and is some kind of terrier mix. Don said, well, my dog looks exactly like that! And his dog is a registered “Morkie.” This is not an AKC-recognized breed, but a mix of a Yorkie and Maltese that is recognized by some other organization that keeps track of specific mixed breeds, like Cockapoos and Goldendoodles, I suppose. I certainly see both breeds in Little Richard so, henceforth, he shall be known as a probable Morkie. He’s feeling fancier now, no doubt.

It was about 5:30 when Don and his helper arrived. These hard-working guys work twelve- to sixteen-hour days when weather permits! So, I took the boys with me and sat in one of my Adirondack chairs by the pond to read while they tackled the job on the house.

I thought I’d sprayed myself pretty thoroughly with mosquito repellent before heading out back, but as often happens, the little bastards found patches of skin I’d missed. By bedtime I was scratching furiously at four or five spots where I’d been bitten. Mosquitoes love me. Maybe I should eat more garlic in the summer? If anyone can suggest an effective spray that doesn’t smell horrible, I need to buy something new. And if anyone has a suggestion for making the itching go away, I’m willing to try just about anything. I tend to scratch until I’ve removed a layer of skin and end up with scabs and scars and red marks that last all summer. Yuck.

I’d also like to know how to kill weeds. I really do try to stay away from Roundup (which isn’t foolproof, anyway), but by this time of year, there are weeds that are so disgusting and grow so quickly, I just can’t keep up. The previous owners of the house put in a lovely shade garden with a variety of hostas and other plants that is now being overrun by hateful weeds. When the weather is just a bit cooler, I need to slather myself in what will hopefully be a new, more effective mosquito repellent and get out there and yank that crap out. My poor back. Gardening really is not my thing.


Some of the cast members from “Orange is the New Black.” I love this show. Photo from Den of Geek.

So last night, safely back inside and in front of the TV, I finished watching this season’s “Orange is the New Black.”  Man. What a powerful season! The actors are great, but what I’d really like to do is write a love letter to the writers and tell them how brilliant they are. I think I will.

And those are my Saturday thoughts.

Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there. If you still have yours, give him an extra hug from me. I miss mine. Love you, Bob.


Critters are creeping me out . . . of the country


Oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear!

First, go right over and read the latest post written by my dear friend Kari Lynn Collins at One Funny Broad. Kari, is indeed one funny broad. Love her to pieces. But wait until you read her story about alligators and snakes. Oh, my goodness.

I have been afraid of Florida ever since that video on Facebook showed an alligator the size of a Chevy Silverado ambling along the green at a golf course near Sarasota. Then there was the toddler ripped from the beach at one of the Disney hotels by one of the resort’s “pet alligators.” Oh, and yesterday another Facebook video showed an alligator scaling a chain link fence.

Lake Texoma pic

I don’t know if this guy is looking at a fish or a turtle because my eyesight sucks, but I do know it’s not an alligator. This is at Lake Texoma on an alligator-free day. Photo courtesy of

Seriously? And just when I’d decided that maybe I value my life too much to ever set foot again in the Sunshine State, I learn from my buddy Kari that alligators are now hanging out in Lake Texoma, a huge man-made lake bordering Texas and Oklahoma where my friend Patsy has a weekend home (sell it, Patsy, SELL IT!) and other watery spots in Texas where they’ve never been before. Those sons of bitches are even walking down the street in a little town in Oklahoma. I am telling you, folks, alligators are taking over the country. And as I said to Kari, if they come to Ohio, I am moving to Ireland, Trump or no Trump.


These are Northern Pacific rattlesnakes doing a combat dance. We don’t do Combat Dances here near Cleveland, so STAY AWAY, you pricks.

My friend Sydney freaked me out last month, telling me there are rattlesnakes in Ohio. I have lived here a gazillion years and I did not know that. I don’t want to believe it. Or maybe they are just teeny, tiny ones that don’t really hurt. Regardless, I just want to tell you I am not putting up with living in the Snow Belt if the inconvenience doesn’t at least pay off in protecting me from the snakes and reptiles and bugs that I associate with far warmer climates. Those fuckers need to stay far south of the Mason-Dixon Line is all I have to say about that.

In the meantime, I’m afraid the northern critters are presenting their own brand of worry. If you’re a Facebook friend, you may have seen the photo of the diseased squirrel I posted about a week ago. The poor guy not only had lost half his hair to mange, but he also

Squirrel pox

Squirrel with Squirrel Pox on my fence. Pitiful and sad but EEEUW.

was covered with revolting tumors that the nice lady at Lake Metroparks told me was Squirrel Pox. She said if I could catch him, I should put him out of his misery.

Me? Catch a squirrel? How does one even go about doing such a thing? There are so many squirrels in my neighborhood, I don’t know what I could devise for my particular trap to signal to the rest of them that it’s just for the sick squirrel. I picture myself catching and releasing dozens of squirrels, feeding half the squirrels in Willoughby, before finally catching the sick guy.

And can you picture the scenario if one of my dogs caught the diseased squirrel? As you can imagine, I’d be dragging them to the vet, screaming all the way, and shelling out hundreds of dollars for tests and shots and blood transfusions or whatever the hell it took to save The Boys from Squirrel Pox.

I haven’t seen the poxy squirrel in nearly a week, though that might be what died under the addition to my house. The pest control guys who installed the metal mesh barrier that failed to keep something from burrowing under there last weekend are coming to fix everything tomorrow. They’ll have a camera on a pole (a critter selfie stick?) to try to see what’s in there.

And – get this – I just saw another huge, fat squirrel on the fence next to my driveway and . . . I thought I saw a lump forming on his back. If Squirrel Pox is going to become a thing in this neighborhood, I might have to import a small squirrel-eating alligator to discourage them from coming to my yard.

This means that The Boys and I would have to move, at least until the squirrels are gone and it gets cold enough to freeze the alligator.

St. Patrick with snakesBetween the critters and the politicians and all these folks walking around with a pistol in their pants or pocketbook, I just may have to rethink life in the USA. My son Chris is finally moving back here from Australia (another terrifying place critter-wise, but at least they don’t have guns) in August and it will be hard to explain why I have to leave just as he’s returning. I wonder if the University of Akron (where Chris will be teaching this fall – hurray!) might consider opening a branch campus in maybe Galway, or Cork?

I know Saint Patrick ran the snakes out of Ireland a long time ago and I’m pretty sure there aren’t any alligators there, either.

I’m not sure about the squirrel situation, however . . . .

Mick’s tough day at the office


I think it was Saturday morning that Mick alerted me to the fact that the barrier protecting the underside of the bedroom addition to our house had been breached. The first time critters sneaked under the addition (built on top of what had been a deck) was in late February. Unseasonably warm weather had prompted mating season for skunks and the potential for a very smelly disaster was high. I paid a pest control company to come out, dig a trench, and install heavy wire mesh attached to the bottom of the siding, then curving down then back out about a foot under the ground, to deter further visits. Problem solved.

Or not? I noticed a while back that there was a small gap near the corner of the house closest to the back steps. I plugged it up with some rocks and thought no more of it until – duh duh duh DUUUUUUH – Mick started sniffing and digging on the other side of the house this past Saturday morning. And so our story begins.

00 Mick smiling

Chatting with Mick

An interview with Mick Jagger, the Rock Star Dachshund

Mick, what drew you to the far side of the bedroom addition on Saturday?

Well, let me explain something to you first. I’m a dachshund, right? I’m a member of the Hound family and, in my opinion, we’re the best of the Hound family. I mean, look at this long, regal nose, right? We should be starring in crime shows. Just saying.

Right. I get that, Mick. But back to Saturday, what happened?

Okay, so I went outside for my morning dump and my amazing nose caught a whiff of something interesting over by the house. I knew right where to go not only because of the odor, but also because these intruders have a pattern. No matter where they sneak in, they always go over to the side of the house as far away from the back steps as possible. They’re stupid, but they’re not dumb, you know what I’m saying? So I know exactly where the little shits are hiding. You cannot fool a dachshund. You just fucking can’t.

Okay. So you knew it was hiding over on the far side of the addition. But why did you so stubbornly insist on trying to get to it, Mick? Except for the times when I had to drag or carry you into the house . . .

Yeah, and thanks for THAT, Moooom . . . .

Sorry. I was worried, okay? But just tell me, please, why was it that no matter how many ridiculous blockades I tried to construct, you just wouldn’t leave it alone? Mick, I don’t know how you did it, but you moved rocks I could hardly carry. You moved lawn chairs and stakes in the ground. You somehow shredded portions of that heavy wire mesh. Man, you were determined to dig under the house and get that little bastard. Why?

Mom, it’s my nature. It’s my job. If something is in the ground or hiding, it’s my calling to go after it until I can kill it. I may look cute with these soft, floppy ears and my fluffy, waggily tail, but I am a HUNTER. You have to respect that. And I’m German. Do you know anyone more stubborn than a German? No. I do not give up and I do not take no for an answer. And I resent the fact that you can just pick me up and carry me inside, just so you know. That’s not fair.

I’m sorry, Mick. I really do sympathize, buddy, but you are just ruining the landscaping and I’m afraid you’re going to hurt yourself on what is now torn and raggedy metal mesh. And what if you do manage to dig under the house? How the hell do we know what’s under there for sure? What if you get in a big fight and get hurt under there and I have trouble getting you back out? Do you know how dangerous this is?

I’m not a freaking puppy, Mom. Let me under there and I’ll massacre that critter. How could you doubt me? It’s my job to protect this house. To protect YOU. You think that pussy, Little Richard, is going to do anything? Ha. Who’s been napping in the chair most of the last four days while I’ve been on the job? Little Fucking RICHIE, that’s who.

Alright, alright. You’re very different personalities. Don’t blame him because he’s not all bent out of shape about critters under the house. But, Mick, here’s the big question – why are you so hell bent on spending every waking hour smelling the side of the house? When the pest control guy came today he pointed out the flies, which is a pretty good indication that whatever it is died under there. Why are you still obsessed with smelling the area?

Well, first of all, it’s my job. I don’t know why this is so hard for you to understand, Mom. It’s my house. It’s my responsibility. If I don’t keep track of critters under the house, who will? I want that little bastard – dead or alive. It’s all the same to me. (Oh, and dead critters smell great, just so you know).

And pardon me for saying so, but this isn’t exactly the most exciting place to live. I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but it just isn’t. I love you and thanks for the food (although I have to ask, how much longer do I have to eat this damn diet food? You know I hate it!) and the belly rubs and all, but there’s more to me than being a lap dog, you know? I’m a HUNTER, for Pete’s sake. Remember when I killed that squirrel and brought him inside to show you? Cool, huh? I’d bring you some frogs and fish from the pond, too, but those little jerks are too fast. For now, anyway. Notice how they move their asses as soon as I head in their direction? Yeah. Stupid, but not dumb. That’s what I think about most other animals, if you want the truth.

00 Mick sidewaysOkay, Mick. I understand. Well, I have some news for you. The pest control guys are coming back Thursday to check under the house with their camera to find and remove (I hope) whatever is dead under there, and then they are pulling out the old wire mesh and installing new stuff. They’re going to attach the bolts more closely together so there aren’t the gaps that caused the problem this time. What do you think of that?

Are you serious? Come on! This is the most exciting time I’ve had in years and you’re going to wreck it? I hate you, Mom! I hate you!

Oh, dear. I hope that’s the end of the story. I’m so glad the pest control guys guarantee their work for a year. As for Mick, I know he’ll forgive me eventually. My brave little protector. He’s currently sacked out on the cool linoleum floor near my feet. He’s been working overtime since Saturday morning and I know he has to be all tuckered out. Ooops. Never mind. He just ran back out to see if there are any new developments. Who knew my dog was a workaholic?