Tag Archives: dogs

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.

orange-is-the-new-black-netflix

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.

 

Just a girl and her dog

People sometimes say when you rescue a dog, you don’t know what problems you might be taking on. Personally, while I see their point, I do think reducing a dog to his past experience is only half the story. Just like people, there’s the nature vs. nurture element. Maybe the rescue had a rough beginning, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a sweetheart of a soul just waiting to curl up on your lap.

Case in point:  Slate. My friend Carol rescued Slate when he was four or five years old, I think. I know he’s nine now and has been with her at least four years. And Carol will be the first to tell you that this boy is still trouble . . . but only in an irresistibly endearing way. Or, endearing to big-hearted Carol, anyway.

You see, Carol and Slate are a love story. After losing her beloved Dewey (Carol’s a retired librarian, so don’t you love the name?), who she had raised from puppyhood, she wasn’t sure any pet could ever take Dewey’s place. Dewey was a princess of a Wheaten terrier. Silky, sassy, sweet – but definitely the ruler of the roost.

We all were surprised when Carol met Slate at the local dog shelter a few months later and decided to take him home. First, she lives in a small condo. Perfect for Carol and little Dewey – but Slate was 70-plus pounds of dog sporting an overgrown coat of 60’s shag carpet.

Slate and Barkley

Imagine Sesame Street’s Barkley in charcoal gray and that’s Slate.

Do you remember Barkley from Sesame Street? That was Slate – but, yes, in a slate shade of gray. He had a reputation for chasing cars and mailmen, as well as an inexplicable fury toward runners. When the doorbell rings, Slate throws himself at the front door, howling in warning to anyone who dares threaten his domain and precious Carol. He lived with several owners before being left at the pound by an exasperated elderly couple who couldn’t deal with his shenanigans on their farm.

Oh, he can be a handful.

slate in grass

Sweet Slate

But conversely, once convinced of your good intentions, Slate wants to show you his toys and happily accepts scratches behind the ears. He’s a big baby who is delighted to be your friend, and Carol, his rescuer, his hero, is obviously the love of his life.

And like any swain, Slate wants to be with Carol at all times. In fact, he has been known to go to extremes when prevented from being by her side. One day recently Carol decided to tackle cleaning out her garage while her cleaning lady was working in the house. The woman knows and is comfortable with Slate, so the dog stayed inside while Carol worked in the garage.

Slate knew Carol was nearby, yet unreachable, and apparently tried to find ways to escape the confines of the condo to search for her. His first stop was her bedroom, where his pawing at the window resulted in a hole in the sheers. Carol came inside, reprimanded Slate for his bad behavior, and closed him in the guest bedroom (where Slate actually sleeps) and returned to the garage.

When the cleaning lady moved upstairs to work on the bedrooms she heard clattering and whining behind the guest room door. Not only had Slate torn a hole large enough in the lace curtains to get half his body through it, but he was wrapped – and trapped – in the fabric and the curtain rod was bent in a V from his attempts to escape. Both women regret not having grabbed a phone to take a picture before rescuing the dog from his dilemma.

Slate and gate

Slate on the WRONG SIDE of the baby gate, next to the scary vacuum cleaner.

Slate usually excels at escaping from confinement. When Carol put up a baby gate, backed up by the scary vacuum cleaner, at the top of the stairs to keep Slate out of the living room, she did think to pull out her camera phone when she discovered him on the OTHER side of the gate when she got home.

As much as Slate hates being away from Carol, probably the worst possible situation in his life is when there are loud noises, like thunder or fireworks. That’s pretty common with dogs, but what makes it inadvertently amusing with Slate is this big dog’s ability to be exceptionally agile in the face of fear.

A thunderstorm in the middle of the night last summer sent Slate flying onto Carol’s bedside table. She woke to find him sitting with his head under the lampshade, yet somehow not disturbing a small tray displaying beach glass on the same surface.

If the frightening noises occur when he’s in the living room, Slate’s favorite safe place is perched on the narrow top of the back of the couch. Now, that makes sense for a cat or (in my house) maybe small dogs, but when Slate stands on the back of the couch, it’s kind of like seeing a calf or small pony hovering over the living room. I’m not even quite sure how he manages it, but he does, and must find some degree of comfort from that precarious position.

Probably my favorite story about Slate, though, is his bedtime routine. Every night Carol invites him to jump on the bed with her and he is happy to cuddle – for a while. After about ten minutes or so, he’s ready to claim his own space in the guest bedroom, but apparently he’s reluctant to hurt Carol’s feelings. If she is staying awake reading for a while, he may eventually slink quietly off the bed and out of the room, looking guiltily at Carol (you know how dogs can get that guilty look, right?) as he creeps away. But it’s clear that he feels bad about leaving Carol alone.

Carol and Slate - puppy love

Carol and Slate – puppy love

In respect for his sensitive feelings, Carol now closes her eyes and pretends to sleep so Slate can amble off to his own room without remorse. As she peeks under lowered lids, she watches him quietly jump down and trot off to his own room with nary a backward glance. With Carol safely asleep, Slate seems to believe that he can put down the mantle of responsibility for his mom and their home until the morning.

Concord-20130410-00099

Me with Mick Jagger (left) and Little Richard. This is actually the day Mick and I met and rescued Richie. Mick looks skeptical.

I’ve only rescued dogs. Never raised a puppy. I’m not sure I’d have the patience to do so, frankly. But I can testify that the love I have for my boys, and that Carol has for Slate, is a joy, and a gift to both human and animal. So Happy New Year to Slate, to my Mick Jagger and Little Richard, and to all who rescue these sweet animals and welcome them into your hearts and lives.

The Boys say, “Woof” to that.

How to scare an intruder or get a gazillion likes on Facebook

Have you ever commented on a Facebook post and wish you hadn’t? I guess if you’re on Facebook at all, that had to have happened at one time or another (or another dozen times or so).

The car alarm may be my only hope, so I'm nearly hopeless.

The car alarm may be my only hope, so I’m nearly hopeless.

Here’s what happened. There’s a Facebook page called “The 411 for Madison” and last summer a guy suggested keeping your car keys by your bed and hitting the alarm button if you heard someone breaking into your house.

Well, I had read that before and thought it was a pretty good idea. But when I tried it at my old home in Madison, it didn’t work – presumably because my bedroom was too far from the garage. I never gave it another thought until the guy’s post and I commented that anyone wanting to do that should test it first to see if it works from their bedroom.

End of story.

But wait. Not so fast. This one post has generated 389,840 shares (and counting) and 132,945 likes (and counting) since mid-July. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t get at least one notice that someone either liked what I said or had further comments to share on the matter.

Yesterday I decided to see what on earth is generating all this conversation and I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the more interesting comments, like:

Heather T. said “Try sticking it under your chin and opening your mouth sounds crazy you look stupid but it has actually worked. It makes the signal go farther.”

Kami P. agreed, “That does work I do it all the time to lock my car from work.”

There were other comments on ways to make the signal go further, but then the discussion started wandering off course.

Sammy N. suggested, “Sleep on the couch, or park in your grass.”

Someone else suggested sleeping in the car. These did not seem like viable solutions to me.

Then Jordan D. (whose Facebook page says he lives in Ireland, so how the hell he got involved with “The 411 for Madison,” I can’t imagine) opened the discussion wide open by suggesting, “Hold the remote close to your taint, and Riverdance. Works every time.”

What taint?

What taint?

Whoa! Jordan! I’m not 100% sure what you are calling a “taint,” but I can imagine. While that made me spit out a little coffee and consider friending Jordan for future creative recommendations on any subject, I thought better of it and kept scrolling through to read further comments.

Steve W. had a different take on the situation, saying, “If I hear a noise outside at night I bark like a dog for ten minutes at the door. I do this crawling around on my hands and knees so the direction of the sound of my bark is realistic to anyone outside.”

Steve shared more tips on dog impersonations, but now let’s move on to other ideas people had as alternatives to relying on a car alarm to scare off burglars.

John M. warned us that, “When my dad was here he lived next door. In the country if he need us. He cared his car key and it worked great. So if u have a plan let the neighbors know. I sleep with a 45 colt on the night stand. And if ur coming and I don’t know You will be leaving feet first . . . .”

Joel H. added, “Got a plate carrier (what’s that?) and an AR (huh?) in condition 1 by the bed. 30 rounds on tap and a “few” more on my rig. If someone’s dicking around my house at night, car keys will not even enter my mind.”

I am not suggesting for one second that this might be Joel. But it could be. Thank you to crasstalk.com for the great pic I stole (please don't shoot me).

I am not suggesting for one second that this might be Joel. But it could be. Thank you to crasstalk.com for the great pic I stole (please don’t shoot me).

I don’t even know what Joel was talking about, but you can believe I will not be dicking around his house at night. Nossir.

I kind of agree with . . .

Levi F. who says, “If every time you hear a noise outside you turn your car alarm on, I will break into your house and slap you.”

Is that a burglar? No! It's Levi breaking into your house to slap you for setting off your car alarm AGAIN.

Is that a burglar? No! It’s Levi breaking into your house to slap you for setting off your car alarm AGAIN.

Thank you, Levi, for putting the whole car-alarm-as-burglar-deterrent concept into perspective.

One lady wondered how this could help her if she doesn’t have a driveway and her car is parked around the corner. Definitely a problem. Don’t count on your key alarm, ma’am.

And Alan pointed out that he doesn’t have car keys or an alarm. He starts his 1980 Escort with a screwdriver, but he does keep the screwdriver by his bed.

Finally, Kayla C. appears to be seriously concerned about security stating, “I’ll just keep guns under my bed, on my nite stand and my cameras outside of the home. If they steal I got them red handed and if they come near me and my kids they have to get threw my husband with a asult riffle and me with a 45.”

Rob F. claims, “I keep two lions and a chimpanzee with a machine gun in the house. Never had a break in.”

Dog and gun. Made me think, Moose and Squirrel!

Dog and gun. Made me think, Moose and Squirrel.

Linette, like Kayla, likes to cover all her bases: “I have been taking my car keys, baseball bat, golf club, house phone and cell phone to bedroom with me for some time. And my neighbors know when hubby is not home as my back up system.”

What? No gun, Linette?

As Vincent S. points out, “PLEASE READ AND SHARE THIS BETTER TIP. Put your Glock beside your bed at night because your car key won’t stop an intruder unless maybe you poke them in the eye.”

I’m not in favor of guns, but you can’t argue with that.

The boys bark at stupid shit all day but sleep like babies all night.

The boys bark at stupid shit all day but sleep like babies all night.

In the meantime, I had to delete my comment and I hope that will be an end to the multiple daily “likes” and crazy comments about using your damned car alarm to scare away burglars. I wish I could say the boys are here to warn and protect me, but I’m pretty sure anyone can safely break into my house unless it’s the mailman or a squirrel.

(Note:  All the quoted material is copied exactly as it was written. You know my spelling is better than that.)

Sunday thoughts about sleeping dogs and getting older

My dogs sleep with me. Sometimes Mick spoons me and you haven’t lived until you’ve been spooned by a dachshund. He’s the perfect length to serve as a heating pad from my neck to my waist. Little Richard might be curled in the crook of my knees or, on occasion, I’ve awakened to find his face inches from mine on the pillow next to me, watching and waiting patiently for me to wake up.

They are inevitably delighted when I do awaken, which brings me to the first of my Sunday morning musings. I always wonder why they are so excited to see me in the morning when they have spent the last seven or eight hours in such close proximity. To them, am I gone, leaving the shell of my body behind for the night? In those long hours, are they ever concerned about if or when I’ll come back?

Right before I woke up this morning I was dreaming about being in charge of a client’s banquet. A major sponsor was so upset by the table décor, he stormed out before dinner was served. Right before I woke up I was trying to soothe him and apologize for the misunderstanding.

The thing is, that’s where I WAS before something caused me to wake up. It was so real and my mind and phantom body were 100% engaged in the scene at hand.

I believe it’s clear to our dogs that we are elsewhere, even as they nest nearby in the folds of the comforter.

When the coffee is ready and I sit in my chair to check emails and Facebook, they can’t wait to jump on my lap – and go right back to sleep. It makes me wonder if they are tired from watching over me all night. As soon as I’m awake, they can relax and rest while I watch over them. I am happy and touched to return the favor.

And on Facebook . . . .

A new friend posted an article – probably from Huffington Post – on 60 being the new middle age.  Having turned 64 last week, there is a part of me that likes hearing that, even if it’s kind of silly. Not only do I doubt I could live to 120, I can honestly tell you I wouldn’t WANT to, either.

"When I'm 64" was on the Sgt. Pepper album about 45 years ago or so.

“When I’m 64” was on the Sgt. Pepper album about 45 years ago or so.

We Baby Boomers are not aging gracefully. Oh, I know most of us look younger and we do our best to style our hair in a fairly contemporary fashion and wear clothes that don’t look frumpy. I grew up with jeans and I can’t imagine ever NOT wearing them, so that alone differentiates us from every generation before us.

People my age talk about being more fit and active than our parents and grandparents, though I’m not sure that’s accurate, either. Maybe more of us paddleboard and ski and run 5k’s, but the more recent generations before us burned off calories and stayed active mowing their lawns with push mowers, shoveling snow out of the driveway, standing for hours in the kitchen to prep, cook and can pounds of tomatoes. You get the picture. Activity was part of life, rather than an effort undertaken to replace the lack of physical work in our daily existence.

Do we look better than these previous generations did at our age? Yes, I’d say so. But then, EVERYBODY of every age looks funny in the styles of the past. Medical advances may increase our expected longevity, as well as knowing we’d better wear sunscreen and recognizing the early onset symptoms of stroke or heart attack. There is a long list of reasons why 60 is closer to the middle of our lives than to the end, or at least physically appears to be.

My question is, who cares? It’s a number. Years ago, a famous woman (actress? Feminist? I can’t recall) was complimented by a reporter who couldn’t believe she looked so great for her age. Her reply was, “this is what 40 looks like.”

When people can’t believe I’m 64, I just laugh. This is what 64 looks like – at least for me, in this millennium, in my jeans and with my hair colored, etc., etc. I’m not afraid of getting “old.” Or worried about looking it, either.

I would love to be a grandmother. We’ll make cookies together and while they’re baking, I will read stories while a small child sits in my soft grandmother’s lap. I’ll continue to cuddle my soft little dogs in the meantime (well, and always!).

There’s nothing wrong with getting old, or being old. Old. Middle-aged. Whatever. I’m just ME. I would just like to tell everyone I love – don’t worry about it, for heaven’s sake. Just be. Enjoy. Love. Do things you like to do. Color your hair, or not. Be a granny AND a goddess. Life is good, my darlings. Embrace it while it lasts.

You know you might be a redneck when . . .

In hindsight, I realize that last night the boys – Mick Jagger the rock star, long-haired dachshund, and Little Richard, the neurotic terrier – were spending an inordinate amount of time in the back yard.  But since the doggie door in the kitchen allows them to go out to the fenced in backyard whenever they choose, I really wasn’t paying much attention.

Docile and mesmerized by something inane on TV, at some point it finally dawned on me that they’d been outside for quite some time – and quiet. Usually, they are prowling from one end of the yard to the other, barking regularly to keep our home safe from squirrels and Toby, the cat next door.

I turned on the porch light, peeked around the door and spotted Richie near the gate leading to the side yard, at the far end of the garage. I didn’t see Mick, but since his coat is black, I thought he just might be blending into the shadows of a large bush in the corner. Rich came running to the steps as soon as he saw me, but after calling  Mick several times, I became concerned when he didn’t appear.

Then suddenly, Mick came tearing through a gap in the fence from somewhere in the Great Beyond. I don’t know if he had been working on breaking out for a while, or if someone had interfered with my fence, but one of the plastic poles had broken away from the end of the gate and the chicken wire had been pushed aside to make a Micky-sized hole, perfect for escape.

You all KNOW how I feel about my boys, and especially Mick. I can admit he’s my favorite here because Rich can’t read and even if someone tries to tell him I’m partial to Mick, he won’t understand and/or won’t believe it, because I love them both more than is probably normal between pet owners and their animals, anyway.

So, in bathrobe and boots, in 20 degree weather, in the dark, I knew I had to do something to repair the fence and gate so my darling Mick could not escape again. Cute little soft, fluffy guy that he is, dachshunds are of the hound family and if he were to get loose and get wind of prey (even prey too large for him to realistically deal with), he’d be off like a shot, on the hunt. Coyotes have been spotted and heard just blocks away from me, and he wouldn’t stand a chance if he ran into one of those guys.

What to do? I looked around the yard and saw the two cheap aluminum lawn chairs I never got around to stowing in the garage last fall. They really belong to the dogs now, anyway, since they like to sit in them in the sun, if they’re not snow-covered. It occurred to me that I could wedge a chair into the gap and secure it with duct tape and, Bob’s your uncle, there it is:

Redneck fence repair

Redneck fence repair

For a small town, if not a city girl, I realize this is truly the quintessential redneck solution to emergency fence repair. That’s why I had to go outside to take a picture of this hot mess to share with you today.

I’m happy to report that the lawn chair/fence patch is keeping the boys safely inside the fence for now. I’m less happy to report that last night’s balmy temperature of 20 has dropped to just 11 degrees today, sunshine notwithstanding. I bundled up and went out with the intention of crafting a somewhat less ridiculous-looking repair job using chicken wire and zip ties to get us through until spring. But it’s so damned cold out there, all I could do is take the photo and run back inside.

Until the weather warms up a bit, I’m afraid the current fix will have to do. Let’s hope it keeps the little doggies in the back forty till then. Yee haw.

Dogs don’t get it

On most mornings the dogs wander into the bathroom just as I’m finishing my shower. It’s the walk-in type, and that’s exactly what they like to do when I’m done. Walk in and lick the water on the tiles and drain.

Before you report me for mistreating animals, I’d like to assure you that there are multiple bowls of fresh, clean water in the house. I fill the one in the kitchen at the same time I load up the coffee maker each morning.

Why they love the shower water, I don’t know. Dogs. Go figure.

Anyway, this morning I finished, toweled off, went through the usual routine and got dressed. No dogs. Where could they be?

Here they are. Looking out the window on my bed.

Is that woman every going to take us outside for a walk again? Bitch.

Is that woman every going to take us outside for a walk again? Bitch.

They do that every morning, too, but this morning I suspect they didn’t jump off to slurp up shower puddles because they were mesmerized by the view. The sun is shining and the snow is twinkling like an ice dancer’s tutu. I mean, it is gorgeous out there this morning. Postcard perfect.

I suspect they were thinking what I was thinking:  has the promised rise in temperatures started already? Could we maybe – just maybe – go outside for a walk?

I pulled up Accuweather on my phone and the temperature was . . . minus one degree. Yeah, and that’s Farenheit, folks.

Seriously?

The dogs are still wistfully looking out the window, this time from an armchair next to my desk. Richie even growled a little for no apparent reason just a second ago. I think he’s pissed because, well, dogs don’t get it.

The last time I tried to walk them just a teensy bit on a sunny, super-cold day like this, we didn’t even get to the end of the driveway. Little Richard started hopping around like he was dancing on a hot skillet to the tune (no doubt) of “Tutti Fruity.” And Mick Jagger just threw himself on the ground, refusing to walk another step.

I rushed them back to the house to remove their coats and warm up their poor, cold little paws. I could possibly get dog boots on Mick, by  the way, but it would take all morning to chase and wrestle neurotic Richie into any kind of foot protection, by which time, Mick would have gnawed his off.

It’s supposed to get up into the mid 30’s this week. If only I could explain and ask them to be patient. I want to go outside, too!

But dogs just don’t get it.

All I want for Christmas

When you reach a certain age, Christmas just isn’t about the gifts anymore. Yes, I know that theoretically it should NEVER be just about the gifts, but even as a good church-and-catechism-going young’un – it really was pretty much all about the gifts.

Now there is nothing that anyone could realistically give me that is in any way necessary or, as in my youth, desperately desired. Dare I say coveted? Sounds too biblical.

So what I want for Christmas this year is a new gadget that’s currently under development somewhere in the Scandinavian countries. It’s a device that reportedly translates your dog’s thoughts into English. Why not Danish or Norwegian or Swedish, you may ask? Well, obviously, this is because the inventors believe that only wacky, rich Americans would buy this device.

This dog is wondering who the hell wrapped this wired thing around his head.

This dog is wondering who the hell wrapped this wired thing around his head.

You bet! Sign me up! (Oh, wait. Might be wacky – but not so rich.)

Read all about it HERE. I hope that link works. If not, don’t bother letting me know because I’m not going to go back and screw around trying to put in the hyperlink thing again. Google it for yourself.

Anyhoo – I would most definitely like to know what the boys are thinking. Right now they are curled up in the easy chair next to my desk and popped their heads up expectantly when I glanced their way.

We love you, but we think you're lazy. Change out of that robe and take us for a walk. Now.

We love you, but we think you’re lazy. Change out of that robe and take us for a walk. Now.

“Walk?” they queried.

“Not now,” I mentally responded.

Maybe I don’t need that device after all.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and thanks for reading! XOXOXO