Clearly exhausted by a long night of barking and sleeping on the sofas, Nan and Bonnie display the playful enthusiasm which characterizes our terriers.
Here’s a sequel I didn’t see coming. Not so soon, at least. And, after all our recent trials and tribulations, it’s nice to write this piece. Remember, it’s day by day. We were just trying to figure out how to say goodbye to Bishop aka Bubba, our beloved Australian Shepherd. That was two days ago.
In our last piece, Bubba was struggling to move around and clearly in lots of pain. We figured it was a combination of muscle damage and arthritis. He was staying downstairs to avoid the stairs which obviously were too much for him. The vet didn’t have much to say except try to make Bubba as comfortable as possible. It didn’t look good.
Bubba has been getting slow walks outside, to get some air and do his business. He didn’t seem interested in joining the other three dogs in our front yard which is reserved for them. I cajoled and enticed him to no avail. I even got down on my knees and barked at him. Nothing! He just didn’t want to hang with the other furry kids and bark at things, real and imagined. That was yesterday.
Today, so far, is bright, sunny and warm. A good day to be outside for folks, two and four-legged. I sent the three little kids, Bonnie, Nan and Amber outside to play and closed the doggie door. Marilyn suggested Bubba might be interested. I didn’t think so based on the past two days. But, what the heck, give it a shot, right?
I led Bubba out the downstairs door and out to the driveway. Didn’t expect much. I turned around and he was right on my heels. Wow! I opened the gate to the front yard and, before I could say anything, Bubba raced by me and joined his pals. I couldn’t believe it. The little ones greeted Bubba with cheery barks and they began looping the yard with fresh energy.
I’m not sure how the day will end for Bubba. Marilyn has just suggested I bring him in so he doesn’t overdo things. I’ll do that. But, at least, for one bright April afternoon, our Bubba is doing okay. We’ll take that, One day at a time!
There was a very poignant post on Facebook today showing police officers bidding farewell to one of their own, a K-9 partner. You could see the sadness in the eyes of the otherwise stoic law officers. It struck home.
One of our furry kids is in a bad place. The big dog, the affable enforcer in our canine family which includes a Scottie, a Norwich Terrier and a mini Dachshund. We call him Bubba because of his lovable personality. He’s our big, huggable Australian Shepherd.
Painfully shy when he came to live with us, he has gradually become part of our family, both human and 4-legged. Bubba used to be afraid of his shadow, but Bonnie, our unflappable Scottie – ring-leader of the fur people, took Bubba under her wing. Bonnie made it clear shyness doesn’t get you anywhere in our family. It certainly doesn’t get you attention. More importantly, it doesn’t get you those extra biscuits.
Bubba learned. He learned so well he began showing up in my office as I worked on my first cup of coffee in the morning. Not my best time of day.
Bubba’s finest moment came recently when Marilyn was taking pictures. Bubba wasn’t in the shot, but decided he wanted to be included. He just poked his head into the shot making it clear he wasn’t going to be left out of the festivities. Bubba had arrived!
We have a lot of strong personalities in the house. We’re not camera-shy or modest. Bubba made it clear he wanted billing above the title in our family soap drama.
Something went wrong in the last couple of weeks. Bubba, not the most agile of dogs, has taken several tumbles on the stairs. We thought he had shaken them off but we were wrong. Bubba sustained a back injury while simultaneously has been developing his own serious case of arthritis. Arthritis is something of a plague in this household. Quite literally, everyone’s got it.
Now he’s dragging his rear end. The stairs are impossible for him. It’s painful to watch our big guy struggle to move around. Marilyn says big dogs are more prone to this kind of injury than small ones.The vet says there’s nothing to be done for him but to give him pain-killers and make him as comfortable as possible. Maybe he’ll get better. We can hope.
Bubba is now living downstairs with the junior members of our family. He is actually their dog even though we feel he belongs to all of us. Bubba is still eating well and responds quickly to offers of biscuits. But something is different. It’s clear his energy is sapped. He moves slowly. Hard to believe, but we miss his baying at the moon and those furtive three o’clock in the morning shadows.
It’s about quality of life. Some family members are hoping for a miracle. We’ve all been down this road before. It’s not about us or our feelings. Saying goodbye will be difficult and we’ll hold off on it as long as we can. But, in the end, it’s about Bubba.
Friends come in many sizes and shapes. Horses, dogs, cats and other warm fuzzy creatures give our lives texture and joy … and old things holding memories of other times and places … these too become friends, holding our memories and reminding us of the lives we have lived and things we have done.
Old Number 2 is one of Uxbridge‘s oldest fire trucks. Long out of service, he still has his own place, standing through the years and seasons in a field across from the post office. He’s become my old friend, put out to pasture but like me, remembering his glory days.
Horses in the pasture, friendly and hoping for snack, an apple or a carrot maybe …
Many of our fur children have gone to the bridge, but they are never forgotten. More of them on other days, I promise.
One autumn day, in a rare family project, we made a couple of friends of our own … classic New England symbols of Autumn and the harvest. We made them from yard sale clothing, two bales of hay, and their painted faces on old pillow cases were created by Kaity and Stefania … at that brief period as they were transitioning from girls to young women.
Finally, we meet the farmer’s old truck. He stands in a field around the corner, behind the fire station … an old friend put out to pasture, holding too many fond memories to send him to a junk yard. Instead, he stands ever waiting if he should be called back to duty.
Just this, no more, all within a mile of home. It IS home.
This is my all-time favorite oddball — funny — picture. All my dogs are comedians, but this time, Bishop won the prize for funniest.
The big guy wanted to make sure he got into that shot. I could have as easily omitted him from the picture by simply moving the camera a little bit, but he was hilarious, sticking his head in there. He reminded me of Mel Brooks playing the waiter at the Last Supper in “History of the World Part I.”
Bishop has been taking clown lessons!
Bishop, our Australian Shepherd is possibly the most beautiful Aussie I’ve ever seen. From nose to rump (he has no tail) he’s magnificent. Okay, he isn’t necessarily the smartest of his breed but he may be the sweetest. He’s loving. Passionate even.
If you look him in the eyes, all sixty pounds of gigantically furry pooch will be in your lap and licking you to death before you can say “No, Bishop, you’re too BIG!”
As the tractor dug the layer of ice off the asphalt of our crumbling driveway, Bishop, who had been lolling about the living room trolling for treats realized he was neglecting his duties as watchdog.
Bishop has never entirely grasped the whole “guarding” concept, but he has gotten very adept at the “keep barking until they go away” piece of the puzzle. Given even the slightest motivation, he will bark continuously. Motivation is loosely defined as someone or something in the driveway, on the property or nearby in the woods or on neighboring properties.
If no reason presents itself, he will nonetheless bark continuously — for no apparent reason. Perhaps it is a preventative measure lest some unwanted human or critter be considering invading the territory.
Bonnie is more than happy to help with the barking. The two of them together, sometimes assisted by one or more of the other two dogs, can bark for hours if no one stops them — usually by suggesting it’s biscuit time.
Today they had a reason to bark and bark they did. Mostly, it was Bishop’s day. That big green machine must have looked pretty threatening! And barking must have been the right thing to do because it went away. See? Bark and it makes everything alright.
I have to give a nod to Gaupola’s post today, Linda’s Brain Peanuts Remembers Soda Pop. It got me thinking. There’s just one big perk to getting old, other than senior discounts: memories.
Everything reminds me of something. No matter what anyone is talking about, it brings back something that happened a long time ago or maybe yesterday. I may not have money, but I am rich in memories. Or would be, if I could remember whatever that thing is I can’t quite recall. It’s right on the tip of my tongue. Never mind. I’ll remember later. Something will remind me.
Last night was the final night of the Westminster Kennel Club show. It’s the 138th year of the show.
“Westminster gets its name from a long gone hotel in Manhattan. There, sporting gentlemen used to meet in the bar to drink and lie about their shooting accomplishments. Eventually they formed a club and bought a training area and kennel. They kept their dogs there and hired a trainer.
“They couldn’t agree on the name for their new club. But finally someone suggested that they name it after their favorite bar. The idea was unanimously selected, we imagine, with the hoisting of a dozen drinking arms.”
– Maxwell Riddle, from a newspaper story quoted in
“The Dog Show, 125 Years of Westminster” by William Stifel
Westminster is my Superbowl. I love watching beautiful dogs, seeing what the newest “official” AKC breeds are. Watching the show reminded me about the dogs I grew up with. Not only my dogs, but the dogs that belonged to the kids I played with.
When I was a kid — that would be the 1950s in case you’re wondering — everyone owned purebred dogs. Not just rich people, but working people. Even poor people. Garry grew up with a Collie. We had Doberman Pinschers. My friend Betty had a Shetland Sheepdog. Mary had a Chihuahua. Carol had a Havanese. I thought she was making up the breed because it wasn’t listed by the American Kennel Club, but now it is. Sure enough, it’s the dog she had. Apologies, Carol. I shouldn’t have said you were making it up.
People make a big deal these days about purebred dogs being an elitist thing, but they weren’t then and I resent the label now. When I was growing up, if you wanted a dog, you went to a breeder and bought a puppy.
There was nothing elitist about it. It never occurred to anyone we were failing to save doomed dogs by getting the puppy we wanted. Maybe there weren’t so many doomed dogs in the 1950s. Regardless, it was simple. We bought a puppy. Raised the puppy. Kept the puppy until he or she died of old age.
We didn’t abandon our dogs or let them breed randomly … mostly, not at all. We kept them in fenced yards or on leashes, had them spayed, though rarely neutered. It wasn’t something anyone did back then.
I still own purebred dogs. Two are re-homed from owners or breeders who were no longer able to keep them. Bonnie, our Scottish Terrier was a puppy farm rescue who we bought from her rescuer. She is a joy to our hearts and brightens every day of our lives. Amber, the miniature dachshund was the only one we bought “on purpose.” She was supposed to be a birthday present for Garry, but somehow wound up Kaity’s dog. Sometimes the puppy makes the choice, not the human.
I love breeds. I love knowing this puppy will grow up with this set of characteristics. Will be this size, have this personality type.
All of this came up because watching the dog show reminded me of all the dogs we had as kids. Everything reminds me of something.
by Ben Huberman on February 10, 2014
If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?
Photographers, artists, poets: show us TONGUE.
I want to learn DOG. I want to explain to all my canines in their own unique tongues so they can’t pretend they don’t understand (oh, I know your games … you understand fine when you want to) to stop barking all the time at absolutely nothing. Of, if you are barking at something, please … tell me what you see that I don’t see? And about that early morning chorus. You have such beautiful voices, my furry babies … but why six in the morning? If you are all about praising the Lord (other than Garry, your Dog God) … can we reschedule services for a bit later? How about 11 in the morning? Even noon. I don’t think a deity would be offended by a slightly late start and I would be personally grateful.
And about those tongues.
When I get out of the shower, you do not have to lick every exposed inch of my body. Really, I just did that with soap and hot water and although I’m sure you mean the very best, I always feel sort of slimy when you’ve finished redoing the process in your own special ways. And hey, I’ve seen the stuff you eat out in the yard. Don’t lie to me. I know where that tongue has been. Eww and double yuck!
I know you talk to each other. I’ve seen you each approach one another … then get up, and go and a pair to the next canine, then all three of you embark on some kind of group activity … usually barking in chorus or a good howl. Or a trip to the kitchen where you stand around giving us the dead-eye until we produce treats. So you communicate. I just would appreciate you letting me in on the secret.
I could make a pretty penny doing dog food commercials and movies if I could simply explain in native DOG … tell you guys what I want you to do. Training would be unnecessary. Just a simple chat, and voilà! Tricks? No problem. Then, instead of being fuzzy, over-indulged lounge lizards, you could become productive members of society. Maybe with dental and health benefits. And think about how great it would be if you could really tell me what was bothering you? I could stop guessing … a boon for both of us!
Thanks for listening. And please, whatever you are barking at? Give it a rest!
Other Wonderful Entries:
Other people’s dogs are forever doing cute things. As far as I can tell, they always do their cute stuff when there’s sufficient light to get a sharp picture.
Not my kids. Uh uh. If they do anything cute, the camera is in the other room. Or the light is terrible. If I have a camera — as I did today — it’s inevitably the camera with the slow lens. The Olympus cameras with the fast lenses? They are in the camera case in my office. Down the hall.
The quality of my doggy photography is dubious, to say the least. Undaunted, I still publish the pictures, out of focus and all. Because by golly, my dogs are adorable! It’s not their fault mom can’t get a clear shot of them. Well, it is a little. They could hold still and let me focus.
Today Garry and I watched the Kitten Bowl. Before you say anything, I know, it’s stupid. But it was fun watching a bunch of cute kitties run around playing for three hours. Pointless and silly, but adorable. I took a few pictures of the terriers who were clearly underwhelmed by the event.
I’ll be interested to see if they show more esprit de corps when AT&T’s puppy bowl comes around.
Yes, we’ll watch that too. We are total suckers for baby animals. If that’s the worst anyone can say about us, we’re doing just fine!
This is Bonnie’s spot, her lookout post. Up on the top of the sofa back, on her own cushion. Nose on glass with the picture window … which is so covered with nose prints, it is very nearly opaque.
She can see everything. She sleeps here, unless she is on the sofa with us and she would probably only leave there to eat or go outside and bark (and bark and bark and bark) if only we would join her rather than stubbornly insisting on sitting on the reclining loveseat — from which we can watch TV.
All the dogs have a “spot” that is their own. Nan’s is at my feet, under my desk in the office — if I’m in the office. Otherwise, on the foot of the recliner if I’m in the living room. Bishop sleeps outside when there’s snow cover. He really likes the snow. A lot. Inside, he sleeps on the landing at the head of the stairs or on the landing between upper and lower floors. I think it’s a guard dog thing.
Bonnie is the only one who cares about having a view. She watches. She looks asleep, but she is just resting, ready to spring into action in a heartbeat. Our little soldier, protecting her world and us.
I sort of fell down the stairs today.
Garry said “You can’t ‘sort of’ fall down the stairs. You either fall down the stairs or you don’t fall down the stairs.”
“Well, I only fell down half the stairs. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t break anything.”
“What were you doing on the stairs?”
“Delivering Amber’s dinner. I called downstairs, but no one answered. K had the music up loud. K said she was conditioning her hair and couldn’t hear … I don’t see the connection … and DIL was asleep. So I figured Amber shouldn’t suffer because they weren’t letting her upstairs, but on the second step, my ankle turned. I knew I was going down, but I grabbed the railing. So I only fell the first couple of steps and spilled dog food all over the hallway. DIL cleaned up the dogfood. Bonnie and Bishop were very helpful too.
“I did something to my foot,” and I trailed off. Lame and limping.
I showed him my foot. It was (is) swollen and the toes are sort of purplish. And not aligned in the usual way. “It’s only my foot,” I pointed out. “It could have been my back. That would have been really bad. This is nothing, really. Aren’t you glad I was able to grab the railing and keep from falling all the way?”
He looked like a gathering storm and was not smiling. Not even a tiny smirk. “It,” said Garry, “Is not nothing. It is bullshit. It’s over. Enough.”
Meanwhile, DIL has been slinking around all evening asking me if it still hurts. “Yes, it hurts. I will live. I don’t think anything’s broken. It feels like tissue, not bone. But it hurts. And it’s pretty swollen. The ice isn’t really helping.”
Garry says if it looks this bad in the morning, I have to go see a doctor. Get an x-ray. I pointed out it’s the end of the month and we are totally absolutely completely broke. We can’t even afford the copay, much less the deductible or medication or, god forbid, crutches.
He said he doesn’t care. I need to see the doctor. I said I don’t think it hurts enough to be serious. He pointed out that I’m a bad judge of what “hurts enough” since I pretty much never think anything hurts enough to pay for a doctor.
DIL promised to make sure Amber is upstairs at dinner time so I don’t have to navigate the stairs carrying her bowl of food. I said that would be nice. Garry is still pissed off. My foot remains swollen.
And … I’m still waiting for my cardiologist to call and tell me what kind of heart surgery I need and how soon I need it because apparently, there’s no question I have to get the mitral valve fixed. The only remaining issue is when and if they have to also do something about the aortic valve.
Do I know how to have fun or what?
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