We have four dogs, one of whom has a drinking problem. It’s not medical. We’ve checked it out with any number of veterinarians and there is nothing physically wrong with Bishop. He merely drinks a lot of water. Actually, he probably drinks a normal amount of water, but he drinks it all at once. When he begins drinking, he goes on for what seems forever.

Three amigos
Three amigos looking down on “owner”

Not surprisingly, when he has to pee, he releases an ocean. It’s absolutely tidal.

Now, the mystery.

Bishop Almost Christmas

With four dogs, we have two water bowls. A big blue-green plastic one that’s bigger than some dogs, and a somewhat smaller stainless steel bowl. They sit side by side on the floor in the kitchen. The stainless bowl used to be on the left, the plastic bowl on the right. For reasons of convenience (mine), I switched them a while ago, so now the big plastic bowl is on the left, and the stainless steel bowl on the right. No big deal, right?


Bishop used to drink entirely from the stainless steel bowl. We assumed he preferred the taste of water from the steel bowl, but when I switched the position of the bowls, Bishop began drinking exclusively from the plastic bowl. Apparently he will only drink from the left-hand bowl.

I was just in the kitchen and Bishop was standing over the empty plastic bowl, obviously sad because there was no water. Directly next to it, the stainless bowl was full. But he wouldn’t drink from it. He will only drink from the bowl on the left.

All the other dogs will drink from either bowl, apparently without preference.

Ideas anyone?


It snowed more during the past 10 days than in any previous 10-day period in recorded (weather) history in Massachusetts. Considering how much snow we have gotten in single storms — including some epic blizzards (1978 comes to mind) — that’s no small thing. It looks more like Siberia around here than New England.


I would love to see what the rest of the world looks like. Probably gorgeous, but getting from here to anywhere else is the impossible dream. I’m just hoping we are dug out in time to get to Anton’s concert in Worcester. Someone else is doing the driving, so we’ll be satisfied with being able to slog up to the top of the driveway to get our ride.


Bishop and Bonnie are good with winter, as long as snow gets shoveled so that they have room to do their thing. Kind of hard to be a proper pooch if you stand 15 inches at the shoulder, but the snow on the ground is more than four feet deep. Bishop can usually plow his way through, though this time, even he is hesitant to tackle the drifts. The smaller dogs can’t get there from here if the snow is deeper than they are. So Garry has been doing a lot of shoveling and then, it snows some more and he shovels more. Fortunately, he’s in good shape and will be in better shape by the time the snow is gone.


Bonnie, doughty Scottie, loves snow. She was a winter puppy. Her first life experiences were of snow. Tiny, bounding around the yard while I begged her to get down to business so poor frozen mom could go defrost. She bounds a little less these days … but she’s still pretty perky and she loves snow! She is Bonnie of the Storms, Bonnie of the Blizzard. The little black dog that could.


Two Right Feet - What are the things you need to do within 30 minutes of waking up to ensure your day gets off on the right foot? What happened the last time you didn’t do one of these things?

I didn’t have a good night. I’ve got some kind of … what … virus? Whatever it is, I feel like the Marne in September 1914. If the Germans are a viral infection and I am six French field armies and the British Expeditionary Force. I will ultimately win this encounter, but there will be casualties. Many.

Nan and Bishop

These days, I take my victories where I find them.

Which in no way means my morning will progress any differently than usual. Life is a checklist. Don’t argue, just do it. And the dogs run the place and wrote the checklist.


The worst part of the process is the beginning. Getting out of bed. Getting dressed. I can’t do life from the bed, not even on a bad day. I get to stay only if I am too ill to get up. Any other time, I have to wend my weary way to the recliner in the living room, where my computer lives. With a cup of coffee. There are a few steps I need to take along the way.


Did I mention the dogs run the place? Four furry faces greet me. I tell them to go out. No biscuits until they do their business. While they’re out — all of two minutes — I press the button on the coffee machine.

The dogs do not have a water dish. They have a water trough. It’s big enough for a camel and there’s a second bowl, too. Both need washing and refilling. Sometimes, a bit of moisture remains in one of them, but usually, both are dry. I’m sure they have drinking contests during the night, because the last thing Garry or I do before bed is fill both bowls. Is there a 12-step program for this?

They get a round of Greenies. I wash some dishes. put an English muffin in to toast. The dogs are watching. They are focused. Bonnie is jumping up and down. What a thrill! Mom is IN the kitchen. Magic time!

Round 2 of Greenies. I start the computer, then back to the kitchen. The dogs are trying to convince me they’ve never had a treat and will collapse from starvation any moment. This would play better to a different audience. I’m the one who — mere moments ago — gave them two rounds of Greenies. It’s a bravura performance, but they’ll have to do it for Garry a little later. I’m not buying the act.

Nan - 14

I have a headache plus a sore throat. And a cough. I feel sorry for myself, but it could be worse. It’s not snowing or raining. They don’t mind snow, except Nan who minds everything these days. On snow days, we go through a lot of towels.

But rain is a different story. They don’t like it and make their feelings known. Beep. The piercing cry of the toaster alerts me my toasted English is ready. As is the coffee. I’m ready for coffee.

What would happen if I didn’t do this stuff? You’re kidding, right?


A Photo a Week Challenge: Humor

This picture comes with a back story.

We have four dogs. Technically, Garry and I have two and the other two belong to my son. Ours are the two terriers, Bonnie, the Scottie, and Nan, the Norwich. Owen has the big Australian Hairball — I mean, Shepherd — and Amber, the odd-eyed Miniature Dachshund. Amber is a Velcro dog and only puts in an upstairs appearance if there’s a biscuit in it or when dinner is served.

Bishop, on the other hand, is upstairs more than he is downstairs. He’s big, hairy, and friendly. The only dog in a houseful of bitches. (Well, they are bitches. Dogs are male, bitches are female. Get used to it.)

On this day, the two terriers had just come home from the groomer. Looking good. Time to get a few pictures before they went outside to roll in the dirt, or dig a tunnel to Australia. I had cajoled Garry into putting on a nice pair of jeans, and posing with The Girls.

Neither terrier will let me take a picture unless they are physically restrained … or sleeping. Why not? No idea. I don’t even use a flash. Nonetheless, the moment I take a camera out of the bag, they head for the doggy door and all I get is a picture of their furry butts as they make their escape.

I had them lined up. Garry was smiling. I think the girls were smiling, but it can be hard to tell. And suddenly, Bishop decided he was not going to be left out.

dogs with bishop and gar

I could have shot around him, but he clearly felt he was being unreasonably excluded. Even though Bishop is usually no more eager to be a photo subject than the other canines. This time, though, he was going to participate. One way or the other.


No one will notice.

Our cat, Big Guy, was a very smart feline. Beautiful, sweet, funny. We lived in Boston back then and he was not allowed outside. Between the traffic, disease, and stray dogs, it was not a world to which I would expose our gentle boy. Of course Big Guy wanted out. I could not blame him, but there was no way he was setting paws onto those mean streets.

Big Guy
Big Guy

Yet, every once in a while, we would have the door open, bringing in packages, or coming, or going. Big Guy, tail at full mast, would walk out the door towards the street. No running. Measured steps.

No one will notice,” he must have thought. “I’ll just casually stroll out and inspect the neighborhood.” Of course we noticed. When his attention was called, he looked at us as if to say, “What? Don’t I do this every day?”

Then there are the dogs. Bishop, the size of a small, but extremely furry pony, calmly walking out the back door. Like it’s an everyday occurrence.

Or Bonnie, with her long black claws clacking down the hallway, in her ongoing attempt to get into the laundry basket,  or Nan, trying to steal the mouse from my computer. They are sure no one will notice.

Last night we were watching Castle. The bad guys were trying to kill them. The last of the good guys had been shot and was in the hospital. Castle and Beckett decide to interview the guy — secretly, in his hospital room. Except … you mean … no one will notice this famous author and his cop partner going into the room of a heavily guarded near-victim?

Beckett and Castle were working under the same fundamental belief as Big Guy. No one will notice. We’ll just casually stroll into the hospital room, no problem.


Sure enough. When the scriptwriter is on your side, anything is possible. Of course, it got the guy killed, but he was merely a guest star, so it didn’t matter.

In real life, everyone notices. I have never successfully snuck anyplace without someone hailing me, asking for my identification, or deciding they need to chat about something. Maybe it’s me. I do not seem to have a stealthy bone in my body.

Sad, but true. Despite the premise in so many television shows and the belief of my dogs that no one will notice whatever they do … not even that big furry butt skulking towards the forbidden exit … I never get away with anything. Ever.

Probably it’s time for me to give up my plans of becoming the next great international spy. You think?


Final Trio

For our final trio prompt of the year, write about any topic you wish, but make sure your post features a bookcase, something cracked, and a song you love.

almost christmas

Today is December 20 and Christmas is just 5 days away.

There’s something alarming about that statement. Actually, there is a lot of alarming in that statement. First of all, there’s got to be some kind of serious error because the day before yesterday, it was Thanksgiving and I’m pretty sure I’ve still got some leftovers in my refrigerator. Probably I should deal with that before they grow legs and try to make a run for it.

The house is appropriately Christmasy, from the bookcase full of sentimental seasonal films, to the cracked glass ornaments we hang anyway. I don’t throw away things I love because they are imperfect. If I had to be perfect, I’d have long since been sent to the dustbin.

poinsettia almost christmas

Saturday morning, less than a week from Christmas. I ought to be bustling about, wrapping and cleaning and arranging. Maybe not. It’s not such a huge event this year. No need to rent extra chairs or extend the table. Just some wrapping, run the vacuum over the dusty rug. Rearrange the cards and flowers on the table. Our lives are much neater than they used to be. Without kids in the house, we only need to contend with the disorder created by three small doggies — plus one giant hairy heap of dog.


Of all our canine packs, this is the best mannered. Never mind that Bonnie has determined to prove she can bark more than any dog in history. She goes outside and doesn’t shut up for hours. We finally locked her — locked all of them — in the house last night in the hopes that she would forget about whatever it was that was setting her off. There are probably deer hanging around the house. We’ve seen a lot of them lately. Our dogs don’t bark at people. In their reckoning, people are fine. They have to protect us from other animals, especially other dogs.

nan almost christmas

Our friendly neighborhood bobcat really sets them on their collective ears. He stands right outside the fence and taunts them. I’ve read all the handouts from the wildlife people who say the bobcats are very shy and run away at the first sign of human activity, but not our bobcat. He isn’t afraid of us OR the dogs and is smart enough to realize the dogs can’t get out of the fenced yard. So he sits there, like any household feline, casually washing his paws and ears while the dogs go berserk. As do the neighbors.

Bishop Almost Christmas

Bonnie doesn’t need any special reason to bark. She is highly communicative. Not so much conversational as given to loud monologues. Maybe she is singing carols for the other dogs? If so, they are mostly not picking up her cue. With a little luck, she will finally go hoarse.

In the spirit of both Christmas and a night of one silent night of No Barking, Garry’s favorite Christmas song.


I opened one eye. Just a little. Snow, definitely snow. Falling on my house. My trees. My deck.

“It’s not fair,” I think to myself. “We have to go into Boston tonight. Not snow. No, no, no, NO!” I’ve still got “Can’t Buy Me Love” stuck in my head.

I consider just staying there, under the covers. But my head hurts . Coffee thoughts are milling around. That and the realization that the dogs would need encouragement to actually go outside. They seem to think if the weather is bad, they should be allowed to stay in. Use the floor.

Two Terrier 7

Do we, their humans, go out to the yard to do our business? So how come they have to, huh? Pointing out they are dogs and we are not doesn’t carry any weight with them. They look at me, and I can see little thought balloons: “And your point is?” they are thinking.

I struggle into some P J pants and a sweat shirt. Usually I get dressed before I leave the bedroom. Maybe not fancy, but real clothing, more or less. Hair combed, face washed, teeth brushed. My “face the world” look … but we have a concert this evening and I’m going to have to get  properly dressed later. Twice in a day is once too many.

kitchen window january

In the kitchen, the platoon of furry faces is waiting. Panting with eagerness. I explain, again, the whole going out thing and like a pack of clowns in the circus, they race, hop, and limp down the stairs. They all try to go out the doggy door at the same time. Lots of scrabbling of paws on the floor. Bunch of clowns.

“One at a time!” I yell, but they ignore me and continue to fight their way out. My headache is getting worse. I click the coffee to “on” and wait. I hear the thunder of paws as all four dogs charge back up the stairs.

“You didn’t DO anything out there,” I reprove them. They only stayed out an eighth of a second. They didn’t have time to do anything. Nonetheless, I give them each a greenie, and they go to their separate places to furtively consume, lest some other dog steal a crumb. I haven’t had a chance to reconnoiter before they are back.

As I write, the snow is falling.
As I write, the snow is falling.

“You haven’t finished chewing yet,” I point out, but it doesn’t matter. One biscuit is not enough. They need another (and another and another) and I give them another one and wish the coffee would brew faster because I’m going to crumple to the kitchen floor and just lay there moaning.

And finally. Enough coffee to put into the cup. We use big cups. With covers. So we don’t wind up with our coffee in our keyboards. Usually I am polite and wait for the coffee to finish brewing before I take some, but this morning, I want it and I want it right now. If Garry wants first crack at the coffee, he can get up earlier.

I know he’s awake, really. I saw his eye open. He was looking at the clock, calculating if he could get another couple of hours of sleep. 10:15 is right on the cusp of “get up or roll over.” It can go either way. I hear him moving around the bedroom, so clearly getting up won.

I got the first cup of coffee. But oh, happy day, the dogs will get another biscuit.

Daily Prompt: Ready Set Done