SAYING GOODBYE TO A FURRY FRIEND

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.

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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.

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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.

MARILYN’S FRIDAY: I’M SHOCKED!

Usually I’d wait til later in the day to write an update post since Marilyn’s return home Monday from complex heart valve surgery. But some funny and encouraging things have happened this morning. I figured I’d best write as coffee is slowly clearing the cobwebs in my mind.

Where to begin? Latest news at the top, right? Okay, Marilyn is waiting for the visiting nurse to arrive for today’s session. Visit number two. We’re properly attired, Marilyn in a clean nightgown and me in my “Dogfather” lounge pants and top.

Diane, Marilyn’s nurse has just arrived. Her first visit. We’ve greeted each other. I continue writing as Diane checks and examines Marilyn

Marilyn was able to put on her nightgown WITHOUT assistance, using her arms and with minimal pain. FIRST time since she came home. Give the lady a hug, kiss and round of applause after Diane leaves.

My Claude Rains moment came a little earlier this morning. I was relaxing on the love seat, sipping coffee and waiting for my brains to show some life. Nan, our Norwich Terrier, was lying at my feet watching Marilyn. Nan is Marilyn’s dog. Her faithful companion. She follows Marilyn wherever she goes. I’m normally ignored. I used to be a household name for more than 31 years as a Boston TV news reporter. I used to be somebody.

Well, Marilyn had to answer nature’s call. She got up by herself from the love seat. Another first this week. No, don’t stop the presses. Not yet. Marilyn walked slowly away and into the bathroom. Normally, Nan would be right behind her. Marilyn’s faithful companion usually follows her Mom right into the bathroom, pushing open the door and moving right up to where business is being conducted. Frequently, Nan grunts like a pig, signaling the other dogs Mom is in the bathroom. They scamper down the hallway and gaze from the bathroom door. Nan sends out sideline reports about Marilyn’s efforts. Wide, wide world of sports!

Not today. Nan didn’t budge as Marilyn left the living room. She stayed at my feet, grunting with satisfaction. Okay, now the “Louie Renault” moment. Marilyn called from the bathroom but Nan never moved. I was shocked! Absolutely shocked!

Diane’s just wrapped up her visit with Marilyn. They’re laughing. Marilyn’s blood pressure and heart rate look pretty okay. Here’s hoping the rest of this Friday is good.

AHAB, THE CAT WHO WANDERED

Back in another life, I lived in a little house on Long Island, not far from the university where I’d gone to school and at which my husband worked. We always had a dog and several cats. In those days, we let our cats outside. There wasn’t much traffic and everyone’s cats roamed the neighborhood.

One day, while we were out in the yard, we had a visitor, a medium-sized black and white cat. He was extremely friendly. Sidled right up to us, purring, and doing that little head butt that’s so endearing. Maybe he was hungry? Of course we fed him.

My son fell immediately in love and we said he could keep the cat.

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My husband had a passion for the classics. He named the cat Ahab, which he said meant “wanderer.” Princeton University agrees, except the name in Hebrew means “uncle.” (Which is irrelevant but I threw it in because I did the research and wanted to do something with the information. Back to the story, already in progress.)

Ahab was a sweetheart, the most laid-back cat I ever knew. My 4-year old felt he needed a bubble bath in a bucket. Ahab purred his way through the bubbles and the rinse cycle, then continued purring all the way through dinner and a relaxed evening on the sofa with the whole family.

We couldn’t figure out why anyone would let a sweet fellow like Ahab go. He was young. Healthy. Litter trained, though he preferred going outside to do his business. His coat was shiny and he showed no sign of abuse or neglect. He oozed charm.

Ahab settled in like he’d always lived with us. He got along with the dog and the other cats. Loved children. Loved everyone. We made a date to take him to vet and get his shots.

He never went to the vet, at least not with us. The following day, without so much as a “by your leave,” Ahab moved down the block and took up residence with a different family. We were a little wounded. We’d never been abandoned by a cat before. His new family adored him but Ahab only hung around a few day, then moved on.

We eventually lost track of Ahab. He moved from house to house, charming everyone and purring his way to his next home. He never stayed longer than a few days and was always the perfect house guest.

Was he a stray? If he was, it was because that’s what he wanted to be.  Ahab was a wanderer by choice.

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MEMORY DOGS

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.

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“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.

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Havanese

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.

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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.

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ANYONE WANT SOME TONGUE?

Daily Post: Take That, Rosetta!

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:

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  3. Concrete Navy | Exploratorius
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  5. Lovely language of love and lust – Daily Prompt | alienorajt
  6. Cat Tongues are rough | Purple Rosemary
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  9. Screaming in Unheard Tongues | 365 days of defiance
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DOGS FIND KITTEN BOWL UNDER-WHELMING

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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PROTECTION DETAIL

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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.

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: JOY OF DOGS WITH THEIR PERSON

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Joy!  

WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

BishopARTO-300-72“Hey, wait, stop,” I say.

But I am late, too late. Covered with ice and melting snow, the huge hairy beast is on me. Before can dodge out of the way, I am as sodden, and far colder, than Bubba. He likes the weather. He’s got a fur coat. I have naked skin, a serious disadvantage in wintry New England.

I glance out the window.

Late in the twilight. Almost dark. No stars shining nor moon. The heavy cloud cover obscures the sky. Looking up, all I can see are swirls of snowflakes. What little light remains reflects on the whitened driveway and yard. Every branch is glittering — as if a giant with a marking pen has come to highlight my world.

Winter is here even if  the calendar hasn’t caught up. The fluffy whiteness and biting wind are unmistakable evidence the seasons have switched. Not to mention the giant sodden fur ball melting in my lap, pinning me to the sofa and breathing hotly in my face.

I am sure Mother Nature isn’t big on dates. Or double-checking to see if the solstice has come. When she and Mr. Frost get together to party, we get buried. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later.

Before I have a chance to move, the other fur children arrive, each wearing a snow blanket, trailing puddles and paw prints across what had been an almost clean floor. They are so wonderfully happy. I regard my house and my pack. They are bouncing around like a pile of doggy ping-pong balls, exuding enthusiasm and good cheer.

“It’s snowing Mom,” they wriggle and bark. Dancing with joy because they don’t need a bundle of gifts under a tree to tell them it’s time to be happy, to celebrate.

As far as they are concerned, snow is enough. Life is enough. Enough is enough.