A SERIOUS TALK WITH BONNIE

 I feel this is a perfect opportunity to air a grievance still fresh in my mind.

Although we are indulgent dog parents, we don’t sleep with dogs. They outnumber us two to one and the bed isn’t all that big.  Moreover, they hang with us on the loveseat in the living room and in the offices from morning till we toddle off to bed in the wee hours. The bed is ours. Ours alone. I refuse to feel guilty about it. Okay, a little guilty, but only a bit. We have enough trouble getting comfortable without trying to maneuver around you dogs.

Not to mention the dirt and fur that inevitably accompanies our beloved beasts. We have a gate across the hallway. We close it at night when we go to bed, confining our poor, oppressed pets to the living room, kitchen and of course the yard via the doggy door. For the 5 or 6 hours during which I try to catch some Zs, it’s No Dogs Allowed. You guys — yes, I mean you, my black-furred miscreant — know this is our time alone. You know perfectly well that when the gate is closed, it’s “give them a rest” time.

Bonnie - 8

Except last night, Bonnie, you didn’t feel like sleeping and proceeded to fling yourself at the gate. The whole house shook. I’m surprised you didn’t knock it right off its hinges. The howling and barking and yapping was bad enough, but this was like an earthquake. Totally uncool.

Bonnie, my beloved Scottish Terrier? Listen up. If you persist in flinging yourself at the gate through the night, it isn’t biscuits you’ll get. Just because you’re bored and think 3 am is a grand time for a romp and a treat, doesn’t mean we humans agree. You are going to wind up in a crate. Worse, I’ll take away your computer privileges. You won’t be able to use my laptop anymore. You know I can do it, darling Bonnie, so don’t test me. Last night, you were a wicked Scottie.

When you rousted me out of bed for that fourth and final time — was that just about 4 am?– you knew I wasn’t coming to give you a cookie. Because you ran out the doggy door and didn’t come back until I’d gone back to bed. How did you know I was mad at you? I didn’t say anything. The first three times you got your dad, then me up, you snagged a biscuit. That was supposed to shut you up. How did you know this wasn’t another goody on the way?

But you knew. You ran for the yard. Interesting. Was it the sound of steam coming out of my nose and ears? Or just the way I tread the floorboards?

Bonnie, my darling. You do that again, tonight — or any other night — and your spoiled rotten little life will be in serious peril. Do you understand? Don’t laugh at me. I’m serious. I’m mad at you!

DAILY POST: OUR MOST PRECIOUS FUR CHILD

Bonnie Annie Laurie, the Scottish Terrier lass who runs our home with charm, grace and efficiency can do no wrong.

Although she steals dirty napkins as if they were prey and has relieved us of our socks and dish towels, we have responded appropriately — by buying more socks and letting her have her own dish towels. We keep ours in a basket out of reach and hang hers where she can steal them, as a proper Scottie must. Garry even ties them up a little to make the experience more challenging. She then takes the dish towels — and socks, let’s not forget the socks — out through the doggy door into the yard where they are never seen again. It’s hard to figure where they go. I mean … she has stolen easily a dozen and they are bright colors and reasonably large tea towels. But they are gone. We do not think they will appear again. Maybe she has friends with wings and donates them to the cause. Whatever.

Me and Bonnie

She has the power of chemical weaponry on her side and can gas an entire room. Even the other dogs will leave while Garry and I cough and wheeze. Sometimes, it gets bad enough that she herself will leave. It is one of her many magical powers.

My husband will twist his body into a pretzel shape so as not to cause Milady discomfort as she stretches out on our loveseat. When Bonnie wants a treat or dinner, she makes her wishes clearly know, barking, pulling at Garry’s cuffs, or head butting the back of his knees until he falls over or accedes to her belief that if she is not fed right now, she will collapse from hunger.

She is the dog of dogs, the terrier of terriers, a Scottish Terrorist of the first order.

She is perfect.

AWFUL PICTURES OF TWO TERRIERS

Gar w 2 terriers

I don’t post a lot of pictures of my dogs. They do not coöperate. They will not sit still. They will run out of the room or stick their wet black noses right up my lens. Outdoors, they will run  and hide. I’ll get nothing but pictures of their furry butts as they disappear around the corner or through the doggy door.

Inside? They huddle in the darkest corner of the room or spread out so no lens will get them.

Two Terriers - Toy Camera

The two miscreant terriers were groomed yesterday so they’re looking pretty spiffy. Garry offered to hold them while I took a few pictures. Emerging from my office into the dimly lit living room, I realized even if I turned on every light, it would still not be enough to get sharp images.

I am nothing if not persistent. I turned on lights. Garry had the two terrorists on his lap in a death grip. What do they have against me and the camera? I don’t even use a flash.

Garry was wearing his comfortable clothing. A sweatshirt paired with weird green fishing print pajama bottoms. The throws on the sofa are a blocky red, white and bluish print — not beautiful to begin with — that clash in a particularly noxious way with the green print pants.

Gar w terriers 2

Between the bad light, the wriggling dogs, the ugly background, the bad pants, the clashing colors … well, these are among the worst pictures I’ve ever taken. Barrel distortion, chromatic aberration, color shifts and everything out of focus. Absolutely nothing to recommend them. So bad I had nothing to lose by trying out some of the special effects in my filter packages. I never use special effects on good pictures. Why waste a good image?

The doggies came out kind of cute. I used a toy lens effect on one shot. On the other two, I used various vintage camera effects, with added blur, light leaks and other kinds of aging. Cute — bad — pictures. Proving if you have enough filters, you can make anything look okay.

PERSPECTIVE IS WHERE YOU’RE COMING FROM

It depends on where you stand, doesn’t it? On what you are looking at. Personally, I want coffee. But first, I need to capture that interesting shadow on the wall in the little bathroom.

Morning Shadows

And the fur people, they have a different perspective. Biscuits. Until they get their biscuits, they are obsessive, determined, focused. Notice that Bonnie is missing? She’s a bouncing shaggy black ball of energy. No way I’m going to catch her (but I keep trying). Even if I do, she doesn’t look like a dog. She won’t until I find money to get her groomed. She looks like a pile of dirty black dog hair. In perpetual motion.

While Mr. Coffee brews and I need to put some clothing on. Sandy is in my office, making copies on the printer.

Bish and Nan Biscuit Time

“What are you doing up so early?” It’s eight in the morning.

“I’m not up. It’s an illusion. There’s a picture I need to take.”

“I’m not going to ask.”

“Good choice,” I agree. I realize I don’t have my glasses on and can’t see anything clearly. If I fail to notice I’m not wearing my eyeglasses, I’m asleep. Ignore me.

 

FUR BALLS

Yesterday, all the doors and windows were open to catch the fresh air on one of the remaining warm days of late autumn. Mid late November is when it switches from summer to winter in a few hours. Last night, the temps dropped 30 degrees. Yesterday, zephyr breezes. Today? Chill winds.

DangerDogsWe have four dogs, one of whom is a giant constantly shedding hairball (Australian Shepherd to you). He’s affectionate and despite all evidence to the contrary, believes he is a lap-dog. His sensitive feelings are constantly hurt because I won’t let him in my lap. All 75 hairy pounds of him.

I have conversations with him. I explain, in detail, the issues involved. Not only will he not fit, but his paws are wicked weapons, cats-like with claws that dig deep holes in me. Bishop is a passionate boy. We have all learned to never look him in the eyes. The moment you do, he will become a huge piece of velcro, use his tongue to slather your eyeglasses with a thick layer of dog spit.

Which brings me back to the weather. Bishop and Bonnie (the Scottie) love winter. Bishop is at his happiest sleeping — literally — in a snowdrift with Bonnie on top of him, using him as a bed. Nan, at 12, is a couch potato, thinks the ultimate good time is a comfy spot on the sofa with frequent biscuit breaks. Amber lives under a blanket downstairs. Of the dogs in the house, Amber (the dachshund) is the one with short hair and does not care much for ice and snow. Garry and I are with her on that one. And with Nan (the Norwich). A nice nap, a cozy throw, a good TV show and maybe a little fire in the woodstove.

Nan and BishopThe issue is not just weather, but dog hair. Oodles of dog hair. Great gouts and lumps and bushy piles of fur on sofas, rugs, in  corners and on clothing. I find I own a lot of nice clothing I refuse to wear because I don’t want to ruin it with dog hair, not to mention the giant holes that Bishop — in a fit of overwhelming love — will tear with those wicked paws. What then, you ask (I ask, we all ask) is the point of having nice clothing?

That is a good question and if anyone has an answer, I’d like to hear it. I seem to be under the illusion I might actually go someplace someday and need attractive clothing. A lifetime of working embedded this idea in my brain. One must have Decent Clothing for job interviews — but when was the last time I had one of those? For Events — once in a blue moon seems to be the frequency. So I have nice stuff and anything I wear is instantly covered with dog hair. Everything looks tweedy.

Terriers and Garry

Ironically, the other day I realized the clothing in my closet, including stuff I’ve never worn, is hairy. Pet hair is vicious, pernicious, aggressive. It sneaks into closets in rooms where dogs are  forbidden — though somehow they manage to steal my underwear.

It’s part of what makes this time of year challenging. I have wonderful sweaters. Cashmere and cotton and wool. Tunics and ponchos. Many are years old but barely worn. I don’t want to ruin them.

My nice clothing is dying in the closet. Getting old and hairy and hanger worn. We could solve the problem by having fewer dogs.

Nah. Not happening.

JUST ANY MORNING IN A TIME OF CRISIS – A WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE

You’d think that somehow, with that sickish feeling you get when the world is coming down around you, that the morning would stand out. Be different. Or at least, something about it would be different.

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Not a bit. Regardless of events in my life — good, bad and catastrophic — morning is the same. Wake up. My back hurts. Spend half an hour awake, in bed, checking email, wondering if there’s any chance I might be able to go back to sleep. Looking to see if there’s a prompt to which I feel like responding.

Maybe I won a contest and became an overnight millionaire  (dream on, my lovely, dream on). Somewhere, someone is winning those big lottery prizes. Why not me?

And finally, fully awake, getting up. Finding my glasses. Brushing teeth and meandering to the kitchen to be greeted by three dogs, spinning and yipping in joy. “The giver of biscuits has arisen. She has come! Oh biscuits, oh great joy of morning!”

Bonnie

I insist I be allowed to start the coffee before distributing the first treats of the day. I need to know the coffee will come soon. Hot, rich coffee. Mmm. Click. Hiss. Yes. I can hear that drip beginning and just a hint of the taste wafts from the machine to my nose. Vanilla. It’s vanilla coffee today.

The little dogs are spinning so fast you’d think they’d fall down dizzy, but it never happens. The big one is trying to spin, but he’s a klutz and spends more time bumping into things than getting a good spin going. “Okay,” I say. “The big moment is here. Are we ready?”

Yip, whine, woof, grr. I think it means they’re ready. Tooth cleaning biscuits for the little guys with dental problems. Until a couple of days ago, my biggest financial worry — the short-term rather the longer view concern — was how to find affordable dental care for the terriers. Since I’m now worrying about staying alive, the terriers have dropped into the number two worry slot. One must prioritize.

I have a substantial chewy in hand for Bishop, the big furry dude.”Hey, Bubba, come and get it!

With a doggie grin and a shake of his silky coat, he gently takes the cookie from my hand, but maintains his position in the kitchen in preparation for the next round of goodies.

Bishop

The terriers are dancing as I give them each an oral hygiene greenie … which fortunately, they love. Bonnie is a Scottie and has to take her greenie to the other room and hide while she consumes it. It’s a Scottie thing: never let another dog see what you do with your bones. Nan is a Norwich and getting on in years. She’ll just hang with the Bishop by the treats container. She is very focused.

Nan

I go over and wash the couple of things in the sink. I hear heavy breathing behind me. The fur children are restless. Time for round two. After which, it’s my turn. The coffee is ready. My cup is waiting. I need that coffee. If I were one of the dogs, I’d be spinning too.

Nothing is different from yesterday or the day before that. My world is upside down but everything is exactly the same. How weird is that?

Write About Dogs

My favorite cartoon – by George Booth — was originally published in The New Yorker. It shows a man sitting in front of a typewriter. Dogs are everywhere A woman, presumably his wife, watches from the doorway. The caption reads “Write about dogs.”

My home is full of dogs. Anyone who comes to visit must compete with the dogs for the comfortable chairs and the best spots on the sofa. (Come to think of it, we have to fight them for the best seats too.) That’s the way it is. The dogs are family.

If we have guests who are old, frail or allergic, we do our best to accommodate their needs. We put the most rambunctious, smelly, and hairy dogs out of the way if we can, but that depends on the weather. Basically, if you don’t like dogs, you’ve come to the wrong house. People who don’t like dogs are not frequent visitors.

That’s fine with me. I prefer the company of most dogs to most people. There are lots of reasons to prefer dogs. But the two big ones are love and honesty.

Dogs love you completely, totally, and without reservation. They don’t care about your social status or education, whether you are young or old, ugly or beautiful, rich or poor. They love you completely.

Your dog will never betray or abandon you.

Dogs are terrible liars. Not that they don’t try. Every dog will do his or her best to convince each human to give them treats. Your dog will tell you she needs a biscuit now or will collapse from hunger. This is not particularly convincing when the canine in question is a beefy pooch who has obviously never missed a meal. Eternally optimistic, all dogs figure it’s worth a shot. It’s a dog thing. You never know when a biscuit might fall your way.

When the performance our furry kids put on in hopes of getting a tasteless dry biscuit is especially hilarious, we relax the rules and give them a little something. After all, they don’t have hands and can’t grab one for themselves. Now and again, they need to get lucky because they’re cute and we love them.

Dogs lie, but their lies are simple and transparent. There’s no malice in them. They just want a biscuit. If they don’t get one, they love you anyway.

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When it comes to love, dogs are the best. They “get” love and think you are wonderful. They think you are wonderful every day of their lives. When they are dying, the last thing they will do is look at you with love in their eyes, wag their tail one final time and try to give you a kiss.

I have spent my life lurching between my quest for God and an equally ardent quest for the best dog food at the most reasonable price. When times have been hard and we’ve had to choose between food for us and food for our furry children, the fur kids always win.

Our dogs do not suffer from angst. They don’t worry unless supper runs late or biscuits are forgotten in the bustle of a day’s activities. If such a catastrophe should occur, they know exactly where to present their grievances and apply for redress.

Dogs live close to their deities. They hang out with their gods on the sofa. They get biscuits from them in the morning and evening. If life is circumscribed and a bit confined, it is nonetheless good.

Sometimes one of their gods gets angry and yells at them. That might make them unhappy for a few minutes, but the gods of their world don’t stay angry. Our dogs have kindly and loving gods who are inclined to scratch them behind the ears and talk to them in soft voices.

TinkerizedRemotes

We are gods to our dogs and as such, we set laws for them to live by. Don’t poop or pee in the house.

Do not chew things not given to you for chewing, especially not anything containing batteries. Don’t jump on old people or babies. Don’t growl at delivery people. Don’t stay up late barking. Abide by the law and all will be well.

When rules are clear and understood by all, life runs smoothly.

TinkerPartyGaNKl

The human side of the contract is more complicated. It’s harder being god than dog.

We pledge to care for them all the days of their lives. We keep them healthy. We love and nurture them. We feed them properly, make sure they get exercise – though they don’t get enough of it and neither do we. We keep them warm and dry in winter, cool and dry in summer.

If we force them to go outside to do their business, it is because they are, after all, dogs.

Every evening, for at least a little while, their gods climb down from heaven to play on the floor.

Our dogs don’t fret about the future. They live in a joyful present. When their time comes, we will make sure they pass gently out of this world. We promise to keep them as free from suffering as is within our power.

That is our solemn contract. We live up to that pledge because we really are gods to our fur children and must never let them down. Pets teach you a lot about the divine contract.