GOOD OR BAD OR INDIFFERENT?

When I add up the good and bad in my life, I often wonder how so many things done with such good intentions managed to turn out so poorly.

three dogs

I’ve done stuff I thought was nice — helpful — only to have it backfire in a particularly horrible way. You know, like the couple you introduced? They got married (yay), but are now in the middle of a hideous divorce (boo). One way or the other, someone (probably everyone) is mad at me. I meant well.

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Over all, I did the best I could. I tried to help. Maybe I didn’t succeed. Maybe my kindness turned out to be a massive disservice.

dogs on stairs

Only my dogs really appreciate me. They want what I can give. They don’t worry about consequences, side effects, or what might go wrong. The want a biscuit. A cuddle. A nice game of tug of war. They never want more than I can give. If I don’t get it right, they always forgive me. Immediately and never hold a grudge.

That’s the thing about dogs. And the problem with people.

ON THE EDGE, OFF THE LEDGE

What keeps me on the edge, but off the ledge? Dogs. Friends. Writing. A new camera and a good lens. A husband who is always a challenge. A movie that makes me laugh.

Speaking of Garry (were we?), he likes to hang around on ledges. He’s an edgy, ledgy kind of guy.

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Me? Not so much. I prefer not to tempt fate. Curiosity keeps me going — and safely off ledges. I want to be around to see whatever is coming next.

Survival is nature’s way of keeping the species going. We survive because. I don’t think we need a reason to follow our instinctive need to be.

As for edginess? “Getting old is not for the faint of heart.” Getting through any day is quite a balancing act.

On the edge …

CEE’S PHOTO CHALLENGE – BLACK AND WHITE ANIMALS

CEE’S BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CHALLENGE: ANIMALS

The Great Blue Heron is basically a black-and-white bird, making him something of an ideal subject for monochrome studies. The only problem I encountered was making him “pop” out of the background.

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I also got into making it look a bit like an old-fashioned wildlife study. Not sure how well I succeeded, but here’s my Blue Heron, in living black-and-white.

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Next, we have Bishop. He is not sleeping. He is faking it, hoping that I will go away and take my camera with me.

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Nan is next. She enjoys photographic attention more than any other of our dogs. She is the only one who will sit for her portrait without trying to run for the hills.

Nan in BW monochrome

Thank you Cee, for being the ever-perfect hostess.

WATCH OUT FOR THAT TREE!

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #18

What type of pets do you have or want? Or do you not want pets?

Bishop Almost Christmas

We have four dogs. I love them all. Eventually, we will have fewer dogs. Meanwhile, as long as they are able to get in and out of the house, to enjoy their lives, they have a home with us.

Biscuit time - All dogs

Two of them were not ours originally, but were left here by their parents who went off to do their own thing.

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I guess they assumed we’d take care of them. They were right.

What was or is your favorite cartoon?

I was cartoon-deprived as a child. I wasn’t allowed to watch television except for an hour on Friday and Saturday night. Of course, I went to my friends’ houses and watched there, but Saturday morning cartoons were not part of my childhood.

When I because a young adult, I became addicted to George of the Jungle, Super Chicken, and Tom Slick.

When you’re alone at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot?

I usually wear socks in the house. Usually.I know I shouldn’t, but I will go barefoot when it’s warm. In the house only, though. Outside, I wear sandals in summer, Uggs in winter. Clogs in between.

Are you a traveler or a homebody?

Both. I love my home, I love traveling. But I’m always glad to get back to my comfortable bed.

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FOR LOVE OF A DOG – TINKER

Can you set a price on love? Can you set a number to it? Can you calculate it by the cost of veterinary care? Squeaky toys? Greenies?  Dog food? Grooming?

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Tinker Belle was a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, usually called PBGVs or Petites. They are a medium-sized, shaggy rabbit hound from the Vendée region of France.

PBGVs are not the dog for everyone. Smart, sometime scarily. Natural clowns who will do almost anything to make you laugh. Noisy, nosy, and into everything.

Tinker Belle was special. From the day I brought her home, she wasn’t like any other puppy. Incredibly smart. As a rule, hounds are intelligent, but she was something else.

Housebreaking? We showed her the doggy door. She was henceforth housebroken. She could open any door, any gate and close them behind her. She would open jars of peanut butter without leaving a fang mark to note her passing. All you’d find was a perfectly clean empty jar that had previously been an unopened, brand new jar.

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She was sensitive. Probably a born therapy dog, she knew who was in pain, who was sick. She knew where you hurt. The only dog who would never step on a healing incision, but would cuddle close to you, look at you with her dark, soft eyes and tell you everything would be fine.

She never hurt a living thing, not human or anything else … except for small varmints she hunted in the yard. She was, after all, a hound. A hunter, born to track, point and carry prey back to a master.

She was the smartest of our dogs, the smartest dog every. Not just a little bit smarter than normal. A huge amount smarter. When you looked into Tinker’s eyes, it wasn’t like looking into the eyes of a dog. She was a human in a dog suit.

She knew. We called her Tinker the Thinker because she planned. Remembered. She held grudges. Nonetheless, she was at the bottom of the pack hierarchy.

We thought it was her own choice. She had no interest in leadership. Too much responsibility maybe? But the other dogs knew her value. When they needed her, other dogs would tap into her expertise in gate opening, package disassembly, cabinet burglary, trash can raiding, and other canine criminality.

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Throughout her life, she housebroke each new puppy. A couple of hours with Tinker, and the job was done. It was remarkable. Almost spooky. She then mothered them until they betrayed her by growing up and playing with other dogs.

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When Griffin, our big male Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen came to live with us a few months after Tinker, they became The Couple. inseparable, deeply in love. They ate together, played together, slept together, sang together. When about a year later, we briefly had a little Norwich Terrier pup and Griffin (what a dog) abandoned Tinker to go slobbering after Sally.

Tinker’s sensitive heart broke. She became depressed, would not play with humans or dogs. For the next decade, Tinker wouldn’t even look at Griffin. She apparently blamed us, too, her humans for having brought another girl into the house. In retribution for our crimes, Tinker began a Reign of Terror.

Tinker took to destroying everything she could get her fangs on when she was three years old. She’d done a modest amount of puppy chewing, but nothing extraordinary. She was more thief than a chewer. She would steal your stuff and hide it. Shoes, toys (Kaity was very young), towels, stuffed animals. After Griffin betrayed her with that stupid little bitch — Sally was indeed the polar opposite of Tinker being the dumbest dog I’ve ever known and ill-tempered to boot — Tinker was no longer a playful thief. She was out to get us.

Nothing was safe. She had a particular passion for destroying expensive electronic devices. Cell phones, remote controls, portable DVD players, computers. If she could get a fang to them, she killed them.

She would do more damage in under a minute than you could imagine. It meant we couldn’t leave the room together unless we put everything where Tinker couldn’t get it. She would strike quickly. If we were off to bed for the night, every item had to be put away. If she couldn’t get to an electronic item, she ate the sofa, the rocking chair, the coffee table, a lot of books, many DVDs.

For dessert, shoes were yummy. I didn’t own shoes without tooth marks. We called them “Tinkerized.” We had a grading system from 10 – Utterly destroyed, to 1 – Only shows if you look closely. Most of my shoes fell into the 2 to 3 range and since she tended to start at the heel, I figured most folks wouldn’t notice.

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During one memorable intermission, Tinker dismembered the remotes. She pulled off the backs, tore out the batteries (but did not eat them). Then she ripped out the innards. It was less than two minutes.

She didn’t waste time. If she had leisure, she’d also tear out keys and mangle cases, but if time was limited, she went straight to the guts of the thing. She was good.

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For 10 years, we lived under siege. If you didn’t want it Tinkerized, you couldn’t leave it exposed, not for a minute.

For the last year of her life, after we brought Bonnie home, Tinker became a real dog again. With Bonnie, Tinker ran around. Played tag. Joined the chorus when the pack pointed their muzzles at the sky and sang.

Hounds have beautiful voices and Tinker’s was the most beautiful.

Three years ago, Tinker died of cancer. She had shown no symptoms except a slight slowing down. One day, she collapsed. A couple of weeks later, Griffin had a stroke and died too. They were exactly the same age and I don’t believe for a minute that their nearly simultaneous passing was a coincidence.

After the two hounds were gone, the pack did not sing for half a year. One day, mourning ended and they started to sing again.

Great Griffin

Griffin

What was Tinker’s true cost? We paid $700 for her as a pup. She caused thousands of dollars of damage to electronics, furniture, shoes, books, DVDs, videotapes, dolls, stuffies — who knows what else?

She paid us back and more. When I was ill, Tinker never left my side. When I was back from surgery, missing another piece of me and in pain, Tinker was there, never placing a paw where it would hurt me. How much is that worth? What is the true cost of a lifetime love of a dear friend?

Menagerie

SNOOPING

Snooping is unlike eavesdropping. It’s just curiosity, expanded. In any case, I can’t help myself. When I visit someone for the first time, I must look at their books. Assuming, of course, they read.

I’m suspicious of anyone whose home has no books. My friends and I have exploding bookcases. Books on tables. On the floor. Everywhere. Old books. Paperbacks. Audiobooks. Kindles. Magazines. Newspapers.

Next, I look at their other media — movies and music. Naturally I look at whatever is hanging on the walls. I had a painter friend who ended a relationship because she couldn’t cope with his taste in art.

Next, I find somewhere to sit. Is the furniture comfortable? Have they traded comfort for style? It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is a statement about priorities and to a degree, age. There was a time in my life when I owned uncomfortable furniture because I liked the way it looks. I was younger then. My back didn’t hurt as much.

I do not snoop in medicine cabinets. Medical information is considered private. Fair is fair. Welcome to my little world. You won’t learn everything, but you can find out a lot if you know how to look.

Let the snooping commence.