The other day, the NBC Nightly News had a piece during which they announced that scientists have officially proven what we all knew. Dogs understand what we say to them. They understand words, tone of voice, and context. Just like teenagers. When they ignore what we tell them, it isn’t because they don’t understand. They understand just fine. They are — like teenagers — disrespecting us.

I have always believed they understand and choose to ignore us — unless they feel there’s something in it for them.


“Bonnie,” calls Garry. “Go out.” She stops halfway down the stairs and stares at him.

“All the way out.” She goes down one more step. Turns around. Stares.

“Gibbs,” he says. “You too. Move. GO. I told you to GO.” Both Scotties, in motion so slow you wouldn’t believe they had that much fine muscle control, descend the stairs. One at a time.

Thump. Thump. Thump. THUMP. Thumpitty. Thump.

There are only six steps, but it takes them several minutes to navigate their way to the ground floor landing. They stand in front of the doggie door. They look up.

“Go OUT,” Garry says. He does this every night. It’s a mind game. “No, not at the same time. One at a time.” They are like little furry clowns, trying to get through the door simultaneously and getting stuck. No one could tell me they don’t know how funny they look.



Then the game goes into reverse. In the summertime, it goes into reverse. In dry weather. If it’s raining or blizzarding, all bets are off. In bad weather, getting them out is a problem. Getting them in is not.

The last trip outside in the evening is the one before we clean Bonnie’s eyes and administer eye drops. No idea what the problem is, but she’s allergic to something. We are going to be giving her eye drops for the rest of her life. She knows. We know she knows. Gibbs knows because after the eye drops come the treats.

Usually Bonnie and Gibbs finally come inside, but won’t come up the stairs. They stay at the bottom, looking up. Until Garry stands at the top and says “Come upstairs.” Pause. “Now, please.” Garry is very polite and always says “please” and “thank you” to the dogs.

They continue to stare at him. “NOW,” he says, but they don’t give him any respect. Finally, Garry goes down and shoos them upstairs. Bonnie jumps onto the loveseat. I clean the gunk out of her eyes. Put eye drops in. Gibbs watches. Everyone adjourns to the kitchen for a biscuit.


Last night, the dogs decided to up the stakes. Instead of coming in and standing at the bottom of the stairs, they stayed on the front step, directly outside in front of the doggie flap. Garry had to open the door and say “Please. Come in.” Then, Bonnie came in. Gibbs won’t come past someone standing at the door, so you have to close the door so he can come in through the flap.

Don’t ask. It’s a dog thing.

We have other similar conversations.



Me: “Gibbs, do NOT dig on the sofa.” Gibbs pauses. Looks at me, haunted brown eyes full of tenderness and affection. Then, he starts to dig some more.



“Gibbs, I said stop.” He gets down from the sofa and comes over to the loveseat and jumps up, making sure to try to knock my laptop to the floor in the process. He is trying to kill my computer and I fear one day I will lose focus and he will succeed. But not yet.

I give him a thorough scratching about the ears.

He knows. He knows I know. We all know. We are, as they say, a very knowing family.

Now, the scientific community also knows. Because I saw it on network news, and everyone knows if it’s on television, it is 100% true.

Give or take a lie or two.


Divot was a Norwich Terrier, the smallest of the working terriers. Eleven inches at the shoulder, she never even considered the possibility that she might not be the toughest dog on the block.



Her biggest problem in her long life, was that people didn’t take her seriously. She would bark ferociously at the UPS and FedEx guys, but rather than quaking with fear, they would smile at her and dig a biscuit out of a pocket.

Finally, we had a private conversation with the UPS guy who was obviously a dog-lover.

“Please,” I asked him, “Act scared when she barks. She wants to be fierce. It’s not her fault that she’s small, furry, and cute.”

And so, from thence forward, he would quake with fear when Divot barked. In return, she would lick him ferociously.

Divot was fierce. Absolutely terrifying. Just ask the UPS guy.



The day before yesterday was a day and a half. Maybe more.

I knew my son was coming to mow the lawn, but I didn’t know he was coming with a new (to us, but not “new” new) dishwasher. I didn’t expect UPS to deliver a stack of items that have been hanging fire. Jam for my morning muffins. A new mat for the shower (the old one has turned a funky orange). Shower cleanser and mold removing spray, both of which (my preferred brands, that is) are not available in the local store.


These days, I order it from Walmart central and it gets delivered for free … a great improvement over hunting the aisles of our local Walmart in person.


After the installation, I had to wash the kitchen floor again. Two days in a row is a lot of floor scrubbing. It’s impossible to install an appliance without needing a complete floor wash afterwards. Then I vacuumed again too. Because hauling stuff in and out hauled in a lot of lawn and leaf debris.



Then, realizing it was now or never, I put dinner up in the slow cooker because I had the distinct feeling once I sat down, I would not quickly rise again.

I was right.

I did manage to take a few pictures in the midst of the chaos. For reasons I can’t explain, suddenly my dogs are cooperating and hold still while I take their picture. Gibbs and I had a little disagreement about him marking furniture in the living room. He felt a need to hide. Not very effectively, but pretty funny.

Gibbs in hiding

Gibbs in hiding

I apologize (again) for not visiting all your blogs. I fell behind and then slipped even further today. It was obvious to me I’d never get through the email, much less the blogs. It wasn’t lack of love. I ran out of time. I think tomorrow will be more or less normal. I hope.


Grooming day! Time to take the fur-people to Furry Friends Grooming and Social Club. Do not be deceived by the humble exterior. This is a class act.


Gibbs has never learned to walk on a leash, so if you put a leash on him, he just locks all four legs. You have to drag and coax him. Bonnie has never received any formal training, but she will walk along reasonably nicely anyhow, with occasional twining about your ankles … in case you aren’t paying attention.

We didn’t have to be at the salon until noon, so we were spared our version of “rush hour.” On some level, it’s always rush hour around here. The roads are all two lanes, one in each direction … or less. A slow driver (there are so many!) and road construction (everywhere from March through November) turn even a few cars into a traffic jam.


Whatever they are doing in downtown Uxbridge, it involves heavy equipment with caterpillar treads and massive fork lifts with earth moving scoops. Drains perhaps? New water mains for the town where there is “city water” rather than private wells? They’ve been working on this project for a couple of years. Like most projects in Massachusetts, it promises to go on more or less forever. Garry says when he came to Boston in 1970, they were working on the Mystic River bridge. They are still working on it. That’s 46 years plus however many years they were working on it before Garry moved here. I think this is our state’s answer to unemployment. If you never finish a project, at least a few people will have a job.

But … I digress.

We managed to get both Scotties into the back of the Jeep … a much more comfortable arrangement for all of us compared to previous vehicles. At least they are on a flat surface and cannot decide to help drive the car. Bonnie is a very persistent back seat river and will periodically try to move into the front seat to provide more direct input to whoever is driving — nearly always Garry.

72-Aldrich Street-Summer-Solstice-062116_12

It took us just half an hour to get there. A possible land speed record for getting from Uxbridge through Milford. We delivered the little dogs. Had a conversation about grooming them to look like Scotties and not deformed poodles. Nothing against poodles, but Bonnie and Gibbs are Scottish Terriers. They look silly with plumed tails or tufted ears. Pom-poms do not look well on short-legged terriers.

We settled on modified Scottie clips. I like their faces with eyebrows and beards, but I want everything else shaved close since these guys revel in filth. They don’t appreciate our attempts to change their earthy odor to something more pleasing to human noses. They do the best to return to their previous grungy state as soon as possible.

While we talked, Gibbs carefully marked the room lest some other dog not know he had been there. He also marked Garry’s leg which was a first for Garry. Probably Gibbs, too. I’m pretty sure it was a sign of acceptance, but unreasonably, Garry didn’t like it.

We went home with construction in full gear. The return drive took longer.


Garry hit the shower. I made a sandwich. We both took a breath. The phone rang. Gibbs and Bonnie were finished. Ready for their closeups.


The construction had ended for the day by the time we went back through town which was a gift. I stopped. I bought a lottery scratch ticket — the first time this year — and won $20. That will pay for something. Maybe a trip to MacDonald’s?





They are home. Gibbs survived, though apparently he had prior bad grooming experiences. He freaked out at bath time and subsequently required a two groomer team to keep him from bolting backwards off the grooming table.

I got a couple of pictures of them which are actually (more or less) in focus. You can see their eyes. I swear they know when they look good because Bonnie actually stood still for two nanoseconds while I got one decent head shot.


I want to go on record as saying that shooting pictures of black dogs in a low-light living room is hard. Especially when the dogs don’t coöperate. To be fair, even with full coöperation, they are always difficult to shoot … even in good light.

Two Scotties in antique colors

Bonnie & Gibbs

They have eyes. Sometimes I can’t find them, but I know they are in there.

Both Bonnie and Gibbs are scheduled for a proper grooming next week. In the meantime, these are two funky terriers. They do not smell quite as bad as they look, though Bonnie is definitely on the ripe side. I’ll try taking more pictures after their trip to the salon — later today.





Last night, we met up with Garry’s brother Anton who was in the area on a work project. “In the area” was actually “in the state of Massachusetts.” If you tried to pick a location as far as possible from where we live … and still be in the same state (Massachusetts is small), you might just select Beverly. An 85 mile drive through Boston rush hour traffic found us on Cape Ann, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and manicured lawns and huge, restored houses on the other.


The gated mansions  … some with actual gate houses … were a bit of clue that we had entered a different world.

Around our neck of the woods, when you see a gate, it’s there to keep something in or something else out. Cows in, coyotes out. Dogs in the yard, delivery people out. Chickens in, foxes out. Also, wild turkeys … outside, please.

(Those wild turkey want to be in with the chickens because the food is better. They do not call them turkeys for nothing.)

I commented that a “gated mansion” in our area is called a “farm with a big house.” A glorious rolling stretch of grass that leads to the river is called “a pasture” and usually contains cows, horses, the occasional llama, and less frequently, goats. Sometimes all of the above and maybe a visiting few deer who don’t mind sharing as long as no one shoots at them.

Mostly, we have cows and horses. Really big horses. Percheron and Clydesdale, the size of 10-ton trucks, but friendlier and certainly more fun to have around.


I used to be the Entertainment Queen of my crowd. It more than 40 years ago, but I was the hostess with the mostest. I fed the hungry, housed the homeless, cheered up the downhearted. I rescued cats, dogs, and lost people. No living creature was ever turned away. It got crowded.

Image: Mashable.com

Image: Mashable.com

One day, I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted some privacy. I didn’t want to clean up the mess or cook gigantic meals. I was tired of spending all my money on other people. The crowd that assembled nightly in my living room weren’t really friends. I had become a facility. A place to crash. Where there was always music, food, something to smoke and probably a good conversation and a sofa.

So I started locking my front door and asked people call before showing up. About half the crowd never came back … and I never missed them. Others drifted off in the course of time. A few are still my friends today.

Where friends … and guests … are concerned, quality is not necessarily quantity. Actually, these days? Less is definitely more.

And now, time for a classic Jewish joke:

A very poor man goes to his Rabbi complaining his house is too small and he can’t stand it any more. “What should I do?” he asks.

“Get a big dog,” advises the Rabbi.

Puzzled, the man buys a sheepdog and brings him home. The house is even more crowded, and the man returns to the Rabbi. “It’s worse,” he moans.

The Rabbi nods his understanding. “Get a goat. He can be friends with the dog. Oh, and get a cat too.”

Even more confused, the mad does as instructed. The house is unbearable. He returns to the Rabbi. “Please, Rebbe, it’s horrible at home. The dog, the cat, the goat … and it smells really bad.”

“I think you need a lamb,” says the Rabbi. “And a calf.”

DogsSlayThe BeastieDutiful to the end, the man gets a lamb and brings it home. The noise alone is deafening. There’s hair everywhere and the place stinks. Finally, he goes back to the Rabbi, now desperate for relief.

“Rabbi, OY VAY, IT’S TERRIBLE. The animals go all over the house and they chase each other. We have no peace, no privacy.”

“Get rid of all those animals,” orders the Rabbi. The man heaves a sigh of relief and the next week returns to see the Rabbi.

“Rebbe, it’s wonderful! We have so much room. The house is clean again. Life is wonderful!