I read an article a while back which announced with solemnity and more than a few pie charts, that dogs — our dogs, your dogs, pet dogs — don’t like being hugged. Not merely do they not like being hugged and display measurable levels of stress when hugged, but they really totally hate being kissed and nuzzled.

The article suggest a pat on the head … and a treat … would be much more appreciated. But, not by Garry or me.

Garry, Bonnie and Gibbs – A moment of zen


I know they don’t like being hugged. It’s obvious. They stiffen and put their ears back when we hug them. They also don’t like it when I grab their tail and refuse to let it go. That’s what all the growling and head butting is about. You can almost hear them sigh, wondering when you’ll be through with this nonsense and get on to the important stuff, namely distributing cookies.



I told Garry about the study. He said: “Tough. They’ll just have to cope. Because I like it.” My thoughts exactly.

Our dogs are disrespectful. Messy. Flagrantly disobedient. They are masters and mistresses of selective hearing. Do I believe for a single moment when we tell them to go out and they stand there, in front of the doggy door, ignoring us, it’s because they don’t understand what we want from them, or cannot hear us? I’m supposed to think if I stand in the doorway calling them, that they can’t hear me? Or don’t know I want them to come in? Of course they hear me. They know. They’re just playing us.

From the other side of the yard, they can hear the click when we remove the cover of the biscuit container. Their hearing is fine. It’s a power play.


Since they persist in disrespecting us, they will have to deal with our periodic compulsion to give them hugs, nuzzling, and the occasional (“Yuck! Stop that you stupid human!”) kiss on their big black noses. It’s a small price to pay for unlimited sofa lounging, high-quality treats, and silly humans getting down on the floor to play with them.

We put up with them? They will have to put up with us, too. That’s our deal.

It’s the Human-Canine Covenant. We’ve got their paw prints on file.


Share Your World – 2016 Week 50

What is your favorite smell? What memory does it remind you of?

Vanilla. It reminds me of vanilla cookies and ice cream. Mmm.

What type of pet do you have or want to have?

We have dogs. We used to have even more dogs and cats, too. Before that, we had cats and ferrets. And the occasional bird and tropical fish — though the fish were really my son’s.

Two dogs and a computer. The computer is also a pet, of sorts.

Two dogs and a computer. The computer is also a pet, of sorts.

When I was younger and my back less arthritic, I really, really, really, really, really wanted a horse or two. By the time I lived where I could actually have a horse, I could no longer ride.


Or, as we used to say in that other country in which I lived, “God gives nuts to those who have no teeth.” Think about it.

Are you usually late, early, or right on time?

These days, more or less on time. I used to be early, but Garry slowed me down. He used to be late, but I speeded him up.

Photo: Bette Stevens

Photo: Bette Stevens

Balance. Marriage is all about balance.

For recharging, would you rather meditate, swim, walk, listen to music, write, read, yoga, qigong other?

I write. I take pictures. I read and watch movies. Best of all is laughing. A good laugh is worth eight hours of sleep.


Our 16-year-old dog died a month ago. We still have our seven-year old dog, Lexi, but we have decided we’d like to be a two dog household again. So we’re now on the ‘market’ for another dog.


My husband hates the idea of ‘shopping’ for a dog. Luckily for him, he’s never had to do it. He has had many, many dogs in his life. But by some bizarre twist of fate, all his dogs basically appeared on his doorstep, fortuitously. A puppy was hanging out alone on the beach just outside his apartment building as a hurricane hit the area.

To protect the dog from the storm, he put it in his car as he evacuated. He named the dog Hurricane and they were together for 15 years. A professor friend found out that a puppy was being stowed away in a college student’s dorm room. She knew Tom was a dog lover so she brought the puppy to him and asked him to find it a good home. The home turned out to be his for the next 16 years. These are not the only examples.



This sort of thing has never happened to me. I doubt that it ever will. I know I have to actively look for a dog if I want another one. I have become a pro at searching the websites of the local rescue groups. I met my husband on an online dating site, so why not find my new canine BFF that way too?

I have a different problem. All you see online is a photo or two and a very short, often generic ‘character sketch’ of each dog. You don’t get to exchange emails with the dog for a week before deciding to go on to the next step in the relationship. So how do you decide which dog to meet based on so little information? I go by gut feelings. But I don’t totally trust my gut.

Then you meet the dog. You only get to spend maybe 10 minutes with him or her at the rescue offices. Based on that, you’re supposed to make a decision. That’s it. To me, that’s like having coffee with my online dating acquaintance and having to decide on the spot if I want to spend the rest of my life with him, or, in the case of the dog, the next 12-15 years.


It’s not fair to the dogs either. Some dogs are shy with new people and need time to warm up. Others, like my Lexi, get overly excited with new people and need time to calm down. So how do you know if you’re seeing the new dog’s true personality?


Our situation is further complicated because the new dog has to get along with Lexi as well as with us. That’s a whole other dynamic that’s crucial for the well-being and peace of mind of everyone in the family. The rescue groups have the dogs meet before any final decision can be made. But, again, how do you make a major life decision based on 10-15 minutes? Add to that the fact that the dogs are over stimulated, in a strange environment and dealing with strange people. I’m not sure how Lexi will do in that situation. How can you tell how everyone will get along in our home under normal circumstances?

Danger Dogs

My husband and I are both losing sleep over this. We’re agonizing over choosing the right dog. We’re feeling guilty about the dogs we considered and ‘rejected’. We’re worrying about how we are changing the wonderful inter-personal and inter-species dynamic in our home forever. We’ve been spoiled by living with two dogs who got along well with each other and related differently, but well with us too. We don’t want to live in a household defined by canine tension and hostility.


Meet Remmy!

Meet Remy!

It is now two weeks after I wrote this blog and we have found our new canine BFF. Lexi loves her and we are ecstatic. I will write a separate blog about how we found our new puppy and how she adjusted to her new life with us. For now, just know that this blog has a happy ending!


Violence broke out this afternoon as Gibbs, determined to show his dominance of all stuffed toys, tore open the … um … butt end of Mr. Squirrel. I rescued the poor creature before Gibbs could finish him off. I need to find a needle and thread and sew him up. Meanwhile, squirrel is hiding out in my former office, now the room where the luggage is stored.

Before the battle ... the rank and file

Before the battle … the rank and file

He won’t be lonely since that room is home to at least a dozen dolls, all of whom are gracious and welcoming to wounded warrior toys from the now-turned-lethal canine wars.

About to engage ...

About to engage …

Why was Squirrel marked for violence? Was it his fuzzy tail? Why did Squirrel raise the level of competition to violence? Whatever the reason, none of the other toys have been attacked with such fierceness, so even after I repair poor Squirrel, I won’t allow him to return to the battlefield. He is being released from service and sent home on a medical discharge.

Chester Morris and Wallace Beery in The Big House

Chester Morris and Wallace Beery in The Big House

Or, to put it another way, he’s on the permanent Disabled List. Won’t be joining the team for spring training. One more act of violence and Bonnie and Gibbs are looking at serious time in The Big House (1930 MGM crime drama directed by George W. Hill, starring Chester Morris, Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone and Robert Montgomery.)


In Dog Town, possession is 100% of the law.



It’s a standoff right now with Gibbs staring down Bonnie who temporarily has possession of the prized squeaky squirrel. But the drums are beating and troops have been summoned to peacefully settle what could be a violent clash.

Bonnie has the squirrel

Bonnie has the squirrel

The situation has been escalating. It began peacefully enough when the only toys were a pink starfish and a blue octopus — treaty offerings to quell simmering egos.

Gibbs wants the squirrel, but Bonnie isn't letting go

Gibbs wants the squirrel, but Bonnie isn’t letting go

Bonnie and Gibbs initially seemed open to negotiations over sharing of the prized offerings, but positions began hardening. Still, tribal discussions are prone to last minute changes of heart, so a hedgehog was added to make sharing easier, but only seemed to raise the stakes. Gibbs quickly seized the hedgehog, but Bonnie diverted his attention, grinning as she nabbed the new prize and stowed it in her cage. A standoff ensued. Tensions mounted.

Marilyn was overwhelmed with guilt. She had tried to do the right thing but it was turning sour, threatening to erase the harmony of our family. What to do? Sweeten the pot, naturally! Marilyn acquired another starfish, a big green pretzel, and a fuzzy squirrel. Surely with all these choices, harmony would be restored, discord banished.


The squirrel was a game-changer and took the competition to the next level. We may need a federal mediator to mitigate a worse-case scenario. Following several mad dashes to retrieve the hedgehog and squirrel who were dragged outside by first Gibbs, then Bonnie, Marilyn and I were exhausted. Martial law was considered.

After several bribes in the form of biscuit offerings, a temporary truce was achieved. For the moment, the two dogs have taken up positions at opposite ends of the sofa, each in possession of one or more favorite toys. Gibbs has both the squirrel and the hedgehog — but Bonnie has both starfish. The pretzel has (temporarily?) vanished, into Bonnie’s crate, or the front yard. No one is fighting over the dog and the octopus does not appear to have much traction.

Gibbs, now with both hedgehog and squirrel

Gibbs, now with both hedgehog and squirrel

Squirrel, hedgehog, dog, two star fish, a big pretzel and a bright blue octopus are pawns in an ongoing war between Bonnie and Gibbs. There’s a rabbit in the mail.

Stay tuned for updates.



Before the grooming

This morning, we took two blacks heaps of dirty rags to the groomer and emerged two hours later with surprisingly attractive Scottish Terriers. Texture? Soft and fuzzy!

Bonnie has a better beard than Gibbs! A very proud Scottie beard. I got the pictures before we left the groomer. It was raining out and who knew how long they’d look good. Note the two piles of “dirty black rags” have gone and both dogs … (trumpet flourish!) … have eyes!