Tom’s brother, Todd, came down to visit for a week and he brought his six-month-old Catahoula Leopard Dog, Houla. with him. It was like having a toddler around! We spent four days on the boat with the three dogs. It was exhausting to supervise the puppy, but it was also a lot of fun.
Here are some photos from our time on the boat with our dogs.
I am crazy, an over the top dog lover. I share cute dog videos on Facebook. I also share pleas for the endless number of rescue dogs who are in dire circumstances and really need rescuing. I donate money to all kinds of dog rescue organizations as well as the Humane Society.
My heart breaks for all the dogs out there who are abandoned, neglected and/or abused. I try to read as little as possible about dogs suffering all over the world because their images haunt me and keep me from sleeping. Sometimes my heart actually hurts just thinking about them.
Then I read a feel-good dog story and I jump up and down with glee. The positive piece that recently caught my attention was in the New York Times on August 7. Written by Sean Piccoti, it’s called “A Military Medal For ‘Our Four-Legged Heroes’”. The article is primarily about the legislation that has just created a ‘Guardians of America’s Freedom Medal’, the first official commendation by the Defense Department for military working dogs.
Close to 3000 military dogs and handlers are stationed around the world, especially in the Middle East. All branches of the military use dogs who are trained in bomb and drug detection. Dogs are also trained to scout, guard, and track. Also to sniff out bombs, booby traps, mines, drugs, and hostile forces. They are used to patrol Air Bases, Military Compounds, Ammunition Depots, and Military Checkpoints.
The dogs often do multiple tours of duty, like their humans. Some lose their lives, and some lose limbs or suffer other debilitating injuries, just like human soldiers do. Until now, the dogs and their handlers were not recognized for the amazing jobs they do.
The story goes beyond the military award and the recognition of the dogs’ service. The article also talks about a wonderful organization called The War Dogs Association. This New Jersey-based organization provides essential services for the military dogs and handlers on active duty as well as after retirement.
The War Dogs Association donates badly needed supplies to active duty dogs. Ron Aiello, the President of War Dogs, says that if an active duty handler needs a new harness for his dog, it can take months to get it from the army. War Dogs can respond to an email request immediately and get the harness delivered within a week!
The dogs also need other equipment that the military doesn’t always provide. For example, War Dogs sends special goggles to protect the dogs’ eyes from sandstorms. They send cooling vests to protect the dogs from the over 100-degree temperatures in the Middle East. They also send dog boots to protect the dogs’ paws from injury due to extreme heat and rough terrain. It’s appalling to me that the military doesn’t protect their dogs in these basic ways!
War Dogs also takes care of retired dogs. They find good adoptive homes for them when they come back to the States. They also pay for medical care for the retirees, including a free canine prescription drug program.
This story is particularly encouraging because, during the Vietnam war, military dogs were regarded as ‘equipment.’ Many dogs who served were euthanized or just given to the Vietnamese when they were no longer needed.
We’ve come a long way.
Even today, I’ve read that handlers who want to adopt their service dogs when they retire, have to jump through hoops to make it happen. They have to pay lots of money and often wait years to go through the red tape necessary to get the dogs released to them and eventually shipped to America.
It should be automatic that dogs and handlers be kept together if that’s what the handler wants. Hopefully, War Dogs will help with this problem as well.
The sun is not shining because it rained all night, off and with a lot of lightning and thunder. Although our light dimmed briefly, we never lost power. Oddly enough, we were watching the weather when the main storm was passing. They were saying that the storms hustling south to north through Massachusetts were going to drop the humidity and the temperature.
For the next four or five days, we are going to have normal temperatures in the low seventies with more or less normal amounts of humidity.
Considering it was too hot yesterday to make a simple trip to Garry’s barber and finally get a proper trim for his head — because Garry, who had been outside cleaning up after the dogs — said “It’s just too hot” and that, from Garry is a real statement.
Garry likes warm weather. Garry likes hot weather. But this weather? Technically, it was just 96-degrees yesterday, but with almost 80% humidity, and not a breath of breeze, it felt well over 100-degrees.
Air has been like hot soup. The dogs refused to go out. Too hot.
Bonnie, it turns out, has been resisting going out because she is nearly blind. We knew she was going blind for a couple of years. She has a kind of chronic dry eye that even though we put drops and clean her eyes out four or five times every day, one eye is completely clouded up and the vet says it is unlikely she can see anything through it and the other, while still functional, is rapidly developing a serious cataract and it won’t be very long before she can’t see.
She is 11 years old. We have had her with us since she was a mere 9 weeks old, a rescue from a puppy mill. The better news? She is a bit pudgy, but not excessively. As far as Dr. Marcy is concerned, she is in fantastic shape for her age.
For her age.
I hate that wording. I’m not fond of it when it’s about me, but it gives me the cold shivers when it’s about one of the dogs. She has reached the end when “stuff comes up.” Lumps and bumps. She’s a great eater and basically, a very happy little dog, but she is getting old.
I hate it when they get old. It’s so soon. Wasn’t it yesterday I stood in the freezing, snowy yard at three in the morning begging Bonnie to DO SOMETHING so frozen mama could go back to bed?
She loves the snow. She was tiny, yet she bounced through it like one of those high-bounce rubber balls. She still loves snow. But not rain or heat.
We took in the Duke originally because Bonnie had become so inactive we felt her lack of vigor would take years off her life. She and the Duke have formed a real bond. He goes up and down the steps with her, apparently (on some doggish level) aware that she can’t see properly. No depth perception. He pushes her in and out of the doggy door.
With Duke around, she is much more active. The Duke makes her play with him. She doesn’t just lie on the sofa anymore. She plays and this is a good thing.
Duke shepherds both Scotties up and down the stairs, even though there isn’t a speck of shepherd in his Asian breed mix. He looks like a Shih Tzu, but he’s twice the size and he has a funny squashy, uneven face, one ear up, one ear down. Visually, he’s a dead ringer for a Papillon — except he is very much larger. But he has that face, minus the one downward-pointing ear.
Meanwhile, against all odds, he shepherds both Scotties and us. He is always inches from Garry or me when we go anywhere. If it’s the bathroom and we shut the door, he lies across the threshold and waits. If we are off to bed, he settles in on the floor across the doorway. No night visitor will pass him by.
Every night. On the wood floor. It is not that he is velcro on us. More like we are velcro on him. I feel like I should put a bed in the hall for him, but the hallway is really narrow. I’d trip and fall over it.
He wants my coffee and muffin, though first and foremost, he wants my muffin. With the lemon curd on it. If I turn my back for half a second, he’s nailed that muffin. Gone. He looks utterly innocent.
“What muffin? Me? I didn’t eat your muffin. Prove it. Show me the evidence.”
Not a crumb remains on his snout.
Drinking coffee in the morning is one part coffee, two parts fending off The Duke. I let him have the crumbs left on the plate few as they are. That level of loyalty surely deserves at least the crumbs — and anyway, he has probably swiped half of it while I wasn’t looking. He is very fast.
Barking Questions – If only we could bark a few answers!
Our dogs bark at us. They look us in the eyes, then they bark. So we have conversations with them.
Duke: “Bark, bark.” Short whimper.
Duke: “BARK bark BARK bark BARK.”
Marilyn: ” Garry, do you know what he wants?”
Garry: “No. Duke, you’ll have to speak up. What do you want?”
Bonnie: “BARK! Bark, bark, bark.”
Garry: “I’m sorry, we just don’t speak dog.”
Dogs look at each other, clearly frustrated. I’m sure they want something and apparently, whatever it is, it’s quite specific. I get when it’s food because then they bark at the plate or the fork or try very hard to get right in there and eat some. But the rest of it?
Bark? Bark bark bark? Definitely a question.
They need to learn to speak more people-like. Or we need to find a better way to ask them the bigger question. Why don’t you dogs speak English? Are you aliens? Do you have green cards? Are you guys legal?
Duke is not our first dog. We’ve had a big selection of hounds, terriers, and mutts of various backgrounds, sizes, ages. Somehow or other they have all fit in here because anyone or anything can fit in here, assuming they want to. For years, there has been great howling and yapping and barking in this house and that’s the way we seem to like it.
The thing we’ve never had, however, are truly obedient dogs. We don’t demand obedience, so we don’t get it. I wasn’t a very good disciplinarian as a mom, either.
Discipline makes me feel guilty. Who am I to demand obedience? Who do I think I am anyway?
Garry is worse. Garry was born with a gene that says “whatever you tell me to do, I won’t do it.” It’s a special piece of DNA that screams “Oh yeah? Who’s gonna make me?” Even in the Marine Corps, when his drill instructor yelled at him, he laughed.
It got him a lot of days scrubbing bathrooms with toothbrushes, but it’s in his blood. He cannot help himself. I cannot help him either. He’s a tough nut. People think he’s so easy-going … and he is … unless you get him mad. Then he isn’t. Easy-going.
Duke is the dog Garry deserves. Duke also has no grip on “Do what they tell you. Be a GOOD dog.” You stare at Duke and he stares back. You can see every inch of Duke screaming “Oh yeah? Who’s gonna make me?”
Certainly not Garry. They try to stare each other down, but Garry starts laughing long before he manages to get obedience … and anyway, I don’t think Duke can do it. It’s not in him. The other dogs, if they hear that “tone” in my voice will do what I say because they hear the “alpha” note — and figure they ought to behave, even if it’s just a few minutes.
Not Duke. Nope. Never. He doesn’t do “obey.” He would make a feral cat look like a well-trained pup.
Unless I’m holding a piece of chicken. Chicken is another level of training and if I actually needed Duke to behave, I would need a lot of chickens. Possibly a whole cow. Or an entire flock of sheep and maybe a school of shrimp. Do shrimp swim in a school or is that just fish?
Anyway, Duke is the dog Garry needed. He is the dog that will go eyeball-to-eyeball with Garry until they are both laughing themselves silly. Well, Garry does most of the laughing, but I swear Duke is grinning.
So we know why Garry wound up with Duke, but what did the two Scotties and I do to deserve him?
Boyoboy, I can’t think of any time in my life I have felt LESS sensual. Life just isn’t like that these days. It seems to be more about regularity, eating right, hoping nothing breaks, and wondering if the retirement money will last as long as your life and what happens if it doesn’t?
I think that’s where dogs become more important. They are furry, fluffy, cozy, and snuggly. They are more than a best pal. They are the other “person” who remembers to kiss and hug you. Dogs love you and you can safely love them back. All they want is a biscuit and some playtime or a walk.
The longer I live, the rarer such behavior becomes. Someone who loves without wanting something back. Amazing, eh?
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