THE CHANGING SEASONS – JUNE 2020 – Marilyn Armstrong

THE CHANGING SEASONS – JUNE 2020 – AND SO MUCH MORE …


What a strange and haunted year we have had. We are living in a world we never imagined except perhaps as a science fiction novel of the dystopian future. We don’t go anywhere, although today we went to the vet to say goodbye to Bonnie … and the grocery to say hello to food.

It’s almost a weird kind of relief that we finally let her go. This has been looming for close to a year. I remember last summer refusing to take even a short vacation because I felt she needed care and no one else had the time to give it to her. I haven’t absorbed it yet, but the Duke is grieving. Lots of sighing and moaning. When they walked her away up the ramp he started to cry and we cried with him.

Good bye Bonnie. Your were the best little girl ever and we will always miss you.



From Su Leslie:

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

THE GRAND DUKE – Marilyn Armstrong

DUKE OF OUR ACRES


We got him by accident. We kept him because he needed a home. We thought eventually, he’d calm down. He calmed down. He has mostly stopped jumping fences. Mostly. He isn’t mellow exactly, but he is among the friendliest dogs I’ve ever known.

He’s loving and sweet and protective. He tries very hard to be fierce, but no one is ever afraid of him. He will keep trying, though.

Resting … however briefly

What’s going on out there!

Portrait of the beast

“I think I smell a squirrel”

Guarding on the sofa!

His eyes watch me. I might go to the kitchen!

He has a great face and melting eyes.

In bed with Garry

COVID-19 DISTANCING: HOME WITH THE FURRY KIDS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Loneliness is one of the collateral damage effects of COVID 19. There are increasing reports of people whose social lives have been turned upside down by mandates to stay home,  away from crowds and the possibility of COVID 19 infection. If you’re a party animal, this is life as you’ve never known it. Days and nights away from clubbing, sports, concerts and the hot, new movies at your local multiple plex theater. Crisis hotlines are top-heavy with folks not used to spending time away from the madding crowds.

How many texts and tweets can you share about doing nothing with no one?

We’re lucky. Senior citizens, deep in our retirement years and not especially sociable folks. Living in a small town with few places to make merry has eased us into the quiet life. We have a bonus with our furry kids demanding nonstop attention while giving us often unwanted other entertainment.

Entertainment as a Barkathon lasting from dusk till dawn. Barkathons that keep Mom and Dad awake. Well, more Mom. Our dogs are oblivious to the COVID 19 nightmares and how it’s changed the lives of those who supply biscuits, dinner, more biscuits. The Barkathons override the frantic breaking news reports and COVID 19 updates that now have an all too familiar sound.

Here I am again, listening for any sound that requires more barking.

Our nightly high point is when Donzo appears for his pandemic updates and is almost immediately drowned out by the frequent disdain of Duke and Bonnie who seem to be having barking fits as they listen to the incoherent blatherings of the White House jester.

Bonnie Annie Laurie

In the midst of yelling at the dogs to shush, we realize they’ve distracted us from major portions of the POTUS drivel. A good thing. And Bonnie’s very deaf so yelling at her is pointless The furries somehow sense that the orange-haired gent on the screen is like the clown toys they love to chew up and toss around. An epiphany!  Duke and Bonnie are trying to spare us the anger and frustration we feel every time the weird man speaks to us in tongues.

It’s harder to appreciate the Barkathons during the wee small hours when we’re trying to escape into dreamland where all is right in our world and dragons have been sequestered. I don’t think our dogs realize we are trying to what they do for most of the day.


SLEEP!


We are tinkering with the idea of barking at the furries and disturbing their rest. We’ve tried without success. They think it’s a game played by Ma and Pa. If they do understand our frustration, they show little compassion. Barking is their thing. Their Right. I believe they think barking is necessary for Dad who’s been hard of hearing for most of his life. They dismiss the success of my cochlear implant and bark LOUDER to see if they can triumph over my CI.  It’s a conspiracy where the dogs prevail and we, HU-mans, will always lose.  Bark! Bark! Bark!

All the attention given to the dogs erases any possibility of loneliness during the pandemic. They keep us alert, insisting we march to their sound of a different drummer.

I suspect the dogs expect an award. Maybe the Presidential Medal of Honor for keeping their owners alert. Bonnie, especially, believes her shrill, nonstop barking is akin to stories she’s heard from the Dog Father. She is merely retelling an ancient doggish myth. The 24/7 barking tops any stories about celebrities the old man tells over and over again.

Loneliness? Not here! The furries kids have our 6, Bark! Bark! Bark!

Game. Set, Match.

More biscuits, please!!

LOSING GIBBS – Marilyn Armstrong

On February 8, 2020, Gibbs died. We had no warning that there was something seriously wrong with him and until he died, he was eating, alive, and active.A lot of people seem to have missed this post, so I’m posting it again. I miss Gibbs, especially when I’m feeding them. I automatically grab three dishes, then I remember — just two.

Bonnie was the dog who I was worried about. I’m still worried and every time she sleeps deeply and I go to wake her, I’m afraid she won’t wake up.I would love another dog but I think maybe we are too old to be good doggy parents … and too poor to afford another one. Just the veterinary care is getting to be beyond our means. But there are so many dogs who need homes now and we are a good home. Here’s the original post.


Today, sometime around the middle of the afternoon, Gibbs died.

He was having what seemed a normal day. Up in the morning, begging for treats. Barking like crazy at anyone going up or down the stairs. Then, he went to sleep on the sofa.

We were going to a concert and friends were coming over for dinner and coming with us, so I was just getting ready to get dressed for the event. Garry went in to feed the dogs. Gibbs didn’t show up for dinner, so he came in here to shake Gibbs awake, which we often have to do because he was had become a very heavy sleeper, something  I attributed to aging.

Gibbs

Garry shook him, but he didn’t wake up. He shook him again. Gibbs normally woke as soon as you touched him. I had that instantly bad feeling you get when something is very wrong. I went over. His eyes were open and were unresponsive. He was warm and his nose was cool and moist, but he was not breathing.

Gibbs

He had died on the sofa in his sleep sometime between mid-morning snack time and four in the afternoon.

We had him for 3 years and 11 months. He was just about to turn 13 in April. He arrived on my birthday, nearly four years ago. He never seemed as old as Bonnie. I  always assumed he would outlive her.

I hope we gave him a good home. We had him at the vet just four days ago for his 3-year rabies shot and while we were worried about those enlarged glands in his neck, he was on antibiotics in the hopes it was merely an infection.

The vet said it had to have been some kind of cardiac event, possibly a slow-growing tumor — the kind you never know about because there’s no prelude, no warnings. We’ll never know for sure.

On the way back tonight, I almost went to look in the shed to see if, by some miracle, he had woken up. But I knew better so I didn’t.

I’ve had many dogs over the years, but I’ve never had one simply die in his or her sleep like that. I’m a bit in shock right now and of course, we have to take him to the vet for cremation tomorrow. I would have liked to bury him here, but we live on rocks and without a backhoe, we could not dig deep enough to bury him properly.

He didn’t make a sound while he died and I was sitting just a few feet away. He must have been asleep. Owen points out that he died on his favorite sofa without that terrible, prolonged illness that is typical of old animals. I hope we gave him a good home. At least for these last years, he was free to come and go and get some of the love he never got when he was young.

Rest in peace, Gibbs. You were a beautiful boy.

SUPERDOGS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Tom and I have had some awesome dogs. Some have had mad skills.

For example, Tom had a Giant Schnauzer named George. He was a serious herder. When Tom had a party, everyone always ended up huddled together in the corner of one room. George would be happily asleep nearby.

In addition to herding humans, George was a skilled dog herder. Often when Tom came home from work, he’d find six to eight dogs from the neighborhood in his backyard. George had collected them and brought them home. Tom would have to shoo the dogs off and send them back to their own homes.

Tom had a radio show years ago and he wrote comedy skits for the show. One was about a dog advice columnist and was called “Ask Dr. Dog”. Tom would put George in front of a microphone and point at him and George would bark on cue. Another hand signal and George would stop. Better than most human radio personalities!

Friday was a Shepard mix of Tom’s. He would obsessively steal silverware. Tom never knew why. He just knew George would sneak off with forks, spoons, or knives in his mouth.

One day, Tom followed Friday to see where he took his stolen dinnerware. Friday had a big stash behind his favorite chair. The amazing thing was that Friday had organized the cutlery by type. All the forks were together, all the spoons were together and all the knives were together. That requires a level of cognitive skills that dogs are not supposed to have. It was a surprising feat for a dog.

I had a wonderful Golden Retriever Border Collie mix named Sam. Everyone loved this beautiful dog. But he was an escape artist and a food thief. He got out of a locked crate and actually bent some of the bars in the process. He also got out of a house with all the doors shut. We have no idea how he did it. After that we nicknamed Sam, “Hairy Houdini”.

Sam’s other talent was stealing food very, very discreetly. One day I put a chicken sandwich on the kitchen table for my son, David. David called up to me asking why I had given him a lettuce sandwich. I insisted that I had made him a chicken sandwich. I went into the kitchen and David was right. There was no chicken in the sandwich. But the sandwich looked totally normal. No signs of tampering. Except for one telltale piece of lettuce on the floor next to the table. The smoking gun! We found out later that Tom had actually watched Sam carefully pull the chicken out of the sandwich, leaving the rest of the sandwich intact.

Sam also got some Rugellah I had left in the car with him for a few minutes. But the cookies were tightly wrapped in two layers of aluminum foil. When I got back to the car, the two layers of foil had been carefully unwrapped. There wasn’t a single tear anywhere in the foil. And there were only a few crumbs left sitting in the middle of the package.

One other dog of mine and Tom’s also had a superpower. His name was Caley and he was a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. He was an extraordinary Frisbee dog. He could catch almost any Frisbee you could throw at him. He’d jump in the air and do all kinds of twists and flips, backward and forwards, to get to the Frisbee. As impressive as that is, many dogs can do that. Caley could do something else.

When we had landscapers working in our yard, they had to pick the rocks out of the soil to create planting areas. Caley was out with the landscapers. The boss knocked on my door and asked me to please keep Caley inside. Apparently, when the men threw a rock away, Caley would retrieve it and bring it back to them. So he was slowing the work down. We tested him to see if he was bringing back the same rocks that had been thrown. And he was.

A year later, the landscaper was standing outside the house with me, reminiscing about the amazing rock trick Caley had done the previous year. Caley came running outside and went right up to the landscaper. Then he ran off. He came back with a rock in his mouth and dropped it excitedly at the landscaper’s feet. He waited, wagging his tail, for the rock to be thrown for him. He remembered the rock game and wanted to play it again!

There are a lot of talented dogs out there. These are just some of our stories about our dogs with unique talents.

HOW CAN I CATCH A FLYING SQUIRREL? – Marilyn Armstrong

Let me start this by saying I did not take any of these pictures. I don’t have the right equipment but hope to get some. In the meantime, these are pictures from various habitat sites. 

Owen had a friend over today who was quite the expert on flying squirrels. He said not only do we have two kinds of flying squirrels in Massachusetts, but we have three. Except that the black one only lives in the far western part of the state.

Which is actually only 75 miles from here because Massachusetts is a small state. Not as small as neighboring Rhode Island or Deleware, but small. You can drive from Boston to the far western border of Massachusetts in about 4 hours. Less if you put your pedal to the metal.

 

So when I said the far western part of the state, it’s not all that far from here. It just seems that the black flying squirrels prefer fir trees to oak trees and there are more conifers there than here.

He also pointed out that flying squirrels are extremely friendly and make great pets. My brain went into overdrive. I had a mental image of The Duke trying to chase down a flying squirrel and the wreckage which could result from this combination. Or, maybe he would fall madly in love with flying squirrels. I know I’m madly in love with flying squirrels. They are incredibly cute and I was wondering how you catch a flying squirrel so you can tame it.

Owen went online and confirmed it. There are many articles about how tameable flying squirrels are. I went into “How can I catch one?”

Owen and Garry immediately went into  “No, Marilyn, you cannot have a flying squirrel.”

“How about two flying squirrels?” I asked. “They could glide together around the house. And feeding them is easy. They love bird seed, especially black sunflower seeds. Of which we have pounds.”

Men always band together. These two were clearly against my developing a relationship with one or more flying squirrels. Owen said it was a bad idea. Garry nodded, but I think he’d really love having a flying squirrel. I think it would be tons of fun and I’m still trying to figure out how to catch one. I simply won’t tell anyone until I have acquired one of my own.

Who could refuse if I brought a couple home?

GIBBS IS GONE – Marilyn Armstrong

Today, sometime around the middle of the afternoon, Gibbs died.

He was having what seemed a normal day. Up in the morning, begging for treats. Barking like crazy at anyone going up or down the stairs. Then, he went to sleep on the sofa.

We were going to a concert and friends were coming over for dinner and coming with us, so I was just getting ready to get dressed for the event. Garry went in to feed the dogs. Gibbs didn’t show up for dinner, so he came in here to shake Gibbs awake, which we often have to do because he was had become a very heavy sleeper, something  I attributed to aging.

Gibbs

Garry shook him, but he didn’t wake up. He shook him again. Gibbs normally woke as soon as you touched him. I had that instantly bad feeling you get when something is very wrong. I went over. His eyes were open and were unresponsive. He was warm and his nose was cool and moist, but he was not breathing.

Gibbs

He had died on the sofa in his sleep sometime between mid-morning snack time and four in the afternoon.

We had him for 3 years and 11 months. He was just about to turn 13 in April. He arrived on my birthday, nearly four years ago. He never seemed as old as Bonnie. I  always assumed he would outlive her.

I hope we gave him a good home. We had him at the vet just four days ago for his 3-year rabies shot and while we were worried about those enlarged glands in his neck, he was on antibiotics in the hopes it was merely an infection.

The vet said it had to have been some kind of cardiac event, possibly a slow-growing tumor — the kind you never know about because there’s no prelude, no warnings. We’ll never know for sure.

On the way back tonight, I almost went to look in the shed to see if, by some miracle, he had woken up. But I knew better so I didn’t.

I’ve had many dogs over the years, but I’ve never had one simply die in his or her sleep like that. I’m a bit in shock right now and of course, we have to take him to the vet for cremation tomorrow. I would have liked to bury him here, but we live on rocks and without a backhoe, we could not dig deep enough to bury him properly.

He didn’t make a sound while he died and I was sitting just a few feet away. He must have been asleep. Owen points out that he died on his favorite sofa without that terrible, prolonged illness that is typical of old animals. I hope we gave him a good home. At least for these last years, he was free to come and go and get some of the love he never got when he was young.

Rest in peace, Gibbs. You were a beautiful boy.

HUMANS RIGHTS — Marilyn Armstrong

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 hate being kissed and nuzzled.

The article suggests a pat on the head … and a treat … would be much more appreciated. Not by Garry or me. We figure fair-is-fair — we get to do our thing, too.

Garry, Bonnie, and Gibbs – A moment of zen

72-dogs-toys2-10122016_031

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.

72-bw-sketch-gibbs-13122016_00

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? I’m supposed to think if I stand in the doorway calling them, that they can’t hear me? Or — at the least — know I want them to come in? Of course, they know. They’re just playing with us.

Bonnie and Gibbs have gotten kind of deaf, so now I never know for sure if they are messing with me or not. Now that Owen has moved in, they bark at least twice as much as before.

Typically, they sleep until about seven, then they begin barking. Bonnie is the starter because she has NO manners at all and because she urgently wants cookies and attention. Since being put on a diet, her urgency about cookies has doubled, too.

We stagger to our feet. Give them some attention accompanied by cookies. While we are at it, we clear out Bonnie’s goopy eye and Garry takes his early morning medications. I refill my glass of juice and we go back to bed. That settles them down for a while.

Now, though, when Owen gets up — he being the early bird — they all go into a crazed barking frenzy. As soon as he comes upstairs, they calm down. I believe they lack patience.

72-bonnie-sofa-dog-13122016_018

Duke and Gibbs are passionate about him and have their version of a fight over him even though he isn’t in the room yet. They hear him (how deaf IS Gibbs)?  Bonnie barks because she likes to bark. In fact, she barks for long periods every day, which gets the other two barking. You can’t have a conversation, listen to a book, or watch TV when they are barking. It’s deafening.

I should add that they do all this insane barking indoors so as not to annoy the neighbors. Aren’t we lucky?

72-dog-grooming-day-08122016_12

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 humans!”) kiss them 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. Not to mention having to cope with their early morning concerto. Good grief, they are loud.

Garry sleeps through it, the single advantage to deafness. With his head-gear off, he could sleep through a full cannon barrage.

We put up with them, so they will have to put up with us. That’s our part of the deal. Just to add our insult to their injury, we intentionally wake them up when they are sleeping. This morning, the three of them broke open the door and Duke, the only one with long legs, jumped all over Garry. That got us up. But they seem to know Garry is the serious sleeper because they never jump on me.

This might be a good time to mention that we’ve finally got Bonnie’s eyes under control. You know how vets only give you official medications? They never try anything that isn’t (a) expensive, (b) made from chemicals whose names you can’t pronounce, or (c) might be natural and yet work anyhow.

Her eyes were getting worse and worse and she had this big red thing in her eye that the vet said needed surgery and so did everything I could find on the Internet. In a fit of desperation, I picked up a Veterinycyn (probably spelled wrong) spray bottle of natural microbial natural stuff that is supposed to clear up pink-eye and get the goop out of her eyes.

It eliminated the redness within three days — something no other medicine has done. Why didn’t any of the various vets at three different offices consider the possibility of common pink-eye as an issue? She has had this problem for most of her life and never once did any of the vets suggest it. Yet is it incredibly common to all mammals, including us. Not only that, but that ugly red mass began to shrink and is barely visible just one week later.

Surgery? Nope. One 16-ounce bottle of pink-eye spray from Amazon. Good for dogs, horses, cats and guinea pigs. I bet it would work for me. It says it’s for pets only, but I’ve learned that this is not necessarily true. I know, for example, that the Pfizer medication we use on her eyes is identical to the stuff we get for our eyes and ears. Identical ingredients, same manufacturer — but the human stuff is packaged better and is much cheaper.

Also, we bought special baking soda spray for her terrible teeth (and some we put in the water for all the dogs). All the dogs have stopped having bad breath and Bonnie’s teeth are getting whiter day by day. When they breathe, it sure does smell better. The vet assured us it could NEVER work. Only the $800 tooth job could help. It turns out that baking soda is the primary active ingredient (along with fluoride) in toothpaste and mouthwash. For animals and people. Look it up.

She will need work done on her mouth, but we don’t have the money now and won’t for a while. Not to mention that Bonnie’s teeth were done once a year last year and for two years before that, so they should not BE that bad.

If this were one single vet, I’d change vets. But this is four or five vets in three different offices and not a single one considered pink-eye as a problem. Yes, she also has dry-eyes, but the redness and the nasty red thing in her eye were all part of the neglected pink eye.

Bad diagnoses are just as likely to come from human doctors. I can vouch for that.

Getting Bonnie on a diet has given her a new lease on life. She no longer weighs like two cinder blocks. She’s definitely a single cinder-block dog now.

She charges up the stairs at full tilt and she is outside running around as if she were five years younger. She still, sadly, remains deaf, but maybe we’ll find a fix for that, too!

A PET GOAT? – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Goats were the first livestock species to be domesticated, about 10,000 years ago. Scientists believe that dogs and cats can connect with humans because of changes in their brains over thousands of years of domestication and companionship with humans.

Did goats experience the same brain evolution as dogs and cats? Researchers from Queen Mary University in London have studied goats and believe the answer is yes.

Adorable dwarf baby goat

This research has shown that goats are quite intelligent (unlike sheep) and they interact with humans in similar ways as our domesticated house pets, such as cats and dogs. There is also strong evidence that goats are capable of complex communications with humans.

There is a classic experiment that separates wolves (non-domesticated) from dogs (domesticated). This experiment was done with goats and they reacted like the dogs, not the wolves. The subject animals were all trained to open a box in order to receive a treat. Then the researchers made the box impossible to open and watched what the animals did. The wolves just kept trying to do what had opened the box before. But the dogs and goats both stopped fairly quickly and looked over to their owners in a pleading manner – asking their humans for help in getting the treat.

Dogs and goats also gazed longer at the person doing the experiment when that person was looking at them because they understood that they had the human’s attention. That is clear evidence of communication and emotional connection between the species.

Affectionate goat

Goats have also proved their superior intelligence by figuring out how to break into a sealed box using levers and the goats can even remember this skill four years later! This is a test used by researchers to gauge the intelligence of apes.

Household goat

I’ve seen videos online of goats brought up from birth as house pets and I must say, they look adorable. They are smart and affectionate but are also very curious and mischievous. They can become clever escape artists and can do damage to a house. Not a pet for everyone. But I know dogs who are extremely difficult and destructive, so how much worse can a goat be?

Goats in coats

Apparently, goats eat and evacuate throughout the day, so the best you can hope for in housebreaking a goat is to train him to go in a specific place, like a kitty litter box. It’s been suggested that the best way to keep a pet goat is to have an outdoor structure for him to live in part of the time and only stay in the house when the temperature is extreme outside and/or when the goat can be supervised indoors.

Throughout my long life with pets, I have become attached to birds, frogs, turtles, snakes, hamsters, and rabbits as well as cats and dogs. So I can definitely see falling in love with an interactive and intelligent animal like a goat.

I don’t plan to goat proof my house any time soon, but I like the idea of bringing unusual pets into the family.

MARILYN’S FARM – Marilyn Armstrong

I was surprised at how little foliage had “popped.” The Blackstone runs along that road and that usually brings out early foliage. Not this year. I also noticed that the meteorologists have stopped predicting “leafing” areas. Usually they are busy telling us where to find the best foliage, but the last two years were really bad, so they stopped.

In the name of improving something, even if it isn’t much, I changed to the “clean energy” variation from National Grid. I don’t think it’ll make a huge difference in our bills, but I need to feel like I’m doing something, even if it isn’t much.

So these are my farm pictures. Not much foliage but there’s some. Meanwhile, I got some very cute cows!

FATE IS IRREFUTABLE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Irrefutable

Bonnie has been changing. The relentless barking. Her unwillingness to sit with us on the sofa. She seeks out dark corners and no longer hears me when I call her. She also can’t see well and the other night, one of he teeth just fell out. But she sure does sleep well.

It was vet time yesterday. There was too much that seemed wrong and so un-Bonnie. We learned immediately that her teeth were awful — and considering we had them done twice in a row two years ago, they shouldn’t be that bad. But the teeth of small dogs go very quickly as they age. We have seen in it other small terriers and even though our vets are the most reasonably priced in the area for this work, she’s going to lose a lot of teeth. And she also needs senior dog bloodwork because, as the vet rather gently pointed out (he’s not always a very gentle guy), dogs change, much like aging people change with their years … and they don’t change back.

She isn’t the dog she was been for all the years we have had her, which is from baby dog — 9 weeks — to now. I trained her in the deep snow of winter and she was always the most charming of our dogs.

The vet delicately pointed out that since she is going deaf, is partially blind and to top it all, she appears to be getting a bit demented. Which is probably what all the barking about. These days, all she seems to know how to do is shout.

We need to consider her quality of life, the vet’s polite way of saying “That time is coming around again.”

We’ve had Bonnie longer than any other dog and while I know  — knew — always knew — this moment would come, I always dreaded it. Especially because we are getting too old to take on a young pet and too poor to manage old ones.

We’ve got a few months to think about it. To square up our elderly hunching shoulders and get it together.

I don’t think we’ll be getting more dogs. We are now at the point where our dogs are likely to outlive us. We don’t really have anywhere to send them, either. There’s no one to care for them if we are gone.

We have both throughout our lives had a morbid tendency to wait until too late to deal with the end game properly. We don’t want to let go. There’s nothing easy about it and even though we have two other dogs in the house — and I know part of the reason we got Duke was that the other two were getting old. We were not talking about it, but we knew. We didn’t want to know.

I’m quite sure Duke will be our last dog. I swear, he knows. Dogs know a lot.

I’m not going to make this a crying and wailing post. I have been through this too many times. It’s the worst when there’s no lethal ailment to make it inevitable but just a general winding down of a life.

I thought she would live longer. She’s small. I had hoped for a good solid 15 or 16 years from her, but she has been aging faster than seemed reasonable for the past couple of years. I could see it in her coat turning so quickly gray and odd changes in her behavior.

Technically, Gibbs is the same age but seems much younger. I’ve always wondered if he was really the age on his papers. He was kenneled and they lie about their dogs. So I think he’s good for a while … but I wonder how Duke and Gibbs will get on without Bonnie. She has always been the sweet spot between the two boys.

Talk about irrefutable. The passage through life always ends the same way. It doesn’t matter how well we feed them or how sweetly we love them or how they care for us. Time does what time does. Why do the best ones always seem to go first?

HEY DAD! WE FIXED IT! – Marilyn Armstrong

DogsSlayThe Beastie

Oh, how wonderfully familiar this looks. The cast of miscreants so cute you can’t yell at them … so destructive it takes your breath away! They’re worse when they work as a pack.

But they love you, they really, really love you.

AT LEAST SOMEONE IS GETTING A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP – Marilyn Armstrong

Usually, Bonnie crashes at about 11 at night and won’t wake up short of being shaken awake until early morning. This has become normal, and for a few nights, I just didn’t bother to wake her for her late-night snack.

Last night, she woke up.

When late-night snack time came around, she was climbing up my leg to get to her snack. When she barked me awake at about four in the morning, I staggered up and gave her her snack. She was wide awake and downright perky. I wish I could say the same.

When she woke me again at about six by not merely barking at the bedroom door, but jumping up on it and trying to unhinge it, I staggered up — again — and passed along some very small goodies because they are getting a bit beefy again.

Left: Bonnie, Right: Gibbs

When at around seven, she apparently felt we’d had more than enough sleep, I poked Garry and said: “Do something. Otherwise, I may strangle Bonnie.”

He got up. I don’t know what he did, but she’s still wide awake and peppy. Well, not at the moment. It’s just after dinner which is crash time for all three of them. They have no interest in us until they think it might be snack-time again.

Resting … however briefly

It’s really nice to know that all that sleep has really perked up little Bonnie. Garry and I are dragging around like unwashed bags of laundry and she is dashing around the house. Maybe I should get up every couple of hours, shake her awake and bark in her ear?

You think she might get the point?

DECISION, DECISIONS – Marilyn Armstrong

I worry about small things even more than big ones. Right now, I’m worrying about ticks and fleas. We got some lethal mosquitoes in the area which is bad enough, but as I was petting Duke the other night, I realized that his flea and tick collar was too tight. The Duke has filled out.

We’ve had so much rain that it has been soaked repeatedly which I think made it expand some — and I just couldn’t get it to open more. Finally, I gave up and cut it off him which left him with no flea and tick protection. All three dogs were wearing the Seresto (Bayer) collars which are highly effective, but also poisonous. All is well as long as there’s no allergic reaction and your dog doesn’t get sick. Some dogs get sick and older ones tend to have a lot of skin, eye, and ear issues anyway.

Two of my dogs are getting kind of old and I figured it was time to replace their collars anyway. But with what?

Buy the very expensive Seresto ($52 to $58 each, if you please) collars or go with the less effective “natural oil” collars that apparently work for some people, but who knows if they will work here?

There aren’t a lot of choices. You can buy the Seresto collars (Bayer) and there’s one other manufacturer that makes poison collars, but I looked at the ingredients and decided no, I don’t think so. So I went with Tuzik Flea and Tick Collar, which is one of the “herbal oil” collars. Most of these contain essentially the same oils:

      • Citronella
      • Lemon Oil
      • Clove Oil
      • Peppermint Oil
      • Eucalyptus Oil

Some also include: cedarwood, cinnamon, lavender, thyme, and geranium oils — and some don’t use cinnamon or clove oil. There is some dispute over clove oil, but I think it’s probably safer than Flumethrin or Permethrin.

The things none of them use are Permethrin, Pyriproxyfen, Flumethrin, Imidacloprid, Fipronil, Pyrethrins, Nitenpyram, Deltamethrin, Diatomaceous Earth, Tetrachlorvinphos. There are a few other poisons used on other collars. The thing is, these poison collar work very well … except when they kill your dog. Sometimes, your dog does okay with no problem and you never see a tick or a flea — which is great. Sometimes, even after using them for a long time, your dog breaks out in a bloody rash that can be hard to cure. Or dies.

I finally went with the “natural oil” version. Do I think it will work as well as Seresto did?

Probably it won’t.

Did I make the right decision? I don’t know. It’s not like there’s a third choice — like “a little poisonous, but not too bad.” It’s either natural oil and non-toxic, or really toxic and let’s just hope everything works out okay.

I hate this kind of choice. Because I never know if I made the right decision.