Having bought the tub, aka “swimming hole for small dogs,” and what with both dogs more or less ignoring it, there came a moment when Garry felt it was time the introduce Gibbs to the tub. Why Gibbs not Bonnie?

(1) Gibbs likes paddling in the water bowl.

(2) Bonnie holds grudges.

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Gibbs was not terrified. He was, in fact, surprisingly under-whelmed. Both Gibbs and Bonnie apparently regard the tub as an over-sized drinking trough.

I’m beginning to look at it as a planter for my fall chrysanthemums. Apparently Gibbs prefers paddling in the water bowl and drinking from the “pool.”


I came back out of the bedroom last night to collect the folded clothing Garry had earlier washed and put on the coffee table for appropriate distribution. Gibbs and Bonnie were standing four-square on the end table next to where I normally sit. They were rooting for crumbs — or anything I might have left they could eat.


They are not, despite the lies they tell about it, starving. Gibbs has lost the lean and hungry look he had when he arrived here. Bonnie’s belly tells its own story. No starving dogs in this house. Garry would never allow it. Yet they beg, dig, and search for food constantly as if whatever meal they most recently consumed will be their last.

NOT. True. They lie like dogs.


Consider the water-bowl thing. We use a stainless steel stock pot as a water bowl. This was necessary for Bishop who drank a huge amount of water. Sometimes, we wondered if he was part camel and we always said he had a drinking problem

Now, with just the two smaller dogs, we could use a smaller bowl for the Scotties. But they’re used to the big one — and so are we. I bet a smaller container would end up knocked over with the floor flooded.

Regardless, no matter what we do, there’s always water on the floor. I bought a special tray to put under the water. We recently added a bath towel under the tray to sop some of the overflow. But still, there’s always pools of water here, there, elsewhere.


I could not figure out why. These are not jowly dogs. They don’t drool buckets after a taking a drink. Okay, they have beards, but seriously … how much water can a Scottie’s beard dump on the floor?

Came the day I found Gibbs in the water pot. Not all four legs. Just his two front paws. He was paddling happily with merriment and lots of splashing. A nice little swim.


Terriers in general and Scotties in particular are not known for aquatic enthusiasm, though my first Scottie — MacADog — liked to wallow in shallow water along the shore at the beach. As long as he could keep his feet on the ground, water was okay. Apparently Gibbs likes a bit of cool water on a hot summer’s day.


Garry and I went into a huddle? Should we buy him a pool? That seemed a bit of overkill. Especially given the drought conditions we’re having. But something perhaps to give him a bit of water playtime not in the water bowl. Nothing inflatable. A dogs claws can merely rake lightly on the surface of an inflatable and it is thence forward a deflatable.

We compromised. I bought a washtub. A big, 18-gallon metal tub. I’ve got pictures of me and my brother chilling out on warm summer days in tubs just like this.


Garry’s shoulder has been very sore, so the tub remained empty until this morning when Garry decided he could carry some water down if he carried the buckets in his left hand. And he did.


Of course, the dogs have no idea what to make of it. They’ve been sniffing all around it and poking their heads over the side.

I’m counting on natural curiosity to get one or both of them wet. If that doesn’t work, you can bet I’ll drop them in, then enjoy the show. And the mopping up as our wet dogs come galloping homeward.


It’s summer here on Rancho Kachingerosa. Let our mini-Olympics begin!


Our otherwise well-behaved younger dog, Lexi barks at everything when I’m around (not so much when I’m not). We can live with that. However, she has also started growling at our 15 ½ year old dog. She has even gone after him once or twice. This is unacceptable behavior so we called in a dog trainer.


After meeting with the trainer, it turns out that I am the problem and I am the one who has to be trained! Apparently our actions can be interpreted by canine brains in ways we can not always predict or understand. I’ve always thought it was love and devotion that made Lexi follow me around. It turns out I’ve let her feel that she has to protect me 24/7.

She thinks that’s her job – and because of many of her Heinz 57 strains of DNA, she takes her job very seriously. I also thought it was love and affection that made her drape herself over me when we sit together. Wrong again. She is being possessive and asserting that I am her “property”. This exacerbates her desire to “protect” me from anyone else, particularly from our other dog.

So, I have to make some changes in the way I relate to her.


I know that dog people often have strong ideas about the “right” way to train dogs and their humans. I personally believe that different things work for different people and different dogs. Also, some behaviors come more easily to some people. For example, I am not a disciplined person and I have a poor attention span. So I do not do well with rigid rules or strict practice schedules. I need behaviors that I can adapt into my not very structured day-to-day life.

So here’s what the trainer worked out for me and Lexi.

I will keep her from spending all her time next to me. That should let her know that she doesn’t own me or need to protect me. She already knows how to sit, lie down, stay, and come. While I watch TV, she has to sit on her dog bed across the room from me. And stay there until I release her which also tells her I’m the alpha, not her.

She has to look to me to determine where she should be and what she should be doing, at least sometimes. If this isn’t enough to alter her behavior towards our second dog, I will extend the “give me space” scenario to other times of the day until she “gets it”.


I didn’t realize that I had inadvertently put Lexi on “guard duty,” thus creating stress for her. I feel terrible that I did that to an already anxious dog. Hopefully, this old dog can learn new tricks and I can release her from her “job” with me. Making some new rules will let her know that I’ve got things covered and don’t need her help.

I never want to change the cuddly, fun part of our relationship. But if I can eliminate the stress for her, maybe we can just be a loving human and her dog BFF.


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.





Gibbs has been with us for four months now and finally, he has decided to join the family. He’s still very wary of strangers. We don’t have much company. That no doubt makes the problem more difficult. Still, he’s doing pretty well.


Gibbs will look even more handsome soon, because Wednesday is grooming day!


He (by the way) shows a gratifying willingness to sit still while I take his picture. This is something I cannot convince Bonnie to do.




We lost another of our furry kids, yesterday. We had to say goodbye to Bishop, affectionately known as “Bubba” — our big, adorable, loving Australian Shepherd. He was just short of fifteen.

It’s never easy. It doesn’t get easier, no matter how many times we do it. We are faster to acknowledge the inevitability of the end, but that doesn’t make it less painful.

We had seen it coming for a more than a year. Bishop’s hind quarters were gone. He was riddled with arthritis up and down his spine. We had him on the highest doses of pain-killer he could tolerate. Watching him move stiffly around trying to navigate the six steps to the front landing and the doggy door was painful to see. We aging humans have our own arthritis to deal with. It’s one of the many perils of aging, so we empathized with Bishop, wincing as he laboriously got up from his bed and finally, to his feet. Still, the big guy didn’t moan or whine. He always had the sweetest smile, even when the pain was obvious.


Taken just a few days ago, this was the last picture of Bishop.

He still loved to romp and run around the front yard with our two Scotties, Bonnie and Gibbs, though he almost never barked anymore. He was their pal and protector. He was their Bubba. Once in a while, he forgot he was old.

The inevitable manifested itself in several ways. Bishop used to almost inhale his food and he swallowed his treats whole, immediately asking for more. Lately, Bishop seemed less interested in food and ate slower and slower. Treats didn’t seem like a big deal to him. During the past week, we found a few pools of vomit around the house and outside. We thought maybe Bishop had eaten some of those gypsy moth caterpillars that have plagued us. But Bonnie and Gibbs seemed okay and they routinely scour the front yard for goodies.

It got dramatically worse over the last two days. I had to coddle Bishop to eat his food and he couldn’t finish it.


Yesterday morning, we found large pools of strange colored vomit all around the house and outside. Bishop was slowly moving as we cleaned up and assured him it wasn’t his fault. He had a look on his face that made us feel guilty. As soon as we had everything cleaned up, Bishop was sick again.

The big guy was drinking lots of water and minutes later it turned into the sickly, yellow-green masses on the floor. Bishop couldn’t hold anything in.

We had a quick family consult. Marilyn called the vet, then cancelled our other appointments. During the phone conversation with the vet, we looked at Bishop and the mess on the floor. Not going to wait.

Bonnie tried to block our way out the door. She has never done that before, but she was trying with every ounce of her little body to keep us from leaving with Bishop. How do they know? Gibbs began to howl and bark.


The 25 minutes drive to the vet seemed forever and I not so silently cursed the plodding traffic and stupid drivers. Bishop didn’t make a sound in the rear seat. No whining. Not even panting. Nothing.

It was an endless wait at the vet’s office until we were called in. Finally, it was Bishop’s turn.

Lots of questions. The Vet had a sad smile on her face. She said it was probably some kind of tumor because of his age, his breed, and the symptoms. Marilyn struggled with her answers, keeping it together. Bishop looked at us with that sweet smile.


Finally, came the moment I dreaded. I stumbled, mumbled — stupidly asking, as if I didn’t already know — if this meant we were not taking Bishop home. The vet looked at Marilyn and me. I looked at Bishop.

Marilyn signed the paperwork while I sat on the floor and played with Bishop, face-to-face with nose-to-nose exchanges of affection.


We declined to stay with Bishop when they put him to sleep. Been there and done that too many times. Could not bear to do it again. It’s heart wrenching, especially with a dog as sweet as Bishop. We also declined to keep his ashes. We already have quite a collection.

The vet finally led Bishop slowly away. I couldn’t look back as we left the examination room. It was the longest drive home. Marilyn and I kept reassuring each other we had done the right thing.

dogs with bishop and gar

We’d wanted to give our Bubba this final summer. A few more weeks to play with Bonnie and Gibbs. A few more pictures photo bombed by Bubba who never met a camera he didn’t like. We knew, without saying, he’d never make it through a winter but we hoped he might have this last summer and autumn. It was not to be.

In the end, it’s not about us or how we feel. It’s your dog who lets you know when. And for Bubba, “when” was yesterday.

Bubba understood. He was a very good boy.