MEMORIAL HALLWAYS

Every night, I fill up my cup, grab my bag o’ medications, pet the puppies, and hike the hallway to the bedroom at the other end of the house.

After arriving, I put the bag where it belongs. Adjust the bed to its TV viewing angle. Turn on the television for Garry. He watches with headphones while I read or listen to an audiobook. I fire up my blue-tooth speaker. I put my medications into a cup which is actually the lid from a medicine bottle. Convenient and keeps little round pills from rolling off the table.

I never remember everything. Typically, I forget to turn off the fans in the living room. I sit on the edge of the bed trying to remember what I should have done but didn’t.

“Ah,” I think. “Fans.” I go back to the living room. Turn off the fans. Pet the dogs. Assure them they are not getting another biscuit no matter how cute they are.

Back down the hall. Brush teeth. Sit on the edge of the bed. Oh, right. Need to refill antihistamine bottle. It’s empty. Back to the kitchen where the big bottle is stored. Fending off the dogs, I amble back to the bedroom. And get the nagging feeling I’ve forgotten something else.

Ah, that’s right. I didn’t close the kitchen door. It’s a dutch door and we leave the top open during the day to catch the breeze. Tonight, it’s supposed to rain so I should close it. Up the hall to the kitchen. Close door. Pet dogs. Back to bedroom. Garry shows up, having done whatever it is he does for however long he does it in the bathroom. He settles into watching highlights of the Sox game, followed by a movie or three. I turn on my audiobook.

Forty-five minutes later, I’ve got a headache. I’m not sleepy. Everything hurts. Why are my medications not working? There’s nothing more I can take. Panic sets in.

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Which is when I realize all the pills are in the cup. What with all the walking up and down the hallway, I never quite got around to taking them. Which probably explains why they aren’t working.

I laugh. Continue laughing. Garry takes off his headphones long enough for me to explain why. I got to the punchline, he looks at me and says: “You hadn’t taken them?” He smiled. Nodded. Put the headphones back.

As our memory — collectively and individually — gets less dependable, we have substituted routines and calendars. If we do everything the same way at the same time every day, we’re less likely to forget. Or not remember if we did it today, or yesterday.

The other evening, we were watching a show that included a dog. Garry assumes I know every dog breed at a glance. He’s right, usually. I know the breeds, but these days, I may not remember its name. I will usually remember the group — guarding, herding, hunting, hound, terrier, non-sporting (“other”), toy. If I remember that, I can go to the AKC site, find the group, scroll the list and find the dog. But they’ve changed the AKC website, so it’s not as easy as it used to be. I wish they’d stop fixing stuff that isn’t broken.

I knew the dog that Garry was asking about was the same as the dog Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) had on his show. The dog’s name was Eddy. I remembered that. No problem. The breed name was on the edge of my brain, but not coming into focus. I gave up and Googled it.

Search for: “Breed of dog on Frasier TV show.”

Except I couldn’t remember the name of the TV show, either. So I first had to find the name of the show.

Search for: “long-running comedy on TV about psychiatrist.”

Up popped Frasier. Phew. I could have also found it by looking up that other long-running comedy, “Cheers,” in which Frasier first appeared, but I couldn’t remember its name, either. One of these days, I’m going to have to Google my own name. I hope I find it.

GIBBS’ EARS

One of the side effects of a day at the spa was the discovery that Gibbs ears are not looking good. Bring on the blue stuff! If you don’t know what blue stuff is, allow me to introduce you to the world’s best cure for whatever is bothering the dogs’ ears (other than mites).


BLUE POWER EAR TREATMENT

16 oz. Isopropyl Alcohol (or 16 oz. Witch Hazel if ears are very inflamed or sore)
4 Tablespoons Boric Acid Powder
16 Drops Gentian Violet Solution 1%
Mix together in plastic bottle and shake well.

You will need to shake the solution every time you use it. Purchase a “Clairol” type plastic bottle to dispense solution to affected ears. These bottles can be found at beauty supply shops.

I make half this amount, then I warm it to body temperature in the microwave.

NOTE: If you don’t own one, buy a dropper. The gentian violet does not come with its own.


TREATMENT

If you aren’t absolutely sure what you are dealing with, a trip to the vet is your best start.

Warm the solution and shake the bottle each time before using. Flood the ear with solution (gently squirt bottle). Massage gently to the count of 60, wipe with a tissue. On first treatment, flood the ear twice, wipe with a tissue, and leave alone without massage.

The dog will shake out the excess, which can be wiped with a tissue.

NOTE: Gentian Violet STAINS fabric and FUR! Be careful. The stains are impossible to remove.


Many people ask why this miracle preparation isn’t commercially available. The answer is, it is available. You can buy it on Amazon for $20 per 8 ounce bottle. Or buy the ingredients from your pharmacy, which is a lot cheaper. You used to be able to buy gentian violet in the pharmacy any time. These days, you have to order it and it cost more than it used to. It’s still much less expensive than buying the solution in a bottle. I’m betting you can also get it from your veterinarian. Vets have come a long way in dealing with using non-antibiotic ingredients.

Gibbs

For a long time, it wasn’t available anywhere unless you made it yourself. That never made sense to me. I had hounds with long, floppy ears. Infected ears are extremely common in long-eared dogs. We were back and forth to the vet over and over until someone in my hound group introduced us to the blue stuff.

It worked.

It still works.

Gibbs is a most unhappy dog. It’s not that this stuff hurts. It doesn’t. It’s just the Gibbs has strong feelings about being treated. For anything. Ever. For a relatively small dog, he is surprisingly strong and it is a serious job to hold him still. As far as he is concerned, treating his ears is an insult. He isn’t even speaking to us until he is sure a treat is in the works. He softens in the face of treats — what a surprise.

Gibbs’ thinking about forgiving us. Until tomorrow.

How do you explain medical treatment to a dog? Or any animal? Or for that matter, a baby? I always tell them this is for their own good. Infected ears are definitely worse than any amount of blue stuff, but they don’t listen. Gibbs is seriously upset with us. The worst part of this is we are going to have to do it again tomorrow.

I hope he is still talking to us when his ears are cured.

CLEAN DOGS

Exhausted from a day at the doggy spa, the weary pooches sack out.

That’s right! It’s the quarterly cleaning up of the grubby Scotties. For a few glorious days, they are silky, soft, and they smell good. Probably less this time because it has been raining all day today and it’s supposed to pour throughout the weekend. It seems a bit unfair that we can’t have at least one long weekend of clean dogs, but the weather just is.

After all the years of drought, this is great for the aquifer. It just makes for a pretty dreary spring.

DOGS, THEIR TOYS AND THEIR HUMANS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Dog toys are an important part of our household. We have to have the right kinds for our two dogs and the right number for optimum sharing.

That has become a problem since we got an eight month old rescue dog, Remy, five months ago. She joined our seven-year old dog, Lexi.

Lexi is very gentle with dog toys, so they tend to last a long time. She still has ‘Blue Dog’, the stuffed animal we bought the day we brought her home with us seven years ago. (Actually, the current “Blue Dog’ is the second of two identical dogs we bought for Lexi.

Every morning, Lexi used to religiously bring Blue Dog down from the bedroom to the kitchen/family room. Every night, she would also carry him back upstairs when we went up to bed. We loved this ritual. But she can’t do it anymore. Remy got hold of one of the Blue Dogs, which I had lovingly sewn back together and patched up many, many times. It was missing it’s tail, ears and three of its legs.

After Remy was through with it, the remains had to be thrown in the garbage. We had to take the other Blue dog away from Lexi to protect him from a similar fate. Lexi has adjusted. We are still broken-hearted.

Remy is an eviscerater. She takes any fabric toy, tears it open, pulls out the stuffing, then shreds it. The floor looks like a bomb went off in a cotton ball factory. She has been known to turn stuffed toys inside out in the process. She is the Terminator of Stuffed Toys. And she does this in record time – hours, not days. So poor Lexi can’t have her plush toys anymore. We buy her the flat ones that look like stuffed animals but have no stuffing. They don’t last very long either, but it’s better than nothing.

My husband Tom has also had to change some of his habits since Remy joined our family. Lexi intuitively knew what was a dog toy and what was not. She never, ever chewed anything that wasn’t made for dogs. What she did do was ‘clean up’ after Tom. When Tom left his socks on the floor in the bedroom, Lexi would bring them down to the family room. She never chewed them. She just removed them from the bedroom. I think she was reminding Tom that he had forgotten to put his socks in the hamper.

Lexi with toys and sock in her mouth

Unfortunately, Remy does not have Lexi’s dog toy “radar.” To Remy, anything on the floor is fair game. So Tom’s socks don’t make it to the family room. When they land on the bedroom floor, they get scooped up by Remy and shredded. Not only does Tom now have to put his socks in the hamper every day, he has to bury them in amongst the dirty clothes. Otherwise, Remy will walk into the closet and pick the socks off the top of the clothes pile.

She has apparently developed a taste for socks. Tom’s socks.

So I’m buying a lot more dog toys and men’s socks these days. Maybe Remy will outgrow some of her super aggressive chewing as she gets older. But by then, I’ll have gotten used to shopping for extra toys and socks so I probably won’t even care anymore. Remy is worth the extra effort. And watching Remy and Lexi wrestle and chase each other outside makes all the carnage is worthwhile.

 

BLANKETS

We live in New England. It gets cold. Not West Coast cold. We get the real deal, including bitter days with the temperature below zero and piles of ice and snow through which only a snow plow (maybe) can pass.

We do have a heating system and good insulation, but we are always just a little bit cold, especially in the spring and fall when I’m not ready to start (or restart) the heat.

We love our blankets.

There are blankets in the guest room

We have a big comforter in our bedroom

But the biggest, most determined blanket maven in the house is Bonnie. The crate in the corner is her house and in it are her blankets. Many blankets. Periodically, we pull all the blankets out and run them through the laundry. Garry lovingly folds them and puts them neatly in Bonnie’s house.

Bonnie gives him That Look. After which she goes in her crate. Pulls the pile apart, drags each blanket out of the crate, then drags them back in. She then rearranges them until they form that perfect pile in which she will be completely at her ease. She also drags everything else in there, too. Biscuits, toys, pieces of old cardboard boxes and anything else she has found and decided to save.

She is very particular about the arrangement of her blankets. We may not be able to see the careful organization, but she knows. Don’t go messing with her blankets. She will have to start all over again, pulling them out, dragging them back in. It’s a busy life for a small, black Scottish Terrier.

GIBBS – A DOG WHO LIKES PHOTOGRAPHY

In my world, most of my dogs haven’t liked being photographed. Bonnie always finds the darkest place in any room. Black dog, lots of shadows. It doesn’t make much of a picture.

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I have thousands of pictures of Bonnie, but unless Garry is holding her, she’s asleep. Because that’s the only time I can get a shot of her.

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Gibbs is another story. He begs to be photographed. He’s so godawful cute. Moreover, there’s something so sad about his face. He always looks as if the next thing that happens is going to be terrible. He has had a difficult life, but nothing terrible has happened to him for an entire year. I’m counting on him to cheer up.

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Actually, that’s not true. He has two modes. FOOD!!! And sadness.

WHERE OH WHERE HAS MY LITTLE DOG GONE? WHAT HAPPENED TO WESTMINSTER?

Of course, it’s all about money. It’s always about money. The bottom line. The best offer. Fans? Audience? Who cares? Not the Westminster Kennel Club. Moving from the relative convenience and general availability of USA to FS-1 and a secondary National Geographics outlet (and streaming outlets we don’t have), many (maybe most) people won’t be able to see the show.


NOTE: The Agility Masters finals were Sunday night. Tonight is the second and final night of the show, including Best In Show. Fox is doing a pathetic job of it, but Fox does sports poorly. The dogs are great, even if (other than one woman who actually knows what she’s talking about) the reporters and commentator (male) are bad. Fox has a long contract withe Westminster Kennel Club, so if you’re stuck with Fox for the duration. If you love the dogs, try to get past the awful production.

Over the past couple of decades, Westminster and dog show viewership in general has been climbing. No longer just for people who own or show purebred dogs, the show has given millions of dog fanciers the opportunity to see how the various breeds should look, and learn a little about them. Gain some appreciation for their elegance, beauty, history, and the jobs they did in the past and do in the present.

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Other than the toy group, most dogs were bred to perform real tasks and many still do, although they may do different things than they did in past centuries.

Terriers hunt. Mostly vermin like rats and mice, but also badgers and other larger critters that were considered pests to farmers. They don’t do much of that anymore, although give your Cairn a shot at a mouse or two and you might be surprised at what efficient hunters they really are. Unlike cats, terriers absolute revel in killing vermin. They don’t eat it. They just love the hunting and killing.

Gibbs

Gibbs

Our first terrier, a little Norwich Terrier Champion named Divot, was a mighty huntress and while she was young enough, no mouse survived in our house. She’d kill them in a nanosecond and pile them like cord wood at my feet. Someone told me she did that because she felt I had insufficient hunting skills and needed to supply me with meat for the lean days. Personally, I think she was just letting me know how good she was.

She would also, when opportunity hopped, hunt frogs. She didn’t care for water, but she developed a real taste for frog and would brave the wet to catch and eat two or three wriggling frogs plucked from the shallows of a pond. There’s no accounting for taste.

Bishop, the Australian Shepherd

Bishop, the Australian Shepherd

Most of our “protector” dogs were originally herders. Sheep, mostly, but some cattle, too. Little dogs were and are used to herd cattle by nipping at their heels. The bigger herding breeds like collies, German and Belgian shepherds and many other similar breeds, are sheep herders. They are now used for many other things, like protecting their human flocks, and for the police and military. The big guarding breeds — Dobermans, , mastiffs and other mastiff breeds, including the much maligned pit bull varieties — were bred to guard. And guard they will, even without special training. It’s in their DNA.

Other breeds, like labs and Golden Retrievers, spaniels, pointers, and setters, were gun dogs and hunting companions. They retrieve that which the hunter shoots, or tell the hunter where (and what) to shoot … although these days, mostly, they hang out in front of the fire being among the most pettable and friendly of canines.

Griffin, the PBGV

Griffin, the PBGV — French scent hound specializing in peanut butter sandwiches — or rabbits.

Hounds are the nosiest dogs. Some, like bloodhounds, can follow even the faintest scent. Hounds are single-minded and shockingly smart. Some are sight hounds. Greyhounds and wolfhounds see their prey (they are far-sighted) and run it down. Others smaller hounds often live in packs — beagles, coonhounds, foxhounds, harriers.

Many are happy working alone. Some hounds will trail anything while others specialize in rabbits or vermin or whatever else they are trained to track. The thing they have in common is the instinct to chase or trail — or both. Even if it turns out they are tracking down your trash (they can always find it, trust me). They also do not object to a comfy sofa and anything you are willing to let them eat. Anything. At. All.

Toys dogs, were born for love. They adore people and want to be with them. While they may also retain guarding, herding, or hunting instincts, they are very good at one thing: loving you. You want love? They have love in abundance and are compact and seriously cute.

All of this is because I love watching the dog show. We aren’t looking to buy a dog or even adopt another one. The two Scottish Terriers — Bonnie and Gibbs — are plenty of dog for us. But I love watching these gorgeous dogs in perfect condition strut their stuff.

Bonnie the Brave

Bonnie the Brave

For all who believe show dogs are cruelly forced into the ring, you’re wrong.

A dog that doesn’t love being shown won’t be a good show dog. Great show dogs love the applause. They love attention. They are not shy. Divot had attitude. She knew she was The Best. She would tell you: “Just follow my lead and don’t get in my way.” She’d flirt with judges and strut her stuff … and win. Then she’d go home. hunt for mice and take a nice long nap on the sofa. One thing doesn’t exclude the other.

Westminster is the only major dog show in the U.S. that gets real TV coverage. By moving it to obscure cable channels not available to many people, they’ve effectively excluded a big chunk of their existing audience, and eliminated potential new viewers. Sounds self-defeating to me.

This was my Superbowl. How could they do this to me? To us? Unfair! Your honor, I object!