What can I say about loyalty except …


Loyal. Honest, usually. Faithful, for the most part. Ours … absolutely!


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).


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.


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.


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.


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!




Scotties are tough little dogs. Fighters to the end.

Bonnie tests every limit. Unless there’s food forthcoming. In which case, she sets aside her principles in favor of a Greeny, or one of those tasteless crunchy things dogs inexplicably love. Otherwise, she will wait until she thinks you might be getting mad before she does as you ask.


Gibbs acts exactly the same way. It must be DNA.

Let’s say (purely hypothetically) we have told them to go outside. Bishop will hesitate at the top of the stairs because he is a bit scared of stairs. He has trouble controlling his trajectory and needs a few moments to reconnoiter the lay of the land.


Bonnie and now Gibbs, go slowly down the stairs. Get to the bottom landing. Stop. Look back up at us: “Do you really expect dogs, like us to simply do your bidding? What if we don’t want to go out? Huh?”

Garry puts a warning note in his voice. “Bonnie,” he says, with as much Alpha authority as he can muster. “OUT!”

She moves to the doggy door. Puts a paw on it so the flap is partly open. Looks back up at Garry.

“Bonnie, I told you to go out.” (Repeat two to three times.) After which, with utmost reluctance, she exits through the flap and into the yard.

Gibbs does the same thing, but being a longer dog, he snakes his way out the door even slower. In summer, this will guarantee a constant fresh supply of mosquitoes.

72-Bonnie & Gibbs-031617_12

Scotties rebel against authority. It’s their way. You have to like a dog that will go head-to-head with you about every little thing, else a Scottish Terrier is not your kind of dog. All terriers are like this to some extent, but for sheer tough-mindedness, Scotties are at the head of the class.

If you are interested in learning more about the Scottish (and Irish) Terrier, you might find this link to Scottish and Irish Terriers by William Haynes a fun read. These great little dogs have remained much the same through the years. Bonnie is typical of old-fashioned Scotties, while Gibbs is designed along modern lines. Yet, looking at them, you could never mistake them for different breeds. Their personalities — despite almost opposite life experiences — are very similar.

Our dogs make us laugh. Everyday, no matter how miserable or frustrated we get with life problems, they bring us joy.


People keep asking us why we got another dog. Don’t we want our “freedom?”

Freedom from dogs is more like loneliness.

What, exactly, would we do with that “freedom”? We don’t travel more than we must.  Given the nightmare of airports, if we can’t get there by car, we aren’t going. Even very long drives are not much fun these days. The roads are falling apart, as are the bridges. Everywhere on the east coast, traffic is nightmarish. The interstate highway system was built during the Eisenhower era. Each year, the roads need more repair and updating … while less and less money is allocated for the purpose. Trains are worse.

Unless the transporter gets real, I doubt we’re going far from home. Hanging at home with our dogs seems a much better choice.


It was love at first sight. At least from our end.

McDuff has become Gibbs, after you-know-who. McDuff didn’t know his name anyway, so it seemed like not a bad idea to rename him. And somehow, we both thought he was a Gibbs and came to the same name independently. Great minds think alike and all that.


He likes the other dogs. He tried to steal Garry’s sandwich from his hand. After all the dogs ate, Gibbs checked all the bowls in case someone had missed a piece. He barks at each passing car. His bark is deeper than Bishop’s.


He is not housebroken, so I’ve work to do with him. But I knew that before we brought him home. He’s not a tiny pup, so it shouldn’t take too long, especially with other dogs around to show him the way.

No one knows his exact history, what road he took to wind up at a breeder’s auction. I think he might have been someone’s pet … maybe early in his life. He seems to know about stairs. And furniture. He’s familiar with food dishes, water bowls — and wasn’t afraid to try and steal Garry’s sandwich.

He’s not fearful of hands or noise. I don’t think he was physically mistreated. Tentative about entering a room and a bit confused and disoriented, but happy to be with other dogs. Happy to be outside, too. Ready to play.

Gibbs has come home.


Since 2011, we have loved six dogs. Two PGBVs, Griffin and Tinker, both with us from puppyhood, died in 2012 within 6 weeks of each other. Nan, who came as a 10-year-old in need of a home, passed a few months ago. Amber — also with us from when she was tiny — went just a few weeks ago.

Remaining are Bonnie, in her prime at 8 years old, and Bishop who, despite struggling with back and hip problems, is still hanging in there.

Garry and I have both been feeling an insufficiency of dogs. We felt this was a good time to bring a new furry friend home.

I wanted a terrier, preferably, another Scottie. Puppies are always available, somewhere, if you have the money. And you want a puppy. A bigger problem than money was that I didn’t want a puppy. I love puppies. Who doesn’t?

But. I’m not fast on my feet these days. I can’t go chasing after a speeding pup. I’m not racing anyone or anything up or down the stairs. Finding a dog seemed the impossible dream … until …


There was McDuff, looking at me from my inbox. Oh that face. Oh those eyes. I was (of course) in love.

Months ago, I’d put in an application with various terrier rescue groups. This was from the Westie group … but it was not a Westie. It was McDuff, the very picture of a Scottish Terrier.

A lot of rapid back and forth emails followed. I said ‘YES YES We want him!!!” and there were references and vet checks and more emails … and then, on my birthday, she called and said “He’s yours!”

We going to get him today! It’s McDuff’s day.


Photography by Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

It takes a village to raise a child. It take two photographers and a lot of coaxing to photograph a Scottish Terrier.


You could say that Garry and I teamed up … but I think if you were Bonnie, you’d say we ganged up. On her.


Forced her to sit still. Coerced her into letting us see her eyes. How undignified!


Although more than half the shots were blurry, we got a few we like. Presenting Bonnie. With and without her favorite person.