SLEEPING IN. OR NOT.

It’s raining. Not heavily. Not enough to make up for all the dry months this spring and summer.

It’s exactly enough to make the dogs unhappy. Our dogs — Gibbs and Bonnie — and for that matter, almost all the dogs who have gone before them (with a few notable exceptions) do not, did not, like rain. More accurately, going outside when it’s raining.

To sleep perchance to dream

I don’t understand their aversion to rain, especially in view of their fondness for pretty much anything else the weather can throw at us. They like dirt, they like digging in mud. Gibbs thinks paddling in his water bowl is an Olympic sport. Yet, irrational or not, they don’t like rain.

Snow? Not a problem. It can be blowing a full blizzard and they’ll go out to play.

Rain? No way, mom. We are not going out there. Yuck.

72-Rain-080616_07

Why? You’d have to ask them. What it means to me, is unless I get up and tell them to go out, then make them stay out long enough to “do something,” they will leave me pools and piles right in front of the doggy door. They get there, stick their little heads out, realize it’s raining and that’s as far as they go, unless I exert my authority. They’re sure that wet stuff falling from the sky is my fault and I should make it stop. Since it always stops … eventually … I guess it proves them right.

I was up at 5. I was up at 6:30. At 8. At 9, the phone began to ring. I have it set to silent nights, but my phone’s programming is inflexible on the definition of “night.” Night ends at 9 in the morning. Short of turning off the ringer completely, 10PM to 9AM are the maximum number of hours for which I can prevent it from ringing. It’s got such a raucous ringtone and is so near my head when I’m in bed, there’s no ignoring it.

72-bonnie-stairs-scotties-073016_027

Between 9 in the morning and 11 when I reluctantly got up for the day, the phone rang six times. One-two-three-four-five-six. Garry has a cold, so he’s staying in bed as long as possible. It was raining. I had nothing planned. There was no reason on earth for me to get up early …

I don’t remember the details of each call, but none of them were personal or relevant. One was a bill collector for someone who hasn’t lived here for years. I would have told them to stop calling me (they call dozens of times a week), but it’s a recorded message so there’s no one to talk to. The next one, though, was someone trying to sell me an extended warranty on a car we sold a couple of year ago. She was a live human person, so I could say “Sold it, go away. Don’t call again.” Click. (Someone else from the same company called later anyway. So much for getting them to stop calling me.)72-Phones_04

One of the subsequent calls was a recorded message assuring me I’d won a long weekend in Bermuda if only I would agree to participate in their survey. No idea what kind of survey it was, but I don’t participate in surveys. All they really want is personal information they can use to target you for further phone calls.

It was a recording, but they left a pause during which you could say “NO!!” and I did. I swear the recorded messenger was baffled why I wouldn’t want a FREE VACATION IN BERMUDA. Right. There’ll be a real free vacation when pigs have wings. The recording said “You really don’t want a free vacation? You said ‘No?”

“NO” I yelled into the phone. Again. Then, I clicked off. I miss the days when you could slam the phone into the cradle. Pressing off is not nearly as satisfying.

I’m pretty sure the pace of these calls has recently picked up. There seems to be no way to dump them because most of the time, there’s nobody on the other end of the line. I am being hounded by robots.

Of course by then, I was up for the day. The phone only rang once more. The same company trying to sell me an extended warranty on a car I no longer own, and another call trying to collect money from that same former tenant.

It’s a conspiracy. It’s the only possible explanation. Unless you have a better one?

DRIZZLY DAY DAWGZ – TUESDAYS OF TEXTURE

TUESDAYS OF TEXTURE | WEEK 40 OF 2016

I just found out about this one, but I’m delighted since I always feel that texture gets too little attention in the photo world (and color gets a bit too much) And, as it happens, I took a few pictures today that are almost entirely shadow and texture, so here goes.

A sleepily low key day of drizzle for the two Scotties. Bonnie and Gibbs taking a well-earned (?) rest from guarding the family home from ... well ... everything!

A sleepily low-key day of drizzle for the two Scotties. Bonnie and Gibbs taking a well-earned (?) rest from guarding the family home from … well … everything!

72-gibbs-sleeper-09172016_08

Glad to find such an interesting photo challenge! I’ll be following you.

REMEMBERING TINKER BELLE

Can you set a price on love? Can you set a number to it? Can you calculate it by the cost of health care, toys, dog food? Grooming?

96-TinkerAtHomeHPCR-1

Tinker Belle was a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, also called PBGVs or Petites. They are a medium-sized, shaggy rabbit hound from the Vendée region of France, but have become over the past 20 years, quite popular as pets, though they are definitely not a dog for just anyone. They are smart, funny (they will do almost anything to make you laugh), noisy, and into everything.

Tinker Belle was special. From the day I brought her home from the airport (she had just flown up from her breeder’s home in North Carolina), she wasn’t like any other puppy I’d ever met. She was incredibly smart. As a rule, hounds are intelligent, but she was something else. Housebreaking? We showed her the doggy door. She was henceforth housebroken. She could open any door, any gate and close them behind her. She would open jars of peanut butter without leaving a fang mark to note her passing. All you’d find was a perfectly clean empty jar that had previously been an unopened, brand new jar.

75-TinkerInSnowHPCR-1

She was deeply sensitive. Probably born to be a therapy dog, she knew who was in pain, she knew who was sick. She knew where you hurt. She was the only dog who would never step on a healing incision, but would cuddle close to you, look at you with her dark, soft eyes and tell you everything would be fine. She never hurt a living thing, not human or anything else … except for small varmints she hunted in the yard. She was, after all, a hound and a hunter at that, born to track, point and if necessary, kill prey.

Tinker at 9 months

Tinker at 9 months

She was the smartest of our five dogs, the smartest dog of my life. Not just a little bit smarter than normal. A huge amount smarter. When you looked into Tinker’s eyes, it wasn’t like looking into the eyes of a dog. She was a human in a dog suit. She knew. We called her Tinker the Thinker because she planned, she remembered. She held grudges. More on that. For all that, she was Omega (the bottom) in the pack, we thought it was mostly her own choice. She had no interest in leadership. Too much responsibility maybe? But the other dogs knew her value. When they needed her, other dogs would tap into her expertise in gate opening, package disassembly, cabinet burglary, trash can raiding and other criminal activities. Throughout her life, she housebroke each new puppy. A couple of hours with Tinker, and the job was done. It was remarkable. Almost spooky. She then mothered them until they betrayed her by growing up and playing with other dogs.

k-and-peebstight_edited

When Griffin, our big male Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen came to live with us a few months after Tinker, they became The Couple. inseparable, deeply in love. They ate together, played together, slept together, sang together. When about a year later, we briefly had a little Norwich Terrier pup and Griffin (what a dog!) abandoned Tinker to go slobbering after Sally … well … Tinker’s heart was broken.

She became depressed, would not play anymore with humans or other dogs. For the next 10 years, Tinker refused to so much as look at Griffin. Worse, she apparently blamed us, her humans for having brought another girl into the house. In retribution for our crimes, Tinker began her Reign of Terror.

Tinker took to destroying everything she could get her fangs on when she was three years old. She’d done a modest amount of puppy chewing, but nothing extraordinary. She was more thief than a chewer. She would steal your stuff and hide it. Shoes, toys (Kaity was very young), towels, stuffed animals. After Griffin betrayed her with that stupid little bitch — Sally was indeed the polar opposite of Tinker being the dumbest dog I’ve ever known and ill-tempered to boot — Tinker was no longer a playful thief. She was out to get us.

Nothing was safe. She had a particular passion for destroying expensive electronic devices. Cell phones, remote controls, portable DVD players, computers. If she could get a fang to them, she killed them. She would do more damage in under a minute than I thought possible. For Garry and I, it meant we couldn’t leave the room together unless we put everything away where Tink couldn’t get it. Tinker would strike quickly and she was lethal.

great griffin

Griffin the great

If we were going to bed for the night, every single movable item that was less than 6 feet off the ground had to be put away. If she couldn’t get to any small expensive electronic items, she ate the sofa, the rocking chair, the coffee table, a lot of books, many DVDs …. and for dessert, shoes were always yummy. For many years, I didn’t own any shoes without tooth marks.

We called such items “Tinkerized” and we had a grading system ranging from 10 – Utterly destroyed, to 1 – Only shows if you look closely. Most of my shoes fell into the 2 to 3 range and since she tended to start at the heel, I figured most folks wouldn’t notice.

75-SnacksHPCR-20

During one memorable intermission, Garry and I went to the kitchen to grab something to drink and she dismembered our remote controls. We were gone, by the clock, about a minute. The kitchen is adjacent to the sofa were we watch TV, so she managed to do this with us not 10 feet away. It cost me a couple of hundred dollars to replace them. She pulled off the backs, tore out the batteries (but never ate them), then ripped out the wiring and boards. She didn’t waste any time, either. If she had the leisure, she’d also tear out the keys and generally mangle the cases, but if time was limited, she went straight to the guts of the thing. She was good.

75-Tinkerized2HPCR-15

For 10 years, we lived under siege. If you didn’t want it Tinkerized, you couldn’t leave it exposed, not for a minute.

Yet we loved Tinker and for the last year of her life, after we brought Bonnie home, Tinker became a real dog again. With Bonnie, Tinker came back to herself and played again. She ran around the yard, played tag, joined the chorus when the other dogs pointed their muzzles at the sky and sang. Hounds have such beautiful voices and Tinker’s was the most beautiful of all. When she sang, nature sang with her. I suppose this is a matter of taste, but for those of us who love hounds, you know what I mean.

Singing is a social function for canines. When a pack sings, it isn’t an alert. It’s a chorus. They are really truly singing together. Each dog has a part, joining in, then pausing and rejoining at the right moment. Tinker was a baritone, the deepest and loudest of the canine voices and Bonnie is a coloratura soprano, very musical, but light.

Almost exactly three years ago, Tinker died of cancer. She had shown no symptoms except a slight slowing down and a slightly lessened appetite. One day, she collapsed. She was riddled with cancer. How in the world she had so effectively hidden her illness is mind-boggling. A couple of weeks later, Griffin had a massive stroke and died. They were the same age and I don’t believe for a minute the timing of their passing was coincidence. Despite Griffin’s infidelity, the two PBGVs were a couple and would not live without each other.

The house was so quiet with the two hounds gone. We didn’t have to hide everything anymore, though it took us months to realize it was safe, that I could leave my laptop out at night and no dog would bother it. After the two hounds passed, the pack did not sing for half a year. One day, mourning ended and they started to sing again. Now, they sing twice a day, early in the morning (get up Mom) and in the evening (pause that show, time for the chorus).

75-TinkerPrisonerHPCR-1

What was Tinker’s true cost? We paid $700 for her as a puppy. Who knows how much her medical care cost over? Who remembers? It’s part of the contract between dogs and us. They love us, we care for them.

Other damages? Thousands of dollars in electronic gear, furniture, shoes, books, DVDs, videotapes, dolls — who knows what else.

But she paid us back, you see. Because when I was terribly ill, Tinker never left my side. When I was back from surgery, missing another piece of me and in pain, Tinker was there, never placing a paw where it would hurt me. How does it add up? How much was the love worth? What is the cost of a lifetime laughter and love?

SATURDAY SCOTTIES

72-bonnie-texture-090416_20

What happens when you’ve got a couple of cute Scottish Terriers, lots of cameras, and the sun is shining?

In memory of biscuits past ...

In memory of biscuits past …

Photography! Pictures of (you guessed it) Scottish Terriers. Bonnie and Gibbs, on a Saturday in September. Obviously exhausted from a hard day of cadging biscuits and battling throw cushions.

Note the open eye. He does not sleep. He is watching. Thinking.

Note the open eye. He does not sleep. He is watching. Thinking.

It’s a hard life, but someone’s gotta do it.

72-gibbs-portrait-09172016_03

HOW CAN WE SAY NO?

Gibbs has definitely decided he is a full citizen of this household. With all the rights and privileges due to a self-respecting dog.

72-gibbs-groomed-072616_05

He can paddle in his water bowl to his heart’s content and those misguided humans who tried to convince him to use that “tub thing” can wipe up the pools of water. It’s their job, after all.

Gibbs believes our love-seat is really his love-seat. Even though Garry and I are the usual occupants, he has not bowed to our theoretically alpha status. The moment one of our butts leaves the seat for any reason (discounting a trip to the magical kitchen where the mystical Biscuit Containers await).

72-biscuits-090416_03

Once in my seat — or Garry’s — he develops special gravity which makes it impossible to dislodge him. A dog who normally weighs about 24 pounds suddenly weighs more like 50. It’s uncanny, as if he has taken root in the upholstery.

Garry has talked to him about this, to no avail.

72-bw-conversation-gibbs-garry-090316_08

He’s also getting a lot of tips from Bonnie. About rolling on his back and playing peek-a-boo with his paws. About how to look utterly pathetic and get more treats. Humans are pushovers for the whole sad-eyed thing.

72-bonnie-090416_18

Who could resist those faces … every night as they watch you, pleading for just a little something to tide them over through the long, hungry hours of darkness.

72-scotties-073016_034

SPEAKING DOGGISH

The other day, the NBC Nightly News had a piece during which they announced that scientists have officially proven what we all knew. Dogs understand what we say to them. They understand words, tone of voice, and context. Just like teenagers. When they ignore what we tell them, it isn’t because they don’t understand. They understand just fine. They are — like teenagers — disrespecting us.

I have always believed they understand and choose to ignore us — unless they feel there’s something in it for them.

72-entry-hall-071916_02

“Bonnie,” calls Garry. “Go out.” She stops halfway down the stairs and stares at him.

“All the way out.” She goes down one more step. Turns around. Stares.

“Gibbs,” he says. “You too. Move. GO. I told you to GO.” Both Scotties, in motion so slow you wouldn’t believe they had that much fine muscle control, descend the stairs. One at a time.

Thump. Thump. Thump. THUMP. Thumpitty. Thump.

There are only six steps, but it takes them several minutes to navigate their way to the ground floor landing. They stand in front of the doggie door. They look up.

“Go OUT,” Garry says. He does this every night. It’s a mind game. “No, not at the same time. One at a time.” They are like little furry clowns, trying to get through the door simultaneously and getting stuck. No one could tell me they don’t know how funny they look.

72-Gibbs-Sketch-SCOTTIES-080316_07

Gibbs

Then the game goes into reverse. In the summertime, it goes into reverse. In dry weather. If it’s raining or blizzarding, all bets are off. In bad weather, getting them out is a problem. Getting them in is not.

The last trip outside in the evening is the one before we clean Bonnie’s eyes and administer eye drops. No idea what the problem is, but she’s allergic to something. We are going to be giving her eye drops for the rest of her life. She knows. We know she knows. Gibbs knows because after the eye drops come the treats.

Usually Bonnie and Gibbs finally come inside, but won’t come up the stairs. They stay at the bottom, looking up. Until Garry stands at the top and says “Come upstairs.” Pause. “Now, please.” Garry is very polite and always says “please” and “thank you” to the dogs.

They continue to stare at him. “NOW,” he says, but they don’t give him any respect. Finally, Garry goes down and shoos them upstairs. Bonnie jumps onto the loveseat. I clean the gunk out of her eyes. Put eye drops in. Gibbs watches. Everyone adjourns to the kitchen for a biscuit.

72-bonnie-gibbs-stairs-072716_29

Last night, the dogs decided to up the stakes. Instead of coming in and standing at the bottom of the stairs, they stayed on the front step, directly outside in front of the doggie flap. Garry had to open the door and say “Please. Come in.” Then, Bonnie came in. Gibbs won’t come past someone standing at the door, so you have to close the door so he can come in through the flap.

Don’t ask. It’s a dog thing.

We have other similar conversations.

72-Bonnie-SCOTTIES-080316_17

Bonnie

Me: “Gibbs, do NOT dig on the sofa.” Gibbs pauses. Looks at me, haunted brown eyes full of tenderness and affection. Then, he starts to dig some more.

72-gibbs-031616_16

Gibbs

“Gibbs, I said stop.” He gets down from the sofa and comes over to the loveseat and jumps up, making sure to try to knock my laptop to the floor in the process. He is trying to kill my computer and I fear one day I will lose focus and he will succeed. But not yet.

I give him a thorough scratching about the ears.

He knows. He knows I know. We all know. We are, as they say, a very knowing family.

Now, the scientific community also knows. Because I saw it on network news, and everyone knows if it’s on television, it is 100% true.

Give or take a lie or two.