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.


The other day, my son came over and stripped the kitchen floor of who-knows-how-many layers of old wax and dirt to expose a reasonably attractive pale lemony linoleum. He then added three new layers of fresh, clear wax so that it gleams in the light.


The dogs, taking this as a challenge, have been doing everything within their power — which is more considerable than you might imagine — to undo all that work.

Thrilled as I was to finally see a clean, shiny floor in the kitchen, I invested in a big “tray” to put under their water trough. They drool. All dogs drool. Our dogs don’t have jowls, so they ought to be minimal droolers.


But. Since I acquired this protective tray, they have upped their game. They now spread at least twice as much liquid all over the kitchen as before. We now have to wash out the tray and clean the floor under it. Wipe up all the flooding.,

Garry says they’re messing with us. Hard for me to disagree … but why?

These are spoiled dogs. These are dogs that live from handout to handout, sleep wherever and whenever they like. They come and go as they choose through their own door. Fresh water is constantly on hand and we fill that huge pot a dozen times a day. They get top quality food and treats and as much love as they are willing to put up with.


Right now, they are resting from their labors.

What labors?

The drooling, the barking, the begging for something more?

Perhaps they liked the old layers of dirt. Maybe the dirt was like old scrap books. Odors of food long consumed, other dogs passed on — conveniently embedded in the grunge on the floor. I’d ask them, but I don’t want to disturb their naps.



Should I talk about the dogs? They are our companions day in, day out. Better friends than most friends, and always right there for us. Or do I talk about Garry, who is my husband, my best friend, the only person who will always put up with me. The proof of this is that he has not yet thrown me from a window or pushed me out of the moving car.


I got up this morning after a long near-nightmare in which we were buying a house. But the house didn’t have a proper bathroom and there were cockroaches seething in what had been a tub which had, somehow, moved into the living room. The living room was big, but completely covered with mirrors– like a dance studio. We had bought it, but I wanted desperately be get rid of it. We’d signed papers, so it wasn’t simple.

I shook off the dream, waking up cranky and headachy. Outside, all I could see are naked oak trees, the leaves having been consumed by our plague of Gypsy Moth caterpillars. I wonder if leaves will grow back. I’m told they will, but it doesn’t look like it right now. It’s a winter view of a summer woods.

“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again! … With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early west! ”

Come back, and leave me a silver bullet!

Garry wasn’t up yet, but the dogs were glad to see me. Talk about faithful companions. They were thrilled, jumping up and down with delight. Even though we repeat this same pattern every morning of their lives, minus the few days here and there when we are away from home, they never get tired of it and I never tire of them. I gave them each a greenie. Washed the water bowls. Refilled them. Noticed that somehow, there was peanut butter on the cabinet doors … and washed them, too.


Coffee was brewing. I toasted a muffin, observing that there are no more muffins after this. We will have to go shopping. Thus when Garry showed up in the kitchen, I nearly snarled at him. Because I was snarly and he was there.

He didn’t say anything. He looked puzzled, but moved on.

Now that is a truly faithful companion. Even when you have no idea what’s going on, you just let it go because a snarly start does not define the relationship. Personally, I think it’s all about the coffee.




What is the most fun thing you did in school?

Art. I still get nostalgic over the smell of library paste and poster paint that came in huge bottles. I probably can still be tempted by big bottles of paint and huge sheets of oak tag (remember oak tag?).

We only had a few colors. Primaries: red, yellow, blue, green, and maybe with luck, some white. That’s where I learned to mix colors. They were exactly subtle colors, but that’s what I could produce.

What is your favorite type of dog?  (can be anything from a specific breed, a stuffed animal or character in a movie)

I love terriers. They are the naughty kids of the dog world. That being said, I’m also terribly fond of hounds, the hunting breeds, and the big shaggy shepherds. Mostly, I like dogs and I’m not terribly picky, though I don’t want to own anything really tiny. They look too fragile for me.

You are invited to a party that will be attended by many fascinating people you never met.  Would you attend this party if you were to go by yourself?

When I was younger, probably yes. Today, I might not go even if I had a partner who wanted to attend. I don’t really enjoy parties much. I never did except for once in a while when it was entirely composed of people I knew and really liked. I really enjoyed our wedding. It was full of people we really wanted to be there. That’s the advantage of making your own wedding. You don’t have a room full of somebody else’s business associates!

Complete this sentence:  Never In My Life Have I…. 

Gone bungee jumping. And I never wanted to, either.