BONNIE IS HOME FROM THE SALON – Marilyn Armstrong

I know the dogs are a total mess when I stop taking pictures of them. The Duke tends to look good most of the time, but both Scottish terriers get seriously grubby. They love dirt. They long for filth.

Garry and Bonnie

Terriers — dogs of the earth — love to dig. They love to roll in the dirt they dug and the hole they made. Our front yard — any part of it that isn’t entirely rocky — looks like a missile testing site.

Classic beard!

They race outside and bury their faces in the mud. We brought Bonnie home from “The Bark Ark” where they trimmed her down to something dog-shaped (she needs to lose a few pounds), put a Christmas style bandanna on her and home we came.

I said: “We should take her picture right away — before she’s dirty again.”

Bonnie with Garry

Garry agreed and went directly to the back deck — from which every last bird departed as we arrived. You’d think they’d figure out by now we aren’t planning to eat them for dinner. Never mind.

I had to go inside and get The Good Camera. By the time  (a minute later) I was back on the deck, Bonnie was rolling her face around on the deck and had managed to add a few sticks, twigs, and dead leaves to her beautiful trim.

Sketch portrait of a beautifully groomed Bonnie

I dusted her off, told Garry to please hold her so I could take pictures. She’s short even by my standards. When she’s on the deck, the only way to get her picture would be for me to lie flat and hope she cooperates. That didn’t seem likely. Anyway, getting up from lying flat on the deck didn’t seem like my best idea of the day.

More handsome Bonnie. They actually groomed her like a Scottish Terrier. No puffs on her tail!

Now I have pictures. For Bonnie, this is as good as it gets. And I think we’ve found a new groomer. The price is the same, but they are miles closer to us and don’t have quite the same attitude that they are doing us a favor by grooming the dogs. They are groomers. They are supposed to groom dogs.

Of course, they haven’t met Gibbs or The Duke yet.


A note on local groomers:

Most of them don’t seem to have any idea what a pure-bred dog should look like when groomed. Let’s assume that half the dogs they groom are pure-bred, but aren’t going to be shown (because people who are showing dogs do their own grooming).

It’s hard to show how dark she really is. This is pretty close.

You would think that the groomers would buy a book about dogs and look at the pictures, thereby getting an idea of what this particular dog should look like, wouldn’t you? Even if they aren’t going into a show ring, every breed has some kind of standard.

I’ve gotten my dogs back with puffy tails. With eyebrows and beards shaved off. With tufted ears.

Good grief! A Scottish Terrier with tufted ears and a puffy tail is a travesty.

Two!

These people actually knew what I meant when I said: “Face Scotty, shave everything else down because all that long  hair does is collect more dirt.” They knew exactly what to do … AND because I explained that Bonnie’s eyes are bad and need constant treatment, they trimmed her eyebrows so that they look “Scotty,” but are leaving enough of her face clear so it will be easy to treat her. I appreciate that.

This is the “show ring” version. Most of us skip all the skirts because it’s just more dirt.

Sometimes, when she’s really in her final grubby stage, I have trouble finding her eyes. I know they are there. But where?

MORNING COFFEE AND TOP OF THE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Coffee!


Oh, what a beautiful morning!

The sun is not shining because it rained all night, off and with a lot of lightning and thunder. Although our light dimmed briefly, we never lost power. Oddly enough, we were watching the weather when the main storm was passing. They were saying that the storms hustling south to north through Massachusetts were going to drop the humidity and the temperature.

For the next four or five days, we are going to have normal temperatures in the low seventies with more or less normal amounts of humidity.

Considering it was too hot yesterday to make a simple trip to Garry’s barber and finally get a proper trim for his head — because Garry, who had been outside cleaning up after the dogs — said “It’s just too hot” and that, from Garry is a real statement.

Garry likes warm weather. Garry likes hot weather. But this weather? Technically, it was just 96-degrees yesterday, but with almost 80% humidity, and not a breath of breeze, it felt well over 100-degrees.

Air has been like hot soup. The dogs refused to go out. Too hot.

Bonnie

Bonnie, it turns out, has been resisting going out because she is nearly blind. We knew she was going blind for a couple of years. She has a kind of chronic dry eye that even though we put drops and clean her eyes out four or five times every day, one eye is completely clouded up and the vet says it is unlikely she can see anything through it and the other, while still functional, is rapidly developing a serious cataract and it won’t be very long before she can’t see.

She is 11 years old. We have had her with us since she was a mere 9 weeks old, a rescue from a puppy mill. The better news? She is a bit pudgy, but not excessively. As far as Dr. Marcy is concerned, she is in fantastic shape for her age.


For her age.


I hate that wording. I’m not fond of it when it’s about me, but it gives me the cold shivers when it’s about one of the dogs. She has reached the end when “stuff comes up.” Lumps and bumps. She’s a great eater and basically, a very happy little dog, but she is getting old.

I hate it when they get old. It’s so soon. Wasn’t it yesterday I stood in the freezing, snowy yard at three in the morning begging Bonnie to DO SOMETHING so frozen mama could go back to bed?

She loves the snow. She was tiny, yet she bounced through it like one of those high-bounce rubber balls. She still loves snow. But not rain or heat.

We took in the Duke originally because Bonnie had become so inactive we felt her lack of vigor would take years off her life. She and the Duke have formed a real bond. He goes up and down the steps with her, apparently (on some doggish level) aware that she can’t see properly. No depth perception. He pushes her in and out of the doggy door.

With Duke around, she is much more active. The Duke makes her play with him. She doesn’t just lie on the sofa anymore. She plays and this is a good thing.

Duke shepherds both Scotties up and down the stairs, even though there isn’t a speck of shepherd in his Asian breed mix. He looks like a Shih Tzu, but he’s twice the size and he has a funny squashy, uneven face, one ear up, one ear down. Visually, he’s a dead ringer for a Papillon — except he is very much larger. But he has that face, minus the one downward-pointing ear.

The Duke

Meanwhile, against all odds, he shepherds both Scotties and us. He is always inches from Garry or me when we go anywhere. If it’s the bathroom and we shut the door, he lies across the threshold and waits. If we are off to bed, he settles in on the floor across the doorway. No night visitor will pass him by.

Duke and Bonnie!

Every night. On the wood floor. It is not that he is velcro on us. More like we are velcro on him. I feel like I should put a bed in the hall for him, but the hallway is really narrow. I’d trip and fall over it.

He wants my coffee and muffin, though first and foremost, he wants my muffin. With the lemon curd on it. If I turn my back for half a second, he’s nailed that muffin. Gone. He looks utterly innocent.


“What muffin? Me? I didn’t eat your muffin. Prove it. Show me the evidence.”


Not a crumb remains on his snout.

Drinking coffee in the morning is one part coffee, two parts fending off The Duke. I let him have the crumbs left on the plate few as they are. That level of loyalty surely deserves at least the crumbs — and anyway, he has probably swiped half of it while I wasn’t looking. He is very fast.

DOGS, TOYS AND A HOLIDAY

We gave them three brand new Kong toys … the only ones worth buying because they are the only ones that last longer than a couple of minutes. Of the three, the one that looked like a little Teddy Bear disappeared entirely within minutes of Bonnie adopting it, but has reappeared several times. I saw it as recently as this morning, but when we came back from the hospital, I saw it on the far side of the front yard near the other gate.

We gave the strange birdlike stuffed creature to The Duke and eventually when Gibbs appeared, gave the Dodo to him.

Sometimes missing toys reappear. Others vanish and are never seen again.

Of the original three, one still looks almost newish. It’s identical to its original, the strangely birdlike creature that all the dogs dearly love. So there are two of them — the old one and the new one.

Then, there’s the blue Dodo. It was brand new. Gibbs grabbed it and took it outside. Later, he brought it back. Covered in ice and snow and mud, it was one of the most disgusting items ever brought in from outside. I washed it with soap and hot water and Garry threw it in the dryer. It sat in lonely isolation on the end table until Duke, frustrated by seeing it but not having it, went rogue and got it on his own. It is out in the snow in the front yard now. Maybe it will come home later.

You certainly couldn’t accuse our dogs of not appreciating their new toys. I wish they wouldn’t drag them out into the mud and ice so fast, but they don’t lack enthusiasm. They sure do love the toys. Looking around, one of the two strange birdlike creatures has gone missing. Again.

DOGS WATCHING FOR SANTA?

We have very alert dogs. I know this because they bark.

They bark at cars passing by and even more at a car or truck in the driveway. They bark when someone comes to deliver a package. They get downright frenzied when someone comes into the house. Gibbs goes totally nuts if that someone happens to be my son, with whom he has developed a passionate bond. Duke feels that way about our granddaughter. Bonnie saves all that passion for Garry and occasionally, for me.

This week, they seem to be spending much of their time perched atop the sofa, watching out the window. I think they are watching for one little sleigh, a red-coated elf with a long white beard … and who knows what kind of goodies?

Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out whether or not there’s any point in wrapping their gifts since I’d have to unwrap them so they’d know what they are.

Maybe I’ll just go with a ribbon?

LOYALTY, THY NAME IS DOG

What can I say about loyalty except …

Bonnie
Duke
Gibbs

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

BUYING A DOOR FOR THE DOGS

Now that the front door and sidelights is ordered, I need to get a doggy door. The one we’ve got is huge. We’ve had so many different dogs, from very small to really big, we needed one door to fit all of them. Now, though, with just the two terriers, we can drop down from the extra-large to a medium. Both dogs are the right height for medium, but if Bonnie gets any more rotund, I’m afraid it’ll be like Winnie the Pooh all over again. Poor Bonnie, stuck in the door!

I measured the dogs. When I was done, I put the tape measure back in its container and looked up Scottish Terriers because you can’t measure a wriggling dog. Bonnie was either 10 or 13-inches tall. Gibbs was maybe 12 or possibly 14-inches tall. Both seemed to be about 15-inches wide, which would make them wider than they are tall … so I went with the breed description.

Medium.

You’d think getting a doggy door would be a no-brainer after dealing with getting the entire front door, but nothing is easy. Initially, I figured I’d get another Pet Safe door since we’ve had them for the past 17 years and they never wear out. You just get a new flap when the old ones gets warped from sun, wind, snow, rain … and being whacked head-first by a charging dog. When Bishop was a young one, he’d leap down the stairs and straight out the door with all the other guys following him.

Whack, thump, bang, whack, whack. Then they all turned around and came back in. More whacks and thumps and bangs.

Dog doors come with and without electronics. With soft and hard doors. They also come with multiple layers of flaps or hard doors  to keep the heat in and the cold out … or the cold in and the bugs out. Some were more expensive than the entire front door and two sidelights I just bought.

I wanted a regular door. Not hard, because our dogs are not used to hard doors and I’m pretty sure getting smacked on the head by a hard plastic door a few hundred times a day might discourage them from using it — not what I want. So soft. And not black. One of the nicer doors comes with a heavy black flap … but Gibbs gets freaked out when he can’t see the light on the other side. I also didn’t want one of the new Pet Safe doors because there are a lot of complaints from people like me who had the older doors and think the new ones are plastic junk.

Crazy dogs!

Eventually, I went to PetDoors.com and had a sensible conversation with their online chat person. She said “Go with Ideal. Better than Pet Safe, not as expensive as Hale.” There were a few others she didn’t bother to mention. A bit pricey. You could buy a Harley for less money.

So, I’m down to two doors. Really, more like one door, but you can buy it in plastic or aluminum. I’m betting we’ll go with aluminum.

All of this took me hours and I’m exhausted. I have spent a lot of money I don’t have and will have to spend another few hundred for all the finishing pieces. Two-by-fours and molding and paint and doggy doors and flooring. Weather stripping. Screw and nuts and bolts and blades for the Sawzall. And, at the end of this, presumably, we will have a door for humans and dogs and I will not have to think about this again for another decade or two.

Just imagine how much more complicated planning health care would be. My mind boggles.

NEWS ABOUT BONNIE AND THE BIG GIBBS BREAKTHROUGH

The dogs don’t much like going to the vet and the dogs’ erstwhile owners aren’t fond of it, either. However, some things you need to do. Routine shots are obvious: rabies shots are a legal requirement and I would make sure they had them anyway. Other things are more complicated.

Bonnie with spring clip

Bonnie has an eye condition that comes and goes. Mostly it comes. Sometimes it goes. Regardless, it always comes back, eventually. I forget the official wording, but it boils down to chronic conjunctivitis caused by chronic dry eyes. She has had it intermittently in both of her eyes for years, now. Most of her life. I too have chronic dry eye which is why I can’t wear contact lenses. As Bonnie’s eyes go into their itching, red stage — especially this time of year when the pollen is high and rising — I am itching along with her. The pollen makes Garry’s eyes itch too, so eye drops are a thing around here.

The post vet resting period

Her eyes are always better in the winter. As soon as the air gets warmer and the floating pollen starts drifting around, Bonnie’s eyes get worse and this time, much worse. To add insult to injury, she has a skin tag on the bottom of the eyelid of the “bad” eye. Which I’m sure isn’t making her feel any better. It breaks open and bleeds a little once in a while, but then it goes right back to growing.

Hard day for dogs

I want it gone. I don’t like the location. I don’t like the irritation it seems to be causing. If it were in MY eye, I know I’d want it gone. Since I think it’s time for another round of dental cleanup for Bonnie, I figured she’ll need anesthesia for the eye, we might as well do her teeth, too. We still need to do Gibbs’ teeth, but I can’t do it at the same time. Really, I can’t do any of it, but at some point, there’s no choice. You have to find a way to do important stuff.

Aside from getting a little fatter with each visit, Bonnie is a healthy girl.

“It’s the treats,” says the vet. Garry looks very uncomfortable and I shoot him a “look.” Because I keep telling him that our dogs will keep eating until they explode and it’s us that has to show control. He shuffled.

Gibbs

“This,” comments our vet, “Is a no-judgement zone. I see people like you going without things they need so the dogs get what they need, then I see people who have everything just ignoring their dogs.” We nod. We know. We’ve seen it too, close up and too personal for comfort. I comment I’d really like to get my own teeth done and the vet nods vigorously. Dentists are expensive.

The good news? Bonnie got all her blood tests in January, so she won’t need new ones. She fat, but fine.

We have to stop being bullied by the dogs. Three biscuits total between the two of us in the morning, then nothing until right before bed. Garry and I are not looking each other in the eye. Although we’ll try to not cheat, it’s tough. Our dogs are hysterical, frantic, wildly amusing beggars. If they weren’t so godawful hilarious, it would be a lot easier. Sometimes when I get up in the morning, it’s like a three-ring circus in the kitchen. They virtually dance on the high wire with umbrellas, all for a crunchy brown biscuit with no discernible flavor.

Two dawgz

We took both dogs to the vet. Gibbs didn’t need to see anyone, but you can’t leave him alone with no dogs or people because he’ll freak out. He was not only good at the vet … and this folks, is a first … he fell in love with a lady in the waiting room. He just saw her and he lit up like a big birthday cake. He performed all his most adorable tricks for her. It was almost too cute for words.

He has never done that for anyone but Garry and I. A real first, probably in his life. Gibbs made friends with a stranger! One year and three months since he came to live with us — and finally, he broke through that “extra wall” rescue dogs have. And he did it in the least likely location — the office of the veterinarian. Go figure, right?