Friday, June 5, 2020

A Dog's Wisdom

"Dog's don't know the word "love". To them it's just a word like any other, a sound that defines or simply fills a lack, a word they don't need to know any more than they need to know the word for fear and pride. Yet, though they can't articulate it, they show it, as though nothing else had ever been, our form the shape and echo of all that is necessary to them.

--from  "The Book of Barkley" by LB Johnson

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Happy Birthday to ME

Friday was my 7th Birthday!  I can't believe I've been with Mom and Dad a whole year now.  This is the BEST home.  It has a fenced yard for zoomies and lots of delivery trucks to woof at.

Mom's been sick a few days with an infection in her foot (She said it was Sell-U-light-US) and has to take these giant horse pills from the dog-tor for 10 days. She hopes this works otherwise she has to go to the Horse-Spittle.

But I got a HUGE birthday cookie (thanks Dad!) that I shared with Abby and a new stuffie!
- Lorelei W. (Wigglebutt) Lab

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Speeding Squirrels

Hmmmmm - I wonder WHO this was?  The newspaper said it was a "he", so I'm off the hook for the squirrel-cide.

Blogville Officer Abby.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Snackie Search and Rescue

Dad - I tried to catch my treat but it bounced off my nose and landed under the stove! You have to save it before the dust bunnies eat it!
 I'll snoopervise
 You got it!
 Nom Nom Nom Nom

Friday, May 8, 2020

The Power of Community

My Dad is in Assisted Living in Washington State.  They can't have visitors.  I'm in Chicago and we're under shelter in place restrictions until late June.  Dad turns 100 in a few weeks.   He is a retired Lt. Colonel in the Air Force and a WWII Vet.  He was married to my Mom for 42 years before she died, and married to my Stepmom (a lovely woman) for 20.  He's been on his own now for 10 but he and my brother "bachelored" it together for a few years before my brother suddenly died of cancer.  Now it's just Dad and I and a beloved cousin who helps me with his care. (she lost her Dad when she was in her 20s so she and Dad are quite close).

A member of his community who works with seniors posted a selfie with Dad on her last visit before "the world changed (as she put it) and asked for cards for Dad on a County Facebook page since Dad has no family at all in the Pacific Northwest.

Not only were their 90 comments, but about a dozen people that used to work with Dad at his employer of 30+ years who are still in the community commented as to how much they loved my Dad and how they plan to visit him when the restrictions are lifted.

A Patriot Guard has also commented about doing something special for him with all the Veterans on their motorcycles on his big day.  I'm also going to try and get one of his beloved Dairy Queen cakes to him.  So many people coming together to honor him, even if from a distance.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Fly Free Choppy

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day (Photo from Travels with Choppy Blog)

I love everyone in Blogville but Choppy the dog was a particular favorite and I was stunned today to read he suddenly went to the Bridge shortly following surgery for a torn CCL and meniscus.  He was only 11.

I first met his Mom Sarah through social media when I lived in Indianpolis and she lived in the area working as a attorney.  We both supported the same dog rescue organization and started to chat.

Choppy was an amazing dog - he went with her everywhere, hiking and walking all over the United States, including Alaska (Choppy's Mom is a Travel Writer of multiple books).  When Sarah got married and moved North, North to Wisconsin, Choppy still spent time walking but at home, he was known for wearing silly costumes (which he LOVED to don) and balancing an assortment of things on his head while he annoyed his nemesis Schooner the cat.

He also is the star of a book of corny dog jokes on Amazon which makes me laugh every time I pick it up.

You are so going to be missed Choppy.

Splody - a Barkley Memory

The quiet, serene, pre-Barkley office with white futon.

For my dear friend, Lab Rescue hero and Forensic Science bff Carolyne Poulton of  Labrador Retriever Rescue of Scotland

We all come home to different environments.  For some, it's the sound of little kids squealing with delight that Mommy or Daddy is home.  It's the clatter of footsteps like the thunder of small ponies down a trail, that is no trail, but is simply a hallway rug, worn by that repeated motion of sheer joy.

For some, it's a simple "Hello Sweetie" a hug and a kiss.

And sometimes it's the blissful sound of silence after a really long day when all you want to do is eat a hot meal and have a mug of hot tea while you lay out the thoughts of the day in your favorite spot to write or perhaps watch one of your favorite old adventure movies.

The night in question was the later kind but it was going to be one of those very nights where the tea was a glass of Malbec.
Mom, come quick!  Someone pooped on the rug!

Barkley usually greeted me at the back door to the garage, alerted by the door going up, with that terrifying bark that to outsiders sounds ferocious. He sounded scary, but he would let me take a bone right out of his mouth with my bare fingers.  I was his protector and his protected and if I wanted it, it's mine.  But he would defend to the death, that bone, from any creature of a lower, parallel plane, those that were neither protected or protector that would take what he loves.  So even with that quiet temperament that was his nature, I know he'd defend to the death, as well, my safety.

But he knew the sound of my truck and the bark would take on a different tone. I normally heard him before the door was even up, the sound, wild and faint, and incomprehensible but for its meaning. Bark!  Bark!  "Mom's Home!"

It was later than normal and that night long ago when I came in - silence.  He was comfy on the couch, Brinks Barkley, sleeping on the job.
I patted him, fed him, let him out to go potty, which he always does after he eats. I was glad his tummy was feeling OK, as the previous evening he had snarfed up a bit of greasy food wrapper that had hit the floor when emptying the trash, and I figured that might upset his tummy. But he seemed fine, just not as lively as usual.

So I poured the wine, put on some barley soup on the stove to heat for supper, and sat down to call Partner in Grime from the couch.

We  had just said hello when:

 "Oh, Crap! Barkley threw up in the corner earlier!  I have to go".
Barkley had an ultra-sensitive stomach as far as rawhides and some people foods, even when he was youngster, unlike my last black lab Clyde who could eat an entire tank and then just gently burp.  So several times a year, Barkley would snag some fatty food that's dropped (bacon!)  or a piece of sandwich left unattended or a paper napkin or such that was soaked with meat juice.  He then usually threw it up. He always upchucked in the same spot, if he couldn't alert me in time that he needed to go out, a corner of the front room between a sofa and chair. Since there's a nice rug there, I laid out a large clean towel in the spot, just in case.

Unfortunately, it wasn't barf. It was from the other end of the dog. Poor thing,

I'm sure he tried to hold it, but couldn't.  He'd never done that in the house since his first couple of weeks home as a puppy. Of course, this time, he carefully MOVED THE TOWEL OUT OF THE WAY FIRST before he tagged my floor with the latest of black lab graffiti (in poop!) But I could see the doggy thought process - "Mom gets upset if I grab her clean towels off the counter so I will protect her clean towel even in my indisposition - I'm a good dog!"
Mom, I was just FOLDING these clean towels I found on the counter.

He just looked at me from a distance, as if he expected a scolding, as I cleaned it up (pointing out the large area of tile in the entranceway he could have selected instead of the carpeting, though he didn't appear to be taking notes). There is nothing quite like the look of a dog that's expecting harsh words, no different than a human that somehow knows you are angry, even if they aren't quite sure what exactly they did wrong; a sort of shocked and unbelieving sorrow.

You look at them, your heart beating strongly with the heat of the moment.  They look at you, their heart beating a hollow echo as though already retreating, as they wait for your reaction. You look at them again, weighing a hundred expedients, knowing what you need to do, and not necessarily what fatigue and emotion might prod you to do.
I went over and gently scratched his ear saying  "It's OK, you couldn't help it, you're a good dog", patted him one last time, and gave Partner a callback

"(sigh) It wasn't barf".

"Oh, so the "Oh Crap" was literal then?"  We laughed and proceeded to chat while Barkley laid down next to me for an ear scratch, feeling fine physically, but needing the reassurance that all was well.

When people get married they take a vow of "in sickness and in health". I married Partner in Grime after I blew my meniscus out while walking Barkley on ice and he canceled his holiday plans and drove a worried Barkley and me 200 miles home and took care of me during the follow-up surgery and recovery.  We didn't marry for another year or so but after that week I knew he was "the one".

In a way, we also do that with our pets.  Owning a pet is not cheap, even for youthful preventive care.  Then, there are always the things you don't expect, especially as they age, things that result in someone wearing the cone of shame or the expenditure of hundreds of dollars.
But you help them get better, you adjust your schedule, make doctor appointments and you offer only warmth and support.  You don't lay your hand upon them with forceful curse and belittlement. They look at you to be the strong one, the tender one. They trust you to act from your heart and not from the infinite, internal voices of human fear and angst.

Then, on those nights when you come home really, really late from work, your soul weary, the house dark, they will quietly come up to you, leaning into you, drawn from their slumber to your side like steel and magnet. At that moment, there as both your hearts beat in the silence, you realize that every measure of sickness and health was worth it.

 - L.B. Johnson

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Lady and the Tramp Stamp - A Barkley Memory

Don't I look all soft and adorable.  Please feed me treats.

With this photo memory of Miss Abby when she had her first grooming after adoption, it brought memories of trying to get Barkley bathed, NOT the easiest of tasks.

From the Book of Barkley (Outskirts Press) and some photos of Barkley with my little Point and Shoot that you may not have seen.

CHAPTER 34 - Lady and the Tramp Stamp

I've had some bad haircuts in my time, as with very fine but also curly hair, it happens.  Barkley, however, has been spared getting shaved and groomed but for the occasional bath and nail trim.

Why is it a breed that loves the water and will cannonball into any available pool or pond, hates getting baths?  When he was a puppy he just got his baths in the tub.  He wasn't too happy about it, but I could hold on to him and although I'd end up as wet as he was, we got it done.

When he was older, it didn't go so well.  You know those wildlife clips from Africa that shows the lion running and jumping on the zebra, taking it down in a flurry of legs and hair.
It was something like that.
So I had to take him to a "groomer."  It was a lady recommended by his previous vet where we used to live, the groomer working from her home out in the country.  I asked if she did larger dogs and she assured me she did all the time.

I left him. She was very friendly; the place spotlessly clean, her instruments shining and well cared for, the other dogs there, waiting to get picked up, looking content.

When I came back, she was there, with another girl I did not recognize.   "I had to call for help," she said.  Both of them were drenched, with wet hair, clothes, everything.  There was water on the table, on the floor, several of their tools had been flung across the floor, and the picture on the wall was all askew.  They looked like they'd been in a tornado and flood combined.

 Barkley was in his pen, drying out, with a scarf around his need, looking ALL happy but not liking the scarf much.

 "I'm sooo sorry, I said, please; let me pay you extra for your services."  They declined, but I gave her a huge tip with a second apology.

 As we left, she looked at me and said, "Miss, I appreciate the business, and hope you'll think of me if others ask about pet grooming.  But please do not bring him back."

So baths got less frequent but we managed.  There were no more fashion accessories though, at least until he came home with a square of fur missing from his lower spine.

 It was some simple veterinary surgery to remove a small benign fatty growth from that area as well as four little skin tags on a couple of his legs.  Common enough in older dogs but if he kept chewing on them it could do some harm, so off they came.  At the same time, since he would be under anesthesia, his scheduled doggie dental cleaning and care was accomplished.

 Barkley loves Dr. H., and is oh so excited to get in the door and see her. I dropped him off in the early morning and could pick him up after I got off of work.  He was not so happy with me when I picked him up.

 He looked at me as if to say - "You told me some pretty girls were going to check my teeth and pet me, and I come home with Brazilian Bikini Butt."

Barkley is a "no fuss dog."  Although he is AKC purebred and a hunting breed, he's lived a quiet life at home.  It's been a simple life of water and dirt and running amok, not constant grooming and bows in his ears and dog couture.  If I dressed him in costume as a food object or cute insect, he would likely steal the clippers and give me a Mohawk in my sleep.

 He was neutered as a youngster; there's lots of good rescue dogs out there, so he wasn't going to reproduce, bloodlines or not, but he'd had a life of only routine fussing over, just enjoying being part of my family.  His not-so-secret canine mission was that of most working dog breeds - to sniff every object in the entire world, peeing on anything that smelled even remotely like another male dog and then having done so, trying to -

(a) eat it

(b) bark at it

(c) carry it around in his mouth

(d) hump it

But his teeth needed attention, so this had seemed like a good time to get it all done. The vet sent me home with some samples of dog treats that help with tartar, as well as a brush and some poultry flavored dog toothpaste (mmm, for breath that's barnyard fresh!)  The veterinary technician said, "With a little practice your dog will enjoy his brushing."

 I didn't tell her that the Storming of the Bastille was better received and less bloody than my attempt to apply a few drops of flea medication on his skin between his shoulder blades a couple of years ago.

 I'd be wearing the chicken-flavored toothpaste by the time we were through.  I won't mention the look of disdain I'd get at a pink toothbrush.  But the doctor only has his health in mind and we talked about some alternatives to keep his teeth and gums healthy.

 He did fine, though he whined a little when he did not get a full bowl of food the night before the procedure, by doctor's orders, and he was in a little discomfort when he came home.  I had pain meds, but I could not give him one until the next morning, so he got much extra care and got to sleep with Mom on her bed, something normally not allowed.

I lay with him while he went to sleep, telling him he was still a handsome boy and even offering to show him the picture of me from the 80's when I had a mullet.  He declined, it appeared, nodding off to sleep, happy that this day was done.

Friday, April 24, 2020

You Need to Take Some of that $$ You're Not Spending at the Hair Salon and Do some Fun Shopping

Brits - my favorite store of English/UK goods in Lawrence Kansas has added a BUNCH of items to their online store since their store is closed to other than curbside due to the virus. Since I wasn't spending money getting my hair highlighted I had a wonderful shopping trip of snacks and gifts. 
The box arrived only a few days after my order. I couldn't resist the Shaun the Sheep mug, the Wallace and Gromit solar toys (really, they're for the granddkids, really) and the cream scones (so good!)  I did have to wonder what "Steers Monkey Gland Sauce" was, but a dear female pilot friend of mine (who was part of my wedding party) who is married to a former LEO, now a minister from South Africa assured me that neither Monkeys or Glands were involved.  Check out her store.  This is a female-owned business and she's getting by only from online orders during the shutdown.  Great customer service - I've been shopping there for years at the recommendation of my friend Vic MD who is from Kansas and is part of a dog rescue group in Texas I've donated to.
They also have some gift cards and some high-end brand bath products that would be perfect for Mother's Day gifts (I've already purchased for my mother in law since both my Mom of 18 years and Stepmom of 30 years have passed.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

While Most of Us Are Stuck at Home - BAD Movie! No Biscuit!

Abby the Lab here.  Our house doesn't have a TV (we gave it away) - as when Mom and Dad are home they hardly ever watched it,  mostly CD's of their favorites, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Red Green, Corner Gas, Top Gear, NCIS, Castle, Firefly and those can be watched on the big screen computer monitor Mom has for work since her office is also the family room.

She watched a lot more when she had her crash pad while she worked in Indy.

Here I am on the couch looking SO excited to watch Captain Kirk again.

I have no say in the selection.  I've requested all kinds of dog movies but Mom just surfed the SCI fi channel for whatever is free.  Let me just say, we've sat through some that were REALLY bad.   You know what I'm talking about.  Some of your peeps have seen them, worse, your peeps may have PAID to see them, long ago.
Dreamcatcher (2003) - Sure, you can put Stephen King's name all over it but you lost me at parasitic butt weasel.

Slugs (1988) - Quick men!  Get the giant saltshaker!

Gingerdead Man (2005) - Gary Busey is a possessed cookie. I say again. Gary Busey is a possessed cookie.

Sex in the City Two - Mom actually turned this one off saying there was not enough white wine in the world to watch it to the end.

Robot Monster (1953) - Put a man in a gorilla suit. Put a diving helmet on his head. Watch audiences either lose interest or completely doze off. It was so boring Mystery Science Theater 3000 never took a shot at riffing it that we know of.
I fell asleep on the grey dog bed right after the Robot Monster attacked.

Aeon Flux (2005) - It's futuristic. Like Sears was in the 70's. And not in a good way. But there IS action -watch the characters posture and argue while checking out each other's clothes.

The Neverending Story - Thank you God.  It Ended.

Laserblast (1978) - Boy goes on rampage with a cereal box prize. The Submariners of the US Navy had elaborate methods to keep this  movie off  the boat where they would be stuck with it for 90 days. Why?  It's not just bad, it's Cthula Rising From the Sea bad.

American Hustle - as exciting as reading the US Tax Code
Spidermen/X-Men 3 (2007, 2006) -You know what they say about the best thing of superhero trilogies? The first two movies.

Jurrasic Park III- Watch it backwards. The dinosaurs throw up people until the pesky airplane goes away.

Battlefield Earth (2000) - Mom said she has a lot of absolutely gruesome injuries in her time but I never contemplated a shrimp fork as a lethal weapon before.
The Core (2003)- Let me put it this way: this is a science fiction movie about the end of the world that didn't bother to consult any real science. Let's all walk in 9,000 degree F. Core Fluid and survive long enough to override a compartment ejection system! No problem!

Green Lantern (2011) - Nothing says awesome super power like "lantern".

Independence Day  (1996) - Sure, the single, reciprocating engine agricultural pilots can immediately strap on a fighter plane and save the world  as surely as  Jeff Goldblum can instantly cook up a little string of alien-compatible code that when delivered is going to end with the Alien Mothership switching to Wordpress and fleeing to outer space.
Howard the Duck (1986) - Failure goes by many names.  Howard the Duck is one of them.  Fans of the comic book hated it, sci-fi lovers hated it, kids hated it. I left the room as did my friend the Aflac Duck.

Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen  (2009)-  The dog humping scene is both a discredit to dogs AND humping.

Frankenstein Island (1981) - They called them "Amazon women" because that's where they were ordering their identical leopard skin bikinis,  "Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific" shampoo, makeup and rubber skulls from.

Armageddon (1998)- Shop Class saves the world! Resolute on violating every law of dramatic unity and physics, Armageddon makes The Core look like a documentary.

Twilight (2008) - I'm an Immortal, handsome, powerful and hundreds of years old.  I'm going to enroll in high school in a tiny isolated town so I can meet chicks.

Planet of the Dinosaurs (1977) - Members of what I think were the Charlie Daniels Band, crash lands on a planet where they become tasty snacks for the natives.
Gymtaka (1985) - Combine gymnastics with karate and you get a particularly bad movie, though it is almost worth it for the infamous pummel horse scene. Who knew the infrastructure of most third world countries is made up of parallel bars and a pummel horse.

Signs - actually the movie wasn't that bad but the science was, specifically the moment when the heroes discovered the invading aliens weakness after they'd already shown up at the door.  Water.

Imagine you're in that little alien landing party

Captain:  Ensign Ricky do you have the readouts.

Ensign Ricky:  Yes Captain:  71% of the planet is covered in a substance that will kill our species. As well there is 2 million cubic miles of that same substance stored within a half mile of the earth's surface, which is inhabited by animals and fauna also composed of the same substance.   Oh, and there's 3,100 cubic miles of that substance in vapor form in the atmosphere at any time, waiting to rain down upon us.  I'm thinking we should turn a. . .

Captain:(turning to the landing party with upraised arm (tentacle, whatever) in full battle cry:  "FREEDOM!!!!"
Terminator 3 (2003) - No matter how many of them you kill, another one shows up naked in a little glowing ball of energy just as you got the kids down for a nap.

The Giant Claw  (1957) - Cold War Jet Pilots and obnoxious teenyboppers are menaced by a mutated Gonzo from the Muppet Show.

Night of the Lepus  (1972) - Quick!  Release the 200 foot Elmer Fudd! Through the special effects of really bad editing, weird camera angles and tiny little houses and trains from the hobby store,  little domestic bunnies appears as giants galloping across your house and eating Aunt Daisy (actually for the attack they use a man in a rabbit suit). Deforrest Kelley's mustache was the scariest thing in this flick. Be vewwwy vewwy quiet.

And lastly:  Reservoir Dogs - It's NOT ABOUT DOGS!

I wish someone could find the remote for me so I can change the channel.