We almost brought another dog into our lives, almost. We were so close. Mitch saw an ad in the Saturday paper, “A lab/mastiff mix, 6 years old” and then the magic words, “FREE TO A GOOD HOME”. Mitc…
We almost brought another dog into our lives, almost. We were so close. Mitch saw an ad in the Saturday paper, “A lab/mastiff mix, 6 years old” and then the magic words, “FREE TO A GOOD HOME”. Mitch was hooked. Even though he knows, there is no such thing as free. Nothing is ever free. More importantly, Mitch has been the hold out, saying over and over, “Not another dog, yet.” But there it was, Mitch urging me to send an email, asking about the dog. I reminded him of our last experience with a “lab mix”. As much as I loved Charlie, he was always a bit off. We were “on guard” with him always, because he was animal aggressive and sometimes very explosive.
So, I called his bluff, I sent an email, asking how big he was, did he get along with other dogs, etc. The ad said he was good with cats and children, but didn’t mention dogs. I got a response, that yes, he was good with other dogs, they had three other dogs, four cats and four children. A very full house. He also weighed a hundred pounds, so a good size match for Orso. Now I was curious as to why if they had three other dogs, four cats and four children, why was this dog singled out to be kicked to the curb. Why not get rid of the cats? Four cats to one dog, seemed like a fair trade.
I sent the question back, “why are you trying to find a home for this dog?” I phrased it very diplomatically, instead of saying, “why are you getting rid of this one, as opposed to one of the others?” I wanted to know the real reason for the ad. What was wrong with him? Was he a biter, a fighter, what? Why was this one getting the boot? Because the answers would determine our next step. I was still very gun shy about getting back into a situation where Orso would be victimized ever again.
We were straddling the fence, not sure which side to fall on, dog or no dog. I almost called our best friends to ask what we should do, but I already knew their answer, “Get the dog.” They have three medium to large size dogs, and are not unbiased. By the time we went to bed, we had decided that no we would pass on the dog. No dog yet.
Her email response came in the morning. The answer was not what I expected at all. The owner had gotten the dog as a puppy and now after six years had to give him up because she had to move to an apartment wouldn’t take dogs, especially large dogs, so she took him to her friend, who promised to look for a great home for him. The friend had placed the ad, with three other dogs, four cats and four children already had a full house. After reading her email, I was ready to get in the car, drive to wherever he was and bring him home on the spot. Sanity returned and I waited for Mitch to wake up.
We talked some more, pros and cons, talking ourselves out of the dog, then back into the dog. I finally sent an email back asking if we could meet with Orso to see how they might interact. I got a response saying that was a great idea and when could we get there. I asked if noon would work and waited for her response. The reply came back letting us off the hook – sort-of. The owner was not handling the separation well and asked her friend if they would keep him for two weeks, until she either found another place or could win over her landlord. But could they keep our email, “just in case.”
My heart went out to the woman and her dog, because I know how I would feel if I were forced with the same decision. I answered back that of course, they could keep our email address, and that I understood completely. I even offered to “foster the dog” for the woman if she wanted to on a short or long term basis, if the need arose.
We almost fell down the rabbit hole, not quite, but we’re teetering.
Do you have any idea how shocking a cold wet nose can be, especially when it touches the back of your thigh? Let’s just say that it’s a really good thing I am only five foot two inches tall on a good day. Otherwise I might be sporting a concussion and submitting an Aflac claim.
I had just gotten out of the shower and was drying off. I had my back to the door, (huge mistake it seems) and didn’t hear the door open. I had neglected to pull the door completely closed so there was a small gap, evidently big enough for a nose to fit through and push open the door. I was bent over drying my shins and feet when a cold wet nose ever so gently touched the back of my thigh. I guess Orso was checking to make sure I had used soap. Anyway, I stood straight up and jumped forward about two feet, narrowly missing the lighted makeup mirror that was mounted on the bathroom wall.
I sucked in my breath, grabbed the towel, wrapped it around me (too late to protect my exposed skin) and turned to face my attacker. Orso was standing there wagging his tail looking like he had just accomplished some huge feat of skill, looking very pleased with himself. At least I didn’t scream or squeal and wake up Mitch, not that he would have heard it, because he sleeps like the dead. I have no idea why Orso decided to get out of bed to come and check on me, something totally out of character for him. He normally climbs back in bed after our morning walk and sleeps until I fix breakfast.
I reached out and scratched his ear, then Orso turned around, walked out of the bathroom, jumped back up on the bed, laid down and went back to sleep. I stood there and mentally scratched my head wondering why and getting no answer.
What a way to start the day.
I don’t usually reblog posts, but this one is super important if you feed your dogs peanut butter.
Please read this and share.
(This was first posted on December 8th, 2016. It is being republished because of the mention of peanut butter in the article presented in my post that came out an hour ago.)
Keep peanut butter away from your dogs!
Because it could kill your beloved companion.
Fellow author Judi Holdeman sent me an email that contained a warning that had been in a recent health newsletter from Jeff Reagan. Here’s the essence of that warning (and my emphasis in parts):
If your dog is anything like my dog, they probably love a good scoop of peanut butter.
As I’m writing this, my pup Ellie is actually snuggled up next to my leg and going to town on her peanut butter filled Kong. She’s in heaven…
But I want to warn you about a NEW problem with dogs and peanut butter.
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I have experienced lower back pain for almost two years now. It started when I went on the marathon purge getting the house ready to sell. It has continued after the move to our apartment in the Pacific Northwest. Now it has gotten worse, the pain moving around to my lower abdomen, after buying our new house. At first I thought it was due to the back-breaking work getting everything either packed up or thrown out for the move. Then I rationalized the pain to sitting for long hours working from home. I have no excuse or rationalization, since I stand most of the day and am not lifting anything heavy.
I decided to find a doctor here and finally get a diagnosis for the pain. I discovered that finding a doctor or even get an appointment to go see someone is next to impossible here. I figured that by going to my insurance’s website and look for in-network doctors close to me would be fairly easy. Not so. Most of the numbers I called had me wind my way through a series of “press one, press two, press one, etc.” then when I got to the correct queue, I sat on hold for minutes, I mean many minutes. If I was lucky enough to get to speak with someone, the answers were, “Oh we’re not accepting new patients” even though the automated voice would direct new patients to press one, or “We’re taking appointments a month out”, really? well it’s a good thing I’m not bleeding out my eyes. My favorite one was, “We don’t handle pain”, seriously, then do you only see healthy happy patients?
I broke down and went to a walk-in clinic, hoping to get someone that at least would point me in the right direction. I should have seen the signs when I pulled into the packed parking lot, that this was a bad idea. I walked into the waiting room and looked around at all the people sitting there waiting to see a doctor. There had to be twenty-five or thirty people sitting there and more than half were wearing masks. I signed in and found a seat between two people wearing masks, one of which was coughing and hacking into the mask.
I tried to make myself very small and not touch anything. I wanted to hold my breath, but that was not an option so I took very small breaths. After sitting there for an hour and saw that more were coming in than were being seen, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get in to see anyone. I decided this was a sign to get out NOW! I barely escaped with my life. Now just cross your fingers I don’t get the flu or worse, dengue fever.
Back to the drawing board so to speak, I went through the insurance website again, this time I thought I would look for an orthopedic surgeon. Surely a specialist isn’t going to turn me away. Wrong again. The first doctor’s office told me that I had to be referred to them by my primary care physician. I explained that I didn’t have a primary care physician and my insurance doesn’t require that, I can go where I want, I would just pay a higher co-pay. But that didn’t sway them, no appointment without a referral. Are you kidding me? Talk about getting frustrated.
This shouldn’t be that hard. I was almost ready to buy a plane ticket and fly back to KC to see my doctor there. But stubbornness won out, I will find someone to see me here.
Many years ago, Mitch gave me a hand-me-down parka that someone at his work had out grown. It is a long knee length winter parka with a zip in liner, and is quite warm. It is water proof with a hood and lots of pockets, and reflector strips to be seen in the dark, making it perfect for walking Orso in the dark and hiking when it’s cold. I’m not sure how old it is, but I can say that I have gotten at least ten or more years of wear out of it.
The down side to the parka is that it has one of those double zippers on it, you know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that you can zip up closed and at the bottom of the hem, you can zip up toward the collar to unzip to an open jacket. I have always hated that part of the parka, because the double zipper is always harder to catch at the bottom, making it more difficult to zip up. Oh, I know the theory behind it, to be able to unzip the coat to get to a pocket or to go pee without removing the coat, but I would just wait until I was somewhere warm to heed the call of nature.
Over the years, the zipper has gotten weaker, making it harder to get shoved down into the second zipper sometimes. Usually that happens when I’m in a hurry or Orso is impatient, making it take longer to get outfitted and out the door. This morning everything was going just fine, I put on my sweatshirt and hat, then put on the parka and zipped it up, donned my gloves and hooked up Orso to his harness and off we went on our pre-dawn walk.
The walk was going along smoothly when I started feeling a chill on my thighs and stomach. I looked down and saw that my parka was wide open flapping in the breeze. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the zipper on the bottom had let go and my parka was unzipping itself from the bottom up. I tried to reconnect the zipper and zip it up to meet the top zipper but that didn’t work. Then I tried to unzip the top zipper to meet the bottom of the zipper where it had stopped at open, but that didn’t work either. So, in an act of desperation, I zipped the top zipper back up all the way and pulled the two sides of my parka together in one hand to try and keep it closed until I could get back home.
When I got back home, I struggled with the zipper trying to get the upper zipper unzipped far enough to force the lower zipper down. That didn’t work either, I had only gotten the upper zipper unzipped down about three inches from the top and the lower zipper had unzipped itself up the rest of the way to meet the upper zipper.
I stood there thinking about how I was going to the parka off. Panic was starting to set in. I had to get it off and get in the shower to get ready for work. I couldn’t just stand there all day in a parka that was more unzipped than zipped but wouldn’t come off. Have you ever tried to pull a knee length parka off over your head with an opening of about five inches and not rip off your nose? It’s not easy let me tell you.
I like to pride myself on getting my holiday shopping done before the last minute. Normally I’m done and ready for the holidays at least a week before Christmas, letting me sit back and relax a bit before Christmas morning. Well not this year, this year I just didn’t have any inspiration for Mitch. I didn’t have any creative juices flowing. Everyone else was done and shipped off, which made me feel even worse, like a real slug.
I finally came up with a couple of ideas, one was a table saw since last year when I went through the “Great Purge” and either gave away, donated or trashed a lot of our belongings so I could sell the house and move nineteen hundred miles to the Pacific Northwest. Mitch’s table saw was one of the things that didn’t make the move. Yeah I know, it’s so much fun rebuying some of the tools and other belongings. Not. But space was tight and I made sure it went to a good home.
So yesterday morning I got up early and headed out to deal with western Washington traffic, (no fun at any time of the day) in search of a table saw and a work space light because for some reason our desk lamps didn’t make the move either. I don’t remember getting rid of our lamps, but then there is a least one or more boxes that didn’t make the move either.
First stop was Home Depot and a search of the tool section showed me that the affordable table saws were a popular item, because they were out of stock. So I jumped back in the car and headed off to Lowes. Lowes had three left that looked well-made and under a million dollars. The only problem was that I couldn’t lift it. I had to have help getting into the car, which meant I would have to have help getting it out of the car. And since we have no friends here that are a quick call away, I was going to have to get Mitch to carry in his own gift. That left me with another dilemma, how to get him to carry it in the house and not see what it was. Compound that with a barking Orso the minute he sees the car which always wakes Mitch up. I definitely had a challenge ahead. Too bad Lowes doesn’t have a gift wrap station, I would have been set.
I pulled in the driveway and rushed to open the front door to shush Orso before he woke up Mitch. Mitch was already awake but was in the shower so I had a few minutes. I ran inside and grabbed a roll of wrapping paper, tape and scissors, went back outside and climbed in the back of the station wagon to wrap the table saw. There I was draping wrapping paper over the box, cutting the paper and trying to tape the paper together in a reasonably nice looking way. The challenge came when I tried to lift the box high enough to slide the paper under the box, not so easy when you are in a cramped space and the box was bulky and heavy to match. The wrapping paper wasn’t long and wide enough to completely cover three sides and two ends, so I had to cut another piece about a foot wide to cover the ends. But the paper wasn’t long enough to drape over the top and cover both ends, so I had to cut that section in two pieces and tape each section to the top of the box and over the end.
This had to be the worst wrapping job I’ve ever done. There were pieces of wrapping paper taped over the top of the box to cover the ends of the box and wrapping paper edges hanging loose on the sides of the box because I couldn’t lift the box high enough to slide the paper under the box. An unwrapped bottom meant leaving the bottom of the box exposed and I could only hope the bottom of the box was blank without any description.
I got done with the pathetic wrapping job and went inside to fetch Mitch and make him carry his own gift inside. The poor sad gift looks almost as pathetic as Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree. I am so glad shopping is done and all I have to do now is open a bottle or two of wine sit back and enjoy the rest of the day. Good thing tomorrow is Christmas.
Merry Christmas to you all.
Once again Orso strikes. Thanks to Orso, we can cross another couple off the list of potential friends here. You ask how could that be? How could Orso keep us from making friends? He’s such a sweet dog, super friendly and loves everyone, man and dog alike. Well that’s part of the problem. He wants to be friends with every dog out there, small or large, he doesn’t discriminate. But not all dogs want to be his friend. His size is very intimidating to a lot of dogs he meets.
Today I took him on our afternoon walk and about halfway through our route, three of our neighbors caught up with us walking their dogs. One of the dogs is an older dog that is nice enough, but has no interest in being playmates. She is just happy to plod along for a while then turn back. As long as I stay between Orso and her owner with her on the outside, we are good, no snaps or snarls. Orso has learned to give her a wide berth.
The problem was the other couple and their dog. They are a nice couple with a smaller female black lab, probably weighing in around sixty pounds or so, making her about forty-five pounds lighter than Orso and much lower to the ground. The husband was super friendly, talkative and kept loving on Orso marveling at size of his head. I thought Orso’s head size matched his body size, all were big. I just shrugged and shook my head.
The man let his dog off the leash and let her run, causing Orso to feel short changed, so against the inner voice in my head telling me that this was going to end badly, I let him off the leash too. The man started encouraging his dog to play with Orso, revving Orso in the process. So Orso obliged running at the smaller dog knocking her down and rolling her across the road on her back. She growled and cried at the same time. I rushed forward to grab Orso and hook him back up on the leash, so the man could get to his dog. She stood up and limped around lifting her right front leg and not putting any weight on it.
I thought, great, Orso has maimed their dog. I can only imagine what the vet bill will be. May I can turn around and run away, quickly. Maybe they don’t know where we live. That thought only lasted a moment, because everybody knows where we live. I apologized profusely over and over. The man assured me she was fine and that it was his fault encouraging them to play, but I still felt terrible. And I knew deep down, they would blame us, having a dog that was such a brute. So, as soon as I could gracefully turn around, I said good-bye and walked home as quickly as possible. Trying to put as much space between us as possible.
Poor Orso, he just doesn’t realize how big he is and even at ten and a half years old, he has the energy level of a much younger dog. I have to find him a dog that is bigger than he is to play with, because I don’t make enough money to pay for emergency vet bills. And at this rate, word will spread about the big brown hulk and we’ll have to move again.
That completely describes Orso in one word. Ten years old and still a big dope that acts like a two-year-old puppy. He is the one dog I didn’t want. I didn’t want to go see him, I didn’t want to add another dog to the mix. We had two dogs at the time, AJ, our black lab, a super sweet beautiful dog with a steamer trunk full of issues and Charlie, our half breed, half chocolate lab and half German shorthair, who was animal aggressive and a bit unstable.
We had just gotten the two dogs settled into a routine and everyday life was going along fairly smoothly without any episodes for a while which was all I wanted, quiet and boring. Then one day Mitch came home and said that a coworker had a son who had a dog that he needed to get rid of. The dog was a nine-month-old chocolate lab, purportedly with papers and he wanted to “just go take a look see”. I said absolutely not, we had just gotten to a point in our lives that things were settled and quiet, the dogs were happy and content. I didn’t want to upset any balance in our lives.
I knew what would happen if we went. I knew without a doubt once I set eyes on a puppy he would be in the back of the station wagon headed home with us. That was why I fought it so hard and still I lost. We drove up and as soon as our car pulled into the driveway and this ninety-five pound brown clumsy puppy came bounding out of the garage I knew that it was last time that dog would ever sleep in that garage. We loaded him up and took him home. His name was Rebar, which I thought was a stupid name for a dog and that it was getting changed right away. I liked the word orso, which is Italian for bear, and I think it suits him just perfectly.
Orso has always been a big dumb beau hunk, falling over his feet and mine, getting in the way, knocking me down and always sporting a big goofy smile on his face. We didn’t get any papers as they were reportedly lost, so we had to take it on faith that he is actually a Labrador Retriever, though at the time we suspected there was a Saint Bernard lurking around in there because Orso was and still is one giant drool machine. He can sling drool as high as seven feet and with enough velocity to knock a fly out of the air if it gets in the way. He wasn’t much of a hunting dog, preferring to walk behind me and let me knock down the brush to clear a path for him. And as far as the term “Water Dog” goes, Orso would rather ride in a boat feeling the wind on his face than get wet swimming.
He got interested in birds, but instead of pheasants Orso prefers to flush robins, sparrows and his arch nemesis, crows. Out here crows are proliferate, with large numbers banding together to swoop down and walk around searching for food. It’s not unusual to see three or four crows walking around together just a few yards away from us. This makes Orso crazy that these large birds would totally dismiss him as irrelevant and not fly away. He has taken to stalking them on leash then at the right moment Orso will stand up on his hind legs and give them a loud woof to try and make them fly. Because that is so effective the birds fly a short distance then shout back at him.
He’s the one dog I didn’t want, he’s totally devoted to me and now I’m just as devoted to him. Yes, he’s a goofball but he’s my goofball.
Funerals are for the living; the dead don’t care because they are dead. Funerals are there to bring closure to the family and friends. For me the whole process of the funeral, from notifying the funeral home, buying the casket or urn and arranging the services at the funeral home and graveside, is long and tedious and does nothing to aid in the grieving and healing process. I also must admit I am bitter from past experiences with my mother and father’s funerals. So my opinions are quite biased and slanted.
My father in-law died last week, necessitating a trip to Texas for his funeral. This was a trip neither of us wanted to make, we had been pretty much estranged from his family for years. There was tension and hard feelings over the years with his father. Don’t get me wrong, Mitch loved his father, he just couldn’t be around him for any period time without the past being dredged up. Lets’ suffice it to say, Mitch had a misspent youth, part of his charm.
We made hurried travel arrangements, taking Orso to a dog spa and me reserving the hotel room. I found one close to the airport and an hour away from the funeral home, thus keeping his exposure to his family limited and maybe saving me bail money. Our flight got in Austin at midnight and after picking up the rental car we got to the hotel around one in the morning. We ended up getting about four hours sleep before heading off through the Texas hill country to the funeral home.
We parked the car and slowly walked into the funeral home, dreading the first salvo of family comments, but everyone was on their best behavior. We met the pastor that was going to preside over the service, a nice young man who obviously didn’t know my father in-law. We were asked if we wanted to go look at my father in-law, (a ghoulish tradition, in my opinion), something I have never been able to do. I waited outside until Mitch and gone in to see him, maybe to make sure he was dead and not just an elaborate ruse to get Mitch to come for a visit. I’m pretty sure he probably poked him to convince himself his father was really dead.
After the casket was closed we were ushered in as the service started. The pastor began his sermon with a short eulogy about his father, which was the obituary, chapter and verse printed on the memorial, then said we would listen to a song. I was expecting a hymn, but no not a hymn, a song by Neil Diamond, which the pastor said was my father in-law’s favorite singer. Who knew? I looked over at Mitch, who had this look of utter disbelief on his face. I turned my head and looked at the pastor who was sitting there with his eyes closed and head bobbing up and down rocking out to Neil Diamond. It was hard to not laugh out loud.
After the song ended, the pastor started speaking again, saying some prayer. Since I am not religious I couldn’t name one prayer from another. After the prayer, he spoke for a few minutes then asked if anyone had anything to say or share a memory about my father in-law. A man stood up and related a story about the time my father in-law spent on a mine sweeper during World War II relating a story about a man dying during a battle and how interesting the story was to him. I thought that was an odd story to tell and almost stood up myself to relate a memory of my first hunting trip with him, but didn’t.
I would have told about opening day of pheasant hunting in Western Kansas. That for three hundred and sixty-four days, cars drive up and down the country roads with people stopping along the side of the road opening and closing car doors, but on the three hundred and sixty-fifth day of the year, the opening day of pheasant hunting season, a closed-door meant one thing, Pheasant Hunters! So while we were getting our guns out of the truck walking around, the dogs going nuts in the back of the truck, the one thing we always heard from him was, “Don’t slam the doors, it will scare off the birds.” Oh please. I figured that story would not be well received so I kept my mouth shut.
After the memory sharing, another Neil Diamond song and a rocking out pastor. This was getting entertaining. The pastor closed the funeral with a traditional song, “Amazing Grace.” Then came the announcement that there would be a last viewing of the deceased. I almost tripped over Mitch trying to get out of the row and out of the room faster than they could open the casket.
After everyone walked by the casket again for a final viewing, we got in the rental car for the drive to the cemetery. Another surprise, we had a police escort (not unusual) but this one had both city police and county sheriffs as escorts. One in the front, one in the back and one would race up the road to the intersections and stop all traffic. Oncoming drivers would pull over and wait patiently for us to pass. Very touching. I chalked it up to small town people.
As we pulled up to the burial spot there were eleven men in military uniforms waiting for us. There was a flag draped over the casket and chairs facing it. We sat down and the pastor said a few words then turned it over to the Honor Guard that was waiting. Two men walked up to either end of the casket and picked up each end of the flag and stopped, waiting. Another man stood in the middle of the casket to help hold the flag. A fourth man walked up to the podium and spoke in the microphone explaining the meaning of the flag and the eighteen-gun salute. The men folded the flag until it was a long narrow strip, then the man at the podium started explaining what each fold meant. At the last fold, the second man tucked the end of the flag into the folds. Then the six men fired three shots each, and one of the men picked up three spent shells and brought them to the men holding the flag. One of the men placed each shell in the flag and explained what each shell meant, Duty, Honor, Country. The speaker at the podium walked over saluted the man holding the flag and took it from him. He then walked over to my mother in-law, saluted her and presented her the flag. Then one of the men played Taps on his bugle and sounded so soulful and sad. It was all very special and something I had never seen before.
So far so good, everyone was on their best behavior, the day was sunny and hot and just as I was thinking we were in the clear, one of Mitch’s cousins called over to me to warn me that I was standing on a fire ant mound. Super, and I was wearing open toe sandals. Fire ant stings burn like an acid burn and the only thing that works to remove the burn is to pour bleach on the stings.
Ah the hill country in Texas, I am so glad we live in the Pacific Northwest.