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As many of you know, Bob and I have listed our mountain home for sale. Which means when we are not in Nashville, we must vacate the premises periodically for a “showing” to potential buyers. In other words, super-clean the house and pack up Ms Bean for a two hour tour – cue the Gilligan’s Island theme song now!

You might think this is easy.

After all, we have no children in the house; no crumbs, or petrified hot dogs lurking about. A petrified mouse in the basement? Maybe. After all, we are a country house in the forest, with a long gravel driveway and a buried gas tank and a well…sooo, our windows may get dusty but more importantly, our dog gets car sick. Really, really car sick.

The first time we packed Ms Bean up for a ride into town we gave her the Vet’s super-duper anti-nausea pill. It must be given at least two hours ahead of time and costs about $20 per pill. This is the pill she gets for the nine hour ride to TN and the six hour ride to NJ. It lasts about 24 hours and I have to admit can make her a little loopy. We had a great time on the Historic Downtown Mall where dogs are welcome and almost every store is dog-friendly.

The second time a realtor called, we decided to try some people medicine on her, even though the Vet warned us against this tactic. Generic Benadryl costs a nickel for each 25 mg pill. On GoodRx, a coupon site for drugs, it’s half that price; pennies per pill. And its duration would be only four hours, which was more than enough time for someone to walk through our house and find their way down to the river.

It was a hazy, hot and muggy summer day, so we drove just a few miles to a local antique mall. I sheepishly asked the woman at the counter if my dog could come in, or should I leave her with my husband in the car? “She’s a very good dog,” I pleaded. Lucky for us, the woman calculated correctly, that a man sitting with a dog while his wife shops is a Win-Win. Bob was happy and Ms Bean was just fine! There was no foaming at the mouth, Benadryl for the goal!

Yesterday was the third time we had to pack up the dog, and yesterday was the charm. Since the weather was cooperating, dappled sunshine high 70s, we decided to stay in the neighborhood and take her for a walk. And we didn’t medicate her. We drove down the mountain to a development nearby and parked the car. Everything was going according to plan when I thought I saw a bear in the woods. Bean was pulling me hard toward a big black shape stomping through the leaves, but it turned out to be a goat! Mission accomplished. Car-sickness and bear-shaped goats were in our rear-view window.

And Ms Bean was fine! Our little special needs pup experienced no gagging, or foaming, she just curled up and relaxed for the ride.

So in anticipation of more impromptu, realtor-related car trips this summer, I suggested to Bob the idea of a service animal vest for Bean, that would get us out of the heat and into some air conditioning! After researching this a bit, we discovered you can purchase an “emotional support” vest for your dog on Amazon for about a hundred dollars. I mean what dog isn’t an emotional sponge for their owners? Some sites even offer certification, obviously the government hasn’t regulated these things which is why you may see a parrot on your next flight to Disney World.

Still, I’m a basically honest person and it just doesn’t seem right. Instead, I’d like to design a new vest for dogs – the “Shopping Support” vest! I will train my dog to sit and stay when she sees me pick up something I don’t need. If I don’t put it down immediately, she will lay down and not move. A silent protest. I will look down at her, come to my senses, and place the dreaded, overpriced article back on the shelf. This could work for any addiction. A second glass of wine? Walking toward a casino? The OCD dog vest could revolutionize treatment for millions of people.

I wonder if the new Republican Senate Healthcare bill would cover these vests? https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/whats-in-the-senate-republican-health-care-bill/531258/

After a long day in the car, Ms Bean rests her weary head on the lookout for rabbits. IMG_0846

 

 

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We are en route to the South of France by way of London. We will be there for their election. But Bob left it up to me to pick a hotel in UK for three days, so I asked cousin Nancy for help. She seems to find the best boutique hotels in her travels, and she certainly hit the jackpot with this one.

The Egerton House Hotel offers, “The best combination of townhouse grandeur and personalized English hospitality.” It’s within walking distance of Harrod’s and the Victoria and Albert Museum in a quaint residential area. We look out our top floor window over red brick chimneys and  gardens.

The staff remembers our names and they like to keep the room key when we go out. Everyone is exceptionally pleasant and helpful. They don’t just recommend a restaurant, they walk you round the corner and point it out! But today, today feeling a bit jet lagged, we staggered back to our little oasis and wandered into Tea… for the dogs!

The lovely front parlor is adjacent to the bar and Tea was being served. Since today is a Bank Holiday being May Day and all, there were a total of three children and four dogs among the Tea crowd. I met a four month old Springer Spaniel, a teenage English Setter and two Bichons.

Dog Tea is served in a three tiered rack of bowls. At the bottom is a beef and lamb meatloaf, the middle holds some fancy biscuits and on the top, doggy ice cream of course!

I thought about all our beloved dogs. Our German Shepherd Bones, who slept under the Bride’s crib. Our Corgi Blaze, who sang his heart out whenever the Rocker played his violin. And Buddha, who knew the secrets of the universe.

I missed Ms Bean, our sweet special needs dog, and wondered how she would do in such a posh setting. Or would she prefer to chase deer and hunt rabbit like the Yankee mixed breed she is, oblivious to high Tea with pedigree friends.

Tonight we’ll take in a show, The Book of Mormon, which should be fun!

I’m reading Emma Donoghue’s new book, “The Wonder” about a British nurse tending to an Irish Catholic child. And I was thinking of Lennon’s song Imagine – imagine having “no religion.”

An American prophet, an Irish writer and a British Beatle. Maybe the ticket to globalization could be our love of dogs – not nationality or religion. A religion for dog lovers everywhere. No dietary devices or dress codes. Cat aficionados would be welcome as well. All it would take to belong would be a furry friend.

And a spot of tea.  

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April showers are nourishing all the perennials we just planted, but if you are a migratory bird looking to nest in Florida, you’d be plain out of luck. Wading birds like egrets and herons depend on fresh, clean water from rivers meeting the sea in estuaries on our coasts for their food supply, and scientists have been putting on waders to count their nests this time of year. Considering Mr T’s deep cuts to the EPA, this Audubon report is troubling:

The latest South Florida Wading Bird Report, which was published last week, offers signs of trouble for the birds and the places they live. During this nesting season, which ran from December 2015 to July 2016, surveyors were disappointed to find 26,676 nests total. That’s just one-third the number of nests tallied during 2009, one of the best nesting years in decades, and the lowest nest census since the 2007-2008 season. Of the indicator species, only two (Great Egrets and White Ibises) met their nest recovery goals. The only bird to show an above-average nesting season last year was the Roseate Spoonbill. http://www.audubon.org/news/floridas-wading-birds-had-terrible-breeding-season-last-year

We had a Great Blue Heron swoop over our Rumson garage every morning to fish in the Shrewsbury River. When you live so close to the ocean, you begin to notice the rise and fall of tidewater by the line of black silt on your Corgis’ short legs, which would sometimes cover their bellies. “Swamp Dogs” was our affectionate term for Toots and Blaze. My sister Kay was kind enough to immortalize that mother/son duo in a 1993 watercolor.

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But it’s the long, stilt-like legs of Great Egrets that are helping them navigate the rising seawater levels due to Climate Change.

And now we have a circus/barker/climate/denier as the Leader of the Free World who would like to dismantle and disrupt the federal government, and return power to “the states.” I’ve always wondered why Republicans even pursue public service when they hate it so much! If any of you are still wondering about the loss of Arctic ice or if keeping that house your aunt left you on the Jersey Shore is a good idea, take a look at Leonardo diCaprio’s interactive global temperature map. It looks like there may be a quarter of Rumson left after the flood. Seriously.

“Every fraction of a degree of global warming sets in motion sea level rise that will profoundly threaten coastal cities across the world,” explains Dr. Benjamin Strauss from Climate Central. “[Our map] shows the incredible stakes and urgency of our climate choices.”

https://www.beforetheflood.com/explore/the-crisis/sea-level-rise/

Now that you’ve put in your city, and the visual has sunk in and maybe you’ve “woke up” think about these cuts to the federal budget. Keep calling your legislators people, dig out your Wellies (English for waders or rain boots), and start looking for higher ground while planning your retirement

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Things are springing up around our little house. Crocus are about to bloom, daffodil leaves are reaching for the sun, and temperatures have been hovering around 70. No bugs or humidity yet; “This is what California is like all the time,” I said to Bob in my most ingratiating tone of voice.

When we were living in New England, this time of year was called “Mud Season.” Snow was melting and everyone coveted a “mud” room, a place to ditch your dirty clothes and hats and gloves and boots before entering your house. The rest of the country might call this a back porch. But Berkshire sentimentality aside, I love seeing bluebirds playing on my deck. Spying a Tiffany-blue breast makes me want to break out in song!

Bob breaks out the tractor and the gardening tools. For him, this is pruning season. When we built this house we picked out every tree and shrub, which means we now must keep them from enveloping us entirely. My French friend looked us up on Google earth and said we must live in a forest, and she’s right. Our tract of land demands constant vigilance! A herd of deer trim our most succulent new growth all winter, and now it’s time for Bob to play his part.

The viburnum, the hydrangeas, the crepe myrtles! No one is immune to Bob’s pruning shears, loppers and hedge trimmers.

Ms Bean must do her part too. She refuses to come in when all the gardening work begins. She offers up a tiny dead field mouse to our back door, while Bob shows me an abandoned bird’s nest at the front door. These “gifts” are received calmly, while I check to see if anyone has taken up residence in the bluebird houses Great Grandpa Hudson put up years ago. Anyone that is, besides the flying squirrel who scared me half to death with her bulging black eyes!

But usually I prefer more indoor activities. The National Men’s Indoor Tennis championships have been taking place at our gym, so exciting matches are on the docket all the time. And when I’m not watching tennis, I was learning how to string and knot pearls this past weekend. It’s slightly meditative once you get the hang of it. It’s an escape from the news.

When a friend told me she and her husband were in a Jewish Community Center yesterday when a bomb threat was phoned in, I didn’t realize it was one of many seemingly coordinated around the country. And I wondered if the Love Bug’s preschool was shut down again for the third time since Mr T’s inauguration. And a knot formed in my stomach, the kind that’s always there whenever I try to suppress an emotion.

I wonder how a president who shouts down an orthodox reporter and scolds him for asking  a complex question about anti-semitism, only to bring up his polling numbers again and again can possibly protect this nation and heal our divided people.

Here is my second attempt at knots, with pearls and lapis – a “so-called” selfie/portrait with Bean and an old gardening broom in the background. img_0119

 

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It’s been three weeks. The new laundry room door just went up, the vents and smoke detectors are going up as I type, and the painters are touching up all over the place. It will be good to get our house back, but to be honest Ms Bean will miss the constant company. Granted she barks initially, but then she warms up and keeps track of everyone. My little, lazy, adorable mutt transforms into a real watchdog! She wakes every morning with a sense of purpose; sitting in front of the front hall windows and listening for the sound of trucks.

Poor baby, the contractors will be done today, just in time for the Fourth of July Fireworks. Anyone with a pup knows the sounds of summer can drive them to distraction – to hiding in bath tubs and even sometimes running away given half the chance. Great Grandma Ada told me about this article, which I had to read on my phone since I couldn’t find my computer.

By some estimates, at least 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety, which is most pronounced in the summer. Animal shelters report that their busiest day for taking in runaway dogs is July 5. Veterinarians tell of dogs who took refuge in hiding places so tight that they got stuck, who gnawed on door handles, who crashed through windows or raced into traffic — all desperate efforts to escape inexplicable collisions of noise and flashing light.                                          http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/06/28/why-thunder-and-fireworks-make-dogs-anxious/?_r=0

It was a rainy, stormy day when the Bride and Groom graduated from medical school. We had a few people staying in our newly built house, and the last one out must not have latched the door. Because when we returned several hours later, the kitchen door was wide open and Buddha Bear came strolling around the corner with an accusatory look in his eyes. As if he was saying, “Where have you guys been?”

He also managed to lock himself in our guest bathroom during a storm. I returned home and called his name so many times my throat was hoarse. Buddha wasn’t a barker. Before I started to panic and jump in my car thinking he must be able to walk through walls, I noticed the bathroom door was shut. He was so big, when he tried getting into the tub he must have accidentally shut the door and he was just waiting patiently for me to free him!

Ms Bean wasn’t anxious in thunderstorms before she watched Buddha’s behavior. Now, she becomes a twitchy, shaking mess stuck permanently to my knee. We stroll into the laundry room and I pull out a dryer sheet, the kind without any perfume. She looks at me longingly and submits to my hand stroking her whole body, head to tail, with the little piece of paper as her body relaxes. Long ago I read that a rubdown with a Bounce sheet would reduce the static electricity on her fur; and now I’m a believer.

I’m not a pill person, but of course in the NYTimes article above there is a new medicine for dog anxiety during storms and fireworks. I’d rather just go into a windowless room with my dryer sheet and comfort Ms Bean. After all, she’s been through alot these past three weeks. She already has to take a pill in order to ride in a car, so I don’t want a loopy puppy in the house all summer. Vets say it’s best to desensitize your dog to noise.

But carpenters hammering the basement ceiling under the floor of our living room was pretty strange, and not soon to be repeated. All the building noises are almost done, so relax Ms Bean for a little while. Your world is safe and secure. Time to get back to lying on the deck and watching for deer and vermin!

Hope y’all have a safe and Happy Fourth and a strees-free summer time with your fur babies! Here is Ms Bean in the Zen shade garden.IMG_4763

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Traveling with dogs can be tricky. Particularly when your dog is a rescue who starts gagging the moment you ask her if she wants to go for a ride.

We never had a dog who didn’t love jumping into any moving vehicle when invited for a ride. Buddha Bear would leap onto the Piper Arrow’s wing and happily sit beside Bob as his co-pilot! The Corgis always cuddled under the plane’s seats. So watching Ms Bean run away from the hanger and foam at the mouth while sitting in the back seat of my Honda was disturbing, and finally led us to the Vet for canine anti-nausea drugs.

But watching Johnny Depp and his wife Amber Heard apologize for bringing their dogs illegally into Australia was even more disturbing. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/apr/18/johnny-depps-wife-amber-heard-pleads-guilty-over-bringing-dogs-to-australia

Yorkies “Pistol” and “Boo,” due to the last-minute sacking of one of Heard’s assistants, did not have all their proper doggie paperwork completed, which led Heard to outright lie on the immigration form as they landed in their private jet. Some excuses seem to work I guess, although I would caution anyone to check (YES) when asked if you are carrying animals into another country, certainly if you happen to have two terriers in mini-mesh-carry-ons. When threatened with deportation, death, or ten years in jail, eh quarantine, Heard and Depp agreed to film their apology.

Heard’s punishment, a one-month good behaviour bond of $1,000, was an anti-climactic end to a Hollywood clash with Canberra in an imbroglio dubbed the “war on terrier”.Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan said the video, played to her Gold Coast court on Monday, was “of far more benefit to this country” as a warning to would-be illegal importers than any conviction recorded against Heard.

The scripted video that played in court looked as if some mind control expert had taken over the couple’s souls. Depp tells us to “Declare everything” at the end, as if only the truth will set you free! I kept looking at him thinking they must have to use more make-up to age his pirate persona since he seems to be getting younger. As part of their sentencing, the video has now become a viral sensation, and may get more views than Depp’s latest rendition of Captain Jack Sparrow. Maybe they could rename this next Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, “Dead Dogs Tell No Tales?”

As for us, on last month’s trip to NJ – her maiden voyage – Ms Bean did just fine with her pill onboard. She even got to play with a Jack Russell visiting from Arkansas. Now she runs toward the car when we ask if she wants to come along! And we may just have to pack her up and evacuate if the wind shifts and this Shenandoah wildfire starts moving in our direction. It has burned over 2,000 acres and the smoke is affecting my eyes and lungs. This was our view last night. IMG_4282

 

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jack-russell
Well we didn’t have a three dog night. In fact, NY and NJ are feeling somewhat slighted by the blizzard, while the Blue Ridge simply got a dusting. Ms Bean was snuggled tight in her little cave; her bed is under a credenza next to my side of the bed. Her snoring is my night music. I’m still waiting to rescue a Corgi so we can be a two dog family once again. But before I tell you about my matchmaking skills with a male Jack Russell dog named Mona, let’s go over why owning and loving a dog is good for our health.

The American Heart Association actually issued a statement saying that pet ownership, particularly dogs, is associated with a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, and it can also increase your chance for survival after having a heart attack! http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Owning-a-Pet-May-Protect-You-from-Heart-Disease_UCM_453586_Article.jsp

…there are a variety of reasons that may be at work that influence this relationship. It may be that healthier people are more likely to be pet owners or that people with dogs tend to exercise more. Pets also play a role in providing social support to their owners, which is an important factor in helping you stick with a new habit or adopting a new healthy behavior.

I used to walk my first Corgi Tootsie Roll two miles every day, until one day we were approaching Rumson Road and she wanted to turn around. Every day she was cutting our walk in half! I told the vet she must be getting Alzheimer’s, but he said she was smart. She was getting older and I would have to accommodate. So I just walked the same mile twice; once with Toots and her son Blaze, and twice with Blaze. I called this my “meditative walk,” and it helped me think and prepare my mind for writing.

Little did I know it was also helping my heart. But who would have thought that rescuing a dog could open your heart to love? And I don’t just mean the furry kind.

While our family was vacationing in FL last week we got together with Meredith, an old Med School friend of the Bride and Groom. It just so happens she is a practicing Ob-Gyn in Tampa. The Love Bug played with her sweet son in the pool for hours, while Meredith did her best to sell the doctor couple on the pleasures of practicing medicine in the Sunshine State. And then I just had to ask, “How’s Mona?”

You see I feel personally responsible for Meredith’s marriage! One day long ago BC (before children) in med school, Meredith told me she wanted a dog. I accompanied her to the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA and we found a little male Jack Russell, who was full of energy and a kissing machine. It was love at first lick! I would grand dog sit him when she had to do an away rotation and he got on splendidly with my crew. Little did I know that within a few months Meredith met her future husband at a dog park with his Jack Russell, and the rest is herstory!

Dogs are not only good for your heart, they are great for your love life! And Mona is still alive and kicking.

the Maid of Honor, the Bride, the MOB, and Merdith

the Maid of Honor, the Bride, the MOB, and Merdith

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