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Tub Time

22 Dec

Richard jumped into the tub just as the local classical radio station’s Winter Wonderland Sing-Along began. That’s perfect, I thought. It will help pass the ten minutes Richard has to stay in the tub to let the medicated shampoo work its magic.

The program opened with a professional musician running listeners through some vocal warm-ups. As I buzzed my lips and fa-la-la-ed my way up the scale, Richard cocked his head at my silliness. I broke into a round of Deck the Halls, along with the radio. Richard cocked his head the other way.

And I began to wonder, could Richard howl?

To a basset owner, there is no sound more beautiful than the baying of a hound. Of my five bassets, only Louie, my only male until Richard, could howl. I once amazed musical friends with a clip of him howling, in time, to the Hallelujah chorus. He was one-of-a-kind.

As the radio moved from Deck the Halls to Lo How A Rose E’er Blooming and O Holy Night. My French-Canadian mother, who was no singer, always called that last one, Minuit Chrétien. We’d run for cover when she sang it, but it might just be the perfect song to see if Richard could howl.

I sang along.

He looked at me.

I decided he needed more intervention and dropped the words.

I howled.

He looked at me in silence.

Then I heard a low rumble from his chest. Richard moaned, and before long we were howling together. In the bathroom. A Covid Christmas carol.

Wishing you all the happiest of HOWLIDAYS!

Interesting

17 Nov

The man was sitting on the low brick wall that curved into the park from the entrance. I saw him from a distance, my homeless person senses tingling. There are a number of tents and car-homes on permanent deployment near the park and the residents spend a lot of time in the park. For the most part, they are friendly, as this gentleman was.

Wearing a hat and face mask, my hearing is sometimes impaired. I clearly heard him say, “Do you have five,” but the ending was cut off. I assumed his last word was dollars, and I smiled with my eyes as Richard and I began to walk past silently.

“Just five minutes,” he continued. “I am doing sketches and you are interesting to me.” Well, flattery gets you many places, so I stopped.

“Well, I haven’t felt interesting for a while,” I laughed from a safe distance away.

“That’s a basset hound, right?” he continued. “We had a basset growing up.His name was McGee. We gave him that name thinking we were getting an Irish Setter, but we got hom. He was a good dog.”

“This is Richard,” I said as I watched him sketch, looking from Richard and I back to his sketchbook, his hand moving all the while. I gave him a little bit of Richard’s story and he shared some stories about McGee. He wasn’t wearing a mask, and, from the way he spoke, I got a sense that he’d had a hard life, or had some developmental issues. He wore no mask and I still had no clue as to whether he was an occupant of the encampment around the park. He was just a friendly guy.

“I’m done,” he announced suddenly, holding his notebook up for me to see. There were several sketches of Richard, from different angles. We wished each other a good day and Richard trotted forward – he’s a fast walker – as I heard the man ask someone else if they had five minutes. I heard the ending clearly that time.

Feeding the Beast

21 Jul

Thank you for bringing Lucy in today. She is such a sweet old girl! She has a severe moist dermatitis infection on her ventral chest area and is very itchy….

So began last week’s report from the vet.

Lucy came home with two types of pills and a shaved chest. After the first round of medication, she was already scratching less. And she slept better.

And then the side effects set in.

The antibiotic she is on, Cephalexin, has a list of possible side effects

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Skin rashes

 

She vomited twice. Her appetite is off and as each meal rolls around, I have to get creative.

Each meal starts with two bits of naan, each spread with peanut butter, then rolled up to conceal the meds I have hidden inside. Knock on wood, but, so far, these have been well received. Her bowl of food is a different matter. When she first turned up her nose at her bowl of kibble, she deigned to eat it when I sprinkled small bits of turkey jerky on top. I usually reserve the jerky for positive reinforcement on walks, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

After a few doses of the meds, she turned away from her food, so I tried chicken and rice. It worked for one meal. I tried sprinkling probiotics on top. One day, I got a spoonful of peanut butter and scooped some onto individual kibbles in the hopes it would encourage her to eat. It did not. Today, when she turned up her nose at my offerings, I looked in the fridge, grabbed the bag of shredded carrot and sprinkled some on top. Success!

She has three more days of Cephalexin. I am hopeful that I have enough food toppers in the fridge to get her through.

Lucy Turns 14

 

Allergic to baths

30 Mar

Lucy and I share many characteristics: we both like to stay home, we both like a cozy blanket, and we both have grass allergies. In fact, we take the exact same medication. My vet told me it was okay, for the record.

My eyes have been itchy and I have had some nasal congestion and sneezing, which, these days, makes me worry a bit. Lucy’s grass allergy manifests in a slightly different way. Her feet and tummy get itchy, and with the itching comes the gnawing and the  accompanying sounds, which are a little gross and a lot loud. The allergy medication keeps her skin under control most of the time, but every March, we have to take things a step further – all the way to the bathtub. And that is where we went yesterday.

I’ve written before about how much Lucy hates the bath. I didn’t have to chase her down this time because, after years of study, I have learned to trick her into entering the bathroom. When I close the door, though, she knows she’s been duped.

It surprises me that she falls for it, because I due her the same way at the vet and when she boards. We walk together to “the door of doom” and then it closes behind her. The only difference between the bathroom and those two places  is that I am behind the closed door with her.

As on any bath day, Lucy stood next to the door, hoping the fickle finger of fate would open it. It has never done so in the past and did not do so yesterday. I scooped her up and  set her in the tub. She acquiesced, as she always does when in this position. The terrible deed was over in ten minutes  – that’s how long the shampoo is supposed to stay on before being rinsed off. Out of the tub, a quick pat down and Lucy tears around the house, trying to regain her doggie scent.

Yesterday, though, she got the last laugh. Shortly after her bath, we went out for a walk. She did not return quite as clean as she left the house.

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Happy 10th Gotcha Day, Lucy

17 Jan

Ten years ago yesterday, I drove out to Sherwood to pick up Lucy from the foster home where she’d been staying. In honor of this auspicious occasion, here are three of my favorite books featuring basset hounds.

Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan

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Publisher’s Summary: Jake Semple is notorious. Rumor has it he managed to get kicked out of every school in Rhode Island, and actually burned the last one down to the ground.

Only one place will take him now, and that’s a home school run by the Applewhites, a chaotic and hilarious family of artists: poet Lucille, theater director Randolph, dancer Cordelia, and dreamy Destiny. The only one who doesn’t fit the Applewhite mold is E.D.—a smart, sensible girl who immediately clashes with the defiant Jake.

Jake thinks surviving this new school will be a breeze . . . but is he really as tough or as bad as he seems?

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

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Publisher’s Summary:

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:  Debate Club.  Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”  A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:  A knockout figure.  A sharp tongue.  A chip on her shoulder.  And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend:  the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Landau-Banks.  No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.  Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.  Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.  Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.  When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.  And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:  Possibly a criminal mastermind.  This is the story of how she got that way.

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

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Publisher’s Summary: Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn’t know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

The Creep

7 Jan

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Lucy starts the night on her side of the bed. This is usually on the side closest to the wall because I read or knit in bed before going to sleep and like to be near the light and the side table.

At some point during the night one of us has to get up. Whether it is just me, or both if us, Lucy usually takes the spot where I’d been sleeping. If I was the one to get up, Lucy steals the warm spot I left behind. If we both get up, I like to switch to the wall side because I know the creep will happen soon.

The Creep starts in the middle of the night, when the bedroom is colder than it had been when we first went to sleep. We are both blessed with the innate ability to fall back asleep quickly. In this second round of sleep, Lucy decides she wants to get closer. My heart thinks it is love. My brain knows it is all about body heat because Lucy is a heat vampire.

She wedges herself closer to me. I adapt. More wedging. More adaptation. Until I wake up and she is in the middle of the bed and I am relegated to the mattress quarter nearest the wall. Fortunately, I know this is coming and have a secret strategy to ensure I get the majority of the bedding. It’s a win-win.

 

 

 

 

Lucy’s Haiku Series

24 Mar

Lucy’s nails had grown long. Because her nails are black, I can’t see the quick.  I am afraid to cut them they way I confidently cut her predecessors’ nails. So, Saturday, we made a trip to the vet for a professional trim. Here is a haiku series I think she could have written.

Lucy's Paws

 

We are in the car
Should I feel worry or joy
I start to tremble.

Shake shake shake shake shake
Drool drool droll drool drool drool drool
Shake shake shake shake shake

The door of doom looms
We have come to the place where
They torture me

I don’t like other dogs
But I hate this place more so
I ignore the others

The mean girl bribes me
Back, to the torture chamber
She cuts off my toes

Finally back to Mom
I will stare out the front door
Until we can leave

The drive home is short
And I am soon home, sweet home
Time for a nap.

Lucy's Paw

 

Helping Howard

19 Feb

The message from the Oregon Basset Hound Rescue president  came Friday night: Could someone get to the Humane Society on Saturday to take a look at a dog? Howard had been returned to OHS a second time and they were asking for OBHR’s help finding him a new home.

I’d been planning to do my taxes Saturday morning, then spending the rest of the day knitting. But, I live closest to OHS, so I said I’d do it. I was told to wear black (Howard was reported to be afraid of people in black) and  arrive before OHS opened. I was to go right in once the doors opened  and let them know who I was – they’d be expecting me.

There were two small crowds out front when I arrived. The crowd closest to the doors were clearly potential adopters, eager to find their furry soulmate. They were older that the crowd further back. I initially assumed these were volunteers, but, using my excellent powers of eavesdropping, I learned they were veterinary students coming for a tour.

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When the doors opened, I queued up and waited my turn. they were expecting me and before I knew it I was being escorted to a meeting room. It wasn’t the sort of meeting room you might imagine. this was a room designed for an intimate meet and greet.

When Howard came in he showed no fear of my black clothes. In fact he was sweet and curious, sniffing all over to get to know this new room.

He came when called and demonstrated how well he could sit (and wait) for a treat. he also demonstrated his excellent climbing skills.

Howard came to Oregon from a kill shelter in California in the Second Chance program. He had been picked up as a stray a few times and the last time, his owners declined to come and get him. The shelter thought he might be adoptable in Oregon so he was sent here.  Apparently, Howard is such a devoted family member he is very vocal if left alone, and so he was adopted and  returned to OHs. Twice.

Despite his sad early life,  Howard is a lover. He is such a lover that he has a big old heart on his side. He is a model canine and OHS staff use him to model leash-walking for new arrivals. Maybe that’s why he has a gold star beside his heart.

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If I didn’t have to work, and if Lucy were friendlier to other dogs, I’d have taken him home myself.

I was a little sad to see him go, but hopeful we could spread the news about Howard to the OBHR community.

I am hopeful that Howard will soon be in a home with a retiree or a new friend works from home. Maybe I’ll have a good news update during our March Slice of Life Challenge.

 

Life with Lucy

27 Mar

Lucy's Nose

Lucy is a pretty low maintenance dog.

Although she doesn’t enjoy it, she will let me give her a bath.

She doesn’t enjoy nail trims either, but she will let me clip her toenails. All my other dogs tried to pull their paws out of my hand when I tried to trim their nails. Lucy keeps hers there and likes to eat the clippings. I let her. I figure it is the canine equivalent of biting her nails and it is her reward for cooperating.

The only thing she really hates is getting her ears cleaned.

As soon as I go to the cupboard where the ear cleaner is kept, she starts paying attention. When she sees the container, she tries to hide, so I generally try to act nonchalant, hiding the bottle behind my back. I will do a few other things before sidling up to her, ear cleaner, cotton rounds and hands still behind my back.

As soon as she realizes that I tricked her again, doggone it, she tries to bolt. But, I am a stealthy ear cleaner. I have her literally cornered on the sofa. There is no escape. She bears the indignity on the first ear and I can see the little wheels turning in her brain as I switch to the second. I block her so she can’t escape before she gets the other ear done.

When the ordeal is over she runs away, shaking her head and rubbing her ears on the floor and sofa. At this point I usually offer her a treat, followed by a walk. By the time we get home, I have been forgiven.

Lucy’s Seven

8 Mar

I’ve never had a dog that liked any kind of citrus, but Lucy loves mandarin oranges. She has mastered the art of getting what she wants à la Steven Covey.

1. Stephen Covey says: Be proactive.

Lucy says: Always be in the room where the mandarin is being eaten.

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2.Stephen Covey says: Begin with the end in mind.

Lucy says: Visualize that tiny morsel of deliciousness sliding down your throat and into your tummy.

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3.Stephen Covey says: Put first things first.

Lucy says: It is important and urgent that I get a slice of that mandarin.

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4.Stephen Covey says: Think win-win. 

Lucy says: A piece for Mommy, a piece for Lucy. Sounds like a win-win, to me!

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5.Stephen Covey says: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Lucy says: You want me to to sit. Look, I am sitting for the next slice.

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6. Stephen Covey says: Synergize.

Lucy says: Together, Mommy and I can polish off that mandarin in no time.

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7.Stephen Covey says: Sharpen the saw.

Lucy says: We’ve had a snack, let’s take one more walk before bedtime.

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