Laurie, Fudge, and Vern's Posts (342)

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Fireworks and Doodles, Oh My!

I hate fireworks. I am not going to beat around the bush and start by saying I only hate some fireworks, maybe just the loud boom ones. No, I hate them all. As a kid I used to watch them and later when I had kids, we would drive somewhere in horrible traffic so we could watch an hour’s worth of flashes only to have to try and get back home before dawn in the bumper to bumper traffic. It was never my favorite experience and knowing me, I probably offered bribes to my children to make it more worth their while to stay home than to go.


Now that I have dogs that fear fireworks, I really hate them. We live at the lake and had I known that lake living means neighbors shoot off fireworks for days….last 4th of July it went on for five days….I really don’t think we would have moved here. My daughter tells me I am getting old when I complain. Keep in mind, she is also the same daughter who has no problem saying, “mom, that’s not a good look for you,” on almost every Skype call. I have tried explaining that in order for me to look better on Skype, I would have to have ten foot arms and the ability to use them to hold the monitor a good distance away from my face.  All she ever says is,  “maybe dad can hold the monitor in another room.” Even my grandson now says, “Meemaw, show me your creepy face,” sometimes when we Skype. I make a big production of screwing my face up in all kinds of different poses, but I suspect with parents like his it won’t be long until he says, “No, Meemaw, make your regular face!”


I am fine being called old, but watching my dogs suffer during all the loud booms makes me sad and mad. This year I decided to get some medicine for Fudge to take the edge off of her anxiety, but realized after one night, that the vet needs to tweak the dosage because Fudge was stoned. And by stoned, I mean out of her mind. I had to bring her in from outside because she kept getting herself stuck under a washtub I have on our patio for growing vegetables. She was convinced something was just outside her reach under our fence and seemed to think pawing the space in front of her would make her imaginary prey appear.   Fudge also had the munchies. She is a dog that eats like a bird, but that night, she ate her food down so quickly that of course it made a reappearance later in the evening. She kept prowling around the counter where her treats were kept and I was afraid at any time she was going to jump right up on the counter to find something that satisfied her cravings more than kibble. Fudge also kept licking and sniffing Vern, something she never does, and walked right over a sleeping Vern several times when walking around the living room. If you fail to see something as large as Vern in your path, there is a problem. I didn’t know if there was some kind of “fifty shades of Fudge” thing happening or she really didn’t see him, but I knew right then Fudge would never get the same dose of medicine again. The next morning, after finding her licking the bed sheets and making a mental note to self to change all the bed sheets, I called the vet to adjust her medicines.


We have had almost nine days straight of fireworks and loud booms and we still have to get through the weekend. This means we have had nine days straight of trying to move freely around our house without a dog underfoot. Nine days straight of going to the bathroom with two dogs crowding into your space and making even getting to the sink a trek. Nine days straight of trying to find Fudge’s hiding place in the house and telling Vern he is a brave boy. Nine days straight of second-guessing whether we can go out for a bite to eat or if we should just stay home. Nine days straight of cursing our neighbors and dreaming of a quieter place to live. I can honestly say the 4th of July is now my least favorite holiday ever. My worst memory ever of a 4th of July incident at my sister’s party when some guy asked our daughter, Hayley, if he could use her fork when she was finished, has now been replaced by the loud booms of this holiday making it sound like we are under attack. I swear if someone really were attacking our house, I am pretty sure I could single handedly take them down just imaging they are the ones making my life miserable this week. I am not usually a violent person, but I have been shouting things like, “I hope someone sticks a firecracker down their pants and their horsetail blows off!” and “I’d like to stick a roman candle up their nose!” Nose has also been replaced with other body parts on several occasions. Can you tell I have been researching names of fireworks to see if they are all legal in our area?


Around here, it seems like this holiday is THE one. Two restaurants that we visited this week had closed signs when we got there saying they were closed for the entire week. A niece sent me a quote from someone she knew and I will clean it up just a bit, but it essentially said, “When did a one day holiday become an excuse for drunk people to shoot off fireworks for an entire month?” The answer is I don’t know, but I have had enough fireworks in my life this week to last me my lifetime.

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Why Do We Do It? (In Memoriam)

Yesterday, I was talking to my sister on the phone while I was walking my dogs. In my case, there should be a law No talking, while walking because my dogs are able to sense that my attention is elsewhere and usually act out. Vern takes every opportunity to go right, when I go left and Fudge ups her hunting skills to expert level. At some point in our conversation, I told my sister I had to go because I needed both hands free and I told her to remind me that I was never getting another dog after Fudge and Vern. She started laughing and said no one believed that statement and it was as absurd as me telling her earlier that I was cutting back next Christmas. Who needs the truth from a sister, so I wisely hung up?


Recently on DK we have lost many of our beloved dogs. At the end of the year, I am reminded of the In Memoriam part of the Oscars where they bring out a beautiful singer and show the faces of the famous who died that year. It is starting to feel like that on DK and I don’t like it one bit. Just like the Oscars make you start to sense your own mortality, the list of our precious Doodles who have passed on start making you think about your dog’s mortality.


Rarely do our dogs outlive us and so many of us have lost a dog in the past, yet we are willing to put ourselves through it again and again. Do we even think about it when we go to pick out that cute puppy? I know I didn’t. I just knew I needed a dog and then another dog. Why are we willing to put ourselves through the business of getting a dog, falling in love with a dog, and losing it before we are ever ready? The only answer I can come up with is because there are just dog people who only feel complete and settled if they have a dog.


I know when I lost Hershey, I declared it loudly and often that we were never getting another dog. Hershey didn’t get the best of me and I often feel guilty about that. I didn’t want a dog at that time in my life, but because I was stupid enough to make a promise to our oldest daughter, we got a dog. Of course, despite all the promises that Megan would do everything for the dog, it quickly fell on me to add taking care of a dog to the long list of things I had to do. And without any training or much effort, Hershey turned out to be the best-trained dog I have ever had and the easiest dog of the ones I have had in my adult life. She became my youngest daughter’s best friend and will always be her heart dog. When she died, I was done. It took a few weeks for me to start looking for another dog and that brought crazy, and I mean truly crazy, Honey into our fold. When she died, I was so done. I wasn’t getting another dog ever. It was too much work, too much time, too much worry, too much responsibility, too much heartbreak, just too much.


Now, I have two dogs. Why do I keep getting myself into these situations where I know it can’t end well? The odds are I am going to outlive Fudge and Vern and the selfish part of me is glad about that, because no one could love these dogs like I do and know how to take care of them like I do. Whether that is true or not, I totally believe it. So, here we are. I have given my heart away to these dogs and because I understand how completely that can happen, I share the heartbreak with my friends when they lose their dogs. I guess I have to ask the question again…why do we do it?


The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it when I was much younger and have never forgotten the ending. “There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to outcarol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain… Or so says the legend.” 


To me, this is the answer. What a dog brings to our life is worth all the pain in the end of losing him or her too soon. It’s why we are willing to risk our heart time and time again. It's also the beauty of the human heart.  It can bend and stretch to make room for all the dogs that find their way to us. 

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There was a time I blogged a lot on Doodle Kisses. It seemed my dogs were always up to something and gave me lots of material. As they have gotten older, mostly I am still dealing with the same stuff I have blogged about for years, so I guess I have less and less to say. I mean, how many times can I blog that my dogs are terrible on leashes, think recall means I just keep re-calling them, and are sometimes on Santa’s naughty list? Well, at the ages of almost eight and nine respectively, Vern and Fudge have come up with some new behaviors.


The other week, I brought home from the grocery store some of my homemade chicken. John prepared himself a plate and then disappeared. John is like the Elf on the Shelf. I need to start offering gifts to the person who can find him when he is needed. Well, I was downstairs and heard a ruckus and came up to find John accusing Fudge of eating all his chicken. When I asked him why he was blaming Fudge, he said when he came around the corner he caught her with the last little bit of his chicken. Sounds like airtight evidence to me, but I was still mad at John for leaving my homemade chicken from the grocery store unattended and worried about Fudge and chicken bones. Luckily, it all came out in the end, and we are now much more careful about where we leave our food.


I love Hallmark Christmas movies. Always have and always will. There are a couple of people in my family who put them down and laugh that the same actors and actresses seem to get recycled over and over again into the leads of different movies. In fact, just the other day I had one on while I was baking my Christmas cookies and John kept insisting we had just seen the movie together the other night. The fact that it was the same actress, but completely didn’t plots, shows you how invested John is in these movies. I tried to explain to him that it is more about the good feelings these movies leave me with than the plot, so I guess the jokes he makes while I am watching them, are told to keep me laughing. There is something so sweet about the innocent romances that call to mind the old movies of years gone by and I hate when he is around when the romance starts to heat up. He’ll say something like, “looks like the North Pole just made an appearance,” as the two leads get ready to lock lips. “You could learn a thing or two from these movies, “ I’ll tell him, but then he’ll say something dumb back like, “Young Lady, let’s decorate the Christmas tree together and drink hot chocolate and eggnog. I am sure I have some Christmas balls around here somewhere.” Usually at this point, I hand him the remote and go to another room to finish my movie.


The other day I was watching Candace Cameron-Bure in a great movie, sure to become a classic, about two twins who switched places. Of course, John came to the bed in the middle of it and after my quick synopsis to get him up to speed, just said that it sounded like a really original plot that’s only been done like a hundred times. Anyways, there was a moment during the movie that I cried out, “I just said that last week!” when Candace told her boyfriend to always “adopt, don’t shop.” It’s the closest I have ever come to feeling like I was in a Hallmark movie in real life. Of course, I said it a bit differently than Candace, but it still counts.


It happened when John and I were walking our dogs up at the park and a car turned up the road where we were walking. Fudge and Vern have a thing that they do and it drives me nuts. Sometimes, when a car drives by, they do nothing. They go about their business as if nothing is happening. Other times, I will see them alert and cast furtive glances at each other, as if they are playing some kind of game to see who can bark first at the car and rev up the other. When this happens, it is never pretty, because all 115 pounds of Vern likes to one up Fudge and not only bark, but also try and move closer to the car for added impact. Since I am on the other end of the leash, this means my arm and shoulder are involved and it just infuriates me. I am ok if I am prepared and can redirect them, but once I was bent over picking up their potty and Vern caught me unaware and spun both of us around. A woman with a bag of poop in her hand is not to be messed with and I am sure the driver of that vehicle thought I was a sailor that day.


So, as it happened on our walk last week, John was around to witness this poor behavior and I said, “Fudge and Vern should be the poster dogs for Adopt, Don’t Shop. People could just follow us around and no one would get a Doodle!” And before anyone think I am against buying a dog, I am just being facetious, because I know so many great Doodles. Deep down, I think we all know it is my lack of training that caused the real problems and the real motto for me should be train, don’t complain.  Fudge and Vern just know what they can get away with when I am in charge.


Which leads me to the newest bad behavior that happened the other week and I don’t feel is because of my poor training or me.   We came home from dinner out, to find John’s slipper half eaten and completely trashed. Sure, Vern has a thing for socks, but NEVER have either dog messed with our shoes or shown any interest in them. In fact, those slippers sit in John’s office every night and most of the day when he is at work and I have never even seen them sniff them. I knew when I opened the door that something was wrong, because Fudge didn’t give us her usual over the top greeting and Vern seemed shy. I was almost positive that something happened with my reindeer draft stopper that I had just put out, but was unprepared for the half eaten shoe found on Vern’s dog bed. The leather part was gone and it looked like we got home just in time to save shoe number two. Thankfully, one of John's feet can still remain warm in the winter. Neither dog fessed up and we both blamed Vern, but Fudge drank LOTS of water later that night, so we weren’t sure how many perps we had living under our roof.


I called the vet just to be safe and was told if they are eating normally, pooping, and not throwing up, to just monitor their poops closely and get back to them if anything changes. The funny thing is if my mom so much as mentioned the word “bowel” to me, I would almost start to gag. I don’t know how many times I told her to tell a nurse, not me! Yet, I can bend over, pick up my dog’s poop and examine it for remnants of a shoe and not miss a beat. I can just hear her saying, “you and those darn dogs.” In the end, it did turn out to be Vern and we think Fudge was just drinking all that water to throw us off course. It was a rough week for Vern. Anything that goes down that shouldn’t has to come out somehow and it did. I’d like to say he learned a lesson, but he got into a stuffed animal while I was wrapping gifts, so I think we learned that Vern will chew shoes and stuffed animals and everything has to be put up as if we are dealing with a 115 pound puppy. He turns eight in January. Fudge will be nine on Christmas. We are hoping they have gotten most of this out of their system. At least the slipper is out!

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Yesterday, I mowed the yard and must have picked up some kind of prickers from a bush along the way.  I am not exactly sure what to call these dreaded little things that hurt to touch and stick to clothing, but I do know now that entering “prickers” on Google brings up all kinds of unrelated pictures. 


One of the few times my dogs opt to stay in the house when I am outside is when I mow the yard. Most things that I do I have two nosy dogs following right behind me to see what I am up to. Even something as simple as running to the garage can become quite the ordeal when I have Fudge and Vern tag along. Usually, my quick trip is almost slowed to a stop by two dogs blocking my path as I try to get back out of the garage.  It can drive me crazy.  John is free to come and go as he pleases, but my every move finds me shadowed by my Doodles.  It reminds me of my children always wanting to ride with me when we took separate cars.  Off John would go with a smile on his face, as I contended with “front and back day or left and right day,” as my kids fought some stupid sibling battle about the seating arrangement in my car. I am not sure me screaming, “JUST PICK A SEAT!” helped in any way, since Megan would then spend the rest of the ride informing anyone who would listen that her sister just picked her seat.


Well, unbeknownst to me, a few of these sticky prickers that hitchhiked a ride into the house on my socks, must have somehow found a way to Fudge’s tail.  As I sat beside her, trying to watch one of my favorite shows, Property Brothers, it became increasingly difficult to see and hear the brothers telling their client that 1.2 million dollars was not going to get them the house of their dreams without involving renovations. No matter how many times I see their familiar formula I never get tired of saying to myself, “oh dear….whatever will they do now?” If you sense sarcasm, your instincts are spot on. Anyways, Fudge’s picking and pulling at her tail and her violent shaking of her head were really spoiling my TV viewing, so I decided to give her a hand at grooming herself.  Seriously, the sticky bits were so small that I almost needed a microscope to find them, but Fudge was having known of that on her tail.  Meanwhile, someone could come by in the middle of the night and teepee Vern’s entire body and he wouldn’t  notice anything when he woke up. 


The same goes with their sleeping and eating habits. Fudge is a neat eater and drinker, but Vern takes extra care to load up his mouth with food and take it away from his food dish and promptly drop it wherever it suits his fancy.  Sometimes, he manages to eat it all, but mostly he forgets to clean his kibble up off the floor.  And following him drinking is at your own risk, because he either drinks every last drop serenading the listener with a disgusting symphony of slurping sounds or fills his mouth full and manages to only get half of the water down. The other half drips off his face or nose or whatever body part he managed to get wet as he violently attacked his water dish.  Fudge has enough sense to wait until Vern is finished eating or drinking and has vacated the premises before she even steps near her food and water bowl.  She actually waits until he goes to bed and I will often times hear her eating in the middle of the night.  If she is really thirsty, she will look at me in such a way that I know she means I need to clean the bowl and refill the water because Vern just got done.


Somehow, I managed to find a dog that reminds me of my husband. Aren’t you supposed to marry a man who reminds you of your dad? Did I mix up those sayings and end up with a dog that reminds me of my husband? And no, I don’t mean John slurps his food and spits half of it out onto the floor, but he is messy like Vern. Like Vern, he leaves clues around the house as to where he has been.  I can tell you what he made himself for lunch just by the condition of the kitchen when I get home and I often wonder if like Hansel and Gretel he is leaving “breadcrumb” clues around the house so I can find him.  He shouldn’t worry about that, but he would never be able to lead a life of crime. The evidence he left behind would lead the police right to him every time. Just this week, I got home from being away for ten days and marveled at so many things. Plastic bottles sitting right next to the recyclable bin, as if putting them directly into the bin was just asking too much of one man. Peanut butter fingerprints on the refrigerator handle making me wonder if he used a knife to get the peanut butter out of the jar or just stuck his hand in like a bear would do.  I try not to say too much, but I did mention one Andy Griffith show where Aunt Bea went away and came back to find the house neat as a pin and worried that she wasn’t needed.  I told him I couldn’t really relate to Aunt Bea.


Every morning when I get up, the first thing I do is straighten every covering on all the dog beds in our house and I am not saying I am a hoarder of dog beds, but the dogs have three in just the living/dining room area. I also straighten the dog mat I have on one of their favorite chairs and the bedspread in the guest room.  And if you are wondering why, it is because busy bee Vern visits every one of those spots sometime throughout the night and digs himself a comfortable spot until he gets it just right. I also pick up the afghan I drape across John’s chair in case he gets cold watching TV, because it is often on the floor, too. I have never actually witnessed John digging on his chair, but from the condition of the room when I wake up, I feel like the two of them are conspiring against me.  Whenever I point out the similarities between their two spaces, John always says, “That’s my boy!”  He says it so often, that once I felt compelled to add, “You know he is adopted, right?”


My sweet Fudge, on the other hand, hops up onto our bed each night and stays put.  She doesn’t dig or move much and takes on the properties of cement when you try to move her over.  I seriously think I could topple one of those Confederate statues easier than I can move Fudge once she finds her spot at night.  Like everything else she does in life, she is a neat sleeper. The only mess she ever makes at night is the mess I make when I decide that my space has become so limited on the bed that sleeping in the guest room might be a better option.  I guess we all have a little Oscar Madison in us from time to time. 

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Fudge, The People Whisperer!

Our daughter recently bought us a sign that said, “Grandparents, so easy to operate, even a child can do it.”  She is right.  Our grandson has up wrapped around his little fingers and can do no wrong in our book.  Unfortunately, we also need a sign that reads, “The people in this house are so easy to operate, even two dogs can do it.” 


We are having a couple of bathrooms renovated and having contractors in our house since the beginning of May has altered the way the dogs behave during the day and at night.  Fudge, my bravest dog, has decided the noises their tools make is something she just cannot live with unless she shadows me.  Fudge has never been a Velcro dog and having her underfoot causes me to blurt out things like, “I need my space!” on a regular basis.  I see people on all the HGTV renovation shows talking about sight lines and open concept floor plans and all I can think is, “they must not have two dogs who stand in your day most of the day!”  Both dogs seem to want to be closer to me since we started the renovations and I feel like I am spending a large part of my day at an obstacle course. The other day I told John I am one step away from having a nervous disorder and he said he felt like I took that step years ago. FYI: people who state to others that they are on edge aren’t very receptive to jokes made at their expense.


I don’t know why the dogs are more stressed because the people working in the house have been great, but we are very routine oriented around here and our routine has definitely been different.  It has carried over into our nighttime routine and here is where I think Karma has decided to step in and teach John a lesson or two.  Usually, the dogs follow me to the bedroom when I go back there to watch my TV shows. We split up around 8 pm and don’t come back together until John comes to bed. The last time Hayley visited she said something about the lack of conversation after 8 in our house and we both looked at her and said, “Dr. Phil, if we need help, we will call you.”


Well, all that has changed now, and Fudge and Vern seem to need more of John’s attention at night.  I will come out of the bedroom looking to see where my nighttime companions are only to find John holding Vern’s paw or sitting in his recliner with Fudge on his lap.  Neither dog is settling well and both of us really need them to settle after 8 pm. In addition, from the bedroom I can hear the front door opening and closing too many times and when I yell for an explanation, John will yell back that Fudge keeps insisting to go out.  This means Vern follows Fudge and usually barks, then I bark that Vern has to come back in, then John barks that he has about had it with the dogs, and well, this is way too much partying for us.


The thing I want to know is how does Fudge make John listen to her just by staring and a couple of nudges with her paw.  The other day I had to leave early for an appointment and left explicit instructions with John about what to do when the contractors arrived.  I knew he would be leaving for work after they got to our house, so I told him to be sure and remind them to shut all doors and gates and not let the dogs outside for any reason.  He knows I am phobic about the dogs barking too much when left to their own devices outside.  I just don’t want to open the door one morning to find a petition signed by all the neighbors hanging on our front door stating that they all want to vote Fudge and Vern off the island.


So, imagine my surprise, when I arrived home and I could hear the dogs barking from somewhere outside the house.  Somehow, despite my very detailed instructions, what John heard was lock the dogs up on the upper deck OUTSIDE and then leave for work.  Even the workmen sensed there was trouble when I stomped into the house and demanded to know who left the dogs outside unattended.  All three of them wasted no time in throwing John under the bus. It took me two days to get over that one and it probably took John three days to regain his hearing in both ears.


The funny thing is it took us both a bit to catch onto Fudge’s game, but based on some highly skilled detective work and/or the fact that she immediately falls asleep when John gets into bed, we now know she wants him settled, so she can go to sleep.  The first night that he came to bed early muttering, “She just keeps pawing me and I don’t know what she wants,” she pretty much answered that thought non-verbally when she followed right behind him and promptly fell asleep.  She slept like the dead that night as if she was completely worn out from trying to get her point across to John.  I know that feeling and marvel that a few pokes from Fudge did what I can’t do with very detailed instructions.


We now have a 50 pound dog dictating to us when we should go to bed and we are hoping that changes when the contractors leave and our life gets back to normal.  Otherwise, there will be far more talking after 8 pm than is good for our marriage.  Things like, “stop flipping channels…stop asking me what is going on…yes, I like this show and no, I don’t think it is for people without any sense.”  It’s just better the old way in our household and we hope Fudge is going to let John start staying up late again soon.

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Vern and the Contractors!

I love the show House Hunters on HGTV. It always amazes me when a young couple has a million dollar budget and million dollar demands. When we bought our first house, we walked in, took one look, and wrote a contract that day. I wasn’t worried about popcorn ceilings, en suites, or the color of the walls. Up until that point, we lived in a third floor apartment and I was tired of lugging two kids and laundry down to the basement to do a load of laundry in the community laundry room. All I wanted was my own washer and dryer. Years later when I had to go house hunting for Megan, she went on and on about finding the right home in the right school district and kept implying that she was sure dad and I were equally concerned when we went looking for our first house. I can still see the look of horror on her face when I finally said, “Megan, I never even asked about the school district. All I cared about was getting a washer and dryer! We were fine with you going to a one room school house that topped out at eighth grade, if I didn’t have to go to the bank for a roll of quarters every time I needed to do laundry.”

Our house hunting skills have not improved since those days and when we bought the home we are living in now, both of us walked in the day the contract was signed and said, “where is our other shower?” Turns out, we only had one bathroom with a shower and another bathroom with an enormous tub on the main floor. The bathroom with the shower we both swore was on the basement floor was missing and since we are sure we are not so stupid as to buy a house with only one shower, we can only assume we were robbed prior to moving in. Which leads us to today and the contractors we have hired to rectify the situation.

On a good day, Vern barks at people walking by our house, people thinking about walking by our house, or people in their homes maybe thinking about taking a walk soon. Vern is never off duty and takes his watchdog duties very seriously. He also seems to lack the ability to differentiate between people he has already met and people he has never met. It is like his short term memory is shot and every day is a new day for Vern. Every person is a stranger upon entering our home and has to be re-evaluated every time they walk through the door. One time, my uncle who stayed with us every Thanksgiving and had been in the house for days, came up from the downstairs in the middle of the night to get a bowl of cereal and Vern woke the entire household to alert us to the stranger in the house. In Vern’s defense, when John ran out to see what all the commotion was about, he said he was scared of my Uncle Bob too, because his hair was standing up in every direction and he was only wearing his boxers. Plus, he never uttered one word to Vern and seemed hell bent on getting that bowl of cereal. All I know is I was glad I had waterproof mattress protectors on every bed that night. We all took a vote the next day and voted that Uncle Bob stay in bed where he belonged at night or I was going to have to crate him in Vern’s old crate.

Well, the contractors have been in the house for one week now and Vern is still barking at them as they come in and out the door. I have explained to Vern it is the same three men he has seen for a week, but he still feels it is better to be safe than sorry. I couldn’t ask for a nicer group of men to be in the house and they all love dogs, but all Vern knows is they don’t belong here. Added to that is the fact that it hasn’t stopped raining in days and they walk in wearing hoodies and hats and Vern is exhausted at night trying to keep them all straight. One day, one of the workmen came in through the bathroom window to save time and later appeared in the living room seemingly out of nowhere. Thankfully, he assured me he would only do that during working hours, but it was almost comical to watch Vern process what just happened and offer up a bewildered bark or two. You could just see on his sweet face that this was getting to be too much for even his watchdog abilities. Meanwhile, Fudge sidles up to anyone who stops walking long enough and acts as if she has not known the loving touch of a human ever in her life. Between Vern’s barking and Fudge the love sponge, is it any wonder they have started shutting the door as they work in the bathroom? I did hear one of the guys saying, “good ol’ Vern,” as I was explaining to Vern one day that he really needed to pace his barking or I was going to lose my mind.

I keep telling myself that it will all be worth it when my bathrooms are done. It’s only been a week, but some days I have to remind myself of that more frequently than others. I am praying Vern starts remembering facial features soon or gets laryngitis. If I thought name tags would help him remember, I would insist the workmen wear them, but then again, maybe Vern needs glasses.

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Up at Night!!

My two-year-old grandson has just decided that he doesn’t want to go to bed.  I have watched him on and off since birth and the fact that he took a beautiful nap and went to bed without fussing always sealed the deal for me when they asked me to watch him.  It meant Grandma could get a break in the afternoon and watch some television at night.  Well, one week before I was to show up to watch him again, they informed me that he doesn’t want to take a nap and has been climbing out of his crib and coming downstairs.  And somehow it was all my fault because the last time I watched him, back in January, we would snuggle together every night and watch Tayo the Little Bus. Apparently, as he descends the stairs after climbing out of the crib he has been saying, “snuggle up time.”  First of all, in my defense, I babysit for free and watching Tayo the Little Bus is no picnic.  Every night that I was there I tried to persuade him to watch another show, but he would look me right in the eye and say, “Tayo,” and no amount of groaning on my part could persuade him differently.  A show about a bunch of buses that live in a bus depot was not exactly my cup of tea, but I sacrificed because I love my grandson and I knew one or two shows would put anyone to sleep.


I live with the equivalent of a two year old that fights sleep and his name is Vern.  Vern is our toddler, only he is now seven.  I don’t know if Vern has ever slept the entire night through and he is always the first one up if we try and take a nap.  At this point, I think if he ever slept all night, I would still wake up in the middle of the night to check that he was still alive and breathing.  I even save packing John’s lunch for the middle of the night when Vern wakes me up.  I hate that job so much and hope one day in my sleep deprived state I will “accidentally” pack an expired pack of yogurt, a rotten hard boiled egg, or a peanut butter and meat sandwich, and cause John to decide buying his lunch out would be a better option. So far, that has not happened, but one can hope.


Well, I made the mistake of complaining to my daughter about Vern when she complained about her son and was instantly told that our situations are nowhere near similar.  To me, lost sleep is lost sleep whether it is caused by a toddler or an oversized dog, but my daughter took great offense that I even tried to insinuate that I had it as bad as she did.  She has this weird competitive streak that she gets from her father and seemed to need to win this “who gets the most sleep” battle.  As far as I am concerned, having a dog smack you around in the middle of the night with his polar bear sized paw is far worse than having to snuggle up with my grandson.  I think next time I go I will “gift” my grandson with an oversized boxing glove and tell him to use it to wake mama up right before “snuggle up time” and see if she can at least admit I have a point.


Vern recently had to have a molar removed and came home from the vet groggy and sleepy and the anesthesia along with the pain medicines made him sleep all night.  I still woke up at 5:30 am because I was sure he hadn’t survived the night.  I felt the same way I did when I woke in the middle of the night to make sure my babies were still breathing when they started sleeping through the night.  Panic, like I forgot to do something extremely important, followed by massive relief when I felt their little chest move up and down. So, yep, there I was at 5:30 am, the person who prays nightly for their dog to sleep all night, waking Vern up to make sure he was still alive.  In my defense, I couldn't feel him breathing, he seemed cold and I forgot he is part polar bear, and he didn't respond when I finally called his name. I almost called out to John, but knew me screaming, "VERN IS STILL SLEEPING!" was probably not going to get the reaction I wanted.  It was only after I turned the light on and saw one eye twitch that I realized he was safe and made a mental note to ask my vet about the long term effects of anesthesia and pain meds if I want to continue to use them on Vern to get a good night’s sleep.  Something tells me she will say no, but it is worth a shot.


I recently returned from babysitting and was able to get Archer to bed earlier than his parents, but naps were definitely a hit or miss. I gave it my best shot and came equipped with plenty up my sleeve, but no amount of trickery or cajoling could make that kid sleep if he didn’t want to take a nap.  It is the same when Vern decides it is time to get up.  He doesn’t giggle or pop his pacifier at me, but he stares and pokes me with his nose or paw to let me know he is staying up.  In the end, I decided that lost sleep was lost sleep no matter who or what caused it.  I know Vern is always the first one up if we take a nap.  He is always the first one up in the morning, although after going out, he will go back to bed.  That is the only thing that differs from a toddler, although I still think the “awakened by a large paw swat” makes me the winner in the battle with my daughter for who has it worse.  Not that anyone is keeping score, but if they were, I would win. 

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I haven’t had very many superwoman moments in my life.  I haven’t rescued anyone from a burning building, saved kittens up a tree, pushed anyone out of the path of a moving vehicle, but I did just travel over 700 miles with two dogs and a toddler.  And I did it all alone. I think that qualifies me for some title, although it may just be Stupid Woman


I was more than a little perturbed at my husband that I had to go it alone.  He had work obligations, he said.  How convenient, I thought.  If our daughter says she wants to drive 500 miles to see us, he spends nights checking the weather, and if there is so much as a minor snow shower on the horizon, he insists she fly.  Me, on the other hand, can load up two wheezy French Bulldogs and one toddler still in diapers and “off you go” is what I get as I back out of the driveway.  Actually, I would have been happy with an off you go, by the time I got going on the morning I left, he had already left for work. 


It may not be normal, but as I pulled away from the driveway that day, I felt like I was cheating on Fudge and Vern.  The whole thing started when my mom started to go downhill.  I was supposed to go to NC and babysit my grandson for ten days.  My daughter had a work conference/vacation planned for quite some time.  When my mom started getting really sick, I told Megan that I could not leave and they would have to bring the little guy (and he always comes with two dogs) to me and somehow, I would work it all out.  It doesn’t sound right to say as luck would have it, but mom died two days before they were leaving to bring him to me and they were able to come for the funeral and Megan could still attend her work conference and add on vacation as scheduled. 


I had planned on watching my grandson at my house the whole week and on paper that sounded like a good idea, but the reality was anything but relaxing.  Fudge and Vern get walked every day no matter what.  Just like that commercial on TV where the sick dad asks the kid for a day off and you get the impression that is only a pipe dream, Vern gives me the same answer when I ask for a day off.  My family thinks it is all in my head, but when Vern doesn’t get his walks, we pay for it during the night with a more active Vern.  So, even though I had one toddler and four dogs I felt compelled to somehow find a way to still walk my dogs.  I had planned on leaving the bulldogs home, but poor Bonzai was so sad when his people left that I just couldn’t do it.  I kept imaging how I would feel if I knew Fudge and Vern were left behind.  And before anyone tries to tell me dogs don’t think like us, and this is just me acting like my dogs are human and there is a name for that…. Anthropomorphism…..I am going to tell you the same thing I told my husband….put a sock into your big worded mouth. I know it’s true and if I had left Bonzai and Jazz, after the initial weeping was over, they would have turned to one another and said, “I want my mommy!”


Walking all four dogs and a toddler, who periodically thought he needed to be carried, proved to be my undoing.  At one point, Archer was just about hanging upside down and getting closer and closer to the sidewalk as I tried to maneuver four dogs and not drop him.  It might have been in his best interest to wear a helmet on our walks, but since we didn’t have one, we carried on as best we could.  In another life I am sure Fudge was royalty and she seemed to prefer that the Frenchies keep two paces behind her at all times and not touch her.  If they ventured too close, Fudge would do this crazy leap in the opposite direction, which almost always meant four leashes ended up in a tangle and me biting my tongue not to yell out a series of cuss words.  Keep in mind, Jazz has this amazing talent of being able to hump Bonzai while they walk and it was safe to say between the leaping and humping, we had our own carnival act going on.  Combine all this with the fact that John kept coming home late from work and I soon came to the realization that if I was on my own, I wanted to be on my own in NC with only two dogs and one toddler.


Which brings me to the day I broke Fudge and Vern’s heart, by backing out of that driveway without them.  I almost cried and kept thinking they were the ones saying, “My mommy is a traitor!”  I have to be careful who I share that information with, because not everyone understands.  We made it 47 miles before a little voice from the backseat yelled, “diaper change!”  I tried to explain to Archer we had a long haul ahead and I would be calling all the shots from this point on, but all he said was, “diaper change!”  So, we stopped and every stop after required a brief walk for the Frenchies to do their business, a lift back into the van for them, the unbuckling of a two year old from a car seat that made me long for the days when we rode backwards in a station wagon in our parent’s car, and the re-buckling of the same two year old who thought arching his back and giggling would be fun for grandma.  BUT, and I cannot say this enough, Archer was the best-behaved human in that car that day and was near perfect.  We had no tantrums, no screaming to be let out of his car seat, and the only real problem was he knows his movies by the characters and couldn’t understand why grandma didn’t know that Max meant turn on The Big Hero.  We quickly adopted a “point to the one you want” method and solved that problem.


It took us from 9 am to 1 am to reach our destination, only because we encountered a bad accident along the way that required me turning around on a steep and muddy median, and added about 3 hours to our time. Even then, when we were stuck in gridlock traffic for well over an hour and I was close to hyperventilating, I heard a little voice from the back seat say, “are you ok, memaw?” and I knew I was going to be just fine.  By the time we arrived at Megan’s, one of us was sleeping, and one of us was very tired.  As luck would have it, Megan’s cat had been saving up a weeks worth of meows for anyone who opened that door and never caught on the entire week that, “be quiet, Rocky,” really meant I was thinking about making him an outdoor cat for the duration of my visit if he meowed in my direction one more time.

The good news is we all survived and when I walked in the door after it was all over, Fudge and Vern seemed to hold no grudge towards me that my adventure with the Frenchies and Archer did not include them. Absence does seem to make the heart grow fonder or maybe it grew fonder because my Doodles need no help getting on and off beds and couches.  Either way, I think I slept for two days when I returned.  It’s not easy being Super Woman.

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I have probably written hundreds of blogs for DK and several of them have been about my mom.  Some of you have followed my mom on her journey to get to a Neil Diamond concert, her stealing a chair right out from under Vern, her reading of romance novels, the day she had to go on Viagra for her heart, her obsession with drinking coffee, and one or two hospital stays.  I know my mom has nothing to do with Doodles, but she always provided me with excellent material and it was fun to share it here on DK.  It has taken me forever to write this blog, because I don’t want the stories to end, but as we all know, every good story has to come to an end sometime.  My mom’s story ended on 1/17/17. She was 90 years old. This blog has nothing to do with dogs and everything to do with dying, so I won’t hold it against anyone who chooses to move on down the page, but writing is cathartic to me and I need to get this down on paper.  I started this blog when my mom went on Hospice.


Two years ago in October my mom had a stroke.  Up until that time, she lived in Senior Independent Living, drove a car, went to weekly hair and nail appointments, played Bridge in a club, loved to play Wii bowling and even took part in tournaments, and lived a pretty active lifestyle.  From time to time, my middle sister would wonder out loud if mom should be driving at age 88, but short of finding out mom was knocking off pedestrians up at the local Kroger when she backed out of a parking spot, I was not taking mom’s car away from her.  She was a cautious driver and told me more than once that she always thought of me when she had to drive slowly in the left lane for one reason or another.  She knew if I were behind her I would have been the one yelling, “Move over, grandma!” as I went around her in a huff.


After the stroke mom went to rehab and I won’t bore you with all the details, other than to say we hoped she could live in the Assisted Living part of her facility, but because of what she was and wasn’t able to do, ended up having to go to the 24 Hour Care Facility.  Basically, she had lost the use of her entire left side and it wasn’t coming back.  For an independent, impatient, person who hated staying home and had to get out and do something every day, this was the worst thing that could have happened to her and her mantra became “I want to die!”  She said it often and loudly. I don’t know if when you have a major upheaval in your life you go through something similar to the five stages of grief, but I can tell you she hit the anger and depression steps pretty hard. 


Saying “I want to die” to other people is never a good idea, because normally other people have a strong desire to live and want to talk you into wanting that for yourself, too.  Her heart doctor, who my mom hated because he replaced the heart doctor she loved and he was a pompous ass (her words), told her she needed to find a support group for people just like herself and that would make her feel better.  I was at that appointment with her and he suggested I do the legwork of rounding up these people and I thought about saying, “so, I should be looking for cranky old ladies who say they are going to slap the next person who tells them to look on the bright side?” He then went on to tell my mom that he was going through a divorce and his three kids hated him and all my mom said was, “well, you don’t have it as bad as me.”  I am sorry to say I laughed out loud at that one, because no one was ever going to be able to top my mom, in her mind, with who had it worse.


My mom was also very angry with God for doing this to her.  She told me all the time she talked to him daily and he didn’t answer her prayers and once I said, “mom, maybe he did answer your prayers, because I moved back here closer to you,” and I think she said and not all that enthusiastically,  “yeah, I guess.”  I called some days to tell her I would be there on Thursday and she would sometimes say, “make sure you call first in case I’ve died,’ and I always said, “fingers crossed here,” which made her laugh.  


It was so hard not to get irritated with my mom in the beginning because it felt like all she was doing was complaining and not trying hard enough to get better.  She would counter with we didn’t know how hard it was for her.  I have to give my sister, Vicki, a lot of credit because while my other sister and I lived 600 miles away she was in the same town and dealing with everything face to face.  Until I moved to Michigan and only a couple of hours from mom, I didn’t realize how much easier it was to be the daughter at the end of a phone line and not the one dealing with her face to face.  I know now, because her need to control what was left of her universe could be frustrating and irritating to the people around her. I guess when you are mad at the world for your circumstances; it is easier to let a daughter have it occasionally than calling out the universe. 


It could be something as simple as homemade cookies.  She hated the food where she lived, so I tried to occasionally bring her some goodies.  Unfortunately, she was very particular about the presentation and changed her mind from day to day how she wanted them given to her. I have been told to bag a couple in small baggies and then I got in trouble at Christmas time because I bagged the cookies instead of putting them in a tin like I did last Christmas.  And if you pointed out that the tin was hard to open and she had requested baggies before, she would say something like, “Don’t get all huffy.”  Another time, I was told to take what I brought home because I brought too much and she didn’t have room for it.  It was a couple of slices of banana bread.  My sister and I both laughed when she said she didn’t eat a lot of snacks, because for a while there, we felt like Crack dealers keeping her in her supply of Milky Ways, Three Musketeer Bars, and Peppermint patties.  I did like to say, “What day was that?” to her “not eating a lot of snacks” comment, just to keep her on her toes.


The last time I poured her a cup of coffee, she told me the cup was too heavy and I got the feeling that was somehow my fault.  The same with her iced water they brought her daily. It could only be filled half full and since she was the only one who knew where the invisible line was on her cup, there was no possible way another human being could get it right.  She played the stroke card every time anyone tried to point out that her demands were getting a teensy bit annoying and almost always said, “you don’t know how hard I have it,” or “why won’t the Lord take me?” I always commiserated with her on her first comment, but varied my response to the second by saying, “there is a reason they call it heaven,” or “that’s the question on the tip of all of our tongues.” That usually got a laugh.  


Humor is how I survive and it is how my relationship with my mother has survived.   Through the years my mom and I have had some contentious times, but humor could almost always see me through to a better place.  I could make her laugh and the more outrageous the comment, the better. When she could still drive and our kids were younger, from time to time we would revisit the idea of getting a cat.  My mom loved to offer her advice and would tell me if I got a cat she was never visiting again.  I would always hold the phone receiver a bit back from my mouth, and scream, “Kids, get in the car NOW!  We are going to get a cat.”  At the Christmas party this year, mom had on a new jacket and when I complimented her on it, she said, “Oh, this is my funeral outfit, but since I never seem to die, I thought I would wear it tonight!”  For the rest of the night, whenever anyone told her how nice she looked, we did not miss an opportunity to tell him or her it was her funeral outfit.  When the social worker came by we told her all about the jacket and while she was standing there thinking how best to respond, I added, “we are a little angry with her for wearing it tonight, because if she goes tomorrow, we are going to have to get that jacket dry cleaned.”  Even though mom was already starting to go downhill, she laughed, and laughed harder when the social worker said she had no words.


Mom had the nicest Vicar visit her occasionally and sometimes I was there when he visited.  He was young, red headed, soft-spoken, and very kind.  He would bring his children to see her sometimes on weekends and mom got the biggest kick out of the fact that his one boy was named Norman.  One day when he came, mom started talking about how she wished she could come to my house some day.  We both knew that the possibility of that ever happening were slim to none, because by that time mom could no longer stand on her own and had to be lifted in and out of her wheelchair with a lift device.  The logistics were just too much to think about at the time.  Well, I chimed in that there would just be no way to get her in and out of my house and while the Vicar was trying to think of something uplifting to say, I added, “and it is just going to be a lot of work for me to keep running food out to her in the car.” He stood there, dumbfounded, until my mom burst out laughing and said, “see how my family treats me!”


And in case you think I get off scot free with all my teasing, I have a daughter who picks up with me where I left off with my mother.  Just the other day, I was reading something to her someone posted on FB about how to avoid getting raped and I made the mistake of saying the article said rapists look for people they can move to another location.  Well, just like that, it caused her to burst out laughing and she said, “I think it is fairly safe to say no one is going to want to move you anywhere!” Of course, I laughed, just like my mom always did, and encouraged this behavior to go on for another generation.


The funny thing was when we finally told mom she was going to go on Hospice; we expected her reaction to be far different.  I thought she would throw a party, but instead she acted worried. She kept saying things like, “what’s going to happen now?” and when the Hospice worker came for her interview, my sister and I got the impression she thought we were putting her to sleep that day.  We worried they might not accept her into the program because she really didn’t seem all that sick, other than she kept gaining fluid weight. Then she started saying she didn’t want to die and when we asked what brought on the change of heart, she said she had enjoyed watching the World Series. It had nothing to do with family, this change of heart, but the fact that she loved the Cleveland Indians.


Which brings us to January and the end of the story.  We had a great Christmas. All her girls were home for Christmas and we celebrated at her place with lots of the Christmas cookies she taught us to make.  She got to see Archer, who she loved dearly.  We all knew mom was going downhill and when she said she was no longer going to go down and have her hair fixed, we knew something serious was happening.  Shortly after that she said they were forcing her to eat and she just stopped wanting food.  She was still spunky though and we had two nurses tell us she stuffed half a sandwich in her mouth and said, “There, are you happy now?” when they kept telling her she had to eat something. 


Pretty soon after that she stopped eating altogether and for a mom who ended every event with a treat, it was hard to comprehend or watch.  She drank only a little water here and there, but she was a tough cookie, and lasted two weeks.  Mom would have been thrilled at the end to see how thin she looked. Her weight was a lifelong struggle for her and she had more than a fair amount of vanity.  I often thought if mom had been granted one wish for all mankind, it would not have been for world peace, but rather that she could shop in the petite department at Macy's. At the viewing, my sister said we should have left all her size tags show and I thought we should have had a weigh in like they did on The Biggest Loser and posted that number right next to her.  

They tell you the hearing is the last to go, but every time I asked mom if she wanted me to play a Neil Diamond or Alan Jackson CD, she said no.   She didn’t seem to want any noise or commotion at the end.  My middle sister came home and insisted on singing to her.  I told her later, I thought that was what pushed mom over the edge finally and she must have said to herself, “I can’t listen to this crap anymore!”  It was either that or the hymns she played over and over again until I finally said, “mom must think she is already at the pearly gates with this music!”  I like to think if hearing is the last to go, my mom was laughing when she heard that line.  Maybe mom also decided if she couldn’t be there in person to see Neil or Alan in concert, she wasn’t going to settle with a CD. She had settled enough in the years since her stroke.  I wrote her Eulogy and a fire alarm went off in the middle of me reading it, which we all felt was mom’s doing.  I ended by saying I thought somewhere in the world, right before mom died, a world class coffee Barista must have preceded her in death, and God thought the time was right to bring her home.  After all, if she couldn’t get a good cup of coffee it wouldn’t be Heaven for her. 

Christmas Party, 2016


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Find a Penny, Pick it Up!


The other day I took the dogs to the park and when I got out of the car, I spotted a penny on the ground, heads up.  Reciting the line, “Find a penny, pick it up, all day long, you’ll have good luck,” I bent over and retrieved the penny.  I can now say, speaking from experience, that a lucky penny does not really hold all that much luck and any luck it gives you must run out pretty quickly.


I have been playing musical beds in my house again.  With the colder temperatures, both dogs want to sleep in our bed.  I am convinced the problem starts with which dog gets up on the bed first, but others say Vern is just too big.  When Megan was home for the Holidays, she said more than once that Vern was too big for our space.  What she didn’t seem to realize was Vern had fit just fine before two adults, one toddler, and two French Bulldogs showed up.  She seemed to catch on, however, when I said, “Let’s take the total space and subtract it by one extremely messy grown daughter and her equally messy husband and two annoying French Bulldogs and that equals more room for all of us, including Vern.”  Notice I kept my grandson out of the equation. And before anyone thinks I don’t love my grand dogs, I love them very much AT THEIR HOUSE.


Four dogs is two too many for me and I guess it is because they all follow me and look to me to have their needs met.  At this point in my life, I am looking for less people/animals to depend on me, not more. If I went down to the basement to put the clothes from the washer into the dryer, I had four dogs following me and lining up at the back door to go out.  I could ignore my own dogs, but the Frenchies have been known to make a statement in the house, something along the lines of “you should have taken me out when you had the chance,” and I don’t trust them entirely in our house. So, what should have been a quick trip up and down the steps turned into a thirty-minute ordeal for me, each and every time. When I mentioned that it was driving me nuts, the support in the room for my feelings was underwhelming, at best.  I usually got some response that the dogs all loved me followed by laughter when I said, “whoopee!”


I spent the better part of the week rearranging four dogs on our bed while I watched TV and we finally had to put our foot down and say Jazz had to sleep elsewhere.  Bonzai had the sense to find a space not occupied by two large Labradoodles on the bed, but Jazz had a little more trouble with the subtle clues Fudge was giving off that were telling him not to come any closer. Apparently, growling and the showing of teeth said to Jazz that Fudge wanted to cuddle with him.  There are just some people/dogs you do not want to sleep with and Jazz is one of them.  I once spent the night at my niece’s house and had her children fighting over who got to sleep with Aunt Laurie.  I tried to tell them that I would be just fine on my own, but eventually my nephew won me and although we had an uneventful and dry night, I did find out later that he was a bed wetter.  I am not telling him, but I am telling you, that this kind of information, disclosed up front, would have moved him right up to the top of the list of people/dogs who should sleep alone.


The other night I had an epiphany.  It happened while I was fighting for a spot on our bed where I could stretch out while still remaining covered.  I tried the conventional way first with my head near the headboard and then turned at one point so my feet faced the headboard.  When I finally figured out it was a lost cause and more of me was hanging off the bed than on, my light bulb moment found me deciding to take myself to the guest bedroom.  Usually, I think about having to wash more sheets, but my desperation caused me to throw caution to the wind and seek out a more restful place to sleep. It was heaven. The sheets were fresh and clean.  All of my body was on the mattress and I could decide whether I needed the covers or not.  No man or beast followed me to the new bed, which meant no snoring and sweet, sweet room on the bed.  It was like that penny had changed my world and brought me just enough good luck to make a decision that benefited me in every way.  If only my luck could have held out the next night.


On Tuesday night we had rain and extremely high winds.  I have been waiting for the new season of This is Us to begin and was so excited that it was finally going to be on Tuesday night at 9.  Every commercial stated it was at its new time…9:00 pm…and then I see the President was giving his farewell speech at 9 and had bumped my show to 10.  In my perfect world the President would have his own channel, so he couldn’t ever pre-empt any show that I was watching.  The only thing I was interested in hearing him say that night was, “stay tuned for This is Us.”   Meanwhile, our power had gone out twice and I was so grateful that we had made the decision to get a generator when we moved into this house.  I felt invincible…nothing…not the weather or the President was going to stop me from seeing my long awaited show.  I even got a little cocky when the power went out and looked upward and said, “Ha Ha, I guess you forgot we got a generator!”  I am like my mother when it comes to bad things happening that involve one of my shows. I automatically assume it is God having a little fun at my expense.  Finally, my show started and it was everything I hoped it would be right up until our cable went out and our screen went blank.  I thought the night couldn’t get any worse, but I was wrong.


When our power went out, it set off our smoke alarm.  Fudge isn’t scared of much, but she is very frightened of the noise the smoke alarm makes. The funny thing is Vern, who is scared of so many things, is not affected by the smoke alarm at all. Earlier in the week, John had started a fire in our fireplace and obviously did something incorrectly because he set off every smoke alarm in our house.  Did I mention John is an Eagle Scout? Fudge and I had been in bed and between the smoke alarm and me screaming for John to do something, she was stressed to the max.  When Fudge is stressed, she gloms on to me like a magnet. When I am stressed, I yell.   So, in between me yelling, “JOHN, DO SOMETHING….JOHN, DO SOMETHING QUICKER!” and fearing any neighbors within hearing distance would think we were either having extremely loud sex or we needed help, I was as panicked as Fudge.  Well, I now think Fudge has PTSAD (Post Traumatic Smoke Alarm Disorder) because when that alarm went off again last night, she all but sat on top of me and couldn’t get close enough to me.  She shook, her walk turned into a slink of sorts, and if she walked any slower when I made her get down, she would have been going in reverse.


Well, with no show to watch and an extra needy dog in the bed, it wasn’t long before we turned off the lights and I realized, once again, that our bed was fast becoming the most uncomfortable place to be.  So, I decided to take myself over to the guestroom, my newfound haven, for another good night of sleep.  Unfortunately, Vern followed right behind me, with Fudge hot on his tail.  My haven quickly turned into hell when Fudge curled up next to me with her paws facing my back.  I don’t mind spooning with my dogs, but this felt more like forking, as in four forks were cutting into my back, and it wasn’t long before I decided to go back to my own bed and ditch the dogs.  I am running out of options as to where to sleep because upon my return to my own bedroom, John started snoring, leaving me to ponder if a pillow over his face would be justifiable homicide.  In the end, I chose the quieter bed filled with Doodle bodies and got through the night in one piece.  It’s obvious now I expected too much from that one penny. For the kind of luck I need, I am hoping someday to find a whole roll of them, heads up.


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I Forgot Something!

It happened again yesterday.  I forgot something.  The older I get the less I seem to remember.  I spend hours each week searching for my car keys, my phone, my purse, and my glasses.  And if I am truthful, I have even forgotten where I parked my car in a parking lot.  Sometimes, I wonder how I got anything done when I worked, but maybe it is because I now lose so much time just trying to find something.  It usually starts with my car keys.  I go to take the dogs for their walk and can’t find my keys.  John tells me to put them in the same spot each day when I get home, but I forget to do that, too.  In my defense, if I come home with keys in hand and the dogs are home, I am usually trying to fend them off at the door and just get in the house.  The only benefit to their exuberant greeting is I often forget to take my keys from the door lock and I now know to start there when my keys go missing.  It has gotten so bad that John refuses to let me touch his car keys.


The home phone is another issue.  Someone set the answering machine to two rings before the machine picks up, which means I have a very limited time to find the phone when I get a call.  The kids like to call on the home phone and then hang up immediately when the answering machine comes on.  I have asked them repeatedly to start talking into their phone in the hopes that a long-winded response will allow me to find the phone. Instead, as I scramble around looking for the home phone, my cell phone starts ringing and starts another search for that phone.  Megan will call the house, then my cell, and finally John’s phone, in such rapid succession that I am sure there has to be some kind of major emergency, only to finally find a phone and have her say, “what are you doing?”  She gets mad when I say, “trying to Google how to place a call block on three phones because some pesky person won’t leave me alone.”  The past two weeks I have only been able to find one of the home phone handsets…we have two…which means that when I forget to charge the one phone I can find, I have absolutely no way to answer the phone.  Luckily, I was doing laundry yesterday and looked down to see the other handset on the ground.  Who knows how it got there? 


Don’t get me started on my glasses.  Unless I am wearing them, I can’t find them and even then, I might forget they are on top of my head.  I walked the dogs the other day in my reading glasses. I am near sighted.  Keep in mind I drove to the park and can’t explain why I didn’t figure it out until I was already down the street.  The way I figure it, it is only a matter of time until someone finds me wandering at the park saying, “I forgot where I put my dogs!”


Yesterday, John and I were out all day and came home late. I wanted to take the dogs for a walk to tire them out and so we drove up to our local park.  It was only when we got there that I discovered we had forgotten their leashes.  We were tired and because I pride myself on never turning back, I made an executive decision.  I assured John that this had happened before, and I had a plan.  In the past, I have used a belt and a scarf as makeshift leashes and I was prepared to find something in the car to use this time, too.  The trick is to avoid all people, places, and things, in case the leashes don’t work out.  Vern is the number one puller of all times. We have tried every leash, every collar, and every harness.  I have walked him with love and I have walked him with hate.  Truthfully, it is like walking a bull on the way to a rendezvous with a cute little cow in pasture A. 


Somebody I know on Facebook recently wrote that everyone should be able to walk their dog with one finger IF they are in touch with their dog.  I can barely walk Vern sometimes with one whole hand and an arm and I am not about to lose my finger, which I might need when I see some guy waving while walking his dog with one finger.  I have settled on a prong collar and I don’t really care what the critics say, because Vern gives no indication that he even knows he is wearing one.  None!  He is as happy with it on as off and he rolls so often that he turns the thing inside out.  He does occasionally give me the courtesy of a backwards glance when I shout, “Easy, Vern!”  I get the feeling he is thinking, “I hear what you are saying and I choose to disregard it.” 


Luckily, we had one 30 foot long leash in the car yesterday and a bungee cord.  John said we could hook one dog to the leash and tie the other end to the other dog, but he was taking too long to make it happen, so I said I would just use the bungee cord.  Several times, John mentioned that seemed like a bad idea, but I was tired and wanted to get home to watch a Christmas Hallmark movie.  So, I hooked the bungee cord to Vern’s regular collar and off we went and by off we went, I mean the give and take of the bungee cord allowed Vern lots of leeway.  Did I mention it was icy out and John kept saying he didn’t think this was my best idea ever?  Did I also mention that as John kept chiding me, I was thinking about using that one finger?  Well, I can be stubborn, but I could quickly see John was right and his one leash idea might have been the better solution.  I mean I didn’t want to end up in the ER with the doctor asking me how I broke a hip and lost an eye.  It felt like I would be one Psych evaluation away from being held on a 72-hour watch if I answered, “I was walking my 110 pound dog with a bungee cord.”


The good thing was John only said, “hmmmm, I wonder where you came up with that idea,” when I said, “I think we should tie the other end of the leash onto Vern’s collar.”  There was no “I told you so,” and I didn’t have to use that one finger after all. 

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Why, Vern, Why?

Yesterday was a rainy day.  I love rainy days except for the fact that Vern still thinks we need to keep to his schedule and walk him twice a day.  Fudge is happy to sleep the day away, but not Vern.  So, last night the weather seemed to clear a bit and I suggested a walk at a county park a car ride away and off we went.  The closer we drove to our destination the darker the skies were getting, but I was determined to give Vern that walk.  I learned long ago if Vern doesn’t get his nightly walk we would be dealing with stares, sad eyes, and paw swipes, the rest of the night.  At one point, John said we were driving directly into a thunderstorm and I told him we weren’t going to be those people who were afraid of a little rain.


I won’t say that sometimes I make mistakes, but I will say that this was not one of my better ideas and not for reasons you might think.  By the time we got to the park it was pouring and thundering and yet I was still not willing to tell Vern that he wasn’t going to get his walk.  We decided to wait the storm out in the car, which meant both dogs were now moving about in the car and eagerly anticipating the moment when one of us jumped out of the car and opened the door for them.  The only problem was nobody in the car wanted to be that person who got out first.  So, we continued to wait until the rain subsided a bit, got out of the car, and I think I said, “What is the worst thing that can happen? We get wet!”


And here is where the story gets interesting, because you would think getting soaking wet would be the worst part of our walk, and you would be wrong.  I wanted to walk on the sidewalk around the perimeter of a large field, but John said we would get less wet walking in the woods under the trees.  This seemed like a bad idea to me since it was thundering and with thunder comes lightning and I didn’t think you were suppose to take shelter under trees during a thunder storm.  What do I know? John was an Eagle Scout and I never advanced beyond being a Brownie, so I concede to him when it comes to matters of camping, survival skills, and nature stuff.  I do know that he once told me to hold a hanger high in the sky if it was lightning and when I said that did not sound right, he just laughed and added that it is always best to be in the water, too. Despite my reservations, into the woods we went with Vern and me in the lead and John and Fudge lagging behind. 


I felt like I was on our walk alone since John was so far behind me and when I came to a fork in the path, I stopped and yelled for them to hurry up, and that’s when Vern did it.   When my back was turned, I can only assume he spotted a large pile of poop, or meadow muffins (since this sounds nicer and my Thesaurus said it was another word for poop) as I will call it for the rest of my story, and said to himself, “I wonder what it would feel like to dive headfirst into that pile?”  It wasn’t a roll, it was just a quick head dive, and back up with his entire side of his head, neck, collar, tags, and leash smeared with meadow muffins.  I think at that point, even Vern sensed this was a major miscalculation on his part and the answer to his previously asked question was, “it does not feel or smell good!” 

What a mess we had on our hands with the only positive being we were near a river.  Well, I walked him right down there and strongly encouraged him to get in and was thinking I had done a good job of solving the problem when John went slightly nutty and cried out that the current was too fast and could carry him downstream.  I am ashamed to say that I said, “Who cares as long as he washes up clean at the other end!” and the next thing I know John was making a now wet and disgusting Vern get out of the river. So, we jumped into action with Plan B and we decided that I would go get the van and bring it back down to the river in the hopes I had something in it to help clean Vern.  I told John to stay at the river and I would be right back, but what he must have heard was “walk up the road towards the van and yell at your wife, who is driving said van, that you need someone to take Fudge.”  It took me all of five minutes to bring the van back down to where John was supposed to be and another five minutes to convince the dogs they had just seen me and I did not need any greeting that involved Vern touching me.


I fancied myself MacGyver as I went to the car and rounded up some makeshift supplies to get Vern as clean as we could before he got into my van.  I was able to find one winter glove, a tube of antibacterial soap, a trash bag, and several towels.  Thankfully, John volunteered to do the dirty work and got in the river with Vern with his one green mitten and got it all off.  Of course, even with all that activity John did say he was happy this happened on my watch and not his, because he never would have heard the end of it. It is hard to argue with a guy knee deep in river water wearing a messy glove, so I waited until we were in the car to point out that I had been forced to take my eye off Vern when I had to turn around and tell Fudge and him to hurry up.  In keeping with the theme of the day, he said that sounded like some BS to him and he doubted even Vern would roll in it.  Vern’s collar, leash and tags went into the washer when we got home and if I could have figured out a way to fit Vern into the washer with them, he would have gone in, too. He is lucky he is huge and I hate the sound my washer makes when it is off balance during the spin cycle. He did get another bath and poor Vern thought he was in big trouble having to get two baths in one day, but you do the crime, well you know…you take a couple of baths.


We learned a valuable lesson on Sunday. If an animal drops a meadow muffin in the woods and nobody is around to smell it, does it still stink? It does, if your dog rolls in it!

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Tell Me Again What a Bully Stick Is?

We recently had quite the discussion on DoodleKisses and I would like to share some of my thoughts on the situation.  It all started when Ricki (and Tara) posted that she received some buggy bully sticks.  We have had many discussions about bully sticks but I believe this is the first time someone talked about their order coming with bugs in the bag.  As I write, I am starting to feel like saying, “Peter Piper picked a pack of pretty purple peppers,” only changing it up to say, “Beware of bags with buggy bully sticks!”  Try saying that three times quickly.


As almost always happens when we have a bully stick discussion, someone asks what a bully stick is and straws are drawn behind the scenes and the loser gets to answer.  Not really, but it isn’t hard to imagine the questioner’s face when they read the answer, “Beef Pizzle” and while they are still thinking this sounds like something their dog might like, they read on to find out that beef pizzle is really just a nicer name for bull penises.  I like the sound of pizzle much better than penis. It reminds me of Snoop Dog’s fo’shizzle, which is just a cooler way of saying for sure.  It also reminds me of when our daughters were younger and Hayley wanted help with her homework assignment. 


Timing was never Hayley’s forte and for years I would tell her to just let me take my shoes off after work before she hit me up with anything bad.   I used to think she liked the sound of me yelling, because just as I would finally sit down to relax, she might say,  “I forgot to tell you. I need cupcakes for tomorrow!”  I often worried that the neighbors might call the police as the sound of my voice yelling, “I TOLD YOU TO ONLY VOLUNTEER ME FOR PAPER PRODUCTS” followed by, “I forgot,” reverberated around the neighborhood. One night Hayley needed help with her homework and brought it to the dinner table.  Imagine our surprise when the first question out of her mouth was, “what is gonorrhea?”  To our credit, John and I did not spit out our food, but Megan, who has always been too smart for her own good, started chanting, “Hayley has gonorrhea!” 


Growing up, my mom insisted on daily devotions at the dinner table after supper and I’ve got kids asking about venereal diseases for a homework assignment.   Hayley was adamant that even though she didn’t know what it was, she didn’t have it, and wanted Megan to be quiet.  We all wanted Megan to be quiet and in retrospect, we should have insisted Hayley put her homework aside until after dinner, but we were never that smart.   Because of our stupidity and Hayley’s persistence to get that homework done, over the course of that questionnaire and our dinner, Megan enjoyed the time of her life chanting that her sister had genital warts, crabs, and syphilis. 


You never see anything like that on Little House on the Prairie, and it wouldn’t be the first or last time we regretted telling our kids that they could talk to us about anything.   Unfortunately, Hayley wasn’t done and to this day I don’t know if this was an actual question or she just wanted to know, but she asked what were some other names for penis.  Before John and I could ask what the heck class was she taking, Megan rattled off a litany of responses, ending with a one-eyed snake.  Until that day we had no idea Megan was the walking, talking Thesaurus for the word penis.  And here is where being a parent was hard for me, because Megan could always make me laugh and I would lose all credibility when I told her I didn’t like the way she was talking and to stop it immediately.   John was no better in these situations and we finally had to ask Hayley to put aside her homework until after dinner and Megan had left the premises.


The point I am trying to make is if the question you asked was what are some other names for bull penises, the answers would be beef pizzle and bully sticks, and I can hear Megan chanting, “you like beef pizzle, fo’ shizzle!”  And if you are wondering who came up with this idea, I don’t know the answer and I don’t even want to think about the first guy who said, “Let’s see if Rover likes chewing on these dried bull penises.” Is there a bull penis handler somewhere whose job it is to remove the penises and what could he/she possibly answer on a questionnaire that asked about their occupation?  Can you imagine if some young entrepreneur showed up on Shark Tank and pitched this idea to the panel?  I am betting he/she would be shown the door so quickly, they wouldn’t have time to add, “but dogs love them!”


The thing is dogs do love them. They can be stinky and gross and all the things that humans hate, but when you are dealing with a puppy and those sharp teeth, they can be a godsend.  I could throw one in Fudge’s mouth as she came at me with those shark’s teeth and have a temporary reprieve from being her chew toy.  In those days I was willing to try anything and John is lucky she was happy with a bull penis.  I am not saying I was desperate enough to turn into Laurie Bobbitt, but when Vern came along and started teething I had no problem putting Fudge in his path and really didn’t care what part he chewed on her as long as it was not attached to me.


A couple of people questioned in that discussion whether or not bully sticks were addictive, because it is all their dog wants to chew on.  I won’t name names (Tara) but I think the bugs might be God’s way of helping her get off those things before she ends up in some kind of program like BSA….Bully Sticks Anonymous.  I was one of the lucky ones. Fudge and Vern can no longer handle the pizzles.  It gives them runny stools and so we banned them long ago.  Long before we had to deal with buggy bags, BSA, and the thought that the adorable dogs we love and kiss are chewing on one. Bugs and bully sticks do not go together, any more than dinner conversation and venereal disease’s homework.

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When Do They Grow Up?

I used to think parenting got easier as you got older and your kids matured, but I now think parenting gets harder.  Harder because they don’t have to listen to you anymore and my advice, which I always believe is stellar, is not always met with the appreciation and gratitude I think it deserves.  Hayley prefers to call John because she finds him less reactive and better at listening without commenting, all because, once or twice, I yelled out something like “NOT AGAIN!” when she said she had been involved in a traffic accident.  Megan once asked me why I couldn’t just listen and not respond and got mad when I said maybe she could find a nice tree with a phone and call it next time instead of me. The thing is I feel like I am loaded with great advice, have the answers to most everything, and can solve all their problems IF they would just listen to me. Unfortunately, I am the only one who seems to know this and worse yet, I have been bested by a man who I would swear has nodded off a couple of times during their lengthy conversations.


We all know puppies can also be hard and things are supposed to get easier as our dogs mature.  Someone needs to explain this to Fudge and Vern, so I can get back to my lackadaisical method of dog training.  In her seventh year of life, Fudge has taken up counter surfing and it seems to be an area in which she excels. Fudge has always been my tester dog and John says I have way too many conspiracy theories that involve her, but I swear everything she does has a purpose and that purpose is to make me jump through hoops.  Her newest thing is to come when she is called, but go to a different door than the one I am standing at to be let back in.  If I am at the front door, she will go to the patio door and as I call her to come, she will stand there mocking me as if to say, “over here, dummy!”  If we are out in public, I swear she holds her business and only lets it out when she senses that me having to pick it up will coincide with someone walking by.  Just this morning she paused after going potty for quite some time until I assumed it was safe to pick it up, only to have her back kick so much dirt in my direction as I bent over that I was blinded for a second and spent the rest of the walk spitting dirt out of my mouth.  My new motto is close your mouth and eyes when you bend over around Fudge, but for obvious reasons I won’t be embroidering that statement on a pillow anytime soon.


I might have my glasses or the TV remote on the bed and despite the fact that the rest of the bed is empty, Fudge will beeline directly to the glasses or remote and try and plop down on them.  Many nights I will be watching a show only to have the channel changed when she rolls over to get more comfortable.  I usually scramble to collect my glasses, but often times forget about the remote until I can’t find it or I can no longer identify the show I am watching.  Every morning finds me taking both dogs out only to have Fudge stop in her tracks right before we get to the door and stare at me.  I don’t know if she is waiting for me to carry her through the doorway, hand her an engraved invitation that the party is outside, or she just enjoys me pleading with her to please go outside and go potty.  


On the boat she is possessed with retrieving her toy in the water, but then comes back to the boat and at the command to “drop it” lets it go right back into the water.  I have been standing right next to her instructing her NOT to drop the toy in the water and down it goes as she looks back at me like “did you say something?”  AND if she can somehow manage to drop it between the boat ladder and the boat all the better, because it means one of the humans on the boat has to get down on their hands and knees and try to figure out how to fish that toy out of the water without going overboard.  Trust me when I tell you, that toy could float within retrieving distance of the boat and she will just stand at attention on her dog pad until it is properly thrown from the boat by one of us. 

I'm still waiting............


Sometimes, she even waves her paw in the air like she really wants to help, but just can’t reach the toy, even though we all know if she would just jump in and get it life would be better for all concerned. Nope, it is up to John or me to retrieve the toy she has dropped in the water or risk going in debt replacing all the water toys as we watch them float away as Fudge stands at attention on her pad looking back at us like “What is taking so long? I’m waiting!”

Bye, bye, water toy..... 


Fetch, John!!


Meanwhile, Vern, now in his sixth year, has decided barking is the way to go on the boat and nothing seems to work to get through to him that we are not enjoying the sound of his voice.  John says me screaming “SHUT UP, VERN!” after every bark is not really helping, so I tried “SHUT UP, JOHN!” just in case Vern was barking using an alias.  Between the barking and all the fetching we do on the boat, we are exhausted by the time we get back to shore.   He also keeps all of our neighbors on their toes by barking their arrivals and departures whenever he can.  When I tell him to stop barking, he almost always wags his tail and barks again as if to say, “OK! Got it!”  This usually leads to me making him come back into the house and there is no prouder dog as he totally misreads the situation and walks in woofing and wagging.


Also, at the age of 6 and 7, I now catch them drinking out of any container out in the yard that has water in it and that includes potted plants.  I can’t honestly say this is new behavior in Vern, but I never saw Fudge do it until this year. My opinion is she saw all the attention Vern got when he did it and decided to jump on the bandwagon.  The other day I dumped the most disgusting water out of one of the containers out on our deck after I caught Fudge sticking her nose in it, yet when I go to hand her a treat she will sometimes drop it on the ground or turn her head slightly so it looks like I am trying to shove a treat against her cheek.   They also used to do tricks for their treats and would rush into the kitchen to get their treats and do perfect sits, downs, and stays.  Now, they wait in the living room, already in their down position, seemingly wanting to skip all the unnecessary hoops John makes them jump through just to get a treat.   I am starting to wonder if they are trying to disprove the theory “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and I am the old dog.


But, all this pales in comparison to the new counter surfing habit Fudge has developed in her seventh year of life.  It started with a breakfast casserole and the other night was my banana bread.  I was so proud of myself for baking four loaves of banana bread to freeze when we get company.  I used to throw bananas out all the time, but a sister-in-law mentioned she uses the brown ones to make banana bread and freezes them for her sons to take home when they visit and just like that I had a new idea that I intend to take credit for whenever I see my sister-in-law again.


After I made the bread I set it on the counter to cool and forgot about it until John came to bed and said, “Everyone enjoyed your banana bread!”  When I asked who everyone was since we live alone, he answered Fudge.  He said he kept hearing a funny noise in the kitchen and when he went around the corner to check Fudge was starting on her second loaf of bread.  The first one she had eaten all the sides of the loaf and left the middle intact.  I will have to remember that next time I serve her brunch on a silver platter.  She likes breakfast casseroles and bread crust, washed down with muddy water from a plant.  Vern, the newly hired butler, can bark each course as it is being served.


I guess life would be pretty boring if Fudge and Vern grew up, although I am willing to give it a try if I can convince them it is time! I anticipate Fudge will turn her nose up at the idea or stick it in a potted plant while Vern barks his refusal.

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Lately I have been starring in my own version of the movie, Groundhog Day. If you haven’t seen the movie I can sum it up for you very quickly. It was about a weatherman sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and somehow ends up in a time warp and keeps repeating the same day over and over again.  I really never understood why anyone would leave it up to a rodent to predict the weather, but I do know that once my sister attended a Groundhog Day party and they had cookies shaped like groundhogs to eat.  I remember when she told me about the refreshments and seemed far more excited than I thought was reasonable and how I listened to her entire monologue and then said, “Why are you such a doofus?”


The reason I am bringing all of this up is because lately my life has been just like the movie except in place of a groundhog I have two Doodles and a husband.  Every single night at bedtime we go through the same routine and no matter how many times I mention that the routine is not working, it continues as if I am also trapped in a time warp.


Usually in the evenings Fudge and I watch TV back in my bedroom and John and Vern stay out in the living room.  Around ten and almost always at the end of a great show, Vern comes back to the bedroom and stares at me.  What he wants is anyone’s guess and he has the remarkable ability to time his walk by to when it is the least convenient for me to get up and help him.  At this point I like to say very loudly, “Go tell daddy what you want!”  Sometimes I repeat my request in the hopes that Vern didn’t hear me the first time as he continues to stare at me or hope maybe my loud voice will break the trance John is obviously in in the living room and he will come and get Vern.  That never happens.  What does happen is I get up with Vern and thus begins our nightly ritual called “What does Vern want?”


I always start with his water dish, which is usually bone dry.  I spend half my day filling up the dog’s water dish.  The weird thing is they have two water dishes, but both of them only seem to drink from the one on the right.  I have switched the bowls after cleaning and they still always prefer the one on the right.  Vern is a big drinker.  If you fill his water dish in front of him, he is driven to thank you by drinking all the fresh water you just gave him and making sure by the obnoxious sounds he makes doing it that you know he enjoyed every drop.  My mom is like Vern in that she is nuts about her water.  She has the nurses at her care facility jumping through hoops to fill her water cup “just right” with ice and water and then it is either too heavy for her to lift or too light because it isn’t full enough.  I have actually had to pour some of the water out and God help you if you pour too much and miss the invisible fill line that only mom can see.  I am about ready to buy her a canteen to keep around her neck, but then I would have to spend my time at our visits filling and emptying that canteen until I got the water level just right.  Suggestions like “couldn’t you just take some sips and get the water down to where you want it?” might render the same response I got when I told her I wanted Archer to call me Lolly and John Pop, so we would be Lolly Pop.  She looked right at me and said, “Laurie, you are some kind of stupid!”  It isn’t always fun to visit a 90-year-old woman without a filter.


It isn’t that I mind filling the dog’s water dish, it is just that I mind that no one else seems to notice when it is empty. It is like emptying the dishwasher to me, which has caused more fights in our house than any psychiatrist would deem healthy.  I just don’t know why I am the only one who has to do it. The clean light on the dishwasher that says the dishes are clean and the empty water dish are like flashing neon lights to me that say, “take care of this NOW!”  To everyone else in the family it must say, “leave area quickly and prepare flimsy excuse for not completing task.” And trust me when I say, I have heard some great excuses.  Once, John said he didn’t empty the dishwasher because he was afraid it would wake me up and unless I set the full trash bag directly on top of the stove on the day he makes himself eggs for breakfast the trash is not getting to the trash can by his hands.  Even then, I would be afraid we might have a fire when he turned the gas burner on and claimed he never saw the trash bag.


So, every night, I begin with Vern’s water dish and almost always find it empty and when I comment that Vern doesn’t have any water I never feel it gets the reaction I think it should.  Most of the time I get one OK or a vacant “I have no idea what you just said” look and no one ever jumps up to get Vern his water.  Sometimes it is water that Vern wants, other times he walks over to the treat bowl and stares at it willing me to get him a treat.  Usually he has to go out and I often think he comes to me because I am the only one who even notices his stare.  All of these things pale in comparison to the routine we go through night after night when John comes to bed. 


Like I said, Fudge and I might be watching TV or we might both be asleep when John comes to bed.  There is no fanfare or lollygagging going on when John decides it is bedtime. He walks around to his side of the bed and pushes anything on his side over and hops in.  I could be in the middle of paying bills or downloading pictures from my camera and just like that it’s all closer to me than it needs to be.  And then I wait because I know Vern is coming and sure enough, it is never long and Vern is standing at my side of the bed doing his stare thing.  So, just for fun, I always ask, “did you take Vern out before you came to bed?”  The responses can vary from “ I didn’t know he had to go out “ to “He was sleeping and didn’t have to go out” but what all the responses mean are John’s part is done and Laurie’s is just beginning.  And so it begins. I start at the water dish, which will be dry, and then move on to the front door to let Vern out. If I am lucky, Fudge will wake up and go out, too.  If I am not lucky, she will feign sleep until I get back in bed and then time her “up button” to the moment I get back in bed. All this is happening while John is enjoying his Kindle!  In all fairness to John, I think we both know Vern is going to come get me even if John routinely took the dogs out before bedtime.  I think it is Vern’s way of having me “tuck him in.” About thirty minutes after this whole thing started and right after I give them their final treat of the night, I am back in bed.  I am almost positive right before I fall to sleep, I can hear my mom’s voice saying, “Laurie, you are some kind of stupid!”

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The Power of Persuasion!

This morning I got up earlier than everyone else and turned on the TV.  There happened to be a show on with a couple of women trying to sell embroidery machines.  I have no interest in sewing, knitting, or needlework of any kind, but I found myself mesmerized by what they were doing and thinking that maybe I needed an embroidery machine.  Keep in mind the last sewing project I did was probably in my high school Home Ec Class where I tried to make a one piece jumpsuit and ended up cutting the back of the legs 4 inches shorter than the front.  My teacher had me sew a panel and piece it in so the front and back lengths were the same, but it looked stupid and I don’t think I ever wore it out of class.  I mean if a six-foot tall girl is going to wear a one-piece plaidish jumpsuit around town there just shouldn’t be anything else like a panel in back to call attention to the outfit.  Luckily, I was able to turn the TV off before I called in with my credit card information and ordered something else that I would open later in the week and wonder what I had been thinking at the time of the order.


I am going to say the same thing happened when I found out about Doodles.  We used to take an annual cross country ski trip every year and once, when we were out and about on one of the trails a woman and her dog happened by our group. The dog was one of the most beautiful dogs I had ever seen and he had a name like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin or something equally historic that I can no longer recall.  I just remember I loved the dog and his name.  As they passed by, I asked her what kind of dog it was and where she had gotten him and this started me on thinking I might need a Doodle. Her dog was so well behaved that the only thing that could have been better about him was if I could have paid for him in 5 easy pays plus tax and shipping and handling. Thankfully, she didn’t want to sell him or I may have had to leave the ski trip and travel home with my new dog and never would have ended up with my Fudge and Vern.  By the time we got back to the lodge, however, the seed was sown and I started my search right there on the Internet for my own Betsy Ross or Eleanor Roosevelt.


I really do have to give that dog credit for putting Doodles on my radar.  I don’t remember even knowing about them until that chance encounter in the woods.  Of course, I had no idea how to pick a good one, but I was sure they would all be as well behaved and adorable as the dog I had met.  Just like the time I saw the Rachael Ray pots and pans on QVC that came in the greatest blue color ever, no one was going to talk me out of those pans or in this case, a Doodle.  John tried, too.  He kept telling me to wait until my heart had healed from the death of our dog and to make sure I really wanted to start over with a puppy.  Usually, I would respond to him by asking him to take a look at the adorable puppy I just found in the cutest chocolate color and he would shake his head knowing he had lost the battle before it had even begun.


John also knows that I pick most things by color and my biggest disappointment in life is that I drive a grey van that I call “the Boring Mobile”.  I even told the salesmen that Toyota needed to get with the program and realize not everyone wants to drive a black, white, or grey car.  If they would have had a burnt orange one on the lot, I wouldn’t even have needed a test-drive before I drove it home.  I picked my blue van by telling the sales woman I wanted a pretty color and a DVD player.  Save all the bells and whistles for someone else, but give the outside of my van some pop.  I also won’t even consider a white car and don’t care what the deal is or the savings.  It wouldn’t be enough to make me drive a white car.  We own several extra bikes because I bought them based on color, before John insisted I go to a dealer and get fitted for a bike.   I was less than thrilled to see that the bike that fit me was black and continued to look around the sales floor for a snappy teal one even while John was paying for the bike. 


Getting a dog on impulse or strictly by color can be the worst mistakes you ever make and far worse for the dog when you figure that out later.  The trouble is puppies are so darn cute that you instantly want to take one home and it is only after you get home you realize they can be more work than cute.   I am sure most people who know dogs can also tell you that the odds of me ending up with a dog exactly like the one I saw in the woods that day were slim to none.  That dog was meandering along beside his owner content to let the world go by.  The dog I picked by color would have run away the minute I let her off leash and returned at some point dragging a deer she hunted down behind her.  Nothing about my Fudge says meandering and lucky for her, I was in it for the long haul.  I am also willing to accept that the Nature versus Nurture theory could go either way when talking about my Fudge, although I could put up a good argument that she came this way and it was exacerbated by my lack of training.  And then we have my Vern.  The dog in the woods seemed very smart to me and just this morning, Vern had to be escorted down the back steps to do his business and then couldn’t find the opening to get back up the steps.  He went around to the wrong side and stared at me through the fence looking on to our deck like he was willing me to make it open. I had to go get him and he greeted me like I had just saved his life.


I do love my Rachael Ray pots and pans and my blue van lasted for almost 300,000 miles, so maybe I am on to something or it is just dumb luck.  I also wouldn’t trade the dogs I have for any other dogs in the world.  Do I wish Fudge would meander more? You bet!  Do I think the breeder tricked me when she said Fudge was content to let the world go by?  All the time, and I am sure she left out the part where Fudge watches “the world” go by and then gets up and chases it into oblivion. Do I wish Vern had a little more finesse and practiced his “here I come, ready or not!” form of affection a lot less? I know my toes do!  Actually, I am pretty sure all of me would appreciate a heads up when Vern comes barreling through the house.  Luckily for my dogs I have low standards. Not everyone does and that is why when you are making a major life commitment to a dog you should choose wisely and not let impulse play a part in your decision.

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The Unwelcome Visitor!

We have a snake on our property.  The first time we saw it I didn’t actually see it, but John asked me if I noticed it by the gate when I got home.  I had arrived home moments before he did and must have stepped right over it.  Usually, I am on high alert on hikes for snakes, but I didn’t think one would have the audacity to show up at our house.  My neighbor in Pennsylvania always told me that I didn’t have to worry about snakes because they shy away from yards with dogs.  My neighbor was certainly not a Herpetologist but anyone who tells me something that allows me to feel safe in my own yard is an expert in my opinion. My sister in law once told me that bats don’t come out after midnight and even though I was pretty sure they were nocturnal creatures, I was willing to believe she meant they didn’t come out after midnight and show up at my in-law’s house when I was staying there.  I believed it to be the God’s honest truth right up until she yelled, “There is a bat in the house!” and it was after midnight.


John knows how I feel about snakes, so the fact that he asked me if I had seen the snake when I was walking around our house like a normal person and not out firing our BB gun at the front gate and screaming, “I WANT TO MOVE!” should have been his first clue not to ask the question.  Why would you tell someone who is terrified of snakes that you just passed one out front of their house?  I am fine going through life with rose-colored glasses on and don’t like anyone who tries to make me take them off. But, it gets worse.  When I told our neighbor that we had a snake out front, she told me that they had one down by their dock, which means we are one step closer to these snakes taking over our neighborhood.  Her husband went on to say it was just a Michigan water snake. JUST? WHAT? A MICHIGAN WATER SNAKE? I didn’t know there was a Michigan water snake and had been told by John that our lake was not the kind of water snakes liked.  See, most of the time he knows what makes his life easier.


Our other neighbor helped us get our pontoon boat in the water and also took us on a tour of their lovely home.  When I told her we had a snake, she casually mentioned that it wouldn’t be the last one I see and went on to say we could borrow any of their paddleboards, but just make sure to make some noise in case a snake is lounging out by the boards.  And they all add that it is JUST a garter snake and they are non poisonous, like that makes it all right to encounter one.  Or our other neighbor said they are so good for the environment and take care of bugs and moles like I should embrace the next one I see and thank him for his service to our neighborhood.  I don’t care if the snake can cook meals for me and do my laundry, I will never get used to seeing one anywhere near me.  It is like we are starring in a movie called The Snakeford Wives and I am the only woman who hasn’t had the Kool-Aid.


To me, there is no such thing as JUST a garter snake.  The word just doesn’t belong in the same sentence as snake.  It’s like saying Ted Bundy was just a nice guy, right up until he killed someone.  And if you tell me the snake is more afraid of me than I am of the snake, I might hit you.  I have never once come across a snake that reared up and screamed, “IT’S A HUMAN!” as it slithered wildly away from me.  I get so scared when I see a snake that if my knees could touch they would be knocking loudly enough for a neighbor to hear.  Does a snake shake so much when it sees a human that it looks like it is standing on one of those vintage butt shaking vibrating belt machines? Does a snake run into its house and spend the next couple of hours reacting violently to any human stupid enough to brush up against me?  I dare John to try and get frisky in bed on the day I see a snake because I am likely to dislocate his hand while screaming, “There’s a snake in our bed!”   Of course, John likes to say he can’t help it if he is built like an Anaconda, which always makes me counter with,  “oh, I thought it was just a garter snake!”  Anyways, John’s witnessed all this enough times to know it ain’t pretty and one of the many reasons he usually does not ask if I saw the snake out by our gate.


We all have our thing. My daughter is petrified of spiders. They don’t bother me in the least.  John doesn’t like bees.  They don’t bother me in the least.  Anytime I chide my daughter about her response to a little spider, she counters back with, “Mom, it is the same thing you feel about snakes,” and I realize she is right.  I sometimes watch that show Naked and Afraid mainly because it is so beyond my comprehension that people want to get naked and then get dropped into some horrible place with a naked stranger. Why? The last one I saw some woman was petrified of snakes and was dropped into a place where they had some seriously big snakes. She was hoping it would help her get over her fear of snakes.  Yes, I think walking on top of a large, poisonous snake in my bare feet would cure me too, because I would be dead from either a snake bite or a heart attack.  If I was on that show, I would be naked and afraid the other guy would say, “I didn’t know we were allowed to bring canteens,” when I met him and I would have to say, “Those are my boobs.”


Maybe I am just mad I wasn’t smart enough to pitch that show to some executive since I have had my fair share of people being afraid when they saw me naked.  We recently had a case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in our county and I told John he was going to have to start examining me for ticks every night and he asked if he could phone a friend. And just the other day I was Skyping Archer and singing him that song about your ears hanging low and Megan and Doc started laughing and said, “Are you saying ears or your rear?  Mom, try it again substituting the word boobs for ears and we think you have a hit on your hands!” Aren’t they a couple of comedians?

Do Your Ears Hang Low?
Do They Wobble to and Fro?
Can You Tie Them in a Knot?
Can You Tie Them in a Bow?
Can You Throw Them Over Your Shoulder Like a Continental Soldier?

Do Your Ears Hang Low?
Do Your Ears Hang High?
Do They Reach Up to the Sky?
Do The Droop When They're Wet?
Do They Stiffen When They're Dry?
Can You Semaphore Your Neighbor with a Mimimum of Labor?

Do Your Ears Hang High?
Do Your Ears Hang Wide?
Do They Flap From Side to Side?
Do They Wave in the Breeze?
From the Slightest Little Sneeze?
Can You Soar Above the Nation with a Feeling of Elation?

Do Your Ears Hang Wide?
Do Your Ears Fall Off?
When You Give a Great Big Cough?
Do They Lie There on the Ground?
Or Bounce Up at Every Sound?
Can You Stick Them in Your Pocket Just Like Little Davy Crockett?

Do Your Ears Fall Off?

All this doesn’t have much to do with our unwelcome visitor and thankfully, John relocated him the other day and told me not to ask any questions.  He had no choice since Fudge was slightly obsessed with the snake and by obsessed I mean, pacing in the house, pawing at the door, and digging under our fence.  I suspect she had an encounter with it on our deck one day since my mind clicked “SNAKE” when I called her to come inside and saw she was swatting at something.  Just like in a horror movie where the victim runs straight to the sound of the odd noise she heard, I moved towards Fudge but whatever it was had left.  I was glad it was gone because the only help I could give Fudge if the thing wrapped her in a head lock would be “It’s been nice knowing you!” as I ran inside and locked the door.  I can only pray Vern would join me and make it to the door before I locked it. 

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The Terrible Six and Sevens!!

I recently reunited with a “step” niece after twenty-six years apart.  The separation was through no fault of our own and we were only able to find each other after she finally joined Facebook, for which I will be forever thankful.  The fact that fate moved us within a couple of hours of each other just sealed the deal.  In preparation for her trip to our house, I wrote her and asked what kinds of things she liked to eat.  I burst out laughing when she wrote back that she loved breakfast casseroles and knew then that we were going to need some time to get reacquainted.  I hate to cook and she must have been too young to remember that minor detail, so I wrote back that I hated cooking, but I would be willing to throw an egg and some cheese in a bowl and microwave it for her.  She wrote back to skip the casserole, that she wasn’t being picky, but had just answered my survey honestly and didn’t need any special treatment.  She has a great sense of humor and went on to say she would just take dry toast, which in my mind meant I could hand her a slice of stale bread and call it a day.  I hate to cook so much that I recently told John the day he retires, I am retiring from cooking forever and all he said was he thought when you retired from something it meant you had actually been doing it for years.


Well, I have just a bit of that old Lutheran guilt and I got to thinking that I hadn’t seen my niece in 26 years and if she liked breakfast casseroles then by golly I should make her a breakfast casserole.  I scoured the Internet to find the perfect recipe and set out to make the best darn casserole the world has ever seen.  I even got up early on Saturday to make sure the casserole went into the oven and would be ready when everyone woke up.  I only eat Oatmeal for breakfast so I had to take their word for it, but John and my niece said the casserole was very good.  While we were all reminiscing and enjoying our breakfast out in the living room, I happened to look over to the kitchen and I remember thinking, “who is getting another helping of my breakfast casserole?” because I could see a little brown head of curly hair bobbing up and down near the counter which contained our morning meal.  About the same time I was asking myself that question it dawned on me that all of the humans in the house were sitting in the room I was in and that little brown mop of hair belonged to Fudge.  She had her front paws up on the counter and was enjoying the fact that I had cooked something good.  I could tell she liked it by the way she was licking it as she stood there.  That casserole had ten eggs in it, a healthy amount of cheese, half and half, a pound of expensive sausage (I got a very good kind), some hash brown potatoes, 9000 calories per slice, and my blood, sweat, and tears, and in a matter of seconds was rendered inedible by one naughty Doodle.


This behavior is brand new and Fudge is seven.  It started when Jane (of Jane, Rooney, and Stuart) came to visit and brought along a bag of homemade dog treats that she called Puppy Crack.  Both dogs went nuts for the treats and I don’t know what was in it, but I do know after consuming it, Fudge humped Vern for the first time ever and counter surfed to get more of the treat.   We had just given the dogs a couple of the treats and I was giving Jane and Bob a tour of the house when Fudge and Vern jumped up on our guest bed and Fudge immediately mounted Vern and humped him.  Again this was a first ever and I haven’t seen it happen again, but if you are going to witness a first time, embarrassing behavior from one of your dogs it is always fun to have company there with you.  At least I had witnesses that I am not making this stuff up.  All I can say is I chalked the behavior up to those dog treats and began to suspect that Jane had slipped in an aphrodisiac and testosterone booster just for kicks and to get mentioned in one of my blogs. Needless to say, I had to hide the Puppy Crack and it was doled out in very small amounts for fear I would find Fudge mixing up cocktails one night for Vern and herself and then moving the party to the guest room.


Vern is six. Up until this time he has had a healthy amount of fear in him, which I have always found to be a good thing because he won’t venture far from us.  The few times Fudge has made a break for it, Vern will start to follow and then quickly decides it is better to stay with the sure thing.  Fudge takes off, won’t come when she is called, and then returns when it suits her with no remorse and an expression on her face that seems to say, “what’s the big deal?” The last time it happened I was dumb enough to believe she had changed and stopped leashing her when we walked from the front gate to the open car, a distance of about 10 feet.  For weeks she had gained my trust by quietly jumping into the car. I had even gone so far as to boast to John that he was being a nervous Nellie and Fudge was a changed dog and off she went with my words still hanging in the air.  She led us a merry chase around the neighborhood, always one step ahead of us, until she must have overheard me yelling at John to just let her go see if she could find another idiot who fell for her tricks and just like that, she returned to our house.  Luckily, Vern knew his place, which was in the air-conditioned car watching and hearing the whole event unfold from his front row seat. 


That is until this week when he too made a break for it while I was placing a leashed Fudge into the car.  Off he went to see if anything was interesting at our neighbor’s carport and then across the street to another neighbor’s house to see what was going on over there.  He turned a deaf ear to my cries to return and even went so far as to hesitate, like he just might run again, as I approached him.  The difference is Fudge will come back with a sullen teenager look on her face like we are holding her back from a lifetime of fun, but Vern is the happiest naughty dog on the planet.  Everything about him read that he was proud as punch at himself and having the time of his life.  When I grabbed him and brought him back to the car his tail wagged all the way home even though I was telling him that I was so disappointed in him and what a bad dog he had become.  He greeted Fudge like he had been gone on a long trip and I just know she whispered in his ear that he was “one of us” now and to look for more adventures in the future.  So for now they have both lost their privileges and are escorted to the car by me in what I hope is a humiliating turn of events for two naughty Doodles.


Why now and what’s next?  At the rate we are going if Fudge and Vern add two naughty tricks into their repertoire each year, John and I are screwed.  We might as well get a couple of those Life Alert gadgets so we can call for help when we need it….Help!! I’ve fallen chasing my dog all around the neighborhood and I can’t get up.  Help! My dogs are humping again and I fell trying to separate them and I can’t get up. Help! My dogs just stole my car keys and are trying to go for a joy ride and I fell trying to stop them!  If this keeps up, we may be the new spokespeople for Life Alert and the benefits of carrying one if you own two big dogs with minds of their own.


Finally, if you are asking what happened to the breakfast casserole? I threw it away.  I had no choice even though John said to serve it to his brother and wife because Fudge barely touched it. I guess he is still carrying a grudge from the time his brother stole his box of Ding Dongs and ate all of them.  Luckily, I have that touch of Lutheran guilt and knew throwing it away was the right thing to do, even though I likened it to Monet having to throw away one of his masterpieces.  I can only assume from Monet’s body of work that he didn’t have a couple of Doodles distracting him in his studio.


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Bed of Thorns!


I think the Lord is trying to kill me.  I know I sound just like my mom when I say that, but hear me out.  My mom has the innate ability to make almost any situation about her.  We could have a nuclear disaster and all she would say is, “why does stuff like this always happen on my hair day?” You could tell her you fell and broke every bone in your body and she would counter with, “How do you think I feel? I’m ninety and I can’t get my Netflix to work.”  Of course, most of our worst traits are unrecognizable to ourselves, so believe me when I say it, and also believe that I know the Lord is trying to kill me.  Why else would he continue to send rain and cold temperatures our way when he knows darn well Vern only wants to sleep with us when the temperatures drop?


I have spent most of the past two weeks putting our summer stuff out and taking it back in, so forgive me if I feel this is personal.  I actually love cold weather, but there is a time and place for it and May is not the time.  I love when the dogs sleep elsewhere in the house at night because it means I might be able to actually sleep in my bed rather than spending the night pretending I am auditioning for Cirque du Soleil.   You would think a king size bed would be big enough for two humans and two dogs, but, and I hate to name names, it is not when one of those dogs is Fudge. 


Fudge is my heart dog, but if I had to go back and pick a food name for her, I think her new name might be Drake’s Devil Dog and I would call her DeeDee for short.


The dog is a genius, but doesn’t always use her powers for good. My sister-in-law once got me a magnet about a woman who had net yet decided how to use her powers and I now think she was referring to Fudge when she gave it to me.


One of her favorite past times is to get something over on Vern, which is about the same thing as shooting fish in a barrel.  Vern spends a large part of his day trying to drink dirty water out of various containers on our patio and looking completely surprised when I tell him to stop.   This can mean that Fudge gets quickly bored with their  “battle of the wits/wit” and I think, starts to eye me as the next one up on the intelligence chain.  In other words, she likes to test me to see if I can pass her tests.  My friend, Rose, has a son who once said he loved to talk to John because they were on the same intellectual level and when I said, “What about me?” all Rose said was that he hadn’t mentioned me.  I am pretty sure this is how Fudge feels about me, too.


Just the other day, she came up to me limping with her back leg extended high in the air.  She timed it perfectly to the exact moment Lowes pulled up to our house with a delivery.  Usually when this happens, I see the extended leg as my cue to check between her pads and make sure there isn’t a foreign object there and to make over her and her injury. I have to say there is usually a rock or small something in between her pads, which I remove and always end my treatment with a dose of hugs and kisses.  This time I couldn’t find anything, but it kept happening, so I kept checking, only to come up empty handed.  It wasn’t easy trying to cope with a delivery while simultaneously playing doctor with Fudge. I was so worried that something was seriously wrong with Fudge’s back leg that I started imaging a vet visit and x-rays and casts and cones….and then out of the corner of my eye I saw her leap at Vern and play bow and I knew I’d been had.  I am not out and out saying she could out act Lassie or Rin Tin Tin in some big Hollywood movie, but I think she could give them a run for their money.  Even Vern seemed to know it was a ruse because he kept trying to roughhouse with her and I kept telling him to go easy on her because her leg hurt.  So, either Fudge told Vern ahead of time to watch me jump through hoops or Vern has overtaken me in the smarts department.  Both scenarios scare the heck out of me and I can only hope John doesn’t come home from work one day to find Vern and me enjoying a “dirty water from a plant container” cocktail and me telling him, “Vern said it tasted good!”


The thing is I know we are supposed to let our dogs decide their pack order, but Vern lacks the killer instinct famous in our family and it kills me to watch him lose time and time again. Everything in life for me is a competition and I just don’t get those people who stop their car when they should be driving to let someone out in front of them.  Don't they know we are in a race to get where we are going? When the kids and I used to go to Church Bingo, we had to arrive early so I could find my cards and no one was going to cut in front of me for fear if they did they would get the cards meant for me and win.  Trust me when I say Helen Keller and her teacher could have asked me if I minded if they cut in front of me and I would have asked teacher how to sign NOT A CHANCE IN HELL. 


Every night, in order for all of us to rest, the sleeping positions for each of us are crucial.  Unfortunately, the prime spot for sleeping seems to be at the bottom of the bed nearest John’s legs.  It is important that Vern get that spot if any of us are going to sleep.  Fudge knows this and night after night she beats him out of that spot, which means Vern has to contort his body to a less spacious spot or a spot in John’s or my space.  This is where the trouble starts at bedtime.  I get in bed first and try to get Vern in next, but instead of immediately going to his spot and lying down, he always has to come up to where I am and greet me and in that split second, Fudge jumps up and gets the good spot.  He greets me as if he hasn’t seen me in the longest time and doesn’t seem to understand my desperate pleas of, “VERN, STOP IT!  GET YOUR SPOT!  GET YOUR SPOT!  I HAVE BEEN WITH YOU ALL DAY!  I DON’T NEED TO SAY HI AGAIN!  GET YOUR SPOT! CRAP, YOU JUST LOST YOUR SPOT!”  So, while Fudge is stretching and preening from the coveted spot, Vern seems a little dumbfounded that it happened again.


I realize that the fairest thing would be for them to take turns because Fudge has a right to get the favorite spot some nights too, but fair does not make for a good nights sleep!  We have two guest bedrooms, lots of comfortable furniture, and numerous dog beds on the first floor, and they both want the spot on the bed by John’s legs. Maybe the solution is to move John and his legs to one of the dog beds, but I am not sure how to spin that to John to make it seem reasonable.  Move Fudge, you say…well, you might be surprised how one 50 pound dog can turn herself into a block of concrete to stay put.  So, we suffer, and not in silence, as morning after morning we wake up to find we are both clinging to the edge of our side of the bed tugging hard to get one part of a sheet or blanket out from under the dogs.  Sometime during the night the dogs seemed to have come to some kind of agreement to work together to take over the majority of the bed and are usually stretched back to back in the middle of the bed.  Of course, that leaves their legs facing our bodies and pushing us further away from each other.  If we had these dogs when we were younger, I don’t think there would have been a Megan or Hayley.  Just the other day when we woke up, I looked over at John, across the 160 pounds of dog between us, and said, “ Does this seem normal to you?”  All he said in response was, “it’s the life we chose.”  

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Weird things have been happening around here and it all started when I dropped my phone.  About a month ago I was at my mom’s and for some stupid reason I threw my phone from the chair I was sitting on to her bed.  I forget my phone a lot, so I was trying to make sure I put it next to my purse and apparently, I was too lazy to walk the 5 feet to make that happen.  My mom and I both watched as my throw fell short and my phone slid off her bed and onto the floor.  That throw cost me $230 for a replacement phone and for some company named Genius to try and retrieve the data from the old phone.  Keep in mind that was the cost WITH the phone insurance I purchased when I got the phone, which I have now figured out is just another name for Rip Off.  Everything was fine until I dropped my phone again at the airport.  This time I had placed the phone inside Archer’s baseball cap and when I went to get his hat, the phone slid out again and landed on the parking lot floor and broke.  Back to the store where I ended up just buying a new phone and when all was said and done, Archer left with a new children’s tablet.   What can I say? The power of persuasion gets me every time and is the reason flipping channels late at night is not a good idea for me.  I have succumbed several times to those home shopping channels, only to have the item show up at our house and make me wonder what was I thinking.


Things are different on the second phone and that means I don’t really know what I am doing.  So far, I posted a GIF to a group I am in on Facebook.  We were talking about dog rescue and all of a sudden the family from Black-ish showed up waving.  I was as confused as everyone in the group and more so, when someone asked me why I had posted it.  I didn’t even know what a GIF was or how to post one, so it will forever remain a mystery.  Yesterday, I posted a bunch of emoticons and butt dialed a friend in Canada.  I had no idea my butt was so talented, because the only thing it has been good for up until this point is forcing me to buy bigger pants. 


What does all this have to do with Vern having an innie or outie?  Well, not much, other than to emphasize that odd things have been happening to me and I can blame some of the things on a new phone which appears smarter than the user. In other words, the crazy things happening can be explained, and I hope you keep that in mind when I tell you about Vern.  Fudge and Vern went to the groomer’s yesterday.  They were in bad shape and although I placed the blame on me being gone for ten days and them being under the care of their dad, if I am honest, that had nothing to do with it.  Usually, I only think about grooming when they reach the “homeless” stage, but this time they had surpassed even that stage and had moved into the “neglect” stage when I dropped them off.  My instructions were for them to be bathed and given a short, summer cut.  She even asked if that meant leaving only a quarter of an inch all the way around and I countered with leaving one half inch. 


My dogs hate going to the groomer’s and I hate it even more, because her salon is located down a long, narrow hall and I have visions of getting trapped in there with my two dogs as other dogs are going out.  Usually, the groomer only has my dogs there at their appointment time, but yesterday some woman, without an appointment, had snuck in right before me and wanted my groomer to get a tick off of her dog.  Nothing makes me angrier than to have an appointment and have to wait for a drop-in and especially when that someone has not treated her dog for fleas and ticks and is now shocked that her dog has FOUR ticks.  By the time the groomer finished with the “I have never had this problem before and where are ticks found?” lady (I almost shouted, “on your dog, idiot!”) my poor dogs were beyond nervous and ready to go.  They always go into the groomers as meek and well mannered dogs and come out like they have had a couple of Red Bulls during their appointment and are now ready to paint the town red.  When I picked them up after their appointment, we headed to the park for a walk and that is when it happened.


We were walking along or rather I was being pulled along, since the adrenalin was still pumping, and I looked down and couldn’t see Vern’s penis.  If only I had my camera with me or knew how to take a picture with my new phone, I could have had proof that I am not making this up.  Vern may not be the most well endowed dog, but you can see it and I swear, I couldn’t see it hanging down.  And before you think I spend too much time looking for body parts on my dogs, I don’t, but when something goes missing that is normally there, you notice.    If Vern hadn’t been so happy, I would have thought the groomer took everything down to a quarter inch and that I should have given more specific instructions.  I actually said to Vern, “what happened to your penis?” and when he didn’t respond, I had him lie down and roll over and took a closer look and all I could see was a funny looking nub…almost like it was tucked back inside itself.  I honestly didn’t know what to do and didn’t think shouting, “HELP…I can’t find my dog’s penis!” was a good idea at a local park, so I poked it.  Again, I didn’t want to end up in the newspaper as the woman caught poking a dog’s penis at the park, but I thought maybe a quick poke would shed some light on the subject and cause a “reemergence “ of sorts, or at least assure me that something was there that my eyes could not see.  I draw the line at one “clinical type” poke and when nothing spectacular happened, I encouraged Vern to go potty.   When he finally lifted his leg to pee, it seemed as if things got righted and all was finally well on Vern’s underside. FYI: if you Google “Does stress cause a dog’s penis to shrink or disappear?” don’t be alarmed at what “pops up”.


Well, you can only imagine John’s response when I told him what happened.  Normally, the big news in our house when John gets home is whether or not I cooked, but this time I greeted him with the news about Vern’s penis and when I got to the poke part, he said I might want to choose my audience wisely when telling my story.  He also said this is the not the first time I haven’t been able to find a penis and in the past, I never seemed to go the extra mile with a poke.  All I responded back with was that my mother taught me that nothing good ever came from a poked penis and in Vern’s case, I felt it was a medical procedure that had to be done. He was glad I had not called him at work in a panic and forced him to try and calm me with co-workers listening.  I knew exactly what he meant because once, Hayley and Megan got into a fight about sharing string cheese and Hayley put it down her pants and Megan called me at work to tattle.  It wasn’t easy trying to whisper forcefully to Hayley to take the cheese out of her pants without drawing my co-worker’s attention that my kids put food down their pants as a kind of “I am on base and safe,” technique.


I know what happened yesterday after the groomer.  I am not nuts and I saw it with my own two eyes. It had nothing to do with George Constanza’s pool and shrinkage theory and I believe everything to do with stress. 


It really did scare me and proved how far I was willing to go to help one of my dogs.  I will also say I was thankful that I always carry antibacterial soap in my car and I used plenty of it when I got back there.  Vern seems fine today. I, however, have lost my cell phone again and accidentally dialed Megan’s number twice to see if I could find my phone when it rang.  Needless to say all I got was Megan calling me from work to ask why I kept calling her.  I didn’t dare tell her about Vern and his penis for fear she would call her dad and I might end up in a “special place” wearing a very tight jacket. 

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