Saturday, August 30, 2014

Tomato addiction

It’s tomato season which means fresh salsa, open-faced tomato sandwiches, pasta sauces. But you have to watch the thieves, those canine foodies who pick off the ripe toms one by one, right under your nose.

I just caught the galoot Atticus standing in the raised bed, licking a ripe large tomato through the upper rung of the tomato cage, like it was a giant lollipop. I requested he stop, and he looked up, paused and then ignored me. The tom was damaged with teeth marks, so I pitched it into the yard. The chi-weenie George stole it and ate the whole thing.

She started the tomato pillaging a few years ago, plucking just the ripest perfect ones, those orange sweet cherries. She always seemed to get to them before I could. Last year, I got few. 

Caught red handed/pawed. The first of many tomatoes off the vine, a la Georgina.

This summer we have a CSA and neither dog is tall enough to eat the ones off the high countertop. I can’t blame the two for wanting the red goodness. I mean, see how much we look forward to this time of year, eating these juicy, tangy, end of summer dreams?

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Because sometimes vet med has a sense of humor. A pun on the antibiotic doxycycline.

Why go up or down? It's hard to know which direction mama is headed.
Opportunity for rest: hand brace/ pillow.

The face made by the lid of my blender. Beets!

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Sometimes the planes of two different parts of life overlap a little too closely.  A few months ago I came into work to fill in for a few hours. A wonderful shepherd mix had died suddenly the night before and the owner wanted us to do a necropsy, or dog autopsy, to see what happened.

I put on my scrubs but forgot my work shoes, so ended up wearing my mary janes. I started the work in the back room, with a tech, a new very sharp knife, and gloves. We found twisted intestines, and there was nothing anyone could have done for this good dog.

We cleaned up the room and wrapped up our friend for the freezer for cremation pick-up. I had blood on my forearms and on my shoes, despite trying to be careful. And you can’t really shake the smell of blood and viscera, once it’s on your skin.

I went home, saddened. I had called the owner with the findings before I left the clinic. Grief formed a thick silence over the phone.

When I got home, I was mobbed by my pack, their noses to my shoes and my arms. I had changed back into street clothes, but their noses pick up what a human cannot. I felt queasy and wound up, and it was way past lunch, but I just couldn’t eat. I sat with my dogs quiet for awhile.

I ended up stepping out to get a sandwich later that day, and made a weird choice: I went to a local artisanal butcher where they cut up animals by the front counter. Thankfully, the butcher was on break when I placed my order. 

I went outside to eat on the street and people watch. I was almost able to let the earlier part of my day go, and then I bit into the gourmet sandwich with pickled asparagus, eggs, arugula, feta and beets. It was delicious. Then I realized beet juice was running down my wrists and it looked conspicuously like the recent blood that had been there. It was almost too much.

Then I saw a terrier go by on a bike, in its basket. The dog had on a minute helmet (the owner did not) and they pedaled by, almost an hallucination. The dog had a long suffering, I have to wear this dumb hat look on its face. The human motored along slowly, like it was the most natural thing in the world. And then things were good again, a sandwich, sun on my face, a summer breeze.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Post neophobic

One time we were up north, we took the little dogs on a trail. I wasn’t sure how Tiny Dog would do. She was brand new to our family, and I wasn’t sure how much she could see with her dry eye scars or if she’d easily spook outside.

Well, she motored ahead like a fully sighted, large dog: over logs, staying on the path, small feet behind me, and then straight into a pond. I fished out, but she wasn’t panicked. I was impressed. She’s quite a brave yet petite role model.


Well, I did it. I land-SUP’ed instead of water SUP’ed. I got on a longboard and grabbed a land paddle (check out Big Kahuna: And who doesn’t like to coast along? Off your bidpedal clumsiness into a glide instead…

And then I left the bike path for the road. The bike path provides the cushion of grass right near by. The road does not. I face planted/belly flopped on the pavement. Here is the damages list: chin and palm abrasions, bruise on my hip the color of a purple potato, and a very swollen, painful left hand. Note to self: buy wrist guards.

The radiograph isn’t screaming this: fracture. My left hand looks like a fat pillow and I cannot grip so well. I can gripe just fine, though.

Tiny Dog really wanted to come with me out the door to the car, jumping up on my calves. She wasn’t even afraid of the size of the board in my hands. I had to deposit her on the couch in disbelief that I ever go anywhere without her. How could I? 

This is us at work. She insists on going every day.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Wren has it, fear of new things, neophobia. I learned this word when I wrote about wild rat behavior for a job I had before vet school. Rats don’t like novel things—strange, unfamiliar objects could eat you, right?

Today Wren refused to come in the front door because I had left a large cooler on the stoop and she thought: thou shall not pass.

I am not so different. I don’t like going to parties with strangers, or going to a new place, like a yoga class the first time. I don’t have a fear of coolers, though.

On Saturday, I had gone to get out of a current neophobic rut and rent a SUP, a stand-up paddle board. I had talked to my brother about his SUP estuary adventures and I thought, I love water, I don’t mind falling in. And then the current issue of Whole Dog Journal had a piece on how to train your dog to ride the SUP with you. It was a herding dog in the article’s pictures, not a chihua, but still.

I got to the small, quiet urban lake, and all the SUPs were sold out. There was a teenage boy’s SUP birthday party and a college-age crew playing what looked like a very slow and awkward SUP water soccer.  So I rented a kayak and proceeded to drag my feet and hands in the water to cool down. The sun was pushing down and I really really wanted to get out of the boat to swim mid-lake, but I chickened out. I worried I couldn’t get back in, after. So much for trying new things.

Years ago, Sue rented a rowboat on this lake and took my red dog, Ouzel, and me out for a paddle. I wrote a poem about it, but I won't impose the whole thing on you. But indulge me below, with an excerpt, as a tribute, to my first dog, the number one in line of the heart of all the dogs I love. 

My red dog leaned his head out to drink and we leaned with him so he could reach.  Trees hid the city.  There was a settling inside, a quiet yellow filling us, the boat groaning from its oars, and me staring back at you. 

One can love light and the reflection of light.

The lake was my green home.