Armenia, dogs, housekeeping tips, travel

Cleaning mode has ended… now it’s time to leave for Armenia!

Bill got home yesterday at about 2:45 PM. I was in a very pissy mood by that point, because I’d been walking up and down the two flights of stairs in my house for hours, hauling laundry and checking the status of my loads. By the time he came home to get me for our visit to Wiesbaden, I was exhausted and cranky. I’d also just started a load and had one more to go. I didn’t like the idea of walking from the Theater parking garage to the art gallery. I asked Bill if he wouldn’t mind going alone.

He kind of demurred when I suggested that I stay home, because we needed to pick out a frame for my bird painting. He doesn’t trust his own taste. I told him to pick out something neutral, and if he had any concerns, to just email me. He sent me a private message with pictures, and it turned out that the mother of the guy who helped us– no doubt descended from the original owners who started the business in 1905, suggested a red frame. We ended up going with her suggestion! All three paintings will be ready for pick up on November 21st.

The house could still use a lot more cleaning, but we’ve run out of time, and I’ve run out of patience and stamina. On the positive side, the bedroom is much cleaner, and we both slept very well last night. I love fresh sheets, anyway, and I washed all of the bedding, so it smelled really fresh. The actual sheets got washed in the three hour “hygiene” cycle, so they are really clean. And, on the positive side, I didn’t see any evidence of bedbugs when I was cleaning yesterday. Of course, that could mean nothing… but for the next nine days, there will be no way for anything living to feed on us… at least not in this house. Hopefully, we won’t encounter anything creepy or crawly during our travels.

I decided to wash Noyzi’s bedding again as I’m writing this, just because. He’s already on his way to the Hundepension, so he’ll have a nice fresh bed when we all come back on the 19th. I put his bedding on a longer cycle, so maybe it’ll get cleaner.

I think I might start using the hygiene cycle for our sheets more often, since I noticed that they felt cleaner last night. On most days, I don’t do tons of laundry, so it’s no big deal if it takes three hours. Especially if I start the cycle at 5:30 AM, which I usually do.

Noyzi was so cute this morning. Bill made biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and I had one bite left that I didn’t think I could eat. I offered it to Noyzi, who took it very carefully. He tentatively chewed it, then brightened and jauntily wagged his little stubby tail as he was finishing it. Obviously, he approved!

I always marvel at how different Noyzi is than our beagles have been. He doesn’t gobble down food. I think it comes from being born a street dog and knowing instinctively that he has to be careful about what he eats. He often doesn’t eat right when I put food down for him. He eats when he’s hungry. And he doesn’t eat every thing I offer him. I’m sure it’s because some of his ancestors were poisoned. Street dogs are truly fascinating creatures.

Sorry to write such a mundane post today… But then, in my case, deep cleaning isn’t such a mundane activity. I don’t do a lot of it unless I’m motivated somehow. It would probably be a good thing if I were more into cleaning more thoroughly. That way, I could spare myself painful days like yesterday. My Apple Watch says I more than doubled my usual rings. Of course, that’s not saying much these days. In any case, cleaning kept me from worrying too much about our trip tonight.

I can’t believe that in 24 hours, I’ll be back in Yerevan… a city that changed me on so many levels. It’ll be a lot to unpack. If you’re interested in the trip, keep an eye on the travel blog (there’s a link by my heading). I will update as much as possible. As for this blog, will see what transpires. Maybe something will happen… or I’ll finish reading John Stamos’ book before I get back to Germany.

condescending twatbags, dogs, rants

Don’t leave your dog out when you aren’t home…

Here’s a very quick post as I recover from the day’s adventures. Yesterday, as Bill and I were on our way to Brno, I happened to read a human interest story that was shared by It was about a US mail carrier who happened to see a customer’s beagle after she’d been bitten by a copperhead snake. The dog, name of Ginger, had been left outside while her family wasn’t home. The postal carrier was kind enough to take the dog to the vet after leaving her owners a message on their ring camera.

I noticed the couple who owned the dog, name of Kelsey and Aaron Proctor, were understandably relieved when Ginger was helped by the postal worker, Holle Keene Prigmore. And I think Prigmore went above and beyond the call of duty when she helped Ginger, who might not have survived a venomous snake bite. One thing that disturbed me, though was amid the many compliments the Proctors and Prigmore got, there were some people who posted legitimate concern for Ginger. Apparently, it’s a normal thing for her to be left outside while her owners are working.

Now… don’t get me wrong. I grew up in rural Virginia. I know some people let their dogs roam at will, especially out in the country. However, I also know, having had one dog stolen and another hit by a car, that I won’t leave any dog of mine outside unattended. Too many bad things can happen. A snakebite would be bad enough, but I have experienced losing a dog to dognapping, and it was absolutely devastating. That was even worse than my first dog being hit and killed by a car, back in the 80s.

Ginger is a beagle, so she probably likes to hunt. Hopefully, she’s been spayed. It really is a lucky thing that the postal carrier saw her after she was bitten and was willing to help. Things might not have ended so well for Ginger, otherwise. Her owners say she is on the mend.

I noticed that Kelsey Proctor was answering almost everyone who commented on her negligence in leaving her dog outside, unattended. It seemed to me to be very immature behavior, especially when she wrote to one woman that she wasn’t going to let Ginger pee in her house. As someone who has cleaned up a lot of dog pee (and plenty of poop and vomit, too), I’d much rather have a dog have an accident on a rug than have one get very sick or die because I couldn’t be bothered to make sure the dog was safe. Moreover, there are liability issues, too. What if your dog hurts someone or another dog? What if she gets hit by a car and causes damage to a vehicle, or somehow otherwise damages another person’s property? Someone could pick her up thinking she’s a stray, or turn her in to animal control. I just don’t understand taking the risk. And I don’t understand her shitty responses to people who are pointing out the obvious dangers of leaving her dog outside alone.

Kelsey’s response is to tell people she’d love for them to come over and walk Ginger while she’s at work. Maybe, if she can’t properly take care of her dog’s needs while she’s working, she shouldn’t have a dog. It wouldn’t surprise me if Kelsey finds this post and thinks about slamming me for writing my opinion and sharing it with the masses. But, as someone who’s had dogs in my life for over 40 years, I know I’m not wrong about this. Ginger didn’t have to be bitten by a snake. She wouldn’t have been, if she hadn’t been sitting outside alone. Thank God the postal carrier was willing and able to help her before she suffered more than she already had.

I saw that Kelsey also felt that the comments regarding her negligence were “negative”, and the people who wrote them were at fault. No, I’d say Kelsey and her husband were at fault for not securing their dog in a safe place. And yes, people are going to comment on that, and that doesn’t make them “negative”. They are simply advocating for a family member who can’t speak up for herself. I think Kelsey is immature for thinking the only responses she’s due are positive ones… and I think she’s naive if she thinks everyone is going to be “nice” to her after sharing this story. That’s not reality when it comes to the Internet. People on the Internet can be mean, and it doesn’t matter who you are or what you say. It’s part of the experience of having those fifteen minutes of fame.

Anyway, I hope Ginger makes a complete recovery and enjoys a long and happy life. I’m not going to share a photo of the hapless dog. Instead, have a look at our majestic and dearly departed Arran, who was suffering from cancer a year ago, before we lost him in March. Arran was never left outside alone, so he lived to be about 14.

Bill, dogs, family, first world problems

When Bill is away, steroid mad Arran drives me CRAZ-AY!

Holy crap. Tomorrow, we’ll be halfway through December already. I haven’t even gotten to a proper Christmas market yet, although we did get a little snow the other day. They’re calling for some today, but we’ll see if it happens. It’s certainly cold enough!

Bill has been “TDY” this week– that is “temporary duty yonder”, for those of you who aren’t up with typical military jargon. Bill had to go to Bavaria again, as he did for two weeks in October. He used to go on more interesting temporary duty assignments when he worked for AFRICOM and EUCOM down in Stuttgart, but his current job mostly takes him to Bavaria or Poland, with rare exceptions. He has gone to Vegas a couple of times, too. Sometimes I go with him on his trips, but I haven’t done one with Bill since 2019, just before COVID became a global nightmare.

In October, when Bill was last at “Graf”, I was very worried about our old dog, Arran, who was diagnosed with lymphoma. I was actually very concerned that Arran might die while Bill was gone, as untreated lymphoma can kill quite efficiently. But we decided to do chemo for Arran, and in many ways, that has been a miraculous decision. Some long time readers might recall that our dog, Zane, died in 2019 of a type of lymphoma that I think was much more aggressive than what Arran has. It came up while we were on vacation and killed Zane a mere week after he was diagnosed. Arran is our fourth dog to get cancer, and the first one we’ve been able to treat in any meaningful way, other than giving painkillers. Treating him has definitely been educational on many levels.

I am not usually one to want to do extreme treatments. I thought of chemo for a 14 year old dog as “extreme”. I don’t anymore. Arran’s treatment has been pretty minimal, when it comes down to it. For the past eight weeks, he’s gotten weekly IV Vincristine infusions at the vet’s office. He got Prednisolone and Endoxan (pill twice a week), and not even every day. So far, we’ve spent about 1000 euros for everything– vet visits, meds, and consultations. The IV appointments take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. The rest of the time, he eats, sleeps, takes walks, poops, pees, snuggles, jumps, and even plays a bit. He still stands guard at the door when someone comes with a package or wakes me from my naps, wanting me to sign up for a service. 😉

I’m starting to think of his lymphoma as more of a chronic disease than a death sentence, as we ease Arran into his final golden days. For his ten years of love and companionship, we think it’s worth it. And starting this week, he doesn’t have to go to the vet weekly for IV drugs. Now, we’re in phase two, which means he only goes every other week, and takes the Endoxan (pills) every other week, and takes Prednisolone every other day. I know the cancer will eventually kill him, but we still have him for now. We’re going to enjoy him for as long as possible… even though that means putting up with some annoyances and inconveniences. That’s what I’ve been dealing with this week.

The Prednisolone Arran takes is lifesaving, and has had some miraculously beneficial effects on his well-being. It also has some annoying side effects. It gives him some really rancid farts that would easily a clear a room of the unindoctrinated. It makes him need to pee a lot, so that has resulted in some household accidents. Arran has never been 100 percent reliable when it comes to his housetraining, anyway. For some reason, he never has learned to tell us when he needs to go outside. He has, though, learned very well how to tell us when he wants to eat. And Prednisolone makes him want to eat a LOT and more often. He’s already mostly beagle and almost all hound, so eating has always been one of his favorite things to do, anyway.

Arran has also become unreliable at home alone, so I’ve found myself spending more time at home, just to keep him from tearing up anything that smells like food. Twice, he’s broken into our makeshift pantry in the basement and made messes (most German homes don’t have built in pantries). He also gets up several times during the night to pee and demand food. Bill often finds himself feeding him at 3:30 AM, just so he can sleep a couple of hours. Today, I made him wait until 4, after he’d already gotten me up at 1:45 for a potty break.

If we were in the States, I might keep Arran in a crate when he can’t be supervised. But we left our crate in Texas, and haven’t seen too many of them for sale over here. Germans don’t tend to leave their dogs at home alone a lot… not that I would need to do that, since I mostly stay at home, anyway. Arran also tends to howl a lot when we aren’t home, and that could be worse in a crate… although it’s also likely that he’d see it as his den and calm down.

If you’re reading this and wondering how Arran gets into the basement to raid it, here’s my answer. Like most German basements I’ve seen, the basement in our house doesn’t have a door. There are just steps that go down to the lowest floor. We bought a pet gate when we lived at our former house, which was originally a communal home. The steps to the basement in that house weren’t conducive for using a spring-loaded gate, because there was a wall and just a metal bannister with no wall to brace against. I also didn’t want to do any “construction” in that house, because our landlady was extremely anal retentive and always looking for a reason to be critical of me, in particular. And, as we found out when we moved, she also looked for every reason to charge us.

The stand alone pet gate worked for a long time. Until very recently, Arran mostly respected the gate and stayed out of the basement. But the steroids make him a demon from Hell, when it comes to wanting and pursuing food. Fortunately, this house has two walls at the basement stairs, so we will probably invest in a more secure gate to thwart his attempts to steal food. The benefit to having such a gate is that it can be open and shut, so I won’t have to step over the gate anymore in the mornings, when my muscles are stiff and unreliable. Even if we lose Arran very soon, the sturdier gate will still come in handy if and when we get another dog. Noyzi is, seriously, a perfect gentleman, so we worry a lot less about him. He didn’t even need to be potty trained when we got him! Can’t believe he was born on the streets of Kosovo!

Needless to say, taking care of Arran has been more challenging than usual. But other than looking after his increased needs for food, potty breaks, and supervision, I’ve found myself kind of bored as I wait for Bill to come home from his latest TDY. I spent a lot of years living alone, so it’s not like I can’t cope with it. I miss him when he’s gone, though… even though I tend to eat and drink less when he’s not home. I’ve mostly passed the time by watching movies. I was thinking I’d like to add my thoughts on the movies to this post, but now I think maybe they should get their own posts. I have a lot to write about them, and this post has gone on long enough… And it’s mostly about Arran, so my thoughts on made for TV movies are out of place here. I could probably write an entire book about Arran!

So, I think I’ll start a new post… write that, practice guitar, put fresh sheets on the bed, and if I’m lucky, maybe even score a nap. I think I could use one, after all these nocturnal disturbances.

As you can see from the featured photo, Arran is worth it, in spite of being a little shit sometimes. That photo was taken the other day, as Arran copied his deceased beagle brother, Zane, and tucked himself into bed. He almost never does that, so I wonder if Zane was paying us a visit. I’m weird like that.

dogs, obits

Goodbye, sweet Zane…

The past week has been a mixture of sad, surreal, and sublime. A week ago, we found out our dog Zane probably had lymphoma. I wasn’t too surprised when I heard the news. I had noticed slightly swollen lymph nodes under his jaw and feared as much. But then, everything I read about lymphoma in dogs led me to believe that the nodes would be much larger than they were. I looked at Zane’s teeth and thought maybe it was a dental problem. One side felt larger than the other. I asked Bill to take him to the vet, hoping the swollen nodes were something minor, but kind of knowing deep down that they wouldn’t be.

The vet had told us to take him to a local high speed practice where they could confirm what was wrong with him. Maybe chemo would be an option. Bill was only able to arrange an oncology appointment for September 20th. I knew he’d be long dead by then when Zane couldn’t open his eyes on Monday night. Bill took him to the high speed vet, which also has an emergency department. The vet aspirated Zane’s lymph nodes and it was clear that he had lymphoma. We started him on Prednisolone, and he got a few good days. I got a lot of pictures of Zane this past week, knowing that they’d be the last ones I’ll have of him. Even yesterday, I got a beautiful shot of Zane enjoying the sunshine in the backyard. We even managed to take a couple of walks this week. He went his full route on Thursday.

Yesterday, I could see that he was getting more and more exhausted. He still wanted to eat his favorite treats, but he spent all day lying on his side, sleeping. This morning, it became clear that it was time to let him go. He was trying to stand up and had managed to raise his haunches, but was too exhausted to get up the rest of the way. I also noticed a puddle of urine by the fireplace. Zane had kindly done it on the tiles instead of the floor, but it was the first time he had had an accident like that in many years. I looked at Bill and said, “Today’s the day.”

We took him to the vet at 11:45am and by noon, he was on the table, licking some liverwurst paste. The vet, Dr. Glenn, was very kind and compassionate as she drew his blood. She could see that his belly was full of blood. She said she thought maybe his spleen had ruptured, and that it was good that we brought him in today. It’s unlikely he would have survived the night.

Zane went quickly and peacefully. Bill held onto him as the drug took effect, feeling his heart’s last beats. Bill always does this when we lose our dogs. I stroked Zane’s head and told him to go see MacGregor at the Rainbow Bridge. We told the vet about Zane after he had passed, how we adopted him from Atlanta Beagle Rescue after we lost our dog, Flea. He was the very best. He was the most wonderful, loving, kooky beagle ever, who always tried so hard to be good. I will never, ever forget him.

My sweet beagle is gone…

I’ve made a video to remember the best parts of the past ten years with Zane. Every dog we’ve had has been wonderful, but I think Zane will go down as one of the most special canine angels to ever grace my life with his presence. It was a joy and a privilege to rescue Zane… and I think he returned the favor one hundred fold. When I’ve had more time to process this, I’ll write more about how much he mattered to me and how much I’m going to miss him. For now, I’ll just say I’m glad the suffering is over for him, but it will be awhile before my heart heals.


Misterjaw Flea…

Yesterday, after dinner, Bill and I decided to take the dogs for a walk. The weather was beautiful. It was sunny, but not too hot, and there was a pleasant breeze. This time of year, the sun doesn’t go down until well after 10:00pm, so we had plenty of daylight. The dogs were delighted to have both of us walking them. Nowadays, that’s a rare treat for them.

As we were walking, we started talking about dogs of the past. I’ve loved all of them, but probably my favorite of the lot was Flea. We got Flea in November 2003, about a month after we lost our very first beagle mix, CuCullain (CC). On October 12, 2003, CC died of a nasty mycobacterial infection. They are exceedingly rare in dogs and our vet had never before seen a case of it in her long career. We ended up taking CC to a speciality hospital in northern Virginia, where we spent a couple of thousand bucks we didn’t have to find out that the situation was hopeless. We’d only had CC for sixteen months and we were devastated to lose him. He was part husky and had beautiful blue eyes.

CuCullain… our first rescue. He was a great dog, but we didn’t have him long enough.

Flea was everything CC was not. Feisty, temperamental, loudmouthed, and vain, everyone in the neighborhood knew him and where he lived. CC, by contrast, was known for being sweet, quiet, gentle, and having startlingly blue eyes. CC also used to shed like a husky.

Of the five dogs we’ve rescued so far, Flea was the closest to being 100 percent beagle. He was someone’s hunting dog before he was rescued, half-starved, afflicted with Lyme Disease and heartworms, and covered in fleas and ticks. A lady spotted him standing on the side of a road in Chester, Virginia. She picked him up– actually, Flea was very good at hitchhiking, and he was gorgeous and charming. The lady nursed him back to health, though she neglected to have both parts of his heartworm treatment done.

Flea and MacGregor in 2oo8. MacG is the one looking at the camera. Flea hated having his picture taken.

When we went to Richmond to pick up Flea– she had named him Fleagle after the Banana Splits’ beagle– he was obviously trying to overtake her busy household. Although he was much smaller than her other dogs, he would regularly challenge her large male shepherd. He adored the lady’s toddler aged son. We took Flea for a walk/test drive, and he surprised us with his energy and boldness. His rescuer told us he needed to be “top dog”, and live somewhere where he could “be a star”. She was definitely right about that. Flea was the smallest of our dogs, but he was also the most alpha. Sometimes I wonder how Arran would have reacted to Flea. I think Flea would have kicked his ass. One of our former vets hated Flea’s name and said we should change it, but I think it actually suited him perfectly. He was just cool enough to pull it off.

MacGregor was an adorable puppy when we brought him home to keep Flea company. Flea terrorized him at first, but then they became best friends.

Flea was a bit blue when he became our dog. He liked having other dogs around, and got really bad separation anxiety when he was alone or not the center of attention. He also missed the little boy. He would have loved it if we’d had a son for him to play with. Flea loved kids– especially boys. I remember he would bugle for me if I so much as left his sight. After a few months with us, we had him tested for heartworms again and learned that he was never fully treated for the disease. We got him healthier, then picked up our dog, MacGregor, who is probably Bill’s “special” dog– although Arran runs a close second. Once we had MacGregor, Flea totally changed. MacGregor was perfectly happy to be second banana, and that was just what Flea needed. Once he had a sidekick, he was a lot less anxious about being left alone. He turned into a great family dog who was super protective of me and also liked to play canine pranks.

As we were walking last night, Bill chuckled and said, “I remember when Flea used to purposely sneak up behind you and startle you.”

It’s true. Flea was just like Misterjaw… “Gotcha!”

Flea had the personality of a shark. He liked to sneak up behind me and scare me out of my wits! This episode is actually not unlike Flea’s story, only Flea was a dog rather than a shark.

I’d be sitting at my computer, hard at work writing something. He’d saunter into my office, silent as a church mouse. He’d sit down and watch me for a minute. Then, just when I was in the middle of a thought, oblivious to his presence, he’d let out a sharp yelp. I’d jump, then turn around to give him a dirty look and a sharp word. Bill watched him do this many times in the six years we had Flea. He thought it was a riot. I’m sure Flea was amused, too.

In the summer of 2009, Flea was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We were living in Germany and our former vet in Herrenberg– same one who treated Zane and Arran for the past four years– told Bill that Flea had cancer. We took him to Stuttgart, where they did an ultrasound and x-ray that confirmed the presence of cancer. It was July. Ever since then, I’ve kind of hated July. It seems like the worst things happen in July. I’m always relieved when July is over, and I generally dread its onset, even though July is also the month my dear husband came into the world in 1964. It’s also the month in which Bill will become a grandfather again, when his daughter has her baby girl. She chose July 9th to be induced… the fifth anniversary of my dad’s death.

A couple of days before we lost Flea to cancer. We lived in Georgia. MacGregor was standing guard. Three years later, Zane would do the same for MacGregor when spinal cancer overtook his body.

We managed to keep Flea going for another four months after he was diagnosed with cancer. He made it back to the United States with us and died on November 18, 2009, two days after our wedding anniversary. The night before we had him put down, he’d lost the ability to walk. Even still, he didn’t want to die and made it very clear to us, although it was obvious he would not live much longer as the cancer turned him into a skeletal version of himself. Of the dogs we’ve had euthanized, Flea took the longest to give in. I was beside myself with grief when we lost him. He was such a little character– full of self-confidence and spunk. He reminded me of a canine version of George Jefferson. Flea was also instrumental in our getting to know our neighbors in our first German neighborhood, when he fell in love with the next door neighbor’s little boy, Robin.

Flea only visits me in my dreams now, with the occasional “Gotcha!” Flea’s successor, Zane was born exactly one year prior to the day we lost Flea. He’s going to be eleven years old this year. I worry about him all the time, especially as he gets lumpier. There are times when I would swear Flea jumped into his body to visit us down here on Earth. I feel the same way about Arran, who sometimes behaves a bit like MacGregor used to. So far, both of our dogs have had mast cell tumors, but they’re both plucky and fun loving. Zane isn’t quite as spunky as he used to be, but his eyes are bright, his coat is shiny, and he still loves to take walks. And sometimes, when he’s feeling especially jaunty, he’ll sneak up behind me and bark “Gotcha!”, just like ol’ Flea used to, back in the day.