dogs, funny stories, lessons learned, love, technology

Something to live for… awkward conversations about life and death…

Yesterday was a pretty busy day. I wrote three fresh blog posts. Two were about Josh Duggar, and one was a review of Naomi Judd’s book, River of Time, which was about her struggles with depression and anxiety. Interspersed within all the writing, there was also the news about the people who died in Uvalde, Texas… nineteen children and two teachers. I read last night that Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, who was killed during the school shooting massacre, died of a heart attack just a couple of days after losing his wife of 24 years. This morning, I read a ridiculous tin foil hat comment from someone who thought Garcia’s sudden heart attack was part of a conspiracy, since the police department in Uvalde were apparently unprepared to deal with a school shooting.

People are still arguing about COVID, abortion rights, gun rights, school safety, and all of the other political hot button issues that will probably never be settled in my lifetime. All I can do is shake my head. The world is really fucked… and yet, sometimes there are little flickers of beauty, humor, and wonder that make me think it’s worth trying to stick around for however much time I have left.

Last night, Bill came home with kind of a sheepish look on his face. He said, “Well, today got started on a rather ‘awkward’ note.”

I looked up at him, noticing that he looked a little mischievous. “Do tell.” I encouraged.

He said, “I was in the bathroom, taking a shit, and when I came out, I was confronted by my boss, who said he needed to talk to me. So we sat down and my boss said, ‘Bill, I have to ask you… are you alright?'”

And I said, “He was asking you this because he heard you taking a shit? Or he smelled the remnants of it?”

“No…” Bill said, laughing. “The shitting part becomes important later in the story.”

“My imagination is going wild.” I said.

Bill continued, “So my boss says, ‘The guys in the IT department noticed a questionable search string coming from your computer. It got flagged. And I have to ask you, are you okay? Are you considering suicide?'”

Bill said, “No! Of course not!” Taking a deep breath, Bill explained to his boss, “I Googled ‘when someone you know commits suicide’, because recently, two acquaintances committed suicide. One was a guy I knew in high school, years ago. He was a good friend in those days, but we weren’t close recently. We were just Facebook friends. And one day last month, he posted ‘Guys, it’s been a slice,’ on Facebook, and that was it. Next thing I knew, people were announcing that he’d killed himself.”

Bill went on, “The other was the woman who previously lived in the house my wife and I rented near Stuttgart, before we moved to Wiesbaden. She had worked for our company, and one day I noticed that her name wasn’t on the company roster anymore. And because she had kind of been ‘cyberstalking’ my wife, the fact that she wasn’t on the roster caught my attention.”

Bill paused, then continued, “I told my wife, so she Googled her name, and discovered that she’d died. It was a shock, since she was so young. So she did more investigation, and found out that the woman had committed suicide. We were both really surprised by the news. She seemed to have everything going for her. These two recent suicides were just really surreal, and suicide was on my mind only for that reason. So I did a quick Google search, but even as I did it, I realized that it might get me in trouble.”

Then Bill concluded, saying “I have everything to live for. I just took a wonderful trip, and I’m planning another for my wife’s birthday next month. And my daughter is about to have my grandson, any day now. So no, I’m not thinking of killing myself. But thanks for asking.”

Bill said his boss sighed with deep relief and said, “Okay… I feel much better now. Don’t worry. This is not going to be on your permanent record, or anything.”

Then Bill said that one of his work buddies had been looking for him before that conversation took place. The boss had asked where Bill was, and of course, at the time, he was taking a shit. His work buddy had said, “Oh, Bill is probably ‘hanging out’ somewhere…”, which seems like kind of an unfortunate choice of words, under the circumstances.

We talked about it a little more, marveling at how people are always watching what we’re doing, although they don’t always take action before it’s too late. I’m sure the IT guys at Bill’s company don’t monitor every search string, but when someone Googles something weird while on the clock, it gets flagged. Obviously they take any mention of suicide seriously, which is comforting, I guess. Why would someone in Bill’s line of work be searching for articles about suicide? It would make sense for me, since I have a background in public health and social work. But it doesn’t make sense for a guy who does what Bill does for a living. If anything, this serves as a reminder to watch one’s Googling while on the job.

As we were laughing about that, Bill noticed a message from his daughter. He clicked on it, and we were introduced to Bill’s new grandson, who was born a couple of days ago… At the time the message was sent, he was just 13 hours old. He’s tiny and adorable, and he serves as another good reminder that life goes on, even when there’s crazy and terrible shit going on everywhere. Bill’s daughter looked so beautiful, too, as she held her little son. I managed to snap a photo of Bill looking at the video, so happy to be “Papa” to another soul. Yes, I would say he’s got plenty to live for…

Priceless boys…

As I write this, a gorgeous song by Janet Jackson is playing. Her song, “Together Again”, is special to us, because we kind of see it as a message from Heaven. In December 2012, our beloved “bagel”, MacGregor, died of spinal cancer. MacGregor was a very special dog, and Bill adored him. He was especially devastated when we lost him. Then a month later, we adopted our beloved Arran, who immediately bonded with Bill. Arran even did something MacGregor always did to show affection to Bill… you can see him on his hind legs in the photo below. MacGregor used to do the very same thing, putting his paws on us while standing on his hind legs. And as Arran was doing that for the first of many times, “Together Again” was playing. It meant something to us… like MacGregor was sending us a message through Arran. And now, as I write about life and death, here it is again… and it’s followed by “Psalm 23” by Eden’s Bridge, which I would love played at my funeral someday.

I’m not a huge Janet Jackson fan, but I love this song. It’s very special.
That organ… it just moves me.
January 13, 2013, the day we brought Arran home in North Carolina, and he made Bill his favorite person… Janet Jackson’s song was playing.
And last week… they are still extremely bonded. Arran would be DEVASTATED if Bill died.

We have been very fortunate to live a very good life together. Even when things seem absolutely bonkers in the world, we still have some happy news to share. I don’t know what life is going to be like for the newest grandchild, but I know he’s already much beloved by many people. And he has the most wonderful “Papa”, too. So no one should worry about Bill… “Papa” isn’t going to do anything drastic anytime soon. But thanks for asking!

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dogs, social media

The Atlantic just reran their article about spaying and neutering dogs… naturally, it brought out the outrage…

Two years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, I subscribed to The Atlantic. I did so because I kept finding myself trying to read their articles, which I noticed were often controversial. There have been a few times, in the past two years, when I have regretted subscribing. It’s usually when I see that they’re rerunning, for the umpteenth time, an article that is a few years old. This morning, they happened to rerun an article they published about how the consensus regarding spaying and neutering dogs is “quietly changing”. In 2019, writer Sarah Zhang (or her editor) wrote:

A growing body of research has documented the health risks of getting certain breeds fixed early—so why aren’t shelters changing their policies?

You can almost bet on the comments that appeared, just from people who read the tagline. There was statement after statement from people who do dog rescues, hysterically crying foul about how “irresponsible” this article is. Many dramatic diatribes were about how full the shelters are, and how so many dogs are euthanized, because not everyone spays or neuters. And because of those “irresponsible” people, everyone should be forced, locked step, into “fixing” their animals before the first heat or at six months of age, potential health risks or concerns be damned.

Bill and I have gotten all of our dogs from rescue organizations or people who do dog rescue (in Noyzi’s case). Of course we agree with spaying and neutering. BUT… I think Sarah Zhang’s article makes a lot of sense. Nowhere did she write that spaying and neutering should be abolished. What she did write was that research “suggests that spaying and neutering—especially in some large breeds when very young—are linked to certain disorders later in life.” Veterinarians are starting to question whether or not spaying and neutering every pet when they are very young is the right thing to do for animals, from a health standpoint.

However, many rescue groups and shelters are stubbornly clinging to the idea that every animal must be sterilized as young as possible. Animal welfare groups usually don’t give adopters a choice as to when or whether they will spay or neuter. And yes, before anyone comes at me, I do understand why they have that rule. They are trying to control the pet population, which is not a bad goal at all. My issue is when anyone has an objection or takes a contrary position to that idea, things get uncivilized in a hurry. And if you read the Facebook comments on this story, many of which come from people who didn’t bother to read the article, you find that people can be downright nasty and rigid about this subject. There are very few topics in which total rigidity works. Early animal castration, in my view, is a topic that might benefit from further reflection.

I live in Germany, and vets in Germany don’t spay or neuter animals until they’re about a year old. I am in Italy right now, and I have seen many, many dogs who are still intact. Yes, there are animal shelters and rescue groups in Europe, but there isn’t the huge problem, at least in western Europe, of stray dogs that we have in the United States. And so, mindsets are different here. In Norway, spaying and neutering is not even allowed unless there is a medical reason to do it. Or, at least that was the rule until very recently. Norway is hardly a barbarian country. Of course, life is different there than it is in the U.S. People tend to be less selfish and more community minded, which I think is common across the continent. There are also fewer people and fewer pets as a whole. But anyway, my point is, the American viewpoint isn’t the only one worth considering. Sometimes, it does make sense to listen to other voices from different places.

But, just as face masks have become a political issue, so has the idea of getting an animal spayed or neutered… or not. And God forbid an American admit to wanting to purchase a purebred dog from a breeder, even if the breeder is “responsible” and knowledgable. Some Americans will judge people mercilessly for that, too. Again, in Europe, many people purchase dogs from breeders. There is nothing wrong with it. Of course, breeders in Europe tend to know what they are doing and have to show their competence. I know that’s not true in the United States. What I think is a shame, though, is that so many people feel that they have to force their views on other people, claiming that if someone’s opinion doesn’t follow the status quo, the opinion is “wrong”. Opinions are just that–opinions. Everybody has them, and it might do us some good to hear those other opinions sometimes.

I guess what really struck me about the comments on The Atlantic’s article is that so many of them were downright abusive. There was sarcasm aplenty, and just rude, uncalled for, uncivilized statements made that served no purpose whatsoever. It makes me think that most people are assholes. No wonder I’ve become such a recluse.

I do think it would be a good thing if people were allowed more flexibility as to when they get their animals neutered. I do think some animals shouldn’t be “fixed”, or they should have hormone sparing procedures, such as vasectomies or ovary sparing spays. But most of all, I think more people should take a deep breath before commenting to strangers online. The world is an ugly enough place right now. There’s no need to add to the nastiness, which usually won’t be responded to constructively, anyway. There are good reasons why some people would rather wait before they get their pets snipped. It’s time more people got out of the rigid thinking about this subject, and others, and considered other perspectives and viewpoints. Maybe they might learn something new.

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celebrities, dogs, funny stories, Germany

“Won’t you be our neighbor?”… My inner Mister Rogers

At about four o’clock yesterday afternoon, the doorbell rang. Since it was Martin Luther King Day and Bill was home, he answered the door. He was soon faced with a grim faced German man he’d never seen before, who started speaking to him. Bill said the man was a bit odd and even seemed slightly out of it.

Our older dog, Arran the beagle mix, started barking, as he always does when strangers come to the door. Bill couldn’t hear our unexpected visitor over the barking, nor could he really understand what the guy was saying, as Bill’s German skills are somewhat basic, but less basic than mine are. One word he did hear and understand was “Tierschutz” (animal protection), which immediately caused us some concern.

Bill told the guy that he speaks only a little bit of German. The guy got pissed and went to our landlord’s house next door. Bill then came up to our bedroom to tell me what happened. As he was explaining the bizarre scenario, the doorbell rang again. Thinking maybe it was the landlord coming over to tell us what was wrong, Bill answered it, and it was the same grumpy guy. This time, he seemed somewhat apologetic, although he didn’t actually apologize. He said something along the lines of “Your dogs are always inside.” Then he gave Bill a dismissive wave and stalked off.

I always get agitated when someone presumes to yell at me, or at Bill, for that matter. Especially if I’m in my own home, minding my own damned business. I told Bill that he should have borrowed my Mister Rogers cap, which is a bizarre Chinese creation that was offered for sale on Amazon.de last summer. I see that it’s now no longer available. Small wonder.

I bought the cap on a whim. I’m wearing it in the featured photo, which was taken right after I got out of the shower yesterday, hence my slight resemblance to Nick Nolte coming down from a GHB bender, circa 2002. One of my friends said I am better looking than Nick Nolte is. I was flattered by that, since Nick Nolte was People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1992. When she reminded me that 1992 was thirty years ago, I replied that, just like Nick, I was also sexier thirty years ago.

That photo of Mister Rogers has circulated quite a lot around the Internet. I once even made a meme of it, which I posted below. Mister Rogers was almost surely unaware of what his two middle fingers were indicating when that photo was taken. I see from a video on Dailymotion that it comes from a song he did with little kids, back in the day…

Hee hee hee!
Actually, I think this image is even funnier than the one with both middle fingers. I wish the enterprising Amazon.de seller in China had offered this, instead.
I made this meme years ago… The quote is by George Carlin. I think Mister Rogers and George Carlin would have made a hell of a team!

Bill and I handle these types of intrusions very differently. Bill is much more polite than I am, and he always attempts to speak German. When someone uninvited rings my doorbell and starts speaking rapid fire German to me, I usually interrupt them in English and tell them I don’t understand them, even if I do. Nine times out of ten, the people who do that stuff are either trying to sell me something or looking for odd jobs… or in a couple of unfortunate situations, they were people up to no good, casing the house to see who lives there and if they’re home.

Upon considering what the guy said, his strange demeanor, and the sort of half-assed non-apology the guy later gave Bill, we eventually determined that maybe the fellow is someone who lives in the neighborhood, but isn’t someone with whom we’ve ever interacted. We think he was upset that our German next door neighbor, who lives in the house on the other side of us, was leaving her adorable, but loud, Labrador dog, Tommi, outside. Tommi barks a lot when he’s outside. It is definitely noticeable, but it doesn’t bother me much. It’s not like he’s out there all day or anything. I think she or her mother puts him out there for a short time once or twice a day. While he’s out there, he lets everyone know he’s bored, lonely, or whatever.

It’s actually against the law in Germany to leave dogs home alone for long periods of time, and if they make excessive noise, some folks will call the police. We have been pretty lucky, as our neighbors have all been relatively dog friendly, even though we have usually had beagles, and beagles can be very loud. Now that we have Noyzi, it’s really only Arran who raises hell on a regular basis. Noyzi usually stays pretty quiet, unless he’s watching pet grooming or fox hunting videos. But I’m usually home with the dogs, and they aren’t allowed to be outside unsupervised.

Bill dresses down Arran for counter surfing. See? We do discipline our dogs!

Bill said he was sitting on the toilet and heard the man speaking to someone before he rang our doorbell. Perhaps it was the people who live across the cul-de-sac from us. Maybe he asked them who has dogs and they pointed to us. I don’t know if he knew we’re Americans and maybe figured we don’t know the rules here, or he just wanted to yell at dog owners who might be the culprit of his annoyance. But it was still a weird situation, as Bill didn’t understand him for three reasons– Arran was barking, the guy was rambling, and he was speaking German. And the cranky guy didn’t give Bill a chance to step outside to talk to him without Arran’s input.

Then, after he got frustrated trying to talk to Bill, the guy spoke to our other neighbors, who also happen to be our landlords. My guess is that our landlord, or someone in his house, told the guy that we never leave our dogs outside alone. So when he rang the bell the second time, he said “Bei Ihnen (unintelligible) immer”, which confused Bill, until he later translated it to “Bei innen (unintelligible) immer” (something like, “your dogs are always inside”). Then the guy gave him a resigned wave, and left.

It’s true that our current landlords are pretty laid back, and they get paid well to let us be their neighbors, but they’ve actually told us that they rarely hear our dogs. When we still had Zane, they were louder. Zane would go out in the middle of the night to pee and get on scents, which caused him to bay on occasion. But Noyzi doesn’t bark a lot, and Arran really only barks when someone rings the doorbell. He doesn’t even bay a lot when we walk him anymore. Tommi, on the other hand, is only around a year old. He’s young, energetic, and adorable, and yes, he barks like a big guy. I’m not surprised the sound carried.

Tommi was adopted after our neighbors lost their very sweet elderly Labrador, Levi, whom they adopted from an American who couldn’t take him with him when he moved. Levi was a WONDERFUL dog… very friendly, well-behaved, and a perfect citizen. I think our neighbors fell in love with Labradors, which aren’t necessarily popular over here. Unfortunately, Levi got very sick with cancer and died while he was having surgery to remove some tumors in his stomach. I’m sure Tommi will eventually become as sweet, obedient, and adorable as Levi was, but he’s still very young and rambunctious. Even our wonderful beagle Zane, whom I think had some Lab in him, was a holy terror when we first got him. After about six months, he morphed into the most wonderful family dog. It was like magic. I have every reason to assume that will happen for Tommi, too.

I suppose I should, in part, thank the pandemic for yesterday’s chance meeting with an apparently angry neighbor. COVID-19 has really altered our lives. Most of the years we’ve been in Germany, we’ve taken every opportunity to travel over long American holiday weekends. Nowadays, we’re more inclined to stay home, mainly because travel has become so complicated and annoying, even though Bill and I are both thrice COVID vaccinated. This year, we also need to get Noyzi updated on his vaccines, which will happen today.

I shared this story on Facebook and people loved my Mister Rogers hat. But only one person wanted to know where I got it, and NO ONE seemed interested in why I have it! One friend, who happens to be German, said it was because she’s no longer surprised by the crazy shit I say and do… and wear. For the record, I was inspired to buy the hat because of my dad. I’ve already shared the story about my dad and his middle finger woes.

The short version, for those who don’t want to click the link, is that my parents took me to visit the Waterside Marketplace in Norfolk, Virginia, back in 1984 or so, when it was still new. The Waterside had a really cool hat shop that had all of these funny baseball caps. I wanted one that had a little felt dog on the brim and a plastic fire hydrant. You could pull a string and the dog would lift its leg on the hydrant. Sadly, I didn’t have any money and my parents didn’t want to indulge my proclivities for being obnoxious.

Dad did make a purchase, though. It was a black baseball cap that had a bright yellow stuffed felt hand with the middle finger raised, big as life. My dad, who was never one to swear and was unaware of what the middle finger meant, bought the cap. He said he was going to wear it to his next Rotary meeting and say, “I don’t agree with ANY of you.”

My mom said, “You are not going to wear that, are you?”

“Sure! Why not?” Dad said with a laugh.

“You are NOT going to wear that in public!” my mom said, her voice edged with resolute firmness.

“Yes I am.” Dad argued.

“Do you KNOW what that MEANS?” Mom demanded.

“Doesn’t it mean ‘go to Hell’?” Dad asked, somewhat chastened.

“Uh uh.” Mom said, leaning over to whisper in his ear.

Dad kind of blanched sheepishly, and that was the end of his big idea to shock his conservative business friends and pillars of the community in Gloucester, Virginia.

Meanwhile, I thought it was funny that my mom didn’t want to define it out loud, since even at age eleven or twelve, I knew what a middle finger stood for, even if I didn’t know what “getting laid” meant. So I said, “Hey guys, I know what it means.”

The profane middle finger hat was kept under the driver’s seat of my dad’s car for many years, never to see the light of day. I wish I had stolen it from him. I thought it was hilarious, and I haven’t seen one like it being sold anywhere since the 80s. When I saw Mister Rogers’ middle finger on a hat, though, I figured that was close enough. And since it’s no longer available, I guess that hat was just meant to be mine…

Incidentally, my dad also suffered from PTSD, which was brought on by his time in Vietnam. Sadly, he almost lost his middle finger to injury when he had a nightmare and jumped out of bed one night, punching the wall. He didn’t take care of the injury properly, and came very close to needing an amputation. Yikes!

For an update on this post, click here.

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dogs, videos, work, YouTube

Professional dog grooming seems almost like making magic to me…

I had every intention of writing a fresh post yesterday for this blog. I did write one for the travel blog, although it wasn’t necessarily a travel related post. Bill has been using a new gadget to help him sleep better. I thought it was kind of cool, so I decided to write a post for my other blog about it, since it kind of pertains to our home life, and the device comes from London. You can click here if you want to read that and hear us talk on a video. Otherwise, I will move on to the topic of the day, which is dog grooming.

A few days ago, I made a music video honoring Ronnie Spector. I wasn’t a big Ronnie Spector fan. In fact, I didn’t really know who she was until 1986, when I was a high school freshman, and she sang with Eddie Money on his hit, “Take Me Home Tonight.” I actually got pretty tired of that song when it was popular, but now it makes me feel nostalgic. And it occurred to me that Ronnie Spector was a very talented performer who probably didn’t get the respect she deserved… especially from her ex husband, Phil Spector. I will have to read her memoirs and get more of the scoop on that, and the rest of her career.

Actually, this very sweet video probably led me to the stray dog video…

Because I made that video, as well as the one I made for yesterday’s travel blog/gadget review, I somehow also ended up also watching a video showing a stray dog in Serbia being rescued, rehabilitated, and adopted. Noyzi and Arran watched with me, and were really enjoying the video. Noyzi was especially excited by it and actually tried to bump noses with the shaggy, rescued dog named Albert who was adopted by a Danish diplomat.

A very sweet video about a dog who found love off the streets, which led me to Rover’s Makeover.

One thing led to another, and next thing I knew, I had found Rover’s Makeover Dog Grooming’s channel… And that pretty much did it for the rest of our Sunday. Before I knew it, I had spent hours watching this Oklahoma lady named Marybeth shearing, shaving, and clipping the masses of stinky matted hair off of a bunch of long haired dogs. Marybeth says she does free jobs for some animals who desperately need to be groomed. The free jobs, naturally, tend to be a lot of work. Some of her videos run for a couple of hours. Much to my surprise, I watched several of them from start to finish. Because of that, I never got to my big computer to write anything. My travel blog post was written on my laptop as I watched Marybeth transform mangy mongrels into much happier, healthier pets.

This was the first video I watched. I was hooked pretty quickly.

I used to clip my dog, Rhonda, when I was a kid. She was a cocker spaniel/English setter mix, and she had long hair that would mat if we didn’t brush her a lot. Rhonda never got nearly as bad as some of the dogs on the videos Marybeth posts. My mom later found a groomer who took care of Rhonda’s grooming needs after my dad shaved her all over and made her look embarrassingly bad. Dad seemed to think Rhonda was like the sheep of his youth that he had to shear for his dad. He had no eye for the aesthetic when it came to grooming our poor pet… Rhonda might as well have been a fellow Air Force recruit, getting shaved before basic training!

As a teenager, I also spent hours grooming my horse, Rusty, trimming his whiskers, bathing him, feeding him supplements, and making him shine like a new penny before our big state horse show every year. But while it was satisfying cleaning up Rusty for the show ring, he was never so unkempt that he literally smiled at me after a clip and a bath.

And at the beginning of the pandemic, I had a go at cutting Bill’s hair with trimmers. I did a pretty good job of it, if I do say so myself. He never looked any more ridiculous than he usually does, anyway. But Bill doesn’t have matted hair.

Some of the dogs Marybeth grooms are so neglected that they can’t even stand properly. They have matted hair on their paws that force them to stand in an odd way, and cause their toenails to grow straight out instead of curved.

These dogs often smell pretty terrible, too, which makes people less likely to want to pet them.
This little sweetheart was in heat. Marybeth says she doesn’t usually groom dogs who are in heat, but the owners had driven four hours to get to her. Apparently, none of the local groomers would do the job.

While I can imagine this work is very physically demanding and often unpleasant, there must be so much satisfaction when Marybeth sees how much better the dogs look when she’s finished. In many cases, they can literally see better, stand and walk better, and no longer have to endure the heat and pain of hair that has pulled so tightly into mats and turned into a thick cloak. Remember, she is in Oklahoma, and it gets HOT there. I couldn’t help but share in the celebration, watching these animals transformed in a matter of hours.

Phew! This little cutie is smiling now!

Marybeth did mention that sometimes, people do dirty things, though… like ditch their animals with her. At the same time, she cautions her viewers not to judge the owners. Sometimes the “owners” are just people who found a badly neglected dog somewhere and rescued them from the street. Sometimes, the owners don’t have the money to groom their dogs properly, but they still love them.

When it comes down to, you just never know what someone’s personal situation is. Sometimes people take on pets when their health or finances are good, only to go through a severe financial or health setback that makes it impossible to take care of their pets properly. I have also noticed that people tend to be very judgmental when it comes to pets. I think sometimes the kindest thing someone can do for an animal is rehome them– to see that they go to a home where they can get the right care and attention. People will often judge others for doing that, too.

I’m just glad to see Marybeth doing this work for the animals. I can tell it’s a labor of love for her. She’s endlessly patient with the dogs, and so many of them seem to be much happier when she’s finished taking care of them. I’m sure their owners are happy, too.

YouTube is a treasure trove of talent. I’ve found so many YouTube channels with original content that offer fascinating glimpses into people’s lives. I follow so many content creators now, some of whom have been able to turn their channels into full time jobs. I have a very modest channel myself, which I mainly use as a supplement to my blogs and a place to put my musical pursuits. If I weren’t so camera shy, maybe I would make a video showing my face, too. Bill and I have talked about it. He’s as camera shy as I am, though. We would probably do a podcast where we don’t have to be camera ready.

Someone on RfM listened to my tribute to Ronnie Spector and said it led her to watch other videos. She said she found other musicians who never got the attention they deserved… and that just made me realize that for every famous person who has made it big with their talents, there are probably dozens more who are equally or even more talented and flew under the radar. The Internet makes it possible for some of those people to be discovered on YouTube or wherever else. In that sense, the Internet is truly awesome. Of course, it can also be the source of much drama and pain… but that’s a discussion for another post.

Anyway… I am glad I discovered Marybeth and her channel yesterday. Those dogs are so lucky to have her. I know she works very hard at what she does, but the results are so satisfying on so many levels. I know the dogs feel better; Marybeth can see the results of her work; and as a viewer, I can see the transformation right before my eyes, even if it takes two hours or more. Seriously… I can’t believe I watched as much as I did yesterday. I was glued to the channel.

I also got a couple of other chores done. I changed the strings on my guitar, which was easier than it was the last time I did it. I also ordered new lamps for our bedroom, because when I picked up my lamp for dusting yesterday, the base of it fell out without any warning. I bought those lamps with Epinions income share money when we lived in Georgia, about twelve years ago. They have served us well, but it’s probably time for new lamps, even if they are going to be 220 voltage.

Today, we are expecting a delivery of heating oil, which is always fun. Maybe after I practice guitar, I’ll go watch another grooming video. I actually caught myself thinking I might not mind doing that for a living… but then I remembered that I have a sore back that would probably not tolerate that work for long. So I guess I’ll just be content to watch Marybeth work and do great things for dogs in need as she educates thousands of viewers like me.

Edited to add: there is also an update on Leon the Lobster. His “dad” also got a sponsorship to help pay for Leon’s new home.

Leon is lucky, I guess.

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dogs, emergencies, home

I went all Granny T last night…

Last night, I was sitting in the dark living room, working on the latest jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly, I heard Bill, and he sounded concerned.

“Arran, come here. You can’t have that nut!” he said.

Arran, who celebrated his ninth anniversary as our devoted family member yesterday, came running into the living room. He was clearly in distress. Bill was grabbing him around the stomach. It looked almost like Arran was choking on something, but I could tell he was breathing.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“He’s got a walnut in his mouth.” Bill said. Apparently, Arran had found an unshelled nut somewhere mysterious, broke it open with his teeth, and half of it was stuck on a molar. The other half, thank God, was in his bed. Walnuts are not really safe foods for dogs for a number of reasons.

“Oh my God!” I said.

Next thing I knew, my fingers were in Arran’s mouth, feeling around for the nut, which I thought was already halfway down his gullet. Vision of his sudden death flashed in my head as my fingers came out of his mouth, unsuccessful. I noticed splotches of blood on his right front paw, which he’d been using to frantically paw at his mouth, trying to get the walnut out.

I reached into his mouth again, determined to get the nut. I felt it stuck on his tooth. Somehow, I managed to grasp it and pull it out. It was all bloody, having cut the fragile gum tissue.

For a few minutes, all three of us were shellshocked by the sudden emergency. Bill had tears in his eyes as he comforted Arran, who was still scared and bewildered. I suddenly had a vision of my grandmother, Granny Tolley, who had a history of saving the day whenever one of her descendants got in trouble. I remember stories of Granny grabbing hatchets to kill snakes or break kids out of locked bathrooms. Granny died in July 2007, about six weeks shy of her 101st birthday. She was a tough lady.

After a few minutes, we were all a bit calmer, and Arran was back to sniffing the kitchen floor, hoping to find something edible that was dropped. He was perfectly fine within twenty minutes or so, but Bill and I were still a little bit shook up. Arran is about 13 years old, and it looks like he will be the dog who will have the longest tenure with us.

Our dog, Zane, died just a couple of months before what would have been his tenth “gotcha day” anniversary with us. But we got Zane when he was younger, and he had more health problems than Arran has ever had. Zane was a ray of sunshine, but he was fragile, suffering allergies and three years of mast cell tumors before finally succumbing to lymphoma.

I don’t think Arran was in any danger of dying last night, as the walnut wasn’t lodged in his windpipe or throat. But it was definitely a scary situation. I was kind of pleased with myself for jumping in and helping him out. As for how Arran got the walnut, I don’t know… I think he might have found it in the backyard. We lost a tree last weekend, and it’s still lying in the backyard, waiting for better weather and “processing”. I think the tree’s fall has unearthed some stuff.

As for Noyzi… he missed the entire drama. He usually hangs out in his bed upstairs in the evenings, except when we’re eating. Even then, he shows up fashionably late, sometimes even after we’ve already finished eating. He goes outside, does a few frenetic poop runs, tends to business, drinks a shitload of water, then puts himself to bed. Lately, Noyzi has had some pretty disgusting diarrhea, so that’s been fun… especially with the muddy backyard. I’ve been giving him pumpkin to help bind his poop.

As I write this, both dogs have come into the office, begging for attention and a walk. It’s cloudy outside and I’m a little depressed. I’m tempted to stay in my cocoon… but I guess it would do us all good to take a walk and get some air. Maybe it will motivate me to do my much hated Thursday chore of vacuuming, and pick up my guitar for some practice.

Last week, I was inspired to record my version of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” It turned out nicely, although it doesn’t have many hits. On that video, I used a lot of pictures of my dogs, who keep me sane. I noticed the YouTube guy I’ve been doing collaborations with did a version of the same song a few hours ago. I guess he was inspired.

Sometimes I feel like my dogs are my only real friends. I’m sure glad Bill and I were able to dislodge that walnut before Arran got really hurt. I’d like to keep Arran around for as long as possible. He’s such a sweet, loving, gentle dog, and he shows us every day how much he loves us. We love him right back.

If I get inspired to write again, maybe I’ll be back… but I’m feeling a little depressed today. It might be a day for reading and napping.

ETA: I just vacuumed the house, and when I went downstairs to put the vacuum away, Arran had managed to pull a small bag of treats off the counter and was trying to suck them down. Fortunately, he wasn’t successful. I guess he’s fine. Good thing these dogs are so loving and cute.

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