Dispatch from “Prison”

This, my friends, is The Life.

Yes, I’m afraid so… All my Facebook friends are whinging mightily on and on about being cooped up at home, poor souls — well, except for one Fortunate Soul who happens to live on some acres of spectacularly gorgeous country. But the city mice? squeak squeak squeak squeak!

😀

Welp, I’m also a city mouse. But one with some weird traits that suit her well for Covid Quarantine.

At heart, I’m a recluse. Am now, always have been. Well, no: I might not have been in the first grade…but six years of unrelenting grade-school bullying and ostracism left me distrusting people and most comfortable with my own company. The more people I get to know, the more I like my dog…

You think that’s a joke? Not. So. Much.

So the fact is, an ordinary day around the Funny Farm is not so different from a day of Self-Isolation.

I live in a beautiful house with a beautiful yard and a handsome pool (already almost warm enough to swim in!). My job is something I’ve been doing 100% from home since 2000-and-aught 9. I’m good at it and I like it. And you know…there’s always something to do around a house that sits on a quarter-acre lot. The weather is spectacularly gorgeous: in a few minutes I’m going outside to dine on the patio. And there are moments — quite a few of them — when I suspect the highest and best use of one’s personal time is loafing.

Dog and I made a one-mile circuit of the park this morning. When we left at dawn, I hoped we would have some dog-free, human-free peace. Who gets out of the sack on a weekday when they don’t HAVE to go to work?

Yeah.

First cross-street, through the gloaming along comes a couple with a yappy little dog, It flies into a frenzy when it sees Ruby and tries to attack her. Luckily these two are smart enough to have their pet on a leash. It yaps and lunges savagely, but we get away unscathed.

We continue toward Lower Richistan. On the other side of the street, along comes a woman with a large white dog. She thinks she has it under control, no doubt…but not so much. It lunges at Ruby and tries to charge us, dragging the young woman off the sidewalk and into the road.

We get by this obstacle, and from there find the way un-doglested. There is NO one in the park — I imagine this is because of the covid scare. We manage to walk along the west sidewalk all the way to the south side, with no pestering or even threat of pestering. Cruise through the neighborhood to the south of the park. Walk north in the general direction of the Funny Farm.

But no. Here’s a moron with a big dog off the leash.

They’re a distance from us, so we forge on.

Around the corner, and here comes some guy in a car with two huge mutts in the back seat. He parks his car, flings open the door, and lets them charge into the park.

We walk across the street to avoid that catastrophe waiting to happen, with some success. I make a mental note: STAY COMPLETELY AWAY from the park (that you pay for with your taxes), no matter what time of day it is!!!!!

***

And dinner, partaken of in mid-afternoon, because I ate so much for breakfast that I’m not hungry till then, is fairly decent: grilled steak, roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus, a fine salad with fresh Meyer lemon and olive oil dressing, a passing decent cheap red wine, and a dose of Talenti ice cream.

Laundered clothes: usually I let a vast load pile up before diddling away time with that task. but with the current scare under way, I’m tossing stuff in the wash every couple of days.

The houses in this neighborhood have a peculiarity that, when I first bought here, I regarded as very tacky: all but one of the models have the washer/dryer hookup in the garage.

Of course! Everyone wants to spend time in 110-degree summer heat or 40-degree winter chill laboring over the laundry, right?

Well, at the time I bought into the ‘Hood — the height of the Savings & Loan Fiasco — I needed a place to live, and as a beggar couldn’t be a chooser. As it has developed, though, this trait has had a number of benefits. Obviously, it keeps the noise and mess out of the living area. Also, a couple of times when a washer has overflowed, it has saved me from having to clean up a gawdawful mess from the inside floors. And what is now to the point: After an outing to some germy store, I can shut the door behind me as I drive in, hop out of the car, and immediately strip off my clothes and throw them in the washer. A sink with a bar of soap is right there for the obligatory hand-scrubbing.

Discovered a way to build bird-proof “cages” to protect the vegetables I want to plant from the pet wild birds that have moved in to take advantage of the bird feeding stations. Planted a couple of heads of lettuce outside, and the birds leveled them to the ground. They also shredded a beautiful little succulent that I bought a few weeks ago and delayed planting outside till the weather was better. Managed to keep them out of the chard seedlings by draping nylon bridal-veil mesh over a stick, but that won’t last once the plants get a little bigger.

Next: to make a bunch of face masks out of a pair of old Laura Ashley pillowcases I found in the linen closet. These are supposed to be doable in 10 minutes. We shall see…they look pretty easy. Want to make some for myself, m’jiito, and the neighbors.

Then, once it’s good and dark, it’s off for the second one-mile walk with the hound. The plan is to try to get two miles of walking a day, by going out in the morning and the evening for one-mile junkets.

Fewer people are out with their dogs after dark, though last night I encountered three of them. One had a crazed yapper. The other, a couple, had a large retriever-like thing that was well behaved enough, and a big white pit-bull mix that…well, these stupid people had the mellow retriever attached to the large male human, and the pit-pull attached to the willowy female. The pit-bull launched into full attack mode when it saw Ruby. We were on the other side of the street. The damn dog dragged the woman into the street and pulled her down the road, trying to get at me and my 23-pound pooch.

She managed to regain her footing and haul the dog to a stop, but it looked pretty iffy there for a few seconds.

See what I mean about people? You just can’t fix stupid, no matter how hard you try.

Greta

Do you ever have some deep regret come back and haunt you? Something you could have done, you should have done, you didn’t do…

Greta, of all the dogs in my life, all the many dogs, was the one dog I’ve loved more than any other dog, and quite possibly more than any other human. She was the most superb spirit I’ve ever known, through 75 years on this endless earth.

We’d acquired Greta the German Shepherd from some neighbors who divorced. I don’t know how old she was, but I think she was around four, maybe even five years old at the time. She was fully grown, settled into calm maturity when we acquired her.

A few years later my son was born. Then a few years after that, we moved uptown to a new old house in a new old neighborhood. Greta came with us. By then we’d gone through two other German shepherds and a Labrador retriever. If Greta was three when we got her, she was eight when we moved to North Central.

Another three years or so went by.

Greta liked to take the sun in the back yard, loafing outside the big Arcadia doors that opened off the living room.

This one late morning I happened to look out there and saw her laying there in a puddle of her own urine.

I had been told, back in the day, that when an elderly dog became incontinent, that was the end of its life: the time had come to put the dog down.

Steeling myself, I called the vet, put her in the car, and drove her down there.

This vet was a friend of mine. But he wasn’t around when we got down to his office. The receptionist told me to take a seat in the waiting area, which I did.

Greta was actually OK. She was just kind of doddering around, looking a little puzzled.

Across the room was a man and his…whatever the f*ck she was…girlfriend, abused wife, concubine, WTF. He had a nondescript dog with him, large and pit-bullish.

Greta is just standing there. She’s not doing anything to anyone.

The guy suddenly growls at me, “Keep that dog away from me. If you don’t, I will let my dog go and it will kill your animal.”

Huh?

I was so stunned by this attack I didn’t know what to say.

He repeated his threat, into my silence. And then he repeated it again.

I got up, handed Greta over to the receptionist, and left.

Why?

First, why did I not tell the receptionist (who had walked out of the room when this happened) that this guy was threatening me and she should either tell him to leave or call the police?

Why did I not turn to his miserable little woman and say, “Hey, sister: pay attention. A man who will mistreat another woman and some aging dog will do the same to you. Get away, bitch, while you can!”

Why did I not say to the little bastard, “Make my day!”

Why did I leave my beloved dog there?

Why did I not ask, “Is there something that can be done about her incontinence? Can we fix this, even if just for a little while?”

Well. In those days I didn’t have my day made by confrontation. Today I’d take that sh!thead on, even if I had to do it with my bare hands. Today I’d have a cell phone, and I would call the police and say some rabid guy was threatening to sic his dog on me and I needed a cop there right away. Today at the very least I would have started shouting at the top of my lungs for Jerry, my veterinary friend.

In those days, I’d never heard of a UTI. And even if I had heard of it, there may not have been the antibiotic treatments we have now.

In those days, I’d been told, more than once, that when an agèd dog loses control of its bladder or bowels, the kindest thing is to put it down.

In those days, a woman stayed quiet, lady-like.

In those days, I never would even have thought of standing up to a male.

Every now and again, this vignette comes back to me — like now — and reduces me to tears.

Doggy Cleanup, Toasted with Fireworks

Ruby, having carried her new Ball to her newly inherited Dog Bed, which is covered with her newly laundered plush Dog Blanket, has figured out that if she can induce the Human to throw Ball onto the fabric bed, it will not roll away down the hall and disappear inside a closet or another room. So, hevvin help us, we have a new Game. Arghh! 😀

Ruby has already learned, amazingly, to throw the ball, and at times she even seems to have some control over where it goes. She being a dog, though, her attention span is somewhat limited where things that are not Food are concerned, and so…well…it’s hard to estimate the significance of this. But it’s interesting. And all of that notwithstanding, she being a corgi, it’s very cute indeed.

The Funny Farm is largely disinfected, after a day of spreading Clorox all over the floors. This chore, I’d intended to do a couple of days ago, right after poor little Cassie was dispatched to her maker. But I haven’t had the energy to do it. In the first place, I was exhausted. In the second, I’d put my back out and pulled a rib muscle lifting Cassie on and off the bed and out into the yard and back into the house. So that hurt quite a bit even before my little fall, which surely did not help things. Though I wanted to get to work on assassinating microbes, yesterday I was past moving.

While Cassie was ailing, I found myself on hands and knees four, five, six times a day cleaning up dog pee and dog shit. Poor old dog was too sick and too confused to get herself outside, or to figure out where and when to do it. Even though we had pee mats down all over the house, and even though she would stagger over to whatever mat suited her fancy, often she would miss. A mound would land on a tile instead of on a paper sponge; a puddle would slop over the side of the plastic edging and, by capillary action, seep about a half-mile under the mat.

Mercifully, she favored a limited number of sites for these activities.

Even though of course I cleaned up each event with plenty of Simple Green as it happened, come Saturday morning I still thought…ick!

MRSA S.aureus. Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

So today was the day to scrub up each 4×6-foot site — six of them, in six different rooms — with plenty of Clorox. This, I’ve learned, kills off a wealth of microbes, including (interestingly enough) MRSA staph. You can actually bathe in the stuff — well, in a dilute solution of it — to kill off staphylococci. And, I can attest, it works.

The various loos, then, are madly disinfected. Tomorrow it will be on to mopping up all the rooms, halls, and whatnot with Simple Green, which surely will smell a lot less obnoxious than Clorox does.

Meanwhile…goddammit. I’m exhausted, hurt from top to bottom, and want nothing more than to go to bed…and guess what?

New Year’s and the Fourth of July do not suffice for our brainless local revelers. The neighbors have hauled out their store of fireworks and, as we scribble, are banging them off in all directions. Ruby is losing her doggy mind, yapping her doggy head off, on high alert. The human is madly pissed. And so, I suppose, none of us in all directions will be getting much sleep tonight.

Happy Martin Luther King Day. Jeez.

On the Road to Heaven’s Gate

Cassie the Corgi is on her way out of this world, I’m afraid.

Day before yesterday she started having serious trouble walking. The air of confusion, which has lurked for awhile, became more distinct, as though familiar places looked strange and she had no idea where she was.

Now today she can’t walk or stand at all.

Plus she’s having the kind of palsies she developed of late, while she’s asleep: I’d call them convulsions or maybe spasms. Now they’re happening during the daytime hours, and they seem to either scare her or hurt her. When I take her outside and set her down, she looks utterly befuddled…peers around with an expression that says, clear as day, “What is this place and what am I supposed to be doing here?”

Interestingly, it occurred to me that she acts sort of like a person who’s had a stroke might act, under some circumstances. Look up “can a dog a have a stroke” and discover ischemic strokes are incident on Cushing’s disease…which of course is exactly what ails her.

She’s now completely incontinent…leaked all over the pee pad I put down over her mat in the bathroom, her favorite nesting place. While reclining by the dinner table, she managed to deposit a couple of fine turds under the dining room buffet. That was quite a trick.

As soon as Cassie passes on to her furry fathers, I will have to disinfect all the flooring in the house. She’s peed and shat all over every room in the house, and no amount of spot-cleaning changes the fact that the entire dwelling stinks to high heaven. To fix that, I’ll need to mop all the floors with Clorox and then open every window and door to air it out for several hours.

Ruby should not be exposed to the fumes. So I’ll need to schlep her down to my son’s house and leave her there for five or six hours while the place airs out. It’s a little chilly to leave her in the yard all day, and if it keeps raining she can’t be left out there anyway.

{sigh}

Cassie was born in 2006, if you believe what the Humane Society said. That would make her around 12 or 13 years old, depending on what month she arrived. So that puts her right at the median life span for corgis, which is 12.6 years. So she’s had a pretty good life.

Ruby is already showing signs of taking over as Queen of the Universe. Ruby came along in 2014. That would make her about 5 years old, the prime of her doggy life. So if she lives to be 12, she’ll be around for another 7 years…until I’m 80 or 81 years old.

Thinking about whether to get another dog…and I think probably not. In the first place, Ruby will expand to fill all available space. And in the second, I’m already too old to be on my hands and knees five or six times a day cleaning up after a sick old dog at the end of its life — at 80, I will be way too old for that. So I guess, no: no more dogs.

Which is sad. It’s hard to conceive of living without the company of a dog. But what the hell: maybe I won’t live that long. 😉

/p>

Eight Dogs and a Bird

Make that eleven dogs: add in Cassie, Ruby, and Charley.

This morning I needed to make a Walmart run fairly early in the day, so as to buy another package of giant pee pads with which to protect my floors from Cassie’s incontinence. In fact, she’s getting a lot better. But not having to mop up great Salton Seas of urine and then disinfect the lake beds made such a difference in the human’s misery quotient that I determined not to run out of the things.

Charley, who’s visiting while M’hijito junkets in Colorado, also tends to defile the floor…but not with pee…

Leaving them here unobserved so soon after feeding time was ill advised. So I did something even more ill advised: decided to leave the back door hanging open while I was out, so they could come and go as nature called.

It was, after all, pouring rain. Not likely any burglars would be working in that deluge. If they were, they would earn whatever they stole. 😀

So yeah. No burglars came visiting, but another intruder moved in: a hummingbird flew in the back door. Once in the house, he flew up into the kitchen skylight, where he became hopelessly, despairingly confused. He could see the sky through the cloudy glass, and of course, being a bird he figured that WAS the sky. But being a bird, he could neither figure out why he couldn’t get through it nor figure out that he needed to go DOWN, not up, to get out of his trap.

This is the second time such a thing happened. Last time, some years ago, I called Liberty Wildlife. The volunteer I reached this morning was dubious. In the pouring rain, all their distressed-critter rescuers were hunkered down, and believe me: NONE of them wanted to venture into the downpour.  Quite reasonably so.

He asked me to call back after 11, when a different volunteer would be on duty and more folks might be available to call on.

Right.

So I called several other rescue organizations, some of which could not be reached at all, some of which had endless yakathon/ear-splitting Muzak phone trees (how i HATE those things!) that were so discouraging that after five or ten minutes I’d hang up, some of which just didn’t answer at all.  Game and Fish greeted me with the familiar electronic run-around. Called the Fire Department’s non-emergency line. They suggested Game and Fish. I said I thought not. So they suggested the Humane Society. The Humane Society’s aggravating yakathon said they’d answer the phone in about ten minutes and then blasted an even MORE infuriating loud fake music at me. I couldn’t turn the sound down on the phone-set low enough to make it less distracting or less infuriating. Finally I realized that the Humane Society is less than ten minutes away from me. So jumped in the car and drove up there, where I found a roomful of live human beings. They suggested Game and Fish. 😀

Back at the Funny Farm, I called Liberty Wildlife again. The new wrangler on duty said they really weren’t supposed to rescue birds that weren’t large enough to harm a person.

Heh. Do you suppose I could persuade them that the hummer was trying to poke my eyes out with its long spear-like bill?

She agreed to call some volunteers, having identified the person she thought was closest to the Funny Farm. But she wasn’t sure she could round him up.

So that was pretty discouraging. I figured I’d just have to wait until the little bird became exhausted and dehydrated enough to fall to the floor, at which point it would die.

But no! Not too much later, along comes a phone call from a man who says he’ll be right over!He lives in the mid-town area, and seemed not to be fazed at the prospect of driving through the rain to rescue a hummingbird from a strange woman’s house.

LOL! Liberty Wildlife has come through!

He arrives at the door. Cassie, Ruby, and Charley, all three of ’em, fly into an ecstasy of Dog Joy upon greeting the guy. They clearly think this is the single best human they have ever seen on this planet, bar none. He introduces himself as Chris. The dogs apparently interpret that as “Christ”: they are now in full-out worship mode.

Chris says he loves dogs. He and his wife have eight of them, several of which are rescues. I say I found Cassie at the dog pound, where she’d been relegated because she barks. He agreed that barking was surely a unique trait for a dog…

I’ve already hauled the ladder in and wiped it dry. Takes Chris about thirty seconds to snab the hummer in one of those nets you use to lift fish out of water. I make a mental note to get one of those next time I’m near the sporting goods store. Bird delivered to the Great Outdoors, it takes off like a feathered rocket, chirping furiously.

So that was good. Sent them a little donation as a token of appreciation.

That and the fact that Cassie is getting much, much better were the only decent things that happened today, a true, certifiable Day from Hell.

Poor Li’l Dog

So I’m on my way over to meet my friends, to join them for a Costco junket. It’s almost 9:30 a.m. Hotter than the Hubs of Hades, cruising up Main Feeder Street EW.

And what should come trotting up the road but a beautiful young dog, all black, overheated looking. I stopped. He jumped in my car: a smallish lab mix. My guess would be part pit bull, part lab. I thought he was a pup.

He parked himself in the driver’s seat well, seated conveniently on the gas pedal and the brake pedal. And refused to budge.

Rousted one of the gay guys from the corner house. He’s kind of an old fella and pretty gimpy. Asked if he thought he could help me get the dog into a more practical place inside the car. By the time we got back to the car, the dog had climbed over to the front passenger seat well…which was good, because when the old guy saw the pooch, he said there was no way he could’ve helped to personhandle it.

Brought the hound back here so I could call the folks and put them off.

Get him into the backyard with a bowl of water, which he inhales. But once he gets back into the garage that dog is NOT goin’ back out.

I try to slip into the house around him, but Ruby dodges out.

Forthwith they get into it. Ruby, the little twit, will try to dominate any dog…even if it weighs 30 pounds more than she does. Even if it’s likely part pit bull. Which evidently it is….

Had a time rescuing her. Finally the stray shot into the house, allowing me to fish the now cowering corgi out from behind the car’s exhaust pipe.

That distraction delayed the phone call long enough that the folks were outside waiting for me to show up and didn’t get the call, so I had to drive to their place to tell them what was going on.

Catch them as they’re about to leave for my house. Explain what’s going on. They agree that leaving the dog in the house is impossible and outside in the heat is unwise.

Return to the Funny Farm, by which time I’ve decided to take the dog to the Humane Society.

Unfortunately it’s a kill shelter.

Dog is somebody’s pet. It’s very well cared for, well fed, shiny coat, clean teeth, more or less heels on a leash, sits on command, shakes paws.

I would like to steal him. Probably would, if I thought I could get away with it. Which I don’t.

Often you can find the owner on NextDoor, but I didn’t feel I could risk keeping him even for a few days, since there’s no sane way to keep them separated. Obviously, I can’t keep a dog that’s going to fight with Ruby, even for a short time

Got the dog up to the Humane Society. Yes, he had a chip, but the idiot owner hadn’t registered him! They had no way of finding out who he belonged to. And their shelter was full. They wanted me to drive him down to the county pound, WAY down in South Phoenix — half a tank of gasoline’s worth of driving. And that place is a zoo.

They ended up taking him in and saying the pound would come pick him up from their facility, within 24 hours.

Felt extremely guilty.

Got home to find Ruby in a frenzy. She was SO upset. She ran around and around the backyard and the house baying (did you know a corgi can actually bay?) and barking at the top of her little doggy lungs.

Still felt guilty, but was forced to acknowledge that my first instinct was right: NO WAY could I keep that dog while searching for its owner…or permanently.

I thought, briefly, about seeing if M’jito like to have this dog foisted on him. But in the first place, he’s not a golden retriever (the preferred beast). In the second, he’s very active. And in the third, somebody is no doubt searching for him…or will be, whenever they get home from work.

Mercifully, Ruby doesn’t seem to have gotten hurt. Thank god. Just what I needed: another vet bill!

She’s still batsh!t, though.

Boss dog and recumbent underling