Coffee heat rising

Flyin’ Low…

Wow! Last few days have fallen into the “Whirlwind” category. Yesterday — yeah, flyin’ low — I got through not one but two interminable scholarly emanations for our client journal, each about 30 pages long.

This has become do-able thanks to the machinations of The Kid, my ineffable and amazingly entrepreneurial young business partner. She has devised A System, and it works. First, she assigns Incoming Flak to her assistant, a.k.a. The Underling. This young woman actually enjoys performing tedious chores — sort of like some of us enjoy ironing in front of the television. And she’s pretty darned good at it.

The journal in question has not come unstuck from the 20th century. Instead of using Word’s “Styles” function to format MSS for the designer, the new editors still indulge in, God help us, manual mark-up! We have tried to persuade these folks to quit that, but to no avail.

Manual mark-up on a computer entails entering what we call “fake HTML” tags before and after every. single. god. damned. design. element. in. the. document. <i>Every</i> italic. <b>Every</b> boldface. <ext>Every indented block quotation</ext>. <pext>Every quoted passage of poetry</pext>. <t>Every Title</t>… and on and on and interminably, idiotically ON. It is an utter, total waste of time, given that a file set up correctly in InDesign will import a Word file formatted with “Styles” and convert the styles automatically to fit the designer’s layout.

We have suggested using “Styles” and even have gone so far as to create a Wyrd template for the purpose, to no avail. The last time we did that, for a variety of reasons the strategy proved to be more hassle than it was worth, and so we gave up.

So, where you are is where you’re at. Starting at that point, The Kid has created an assembly line.

  1. Copy arrives in our precincts (this also is stupidly complicated for different reasons, but I’ve gone beyond complaining here…)
  2. The Kid reviews documents for our purposes. Once approved,
  3. Copy moves to The Underling.
  4. Underling enters all the mark-up tags and checks formatting of references (another mind-numbing and annoying chore).
  5. Copy moves back to The Kid.
  6. Kid reads copy and does first edits, checking references section with some care.
  7. Copy moves to The Old Bat.
  8. Old Bat reads and edits copy behind The Kid, applying the benefit of an eye jaded by 40 years of academic bullshit.
  9. Old Bat generates “clean” and “edited” version; posts to DropBox.
  10. Kid gives copy a final read.

Great stuff, ain’t it? Foisting the tedious mark-up chore onto Underling eliminates a large part of the annoyance factor entailed in editing this content. When you’re not thinking about that ditz, it becomes relatively easy to edit language, style, and fact-checks. So much so that yesterday I read least twice as much content as I could normally plow through with that journal’s offerings.

In more altruistic precincts, on Sunday we — the choir — went over to the home of a member who’s knocking at Death’s Door, brought there by a case of pancreatic cancer. He has planned his funeral service, including his choice of music, and wanted us to sing it for him so he could hear how it sounds. So that was kind of a {gulp!} moment…

But in fact it was really cool and none of us started to cry whilst singing. Despite having reached the wraith-like stage, he was still able to walk around, sit in his favorite easy chair, and hold court with some élan. Would that we could all go out with so much class.

Friend on the choir came over afterward — we dined, consumed a fair amount of wine, and plotted the destruction of the Ruling Class. 😉 Actually, what we plotted was a scheme for the two of us to acquire voice lessons from the choir’s astonishingly talented new organist, who has a gorgeous singing voice, knows how to coach singers, and is classically trained every which way from (heh!) Sunday. Haven’t heard back from said organist since I e-mailed an inquiry, but it being a three-day weekend she probably hasn’t checked the job-related email.

In the interim, I managed to write a few words in the noveloid in progress. And tried to talk to our marvelous Web Guru about a multi-site WordPress template for Plain & Simple Press, which would allow me to publish several works at once, a passage or a chapter at a time. Then YOU, my fine readers, could sample them online and could buy the finished products as PDFs, paperbacks, or e-books. Whether I will bother to put these things on Amazon or not remains to be seen — Amazon embargoes the content if you market a book for less than $2.99, and since the only effective way to “sell” a book on Amazon is to give it away, I figure I might as well give it away for free to my readers than give it away for 99 cents minus Amazon’s share. WTF? I’m retired…I don’t care if any of these things makes me rich or not.

More likely not. 😀

Connie the Trucker calls to report that her dog, a Weimeraner that lives in the truck with her, has developed the same vehicle neurosis that almost killed Charley the Golden Retriever. Unlike my skeptical son, though, she decided to try a Thundershirt, and lo! It works. The dog is much calmed when wrapped tightly in a kind of canine straitjacket. Thereby, we may add, rescuing Connie from having to quit her job.

The blood pressure drug is working: it not only pushes the BP into the 110s or, at worst, the low 120s, it stabilizes the numbers so they don’t jerk up into volcanic spikes every time I lose my temper. Which is often. And — unheard-of miracle!! — it seems to have NO side effects.

And speaking of losing my temper, I have yet to re-wire the robo-call blocker. This will entail a call to customer service, since I cannot remember how to do it — it’s much more complicated than simply attaching it in line, because I have so many devices running out of the same cable connection.

And lookee here! The Kid has sent another pre-edited, pre-formatted article for me to finish off. And so, away…

Exeunt Ruby, Stage Left

Ruby the Corgi is vacationing at my son’s house, keeping Charley the Golden Retriever company and taking a break from Cassie the Corgi. And I feel like a boulder has been lifted from my shoulders.

My poor little Cassie has been totally harassed by this puppy. Really, I think at seven she was probably too old to have a pup come into her doggy life, which was happy and settled. It’s not that she seemed unhappy about the puppy…most of the time. But…

Ruby proved to be the more assertive dog and, after a year or two, displaced Cassie as Queen of the Universe. Cassie moped but seemed to adjust. I guess.

More recently, though, they’ve taken to engaging in what can best be described as sparring matches. You know how little kids play “swordfight” with a couple of sticks? Well, these dogs would have schnozz-fights…just like that. whack whack whack whack whack! Only with their muzzles, not sticks. Teeth would be bared, but they weren’t exactly fighting; not in a serious way. Yet.

But now Cassie shows up with a gouge on her face, just barely missing an eye. I didn’t see this happen, but I believe it to be a dog bite.

If it’s an injury and not a hot spot, it could be one of two and only two things:

  • Dog bite
  • Twig poke, incurred while rummaging under the citrus for the precious mummified oranges

Either is possible. Dog bite seems most likely to me, since Cassie has been rummaging for many a year and never poked herself in the face.


I have been sick for six months. Whatever I came down with in March has never gone away! After much consultation, three docs suspect allergies. One is the alarmingly commonsensical Young Dr. Kildare; one is a gastroenterologist who believes it is not a recurrence of GERD, and one runs on high-test fuel at the Mayo. And in all cases, as soon as they hear “…and yes, the dogs sleep on the bed,…” they can be seen visibly restraining themselves from rolling their highly-trained eyes heavenward.

It became more and more clear that one or both dogs were going to have to go.

So I emailed my son, who has conceived the idea that Charley the Golden Retriever is so lonely he needs a companion, and asked if he would like to have Ruby. Otherwise, she was going back to the breeder.

Well, that was like plugging him into an electric outlet.

Forthwith he showed up to pick up the dog, all the while assuring his neurotic mutther that if she had second thoughts, all she had to do was say so.

Hm. I felt a little sad to eject Ruby, who is a cute little puppy as long as you don’t mind being dominated by a dog. But…


Y’know, when the kid went out the door with that dog, I felt like a three-hundred-pound weight was lifted from my shoulders.

§ § §

Spent the entire rest of the day cleaning and dusting and laundering and laundering and laundering.

Under the bed, I found a lake of dog hair and dust, a good two inches deep. You never saw so much dirt and dog hair mixed together in your life! No wonder I’ve been sick!

What can a little corgi or two do? Well…hang onto your hat:

Thats’ just five days’ worth! This shack was cleaned from stem to stern last Tuesday! Now admittedly, it includes the dog dunes under the bed (which should have been eroded by the weekly dust-mopping). I’ve cleaned all the floors, swiffering and vacuuming and then swiffering again. Especially in the bedroom. Pulled all the bedding off, washed the blanket, washed the dog pads (twice), washed the mattress cover, washed the bathroom rugs, changed the sheets, laundered EVERYthing. Pulled out the bed, cleaned behind it, cleaned the wall behind it. Climbed up and cleaned the ceiling fan’s blades, carefully.

As for Cassie: can’t tell whether she’s depressed or relieved or what. In the absence of Ruby, she has almost completely stopped the incessant gawdawful  barking. Granted, it’s only been a few hours…but my gosh. It’s so quiet in here my ears hurt from the silence.

Cassie and I went for a doggy-walk this evening, the first we’ve had in several years that wasn’t a mile-long contest and the first enjoyable doggy-walk since the weather has begun to cool. She’s out of shape, so was tired by the time we got back to the Funny Farm. Just now she has resumed her position, at long last, as Queen of the Universe. And she’s sleeping in the direct line of the doctor-ordered steamer. I hope she’s feeling less allergic…

Minor Annoyances of the Day


…park selves at back door and arf. Human gets up (having just barely brushed the seat of its easy chair with its fanny) and lets the dogs out. Dogs go out onto the patio and stand there, staring expectantly at human.

Human: It’s 105 and overcast out here, and you want to go outside and stand?

Dogs: Well, yes. Yes. Of course.


Phone Solicitors…

…apparently are having a phone-solicitor jamboree.

Despite the wonderful call blocking device, quite a few still get through. They do this by spoofing phone numbers that are not in service (reinforcing one’s suspicion that Cox is in cahoots with them: how else would they get such extensive lists of out-of-service numbers?), or simply by calling from numbers that the device has yet to block.

Even the calls that get blocked still jangle my phone: they ring once and then are cut off. This has to do with the way the gadget has to be connected, because of the number of computers and phones and crap that are attached to the incoming cable. In one way, this is annoying: whatever you’re doing still gets interrupted, albeit very briefly. In another, it’s kinda gratifying, because you know the bastards are getting hung up on. The ones that do get through, though, set off your answering machine, so you have to listen to that thing yap. Sometimes they stay on the line long enough to cause the answering machine to pick up the “busy” signal that ensues, so you have to get up, walk to the machine in the back of the house, and delete the voice message that’s going beep-beep-beep-beep-beep….

Today I’ve had at least eight calls, about half of which have gotten through. That’s just while I’ve been here: left the house at 6:30 a.m. and didn’t get back until sometime after 11.

Whoops! There’s another one: the third from “Bountiful, Utah” today!


…definitely are having a mosquito jamboree.

Don’t know when I’ve seen so many skeeters around. I think it’s probably because I left a dish of water out for the dawgs while it was excessively hot, because I was afraid Ruby would slip out unnoticed, as she’s inclined to do.

Cassie prefers to lurk indoors, but Ruby will go out and lurk in the yard even when it’s hotter than the proverbial hubs of Hades. I do try to check to be sure she’s inside, but given my growing level of incompetence, the chance remains that she’ll get herself stuck out there in the heat.

Even with water, she wouldn’t last long at 115 degrees. It’s cooled down to 105, so I brought the mosquito habitat inside. But that left, of course, a generation of little biters flying around.

There’s a chemical-free way to keep them from chewing on you, though: turn a reasonably powerful fan to “blast” and point it at yourself. Interestingly, mosquitoes are not very strong fliers, and they can’t navigate well in a breeze. Right now we have a large box fan roaring away. Whenever I work up enough energy to get up, I’ll turn on the other three table fans in this room. The box fan is sitting here next to the sliding door, because I take it out onto the deck at breakfast time by way of discouraging the little biters in the morning.


…Really? Is it really possible that I could get the date of a Mayo Clinic appointment wrong not once, not twice, but three times?

Entre nous, I begin to doubt it.

The journey from my house to the Mayo is halfway across the galaxy. I just simply HATE driving out there. So when I needed to traipse across town by way of finding out why whatever ails me has been hanging on for the past five and a half months, I was not pleased.

I had a meeting in Scottsdale this morning, which would put me about halfway there. So I arranged an appointment at 9:10. This meant that the errands I needed to do while I was in the area where the group meets had to be deferred until next week, and some of them are things I would like to get done this week, not sometime in the far future.

So I leave the meeting early and fly across Scottsdale headed toward Payson — for reasons I can’t imagine, the Mayo built its office complex damn near out to Fountain Hills, which borders the freaking Beeline Highway. Naturally, Shea Blvd, the only way to get out there, is all dug up with “lane closed” signs all over the place. But I hit the campus just in time: run up the parking garage stairs and race into the reception area, only to be told…

“Oh, that’s not today: that’s next week! :-)”

Son. Of. A. Bitch!

This is the third time I’ve trudged way to hell and gone almost to freaking Fountain Hills and been told the appointment I had on my calendar was not for that day but for a week hence.

The first time, I put it down to my usual old-lady incompetence.

The second time, I was really pissed.

But this time? Now I’m beginning to wonder.

Does it really make sense that I would get the date wrong for a trip I truly hate loathe and despise three times?

I go to a whole lot of doctors, dentists, veterinarians, car mechanics, and whatnot. Why would this keep happening only at the Mayo? It never happens with Young Dr. Kildare or CardioDoc or the glasses guy or the dentist or the hair stylist or the vet or the business meetings or choir…so why would it happen with the Mayo and only with the Mayo? Why would these errors consistently be exactly one week off, when they’re usually made pretty far out in the future? (This one wasn’t: I made it a few days ago, but mostly you’re scheduling three or four weeks down the line.)

(Wow! Here’s the fourth call from Bountiful! This guy just does not give up! Now we’re at about 9 nuisance calls today.)

So, yeah: does it really make sense that this kind of scheduling error would happen only with the Mayo?

If they’re deliberately mis-scheduling, why? Could that make sense in even the wildest scenario?

The only possible reason I can imagine is that the Mayo doesn’t like to deal with Medicare patients. Medicare doesn’t pay enough, and collecting is a hassle for them. The Mayo prioritizes private patients over Medicare patients. They may be quietly trying to discourage me from making appointments at all. If a person makes enough wasted trips — especially if the person is elderly or disabled and it’s hard to get out there at all — maybe she’ll just give up and go someplace else.

And I certainly would, if they weren’t about the only game in town.

Overall hospitals and medical care in Arizona are pretty piss poor. In the Phoenix area, only two hospitals are rated excellent; one is the Mayo and one is a facility way to hell and gone out in Sun City. I don’t know anybody who practices in Sun City, and I sure as hell don’t want to drive as far to the westside as I have to drive to the eastside to go to a doctor.

It’s late. I’ve got to get up and start preparing the walls for the upcoming paint job. And so, away…

Why? Because endlessly annoying Facebook will not pick up the image you want to illustrate your post. It wants to pick up the banner image, which, if it’s generically the same day after day, quickly bores readers or makes them think today’s post is a repeat of yesterday’s. So the only way to force FB to use an image that has anything to do with your post is to change the banner image to fit the subject of the day. That means today’s banner image (a historic photo of four Nazis, for example) bears no relation whatsoever to the topic of yesterday’s post (ruminations on power outages, for example). So annoying.

Charley Back Home

Charley & Ruby in better days

Charley seemed a little better last night, but he was drugged to the teeth with steroids and tranquilizers and more stuff than the human mind can conceive. M’hijito had to build a spreadsheet to keep track of the dosing!

I wouldn’t have believed it…that a dog could silently work itself into such a nervous state that it can give itself a freaking heatstroke…except that before we even got to the freeway on-ramp he was doing the same thing my son described: pressed himself tight against the door, panting frantically, huffing & puffing like a steam engine. This was in spite of being doped up on sedatives! And in spite of M’hijito sitting in the back seat holding him and trying to calm him.

The freeway is within easy walking distance of the fancy emergency veterinary — less than a quarter mile, I’d say — and we were in my car, not my son’s. So presumably the cause is not some strange ultrasonic noise inaudible to humans…unless all newer cars with backup imaging technology do that. I did call Chuck the Wonder-Mechanic last week and asked if there was any way the back end of the vehicle could have heated up despite the AC blasting away…he doubted it. Pete, his business partner and future Heir to the Empire, said he hadn’t heard of any such high- or low-pitched noise issues in late-model Fords, though it was the first thing that jumped to IT Dude’s mind when I told him the story. Pete suggested I get in touch with Ford…good luck with that! 😀

At any rate, if that were the case, I’m sure the word would be out by now. There’s not a credible sign of it on the Web, at least not that I can see.

It was about a 15- or 20-minute drive to my son’s house. By the time we got there, he was already heating up, even though we cranked the AC as cold as it would go. They’d shaved his belly, so you could feel the skin on there: HOT. Schnozz: HOT.

But he now can walk about 20 or 30 feet, so that’s better than it was. We got him in the house. He gulped down about a gallon of water…you have to hold the water bowl up to his head, because he can’t bend his head down and drink.

Got him flopped down on the cool tiles and put an ice pack between his rear legs, as we’d seen the veterinary staff do. I saturated the fur around his head and neck with water, as I’ve been taught to do in the past to cool off an overheated dog. He soon stopped panting, and eventually he fell asleep.

My son’s employer kindly agreed to let him work from home, and provided a company computer and remote connection to the corporate system. In theory, that’s not part of his job description, but it looks like they’re willing to let him do it for a few days.

The Fancy Vet said to take him to the regular vet in four or five days to have him re-assessed. So if they’ll let him work from home today and tomorrow and a couple days next week, that should simplify life some.

Meanwhile, it looks like the hypothesis that the dog hurt his back or neck when he fell out of the car in Show Low may hold a little water. The veterinary assistant said when they would rub him along one side of his spine, he would act like it was sensitive, and when they lifted his right front leg to bandage the macerated spot where IV after IV has been stuck in, he yelped like it hurt. They did X-ray his spine and couldn’t find any broken vertebrae, so if this theory is right, he must have twisted or fallen cattywampus when he fell on the ground, thereby spavining his back. In that case, in a week or three, he may recover his ability to walk.

Whatever becomes of him, obviously he never can ride in a car again. Which is a bit of a problem. Presumably the only way my son will be able to get him to the vet will be to dope him with Benadryl or a sedative.

So in an idle moment, I googled “dog fear of riding in car,” and the search conveniently suggested an alternative search term: “dog is suddenly afraid to ride in the car.” Following that, I discovered that this is not a rare problem: all sorts of sites and discussion boards describe mature dogs that previously had no problem riding in a car suddenly evincing utter terror.

What would bring this on is a mystery. My son has never been in a car accident; the dog has never been hurt or tossed around by a sudden stop. Apparently out of the blue Charley just decided that cars are bad for Charleys.

It is beyond weird.

To say nothing of beyond expensive. My son refuses to say what he’s spent so far, but I’d guess it’s probably $5,000 to $8,000…possibly as much as $10,000. He said he’d just paid off the car (a 0 percent loan!) because he so much hates being in debt. And now he’s in hock to the credit card companies

Our Story So Far…

Day One
Homeward Bound
Back in Town

Why Your Insurer Asks about Your Dog…

Doobie cropped
Why? Why, Lord, why?

Why does a prospective insurer ask you if you have a dog and, if so, what kind of dog it is before issuing you a homeowner’s policy?

Well, the obvious answer is that some breeds have a reputation for biting — no matter how much you love pit bulls and other kinds of molossers, you can’t deny the statistics. Dogs bite: some 4.7 million times a year, leading 800,000 humans to seek medical attention, of whom 386,000 will need emergency treatment. A third of all homeowner’s liability claims result from dog bites, at an average cost per claim of $32,072. Every year, the insurance industry shells out over a billion dollars for dog-bite claims.

Figures related to breeds can be confusing — even the placid golden retriever has been responsible for dog-bite fatalities, although a 2000 CDC report showed pit bulls and Rotweilers accounted for 67 percent of fatal attacks.

My son, a claims adjustor for a major US insurance company, once remarked that the most serious injuries insurers cover result from dog bites.

So, on the surface, it sure looks like dogs are a menace on four wheels feet, eh?

Well. Yeah. However…

The problem, IMHO, is not so much the ferocious dog as the stupid human. What we’re looking at here are statistics largely related to human stupidity.

Dogs allowed to roam loose or walk off the lead
Dogs that have been abused
Energetic working dogs cooped up in someone’s house or apartment
Dogs that have never been adequately trained
Dogs not given enough to do to work off energy
Dogs left unattended outside in a yard, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month
Dogs bred to fight
Dogs bred as “guard dogs”
Dogs whose innate aggressive tendencies have been encouraged
Children not taught how to behave around dogs
Adults who don’t know how to behave around dogs
Kids allowed to tease dogs
People who get drunk or stoned around dogs, putting themselves at risk
Humans who overall lack good sense

Oh yeah — and the occasional hapless burglar.

If you look at media reports — many of which admittedly are dramatized by way of selling papers and baiting clicks — you see that the vast majority of dog attacks involve some degree of  human stupidity.

Leaving a tiny infant accessible to a large dog.
Keeping pit bulls with young children in the house
Having six dogs around an 87-year-old woman
Keeping a male pit bull, a female pit bull in heat(!), and a 12-year-old in the same house
Keeping dogs (time after time after time!) that had previously demonstrated aggression
Chaining dogs outside in yards
Letting dogs run loose around a neighborhood or in rural areas
Allowing small children to approach food-defensive dogs while they’re eating(!!)…one could add “keeping food-defensive dogs at all after a child is born”
Attempting to feed strange dogs
Keeping six pit bulls(!) around the house
Mother sleeps through attack that kills 7-day-old infant sleeping next to her in the bed (what do we drink? what do we snort? what do we shoot up?)
Mother sleeps through dachshund chewing both legs off an infant (ditto)
Keeping nine dogs with a three-month-old baby
Starving dogs until they attack to obtain food
Leaving six-month-old baby alone with large molosser-type dog
Bringing nine-day-old infant into home with five molosser dogs
Interfering in a dog fight involving pit bulls, armed with a garden rake
Allowing six-year-old to try to ride a pit bull like a horse

Oh god. You could go on and on.

A tiny minority of these reports involve people who are just going about their business and dogs that have never been a problem and apparently never were abused. But about 99.9 percent of the cases entail some kind of stupid behavior on the part of the humans involved.

This brings us to the stupid human incident of the day. No: to the two stupid human incidents of the week.

Stupid Human Incident the First

At this time of year, the corgis and I have to leave the house by 5 a.m. if we’re to get in anything like a dog-and-human walk. So a couple of days ago, we’re out the door shortly after the crack of dawn. About a half-mile from the house, as we enter Richistan (the upscale part of the ‘hood to the east of us), we come upon our neighbor Josie and her daughter with their three Chihuahuaoid dogs.

Josie has the hilarious custom of rolling one of the Chihuahuas around in a baby carriage, on the theory that even though the critter is too old to walk very far, it loves to go out and get fresh air. This is very cute, and as you can guess, Josie is imbued with a degree of charm.

Okay, so Josie y su hija, also a grown woman and, to boot, a law-school graduate, are standing around schmoozing with a neighborhood fixture, a sweet and lonely old guy who amuses himself by driving around and feeding the local cats. If you pass by while he’s out of his car sprinkling cat food on the pavement, he’ll waylay you and feed a treat or two to your dog.

One of the Chihuahuaoids is a mean little bastard. It threatens to attack anyone who comes within ankle-biting distance.

So when I see this clutch up ahead, I veer out into the street to get around them, it being a little early in the morning to enjoy breaking up a dogfight.

Josie & company take the opportunity to slip away.

Naturally, Old Guy pursues me and my dogs.

He asks if it’s OK to give the dogs a treat. I say, “I wish you wouldn’t.”

This is far from the first time I’ve asked this guy NOT to give Milkbones to my dogs.

Why am I such a Scrooge that I don’t want some random guy giving my dogs treats? Let us count the ways…

  1. They are corgis. Looking at a Milkbone causes them to put on a pound. Possibly a pound per glance.
  2. They have their own treats. Load them up with Milkbone calories, and when I reward them with their treats for this or that achievement they get too many extra calories.
  3. Ruby is all over the guy, jumping up on him and totally out of control. I do not want her to get the idea that strangers will give her treats for jumping on them.
  4. My dog is not your teddy bear.

Ignoring “I wish you wouldn’t,” the old guy grabs a Milkbone out of his car, snaps it in two uneven pieces and tosses them to the two dogs. Ruby grabs the largest piece, which is about 2/3 of a Milkbone made for a Great Dane.

Forthwith, she starts to choke.

Actually, she’s having a reverse-sneezing attack, a common spasmodic condition among corgis. A mild incident looks like this:

When it comes on her with this thing in her mouth, unsurprisingly the crud goes down the wrong way.

Now she’s choking and horking and choking and horking and choking and horking and choking and horking. I realize I’m going to have to get her to the emergency vet — at five in the morning! — but we’re a half-mile from my house and that facility recently moved. I’ll have get her back to the house, look up the veterinary, figure out where the place is, and drive her down there. Meanwhile, my dog is choking to death.

Cassie’s lead tied to a belt loop, I snatch her up off the pavement and start hiking home as fast as I can go. About the time we get to the point where I think I simply can NOT carry her another step, she finally stops heaving.

This has gone on for a good ten or fifteen minutes. But once the spasms stop, she recovers well enough to walk the rest of the way home.

You realize: not only have I told this guy repeatedly not to give my dogs Milkbones, but this is not the first time such an episode has happened! Is there a reason the guy can’t remember that she had a spasmodic attack the last time he handed her a “treat” over my objections?

See what I mean about stupid  humans?

So I figure that as long as it’s hot, Cassie and Ruby and I will have to stay out of our favorite part of the ‘hood, since this guy haunts at sunrise.

Stupid Human Incident the Second

So this morning we head south and end up in the park.

I know better than to enter the park at dawn because a LOT of people let their dogs run off the leash there. There’s the constant risk of a dog fight, because these folks don’t seem to understand that the leash laws protect their dogs and them as well as their fellow citizens who pay taxes for the privilege of using the park, too.

It looks clear, though, so I figure we can stroll through one quarter of the park, then come back around and loop through the ‘hood to the south of the Funny Farm, easily racking up a mile or so on the way home.

But naturally, pretty quick along comes an old guy with an aged black lab wandering around loose. Very nice dog: it’s too old and too mellow to argue.

So I’m standing there chatting with him, when along come some dog-walking friends from the Richistan Trail with their strange and funny-looking mutt.

This adorable dog, which is about the size of the lab, is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen in your life. It has champagne-colored curly fur all over and weird blond eyes. I mean, its eyes are a sort of pale transparent tan, very light.

Before they rescued it from the Humane Society, it had been abused. It’s afraid of people, especially men. They’ve been socializing this dog over the past year or 18 months, and the critter has come a long way.

One thing they do to try to convince the dog that it should be happy is take it to the park and let it run around on about a 50-foot lead. The dog loves this, and the interaction it has with other people and their dogs seems to be calming its neuroses considerably.

The old guy wanders off with his lab, and we’re standing there chatting. The ill-trained Ruby wants nothing more than to jump all over this dog (as she jumps all over everyone and everything). Dog is afraid of other dogs, too, but has pretty well overcome this fear and seems to recognize she’s playing.

As I’m about to go on my way, the dog takes off for a romp, dragging this long leash behind. He’s run around me and now wrapped my feet like a Maypole.

And when he shoots off across the park, he yanks me off the feet before his humans can stop him.

I manage to avoid falling on the ground, which has just been irrigated and is your basic pool of mud. This is good, because I have osteoporosis in one hip and would likely have broken that hip if I’d hit the dirt.

What I get instead is a rope burn around both ankles:

leash burn
Doesn’t look like much, but lemme tellya: THAT HURT!

Is this their stupidity, my stupidity? Yeah: combined  human stupidity. They should’ve had their dog at heel and not let it race around until they were clear of other people and dogs. I should have been paying attention instead of yakking with my friends and letting Ruby bounce around.

Note to self: Stay out of the park, stupid!

It doesn’t leave a lot of places to walk in the neighborhood: Can’t go through Richistan. Can’t go anywhere near Conduit of Blight, which thanks to the train construction is now awash in bums and creeps. That leaves an area to the north of us, not the greatest part of the ‘hood, and a small area to the south. Boring.

About the only way to get any variety, then, as long as it’s hot, will be to put the dogs in the car and drive to the canal or take them to the Murphy Bridle Path along north Central. And between you & me, stuffing the dogs in the car, hauling them someplace, getting them out, stuffing them back in the car, and hauling them home is counterproductive. It’s enough hassle to discourage me from taking them out at all.

Hence, this rant.

Can anything constructive come of a rant? How about this…

How to Avoid Dog Bites

Never leave an infant or small child sleeping where a dog can reach it.

Close the bedroom door if the dog is at large in the house with you while the child is napping. Crate the dog or tie it by a leash to a doorknob if  you intend to nap while the child sleeps.

Never allow a child to tease a dog.

Never let a child to try to ride a dog.

Never leave a child unattended with a dog, in the yard, in a vehicle, or in the house.

Teach your children to stay away from dogs that are eating.

Crate-train your dog so that it can be kept out of harm’s way and gets a break from the kiddies. Train your children to leave the dog alone when it’s enjoying some private time in its crate.

Teach your child always to ask permission before petting a dog.

Teach your child not to wave her or his arms around when near a dog (dogs perceive this as a threat).

Teach your child to avoid unknown dogs and leave the vicinity if they see a loose dog.

Don’t allow your child to drag a small dog around, pick it up, or play “dress-up” with a dog.

Do not keep a pack of dogs in a household with children.

Never let your dog run loose. Anywhere. No, not even in dog parks. Especially not in dog parks.

Do not chain your dog outside in the yard.

Do not idiotically train your dog to be aggressive, and never keep a dog that has shown aggression toward humans.

Mmmm! Love human...for dinner...
Mmmm! Love human…for dinner…

Unless you’re an experienced trainer and you have exceptionally good sense, avoid molosser breeds. Many or most of these dogs have been bred as protection, fighting, or herding dogs; they are large, powerful, and potentially dangerous. Some are unpredictable and have a short fuse.

When you reach the age of decrepitude — say, over the age of about 60 — choose a pet dog that is not big enough or strong enough to overwhelm you. Bear in mind that you will not get any stronger as you get older, and that most large dogs can easily overpower an elderly or disabled person: not necessarily in an aggressive mode. Accidents happen…don’t invite any that are worse than they need to be.

Do not drink when you have a dog around.

Do not use drugs when you have a dog around.

Try to use common sense, forhevinsake. If you don’t have any, see if you can buy some! Maybe you can get an inoculation or something. Arghhh!

Image: Cane Corso, By Kumarrrr – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,




Doggy update

No one ever called to retrieve the stray dog. One guy called to see if I’d found a basset—a pair had escaped from his friends’ yard. That was it.

Pretty clearly she was dumped in the park, probably because the humans couldn’t abide having their carpets peed on every 10 to 20 minutes. Or couldn’t afford the vet bills to treat what may very well have been diabetes.

Neither, alas, can I. Even if her problem was only (!) a urinary tract infection, at this point I can’t afford a vet bill for that, either. Nor, with a possible long-term disability coming up the pike, can I care for a large dog…I may not even be able to care for the little dog.

When I called the Humane Society to see if they could scan her for a microchip, they refused to speak to me—as it develops, they don’t deal with stray animals. There’s actually a state law that forbids the Humane Society from taking in strays! The instant I said I’d found her in the park I was transferred to County Animal Control, with no further discussion. The county pound, it develops further, is now a no-kill shelter. That’s why they have 900 animals for which they can find no homes.

The County sent a guy out to pick up the pooch. To my surprise, he didn’t act like a comic-book dogcatcher. He was very kind, and it was obvious that he loved animals. He said they would examine and treat the dog for whatever ailed her, and that the first thing they’d do is scan her for a microchip and try to find her owners.

So, at least they won’t put her down summarily.