Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Don’t blame the dogs (or the cats)

June 19, 2021

The weather widget hits that C-note again.

Summer doesn’t officially arrive until tomorrow, but I’m already pretty much over it.

This sweaty conga line of triple-digit temps is starting to remind me of summers on Randolph AFB outside San Antonio. Your options were the swimming pool or some indoor sport, like Monopoly under the Fedders window unit. Venture outdoors for the usual boyish hijinks and you risked sinking into the asphalt like a Pleistocene mammoth stumbling into the La Brea tar pits.

Eventually we’d flee by car to Sioux City, Iowa, to visit my maternal grandmother. This was not an upgrade.

Our neighbors have been scurrying off to the high country on weekends to camp or VRBO it for a couple days, take five from the heat.

We’ve been sticking it out for a variety of perfectly unsatisfactory reasons. For instance, rather than join me in blissful sloth and torpor, Herself persists in gainful employment. Extra-credit tasks are assigned regularly by Herself the Elder, lest the devil find work for her daughter’s rarely idle hands. And finally, Miss Mia Sopaipilla is not an agreeable travel companion. The sounds she emits in a moving vehicle make a Marjorie Taylor Greene screed sound like the “Ave Maria.”

But we can’t blame this on the cat. Even the dogs are out of bounds, according to Ken Layne over at Desert Oracle Radio.

“Take the dog out at 8 o’clock and it’s still 100 degrees. The dog’s looking at me like, ‘What did you do?’ And I say, ‘Look, I did not do it.’ But of course I did; my species, anyway. The dogs just went along for the ride. It would be nice to blame them. ‘You’re the one who always wanted to get in the car and stick your head out the window when the A/C was on.’ But it’s not their fault.”

And now for something completely different

December 12, 2020

“Yeah, I’m wearing clothes. So what? So are you.”

After the events of the past few days I’m thinking we can all use a photo of a Shih Tzu wearing her poofy winter duds.

And now for something completely different

June 1, 2020

“If you want anything done in this yard you’ve got to meow
until you’re blue in the mouth,” says Miss Mia Sopaipilla.

We’ve been cocooning a bit, I suppose.

It’s not easy to watch America doggedly screwing its head even further up its own arse, especially while striving to make some novel observation about the practice. The bon mot proves elusive. So we’ve turned our gaze elsewhere.

The back yard has needed work for a while now, and it’s been getting some. Weeds pulled, vines excised, lilacs pruned, pond rock and red mulch laid down, balky gate repaired, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

In the process we discovered a few new aches and pains along with an old faucet and four sprinkler-system heads we didn’t know we had. They could be part of some prehistoric irrigation network; for sure there are a couple real anachronisms on the other side of the yard, metal jobbers buried in the pine duff like the plungers on land mines.

We’re not great with roses, but occasionally we get lucky.

The apple tree by the kitchen window has had the schnitz. All the neighbors say it’s never been worth a damn, and we’re starting to agree, though Spike the Terrorist Deer, that notorious outside agitator, seems fond of its bitter, undersized fruit.

So that will probably come down directly, along with a Siberian elm that is more than a match for my skills with a shovel and bad language. Probably have to take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

The neighbors with the little girls have partnered with another couple up the street to form a collective of sorts. Between them they have five munchkins to educate and entertain, and they share other interests as well, so it seems a great leap forward.

The gang performs a daily bicycle/scooter rodeo that relies heavily upon our steep driveway for a launching ramp, so we’re making our own small contribution. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

Elsewhere in the cul-de-sac, a four-legged neighbor went west. Daisy was a sweet old Lab who, with her cousin Gunner, served our little community as a combination of early warning system and welcome wagon.

Gunner is deaf, and a bit shy, but Daisy had been known to stride into homes like a Monty Python bobby, as if to enquire, “Wot’s all this then?” Their human has already arranged a new companion for Gunner, a black Lab pup tentatively named Henry.

Beyond our immediate ’hood, Herself the Elder’s assisted-living home has undergone a round of Bug® testing, and the all-clear has been sounded, though the lockdown remains in force.

Last Friday we delivered a load of Asian food for the joint. Pre-Bug®, Herself had been taking her mom out on Fridays for a bit of shrimp fried rice, and we decided to revive the practice as a take-out deal after Daisy and Gunnar’s person said he’d been doing something similar for his mom.

Then we thought, “Why not spread the wealth a bit?” From each according to his ability, etc. So everybody got some, including us, because I am a sucker for a six-pack of gyoza and pretty much anything else I don’t have to cook.

Speaking of wealth, when the light is right we can enjoy what the previous owner of El Rancho Pendejo called “the golden hour.” Once the day’s chores are finished we park ourselves on the back patio with frosty beverages in hand, admire our handiwork (such as it is), and hope to pan a little color from the dung as it all runs downhill.

The golden hour. “Well done, Yahweh,” as Doc Sarvis once said.

Turning up the volume

March 10, 2018

The backyard maple is springing (har) to life.

With spring on the horizon seasonal allergies have me by the snotlocker with a downhill pull. So it’s probably not smart to spend a couple hours daily pedaling briskly among the junipers.

But as you know, I will never be smart.

The start of the descent from the wilderness boundary at Pino Trail.

The bikes of choice lately have been a pair of fat-tired 29ers, the Jones Steel Diamond and Co-Motion Divide Rohloff. And I’ll concede it’s been a pleasant change to have smaller gears and bigger rubber — 2.4 and 2.1, respectively — on the dry, sandy trails.

That said, both bikes also weigh around 30 pounds with pedals, seven more elbees than either a Steelman or Voodoo, and thus there is something of a trade-off involved here. Bigger cushion, harder pushin’.

And it’s not as though these more trail-friendly setups give me mad skillz. I still can’t clean the rock garden on Trail 341, just below the wilderness boundary at the Pino Trail. And if you think I’m gonna shoulder either of these beasts to run the sucker you’re not any smarter than I am.

Still, fat tires or thin, it’s all good fun. Especially if you don’t get skunked, as an off-leash dog did the other day a little further down the trail. Would’ve been nice if the owner had mentioned it before I reached down to scratch the little stinkbomb’s ears.

Like rain falling on the city

February 17, 2018

The sky is crying.

It was gloomy around here the past couple days, and not just for the obvious reason. The weather finally turned and we got something like a half-inch of rain; a long, steady soaking.

Something seems dreadfully wrong
with this picture.

Even the normally stoic Turk grew unsettled, first spending an unusual amount of time under the bed, and then following me around like bad news.

This morning he was finally back to his routine: yowling outside the bedroom door when he’s decided that I’ve logged enough shuteye; jumping into bed for a brief cuddle; and finally nodding off as the sun crept over the Sandias.

Herself is easing back into business as usual, hitting her workout classes and fencing with the taxman, whose clammy hand is even less welcome in our pockets than usual.

Mia performs her one-cat show “Sit Like a Cat,” based on a poem from the Ted Kooser-Jim Harrison collection “Braided Creek”:

We should
sit like a cat
and wait for the door
to open.

And the unflappable Miss Mia Sopaipilla, who came to us from the same shelter that gave us Mister Boo, continues to provide some much-needed comic relief. The other day it was zazen on my drawing stool; this morning it was mortal combat with a long-forgotten toy mouse.

Me? You’d think I should be chronicling some velo-business for fun and profit, what with CABDA just concluded and Frostbike, NAHBS and 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo ongoing.

But I’m not, so maybe I’ll go for a ride instead.

• Editor’s note: Gassho and deep bows to one and all for your condolences following the passing of Mister Boo. Sifting through the piles of photos and videos depicting the sprightly young Boo of days gone by, and seeing the pleasure his presence provided beyond our own household, helped us remember the good times, bright moments that often fade under the harsher light of day-to-day caregiving.

R.I.P., Mister Boo, 2005-2018

February 15, 2018

Mister Boo at play in the fields.

The Boo has left the building. Gone ahead he has, to join Jojo, Fuerte, Bandit, Tina and Ike.

We — OK, I — occasionally joked that Mister Boo was God’s gift to veterinary medicine, and there was always a bit of an edge to it, because medical care for anyone, man, woman or dog, dollars up on the hoof right quick.

But we dug down, and paid up, because that’s what you do for family.

One tough little dude. “Where’s my dinner, bitch?”

It helped that Mister Boo was a tough little son of a bitch. You wanted to be in his corner. Abandonment, imprisonment, eye operations, bladder surgeries, patellar issues, senility, incontinence, renal dysfunction — they all knocked him down, but nothing could keep him on the canvas.

Or so it seemed.

The bum kidneys and liver were what finally rang the bell on him. They forced him to surrender his disco kibble some time ago, and he considered the prescribed renal diet a bad joke, so I cooked for him. The food was not what the doctor ordered, but it was what he liked, and we figured the auld fella was near the end of his days and entitled to eat as he pleased.

Thus I was Mister Boo’s chef. But he was never my dog.

Oh, I spent a ton of time with him, because I can do my little bit of business from home while Herself suffers from gainful employment. It was usually me who took him to his vet appointments because see previous sentence. And come mealtime I was That Man, the anonymous dude with the food.

But Herself was That Lady Who Gives Me Things. Liberation from prison; baths and walks; toys and treats; pills and potions; hugs and kisses.

In a word, love.

It was Herself who gave Mister Boo a home in the summer of 2011, when she volunteered at the Bibleburg shelter, and it was Herself who gave him peace this bleak February morning. It’s one of those chilly winter days he enjoyed so much, and I’m sad that he couldn’t be here to savor it.

The Boo and Herself enjoying a brisk walk in April 2016.

• Click the “Read the rest” link below for a memorial gallery.

(more…)

Radio Free Friday

January 19, 2018

Mister Boo still looks pretty chipper for an auld fella, unlike the other one cluttering up the joint.

When a dog yelps at 1 a.m. in the Sandia foothills it can mean someone is climbing in a window with a $2 pistol and a $200-a-day habit, or the deer are in the backyard, eating the trees.

Or, if the pooch is of a certain age, it can be the canine equivalent of the old LifeCall bit (“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”).

Mister Boo is of a certain age, and when he began yelping at 1 a.m. Thursday I was pretty sure it was neither dope fiends nor deer. He wouldn’t be able to ID either one of those, since he’s blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other.

And if it were a dope fiend, and the dope fiend brought treats, well, The Boo would have a new bestie and the rest of us would soon be chatting with the insurance company, or St. Peter.

You may recall that Herself has an actual job of work, while I do not, so as our furry air-raid siren wailed I stumbled over to the other end of the house to gauge the extent of the damage.

The Boo had peed all over his kennel’s absorbent pads, which was fine, and then toppled over into the pee, which was not.

I carried him outdoors, went back inside, replaced the soiled pads with fresh ones, filled a basin with warm soapy water, and set about freshening up our soggy doggy.

The Boo didn’t like this one little bit, being wet and cold and outdoors, and I didn’t like it either, being shirtless and shoeless, and did I mention it was cold out there?

Afterward he had the shakes and required a cuddle to warm up. I tucked him back into bed as a drowsy Herself wandered in, wondering if it was dope fiends or deer this time. Then we tucked ourselves back into bed and one of us drifted off to sleep.

Come morning I was foggy and irritable for some reason and it was a good thing I didn’t have any paying work on the docket. The Boo, of course, was just dandy. He enjoyed a delicious breakfast — ground beef, minced pasta and green beans in a sauce of apple cider and low-sodium chicken broth — and managed to pee and poop outdoors before joining the cats in morning zazen. Their posture is all wrong and their eyes are closed, but they seem to derive great benefit from these sessions nonetheless.

My mind was not at rest and it was a good thing that my friend Hal messaged me about his latest project. He has a nighttime noisemaker of his own and thought it would be a pleasant diversion to read one of his essays from “Endurance” into some device and pop it up on the Innertubes. So he had some questions about audio recording and distribution.

I am hardly an expert, but the distraction was welcome, so off we went, diving down the rabbit holes of iPads and MacBooks, microphones and headphones, QuickTime and GarageBand, Audacity and Sound Studio, Libsyn and SoundCloud.

The detour proved so absorbing that I drifted off into a side project, reviving my old Radio Free Dogpatch podcast. Well, “reviving” may be a little grandiloquent — as I said, I’m no expert, and audio is more complicated and time-consuming than writing, or even video — but I did rework a 2017 Bicycle Retailer column about The Boo into a sonic short.

And here it is:

Chile in here

December 22, 2017

I was a Sabo-Cat walking a dog this morning.

Twenty-something when we walked The Boo this brisk winter morn. Yow, wow, ow, zow, etc.

Naturally, I wore my Wobbly watch cap to keep ice off my dome. Later I plan to brew a batch of my famous green chile stew to repel any sniffles, flus, and pneumonias trolling the neighborhood for the unprepared and ill-fortified. Even Che found smashing the State a formidable task when his pipes were clogged.

Zomby Woof

December 9, 2017

“Never check your Twitter feed before breakfast,” advises the Zomby Woof.

Mister Boo IS the “Zomby Woof.” Especially before that first cup of coffee.

Barbarians at the gates

November 26, 2017

Semper felinus.

An old friend and colleague, Steve Frothingham of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, popped round for a short visit yesterday, bringing his special lady Diane and their two largish dogs.

The chair recognizes the Minister for Photography.

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) immediately declared a red alert, and he and aide-de-camp Miss Mia Sopaipilla stationed themselves at the sliding glass door leading to the back patio, both of them puffed up to Death Star size.

Mister Boo, a 4-F, conscientious objector and suspected canine sympathizer, was interned in the kitchen, where he sang “Kumbaya” softly to himself before nodding off to dream of lunch, snacks and dinner.

Once the invaders had retreated the all-clear was sounded and the commander and his staff assumed a more relaxed defense posture. That is all.