Category Archives: sophie

The Perils of Doggie Bath Day

“Someone smells like a dog.”

“Why are you looking at me?”


Our dogs are pretty clean, overall. They don’t have many chances to get dirty, although in our old house Sophie managed to find stinkbugs in the basement with alarming regularity. She’s smart, though, and soon made the connection between rolling in the latest Eau de Canine perfume and going straight into the tub, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Our philosophy behind having clean dogs is pretty simple. We like petting them without getting grime on our hands, and we prefer that the house not smell like dogs.

So today was Doggie Bath Day. As soon as I said the word “bath,” Sophie went stone-still and tried to melt into the couch. She knows what that word means – she can even spell it – and she wants no parts of it.

Shiloh followed me right upstairs and into the bathroom, because he doesn’t know what ANY words mean. He watched me hook up the spray hose to the shower head. He observed me getting out a stack of towels. Being a good sport with a bad memory, he even jumped into the tub, wagging his tail.

He endured the first round of water and soap with equanimity. “Hmmm,” I could see him thinking, weighing his options as I lathered up his back. “This doesn’t seem TOO bad. It’s kind of like getting petted, only with bubbles. Odd but strangely compelling.”


When I moved on to his head and neck, however, the situation deteriorated rapidly. He went from gentle and amiable to panic-stricken in seconds, even though – and here’s the interesting part – nothing unusual happened. I did not spray gallons of water directly into his eyes or ears. I failed to squirt dog shampoo up his nose. We were not suddenly menaced by a gigantic wall of water. There was no gelatinous ooze monster with teeth like razor blades emerging  from the drain. 

“Good boy, Shiloh! Good, good boy. That’s right, you’re a good HEY STOP! NO! STAY IN THE TUB! No no no no Shiloh what are you OUCH! NO! NO CLIMBING ON MY HEAD! COME ON, BOY, GOOD DOG AIIIIGGGGHHHHHH!”

Afterwards, I dried him off, mildly stunned. He even gave me his paws, probably out of sheer embarrassment. I squelched downstairs, dripping, to inform my husband that he was on deck to wash Sophie. I was done.

There were two spots – one on my shoulder, one on the side of my shorts – that weren’t soaked. Muscles I didn’t even know I had ached from keeping Shiloh in the tub. In direct defiance of basic anatomy, I somehow got water in my spleen.

Doggie bath time isn’t fun for ANYONE.

Sure, there are local places that wash dogs, but Shiloh hates them. Despite the attentions of caring, gentle staff who genuinely love dogs, he struggles and wheezes and sounds like Darth Dog to the point that even Sophie feels sorry for him. Last time we took him, she toddled into the washing area and laid down on the rubber floor mat in a surprising show of solidarity.

It didn’t help, of course, but it was still cute.


So I’ll wash Shiloh at the house, and he’ll remember halfway through every bath that he hates getting baths, and I’ll get soaked, and he’ll get embarrassed. And Sophie will hope against hope that Shiloh continues to go first, and that we’ll somehow be distracted into forgetting that we have two dogs. At least as far as bath-time is concerned. Dinner time? That’s a whole different story.

And we’ll ALL keep our eyes open for a gelatinous ooze monster with teeth like razor blades emerging from ANY drain.

You know, just in case.



Filed under dogs, humor, laughter, Shiloh, sophie, Uncategorized, writing

Shiloh Happened

I’d meant to write an AMAZING end-of-the-year post, reflecting on my successes and failures of the past year while promising to do better in the next. Blah blah blah. You know the drill. Earth-shattering insights! Insanely simple yet profound suggestions!

And then, Shiloh happened.

261835_4382759214598_1064910113_nFor those of you who don’t know, Shiloh, Mischief Dog joined our family in April. He’s a rescue dog, somewhere between eight and ten (depending on which paperwork you believe). He spent most of his life chained to a doghouse outside in the mountains. After some initial setbacks that resulted in the death of all floor-based houseplants and new blinds for every window the living room, he settled in admirably.

The fact that you never really know what he’ll get into next adds an element of adventure to day-to-day life. He’s shredded toys (both his and Sophie the Wonder Dog’s), slippers, a paperback, two audiobook cases, tissue paper, cards and several bags. He’s eaten a stick of butter, a pound and a half of homemade Chex mix and a bag of gummy bears (including the bag).

One evening we returned home, opened the front door and were hit with the unmistakable and overwhelming smell of coffee. Shiloh discovered sealed bags of whole beans stored in a box stacked in a corner of the laundry room.

To clarify, the bags were not sitting out in plain view on a counter covered with bacon grease.

Evidence suggests that he enjoyed chewing through the box AND all three bags, cheerfully spreading the beans from one side of the living room to the other with the bulk of concentration focused damningly on his dog bed. Based on the fact that close to half a pound of it was missing, his personal favorite blend appeared to be Pumpkin Spice.


Panicked, we called the vet. Meanwhile, Shiloh looked hugely uncomfortable, opened his mouth and out shot a stream of partially chewed coffee beans. This was good news – as long as he was throwing up on his own, no further treatment was necessary. That dog vomited coffee beans for HOURS, proving that his body is far smarter than his mind and stomach. I am certain that the laws of physics were broken that night, because WAY more beans came out than went in.

He seems to have learned his lesson, though. “Shiloh, what’s this?” accompanied by the shake of a bag of coffee now sends him slinking into the next room, eyes averted.

After starting to write the end of year post the other day, I innocently left the house for two hours. Two. Hours.

I returned to Plush Toy Armageddon. Christmas was just days before. Both dogs enjoyed the kind of attention that comes from being the Wonder Dog and the Mischief Dog, respectively. Shiloh received several “indestructible” toys with multiple squeakers.



I’d like to think they went quickly; the plush snake, the adorable alligator, the blue thing that I-don’t-know-what-it-was. Sophie’s duck and bear were collateral damage, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The cookies – a gift from our neighbors – were stalked with the consummate skill of a dog smart enough to casually notice a pattern just before the appearance of the magical peanut butter cookies. I have no idea what he was trying to do with the sugar cookie mix, but he seemed to enjoy prancing through it after destroying the bag. His whiskers were coated in flour.

I stood there in the last light of day, stunned speechless. I dropped everything, sat on the steps and called my husband.

“You won’t believe what Shiloh did.”
“Bet I will.” He’s right – my husband has come home to this scene several times and counting.
As I described the sheer magnitude – the duck’s little foot was torn off, there were easily eighteen squeakers out and stuffing EVERYWHERE – he stopped me. “He ate the cookies?”
“There were chocolate chips in there. And I think macadamia nuts.”
“Yes, but he’s eaten COFFEE BEANS before. I think he’ll be okay.” I offered this last part with a doubtful edge to my voice. “Okay, I’ll call the vet.”

I called our vet and explained the situation.
“Macadamia nuts? Those are toxic. You need to induce vomiting.”
“I’m sorry, I need to what?”
“Induce vomiting. Pour small amounts of hydrogen peroxide down his throat until he starts throwing up.”
“You’ve got to be kidding. He’ll barely let us give him a bath. It takes FIVE of you to hold him down to trim his nails. I’m supposed to get peroxide down his throat?!”
“If he ate macadamia nuts? Yes.”

I hung up, thought for a minute, and picked up the phone.

“Hey there! Thanks so much for the cookies – we really enjoyed them. Quick question though – were there macadamia nuts in any of them? No? Thank goodness. Why? Um, well, we thought there might’ve been some in the remaining cookies, which Shiloh helped himself to while we were out. And it seems macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. Hahaha, that crazy Shiloh. Now I won’t have to induce vomiting, which is a relief all around, let me tell you. Haha. Yep. Well you have a Happy New Year!”

Our neighbors are good sports, but this might have been too much information even for them.

549093_4143832041568_2045243554_nSo I cleaned (pro-tip: use a shop vac for flour), and Shiloh skulked, and Sophie remained hidden until the coast was clear. An hour later, I was relaxing on the couch and Shiloh crept up, curled into a tiny ball and was snoring within minutes.

430370_4224646301874_1199647589_nI admire his resilience. He hasn’t had the easiest life, this dog. He shies around strangers, and gets a little jumpy sometimes. He hates having his paws touched. He didn’t lay down in our line of sight for the first week we had him. He didn’t know what a toy was or how to play with one. He’d never seen a rawhide.

And yet, just months later, he’s settled in. He barks at the vacuum and paper-shredder and blender.  He follows me everywhere.  You can almost feel Sophie rolling her eyes at his exploits from time to time – when he runs into walls, for example, or stands in the middle of a room staring at nothing. For hours. Or when we find him gleefully shredding another toy, crazy tail wagging away.  He adores Sophie, though, and so they get along well. He is kind and gentle (unless you are a squeaky toy), and a very welcome addition to our home.

So that’s what happened to my epic end-of-year post: Shiloh. And honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy New Year everyone! 

And thanks, as always, for reading.


December 30, 2012 · 5:17 pm

Gran’s 96th Birthday

“All ready for Monday?”
“Yes, except I don’t know what we’re doing.”
“That’s because it’s a surprise. You know how to dress. You know when you’re getting picked up, right?”
“Yes, but…you’re not going to tell me, are you?”


My grandma is pretty amazing. She’s turning 96 on Monday, and she’s still feisty as ever.

Raggedy Ouch

When I was little, she made me incredibly gorgeous Halloween costumes. By hand. Holly Hobbie, the Pink Panther, a dalmatian.  She even turned me into Raggedy Anne one year, complete with hand-looped red yarn wig, a dress and an apron.  She couldn’t find white and red striped tights, though, so she put me in white tights and used red electricians tape to make the rings (my mother later confessed that this was her idea). About five minutes into our evening of trick-or-treating she noticed I wasn’t keeping up. Then I asked to be carried. She cajoled and fussed and finally picked me up and carried me from house to house, grimly determined that we finish at least one street. When we returned home, she discovered why I hadn’t wanted to walk: she’d taped the loops around my legs so tightly that I couldn’t bend them.

She laughs whenever she tells that story. Which tells you everything you need to know about gran, really. She’s never taken herself too seriously. Admits when she makes mistakes. And she’s always had a great sense of humor.


“Do you mind if I post some pictures, gran?”
“As long as it’s not the one from the pirate bar last weekend.”



Playing Yahtzee is a tradition with gran. She has a special dice cup made of cedar purchased as a souvenir on a long-ago family trip. Really that makes all the difference, hearing the little cubes rattle with a hollow wooden sound before they spill out on the table (and often over the edge). She can still beat me 9 out of every 10 games, and will routinely get 3 Yahtzees in a row.  You might think she HAS to be cheating, but she isn’t: she saves that for Scattergories.

The Age Card

Gran has been playing the “age card” since she was in her 60s, so whenever it comes out the initial reaction is typically an eye roll.  She didn’t act 60, or 70, or 80.  She doesn’t act 96, either.

“Do they have Early Boarding for this flight?”
“I dunno. You want me to ask? Why do we need early boarding?”
“Because I’m old. Tell them I can’t see.”

So I asked the gate attendant and she was happy to let gran board early. We lined up to the side, gran trying unsuccessfully to look feeble. When we finally boarded and were seated, I turned to her and said, “You know, the whole ‘Gran can’t see’ thing might work better next time if you’re not carrying your book.”

She grinned, completely unabashed.


“Gran, we’d like to take you out for Mother’s Day. Would you prefer to go to Tersiguel’s or O’Leary’s?”
“O’Leary’s. I don’t think the other would be appropriate at all.”
“Why not? Tersiguel’s is amazing – the food is exceptional, and the atmosphere is lovely.”
“What’s it called again?”
“Oh, I thought you said Testicles.”
“Gran, why would we take you to a place called Testicles for Mother’s Day?”
“I have no idea. I never know what to expect with you.”


It’s 12 O’Clock Somewhere

The day we got married was pretty rainy. The place, which was supposed to be finished, wasn’t, so there were elements of danger everywhere (because simply getting married isn’t stressful enough). The paths to and from the bridal house, for example, were sheets of plastic tarp held down by roof tiles – basically a slip-n-slide waiting to happen.  The grans were being escorted to the photo staging area following the ceremony, and you can probably guess which one was wearing 2-inch gold heels.  The way our friend tells the story, someone announced, “There’s champagne in the bridal house!” and both grans threw off the helping hands of their escorts and starting doing cartwheels and handsprings across the slick plastic and sprinting to be first in line.

Because that’s how my family rolls. They’ve ALWAYS been festive and loved gatherings and having fun. And gran is no exception.


We went to River Country in Orlando one year, and it happened to correspond with a shuttle launch. Mom, dad and I went on the inner tube ride. As we flew off the final slide, we could see gran waving from a bridge overlooking the lagoon. She was smiling and taking pictures. Meanwhile, we could see the shuttle climbing in the sky behind her.  We yelled and gestured, “Turn around, gran! Look! Look! The shuttle!” and she kept waving and laughing. Knowing gran, even if she had turned to take a photo of the launch, she would’ve cut its head off.


“Never in my life did I think I’d see a dog welcomed up on MY couch.”



Gran has never really been a fan of dogs, but Sophie The Wonder Dog is different. Once, when gran spent the night, she slept downstairs on the couch. Sophie spent the night downstairs, too, laying on the other couch. Whenever gran would wake up during the night, she’d glance over to see Sophie silently watching over her, and fall back to sleep, strangely reassured.  Ever since then, gran has spoiled Sophie dog to the point where I’ve had to say, “Okay, gran. You can EITHER call Sophie ‘Lardy’ OR you can give her a thousand treats. You cannot, in good conscience, do both.”

Life and How to Live it

Gran hasn’t had an easy life. She’s known hardship, and challenges, and sadness. She’s also known adventure, and great times, and joy.

She’s quite remarkable, really, and I count my blessings every single day that I’ve been fortunate enough to have her in my life for so long.  She’s taught me – through example – about patience, and strength, and resilience, and joy.  And laughter. And cooking. And unconditional love. Really, she’s taught me a lot about life and how to live it. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

I love you, gran! Happy birthday!

Gran in Oregon in 1945.

Gran in Maryland in 2011 – last year’s birthday celebration.


Filed under family, sophie, writing

Doggie Dreams and Stranger Things

So I am on to the Flickr exercise. Naturally I searched under “dog” and found this gorgeous image called “Dog Dreams.”

I am trying to figure out this Creative Commons agreement. . . it says that I can use the image if I attribute it, “. . . in the manner specified by the author.” Trouble is, I can’t figure out how the author would like to be attributed. So I’ll go ahead and say that this picture was taken by Flickr member bobmarley753 and hope that it is enough.

It received a number of positive comments from other Flickr members. I also learned that there is a FlickrEnvy group (by invitation only!) for outstanding photos, but somehow I suspect that I won’t be invited into that group any time soon. Hahahaha!

I went on to try theFlickr mashup exercise and created this little gem:

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Filed under dogs, sophie