Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What's your problem?

What's your problem?

Do you not understand the importance of feeding biscuits to pugs?

Who cares what the vet says about avoiding overfeeding of pugs? Just because she said I'm beautiful and shiny and sleek doesn't mean I don't need a biscuit. I need a biscuit NOW (stamping her tiny feet). GET WITH IT, MOM! Don't you know that biscuits make my tail curl? Do you want a pug with a straight tail? Do you want a starving, traumatized pug? Do you want me to start barking hysterically and wake up all the other dogs? Do you? Because I'm fully prepared to do that...just give me a biscuit now, and nobody gets hurt. Understand?

Where's My Teddy Bear?

I had a dream, Mom.

I was dreaming. I was dreaming that I was the only dog.

It was so nice, for a while. But then I was so lonely.
Where's my Grammy?
Where's my Teddy Bear?
Where's my biscuit?
Is this my front end, or my rear end?
What time of day is this?
Is it supper time yet?
Is it sleeptime yet?
Can I have a hug?

All arms and legs

When I was growing up as a short, chubby girl, people told me I'd grow out of the baby fat. People exclaimed that their own 13-year old daughters were "all arms and legs". As far as I could tell, my body was shaped like a donut with a head and little stubs for hands and feet. Now that Jinx is in my life, though, I finally understand what the "all arms and legs" thing is about. It's about Jinx.
His arms and legs do actually fold at the joints, but you'd never know it to look at this picture.

Girly Girls

I keep trying to capture Polly and Meg together in a photo, because I'm dying to write a conversation between them in which Polly assures Meg that she looks JUST LIKE Hannah Montana, and so on and so forth. But I keep getting shots like this.

And the conversation goes like this:

Polly: Mom! Meg stole my nylabone, AGAIN!

Jean: Polly, you know perfectly well the nylabone belongs to everyone.
Polly: But it's worn down to a tiny nub. It's just my size now.
Jean: Meg, would you please share the nylabone with Polly?
Meg: Who was that at the front door? Was that the UPS man, or was that Miley Cyrus?
Polly: It was Miley! I swear, it was Miley. You'd better go look, right now. I'll take care of the nylabone while you go check, OK?
Meg: Naw, it was the UPS guy, and it wasn't my Victoria's Secret order, either.
Polly (stamping her tiny feet): Hmmph!

A Peaceable Kingdom, Part XXIV-ii23b

In our peaceable kingdom, the lamb lies down with the lion. Er, no. The lion lies down with the lamb. No, that's not it. I've got it! The lamb lies down with the lamb.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Grinch?

A visitor who would prefer to remain anonymous, but who I recognize nonetheless, pointed out that a Schnauzer dressed as Santa is a travesty because Schnauzers are actually Grinches. After some diligent research (that took me about 35 seconds), I have decided that this visitor is absolutely right. I think it's all in the eyebrow action. To get the defiant hands-on-hips-Grinch look, we would need a photo of Fritz's brother, Ziggy. Maybe Fritz & Ziggy's mom would oblige...

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Job Interview

I can't reprint it without copyright violation, but I think I can safely tell you about the hilarious Peter Steiner cartoon I found in my 2010 The New Yorker Dogs appointment calendar.

A balding man in a suit sits in an armchair before a fire in a lushly-appointed office. His arms and legs are crossed as he looks down and addresses the dog sitting on the carpet before him. He says, "I've told you why I need a dog. Now suppose you tell me what makes you think you might be that dog."

It reminded me of several job interviews I've had, during which I, as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as the cartoon dog, delivered monologues about what made me perfect for the job. I couldn't help imagining how one of our dogs would fare in an interview like that, so I interviewed Teddy. I will apologize in advance if I offend anybody of Eskimo or Inuit origins.

Jean: I've told you why I need an indoor dog. What makes you think you might be that dog?

Teddy: Because I'm really cute and I deserve it.

Jean: Even after you chewed the wooden base of that chair while you were waiting for this interview?

Teddy: I wouldn't have had to do that if you kept a few issues of Highlights for Puppies in your waiting room.

Jean: So you can read?

Teddy: Well, no, but I also like to chew magazines and books. It's a form of recycling, you know. And it's roughage. Everybody knows fiber is good for you. Keeps the old pooper working.

Jean: We need more poop like the Eskimos need more ice.

Teddy: I understand you have an expert pooper scooper on staff here. It's one of the things that drew me here. I'm very interested in an apprenticeship in that area.

Jean: Let me see if Mr. Georgie is available to interview you. Perhaps you could demonstrate your current skill set for him.

Teddy: No problem! I can also provide references - hmmm, where did I put that piece of paper? (he coughs up a paper spit-ball)

Jean: Spitting on the premises is strictly forbidden.

Teddy: So sorry. It won't happen again. For at least 5 minutes. Maybe 10.
Jean: Miss Meg, will you please page Mr. Georgie to the conference room?

Friday, December 25, 2009


Smoky writes:

I admit, wasn't too sure about her at first. I thought maybe she was something to eat, like a mouse or a mole. And she was so pushy, grabbing all that attention, getting fed canned kitten food. No one ever fed me canned kitten food. And she stole my catnip mouse. And she sits on top of the tractor and jumps on me when I walk by. But I guess she's kind of growing on me now. Like a wart.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from a West Coast Correspondent

Fritz writes:

Merry freaking Christmas, Auntie Jean. Why do I have to wear a stupid Santa hat? If I wear it in front like this, can I get it filled with treats like a trick-or-treat bag? Please tell Mom to stop dressing me in stupid outfits. Does she think I'm a baby doll or something? What if my friends see me wearing this? Harley is laughing at me!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday!

Looking at the porkers - excuse me, I mean puppies - now (at about 50 lbs each), it's hard to believe they were born only one year ago today weighing a little under 14 ounces each. And it's hard to grasp how much our lives have changed since then.
When it came time for their birthday party today, they were too pooped from a long day of playing to do much partying. Only Polly stayed alert, waiting for the birthday cake. Meg was inexplicably traumatized by the party hat I made for her and had to lie down with a cool cloth on her forehead and be fed red M&M's one by one. The party broke up when Georgie went outside to look for fudgsicles (which he found, judging by his breath) and Patch loudly announced that a herd of dragons had invaded the back yard. Everyone trooped out to investigate. The party was over. And so Year Two at 9 Dogs Howling begins...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Polly's Wish List

Polly: Why did you wake me up? I was so comfy. I was dreaming that Patch and I were sunbathing on a beach in the Caribbean, wearing our pink polka dot bikinis.

Jean: Sorry to disturb you, but have you finished your Christmas wish list yet?

Patch (thinking): I already got my wish. I'm an indoor dog now!

Polly: I want the pink Disney pajamas with the magic wand that you saw at JC Penney. And a pink ipod. And a pink laptop. And DVDs of Benji, Lassie Come Home, Babe, Flashdance, My Fair Lady, and Pretty Woman. And a pink collar with rhinestones on it. And a pink down jacket with fur trim and matching boots. Ten pounds of chocolate-covered Milk Bonz. A Magnum of pink champagne. A round-trip ticket (first class) to St. Lucia. A pink villa in Spain, preferably Majorca. Pink Jimmy Choo shoes. My own Visa card. A pink convertible Mustang. Pink Prada sunglasses, and pink...

Jean: OK, OK, that's enough.

Polly: But I'm not done yet!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Where to keep the wastebasket when you have 7 dogs

The drawback is that I'm only 5'2" tall and can hardly reach the wastebasket. But neither can the dogs. Yet.



Definition: rest, sleep, calm, peace.

Illustration: see above


This weekend Mr. P. decided to recycle an old sleeping bag into bedding for our outdoor critters, but before he could tackle the project, Georgie and Teddy decided to go camping. All that hiking, fishing and hunting really wore them out, so they were glad to have that sleeping bag with them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Letter From Heaven

Grief lurks around the corner and ambushes me when I least expect it - when I'm driving to work, or straightening a nightgown display for the 10,000th time, or think of something funny to share with Mom. My friend Terri pointed out that Mom is in heaven now, happy with her friends, family and dogs, waiting for the rest of us to get there some day. This morning I imagined her writing me this letter:
Dear Jeannie,
I thought getting here would be harder than driving from Waltham to Gloucester on Route 128 on a Friday afternoon, but it was a snap. Please don't worry about me any more. I am no longer confused and afraid. I got to hug your grandmother, who in heaven has all of her good qualities and none of her tiresome ones, and I'm finally with my beloved dad after missing him so for over 60 years. I see my dear friends (Quimby, Dorothy Bailey Smith, and others you never had the fortune to meet) every day. It would be just perfect if only Aunt Betty Lyons were here too, but it's not time yet for that.
I haven't seen your father yet (which is probably just as well). It's entirely possible he's not here at all, but don't tell anyone I said that. All the dogs are with me, Dinty Moore and Calaban and Stratford and Hildy and Peanuts, and Peaches and Buster and Bessy too. I've had wonderful conversations with Dorothy Parker and James Thurber, who are even more entertaining in person than they are on the printed page.
Be sure to tell my sister I'm saving a seat for her on the train to Patten. Mother will pack us a huge hamper of wonderful food for the trip, and none of it will be fattening.
I know it was hard for you, but you did a good job with my memorial service, Jeannie. You are and always have been the light of my life. I still have more to teach you, but that will come in its own time.
I want you to know that I'm with you every day.
I have to run now. I have a meeting with God about the illiteracy problem in 5 minutes.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Memorial Service - without dogs

It's very cold today, and I didn't feel equal to handling the dogs in the ever-so-rare event of misbehavior, so we had Mom's funeral service without dogs (although Father Brooks did mention them during the service). There were 11 of us in the chapel and the service was lovely. Father Brooks has a beautiful singing voice and in honor of Mom's military career, he sang the Navy hymn:

Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid'st the mighty Ocean deepIts own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,for those in peril on the sea.
O Christ, the Lord of hill and plain

O'er which our traffic runs amain,
by mountain pass or valley low,
Wherever Lord thy brethren go;
Protect them by Thy guardian hand
From every peril on the land.
O Spirit, Whom the Father send

To spread abroad the Firmament;
O wind of heaven, by Thy Might,
Save all who dare the eagle's flight;
And keep them by Thy watchful care
From every peril in the air.
O Trinity of love and power!

Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe'er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee,
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.