Thursday, September 30, 2010

The centerfold photo for Dog World magazine

Jinx is an extremely earnest, serious young man, but occasionally I catch him in a silly pose like this. I especially love the upside down smile.

Meg's thinking, "Yeah, whatever."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Color Trends

Black is in, I tell you. I've got a year at JC Penney under my belt, and am on my way to becoming a fashionista. So, pay attention, black is IN!
Isn't it Polly's glossy coat amazing?

Cheesecake a la Blackie

Listen, Mom, you need to take my picture, not Trudy's. I'm big, black and bee-yoo-tee-ful. No one wants to see a photo of that scrrawny, mangey mutt. They want to see a photo of me, Blackie, and my movie-star smile!

Trudy blows a photo opp

Jean: Look at Grammy now, Trudy.
Trudy: What was that?
Jean: Please look at me, Trudy girl.
Trudy: I think it was a cat parade.
Jean: Gertrude, pay attention to me!
Trudy: But it was cats! Hundreds of cats!
Jean: I just want to take a picture of your smiling face. One measly picture!
Trudy: Sorry, gotta go. I got places to go, things to do, cats to chase.

Another danger of dog ownership

I can't recall if I've mentioned before that our dogs treat me like a large chew toy. A beloved, favorite chew toy. I'm always covered with bruises and scratches, arousing the suspicion of medical professionals who have never met our dogs and are worried that Mr. P. is abusing me. I freely admit that I am terrible at discipline. I am fair skinned and have always bruised easily, only more so as I get older (and acquire more dogs). One of the more spectacular injuries resulted from the collision of Goober's cement skull with my left shin. That produced a bump the size and shape of a jumbo chicken egg, shown here. The bump has been replaced by a bruise about 4" in diameter. Thanks, Goob.

Trudy's Creeping Crud

Here's a picture of the creeping crud on Trudy's legs. No, not the white leg wearing black sandals. The black leg wearing creeping crud. Anyone care to offer a preliminary diagnosis?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good news, bad news

This has been a week of ups and downs here at 9 Dogs Howling. Mostly downs. But there is good news. Mr. P. figured out why our clothes dryer wouldn’t start (a little actuator arm broke off) and fixed it with Superglue and a popsicle stick (we do live in the South, after all), thereby saving us a $129 service charge. But there's still bad news. Trudy (Goober’s sister) now has these strange bumps, like brown moss growing in spots all over all 4 legs. I have never seen anything like it before. It could be a reaction to insect bites, but maybe not, and we don’t want it to spread to the other dogs, so she’s off to the vet on Friday. She’s not in pain or scratching at the bumps, and the other day had enough energy to steal the foam pad out of one of the cat crates and shred it all over the back yard. Let me tell you, if that ever happens to you, don’t laugh out loud. Husbands who have to clean up the mess don’t think it’s nearly as funny as their wives do!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Drunken stupor

It seemed to me that the dogs were being extra bratty today, like they took a double dose of stupid pills this morning, and I think I've figured out why.

I noticed that they keep going over to the antique sideboard that stands next to our 2nd refrigerator (the small one) and licking the floor. I wondered if they were attracted by a puddle of pee, but even Polly is too big to squat under that sideboard. I investigated. The puddle wasn't pee. It was pale pink and spreading fast around the little fridge and the sideboard. With great misgiving, I opened the fridge door. One of Mr. P's jugs of home made wine was leaking from its spigot. I fixed the spigot, mopped up the wine, and the party was over. Now the dogs are lying around in a drunken stupor, and I've got to find a way to get them outside before the puking hangovers start.

The cemetery

Today is a beautiful, mild, sunny fall day, but I woke up feeling lousy - a bad pain flare, and my pollen allergies acting up. While getting organized for the day, I took a bag of trash out to the garage and greeted the garage critters (Blackie, Smokey & Possum - don't know where Trudie and Miss Kitty were). Looking out at the back yard, I decided to walk out to our cemetery, which is at the edge of our property under a dogwood tree. Buster, Bessie Lou, and Mom are buried there. Mom's veteran's memorial plaque was still in place, but I had the most horrible feeling that she isn't there any more.

Last week I had a conversation with one of my work buddies, Alicia, about grief. Apparently Alicia's roommate can't understand why Alicia still grieves the loss of her parents, who
passed away a long time ago. He thinks she should just let go of it. I thought the same thing in the past, but now I know I was wrong. I told Alicia, "I don't think the grief ever ends."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Introducing Trudie

For about a month, we've been seeing a charcoal grey dog running loose in the neighborhood (if that's what you can call a small settlement of houses out in the farm lands). We thought it was Goober's brother.

Today, Blackie (our town crier and goodwill ambassador) brought the grey doggie up to the house with a canine letter of recommendation. Turns out it's a sister, not a brother. Much smaller, scrawnier, and mangier, but most certainly she is Goober's sister. And like Goober when he arrived here, she is sweet and needy and cuddly.
At first I thought that Mr. P. would cast her out, but apparently she had worked her charm on him and when I got home from work, he was talking baby talk to her and giving her Milk Bonz. So I named her Gertude, or Trudie for short.
And now it's 10 Dogs Howling, plus a basketful of kittens!

Slim & Trim

Possum is finished birthing the kittens, and we can hear very cute, super adorable, heart-melting mewing noises from the crate. Mr. P. forbids us from peeking at the kittens, which is a very dire pronouncement here in cute-animal land. Meanwhile, Possum is enjoying her return to her slim, trim pre-baby body.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We have kitten(s)!

Possum (the new kitty) has been very cranky for the past few days, and no wonder, with that belly full of kitten. This morning I looked her skinny hips and thought, "How are those kittens going to get out of there?"

At about 7:00 pm, Mr. Parker charged into my study saying, "You're a grandmother again!" So we went out to the garage to investigate. Possum chose the kitty crate in the most protected spot (Mr. P.'s workroom at the back of the garage) and as far as we could tell, had birthed one little kitten. It was mewing and nursing while Possum licked it. It looked like a maggot with fur.
According to Mr. P.'s Royal Proclomation, we are not to disturb Possum and her family for the next week. NO photo ops! That's OK, but I think I'll have to tiptoe out there at least once a day and make sure the family's OK. Don't tell anyone, OK?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reiki's new hobby

Money's tight, so Reiki has decided to make her own costume for her upcoming dance recital.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Personal Hygiene

Excuse me?
I have PRIVATE things to attend to here. You just throw that camera into the pasture and mind your own business, you hear?

I love ya, man!

I love ya, man! Like, I really, hey, I love ya! Not the way you're thinkin', just as a bro', ya know? Like, we can share the bones and the breaks, ya know? How about it? Ya gonna share that, bro?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Baby On Board

Possum is a skinny little girl with a bunch of babies in her belly. What's your guess? Four? Six?

She's getting cranky. It's time for those kittens to come out!

Looking Forward

Our latest feline arrival has been named Possum (or, Miss Possum) because she has a round body and a long skinny tail. She looks 1000% better now than when she first arrived. This photo captures her in a meditation about her life and her future.

Life at 9 Dogs Howling looks pretty good.

Life with all the kittens in her belly...not so good.

Excuse me?

Excuse me? We were in the middle of a Magical Moment. You can turn off that camera or I'll smash it with the hammer of my indignation. Just leave us alone!

The Reunion

As regular 9 Dogs readers will remember, Polly's One True Love was her stuffed white squirrel. Mr. Squirrel has had several incarnations (and, sad to say, gory deaths). About 2 years ago, I obtained 2 Mr. Squirrels for Polly, gave her one, stored the other, and promptly forgot where the extra squirrel was stored. Last week when I was rifling through a storage closet for a box of Epsom Salts, I found the last Mr. Squirrel, still in his plastic bag. Since the only dogs in the house at that moment were Polly, Georgie, and Patch, I felt it was safe to give Mr. Squirrel to Polly.

Patch tried to join the reunion party, but Polly only had eyes (an mouth) for Mr. Squirrel.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Polly at work

Polly is our smallest dog in physical size, but perhaps our biggest dog in terms of attitude. All of our dogs must submit to her daily inspection, with a special emphasis on detailed ear-licking and the expert removal of eye boogers. At least once a day, she moves into kick-ass mode and torments a bigger dog until they cry "Uncle!" Unfortunately, that kick-ass ritual tends to happen on top of my bare feet, in the confined space under my desk. Her favorite victim is Goober, so you can imagine my surprise to discover them cuddled up on a chair this afternoon.
As always, I ask you to ignore the dirt on that chair. We just can't keep up with the dirt. I dust and sweep every other day, but I really ought to do that twice a day.

Black licorice

I have a number of friends who are addicted to licorice. That's one kind of candy that doesn't call to me, though I will admit I've chewed my way through plenty of Twizzlers. But I do love canine licorice, like these two chewy delicious chunks.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Still here

The new kitty is still here, and looking much better. She has eaten and drunk plenty of food and water, groomed herself, napped in one of our many kitty beds (in the garage), and seems to have decided that this is a good place to stay. And why not? We're still worried about the big belly - kittens? worms? She spent much of today sitting on the door mat outside the front door, acting as if she's in charge of this joint and always has been. That infuriated the dogs almost beyond bearing. Oh well, they have to have something to protest.

But according to Mr. P., now that the heat has dropped, the outdoor dogs will no longer be allowed to roam the back yard freely at night. When they're loose, they bark, scream and holler for hours and hours. Some of us wear ear plugs, and some of us don't. Effective immediately, outdoor dogs will be confined to seg (segregation) at night, locked into their own shed where we hope their barks and howls will at least be muffled by plywood, MDF, and insulation.

Night, all!

Goober's report

Hi, it's me, Goober, reporting to you tonight from the 9 Dogs Howling Ranch. As you can see, accommodations here are comfortable and colorful. The food is plain but plentiful, and my already handsome coat is shinier than ever. This is truly a no-worry resort. You don't have to handle cash at all and the staff does not accept tips. Just play, relax, drink 9 gallons of water, piddle, eat, poop, sleep, play, relax, bark, eat, drink 11 gallons of water, poop, sleep, scream and holler, run around the yard 11 times, work on The Tunnel to China, and so on as your heart desires. My only complaint is that there are only 9 chewy bones for 9 dogs. Anybody who knows anything about dogs understands that the only bone I want is the one that another dog has. In this photo, I'm in possession of the Good Bone, but 2 minutes later, Berry had stolen it, and 2 minutes after that, Meg had stolen it, and I haven't seen it since. I've spent many weary hours (OK, maybe 16 minutes) searching for the Good Bone, but Someone has hidden it.

Goober & Jinx take a nap

Goober was not allowed on the bed in my study until very recently. That wasn't a human was a dog rule. He was quite capable of getting up onto the bed, but the other dogs told him it was off-limits so he rarely even tried. Since his neutering surgery, though, his burning need to dominate the world has cooled down and he's now allowed on the bed provided that he allows the other dogs to use him as a pillow.

Contemplating Nature

I took this photo because I wanted to capture the funny position of Teddy's rear right leg, but now the photo strikes me as the revelation of a previously-unknown aspect of his personality. Teddy is not a pioneer or a loner. He was the only puppy of the litter that did not want to explore the world outside the whelping box and cried piteously whenever we tried to set him on the floor beside the box. He loves to be with the other dogs and is rarely seen on his own...except in this photo, where he's all alone in his quiet contemplation of nature.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We're here to help you

In my 30+ year work experience, I have many times had to deal with internal auditors or accountants or financial experts whose appearance in my office sent a flaming spear of dread into my heart. As far as I know, none of those number-crunchers ever found anything bad enough to send me to prison (or the unemployment line). But I will always remember a very straight-laced but devilishly funny accountant named Scotty who would say, "Don't panic. We're from the Accounting Department, and we're here to help you."
A few days ago, I glanced into the kitchen and saw a gang of dogs supervising Mr. P. as he made his lunch, and I could vividly hear Scotty saying, "We're here to help you."

Counter Food

Until Patch and her pups arrived, we had never had a dog tall enough to steal food off the kitchen counter. Gradually we figured out that food must be set at the back of the counter. And then we discovered that SOME dogs (like Teddy) will go to extreme lengths to capture Counter Food. It doesn't matter what the food is: tomatoes, apples, peppers, thawing meat, you name it, it's all game.
Last weekend, Mr. P. set a trap on the counter: a hot pepper. He figured that its fiery taste would teach Teddy and the gang that counter food isn't always good food. At 2:00 pm on Sunday, the pepper lure was poised on the edge of the counter. At 2:05 pm, the pepper was 75%gone, with just a sprinkle of masticated flesh and seeds left on the carpet. No one seemed to be the worse for wear. So much for THAT experiment.

The new arrival

We moved to Tennessee because I got the job of a lifetime here, but I didn't stay at that job for very long and lately I've been thinking that God sent us here to take care of unwanted animals. Like our newest arrival, a scrawny kitty with a swollen belly (either she's a pregnant female, or a kitty with something bad going on in there) and skinny, matted legs and tail. At first there was some growling and hissing because the Resident Cats (Miss Kitty and Smoky) objected to the new arrival and the New Arrival objected to the unfriendly welcome. After everyone had some kibble and water, things were much more peaceful, and the New Arrival settled down to nap on a chair in Mr. P.'s garage work room.