Life With (Bad) Dogs

jack-and-sasha-competitionI have two rescue dogs. You’ve met Jack, my neurotic and stunningly gorgeous Chow mix, who prances more than walks and has been known to do things like bolt through my front window in terror over fireworks (a double-paned mullioned picture window on a bitterly cold New Year’s Eve). Jack is six, and stars as Alvin in The Lost Recipe for Happiness. 


Today, Sasha takes center stage. Sasha, also known as the pirate dog, was baking in the white hot summer sun in front of Safeway almost fifteen years ago.  Some kind of midsize terrier mutt, a three ring circus of a dog from that day to this.  These days, she’s stone deaf and half blind and it doesn’t matter in the slightest. She walks a mile and a half on hills every day, and hourly makes her tour of interior perimeter of the house to be sure that no food has fallen on the floor since her last trip, and while Jack snuffles along animal trails in the parks, Sasha’s great joy is finding mouldering pototo chips or maybe a half-eaten candy bar caked with dirt! She’s the greatest scavenger known to canines. 


Lately, I’ve been trying to remind myself that dogs don’t live as long as humans, and a dog this size aged 15 is probably about 85 in dog years. She has lumps and bumps all over, and the last time I took her to the vet they said not to bother with one of the vaccines. You brace yourself as well as possible, but is any of us ever really ready?  I thought she was done for last winter, when she and Jack had a fight over cat food (from which she emerged bloodied but victorious) and they had to put her under to check her eye.  She was fine.


But there it is, her ancientness, looming.


Just before Christmas, I was making cookies. I put a tray in the oven, then went around the corner, maybe 15 feet away, to hang a few more ornaments on the tree.  I heard a funny noise and ran back into the kitchen, and there was Sasha, sprawled flat on her belly, limbs sprawled wide.  She was having a seizure, her whole body twitching and convulsing, and I fell on the floor next to her.  Unsure of what I should do, I just put my hands on her, talking soothingly, telling her I loved her, and I put my hands on her sides to see if that would make her stop twitching, or at least make her feel less afraid. “I’m here, baby,” I said, “I’m here.”

When I lifted her slightly, it must have given her body a little help, because she suddenly heaved and coughed, and out of her mouth flew out a perfectly round ball of butter.   She’d stolen a whole stick off the counter and tried to get outside with it, but before she could make her getaway, the stick melted in her mouth, and settled in her throat, quite efficiently choking her.  When it landed on the floor, she scrambled as fast as she could to grab it again, but I was faster and nabbed it out of reach.  


She leapt up after it, and when she saw she had lost, her only expression was, “Curses! I almost made it.”

Nothing in life makes me laugh harder than dogs.  Do you have a pirate dog? A scavenger? A neurotic beauty? Tell me a dog story!


12 thoughts on “Life With (Bad) Dogs

  1. Von

    Hee! My cocker spaniel, Kermit, is also a rescue dog. Having been stray, he would probably place right behind Sasha in the “must find food anywhere” department–the vet’s assistant started calling him a Hoover Dog, after the umpteenth time I brought him in or called and said, “How worried should I be that Kermit just ate spackle / aluminum foil / a pillowcase?”

    Because Kermit doesn’t just like edible things (although those are, of course, the best) He likes to eat anything that smells like the people he loves. Socks and underwear are a particular delight, if he can somehow get to them before their washed. But he also ate my dad’s hearing aids, once (thank GOODNESS they were insured). And this weekend, Kermit ate my iPod Nano.

    Actually, he didn’t eat the iPod itself. But after I made the stupid mistake of lazily leaving it on the coffee table (Kermit checks the coffee table on a regular basis), he apparently found it and ate the entire lanyard, most of the leather case, and was gnawing on the mp3 player itself when I caught him.

    Then yesterday? He ate a half can of salted almonds. After opening them himself. I never thought he’d want almonds, of all things. Clearly I am in denial about my dog’s culinary abilities.

  2. Barb

    We have a West Highland Terrier who prances around the house and yard (we call it “The Westie Walk” – if you have a Westie, you know what I mean) like he pays the mortgage. He has quite an attitude.

    The funniest thing he does: At night after dark, especially in the summer, he “gazelles” around the yard. He literally hops around the yard with all four feet leaving the ground at once. He takes no steps in between each hop – it’s like he’s on a pogo stick. He gets about 2 – 3 feet off the ground when he does this. It’s one of the strangest things we’ve ever seen. We had a dog sitter who actually called her friends over to watch him while he was doing it. Our vet says he’s never heard of another Westie doing anything like this. It’s one of the funniest things we’ve ever seen and it never ceases to amaze us when he does it. We’ll really have to video-tape it sometime.

  3. Erin Scoggins

    Poor Sasha.

    My Bailey, a chocolate Lab, is a pirate, too. She’s got a stomach of steel and has eaten everything, including tin cans, live birds (in mid-air!),a wallet full of cash, and a bag of coffee beans. Our back yard smelled like a Starbucks for a week after that one.

    My favorite, though, was when she learned to open the pantry door. One night I came out to find her running frantically back and forth between her water bowl and the closet, a big brown blur of puppy enthusiasm.

    Upon closer inspection I realized that she had found an unopened bag of flour and helped herself. When her mouth got dry, she drank some water. Then she ate more flour. And drank more water. Eventually she pasted her mouth shut.

    It’s one of my favorite memories of her, sitting on the kitchen floor, looking like a chocolate cupcake with a goofy grin permanently pasted on her beautiful face.

  4. These are so funny. Alas, I only have a rescue kitty! But she is a weird one — definitely a neurotic beauty. She is adorable 22 hours of the day, but from about 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., she stalks me, and if she can get away with it, she takes a hunk out of my leg. We can’t figure it out, other than thinking she’s jealous of me or my husband and doesn’t like it when I’m headed to the bed. One Christmas I put a letter from her in his stocking — she asked him to please get rid of the other woman. 🙂

  5. OMG, Sasha! Having a seizure then still going after the culprit.

    God, I do miss having puppies. I grew up with German Shepherds all around, usually 4 at one time, and I love them, but I think if I have the opportunity, I’ll get myself a Westie (love the attitudes) AND a Bernese Mountain dog (love the solidness). Lots of funny stories, but the best was when we had a bull terrier (pragmatically called Bully–my mother’s really bad at naming animals, she called one of our blue-point Siamese Blue Boy) who used to fart during car rides then he’d stick HIS head out the window and leave us all gagging with the aftermath.

  6. Barbara

    These stories are absolutely wonderful! Nothing like sitting at the computer, giggling away.

    Cat stories are definitely welcome, Julie. I have weird cats, too.

  7. I have two dogs and a cat. The cat is about 11, old and crabby and only likes me, tolerates the dogs, and the feeling is mutual. He does enjoy hacking up an occasional pile of I don’t know exactly what, leaving it for me to discover at random times, hopefully with my eyes and not my feet.

    Both dogs enjoy chasing after and barking and screeching at the many squirrels and occasional possum that visit our back yard.

    One dog is a border collie mix mutt, sweet, mellow and a little shy (and skittish of sudden movement or loud noise) and very obedient 90% of the time, though he does think he’s a lap dog sometimes and 40 pounds is a bit big for that, and now and again he feels the need to bark at and chase away the cat, as though he’d forgotten we had one and had fallen down on his job of keeping the cat under control. He does NOT like wet or cold, and really would just as soon be in the house as out, and sheds unbelievable amounts of his double coat (white) into tufts that drift around the house and could form yet a third pet. We get him clipped short twice a year, which makes him look as though he has lost about 15 pounds – he’s much prettier with the full coat, but the shedding is unbelievable.

    The other dog is a Dorkie – dachshund/Yorkie mix. SHE is the queen of the house most of the time – aggressive, energetic, hilarious, only moderately obedient, terribly affectionate, and full of personality. She is a hunter, true to her doggie roots. She has caught and/or killed a variety of small creatures, bringing some in the house. Ew. Once I heard a crunching sound, and assumed she’d gotten a water bottle lid. Went to investigate and saw a small animal which I assumed was a mouse or rat, but when I chased her away and got some paper towels with which to pick it up, I discovered to my dismay that it was in fact a baby possum, about the size of a large rat. When I picked it up, it was still . . . pliable (ew) and warm (ew ew). I put it in the trash and locked the lid. Later that night, I got out of bed to pee, and saw something on the floor in the dim light. I thought it was a leaf, but something urged me to get a tissue to pick it up in case it was something vile. It happened to be . . . a tiny POSSUM PAW, claws and all. Heh. Apparently that was the crunching sound I had heard earlier. I had to laugh thinking how I might have reacted had I picked it up with my bare hand in the night. Double ew. She has also brought in a bird, not sure if she found it or killed it. And most recently, after many valiant attempts involving much barking and carrying on, she actually managed to CATCH a squirrel. I saw out the window that she and the boy dog had it cornered between them, and next thing I know she had it in her mouth, shaking it violently (it was about a third of her size), and it was SQUEAKING like a dog toy. I called my son to help me get it from her, chased her away from it with a broom and had to hold her back while he scooped it up into a trash bag. Because she is low to the ground, if it is wet at all outside, her undercarriage and feet will be wet and muddy. And she would live outside more than not if she had the choice.

    Two very different dogs, but they are pals and seem to love each other very much. The small one bosses the big one, and it’s pretty funny to watch. And now and then, when the stars are aligned, I will find all three animals peacefully sleeping on my bed together. They are my companions, my posse that follow me all over the house, and greet me with joy when I come home (well, not the cat, but he does occasionally glance up and acknowledge me . . .)

  8. I’ve always been a cat person, but if I could clone Gail’s border collie mix, I would have a dog. I LOVE Jason. He’s my favorite dog. He’s the only dog I’ve ever been around who really seems to understand personal space, which is the thing I struggle with most around dogs. (I know, I know, that’s what many of you love about them!!! But we are who we are, right? I was terrified of dogs as a child and I’ve progressed … some.) He is so sweet, and has the perpetual look of a puppy as he cocks his head and waits patiently to be invited.

  9. “ and again he feels the need to bark at and chase away the cat, as though he’d forgotten we had one and had fallen down on his job of keeping the cat under control…”

    LOL, Gail. I can just see this.

    And Julie, border collies are just terrific dogs all the way around. He sounds especially great.

  10. Yvonne Erwin

    I had a bad dog the other night.

    Maybe. The jury is sort of out on this one.

    It so happened, that Ken, my significant other, laid some Wheat Thin crackers down on the coffee table while he went back to the kitchen to get something. Bad move.

    I believe, if you leave something in open view, within reach of said doggie, don’t get too excited when doggie chomps, which my doggie did.

    Sunny was so delicate about it though. She just took one cracker off that table. One.

    But she got in big trouble with the mister. I realize it’s all about teaching them manners and who’s the boss and so on and so forth but she only took one cracker.

    Is that so bad?

  11. Laura M.

    had a great dog. His name was Luci and he was a pure bread German Shepard.

    He was so smart he could add and subtract. Luci was always there by my side and was a great listener. I could tell him anything and he wouldn’t tell a soul. He would make me laugh at the things he did and always knew when I was upset. No matter what he loved me and was always there for me.

    One day he started urinating blood and the vet kept saying it was a urinary tract infection. She put on antibiotic after antibiotic.

    It got to the point where the medicine was messing with his stomach and he didn’t want to eat anything. I tried everything. I sat on the floor with him trying to spoon feed him baby food, but still…It got to the point where you could feel each and every rib. He wouldn’t walk let alone go to the bathroom.

    On night after work my dad called and said I need to get to the vets office asap because Luci wasn’t doing good at all. My boyfriend drove me there because I was a wreck.

    The vet said he had a tumor the size of a golf ball in his intestines and if they did surgery there was a chance he might not survive. And even if he did survive he would only live six months to a year.

    This was the hardest decision I ever had to make. My dad said he didn’t want to make the decision without me. I loved him so much, but I didn’t want him to suffer. I wanted Luci to be at peace free of pain.

    The vet said I could stay with him while they put him down and warned me that it may get messy. That night I sat with him on the floor cradling and petting his head and soft furry ears. I cried my eyes and for the first time ever I seen my dad and my boyfriend cry.

    Luci looked at me right before he left this world. I told him silently that I love him so much and I will never forget him and I know he told me the same.

    He wasn’t even 3 years old when he got sick. I waited a good 3 years to get another dog. I was so empty and lonely without him by my side even though I felt him with me.

    Now I have Timber Lu (short for Luci). He is one of a kind who can be an onrey pain in the butt sometimes, but I’m sure Luci would approve of him since Timber Lu is my boy and loves me just as much.

    There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of Luci, but he is in a better place. Once a best friend always a best friend.

  12. admin

    Laura, I’m so sorry you lost Luci. He sounds like a great, great dog.

    The thing I think is amazing is how profoundly they affect and participate in our lives. I cannot even imagine my life without my dogs and cats, even though it really hurts to let them go. I’m kissing Athena right now, my big fat tabby who is sitting on the desk purring at me.

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