Oh Those 'Omas'

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was a cold frosty morning actually. Big Blue didn’t get his breakfast and he was a little cross about this. He hadn’t received his bedtime treat either. But all of that was almost made up for when it became clear that Mumma was going somewhere and she was taking him with her.

Blue greyhound recovering from anesthesia
Where Mumma took Blue was to the vet’s office. Blue has had little blood blister like spots that show up on his bum. They appear, grow larger, fill with blood, pop and then heal up completely. Then it starts again. He’s seen Dr. Edelbaum about this a couple times but unfortunately we had not been able to get in to the office while the spots were growing or blood filled. Finally we were able to time a visit with Dr. E when the blood blisters were at their worst. She felt that they could be skin cancer or they could be hemangiomas.

Given our history, the mere mention of cancer stopped my heart. And hemangioma? What was that? I recalled in all my research for Girly Girl, that I read about hemangiosarcoma which is a very nasty form of cancer (really, is there a non-nasty form of cancer?). I think Dr. Edelbaum could see the panic setting in because she tried to reassure me. We scheduled a time for Blue to have the offending spots removed.

I dropped him at the vet early in the morning. The entire time I was having flashbacks to a similar morning, very near this same time of year, when I dropped Girly Girl off at the same place for x-rays of her leg due to a persistent intermittent limp. I was doing my best to hold back the tears as I turned over his leash to George, the vet tech. I gave him a short bum rub and left quickly.

Blue greyhound stitches
The day continued in a strange warping of space and time. I simultaneously remembered how things rolled out with Girly Girl and was feeling the same feelings about Blue. It felt so strangely familiar, like a bad dream you have over and over again. You know it’s a dream but somehow you cannot wake yourself up.

There were some differences though. With Girly Girl, I had a call from Dr. Edelbaum around noon to give me the bad news that GG’s x-ray showed what she was certain was an osteosarcoma tumor. This time, Noon came and went with no news from the vet’s office on Blue. By 2p I still had heard nothing. My mind started concocting all sorts of horrors. Blue had died under anesthesia and they didn’t know how to break this news to me so they weren’t calling. Blue had terrible cancer and Dr. Edelbaum didn’t want to break this to me a second time.

I called the vet’s office to see what Blue’s status was. It was busy. My next three attempts met with busy signals as well. I was nearly frantic when finally, I got through. I mentioned Blue’s name and the woman on the phone didn’t go silent, her voice didn’t take on that “you’re about to get bad news” tone. My heart fluttered a little, showing small signs of life. Instead she said she would go check on his status. When she came back she said Blue was doing fine. He was awake and would be ready to go home in an hour.

I went to get my sweet boy. When I walked in, Dr. Edelbaum was in the lobby. She said he had done fine and now had a clean mouth (we did a dental at the same time since he was going under anesthesia anyhow) and some stitches in his bum. It would be at least a week before we heard anything back on the biopsies. They had gotten a chuckle out of the fact that I had circled the two spots with black marker. It seemed prudent to me since Blue is covered in everyday spots. I didn’t want them excising something else. I didn’t intend to subject him to anesthesia again any time in the near future. Admittedly, I’m a bit OCD, but I can imagine how humorous it was to get Blue ready for surgery, for Dr. Edelbaum and the surgeon to walk to his hind quarters so Dr. E could be sure and show the surgeon exactly which spots were in question only to find two modified bulls eyes, one on each bony cheek.

After I received his discharge instructions and an antibiotic, out wobbled my big guy. He was still very woozy from the anesthesia. But the one thought that did seem to be clear in his mind was that he was ready to leave. He tried lying down on the ride home but that caused one end or the other great pain. He lay there screaming for a few seconds and then decided to just stand for the rest of the ride. His head was hanging almost to the ground, he was panting and all his legs were shaking by the time we got home.

When we got inside, he went straight to his crate and lay down. He turned his head away from the small dinner I made. He definitely wasn’t feeling well if he turned up food. Blue continued to refuse food until about 11:30p that evening. At that point, he looked much less foggy. He was able to navigate outside for last potty and when he came back in, he had dinner on his mind.

Blue greyhound stitches close up
Blue seemed pretty well recovered by the next day. His stitches looked clean and they didn’t seem to be bothering him in any fashion. He didn’t attempt to bite, lick or chew at the two surgical sites. He had stitches on both butt cheeks, almost exactly in the same spot on both sides. Blue was excited about eating full meals again but Mumma lived in dread while we waited for those pathologists to review the offending pieces of butt cheek under their microscopes.

Today we received a call from the vet who did the surgery. He had received the pathology report back sooner than expected and wanted to give me the news. Blue's misbehaving spots were hemangiomas. They were benign. Luckily, they were spotted very early in their development. The vet said he probably wouldn’t have noted them as anything unusual had he seen them on examination. He advised that I continue to keep watch for any more as sometimes they can turn into cancer.

Moral of this story to all my reading friends: No one knows your furry baby like you do. If it doesn’t look normal, then it probably isn’t. Get it checked and insist on follow up, the sooner the better. I have probably lost a few more years off my life waiting for these results, but I know that I’ll be sleeping soundly tonight.


If I Could Talk to the Animals

I was recently reading an article about a study conducted in Budapest. The researchers recorded dogs barking in different situations such as while left tied to a tree or while guarding their yard or at the dog park. Without giving any other information the researchers let humans listen to these recordings. They found that almost all of the people could tell what the dog’s emotional intentions were from the sound of the bark alone.

Bettina greyhound with boneAccording to the scientists, both researchers and mere mortals measure three things in a dogs bark in order to determine the dogs’ state: frequency of the bark, tonality and the interval between the vocalizations. Now ain’t that something. I think for most of us, this isn’t any earth shattering news. Live with a four legged creature long enough and you get to know quite clearly what their emotional status is and what their intentions are.

That set me to thinking about my greyhounds, Blue and Bettina. Most greyhounds are not barkers. They may whine from time to time. Get them together in a group and you can usually elicit a group roo which is somewhere between a howl and a whine. But that tends to be the extent of their vocal range. It is one of the many things that make greyhounds such great pets. No dog barking all day when you’re at work. On the other hand, it would make life difficult for anyone trying to determine a greyhound’s intention from their bark alone.

Blue is a typical greyhound in that sense. He doesn’t bark. He whines on occasion (much more now that Bettina joined us and acquainted him with her bad habits) and he likes a good roo every now and again. Bettina on the other hand starts making noise from the moment she opens her eyes until the moment she closes them. She only stops for sleep and chewing.

Blue greyhound lounging on couch
While the researchers in the study identified a list of different emotions/communications in dog barks such as anger, fear, excitement, and happiness, I am under no illusions about Bettina’s emotional range. Her barks mean only two things: “I want.” Or “I want more.” Bettina has an amazing range of vocalizations. She makes noises I haven’t ever heard coming out of dogs. And she missed the memo on greyhounds not barking. But all her noises are employed for the same purpose. It’s, “I want food” or “I want more food.” She’ll throw in an, “I want attention” or “I want more attention” for good measure. She usually ends with, “I want to go out” or “I want to go out again.” I didn’t get a complicated girl in Bettina.

This study is seen as a big step forward in our understanding of the canines that share our lives, though it may seem a little silly to some. Science had previously considered dog vocalizations to be random noise (Really scientists?). Any dog lover can tell you differently, but very few dog lovers are scientists and therefore cannot be trusted. I wonder what the scientists in the study would have made of Bettina? If they had included her in their sample, I expect they would have lost their government funding.


They Never Tell You...

Girly Girl and Blue greyhounds in snow
October 12th, 2011 marked one year that I have had to exist in a world without Girly Girl in it. For those new to my missives, Girly Girl was my first greyhound. That once in a lifetime bond. My heart dog. Girly Girl was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in December of 2009. She and I had just 3 ½ infinitesimally short years together. But then, 200 years would not have been enough for me.

Blue, Grammy and I have soldiered our way through the first Thanksgiving without my girl. And the first Christmas. And her 8th birthday. There was only one first left and now that to is behind me, the first anniversary of her passing. I don’t remember a lot, but I’m pretty sure I was completely in shock and overwhelmed by the thought of her absence for the first month after she passed. Unfortunately shock wears off and then pain. Oh the pain. A strange thing about pain that I never really knew before, it seems to come in waves. There may be minutes, hours, days, some times a whole week where I can get through each day without crying. Then the wave rolls in and I go weeks where an event, a photo or even just a thought of her will turn me into a blubbering mess.

Girly Girl in car with swimming pool
That’s one of the things they don’t tell you about. Another is that I have had a very hard time bringing up memories of the millions of good times we shared. Instead, the memory of her last day keeps replaying on a loop. Though we were so incredibly lucky that we could give her a peaceful end, at home, with all of the people and hounds who loved her around, it was still her last day. The end of our most incredible journey together. I have 3 ½ years of photos and videos which I have been completely unable to look at yet, a year later.

They also don’t tell you what it will be like when you bring your beloved companion home after the cremation. I didn’t know where I should put her. I knew I couldn’t spend the rest of my time carrying around a carved wooden box with me though I desperately wanted to keep her with me at all times. For a little while I did. I even brought her on the first business trip I took after her ashes came home. OK, it’s also true that I’ve brought her on all the others since then as well. I did finally decide she should stay in the living room when she isn’t busy traveling since that is where Blue, Bettina and I spend much of our time. I figured she would want to be where we were.

Girly Girl greyhound chasing Blue greyhound
I wish they’d told me that I would miss her every minute of every day since she left me. Some days have been worse and others more bearable. An animal communicator told me that Girly Girl is actually helping other cancer dogs now from where she is. This sounds like my girl and I like to believe that this may very well be true.

When you prepare to walk out the door of the rescue with your new love they just never tell you that it will end in such gut wrenching pain. Sometimes it will end far sooner than is remotely fair. When a large chunk of my heart closed her eyes on this world, my life became a little less shiny. And I was already in for a pound with Blue, my second greyhound. He was, at that point, a well established member of my family. Yet I know that eventually I will have to watch him slip away from me, and I now know what that is going to feel like. If they had told me the full consequences of my act, what would I have done?

There are some very important things they just don’t tell you, but in the end, I think those of us who love dogs (or cats) must bear this incredible pain willingly. Because in the reckoning, Girly Girl made me a much better person than I ever was or could have been without her. I can’t imagine my life without a greyhound in it. It still hurts like hell a whole year after she left Blue and I behind, but in order to honor the gift that Girly Girl gave me, I must continue sharing my life with hounds. Though some days it’s a close call.
Girly Girl greyhound in back yard

I love you and miss you sweet girl.


I'm This Many....

Today is Bettina's birthday!  The big THREE.

Bettina greyhound in birthday hat
Birthday girl!

Bettina, Fox and Crandall greyhound
Bettina with her cousins, Fox and Crandall


Bettina and Fox greyhound
Ummm...what's that thing on your head?

Bettina greyhound birthday muffin
A birthday pumpkin muffin

Fox and Blue greyhound muffins
Muffins for everybody!  (Fox and Blue)
Bettina greyhound muffin drunk
Muffin drunk


Fright Night

Imagine, if you will, a random Friday evening. At home. Alone. Just me and the hounds. It’s dark outside and we’re watching Ghost Adventures. Bettina-weena is on the couch next to me while I let the program completely freak me out.

Bettina greyhound hears a noise
Bettina’s head suddenly pops up. Her ears clearly indicate that she’s seen or heard something of great import and is now on high alert. Worse still, she’s laser focused on the back door. She is staring so intently, I thought that perhaps it had turned into a small white dog or a cat.

My heart skips a beat. We’re in the boonies and there is no doubt in my mind that none of my neighbors is near enough to hear me scream. I haven’t tested this theory but when none of my neighbors heard me sobbing after being too afraid to get back off of my roof this winter when I went up there to try and shovel the snow off of it, I don’t hold high hopes.

Damned sheer curtains on the back door. I can’t see out at night, but whatever might be out there can definitely see in. Bettina could just be reacting to the vague reflections of she and I that you can see in the glass of the door behind the curtains. As I’ve related previously, Bettina has a thing about reflections and no amount of scientifically based evidence to the contrary can coax her into believing those reflections are us.

Except then Blue pops up, ears quivering and standing at attention. He to, is on high alert. Really? Right now? While I’m home alone, watching a scary ghost program in the dark? Perhaps Blue is just reacting to Bettina’s defcon state. Or are they really hearing or seeing something out “there”? More importantly, do I dare check?

Bettina greyhound whats outside in the dark
Bettina is craning her neck into strange pretzel shapes in order to get a better view of the back door. Blue is now on his feet, hackles raised. Bettina gets off the couch and starts cautiously creeping towards the back door.

Crike! I start looking for a heavy object to use as a weapon. This certainly isn’t how I envisioned my last few moments on earth. Still I decide I’ll at least go out fighting and make any slasher pay dearly for my blood. Unless, that is, the unknown being causing my kids so much concern is a ghost… Being quite lapsed from the faith of my childhood, I have to assume I am now on my own when it comes to malevolent spirits.

With my heart in my throat and the remote control in my hand (my plan there was to try and beat any intruder soundly about the head and shoulders) I force myself towards the back door. Why on earth did I choose to live in the middle of nowhere? Why did I choose a house so far away from everyone else? Why don’t I own a baseball bat? Why do I live in a town with no police force? And why on God’s green earth am I walking towards that back door?

I make all kinds of fun of those idiots who hear a noise in the horror movies and head out in their PJs to investigate. What kind of moron actually does that, right? Here I have two hounds in full fight or flight mode and what do I do? I reached the door, pushed past Bettina, and took a deep breath. I flipped on the porch light and stifled a scream at seeing….absolutely nothing.

Bettina greyhound somethings out there
Blue and Bettina survey the back yard and do the canine equivalent of shrugging their shoulders. Blue went back to his bed and settled back in for a nap after all the excitement. Bettina just looked at me and wandered off to the kitchen to see if I dropped anything that she may have missed.

Seriously guys? Are you trying to kill me? Getting no sympathy from my furry children, I went back to the living room and settled back down on the couch. It wasn’t long before I had dozed off into a fitful sleep during which I dream of ghosts, axe murderers and boogie men. I don’t know how long I have been sleeping but as the dreams get scarier, I find myself awakened by an extremely loud and disembodied bark directly in my ear.

For the first time in my life, I came out of a deep sleep screaming like a horror movie actress. When the fog cleared I see before me a small black dog with a look of utter bewilderment and fear on her face, quickly back pedaling away from me and possibly wondering if her mumma had completely lost her marbles. I also see the backside of Blue as he runs for the safety of the office, down at the end of the hall.

As my heart stops trip hammering, I consider saying I am sorry for scaring the kids so much. If I were a good mumma, I would do just that. But instead I considered us now even with everyone having lost some number of years off their lives on this evening. I turn off Ghost Adventures, take the remote with me in case I needed it as a weapon, and bury myself deep under my covers to wait for daylight.


To Dream the Possible Dream

I’m just going to throw this out there. We have visited, and will visit in the future, animal communicators. I know some people believe that animal communication is possible, and others think it is a bunch of hooey. I personally waiver on the issue, however, I am willing to keep an open mind on the subject. Sometimes, while I’m sitting there across from the communicator, I desperately want it to be true. So those of you who do not believe, can read this missive, laugh and think what a crazy person I am. Those of you who believe, you’ll probably relate to what I’m about to tell you all.

While I’m not entirely sure it is possible to communicate with our pets, I definitely love the idea that I might have some conduit into their mysterious little minds. At various events, we’ve probably sat with four or five different communicators in the Southern and Mid-Coast Maine area. Of those we’ve met, it seemed like two really had a connection with the kids. Everything they said had relevance to their personality or to specific events. Of the two communicators, our favorite is Sara Moore. For that reason, we’ve visited Sara more than a few times.

Blue and Bettina greyhound at Gardiner Barks in the Park
The first time I visited Sara with Bettina in tow, I was very interested to see what Bettina had to say. Bettina isn’t shy about expressing her opinions, but usually it is via sign language or barks, growls, howls and whines. Being a fairly astute observer of my kid’s behavior I have no doubt what many of those communications meant. Still, what did she think of her new situation? What was this little black diva thinking?

Typically when we visit a communicator, I have a list of specific questions I’m looking for answers to. I also check on their health status-anything hurt? Anything out of whack? Then, when I’ve gotten all my answers, I ask if there is anything that the kids may want to say/tell me.

Turns out Bettina thought it was very important to let me know that her favorite color is purple. Not just any purple, but lavender. Being the true royal that she is, she demanded a lilac colored coat. And a purple collar. Oh and while I’m at it, she would also like her toenails painted purple. Huh? Who does she think she is some spoiled reality star?

Still, I want to be a good mom. Plus her royal demands allow me to do something that mumma loves, make the kids fashion plates with fabulous coats and accessories. I also think Dr. Phil would tell me that it’s never a good idea to crush anyone’s dreams. Yes. That’s exactly what he’d tell me. I’m sure of it.

In my best “what baby wants, baby gets” fashion, we began the search. At the Maine Greyhound Placement Service Annual Reunion, we found two purple collars. Neither were lavender but until we found the perfect one, they looked great on Bettina. Plus they were on clearance. At the fabric store I procured lavender flannel which will make a beautiful coat for my tiara wearing beast.

Collar, check. Coat, check (well, sort of). That left toenails. I did some research and decided I would order her some doggy nail polish to put in her Christmas stocking. Bettina is impatient and she decided she had no intention of waiting that long. Her opportunity presented itself so perfectly, I am slightly afraid at her ability to bend the will of the universe to her own purposes. It must be her superpower. Only I’m not certain that this power will always be used for good. In fact, I’m certain it will be used for purposes that are not at all altruistic. Case in point: this past weekend Blue, Bettina and I were working a Meet & Greet on behalf of Maine Greyhound Placement Service. Our table was at an annual event called Gardiner Barks in the Park.
Lindsay paints Bettina greyhounds nails-Blue greyhound watches
Though the day was beautiful, the festival wasn’t very busy. Our table happened to be next to the Petco grooming salon table. We had plenty of time to chat with and get to know our neighbors. Bettina waged a campaign to charm Lindsay, the grooming salon manager. She was cute and friendly and most agreeable. She was on her best behavior.

I didn’t think too much on it until Lindsay kindly offered to trim and Dremel both kids’ nails since it was so slow. That is a job I definitely do not relish. Whenever I get out the nail clippers, it’s big wide eyes, big deep sighs and constant pulling away of the feet and screaming bloody murder when I haven’t even clipped anything yet. You can bet that mumma gratefully accepted that offer. Lindsay did Blue’s nails first. As usual, when your kids are in the care of strangers, Blue was good as gold.

Bettina greyhounds painted nailsThe time came to do Bettina’s nails and Her Royal Highness laid herself out, as if to provide easy access to her nails. The only thing she didn’t do was regally extend each paw. As Lindsay clipped and Dremeled Bettina’s nails, I could swear there was a little more animal communication going on there. Bettina was looking intently at Lindsay and something must have passed between them because seconds later Lindsay asked if she could paint Bettina’s nails.

I explained that Bettina had actually requested this very service when we visited the animal communicator. Without blinking an eye, Lindsay asked me what color Bettina said she wanted. Her eyes lit up when I told her and soon an assistant was standing next to us with a snazzy metallic purple doggy nail polish. Bettina lay back and closed her eyes as Lindsay transformed her nails into her purple dream.

I’m not sure there will be any living with her now that she has had her spa day. I better get busy with that purple flannel and my sewing machine. She’s strutting around the house like a small, hairy, black and purple peacock. From here on out, I’m going to rethink asking those open ended questions when we visit the animal communicator.


Yes I Know My Dogs Look Funny

Yes I Know My Dogs Look Funny is what I decided to name my blog when I started it. A bit lengthy. Not exceptionally catchy or amusing, I know. I tried to think of a clever, urbane, fabulous name for this repository of greyhound ramblings but in the end, I kept coming back to this.

When I first got my furry children some five years ago, the greyhound rescue movement in Maine had already been in existence more than 10 years. I had been following their trajectory for at least five of those ten years, desperately wanting a greyhound of my own. Unfortunately, apartment living (cue Snoopy and the “No Dogs Allowed” song) and a busy life filled with lots of travel and long work days precluded that.

Blue and Bettina greyhound at Pet Quarters Brunswick METhe rescue of greyhounds was well established here in Maine (and probably a venerable old institution in the rest of the wide world) by the time I joined the ranks of greyhound mums and fanatics. Yet every time we ventured out of the house, we were besieged by the curious and confused. People would stop us every few feet. “Is that a greyhound? I’ve never seen one in person before.” “What sort of dog is that?” “I know I’ve seen pictures of a dog like this but I can’t think of what that is.” And my favorite, a small boy who felt the need to break loose from his mom and run across a park to ask me if I knew that my dogs looked funny?

After a while I became used to not being able to walk 20 feet without being stopped so someone could see the hounds and ask questions about them. Five years ago, one person in 100 would say they had seen a greyhound before. One in 500 would say they knew someone who owned one or owned one themselves.

I guess it was gradual but there came a day recently when I was out and about with the hounds and I realized that, while we were getting stopped just as frequently, I wasn’t meeting many people who had never seen a greyhound before or didn’t know what one was. I was meeting people who had always wanted to spend time with greyhounds or who knew the breed and loved them. The number of people who knew someone with a greyhound increased dramatically. “There are two greys in my neighborhood.” “I see a lady walking her greyhound in town every morning as I drive to work.” “My next door neighbor has three greyhounds and I just love them!” “I want my next dog to be a greyhound.” “I once owned a greyhound and sure miss him/her.” Or my favorite, “I have greyhounds to!!”

There is no doubt that the considerable army of greyhound adopters and the well executed program of meet and greets has done an excellent job in significantly boosting brand awareness and stimulating the “I have to get me one of those” mentality. It has been a successful marketing campaign by all counts.

This has led me to consider whether the name of my blog may now be obsolete. I’ve been wondering if I should change it but in the end I think not. I’ll always look back fondly on the olden times when greyhounds were a brave new world and a little boy was compelled to let me know I had some funny looking dogs, just in case I hadn’t noticed that for myself.


Retired from Racing, Not from Life*

I was browsing through Twitter, catching up on all my electronic friends’ doings when I came across a tweet from @greytfriend with a cryptic invitation to “also check out Retired from Racing, Not from Life” with a link.

It piqued my curiosity so I clicked on the link. I ended up at the online store for a company called Blurb. The site lets you create amazing books and sell them if you are so inclined. Blurb goes way beyond the typical photo books you would create at Shutterfly or Walgreen’s. I even have an account with Blurb, created almost a year ago in anticipation of designing a book celebrating Girly Girl’s life. So far I can’t bring myself to sort through the thousands of photos I am lucky to have taken of her.

Retired from Racing, Not from Life Book Cover
It turned out that Retired from Racing, Not from Life is a book. It was created by True North Greyhounds. This book contains absolutely incredible, stunning photos and reproductions of art work about greyhounds. All of the images were donated for the project by photographers and artists around the world. A teacher of mine once said that the sign of a good photo is when you look at it, you immediately wish you had taken it. With every photo and piece of artwork I looked at in the preview, I found myself wishing I had the skills to make art and photos like these, of one of the things I love best in the world.

The sales of the book will benefit the Ohio State University Greyhound Health and Wellness Program (GHWP). This program, led by Dr. Guillermo Couto, is at the forefront of research and treatment of greyhounds. Particularly greyhounds with cancer. We first became acquainted with the program when we heard Dr. Couto speak at one of the Adoption Reunions held at the now defunct Raynham race track.

Girly Girl greyhound at Gardiner Barks in the Park
Oh so shortly after hearing him speak, we were in contact with Dr. Couto and the GHWP on behalf of my heart hound, Girly Girl who fought, and lost, her battle with osteosarcoma. Throughout that still unbelievable odyssey, GHWP reviewed Girly Girl’s x-rays, confirmed her diagnosis, offered us treatment direction and advice, referrals to specialists in our area and most importantly, gave us free chemo drugs. They covered not only her first round of chemo, but also her second round. If we hadn’t needed her third round specially compounded, they would have sent us those as well. But we weren’t special. They do this for all retired racing greyhounds, at no charge.

I’ve raved about this program, the staff and the services of the GHWP a couple times before in this blog. I don’t think I can ever sing their praises enough. Without the help they gave us I would probably have had to face the horrific possibility of having to let my heart dog go because I couldn’t afford treatment for her. The thought of that situation gives me nightmares still.

So, as I approach the first anniversary of Girly Girl’s departure, I can’t imagine a more fitting way to remember her than by buying this book in her honor, supporting OSU Greyhound Health and Wellness Program, and letting you all know about this beautiful book that allows you to give even while you are getting so much in return.

*Click on the title of this post to learn more about the book.


Unquiet On the Eastern Front

We’ve had a visitor! Since we live in the sticks, that is not a frequent occurrence. The whole house has been in an uproar.

This past Monday night at the last potty before bedtime, I let the kids out as I usually do. Only after they hit the back lawn did I look up and notice a pair of shining green eyes amongst the shamefully un-whacked weeds.

Bettina greyhound on alert
Oh Crap!!!! What the heck is that? Cat? Skunk (oh god please no)? Porcupine (oh god please no again)? It was too late; the hounds had already been released. I held my breath, waiting for the imminent fracas. Except my alleged sight hounds didn’t seem to notice the mystery interloper. Feeling like I had a chance, I nonchalantly sauntered down the steps and inched my way towards Bettina.

I knew that if anyone was going to get into trouble in this situation, it would most certainly be my Vice President of Checking Stuff Out. So when I reached her, I got hold of her then turned to deal with the beastie in the grass.

I made noises. I shooed. I stomped. I shouted. The eyes stayed right where they were. Blue and Bettina were staring at mumma clearly thinking that mumma has gone ‘round the bend.

Bettina greyhound confronts kitty
I thought a few moments and then tried again, this time taking a few steps in the eyes’ direction and dragging Bettina along with me so I could keep my grasp on her. The weeds rustle. Out from the puckerbrush sashays a small cat. A cat. In our backyard, the wolves den. We haven’t had a cat in the yard since the neighborhood mouser tried it once just after the fence went up. Once was all it took.

Kitty strolled leisurely to the gap between the fence and garage then slipped out into the night. This entire episode takes place right under Bettina and Blue’s very noses and neither one ever noticed. Sight hounds my ass…

In any case, I figured problem solved. Kitty learns lesson, hounds no worse for wear. Except on Tuesday evening I was sure I was hearing noises every time I walked into the kitchen.  Eventually I approached the back door cautiously. We have curtains on the all-glass door. The curtains are sheer which ensures no one can see in during the day and you can’t see outside at night. I thought I was detecting faint movement through the curtain. I flipped on the porch light and jumped back at the unexpected sight of Kitty sitting on the back porch, meowing piteously to come inside.

I chased Kitty out of the yard hissing and shouting. I’d hoped to scare it off in order to avoid having to watch Bettina eat it. Kitty disappeared around the corner of the house and was soon back on the porch like some miniature furry peeping-Tom.

Bettina greyhound barks at kitty
I had to chase Kitty out of the yard again in order to let the kids out for last potty without significant bloodshed. But Wednesday afternoon Kitty was waiting at the door for us right after work. Bettina, the sight hound, finally saw it and began frantically clawing at the door, poking a hole in my sheer curtains and barking madly.

Kitty waited patiently for me as I stepped outside and closed the back door on a major rumble of black fur and teeth trying to force its way out the door right behind me. Kitty was completely un-phased by this show of ferocity and she rubbed against my leg. I picked Kitty up. Kitty snuggled right into my chest. Darn cute little thing!

Still, I brought Kitty to the fence and stuffed her under the gate. Then I let the dogs out. Kitty hung out right where she was, just out of reach on the outside of the fence. Bettina lost her little mind and ran straight at the fence all barks, growls and fangs. Kitty stood her ground.

Bettina greyhound tries to reach kitty
Completely flummoxed, Bettina amped up the Cujo factor and began again to berate and threaten Kitty. Kitty stood there just long enough to let Her Royal Highness know there was a new royal in town and that Bettina wasn’t fooling anyone with her shtick. Then Kitty leisurely ambled along the fence line, stopping occasionally to watch the whirling dervish keeping pace on the inside of the fence.

Eventually Kitty disappeared again around the corner of the house. I thought that this had to have left an impression on the pint size feline and I gathered Blue and the freak show that is Bettina and we all went inside. I’m not sure what made me do it, but I took a quick peek out the front door and…
there was Kitty still mounting her campaign to adopt me.

I broke down and fed Kitty some salmon treats on the front porch with Bettina serenading us from inside the house. Kitty began showing up every morning and evening after that. The plan is to take Kitty to the local shelter but she has an uncanny knack for arriving before the shelter is open or after it closes.

Bettina has made it exceedingly clear that she would LOVE to adopt the little hors de oeuvre. She hasn’t stopped telling me so, loudly, ever since she finally laid eyes on the furry little bugger.

Homeless kitty at my doorstep

Post Script:

I was successful at finally seeing Kitty during shelter hours and she is now on her way to getting a loving forever home. The shelter has named her Zig Zag and I’m just waiting for her to appear on the website so I can follow her until her adoption. Bettina is disconsolate and hungry.


Oh Where, Oh Where Have My Little Dogs Gone?

For any who may not be fully acquainted with my life, I must travel for work from time to time. I work for a great company that knows how much my “kids” mean to me. Among the many things they have done for the kids and me, one is that they allow me to bring them on my road trips to New York.

Girly Girl adn Blue greyhound at the Smithfield Inn in Plattsburgh
Back in the days when Girly Girl was still physically with us and it was Blue, Girly Girl and I, both kids traveled with me. We all spent a week in a great dog friendly hotel. Blue sure does love him some hotel bed. So if I intended to sleep on these trips, there had better be two beds in the room. Otherwise it’s all in on Mumma’s bed and Blue stretches WAY out. Plus he drools and insists on laying his drool-sodden melon on a pillow. I prefer that it not be mine.

When Bettina joined the family, I had my first experience with a greyhound who barks. For any reason. And many times, for no reason. I say she’s “chatty.” With Miss Mouthy aboard I couldn’t risk taking her to the hotel with us and have her bark all day while I was at the office. I had visions of the hotel manager calling me on my cell phone, raucous barking in the background, with a request that I vacate the premises immediately. Thus, every time I have to travel for work, Bettina gets a week at Camp Grammy.

Blue always ends up coming with me on the trip by himself. I figured it would be a great time for Blue and Mumma to do some bonding. Blue might also get a nice break from being bossed around night and day by Miss Mouthy. Bettina has assumed dominion over poor Blue and try as I might, I can’t get him to cowboy up. So a week without Bettina and some quality alone time with Mumma-hound heaven!

Blue greyhound reads about Mao
Except that it turned out Blue was mostly lonely. He got to spend some evenings with Mumma but spent a lot of time in his travel crate with only the TV for company. Blue doesn’t spend much time in a crate at all outside of these business jaunts and here-to-fore he could always look out the window of his travel crate and see Girly Girl across the way, sulking in her crate.

After a number of trips without Bettina I began feeling really guilty about schlepping him along with me. He seemed to be getting sadder with each trip. I determined that on the next trip, I would find a way to give him a break.

Grammy has taken both my kids in the past, but she lives in a small space with two large male greyhounds of her own. To add two more to that mix can be quite overwhelming. Factor in that Bettina is such a fussypants and Mumma is pushing her luck asking Grammy to take them both. Not wanting to wear out our welcome at Grammy’s place, I reserved Blue a spot at Auntie Carol’s house.

Having deposited Bettina with Auntie Carol and Blue with Grammy, I proceeded on my businessy way, secure in the knowledge that my kids would be safe and well cared for. With the added bonus that they’d be in surroundings that made them happy. Both Grammy’s and Auntie Carol’s are similar to home in that someone is around almost every moment of the day.

What I didn’t take into consideration, as I began this journey, was Mumma. I get to spend all of my time with my babies. We are together day and night. When I travel I generally get to take them with me. Most of the time I’m traveling to some function that involves greyhounds. If I run an errand, they come along. If I visit friends, they come to. It s a very rare occasion when I am separated from them.

This particular trip was interminable for Mumma. Though it was great to see colleagues face to face and get some stuff done that is best done when I am onsite, I missed my babies terribly. I was very lonely in the hotel each night. I even started to miss the drool soaked pillows. Auntie Carol was very kind and sent me daily photo updates on what Her Royal Highness had been up to. Even if she wasn’t, Auntie Carol told me that Bettina was being a good girl.

Bettina had taken over the new realm and insinuated herself onto Carol’s couch, on her spare bed and eventually even managed to work her way into Carol’s bed so she could cuddle with Auntie Carol. Each morning there would be photos of her on the couch (where Carol’s hounds are not allowed) or on the spare bed, head on the pillow (Bettina drools as well).

Bettina greyhound stays with Auntie Carols
Blue, for his part, did likewise at Grammy’s house. He drooled happily on Grammy’s pillows and stretched out to his full length and width taking ¾ of the bed. He danced for his dinner. He danced for Fox and Crandall’s dinners as well.

Everyone seemed to be doing quite well at their respective locations with the exception of poor Mumma. I counted down days until I could drive the 6 hours back to pick them up. I looked eagerly every day for emails from Carol and my mother giving me minute details about the kid’s days. In reality they pretty much did the same thing every day, but it didn’t matter. I wanted to read it all.

Finally the day came and I drove back home to pick up my babies. Blue seemed happy to see me but he couldn’t get anywhere near me because Fox and Crandall, Grammy’s hounds, were knocking themselves out to crawl up my legs and say hello. It was such an enthusiastic greeting that you’d have thought they were my missing babies. On the other hand, they may have just been very, very excited to know that Blue was heading back home. Bettina hopped out of Carol’s car and stood facing the other way. We stood there looking at her and she continued to watch down the road as if a parade of dog biscuits would be coming from that direction. Finally I called her name; she looked behind her and gave me an excited welcome home greeting.

We got home and Mumma was feeling like all was well with the world. I thought, surely, this is a special moment for the family now that we were all together again. In a little blissful, familial love cloud I floated inside, hounds trailing behind me. I was preparing to cuddle on the couch with both babies while we all sang Kumbaya (well, I’d sing, they’d roo). I turned to see where they were and faced two hounds staring intently at me, drooling. Ah yes, we’re home. What are you waiting for Mumma? We’re hungry.


Hot Dog!

Every greyhound parent likes to think their hound is the most beautiful, charming, special and smart hound that was ever whelped. Most of us wonder what kind of idiots passed up adopting such a gem before you got to the kennel and recognized these amazing qualities.
I admit to such hubris on the part of my two babies, Bettina and Blue (and possibly even more so with their predecessor, Girly Girl). They say pride goeth before the fall (or something like that). I can attest to the fact that this is true.

Bettina greyhound on hot asphalt
On a recent Friday I took the hounds outside for our typical mid-day break. It was very sunny that day and roughly 85 degrees. Those of you in the South are saying, oh, a nice, if not coolish day. For those of us in the North, this is akin to parking next to the gates of hell and leaving your windows rolled up. It was very hot.

This being a Friday, the garbage man had come and I was returning the empty garbage can to its designated space in the garage. Bettina decided that, as my Vice President of Checking Stuff Out, she should be nearby to supervise and observe. She took up a position close to mumma while I went about my task.

The side door to the garage has a small paved square in front of it which sits in full sun almost all day. By lunch time, the blazing sun had applied itself assiduously to the square for more than 7 hours. I could feel the material of my Crocs melding with the pavement. So it was with much amazement that I watched Bettina step from the grass onto the asphalt and then carefully and daintily lay herself down on the scorching tar.

Bettina greyhound lays on hot asphalt
I managed to sputter out, “Uh Bettina…isn’t that too hot?” And as I bent down to test the temperature with my hand, Bettina suddenly starts shrieking as though…well…as though she were on fire. I can feel that the tar is so hot I had to remove my hand to keep from searing my first layer of skin off. Yet Bettina makes no move to remove herself from the uncomfortable situation as a normal dog might when being cooked alive. Instead she lay there, screaming.

As it appeared she had no immediate plans to get up and I was smelling an unpleasant charred meat smell, I stepped over to assist my brain surgeon. After a few tries, I managed to hoist her up to a standing position. I was certain that once she was up, she’d get the heck off the tar. Sadly, I figured incorrectly.

She stood there looking at me and whimpering. She’d pick up one paw, cry, and then set it down. She’d pick up the next paw, cry, then set it down and so on. I watched while she did this a few times and I told her to step sideways onto the grass for heaven’s sake. She must have been utterly deafened by her pain as she continued her hot dog dance, oblivious of mumma trying to shoo her onto the grass.

Blue and Bettina greyhound on hot asphalt
My Rhodes Scholar was not making the most of this learning experience, so I had to physically pick her up and carry her over to the grass, a mere 2 feet from where she had been laying and then standing. Blue had watched all this from the security of the nice cool grass. He was looking from Bettina to me and I could see clearly what he was thinking, “and you thought I was the dumb one…” And that was true. I had always thought Blue was the one who “got the looks” in our family. But Bettina’s looking more and more beautiful every day.


Walk the Walk

I had a physical recently and the lab results revealed that my cholesterol level is 300. Ooops. The doctor gave me a stern lecture about needing to eat better, lose weight…you know, all the doctorly stuff that goes in one ear and out the other. At some point it must have become apparent to her that she had lost her audience so she threw a Hail Mary. She suggested I take the hounds for a daily walk.

I must admit, that got my attention for a nano-second and then I went back to thinking about a hamburger with bacon and cheese for dinner. Up to now, I’ve taken the furry kids to the backyard, which is nicely fenced, and let them run their little hearts out. The backyard is very good sized and allows two greyhounds plenty of space to run until they drop. For my kids, that’s about three minutes.

Bettina greyhound on the couch
The idea of taking them out for a walk has been unappealing because we live in a rural area. There are no sidewalks and the cars speed down our road like we were the first turn at Talladega. Not to mention the insanely high population of horse and deer flies. With all the farms around me, and herds of deer lurking behind every tree we are at ground zero. For any city folk out there who may never have been acquainted with a deer or horse fly, let me enlighten you. These flies are the size of a 747 jet liner. They are the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the fly world. They fear nothing and once locked on target, death is the only thing that deters them from trying to make a meal of you. And they bite. Very hard.

Can you blame me if I didn’t immediately jump at the idea of taking the kids for a walk? (Oh for heaven’s sake, all right! I’m also a bit lazy too. Happy now?) None the less, one day last week after work I threw caution to the wind and called the hounds for harnessing. It had been hot that day but I figured that by the end of the workday we’d be fine because the sun was on its way down and a nice breeze was dissipating the day’s heat. Everything seemed to be in order.

For an inexplicable reason, I decided to leave the house via the front door. This is something that we never do. The front steps are concrete and have a slightly steeper pitch, as well as shorter tread width, than the back stairs. Blue had some experience with the front stairs as there had been a time when we were forced to use the front door after the deck fell off the house (long story). But it had been a number of years since he’d even seen them. Bettina didn’t even know we had two doors in the house. As we stood on the verge of departure, I could see that the kids were a bit hesitant about this new situation. Their solution was to hang back behind me and try to assess it. Mumma, on the other hand, had made up her mind to do this thing so I impatiently urged them to venture forth.

They obeyed. Since they were unsure about these suspicious steps, they did what greyhounds do. They ran. Down the stairs. Fast. I was unprepared for this and thus it occurred to me only while in mid-flight that Bettina was only sporting a 4 foot leash. Since it was going to be more than 4 feet between where I was standing and where she was fixing to land, I deduced that I had a new situation on my hands. Unfortunately, I didn’t deduce the best action to take. What I did instead was start yelling, “WAIT! WAIT!” Blue, by now also in mid-flight, started trying to back pedal to comply with my request. Bettina hit the ground with no leash to spare. She came up short while her momentum yanked me down the stairs behind her. Blue was sandwiched between us. Bettina fell backwards onto the bottom step. Blue came down on the bottom stair and fell on top of Bettina. I came right behind Blue thanks to Bettina’s assist, landing on top of the pile.

Once we sorted out which parts belonged with whom, I did a field triage. Blue, with his paper thin, white dog skin got the worst of it (as usual, poor baby). He had scraped off a section of skin from one hind leg, presumably from the concrete stairs. He didn’t seem to be disabled by the boo-boo so I gave me informed medical opinion that none of us would die from our trauma.

The front door, at the top of those concrete stairs, remained wide open. Having descended the stairs sooner than I expected or intended, I didn’t have a chance to shut the door. It looked a long way away. We had also just discovered that Bettina’s leash wasn’t long enough to reach from top to bottom or vice versa. I went back up the steps as far as I could get. Not nearly enough. I spent the next 15 minutes coaxing Bettina and Blue to not only approach the terrible stairs again, but, in Bettina’s case, to come up a couple stairs so I could reach the door.

I finally managed this challenge. With one arm stretched out fully behind me holding Blue and Bettina’s leashes and my other arm stretched out fully in front of me, I could only touch the closest edge of the door. This happened to be the edge where the door is hinged to the building. The door handle was another few feet beyond that. Knowing I couldn’t bring the dogs back up those stairs, I used my one hand to lever the door mostly closed by inserting my fingers in the gap between the door and the casing. With a final lunge, I grabbed the now much closer handle and shut the door. Whew. We might actually have had to go back inside and just come out the back door like we normally do.

Finally, a little worse for wear, we were off for our walk. We managed to reach the middle of the front yard before a legion of horse and deer flies descended on us. Bettina, Blue and I looked like a small solar system with each of us a planet and the flies a myriad of not so tiny moons orbiting around our heads. The only immediate solution was for me to shoo the flies away from me and the kids, while they tried catching them with their teeth.

As we reached the end of the drive, I stopped at the mailbox where I found a sale flyer for some local hardware store. I grabbed it, intending to throw it in the recycle bin upon our return. But it didn’t take long for me to repurpose it as a make-shift fly swatter. (The irony of my using a flyer to swat flies is not lost on me.) We headed off down the road. Bettina and Blue were madly snapping at flies while their mumma was crazily waving her arms all around using the flyer to desperately try and knock out a few of our tormentors. As I got vociferous in cursing the flies and waving my arms around most vigorously, the kids would stop their walking and watch my antics.

It was at one of these moments that I took a particularly large swing at a fly around Bettina’s face. I miscalculated my parabola and ended up swatting her on the forehead with the sales flyer instead. She reared back with a look of utter horror, hurt and disgust. She was clearly deeply offended that I had struck her and no amount of apologizing and cooing could convince her otherwise. She was making sure to keep both my hands in sight. Thus it was for the remainder of our walk. If I so much as moved the hand holding the flyer, she would flinch and cringe away from me to the extent her 4 foot leash would allow.

We managed to get a few phone poles down the road, moving at a very leisurely pace when I noticed that Bettina was starting to flag a little. Bettina, my just turned two, ball of energy, running in the back yard like a crazy dog all the time girl. Blue was all engines go. I could see no indication that he was beginning to tire. We made our way to the next phone pole and Bettina had begun to lag back behind us a bit. I determined we’d better cut this first walk short and head back.

Blue greyhound in his crate
When Bettina caught up with us, we turned around and headed back towards the house. Bettina went a few yards and stopped. Oh lord. She stood there panting and looking at me. I looked down the road to where I could see our driveway. It wasn’t that far away but at that moment it looked like a long way indeed. There didn’t seem to be much to do but to push through and get back home.

I gave Bettina’s leash a small tug and said in my most encouraging voice, “Come on sweet girl, we’re almost home. When we get back we’ll have dinner.” Blue was all for chow and set off immediately. Bettina dubiously brought up the rear, went another few yards and stopped.

Oh fiddlesticks! (Yeah sure I said that…) This wasn’t good. I stood around for a few moments thinking I would enjoy the drone of the fly horde while I let Bettina catch her breath a bit. Blue stood impatiently looking from me to our driveway and back again. He was drooling slightly. Most likely over the thought of imminent dinner. It wouldn’t be the first time.

I put on my best cheerful mum face and got Bettina on the move again. We made it a few more yards. At this point I was trying to mentally calculate how long it would take us to make it back home at that rate. I had it pegged at sometime right around the next day’s breakfast. Bettina stared at me, stubbornly refusing to be influenced by my promises of food, my entreaties for a break, Blue’s obvious eagerness to get to the food portion of the program or the black cloud of uber-flies trying to make dinner out of us.

I scooped her up and started walking towards home. And by “scooped” I mean bent over with a groan, hoisted her up, staggered around a little and then, when I was sure I wouldn’t keel over, started stumbling in the general direction I wanted to go. This time I made it a few yards and stopped. That was how far it took for the message to go from my arms to my brain informing me that this dog was damned heavy for looking so petite.

Since carrying her home like some fly crazed sherpa wasn’t going to work out, I returned to coaxing (threatening) her towards home. I managed to tug her to our driveway. By this point she was panting heavily. I was worried that maybe, being a black dog; she had overheated and was on her way to heat stroke. Her tongue was hanging far out of her mouth and she had a glazed look. Until, that is, she hit the edge of our lawn and started trotting with Blue towards the front door. Excuse me?

As soon as we were inside, she began dancing and jumping around insisting on the dinner I had promised. I let her have her dinner. Then, just to show her there were no hard feelings; I took her temperature in the time honored way of vets everywhere. She was not excited about having her bum assaulted in such a manner. As a concerned pet parent, I was obliged to be SURE that she wasn’t in the throes of heat stroke. Right?


Her Royal Highness the Crown Regent of Fussypants

Life with Bettina as a member of our family has been, er, interesting. I did not initially realize when I brought her through the door, I had brought home royalty. Make no mistake-Bettina knew darn well she was royalty even if I had not yet been acclimated to that fact. Not only did she know she was royalty, she insisted, from the very first second of her arrival, upon being treated in a manner which suited her station.

Bettina greyhound with her usual look
Mumma wanted to introduce her to her new crate. A crate which had served the previous occupant very well. However, she didn’t find it particularly to her liking and thus, refused to cross the threshold. She dug her formidable nails into the carpet and leaned back like a mule. I pushed from the rear but to no avail. I might get the front half in but she would use the crate as leverage and maneuver her way out again. Or I would remove one foot from the door frame and place it in the crate, only to have another foot that was inside the crate find its way back out again. It was a knock-down, drag-out, free-for-all but I am happy to say that mumma won that one. It would be my first and my last. Once I succeeded in getting HRH Fussypants inside and the door shut, she fixed me with a hair eyeball. A look with which I am ever more familiar.

Once I started letting her stay outside of the crate, she felt her bed was too lumpy, too small, too uncomfortable and too bourgeois. Why sleep on the floor when there is this lovely queen sized bed, raised up nicely where she could survey her domain. Why, it even had the word queen in it, so clearly it was meant to be for Bettina. She started by simply hopping up there with me at the end of the day. After a major kerfuffle, which ended with Bettina off the bed and me half off the bed, she figured out that, like all good deposed rulers everywhere, she was going to have to retake the high ground by stealth. She would come into the bedroom each night and settle herself in one of the two dog beds. She would make loud sighing and groaning noises to assure me that she had no thoughts of sleeping anywhere else. Soon, ever so quietly, I would hear her get up and not long after a pair of amber eyes and a little black snout would peer at me over the edge of the bed. She stared at me intently as if gauging whether she could take me or not. If I told her no, she would come to the other side of the bed and peer over the edge weighing her chances from that side. Many times she determined her chances were pretty good and soon I would have a black fur ball dropping from out of the sky. Hard.

Bettina greyhound on her bed
We’d wrestle and eventually I would succeed in dumping her over the side of the bed. Usually I was worse for wear. Once again she changed up her strategy. She would wait with great sighs and groans on her bed until I finished reading and turned out the lights. It wouldn’t be long before I sensed a presence on one side or the other of the bed. Sometimes I would reach my hand out into the darkness to find it full of velvet fur. Sometimes she would wait until I had dropped off to sleep and then wake me from a dead sleep by cannon-balling onto my stomach. For any of you who have not had the joy of being awakened from a deep sleep by an unexpected attacker, I don’t believe I could accurately describe the experience for you.

It wasn’t too long into her stay that Fussypants began training me to be a good lady in waiting to her royal eminence. At various points through the day she would begin shrieking at me in her high-pitched greyhound voice. When I would look in her direction, she rolled on her side and delicately lifted her uppermost rear leg, exposing her belly. If I didn’t immediately grasp her meaning, she would shriek at me louder and lift her leg again. If I still didn’t get it, she would begin raising her voice more and more. This would go on until she could contain her frustration no longer and begin barking at me. She would not be appeased until I was on the ground by her bed rubbing her belly. If I stopped rubbing her belly before she was satisfied, she would spring up and grab my hand with her mouth, bossing me with her insistent shrieks into rubbing her belly some more.

HRH Fussypants also felt that any food within her reach should be hers. She would quickly finish her meal and then stand over Blue’s right shoulder, staring at him while he tried, usually unsuccessfully, to eat his dinner at a more leisurely pace. The poor giant coward would eventually give up his ground and Bettina would take whatever was left. In the end, mumma had to step in and form a human barrier between Blue and the looming Bettina. Like a cow that has been cut from the herd by the horse and rider, she would attempt to get by me to reach Blue. First by veering right and then switching quickly to her left. If mumma stuck with her for each feint, she would go around the coffee table and try to pass me by using the coffee table as screen. Some days she would attempt to go right through me and I would have to walk her backwards pushing her with my legs while she leaned into me hoping to overpower me.

Once HRH Fussypants learned that she was a royal in exile where the sleeping arrangements were concerned, she determined to have the best of the two dog beds in the bedroom. She would stand over Blue, and stare at him until his nerve failed him and he ran out of the bedroom. For a while he would move to the “lesser” bed and sleep there. It wasn’t long before HRH Fussypants implemented her next edict which was that both beds were hers and Blue was not allowed in the bedroom. No amount of coaxing from mumma could convince Blue to sleep in one of those dog beds in the bedroom. He would retire early and sleep in there until Bettina and I came in to bed and he would automatically jump up like his britches were on fire and run to the living room where I heard him plop down with a big groan in his crate, or, on the big bed in the living room.

Bettina greyhound at Maine Greyhound Placement Service Open House
Bettina continued her reign of benign terror at her Grammy’s house. Since HRH Fussypants would not suffer being quiet, mumma could not take her on work trips to stay in hotels. So she would spend these weeks with Grammy. In preparation for her first visit, mumma bought her the cutest soft sided crate. It was pink with blue polka dot trim. But apparently not regal enough because her first time in the crate she ripped her way out of it to greet Grammy at the door when she came home. I suppose I should have known, her highness had warned me that she did not do crates on the first day she took control of her new kingdom.

Fussypants also claimed the back yard as her own. As soon as spring came and the grass began poking up, she would head to the back yard and begin grazing. Mumma would holler at her to stop. She would give me a haughty stare and return to grazing. If mumma came off the steps, she’d run to the far end of the yard and return to grazing. When mumma mowed the grass to fix the issue, she would go out and snuffle along in the piles of clippings until she found one that smelled good to her and she would gulp down a giant clump of grass clippings. She would stand chewing for a while, as though she had a cud. If I attempted to dissuade her she would pretend she didn’t hear me. No mortal tells HRH Crown Regent of Fussypants what to do.

As I type this now, she is laying with me on the couch. She has started at one end, and moved her way down towards me and has herded me to the other end where she is stretched out along the rest of the couch. A paw will occasionally plunk itself down on the keyboard, typing a string of nonsense characters. I move the paw and a hind leg plunks down on the keyboard, kicking at me. I move the hind leg and she grabs my hand with her mouth and I must pause to rub her belly. And yes, she has made mumma understand that the couch is hers to use at will. At least the kingdom of Fussypants is not a bad place to be a subject in. Long live the Queen.