Traveling Dog Lady: 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dog Whisperer Week on NGC

Whoops! Forgot to post here announcing Dog Whisperer Week on NGC, which ends tonight.

My bad!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dog Whisperer Marathon Friday!

Dog Whisperer Marathon on the National Geographic Channel starting Friday at 2:00 pm Eastern. Check your local listings!
For fun, go onto National Geographic's web site, and take the "Diagnose The Dog" test on the Dog Whisperer page! Fun!!!
Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Since Hector was a pup!

Some of you may have read my essay on about my wonderful dog, Hector, and how he got his name. His name came about because of a phrase some of us at work used "we've been doing things that way since Hector was a pup". This is a phrase evidently popular for centuries. When I got Hector, we couldn't think of a name, and I was at work with my dear friend Roberta and she used the phrase (as we always did) and we looked at each other and said "HECTOR!!" and that's how my Hec got his name.

Somebody was Googling over the weekend, looking for "since hector was a pup cartoon" and landed on (yeah, I can spy on them and see how they ended up on my web site).

I decided to Google the same phrase and see what else comes up. Here is a great article explaining the possible origins of the phrase "since Hector was a pup".

"since Hector was a pup"

Dear Editor:
I sometimes hear the phrase "since Hector was a pup" and can't for the life of me find its source. I suspect it refers to the Hector of Homer's "Iliad." Can you confirm this hunch?
—M.E., Scottsboro, Ala.
Dear M.E.:
No one seems to be quite sure of the origin of this curious phrase. "Since Hector was a pup" is one of a variety of expressions meaning basically "since way back when," another favorite being "since Pontius was a pilot."
Several sources offer the unsubstantiated suggestion that the expression is based on the once-common practice of naming big dogs "Hector," most likely after the hero of Trojan War fame. Names for dogs, just as for people, go in and out of style. (We wouldn't even want to guess how many dogs were named "Lassie" in the 1960s.) According to the theory, "Hector" was in vogue for dogs in the mid-to-late 19th century, and the expression refers to the long past puppyhood of the family dog.
If this theory is true, it would discredit other suggestions that the expression was coined later by W.C. Fields or by the creator of a comic strip popular in the 1920s, "Polly and Her Pals."
It may be that one or both of these humorists was simply the vehicle for popularizing an expression already in existence. "Since Hector was a pup" may also have been a favorite expression of poet and dog-lover Ogden Nash, who works a variation on it in these lines:
"She seems to pant, time up, time up!
My little dog must die,
and lie in dust with Hector's pup;
So presently must I."

Friday, November 16, 2007

so proud of my hector!

I have to brag about my wonderful dog, and how great I handled a potential panic-attack situation!!

So, I stupidly accepted a vet appointment for 5:15 pm tonight. Bad idea since the vet's office is on the main highway called "Route 9" (the old Boston Post Road for any of you historians out there), and very heavy work traffic at 5:00-ish.

It was pouring rain, and already dark by the time I left the house with Hector in the car. I decided to leave my eyeglasses at home even though I have a hard time seeing at night, and especially in the rain with that glare, but the other challenge is walking the dog with glasses on... my glasses make me a little dizzy, and Hector pulls so I was afraid I'd fall down and the glasses would smash into my face.

So, perfect setup for a panic attack:

1) Having to take Hector somewhere where there will be other dogs (and cats)
2) Pouring rain
3) Pouring rain in the dark
4) 5:00 work traffic on Route 9
5) Route 9 itself, which I avoid like the plague at all costs
6) Having to make it to an appointment on time
7) Driving on very dark back roads which are under construction and heavy work traffic to get to Route 9

I made it all the way to Route 9 which is about 10 minutes from my house on awful back roads. As soon as I get to the set of traffic lights where I need to turn right to go to the vet's office, there is a HUGE accident in the middle of the intersection, police blue lights flashing, cars backed up for miles. I'm early, but now I'm thinking "I'm gonna be late" and then, "That could've been ME" Yep, somebody ended up with our worst nightmare: a car crash, in the middle of a busy intersection on route 9 in the dark at rush hour in the pouring rain.

I get to the vet's office, and we are 15 minutes early. I see a person with another dog go inside ahead of us. I do not want to encounter them, so I park in the back of the building. I calmly take Hector out of the car and we go for a little walk. Remember, it's dark, and pouring rain. I have to make sure I have my keys, credit card, and his papers from the previous vet because I've changed vets since the last time he had shots. Hector and I walk around in the back parking lot for a while, and we're getting soaked and he does his "business" (thank goodness).

I go back to the car, and realize we've still got 10 minutes to kill, and I don't want to encounter the other patient (dog). So, we get back in the car, I start it up to turn on some heat, and I sit there and read the newspaper which happens to be on the floor of the car. I decide I am going to go inside at 5:14 exactly. I read until 5:14. Then, I gather my keys, credit card, papers, put them in my pocket, grab the dog, and we walk up to the building.
Yippee! The waiting room is empty!

The ladies greet us and everybody ooohs and aaaahs over Hector because he is so handsome and so goofy all at the same time.

We sit down after we weigh him, and he's had some treats. As we're heading to the waiting area, a customer comes out of the exam room with a German Shepherd Dog. Hector and the dog sniff each other, but no problems ensue. This is remarkable, if you know Hector. He usually goes nuts when he sees another dog.

A minute later, a man, and a young boy of about 11 years old, and an elderly woman come in with a Yellow Lab/Mix who is shaking and all three of the people are freaking out. The dog has no collar on and the boy is holding the collar and leash in his hand, saying, "It's not my fault. It was an accident." What happened was, the dog pulled so hard that it broke its collar and was loose in the parking lot with no collar, no leash, during rush-hour on Route 9. (Our second worst nightmare, those of us who own dogs). The grandmother assures the boy that everyone knows it's not his fault, the dog is safe now, and they are amazed that the dog ran in to the office instead of out into traffic! The man is holding the dog on the ground and trying to tell it to calm down, but the man is shaking so badly the entire family is petrified. The grandmother tries to fix the collar (a flimsy prong collar made for a chihuahua, not a Lab!). As I'm watching this, I am amazed that Hector is within 12 inches of this dog and could care less. He is just totally relaxed and calm, and so am I!

As grandmother fails to fix the collar, I offer the advice of taking the leash and looping it thru the handle, thus making a collar and leash combo out of the leash. They all smile at me, toss away the broken collar, and do as I suggested. Everyone breathes a heavy sigh of relief.

Just then, a little baby Chocolate Lab comes in with its owner. Of course, the puppy greets everyone, and everybody is ooohing and aaahhing again. Once again, Hector sniffs noses with the pup but doesn't cause a ruckus like he's been known to do. The perfect gentleman, he just sits quietly beside me.

We get called into the exam room, and Hector gets fussed over by two assistants and the vet himself. Hector gets his shots, and off we go.

When we get back into the waiting area, there are two more dogs. Again, Hector either ignores or just sniffs and keeps walking.

After I pay the bill, two people come in with two CATS. One loose, being held in the owner's arms, the other in a crate. I tell Hector to sit, and we wait for the people to pass us before we proceed out the door. Hector again, the perfect gentleman, he almost didn't even care that there were two cats in the room!!

I was so happy, I actually did one of those skip-jump things like you see on TV as we were jogging through the parking lot on our way back to the car!!! and I think I even let out a little WHOOP!! LOLOL I was so proud of Hector, I smothered him with kisses when we got inside the car! ROFL

Wait, there's more... afterwards, I went to WAL MART to get dog food and some food for us people! WOW!!! and guess what? No panic attack!!!! (that's the same Wal Mart where I had the bad one a month or two ago)

I am so proud of Hector for being so well-behaved, and of me for not having a PA!!!!!


Thursday, November 1, 2007


Coming soon! On we will host a forum for dog enthusiasts as well as a place where each forum member can create their own Dog Blog!! Should be up 'n' running in a few days! Stay tuned!!

In the meantime, if you are a person with fibromyalgia, or know anyone who has fibromyalgia who might be interested in my forum on my other web site ( please send them my way!

Here is the URL:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

New photos

Just wanted to share these. Hector at the top of the stairs, and a rainbow in my backyard.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

tori does beantown

The show was awesome!! Tori came out dressed as Pip (photos here are from the actual show I attended!), and did several songs, then she went offstage costume changed to Tori.

I downloaded the show from! She played 25 songs.

Miss Massachusetts was in the audience, and Tori did an improv song to Miss Massachusetts. It was hilarious!

Pip played: Cruel, Bliss, Fat Slut, Smokey Jo, Teenage Hustling (awesome!!), and Waitress.

Then Tori came out and did Professional Widow, Big Wheel, Crucify, Conertina, Cornflake Girl, a very emotional rendition of Putting the Damage On, Take to the Sky, Jackie's Strength (OMG so good!), Etienne (a song I'd never heard before ? I'm shocked at that one!), Virginia, Hotel, Code Red, Precious Things. (Oh, and in the middle there she did the Miss Massachusetts thing).

She said goodbye, then came back and did Digital Ghost.

Said goodbye again and came back again and did Bouncing off Clouds and Hey Jupiter.

(so cool that I have the playlist and can recount everything!!! I never would've remembered!)

Afterwards people were talking about how they were blown away that she did 25 songs!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Doggie In The Window videos

Look, I made a little video of my dogs set to Patti Page's "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?" and added it to my video list on You Tube. For some reason, every time I look at my blog page, it shows all these other videos set to the same tune, not mine! To see mine, please click your "refresh" button, and my videos will appear. Jeesh, you'd think in the 21st Century, they'd be able to get this right!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tori Amos concert next week!

One week from tonight, Susan and I go to see Tori Amos play in Boston! I can hardly wait! Tori is the most inspirational, phenomenal, outrageous and beautifully talented musician, singer, songwriter and pianist of our time. In my quite-biased opinion.

I posted some videos on my blog last week from You Tube. I was so thrilled to find this episode of VH1 Storytellers from 1998. It was the first time I'd ever seen Tori perform "live" (well, on TV!). I was absolutely mesmerized by her. I had been listening to her records for several years, but never had I seen her perform. I was entranced and enchanted. It changed my life forever. Of particular note was her performance of the song "Father Lucifer". I was over the moon last week when I found this on You Tube. I played it over and over. It is just beautiful.

Well, to my chagrin and extreme annoyance and disappointment, somehow this video of "Father Lucifer" is "no longer available" on You Tube. Why? All of the other clips are still available. I am truly devastated at the second loss of this great televised performance.

What I would give to have a VHS or DVD of this episode of VH1 Storytellers. If anyone has it, contact me privately at

Monday, October 1, 2007

October 1st - 23 years in student travel!

The entire state of Massachusetts used area code 617, and dial-up speeds of 300 baud were considered fast. In fact, nobody else even had dial-up, or new what a "baud rate" was, except us!
How amazing that twenty-three years have passed since I started my first job in the student travel business: October 1, 1984. I was 24 years old, married, going to college and travel-agent-training full-time. I needed to get a full-time second-shift job since the collection agency would not let me go back to full-time (I had reduced my hours to part-time a year before). I was putting my then-husband through college at the prestigiuos Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and, well, one of us had to earn a steady paycheck. That one would turn out to be me, and the resentment that ensued would be the reason for the dissolution of our marriage shortly thereafter.

I kind of fell into my career in student travel by accident and karmic coincidence.

I started job hunting, and responded to one of those ads in the newspaper classifieds that read "Send resume to Box X, Worcester Telegram and Gazette bla bla bla" An unknown company needed a second-shift person to operate their IBM System 36 computer system -- a system I had operated for four years at Associated Credit (Worcester's premiere collection agency) and at Easy Day/Suburbanite in Framingham (the household cleaning product manufacturer), for four years prior to that.

I mailed my resume to the T&G, and received a call practically the next day. It was Charlene Flannery, asking me to come in for an interview, to a travel company located at the Worcester Airport. The company's name was ALSG (American Leadership Study Groups) the first of the "alphabet-soup" stutrav companies, and owned by one "Gilmartin" (as my friends in Worcester erroneously referred to Gil Markle). "Gilmartin" was more well-known for having brought the Rolling Stones to Worcester two years earlier, in 1982, and owned the countryside recording studio Long View Farm. He also owned ALSG.

Flannery hired me practically on-the-spot, and introduced me to Gil Markle during the interview. When Gil and I shook hands and smiled politely, "Nice to meet you," there was a spark of electricity which I vehemently denied at the time, but was irrefutably love at first sight on both our parts. On my first night of work, I called my former co-worker, Jeannie, at the collection agency and whispered into the phone, "His name isn't Gilmartin, it's Gil Markle. Gil is his first name." as Gil himself walked around the corner and heard me, and I quickly ended the call.

I started work on that October 1st. Whether that was a Monday, just like today, I can't recall, but it probably was. My job, exactly as it was at Associated and at Easy Day, was to operate the large System 36 CPU, run backups, run reports and do data entry, and work a modified second-shift from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm. I arrived practically fully trained, plus I was going to school for travel and tourism. If this was not fate waving its mighty hand, I don't know what was. It was as if the job were tailor-made just for me.

Flannery stationed me at a desk at the far end of the mailroom which everyone called "The Bowling Alley" -- a long corridor just inside the exit door from ALSG's offices to the main terminal of the deserted Worcester Airport. I was completely isolated from the rest of the "DP" (data processing) staff, except for the computer programmer who would sit at the desk next to me once a week. At 5:00 pm, when the other DP girls would go home, I would move to their area and run reports, do backups and all the data entry they'd left behind.

My DP colleagues would complain when Flannery and her cohort Debbie Condon were out of earshot, saying it was very unfair that I was kept apart from the rest of the team. To make matters worse, because I worked a second shift (same shift as the sales staff) I was doubly-isolated because the sales department would never include me in their social events or business meetings. I was a lone worker, sitting in my little booth down at the end of the bowling alley by day, and inside the roaring computer room by night.

Each day, around 3:00 pm, Gil Markle would make his trek from his cavernous, plant-filled executive office to the airport lounge and bar. As he walked by my cubicle, he would always stop and say hello. We were both painfully shy, and the conversation basically amounted only to "hi" with a smile, and that darned electricity between us every time. In the evenings, before he went home to Long View Farm, he would stop in the computer room and visit me. He liked to sneak up on me when I was in the middle of those roaring machines and scare the living daylights out of me. He wore sneakers, and was always very silent. I'd be engrossed in a sales report and I'd look up from the report and he'd be standing within ONE INCH of me, reading over my shoulder! I would jump and exclaim, "Ugh! You scared the shit outta me!" and then I would laugh, and he would keep a poker face. On his way out to various trips he would take, he'd always visit my desk and tell me where he was going. And when he returned, I think I was the first person in the office he'd visit.

ALSG was ahead of its time. We had the internet in 1984. Gil owned another subdivision of ALSG called modemcity, and we had email and people could login and set up an account with a credit card. There were chat rooms and bulletin boards, long before that became the norm. I "met" people from all over the world on modemcity. And Gil and I started writing each other love letters by email. Or, as we called it at the time "modem mail". Gil was smart enough to keep and archive those emails, which we still have today. It's great looking back at them, and even the business emails still exist, which are often times hilarious.

Gil wrote the following poem, which I always figured was about me! See his footnotes at the bottom of the page after you click here:

The photo of me on my profile here on was taken in 1986, and I'm standing beside the modems and the large "Vax" computer that drove modemcity, and which I co-operated for many years. The series of photos taken that day include the one at the head of this blog posting, which would soon appear in Worcester Business Digest, accompanying an article about Gil and modemcity.

During another interview, Gil made mention of the little pink "While You Were Out" slips, and, for effect, crumpled one up and tossed it across the room, claiming that the paper office would one day be obsolete. It was only this year, 2007, when we came to that reality, now scanning almost all of our office documents instead of keeping paper files. Twenty-two years later!

We moved the Vax, the System 36, and all of ALSG's employees, equipment and furniture out of Worcester Airport in 1986 and in to the old Sibley's Neighbor restaurant in Spencer. And, we've been there ever since. Except ALSG eventually got sold, moved to Boston, and went out of business in short order in June of 1993.

The reincarnation of ALSG, passports, began in 1992, a year prior to ALSG's demise, and is still going strong today. Stronger than ALSG ever was, in fact.

I'm now Vice President of U.S. Operations at passports. Every day, I still do backups, operate computers (although they no longer take up the space of an entire room!), and still do the same data entry tasks I did back then. Plus wear a thousand other hats, including supervising and managing up to 50 people, with a lot of help from my senior colleagues.

And Gil and I still send each other love-letter emails.

It's been an amazing 23 years, and it went by in the snap of a finger. No two days are ever the same, and I am never, ever bored. Gil and I have stayed together through it all, and are more in love today than we were then. The electricity is still there. We make a great team.

One time, on a long-distance motorcoach filled with 50 passports clients and about 10 employees, a client asked us each to go up to the microphone and talk about how we got our start in student travel. Without exception, each and every one of us said, "I kinda got into student travel quite by accident." and then proceeded to tell our stories. There are no coincidences. It's been a wild ride.

Monday, September 10, 2007

In Memory of John2

Saturday, we had the memorial party in honor and memory of our dear friend John Farrell. I called John "John2" (say with a French accent "jean-tu"!) because both of our computer names at ALSG and Long View Farm ended in the number 2. I'm kathy2 and he was john2. We called each other brother and sister because we had the same "last name" LOL. I often would call him up and greet him with "Brother John?!" when he answered the phone.

Some background history: John and his life-partner Geoff met Gil in the mid-1960s down in Truro. They hit it off, and Gil offered them both work at Long View Farm where they lived and worked for a couple of decades. They re-built Long View when Gil purchased the property from an elderly lady. Meaning, they designed and renovated the whole inside of the two buildings, put recording studios in and everything -- you name it from soup to nuts they did it. They also re-built/renovated the building that now houses Passports, which is a building almost identical to Long View (white farmhouse and red barn).

John was a very talented singer, songwriter and a fabulous chef and avid gardener. He was one of the funniest people I've ever met in my life. He would have you cracking up laughing within one second of being with him, and the laughter would continue all day long. He did all the cooking at Long View for all the various musicians that used to stay and record there. And all the time he was cooking, he'd be singing. It was such a shame that he died of cancer of the larynx and lungs. He couldn't speak for the last two years of his life, let alone sing. A real tragedy. And he was far too young at 60 years old. After all, he'd tell you himself that 60 is the new 40!

(continued below, after photos)

K2 & Vincenzo

K2, Gil & Moe

Gil & Moe: A Tradition, what's a party without a photo of Gil and Moe!?

Jubilee and Abby (Jubilee is 19 years old! I call her
Jumpin' Jahoozabee because she used to jump so high!)

Brother Bill and Scott. That's our building behind

Geoffrey, sitting at one of the built-in desks he
created in 1986. Another is behind him. He also
installed the bay windows.

K2, Sue and Tacke (the "church lights" behind us
were chosen by John2 in 1986 when a local church
was being renovated and they were selling their used
light fixtures. Whenever I turn the church lights on or off,
I think of John.)

John and Geoff had a somewhat well-known band in the area called "Fragile and the Eggs". You can find all of their stuff on Gil's website ( just search "John Farrell" in the Media Library section of the web site.

Watching John perform in some of the videos is priceless. He was a great performer, but I guess I'm a little biased!! We played the videos on three plasma screens all day Saturday.

Around the time that Gil and I left the farm, John and Geoff moved to Florida and retired.
Geoff is an artist (painter and sculptor), and a lot of his work is sold in Provincetown. They owned a vacation home in North Truro up until about 4 years ago when John started getting sick they sold it. I went down to Florida to visit them about a year after John was diagnosed with cancer. I'm so glad I went. I almost cancelled the trip because... yes.... I had a fibro-flare. I flew down there in horrible pain, which lasted throughout my visit. I'm so glad I went because it was one of the last times I saw him. He came up here that summer to visit, but he was so sick by then, it was difficult for him to be away from home.

What a wonderful day Saturday was. The party was perfect, perfect, perfect. Even the relentless thunderstorms that started halfway through the (outdoor) party were perfect, and we figured they were sent special delivery from John himself! We hadn't had ANY rain in 7 weeks, so it was actually welcome, and everyone stayed outside even though they could've gone indoors whenever they wanted!

It was more like a reunion than a memorial service, and we planned it that way on purpose. There were people there that I hadn't seen in years and years, and some I never met before. John was the heart and soul of Long View. He and Geoff lived there full-time and John was really the glue that held the place together.

Gil and Dave have been working on videos and audio during the year since John died (he died Aug 29, 2006), in preparation for this event.

It was John who, in the past, would organize the kind of party we threw this weekend in his memory.

Guests came from out of state, and even from other countries. Gil somberly noted, in his eulogy, that some of them hadn't seen each other in 20 years, and may never see each other ever again if the same time pattern continues. During the eulogy the lightning was so vivid, and the thunder so loud and incredible, as we all huddled under a huge canopy in the pouring rain and laughed because we knew that John had sent the thunderstorms to us! When Gil passed the microphone to Geoff, Geoff said very few words, but they were heartwarming and we were all crying. Geoff and John were together for 42 years! They were the first committed gay couple I ever met, and we became very close and dear friends.

We had the videos of John with his own music as the soundtrack set up on a constant loop on three plasma screens in our office building (which John and Geoff re-designed and renovated in the mid 80s when Gil bought the property) and the video ran repeatedly all day, and people would go inside and sit for a while and laugh and cry and reminisce.

The food, which we had catered, was excellent. Our office building is located at a horribly dangerous intersection, so we hired a town cop for the day to do traffic detail. The last of the guests left at about 11:00, and we had two of our employees stay behind to provide building security. Gil and I stayed up really late watching video footage that I and two other people had shot throughout the event.

Traffic detail cop and Lupo, videographer extraordinaire!

What a week it's been!!! I had no houseguests after all, so now I have a spotlessly clean house! Bonus!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hobie 'n' Hector meet Monty!!

Mike called tonight to ask if he could come by and intro his puppy, Monty, to Hobie and Hector.
I of course said yes right away. We had already planned in advance that he would walk up to the fence from the outside and let them sniff and we'd take it from there. If Hobie and Hector were good, we'd bring Monty inside the yard.Well, my dogs were perfect angels!

First, while I was waiting for Mike and Monty to walk over from their house, I picked up all the toys of value and their rawhide bones, any food, etc. I put everything away in the closet and left two boring tennis balls (there is diff between tennis balls if you ask Hector. There are the boring kind and the high-value kind. The high-value kind got put away in the closet).

Then, my dogs and I walked around inside the fence together. I picked up dog doo-doos and they just hung around and were VERY relaxed. I was so proud because I have just started taking my new anti-anxiety meds so I was relaxed and it obviously translated to the dogs. We had about a 10-15 minute wait. And while we were waiting, all of the dogs in the neighborhood were announcing Monty's arrival. It was so funny! I could tell where they were on the walking route by which dog was barking (yes, you can recognize their voices!).

Mike and Monty approached the fence, and it was delightful. This little puppy, so cute, and my dogs were just perfect gentlemen. I told Mike to bring Monty in through the HOUSE, so we all went back up to the house -- Mike and Monty in front, and me and my dogs in the back. We all entered the house simultaneously from the back door and the front door (this was unplanned) and they greeted in the kitchen. Then, we all went into the back yard together. I had Mike carry Monty down the stairs. He's still a bit small for stairs!

We let him off-leash and they had a ball! They were sniffing like crazy, and then running and leaping and running, running, running. Hobie, the one we were most worried about, was actually almost "motherly" towards Monty. He was just so wonderful with the puppy. I was so proud of him. Hector was a little bit stimulated and tried to mount this little dog a few times and after the meeting was so over-exerted it took him over an hour to stop panting! But all in all, he did very well. He and Monty have almost the same markings so it was so delightful seeing a mini version of Hector running alongside of the big doofus!

They were very gentle with Monty. I noticed that they allowed Monty to be the leader. It was not really like they were chasing Monty, it was more like they were FOLLOWING Monty. They moved as a pack, at a slow trot. It was awesome! But then, Monty would lie down and flip over and show his stomach very submissive. It was just a great, great experience and I am SOOOO happy.

Afterwards when Mike got home he called me and we talked about it for 10 minutes! We were both very happy that it was such a successful meeting. Now the ice is broken, and I don't have to worry. Oh, and did I mention how proud I am of my boys?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cat attack!!

Wait'll you hear what happened on this morning's walk.

I had watched "Greta and Hoss" on DW last night -- every time that episode is on I point at the screen and go "That's me!" Hoss does exactly what Hobie does on walks. I noticed that when another dog approached, Cesar did make the people STOP, make the dogs sit and calm down, and then continue walking. I can't imagine how that is done without incident, but that's definitely what he trained them to do! Hopefully I can master that one day!

I decided to take a friend's advice and use the prong collars this morning. Thank goodness I did because they definitely gave me a (little) more control over the dogs. My goal was to walk them over to the other road so they could hopefully meet Mike's new puppy. But, in order to do that, we have to walk up three dead-end dirt roads: mine, another one, and then Mike's. My street is good because they know everybody; the other street is deserted (no houses) so there are no problems there; Mike's road is very populated and lots of pets. But I noticed that there were very few cars in the driveways, it being Saturday morning and "tax-free weekend" here in Mass, everybody is probably out shopping. Hooray! It would be an easy walk!

Not so fast. I made it to Ralph's house (this is the dog-hater -- his property abutts mine but he lives on the other road -- same road as Mike, only further down). I didn't see the cat snoozing in the brush, but the dogs sure smelled her. They zoomed to the left and then I realized there was a cat! Thinking back, I realize that the dogs were perfectly fine, it was only when I said "NO!" that things started to escalate. Darn it!!! But those prong collars sure came in handy. The dogs were straining at the leashes and I figured out that because I'm so short I have a low center of gravity and I could feel that I was about to go down on the ground face first. So, instead of letting them pull me down, I SAT down deliberately! !! If anyone had looked out their window at this point, heaven only knows what they would've thought! (Meanwhile, my house, which is RIGHT THERE? Well, Gil is home all right, but he has the music on FULL BLAST so he can't hear the ruckus. Hobie is barking, Hector is whining, and I'm saying "NO!" in as calm a voice as I can muster). I do feel bad because I shouldn't have been pulling CONSTANTLY on those prong collars. I know they're only supposed to be used for "snap" corrections, but I didn't know what else to do. I was terrified that if I let go, the cat would run, they'd chase her, and kill her. And, in hindsight, I should've just kept walking instead of stopping and sitting down on the ground!

It gets better. All of a sudden, the cat springs into action and she rears up on her haunches and starts PUNCHING the dogs and hissing at them! Between this, and me sitting on the ground and foot-tapping the dogs' legs so that their feet keep going out from under them, the dogs completely calmed down. I said, out loud, "Everyone has to calm down!" and I looked in Hobie's eyes. After all I was sitting on the ground, and so was he. And I did not see a killer. I saw curiosity, love, and beauty.

Once they were completely calm, I stood up, dusted myself off (it had rained so the dirt road was all MUD!), and decided not to go to Mike's but to turn around and go home. As we started walking back down the road from whence we came, the cat started to trot after us. I looked at her, and she was so darned cute! And I thought, "Aw, isn't that sweet, she's walking with us!"

WRONG!!! She trotted up to us, and stood on her hind legs and started punching the dogs and hissing!!! It was amazing and hilarious. It was all I could do not to laugh, but at the same time I was scared it would make the dogs escalate again. Instead of continuing down the road, I made the radical decision to cut through Ralph's yard (dog-hater) which brings me to the back gate of my yard in about 12 seconds. I made it inside the gate, having to tromp through thickets, thorns and hopefully not poison ivy. I entered first, made the dogs go in and then dropped the leashes. Then, I started to have what I think was an asthma attack or something! I don't have asthma, but I couldn't breathe and I was coughing. I guess it was probably panic attack, who knows! I walked around the yard to cool off. The dogs knew I was mad, they both sat in the shade FAR AWAY from me.

But at the same time I was fascinated by what that cat had done. Amazing.

Hey, if nothing else I'm good for a story or two!

Monday, August 6, 2007

"Hey, Lady!"

I just thought this was funny, and I had to memorialize it someplace.

This is as good a place as any.

I was pulling out of a parking lot today, and stopped at the end to look both ways before I made a right turn toward home. Coming at me from my right was a huge dump truck, and it was maneuvering around a family walking five-abreast on the road. Thus, the truck was in the wrong lane. And so, I waited, and kept my eye on that truck as it careened toward me in the wrong lane.

I suppose it must have looked, to a woman riding a bicycle coming from the left, as though I was going to pull out -- which would've been really stupid since there was a truck in my lane, going the wrong way. Bicycle-riding-woman was coming from my left, right up alongside my car, and she and her four companions were apparently not worried about the large Mack truck heading their way in the wrong lane, but were instead worried about me because I hadn't (yet) looked to my left to see if anyone was coming.

I, of course, learned from my mother, Mook, many years ago "head on a swivel" when pulling out of anywhere. What Mook meant by that was to turn my head back-and-forth several times before moving forward in an automobile. In England they say, "Look Left!" (because they drive on the "wrong" side of the road). And, being one to always be extra-super-duper careful, I was simply sitting and waiting for the truck to go by and then I was going to start my head-on-a-swivel, which eventually would've meant turning my head to the left, then back to the right, then left again, right, left, right until I was satisfied that it was safe to proceed.

"Hey, LADY!" Bicycle-riding-woman hollered as she passed close by the front of my car, four companions close at her heels on their own bikes. I hadn't looked left, so I hadn't seen them (yet) but I think she thought I was just an absent-minded old lady. Those thoughts went through my brain rapid-fire, and instead of glaring at her, I just smiled. As she rode past, she said, "I just wanted to make sure you saw us!" and then all five of them waved. I pulled out behind them, real, real slow, and stayed way back until they turned up the bike path 100 yards away. As they turned, and I drove past them, they all waved again.

It was the first time anybody ever yelled, "Hey, Lady!" directed at me.

"OMG," I thought, "I have become 'lady.' That word. It's connotation, "Old hag." "Lady!" the very sound of it like something that smells bad.

"Hey! Lady!" Jerry Lewis.

Stephen King's "Hitchhiker" ("Thanks for the ride, Lady.")

"Jeez, Lady, watch where you're goin'!"

"Ugh! LAAAADY!!!" as some gray-haired woman cuts you off in traffic.

"Hey, Lady! Wake up!"

"Hey! Lady! Pay attention!"

But it was none of those things. It was Smart Lady, waiting for the truck to pass before moving into traffic.

Monday, July 23, 2007

massachusetts legislators take a bite out of lyme

Today, Massachusetts legislators announced a proposal by Rep. Jennifer Callahan of Worcester that would result in a special facility, possibly located right here in Worcester (!!) devoted to educating health professionals about chronic Lyme disease which is often undiagnosed and untreated. Here is a news article on the topic, which was announced just one hour ago.

In addition, here is an article written about three weeks ago regarding the controversy over chronic Lyme diagnosis, and the difficulties patients like me often encounter in trying to geta diagnosis.

This, along with the recognition of Fibromyalgia by the FDA just last month, is fantastic news for people like me who have been living with these bizarre and annoying symptoms for many years with no diagnosis.As you know, I've long suspected that I may have chronic Lyme disease. I was tested for Lyme by a reluctant physician in 2004 when I first developed chronic fatigue, pain and other symptoms consistent with Lyme (as well as MS, fibromyalgia, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and several other syndromes). That test came back negative. This is a common problem with chronic Lyme because only one testing lab in the U.S. is equipped to properly test blood samples for the presence of the Borelia bacteria in the blood. If your test doesn't get sent to that lab (and most don't), and you don't have the telltale "bull's-eye" rash, then your test comes back negative and you're told you don't have Lyme. This is more than a common occurrence, and part of the focus of Ms. Callahan's proposal.I have been exposed to ticks constantly due to my interactions with my dogs as well as the frequency of my visits to Cape Cod. Ticks are also rampant in Worcester County as well. The way I figure it, if I don't have Lyme disease, it would be a miracle! While I have, to my knowledge, not seen the typical bull's-eye rash, I have often found ticks on myself, although I am not aware specifically of an actual bite. I check myself and my dogs for ticks constantly, and I'm more than vigilant about doing so. We are over-run with ticks here on Cape Cod, and it's not unusual to find one crawling up my leg! The dogs, who often sleep with me, are always loaded with ticks. I spend a good part of our post-walk routine picking ticks off everybody.Since neurologists are the specialists most often dealing with chronic Lyme, it is more than ironic that these two newsworthy developments would occur just days before my upcoming introductory appointment with a neurologist.I intend to discuss both issues with her: Lyme and Fibromyalgia.Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

k2 announces k2k9 group on Yahoo Groups!

Having been a member of several Yahoo groups over the last year or so, and always being a natural-born leader, I wanted to have a group to call my own.

Click here to join k2k9
Click to join k2k9

When I started searching Yahoo Groups I was astonished to learn that there are over 50,000 groups in the "dogs" category.

Wanting to make my group stand out in a crowd, I knew I'd have to come up with something unique, original and upbeat.

As the proud owner of two dogs when I was a child (Sam, a wonderful old howling Beagle; and Fritz, the scariest dog in the whole neighborhood --a German Shepherd Dog that my brother had gotten when he was a recruit at the police academy), I knew the special challenges that came with owning a pack of dogs.

I was fortunate enough to spend the lion's share of my adulthood with my most loyal friend and companion, Timba, a black Labrador Retriever who lived to the ripe old age of 18 (that's about the equivalent of a 125-year-old human). She died when I was 41 years old, and at the time I knew her longer than I'd known most people, including my sweetheart,Gil.

Shortly before Timba's death, I adopted Hobie, a yellow Lab/Shepherd mix who instantly took on the role of the love of my life, but not the well-behaved "perfect" dog that Timba had always been. Nevertheless,Timba actually taught Hobie many things, and when she passed away that sad day on Memorial Day weekend in 2001, I was ready to have Hobie takeover Timba's job.

But a very interesting thing happened. One September 4, 2001, exactly one week before "9/11", my dear friend Nancy announced that her daughter's dog, Oreo, had just given birth to a litter of black Lab-mix puppies. Missing Timba like crazy, and having such a good time raisingHobie, I decided I'd take a puppy when they were ready.

When 9/11 hit, it was like a ton of bricks to me personally. You see,I work in the travel business in a specialized "niche" market, and the terrorist attack hit our business hard.

Sad and depressed, I started visiting the puppies at Nancy's farm everyFriday afternoon. Hobie actually picked out the pup we would eventually take home: Hector, a black Lab/Coonhound mix who howled from the moment we put him in our car one November afternoon, and hasn't stopped howling since! I describe my Hector as "the nicest dog in the world." He hasn't got a mean bone in his body, and I often wishI could draw cartoons because he'd be a perfect cartoon character! If you watch Hector's antics for a while, you can see what kind of canine must have inspired the creators of Pluto, Snoopy, Marmaduke, and all the other cartoon dogs!

But soon after Hector and Hobie, who are both male and very close in age, reached adolescence, I also reached my mid-40s. I would never change a thing in the world (except my leadership skills, which are often weak)! Having two dogs is often challenging, difficult and exhausting, but at the same time rewarding, fun, joyous and did I mention exhausting!?

It is that which perhaps sets this group apart from others. I want to hear from others who live in multi-dog households. Whether you feel outnumbered, or want your pack to grow to epic proportions, we can help each other grow and have some fun doing it.

Before I sign off, I have two requests:

1) Please refrain from personal attacks or flaming of any kind.

2) Do not ever say anything bad about Cesar Millan here. Go do that somewhere else. Bashing of the Dog Whisperer is not allowed.

Violators of either of these rules will be removed from the group without additional warning.

Now, claim that gate, come on in (in front of your dog)!

Welcome to K2's Dog Park!

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

dog whisperer week in review

I spent every single night this week watching Dog Whisperer, riveted to the TV and even rewinding the DVR to watch some parts over and over. The show was run in a marathon format since it's on hiatus, and we fans need our "fix"!

Gil was away at the Cape, and I am back at home, so I had the whole house to myself and was able to watch it without his complaints or comments (he likes DW, but gets annoyed at the "marathons").

I learned SO MUCH even though I have seen the episodes so many times before (except for the two new ones). The show is so inspiring for me. Every night when I finished watching (sometimes I'd let the repeats run while I was sleeping lol)I would be so PSYCHED to take my dogs for a walk, but of course it being 11 pm I couldnt lol.

But the next day I would take what I learned and use it. I can't believe how many new things I learned, even from episodes where I thought it wouldn't apply to me. Like last night was the "Desert Bulldogs" episode. I've seen that 50 times before. But when the Cocker Spaniel ran to the fence and the other two dogs followed and Cesar explained that he had to correct them at thefence, and then let them go away from the fence, something clicked in my brain. That's why the dogs keep charging the fence -- because I'm not correcting them and calming them down at the fence! I have so much trouble at the Cape because we're on a public walking route, and everyone walks their dogs past our house. My dogs have no problem with dogs they KNOW (like at home, it's only dogs we KNOW that walk by). But the UNKNOWN dogs? Fergit it!! My dogs go berserk. I now know exactly what to do,and I can't wait to go back there and try it again. Thanks to Cesar!! That's just ONE example of what I learned.

Another thing was repeating over and over and over until you get the right results. I would try to get Hector to go down the stairs AFTER me, but if he didn't do it after one try, I'd just give in and follow him. I don't know why it took me watching these episodes 100 times beforeI realized that I have to stop on those stairs, bring the dog up again, and make him sit, and do it over and over until he stops trying to go first. What a revelation!! I did it today, and it only took three times and he "got" it!

Today, I walked my dogs in a completely different direction. I threw them for a loop because we always go on the same route every day.Or, lately I've been so frozen in fear that we go nowhere. Today,instead of taking a right at the end of the road and then doing "the safety zone walk", I went LEFT and went across the bridge over the lake. It's only a 5-minute walk, but that's ok because there are no other dogs and it was really hot out anyway. I had both leashes slack by my side and gathered them up holding them like a purse, instead of Hector running WAY out front, and Hobie being at my side. What a great walk we had! Every time Hector pulled, I corrected to the side or up, just like Cesar explains, to surprise the dog and keep him a little off-balance. It worked!!

What I need to do is watch Dog Whisperer every single day. I have not been this inspired in months. I'm going to set small goals each day, and go different routes to keep the dogs paying attention to me as leader.When we go back to the beach next week, I'm going to walk them up and down in the same 50-foot area in the public parking lot until I'm comfortable to go further -- back and forth, back and forth.

My ULTIMATE goal is to be able to walk them both, as a pack, safely on the beach with no problematic encounters and no angry humans. I AM going to do this. It may take years, but with the inspiration of Cesar I know I can do it. I'll just pop the DVD in and watch it,even if it's an episode I've seen 100 times who cares? I can't wait 'til Season 2 comes out on DVD, so I'll have more material to inspire me.

Well, I am so psyched right now. I hope I can continue this positive mindset, and not go back to my anxiety-attack state. BTW, fans of DW: don'tcha just LOVE the episode with A.J. that lady who has the Panic Attacks? That is one of my favorites (and obviously a lot of other people's since it was on fan-favorite night!). And wasn't it cool to see her in the new episode at the nursing "hotel"? I had mixed feelings, that woman inspires me so much, but at the same time I felt the other lady with the two little dogs had a bit of an "in" with Cesar because of the connection. Oh well, whatever works I guess. Good for her!!

And of course they played my favorite, favorite episode which is at the beginning of Katrina Dogs Part 2 -- Major Jones. I LOVE that segment with the older woman and her GSD Major Jones. I cry everytime I see it. That woman is truly an inspiration to us all.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

doggie backpack!

Hi everybody!

We finally fenced in our yard at the Cape. This is where,about a month ago, my dogs got into YET ANOTHER incident. A fight with the neighbor's little Beagle (see posting "dog fight!" below).

Between that, and my being dragged down on the ground by these guys at least a half-dozen times down here by the beach, it was no longer feasible to be walking on-leash as my ONLY option.

Last week, my best girlfriend fell while walking her dog and broke her arm and got 9 stitches in her forehead. Her dog is the most well-behaved, mellow, relaxed dog I have EVER known. He is 9 years old or so. What happened was, a cat crept out from under a bush and walked right under his nose sort of "taunting" him, and he lunged. My friend was looking in the other direction, and didn't let go of the leash until it was too late. I can't tell you how many times this kind of thing has happened to me, and I am damn lucky that I have only had minor injuries, considering that I'm walking two 80-lb dogs, and I never let go ofthe leashes for fear of traffic or ticking off some human!! Thus, I have been dragged, on my face/stomach, several times.

Back to the fence. So, I put the dogs in the yard when we arrived here the other day, after taking a very brief 5 minute walk. They were SO relaxed, I've never seen them so calm here. They usually are tied up on long ropes in the yard, or have to stay indoors, or walked on leash, so all that pent-up energy had nowhere to go. Now that they can walk around in the yard, they are like different dogs.

On Friday, the satellite installation took place and we finally have high-speed internet. It took NINE hours, and we have this hideous dish in our yard, which detracts from the 1950s "beachy" feel of the place, but not so bad now that I've had a few days to get used to it! lol. Well, having the yard fenced in, the dogs hung out all day with the guy who was doing the install. They did not bark at him, not even once, upon his arrival. They slept all day, and that was without a walk. It wasn't hot, so that wasn't the reason they were so relaxed, they just were relaxed. They were able to go in and out of the house on their own, just like they do at home.

Bored out of my mind, I took them for a walk at 6 pm (the guy didn't finish until 8 pm!). On the walk, the dogs were insane. On the next morning's walk they were insane again. Later, I was working in the yard, and a woman walked by with a giant Schnauzer. My dogs barked ONCE. This is amazing. When they were tied up on ropes in the yard, they would go BERSERK when a dog walked by. They just let out one little "woof" apiece, walked calmly up to the fence, sniffed at the dog, followed it as far as they could from inside the fence, and then trotted back to me and laid down on the ground.

Cesar said on a recent episode (before the season ended) that it's ok to just walk a few minutes if that's all you can feel comfortable doing, and try to increase each day. He said if you can just walk to the next door neighbor's driveway and back, then that's all you can do and don't beat yourself up for it. I really feel that I am back to basics as far as walks go. I used to be such an expert, and fearless, until I started getting into all these scrapes (mainly with other HUMANS!!!). Now, I am a nervous wreck. Then, to top it all off my friend's incident happened, and another friend about 6 months ago fell walking her dog and broke her ankle in three places. It really makes me think how lucky I am that I haven't been seriously hurt with these two. It's important to also note that I suffer from a chronic fatigue and pain condition (as yet undiagnosed but I'mworking on it with the drs) and this creates challenges I never had in my life as a younger woman. I am no longer strong like I used to be, I'm very unsteady on my feet, I'm dizzy a lot of the time, andI'm always extremely exhausted, so it's unsafe to walk two big dogs on leash most of the time. Then, I fence in the yard, and the dogs are more calm than they've ever been their whole lives.

On my web site, I have a whole page entitled "The Importance ofWalking Your Dog". I totally agree with Cesar that dogs are meant to walk, and that we have to walk with them as a pack. I was doing that way before I ever heard of Cesar. My Timba and I were such a great team, we could walk without a leash. We'd walk several hours a day.When I adopted Hobie, it was for one and only one reason: Timba could no longer walk, and I needed a dog to walk with me (ok, I also fell in love with him when I saw him lol). I tell EVERYONE who has a new dog that they MUST walk the dog at least 20-60 minutes a day, if not more.But now, I've witnessed in my own life that all of my dog problems occur ON the walk, and that when I walk around the fenced yard with them (by the way, that's important to mention -- I walk with them inside the yard, I don't just toss them out there alone), they seemto be SO unbelievably calm. Friday, during the satellite installation, they were so calm and relaxed, I just couldn't believe it.

Am I crazy, ifI say that I think we are better off not walking as much right now?

I don't know, but today, I decided I'd put the backpack on Hector before our morning walk. We had encountered three dogs during Sunday morning's walk, and I'm just so stressed out over this. There are so many dogs here! Maybe the backpack will help to calm him down by giving him a job to do other than "protecting" us.

I didn't put any weight in the backpack, just empty water bottles and empty grocery bags for poop-pickup. Just putting the backpack on Hector calmed him down. It was amazing. We only walked for 10 minutes because the dogs started to get excited about something I couldn't see. Probably a wild animal in the woods, or a cat, I didn't wait around to find out. I turned around and went home. Just as we approached our house, the lady across the street was outside with her tiny dog walking up and down the barricaded end of the road. Had Hector not been wearing the backpack, he would've lunged and dragged me. But instead, his leash was slack, and I just gathered it up like a purse string, did the same with Hobie, who has always been more manageable, and jogged up and into our driveway, depositing the dogs into the car with a bribe of "we're goin' for a RIDE!" Off we went to get coffee, pastries, dog food and stamps.

When we returned, the lady was outside walking her dog still. I made Hobie and Hector get out of the car separately and put them into the fenced-in yard. Yay!! They're completely relaxed again today. I'm gonna keep using that backpack. Remember: it's almost always something the human is doing (or not doing)!! It's not the dog, it's the human!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

i love my dog

I love both of my dogs, but this essay is about Hobie.

I have discovered that poor Hobie is "unstable" as Cesar would define the dog. An unstable dog is not calm and balanced. An unbalanced dog is nervous, frightened, hyper and at times aggressive.

Hobie has a horrendous fear of fireworks and thunderstorms. Last Saturday night, the neighbors around the lake were at it again, lighting off dramatic homemade fireworks displays, complete with whirring, whistling colorful things that flew over our house and exploded into the night air. These are punctuated by "cherry-bomb" or M-80 firecrackers, the likes of which shake the entire house even though the person who exploded it was clear across the other side of the lake. The poor Canada geese squawk and fly away in terror, in the middle of the night, the poor things, and Hobie would like to join them if he could.

When the first "boom!" hit Saturday night, Hector stood up, looked out the screen door "on alert", decided everything was fine, and laid down and went to sleep for the rest of the night. Different story with Hobie. He proceeded to claw at us, and pant so hard that I thought he would have a heart attack. He could not find a proper place to hide, trying to crawl under the desk, then deciding that wasn't good enough, and trying to get me to go into the basement. Now, this last part is my fault. When he was a puppy, long before we had Hector, the two of us would go into the "bomb shelter" (the laundry room) and I'd sit and read a book in a lawn chair while he chilled out. I'd play music on a radio or something, and run the washing machine so he couldn't hear the fireworks. So, I have obviously "trained" poor Hobester to seek shelter in the laundry room. Only now, 7 years later, the laundry room is gross and dirty and wet and moldy. Someone accidentally threw away the lawn chairs, so there's nowhere to sit except if I'm lucky enough to be backlogged on laundry, in which case I can make a pile and sit on it. I decided to do just that on Saturday night. Hector laid down beside me and snoozed. Hobie paced and panted and hid behind the drying rack. It was hours later that he was finally calm enough to go to sleep, long after the neighbors had put away their toys for the evening.

During all of this, a surprising thing happened. I've been following the advice of Cesar Millan, who says never give your dog affection when it is upset. So, when Hobie is doing all of his neurotic behavior, I try to make him calm down by being a leader to him and not giving him affection. This means no patting or saying, "Awwww, honeeeeey, it's OK." stuff like that. Whereas I used to do nothing BUT affection, I have flip-flopped and rarely give my dog affection anymore, under any circumstances, until he's had his exercise and discipline. Most of the time is spent on discipline!

That night, Gil took Hobie, practically in his arms, and patted him and loved him and told him everything would be OK. Gil's not a fanatic follower of Cesar like I am, but he does like the guy and enjoys watching the show and read the book bla bla bla. What Gil did actually calmed Hobie down.

I was both amazed and sad all at the same time. For the first 6 years of his life, I kept Hobie from things, I didn't socialize him, I never allowed him any freedom from having a leash attached to his body. He became a frustrated dog. But the last year and a half, since I discovered "Dog Whisperer" I have once again kept Hobie from enjoying life, but in a different way. I have been his leader, and haven't shown him as much love as I probably should. This is by no means a reflection on Cesar Millan. I am still his biggest fan and supporter. It is my fault. As Cesar always says, the problem with dogs is always something the human is doing. The dog is just being a dog. How right he is. Once again, I have made mistakes.

So, I'm trying to get a good balance with Hobie now. I'm trying to be conscious of the fact that this dog, this wonderful dog with whom I fell in love at first sight, will not be with me forever. He is a great dog, and he deserves a balance of leadership and love, not a lifetime of saying "NO!" to him constantly. I feel like that's all I do these days, "No, Hobie. No. NO. NO!"

I'm going to try to be a better pet parent to my dog. To both of my dogs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

dog fight!

Last night, I did some really stupid things on my dog walk, and got into a tussle with YET ANOTHER neighbor.

I was at the Cape this weekend, and everyone blew outta there by 3:00 Monday afternoon. The place was deserted. Around 6:30, which is really late for us, I decided to take the dogs for a walk down our dirt road with just regular buckle leashes -- no choke collars (my first mistake). I always use choke collars there because I have better control and there are tons of dogs. But I figured everyone was gone and there'd be no encounters with other dogs (or cats).

There is one year-round home on the road, and they got a new dog about 6 months ago. It's sort of like a Beagle, but single-color, sort of a golden color. Cute dog, howls like a Beagle. I sometimes let Hector walk off-leash on this road, it is totally deserted except for my house and this other one at these times when the summer crowd hasn't arrived yet to fill the rental cottages. I always, always hook up Hector when walking past that house. I don't want him on their lawn, and I don't want to disturb their dog. So, I hooked the leash on Hector and we walked by. Their dog started going ballistic inside the house. A few minutes later, I looked behind me and the lady was walking with the Beagle-type dog a little bit behind us on a flexi-lead, going in the same direction as us (which happens to be further away from home).

Feeling social, I turned around and started to walk towards them (second mistake). My dogs went nuts, and I figured I'd just let Hector off-leash, and that was perfectly fine, he is such a peach, he never causes any trouble. (third mistake)

Hobie went berserk, probably jealous that Hector was loose and he wasn't. I held his leash really tight and close to me (fourth mistake -- tension on the leash) and we walked up to the lady and her dog, who was already cavorting and socializing with Hector, and they were perfectly fine. By this time we were in the lady's yard. I forgot to mention I don't know these people, except the husband did give my dogs water one time a couple years ago. So, Hobie started pulling REALLY hard, and without the choke he is so powerful I could barely control him. I held on, but I allowed him to "greet" the dog in the dog's own yard (fifth mistake).

The woman was scared TO DEATH of my two big dogs. I kept saying, "They're fine, they're really friendly, just really strong" (as I was being dragged onto her property by Hobie). She started asking me questions rapid-fire, and I could tell she was scared witless: "Are they fixed? Because he isn't." she said. "There's a leash law, you know. You're supposed to have him on a leash." ("Him", being Hector who was doing NOTHING but standing there being the big
doofus that he is). I said, "I took the leash off because if I hadn't they would've pulled me down on the ground, they outweigh me and they were too excited."

"Will they gang up and attack him?!!" she cried in total fear.

I'm like, "No way! They're really friendly! They love other dogs!"

Well, just about that time, Hobie's leash and the lady's stupid flexi-lead got tangled right at the collars. Hobie, who was doing his play-mount-dominance thing that he does with every new dog he meets had his head pulled right down next to the Beagles. Hobie flipped out and CHOMPED down on the Beagle's neck from the back and wouldn't let go. I VERY CALMLY said "He's never done that before. What the hell are you doing?" (that last part to Hobie, not the lady).

But the woman was freaking out. She started screaming and kicking Hobie as hard as she could repeatedly. I CALMLY told her, "Their leashes are tangled. Will you hold on a minute, let's fix the leashes." By distracting her in this way, it stopped her from flipping out and Hobie let go of the dog's neck, thank doG.

I dragged Hobie back out onto the dirt road. Hector then ran up and gave a resoluate "WOOF!" to the Beagle for good measure, and the lady promptly kicked Hector as hard as she could. I decided, because I was on her property I will say nothing, but she is damn lucky she didn't get bitten acting like that. THAT is how people get bitten by dogs. She was completely hysterical, and her question: "Will they gang up on him?" her voice already shaking, and her mind already made up, and her energy, well she MADE IT HAPPEN. I was so disgusted with her, and myself. If only I had turned around before her house, as I sometimes do. Or kept going away from her house instead of attempting to socialize. And of course, being so lazy as to not use the choke collars. That was really stupid.

Then, the husband comes out of the house, apparently drunk and goes, "WHAT THE F*** IS GOING ON OUT HERE?!" "A LOOSE DOG! THERE'S A LEASH LAW YOU KNOW." (Little do they realize that the LEASHED dog was the one who got aggressive -- since there's this very common problem called Leash Aggression in the dog world, which many people don't realize is a very real issue with many dog owners). I kindly gave Husband Of Freaked Out Lady the same explanation about the choice of being dragged down on the ground, then I promptly put Hector's leash on him, asked if their dog was all right (four times!!! before the woman finally looked him over and confirmed that he WAS all right), I apologized, and started walking home.

The lady asked me where I was "staying". I said, "I'm not 'staying' anywhere. I live here. I'm here all the time." (By this time I'm incredulous that these people acted like they'd never seen me before, this is my regular walking route, I go by their house twice a day when I'm in town! The husband has even given my dogs water before!) She asked me my name and the exact house I live in, which is just up at the end of the same road. I told her, and figured for SURE the
police would show up at my house just in time for dinner.

As I walked away, I heard the husband SCREAMING at her, and then they had a huge argument that I could hear clear down the street as I was walking. No police ever came to visit me last night.

I know the things I did wrong, as I pointed out above. I think I will start running with the dogs instead of walks -- it will keep them more occupied so they won't have the choice to stop
and "socialize" -- if we're running, we don't stop. I have backpacks in the car, do you think I ever take them out and use them? Heck, no! I will start using them immediately.

At one point right after I got home, I was so discouraged I was thinking that the ONLY time I get in trouble with my dogs is when I walk them. Cesar Millan says to walk and master the walk. I'm so close, but just so far away. And then I started thinking, if the ONLY time we get in trouble is when we walk, then why keep doing it? Does that make sense, am I explaining this right? -- hard to do in email. Why not just stop taking my dogs for walks, since that's the only time we ever have problems. You know what I mean?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

spencer, massachusetts

In the month-plus since my birthday, life has been unbelievably crazy. Crazier than I can ever remember. I live in the tiny towns of Spencer and Eastham, Massachusetts. The happenings in these two remote villages have been staggering this last month.

I posted last about the nor'easter that ruined the stairs at Nauset Light Beach. I visited Eastham that week and took photos, which I haven't had time to post here. I went back a couple weeks later, to find, to my delight, stairs with several landings at various intervals. Not only are they easier to maneuver (particularly going UP) but will be infinitely better to navigate with two hounds, if I ever get up the courage to do so.

Tomorrow, I venture forth to Eastham again. On my way there, I will take on a new challenge. I'm going to visit my friend Sue, in Bourne, with both dogs accompanying me. She also lives across the road from a dog-friendly beach. This will be interesting! I will report back after it's all said and done.

On to my primary residence in Spencer. Let's see. First, there was the contaminated water. That one made national news headlines. Spencer, Massachusetts was the #2 story on The Today Show. Wow! Spencer's town water supply became tainted with unsafe levels of lye. Lye is used in the water treatment under normal circumstances, but something malfunctioned. The result being that 100 people were burned by taking showers or washing their hands or faces, and some drank it. Thankfully, I live in such a remote part of town that we have private well water. But our office is located right on Main Street. The number of ambulances that day, you would've thought we were in the big city! Interestingly enough, nobody ever contacted our place of business to tell us about the water. We heard about it through the grapevine. But that's another story, for another day. I wrote a letter to the town a few days after the water contamination, but never sent it.

Shortly thereafter, we had a (possible) murder-suicide in Spencer, and the wife who was allegedly murdered has not yet been found. They're declaring her "missing" still, and we sure hope she is alive. We made the news again.

The third thing that happened, and we made the local papers on this one, was that the house across the street from mine got struck by lightning and burned beyond repair. Its occupant, a dear, dear friend of ours, lost just about everything he owned.

It was one of the most horrific things I've ever witnessed in my whole life. The storm came out of nowhere. I was downstairs at my house, doing laundry of all things. Thank goodness our friend was not home when this happened, so no one was in that building when it went up. I thought it was a tornado, it came up that fast, and the wind was howling, and then BLAM! a wicked strike of lightning! I yelled (to the dogs) "WHOA! That HIT something!" I ran outside in the middle of the storm because I was sure it had hit my house. I smelled burning plastic (which I would later find out was the cable TV wire from the pole to my house). I walked around outside and inside my house, crawling under the deck in the back, trying to see if and where it hit. All the other neighbors were doing the same. Because the strike hit the back of Mike's house, we didn't see it. We all went back inside, and about 10 minutes later, I see Steve -- he's running. Steve doesn't run, so I knew something was wrong. I hollered out my door, "Steve! What's the matter?"

"Mike's house is on fire!"

I asked him if he called 9-1-1, he had. And then, for good measure, I called myself.

The fire was really nothing at that point. We could hear the trucks coming, a crowd had gathered, and we were saying to each other, "It's gonna be OK. It's nothing." Then, within ONE second, BLAM! something caught and the thing erupted into an inferno. The kitchen went up in one second flat. The huge picture windows in the room that got hit by lightning blew right out of the building.

We were so scared, and there was nothing we could do but stand there and watch, my hands "Home Alone" style. Turns out the trucks (7 of them) came from three towns other than Spencer. There was talk afterwards that some got mis-directed and went up the wrong dirt road, there are so many on the lake.

Even though I didn't live in that house, we spent a lot of time there, and the fact that "but for the grace of God" Mike wasn't home that afternoon, and it didn't hit my house, well, it is just too scary for words. I cried on and off for two days. It was just awful. It was one of the most frightening things I've ever witnessed in my life.

A chapter ended, and lots of memories, both good and bad, for all of us.

I'm hoping Spencer stays out of the news for a while.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Today is my 47th birthday. It's the first time, ever, that this day doesn't feel like my birthday, and I keep forgetting that it is my birthday. I have always put great stock in birthdays, particularly my own. As the baby of the family, and the only girl, and born on my father's birthday and on his aunt Annie's birthday, it was such an important day in my life. I was fortunate to always have my birthday during school vacation week here in Massachusetts, and got quite accustomed to having that day "off" from obligations such as school, work, etc. In my adult years, I started taking that day off as my own personal holiday from work, and eventually took the entire week off as a present to myself. This year is different. I used up my April vacation in the unpleasant city of Las Vegas, and have to work today, a Saturday no less! All because I want to es-Cape to Cape Cod tomorrow in a mini-celebration-vacation. It's the best I can do.

This past week, a horrendous nor'easter pummeled Cape Cod with gigantic waves which destroyed the 45-step stairway from Nauset Light Beach Road to Nauset Light Beach. The only entryway to the beach, Mother Nature has ironcally solved a problem for me -- my fear of taking the dogs onto the beach and encountering angry people who don't quite get the concept that the dogs outweigh me and are really quite goofy and friendly. Ah, well, I don't have to worry about that for the time being. There is no indication in the news whether the steps will be rebuilt. For now, the only way to Nauset Light Beach is to jump off a cliff, or walk all the way to the Coast Guard Station and walk up. Problem is, you have to go all the way back to the Coast Guard Station after that. I will most likely do this tomorrow or Monday, and will take some photos and video. Unless the beach is too littered with debris, or the tide is too high. Stay tuned!!

Here are some photos of the steps. I got both of these from the Cape Cod Times web site, having apparently never myself taken any photos of the steps (how strange).

This photo was taken in 2005 during/after a late-October storm that brought the ocean swirling to the bottom of the steps. I remember The Weather Channel being parked in the parking lot, and my friend Craig calling me to tell me. I turned on the TV, back in Spencer, to discover one of the Weather Channel dudes standing on "my" steps, reporting about the storm! Here's the photo:

The next photo is one taken this week, which I found on the Cape Cod Times web site. It's an aerial view of the steps in the midst of being destroyed. The waves, gigantic. I have never seen them so high. Not a great picture, due to the size. It looks better on the Cape Cod Times web site. Here it is, anyhow:

Finally, here is another photo from the Cape Cod Times, showing some folks having a "Disappointing Day At the Beach" this past Thursday. As you can see, the boardwalk is cordoned-off by a barrier so as to prevent people from going down the now non-existent steps. The waves, as recently as Thursday, still pummeling all the way up to the dune. Other parts of the Cape, most notably Chatham's "North Beach" have been changed forever. Parts once reachable by car as recently as a week ago, are now an island reachable only by boat. Here are the disappointed folk:

Sunday, April 1, 2007

dog whisperer: truly an inspiration

Yesterday, I finally broke down and started deleting some of the Season 2 episodes of Dog Whisperer from my very-full DVR. The DVR has been acting up, unable to function at times, because of so many Dog Whisperer episodes being saved onto it. During this process, a very interesting thing happened. I became inspired all-over-again by Cesar's true gift. He trains people, oh yes, he does.

I had recorded episodes all the way back to March, 2006 on the DVR. I started watching the segments that pertained to me, saving the ones that really pertained to me, and deleting whole episodes if nothing in any of the two-or-three segments related to my situation.

To reiterate: I have been immobilized by fear and unable to walk my dogs on longer walks because they have pulled me down on the ground in pursuit of cats or other dogs. I have been injured physically, and even got into some scuffles with humans during these incidents. The dogs even killed a cat (by accident) exactly a year ago this week.

A wonderful thing happened yesterday. I started taking snippets of information away from the various episodes I watched, committed them to memory, and took the dogs for a walk around the block.

In the "Bearz" episode, I heard Cesar say that you should go down the stairs slowly. I captured that in my brain for future use.

On to "Greta and Hoss" -- claiming the door. Well, I've pretty much mastered that, but there was information that I needed to hear again, and it helped.

The "Eppie" episode (eppie-sode!) reminded me of the fact that I have to keep my eyes forward, and that the dog has to pay attention to me, not the other way around. That I can feel what the dog is doing without looking at him.

My very favorite episode has always been "Major Jones." I cry every time I watch it, so inspired and in awe of what Major Jones and his owner accomplish in such a short time. I got the most out of that one yesterday, because Cesar said that if there's a trouble spot, you need to work in that area over and over and over again until it becomes second nature. In the case of Major Jones, it was going in and out of the gate calmly. In my case, it's passing the next-door neighbor's house, where the cat was killed last year, and two more houses on our regular walking route where cats congregate. I realized I can just keep walking, back and forth, back and forth, in the cat areas until the dogs become so acclimated to gentle, calm walking that they will no longer become excited and get into "chase" mode.

I took the dogs for a walk yesterday, after watching all of these segments of Dog Whisperer. I looked straight ahead, and didn't "scope out" looking for cats. I stayed completely calm, shoulders down, head forward and up. I didn't allow Hector to "scope out" for cats, either.

Hobie always walks with a slack leash, but Hector likes to pull in front and scope out the situation, in his hound-dog way. I know I have to use the backpack with him. Yesterday, I kept thinking a thought over and over in my mind, silently: "Slack leash, Hector." Within minutes, Hector was walking "in the zone", head low, as relaxed as Hobie, with a slack leash. I had spent a lot of time with Hobie during the year before we adopted Hector, and Hobie has always been very obedient on-leash, except when he's competing for a cat or strange dog's attention.

After our walk, we went for a very long drive. When we returned, the next-door neighbor's cats were in the yard. Same exact situation as last year. Hobie saw the cats as we drove by, and he perked up. Not wanting a repeat (and anyway he wouldn't be off-leash) but not wanting excitement, I gave Hobie a bite and a stern "Hey!" as we drove by. (I imitate Cesar's "Hey!" that he uses on the show.) I made sure my energy was right before getting out of the car. I calmly put the leash on Hobie. I got out of the car first. I left Hector in the car, and put Hobie in the yard, safely away from the kitties. Then, I let Hector out of the car, on-leash. A far cry from last year's incident, when I thought they'd follow me (the non-pack-leader!) into the house, loose, and instead they ran next-door and chomped down on the cat critically injuring it so it had to be operated on and eventually euthanized, at great financial and emotional cost to me.

This morning, I woke up and the old dread came up again when I thought of taking the dogs for a walk. But I said, no, I'm going to beat this thing. I started thinking about the things I heard Cesar say on the show. Things like, "If you only go one step, that is an accomplishment." For so long, I had been setting my sights on a one-hour walk (like we used to take). But thanks to Cesar, I realized I don't have to do that. If I walk only five minutes, that is an accomplishment. And, it's up to me to decide. I don't have to feel bad for the dogs because they're not getting an hour-long walk. That is attaching human emotions to the dogs. If I decide the walk ends after 12 minutes, then the walk ends. We live in the moment, and maybe we'll do a second walk later.

As it turns out, we took a 45-minute walk this morning. We even encountered a running cat, and I was able to turn the dogs around and go in the other direction, then walk past the cat's house a few minutes later with both dogs "in the zone", heads low, leashes slack.

And me, completely in charge.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dog Whisperer meets Ghost Whisperer

Check your local listings Friday, March 30th, when Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan makes a guest appearance on CBS's "Ghost Whisperer" starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. The show airs at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Since "Dog Whisperer" usually airs the same night, at the same time, 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, on the National Geographic Channel, the National Geographic people have graciously decided to run Dog Whisperer at 9:00 p.m. that night.

For information on March 30th episode of "Ghost Whisperer", follow this link. There's also a video preview.

Hail Cesar!!!!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

frank mueller day, march 9, 2007

Wish I'd been able to login here before midnight last night and do this post, but alas, I was at my brother Frank's retirement party and so this post will have to contain today's date instead.

The reason I'm concerned? Yesterday, March 9, 2007 was "Frank Mueller Day" in the tiny town of Northborough, Massachusetts.

Above, here, is my brother, Frank, our cousin LouAnn, and me (I'm the baby). Frank, 14 years old when I was born, is not only my brother, but also my godfather. LouAnn, my godmother. This photo was taken in 1960, the year that Mook (see previous post) gave birth to me.

Frank retired from the Northborough Police Department in December, 2006. The party honoring his career was last night, and it was one of the best events I've ever attended. Very well done. A lot of laughter, and a brief shedding of tears.

Frank was given a number of awards, by the town, surrounding towns, fire departments, and even the State of Massachusetts.

My brother is the true definition of "hero." Having self-enlisted in the US Army in the mid-1960s, Frank served in Vietnam on a one-year tour of duty as an MP. Tales of his experience there were never-before-heard until last night. I remember vividly his homecoming from Vietnam, myself having been pulled out of my second-grade classroom to drive to Logan Airport with my folks. My teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, tearful herself, practically jumping up and down at the news of his return home. After that, Frank worked 7 years as a New Jersey State trooper -- a job he qualified for after being accepted into the police academy literally two days after he stepped off the airplane from Vietnam in 1968. He began his career as a trooper with only a few weeks of training, a reportedly unprecedented career move. To his 30 years of service with Northborough, a job he also secured in only a couple of days, and which he accepted in favor of the Southborough Police Department's offer, which came on the same day, only minutes after he'd already accepted the job with Northborough.

Early in his career in "Jersey", as a very young man, Frank was one of hundreds of officers who participated in taking back control of Rahway State Prison from the inmates who had rioted and took over the facility.

Frank was responsible for a number of interesting well-known arrests in the Worcester County (Massachusetts) area, including the infamous "Honeymoon Bandit" -- a man who would "crash" weddings throughout Worcester county and make off with baskets of gift envelopes. Frank was the officer who nabbed the guy, making front-page news headlines for the arrest.

Frank also saved a man from a burning car, twice. The man was so drunk, he crawled back inside the car after Frank dragged him out! Frank was given a medal of honor for saving the man's life.

The stories of Frank's heroism and dedication to "the department" are numerous and inspirational. I am honored to be related to this man, and thrilled to have been part of the celebration of his career.

In his personal life, Frank won several body-building titles in the 1980s and 1990s, rivaling the likes of "Arnold" and others. Frank's four children, (my nieces and nephew) pictured here, are beautiful and a source of pride in and of themselves.

On to bigger and better things -- what will it be next? One can only imagine, and dream.

Monday, March 5, 2007

mook turns 87

When she was a little girl, my mother's siblings called her "Mook". This is because she couldn't pronounce the word "milk," and it came out "mook." The name stuck. All the cousins call her Aunty Mook. Her sisters still call her Mook.

Mook turned 87 today.

Recently, we were at a family gathering at a local restaurant. I helped Mook into the ladies room. It was one of these fully-automated restrooms, the kind with motion-detectors on everything -- sinks, toilet, paper towel holder.

Poor Mook was completely lost. "How do I flush the toilet?" "You don't," I replied, "it flushes itself when you stand up."

Turning on the sink was a feat in itself. Even computer geek me couldn't get the motion detector to turn the water on.

Once Mook's hands were wet, it was another challenge to get the paper towels to come out of the electronic holder. Again, no matter how many hand-passes across its little red sensor, I couldn't hit it just right for those towels to come streaming out. I finally did it.

When we visited the restroom a second time that night, we went through the entire process all over again. It doesn't help that Mook is nearly 100% blind to begin with.

Here are just a few of the things that have been invented or changed since Mook's birth in 1920:

  • The tumble dryer

  • Refrigerator/freezers for home use

  • Hairdryers

  • Television

  • Color Television

  • Video-tape recorder

  • Digital video recorder

  • The Walkman

  • Portable cassette player/recorder

  • Cathode-ray tube

  • Computers

  • MS-DOS

  • Electric typewriters

  • Liquid Paper (aka "White Out")

  • Cordless telephone

  • Mobile telephones (1947!!)

  • Push-button telephone

  • The modem

  • The microchip

  • Remote control devices

  • Commercial (passenger) airplanes

  • Jet engine

  • Liquid-fueled rockets

  • The helicopter

  • Radar

  • Doppler Radar

  • Hi-fi/stereo sound equipment

  • The jukebox

  • The dynamic loudspeaker

  • The car radio

  • Frequency modulation (FM radio)

  • The transistor

  • Stereo recordings

  • The drive-in movie theater

  • 3-D movies

  • Polariod photography

  • The photocopier

  • Adhesive tape

  • The Band-Aid

  • Bubble gum

  • Pez candy

  • Barbie dolls

  • Cabbage Patch kids

  • The ball-point pen

  • The aqualung scuba-diving tank

  • The lie-detector

  • Insulin

  • Penicillin

  • Tetracycline

  • Oral contraceptives

  • Traffic signals

  • Frozen food

  • Cake mix

  • McDonald's

  • Spiral-bound notebooks

  • Nylon

  • Teflon

  • Neoprene

  • Velcro

  • Contact lenses

  • Aerosol spray cans

  • Canned beer

  • Credit cards

  • ATM machines

  • Post-It notes

  • The Segway human transporter