IMG_0665REGGAE. What a totally preposterous name for a dog, but my eight-year-old son was just learning to play guitar and breathed all things Bob Marley, Jamaican, and Rastafarian. When I vetoed the idea of him naming this new puppy Bob (which would cause mucho confusion at family events, with several of his uncles and cousins bearing the name. A shriek of “Stop peeing on the floor Bob!”, would garner all the wrong kind of attention). Marley was rejected also; no need to be reminded of a sad canine film forty times a day. Both Jamaica and Rastafarian had too many syllables, which left Reggae as the only viable name.

Several months ago, at the ripe old age of 13, Reggae began doing something quite disconcerting. She would sit beside me and stare at me for hours at a stretch, like she was trying to memorize every detail of my being on a cellular level. There was such sorrow in her eyes, which really freaked me out and I became convinced that she must be imbued with a secret knowledge that one of us was not long for this world. Since neither of us were spring chickens, I figured there was a 50/50 chance it could be either/or.

When she began needing to go outside a dozen times a day and her back legs could no longer be trusted to keep her upright, her vet warned me to prepare myself to say goodbye, probably no later than Thanksgiving or Christmas. Mr. Adorable and I immediately chucked her diet plan out the window and began spoiling her with every possible treat and tidbit. Want to sniff the same blade of grass for 27 minutes? No problem whatsoever. Want to head to your favorite beach and laze under the huge live oak tree for hours? No problem, my sweet baby girl.

Then suddenly, in a matter of hours, her condition worsened so swiftly and she was in so much distress, I knew her Rainbow Bridge moment had arrived. I’d been fortunate over the years and never had to witness a pet exiting planet earth. On the ranch, there was always a dad, uncle, or grandpa around to administer the merciful gunshot to alleviate their suffering after a snake bite or run in with a vehicle. Then, it became my husband’s sad task to make that final trip to the vet’s office; I knew I couldn’t bear it.

But there was no testosterone in sight on Reggae’s awful final day, so off we went, on my girl’s final “bye bye in the car”. I was crying so hard I have no idea how we navigated the highway in one piece. I had a completely different vision of what was going to occur, one that had no connection to the actual reality. I brought her favorite New Age music on my IPad to play for her because it always made her dreamy and relaxed. My pockets were stuffed with every treat we possessed and I was armed with her favorite lovey. All utterly pointless, as it turned out.

The vet gave her a sedative and within seconds she was deeply asleep, rendering all my preparations moot. Once he administered her Heaven Juice, her heart stopped in under 15 seconds. It all seemed so brutally swift and such an ignoble ending to our long love affair. No pomp, no circumstance, no ceremony, no goodbye rituals.

I’m stunned by the number of tears I’ve shed and the cringing that happens when I enter this empty apartment and realize that goofy face full of constant joy isn’t there to greet me. The silence inside my home is screamingly loud. I’ve decided that this will be my last pet; too much pain comes from loving something so much and I won’t risk that again. I’m sure I made Mr. Adorable nervous when he caught me checking out inhabitants of the local shelter on their website, searching their faces for something intangible. Something that would catch at my heart and make me look closer to see if maybe, just maybe…

It seems incomprehensible that, with the glaring exceptions of Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, and New Mexico, our pets are treated with more compassion than we citizens are. No loving pet owner would allow their precious baby to suffer in agony for months because vets weren’t allowed to perform euthanasia. As humans, if we want the same compassion and swift end to our suffering from a horrible terminal illness, we would have to relocate to one of these five states in order to execute what should be an extremely personal choice. Imagine being violently ill and having to leave behind your family, friends, home, and community to live in a strange and unfamiliar place in order that you might write your own final ending to this adventure called Life. Where is the humanity in that?

Someone suggested to me last week that hospice was almost as good an option as assisted suicide but I disagree. I know my mom, who opted to stop dialysis for her acute renal failure, would certainly disagree. She was told she would have a maximum of 72 hours to live after stopping her treatment and all the sweetie wanted was to get out of the hospital and die in her bed, her home. The allotted 72 hours turned into three weeks and while her hospice care was at a rock-star level, she would have jumped at the chance to NOT have a nurse or companion change her diapers or help her shower and dress when I was at work. Sadly, in North Carolina, you are not allowed the option of speeding up the inevitable.

When  I am elected President of The World, which I expect any minute now, my first executive order will be to stock every soda vending machine with Kevork Kola. Drinking one will be your own personal “Stop the world; I want to get off” beverage. I think that instead of spending time in prison Jack Kevorkian should have been canonized. He should receive every possible humanitarian award posthumously.

So, Governor Jerry Brown, what do you say to signing the Brittany Maynard bill by the October 11 deadline and affording the residents of your state the same dignity and compassion we show our pets?


Looking at my raggedy pile of 18-year-old mangy fur, it’s hard to remember the fearless, bursting-with-life puddy cat she used to be.

The night Paco and I brought the adorable 6-week-old tortie foundling home and she bolted from her carrier straight up the stairs to our bedrooms, I warned my 4-year-old boy that she would likely secret herself under a bed for a week or three. In my motherly wisdom I gently told him she would be quite scared and shy, and to not be disappointed when she wouldn’t play with him right away.

Forewarned, the two of us quietly crept up the stairs to see what bed she might be hiding under. What a sight! There was Nico, our tiny kitten, leaping onto Paco’s bed, then catapulting herself onto the top of a 3-story toy parking garage. She would slide down the twists and turns and land on her bum with Chinese eyes pulled tight into slits of delight. Repeat until exhausted.

In a side note…only Paco’s Dad  would possess the flair to name a 2 lb. kitten after Andy Warhol’s beautiful blond 1960’s protégé Nico.

Nico’s decline into depression began with the arrival of her baby brother, Baxter the Boxer. In fairness, I suppose having a huge puppy mistake me for a chew toy thirty times a day would take its toll on my nerves too. 027The situation worsened when he began to pick her up by the scruff of her neck and carry her from place to place. It was in this era that she began writing me suicide notes…

Dearest mamaa,

Sory about steeling yur debit card, had 2 get to a bar 2 by sum Pussytinis 2 get up the courage to off miself, that’s rite, im a go swim wid da fishes. Cain’t take it no more, no how. Eye will c u in heavn.  Luv yur puddy cat

Then one day, Bitter Bette’s dreams finally materialized…that sh*t heel boxer brother of hers had a new mistress and was going to live far, far away, due to Mommy’s new nomadic gypsy life! The skies parted and angels sang a HALLELUJAH chorus. Her joy lasted only one day, until Mommy moved her raggedy butt to a 3rd floor apartment in a noisy city. The suicide notes resumed post haste. Then, those plane rides to and from Texas exacerbated her mental unhinging. Or maybe it was those longhorn steers, the rearing horses at the ranch, or the wee incident with that F4 tornado?

I’ve gone to court & officially changed her name to Bitter Bette, after the characters Bette Davis played in those terrifying B movies, like “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte”. The one where the bracelets clang and dangle menacingly while she reaches for the axe to whack off her philandering finance’s head, in a well-played act of revenge against his wandering willy. Ah yes, good times those.

My Bette’s eyes are perpetually slitted against life’s next outrage. She alternates between hours of catawauling punctuated by brief moments of narcolepsy. Her newest fetish is to chew obsessively on her right leg, which is currently quite bald.

Now before you PETA peeps go getting all up in arms, “What if the poor kitty has an undiagnosed illness or some rare ebola-like, usually fatal leg-chewing disease?” Let me assure you that I just spent $600 last month on a “Senior Panel” of tests at her vet’s, where they assured me my girl has the vitality and physiology of a five-year-old. She assured me that Bette will live to AT LEAST the ripe old age of 22…giving me another six years of recriminations to look forward to.

Between jobs at two dental practices, and dining, dancing, and dating my way through Paradise, Somewhere in This World, it’s difficult to find the time to indulge Bitter Bette in her dotage. Perhaps it may just be time to shove a broom handle up her butt and call it a day?



Great Balls of Fire #102

Yesterday morning, while rushing to get ready for work, I noticed something quite odd about Baxter the Booger. It looked like he had a big red Christmas ornament attached to his willy. Not something I ordinarily see every day. Race the clock, out the door, never gave it another thought until I get home from work and Paco meets me at the door. “Mom, we have a situation with Baxter. He has a big red knob growing out of his willy and it’s been like that all day.” Mon dieu, I see that this is quite true. Harness on and out to the car we race, trying to get to the vet before they close.

Conversation with vet tech on phone to warn them of our impending arrival. “I’m not sure if this is serious but Baxter seems to have had an enormous erection the entire day, and it shows no signs of mastur abating.”

“Did anything unusual happen to set him off? Perhaps a lovely young female German Shepard crossed his path today? If you left your computer on while you were at work, could he have accessed some internet porn?”

“Listen dude, I’m used to having a horny puppy on my hands, but this is NOT that. He has a 3” diameter red shiny tree ornament where his who ha should be.”

Of course, by the time I walked into the vet’s office the entire staff was at the front desk snickering and curious to see the Yuletide decorated boxer. Even the other patients were belly laughing and pointing at my poor boy, who was completely stripped of his dignity at that point. The vet’s eyes grew huge when she walked in the exam room. “My God buddy! Where did you get that thing?” All this while snapping on rubber gloves and pulling out an industrial-sized bottle of KY jelly. She yelled down the hallway, “I need the largest vet tech who’s available; we have to repackage a penis, STAT!” It was the grim and determined look on her face that worried me the most. “OK”, she motioned to me to come closer. “Watch me carefully. This is exactly what you will be doing every hour tonight. That thing has to stay lubricated. If it dries up we won’t be able to stitch it back in place tomorrow morning.”

I pale as I watch her down on the floor pushing my poor boy’s willy back where it belongs, like a factory worker packing sausage into a casing. Finally, after much struggle and sweat, success! That bad boy is back in the corral where it belongs. I couldn’t imagine doing this myself at home all night long, unless I rented the vet tech for the night.

Knowing it would be a long night, I was in bed at 9 and up every hour until 2AM, when I just threw in the towel and gave in to the fact that I would be a walking zombie all day from lack of sleep. What the vet failed to mention is that while one could indeed keep Wild Willy lubricated, one could not prevent the Booger from promptly licking it all off, completely negating the effort. Every lubricant I tried, he found to be a gastronomic delight. KY jelly, yum yum. Extra virgin olive oil, scrumptious. Vaseline, nectar of the Gods. All this after lassoing and hog-tying him, and throwing him on his side. This is a 75 lb mass of muscle, who clearly did not want to participate in this madness. Finally, exhausted and desperate to sleep, a vision popped into my head. My favorite substance in a can. PAM to the rescue. With nary a tussle or throw down, I could simply sidle up beside him and execute a lightning-quick Ninja spray move; he never even knew what hit him.

We shall see what the morrow brings. If he is still decorated for Christmas when I leave for work, it’s off to the vet for some surgical intervention.

Sleep tight, my sweet horny prince


Yo Mom! You’re Gonna Be a Grandma!

005Monday morning. 8AM. Home phone rings. Caller ID shows it is Number One son, Paco. Dread stabs heart. It must be state troopers calling to say they have just discovered his rolled-over Mitsubishi in a ditch. They are calling from the cell phone deceased son was clutching in his hand, desperate to reach 911 (or his beloved Mom) in his last moments.

Second possibility. Son is calling to find out where his weekly allowance is. Naw, it’s waaaay too early for that; he wouldn’t be up for another three hours at least. Mystified, my hand slowly and reluctantly reaches for the receiver.

“Hey, Mom, how’s your day going so far?” Oh crap, there is way too much cheer in that voice for the early hour.

Wary. “OK so far, but what’s up?” Both elbows braced on the kitchen countertop. The better to keep me from tumbling to the floor when I hear whatever he’s about to share.

“Now, you HAVE to promise that no matter what I say you will let me finish and that you absolutely WILL NOT GET MAD, kay?”

I slid my eyes toward the liquor cabinet and wonder where God stands on a tequila shooter (or three) before your morning coffee.

“Well, I’m just going to come out with it. Are you ready?”

Last night’s chicken enchiladas and jalapeños are showing a sudden interest in making the acquaintance of my lungs. DO NOT THROW UP. Listen, who’s the grown-up here, right? He’s just an eighteen-year-old kid. What? Did he start a new Cuban missile crisis, or kidnap one of Brangelina’s 47 children?

Ready as I’ll ever be,” I lied through clenched teeth.

“Well, Mom, the truth is, you’re going to be a grandmother and pretty soon, too!” Suddenly I was channeling Peg Bundy and my hand raised up to pat my imaginary bouffant, while my cleavage soared to my collar bones, and my skin-tight fuchsia faux lizard pedal pushers threatened to burst at their tacky made-in-China seams. I inhabited my future in an instant. Babysitting seven days a week in an un-air conditioned trailer while the proud parents of the grimy, diaper-clad spawn held down five jobs between them. Daughter-in-law (no, scratch that).  There wouldn’t be enough money to afford a marriage license. White Wonder bread sandwiches every night smeared with Miracle Whip bought at the Dollar General. Before long there would be five kids because even the über poor like Paco and Baby Mama had to amuse themselves somehow.

Paco’s voice saying, “Her name is Lola and I’m bringing her home tomorrow,” snapped me back to the reality of my beautiful dream kitchen. What kind of name was Lola; was she a transsexual? And if so, what would I feed her or buy her/him for Christmas? But maybe she/he is Jewish and then I’ll have to learn all that Hanukkah business. My head was spinning with scenarios and possibilities. My legs felt like I’d just gotten off a rust bucket tilt-a-whirl at a traveling carnival. Oy vey.

“The good news is I’ve made some decisions about my future. I will definitely be coming home to live this summer while I work two jobs. You’ll love Lola; she’s cute as a button and very well behaved. She’s even mostly potty trained.”


“Jeez Mom, cut her some slack; she’s only ten months old.”

Paco, I’m very confused; I thought Lola was your girlfriend?”

“Girlfriend? Jeez, are you kidding? Remember my roommate Chloe? Well, she got a puppy, but it grew and she didn’t have time for it, so she was going to take it to the pound to be put to sleep. You know I couldn’t let that happen, right? I’ve had her two months but I think the student housing police found out and they want a $300 pet deposit in 48 hours or else it’s curtains for Lola. So, I’m bringing her home to stay with you until my final exams are over.”

The relief at not being an impending Baby GrandMama was so acute it took a couple of hours to realize that I’d been snookered by Paco the Pizza Boy once again. Now, in addition to working a part-time job eleven hours most days, and starting up a new business enterprise, I get to come home bone tired and take care of FOUR needy and demanding pets. All by myself, for the next three weeks, until Paco the prodigal son finishes his semester.

Suddenly, considering the Peg Bundy alternative, it didn’t seem like such a bad deal after all. As I enjoyed my first cup of arabica on the patio, I pondered what my new grand dogter might look like. Allegedly she is black and white spotted, mostly Jack Russell terrier (eee gads!) and part coon hound. I’m sure she’ll grow on me, even if she looks like a cast member from The Walking Dead.

PAM…It Isn’t Just For Baking! #96

I read that boxers are considered the clowns of the canine universe.

In Baxter ‘The Booger’s‘ case this is most definitely true. He is determined to raise his mommy’s spirits come hell or high water, and spends most of his waking hours attempting to crack me up. Yesterday, he succeeded.

This isn’t the first time he has gotten his bowling ball stuck in his mouth, but with four hours on the clock, it was certainly the longest. The poor boy was worn out from trying to dislodge it from his jaw, but wouldn’t let me approach to lift it off his bottom teeth. He finally exhausted himself, tossed back a few tequila shooters, and passed out, defeated and resigned to his fate. I told him he looked chic and fashionable, and to consider it like a red ortho retainer. I heard what sounded like “Bullsheed, Mom” coming from his mouth, but with a 7″ ball stuck in his pie hole, who can say with any certainty? Because I  really didn’t think my baby boy, brilliant and precocious as he is, had started swearing yet. But isn’t the Mom always the last to know?

That’s when inspiration struck and I crept into the kitchen and grabbed a can of PAM. Quietly kneeling down beside him I blasted that nozzle into his mouth. Peeved by this turn of events, he violently threw his massive head from side to side until the silicon-slimed orb went flying, knocking over a vase full of daffodils and forsythia, which drenched the cranky, 15-year-old balding cat, Bette Davis Eyes, who promptly put up her dukes and whipped that 80 lb. puppy  into submission.

Some days are just too special.

PAM, a dog's best friend

For Lou and Sully #73

One of the blogs I follow is Pissy Kittys Litter Box. Right off the bat, you gotta admire a gal who’s got the cojones to name her blog THAT. I came across her months ago when she posted about the phrase “Up shit creek without a paddle blues”. My Mama used to say that to me over and over, “Listen Sister, if you don’t stop _____ (insert mischief of your own design here), you’ll soon be singing the ‘I’m Up Shit Creek Without a Paddle Blues.” Until I read Lou’s blog, I had never heard anyone else utter those words, so I felt an instant connection. Lou writes with a pure passion and honesty like no other. She can slice her soul open for all to see, and then plunge right in and perform an emotional autopsy on the remains.

So, when I read about her beloved dog Sully having cancer and facing what would be his last summer with her, I was incredibly sad. But yesterday her news was even worse; Sully is not responding to his Prednisone and will have to take his final bow in this world Saturday, in order to stop his suffering. I’m posting links to both her moving tribute to her amazing Sully, and also to yesterday’s post. I defy you to read and not join in her weeping.

I’ve discovered the amazing heart and soul that makes up our blogging community and I would like to encourage all of you to read Lou’s posts about Sully and send her your thoughts, prayers,  inspiration, and encouragement. For you non-bloggers, there is a comment section at the bottom of her blog where you can write to her. I imagine the devastation she will be experiencing this weekend will be profound, and that any tiny bit we can do to help her through will be deeply appreciated.

It’s hard to believe that a total stranger and her dog can have such a profound effect. I just keep thinking about my adored Baxter “Booger”, who we’ve only had for one year. How attached I am already, despite his repeated criminal activities and stints in jail. And his big sister Reggae “Pooter”, already slowing down at age nine, and all the years of history we’ve had together. The thought of losing either one of my babies has tears streaming down my face.

So, let’s all join forces and send Lou, her husband, and their beloved Sully our very best. And perhaps take a moment to hug our own four-legged beasties just a little tighter and longer today.

Pee Like a Man, Boy! #67

The Booger is one year old today! And I survived the past ten months of His Serene Puppyhood! To mark this momentous event with the gravity and ceremony it requires, the Booger decided to start swimming last weekend. We take Pooter and Booger to the beach for walks and swimming several times a week, but  in the past, he would just enviously watch Pooter swimming; he could never get the hang of it. But this week, he jumped in at about five-feet deep and started paddling away. You should have seen the look of surprise on his face. I think he was teetering between terror and elation the entire time. But then, to top it off, as we were walking back to the car, he lifted his leg and peed like a boy for the first time. Since his only model has been his big sister, he just squatted and peed like a girl, but not anymore. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of praising him over and over for this amazing masculine feat, so yesterday morning, while I’m having coffee and watching the morning news, he proudly lifted his leg and hosed down the couch, carpet, and end table. The Spousal Unit and I decided to curtail the praise for the willy lifting in the future!

Partee like an A.N.I.M.A.L.

g'head, resist me if you dare

This momentous birthday means its time to visit the vet and schedule a wee snip snip, a little de-dickulation, as it were. The Spousal Unit keeps postponing this inevitable adjustment to Mother Nature. Every time the subject comes up, The Unit wraps his legs around each other, covers his man bits, grabs some nearby rosary beads, and starts reciting Hail Marys under his breathe. I predict this will be tougher on him than on the Booger.

Now,  onto today’s episode of “Texas Toast”. Previously, Jack and I were jetting off to Rome for the start of an eight-week working holiday to film a series of commercials for Oil of Olay. The object was to show women over 35, with great, young-looking skin. In a funny twist, Jack urged the client to book me and the photo below was the result of that test shooting. A year before, at age 24, I’d been sent out on jobs for 14-17 year olds, and now I was trying to pass for over 35! What a schizoid business! And no, the client didn’t fall for it!

On our arrival at the airport in Rome, it became apparent that something big was afoot. There were police and anti-terrorists troops everywhere, with assault weapons drawn. Passengers disembarking from international flights were screened more thoroughly than usual, yet they simultaneously seemed to want us all out of the airport ASAP. The former Prime Minister of Italy, Aldo Moro, had been carjacked on his way through morning rush hour traffic earlier that day and Rome was on lock down. Businesses and restaurants we passed were shuttered, and traffic was at a minimum. The thriving, vibrant city seemed like a ghost town at 8PM.

As I brushed off my rusty Italian and tried to make sense of the newspaper headlines, it seemed that Mr. Moro had been kidnapped and five of his bodyguards killed in an ambush in the middle of Rome. A left-wing group calling themselves The Red Brigades was taking credit, and was loudly demanding release of their original group members from prison in exchange for the former Prime Minister’s freedom. The Italian unions called for a general strike and all of Rome went as dead and silent as if someone pulled the power plug.

Aldo Moro, Image from the

Fortunately for our crew, our hotel was open. The Hotel Hassler was perched at the top of the Spanish Steps, oozed old world elegance, and had sweeping views of the city. Unfortunately, due to the militaristic lock down the kidnapping imposed on the city, most of our actresses were unable to reach us to audition, and location scouting would not be happening on this leg of our trip. After 55 days in captivity, Mr. Moro was shot and killed by his captors, and life in the city resumed its usual bustle. Hopefully, on our return swing through Rome, our crew and cast would have better luck in getting some commercials shot. Damn those Red Brigades; didn’t they realize the importance of selling anti-aging skin cream?

Next stop, Stockholm.