Stuffed Scooby Doo

Stuffed Scooby Doo.

This little doggy is about 3 feet tall and was won by my hubby, Brian, at Universal Park in Orlando. We were there for a conference and our group had the park all to ourselves, all rides free (although not all rides were running) and free tickets for the arcade games. We were at a ball toss – three balls. I went first and missed. Badly. Embarrassingly. Never played softball and it showed.

Brian did just as badly on his first two balls and the macho guys behind us in line were ragging on him. So…third ball right down the middle and voila, he was the proud owner of this overgrown stuffed toy.

After hauling it around the rest of the night, the question was how to get it home on the airplane. Maybe we could just donate it to some child. Ha, no way. He was keeping it. Could we ship it? Too expensive and where’d we get a box that big? In the end, Scooby Doo flew home in black trash bag, crammed into the overhead bins. He now lives in Hubby’s office and has been coveted by many a child visitor.

Even though it’s been around since 1969, I’ve never seen the cartoon, but recently I met and petted real Great Danes when a couple of sisters on our street got themselves a pair. The older dog’s head went up to my chest and although I’m on the short side, that’s one big dog. I’d like to note that they aren’t quite as cuddly in real life. An interesting fact about those Great Danes is that they are the first dogs the sisters had ever owned. Imagine starting with a giant!

Orbit, the Flying Dog

Our Flying Dog, Orbit. I fooled you with the noble picture on the front page. This is actually what she looks like most of the time – a blur running past, ears blown back. When we picked her out from the pound, the woman looked at us dubiously. She evidently thought this was a dog for a young boy, not a solid married couple. “Wouldn’t you like a calmer dog,” she said. No we wouldn’t. This was our dog.

We chose the name before we knew how apt it was. She’s a go-go girl. Chases her tail. Ran away once, my husband saw her down the street and yelled. She did a u-turn immediately — knowing she was in trouble — and came huffing back as fast as her little legs would carry her. She loves riding in the car, preferable head out to the wind, as you see. We keep the window shut when we go over 40 mph. But the minute we slow down, she’s panting and waiting for it to open. Who knows what she sees or smells. Whatever, it’s her favorite.

She’s particularly obsessed with motorcycles. She spots them miles ahead on the freeway, yips and barks until we pass, then gazes longingly out the back window. Oddly enough, she doesn’t recognize a motorcyle if it’s parked.

She also knows when we’re getting ready for a trip. Not too hard; we gather our suitcases at the bottom of the stairs. Usually, yes, she’s coming with us. But last year we went to Spain to visit the girl I have mentored since eighth grade (junior year abroad) and dogs were staying home. Orbit was furious. No way we were abandoning HER. As my husband struggled to close the door, she bit him! Not hard, you understand…she just couldn’t help herself.

I never had a dog growing up. I was a cat lover. But now I can’t imagine being without one. We’ve had eight over the years and each has had a distinct being. Sometimes I feel a personality in the room and when I look up, I’m surprised to see it’s a dog.

Finally, apologies to those who got the story about the red Italian blouse twice. You’d think after 6 months I’d know how to drive this thing…

Winter Fence

Victorian window screen. This is a portion of a fence we built in our back yard. I’m including this today because it’s so dang hot, I thought a cool visual was in order.

My husband and I wanted a portion of our yard to be dog-free but given our personalities, something normal and easy was out of the question. While doing our research, we serendipitously discovered window screens stacked in a back corner at an antique reseller. Iron, sturdy and decorative, they seemed perfect. We bought 12 in several designs, then the fun began.

It took most of the summer to remove the paint layers — some of them had 6 colors — using metal brushes, paint removers, steel wool, and lots of elbow grease. The sections aren’t very tall — 3 feet max — and we crouched over them or sat on upturned paint cans. The work went on and on, but…when they were clean, painted black, installed by my husband, it made the yard unique. As for keeping the dogs out, ha! If there’s a squirrel sassy enough to flick a tail in Pushkin’s yard, that dog’s over it in a flash.

I was in high school when Daddy gave me the words that prepared me for stripping Victorian iron, or tiling a bathroom, or learning to make pizza from scratch. He sat at the piano, playing, while I decorated the family room for a party. I went up a ladder, taped crepe paper or other decoration in place, climbed down. Moved the ladder. Climbed up again. It took a long time and when I was finished, I said, “I don’t like the way it looks but it’s the best I can do.” Daddy stopped playing and said, “If you don’t like it, say so, then be brave enough to try again.” So I removed my work. The second iteration was better; lesson learned.

Enjoy the cool picture. Drink lots of water. More on Wednesday.

Dog #5, Sprocket

We have had eight dogs over the years and we tend to name them in sets. We had Sprocket the same time as Gizmo, a truly crazy dog, but unlike her mate, she was a lover girl. You can see by the picture how gentle she was. How many dogs would agree to wear a paper new year’s hat?

She was a hound of some sort, rescued from the pound, as have been all our dogs. My husband said hounds howl, but she never let out a peep. Finally, everytime there were sirens in our neighborhood, hubby would howl, setting an example. Sprocket caught on, much to our chagrin, and woke us many a night.

You never know what kind of treatment a dog that’s rescued has been through. Or how they are going to react. When Sprocket got into trouble, she’d go into a corner and shake. It was pitiful. But she had a happy life with us.

When she died, my husband said what he always does – remember, there is another dog waiting for us to rescue her. And so there was: Pushkin and then Orbit, not named as a set but for their personalities.


This is Orbit, the energizer dog in a rare moment of repose.
She is all tuckered out after a day of chasing squirrels and her own tail, barking at dogs lucky enough to get a walk, and running from window to window to monitor foot traffic outside the house. She’s sleeping on her two favorite toys. The bird has since been pulled to pieces – my hubby calls the pieces road kill. The sheep was messed up at the factory: instead of saying baaa when squeezed, it quacks like a duck!

Speaking of squirrels: this one hunkered in the backyard fence, trying to figure out if it could get into the bird feeder and/or avoid the dog.


One of two current dogs; rescued, as were all our dogs. Leaves fluffy bits in every corner of the house. Named because of her furry coat – a Dr. Zhivago type character, winter in Russia. She looks sweet, compliant and lazy, lying on the rug after a day of playing. Hah!

She’d been with us for a couple of weeks when two guys made a delivery to our house. I carefully shut the door, whatever we ordered was set down, and I’m signing the paperwork when I hear, “Come back, nice doggy.”

One of the men had opened the door and Pushkin was OUT. After much running, calling and swearing, to no avail, I got in the car to search. A couple of blocks away, she was socializing with a woman and her children. She showed no shame when I pulled her into the car. Just a happy panting grin that said, “I can’t wait to do this again.”