Rick and I have been toying with the idea of getting a dog. Men, at least those in my life, often lean towards more substantial animals like retrievers or mastiffs leaving women to defer to smaller breeds like Yorkies or some of the hybrid versions like doodles (Dachshund/Poodle mix) or dorkies (Dachshund/Yorkshire Terrier mix). Definitely we are agreed on adopting a rescue dog, should we go forward with this plan. Neither of us possesses the patience to deal with a puppy, no matter how adorable, these days. An adult dog would be our choice. House training a must. Having volunteered at the local animal rescue facility, I saw firsthand the sweet and soulful faces of the adult animals abandoned, lost, or simply unwanted. The need is too great for older dogs seeking homes to get a puppy whose sweet little face will have no trouble selling itself to a willing owner.
Over the years I’ve trained my share of dogs. Training a puppy is a job requiring dedication, a strong stomach, excellent carpet cleaner, patience, and time. When my children were in high school we were a three dog family. Sugar, the Samoyed, Barnaby, the golden retriever, and Sushi the Shih Tzu shared space with myself, my husband at the time, our combined brood of three, two cats, two hamsters and a rabbit. To say the least I was a familiar face at the local feed and grain, not to mention the markets.
My husband traveled seventy percent of the time. In his absence I manned the oars and ran a fairly tight ship. He claimed all this travel was pressed on him by supervisors but secretly I believe he volunteered to go simply to escape the din at home. Barnaby originally came in a small package equipped with four huge paws the equivalent size of plump loaves of sour dough bread. The most rambunctious of his eight litter mates, he was a busy, busy, little puppy. From the onset he was my husband’s dog through and through, deferring to me only when there was kibble to be dished out or a present left in the back yard to be disposed of. Once I went out with my shovel to find piles of technicolor dog poop thanks to a box of neon crayons he had consumed earlier in the day.
As Barnaby grew into his paws, all his unbridled energy needed a place to relieve itself. At the time we had a beautifully landscaped back yard, fenced both for privacy and to keep the animals inside. For Sushi and Sugar the fence served as a suitable deterrent, but Barnaby viewed it simply as a challenge. Most days on arriving home from work I found all three dogs sitting on the front porch. Out back there would be cavernous tunnels and piles of dirt where Barnaby had dug under the fence. Over and over we refilled and packed the holes only to find new ones replacing them the following day. Thankfully, the dogs weren’t destructive while roaming the neighborhood and we had good neighbors who were kind enough not to complain. However, it is illegal to let your dogs roam free and decidedly increases the chance of them getting hit or stolen. We tried everything from chain link barriers to wooden panels. When it became obvious none of these solutions were going to work we hired a cement contractor to pour a cement wall deep under the soil by the fence which put an end to Barnaby’s digging period.
Unable to dig his holes, Barnaby contented himself with what else was at hand. On days when it rained I left the dogs either in the garage or in the house. Left outside the two smaller dogs would seek shelter in the large dog house provided for them in bad weather, but Barnaby, one brick short of a full load would sit in the rain until he drowned unless someone came to rescue him. One day the dog, too much time on his hands, ate the wooden framework off the door connecting the laundry room and the family room and the wallpaper off one wall. I had just made the last payment after having the designer paper professionally hung. Without a clue in the world he lay snoring atop a pile of the lovely paper with the delicate reeds strewn across it. Pointing to the damage the dog sat looking from side to side like a Felix the Cat clock. Really? Fortunately I had no weapon at hand.
One weekend I had my stepdaughter visiting. While the children were occupied I decided to color my hair. Foaming the last of the gloppy dark goo on my head a commotion arose out back. Barnaby, asleep on the floor, was triggered into action as a strange dog rounded the corner. Before I could yell stop, the dog sailed over the living room furniture and made a bee line for the screen door. On reaching the door he continued right through the netting as though it had been constructed of water vapor. A large gaping hole flapped in the wind behind him. Sigh.
Trying to keep the goop out of my eyes I ran to the yard where the agressive springer spaniel male from next door was challenging Barnaby with snarling teeth. My son, defending his beloved dog, got in between them before I could grab him. Manned with a broom I got the other dog off rescuing my son and the dog ushering everyone in the house. Chasing the intruder back over the fence with my broom (please no comments) I surveyed the damage. One dog bite to my son’s hand, and one goofy dog with a huge messy flap over one eye.
No time to rinse my hair I called the vet to alert them I was bringing the dog in, and pulled on some shoes. Grabbing my purse, the whimpering dog, the children and my keys I rallied the troops in the car. At the vet they kindly made no mention of the fact that my hair, now hardened to my head, left me looking a bit like a department store mannequin or a feminine Ken doll. I left the dog to be tended to and drove to the doctor’s office where once again I endured the curious eyes staring at my hair while waiting to get stitches for my son.
Barnaby, to his humiliation, had to wear a large red bucket over his head for ten days until his stitches were removed. I had to replace the screen door, the wallpaper, and reframe the door. My hair fortunately did not fall out in clumps. However, the dye staying on far longer than recommended left a perfect band of color framing my face which lasted for several days.
Talking to my husband on his return I said either he got his dog in hand or he was going to disappear suddenly with no explanation and I wouldn’t be responsible for the consequences. Looking back I’m not sure if I was referring to the dog or my husband, but that’s another blog. Truly I could not follow through with this threat but it surely felt good to say it out loud. We enrolled the big lug in obedience school (again, the dog) which he soundly failed. The teacher, as I recall, said some dogs were born untrainable. Poor old Barn. He lived to a relatively comfortable old age, despite hip dysplasia. Never the sharpest pencil in the box, but always willing to cuddle at any given moment.
Do I want to take all this on again? I’m thinking about it. Boo, the Queen of Cats, has cast her vote and has threatened to veto any yeas coming down the chute.
I had this lighter version of potato salad at a potluck recently and asked for the recipe. Equally as satisfying as it’s mayonnaisey partner, I had to share it.
Green Bean and Red Potato Salad
6 large red potatoes, diced
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 red onion halved and thinly sliced
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/8 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. mint
Cover the potatoes with water in large saucepan. Bring to boil Reduce heat and cook until fork tender, about 20-25 mins. Drain and allow to cool. Dice.
Cover beans with water in saucepan. Bring to boil and cook until tender. Drain and cool. Cut in half if longer beans.
Add diced potatoes, beans, onion, bacon, and blue cheese to large mixing bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients. Toss with vegetables. Refrigerate at least 2 hrs. or overnight.