Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Ari say, “Relax”.

Posted: February 29, 2012 in Dogs

A month ago, we got a puppy from the SPCA, a Christmas gift from our son Craig.  We’d had to have our beautiful Cocker “Frankie”, put down, when she developed cancer.  Ari (short for “Aria”, the name of MGM resorts newest Las Vegas property, chosen because Craig works for MGM Resorts there) is (allegedly) a Beagle/Jack Russell.  We now suspect that the shelter people just threw the “beagle” part in to not scare people off, given the energetic, high-strung Jack-Russell part, because this little dog is a handful!  Caught here in a RARE moment of repose, Ari is a bundle of energy with springs for legs.  Much different that Frankie was, at 14 years, she had been slowing down, a nice match for us!


Ari is 5 1/2 months old, and having not had a puppy before (all our other dogs came to us a young adults, already trained and housebroken) , it’s like having an energetic toddler in the house.  Who chews things.  We got one of those crates (I’m not supposed to call it a cage), and just this week a smaller one for her to sleep in at night.  We’d had her sleeping with us, but it’s surprising how much room an 11 pound dog, with razor sharp toe-nails, takes up in a Queen size bed.   That seems to be working out well, at least Kim says she is sleeping much better.  I kind of miss snuggling up with Ari…

One thing we’ve found is that having a puppy in the house completely upsets the decor, the “Fung Shue” in the home.  In addition to dozens of squeaky dog toys, two cages, suspicious spots on the carpet, we’ve now walled off the dining room in order to try to keep her corralled while we eat.  Pink foam board isn’t pretty, but it does seem to keep her in sight, and it’s easy to move.  Hopefully, that’ll be a temporary thing, once she’s had more than two days of not pooping on the rug as soon as we turn our backs. 

She is pretty cute, and, like Frankie before her, she makes everybody she meets fall in love with her.  She likes to ride in the car, she’s loves going for long walks, and gets along great with our cat, Milo.  I felt bad not having a dog after Frankie died, and while Ari has  a completely different personality,  she’s captured our hearts.

So long, Frankie.

Posted: December 14, 2011 in Dogs

Yesterday, December 12, we lost our friend Frankie.  She left us deeply saddened, but also deeply grateful for the short time she was with us.  I know I’m a better person having had the honor of having her in my life.  After a brief, but rapidly progressing illness, we had to have her put down.  She was alert and seemed painfree untill the end, which made the decision more difficult for us, but better for her.

She adopted Kim and I on Kim’s birthday, April 29th, 1999.  Our next door neighbors at the time, a young couple who’d bought the house from my parents, had taken her in after  the girls sister had found her, lost, skinny, hair matted and packed with burrs, wandering on the road near their parents  home.  They had her there for a month or two, but largely ignored her, and she was frequently in our yard, seeking attention and making Kim fall in love with her.  She (Kim) went so far as to let Frankie (the kids next door had given her that name) in the house.   I liked her too, but didn’t feel comfortable letting the neighbors dog in our house.

On that beautiful, sunny, unseasonably warm April day, my mom called to tell me she had run into another neighbor lady, Maggie,  down the street at the grocery store, who asked her if Kim and I had a black Cocker.  Someone had almost hit one in the road in front of their house, half a mile away from us.  Since she didn’t have a collar or tags, the lady  had taken her  home, 10 miles away, and said she’d try to find her owner.  Maggie had the ladies phone number who took the dog, to help find her owner.

I knew Frankie liked to roam, and immediately called Maggie to tell her that Frankie belonged next door to us.  As I was dialing, I heard something in the kitchen, and turned around to see Frankie, setting happily in the kitchen waiting to be noticed.  I’d left the back door open and she’d run away from the woman who’d nearly hit her, taken her almost 10 miles away, ran home to hour house, and simply let herself in. 

Of course, I immediately took her “home” next door, where they told me that since she wouldn’t stay home, they were going to get rid of her. 

“If you wouldn’t mind”, I said, “She seems to like it at our house.  Kim loves her, and we’d like her if it’s OK.”

“Naw,”, the young man said, “my wife can’t teach a puppy dog to stay home, I don’t know what she’ll do with a baby (they were pregnant at the time), you can have her.”  Obviously, some seeds of discord were sprouting in their patch of marital bliss, but that’s another story…

When Kim got home, I presented her with the only really beautiful birthday present I think I’ve ever gotten her, Frankie.  We went to Meijers that evening and bought her some dog food, toys, her first collar, and a wicker bed.  Kim said Frankie wouldn’t sleep in it, but as soon as I put it down she hopped in and curled up, tail thumping.  She slept in it almost every night the next 12 years.  Always her own dog, she’d sometimes start out in our bed, but would end up in her own bed by morning.  I like independence in a dog.

So, that’s how Frankie came to our house and into our lives.  For the past 12 years, she’s been our constant companion, traveling buddy, and comfort when things weren’t going well.  Through cancer, job losses, health problems, arguments, and the usual human trials, she was happy, energetic and loving.  She was ALWAYS cheerful, loved whatever we did and being wherever we were.   It was hard to be in a bad mood or unhappy in her company, even when she would remind us she was, just when we’d think of her as human, first and always,  a dog.

She rode on the seat between us happily all day long in the convertible, her long black hair blowing in the wind, on dozens of trips,  and surprised us once by escaping her seat belt harness, leaping out over side of the ’48 Pontiac convertible, and finding us in a wine tasting room!  She loved camping with us, and NEVER ran away from us, although she did manage to learn to open the screen door of the Spartan and found us once in a crowd of hundreds of people at a Tin Can Tourist rally tent.  Somebody down the row of tables said, “Hey, there’s a DOG in here!”, and it was Frankie, sniffing everybody’s feet down the line untill she found us.

Never a big fan of boating, she HATED the water, although she tolerated rides in the Chris Craft.   We tried to acclimate her to the water, but she never was comfortable if her feet didn’t touch.  All the more frightening then the time she fell of a pier in at the harbor in Petoskey in March, and I had to lift her 10 feet up out of the icy water by her retractable leash and pinch collar.

She was a beautiful, gentle soul who touched the lives of hundreds of people, and made everyone she met fall in love with her.  Laying her to rest, two weeks after my birthday,  on a beautiful, sunny, unseasonably warm December day,  in a pretty spot under the trees in our back yard was the single most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.   Digging her grave through the tears in the warm sun,  seemed somehow like good work, a  final thing and show of respect  for her.  I turned up a horseshoe in the dirt, an odd but somehow comforting object that I used as a grave marker on a marble tile. 

I don’t know if we’ll get another dog.  Certainly not right away.   I grew up with dogs, labs and German short hairs.  Hunting dogs, dogs who worked for living.  I had  always thought little dogs were something less than ideal as dogs go.  Frankie taught me I was wrong about that, along with lots of other lessons.  She had high expectations of me, I hope I can live up to them.

So long Frankie.

Faithful readers will recall the ’06 Mercury Milan I bought as a total, and repaired using Ford Fusion front sheet metal because it was 1/3 the price.  The paint store had mixed the wrong paint, resulting in the worlds worst two-tone paint scheme.  I could have simply picked a metallic red at random and been closer.  This weekend, I prepped the car and repainted the front end with the new paint they’d mixed, free of charge.  I’m happy to say, as you can see here, that it’s now a uniform brick red color. 

Untill today, the front end had been about 4 shades darker than the rest of the body, it was a totally different color.  So much so, that Kim wouldn’t ride in it with me, people made fun of it at my work, and I was embarrassed to admit I’d painted it.  Really, it was bad, although admittedly it wasn’t my fault.  The guy at the paint store had initially insisted it was my spraying technique, or the temp, but when I walked him out the door of his shop to look  at the car, he said, “Oh man, we must have mixed that wrong.”  Really. 

Also seen relaxing in the photos is Frankie, our dog, who’s recovering from her latest near death experience.  She’d been hit by a car a week ago, and is slowly getting back to her normal self.  She’s a little stiff and sore acting, and still reluctant to go up steps, but we have our dog back. 

I reconfigured Kim’s sewing table today to accommodate her new Pfaff quilting machine, and also got a little time on the Diamond T, fitting running board braces and mounted the fuse panel in the cab.  I’d like to have gotten some of the sheet metal in color, but, there’s still warm days ahead, and it all has to get done anyway.   I split and stacked a pickup load of wood today too, so it was a busy day.

Next weekend is the “Relix Riot” show at the Gilmore Museum, we’re looking forward to a weekend of camping and Hot Rods!

That’s all for now, more news as it happens here in Milo, at the edge of the cornfield.

While getting the roadster cleaned up  to Nat’s North Friday morning, I heard what I thought was a car crashing in front of our house.  Kim and I both yelled to each other, “What WAS that?”.   She thought it’d come from the shop, and there was no car wrapped around a tree on our street, so I looked in the shop.

Sure enough, it WAS from the shop!   What had happened was the Diamond T had rolled off the jack stands.  I had the rear wheels off, axle on stands, and the front wheels were on the wheel stands (two disk blades with pipe between, tires set on them, about 14″ tall).  I’ve used these things for 30 years, very handy, and as they are dished, to roll off, the car has to roll uphill.   Which, evidently, can happen when a tire goes flat.  ( The left front tire has a slow leak. )

When I’d jacked up the back to pull the wheels, the truck was pulled back a little, so the front tires were no longer centered on the stands.  Tire went flat, pushing it back even further, and it rolled backwards and off.   The horrible crashing noise was the stainless grill halves sliding off the roof, down onto the cowl, bouncing off the engine, fenders and hitting the floor.   Nothing was damaged, aside from a small paint chip on the edge of the cowl when the grill hit it.  No big deal.

The scary thing is that I’ve been working under this on the rear fenders for two weeks with it setting like this.  Fortunately, I’d left the floor jack under the rear axle,  no weight on it but it was locked and up about an inch from the center.  The truck just rolled back, fell down onto the jack at the rear, and the front dropped the 14 or so inches down to the floor.  If the jack hadn’t been there, the truck would have fallen onto the rear hubs (the wheels were off), the fenders and running boards would have been crushed, lot’s of damage of handmade, one-off pieces.  It would have been a huge set back.  Even worse, I could have been under it when it happened.  Of course, it was on jack stands, the jack there too, but still, it would have been scary at the least.

In addition to that, our dog Frankie, a 12 year old English Cocker,  was apparently hit by a car on Thursday evening.  We’d let her out before bedtime, as usual, and she didn’t come right back to the door, not usual.  She’s very hard of hearing, but I went out and whistled and clapped (which she can hear) and after a few minutes heard rustling in the leaves at the end of the house.  Sure enough, it was her in the dark, but clearly something was very wrong.

We called our Vet (it was 1030 pm) and he met us at the clinic where we left her.  All of us thought she’d perhaps gotten into something and eaten a huge amount of something (the Vet thought she’d been poisoned), given her history of pancreatitis.  Lab results revealed no elevation of pancreatic enzymes, but very elevated liver enzymes, perhaps poisoning and acute liver failure,  but the next day (we left her) he discovered a laceration on the inside of left hind leg from ankle to abdomen.  She was shocky, low blood pressure, and didn’t bleed.  He surmised the shock was trauma, most likely from being struck by a car, and she came home, lame and sore, Saturday noon.

She’s still not herself, but getting better, spending her time in the guest room, her “comfort” zone where she has always gone when frightened by storms or not feeling well.  Thank goodness, we thought we’d lost her for a while there.  Again.

So, all’s well that ends well.  The best dog ever is on the mend, the truck is not ruined, I’m not squashed, and life is good!