Friday, July 31, 2009


This is Smiley. He's one of the first dogs Stella met after she came to live with me. He isn't a carny dog but it's clear he could've been. For an unknown number of years, he was a savvy street dog in Houston, Texas. Thanks to my friend Beverly, Smiley now lives on a huge farm in Kentucky with his long time girlfriend, Pepper. He didn't have much use for Stella when they met. Of course, she was a rude puppy back then and he let her know right off that he wasn't about to tolerate any of her foolishness.

Some of you may have seen this either in the paper or in the Twitter feed early in the week but I couldn't pass up another chance to post it here. It's a beautifully written story about trying to find a street dog named Ahu, in Pakistan.. LINK

(The Late Edition) Pepper

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Final Countdown

I didn't get nervous until the girl reached for Stella's leash. She completely locked her legs and gave me a terrified look I hadn't seen before. The one that said:

"Aren't you going to do something? I thought you were my friend."

I don't mind saying, it rattled me a little. I didn't blame her. Fifty percent of the times we've been in this room, Stella's woken up the next day with staples in her leg. Reluctantly, she gave up and went on for what would hopefully be her final x-ray. I meanwhile, stared a hole through that framed poster on the wall. You know the one. It's a long raggedy couch with nine golden retriever puppies sitting on it. Almost all of them are looking into the camera. Some variation of it is in every doctor's office. Had I been to see my own doctor, it would've been a row of babies sitting in goofy-ass flower pots with sunflowers on their heads. Same picture.

The longer I sat there the less cute they got. My eyes moved to a different wall where there was a poster of internal details of the canine skeleton. I tried to see the dog's kneecaps without getting up. I could hear Stella's surgeon talking to a woman in the next room about the exact same operation. The clock ticked on and I began to wonder if they were having trouble getting her to hold still, if they'd eventually come back to tell me she had to be sedated, or if the pins escaped without my knowing it. Finally, as I was deep off into the daymare of lost pins, bone fragments, and eight to twelve more weeks of recovery, the door opened. Her doctor entered the room and happily announced that her x-ray was perfect. It had taken a few minutes longer because it looked so good he'd shown it off to his other patient who was about to undergo the whole experience with her own big dog.

While we were talking, Stella was delivered (with treats) back into the exam room, a different look on her face this time. She laid down comfortably on the floor, totally relaxed. He said there wouldn't be any reason for us to return, unless we had a problem. Walk, play, live. No horse racing off-leash for four more weeks :)
We'll take it.

On the way out the door I made her sit on the scale one last time. Sixty one pounds, two ounces.

"We better get walking right now, Stella," I said.

You know that noise that's somewhere between a howl and a growl? I don't know if she knew she was free or what but she sang that tune all the way to the car. It was hilarious. Half an hour later, after four long months, we headed off around the block in the hot rain without an umbrella.
It was grand.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Babysitter

Stella won a rope bone last fall for being the most social dog in her puppy class. It's long gone but one of the big chain stores sent us a coupon for her birthday and she got to get a replacement. I wasn't sure what to choose and then as we were walking down the aisle she just reached out and took it off the hook herself. I have to watch her when we go in those places because she does that with bully sticks also. And rawhide chews. And squeak balls.. I always read her that sign on the door before we go in too. You know the one that says: We welcome your well-behaved pet. One of these days we'll show up and they'll have added a line that reads: Please leave your delinquent, shoplifting pit bull at home.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friends in high places

She has a direct line to the moon. I take her outside now and she has this thing she does where she jumps out ahead and squares off with me and (in her mind) like it or not, we're about to play. She then runs as hard as she can for the four foot length of the leash, spins around to face me and does it again. It isn't new but she hasn't done it for a long time. It's a good sign but I have to say it doesn't go over that well at six o'clock in the morning. It would seem the knees are feeling pretty feisty at this point.

This off-duty police horse (above) tried so hard to make friends with Stella. After some cajoling, she made an effort to get control of her unfounded fear but it was just too overwhelming to do it all at once so she chose to ignore the horse and turned the snarky attitude onto an innocent stick instead. This is one of our old walking paths. At the beginning of last week I started taking her to some more familiar places to do our abbreviated walks. I figured five or ten minutes anywhere but the front yard would be a treat and this one definitely was. We haven't seen the horses out for a long time. When she was a little puppy, we used to visit a horse named Commotion who was always separated from the other horses (because he was bad). He was always happy for company but Stella was a pain then too. The only time she actually seemed to love the horses was that day back in January when we walked for the homeless. Two of them, topped with full-fledged police officers, led us back across the bridge when we went home and I told her we'd get arrested if she acted like a fool that day. Instead, she did her little Tennessee Walking Horse impression all the way across the Cumberland River. Speaking of horses, I commented somewhere that with regard to being off leash, Stella has a tendency to think she is the reincarnation of Spend a Buck. For those of you who missed it or may have been too young to remember, here's a video of one of the most amazing horse races of all time..starring Spend a Buck. [Link]

Off duty police horses out for lunch; Ellington Agricultural Center

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Boyfriend

Me and Janet and Stella went to the show(s) living quarters in Gallatin this morning to drop her back off at her house. Stella, still with ONE MORE WEEK of restriction - couldn't get out the car so again, we only stayed a few minutes. I decided at the last minute that she might need to "stretch" for a minute and that's when we met the very fun-loving and personable Bandit.

I have to say male dogs aren't always her favorite playmates but these two were obviously cut from the same cloth. They seemed instantly compatible and they could have had a fabulous romp out there too except that right after the sniffing and a great deal of eyelash batting, the mean old witch (me) put Stella right back in the car. She made it clear for the first mile of our trip back that I had just totally screwed up her whole day.

(Note: Check out that air conditioned tent! Janet's is the one in the middle. Thanks for the comments in the last post and a big welcome to our newest visitors.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Little Midway Cruise

Stella made a trip over to Rivergate Mall this afternoon to see her old friend Janet. Meyers International Midways is playing a little spot there this week. It's the first midway she's visited since we left her old stomping grounds last September. She seemed right at home and didn't get spooked by any of the general chaos of set up. Some jointee offered to let her win a chew toy after they open tomorrow so we have a good excuse to go back.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Barney & Stella

Stella got to have a little visit with Barney (pictured), Jesse and Maurice this morning. Maurice couldn't believe he was looking at the same puppy he met nine months ago. He spent most of the time, looking stunned. We stayed long enough for her to show off her stuff, then it was time to go. I forgot to mention in the last post that Stella (and Jesse) recently starred in a story on my other blog. [link] It's unreasonably long for a blog post and not exactly what I'd call light reading so to those of you who've already been there and read it - thank you.

Oh, I really should add one more thing. Some of you may have seen it in the Twitter feed but in case you didn't, a few days ago I opened my eyes like I do every morning at six o'clock and Stella walked up to the edge of the bed, like she always does. I stroked her head and we looked at each other, eye to eye. She then opened her mouth and out of it exploded a live cricket. It landed like a cannon ball in my arm pit. I nearly tore down a ceiling fan.

We still can't find the cat.

Summer treats for dogs and their people

Stella barked at a little boy on a tricycle a couple of days ago. I should say she barked at the tricycle. The little boy who was all of about three years old said: "Hush you dog" and despite my giggling, she did. We went for a ride to Percy Priest Lake where there appears to be a good place to swim a dog. At least Stella thought so even though we weren't exactly prepared for such activity. Not sure if she was trying to make up for the swimming pool debacle or not but she walked into the lake, just ankle deep (for her) and laid down in it to survey the landscape. It wasn't fifteen seconds before she got up and walked us about eight feet off to the side and had a squat pee right in the water; took two steps and got herself a drink.

"Dogs are gross," I said.

Then she walked back to where she started at the edge of the lake and again laid down in the water, presumably staking some claim on the entire panorama.

In the spirit of summer and lake water in general, here's a recipe for Lemon Shake-Ups that comes straight off the midway.

Lemon Shake-Ups
2 C sugar
1 C water
1 C fresh squeezed lemon juice
Combine sugar and water in a pan and boil 5 minutes. Cool the (sugar/water) to room temperature and add lemon juice. Refrigerate any unused portion. Add 2 Tbs. of this mixture to each glass of ice water put a second glass over top and and shake it up

Here's another single-serving take on it.
1/4 C sugar
16 oz cold water
half a lemon (squeezed and dropped into the glass)
Let the sugar have a minute to dissolve, add ice and then turn a glass over the top and shake it up.
Street value: $4.00 (We're thinking of opening a stand).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hot Dogs and Carny Dogs

So the Wienermobile is following us on Twitter. Is that great or what? I can't wait to see that thing on the street. I hope Stella's in the car when it happens. I'd like to get a picture of her with her head hanging out the window of it. Wonder what their policy is on that - live dogs in the Wienermobile..I didn't know it but they've been on the road since 1936 and we're sorry to report that Mr. Oscar Mayer (the grandson) died Monday, at the age of 95. [story] I hadn't any idea this had happened until I started looking for the link.

Stella is getting noticeably rambunctious despite the fact that I've taken her along with me several times to run errands. She can't go if I have to be out of the car for very long because of the heat but I think it helps break up her day, just getting out. She's been favoring both legs equally for the first time in four months though. Amen. Last week we tried swimming in a friends pool. I wish I had some pictures of that except it was pretty much a disaster. Her desire to get out of the pool overtook her both times I was able to get her in. We'll definitely try it again but I think the lake might be a better way to start (still trying to locate a place where she can just walk in or out at her own pace. We were in the pool together twice for about twelve seconds and I came out looking like I was in a fight with a weed eater. Smooth.

This is Lilly & Buttercup, two lovable little carny dogs I met in Nashville a couple of months ago. At the moment I think they are living large at the Calgary Stampede. I wonder if they have the Tornado Potato up there yet...

Our correspondent in Calgary has replied this afternoon with a photo and is happy to report that they do in fact, have the Tornado Potato but there it's called the Whacky Potato (sp?)!!! Thanks guys!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Suds your Duds

Please excuse the graphic description I am about to include in today's post. If you think of it in a Lucy Ricardo sort of way, you will come much closer to the reality of the whole situation. No, seriously.

First the basics. I am a forty-seven year old woman. I weigh approximately 120 pounds. Corndog Stella - weighs fifty-seven pounds. That's like two twenty-five pound bags of dog food stacked on top of each other, with a couple of six packs of soda tossed on. Twenty-four ouncers.

Although her weight varied, from September to February, I gave Stella baths in the shower - with me. That thud you just heard was my mother's head hitting her printer stand on the way down. While I understand some of you may be repulsed by the thought of showering with a dog I assure you, we both come out better for it. The only thing that really suffers are the bathroom walls and my landlord's drain (bummer).

The tricky part isn't the showering, the showering is sort of zen-like to be honest, but it's getting the pit bull into the shower that's the real talent. It's a bathtub. I have to open the shower curtain, step one foot out of the slick-ass bathtub, pick her up NAKED, turn back to the tub and put her down standing, in the water. Typically I will then tell her that she's the best dog in the world and to Stay. At that point I pray that she does, sometimes I even pray aloud (note to Mom).

So a few days ago, after a long hiatus I decide it's time for Stella to have a bath. To be safe (hah), I get out a pair of shower shoes, the old style flip-flops you get at the beach, and put them in the bathtub with me while I shower. At one point I step into them and immediately they suction themselves like a frog, to the floor of the bathtub. I almost fall down. Fine I think to myself, I'll just leave them off and stand in them later, after I get her in here. So here we go with the potential 911 moment and Stella hasn't done this in a while, so she's mighty tense (I'm told this is because I'm tense which would make her a psychic - no?) I step, left foot out of the tub, wrap my left arm in front of her chest, tuck my right arm under her rump and stand upright. Then I move my left foot back into the tub and set her down in it. When I do, her front feet go right into the flip flops and suddenly she's standing on one of them and wearing the other one like a bracelet.

Did I mention before that I am NAKED? In a shower? With a pit bull, wearing thongs? Now I get laughing so hard in there that she thinks I've gone insane and I wonder if maybe I haven't. And she's looking at me like: Are we gonna' do this thing or not? It is at this moment I realize that I'm not always forty-seven years old. Sometimes, when the planets are aligned just right, I still get to visit seventeen, this day thanks to Stella.

[Ed. note] Somebody recently asked if I was absolutely head over heels in love with Stella now that she and I had been through these surgeries together (savvy question, I thought). The answer is yes, of course. I loved her before she was ever injured but the day you find yourself bathing an animal half your size with a warm washcloth because she can't do it herself, you're pretty much done for.

We recommend Perfect Coat natural oatmeal shampoo and, if you should choose this method of bathing for your own big dog, a crash helmet.