Finja the Devil Dog and Her Monkey

Don’t let this precious little face fool you. It’s the face of a devil dog, and I created her!

See that thing in Finja’s mouth? Of and by itself, it is an adorable little thing. It is a stuffed monkey made for dogs and it makes the most gosh-awful sound when the dog squeezes it. Finja loves to squeeze it. That’s Problem number 1.

Problem number 2: She is absolutely, unequivocally and resolutely obsessed with the thing. No big deal, right?

Wrong.

My little pupper will not, repeat, will NOT let go of this thing, for anything, except food. What you see here in this picture is exactly how she, and it, look all day long. She carries it in her mouth everywhere she goes. When she has it, we keep her separate from the other dogs because, well, it is entirely possible that there could be an unfriendly discussion among them. So, we remove the monkey from her mouth and put it someplace where she won’t know where it is.

Ha!

So much for that idea. Dogs and their sense of smell. We have since found a fool-proof hiding spot, but until we did, no matter we put the monkey to encourage her to forget about it, no luck. She became a quasi-pointing dog, eyes unwavering on the spot where the monkey was “hiding.”

We are thinking this monkey is her “baby” in a very real sense, but never having bred dogs, maybe someone can tell me if this makes sense?

This whole monkey deal is somewhat endearing, except for when it is really, really not.

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The Devil Has a Bathtub

Several weeks ago, my man-friend Dominic and I went for a hike in our favorite park, in our favorite place in the park. The park is Mendon Ponds Park, the largest park in our county, and if I do say so myself, the most beautiful. I have spent many hours there swimming as a child at its now-gone little beach, as a teen, sitting on a hilltop with a favorite beau, as a parent of young children, sledding down one of its many hills, as an adult horse-rider, going for Zen rides on one of its many trails, and now as an older adult, hiking, sitting, and drinking up its magic.

Devil’s Bathtub on an early winter afternoon

My favorite place in the park is a kettle-hole, which is a small, glacier-made pond surrounded by steep ridges. Its actual formation was caused by retreating glaciers and as such, it is rumored to be very deep. I have always been fascinated with it because of its astounding beauty and geological history. However, I became obsessed when in 2009 and 2016 it became the focal point of two of the most gruesome murders in our city’s history.

Whenever I go there I feel I can hear like the ghosts of its victims are whispering through the trees.

Kissing 2020 Goodbye

Where there’s life, there’s hope, no matter how precarious that life may seem.

Write or Not to Write: That is the Question

I like to write

So write

But …

I don’t know the words to use.

How can you write without words?

Will you help me?

No. I can’t. I won’t.

Why not?

They’re your words, or should be.

But …

So write, even if it’s mush.

Why?

Because it will be your mush and no one else’s.

Okay. Should I go to school?

No, don’t go to school.

Why not?

Go take a walk in the woods. Write what you see. Write what you feel. That is enough.

Okay.

Rosie the Executioner

Look at this face. Have you ever seen anything so sweet?

Don’t let this face fool you. This is our beloved Rosie and she is much cherished by us. But she is also, shall we say, a fighter of the most skilled and skulking kind.

We first learned of our little angel’s prowess when we began to see little breathless (translated dead) creatures scattered about our backyard. Then one day, we came upon the remains of an animal about as big as she — a rabbit. That one really killed me, too. The thing of it is, Rosie is only in it for the kill. Once she’s done her duty, she’s off to some other adventure, like barking maniacally at the neighboring pitbulls.

Now here’s the rub. Once Rosie has grown bored of the poor dead creature, our Finja comes along and finds it to be quite the delicacy. I will never forget the night when I came upon her devilish red eyes crouched over some departed animal soul imbibing to her heart’s content.  On that night, I scooped her up as quickly as possible and rendered her mourning in my arms for her prize delicacy.

The issue with Rosie is her prey drive. She is an expert and obsessive Frisbee player, a behavior which is related to prey drive. Does that mean we should stop doing her most favorite thing in the world? No. It’s important to understand how to let the dog exercise the prey drive in controlled situations and places, like the very nice fenced in and tightly contained back yard. This article presents a nice and simple way to allow the dog to have fun with a Frisbee while exercising the prey drive in a relatively cost-free way.

Now for my little Finja carnivore: what’s better than a nice, fresh, juicy … well, you get the picture….

Okay, so that’s a gross summary of the backyard war zone. Next time I’ll talk about the inside battle field.

Finja’s First Friend

Brinkley

When we brought Finja home, she was “welcomed” by our other three Boston Terriers. Rosie was Finja’s age at 1 ½, Sasha was 9, and Brinkley was 11. Of the three, Brinkley was the one who was showing his age, and of the three, Brinkley is the one Finja attached herself to. Not robust play material anymore, Finja nevertheless teased and cajoled him into playing tag, tug of war, and catch the ball. He’s no longer with us, but I’m convinced Finja added a few years to his life.

After a long period of standoffishness in her new home, Finja decided I was to be her main peep squeeze. She quit growling, sort of, and followed me everywhere I went. During my sacred 4 p.m. cozy time on the couch with the pups, she made sure she aligned her body alongside my thigh. However, she and her “twin” sis have then, and now, had a love-hate relationship, and there have been numerous fights over the years.

More on the saga of fighting next time.

Finja and Her Friends, Chapter 2

I spent 2 weeks going to Conny’s every other day to give Finja her medicated bath. She was very wary of me, the bathtub, and the whole process, but we endured. When the 2 weeks were up, it was time to bring Finja home.

Finja under the table

Homecoming was an exciting day – for me, not so much for Finja. I held my new little Boston in my arms as we drove the short distance to our home. She trembled like a leaf in a windstorm the whole way. The tighter I held her, the more she shook.

Welcome home. We’d put the other 3 dogs in another room to avoid Finja going on complete overload, but on overload she went anyway. She made a beeline for under the dining room table and except for going potty and eating, that’s where she stayed for 2 weeks, growling all the way.

How did it go with our other dogs? At Conny’s Finja was part of a pack of 5, so our meager 3 actually gave her some comfort. Let’s put it this way, when they were around, the growling ceased, and when they were off doing their thing, back under the table Finja went, growling every time one of us looked at her.

Finja and Her Friends

Chapter 1: In the Beginning

I have a little, 13-ish pound Boston Terrier named Finja. (Her weight varies depending on how many treats she begs off her many neighborhood friends.) She came from an Amish puppy mill, and when she arrived to be with her foster mother Conny, she was basically hairless with skin issues and terrified beyond belief. Conny knew we were looking for another BT to join our then pack of three, so she encouraged me to come over to her rescue home every other day to assist in giving Finja her medicated bath. And so I did. And so Finja and I built a strong bond, albeit slowly and gently.

Here’s how Finja arrived in New York. The angels in the rescue group that got Finja drove out to Ohio to an event where dog breeders sold, exchanged, and gave away those pups they no longer wanted. The rescue grabbed Finja because the Amish miller thought her skin issue was due to mange, a very difficult ailment to treat and one that is highly contagious to other dogs and humans. This is how Finja came to Rochester and landed into the loving home of my foster Mom and friend, Conny.

Next Chapter: Under the Dining Room Table

The Sweet Sounds of Summer (?)

A lovely summer afternoon, gentle breeze, sweet smell of honeysuckle, and most important of all – peace and QUIET.

City of Long Beach, CA

I want to scream. I have a sweet little 8 foot by 6 foot pool in the backyard that I call my sanity spa. It is equipped with a donut-hole float, and a long, raft-float. My summer vacation consists of reading while I bounce about in the donut and take naps while floating on the raft. It is an idyllic existence for spending a leisurely summer during the pandemic. Except for …

WHEN IT’S NOT QUIET!@!

And much to my deep chagrin, this is often the case.

So, you say, buck up and let the neighborhood kids enjoy their summer fun!

It’s not neighborhood kids.

Well then, let the boy next door enjoy practicing his drums.

It’s the boy next door practicing drums, nor the girl across the street playing the piano.

Could it be a gaggle of crows wanting to chase away some poor, unfortunate owl?

No crows, no owl.

None of the above.

Here’s a hint:

The other day I had sunk into a lovely rapture while floating on my raft when I sprung off it in a fit of frustration and fear due to the suddenly loud and intrusive buzzing of a hedge trimmer.  

My neighbors. My butt to backyard neighbors. My 60-something neighbors. My obsessive-compulsive, yard-fanatical neighbors. My neighbors who often mow their Pebble Beach Golf Club-perfect lawn every day. Who trim their 2-foot high hedges once a week. Who had near-apoplexy when the water company had to dig up their lawn to fix a broken water main.

Take your pick: lawn mower, hedge trimmer, power-washer, edger, weed whacker, oh, and dare I forget, their daily greeting as they float about in their own, much-bigger-than-my pool. (Did I mention the moaning of their pool pump?) If you’re looking for non-natural yard noise, come join me and let the cacophony begin!

The Last Breath

The hardest part was feeling his soft breath on my arm as I held him, knowing that in just a few minutes his breath would be no more.  Lying in my arms, cradled in a blue and white flannel blanket, he was calm and relaxed, free from the illness that ravaged him and made his body so fragile and deformed.

Brinkley was 15. He’d had a good run, though his last few years were tough. He developed Addison’s disease and had many bouts of illness where, as my vet said, we did not think he’s be going home with you. He always came home. Like a cat with 9 lives, only there weren’t that many for Brinkley.

Brinkley always rallied. He was on long-term prednisone, which kept him going and comfortable, except when it didn’t. He was also blind and deaf. He negotiated where he was going by swinging his head back and forth to catch tell-tale odors that guided him. We had to be ever-so-careful to keep him from falling, but despite our efforts, he had several rendezvous apiece with the water bowl and the window well. Towards the end we had to carry him in and out to go potty. Even closer to the end, he couldn’t poop at all.

It was time. He told me so. He told me so when he turned his nose away from his food bowl, when he had no interest in cuddling, and when it was obvious to me that he didn’t know where he was anymore. It was time for that dreaded drive when he wouldn’t come home.

I will forever cherish the memory of my Brinkley’s final breaths on my arm.