Beware of the Doggie in the Window

My dear sweet friend recently lost her precious pup to kidney disease and at the same time, a beloved family member moved out for distant horizons. It is now, she has decided, time for a new puppy.

My cuddle puppy

Always hot on the trail of puppies, I did some research for her and found an ad in the Buffalo, NY classifieds for a French bulldog. Price? $900. Red flag number 1. This is a ridiculously low amount for a French bulldog.

Buffalo is only an hour from us, so no big deal to hop in the car and see these puppies for real, except, said the “breeder,” – they were already gone.  However, she said, she “had a friend in Texas” who has Frenchies for sale and gave my friend the contact information.

My friend contacted the Texas breeder, who also claimed to have 2 puppies, also $900 or 2 for $1500, including transportation. Too good to be true? You got it! Still, a picture arrived that tugged at both of our hearts. However, my friend is a very wise woman. Something just doesn’t feel right, she told me. And it wasn’t.

This morning I did a Google search on the photo the Texas “breeder” sent to my friend. Lo and behold, there was the exact picture with the now 18 month old Frenchie that was “sold” a year ago.

Puppy scamming has been on the uptick, like so many things, during the Covid pandemic. But like my friend and I did, there are things to watch for. These include:

  • “Breeders” that do not want you to “see” the puppy on premise. Always see the puppy with your own eyes, and touch him with your own hands.
  • Emails or text message communication only, often with poor grammar and spelling
  • Payment with gift cards or wire transfer only
  • Pictures that turn out to be fraudulent. To check:
    • Download the picture and save to your computer
    • Access Google Images
    • Load the picture to the search box
    • Click search or hit Enter
    • For scams, you are likely to see the exact photo on another site, which is what happened with my friend.

We all need companionship and love during this time, but the key is to avoid scams where perverted people prey on the needs of others.

My friend will definitely get her puppy, and when she does, she will have a warm, loving baby to cuddle up with and adore.

It’s a Small, Small World

Do you remember the song, It’s a Small, Small World  from the wonderful rides by the same name at Disney World and Disneyland? For some reason, that song is stuck in my head– not that it’s a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s meaningful because my world has become very small indeed. Like many of us, I only go to the grocery store, have Zoom meetings with colleagues, friends, and docs, and spend lots of low-key time and reading, reading, reading.

Now that it’s summer I do much of my reading in my little backyard swimming pool. It’s not exactly lap-material, but it is plenty big to let me float with my butt tightly wedged into my inflatable donut. Thus, I drift happily along while absorbed in my latest tome.

I have always been a homebody, so the pandemic didn’t cramp my style, too terribly, anyway. I relish the daily routine and rhythms of our home. I look forward to my everyday walk with my Boston Terrier, Finja, and my regular bicycle rides. Granted, I spend way too much tine scouring for the latest dirt on Trump, wishing that the bottom falls out from his 2020 bid.  

The fall looms, and with it, more time cozied up at home. My classes for the fall will be held online, so no worries about walking through rain and snow, or driving on icy roads. Like so many others, I’ll be working here in our home, with my precious dogs at my feet, my conure-bird in her cage as I grade papers, and being safely cocooned in my very own small, small world.

Lament from a Sad Citizen

I received a letter from a former colleague who testified that the corona virus is all a big hoax and a conspiracy conjured by Bill Gates who he claims has profited during this pandemic. This from another (very) rich man. I wrote him back and simply said, “You’re crazy.”

I see daily messages from the leader of my country who proclaims the virus is going to disappear, like magic and who refuses to wear a mask. Ignoring pleas from medical experts, he conducts huge rallies indoors with no social distancing, and of course, no masks, urges states to “open up” and return to business as usual, mocks his competitor for wearing a mask, and all this while the rate of the disease skyrockets. He is not my leader.

It is confounding, and immoral that the this virus has become a source of contention between Republicans and Democrats. I feel lucky to live in New York, in a state where our Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo led our state from having the highest number of cases in the county to at present, the lowest. He did this without politics. He did this to protect his people. He waged the Covid war and won. Now it is the Republicans who won’t wear masks and urge states to hurry and open up. Republican governors are doing just that. It is the states lead by these Republican governors that are drowning in Covid.

I feel safe here in New York until the inevitable happens and people from states where Covid is running rampant come and bring with them the illness against which we fought so hard. We will then have to fight the fight again under the guidance of our very capable governor.

Thus I am proud to call myself a New Yorker. I am ashamed to admit I am American.

My Old Horse

Buzzy and I have been good friends for 20 years. I rescued him from the harness racetrack in Saratoga as he was actually on his way to a can of dogfood. He was 8 and robust then, he’s 30 and tired now.

We don’t have too much more time together, but we’ve had a glorious ride! Crazy times, fun times, scary times, adventures, sickness, and more. Our bond was one of sickness and health when his jaw was broken after another horse kicked him. It had to be wired back together surgically, and he then got salmonella from the whole experience. I spent nights lying with him in his stall. An IV bag was slung over the stall door, and I desperately held his exhausted head in my hands, willing him to live. Despite blood like sludge and impossible white cell counts, just like my vet said, this was a horse that had life in his eyes, however dim it might be. Life won!

I could fill a book with our times together, and as I write this, I think I’ll do just that. But in the meantime, this is a photo taken yesterday of my boy he stretched his neck to get that last carrot in the bag.

Alone, Together

Life has not been much different for us during this pandemic. We are solitary souls who enjoy each other’s presence even though we relish our separate spaces in our home. Still, knowing he is in that other room is soothing. We are well suited in that way. I am an only child and grew up in near seclusion and he is deaf, living in a world of near silence. Most of our communication is unspoken. I know embarrassingly little of sign language, and he now has a cochlear implant that doesn’t respond well to voices. (One downside of the pandemic is he has not been able to see the doc for an adjustment). But we manage and have comfort in our distinct yet conjoined worlds.

Despite our cocooning in our cozy little home, I feel strangely merged with the outside world. It is a scary world, but also a hopeful one. Fear comes in the form of the white House and the resident monster that lives there. Hope comes in the form of the hundreds of thousands who have watched a man die unjustly and come forth throughout the nation to protest his death, and that of all black lives who have been handled cruelly based on bias and prejudice.

The Birds are Gone

What a lovely little saga took place outside my front door for the last few weeks. Every morning I went out with my coffee and journal to see how the babies in the nest in our lamp were doing. It was such fun seeing how they grew — and how quickly! Every time we were out there, both Mama and Papa perched directly above us. At first they in a frenetic flutter but eventually settled into a more relaxed chirp — surely just to let us know they were there. They did indeed show excellent parenting skills.

The last few days the babies were suddenly BIG, and I knew the time was near. It was. This morning the little nest in the lamp was bare. Who knew I would grieve the end of the sweet little saga of the birds in lamp?

I ask myself, if life had not been boiled down to a level of simplicity I’ve never before know, would I have noticed. let alone relished, the developing life of a baby bird and the doting of her bird parents?.

Dancing With Birds

Bird # 1

As do most houses, we have a porchlight mounted to the side of our front door. We don’t use it often because we don’t get many visitors. One day recently I noticed a bunch of grass and stuff in the lamp, and on the subsequent day, as I walked out the door there was a woosh and slight breeze on my face. Putting two and two together, I realized there was a little bird living in the lamp. Evidently it was one very smart wren who has taken up residence in our covered and very protected porch light. What safer place to be during our very wet and cold spring?

On the one summery day we’ve had so far, I sat myself down on the protected patio in front of the front door. Book in hand, I was looking forward to a nice, relaxed time of reading. However, there was one bird who was clearly hanging out as close as she dared; I had no doubt it was Mama Wren keeping tabs on me.

We now make most of our entrance and exit exercises through the garage door.

Bird # 2

About a week ago, I was working in my home office when I heard what sounded to me like drilling. I didn’t think anything of it, and assumed it was just a neighbor doing something, and continued on with my work. A day later, same noise. This time I looked around the house and found the noise was coming from our fireplace gas insert. Instant alert. It took me another day to convince my partner that there was indeed a noise coming from our house, in particular, the fireplace. Once he heard it, we went on high alert and I was instructed to call the company who installed it (he’s deaf).

The company is on lockdown, but I luckily got ahold of someone who asked me to record the sound and send the video to her. I did so, and she pronounced “Woodpecker”. I thought she was either insane or looking for a way to avoid my insistence on having them come out to save us from possible extinction due to an exploding fireplace.

“Go out the next time you hear it and look up at the metal chimney insert. You can shoo it away. We usually get a number of calls like this in the spring.”

I stayed civil, but I really thought this was the craziest thing I’d ever heard. I mean, I’d never even seen a woodpecker around here. 

The next morning while we were having breakfast, there it was again. Dominic hurried outside, trying not to disturb our resident wren. He came back in the house and said, “I’ll be damned! It was a woodpecker!”

My Sanity, My Dogs

My dogs have been my salvation during this pandemic and I think I may be theirs as well. They are so dear and devoted, happy to sleep at my side, cuddle in my lap, catch an errant Frisbee, or happily stroll along with me on walks.

We’ve done a lot of strolling these weeks. I have my one, youngish Boston Terrier who is my main walking squeeze. She’s come a long way with that, having come to us from the terrors of a terrier Amish puppy mill in Ohio. She spent her first two weeks with us ensconced on the floor under the kitchen table growling from fear and confusion. It is now four years since then and though still skittish, she walks (mostly) with confidence at my side and has (mostly) emerged from under the kitchen table (sans growl).

Brinkley is my old man. He’s 14 – 15 in September, and he’s pretty gnarled now, takes a low dose of prednisone daily to keep pain at bay. He can’t see or hear, and we have to be oh so careful with him to keep him safe. Occasionally he gets “lost” in the backyard and can’t find his way to the door. I must then go out and rescue him. I adopted him from a breeder when he was 6 months old after he’d been returned by two previous buyers and he’s been my lover boy ever since.

Sasha is also on the downhill slide at 12. She has battled Cushings Disease for years, but she has done so with grace and dignity. She is the low dog on canine totem pole in our home. Still, every day at lunch she parks herself at my chair and looks at me with big, doleful eyes that beg for the daily ration of her beloved carrots. She always gets them. I adopted her through a rescue group from a family that just didn’t want her anymore.

Finally, there’s Rosie. Rosie was allegedly a Boston Terrier, but with her longish snout we knew there was something else going on with her. Curiosity compelled us to get a doggie-DNA kit, and voila! We were right. Our clearly non-pure (but adorable) Boston was ¾ her namesake and ¼ Cavalier King Charles!! Go figure. She is my man-friend’s favorite but she puts a little twinkle in my eye, too. She is also the wild one of the bunch and her mission in life is to place a Frisbee at your feet.

Living Through the Pandemic

A time carved out of time. A chasm, deep, but not bottomless.

The landscape is changing. What will it look like when this is over? Will it be ever over?

I tell my students who are sad about missing their graduation to think that they are experiencing something cataclysimic that shall be forever embedded in history, a history about which they can say, “I was there.”

I am one of the lucky ones. I am content with my simple, daily life of reading, writing, and playing with my animals. I am alone with my partner, but instead of a time of tension and separation, we are growing closer. He is our courier and he is happy with that. I am our hearth keeper, and I am happy with that.

Still,  we listen to the news, watch our governor’s daily briefs and cheer him on, watch our president’s daily briefs and scoff in disgust, and wonder how it will all turn out in the end.

My Green Cheek Conure Office Companion

This is Ethel. Ethel is my green cheek conure-parrot. Ethel is my very feisty, very nippy, very bratty parrot. She is also my energetic, always-in-motion, hilarious friend. Ethel has bonded tightly to me and she acts like a shy toddler when someone comes in who she doesn’t know. That’s when she gets herself as far under my chin as she possibly can, probably thinking the visitor will not be able to see her there.

Ethel dances to my said rendition of “You Are my Sunshiine,” and as only animals can do, she clearly loves singing as she happily bounces her head up and down to the beat.

As are so many of us, during this pandemic I am working from home. When I’m at my desk I usually let Ethel out of her cage. I try to encourage her to play on one of her jungle gyms but she usually decides I am her favored playground, which means she crawls all over me, nips at my ear, and generally makes a pest of herslef. A funny pest — the other day, she climbed onto my keyboard and in a flash dug up the “R” key, and like a naughty kid, off she scurried in her hunched over parrot walk, R key in mouth.

Long story short, I got the r key back and at this moment, Ethel is hanging upside down from my glasses. Sigh.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.