Tag Archive | dogs

A Busy Summer Gets Busier

Eddie Izzard

Every year I look forward to summer like a castaway watches for a ship on the horizon. I fantasize about all the rest I’ll get and all the writing I’ll get done. Not happening.

Instead of lazy days in a hammock, my schedule shifts into overdrive. I have more to do than at any other time of the year, and this summer is no exception.

On June 27 we continued the Kilgore family tradition of going to see Eddie Izzard as a family whenever he makes it to Texas. A few years ago we took our grown children to Dallas to see his performance. This year we lucked out because he came to Austin on his Force Majeure Tour. I’d had tickets for Bryan and me and our son and daughter for about three months. Unfortunately, our son had to cancel, so I was able to introduce Eddie to a friend who had never seen him before. She was suitably impressed, and a new Izzardette was born.

We happen to think he is the best stand-up comedian on the planet. His humor is educated and smart, much of it based on ancient history. Eddie Izzard maintains the Roman Empire fell because Latin was a silly language. By the time they conveyed how many barbarians were upon them (MCMXXXIVCCCCCXXIV), they were overrun.

Sometimes he talks about Bible stories. Eddie provides crackerjack impressions of James Mason as the Voice of God and Sean Connery as Noah. This year he added Liam Neeson, as Zeus, to his repertoire. We also had the distinction of witnessing his first sneeze during a routine. He seemed surprised, but no one in the audience was. Welcome to Austin, Eddie.

The very next day, first thing in the morning, I got ready and headed for photo (13)the Hyatt on Ladybird Lake for the Writers League of Texas Agents Conference. I got to introduce and assist Karleen Koen, one of my favorite writers and speakers. This year’s conference was sold out for the first time ever! Jeff Collins, the keynote speaker, was funny and fascinating, and, as always, I met some really interesting people.

If you’re a writer and have wondered if it is worth attending, I can tell you it is. This is my fourth conference, and I’m always impressed by the level of talented speakers and professional organization that goes into it.

While I was at the conference, my husband Bryan filled in for me in Georgetown. The San Gabriel Writers League had a booth at Hilltop Market, and Bryan delivered the canopy and fixings to the writers manning it. I love the way he steps in when I’m overbooked, never complaining and always efficient.

The Georgetown Animal Shelter was in attendance, as well. Between workshops I got a text from Bryan asking how I would feel about another dog. We already have three, but he attached a picture and a sad story about no one wanting this one because she’s eleven years old. Her 86-year-old daddy went into a nursing home, and Lexi had been at the Georgetown shelter for four weeks. I think he was already on his way home with her when he got my text, “Sure, I’m always up for another dog!” The man knows me.

So now we have four small dogs. I comfort myself with the thought that ifLexi you add all their weights together, you get one border collie. Lexi is totally at home, and the other dogs can’t even find anything about her worth a growl.

I’ve got a full dance card, and the cotillion ain’t over yet. Next in line will be the Writers League of Texas Writers Retreat in Alpine in August. I can’t wait: a week in one of my favorite places concentrating on writing. The part of heaven where they stash the writers probably looks a lot like this retreat; at least I hope so.

I can only hope all of you are as busy and having as much fun as I am this summer. If not, watch Eddie Izzard on YouTube and adopt a dog. That’s a start.




Cry Havoc! The Wars of Dog

Taco collarNo doubt about it. We love our dogs. They are all rescues, co-opted mainly from various relatives who couldn’t or wouldn’t take care of them, and there’s not a pedigree in the bunch. They are all mixed breeds, although one, Angie, may be the product of inter-species dating.

Angie, the oldest at 16, has congestive heart disease and is going downhill. In less than a year she has gone from 3 out of 6 to 5 out of 6 on the Congestive Heart Failure scale, according to the vet, and this is one time when higher scores are not better.

Annie, at 15, seems to be doing well, except for missing a few teeth and several marbles. Her personal credo is: “I lick, therefore I am.”

Taco, who is supposed to be 4, is starting to show the wear and tear of a much older dog. His age is based on the unreliable memory of someone who inherited him from a tenant who didn’t want him anymore. His muzzle is beginning to show white, and he recently underwent dental surgery and removal of a growth on his paw. That screams, “Old Man!” to me.

So we’re running a nursing home for geriatric dogs once again. Bryan was handling the medications, a single pill for Angie along with the morning treats. He came down with his semi-annual, near-fatal allergy attack about the time everything changed and is just starting to get the hang of the new routine.

Here’s the schedule:

6:30 a.m. Pick up food, because one of Angie’s meds needs to be taken an hour before eating.  Tear Pill Pocket in half, putting half in a small container for later. Press small, white pill and 1/2 of diuretic into 1/2 Pill Pocket. (The diuretic is roughly the size of a newborn baby’s fingernail clipping.) Break large, new heart pill in half, saving half for later in the small Later container. Give meds to Angie and morning treats to all.

6:45 a.m. Take large dollop of bland chicken and rice soft dog food from fridge and microwave for 10 seconds. Add 1 dropper of foul-tasting antibiotic liquid and 1 tsp. of sugar free maple syrup. Mix well. Hold while Taco manages to lick up every crumb. He is blissfully unaware that this will end when he takes all of the medicine.

Late afternoon – Repeat.

Taco lost his bottom four front teeth due to decay, which is another reason I don’t think he’s the spring chicken he’s supposed to be. The lady at the vet’s cheerily told me it was a good thing he didn’t lose his front teeth, too, because then his tongue would hang out. A blessing, indeed.

On top of everything else, Taco has a hard plastic cone (sometimes known as a Renaissance collar) encircling his head to keep him from licking the stitches on his paw. He looks like an ice cream cone from “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” What’s more, he absolutely hates it and spends his time lying on his side, doing an excellent redition of the death act from “Camille.” He has mastered the art of the guilt trip and lays it on thick. This will go on until he gets his stitches out, sometime next week. I’m counting the days.

All of these visits to the vet and meds cost about the same as a down payment on a Volkswagen. It’s not that I really mind. As Bryan reminded me, “They are our children now.” I just wish we could claim them as dependents on our 1040.

I will never be without a dog. They are such good company, they love without agenda, and I apparently need something I can make neurotic without recriminations. Even if I have to live in a nursing home someday, I plan to bring my dogs along, in my mind–all of them–from Dixie and Penny, my childhood dogs, to Smokey, Tasha, and Tawny, our big dogs, to Angie and Annie, and Taco who lies about his age.

I hope I get a big room.

Life’s a Funny Old Dog, or Two or Three

Dogs have always been integral part of my life. The few times I was between dogs, I marked the days until had one again. If I’m not careful, I find myself preferring the company of dogs to people. They don’t lie, they don’t complain, and they’re always overjoyed to see me come home, even when I’m just returning from the bathroom.

My husband and I love big dogs, and we had three until a few years ago. Eventually, our home turned into an assisted living facility for geriatric dogs. We coaxed them into living another day, each day, until they creaked into their sixteenth and seventeenth years. The dogs weren’t in pain, just very, very old, and we didn’t want to say goodbye. But finally, when they could no longer stand up, we bowed to the inevitable and had them put down. The first time I saw my husband cry was when he came from work to the vet’s office to say goodbye to Smokey, our coffee table-sized old friend.

We didn’t know it at the time, but that marked the beginning of a new dog era for us. On that day, we accidentally switched to small dogs. The first was my mother-in-law’s dog, which came to us when Mom went into a nursing home. Angie, age 15, is an endearingly unattractive little brown dog. She has an overbite and an overbite and eyes that remind me of Yasser Arafat. She actually came to us in the last days of the dinosaur-dogs, and she seemed so little!

Before long, we rescued two more dogs from a bad situation with a relative. Annie, age 14, is an affectionate piece of fluff, mostly shih tzu, not terribly bright but totally adorable. The only male in the group is Taco, age 4, a black-and-white Chihuahua with a Napoleon complex. Angie, all seventeen pounds of her, was promoted to Big Dog, and she glories in her status. The other two are still duking it out for second place.

Admittedly, it’s like living with the Marx Brothers. These dogs provide the comic relief and chaos missing since our kids grew up and left. They are perfect children. I don’t have to worry about turning them into responsible citizens, no one cares about their politics or religion, and they’re always sorry when they mess up.

Angie, Annie, and Taco are impressed with my opposable-thumb adroitness and relative mental superiority.  If they notice my slower step or creaky joints, it just makes them love me more. They know the old girl unintentionally drops more food on the floor these days. My dogs don’t care that my ancestors didn’t arrive on the Mayflower, or that I can’t trace my lineage back much farther than theirs.

The point is, life’s a funny old dog–not pedigreed, not a show dog. Mine resembles Annie and Angie more than Lassie, Taco more than Rin-Tin-Tin.

And I like it just fine.