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Favorite Pet Stories

As Sweet As Honey
The Joys of Being Owned By A Deaf Dog
Jake the Wonderdog!
Colonel Spritey's Journal

By Catherine L. Wolfe, Attorney

Honey (a Chihuahua/Terrier Mix) is the beautiful caramel color of honey, and every bit as sweet. For the past 6 or so years she has owned a wonderful man named Don. Together they form one of the most endearing unions that I, and many others, have ever witnessed. And, they have taught me one of the most important lessons of my life — that age really does not matter.

I met Don about 6 years ago when a mutual friend called me to see if I knew of any small dogs that needed a home. He said that Don’s beloved Dachshund had recently passed away, and that Don was devastated. He said Don would like another Dachshund but really just wanted a nice small dog.

Honey leaped immediately to my mind because I knew her family and had always told them that if they ever needed to find another home for her, I would adopt her because she had a special personality. As fate would have it, her family had contacted me just several days before to take me up on my offer.

At that time Honey stood little chance of being adopted, if I did not take her. At 7 years of age Honey was a “senior” dog for whom there are very few homes (most people desire a puppy or very young adult). She also had the disadvantage of being a mix breed (not a designer purebreed). In a nutshell, she was a societal cast-off due to her age and lack of pedigree.

However, I thought Honey might be a nice companion for Don but (and I am ashamed to admit this now) I was concerned that Don was in his 80’s. I wondered if it would be fair to Honey to adopt her to someone of such an advanced age.

My fears were dispelled the moment I saw Don, or, more accurately, the moment I saw Honey see Don. If ever there was love at first sight, that was it! She bonded to him immediately. I have never seen anything like it. It was as if everyone else in the room did not exist for her.

When Don stepped out briefly to grab something from his car, Honey sat right by the door, staring at it until he returned. After that, she stuck by his side until they left together to embark upon their new life together.

Don spends his days now chasing Honey around with a blanket, covering her up because she likes it. They are a perfect match, and their devotion to one another is timeless. Together they have taught me that one is never too old to love, or be loved.

By Catherine L. Wolfe, Attorney

Note: I wrote this article 3 years ago. Gracie died on August 3, 2006 and she is sorely missed. I hope that this article will help save the lives of deaf dogs. Gracie would like that.

A year ago I had the good fortune to adopt a deaf dog. Her name is Gracie and she is a brown-spotted Brittany. I adopted her from a rescue league in southern Michigan, sight-unseen, based solely on the oral description given by her foster mother. At no time did the foster mother ever mention that there might be a problem with Gracie's hearing. The first time it came up was at the time of the adoption in Clare, Michigan as the foster mother was hastily preparing to drive away and said "I'm not sure if Gracie hears very well or if she just ignores people," and with that she sped off.

On the 2 1/2 hour drive home, it was painfully clear that Gracie was indeed deaf. After living with Gracie for several days it was also clear that she was feral (wild). She had ended up at the rescue league when she was pickup as a stray and I think she probably spent most of her life ( her veterinarian estimated she was 6 to 8 years old) in the wild. I base that belief on the fact that she was not housebroken and that she fought my other dogs at the drop of a hat. As a friend put it, she was a junkyard dog - she would beat my other dogs up without provocation and she had the physique to enforce her contentiousness.

Needless to say Gracie was a challenge. During the first month she whooped the daylights out of my other dogs (4 males, 2 of which are big Labradors) and urinated all over my house - constantly and on the run. No matter what I did to discipline her, she was unabashed and would simply stick her nose and stubby tail in the air and prance haughtily away (the canine version of "the finger").

A veterinary check showed no organic problems so I consulted as expert with a PhD in animal behavior (yes, a "doggy psychiatrist"). He said that dogs are extremely dependent on the sense of hearing and that consequently; dogs that lack that sense are difficult to inhibit which means they are difficult to train, especially to housebreak. He told me that when I caught her urinating in the house I should stand over her and pat her firmly, all over her body for about a minute - he said she would hate that and stop urinating in the house immediately. I thought that was nuts but out of desperation decided to give it a try.

Now, the plus side to having as deaf dog is that she couldn't hear me coming so I was able to catch her in the act shortly after our consultation. I immediately did as I had been instructed - I stood over her and patted her firmly all over her body and head for about a minute. The expert was absolutely correct, it turned out to be quite an ordeal for her (she looked as if she was in an earthquake) and when it was over she shot out the dog-door into the backyard. The experience so traumatized her that she has rarely urinated in the house since.

Immediately following the initial patting incident Gracie began to view me as the boss (also know as the "Alpha Wolfe"). From then on she began learning signs of all kinds (i.e. hand signals, facial expressions, etc.) and has become a wonderful companion. Shortly after I adopted her I did extensive research on the issue of deaf dogs and learned that because they cannot hear they rely much more on their other senses, including sight, and that their eye contact is much more intense than a hearing dog. Sometimes Gracie's stare is so intense that it feels as if it will go right through you - it seems bionic.

As a consequence being deaf, deaf dogs tend to develop extremely strong bonds with their guardians. Such is the case with Gracie. She is sweet, loving and anxious to please - nothing like the "junkyard dog" I adopted a year ago.

As I have grown to know and love Gracie I have wondered why, in all the years that I have interacted with dogs, I have never encountered a deaf dog. Unfortunately I discovered it is because the standard of practice for many breeders and veterinarians is to kill them at birth. In fact, some people are adamant that all deaf dogs be killed, period. A friend of mine who manages a animal shelter confirmed that. He said that once he took a deaf dog from his shelter on television to get it a home and when he returned to the shelter he received 2 angry phone calls from people demanding that he have it killed immediately.

I cannot imagine my life without Gracie. As I have been writing this article she has come several times to me for pets and a kiss, and is now lying at my feet, under my desk, which doubles as her den. I have read about other people who feel the same about their deaf dogs. Interestingly, many of them are deaf themselves and identify strongly with their dogs. Their sentiment is touching - as people, they live wonderful, fulfilling lives so why shouldn't deaf dogs. I think they should and I know Gracie agrees.

Suggested reading about deaf dogs:

•  Living with a Deaf Dog , by Susan Becker
•  Amazing Gracie , by Dan Dye and Mark Beckoff

By Catherine L. Wolfe, Attorney

Note: This story was written in 2002.

The photo above shows Vivien after her rescue from the animal shelter where she was nearly starved to death. This is also after she was groomed, since they decided not to go to the trouble since she would probably be unadoptable and be euthanized.   Vivien several years after her rescue, enjoying her toys.

One Friday last December I was discussing the operations of the local animal shelter with the manager when she said that 2 dogs were scheduled to be killed the following Monday - 2 days before Christmas. One of the dogs was a little toy poodle weighing about 8 pounds. I was shocked that such a popular small breed dog would be killed and inquired as to the reason. She said it was because the little dog had been seriously injured - either from being hit by a car or being beaten. Its left rear leg had been so severely injured that it was almost totally non-functional and simply hung limp. Its lower jaw had sustained a blow of such force that it had been knocked far over to the right - so far over that the teeth in that area stuck clear out of her mouth. The manager also said that her coat was a mess. The little dog had been picked up as a stray, out in the woods during a sub-zero ice and snowstorm. The manager said that despite its poor physical condition it had a delightful personality - it was cuddly, playful, loving and a great little companion - so much so that she carried it around in her arm as she worked around the shelter. However, she said that given its age (which she guessed was about 10 years) and its current physical condition nobody would adopt it because it would cost too much to have its physical injuries treated and it was too old. The manager said that the little dog had been in the shelter for quite a long time and that it was time to kill it. She said she regretted having to do it, but that it was just an unfortunate fact of life.

For quite some time my secretary, had been trying to convince me that poodles were great dogs and that I should get one. I had not been persuaded. I preferred medium to large breed dogs thinking that, for the most part, small dogs were uninteresting. I therefore was not personally interested in the little dog but secretly thought that if she fostered it and we had it groomed and got it the veterinary care it needed, she might adopt it and frankly no animal could ever have a better home. So, with that hope in mind I hustled the manager and my secretary into my car and we set off to see the little dog.

Based on the description of the manager I was shocked when I saw the little dog. She was one of the happiest creatures I have ever seen. She was ecstatic to see us and raced around and played as if she were a puppy. Her left rear leg was indeed almost totally useless and dangled pathetically as she stood, ran and played. The leg had been dislocated, which is extremely painful, and had been left like that for a long time. And, she was most definitely unkempt - she looked like a tiny lamb with terribly over-grown fur but, in the midst of all her fur were the most beautiful, sparkling milk chocolate eyes and nose. At that moment I fell hopeless in love with her. However, I already had 5 dogs of my own and was in no position to adopt another. I was therefore happy to see that my secretary felt about the little dog as I did and she said she would foster the little dog until we could find her a good home. With that we packed the little girl up and returned to my office.

It was there that we discovered that under all her fur she was extremely thin. So thin that it was scary. We immediately gave her some food which she inhaled. She stayed in my office for the rest of the afternoon (and was wonderfully behaved) and went home with my secretary at the end of the day. An hour or so later I packed up my grooming shears and went to my secretary's house where we had agreed that we would groom her.

All I can say about that experience was that it was horrifying! Although we knew that the little dog was skinny, we had no idea that she was skeletal - like a concentration camp prisoner. Both of us cried and were nauseous as we clipped more and more of her hair away. It was painfully clear that she was on the brink of starvation.

After we finished clipping all her fur off (it was so matted that there was no alternative - the fur could not be separated and had to be removed in one piece!) we bathed her and fed her again.

When I left my secretary's house that night it was with a heavy heart since I thought there was a good possibility that the little dog might not survive. I feared that our help may have arrived too late for the little dog.

Fortunately my fears were unfounded and the next day my secretary and I decided that I should take the little dog since I had had prior experience rehabilitating another dog in even worse condition. I must say though that I had serious reservations about how my other dogs would respond to her. I was especially concerned about the newest member of my "pack" - a deaf, feral Brittany ("Gracie") who I was still in the process of socializing. During the 3 months I had had her she had whooped the tar out of my other 4 dogs - all males and 3 of them much larger than her. As my secretary says, Gracie is "buff" and she did not let the other dogs forget it. I therefore intended to be extremely cautious about introducing the little dog into the group. But, best laid plans being what they are, as soon as I stepped in the front door the little dog sprang out of my arms, raced over to Gracie, bit her on the nose and from then on peace and harmony have reigned (for the most part).

Over the next 4 or 5 months the little dog flourished. Her leg was surgically repaired (at great expense) by an extraordinarily skilled veterinarian (I consulted a number of veterinarians and they all said that the only thing to do was to cut off the top of the leg bone and he was the only one willing to actually repair the damage) and she had extensive dental work. She frequently went to work with me and was a big hit with my clients and friends. During that time her personality emerged and it was clear that, to put it politely, she is a coquette. She constantly attempts to seduce my male dogs (and any other male dogs she meets) so I named her Vivien after Vivien Leigh, based on her portrayal of Scarlett O'Hare in "Gone With The Wind." It fits her perfectly.

After I had had Vivien for about 4 months an elderly friend of mine (Mary Hellen) had extensive open-heart surgery and subsequently declined rapidly. By the time I heard about her condition she had been in the hospital for about a month and was failing so rapidly that she was not expected to live much longer. I called immediately and when she answered she was so weak she could barely talk - she had difficulty even choking out "yes" and "no." But, I could tell that she wanted to converse so I did most of the talking - I asked her questions that only required one word answers. "Have you had company?" "Are you getting enough to eat?" And, shortly I ran out of questions so I started to update her on the events in our community and in my life. After several minutes I told her that I had adopted a toy poodle and the impact was astonishing - she shouted "A TOY POODLE?! YOU GOT A TOY POODLE?! I USED TO HAVE A TOY POODLE - HER NAME WAS "JANIE." I LOVE TOY POODLES!" I was so taken aback that I was momentarily speechless. The mere mention of a toy poodle had transported her from her dire circumstances into a wonderful memory and momentarily restored her strength. When I recovered from my surprise I told her all about Vivien - her brushes with death (at the animal shelter and from starvation), her being found in the dead of winter, in below freezing temperatures, with serious and excrutiating injuries, her surgery, recovery and dominance over my other dogs. Mary Hellen was enchanted and asked to meet Vivien. As we said good-bye she relapsed into a feeble state and could barely speak.

Mary Hellen & Vivien –
they really do look alike!

The next day I took Vivien to see Mary Hellen in the hospital. As we entered her room I was shocked to see how emaciated she was. She was skeletal and so weak that she could barely hold her head up. As I approached her bed she had difficulty focusing on me and it took all her strength to whisper "hello." I greeted her with a kiss and then sat down on the edge of her bed to talk. It was heart wrenching. Again, she was so weak that I had to do almost all of the talking. Finally I told her that I had Vivien with me and before I could say anything further she suddenly sat straight up in her bed and shouted "VIVIEN?! THE TOY POODLE?! WHERE IS SHE??!!" I bent down and lifted Vivien onto her bed. Mary Hellen's eyes got as big as saucers and she said, with tears in her eyes "She is beautiful!" Whereupon Vivien promptly stood up on her hind legs, gently placed her front paws on Mary Hellen's chest and gave her a big kiss on the cheek. That clearly was the best medicine. Mary Hellen broke into a smile and began petting her. We continued to talk for about a half hour, during which Mary Hellen was pretty preoccupied with Vivien. However, as long as she was petting Vivien or could see Vivien, she had great strength. When it came time for Vivien and me to leave, Mary Hellen's strength subsided and she collapsed again into an exhausted state.

For the next 2 months Vivien and I visited Mary Hellen on a regular basis and it was clear that Mary Hellen identified strongly with Vivien, her physical injuries and her recovery. It was equally clear that Vivien reminded her of her beloved "Janie." Our visits, or more accurately Vivien's visits, were great therapy for Mary Hellen. At one point Mary Hellen had stopped eating and her family said that she had "given up." I knew Mary Hellen liked milk shakes so I took one for her, one for me and one for Vivien. She had a wonderful time feeding Vivien the milk shake and even ate half of her own. Thereafter, I would bring frozen custards and milk shakes - always with the same result - Mary Hellen temporarily regaining her strength to pet and feed Vivien.

During one of our visits a nurse came into the room as Mary Hellen was holding Vivien and the nurse blurted out with surprise "Why, they look alike!" And, low and behold, she was right - they were both very thin, petite, with curly gray hair and sparkling eyes - it was an adorable sight!

Unfortunately, at one point during her recovery Mary Hellen went into a steep decline and wound up in the critical care unit. I was certain that Vivien would not be allowed in that unit, and that only family members would be allowed to see her but I called the nurses' station to see if I would be admitted. As expected, they said "no" because I was not a family member. Then, there was a pause and the nurse asked "Are you Vivien's Mom?" I said "yes" and the nurse said "Get that dog up here immediately, Mary Hellen has been asking for her!" With that I threw Vivien in the car and we raced to the hospital. The nurse was as good as her word. As soon as we entered the critical care unit we were whisked into Mary Hellen's room where she lay incapacitated, and it appeared, very near death. As I spoke to her she could barely move her eyes and could not answer. But when I told her Vivien was there she smiled and when I held Vivien up so that she could see Vivien she smiled again.

Fortunately, Mary Hellen improved and returned to her original unit. As her health got better Vivien continued to visit her and on our last visit Vivien sat on her lap as I pushed the 2 of them in a wheelchair through the hospital and out side for some fresh air. Mary Hellen had a grand time greeting all the people that stopped to see and pet "her" little dog.

Since Mary Hellen was discharged from the hospital Vivien and I have continued to visit her and sometimes Vivien stays with her while I do errands. They are a wonderful duo and I, for one, firmly believe that Vivien was good medicine for Mary Hellen.

Vivien at a tea party

It's a good thing that Vivien is so adorable because she has sometimes been rather destructive. She broke my computer printer when she attacked it, thinking that it was alive. I had it sitting on the floor and as the printed paper came out, she thought it was going to attack her so she jumped on it with a ferocity I had never seen from her. Before I could stop her she had broken the printer and demolished all of the paper.

She has also started to disembowel the seat cushion of my relatively new sofa. She is a digger and when she digs she is like a rototiller on speed - her little front legs move so rapidly that they are just a whirl. She often "digs" on the furniture and until recently, I never gave it much thought. However, several weeks ago I came home and she had broken through the fabric on the sofa and pulled some of the stuffing out. I was shocked and duly chastised her. However, the next day the hole was bigger and she had removed even more stuffing. Despite my best efforts, the damage progressed until the hole was about 6 inches in diameter and about 4 inches deep. Then, one day, as I was sitting next to the hole, I noticed something in it. Upon closer inspection I found several pieces of her dog food that she had neatly covered with stuffing. The next day I checked the hole again and found a small rawhide bone hidden under the stuffing. In the following week she began squirreling away small articles of my clothing that she pinched from my laundry basket - first a couple socks and a then a pair of panties. It was as if she was trying to hide little pieces of me for herself. Finally, the other day as I sat next to the hole I felt a sudden and violent tugging on my shirt and was astonished to see that Vivien had taken hold of it and was furiously attempting to pull it and me into the hole. There was no doubt about it - she intended to insert me in the hole where she could hide me under the stuffing and not have to share me with the other dogs.

As I have been writing this chapter I have been distracted several times by Vivien barking at and leaping after some shadows that are dancing upon the wall behind me. She is frustrated that they won't play with her. As I watch her now and reflect back to this time last year, I thank my lucky stars that she came into my life.

I use the term "killed" instead of "euthanized" because it is the uglier term and more accurately reflects the ugly truth - it is a killing, albeit humane, but a killing none the less.

By Catherine L. Wolfe, Attorney

Jake the WonderdogAlthough I have never met Jake in person, he has had a profound effect on my life. I first learned about him and his plight when a friend-of-a-friend called to say that she (Patty) and her young daughters had picked up a stray dog that had been hit by a car. His leg had been so severely broken that the bone was sticking out of the skin. Yet, despite his obvious injury, he was happy to see them and allowed them to pick him up and drive him to the nearest veterinarian’s office.

Patty was distraught because despite his obvious need for veterinary treatment she could not afford it and the veterinarian refused to render any assistance without pay. Patty was further dismayed that, according to the veterinarian, the dog would not live without having his mutilated leg amputated. She had told the veterinarian that she would adopt the dog, even if his leg was amputated. Nevertheless, the veterinarian refused to do anything for the dog (other than administer very minor pain medication that put little or no dent in the dog’s extreme pain). The veterinarian’s excuse was that he could do nothing without the owner’s permission.

I immediately called the veterinarian and quoted the state statute that allowed a veterinarian to render veterinary treatment, without the owner’s consent, when the animal’s life was in danger, as it clearly was in this case. Still, the veterinarian would not budge.

Hoping to give the veterinarian a financial, as well as legal incentive, I called a number of local animal rescue organizations and raised the amount of money he said would be necessary to perform the amputation. Unfortunately for Jake, the veterinarian still refused to operate without the owner’s consent.

And, the veterinarian would not release the dog to Patty so she could take him to another veterinarian for the amputation he needed to save his life. The veterinarian said that he had consulted the local animal control shelter and been instructed to retain the dog until the statutory period (4 business days) had elapsed. Since this all transpired about midweek Jake would not be available for adoption by Patty and her daughters until the following Monday. By that time, according to the veterinarian’s own calculation, Jake would be dead from his injuries, and there was NOTHING we could do about it.

Heartless does not even begin to describe the treatment Patty and her daughters received from the veterinarian. Nevertheless, Patty and her daughters visited Jake (that was the name they gave him) every day, except Sunday when the clinic was closed.

It was an anxious time and I hate to confess that I had given up the ship, as it were. There seemed no way possible for the little fellow to survive and it was immensely disturbing.

However, to my absolute disbelief, Patty called me Monday morning, first thing, ecstatic!! She said that Jake’s leg had healed and that she and her daughters had finally been allowed to adopt him. HE WAS HOME!

I couldn’t believe it and neither could she. She said the veterinarian was completely dumbfounded. He said he had never seen anything like it and he had no explanation.

That was about 4 years ago and last Christmas I got a card from Patty, her daughters, and Jake. The above photograph was enclosed and I had to stop and consider it.

Jake is a miracle. He survived being abandoned, and then being hit by a car. He survived an injury that by all rights should have killed him, especially since veterinary care was ruthlessly denied him. He survived 5 days, in agonizing pain, and without the amputation the veterinarian said was necessary to save his life. Such inhumane treatment, especially at the hands of a veterinarian, is hard to fathom. Nevertheless, Jake not only survived, but he thrived. Clearly the only thing on his side was the love of Patty and her daughters. It sustained him and somehow even carried him to full health.

After staring at Jake’s picture I picked up the phone and called Patty. I told her about my foregoing recollections and said I was sure that with time they must have become exaggerated. She assured me that they had not – that everything was just as I recalled, and, to my utter astonishment, she said that Jake does not even limp!!

How could that be??!! Reality dictates otherwise, but something divine intervened on Jake's behalf. I cannot say how Jake survived but I believe it was the love of Patty and her daughters, and I believe that Jake reciprocated their love. I believe he lived and thrives today because of, and for, them.

Until that time I did not know Patty all that well. Since then she and her daughters have played an extraordinary role in my personal life. I owe Jake a debt of gratitude for bringing them into my life and the lives of several others. Their effect on our lives has been tremendous and it would never have happened without JAKE, THE WONDER DOG!

By Colonel Spritey (a tightly-wrapped 2-year-old Teacup Poodle)

Colonel Spritey

The Toodles — Maddy and Morris
(in a yoga position)

Why Mom decided to adopt 2 toy poodle puppies is beyond me. Mom thinks they are absolutely adorable and has named them “Maddy” (the little girl) and “Morris” (the little boy). Mom affectionately refers to them as the “Toodles” (a contraction for “two toy poodles”) but I call them the “Poopies,” “Poop Stains,” and “Flea Catchers”). They have the attention span of gnats and race around the house like a pair of squirrels. In less than a week they have completely disrupted our lives to the point of near madness.

An interesting aspect of their residency has been the insight it has given us into the world of weightlessness - like astronauts. Suddenly all sorts of things have mysteriously begun to float/move around the house. Several nights ago everything that was not nailed down suspiciously disappeared from its usual location and reappeared in a pile in the enormous dog bed that the Toodles confiscated from my brother Labradors. In the dog bed with the Toodles were 8 throw rugs, a wide variety of footwear (sandals, gym shoes, high heels, etc.), and sundry wearing apparel (T-shirts, socks, pants, pajamas, etc.).

Last night, as I was dosing on the sofa I was suddenly awakened by the startling sight of a large 12-pack of toilet paper propelling itself across the living room floor. Upon closer inspection I saw the Toodles pulling in unison at the opposite end of the 12-pack. For such young pups (9 weeks) it was a most impressive feat of cooperation, strength, and intelligence, although Mom wasn’t so impressed since she was entertaining guests at the time.

My brother Labs are extremely tolerant of the Toodles, to the point I believe they are over-indulgent. They have endured incredible indignities, most of which have been heaped upon Monty. Monty is approximately 80 pounds and could easily crush 1 or both of the Toodles in a heartbeat if he chose to. Fortunately for them, he has not chosen to. Instead he has, with the aplomb of Cary Grant, allowed himself to be used at various times as a pacifier (1 of the Toodles fell asleep with the end of Monty’s tail in his mouth), a springboard (Monty was sleeping soundly next to the sofa when 1 of the Toodles jumped on him, and then launched onto the sofa), and a chew toy (no explanation necessary).

Another member of our pack is a Chihuahua named “Caesar.” He is interesting because he considers himself part cat and actually possesses many feline traits. Among them is a compulsive need to groom. The object of his grooming is always “Wesley,” the other Lab. It is really funny to watch the process because Caesar is so methodical. He always starts with one of Wesley’s ears. He inserts his small head under Wesley’s large ear, flips it over, and commences intense licking. He licks the perimeter and then works his way down Wesley’s ear canal until his entire head is inside Wesley’s ear. Caesar is a wonderful Q-Tip! And, he has actually had a medicinal effect on Wesley – before Caesar joined our pack, Wesley suffered unrelenting, painful ear infections. However, for the past 14 years, since Caesar joined us, Wesley has not had so much as 1 ear infection.

As for Caesar’s technique, once he has finished with Wesley’s ear, he moves to the closest eye, thoroughly licks it clean, moves to the other eye, and then ends with the other ear. He is very fastidious and runs a tight ship when it comes to Wesley’s grooming.

The other night the Toodles observed Caesar grooming Wesley for the first time. They watched the entire process intensely, and as soon as it was complete, they tentatively approached Wesley. They gingerly stuck their tiny heads under his ear and routed around inside Wesley’s ear looking for whatever delicacies (i.e. treats) Caesar had gotten. They had seen Caesar licking the ear, and his lips afterwards, and figured that Wesley’s ear must contain some thing delicious. For the past several days they have periodically checked Wesley’s ears in the hope of finding something to eat but have been disappointed every time. Last night they even checked Mom’s ears as she was trying to exercise on the floor.

The other night the Toodles were playing around under the sofa when all of a sudden there came the sound of ripping fabric. Since Mom was in the shower there was nothing to be done but listen. The ripping continued for at least 5 minutes, until Mom entered the living room in her pajamas, ready to relax. Suddenly she stopped dead in her tracks as she heard the fabric tearing. Then, before she could do anything we could hear the Toodles running around INSIDE the sofa. They were racing from end to end, and slamming in to the sides, having a grand old time. Mom immediately laid down on the floor on her back, and slid head first under the sofa just like a car mechanic.

There she found the hole that the Toodles had torn to access the bowels of the sofa. Mom valiantly tried to extract the Toodles from the sofa through that hole for more than 45 minutes. They thought it was a wonderful game but Mom kept muttering about how it was like trying to deliver a baby. Ultimately she succeeded in nabbing one by the head and pulled it through the opening and I must admit, it really did look like a birth. As soon as Mom had the first one out the second one popped its head out to see where his buddy went and Mom promptly nabbed his head and plucked him from the sofa – game over!

This morning was another episode in the saga of “what will the Toodles do next?” Mom got a late start leaving for work and rushed to get to her office because she had a lot to do. She had worked at home on her laptop computer for the past 2 days to keep the Toodles company but today she had to be in the office. When she finally got there she set up her laptop and tried to boot it up. However, all she got was an alert stating that her battery was dangerously low and that she needed to plug into a power source. That puzzled Mom since she had had her laptop plugged in the past 2 days so the battery should have been fully charged. Mom’s co-worker joined her in trying to solve the problem and discovered that the Toodles had chewed the power chord almost completely in half. That brought Mom’s entire business to a screeching halt because all of Mom’s work was on the laptop. Fortunately her co-worker saved the day by racing to a town 10 miles away to get a jury-rigged power cord for Mom.

Mom’s a tough old broad and she’s really held up pretty well under the Toodle-pressure. In fact, I think she deserves high marks for endurance although her form has sometimes been lacking. For instance, she ended up calling in sick to work the other day and went back to bed after stepping in Toodle-Doo-Doo 3 times before even getting out the door. First, she was on her way to the kitchen from her bedroom when her slipper slid through some Doo-Doo, prompting her to hop on the other slipper into the bathroom to wash off the soiled slipper.

To relax and get a new start, Mom decided to put on her prettiest business suit and then have a cup of coffee. After donning her suit and putting on her beautiful new pumps, she stepped in it again, literally. She once more hopped to the bathroom to clean off her footwear. While her shoe dried off, she decided it was time for a well-deserved cup of coffee (with extra sugar) and as she bare-footed it into the kitchen, she got it between her toes, sending her hopping once more to the bathroom, this time to shower off her foot. With that, she called her secretary and said she was taking the day off and went back to bed – good thing she is her own boss.

TERMITES – THE TOODLES HAVE BECOME FURRY TERMITES!! All day it has been difficult to sleep because they have been gnawing on all the furniture they can get their teeth on. First they left a trail of sawdust under the dining room table as they worked over the entire dining room set (4 chairs and the table). Then they moved on to the chest that doubles as a coffee table – they have now chewed off all 4 corners – top and bottom. Their handy work on the chest was more akin to a wood-chipper than a saw, but putting their technique aside, it made for a noisy day and a nasty surprise when Mom discovered their “redesign” of her furniture.

Housebreaking is not going so well either. Mom had hoped that the older dogs would teach the younger ones to do their business outside. Unfortunately, not only has that NOT happened, the older dogs have decided that if the Toodles don’t have to go outside to do their business, then neither do they! In an attempt to correct this problem, Mom decided to use the “puppy pads” that have been developed for housebreaking puppies. She made a special trip to the store and purchased 3 packages. She no sooner placed a pad on the floor than the Toodles attacked it, playing tug of war, and shredded it to little pieces inside of 1 minute. When they finished, it looked like the pad had exploded.

Recently Mom has been letting the Toodles sleep in bed with us. She had let them do it originally, but that ended in disaster when they whizzed in bed and Mom had to clean all the bedding in the middle of the night – she was not a “happy camper.” However, Mom feels certain that they have gotten past that stage so for the past few nights they have been sleeping with us.

For the most part things have gone fairly smoothly, although they did get a little dicey this morning when Mom woke up. Now, the puppies get on the bed the same way the rest of us do – up the handicap ramp Mom has set up for the geriatric members of our pack. The first time the Toodles used it they used it as a slide and thought it was a wonderful toy. Now they use it solely for getting into and out of bed, or, as they did last night, to bring things into bed after Mom is asleep.

In the middle of the night last night the Toodles scampered down the ramp and returned shortly with some rather large rawhide bones they had squirreled away during the day. Mom slept through their caper and the ensuing gnawing and chewing. One of the Toodles did its chewing on the pillow right next to Mom’s head and after a while lost interest in the bone and moved to another spot on the bed, leaving the gooey raw hide bone on Mom’s pillow. Well, none of us really gave it any thought (other than we were surprised Mom could sleep through all the commotion) until Mom woke up this morning.

During the night the gooey rawhide bone had re-solidified with a large wad of Mom’s hair in it. In other words, the rawhide bone was firmly stuck in Mom’s hair. Good thing it was a weekend day because so much of Mom’s hair was incorporated into the rawhide that it took her quite a while to re-soften it in the shower, so as to extricate her locks.

This morning Mom invented a new game. I call it “Toodle Hockey.” It’s a great spectator sport. As a warm up you chase a Toodle around the house in high heels and a business suit, until you are completely winded. Then you move all of the furniture that the Toodle runs under in futile attempts to catch it. After you have moved so much furniture that your back is killing you, you grab a broom, lay down on your stomach facing the piece of furniture under which the Toodle is hiding, then you line the bristles of the broom up with the Toodle and you make an enormous swipe with the broom to send the Toodle sliding across the bare floor. The Toodle will be so astonished that when it comes to rest in the next room, you can simply stroll over to it, pick it up and place it in its crate while you go put on a clean business suit. This is an especially fun sport in our household because the Toodles are actually black and they curl up under the furniture so that when Mom sends them sliding across the floor they look like large, fluffy hockey pucks.

The Toodles have now torn a hole in the bottom of the love seat that faces the sofa in our living room so that they get in there to play as well as in the sofa. In fact, they have taken to using the sofa and the love seat as their “hide outs,” just like a couple of outlaws – like canine Bonnie and Clyde. They have stashes of all sorts of things in the sofa and now the loveseat. The other day, when Mom came into the living room she saw part of 1 leg of her jeans sticking out from under the sofa. Without thinking much about it, she picked it up to put back in the laundry pile but her effort met with startling resistance. She then laid down on her stomach to inspect the situation. She could see that the leg of the jeans disappeared into the hole so she put a bit of umph behind her pull and out came her entire jeans with a Toodle attached to the bottom of the other leg.

Well, I must give credit where credit is due. The other evening Mom came home from work very sad. She was worried about the fate of a large number of animals and was on the brink of crying. As usual, she put us all outside to relieve ourselves but one of the Toodles was concerned about Mom and kept looking at her through the glass door. Mom usually prepares our dinner while we are outside but this night she just sat rather dazed at the end of the sofa. She looked as if someone had whacked her in the head with a 2 x 4.

When Mom let us back in the house, the concerned Toodle raced to jump onto the sofa next to where Mom had been sitting. When Mom sat down again, the Toodle deliberately placed something in Mom’s lap and then sat down facing Mom with an enormous, wide-mouth, smile. Mom absent mindedly picked up the “present” and immediately burst out laughing – it was a frozen poop, a “poopsicle” if you will! Mom looked at the Toodle and realized that given the copious amounts of snow that we had received the last couple days, the Toodle must have labored strenuously to excavate down to a level that he could obtain the “poopsicle.” Mom was very touched! She hugged the little Toodle and told him that that was the only thing in the world that could have cheered her up at that moment. He, in turn, looked at Mom as if the say, “Well, it always works for me!”

The Toodles have now firmly established an evening ritual – when Mom takes her shower they play. And by “play” I really mean seek-and-destroy. The other night, while Mom was in the shower they raided the bathroom and took as many rolls of toilet paper out as they could (about 4 altogether) and TP’ed the kitchen, tossing the rolls around, the toilet paper unrolling with each toss like streamers on New Years. They also shredded a couple of the rolls. It took them relatively little time to accomplish their mission.

As I said previously, I believe that Monty is far too indulgent with the Toodles and this episode was no exception. While Mom showers, Monty always lays in the doorway to guard her. When Mom emerged from her shower she found not only the demolished toilet paper in the kitchen, but she also found that the Toodles had wrapped some of the toilet paper around Monty as well as covering him with shredded toilet paper. Monty was so thoroughly covered that all you could see of him were his eyes. In fact, he bore a strong resemblance to a mummy!

It’s odd sometimes what you grow accustomed to. We are now so used to the Toodles racing from inside the sofa, across the floor to the inside of the loveseat, and back, that we don’t give it a second thought. Consequently, Mom was surprised the other night when a friend stopped by and was startled when he witnessed this occurrence. He exclaimed “does this happen often?” Mom explained that it does, and that the Toodles actually use the furniture more as their dens than as furniture. He then jokingly offered Mom the use of his live-trap if she ever wants to catch them.