Giant Angel Lands at Girls Ranch



As I close the car door and snap on Micah’s purple Gabriel’s Angels vest, I notice the window blinds separate, revealing big brown eyes and hear, “Micah’s here!  Micah’s here!”   I smile.  Little Sammy bursts through the front door, diapered and bare-footed with his mom on his heels and runs to Micah with his arms outstretched.  Sammy is two years old and has spent over a year seeing Micah every two weeks like clockwork.  He can’t tell time, but his teen mommy says that he has been camping at the window all afternoon, waiting for Micah.  He reaches up and wraps his arms around my 200-pound therapy dog’s giant neck, gives him a huge hug, turns on a dime and runs to the house, announcing that Micah has arrived as only Sammy can.

We have some changes this week!  We visit a group home under protective custody with abused, abandoned and at-risk children.  Normally we have about a dozen teen girls, give or take, a smattering of toddlers and a few infants, not counting the ones waiting to be born.  It’s not all teen moms.  We have had girls from “juvie”, some abused or self-abuse cases and occasionally an abandoned child.  This week one of the children has been released, one has turned 18 and has gone to live with a family member and we see three new faces and a brand new six-pound baby.

I introduce Micah to the new girls as Sammy pats the bag I’m carrying, asking for a brush.  Two of the girls are perched atop the back of the sofa like baby birds, eyes wide, staring at the behemoth that has entered the room.  As I explain the history of the breed, focusing on how the mastiff has protected their families and kept them safe for thousands of years, the girls relax a little.  “Safe” is something they crave. But they are NOT getting down or touching him!  “Keep that big dog away from me!”

Micah is already seeking out the infants who are scattered around the room in their car seats or carriers.  He’s kissing baby toes, and the toddlers are following him with their brushes.  The girls watch in amazement as the toddlers lie on top of the “gentle giant” and run their Matchbox trucks along his brindle stripes. Micah doesn’t move a muscle, even when a one-inch dump truck runs over his head and down his nose.

I pull the treats out and announce that we’re going to play “hide the treat”.  I give each of the girls a treat and have them hide it in their hand…toddlers included.  Micah goes to each child (Sammy FIRST!) and they hold out both fists and let Micah discover which hand contains the treat.  The “baby birds” slide down to the seat of the sofa and hold trembling fists out to “the big giant head”.  I show them by example how to hold their palms flat when he spots the right one.  I stand next to them and give Micah a treat first and coax them to respond.  The hand opens, Micah gently takes the tiny treat, barely brushing their palm with his lips, and they are amazed!  “Miss!  He’s so GENTLE!”  The free hand comes up as I encourage them to touch his satin-soft ear.  “Miss!  He’s so soft!”  Their body language changes and they unwind and slip to the floor as I hand them a brush and they begin their relationship with the biggest Gabriel’s Angel.

They have just overcome two huge barriers that are ingrained in their behavior patterns.  They have overcome fear and they have begun to trust.  Many of these children have lived in fear most of their lives.

I show them how I lay next to Micah on the floor at home, as if he’s a giant teddy bear.   One by one they take their turn cuddling their newfound friend.  One of the girls says, “Miss, I think Micah’s thirsty.  He’s panting.  May I give him some water, Miss?”  I thank her for being empathetic and noticing Micah’s discomfort.  She pours his bottled water into his bowl and she smiles as he tries to take it directly from the bottle.  She gets one of the towels that I carry and gently wipes his face when he’s finished.   I thank her for being so compassionate and loving to Micah.

I remind the children that dogs’ memories are often connected to their sense of smell, and they hold those memories all their lives.  I tell them if Micah sees them somewhere 5 years from now, he will recognize them as family.

Time’s up and Micah gets a hug from each of the children as we leave (each teen making SURE he gets their scent in his nose good and proper).  The mother of the newborn holds tiny infant up to Micah’s face so he will smell and remember her baby.

Once again I load my sleepy fur-baby in the back of my car, slide in next to him and hug him myself.  Good job, Micah!

Copyright 2013 by Mary Watson


Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Angels Have Pawz, Muddy Pawz


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The Biggest Angel

Images of a Gentle Giant

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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Muddy Pawz


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Good Morning, Majesty…

MajestyThe Micah.  We also address him as “Highness”.  190 pounds of entitlement in a sparkling brindle wrapping.  Bred from some of the finest lines known to the world of English Mastiffs…and he KNOWS it.  His collar is hand-crafted of a 6th Century Roman pattern with the words, “Cave Canem” hand-tooled in leather and adorned with hand-cast silver seals with King Arthur’s pendragon sigil to honor his legendary registered name of Indigo’s Arturius’ Cafall, CGC.  “Cave Canem” was taken from a Pompeian mosaic of a mastiff circa 79 AD and is Latin for “Beware the Dog”.  This is a ruse,  His Highness is 100 percent wuss, and the epitome of a gentle giant.

Highness is suspicious of dew on the lawn and chooses the high, dry spot in the corner for his relief.  Lord only knows what might be lurking in those droplets of dew.  His greatest fear is being attacked by the dreaded chihuahua.

He awakens at 6 a.m., having shoved Mommy onto the floor at 3 from his king bed and having lost the battle for territorial bed rights to Daddy, who clung, white-knuckled, to the edge of the mattress and pushed back with his backside.  As we sit bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived on the patio, Highness stumbles from bed, shuffles down the hall, through the living and dining area to the doggie door…and barks.  You see, he learned early on that the doggie door is actually a wormhole that leads to an alternate universe…never to be broached.  I put down my iPad, glance at my husband who is soaking his mustache in his coffee cup, teetering in his chair, eyes closed. I open the door for his Highness who drags himself to his raised bed and drops onto it with a “whumph”.  I know…I should have carried him.  Poor, furry child.  He is already fast asleep.

Having been gently awoken by singing birds and a slight breeze, he checks his view of Camelback Mountain, finds his spot in “poo corner” and returns to the doggy door.  Now it IS actually possible to cross back into the house from the outside, as the wormhole only goes one way…but only if the interior is well-lit, his staff is inside calling his name and a chilled organic carrot awaits him on the other side.  It’s really much easier to just stare at the damned thing and bark again.  “Yes, Highness.  Coming, Highness!”

Daddy leaves for work and Mommy prepares his breakfast of canned rabbit with organ meat, organic coconut oil, probiotics, digestive enzymes, dermal enzymes, chicken and chickpea grain-free kibble and three chewy glucosamine mini-bones, followed by a fresh 2-quart bowl of water.  When the last bite of kibble has vanished, Highness stands, staring at the vacant bowl as if someone took his popsicle away.  “Micah, would you like to “Hoover”?”  He takes a step back as Mommy moves his raised food stand over 18″,to the right, allowing him to “Hoover” any bits that may have dropped from his jowls onto the woven rug beneath.  In the event that his Highness returns to the bowl, staring at its shiny stainless bottom, one must ask, “Micah, do you need littlebitmore?”  He steps back again with anticipation as Mommy retrieves two more tablespoons of kibble, dropping them into said bowl one by one (so the plinking sound may be duly observed).  He returns to the bowl for his “dessert” and then raises his head in gratitude with three 14″ strings of drool hanging from his chops.  “Please, Mummy…dry my chin…if you would be so kind.”  I retrieve a sterilized white cotton towel from “the drool bucket”, dampen it with warm water and wash the kibble from his face, ears, shoulders, chest, paws, forelegs, the top of his head, his collar…and mop the floor.

His highness will now have “first nap” as he digests on the woven area rug by the open french doors with a gentle breeze drying his face.

His Majesty’s day has begun.


Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Muddy Pawz


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Casa de Muddy Pawz at 4:00 a.m.

  • If ya can’t shoot em…hug em.

    Wake up call from Micah – 3:38 a.m. (Mommy, I gotta poop and I can’t open the door.  See?  No thumbs.)

  • Rick usually sleeps til around 6, so I had to stay quiet and busy, so I putzed around trying to find clothes in the dark.  Can’t water because the hose valve is near enough to the bedroom window that it wakes him up if I turn it on.
  • 4:00 a.m. – What the heck.  May as well walk the dogs.  Both dogs ramming me to get their leash on and go first, so I bounced around between the two until I got Nala’s Gentle Leader on her mug.  Held Micah back with one foot in his chest til Nala got through the door, jumped out after her and quickly closed the door.  Took 2 steps and she saw Merriwether, one of our two cats and bolted after the poor ole geezer.  He dove under Rick’s car, and I nearly did a face-plant on the car door before I got “the princess” under control.  Meanwhile, Micah started howling by the door.  Quick-stepped back to the door, cracked it, patted Micah on the head and promised he’d be next.  Nala hot-stepped it down to 38th, up to Montecito and back again.  Dead dark..not a soul awake save me and the dogs…a good thing, since I later discovered I had my t-shirt on inside out…and backwards.
  • Home again.  Nala’s leash off.  Micah’s leash on.  Nala dove into her bowl for a drink (up to her eyeballs) and it sounded like fat kid doing a belly flop into her water bowl.  Splash-splash-gulp-gulp-splooosh!  Water everywhere.  She hit the doggie door.  Micah and I sprinted out the front door…right into Baggins’ face…kitty #2.  Baggins hissed at Micah and he simply gives the cat a confused look and cocked his big head.  Off we went.  Micah wanted to pee on every blade of grass that any other dog has peed on in the last 50 years.  Constantly pulling him off pee spots, we forged ahead.  Micah, stay close…stay close…good BOY!  (MORE PEE!)  Down to 38th, up to Montecito, over to 40th and back again.  Pee, pee, peeee!  And when we got home, I dropped the leash and he went right outside…and peed…of course.  Must have been saving it for days.
  • 5:20 and I wanted to brush my teeth in the worst way, so I tiptoed in and got my toothbrush and ran 4 drops of water over the toothpaste.  I stood outside by the barbecue and brushed my teeth, remembering that there’s an ingredient in toothpaste that’s harmful to dogs, so I spat in the garbage can and in the 1956 barbecue.  Tiptoed back in, grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge, rinsed off my toothbrush in the kitchen sink.  Tripped over Micah in the dark in front of the bathroom door while attempting to put my toothbrush back and ran into the chair in front of my vanity…and heard Rick rustling.  I really didn’t want to flush, but dammit, I had to pee now after walking two piddling dogs!  Turned on the light and noticed the t-shirt tag at my throat.  (Aw geeze!) Turned it right-side out…and frontwards.
  • 5:45 and he’s officially making morning noises.  You know…those strange guy noises that men make when they wake up.  (Grumble, grumble, snort…)   I punched the button on the coffeemaker and went outside and turned on the hose.  There was enough light to see that my zucchini has sprouted.  Rick headed toward the patio door with his coffee and I quickly scooped two piles that magically appeared on the lawn since returning from the walk and it stunk like a barnyard.
  • I checked e-mail while Rick was in the shower, fed the cats and washed out the dogs dishes (there are 10 of them).  My husband always emerges from our room looking crisp and neat and tidy with a ray of sunshine glinting off his smile.  I usually have mascara under my eyes, eggbeater hair and dog spit dripping off one elbow.  He gave me a smooch (I don’t know why…I wouldn’t have kissed me!) as he tossed his badge on, grabbed his briefcase and hit the bricks.  The dogs immediately started body-slamming each other and acting foolish out back.  I grabbed the camera and caught some cute shots of mastiff war as the sun broke over Camelback Mountain.  I finished watering and inspecting my seedlings and, damn, it was warming up quick!  It wasn’t even 7:30 and I was already all sticky.
  • I DID get a bath.  Fed the dogs, picked up cat dishes, and at least 14 phone calls later with our vet, pet insurance, people insurance and various tech support people, I got back to my computer, answered some e-mails, checked Facebook and did my Lumosity lessons to keep my brain functioning at at least 30% capacity.
  • Printer wasn’t working, so spent 45 minutes on the phone with Tech Support to get it working again.  (Crawled under my desk twice for that…)  Fixed the printer, but the scanner died.  Picked up poop again.  Took off the damned bra. I did not pay $75 to have cardiovascular surgery via underwire.
  • Phone!  My prescription was ready!  Up to Tatum and Shea to pick it up and a quick stop at Whole Foods for laundry detergent and organic everything for the dogs.  Got home in time to wash dog dishes (yes…ten…really…) and feed dogs again.
  • Woopsie…PHONE!  Forms were ready at the vet.  Quick run to Dr. Bracken’s and home again.  It was now “Africa-HOT” and my hair is sticking to my forehead and neck!
  • Granddaughter Ashley called, just leaving from her latest ultrasound and it’s a BOY!  She’s just so excited; she’s about to pee her pants…but she’s pregnant…she has an excuse.  I don’t. Hit the door running, leap-frog two dogs…and peeee.
  • While on the phone, I noted that the dogs were milling around the back yard, and I had just ended my call when Micah decided to sample his “leavings”.  I bellowed.  One does not bellow at one’s beautiful dog…or even at one’s homely dog.  But I bellowed loud enough for our blessed puppy to patooey what was in his mouth approximately 6 feet into the lawn and belly-crawl into the house to his casa (kennel)…which is where one goes if one eats their leavings and gets busted in the act.  This was not the highlight of my day.
  • 15 minutes later, I let Mr. Pottymouth out of his casa on leash and marched him to the back yard hose where we cautiously, but thoroughly sprayed what leavings were left out of his mouth.  He refused to look at me for the rest of the day and actually turned his back on me.  The nerve.  The hand, shoe and deck sanitization process followed the oral lavage, and the dog smelled civilized again.  I, however, smelled like something between a gym bag and a dairy farm.
  • That lovely task behind me, it was time to start dinner, pick up dog poop, feed the cats, make the bed, for heaven’s sake, straighten the house and…there was Mr. Wonderful pulling in the driveway.
  • I looked like I’d been ridden hard and put away wet.  Never got my make-up on, hair in my eyes, standing in sweat, drool and dog food stained garb, I greeted my poor, hard-working husband with a frosty beverage and listened to his download of a hard day at the office.  He didn’t even have a wrinkle in his shirt.   I did not love him at that moment.
  • I simply smiled and  thanked God that he didn’t ask, “So…what did you do today?”  I would have simply cried into a slobber towel.

Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Muddy Pawz


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They’ve Taken Over!

Micah and Nala – Happy Hour

I have decided that our dogs have totally taken over our lives. With Micah’s new holistic vet, I’ve become a canine chef, doggy nurse and homeopathic administrator.

Between Team Canine, Pet Partners and Gabriel’s Angels, my days are consumed with training and desensitizing the dogs from hospital gear…in case you wondered why there’s a wheelchair and a walker in my living room.

My cabinets are full of probiotics, enzymes, homeopathic remedies and organic goodies…for the dogs.

My car is but an 8 cylinder drool bucket with hydraulic shocks (to prevent jarring of precious joints).

There are 60 slobber towels between my house, car and purse and I just tried to brush my hair with the grooming loop.

My friend who used to bring me bruschetta and pies brought me 8 Frisbees and a wheelchair yesterday. Really.

I may require therapy and a time out in the kennel.

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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Muddy Pawz




Mister Baggins

 In May of 2002, I was lifting weights in our side yard when I felt that someone was staring at me.  I sat up on the weight bench and looked around.  Nothing.  No one.  The third time I paused, I noticed two tiny heads with bright eyes peering out at me from between two fireplace logs at the top of our woodpile.  One was black with piercing green eyes and one was white with markings of a Siamese.  Having lost our 17 year-old Siamese, Ness the previous fall, I could hardly wait to tell my husband.

“Rick!  We have two tiny kittens outside!”

“We are NOT having another cat in this house!” <pause> “Where outside?”

“They were in the woodpile!  They must be from that feral black stray.  Come see!”

We scouted the back yard and found no kittens.  Mama kitty must have moved them.  Later, cleaning the windows in the spare room at the front of our house, I spotted the kittens swatting at a thin spray of water from our irrigation valve and pouncing on evil blades of grass.  I called Rick to the window to see them, and he watched much longer than he meant to.

“They are cute, aren’t they?” he said.  “Look at that little guy killing the grass!  Grrrrrr!  Haha!  Well, we’re NOT feeding them.  Got that?  Not!”   (Yup.  Got it, Sir.)

A few nights later I was getting ready for bed and Rick had disappeared.  I looked all over the house and in the back yard with our Doberman, Houston and our Bouvier des Flandres, Tanker.  No Ricky.  I finally checked the front porch, quietly opening the door, as I had a hunch that proved to be correct.  There sat Rick on the bench out front, feeding two tiny, fluffy little souls…albacore tuna…from a crystal dish.  He caught me peeking at him and simply said, “Shut up.  They were hungry and they’re still not coming in the house.”  I sat down next to him watching “Mr. Tough Guy” now hand-feeding the tiny guys bits of precious albacore from his fingers.  Rick then informed me that the black one was to be referred to as Mister Baggins and the white one was Frodo and our front garden was their Shire.  I know when to keep my mouth shut.

Tragically, we lost little Frodo a few months later when he ventured out of the shire and was hit by a dragon in the road.  I thank God I wasn’t home to see it and thank my neighbor for lovingly taking care of his tiny little body.

Baggins learned from the tragedy and now 10 years later, sticks pretty close to the shire.

Oh, yes…he’s still here despite the decree from our faithful leader.  You see, Baggins grew, the seasons changed and it started getting pretty chilly.  One evening as we relaxing in front of the tv with Houston and Tank sprawled and snoring across the floor, we heard the doggy door flap shut.  We looked at each other, looked at the dogs, shook our heads and went back to watching our program.  Out of the corner of our eyes, we caught a black shadow.  Baggins calmly strolled through the living room, hopped over the 117-pound Bouvier, skirted around one neurotic Doberman and proceeded down the hall to our bedroom.  He glanced over his shoulder once as if to say, “Minions, I have arrived.  I am taking over.  Carry on.”   Ya gotta love cats.  They live their lives with attitude.

 A year later, he was pushing the Bouvier aside to taste what the peasants were eating, camped out on Rick’s lap, tap-danced on his keyboard and generally owned us all. 

Dinner with Tank

One evening, a few years into his takeover, Houston, our Doberman was sleeping peacefully in an overstuffed chair that was angled in the corner of the living room opposite the sofa.  As Rick and I relaxed after a long day at the office, we watched Baggins walk into the room, assess the situation and in full kitty-stealth mode, slip under the overstuffed chair.  Now, Houston was edgy at best, likened to a neurotic cobra on Mountain Dew.  One does not poke the cobra whence it sleeps.  Evidently Baggins felt he had the genetics of a mongoose in his kitty-veins, because as we watched our beautiful cobra coiled peacefully asleep, over the back of the chair appeared “ninja-kitty” from the armpits up.  Ever-so-quietly he reached one black paw forward as far as he could…and thumped the Doberman hard on the top of her head, disappearing like a puff of smoke.  Houston leapt to her feet in the big chair, ready to strike, trembling with eyes darting left and right.  Rick and I sat frozen, too astonished to move!  Sensing no immediate danger, Houston once again settled into the soft cushion of the chair and had no more than closed her eyes when Baggins came over the rounded arm of the chair, thumped the Dobie’s skull hard and disappeared under the chair again!  Houston again jumped to her feet in full, fierce attack form…to nothing but air.  After his third attack on the fearsome guard dog, Baggins evidently bored of the sport and marched off to conquer yet another world.

 Houston and Tank went over the Rainbow Bridge and we are now on our third and fourth English Mastiff.  Baggins remains, has brought us three more strays and is neither intimidated nor amused by over 300 pounds of canines. 

 If you would like to meet Mister Baggins, he can be located at the kitchen door at 3:30 pm each day awaiting his dinner (warmed 11 seconds in the microwave), or at 8:00 pm tapping his Rolex and stepping under the noses of two Mastiffs, overseeing the preparation of his evening snack.  If you happen to work late, you can still see him retiring for the night with his attendant, Mr. Tough guy, who will be tucking him into his fluffy bed with two soft blankets…on the hood of his Range Rover. 

Cats actually do rule the world. 

© Copyright Mary Watson 2012

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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Muddy Pawz, Uncategorized


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How To Disable a Biped

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed is my husband, Rick’s close relationship with our mastiffs.  When “Daddy Comes Home”, there is generally severe tail-whacking of the cupboards and walls before he even gets in the door.  Boadicca wagged her tail so hard that she split it open, spraying the walls, door, appliances and artwork with Puppy-B-Positive and had to have a cast put on her tail for weeks.   “Daddy Come Home” is some serious happy-dog business.

As Rick enters the door, something closely resembling a buffalo stampede occurs as he attempts to drop his laptop, briefcase and keys in the midst of 360 pounds of furry love.  Then it’s time to head directly down the hall in a tail-wagging caravan behind Daddy to bail onto the bed with him and get some serious cuddles and have a sing-along.

One particular afternoon, events were unfolding as usual.  Rick dropped his gear, headed to the bedroom, laid back against the pillows and the impossible happened…Boadie (140 pound female) took Bentley’s (220 pound male) spot next to Daddy before he could get on the bed, and HE is Daddy’s FIRST BORN MASTIFF PUPPY-CHILD!   NO!  Bentley wrinkled every wrinkle in his forehead, whined and stomped his feet standing next to the bed, jealous and agrieved.  Attempting to get Daddy’s attention away from Mister Whiney-Pee-Pants, Boadie reached out to tap Daddy on the shoulder.  Rick turned his head at that moment and her newly trimmed claws hit the bridge of his nose instead and laid it right open.  I normally stand at the bedroom door to witness the spectacle, and Rick looked at me and said, “Am I bleeding??”  “Uhhhh…yes, Honey…she got your nose.”  Rick hopped up and went to his bathroom to staunch the blood flow with a wash cloth.  Bentley followed, worrying over Daddy.  Rick came back and said, “Okay, let’s try this again…” and lay back on the bed.  Well, Boadie STILL had Bentley’s spot!  Rick said, “C’mon, Bent!  There’s plenty of room!  Get up here!”  Rather than going around to the empty side of the bed, Bent’ immediately leapt in the air and came down on Rick’s chest.  “Oooof!!!  Get him off!!!  Mary, get him OFF!!! I can’t breathe!!!”  I gave Bent’ the “off” command and he promptly jumped down off the bed, resuming his tap dance as Ricky caught his breath.  “Okay, Bentley…come on.  Come see Daddy…”  Boadie at this point had enough of taking the back seat with Daddy’s affections and reached out a second time to thump him on the shoulder.  Again, Rick turned, wash cloth still pressed to his nose…and she caught him with a nice three-stripe chevron across his entire left cheek from jaw to eyebrow.  More blood…another wash cloth, and Bentley still throwing a tantrum next to the bed, stomping his huge paws and whining.   “For cryin’ out loud, Daddy!  We haven’t even done our singing yet, and SHE has MY SPOT!”  Rick let out a huge sigh as I contemplated whether or not sutures were required.  “OKAY, Bentley!  Get UP here!” Rick commanded.  (Bentley minds so well…)  Bentley leaped into the air a second time and came down with an elbow to Rick’s…well…huevos…with every one of his 220 pounds balanced on that point.  Rick screamed, curling into a fetal position, Bentley panting, drooling and smiling atop his midsection.  Again Rick begged (in a rather high voice), “Get him OFF!  I can’t BREATHE!!!”   “Bentley, off,” I said.  (Lordy, but he’s a good dog!)  Bentley hopped back to the carpet.

Rick said, “Okay…I think we had better take this outside,” and limped down the hall holding himself with one hand and staunching the blood flow on his face with the other.  (You know, facial cuts really bleed like crazy!)  He hobbled over to the pool fence where he could toss the ball very far away from himself.  He held the ball in the air as both dogs circled him awaiting the Hail-Mary-Daddy-Toss.  Who would get it first?  Bentley had the size, but Boadie had the speed.  Bentley hurled himself into the air to snag the ball out of Daddy’s hand as Boadie rushed him from behind, catching him at full speed in the back of his legs.  As I watched from the picture window in our living room, holding a frosty beverage for my poor, battered husband, I saw his legs fly up in the air, laying him out horizontally, suspended in time and space for a moment, three feet off the ground.  I held my breath as he came down HARD on his back…and he didn’t move.  (I’m sure you’ve seen this move on Monday Night Football… I think it’s called a quarterback sack.)   I rushed to the back yard, fearing a concussion.  There lay Ricky, pale, bleeding, eyes closed.  As I approached, he opened his eyes and in a croaking whisper, said, “I can’t breathe.  Gimme a minute…”  Thank God.  Just knocked the wind out of him.  As I pulled him to a sitting position, he turned one shoulder toward me and asked, “Is there anything on my shirt??”  It was the only time in the last 20 minutes that he got lucky.  He had landed about a millimeter from a mastiff-sized pile of poo.

I e-mailed Rick’s boss the next morning, as he awoke battered, scored, limping and moving very slowly.  He was late for work for possibly the first time in his career.  I explained to his boss, Tom in an e-mail what had happened, and asked that he be kind to Ricky this day.  He was incredibly kind.  He didn’t forward my e-mail outside our solar system.

I may get Rick a flak vest and helmet for Christmas.  What do you think?

© 2011 Mary Watson


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Banana Nut Bricks

The following is a copy of the e-mail I sent to my husband this morning after the smoke cleared…

Ya know…I’ve always made really great banana nut bread.  Remember?  You even photographed some, Hunnie, and put the pictures on the internet to show your friends.  You were so proud.

I don’t know what happened to the last two that made them go all “heavy masonry” on me this past weekend, and I felt bad about that.  Banana Nut Bread Failure.  I took some solace in your blaming it on the odd double yolk in the egg. It was so very kind of you to suggest that it might make great biscotti for our coffee.

So this morning after you left, looking all spiffy in your white starched shirt…off to deal with the monkeys in the pickle factory, I was so grateful to you and for you.  (There goes my husband…bringing home the bacon and the bones.)  I decided I would (by God) make you some awesome, photo-ready banana nut bread that you SO deserved.

I thought, “ What a great way to start the day with warm golden loaves baking and our two beautiful English Mastiffs at my side and Christmas carolers on the stereo.  Now what did I do differently the last time from my usual?”  Well, originally, Olivia (my mentor) taught me that I could throw all the ingredients into the Cuisinart and make much less work and mess and be finished in half the time.  Last weekend, I used an old fashioned mixing bowl and a blender.

Determined to do it RIGHT this time, I pulled out the Cuisinart, put all the dry ingredients in, using a different can of baking powder and a different kind of salt, measuring very carefully.  I mixed the dry ingredients, and remembered I didn’t have enough nuts.  I dashed to Fresh and Easy and got a bag of pecans.  Came home, tossed in the oil, milk and bananas and as I was putting in the last banana, the milk started leaking out the bottom of the Cuisinart, onto the counter and spilling down the cabinets onto the floor.  Not a problem.  Mastiffs are the BEST at kitchen clean-up!  We call it “Hoovering” here at Casa de Muddy Pawz.  Micah lapped it off the counter and my elbow while Nala took floor, shoe and cabinet duty.  Yeah…”Out of the kitchen!” failed again and I was frantically trying to clean up the milk with approximately 300 pounds of mastiffs shoving me this way and that.  I thought, “Quick!  Throw the lid on the Cuisinart and blend it in!”  It worked!  The leaking stopped, but now I had no idea how much milk was left in the batter.  So I just put “some more” milk in, slapped the lid on and very quickly mixed until it looked like banana bread batter should…I hoped…if I remembered correctly.

I mopped up the dog spit from the counter, floor, cabinets, shoes, and poured the batter into the greased pans.  I stuck my finger in the batter for the mandatory taste test.  Hmmmm.  Banana mud.  I had left out the sugar.  <slap>  I scraped and poured the batter back out of the pans into the leaky Cuisinart, threw in a cup of sugar and hit “blend”.  (Micah likes that sound.  A lot.  He wants to INSPECT that sound, and besides…the machine smells like bananas and milk.)  I threatened Micah with the antique whip hanging on the wall as I ran to the bathroom to wash banana batter from my hands, sweatpants and hoodie.  Back to the kitchen.  Puppy looking like I actually USED the whip on him.  Nothing worse than dog guilt.  I put the batter back in the pans, not giving a rats ass whether I needed to re-grease them.  NUTS!  I forgot the frikkin’ NUTS!  Batter back into the Cuisinart.  Whir-whirrr-sniff-sniff-sniff.  Back into the %$@* pans, slopping batter everywhere, screaming, “I don’t CARE anymore!” and threw them in the oven…dripping.  Nala reentered the kitchen and helped Micah Hoover up any new drippings.  I threw everything in the sink, perfunctorily inspected the Cuisinart, wiped it down and collapsed in a chair.

I just pulled the loaves out of the oven.  They are golden.  The tops split beautifully.  They weigh less than 14 pounds each.  I avoided electrocution, Urgent Care, dog murder and burning myself. Banana Nut Brick

Ya know what?  I’m okay with that.


Posted by on November 30, 2011 in and other things..., It's a Brand New Day


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Turkey, Theft and Puppy Tails

Oh, No!  The very worst happened.  Ricky’s monitor died when he was all geared up for a day off work and over a half-day of playing World of Warcraft.  He threw on his sweats, grabbed a cup of coffee and an energy drink and then, first thing on Thanksgiving morning, turned on his computer…black screen…kaput.  We checked store hours for Fry’s Electronics and Best Buy and discovered they were closed, as their people are more interested in turkey, stuffing and the inevitable pumpkin pie and green bean casserole than dragon-slaying and the decapitation of various orcs and trolls.

Quick-thinker that he is, Rick recalled that he actually works for the I.T. division of a major airline!  He sped down to the office, snagged a monitor off one of the technician’s desks, flashed his badge to security and said, “I’m stealing this monitor for 24 hour, Jim.”  Jim said, “Okay, Rick!”  (Attaboy, Jim…)  He vowed to stay up til midnight and go to the Black Friday sale with the horde at Fry’s Electronics to purchase a spiffy new monitor and return the stolen goods to the I.T. department before the victimized tech got to work.  He popped in the hot monitor and proceeded to happily slay and raid.

Luly came over and did a wonderful job cleaning our house with her daughter Stephanie, and side-stepped any further rubber dog poop pranks from Rick.  As soon as she finished, we fed our two cats and both English Mastiffs, the HoneyBagder-Nala and the My-Micah-Happy-Birthday-CGC puppy.  We dashed out the door, bearing mums and poinsettias to stuff our faces at our dear friends’, the Slanskys (the finest people on the planet).  What a beautiful dinner they served!  We were joined with all our favorite Slanskyettes, their progeny and five dogs (residents and guests), one of which peed on my new black sneaker within the first hour.  Since it was a Chihuahua and the most it could produce was an eighth of a millimeter (i.e. half a drop), pretty much no-harm-no-foul, although its owner seemed to feel that was the best thing that happened since man went over Niagara Falls in a barrel.  (Oh, ha ha…)  I poured a glass of red and carb-loaded rather than driving all the way home to retrieve our mastiff puppy who would surely pee on her (and her little dog, too)…and eat them both, understanding fully that “karma happens”.  Stories by the fire in the Slansky’s back yard following dinner, where I miraculously managed to avoid setting myself on fire and replaced the scent of dog pee with wood smoke.

We didn’t make it home until well after dark.  As we walked in the door, scouting for the inevitable
mastiff-puppy demo work, the first thing noted was the standard black rubber office trash bin had somehow made it through the doggie door and was relocated into the back yard in several pieces.

Trashcan Puppy

As Rick picked up the remains of the standard-issue black office trash bin, a police helicopter swooped and circled directly above our home with a spotlight.  (We’re talking just above power lines, here…)  My first thought was, “Monitor theft!” and the second was, “Trash can assault.”  An officer called out with a megaphone from above, “This is the Phoenix police!  We have a K-9 unit and officers surrounding you, and if you do NOT surrender, you will get bit!”  (I so wanted to correct his grammar…”BitTEN, Officer!  Bit-TEN!”)  Even though we had our two mastiffs assisting the DogFather in the back yard clean-up, I had visions of a German Shepherd sailing over our back gate and tackling my husband in error.  Thankfully, he came inside without too much coaxing.  We watched the helicopter hover over a home a street or two north of us and then finally lift and sail away.  Another successful arrest by the Mountain View Precinct and their K-9 unit!  (Clap-clap!)  I donned my flannels, ear plugs and went to bed, leaving Rick to the slaying his dragons and orcs on World of Warcraft (WoW).

I awoke at seven with the DogFather and Micah still snoring softly beside me.  Oh, no!  Did he make it to Fry’s?  Is the technician’s monitor still here in our house?  Ruh-roh, Rastro!  Making as much “accidental noise” as possible, feeding dogs, opening and closing doors, slapping a K-cup into the coffeemaker and feeding cats, Rick’s feet hit the ground before 7:30…still enough time to get the monitor back in place at the airline before the tech arrived.  Then off he sped to battle the Black Friday masses at Fry’s Electronics for a replacement.  (Good luck with that.)  I stood in the doorway with the HoneyBadger and My-Micah-Happy-Birthday-CGC-Black-Friday-Puppy and waved.

As I later learned, he didn’t have the VERY best of luck with the return of the “borrowed” monitor.  He got it back through security, tip-toed into the technicians’ offices <picture Daffy Duck on tip-toe here…> and…woopsie… the techies were already there.  CURSES!  Mark, the victim techie had his back turned as Rick stealthily crept behind him to his desk. (Sloooowly he crept…step-by-step, inch-by-inch…)  Suddenly Mark spoke in a low, controlled but firm tone…”Don’t.  Even.  Think.  About.  It.”  Rick’s chin went to his chest and shoulders slumped…guilty…busted.  Mark turned to him and said, “One question.  Was this WoW-related?”  Rick responded, head low, “Field test!  It was…uh-uh-uh a FIELD test…uh…well…yeah.”  With a voice I could only relate to as coming from the Lord on High, Mark said, “Thought so.  Just.  Put.  It.  Back. And. Clean. That.  Mess.”  Rick put.  Rick cleaned.  Rick apologized.  Rick left.  He just returned with a sparkling new 23” Viewsonic monitor and is under his desk where the dust bunnies live.  All is right with the world.

I need a new trash bin and my monitor just went out.

Happy Holidays!


Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Muddy Pawz


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Spa Day

Bentley and Nala on Spa Day

Little Darlings

Four months ago, we adopted Nala, a 2 year old English Mastiff female from Arizona Humane Society’s Sunnyslope location as we had lost our female, Boadicca on Christmas Day.  Our 220 pound male, Bentley was grieving and stressed from the loss and fortunately Arizona Humane Society contacted Arizona Lab and Giant Breed Rescue (Jacque & Jeremiah), who in turn contacted our trainers at Team Canine, Brad and Tamara Jaffe.  Nala came with a bit of baggage, but quickly fit into our home and never leaves Bentley’s side.  Nala had huge fear/aggression issues, wasn’t well-socialized, suffered extreme separation anxiety and was definitely afraid of men.  She snarled and barked at anyone who came near her initially, and at 140 pounds, we had concerns as to whether she would ever calm down.  Thanks to great advice from our trainers at Team Canine and our vet, Dr. William Bracken, we’ve worked through nearly all of Nala’s issues, and as an example, I would like to share our experience yesterday in taking both of our English Mastiffs to the groomer.

Bentley and Nala’s Spa Day

Our dogs were filthy.  We talked about doing it ourselves, taking them to Wag and Wash, and yesterday I just gave up and called our groomer at Paws Salon to see if she could take the beasts.  She had me bring them early, as 360 pounds of Mastiffs tend to create a commotion, if not terror, with her other clients.

Got both dogs in the car via tailgate and a little boosting and pushing.  Bent’ immediately climbed from the rear into the back seat and laid down.  Nala sat in the center of the rear, politely watching the cars behind us from the rear window.  So far, so good.  Had to bring Nala’s rabies vaccination papers in for her to start

We took both dogs into the grooming area where another cat was perched atop some stacked smaller wooden cages meant for cats.  Nala spied the kitty way up on top immediately and zoned in on him like our son’s bird dog, Daisy Mae on a partridge.  Tracy told Nala not to jump up there or it would all fall over.  Nala said, “Grrrr…”.  Tracy sat on the floor and offered her hand and Nala said, “You smell a lot like Bentley…maybe you’re not a demon after all.”

In the meantime, Bentley spotted a 4’ tall bird cage on wheels near the front window…full of parakeets.  “BIRDS!!!!”  He started circling the bird cage and nudging it and the birds were going nuts inside.  Serious wing-flapping.  Tracy stood up.  Nala boofed and growled a little.  Tracy started looking for a muzzle to put on Nala that was big enough.  No joy.  (Good luck with that…)  She kept picking up this and that muzzle, looking at Nala and shaking her head.  In the meantime, Bentley figured out that he could push the bird cage like a stroller, and he had it about 10 feet from the window.  One of the groomers walked in with a Chihuahua under her arm, set the Chihuahua on the floor and Nala made a beeline for it.  Chihuahua yapping furiously and about to pop a vessel.  Groomer scoops up the Chihuahua, I look back over my shoulder just in time to see the birdcage, now in the middle of the room,  going over…birdseed and feathers flying through the cage.  I caught it in the nick of time, but now Bentley was on a <span>mission</span>.  He wanted PARAKEETS!  I grabbed both leashes in a bent knee position as if I were ready to take off on water skis, holding back 360 pounds of furry curiosity.  Tracy rolled the cage to safety past the gate and into the lobby, much to Bentley’s disappointment.  Nala was scouting around the corners for the Chihuahua when I left.  Bentley was mashing Tracy against the cat cages, drooling all over her and smacking her with his Louisville Slugger tail.  Tracy was laughing like crazy (fortunately), and I quietly slipped past the gate and bird cage and out the door.

I just sat in my car for a moment, saying a prayer for Tracy and just…breathing.  No calls yet, so I guess they probably duct-taped a coffee mug over Nala’s snoot for a muzzle.

All the dog blankets are in the washer and I just took 3 Tylenol and went outside and stared at a tree for a little while.  I have not had to climb over a mastiff, wipe drool from my clothing or reposition the furniture from the stampede for over an hour.  Bliss.

They’re home now, smelling sweet with teeth, nails, ears and coats positively spiffy…and they have bows.  Here they are after their day at the spa, and Nala on Day One.

© 2011 Mary Watson

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Posted by on October 9, 2011 in Muddy Pawz


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