Images of a Gentle Giant
Tag Archives: puppy
The 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.
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.
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.
I have to admit that over the past few months, I’ve been kind of a whiney-pee-pants. (That is MY noun, and I’m keeping it.) This has been a tough summer at Casa de Muddy Pawz, beginning with the loss of our baby/guardian/best friend, Bentley, a 4 1/2 year old English Mastiff. Both cars broke down, one after the other, the vacuum literally flew into pieces at my feet as I was cleaning and the hose bib in the back yard started squirting me in the eye every time I turned it on, and I even backed over the cat food dishes with my Range Rover and learned the true meaning of “smithereens”. We had the biggest dust storm in a century right after we had drained and refilled our pool, resulting in the largest water bill in history. I went through a biopsy and surgery for skin cancer, paying for the sins of my youth as a sun-worshipper. I talked to the real estate commissioner who informed me that commercial real estate wouldn’t be regaining a pulse until at LEAST 2014 to 2016, i.e. “Your career is toast!” My unemployment had run out and I couldn’t BUY a job.
Damn…things were looking pretty grim.
Now, some good things happened, too, this summer. I got a grant and went through Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and graduated from their New Media Academy to gain some street cred and increase my smarts. After months of research, my husband found THE healthiest puppy on the planet in Indiana and flew him home. Our female Mastiff, Nala (also known as the Princess or the Honey Badger, depending on her mood…) made a turnaround from her fear of men and became Daddy’s Little Princess, complete with kisses and snuggles. I even reconnected with a couple of long lost friends and made some new ones. I even learned the definition of “haboob”! You know…the good stuff!
Yet it seems like the economy has tanked in the good old USA and now Europe is following suit, right down to rioting in the streets. (More to come…film at eleven…) People are robbing banks and homes to feed their families. There enough are droughts, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis and floods to make you wonder if the whacked-out 2012 End-of-Days people might not just have something. And of course, we’re all watching our president vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard and charging $35,000 a plate (Let me repeat that…$35 grand per PLATE!) for his campaign fundraising dinner, while telling us about his plan for turning our economy around. (Did you kinda choke on that one, too?) Well he’s going to make those big bad boys that have corporate jets pay more taxes, by golly! And he’s gonna find jobs for our nation and get America back to work…somehow…by golly! (Thanks, Pres’…) I’m choking on both dust and politics. It’s a political haboob…
We discovered that our new puppy came with an intestinal parasite, but we quickly got that licked, We fixed the cars, got a new vacuum cleaner with a four on the floor and cherry-pak mufflers, got the puppy through obedience school,sprayed down the dust from the house, drive, cars, patio and leafy things, back-washed the pool 46 times, got my stitches out, and I even landed my first paycheck in 2 1/2 years doing some independent contractor work. Hallelujah!
On 9/11 the puppy developed a rare joint infection, collapsed on the floor, and I found myself once again staring at forty-eleven bottles of pills and a treatment schedule. My dear husband had been beside himself through this after losing his best friend with fur, another friend at work and putting in 50-hour work weeks to keep the boat afloat. Walking the puppy into the same clinic where we said farewell to Bentley just four months prior was too much. It tore my heart out to see him walking in circles in that parking lot, wiping away the tears of grief and fear. We were both red-lining both emotionally and physically and trying hard (sometimes unsuccessfully) not to strike out at each other through it all.
Micah, the puppy is back on all fours again, but it seemed to be one hit too many. Generally I walk through crises and fires with full body armor and do my bleeding, whining, crying and blistering post-crisis when it’s safe to fold the WonderWoman outfit and drop it in a box. This weekend I dragged around in slow motion, spent a lot of time in bed with the Honey Badger and only got up do pill the puppy and look at that damned treatment schedule again. I hit the wall, feeling raw. I lost my flak vest and helmet and I even shed a few tears.
I woke up this morning, and sat on our patio watching the sun break over Camelback Mountain, and something in me just…tipped. I realized that I was looking across a beautiful, manicured lawn with trees heavy with fruit, past our warm, sparkling pool at one of the most beautiful mountains in the valley. I had just kissed my husband and sent him on his way to work for a wonderful company where he works alongside a man he respects more than any other. (…and ya know, my husband is very easy on the eyes, even in his 50’s!) Our two mastiffs were stretched out in that beautiful golden morning light, washing each other’s faces and the sun felt warm on my skin.
There are families who have lost everything…lots of them. I was struck by a news report of a man who was recently arrested for robbing a bank to feed his family and asked the officers to please take care of his dog who was still in his car.
I have a warm, cozy little home, we have been cautious enough to live within our means, even when we lost our juicy second income. We have food in the fridge, health insurance for us and our pets, a roof over our heads, incredible friends, two beautiful dogs and absolutely worthless silly cats. Best of all, we have each other. We’ve had each other about 15 years now, and are getting ready to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I took a fresh look around this morning and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my husband, our home, our animals and our life together. Life is suddenly looking pretty shiny compared to yesterday. I took a deep breath and…
Copyright 2011 – Mary Watson
My Thanksgiving – Music and Lyrics by Don Henley, Stan Lynch and Jai Winding
|Well a lot of things have happened
Since the last time we spoke
Some of them are funny
Some of them ain’t no joke
And I trust you will forgive me
If I lay it on the line.
I always thought
You were a friend of mine.Sometimes I think about you.
And wonder how you’re doin’ now
And what you’re goin’ throughCause the last time I saw you
We were playin’ with fire
We were loaded with passion
And a burnin’ desire
For every breath
Now the trouble with you and me, my friend
Because I’m tired of waiting
Cause I ‘ve got great expectations
For every breath
|And have you noticed that an angry man
Can only get so far
Until he reconciles the way he thinks
Things ought to be
With the way things are?Here in this fragmented world,
You know I still believe
In learning how to give love
And how to receive it.
And I would not be among those
Who abuse this privilege.
Sometimes you get the best light
From a burning bridge.And I don’t mind saying that I
Still love it all.
You know I wallowed
In the springtime,
Now I’m welcoming the fall.For every moment of joy
Every hour of fear
For every winding road
That brought me hereFor every breath
For every day of living
This is my Thanksgiving.
For every one
For every breath
The first of May, we suffered the sudden and devastating loss of our male English Mastiff, Bentley to cardiomyopathy. Therein began the Great Puppy Hunt of 2011 that would monopolize our hearts and minds for the next 120 days.
After extensive research, meetings with our vet, meetings with our trainers, talking to a dozen top breeders, researching forums,health certifications and pedigrees, forfeiting one deposit and two babies, we finally located Micah, a 7 month-old, 87 pound brindle male English Mastiff halfway across the country. The logistics of getting him from Indiana to Phoenix alone would be enough for an HBO mini-series.
There was an instant bond…a “knowing”, if you will between the DogFather and Micah. July 1st he donned his “Service Dog in Training” vest, hopped a flight with his new Daddy and flew to his new home…Casa de Muddy Pawz. There are no accidents in the universe, and the MonsterDogz gods were with us in getting the “baby” accommodated in the cabin of the aircraft on a full flight on a holiday weekend. Everyone worked with the DogFather from airport security at Indianapolis International, to US Airways, the management, flight crew and neighboring passengers (Micah’s “posse”.)
Touchdown Phoenix! 118 degrees and MamaDog waited in the cell lot until Micah finished his photo shoot with passengers and crew. Our amazing trainers with Team Canine met us at our home to introduce the baby to Nala, our 3 1/2 year-old female Mastiff (rescue). Now Nala has been known to show some attitude, having previously lived in an abusive environment, but our master trainers at Team Canine cut through her fear with patience and a true love of all things “dog”. Within an hour, we were able to take one tired puppy off leash, knowing he was fully integrated into Nala’s life and our home. His Majesty has arrived.
Five weeks and 43 toys later, Micah has met and captivated the hearts of all our friends, the staff at Arcadia Animal Clinic, especially Dr. Bracken, his classmates and teachers at Team Canine, and basically everyone who lays eyes on him. He is completing his obedience classes with Team Canine and is already enrolled in their AKC Canine Good Citizenship class. Our dream is that Micah becomes an official therapy dog, helping all those who need the warm breath and the healing, cinnamon eyes of a gentle giant. As his predecessor, Bentley did instinctively with Alzheimer’s patients and autistic children, we hope Micah will follow suit and masterfully capture, heal or soothe one heart at a time.
Okay, so we’ve lost a few articles of clothing and shoes, a couple of shrubs and a saddle blanket. We have a few more Band-Aids and twice the scooping to do in the back yard, but we are the luckiest family in the world…the DogFather, MamaDog, Nala and Micah.
We’ve had one good scare when our “healthiest puppy on the planet” developed a septic knee and spent a few days in the same hospital where we had let Bentley go less than 5 months before. He’s home, recovering and gathered a few more hearts in his pocket while he vacationed at Sonora Veterinary Specialists. We know he’ll be bouncing around again in a week, sliding down the hall like a furry torpedo into his daddy’s arms.
Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you how he got to be “Micah”! Micah is an ancient Hebrew form of “Michael”, and we named him after the Archangel Michael, since Mastiffs are all about protection. The movie, “Michael” is one of our all time favorites, and Micah has the personality portrayed by John Travolta. Joyful, curious, powerful, loving, protective and healing. Besides…sometimes he smells like cookies!
© Copyright 2011 Mary Watson
We knew that Bentley was going to be the size of a Prius at full growth, so at 4 months of age, we enrolled our English Mastiff puppy at Team Canine, Inc. (The Obi-Wan’s of dog training…) for the first of many training classes, “Puppy Socialization”. By the time he was a year old, he was entered into their Canine Good Citizen class, and weighed about 200 pounds.
I arrived at 6:00 on the nose, and about ten other dog-moms and dog-dads were already there with their fur-babies. They were seated at the south and west perimeters of the room, and when they saw Bentley come in, they grabbed their fur-children to their chests, eyes bulging, as if a 300 pound silverback gorilla had entered the room. Our trainers, Brad and Jade Jaffe had known Bentley from puppydom and were well aware of his gentle temperment. Gathering the obvious discomfort of our new classmates, I seated myself on the north wall with Bentley’s Louisville slugger tail wagging…all alone with our spit towel, wondering if we would be forced to leave due to size, spit or the all-powerful Mastiff gas.
Brad stepped to the center of the classroom like a maesto at orchestra and began his welcome speech. About two minutes into his speech, he picked up the fact that not one eye was directed toward him, but focused on “King Kong o’ the North”. He stopped in mid-sentence. He glanced around the room, looked at Bentley and said, “Oooookaaaay….I get it!! Mary, let me have Bent’.” I handed the leash to Brad, delighting Bentley to the point that a veritable river was pouring out of his jowls. (He gets pretty drooley when excited, and he LOVES his Uncle Obi.) Brad asked Bent’ to sit and, SMACK, one large Mastiff’s behind hit the floor for Obi-Wan in a nanosecond.
Brad proceeded with, “Class, this is Bentley. Bentley is an English Mastiff, the largest breed on the planet per body mass. Bentley weighs around 200 pounds now, and has been with us since he was the size of a labrador, and yes, he’s still growing. He appears in our training dvd, “Dogological”, and shakes paws in three languages. I’m sure some of you may have been a little intimidated by Bentley’s size and I can see that you’re concerned about the well-being of your own dogs. I guarantee you, Bentley will neither bite nor swallow you nor ANY of your dogs this evening. He’s already had two Shih Tzus for breakfast.” The class burst into laughter (even the owners of a Shih Tzu), the tension in the air was torn asunder, and by the end of class, Bentley had been hugged by every owner and was sniffed and kissed by every one of his classmates.
God bless Obi-Wan.
© Copyright 2011 Mary Watson
Gateway to Danger or A Day in a Life at Casa de Muddy Pawz
by Mary Carrara Watson on Friday, May 8, 2009 at 9:12am
My friends always ask me how I’m doing now that I’m at home 24/7, so here’s an example of “a day in the life”.
I was sitting at my computer and gazing at the front yard when I saw my neighbor fly by my office window alternately screaming obscenities and talking sugary sweet. Her Wheaton Terrier puppy, Tucker escaped and I needed to help catch him. Treats didn’t work. Toys didn’t work. I finally brought Boadicca, our female English Mastiff out on a leash. She dropped her head, wagged her tail and said, “Hey Sailor!”, and Tucker looked up at her and said, “Now you’re talkin’! Long legged Amazon bitches!” He went to sniff her nether regions and his mommy, Lindsay dove on him and pinned him to the ground. We escorted them home to hold Tucker’s focus. Success!
In the meantime, Bentley was left inside alone while chaos was happening out front and he howled like a banshee the whole time. He howled so HARD that he started breaking wind (Mastiff-style) and when I opened the door, I nearly passed out at the noxious green cloud that roiled out the door at me.
Just got the dogs settled down and the doorbell rang, which naturally sent the dogs straight into a tizzy again. It was Sandy with our dry cleaning. Now Sandy knows we own MonsterDogz and seems to have decided that because we have big dogs and a website that we must also be vets and authorities on all dog-related issues. He’s always cornering me about tick remedies, foods, etc. for his Rottweilers. We even had a tick remedy follow-up at Safeway in the bread aisle. Well, he handed me Rick’s shirts and sweaters and started explaining that he came so late because “Chef”, his big male Rottweiler broke his shoulder and had to have surgery. Third surgery for the Rottie…we CAN rebuild him…the six million dollar dog. In the meantime the hangers were digging into my palm and wouldn’t fit on the doorknob, but I was sympathizing with Sandy…while Bent’ and Boadie were “tizzying” in the back yard…for like 20 minutes. He finally left after discussing all 3 surgeries, plates, bolts, nuts and screws in his dear companion. I completely lost the blood supply to my left hand. They saved Chef’s shoulder, but I may lose a hand.
I just sat back down at the computer to send Rick a g’nite e-mail as he was in Pittsburg on a project, and I heard, “Peeep….peeeep!” (Aw rats!) The cats, Mssrs. Merriweather & Baggins, had a fledgling mockingbird pinned in my garden in front. I scooped him up (alive but scared) with the bird food scooper and deposited him in a willowy tree that the cats can’t climb in Lindsay’s yard next door. The cats looked at me like I had just pulled their dessert tray. You know the look. Only cats cat give you THAT look.
I came back in after the bird rescue, and now the dogs were so “het up” between Tucker, Sandy and the cats and bird that they were barking at everything that moved including a passing Boeing 737 about 20,000 feet above our house. Boadie’s back was up for about half an hour, and she was trotting all over LOOKIN’ for the next bearer of chaos to Casa de Muddy Pawz (“Gateway to Danger”). Bentley’s gas issue returned, and I followed him with citrus spray throughout the house.
I finally settled the dogs down with salmon treats (which gives them gas, by the by) and Animal Planet on the telly, sat back down at my computer, and BLAM!!!! HUGE explosion and the entire block went dark…as in “ink”. I felt and stumbled my way over dog pillows, toys, dishes, drool towels and blankets to the kitchen and found a flashlight. This happened 2 years ago, so I guessed what might have happened. I grabbed a flashlight and headed to the back gate where the power pole is in the alley. Sure enough…there at the base of the pole lay a much singed and very well-done roof rat who decided to have a taste of a transformer. The little varmint took out 4 blocks of power. Many of our neighbors are new behind us, and didn’t know about the Arcadia roof rats which are attracted by citrus and periodically target our area which was once a citrus orchard. The Arcadia Roof Rats don’t care what kind of car you drive or the value of your home, by the way. They care about citrus fruit and anything that leads to it, including wires. The sick and twisted part of me reveled in shining my mag-light on the corpse for the new neighbors and grossing them out. Then I came in, lit all the candles I could find and called the power company. It took them about an hour to show up in the alley with their cherry picker truck.
Ya know what? My Mastiffs do NOT like strangers in the alley…especially strangers with big scary equipment with flashing lights. Even with the heavy chain link they were scaring the power guy to DEATH (He would not leave his vehicle, fence or no fence!) and the dogs would not be dragged, coaxed or coerced away from snarling at the UFO through the fence and gate. I finally had to leash them and walk them in the house and trap them back in the bedroom with Animal Planet and treats. 30 minutes later we had power, a new transformer; the dogs went back outside and declared the world safe once again.
I put on my jammies, took a “Care Bear pill” and went to bed.
Such is the life at Casa de Muddy Pawz…Gateway to Danger…
© Copyright 2011 Mary Watson