It’s been too long

I can’t believe I’ve been away from this so long.  It wasn’t my intention, but it’s amazing how 1 week off turns into 1 month off and then 1 year.

So here I sit with a glass of red wine and my 2 Red Boys at my side – writing again.  The wine is a gift from Alex, a lovely, retired Hungarian man that has recently become a friend.

I met Alex and his wife, Eva, 3 years ago on the beach.  They were walking the beach, holding hands, and The Boys were retrieving balls in the water.  I leashed up The Boys to let the adorable couple pass in peace – not everyone appreciates wet Vizslas.  However, Alex says, “Let them run. They are Vizslas; they need to run.  They are Hungarian like us.”  We saw them every weekend that summer.

This past May, on the same beach, I ran into Alex again – alone.  The Boys ran up to him – they recognized him.  Alex pet The Boys.  I greeted Alex and he tells me, “My Eva is gone.”  He was, and still is, devastated by her death.

As we talked, The Boys became restless by the lack of attention and started barking.  Alex picked up their ball and threw it.  “They’re Hungarian Vizslas; they need to run.”  As he played with them, he smiled.

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Spring is in the air

And it smells like week-old, dead possum.

Being around vizslas that enjoy rolling in dead critters has taught me to identify dead bird, dead fish, and dead rodent by smell.  Unfortunately, the only benefit to this unwittingly acquired talent is that I now know how many lather-rinse-repeats are required to wash the particular stench off my red dogs.

Friends and family don’t understand how or why I tolerate “such behavior.”  But when I see Dhibou drop his shoulder to begin the roll, I can’t help but smile – even if I am shaking my head as I run to pull my boy away from his treasure. Feet up, back wiggling, tail wagging – is there anything happier than a dog rolling in something dead and smelly?  I need to find something so simple to bring me such happiness.

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Bath time

I know I’ve been gone from this blog for a while, but at first it was hard writing without my Muse lying quietly at my side. Then once out of the habit of writing, inertia made it hard to start again.  Dhibou and Rio are not Dogon, but there is never a dull moment when they are around, so they will be the source of much inspiration. If only they would to learn to lie quietly while I work and enjoy my wine (today’s treat: Wyatt 2011 Cabernet). I’m glad to be back.

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Epic Dogs

The dog, whom Fate had granted to behold
His lord, when twenty tedious years had roll’d,
Takes a last look, and having seen him, dies;
So closed for ever faithful Argus’ eyes!
                                                                The Odyssey

Some call them “forever dogs,” but I believe “Epic Dogs” is more appropriate.  You know them when you meet them or when their owners talk about them.  It doesn’t mean we love any of our other dogs less.  But Epic Dogs are exceptional in some way.

I hesitate to describe them as singular, but can we really be blessed with more than one in a lifetime? Is that being greedy? Does it diminish the special feeling we have for our original epic dog?  To steal a friend’s aphorism: if every dog were as wonderful as an epic dog, would the epic dog be as wonderful?

Dogon was my epic dog; people reacted to him differently. At 3 he was allowed into a nursing home for regular visits to my Grandmother and, of course, was invited to visit other patients.  We just walked in the front door and he gave the front desk clerk and the administrator “the Dogon look.” When I asked if he could visit “Grandma,” the administrator said, “sure.” He was not a certified therapy dog, we signed no paperwork, we had no proof of insurance, I wasn’t asked for vaccination records, and patients were not required to sign a waiver to visit with him.

We made twice-a-week visits until my Grandmother passed away.  In such a litigious society, how did this happen?  I attribute it to Dogon being an Epic Dog.

With the passing of my Old Man, I’ve heard from other blessed owners and through their words I hear the love and admiration for their Epic Dogs: “my one and only” Kiya, “the tears have never stopped” for Ike, “My” Rusti.

When we think back on them, we smile with sadness and joy and love.

Thank you, Dogon, Kiya, Ike, Rusti, and all Epic Dogs for the blessing of being part of our lives.

Please share stories about your Epic Dog.  I love hearing about them.

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Cheers, Old Friend.

The Old Man 6 months ago enjoying the beach

One more butt-wiggle.

One more mooch.

One more snuggle.

I wish I could have had just one more anything with you.

Goodbye, Old Man.  You were a better dog than I deserved.

Until we meet again, Old Friend… Cheers!

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“I really hope it’s not a brain tumor”

Horrible words to hear from your vet.

On Sunday, October 28, I came home from a Hurricane Sandy supply run (had gas in car, needed wine) to find Dogon on the floor in a stupor and drooling.  As I got closer, I noticed he wasn’t really “watching” me; the Old Man couldn’t see.

Not only did he look disoriented, he couldn’t stand.  At 12-years-old I know that we are on borrowed time with him, but I didn’t expect overtime to end so soon.  I carried him down the stairs, took him outside, and held him up as he took care of business.

I then did what anyone else would do with vet offices closed and a hurricane on the way – I searched PetMD.  And guess what?  PetMD is as bad as WebMD for making you think the worse.  I had to stop searching and start focusing on My Boy.

We weathered the hurricane well and his appetite came back with the help of low-sodium chicken broth.  Dogon recuperated: he could walk and play and eat, but he still couldn’t see out of one eye.  I made a vet appointment.

The Old Man’s symptoms were similar to that of a human stroke victim.  The vet explained that dogs don’t have strokes as we know them.  Based on his symptoms he had an episode or a seizure.  A possible cause? Who knows? Old age? A brain tumor? And then those horrible words.  If he had only said it once, I might have been fine. But hearing it multiple times let me know that he was worried about the possibility. But without testing, it was impossible to know.

At the end of the day, I’ve opted against testing.  Why would I put Dogon through that? If something is found, there’s not much I can do – he’s 12. And if nothing is found, then I’ll spend my time worrying about what it could be. I prefer to just enjoy his company.

Dogon is currently sleeping in bed at my side and snoring.  Dhibou and Rio are at my feet and I have a glass of red wine.  I plan on enjoying overtime with the team.

A lovely day at the beach with My Boys.

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For anyone who has a Vizsla, this is so, so true.

My dog: the paradox

You can purchase this awesome and oh-so-true poster — Poster: My dog: the paradox

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Dogon: The Most Interesting Dog in the World

The most interesting dog in the world

Dogon: The most interesting dog in the world

He teaches young dogs new tricks.

It’s been said his hair actually prevents a hangover.

Even Chuck Norris let’s him lie.

He is the most interesting dog in the world.

They say every dog has its day.  For him, that is every day.

He never barks up the wrong tree.

When you lie with him, you wake clean and fresh.

He is the most interesting dog in the world.

“I may not always drink out of a glass, but when I do, I prefer red wine.

Keep wagging, my friends.”

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Red Wine Rx

Wine vs Rx“A glass of wine would probably do you good.”

Strange words to hear from a doctor, but the meds had been useless in addressing the cause of the pain, so maybe a glass of wine would relax me enough to make me comfortable.  Sure, I had been prescribed Vicodin, but I don’t take it – it doesn’t reduce the pain; it just makes me not care about it.

By the time I had received the wine recommendation, I’d been on meds and off reds for 3 weeks with no change in my condition.  I decided I might as well have a glass.  That night I skipped the meds, enjoyed a lovely malbec, and slept through the night.

That was not my first experience with red wine aiding my health.

A few years ago I had a DVT that resulted in 2 pulmonary embolisms.  As a result, I was put on warfarin for 6 months and told no alcohol and to limit my intake of leafy, green vegetables.   One of the benefits of taking rat poison is that I had to see a hematologist 2 – 3 times a week to test my INR and to adjust the warfarin dosage until my INR stabilized.

After 4 weeks, my dosage was still being adjusted multiple times a week and I decided to propose a treatment option to my doctor: 1 glass of wine a night during the week and 2 glasses on Friday and Saturday.  He agreed.  You didn’t think I was going to talk to him about adding more spinach or kale to my diet?

By the 2nd week, my INR stabilized within the target zone and I reduced my appointments to once a week.

Is red wine healthy? I don’t know.  One week it is; the next it isn’t.  Personally, I intend to moderately imbibe until told otherwise by a doctor.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and can’t dispense medical advice – despite driving by a Holiday Inn Express everyday on my way to work.  Cheers!

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“You don’t want a Vizsla.”

I actually find myself saying this to people when they ask about the boys at Petco, the beach or anywhere.  It’s not that I don’t want other people to have Vizslas, it’s just that they can be such PITAs (Pains in the Ass) at times: they require ridiculous amounts of attention, will try your patience as puppies (and adults), and will fluctuate between OCD and ADD until you don’t know what to do with them.  Even my friends who love playing with the boys admit that a Vizsla would drive them crazy.

So it hit me.  Joy Lyons (the breeder of my first boy, Dogon) wasn’t just trying to see if I would provide a good home when she made me jump through 3 (or was it 4) months of hoops.  She was measuring my PITA tolerance level.

HOOP 1. Travel to every dog show within a 250 mile radius
“I’ll see you next week.” I heard that after every dog show.  All it meant was another 4-hour drive the following Saturday for a roughly 8 am Vizsla conformation event (why couldn’t Vizslas show at 1pm?) to listen to ringside talk about the dogs and bitches (the only time I ever heard the term used in its original sense) in the ring.  And NO, they don’t all look the same.

HOOP 2.  Chit chat with all the people your chosen breeder introduces you to
At these shows I spoke with Joy at length and met other breeders, handlers, and owners.  I often answered the same question multiple times.  It was like an interrogation – does the answer change the 10th time you’re asked, “So what activities do you participate in during your free time?”  Kinda like a Vizsla wanting to play the same game or retrieve the same toy time after time after time; you can’t just say, “we just did that!”

HOOP 3.  Read The Versatile Vizsla
Yes, there will be a quiz.

HOOP 4.  Answer a questionnaire about your lifestyle, hobbies, history, work, etc.
By the time you are done with this, you will have an essay that would qualify towards the old Gordon Rule.  It was like taking a final exam – and spelling counts.

HOOP 5. Bring your spouse to a dog show to meet the breeder and answer the same questions you’ve been asked 100 times before
There is no way a Vizsla was going to be allowed into a home without the entire household being checked out.  Even my sister made the journey a few time.

Good news:  Once you’ve passed these tests you not only get your name on a list to adopt a Vizsla puppy, but you’ve also been vetted as a potential VP candidate.  Have fun!

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Red Wine: A Cunning Seductress

I have no explicit memory of our first introduction.  Just some vague recollections of getting to taste wine at important family gatherings.  I was unimpressed, which is probably why I wasn’t prone to binge drinking in my youth. Even a formal introduction at a wine tasting during a high school trip to France didn’t impress me.

Our first semi-regular meetings occurred the summer before college while I studied in Spain.  Actually “studied” is not the correct term.  I had earned a scholarship to study in Madrid, but once there I attended 1 class and then dropped all of my courses.  Sitting in a classroom wasn’t how I was going to acquire fluency in Spanish and an understanding of Spanish culture.  Immersion was the only way to go.  So I decided to live as a madrileña.

I spent my time exploring the city and enjoying local cafes, museums, parks, shopping, and siestas.  Dinner plans were made for after 9pm, at the earliest, and staying out until 3 or 4am was the norm.  It was during these self-directed excursions that I was formally introduced to the Temptresses of Rioja: Tempranillo and Garnacha.  I even met Porto and Vinho Verde during a weekend get-a-way to Lisbon.

Still, wine was not my beverage of choice.  Bacardi and Coke (the Cuba Libre or Mentirita) was my preference and that was reinforced during my college years at the University of Puerto Rico.  Wine was reserved for evenings on the wall of El Morro with friends and dates.  These were elegant affairs: a cheap, red table wine opened with a key (the best way to push in a cork) and pan de agua.

And yet, I didn’t become a wine drinker. Back on the mainland, I still ordered Bacardi and Coke, but added Vodka and Cranberry, Disaronno Sours, White and Black Russians, and Sea Breezes to my libation rotation (I couldn’t resist).

After I was married and moved into my husband’s condo (correction: our condo), I reunited with red wine during evening conversations on the neighbors’ balcony.  Their drink of choice:  Carlo Rossi Paisano on ice.  Don’t judge; it’s hot in Florida.

And now I have a cemetery of empty red wine bottles on my counter.  It was a lengthy seduction. Unlike Vizslas that overtly “force” you to like them with their wiggly behinds and constant kisses, Red Wine slowly worked her way into my life.  I started ordering wine at bars and restaurants. Then I was buying a bottle a month, then once a week.  Nowadays, I enjoy a glass with most dinners and while reading.

I still enjoy Bacardi.  Though now I prefer the Añejo and the 1873 Solera.  And I prefer them neat.

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