Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pabu's Last Years

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Pabu never was trained to walk at heel or come when called but very late in life he learned to be a "cruiser."
His first person, Ellie, didn't think leash skills were very important and neither did I. His breed, Tibetan Spaniels, are notorious for being very independent so getting him housetrained was about all we did to modify his behavior for human convenience. We simply made sure he was never outside an enclosed area without having a leash on attached to a strong human arm. With short legs and a heavy double fur coat, he never seemed to need or want much exercise on walks with his halter and leash. For his first 16 years, a long walk once a day and a few more "outings" seemed to satisfy him.... until he had a chance to join his longtime pal, Dan, at a doggie playgroup in December 2015. He'd known Dan since he was a 6 month old puppy. Pabu had pulled so hard on his leash one evening, he pulled over Ellie and broke her wrist. She thought nothing of it (incipient vascular dementia) but the human family said, "The time is now for a dog walker!" His human niece, Catherine, found Dan's website and soon Pabu was spending a lot of time glued to his home's front door waiting for Dan, who is also an amazing photographer. Dan also had to fend off Ellie's constant attempts to fix him a lunch when he needed to get back to work or meet up with his fiancé, and later wife, Miranda. (Ellie made a great sandwich and super salads!) It's nice to see Pabu's first Big Dog pal, the Samoyed Skylo, still on Dan's dog care website first page.
Fast forward over 15 years of regular dog walks with Dan on the streets around home, and soon one weekly morning playgroup session became three days a week because Pabu, who knew?!, was a "cruiser" of constant happy motion when set loose with gentle dogs in an enclosed dog run at a local public park. He knew he was safe there with Dan, his wife Miranda, and daughter, Sierra.
He enjoyed those playgroups until the week before he died. I'm sure he would give Dan, Miranda and Sierra many dog kisses and long presses of his head into their legs in thanks if he could. (Many thanks to Dan for these impromptu cell phone pictures!)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

Pabu always sat under Ellie's chair whenever she sat at table. Here is his favorite chair that fit him perfectly. He is not asking for special handouts since the food that day was a lobster salad at a shower for Olivia's birth before she was born and whose birthday is today. "Underwater insects - ick! he'd say to that food.
Ellie would sometimes say Pabu was the son she never had but she always treated him like a dog, never a human. She had raised a companion dog when she was a child and another when her own children were young. She loved fixing them special meals like poached salmon and baby food rice when puppies. She certainly knew what dogs like to do and what they don't like. She knew he usually liked to be right next to her but sometimes he'd like to stretch out in a sunny place in another room or outside. She learned how to be a mother by raising her own two younger sisters when she discovered her own mother had as she often said, "Not a single maternal bone in her body!" That sounds harsh but it was true. Ellie happily fixed their food, clothes, and cared for them as a normal mother would.
Here she is with her youngest sister Frannie at the home of her Aunt Lou and Uncle Frank Mates where she learned herself what real parental love was. I see in this photo again her soft hands as she rests them on Frannie's shoulders. Ellie said about this picture it showed how much she really was a mother to Frannie. For Mother's Day 2017, here is Ellie with her two granddaughters: my sister and me. She was always happiest at home with family and a child in her lap or next to her who wanted to be there. The day Pabu died I got a fortune cookie which said, "You are guided by silent love and friendship around you." I think that is what Ellie and Pabu, too, always showed me and the world as well.
Happy Mother's Day all!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Christmas 2002

On Pabu's birthday today, I tried to find a photo of him as a puppy but could not easily find any. Instead this photo calls out for some contemplation today. Here are Pabu and his first person, Ellie, on their Christmas card for 2002 which I took in their back yard. Ellie holds him with soft hands. She never touched or patted him with anything but the most gentle hands. Pabu at about 3 and a half years old had grown out his tail and black ear tips to almost their full lengths. His puppy fur colors had disappeared. Ellie had just started having trouble with vascular dementia so Pabu took extra special care of her now that he was becoming the "adult" in the household. They met in Placitas, New Mexico, at the home of Ruth Davis. She bred her bed dog, Lucky, to her female dog, Libby, and they had one puppy who would be a bit too big for AKC Tibetan Spaniel standards. Ruth said he had a personality which would need to have him be the only dog in a household. Grandma Ellie and her daughter, Carolyn, sat in Ruth's living room waiting for the household puppies and dogs to charge in together. Pabu ran straight to Ellie, stood up on his hind legs and showed he wanted to sit in her lap right away. She picked him up, he snuggled down, and never left her lap again on that visit. He knew she was the one for him. He had spotted the ur-mother of the human world who needed and wanted him. Someone who would devote all of her mothering skills to him and then he would devote himself to her care in her final years. Tibetan Buddhists believe dogs like Pabu are often monks reborn to try life again after making mistakes in the past. I see in this picture Pabu saying, "I'm all grown up in this dog life and ready to take care of her as she has taken care of me."

Monday, April 17, 2017


Alice speaking.... Pabu died in my arms today a bit before 11am. He would have been 18 years old on May 7. He felt the Sun one more time on his head, looked and sniffed at 2 Chihuahuas having a walk and sniff on the street, smelled the soft rain on the air and freshly leafed trees, snuggled in his favorite blanket, and knew he was deeply beloved by his human family. I promised him in Fall 2005 he would never have to survive the death of another human to whom he was bonded hard like his first person, my Grandmother Eleanor "Ellie" M. So, goodbye to my "Furry Uncle" Mr. Pabu. Pabs. I'll work on filling out his story for this blog with past travels and maybe some future ones, too.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Almost 17

Here I am. Waiting again. Patiently, for Alice to finish with work. I guess it beats being left in the car. "Alice, please stop with the typing and pay attention to me!" In just a month I will be 17. Pretty much deaf. Watchdog duties done. Life is good. But, right now I'd rather be home checking my water and food bowls, my beds and settle in for the evening nap.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving last week. I went up with Alice to our northern county property at the old U.S. Army Fort Baker. We own it! ... along with every other citizen of the US. Of course the local coyotes, deers, foxes, seagulls and seals say, "Hey! We were here first!!" But they let us share it for which Alice and I are very thankful.

A real highlight was meeting Captain. He is a distant relative of mine who had an amazing adventure in which he lost an eye. But, he's not talking about it to the people. I heard the whole story and I am not telling either. It's between us tibbies.

Captain and his people took a long walk up into the hills. He's young and can do those things. I prefered to stay in warm spots out of the wind.

Alice met Moss, a very young Border Collie who might become the local hotel dog. He'd have an appointment book packed with people wanting to take him out for walks if Nancy the Concierge of Cavallo Point Lodge at Fort Baker and his person Euan think he's up to the job. Paws crossed for Moss. If he gets the job, I'll bet he'll have many drawings made of him as Captain does.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Goodbye Fluffy & Tuffy

Today, Alice and I learned the last of our block's Big Dogs is gone. Fluffy and Tuffy are now forever together again waiting for their Pam to join them for slow walks and long soaks under the warm Sun. I loved that they were just the same colors as me. Fluffy white rears. Golden backs and heads.

We were the gentle and quiet dogs of our block. Deliberate and calm thinkers.

Here is a photo of me with one of them in November 2009. It's been sitting on Alice's telephone camera for a long time. It's now time to download it and post it forever in the Internet cloud.

Rest in Peace, Fluffy and Tuffy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

News from the Skylakis in Athens

Alice met many very important dogs in Greece a few months ago. The people there call them "skylos" (dog) or "skylaki" (doggie).

This week has been unnerving for the skylakis of Syntagma Square in Athens. A normal day there involves getting water and food all day long from nice people, lots of stretching, naps and more naps, and sloooow walks to Sun spots for basking. No one can get a nap there now! Yesterday, some people shot off tear gas after other people starting ripping up the paving stones to throw about. Enough already!!

"That was MY favorite stone for Sun basking, fella!," says this Hellenic relative photographed by an AFP person while dodging angry people waving fabric on sticks at other people. It's time for everyone to calm down, get something decent to eat - maybe some of that fabulous Greek cheese pie?! - and then have a long snooze. Things will look much better then in the morning.

But will the people take the advice of the skylakis?

Here is that same skylos on a normal day. He is the Vice-Mayor of the Hotel Grande Bretagne. The Mayor is a bigger dog who hangs out closer to the doorman. In past lives they've lived through invasions from Persians, Spartans, Romans, Turks, Venecians, Nazis.... This, too, shall pass, and we will still be here with the flower sellers across the corner and the skylakis Otto and Amelia on the other side of the Square.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Alice's New Dog

Alice got a new dog today. Not to worry, it's just a hairclip in the shape of a Scottie or maybe a Westie? I hope she doesn't get me any hairclips... I like the wind in my fur!!
We've been on a lot of short local trips since last Fall. Several to the new military cemetary near Sacramento. I got an exiciting 2-night overnight with Kip and Kyle last month while Alice went to curl in Seattle. They put on their cheetah costumes to make me feel comfortable. Lots of family get-togethers. Lots and lots of fun walks and plenty of lap sitting in the cars. Isn't life great?
What will this year bring? I'm ready for it.

Monday, November 01, 2010

SF Giants Win the World Series!

I watched the end of the World Series tonight with my Carolyn as Alice listened on her radio in a car. I watched the first game with Alice and Carolyn at home while Diego and Pablo got seats at the ball park. Pablo dyed his beard black to be like Giants closer pitcher Brian Wilson and Diego looked a bit like Lincecum. They had a great time.
I wonder if they smelled any of the many Polish dog hotdogs and garlic fries Farley's Alphonse gave as offerings on the mound before each SF Giants season opener? I suspect Alphonse has fainted with the news of the Giants winning the World Series tonight.
Pika's Catherine and Agustin watched Game 4 last night from Chicago. I wonder if Catherine as a Texan was rooting for the Rangers? Agustin said he was rooting for the Giants.
I thought a lot about Roger during the games. I know he NEVER got over the Giants and the Dodgers moving to California from New York... or rather I should say for the latter moving from the Great City of Brooklyn to - horrors! - Los Angeles.
As a kid in the 1940s and a teen in the 1950s, the Dodgers were everything to him. He would save money to take the train to Ebbets Field by himself. He sometimes saw games there with his Dad. He saved and saved and saved as a little kid to buy a REAL Dodgers shirt to play stickball with his friends. A baseball his Dad caught during a game sits on Agustin's dresser now in Mexico City.
I will dream tonight of Roger playing baseball with his brothers George, Bobby and Richard. They will all be wearing Brooklyn Dodger's shirts except Bobby who always rooted for the Yankees. They will all be under age 13. The Sun will be shining and the grass will be very green. They will have a real MLB baseball and gloves to play with and one wooden bat. The Brooklyn Dodgers will win the World Series!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scooby's Mystery Machine

Alice had a look at the Halloween decorations for sale at the local CVS. A plastic pumpkin in the exact shape of Scooby-Do caught her eye. She loaded into the car instead a real pumpkin from the grocery store.

But Scooby followed her...

Here is his special van just a couple of blocks from our house yesterday. Alice asked me if this is a sign she should have bought that Scooby pumpkin head. No, I said, we have enough stuff already in the house. I would prefer more room for running around having her chase me as I bite the plush squirrel toy to make it chatter.

But.... Alice is now humming the Scooby-Do song much too often for my taste....

Friday, October 01, 2010

Me & Reva

Here I am earlier today with Reva. She is an artist who is painting my portrait. There it is between us almost ready to take home. I guess this means I shall be truly immortal now that I have a portrait.
Reva also painted the two Scotsmen Alice has in our hallway. One of them looks just like a human relative and the other has deep thoughts about outdoor winter Scottish sports, which yes, do, of course, including the very best sport of all: dog walking!!

Monday, September 13, 2010


I have a new neighbor. Her name is Molly. She is a labradoodle. Here I am meeting her for the first time. She has grown as tall as me in just a few weeks. The first few weeks in her new house she was a bit scared. When her people would go out she would cry. I tried to send her calm-down-thoughts. It usually worked. Now she is learning how to be calm like me. Not jumping up on people is a very tough lesson for her. She is just too little to understand that I think. Everyday I walk by her house and wonder how she is doing. It's very nice to have another dog on my block.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Adventures of 7-4-Foxtrot

Alice's earliest memories of flying are from trips in 7-4-Foxtrot, a.k.a. a white and orange Mooney. Way back in the late 1960's and early 1970's, she would wait on a wing while her Dad pre-flighted. Inside, it always smelled of cigarettes and Wrigley's Spearmint gum. Her sister, Catherine, was always in back with her while their Dad sat up front as pilot-in-command with Mom as a fully capable radio-operator and lander. Mom never was interested in learning how to take-off an airplane....

A trip in Summer 1970 to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone is now dimming in Alice's mind. She can't remember which places were visited first. In her mind, she has very strong memories of seeing the Grand Tetons across a river. They seemed rather small to her after having first flown over the Sierra Nevadas many times and walking in Yosemite in Winter and Summer.

It was HOT, HOT, HOT in the Tetons. Driving by (or through?) an archway of shed elk anters. Hot and dry walking to their rooms in a long line of cottages right next to the Jackson Lake Lodge. Each cottage with a funny wood screen sheltering a little porch. A horseride up into the Teton's foothills for an evening cowboy BBQ. Alice remembers the black and white pinto coat of the horse she rode. For years and years she remembered his name.... but can't think of it now.

Yellowstone - the view from the plane of the green, blue, yellow, orange and red hot springs is still there in the mind. Waiting in a crowd for Old Faithful to blow. The sound of it whooshing - Alice thinks she could play the tone of it on the piano. That sound is still there. (If you click on the photo of the sign you will see Catherine holding Francis! FWIW: Francis is NOT one of the troll orphans in the movie Toy Story 3 but one of her distant cousins is.)

Looking into the Yellowstone river canyon from a road - OK, thought Alice - but all things considered - one *should* be nice - Yosemite's falls are prettier. Alice would like to go back there and spend more time preferably in Winter in a self-driven one-horse open sleigh with blankets. (Pabu says, I would like to see and sniff a buffalo from a very safe distance! And pay my respects to that Faithful thing as one faithful creature to another.)

Pika's people are in Jackson Hole as I write this. With a new ukulele of all things! I think she would be happy to have a ride in a Mooney over Jackson Lake and to swoop over Yellowstone. And, listen to a new uke tune about her own adventures in the Tetons. But really, I know she would prefer to have a photo op in the same spot her Catherine stood in front of the Tetons when she was the same age Pika is now. I'm sure she could sniff out that exact spot.