Grass and Bones

This year’s giant pumpkin plant fizzled — it had the same stunted side-vines that troubled me last year — and I decided it was time to move on and spend my springs and summers doing something practical, like beer-brewing or falconry.

The pumpkin patch is now a bare patch of dirt, however. Our dog Bones assisted in the planting of arborvitae, and fall is the best time of year for seeding the rest of the patch with grass. After some light weeding and leveling, there was no need to loosen or amend the soil with nutrients, since I’ve been adding loads of compost and organic fertilizer for the pumpkins and it’s easily the richest, fluffiest dirt you’re liable to find in a typical suburban backyard.

I borrowed my parents’ spreader and used Scott’s Sun and Shade variety of seed (aka, Idiot-Proof Seed) and lightly raked the scattered seed into the soil. The key is keeping it wet, which is easier to do now that the hot summer sun is on the wane, and I’ve got the sprinker rigged in the center of the yard and mean to use it a few times a day until the grass takes hold.

The downside of growing grass is that Bones lurvs digging in the patch, tearing up roots and burying bones (for real) and playing ostrich, and because I removed the cheap protective fence around the patch in early summer (and foolishly threw it away), Bones has to be leashed whenever he’s let outside.

Bones digging:



It seems unfair that he’s so restricted considering his help with the arborvitae. All that work, he must be thinking, and now I have to be chaperoned by a parent wearing pajama bottoms and untied sneakers.

After a single day, it’s already getting him down. This morning he saw a chipmunk lurking in the back corner, and although I did my best to run at his side and Chase It Into Its Hole Just Because, my pitiful man legs were no match for Bones’s usual speed, and the chipmunk, unalarmed by our approach, very gradually turned and escaped with no particular haste.

In other words, I let Bones down. I’m sure he’ll take a lot of heat for this, especially once the squirrels start mocking our efforts. But this is the way it has to be, and I can only hope that the yard animals will be awed by Bones’s unfettered speed once the grass is grown and he can resume his leashless sallies into the yard.

How to Make a Dog Throw Up

BonesIn a split-second this morning, our dog Bones smelled our son’s antihistamine on the dining room table and thought, “Hm, grapey treat.” He managed to lift the tiny plastic cup off the table without a spill. I strolled out and there he was, having knocked the medicine over and begun to lick the strange, sugary liquid off the carpet. After some frantic no-no-no! style hullabaloo he backed away, looking throughly embarrassed, and our son started crying because he thought Bones was poisoned. My wife calmed him (our son) down and I called the emergency vet.

Bones had consumed maybe a third of the 1-tablespoon dose. This is children’s medicine that is sometimes given to dogs his size for allergy-control, but we had to play it safe. The vet recommended hydrogen peroxide, which surprised me. It’s apparently a common recommendation, one I didn’t know because we’ve never had a dog before. We were instructed to pour three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide into his mouth and walk him briskly on a leash. After getting most of the hydrogen peroxide into his stomach, we jogged around the yard. He looked, well… like someone who’d just been force-fed a big mouthful of hydrogen peroxide. And in less than sixty seconds, the treatment worked its magic.

He vomited. And vomited. And vomited and vomited. A threw up the first half of breakfast, then the second half of breakfast, then a little more, and a little more, and a little more, and then he decided to poop, and then he threw up a little more. Ten minutes later, he was 100% emptied out and trotting around in very high spirits, though still with an expression like, “What was that all about?”

We’re waiting an hour before we give him a replacement breakfast.

Moral of the story: small cups of medicine are not to be left for even the briefest amount of time, and hydrogen peroxide is one heck of an emetic.

Bones Mahoney

Max, our eighteen-year-old cat, died early last week. I was really close to this cat and don’t feel like writing about him yet, but we suddenly have a dog and so I’ll write about that.

My wife and son led the charge on getting a dog so quickly after Max died, though we had talked for years about “getting a dog eventually whenever our poor old achy cat passes on.” We wanted a rescue dog, preferably a mix, not too big and not too small, playful but snuggly, the kind of dog that looks like a dog in the most generic, plain-old-dog sense of the word.

My wife made the perilous move of looking up Homeward Bound and discovering online photos of cute and lovable puppies, which even in our sadness over Max, or perhaps because of the empty-house vulnerability we were all experiencing, convinced us that we had to rescue one of these particular pups as soon as possible, because what if, what if, he or she was destined to be our family pet and our inaction, though perfectly reasonable given our cat grief, resulted in a Badly Thwarted Cosmos or, God forbid, the tragic euthanasia of Unadopted Cuteness? We applied the next day.

We liked one litter best — a set of spaniel mixes (two border spaniels, two boradors) — and went to meet the whole pack of homeless dogs on Saturday morning at a rundown local mall. It’s a place that used to thrive but now, for reasons that are difficult to pin, is empty of virtually everything expect a decent movie theater, a JCPenny at the far end, and a couple of depressing stores that sell incense, dreamcatchers, and pewter dragons (it’s likely even those have closed; I didn’t check). An ideal location, in its way, for a weekly adoption clinic. I suspect it makes the mall smell better.

The minute we arrived, we were greeted by a tawny pup who, as if confirming our cosmic suspicions, had unexpectedly arrived overnight from a high-kill shelter in Kentucky. He would have been euthanized in a matter of days but Homeward Bound saved him, bringing him all the way up to find a home here in upstate NY. We still had our eyes fixed firmly on the litter we’d considered, but here came the Kentucky stranger, over and again, full of friendly action, licking our son, jumping into my lap (to be cradled, not to pounce), and rolling on his back in total submission to my wife. None of the pups we’d planned to chose from gave us any kind of serious attention.

My parents brought their own dog, a terrific sporty Dachshund named Howard, and he and the Kentuckian hit it off right away. This was crucial… we spend a lot of time with my parents and need our dogs to be Bosom Friends. Homeward Bound approved our application more or less immediately. I expected them to say we’d acquire our puppy in several days, once proper arrangements had been made with his foster family. But nope, he was ours on the spot, so before I really grasped what was happening, we had a dog named Bones wagging around the house.

He’s a Jack Russell mix of some kind. Homeward Bound said he was mixed with boxer. Friends and family disagreed. Today at the vet we heard “lab” and “German shep” and discovered he’s probably four months old instead of six, as we were told at the clinic, and so we really don’t know what the heck he is except capital-A awesome and exactly what we wanted.

He was found roaming the streets of Winchester, KY. That’s all the early history we got. He was neutered shortly after being found and got his early shots. But he must have had some training, too, because he’s already pretty good at Sit, Stay, Come, and peeing/pooping outside. He’s great with things that puppies are supposed to have to learn, like soft biting, letting go of toys when nicely asked (even marrow bones and antlers, which he loves), submitting to inner-thigh, belly, face, and tail handling like he’s trusted us for years. He’s been great with every stranger he’s met and seems inquisitive and active — not aggressive — around the few other dogs that we’ve encountered. Today we had the Best Nap Ever on the couch and played with a toy skunk. He rarely barks, and when he does he has a respectable reason.

He’s currently 16 lbs. Not knowing his actual mix, he might double or triple in size by the end of his first year. But that’s OK because he’s home no matter what, and while we still miss our old cat Max, whom my wife got before she even met me 17 years ago and was a member of the family for the entirety of our son’s life, Bones became a permanent Mahoney as soon as we walked into that hopeless old mall.