As spectacular as this day was, this is all you get for now:

An account of our visit requires far more than I can peck out on my iPhone keyboard.

Today is our final day in Peru, during which we’ll be finishing up our sightseeing in Cusco. No more blogging for me until we get home on Friday. I want to enjoy the day without thinking about having to blog it.

Suffice to say, however, I can’t wait to get home to this girl!


This is an admittedly self-indulgent post, but really, aren't they all? Still, I feel required to begin with that disclaimer because I'm feeling rather traumatized at the moment when I really have no right to be, as you shall soon see. On with the post then.

There's nothing quite like watching your twelve year-old, arthritic dog fall head first down ten stairs to ruin your day. 

Stuart_091409Much to my surprise, he's fine. He got up, shook himself off, and waited for Mick to come down and carry him down the remaining stairs. He went for his usual morning walk and everything seems to be in the semi-working order it was in before the fall.

But if there was any doubt I'd make a terrible mother, let it be dispelled now, because the whole incident was my fault. Allow me to explain:

Our little family has a routine. Somewhere between 4:30 and 6:30am, the dogs decide it's time to get up. Some days are more urgent than others–if we don't act quick enough, there might be an accident. Or in Stella's case, an "accidentally on purpose." This morning things didn't seem too frantic and we all took our time.

One of the reasons we bought this house was so that we wouldn't have to take our aging dog Stuart down to the street four times a day in the condo elevator. We went through that with Kramer and cute as he was in his little red wagon, it was really no fun for anyone. Now that Stuart had reached seniorhood, it seemed a nice little backyard was just the thing.

But damned if we didn't choose a house with stairs leading to the master bedroom. Stuart's had trouble with those stairs pretty much since the first moment we moved in, and most days/nights, Mick hauls him up and down. I don't do it because frankly, I'm afraid of falling down them myself, and carrying Stuart only increases the liklihood I'll end up at the bottom of the landing in a heap. 

This brings me to Stella. Being the untrustworthy sort, her feet are forbidden to touch the floor in the morning until after she's been outside. I carry her downstairs every morning (at nine pounds vs. Stuart's thirty, she's a much safer option for me). 

This morning Mick must've took a little too long to get ready because Stuart followed me to the stairs instead of waiting for Mick to carry him down. It happens occasionally and I didn't think much of it. But this time, when he stepped onto the first stair, his back legs collapsed. He wouldn't, or couldn't get up, even with some gentle prodding. I was still holding Stella and didn't want to risk putting her down, so I propped up Stuart's hind legs to see if they were still working. Sounds perfectly reasonable, right?

Except I propped him up ON THE STAIRS. With his front legs on a bottom step and his back legs on the step behind it. Truly, I might as well have shoved him down the stairs myself, because pretty much as soon as I let go of him, he tumbled helplessly down to the bottom of the landing. HEAD FIRST. I could only watch in horror. I didn't move, I didn't even let go of Stella. I JUST WATCHED (and screamed for Mick).

Hell, I think even Stella was traumatized because she was strangely subdued as I attached her leash. Usually she's scratching at the door, desperate to get out and bark at the world.

Like I said, Stuart's okay, sleeping peacefully as if the whole thing never happened. But I remain sad and troubled, because what I did was not only thoughtless, it was lazy. It was clear Stuart's legs were not working properly this morning–how hard would it have been for me to stand there and wait for Mick? Or, God forbid, let Stella run down the stairs herself so I could help Stuart? 

What if he would've hurt himself?

Oh, the shame.

I'll get over it. But right now I'm feeling pretty damned guilty.


It’s April Fool’s Day. I’ve never been much of a celebrant of this “holiday,” but I do enjoy a good April Fool’s joke–I just don’t do ’em because I can never think of a good one.

Speaking of good ones, the best ever played on me actually happened on our trip to Tokyo in 2007. One of the things we made a point of seeing in Shibuya was the statue of Hachiko at Shibuya Station, the loyal akita who accompanied his owner to work every day and when his owner died, continued doing it for another ten years until his own death. You can read the story here.


The day after we visited the statue, Mick and I woke up to a front page article in the Japan Times saying that the beloved landmark had been stolen during the night. We couldn’t believe it. How could it possibly be that this happened only one day after we saw the statue. We were in shock (okay, maybe not shock, but we were certainly surprised).

Then all of a sudden, Mick said “Wait a second, what day is this?” It dawned on both of us that it was April Fool’s Day, and we had indeed been fooled. The joke was on us, and probably many others in Tokyo that morning, at least the ones reading the English language newspaper. You can read the complete story here.

It occurs to me this might be one of those “you had to be there moments.” Perhaps. But it really was pretty funny at the time. And since I can’t think of my own April Fool’s Joke to play on you, you’ll have to settle for this anecdote. Happy April Fool’s!

But wait, let’s not stop here. What’s the best April Fool’s Joke you’ve played or someone’s played on you?

I just wanted to give a quick report on Stella. Refer to this post if you want the beginning of the story.

Things are going splendidly. Somewhere around the beginning of January she really settled in and became a part of the family. Stella and Stuart worked out their differences and now seem to love each other. They even play together, which is something Stuart and Kramer never did.

There are still a couple of problems, such as aggressiveness toward other dogs when we're on walks. I have been shamed on the street many times by my crazy barking girl. We're working on it.


I'll admit to being rather infatuated with her right now, which feels good after having some bonding issues earlier on. It bothers me to think how very close I came to giving up on her. She's turned out to be a lovely little girl.

Saturday marked one year since our beloved dog Kramer died. Most of the hurt has faded away, but we sure do miss him. He was possibly the best dog ever.

Which brings me to the subject of this post. In November we adopted a new little pooch who we named Stella:


She’s cute, huh? You want to pet her, don’t you? You want to kiss her on the pretty little snout, right? This is what Stella’s thinking: Suckaaaa!

She is possibly the worst dog ever.

Of course, I say that in jest (kind of). She’s mostly a good dog, and I’m not just saying that because she’s resting peacefully on my lap as I write this.

At this point you might be asking yourself how Mick and I ended up with this little bundle of, er, joy. We went to the gym one day and found they were having a pet adoption day. Mick said “Don’t look!” as I ran over to the cages to see the dogs. “It’ll be okay, I don’t want another one,” I said, even as my eyes locked on the precious ball of fur that was to become, at least temporarily, the bane of my existence. I picked her up and that was pretty much it. Mick did put up a good fight for about 20 minutes but in the end, Stella won. Stella always wins.

Since she came to our house, Mick and I spend a lot of time doing this:

The first day and a half was utter bliss. She was a quiet, fairly well-behaved dog that seemed only to have a few potty training issues. Piece of cake. We hadn’t yet cleaned the carpets from when Kramer was around, so what’s a little accident between friends?

On the second day, Stella and I were resting peacefully on the couch when Stuart jumped on. That’s when the trouble started. Stella unleashed a little snarl, which frankly, I laughed at. It soon went from an itty-bitty growl to a full-fledged attack, and from then on, Stella would randomly lunge at Stuart whenever she felt a little cranky. Which was apparently often, because she did it several times a day and there was no question in my mind: she was out for blood.

None of the West dogs have ever been known for their good manners (some friends will remember the Italian sausage incident or the case of the missing alligator head) but we’ve never had to deal with an aggressive dog. I was convinced more than once we’d have to return her to the rescue. At first, the only thing that saved her was her 10 pound stature; a larger dog would surely have been unmanageable with the level of aggression she was capable of. I call her a “10 lb can of whoopass.”

I went back to the rescue and told the guy in charge we had a big problem. I asked if there were any trainers he could recommend. He gave me the number for Peter Bovino of Peter & the Woof. From the start, Peter seemed dedicated to helping us keep Stella. He became our trainer and things have improved quite a bit. We now feel confident she can stay with us, even if she is still not the most well-behaved girl. Baby steps… or in this case, puppy steps (though for the record, Stella is not a puppy, she’s 2 years old).

And dare I say it? She even seems to kind of love Stuart now, at least when she knows something good, like food or a walk, is in the offing.

Still, I feel compelled to offer one little bit of advice to anyone out there who is as weak as I am: “DON”T LOOK!”

After looking through the Dog category on my blog, I realized the last time I posted on the subject was when Kramer died. Of course we’re still missing Kramer, but don’t forget we have another little guy named Stuart that is still going strong.


Okay, not so you can see it in this picture. But I can never resist pictures of Stuart sleeping.

Here’s a better one:


This, of course, is Stuart’s long-suffering look, which he’s sporting either because I have the gall to be sitting in his chair, or because I’m forcing him to smile for the camera.

Either way, he’s pretty damned cute.

Warning:  This is a sad story.

It’s been four months since my husband and I had to put our beloved 16 year-old dog Kramer to sleep.  I’ve wanted to write about it on my blog, but frankly, the subject is still too painful for me to think about deeply enough to write an adequate post.  I’m going to give it a try anyway.


One of the first people we told was a neighbor, the morning after it happened.  Mick and I walked our dog Stuart together that morning and I was in tears.  The neighbor had been walking his own dog and we had talked about our pets and Kramer’s declining health on numerous occasions.  I didn’t feel I had a choice but to tell him, and I don’t think I could’ve kept the news inside anyway.  I was, in fact, bursting with it.  I wanted the world to know that something of great significance had happened.  KRAMER DIED.

Our neighbor was sympathetic of course.  He said he was sorry, and then said “It’s like losing a child.”

This is a pretty standard statement of condolence when someone loses a pet, but I’m not sure anyone gives it much thought.  I know someone who has lost a child and it cuts you off at the knees.  Actually, you’d rather be cut off at the knees than suffer such a loss.  As painful as losing Kramer was, I was more or less a functioning human being a couple of days later.  I was devastated, and still am to some extent.  Losing a child doesn’t just devastate, it decimates.

Not that I’m criticizing my neighbor.  At the time it probably felt like the right thing to say.  And I appreciated his sentiment, because I know it came from a sincere place.

But losing a pet is not like losing child.  It’s like losing a pet.  And that’s bad enough.

I have a few new pieces of jewelry I’ve been too busy to photograph, but in the mean time, I’d like to introduce you to a new friend of mine:  Millie.

I think I’m in love!


Millie is a little wisp of a dog who inspires many hugs and kisses.  She is a six pound chihuahua who was born without kneecaps and can’t walk.  I met her today for the first time because I am volunteering to walk the dogs of a client of PAWS/LA who is recovering from surgery.  The client has two other dogs–Teko and Daisy, both of which are very sweet.  But it’s Millie who really warms my heart to pieces.  I would take her home with me if I could, to be honest.

Despite not being able to walk, Millie goes with me on the walk with Teko and Daisy.  She has a little doggie pouch that I wear and I take her out and put her on the ground at various times during the walk so she can “do her business.”  Teko and Daisy patiently wait for Millie and while I can’t say the whole process runs like clockwork, it’s less cumbersome than I thought it would be.

I’ll be volunteering twice a week for about two months, so I’ll have some time to get to know Millie, Teko, and Daisy.  I feel lucky about that.