Dog Trainer is Busted

“She’s training you,” said the vet. Imagine that in a speech bubble. Now add a thought bubble above a dog’s head: “Busted!”.

That happened twice during a recent visit I paid with Mochi to Dr. Craig Hopkins at Ferguson Animal Hospital in Providence. Once was when I told Craig that Mochi often insisted on going out in the middle of the night, and usually did some business while we were out. “She’s training you,” he said, adding that a healthy four-year old dog could hold it until morning.

I raised the question of her weight. She’s 57 pounds, up from her previous visit, and up from the 49-50 pounds she stayed at for a while. We agreed that this may be related to her habit of banging her food bowl on the floor when it’s empty, and our habit of putting food in it when she does so. So yes, she’s trained us to do that. On a related note, she would not get on the vet’s scale until bribed with a treat.

So Mochi is a dog trainer: a dog who trains. She’s also a service dog: a dog who likes to be served food. She’s a Portuguese Water Dog, curly rather than flat of hair.

We discussed this at the following day at the family breakfast table, as Mochi was hand-fed pieces of waffle with whipped cream.

Mochi was, as usual, very good at the vet’s. She is used to Ferguson, having been a patient there since before she was born. They were running a little late, but she was well-behaved, helped by three visits from staff: one to tell me that the wait was for a free treatment room, and the other two to tell her how good and cute she was.

We’ll try to make her more good. We don’t think she could be more cute. What do you think?

What a Long Strange Week It’s Been

The most important day of this week was Monday, the day of my mother’s funeral. Due to Covid and isolation rules, I was unable to return to England to be present at the ceremony. My sister, bless her, arranged a livestream.

So, at 9:45 on Monday (2:45pm in England), we watched the ceremony. It was strange not to be there. It was strangely comforting when Mochi started licking my face as I was watching. It was also comforting to walk her to the beach a little later.

Other strange aspects of the past week included the first Halloween we haven’t celebrated in many years. Some people in our neighborhood “did Halloween”, but we were wary of the Covid-risk to others and to ourselves. Our kids are old enough to understand (16 and 14 now). It was a lovely crisp Saturday afternoon, though.

Then there was the election. Or rather, there still is the election. The strangeness of that would take a post by itself…

How was your week been?

2018: It wasn’t all bad…

But it was one of the toughest years of my life. My father passed away just before Christmas. My own health wasn’t too good either.

There’s good news to report, though. Our family now includes a puppy. We named her Mochi. She’ll get her own post soon. In the meantime, here’s a photo of her telling us that her bowl is empty.

Other highlights of the year include some precious time back to England with parents and other family. The kids made good starts at their respective new schools (high and middle).

All in all, I’m not sorry to see the end of 2018. I’m hoping for a better 2019.

Facebook: Going to the Dogs?

A few weeks ago, I grudgingly acknowledged that we might be in the decade of Facebook. Since then there has been backlash of various forms, defense of Zuck and his firm against said backlash. None of it has changed my mind about FB.

A couple of snappy canine remarks caught my attention recently: hence this post. First is dabitch’s observation. Facebook – you are not the customer. You are the product. The point, of course, is that what you might think of as your data is FB’s product.

Second is Rob Cottingham’s brilliant update to the classic On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

While I’m not barking mad at FB, but I do appreciate a well-phrased growl at it.


BetsyThis is about my favorite cover girl. She won’t be spending the coming winter with us.

It was clear for a while that our home was not a good fit for Betsy, the hound we adopted four and a half years ago. I’ve tried via postings on this blog, on Craigslist, and elsewhere, to find a better home for her. There were no responses, perhaps because it’s harder to find a home for an older dog than for a puppy.

On Saturday, I took her to the adoption center at Angell Memorial to surrender her. She and I walked there. This was partly because the car was busy elsewhere. But it was best, I think, that we had a last good long walk together in and near some of our favorite places.

We went through Fallon Field, our local park. We went the whole length of the Arnold Arboretum, from the Mendum Street gate, around Peters Hill, across in to the JP side of the Arboretum and to the main gate. From there we walked along the Jamaica Way, with a view of Jamaica Pond, until it was time to turn up to get to Angell.

We checked in at the reception desk, then sat in the room behind there for a while. I filled out the paperwork. Then we sat together, just the two of us. I haven’t had time to do that since before our second kid was born.

So, Betsy doesn’t live with us any more. I know that, but I think I’m still in the denial stage. For example, it’s hard to train myself to the idea that food left on the kitchen table for a minute or two might be safe. When I get back from San Diego, I’ll probably find myself driving to the kennel to bring her back home.

But our home isn’t hers any more. I hope that Betsy finds a home with someone who has time to sit and talk with her, and just spend time with her.