About Foxy

I live in Napa Valley and write a newspaper column, essays, and poems. This blog gives my dog, Foxy, a place to post a journal and parts of his memoir, My Leash on Life.

Santa? Me?




Ball Detective


Chewy loves tennis balls. The first ones I gave him he immediately scalped and chewed until they were mere slabs of rubber. In the last year, he’s learned to take better care of them. He’ll chase them in the house or at the park and bring them back to me most of the time. It’s great exercise for both of us.

When I take him to the park to walk off leash, he makes it into a ball-finding expedition. As soon as he finds a tennis ball, usually one that’s worn and has been out in the dirt and rain so it’s disgustingly filthy (or deliciously so by his measure), he carries it with him for the rest of the walk, stopping occasionally to give his jaw a rest, guard it with one paw and check to see if I’m going to try to take it away. No thanks!

When there is more than one ball around, it creates a perplexing situation. At home, he’ll have one ball in his mouth when I throw the other one. He chases it and then stops, not knowing what to do, because he doesn’t want to release the one he’s got.

Today I brought a clean ball from home to the park. He chased it for a while. Then it rolled down a hill right up to a fence that provides a boundary between the enclosure and the street. There he found an old torn up and dirty ball. He let the good one from home go while he proceeded to chew on the yucky one. I refused to go down the hill to join him; there was no way I was going to pry that filthy ball away from him. So I went looking for another ball. There are always many balls in the fenced area. Sure enough, I found a nice newish one and threw it. Chewy ran after it, picked it up and took it down the hill to the area where he now had the ball from home, the awful one and the new one. I urged him to come back up the hill, but he wasn’t having any of it, so I went to a bench and sat.

I could no longer see Chewy from the bench, so that didn’t last long. I finally went to see what he was doing. He was standing at the fence wagging his little curly tail and trying to figure out how to get to the other side of the wire fence. You see, there was yet another tennis ball nestled in the leaves on the other side of the fence and he wanted that one too!

Oy! Enough of that. He wagged. He barked at the unavailable tennis ball. He looked the fence up and down, thinking if only he could jump over it or crawl under it. No such luck. I gave in and walked down the hill, grabbed one of the good tennis balls and urged him to come and get it. He ran up the hill, chased the ball and took it right back to the fence. This is the down side of having a smart (or is it just OCD?) dog. He wasn’t giving up on that unattainable ball.

Back down the hill I went, put the leash on him and dragged him out and back to the car. He can continue his pursuit of lost balls another time.



Does that look seem devilish to you? What a night. Most evenings Chewy goes obediently to sleep in his bed next to mine and early in the morning I invite him to join me for a snuggle and another hour of sleep. My error last night was bringing home a package of tennis balls. I knew he would go crazy for them, but his fervor included stealing the package off the coffee table and running away from me as I tried to retrieve it. I finally got the package from him, opened it and gave him one ball. He spent the rest of the evening tearing it apart, demanding that I throw it or try to get it away from him, and for rest periods in between all of this activity, barking at the remaining balls I had placed on a high shelf above the TV.

I should have known that bedtime would be a challenge. He was still in play mode. And he wanted to be up on the bed with me and his ball. Not clear which he loves most. He was so hyper, I put him on the bed to calm him down. He promptly went to sleep, but a couple of hours later, when I tried to move him to his bed, he made it clear that was not OK. First he did his usually growling and low barking at me to inform me he wanted up on the bed. I tried verbal signals. I tried ignoring him. After fifteen minutes he took his barking outside, insuring that, in consideration of my neighbors, I would come running to get him back into the house. I then locked him in the bedroom with me, but he continued to growl and bark for a good twenty minutes more. He finally went to sleep in his bed, his ball right next to him. I had been awake for an hour.

This morning would have been a good one to sleep in for a bit, but Chewy was awake around 6 a.m. I invited him up onto the bed, and he came, but immediately jumped down to get his ball. So I put him and the ball on the bed, hoping he would settle down. No such luck. Much chewing and jumping around followed as he tried to skin the ball. I finally threw it off the bed, knowing he would follow. Foolishly, I hoped he’d play by himself and let me sleep. No, he was back with the ball, standing next to the bed and growling, letting me know he wanted up with his precious toy. I finally gave up, got up, made my morning latte and settled in with the newspaper. The house became very quiet. There’s Chewy, curled up on his favorite chair, sound asleep. Oh the joys of being a dog mommy!


before haircut


I’ve known men who were hairy. Some who could take a comb to their arms or legs or backs. But I’d never seen hair on a male’s penis until I had a boy dog. Chewy is my first pet who needs grooming. That is, he has hair that grows, not fur. I’ve put off taking him to a groomer and use my own scissors to snip the hair on his cute Yorky face, hair that would otherwise be in his eyes.

For six months since I brought Chewy home, I’ve watched him develop a real beard, something akin to a lion’s mane next to his ears, and a beautiful silky coat that is a pleasure to touch. What I keep noticing with concern, however, is the one inch long tuft of hair that hangs down from his little penis. Sometimes when I’m rubbing his tummy, I have the distinct feel of something oily and not too pleasant smelling. I figure it’s leaked from that adorable tuft of hair.

I can’t blame Chewy. He spends a lot of time cleaning himself every morning and at other times when there’s nothing else to do.

There’s no way I have the guts to trim that myself. One wrong move and I’d have a lot of explaining to do to the vet. Does one ask the groomer to cut penis hair? Is it a routine part of the package, just like cleaning out the anal glands and trimming the claws?

I guess I could look on some Yorky website, but those folks who adore their pure-bred canines would certainly find me odd. Like who cares about a part Yorky, part Chihuahua, part who-knows-what mutt?

I could Google “hair on dog penis,” but I fear what pictures might come up.

I suppose I could get out the wipes or a wet towel and clean him off after every walk, but I’d really rather not get into the habit of touching my dog in a way that could be considered fondling. So I guess I’ll wait until I get to the groomer and just ask casually, “So is it customary to cut the penis hair?” I may look like an idiot, but only once.

P.S. I needn’t have worried. The groomer smiled and said, “Yes, that’s all part of the ‘Sanies’ or personal trim, which includes shaving the hair on his butt.”


after haircut


Therapy Dog

knee recovery

In March I got a new knee. Yeah, the kind that requires two nights in the hospital, a mountain of opioids, and a lot of TLC. Chewy was a great therapy dog. During the first couple of weeks when I spent a lot of time on the bed, he was right there beside me. He was such a comfort, I relaxed all my rules and had him sleeping under the covers with me! I knew full well I’d have to retrain him to his own bed, but it was worth it.

Every day (still!) I have to do my #@$% stretching exercises. This one is called the Ottoman Hang. Perhaps it’s not named for what was in Turkey before it was Turkey, but rather for the hassock-like piece of furniture you can hang your foot on. In any case, to me it is an evil warlord–very painful to have my hamstrings stretched by the weight of my leg for ten minutes at a time. As you can see, Chewy does his part–that is adding to the weight by sitting on my stomach and leaning on the leg. It’s our new daily activity.