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It used to be that my favorite part of my daily walks involved leaving my mark on all the important places in the neighborhood–that bush at the edge of our lawn, a big rock at the entrance to a house around the corner, newly wet weeds and grass. Hey, you other dogs, Foxy’s here! Not so much anymore. Nowadays I am happy to be able to let it all go when the urge strikes, which is usually as soon as I get outside.

Several times a day, Ellie picks me up, carries me down the steps, puts me on the grass in the back yard and says, “Go pee.” If I was sleeping when she picked me up, it takes me a while to get with it, but I know what she wants and it usually sounds like a good idea. So I yawn a couple of times and then here you go, let me make your day. Other times she puts the leash on me and carries me down the front steps so we can take our walk. We take a short cut across the front lawn to the sidewalk.

I usually pee as soon as I get to our lawn.  Now it’s mostly dirt along that path. Not long ago, I saw Ellie  scattering something over the bare ground, covering it with some dirt from a bag, then sprinkling it with the watering can.

I like to walk on the soft grass in front of most houses we pass, so sometimes I wait to pee at one of those, often without even sniffing to see if someone else has marked a juicy spot.  One day we were rounding a corner and I was on the grass  doing my thing when a man came out the front door and said something unkind to Ellie. I didn’t get the words, but she answered him in a downcast way. I’m not sure what that was about, but since then, she usually pulls me off the grass of that yard.

Not so today. We were doing our usual walk and I was enjoying the release of letting it all go on that lawn–ahh, I love my walks–when I heard the sound of the house’s garage door starting. Ellie jumped and pulled me, mid-pee, onto the sidewalk, leaving me quite unsatisfied and dribbling all over myself and the sidewalk. She scooted me down the walkway to the corner. I saw her turn to look back at that house and then she hurried me around the corner. Humans are such a mystery!

Foxy’s Wild Ride


The ride to the beach wasn’t that bad. I fell asleep and then suddenly we were there at a house on top of a hill. The wind was big and cold. Ellie brought me into a strange house, lights and music everywhere. We walked around and checked out the rooms. Even with my fur coat, it was cold in there. I saw some steps going down a dark passage, but we didn’t go that way. I heard Ellie mumble about “wood” and “go to the store.” She packed me back in the car and we drove a short distance to a parking lot.

Ellie left me in the car but returned after a little while with groceries and a big bundle  that smelled like trees. We drove up the hill to the house and she brought me inside. Then she went back out and closed the door. I heard her grumble and push on the door from the outside, but who could figure humans, so I wandered around and found a rug to curl up on to try and keep warm.

Ellie was gone for a while, but there’s nothing unusual about that. I smelled someone else in the house and a strange man came up the steps from the cavern below. He stomped around while I hid in the room with the bed. Then the front door opened and I heard Ellie.

“Thanks for coming to let me in,” she said.

“The slider was wide open,” the guy said loudly to Ellie. It sounded like a scold–no treat for you, lady.

She answered, “Hey, I didn’t open it! Did you see the dog?”

“I didn’t see any dog,” he said. I saw Ellie run in, panic all over her face until she saw me. “Are you OK, boy?” she asked. All I could think was, I’m fine but could you warm this place up and give me my dinner?

Ellie made a fire in the stove in the main room and it got a little warmer. We had dinner and then she took me for a walk outside. The cold wind was blowing like crazy and I kept falling down the hill. I couldn’t see the ground in front of my nose. She kept picking me up and carrying me like a baby back up the hill. Yuck. I was glad to return to the house and find my bed.

The next day she moaned and groaned while she packed up the car and we were off to another house not too far away. This house was nice and warm inside and there was a glass door in the bedroom so I could watch the grass and the wind and the ocean from my bed. I even got to see some big four legged creatures with stand-up ears like mine. We stayed at this house for a few days, only going out for my walks, which were pretty easy in the daytime, because the ground was flat. At night it was still really dark and hard to see where I was going, but it was less windy than up on the hill.

Ellie spent all her time, when she wasn’t cooking, sitting at the table in the big room and clicking the keys of her writing machines. She seemed to enjoy herself. I had a lot of nice naps in between my meals, walks, and wandering around the house.

When it was time to go, Ellie put everything in the car and took me for one last walk. Then I was in the car too, in the back seat as usual, but I felt trapped. I couldn’t just sit there, so I jumped to the front seat next to Ellie. I missed the seat and landed on the floor, where she had put some coats and a box of tissues. I climbed back up on the seat, but then needed to get out of there, so I jumped to the back. I did this a few more times, then thought I might try the part of the car where Ellie was sitting. She was talking to me in a calm voice this whole time, making her “shhhhh” noises. The world was rushing by outside the windows. So I jumped onto her lap. The car slowed  and suddenly stopped with a jerky motion. Ellie made grumpy noises, then picked me up and moved me back to the other front seat. I was panting happily, drooling all over.

The car started up again and I jumped to the back seat. I tried jumping onto her lap again, but she held up her arm when I was in the front seat, so I couldn’t get there. She stopped the car again and scolded me. “No, Foxy. That’s dangerous! No more car trips for you, buddy.”

By this time, I was pretty tired, so I curled up in the back and went to sleep. Soon we were back in Napa and I watched the unpacking. It was a relief to crawl into my bed in its familiar place. So much for vacation. I’m happier at home. I think Ellie is too.



I used to run up and down the stairs from the house to the yard every day without stopping to look at them, without feeling any pain. That’s not easy anymore. I still run up, but sometimes it takes me a while to gather my energy to leap. And going down the stairs? No, thanks. Especially at night, I can hardly see them. So Ellie picks me up before our walk and at bedtime and places me on the grass or the sidewalk. I struggle to escape when she picks me up. I’m a guy! I’m tough! Well maybe not so much anymore. But I still want to do it myself.

Ellie gives me treats in the backyard every day. It has something to do with a metal pathway with a scratchy surface. She puts it down on the grass and holds out a treat for me. Sure, I want the treat. (It’s a piece of some little hot dogs that come out of a tiny jar…why are they called hot dogs?) So I jump up to get the treat and land on the grass or on the metal thing or halfway on each. Usually the treat lands in the grass, since I can’t find it in her hand. Then I sniff for it in the dry grass while she waits. After a few tries, she gets at one end of the pathway with me at the other and beckons for me to come get the treat. Sometimes I run all the way down the metal to her and grab my treat. When that happens, she’s jumping up and down.

Before we’re done, Ellie moves the metal thing so one end is on the deck and the other is on the grass. She climbs up to the deck and asks me to come up the ramp for my treat. I have to think about it. Sometimes I’m feeling the breeze or a fly going by or I hear a noise behind me. Sometimes I walk up the ramp and she gets all excited. Then she tries to get me to walk down the ramp, but so far, that doesn’t appeal to me, no matter how many treats she has in her hand. You must think I’m nuts. I don’t want to be picked up, I don’t want to go down the ramp or the stairs, and I don’t want to pee on the floor. That’s just the way it is. TIme for a nap.



You humans think you are so brilliant with your smart phones and computer games that you play while you’re watching TV. I can multi-task even better, without needing any store-bought devices to help me along.

Have you noticed how I analyze the grass with my sniffer while at the same time, to say it nicely, my other end is relieving itself of a burden? Multi-tasking! Or when we’re out for a walk how I can have my eyes glued on a dog approaching from way down the street while my feet are deftly stepping over rocks and branches all over the walkway?

See, I can listen, smell and look all at the same time, in case some wild animal is stalking me, or some smelly little squirrel is close enough for me to chase. Or someone has dropped a sausage in the path. Sausage, yum!  It may seem that I’m not listening to you when you try to call me away from my food bowl or a fight with my favorite toy. I can hear you–I’m just not interested. I may be a multi-tasker, but I still decide where to put my attention! Now where did I hide that biscuit?


wet Foxy

Another visit to the doggie doctor. It was a long day, although I slept during most of it. Ellie dropped me off without breakfast (grrr)  and didn’t feed me much when we got home. Actually I didn’t feel like eating. My teeth kind of hurt; my whole mouth felt sore, like I’d been chewing on some huge bone for days and days. My claws were mysteriously shorter and there now seems to always be a breeze around my butt.

Sometimes it’s dark by the time Ellie takes me for my afternoon walk. I don’t mind this, but she stumbles along with her flashlight, holding her coat tight around her body. She’s been sneezing and coughing and going to bed right after my dinner, so maybe she’s not feeling so great either.

Today the ladies came who sweep the floor and push that noisy machine around. I spent some time on the deck and then wanted to see what Ellie was doing. I found her lying on the bed with that computer thing. She slapped the bed, like she thinks I can still jump up there. Are you kidding me?  Then she  got up and came at me with her hands out, like she wanted to pick me up. I wouldn’t mind a quick snuggle, but if I can’t get up there on my own, forget about it! Why don’t you come down here? I scooted under the bed, a better place to hide from the broom.

Once when Ellie wasn’t around those ladies let me out the door when they were leaving. I ran out to the street to see what was happening and the ladies started chasing me. I didn’t know what they wanted, so I headed down the block. They were screaming at me to come back. Hey, I’m on an adventure!  Then a neighbor lady with her dog came along and talked to them. They held her dog and she came slowly up to me talking very quietly.

“Is everything OK, Foxy? Poor boy, don’t be scared.”

It didn’t take long for her to get her hand on my collar and soon I was back in the house. Those ladies were smiling and wiping their faces like they’d been cleaning the house all day long.


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I headed down the hall to see what that pile of stuff was at the end. The tall bookcase looked like it had decided to sit down. I saw Ellie’s light go on, so turned around. She looked at me with relief like I had been long missing and she had just found me. I heard her fumbling around in her closet, then she came towards me with pants on over her nightgown and the leash in her hand. That didn’t seem like a good idea to me. After all there was stuff all over the floor and she isn’t as good as I am at sidestepping rocks and holes and other hazards. She cornered me and put the leash on. Then she picked me up–hey, I’m not a baby, lady–and carried me to the dining table. She got down on the floor with an oomph and pulled me under the table. It was like she wanted to cuddle in this strange place, surrounded by broken glass, some of which she pushed out of the way with her foot as we tried to get comfortable.

She kept shushing me and then after a while said, “We need to go outside, Foxy.” Sounded like a good idea to me. So out the front door we went. The big pot that sits on our porch was on its side. It was dark, but people walked around like it was the middle of the afternoon. There were lights in all the houses. Ellie went next door to the old man’s house and rang the bell. He came to the door, they talked, and then she shouted back and forth to some other people on the street. After a short pee break, we went back into the house.

Ellie took me to the bedroom and closed the door behind us. “This is the safest room,” she said. She picked some pictures up off the floor, went around with a broom sweeping stuff and then after giving me a squeeze, she left the room. Locked in. Too bad. I shut my eyes, but heard her muttering to herself and lots of banging and crashing for a long time.

When it started getting light, Ellie came in and collapsed on the bed. But not for long. Soon we were both walking around the house. She had cleaned up my food bowl and gave me some fresh food and water. The floor was kind of sticky and there were bags of smelly stuff everywhere–scents of vinegar and something sweet. The furniture had all moved, but as the day went by, she pushed it all back where it belonged. She spent a lot of time in the garage, where I got a quick peek and saw bags and boxes all around the car. It smelled like paint. She smelled hot and sweaty like when we used to go for long runs.

It was nice to spend the whole day with Ellie at home. That’s a treat, as she usually leaves me and goes out somewhere in the car. I didn’t get a morning walk, but in the evening she took a shower and then took me out. She was moving kind of slow and bent over a little, but I had a nice walk. Not much new pee to smell in the park that day–maybe everyone else had a clean up day too.

Pill Boy

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So Ellie was gone again when I started throwing up. My tummy didn’t feel so good. I wasn’t hungry, even for treats. Mark put some fragrant rice in my bowl, but even that didn’t appeal to me.

Then at night Ellie came through the door and I knew everything was going to be OK. In the morning, she put me in the car and took me to the doggie doctor. After he poked and prodded and stuck me with something sharp, we went home. She had a handful of little bottles…something yummy for me, perhaps?

At dinner time Ellie had a row of little pills on the counter. I saw her stuffing them into those little chewy balls she gives me as treats. Usually, I chomp them right down, but not that night! I just wasn’t hungry. It was late and I didn’t know why she was putting the leash on me until–oh, no–she pulled me over to her and forced a couple of those pills into my mouth. Gulp. I didn’t like that at all. She let me go then, but I could tell she was upset. So was I!

I had a good long sleep after the visit to the doggie doctor. In the morning Ellie got the leash out and I ran out my door into the yard. No more pills for me, thank you very much. “No, Foxy!” she yelled. “I just want to take you for a walk!” After a long time, I finally let her apply the leash and take me out the door.

Usually after our walk, Ellie takes the leash off me while we’re on the front lawn and I run to the door. That’s the best part of the walk. Today she left it on, even after we were in the house and she dropped it. I dragged it around while she fixed my breakfast. I ate a couple of bites but still wasn’t hungry. Then it was pill time again. She held the leash and tried to put them into my my mouth. I shook my head and the pills went flying. Ellie was not happy. I heard her mumble something about “liverwurst” and she was out the door. The car started and the garage door opened and closed. She wasn’t gone long. I looked to see what she was doing in the kitchen when she returned and she gave me a cheerful greeting.           “Hey, Foxy. I have something special for you! Yum, yum.”

Really? She held out a little ball. I sniffed. Smelled pretty good. I took it in my mouth and swallowed. Not bad. Another one followed. Ellie was really happy then.  I slept a lot that day and avoided the leash when it was walk time. I was afraid more pills were coming my way.

“OK, Foxy. You don’t want to walk? No walk, then.” She sighed and gave me my dinner. I sniffed and decided to wait to see what would happen next. I was feeling a little dizzy and not hungry at all. She held out a ball of that liver-smelling stuff. Didn’t smell good to me anymore. I turned away.

“What?” she said. “What am I going to do now?” Then she started banging pots and pans and opening and closing the refrigerator. She put a little bowl in the box that dings when things get hot. Smelled interesting. She was making a grinding noise on the counter. She stuck her finger in the little bowl.

“Perfect,” she said. She set the bowl down next to my food bowl. Smelled like turkey, nice and warm and liquid. I took a slurp. Delicious. I finished the whole thing.


A Door of My Own

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At our old house one night Ellie opened the door to the garage and it came off, almost knocking her down. She leaned the door against the wall and went to the phone. Her hand and voice were shaking as she talked.  Our friend Roy came right over and fixed the door. That’s the kind of guy he is.

What I like the most about Roy is his dog, Blue. Blue is tall and dark, has short hair, floppy ears, and his eyes don’t match. One is light and one is dark–it gives him a wild and crazy look–and he is pretty wild and crazy. While Roy spends an afternoon in our yard sawing away at some wood or hammering nails, Blue runs in circles in the yard, whines, and wants to play with me. Usually Ellie keeps me in the house and Blue stays outside, so we just look at each other through the glass door.

Roy built the deck I like to get under and he has put in some windows and the glass doors on the back of our house. One day he came by on a motorcycle, without Blue, and he came in for a visit.

“I’ve been looking online,” Ellie said. “We’ve just had too many accidents now that he’s on diuretics.”

“Yeah,” he answered. “Be sure to get something sturdy. No plastic. Are you sure he’ll be able to learn to use it?” He chuckled when he said that. Roy was always chuckling at something. They were standing by the back door  and then Roy  got down on his knees, held up some metal tape under the window and scribbled notes on a pad of paper. There was smiling and hugging and then he was off.

The next time I saw Roy he had his saw and a big hammer (no Blue). I took cover under the bed when he started pounding. When it got quiet again I came out and found a hole under the window. Ellie brought in a big box from the garage and she and Roy worked together to remove what was inside. Roy worked at it all day, but when he left, the hole had been covered by some thick, stinky rubber.

None of this was really of interest to me–Where’s Blue? But then Ellie called me and she was crouched by that new thing in the wall. She had some little tiny treats, so I went over to her. She picked up some treats and pushed the rubbery flap open with her fingers, dropping the treats inside. It snapped closed with a metallic click.

“Come on, Foxy, come and get the treats. Yum, yum!” She coaxed me.   I was definitely hungry for something that smelled like peanut butter. I sniffed around the edge, but there was no way I was going to push the flap with my nose. Her finger pushed it open a crack and I could smell the treats. She held it open and I snagged one and backed off. We played this game over and over. Soon enough I was pushing the rubber open just enough to lap up the treats with my tongue. I had no idea what this was about, but I was enjoying myself.

Then Ellie took a handful of treats and went outside, shutting the glass door in my eager face. She crouched on the other side of the rubber flap and held up a treat.

Huh? Well, I’d get the treat if you’d let me out there! Very confused, I went to the other room to scratch myself. Later on, Ellie called me back to the hole in the wall. She got down on her hands and knees and put her head into the opening!

“See Foxy, your head goes in here, then you can walk through.” I just looked at her in bewilderment. Groaning from the effort, she got up, grabbed the treats and went outside, once again leaving me alone. Then she pulled the flap from the outside and put some treats on the tiny floor on the inside of the wall. I lapped them up, as usual.  Now she was holding the flap way up on her side and there was a treat in her other hand, right in front of my nose, but on the outside. I moved towards it. She backed up.

“Come on Foxy, you can do it!” I could see sweat on her face. She kept repeating, “Come on, come on!”

I lunged for the treat and found myself out on the deck. My back tickled where the heavy door had slid over it. Ellie beamed.

“Good boy! You did it! Good job!”

I was looking for more treats. She took me back in the house and repeated what we had just done–going out on the deck, putting treats on the floor, and holding one up on the outside. We practiced this for a few days and then Ellie put me outside and held up a treat on the inside. No problem! I went right in after it.

The next morning I did a good stretch and was ready for my morning outing, but Ellie was still putting on her shoes. I looked at that door. There were no treats, but it led to the backyard, so I went out and relieved myself on the grass. When I came back in through my door, Ellie was standing there filled with a joyful energy.

“You did it, Foxy! No more puddles on the floor. Good boy.”

It didn’t seem like a big deal to me at the time.

The next time Roy and Blue came to visit, Blue looked at me from the deck and I looked back from the house. He sniffed around my door and nosed the flap. He can’t get in!  The opening was just too small for his big body. I wagged my tail and went out to greet him.

Now that I’ve had my door for a while, I’ve discovered many uses beyond a quick trot to the grass. I go out to growl when I see a big cat on the fence. Or when Ellie is banging pots and pans. Or when the vaccuum cleaner is buzzing all over the house. Or sometimes, just to see what I can see.