The one in which we lose some and gain some

Sweet Chloe and The Dog Bob
Sweet Chloe and her best bud Bob, who won every fight they ever fought.

Early this year, we lost our beloved Porch Cat after a slow decline that left her deaf, blind and somewhat demented. A fat rescued tortoiseshell named Fraidy joined our family at Jay’s insistence weeks later. Shortly thereafter, Ashlie’s dog Chloe was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. Her deterioration happened faster than we anticipated and she died in March.

We did not grieve her as intensely as we did Fat Lola, perhaps because we have lost so much more in the interim. Still, sweet, mild-mannered Chloe is missed – perhaps by no one more than the Italian Greyhound Bob, to whom she was a surrogate litter mate and gigantic best friend.

We buried Chloe near the arbor and the crab grass had already begun to cover her grave by the time we welcomed a new beastie to fill the void she left behind.

Jay has long had his heart set on adopting a retired racing greyhound like the one he grew up with. My only requirement was that we find a female. By early April we were in contact with the Amazing Greys org out of Tracy. We were anticipating the arrival of a particularly lovely female greyhound out of Arizona when Susan from Amazing Greys called and suggested that we meet, as she put it, “a big silly boy with zero ego”.

My first thought upon seeing this 85 lb. greyhound bounding into the room was god, what a beast but moments later, when he flung himself down on a pile of pillows and rolled over with all four legs in the air, I thought dude, what a dork – which immediately won him a place in my heart and ultimately, our home.

Grinning Ollie
The Reverend Oliver Twinkletoes aka Olly Bolly aka Oliver Oily Pants aka Mr. Butts

It seems odd that Ollie has been with us less than six months – he is so much a part of our family. Bob has grown particularly fond of him, insisting on joining him in the Big Dog side of the dog park, trying to keep pace with him on walks and cheering him on from a safe vantage point by barking up a storm while Ollie courses through the yard, throwing clouds of dust behind him. And yes, it’s kind of amazing to watch him run, but mostly he’s a lazy, lovey lay-about – with Chloe’s tag-along habit and Fat Lola’s love of riding in cars with boys.

Three dogs is still too many, and as Iggy becomes more and more of a cranky old man, I steel myself against the inevitable loss while simultaneously looking forward to a manageable animal population in the Vilmur household. Meanwhile, Jay is probably sneaking peeks at that Saluki he’s always wanted.

On Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie


sallyWhen I was a kid, I got bit by two dogs. The first was a stranger’s beagle and the second, our own persnickety Irish Setter. After that, I became particularly shy with dogs and remained so for many years. A couple of boxers I met in the mid 90s started rehabing my relationship with the canine family and now, well I’ve got more dogs than I know what to do with. These days, I go out of my way to show children how not to startle dogs, how to hold out their hands for a sniff before petting, how to read wary body language and stay safe. So it is particularly embarrassing, this utterly stupid thing I did on Thursday night that landed me in the E/R and earned me eight stitches in my lip. 

For the record, if you know that a dog is particularly protective over chewy treats because other dogs tend to sneak up and take them while said dog is sleeping, it would be best to NOT tuck a fresh treat in beside him after he’s already asleep and then lean in to kiss the top of his cute little head.

I don’t know which one of us was more horrified in that moment, just after.

I left the hospital with a stitched-up lip and an antibiotic that gave me full-on flu symptoms for four days. Fortunately, THAT bit is over, so it’s just me and my laced-up lip left to deal with. We didn’t cancel our Monterey trip on Friday and I’m so glad because it was good in spite of everything. The Mr. keeps trying to drag me out of the house and has been intermittently successful, but for the most part, I’m kinda keeping to myself until I don’t feel like Sally any more. As for the penitent pup, he’s curled up beside me just now and under house arrest at the behest of local law enforcement until Sunday night at which time he may get a walk but will NOT be kissed upon the head at bedtime.

Let sleeping dogs lie.


There’s a reason that’s a thing.


The Beastly Bastard


ThePigThis is Pig. Actually, his full name is Ignatius Banjous Trimagnaton which is of course ridiculous and therefore rarely invoked. Mostly he’s introduced as Iggy B. but when we’re irritated with him which happens all too often, he is simply Pig.

He’s a surprisingly elegant Italian Greyhound, favoring his graceful mother rather than his squatty, surly father. Over the last nine years, he’s gone from spoiled first puppy to cranky old man. He’s the reason that visitors cringe when ringing our doorbell. He’s well known as the one who steals pizza (and the occasional falsie) and pees on anything within two-feet from the floor.  What I mean to say is that he’s an ass, but he’s our ass and every once in a while he’s awfully freakin’ sweet.

Faithfully Yours



She follows me day and night; quietly, sidling, rarely making a point to make her presence known. She is always on watch, underfoot, at my side or hovering nearby. Despite her size, she is often so unobtrusive that I inadvertently kick her, stumble over her and occasionally drop things onto her head.

She is the dog I wished for as a child. A “real” dog with a big scruffy neck and soulful eyes. If I cough, she alerts. If I cry, she sounds the alarm. When I cuddle another animal or child, she tries to nuzzle in between us. A big sweet lug of a dog, so faithful it might break your heart.

Kathy says, “No dog will ever love you better than Chloe.”

She is probably right.

And yet, I have never fully embraced her, never honestly taken the proper pleasure in her attention and seeming adoration. Ashlie and Jay chose her, a Pound Puppy rescue who joined our family two days after our beagle bitch Fat Lola died. I've always thought that it was simply too soon for me to fall in love with another dog. When Bob came along a few months later, I was ready, but with Chloe, I was emotionally withholding.

There is a Hugh Prather quote that I can't quite remember the precise wording of, but it is something about being skeptical of people who are overly impressed by us. Maybe this is the case with Chloe and I. Perhaps if she did not wait so patiently for each little sign of kindness I would not dismiss her so easily. But day after day, my silent stalker trundles along beside me, flops to the floor at my feet with great sighs, waits patiently for a nuzzle, a scrap of food or a crisis that needs attending to. She is completely unaware that I do not deserve this devotion, and for that, finally, I adore her in return.