Thursday, September 27, 2018

While the Cat's Away, The Mice Will Play

There is no problem that cannot be solved by the use of high explosives.
Bumper sticker

Secret Agent Maizey
 Until she got too sick to care Maizey took her job of protecting us from rodents, snakes and lizards quite seriously.  Every day she patrolled the perimeter like a sentry on guard duty. Her nose searched every corner,  behind every box, under every chair or bush. Only critters with a death wish dared to venture into her territory. 

Things changed shortly before Maizey went to the big dog park in the sky. At first it was a quick glance of something scurrying under the hurricane shutters. The kind of thing that made you scratch your head and wonder if you really saw what you saw. Could it have been the neighbor’s cat? The upstairs ghost? A rat?

John began to notice the tell-tale signs of nightly visitors. An unopened package of peas that didn’t get planted had been chewed through.  Peas were strewn about like beer bottles in a fraternity house. A bag of premium dog food that neither dog would eat, proved to be manna from heaven for whatever creatures were roaming about the dark garage. As if a trail of half nibbled kibble wasn’t bad enough, these interlopers left droppings of various sizes taunting us. 

It got progressively worse after Maizey died. John and his sidekick, Buddy, finally declared war.
In the middle of a heat wave, John removed everything in the garage, even stuff that had been there since 1962. In all the years I’ve lived in this house, I’ve never seen the garage empty. Nor had I seen so many holes where varmints could crawl in and out. Upon inspection the biggest hole was also the least noticeable — under the electrical box where the wires enter the garage. I’m not casting any stones, because unless you looked, you really couldn’t seen it, but let’s just say the electrician who recently replaced the box, didn’t do us any favors. And that thick gray insulation that covers those new wires? It's apparently the mouse equivalent to a gourmet French cheese. I’m not sure if I should be grateful the creature (a cute little mouse like Stuart Little or something on a bigger, Ben-sized scale?) didn’t chew through the wires causing an electrical blackout and another call to the electrician, or sorry he didn’t fry his weasely little ass.

A week into the battle, John sent me to Home Depot for mouse traps. Now I’m all for mouse extermination, but I don’t relish the idea of being the one who finds said mouse stuck in a trap screaming for help, whiskers quivering, and beady little eyes crying for mercy.  I opted for something called Mouse X. For the effective control of mice. The package stated that Mouse X is safe around livestock but not children.  I figured Buddy is somewhere in between. Besides, John is smart enough not to put the stuff anywhere near where Buddy might find it, as in close to a ball. I admit I had second thoughts.  Look how cute that mouse on the package is. And who wants a mouse to eat this organic treat, then head for the attic to die causing a distinct smell of death to float through the air conditioner vents? In my effort to buy the most humane mouse killer, I did not realize this magic potion cost twenty-five dollars until I got home.

"Mom," John scolded. "Take it back. All I need is an old fashioned trap and some cheese." It is probably indicative of the job ahead, that Walmart sells traps in packages of three. 

One side of my brain says "Run, little mousey. Run." The other hears my mother saying, "this is going to hurt me more than it does you" before taking aim at my butt with a Southern momma's swatter of choice, her flip flop.

Every night before they go to bed, John and Buddy set the traps.

“Mousey,” John declares, pointing to the rafters. Buddy stands at attention, eyes and nose following John’s signal. John swears Buddy knows what’s being said. I suspect Buddy is looking for a ball, not a mouse. I love Buddy to pieces, but the only thing he really cares about is retrieving a ball. John is sure, given the chance, Buddy could catch a mouse. He is fast. I doubt, however, he’s that fast. And what if he did catch something? What then?

Every morning, the daring duo check the traps. Some have been ignored completely. Most have no cheese and no mouse. Buddy grabs his ball and heads outside. John’s becomes more determined than ever not to be bested by something whose brain is the size of my pinky. 

Yesterday, I opened the door to the garage and saw, with some trepidation, an upside down trap. I texted John this picture. Like a Navy Seal ready for action, he came running. Before he turned the trap over, I knew it would be empty. Mousey, aka Houdini, had escaped both the trap and an 8 foot fall.  John painted the air blue with the F-word as he checked every trap. Mousey 5. John 0. 

"That MFer is messing with me," grumbled John this morning. 
No traps were tripped but the intrepid mouse left poop on the stairs right in front of John’s door.  I don’t know how much longer before John calls The Critter Gitters. I do know that even if he loses a battle or two, he’ll win the war. 
Maizey on guard against lizards.
According to, "Dogs can be just as fierce as cats towards mice. They’re territorial, loyal and can be trained so that they’re always on patrol. They will work to keep mice under control just as  a matter of duty, and they can be on guard 24 hours a day." I’m not saying Buddy can’t do it, but I firmly believe if Maizey were here, she would have chased the whole mouse tribe over to my neighbor’s house by now. 

I don’t particularly want to be the Air BnB that rents space to the neighborhood rats. I also have a problem with destroying a family of varmints who just want a warm place to sleep and maybe some dried peas or insulation to chew on. The truth of the matter is, I want the mice gone, but, more than that, I want Maizey back. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Lessons from Maizey

"It’s impossible to forget a dog that gave you so much to remember."
Live Like Roo

In the two weeks since we said goodbye to Maizey, no matter what I do something’s not right. Something’s missing. Time after time, silent tears trickle down my cheeks when I realize there is a Maizey-size hole in the room my heart. 

The physical essence of Maizey is rapidly dissipating. I spent an afternoon at the laundromat washing the various blankets and cushions where Maizey spent most of her final days. Sadly, I also washed away Maizey’s distinct wet dog smell. Her beds are empty, her stash of Nylabones and rawhide chews no longer line the fireplace stoop. Mostly there’s no barking. I never thought I’d miss those barks. The house is just too darn quiet. 

I visit Maizey’s grave every day. It might look like I’m checking the rain gauge. I’m actually talking to my girl. My head knows it’s just the shell of a white dog in that space. That the crazy part of Maizey, the part that I miss so much, runs free in a place where angels throw balls, and Milk Bones are served round the clock at the Divine Smorgasbord. My heart, however, feels less broken, when I’m near what was once Maizey’s “happy place.” 

Ella reading to Maizey and GPa*
Before Maizey, I liked dogs. Dogs have always been a part of my family. I was not, however, what you might call a "crazy dog lady." I didn’t get the whole “doggie day care, dog park, dog play date, dog Halloween parade, or dog birthday party" mentality of modern pet owners. When Maizey came to live with us, I  had to re-think my belief that a dog is just a dog. It didn’t take long to realize Maizey possessed a degree of joie de vivre not often found in other dogs.  She had an un-definable nature that had no name or description other than "Maizey." In time it felt perfectly normal to bake her birthday cakes, take her for car rides, read her bedtime stories, save her favorite blanket from the rag pile. I learned to accept her eccentricities as “quirks” to be tolerated, rather than bad habits to be broken. 

It’s been said that dogs come into our lives to teach us something. Maizey tried to teach me patience. When an 80 pound bulldog demands your attention you quickly learn that barking back doesn’t do much good. It’s easier to stop what you’re doing and try to make sense of her request. Jack learned if he waited long enough Maizey would give up his chair or his side of the bed, leaving the spot feeling the right amount of cozy. Less volatile now, more willing to show his softer side, John learned what unconditional love and loyalty feel like. 

Positioned at one end of the couch with Buddy at the other, Maizey offered on-the-job training for guarding the house by staring out the front window for any sign of possible danger, like Peg, the neighborhood watch captain and her German Shepherd, Sasha, making their daily rounds.  I imagine Maizey's instructions going something like, "Even if you don't see anything, bark your fool head off every now and then, so the humans will know that, while you may look like you're asleep, you're still on duty. Plus it will scare the bejeezus out of Grammy which is always fun."  It's true. Buddy's deep, bass WOOF makes me jump every time. Buddy has also learned to take his new job of walking John and I every night seriously.  Refusing to take no for an answer, as soon as the Jeopardy theme song plays, he is ready to go whether we are or not. He appears to have put aside his own grief to follow Maizey's mandate that every day should be a good day.

Photo by Chelsea Whiteman
Without doubt Maizey’s short life was defined by what philosophers have been promoting for years - to be present, accept life as it comes and suck the joy out of every moment. What looked like a cardboard box to us, looked like a rib bone to Maizey. Walks were more treasure hunts than strolls.  She sought out every possible jewel along the way - a turtle in the road, a dead squirrel she could pee on 5 days in a row, an owl (or strand of Spanish moss that looked like an owl) perched on a low hanging branch, people she could greet or scare (both equally delightful). To Ichituckni Ellington, a patch of freshly mown grass far surpassed a stinky animal carcass for rolling in. Just the sight of it sent her into high gear, pulling John behind her at break neck speed.  As she rocked from side to side, all four legs turned skyward, we had a glimpse of what heaven might be to a dog with sensitive skin. That crazy bull dog also relished the feel of salt water and sand in her paws. She paid little attention to the medicinal effects of the ocean. For her, the sound of waves crashing on the shoreline, while sea birds squawked overhead, was her personal call of the wild.

Even as cancer diminished her strength, Maizey made the best of every day. She set the example for all of us who loved her. Buddy greets the morning with a ball in his mouth and desire to play. Maizey’s humans do our best to follow her example. Jon Katz wrote in his blog, Bedlam Farm Journal, **“Dogs force us to be good, they challenge us to be patient and empathetic and to listen. A great dog demands that we be better people.”

Thank you Maizey, for the happiness you brought, the lessons you taught and the love you gave so freely. You were a great dog and we are better people for having known you. But I miss you like crazy and would give anything to hear you bark one more time.

Pain defines love, gives it meaning. 
Without pain, love is nothing. 
Grieving hurts, but it cleanses and purifies us and brushes up against our souls. 
It whispers to us that we received the great gift of unconditional love, 
and that does not ever die.***
Jon Katz 

Meme designed by Terri St. Cloud

* A Dog Needs a Bone by Audrey Wood could easily have been written about Maizey.
***Going Home, Finding Peace When Pets Die, Jon Katz, Random House, NY, pg 62

Thursday, September 6, 2018

RIP Sweet, Crazy Maizey

I don’t know what I’ll do when you leave me. 
The truth is, I don’t remember what life was like before you—and I don’t want to. 
Because before you, it was youless, and I don’t want to live in a youless world.
you’re a good girl.
A real good girl.
Sean Dietrich*

One year, three months and 4 days after she was diagnosed with cancer, we knew it was time to say goodbye to our beloved Maizey. Part Bulldog/part Labrador, part gentle soul/part insane squirrel chaser, part teacher/part obedience school drop out, Maizey was unlike any other dog I’ve every known. 

Writer and animal lover Jon Katz believes animals come into our lives when we need them. “Dogs” writes Katz, “enter our lives and imprint themselves in ways that people, and our complex relationships with them cannot."**

From the moment he jumped into the swimming pool to hold her head above water at their first meeting, as if it was her sole purpose in life, Maizey became a trusting, loyal companion to her special human, John. She loved him with her whole heart. To a lesser extent, Maizey made a lasting impression on her previous owners, our neighbors, the vets that treated her, the squirrels she chased, her canine companion(s), and rest of the humans with whom she shared a home.

Young and strong, and otherwise healthy, Maizey fought off cancer for longer than anyone expected.  Although the disease eventually took its toll, Maizey was a warrior up to her last breath. In her final days, she still mustered enough strength to hop outside on three legs to the pool where she’d take her place on the second step. Because the buoyancy relieved pressure on her lame leg, Maizey basked in the cold water the way Labradors are meant to do. In her happy place, with sirloin steak sizzling on the nearby grill,  Maizey enjoyed all her favorite things - a well-chewed but still squeaky ball, the smell of jasmine, the hunt for froggies, a duel with the garden hose, a light summer rain. Mostly she enjoyed barking. She barked "hello, where have you been?" and she barked, "when is that steak going to be cooked?" She barked encouragement to Buddy. She barked to protect John from the pool brush.  Oh how that dog loved to bark.
Passing of the baton

We all knew yesterday would be her last day. We tried but failed not to be sad, except in her presence. With practiced precision, Dr. Katie injected Maizey's hind leg, while John held her head and whispered goodbye. Lying on the couch with her, Buddy, chewed on the bone he'd taken from her  in their ritualistic game of who's boss,*** until Maizey’s final breath. Then, with an incomprehensible knowing, he rested his head on his mentor's back. It might be anthropomorphizing to say he bid his friend farewell. But, in that moment, he knew what we all knew, our home and our hearts would never be the same.

John buried Maizey in her favorite spot. The one she picked herself on a hot Florida afternoon. She lies in the cool dirt under the shade of a Ligustrum where red birds nest and she once watched squirrels skitter across the fence. I sat with her last night before I went to bed. My head in my hands, I cried the way only one who has loved and lost can cry. 

Grief is the price we pay for love. 
Queen Elizabeth II

I’ve been to funerals in big cathedrals where soloists sang Ave Maria. I’ve heard bagpipes wheeze out Amazing Grace in a military cortege. I’ve been to Southern funerals where the congregation rocked out How Great Thou Art. Mother Nature knew the perfect music to accompany my grief. Like the outdoor concert Maizey listened to during her nightly swims, a choir of tree frogs sang a mournful lament. 

I couldn’t help but smile, when over froggie clamor, I’m pretty sure I heard Maizey barking from somewhere above the clouds. 

*Sean of the South, 2/20/18, My Dog
**Going Home Finding Peace When Pets Die, Jon Katz, Random House, NY, pg. xiv
*** Who's Boss was a game Maizey won up until a month ago. Yesterday, when Buddy took the bone, Maizey went over to him on wobbly legs and licked him. The passing of a symbolic baton, I think.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Language of Love

"Sometimes God shouts, sometimes he whispers, 
and sometimes he sends a woof."* 
Edward Grinnan

Still smiling. This is a good thing.

I honestly never thought I’d still be writing this blog. No one expected Maizey to live this long. Dr. Katie calls her a miracle dog.  Jon Katz (bedlam says he thinks of “animals more as spirits that come and go. They enter our lives at a particular time and they leave at a particular time.” As in all things only God knows when that time will be. 

It is clear that Maizey is losing ground physically. She is lame in her right leg. The tumor, which I thought would be soft and squishy, is rock hard. It’s has progressed from tennis ball size to grapefruit. It appears to be growing down her leg instead of up into her shoulder. 
We were told at the very beginning of this journey that if we opted to amputate her leg, she would maneuver well on the three she had left. She has proven this to be true. She can get anywhere she wants, even my bed which is three feet of the ground and supposedly off limits. No one has seen her do it, just that she is so perfectly comfortable in the big bed all by herself it's hard to scold her.  Like me, she enjoys a good nap.

Our house now resembles a dog spa, sans the wire cages. Every room has its own orthopedic bed, overstuffed pillows and dog blankets. Actually they are people blankets that have been appropriated for dog use. Prickly Nylar bones line the rug in the den and the living room coffee table. Pieces of cardboard boxes litter the floor. Try stepping on half-chewed milk bones embedded in the carpet. They could be used in war-zones instead of land mines.  We use 4-6 food bowls on a daily basis. Inside, and outside water bowls are constantly being refilled.

Our pool is not bone-shaped like at Pet Paradise. The dogs, however, use it more than the humans. Once or twice a day Maizey hobbles out to the steps, swims one quick circle before returning to the middle step where she proceeds to bark her fool head off. John thinks he can tell her “I’m hungry” bark from her “throw me a ball” bark. They all sound alike to me. Loud, with a pitch that sets my ears to ringing. While Maizey rests in the cool water, Buddy works up a sweat, running, jumping, fetching, and swimming. Sometimes I wonder if Maizey isn’t barking her encouragement to her more active brother. 

Various colored Kong balls, some squeak, some don’t, lie in the grass like Easter Eggs. Each dog has his/her favorite. They know which one it is. I don’t. Buddy waits in Crouching Tiger pose until his ball is thrown across the yard. Maizey barks, “nope, wrong one, try again” as I toss balls in her direction one at a time.

Where'd everybody go?
John has the grill set up poolside, near where Maizey sits under the umbrella. Every afternoon he’ll stoke up the coals and cook a few pieces of chicken. Like Pavlov’s dogs, the whole neighborhood begins to salivate when the smell of BBQ’d chicken wafts through the air. While Maizey still eats every day, she’s no longer on a schedule. She eats when she feels like it. I think she feels like it when her pain meds have worn off and she begins to hurt more. Cheese or chicken wrapped pills take the edge off. 

Sharing some quiet time.
Ashley and Ella paid us a visit this summer. Buddy thinks Ella is a dog that runs on two legs. When she is here, it’s not-stop play time. Ashley, on the other hand, is Maizey’s girl. Like a mother hen, Maizey follows Ashley upstairs (not liking that she’d have to be carried back down because who can hop downstairs on 3 legs without turning a speeding bullet), sits in the window when Ashley leaves then waits with her chin resting on the back of the couch, until her return, and sleeps under her chair when Ashley eats dinner. Like all of us, Maizey grieves a little bit every time the girls pull out of the driveway and head for home. Someone told me dogs don’t have a sense of the past or the future. They live in the moment. Perhaps once Ashley’s scent has dissipated Maizey no longer thinks of her sweet blonde friend. I swear, however, that she doesn’t forget the love. 

It's never easy to say goodbye.

I have become Maizey’s surrogate Grammy. She likes to be where I am. If I’m sewing she naps on the floor in the sewing room. If I’m cooking, she lies in the corner behind the table. I’m in the bathroom she waits outside the door. Even if she’s sound asleep on the couch when I go to bed, Maizey hops down the dark hallway and plops down next to my bed. Some nights I lie down next to her and shush her back to sleep. When afternoon thunderstorms begin to rumble, I settle myself next to her pillows whispering her fear away. John says he doesn’t let Maizey see how upset he feels as her health declines. I have a hard time keeping a stiff upper lip.

Oh Maizey I say. As I rub the velvet spot between her eyebrows or try to reiki away her shoulder pain, tears fill my eyes. 

If John’s love languages with Maizey are quality time and physical touch ("How about a moo-sage, Girl?) and Buddy’s is acts of service ("Here let me chew that bone for you" or "I’ll just get this bed nice and cozy for you.”) mine must be acts of service. (“You’ve got to eat,” I say holding a big ball of freshly grated cheddar cheese under her nose like it’s a roast beef bone.) Maizey’s love language is unabashedly and unequivocally “woofs of affirmation.”
Nothing says I love you like an ear-shattering woof. 

"The whole glorious history of animals with people is about joy and connection.
 It's about loving this creature and letting this creature love you."
Jon Katz

*Always By My Side, Life Lessons from Millie and all the Dogs I’ve Loved
by Edward Grinnan
Howard Books,,An imprint of Simon and Schuster, Inc. Ny Ny2017, pg 63

Monday, June 4, 2018

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light.

"As your pet ages and you sense the end may be near, 
focus your mind on the best parts of the life you shared. 
On Loyalty. Comfort. Laughter." 
Jon Katz*

Let me set the stage for you. I’m heading to the car to run some errands, but I need to check my brake lights before leaving. Maizey stands in the driveway looking at something no one else can see. The neighbor’s cat sits in the street licking her private parts. My neighbor, Doris, walks toward our house carrying a bagful of fresh peaches. Jimmy, the mailman, heads in our direction. Down the street three young boys and their Dad play baseball on their front lawn. “Don’t worry, she won’t run,” says John to whoever is in hearing range, at which point, Maizey, the cancer dog, comes out of her reverie, notices the cat but not Doris (who is all of 5 feet and about 100 pounds) and takes off like a cocaine fueled Greyhound at the Orange Park race track. The cat, for all her non-chalant what-dog primping shot into another neighbor’s bushes, with Maizey, who missed Doris by a whisker’s width, right behind her. Doris, planted herself mid stride, as if struck motionless in a game of freeze tag. I yelled and joined the chase. The kids dropped their bats to watch.  

John. Yelled. At. Me! 

"She’s ok, mom."

Okay? how the hell can she be okay?

But, sure enough, once the cat was gone, Maizey hobbled home. That’s about the time Jimmy pulls up in his mail cart, puts one foot on the curb and the Amazing Maizey once again bounds out of everyone’s grasp. While I tried to catch my breath Jimmy gave Maizey a good scratch. She seemed to forget this was the same man who turns her into Cujo when he drops letters through the mail slot. Maizey's tail wagged non-stop. She may have been tired but she was happy.

With the dog finally wrangled, the cat back to a state of languid repose, the mail delivered, and warm Georgia peaches in hand, I attempted to continue on my journey. I assumed Maizey had also laid down for a nap, so I left the car door open while I took the peaches into the house and grabbed a bottle of water. 

Yup! My bad! 

By the time I returned guess who expected to go for a ride? The crazy lame dog leaped into the van’s front seat like a show horse scaling a water hazard. The missing element of this whole misadventure was a very unhappy Labrador who loves a good chase even more than Maizey. Trapped in the backyard all Buddy could do was listen to the ruckus.

A lot of people think that dogs know when they are about to die - a sixth sense left over from their pack days. Because they don’t want to slow the pack down, or cause undue distress to their humans, say believers of this theory, they often wander off to die alone.  According to dogs may exhibit unusual characteristics as they near death. “Many things, such as hiding or secluding himself or even running away, may be instinctual and self-protective. Many animals have a natural instinct to hide when they are sick, injured or weak as a way to stay safe from predators. Animals who are in pain may feel vulnerable; running off is an inherent way to hide their condition.”

Wendy Smith Wilson, DMV, on the other hand writes,“dogs and cats rarely ‘die peacefully in their sleep,’ and they do not wander off in order to spare our feelings. They don't know that they're going to die--they just know that they feel really bad and that they're vulnerable, so they follow the instinct that tells them to hide.”

I’ve got a foot in both camps. But then I grew up watching Timmy and Lassie. There wasn’t much Lassie didn’t know about life in general or what constituted Timmy’s emotional well-being. In the case of the unthinkable, like cancer, I think Lassie would have licked Timmy goodbye and wandered down the dusty road without looking back or responding to Timmy’s woeful whistle. However, if Lassie were alive today, with all the advances of modern veterinary medicine,  I trust the story would have a different ending. 

All that to say, since Maizey has been hanging out in the garage, she’s developed a kind of wistful air about her. On occasion she’ll walk into the middle of the driveway and stare down the road. John thinks she might be daydreaming about walks to the pond and yearning for one more chance to chase a fox or bark at owls. He’s also speculated that she’s thinking about taking off without any fanfare. No tearful goodbyes, just going alone on her last self-walk. 

The question remains. When peg leg Maizey stands in the driveway peering into the canine unknown, is she contemplating the end of her life?

I don't believe that for one minute. In my book she has debunked the "wander off" theory. If she leaves by her own accord it’ll be at top speed or riding shotgun. Maizey will die the way she lived, on her terms. She will not go gentle into the good night. 

*Going Home Finding Peace When Pets Die, Random House, NY, pg.11

Thursday, May 24, 2018

It's a Good Day to be Alive

"It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake.” 
Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseuda, circa 1380

Garage Slumber Party

It has been a year since John received that awful phone call from Dr. Rogowski; when, having mastered the art of keeping her emotions in check, she stated matter of factly, "Maizey has cancer." John listened intently but I’m sure all he heard was the “C” word, or maybe "aggressive" and "amputation" or maybe all three together. I didn’t see his heart break, but I saw my tough-as-a-Navy-SEAL son’s red-rimmed eyes and knew something the news was not good.

So imagine our delight every morning when he says to Maizey, “Its a good day to be alive” and she rallies from a restless slumber to meet that day head on. The tumor on her shoulder  has grown to the size of a baseball. She is lame in her right leg. She is noticeably in pain. She’s learned how to hop on three legs and tell us as accurately as any Timex watch that it’s time for another Tramadol. 
Yet, like that Timex she keeps on ticking. The same dog seemingly in a sound sleep can still rouse herself in seconds if she hears me whisper “walk.” She can still beat Buddy out the door when she hears John’s truck pull in the driveway.  She can still eat, pee and poop on a regular basis. She can still body slam Buddy out of the way of her desired chew bone. And she can still sit on the pool steps and catch a ball tossed in her direction like a frog nabbing a passing fly.
While we are grateful for all the extra time the Divine Dog Whisperer has graced us with, it’s hard not to want more. It’s become obvious that Maizey’s good days are numbered. We are on alert for any sign that it’s time to call Dr. Katie. To make up for no longer being able to ride in the truck, go to the beach or do the "big" walk around the neighborhood, we’re doing everything we can to enrich her final days. We almost never leave Maizey alone. At the slightest jingle of car keys her anxiety kicks in so we’ve been known to sneak out the front door.  Quesadilla Ellington’s meds are given wrapped in cheese. We’ve moved from processed American, to sharp cheddar to deli sliced mozzarella. If she lives long enough she’ll probably balk at Italian cheese and prefer creamy French chevre, a BĂ»cheron, perhaps or Chabichou, anything to mask the bitterness of the hidden pharmaceuticals. Every day, as the charcoal heats up, John rakes and molds Maizey’s favorite hole to perfection. Just when he thinks the throne is manicured to perfection, Queen Maizey digs it all up and plops her self down ("plops" being the operative word). Surrounded by a hoard of wet and chewed tennis balls, a pail of ice water and the smell of barbecued chicken legs wafting past her nose, Maizey dozes through her dog day afternoons.
There's a "boom boom coming.
In fact, sleeping is what our once active Doodle Dog does best. To accommodate her, our house resembles a canine hostel, without the cages. There is a blanket-covered orthopedic bed or pillow in every room, plus all the human furniture she can still mount. Each bed is cooled by its own fan. It is not uncommon to find a human sleeping beside her. Maizey recently started napping in the garage so there it also contains a down comforter pallet where she can a) sleep b) hear what Buddy and John are doing in the backyard or c) watch the rain. It’s sad that the dog who used to run as far and as fast as she could, usually into an unsuspecting neighbor's house, when the garage door was raised is now content to let Buddy do the running. However, I do not doubt for one minute if a dog walker passed by that she’d be up and gone in a flash.  
There were 3 in the bed until Maizey
decided it was to crowded and went to her hole
John tells me "She’s always listening." So am I. I hear her peg-leg footfalls in the middle of the night moving from one bed to another. I hear her panting next to me when she needs a midnight potty run.  I smile when I hear her snoring. I've even gotten to the place where I am grateful when she barks, because as long as she’s making noise it’s a good day to be alive.