When Life Sends You a Fur Ball

Meet Sushi Woodman.

Meet Sushi Woodman.

Miles run Saturday: 8.5

Loads of laundry completed today: 4

Walks I have been on in addition to running in the past two days: 4

“I think she’s gifted. We may need to have her evaluated.”

There I sat in the exam room with her on my lap, legs curled up cozily on my work skirt. My husband looked on adoringly, not sure whether he should play along.

“I mean, she already knows so much. She’s special,” I said, petting her head.

The vet tech nodded and smiled and tilted her head to the side, trying to assess how to approach us. “She does seem very special.” Nod. Then we get the kind of look one gives a wild animal when you want to help them but are unsure if they will bite you if you reach out your hand. “Let’s just get her up here on the table.”

“We love her. We think she’s amazing,” my husband said. He stroked her head and talked super-silly baby talk while she lapped at his cheek.

There was a long pause.

“We do have children. I mean, real children,” I said. “Two.”

The vet tech raised her eyebrows. “Are they… jealous?”


I had a vague plan to get a dog. One day. The day when the house seemed too quiet, the kids had moved out, the hours stretched in front of me as I read the paper and planned my next trip to Tahiti.

But for the past year, our son had been campaigning. Pleading. Cajoling. Telling us in agonizing detail about every dog he met.

I really didn’t need another thing to take care of. I have trained two children on how to use the potty. And they have done it without my help for many years now. I’m not going to lie: it’s blissful.

This summer I realized that it wasn’t fair to get the dog only after the kids left. So I started researching dogs. I showed my husband all manner of dog: big, small, furry, hyper and barky, strong and silent. He was unmovable. Nope. No can do. No dog.

But then I brought up a German shepherd. He loves them. Then I mentioned a German shepherd/lab mix. “Perfect!” he said. It was a theoretical “perfect.” He just didn’t expect that a rescue puppy would turn up THE VERY NEXT DAY.

The kids and I sat on my bed and oohed at her and her siblings on the doggie rescue website. My husband walked in, and I turned the laptop screen towards him. “That’s our puppy.”

He didn’t believe it.

A local police officer had rescued three puppies from behind a church. They had their first shots, they were free; he just wanted to find them good homes.

Four days later, we picked up our puppy.

Guess who is her biggest fan?


We are all proud to welcome Sushi to our family. She may be a doggie-school dropout (more on that later), but we love her anyway.

If you think you can handle the cuteness, drop by my work Facebook site and vote for Sushi dressed up for Halloween as SuperGirl. Vote for her animal pals demoralized by their owners. And “Like” our Facebook page just for fun.

Drop on by and check out the Boo Crew. Vote for your favorite. Then share your best dog/cat/rabbit story with me. http://on.fb.me/1clw6PO

I hope you and yours have a happy, safe, fun Halloween!


Dog Days of Summer

My dad took this at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Miles run today: 8

Meals my mom has cooked for us this week: 3

Meals my mom has cooked for the dogs this week: 3

We never had a dog when I was growing up.

My dad was not fond of pets, so we snuck in cats and rabbits and hoped he wouldn’t notice too much.

Then, when my sister was post-college, she got a dog. And my dad decided that maybe dogs weren’t so bad. My parents also apparently missed the stress and agony of taking care of grumpy dependents after my sister and I moved away.

So my parents got three dogs.

Not all at the same time, of course, but the pack grew. Each dog brought his or her own neuroses to the pack, and my parents nurtured them and addressed them with anti-anxiety medications when necessary.

Today, my parents also cook chicken for the doggies, feed them in three courses (humans in our family get by with one), get up from the dinner table to let their dog babies go outside when and if the whim strikes them, apply eye drops eight times daily, worry over their seasonal allergies and even wander around with them in the middle of the night as if they are newborns.

I call my parents’ pack (now down to two dogs) The Grand-dogs.

My kiddos and I are visiting my folks this week, and the kids are treated very much like The Grand-dogs.

While my parents expand my kids’ brains by taking them to every museum within a 60-mile radius, The Grand-dogs are having the artistic sides of their brains expanded by listening to classical music streaming through the TV. Dickens prefers Debussy and Spanish guitar pieces. Vida is hard of hearing and gravitates to something with cymbals and grand percussion.

Although my sister and I were allowed roughly one soft drink every six months while growing up, my kids will come home after an outing with my dad carrying a 62-ounce Dr. Pepper each. The Grand-dogs are allegedly on a strict diet, but they cluster around the dinner table as we eat. Why? Because they are partial to homemade bread, and pieces of it “drop onto the floor” on a regular basis near my dad’s chair.

Last year, while we were at the beach, my son had gone on an early-morning beach walk with my dad and The Grand-dogs. My dad had allowed The Grand-dogs to “be free,” resulting in one of them rushing the (empty) street at the end of the walk. They were fine, but my son was horrified. I told him that at least The Grand-dogs didn’t suffer from being pent-up. We wouldn’t want to add claustrophobia and its cure to the psychotropic list.

Three years ago at the beach, my dad took the kids to a pirate-themed mini-golf course. The rest of us lolled about the beach house in naive certainty that the group was playing an orderly game of mini-golf.

I get a call from my dad about an hour later.

“We’re going to play another round,” he says.

“Okay. How’s it going?”

“Oh, we’re fine, but your son plunged into the pirate pond a little while ago.” Chuckle, chuckle.

“Hahaha, Dad. Well, you kids just keep having fun out there.” Click.

An hour later, my kids and Dad walk in. My son is soaked from head to toe.

“What happened to you?!?!” I shriek.

“I told you he fell in the pirate pond,” my dad says, with a ‘duh’ tone to his voice.

“Yeah, but I didn’t think you were serious!”

“Well, I told him to stop standing on the rocks, and he didn’t. So….”

I call this grandparenting at its finest.

All I can say is that if you’re gearing up for reincarnation, you could do worse than to put in a request that you come back as one of the future Grand-dogs.