Monday, September 8, 2014

Silly Dilly

Her formal name is Dilberta Chase, but we call her "Dilly." We bought her the day after Labor Day from an Amish farmer. Although the Amish are notorious for running puppy mills, this is no puppy-mill pooch. The farmer had just two mixed-breed farm dogs, a male and female. He said he did not know who Dilly's father was, only that his dog could not be her daddy. She didn't look like him or any of the other puppies. 

"How old is she?" I asked.

"Gee, I dunno. So much goes on around here. I think maybe 4 months," he said.

This farm is where we buy eggs when we're at our cabin in Knox County, OH. When Phil had gone to get eggs on Saturday, he was smitten by a small, brown puppy. He told me about him when he got home, mentioning that he had a larger, white littermate. I said, "I don't really like white dogs."

"Why not?" asked Phil's sister.

"I don't know. I just don't. I don't like white horses or white cats either."

"That's weird," said Phil's sister.

Tuesday morning when we were getting ready to return to MD, Phil said, "I keep thinking about that little brown dog."  We both agreed that now was not the time to get a dog. We have an ailing cat and Phil is looking at knee replacement surgery before Christmas.

"We can stop at the farm on the way home to see if he's still there, " I said.

Up the gravel drive we went. Six horses stood outside the red barn, watching. A pair of Holsteins paid us no mind. The little brown dog ran out to greet us.

"We're kind of thinking we'd like to keep the brown dog," the Amish man said.

"Where's the white dog?" asked Phil.

"Sophie's usually here with Stan," he replied. "I don't know where she is now"

We called. He called. No Sophie. After a few minutes, we decided to leave, when suddenly she appeared. She was cute. Her head was black and she had a black spot above her tail. "I guess it's OK if she's mostly white, " I said. 

The Amish man told us she'd had a "Seven-way shot."

"Oh, did the vet come by?"

"No, I gave it to her myself."

"How much do you want for her?" asked Phil.

"Oh, you can have her."

"How about $20.00?"


So "Sophie" was ours. The two of us sat in the backseat, as Phil headed east on Route 62 toward Millersburg. Before long, "Sophie" began going "ack-ack-ack." She vomited up her entire Amish farm- dog breakfast plus something else all over my capris. A bird?  A mouse?  A  vole? This was why she'd briefly gone missing. She'd been scouting for "field greens," but in her case, it wasn't delicate vegetation she wanted. Instead, she'd searched the fields for this delicacy, which was green because it was dead. She vomited again and again. And again. I screamed.  Phil pulled abruptly off the road.  He snapped on a leash and whisked the puppy out of the car. We happened to have  stopped by a bubbling spring. Before we could stop her, she waded right into the water that pooled beneath the spring. 

Using half a roll of paper towels, I mopped vomit off  the quilt, the cooler and the silvery folded-up sunshade. Then I fished a pair of grubby capris out of the "dirty-clothes" bag. I changed into them between two open car doors while milk trucks whizzed by.

As soon as we were on the road again, Sophie settled down for a long nap. We agreed that we couldn't call her Sophie. Close relatives had had a beloved dog named Sophie and she had died.  Our puppy needed a name before her first visit to the vet, which would happen the next day if at all  possible.

Heidi?  No.  
                          Daisy?  No.
                                                  How about Dilly?
                                                  Yes, she looks like a "Dilly."
                                                   Dilly it is.

                                                   She's going to be a wonderful pet.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great BetrayalA Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, was this book GOOD! Humans are so hard to figure out, and Kim Philby--"the greatest spy in history"--was no exception. He was loved and idolized by friends and colleagues in Britain's counterintelligence unit during a career that spanned 30 years. From the time he began working at M16, he led a double life as a spy for the Soviet Union. Philby was a man who seemed perfectly comfortable with the wealth and position he inherited. Yet while at Cambridge University, he became a communist. He was never, it seems, a true believer. So why did he risk losing friends, family, country for a cause he scarcely believed in?  The author confesses that he does not know, but he suggests, among other reasons, that Philby was addicted to the game of espionage. One of the more entertaining chapters in this page-turner is Chapter Four, "Boo, Boo, Baby, I'm a Spy," in which Macintyre describes what it was like to be a spy in wild and wacky Istanbul during WW II. Whatever you do, don't miss Chapter Four.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

What Shamu Taught Me about Life Love and Marriage

What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their TrainersWhat Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers by Amy Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am interested in the subject of "animal training," especially when the primates I have in mind happen to be members of my own family. I hope that what I've learned about positive reinforcement and ignoring behavior I don't like will do the trick. I know that, in the past, I have inadvertently reinforced unwelcome behavior by nagging, advising, commenting or overreacting. We'll see if I can change my behavior and if my changed behavior results in more fun and fewer arguments. The author has a pithy style, laced with humor. I enjoyed the book very much.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Babe at the Beach

Our family goes to the beach every July for a week. A lot can change in a year. Last July, our younger daughter, Becky, arrived at the beach a little discouraged about a potential adoption. Something just didn't seem right. A young woman in Indiana had contacted her and her husband on the adoption agency website and told them that she was expecting a baby girl in August. A social worker in the agency's Indiana office attempted several times to meet the birth mother at Taco Bell, but the young woman would never show up. There was always some excuse. "I was there. I must have been the restroom when you came in and that's why we missed each other," she explained. After several more no shows like that, the social worker concluded that there was probably no baby.

Becky and Tom were beginning to think that adoption might not happen for them. They had applied to adopt when their natural son, Nate, was about three, and he was about to start kindergarten. They were in their mid-forties. Many birth parents seemed to be looking for younger couples. 

In January, a young couple found them. The woman already had two children by a previous marriage. She and the baby's father felt they could not afford a third child. The paternal grandparents, however,  were adamantly opposed to the adoption. Despite the red flag, Becky and Tom went shopping for their newborn, which was due in early April.  On the morning that they were on their way to the hospital to pick up the baby, the agency called to tell them that the birth parents had decided to keep their baby girl.  Heartbroken, they returned the diapers and bottles to the store and laid aside their dream. "If it happens, it happens, but it probably won't, " they said.  They decided to let their contract with the agency lapse when it came up for renewal in August. 

Toward the end of May, the adoption agency unexpectedly called Becky and Tom with exciting news. A newborn girl was available for adoption. Were they still interested?  They had 24 hours to decide. 

They talked it over. They were almost getting used to the idea of a family of three, plus Roscoe, the beagle. They knew their lives would change forever. They said yes. 

The baby was 3 weeks premature and weighed less than 5 pounds. She had to spend nearly three  weeks in the hospital before being allowed to come home. One parent or the other visited her nearly every day, to feed and cuddle and rock.  Her grandparents and aunt also went to see her.  And then, one day in mid-June, she finally came home. 

Last week, she went on her first beach vacation to Lewes, DE, with her extended family. She mostly slept, gazed around and slurped up milk, little dreaming how much joy she was bringing to the rest of us.

At the beach: Mariel being held by her brother, Nate, 
with cousin, Andrew