Archive for the ‘dog’ Tag

Close the Book. Put The Phone Away. Try Life, You’ll Like It   6 comments

I was in a window seat on  the 11:35 AM express into the city, absorbed in my book , as a beautiful morning rushed past  unseen. Halfway down the page, I was distracted by a scolding thought. Head in a book is as bad as eyes on the smartphone. It’s all the same. You’re missing the life in front of your face .

I realized this rogue thought was right. I wasn’t any more present on this train than those people I rail against who are so absorbed in their phones. After all hadn’t two different people at the gym told  me  just last week that they always see me on the cardio machines but were loath to say hi because “your head is always in a book” They both said exactly the same thing!  I now realized that my explanation about being in a book club and the gym being one of the few places I could get in a solid chunk of reading did nothing to set me apart from the phone zombies. Paper world, electronic world, neither holds a candle to the real world. I closed my book.

The Hudson Line of Metro North runs alongside the river from which it takes its name. I was seated on the land side so I set to admiring the trees in various states of losing their leaves, realizing it was a unique view , one that would never be seen again. I could take this same train the next day, and that some of the leaves could be gone, or more gold than green. It was beauty that would never repeat itself.

From time to time, I looked up at the houses set in the sloping hills.  Homes I coveted for their view of the river, and imagines how the people inside were spending that particular moment we shared.

It was  time for  the  Hudson. I couldn’t let that slip away. I looked  across the aisle  just in time to see the Tappan Zee Bridge zip past. A new bridge is in the works so  this old bridge was a sight to be savored.

I marveled at a tiny lighthouse that zipped past. In all my trips to the city, I’d never noticed it, probably because my head was in a book.

Sailboats drifted dream-like down the river. Never again would we all be here together again.

And as I took it all in, a movement in my peripheral vision broke the spell. I didn’t give it much notice . Being a  Saturday morning train, riders  are often napping.  I  assumed it was someone rising from a slumped position. And indeed it was someone. It just wasn’t the someone I’d expected.


He just sat there, perfect posture, gazing  out at the Hudson. He knew what life was all about.

I got out my camera and asked permission to take a photo, and when I inquired if he was always so good, the young man replied that yes she was, but that she was especially  happy this morning, because  she loved hiking and was tired out  now.


And as if on cue.


“You’ve already been hiking?” I asked , amazement in my tone. He smiled and nodded.

Wow I thought, Now that’s getting the most out of life!  And when they quietly exited the train at 125th street, one stop ahead of Grand Central Terminal where I was headed, I realized that had I been reading my book,  I’d never have observed this slice of life!

Speaking of slices of life I came near to missing.  Yesterday I noticed for the first time that I had some really faithful flowers that were still giving it their all. In my  long rush  to get out the door and to my car each morning  I’d been neglecting to give them the attention their summer-blooming neighbors received. And so, to those  who are toughing it out to the first frost, I salute you:


Now, all of you, go out and be mindful!

Posted September 30, 2013 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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There’s Still Time to Place Your Bets   1 comment

The match of the year is about to take place. Once again, I will attempt to bring Marcel to the veterinarian for his rabies shot. So far he’s the unbeaten champion, having eluded me year after year. Usually I’m so traumatized I  just give up and another year goes by, but I’m determined this time. I’ve been training for a month:


Usually he runs at first sight of the carrier. So I snuck it in one afternoon in June while he was sleeping . The method to my madness? Maybe he’d get used to it and start hanging out in it.  He did actually go in it – once. I think that’s in my favor, don’t you?

The other thing in my favor, although I hesitate to phrase it that way, is that Marcos is no longer around. Marcos foiled an attempt that seemed to be going my way last time.  I’d thought it out and fashioned a perfect plan of action. I made the appointment for 11:30 on a Saturday morning, knowing  that Marcel usually took a late morning nap on one of the dining room chairs. I’d have a cup of coffee out on the patio, reading  the  newspaper like I always do on weekend mornings; everything nice and normal so not to get in the way of his routine, or raise any suspicions. Then I’d mosey on in at about 11, and innocently sit on the chair next to him; just me, humming nonchalantly and reading my paper. And when I’d worked up enough nerve, I’d scoop him up in an instant and plop him into the carrier.

What I didn’t count on was Marcos. Just one second before I was about to make my move, he decided to wake up from his own nap.


In he came and situated himself between me and Marcel. If my target had been Marceau it would have been fine. It would be a welcome distraction since Marceau loved nothing better than headbutting the dog.


But Marcel?  Marcel’s goal in life was to keep as much distance as possible between himself and the dog,


But he always did it with cat class and cat style, so after a hiss, and a graceful leap, he was in the living room.  I lunged  for him…….and missed, which didn’t make things any better.

Up he went:


Aha  – no place to go. I had him………

………..Until I didn’t. On the way down the stairs, he twisted out of my hold like a greased slinky.  The race was on again!

And once more,  he chose higher ground.


And that was when the fat lady sang. No way was I going to kill myself over a rabies shot – whether I was breaking the law or not.

The appointment was in ten minutes. I didn’t want to have to break it and possibly incur a no show fee.  And that was when curiosity killed the cat, so to speak.  Marceau moseyed on in to see what the ruckus was about.

And the next thing he was on the vet’s examining table being diagnosed with a condition – obesity.


For that I paid good money?

Tomorrow morning will find me with a new scheme. They both grow ecstatic while being brushed. Ah-ha, need I say more?

The appointment is tomorrow morning at 9 AM, so there’s still time for you to place your bet.  Me? or Marcel? Odds are……..

No, on second thought, you know what the odds are

Posted July 22, 2013 by virginiafair in Cats

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What Are They Thinking?   1 comment

I ended the last post with a question. Are some animals suicidal? If you recall I had found a dead mouse in this bucket.


Now I ask you.  Could this be an accident? Oh yeah, little mousie  just happened to be walking around the basement  and decided to climb a foot and a half  up a bucket? Come on!

Not convinced? Okay, how about this? Have you ever been driving about in the country, and there on the side of the road is a dead skunk or opossum. It always makes me sad but it also makes  me wonder. These are the types of roads where one car passes by every two minutes, and that’s on a busy day. You mean it’s just a coincidence that as that one car is coming,  the animal  just happened to be crossing.  I know both skunks and opossums are among the slowest of mammal. So does Mother Nature.  That’s why she  gave them special powers of protection:



Skunks, their odor and


opossums,  their acting talent  – playing dead.

And then there’s those mice who come into The House of Mars during the winter. I realize their choices are limited –


stay out in the cold



Hunker down in the dreary basement or come up, using whatever secret passage known to mice,


and face these two, or


Marcos, who was still with us most of last winter, a faithful volunteer on Mouse Patrol who usually trotted off with the capture.

I don’t know about you, but I’d hightail it back down into the basement!

And before I leave the subject of death, let me make a confession, there was a death on the Mars property. DSCN0569

I’m guilty of  herbicide


You see it’s an ongoing battle when it comes to poison ivy vs yours truly.

Sometimes I win.


And sometimes PI wins. And when she does you don’t want to see me. Trust me. It’s not a pretty sight.

Posted June 16, 2013 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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A Scream Rings Out From The House of Mars   7 comments

The following is a true story, and appropriately, it occurred a few days before Halloween. I’d intended to post it on Halloween but Hurricane Sandy left me without electricity. I’m grateful that’s the only problem I suffered, and  feel terrible for those who lost  t heir homes, or those in homes with no heat on a night as cold as this – 28 degrees, here at The House of Mars.

My power was restored after five days  –  so now I can recount the story of the scream.


The night promised nothing out of the ordinary. I came home from my usual evening workout at the gym to find the cat brothers hanging out on Marcos “just in case” puppy pads.

Same old same old, so I walked around them on my way to the bedroom.

It was when I came back, that I noticed the face-off stance which could mean but one thing – mou-house!

Sure enough Marcel crouched on the left and Marceau on the right and between them, a very still, but alive, mouse.

Reasonable facsimile of the mouse

My first move was prompted by self-preservation. I went back and shut the bedroom door. I’ve been wakened more than once by Marcel jumping onto my bed to share a squeaking mouse. On my way back to the scene of the impasse it came to me. There was only one honorable thing to do: come to the rescue of the mouse.

I grabbed a towel out of the bathroom, and before you could spell c-a-t  the mouse disappeared

I scooped up the towel, opened the door and flung the towel out into the dark before the brothers even knew what happened  I came back side quite pleased with myself

and then I saw it

 I’d missed the mouse.

I was rushing back outside to get the towel when I saw the tall slim figure facing me in the door way. And “he” wasn’t going away. He was coming towards me. It was all happening so fast that I couldn’t stop. I let out a scream as I crashed into him.

And then I realized. I’d crashed into myself

It was my reflection in the storm door.

You see, with Fall coming on, I taken out the screen panel the previous day, and replaced it with the heavy full glass  panel. I’d forgotten all about it.

But some good came out of it. That recurring dream I have,  the one that I’m being chased and can only utter a breathy whispered  eee, eee – well, that’s all it is, just a dream. My scream was a full-bodied Aah.

As for the mouse? I got him on the second try.


And the brothers?

They decided it was getting cold there on the tile floor

And where was Marcos. my “guard dog” ?

I told you it was just an ordinary night.

A Message in a Bottle for the First Owner of the 16 year old dog   6 comments

Writing to you is like setting a bottle afloat in the ocean since I have no idea who you are, where you are, or even if you are still alive. But if I could, I’d like to ask a few questions on this, the fifth anniversary of bringing Marcos into my life.

Was he really sixteen when you had to let him go? Or was it a misunderstanding between the Animal Control Staff and your neighbor who brought him to New York Animal Care and Control I can’t believe that the Wild Dog of Borneo who bounded out of the foster vet’s office, pulling the very buff vet tech behind him was a sixteen year old dog. That would make him 21 now. No way, Jose. That reminds me,

Are you Latino, Latina? I ask because early on when he used to walk me all over the neighborhood, we passed a group of men one evening and one called out in Spanish to another, and Marcos whipped his head around as if to say, “They’re talking my language.”

I say when he used to walk me because suddenly last April, he woke up one morning and decided I’m old. No more walking. He’s a sneaky critter, that Marcos, making like he’s sniffing the most interesting patch of pavement but what he’s really doing is turning around degree by degree, and before I know it, I’m heading one way and he’s going the other.

And when that doesn’t work, there’s this act he puts on. People we pass in the park say “Poor old guy, he can hardly walk.” But poor old guy knows the half way point on our circular route, and once we’re heading back in the direction of the car, he’s prancing more sprightly than any dog this side of the Westminster Kennel Show judging ring.

This, from the tireless dog who regularly walked me an hour and a half each morning and an hour each evening. In those days, I was known as that lady you see walking her dog all over the place.


And he’s put on a few pounds which brings me to my third question. I hope you don’t find me rude for asking but What happened? Were you too old to take care of him, too sick, too down on your luck. The Good Samaritan neighbor who relinquished him just said you were no longer able to care for him. At 46 lbs when I brought him home, one of my neighbors thought I’d adopted a grey hound.



It’s been a steady climb but

Marcos now tips the scale at 61 lbs

But them I’m also known at the veterinarian’s as the woman who overfeeds every pet she gets.


Marcos best friend and roommate, Marceau bears witness to this.


They weren’t always best friends. Back on day 1 when I introduced Marcos to his crate, formerly known as my spare bedroom,

and closed the gate behind me. I barely made it into the living room when he took the gate in one bounding leap and was in the dining room. He would have had Marceau in  his mouth had I not got there in time.

Back to the bedroom for Marcos

with the gate now resting on two phone books,


And up to the loft for Marceau who voluntarily exiled himself, for most of the next year whenever Marcos was free and about.


But one day, they just clicked and have been best buddies ever since with Marceau shadowing his every move.




And lastly, How did you train him so well. I never could have done it. I did try to train my first cat, O.B. Brat, many moons ago. Our training sessions went something like this.

“Brat, off the table.”

“Come on, please, I’m trying to eat.”

“Get your nose out of my plate.”

“Oh, never mind, I’ll eat in the living room.”

So you can imagine how impressed I was with Marcos’ manners- responding to SIT in an instant, sinking to DOWN with but a point of my hand. He doesn’t respond as well anymore. I thought it was because I stopped practicing commands with him but friends have pointed out that he may be going deaf since he never runs to greet them when they arrive anymore.

But I am most impressed by, to put it politely, his house hygiene. One of my reasons for not sharing my life with a dog had been the fact that I work all day, and didn’t think any dog could hold his business from 8:00 until after 6. So, I was prepared for accidents at first – but not one puddle  in nearly five  years. And there were a few times when, due to unavoidable circumstances, I was gone for eleven hours, and still  came home to bone dry floors.

I said for nearly five years because (and I’ll whisper this because he wouldn’t want you to know)

lately, I’ve had to put down papers.


But he knew what they for; God bless you, you paper-trained him too! Not that he uses it often, but I’d rather be safe than washing the floor. There is one problem though

 – the roommates


They think it’s their very own slip and slide.

And so, upon closing, I leave you with a couple of photos of Marcos as he is today.


Not every dog has a bed


As well as a bed on a bed.








Posted October 16, 2012 by virginiafair in Cats, dogs, Uncategorized

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