Archive for the ‘dogs’ Tag

Marco Blows His Cover   2 comments

I have long suspected that Marble is the reincarnation of Marcos. Allow me to sway you to my belief.

Mistaken Impressions

I adopted them both as a result of an obsession based on a falsehood. Believing the plea of my favorite 104.6 DJ Maria Milito that a 16-year old dog had been surrendered to Animal Control in Manhattan, I wasted no time in running to his rescue. What I brought home was a robust, rambunctious 7-year old. Somehow the neighbor who brought Marcos to the shelter, since his owner could no longer care for him, had said he was 16. Perhaps it was a language problem. The shelter is in Spanish Harlem and I used to call Marcos my Puerto Rican dog when I once witnessed his ears perk up and his head swivel around when we passed landscapers calling to each other in Spanish.

As for Marble, it was my view of him in a cage in the Petsmart adoption room. All I had to do was see the back of his head.

DSCN2067For some reason, he didn’t turn around and I didn’t disturb him. Maybe I had blinders on, but I do not recall taking note of his back, so I was laboring under the impression that he was an exotic cat with one lone stripe tracing the length of his back, like a skunk in reverse. He wasn’t.

Slim Jims

Marcos entered the House of Mars with his ribs not only palpable but poignantly visual. This was most likely proof of what the Good Samaritan’s explanation that “his owner could no longer care for him”.


When the “rescue lady” delivered Marble, I commented “oh, how thin.”  Her interpretation? “He’s slim.

DSCN0850Compare the posture and tell me that’s not the same old soul!

I managed to fatten him up when he was Marcos…….

097….but have had no luck with him as Marble due to a chronic case of inflammatory bowel disease. Although truth be told, Marcos may have had it too. I often Joke that he came back as Marble, just so he could throw up on spots he missed when he was Marcos.


If you don’t believe me ask Marceau the Moocher. He’s already ready to share.


But if you need irrefutable proof, here it is.

DSCN1935Not convinced?


OK, be like that!

A Familiar Sight   2 comments

Alas I  have no pictures this week. That’s because the topic at hand may, or may not be all in my head.  If you recall a few weeks ago I lamented about not having my camera with me when I saw an honest-to-goodness, gen-yoo-ine Pink Cadillac like Bruce Springsteen sang about. If you missed that post take a look.

Well, this is getting spooky. Last Friday I was setting out on my daily lunchtime walk around the office park where I work, and while I was still in the lobby  what should glide past the glass double doors but –  the elusive Pink Cadillac. I ran out but it had disappeared around the corner.

Yeah yeah, I can hear you. “Virginia, it’s all in your head.” Spare me, I grew up hearing that. Let’s not go there

On second thought – let’s do go there – to my high school years. I used to leave for high school early. Living in New York City, specifically Manhattan, meant you were on your own getting to school. Sure you got a reduced fare bus pass but there were  no school buses except for the disabled. What this meant for me since I lived on West 150 street and my high school was on East 75 street, was that I had to take two buses, a downtown one and then a crosstown one. And since the home room bell rang at 8:25, I had to catch the 7:30 downtown bus.

So there Iwas at 7:20, walking sleepily down 150 Street toward the bus stop on the corner when a pack of stray dogs came trotting out of a courtyard I was passing.
“Don’t run, don’t run,” I reminded myself but still I picked up my pace, and they went their way, and I, mine. And oh yes, they were led by a majestic looking German Shepherd type with a snowy white coat.

I began to encounter them at least once a week and although I took more notice of them than they did of me, they were beginning to spook me – especially the ghostly white leader of the pack but when I’d bring up the incident at dinner, since none of my family had ever encountered this canine phenomena, I’d get the standard response, “Virginia, you’re imagining things – it’s all in your head.”

They may have thought it was funny, but I didn’t. Well, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, they wouldn’t have  Virginia to kick around much longer. I’d soon be heading off to college. And what do you think happened when I did? They moved! Fortunately they told me where – to the Northeast Bronx. And they acquired my replacement – Duke, a sweet pupp-a-roo. Yes, Duke was sweet through and through, but he had a Napoleon complex toward any dog bigger than him. Being a medium size dog himself, this meant he was a war with a sizable portion of the canine population.

One morning while home for some break or other, I was walking Duke when what should come walking down the street towards us but  a pack of dogs –  led by – yep, a white German Shepherd!  I managed to shake off the paralysis of shock in time to realize, not only was EL  Blanco bigger than The Duke, so were all his cohorts. Duke noticed too

Having no choice,  I dragged him into a typical NY neighborhood  candy/newspaper store  with a soda fountain. If I’d ever had a notion we could just slip in un-noticed and stand just  inside the  door until El Blanco and his gang were gone , it was dispelled by Duke’s lemme at em barking and  growling .attitude

“You can’t bring a dog in here, “yelled the proprietor.

“Oh yes, I can” I stood my ground until the cost was clear.

Guess what the family’s reaction was when I burst in and telling them of my ordeal? Yep, all in my head.”

Did I really think the beautiful beast had followed me all the way up to the Bronx?

Well Let me just say that I’ve always had an interest in Shamanism. Shamans, natural healers, have spirit helpers called familiars who display the appearance of an animal found in nature – a fox, eagle, wolf, rabbit, etc.

So if you happen to see a white dog driving a pink Cadillac – don’t worry. He’s with me!

Posted September 16, 2013 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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A Picture Can Inspire A Thousand Questions   2 comments

People ask me how I come up with some of these posts. I’d never really thought about it but I guess one of my models is, or was George Carlin. Mr Carlin often couched his monologues in the form of a question. In honor of George, let’s get going.

My stroll through Washington Square and Madison Square Parks inspired a couple of questions.


DSCN0715Isn’t it next to impossible to rent an apartment or buy a coop in Manhattan if you have a dog?

Some  buildings are more pet-friendly than others but even the most friendly usually have a two animal limit.So where do these people (and their three+ dogs) live? The only explanation I can come up is maybe it’s meant for dog walkers. If you’ve ever seen some of these intrepid people they’re sometimes calmly walking a leashed herd of  six or seven dogs.



Isn’t the city supposed to be a concrete jungle?


So why do Washington Square’s lilies look like this?



And The House of Mars’s lilies like this?


Why do Madison Square Park’s ???? look like this?


And The House of Mars’s ????? like this?

Could it be I’ve hurt its feelings by forgetting its name?


And why do their hostas look like this?


And mine like this?

I do have an answer for this one. I have deer. They don’t!




Hot Time, Summer in the City   5 comments

“Hot Time Summer in the City”

If you’re of  a certain age you’ll recognize that song by The Lovin’ Spoonful. Even if you’re too young to remember, (and as time goes on, I’m finding that when I say that, most people  – sigh – are too young). Now what was I saying oh yes, that you’ll recognize that band name as vintage Sixties!

Well I was in Manhattan on Saturday and, yes ma’am it was  hot time in the city. I hadn’t planned to cover it in the blog, but while walking through Washington Square Park, I couldn’t help but compare it to when I last passed through back in March  – when it was warm time, Spring in the city. If you missed that post, “Spring in My Step”, you  might want  to check it out  so you can see what I’m talking about. That would be… Spring in My Steps

Back then,  the fountain in Washington Square had been empty and bone-dry. But Saturday it was 83 degrees and ,


who says we, New Yorkers don’t  take cool where we  find it?


And if you can’t go to The Hampton or “Down The Jersey Shore”?


I wasn’t the only one passing through…..


The tourists were out in full force.


I always check out the doggie playground. In the spring, I’d stood there, getting a kick out of their interactions. It always reminds me of my kindergarteners. There are the bullies, the shy ones, the ones  that grab all the toys and run. But for some reason the doggie park was shut down.

But the dogs were out. Look at this poor guy.


Didn’t anybody tell him to leave his winter coat home?


This guy, on the other hand is not only dressed for summer,


he’s staying hydrated too!


On my way to Grand Central I walked through another park.



And I’m glad I did, their doggie playground was open,


but not exactly crowded.


These guys were taking a water break


And remember what I said about some dogs being big bullies? Well, here at Madison Square Park, they’ve leveled the playing field.


The little dogs can be bullied by one of their own!


And before I leave you, check out Ms Liberty!


Lookin’  good, Girlfriend!

Life Goes On   5 comments

I finally saw Marcos’ headstone and I must say my reaction surprised me. He is the fifth pet I’ve buried at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, sixth if I count my brother’s dog, Duke. I found his grave immediately thanks to the pinwheel I’d left at the unmarked grave at Easter. Shiny and new, I could read the engraved words before I climbed the hill.


And I broke down and cried – real tears crying. I never cried at the cemetery with any of my other pets. Not even Fremont. Seeing Fremont carved in stone did stop me in my tracks, and have me uttering his name,  but not like this. I couldn’t even smile at the Handsome Hunk of Dog bit. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I’ve loved all my cats dearly but I guess this just goes to show that dogs leave a different kind of hole in your life.

Meanwhile back at the House of Mars, life goes on. Summer has come.


So it was down with the storm door


And up with the screen door.


Which has made Marcel and Marceau happy campers

Speaking of the Brothers Mar, they gradually relinquished their claim on  Marcos’ beds



so I donated them (the beds, not The Brothers) to the  Putnam County Humane Society. Every once in a while Marceau does hang out on the futon, but his days are limited. Come Bulk Garbage Pick-up day in October it will be out in the street. That will be sad, but necessary since I’m in the process of restoring the room to its original status – guest room. But like the rooms at the Bed and Breakfast I stayed in recently, it will have a permanent title – The Marcos Room

As for The Marcos Room, I’ve discovered that taking down wallpaper is a journey.



As for me, yes life goes on. Followers will recall I took at nasty case of poison ivy with me to Key West last year. Well last week I took a case to St Thomas Virgin Islands,


a milder dose, but still annoying.

Oh well, some things just don’t change, do they?

Spring in My Steps   3 comments

Spring was here; for one brief day; Saturday. Others think of spending the first warm(ish) day, hiking or biking in the country. I think of making my way down city streets. And as luck would have it, I just happened to be going into Manhattan. Bonus!

The first hint of spring was the fact that I was able to stand on the Peekskill station’s platform while I waited for the train. The station is right on the Hudson and the winter wind blowing across the platform can turn your head inside out. I swear,  it could move half the cars in the parking lot if the station’s structures  didn’t block its force. I take no chances. Winter finds me waiting for the train up here



Or in here.


But no matter what time of year, I always take a minute to take in the view. It’s always fit for a postcard. And Saturday I was able to take it all in without the distraction of shivering muscles and chattering teeth.




By the time I arrived in the city an hour later it was absolutely balmy – for March.

I took the downtown subway halfway to my destination, and since I had nearly an hour to spare before my appointment, I got off three stops early and walked the rest of the way, my route confined to the narrow side streets which hold the “real” New York


After my appointment, I decided to walk the two and half miles back uptown. But first, I needed sustenance. If you recall in an earlier blog I boasted about never eating at one of the city’s trendy food trucks. Well I can boast no more. I joined the trend.


Actually it was very efficient. At first I was discouraged by what I thought was a line but was pleased to discover that everyone had already placed their orders and were actually milling about, waiting to receive them. I stepped up to  the window reserved for placing orders and decided on a spicy cheese empanada from the Veggie listing.I handed over my $3.00, and like the obedient patrons of Seinfeld’s famous Soup Nazi,  stepped to the left to await its being called out at the next window. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am,  those orders just came flying out, and the line dispersed, myself included. In less than four minutes, I was heading uptown, taking happy bites out of my empanada.

I thought of taking a picture, but too late. By the time the notion entered my head,  the empanada was close to morsel size.  But if you’ve ever had a Jamaican Patty or a British Pastie, picture one of those, but, in my empanada’s case, no meat filling, rather, four types of melted cheese, mixed in with caramalized onions and speecy-spicy seasonings. Luckily they supplied a handful of napkins.  I don’t know what needed them more – my hands or my face.

Ahh, food, warmth, fluffy clouds in a blue sky – life in the city was good.



Next stop ….


….where people flocked to the benches to re-acquaint themselves with the sun.


….where kiddies in the playground remembered what slides and swings felt like without winter gloves.



And where, in their own playground, the dogs frolicked…


….or chose not to



Meanwhile back out on the streets, even busy dogs, out on errands, stopped to say hello.


All too soon I reached Grand Central Station for the trip back north.

Alas the next two days were damp and chilly and the remainder of the week seems to be stalled in what the weather forecasters like to call unseasonably cold temps. But I’ll take unseasonably cold in April over that one unseasonably warm day in November when Mother Nature shows her sadistic side,cackling at us suckers who hope against all odds that it’s going to last while knowing all along  that the next, we’ll be freezing our sweet patooties off.

Days like that are oh so wrong.

But Saturday was oh so right.

The Amazing Adaptibility of Animals   3 comments

First of all thank you to everyone who expressed sympathy at the passing of Marcos. Here at The House of Mars, life goes on, as it should. I am undergoing the long process of un-adapting:

  • The first day without Marcos, I came out of the gym to discover it was beginning to rain. I found myself stepping up the pace, the thought I have to get home and let Marcos out before it gets worse, prompting me.  Then reality hit – No you don’t.
  • Saturday afternoon I was preparing my usual bagel and Muenster cheese lunch. As I removed the cheese from its wrapping, I readied myself for the clicking nails that would signal I had to cut a few extra slices for cheese-moocher Marcos. Reality check – just slice enough for yourself.  The Cat Brothers don’t know the pleasure of cheese (nor will I introduce them).

Marcel and Marceau, on the other hand are adapting to Marcos’ bedroom, and his bed on a bed.


Of course, animals cannot express whether it’s easy or hard to adapt to changing circumstances but it amazes me that somehow they do.  On this note we, the remaining Martians,  Marcel,  Marceau and I, V Margaret would like to give a shout out to some of our furry friends and “relatives “ who have adapted.

The Car Brothers’ cousins, Pinky and  Dudley

Pinky and Dudley’s original owner, unfortunately fell victim to Alzheimer’s disease and the considerable upkeep of this glamor gal and glamor guy became too much for the daughter who was caring for her.  Enter my sister-in-law and brother who adopted them. Not every cat gets ultimate adaptation, a living room to match their color scheme.





But alas Pinky and Dudley were not finished adapting. Enter


My niece noticed the bedraggled little kitten hanging out in front of their apartment building. Fellow residents were feeding her, but my niece felt she could do better, so after some first-rate persuasion of her mom and dad, Zelda became part of the family. And so Zelda adapted to being and indoor cat, and to sharing that indoors with Pinky and Dudley. So far, Pinky has adapted better than Dudley (or maybe it’s the other way around).



The Cat Brothers also have a cousin-in-law, once removed and that is ….


Noche lives with my sister-in-law’s sister and her family in a house that serves as the gathering place for various holidays. This means not only does the human presence multiply on these occasions, but often the canine, as well. Sometimes it’s three tiny designer dogs dashing through the house and getting into his favorite places. At other times, it’s a huge chocolate lab throwing his weight about, weight that amounts to about five times Noche’s. But Noche grins and bears it all, the ultimate host.



Then, there’s Charlie.

If you’ve ever watched a dog show you’ve heard of Working Breeds – big guys like St Bernards and Bernese mountain dogs. Charlie is not one of these.  Charlie is a working dog – a nine to fiver in the city, in Manhattan, to be precise, in Soho, to be pinpoint precise. Charlie accompanies my hairstylist Mario Diab to work each day and as soon as he enters the salon, he adapts from family pet to Office Manager.




I’m not just being cute here, Charlie really is the Office Manager.  If you don’t believe me, check out his web-page.

And last but not least, there’s Marcos best friend, Harley.

Harley  brightened Marcos life for his last six months. Harley lives across the street from The House of Mars and would bark and yap each morning when he heard Marcos and I set out on our morning walk; so much so that his owner would have to let him out. The door would open and Harley would leap and bound across the yard. Our walk would have to wait until I’d unleashed Marcos and they’d race about like pups.

I don’t see much of Harley but when I do, he’s adapting to a bomber jacket that matches one worn by his owner.



Meanwhile back home, Marcel and  Marceau branch out in their process of taking over, er adapting to the beds-on a bed.


Peace to all beings – furry and not.

The Sixteen Year Old Dog   27 comments

“A sixteen year old dog was surrendered to Animal Control Saturday. He needs a home.” said  my computer.

If you’ve read my earlier entries you’re probably waiting for me to say it was a sign. But no, it wasn’t. To be more precise the plea came out of my computer speakers, and it belonged to Maria Milito, the  DJ and animal advocate  on New York’s Q104.3 classic rock station.

She’d planted a seed of an obsession in my brain. When it comes to obsessions  the soil of my brain can be most fertile, encouraging them to take root and  send  out tendrils and vines that strangle any  rational thinking that might be attempting to  send up a shoot or two. Usually these seeds  involve  cutting my hair or finding just the right pair of flip-flops.

“Did you hear that?” I asked  my co-worker,  Laura.

She hadn’t, but after hearing it in my words,  said “You don’t want a dog. You don’t have time for a dog.”

She’s told me this every time I’ve mentioned that maybe I need a dog. And usually that’s all I need to hear. But a sixteen year old dog? The poor thing. Who could anyone do that?  The more I thought about it, the more I realized, this might just work. After all –

  • Sixteen?” How long was he going to last? This way I could see if a dog would fit into my lifestyle. It would be kind of an experiment.
  • Sixteen? How much energy would he have. He’d sleep all day and I wouldn’t have to worry about him hurting the cats.
  • Sixteen? That probably meant he was house trained.

I checked out the New York City Animal Care and Control website . He was easy to find, the only sixteen year old dog who had been surrendered on Saturday

“Laura,” I whined. “Come here.I’m in big trouble. Look what his name is!”

She crossed the room and bent over my computer screen “Yeah? Marcos.”

“Don’t you see? Marceau, Marcel, and now Marcos?”

Now I was seeing a sign.

I e-mailed Maria and she was more than happy to put me in touch with the  outreach  person at Animal Control who, in turn, promised to have the kennel manager get back to me. I needed to  know Marcos’ temperament since my main concern was how he’d get on with the cats. I never heard from the kennel manager so there was nothing left but to see for myself. Friday I emailed Maria once more to make sure  he was still there.

Yes, she replied.  She’d been there the previous evening, working with the volunteers and saw him. Her only comment was that he’s very thin.

Saturday turned out to be a day of October gold, a picture perfect backdrop for an apprehensive me to drive into the city, hoping I wasn’t bringing an earthquake home to Fremont’s  World. I reminded myself I could turn around at any time. I didn’t have to do this.  But my obsession was set in drive  I couldn’t not do this.

NYCACC is  a fortress-like multi-story building abuzz with noise and movement. I showed the website  print-out to a man at the information window. He looked at the number A317 and directed me up to the  third floor. I took the stairs and upon opening the door marked 3, found myself at the end of a long cinder block corridor punctuated by doors  that opened to rooms lined with  chain link runs. I seemed to be  in the pitbull/rottweiler section. Barking vied with the metallic clanging  of fences and  the smell  of damp concrete rose as kennel workers hosed down the  floors, switching  dogs from one run to another. Amidst all this, a parade of prospective adopters flowed in and out of the rooms clucking, whispering, and wiggling finger at dogs who caught their fancy. And this was only one of four floors; no wonder the kennel manager never got back to me.

I found a young woman in yellow rubber boots and showed her the profile .”A rescue group is taking him,” she said.

“Rescue group?” I asked. “Aren’t  they going to have to find him a home. I am a home.”  I followed her to a computer terminal at the end of the corridor where she clicked a few keys and told me “Nope, they took him yesterday.”

I went back out into the orange autumn sun, my spirits  floating like a feather. Yes! I had tried. That’s all that mattered. it just wasn’t meant to be. The world was good. I rewarded myself with a trip to Trader Joe’s and returned  home.

On Monday morning, I e-mailed Maria to tell her of the happy ending.  She replied immediately.Do you want me to find the rescue group?

Alas, my craziness had only been lying  low.  I typed yes

And so I made the acquaintance of Linda Vetrano, the wonderful woman who, with the help of her network of foster parents and generous veterinarians, runs Posh Pets Rescue.  She adopts dogs on Animal Control’s kill list, sees that they are given any necessary medical care, and a temporary home until a permanent one can be found.

“Marcos is presently at the veterinarian  with a terrible case of kennel cough”, she told me in her East London accent.” He’ll be staying there until it is cured.  We only place healthy dogs.” Her five-day estimate turned out to be ten, and the foster mom she’d hoped would be able to test him a night or two in her multi-cat household  had to bow out when one of the cats came down with a urinary tract infection.

As these delays piled up that subversive voice reminded me “This is giving you time to change your mind.” But did I listen? No. On another beautiful October afternoon I retraced my trip into Manhattan, but  his time to a veterinary office on Second Avenue. I found a parking space on Eighty Sixth and Third, three blocks up and one block over from the vet’s office which in terms of NY  parking is a gift. After all, this was the Upper East  Side on a Saturday afternoon.As I hurried along ( I only had a 30 minute meter) I found myself worrying,  one, would he be able to walk these five blocks, and  two, could he could make it up to the front seat of my truck. Maybe if I got all the paper work done I could come back, get the truck and double park. They could bring him out and help me  lift  him into the truck.

The veterinary office, like most in Manhattan, was a store- front operation. The front room was  filled with waiting clients and their fluffy little poodle types and cats in carriers. Rafael, the  technician came out and suggested he bring Marcos out through the side entrance.  I found that odd but agreed, handing over the thin woven leash and camouflage collar I’d bought. He took one look at the leash and said, “You’d better get a longer leash. He’s going to pull you all over town with this. “And he was gone in a flash, leaving me to match up these words with my image of Marcos. I didn’t have to wonder long.I waited outside for a minute or so when I heard staccato  nails and maniacal panting. The door flew open and Rafael handed me the taut leash. At the other end was a raring to go sheath of muscle  and ribs,  declaring to all the world that he’d been sprung from the joint.

“This is the Posh pets dog, right?” I asked Rafael as he re-entered the building.

“Yep,” he said. “Marcos.”

Our walk back to second Avenue can best be described as a tug of war. Me, trying to establish dominance, and Marcos, a dog on a mission and in a hurry to get there. When we arrived at the truck,  I opened the passenger door and he was on the front seat in one graceful leap. He stood, in perfect pointer stance, facing front  for the entire one hour ten minute drive home. He never moved. Months later I related this at a family gathering and my brother declared, “He was memorizing the way back.”  Don’t you love  little brothers?

We arrived home and I led him to the door. I peeped through the glass, and as usual, Marceau and  Marcel were  at the door,  ready to welcome me  home.

I tightened my hold on the leash, pulling Marcos close, and opened the door slowly. They saw him before he saw them, and if he did catch a glimpse, it was of a whirl of  black and white legs, hightailing it up to the loft.  I led Marcos into the spare room which was to be his  until I could judge the climate. He took one look at the bed and leaped onto it, perching there as if to say “yeah, my kind o’ place.

I secured the thirty inch gate I’d purchased, and walked through the living room into the kitchen.The  cats recovered their composure at seeing me in the kitchen. If I was in the kitchen, it must be to feed them. I opened the fridge to get cat food and froze at the sound of a thud followed by a rush of  nails  tapping over my living room floor.

“No! No!’ Put him down,” I screamed as Marcos stood wide mouthed over Marceau.I don’t know if it was my hysteria  or  Marcel’s protective hissing and growling but  he skidded back to his new bed, clearing  the gate in one graceful arc, and stared back at me  as if I’d imagined it all.

“Sixteen years old, hmm.” I muttered, as I  stacked books under the gate to raise its height.

And then I recalled the other thing Maria Milito had said when she’d  told me Marcos was very thin. “He definitely doesn’t look his age.”

To capsulize the last four and a half years:

When Marcos entered The House of Mars, he weighed 46 pounds.

He  is now sixty-eight pounds.

Marcel  conquered his fear and his growling and had Marcos backing out of his way by the next month.
Marceau took  a while longer, spending most of his time in the loft when Marcos was loose.

but he was observing and biding his time. When he finally approached Marcos it was with a one-two to his tail.
For the most part, Marcel stays above the fray

while Marceau has become a stalker


prone to  nudging his Marcos out of his own bowl at chow time.


On our first visit to the vet he made an estimate that Marcos was more like eight or nine years  old. On our last visit, in October, I commented that Marcos had gained twenty-two pounds in his three years with me. The doctor looked at his chart and said, “According to my notes, you’ve had him four years.”

Time flies when you’re having fun I guess. And so you have The House of Mars – Marcel, Marceau,Marcos, and yes me, my middle name is Margaret.