The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

I am a good dog.  I really am.  I am a faithful member of the pack.  I guard the house and patrol the perimeter.  I keep an eye on Kasey and try to keep her out of trouble.  I am good company for the Leader, too.

IMG_4797_2So why do the Leader and the old boring guy keep moving into places that have these terrible things?  When I saw these yesterday, I said:  “Oh no!  Not again!”  But when I saw our pack’s things here, I knew I was stuck.

I hate these slippery and slidey things.  I even hate them more than I hate cats, or that mean dog that tried to bite Kasey once.  When I try to walk on these things, I feel like I am on an icy pond.  I am afraid that my paws and legs are going to go shooting out sideways and I am going to fall on my chin.

Why oh why did we come here?  You know, I bet the old boring guy had something to do with this.  But I’ll teach him a lesson.  I won’t go up them, period.  At night, I’ll just sit at the bottom and whimper and bark.  Ha, ha!  Good luck getting some sleep, old boring guy!

Moving Day

Today, we move.

IMG_4776We’ve got a good game plan and a pretty solid understanding of which pieces of furniture should go where, but the gods always throw you a few curve balls to keep you on your toes.  For one, it’s a brisk 7 degrees outside right now, which means that, with movers trudging in and out through open doors, our new house will be akin to a meat locker for the day.  Bundle up and brace yourself!

For another, our sensitive dogs have gleaned that something is up.  For Penny, this realization — like any realization she has ever had in her life, frankly — has just stimulated her ever-voracious appetite.  For Kasey. it’s an apparent cause of her decision to barf on the floor.  It’s a welcome surprise to start what is likely to be a stressful day.  Who knows how this Mutt and Jeff canine pair will react to being introduced to a new home, and what happy gastrointestinal events might greet us tomorrow morning?

For now, we’re up, guzzling cup after cup of coffee, packing up our stuff in the rental, and gearing up for a big day.

FURminator Forever

When you live in temporary quarters while most of your possessions are in storage, you’re going to have moments when you wish you could put your hands on an appliance, article of clothing, or device that’s instead squirreled away in an anonymous box in a warehouse.  And the longer you’re parted from your stuff, the more you miss the little things.

Lately, I’ve been having a strong case of FURminator envy.

For those who aren’t familiar with this terrific product, the FURminator is a heavy duty brush — a “de-shedding tool for large dogs” — that helps to get rid of dog fur.  When Penny gets a vigorous brushdown with the FURminator, the result is large clouds of white dog hair that collect into loose balls and roll across the yard like tumbleweeds in an old western.  Since Penny remains fur-covered, of course, you begin to realize just how much fur dogs carry around.

So why do I miss the FURminator?  Basically, because every one of the dog hairs that would have been gathered into a mass of discarded fur now ends up on my clothing.  I’m a walking testament to the adhesive properties of dog hair, which is clingier than your first high school girlfriend.  My blue cloth winter greatcoat looks like a kind of mangy alpaca effort that Joe Namath might have worn during his Fu Manchu moustache period.  It’s not a particularly attractive look.

So when we finally move to our new place in a few days, I’ll be going through boxes with undiminished zeal, keeping an eye out for a handy little device that, liberally applied, should help to keep our new home from becoming a fur-fest.  FURminator Forever!

The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

IMG_4513I’ll tell you one thing about our new place that Kasey and I really like — there are a lot of dogs around.  When we are going for a walk, there are dog smells everywhere.  I mean, EVERYWHERE!  There are dog smells on the brick sidewalks, and dog smells on the trees, and dog smells on the little metal fences, and dog smells on the sides of buildings.  And we all know that nothing smells better than a dog.  I could sniff dog smells all day long!

And then there is this big park that is like dog heaven.  Every time we’ve gone there we’ve seen lots and lots of dogs walking with members of their pack.  We’ve seen spaniels and boxers, dachshunds and Corgis, Great Danes and little yapper dogs.  There are even kinds of dogs that I’ve never seen before.  And somewhere, we’ve heard, there is a special dog named Mitzi who is the queen dog of them all.

There were some dogs who lived near our old place, like my friend Sassy, but I bet this new place has more dogs than just about anywhere else in the whole world.  It makes makes Kasey and me feel proud to be part of it.  And, for some reason, it also makes me feel hungry.  But then, I am always hungry!

The Power Of A Milk-Bone

Our new temporary quarters have worked out well, with one exception:  Penny has refused to go up the stairs at night.

IMG_4510This was not a problem in our New Albany home, where Penny would dutifully trudge up the stairs at bedtime.  But here, the steep steps seem to have freaked her out, and she simply will not go up the stairs voluntarily.  When we accepted that fact and left her downstairs, she barked and whimpered so we couldn’t sleep.  And if you’ve got a dog, you know that they are stubborn creatures; we soon realized that she was going to be able to bark and whimper much longer than we were going to be able to endure the noise.

What to do?  We consulted our vet.  Friends and family shared theories about the true cause of the problem.  We got advice about space-age dog carrying devices.  We developed approaches to the stairs that we thought would give Penny maximum support, encouragement, and confidence.  And the last few nights we’ve wrangled her up the stairs using a jury-rigged combination of leash, folded fleece blanket to serve as a kind of lifting and carrying sling, and sheer lugging.

And then we realized:  she doesn’t have a problem coming down the steep new stairs in the morning.  Why?  Well, it might be gravity . . . or it might be the incentive of a morning meal.  We know that Labs have insatiable appetites.  Why not try to lure her up the stairs with food?  Last night we employed the Milk-Bone Solution to the stair problem, and sure enough Penny scampered up the stairs and gladly munched down her reward biscuit.

It’s the power of the Milk-Bone.

The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

Something big has happened to our pack. I mean, really big! Yesterday the Leader took Kasey and me to a new place that we have never seen before — but some of our things were there. I’m not sure, but I think we might be staying here.

I don’t know why we left our old place. It’s the only house I’ve lived in. I liked it there. I miss it already.IMG_4277

I have to admit that this new place has some interesting smells.  Kasey and I have had some fun exploring.  But I hate this thing about our new place — the stairs and the floors.  The stairs are way too tall, and I have to really jump to get up them.  And the floors are just too slippery and slidey for me.  Who wants to be slipping and sliding everywhere?

But our whole pack is here — even the old boring guy.  Kasey and I like it best when we are together, wherever we are.  And our food is here, too.  That is a good thing, because with all this slipping and sliding I am hungry!


The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

I’ve always gone au naturel.  I figure the rest of the pack is entitled to see me in all my glory as I stretch out on the carpet, and I don’t want to be hindered by any dumb clothing when I go outside to do my business, either.

IMG_3685Kasey is different.  She is just a little, shivery dog.  When the weather is cold she hates to go outside.  The cold doesn’t bother me, but Kasey starts trembling in the cold air like a dog in an earthquake.

The Leader noticed this.  The Leader always does.  So the Leader went and got Kasey a coat, just like the ones the Leader and the old boring guy wear when they go outside during the winter.  Kasey likes it, and it seems to keep her warm.  At least, she doesn’t shiver as much as she used to.

I’m happy for Kasey, but that doesn’t mean I want to start wearing clothes.  I look good just the way I am, and when I go outside in the buff it stimulates my appetite.  Which reminds me — I am hungry!

The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

IMG_3440Ugh.  Today the old boring guy was pushing around the Loud Thing.  What is the Loud Thing, and why does he push it around?  Who knows — but sometimes he does.  He moves from room to room, and keeps moving a long black string that looks like a snake while he does it.  And when he moves into a room with the Loud Thing, that’s when it’s time for me to go somewhere else.

Boy, is the Loud Thing loud!  It’s so loud that it scares Kasey, and I don’t particularly like having it around, either.  It makes a noise that not quite like a bark, or a growl, or a snarl.  It’s almost like all of those things combined, and a wind storm besides — but much, much louder.

And I keep wondering, what is it?  When the old boring guy is pushing it, it is loud.  But when the old boring guy is away, it is totally quiet.  And it smells like dust.

Fortunately, in our pack the Loud Thing only comes out once in a while.  Kasey and I are happy dogs when it goes away.

The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

IMG_3406It is not Whizzer, no matter what the old boring guy says.

Ever since I came back from the place where everyone wears white coats I have been thirsty.  My mouth feels very dry and salty.  So I drink, and drink, and drink some more.  My tongue is getting worn out with all of this lapping!

The Leader knows this.  So now, there are water bowls in almost every room.  There’s even one in the room upstairs with the hard floor.  I’m not sure why the Leader put a bowl in there.  After all, there is already a big bowl of water in there with a lid on it, although the old boring guy yells at me if he catches me drinking from it.

Speaking of the old boring guy, I’ve figured out a new way to make him mad.  I drink so much water, I need to go all the time.  The Leader takes me outside to do my business, but sometimes I just can’t hold it.  Really!  I just can’t!  Of course, I usually can’t hold it when the old boring guy is around.  I’ve had a few “accidents” right in front of him.  Ha ha!   Sorry, old boring guy!  When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go!

Just thinking of that makes me thirsty again.

A “Good News For Penny” Update

Many of you have asked about how Penny is doing.  We appreciate your concern about our long0time pet and occasional Webner House contributor.

IMG_3408I’m happy to report that today we received the results of Penny’s biopsy.  The tests indicate that she doesn’t have cancer, for which we are grateful.  Instead, according to the vets, she has some kind of acute case of gastrointestinal disease/chronic  inflammatory bowel disease.  It sounds disgusting, and it is, but it can be controlled with steroids, which lessen the swelling that cause the incontinence.  Kish has the happy chore of getting Penny to consume steroid pills that she really doesn’t like — but it’s a price we’re happy to pay.

Of course, there’s always a downside.  In this case, it’s that the steroids make Penny incredibly thirsty . . . which in turn causes her to drink copious amounts of water . . . which in turn causes her to periodically have accidents around the house.  Oh well!  They say that into each life a little rain — or other fluids — must fall.

Wrestling With A Life-Or-Death Decision

We’ve been dealing a big health scare with Penny.  It’s frightening because we don’t know the exact status of her condition or what is causing it, and it’s uncomfortable because it has caused us to start talking about very difficult end-of-life decisionmaking.

Penny is having gastrointestinal problems.  We’ve had to buy her special food, and at times she can’t keep it down.  If you know Labs, you know that is a warning sign; normally Penny would gladly eat her own weight in just about anything.  Last week, things took a turn for the worse.  Penny was losing it from both ends without regard for what she was doing, leaving our carpets terribly stained and the house smelling like a latrine.  She also was disoriented, apparently uncomfortable sitting, and moving and wandering aimlessly.

-1Thursday Kish took her to MedVet, a local emergency room for pets.  They concluded that she had a severely inflamed stomach and intestinal lining and was dehydrated.  They kept her for two days, gave her intravenous fluids, prescribed steroids for the inflammation, and did a scan and biopsy to try to determine the cause of the problem.  The fluids helped her disorientation, and the diarrhea stopped.

We brought Penny back home on Saturday, with her belly and bands on her forepaws shaved, and have held our breath hoping that she is okay.  So far, she hasn’t had any accidents — thank God! — her appetite seems to have returned, and this morning she had a solid bowel movement, which was a cause for minor celebration in the Webner household.  That’s the way it is if you are a pet owner.

We still don’t know why Penny had this problem in the first place, though, and we’re waiting on the biopsy results to see if it was caused by disease, environmental factors, or something else.  In the meantime, Kish and I have talked about the possible scenarios.  If Penny has a disease that leaves her unable to control her bowels, what alternatives do we have?  She’s a house dog, not an outdoor dog, and her prior bout with this problem was intolerable.  How comfortable is she?  If she does have a disease, what are her prospects?

The discussion includes difficult, almost mathematical calculations.  Penny turns eight next month, and Labs typically live to 11 or 12.  If she has a problem that could be addressed by surgery, what would it mean for her likely life span, and what would her post-surgery quality of life be like?  If it could be treated by medication, would it have side effects?  And lurking behind all of the scenarios are uncomfortable considerations of cost.  Penny is a member of the family, but if the news is bad how much should we be willing to pay — on top of what we will have to pay already — to give her another few months or a year?

This kind of decision-making is profoundly difficult and depressing.  I don’t want to be the Grim Reaper, making life-or-death judgments about a pet.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed, hoping that the tests indicate that this was a one-time thing, and dreading what we might have to decide if we get bad news instead.

The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

The Leader has been gone the last few days, which means we’re stuck with the old boring guy,  That means no snuggling, no kisses, and no treats thrown to us when the Leader leaves the house.  The old boring guy doesn’t do any of that good stuff.

IMG_3064Kasey and I sure do miss the Leader!

When the old boring guy is in charge, we know he’s going to take for a long morning walk.  And when I say long, I mean long!  It takes forever!

But there is one good thing about it.  The old boring guy always walks by one of my favorite places and let’s me stop and have a good sniff around.  I love that little stretch of fence and patch of ground.  I’m not sure why.  I’ve been stopping there since I first joined the pack, smelling the smell and leaving my own sign for any dogs that might follow.

And in the morning, like this morning, when it is cool and dark and peaceful, this little patch of grass and fence is a wonderful place.  When I come home and lie down on the kitchen floor, sometimes I think about it.  And then, eventually, I get hungry.

The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.


I’ve always thought and hoped that I was a special dog.  I’ve tried to be good, I really have.  I’ve chewed a few things, sure, and sometimes the food I eat comes right back up again, but I can’t help that.  I protect our place when cats come around, and, unlike another dog whose name starts with K, I never have “accidents” in the house.

But I knew I was special when I saw my picture on the cover of a magazine.  And, at about the same time, the Leader started giving me wet food out of cans!  Food out of cans, can you imagine?  That’s when I knew how special I really am.

Now, when I was through the neighborhood, I know all eyes are on me.  “There she goes,” they are saying, “the special dog who was on the cover of a magazine.”. Other dogs in the neighborhood, like Sassy, act like nothing has changed, but they can’t fool me.  I’m famous!

If being famous means getting that wet food from the can, I like it!  Speaking of which . . . I am hungry!

P.S.  Don’t forget today is National Dog Day!

Penny, The Cover Girl

In today’s mail we received Healthy Pet magazine.  Imagine our surprise, and double-take, when we saw our dog prominently featured on the front cover.

IMG_2906That’s right — that’s Penny, looking all noble, in the circle on the cover.  Sure, her name is misspelled, but that kind of publicity is priceless.

Upon close examination, we saw that it was, in fact, our Penny — but it’s not the actual, glossy cover of the magazine.  Instead, it’s a kind of add-on cover courtesy of the Animal Hospital of New Albany, where Penny’s veterinarian practices.  Presumably it was added specifically for our benefit, and the homes of other four-legged patients received special covers about their pets.

We’ll have to save the cover, because along with her brief brush with stardom Penny’s medical schedule is advertised for all the world to see.  There’s no federal law protecting the privacy of pooches, so there’s no problem with a magazine cover that embarrassingly discloses that Penny will be getting that heartworm/lyme/E/A test in a few weeks.  Let’s just hope it doesn’t come back positive, now that the mailman knows all about it.

Kasey’s Secret Past

Last night several lines of thunderstorms rolled through central Ohio.  As the lightning flashed and the thunder clashed and rumbled, it sent Kasey to quivering.  Penny is oblivious to outdoor storms, but they terrify Kasey and send her darting for the nearest human being to cower beside.

DSC04122Why are thunderstorms so frightening to Kasey?  We don’t know — but then there’s a lot we don’t know about Kasey.  She’s only been part of our lives for less than three years.  She’s a “rescue dog” of sorts and was retrieved from a Humane Society near Vermilion when she was already a fully grown dog.  We don’t know how old she is, exactly, but the veterinarian, from looking at her teeth and other evidence, things she’s 11 or 12.  That means she had about 9 years of life experiences before we entered the picture, and we don’t know what those life experiences were.

So, we try to draw inferences about Kasey’s secret past from what we know about her, now.  When we got Kasey she wasn’t particularly well housebroken.  She’s got bad teeth.  She doesn’t like storms and loud noises.  Initially, before encountering Penny, the bottomless pit, she wouldn’t eat all her food immediately when it was served.  And, most distressingly, she was very skittish and suspicious around males, even growling at me a few times during the early days as I approached her.

What can we surmise from these very few pieces of a much larger puzzle?  Not much, really, other than some pretty uninformed guesswork.  Her teeth suggest that her past owner or owners didn’t take her to the vet very often.  On the other hand, she must have been reasonably well fed — dogs that are starving aren’t going to leave available food to nosh on later.  The incomplete house-training suggests that she lived with someone who started the job, but couldn’t completely pay attention to Kasey’s habits for some reason.  Her fear of thunder and lightning and loud noises suggest that she may have been a doghouse dog for part of the time who was left outside during bad storms, or perhaps she lived in a place where loud noises meant something bad was happening.  As for the skittishness around men, I’d rather not think about that — but the inference is obvious.  Fortunately, she seems to have gotten over that.

So, we really don’t know much about Kasey’s past — but we like to think that she views living with us is a definite improvement, storms and all.