Tag Archives: pets

Marley Schmarley – Timber was Golden

Our firstborn, Timber.

Saw a bit of Marley and Me over the holidays, and it makes me sad + mad.  Sad for obvious reasons – I always hate it when (spoiler alert) the dog dies.  And mad because I didn’t listen to my dear friend Charlotte back in the early 80’s when she urged me to write a book about my firstborn son who just so happened to be a Golden Retriever. My Timber was equally if not more interesting and a lot less messed up mentally than that Marley critter.  I could be the rich author raking it in instead of John Grogan (plus isn’t he busy enough singing  “You Raise Me Up”?), and Jennifer Aniston could have played me in the movie, since she’s basically my Doppelganger. My book would have been called Me ‘n Timber, because grammar wasn’t my strong suit in the ‘80s. 

We got him as a pup in June of 1981, and we did that obnoxious thing that people who love dogs do, of going to see the puppies at 3 weeks of age at the breeders, and picking one out and then going to visit him until it was time we could take him home.    I remember picking him up and putting him in the back part of our “Scout” truck, but he didn’t like it there so I had to stop and get out and put him on my lap, where he rode the rest of the way standing up on my lap looking out the side window.  That set the stage for how he was going to be brought up.

The beautiful run and house hubby built for Timber. We didn't ever have the heart to lock him up in it. This was a staged photo-op.

The first day that we left him alone while we went to work, he didn’t really like that either.  So every day after that, he came along to work with me.  I worked at a vet clinic and he basically became the clinic greeter.  He would sit by my desk in the back, or hover outside the surgery, depending on where the action was.  He would run out to the reception area whenever anyone came in and wag and look behind him as if to assure them that somebody would be right out.  Sometimes he slept out in the reception area, and would be too lazy to bother greeting anyone but would just lie there thumping his tail instead.

We used him at the clinic shamelessly.  He was in charge of keeping yappy dogs quiet who didn’t like to be left alone.  We would put him in the kennel room and he would lie there like an annoyed babysitter.  He was our in-a-pinch blood donor.  If a dog came in that had been hit by a car and was dangerously close to death, we would borrow some blood from Timber, tapping right into his vein in his neck and he would sit there still as a statue as we let gravity help us gather.  (Apparently matching blood types isn’t a must do if it’s only happening once.) He would let us place orphaned kittens or cotton-tail bunnies on him for warmth, in between the times when we would feed them with tiny bottles.  He would let them snuggle in to his furry belly, and he seemed to quite enjoy it, although if you made a fuss he always looked embarrassed like he wanted to stress that it wasn’t his idea.

Babysitting a lonely kitty

Doing candy striper duty, walking a patient.

Dr. Timbers, ready for surgery

He was a seasoned commuter, and our family of 3 would set out together each morning. I had to drop hubby off at work and then Timber and I had another 20 min. drive to the clinic.  We drove a big old 1967 Ford Galaxie, and he had the whole long bench backseat to himself.  He would sit leaning super-casually against the door, gazing out the window – he never did that dog thing of sticking his head out.  I expect he thought that was way too unsophisticated and dog-ish.  Occasionally he even used the armrest.

The Galaxie, our sweet ride

 Not that he was perfect.  He got into trouble sometimes.   One day hubby was driving us along in the a.m. and I was having my usual breakfast of a banana, when we both smelled something horrific.  We could barely breathe, and then looked in the back seat and a rather sheepish looking Timber had just yacked up an impressively sizeable cat turd, still coated in litter.  It was disgusting.

Another time he helped himself at home in the morning to an entire pound of butter.  Strangely, it didn’t agree with him, and though he held off his nausea until we got to work, he hurled up a pale yellow oil slick about 15 feet wide right beside my desk.  I couldn’t even clean it up, it was far too gross – the paper towels just slid around on it.  My co-workers cleaned it up while I gagged helpfully in the corner.  In spite of mopping, people were slippity-sliding past my desk (which held an abacus and a lot of carbon paper, because it was the 80’s) the whole rest of the day.

PLUS he once consumed an entire cheeseball that I had slaved over.  It was Christmas Eve, and we were entertaining and we went to the door to see our guests out, and he joined us a few minutes later, but couldn’t stop licking his lips.  We discovered that the coffee table now held crackers only, with a big gaping hole where the beautiful crushed-pecan coated cheeseball used to be.  (In his defense, he may have mistaken it for a giant round cat turd coated in litter.)

Timber loved every person he ever met, with the exception of one man, who unfortunately was someone we had to see regularly.  He turned into a whole different canine when the dead stock guy came to clean out the freezer of all the dead animals. As the guy would go up and down the stairs to the basement, carrying out the dearly departed “petcicles”, Timber would growl and back up, as if to say “You’ll never take me!”.  The guy was kind of a creepy ghoulish character – I mean who does that for a job, especially in the 80’s when the economy was booming? He could have been doing something awesome like pumping gas or renting out beta movies.  But I digress …

Timber was a remarkable boy and enjoyed all the privileges that went with being an only child, at least until we got some offspring of the two-legged variety.  Then there was a bit of a power shift and he begrudgingly took on the role of family pet. I always knew he was acting though.

Timber Darling, 1981-1988
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Criminal Minds – Canine Edition

I’ve been getting some requests for an update on that DOG my family brought home without my knowledge, blessing or input.  (Okay,  maybe nobody asked – but tough, I’m going to report it anyway.) His name is no longer “Murphy”.  We discovered that he’s a bit challenged intellectually, and he likes to run and run and run … so then he became “Forrest”, as in Gump.  But that’s where the similarity ends. We’ve had him for three months, and he’s got a rap sheet a mile long.

 Top 10 Crimes over the past three months:

  1. Vandalism – Ate ½ of nice black leash as rebellion against having to stay in the porch because he was wet, and smelled like – you guessed it – a wet dog.
  2. Theft and destruction of property – within the course of ten minutes and (while in full view of hubby who did not notice either deed) he both:
    • Dug up/pruned with his teeth, my only surviving,  non-holey Hosta
    • Stole black bra from clothesline and paraded it about the property like he was at a Victoria Secret fashion show
  3. Destruction of more property – Over the course of a couple of days, systematically, knowingly, and sneakily chewed the little leather piece that goes between your toes from THREE separate pairs of #1 daughter’s flip-flops. To add insult to injury, the shoes looked normal until she went to put them on, and they became anklets.
  4. Vagrant-like behaviour – Rolled in something disgusting, requiring an immediate bath, even though it was nighttime and hubby was home alone with a migraine and had to perform the bathing all by himself.
  5. Repeat vagrancy offense – Morning after emergency bath, rolled in cat poo and presented himself at the door to be let in with full turd still intact behind one ear.
  6. Trespassing – he decided to accompany a group of Mennonite children home from their bus stop as they walked past our house.  By the time hubby noticed he was gone, he had been absent for a while.  Had to jump in the car and drive down our side road to their farm, where the one-canine crime spree was gleefully chasing their horses around the paddock, barking like a lunatic.
  7. Indecent exposure and lewd, inappropriate behavior, unbecoming a dog –  Whilst wrestling on the kitchen floor with the girls, he knowingly or unknowingly released what they call the “red rocket” and one of them full-on grasped it by accident.  There was much screaming and hysteria, and then talk about being a “pet-o-file” and then finally,  “show me on your doll where the bad lady touched you.”  None of us will be recovering from that anytime soon.
  8. Terrorism – Singlehandedly banished our beloved the cats into exile.  He eats their food, and poses menacingly in the doorway.  My three little feline friends are officially feral now.  Sometimes they sit in the window when he’s in another room and stare in at me with tearful yet wild eyes, one paw held up against the window pane, longing for the days when they ran the house.
  9. Grossness – Self induced bulimic behaviour whilst traveling in the vehicle, so not only can we not leave him alone, we can’t take him anywhere unless we want to end up on the side of the road scraping warm, half-digested piles of puppy chow flecked with pieces of wood off the upholstery.
  10. Conspiracy leading to slander – He’s running with the wrong crowd. At precisely bedtime on a Monday night when he was let out for one final bio-break, he purposefully had a secret rendezvous with the stinkingest skunk in the county.  Of course it was 11:00 p.m. , and we had to wait until morning to get him cleaned up. He had to sleep outside, tied up like the common criminal that he is quickly becoming.

The good news is that having worked at veterinary offices for many years, I know that a foolproof remedy to remove skunk scent from a dog is a good soaking in a feminine hygiene douche product.  That’s right – Summer’s Eve.  Massengill – that sort of douche.  The bad news is that this is a small town and it doesn’t go unnoticed when your husband is waiting at the door in the morning for the drug store to open, and hastily purchases as many douche products as he can carry. 

However, he is still technically a puppy and we are trying to keep in mind that we didn’t give up any of the children during their youthful escapades (almost doesn’t count).  Plus,he’s also skilled at one other thing that means we’ll probably keep him around – occasionally he does a convincing impersonation of a good dog.

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