My Dog is My Therapist

Recently I saw a woman wearing this t-shirt: At first I thought it was funny. Then I realized it was absolutely true. I mean who knows more about me than the Doods? They’re with me most of the time. They eavesdrop on all of my conversations. They even follow me into the bathroom.

Looking back, Charley was my therapist for years. It totally explains the way he would sit and stare at me. It’s like the way a therapist sits and doesn’t speak, waiting for you to overshare so they can nod wisely and earn their money. I have absolutely nothing against therapists but Charley did it for free.

Coincidentally, soon after I saw the shirt, I was solving the New York Times crossword puzzle, something that I do daily in ink, and there was a clue that said, “Stereotypical response at a shrink.” The answer was, “I see.”

ELBEE Am I the only one who noticed that she had to drop in that she does the puzzle every day. Personally, I don’t think it’s that’s hard. And newsflash (that was a good one) I’ve heard her looking up answers on line.

With Charley gone, Elbee has taken over as chief therapist. Unfortunately he talks too much and has too many opinions. Gus doesn’t have the life experience but he tries.

ELBEE I will not even comment. I’ll tweet about it later.

That t-shirt reminded me of one that I’d seen at Venice Beach, scene of my bodybuilding glory.

ELBEE Here it comes. Just put up the photo and move on.

GUS What is that?

ELBEE I don’t even know where to start.

The shirt said, “Be the person that your dog thinks you are.” I guess it was supposed to be an inspirational, feel good saying. Obviously it was overlooking the fact that the Doods have heard my driving vocabulary and my singing in the car. Trust me, no one else hears me singing.

GUS That was singing?

I’m sure that Charley thought I needed him as my service dog but could never quite figure out what he was supposed to do for me. Elbee considers me a competing diva. Gus just thinks I’m his mother.


The Diva

ELBEE Remember, I’m the Mariah of the dog world. No one competes with me.





That shirt made me wonder how the daughters would describe me in a word or two.  It was obviously a moment of insanity because these are the same three women who wanted to sue me for writing “Top 12 Reasons Dogs Are Better than Children.”

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. Danielle, the youngest, said, “individual.” Nicole came up with “extraordinary.” Oh and then there was Jennifer who said “crazy,” with an adjective I can’t print, but “on a good day, eccentric.”

And yes, I will be buying each them a gift certificate to the store of her choice.


A Double Dose of Doodle

A few weeks ago I posted about my long time friend Roberta who is waging the most determined fight against brain cancer. Roberta is so tough that if anyone can scare cancer, she’s the one.

She has the rare gift of acknowledging reality, working with it and creating the best possible scenario. In this case she has developed a whole arsenal of medical and emotional support. That includes, as I shared in the other post, the neighborhood dogs who visit when she’s working out in her garage and the Doods. The first time I went to visit I brought Gus. Last week it was the dynamic duo, Gus and Elbee.

As soon as we drove up to her house, the front door flew open and she came out to greet us, hair and makeup done. And you know I consider that a big plus.

ELBEE It’s no secret. I do too.

She was in a great mood, positive, upbeat and welcoming. There was laughter. There was a lovely lunch.

There was also a bit of dog chaos. The minute the Doods pranced though the door they became the center of attention. Roberta was running around with them, applauding all of their tricks, sneaking them treats every time I turned my back. Then as they finally tired out, she sprawled on the floor with both of them for some unconditional dog love and support.

As she was resting with Gus and Elbee, gently petting them, we began talking quietly about how much the time with the dogs means to her. That’s when she urged me to do this follow up because she wanted people to truly understand the impact that dogs, and particularly therapy dogs, can have on someone who is fighting for his or her life.

I asked Roberta if she would send me an email expressing how the dogs are affecting her. I thought it would mean so much more coming directly from someone who is experiencing dog therapy rather than from my observations. It’s difficult to do this with hospital patients because of confidentiality issues.

She wrote some extremely touching things about me that modesty prevents me from sharing. Oh who am I kidding. Showoff that I am, I’ll tell you one. She said the dogs were “unique and amazing” because they take after me.

ELBEE I was so proud that Pack Leader was staying out of it but I guess she couldn’t help herself.

Seriously, Roberta did say that she feels so great when she knows the Doods are coming over. She can hardly wait until they arrive. She absolutely loves to roll around on the floor with my “incredible animals,” and yes, “give them dog biscuits, the best variety,” when I’m not looking.  She also wrote, ” It is a thrill to have them in my house, pet them and gain peace of mind. How bad can the world be when dogs and their leaders exist to help others.” Amen Roberta. I am proud to call you my friend.



Oddballs in the Mountains

Over the years I’ve seen some unusual hikers. No, I’m not referring to the woman without makeup. That reminds me of the time a man walked over to me carrying a live snake he’d just found. I said, “I’m wearing a cute outfit and lipstick. Do I look like someone who would want to hold a snake?”

ELBEE These comments are from a woman who puts on blush if she gets up to go to the bathroom during the night.

And yes, I’ve been know to dabble in a little eye shadow.

I’ve posted about the hiker who was naked except for a baseball hat and tennis shoes. Then there was the dirty, disheveled young man who unwrapped a blanket he was carrying to show me a drone that he’d found. And let’s not forget the bike rider in the mesh cycling suit. Now that was really disturbing.

GUS And I thought the coyotes were scary. Where is Charley when I need him!

The other morning I found someone else to add to the list. I was about ten minutes up a trail, enjoying the peace and quiet, when suddenly, in the distance, I heard a man shouting, “I am. I am. I am.”

That was followed by a few moments of silence so I was hoping it was a one time shout out and he’d gotten it out of his system. That’s when I heard the same booming voice yelling, “I am beauty. I am love. I am elegant.”

ELBEE I am elegant? Are you kidding me?

He continued, “I am excellent. I surrender to more love and joy than I have ever experienced.”

ELBEE His wife probably kicked him out of the house because all of his positivity was giving her a headache.

By the way, I think my eyes look fabulous.


GUS Oy vey!


Next time the daughters get on my case about going into the mountains to find myself, I’m going to tell them about this guy. I don’t have an issue with his affirmations but did he really have to share them with everyone within a ten mile radius.

Speaking of affirmations, I tried meditating for a period of time but I kept falling asleep. Someone told me that was avoidance. I told them it was boredom.

When I reached the top of the main trail, with him still over sharing somewhere in the distance, I sprinted up a little side trail. Since running is against my religion that should give you an idea of how uncomfortable I was.

I thought I had made a clean getaway when whom should I hear behind me but Mr. “I am. I am fine.” I turned around expecting to see him in some sort of robes or weird outfit. I admit I was kind of disappointed to see a royal blue hoodie and hiking shorts. Even worse he had a cell phone. To his credit, once he realized I was up there, he stopped chanting.

I have one more addition to the oddball list. This man, unlike the naked jogger, had all of his clothes on but no shoes. I don’t even want to imagine what the bottom of his feet looked like.

ELBEE Don’t quote me but I think Gwyneth Paltrow calls them “earthers.” 

Yentas by Proxy

In my June post A Different Dynamic, I wrote about how much Charley’s passing had changed the rhythm of the pack, especially during our walks. Now there is a new twist. It seems that two fluffy white dogs instead of three are less intimidating. People feel even more comfortable stopping to chat. And yes, I’m a yenta so I probably encourage it.

As soon as anyone approaches, Gus immediately cuddles up to them with tail wagging and a smile on his face. Elbee, as we know, is the canine answer to Mariah Carey. He will still sometimes do his obnoxious bark but he loves being noticed.

ELBEE Excuse me. I have a lot to say. If Pack Leader would pay attention, I wouldn’t have to repeat myself.

People get so comfortable petting the Doods that they talk about all sorts of personal things.

ELBEE Maybe because she brags to everyone we meet that we’re therapy dogs. 

One woman asked if I was a dog walker. When I said no, she looked a little disappointed. Then she explained that she needed help with her own dog because she was having shoulder problems. She was only putting off surgery because she had heart issues. We took off before I heard the rest of her medical history.

Then there was the woman working in the garden in front of her house. As she was petting Gus and Elbee, she went into a diatribe about her crazy neighbor across the street. If it was all true, I’m never walking over that way again.

A man passing by on a busy street suddenly stopped to see the dogs. After a casual conversation, he began sharing or maybe oversharing about his divorce and how it was all his fault. Apparently, he really wanted to win her back. I think he kept petting them so that I would commiserate or offer advice.

ELBEE She takes us for a walk and all of a sudden she’s “Dear Abby” of the street. What concerns me is that I’m becoming a yenta by association. Just look at this picture. And I’m starting to have a lot more opinions.




GUS I’m just a nice, friendly kid…kind of a people pleaser. I don’t know how I keep getting caught up in all of this stuff. I don’t want to be accused of aiding and abetting a yenta. Would I have to get the lawyer daughter to defend me?

Aside from all of the conversations, we get some very interesting commentary. An older man, possibly homeless (yes I’m judging) passed us and said, “Oh it’s the foofy dogs and the lady with the foofy hair.”



Perhaps my favorite was an elderly lady driving an “elderly” Mercedes who pulled up next to us and rolled down her window. As she puffed on a cigarette and coughed, she said, “You and the dogs add a lot of class to the neighborhood.”