Rock On!

ELBEE Many of you know that as much as I enjoy hiking, I am hesitant to go alone with Pack Leader. (See 7/11/2016 Post: “I Am Never Hiking with that Lunatic Again”). One time I faked a paw injury to get out of it. Another time I ate grass and made myself throw up. And no, I do not have body issues. 

Recently, against my better judgement, I gave in and went with her and found out something disturbing. She has a new obsession with rock formations! Seriously?

No, not these rocks. That’s just her showing off.







Excuse me, let me explain. Over the past few months, I have noticed all sorts of man-made rock formations. Well, to keep the daughters on their toes, I told them I thought they may have been created by aliens.

CHARLEY Not to be rude, but these rock monuments have been around for a long time. I’ve even seen them. 



The youngest daughter and the middle daughter immediately remarked that it reminded them of the Blair Witch Project. I wouldn’t know because I can’t watch scary movies. I’d run out of the room screaming whenever the kids had them on. Oh, and hand held camera makes me throw up.

THE DOODS That is over sharing and embarrassing!

One of the first formations I noticed was a heart, later turned into a horseshoe.

Then I saw several that seemed like random piles of rocks but had obviously taken some effort. I remarked to my hiking buddy Mary, the one who is surprised and a little disappointed that we’ve never found a body, that maybe people were just adding their two rocks worth.

THE DOODS OMG! If that was a joke, it was lame.













ELBEE What Pack Leader is not sharing is that she and Mary built the one on the bottom right. That is just sad.

Now look at this one. Someone took the time to balance it on top of a sign

And imagine the thought involved in creating the two formations below. They both seemed to fit beautifully in the mountains, especially the peace sign.







CHARLEY That’s a peace sign? I thought it was a Mercedes emblem.

ELBEE I discussed this whole rock thing with Charley and Gus. We decided that people, unlike us hard working dogs, have way too much time on their hands.

The Bowser

As Elbee and I were “making rounds” at Providence Hospital, a young man named Holden came running down the hall to ask if we would visit his younger brother. When we got to the room we met Fred and also their mom Amanda. Turns out that all three were total animal lovers!

With Elbee on the bed cuddled next to Fred, the hospital room seemed to disappear as we told stories and showed photos of our dogs. Both of the boys were planning to become veterinarians. Holden had even studied videos on You Tube so that he could deliver their dog’s puppies. Now that was impressive.

As I occasionally do when talking about the Doods, I mentioned that Charley was in the movie I Love You Man.

ELBEE Occasionally?? She has gotten more mileage out of that cameo than some actresses have gotten out of their Oscars.

Okay, so maybe I do drop it into conversation every chance I get, but their reaction was beyond anything that had ever happened before. The three of them stopped talking, stared at me, and then shouted “OMG you’re the bowser!” The level of excitement in the room skyrocketed.

ELBEE For those of you who have not seen her “blink and you might miss it” cameo in the movie, I’ll explain. Jason Segal’s character points at Pack Leader walking with Charley and calls her a “bowser,” his name for people who look like their dogs. 

The bowser and her look alikes

As I stood there in disbelief, thrilled that my 15 minutes weren’t up, Amanda started quoting lines from the film. A few years ago she had been very ill and feeling really down. A relative offered to bring her a movie that would cheer her up. That movie was I Love You Man.

As she watched it over and over, it became a big part of her healing process. She even showed it to the boys when they were old enough to see it. Our whole interaction was so much fun. For a brief period, the stress of being in a hospital was gone. I may have made their day but they definitely made mine. I was truly touched to have been a small part of something that was so significant to them.











Grandma’s Got “Guns”

The greatest thing happened at the gym. I hate to brag but I had just done 200 pounds on the leg press when a normal, working out kind of guy went over to use the machine.img_0590

20160209_171423-1_resizedDOODS We have to admit that we are a little impressed but saying she “hates” to brag. Really?

As I was saying, he saw how much weight I’d been using, walked over to me, punched his chest twice and said “respect.” That may be one of the coolest compliments I’ve ever received. It ranks up there with the gay friend who told me I was a “timeless woman.” I only mention he was gay because I feel that no one compliments a woman like a gay man.

The gym comment actually meant a lot because I have been on a mission to regain my strength after an injury. A few years ago I tore my rotator cuff in yoga.

20160404_140354_resizedCHARLEY In yoga? That is just embarrassing. I don’t advocate lying but in this case it wouldn’t hurt.

After laying off weight lifting for an extended time and then starting from scratch a year ago, it’s been exciting to find out that all my years of bodybuilding really did build muscle memory. Even though my only goal was to regain strength, people have been commenting on my arms getting bigger. I knew I was making progress when the oldest daughter said, “Oh no, you’re not thinking of competing again!”


THE DOODS Okay, she looks good but why is she sitting in the closet flexing? Also, we’re more concerned with the other memory, the one that makes sure she feeds us on time.

On a serious note, I think that strength in a woman is crucial. As a passenger in a head on car accident when I was pregnant with the youngest daughter, now the mother of two, I had near fatal injuries, including a large blood clot on the brain. The long recovery process left me as a 90 pound weakling. Physically and mentally, weight lifting helped lead me back. More in my next post.




Oy Vey


Last Wednesday was Yom Kippur. As far as holidays go, that’s a really big one. It’s a day of atonement, reflection, remembrance, fasting (some of us are not so great at that). Unfortunately, it was also my regular day to bring a Dood into UCLA Medical Center to cheer up the patients. To make matters worse, Gus and his friend Tommy, an adorable Bichon, had been requested for a very special visit.

I was in a Jewish quandary. Would going into the hospital, a good deed referred to as a mitzvah, make up for my total lack of traditional observance? I called Tommy’s person Donna who was having the same dilemma. We decided that dealing with the Jewish guilt would be worth it because what the dogs do is so important.


GUS Excuse me, did anyone ask me or Tommy how we felt about this?

As it turned out, the visits were a huge success. Tommy and Gus brought so much joy. People were laughing, smiling, picking up the dogs and cuddling them. And on a a bright note none of us was hit by lightening and we all made it home safely.


Later in the day to add insult to injury or to celebrate the holiday, depending on your perspective, I hiked up into the mountains, my own spiritual place. I needed to see the ocean. My brother’s ashes and those of my dearest friend Eileen, both of whom passed away too young, are in the Pacific. Looking out over the water is my special way to connect with them. I stood on a hill with tears of remembrance rolling down my face.


I made it down the trail unscathed, no bruises, scratches, broken bones. I decided that was an excellent sign. Then it dawned on me. My mother had died 47 years ago to the day. I had to believe she was up there shaking her head, but smiling at me.



Pit Bulls, Parolees and a Doodle


Charley has quite the resume, especially for a dog. He was in the movie I Love You Man. He’s been in several parades.


He’s been on TV, in magazines and newspapers. He worked at an academy awards gifting suite.

He was even in the Bedhead pajama catalog.

Image 16







CHARLEY I regret that I’ve never been asked to do a radio interview. I actually think I could pull it off.

What few people know is that he was on the tv show Pit Bulls and Parolees, a program about a woman who rescues Pit Bulls and has parolees help train and rehabilitate them.

20160525_091431_1472427293345_resizedELBEE I’m sure Pack Leader was wondering if there was an audience for her blog in prison.


During our episode a parolee was testing a large Pit Bull to be a therapy dog. Charley and I were there as the neutral dog team.  It’s the exercise in the Pet Partners evaluation where the two teams approach, the handlers greet each other, and the testing team then walks on by. The dogs aren’t supposed to show more than passing interest in each other.

Unfortunately, Fido, the Pit Bull and Fred the parolee (fake names) failed the test. After walking by, “Fido” circled back to get Charley. A big no no.

CHARLEY I was terrified. I’m a lover not a fighter.

Since the producers knew the outcome, when they were editing the show, they made a big dramatic deal about the neutral dog exercise coming up. “Fred” had to say how nervous he was about it. It was like the obligatory part of a cooking show where someone says, “this is a disaster.” As they went to commercial, they had a shot of big, scary Charley with a kind of Jaws music playing.

  20161006_193948_resized CHARLEY It was humiliating, almost as humiliating as this shirt.

After “Fido” failed, they went to “Fred” for reaction.  He commented that the big, fluffy white dog had been their downfall. Maybe I should have used fake names for me and Charley instead.

Fortunately he was a very sweet parolee and said he totally understood. Hey, maybe he would like my blog.





I Could Have Been a Contender


ELBEE Look at all of these trophies. Don’t I look fabulous with them? Hold your applause. I was set up by a certain Pack Leader. “Why” is a whole other issue.

I had my chance at glory a few years ago when she took me to agility class. I was a natural. I conquered every piece of equipment almost immediately. I ran through tunnels, flew through weave poles, jumped through tires. I started having visions of trophies and TV interviews. Then, a few weeks into class things changed.

OK, I admit that I may have ruined Elbee’s dreams of glory.  At first it was going  great. I just had to help him with the various stations and cheer him on. We were a team. Then I found out there were going to be two major problems.

First, I was going to have to run around the course with Elbee. As some of you know, running is against my religion. Second, I was supposed to memorize the course so I could lead him around as I was running. This was a recipe for disaster. My sense of direction is worse than my running.

20150131_151713_1472427295661_resizedTHE DOODS She’s not kidding. When we walk in unfamiliar areas with her, we pee on trees so that we can find our way back.

When the time finally came, we were given ten minutes to memorize the course. I panicked. I’m more of a verbal than a visual kind of learner.  Even when I did bodybuilding routines I had to write down every move.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s why I’ve never been asked to appear on Dancing with the Stars. It would take forever to teach me the routines because I wouldn’t be able to pick them up just by watching.

ELBEE Excuse me, Dancing with the Stars? I admit that sometimes I don’t recognize the “stars,” but Pack Leader had a cameo in I Love You Man. What is she thinking? And will you look at this picture. Charley should be on the show. His photo was in the table of contents of The Saturday Evening Post right below Dancing with the Stars! Coincidence? I don’t think so.


I’m sorry to say that Elbee and I became agility drop outs. Even the teacher was sorry to see us go because she got a big laugh out of watching me get lost on the course.

ELBEE For the record, P.L. became a drop out. I didn’t have a ride so I was forced to quit. The good news is that Charley and Gus backed me up and refused to ever watch an agility competition again.



Aren’t You That Lady?

As a mother, especially as the mother of girls, I’ve always believed that you should have your own identity and not live vicariously through your children. Becoming a competitive bodybuilder may have been a little over the top but it certainly helped.

20160525_091431_1472427293345_resized ELBEE Oh no, I can just feel it. Another photo is about to  emerge from the archives. Wait for it. Wait for it…


ELBEE I told you!

20160404_140354_resizedCHARLEY OMGPlease tell me she isn’t drying her hair and flexing!



Living vicariously through the Doods is a completely different story. After a recent identity crisis when I was hiking alone and several people said they almost didn’t recognize me without the dogs, I realized that it was okay. Just about every time I go out without one of them I either hear, “Where are they?” or “Aren’t you the lady with the dogs?” Looking back, I don’t remember strangers asking, “Aren’t you the lady with the kids?”

Unlike the daughters who can go either way (just kidding girls, no need to sue), therapy dogs can only make you look good. Instead of guilt by association, it’s reflected glory. All I do is hold their leashes while they do all the work.

Without the dogs, the only times I ever hear the words, “bless you” are if I sneeze. Working with the Doods, I’ve heard them more times than I can remember.

When I tap on a patient’s door to see if they’d like a visit, they often look confused or not that excited to see me. When they realize I have a dog with me it’s a complete 180. Usually there’s a big smile and “yes, I’d love a visit.”

I don’t take it personally. After all, a rabbi at Providence Hospital told me they were his competition. Shameless showoff that I am, I had Elbee say his prayers for him.20160828_202244_1472487044105_resized

And a spiritual leader looked very upset when she had to tell me that a patient wanted to see the dogs instead of her.

Doctor Doods help out
Doctor Doods

THE DOODS Can we help it if we have a gift?

We do have a bone to pick. (That expression always cracks us up). If one more person says that our hair looks just like Pack Leader’s, we may be the ones who have an identity crisis.














A Funny Thing Happened at the Drive-Thru

Hike with Dennis

A few days ago I was at a trailhead waiting for a friend to go hiking. While I was standing there, I started chatting with a young woman who was also waiting for a friend. Turns out both of them were stuck in “back to school” traffic.

This lovely stranger and I got into a wonderful philosophical conversation about hiking. We shared stories, compared different hikes, and both agreed how spiritual and restorative it was to be out in nature. In short, we bonded. Soon after, my friend arrived so I said goodbye and started up the canyon. By the way this is only marginally a dog story.

Yesterday, after spending the morning with Elbee at an adult health center, I was driving home, made a wrong turn and passed a fairly new McDonald’s that I had never been to and had actually never even seen before. It was at least 15 miles from my house and nowhere near the area where I hike.

20160819_095317_1471632427797_resizedELBEE Excuse me, wasn’t this post supposed to be about me and my great accomplishments not about me just sitting in the car. If I could get my license I would really branch out.  And is there a point to this story?



I was tired from our morning at work, so with Elbee in  the car, I headed to the drive thru for my guilty pleasure…McDonald’s mocha frappe. For what it’s worth, I get a small and leave off the whip cream but it’s like the energy drink of fast food. My son-in-law refers to it as my “crack.” I don’t even want to know what’s in it. By the way, there is a point to this story. I know if you’re like the daughters, you’re probably rolling your eyes by now.

Dealing with all of my guilt, I placed my order and drove up to the second window to pay. You’ll never guess who was behind the window. The young woman from the trail! We broke into huge smiles and greeted each other like long lost friends. It was a moment.

Talk about a small world. Call it synchronicity or serendipity, what are the chances?

ELBEE 20160722_142050_1469301227649_resizedCall it boring. Aren’t I the real story here, even in these stupid glasses?








Can Dogs Do Laundry?

Walking with the Doods seems to unleash creativity. I’ve heard that it’s the rhythm of your steps that allows ideas to flow more freely. On the other hand, it could be that the dogs are a captive audience. They listen without judging.


CHARLEY I hate to admit this. We do judge but we talk among ourselves. We know that Pack Leader is a little sensitive.


The problem is that if I don’t stop to make notes on my phone, all of my brilliant ideas are long gone before I get to the car. The other day I was thinking, wouldn’t it be great if the Doods could take dictation. I could talk while I walked and they could get it all down.


ELBEE Hold the phone! I have a few things to say. First, I really hope that remark about “unleashes” wasn’t a play on words. That’s just embarrassing. Second, my phone comment was LOL. About the dictation thing, I’m speechless. 

Then I thought, with all of their talents, I could really put the Doods to work. For instance, Charley and Elbee can “counter surf.” They stand on their hind legs, put their paws on the counter and walk around the kitchen. Fortunately, Gus is too short. Yes, I know it’s very bad behavior (one day they grabbed a whole chicken) but it’s kind of funny and could be helpful.

I mean look at these pictures of Elbee standing up to get something out of the sink. I wouldn’t expect him to cook but who’s to say he couldn’t wash dishes?




ELBEE Really? Wash dishes?? I watch the Cooking Channel so often I could probably win Chopped.




Gus has this habit of stealing  my clothes out of the closet and hiding them behind the ottoman that we refer to as his “throne.” Maybe I could teach him to help with the laundry.

GUS It was bad enough when I was a puppy and PL took my picture in a shopping cart at Target, but in a laundry basket? 









CHARLEY & ELBEE We feel for the little guy. We’re afraid he’s going to have a lot of emotional issues when he gets older. 

And since they all love to pee on the grass and dig, why not have them garden?

THE DOODS Now she’s finally making some sense!