Parade Jackie Blue


“Ooh, Jackie Blue, you like your life in a free-form style, you’ll take an inch but you’d love a mile, there never seems to be quite enough, floating around to fill your lovin’ cup.”  Ozark Mountain Daredevils

After we got Jack our blue nose pit bull, I started singing along to Jackie Blue.

“You have officially lost your mind,” said Brian.

Jack turns his head, looking at me, whenever I play Jackie Blue.

“That’s right, Jackie, they’re singing about you.”

He recognizes his name. He’s so smart. He was smart enough to find us, even though it was more on the side of good luck. The luck of the Puerto Rican man, our neighbor, who brought Jack into the neighborhood, ran out near the end of September, not long after we took the dog away from him.

I was getting back in bed after going to the bathroom in the middle of the night when I heard the most horrendous crash biss boom. Up until then it had been a quiet night. I jumped up and pulled open the curtain. A drunk driver had come down the middle of the road, swerved somehow, lost control, and smashed headfirst into a van parked across the street from our house.

Brian’s Honda Element was parked behind the van. Later on the car and the van had to be hauled away on flatbeds. They were both so demolished neither of them could be towed. Brian’s Honda was, by some miracle, untouched.

Even still, Brian said, “I’m never parking in the street again.” I ran outside. A minute later Brian came out with Jack. The girl who had been driving had gotten out of the car, barefoot, bawling, and on her phone. She was walking away down the street.

“Hey, get back here!” I shouted. “You can’t just walk away from an accident.”

“I was driving,” her friend said, getting out of the passenger side.

“Don’t take the fall, kid,” I said. “Don’t do it. As much as you love her, you’re in a big mess.”

I called the police.

When they finally showed up they talked to everyone out in the street. “What did you see?” they asked me.

“What I saw was the police station just down the street,” I said. “I called, like, fifty times. You guys got here a half-hour later. That girl’s friends got here faster than you. They picked her up and now she’s gone.”

I was a little mad at the police for taking their time. They took it in stride. That’s the way it is with the Cleveland Police Department.

“What did you see?” one of the uniforms asked me.

“I saw that the kid wasn’t driving,” I said. “He got out of the passenger seat.”

“Really,” the officer said.

“You know what,” I said. “If this kid wants to take the fall for that stupid girl, that’s fine, that’s his choice, but it’s your fault if he finally admits he wasn’t driving, then you’ve got no one.”

I never found out where the girl went when she left the scene of the crime, although I heard later she had gotten hurt, and her friends had probably taken her to a hospital.

After the crash we tried to wake up the Puerto Rican family. But, we could not wake those people up. Everyone finally took a window and started knocking on it. The guy eventually came out.

“I’m done,” he said when he saw his van. “That’s the last straw. I’m not even living here anymore.”

He had just gotten the van, but had not gotten insurance. It was the same thing with Jack, which is why we took his dog after Jack got parvo. You can’t have a dog and not take care of it. No shots means the dog is going to get sick. No insurance means there’s going to be a wreck.

In the next few weeks they packed up all their main stuff and moved. They left all the kid toys and kid bikes behind. They left a mess behind. They left a huge electric bill and a huge water bill.

“I was trying to give the guy a break, help him out,” said the landlord, who is Puerto Rican, too.

He ended up having to fix the huge mess they left behind.

They moved in with family members in North Olmsted, the last we heard. We never saw them again. We got Jackie, though.

When we take him for a walk it’s the Jackson Parade. He is so stinking cute. Life is too short to blend in. so that works for him. Everyone is “Hi, hi, hi.” Who hates puppies? Everyone loves puppies.

We were walking down the street one nice sunny day when Jack saw some bread on the sidewalk. The pieces of bread were covered with ants, but he started eating it, anyway.

“No, no, no,” said Brian.

He pried Jack’s mouth open to get the bread. The dog’s sharp little razor teeth, at the top of the jaw, slit into one of Brian’s fingers. “What are you thinking,” I said, “sticking your finger into his mouth? He’s a baby, so his teeth are razor sharp.”

Everybody loves Jackie. They want to see him, touch him, pet him, jump on the bandwagon, and that is fine and good, but he can’t be jumping up into their faces  “You live your life in a free-form style.” He just can’t do that.

It’s a problem we’ve been working on. He gets excited, jumps up, and smooches, but sometimes he leaves a love nip with his kiss. “You say it’s easy, just a natural thing,like playing music.”The problem is, when a dog jumps, he’s bound to land somewhere. He usually just catches a little tiny piece of your lip, but even that is too much.

He has to sit and be good. Except when he’s on the Jackson Parade, when he doesn’t have to sit, but still has to be a good dog.


Jumping Jack Flash


“I was born in a crossfire hurricane, and I howled at my ma in the driving rain.”  Rolling Stones

“You can’t do that, guy,” I said. “He’s only a month-or-so, too young to leave in the backyard.”

“I can do whatever I want,” he said.

He was an adorable puppy. Brian and I brought him treats and smooched him over the fence.

“No, you really can’t,” I said.

“You need to mind your own business,” he said. He was standoffish from the get go, not wanting to talk to us.

We had started to notice the puppy crying in the middle of the night, out all night.

“Dog rescue is my business,” I said. “This is my business right here.”

Needless to say, Brian and I and our neighbor, who was Puerto Rican, got off to a bad start. It didn’t help that there was a language barrier. Our immediate neighbors, also Puerto Rican, who we love, were helping by sort of translating a lot of what we were saying. I often didn’t have anything nice to say, so I asked them to not translate that.

He was young, in his 20s, married, with five kids. He had always wanted a blue nose pit bull, so he went and got himself one. He named him Jack. But, there was no shelter for the puppy, no water bowl outside.

“Did you get your dog vaccinated?”

“I don’t need to talk to you guys about what I do with my dog.”

“You kind of do. We have eight dogs. Your dog needs to be vaccinated.”

“If my dog ever goes missing, you’re the first people I’m going to send the police to,” he said.

“That would probably be a good place to start,” I said.

It got to the point where he and I wouldn’t talk. Brian and I would still stop at his fence, bring Jack doggie cookies, watch the dog jump, and watch him grow throughout the summer.

Oh, my God, I was in love with a pit bull!

I had always sworn I would never own one. Pit bulls are a breed you can definitely train for fighting. Once they lock their jaws on you, you can’t get it off. They clamp down. It makes them dangerous. Someone once told me to unlock a pit bull’s jaw you have to poke a finger up its butt.

Too many idiots breed them. It’s time to stop blaming the wrong end of the leash. That’s why we say not to shop and adopt. Too many idiots are breeding their own home brew of dog.

You never know what you’re getting.

He came to our front door one evening in early August. Jack was shaking, shivering, and soaking wet.

“Why is this dog soaking wet?” I asked.

“Please help me,” he said.

I wanted to say, what about the police, what about that situation, but I was more concerned about the dog.

“He hasn’t eaten in three days, and he’s throwing up and has diarrhea.”

“Did you ever finally vaccinate your dog?”

“I don’t know what you mean by vaccinations.”

“I mean, did you get your dog its first set of shots?”

“No,” he said.

“You big stupid asshole,” I said, and asked our neighbors to translate that.

“Your dog probably has parvo.”

Canine parvovirus is viral contagious deadly. The most common kind is intestinal, meaning a lack of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. It’s very serious, more often fatal than not. It all depends on how fast it’s diagnosed and treated.

“You waited three days?” That’s why I sometimes hate people.

“Well, here you go sport,” I said. “You didn’t get your dog his shots, which would have cost you a hundred bucks. Now it’s going to cost you fifteen hundred, and there’s no guarantee the dog will survive even taking him to the animal hospital.”

“I can’t afford fifteen hundred,” he said.

“I can’t afford fifteen hundred,” I said. “But the deal is, if I take the dog, and I pay for it, he’s my dog.”

We took him to the hospital the next morning. Jack had parvo. When the hospital people wanted to start yelling at us about animal cruelty, I told them it was a neighbor’s dog, a neighbor who had not gotten the dog his shots.

“Oh,” they said.

“What I’m worried about is, I’m going to get him through the parvo treatment, and they’re going to want him back.”

“Oh, no,” they said. “We’re going to put everything in your name, so if it does ever go to court, it will show you paid all the medical bills.”

He was there a week, recovering.  He won my heart. After that I was his mommy.

I felt bad when we took him. I believe the Puerto Rican man loved the dog. He never told his kids Jackie wasn’t coming back. They would ask, ”Can Jackie come over?”

“No, he can’t, because I don’t know what was in your yard that made him sick in the first place.”

Jack loved to play with the kids, at least until they moved away. When we walked him he always wanted to go back to their house. But, the Puerto Rican had no business having the dog. He didn’t take care of Jack, and he didn’t train him, either. That was the shame of it. Pit bulls are a powerful breed. Jack is a powerful dog. You have to train them.

He was a cute puppy and he’s growing up to be a handsome boy. He loves all the kids in the neighborhood, all the other dogs, and he never complains when I dress him in pj’s at night.

Jack was a jumping flash of a dog once he came to live with us.

He is always excited to see people. He likes to jump up and smooch. But, you can’t have a pit bull jumping up at your face. You just can’t.

“It’s fine,” everyone says.

“No, it’s really not fine.”

Everybody loves Jackie, but he’s not allowed to jump.

My Own MacGyver


“I don’t like to be jerked around like a big dog on a short leash. I’ve found from past experiences, that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable.” Angus MacGyver

We always tell Kirby he doesn’t have to do anything around the house. He does not have to earn his keep. But if he decides something is going to stimulate his brain, when he’s ready to put on his MacGyver hat, by all means go ahead, do whatever you want to do.

“It challenges my brain, thinking, working,” he said. You might win some, you might lose some, but when you challenge yourself you become a better person.

It’s joyful to have him around the house. He can be a big help. Except it wasn’t when I went looking for our Christmas ornaments.

We keep them in the garage. When I went to get them, though, I found out they weren’t there anymore. The garage was completely not our garage anymore. Nothing was where it used to be.

Kirby had decided to fix one wall of the garage. We bought him everything he needed, including cement. He moved everything, only he knew where. But then he got sick, got appendicitis, was out of commission, and then it got too cold to do any more work.

“We’re going to have to wait until summer for Kirby to finish,” I told Brian. In the meantime, everything was somewhere else. “I need my ornaments,” I said. We had to search all over. Kirby couldn’t remember where he had put anything.

Kirby is a jack-of-all-trades. He might not be brilliant at anything, but if you need him to do something, he can do it. He used to be an ironworker. Before he lost his house he took it all apart and put it back together.

Since he’s been living in our basement he’s painted the house, installed a dishwasher, and put our vanity in upstairs. He fixed our front porch, which used to bounce up and down walking across it. He got it done without even bracing anything underneath. No one’s fallen through the porch, so I’m OK with that.

He fixes light fixtures. Sometimes I come home and doorknobs will be mended. One day I came home and our living room was clean. I liked that.

He used to wear his hair in a Mohawk, but now it’s grown out and gone all wild. He looks like a chrysanthemum. He looks like Einstein, except taller, thinner, and with an earring and a necklace he loves, and tattoos. His back is all tattooed, stars, fire, wolves, moons, and a wrench.

A halfway decent haircut goes a long way, but he cuts his own hair. Whenever he gets tired of what it is he buzzes it down to nothing and starts all over again

He took apart my computer, put in new parts, and it works. A friend of ours brought over a heater. Kirby repaired it, put it back together, and it’s working better than ever. Our friend had to bring the heater to him because Kirby doesn’t like to leave the safety of our house.

He sleeps most of the day away since his heart is only working at half of what it used to. He gets tired. His brain only works at two-thirds speed. A third of it is kaput. He leaves the house only to go over to Pookie’s house a couple of blocks away and smoke pot.

When he comes home he likes to reminisce about when he and Brian were young, kids together, and all the crazy stuff they used to do. And that was before he grew up. It all went schizo for Kirby after his mother died. He got a house, but never paid the real estate taxes, and lost it. He inherited twenty thousand dollars, but threw it all away.

He bought a convertible to drive his girlfriend around in. He took her to Vegas. Las Vegas is a place where you make bad decisions. You can get married there in ten minutes and then it takes you ten years to get out of it after you get home. He spent everything on his girlfriend.

Right after Kirby got his twenty grand he came over to our house. “Can you open a safety deposit box for me?” he asked.

“Why do you want me to keep a safety deposit box for you? What do you want to put in it?”

“I have twenty grand in cash. I want you to keep it for me and don’t let me touch it.”

He looked serious, sounded serious, but that didn’t last long. He started coming over our house every week. He’d ring the bell and say, “I have to get to the bank.”

“Kirby! You told me not to let you touch that money.”

“I need it, Jewels, I need it.”

“If you want to be spending it all, throwing it away, it’s not my money, it’s your money. But you’re not going to have any left the way you’re taking it out,” I told him. I was serious. “You’re taking a thousand every other day.” Safety is what happens between your ears. It doesn’t happen in a metal box in a vault somewhere.

Inside of two months it was all gone.

He could have invested what he had, let money make money for him, but he wasn’t willing to listen to us, at all. Kirby is 50-years-old. He has nothing left. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, a convertible, or a house. Nothing

Kirby needs us. He doesn’t drive anymore. We run all his errands and buy all his food. He loves that I cook for him. One day I brought home turkey kielbasa.

“Jewels, how would I go about cooking this?” he asked.

“Why don’t you just ask me to cook it?” I said.

I cooked him a plate of kielbasa and he was happy for the night.

Nine to Five


“The dog is the god of frolic.” Henry Ward Beecher

We all went to Mexico this year, everybody from the salon, like we did two years ago for my birthday. Jody, her husband, me and Brian, Mel and Don, Francie and Steve, Cheryl and her husband, and Cathy, who roomed with Jody’s sister, Dani. We all stayed at the Ocean Maya Royale.

When I was going to turn 50 two years ago, Francie had an idea.

“Why don’t we all put $40.00 a week away and all of us go on vacation to Mexico for your birthday,” said Francie.

“Sure, let’s go,” I said.

That’s what we did. We went to Riviera Maya and had a great time. All except for Francie’s husband, Steve, who didn’t go with us that year.

“He asked me why I wanted to go to Mexico in the middle of January when there was snow to ski on,” said Francie. “Are you crazy, that’s a silly question, if you ask me. You go honey. I’m going to Mexico. He took one of my daughters and I took the other one.”

Last year Brian and I went to Mexico alone. It was his fiftieth, just me and him. This year we all went together again, this time including Steve.

The water at Ocean Maya Royale was rough in January and a lot of seaweed got churned up on the beach. It was the first time we’ve gone to the ocean and I haven’t gone in, because it was ugly. Brian and I spent our days at the pool.

Every morning we had breakfast early and were at the pool by nine. We stayed there until five o’clock. That’s how we did our vacation, nine to five. We had drinks during the day and whenever we needed to cool off we went into the pool. Then we’d go right back to our chairs.

Except one day when I was floating and Don and Greg had an idea. They started pushing my floatie across the pool to each other, until some guy finally asked, “Where do you want to go?”

“Away from these two idiots,” I said. “I’m tired of being played catch with.”

There was a lot of day drinking. People started drinking the first thing in the morning, mimosas, bloody marys, margaritas. Not me. I could only do a couple of froufrou drinks if I wanted to be up and running and have fun at night. Cheryl and Greg were great day drinkers. Dani powerhouse day-drank. She started at eleven. Powerhouse drinking is two-handed drinking.

A kid from Minnesota cracked us up one day at the pool. One of the bronzed Mexican kids working at the pool joked with him, “Why are you wearing a white t-shirt with pink nipples on it?” He was bare-chested. It was because he was so pale, as white as drywall.

There was a boatload of entertainment. The Magic Mike dance was a small Mexican dancer doing a routine and then you had to copy it. One night the Mexican Beatles hit the stage. Another night was Karaoke Night, which was horrible. One Mexican kid sang Sweet Caroline, “Toching hands, toching me, toching you.” There was a duo who just could not sing. We listened to some of it, but then my ears started to bleed. It was bad.

The lusty couple was bad entertainment, too, but we couldn’t keep our eyes off them. He was gray-haired, a big belly, and 60-something. She was in her late 20s, not great looking, and wore a thong over a cottage cheese butt. They entertained themselves at the pool, pulling their chairs up the lip of the tiles, and putting on a sexual show.

She sat on top of him, straddling him, facing him. It was gross. We were horrified, but couldn’t stop watching. We were in the water once when they decided to take a dip.

“Watch out, grossness has entered the pool,” Brian warned everybody.

There were foam parties at the pool, when everybody was in the water, and they brought out a blowing machine that blew bubbles everywhere. Everyone got covered by them. It was like a giant bubble bath.

Other times we had live music and they threw balloons in the water, twisty balloons, and floaties.

One day Brian and Rich went out in a fishing boat. Somebody had told them they had been catching 50, 60 fish. It was five hundred dollars for the excursion. Brian came back with two fish. Rich came back with no fish.

We left the resort a couple of times to eat at Coco Cabanas. One of Rich’s friends had told him about it. On the way I thought, looking around, we’re going to be kidnapped and held for ransom.

But, once we got there, they had the best salsa, best food, fajitas, brick oven pizza, and the best margaritas. According to somebody the secret ingredient in the margaritas was infused pot. They were great margaritas, infused or not. Nobody was feeling bad. There were hammocks in the back that you could lay around and swing in after dinner. We all did that.

I fed their dog, who was a strange mix of Dachshund and Labrador. He liked the pizza crusts. But they caught me and told me not to feed her table scraps.

There was a little earthquake one night. Francie and Steve were up and felt the rumbling. Cheryl had a 12-hour flu and it woke her up. “Oh, my God, why is the bed shaking,” she wondered. The next night we got a text from Jody’s brother that there was a tsunami watch for Cancun. “We’re all going to die,” we thought, so we went out drinking.

They called off the watch but we kept drinking.

We love Mexico. You get the most bang for your buck there, but we’ve been thinking of trying someplace new, like Costa Rica or Jamaica. I would love to go to Amsterdam. I wonder what the weather in January is like there?

Maybe sometime in the summertime might be better.

Bad Moon Rising


“My walk on the moon lasted three days. My walk with God will last forever.” Charles Duke

Kirby and his big bulldog, Louie, have been living in our basement for half a year, ever since last summer, when Brian rounded them up. There’s not a lot he does, or can do. A chunk of his brain is missing. He can’t work. He’s got heart disease, so he spends a lot of time going to the doctor.

The rest of the time he smokes dope.

I have no issue with pot, even though neither Brian nor I take drugs. I think it should be legalized for many reasons. Smoking pot seems to be helping Kirby’s heart. The last time I took him to his cardiologist the doctor said Kirby was getting better.

“I don’t know what you’re doing, but your heart is getting healthier,” he said. “I didn’t expect that to happen.”

Kirby forget things, maybe because of his brain surgery. It’s like the first stage of Alzheimer’s.

One day he was eating an apple. He didn’t finish it, setting it down on the kitchen counter. I thought, OK, should I say something, like get your apple? No, I think I’ll wait to see where his head is.

Kirby watched some TV, did this and that, went downstairs and came back up. By the end of the day what was left of the apple was brown. I threw it away

The next morning he came up and said, “Jewels, I just had an apple. Have you seen it?”

“No, sweetie, that apple was yesterday.”

“Really? I swear I can taste it, like I just bit into it.”

“I wouldn’t trick you Kirby. It got gross. I threw it away.”

“Oh. Sorry, Jewels.”

“It’s OK.”

After Thanksgiving we had to take him to his doctor to get his medicines changed up. When we did, the next week he started vomiting. We thought it’s probably the medicine change. We got him some food and he ate, and got all fattened up again.

I called him from work.

“How are you feeling?”

“I just ate a pizza.”

“So you probably don’t want any of the Kung Pao chicken I’m bringing home?”

“I love Chinese,” he said.

After work, which was a ten to nine day, I was sitting on our living room couch, having Kung Pao, when Kirby came up from the basement, doubled over, holding his stomach. “You’ve got to take me to the hospital,” he said. Is it the flu? Is it the medicine again? Is it the pizza and the chicken?

Is it the full moon? My mom was a nurse, she worked in the ER sometimes, and whenever there was a full moon she said, “Oh, shit, it’s a full moon.”

It affects emergency rooms most. If you’re going to have a drug overdose, if you’re going to have something go wrong inside your body, if you’re going to have a freak accident, the full moon is going to make it happen. It’s crazy in emergency rooms whenever there’s a full moon

If you’re going to go nuts, have an episode, boom! You shoot for the moon and land on the roof.

I dropped him off at Fairview Hospital. The ER was packed. “Get in there,” I said. “Don’t sit around. At least get seen.” Kirby shuffled inside.

I sat in my car in the parking lot for an hour, waiting, getting pissed. I called Brian. ”I might have to drag someone out of the ER,” I said. “I’m going to have to beat someone if they don’t tell me what’s going on.”

“We’ll switch out,” he said. “Just come home. I’ll go take care of Kirby. You come home.” It was 1:30 in the morning by the time Brian got home.

“What is it, the flu?” I asked.

“I told them to stop looking at his brain or his heart and look at his gut, which is what was giving him trouble,” said Brian. “When they came back they said, he’s going to have a ruptured appendix here soon. He needs an operation.”

It was wildly inflamed. They took it out in the morning.

I felt horrible. What kind of a caregiver am I? It never clicked with me, although I knew a lot of adults have flu symptoms when they have appendicitis.

We went to visit him. He was sore and queasy, but all right. They did it laparoscopically, so it was going to be a fast heal.

On Tuesday, back at work, Regina, the new girl at the front desk, stopped me and said, “There’s an envelope here for you. It has your name on it. I keep forgetting to give it to you.”

I thought, someone probably forgot to tip me and they felt bad, ran in and dropped it off. I was on break later on, having lunch in the back room, not thinking about anything, when Regina came in.

“Here’s that envelope.”

I opened it, expecting a few dollars for me. I found a sheet of paper.

“You have opened your heart and your home to someone less fortunate and are taking care of him. I’m sure your bills have doubled, so please take this, and God Bless You.”

Inside the folded sheet of paper were five one hundred dollar bills.

Even before I was done reading I was bawling like a crazy person. I called Brian.

“What’s the matter? Why are you crying?”

I took a picture of the money with my phone and texted it to him. He called me back.

“Julie, that is so beautiful, it just shows you how good God is.”

Whoever it was went to a lot of trouble to make it an anonymous gift. We could have checked the surveillance cameras in the shop, but I didn’t want to disrespect what they had done.

Kirby was back home in our basement, feeling better. He would probably feel even better if I brought some Kung Pao home after work, something to get his spirits and strength back up.


Leader of the Pack


“I don’t think twice about picking up my dog’s poop, but if another dog’s poop is next to it, I think, ‘Ew, dog poop!’” Jonah Goldberg

When we took Baby to the Cleveland Cutest Dog Contest, it turned out that not only was he the only Leonberger in the bunch, he was the cutest of the bunch. We took Grayson, our little Lab, too. He wanted to go in the worst way, but we didn’t enter him in the contest, even though he is almost as cute as Baby.

He was happy tagging along.

The contest was at Edgewater Park. It’s part of the Cleveland Metroparks Reservation, about 150 acres of parkland and 9000 feet of shoreline on Lake Erie, fifteen minutes from where we live just south of it on the west side. There’s a fishing pier, picnic areas, and even a dog beach next to the swimming beach.

There were lots of dogs who turned out. Everyone was supposed to write a little about their dog, including their name, breed, and age. We wrote a biography of Baby for the contest, which ended up being mostly about how he has his own bachelor pad and what he does for fun. He was everyone’s favorite. We stood in the long line winding along the lake and through the parking lot to the photo shoot. All the dogs were so good, all standing in line, waiting their turn.

Brian and I scoped out the competition.

“We have this in the bag,” I told him.

It sounds horrible, but we did. I was sure of it.

“We’ll send you a free digital copy of the portrait,” somebody said from’s photography staff, after Baby sat on his haunches tall and proud for his portrait.

After he got his picture taken, I wanted to go through the line to see all the other dogs. There were more than two thousand of them. Since Brian pretty much lets me do whatever I want to do, and he, of course, wanted to see all the dogs, too, we walked back down the line, petting all the dogs as we were leaving the park.

Baby is not usually interested in other dogs, not normally. But, as we went down the line, talking to people and petting their dogs, Baby suddenly stopped. At his feet was a puppy. “Oooooh, puppy,” he thought. You could hear him thinking. He just scooped the other dog up. He fell in love on the spot.

When Baby found his puppy love everyone around us was, “Oh, my God, look how cute he is!”

“Aargh,” said the puppy mom. Baby was easily twenty times his size.

“C’mon Baby, we have to go,” I said.

Leonbergers are bred to look like lions, even though they’re sweet as lambs. But, Baby didn’t want to go. He kept saying no no no. He was being stubborn. He’s the kind of family dog who loves everyone, especially kids and puppies, even though they are themselves guard dogs and search and rescue dogs. He’s loyal and courageous, but he’s mostly a gentle giant.

He loves cuddles. Want a cuddle? He’s your dog!

A lady standing nearby took pictures of the puppy and Baby together. She somehow found me on Facebook, found my phone number, and texted me the pictures.

If you were a dog lover, it was a great day. I never checked the web site afterwards to see if we made the cut for cutest dog of all time. It didn’t matter in the end. We had a great time.

We take Baby everywhere. He’s been to parades, to the Irishfest, and the Germanfest. Everywhere we take him people take pictures of him. If I started charging a buck a picture we would be rich.

The Cleveland Indians have a Pup-a-looza night in the middle of the summer that you can bring your dog to, to the game. Our dogs are just like kids at the ballpark. They want hot dogs and ice cream, so we get them hot dogs and ice cream.

We took Baby to a Cleveland Monsters game. It was seriously cold, but he has plenty of shaggy dog hair to deal with winter. He could play in snow all day, no problem.

The Monsters are the American Hockey League minor league team of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, They play at Quicken Loans Arena downtown, the same place where LeBron James leads the Cleveland Cavaliers..

We were walking up to the arena when a Cleveland Police horse with a cop on top stopped beside us.

“I know that dog,” the cop said.

“I know that horse,” I said.

Walking in, strolling along the concourse, and inside the arena finding our seats, Baby was calm and laid back at our side. It was Pucks and Paws Night. Dog Night.

My brother had given us his tickets. There was one section reserved for everyone who had brought dogs. Lots of people who didn’t have dogs wandered into our section, wanting to see the dogs. When it got too crowded we walked around the arena and finally traded in our tickets for seats in the nosebleed section.

Baby loved the game, watching the players speed across the ice, changing direction at the drop of a hat. He was mesmerized, except when he looked straight down, which is when he got seasick

When the third period started he wanted to go down, so we went down to the first level. We stood behind the last row of the first level. A man in front of us was eating a hot dog. Baby’s head was right there, right at his shoulder, ready to get the hot dog, although he didn’t. I took a picture, and before I knew it everyone was taking selfies with Baby.

We could have made a fortune that night.

The Monsters won the game and everyone went home happy. We waved goodbye to the cop on the horse. Baby slept like a log that night, not that he doesn’t sleep like a bump on a log every night.

More the Merrier


“I once decided not to date a guy because he wasn’t excited to meet my dog. I mean, this was like not wanting to meet my mother.” Bonnie Schacter

When Brian said he had rescued another dog, I said, “No, I can’t take it anymore, we don’t have room, I can’t do it.”

We did it.

When we got Herman, who we call Hermie, he was less than four months old. He looked like a baby deer. He was scared to death of people, for good reason. His first toy was a little pig. He loved that pig. When he got bigger, and came out of his shell, he started looking better, although he started looking like the Joker.

Baby and Grayson are his best buddies, although Hermie and Veruka are always beating up on Baby. He will let Hermie and Veruka take food right out of his mouth. Baby is just so sweet and gentle. He lets Hermie sleep with him, keeping him warm.

Anyone would think Pebbles might do that, too, because she’s fleshy, but she doesn’t. She’s an 80-pound turkey. She’s gross, a fat whore. She just lets it all hang out.

When we were in Mexico, Kristen was watching our dogs, but my friend Jimmy had to take over after she got the flu. When Kristen was baby-sitting she sent us cute pictures of our dogs every day. The picture we got from Jimmy wasn’t so cute. It was a picture of Hermie lounging out on the couch with Jimmy, his legs spread-eagled. He was hanging with Jimmy, the original hanger-out.

I texted him, “Dude, don’t do that to my dog.” No bad habits, please.

Brian found Hermie on West 25th Street, near St. Malachi’s. It’s a Catholic church from back in the 1860s, tucked into what’s called the Old Angle. They do a Monday Night Meal and have a Back Door Ministry and once a month they stage a Peace Walk from the church to Public Square. Someone told Brian there was a small shivering dog on a fence near the church. Brian got a blanket, spotted him, and scooped him up.

I was driving when Brian called me. “There’s a puppy out here,” he said. “He’s tiny, shivering.”

“No, I can’t take on anymore,” I said. “I can’t do it.”

“OK,” he said. “I’ll send him to the shelter.”

“Oh, I hate to do that,” I said. “No, don’t do it, not the shelter..”

St. Malachi’s used to be Cleveland’s port church The cross on top of the steeple was always lit up to guide ships on Lake Erie into the harbor. After the church burnt down in 1943 and was rebuilt, the cross on the spire has been lit ever since, even though it doesn’t really have to be anymore.

When I got home Brian had the dog on our bed. He was blond and taupe, with a long snoot, so he looked like a baby fawn. He was afraid to move. When he saw me he peed on the sheets. I had to wash them.

At first, whenever he heard our dogs barking, he would freak out, and start to shudder and shake. But then he got curious and started going to the baby gate that keeps the dogs out of the dining and living rooms and away from the upstairs rooms. After a few days we could tell what he was thinking, which was, you guys are OK.

We started letting him mingle with the other dogs, who at first were, no, no, we’re fine, we don’t need anybody new, but he persisted, and played with all of them, who accepted him, even Pebbles and our Husky, and he definitely came into his own.

No matter how much he’s grown since we got him, when I take him with me to visit my step-dad and mom’s house, they right away think he’s too thin.

“Oh, he’s so skinny,” said my mom.

They can’t stand it, so they started feeding him potato chips and ham. That’s what they feed Izzy, the Pomeranian I gave my mom to keep her company. They feed Izzy donuts, too. They just can’t stand to see a skinny dog. Izzy’s dog food is always spilling out of her bowl because she doesn’t eat it.

She waits for creampuffs, instead.

In the summer we started taking care of Kirby and his dumb dog, when Kirby absolutely needed a place to get back on his feet. After he and Louie moved into our basement, we had eight dogs in the house, including Hermie. With everything else going on, I needed another dog like I needed a hole in the head.

My mom was having teeth pulled and replaced by dentures. It was going to be better for her, but it was a struggle for me, getting her to go the dentist’s office. Whenever I got her there, and we were leaving afterwards, and I asked her – “Are you OK, mom?” – the answer was always never good.

“Jay, I am never going to the dentist again,” she would say.

When my shoulder started hurting, I went to Orthopaedic Associates in Westlake. After they examined me they told me I needed a cortisone shot.

“You have bursitis of the rotator cuff,” my doctor said.

When I went back Hermie kept me company. They stuck a huge needle into my arm. Back in the car Hermie’s eyes got big and round.

We still don’t know what kind of a dog Hermie is. We asked our vet, but that wasn’t much help. I was hoping he wasn’t going to be much bigger than when we found him, but he outgrew himself in no time. Eight months later he is large. At first I could hold him in one arm. Now I’ve got to have two hands to hold him back, and one of those hands is attached to my bad arm.

He’s a wonderful dog, but he can be a load.