Back in the dog house for chewing a cushion

My mom had a contractor come do some work on her kitchen and bathroom. Since he was connected to two people she knows and trusts, she left him alone while she went off to one of her events this evening.

And since he’s been a dog owner, she said, “Just put Gracie in her crate when you leave.” She figured if he can remodel a home he can figure out how to put a dog into a crate.


He decided to show some initiative. He left me alone with one of our favorite cat cushions. I loved it.

When my mom came home the crate was filled with this cottony stuff. “I hope you didn’t eat it,” she said to me in a very stern tone.

Then she took this photo.

I guess I’ll be going commando again next time, as discussed in this earlier post.

A dog who knows words? Who cares?

My mom just read me this article from the New York Times. Sit. Stay. Parse. Good Girl!

Apparently there’s a border collie on the East Coast who knows over 1000 words.

“See, Gracie?” she said. “I need to work with you on learning more things. So far you haven’t fully mastered coming when called. Don’t you feel a little…um, underachieving?”

Who’s kidding who? I never feel like an underachiever. I am a Canine Urban Princess – a CUPPIE in good standing. I don’t need to learn all those words. I just follow Cathy’s actions.

In fact, I am actually almost psychic.

Yesterday my mom was going out in the evening. She just signed up to take an improv class up at Jet City Improv. Fortunately I can’t go because I realize this is yet another activity at which my mom will fail to excel. So far, there’s been pottery, dancing and now…acting. She just doesn’t know when to quit.

But I digress. We went to the park around 3 PM. My mom urged me to run and play, even though there weren’t any other dogs worthy of my attention. And I’m not getting any younger. Even our good friend Lindsay noticed I’m getting more gray around the muzzle. Okay, I got in a few sprints. But I’m conserving my energy for tomorrow’s trip to the good park with my Aunt Sara and the nice dogs in my regular pack.

So we went home and my mom pretended to work at her computer. I can tell because while she works I sleep on my special cushion, right behind her. The fat Ophelia sleeps right next to me on a separate cushion.

Then the mom tried to fool me into a walk. She didn’t change her clothes. She made a big point of casually saying, “Want to go for a walk?”

I wasn’t fooled. I knew this was a Walk Before Gracie Goes Into The Crate. So as we walked home I dug in my paws and looked stubborn. Everybody passing by made a wisecrack, like, “Who’s walking who?” and “Doesn’t want to go home, does she?” Some people thought I was cold and didn’t want to be out walking.

Although I thoroughly embarrassed my mom, I still had to go home and yes, get stuffed in my crate. My mom put some peanut butter in my kong toy but I wasn’t fooled. I knew I was in for a few hours of serious crate time.

“Gracie, there’s no argument here!” my mom said. “The vet says you’ll get really sick if you keep chewing things. You’re hardly a deprived dog. Millions of dogs would trade places with you in a heartbeat. I bet those dogs from Michael Vick’s ranch would love to be in a nice crate with peanut butter instead of fighting with other dogs.”

Yeah, right. I think she’s reassuring herself. As soon as she closes the door, I scarf down the peanut butter and go to sleep. When she comes home, I’m out of the crate, tail wagging, ready to settle down for the night on my mom’s bed after our final, final walk, which I enjoy immensely and never argue about. See, I know? It’s a tough life but at least I can read between the lines.

The crate is back

Well, I guess my mom can relax a little more when I go out. The folks at sent us a new door for my crate, with a latch that closes nice and tight. I can feel secure!

My mom managed to unwrap the package. Then she looked at the old door.

“How the [blank] do I get this thing off?” she wondered. “Maybe I can bribe your Aunt Sara to help. And your Uncle Lance may be stopping by too.”

Fortunately my mom was out this morning when my Aunt Sara came to pick me up. When Cathy returned, she first thought I had escaped. The door was open and I was gone. Then she realized Aunt Sara had come a little early..and the new door was on the crate!

“I guess you know by now,” Mom said ruefully when Aunt Sara dropped me off this afternoon. “I’m totally challenged mechanically.”

“I figured I might as well get that door on,” Aunt Sara said tactfully.

My mom wants you to know it’s not age. Just the opposite. She’s much more dexterous now than she ever was. Now she knows what a Phillips screwdriver is, although I’m not sure I’d want to watch her try to use one.

Do animals communicate with their owners? We do!

My mom just posted a note to Facebook about my Regrade Park problem. I  no longer want to hang around the park these days. Almost as soon as we arrive, I’m ready to go home. Of course, Cathy gets frustrated. She likes to chat with the park regulars and watch me run around.

All sorts of people suggested she talk to an animal communicator – someone who can read my mind.

Get real. Remember when we hired the cat shrink? My mom had to get her money back.

We already talk to the mom.

Ophelia speaks loudest. The fat fuzzball is deeply grateful for being adopted. She loves living here. She adores my mom. She’s always coming over for a pat. She doesn’t even mind being brushed as long as it doesn’t go on too long.  She never complains and she waits patiently till the coast is clear so she can gobble up her crunchies. She looks adoringly at my mom with those big round eyes and she commandeered the best spot on my mom’s bed.

Creampuff is more like, “Hey, I’d rather be an outdoor jungle cat. But every so often I’ll favor you with a rub or a yowl. Just keep my dish full at all times.” Creampuff can jump to the kitchen counter and eat anytime she wants. She explores closets and has a tendency to get shut up behind closed doors.  Ophelia’s too big to do any of those things.

Me? I still think I should have taken a better picture for the Internet. If I’d held out a little longer, maybe Bill Gates would have adopted me. Unconditional love? That’s just fine for other dogs. Mine is conditional on the quality of my treats, my walks and my place on the mom’s bed.

Guest Post: Where to Locate a Dog Crate in Your Home

Guest Post by Jaime Simpkins: My mom doesn’t usually allow me to run guest posts from commercial ventures unless there’s an affiliate link. where she earns money for my treats if somebody buys. We made an exception because this topic is of special interest to me.

We don’t know anything about this crate company. But we can relate to the challenge. Remember my earlier posts on locating my crate in our new home?


Where to Locate a Crate in your Home by Jaime Simpkins

If you are thinking about owning a dog crate, you are probably wondering where in the house to put it. Your dog, being a pack animal, would prefer the part of the house where the family spends the most time while he is in the crate.

[Gracie says: “You got that right! Remember when we first moved here? My crate was in a hallway. I hated it.”]

If you have more than one dog sharing the crate, it may not be so important to keep all of the family together, as crate time can still be spent with a companion.

[Gracie says:”I’m the only dog here. The cats stop by to say hello sometimes. But share a crate with a crate? No way!”]

The makers of some dog crates have gone to great lengths to make their crates look like furniture with wooden slats that can be styled to look like other furniture items. The  wood dog crate allows you to dye, lacquer, or paint the crate so that it blends in with the rest of the room. If that style of crate doesn’t particularly suit your taste or budget, try using a conventional wire crate as a shelf by putting a hard surface on top of it.

[Gracie says: “Great idea, mom! Maybe I’ll get a wooden crate someday. Meanwhile, we just cover my crate with a blanket when I’m not using it and when we’re home.”]

Young dogs that aren’t used to spending the night crated may whimper and whine while you are trying to get your beauty sleep. If that’s the case in your household, then you may want to bring your pup’s crate into your bedroom just for one or two nights. This will give him companionship while he is becoming accustomed to his new bed. If the crate is beside your bed, you can reach down and stroke your pup if he becomes unsettled. When he is spending the night in his crate without distress, you can move the crate out of your bedroom.

[Gracie says: “My mom doesn’t adopt puppies. As a senior dog, I can see why. But for my first few months with mom, I had to sleep in my crate at night. My mom wanted to be sure I was house trained. She gave me a peanut butter kong every night so I knew I was being rewarded for being a great dog. Now I sleep on the mom’s bed, along with the ditzy Creampuff who jumps on and off and the fat Ophelia who takes up a LOT of room. Sometimes I’d rather be back in that crate with my peanut butter.”]

Don’t forget to look around the crate when you have put it in its permanent position. Check for power cables or electrical wires, and make sure there aren’t any curtain tassels dangling into the crate. These can hurt your dog if he chews them.

Keep an eye on whether or not the crate is in direct sunlight from a nearby window, because this will be hot and uncomfortable for your dog. Similarly, avoid drafts so he doesn’t get cold.

[Gracie says: “Never fear. My mom is a fanatic. I always have a bowl of fresh water and my tough rubber toy – nothing I can destroy.”]

There is no “one size fits all” perfect spot for a dog crate. You don’t want the crate in the way of your family, and you don’t want it to negatively affect your home décor. Your dog wants to be where the action is, and don’t want to feel left out. Take the time to work out a position for the crate that suits both you and your dog.


Gracie: Thanks for the tips, Jaime! Thanks to my mom’s friend Pam Ellis, I have a great place for my crate: right in the living room where it belongs.

Big Dog, Small Apartment

The New York Times finally gets something right about dogs! My mom read me this article about big dogs and small apartments. It’s in today’s paper.

We both agree. Dogs don’t run around their homes and apartments. They rarely even run around their own yards. They need exercise – long walks and places to run. That’s why I go to Magnuson Park with my Aunt Sara twice a week.

I’m not exactly huge. We won’t discuss my weight anymore, but I’m definitely in the small to medium range. My mom and I both say, “Who cares what you weigh? It’s all about muscle.” We’re both pretty solid and proud of it. My mom refuses to get on a scale, ever. I don’t have a lot of choice. When we go to the vet, they drag me to the scale.

But who’s counting?

“When I lived with Keesha, my first dog, we had a yard,” my mom says. “But Keesha wouldn’t play in the yard. She’d come and sit on the porch. So we’d go to the dog park. That’s what she wanted.”

Lots of people in our building have enormous dogs. They’re happy. We’re happy.

In fact, the mom says, a small dog can be a bigger challenge in an apartment. They yip and they yap. They run around like cats.

Just one point the Times forgot to mention. Dogs have crates. Even in our new spacious home, we have trouble finding a spot for my crate. My mom keeps trying to keep it out of the living room. Right now I’m in a hallway. Talk about being out of the way.

I tell my mom, “The only solution is to accept your dog crate as a piece of furniture. Who are you trying to impress, anyway?”

Sunny day with a cat

city dog and apartment cat enjoying sunFor once, Creampuff has the right idea. She’s snoozing in the sun. I’m sitting next to her so I can keep an eye on our ditziest housemate. We’re in Cathy’s office, trying to distract her from her work.

“Website makeover!” she mutters from time to time. “Hassle. Frustration.”

That’s where Creampuff and I get busy earning our food and treats. We lighten the mood. We give the mom perspective.

“Gracie, why are you lying in the sun?” my mom asks. “Dogs don’t tolerate heat well.”

True. Eventually I’ll move to my own bed and Creampuff will go off in search of new adventures. And in just a few minutes, I will nudge my mom with my cold nose, reminding her I need a walk. Her work can wait. I can’t.

Cats totally relaxing in their new home

Don’t they look like an old married couple? My mom says, “The cats are getting along much better since we moved. Everything was strange except…each other.”

Or else, I would add, they’re getting older and wiser. When a cat hisses, Cathy says, “Look, you either get along or you go back to the pound. You didn’t like the pound, did you? Both of you cats spent serious hard time in small cages. You really don’t want to go back there, do you?”

Nobody feels seriously threatened. We all know we’re not going anywhere. But somehow the cats pick up on Cathy’s energy and they seem to respect each other’s boundaries a little more.

The cats never go outside, except in their small crates on their way to the vet. So windows are a big deal to them, especially Creampuff.

Creampuff would have preferred to be an outdoor cat. The only problem was, nobody wanted a 2-year-old calico cat in Silver City, New Mexico. She had been in a cage for three months when Cathy came looking. Her calico cat Loretta had just died. (Loretta was named for the country music singer, Loretta Lynn, because she had whiny done-me-wrong yowl. I shudder when I think about it.)

The shelter staff persuaded Cathy to take Creampuff home. It was an easy sell. My mom usually takes the first dog or cat she sees at a shelter or (in my case) online. So Creampuff got a new home. Not perfect, but she’s alive and free to express her ditzy personality.

Creampuff wouldn’t last long on the outside. I’ve been there and I know. My mom says Creampuff once caught a mouse in her New Mexico house. But I suspect that mouse was even ditzier than Creampuff herself. Even my mom says, “We were the only house in the neighborhood with cats. So any mouse who ended up there wasn’t very bright.”

I rest my case. And these cats are resting as comfortably as any cats in Seattle, or maybe the world.

Finally caught up on our sleep…

“Moving is exhausting,” the mom said. But finally last night we all got caught up on our sleep. My mom inherited a big new queen-size bed from the people who used to live here. It’s SO comfortable and there’s lots of room for everyone. Of course I take up most of the space. Ophelia takes up a lot of room too but my mom Cathy said, “No more snide remarks about Ophelia’s weight The poor thing just had dental surgery.”

That was a week ago. Mom. Ophelia’s eating everything in sight and then some.

My mom also made a startling discovery when she unpacked her clothes. “So many dress suits! I used to wear suits all the time. Might as well give them away, especially since I can’t wear shoes except running shoes and Birkenstocks.”

Then she counted up her t-shirts. We’ve said this before. If whoever dies with the most t-shirts wins, my mom is the Grand Champion. She put some in the box for Goodwill. I’m nudging her to add a few more.

But I’m not exactly home free. We counted up my bandannas. “Maybe you can share with some other dogs?” the mom said.

Fine with me. I don’t wear a coat in winter. I ride the bus naked – just the required collar and tags. Nobody notices.

Moving In: Finally We All Get Some Sleep

My mom and I just spent our third night in our new home. I am feeling a lot more comfortable since she unpacked my beds. Things feel almost normal again. Of course, the mom can’t find my supper dish so I am still reduced to eating from a paper plate.

“At least you are eating,” my mom pointed out. “Millions of dogs are hungry and cold out there. Some are chained to a post. You get to walk around the city with me and you eat healthful, high-quality food.”

Doesn’t she sound like a real mom sometimes?

We were both surprised to see how well the cats settled. Creampuff, our ditziest housemate, has already embarked on a campaign to leave little white hairs all over the dark colored couch we inherited from the previous owners. She likes our new windows. The views are much more interesting than we had in our former place. She can look out at neighboring balconies and see an occasional dog. She can look down at the trees and watch birds.

There’s only one piece of bad news. I am supposed to be fitted for a muzzle. How undignified. A princess should always run free. Actually, my own beloved Aunt Sara made the suggestion and our veterinarian concurred. I can’t help it. I like to eat whatever I can find, including some unmentionable things in the dog park. Apparently the muzzle will let me bark and drink water but not eat all those wonderful things I find in dark corners of the park.

“It’s much kinder,” Aunt Sara reassured the mom. “Otherwise we have to keep yelling at her and squirting her.” Hey, I don’t mind. I just ignore everything when I have certain objects in my mouth.

“And we won’t have to shove pills down her throat or have her skip a meal,” my mom said. “She can eat regular food.”

Now we’re talking.