Bandit’s Dental Hijinks

I’ve been keeping this from you, but since so many of you love Bandit; I best own up. Bandit looks like Michael Strahan now. No kidding. He has a gap-toothed smile and lisps when he barks.
He is not happy either (apologies to Michael Strahan).
Earlier this week Bandit and I got up, like we do most days. Started the day off with snarky tweets to Donald Trump and Chuck Schumer – it’s kind of our thing. After about a half hour Bandit got bored and went into the parlor, hopped up on the couch, and took a nap.
With my muse napping, I took a shower and got ready for work.
Just before 0700 I walked to the dimly lit parlor, snuck over to the couch and before Bandit could lunge to the door, I snatched him up, grab his lead, and whisked him to the car. I hated to do it, but he can be really unreasonable about vet visits especially ones he thinks are “elective.”
Bandit has lots of good habits, but dental hygiene isn’t one of them. He has this awful underbite and won’t brush his teeth. Every time I buy him a tooth brush he chews it up. I bring it in, show it to him, and he uses it for a toothpick.
Since he doesn’t have any hands per se, I’ve even tried to brush his teeth for him. The last time, one of us got covered in doggy toothpaste and that one of us only has two legs. He hates it. No matter how long I lecture about periodontal disease, he looks at me like I’m an idiot, rest his elongated chin on the floor, and throws his paws up over his ears
For a dog that can order pizza on the phone, he just won’t brush or floss.
Anyway, I snatched him up, threw him in the car and took off to the vet. It didn’t take him long to figure out where we were going. He tried his usual tricks, but I long ago learned to disable the windows and locks lest I have a Dachshund hightailing it back to my hose.
We got to the vet and he waddled himself to going inside. Once there, I went to the counter while he hopped on the scale. He waddled up and waited.
“How much?” I asked.
He barked twice, paused and barked three more times.
“Twenty three pounds?” I asked. “You sure?”
“Arf.” He said. Bandit almost never lies, but will take liberalities with his weight (it’s vanity I think). This time he told the truth.
“Why don’t you follow me into an exam room and we’ll go over the paperwork,” the Vet Tech said.
I looked at Bandit and he looked at me and we both shrugged or shoulders. We followed the vet tech, who look like she was 12.
“As with any use of anesthetic there is always a danger of cardiac arrest,” she said. “Would you like us to resuscitate you dog?”
“What do you think, Bandit?” I asked.
He growled.
“Yeah, okay. You might as well revive him,” I said.
“Arf,” Bandit said.
I signed the paperwork. Swearing to God, I’d pay and turned to say so long to my dog.
“Listen pal. I gotta go to work, but you are going to be fine. I’ll be back at about 5. Okay?”
He whined the most pitiful whine as I handed the vet tech the lead. She pulled him to go one way while I walked the other. Bandit started scrambling to make a break for it, but the vet tech snatched him up before he could make the door. She took him to the backroom with his little feet running and hitting only air.
It turned out Bandit had to have eight teeth pulled and the rest cleaned. One of the teeth was in the front, giving him that gapped tooth smile.
He spent the next two nights on my lap play it up for sympathy.
I let him.



This is an absolutely true Bandit Story.
One Saturday I woke up early determined to get some catfishing done on C&D Canal. I kicked my dog awake and we went out back to dig up some worms.
Bandit has a sixth sense about these things and is able to hear the little guys under the ground twisting and turning. He scratched the dirt and I hit it with a shovel. In a couple of minutes, we hand an old niblets corn can full of worms.
We stopped by the local Wawa (for the non-mid-Atlantic folks that is the local go to convenience store). Bandit insisted on a sausage, egg and cheese croissant; I had a coffee and an Entemann’s Raspberry pastry.
We ate in the parking lot.
We drove to the canal and hit the dusty winding road ending up at a pier for fisherman, which is mostly deserted. We baited the lines, tossed them in the water, and waited for the inevitable fish bites.
Rods jumped and pitched and eventually a yacht came cruising up the canal. I know, I know; what the hell is a yacht doing on the C&D canal? You got me!
Just so you know, I never keep Bandit on a leash.
Anyway as the yacht came by, the wake slapped the timbers of the pier making an awful thumping that sounded like we were in the put of a NASCAR race> It was awful.
I grabbed my line adjusted my drag and asked Bandit for advice – he was gone.
The slapping of the water against the pier scared the bejeezus out of him and he hot-footed it up the side of the hill. I had to chase him for about 35 minutes to get him to calm down.
When we got back to the pier, his pole had a fish; I got skunked.
This happened exactly as written

My Dog and I Fix The Heater


Bandit relaxing this past summer

I planned to take the day off, sleep late, grab a cup of coffee, and maybe go to a movie.
At about 0530 Bandit – my running mate and double-dapple Dachshund – started running up and down hall and screaming his fool head off.
The last time he did that, he cornered Santa and the fat old guy was horrified. Bandit eventually let him go on the promise of perpetual nice list for us. To date we still get presents, but that is a story for a different day.
Afraid that an errant elf was somehow held captive, I jumped out of the bed and was immediately hit by an onslaught of cold air. It took my breath away. I could almost see my dog’s breath as he scampered toward the thermostat.
“What the hell happened? I asked.
He just barked at the thermostat, which was blinking, “Your system has stopped working. Press the button for more information.”
If Bandit had fingers, he’d would have pressed for more information, but he doesn’t, and it fell to me. It really wouldn’t matter, because the ‘more information’ said, “Your system was turned off, because we detected a problem. Call your dealer.”
I read it to Bandit and he ran to the kitchen, jumped on the counter, grabbed the phone, and brought it to me.
“C’mon,” I said. “This does me no good without the phone number.
He ran back and got me that too. Dogs? You always have to remind them of the final detail.
So I call the heater guys, explain it all, and they set me up for an appointment later that day. I tell this to Bandit and he is convinced we are getting ignored. I tell him we are at their mercy, so he goes to one of the closets, gets a down comforter and waddles to the bedroom.
He did a pretty good job making the bed, so we climb in to warm up.
As time goes by it dawns on me that I might have screwed this up. You see, we had a new heater installed and it has a pipe that expels excess moisture. This summer I thought it might be a good idea to add a hose to the pipe, so the water would pool away from the foundation.
One of the times I mowed I took the hose and propped it up against the house, so I could mow underneath it. For the life of me I couldn’t remember ever putting back.
“Bandit,” I said. “I think I messed this up.”
He looked up at me, with a single eye open as if to say, “No kidding.”
We had reached temperature perfection under that down comforter, but we knew we had to go outside; which was bitter cold — by the way.
Dress in my pajamas and a heavy sweatshirt, I grabbed a screwdriver, a pair of Vice-grips and a pocket knife and we went outside.
“When I loosen this screw, you the tug hose off this pipe,” I told Bandit.
“Arf, arf,” he replied in affirmation.
I loosened the screw on the clamp holding the hose over the pipe. Bandit jumped, grabbed the hose and dangled about three feet off the ground for a second or two until the hose gave. He plopped on the ground; the hose draping his cold doggy belly, but he rolled over and pulled the frozen ice-filled hose aside.
It was just as I feared. The pipe was blocked with ice.
Bandit came back, jumped, grabbed the little stub of pipe and held on for dear life while I chipped the ice with the pocket knife. After about five minutes, torrent of water shot out of the pipe causing bandit to fall – what a baby!
When the water stopped, Bandit let go and we went inside.
It did the trick. The heater kicked in and bandit and I went back to bed. We’re not ones to waste a down comforter.




My Dog and I Save Thanksgiving


 What are the two words capable of turning any Thanksgiving or holiday weekend into a devastating mess. Hint –it’s not Donald Trump; Hillary Clinton; Russia Investigation or even food poisoning.
It’s — plumbing problem.
Last night when my dog Bandit and I we were putting our pots, pans, roasting pans into the sink for a good cleaning, he noticed the pressure for the hot water was low.
He sniffed at the doors under the sink, stood up on his hind legs with his front legs on the left door grabbed the knob for the right door and open the sink.
“Jezz Bandit. Do we have to fix it now?” I asked.
“Now, now, now,” he barked.
Looking under the sink, he showed me where the hot water line running from spigot under the sink to the faucet, had a kink.
I fiddled with it and realized I should undo the at the spigot, unkink it, and retighten.
Bandit took off for the laundry room, grabbed some camouflage duct tape, and dropped it at my feet.
“Not every problem can be solved with duct tape,” I said.
He barked a retort.
I turned the spigot off, but when I did, I realized it probably hadn’t been turned off in 15 years. It made a God awful metal-on-metal screeching sound.
Bandit and I shook our heads.
Anyway. I took the line off the spigot unkinked it and put it back, but when I tightened the line it kinked; Bandit swiped at the duct tape. He was right so, I pulled off about a six-inch piece and anchored the line to the cold water line. Now the kink should be fixed.
“There you go pal,” I said to my dog. “Looks like a Thanksgiving miracle.
He was unimpressed.
When I turned the spigot back on, water gushed and dripped everywhere. My wife who had been looking over my shoulder got a face-full of hot water. Bandit took off like there was a squirrel in the back-yard needing tending too.
There I was with a wet wife, feckless dog, and hot water spraying everywhere.
I ran to the hot water heater, turned the house water off, and went back under sink.
The water had stopped so I took the shut off handle of the spigot and disassembled the whole thing. It turned out the metal spigot had plastic innards and a teeny tiny black washer had fall off the end. Unlike spigots with metal innards, there was no screw to set the rubber washer. It turns out all you can do is find a washer and wiggle it on a stem, which has a bulbous end.
By this time Bandit had come back. Ashamed of his chickenhearted cowardice, I put the black washer on his tongue and told him to find me a new one. He ran to the garage and dragged my red, 50-pound plumbing toolbox into the house.
He knows where I keep my washers.
I found the right washer reassembled everything and voila it all worked — I think. There seems to still be some moisture I can’t account for and my dog keeps staring at it. Who know.
I guess there are two points – always trust you dog and always make duct tape your first solution

My Heroic Dog

P1070152Tuesday night my house was besieged by all manner of goblins, ghosties, and long-leggedy beasties, but I need not have worried because my killer dachshund was on duty.

Sometime around 1830 the undead began staggering up my front steps with their fake politeness and equally false salutations.

“Happy Halloween! Trick or Treat.”

I was on to them; they were after my Kit Kats — all of them (the sentence parallelism was intentional). Each of those despicable monsters wanted to relieve me of my hard-earned confectionary delights. I relented to ensure my safety.

But Bandit, my ever-present sidekick, me Cerberus – he was there watching. Always watching.

He’d stealthily approach the glass storm watching from his ankle high vantage point, the undead pretending to be babies in a supposedly cute Spiderman outfit. He watched, counting as the Kit Kats, in my large green bowl, became fewer and fewer (that’s right I keep all my Kit Kats in a green bowl).  

The cute tiny ghouls must have signaled their larger villainous partners because each ring of our doorbell brought more specters to my door – there were undead pirates, witches, and princesses. Each came shambling up my walkway with their hideous chants “Trick or Treat, trick or treat.”

It was horrible.

When there was a lull in the onslaught. I went to the living room, trying to comfort my distraught wife. She was pretending to calmly watch TV.

“Any cute costumes?” she asked.

I was worried she too had become one of them.

The one creature in this world I can count on – brave, brave Bandit — took up a defensive position in the archway which separates the kitchen form the living room. He was as immovable as Mt. Rushmore. He stared at the evil front door. His stubby little Dachshund legs tensed to waddle into action. I never felt so secure and thankful as my canine Heimdall guarded our rainbow bridge leading to me, my wife, and our Kit Kats.

Oh and he bravely sat there; resolute in the doggy knowledge he was saving us from a fate as bad as death – no Kit Kats.

One or two more phantoms extorted candy from us, but the ambling dead tapered off at about 2030 – word must’ve gotten out that my Argos, my Bandit was on the job.

Exhausted, I flop in my chair. Mighty Bandit jumped in my lap and settled in. My wife, feigning clam, turned to me and asked, “Anymore Kit Kats?”

Recharging the Important

I have a dog.

He is a double dapple longhaired Dachshund.

His name is Spike.

He and I are pals.

barnes1 (1).jpgThat has nothing to do with this blog, but it is always good to start a blog with a dog reference. So there it is – my dog reference.

Sometimes a fellow needs to reset. I did that today by spending the day at the Barnes Foundation If you’ve never been, I strongly recommend it.

My wife and I got there at about 11.

The building is about as artful as the collection. You are immediately struck by the use of water in the landscaping. A small reflecting pool dominates the entryway in front of the gray concrete building. The highly polished doors open to a darkened hallway, which eventually open to a bright atrium.

529_600_bf811_i2rThe atrium – lit by a series of skylights – is about the size of half of a football field and filled with artsy cushioned benches. The entrance to the collection is non-descript, but when you enter the main gallery you are bombarded by several paintings, but Georges Seurat’s Group of Figures dominates the room.

The collections of more than 3,000 works of art incudes 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, 16 Modiglianis, and 7 Van Goghs.  I was overwhelmed by the colors, themes, and variety of the work.

As I move from room-to-room, I remembered things of which I had lost sight:

  • The importance of art in our world and humanity
  • The five components of the visual arts: Color, Line, Unity, Balance, Shape
  • How art is as fundamental to society as economics and religion,

It’s funny how you remember the important things when you step away from the important day-to-day things. There is a difference even the two, but that is for a different note.

By the way Spike says, :Hey.”

How I Got my Stitches

Me getting stitches
Me getting stitches

It was deathly quiet as the small Cessna with no identifiable markings circled the little blonde girl playing with her doll in the park. I was teaching my Dachshund to change a flat tire on my pickup truck (he was having some difficulty using a lug wrench, but was working through it). The sound of the small plane’s erratic engine caught my attention. I had heard that sound once before in Guatemala when I was there doing a favor for a female secretary of state (it’s classified), but I knew that plane was coming down – on top of that small girl.

I had to act fast; I gave my Dachshund our cell phone and he began texting the local fire company for help. I moved with the speed and stealth of a leopard, bounding toward that small unaware princess. I got to her a second or two before the plane crashed. I leapt, snatched her in my arms, protecting her little body with my own, and rolled both of us out of harm’s way.

An errant piece of shrapnel hit me and I started bleeding in spurts. My Dachshund saw it all, jumped in the truck, and got out first aid kit, ran to me, and with his front paws and mouth, applied a tourniquet. I praised him even though it took five seconds more than his best practice time. Dogs – what are you going to do?

My beautiful wife took me to the local urgent care place, where a doctor from the NSA stitched me up. A total news blackout followed.