Tag Archives: dog

Dixie and the Cone of Shame… The Adventures of an English Mastiff & Her Mom (Who Clearly Doesn’t Have Other Children)

I am the proud mama of two puppy-dogs, a terrier-mutt mix named Boudicca (named after the Warrior Queen) and an English Mastiff named Dixie. Both our girls are rescued – we got Boudicca from the pound and Dixie from Mastiff Rescue.

Boudicca (left) and Dixie (giant)

Today, I was able to pick up my baby girl Dixie (by baby girl, I mean my 135 lb, 6 year old English Mastiff) from the veterinarian. Yesterday, she had surgery to remove a diseased anal gland that has been infected and impacted for about six months or so. It is a terribly gross problem and if you have ever owned dogs, you have likely had to become familiar with their ickiness at least one time or another. After six months of antibiotics, compresses, and flushes, we decided it was time for surgery. The surgery was a success (so far), and she was kept over night for pain relief and observation. I passed the time by fretting and annoying the vet techs with regular check ins.

Poor Dixie. In addition to the pain and anxiety that comes with surgery, they further humiliated her by shaving her rump (they claimed it was for better access to the wound site, but I’m sure it was just for good comedy value). They also gave me a cone of shame to use if she licks at the wound site (she’s surprisingly agile when she’s itchy). If you’re unfamiliar with the cone of shame, here’s a great explanation from the film Up

Interestingly, they call the the Cone of Shame and Elizabethan Collar. I feel that this serves just to further humiliate the animal and owner. So now, when Dixie goes to bed or is left alone for a length of time, she must suffer this indignity (and I’m fairly sure I come closer and closer to death by justifiable dog mauling):

New Fossils Provide Further Insight into the Domestication of Dogs

Dogs are the oldest and most universally domesticated animals on Earth. New studies of a 33,000 year old dog skull fossil have revealed new insight into the domestication of man’s best friend.

The newly discovered skull reveals that this species of dog (that went extinct during the last glacial period) was on the brink of full domestication just before they died out.

To learn more about the significance of this Russian find, see this article in National Geographic.

5 Children’s Stories that Destroyed my Childhood

So, I woke up early on Saturday morning and decided to hit the gym. I just go to a local 24 hour fitness, it’s nice, but not too fancy. There are several television screens that they have tuned to various channels to keep you pumped during your workout. This being Saturday morning, they were all turned to cartoons. While watching television shows about Troll Dolls (they still have those now?), remakes of Scooby Doo, and various Japanese exports that still make no sense to me I was struck by how different modern children’s stories are from my own childhood. Namely, they don’t seem designed to scar you for life. You see, my childhood was riddled with disturbing ‘children’s stories’ in which the protagonist essentially learned that life is hard and to expect tragedy. In this post I present to you the top five children’s stories that shattered my childhood, in particular order:

5) Darby O’Gill and the Little People – this is by far the most frightening film ever made, and not just because Sean Connery sings. To this day, the images of this film haunt me. It’s why I fear Leprechauns and banshees. In fact, it’s probably why I have avoided visiting Ireland in spite of several opportunities to do so – I’m terrified that I’ll be on the foggy moors of Ireland and confronted by these terrifying creatures. Seriously, I cried myself to sleep for weeks. It’s the tale of a drunken Irishman who attempts to outsmart the King of the Leprechaun and even defies death. So, let’s present this here: it’s a children’s tale about wanton drunkenness, evil creatures, and death – I mean, a *lot* of drinking and drunkenness, and drunken brawls, and other drunken shenanigans. Did I mention how freaking scary that banshee is?! Yep, cheery.

Enjoy this video of a young Sean Connery pretending to be Irish (notice that his accent never changes whether he plays a Scot, an Englishman, an Irishman, or a Russian boat captain).


4) The Red Badge of Courage – For some reason this book was required reading in the fourth grade. In fact, it’s considered excellent reading material for children 4th-8th grade. It’s an incredibly graphic novel about a young man going off to the Civil War, watches his friends and comrades die in battle, listens to Generals essentially declare his regiment as cannon fodder, and other disturbing imagery. After the primary character flees from battle, he endeavors to redeem himself by exorcises his demons in suicidal attempts. Disturbing… Apparently, the horrors of war is considered good reading for ten year olds:

“Once he thought he had concluded that it would be better to get killed directly and end his troubles. Regarding death thus out of the corner of his eye, he conceived it to be nothing but rest, and he was filled with a momentary astonishment that he should have made an extraordinary commotion over the mere matter of getting killed. He would die; he would go to some place where he would be understood. It was useless to expect appreciation of his profound and fine senses from such men as the lieutenant. He must look to the grave for comprehension.”

3) Where the Red Fern Grows – On the surface, this story seems like it would be good, clean, childhood fun. After all, it’s the story of a boy and his two dogs and the hunt adventures they experience today. However, this seemingly innocent and endearing premise, is a facade for an incredibly disturbing story that includes dog fighting, horrific bullying, abusive grandparents, graphic scenes of hunting (including detailed images of raccoon beings hunted, killed brutally, and then skinned), and the accidental death of a teenager involving an axe (yes… an axe). Ultimately, the little boy has to deal with the death of his beloved coon hounds (one was mortally wounded saving the boy from a mountain lion and the other dies from grief over the loss of her buddy). The little boy (yes, the boy) then digs a grave for his two dogs and buries them in the forest. Good times. I was forced to read this book at 8.

2) The Little Mermaid – I’m not talking about the Walt Disney version here. I mean the original Little Mermaid written by Hans Christian Anderson. If you have been blessed to have only seen Disney’s Little Mermaid, allow me to inflict some emotional trauma on you. You see, in this version of the Little Mermaid, the 15 year old girl (unnamed)

Things Didn't End this Way Originally

does not get the man and all does not end well. After seeking out the Sea Witch for the opportunity to become mortal and win the Prince with whom she fell in love on her once in a lifetime visit to the surface, she is robbed of her voice and granted legs – however, walking/dancing would always feel like walking on daggers (awesome). Also, she would only remain human so long as she married the love of her life. If he married another, she would die and turn into sea foam the morning after his wedding. When she catches back up with her Prince, he repeatedly requests for her to dance for him and she willing does so (in spite of the excruciating pain).

However, the Prince ends up marrying someone else and, keeping with the Sea Witch’s original words the Little Mermaid prepares to die at first dawn. Her sisters show up with a dagger (selling their hair to the witch). All she has to do to save herself is to stab and murder her Prince and let his blood fall on her legs – she would get her tail back and could return to the ocean. However, she couldn’t do it and instead plunges into the ocean at first light and turns into sea foam. Yep, she dies.

The first time I saw this story was in movie form at a friends’ birthday party. And this was pre-Disney Mermaid movie so the mother had no excuses showing this to children. She knew how this story ended. I distinctly remember a group of eight year old girls (and one nine year old boy – mine friend’s other brother) finishing up this birthday celebration sobbing on the couch. In fact, this friend’s brother grew up and in high school was in a hard-core metal band, even wearing a spiked dog collar. I blame that phase on his shattered childhood (a shared experience).

1) Old Yeller – This was a children’s book that Walt Disney turned into a movie – without their characteristic ‘let’s change everything to a happy ending.’ If you’ve never seen/read Old Yeller, do not see it!!! I cannot emphasize this enough. Whoever thought that this was an appropriate story for children is a sociopath. I don’t remember how old I was exactly when I saw this film, but I recall that I had to have my mother read one of the signs for me – meaning I was less than five years old.

Long story short, Old Yeller is the story of a young boy and his dog. Again, sounds like a loving and innocent premise right? A child and his beloved pet. He and Yeller (a mastiff-golden lab mix) form an intimate bond. Yeller becomes a member of the frontier family and helps with hunting and even saves the children from a bear attack. How wonderful. However, one night, Yeller saves the family from a rabid wolf that attacks them. Sadly, he sustains a bite in the process. As he is now infected with rabies the young boy then has to shoot his beloved dog in the head. Yes, this ten year old boy has to shoot his beloved pet in the head as he contracted rabies saving the family from a wolf.

Here’s a brief video of it, warning: you will cry!


So, these were the shattering “childrens’ stories” of my youth. Here is what I learned from these lovely stories: life is about pain, tragedy, death, depression, suicide, unrequited love, worthless self-sacrifice, and killing your childhood pets. While the Trolls television show isn’t going to raise any I.Q. points at least the children aren’t sobbing and scarred for life when the show is over.

33,000 Year Old Dog Skull Found in Siberia

A well-preserved 33,000 year old skull belonging to a dog in the early stages of domestication was found in the Atal Mountains of Siberia. Dogs and humans have long enjoyed a unique relationship – with dogs theoretically being the earliest animal domesticated. Interestingly, canines are the only universally domesticated animal – wherever you find humans, you find dogs (the same can not be said of cats, horses, pigs, etc).

Courtesy of BBC

While domesticated dogs were instrumental to the survival of humans in the region, the peoples of the Altal Mountains appear to have abandoned their animals towards the end of the ice age – possibly due to a greater scarcity of food.

To read more about this finding, check out this article at BBC News.

My Dog Dixie & the Cone of Shame (well, Neck Pillow of Shame)

On Monday, I noticed that my dog Dixie was licking her rear end a lot more than usual. As an english mastiff, this sound gets loud and quite gross very quickly. When I examined her rump, I noticed that the area was discolored and she was as ‘clean’ back there as she could be. I determined that the next morning, if it looked the same and she was still licking at it, that I would call the vet (Monday was July 4, a national holiday). Well, I got woken up all through the night by the perpetual licking sound and the next morning the area looked much worse. I was worried that she had an impacted or infected anal gland. While disgusting, if you have ever had a dog, you know the importance of working anal glands. When my vets office opened at 7:30 am, I gave them a call. My vet is fabulous, his name is Dr. Bearden located in Benbrook, TX. He knows our dogs well, their personalities, histories, temperaments, and he tolerates my calling him frequently over silly issues. Yes, I love my dogs. I love my dogs in the way that only a childless woman in her thirties can. They booked me an appointment for 10:00 that morning.

So, off to the vet we went. Now, one thing about both of my dogs is that they love going to the vet. All of it. You say vet and their ears perk up and they run up to their leads. They love the car ride, they love the smells, they love the people. I think what they really love about the vet is that he gives them a thorough exam, and they love physical affection (in terms of petting, patting, rubbing, etc). They also just love all people and they get to meet quite a few at the vet. He did a full exam on Dixie and determined that she didn’t have an impacted anal glad **phew** but rather a ‘hot spot.’ A hot spot is generally a patch of irritated skin that the dog makes worse by licking and scratching. He said they would take her in the back, shave her down, clean it up, apply some topical anesthetic to get her some relief, and empty her anal sacs (good times).

So, he brought Dixie back looking like this:

With the fur fully removed, you could really see the skin irritation! Poor Dixie. The doctor gave me some topical steroids, oral antibiotics, and a round of oral steroids. The vet said that if she kept licking, then she would have to be put in a cone of shame 😦

The next two nights, I was woken up to hear her slurping up a storm. I got up several times to get her to stop (she didn’t do it during the day). After the second day, I decided it was time to get the cone of shame. However, the Vet tech suggested that, since she would primarily be sleeping in this, I should try one of the inflatable collars as they’re more comfortable (but don’t provide quite as much protection). So, I went out bought Dixie a neck pillow of shame and a squeaky panda bear at the local Petsmart.

So, we tried it on her briefly and she looked okay:

However, now that it’s bedtime, it’s neck pillow of shame time and she is not happy. She just looks depressed!

She keeps pacing around the room, trying to get comfortable. She also keeps walking over to me, seemingly wanting to get it taken off. She is unhappy. Only a few nights of this girl, you can do it! It’s better than the alternative (the cone of shame) if you rip, tear, or otherwise escape the neck pillow shame.

Obligatory Post About my Dogs

If you have known me for more than five minutes, then you know that I have dogs – two of them. I talk about them constantly. It’s a little sad. I love my dogs in a way that only a childless woman in her thirties can. They are my children. I take pride in their accomplishments and good behavior. I beam when the groomer gives them a good behavior report or the vet tells me that they’re healthy. I train them to do funny tricks. They sleep in our bedroom. My husband has come to tolerate my dog loving behavior and I think that he also finds them endearing.

I grew up with dogs and have always loved them. Dogs are amazing creatures and human beings have a unique relationship with them. Anywhere that you find people, you find domesticated dogs. You cannot say that of any other creature (sorry cats).

So now that I have you as a captive audience, let me tell you about my dogs. The oldest is a terrier-mutt mix named Boudicca. She is named after the Iceni Warrior Queen. We got her from the pound. She was sitting quietly in her kennel when we took her out and then took her home. She’s an inquisitive, sweet, and smart little thing. She is seriously smart. Now, I’m not saying this because I’m her ‘mom.’ Nope, because I’ll readily talk about how ‘simple’ my other dog is. Boudicca just has that spark you find in mix-breeds. She learns quickly, reasons things out, and if you’re not careful, she will ‘train you’ as my sister found out when she was house sitting.

Sometimes, I think that the only thing that holds her back is her lack of opposable thumbs. Sometimes, I use this to my advantage. I’ve got her trained to do entertaining tricks like play dead when I “shoot” her or open the door to her kennel. Other times, she drives me crazy when she figures out how to open doors or burrow in to restricted areas. I still can’t believe that she was tossed out on the street to fend for herself. She’s such a loving and sweet dog.

My other dog is Dixie. Dixie is an English Mastiff, the largest dog breed in existence. She is also a rescue and we got her with the assistance of Great Plains Mastiff Rescue. She is a very loving, docile, gentle, and sweet dog. However, all of those years of in-breeding have not made her the most… mentally agile of creatures. Sweet… yes. Clever… not so much. She quickly gets confused and looks to us to fix the scary, confusing world – i.e. if you close the door slightly on her kennel and then instruct her to kennel up, she can have a drastic anxiety attack.

In spite of her massive size (132 lbs at her last vet appointment), she seems to forget that she is ginormous and can easily be intimidated by the world around her. She has an embarrassing fear of cats – she will cower and hide in their presence.  Raising your voice in her presence will make her hide in her kennel. A bad thunderstorm will send her to the closet. When I walk her down the street, mothers take their children inside in spite of my reassurances that she is the most child-friendly dog on the planet.

In spite of the massive size difference (Dixie is a good 100 lbs larger than Boudicca), the two get along quite well. Boudicca is clearly the boss and Dixie spends her days trying to please her. They start out every morning with a wrestling match in the bedroom – a bit noisy at 6:30am. They play chase, they nuzzle, and they roll around. Yes, there’s a bit of a competitive streak (especially when we have a visitor at the house), but the two get along swimmingly.

Okay, so here are some obligatory videos – yep, I video my dogs and post them on YouTube.

This is a video of our last snow-fall. It highlights Dixie’s “simple nature,” but also how happy she is in life:


Here are the girls running around the backyard.


Here’s one of their training sessions (and my husband being super tolerant).