Monthly Archives: April 2022

Conqueror Completions

For those who haven’t found The Conqueror virtual challenges, I have found that it is a good way to make you pay attention to how much exercise you are getting. I can walk a mile a day just by taking the long way around the house when getting stuff and two miles a day if I am in the office. My Apple Watch tracks my steps and the app reads them once a day – so every morning, I can check my progress on the map.

I’m waiting until the exercise bike arrives to try the longer challenges, because a mile a day isn’t very much! Still, it is much more than I was walking before I started the challenges, and that’s the point. This is 533 miles which is more than I was doing before I started paying attention.

The challenges with Galemeadow Castle means that my wife was walking with me – we pooled our steps. I don’t think she was as interested. So, on those races, I probably did about half the steps.

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A Marriage in Dogs

In my wedding vows, my wife insisted that I promise to have a dog. “A” dog. Over the years, I have kept that promise many times over. The chart doesn’t even mention Max, who was with us such a short time, he didn’t make it over an anniversary.

I will have to update this chart each year. I thought about it after I had to update the spreadsheet I have because Katie left us the day before my birthday in 2022. When you need a spreadsheet to track your pets, you have kept the promise to have “a dog.”

It was an interesting project building the spreadsheet, because most of the past twenty-two years is a blur, and all the dogs seemed to be here at once. I really couldn’t tell who knew whom or shared the house. So, I put together a spreadsheet with approximate birth dates (i.e. the date we told the pharmacy for their prescriptions), the date they actually joined the household, and the date they crossed the bridge. I then added a function to show who was in residence on any given date. That’s how I built this table.

We know Bubba’s actual birthdate because he was a wedding gift. We know Flower’s because my Mom-in-law got her from a breeder. Yes, mistakes were made. All the rest are rescues, so birthdates were approximate. Flower was actually older than Bubba, but she didn’t move in to the house until my mother-in-law moved in with us.

J. Gilhooly
2/11/2000 (Wedding)

Kaitlin Renee Gilhooly (2006-2022)

Katie on patrol

Katie was my dog. She was one of the few dogs that have owned us that would give me a kiss. This was ironic, since I voted against adopting her in the first place. (I was outvoted by her Mom, 1-1.) As with all dogs, Katie determined the person in the house who was not her champion, and chose that person to be her person. In all the time she slept on the bed with us (after we trained her to use Ripley’s ramps), she would sleep next to me. On the outside, so she would never touch Virginia. However, if she needed something in the middle of the night (like going to pee), she would jump off the bed, wander over to Virginia’s side, and whine until she woke Virginia up.

Katie was our one dog that I thought was a knee-jerk reaction to another of our rescues. We had rescued a dog I named Max (as in, “we’ve hit our max!”) in August of 2006, left him at the vet for observation while we were on vacation, and he died in quarantine that weekend.

A few months later, Katie showed up from the same rescue. Somewhere in near West Texas is a backyard breeder trying to make PBGVs (see below), because Ripley, Max and Katie all came from the same area.

Katie the lawnmower

Virginia saw Katie in late September, and she joined the family in October. She was named for Katie and Renee, two friends who ran East Lake Pet Orphanage. The thought was naming her after rescue people would be good luck. It was a good thought. It wasn’t really correct.

I would not say she was a terror, but much as her older brother Ripley (they looked very similar from a breed perspective), she was her own dog. However, Ripley was passive-aggressive. Katie was active-aggressive. She had what someone desperately trying to sell her would call “spirit.”

Katie was the only dog who barked at us. “Open the door!” “Get me some food!” “Change the channel!” I’m pretty sure she thought we were idiots.

Katie and Murphy doing laps
Katie and Rocky, relaxing

She was the fifth dog when she joined the household pack. She assumed that she was in charge about ten minutes later. She was behind Bubba, Ripley, Murphy, and Flower. Flower had her Mom with us, Bubba and Murphy were easily intimidated and Ripley was willing to have pretty much anyone think they were in charge.

So, it was Katie’s house. The rest of us just lived in it.

The best example of this was the Chair incident. My mother-in-law used to sit in her wheelchair to watch TV, and Virginia wanted to get her a nice “real” chair, so she bought a new chair, had it placed where her Mom sat, and went to work. That left me to do the dirty work – mainly, listening to ten minutes of bitching about not liking the chair, and moving it out of the way.

It’s my chair now.

Katie adopted the chair. She loved it. She could jump in it and nobody could touch her. This naturally enraged Mom, who said, “That dog is in my chair!” I said, “It’s not your chair – you didn’t want it. So, I guess it’s her chair now.”

So, thank you to Katie for getting your Grandma to sit in the insanely expensive chair Virginia bought for her.

(When my Mom-in-law passed away, Katie got the chair back. Virginia kept the chair for years.)

Very few of our friends ever met her because she didn’t really like people. She didn’t like men, except me. She didn’t like the vet, but she tolerated Dr Young and many of the staff at Rutherford Veterinary Hospital. She didn’t like strangers. I’m not sure she really truly liked us, but we knew how a can opener worked, so we were accepted as necessary.

An example – she was being boarded at the vet because she had pancreatitis, and Dr Vaughn said, “She’s fine, she’s just lying in her crate.” An hour later, Virginia got the phone call, “Uh, could you come down here with that muzzle you mentioned? Nobody can get near her.”

We just learned to adapt. After one unfortunate occurrence with an incompetent pet sitter, Katie learned to hide under the bed. I would try to talk her out, which worked some time. I would just grab her collar and pull her out, and after I stopped bleeding, I would try to talk her out again. Eventually, we just left a leash on her, and then we could drag her out spread-eagled, without losing any fingers.


Any pet sitter had to pass the Katie test before she was hired. The garden is full of the bodies of pet sitters who didn’t pass the test. (OK, that’s not true, but it is believable.)

Virginia always said Ripley, Max and Katie were probably from the same breeder, since they were all rescued in the same area west of Ft Worth. We thought they were PBGVs (Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen – a basset hunting dog.) They are known as the friendly breed. Max and Ripley were friendly. Two out of three ain’t bad.


Katie is apparently a basset crossed with some “bitchy.” She was friendly when she needed you to use the can opener for her. The rest of the time, you rolled the dice.

I’m not saying that she was a hellion. She only bit Virginia a couple of times, and usually, it was because Katie was trying to kill Rocky and Virginia was unfortunately in the way. So, she was pretty nice to us, as long as we weren’t in the crossfire.

Katie lived with us for fifteen and a half years. We think she was about sixteen years old. She was the longest serving member of the PsychoPuppies by about three months – she passed Ripley earlier this year. For a dog I didn’t think was going to last a week, she has made me very proud. She was the one that taught us adapting to a dog’s ways was sometimes much easier than getting the dog to adapt to ours.


When her spirit faded, we knew it was time to say goodbye. That time was unfortunately today. I hope she can find Max on the other side of the bridge, since they never met. Bubba, Ripley and Murphy will welcome her, and then go find somewhere else to be.

I will miss her. We all will, but she was my girl.

Kaitlin Renee Gilhooly

Texas Trails

I am trying to track our multiple trips around the Great State of Texas to see where else we need to visit. (This includes the planned Big Bend trip.) We still need to go to the Panhandle. We still have far West Texas. We’ve covered a lot of ground, though.

We cheated and flew to the Valley. We landed in Lubbock because of weather in Dallas. Everywhere else, we drove.

Big Bend Country

This is the longest drive across Texas I think we’ve planned. From Dallas to Terlingua, and then into Big Bend National Park (and Big Bend Ranch State Park, if we have time.) We are going so we can sleep in a bubble.

It’s almost 590 miles according to the step-by-step driving instructions from the Google Map. If we went in the other direction, we’d be halfway to the kids in Ohio. The difference is that this drive is all within one State. (El Paso is even further away, and in a different time zone.)

I have been trying to get Virginia to go to Big Bend for years, but she never had much interest. I finally realized I was using the wrong approach.

“Hey, do you want to visit a ghost town in the middle of nowhere?”

“Hey, do you want to see Big Bend? It’s only ten hours from here, and you can’t really fly there.”

“Hey, do you want to drive half-way to Ohio, in the other direction?”

“Hey, do you want to sleep in an inflatable bubble?”
Tell me more. What is this bubble of which you speak?

It has taken me longer to see all the regions of Texas than it has to visit most of the other States. This is a bit sad, but it shows the size of the State.

I grew up in Dallas, and am still here. I went to college in San Antonio. I worked in Houston for a couple of years. I’ve sailed on a cruise ship from Galveston. I had a college girlfriend from the Valley, and we visited her family. My family used to go to Port Aransas.

I spent a weekend in Midland years ago, helping a college classmate find an apartment. (I heard when his wife from St Louis landed and saw all the glory of West Texas, she cried. They may not have been tears of joy.)

Midland was about as far west in Texas as I have been. Once we get past Midland, it’s new territory for me. Plus, I flew to Midland, so I didn’t really see the landscape.

The Spousal Unit has been as far west as Weatherford, I think – we went to the Peach Festival one year. She may have been farther west to rescue a dog. (She reminded me we did spend an hour or so in Lubbock one year when Southwest needed to divert for storms in Dallas.)

She’s been through East Texas, because it’s on the way to New Jersey and Ohio. She’s been to South Padre and the Valley. She’s been to Galveston and Houston. She’s been to San Antonio, Castroville, Hondo and D’Hanis. We visited the Hill Country one year for Spring Break.

After this trip, we still have the Panhandle to visit. I think I’ve covered the other regions of the State.

RV Plans

So, for a couple of months after I left IBM in 2017, we were seriously considering getting an RV and hitting the road, mainly because we couldn’t afford a cruise ship. Being the planner that I am, I had a bunch of routes mapped out, just in case. (We’re still in the house. Sigh.)

So this is the only map that we actually didn’t travel. (Actually, we’ve driven parts of it in the car, so I guess that counts somewhat.)