Category Archives: PsychoPuppy

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

Murphy James Gilhooly, 2006-2019

Murphy James Gilhooly was my puppy for almost thirteen years. As much as Ripley was supposed to be my dog, Murphy was my dog. It is very difficult to say “goodbye.” However, today we had to do so.

We met Murphy after an East Lake Pet Orphanage Advisory Board meeting in early 2006. He was at least a year old at that point, but we’ll never really know, since he was adopted. The rest of the board said there was a gorgeous Cocker we just had to meet.

This should have set off warning bells.

The rest of the board assumed we would love a Cocker since we already had one, and they knew we had adopted an additional dog already. Most of them were pet fanatics, so what’s the difference between two and three dogs?

So, we went down to the adoption area to meet Java. As the staff opened his crate, a brown blur rushed out, straight into a glass window, and bounced off.

Then, he did it again.

This should have set off warning bells.

What really happened is that I thought, “This dog is so stupid, he deserves to live with us.”

I didn’t like “Java” as a name, since Java was a computer programming language I fought with every day at work, but I liked having a name that reflected his coloring. (The staff picked “Java” to mean “coffee”.) My first thought was “Guinness”, but he wouldn’t pass as an Irish Setter, so I had to find another Irish Stout. Murphy’s Stout, founded by James Murphy. So, reverse the name, and Murphy James was ready to come home.

Virginia still blames me for the adoption since I had him named before we left for home. However, this is not true because I had to get home first to look up Murphy’s Stout.

Murphy and Katie doing laps
Doing laps with Katie

Murphy actually accumulated names over the years. I’m not sure how it started, but by the end, he was Murphy James Elliott Macintosh McIlhenny Molanaphy Gilhooly, Esq. Elliott is my sister-in-law’s cat (with a slightly different spelling.) Macintosh is what I am typing this on. McIlHenny is the maker of Tabasco, which Virginia requires for her eggs. Molanaphy was a classmate of mine in grade school. I think. However, Murphy was pretty sure his first name was “Dammit.”

Before the adoption could go through, we took Bubba over to meet his potential new brother and they got along fine, so we signed the paperwork and Java became Murphy. I’m still not sure Murphy ever knew Bubba was a different dog. I have a feeling he always thought Bubba was his reflection, just a different color and doing different things. Murphy was not a Rhodes scholar.

The Graduate

However, as much as Murphy’s intellegence has been questioned over the years, he is the only one of all of our dogs to graduate from puppy training. I’m still not sure how he did it, but he actually graduated. (They didn’t let him keep the hat.) He has a diploma (somewhere) to prove it.

Murphy drove my sister-in-law Mary crazy one visit while she was Mom and pet-sitting because he always wanted to be touching her. Most dogs want to be in proximity, but Murphy perferred direct contact. (He would sit pressed up to me on the couch.)

We had phone calls in France about “the brown one won’t stop touching me!”

That said, Murphy was the only one of our dogs Mary said she would take if something happened to us. So. maybe “annoying” eventually became “a certain charm.”

We’re not sure where Murphy actually came from – we know he began his rescue life abandoned and tied to a tree with his sister at the SPCA. He had chronic eye issues, so he was thought to be unadoptable. Luckily, East Lake Pet Orphanage took him and nursed him into shape, and then he met us – a couple who already had a dog with chronic eye issues. We knew how to do eye drops. Well, Virginia did.

Murphy had eye issues. He had allergies. He had bad skin. He blew out one of his ACLs before I blew out mine, then he blew out another one. He was basically the poster child for why breeders are often considered evil and why pure-breds are not always better. He had every issue Cockers were known to have. He had more specialists than I do, but he enjoyed car rides, and he loved his vets, no matter what they did to him.

His biggest problem was his food allergies, since it meant we couldn’t put his pills in bread or hot dogs or Pill Pockets, like normal dogs. His hunting instinct was pretty much useless on anything other than medications hidden in his food, and finding cookies in his eye doctor’s lab coat pockets. By the end, Virginia was making grilled chicken, grinding it up, and putting his pills in chicken. Maybe he wasn’t that dumb.

Peanut Butter

He also could not easily be distracted. One of the vets said that when we had to give him a allergy shot, we should just distract him with a spoonful of peanut butter. A normal dog would start licking the peanut butter off the spoon, and never notice the shot. Murphy would ignore the peanut butter until he had been given the shot, and then lick it off.

The one time I had to take him to visit one of his specialists alone, we were lead to an exam room and he immediately pooped on the floor. A lot. So, I asked, “Uh, did you guys need a stool sample today?” The vet tech said, “No”, so I said, “Then we need some paper towels. And a mop. And a gas mask.”

Murphy wrote our family Christmas newsletter before Rocky took over. It was vastly more popular than the ones I wrote. Murphy got a thank-you note from my Aunt. Hand-written. In the mail. The next year, Murphy wrote about how my sister-in-law was “cheap with the treats” and started a firestorm with my in-laws. Virginia had to remind them Murphy didn’t actually write the newsletter.

Murphy was a good dog, but they’re all good dogs. I’ve had some hesitations about adding dogs to our household with almost all of our dogs. My only hesitation with Murphy was I wasn’t going to call him “Java.”

Cocker Guards
Murphy and Bubba, guarding the yard

He was the happiest dog I have ever known.

Godspeed, Murph. We’ll see you on the other side. I hope Heaven doesn’t have a glass door.


Funeral Rites (for a Rat)

Dearly Beloved,

We are gathered here today,
to remember our brother rat.

He died as he lived his life,
On the patio, and in the yard.

Place rat gently in the pooper scooper.

Please forgive his brother Chihuahua,
Who really just wanted a new fuzzy toy.

As we process to his resting place,
We commit him to his Creator.

Oh, Lord, bless this rat.
Unto You, we commit his soul.

Dump gently over the fence.


Notes: Yes, the Chihuahua did it again. I admit “brother” rat is an assumption because I really didn’t want to be examining a dead rat’s genitalia on a darkened patio. You have to say “resting place” and not “final resting place” because while the Chihuahua is inside the fence, there are other critters on the outside. Rest In Peace.

Death Shake

It occurred to me this evening that “Death Shake” would be a good adult ice cream drink or perhaps a dance for heavy metal fans. However, it’s also how a Chihuahua helps dispatch its victims after catching them.

Why would I think such a strange thing? It’s been a long evening.

I have managed to miss almost all of the killings my various pets have committed over the years. I’ve paid for a number of the victims to be removed from various pets’ various internal organs but that’s about it.

Until tonight.

Our Chihuahua, Rocky, takes forever to potty. He will walk the yard, walk the fence line, freeze when there is any noise within a 15-mile radius, and then have to remember why he was in the yard in the first place.

I’ve often wondered what would happen if people were like dogs, and had to wander in and out of every bathroom in the house before finding the “right one” which happens to be the same one every time.

Tonight, Rocky was wandering around on patrol and then by some miracle, he actually peed. So, we were probably half-way done.

Then, the yard patrol commenced again.

Then, he pooped. Victory is ours!

However, I was standing by the bedroom door, and he knows that means he’s going in his crate. He does not like his crate until he is in it, so he avoids the door. He wandered off towards the gate.

As Rocky passed the pile of dead branches and leaves that I have been mentioning to someone who shall remain nameless (but will enter this story in a few paragraphs) to have cleared for about ten years (really, just ask the yard guy to do it), I heard a squeak. I only hear that noise from him when he’s frightened or desperately trying to get outside to chase something. That was my first warning. It was also my last.

Then, I watched Rocky dive into the dead branches pile. It wasn’t a dive, it was like watching a spear flying through the air. He speared something.

He came out of the pile. There was something in his mouth. It was too large to be a baby bird. What else could he have caught?

Oh, Lord.

Rocky ran out, did a quarter-lap around the yard, and stopped, shaking furiously. Whatever he had was getting the life shaken out of it. Literally.

I had always heard Chihuahuas catch rats and then shake them to death, but I figured that was just a legend, like Santa Claus or IBM permanent employment.

It was a mouse. My wife says it was a rat, but I don’t want to have a rat problem around the house, so it was a mouse.

Rocky ran off again, still carrying the victim in his mouth, then finally came up on the patio, and dropped it. This is the first time he has ever dropped anything I’ve told him to drop, so he was probably just tired.

The mouse lay on the patio. “He’s dead, Jim.” There was a small puncture wound on his side. It doesn’t take much to kill a mouse, especially when you get shaken (not stirred) right after a small puncture wound is applied.

So, I picked Rocky up, mainly so he wouldn’t attack a corpse, and noticed there was mouse hair sticking out of his mouth. Now, I have a pretty strong stomach, but that kinda grossed me out.

I pulled the hair out of his mouth. Now, I had blood on my hands. Literally.

At this point, I called for backup. Unfortunately, the only backup was my wife, who tends to freak out about freshly dead things just a wee bit more than I do.

So, I’m holding a Chihuahua whose still cooling down from the kill, a woman who hates rats is trying to figure out if she can save the dead one on our patio (the pet rescue force is strong with this one) and I just want someone to take the damn dog from me so I can wash the blood off my hands – especially since I’m not really sure if it is dog blood or rat blood.

Well, this was a fun evening. What shall we do next?

So, I’m worried about rabid rats – mainly because this Chihuahua is crazy enough while he’s not rabid. My wife is worried about the death of a poor, innocent animal (“Honey? It’s a rat.”)

I’m secretly proud of Rocky because this rat is smaller than he is, but he whacked it good.  I’m pretty sure I can’t admit that out loud. I pet him, slyly.

We put the rat-mouse in a box. Well, I put him in a box. I was told that was cruel to leave him to die, but he was already gone, and I didn’t have a rat euthanasia kit handy. I suppose I should have checked to see if “he” is the proper pronoun, but I didn’t have the time. If I had, my wife would have just asked if he had been neutered.

I would bury the rat, but that would just give Rocky a chance to dig him up and kill him again. Zombie Rat Apocalypse, anyone?

So, corpse removed – sort of, it’s in the garage – crime scene secured, now we tend to the perp.

I carried Rocky into the house, so my wife could wash his wound with soap and hydrogen peroxide. She had to stop and get the dog shampoo. In the middle of this ministration, I finally said, “CAN I WASH THIS BLOOD OFF MY HANDS?”

So, witness cleaned up, perp cleaned up, victim removed, crime scene secured.

Time for dinner.

Medium-rare steak. Hmm. Not the best choice after just washing blood off a witness and a perp.

Maybe I’ll have a salad later.

So, Rocky will go to the vet in the morning, to check the small cut on his lip and make sure he didn’t catch anything while murdering an innocent. He will be walked on a leash for a while, to avoid killing off the rest of the mouse family that is probably now in mourning. (“Has anyone seen Steve?”) I’m not sure what will happen to the victim. I personally could probably use some therapy for this, but I got 1000 words out of it, so I should be fine. Eventually.

Rocky is disappointed there isn’t a cool chalk outline on the patio that he could show the other dogs.

The Essence of Ripley

Two more memories of Ripley, both involving sleep.

When our first dog, Bubba, came home, he seemed to have some behavior issues. These culminated in his marking my side of the bed (ick!) His trainer said he was trying to assert dominance, and the procedure to stop it was easy: you tied him on a short lead to the bedpost, so he could sleep near us, but not on the bed with us. After a couple of days, Virginia caved and removed the lead – but Bubba slept on the bed, and no more dominance issues. He learned his lesson.

With Ripley, we decided prevention was better than cure. We tied him to the bed with a short lead, and went to sleep. In the morning, he was sleeping on the bed. On a very short lead. The rest of the lead was still attached to the bedpost. It was in his way, so he had just chewed through it, so he could sleep where he wanted. He learned a slightly different lesson than Bubba had. Advantage, Ripley.

Virginia and Ripley had an ongoing battle on sleeping by the side of the bed. They each wanted to sleep on the outside, nearest the side of the bed. (Ripley’s sister Katie sleeps next to me on the side of the bed now, but if she wants to sleep next to the side of the bed, I don’t care. It keeps me further away from the monsters.)

Virginia asserted her dominance and put Ripley between us, so she could have the outside lane. Once she was asleep, Ripley jumped out of bed, went over to her side, and started scratching on the bed. Virginia moved over. Ripley jumped up and slept where he wanted. Advantage, Ripley.

Ripley J Gilhooly (1998-2016)

Ripley J Gilhooly crossed the bridge on August 16, 2016. My wife Virginia and I adopted him in 2001 from Richardson Humane Society, so he had been in our family for fifteen years. He had been with us almost from the beginning. Bubba, our first dog, was a wedding gift, and Ripley was Bubba’s dog. (Ripley was in charge, but he let Bubba think he was.)

Bubba once had a playmate because my Mother-in-law visited for the winter and she had a Shih-Tzu named Flower. When Flower went home to Jersey, Bubba was lonely. So, Virginia decided Bubba needed a dog.

IMG_2117Sometime in the Spring of 2001, Virginia dragged me to a Richardson Humane Society garage sale fund raising event. It was a Saturday morning before dawn, I hadn’t had much coffee, and I was desperately trying to avoid any manual labor. I think she may have literally dragged me.

We passed a couple of puppies in a baby crib. (I’m a Grandpa now, so I know it was probably a Pack’n’Play.) I looked in, looked at Virginia, and said, “Hey! My dog is over there!”

That’s how I met Ripley.

Virginia had said Bubba needed a pet, but I think she had a short list of breeds in mind, including Shih-Tzus, and “stumpy mutt” was not on that list. So, Ripley was not her first choice. He may not have been in the Top Twenty.

So, let’s review our first impressions.

  • Me: “Hey! My dog is over there!”
  • Virginia: “That is the ugliest dog I have ever seen.”

Her sister and niece also thought he was ugly. Apparently, Ripley was tearing up a blanket in the crib, but I had not noticed. All the women did. Apparently, this was a warning sign. I ignored any warning signs.

He was my dog, that was all I knew.

I still don’t know how I knew he was my dog. I have met a lot of dogs since. We have three others in the house now (Murphy, Katie and Rocky). We’ve lost four in the time we’ve been married (Bubba, Sparky, Max and Flower.) So, I am quite familiar with dogs. When Murphy ran into a glass wall – twice – in five minutes, I said, “He’s dumb enough to live with us.” We inherited Flower. When I saw the look Virginia gave Rocky after she rescued him, I said, “He’s not going anywhere.”

Ripley was just my dog from the moment I saw him.

Ripley, of course, thought he was Virginia’s dog. I’m not sure if this was a neurotic need to win over the one who voted against him, or if he liked a challenge, or if he just figured out rather quickly where the food came from.

Somehow, the ugly dog became her dog, and then he wasn’t ugly any more. (He was my dog very briefly, when somebody had to bathe him after he managed to dig up the garden an hour before both families arrived for Christmas dinner, but there was little doubt the rest of the time.)

We always assumed he was not loved very much in his original home, especially after we found out he and his sister had been dumped at the shelter, but the family came back the next day, and picked up his sister. They abandoned him twice in two days.

He had spent time at a number of foster homes with Richardson Humane Society – when we took him to a reunion one year, everyone seemed to know him. I never understood why nobody else had adopted him, because everybody loved him. I think he really was supposed to be my dog. Well, Virginia’s dog. Our dog.

Food was Ripley’s passion. When Ripley moved in to our house, he discovered we were free-feeding Bubba. Bubba was very good at self-regulating, he would eat until he was satisfied, and then he would go play or sleep or annoy one of us until we played with him. Ripley parked himself in front of the food bowl and ate. The bowl was magically refilled by his new favorite parent. He ate some more. It was filled again.

Eventually, I found him, lying next to the food bowl, just flicking his tongue in and out to eat without having to stand up.

The vet weighed him at his first checkup. He was no longer underweight. In fact, she uttered whatever the veterinary term is for “Holy crap!”

We stopped free feeding.

Ripley would eat, and then go help Bubba finish his food. 

We started feeding them in their crates, which we still do today.

It took a long time to figure out what breed Ripley really was, because the shelters tend to just put down whatever pops in their heads, and rescues will label a dog whatever they think is an adoptable breed, and it’s not like anybody has medical records for them.

Ripley was a “terrier mix” for a long time until somebody finally said he looked like a PBGV (which is Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, a French breed that nobody had ever head of.   PBGV sounds very sexy (the full name sounds sexier, but only with a French accent.) Translated, it’s a Small (Petit) Low To The Ground (Basset) Wire-Hared (Griffon) from Vendeen. Everything sounds better in French.

Ripley was small. He was low to the ground. He had wired hair. We’re pretty sure he was a native Texan, though – he would always bark at cows or horses on the TV.

After we met Ripley at the RHS event, we found his foster Mom, arranged a playdate with Bubba, and after they seemed to get along, we decided we would take over fostering him. We did the paperwork to be a foster, but nobody believed it. We were foster failures. He never left.

Until today.

We’ll never know how old Ripley was, since he was rescued. People figured he was born in October 1998 or so, so he was probably at least 17 years old. We know he left us on August 16, 2016.

After he passed 10 and had survived three back surgeries, I had actually thought he was immortal. That’s not exactly true – after he had torn the skirting off the couch, chewed the bottom of a $3000 dining table and dug up the garden an hour before family and in-laws arrived for Christmas dinner – all within his first year with us – and survived all of that, I thought he was invincible.

If I ever got caught doing something that really annoyed my wife, I was planning to just say, “Ripley said it was OK.”

Ripley was not very good at training. Someone who is married to me thought he was stupid, but later realized that he’s just stubborn.

Bubba flew through training, so we took Ripley along one week. Ripley appeared to struggle. The instructor had a firm policy to never say “No!” to a dog – you would redirect from bad behavior to good.

As far as I recall, this is his first and final training lesson:

  • Trainer: “Sit, Ripley!”
  • Ripley rolled over.
  • Trainer: “Let’s try again. Sit, Ripley!”
  • Ripley rolled over.
  • Trainer: “Once more. Sit, Ripley!”
  • Ripley rolled over.
  • Trainer: “NO! NO! NO! NO!”

I have never been more proud of one of my dogs. I managed to not laugh until we were in the car, but I still giggle today when I think about it.

Here are the commands Ripley eventually mastered:

  • Do you want to go outside?
  • Let’s eat dinner
  • Let’s go take a nap
  • Let’s go get a cookie
  • Go in your crate (this required cookie bribes)

(He would sit occasionally. If I saw him about to sit, I would say, “Sit” just to take credit. He never really learned to roll over, so he just knew how to push a trainer’s buttons.)

Ripley would jump over our baby gates (used to keep dogs out of specific rooms, like the room with the skirt-less couch and chewed table) because we never told him he was not supposed to jump the gates. We have a video of him jumping the gate, wearing a SuperDog cape. We were stupid dog parents early on. Eventually, this lead to his back trouble.

Ripley had one of the most expensive backs ever.

Ripley ruptured his back at the start of Memorial Day weekend 2005, just before we were supposed to leave on a trip up North for my niece’s wedding. Nobody actually cared if I was there, but my Mom-in-law was coming in my car, as she wouldn’t fly. So, I had to go.

That was the weekend that we learned Ripley understood math, since his emergency surgery cost almost exactly the same amount as what we had saved for the trip. To those who thought we should just “put him down and get another dog”, I will say this: We did what we thought was required as good pet owners, we got ten more years to spend with Ripley, and I got out of a wedding. I think we made the right choice.

Ripley had another rupture and one more round of surgery a year later, but after that, his neurosurgeon must have paid off her yacht, because she suggested that we go to OSU and have disk ablation surgery. This procedure prevents further ruptures. (Wait. There’s a cheaper procedure that prevents doing that other procedure you’ve done twice?)

So, we spent a romantic weekend in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Of course, on the way to the pre-op exam, Ripley stopped short in the parking lot, and Virginia tore her Achilles, trying not to step on him. So, now I had two creatures limping. (I did ask if we could put my wife down, but the vet said “No.”)

Ripley was a very good learning experience for the student doctors. One held him gently while they were inserting an IV because “he was so friendly.” She learned quickly that if you poke a dog with a sharp object on one end, the other end is likely to bite whomever is holding him gently.

The vet leading the team said, “Well, she won’t do that again.” Ripley was a teacher.

Ripley was quarantined as a bite rísk while he was recovering from surgery. I don’t think anyone really believed he was a bite risk, but rules are rules. I had never had a dog in quarantine before. It made him sound tough. Ripley ended up in quarantine and on crate rest at the same time, so he slept twice as much.

He got much mileage out of his bad back, since he was the only dog in the house that could trip someone, and instead of getting yelled at, he would get petted to see if he was OK. I’m pretty sure he knew this and milked it.

Here’s another lesson we learned: Short dogs can’t get your attention easily, especially if they don’t bark much. The fastest way is to poke you in the legs, or nip at your ankles. So, Ripley did both. Actually, he only nipped my wife, but she’s slower than I am (probably from the ankle injury.) He would poke me.

One day, I was standing in the kitchen, and I felt a poke. I moved over a bit. Another poke. What was wrong with this idiot dog? I moved over. Poke. Move. Poke. Move. Then, my wife said, “You realize that now you are standing by the cookie jar. You’ve been herded.”

I gave Ripley a cookie.

He only did that a couple of times before I learned.

After that, I would just go stand by the cookie jar to begin with, mainly because Ripley taught Katie to poke me, too.

Ripley did learn one useful trick after his surgeries, so he was trainable, after all – we put ramps by the couches and bed, and he (mostly) stopped jumping on and off the furniture, and used the ramps instead. I do think it helped that they took less energy to use. Nonetheless, the one other command he (mostly) learned was “Ripley! Use your ramp!”, which was generally yelled from across the room as someone saw him heading over the side of the couch.

The ramps will stay, even though he’s gone, because all the dogs have learned to use them.

Ripley was a world-class napper. I was always afraid all of the energy he was storing up would come out at once, and we’d have a supernova. Unfortunately, it never happened. He just left us quietly.

You never miss a dog right away, especially if there are other dogs in the house. However, over time, you realize that all dogs are equally adorable and annoying – but in their own unique ways.

There will never be another Ripley.

He was my dog.

I miss him.



Dog Senses

So, dogs have a better sense of smell than humans. They have better eyesight than believed before, as they may be able to discern some colors, which is probably why our Cocker Spaniel barks at the HDTV almost constantly and the Chihuahua watches it while sitting on one of the humans. However, while dogs also may have a better sense of hearing, they do not have any real comprehension, although the previously mentioned Cocker Spaniel hates most current pop music (“Good dog, Murphy!”).

Most dogs do have a limited vocabulary (“Sit”, “Stay”, “Dammit!”), but that’s about it. This explains why two of my dogs could get into  a major snarling match while “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” was playing this afternoon. Irony, anyone?

Bubba Elvis Gilhooly, 2000 – 2011

Bubba Elvis Gilhooly

Bubba Elvis Gilhooly

Bubba Elvis Gilhooly crossed the bridge due to heart failure on December 15, 2011, with his parents at his side. We thank the staff of the eClinic for their caring support at the end. He will be sorely missed.

Bubba, a black and white parti Cocker mix, was born April 25, 2000 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the son of Romeo and Juliet Pesce. He was well-traveled as a puppy, as he was born in Virginia, drove to New Jersey to meet his new parents and then flew home to Texas before he was six months old.

Bubba was a wedding gift to Kevin and Virginia Gilhooly. Virginia had grown up with dogs in her house, so Kevin agreeing to have a  dog was actually written into their wedding vows. As Kevin had agreed to have a dog, Virginia allowed him to choose a name. Kevin chose “Bubba” as a name – which was horrifying to someone from the Northeast. Nevertheless, Virginia soon learned to stand by the back door and yell “Bubba!” without (much) embarrassment. (After Virginia began to groom him at home, the hair on the top of his head became more and more like Elvis’, which gave him his middle name.)

Bubba quickly took over the house after he moved in. He never managed to teach Basil, the English Budgie to bark, although he tried. Virginia learned that having a puppy is not the same as having a dog. Kevin learned patience, although it took time.

Bubba did learn very quickly. He was the only dog in the household that would ring a string of bells on the door when he needed to go out. As more dogs entered the household, he would ring the bells if any of them needed to go out, as well, which prevented any of the other dogs from ever learning this trick. [Years later, Katie would ring the bells when she was bored.]


Patrolling the yard

During his first winter, he had company in the form of Flower Pesce, who lived with Virginia’s Mom in New Jersey. Flower and her Mom came down to escape the cold, so Bubba had a playmate for a few months. When Flower went home that Spring, Bubba seemed very depressed. Virginia and Kevin then decided to adopt another dog, so he would have company. So, Ripley entered the household. Kevin chose Ripley for adoption at a Richardson Humane Society event, although Ripley later decided he preferred Virginia. However, everyone knew he was really Bubba’s dog. (Flower and her Mom eventually moved in permanently.)

Bubba had cherry eye when he was a puppy, and it took five surgeries to repair it. This began his long history of veterinary visits – by the time of his passing, he had an allergist, an opthomologist, a cardiac specialist and multiple “everyday” vets. He had more (and better) specialists than his parents, who are still trying to figure out how to get his doctors to treat them. Amazingly, with all the doctors who would prod and poke him over the years, he loved going to the vet.

Actually, he just loved going for car rides. If Virginia asked him if he wanted to go “bye-bye in the car”, he would run to the back door and whimper until she appeared with a leash and took him to the car. A bonus on the car ride would be anyone standing on a street corner while the car stopped for a red light, since that was someone that could be barked at until the light turned green.

Bubba was the first dog to sleep on the bed in the Gilhooly household, and the first to abandon it. After other dogs joined the house, he decided there was much more room to spread out on the floor, so he gave up his bed privileges for the wide open spaces. (It was probably cooler down there, as well.)

Bubba’s medical history actually helped lead to Murphy joining the family – Murphy had been considered “non-adoptable” because he had dry eye. As Virginia was already applying eye medicine to Bubba’s eyes every day, adopting a dog with dry eye was not an issue.

Bubba had cataract surgery as an adult, but was still mostly blind for the last years of his life. It never seemed to slow him down, although when walking, he did appear to be in a pinball machine at times. He could not find his way around as quickly, unless there was food at his destination.

As he got older, he was taking more and more medications, which eventually required that he be fed more often than the rest of the dogs, just to give him his morning pills. Luckily, he had learned the command “let’s go get coffee” earlier, and knew that meant to go to the kitchen. None of the other dogs ever learned this trick. It started because while Kevin worked at home, he would make coffee every morning before beginning work, and Bubba would go along, because he had also figured out that the cookie jar was near the coffee pot. After a few days, “Let’s go get coffee!” meant “Go to the kitchen and stand by the cookie jar.”

Bubba’s other unusual commands:

Go in your crate and get a cookie” – the fastest way to get him (and most siblings) in the house and into their crates when  his parents needed to go out. Bubba could learn to do anything if cookies were involved.

Let me see your belly!” – before his allergies were under control, he would have ointment or spray applied to any areas that were broken out. “Roll over” seemed too simplistic, I suppose, so when he was told “Let me see your belly!”, he would roll over and wait for medication.

I need your eyes” – also medically-minded. Bubba had two or three ointments applied to his eyes each day. He would avoid them at all costs – except if treats were involved. Since his parents couldn’t offer treats without all the dogs volunteering to get eye ointment, Bubba learned that “I need your eyes” meant ointment followed quickly by treats.

Almost napping

Almost napping

In his final days, he was assistant baby-sitter for Caleb Gilhooly, Virginia and Kevin’s grandson. Bubba would guard the baby’s crib whenever Caleb visited, mainly because food would often be tossed out of it. Caleb preferred Bubba over the other dogs because he was the quietest.

He is survived by his siblings, Ripley, Murphy, Katie and Flower,  his parents, Kevin and Virginia, and his playmate Caleb.