Shopping List


Here ya go, guys, My Dad’s doing stupid posts again.

Courtesy of our favorite Malt, here are a few tasty options to spice up your gustatory adventures.



Always get the salted version. Plain squid guts are rather bland.


Yeah, I thought it was suspicious, too.


Truna is expensive. Arhhhhhh.


They’d cost more if they were truna.

Okay, maybe the marketing has failed to sway you towards a seafood snack. Before we leave, perhaps you’d like to use the restroom. Fine, but follow the instructions.


I wonder how often they have had folks try the other position.

So, where do you find this kind of stuff? Of course.




Posted in The Dog From Rancho Cucaracha | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Music for Dogs and Otherwise

Max is not musically inclined. You might say he cannot tell his Yoyo Ma from his Yo Mama. You might say that but I wouldn’t because it would hurt his furry little feelings.

Max Headphones

Max wearing his earphones. Haters will say this photo was staged.

Despite Max’s disinterest, most dogs apparently do respond to music. There have been a number of studies that suggest canine behavior can be affected by music. According to an article in Psychology Today titled “Do Dogs Have a Musical Sense?”, the pups were calmed by classical music and agitated by heavy metal tunes.

Apparently normal human conversation and pop music did not produce behaviors different from having no sound at all. Take that and shake it, shake it Taylor Swift.

Music dogs love

Lisa Spector (“Through a Dog’s Ear”), is a so called pioneer of the dog music industry. Yes, there is such a thing.

Lisa is a concert pianist and Juilliard graduate who discovered that music could help dogs. Nowadays, she and her team “create arrangements of classical music designed to soothe anxious dogs and cats”.

At Max’s bidding, I fired up my Amazon Prime and did a quick search on Amazon for musical choices for doggies. There are tons available and in all kinds of formats. Spotify even has its own has dog music channel. Check out some of these offerings:

Dog music

These are often original compositions, not your usual Sinatra, Shostakovitch or Insane Clown Posse, a fave of the WordPress bloggers who frequent this site. Good dog music is tailored to simple melodies with soothing lower frequencies that calm the pooches and lower heart rates. You got to love some of the playlists.


Actual playlist.

But will a dog actually get his boogie on when offered these compositions, or is this stuff just savvy marketing targeted at owners who feel guilty for leaving their pets home alone?

What kind of music would your furball prefer to hear? Would poodles like punk? Some labs might prefer soul or R&B. Border collies would no doubt write their own concertos if they could stay still long enough.  Cats would probably like jazz but they would be too cool to admit it.

I think Max might reluctantly opt for the workout mix I use most often at the gym.

How could the Malt resist Zapp & Roger laying down that sweet syncopated funk with the now defunct talkbox lyrics.

Lock it in the pocket, brother.

But I digress.

In humans, music has the rare ability to bring back memories. Some songs simply burn deeply into our consciousness and I’m not talking about that evil earworm, the Barney the Purple Dinosaur theme.

As March 11 approaches, my mental CD player regurgitated a song that will always have an emotional impact to me.

March 11, 2011 was the date of the terrible earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown in Japan. I’ll never forget watching Japan TV with the Alpha Japanese Female and seeing the horrific events unfold.

The 9.0+ magnitude quake generated waves up to 133 feet high and killed 15,894 people, injured 6,156 and left 2,546 missing. Hundreds of thousands of people were left, not just homeless, but totally possession-less.

Japan has made a mighty effort at recovery. One tiny part of the recovery effort involves music and that’s how this post got started in my noggin.

NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization, produced the song “Hana wa Saku” (Flowers Will Bloom) to inspire public support following the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The song’s composer, lyricist, and singers of the original Japanese recording all have strong ties to the region affected by the disaster. The song rose rapidly to the top of Japan’s music charts and has stayed there. All royalties for musical composition and lyrics are being donated to the recovery effort.

The music conveys both beauty and sadness, two essential and intrinsic elements of the Japanese gestalt. The lyrics are a message from those who lost their lives to the people they left behind.

Flowers will bloom, oh yes they will,
For you, who are yet to be born someday
Flowers will bloom, oh yes they will,
For you, who are going to love someone someday.

Here is a link to the original version of the song, with the original singers, as presented by NHK with English subtitles. Take a look…it is a good set up for the next thing I want to share with you.

…..waits while you click link……..snore…….snore……Oh! There you are!

There is another version of Hana wa Saku that I find extraordinary. I recalled this one as I was watching the recent Winter Olympics.

As you’ll remember, the gold medalist in men’s figure skating was a Japanese – Yuzuru Hanyu.


Yuzuru Hanyu

Hanyu-san is generally regarded as the greatest figure skater in history.

He is a two-time Olympic champion, a two-time World champion, four-time Grand Prix Final champion, three-time Four Continents silver medalist, and on and on. Hanyu-san has broken world records twelve times, and currently holds three different world records.

Not too shabby for a kid with asthma who has trouble catching breath after skating.

Born in nearby Sendai, Hanyu-san has been a big supporter and contributor to earthquake/tsunami relief efforts and, in 2014, he held a one night ice show, which was broadcast on 24Hour TV, to bring in donations.

For that show, Hanyu-san skated to Hana wa Saku. His performance builds slowly and persistently and becomes one of the most beautiful and moving skates that I’ve ever seen. The jump at 3:09 is exquisite.

Here, watch for yourself. The lyrics are translated a bit differently on this version compared to NHK’s. The translation is less accurate but far more poetic and, to me, more accurately reflects what the Japanese version intends to convey emotionally. The AJF concurs.

There are Vietnamese lyrics, too, if that helps. Nah, didn’t think so.

Music can be many things to people and maybe, just maybe, there is something to the notion that music means something to dogs, too. I doubt ice skating means much to them.

So, as Max would say, “Wild ride there, Dad, from dog music on Amazon to earthquakes, tsunami, Japanese songs, Olympics and ice skating. How’s the ADD been treating you? You ready for your medications yet?”

Jazz cat

Jazz cat says, “Wow, man, stream of consciousness blogging, groovy.”

Smart aleck dog. I think I’ll crank up the stereo with a medley of “Macarena” and “It’s a Small Small World.” See how he likes that kind of dog music.

Posted in The Dog From Rancho Cucaracha | Tagged , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Lunch in Tokyo

I could easily write a lot of stories extolling the pleasures of a trip to Japan. The culture, scenery, history, people and all that malarkey but really, come on, none of you actually expect such literary aspirations from this silly dog blog.


Burger with squid ink bun from Burger King Japan. (Not my photo.)

Nah, you’re here for the weird stuff and when you talk about Japan, there’s no shortage of things strange and wonderful. Just look at the AJF. Oh wait, that didn’t come out quite right.

Japan offers it all: Maid Cafes or love hotels, fancy toilets or “crying rooms” which you can rent by the hour for an uninterrupted cry, tissues included. I’m not joking about this stuff. But let’s keep to tamer fare…

Let’s talk food! Or, more precisely, the lunch menu we encountered on our recent trip.

Chicken & Joy

The chow halls on the Ginza are all white table cloth establishments. It’s certainly no place for an Itchy Butt franchise.

Japanese menus are probably works of art when presented in the native tongue but when translated into English, things go awry.

One wonders who does these abominable translations and what they might have been smoking at the time.

Case in point, the fine Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant Torattoria Romanza Ginza.  OK, the first part of the name is written as it is pronounced in Japan so we can easily forgive the spelling “Torattoria” instead of “Trattoria.”


Now, mind you, this is a restaurant on the Ginza, a frou-frou shopping street that rivals the Avenue Montaigne in Paris, Via Monte Napoleone in Milan, London’s Bond Street, Rodeo Drive in LA or Fifth Avenue, New York.


Check out the appetizers page of the menu:

Romanza 1

I don’t know where to start with this utter train wreck of a menu.

The “dish of brag” is enticing, especially the “temporary leather mousse brulee.” Be thankful it’s temporary.



Not to be missed is the “Sweet garlic and risotto of fortune wrapped in the scent of the island”.

But my favorite selection is the “Lipieno of small rhinoceros with Japanese-style rash.”

Delectable…it’s the rash that pulls out the true flavor of the rhino, doncha know!

No doubt you all have been hankering for some really good  “cow peeled carpaccio” or some tasty “chicken boned confections.”

Maybe we should turn our attention to the second page of the menu:

Romanza 2

It’s the sheer inconsistency of the translation that drives me crazy. Line 1 is a “Pasta Lunch.” Great, no problem. But then, on the very next line we have “Pizza Ranch” which is not a farm in Italy. Nope, it’s “Pizza Lunch” but with a Japanese accent (although purists will say it should be “Pizza Runch.”) The random capitalization is also conducive to good digestion.

And somebody explain to me why, IN JAPAN, a bowl of rice is only available in limited quantities and why said bowl costs so much more on weekends.

Ai yai yai. Maybe the final menu page will be redeeming:

Romanza 3

I give up. I just give up. I suppose I’ll have to call the sommelier to recommend an appropriate accompaniment to my lipieno of small rhinoceros.

In closing, and for absolutely no reason whatsoever except this is a silly dog blog, here is the oldest photo in existence of Max. Utah, 2007.

More about our favorite Malt coming soon.


Even then he wasn’t 100% sure he should trust us not to abandon him and go eat lunch in Tokyo.



Posted in The Dog From Rancho Cucaracha | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

Max’s Upcoming Xmas in Jail

NOTE: The following post was written (duh, obviously) a long time ago but was never posted. I thought I’d toss this in just in case anybody still follows Max’s adventures.


The Malt will be spending Xmas in jail.

Meanwhile, the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) and I will be in Tokyo, supping on fine sushi, nibbling seasonal Japanese delicacies and quaffing decent sake.

Dog GIF Really

As you might imagine, Max thinks he is getting the short end of the fetching stick.

Not that he will suffer; his accommodations will be at his Vet’s office where he’ll get tons of affection and attention.

That’s as it should be. His medical treatments over the past months have provided for a very prosperous year. He’s Santa Dog, the gift that keeps giving.

Here’s a quick doggie update for the unfortunate three of you who actually read this silly blog and don’t just skim the photos:

After a tough summer and autumn, the Pupski’s paws finally healed. Wow, was that an ordeal, more for him than us but along the way we all took a turn in the Pit ‘O Misery – dilly dilly.

The new Vet was brilliant in his diagnosis and treatment. Max was weaned from the debilitating steroids the former Vet used in lieu of discovering and addressing the real problem of demodex mites.

The new medicines killed all the little mite bastards and once their small, stinking, fecal-filled and rotted corpses (let me know if I’m getting too graphic) were flushed from his hair follicles, the Malt recovered slowly but surely.

Along with the elimination of the mites came a big increase in Max’s energy. Without those nasty drugs he has lost quite a bit of weight and is more active, playful and just generally more youthful than before.

Best of all is that his new anti-itchy medicine (Cytopoint injections) has worked spectacularly well at making him comfortable despite his allergies.

But then arose a new crisis. The Vet concluded that Max had several teeth that needed to be removed. Some of the problem toofers were likely congenital issues but some were due to cracked teeth which allowed small abscesses to form at the root level.

In full disclosure, some of Floofer’s dental problems were probably due to negligence on our part. We were rightfully scolded for not being the most diligent of dog tooth brushers. Although his teeth looked white there was evidence of periodontal disease which might have been avoided had we done a better job as owners.

The Fluff did not seem to be in pain but we learned that doggers will often mask mouth problems because showing any distress in that area would make them appear weak in the eyes of the pack, a bad thing back in the day.

Hippie Dog

Righteous drugs, man.

So our favorite white dog just underwent six extractions. As I write this he is on the floor under my desk, eyes crossed, groovin’ on the fine pharmaceuticals prescribed to him.

His prognosis is excellent and we hope that this resolves the last of Max’s outstanding health problems.

All told, this year we shelled out about $3k on the Pupperoni’s medical expenses.

Even as I write that it seems hard to believe and it stings more knowing a fair sum of that total came from chasing treatments that never had a chance of working.

Thanks a whole bunch Doctor I-Hope-You-Get-Demodex-Mites-in-Your-Armpits.

OK, so I’m a little bitter.

Some folks think we’re crazy to have laid out so much cash – what? on an animal! – but we don’t regret it in the least. He’s a family member.

We love the little dog (who we now call “Gummy”) and, fortunately, we are in a position that we can take care of him and, hey, those kids don’t need an inheritance anyway.


Sorry kids, we spent it all on the dog.

We tried to tell Max how lucky he is but he keeps bringing up the Tokyo trip and moaning about being “abandoned” over Christmas.

Oh yeah, the Tokyo trip. Sorry, I digressed a bit.

It all started when a family squabble broke out about where to gather for Christmas dinner. Thanksgiving was a contested event but peace finally broke out. We weren’t thrilled at the idea of another bicker fest.

From our perspective, the only certainty was that the Big Feed would not be at our house – I mean, a major advantage of retired living is to freeload off the kids, amirite?

We envisioned sitting peacefully at one of the Chateau de la Spawn playing with the grandchildren, sipping wine, getting tipsy and nodding off during TV sports shows only to be gently woken in time for a fine dining experience.

In return, we promised to smile absent-mindedly from time to time, silently pass gas and forget the in-laws’ names like sweet old people are supposed to do during holiday gatherings.

When it appeared that no consensus was forming on a Christmas venue and the debate was devolving into an internicine battle of snipes, the AJF and I decided we’d simply eschew the tussle and, instead, treat ourselves to a jaunt to Japan. Take it from me, Christmas is a truly magical time of year in Tokyo.

Selfish? Of course. Neener, neener, neener. The kids will manage fine. We’ll dote on the grands at New Years and, besides, we’ll be leaving everyone some nice presents for Christmas morning. If we can’t earn their affection, we’ll buy it.

Sadly, we can not take Mr. Maxwell the Maltese along with us even though he would be an improvement over many of the typical passengers on that 12 hour flight. For one, his legs are too short to kick the seat back.

Anyway, he’s quite miffed about being boarded and it’s going to take a lot of apologies to regain his good graces when we return.


Maybe we’ll bring Gummy a nice souvenir and some soft Japanese treats.

Posted in The Dog From Rancho Cucaracha | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

The long and the short of it.

My good friend, author Maria Matthews in sunny Ireland (hahaha) wrote a short story about Max and her dog of stature, Bob. I am taking the liberty of re-blogging here – see excerpt below. Check out Maria’s blog for the whole story and more tales of Bob and his partner in crime, Ellie.



A very short story featuring Bob and his friend Maxwell

It was looking like snow. This was a special event in Ireland.

Bob was sitting staring out the kitchen window. He suspected it might snow but more importantly the oven was humming along with the cook who was rolling out biscuits.

“Hmm, biscuits,” Bob thought and set off to tell Max who lived a short distance away.

Cold, wet weather never bothered him because his thick coat kept everything from touching his skin. The extra bonus was fleas usually died before they fought their way through his coat.

Bob arrived at Max’s door. “Where is Ellie?” Max was peering over Bob’s shoulder.

“Didn’t bring her she is on cookie guard duty.”

Max didn’t linger. His short legs worked hard to keep up with his taller stocky friend.

“What happens if we get lost in this snow,” Max asked Bob as…

View original post 240 more words

Posted in The Dog From Rancho Cucaracha | 15 Comments

Max Attacked by Small Alligators!

Sorry to inflict upon you another tale about Max’s feet. This will be the last one as by now you must be incredibly bored.

From here on out, I might from time to time note any major improvements or problems but the seemingly endless blogging of paw problems ends here. For those interested, this post will provide a comprehensive update; for those whose tolerance to dog foot issues has already exceeded its sell-by date, leave now and save yourself.

You’ve been given fair warning.

Dad and Son socks

My sock, his sock.

This is not to say that the Maltese paw issues have resolved. Not at all; in fact, they have worsened but at least there appears to be light ahead.

For a couple of weeks we tried a plethora of home remedies to help heal Max but the results were unsatisfactory. We were somewhat timid in our experiments. Despite all of your great suggestions, we kept our ministrations mild because we were hung up on the principle of “primum non nocere”, meaning “first do no harm.”

Doubtless several of you more astute readers will have read that and immediately proclaimed, “Yuh huh, the Hippopotamus Oath”.


By the way, most everyone thinks that all medical students, as part of becoming doctors, are required to take the Hippocratic Oath which promises, among many other things, to “first, do no harm.”

That’s not entirely true.

While the quote is correctly attributed to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, it isn’t a part of the Hippocratic Oath at all. It is actually from another of his works called “Of the Epidemics”. Furthermore, whilst some medical schools do require this oath of medical students, many others use a different oath and some use no oath at all.

But I digress.

After the consistent failure of our home remedies and much research, we identified a husband and wife team of Veterinarians who possess exceptional qualifications and skills in veterinarian medicine as practiced in both Western and Eastern disciplines. A blend, if you will, of scientific and holistic approaches encompassing everything from high tech diagnostic equipment to Reiki to doggie acupuncture and nutrition counseling. (Yeah, that loud noise was my credit card screaming in agony.)


Still counting on the Lottery to fund the Malt’s healthcare. Bought the AJF a super scratcher but all 30 picks were a failure.

The Malt’s exam took well over an hour. The news wasn’t good. First, we were advised that the prescription of strong steroids over almost two years had damaged Max’s immune system and led to a possible early case of Cushing’s disease.

Next, we found out that the previous treatment plans were doomed to failure because they not only did not address the underlying cause of his foot problem, they exacerbated the problem; namely a severe case of demodex mites enabled by a severely suppressed immune system.


Demodex canis magnified about a bazillion times. They kinda, sorta look like alligators. Alligators from outer space. (Not my photo. Duh)

Mites! Yes, the skin scrapings confirmed he’s got plenty of the little monsters. So let’s talk mites, shall we?

When first informed, I suggested to the Vet that, based on the extent of the infection, they must be Mighty Mites! There were no snorfs. As I got the hairy eyeball from the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF), the Vet said, “Have you any idea how many times I’ve heard that?” I took his question as rhetorical and shut up.

I learned we all have mites. Everybody’s got them in one form or another: man, woman, and dog although the AJF contends that Japanese mites are more polite, bow before biting, and say arigato when done. Max probably has a genetic pre-disposition to demodex mites and likely got his original complement of blood suckers from his mother while nursing. Thanks, Mom.

No butt

You’re probably thinking you didn’t need to know this choice piece of trivia. How’s that breakfast taste?  (Also not my photo. )

Demodex mites are not visible to the naked eye or, for that matter, an eye wearing a cute frock and Christian Laboutin heels. Under a microscope the mites look a bit like deformed alligators.

There about 65 varieties of demodex mites including two that like to hang out in human eyelashes. Max’s version is Demodex canis which is not contagious to other dogs and is not considered zoonotic; in other words, does not transfer from dog to human (whew!).

Mite Upclose

Mites crawling out of hair follicles. This is happening to all of you right now. Feeling the itch, friend? (Oh yeah, not my photo.)

Whilst all dogs have mites, this is normally not a problem because said pooches are protected from the effects of mite bites by their immune systems. However, when a puplet is immuno-compromised (like our hero) the number of mites inhabiting the hair follicles and skin of the dog become exorbitant, causing skin lesions, incredible itching, inflammation, hair loss and worse.

Bad Foot 1

Swollen and inflamed.

Take a gander at these photos of the FurButt’s feet and cringe.

Bad Foot 2

Shaved and plucked.

Together with the Vet, we’ve developed a very detailed treatment plan to help the Malt recover.

We have to wean him from the steroids that he took in the past to suppress itching caused by allergies. This will require a tapering of medication over the next three weeks.

Immediately, Max was put on a new anti-itch product called Cytopoint which is a monoclonal antibody injection that, being a biological, avoids the negative side effects of the steroid.

But wait! Like a late night infomercial, there’s more! Max also has been put on anti-fungals to reduce complications from a yeast infection that apparently came along as a BOGO – buy one, get one free disease package.

He also received a slew of other medicines for the systemic elimination of the mites themselves, various palliative products – shampoos and lotions – to alleviate discomfort and a schedule for when and how to apply these goodies.

Lazy Dog 2

He eased his suffering at The Lazy Dog restaurant where he had burger, the AJF quaffed Pinot Grigio and I sampled the seasonal beers. We all needed a drink after we got the Vet bill.

Max was delighted when the Vet’s better half – Mrs. Vet – recommended that he be fed home-cooked meals only, henceforth eschewing packaged kibble and products with high carbohydrate content. The Pupperoni allowed as he would be courageous and accept steak, burger, stew and other delights lovingly prepared by the AJF. Also, take out from the Lazy Dog.

Lazy Dog Menu

The Lazy Dog is a classy dog joint. Avoid the “3 Bs”.


The Vet thinks that the recovery plan may take months before the negative effects of the steroids are diminished and Max’s immune system is again strong enough to combat successfully the mites. Meanwhile, it will be meds and booties, socks at night, special grooming and feeding and lots of attention.

Sounds like the AJF will be busy. Hehe.

As for me, I’m planning Max’s next Halloween costume. Can you guess what it might be?

Between the legs

I tried to watch TV but couldn’t avoid the Malt’s accusatory stare.

Posted in The Dog From Rancho Cucaracha | Tagged , , , , , , | 39 Comments


The saga of the paws has yet to resolve. It has become Max’s version of the Never Ending Story.


Come to think of it, Falcor from the Never Ending Story does look a bit like a Maltese. A Maltese that drinks too much.

The so-called new and improved treatment plan made little difference. Max’s feet are still inflamed and sensitive although somewhat less so than before.

We are losing confidence in Max’s veterinarian. That’s largely because we sense him shying away from possibly admitting that he just doesn’t know what the problem is.

keep-calm-and-i-don-t-know-38.pngAt our visit last week, after almost three weeks of different therapies focusing on bacterial infection as the likely culprit, the Vet proposed a time consuming and expensive new approach targeted at resolving a fungal infection. Say what?

If, at the outset, he wasn’t sure of the type of infection, shouldn’t there have been some skin test or scrapings or other diagnostics done before subjecting the Malt to bound feet, discomforts and all those antibiotics?

We are ignorant in these matters and it’s obviously presumptuous for us to make a judgment about the Vet’s competency. But the AJF is a mighty shrewd reader of people and her antenna (along with her hackles) have been raised.

Maybe it’s her long experience in grocery stores that lets her spot pure baloney at a glance. On the other hand, maybe it’s her long experience with me, but I digress.

Max Cone

Stinx is refusing to show his paws.

We elected to reject the fungus-among-us approach which would have mandated another 10 days of wrapped paws for the Fluffbutt. At this point we are going to focus on keeping his feet scrupulously clean, dry and protected whilst we secure a second opinion.

Have you guys had a similar experience with losing confidence in your pup’s Vet?

The first thing we did after returning from the Vet was give “Stinx” a bath. That’s what we started calling Max since his paw treatments have precluded us bathing him for some time.

See, when Maltese aren’t bathed regularly they start to smell like Fritos corn chips. Exactly like Fritos. That’s not bad provided you don’t have a ferocious case of the munchies.

After awhile, however, the Fritos fragrance starts to go rancid and Malts become smelly little doggos. Stinx had gotten to that point and beyond.

Shampoo 2

I’ve been known to drink wine that costs less per ounce than the Malt’s shampoo. A whole lot less. A whole, whole lot less.

Of course Stinx has his own special medicated shampoo. We get his shampoo through Amazon at about $2/ounce. It has chlorhexidine, climbazole, and phytophingosine whatever the hell those are.

Based on cost they are likely found on store shelves next to gold, frankincense and myrrh, whatever the hell that is.

On the other hand, my personal stand-by comes from WalMart at 23 cents/ounce. It has soap and some smell-good stuff. The label translates the selling features – “cleans and refreshes!” – into French so you know this is high quality product.

What you don’t know is just how tempted I’ve been to give Stinx a good scrub with a little Irish Spring.

Faith and begorrah, pup. shamrock-5

Posted in The Dog From Rancho Cucaracha | Tagged , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Defeat by Da Feet

At our last exciting episode, Max’s extremities were snugly bandaged in purple socks in the hope and expectation that his inflamed feet would quickly heal.

Well, the treatment did not work.Failure

We took him to the Vet’s office where his paws were carefully unwrapped as we stood by like little kids at a birthday celebration, waiting to see what was inside. Instead of four fresh pink paws, we encountered a quartet of red meaty appendages that were painful to look at and no doubt more painful to own.

The Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) was horrified and I could sense her internal volcano preparing to erupt like Pu’u O’o on a hot August night in Hawaii.

Imagine four tiny filet mignons with claws stuck to the ends of white, hairy sticks. No, forget that image. I took some photos but I’ll spare you the gruesomeness.

I must admit I wasn’t 100% surprised because I had been husbanding some doubts about the wisdom of wrapping his paws so thoroughly that fresh air was excluded. I’m a big fan of the sterilizing capabilities of sunshine and good air circulation.

Think Small

We expected days like this. But not everyday.

We talked Max’s case over with the Vet as my wallet started an anticipatory scream. A new plan was hatched that included new medicines, stronger antibiotics, and a more intensive paw-cleaning and maintenance regimen for the next ten days.

We elected not to re-bundle the Malt’s feet like before since that would be, well, stupid.

Instead, the AJF and I decided to put thin cotton socks on him when he was in the house and to overlay the socks with some kind of waterproof cover when he went outside.

So off we trundled to Target’s Infant and Toddler department where we secured some little white socks, for kids aged 6 months or Maltese aged 10 years. These we planned to secure to the Beast with surgical tape. As for the plastic covers for his treks into the backyard, four Glad sandwich bags and rubber bands sounded like the right apparatus.


“Looking good, Max!”………”Feeling good, Dad!”

The new paw regimen takes about 15 minutes to transact and it must be done every 12 hours. First, we clean his feet, then wash with chlorhexadine, dry with a hair dryer paying special attention between the toes, apply the antibacterial ointment, and finally cover with socks and secure. Then we give Max his oral medicine and, of course, a dog cookie if he is a good boy and he’s always a good boy.

We soon learned that Max hate socks. He became adept at removing the front pair very quickly even when well taped. The back pair was not a problem because dogs’ crooked  hind legs provide a convenient place to anchor the socks. What to do?


Max’s new, integrated sock-shirt outfit.

The creative AJF conjured the solution by sewing a pair of socks to the arms of Max’s football jersey thus creating a sort of dog “onesie”. Maybe just a halfsie since his back end was still open to the breeze.

Football shirt

Officially licensed product. The shirt, not the dog, although he has an official Rancho Cucamonga dog license.

Now, we haven’t decided if the Rams are our team of choice this football season or not – we have another option in the new LA Chargers – but as long as the shirt keeps Max’s socks on, we’ll happily advertise the Rams.

Flat out on floor

Here we see the exhausted Malt with freshly medicated paws in Target baby socks.

That left us with the Vet’s ever-mounting bill. Well, the AJF had a plan for that, too. She bought a lottery ticket for each of us. We have high hopes that one of our tickets will win tonight’s $370 million Powerball drawing!


Max’s very own Powerball ticket. If it wins, it automatically becomes my ticket.

Of course, the odds are a bit long at 1 in 292,201,338 but, hey, if you don’t play you can’t win.

If Max wins, you can expect to see a photo of him in diamond encrusted booties. Or maybe that will be me. Either way, we’ll know the Powerball results tonight and the next assessment at the Vet is in ten days.



Posted in The Dog From Rancho Cucaracha | Tagged , , , , , | 37 Comments

Booty Failure

You’ll remember Max had a paw problem that required medications and wearing booties for a week.

Some have inquired how the Fluff’s feet have been doing.

I believe “abject failure” best describes the outcome of the booty experiment.

So, Max had to return to the Vet today; his paws were worse than ever.

Max w bandages 2

Not happy.

The latest attempt at a cure to the mystery paw problem involves cutting the hair out between his foot pads, shaving the paws, applying medicine and then bandaging all four of them.

The Malt is not pleased even though they gave him some jaunty lavender socks to wear over his bandages.

He must wear the bandages for five days and then we’ll reassess progress.

The Pupper has already perfected his portrayal of a canine martyr. The AJF is buying into his performance and is cooing over him and supplying all sorts of goodies and lovies.

He knows better than to try that on me.

Max w bandages 1.jpg

Look at that face. You know he will be scamming the AJF to maximize the treats.

Having paid the Vet bill, I am looking into “gofundme” options and personal defibrillators.

On the upside, the Vet has now promised to name her first born after me in gratitude.

Posted in The Dog From Rancho Cucaracha | Tagged , , , , , | 36 Comments

Max Visits the Southwest (Part 3)


Our short stay in Durango was fun but we were looking forward to visiting the high country. We made an early start thus validating all those stereotypes you hear about old people on holiday. But we actually used the turn signals on our car.

Starting at just over 6,700 feet elevation, our first stop was at the historic mining and brothel town of Silverton at a more rarefied 9,318 ft (2,836 m) . Mining and, uh,  brotheling were inextricably linked in the Old West and both were enormously profitable in Silverton in the 1800s.

Silverton Mt View

Descending into Silverton from Durango along HIghway 550.

Today, Silverton is another high mountain tourist town chock-a-block with restaurants, bars, off-road vehicle rentals and gift shops. But there is a lot of history still to be found there in the many restored buildings, at the City’s museum and in the nearby hills.

Silverton Main St

In these parts, a Jeep is considered de rigueur.

From Silverton, Highway 550 rises abruptly and magnificently,  topping out after 8% grades at 11,018 ft (3,358 m) at Red Mountain Pass before descending into the self-proclaimed “Switzerland of America,” Ouray Colorado, population 1,100 full-time residents and a half-bazillion summer visitors.


A typical section of Highway 550 as one approaches Ouray.

The ride on Highway 550 is always fun. It is nicknamed the “Million Dollar Highway” and is listed among America’s most dangerous roads although to me that seems a great overstatement.

About that name… Ouray. No, it has nothing at all to do with the service calls of the various branches of America’s military forces. But since we are on that topic, more or less, let’s review those service calls.

Now, let me hear you shout them out, maggot. I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!

drill sergeant

Show me your war face.

Army: “Hooah.”

Marines:  “Oorah.”

Navy SEALS: “Hooyah.”

Air Force: “Huah.”

That was fun. Anyway, Ouray is actually named after a famous Ute Indian chief and his name means “arrow”. He was quite the remarkable man and you can delve a bit into his story here.

Ouray was our first stop on our tour of the San Juan Skyway, a 236 mile route through some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. This is what we came to Colorado to enjoy!

Although tiny, Ouray likes to speak of itself in superlatives. The village is set at the narrow head of a valley at 7,792 feet (2,375 m) and surrounded on three sides with 13,000 foot (3,963 m) snow capped peaks.


Glorious in all 4 seasons.

Aside from its self-promotion as a domestic Switzerland (i.e., without the grumpy banksters snuffling in their raclette), Ouray is acknowledged as the winter ice-climbing capital of the U.S. and home of the world’s first ice climbing park.

It once claimed the second largest gold mine in Colorado and still attracts many to amateur prospecting in the steep terrain around its five hot springs.

Mining is no longer a big part of Ouray’s economy which is now nearly 100% dependent on tourism. Summer activities in Ouray center on mountain biking, hiking, exploring the nearby waterfalls and off-roading in four-wheel drive vehicles into the San Juan Mountains.



Ouray Main Street. Note brewery on right. I like this town

We stopped in Ouray for lunch but spent little time there because the weather turned foul shortly after our arrival. We dined on an outdoor patio to accommodate His Royal Furriness and ended up huddled under the market umbrella trying to hold down our Cobb salads and the dog stroller as the wind, and dog, began to howl.

It was getting late, so we moved nine miles up the road to Ridgway, a town best known as the site for the old John Wayne movie “True Grit”. Actually, a number of western movies have been made there; the scenery is perfect for that kind of flick. In other celebrity news: Ralph Lauren owns a 17,000 acre ranch – “The Double RL” – in a jaw-dropping beautiful area just outside the tiny downtown.

Ridgway Park with Dog

Playing in the park at Ridgway. There were many art pieces and statues but Max particularly liked this one.

The following day our goal was Telluride, population 2,325. Telluride is a former silver mining camp founded in 1878. Strangely, the town was named for a type of mineral that was never mined there. Telluride sits in a box canyon surrounded by steep forested mountains and cliffs with Bridal Veil Falls at the head of the canyon.

3 of us Road to Telluride 3

The 3 Musketeers en route to Telluride.

Telluride is the archetype of Colorado’s schizophrenic high mountain tourist towns. On the one hand it is synonymous in pop culture with the lifestyles of the rich and famous and, indeed,  there is wealth that Midas would envy. Real estate ads by the dozens tout homes tagged at $4 – $20 million dollars and more. Movie stars fly into Telluride airport on their private jets and dinner can cost you an arm, leg or gonad.

On the other hand, the town has plenty of hard-core mountain adventurers and superb athletes who care only about the climb, the schuss, the ice canyons and little about cash. These folk happily co-exist with everyday working class, tourists galore and a fair number of characters who ought to be named Smelly McFuzzynuts for reasons left to your imagination. But I digress.

Stir all these together and you get Telluride where the people-watching is exquisite fun and your wallet takes a beating – we paid $17 for two hot dogs with chips and a Coke.

Hot Dog Telluride

Not kidding about the $17 tube steaks. Here’s photographic proof of our elegant repast in Telluride. Bought from a street cart, no less!

One thing for certain: Telluride is staggeringly beautiful in any season and paradise for those who like outdoor mountain activities.

Anecdote: Years back, the AJF darn near divorced me after I took her in my truck up one of the more difficult off-road trails. It was her first experience with negotiating gravel mining tracks and switchbacks only 15 inches or so wider than the truck’s wheelbase with sheer drop offs on one side. Once on the path there is no turning back so she had to endure a couple hours of what she deemed to be sequential near-death experiences.

Imogene Pass.jpg

The “road” that almost got me booted. Not my photo, but the same road and my truck was a larger vehicle.

Arriving safely back at town, she told me if I ever tried anything like that again (with her in the truck) she would walk out and never be seen again. She meant it.

Anyway, after spending time rolling Max around Telluride, we went sightseeing across Lizard Head Pass and around Trout Lake and ultimately ended up back at our lodge.

Trout Lake

Trout Lake near Lizard Head Pass. Nice now, but winters are brutal.

Our time was running out and we knew we had to leave Colorado and head home. Because of other commitments, our return journey was all about covering distance and nothing about sightseeing.

On one day we drove to Cedar City Utah and the next, all the way home. We chalked up the ferocious return trip and resultant monkey butt as the price we had to pay to enjoy the rest of the trip. It was worth it.

Durango Max on Grass.jpg

That was fun! Let’s go on another road trip! 

And that, fellow travelers, is the story of Max’s visit to the Southwest.





Posted in The Dog From Rancho Cucaracha | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments