Bettina's Studio

My people, my pitbull, my pictures, my Parkinson's


Blanche’s Corner

Children and Pets

Notes from Blanche:

After a hectic Christmas with Hug and Shrug and the gang, mom and I headed north to see her family, which this time included her sister. Mom only had one other person in her litter, another girl, whom I met once before, and she seemed to have a puppy of her own. When we first arrived at her house, a smallish creature opened the front door and promptly screamed and ran away. They wouldn’t let me get near him, which is a shame, because he smelled like hot dogs and peanut butter, and I was certain we could be great friends.

This time when we got to my mom’s parents’ house, the smallish creature was waiting in the window with his nose pressed up against the glass. He didn’t scream, which was good, but he did hide behind a TERRIFYING FENCE OF HORROR that made dreadful noises every time somebody moved it. He had matured, and he seemed more appreciative of me as a possible future companion. We exchanged several meaningful looks across the top of the TERRIFYING FENCE OF HORROR. I also noticed his scent has mellowed nicely in the yogurt-banana direction, with a soupçon of graham cracker.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized there was another small creature in the house. I didn’t see him as much as I heard him. The screams were terrifying. Like someone was possibly eating someone else’s head. Mom turned on a light in our room to check on the commotion – also to drag me out from under the bed, where I was hiding. When she opened the door to peek out, I saw him. At first I couldn’t believe that single wall of sound was coming from one animal. He turned and looked me right in the eye. Then he ripped the chew toy he was sucking on out of his mouth, threw it across the room and gave another yell.

He looks like a cross between a bear and a Great Mastiff, but compact. Like maybe if a pug ate Godzilla. That kind of strength. Like Hercules. Which is what I decided must be his name anyway. He has Popeye arms and he walks on all fours, just like me. But in a far less efficient manner. He travels back and forth like a sailboat. Like if Vikings built a sailboat. And then sailed it.

The taller one, whom I now understand manipulates the adults using charm (not the raw power of his younger sibling), did not seem to like being left out of the morning’s discussion. He also offered his own shouting to the day. Wait, did I say “morning” and “day?” I apologize. It was still too early for the sun at this point.

My mom’s eyes were narrowed into slits. She looked a little like the mole I found in the woods, but without the overbite. Her sister said “Merry Christmas!” really nicely, but it was in the voice mom uses when I have something I shouldn’t in my mouth. Like a nail. Or her toothbrush.

Mom tried to go back to sleep, but after she turned the lights off, put her earphones in and pulled the comforter up around her face, I remembered I had to poop. So we got to see the sun come up after all!


IMG_2693I don’t know why my mother is so terrified of small, edible, jumping and crawling creatures. In the past year she has broken her hind paw and last week nearly chopped off the end of one of her you’re-in-trouble-now pointy fingers while she was without so much as a whimper (why humans don’t eat dried food from a bag is beyond me – it’s way safer – and you can’t cut off a paw on a Kong filled with peanut butter). But last night when one of the jumpy waving-many-legs-around things hitched a ride on her treat bag upstairs, she screamed so loudly I had to hide in the bathroom for a minute.

She kept pointing at the big treat bag (with her good finger) and shouting at me to “Go get it!” She forgets that a brown jumpy thing on a blue treat bag is invisible to someone who is COLOR BLIND – hello, mom?! Duh! It finally did a little crawl and then it jumped in the air, which is when I went into attack mode. He cleverly tried to hide under the queen-size dog bed mom shares with me, so I couldn’t reach him, even when I stuck my butt all the way in the air and sniffed at him loudly. Mom did a Superman and moved the entire bed over so I could get at him, but I was so stunned by how fast she moved and the quantity of furniture she re-arranged that I sort of lost interest in the jumpy thing and stared at her for a while. I like staring. It throws people off. I wait until it gets awkward and then I bark. Scares the crap out of people. I laugh every time.

Mom finally got a long-handled brush out of the shower, which really scared me because I have some kind of weird PTSD about stuff. All kinds of stuff. Stuff that makes noise. Flags. Hats. Umbrellas. Everything really. So I just froze and watched her beat that little thing into a gooey pile of still-waving arms, which she flushed down the toilet. Three times. While screaming.


I’m just not a morning dog. Never have been. I mean, why on earth would I want to leave a warm bed? Particularly when it’s mom’s bed. She has piles of pillows and blankets that she likes to play “Fort and Moat” with. Don’t know that game? It’s where she builds up her pillow and blanket Fort and then yells “Move” at me until I leave space for her on the bed. Then, while she’s sleeping, I cross the “Moat” by crawling slowly toward her until I’m lying at least partially if not completely on top of her. I win every time!

When we stay at my boyfriend’s house, he and I play the same game, but now there are two people to knock off the bed. Thor is large enough that he doesn’t have to use much strategy to win. He just gets on the bed and stands over mom or my stepdad breathing heavily. Then he takes his giant lion paw and pets them. Or else he puts his head on someone’s chest. He could kill a decent-size bird with the weight of that head.

IMG_2081I tried sleeping with Hug one night, but he has a twin bed. I’m guessing that all twins have to sleep in a twin, but it’s a bit disappointing as far as beds go. It’s really no bigger than a dog bed, but long. Like a matchstick with sheets and a comforter. There just wasn’t any place for me to really stretch out.

I’m excited that winter is on the way. It’s electric blanket season! Nothing warmer than curling up on a hot blanket for a game of Bundt Cake! I sleep as close as I can to mom so the combined heat of my body and the electric blanket makes her feel like she’s baking in an oven. It’s all kinds of fun!

The B is Back


I know you’ve missed me. I’ve really just been so busy since mom finally got rid of those two extra legs and started walking around on her own again. She even took me on a walk, like old times. Okay, it was less of a walk then a stumble, but I’m patient. I mean, who needs to walk quickly enough that all four of your paws are moving at the same time?

I’ve also been pretty occupied with my new relationship. I’ve been dating this big, dumb blonde for over a year now. It was platonic at first — probably because when I first met him, he tried to bite my face — but we eventually fell in love, and things have been great. He lives with this old man, a shrill beagle mix named Rico, who shivers during thunderstorms and for some reason gets pretty pissed off when I lick his teeth. His teeth are gross. I don’t think he’s brushed them since he left the homeless shelter, so I figure I’ll just help out, but this guy points his tail up to the sky and gets all growly and shrieky, like a girl ghost getting pinched. Or something. Thor usually breaks it up at that point. He’s a bit more brawn than brain, but I have to admit, I like ’em fuzzy, so I can’t complain.


Mom and I spend lots of time at her boyfriend’s house. I’m totally okay with having a stepdad, and I’m comfortable letting him know I accept him. I usually try to give him a nose bump or a lick to boost his confidence. I try to do it just after he’s ironed his pants for work so I can leave a little wet nose mark on his knee or his butt. When I do, he usually shouts his approval really loudly and waves his arms around like he’s fighting a bee. What a riot. He really keeps me laughing.

Her boyfriend has three boys in his litter. Two of them match. I call them Hug and Shrug. Hug likes to crawl into my muffin cup with me – that’s what mom calls my little round bed. He rolls around with me until he gets a nice thick coating of black hair. He usually manages to sweep up a generous serving of Thor’s blonde hair that’s on the floor, too. So when Hug stands up, he looks a little like a black and white cookie, or a stuffed panda. That’s when his dad does the invisible bee-fighting and yelling again. What a card.

Shrug pretends he doesn’t like me. He makes a big show of saying, “Blanche, get away from me.” Since I’m in on the secret (that I’m his favorite), I usually just stand up and try to give him a love bite on the nose. Shrug is a big yeller. “He bit me!” he’s always saying, and I’m like, “I’m a she, dummy!” Fun. And. Games!

The tallest one in the litter likes to walk around the house with no shirt on, telling jokes like, “Blanche, don’t lick me. Don’t lick me, don’t lick me.” He says it really fast, like it’s one giant sentence. That’s how I know it’s a game. I usually aim for his knees or his feet, but sometimes I’ll manage to get his chest when he leans over to get something out of the fridge. That’s when he starts yelling and invisible bee-fighting. Like father, like son!


What Did The Fox Say?


It’s been an exciting couple of weeks up here with mom and the two people who feed her. I’ve had the liberty of exploring the entire Connecticut landscape, and I’ve learned some things about nature that I’d like to share.

1. The fox does NOT say all that stupid crap the humans say he does in that song mom sings. The fox actually just wants to play. He interrupted me while I was pooping in the rhododendrons this morning. Just as I was about to hurl myself at him enthusiastically, I heard a loud banging on the kitchen window. Mom was waving her new metal paws at me and shouting. I think she was excited I was making a new friend. I chased him around for a little bit, but I got bored and he was fast, so the relationship never had a chance to flourish like I’d hoped.

2. Fish come from the sky. Cross my heart they do. I was racing along in the underbrush yesterday afternoon when that terrifying eagle swooped low over me and dropped something. After I recovered from my heart attack (I swear to dog that bird casts a shadow larger than a World War II bomber), I noticed that Mr. Fancy Audubon had dropped a rather large fish right in my path. I rushed back to the house to show mom my fresh catch. The loud man who cooks rushed out and grabbed the fish away from me and put it in a plastic bag. I’m sure he fried it up for mom for dinner.

3. Field mice run really, really fast. They are only slightly more fun to chase than dead birds. With dead birds, I have to dig really deep below the permafrost to fish one out of its hiding place. Then I can toss it around and watch it spin across the icy snow pack. Confession: I may or may not have used my active pursuit of the field mouse as an excuse to ignore the giant possum lurking around the side of the garage. Mom was all, “Phew!” that I didn’t see the possum, and I was all like, “Thanks!” to the field mouse for keeping up the running-away charade, and the mouse was like, “Please don’t eat me!” So that whole thing was worth a good laugh.

4. I’ve discovered some stuff to add to my list of Stuff That Freaks Me Out: large pillows on small chairs, hanging laundry, newspapers, placemats, people who come within four feet of mom, crinkly packages, going out the front door, coming in the front door, the garage door. Also…sort of a little bit of everything else.

Life back in the ‘burbs is going to feel a little boring after all this.

Fame Hound


You’ll have to forgive me for being a little bummed out. Actually, I’m more annoyed than bummed, but nuance in expression is not a dog’s forté. There’s only so much you can convey with eyebrows the same color as your face. I’m just saying.

This morning, as mom and I were reading the latest tweets about the snow storms making it difficult for me to pee without sitting in a pile of ice, and she found out The Weather Channel is getting its own therapy dog. For the love of poodles, why? Does Jim Cantore really need that kind of emotional support? And they adopted it from the American Humane Association, which, excuse me for saying is a rather suspicious organization. Who wants to work with a group whose acronym is an expression of surprise – AHA!

Okay. Okay. I’ll admit it. It’s just sour grapes on my part. And grapes are lethal to dogs, so you know I’m serious. The truth is, I entered the AHA competition to become the Weather Channel’s therapy dog, and I didn’t even get into the final round. That story about me eating part of mom’s car must have gotten around.

Mom also recently read to me about Secretary of State John Kerry’s new dog, Ben. Kerry takes Ben TO THE OFFICE. That big, goofy lab (who probably eats his own poop) gets to prance around the State Department and the halls of Congress like he’s a presidential Portuguese Water Dog. What the fried snacks, people? I tried to get into a Twitter war with Has-Ben (as I like to call him), but the State Department blocked me. Diplomatic sidebar: instead of everyone ganging up on Hillary Clinton for her supposed political gaffes, how about taking a look at good old drooly Ben-Gazi. There’s something I don’t trust about him. I don’t even think he’s a natural blonde.

That’s enough ranting for today. I have to go back out into the wild tundra of snow and find a respectable place to pee. Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!


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