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Merci Beaucoup-Grazie Mille-Danke Schoen-Muchas Gracias

search You guys totally rock! There are so many ways to say thank you, but it’s not easy to truly express how appreciative writers are that we have readers who can’t wait for our next book to release, and who happily immerse themselves in the worlds we create as if they truly exist. I know that happens because it does to me as a reader too, and there are many times I’ve reached out to fellow writers just to thank them for giving me a great place to escape to for a little while. As a writer I know how much it means for a reader to let me know that my book has touched them somehow. And when bad things happen in the world and times get particularly uncertain, even scary, what an amazing thing it is to be able to retreat to your favorite stories, to a place of comfort and good cheer. So I’m particularly thankful, as a reader, for the many writers whose words have entertained and informed me over the years, but even more so as a writer, for all of those readers who have enjoyed my books and better still reached out to let me know. It keeps me focused on writing more books, so I hope you’ll keep those emails and social network comments and great reviews coming, and I thank you for joining my crazy world for a little while!

And if you’re looking for a new author to try out, you can get a free book of mine here when you sign up for my monthly newsletter and you’ll be first to hear about steals and deals…and I’ve got a fabulous freebie I’m going to be announcing in January, so you’ll know first!

And I’ve got all sorts of new books out!

Upcoming books

Book 5 of the It’s Reigning Men series, Shame of Thrones, which comes out December 16, is available for pre-order from iBooks, Kindle, and Kobo.

And I’ve got a release date for Book 6, Throne for a Loop! It’s going to be released March 8 and is available for pre-order from iBooks, Kindle, and Kobo.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and safe holiday, with plenty of time to relax and read ;-)



Anywhere But Here by Jenny Gardiner Slim To None by Jenny Gardiner

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Categories: Bad to the Throne, Bite Me: a Parrot A Family and a Whole Lot of Flesh Wounds, Books, Chick Lit, Heir Today Gone Tomorrow, I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship, It's Reigning Men, Jenny Gardiner, Love is in the Heir, Naked Man on Main Street, Shame of Thrones, Something in the Heir, Throne for a Loop, Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me, women's fiction, writing

La Bella Vita

We were blogging on a group blog recently about locations: writing locations, settings in books, etc. As luck would have it I’d just returned from an amazing month away on a working vacation in Italy and Morocco. 

Below is my post about working vacations. Keep scrolling for some fun pictures of my work venues for that month, and even further down, squeee!!!, you get a first peek at my latest book cover for book 4 in my IT’S REIGNING MEN series, LOVE IS IN THE HEIR, available for pre-order and set to release in late September.

Oh! And book three, BAD TO THE THRONE, releases on June 29. It is my favorite so far in this series, complete with a Harry-esque bad boy prince who I think you’ll fall for…

 And lastly, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter–which will be going out next week. There’ll be a little special something in there for your efforts ;-) .

I recently returned from a lovely working vacation in Italy and Morocco. And the hard part of a working vacation is the work part.

I departed for our trip with a deadline pending for the third book in my It’s Reigning Men series. I had a lot of fun writing this book–the hero in it is a rakish Prince Harry-esque black sheep, and I just loved his attitude. So I didn’t want to rush to end the book, plus I was scrambling to get ready to leave, so I left the final third of the book dangling…

Which meant I had a few days during my trip in which I had to just hunker down, abandon the idea of being a tourist, and focus on writing. Of course this was a bit of a bummer, because I would have far rather wandered the streets of ancient Italian cities and settled in for a leisurely lunch of pappardelle al sugo di anatra (fat strips of homemade pasta with amazingly delicious duck confit cooked in a red sauce) and a glass of Chianti. Which would have led to the need for a nap which would have meant no writing.

So instead, I savored my “rooms” with a view, and hunkered down to finish my novel with some of the most spectacular scenery going.

We writers are so blessed that we can do our work pretty much anywhere. And over the years I have, by default, done that: in pick-up line at the kids’ schools, on the sidelines at soccer practices, with ear plugs in while the kids watched the television that is mere feet from my “desk” which is in the kitchen and basically means hardly a quiet zone.

So my designated work stations while away this time were pretty much unbeatable: at our B&B with a spectacular view of the Duomo di Siena, which is a breathtaking work of architecture; while sitting on the ponte di Santa Trinita in Florence, with a view of the famed Ponte Vecchio in front of me and the world’s most amazing gelato just steps away (Gelateria Santa Trinita—if you’re in Florence, go there and try the sesamo nero, which sounds weird, black sesame seed gelato, but is incredible).

I wrote at an outdoor bar in the delightfully colorful Piazza Santo Spirito (full of great people-watching, which sort of causes problems when trying to focus on writing!), in the Oltrarno, the section of Florence across the Arno River that is more residential and relatively less touristy.

Not for the first time I enjoyed writing in the Giardino di Boboli, the spectacular gardens that are part of the imposing Palazzo Pitti (hoarding headquarters for the Medici family), with a splendid view of all of Florence.

I regretted missing a fascinating tour of the city of Matera in the Basilicata region of Italy, down by the boot heel. My husband got to take that tour while I hunkered down on the deadline-iest of deadline days: I absolutely had to get my book to my editor on that day or it would screw up my publication date, which would make me an enemy of Amazon ;-) . Far be it from me to get on the bad side of Amazon…

Anyhow, the “Sassi” in Matera are a United Nations World Heritage site—originally a prehistoric troglodyte settlement, considered to be among the first human settlements in what is now Italy. The Sassi are caves dug into the rocks, from which an ancient town sprung, one cave atop the other, until a warren of many thousands of caves piled atop and next to one another existed. Until the mid-20th century these caves were inhabited by the poorest of the poor, who were ultimately relocated to housing with plumbing and other modern comforts. Since then the area has been rebuilt to house apartments, hotels, restaurants and shops. It’s an amazing place, extraordinarily beautiful at night when lit up, too.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had such an phenomenal opportunity to travel and experience the world and various cultures and incorporate it into my writing (and am grateful that my husband has afforded me these opportunities because trust me, writing isn’t paying these bills). On this trip also, we visited Morocco, and immersed ourselves in an entirely different culture there (and, um, learned the hard way that the closest place to the Sahara desert in which to find a tampon would be a rugged 10-hour drive through the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech…)

Along the way I also worked on my book while waiting for a grocery store to open in Siena as I needed to buy laundry detergent and was in a hurry to get it done before we traveled to Florence.

I love to incorporate things I experience while traveling into my books, and have used quite a bit of my extensive Italian travels in my current series, the It’s Reigning Men series, especially with the third book of the series, Bad to the Throne, which is available for pre-order now here and will be released June 29.

I hope you can enjoy a little bit of my journeys as you read my books! And please, do enjoy the view!


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Categories: Bad to the Throne, Bite Me: a Parrot A Family and a Whole Lot of Flesh Wounds, Books, Chick Lit, Heir Today Gone Tomorrow, humor, It's Reigning Men, italy, Jenny Gardiner, morocco, road trip, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, travel, Via Francigena, women, women's fiction, writing venues

In Tribute to our Beloved Dog, Bridget

Bridget as a bright-eyed pup
Bridget as a bright-eyed pup
photographer Jen Fariello captured Bridget beautifully here
photographer Jen Fariello captured Bridget beautifully here

It is with the heaviest of hearts that our family has had to bid farewell to our beloved dog Bridget, who was a part of our family for 15-1/2 years. Bridget passed in her sleep peacefully.

It was nothing short of a miracle that she lived that long, what with her propensity to follow her bliss and nearly daily for many, many years making a break for it through her electric fence (despite the beefed-up fortification in the collar), following her part-Australian heritage (cattle dog/Blue Heeler/dingo) to go on a walkabout. 

IMG_3846With regularity we made calls to neighbors, hoping someone had gotten a bead on Bridget’s location as she ran with abandon through streets, yards, ponds, woods and occasionally beloved mudpits that flank our neighborhood. Once she was found miles away across a busy highway that we still can’t figure out how she got to.

Bridget went by many names: Bridget, Lulu, Loochie, Smooch, Smoochie, Bear, Poochie and Poochalina, though our parrot Graycie knew her only as Bridget, which we know because she frequently yelled at Bridget (in my voice) to stop barking (and to not eat her). We called her the Pick-Up Truck Dog Living in the Mini-Van World, and while she no doubt would have loved to roam for her whole life on a wide swath of farmland, I think she was relatively happy we rescued her from an abandoned litter left to die on the side of a road. We’re only sorry we never had the time to get her involved in agility courses, because she was a clever, intelligent girl and would have loved that. Nevertheless, she was equally happy romping in the woods and coming up with a deer leg in her mouth, or with her snout buried to her eyeballs in a mud puddle by the creek.

IMG_4400We joked that Bridget shed her coat for all seasons, between the Australian bit of her and the Husky part, and that Husky blood  meant she loved nothing more than a good snow. Luckily she got to enjoy a few more this winter, burying her face in the snow and happily prancing down our steep hill out back, aging hips be damned. 

Even yesterday she was frolicking around like a pup, enjoying a beautiful, sunny, relatively warm afternoon, rolling around on the hill out back. When she came in covered in straw, I tried coaxing her back outside to brush the grasses off, and, in keeping with her lifelong distrust of anyone who wanted to catch her, she ever so reluctantly relented (after making me work for it), just barely allowing me to dust off the collected hay on her fur (and flinching first, natch). 

Last night the cat even let her give her a good sniff, so maybe Sushi knew it was Bridget’s time. Lulu got to lick the ice cream bowl at bedtime, and enjoyed a few doggy cookies just as she went to bed last night. All in all a good day for an old dog, who will be missed terribly by her human family. Today Sassy, our 12-1/2 year old labrador, is staying close by my side. I am sure she is sad to lose her ever-so-dominant sister.

Dear, sweet Bridget, we hope you are now able to roam the wilds of heaven with nary an electric fence or gun-wielding hunter or treacherous car or thoughtful neighbor to stop you. We love you, sweet Lulu. Rest in ever loving peace.

In Bridget’s honor I’m posting below a quintessential Bridget story that appeared in the humorous dog anthology I’M NOT THE BIGGEST BITCH IN THIS RELATIONSHIP (proceeds of which benefited the Humane Society, fitting, for our pound pooch).



When I think about it, it’s a wonder our rescue dog didn’t come into our lives wielding a leather whip, sporting black patent leather thigh-high boots and a spiked collar. While the accoutrements of her temperament did not accompany her, the dominatrix collar would come, eventually. Only to her chagrin, it would be at her expense.

Bridget—our dingo–mush dog mash-up—came to us ready-made with issues. So much so that early in our relationship, a friend gave us a book on how to live with a neurotic dog: Everyone in our circle of friends knew that Bridget required coping skills far beyond what’s required for your average mutt.

An impulse acquisition just a little too soon after the loss of our first dog, Bridget made up for in cute what she lacked in social acceptability. From a litter of abandoned five-week-old pups left on the side of the road to die, Bridget’s survival skills held her in good stead long enough to be rescued; her mesmerizing gemstone blue pie eyes gave her the edge in landing a group of suckers who didn’t quite need a high-maintenance dog, but would never dream of giving her up once in their care. That would be us: the Gardiners, who never met a pet they wouldn’t go to the ends of the earth for, against all logic.

Now some of you may know about my family because of my memoir about our demanding African gray parrot, Graycie, a surprise gift nearly twenty-five years ago (the gift that keeps on giving, we like to say). Between our three small children (a fourth, if you count Graycie, with the intelligence and manipulative skills of a clever toddler), a few doddering cats with failing kidneys, and a not-even-back-from-the-crematory dead dog, by the time Bridget came along, we were up to our eyeballs in creatures that needed our undivided attention.

Bridget, keeping silent vigil over her yard
Bridget, keeping silent vigil over her yard

Despite yearning for a break from dog maintenance, lingering in the back of my mind when confronted with the immediate prospect of taking home this adorable pooch was the mantra I’d heard so often in my life about how great adopted dogs are.

“Get a pound pup!” people would advise (unsolicited, mind you). “They make the best pets. They’re so grateful for your love, and much more well behaved.”

I’m fairly sure these are the same people who’d assured me that my oversized nine-plus-pound newborn would sleep through the night in a matter of days (versus the nine months it took). In any event, Bridget must not have gotten that memo.

Bridget is sharp, both in intellect and appearance. There are no soft, smooth, family-dog curves to her. She’s seemingly made up purely of geometric angles, from her long narrow snout and her pointy ears—prone to shift position like satellite antennae when discerning noises—to her angular haunches, which jut up like shark fins when she’s poised in permanent ready-to-pounce mode. The only curve to her is her bushy tail, which arches in a regal semicircle, the tip of which sometimes dusts the food on our dinner plates when she walks beneath the table at mealtime.

I’ve always thought Bridget had the intellect and guile to work in counterintelligence were she human; she’s savvy, intuitive, sometimes too smart for her own good. Even at the ripe age of eleven, our girl is perpetually at the ready, void of the capacity to rest at will. Too much to do, too much to be wary of. Rarely does she sleep lying on her side; relaxation does not come easily to her.

Bridget's favorite task was surveying her terrain; he she keeps guard over the back yard
Bridget’s favorite task was surveying her terrain; he she keeps guard over the back yard

Bridget came with three pronounced problems that needed correction: dominant aggression (who knew that snippy pups became bitey dogs? Labradors never do!); severe wanderlust (which meant containing a creature with the single-minded determination to escape theretofore only seen in Allied POWs); and incessant barking (the latter two no doubt being mere subsets of her dominatrix spirit).

The aggression surprised us—we’d brought home an extremely docile puppy. Hell, those first few days, we could’ve bitten her and she wouldn’t have complained, sleeping peacefully in our laps as she did. But once we de-wormed her and got rid of a bad case of temperament-suppressing parasites, Bridget morphed from mild-mannered to wild-mannered, so dominant she even lifted her leg to pee. So dingo-dominant we took to regularly saying with a pronounced put-another-shrimp-on-the-barbie accent, “Dingo ayte mah baybay” when in her presence. She’d put any male dog to bitter shame, hands down. Our first task was to dominate the hell out of the dog by poking, prodding, picking, pulling, and otherwise letting her know we were her bosses. This worked, to the surprise of the vet who’d warned us to give her away because her aggression could be dangerous. But we could never have cast aside a pup our family had fallen in love with, and so we worked within her constraints. Sure, maybe she transferred her dominance of people to dogs, but that we could live with.

By then the kids had taken to calling her Lulu, a highly extrapolated bastardization of some Portuguese term of endearment our Brazilian neighbor used with her daughters. It sounded something like pichulinha, which the kids changed to Poochaleenia, which then became Smoochie Pooch, which then became Looch, which then became Loochie, which then became Lulu. For good measure we threw in the middle name of Louise, so that when it came time to chastise her for bad behavior (a frequent happening), we had just the right cadence: a commanding “Bridget Louise Gardiner” in a stern voice that seemed to elicit far more respect than merely hollering “Lulu!”

notice the wolf-like shadow: even on a leash, she wanted to be a wild wolf
notice the wolf-like shadow: even on a leash, she wanted to be a wild wolf

With the dominance at least in check, we had to address her unrequited wanderlust, so that Bridget didn’t end up on the wrong end of a hunter’s rifle in the plentiful woods surrounding our home (even I have mistaken her tan, rust, and black camouflage coat for a fleeing deer amid the autumn woods), or meet a premature end courtesy of a passing car. Used to her freedom since infancy, being contained in an acre-sized yard was practically solitary confinement for Bridget, whom we’d learned was part Blue Heeler, an Australian dingo-canine marriage bred to nip at the heels of wayward cattle to keep them in line. Whenever we take Bridget hiking, she runs loops around us, as if to herd us along according to some mysterious genetic dogma. The irony did not escape us that a dog tasked with corralling other creatures defied corralling herself. She has the speed of a cheetah and can accelerate from zero to sixty faster than a Mustang convertible. So being limited to the confines of a quasi-rural suburbia wasn’t exactly to her liking.

looking bashful, but really a wolf in sheep's clothing ;-)
looking bashful, but really a wolf in sheep’s clothing ;-)

We took to calling Bridget the Pickup Truck Dog Living in the Minivan World. Poor thing was ill suited to a universe not completely of her own free will. When the standard electric fence failed to restrain her escapist tendencies (I swear she sat there smugly buffing her nails, puffing her breath to polish them up just as she steeled herself for the breakout each time), we knew we had to graduate up to the “stubborn dog collar.”

Powered by a nine-volt battery in a fist-sized pack, the collar issues a jolt to any border-crossing violator who dares compromise its perimeter. Finally we were able to somewhat confine Lulu to prevent her from being hit by a car (or terrifying elderly passersby and impressionable children with what ultimately became a rather menacing ice blue glare she’d mastered). We still recall the guilt-inducing moment at which Bridget first tried to breach her mother-of-all-dog-fences: She let out a yelp so long and loud that our parrot immediately picked it up and began repeating it, just to make us feel worse (even if it was for her own safety). This fence didn’t always keep Lulu in; rather, it gave her pause to consider long and hard whether it was worth the zap. So at least her meanderings dropped from daily to quarterly. Progress, in our estimation.

The barking, however, seemed to defy any and all of our attempts to subdue it. We’ve been told it’s the husky in her, but whatever it is, her barking is the hallmark and bane of our lives. Bridget barks to get in, she barks to go out, she barks to go up, she barks to come down. She barks to get fed, she barks because she doesn’t want food. She barks at houseguests, our neighbors’ houseguests, probably at houseguests in the neighborhood adjacent to ours. She barks at the mailman, the UPS man, the FedEx man. If we had a gardener, she’d bark at him (or her). She barks at people walking by, dogs walking by, cars driving by, birds flying by, bunnies hopping by, deer gamboling by, squirrels, mice, cats, tumbling leaves, mist, enveloping fog, fear-instilling thunder, jangling telephones, and our wing-flapping parrot. You name it, she barks at it.

bridget loved to catch wasps--waiting to pounce
bridget loved to catch wasps–waiting to pounce

Yes, attempts were made to curb the behavior. Clicker training—known to work even on feral cats!—meant to whip Bridget into obedience shape worked basically only when Bridget wanted it to. That would be when she was in the mood for the malodorous liver treats that worked best. Unfortunately, Bridget has always been an eat-to-live dog (unlike our live-to-eat Labrador, who would probably tap dance while whistling “Dixie” if it meant getting more food), and more often than not couldn’t care less about a freebie Scooby Snack. Fact is, the only thing we had that she really wanted was her freedom.

And so one night when my husband was away and I was hosting a large gathering of women from the neighborhood for a ladies night out party, Bridget’s barking became too much. Despite the deafening din of the chatter of nearly a hundred women, Bridget’s shrill, ear-piercing bark each time the doorbell rang was threatening to ruin the party. Now, I know that everyone “in the know” in the dog world sees nothing wrong with crating a dog. Sure, crating has its purposes. But crating Bridget in particular always gave me pause, because despite her love of a good cave to protect her from an abiding fear of impending storms (trust me, she’s crashed her way out of all containment vessels, scratched her way out of drywall and even wall-to-wall carpeting when the crack of thunder or fireworks is upon us), she loathed being stuffed in a dog crate. But I knew it might be my only chance at silencing the thing. I tried to placate her with a large beef bone. Bridget had what’s called a hard mouth and could chew her way through stainless steel if given enough time, so we’d abandoned cute little puppy toys—which ended in shreds and shards—in favor of the more durable beef shank bones, which I’d boil and stuff with cheese or peanut butter. I’m fairly certain hundreds of years hence, archeologists will encounter countless cow femurs buried in the myriad holes that Bridget has dug in our once pristine yard and will wonder what kind of legs-only creature once must have roamed this land.


Sure enough, for the duration of the party, Bridget remained quiet in her spacious cage in the darkened mudroom. Somewhere in that reptilian area of my brain that senses impending disaster, I knew that she was stewing. Stewing and scheming. I just felt it in my bones. But a few glasses of wine later, I was sufficiently lubricated into a false level of trust in our little beastie girl.

A few weeks earlier I’d overheard a neighbor at a Christmas party lamenting, “And she just barks and barks and barks.”

Still fairly new to our town, I was especially sensitive to our dog’s intrusive ways.

always on the alert
always on the alert

“I hope you’re not talking about Bridget,” I said with more than a bit of trepidation.

“As a matter of fact, I am,” she replied, minus any warm smile that would have assured me it was fine.

So when another invited neighbor couldn’t attend my party because she had to awaken at four in the morning to catch a flight, I knew I didn’t want Bridget to pull her usual shenanigans post-party and sneak out to bark at the moon and various nocturnal creatures when I wasn’t looking.

Bridget dominating poor Sassy even in the car. She loved going for rides in the car...
Bridget dominating poor Sassy even in the car. She loved going for rides in the car…

Nearing midnight, as I focused my attention on hauling several leaking and bottle-laden garbage bags out the back door, that opportunistic canine, obscured from my view by the bags, thrust her way past my legs and took off into the night.

Dismayed, I at first stood on our back deck and naively tried kindness to coax Bridget into coming back into the house. Bridget, by then at the bottom of a steep seventy-degree hill that leads to our soccer-field-length backyard, was well beyond reach, and barking nonstop. Chasing the thing through landmines of dog poop and dug holes (her specialty) was not going to yield my prize. So I spoke with the mellifluous voice of a parent to a newborn, hoping cooler heads would prevail.

“Come on, sweetie,” I cajoled.


“I’ll give you a tre-at!” I promised, extending the word into two syllables.

If Bridget could have stuck up one paw and extended that middle digit my way, she would have. Instead she resumed her bark-a-thon.

After a good half hour of failed kindness, I tried wile. Maybe not SPCA-endorsed wile, but wile nonetheless. I went inside and picked up our aging, user-friendly calico cat, Hobbes, till then soundly sleeping on the sofa, and carried her out to the deck.

And then I did something I’m particularly not proud of: I held Hobbes aloft in a precursor to Michael Jackson on the balcony in Germany with his baby boy Blanket before his throng of adoring fans, and suspended the cat to tempt Bridget to come in. Okay, so I was tired. And I figured Bridget always loved a good cat bark session, so surely she’d fall for the old kitty-dangling maneuver, right?

no she is not imprisioned!
no she is not imprisioned!

But matching my exhausted-mom-of-three-and-four-glasses-of-wine-induced stupor to her perpetually alert wits was useless. Again came the one-finger salute. Figuratively, of course.

I then took to stewing in my own juices. By then a good hour had passed. It was after one in the morning; I was exhausted. My bark-averse neighbor was no doubt dialing the police to lodge a complaint. The other one was going to start her vacation exhausted and pissed at me. Since Bridget was nearly as fast as a gazelle, a chase would never land in the win column for me. What I needed, I knew, was a lasso. But I didn’t have anything resembling that (nor the skills to use it).

Now understand, my brain was fogged. Logic was not at the forefront. But I remembered from obedience classes that a spray bottle of vinegar water works to stop bad behavior in dogs. Only she was far out of reach of my little spray bottle. But I remembered using a can of wasp spray one time and damn, that stuff shot far. I picked up the phone, dialing the emergency vet.

“Hi,” I said, warming up for the stupid question. “I was wondering, if I sprayed wasp spray at a dog just to temporarily disable her, would that endanger her?”

“Um, can I please have your name and address?” the vet tech asked.

Bridget loved to bark dogs along her walk (seen here with neighbor dog Sprocket)
Bridget loved to bark dogs along her walk (seen here with neighbor dog Sprocket)

Realizing that animal services would soon be two steps behind the police who were no doubt heading my way, I hung up. Okay, clearly wasp spray was toxic and a bad idea. But what? What could lure an intractable and deliberately defiant canine at what was then two in the morning? And then it came to me. In the dead of winter, on a frigid January night, while Bridget continued to bark undeterred, I fired up the gas grill and went inside to unearth a package of desiccated hot dogs buried in the bowels of my freezer. With a sharp knife and mallet, I hammered at the slab of rock-hard meat until two hot dogs gave way. And then I slapped those puppies on the grill.

I wondered if any neighbors noticed in their sleep the acute aroma of roasting hot dogs floating across the cold night air (and wonder who the insane person was barbecuing at that hour). But I had my plan. And when the smell seemed to overtake even the hint of skunk that often lingers late at night, I knew it was time. I grabbed my frankfurters and proceeded down the steep hill to the flat yard.

“Hey, Bridge,” I cooed.

“Look what I’ve got for yo-u!” I singsonged, knowing she was bullshit-proof but feeling desperate enough to give it a go anyway.

First she stopped barking for a minute. Then she brazenly made eye contact with me. I tried the “I’m the boss” stare, fixing my gaze upon hers with riveting intensity. Ever so slowly I inched forward, like a cop trying to persuade the bad guy to drop the gun. And I dangled those weenies, closer and closer. Promise, I’ll get the judge to reduce your sentence if you just come willingly.

And finally, whomp! Straight out of the fairy tale in which the fox chomps down on the Gingerbread Man, Bridget made her move, snatching at one of the hot dogs in a front-back pivot attempt to grab and go. But I was pissed, and a defiant dog is no match for an angry, exhausted me in the middle of the night. I reached down, grabbed her collar, and marched her up the hill without benefit of a hot dog reward, which I flung in the woods for some other wild creature to enjoy, while strains from the ebullient victory march in Peter and the Wolf played in my mind.

Over the years, Bridget has mellowed. And despite the frustrations with her defiance, we love our girl and appreciate that much of her dominance, at least in her mind, is for our own good: She’s got our backs, even if it means she’s not exactly in close proximity while she has them.

I’ve always felt bad that we didn’t have the time to channel Bridget’s energies by training her with canine agility classes, or even dog Frisbee. She was ready-made for such fun. But the other side of that is she’s had a long, happy, and somewhat independent life with us. Had we not rescued her, or had she been adopted by someone who then listened to the advice and got rid of her, Bridget would never have lived to see a decade of life, because she would have been put down.

Bridget in her weaker moments--afraid of a thunderstorm (wearing her Thundershirt)
Bridget in her weaker moments–afraid of a thunderstorm (wearing her Thundershirt)

As she climbs into her twilight years, she can’t always run like she used to. Two torn ACLs keep her down occasionally, rendering her a bit like a thoroughbred left to pasture. But sometimes she’ll muster up the same eff-you attitude she used to use with the stubborn dog fence and will spring into action to chase some deer or a rabbit. Her hard mouth has become softer; bad dental genes have left her in a tooth deficit. And the older she gets, the more she is hamstrung by impending storms (some internal barometer of hers has always warned her hours beforehand). But Bridget has remained loyal and loving and every day we are so grateful we didn’t listen to that well-intended advice to get rid of our adorable little pooch. She’s enriched our lives probably more than we hers, and even when she is gone she will be immortalized for the rest of Graycie’s life each time the parrot warns our Smoochie girl not to eat her by saying, “Bridget, no! You’re a bad, bad girl!”


Categories: Accidentally on Purpose, Anywhere But Here, Bad to the Throne, bereavement, Bite Me: a Parrot A Family and a Whole Lot of Flesh Wounds, Books, Bridget, Heir Today Gone Tomorrow, I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship, It's Reigning Men, Jenny Gardiner, loss of pets, memoir, Naked Man on Main Street, pets, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Slim to None, Something in the Heir, Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me