In which I rub salt in Roo's latest wound. Literally rub salt.

There are some dogs who receive no more than one or two cuts in their lifetimes, if that. This is usually because there is nothing sharp under a coffee table.

Roo, because she runs free so much, gets all sorts of cuts and nicks. A few weeks ago she returned to camp with her entire face and neck covered with blood. As most of the blood wasn't hers, she couldn't have been more delighted. 

The gash she received in her foot pad a few days ago required staying required keeping her off the foot, though. Today, it looked healed enough to let her go in the pond. I didn't notice anything wrong with her when I loaded her back up in the car, but when we got out, her arm was bleeding. The only solution was to rub salt in her wound. If you're at all squeamish, this might not be for you.

Roo begins training to swim the Channel

According to numerous dispatches from France that have reached Roo by trans-Atlantic carrier pigeon, the tadmouses missing from their pond in Maine are rumored to have reappeared on the Normandy coast. Naturally, this will require her to swim the freezing currents of the English Channel. To add a little spice to the feat, she will begin by reviving her old hobby of cliff jumping, leaping into the turbulent waters from the famous White Cliffs of Dover. I was hoping she had outgrown her love of the high dive, but she is adamant on this point. My only hope is that the British authorities will not grant her the exception she is seeking to their stringent quarantine requirements, which she is trying to avoid by relying on an obscure provision in ancient Scottish law which allows for a right of return similar to the one stonewalling the Israel-Palestine negotiations. Though this was never legislated to attract Golden retrievers, her case appears to be ironclad under her reading of the language of the statute, so the swim is likely to go ahead.

Unfortunately, Roo will have to accomplish the crossing while disadvantaged by her bizarre swimming style, in which she does not use her hind legs, preferring instead to tuck them up to her belly, much like the albatrosses who will be gazing down at her as she bobs up and down on the notoriously dangerous waves. The only benefit of this is the reduced speed at which she will ram into an iceberg, should one appear.

Though I am opposed to Roo undertaking such a risky swim, I know better than to try to talk her out of it. I am left with no alternative but to let Roo be Roo and do what I can to assist. In the accompanying video, I inspire her training by claiming — falsely — that the tadmouses have relocated to the far shore of her favorite pond. Incidentally, this was a serious error, because that end of the pond is filled with what appears to be a highly distilled concentrate of pine sap that is removable only with lengthy baths in peanut butter. Long-distance cold water swimmers usually slather themselves in Vaseline. Roo will probably swim the Channel encased in a thick bun of peanut butter. Perhaps it will reduce her fatigue by adhering her back paws to her belly, but whether it will do anything to repel the sharks is open to question. That is at the moment the least of our worries. 

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Roo committed what might be her greatest act of perfidy yet.

If this was a normal dog, one might think they were trying to avoid the authorities after committing some sort of crime, but, this being Roo, it’s not. She’s just trying to understand the elusive tadmouse better by trying to get into their heads by mimicking the way they lie in the sun among the pine needles under the surface of shallow water in the tadmouse pond. She probably also suspects thunderstorms brewing thousands of miles away in Oklahoma or Louisiana.

If you haven’t seen the two-part public service announcements from TDITC concerning tadmouse hunting and the disease that results from it, go to the home page and scroll down. Tadmouse season, with my eternal thanks to God, seems to have ended. Either they’ve all morphed into frogs and hopped away or some humanitarian organization arranged for a daring overnight airlift for then to safer, Roo-free, waters. 

There being no tadmouses means nothing to Roo, of course. They could just be doing a better job of hiding in response to her raids. She prowls the water with every bit as much obsession as she did when they were darting around in plain sight. For one thing, she has never smelled a tadmouse. No one has. By lurking exclusively underwater, their defense against being smelled is total. This would naturally make Roo question her sanity. Is there such a thing as a tadmouse? Has there ever been? Was her mind playing tricks on her? Perhaps they were nothing but a hallucination. Anyone who has experienced prolonged involuntary hallucinations knows how powerful the resulting desire to maintain a grip on reality is. I certainly do.

So she prowls the tadmouse sea relentlessly. Today, she stopped and came out of the water and stood on the bank with a forepaw raised in her signal to her footman to come and remove a thorn or whatever might be bothering her. This time, there was nothing to remove: She had a gash in one of her footpads.

There was nothing I could do. We had a 15-minute walk ahead of us and she was going to have to tough it out. Roo is a tough dog. She soldiered on.

After we got back and she enjoyed a nice cold garden hose shower and the extensive brushing necessary to remove hundreds of the pernicious rotting brambles tangled up in her fur, she went to sleep.

Because Roo prefers holding it in all night to risking emerging in the dark for a pee, lest whoever she imagines her predator to be makes a tadmouse of her, I try to drag her out for a walk before sunset. I would have preferred to keep her off her paw, but that would have meant about 20 hours without peeing. Instead, I bandaged her paw.

She acted like she was the victim of one of those vivisections in one of those old paintings of a medieval medical college. She snatched her paw away from me and made it as difficult as she could. When the bandage was finally on, she refused, on principle, to put her paw on the ground. The farthest she would go was to extend the entire leg as far from her as possible with only the tips of the claws on the ground. She looked like she was doing a vaudeville act of herself. 

After a little coaxing, she forgot about it and agreed to walk. It was fine. It wasn’t bothering her at all. We walked in some nearby woods. A few minutes later, we arrived at a clearing. A woman was tossing a ball for an energetic little dog who was barking his head off. Between us and them were some bushes. Roo took off at top speed in their direction, but then made a sudden swerve into the bushes. In one motion, she lay down, looked in my direction to make sure she had me outdistanced with the look you see on the faces of security camera footage of stickup artists on the way in to rob a Circle K, tore the bandage off and continued running towards the dog.

What a sneak. She must have been waiting for her opportunity since the moment I wrapped the bandage on. She didn’t even care about the little dog. He was just an excuse. As soon as I called her back, she ran right over with a huge grin on her face and a low, prideful wag. Oh, she was proud. Ha ha ha.

Even though the paw now hurt and she had to limp home, it was worth it to her. Her dignity had been restored, elevated, even. Footwear? Please. A human conceit.

Tomorrow I am going to have to put up with being stared at all day, because it is doubtful that this sneak is going to get out of solitary and back out into general population in the tadmouse pond.

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By the way, I noticed that at least one of you — you know who you are — hasn't joined our Patreon campaign. Everything will be forgiven if you do right now. If this was a cup of coffee you'd leave a tip wouldn't you?

Multiple choice: Which photo doesn't belong?

A careful analysis of internet traffic trends to be released soon show that people whose lives or livelihoods depend on the latest science news favor The Dog in the Clouds by a wide margin. This site has been set as the mandatory home page on the computers at the Fermi Institute, the National Health Institute, NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, SETI, The Flat Earth Society and numerous pharmaceutical, computer science and oil company research departments.

And so, we here at TDITC  World Headquarters have been working on ways to determine the intellectual capacities of our readers. We commissioned a panel of brain scientists to devise a simple multiple choice IQ test, which is presented here:  In the accompanying gallery, one of the pictures in the grouping shouldn't be there.

Can you identify which one and why it's out of place?

Roo crosses the bridge, just because.

Generally, and especially not on hot days, Roo does not use bridges. She doesn't believe they're anything but a cruel device created by humans to keep dogs out of the water, where they belong. Under this bridge, a fresh stream was running nice and cool. Roo, who knew it well and had been in it minutes before, was therefore crossing this bridge only for the challenge. I tried to talk her out of it, but she just had to find out for herself whether she could do it. 

Any time she achieves a risky goal, like jumping off a cliff or investigating something that looks scary, she laughs and trots a few steps. But in this case, she was clearly embarrassed. She slinked away and never tried it again.

The face of misery

Its two in the morning. The night is not passing quickly enough for Roo, who is asleep on that side of the dinette in the camper. I am driving her insane by making godawful noises on a mandolin. It's a good thing she doesn't have a shotgun. She might do something rash. Instead, she has tolerated being ignored by her good-for-nothing Daddy while he stares at a screen and taps away at that metal box, the one where cats sometimes appear. Does it really take that much tapping, hours and hours of it every day, to lure the occasional cat onscreen? Why? Where do they live? Do they like the tapping? Is that what makes them look out of the box's window? They seem to come so rarely, no matter how much he taps. Tonight, like most nights, no cats have come. Not one.

Her wait for the next morning — when she can start harassing that otherwise useless Daddy of hers to take her somewhere so she can kill someone, anyone, at this point a teaspoon-size mouse will do, or even one of those uncatchable tadpoles — is dragging by at the speed of the death of the universe. In the meantime, she has a suggestion. A way to improve things, to help her overlook the shortcomings of her unkind Daddy and that round noise box she would like to make him watch her chew to splinters and bury deep in a bottomless ravine she converted to a graveyard in Idaho. A slice of salami might turn the trick. Or a cookie. She gives me this look until the message is clear.

It doesn't take long. And then we are back to waiting for the new day to dawn.