Oldies But Goodies

I had the good fortune to become connected with the Oldies But Goodies Cocker Spaniel Rescue group a little less than a year ago and have counted that association among the myriad blessings I’ve been presented with these last few years since Ruth’s passing. Allow me to explain.

Memories and other material and immaterial possessions aside Ruth also left me the sole human-in-charge of the four dogs we included in our household – maybe it was the other way ’round: two American Eskimos (Gracie and Ruby) and two Cocker Spaniels (Corkie and Jake).  For two years we rattled around inside a house that, lacking Ruth, her company, the kids, frequent visitors and the like, had become increasingly overlarge for our needs and overbearing on my daily existence.  The one major advantage it offered  was a comfortable, fenced back yard that allowed the pups to wander at will while I was off at work but over time the emoional and financial budens this luxury imposed began to weigh rather heavily. So I began to toy with the idea of selling the house.

But where to go?

The first solution to come to mind was a large motorhome to house and transport the band. We investigated. Not a good idea. Still the movement to divest the house progressed and eventually occurred and we needed a place to hang our leashes. One of my rental condo tenants saved the day by deciding to move out and buy a house, thereby providing us with shelter in the process.

But – I concluded that the four of us (Gracie had died the previous year) would not fit into this new space and agonized over the prospect of giving up one of the animals. First off, which one? Ruby the Eskimo was the natural answer since Jake and Corkie, though not a bonded pair – far from it – were brothers; we had taken them from the same litter 5 years earlier. But when I mentioned my dilemma to our longtime housekeeper she beamed and volunteered to adopt Corkie, long her favorite.  And this allowed Jake and Ruby and I to occupy the condo on Ivystone Court.

It was comfortable and even though we all missed the backyard for slightly different reasons, there were plenty of trails to walk and we adjusted. Then the wanderlust set in and my nomad period began to emerge. I tried to include the dogs but for various reasons not the least of which was Jake vomiting about every 25 miles – it didn’t work and finding and financing dog-sitters became overwhelming. So I called upon the Eskie Rescue League to find a new home for Ruby – she moved to Long Island and then agonized over Jake. Of all the animals Jake was mine. I had selected him from the litter and spent more time with him, and vice versa – than the others. He was more than just my favorite. I didn’t know what to do.

A friend brought Oldies But Goodies Cocker Spaniel rescue to my attention and after a check of the group I contacted them. When Ruby left for Long Island I was happy for her and for her new human but the day it came for Jake to leave was near heartbreaking. I walked him out to the awaiting SUV and Lisa, the group transporter that day, and tearfully handed him over. It was pure hell; I was more or less bathed in a sense of guilt and self-loathing. Shortly thereafter I set off for what has become a veritable continuous road-trip. But I have had periods of being back in the Northern Virginia area and last December I contacted OBG and asked if I could in some manner be of service. They welcomed the inquiry and put me to work as a foster, a show handler and a transporter and over the next several months I got to take care of half a dozen dogs – including YoYo who I fell in love with – and to do photography on their behalf. That included fundraising events and the big one for me was the Annual Cocker Cruise. I got back from this latest road trip just in time to photograph this year’s cruise also and to reconnect with this energetic group of volunteers.

So, feast your eyes on a slice of what happened when 60-some Cockers and their humans assembled to cruise the Potomac from Alexandria to Georgetown and back on the 22 August.

Click on the Pic to be transported to the entire gallery.



Tony’s Back

It’s been about two years since my last date with Tony Horton and his crew of P90X gym rat friends. For the longest time – well, a round and half – they were my constant daily companions. Just me, two cocker spaniels and a rotating set of overly buffed demonstration assistants for an hour or so of sweat and swearing. But as with a lot of things that pique my interest I became obsessively engaged. I was combining time with Tony with time with Chanty and Suzanne at Gold’s and first thing you know the whole enterprise was consuming about three hours of each day. I’m sure it was also boring more than a few of my friends whose ‘fitness’ I was beginning to take increasing interest in, manifest in unsolicited advice about how they might go about improving their health habits. People who are doubling down on a plate of gravy-covered beef accompanied by about three pounds of various fried toxins are oddly suspicious and, to say the least, dis-interested in discussions of caloric discipline, low-sodium, high carb (or was it low carb?), lettuce-infested diets. They take the observations as gratuitous at best and betweens heaps of this and that make mental notes to scratch you from the weekly lunch dates. When, about a quarter of the way into my second round – going for those sculpted abs you know – I began to hobble and tilt a bit and ask for Advil…. Well, let’s just say I was not being overwhelmed with sympathy. Only the spaniels were disappointed: they missed the show every morning I guess. In short order I went from daily, three hour, extreme workouts to walking the dogs an extra mile or so. (This they did not care for.) And when the dogs moved on to new homes even the walking came to a halt.

That was then. The winter of 2010. Discontented? Hmmm.

It took a while but I began to note that biceps and forearms that had achieved a tough-to-the-touch feel and look, and shoulders that had truly found themselves, and calves that popped, were beginning to look as if they had been exposed to a mummification experiment. Toned triceps and beefed biceps were rapidly turning to batwings. It was disappointing. Who enjoys becoming the personification of “I told you so”?

The flab slowly crept back in. But I still had that (now expired) Gold’s Gym Card on my key ring and, denial, being the primal human characteristic it is, provided cover for the deterioration process.

My sage advice to everyone during my RichardBeFit phase was forget the scales. If you eat healthy, look good, feel good and your new (skinny) clothes fit, you’re doing all the right things. Metrics be damned. There is a lot of truth to this by the way. So, batwings aside, so long as I could squeeze into my size 34 jeans (down from 42 I might add) I was happy – sort of. Then last week I took a five day trip through Yosemite, Monterey and the Channels Islands and came face to face with reality. I’m huffing and puffing up what I’d describe as easy trails, my balance and agility have deteriorated to a pathetic and maybe even dangerous level and, worse, my jeans are no longer slipping on. Truth? I am beginning to look like a stuffed sausage. I just read that again. O-M-G!

Way back at the beginning of round one P90X I shed inches so quickly I went through three size changes in less than five weeks. And each time I shrank into a new (and smaller) sized anything I bagged up the larger items and dropped them at Goodwill. Burned the clothes bridge and knew I’d never look back.


Even were I capable of snapping my fingers and instantly destroying every single mirror in the universe I’d still have a waistline to contend with. I drew the line in the sand way back: never ever again a larger size. It’s the sort of policy that Grover Norquist would endorse and from the looks of him one he might ought to consider sometime real soon. Show us he’s not a one-trick pony you know.

When I hit the road last October I wasn’t sure where I might end up or for how long so I packed things that I thought might possibly come in handy along the way. One of those items was my P90X package of DVD’s. It was right up there with my Gold’s Card.

This morning I pulled it out of the bottom of the duffle, filled up my water bottle and confronted Cardio-X head on. I am so, so glad this is a home workout program. I could not believe how low I had sunk. In a word? Forget it. There isn’t one. Did I already use ‘pathetic’ in this diatribe? But I got through start to finish with a few minor modifications. I’d say I had about 70% of the routine still in me. End day one. Only 89 to go.

One of the non-essentials I left in storage in Virginia was my tuxedo – I guess I overlooked the Academy Awards but it worked out: The Academy overlooked me too. The tux comes into play in September at AnnaSummer’s wedding. I’m thinking it’s the last time I’ll wear it. Charles might get married some day but I suspect the ceremony will be at Burning Man and even though a tux might not be all that out of place there, it would just be too hot to handle. But come September I want there to be no doubt the tux, which I wore when I married Ruth in 1998, fits as well if not better than it did then. And I have no intention of altering it. I’m altering me. No obsessions this time. Just get it done, one inch at a time.

I feel better already. Bring It!



Sunday Morning Maxwell


Taken at Woodwinds Condos

KC Toys


The Perfect Guest


KC the Cocker Spaniel – She’s a wonderful companion. And a great road-tripper.