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

Max and the Search for an Inu Shirt

It was the day before Father’s Day. In anticipation of the celebration, Max and I were productively engaged in the traditional activities of quaffing malt beverages, chomping jerky treats and telling snorf, snorf jokes when the Alpha Japanese Female interrupted and screamed like a harridan that wistfully mentioned that she wished she had a new inu shirt.

As a fearful loving spouse, I immediately recognized that my beer and Max’s treats would be in jeopardy were we to ignore the AJF’s tyrannical demand deceptively casual request.

Furball and I leaped into action. Well, that may be an exaggeration. Neither of us is much into leaping but we did lower the footrest on the LazyBoy and reach for the laptop.

Let’s start with the basics: “inu” is the Japanese word for dog. The word can be written using kanji (a Chinese character) or in hiragana which is one of the phonetic, cursive forms of the written language.

inu 4
Kanji character for “inu” (dog) on left; the hiragana version is on the right. Max says dogs don’t care which one you use. This concludes today’s Japanese language class.

An inu shirt, as mandated suggested by the AJF,  is a tee shirt with a very clever image that incorporates the Japanese hiragana characters for inu with a stylized drawing of a pupper. Makes sense, no?

This design is a great favorite of the AJF; it lets her get all ethnic while walking Max around the neighborhood. Since Max actually understands commands in Japanese as well as English, he is happy with the arrangement.

Let your English Sheepdog wear his Union Jack, let your Poodle wear stinky cheese haute couture, let your Shih Tzu wear dim sum, let your Australian Shepard wear the carcasses of drop bears and other deadly creatures found Down Under. The AJF is turning up, she’s turning down, she’s turning Japanese, I really think so.

The cute tees are made in Hawaii by a small business named idkwhat2wear. This company has a knack for capturing the sentiments, language and attitude of local, as opposed to tourist, Hawaii. Visit their website and see for yourself; consider it an insider secret from me to you. But, I digress.

Typical idkwhat2wear tee shirt humor. Pilfered image from their website but, what the hay, it’s free advertising.

Back to the inu shirt. These are hard to come by. In the past we’d simply mosey up Manoa Valley to one of Max’s favorite stores: Hawaii Doggie Bakery. Not so easy to do when one lives in Rancho Cucamonga, eh?

Max wasn’t worried at all because he knows the folks at HDB are delightful (and tolerant of marauding Maltese) and already have a thriving business shipping their goodies from Hawaii to less fortunate global locations, basically everywhere else on Earth..

Inu Shirt
Our fates are dependent on these boss ladies producing an inu shirt, the one with the red arrow. The cat ears may be unforgivable. Image shamelessly poached from Hawaii Doggie Bakery.

We started at the website but, alas, there was no sign of an inu shirt, so we emailed and were advised they were currently out of stock. But the HDB ladies (it’s a women-owned business) remembered our furry little Malt and promised to alert us when the inu shirts were again available.

Inu 2
Close up of the inu shirt. (The pixel shortage is all my fault.) Image pirated without mercy from HDB site.

Not incidentally, Max reminds me that large bags of poi cookies are also available for order and we could bundle and save shipping costs. Just sayin’, Dad.

So, now the pressure is on. If we can produce the new inu shirt for the AJF we are golden and The Malt and I can continue our lives as carefree rapscallions. Should we fail, our beer and jerky may well be at jeopardy.

I will update faithfully. I am going to tell the Hawaii Doggie Bakery folks about this post to place unbearable pressure on them encourage them to produce the goods. Maybe they will comment on this story. Maybe they will simply remove Max and me from the mailing list.

Chick & Poi
Image stolen without remorse from HDB’s website.

One or both of the regular readers of this silly dog blog may recall a December 2014 post about poi dogs that extolled the sheer wonderfulness of Hawaii Doggie Bakery’s dog cookies made of chicken and poi.

Here’s a link to that story. Full disclosure, I have no connection with either of the businesses named in this story except as a customer but if you’re looking for fun stuff, unusual gifts and tasty dog treats, you may want to check them out.

Max heartily concurs.

Max Visits the Gold Country, Part 2

Is this a scary story? ‘Cause if this is a scary story I’ll hide under the covers.

So there we were, cruising Highway 49, singing old Monkees’ tunes since there are no new Monkees’ tunes, and remarking about how incredibly soggy Northern California had become after a very rainy season.

We debated the merits between a straight shot to Sacramento versus exploring along the Gold Route. We chose the latter.

I admit the whole “old Monkees tunes” thing was just a set up so I could use this terrible pun. Sorry for the ear worm.

Our destination was a town I’ve passed through many times but never slowed down to look around – Chinese Camp.

Chinese Camp is south of the far better known Gold Rush town of Sonora. It’s what you might call a “quasi-ghost town.”

While there are a few people still living in the area, the town itself is defunct, a place full of lonesome wind sounds, old cemeteries, dilapidated wood frame houses, scraggly overgrowth and dust. Lots of dust.

It dates back to the mid-1800s when thousands of Chinese workers were brought to the US as cheap labor to work on railroads and in mines. These men – most were males – did not intend to immigrate; rather, they were sojourners, who expected to stay a few years, make some money and then return to the ancestral land.

In early 1849, California had only fifty-four Chinese. By 1876,  the Chinese in the United States numbered 151,000 of whom 116,000 were in the state of California.

Chinese Camp itself was once home to more than 5,000 Chinese miners. At its peak, the town extracted nearly $3 million in gold. Now for our daily dose of irony: according to the 2010 Census, there is not a single Chinese person or person of Asian extraction living in town, the last Chinese having beat feet almost 90 years ago.

Precariously leaning to the side.

Chinese Camp is best remembered, if remembered at all, as the site of a big Tong War in 1856.

In Chinese, the word tong means “hall” and frequently refers to fraternal organizations or secret societies often tied to criminal activity.

In part, the popularity of these societies may have been due to the extreme prejudice and hostility faced by the Chinese workers in young America.

There were many different Tongs and they acted sometimes like labor unions, sometimes like benevolent societies and sometimes like plain old street gangs competing for “turf.”

The General Store.

To be sure, the inter-Tong competition and violence, along with the toxic racism on the West Coast led to many Chinese moving to the East Coast and the subsequent establishment of “Chinatowns” in the big cities such as New York and Boston.

But I digress.

Chinese Camp’s Tong war took place on September 26, 1856 in a meadow outside of town. It was caused when one company of Chinese miners rolled a boulder onto the claim of another company and refused to move it.

The animosity between the groups kept escalating. The Columbia Gazette reported that one Tong had even hired professional instigators to taunt and antagonize the other:

“Before the battle the fifteen white mercenaries painted themselves yellow, put on Chinese costumes, and hung a yard of horsehair tail down their backs in a mocking depiction of a Chinese queue.”

The fight involved about 1,200 men with 4 killed and many wounded. The death toll was limited because Chinese were not permitted guns; consequently, the battle was fought with pitchforks, rakes, mining tools and farm implements. It was the biggest thing to happen in Chinese Camp then or now.

A photo of Chinese miners in America from ChineseBlogSpot.

For much of the mid-1800s, Chinese Camp was a major transportation hub with train service, regular stage coach runs and all the trappings of a very rowdy, rough-and-tumble western town. But when the gold boom went bust, the town slowly devolved to what it is today. The final coffin nail was the emergence of the automobile which obviated the need for train service.

Max, the AJF and I wandered around the town, figuratively (and in Max’s case, literally) sticking our noses into the old buildings, the train station, schoolhouse and post office. We walked up down the streets which had that hollow type of quiet that you get in abandoned towns. The gloomy weather didn’t make the experience any more cheery.

We saw only a few souls and they looked none too friendly, supporting the allegation that Chinese Camp had become a bit of a center for meth labs in the Sierra foothills. It could also be that they were people who didn’t like Maltese dogs.

But it was the town’s official cemetery that creeped us out. To establish context, remember that most of the graves dated to pre-Civil War years. None of the names were Chinese – they had their own cemetery.

Part of the Chinese Camp church graveyard. (Photo by Dolores Steele)

Here’s the odd thing: on a few of the old graves there were fresh flowers!

Huh? Does that mean a family member has stayed true for 150 years? Was it someone from the area?

But then on another grave – according to the inscription it was the burial place of a small child who died in the 1800s – there was a relatively new teddy bear on the grave along with a fresh bouquet!

As we paused and wondered about the back story, the Malt started a low grumbling sound in his throat. Why was he distressed?

Apparently we were not the only ones who got chilly-willys (and I don’t mean the penguin) down our backs in Chinese Camp. Later on we checked with Dr. Google who noted that even the Discovery Channel had done a story about the place and reputedly “measured” (yeah, right) a very high level of psychic energy in this cemetery as well as a nearby church.

For us, psychic measurement stuff counts right up there with the Tooth Fairy but we did admit to being uncomfortable during our visit. However, the faces of the folks we saw in town didn’t invite casual conversation so we’ll probably never know what’s going on in the cemetery.

Meanwhile, the skies were again filling with ominous clouds. We figured it was time to boogie down the Strasse.

Besides, Jet was still waiting for Max.

I tried to convince the Malt that the carving on the lower left was a giant Golden Retriever. He wasn’t buying it.

Max Visits Valhalla on Halloween

Max dressed for Halloween.
Max, aka Ragnar the Malt.

The dogs of the Viking Age were both working animals and beloved companions.

That’s quite unlike your common or garden variety Maltese who has never done a lick of work in his life.

We know Viking dogs were considered devoted friends because they were frequently buried along side their masters.

Ancient runestones show Viking warriors entering Valhalla and being greeted by a Valkyrie with a horn full of mead while the warrior’s faithful hound waits patiently nearby, no doubt hoping for a chunk of wild boar jerky.

The Norse afterlife was not complete without the pooch.

Frigga, Odin's main squeeze with her dog chariot.
Frigga, Odin’s main squeeze with her dog chariot.

Frigga, wife of Odin and goddess of marriage and fidelity, was believed to travel in a chariot drawn by a pack of dogs, perfect symbols of fidelity and faithfulness.

Yes, with a wife named Frigga, the jokes just write themselves. Behave yourselves.

Dogs did not play a big role in The Vikings, the 1958 “Norse Opera” that was a big box office hit starring Kirk Douglas, Janet Leigh, and Tony Curtis . If you haven’t seen the flick, follow Kirk Douglas’ advice and keep an eye out for it.

They had really, really small boats back then.
They had really, really small boats back then.

Despite a paucity of canines, the movie taught us much about Viking feasting and bad table manners fueled by copious quantities of mead and an occasional monster-sized turkey leg.

Viking Feast
Good times and pass the mead.

Who could forget Ernest Borgnine as the fearsome Ragnar?

Well, I forgot, but here’s a little factoid you probably don’t know: Ernest Borgnine played Ragnar, the father of Einar, played by Kirk Douglas but in real life Borgnine was born almost two months after Douglas.

Other famous Vikings include those that hail from Minnesota. They include a group of Valkyries known for their, um, pom poms. Yeah, that’s it.

Famous Vikings from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Famous Vikings from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

The movie also made the Viking funeral a familiar meme, replete with flaming arrows that set the longship on fire as friends and neighbors cry out “Odin!”

I requested this kind of funeral in my Last Will and Testament.

If you hear of a flaming ship off Waikiki and a bunch of guys kicking back in the sand and quaffing mead, you’ll know I have passed to Valhalla and I’m probably already scamming on my Valkyrie.

There is absolutely no justification for putting a Viking helmet on our long suffering Malt. One daughter begged us not to embarrass Max with a costume so of course we lied to put her at ease. Sorry, hon, it was a random act of dog abuse.

Max did not want to cooperate so we had a discussion. I kid - I'm not really choking his lights pout.
Max did not want to cooperate so we had a discussion. I kid – I’m not really choking his lights out.

As to choice of costumes, well, we are not the most imaginative of couples. I mean, we named the pupster “Max” which is the most common dog name in America. I guess that is better the second choice “Tofu” but it’s not imaginative.

The AJF mocked my hat but then was spotted wearing it.
The AJF mocked my hat but then was spotted wearing it.

So when it came to Halloween we opted for the lowest common denominator of dog outfits – the Viking hat.

See, he survived with damage only to his pride.
See, he survived with damage only to his pride.

The AJF calls this a case of father-son silliness. She doesn’t realize Max and I fully intend to go out in public like this and try to cadge some free candy.

After stressful photo shoot, the Malt plays in Valhalla. Actually Hawaii Kai but close enough.
After stressful photo shoot, the Malt plays in Valhalla. Actually Hawaii Kai but close enough.


Crossed Paws

With every report things are looking more positive as Tropical Storm Ana fails, so far,  to grow into a hurricane and starts to veer west of the islands. Can’t be too comfy yet as these are unpredictable beasts. For now, we’ll keep our paws crossed.

Here’s an interesting graphic that was published in today’s Civil Beat that shows the tracks of the major storms since 1949 in the Hawaii area. The last really big one was Hurricane Iniki in 1992 that hit Kauai hard. I remember it well because it put a major hurt on my Dad’s house on the Garden Island.

They can come at you from any direction. Fortunately, most miss.
They can come at you from any direction. Fortunately, most miss.

Here We Go Again, Maybe

Once again there is a storm bearing down on the Malt. It’s too soon to assess whether Tropical Storm Ana, soon to be a hurricane, will be a problem or not. The local lore is that late season hurricanes are the dangerous ones. Our hurricane season ends October 31st.

Well, I better run out and replenish my supply of beer and Akadama Plum Wine in the typhoon fifth.

The projected storm track does not look promising but these things change frequently and the storms wander all over the place.
The projected storm track does not look promising but these things change frequently and the storms wander all over the place.
Big red blobs on the ocean are worth watching closely. You don't want to get caught low on beer.
Big red blobs on the ocean are worth watching closely. You don’t want to get caught low on adult libations.





Last night Max and I were ambling along Ke’eaumoku Street, trading wisecracks and sass as good buddies often do. We had pretty much agreed that hedgehogs would have a better reputation if they shared the hedge a little more. But I digress.

We noticed a new food emporium had opened. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you,  Itchy Butt Chicken and Joy.

Notice the chicken on the sign is scratching his rear while giving the "shaka" (hang loose) symbol.
Notice the chicken, whose expression is not joyful, is scratching his rear end while giving the “shaka” (hang loose) symbol 

Now, your first thought might be that asking for takeout from a location named Itchy Butt is dancing with the devil, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

But you might be wrong.

Although Itchy Butt is a recent arrival on the K Streets culinary scene,  it has already garnered a 5-star Yelp review.

OK, it is also the only review so there’s a fair chance it was written by the owner or a close relation:

So freakin’ good! Finger-lickin’ ono licious garlic chicken!! Crispy yet tender on the inside. A little sweet, but not like candy, with nice crispy bits of garlic within every bite.

This is what comes out of an Itchy Butt.
This is what comes out of an Itchy Butt. Credit to the brave Yelper who was #1.

That sounds like something the owner of the fledgling Itchy Butt chain of fine, joyful restaurants might author, doesn’t it?

So freakin’ good!

We checked out the restaurant and could not locate any Joy but the two young ladies slinging fried chicken seemed happy in their work so we assumed the Joy was somewhere nearby.

For pooches with itchy butts.
For pooches with itchy butts.

Not to suggest a meme or anything but a couple blocks further down the street we noticed a dog grooming business called The Itchy Pooch Salon.

The opportunities for co-marketing seem obvious.

“Is your Itchy Pooch licking his Itchy Butt? We have a solution for that – chicken and joy.

By then both Max and I felt like our skin was crawling so we turned our toes toward home, anticipating  a good and thorough scratching.

That’s when we saw the most startling sign of the evening:


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