Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil

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How To Bring A Hound to New York


I miss New York like crazy.

With the recent change of jobs and, well, being “in-between” opportunities right now, I’m kind of free to move wherever I want.

I say “kind of” because I’m not rich (yet!?).  It’s not easy to just get up and move back to New York from California to search for work back home – where things are expensive. But I’m making some plans and getting my home inventory together for selling off my life to do it.

But here’s the thing. My hound Baxter is coming with me, and it’s going to be quite a journey for the little guy.

He’s a California hound.

He knows of green grass and warm to cool temperatures.

He knows nothing of snow.

He’s okay with rain.

I’ve not a clue what he’ll do with ice.

Maybe he’ll eat it? Maybe he’ll grow found of the taste of snow?

He’ll have to  learn to poop on concrete if we can’t make it to the grass fast enough.

He’ll have lots of smells because New York is a cesspool of smells.

He’ll find new friends that will make his wag his tail.

And maybe I’ll find things to make my tail wag, too.

Unless a job comes up in Los Angeles. If one does get offered to me, then I guess if it’s a great one – I’ll stay a little longer.

But I’ll still miss New York, and I’ll long to see my hound romp in the snow for the first time.


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Dogs Stories

Happy Monday!

The NYTimes has a lovely feature today on dogs around the world who live on the street and are owned by no one.  The story behind each dog featured grabbed at my heart and stomped on it to bits. The one below really blew me away. This little Buddha of a dog makes me wonder if these creatures are reincarnated souls living life on earth before heading back “home.”



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National Puppy Day!



Baxter the Basset Hound is six years old, far from being a puppy.  By the time I adopted him, he was a skinny one year old hound with kennel cough who had been through some shuffling around. It breaks my heart to think about it. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t know.

His history is different that the one of my last hound, Baldrick.

Baldrick was bred by a breeder in New Jersey who had gorgeous champion show hounds. Baldrick was a descendant of many winning hounds, with a lineage that placed him solid on the American Kennel Club list. His puppy name was Frito Bandito because breeders Hank and Sharon (with whom we remained friend with for years) named his litter after food, and Dorito corn chips was the association for our pup. My dad and I adopted him. My father decided on the name  Baldrick, because we both loved the TV British comedy ‘Black Adder’ and the character of Baldrick – Black Adder’s “Dogsbody”.

Baxter and Baldrick were different and the same in so many ways.


Baldrick at four months.

Baldrick was cuddly, funny, playful, human-like, loving and goofy. As an east coast dog, he was bigger, smellier, contracted a chronic ear infection that added to the funk, tri-color,  had thick, coarse fur on his back, velvety head and ears, and rough giant paws that would make you scream with pain if he stepped on your bare feet.  He would lick you constantly. He was 68 pounds and liked to curl up on my lap and stomach which took the breath out of me. He was a showstopper wherever we went. Gorgeous boy.

I miss the hell out of that hound. His sweetness. He devotion. The memories of going hiking with my dad and the little guy though state parks and at Riverside Park. I miss his personality. His way.

Baxter is funny, playful, human-like, loving and goofy. He doesn’t smell bad. In fact, he’s maintained this lovely corny puppy aroma that makes him easy to snuggle, if he lets you snuggle. He’s a loner. A rebel. He’s a ginger boy – as red headed as Conan O’Brien. He doesn’t like to cuddle, although late at night, if you’re sitting next to him on the couch, he’ll nest his head against your leg.

He’s not a licker, although sometimes he’ll give me a wet one on the face when I come home. His way of providing affection is burrowing his head into your leg or mushing his muzzle against your face. He’s 54 pounds. As a west coast dog, he’s softer and more supple than Baldrick was. His back curves with more ease. His paws are more delicate and soft. His fur isn’t coarse, in fact his entire body is soft like plush. The color of his red fur is almost golden, and glows healthily in the sun. He has freckles and everyone in Los Angeles who encounters him loves him. He’s a supreme beauty.

Baxter is also an old soul. He doesn’t care for bullshit. An over zealous puppy met on the street will be met with a grumble. He’s cranky, and refused to let most dogs sniff his butt for very long without a growl. Baldrick was a little more easy going – more inclusive. Didn’t want to be separated in another room for long. Baxter likes his privacy.

Both Baldrick and Baxter won’t (or didn’t)  bite.  Both patient with children. Both soften(ed) with curious toddlers, and both gave me something to come home to.

Although Baxter is getting a little white around the eyes, he’s still got the puppy in him. And we still have a long way to go together.

Baxter national puppy day



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Still Learning…


I wasn’t kidding. It’s always good to re-read and refresh your knowledge to deepen and enrich your craft.

Yesterday’s blog post inspired me (yes! I can inspire myself!) to pick up Strunk & White’s ‘Elements of Style’. I’m not just using it as a guide – I’m reading it like it’s a pool side page turner. Well, kind of. I do have a day job where I need to be focused, but have been grabbing and reading the book in between tasks.

I recommend finding this beautiful illustrated version of this classic resource guide. Illustrations are by Maira Kalman, and they make this grammar bible a little artistic journey ever more enjoyable to read and marvel in between discussions of parenthetic  expressions and dangling participles.

And yes, there is a Basset Hound on the cover, and if you know me…I loves me a hound. There’s one sleeping on my sofa back home while I’m in the office.


Baxter the hound, sleeping on his butterfly pillow

As a writer, I’m a little dopey about grammar. I can practice it, but I cannot explain it. I can write it, but am dolefully indifferent to passive voice, pronouns, quotations and coma usage. I manage, but I can always be better.

So off I go, getting my ‘Strunk and White’ on…

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The Lonely Hound


Baxter singing the blues at day care. Photo courtesy of Lisa Lynn.

My hound Baxter has separation anxiety.

I’ve tried everything. Bark Collars. Kongs. Treats hidden around the house. Hollistic calming chews. Training. Getting him tired in the morning. Day Care. Dog tranquilizers. Thousands of dollars in daycare, just to keep him out of the house. I’m now going a bit broke, and can no longer do this.

So, I purchased a Dropcam to monitor Baxter hound during the day. Plus, we live seven minutes away my office, allowing me to come home during lunch hours to walk him and keep him company.

But as I view him from the “puppy cam” (as we like to call it at work), I’ll observe.  There’s some white noise. The TV is on. The fan is on. He calms down for long periods of time. He’ll sleep quietly until he wakes up randomly, realizing once again – he’s alone.

So, he’ll jump off the sofa and head to the window. Then he’ll sit by the kitchen door, waiting for me to come back.  In between, he’ll lift his head and howl. His howl is a sad, mournful moan. It bugged my former next door neighbor, who was more inclined to get pissed off than try to understand the situation. Which made him worse. My new neighbor loves him and says he just sounds so sad.

It’s only during the day. He’s not a barker. He doesn’t bark at anything that passes by our door or window, although if someone is in the hall, he will grumble and maintain a low, guttural growl that only I can hear. Nothing more.

He only howls. Like a lonely hound. He howls the first half hour of daycare with dozens of dogs all around him. He howls if I have friends dogs over and we leave for a moment to do something.

He won’t howl when there are humans around, or if I’m there. The hound’s devotion to me is limitless. He lives to be with me.

I can no longer afford constant daycare. So he has to stay at home more often.

He will howl.

He will cry.

He will stop and sleep on the sofa or by the door.

He’ll play with the Kong or the rubber disc filled with chopped up doggie treats – but he’ll save most of that playing for when I get home.

He’ll pace a bit.

He’ll listen to a noise that’s not the television, get up, go to the door, and the settle down until I see his head turn up and his muzzle/mouth turn into an “O”.

And then I come home and he squeals with delight.

He’s a lonely hound with an owner who has to leave him to earn a living. Who’s trying to build a business on the side so she won’t have to leave so much. Although today is a challenging one. I have so much work to do and concerned my business is not something that will allow me to exist as an independent earner.  But I see my poor ginger hound and hope my efforts will pay off somehow.

He’s a quiet hound when it counts – at night and most of the day.  He’s actually quieter than the dogs in the building next door, who bark and yelp at mailmen and UPS drivers.

He’s a lonely hound who makes noise intermittently, but compared to the constant terrier and Chihuahua screechers all around the block, he gets the brunt of it all.  A hounds life isn’t easy.

So, The Baxter boy has to stay home.  I wish I could do the same.


A Palette Cleanser for the Weekend

With all this talk of lady parts and hospital stuff, I end the week with a picture of my hound Baxter to clear the air. Baxter is the seer of all things awesome with the world. He looks straight into the weekend with determination, knowledge and lots of napping time on my couch. The bones of wisdom are marked in the very palm of his paw. He’s a most assured hound, ready to take on the garbage trucks and postal workers of our time with grit, heroism and a grumbling, low guttural growl before rounding out into a fetal position to sleep for hours until he hears his kibble pouring into a bowl in the kitchen.

I’m grateful for this hound. He give me smiles and warmth. He’s helped me make friends and protects me from weird noises –  that turn out to be nothing – but at least he’s on the case.