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Home is where the love, the spare tennis balls, and the dog bed are. — Peri

[Excerpt from upcoming book]

O M D!
(O My Dog) by Peri Taub, PTWP*
*Pandemic Therapist With Paws

As transcribed by her person Barb Taub (whose opposable thumbs might as well be useful for something besides opening dog food…)


Barb was gone. I’m a dog, so object permanence isn’t my strong suit. I couldn’t tell if she’d been gone a week or a lifetime, but she was definitely gone. The Hub and I would have been okay, except for the return of the Bad Thing. Those epileptic seizures I’d been having ever since we got to England were coming more and more frequently, sometimes several a day. The Hub and I went to visit Jeremy the Vet, who said we should try tranquilizers. Well, that’s what we thought he said. But his French accent was so strong, he might have been recommending tequila. As it turns out, that would probably have been a better idea.

I’m actually not too clear about what happened then except that my head went on a little vacation and Demon Dog took over. As Barb later told me (and anyone else who would listen), she was met at the airport by a nervous Hub. As they were walking back to the car, she could hear what sounded like a tortured sufferer in the final stages of mortal agony, or perhaps like Child #4 when her brother got to the last California Roll sushi ahead of her.*

*The first was possible — Newcastle Airport parking was pretty confusing — but Barb was fairly certain none of her children were around.

As they got closer to the car, Barb says, the noise got louder, and the Hub got more nervous.

“Ah, yeah…” The Hub was carefully NOT looking at either the demonically-possessed car or at Barb. “I wonder if I should have mentioned that… But I didn’t want to spoil your trip.” He put his hand out and stopped Barb from opening the car door. “It’s Peri. She’s not… herself.”

“Who is she then?”

Barb says another wave of howls sounded and the car actually rocked. The Hub peered through the car window, shuddered, and backed away. “She’s pretty much batshit crazy.” He explained about the supposed sedative and its effects. “Jeremy the Vet says we have to just keep Peri quiet until the drug wears off.”

Nodding, Barb opened the car door and reached for me, but the Hub pushed her aside. “That’s not really Peri. She won’t know you, and she bites everything.” Barb looked over his shoulder, and saw that I had indeed been biting. Most of the rear seatbelts and a fair amount of the seats were shredded in clumps around me. Somehow, I was chewing and howling at the same time.

Barb told me later that although she doesn’t ever watch or read horror stories, she was pretty sure she was looking at one. “Okay, then. Let’s just get home as soon as we can.”

Apparently, my head stayed on vacation for the next two days. They put me back into my travel kennel, and just kept throwing stuff in there for me to chew up. By day three, I was back. After a startling trip into the woods to eliminate a truly disturbing pile of the chewed-up bits, we headed back to see Jeremy the Vet. He listened in awe to Barb and the Hub’s stories about life with a demonically-possessed dog, and suggested we change our pharmaceutical approach.

I was happy to be back to eating actual food.

Barb was happy that I’d stopped the black howl of utter despair.

The Hub was… well, not happy. He paid Jeremy the Vet’s bill, muttering about their free dog from the shelter. Then he took his car in to get an estimate on repairs. He had to explain to the mechanics that no, the damage had NOT been caused by two rival homicidal gangs having a knife fight in the back of his car, nor had he been transporting uncaged cougars. (Barb poked him at that.) He pointed to me, as one of the mechanics was petting me and offering a biscuit. “It was her. Sometimes her head goes on walkabout. It’s not pretty.” The mechanic snatched back his hands and stepped back a respectful distance.

I thought about my pre-epilepsy life back in Seattle, where I didn’t get left in foreign countries and end up eating cars. I felt a bit homesick. Of course, I couldn’t let Barb move to another continent without me. She’d never make it. But still…

Home. It’s that little voice in the head of every expat. “I left the place I started from because I need to be here; I’m in a place I love because I want to be here.” On the days I wanted to be there, the life of an expatriate dog could be fun and absolutely fascinating. When Barb and I lived in England, we woke up every day amazed and delighted to see the walls of a medieval castle around us. But while England (or Spain or Scotland or France or anyplace else Barb put my dog bed for the night) might be our current home, it’s not the one that comes to mind when expats get together and talk about what they miss most. Sure there are wonderful, exciting, and marvelous things here that wouldn’t happen in that old state-of-mind home. Some days we all laughed about them. Some days we didn’t.

What are they? In no particular order, here are a few things Barb and her expat buddies have to accept when living in the UK:

  • Bathrooms: Government regulations protect Barb from life-risking behavior like plugging in her hairdryer or a heater in a room with a water source by outlawing outlets. The light switch is outside the bathroom and to Barb’s dying day, I expect she will still go into the bathroom, close the door in the dark, say a word her children don’t think she knows, open the door, slap on the light switch, close the door again, and carry on with her business. She needed specialized training to use the shower controls. But we both agreed towel warmers are the invention of the gods.
  • GardensPets, and the Weather: the only acceptable topics of conversation. In the UK, they get it. For example, in Scotland you can take your dog with you into most shops and pubs. Barb asked if the train allowed dogs and the ticket seller admitted with some embarrassment that if she brought more than two dogs, there might be a fee.
  • Jokes: everyone in the UK can tell them. Everyone does. They won’t get yours.
  • Accents: they change every few miles. Really. Some you won’t be able to understand (Geordie/Weegie/Jeremy the Vet.) When people start to talk to you, they’ll sound virtually incomprehensible. But often when they realize you’re American, their voices will posh up into some cross between BBC presenters and the queen.
  • Appliances: Electric kettles work like magic. Electric clothes washers not so much. Electric clothes dryers not at all. Your refrigerator will not have an ice maker or water in the door. It will probably not have ice-cube trays. Many people may not know what ice-cubes are. Nobody will know what ice-cube trays are and you will have to order them from dodgy Chinese import sites.
  • Roads: You can drive to Paris (via the Euro-tunnel or car ferries). They didn’t get around to putting back the road signs they took down during WW2, so if you don’t have a Satnav (which is British for GPS) or an excellent data package on your mobile (British for cellphone), you might do just that.
  • English: Clearly, you will have to learn it from scratch, even though you thought you’d been speaking it your whole life.


Barb has been in the UK for several years now, but she’s only starting to get the hang of the language. Still, for those who are struggling with some of the differences between American and British English, I’ve developed an all-purpose conversation translator.



I’m sorry. You just bumped my arm and spilled my overpriced beverage down my favorite cashmere sweater. I’m going to sue you.
I’m terribly sorry.


Then you tried to wipe it up and ended up groping my private bits. I may file charges.
Excuse me? And now, you cretin, you’ve [smashed into the back of my car/ruined my day/spoken to me in public/wasted perfectly good oxygen]. A guy I know named Vinnie is going to remove your kneecaps.
Oh, dear. The [back of my car/rest of my life/ universe] now looks like an irredeemable disaster and I can’t look away. Vinnie has brothers.
Looks like a bit of rain. Of course it does, you imbecile — this is England. But there’s a gap in the conversation, and by law it must be filled with observations regarding the weather. Speaking of which…
I’ve been a bit under the weather. I had the priest over for the last rites.
But not to worry. I’m fine. Actually, I’m moments away from complete mental and possibly physical collapse.
You should come around for dinner. If I see you at my house, I’m calling the police.
Cheers. Please die painfully.

The truth is that Barb and I love each and every one of these things that so clearly indicate we’re in a different place, the one we decided to call home.

So…home. Where the heart is? I don’t think so. Barb’s heart might completely and delightedly embrace waking up each day in this new place. But the primeval impulse that has salmon making epic journeys to return to the waters that spawned them, that sends birds on journeys of thousands of miles, or that has Barb lining up for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, will still be that tiny little voice whispering, “Back home we did it this way…”

Happy Easter/Passover/Ostara from Paradise Scotland!