Conversation with Karmann

  

Karmann: Mom. Mom we have to talk.

Me: Yes?

Karmann: You know I have Addison’s, right? 

Me: I am aware.

Karmann: Right. Yeah. I know cause I was there when the vet told you.

Me: Indeed you were.

Karmann: I was also there when she told you that any kind of stress–happy exciting stress or bad scary stress–would likely require a bolus of Prednisone SO WHY DO YOU HATE ME?!???

Me: I–wha-??

Karmann: You took me to the vet on Thursday and I was both excited and nervous so I became a total spaz over the weekend and where was my bolus? Mom! Where was my bolus?

Me: But you’ve been doing so well managing stress that I didn’t even–

Karmann: Out! Take me out! My intestines have yet more mucuos I need to evacuate! YOU DID THIS. 

(Take Karmann outside, wander futilely as she sniffs around, uncomfortable. After 10 minutes, return to the house.)

Me: Awwwwww, Nut. I’m sorry.

Karmann: You did this. Shape up.

Me: 😟

Karmann: Oh hey, and before you go back downstairs, I just want you to know–when you accidentally gave me Cal’s Trazadone? And I was stoned all day? And you laughed?

Me: Yeah, I am REALLY sorr–

Karmann: I remember. Just know that. I remember. 

Rating the Beagle-ish

From this Healthy Pets article, 10 Beagle Fun Facts (as they pertain to Calvin the beagle-ish):

1. They’re thousands of years old

They mean the breed, of course, which is interesting from the perspective that humans, in thousands of years, have not been driven absolutely batshit insane by their vocal proclivities and neuroses. Cal would have us all believe that he is a mere 5 years old, but I will also accept the possibility that he is timeless and will somehow be involved in calling forth the apocalypse.

2. The first beagles were miniature

At 21″ tall, Cal is–by beagle standards–immense. By Cal’s sleeping preferences and apparent level of self esteem, Cal is also a pocket beagle. Teeny tiny.

3. Beagles have white-tipped tails

Check!

4. Beagle means “loudmouth” in French

Check check CHECK CHECK CHECK OHMYDOG CHECK.

5. They’re very popular in the US

Cal thinks this is terrible and cheap and he’d like to see this change. He is a very lovable fellow, but only after a protracted getting-to-know-you period in which, preferably, no eye contact is made. He once maintained absolute stoic silence and noble comportment as a very charming 7 year old girl pet him and attempted to wheedle her mother into adopting him. The mother was not taken with Cal’s chilly exterior and they were thus proven unworthy. This, he feels, is the direction in which beagles, as a breed, should be heading.

6. Snoopy is a beagle

Cal does not think it would be very fun to strap on goggles and fly an airplane. In fact, he thinks that sounds dreadful.

7. Queen Elizabeth I loved beagles

Cal is deeply suspicious of the monarchy, stopping just short of describing himself as an anti-monarchist. While he does appreciate its historical and romantic aspects, he fears it might be a bit superfluous and overly ostentatious in this day and age. That does not mean that he won’t accept a Prince Charles and Princess Di commemorative plate as a 6th birthday gift. He’s not some troglodyte, after all. And he’s sure the Queen took wonderful care of her tiny beagles.

8. Beagles in the White House (LBJ had 2–Him and Her)

Cal is appalled by LBJ’s lack of creativity in naming. He’s also appalled by the lack of beagles in the White House currently, as such residence would be a disposition befitting the breed as he conceives it. Thanks, Obama!

9. Barry Manilow loves beagles

Calvin likes Copa Cabana. Win-win.

10. The US Department of Homeland Security has a Beagle Brigade to find smuggled contraband agricultural products

Cal believes he should have a Homeland Security Brigade to keep people, unknown dogs, and the occasional wind-blown leaf away from him.

Now I Am Become Death

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Living room, just after sunrise on a Wednesday. Kelley drinks tea on the couch beside Schmoopie, who is eating oatmeal. Squirrels frolic in the trees just outside the back windows.

KARMANN: I see tree kittens. I see tree kittens. I see tree kittens! I see TREE KITTENS!!! I SEE TREE KITTENS OH MY DOG I SEE THEM THEY ARE THERE AND THEY ARE FROLICSOME!!!

CALVIN: I guess she sees tree kittens.

KARMANN: (to Cal) I DO I SEE THEM GET OVER HERE!!!

CALVIN: sigh

MORTIMER: (ninja moves)

KARMANN: (incomprehensible shouting)

Panic ensues as the household is overtaken by shouty dogs and swatting cats. Humans emerge victorious after several minutes of chase, and Schmoopie returns to couch, holding puffy and irritated Mortimer

MORTIMER: That’s right. I control this shit.

KELLEY: You destabilize this shit, is what you do.

MORTIMER: Exactly, mom. Exactly.

KELLEY: Who are you? Shiva?

MORTIMER: (looks away) This conversation has gone too far.

Sadpants Puppies and the People Who Take Them Out to Pee Every Ten Minutes

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Solitary Convalescence

We had a pretty decent snow storm on Saturday: snow, ice, everything freezing, nobody clearing the roads because Saturday. It was a good day to stay inside, and that’s exactly what we did at Chez Critter. In fact, it was such a good day to stay inside that my dear beagle-ish, who is way beyond his threshold of tolerance for cold white crap between his toes, decided to do his part to render the outdoors entirely unnecessary. He peed and pooped as soon as he hit the basement enroute to morning outside time and, once finished, looked at me (wearing one snow boot and a look of great consternation) like, “No worries. I took care of everything. Back upstairs?”

There was one post-breakfast puke incident, in which it appeared a dog–I surmised it was Karmann, as she looked a bit sad–apparently exploded in the hallway, right where the gaps between the floor boards are greatest. But, emesis aside, we were all able to slide into a nice, cozy, “so glad we don’t need to go out there!” Saturday routine pretty easily. Dogs and cats napped, people vegged, all was well.

You’d think, by now, that I’d know that warm, safe, comfortable feeling to be a harbinger of critter doom, but I am apparently the eternal optimist. So instead of quaking in fear of what unnamed horror lay before me, I just chilled, unsuspecting, until around 8pm, when Karmann became agitated.

I assumed it was her now-requisite post dinner pee, so I took her outside where she squatted quickly and for a very long time. I felt happy that this was clearly a need met, and we returned to the house. Karmann laid down. I settled in. Schmoop and I continued the movie we had paused.

And then, five minutes later, Karmann was back at it, grumbling and shouting in a manner that typically suggests she needs to poop. This would be the third poop of the day, which is weird for her,  but sure, whatever, pup. Let’s go for a walk.

We went for a walk.

And Karmann squatted.

And she squatted some more.

And I gently jogged her around the baseball field in half a foot of snow because, usually, all that squatting means her hips are bugging her and she can’t comfortably assume poop position.

And she pooped, and we carried on.

And she squatted.

And squatted.

And she waddle-squatted.

And I realized something was very wrong indeed.

So, if any of my neighbors are reading this, here is the explanation I’m sure you’ve been waiting for: I was sticking my head under my squatting dog to see what, if anything, was happening. As it turns out, nothing was happening. Which was good for my under-dog head location, but bad for my dog. So we hustled home, with Karmann tugging and sniffing and squatting and, now, whimpering, and me thinking about that post-breakfast puke and the fact that Karmann had actually been pretty subdued all day and, come to think of it, she did drink a lot of water.

By the time we got home, I was pretty sure she had a UTI. I took her inside, told Schmoop I thought something was up, then went out with a flashlight to inspect the site of the epic post-dinner pee. There was no pee. Note: I’d just like to give a little shout-out to snow for making my life easier and being quite helpful in this one, very limited, context.

I told Schmoop she needed to go to the vet, and we set out to shovel and de-ice the driveway. Because snowstorm. Note: I kinda sorta rescind that shout-out, snow, because you were a pain in my ass in this other, much larger, context.

I took her to the emergency vet that I don’t particularly like but had the advantage of proximity, because I figured a probable UTI was straightforward enough that it didn’t warrant risking life and limb to spend twenty minutes on frozen highways to get to my preference. By the time we got there, she was a hot little mess: shaking, panting, whining, tugging to go outside. She hid from anyone who came to pet her.

They got us into the exam room and she immediately peed on the floor. As the tech filled a syringe from the puddle, I could see that it was bright pink. The vet came in several minutes later and informed me that their urine wouldn’t be picked up until Monday, though they were pretty sure it was a UTI so let’s start her on Clavamox. I explained that she’d had UTI’s before, but never this acute, and he suggested x-rays to make sure there were no issues with stones, since the urinalysis would take forever. I agreed, eager for peace of mind because oh my god, I do not do critters peeing blood very well at all, as it turns out.

No stones, but $125 well-spent, given the behavior I was about to go home to.

Karmann spent the better part of the night needing to go out every five to ten minutes to leave little dribbles of what looked like pure blood. If you’re wondering, no. No, there is no real point in coming inside when you’re operating at those intervals. Because as soon as you remove your coat and soggy boots, you are putting them back on. I do not recall having ever seen Karmann so agitated and clearly uncomfortable.

Because I had to do a nine mile run on Sunday, and because we weren’t sure how long this was going to last and he would not be able to do it Sunday night before work, Schmoop volunteered to stay downstairs with Karm so that I could go to bed and get some sleep. All the brownie points are become his.

I may have laid in a bed, but quality sleep was not a thing that happened for either Cal or I. He would get up at intervals and tap his way over to the gate at the top of the stairs, disrupting whatever level of dozing I’d accomplished. And I could hear the door going all night. Eventually, when we traded shifts Sunday morning, so that Schmoop could go to bed, he said the intervals could be expanded to about thirty minutes, so long as she was being scritched.

The wildcard, as it turned out, was Cal. He had been crazy excited to get downstairs to her, only to be greeted with curmudgeonly indifference. He took the bed she wanted, so she would pace and beg to go out every ten minutes. And the staring. Oh, the staring. Eventually, stupid human got the gist and I sent Cal upstairs to sleep with Schmoop, so that Karmann could convalesce in peace and solitude. She sacked out pretty quickly after that, and napped for a couple hours before she needed to go out.

Antibiotics are on board and clearly working, though she’s still snoozy and in no mood to have second choice of beds. Cal seems to have caught on and is waiting for her to settle before selecting his own resting spot. I’m hanging out with them and staring at Karmann to make sure she’s still breathing and seems comfortable, because I’m a lunatic.

But I’m a lunatic who accomplished a nine mile run in laces-high slush after minimal sleep and a night of a blood-peeing dog, so I’ve got that going for me, at least. Running for Critters stops for no horrifying medical events, human or canine.

In Which I Ramble About Deer and Assholes

"You're going to want to grab a cup of coffee. This one got long"

“You’re going to want to grab a cup of coffee. This one got long”

I have nothing against hunting. For food.

When taken by a responsible hunter (i.e. permitted, law-abiding, property-respecting, good shot) wild game is one of the most humane sources of animal protein currently available. Unlike our factory farming system, which sentences animals to a life of unspeakable horrors, game animals are more or less bopping around their native habitats, having about as good a life as they can in a world run by people until, ideally, they are quickly and quietly dispatched.

I also have a not insignificant amount of respect for people who interact with their food systems in a way that I don’t, can’t, or won’t. I believe there is much to be said for the hunter who understands, and respects, that he or she is taking a life in order to sustain their own, and then proceeds to put every bit of the animal to use with a near psychotic efficiency.

That said, I have everything in the world against hunting for sport. If your idea of “sport” is stalking a thumb-less and unarmed vegetarian creature while you, an apex predator, are stuffed with beer and strapped to the gills in miniaturized explosives well, I’d like to introduce you to “golf.” Because golf is more sporting than that shit.

And in the name of sweet sweet reason, don’t plaster Facebook with photos of you drunkenly holding the head of your still-warm quarry. One, that is disrespectful—if you do that, you are officially hunting for “sport” even if you eat the damn thing. Two, I just assume that every male who does this is suffering a serious case of micropenis. If you have to kill a deer because it is literally or metaphorically better hung than you are, check how you’re living. And get a hobby. I suggest an actual sport.

Based on the aforementioned opinions, I have a hierarchy of hunters. At the top of that hierarchy, more or less above reproach, is the subsistence hunter. You do you, man. And thank you for not contributing to the US’s deplorable animal husbandry standards. Beneath subsistence hunters—like way, way beneath them; so far beneath them they’d need an extension ladder to lick a subsistence hunter’s bootheel—are the “sport” hunters who all need to read a fucking book.

And beneath even them, down past the Treacherous in what, I’m sure, would have been labeled the Twentieth Circle of Hell (give or take) if only Dante had had a bigger excavator, are the Inhumane Fuckwits.

King of the Inhumane Fuckwits is the canned hunt-er.

This makes the entire municipality in which I dwell—bastion of soccer moms, upscale shopping, and vegan groceries—the official barony of Inhumane Fuckwits. For you see, those soccer moms have become very worried about their soccer vans toting their soccer children as deer run rampant! Hurling themselves into traffic! Launching themselves through windscreens! Mayhem! Destruction! Carnage! There is blood in the streets and its up to the soccer moms’ ankles because deer.

So the precioussssssssss (fuck them) have instituted a canned hunt, which they are calling a deer cull, recently approved by the PA Game Commission (fuck them, too.) This allows them to set up paddocks, spread corn, close the gate, then shoot the captive deer. Not only is this a stupidly ineffective non-solution to the problem, it’s unspeakably cruel. Deer have nothing on us. They don’t have a second amendment and are therefore without firearms, they can’t really bite us to death (not effectively, anyway), and they’re the exact opposite of intimidating. There was that one guy, on When Animals Attack, who was boxed by a deer but, injuries notwithstanding, I think the overwhelming majority of the population just laughed at that. Or maybe that was just me.

This canned hunt removes their only means of defense–the ability to run away–so that people can quickly and conveniently shoot them in the head. And, to add insult to mortal injury, it does it by luring them into the situation. It’s not like the deer just happened to be standing around in this pen so someone closed the gates. Nay. It’s winter. They’re hungry. Inevitably, they find this Xanadu in the snow, where the floor is literally paved with dried corn and BLAM! Someone shoots them in the face. And the last ones to go get to freak the hell out while they watch the other deer get shot in the face.

If you can’t see what’s wrong with that, fuck you, as well. The Humane Society will see you out.

I obviously have a problem with this “solution”, but I also take issue with the underlying premise that anything at all needs to be done about the deer. We have a lot of them, that is true. We also have a fair amount of green space in the community. If only someone could have forseen that parkland attracts wildlife. Woe betide us. But then, I’m guessing that green space and an overall bucolic vibe are likely two features that attracted many of these Inhumane Fuckwits to the Lebo over, say, Larimer.

In addition to a lot of deer, we also have relatively low speed limits. I’ve seen far more deer on the residential, 25MPH, streets than I have on the primary roads—which stands to reason: it’s quieter. Much more chill. They wander around, fairly unmolested, eating people’s Hostas. There are no Hostas on Banksville. So, I mean, I hate to bring up the elephant in the room (please don’t shoot him!) but uhhhhhh . . . if you’re driving 25 MPH or less, pray tell me: why can you not avoid bloody, deadly collisions with large mammals?

Oh right. It’s because you are actually traveling almost twice that speed, but it’s just plain easier to blame the deer than it is to take responsibility. And also, I know you paid your landscapers a lot to maintain those Hostas.

Let me pause here to emphasize that I, in no way, mean to diminish the safety risk posed by Pennsylvania’s crazy pants deer population. Deer-vehicle collisions are at best scary, and at worst, deadly. But in a mostly residential community, with pretty rational speed limits and good distance from the closest interstate, there is no way that they should be as out-of-control scary as our little hamlet would have it seem.

Speeding is a known issue here. Drive half a mile through this community and you’ll lose count of all the “Drive like your children live here!” signs you will pass. As a runner, I have been very nearly run off the road twice, and actually hit by a vehicle once. I’ve been running off and on since 1998, in four states and five cities, and this is the only place I’ve ever been concerned for my safety. Here. In a community that markets itself on its walkability. Which is to say, Mt. Lebanon: you all drive like assholes.

When I pointed this out on a Facebook discussion, I was summarily told “not all drivers!” and also that pedestrians need to take responsibility for not being visible enough. Legitimate overtures could be made to take “It’s your fault!” as our community catchphrase. Isn’t it possible–just possible–that this asshole attitude, combined with the speeding, might have something to do with all your freaking deer collisions? Perhaps we don’t need a deer cull so much as a driver reeducation camp. Because even if the deer cull works (it won’t) these people are still going to need something to break them from their texting-while-driving stupor and a runner works just as well as a deer. Will we then ban runners? Or just shoot them?

Since I acknowledge that there are a lot of deer, and that we are but one community in the midst of a state-wide deer overpopulation issue, I’m not averse to the notion that something, perhaps, should be done. I will at least humor that notion. My first favorite response to overpopulation of deer is allowing the natural coyote population to return to healthy levels.

Except that one time that people in Lebo starting seeing coyotes, they freaked the hell out and wanted to kill those, too. If there’s one thing Lebonites dislike even more than deer eating their Hostas, it’s coyotes eating their Morkiepoos. So obviously that won’t work.

Well, ok. What about sterilization? That was one of the plans under consideration. Does would be tranquilized and sterilized in a mobile surgical suite. What on earth could be wrong with that?

Not fast enough. All the deer would remain alive. An entire deer generation-worth of Hostas would still be eaten. Natch.

So you see, an inhumane eradication procedure was really their only option. Won’t anybody think of Mt. Lebanon? The deer have made them be mean. It’s so sad.

Apparently, the deer have also rendered them terminally stupid, because here’s the thing: once they shoot all the captive deer, freeing their streets and thinning the herd, do they sincerely expect surrounding deer won’t move in? Are they going to build a fence? Do they suspect that the Upper St. Clair deer, and the Scott Township deer, and the Dormont deer will hear what happens in Mt. Lebanon and just . . . stay away? Do they honestly believe that deer even know where the boundaries of those communities are? I know Lebo thinks it’s the center of the universe and that everyone knows it, but I gotta say, I think the deer give about as many fucks as I do.

The deer want the space, we have the space. The deer aren’t going anywhere unless you build a bubble (true fact: there is not presently a bubble over Lebo to contain its rarified air. I repeat: won’t anyone think of them?) So all this really does is begin an endless cycle wherein portions of our green space are turned into mammalian massacre pens.

And you just know someone is going to bitch about having to look at the blood-soaked ground.

When Running for Critters Runs Into Critters Running. Also, Asshats.

I hope your coffee was super delicious, jagoff.

I hope your coffee was super delicious, jagoff.

Pop quiz!

Not quite one week ago you “rescued” a “traumatized” dog who is scared of people. Today, you want gas station coffee. Do you:

A) Pat pup on the head, give him a Kong, and take your 15 minute leave to walk to the local filling station

B) Pat pup on the head, give him a Kong, crate him, and take your 15 minute leave to walk to the local filling station

C) Put pup in the car and drive the stupidly short distance to the gas station because you don’t want to leave pup, but you really need the coffee and you realize only a serious douchecanoe would tie their dog to a trash can while they ducked into a convenience mart for coffee

D) Walk pup to gas station. Secure him to trash can because I mean, that’s basically their third purpose, behind “trash can” and bike rack, amirite?

If you picked D, I may have met you Thursday. And if you did, and I did, and you thought, “Heavens, that was a polite, if hurried young lady. What a wonderful world we live in! And with such delicious coffee!” I just want you to know that it took absolutely everything good within me to keep from kicking you in the nads.

If that all sounds familiar but you’re just not sure if it was you, allow me to refresh.

Me: smallish, possibly angry-looking female on last leg of run commute hauling ass up Federal street as your dog careened down the middle of it and through busy intersections before Tokyo-drifting around a corner and into morning commute traffic.

You: Douchecanoe who strolled leisurely in general direction of said dog, stopping to chat up passersby and enquire as to the whereabouts of your hound while sipping coffee and explaining, variously, that he “doesn’t run fast” and that he’s skittish around people.

I have a love/hate relationship with ambiguity and, in this instance, I’m feeling more hate. So, since I am kind and want what is best not only for you, but OF you, I have prepared a brief DOS and DON’Ts list for dog treatment in light of the above scenario. Let’s get started with the don’ts, shall we? Get all that pesky negativity out of the way.

  • DON’T secure your recently-rescued, “traumatized” and skittish dog to a trash can and then leave him unattended. How is this even a thing you need to be told? If my dad were alive he’d be asking you if you just fell off the turnip truck while I bashed you in the face with my fully loaded water bottle for being absolutely incompatible with a reasonable and compassionate citizenry. I would completely ignore irony in favor of sweet, vengeful righteousness.
  • You know what, asshole? DON’T secure any dog to any thing and then leave them unattended. This simplifies everything, because if you never do it, you won’t ever do it in such a profoundly imbecilic context as the one above. Even if your dog is the most awesomely well-socialized, friendly, happy, obedient canine on Earth, do you know what kind of PEOPLE are out there? For starters, there’s you. And then it goes down hill. There are people who see a dog and want a dog and steal a dog; people who need bait dogs; people who are seriously fucked in the head and just want to do awful things; jackass little kids who like to pet, poke, prod, or otherwise antagonize dogs because they’re little shits and their parents are cretins. ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE. Leaving your dog unattended is setting them up to be harassed, bite someone, or possibly get freaked out and pull over a trash can before running through the city streets.
  • DON’T adopt another damn dog. Not until you can wrap your mind around the most basic responsibilities of dog stewardship, chief among which is keeping them safe–an ideal fundamentally incompatible with tethering said dog to a trash can. I mean, if you’re ever in doubt, just say that out loud: “I am going to tether my dog to a trash can.” Would you tether your baby to a trash can? What about, like, your favorite leather car coat? You tying that to a trash can anytime soon? Do you even know who voluntarily touches trash cans? NOBODY THEY ARE GROSS AND COVERED IN TRASH JUICE.
  • DON’T, for the love of all that is good in this world, be that insufferably laid back person. You know, the one who’s all, “Dogs are cool, man, you just gotta chill out. They’ll find their way home if they get loose. They aren’t, like, stupid, man. Sometimes you just gotta let ’em run.” Dogs aren’t stupid, but this kind of flippant attitude is. I’m not asking you to be some kind of neurotic, I’m simply suggesting that you check in with common sense every so often and recognize that your dog is entirely dependent on you for all his basic needs, including safety. Just keep your goddamn dog safe and save your chill for the next Burning Man Festival.

And for the dos:

  • DO take a long, hard look at the picture at the top of the page. Because those are YOUR DOG’S BLOODY PAW PRINTS. I first saw them on Phineas Street, almost a mile from where I initially saw your dog. And on my way home, after work, I saw your dog’s bloody paw prints fucking everywhere. All over the North Side. That picture? That was taken on Sandusky, near the Warhol Museum. Nearly another mile from the prints on Phineas. There are miles of your poor dog’s bloody paw prints crisscrossing an entire section of the city. And while I realize that my mental anguish in seeing them is nothing compared to what your dog must have felt, running scared through traffic and bleeding all over the North Side, that shit chaps my ass so bad I’ma have to buy stock in Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. I spent THE ENTIRE GODDAMNED DAY thinking about and worrying about YOUR DOG. So, not only did you fuck up your dog’s day, but you seriously side fucked mine AND I AM NOT OK WITH THAT. It is not ok that I spent the morning imagining your dog being smashed by a truck on 28 and frantically texting the administrator of the local lost dog page. It is not ok that I did all this worrying and texting while thinking of you peaceably strolling down the street, making excuses for why your dog was hurling himself through intersections.

There really are no excuses. Your dog was in the position he was in because you were an asshole. Now, I realize that you and I shared a brief interaction during which you came off as a flippant prick and that may not be the real you. Maybe you realized you put your dog in a world of hurt and you shut down out of embarrassment and sincere regret. I don’t know, and I don’t really care.

But I do care about your dog. Your dog deserves better. If you’re ever reunited, I hope you remember that, and I hope you can somehow dig deep and find the champion that he deserves.

Though, if we’re being honest, I hope even more that some other, really super great person gets your dog and stuffs him full of liver jerky and snuggles on the couch with him. And if that person ever finds, on a blustery Thursday morning, that they really want a coffee, I hope they have a goddamned coffee maker.

Running for Critters: Breaking All the Things

Oh. It's a leg.

Oh. It’s a leg.

PSA: your skin is not SUPPOSED to be all weird and speckly like that. Nor is it supposed to itch like the devil. Turns out, that happens when you run in extremely low temps and the topmost layer of your skin actually starts to freeze, and then thaws when you come inside. Not all deep and gangrenous, like frostbite, but just enough that, after a really unpleasant shower you google “cold run legs itchy speckled” and then recoil in horror at the results because really, eew. Thawing leg flesh.

I FREEZE MY LEG SKIN FOR CRITTERS.

Opinions. We have a surplus.

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“If I am not allowed on the bed, then you, Calvin, are FOR DAMN SURE NOT ALLOWED ON THE BED GET OFF.”

When I adopted Karmann, I was living by myself in Savannah and I had a particularly strong opinion that she should be able to howl. I have no idea why I wanted this, and I was well aware that not all dogs howled and this was not really something I could teach her. Nevertheless, when we got a particularly lovely night we would go out late and stand in the middle of the street, and I would attempt to recreate the scene from Moonstruck where grandpa is encouraging his own tiny mutt herd to howl.

GUARDE DE LA LUNA KARMANN!!! AAAAA-OOOOOOOOOOOOO!

In the middle of the street. In a quiet neighborhood. And honestly, I don’t even think those are the right Italian words. I was probably yelling at her to lettuce on the moon. But it felt right, you know? So I did it. Occasionally, my upstairs neighbor would come out with his dog and laugh hysterically at us. It was good times. Very Savannah-y.

I think about those balmy, sort of insane southern nights often. Usually when Karmann is bitching incessantly and doing her best “howl”, which comes out as a protracted grumble and sounds quite ornery for a dog who is wagging her whole body. And I think, “Hey! I maybe did that! [bitch bitch bitch] I . . . did that.”

Karmann has a lot of opinions and, thanks to our 1am howling sessions, she expresses them vocally. Moreso as she ages and her filter, apparently, diminishes.

She has opinions on when she should be fed: “arrrrrruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuruuuuuuuruuuuuuuugh!”

She has opinions about how quickly I prepare her food: “Grrrrrrruuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

She has opinions about when she should be taken outside just because she wants to go outside and not, necessarily, because she has to do anything out there other than monitor the tree kittens: “rrrrrrruh.rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrugh.”

She has opinions about when humans should get out of bed: *silence* . . . *taptaptap over to bedside* *silence* . . . *positions snout next to sleeping human ear* . . . “RORK! RORK! RORK! RORKROROKRORK!”

She has opinions about when she needs to be taken out LIKE RIGHT NOW AND IT’S AN EMERGENCY EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS SLEEPING UNTIL RIGHT THIS SECOND HURRY!!!: “auuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrORKORKORKORK . . . *wagglebutt tapdance* ORKORKORKORKORKORKORKORKORKORKORK!!!”

She does not bark at things. Or people. She doesn’t bark at other dogs. She only vocalizes when she has opinions about things her closely-associated humans are–or should be–doing.

Well. Her humans . . . and Cal. She has a whole crapload of opinions about Cal: what smells he can smell (none of the smells), when he can rest (when she is resting), when he should play (whenever she wants to play), what things are his (none of the things), etc. We run interference on La Diva, so that Cal isn’t endlessly harassed, but that never stops her from trying and sometimes the opinions reach critical mass before we realize she’s ready to unleash them. See also: Christmas.

For Christmas, we got the pups the bobbly little turtle toys with stuffable bellies. Karmann’s opinion on treat toys has generally been that any not in her possession would be considered a declaration of war, so we had avoided them. But hope springs eternal around here, for some reason, and we decided that maybe it could be ok now. So we stuffed the turtles and made happy chirpy sounds and gave Karmann the green turtle and Calvin the blue turtle. Karmann snatched hers and ran, but Cal does not take things, so I carried his turtle for him and placed it in his bed. He seemed suspicious. Possibly nefarious turtle takeover of his bed: quel horreur.

So of course Karmann helped to soothe his fears by looking up, realizing there was a turtle that wasn’t in her bed, and launching herself, while shouting, at Cal who, if he were a human in pants, would have wet said pants. There was shrieking and angry faces and scared faces, and the dog equivalent of “THAT IS MY TURTLE!!!!” and “GET THIS AWFUL TURTLE OUT OF MY BED OH MY GOD” and “IT’S MINE!!!” and “FINE!!!” and “MINEMINEMINE” and “I DIDN’T EVEN ASK FOR THIS!!!”–and that was just in the three seconds it took for humans to realize what was happening and intervene.

We separated them and then tried to re-introduce the turtles at some additional distance, which pleased Karmann but horrified Cal, because for him the turtle is just a thing that takes his bed and gets him yelled at.

I feel like I should apologize to Cal, for all those evenings spent encouraging Karmann to voice her opinions. And I would do that, except that I can’t get a word in edgewise around here.

At least I taught her something?

Happy Christmas!

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Happy Holidays to all!

Critters are currently not stirring but, as always, they reserve the right to stir (possibly violently) at a moment’s notice. So I’m taking advantage of the stillness to consume a bedtime Manhattan in rare, relative peace.

I hope everyone enjoys, or has enjoyed, their celebration of choice.

Times When I Cannot.

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Fluffy kitten all clean and snuggly and . . . clean. Really clean. So clean–Oh gods those were happier times.

Mortimer Kitten woke me at 6:15 this fine (or so I thought) Sunday morning. That’s practically late, and so I was not particularly perturbed as I threw on a sweater and headed downstairs to breakfast the cats.

As I made the switchback on the stairs, my peace was–well, we’ll just say it was wobbled, but not broken. I smelled cat poop. If you’ve read this blog more than twice, you’ll know that poop whiff is a thing that happens with alarming frequency and so is not, in and of itself, cause for much more than a groan and the unpleasant anticipation of having to clean something. And that’s exactly what I did: I groaned, and felt momentarily irritated.

And then I hit the first floor.

It dawned on me then that the poop whiff was strong. Much stronger than usual. And my irritation turned into trepidation which then quickly gave way to absolute dumbstruck horror as I made the corner into the dining room to discover the floors absolutely painted (in an unexpectedly symmetrical–dare I say rhythmic–pattern) with cat diarrhea.

And then Nigel walked past, his llama pants caked from asshole to . . . knees? . . . in said cat diarrhea.

And he led me into the kitchen, which had also been turned into a midnight poop canvas.

And more poop in the living room.

And everywhere I walked, Nigel followed, looking like a semi-melted Hershey Kiss that had been rolled in orange fur. And he kept sitting. Everywhere, poop and sitting and deposition of more poop and poop and poop and poop.

I had two immediate thoughts:

1. Call Tim, the real estate agent and tell him to list the house because there is nothing to be done and moving is the only viable option.

2. This is not a thing I deal with alone.

I quickly dismissed option 1 because we’d obviously have to burn the house down, which seemed imprudent, and hiked the stairs to fetch Schmoop, whom I roused from slumber by flicking on the lights and announcing that Nigel had painted the house in cat shit and the B team was required.

I told him what had happened. It wasn’t enough–words aren’t enough. He wasn’t prepared when he finally saw. You can’t prepare for something like that. You just can’t.

After a pregnant pause for hand-wringing and gaping and me wandering around with antibacterial spray and paper towels trying to figure out a starting point that didn’t involve arson, we decided to tackle Nigel first.

Literally. We tackled him. Schmoop held him down and I soaked his ass end as he angrily flopped his tail around in a puddle of poop water, flinging it everywhere. Once he was reasonably clean, we moved on to the rest of the house, hitting it first with antibac, and then going over it with the Swiffer.

As I was putting away the cleaning supplies, I heard a series of thumps from the second floor, followed soon after by the telltale whine of the steam cleaner that I purchased at 7am several years ago after Nigel turned the living room into a vomitorium.

There was stair poop.

And also puke. You know. For good measure.

At this point, dear reader, I am sure you are concerned for the welfare of the kitten that produced such copious and creatively-delivered emesis.

Nigel, grumpy and very soggy and still sitting all over the place was in the kitchen. Begging for breakfast. Which is to say, he’s totally fine and probably feeling a hell of a lot better than he was about 30 seconds before all the carnage started.

And so, merry fracking Christmas: the lovely smell of our tree has been displaced by the reek of cat poo, and in addition to the immediate trauma of discovering and then cleaning up after The Incident I have what I can only assume to be a permanent paranoia about hidden poop streaks on furniture, presents, unspotted floor areas, dog beds, cat beds–ALL THE THINGS COULD HAVE POOP ON THEM. NOTHING IS SAFE.

Cards and well wishes can be sent to me, care of whatever sanitarium this lands me in. I’ll update as I can.