It Begins.


Karmann illustrating my post-race consumption of ALL THE WATERS.

This past weekend, I ran the Great Race — a 37 year old 10K founded by beloved Pittsburgh Mayor Richard S. Caliguiri in 1977 — for which I had made absolutely no preparations. First-ever major distance runs, like the half marathon I did in May, should come with disclaimers about registering for every conceivable race in their immediate, euphoric aftermath. But because they do not, I found myself wrenched from bed on a Sunday morning at who-the-hell-does-this? o’ clock to both run the race as a punishment and lesson to myself, and also to kick off official Running for Critters mileage escalation in preparation for actual marathon training.

I am, like, the slowest runner on earth. What I measure as personal, gazelle-like swiftness is probably a moderately strenuous walk for most other runners. Despite this fact, I PR’d (set personal records for) both 5K and 10K distances yesterday, leading me — NATURALLY. — to conclude that my best bet for marathon training would actually be to sit on my ass for the next six months and then show up so the Kenyans can hand me my first place trophy and purse. What could possibly go wrong?

Schmoopie assures me that this will not work, however, and in addition to being (apparently) an inveterate spoilsport, he was also a high school cross country runner, so I suspect he knows from running success. So, ok, I’ll train. Which means it’s official: I am now in prep mode. First step is just to log a month or so of steady 20-30 mile weeks (Ugh.) and re-establish my Bikram yoga regimen. Then I’ll use the Women’s Running training plan, with the first couple weeks of the 24 week program repeated, to gradually ease me into actual training while using Bikram as my cross training. I used the Women’s Running plan for the half marathon last year and I’m still alive, so, I might as well not switch cheetahs in mid watering hole. Or something.


Karmann illustrating my post-race positioning: flat out, and possibly asleep with my eyes open.

In addition to owning some feats of strength LIKE A BAWSS, I also took Karmann to “work” on Sunday. That would be her work, not mine. I have always, always, always wanted to have my girlpup certified as a therapy dog. I think she is perfectly suited for this in every conceivable way–especially the intangibles, like making it impossible for people to not smile in her presence–save one: she is the Tigger of dogs. So bouncy. The bounce cannot be reined in. And obviously the last thing anyone needs is for an adorable Karmann to launch herself directly into the face of some frail (smiling!) senior, taking them down and shattering their hip(s) in the process. I enjoy being a social pariah due to relative misanthropy and introversion; I do not wish to expand into elder abuse territory.

So that has been mildly frustrating, as I really want to do something with her. She likes to do things, organized things. But she’s not huge on agility, and any gathering of dogs becomes Karmann Social Hour, so I’ve been at a loss.

Enter Awesome Debby.

Awesome Debby is a dog trainer friend, who is awesome, and for whom I occasionally serve as Sacrificial Stranger for people-reactive puppies. But occasionally, doggies are dog-reactive. And Karmann has very few shits to give about dogs who think they don’t like her. What a silly notion. So, Karmann makes a very decent Sacrificial Stranger Dog, who can take direction while Awesome Debby works with the reactive pups. It’s fun for me, because I have a focused thing to do with Karmann. It’s fun for Karmann because everything is fun for Karmann and also Awesome Debby = extra treats. And some pups rather like Cal get some behavioral assistance which, of course, is super. So even if she can’t be a Therapy Dog, Karmie can still do something helpful and useful and moderately structured from time to time.

Anyway, all of that explanation is to say that she had a gig this weekend. And here is how my ostensibly well-behaved and distinguished middle-aged certified Canine Good Citizen handled that:

  • She spent the entire 20 minute ride to Awesome Debby’s client trying to worm (over, under, and around) onto Awesome Debby the Dog Trainer’s lap, thereby exposing the complete lack of training I manage to maintain in Awesome Debby’s absence.
  • She pooped on the job, like it was her job. Because basically, as a dog, she is the CEO and Board Chairpuppy of pooping. “just walk her past the door!” = *walk walk walk POOOOOP walk*
  • As soon as she heard Awesome Debby working on “find it!” with the client pups, Karmann assumed she was the one for whom the treats (several feet above her head, on a balcony, no less) were intended, and she nearly dragged me down trying to locomote her way toward Awesome Debby’s voice.
  • She did so much desperate pulling in the direction of Awesome Debby’s voice, in warm-for-Karmann weather, that she became foamy. Requiring her to drink all of Awesome Debby’s personal water, because I am a horribly neglectful dog mom who did not bring her any water of her own.

That’s mah dog, y’all! So proud . . . so proud.

But seriously? So *squish*


Running for Critters


So I am officially registered to run the whole freaking Pittsburgh Marathon–ON MY BIRTHDAY–to raise money for the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center (ARL). As you will perhaps note, because it will be staring at you, disconcertingly, from the right side tool bar, I’ve put up a link to my fundraising website. In case you stumble on this blog, love the crap out of it, and generously decide to donate by clicking Cal’s head only to discover that I have raised none or few monies so far, I can only stress: Ladies and Gentlemen, I have not yet begun to beg. Fundraising in earnest will kick off Jan 1.

I have, however, already contused my knee on a critter-seqestering baby gate because extreme and injurious clumsiness is my body’s natural response to being forced to run an unholy and unwholesome number of miles. But I digress.

Last year, thanks to the awesomeness of friends, family, and a few very lovely internet strangers who supported my half marathon efforts, we helped to raise $750 for the ARL. This year I’m raising the bar to $1000 for the full 26.2.

This year's Running for Critters Chief Donation Hypnotizer

This year’s Running for Critters Chief Donation Hypnotizer

I put up the donation link because, as I did last year, I plan to give brief and/or hilarious weekly updates on my efforts to whip myself into such condition that I can reasonably expect to cross the finish line under my own motive power. As long as I’m doing that, I might as well have Cal stare you all down, and wear you all down, for donations.

I’ve also put him up there for accountability and motivational purposes. Y’all. A half marathon was TOUGH. Seriously. I am not a runner. A full marathon may very well kill me and I KNOW, in the deepest cockles of my heart (whatever the hell those are) that there will be times–so many times–that I will want to quit. Or skip a long run. Or skip a short run. Or skip all the runs in favor of sitting on my couch eating a delicious, delicious pizza. But unlike last year, when I waited until the last minute to register and publicize my fundraising efforts to make sure I thought I was up to the task, THIS YEAR I am MAKING myself up to the task. I am setting out to do it, I am announcing from the get-go that I will do it, and dammit, IT WILL BE DONE.

I’m completely freaking horrified.

So, whether you click now, or click later, or don’t click at all and just send me some mental energy because, hey, this economy is total shit and I get that, you will have to look at my most freakily adorable boy dog until May 3, 2015. If you feel yourself becoming lightheaded, or inexplicably drawn to adopt small, unstable hound dogs, I recommend averting your eyes for a few seconds. It should pass. Or you’ll get a dog. Win-win.

And with that, in the spirit of this year’s Marathon theme, and also Bane (weird): LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

Auuuuuuggghhhhh: A Play in One Act


Kelley walks dogs into back yard for routine pee break, paying little attention to the grass until Karmann flops happily into a playful down and begins nose-poking something in the grass

KELLEY: Karmann–no–don’t . . . What are you . . . KARMANN!

KARMANN: gazes up, benignly

KELLEY: scrutinizes grass and discovers, with great horror, a small, pale, heaving feathered bosom OH MY GOD IS THAT A BIRD DID YOU HALF KILL A BIRD IN LIKE TWO SECONDS WHILE I WATCHED THE NEIGHBORS START A BONFIRE IN THEIR GRILL IS IT DEAD OH MY GOD!!!

KARMANN: blink

KELLEY: (to nobody) Uh . . . Oh god . . . Schmoopie! SCHMOOPIE! Um . . . Not equipped . . . I AM NOT EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH THIS HELP? Great. Two murderers in the family. I cannot . . . SCHMOOPIE?!? (to dogs) do you need to–can you just pee? I have to . . . Do . . . Something.

dogs pee, KELLEY returns them to the house where SCHMOOPIE is busy preparing spaghetti

KELLEY: (letting Karmann through baby gate into kitchen) She has blood on her paws. BLOOD ON HER PAWS!!!


KELLEY: there’s a bird–it’s belly up and breathing heavily, I think–I think it may have been pre-maimed! It’s just lying there and I don’t want to look. I don’t know what I’ll find but I have to go back out and what am I supposed to do with the bird?!?? What if it’s half dead?

SCHMOOPIE: just watch the pasta–where is it?

KELLEY: I have to come with you! You won’t find it! I don’t want to see! I’m coming with you!

SCHMOOPIE: watch. the. pasta.

Two minutes elapse. KELLEY paces and stares at pasta. She goes out onto the balcony to see what is happening, and discovers SCHMOOPIE exiting the basement wearing work gloves.

KELLEY: Oh no. Did you find it? Is it dead?

SCHMOOPIE: No. Just stunned. Leans over, picks up bird.

KELLEY: Aw. What kind of bird is it?

SCHMOOPIE: Chick-mumblemumble

KELLEY: A chicken?!

SCHMOOPIE: A chicken. A TINY CHICKEN WHERE WOULD A TINY CHICKEN COME FROM? I don’t know, it’s, like, a chickadee.

KELLEY: Oh they’re very cute. I like them–little fat birdies. (shouts to bird) I’m so sorry! I didn’t raise her to maim birds! (shouts to SCHMOOPIE) We have to keep him safe! Put him in the tomato planter! Or a box! Do you need a box?

SCHMOOPIE strides over toward small, shrubby tree

KELLEY: Yes! Put him in the brush! Is he looking around? Maybe he’ll sit on a branch!

SCHMOOPIE places bird in small tree. Bird immediately flips upside down while clinging to branch.

KELLEY: Is that bird upside down?

SCHMOOPIE: He’s hanging on.


SCHMOOPIE: Well, he’s hanging on! I don’t know what you want me to do!

KELLEY: Flip him right side up! He can’t hang upside down!

SCHMOOPIE: He’s hanging onto the branch! How should I detach him??

Bird falls from branch, Plinko-style, bounces off lower branches enroute to the ground. A small kerfuffle is seen at ground level


SCHMOOPIE: (leans in for close look) I think–




SCHMOOPIE: YES! He’s right side up! He’s on a branch. All of his bits are working HE IS FINE! Will you go deal with the pasta!

KELLEY: (under breath, to nobody) Bird is having a worse fucking day than me, anyway . . .

KELLEY proceeds into kitchen, directly to wine. She is joined by SCHMOOPIE after he makes his way up from the basement. They drink.


The Lunatic is On the Grass



So it’s Autumn. Karmann is pleased.

Because this is how Karmann feels about the coming of cooler weather:


She can dance if she wants to; she can leave her friends behind

She hates the hot heaty-ness of the summer, and is generally unimpressed with polar vortexcalypses. Cooler weather means frolicking, and walking FOR DAYS, and she’s heard a persistent rumor that her mum and dad are going to take her CAMPING. In the WOODS. Where OTHER CRITTERS live. ZOMG.

She’s feeling very all-caps, lately.

“ALL CAPS COLD WEATHER YAY!” -Karmann. All the time.

Because of her predisposition towards the cool air crazies, I didn’t initially think much of her, shall we call it, newfound zest for life. But then her zest turned into lunacy and I started to wonder if maybe she wasn’t taking things a bit far. But, you know, we had a pretty hot/humid summer.

By the time lunacy devolved into googling “can dogs actually have bipolar disorder?” I figured it was time for a call to the vet. Because doing a crazy circular dance while ass-herding Calvin into the corner is all fun and games, but frantically licking the floor and chugging water and peeing twelve times an hour in two hour bursts of insanity is, well, troubling. To say the very least.

I am under vet orders not to freak out (yet) and the first move is to take them some pee, to rule out–or, really, to hopefully confirm–UTI. A UTI would be FABULOUS. I feel very all-caps about a UTI.


Because a UTI is treatable and relatively easy and does not involve the contemplation that Karmann’s Addison’s was perhaps only very briefly well-managed and we must now go back down the rabbit hole to find better dosages/medications/schedules/etc. We should know tomorrow. In the meantime, I will spend a little over 24 hours freaking out, staring at my puppy, and possibly bursting into tears if she does anything even remotely weird.


When I am not ugly crying over my girl’s epic weirdness, I will be silently weeping in the bathroom, so as not to get caught, because . . .


I feel very all-caps about that, too, apparently.

Ok, well, it’s not actually time to run for critters. It’s time to register to run for critters. Which means it’s time to go to a website, register to run the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon for the Animal Rescue League, and commit to run the full 26.2 miles ON MY 35th BIRTHDAY.

I lost two toenails running the half this year, and their replacements still aren’t quite normal. I fear for both my life, and any future pedicures.

The half was fun. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately came home and registered for two other races for which I utterly failed to prepare (Great Race, I’m looking at you.) Yay commitment! But I promised myself, and I wrote on the wrap-up blog that in 2015, since the race was on my birthday, I would do the full.

And so I shall.

Or, at least, I will do as much of the full as possible before I inevitably perish on the course and make my mother very sad.

So let this serve as a reminder warning that solicitations will be forthcoming! Change your email now if you do not wish to be heckled to hand over your hard earned cash in the interest of helping critters in need. I probably won’t send out the donation beg until sometime in the bleak midwinter (improves sympathy donations) so you have some time to switch over all your contacts and stuff.

Until then, may my tendons be strong and my puppy’s bladder be treat-ably infected.

*Swear Words*

I love the smell of leather.

My couch is leather. Nice leather. I love the smell of naps on my couch. Mmmmmmm leather.

I do not love the smell of leather when a kitten has pooped on it and ground the poop into the leather where it has festered for a weekend while humans are out of town on blissful anniversary trip to Cooperstown.

I do not like coming home after said wonderful weekend only to snuggle back into the couch and get disconcerting whiffs of cat poop from the snuggly nest I have just made.

I do not like throwing back the fleece blanket folded on the couch to discover a kitten has used it to bury aforementioned poop upon discovering that they could not make the poop disappear by mashing it into the leather sofa.

I do not like the smell of wet, kitten poop-scented leather once cleaning attempts become desperate and possibly damaging.

I do not have pictures to accompany this post, for which you are welcome.