Wimp.

You will note two things in this photo: a (completely adorable) wimpy dog, and a dog bed that, despite being laundered just one week ago, is comprised mostly of dog fur and stink.

Karmann had a 6 month checkup today, and I was glad because her presumed arthritis has notably worsened in the interim months. She often picks up her right front leg, and her rear legs occasionally shake after a long walk, or going up steps.

Right off the bat, she was a complete weirdo: hiding behind my legs, plopping herself down into tiny, shy bean and refusing to get up, generally behaving like a dog at the vet and not at all like Karmann at the vet. Most dogs realize, “Vet. Crap.” Karmann thinks it’s an afternoon social hour thrown in her honor by those minions she seldom sees. Or, at least, she did. Until today. Even the vet was confused.

So I immediately began explaining her leg anomalies, assuming that chronic discomfort was to blame for her bizarro behavior, and a check revealed pretty severely restricted range of motion in both back legs. The vet assumed arthritis, but suggested getting films “to rule out any other bad stuff.” When I asked her what other bad stuff, she lowered her voice and said, “bad stuff that we don’t want to talk about if we don’t have to.”

Take ALL THE FILMS, doc. All of them.

Vet soon returned and immediately said there was no bad stuff. She wanted to show me the pictures, so she pulled them up on the screen and said, reaffirming my very great affinity for her, “The first thing we notice, is that she really, REALLY has to poop. *points to poop* That’s a lot of poop. I’d take two bags. Beyond that, we see some arthritis but not as much as I expected, given her discomfort and range of motion sooooooo . . .  she might be a wimp.”

That is her official diagnosis: midly arthritic wimp.

I immediately recalled the time she (also mildly) strained her ACL, as a bombastic 2 year old, and limp-ran as though her leg was partially detached. So there is precedent for this diagnosis, in hindsight.

The leg shaking could be a result of her discomfort, thought it is mostly likely some nerve/muscular degeneration as a result of her age. When I asked if it was the little old lady dog version of what happens to little old lady people, I was told yes, basically.

So we are getting back on the acupuncture train for the, er, palsy, as well as the arthritis. Medicating for the arthritis is tricky, given her Addison’s, as she can’t take NSAIDs. She’s been on a level 2 joint supplement, and we will increase to level 3, add Curcumin twice daily, and she has Tramadol for days that she seems particularly uncomfortable. Actually, we’re giving her Tramadol for a day or two, to see how she does, so that I can (hopefully) see a baseline of comfort that I’ll then aim for with supplements and acupuncture and, possibly, chiropractic.

In other news, I will be selling blood plasma to pay for my dog’s holistic therapies. I suppose it’s a good thing I’m not wimpy about needles.

So. Michael Vick.

There is no picture associated with this post because, try though I might, I could not get either of my dogs to stand still long enough for me to take a picture of their asshole. Also, I felt weird trying to take a picture of a dog’s asshole.

But speaking of dog anuses: Michael Vick is a Steeler!

I’ve dribbled out my opinions over the course of the past two weeks, but for posterity, I’m going to consolidate them all here, according to the argument they were formed to refute. If you’re looking for a well-reasoned think-piece on the nuances and subtleties of the human capacity for forgiveness, keep looking. This isn’t it.

Let’s begin with my favorite: “Why weren’t you complaining when Ben was accused of rape?!!???”

I mean, first of all, Random Internet Person, how do you know I wasn’t?

90% of people asking this are fans who justify their ongoing fandom with the fact that Vick didn’t hurt a human, he hurt dogs. And hurting dogs isn’t nearly as bad as hurting a human. The implication being that hurting a human–in this case, allegedly raping a woman–is really, super terrible. Which, of course, it is.

And yet, they are still fans. Of the team. With the alleged rapist. Nay, they are not only fans, they are Fans Who Have Taken Up the Mantle. They are carrying the “You’re in Steelers Country” banner proudly into an onslaught of people who think that attaching jumper cables to a dog and then throwing the dog into a pool is completely fucking reprehensible, effectively announcing that they are totally fine with both rape allegations and dog electrocution.

So, to you 90%, I ask in retort: Why are YOU still a fan? Have you absolutely no moral ground you aren’t willing to cede for a Sunday afternoon of watching men run into one another repeatedly? My god, what does this question say about you?

The remaining 10% of askers are very busy accusing the Vick haters of being racist. To those 10%, I say . . . actually, yeah, some of them probably are racist, because there are a lot of racist shits in the world who will latch onto anything to justify their complete horribleness. But I’m hazarding that most people opposed to Vick are really more like me, in that they are completely willing to scream swear words at people who admit to personally “dropping a dog” (as in: to hang said dog), regardless of race, color, or creed.

“They’re just dogs! Why isn’t anyone this worked up about [list of all the things they care about more than dogs]?

Here’s the thing. I care about shit. Other people care about other shit. If we would all just act more on behalf of the shit we each care about, I’m willing to bet that pretty much every major concern in the world would be addressed.

But then, the people asking this don’t actually give all that much of a shit about the thing(s) they would rather Vick detractors give a shit about. What they actually give a shit about is justifying their fandom, and pretty much the only way to justify cheering for a person who ripped out every single one of a dog’s teeth is to make the opposition look as bad as possible. And what’s the easiest way for a pedant to make someone look like a monster?

Accuse them of not caring about starving children.

Starving kids. That’s the thing I’ve seen tossed around most frequently as being more shit-worthy than dogs.

Here is a list of some things that suck: starving kids, pedophilia, starving grown-ups, sexual assault, domestic violence, misogyny, racism, bigotry, rainforest depletion, human trafficking, homophobia, human-driven extinction, climate change, cancer, terrorism, incurable disease, mental illness, homeless animals, homeless people, factory farming, war, vivisection, the refugee situation in Syria, underfunded schools, Nickelback, drought, Alzheimer’s, forgotten veterans, sexism, lack of clean drinking water, AIDS, blood diamonds, murder, black market arts trade, genocide, female genital mutilation, torture . . . etc.

Attempting to care equally about every single thing on that list–let alone every single thing in the world that sucks– is ENTIRELY FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE. We are humans, and we work with a limited set of resources, whether it be money, time, or mental stamina. It is impossible to give equal shits about all of the shit-worthy things in life. And so what we do–let me stress this: WHAT WE ALL DO–is we pick the things that resonate with us, often for reasons that defy logic, and, assuming we are good people, we do what we can for the things that we can.

If we’re assholes, we just sit around asking other people why they aren’t doing more.

“He served his time!”

No. He didn’t. He dealt down to a charge of Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture and served nary one day in jail for picking a dog up by its back legs and beating it on the ground until it was dead.

“You should forgive him.”

Setting aside the fact that I couldn’t forgive him, even if I wanted to (I don’t want to), because he did nothing to me, isn’t that missing the point of forgiveness? Can the terms of forgiveness be dictated by a third party? If I “forgive” someone because someone else tells me to, is that even forgiveness? Doesn’t forgiveness have to be freely given? You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I suppose I could forgive him for offending every single moral fiber of my being . . . but I choose not to. It offends me. He offends me. I choose not to forgive that offense to my sensibilities and, inasmuch as it sounds like the taunt of a second grader, it remains true that you can’t make me.

“It was 8 years ago. Get over it already.”

I am on my way over to your house with a well-seasoned fighting dog. I’m going to make it fight your puggle, despite the fact that your puggle will, most likely, have no idea what is even going on. I will find this funny, and I will laugh as my dog mauls your puggle.

Once your puggle has been mortally wounded and can no longer entertain me with his pain, I will have no use for him. I will need to get rid of him. I will do this by driving my car around back, next to your above ground pool with the Steelers floatie in it, whereupon I will connect jumper cables–to my car battery and to your nearly-dead puggle’s ears. I will throw your puggle into the pool and laugh as I watch his last salvo, scratching and biting at the pool wall as he is slowly electrocuted.

Then I will tell you I’m sorry, calmly collect my jumper cables, and drive away.

I expect, in eight years time, to receive an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner. If I do not receive said invitation, I’m going to be very upset. Because your puggle was just a dog and it’s been eight years, for christ’s sake, and I said I’m sorry. It’s not like I allegedly raped anyone, so get over it already. You should put this much effort into things that really matter.

Like starving children.

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.

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.

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?

Tis the Season!

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Swatting ornaments is tiring work

Time to get a tree from the outside, with outdoor (and possibly squirrel) smells still clinging to it, bring it into the house, make a loud production of getting it into a stand and moving the stand into place, festoon it with lights and dangling things–many of which are fragile, old, of extreme sentimental value, and/or glass–held in place by sharp, bite-sized pieces of pointy metal.

Time to drape the mantle in curiously-scented faux-pine garland of unknown substance, wrap it with lights and hang sparkly balls from it.

Time to suspend knit, human foot-shaped objects above the fireplace so that they can gently sway in the breeze created as you run past them to prevent a dog from eating one of the ornaments you naively handmade out of cinnamon and applesauce many years ago and which retain no discernible fragrance for human noses, but apparently still smell like snack time to canines.

Time for critterless friends and family to absently wonder why you’ve only hung ornaments on the top 2/3 of your tree before they are bowled over by Karmann on her way to employ her Tail of Doom as a tree clearing cudgel.

You know. Tis the season for the longest chapter in The House Critter’s Guide to Total Anarchy.

Tis the Holidays!

Since we celebrate secular Christmas, this season continues through the Ceremonial Attacking of Paper and All Things on December 25th, past the Symbolic Burial of the Kittens’ Numerous Indignities under mountains of wrapping paper, and right on through the Hoarding of All New Things by Karmann. Speaking of, she got an early start this year, having spent last evening lying on Calvin’s antler while she chewed happily on her own, much larger, antler. Calvin was too busy looking fearfully at the tree to much care.

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teetering precariously on the verge of another Anarchical Season, centering his strength through nap

These are hard times for critters. Sandwiched between the cheer and goodwill of festive, treat-dispensing humans, and the tiring work of putting up trees and lights and garlands are many, many naps. Why, the critters were so exhausted from watching Schmoopie and I wrestle with indoor nature, swear, thrash about on the floor in puddles of sap and needles, and dash from the house on an emergency trip to spend $80 on a new marriage-saving tree stand, that they have barely moved since Saturday. Poor dears.

The promise of new treats and toys to gobble, steal, and fight over looms large and oppressive over their innocent, slumbering heads.

***

Ed. Note: There have been no running for critters updates because there has been no running. Not for critters or otherwise. I tweaked (not to be confused with twerked) my knee while running the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and have been banned from running until I have an MRI this week or next. Hopefully I will have an update that consists of, “I am back to running and it still sucks! Yay!” by the end of the month. As of now, Running for Critters is still on, and will remain A Thing, though I may have to ratchet my goals back down to the half, depending on the outcome of the MRI.

No, Seriously, I Really Mean it This Time.

Teetering precariously on the edge of the step. Just like me. Except replace "step" with "sanity."

Tiger teetering precariously on the edge of the step. Just like me. Except replace “step” with “sanity.”

It’s been almost two months. My goodness. I actually feel slightly awkward about this because if you did get any kind of kick out of my blog then you know that two months could not possibly have elapsed without incident.

Nay.

The past two months have included the following (just to catch you up):

  • A Calvin/Karmann near escape on Halloween, which resulted in me unleashing a torrent of questionable language while trying to shove bouncing puppies back into the house as legions of six year olds and their horrified parents gawped. I gave them extra candy.
  • A Karmann poopstrike.
  • Suggestions that Karmann may be developing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
  • Denial.
  • Barking. A lot of barking.
  • Running for Critters hustle.
  • Extreme Nighttime Naughtiness.
  • PLAGUE OH MY GOD.
  • Knee injury.
  • Mort parachuting from the kitchen counter onto Karmann’s back, in the middle of a dog snit that started because Calvin had the gumption to smell a smell that should have been her smell ENTIRELY.
  • Nigel being pretty benign.

Continue reading

Doga = NOga

this is not the face of a canine yogi

this is not the face of a canine yogi

 

This afternoon, I took Karmann to a local fall-themed dog event. It included a session of “doga,” which is, of course, dog yoga. It’s the reason we went. In addition to whatever the hell a dog yoga class could be, it promised dog massage, which I thought would be helpful for Karmann’s arthritis.

Allow me, then, to explain it for you.

Doga = gathering 20-30 mostly-oblivious dog stewards into a room, and then making them do things that further direct their attention away from their dogs, in the name of presence and dog-bonding. There is barking.

In other words, doga is a horrible idea.

Since I had no idea what to expect, I wore, well, yoga pants. I realized that it was DOGa, however I also felt reasonably assured that I was not going to look at Karmann, be all, “Yo, puppy, Trikonasana.” and watch in amazement as she executed a perfect Triangle Pose. Whatever the hell doga would be, I figured, would require some flexibility and dog manipulation on my part, and I therefore did not wear low-rise superskinnies with my knee high motorcycle boots.

Lesson 1: not everybody is logical.

I walked into a room including around five pup-moms in skinny jeans and boots, one of whom immediately said, because I am invisible and/or presumed deaf, “It’s dog yoga, I didn’t think *I* would be doing yoga. What’s with the people in yoga pants?” To which another superskinny warrior responded, “People wear those things EVERYWHERE. To work, even.”

Lesson 2: I am absolutely right in my assumption that all people are asshats until they prove otherwise. Yoga notwithstanding.

Prior to doga, I spent an hour and a half walking Karmie around, trying to blow off some steam and prepare her for the mindlfullness that would surely be required of a canine yogi. And it worked, more or less. Until all the other people started coming in with their dogs, barking and freaking the hell out and dressed like tacos and  batman princesses because there was a costume contest immediately preceding over at the tent area (which had six swag tents, two of which were booze samples–yay puppies!) In other words, it was pretty much like every other dog-specific novelty gathering that counts for the one time each year that people venture off their home turf with their dogs and without their brains.

Lesson 3: refer to lesson 2.

Finally, yoga starts and I am THRILLED because what, even, is doga?!?? We are told that we are going to learn to be mindful WITH our dogs, which seems weird, and proceed to do a basic breathing exercise while 25 or so dogs on leashes vibrate around the nuclei of our persons, trying to interact with someone, ANYONE. Human, dog, they don’t care, they do not know what is happening and all the people have their eyes closed, hyperventilating.

Lesson 4: Doga confuses actual dogs.

And then we start a circular walking meditation, for which some kindly people very thoughtfully put out water bowls. Which means that our aware, present, relaxing, centering circumambulation is punctuated by four dog pile ups, puppies lunging for water, and bowl-guarding snit fits. Breathe in to the count of four left foot strikes, hold it for two, breathe out for the PLEASE STOP LETTING YOUR DOG SNAP AT THAT AGING BEAGLE WHO WOULD JUST LIKE WATER.

Lesson 5: Doga is not relaxing. For anyone.

After the circumambulation-cum-water fights, we are told to pull out our treats to begin working on gaze with our dogs.

Treats?

I was not told to bring treats. In fact, I very specifically do not bring treats to group dog events because I don’t want to start a brawl by whipping out liver jerky in a room full of stressed, over-stimulated, poorly-minded strangedogs. We are treatless. Poor Karmann. This is really not working out for her at all.

The exercise we’re doing, however, is one that Karmie owns like the fuzzbutt little bawss she is: eye contact and following. She knows this as “watch,” so we rock it out sans treats, substituting pets and nose kisses for liver. After a couple minutes, she has come back to earth. Whew.

Which is when we are told to stand on our leashes, our feet hip width apart.

Ok. Um. Three problems:

1. When I take Karmann into densely populated urban areas, I use a 4 foot leash. That’s so I don’t have 3 feet of looping leash flopping against my leg while I leave a foot or so free to guide her through people/stupid kids/stupid parents/other dogs/old people.

2. “hip-width” is about two feet, give or take, and my dog is not a dachshund. Her neck is not at floor level when she is standing. So minus 2 feet to keep Karm comfey, I’m left with 2 feet of “ground leash” on which to spread my feet apart, which puts one foot in the loop, rather awkwardly. From the looks of it, several other pet parents were encountering a similar issue, because this instruction led to a lot of dogs with their heads pulled down to the floor while they fought to continue standing.

3. I am specifically uncomfortable in a room full of stressed, over-stimulated dogs whose heads are being forcibly pulled toward the ground while also not under any sort of manual control by their people. Because standing on your leash gives you pretty much none controls in that situation. One slip of your foot, or a dog that REALLY wants to meet his neighbor, like, NOW, and said dog is born free and flying out the door. Or into the face of someone else’s dog who does not wish to have a dog in their face.

I realize some may think I’m over-thinking this. Maybe I am. But taking care of Cal has made me much more sensitive to the stress levels of dogs, as well as the  bullshit people put their dogs through in the name of “fun.” This was not fun. I was not having fun, Karmann was not having fun, most of the other dogs in that room were not having fun, and all the not-fun we were having made it pretty clear to me that it was not worth the risk of something stupid happening. So I grabbed our bag and we split.

We had about a 3/4 mile walk to the car and, within maybe two minutes of leaving that room, Karmann relaxed, flopped her ears back, and happily sniffed her way back to the parking lot.

THAT was fun.

Lesson 7: My doggie is awesome (pre-existing knowledge.)

 

WHAT NO OH MY GOD STOP

Moon. Mark my words: if this shit doesn’t stop I will find a way to shoot your sorry ass RIGHT OUT OF ORBIT.

I spent the overwhelming majority of last night flipping the lamp on and off as I refereed two pacing, eternally nesting, bed-thieving dogs.

*pace pace pace*

*thunk*

*dig dig dig*

*staaaaaaaarrrre*

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

All this after taking them out a thousand times because they spent the early portion of the evening sitting and staring at me. Just staring. Boring little puppy eye-sized holes into my face.

So I would take them out and they’d be all, “nah, it’s wet out here. Inside.”

So we would come inside an they’d park their asses in front of me, like, “I do need to pee tho.”

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

*pace pace pace*

*chugs bottle of rescue remedy, chases it with bottle of bourbon*

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

It Begins.

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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.

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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*