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.

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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.)

 

Things I Dislike

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1) Sad puppies. I dislike when puppies are sad, rather; I still like the puppies themselves. And really, I dislike when any critter is sad, species notwithstanding.

2) Fleas. This is self explanatory.

3) Ticks. Also self-explanatory.

4) Toxic chemicals. Although I feel this one should be self explanatory, it’s a bit more nuanced, isn’t it? Because (4a) I REALLY dislike bugs, and I therefore love my Epically Concentrated, do-not-apply-to-synthetic-fabrics-or-face-skin-because-both-will-melt-off DEET Max when I have to be out in the nature. So one thing I dislike trumps another thing, and not necessarily in the most logical, or even reasonable, way.

4) Being a generally paranoid person as regards the health of my critters. This is where my other dislikes come home to roost.

I dislike fleas. Fleas make critters sad. Sad critters are sad and I also dislike that. Fleas are killed by toxic chemicals which I generally dislike UNLESS they somehow improve my life. But the toxic chemicals in topical flea and tick prevention also make critters sad and also, possibly, negatively affect their health.

But do toxic chemicals make critters sadder than fleas make them? And are the potential health ramifications of the toxic chemicals mitigated by the very real threats presented by fleas and, especially, ticks? For me, all things being equal, the toxic chemicals are preferable to flea infestation, which we’ve had and which I hope never to have again because have you ever tried to flea dip a cat?

Not pretty. It’s all blood and grudge holding.

Flea infestations–really the least damaging possible outcome of untreated dogs–make all living things miserable. Seriously. And they require additional, atomized toxic chemicals to be rid of them before minds are lost. So aren’t topical flea products better than evacuating all living creatures for 48 hours? Usually.

Unless you happen to be me, a generally paranoid about the health of my critters person, awake at midnight and obsessively watching Karmann who, upon being administered her (very much undesired) monthly dose of topical flea and tick preventative, began to breathe funny. Not quite panting, really, but quicker than normal respiration. Extra quicker than normal respiration considering she should currently be sleeping peacefully and thus respiring even more slowly than normal.

Midnight on doggie breath watch is exactly where all my aforementioned dislikes become riotously conflicting and misery-inducing. For all living things.

Kind of like fleas.

Stoned, Immaculate

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chilling better through chemistry

I’m having one of those synergistic moments where I keep bumping into the same topic everywhere around the intertubez–even on blogs and pages that aren’t immediately related to the topic. That topic being the use of medication, specifically for dogs, specifically for anxiety, specifically-specifically about how they should be an absolute last resort after years of training has proven ineffective. As the steward of Calvin, the medicated Beagle-ish seen above relaxing through thanks to the wonders of Trazodone, I have feels about this. And with the disclaimer that I am not a veterinary or behavioral professional (although I am besties with a vet tech and I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express a time or two, just saying) my feels are as follows: 

If you have allergies, you take an antihistamine. Yes? 

Or if you have acid reflux, an ulcer, or the like, you take a Proton Pump Inhibitor or an H2 suppressor. Right?

And if you’re one of the 20% of Americans (as of 2010) reportedly taking medication for an anxiety or behavioral disorder, you take your meds and probably expect Judgy McJudgerson’s to shut their fat faces about the fact that you take medication for a medical condition. Correct?

But you expect your dog to manage a medical condition without medication because somebody told you it wasn’t a medical condition so much as the fact that your sweet little puppy is actually a brutal dictator who keeps a copy of Mein Kampf stashed beneath his pup-r-pedic bed and if you just showed him who’s boss and took him for longer walks he would be normal. In other words, you have a chronically stressed out dog? It’s your fault and you’re doing it wrong and your dog is LAUGHING AT YOU every time you turn your back, and he’s calling all his puppy friends and telling them what a sucker you are because he totally rules this roost, he says, as he kicks back on your couch and puts his feet up on the coffee table. 

No seriously. I had a trainer once tell me that that was basically what Karmann was doing when she barked at squirrels. Kicking her feet up. Owning me. That’s another story, though. 

Ok, so look. The above makes a few assumptions, chief among them being that you have a chronically anxious dog and you’ve worked with him and you meet his physical needs and he’s been to the vet and you’re at the point where everyone is sort of scratching their heads and making up back stories for why your dog is so awfully awful and averse to learning and normalcy. It assumes you’re at the point where maybe a vet that you trust has thrown down the M word for your consideration and you’re like, “Yeaaaaahhhhhhh ummmmm . . . anti-depressants are an absolute last resort for my dog, because he’s a dog and, like, I mean, HE’S A DOG and that seems weird and, like, my family is going to laugh at me and buy me a Cesar Milan book if I tell them the dog is taking an anti-depressant.”

And if you’re at that point, can I just say, no shame. Seriously. I have been there, and a teensy little part of me still fights going back there. It is counter-fucking-intuitive in our culture–that condemns human beings for taking human medication to help with anxiety and other mental health problems–to accept that not even your dog can pull himself up by his bootstraps.

But here’s the thing. Stuffy nose? Decongestant. Infection? Antibiotic.

Anxiety disorder? Anxiety medication. 

Some people can’t deal on their own–they need help to get them to a place where they can learn and adopt better approaches to various situations. Why is it so hard for us to extrapolate that such a condition can occur for some dogs? And further, that when such a condition occurs in a dog, why is then so difficult to make the leap and medicate for it? Karmann has Addison’s Disease, I don’t refuse to give her prednisone and cross my fingers that more rigorous training and better exercise will somehow force her adrenals to do their job, so why would I apply the same logic to Cal’s anxiety issue and wait tentatively for his brain chemistry to correct itself just because we walked three miles today, instead of two?

The most common undercurrent that my spidey-sense picks up in all these medication-as-last-resort discussions is not the long-term effects of medicating a dog (and hey, that’s legit no matter the species), it’s the weird insinuation that medicating a chronically anxious dog would somehow be cheating. To which I have only one response, ever, and that is: you know that’s not how it works at all, right? 

I didn’t just chuck a Prozac down Cal’s throat and *WHAM!* instanormal. 

I don’t give him a Trazodone before a particularly stressful event and then proceed to bring the pain. 

Administering behavioral meds will never allow you to abdicate your exercise/training/need-meeting responsibilities to your dog. Giving her a valium doesn’t instantly turn her into a bored housewife who eats two martinis for lunch, and it won’t make the Rolling Stones write a song about her, either. 

It allows them to learn. 

That is all. The right med or cocktail of meds doesn’t turn your dog into slug, or suck their energetic joy. It allows them to learn new behaviors where they would otherwise whip themselves into such a frenzy of fear and anxiety that they would be incapable of learning those coping behaviors. 

Yesterday I took Cal to the vet. I gave him a full dose of Trazodone before we went, knowing that the vet is a horrifying place for him. Just about a year ago I did the same thing–took Cal to the vet–without the Trazodone. 

Last year, he couldn’t be examined without a muzzle. He barked, and freaked out, and was, as he has always been since his arrival, seriously under weight. 

This year, he’s gained 7lbs and is finally at a healthy weight, and although he was clearly nervous, he remembered to look to me for help navigating the situation. No muzzle was needed, and he willingly approached both the vet and the tech, before AND after the exam, and took cookies from them. 

Six months ago, a full dose of Trazodone would have bought us enough time to remove ourselves from a situation he couldn’t handle. Yesterday, Cal powered through a 1/2 hour vet appointment. The amount of meds didn’t change; the meds cannot in any way be held singularly responsible for the difference between six months ago and yesterday. What made the difference is their ongoing deployment in a (positive, non-putative) training routine to help him learn how to deal with stressors. The meds helped him learn. 

They helped him learn. 

They helped him learn.

For me, overcoming the, “What do you mean, my dog needs Prozac?” issue was a struggle since I, myself, don’t like taking meds for anything. I would prefer–and wouldn’t we all?–to have a perfectly healthy dog who doesn’t need any sort of pharmacological intervention. But I don’t have that. I have a dog who needed more help than any sort of training, alone, could provide, and I had to decide between giving him that help, or doing nothing and hoping that his truly awful interaction with the world around him would just magically disappear and, more importantly, not cause him continued pain and stress. In my mind, failure was not admitting that he needed that extra help. Failure would have been to refuse that help and continue allowing him to lead an uncomfortable, perhaps even psychologically harmful, life. When you look at it like that, the choice shouldn’t be a difficult one. 

Your dogs comfort and safety shouldn’t be an inverse moral judgement on your choices as a dog steward. And if somebody tries to make it that, tell them to fuck off to the shrink and get their own prescription, because they’re clearly a miserable soul. 

I hear Trazodone works wonders. 

 

 

Me and Karmann and Calvin and the Asshats

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Leave Calvin ALOOOOOOOOONE!

Let’s talk about second amendment rights. Lord knows enough people can’t shut up about them, and now I have decided that I want them. Specifically, I propose amendment 2b.

Amendment 2b affords me, a single, unincorporated person (disregard all that “well-regulated militia” crap since everybody seems to ignore it anyway) with dogs, the unalienable right to–if not outright shoot–at least threaten people with an angry-looking piece of weaponry any time they attempt to approach, converse with, or otherwise capture my attention while my poor little Beagleish is losing his shit.

I dropped something?
Don’t care.

My other dog is very adorable?
I am aware. Shut up.

My (ALSO ADORABLE, PEOPLE!) small hound is hilarious when he’s angry?
I’d flip you off but my hands are full, so please accept this withering look of disdain instead.

Can you pet my dogs?
Are you fucking stupid?

Upon my arrival home this afternoon–covered in bug bites and spider webs, and desperate for my own pee break–I took the dogs out to the back yard, intending them to have a quick pee so that I could hurry up and light myself on fire in an attempt to remove ALL OF THE NATURE from my person.

Cal would not pee.

Cal did not want a pee break; Cal wanted another walk.

I tried refusing, and stomping my feet, and reasoning with him. None of this worked. So, I walked him down the block where he was able to pee on a tree. HOSANNAH.

We then turned around to head back up the street, only to discover a family of three–blonde and smiling and tan and utterly loatheable in their presence, was rapidly approaching between us and the house.

[stay tuned for future blog post in which we take up my immediate and irrational dislike of people occupying the public thoroughfare when doing so complicates my life]

I just wanted Cal to pee. I was not interested in a teachable moment–I had been in such a rush to wash the ticks out of my hair that I hadn’t thought to grab treats. My lack of preparedness just made me hate the blonde happy perky people even more DAMN THEM ALL.

So we turned right.

AND THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WITH A CANE I CURSE YOU YOU INFERNAL UNIVERSE OF SUCK AND DOOM.

Old ladies with canes? Ambulating families for Buddha’s sake??

Well. There goes the neighborhood.

Cal was interested in the old lady. He was looking at her and seemed unsure but in possession of himself. So in lieu of delicious liver treats, which I did not have because blonde people suck, he got copious amounts of scritches and praise. And while I scritched and praised, the stupid infernal family decided to make the same right–probably going to the park because that’s what awful people do.

And the movement was enough to send relaxed but unsure Cal right on over the edge.

So he barked.

So the kid ran toward us, while screaming “DOGS!” because he’s a future Darwin Award winner. Even as we ran behind the bushes to manufacture some sort of visual barrier, the child screamed. And charged. And screamed some more while his parents, Chip and Buffy from the club, smiled huge white straight-toothed smiles.

And as we cut through the apartment lawn, behind the bushes, some joker came out of the building, presumably to yell at me for cutting through, shouting “Miss! Hey! Miss!”

Because what I really need right now is a conversation. About, like, anything.

We ignored everyone and made it back to the sanctity of our driveway where I’m pretty sure I am allowed to throw baggies of dog poop at infiltrators trying to talk to me. Cal, for his part, is to be commended for the quickness with which he calmed down once the terrible hellspawn was safely behind us. And I settled for a vigorous scrubbing rather than self immolation because were I to exit in such fashion I’d not be around to witness–and benefit from–the passage of my very excellent Amendment 2b.

Though, I will accept a very large stick, or also, possibly, a set of brass knuckles in the event the cranky old men of the Supreme Court determine that a walking, unincorporated uterus cannot wield a gun.

Consider this my Christmas list.

Bed-lam.

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Karmann recreates the floating door scene from Titanic

Calvin has been living better through chemistry since his vet added as-needed Trazodone to his regimen of daily Prozac to help his separation anxiety. But while it seems to make his time alone far more sufferable, he still gets nervous when he knows he’s about to be left alone. And so it came to pass last month, as I prepared to leave on errands, that he scaredy-peed all over the grossest of the living room bolster beds. The bed that had been with Karmann almost as long as Karmann has been with me, and which had been washed so many times in its first four years of life that the cover had become mangled and shrunken to such an extent that it had been un-removable (and therefore un-washable) for the last three years of its service.

Truly icky. It was summarily tossed, and not without a bit of rejoicing.

Since The Peeing we have been dutifully carrying one of the bedroom beds downstairs every morning and back up every evening whilst I sought an ideal, long term living room bed solution. My criteria: 1) attractive, 2) easily de-furred between washings, 3) entirely washable cover and pillow, 4) bolster-free (see also, criteria #2), and of course 5) cozy for pups.

When, last week, we forgot to bring down a bedroom bed and entered the living room to find Cal snuggled into the remaining living room bed, with Karmann on the floor, plastered against it, we knew we had to act. And I was developing neck strain from carrying a giant pillow up and down the stairs while also herding dogs and cats.

I checked Orvis and found a very excellent bed that met all of my criteria PLUS my favorite, nondelineated 6th criteria: SALE! We ordered two.

And so we have come to the point of this meandering post. Orvis. I direct your attention to the picture above. In that picture you will find my 53lb dog DESPERATELY CLINGING to your large (accommodates dogs up to 70lbs!) bed, turning herself into Superpuppeh in an attempt to stop her ass end from sliding off the back of what is–let’s be honest–a very nice, high quality, king size human bed pillow.

That cotton square accommodates dogs up to 70lbs??? What? Did you only test it out with morbidly obese English Bulldogs? Or perhaps morbidly obese Lawng Legged Baygles? Because Calvin, the 32lb wonder fits into it perfectly–and really, it’s about 32lbs of Karmann that fit comfortably. The rest hangs over, dangles off, and otherwise clings in quiet desperation. I mean, look at my poor girl’s face! Resigned, confused, trying really really hard to like it but falling short and, pretty clearly, feeling very bad about her failure to be excited about the newest bed hotness, all while Calvin (out of frame and looking somewhat aghast)–substantially less than 70lbs-worth of Calvin–is curled up comfortably, with the excess bedding smooshed out to the sides so that he can rest his little chin.

Calvin: Relaxed. Supported. Happy of chin.
Karmann: *I won’t let go, Jack! I won’t let go!!!*

Orvis made my puppy sad. 😦

It also made my Schmoopie somewhat nuts. Because there ensued a surreal 10 minutes or so of back-and-forth in which I pointed and laughed while he kept exclaiming, “It fits up to 70lb dogs!”

ME: That is pathetic.
SCHMOOP: It fits up to 70lb dogs!
ME: She is falling off.
SCHMOOP: It fits up to 70lb dogs!
ME: She’s literally–like, in the real, dictionary definition of literal, literally, and not in the ironic amplification sense–hanging on for dear life.
SCHMOOP: It fits up to 70lb dogs!
ME: It’s the size of a pillow. She is longer than the bed.
(Karmann readjusts so that she is lying diagonally across the bed, clinging to a corner)
SCHMOOP: That is the picture of comfort!
ME: That is the picture of sadness and disappointment.
SCHMOOP: Well . . . it’s supposed to fit up to 70lb dogs . . .

I may have taken some creative license there, but you get the point.

So the beds are boxed for return because looking at the sight on the daily will hurtle me into a deep depression faster than my incurable unemployability. And yes that’s beds, plural, because about the only thing Karmann shares readily is her bedding, and the pups have worked out some sort of amenable, complicated exchange system, such that returning just one bed for a larger size would ensure that Karmann was still forced into undersized bedding about 50% of the time when Cal takes over her plus-sized pillow.

I just assume that the giant, more expensive beds will no longer be on sale. Dammit.

Small Victories

There are two things in particular that I love about dogs:

1) Every day is a bright and shiny new awesomeness. No matter what may have happened yesterday, a new morning is always happy and exciting. They do not understand ennui, and leave the kittens and I to suffer our existential angst without them.

2) They have–and thus force me to have–a very narrow definition of victory. For Karmann, victory is finally enticing Calvin to play for 15 seconds; for Calvin, victory is a walk in which he does not see another living thing. For both, victory is securing the green bed, because the green bed is the hotness.

Right now, for example, I am mightily victorious. I am celebratory and wild with achievement because it has been four hours since Calvin has had a bout of explosive liquipoo and that is twice as long as the interval that preceded it. Prepare the champagne!

I was awakened at 11:30 last night by an unsettling THRRRRRRRPPP-burble noise, immediately followed by a foul, paint-peeling fog of sulfurous horror. I didn’t immediately link the noise to the stench but it didn’t take me long, either, and it is a uniquely awful thing to lie in bed, warm and half asleep, and contemplate the propulsion of shit that will await you when you flick on the light.

But I put on my big girl pants and confronted it.

And I gagged–quietly! So as not to wake Schmoopie, who apparently turns his nose off when he goes to bed.

And then I laughed–quietly!–because despite the fact that I am the go-to human for late night potty emergencies, Calvin persists in his awestruck worship of Schmoop. This apparently led Cal to his side of the bed in search of assistance. But if the sound of poo being forcefully ejected from a dog, and it’s accompanying reek, cannot wake the Schmoop, then Cal’s notification system–stoicly standing and staring until you figure out he’s in distress, stood no chance. So the poop touched down about three feet from the slumbering Schmoopie.

The following ensued:

More gagging
A trip downstairs for cleaning supplies
The rustle of poop bags and garbage bags and paper towels as I picked up, wiped up, sprayed down, wiped again, and sanitized
Much spraying of various cleaning chemicals–wood floor cleaner, Lysol
Another trip downstairs for Febreeze
Copious Febreezing of wood floor
Decreasing concern about waking Schmoop because Christ on a cracker how is sleeping through this?!??
Another trip downstairs for Febreeze Air Effects
Loud sighing
Copious Febreezing of the air
Another trip downstairs to hermetically dispose of the waste (by putting it on the back balcony where it is freezing and could be forgotten about for an as yet to be determined period of time)
The sink-side equivalent of a Silkwood shower for me

By the time I returned to bed, the entire cleanup had lasted about 20 minutes and made the bedroom smell like a lemony-Pet Freshy-clean lineny sewer main.

And yet there Schmoop lay, blissfully unaware of the decontamination procedures that had taken place a mere meter from his head–where both his ears and nose are located–softly snoring and peaceful.

HOW DO YOU SLEEP THROUGH A POOSPLOSION AND THE SUFFOCATING APPLICATION OF SANITIZING AND DESTINKING SPRAYS??? My nose hairs were melting and running down my face and he looked like something off a box of Sleepytime tea.

And thus passed the remainder of our evening–with Schmoop sleeping, and me not sleeping even one little teeny minute on account I had to take Cal out every 45-90 minutes, all night, without fail, until 6am when we finally made it two hours. And now here we are approaching five hours and I’m very sincerely considering a small party or, barring that, a really epic nap because I am far, far too old to be pulling all-nighters.

Cal is mostly fine. At no point has he acted sick; I believe this is the part where I realize that his little gut can’t quite take multiple all-beef meals in a row. Poor Pookie.

Compassion

I have always been attracted to Buddhism. I think its doctrine of compassion and non-violence and the acknowledgement of suffering is beautiful and amazing and so . . . Ideal.

But it’s stories like THIS that remind me I would be a shit Buddhist.

I can look at the piece of shit that stabbed Rocco, the Pittsburgh Police K-9 officer, and, logically, rationally, I can think, “that is a person whose life has most likely not been easy, has probably lacked a substantial amount of the privilege I’ve had, and who is operating within the context of his own experiences and limitations, none of which I can grasp.” And so I understand, on a very rational level, that I should feel compassion for him, and that doing so by no means requires me to excuse his actions. After all, everyone makes mistakes–the size and scope of which are often dictated by our personal context. Thus, some mistakes are considerably larger and more life altering than others. It isn’t my business to decide who is worthy of redemption or forgiveness. It isn’t my business to decide who is worthy of compassion; I recognize that we all should be worthy.

But here’s the thing: I don’t care. Hell, I don’t even want to care. Toss him in a cage, feed him or don’t, kill him or don’t. I do not give one teeny tiny fraction of a shit about his suffering or his disposition henceforth, save that–quite contrary to my reason–I’d actually prefer that he suffer in some fashion, for a very, very long time.

I feel this way about every person who intentionally harms or abuses an animal. Where animals are concerned, I am an anti-Buddhist: kill them all. Make them all suffer. Whatever. Just bring the pain. Critter abuse speaks to the basest parts of my consciousness. Visit upon them exactly the hurt that they inflicted.

It’s all a bit cognitively dissonant for me, considering I’m against capital punishment. But I suspend that aversion where animals are concerned. How? What justifications could I possibly provide for asserting that a human who kills another human should not be killed, but a human that harms an animal should not only be killed, but they should be sent to Guantanamo, first?

I don’t have an answer to that. I have never had an answer to that, despite considerable soul searching for one. I recognize that my feelings on animal cruelty will never, ever reconcile with my rational mind and . . . I don’t care. I feel the way I feel about it, and I will admit that I probably shouldn’t feel that way, but I do and it’s so strong I recognize that, even if I wanted to, it would be very near impossible for me to change those feelings, to elevate them. And I just don’t want to. Not enough. I am, for better or worse, entirely comfortable with directing unholy hate rays at people who harm critters.

There’s a whole other discussion woven into this one, about the value of life and whether or not I value critters over humans, but that’s another philosophical waxing for another day. I think my ranking system, as it were, is a bit more nuanced. But I will not hide or apologize for the–some might say–extremity of my views. I feel this way. And I’m ok with it.

Run free, Rocco.

Now fry the asshat who killed him.

A Quick Bitch

I have a whole host of reasons for hating Duck Dynasty, but at the top of my list, at least temporarily, is the new commercial with the fucking smoke detector noise. Every. single. time. it comes on Calvin pops up to investigate and Wobbly Karmann then feels compelled to follow suit. It’s like watching an addled baby giraffe try to do the samba every 6-8 minutes.

Can we pass a law that makes smoke detectors and doorbells illegal for television? Do TV writers just not have pets?

Comfortably Numb

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Karmann, summing up all our feels about this eye situation

Anesthesia stories.

1) When I was 14 I went in for my one billionth set of (ear) drainage tubes. Being that I was 14 I was, of course, *super* cool and, after receiving whatever magical feel good elixir they put in the IV pre-op, I led the surgical team in a truly awful rendition of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb (because HAR!) as they wheeled me to the OR.

That is my primary association with general anesthesia. Well, that and being about 5-ish and headed in for maybe my second set of tubes and being asked what flavor anesthesia I wanted and choosing bubblegum and then experiencing the end of my childhood as I inhaled the rubber-scented gas, thinking “those fuckers lied to me.” In more 5-ish year old vocabulary, albeit. Not that I’m still bitter or anything.

THERE ARE NO GODDAMN FLAVORS YOU INCREDIBLE ASSHATS!!! WHY ARE YOU EVEN IN PEDIATRICS IF YOU THINK KIDS ARE SO STUPID??!? UGH YOU’RE PROBABLY ALL RETIRED BY NOW BECAUSE IT WAS FOREVER AGO!

Ahem.

2) Getting the phone call that Karmann, who I’d dropped off in the morning for dental scaling with general, was ready for pick-up. This was basically my first solo experience with critter anesthesia–indeed my only anesthesia experience since being an ultra-cool 14 year old Floyd fan–so I insist I should be forgiven for enquiring as to whether she’d be up for the one mile walk back to my apartment. I was told to drive.

The critter that I picked up resembled my Karmann only tangentially. She was dopey, uncoordinated, sluggish, and clearly unhappy. And about an hour after we got home, the awful pooping started. Every half hour I had to run her outside for an emergency. Even though she quickly exhausted all intestinal contents, she continued to have cramps and dry heaves and every single half hour, all night, into the next morning, and well into the afternoon, we frantically ran outside so that she could do a futile poop dance and cry. And then I would bring her in and she would flop onto the floor and proceed to lie perfectly still for the next 29 minutes. I sincerely wondered if she was going to make it.

She apparently gets stress colitis, and we’ve gone through a variation on this routine each time she’s had to be sedated for a dental. Which is why, after the last one, I resolved to NEVER EVER DO ANESTHESIA AGAIN (save for emergencies–basically, no dental. Superficial cleaning only. And good maintenance.)

So when I took her to the vet this afternoon, I went from:

Oh my god my freaking puppy has freaking pink eye! WORST DAY EVER!!!

To:

*blink, blink, blink* *human stomach cramps*

When the vet said that no, not pink eye. Benign, pre-existing eyelid cyst is growing in toward her eyeball and irritating the crap out of it and it has to be surgically removed and hey, since she’ll be under, why don’t we also do a dental and make sure you’re totally broke and also covered in liquipoo–is Wednesday good for you?

So much pro-biotic and eye ointment and wine in my immediate future.

*hugs puppy*