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?

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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*

Morning Drinking

This morning, while enroute to the kitchen to secure coffee, I discovered the doors on the wine cabinet thrown wide open. Odd, but whatever. I closed them and went about my business.

Not one minute later, an awful racket arose in the dining room and I peeped in to discover . . . Mortimer. Pawing his way into the wine cabinet. Now, I will say here that we had a bit of a dog scuffle last night, which I may eventually document, if at any point I feel my adrenals can handle the re-telling. So I’m not judging. I could stand a drink myself. But I like to think I’m within my faculties enough to wait until 9. And then maybe a Bloody Mary–for appearances. I’m not making for the Pinot at 7am.

And of course, when I returned with my phone to document his ongoing efforts, Mortie sauntered off with his dignity and an apparent distaste for leaving visual evidence. The little shit.