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.

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.