Category Archives: Brittanys

Pretty Thoughts for the Season

Yesterday was a glorious fall day in the DC Metro Area. DH usually does morning walk duty with Sadie and Dub, but yesterday I bolted shamelessly from my side of the bed to volunteer. And by shameless, I mean that I muscled through the shame I felt to get what I wanted. On days when I don’t have to be anywhere, playing with the dogs out while DH makes breakfast for Pebbles and Bam Bam is a mouthwatering luxury, and DH knows it. Add an overpriced cup of coffee, and the minivan practically drives itself to the dog run.

Right. I drove them to the dog run. It undermines one of my primary excuses for getting the dogs (to encourage exercise) but supports the other – the play side.

Nothing marvelous or extraordinary occurred while we played. Dogs sniffed and were sniffed, Frisbees were caught. But my three-dollar coffee tasted SO good between chucks of Dub’s slobbery, muddy tennis ball into the glinting sunlight. And all while Sadie mosied about sharing the love, as she as wont to do whenever friendly strangers are in her midst. Sadie is the Blanche DuBois of dog run visitors.

"I've always depended on the kindess of, well, you know..."

With all the unmitigated quiet in my head, I had the presence to ask myself why I loved this moment so much. I didn’t used to love this moment. Not with giddy enthusiasm, anyway. When we lived in Manhattan with Samson, and DH was traveling for work, I could be positively grudging as I buttoned my coat up to my nose while waiting at the coffee cart with our first Brittany. I’d spill half the coffee down my sleeve and curse a blue streak while I trudged to the run at Riverside and 105th. Then I’d drink what was left while Samson poked his nose through the iron fence and pointed squirrels on the other side. Feeling guilty for having a hunting dog in the city, I’d let him out of the run (after checking carefully for park police) to chase local vermin, and then inevitably, he’d gallop away and I would spend the next 15 minutes running about in a tearful panic, hoping he didn’t make it all the way to 96th street and try to cross….   

That was the worry of my life in those days — Samson getting creamed by the cars turning off of West Side Highway onto Riverside Drive. I was getting my MFA, and one memorable morning, Samson’s self-guided hunting expodition made me nearly late for a seminar where I would get to meet Arthur Miller, up close and personal. I thought I was going to KILL him. (Samson, not Mr. Miller. I almost leapt across the table and kissed Mr. Miller on the lips, so brimming with life and creative potential was I on that fall day…)

As I picked up a steaming pile of poop before we headed home yesterday, I drew the somewhat reluctant conclusion that Sadie and Dub inspire nostalgia for more carefree days. Once I got them loaded into the back of the minivan, I edited that thought. They help me be more care-free today.

It’s pretty to think so, anyway.

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Filed under Brittanys, literature, writing

Do Not Push

So it read on the back of the dump truck in front of me in morning traffic: “Do Not Push.”  After 7 days alone with the kids and the dogs, it came as a divine intervention. 

I’m exhausted, and it ain’t over yet. 

First things first. Dub is fit as a fiddle, far as the vet can tell. He has the resting heart rate of a champion and the dog can catch a frisbee mid-flight with the grace of a gazelle, IF said gazelle could catch a frisbee and as far as I know, gazelles are not nearly that capable or entertaining.  

Dub in his natural state

Our fine vet, Dr. H., thinks the seizure was a fluke; he hasn’t had another. The blood work came back clean. And the vomiting was likely unrelated.  Or as I summarized for DH on the phone the night he called from Pune, “he’s a puker.”  

But I am growing rather attached to the puker.  He takes his cues from his humans, following us everywhere, resting when we rest, running when we run. Bam-Bam is learning this lesson the hard way – he knocked her down during an overzealous game of — and I quote — CHASE! ME! DOGS!  He has a cold black nose and looks so very interested, when he cocks his head just so, in what I have to say.  

He also barks his head off at anything that walks, rolls, or glides past our house, and we live on a very busy corner.  But I’m just moving into day eight of ten home alone, and the dump truck has spoken. I won’t think about that now. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

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summer hiatus?

You could call it a hiatus. Or you could call it being really fucking busy with two kids and two dogs during the hottest days of Summer 2010.

Sorry readers, for being MIA for a week.  I have a few bits of breaking news.  Or perhaps I should say, as we do in the biz, “lessons learned.” (The “biz” to which I refer is, unfortunately for my spirit and my soul, IT consulting. Information Technology consulting. Makes me want to light my hair on fire, but it does pay the bills.) 

Lesson Learned #1: Do NOT Leave Treats in Pocket of Running Shorts (see Figure 1)

Figure 1. My (former) best running shorts

I walked into my closet and surveyed the clothes in a heap on the floor, pulled on a pair of shorts thinking I would go for a run, and discovered them to be… wet? Odd, right? I mean, the sweat from 2 days ago would have dried by now… so I look down and… am immediately reminded of my grey fleece. Samson (The original Brittany, if you haven’t been following) ate both pockets of my grey fleece when he was about 2 years old, probably going after the cheddar cheese we used to train him. So having the reaction only a dog-lover could understand, I smiled and laughed and had my daughter take this picture. Silly dogs.

Never mind that this set me back at least one week of running — which I have to say, worked out in everyone’s favor. Kids went to the pool after work more frequently, and I wasn’t dragging one of the poor dogs down the Arlington bike path in 90+degree heat. (A week? A whole week? You don’t have any other shorts? Those of you asking these questions must not have children and may God bless you for taking time away from your quiet weeknight to try and understand, but I just don’t have the energy to explain it right now.)

Lesson learned, Sadie and Dub.  Lesson learned. 

I now have my eye on a new pair of lululemons.

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Filed under Brittanys, Dog Training, Humor

Selecting a Proper Leash for Your Dog: Or How to Avoid Clotheslining Bikers, Spare Rabbits’ Lives, and Avoid the Wrath of Mothers with Small Children

 

First Rule of Using a Retractable Leash: Don't

Retractable leashes. WTF? These things should be outlawed, or at the very least, sold under federal restriction only to owners of dogs that can be tucked into a Versace clutch. 

Retractable leashes are the way our brilliant, ever problem-solving species gets around leash laws. Fido pulls on his leash and it’s a pain in the ass! It ruins our walks and our rotator cuffs!  So we give him… more leash?? In most cases, certainly in any populous area, retractable leashes are a menace to society. We all know how they work; momentum equals mass times velocity.  Fido roams quasi-freely, while dragging his hopeless human along behind. Presumably the human can stop the line from extending by pushing the button, but if you have a real dog, a dog who likes to sniff and run and jump and kill small land mammals, by the time you hit that button (which doesn’t always work that well) the dog has so much momentum going that the whole kit and caboodle becomes an oncoming runaway train. 

Do you realize that bikers can’t even see that fishing-line thin cord as they come zooming down a path? I think it’s fair to say that any biker who nearly gets killed because (s)he gets tripped up in your stupid retractable leash has a right to go ape-shit, whenever and wherever it happens. And that goes double for mothers of children under the age of 4 who feel their offspring have in any way been wronged by your (no doubt harmless and loveable, but still) dog.

So dog-owning readers, repeat after me:

I will use nothing longer than a 6 foot, old-fashioned leash. I will take my dog to safe areas where he can run off-leash. And from this day further, I will not try to fool myself or my dog, into feeling he’s “off-leash” when “on-leash” because everyone gets confused, it simply doesn’t work, and I look like a moron.

What to do? PAY ATTENTION TO AND ENJOY THE WALK WITH YOUR DOG.

I’m only 5’3” and usually holding a kid with one hand, so I prefer a 4 foot leash. I also use a martingale collar, which allows me to correct Sadie and Dub for pulling (like a traditional choke collar) without hurting them. See more about the martingale here:

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Filed under Brittanys, Dog Training

four girls and two boys

Pebbles made an observation about three minutes after we closed the minivan doors and headed for home with two strange dogs, crated behind her seat. “Our family has four girls and two boys.” 

Everyone, meet Sadie (female, 2.5 yrs) and Dub (male, 4.5 years)! 

Introducing Sadie (left) and Dub

The hand off was smooth, if perhaps a little nerve-wracking.  We met the current owners, W&K, at a public park in Roanoke (which was lovely, by the way) and everyone was a little tense.  The dogs were hot and wild with all the attention.  Current owners were experiencing a mix of stress, sadness, and relief to meet us. (They didn’t want to give their gorgeous dogs away, but made the decision to do so because of a pending move to a condo in Boston.) DH and I were bickering, the way we do when we get stressed. Pebbles and Bam-Bam watched with wide eyes from a distance, inside the shade of the van. 

I think my email to W&K the next morning sums it up: 

We made it! Sadie and Dub were excellent travelers and, surprisingly, so were our children!  

We’ve been home for a few hours now, and have taken the dogs for a good walk and played in the yard. We’ll crate them for a few nights until they are more at ease.  They have been very sweet. And Dub is such a good boy!! We worked with him solo and were impressed. Sadie is a doll. And she was pretty good on leash; we even let our 5 year old walk her for about two blocks! Somewhat comical, but it worked out. 

Do feel free to contact us anytime, and I’m sure we’ll be in touch with questions. It was great to meet you and your family. Thank you again for driving halfway and, of course, for trusting us with the dogs. We promise to take great care of them. 

Day 1: So far, so good!

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Filed under Adopting Dogs, Brittanys

Roanoke or Bust

On Saturday morning DH and I packed the kids into the minivan, loaded it with snacks and DVDs and cameras and coffee, and headed south.

Not far now...

 Our prospective dogs’ current owners agreed to meet us halfway between Northern Virginia and Knoxville, their current home. Consider four hours of this from the back of the car: 

(In the car, they speak as one. Frankly, it doesn’t matter which one): Mama. Mama. Mamamamamamama? Mommy? I need a snack.

DH: Give your mother a minute. She’s…doing something on her computer.  Hey, do you have wireless on that?

Me: Yes. (I turn on the radio.)

Back: I wanna watch a show. Can we have a show? Dora? No, Diego. Can we have Dora?

Me: (typing) May we have Dora.  Please.  And yes you may, in a minute.

DH: Can you google where we are? I want to see what exit is next.”

Me: (still typing) We stay on 81 for like 300 miles. We don’t have to get off anytime soon. Who needs a snack?

Back: ME! Me! Meeeeeee!

DH: I like to know where we are, though. (turns off the radio)

Me: Hey, I was listening to that!

DH: I thought you were getting them a snack.

Back: Snacky! Snacky snacky snacky snack! Can we have chips? Can we have a show now?

DH: May we. Please. (To me:) What are you doing?

Me: Working on my blog.

DH: Can you please get them a snack?

Me:  I said I would. (I close the laptop and pull out some raisins and cashews.)

Back: But I wanted goldfish! I no yike cashews!

DH: What are we doing?

Me: (sigh) Injecting two strange dogs into the equation so that this moment, by comparison in retrospect, makes us nostalgic for simpler, saner times when we were really “in control?”

DH: Yup.

We know this feeling.  Or, at least, in keeping with the spirit of blogging truthiness, I certainly recognized it. Same feeling I had we got engaged (following the yin/yang vice soul-mate relationship model); when we bought puppy Samson and brought him to our DC condo without so much preparation as a pre-purchasing a leash; when we moved to NYC; when we moved back; when we drove home from the hospital with the screaming, colicky Pebbles; when we bought a broken down farmhouse in a historic district to renovate.

And I knew, with these dogs, what we could be getting into.

And DH did too, in this nauseating little life moment. I could see his satisfied, mid-west-modest grin out of the corner of my eye.

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Filed under Adopting Dogs, Brittanys, Kids

good that i only had 45 seconds

Yesterday evening around 6pm I had about 45 seconds to myself. I’d just gotten home from work, was sitting in the living room, and my daughters (let’s call them Pebbles, 5.5, and Bam-Bam, 3) were playing quietly in the kitchen with some frozen peas.

The dogs, the new dogs, now  just 48 hours away had been on my mind all day. I looked to the corner of the room where Samson’s bed used to be, and thought of how crazy but happy our home would soon be with two, healthy dogs in the house. This may be the best stupid idea I ever had! Or am I having a life crisis and don’t even realize it?  There’s still a coloring book page taped on the wall, near the floor, in Samson’s corner. Pebbles colored a bright red heart for Samson to look at during his last weeks, when he rarely moved from his bed.  “So he knows how much we love him,” she’d explained.

Samson, January 2010

How much indeed. Samson had been with DH and me since we got engaged, almost 10 years ago. In the first few moments after he died this spring, we looked at each other with wonder and sadness.  Samson had taught us to work better as a team, to exercise regularly, that it’s ok not to be in control all the time, and that you can induce vomiting with two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and a turkey baster. DH and I were losing the silent partner in our marraige.

And so in my 45 glorious seconds of “me time,” I marveled that it was happening again. Realizing that our sweet, pain-in-the-ass dog is not coming back.

Then Bam Bam ran in and grabbed my hand. “PEE PEE! I NEED TO PEE PEE!”

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Filed under Brittanys, Marriage