Tag Archives: dog

A Dog on His Master, by Billy Collins (2010)

Tonight I watched a movie in which Billy Collins reads the poem below. Sadie lay splayed on the couch between me and DH and I cried with simple and complete appreciation.

 

A DOG ON HIS MASTER

As young as I look,

I am growing older faster than he,

seven to one

is the ratio they tend to say.

Whatever the number,

I will pass him one day

and take the lead

the way I do on our walks in the woods.

And if this ever manages

to cross his mind,

it would be the sweetest

shadow I have ever cast on snow or grass.

(from Ballistics: Poems, Random House, 2010)

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Sometimes Love Really Is a Bitch

I could chase my own tail with excitement!

It is sometimes lovely to be completely unaware what is happening in the world. There come distinct moments of delight and surprise that could not occur otherwise.  I’m sitting here by the fire, googling this cozy Friday evening away, and I discovered that NOT ONLY was an animated feature-film length version of Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip released in early September, but it will be playing at Landmark E Street Cinemas on 11/5.  

Best literary animal work of all time coming soon to my favorite movie theater?  With Lynn Redgrave, Christopher Plummer, and Isabella Rossellini? Did I mention the clever log line, Sometimes Love Really Is a Bitch? And that the E Street theater serves wine?

Oh, this calls for some serious pre-game indeed. Consider getting your own copy and following along….



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Filed under Adopting Dogs, Dog Training, literature

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

More Than a Feeling

This one’s going out to my well-intentioned mother, who I’m pretty sure still doesn’t quite get why we insist on having animals in our house.  

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Filed under Adopting Dogs, Humor

Dogs Are Good: A Riveting Update From Procrastinationville

So right. Nothing from me since August. And I have no excuses worth sharing — same old working-mother-back-to-school-gotta-go-pumpkin-picking bullshit.

A lovely lady I met at a baby shower sent me a note today asking for the link to my blog. I winced with great shame and considered not responding, because then I could feel even more sorry for myself and pine away with professional embarrassment… as any proper, no-good-quitter would.  Then I thought, hells no. I’m going to write a blog entry like a big girl who knows she should be writing — not in spite of her self-loathing and procrastinating ways, but because of them.

Sadie and Dub? The dogs are all good. Dub continues to poop in my house from time to time, which I find annoying but oddly forgivable. Poor guy. I think he’s actually so hyper and excited to play he forgets to poop when we take him out. Then he loses it around 4am. He does this usually on the mudroom tile. A lovely package to find on a chilly fall morning, while padding about in my UGG slippers.

Hey, it’s fall! I didn’t even write about our summer vacation yet!  Wait for it.. wait for it…

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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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Zone Defense: Days 1 and 2

Yesterday DH left for India for ten days.

An hour before he left, I held Pebbles on my lap while she received four immunizations, two in each thigh.  I will forever hear her screaming “don’t let them do it to me, Mama!”

Six hours before DH left, Dub had his first seizure. He just crouched like the Sphinx, unblinking, drooling, helpless on the office floor.

Twelve hours before DH left, I was on the phone with the on-call pediatrician begging him to call in a prescription for Bam-Bam, who has pink eye. In both eyes.

Twenty-four hours before DH left, I was certain I could handle everything just fine!

Now I’m waiting for the vet to call us back with the results of $300 worth of blood work. (Since the seizure he has played two extended games of fetch and gone for two walks.) I’m administering Bam-Bam the pink-eye medication in four doses daily for five days. Pebbles is proudly explaining to everyone she encounters that her body is now fighting off the diseases the ladies shot “into her bones.”  That is to say, everything seemed to be settling out, until I came home from work this evening and learned that Dub vomited and had diarrhea all over the house.

Under the piano.

Again in the corner.

In the mudroom, dripping down into the air vent.

In the family room.

All over his dog bed.

And our blessed nanny cleaned all of this up, only to vomit HERSELF mid-way through the cleaning job.

I hope the dog doesn’t die. I hope the nanny doesn’t quit. I hear New Delhi is lovely this time of year.

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First Check-This-Blogger Alert: My Puppy, My Self

I just discovered a blogger after my own heart and wanted to share with all 17 of you, my dear readers: My Puppy, My Self.

I somewhat question whether the blog title, “My Puppy, My Self,”  accurately reflects the content, catchy though it is.  The intentional separation of “my” and self” may lead a casual reader to believe that the author sees his puppy as one with his “self.”  But I don’t think this this is the simplistic case at all after reading a few of his articles.  For example, on July 16, 2010, blog author Lee Charles Kelley writes:

One of my main themes here is that, for most species (excluding cetaceans and some primates), animal consciousness should be described economically, through the laws of physics, not through higher-order intellectual thought processes. (This is why I think Freud — whose psychology was based on the conservation of energy — is more relevant to dog training than Pavlov and Skinner.) 

From post titled “Canine Communication, II: “Calming Signals & the Mel Gibson Tapes

It’s good stuff! This is the kind of guy who experences transendence reading books like My Dog Tulip.  Therefore, I respectfully suggest he rethink the blog title. Something more cerebral, perhaps? (If I come up with any brilliant notions, I shall of course suggest them to Mr. Kelley directly.)

I’m reminded of the translation issues over Chekov’s Lady With a Little Dog.  Since the Russian language doesn’t use articles, what meaning are we superimposing by chosing “a little dog” over “the little dog.” And what does it mean if we change it to “The Lady?” 

I digress.

Check it out. “My Puppy, My Self ” contains some good ideas about dogs and people… that is, of you’re into dog psychology, human psychology, and intersections of the two.

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Filed under Dog Training, literature

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

All Joy and No Fun?

I am not crazy.

I read an article in New York Magazine today and it’s in there. Somewhere in the article is what I’ve been trying to explain to people about this decision to get two Brittanys while working, raising two kids, and trying to keep my marriage from going into the great, gray Netherland of ambivalence. 

“It’s so hot,” I said to DH tonight, ripping into a bottle of white wine. “This weather is just… completely unreasonable. It really is, don’t you think? Unreasonable?”

DH nodded.

“I can smell myself,” I muttered. “I’m sick of smelling myself.” I sniffed. I groaned.

“Me too,” he said.

“You’re sick of smelling yourself, or sick of smelling me?”

He nodded again.

And before we could laugh or even make eye contact, Bam Bam and Pebbles started fighting and pushing over whose crown was whose in their new silly band collection.

The New York Magazine article confirms all of this. Parenthood is a grind. We do have moments of mind-blowing joy with the girls and these, to be fair, are not so few and far between. But it’s also hard work of the constant and mind-numbing variety.  In the middle of an important meeting, my shoulders can knot instantly over a maternal brain fart: you still didn’t submit the medical forms for kindergarten registration, or send the evite for Bam-Bam’s pool party!  And any attempts DH and I make to escape from daily life — when we try to fool ourselves into thinking we’re as fun, interesting, or driven as we once were — are folly. The plain truth is, we are on a domestic death march for the next 16 years.

Then there are Sadie and Dub. They inspire within me great joy and comfort that whispers to hell with it … in perfectly reasonable, daily doses.  I mean, I might as well march along (toward death? toward paying college tuition?)  in step with those things that offer random moments of disassociated delight, right? And peace.  Like yesterday evening, when I walked my two lively, panting, grinning dogs through the woods. I’m still filling an obligation to another creature! It’s productive! It’s even exercise! I watched them nose each other, take turns in the lead, reassure our little pack through body language that we were doing the right thing; that is, we were all having fun.

Because with 30-60 minutes of free time a day, my brain can’t even begin to focus on an intellectual activity. I have no chance of being interesting. Am I gonna knit?  Read 12 pages of a worthy novel or take half a yoga class?

Fuck it. I just want to have fun during the precious moments that belong solely to me.

Read it: All Joy and No Fun.  You’re welcome to come play with the dogs anytime.

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