Patti Soldavini

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Coyotes

In Uncategorized on 01/31/2011 at 10:17 pm

Tonight, Olive had to get her toenails clipped. She was starting to look like a falcon with giant talons. Or maybe Edward Scissorhands. If they were to get any longer, she probably would have been able to perform open-heart surgery. That, or cut down an entire redwood forest with a few quick swipes of the paw. Speaking of wildlife (again), both Olive and I were awakened very early this morning by the damn howling coyotes; a familiar winter sound in the wilds of New Jersey. (That, and people swearing like drunken sailors while shoveling snow.) It sure is creepy-sounding. My early response system unit — Olive — starts cautiously barking from inside her crate. It’s a low-toned “woof.” She burps it out like she’s not sure if this represents danger, but it’s on her radar. Coyote howls again. Olive’s response is “WOOF.” Definitely LOUDER. Now, I’m awake. A longer howl. Now Olive starts barking with all-consuming purpose. “WOOF. WOOF. WOOF. WOOF. WOOF.” This is code for “DANGER! DANGER! GET THE HELL UP AND INVESTIGATE!” (Hold on, I have to go fetch Olive’s bone from underneath the couch before she disembowels it.) “OLIVE BE QUIET, IT’S JUST A COYOTE NOT THE WOLFMAN.” Earlier today, I caught Olive eating her paw prints in the snow. I guess she was covering her tracks. Not sure what I might find at the end of the trail. I might be surprised. Maybe a dead Wolfman.

Smell-O-Vision

In Uncategorized on 01/29/2011 at 4:55 pm

"My God, what IS that stink? It's delicious!"

Caricature

In Uncategorized on 01/29/2011 at 4:33 pm

If you were to caricature a weimaraner, you’d start with its nose. Definitely exaggerate the nose. Because the only time it’s not plastered to the ground experiencing the world in a way that we humans only dare to imagine, it is joyfully spelunking inside its dinner bowl. Whereas Superman had x-ray vision, dogs have the olfactory equivalent. Olive can sniff out an air biscuit at least a mile and half away. Imagine the potency of sniffing another dog’s poop shute at point blank range. Thank God our olfactory sense is as dull as a two by four compared to a dog’s.

Next, make sure you exaggerate the dog’s fixed gaze; the pinpoint pupils of its amber eyes scaring birds right out of trees, leaving a pointillist scattering of tiny corpses under each tree trunk. Every time I see Olive fix her stare skillfully with laser-like intensity on some unsuspecting bird nearby, it reminds me of the original “Children of the Damned” movie. God forbid they lock eyes, the bird’s a goner.

Don’t forget to portray the Weim as exceptionally intelligent. For example, as I write, Olive is doing an impersonation of a Middle Eastern woman wearing a burqa. She is standing next to the love seat in the living room and has used her snout to flip the yellow fleece throw across her face, leaving only her eyes visible. I’m not sure if she realizes that this act of feigned modesty will not be appreciated by Middle Easteners as she remains completely naked from the face down.

You’ll also want to find an imaginative way to show the dog’s Olympian reservoir of energy. You could introduce a solid rocket booster to the drawing, strapping it onto her back. Or you could add a tornadic element, using a series of lines to suggest the dog’s perpetual motion. Or maybe just tear a hole in the paper as a symbol of the dog’s inability to remain still for more than a micro second.

And finally, draw a heart about 5 sizes too big. Because Weimaraners are exceptionally loving pooches. They love their humans. Even more than birds.

China

In Uncategorized on 01/27/2011 at 7:57 pm

"Jesus, I know China is here SOMEWHERE."

White Out

In Uncategorized on 01/27/2011 at 7:50 pm

Last night, in the middle of yet another snowstorm, Olive and I ventured out into the yard and ran around like two idiots in whiteout conditions. Although the wind was brisk and the freezing snow felt like sandpaper grinding against our faces, it was both a joyful and childlike experience. Olive loves galloping through the snow as though she’s a Clydesdale, so she’s hopping in and out of at least 2 feet of accumulated snow like an animated pogo stick. And then she sees it. The tip of a little red flag poking out from under the snow. Yes, the infamous poop flags that I’ve chronicled here. As she goes to yank it out of the ground with her mouth, I recoil the flexi-leash just before she extracts it like a rotten tooth. She is momentarily distracted by some inaudible sound that I cannot hear as she cocks her head to the side and stands still, waiting for confirmation of the alien signal. We literally run around in circles and crazy eights criss-crossing the yard under a bright moon dulled only by the carpeting of cloud cover dropping snow as if a giant ogre had turned an open bag of granulated sugar upside down. Of course, Olive wasn’t the one who had to shovel the snow the next day. Since I didn’t feel like doing it at 7:30 this morning, I waited until lunch time. Big mistake. It was like shoveling a pool full of wet cement. Olive stands in her pen laughing at me. I can see it in her eyes. The only thing she was shoveling was snow into her mouth faster than a diabetic who just found a bag of M&Ms under a couch cushion. I was certain that the minute I turned my back to her, she was going to start mass producing sno-cones in flavors that I’m sure you won’t see at your local Rita’s Ice stands.  Boy, this dog is going to miss winter when it’s gone. (Assuming it ever leaves of course.)

It’s All Business

In Uncategorized on 01/26/2011 at 8:03 am

"Take my card, please."

“Snoticles”

In Uncategorized on 01/25/2011 at 9:34 pm

“Snoticles.” That’s what I call the tiny crystallized drops of water that form on Olive’s whiskers and at the portals of her snout. They can also form in the absence of snow, when it’s just so frigid that the breath she exhales creates these infant droplets that condense instantly. Or, it’s simply evidence of what I call “snow nose.” The result of Olive’s “scenthoundia,” which compels her to plow her finely tuned snout into the snow in search of…whatever the hell is squirming in the earth beneath it. Watching her play in the snow with such gleeful abandon is amusing. I think her favorite part is after zooming around her fenced in yard faster than a gazelle on coke, she slams on the brakes and the snow goes flying as though she’s just slid into home plate and been called “safe.” And then, seeking refreshment, she lowers her head and begins eating snow by the fistfuls. I decide to toss a nicely formed snowball at her. She tracks its trajectory as it sails through the air like a fresh golden Twinkie. When it lands in the snow and “disappears,” she executes a series of gymnastic stunts trying to quickly find it. “WHERE THE HELL DID IT GO?” she wonders. As payment for this entertainment, and to not disappoint Olive, I toss her the embryonic twin of the fugitive snowball. She gobbles it to pieces as though I had just fed her a freshly baked parakeet. Goofy dog.

Throne

In Uncategorized on 01/24/2011 at 9:04 pm

"Bring forth the court jester!"

Queen Nefertiti

In Uncategorized on 01/24/2011 at 8:57 pm

The other morning, Olive followed me into the bathroom as usual, as though she was tracking a large bipedal Canadian goose. Playful as usual, she walked between the translucent shower liner and the decorative fabric liner in front of it. The design of the decorative liner has broad metallic stripes running vertically down the curtain, alternating between a stunning copper, chocolate brown, crimson and a pale taupe. Running through these panels are metallic gold threads. As Olive, my grey ghost, stood there somehow looking simultaneously aristocratic and goofy, “wearing” the shower curtain, it occurred to me that for Halloween, she should be dressed as Queen Nefertiti. The fabric against her shimmering grey coat was simply stunning. So captivating, you could actually picture a complementary ornate head dress resting atop my pooch’s rather prominent occipital bone. Now all I have to do is find a little mini pinscher who won’t mind being strapped to Olive’s back as baby Tut. In a dog’s dreams, I wonder what constitutes a very, very special treat? Squirrel ka-bobs? Chipmunk chips? Catloaf?

Enigma

In Uncategorized on 01/23/2011 at 11:32 am

"Talk to the shadow."

Call of The Wild

In Uncategorized on 01/23/2011 at 11:22 am

If I want to get Olive’s attention without saying a word, I just quietly open a flexible package of Fruitables or any other canine tidbit. It’s like watching Jack London’s “The Call of The Wild” spring to life. Olive’s ears, capable of picking up HDTV signals from outer space, wrinkle in delirious anticipation and within seconds, she has shot through the house like a lunatic pinball. She arrives at my side before I have even finished tearing open the package. She immediately sits with the perfect posture of a member of the royal family and looks up at me longingly. The pupils of her amber eyes dilate to the size of hot-air balloons. She’s trying to telepathically communicate with me now. If I listen very, very closely, this is what I hear: “OH PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…” I toss her one of the 9-calorie treats and she’s so happy, she almost swallows it whole. Sometimes, when I’m in a rush and don’t have the time to play “tag” with Olive, I just grab a bag, stand quietly and TEAR THE BAG OPEN. Works every time. She’s by my side in an instant. Of course, in order for this bit to keep working, I do have to fork over a tidbit each time. Sometimes it’s pumpkin and banana or blueberry and pumpkin Fruitables, sometimes it’s Wagatha’s organic breakfast blend, which has such an authentic aroma of maple, oatmeal and apples that I feel like eating them. Or, it’s one of many other tantalizing flavor variations. This way, Olive becomes mentally engaged as she has no idea what flavor awaits her. She knows it will be something good, so it’s worth dropping the tasteless cotton candy-like dryer lint or fetid stinkbug she finds momentarily captivating.

Ennui

In Uncategorized on 01/21/2011 at 7:06 pm

"Christ, I just might die of boredom today."

Sticks R’ Us

In Uncategorized on 01/21/2011 at 7:02 pm

What? Did someone say “Bully Sticks?” Of course I know what they’re made from, I’m a Weimaraner. I’m keenly intelligent. Highly articulate. And very impatient with dolts of all species. Wait a second, I have to bite my tail…What were we talking about? Right, Bully Sticks. So fragrant. Like Chanel Number K9. If I could roll in its scent I would. I really don’t care if it was made from the privates of a kangaroo. Is there such a thing as Kanga Sticks? I’d like to try them too. You know what? Can you take me to a store where they sell all kinds of Sticks? Like Tiger and Lion Sticks. Elephant and Buffalo Sticks. Oh my God, my stomach is growling and I’m drooling. And I can’t stop fantasizing about ZEBRA STICKS. Hold it. I have to lick myself. Was I talking or were you talking? Did you just see that bird? I’m waiting for the spring when they turn red and ripen. And blue. The blue ones look like they might taste spicy. God, my toenails are long. I almost poked my own eye out before when I went to scratch my cheek. Oh look a mirror. Geez, I AM adorable. Here. I’m done with this Bully Stick, you can have the rest.

Tre Bastoni

In Uncategorized on 01/20/2011 at 8:12 pm

"Damn, just a regular stick."

“Bully Sticks”

In Uncategorized on 01/20/2011 at 7:57 pm

You have to wonder. How did they get the idea to process bull penis as a dog treat? I mean really, we’re not talking rabbit’s foot or elk antler or even pig’s ear. Whose idea WAS this and how did they even GET this idea? I’m afraid to ask. And why the bull? You know what, I don’t want to know the answer. All I know is that Olive LOVES them and her breath stinks like, well, I’m not sure whether the predominant “aromatic note” is bull or penis, but it is gross. The only thing grosser is when she has chewed the entire 12 inch stick down to about 3 inches and I have to take it away from her so she doesn’t swallow it whole or choke on it. God, why do I feel like I’m writing porn right now? I can’t begin to adequately describe what the “leftovers” are like. Suffice to say, gooey, fleshy and stinky. These things aren’t cheap either. Of course, Olive prefers the Merrick brand which are more expensive (about $5 each) AND much stinkier. Big surprise on both counts. She’s lying in front of the pellet stove chewing her way through one right now. Last night I had to pull the remnant piece out of her mouth and this dog is a very powerful chewer. Three words came to mind as I did this, Lawn mower, mountain goat and beaver. I still have all my fingers. (Probably because they are fingers and not tiny bull penises.) I wonder if she has any idea what exactly it is that she’s chewing on?

Paparazzo

In weimaraners on 01/19/2011 at 5:29 pm

"Oh, it's the paparazzo again."

Crash Landing

In Uncategorized on 01/18/2011 at 9:16 pm

Olive is now 9 months old and has begun toying with me.  The other day while I was in the kitchen, I looked into the dining room to see Olive peering through the oak railing into the living room below. I could tell she was perplexed simply by the way her head was cocked and ears slightly elevated as if preparing for lift off. This impressionistic display clearly communicated “Huh, how did that happen?” or the ubiquitous “WTF?” Curious myself to see what she was staring at with such intense focus, I make my way into the dining room. “Olive, what’s going…” and as I peer over the side of the parquet cliff, I see it. The twisted, gnarled plush wreckage. Olive’s mini bear squeak toy, lying lifeless at the foot of the domestic mountain. Trapped between the chestnut-colored leg of the couch, and the base of the pewter floor lamp. Olive looks at me with a mixture of shock, curiosity and helplessness. At least that’s how I interpret it. If you look closely, you can see what I can’t, the cartoon bubble floating over her head. It reads “Watch me get this without moving a muscle.” As if on cue, I proceed down the stairs into the living room to retrieve Olive’s bear from its hellish crash landing. I come back upstairs, toss the bear to Olive and return to the kitchen. Not 30 seconds later, the deafening silence grabs my attention. What do I see? As if I am watching a slow-mo replay of a Superbowl touchdown, Olive, striking an identical pose, peering over the side of the parquet cliff, as if to say, “Oops.” As I make my way back down the stairs to once again rescue the tiny plush beast my goofy pooch has casually tossed away like a rancid fish, it occurs to me that I’ve just been trained how to fetch.

Do Not Disturb

In weimaraners on 01/17/2011 at 5:07 pm

"Do I look like I want to play right now?"

Kryptonite

In Uncategorized on 01/16/2011 at 1:24 pm

If you’ve never heard of Giardia before, think Kryptonite. It is an intestinal parasite common to dogs THAT CAN LIVE IN ENVIRONMENTS FOR TWO TO THREE MONTHS after a dog excretes its cysts. Yes, this would have been a useful piece of information to tell me when I was leaving Olive’s lawn cigars and cow pies scattered about the lawn like Bingo chips this past Summer. Had I known they required delicate hazmat handling, I would have been obsessive about picking them up right away. Because when you have an acre of property, what’s a few brown trout dotting the lawn? The drawback to having an acre of property as a canvas for Olive’s fecal artwork is that contrary to what one might think, it’s actually not so easy to find these deposits. I couldn’t pick them up right away while I had Olive on the leash because she would try to tear the flimsy plastic bag out of my hands as if we were playing tug of war with a delectable rotting fox carcass. So I’d put her back in the kitchen and arm myself with a gardening shovel, plastic bag and…surgical gloves. Just call me “Scatologist.” Then, I’d be faced with trying to recall the coordinates of precisely where the event occurred. Standing in the yard looking hopelessly perplexed as if I were lost, I’d mutter to myself out loud, “I think it was about 10 feet from the 8th pole in the split rail fence opposite the middle hemlock bush.” It was like playing “Battleship.” And rarely, did I sink the battleship. Then, I have a brainstorm. Why not get those tiny red anti-litigation flags that companies plant on lawns to warn people that pesticides have been sprayed? I go to the first place I think might have them. Yes, Amazon.com. They have EVERYTHING. Including 50 miniature red flags attached to the end of foot-long wire poles…for about $5. Now my lawn looks like a miniature golf course in the summer. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m batshit when out there planting little red flags in the lawn while Olive is in the undignified “pooping position.” I don’t care. It’s genius. Except I didn’t anticipate how hard they’d be to jam into the frozen ground in the winter, resulting in bent poles hanging and twirling in the wind like psychotic pinwheels, while leaving my knuckles bloodied. Now, it looks like a miniature golf course at an insane asylum from which a serial killer just escaped. The alternative is feeding Olive sweet potatoes which when consumed, digested and released, resemble orange glow-in-the-dark cylinders. You can see them from space.

Chicken

In Uncategorized on 01/15/2011 at 3:23 pm

"I wonder if it tastes like chicken..."

The Other Reindeer

In Uncategorized on 01/14/2011 at 7:27 pm

When I was first thinking about getting a dog, I was also thinking about what I’d name her. Olive’s predecessor, my surrogate pooch, was named Idgy. What a great name. Even William Wegman whom I met at a book signing in Frenchtown, New Jersey thought so. He signed (prophetically apparently) his book “Chip Wants a Dog,” and he sketched a simple doodle of Idgy and me. When he said “What a great name,” I actually sensed that for a split second, he considered the name for one of his future dogs.

Anyway, after considering many names, I short-listed Luna, Zoe, and Shortbread. I loved Shortbread, but it was just too long. I tried yelling it out loud as though I were calling her and quickly decided I sounded like an idiot. “SHORT BREAD! SHORT B-R-E-A-D. COME HERE SHORT BREAD!” It met the two-syllables criteria, but not without using most of the letters in the alphabet.

Then a friend of mine said “What about Olive?” Not only did it just feel right before I even met Olive, but I loved the idea because it reminded me of one of my favorite “nouveau” children’s books, “Olive The Other Reindeer.” It was also serendipitous that the pooch in the story looked like the late Idgy. So, Olive’s name is also a nod to Idgy, a dog I came to love wholeheartedly for 14 years. It was perfect. Now everyone who hears Olive’s name thinks it’s just perfect for her. They have no idea that her middle name is “Pimento.” This was suggested to me by another friend. It made me laugh. So, that’s how Olive Pimento Soldavini got her name. Ironic, given that I am an Italian who will not let a green, black or purple olive come within 15 feet of my mouth. My poor cousin’s wife always has to make my salad “sans olives,” because I won’t even pick that scat out of my dish.

Now that I know Olive, would I have named her anything else? Not a chance. But…I would have considered the following names: Rocket, Tornado, or Goofy. In fact, one day I called her Goofy when we were walking past the local middle school and I overheard an 8 year old boy say to another in an incredulous tone, “Is that dog’s name GOOFY?” No, but it could have been.

Transfixed

In Uncategorized on 01/13/2011 at 9:47 pm

"Absolutely disgusting, but I can't stop watching."

Canine Musicology

In Uncategorized on 01/13/2011 at 7:27 pm

Ever notice the musicology of squeak toys? They have a limited range of distinct squeaks, but depending on how Olive squeezes them, they take on the quality of the Boston Symphony. The larger squeakers, when compressed slowly like an accordion actually emit a sound that resembles the word “people.” PEE-PULL, PEE-PULL. PEE-PULL. The smaller squeakers, compressed more rapidly sound like BE-BAD, BE-BAD, BE-BAD, BE-BAD, BE-BAD, BE-BAD, BE-BAD.

The sound I make when I’ve heard enough of Canine Concerto Minor? “STOP-IT. STOP-IT. STOP-IT.” I wonder if dogs use squeakers to try to communicate with us, using them as a sort of aural sign language. Really, maybe we’re just too stupid to get it.

Right now, Olive is lying in front of the pellet stove contentedly (and quietly) gnawing on a $27 Elk Antler which is so hard, it feels like the femur bone of a Triceratops. God knows what she’s sharpening her teeth for next…

Ordinary People

In Uncategorized on 01/13/2011 at 8:01 am

"Hurry up, my ass is cold."

Wild Kingdom

In Uncategorized on 01/12/2011 at 7:52 pm

As I sit down to write tonight, Olive leaps over me like a champion reindeer to curl up on the couch directly behind me. Just moments after revealing that the missing fleece sock I spent the past few minutes looking for is not in my bedroom where it should be, but laying in a corner in the living room looking “dead” if that is at all possible. (Her head is jammed into my back as I write this). The TV is on and Olive will remain vaguely disinterested in it until she hears or sees a dog on screen. Then, she will leap off the couch with the energy of an errant spring that’s suddenly popped, approach the TV with her metronome tail wagging furiously, waiting for a chance to formally “greet” the pooch on TV. She’ll start to sniff the TV screen in the approximate direction of the dog’s uniquely aromatic rump and I begin praying that she doesn’t decide to jump up and rake her nails across the screen in an alpha attempt to mount the pixilated pooch. Olive is about 55 pounds now and it’s 55 pounds of pure muscle and bone. When she slams into something, it’s like being hit by an NFL-branded sack of wet cement. The only thing funnier than watching this half-reality/half virtual interaction is watching the expressions on her face and her ears when she’s bearing witness to warfare in the animal kingdom. “GRUNT. BARK. (DROOL) SQUEAL. (BITE) YELP. BARK, BARK. GROWL.” As the animals begin tearing into each other, Olive’s bright, captivating amber eyes completely dilate, her lips curls ever so slightly, revealing a few bottom teeth and you can actually watch her emotions cascade across her ears. Their rapid, but subtle micro movements convey a complex mix of curiosity, fear and disgust all once. Meryl Streep would be impressed. I think it’s the equivalent of rubbernecking past an accident on the highway. Olive is repulsed but feels compelled to watch. Besides, she has to be on high alert just in case the animals pounce into our living room. I’m so glad I didn’t let anyone talk me out of getting a Weim. I love Olive’s intelligence, her energy and her goofy sense of humor. “OLIVE, WHERE THE HELL IS MY SWEATSHIRT?”

Leaves

In weimaraners on 01/11/2011 at 5:55 pm

"Okay, what did I do to deserve this?"

Cat in The Hat

In weimaraners on 01/10/2011 at 9:30 pm

What a “Cat in The Hat” morning I had today. This is how I describe a series of ridiculous events that starts with some innocuous act on my part and quickly accelerates into a Pandorian nightmare. Usually because I’m rushing and not paying close enough attention to something I should. At around 6:30 am this morning, while lugging the 40 pound plastic bag of wood pellets up onto the pellet stove, dumping them into the hopper, the bottom of the bag breaks open and 20 pounds of compressed wood pellets come cascading down the front of the stove onto the living room rug, scattering like tiny shiny turdlettes. Olive is now trying to gobble up these unexpected treats like a Dyson vacuum cleaner. To her, it probably resembles deer or rabbit scat, two of her favorite environmental delicacies. I reach into her mouth with the finesse of a blind plumber, trying to extract these tiny missiles to no avail. They are so small, she can barely chew them; they disappear down her gullet only to tumble onto the pile of other foreign objects she has recently ingested (pencil bits, the eye from a plush lizard, cardboard, discarded Q-tips, etc.) I retract my hand, now dripping in a syrup-like coating of dog saliva. To make matters worse, part of the heavy-duty white plastic bag is now melted onto the front of the black pellet stove. I’m so annoyed with myself I want to slap my own face repeatedly. Olive gets led to her “dungeon” crate downstairs while I clean up and curse at myself. (I call it her dungeon crate only because it is very spartan. It’s where she goes when I have to leave her for awhile and the possibility of a gastrointestinal train wreck is very real. Often she holds on to her lawn cigars for hours, apparently in an attempt to polish them into diamonds.) Soon, she’s barking and I know this time it’s for water. I swear the dog forgets to drink sometimes and when she’s thirsty, she becomes very insistent and the water in Princess Olive’s bowl had better be as pristine as an arctic spring. If it contains microns of stick bits, whisker dust or God forbid, a bloated kibble, she won’t touch it. Any foreign floaters, and she turns her nose up in disgust, waiting for her handmaiden (me) to replenish it. I clean and fill her water bowl, let her out of the crate and scrub my hands. What a great day today! You won’t hear me complain, my dog is a nuthatch and I’m insane!

Still Life

In weimaraners on 01/07/2011 at 7:54 pm

"Shut up and peel me a grape."

Frankenprong

In Uncategorized on 01/07/2011 at 7:47 pm

"What now?"

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past six months, it’s that most people think their dogs are well-behaved. Even as they jam their snout into your netherbits trying to ferret out a toy. Guess what? You’re not supposed to have to give a dog a command 42 times before it stops trying to mount the defenseless 15-month old teeter-tottering through the kitchen wearing nothing but a soiled diaper and a grin covered in peanut butter. Yes, the baby smells THAT good to the dog. A walking, cooing aphrodisiac.

Anyway, dog training takes an unfathomable level of patience and the ability to endure hours of mindless repetition without wanting to cry. “SIT. GOOD GIRL. OKAY. SIT. GOOD GIRL. OKAY. SIT. GOOD GIRL. OKAY. SIT. GOOD GIRL. OKAY. SIT. GOOD GIRL. OKAY. SIT. GOOD GIRL. OKAY…” Sometimes, waiting for the light bulb to go off in the dog’s head is like waiting for Godot.  (Which by odd coincidence includes the word ‘dog.’) This is when the dog recognizes that we humans are woefully inept at communicating…especially in dog. I think they are actually jerking our chains then. Thankfully, Olive’s disposition makes her very eager to please. She will stand on her head and recite Desiderata just to make me happy. Other times, she puts on a William Wegman mask and tells me to stand on a chair.

Anyway, when Olive and I first started obedience school, she wore a regular, run-of-the-mill, overpriced dog collar. Big mistake. As I would soon learn, this was like putting a wet noodle around her neck. She had not one iota of respect for it. My independent spirited, crazed scent hound kept her nose to the mat, mentally categorizing and reclassifying every odor she encountered, occasionally stopping to lick some sort of forensic residue. The only time she wasn’t doing this was when she was distracted by the molecular activity around us. The dog is a biologic motion sensor. If the tiniest thread in the fabric of the universe shifts imperceptibly, Olive goes on high alert.

It was impossible to walk her. The collar was simply an accessory. It was like walking a 40-pound jackrabbit, zigzagging all over the place, leaving scorch marks in the earth she traversed. At this time, it would have been easier to train her to plow crop circles. I quickly developed “Olive Elbow,” from overextending it repeatedly. The leash burn on the underside of my arm was getting worse. My shoulder was dangling out of its socket. Olive was learning many, many foul words during this time. “$%#@!*&^%&*#@$! My God, am I ever going to enjoy walking this dog?”

At my wit’s end, I consulted with Olive’s trainer. “Do you think I’ll ever be able to train Olive without using the prong collar?” If you’re not familiar with the prong collar, it’s the one many dog owners (usually those who own dogs no larger than a Fabergé egg) wince at when they first see it. Actually, I winced too. It resembles a medieval torture device. A series of interlocked angry chrome pincers. I couldn’t imagine stringing this around Olive’s dainty neck. Oddly enough, it reminded me of going to the dentist, where they try to shove equipment the size of a 1962 Buick through your piehole. Nonplussed, the trainer responded: “Yes. But it will take a VERY, VERY, VERY VERY, VERY LONG TIME.” The perfect answer to give an impatient personality like myself.

“Welcome to Frankenprong, Olive.”

The much maligned and misunderstood prong collar should be sold, not as a utilitarian pet product but as a device that balances the relationship between dog and human. It works. Olive respects it’s ability to set limits. And if you wrap it around your arm, you’ll see that it’s no big deal (assuming you bought the quality one with rounded prongs). What I couldn’t get past though was watching Olive shrink 4 sizes before my eyes when the trainer popped the leash connected to Olive’s bright new prong collar. I think my sensitive, short-haired pooch yelped more from surprise (the party’s over) than anything else. Still, I said, “Screw that. I’m not making my dog feel small.” Off came the Frankenprong. For now anyway.

Four weeks later, ready to pull a Sylvia Plath, I attempted to reintroduce Olive to the Frankenprong. I gently placed it around her neck, softly cooing to her like the crap-stained baby from paragraph one. She remained unusually calm while cocking her head every so slightly as if to let me know that I’d been had.  I swear, she may have even winked at me.

Innocent

In weimaraners on 01/05/2011 at 8:21 pm

"I didn't do it."

Rebuttal

In Uncategorized on 01/05/2011 at 7:34 pm

Okay, so I ate the number two pencil. Maybe it was the way it smelled. I am after all, a scent hound. Which means that I can tell you with 100% certainty that there is a Snickers wrapper with some caramel still stuck to it on the sole of a chubby kid’s shoe in Paramus. Maybe I ate it because it was the prettiest looking stick I ever saw. Almost trophy quality. I liked the point on the end of it. I used it as a toothpick. The best part was the little pink nipple on the other end of it. I had to spit out the small silver collar to get to it, but it was worth it. Maybe I ate it just because it was called “number two.” I didn’t expect that hard black filling though. What was THAT all about? Now every time I sit down and scratch, I Ieave smudge marks on the floor. (Patti’s not going to like THAT.) Hold on I have to scratch myself. Did I just hear a bird? God, I’m so bored right now. That’s because I’m a Weimaraner. Sometimes it’s better to be stupid; there are less obligations in life. Did I just say that? HOLY CRAP, I CAN WRITE!!! Wait a minute, I have to lick myself. Oh look, there’s a stinkbug…

#2 Squared

In Uncategorized on 01/03/2011 at 8:17 pm

Olive just finished devouring the #2 pencil I left on the coffee table unattended for 5 minutes. She’s outside in the backyard now writing the next post.

The Defuser

In Uncategorized on 01/03/2011 at 2:56 pm

Olive may not have any thumbs, but the dog is exceptionally talented at zeroing in on the olfactory presence of the Bounce dryer sheet nestled inside a tangled pile of freshly dried clothes. Within seconds of identifying this tantalizing specially-formulated commercial odor, she plows her head into the dryer, (bystanders be damned!) dives into the pile of clothes and with the precision of a trained explosives expert extricates the dryer sheet and takes off with it dangling from her mouth like some cheap carnival prize. Getting her to give it up requires the negotiating skills of Henry Kissinger. It is important to her to hang onto it for as long as possible. This means she must fly up and down the three levels of stairs at least three times, run around the whole house like her tail is on fire, occasionally pausing only to gently gnaw on the dryer sheet. The only way I have been able to get her to give it up is by offering  something better. If I yell the word “BISCUIT,” drawing it out…“B-I-S-C-U-I-T-T-T…in a voice so high pitched that it makes birds drop out of the sky, she races toward me, sits promptly, and instantly lets the dryer sheet drop as if it’s a dirty diaper.

Hydrant

In Uncategorized on 01/02/2011 at 11:13 am

"Go ahead, try to take a picture of me not moving."

 

Goliath

In Uncategorized on 01/01/2011 at 2:14 am

The dog who would be Goliath. Most people probably don’t know that Weimaraners were originally bred to hunt large game, large as in BEAR and DEER. (Which of course would make New Jersey the perfect home for these dogs.) Then, according to the Weimeraner Club of America, they were “converted to a fur and feathers” dog, as in hunters of picnic basket-sized prey. Make no mistake. Olive is a very confident dog, approaching strangers (with and without candy) and other dogs in full alpha mode with her head proudly held high, chest thrust forward and her cigarillo-like tail wagging so fast it can slice a tomato cleaner than a Ginsu knife. In these moments she reminds me of a 5-year old child who innocently believes that the world is there only to make them happy. However, my sweet-tempered pooch is not what I’d consider brave. Standing in the middle of my rural acre of property late one night, waiting for Olive to deposit some black gold, she goes into red alert and starts to stalk something on the other side of the split rail fence dividing my neighbor’s property from mine. The low growling which had immediately preceded the deliberate and focused stalking now erupts into apocalyptic barking. “HOLY CRAP,” I think as I am on the verge of barely controlled panic. IS IT A BEAR? A COYOTE? A BOBCAT? Yes, these animals are all indigenous to New Jersey. Even mountain lion, which I learned when one was found spitting at cars on Rt. 17 in Mahwah a year or two ago. While I am standing there mentally processing the possibilities, the flexi-leash continues to unwind with such ferocity, I think I actually smell smoke. And then, in what seems like a nanosecond, with the deft coordination of a ballerina, Olive pirouettes and races back toward me at the speed of light…and hides behind me. Like I said, confident, but not brave.

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