Patti Soldavini

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Voice of Dog

In weimaraners on 02/26/2011 at 8:21 am

"Okay, I GET it"


How to Talk to a Weimaraner

In weimaraners on 02/26/2011 at 8:17 am

Respect their intelligence and nobility. I don’t crudely state, “Olive, here’s some fresh water.” I present her with her paw printed ceramic bowl and announce with an air of royal snottiness, “Olive, here’s some french water.” In one of the weim’s few undignified behaviors, Olive laps up the water, and walks away, dripping goblets of RH2O across the length of the kitchen. What does she care? She has her loyal subject to mop up after her. However, I do speak to her throughout the day as an intellectual peer. She may consider me her inferior… until I give her a command. I speak to her as though I am channeling William The Conquerer or General Patton. Or a very irritated, premenstrual Helen Keller. “OLIVE. OFF. COUCH. NOW!” I hear my own voice and am intimidated by its volume. Christ, I sound like an anthropomorphic bullhorn. I watch Olive’s pupils shrink to the size of a pinhead a nanosecond before she takes flight and zooms away. This is in sharp contrast to the voice I use when, awakening to a brand new day, I give Queen Olive a full body massage as she lies in her crate, unwilling to emerge until this splendor-filled ritual has been sufficiently executed and completed. In a much softer voice, I tell her how beautiful she is and how much I love her. (Wow. I just realized that Olive is an anagram of “i love.”) She must think, “YEAH, NICE HOUSE I LIVE IN, BUT I’VE GOT SYBIL AS MY LANDLORD. KEEP PETTING.”

Nice Throw Koufax

In weimaraners on 02/23/2011 at 7:10 pm

"Cripes, look at that bag FLY."

Scat On a Hot Shingled Roof

In weimaraners on 02/23/2011 at 7:07 pm

I told this story to friends over the Summer and I’m not sure how I neglected to re-tell it here, but it bears repeating. This is actually a postscript of sorts to my “Kryptonite” post. Once a week, I’d take an environmentally unfriendly plastic grocery bag and march out into the backyard with a scowl on my face and a garden shovel in my hand. Time to scoop up and dispose of the fecal land mines all over the yard. By the time I’m done, the bag feels as heavy as if there’s a bowling ball the size of Minnesota in it. Mind you, I perform this unsightly chore in full view of all the cars that pass by on this busy county road. I know if I drove by and saw someone doing this, I’d laugh my ass off. And then I’d probably lean out the window and yell something like “HEY, DON’T FORGET TO PICK UP YOUR OWN WHEN YOU’RE DONE PICKING UP THE DOG’S!” Olive waits inside the kitchen, quietly tearing everything off the refrigerator door, even messily devouring the cute miniature paper doll chain that my friend’s 6-year old made for me. I think I’m done. Usually, I walk three-quarters of the way around the property to dispose of this transitory septic farm in the trash can. Today however, I’m lazy. I’ll just go to the back of the house, tie up the bag and heave it down below near the garbage can. Then, when I go out later, I’ll pick it up and dispose of it properly. I walk over to the top of the rotting railroad tie retaining wall (which to replace is going to cost me what it would cost to purchase a small country), tie a knot in the bag, swing it backward, then forward, releasing it as though I were in the national finals of a slow pitch softball tournament. Wow. It feels great as it leaves my hand. This baby is going up, and up and up…OH SHIT. IT’S GOING TO LAND ON THE ROOF. Yes, the bag of Olive’s lawn cigars and moon pies (complete with intestinal parasites) lands on the corner of the roof. The only saving grace is that it barely misses landing on the vent pipe that prevents radon fumes from building up in the house (a common geologic occurrence in New Jersey.) WELL, THIS IS GREAT. IT’S ONLY JULY AND I DON’T NORMALLY CALL THE GUTTER GUY UNTIL THE FALL. For a brief second, I think of getting the ladder out to retrieve it. I quickly realize the ladder will fall short by about 15 feet. Then a newspaper headline flashes before my eyes: LOCAL WOMAN KILLED IN FALL FROM LADDER. BAG OF DOGSHIT FOUND AT SCENE. I shake my head and walk away. Maybe it will decompose and blow away before then. As annoyed as I am with my laziness, I am even more annoyed by my “shitty pitch.” But by the time I walk inside the kitchen, even I’m laughing. It’s a great story. I look at Olive and with a straight face and ask her, “OLIVE DID YOU SHIT ON THE ROOF?” She just looks at me all happy, with her tail wagging furiously. Without Olive, it would be just another boring day.


In weimaraners on 02/18/2011 at 6:09 pm

"They're TAKING our trash?"

Weimaraner World

In weimaraners on 02/18/2011 at 6:06 pm

You should see Olive when the garbage truck stops by to “steal our trash.” She races into the living room, flies up on the love seat like she’s an Olympic pole vaulter and barks her head off. “GET YOUR FILTHY PAWS OFF OUR TRASH,” she seems to be saying. “I GET FIRST DIBS. OH MY GOD, THERE GOES THE ROAST CHICKEN CARCASS.” I’m sure that if she could see the bully stick remnants I tossed out, she’d absolutely shriek in horror.

Thank God, she hasn’t seen one of her headless plush animals tumble out yet. She waits until the local Sanitation Engineers return our trash can to the bottom of the driveway, finally turning away from the window after the truck starts to pull away. Time to turn her attention to something else. I look up from my laptop to see Olive frenetically rubbing herself on the living room carpet, contorting her body like a circus freak and then it dawns on me. She’s found a stinkbug. ‘NO, NO NO. STOP RUBBING YOURSELF ON THE STINKBUG OLIVE!!!” “NOT GOOD, NOT GOOD.” Christ, now she smells like this repulsive insect. To her, it’s eau de pafum. To me, it’s a reason to puke. Thanks, Asia.

As I pick up the squashed, fetid bug, Olive races out of the room as if her short fuse of a tail is on fire. Where is she, I wonder? Apparently she’s made a pit stop at the local watering hole. I hear her greedily slurping water out of the toilet bowl as though she just emerged from the Mojave desert. I yell “OLIVE, NO,” as I rush up the stairs toward the bathroom. Hearing the commanding tone in my voice, Olive again races away. I wipe the toilet seat clean of scattered water droplets and tiny brown dog hairs and put the lid down. I look into the living room just in time to see my parched pooch standing on the sofa with her elegantly long front paws planted on the coffee table slurping the milk out of my glass. I call this Kanine Keystone Kops. It all happens within the space of minutes. Welcome to Weimaraner World.

This Looks Easy

In weimaraners on 02/17/2011 at 7:51 pm

"Comforters are filled with GOOSE feathers??????"

It’s Raining Goose

In Uncategorized on 02/17/2011 at 7:48 pm

Last night it rained goose in the master bedroom. It all began with Olive standing in the middle of my bed inquisitively admiring her image in the dresser mirror. Ever so slightly cocking her aristocratic flannel grey head slightly to the left, then right, characterized by a subtle look of bemusement, adoration and surprise on her expressive face. Truly checking herself out as if she were a narcissistic Supermodel primping before making her entrance onto the (ugh) CATwalk. It was all very entertaining in its childlike innocence and simplicity. And then with the swiftness of a crazed cheetah and the skill of a seasoned neurologist, she drops her head and tears a hole in my massively stuffed burnt orange Siberian goose down comforter. The hole is fairly small, about 18-point and in the shape of an “L.” Almost unnoticeable. Until Olive drops down onto the bed like a house dropping onto a village of munchkins. Hundreds of white goose down feathers erupt from the comforter as though a sleeping Mount Vesuvius had been awakened. “SHIT,” I scream. “YOU CRAZY NUTHATCH! STOP MOVING! NOW!” Olive is now wearing tufts of feathers on her muzzle which make her look like a grizzled old geezer with a spotty beard. She does not hear me yelling because 1000% of her dog brain is focused on trying to eat all the feathers orbiting her. She misses more times than she gets one so all you hear is rapid fire “air snapping.” Her mouth opening and clamping shut repeatedly, stopping only to gag on a feather once in awhile. To complete this mental image, picture Olive racing around in all directions on the bed, frantically trying to catch all the feathers. I guess for her, this is the next best thing to getting the goose. Getting the goose down feathers. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find thread in burnt orange? Still, it was funny. I love my exuberant pooch.

The Shadow Knows

In weimaraners on 02/15/2011 at 6:38 pm

"Get your damn shadow off my nose."

Groundhog Breath

In Uncategorized on 02/15/2011 at 6:34 pm

Boy, if this winter lasts much longer I think I might go batshit. Wait, can dogs go batshit? Then do bats go dogshit? Why is the sky blue? I love birds. Especially the dumb ones. And the ones who are too fat to fly. Boy there’s lots of geese here. Am I drooling? I thought they were Canadian. Do geese have passports? Where’s my bully stick? HOLY CRAP, WHO TOUCHED MY BED? I HAD IT ALL NICELY DISASSEMBLED WITH THE BOTTOM CUSHION HANGING FROM THE TOP OF MY CRATE. I know who did it. You do too. Patti. She’s always picking up after me. SO WHAT IF THE HOUSE LOOKS LIKE A SCENE OUT OF “REVENGE OF THE TOYS.” Wait a second, I need to groom my giant barrel chest. (Lick, lick, lick, lick, lick) I watched the Westminster Kennel Club dog show last night. Yes, really. What’s the deal with the word kennel? Time to retire that. Anyway, tonight my breed is on. I wonder if any of my relatives will be showing. I should be there. They still call us “bitches,” you know. I thought we had evolved beyond such stereotypes. WAIT A MINUTE, ARE RAP SONGS ABOUT US? My paws itch tonight. They stink a little bit too. But they taste good. Uh-oh, my stomach doesn’t feel so good right now. Do I have groundhog breath?

The Sentry

In weimaraners on 02/13/2011 at 6:52 pm

(Waiting for Boxzilla)


In Uncategorized on 02/13/2011 at 6:49 pm

Yesterday morning on our daily walk through town past the local college, a sustained gust of wind propelled an empty cardboard box toward Olive and I as if it were a tumbleweed. Olive, alerted to the approaching intruder assumes a hair trigger fight or flight stance. She reminds me of a track and field athlete in starting position awaiting the sound of the gun to release her. Leave it to Olive to vogueishly “strike a pose” in response to a cardboard monster. This is going to be good, I think. If it heads straight for us, my dog is going to put on a display worthy of a Cirque du Soleil performance. I stand alongside Olive waiting to see what comes next. The box continues to tumble toward us, end over end, side over side. It reminds me of the feather in the movie Forest Gump and the plastic bag in the movie “American Beauty.” Olive doesn’t move a muscle. To my dismay, the box tumbles to the left and past us, but not before Olive executes a spasmodic little jig never taking her eyes off Boxzilla. Thanks for another chuckle today Olive. It was almost as funny as watching you try to take a poop later that day and finding it difficult to get traction on the ice. You looked a little like a constipated Kristi Yamaguchi spinning out of control.

See No Evil

In weimaraners on 02/12/2011 at 9:17 am

"I didn't see a thing."

The Plush Morgue

In Uncategorized on 02/12/2011 at 9:15 am

The bodies are piling up. Dozens and dozens of Olive’s plush toys, some dismembered, others disemboweled, all cheerfully transformed by Olive’s hydraulic jaw. I have tried numerous brands, countless textures and sizes ranging up to that of a petite bison. Olive laughs out loud at the packaging that screams “for tough chewers.” It doesn’t seem to matter. She uses her teeth to create a small puncture wound to gain entry. Then she starts to fillet the toy until puffy miniature clouds of stuffing begin to erupt from it. At this point, I have to take it away from Olive or she will gorge herself on the stuffing as if she’s Henry the VIII.

After much trial and error, here’s what I’ve learned about dog toys and Weims. The only fabric which remains fairly indestructible to Olive’s surgical talents is canvas. Fleece? To her, that’s a nice bowl of oatmeal. All labels must be removed prior to giving the toy to Olive or it’s the first thing she will remove…and eat. And what’s the deal with the little “fruit loops” on the toys? Is this so you can hang them on the Christmas tree? WTF? I must carefully prune the toy of these loops as well, otherwise I might as well just give Olive a can opener to penetrate the toy. No small appendages. That’s right, if there is a tiny arm, leg, fin or raised eye, I must amputate it. Otherwise, Olive will. Because I use a scissor, my cuts are much cleaner, sparing the plush squirrel, armadillo, bat or fox the pain that comes with the ragged edges that Olive’s teeth leave.

Let’s not forget the stitching on the toy either. Stitching must be so small and tight that it can only be seen at the cellular level. It must also use military strength thread. Oh, you think I should try using industrial strength rubber Kong-type toys? Well, unfortunately, Olive does not seem to like the smell or taste of vulcanized rubber. She won’t touch any of these type of toys. No matter what shape they come in. Bone, cat, chipmunk, bird. Nothing. Even if I stuff a treat inside one, she will endure it just long enough to extricate the treat. Then, she tosses it aside as if I’ve given her another dog’s dirty underwear to put on. As I stuff another dead toy into the trash can, which I seem to do every other day, I wonder what the local sanitation engineers must think when they see all the headless plush animals tumble out.

Who Me?

In weimaraners on 02/09/2011 at 7:49 pm

"Who me? Heh-heh-heh, I love to chirp."

Camp Clawson

In Uncategorized on 02/09/2011 at 7:37 pm

Olive spent the day today recuperating from her four-day stay at Camp Clawson. Based on the report I received from the humans caring for her, they probably also spent the day recuperating. Yes, when you have a Weim, especially under a year old, it is especially important to find patient, caring, dog-savvy humans to take care of your pooch when you go out of town. Because it’s like leaving a perpetually semi-automatic IED in their home.

Luckily for both Olive and me, Olive’s trainer agreed to care for her in her home. I was grateful that Olive would be staying with the local ”Dog Whisperer.” If anyone could handle Olive, Shelley could. By the time Shelley picked up Olive at 8am on Sunday, Olive had just finished consuming some q-tips and a sheet of paper I had balled up and tossed into the waste basket in the bathroom.

Seeing one end of the q-tip protruding from the side of her mouth like a strange little cigarette, I think: “How ironic Olive. You won’t let me use them on your ears, and yet you don’t mind flossing your teeth with them.” I walk downstairs only to find a splattering of dime-sized pieces of yellow legal pad paper strewn all over the living room carpet like shrapnel. I think, “Christ. I hope I don’t really need whatever was on that paper.” Because now I’ll need tweezers and a CSI technician to piece it back together.

Shelley arrives and places Olive into the crate in the back of her SUV. It’s a bit smaller than Olive is used to so she seems a little cautious, like she’s trying on a dress one size too small. I can’t even watch the car pull out of the driveway or I’ll cry. The dog will be properly cared for; I’ll need a Xanax. It’s the first time I left Olive with anyone since I got her. Two days later, still out of town, I get an email on how Olive is doing. Here are a few excerpts…

“When we arrived home, Olive, knowing she should not jump from the car, refused to get out of the truck. I had to carry her out WHILE STILL IN THE CRATE!” (Not so easy as Olive currently weighs in at about 56 pounds.)

“My daughter loves her. Until the second night that is. Olive decided to cry all night and stopped only as I began writing this email. She sometimes barked but for the most part it sounded like a bird chirping. It would have made me think it was Spring if only she stopped long enough for me to sleep or even think.”

Apparently Olive also ran Shelley’s one-year old Border Collie ragged, which is not easy to do. Yes, Olive has the endurance of a mountain lion. If they had a Tour de France for dogs, Olive would break Lance Armstrong’s record. This dog could run from here to the moon before she tired. I have yet to see another dog not want to lie down, roll over and cry “Uncle,” when being chased by Olive.

My favorite part of the Olive Update was this: “Don’t get me wrong, still love Olive! She is just one of kind, the one and only Olive!” Oh yes, this dog of mine is uniquely in a class by herself. Today, she returns home, walks into the house, tail wagging a mile a minute, jumps on me once then walks past me as though she just passed her favorite fire hydrant. “Oh yeah, this place. I know you. I think I smell a bully stick. Bye.” I take this to mean that Olive is a well-adjusted pooch.

Selective Listening

In Uncategorized on 02/05/2011 at 11:25 am

"I can't HEAR you."

Amazing Colossal Weim

In Uncategorized on 02/05/2011 at 11:21 am

Olive seems to be turning into the amazing 50-foot colossal Weim. The kitchen counters no longer interest her. Why bother when you are tall enough to stick your head into the kitchen sink and lick the dirty dishes? Yes, her tongue actually reaches the bottom of the sink. Sitting at the kitchen table, looking at Olive from behind, it appears that there is a very tall brown-grey person (with long ears and very skinny legs) standing at the kitchen sink doing the dishes. I think, “What is Ghandi doing in my kitchen?” The only time Olive’s head pops up as fast as a champagne cork being released is when a) she sees my neighbor’s car going down the driveway or b) she hears a broken record going “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF!” Sometimes, she gets down a little too casually, like a 5 year-old being told to ‘PUT DOWN THAT LOLLIPOP NOW!” and complying very reluctantly.

This morning, after being reprimanded for “sink licking,” she promptly races into the dining room as if a roasted turkey is calling to her and places her paws strategically on the sofa table so she can admire herself in the oversized gold-framed mirror. I kid you not. She stares at her reflection for about six seconds and then satisfied that the answer to “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all? is…OLIVE, she jumps down. Is this the result of so many people fawning over Olive, telling her she’s so beautiful? Or is it just the Weim’s natural confidence and healthy self-esteem? Or maybe there was a juicy-looking bug resting on the frame of the mirror.

It has become quite clear to me that Olive enters every room looking for opportunities to establish her dominance and be “Queen of The Mountain.” She sizes up her opportunities like a 5-star military strategist, instantly identifying objects she can stand on to become taller than me. It is like an endless game of “King of The Mountain.” I swear I can hear her under he breath saying, “Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah.” In my office, she stands on top of my old titanium briefcase like Mary Lou Retton balancing herself on a narrow wooden beam, elevating her head about 6 inches above mine. She stares longingly at the lampshade and waits for me to turn my head so she can begin delicately exploring it with her teeth.

It is funny though to walk in to the living room and see my graceful pooch perched on top of her 48-inch crate, looking absolutely non-plussed. “WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?” she seems to be saying? ‘GO FETCH MY BONE. IT’S UNDERNEATH THE COUCH. THEN, MAYBE I’LL GET DOWN OFF MY CRATE.” As directed, I search for Olive’s bone. This necessitates my dropping to all fours (just like her) with my ass pointed to Mars, stretching my arm the depth of the couch like a mechanical claw until my hand reaches the drool-glazed prize.

Cabin Fever

In Uncategorized on 02/02/2011 at 8:12 pm

"If only I had wings."

Trading Places

In Uncategorized on 02/02/2011 at 5:36 pm

Olive and I both have a serious case of cabin fever. We choose to handle it in different ways. I chase my tail in an endless circle until I pass out from the centrifugal force. Olive chats on the phone endlessly with people living in tropical climates. I pick up dozens of plush toys with my mouth, one at a time, frantically shaking them from side to side until exasperated, I fling them across the living room like they’ve been shot out of a cannon. Some actually leave skid marks on the walls. Olive flips through the TV channels constantly, driving me crazy. The remote experiences such friction on a daily basis, that I’m waiting for it to ignite. I run around the house from room to room trying to escape the crushing boredom. Sometimes I even end up in my crate downstairs in the dark…just standing there…waiting…for something…anything to happen. Olive picks up a magazine to read (usually her favorite, BaRK…or Weird New Jersey), but eventually she feels compelled to eat the nice fibrous pages. We stare at each other. Thinking the same thing. Punxsatawny Phil better be right. Or one of us will eat him.

Interior Monologue

In Uncategorized on 02/01/2011 at 6:23 pm

"Huh? What the heck is a wolfman?"

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