Patti Soldavini

Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

Playdog

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/29/2011 at 9:27 pm

"Where the HELL is my tiara?"

“For God’s sake, HURRY! I look like a common tart. And I’m getting tired of posing. I’m hungry. WHERE are my clothes? Tell Prince Harry I think he’s very hot. Even if he does resemble an Irish Setter. A drink! A drink! I need a drink! NOW.”

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Dogby

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/26/2011 at 8:44 pm

"Who's next?"

Yesterday morning, Olive met Kira, a beautiful 10-month old polar white Boxer at the local dog park. On this wonderfully cool morning marked by scattered blue-grey clouds, Olive and Kira, the only two dogs in the park, race nuttily around the grounds oblivious to everything but themselves. When not screaming past their owners like comets streaking across a night sky, the dogs stop every once in awhile to literally box one other. After a couple of sweaty, saliva-flinging rounds, grunting, they wrestle each other to the ground, using their mouths to pin each other by the neck. While it was friendly at all times, clearly they played with the unvarnished vigor of filthy rugby players. All of a sudden, Olive or Kira would stand up like they had been tweaked by a wandering ghost, and they would dig their nails into the dirt and take off as if they were racing with the moon. No matter how far or long they ran, or how many petrified lawn cigars they passed, they would always find their way back to their human companions; drawn to us as if we were giant red and silver-tipped U-shaped magnets. Always moving toward us, they’d tumble over each other like two crazy bowling balls that crossed lanes. It was funny until a combined 150 pounds of lean, muscular grey and white canine power slammed into me, knocking me to the ground like a catatonic bowling pin. I may have gone ass over head. All I saw was the horizon simultaneously moving in different directions. ‘GOOD CHRIST YOU CRAZY DOGS, THAT HURT!” I announce with mock annoyance as I pick myself up from the ground gingerly like an old fart, waiting to determine if I have any broken bones. At least I didn’t lose my glasses. “Are you okay?” says Kira’s owner. I assure him I am; more surprised than anything about being taken out by “Team Kolive.” Of course they didn’t mean it. In their blissful moments of play, living fully in each moment as it occurs, they simply become unaware of their surroundings; as focused as Tibetan monks only on each other. I look up and Olive is standing there with her tongue dangling from her mouth like a tube of bologna. “THIRSTY?” I ask Olive. Panting heavily, she looks at me longingly, as though I have magically materialized into a garden hose. I open the bottled water I’ve brought with me and slowly let some drop into Olive’s mouth which is now wrapped around the upper half of the bottle. Growing impatient as she starts to chew on the plastic bottle, I say, “LET’S GO OLIVE, I THINK I MAY HAVE SPRAINED MY ASS.”

Visual Symphony

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/24/2011 at 5:57 pm

"I think I INHALED a firefly!"

As twilight began to slip away the other night, Olive and I meandered outside and stepped into the most amazing display of firefly “performance art.” There before us, in our front yard and across the street throughout the almost-knee-high cornfield, thousands of miniature yellow lights twinkled on and off, blinking at us as though they were performing a visual symphony. I felt like I was in a scene from “A River Runs Through it,” “Legends of the Fall,” or “The Color Purple.” It was such a powerful association that I could almost hear Robert Redford narrating the story. “AND IN THE TWILIGHT OF OUR YOUTH WHEN WE MUST PUT AWAY CHILDISH THINGS…” The scene was breathtaking. We stood there for a few minutes like a pair of blue Cornflowers, taking it all in, until Olive decided she wanted to take it all in LITERALLY. She starts leaping into the air like a spring-loaded jackrabbit, becoming momentarily bi-pedal, biting at the fireflies, chasing them across the lawn. Leap. Bite. Leap. Bite. Leap. Bite. Leap. Bite. Leap. Bite. It had a funny Chaplinesque quality to it, one that caused me to start laughing out loud. LOUDLY. And then Olive abruptly stops and snorts with the gusto of a bagpipe player:  “HAYUMPHHHH!” “WHAT’S THE MATTER OLIVE? DID A FIREFLY GO UP YOUR NOSE?” She looks at me for a few seconds and then goes back to leaping and biting. I stand there wondering how I got so lucky to get such a great dog. And again, it’s another one of those moments when I say to myself. “God, I can’t believe she’s really mine.”

Olive in The City

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/21/2011 at 9:28 pm

"A prostitute AND a clown?"

Olive was in the heart of New York City on Saturday. (That is if you believe that New York actually has a heart.) By accident. I took Olive with me as we embarked on a trip to Weehawken, New Jersey to drop one of my nephews off at the New York Waterway Ferry. For those of you not familiar with the ferry, it offers a civilized 10-minute ride from New Jersey to New York with none of the hassles of driving. That is of course IF YOU CAN F’ING GET TO THE DOCK. As I come down the ramp into Weehawken ready to make the left hand turn at the only road I know of that leads to the dock, it is barricaded with giant orange and white plastic drums. No sign. But New Jerseyans are used to this. No sign is needed. It means, FIND YOUR OWN F’ING WAY.” “Cripes,” I groan, “Now what?” I have about three seconds to decide if I want to go through the Lincoln Tunnel. I turn to look at Olive in the back seat, sitting there much more tranquil than she ever is when she’s way back in Outer Mongolia, otherwise known as the cargo area. I hate the idea of going into “the jungle” with Olive, but I don’t have much choice. My nephew needs to be at Penn Station to catch a train. “Buckle up,” I announce to John and Olive, “We have to drive through the urban birth canal.” I hear Olive, faintly snoring in the back. Apparently, she’s just so happy to be nearer to me, she’ll just sleep through this adventure. I hate the tunnel. I hate the idea of being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic under the Hudson River for 1.5 miles. After what seems like hours, there’s light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. One of my favorite sights. (My other favorite sight is the sign that reads “Welcome to New Jersey” when we leave.) As we are expelled from the tunnel’s mouth like a drunkard’s morning-after gob of spit, Olive stares at me with a look that suggests she is wondering what the hell will come next. I come to a light where I need to make a left turn only to be confronted by sheer civil engineering idiocy. The traffic crossing in front of me is snaking around to ENTER THE TUNNEL. It was probably conceived by the same rocket scientist who designed fast food stores whose exit doors dump diners out into the path of oncoming drive-thru traffic. Since most New Yorkers suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and have a deeply abiding unearned sense of cultural entitlement, they proceed to block the entire grid as they stream continuously through 12 red lights. (And might I remind people that New Jersey was home to Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Bruce Springsteen. It doesn’t get much smarter and more accomplished than that.) To make matters worse, there is a nutless schmo in the silver barge in front of me who is actually WAITING for someone to let him through. Hey Bozo, this is not the Midwest. No one is going to “let” you in. You need to drive like William The Conqueror. I maneuver my Saturn around his car as though mine is a can opener on wheels. As I let fly a percussive note of filthy words that would make a convict blush, I glance back at Olive who is quietly and contentedly chewing on her bully stick while she’s stretched out across the length of the back seat. This is when she’s not people-and-dog-watching. “Look Olive, there’s a prostitute AND a clown!” Either she thinks that I have everything under control or she knows it’s best not to get involved at this moment. (Smarter than most back seat drivers.) Finally, I get to the entrance to Penn Station which is unrecognizable under a mountain of scaffolding. The building looks like the mouth of an eighth-grader with braces the size of a football stadium. I hug my nephew goodbye, jump back in the car, look at Olive and say, “Let’s get the hell out of this shithole, Olive. And this time we’re taking the GWB (George Washington Bridge) so if we get stuck behind some insecure mouse driving a car that’s too big for his skills, we can just push him off the bridge.” (Just kidding. And people wonder why New Jerseyans are so “gritty.”) The next time Olive goes into The City, it will be only to sign autographs of her book, “My Life with Patti,” at Barnes & Noble.

Getting Detailed

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/19/2011 at 4:15 pm

"Why are baths SO exhausting?"

One of Olive’s least favorite things in the world is getting bathed. She knows it’s coming when I take her into the downstairs bathroom and shut the door behind us. She looks at me like an escaped convict who’s just stumbled upon an unanticipated 25 foot brick wall. I used to be stupid enough to let her watch me gather the oversized towels and drag them into the bathroom along with her. But, the real giveaway is when I put my swimsuit on. This is an undeniable clue. When she sees this, she runs upstairs and does one of two things. She either jumps up on the overstuffed pony print chair that she has claimed as her own and sinks as far down into it as she can, or she runs into my office and curls up into a fetus on the Orvis fleece wraparound bed she has eviscerated at the seams. She is desperately trying to make herself invisible. I gently drag her off either while she fixes her pleading eyes on mine. “OH C’MON OLIVE. IT’S NOT SO BAD. YOU’RE ONLY GETTING DETAILED. IT’S NOT LIKE YOU’RE GETTING WAXED AND BUFFED. AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU’RE NOT A SHOW DOG?” She retreats to the farthest corner of the bathroom deliberately avoiding all eye contact with me. I remove her olive-colored nylon collar with its repeating pattern of brown dog bones. I replace it with her stinkless stainless steel prong collar. It’s the only way I can pivot her inside the shower stall to ensure I’ve not neglected any of the nether bits. I squeeze into the stall after I’ve helped Olive cross its threshold and quickly shut the glass door. I pull the handheld shower spray down and turn on the water. Making sure it’s neither too hot or too cold, I proceed to “rinse” Olive. I love watching the transformation when Olive changes from weimaraner to seal. She goes from her usual grey-taupe to a dark brown-grey. All I can think of when I see this is that she looks like a seal. Not that I’ve ever seen a seal get a bath before, but I imagine them (some of them at least) to be this color. I start with her back, then work my way to the “undercarriage,” the limbs, neck and chest and finally the feet, tail and the trap door in the back. Then I lather her up in mostly organic Lani shampoo, trying to work it into her fur to get down to the skin, and realize that her micron-sized fur makes this next to impossible. I save the nose, ears and dainty head for last, knowing that this is the part she absolutely despises. Then I rinse her and wait for her to shake. She doesn’t. NOT THIS TIME. NOT EVER. NEVER. Not while she’s in the shower. I swear, this is her way of getting even. I’m not about to stand in the shower waiting for her to re-consider, so I open the door. She runs out and shakes ecstatically like she’s just been baptized by a polygamist cult. Droplets of water zip-zip-zip in all directions while she tries to dry herself off by rubbing her entire body on the teal-colored throw rugs. I try toweling her off, but she’s spastically twirling around the room now like a much-too-young-to-be-competing-in-beauty-pageants toddler. She now bites the towel repeatedly trying to engage me in a game of tug-of-war. I open the bathroom door which she barrels through like she’s been shot into outer space. Legs akimbo, she struggles to gain traction on the linoleum floor. She finally comes into contact with the carpeting and proceeds to zoom across the 24’ x 18’ room executing multiple figure eights at supersonic speed. You can hear the carpet screaming.

Fireflies and Bunnies

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/18/2011 at 10:58 pm

"I ate no such thing."

While the end of Spring is fading like the color in an old photograph, the beginning of Summer has already quietly made its entrance with fireflies and bunnies. Olive races around the yard like a little brown ambulance, chasing, and I suppose catching some fireflies. She focuses on her winged-beetle target and then leaps up to snatch them out of the air. Can you imagine having the freedom to fly and then being devoured by another living creature in mid-flight? She also joyfully chases moths, butterflies and bunnies. In an example of being paralyzed by complex decision-making, last week Olive approached four bunnies seated on the front lawn like Congressmen debating the merits of yesterday’s lunch. In an instant, all four bunnies scattered in four different directions. I thought Olive’s head was going to explode. All she could do now was frantically sniff their tracks hoping that there might be a meaty trinket at the end of each trail. There seems to be an abundance of these small brown and white cotton-tailed rodents this year. Possibly because my lawn does not look like a lawn, but a clover-and-weed farm that supplies the rabbit kingdom throughout the world. This year is also the year of the giant toadstool forest. Each heavy rain produces a crop of an exotic variety of toadstools; some the kind that Lewis. G. Carroll must have eaten before penning the LSD-fantasy, “Alice in Wonderland.” I run around harvesting these magic buttons whenever they sprout up so Olive can’t eat them and be magically transported to some imaginary world which costs me thousands of non-imaginary dollars to rescue her from. I am always startled by how fast these botanical ornaments grow. At night, there is nothing there and by the next morning, there is a fungal skyscraper the size of the Chrysler Building. I shouldn’t worry too much though. Olive much prefers nibbling on the pockets of glazed black marbles that the deer and bunnies leave behind after dining on our lawn like it’s an agricultural drive-though. “THAT IS SO DISGUSTING OLIVE. DON’T COME NEAR ME WITH THAT MOUTH UNTIL AT LEAST AUGUST.” And the funny thing is, as she’s eating this biological waste, she grimaces like she’s just discovered that they are infinitely more sour than she expected. But of course, this doesn’t stop her. I guess it’s an acquired taste. Perhaps it is the caviar of the canine world.

Turd Tote

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/17/2011 at 7:29 am

"Hey, I MADE that."

There’s nothing like carrying your dog’s poop in a plastic bag while you are walking to make one feel like an idiot. As I pass by school kids, crossing guards and other pedestrians, I try to hide the presence of the little fecal purse by being very animated. Perhaps this will divert attention from the little green bag dangling by my side as if it’s a parasitic twin. Olive prances ahead, head held high as if to proclaim, “Where for art my bag of crappeth? Being carried by my loyal subject of course!” As our walk continues, while Olive has her medium-sized brown nose criss-crossing the terrain like a tiny hovercraft, my eyes criss-cross streets lined with Victorian homes, searching desperately for a garbage can on the sidewalk or one that’s accessible to me without being arrested for trespassing. “Cripes. Garbage Day was yesterday. I’m going to have to carry this thing for miles.” Most of the cans are forest green, so they blend into the surroundings. And then, there are the new “charity cans,” bright, Barbie-pink trash cans that support breast cancer. I already donate to a number of cancer charities, but when I see these cans I think. “My God, I’d donate $1,000 just not to have this eyesore in front of my house.” The other morning, I looked out the kitchen window and saw what I thought was a person down the street, just standing idly in front of a neighbor’s driveway like a buoy. “That’s weird,” I thought. Until I take out my binoculars and confirm that it’s not a person. It’s one of these ridiculous garbage cans. Really, isn’t the world we live in today noisy enough without added “visual noise” like this? Olive and I live in a fairly rural area and these pink cans stand at attention at the end of driveways like giant erasers visible from hundreds of feet away. Can you imagine what they’d look like in urban areas? By now, I’m so tired of carrying the turd tote, I feel like just flinging it into the air like it’s a skeet target. And all of a sudden, a nasty-looking trash can, one whose lid looks like it has been seriously nibbled away by squirrel-beavers, stands before me on the sidewalk in front of a home that is either (sadly) occupied by very old people or a band of drugstore cowboys. The house is in grave disrepair. Another few years and it looks like it will have to be condemned. Whomever lives here is neither going to notice or care that I’ve dropped a bag of dogshit into their garbage can. I use just my pinky to gingerly open the rodent-bitten lid, toss the bag in, and gag momentarily before letting the lid drop. Olive just watches. She looks up at me as though I’ve just given away her left kidney. “Don’t worry Olive, you’ll make more.”

Octostick

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/11/2011 at 10:39 am

"I see dead STICKS!"

Late Thursday night, when I took Olive out after the thunderstorm, we barely made it out of the garage before she begins barking like a banshee and shrinking back from something she obviously finds threatening. I squint my astigmatic eyes and step out a few feet to trigger the motion sensor lights. I do a quick visual scan of the front yard and there it is. While I am always afraid of coming face to face with a bear, the intruder that Olive is barking at is…a leafy bough that has fallen from the tree and lays like a beached Blue Whale on the front lawn. This dog has a gestalt mind; always recognizing “things out of their place.” I sigh with relief, grateful that I don’t have to protect my pooch and myself from being used as a toothpick and then torn apart and eaten by one of the American black bears that have already been roaming the neighborhood like zombies. However, Olive will not stop barking until I have confronted the motionless interloper. I walk out to the middle of the yard to retrieve the “Creature from The Black Lagoon,” dragging Olive behind me on her flexi-leash. It’s one of the few times it’s not unspooling like an off-track rollercoaster. She continues to bark intermittently as she charges forward, sideways and backward as if she’s as animated checker on a checkerboard, changing her mind instantaneously and repeatedly before making a definitive move. Olive is incredibly agile, executing 180-degree turns in fast forward (and reverse) with the grace of famous French trapeze artist Jules Leotard. It is funny to watch. “FOR GOD’S SAKE OLIVE, IT’S ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS. A STICK. AND IT HAS MULTIPLE HEADS.” For emphasis I add, “IT IS THE OCTOPUS OF STICKS!” I drag the bough across the lawn and driveway and place it next to the garbage can. It will probably stay there a week before I feel like cutting it apart to dispose of it. Olive runs over to inspect the captured prey, cautiously sniffing it. By the third sniff, she sinks her teeth into the injured branch. “HAPPY?” I ask Olive. She ignores me as the sawdust starts flying.

Stranger Biscuits

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/09/2011 at 6:34 am

"Do I LOOK like an easy mark?"

As Olive and I were on the last paw of our morning walk, we passed the discount gas station we pass every morning. Usually we just say “Hi” or “Good Morning,” to the gas jockeys. On this morning though, one of the gas jockeys approaches me to ask if he can give Olive a biscuit. At least he asked. Because he was holding up, not a complete biscuit, but half of one. That wouldn’t have been so bad but for two other bits of information. One, the artificial red coloring looked like the biscuit had been dropped into a can of brick-colored paint. You could distinctly see the “layer” of manufactured coloring on the biscuit. But the worst part was that I think this guy had been CLEANING OUT HIS CAR. Typical male. He probably thought to himself, “Hey, look, half a dog biscuit,” never stopping to think that it may have been trapped in the bowels of his dirty car amidst all the greasy junk food wrappers, crumpled empty cigarette packs, and God knows what else for the last three years. Yes, most people have good intentions. This is what we say when people don’t stop to think before they act. I look at the biscuit which seems to be decaying in front of my eyes, probably wrinkling my brow and curling my upper lip and say, “Uh, thanks, but she’s got a really sensitive stomach.” I can’t recall exactly what he said next, but it was something to the effect of “Are you sure?” I look him in the eye this time and say “Yeah, I think I’ll pass. I already have to pick up her poop with a straw.” He chuckles and backs away. I walk away thinking, am I THAT paranoid or was there about 4 things wrong with this situation? And just for the record, I half lied. Olive does have a sensitive digestive tract, but only a third to half of her poops resemble cow pies, but that’s a whole different story. Can you imagine my organic foodie pooch eating this petrified biscuit? The dog who won’t even drink out of her water bowl if there is any whisker dirt or kibble floaters present? Olive and I walk away and I am tempted to turn around to see if this guy eats the half biscuit himself.

Weimaraner on Parade

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/05/2011 at 7:45 am

"Don't hate me becuase I'm BEAUTIFUL."

Last week, when Olive and I went for our morning walk, we were a bit later than usual and ended up encountering the staging of the local Memorial Day Parade. On this bright, sunny day, we passed bright red fire trucks spewing handfuls of candy, antique cars filled with antique local politicians, a revolutionary war-outfitted band and bazillions of children jacked up on sugar. Olive is pretty much enthralled, excited about the prospect of licking so many people, especially the food-stained boys and girls. Once in a while when one of the trucks or cars passes by and blows their horn right in front of us, Olive’s ears retreat like two wounded soldiers and she hops like a jackrabbit behind me for safety. Instead of just standing on the sidewalk like two deeply-rooted plants, Olive and I follow the parade down Main Street, mirroring the procession from the sidewalk. The air is punctuated with the sound of “oohs” and “aahs.” “Beautiful dog.” “Gorgeous dog.” “What a great face.” “Is she the parade mascot?” “How cute!” “Nice-looking dog you got there.” With each compliment, Olive’s chest seems to fill with pride, yet never interrupting her naturally graceful gait. We also pass a few garden-variety dogs every few yards and all of a sudden, what pops out from the sidewalk crowd but another weimaraner! Olive is always happy to meet one of her fellow brethren. The time usually devoted to the sniffing of naughty bits is significantly reduced when Olive meets “one of her own.” There seems to be an instinctual understanding between the two and they begin playing almost immediately. So far, we’ve been lucky. While the weims we’ve met may not be as naturally gregarious as Olive, they’ve been friendly. I worked hard to socialize Olive, especially when she was between 12-16 weeks old, which they say is the most important window for doing so. Sometimes, I’m afraid I’ve made her too friendly. She is innately trusting of strange dogs and people, so I have to closely monitor all “initial greetings,” to essentially protect Olive from her own naiveté. I chat with the dog’s owner and family for a couple of minutes and Olive and I continue on our walk. “Your dog is so pretty.” “Great looking dog!” “What a beautiful dog.” “Is that a weimaraner?” The compliments are always delivered in the same way. With a slight tone of incredulity. As if they can’t quite believe what they are seeing; that witnessing Olive’s beauty is like seeing an artistic masterpiece where you least expect it. Or like unexpectedly discovering one of the world’s natural wonders in your backyard. We continue walking and run into our friends, Susie, Perry, Ryan and Gail. Olive is always happy to see them and like the grifter she is, immediately tries to pilfer 2 year-old Ryan’s Pepperidge Farm Goldfish snacks. Olive thinks they should extend the line to include tiny birds. Even though it’s a holiday and we’re watching a parade, it’s just another beautiful day on Main Street U.S.A.

Dog Tired

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners on 06/04/2011 at 3:57 pm

"Don't BOTHER me."

Boy am I tired. I went to the dog park this morning! I made lots of new friends. The Border Collie was a little nutty. He thought we were all sheep. I thought they were supposed to be smart. All he wanted to do was round us all up. I ask you, do I look anything like some matronly sheep? God forbid. Besides, nobody tells me what to do. (Except Patti). Where are my Manolo Blahniks? The cobalt blue cheetah print with the 6-inch heels. I want to eat them. Anyway, I liked the Boxer-Redbone Coonhound mix. A little skittish, but my age and she likes to run too. The German Shepherd was obsessed with a dopey ball. Constantly chasing it as if every time were the first time. And these are the dogs that they use to guide blind people? Hope nobody tosses a ball the dog’s way when they’re crossing a highway. I think I smell cheese. Where did I leave my Nylabone with the orange dental niblets? Maybe I’ll go mess up the bed in the guest bedroom. Where did my friend Willy go? I miss him. I like to watch Patti walk around the entire house calling me, often passing me two or more times curled up in my pony chair in the dining room as though I were invisible. That’s when I channel my inner “Grey Ghost.” What are those fuzzy white things on the lawn that stick to my muzzle? You should see the hole I dug in the backyard the other day. I can see clear to China! Look! There’s the Great Wall? Wait a minute…is that a giant pen? Do I have dirt on my nose? It’s always a dead giveaway. Patti sees it right away and knows there’s a new hole somewhere nearby. At least I don’t bury things, right? Well, not yet anyway. I have to take a nap. Do I snore?

Genuinely Genius

In weimaraners on 06/01/2011 at 6:23 pm

"Just call me YODA."

At lunchtime today in the coma-inducing heat and spine-weakening humidity, I filled Olive’s little blue plastic pool with water and tossed her glow-in-the-dark ball in along with her raspberry pink Kong-like ring. Unlike last year, she now confidently thrusts her snout below the surface, sometimes right up to her amber and blue-ringed eyeballs to retrieve her drowned toys. She’s become a pro at plunging, snatching and running and seems to take great pleasure in her ability to do so with ease. And then something incredible happened. Purely by accident. I discovered today that Olive is capable of associating the right word with the right soundindependently of the sound being made. Standing outside the pool, staring at the pink ring lying at the bottom of the pool like she’s just discovered an unrecorded shipwreck, I say, “Olive, get the ring-ring.” To my astonishment, she raises her head sharply entering a state of “high alert,” looks around and frantically races to both ends of her pen searching for WHOMEVER IS AT OUR FRONT DOOR RINGING OUR DOORBELL. Now, I did not teach her to do this. Nor did I make the SOUND of a doorbell like “RRRIIIINNGG, RRRIIINNNGG.” I simply said “Get the ring-ring.” Thinking this was just a coincidence, I pick up the pink vulcanized rubber ring and toss it back into the pool. In the exact same way I repeat my command, “Olive, get the ring-ring.” Again, she takes off like an out-of-control locomotive, trying to get to the front door. Clearly, she wants to greet the guest standing on the welcome mat out front that says “Wipe your Paws.” I am momentarily struck dumb. She obviously associates the words ring-ring with the ringing of a doorbell. I knew Olive was intelligent, but now I look at her with as much awe as respect. I call the breeder today leaving this message: “Hi Deborah. I just wanted you to know that out of the litter of 11, you gave me the genius dog. I think I’m going to try to teach her Latin. Maybe I’ll send her to law school.” “OLIVE. STOP LICKING YOURSELF AND GO AUTOGRAPH YOUR HEAD SHOTS.” Now every time she looks at me, I wonder what the hell she REALLY’S thinking, because she’s thinking, that’s for sure.

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