Patti Soldavini

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Nicknames

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/29/2011 at 1:30 pm

"Did you CALL?"

I love assigning nicknames to people and pets. They are usually so much more appropriate than their given names. When we name babies, their names become self-fulfilling prophecies; expectations and destinies to live up to. All before the child has taken a step or uttered a word. It makes me chuckle and shake my head when I hear the names that some celebrities give their children…all in the drive to impart a sense of “specialness” and “uniqueness” upon their offspring. They give them names like “Apple,” “Kal-El,” “Maddox,” “Fifi Trixibelle,” “Ocean,” “Tu,” “Zuma,” “Moxie Crimefighter,” and of course, “Prince Michael II,” and “Blanket.” And yes, “Pilot Inspektor.” It will likely take a whole lot of character and self-esteem to weather all the unwanted attention and bullying when they are in school. On the other hand, we tend to name our pets based on either how they look or how they behave. Which when you think about it makes more sense. Many years ago, Italian ancestors took on surnames that were based on, among other things, a distinguishing characteristic. For example, the surname Da Zoppa means “Son of the Cripple,” and Magnavacca means “Eat a cow.” This is probably the genesis from where latter day mafia nicknames originated, as in Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero, and Bobby “Bacala” Baccalieri.” Originally, I thought about naming Olive, “Rocket” because she zoomed around the house at high speed and used all the furniture as launching pads, but it seemed too masculine and sounded dopey when I called it out. With this all being said, I have many nicknames for Olive, most based on some aspect of her behavior or her anatomy. For example, when she is barking too much, I refer to her as either “Noisebox,” or “French Horn.” When she’s just all tweaked up with pent up energy, I call her “Nuthatch,” “Nut Nut,” or “Crazy Pants.” And when she’s sticking her big proud barrel chest out at me, I remark, “Oh Hi, it’s you Chesty Larue.” Oh, it goes on and on. I’m careful though to use these names to refer to her and not to call her. Otherwise, she’d end up either psycho or just ignore me. “Right Olive?” “OLIVE?”

Olive Jar

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners on 10/29/2011 at 12:41 pm

"MY Jar."

I ask you…How could I not get Olive this handpainted ceramic biscuit jar from Mary Naylor Designs when her name is pictorially represented on it? I actually preferred one of the other designs, but there was no way I could bypass a design that had olives painted on it.

How To Mesmerize a Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/27/2011 at 11:49 am

What is THAT?"

Easy. Just pop popcorn in the microwave or turn on the dishwasher. Olive stands in the kitchen facing the source of the strange sound, and cocks her head back and forth and up and down as though she is playing a symphonic version of “follow the bouncing ball.” She continues to stand there, immobile except for the “head cocks.” Her tail is as silent as a mouse on Christmas Eve. The expression on her face is priceless. It starts out as inquisitive childlike wonder and quickly morphs into unexpected fear when there’s a concentrated burst of popcorn kernals… POP. POP. POP. POP. POP. POP!… or when the water in the dishwasher rushes against the inside of the door like a tsunami. WHOOSH. WHOOSH. WHOOSH. WHOSH. WHOOSH! Then, she runs out of the kitchen into the safety of the dining room like a three-year old who’s just witnessed their sister getting a flu shot. Goofball. Popcorn is one of the few human treats I give Olive. I lie on the couch watching TV and Olive stands next to the couch watching me. One at a time, I toss a popped kernal high into the air, over her head or onto the far end of the couch to make her work for it a little. She snaps them in mid-air as though they are flies who have invaded her personal space. This makes me laugh. Every once in a while, she gags or clears her throat briefly. Like the rest of us, trying to dislodge that blasted yellow kernal shell that’s holding onto her tonsils for dear life. I love watching her leap into the air like a trapeze artist contorting her lithe athletic body into shapes unnatural for a human just to snag the tiny white, fluffy and tasty projectiles coming her way. Olive retains her deep interest as I get up with the empty bowl in my hand and make my way up the stairs to place it into the dishwasher. To her, it is the natural cycle of popcorn evolution.

Bristlers

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/27/2011 at 10:59 am

"Yup, those are my PINS."

This is how I refer to Olive’s whiskers; as “bristlers,” because they are so stiff and prickly that they poke right through my slacks when she lays her head across my lap. Each has the tensile strength of a suspension cable on the George Washington Bridge. (They look deceptively thin and gentle in the photo.) “OUCH! HOLY CHRIST, OLIVE, HAVE YOU BEEN SHARPENING YOUR WHISKERS? I THINK I’M BLEEDING.” Not really, but my lap begins to feel like a pin cushion when she tries to burrow deeper into it like she’s flushing a fox out of a dark den. The first time this happened, I wondered if a Weim’s whiskers were any different than other dogs. I didn’t remember being “pincushioned” by Idgy’s whiskers. Or should I say, vibrissae, which I just learned is what a dog’s whiskers are really called. They are described as “finely tuned sensory structures,” and “while the hairs themselves don’t contain nerve endings, their base is surrounded by erectile tissue and a rich nerve supply.” This sounds like the set-up for a dirty joke, doesn’t it? And then there’s the extra sharpshooting whiskers, two on each side of Olive’s face poking out of the center of moles. I guess these help her navigate her way down the dark hallway while she’s tracking the scent of a micron of day-old food that’s been crushed deep into the nylon fibers of the carpet. So, if the vibrissae are so sensitive, I wonder what it feels like when dogs play with other dogs, mixing it up and “whiskering” each other. I’m guessing it feels pretty good. What do you have to say about this subject Olive? ‘BE QUIET, I’M PLAYING WITH MY WHISKERS.”

Find The Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/22/2011 at 9:11 pm

"Where's Olive?"

Undeniable proof that a weimaraner goes with anything.

Velvet Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/22/2011 at 9:07 pm

"What the hell is VELVET?"

As Olive and I approached the crosswalk in front of the local middle school the other day, the crossing guard enters the street with arms extended protecting us from morning traffic and says, “Whenever I see her coming down the street, all I see is velvet.” “Her” of course, is Princess Olive, the unofficial symbol of the United States Velvet Council. Olive hears this and somehow understands that she’s just been paid a compliment in an indirect, complex manner. She responds physically. Her tool of choice? Her proud unyielding tail. It starts snapping back and forth, creating a stiff breeze. Inevitably, she starts becoming more and more animated. It creates the impression that someone has used her tail as a crank to wind her up. The whole scene reminds me of the animated children’s classic TV show, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” when Rudolph, expressing his joy that the young doe likes him, takes off into the air and flies for the first time. And then, upon his less than graceful landing, his black prosthetic nose pops off to reveal his red blinking honker. When we reach the other side of the street, Olive does what she always does in situations that she is not ready to leave. She jumps up on me, placing her paws on my chest in a subtle display that says “HEY. WAIT A MINUTE. STOP. I WANT TO STICK AROUND HERE FOR A FEW MORE MINUTES.” It is the equivalent of having a three-year old child tugging on the bottom of your coat to stop you from passing the candy store. As much as I always hate doing this, I brush her aside back onto all four feet and say, “HEY NUTCRACKER, LOOK! THERE’S AN OBESE FINCH WITH A BROKEN LEG.” You can actually see the switch in Olive’s brain being re-directed as her head pivots 360-degrees searching to locate this bright yellow delicacy. She’s forgotten the crossing guard.

Caught Red-Pawed

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/16/2011 at 2:11 pm

"I didn't do it."

I don’t know. Do you believe her? Can you tell I just yanked the expensive ball of fresh mozzarella cheese out of her mouth? It was still wrapped but it had at least one puncture wound. Like an idiot, I left it on the new kitchen countertop while I walked out of the room for SECONDS. This dog doesn’t miss a trick. Luckily, I don’t usually leave food out; the cheese was minding its own business as I had just rescued it from the plastic shopping bag in which it was suffocating. So, do I eat the cheese or not? Hell yes. For a $7 ball of cheese, I’ll just irrigate the wound and slice the offending piece away. Not much will keep me from enjoying a fresh mozzarella, sundried tomato and pesto sandwich. I think she’s sorrier that she didn’t eat it before I caught her; the fist-sized ball of soft cheese wrapped in plastic, nestled softly between her powerful molars like a fresh little quail. I’m sure you’ll try again Olive.

On The Road

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/16/2011 at 1:55 pm

"I LIKE the view!"

Yesterday, Olive and I went for a leisurely afternoon drive, winding our way down quiet country roads flecked with smudges of red, orange and gold. Autumn leaves tumble stem over blade, grazing the windshield as the next gust of wind carries them off to another temporary resting place. Olive begins these destination-less trips by poking her head between the two front seats to share the same view I have. She always seems to be slightly amazed by what she sees and tracks the cars in front of us as though they are plump rabbits running away from us. “THIS IS A MUCH BETTER VIEW THAN OUT OF THE REAR OR SIDE WINDOWS ISN’T IT OLIVE?” She looks at me as if to nod “yes,” and goes back to fixating on the view out the windshield. Finally, she settles back down onto the rear bench, maintaining a forward-looking vantage point. As I continue to drive, raising my arm out the window upward as if to high five the wind, I wonder how anyone could ever live someplace where they don’t get to experience the natural magnificence of a Northeastern Fall. It is unthinkable to me. This was a quintessential Autumn day. Cue the marching band at the local football game, pumpkins sitting on doorsteps, the scent of hot cider and donuts wafting through the air and the squeals and giggles of children enjoying a hayride. I swear, days like this make all the hot, humid, stinkbug-filled Summer days and all the frost-bitten, see-your-breath bone-chilling winter days worth it. “WHERE IN GOD’S NAME ARE WE GOING?” says Olive. “I HAVE TO PEE AND I’M GETTING HUNGRY.” Of course she doesn’t verbalize this, but I am exceptionally talented at reading non-verbal communication cues. “OKAY, OKAY, LET ME JUST TAKE A PICTURE OF THIS OLD BARN, THEN WE’LL TURN AROUND AND GO HOME.” My God, it’s like having a two-year old. One who would rather eat diapers than wear them. I look back at Olive’s adorably inquisitive face and I swear I hear, “ARE WE THERE YET?”

Crazy Eyes

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/08/2011 at 7:26 pm

"I'm staring into your SOUL right now."

As Olive and I walked leisurely across the grounds of the local college early yesterday morning, we crossed paths with a student on his way to class. “Good Morning,” I said. “Good morning. How are you?” said the young stranger with the characteristic idealistic tone that only the young and newly independent can enthusiastically muster. “Fine thanks,” I replied. “MAN, YOUR DOG HAS CRAZY EYES,” he noted as we passed. I chuckled. “Ya’ think?”

The Perils of Olive: The Sequel

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/08/2011 at 6:57 pm

"But what does it MEAN?"

If only I had had some tiny board game clue that the day before was only the beginning of a marathon that I didn’t recall signing up for. I awaken and squint my legally blind eyes to try to decipher the Buick-sized digital display on the clock. 7:08am. Thanks you idiot alarm clock. You have just one job to do and you’ve failed to do it. I check the alarm and it is indeed set for 6am. I guess it’s sleeping in today. I change out of my pajamas into clothes faster than Clark Kent turning into Superman. No shower needed as I took one just four hours ago. I grab Olive, run down the stairs, open the garage door and am confronted by torrential sheets of rain. It is worse than when Hurricane Irene came through. Olive looks at me. There is a giant question mark over her head. Simultaneously as this symbol symbolically appears, Olive takes a few steps backward. “ARE YOU INSANE? I’M NOT GOING OUT IN THIS.” she says. I look at her apologetically as I grab my pool blue umbrella and lead her outside. I watch the water pooling all over the front yard. The road in front of the house is already under four inches of water. So this is what they mean by “flash flooding,” I intuit. For once, Olive empties her biological waste tanks quickly as though someone whispered in her ear that there was a sale at Nordstrom’s she didn’t want to miss. I crate her, jump in my car and off I go accompanied by a persistent feeling of a fait accompli. “There’s no way I’m making this appointment today.” I think. “It’s only going to get worse as I travel East.” Sure enough, a short way ahead I see a line of cars trying to squeeze through the one lane tunnel that is choking on 6 inches of water. Eventually, I emerge from the tunnel only to be confronted by an endless unbroken line of angry red taillights. “SCREW THIS,” I pick up my iphone and call the Doctor’s office to re-schedule my appointment. I take the longer way home to avoid using my car as a hovercraft again. Within 10 minutes I’m back home. Olive is perplexed to see me return so quickly but she’s deliriously happy. All is well for about 11 and one half hours. At 8:30pm, we come back in after Olive’s mid-evening dump. I start to towel her off which is an event all in itself. She thinks it’s a game and starts tearing at the towel, making drying her off a fruitless exercise. As the orange and yellow striped towel whips around her head and face, I think I hear Olive start to barf. I quickly pull the towel back and…nothing. That was weird, I think. Until I lift the towel up and a mound of brown puke with mostly undigested food drops on my foot like shepherd’s pie with a distinct and memorable “SPLATZ.” As my brain begins to process this, Olive is still vomiting. I wait until she’s done and then I clean it all up and we go upstairs to watch TV from the couch. At 10pm, on the way to bed, Olive gives a command performance. There is now bitless brown vomit in the bedroom, my office and a small bile-like cluster in the hallway. All on the carpeting. As I give a command performance of my own, I thank God the carpeting has not been replaced yet. Could this be a reaction to the injections she received a day earlier? My guess is probably, but now I’m paranoid enough to sleep little throughout the night, eyeballing Olive next to me to make sure she’s ok. In the morning, I feed her breakfast and watch her closely. Sure enough, within two hours, up comes all her expensive organic dog food. “GUESS WHERE WE’RE GOING TODAY OLIVE? YUP. BACK TO THE VET.” As we wait in the vet’s office, I watch each owner and pet walk through the doors. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. “WTF,” I think, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IS TODAY CAT DAY?” Although Olive doesn’t feel herself, she’s still firing on most of her cylinders every time she sees a cat come through the door. After seeing the vet, we walk out one x-ray, one CBC test, four meds and about $400 less later. No bowel obstruction, thankfully. But wicked gas. Yes, gas. Apparently so much gas, the food couldn’t even squeeze past the foul vapors fermenting in her intestines. Olive is packing more methane gas than a cattle ranch. We go home and I’m so confused about the meds regimen that I feel like a Medicare patient. She gets one an hour before meals on an empty stomach. Another half tablet twice a day when the moon is full. And yet another full tablet once a day when a leprechaun knocks on the door. I actually draft a schedule otherwise I’d never get it right. It’s so detailed, it looks like a friggin’ bus schedule. And just for the record, I do screw up administering one of the pills on this day. “CHRIST OLIVE, YOU’VE GOT 4 MEDS TO TAKE. WHAT KIND OF ROTTING VERMIN DID YOU EAT TO CAUSE ALL THIS? I CAN’T IMAGINE IT WAS WORTH THE FEW SECONDS OF PLEASURE IT CREATED WHEN IT USED YOUR TONGUE AS A SLIDE.” I say this as I make a grand gesture toward Olive who cares only about the greasy little beefy pill pockets she’s about to inhale. Done. I think. I hope. Christ, I’m exhausted. And then the alarm clock goes off. At 7pm.

 

 

The Perils of Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/02/2011 at 7:47 pm

"AGAIN? What Now?"

Where do I even begin? The past three days have been nothing but chaos. Chaos executed with the imbecilic skill of the Marx Brothers. At 8:30 on Tuesday evening, I notice something odd on Olive’s back leg. “WHAT THE HELL?” I think. A cluster of raised bumps, about eight of them right above her “ankle.” I squint my astigmatic eyes and position them about a micron from the offending bumps. I find more running along the inside of her front legs and a few dotting her chest which are beginning to bloom. “HOLY SHIT.” My left brain senses that this is an allergic reaction of some kind. But of course, my irrational right hemisphere is conjuring up all sorts of insane possibilities. I call the Newton Veterinary Hospital who asks me if I “want” to bring her in. That’s like saying, “How much money do you feel like spending tonight?” We agree that if it gets worse and travels to her face and neck, then I have to bring her in because it could affect her breathing. I go back to watching TV, going over to check Olive about every 10 minutes. She is resting comfortably, all curled up on her brown faux suede “UFO,” the bean bag chair she booted me from and claimed as her own. At 10:30, I check on her and it’s clear that it’s only getting worse. Her chest is now covered with a ton of irregularly-shaped pink polka dots. And now there are four bumps on her head. I look at Olive and announce with barely controlled panic, “GET UP. WE’RE GOING FOR A RIDE.” And so the drama begins with a 40-minute ride at night, in the rain, on dark country roads with a driver who has trouble recognizing faces across the room. With her glasses on. In the light. I look in my rearview mirror at Olive sitting in the back seat and mutter, “CHRIST. I HOPE I DON’T KILL US BOTH OLIVE.” We pull up to the veterinary hospital and walk inside. Unlike human emergency centers, this one is empty, save just a mother and her 10 year-old son and their pug. Olive gets weighed and then a thermometer is unceremoniously inserted into her butt (never a dog’s favorite; actually never anyone’s favorite.) The Veterinarian inspects Olive and confirms that she has a moderate case of hives. We discuss what might have caused this. My best guess is that earlier in the day when I took her out to pee, she dragged me to the tree in the front yard, tracking some impressive scent and then dropped to all fours and began rubbing herself on it. (Which after talking to my next door neighbor later on, deduce that it was likely fox urine that she rubbed herself in.) I yanked her up right away but apparently the damage was done. I love when people dispense what they perceive as helpful advice such as “You shouldn’t let your dog do that.” Gee, thanks. That’s like saying, “When you see someone pull the trigger, duck.” Genius. Unfortunately, I’m not a psychic. If I could actually read the minds of dogs (never mind humans), I wouldn’t be writing this blog. I’d be taking a bath in a tub filled with gold. The Vet whisks Olive into the treatment area/emergency room, in which I’m not allowed, to give her two injections: steroids and Benedryl, or the canine equivalent of Benedryl. I hate when they do this. I wish I could be with Olive, but I suppose it’s for the best. About 10 minutes later, Olive prances out into the waiting room. She’s got a white cotton gauze bandage on her leg. I’m instructed to stick around for another 20-30 minutes to make sure she doesn’t have an allergic reaction (déjà vu) to the injections. It’s now about 11:30pm. We walk around checking out the store section and I get a soda. Olive is just happy to be with me and away from needles. She doesn’t have a reaction so I settle up the bill ($219) and we leave. Now I have to find a 24-hour drugstore that sells Benadryl so I can have this on hand in case the hives return. Oh, and when I get home, I have to give Olive a “warm, oatmeal bath.” Olive usually starts nodding out between 8:30 and 9pm, and its now almost 2am. She has more energy yet than I would have imagined. Bath done. Then I shower. Set my alarm for 6am to make a 9am Doctor appointment about 90 minutes away. To be continued…

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