Patti Soldavini

Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

Tick Tock Tail

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/30/2011 at 7:08 pm

"Stop STARING at my tail."

The world’s cutest tail. Resting.

Santa Dog

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/29/2011 at 6:57 pm

"Is it really YOU Santa?"

The only thing more surprising to Olive on this morning’s walk would have been if she ran into the Red and Yellow “M&M’s” characters. Yes, Olive. To those of us who believe, they all exist.

Canine Couture Challenges

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/28/2011 at 8:45 am

"My shadow is BIGGER than yours."

Trying to find a stylish parka that properly fits a Weimaraner is like trying to find a diamond in a turd. Impossible. 99 percent of the “outerwear” for dogs are made for small Hummel-like flat-chested dogs with much larger bellies. Against my better judgment, I ordered a smart-looking citron-colored winter parka for Olive. It was distinctive, just like Olive. Why an artificial dog coat? The last time Olive and I were at the dog park, she was noticeably cold. I can tell by her non-verbal behavior. When she’s either had enough or she’s cold, she trots over to me and just stands at my side, idling quietly like a Prius. And it was cold that day. About 34 degrees. It wouldn’t be so bad if the dog park weren’t at the top of a mountain that based on a confluence of scientific factors, makes it so windy, it feels like you’re at the top of the North Pole. In fact, on occasion, I think I glimpse an elf squatting in the nearby woods. It is at least 10+ degrees colder at the dog park than anywhere else around it. “LET’S GO OLIVE. IT’S SO COLD UP HERE I THINK MY INTERNAL ORGANS ARE TURNING INTO MEAT-FLAVORED ICE POPS.” I feverishly anticipate the arrival of Olive’s new winter coat and when it comes, I tear open the bag like a heroin addict. I am not disappointed by the color; it is striking. But, my excitement is deflated as I lay it over Olive and try to secure it. Now here is the fundamental problem and a new business opportunity for some dog clothier. Certain dog breeds, like Weimaraners, Greyhounds, Boxers, etc. have deep barrel chests and tiny child-like waists. Most dog outerwear doesn’t account for this, so trying to close the Velcro straps around Olive’s chest is like trying to squeeze a training bra onto Marilyn Monroe. And the Velcro straps around Olive’s waist dangle like a hooker’s earrings about six inches below her. It’s maddening. I finally found a dog parka that fit Olive at Tickners, the local feed and farm store. They had a limited palette of earth tones, but at least this brand got the function part of the design right. Adjustable straps. Genius. “WHICH COLOR DO YOU LIKE OLIVE? NAVY BLUE OR CHOCOLATE BROWN?” “DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO ASK?” she drools. “THE BROWN ONE,” said Olive. It fits perfectly and it does not restrict her ability to run like a pronghorn around the dog park. If only I could say the same for the dog “neck hoodie” I put on Olive. It fit fine, but within seconds, I realized it was not a good idea to wear this accessory to the dog park. The other dogs immediately picked up on this vestigial accoutrement as something to seize on when playing. Just like children on the playground, they immediately zero in on a point of vulnerability and go on the offensive. Animals. I quickly tear the hoodie off Olive and restore her super powers. “FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET. MORE POWERFUL THAN A LOCOMOTIVE. ABLE TO LEAP TALL BUILDINGS IN A SINGLE BOUND. LOOK UP IN THE SKY! IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A PLANE! IT’S SUPER OLIVE!”

23 Circles

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/25/2011 at 9:14 pm

"HOW many times did you say?"

I’m not sure if this is a typical Weimaraner behavior trait or an Olive behavior trait, but when Olive settles down to sleep, she twirls around in circles like a drunken ballerina. Not two or three times like most dogs but anywhere between 7 and 23 times. I’m not kidding. It is comical to watch. First she starts out counter clockwise, then in the middle of her OCD routine, she pivots and starts circling in a clockwise rotation. When satisfied that she has performed this ritual in a manner that pleases the “Number Gods,” she collapses in a heap and curls herself so tightly, that her little grey tail has almost inserted itself into one of her nostrils. This morning, I realized that these numbers may hold some unanticipated significance. They are prime numbers. Either my dog is practicing some secret mathematical exercises or she is trying to tell me something. Christ, I better start paying more attention. What if the fate of our planet depends on my being able to decipher these behavioral hieroglyphics? Actually, I’d stand a better chance of decoding this than solving a mathematical puzzle. “A dog is chasing a woodchuck from Schenectady to Sarasota. The dog is running 10 miles an hour three-quarters of the time. At the midway point, the dog stops to eat a fish from a stream that is 170 miles away from a shuffleboard court in Miami. At what point will the dog realize that the woodchuck is already sunning himself on Clearwater Beach?” This is how all math word problems seemed to me when I was a kid. They may as well have been in Farsi. Thank God, I have a dog who can teach me now. Maybe I just needed to see the teacher spin herself around and around impersonating prime numbers before I’d get it. Oh well. “OLIVE. COULD YOU PLEASE DO AN INTERPRETIVE DANCE THAT EXPLAINS LONG DIVISION?”

Weimaraner Hood Ornament

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/23/2011 at 8:11 pm

"Yeah, looks like you're wearing dog ears."

When I first got Olive, I’d put her in the cargo area of my Saturn Vue. I thought this was the best place for her. Until two things happened. One, she would often bark and bark and bark and drive me insane. Two, for some reason, I got paranoid about the hatch latch popping open while I was driving and Olive would tumble out onto the roadway. Maybe the second reason was a conveniently manufactured solution to reason number one. The minute I removed Olive from the cargo area and treated her like a living being instead of a suitcase, she immediately stopped barking. The back seat now felt like First-Class. I realized pretty quickly, that she was simply happier being in close proximity to me. And I admit, I liked it too. I try to keep her seated or lying back there but she’ll occasionally venture closer poking her head between the two front seats and putting her front paws on the aisle box to get a better view out the front windshield. When she does this, I admire her profile. “OLIVE. YOU LOOK LIKE A HOOD ORNAMENT. GET BACK DOWN.” And for a second, her sleek graceful appearance reminds me of the hood ornament on the 1951 Pontiac Chieftan I was told my Mother used to drive when she was in her 20s. For those of you not familiar with it, it is an amber-colored Indian Chief head that lights up. How cool is that? Hood ornament design during that time was truly a work of art. I mean, they called it an “ornament” for a reason. An element of style that sadly is missing from most cars today. Now at best, we have cold, soul-less chrome logos welded onto the hoods of ridiculously expensive luxury cars. Olive knows none of this, so she really can’t appreciate what a beautiful hood ornament mold she’d make. However, she does respond immediately to the burger I am about to take a bite of. Like a contortionist with a Native American Indian’s talent for approaching silently, she gently tries to nibble at the end of the exposed burger bun. Mind you, at this point, part of it is in my mouth (and yes, I’m driving), and I swear she thinks she’s being polite as she makes a delicate approach. My hand snaps back like a fly swatter creating a barrier between my vulnerable burger and her porcelain chiclets. I immediately flash back to when, on family drives, my Dad used to half turn around while he was driving with the back of his arm and hand raised, threatening to smack my brothers and sister and me if we didn’t stop fighting. All it took was the threat. It was very effective. Olive looks at me quizzically as if to ask, “WHAT?” I return her gaze with an incredulous look that says, “REALLY?” We know each other’s non-verbal expressions so well, it’s a bit frightening. I now wonder if when I put my small black earmuffs on and she gently starts nibbling on them like she’s nibbling on another dog’s ears, does she think they are small burgers or that I am wearing another dog’s ears?

I Am Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/23/2011 at 6:50 pm

"I could have been called CRICKET?"

While I was straightening up my office the other day I came across the sheets of paper I used when considering what to name Olive. I couldn’t help but think now that I know Olive, did I choose the right name? Is there a name on this list that might have been better based on who she is turning out to be? To my delight, the answer is “No,” but it was fun to run through the list which included: Skye, Sienna, Cricket, Zooey, Willow, Luna, Addy, Snowpea, Harpo, Rocket, Scout, Oreo, Orbit, Rider, Jade, Inky, Echo, Giggles, Gumby, Haley, Hope, Autumn, Juno, Brioni, Quince, Luca, and Cleo. And then a friend suggested “Olive,” and for some reason that just felt right. Call it kismet. Which would also be a cool name for a dog. “OLIVE. PLEASE BRING A SNOWPEA TO THE CRICKET STANDING UNDER THE WILLOW TREE DRESSED IN A BRIONI SUIT EATING AN OREO COOKIE WHILE WAITING FOR THE ROCKET TO IGNITE.” (That was fun.)

Pheasantopia

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/19/2011 at 4:37 pm

Welcome to Pheasantopia. Home of the thousands of cage-raised pheasants that escaped from the Rockport Pheasant Farm after the Snoctober storm. They are EVERYWHERE. In my back yard, on my front lawn and across the street in the recently plowed corn fields. The males seem to outnumber the females and walk around with their burnt umber chests proudly thrust forward, a perfectly even white band separating their green heads from their brown necks. They are much more beautiful than I imagined and look as though they stepped out of a Norman Rockwell illustration. Perhaps that’s because Thanksgiving is almost upon us. They are however, not the brightest of birds. How do I know this? Because dozens of them now dot the roadway flattened like Milk Duds. Standing in the front yard at 6:30 yesterday morning, I actually heard a THUD as a car flew by. “THERE GOES ANOTHER ONE, OLIVE.” Except, to our surprise, this one had apparently just been clipped by the car as it rose high and flew across my neighbor’s yard coming to rest on their driveway. Not the best place to land. Privately, I wondered how many lives this bird actually had left. Perhaps this is the same doofus who caused the early morning silence to be rudely punctuated by two drivers laying on their car horns as though they’d slumped over their steering wheels unexpectedly. Thanks, doofus. Now I’m awake. And now that Olive knows I’m awake, she’s awake too. Whether indoors or outdoors, Olive remains transfixed by Pheasantopia, her pin dot pupils radiating intense interest at whatever offenders are trespassing in our yard. The only thing funnier than watching Olive watch the pheasants is listening to Olive watch the pheasants. Hear for yourself. Turn the volume up to hear Olive perfecting her “pheasant whine.”

A Brilliant Weimaraner Mind

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/14/2011 at 7:18 pm

"WTF?"

This is the expression that Olive wears when I speak to her as a peer. “CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT THIS COUNTRY STILL USES 1930s TECHNOLOGY TO DELIVER OUR POWER, OLIVE? UTILITY POLES? REALLY? HAVE YOU EVER LOOKED AT SOME OF THEM CLOSELY? THE EVER-INCREASING EMERGENCY REPAIRS HAVE LEFT THEM LOOKING LIKE A RAT’S NEST OR A CAT’S CRADLE. THE WIRES CRISS-CROSS OVER AND UNDER EACH OTHER, WRAP AROUND TREES AND THEN THE EXTRA WIRE IS LOOPED LIKE A GARDEN HOSE AND HUNG FROM A SPOT ON THE POLE WHERE AN 8-YEAR OLD COULD REACH IT. AND DID YOU KNOW OLIVE THAT ACCORDING TO WIKIPEDIA, ‘UTILITY POLES WERE FIRST USED IN THE MID-19TH CENTURY (1850) WITH TELEGRAPH SYSTEMS STARTING WITH SAMUEL MORSE?’ MORSE. AS IN MORSE CODE. IF YOU AGREE, TAP YOUR PAW THREE TIMES QUICKLY AND THEN ONCE FOR A LONGER DURATION. THIS MEANS WE’VE LET OUR POWER SYSTEM DEGRADE FOR OVER ONE-AND-A-HALF CENTURIES. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…”

Nik-Nik Days

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/11/2011 at 8:56 pm

"Can we GO now?"

“Nik, nik, nik, nik. Nik, nik, nik, nik, nik, nik.” This is a sound that Olive hates. It’s the sound of me tapping the keys on my keyboard. Sometimes I tap so fast, that the sound reminds me of a psychotic poodle’s toenails clicking across a just polished marble floor. She hates this sound because it usually means that I am working for hours on end. Hours that she could be spending in the backyard digging holes and eating fistfuls of clay-packed dirt infused with creepy crawlies. Hours that she could be spending chasing birds, rabbits and pheasants across the fecally-fertilized lawn. Hours that she could be outside walking sniffing the naughty bits of strange dogs… and people. Or hours that she could be spending at the dog park with her dog friends racing around the park’s perimeter at 140 miles per hour. Which by the way, she wasn’t too happy about last week when two Greyhounds, the breed that Olive is routinely and embarrassingly mistaken for, outran her. Olive is not used to being outrun at the dog park. She implicitly understands that her speed is her single biggest advantage over most other dogs. When it’s a “Nik Nik,” day, Olive’s day is more sedate and boring. If she’s behaving, I let her have the run of the house and she usually winds up stretched across the back of the living room couch, gazing out the front window, occasionally barking. If she’s already shown any indication of having a moderate case of “ants-in-the-pants-itis,” running around chewing on anything she can find, then I corral her in my office, where she snuggles up in her bed next to my chair waiting for the moment when I turn to her and say, “Who wants to go for a walkie?” She looks at me with the most transparent expression of yearning I have ever seen. As she cocks her head, her pupils dilate and her tail snaps back and forth with such force that her whole body begins to shake. She’s so excited that I’m afraid if I don’t get her out of the house in 30 seconds, she’s going to self-combust. And then the weim fun and games begin. Downstairs, as I go to put her Frankenprong collar on, she runs away from me. Now she wants to play tag and I should run around the house like an idiot chasing her. When I have a micron of patience, I sit down and wait for her to come to me. She takes her time, the stubborn, independent little beeyotch. Other times, I cheat and hold up a tiny treat and she runs toward me as though I were Pavlov. “Sometimes, Olive, you are very predictable.” This dog would turn her colon inside out just to get a treat.

Working Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/11/2011 at 8:04 pm

"Where the hell is my PENCIL?"

This is Olive doing an impression of me at work. Funny Olive, But not half as funny as you are going to look when you have to use a stall in the ladies room. Try not to eat all the toilet paper before you go.

168 Hours

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/07/2011 at 7:59 pm

(no comment)

7 days without power. 168 jaw-clenching hours. Over 10,000 minutes spent curbing a hair trigger temper. “I DON’T CARE IF YOU HAVE NO LEGS. GET. ACROSS. THE. STREET. NOW.” No cable. No internet. No landline. Nothing but my street mattered right then anyway, but it would have been nice to see or hear the local news. Except for the local politicians who everytime they opened their blowhard mouths, just confirmed their idiocy. Oh, and no water. Because when you live in a beautiful rural area like me, it means you are the owner of a private well…that runs on an electric pump. The loss of heat is nothing compared to the loss of water. Flush the toilet? Fuggedaboutit. Wash your hands? No dice. You have to use antimicrobial baby wipes. Shower? “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.” Only if you are a Comfort Inn VIP Guest or you have a friend lucky enough to have a generator. And because the power lines went down when colossal wet snow-covered tree branches cracked in the dead of night, crushing them and snapping telephone poles in two in the process, the road is closed. Which also means that your newspaper won’t be delivered and your garbage won’t be picked up. But FedEx, UPS and the USPS did not let a “Road Closed” sign deter them from their missions. They delivered. But it gets worse fast. Gas stations within a 5-mile radius are simply “out of gas,” because people lucky enough to own generators are sucking them dry down to the earth’s core. Area restaurants ranging from Panera to 4-star bistros are standing room only, densely-packed hives overpopulated by cranky, angry bees with a bad case of “Bee-O”. Laundromats, never a good place around which to loiter, are veritable tinder boxes, just waiting for the spark that will ignite a brawl. All the local hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts’ are bursting at the seams. Even the roads that are open aren’t immune to this locust-like event. The traffic is spectacular. You’d think people were out Christmas shopping already. EVERYONE is out on the road because NO ONE wants to be inside their cold, pitch black home where their toilets have been transformed into indoor outhouses. The only thing missing is graffiti on the walls of the bathroom that say things like, “Here I sit so brokenhearted, tried to shit and only farted. Yesterday I took a chance, saved a dime and shit in my pants.” (My all-time personal favorite which was scrawled on the inside of a bathroom door at a real campground in Maine.) For the past 7 days, Olive and I might as well have been living inside a tent in Calcutta. She probably minded all of this less than I did, but it severely disrupted both our routines, filling every day with dozens of minor, irritating inconveniences, many of which you don’t even imagine until you’re in a situation like this. I am happy to report that Olive was quite the trooper. Especially since she was essentially tethered to me for 7 days while we traipsed about neighborhoods throughout Northern New Jersey like Monty Python searching for the Holy Grail. We slept at our neighbor’s who lives behind us. We’d get up in the morning and go back to our house, check on things there, I’d feed Olive and let her out, then I’d get changed in the dark, trying to balance a flashlight in one hand and my pants in the other, and then we’d both go into the office. After work, we’d go over to a friend’s house, shower, have dinner and hang out there awhile. Then we’d make our way over to another friend’s house where I did a giant load of laundry and then it was back to our neighbor’s to sleep and start the insane routine all over again. I think what made it all worthwhile for Olive was that she got to sleep in the single pull-out bed with me for five nights. She’d sleep soundly, curled up next to me, never getting up once. Although it was funny to watch her expressions when people walked “above us.” Her head would jerk up and you could tell she was getting ready to bark, trying to determine what was making the noise and whether it was a threat to our safety. Her head cocked slightly, teeth barely exposed as half of her lip curled, and her pupils microscopic, frozen with interest. I would quietly plead with her to keep her bird hole shut. She’d look at me somewhat incredulously and then sink back down into the bed, safely tucked close to me. Since she doesn’t normally sleep in my bed, it was a nice, comforting treat, and a nice way to end each shitty day. Only I had to go to bed every night disturbed by the knowledge that the fact that this country relies on toothpicks strung together with dental floss to create its power system is a national disgrace. Olive, just snored contentedly next to me. We worry about different things.

The 7 Weimaraner Dwarfs

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/06/2011 at 9:14 pm

"What the hell is a DWARF?"

Okay, after giving it much thought, here’s what I would name the 7 Weimaraner Dwarfs: Farty, Jumpy, Barky, Chewy, Sniffy, Diggy and Sneaky. And I’d add two more: Smarty and Goofy. Olive has signaled her agreement with a moderate blast followed by a tiny sulfur-scented mushroom cloud.

Distracto

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/06/2011 at 8:38 pm

"What was I doing?"

As I took my crazy little beast outside this evening to deposit her expensive organic dinner, she got a rare treat. (And not the edible kind.) Just as she was about to launch her brown biscuit, what catches her unerring eye? A hot air balloon floating nearby. In what must be the equivalent of pulling up one’s pants as if they are on fire and jumping off the porcelain throne, Olive springs up from a mid-squat and starts racing toward the object, barking like she is the first one to spot an aggressively approaching UFO. “WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO- WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO.” I see the fur along the length of her spine, raising from the nape of her neck to the base of her tail. It gives the appearance of being darker than the rest of her taupe coat, making it look like a stripe. “WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO.” Now, I do find this very amusing. Even though as you may know if you read this blog regularly, that I am cursed when I bring Olive out to potty. My dog, who is so alert that she can detect an imperceptible shift in the fabric of the universe, is distracted from her impending biological need almost every time I bring her out to complete this task. If it’s not a bicyclist or jogger going by, it’s a neighbor pulling into or out of their driveway. Or the postman pulling up to the mailbox or the sanitation truck pulling up to our trash can. Yesterday, it was two escapee pheasants from the local pheasant farm which was unfortunately, badly damaged during the Snoctober event earlier in the week. I thought Olive was going to have a seizure as she watched these two delicately framed convicts race across our back yard. “REALLY, I THINK. WHAT NEXT? WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY DISTRACT MY DOG? MAYBE THE CHESHIRE CAT’S HEAD WILL APPEAR IN THE SKY.” I try to divert Olive’s attention away from the hot air balloon but she is fixated on this object as it bounces lazily across the cold blue winter-like sky in her line of sight. “LET’S GO BACK INSIDE OLIVE. I THINK I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM.”

Snoctober Storm

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/04/2011 at 8:57 pm

"WTF?"

Hey everyone, it’s SNOWING! I LOVE snow. I eat snowballs as big as softballs. They’re like soft ice cubes. Oh, the pellet stove just came on. I love that too. I also like to use my front paw to pick at spots on the ground where I suspect vermin or some other tasty tidbit is hiding. My toes are cold. Oh, there’s another tree cracking. What time is it? Did I eat dinner yet? I also like to burrow my nose beneath the snow just because it feels good. And maybe because there might be some stinky vermin below. (Sniff. Sniff. Sniff.) The gophers are back. They stink. They’re kind of dumb animals too. They dig tunnels that leave giant raised ridges. How dumb is that? Why not just leave a calling card? “HI! I’M A STUPID GOPHER. JUST FOLLOW MY TRAIL. FILTHY PRIZE AT THE END.” Oops. Patti just tripped over her laptop cord then stepped on my hard plastic bone with the raised orange dental ridges. I sharpen my teeth on those. Then she fell on top of my Orvis bed. I can’t make out the words she’s screaming but it’s not pretty. OH MY GOD, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD IS ON NOW. ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITES. OH BAR-BARA… How come there aren’t any zombie dogs in this movie? I’m hungry again. (Lick. Lick. Lick.) The stinkbugs are finally gone. My bowls are back in the kitchen. Uh-oh, the lights just went out.

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