Patti Soldavini

Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Headless Bird Found on Cloudless Morning

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/25/2012 at 10:35 am

"So many birds and so little time."

Well, I guess it was bound to happen. How long do you think it would be before I would have to remove some dead animal carcass from my property? The answer? Not long. Upon waking, I took Olive out on a beautiful cloudless morning to empty her biological canisters. Because the weather has already been unseasonably warm, the birds are back. All of them. Thousands upon thousands of them. Ancestors, in-laws, illegitimate offspring, you name it. My yard backs up against the historic Morris Canal which nature has elegantly turned into an incredible organic aviary. You can hear bazillions of birds singing, tweeting, lyrically expressing themselves. It is actually incredibly beautiful. You’d think you were trekking through the amazon. Of course, this is titillating, frustrating and ironic for my biologically-bred “bird dog.” Poor Olive. There are so many birds zipping across the property, she doesn’t even know where to look first. Of course, this only heightens her ADHD-like attention span, distracting her endlessly from the task at hand. “OLIVE. PLEASE GO POTTY. I’D LIKE TO GET BACK IN THE HOUSE BEFORE THE NEXT SOLAR ECLIPSE.” On this particular morning though, Olive makes a beeline for some raised object on the front lawn. I can tell by the way she’s crouching like a tiger while advancing upon it, that it must be an animal of some kind. I tighten her flexi-leash so she can’t get to it before I can and lo and behold, it’s a dead robin. Wings splayed out to their sides, empty abdomen and…no head. “GOD, THAT’S GROSS,” I mutter aloud. Olive barely noses it before I pull her back. I bring her in the house and wipe off her nose and whiskers, hoping that there is no necrotic bacterial dust microscopically attached to her whiskers. I grab the “carcass” shovel and head back out to the front yard. As I scoop up the remains, I start looking around for the head by swiveling mine all around. I don’t need Olive coming back into the house with a cootified dismembered bird head in her mouth. I walk around in circles for a few minutes, before I decide that whatever killed the bird must have either taken the head as a trophy or eaten it as dessert. “I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU OLIVE, BUT SUDDENLY, I’M NOT AT ALL HUNGRY THIS MORNING.”

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Weimaraner Confronts Giant Fossil Bug

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/25/2012 at 9:48 am

"Yikes!"

Olive’s first encounter with organic sculptures that resemble oversized insects.

The Dog Park Application Odyssey

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/25/2012 at 9:36 am

"Was all THAT really necessary?"

What a week. I spent an inordinate number of hours trying to get Olive “approved” for membership to one of the local dog parks. The one in the wealthy, snobby town with property taxes that exceed $20,000 a year for most of the homes that dot its landscape. First, I had to apply for a dog license for Olive in the township we live in. The only reason I didn’t do this when I first got her was that you can’t apply before a dog has had its rabies shot. Olive didn’t get her first rabies shot until she was about 5 months old, which is fairly standard. But according to the township paperwork, Olive would have had to have another rabies shot two months later just to meet their administrative requirements. “SCREW THAT,” I thought. “I’M NOT DOUBLE-DOSING OLIVE JUST SO SOME CLERK HAS AN EASIER JOB.” So, Olive has remained license-free until now. Besides, many weims have adverse reactions to vaccinations and while I’m lucky that Olive has not, I didn’t know that at the time. So, I fill out the paperwork, provide proof of rabies vaccination and mail it to the township. In a few days, Olive’s dog license arrives. One down, one to go. I pull the dog park application down from the website of the other township. My eyes widen as I review it and the attached legal waiver. They require so much evidence that after I’m done reading the application, I’m surprised they don’t want to paw print her and perform a cavity search. It’s starting to look like it would be easier to get Olive admitted to the bar. Not only do I have to demonstrate proof of rabies, spaying, distemper, bordatella, but I also have to show proof that she’s on heartworm medication and that she’s had a negative fecal test for the infamous giardia in the past six months. Then, Olive’s veterinarian has to sign the application. I also have to have a witness sign the liability waiver. Maybe the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles should take a page out of this book. In the end, I don’t really mind, although it doesn’t stop people who are not members from bringing dogs who don’t meet all these criteria to the park. No township in their right mind wants to “staff” a dog park because they might as well just hold up a sign (especially in the culturally litigious state of New Jersey) that says “Referee for lawsuits.” I drop off the application at the Vet’s for signature, pick it up the next day and then take it to the neighboring township’s municipal building where I am presented with yet another metal dog tag to place on Olive’s collar. There are now so many tags on her collar that she sounds like she’s playing the xylophone whenever she moves.

Weimaraner Captured in Learning Moment

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/18/2012 at 7:08 pm

"So THAT'S how it's done."

I love capturing Olive’s expression during a “learning moment.” Just like a child, you can actually “see” the wheels turning inside their little half-empty heads. Of course, I think she’s observing how the sliding glass door opens, but maybe she’s contemplating something entirely different. Perhaps she’s silently mapping the longitude and latitude of the American Red Robin sunbathing on the lawn inside her pen, a transgression that will not go unnoticed or unpunished by Olive. “CALM DOWN OLIVE. THE WHOLE BIRD IS PROBABLY LESS THAN 500 CALORIES. IT’S NOT EVEN WORTH USING TO PICK YOUR TEETH.” Olive’s focus breaks for a split second before she re-directs it back to the oblivious avian tart again. She remains so still, you can barely tell she’s breathing. I have a choice. I can either stand here and observe this mental challenge for another 5 minutes or I can just yell “BIS-CUIT” loudly and watch Olive race up the stairs to the kitchen faster than a Formula race car. Works every time. “HERE’S YOUR BISCUIT OLIVE. NO, I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THEY DON’T COME IN BIRD FLAVORS.”

Intellectually and Verbally Gifted Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/18/2012 at 10:15 am

"Trees DO resemble life."

The thought occurred to me the other day, “Why do I ask Olive if she wants to go to the ‘dog park?’” When you take a child to the park, you don’t say you’re going to the “child park.” Why not just, “the park?” Trouble is, now Olive knows what the words “dog park” mean. When she hears me utter these words, no matter how quietly, her nose lights up and she starts spinning faster than Linda Blair’s head in the original “Exorcist,” movie. God forbid I utter these words when I’m not planning on taking her at that moment. Yes, just like a child, I have to spell the words d-o-g p-a-r-k if I’m talking to another human about it. One morning, when she was lying on the bed, half covered up, I whispered to her ever so faintly, “Olive? Do you want to go to the dog park?” Her pupils immediately dilate and she leaps off the bed like a comet streaking through the sky, tail wagging at the speed of sound, standing there, waiting for me to do the same. Now I must comply. However, I imagine Olive would act the same way if I just said the word “park.” She is smart enough to comprehend and to communicate her needs. Last night, we were at a friend’s house, sitting outdoors in front of a roaring fire while Olive chomped on sticks. Sure enough at around 8pm, she starts barking insistently in my direction. This is her way of telling me she’s tired and wants to go home. Sure enough, after about five minutes in the car, she’s stretched out in the back seat sleeping peacefully, snoring moderately. She remains this way the entire 45-minute ride home. Somedays I think of her as a gifted child. Other days I think of her as a special needs child. Either way, she requires a lot of attention. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Olive Materializes at Dog Park

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/16/2012 at 7:43 pm

"Here I am."

“Now I see you, you little monkey. You know yesterday when someone asked me who watches you when I go away, I said, First of all, I don’t go away, and second, the only person I can trust ‘Curious George’ with is her trainer, Shelley. That’s right, I think it’s quite apt that I refer to you as the mischievous monkey with the insatiably inquisitive personality. What foul treasure do you have your nose in right now?” Olive and I spent a gloriously sunny 70-degree afternoon at one of the local dog parks on Wednesday when I enjoyed a rare day off work. It’s true. A tired Weimaraner is a happy Weimaraner. Within minutes of getting home, my pooch was zonked out on the couch with her head resting on the orange microfiber pillow, quietly snoring. This has become one of my most favorite sounds in the world. Such contentedness.

Olive Hides at The Dog Park

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/16/2012 at 7:19 pm

"Patti, where are you?"

“Olive. Where are you? I can’t see you.” The weimaraner’s neutral taupe color makes it easy for it to blend into its surroundings. Except snowscapes. There, they stand out like tiny deer sans antlers.

Weimaraner-Colored Car

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/16/2012 at 6:54 pm

"There goes another rodent."

In the early afternoon light today, the color of this car perfectly matched the color of Olive’s coat. Perhaps a weimaraner would make the ideal decorative hood ornament on cars this color. “NO OLIVE, THIS IS NOT A TYPO. I SAID HOOD, NOT FOOD.”

The Weimaraner Chicken Thief Adventure

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/10/2012 at 11:20 am

"Yes Master, it was a biological imperative."

I deserved this one. The other night, I placed a freshly roasted chicken on top of the counter while I left Olive in the kitchen unattended, eating her dinner. Meanwhile I sat in the dining room less than six feet from her as she hungrily munched away. It seemed like just seconds later I hear a “PLOP.” Instantly, I know what’s happened. It definitely sounded like the chicken taking a swan dive off the counter. I race into the kitchen just in time to see the still warm bird splattered across the floor; its carcass in pieces; the flesh angrily dislodged from its bones. “FOR GOD’S SAKE OLIVE, WAS THIS REALLY NECESSARY? YOU JUST HAD SOME FOR DINNER.” I try to keep her at bay while I scoop up the carcass, quickly snatch a solitary bone and toss it all into the trash. Now I’m on all fours myself, with my ass facing Jupiter, wiping the aromatic grease spill off the floor while Olive stands nearby quietly idling like an electric car, clearly aware that she should stay out of the way but biologically incapable of doing so. She starts licking the tile floor at the perimeter of the epicenter of the disaster. It was my own damn fault. Anyone who owns a weimaraner knows that the kitchen counters belong to them. Maybe I need to sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on the countertops to take back ownership. Maybe my little chicken thief will think twice the next time she observes food lounging on the counter.

Discovering Olive’s Paw Preference

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/10/2012 at 10:37 am

"Is she KIDDING me?"

I have come to the conclusion that Olive is right-pawed. As opposed to left-pawed or the even rarer, “quad-pawed,” which would make her doubly ambidextrous. How do I know this? Not from watching her try to pick things up with her paws, although she tries valiantly. Sometimes I can sense her utter frustration at not having thumbs. Like when she tries to pick up a ball when the Frisbee is already clenched between her teeth. I swear I can hear her yell, “WHY THE HELL DON’T I HAVE THUMBS!!!” She reluctantly drops the Frisbee, snatches the ball and then tries to jam the Frisbee into her mouth at the same time. Then she drops the ball, retrieves the Frisbee and the circus starts all over again. It is comical. No, I discovered Olive’s paw preference much more organically. When she comes inside after having been out in her pen digging for buried treasure, I march her straight into the downstairs bathroom, prod her into the shower stall and rinse off her perfect little feet. “GIVE ME THIS PAW OLIVE. NOW THAT ONE. LIFT UP THIS ONE. ONE MORE PAW AND WE’RE DONE.” More times than not I noticed, three of the paws are moderately dirty. But the fourth paw? The right front one? Filthy. I can spray it for days and there are colonies of dirt still present. So I conclude, that must be the paw that she prefers to use to do all the excavating. Now that I know this, I am going to find ways to validate her paw preference. Maybe I’ll ask her to say the pledge of allegiance, which of course requires her to put her right paw over her heart. Or perhaps, I’ll ask her to swear on a bible to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” while raising her right paw. “OLIVE. WOULD YOU PLEASE OPEN UP THIS BOTTLE OF DIET STEWART’S ROOT BEER FOR ME?”

The Incredibly Nimble Cookie Thief

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/03/2012 at 10:36 am

"What happened to my cookie?"

As I sat in my office, working at my computer the other night, I heard the familiar sound of packaging crinkling as it was being spindled. I sensed a semi-frantic effort to get to its contents. Without hesitation, I bolt upright in my chair and yell “OLIVE!” She is of course, nowhere to be seen. The crinkling continues unabated. “OLIVE?” I repeat loudly in the hopes that my voice distracts her momentarily. “OLIVE! I MAY NOT HAVE EYES IN THE BACK OF MY HEAD BUT I DO HAVE EARS THERE.” Silence. For just a few seconds. More crinkling. I race down the hallway and into the second floor loft-style dining room. From this vantage point, I spot my pooch standing in the living room below like a deer trapped in the headlights of an oncoming car. A white plastic wrapped oatmeal raisin cookie dangles from her mouth precariously, held in place just barely by her tiny, perfect porcelain incisors. Her pupils are dilated to the size of pool covers. Her tail wags energetically if slightly apprehensively. I interpret this as a dare to come downstairs and try to retrieve the package from her. Another showdown. To be effective, it requires that I channel Julius Caesar. “HERE I COME, OLIVE. DROP IT. DROP IT NOW. NOW!” As I approach her, she goes into pre-flight mode. All at once, all four legs tense, bend and she lowers her whole body. She is preparing to take off. The end of the wrapped cookie is still safely clenched between her teeth. “OLIVE. DID YOU KNOW THAT RAISINS ARE POISONOUS TO DOGS?” She just stares at me, trying to anticipate my next move. I reach out and gently grab the other end of the wrapper. “OLIVE. LET GO.” And after thinking about it for a few seconds, she does. ‘GOOD GIRL, OLIVE.” I examine the wrapper and unbelievably there aren’t even any holes in it. And the cookie has not been crushed. As I walk upstairs into the kitchen, I open the wrapper and eat the cookie before Olive can see me.  Unless of course, she has eyes in the back of her head.

Olive Reads The Letters of E.B. White

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/02/2012 at 6:33 pm

"My God, of COURSE I can read."

I also enjoy Gunter Grass novels. Like “Katz and Maus,” and “Dog Years.” I found “The Tin Drum,” very disturbing though. So I ate it. I think I may have also eaten a book by Herman Ebbinghaus, but I can’t recall for sure. What? Did you think I read only the backs of dog food packaging? Or Jack London novels? Please, I’m a weimaraner, not some common canine. I can even write. What the hell do you think you’re reading right now? I have no ghost writer. I AM the ghost writer of this blog.

Weimaraner Licks Squirrel to Death

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/02/2012 at 12:12 pm

"Maybe I did, maybe I didn't."

Always listen to the tiny voice inside your head. The one that intuits that something is not quite right. Such as “WHY IS OLIVE SPENDING AN UNUSUAL AMOUNT OF TIME IN THE FAR CORNER OF HER PEN? She usually runs to this corner because it gets muddy when it rains and it makes it easier for her to dig a hole until she reaches the earth’s core. I don’t know what she thinks she’s going to find there. Perhaps the answer to one of life’s greatest mysteries—how planet Earth formed—will be unearthed. Or, maybe she’ll find that the earth’s core is really just all of a previous planet’s garbage compressed into a seismic landfill. And like a ball of clay, God keeps molding new planets from old when we wear them out. Or maybe she’ll discover a petrified piece of Juicy Fruit gum. Olive’s obsessive preoccupation with the corner of her pen is revealed the next day when finally, I walk outside to see what she’s up to. There it is. On the outer perimeter of her pen’s black chain link fence, trapped between the fence and the railroad tie retaining wall is a dead squirrel. “GREAT,” I announce to no one in particular, “ANOTHER DEAD ANIMAL I HAVE TO PICK UP.” Its back is laying right up against the fence, so while Olive couldn’t really nibble on it, she could certainly sniff and lick it. As I make my way to the garage to fetch the garden cultivator which does secondary duty as a rodent removal system, I wonder what the state of rigor mortis will be. Will the squirrel be as stiff as a board and as light as a kernal of popped popcorn? Or will it be as limber as a spaghetti noodle and heavy? Gross. As I carefully perch atop the four-foot retaining wall, I tentatively work the long-handled garden cultivator into the 12-inch crevice. I ladle the dead squirrel up while Olive watches from inside her pen with rapt attention. “HUH, IT’S PRETTY LIGHT,” I notice. I gingerly pull it all the way up, careful not to drop it. As I walk down the driveway with Chip ‘n Dale’s cousin, I silently marvel about how well honed my rodent removal skills have become when suddenly, Rocky, the no-longer flying squirrel tumbles off his steel stretcher. “SHIT, NOW I HAVE TO PICK IT UP AGAIN.” Olive hasn’t taken her eyes off us yet. I scoop the fuzzy grey carcass back up, walk across the street and fling it into the empty cornfield which is now populated by the ghosts of many pheasants. Thank God that cornfield is big enough to hold herds of elephants.

Olive Plays Hide ‘n Seek

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/02/2012 at 9:55 am

"She'll never find me here."

Olive playing Hide ‘n Seek. I know you’re in here somewhere Olive. It’s too bad I can’t find you because I need someone to guard the roast turkey sitting all alone on top of the kitchen counter.

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