Patti Soldavini

Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Weimaraner Barks Commands

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/31/2012 at 8:36 pm


I’m telling you, the ghosts of the German S.S. must be visiting Olive while she’s sleeping. Yesterday for the first time, I heard a new bark from her. Two quick barks. Distinctly very sharp in tone. I hear this as I’m sitting in the oversized pony print chair in the corner of my dining room. I had just settled my giant pin cushion of an ass into the chair to relax for a minute. “FOR GOD’S SAKE, DO YOU HAVE TO GO OUT AGAIN, OLIVE?” I whined. As I rise from the chair and walk toward the stairs, I feel a breeze slap across my behind as Olive races past me and jumps up into the chair I just climbed out of. “YOU LITTLE SNOT,” I say to Olive who sits in the chair looking quite contented with herself. Now I know what the dual bark signifies. It clearly states “OFF MY CHAIR. NOW.” And lest you think I’m just imagining all this, she just did it to me again tonight.


Two Classic Beauties

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/31/2012 at 8:09 pm

“Wanna’ see me race this thing?”

As Olive and I walked past the local body shop this sun-drenched morning, we watched a beautiful classic old car park across the street. I couldn’t take my eyes of the wide whitewalls. When do you ever see those? A mechanic walks over to it and starts futzing with the door. “HEY, DO YOU MIND IF I USE THE CAR AS A BACKDROP FOR MY DOG?” I ask. I position Olive in front of the bright shiny automobile, and take a few steps backward to get more of the car into frame. I tell Olive to “STAY” and even drop her leash so I can move back even further. I figure it’s part of her off leash training. The sun is bright and it’s early morning so the lighting is going to be harsh; not great for taking pictures so I take just a few. Neither my skill or my iphone camera is going to outwit the sun. Olive gets up once and I put her back into a “stay.”  “GOOD GIRL, OLIVE. WE’RE DONE. LET’S GO.” As we walk further down the street and cars pass us by, I am reminded by how “boxy” automobiles look today, so devoid of the style, grace and beauty of cars from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. Now everything looks like a box. Whether it’s a Mercedes or a Ford. Zero personality. We drive fiberglass and steel cubes. Not beautifully styled pieces of art like our parents drove. And then a more troubling thought occurs to me. Our homes are like boxes. So is the property they sit on; carved up like squares. We go to work in boxes that are either long and flat or so tall and narrow that they almost touch the sky. So much of the food we eat comes in boxes, like cereal and pasta. If you start to think about all the man made objects present on our planet, you’ll find mostly boxes. Is it just our desire for a static sense of order? Is it a symbol of a hyper sense of pragmatism? ‘WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” Olive interjects. “JUST GET ME HOME. I’M SO HUNGRY I’M GOING TO DEVOUR THAT FAKE CANADIAN TOURIST OF A GOOSE STANDING OVER THERE LIKE A LAWN ORNAMENT.” As we continue our walk, I can’t help but think. “CHRIST, NO WONDER SO FEW PEOPLE IN OUR SOCIETY CAN “THINK OUTSIDE THE PROVERBIAL BOX.” It’s not so easy when most of the shapes you encounter every day are boxes and squares. Long live the circle.

Today on Olive’s Outtakes

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/30/2012 at 9:47 pm

What’s Olive got to say about today’s outtake? It’s right here.

Vampira Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/26/2012 at 7:27 am

“Just call me COUNT Dogula.”

Last night was the first time I saw Olive turn into a Vampire. Really, the only thing missing was blood. As I sat around the dining room table with family enjoying a dinner that included bruschetta, Caesar salad, steamed carrots and snap peas, risotto and chicken marsala, my dog kept running into the kitchen wondering where hers was. Mind you, this was after she had eaten her bowl of Eukanuba Lamb and Brown Rice. And as hard as we tried to keep the food at paw’s length from her, I caught her standing over the kitchen sink, craning her long graceful neck deep into its stainless steel well, curling her tongue around the labyrinth of pots and pans, greedily lapping up the chicken marsala gravy swimming in the corner of the glass roasting pan. “OH THIS IS GREAT,” I exclaim. “TONIGHT I’M GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH FECAL FIREWORKS. THIS DOG’S DIGESTIVE SYSTEM IS AS FRAGILE AS A BUTTERFLY’S WINGS.” As I drag Olive away from the sink, I notice a crazed look in her eyes, which actually seem to be glowing a fire engine red. The look is unmistakable. This is the look that Vampires get when they have tasted their first blood. This happens a few times throughout dinner. The next time, I catch her standing over the kitchen table licking a dirty dish that sits in its center. It has been licked clean. So clean, it sparkles like a freshly waxed floor. “OLIVE! OFF!” I command her. She ignores me and she begins licking even more frantically. I feel like I am watching a drug addict who has just stumbled into the pharmaceutical version of CandyLand. I grab her collar and pull her down and back into the dining room. She is now leashed and sitting next to me. Not happily. Just as I am about to swallow a forkful of risotto, Olive starts barking. I look at my watch. Yup. It’s 7:45pm. That means it’s time to leave. Olive is done for the day and wants nothing more than to lie down on some soft object and go to sleep. Sigh. Some days I feel like her schedule, is my schedule. “C’MON OLIVE. LET’S GO HOME. I’M GOING TO PLACE A PEA UNDER YOUR MATTRESS TONIGHT.”

Off Leash Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/24/2012 at 7:53 pm

“Tired yet?”

Two years ago, when I brought this insanely exuberant puppy home, if you had told me that one day she would indeed learn to sit, stay, down stay, come and stay with me, I probably would have cocked my head and looked at you as though you were speaking in tongues. It seemed inconceivable. Olive seemed to epitomize ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The only thing she could focus on for more than one seemingly eternal nanosecond was a bird. Everything else in her life was a momentary distraction. And there were indications of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). The digging and digging and digging and digging and digging. I felt like I had just purchased a backhoe, not a dog. I will frankly admit, and I have before, that in the first few months I had her, I had fleeting feelings of insecurity and intrusive thoughts that maybe I wouldn’t be able to handle this dog. After all, I wasn’t a spring chicken anymore and keeping up with weimaraners is not for the faint of heart. It’s made me understand why there are so many rescues. They are beautiful, graceful athletic-looking dogs, but if you do not allow this breed to get the exercise it needs, it’s like living with Curious George and his demented twin on speed. But I’m no quitter. Besides, Olive was also supernaturally intelligent, laugh-out-loud goofy and extremely loving. I ensured that she got plenty of exercise each day and I socialized her to near exhaustion. We’d go to neighborhood street fairs and parades crowded with people, strollers and sticky-handed toddlers; to soccer games and parks bursting with hyperactive children and colorful frisbees. Even to my friend’s pool and the local pet stores where she was constantly fawned over. I was committed to ensuring that she learned to be friendly, confident and obedient even if it made me mental. During most of this time, Olive also attended obedience training classes. And last night, my incredibly amazing pooch completed her off leash training class. Now the real work begins. I have to make the behaviors a consistent part of her life everyday. The progress she made by last night’s class was very rewarding. Especially since last week’s class was a train wreck. Once she learned she could get away from me because I have only two legs, not four and I’m about 25 times older than her, it was hard to get her back on track. Shelley, her trainer, had to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting with Olive and for the last 15 minutes of class, She kept getting her leash “popped,” and kept looking in my direction until she wised up and obeyed Shelley’s commands. It was not pretty to watch. But it worked. I am truly amazed at how attuned Shelley is to dogs’ behaviors. It’s like watching two people assuredly conversing in a foreign language and I stand by like the idiot American abroad who understands nothing more of the native language than “Can you please tell me where the ladies room is?” I also admire Shelley’s unfathomable well of patience with both the dogs and their owners. It is all extraordinary to me. Both Olive and I are very thankful and feel incredibly lucky to have found Shelley.

Unicorn Sighting

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/20/2012 at 7:52 pm

“WHAT the heck is THAT?”

I am very pleased with myself for accidently discovering a foolproof way to break up dog fights safely. And instantly. You can distract the dogs immediately and with such impact that they will forget what they were doing before this unique distraction. You can save your dog from being bitten or you from losing a finger or two by instinctively rushing to your dog’s aid and unwittingly becoming a third participant. You can also avoid the crippling fear and high-octane stress that comes with watching your dog getting attacked. And you can pre-empt a possible lawsuit if it’s your dog that’s being overly aggressive. How? It’s called an Air Horn. I now carry a pocket-sized air horn with me when Olive and I are around other dogs. I came across this trinket when I was cleaning my basement a few weeks ago. I vaguely recall buying it at a party goods store. Not sure why I bought it or how I intended to use it. Not sure what I’m going to do with it now, but apparently I still find it intriguing. I stuff it into the pocket of my hoodie and resume tidying up. The next day, I’m at the dog park and two dogs start to get into each other’s grille. The interaction is escalating quickly and it seems very, very close to turning ugly and dangerous. I reach into my pocket, pull out the air horn and give it a quick burst. The high pitched, skull-piercing sound instantly stills the dogs who now stare in my direction like they have just witnessed a unicorn streaking across the sky. Done. Fight over. They each go their own ways. Granted, I’m sure it’s not great for their ears, but a second or two of minor ear pain seems better than the excruciating pain of getting an ear torn off in a fight. And if you own a weimaraner, you have to be especially careful because large veins criss-cross their ears like a road map, and if punctured, these veins will start gushing blood like a geyser. “DON’T WORRY OLIVE. THERE’S NO WAY I’M EVER LETTING ANYTHING LIKE THAT HAPPEN TO YOU.”

Today on Olive’s Outtakes

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/20/2012 at 7:09 pm

Read what Olive has to say about this snapshot.

Protecting Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/20/2012 at 6:56 pm


Have you even been pepper-sprayed? I have. Sort of. Standing in a group at the dog park Saturday morning, I was telling the other human companions why I carry a vial of pepper spray with me whenever I’m out with Olive. As I’m explaining that it makes me feel safer when Olive and I walk past some very aggressive-sounding dogs on our walks, I take out the vial and say “Maybe I should test this thing. It’s over two years old and I’ve never used it.” With that, I turn away from the group and into the gentle wind and spray. A tightly-focused dark orange stream shoots 20 feet through the air. The equivalent of a line drive. “Wow. This thing shoots far,” I remark. “Much farther than I imagined.” Of course, that could be good or bad depending on my aim. Now that my product demonstration is over, I pocket the vial. I glance around to confirm Olive’s whereabouts and listen to the conversation around me. I reach up to scratch an itch on my face. Then my neck. Now I feel like my lips are tingling…and not in a good way. Finally, it dawns on me that tiny particles of pepper spray must have blown back onto me courtesy of the wind. My face gets itchier. My lips are now burning moderately like a Girl Scout campfire. “Christ, I can’t believe I was that stupid,” I think. Apparently my head and face remain their normal size and I’ve not broken out in screaming red welts. In fact no one seems to notice. Olive’s using her nose to tunnel up a new dog’s behind. I think she’s looking for daylight. Me? I’m hoping the itching and burning does not get worse. In fact, I’m hoping it goes away before I have to go to my genealogy seminar in a couple of hours. I have no one to blame but myself. My impulsive nature has gotten the best of me again. “GEE OLIVE, YOU’D BETTER HOPE I NEVER REALLY NEED TO USE THIS. BECAUSE WHO KNOWS WHERE IT WILL END UP.”

Sci-Fi Dog Park

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/14/2012 at 7:39 pm

“HEY! I think I found a ghost!”

Picture me standing in front of the poop bag dispenser at the dog park early Friday evening. Of course, the last clown that used it must have ripped the bag from the roll hanging inside the forest green plastic dispenser so fast that it went spinning into oblivion, leaving no trail protruding from the box. These are the same people that do this in public bathrooms. They yank on the toilet tissue so hard that after they tear off a mile or two, the rest of the roll gets sucked up into the dispenser never to be seen again. What do they think they are, Canadian lumberjacks at a log-rolling competition? I use both hands to pull the bottom tray of the dispenser out so I can thread the roll of plastic bags through the outlet so I and others can access a turd tote when we need one. As the tray detaches from the top of this contraption, I stare in horror at my hands which are now covered with so many black ants that it looks like I’m wearing winter mittens. The bottom drops onto the grass while I watch the ants begin crawling up my wrists. “HOLY SHIT!” I exclaim, as I begin frantically wiping them off me. Olive’s nose seems to be fully engrossed (and I use that term literally and figuratively) in some other environmental rot halfway across the park. She has no idea that I am being attacked by ants. This idea immediately reminds me of the old sci-fi movie, “Them,” in which an atomic explosion created monster-sized ants that crawled around the desert, snacking on tiny pint-sized humans. “GOD THAT’S REVOLTING,” I say to myself, but out loud. Olive trots back over to me either to make sure I’m still here or because she wonders if there’s something more interesting to investigate. Little does she know. Had she witnessed this, she would have been distracted for hours. “HEY OLIVE. GO CRAP WHEREVER YOU WANT. I’M NOT PICKING IT UP TONIGHT. I THINK I DESERVE A FREEBIE.”

Today on Olive’s Outtakes

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/13/2012 at 8:09 am

What’s Olive got to say about this photo? See for yourself.

Introducing Olive’s Outtakes

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/12/2012 at 8:19 pm

Tonight, Olive launches yet another page on this blog: Olive’s Outtakes. I have no idea where she gets all this time, but it makes me think that maybe I would like to be part Weimaraner. Since it’s not possible for me to steal anyone else’s youth, I’ll take the next best thing: the compressed energy of a Weimaraner released in bursts of unrestrained exuberance and unexpected literacy. Olive tells me that her outtakes will be a critical examination of my less than stellar photographs of her. And that she should have plenty of material. And that if I don’t move my ass and start shooting more frequently, she’ll start commenting on other photographs I take that are not of her and why do I waste my time on less worthy subjects? See for yourself.

Fly Farts and Grammar

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/07/2012 at 7:20 pm

“Go ahead. Come CLOSER.”

It’s true. I can smell a fly fart 50 miles away. 60, if he had cheese for dinner.  And as intelligent as I am, I still have difficulty understanding the difference between “scent” and “sent.” The human language often baffles me. You do realize that Gary Larson was correct in what we hear when you are speaking to us, don’t you? “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, OLIVE? “OLIVE? Blah, blah, blah, blah BISCUIT?” “Blah, blah, blah DOG PARK?” Actually, I’m always paying attention to your body language anyway. It’s a much more accurate read of what you are doing or about to do, or what you’re feeling. Question. Doesn’t that make dogs smarter than people then? Just because I may not understand the “hard” things like calculus or engineering just means I haven’t been taught. But the “soft” stuff like body language, instinct, intuition? That’s actually more difficult. Just because it’s not scientific, doesn’t mean it’s not intelligent. It just means science hasn’t figured out a way to explain it yet. Am I making any sense right now? Because I feel incredibly bright and articulate at this moment. Oh look, a stink bug.

New Bond Girl

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/05/2012 at 7:18 pm

“GUESS who I am?”

My dog, bored beyond tears today, re-enacts the opening title sequence to the 1964 movie “Goldfinger.”

Ode to Dirt

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/04/2012 at 7:43 pm

“WHAT dirt on my nose?”

I love dirt. Stinky dirt. Dirty dirt. Dirt that’s old, dirt that’s new, dirt on me, dirt sprayed on you. Wet dirt, dry dirt. Black dirt, brown dirt. Dirt with bugs. Dirt on rugs. Here dirt, there dirt, everywhere some dirt dirt. Dirt on Jill’s nice yellow shirt. Dirt on some guy named Burt. Dirt on glass doors, dirt on tile floors. I love the dirt life, I like to boogie. In fact, I think I’ll make myself a dirt shake right now. Want one?

Driving Miss Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/03/2012 at 7:42 pm

“MUST. Sleep. Now.”

Olive has just started her off-leash training class. If you want to see a dog actually sweat, you should see Olive in class where she is required to summon the mental discipline of a Tibetan monk. And for a dog that is hyper-alert like my two-year old weimaraner, it’s like asking a two-year old child to close their eyes when they enter a candy store. The class starts at 7pm and I realize that I’m going to have to contend with “Princess Whiner” when the clock strikes 8pm. This is typically when Olive begins to wind down…all the way down. As in “I WANT TO GO TO BED RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW.” She will start to bark and kvetch until we leave. The odds are very good that this little dramatic display will occur prior to 8 tonight because Olive had me up at 5am today with digestive agita. Out in her pen she began repeating cycles of eating grass and then launching what looked like undried tobacco leaves out her poop chute. It is at this moment that I recall that my Great Grandmother worked as a cigar-roller back in prehistoric times. “NONA WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU OLIVE. ESPECIALLY BECAUSE YOU ARE GERMAN AND SHE WAS FROM LUXEMBOURG.” Shelley begins the lesson and as always, Olive catches on faster than I do. Shelley is tremendously in tune with dogs and can elicit the behavior she wants from them in seconds. It is all completely rational when she explains how to train a dog, but for some reason, it is all counter-intuitive to most of the rest of us. I, on the other hand, listen very attentively to the instructions being given and can’t help but feel like I’m trying to absorb how to invent a Rube Goldberg machine. Olive is so focused, that you can see steam wafting out of her ears. I can feel her body temperature rise. She is working so hard to do well that I’m hoping she won’t pass out from mental exhaustion. Tiny cheese treats are being tossed at her from all directions like machine gun spray and she knows she must stay seated and not go after them. It’s like waiting for a balloon to burst. The suspense is nerve-rattling. “OK. OLIVE. GOOD GIRL. THEY’RE ALL YOURS NOW.” After 40 minutes worth of one-on-one instruction, Shelley and I are talking and Olive is now laying on the floor like a beautiful little sphinx. It’s about 7:50pm. Shelley notes, “Look at her, she can’t even keep her eyes open. She’s done for tonight.” I look at Olive, obediently in the same position, her head starting to nod. She’s not even barking. Not yet. In fact, I think she’s so exhausted, she’d sleep here if I let her. “C’MON OLIVE. YOU DID GREAT. WE’RE GOING HOME.” We get in the car, Olive stretches out on the back seat and is asleep in seconds. One class down, three more to go Olive. If she weren’t sleeping, I’m sure she’d roll her eyes at me.

Pinocchio’s Nightmare

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/03/2012 at 6:54 pm

“At your service.”

Olive deserves a bright, shiny medal today. I caught her intently tracking something on the kitchen floor this morning so I walk over, peer under the kitchen table and see a gigantic Queen carpenter ant, complete with slender translucent wings, making her way toward the bare wooden floor in the dining room. “HOLY SHIT OLIVE. QUICK, HIDE YOUR PINOCCHIO TOY. IT’S A QUEEN ANT,” I exclaim as the toe of my loafer comes crushing down on the crunchy jet-black insect. Olive runs over to inspect the mangled corpse, her big brown nose sniffing at it so closely that if she sniffs just a little too vigorously, I’m sure the ant carcass will find its way on a log flume ride up through Olive’s sinus cavity. Disgusted, but very pleased with Olive’s discovery, I delicately pluck the dead Queen from the tile floor in a paper towel and flip it in the garbage. As usual, Olive observes all my movements like a prison matron, waiting for any opportunity that has even the tiniest prayer of exposing food vulnerable to one of her “snatch and run” maneuvers. I try to explain the difference between Carpenter Ants and Carpenter Bees to Olive. “YES, THEY ARE BOTH WOODWORKERS, OLIVE.” A little like you, now that I think about it. In fact, you might want to think about hiding your sticks from them. Because they are in our airspace and our ground space. You have no idea, Olive, but you just destroyed an entire militia of ants so I award you the highest medal of canine honor. Now what are you going to do about the bees?

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