Patti Soldavini

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Celebridog

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/29/2012 at 9:49 am

“I’m an INSTIGATOR???”

Yesterday, Olive and I went to visit Blue, the “celebridog” made famous by local author Kim Kavin in her new book, “Little Boy Blue,” and Blue’s new companion Ginger, another rescue dog. While Olive is always well-behaved, she is quite rambunctious. I’ve said this many times before; she literally thunders through the house like a small antelope during mating season. And while she has a very sweet, loving temperament and is always eager to please, her level of exuberance cannot be matched even on the Richter scale. I love this about her because it is such an innocent manifestation of her joy simply to be alive, and be a dog. In some ways, it is a reminder about how we might live our own lives; to be happy, have fun and live in the present. But sometimes, Olive’s exuberance makes her a little instigator – thrusting and parrying with other dogs, nipping at their ears and necks in an effort to get them to chase her. It can be a little intimidating to any dog who is a bit fearful or submissive and it doesn’t help when Olive starts to vocalize. It sounds like a cross between a low, sustained growl and a trilling and sounds I admit, a bit intimidating. While I am confident that she wouldn’t hurt the other dog, the other dog doesn’t know that, so I always go on high alert when Olive starts to “sing” like a frustrated loon. I’m actually afraid that Olive is going to get bit one day while playing this “game.” But luckily, on this day, with Blue whom Olive knows, and the more cautious Ginger who she met for the first time, Olive was very playful. While Kim and I chatted, Olive, Blue and Ginger raced around the fenced-in snow-covered backyard like three first-graders who were just told that school was cancelled for the day. While I sat inside, the thought did occur to me, “This is great. Olive gets to play with other dogs and run around and I don’t have to stand outside at the dog park and freeze.” About an hour after we arrived, my often predictable dog goes to the front door of the house and barks repeatedly. This is Olive’s way of signaling that she wants to leave – and probably eat. She is quite clear about her needs and expressing them, more so than most people. “LET’S GO. I WANT TO EAT NOW. NOW. NOW. NOW.” “Well, I guess we’re leaving because my little wolverine has to eat.” To learn more about Blue and his story, you can check out his Facebook page and order Kim’s book here.

Weimaraner Angel

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners on 11/26/2012 at 8:07 pm

Amen.

A halo. Undeniable proof that Olive is an angel.

Dog Manners

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/26/2012 at 7:58 pm

“Where are the NAPKINS?”

So, if Olive wipes her mouth along the bottom of the couch after she’s done eating, is that evidence of good behavior or bad? I mean, she’s using the couch as a napkin. The fact that she feels the need to wipe her mouth means she has good manners, right? I just wish she’d stop using the couch. She must have read my mind, because now she does not limit herself to the couch. Now, she alternates between the couch, the side of the mattress and for the first time, I saw her wipe her mouth using the coats dangling on hooks downstairs. To Olive, any piece of fabric is a napkin, ergo the world is Olive’s napkin. This dog cracks me up.

Olive’s Christmas Card

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/19/2012 at 7:36 pm

“Are we done yet?”

This year, I thought it would be fun to sit for a photo session with Olive to create this season’s Christmas card. Of course, the conventional “two-shot” of human and pooch would not do. It would have to be more creative. I considered different ideas and a variety of props. Antlers for Olive were out of the question. She flings anything off her head like a slingshot. And while they fit better on a human head, there was no way I was going to wear them. Shamefully, I admit, we tried both anyway. Olive does look better in them than I do. Let’s start with the basics. “Olive, where is your fire engine red cable knit sweater?” It was easier to figure out what Olive would wear; her wardrobe is much smaller than mine. I run out to Wal-Mart for some holiday “props,” and return with four boxes of colored Christmas lights, three sets of white snowflake Christmas lights, two big gold glitter bows, and a dead partridge in a pear tree. Just kidding about the last one. At home, I clumsily rummage through the plastic containers of seasonal décor which I have yet to yank out of the closet. Within reach is a cheap Santa’s hat, soft fuzzy brown antlers with small reindeer heads at their apex, and William Wegman’s “The Night Before Christmas” book. Not bad. These will do. I call my friend Jill and ask her to come along because I think she’ll have fun and she can be the principal “dog wrangler.” I thought this shoot might be a bit more challenging than Olive’s glamour session last year because in this session, she’d be going through more costume changes than Lady Gaga. It was going to be important to manage Olive’s patience and her desire to eat all the props. Inside the studio, under the hot lights, I remove Olive’s virgin wool sweater and ignore her question about what’s a virgin wool. It’s a good thing I “buffed” her before leaving the house. Too lazy to give her a shower before we came, I took the easy way out and gave her what some refer to as a “French whore’s bath.” I tore off a few paper towels, wet them under the bathroom faucet and ran it over her face and torso. For some reason, I felt compelled to clean her little pink armpits as well. Then, I had the brilliant idea of buffing her with a brand new chamois cloth. “My God Olive, I think it’s working. You actually look shinier.” It did work. Jill arrives at my house and the first words out of her mouth are “Olive looks absolutely radiant!” Kismet. “Maybe that’s because her AKC name is Watchpoint ‘n Camelot’s Radiance.” Yes, True ‘Dat. At the shoot, we try lots of different scenarios and props. Olive as always is curious beyond measure but unfailingly well-behaved. She looks good in anything. I can’t say the same for me. I feel like Mrs. Claus’s fatter sister. Olive starts to get antsy at about the 75-minute mark. What a trooper. She now looks like she does in the photo above with Tracy, her professional personal photographer. Like she’s just eaten a sour patch kid and is still constipated. We try one more set-up and believe it or not, this one will probably yield the best pictures. But you’ll have to wait to see those. Now I have to figure out how to allow Olive to autograph them. And P.S., that’s who I named Olive after, the little dog in the book and movie, “Olive, The Other Reindeer,” because I liked the name and it was a nod to the late Idgy, the Wonder Dog who actually looked like the cartoon Olive.

Take Out Food

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/19/2012 at 6:48 am

“WHERE is the PRIZE?”

Olive, who sometimes behaves like a wolverine when it comes to food, simply cannot wait for me to refill her food container, bring it upstairs and prepare her dinner. I guess to her, this is Take Out.

Reading Dogs Minds

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/18/2012 at 7:21 pm

“Are you talkin’ about ME?”

At the local dog park the other afternoon, Andy, a dog park “regular,” turns to me and says “Hey. I think Olive is about to ‘go.’ I can tell by the look…” “YOU CAN TELL BY WHAT, THE LOOK ON HER ASS?” I say. Actually, you can tell by the look on Olive’s ass when she is getting ready to drop a lawn cigar. Her docked tail actually becomes a little more erect and she starts walking very fast but taking very tiny steps as she does it. Then, BOOM. She finds the magic spot and leaves a package. Which I then have to retrieve…like a dog. And I learned very quickly to pre-open the poop bags the minute we get to the park so I don’t have to struggle with them like the plastic bags at the grocery store. You know, the ones that take MINUTES to open after rubbing your thumb and index finger against them so hard and so long that you fear it will ignite in a ball of flames? This way, I can minimize the time I spend standing over the aromatic pile of freshly baked brownies Olive’s just served up.

The Joy of Dog

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/18/2012 at 7:00 pm

“THAT was a funky smell. Even to me.”

One of the best things about going for walks with Olive in the Fall is watching her unabashed joy at leaping through countless piles of fallen leaves. This dog, the one who loves to jam her head into holes and dark crevices of any kind, thrusts her snout into these delicate man made mountains and barely comes up for air. As she runs through the pile, I am reminded of my own childhood, when my brother and our friends did the same thing. We’d actually bury ourselves under piles on the lawn and jump into and out of them for hours. It was such great simple fun. This memory is so strong, it actually brings back a “scent memory.” I close my eyes and I recall a very woody, chestnutty scent. “ARE YOU HAVING FUN OLIVE?” She hesitates a second or two to look at me, then returns to prancing through the pile, using her nose alternately as a vacuum cleaner and a rabbit-turd detector. I love experiencing her joy as she experiences it herself on this unseasonably warm, sunny afternoon in the park I used to play in as a child. In moments like these, I feel like I’ve come full circle.

 

Hurricane Sandy: Part 3

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/11/2012 at 6:35 pm

“But I LIKE the treats in the LITTERBOX.”

It’s the morning after Hurricane Sandy and Olive and I get up in a house that remains in blackout. “Ugh. No power Olive.” And thus begins the days and nights of thousands of inconveniences. Before I do anything, I have to reach for the Coleman lantern. Only then can I find my glasses. And even these cannot compensate for the pre-sunrise darkness. No matter where I go throughout the house, I have to hold this bright but clunky lantern at my side like a freakin’ miner. I go to the bathroom and although I have a well whose pump is powered electrically, there is still water in the toilet tank so I can flush. Thank God for small favors. I take Olive out and begin to survey the damage. “Not so bad Olive, just three panels of the stockade fence blown down near the property line. We were very lucky. Now we have to go to Kari and Mike’s so I can take a shower.” Because they were smart enough to get a generator after last year’s “Snoctober” storm. As Olive and I drive on one of the back roads to my friend’s house (not the best decision, considering it is such a beautiful rural road precisely because of all the tress that canopy the street), I see trees leaning at 45 degree angles all over the place. Including over the road. With electrical wires dangling everywhere. It looks like someone flung a bunch of Lincoln logs and black string in all directions. “Holy shit Olive. I wonder if we’ll make it through to the top without having to turn around.” Miraculously we do. But not before seeing a giant tree leaning on top of a house, smack in its center, a van crumpled like a piece of paper into a ball, telephone poles snapped in two like toothpicks and trees hovering over the roadway straining against telephone wires. We spend much of the day at my friend’s house. Olive spends much of the day getting squirted by the water bottle because she is driving Max, the black and white cat she knows, crazy. “Where is Olive,” I ask? Kari replies: “She’s under the kitchen table licking her wounds,” meaning that she had just gotten sprayed. Thankfully, the spray bottle is a powerful behavior modification tool for Olive. Because when she’s not getting in Max’s grille, she’s in the laundry room, quietly but quickly gobbling up all the prizes in the kitty litter box. I catch her in mid-gobble. “For God’s sake Olive, you look like a binge eater who just left an Overeater’s Anonymous meeting. Drop it. NOW.” After awhile, we leave. I put the key in the ignition and Olive sidles up next to my face and looks at me. I get an unmistakable whiff of cat shit.

Hurricane Sandy: Part 2

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/11/2012 at 5:51 pm

“I have to do WHAT WHERE?”

This is the face of the dog who has just been instructed to go “do her business” outside during the 30 minutes prior to the Hurricane’s landfall. Understand that on non-Hurricane days, Olive despises going outside when it’s just raining. The wind is a different story. Usually she enjoys gusts of wind. Possibly because it blows a neverending cornucopia of scents her way like an aerial buffet. But the wind tonight is a different story. Olive and I stand inside the garage while I deliberate the next move. “Olive, see that newspaper on the floor over there, go potty on it.” She looks at me as though I have completely lost my mind. “I CAN’T GO ON THAT. IT’S INSIDE THE HOUSE. YOU TAUGHT ME NOT TO GO POTTY INSIDE THE HOUSE.” “It’s not the house, it’s the garage. Just go.” Silence. Olive stares right through me as though I am an apparition. “YOU KNOW I ONLY GO ON GRASS. NOT ON SIDEWALKS. NOT ON DRIVEWAYS. NOT ON CONCRETE. NOT ON GRAVEL. AND NOT ON NEWSPAPER. JUST GRASS.” “Okay, well then put on your seat belt because it’s going to be one hell of an adventure.” The garage door is climbing toward the ceiling and Olive, who has run to the door like she always does, now stops dead in her tracks when she gets a look at what’s outside. “This was your choice Olive. Go potty and be fast.” As the rain and wind slap her in the face, her eyes become narrow slits. Thankfully she pees quickly. But nothing else. “Well, Olive, I hope you realize, you’re going to have to hold onto those lawn cigars until morning.” Which sometimes isn’t a problem. Sometimes, Olive holds her solid bowels all night as though she is quietly polishing a diamond. Other nights, she leaves enough behind to build a log cabin. I don’t get it. She eats the same thing every day. It’s always a crap shoot with this dog. Right Olive?

Hurricane Sandy: Part 1

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/09/2012 at 8:15 pm

“Is this what they call BUNK beds?”

Where do I begin? On Monday, October 29th, the Day of “Frankenstorm,” Olive and I spent the day atypically, watching TV. Early in the day, the wind started to pick up noticeably. It shook the trees, making the tops of them sway like hula dancers. And the fine drizzle that began around 11am was now transformed into a hail of needles slicing sideways through the wind. It didn’t really seem that unusual. However, the three days prior were cloaked in an unusually heavy grey cloud cover. Looking at the horizon, it felt like a big grey pool cover was placed over this corner of the earth. It’s important to note that when our friendly TV meteorologists announce that a hurricane is headed our way, South Jerseyans have a party while North Jerseyans yawn and simply go about their business. Inland we usually just get lots of rain and some wind and that’s it. Now that I think of it, why are weather reporters called meteorologists when they do not report on meteor showers or meteorites that fall to earth? But having gone through last year’s “Snowtober” storm and losing power for eight days when three telephone poles in front of my house snapped in two, I’m not taking any chances this time. I filled the car with gas, did a load of laundry, and showered. I also filled two large plastic storage containers with water and placed them in the tub. I didn’t have to worry about getting bottled water because I have six to eight cases in the house at all times because I buy them in bulk. It’s about 1pm and I glance out the living room window and watch the trees being thrashed back and forth in moderate winds. I call my friend down the street and as one of us is talking I say, “What the hell? Why are there two COCONUTS on the front lawn?” My brain knows they can’t possibly be coconuts, but my eyes say coconuts. I excuse myself from our conversation and go outside to discover that these coconuts are actually two of my faux oil-rubbed bronze solar lights. I pick them up and the other four that were still tethered to their stakes and bring them into the garage. I believe all potential missiles are now accounted for. As the afternoon begins to fade away, the wind gusts become more powerful and more frequent. This is Olive’s finely-tuned biological cue to run downstairs into the darkened bathroom and alternately whine, cry and bark. She does this on and off for the next few hours. For the first time I think, “This is going to be one long night.” I had planned for Olive and I to sleep in the living room because if the monster century-old tree in the backyard falls, it will come crashing down on the master and guest bedrooms. It’s now between four and 6pm and the house posts and beams begin to actually creak. Frequently. The Wizard of Oz ditty floats to the forefront of my brain, “The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch.” Olive does not like this at all. I’ve noticed that because weimaraners are so hyper alert they do not like random, unpredictable motion or sound. Olive’s head snaps around and she looks at me for reassurance. “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? SHOULD I BE WORRIED?” I look directly at Olive and purr, “Everything’s fine Olive. You have nothing to worry about.” She seems to accept my tone of voice as confirmation that she’s safe. Until the next creak. Which prompts the next head snap. Again and again and again. It’s now 8pm and Frankenstorm has made landfall about 100 miles away in South Jersey. Like clockwork, the power goes out. In an instant, our nice warm contemporary home has been transformed into a Taliban cave. The wind starts to howl loudly and actually whistle. Some of the gusts are so powerful, I am afraid the house is going to be air lifted from its foundation. In between the furious gusts is constant wind that sounds like a freight train hurtling down the tracks. “Screw this Olive, we’re going to sleep in the basement.” I go downstairs with Olive trailing me very closely. I open the pull-out couch, throw some blankets on it and place the Coleman battery-powered lantern on a chair next to the bed. I try to read. It’s impossible. The wind is frightening. I keep waiting to hear a tree snap and drop onto the house like a two-ton hammer. Olive is very restless. She keeps getting up and just standing on the bed. I try repeatedly to get her to lie down. “This is going to be an even longer night than I originally thought.” The wind howls and whistles and screams incessantly for the next five hours. I am conscious of the fact that I now feel like the subject in the Edvard Munch painting, “The Scream.” We’ve never experienced anything like this up here. If I wanted to live through this kind of event repeatedly, I’d move to Florida. And the 70mph winds we’re getting is nothing compared to what they get elsewhere and what the Jersey Shore is getting battered by right now. I lie in bed in the dark checking Facebook and trading posts with friends. Olive is now next to me curled up in a little brown ball. I finally fall asleep by about 1am. Five hours later I open my eyes and ears and am met with a deafening silence. It is eerily quiet. One, because the storm has passed and two because we still have no power. “Thank Christ that’s over Olive.” Olive opens her eyes and lifts her head towards me in a very familiar and expectant way. To her, it is no different from any other morning. Hurricane or no hurricane, my little food whore wants her breakfast. To be continued…

Olive in Stickland

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/02/2012 at 10:15 am

“I feel like Alice in STICKLAND!”

And to Olive’s amazement and glee, it “rained” sticks during Hurricane Superstorm Sandy.

%d bloggers like this: