Patti Soldavini

Archive for the ‘lifestyle’ Category

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.

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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.

Dog Sitting Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/28/2012 at 6:42 pm

“Can I EAT this thing?”

A couple of weekends ago, 10 friends and relatives and I trekked down to historic Eastern State Penitentiary to experience their annual Terror Behind The Walls Halloween event. I had wanted to do this for years but wouldn’t go by myself and can’t stand driving to Philly. I feel safer driving around New York. Downtown Philly is a convoluted maze of one-way streets, roads as narrow as the birth canal, and really crappy signage. But acting as the group’s social director, I talked everyone into forking over $37 for a ticket and taking a two-hour ride. Since Olive had only recently gotten over her kennel cough, I wasn’t keen about leaving her anywhere. Luckily for me (and Olive), Katie, one of my good friend’s twenty-something year old daughter agreed to dog sit Olive. I made little trick or treat bags for everyone, filled with everything from plastic spiders and witches’ fingers to candy corn, M&M’s and topped off by one plump nutritious Royal Gala Apple. I also included a green glow necklace in each bag. In hindsight, this was a brilliant addition. By wearing them, we were able to immediately spot each other in the dark no matter where we were inside the penitentiary. Suffice to say, Terror Behind The Walls is an incredible experience. We screamed and laughed the whole way through and are still talking about it. I have been ruined. There is no way I can ever go to any other “Haunted House,” as it will never live up to this experience. Every so often, when we are standing in line, waiting to gain entrance to the “exhibit,” Olive pops into my head. I wonder what she’s doing right now. Is she behaving? Or is she barking like a nut? If you guessed the latter, you would be correct. I arrive home around 11:30pm and as I open the door to the house, am greeted by my tired but still alert poochie. “Hi Katie. Thanks for watching Olive. How was she?” “She barked a lot.” “Yeah, that’s my little nut,” I say while I drape my green glow necklace around Olive’s neck which she immediately tries to eat. She races upstairs, leaps onto the bed and closes her eyes. She’s glad I’m home. And I’m glad to see her. “Goodnight Olive.” “Goodnight Patti.”

Jockey Itch

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/28/2012 at 10:21 am

“What is this PARASITE on my back?

“NO, YOU DO NOT HAVE JOCKEY ITCH OLIVE, THAT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE. THIS IS YOUR HALLOWEEN COSTUME.”

Frankenstorm and Bully Sticks

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/28/2012 at 10:14 am

“What’s a FRANKENSTORM?”

Olive is paying rapt attention to the discussion among the humans at the dog park about the approaching “Frankenstorm.” Yes, that’s actually what the local paper splashed across the front page in monster-sized type on Friday. “The Rise of Frankenstorm.” It has certainly succeeded in whipping New Jersey and New York residents into a tornadic fever. There’s not a “D” battery, jug of bottled water or generator to be had in the two states about now. I had more important things to do. I had to race to the local feed store (the “candy store” to Olive) and purchase a half dozen bully sticks and a giant knucklebone. If Olive is going to have to be confined indoors for the next 24-36 hours, then this is a must or the two of us will go crazy. Indoors, the bully sticks seem to be Olive’s favorite way of burning off some of her energy. She lays on the floor in a sphinx position, stick between her paws, gnawing at that thing with the concentration of a St. Benedictine Monk transcribing ancient scrolls. She barely moves. In fact, if you saw her from the back, you might think you were watching a canine Rabbi performing a circumcision. I think she’s gotten even more protective of her treat lately because she knows that once it gets down to about three inches, I take it away from her. I used to ask her to drop it. She would reluctantly lower her head a few times and finally release it. I’d scoop up the sticky, gooey remnant and race up the stairs to dispose of it. Olive would run alongside me, jumping up repeatedly trying to snatch it from my hands. I finally wised up. Now, I just yell “biscuit,” she comes running to wherever I am, and stares at me with the bully stick hanging out of her mouth like a Havana cigar. She’s waiting to see the evidence. I hold up the biscuit. She drops the fully masticated bully stick and races toward the biscuit. “GOD, OLIVE, SOMETIMES YOU ARE SO PREDICTABLE.” I try to grab the bully twig off the floor in the same fell swoop that I offer her the biscuit, so she doesn’t see me and change course. When she’s done gobbling down the biscuit, her head richochets back and forth around the dining room looking for her bully stick, like “HEY, WHERE THE HELL DID MY BULLY STICK GO?” I’m sure one day, she’ll stop falling for this deception, but for now it still works. A week or so ago, Olive vomited downstairs and as I went to clean it up, I watched something fairly large tumble out of her mouth. It was a 2.5 inch saliva-coated bully stick that was basically teal in color, probably from being attacked by the antacids in her stomach. This is why I need to be more careful. Now, I have to watch her the way a security guard at Wal-Mart watches potential shoplifters. When the bully stick gets to about four inches, I start to rise from the chair and this is Olive’s visual cue to activate “flight” mode. She takes off like a bat out of hell.

Olive’s Lullaby

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/18/2012 at 6:49 pm

(Sweet Dreams)

Rock-a-by Olive, sweet baby girl, when your eyes close, you shut out the world. When your kinetic dreams start, you twitch and you squeak, your legs they start jerking as you quietly fart. Rock-a-bye Olive, my sweet little weim, I watch this somnolent circus in between your food crimes.

 

Red Velvet Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/11/2012 at 8:56 pm

“Is Santa here yet?”

I don’t know what it is about this picture that makes me feel especially warm and fuzzy. It also makes me think of Christmas. I guess, a lot of “red” will do that. Some people see the color red as hot and sexy, to others it signifies anger and aggression and to those like me, it’s symbolic of Christmas. So you see, context really does matter when your brain is absorbing color. Maybe it’s the warm taupe-like brown of Olive on the warm red blankets that makes me feel the way I do. Maybe it’s because she’s curled up like a tiny reindeer. Maybe she’s dreaming of a tiny Santa Paws. Who’s kidding whom? The minute I wrote “Red Velvet Weimaraner,” I started to salivate for a red velvet cupcake. “Yes Olive, I do love you more than red velvet cupcakes. A whole lot more. I could live without red velvet cupcakes, but I couldn’t live without you, you little nutcake.

Canine Candidate

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/11/2012 at 8:04 pm

“HEY, the nitwits spelled my name wrong!”

On our walk today, Olive wanted to show me one of her signs. She’s running for local office. Even she had to laugh that they spelled her name wrong. Either that or she’s figured out what the anagram below her name really spells.

To Kill. A Mocking. Bird.

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/10/2012 at 7:31 pm

“Are you licking your lips TOO?”

That’s right. The punctuation is as I intended. A Mocking bird. As in a black bird that’s mocking my dog. Literally. Well, sort of. Why have I not learned yet? I go into the basement to get something and I see Olive not just wordlessly, but soundlessly laying in front of the sliding glass door. Not moving a muscle. Not even a fraction of an inch. Like a deer, trapped in the blinding glare of the headlights of mechanized monsters. Olive isn’t even paying attention to me as I walk by. That should have clued me in. Should have been a red flag the size of the Washington Monument. But no, I just open the sliding glass door and let her out into her very spacious fenced-in pen. You know the guns that go off at track meets? You would have thought that I pulled the trigger right next to her ear. There she goes faster than the speed of sound. She makes Olympian track stars look like spazzes. And then I see it. Something black flapping around at the far end of the pen. “Holy Shit,” I think. I immediately tear ass after Olive and reach her just as she keeps mouthing a black bird with a shiny blue-black head as it tries to jump up then stumbles back to the ground. It’s an adult and it’s obviously injured. But I don’t know whether its leg or wing is injured or perhaps it has something like West Nile Virus. “OLIVE! LEAVE IT,” I shriek. The last thing I need is Olive becoming infected with West Nile Virus from some stinking bird. I drag Olive, very unwillingly, back into the house. I go back out, pick up my tiny gardening shovel which does primary duty as a stupendous turd-flinger and I try to gently scoop up the bird so I can get it out of Olive’s pen. The first few attempts prove difficult as the damn bird keeps jumping off the shovel spade as soon as I get it on there. By the third or fourth time, I figure I have to be gentle but very, very quick. So, I place the spade under the bird and in one motion fling it outside of Olive’s pen. Let it live or die on its own like nature intended. I go back inside, shut the sliding glass door behind me and Olive remains stationed behind the glass like an Eqyptian Sphinx, unconvinced that her prey is gone. I drag her into the bathroom and wipe down her muzzle and nose like I’m a towel boy at the car wash. “CHRIST OLIVE. HAVEN’T YOU HAD ENOUGH COOTIES LATELY?”

The Drama Queen

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/10/2012 at 6:36 pm

“ME? A Drama Queen?”

Don’t let my little Mensa-qualified pooch fool you. Olive feels much better than she looks. Now she is as miserable as only a weimaraner can be miserable because she has been on cootie-lockdown for the past two-and-a-half weeks. If you haven’t had a weimaraner, you can’t quite imagine how not getting enough exercise on a daily basis affects them. Olive almost loses her mind trying to burn off energy inside the house; racing through 2,500 square feet as though she’s being chased by wolves. Executing dozens of circles around her bed until she gets so frustrated, she starts frantically digging at the bed while emitting a high pitched whine like a turbine engine that just won’t turn over. Or, if you play tug of war with her using an old towel, she yanks the towel that’s clenched between her teeth back and forth so rapidly, I’m afraid she’s going to give herself whiplash. Observing all of this is actually not the least bit funny. Her frustration is so deep that it actually feels like it’s painful to her. By the way, this is also the face she wears when she tries to telepathically send the same message over and over and over. And that message is always this: “FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD.” Thank God, her recent insatiable lust for food has diminished substantially now that she’s off her cootie meds. Of course, that still doesn’t stop Olive from trying to steal my Moo Shu Pork dinner right of my plate. “RIGHT OLIVE. HAVE YOU ANY IDEA HOW YOU’D FEEL AFTER EATING THIS? YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM WOULD BE DOING SOMERSAULTS AND YOUR POOP CHUTE WOULD FEEL LIKE A SPACE SHUTTLE AFTERBURNER. NO WAY. GO STARE AT THE BIRDS OUTSIDE.” She stares at me with her beautiful amber eyes and jumbo pupils and I just melt. I am so happy she’s feeling better.

GoldiOlive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/08/2012 at 7:33 pm

“WHERE’s my damn porridge?”

Ah, this bed is just right.

Dog Impersonates Zombie

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/06/2012 at 12:02 pm

“Did I just pee?”

Me on the telephone with the Vet last week: “Hey Doc, you know this cough suppressant you prescribed for Olive? It’s probably a muscle relaxant, isn’t it?” Doc: “Yes, why?” Me: Because I’ve been doing more laundry than Cinderella the past few days. Apparently every time Olive falls asleep…wherever she falls asleep…her bladder empties. Completely. As in the Hoover Dam has been drained.” Doc: “That will stop about three days after you stop using the medication. You can wean her off it if she’s not coughing.” I look over at a subdued but no longer miserable Olive. “You need to stop coughing sooner rather than later,” I say. And so began Olive’s treatment for “tracheobronchitis.” The only saving grace is that I caught it early enough when it was just in her throat. It never made it to her lungs, which could be dangerous because it can cause pneumonia. It all started with a thought that pushed its way into my consciousness about two weeks ago. Why is Olive so quiet? I wondered. Hardly a peep out of her and she loves to “talk.” Weimaraners love to hear themselves speak. They would make great carnival barkers. (Pun actually unintended) And then I hear a faint whispery bark. Am I crazy? I wonder. Did she just sound hoarse? I consider the options for a nanosecond and decide that this must mean that she barked her head off while she was at camp. I go back about my business. By the next day, she starts “hacking and gagging,” as though she is choking on something. It seems a little odd, because when I inspect her mouth (with the delicate touch of a burly plumber), there’s no foreign object to be found. Whatever, I think. Maybe she just choked on saliva which is what I tend to do a lot now that I am over-ripening with age. And then the hacking and gagging continued. No, this is just not right I think. “Guess what Olive? We’re going to the Vet today.” Sure enough, she’s diagnosed with this dinosaur-like sounding condition; a form of what’s commonly referred to as “Kennel Cough.” While Olive had her Bordatella shot months ago to protect her from the KC Cooties, it’s not foolproof. It’s like the flu shot that humans get. Just because you get the vaccine, doesn’t mean you won’t get the flu. Olive was also placed on Clavamox (antibiotics). This too has a side effect I was unaware of. Me on telephone to Doc again: “Yeah, Doc, Olive is starting to act like a feral dog around food. I mean more so, than the usual weimaraner food-whoreishness. Like she’s a zombie that hasn’t eaten since World War 1. RIGHT AFTER SHE’S EATEN DINNER. Could the antibiotics be doing this to her? I’m afraid that when I go to sleep, I might wake up like that little girl in ‘Night of The Living Dead,’ who chomps on her dead father’s arm.” Doc: (Chuckles). Yes, the antibiotic contains prednisone and that is what’s probably stimulating her appetite. This will go away after you finish the course of treatment.” Olive stands in the doorway, staring at me while I’m on the phone. Her eyes seem to be glowing blood-red, and I think she may be drooling somewhat excessively. The four-legged zombie approaches. Me: “Thanks Doc, I have to go now. Zombie Olive is calling me.”

Dog Tired

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/29/2012 at 3:41 pm

(And on the eighth day, she rested.)

After seven days of dog camp, this is what Olive looked like about 20 minutes after we got home. ‘I’M NOT TAKING ANY CALLS OR EMAILS. MAY I HAVE A BLANKET? AND I’D LIKE MY PAWS BATHED WHILE I’M SLEEPING.”

Dog Hypnotizes Other Dogs

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/29/2012 at 11:48 am

“Yes, it’s true. I control the whole pack with just my eyes.”

She’s just so damn good at this. Some days, especially in bright sunlight, she looks at me with those beautiful amber “marbles” with pin-point-sized pupils and I instantly become immobilized. I stand there like an idiot waiting for a command.

 

Olive Goes to Camp

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/29/2012 at 11:26 am

“Yeah, these are my peeps.”

Where do I begin? I am still recovering from my “lost week.” The week I had to spend away from my lovable pooch. The only reason I wasn’t looking forward to my business trip to San Francisco, aside from the six hour flight that feels like 12 when you are jammed into Japanese-sized seats that require a can opener to get out of, was that it would be the first time I was ever separated from Olive for more than 2 days. I had to drop her off late on a Sunday afternoon because my flight was scheduled for what I have historically referred to as “Farm Time.” That means prior to 6am. And if you live in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the country and a state that is a major transportation thoroughfare, you know what traffic is like. Especially on a Monday morning. Rush hour starts at about 5am. So, if you’re flying out of Newark Liberty International Airport and you live about 45 minutes from the airport, between traffic and security check-in, you need to leave your house three hours prior to your flight. As I started to pull out of the parking lot at Four Paws Playground, I distinctly heard Olive barking her head off behind the fence. I stopped for a minute, very sure that it was her as there was just this single, solitary voice barking plaintively, clearly saying in dog speak, “DON’T LEAVE, DON’T LEAVE, DON’T LEAVE.” Ugh. And so begins my separation anxiety. For the next seven days I call the dog camp inquiring as to how Olive is doing. And they tell me the only thing they can tell me. “She’s eating, sleeping and playing. She’s doing very well.” I don’t know what I expected them to tell me. “Oh, she’s in dance class right now. Next, she goes to a cooking class, and then, she likes to relax outside with a Martini and the other weims around a fire pit.” If only Olive could tell me herself, I’d feel more reassured. As someone who is both imaginative, empathetic and somewhat OCD, I have to work hard not to put myself in Olive’s position. I place myself in her little horse-like stall at night, on her toddler bed and look out, surveying the room. And I think to myself, “It’s so dark in here. And noisy. And where is Patti?” That’s about as far as I get and think to myself. “Are you crazy? She’s fine. Get out of the stall.” However, no matter how hard I tried, Olive was never far from my thoughts. I spent much of the trip anticipating how happy I’d be to see her when I picked her up. Some friends asked how Olive behaved when I picked her up, as in “Did she go crazy with happiness?” Olive was very happy to see me, but she didn’t go mental. I like to think she’s a confident dog, and I’ve never encouraged intense greetings and partings. However, when we got home and I opened the door, she shot past me and ran through the whole house like a reindeer at dawn breaking. You could actually hear her body proclaiming with joy “I’M HOME! I’M HOME! I’M HOME!” I’m sure she had a good time at Camp, but as we all know, there’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed after a week of sleeping somewhere else.

On Top of Mount Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/08/2012 at 4:14 pm

“Am I there yet?”

On top of Mt. Weimaraner, all covered with fur, I lost my grey lunchbox to some other cur.

Zippety-Poop-Ah

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/08/2012 at 4:04 pm

“My God, WHAT is that stink?”

Well, I warned everyone at the local dog park that I would be writing about this. It seems that Harry, the burnt copper-colored mixed breed dog prefers poop to people. When Harry gets to the park, he races into the field like a bottle rocket and proceeds to run  around the perimeter of the dog park. I’m not sure if he thinks he’s checking boundaries, or making a statement about his desire to put as much distance between him and all the humans in the park. He’ll play with other dogs, but if you’re human, you won’t get closer to him than a foot or two. He takes off in a blur before your hand ever touches his fur. And soon enough, we’ll see Harry rolling on his back over and over in the grass, kicking his paws up high like a Rockette. That’s because he’s struck gold. He found a nice pile of dog crap and is rubbing himself all over this exotic fragrance. I look over at Olive, who is standing near me watching this display. Even she’s not sure what to make of it. ‘”OLIVE. DON’T YOU EVER, EVER THINK OF DOING THAT. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?” As I emphasize the words “Ever, Ever,” her ears pivot back somewhat and flatten to the sides of her head. Her eyes are as big as saucers and I swear she looks slightly afraid. Harry circles back by the humans, and from about 12 feet away, you can see the poop caked on and smeared across his red collar (and yes, I am gagging as I write this). His owner then describes how the worst part is when they leave. Back in the car, Harry wants to nuzzle her as she’s driving. I’m actually giggling semi-uncontrollably as his owner is saying this. As I’m laughing, I’m thinking to myself, “Thank God, weimaraners as a breed don’t like to be dirty.” I look at Olive and with a straight face ask: “SO, OLIVE WOULD YOU LIKE A CRAP SANDWICH FOR DINNER OR CHICKEN?” She cocks her head sharply when I come to the word “chicken.” Smart dog.

Grinning From Rear to Rear

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/08/2012 at 3:29 pm

“Yes, I CAN smile from the back.”

If you look very closely, you’ll see a wide smile, a long nose and two Jack-o-Lantern eyes.

How I am Not Like My Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/04/2012 at 7:32 pm

“We converted ANOTHER one!”

Oh this is easy. Olive genuinely likes people more than I do. I was once told by a Boss that I preferred the world of ideas to the world of people. A very sharp observation. In fact, one that made me more self-aware. And you can add dogs after ideas. Then people. The world can credit Olive with making me a little more social. See, you can teach an somewhat mature human new tricks. Especially, if you’re being taught by a weimaraner.

 

Napping With Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/04/2012 at 6:53 pm

“This is called a NAP?”

All week I haven’t felt quite well. A low grade headache and maybe even a fever? But the best (sarcasm) is the feeling of having a pile of damp sand sitting at the base of my throat. Or is that my “cough box?” You know, the one that decides to wake up and go to work in the middle of the night. The one that cranks up the rusty machines and manufactures enough sandpaper to make an army gag. Ugh. And to feel this way when it is constantly damp and humid outside makes it even worse somehow. Even though I am indoors most of the time. It’s the typical East Coast time of year when nature tests our constitution to see just how much ragweed, pollen, and other of nature’s dander we can take. I thought I had a sinus infection and that it might run its course without intervention. But by last night I’d had it with the headache and fever, so I went to the doctor today. And you know what happened? The minute he said I had bronchitis, it gave me permission to feel worse. So I got the prescriptions filled, went home, walked in the door and announced: “C’MON OLIVE. WE’RE TAKING A NAP.” So I take one of the antibiotics, and crash on the guest bed which for some reason is my favorite place to nap when I don’t feel well. Probably because it’s the coldest room in the house, hence I refer to it as the “ghost bedroom.” Olive jumps on the bed and lies next me. Circling only a few times before she decides not to rest her ass on my face. “THANKS OLIVE FOR NOT GIVING ME THE TAIL.” Ahhhh. I love taking naps. (I probably should have been Mexican or French.) I love them even more with Olive beside me. Especially when I don’t feel well. It feels very “meatloafian.”

Weimaraner Wisdom

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/02/2012 at 7:19 pm

“Be quiet. I’m thinking DEEP thoughts.”

I am a lucky dog. Literally and figuratively. I sit at the feet of my pack leader on this fine Saturday afternoon observing the world around me both four-legged and two. The leaves are falling again. Some may see this as evidence of Summer weeping, but not I. Leaves are simply nature’s way of announcing change. People come and go. Some tall, some tiny. They are a curious bunch. They stop and point at me and say nice things. There is a gentle breeze today. I feel it on the ridges of my ears. It transports a variety of scents that waft past my nose in delicate waves. Yes, this is the life. When humans say, “It’s a dog’s life,” this is what they mean. I live in the present at all times. I don’t worry about what’s ahead and I don’t mourn what’s past me. I sit here, relaxed, in the company of my pack leader, in a state of sublime peacefulness. Unlike my pack leader, I am unburdened by many responsibilities. I have one. To protect my pack leader. It keeps me very focused. At least as focused as I can be. The funny thing about living in the present is that it makes time stop. It allows me to enjoy the smallest moments in my day, one at a time. Maybe that’s why I feel so content. Because instead of each moment rushing by in a blur or stuck somewhere in the past, I experience each moment fully. So, even though our lives do not measure the same number of years as the humans who love and care for us, I think we live our lives more fully. Thank God, I’m a dog.

Slumber Party Animal

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/01/2012 at 9:50 am

DO NOT DISTURB

This is what Olive looked like when she returned from her first overnight stay at Dog Camp. She snored like a wildebeest. It was probably a combination of factors that led to her state of near-exhaustion—which is a state of nirvana for a weimaraner. On the upside, she got to spend every other hour playing with lots of other dogs. On the downside, it was the first night she slept somewhere unfamiliar without a human that she knew. I’m sure Olive adjusted much better than I did to this separation. My separation anxiety was worse than hers. When I first dropped her off, one of the “Camp Counselors” took her leash from me and Olive strained to return to me. I think I actually felt the umbilical cord snap. Returning home, when I walked through the door of the house without Olive, I will admit I felt ever so slightly “free.” This feeling was very short-lived as it immediately cascaded into a deep feeling of guilt which arrived like a stake through my heart. Luckily, I had so much work to do, it kept my mind off Olive for a few hours. But later on, after dinner when I sat down on the couch to watch TV, I started to realize just how much Olive keeps me active. I didn’t have to get up five times to let her out or find her bone, or answer a summons for a bully stick. I was shocked at just how lazy I might be without her. I tried not to think of Olive. At 8pm I realized they’d be putting her to bed. A strange bed. But a toddler’s mattress with a blanket inside a small horse stall. (Really) So that was comforting. I finally went to bed around 10pm and slept fitfully until 3:30am. “Is Olive okay?” I wondered. “Is she sleeping?” Probably. I go back to sleep. And then the nightmares begin. I dream that I go to pick Olive up and they return the wrong dog to me. “THAT’S NOT MY DOG,” I say with a mixture of indignance and anger. Then they bring out some other dog. It’s not even a weimaraner and it’s all twisted and deformed. “THAT’S NOT OLIVE,” I say with mounting anger. “Oh, don’t worry, she’ll be alright when she straightens out,” they say. Now I am starting to freak out wondering if my dog is gone. And then I see Olive. And she’s standing there, her beautiful little face looking forlorn and she’s holding up a front paw and her knee is totally wrecked, exposing a splintered ball and joint and it’s hollow inside; there’s no blood whatsoever. It’s just empty. At that moment, I awaken a bit shaken. It’s 6:30am. I pick up the phone and call the Dog Camp and say: “This is Patti Soldavini. Please give Olive her complimentary bath. I’m picking her up in an hour.” I get up, shower, run to Panera for a coffee and start speeding down the county highway. When I arrive 20 minutes later, Olive is led out the door into the reception area where I await her presence like an anxious parent awaiting their child on her first day of Kindergarden. Out she comes wagging her tail at 100 miles an hour. She is perfectly fine and very happy and as we pull out of the parking lot to head for home, I swear I see her glance back wistfully as though she won’t be back until next Summer.

Spot The Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/01/2012 at 8:56 am

“Olly olly home free!”

Where in the world is Olive?

How I am Like My Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/26/2012 at 11:08 am

“Are we TWINS?”

Although I sensed early on that I got a breed of dog that was just like me, it has only become more apparent with the passing of time. We’re both smart and independent. This makes each day a battle of wits between us. Sometimes she wins, sometimes I win. I think the score currently stands at 8,456 to 8,458. I have an easier time picking up the chalk and writing on the blackboard, so I am the scorekeeper. Each of us is highly inquisitive by nature. She will jam her entire head down into a hole to see what’s there, or she’ll dive into a grocery store bag, tunneling to the bottom in seconds, searching for an edible treasure. I will jam my head deep into the refrigerator to evaluate my choices for dinner or plant my face inches from something odd I see on the sidewalk. Both of us get bored very, very quickly. Olive responds by chewing on soft fluffy things until they expire. Or she sharpens her teeth on the furniture. She likes wood so much, that sometimes I think she must be part beaver. We both require lots of intellectual stimulation. I will either read, write, escape to the movies or work on my genealogy. We also run neck and neck on the attention span scale. In fact, she may actually have a slightly longer attention span than me. And that’s not saying much. If there’s not a bright, shiny object or continuous activity in front of either of us, forget it, we’re mentally and physically gone. Both of us are foodies though. Although she has the same meals everyday, she will dine out by herself on gross and stinky things that I assume are tasty, because she consumes them with unabashed glee. I will go almost anywhere to experience interesting food at new restaurants. In the energy department, Olive clearly outperforms me. While I have a lot of energy for someone my age, I’m no match for a 29-month old weimaraner. So, to make sure she gets what she needs, we spend about 90+ minutes at the dog park after work every day. The irony is that I used to be very athletic. My career as an athlete was cut short in seconds during the quarterfinals of the High School Girls State Tournament Basketball Game when I blew out my right knee. If not for that, Olive and I would probably be jogging together daily instead of walking. And each of us can be a bit stubborn at times. Whenever one of us is given a command (her at home, me at work) and it seems ill advised, we both dig in our heels. She also one-ups me on the attribute of being graceful. While I’m no klutz by any stretch of the imagination, I’ve never been called graceful. To me, graceful infers a natural, ever-present fluidity of motion as one moves at all times. That’s Olive. When this dog moves, breathes, or just sits there, she’s as graceful as a ballerina. And this in turn contributes to the impression she creates that she is a member of the aristocracy. The closest I can come to that claim is that it appears that in the 1600s, ancestors of mine were mercenaries for the Duke of Milan. So, although we’re not totally alike, we are alike in many important ways. And although I underestimated many of the breed’s characteristics, somehow, intuitively, I picked the right breed for me. And I think Olive got the right human for her.

The Ceiling Nipple

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/26/2012 at 9:57 am

“But why is it so HIGH?”

As I was taking a shower the other morning, Olive saunters into the bathroom. As a pup, she used to lie down on the rug and oh-so-patiently wait for me to finish before bolting out the door. She no longer lies down or waits patiently. She sits like a Buckingham Palace Guard on the napkin-sized throw rug in front of the sink and doesn’t move a muscle. She sends me a single thought telekinetically over and over and over. “ARE YOU DONE YET? ARE YOU DONE YET? ARE YOU DONE YET?” The other morning was different. I both sense and hear energetic activity that feels and sounds a bit frantic. I peek out from behind the shower curtain and there is Olive standing there staring fixedly at the brand new ceiling light. She twirls around and looks at it from different angles, never once taking her eyes off it. All of a sudden she leaps up toward the light. ‘OLIVE WHAT THE HOLY HELL ARE YOU DOING?” I figure she must be chasing a fly or something so I go back to my shower. Later that same day I’m sitting on the toilet and Olive bursts in, looks up at the ceiling light and just stares at it like it’s a giant Reese’s Cup. “Oh my God,” I say aloud. “You know the light is new.” Nothing gets past a weimaraner. Nothing. This behavior of hers continues unabated for the next couple of days. There’s something else at play here. The new fixture is pretty much the same but instead of having a brass ring and “nipple” keeping the glass dome in place, it’s bronze. Maybe she thinks the “nipple” is a big bug. I tell this story to some friends and show them a picture of the new fixture. Susan says “Well, from below maybe it looks like a giant eyeball to her.” “You’re right, it is kind of creepy when you look at it like that.” And this morning, the truth dawned on me. I’ve mentioned before that Olive was one of a litter of 11 and female dogs have 10 nipples. And I think that Olive didn’t get enough, so she is always searching for the “eternal nipple.” Inadvertently, I have given her the eternal nipple. Except it’s affixed to the ceiling about eight feet above her.

Olive Meets Andy & Simona

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/19/2012 at 9:54 am

“Are you KIDDING me?”

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? Why is everyone but me in MY basement? I smell another dog. No, I smell TWO dogs. I want to meet them. NOW. C’mon, I’ve never met a Shar-Pei before. I promise I won’t scare them. Pleeease? You know I’m not going to stop barking until I get to meet them. And smell them. And possibly lick them. And yes, I might even try to steal some of their food. Who am I kidding. Of course, I’m going to steal some of their food. They smell so….fresh. As in brand new. What are their names? “ANDY AND SIMONA.” Hey Andy, c’mon over here. You’re on my turf and I need to check you out. Dude, did you just get out of bed? You have “bed body.” You need to be ironed. Hi Simona, I’m Olive. Oh look, you have “bed body” too. I thought you guys were young, what’s with all the wrinkles? Do you like my house? And my backyard pen? Don’t eat my sticks out there, especially the black walnut 2012. I’d like to sniff your butts but you haven’t had all your vaccinations yet so I can’t. Oh yes, getting shots is FUN. “OLIVE, YOU’RE SUCH A LITTLE SNOT.”

Condensation Ghosts

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/19/2012 at 9:24 am

“Did you not SEE that?”

Olive was not happy yesterday morning. I think she was actually perturbed to witness something so threatening so early in the morning, just after she had awoken from her beauty sleep. As we cross the front lawn, she tenses up, digs her heels in and starts barking like a banshee at the front windows. Why? Because they are covered in cloud-like formations of condensation. Because I like to keep the house as cold as an igloo in the Summer months. This is completely unacceptable to Olive. They don’t belong there. I (and the neighbors) are now listening to non-stop barking. Punctuated with an occasional low gggggrrrrrrrrooowwwlllllll. This dog cracks me up. I assure Olive that this is nothing to worry about and gently pull her flexi-leash to guide her to the side of the house. “OLIVE. GO POTTY. THERE ARE NO CONDENSATION GHOSTS HERE.” She does what she normally does when she’s serious about going. She starts prancing very, very quickly and suddenly stops to crouch. At least she goes this morning. Sometimes, she teases me and stops and crouches and then she decides she doesn’t have to go. But this morning, she goes. She does the “dog flush,” which is what I call it when they are finished and use their hind legs to scratch the ground a few times as though they are covering up what they’ve left behind.” ‘LET’S GO OLIVE. BACK INSIDE.” As we make our way to the front lawn, Olive starts to slink around the corner like a tiger approaching an innocent doe. She hasn’t forgotten. Sure enough, the condensation ghosts are still on the front windows. They have not retreated. Although she has anticipated their presence, she seems somewhat startled or indignant that they are still there. And the barking aria begins anew.

Detailing a Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/09/2012 at 7:01 pm

“I smell like an air freshener.”

Weimaraner recently detailed. Smells like fresh red raspberries. Exhausted from being bathed and buffed dry. Not for sale.

A Love Letter

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/03/2012 at 7:19 pm

“I got MAIL?”

This is the face of the dog that routinely gets me up at 5am to feed her and take her out. This is the face of the dog that quickly sidles up next to me at the dog park when things get tense between two dogs. It’s the face of the dog whose bright amber eyes plead with me when she either desires food or a way out of the vet’s office. It’s also the face of the dog that grimaces when snacking on rabbit scat as though it’s the equivalent of “sour patch” candy. It’s the face of the dog that makes me laugh out loud when she considers whether the command I’ve given her is worthy of being obeyed. It is the face of the dog that looks like an angel when she’s sleeping, her eyes closed and shaded by her taupe-colored eyelashes. It’s also the face of the dog who cocks her head sideways whenever I utter a phrase I know she’s been longing to hear. (Usually it’s food-related.) It’s the smiling face of the dog whose joy is palpable when she meets new people. And it’s the face of the dog who is so smart that she stops me in my tracks to consider just how smart she really is. It’s the face of the dog who is at times insistent, demanding, stubborn, and high maintenance but also inquisitive, playful, energetic, loving, fiercely protective and funny as hell. I love this face. I love her beautiful eyes, her perfectly symmetrical features, her velveteen vein-lined ears and her sweet brown nose. I especially love the distinctive little “cowlick” that softly interrupts the fur on the bridge of her nose. I love the way she drinks out of her bowl and drips water like a running faucet when she lifts her head. I love the sound her ears make when she shakes, like a cowboy’s leather chaps flapping in the brisk wind. I love to listen to her crunching her food contentedly. I love her confidence, her grace, her eternal optimism, her sense of humor and her athleticism. At least once a day, I find myself feeling so grateful to have this remarkable dog in my life. I love weimaraners. And yes, I just may be in love with Olive.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/01/2012 at 6:26 pm

“Well, what did you EXPECT?”

So yesterday, my beautiful ever-alert little loon barked repeatedly at a ’57 Chevy as it exited a parking lot and merged into traffic behind us. I know why she did this. It was noticeably different from its surroundings. Like a square peg in a round hole. Give a weimaraner a test asking them to recognize “What’s wrong with this picture?” and they’ll score higher than a gifted eight year-old child.

This Temper

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/29/2012 at 9:57 am

“Is that thunder? Or the END of the world?”

“Why am I getting a shot?” said Olive. “I don’t have a temper.” “Ha-Ha,” I replied. “Just because you’re so articulate Olive, doesn’t mean I’m dumb.” It’s time for your distemper shot again. And so that’s how Olive’s morning began this past Thursday. As we rise to greet a brand new morning, I look outside and see a storm front passing overhead. The clouds, the color of warm putty, cloak the sun completely. “Geez,” this doesn’t look very promising Olive, let’s hurry up and get to the vet.” Olive interprets this statement as an oxymoron. Her pleading amber eyes are as wide as the opening to one of the Lincoln Tunnel tubes. I glance out the front window, certain I just saw the Cowardly Lion scurrying through the cornfield seeking shelter. It’s a double whammy today for Olive at the vet’s office. Distemper shot and nails clipped. Her nails are so long she could probably eviscerate an African elephant in seconds. And thunder is surely on the horizon. For Olive, it is a “perfect storm” of a day. What I don’t understand is why after her first two years of life without incident, now, all of a sudden she is petrified of thunder. This just started happening in the last week or so. I hear her barking downstairs in the windowless bathroom in the basement. In the dark. She comes out once in a while only to pant, pace and shiver. I feel badly for her, but I won’t make the same mistake I did with Idgy. I tried comforting Idgy, swaddled her up in a blanket, played soft jazz music and sat with her in the bathroom for a while. Later on, I learned that all I did was reinforce her fear that something bad was about to happen. So, as much as I hate doing this, I ignore Olive. I act like there’s nothing to be afraid of and let her work it out herself. I’ve tried distracting her with food and toys, but no dice. This dog’s focus will not be broken. Something tells me, this is going to take a while. I don’t want to have to medicate her; the whole world — people and pets — are over-medicated these days. In the long run, it’s not good for either. I’ve seen the “Thundershirts” advertised for dogs and wonder if they work. It seems like bullshit. But, if it was designed by Temple Grandin, then I’d buy it without hesitation. Finally, the storm subsides. Olive is sitting on the couch next to me still on “high alert.” Her posture is ramrod stiff and her pupils are the size of ticks. It creates an expression of barely controlled panic. In fact, she looks slightly catatonic. Or, is that dogatonic? I place one hand on her side and feel tiny waves of fear rippling across her body. Her heartbeat, once pounding like hoofbeats across the Great Plains has now slowed to a near normal level. She finally drops into a “down” position and rests her head on my legs. In seconds, she’s sleeping and snoring like Rip Van Winkle. I gently pet her head and watch the sides of her mouth slowly puff in and out as she breathes. For some reason, I love watching this. I find it both gratifying and amusing.

Rockin’ Weim

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/28/2012 at 12:24 pm

“YES. I am a Rock Star!”

Remember. It’s part of my contract. ALL brown M&M’s. Perrier in my bowl. And a massage.

The Circle of Life

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/25/2012 at 9:40 pm

“I did NO such thing. That I can recall. At this time.”

The other morning, as Olive was perched on the crispy brown lawn depositing bio-cigars, she ever so gently (so as not to disturb the process) craned her neck down – and forward just a little bit – so she could begin snacking on the tic tac-sized rabbit pellets that lay in front of her without moving out of position. I couldn’t believe it. The first thought that popped into my head was “recycling.” I have an environmentally sustainable dog. Who knew?

 

Tailscaping

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/19/2012 at 9:01 pm

“NO superfluous fur here.”

Yes, it means what you think it means. First came the term landscaping, then manscaping. And now, tailscaping. If you Google the definition of manscaping, you might be quite surprised at what you find. My favorite was this: To groom a man; shaving, waxing, cleaning up superfluous fur.” I love the sound of it. You might not believe that Olive requires some delicate tailscaping now and then. One look at her and you see the sort of beauty that comes from perfect symmetry. Beautiful lines, a deep chest, long graceful legs and… an ornamental tail. And then you might see just a tiny bit of superfluous fur protruding from the tip of her otherwise perfect tail. It is the only imperfection and to anyone with OCD, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I tell you that it must be corrected instantly. I can no longer think about anything else until I remove this asymmetrical imperfection. It looks messy; out of place. I pull the scissors out of the kitchen drawer. The minute Olives sees her reflection in the shiny blades, she starts backing away like she just recognized an old boyfriend at a party. In that instant, I feel like a remorseful Sweeney Todd. She continues backing up until she almost stumbles backward over her bed. Her body language gives everything away. She curls up on the bed like a fetus unwilling to give up the womb and tries desperately to hide her tail. I swear if she could unscrew it and stick it up her behind she would. Now I feel even more guilty. At this moment, I wonder if it brings back the neo-natal memory of having her tail docked. I can’t even think about it. I coo some nonsense to her softly while I gently reach down, pull her tiny taupe-colored crank towards me and swiftly clip a micron of superfluous fur off its tip. As I straighten up, I can feel Olive’s relief. I gently blow the bits of superfluous fur off the bed and observe her tail. “PERFECT, OLIVE,” I marvel. “JUST LIKE YOU.”

For The Love of Dog

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/16/2012 at 11:16 pm

“Let me close my eyes first.”

As I sit here in front of my aging iMac, illuminated by the tungsten amber glow of the mission-styled desk lamp, Olive sleeps peacefully in her crate. She should be tired. After spending much of the early evening scooting her bottom along the grass at the dog park, she spent the past 40 minutes licking her rear end. Without interruption. It drove me insane. And it stank. So, I braved the inevitable and pulled on a fresh pair of vinyl gloves. You know. The kind that proctologists and gynecologists everywhere use. And I threw on a cheap windbreaker just in case. In the past, I tried expressing Olive’s anal glands from the exterior. This is how that bastion of unimpeachable and curated information otherwise known as Youtube, demonstrated how to do it. It didn’t work. Either because it’s the ineffective coward’s method or because Olive is backed up from here to the moon. She just had her anal glands expressed by the Vet about 10 days ago. At this time, the Vet inquires: “Would you like to learn how to do this yourself?” Instead of saying, “Well, it’s never actually been on my bucket list,” I hear a disembodied voice saying, “Okay.” She cautions me to stand back and I think, this is not inspiring confidence. She explains the following while I stare wide-eyed throughout her live demonstration: “The anal glands are almond shaped and pea-sized sacs that sit inside her rectum at about 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock. Insert a gloved finger and using your index finger and thumb, press on them outward to expel the material.” Well, it doesn’t look like it’s that hard to do I think. And frankly, I don’t want to have to pay the Vet every 10 days to do this. So I saved myself a few bucks tonight. I took her into the bathroom downstairs with the easy-to-clean linoleum floor. I whip out a pair of vinyl gloves and go to work. At first, I’m rooting around inside like I’m looking for a black cat in the dark. I think I feel the sacs and I’m pressing but nothing…wait a minute…I just heard a squirt. Thank God it just dropped to the floor and didn’t shoot across the room! I am ecstatic with my success. I feel empowered. I am also reeling from the stench. Hopefully, I can express the other one before passing out. Hallelujah! Success again. I almost can’t believe it. Now, I just have to maneuver her out of the way so I can clean it up before she licks it or steps in it. I have never been so happy that I wanted to vomit.

Postcard From Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/15/2012 at 4:04 pm

“LOOK at how high I am!”

I try to take Olive with me wherever I go. Of course, this is somewhat dependent on where dogs are welcome. Since this is not France (or California), we are prevented from dining together. Retail stores don’t like us so much either. Except for the pet stores. On this particular broiling Sunday a week ago, Olive and I picked up our friend Jill and took a long drive along a scenic byway tracking the Delaware River in New York State. Olive reclined in the back seat, taking in the scents along the way and providing some of her own. I didn’t notice, but Jill kept rolling down the passenger side window every 30 minutes or so and taking note of Olive’s fragrant bursts of air. I’d drive a little further looking for a safe spot to pull over and let Olive empty her canisters, but most of the time she’d sniff all around, as though she were reading the 100-year history of the county. And then… nothing. “GET BACK IN THE CAR, NUT. I’M NOT STANDING HERE ALL DAY WHILE YOU TAKE ME FOR A WALK. IT’S TOO HOT.” On one occasion, Olive, the Olympian hole digger and hole finder, jams half of her head through tall tick-infested brittle weeds into a giant hole. “HOLY SHIT OLIVE,” I exclaim as I yank her leash to pull her head above terra firma. “ARE YOU CRAZY? YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT MIGHT BE DOWN THAT HOLE.” We get back in the car and continue driving. My ears start popping, so do Jill’s and for all I know, Olive’s too. We end up smack in front of the entrance to the High Point Monument in Montague, New Jersey. It is the highest elevation in New Jersey at 1,803 feet and the highest peak of the Kittatinny Mountains. The monument was built in 1930 to honor war veterans. If you know where you are looking, you can actually see three states from this point: New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. So, to all those who picture New Jersey as a dung hole because you are familiar only with Newark Airport, the Turnpike and those idiots on Jersey Shore, you have no idea how beautiful much of New Jersey is. So, we park and make our way toward the monument. While it’s as hot as the devil’s cojones, there is a very stiff (but warm) breeze at the top. We’ll take it on this blistering hot day. Olive races ahead, always the first to enthusiastically explore anywhere she hasn’t been before. As usual, the people we encounter all want to pet Olive. We are now at the look-out level at the base of the monument. It is beautiful. Olive, runs ahead of me on her flexi-leash. She wants to go inside the door to the monument and presumably up the spiral staircase winding its way up the inside of the structure like the DNA double helix. “No, Olive, I don’t think so. They don’t allow dogs up there sweetie. And there’s no way in hell I’m going up there either.” After we take some pictures and enjoy both the view and the breeze, we start making our way down. While Olive probably isn’t thrilled at being back in the car, I know she’s happy just to be with me. Ditto.

Weimaraner Centerfold

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/15/2012 at 2:47 pm

Playdog of The Month

Late one afternoon last week, I hear two medium-toned barks one right after the other from somewhere deep inside the house. They were not as sharp as they usually are when Olive wishes to summon me. They were more medium-toned, with a slightly softer quality. Half bark, half woof. More like a BOOF. “OLIVE. DO YOU HAVE TO GO OUT?” I glance around upstairs but she’s out of sight. I hear it again. BOOF. BOOF.  The BOOF is definitely coming from the basement. I go downstairs and stumble upon what could only be described as a photography session for Playdog magazine. There is Olive, in all her beauty and confidence, sprawled out the length of the couch like a Centerfold model. I shake my head and  say, “WHO ARE YOU WAITING FOR – THE PHOTOGRAPHER?” She cocks her head sideways and looks at me as if to acknowledge that she understands exactly what I am saying. “YES. WHERE IS HE? I’M GETTING BORED POSING.”

Cranky Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/15/2012 at 2:14 pm

“HEY, where’s my tall cool glass of lemonade?”

What the hell is lemonade anyway? Does it taste better than water? I was the only one at the dog park this morning. I mean the only dog. I made Patti walk to all four of the farthest corners to pick up my lawn cigars. (PANT, PANT, PANT) I don’t think she was too happy. The grass, now brown and crunchy under my paws, was so dried out that if I launched an air biscuit, the entire park would have gone up in flames. We didn’t stay very long. All my friends must have been at home drinking lemonade. (PANT, PANT, PANT) Can I go out and roast on the deck for a few minutes? Maybe if I act like I’m passed out, that filthy ground hog will come closer and I’ll catch him. Cripes, he’s so big, he looks like a beaver. Oh, look, a nice juicy little bunny is on the neighbor’s lawn. (DROOL, DROOL, DROOL). Nice. Juicy. Bunny. Hungry. Okay, now I’m hot. OPEN THE DOOR. OPEN THE DOOR. OPEN THE DOOR. I am not cranky. I’d like some ice water to drink and would you please bathe my paws in some cool H2O please?  Ahhhhhhh…Yes, I think I like air-conditioning. I’ll be waiting on the couch.

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