Patti Soldavini

Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Mirror Image

In animals, dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/06/2013 at 8:53 pm

"My GOD, I'm cute!"

“My GOD, I’m cute!”

I monkeyed (obviously) with this grainy photo to bring you Olive caught in the act of staring at the 20×24 framed photo of herself on the wall. Yes, weimaraners are narcissists. It’s part of their charm.

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Peeping Weimaraner

In animals, dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/06/2013 at 8:41 pm

"What the HELL is going on?"

“What the HELL is going on?”

Yup, that’s my dog. Peeping out the bedroom window seeking to identify some activity that only her bionic ears have detected. It was probably a bird fart. I only wish I were outside my house observing Olive in the window like this. I’m sure it’s worth a chuckle.

 

Keyboard-Playing Weimaraner

In animals, dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/06/2013 at 8:28 pm

Olive's Bohemian Rhapsody

Olive’s Bohemian Rhapsody

There I am this November-like morning sitting in the waiting room of a Doctor’s office, laughing out loud, even snorting, as I watch a video of Olive “playing” the keyboard. I watch it on my iphone. Again. And again. And again. Each time I titter more and more. I was motivated to sprinkle some Old Mother Hubbard Bitz across the keyboard more in an effort to amuse myself while occupying Olive’s active mind the other day. Between the bone-cold raw days, rain and all the extra hours I’ve been working the past 9 months, Olive has been feeling a little neglected. Which if you know me or Olive personally, is sort of ridiculous because she spends the entire day with me. But, like a three year old human child, wants my active attention more than I can give it some days. It reminds me of when kids yell in an adult’s direction, “HEY. LOOK. WATCH ME. WATCH ME DO THIS. WATCH. ME.” I believe Olive tries to retaliate by barking indignantly as though she needs to drop a lawn cigar whenever A) I begin talking on the phone and B) The minute my rear end grazes the chair cushion to eat a meal. “BARK. MOM. I NEED TO GO OUT. BARK, NOW. BARK, BARK.” Inevitably, I get up to let her out and then she either races toward my plate or runs into another room. Anyway, as she gobbled up the Bitz while making her way across the keyboard, there were a few spots where it actually started to sound composed. And at the end, after the last morsel has been hoovered up, she walks away, turns around quickly and comes back to check for more, punctuating her little concerto with a deliberately powerful sting. At this point, I’m crying with laughter.

 

Snow Beast

In animals, dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 02/10/2013 at 10:07 am

'WOO WOO WOO WOO."

‘WOO WOO WOO WOO.”

This is what I had to listen to for 45 minutes as I shoveled the driveway yesterday. You see it’s not enough for a weimaraner to see you and be a few feet away from you. Olive would have been happier to be my back-pack or shoveling alongside me.

Concrete Bumper

In animals, dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 02/10/2013 at 9:50 am

"Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"

“Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”

I am mostly used to having Olive sleep on the bed with me now. Mostly. If only she would stay parallel to me and not perpendicular. (And this from someone who got a ”D” in geometry in high school. Hated geometry, loved algebra. Go figure.) And she’s got such loooooonnnnnngggggg Supermodel legs that when she stretches out across the bed, she’s almost hanging off it. So, my sleeping area becomes truncated; I have only the top two-thirds of the bed to maneuver around. If I were a midget, it wouldn’t be a problem. I’m not tall by any measure, but I need more of the bed than Olive gives me. And I twist and turn a lot. And guess what? So does Olive. She gets up, twirls around, twirls around and plops back down. I try using my legs to guide her to one side of the bed and surprisingly, this usually works. I guess because body language speaks louder than words to dogs. Then she settles in, nudging up against me. I’d say I get the head about 25% of the time, usually it’s the ass. And while emotionally, it feels nice to have her close to me, physically, it’s like sleeping next to a concrete parking space bumper. This dog is 110% muscle. I’m surprised I don’t wake up with bruises. It would be pretty funny to go to the store with your dog to make sure you get the right size bed. “NOPE. THE QUEEN IS TOO SMALL. WE’LL TAKE THE KING SIZE.”

 

Flying Food

In animals, dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 02/10/2013 at 9:25 am

"I'm WAITING."

“I’m WAITING.”

You should see Olive snatch popcorn out of the air like an All-Star center-fielder. If there was a Canine Baseball League, Olive would definitely play center field. She wouldn’t have to be a home run hitter. She could hit hard line drives or screaming grounders and race around the bases before the ball ever bounced into a Terrier’s glove. Unless of course, she catches the tail wind of some delectable scent. Then all bets are off. And if she gets bored between second and third base, well, she might stop to eat third base. Or at least chew it until it resembles a twisted piece of rawhide. (And speaking of rawhide, that means no ball would be safe.) “OH LOOK OLIVE, THE PITCHER IS A GERMAN SHORTHAIRED POINTER. HE’S JUST GOING TO POINT AT THE CATCHER. STEAL THIRD!!!” (This story is starting to sound more interesting than the one I had to intended to write.) Back to the popcorn. Hearing the popcorn pop in the microwave, Olive trailed me into the kitchen. She stares at the source of these unusual, erratic sounds, cocks her head, and once in a while, jumps back a little as if one of them is going to rocket towards her. She trails me downstairs into the living room, close on my heels as though she is my Secret Service Agent. I lie on the couch, she jumps up and assumes a regal “sit.” She stares at me so longingly, there is a scent of pathos in the air. I launch a kernal in her direction and watch her head jerk in about six different directions at once in the space of a nanosecond, her brain trying to calculate the potential trajectories of the kernal. SNATCH. It’s gone. CRUNCH. CRUNCH. Her head returns to its pre-launch position, scanning the horizon for the next kernal. RELEASE. SNATCH. OOPS. It bounces off either the tip of her nose or her opened mouth and lands right back into the bowl, next to the unspent artillery. Being Howie Mandel-like, I am somewhat aghast. “CRIPES. DOG COOTIES.” It wouldn’t be so bad if Olive didn’t spend half the day licking both of her netherbits. I scan the bowl, still mostly full. There is no way I could identify the errant grenade. “OLIVE, IF I GET SOME PARASITE FROM YOU, I’M NOT GOING TO BE HAPPY.” We continue playing this game and when it’s over, I think to myself: “But of course.  My dog loves birds and food, why wouldn’t she like any food that flies through the air. And when you think about it, that’s what birds are to her, flying food, right?

Home Sweet Home

In animals, dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 01/26/2013 at 10:12 am

"May I stop POSING now?"

“May I stop POSING now?”

What a month. Between my Mom being ill, the bone-cold weather we’ve been having, my real job consuming 12 hours of my day and being on-call for two weeks for jury duty (in Trenton of all places), this month just disappeared. The only bright spot was (as it always is), Olive. While I was out of town visiting my Mom, Olive got to stay at Four Paws Playground, the Hotel W for dogs. Now that she’s stayed there a few times for a week or more, I find the idea of her well-being doesn’t intrude upon my thoughts constantly when I’m away. I trust that Olive is well taken care of there. But then I feel guilty that I’m not thinking of her often enough. So, I look forward to when I return home and pick her up. My plane lands, I bolt home like a Superhero, run out the door and start the drive to Four Paws. It is the best drive ever. I’m going to bring my little nut home. She of course, is oblivious that her vacation is about to come to a close. She’s always a bit non-chalant in the car on the way back home. I can’t figure out if this is because she’s shocked that I came back or shocked that she’s leaving all her canine friends and is about to miss the hotly anticipated scavenger hunt that was planned for that evening. Once she’s home, she invariably heads for her water bowl, takes a drink then starts racing through the house like a spooked antelope. She’s back. One of the things I especially love about Olive is that her tail wags at 180 mph all the time. I view this as a barometer of her overall happiness. (And mine.) During this month, we did get to the local park every few days. I did this for Olive, not for me. Standing on top of a mountain being the only object to buffet 25 mph winds where it’s 15 degrees, was not my idea of fun. However, to Olive it was great fun. Especially since she was wearing her new winter coat. Although she’s not too crazy about the jockstrap-like straps that criss-cross her behind when you put her legs through them. For the first few minutes, she walked like she had a load in her diaper. Then she kept swiveling her head ahead to see just what was back there. Finally, she was able to ignore it as she ran around the park chasing her friends. I chuckled to myself when I saw her from behind and noticed one of the straps sort of riding up very close to where it shouldn’t be. Olive trots over and stands next to me quietly. That’s my cue to take her home. Home sweet home.

Heartbroken

In dogs, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/16/2012 at 12:47 pm

(tears)

(tears)

Olive and I did not want to let today pass without sharing our grief about the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. What happened is beyond comprehension and is so deeply heartbreaking to everyone whose life is enriched by the light, joy, innocence and magic of a child. We have friends whose six-year old daughter was in the first grade at Sandy Hook and by the grace of God, little Ella is okay and safe at home. We are so grateful that Ella will have the chance to continue to light up people’s lives for a long time to come and we are incredibly heavy-hearted about the deep, deep loss that so many other parents, siblings, relatives and friends are feeling; one that they will unfortunately endure for their lifetimes. No words explaining why this happened will ever be adequate to comfort those suffering. I wish there were some way we could ease the pain of those who suffer. In that sense, we feel helpless. The best we can do is keep all those affected in our thoughts and prayers.

Waiting For Santa

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/16/2012 at 12:17 pm

"Of course I BELIEVE in Santa."

“Of course I BELIEVE in Santa.”

Poor Olive. This is her at my cousin’s house after being bitch slapped by her cousin Oliver, a Tibetan Terrier. Oliver thought it was Olive standing on his tail, when it fact it was my 80-year old Aunt. Olive quietly retreated to the living room and made herself at home on the love seat next to the Christmas tree. One of the more endearing characteristics of dogs is that they don’t hold grudges. Olive waits patiently for Santa.

Mirror Image

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/16/2012 at 11:13 am

"CHEESE."

“CHEESE.”

A friend of mine and I laugh hysterically at this photo ever since she pointed out that Olive and I have the same expression on our faces – both showing a little teeth.

Story Time

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/16/2012 at 11:03 am

"But where ARE the sugarplums?"

“But where ARE the sugarplums?”

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a weimaraner. Moments later, Olive dove headfirst into the book to retrieve the biscuit that was between my thumb and the page.

Olive’s Nightmare Before Christmas

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/16/2012 at 10:37 am

"Is that really ME?"

“Is that really ME?”

It’s you Olive. And you are doing a terrific impersonation of a deer. A two-headed deer, but a deer nonetheless. Don’t feel bad. I have a giant orb sticking out of the back of my head. I promise, this is the last shot we do today.

Mistlecheese

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/16/2012 at 10:25 am

"Is that a big ball of CHEESE?"

“Is that a big ball of CHEESE?”

Yes Olive, it’s called mistlecheese. Now pucker up.

Olive and Santa

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/01/2012 at 8:15 pm

Olive and Patti

Olive and Patti

Is this dog photogenic or what? Here is the first of six or so shots and the one that will grace the Christmas cards I send out this year. Inside it says, Hey it’s you! Here’s hoping your holiday is filled with joy and laughter. And treats. Patti and Olive. As my cousin mentioned when she saw Olive in this shot, “She is magnificent.” And she is. I can’t stop looking at Olive in these photos. Not only is she beautiful, but she’s so much fun, so smart and so sweet. She brings great joy to my life. I am so happy I didn’t let anyone talk me out of getting a weimaraner! It is moments like these that I can’t believe she’s actually mine!

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.

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.

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.

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