Patti Soldavini

Posts Tagged ‘dog park’

Bumper Dogs

In animals, dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners on 05/12/2013 at 7:24 pm

"Great. T-boned."

“Great. T-boned.”

The canine version of bumper cars. That’s Laszlo the pointer mix t-boning Olive.



The Doubleheader

In animals, dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners on 03/23/2013 at 6:37 pm



Today was a doubleheader for Olive. We went to the dog park and the human park. It was overcast with sunshine peeking through every now and then and pretty chilly, but at least it was dry. Some days after a lot of snow melts or it’s rained quite a bit, the dog park resembles a mud wrestling pit. On those days, after Olive races from one end of the park to the other, her undercarriage is splattered with mud, requiring a bidet-like cleansing when we get home. Which she detests. Alone at the dog park, I alternately toss her canvas Frisbee as far as I can and she chases it ardently, often snatching it right out of the air. And because I detest picking up the filthy bacteria-laced tennis balls, which are now the color of dark brown moss, I pull my leg back, bring it forward and kick the tennis ball to the moon. I have inadvertently trained Olive to chase “grounders.” Most of the time, after she catches one she nonchalantly drops it right where she’s standing as if to say. “WELL? WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT ME TO DO WITH IT?” And although watching her legs kick up dirt while she pivots clockwise and counter-clockwise keeping up with the ball while it changes its trajectory erratically, bouncing above and over her head and then jettisioning off the curve of a half-dug hole or a small sharp-edged stone, it’s way more fun watching her chase down the Frisbee. Just pull your arm back and she’s already off and running, scanning the sky for it, often twirling in circles and stopping to face me just as it sails past her. She falls for it every time. She gets even with me though. Sometimes I’ll throw it and she doesn’t move. She casually watches its turbulent flight until it crash lands and then looks at me as if to say, “NOPE. NOT INTERESTED.” After about 40 minutes at the dog park, Olive is bored with the ball, the Frisbee and ostensibly me, so she begins to engage in one of her favorite past times. Eating dirt. Tunneling her nose through pasty clumps of mud to get at who knows what. “THAT’S IT OLIVE. C’MON, WE’RE GOING.” She looks at me, and begins to trot over after I offer her some water to cleanse her palate. We get in the car and make our way to the human park not far down the road. Now on her flexi-leash, we head toward the lake. Olive is busily inhaling the 4,567 scents I don’t smell. Thank God for small favors. I can’t imagine living in a world where I experienced every scent at 1,000 times its potency. The flowers must smell great. All the animal shit, not so great. There is a small man-made beach hugging one side of the lake. Olive gallops across the beach in a manner that makes me think she likes the way the sand feels between her toes. We walk one of the trails and I stop to sit on a worn wooden bench for a few minutes. The wind is a little brisk; it comes and goes, sometimes quietly, sometimes not. I look around and absorb all around me, always overwhelmed by nature’s beauty and grace. It’s just breathtaking. Even when it’s cold, the trees are leafless, and the grass an anemic yellow-brown. Olive and I return home. Within minutes, she’s asleep on the bed snoring. She’s so worn out she doesn’t even open her eyes when I reach out to pet her. I notice I feel refreshed but tired too. Must have been the wind. Another awesome day with my dog.

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.

Frankenstorm and Bully Sticks

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


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.


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.

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.

Today on Olive’s Outtakes

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/09/2012 at 7:43 pm

What does Olive think of this sign? Find out here.

Protecting Olive

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


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

Sci-Fi Dog Park

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

“HEY! I think I found a ghost!”

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

The Dog Park Application Odyssey

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

"Was all THAT really necessary?"

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

Olive Materializes at Dog Park

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

"Here I am."

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


In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 01/11/2012 at 4:42 pm

"WHAT did you expect?"

If it’s not one, it’s the other. As Olive and I jauntily approached the entrance to the dog park last Saturday morning, I spot a Great Dane the size of a thoroughbred trotting around the perimeter of the fence. “NOT GOOD NEWS, OLIVE. THE BIG BLACK BUFFALO IS HERE TODAY.” This means that for Olive’s safety, we have to remain quarantined in the small dog area. Not Olive’s favorite. “Black Buffalo” is one of three Great Danes that visit the park somewhat regularly. One is fawn-colored and the other, a Harlequin Dane. Usually the trio arrive at the same time with their java-junkie owners who remain in a tightly curled clique by themselves. While the Danes appear very friendly, their size (150+ pounds) makes them potentially dangerous to other dogs. Twice now, Olive’s been trampled by two of them, spinning end over end with dirt and pebbles flying, yipping throughout the ugly collision which seems to occur in agonizing slow-motion. It makes me mental to watch. It’s like watching an 18-wheeler roll over a sedan. While I understand there was no aggression involved, my dog could have been hurt and it seemed that only luck prevented her from being injured. It’s hard not be angry at the Danes and yet you can’t blame them. Clearly, the wreck was unintentional. In fact, I kind of like the Danes; they have better manners than their owners who never stop to ask, “Is your dog alright?” Now, flash forward 24 hours. Olive and I are at the dog park on Sunday morning enjoying the bright winter’s day and the company of the other medium-sized dogs and their owners. After about 45 minutes, a woman shows up with a 7-month old ball of black fur that was so small, it looked like a fleece dog toy without stuffing. ‘HOLY CHRIST. ARE YOU KIDDING? SHE’S BRINGING THAT TINY SOCK IN HERE?” I mutter mostly to myself. “Tiny” comes bounding in and to her credit seems completely non-plussed by all the much larger dogs surrounding her, lining up for turns to sniff her naughty bits. However, my dog seems unusually fixated on this ball of fluff and while Olive does not have an aggressive temperament at all, she is by breed, a hunter of small animals and has a “strong, instinctive prey drive.” People desiring to own a weimaraner are cautioned in skyscraper-size type that weims may “tolerate” cats but many may “chase and kill small animals.” As I watch Olive routinely attempt to place her mouth around Tiny’s microscopic neck, I figure I better intervene before my dog starts shaking it by the neck as though it’s a toy. That would not be good. So I grab Olive by the collar, who is desperately trying to resist my attempt to leash her, and say, ”THAT’S IT OLIVE. WE’RE DONE FOR TODAY. THE LAST THING WE NEED IS FOR YOU TO COMMIT A HOMICIDE IN BROAD DAYLIGHT.”

The Ball Buster

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/30/2011 at 6:49 pm

"So you want the BALL, do ya'?

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were filled with fun, food, family and friends for Olive and me. If Olive were writing today’s post, she would have listed food first. We started out each cold morning with a trip to the dog park. At 8am on Christmas morning, under a heavy, violet-tinted cloud cover, we found we had the entire park to ourselves. Olive would have been happier if her dog friends were there, but she is quite content to just run around, enjoying her freedom, stopping every five seconds to sniff something on the ground, brushing her wet brown nose up against some foul item of interest. Better to keep moving instead of standing still up here and being the only object to buffet 25 mph winds. I try to interest Olive in a game of fetch which is usually a waste of time. Like most weimaraners, Olive thinks “fetch” is a moronic way to spend her time. She might pick the ball up as if to announce “OF COURSE, I CAN GET THE DUMB BALL,” and then promptly drop it. “NOW WHAT?” Today, however, it’s the only game in town. I walk over to a once-yellow tennis ball whose fur has been savagely torn off in places and is caked with crusty bits of frozen earth and communal dog saliva (which I actually refer to as paste due to its unusually gluey quality). I bring my right leg all the way back, aim for the ball, and it goes racing along the ground like it’s been shot out of a cannon. Olive didn’t quite expect this. She scrambles from her stationary position and zig zags across the field like an all-terrain vehicle gone mad, chasing the ball and picking it up in her mouth before it ever comes to a breathless rest. “Christ,” I mutter to myself, thinking, I don’t want to walk halfway across this stadium-sized field for the ball. And then Olive starts trotting back with it. In what I can only describe as a calculated act of “intelligent defiance,” she casually saunters toward me and gently releases the ball…about 10 feet away from where I’m standing. Clearly, she has just thrown down the gauntlet. “FINE, YOU LITTLE BALL BUSTER. LET’S SEE IF YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN.” I repeat the exercise about six more times. Each time, Olive races out to retrieve the ball, trots back with it and drops it about 10 feet away from me. I am now certain that this is her way of saying: “HEY MUSHROOM TUCHES. IF I HAVE TO RUN ACROSS THE FIELD FOR THIS DISGUSTING BALL, THE LEAST YOU CAN DO IF WALK A FEW FEET TO RETRIEVE IT.” Now I get it. It’s her way of playing fetch with me. I shake my head as I obediently walk over to retrieve the ball and kick it toward the cloudy horizon one last time as she spasmodically tries to anticipate its trajectory. I marvel at the fact that somehow, a game that is supposed to be largely physical is actually more mentally challenging with a weimaraner. To be continued…

Canine Couture Challenges

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/28/2011 at 8:45 am

"My shadow is BIGGER than yours."

Trying to find a stylish parka that properly fits a Weimaraner is like trying to find a diamond in a turd. Impossible. 99 percent of the “outerwear” for dogs are made for small Hummel-like flat-chested dogs with much larger bellies. Against my better judgment, I ordered a smart-looking citron-colored winter parka for Olive. It was distinctive, just like Olive. Why an artificial dog coat? The last time Olive and I were at the dog park, she was noticeably cold. I can tell by her non-verbal behavior. When she’s either had enough or she’s cold, she trots over to me and just stands at my side, idling quietly like a Prius. And it was cold that day. About 34 degrees. It wouldn’t be so bad if the dog park weren’t at the top of a mountain that based on a confluence of scientific factors, makes it so windy, it feels like you’re at the top of the North Pole. In fact, on occasion, I think I glimpse an elf squatting in the nearby woods. It is at least 10+ degrees colder at the dog park than anywhere else around it. “LET’S GO OLIVE. IT’S SO COLD UP HERE I THINK MY INTERNAL ORGANS ARE TURNING INTO MEAT-FLAVORED ICE POPS.” I feverishly anticipate the arrival of Olive’s new winter coat and when it comes, I tear open the bag like a heroin addict. I am not disappointed by the color; it is striking. But, my excitement is deflated as I lay it over Olive and try to secure it. Now here is the fundamental problem and a new business opportunity for some dog clothier. Certain dog breeds, like Weimaraners, Greyhounds, Boxers, etc. have deep barrel chests and tiny child-like waists. Most dog outerwear doesn’t account for this, so trying to close the Velcro straps around Olive’s chest is like trying to squeeze a training bra onto Marilyn Monroe. And the Velcro straps around Olive’s waist dangle like a hooker’s earrings about six inches below her. It’s maddening. I finally found a dog parka that fit Olive at Tickners, the local feed and farm store. They had a limited palette of earth tones, but at least this brand got the function part of the design right. Adjustable straps. Genius. “WHICH COLOR DO YOU LIKE OLIVE? NAVY BLUE OR CHOCOLATE BROWN?” “DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO ASK?” she drools. “THE BROWN ONE,” said Olive. It fits perfectly and it does not restrict her ability to run like a pronghorn around the dog park. If only I could say the same for the dog “neck hoodie” I put on Olive. It fit fine, but within seconds, I realized it was not a good idea to wear this accessory to the dog park. The other dogs immediately picked up on this vestigial accoutrement as something to seize on when playing. Just like children on the playground, they immediately zero in on a point of vulnerability and go on the offensive. Animals. I quickly tear the hoodie off Olive and restore her super powers. “FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET. MORE POWERFUL THAN A LOCOMOTIVE. ABLE TO LEAP TALL BUILDINGS IN A SINGLE BOUND. LOOK UP IN THE SKY! IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A PLANE! IT’S SUPER OLIVE!”

Rip Van Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/05/2011 at 7:03 pm


Whenever Olive and I return home from the local dog park, she marches upstairs to the master bedroom wordlessly, hops onto the bed and collapses like a drunken old lady into a deep slumber from which she does not want to be disturbed. There may as well be a cartoon sign that floats above her that says: “DO NOT TOUCH. DO NOT KISS. DO NOT PET. DO NOT STARE AT ME WHILE I’M SLEEPING. AND DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING TO CLEAN MY EARS. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO CLEAN YOUR EARS WHILE YOU’RE SLEEPING? AND I MEAN IT. ALL OF IT.” She’ll stay there, curled up like an overgrown, unhurried fetus for hours. The only way I know she’s still alive is that I hold a mirror up to her big brown nose and watch her breath cloud it up. Just kidding. I do love standing over her though, listening to her snore peacefully and very contentedly. Who knows what she’s dreaming about. Probably the same things we do, only in her dreams, it’s the dogs that speak and around whom all the action revolves. The humans just stand around like tree trunks, barking incessantly in the background. “I’M GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE SOON, I HAVE TO DO A LOAD OF LAUNDRY,” says Olive in her dream. “LAUNDRY?” Says Kira, the snow white Boxer. ‘WHY DO YOU HAVE TO DO LAUNDRY? DOESN’T YOUR HUMAN DO THAT?” “YES,” replies Olive, “BUT SHE SHRINKS ALL MY BED LINENS.” I guess we imagine that emotionally our dog’s lives would be pretty much like our own, but most in the veterinary world would say we’re anthropomorphizing. So what. You fantasize, I’ll anthropomorphize. When you think about it, they’re both imaginary pursuits.


In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/26/2011 at 8:44 pm

"Who's next?"

Yesterday morning, Olive met Kira, a beautiful 10-month old polar white Boxer at the local dog park. On this wonderfully cool morning marked by scattered blue-grey clouds, Olive and Kira, the only two dogs in the park, race nuttily around the grounds oblivious to everything but themselves. When not screaming past their owners like comets streaking across a night sky, the dogs stop every once in awhile to literally box one other. After a couple of sweaty, saliva-flinging rounds, grunting, they wrestle each other to the ground, using their mouths to pin each other by the neck. While it was friendly at all times, clearly they played with the unvarnished vigor of filthy rugby players. All of a sudden, Olive or Kira would stand up like they had been tweaked by a wandering ghost, and they would dig their nails into the dirt and take off as if they were racing with the moon. No matter how far or long they ran, or how many petrified lawn cigars they passed, they would always find their way back to their human companions; drawn to us as if we were giant red and silver-tipped U-shaped magnets. Always moving toward us, they’d tumble over each other like two crazy bowling balls that crossed lanes. It was funny until a combined 150 pounds of lean, muscular grey and white canine power slammed into me, knocking me to the ground like a catatonic bowling pin. I may have gone ass over head. All I saw was the horizon simultaneously moving in different directions. ‘GOOD CHRIST YOU CRAZY DOGS, THAT HURT!” I announce with mock annoyance as I pick myself up from the ground gingerly like an old fart, waiting to determine if I have any broken bones. At least I didn’t lose my glasses. “Are you okay?” says Kira’s owner. I assure him I am; more surprised than anything about being taken out by “Team Kolive.” Of course they didn’t mean it. In their blissful moments of play, living fully in each moment as it occurs, they simply become unaware of their surroundings; as focused as Tibetan monks only on each other. I look up and Olive is standing there with her tongue dangling from her mouth like a tube of bologna. “THIRSTY?” I ask Olive. Panting heavily, she looks at me longingly, as though I have magically materialized into a garden hose. I open the bottled water I’ve brought with me and slowly let some drop into Olive’s mouth which is now wrapped around the upper half of the bottle. Growing impatient as she starts to chew on the plastic bottle, I say, “LET’S GO OLIVE, I THINK I MAY HAVE SPRAINED MY ASS.”

Dog Tired

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners on 06/04/2011 at 3:57 pm

"Don't BOTHER me."

Boy am I tired. I went to the dog park this morning! I made lots of new friends. The Border Collie was a little nutty. He thought we were all sheep. I thought they were supposed to be smart. All he wanted to do was round us all up. I ask you, do I look anything like some matronly sheep? God forbid. Besides, nobody tells me what to do. (Except Patti). Where are my Manolo Blahniks? The cobalt blue cheetah print with the 6-inch heels. I want to eat them. Anyway, I liked the Boxer-Redbone Coonhound mix. A little skittish, but my age and she likes to run too. The German Shepherd was obsessed with a dopey ball. Constantly chasing it as if every time were the first time. And these are the dogs that they use to guide blind people? Hope nobody tosses a ball the dog’s way when they’re crossing a highway. I think I smell cheese. Where did I leave my Nylabone with the orange dental niblets? Maybe I’ll go mess up the bed in the guest bedroom. Where did my friend Willy go? I miss him. I like to watch Patti walk around the entire house calling me, often passing me two or more times curled up in my pony chair in the dining room as though I were invisible. That’s when I channel my inner “Grey Ghost.” What are those fuzzy white things on the lawn that stick to my muzzle? You should see the hole I dug in the backyard the other day. I can see clear to China! Look! There’s the Great Wall? Wait a minute…is that a giant pen? Do I have dirt on my nose? It’s always a dead giveaway. Patti sees it right away and knows there’s a new hole somewhere nearby. At least I don’t bury things, right? Well, not yet anyway. I have to take a nap. Do I snore?

Non-Verbal Cues

In weimaraners on 05/07/2011 at 5:11 pm

"READ my lips."

This morning, Olive and I got to the dog park at around 8am. As we approach the large dog section, a pit bull is waiting to greet us. He starts to become agitated as if Olive’s mere presence has signaled the start of a boxing match. “Is he friendly,” I ask the dog’s owner? “He’s a little iffy,” he says as the dog starts to foam at the mouth and go into full ninja warrior mode. The best way to describe the dog’s aggressive actions and sounds is to call it BLOOD THIRSTY. Is this guy NUTS I think? There’s nothing IFFY about this behavior. Clearly this is a guy who has trouble reading non-verbal signals. He’s probably divorced. “I think we’ll go in the section for small dogs,” I say as I steer Olive as far away from the fence as I can. I’m not sure my friendly pooch has yet recognized that the pit bull wants to eat her…with some fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti. We join the four-month old poodle mix and her owners who have come to the park for the first time. Olive’s overly-friendly exuberant energy scares the poor dog and the owners, rightfully cautious, pick up their pooch. We chat for a little while before they leave and Olive and I make our way into the empty section for large dogs. Olive starts running around like she’s all by herself under the bright sun warming the great Wyoming Plains. I pick up a ratty communal tennis ball to throw to her. Howard Hughes-like, I shudder at the thought of all the bacteria squirming all over this ball, but think “The hell with it. She’s a dog. She’s always got her nose in some other dog’s poop.” Olive races after the ball like a fire engine screaming down a suburban road. She skids to a dusty stop, picks up the ball, trots a few yards with it, then drops it. Typical Olive. From what I’ve read, most Weims think chasing a ball is stupid. She’d probably hate golf, then. I think she figures she’s caught something and then realizes it’s not prey, so what am I wasting my time for? Thankfully, within a few minutes her friend Gabby arrives, a friendly black dog of mixed origin. They run together, box each other, sometimes jumping over and under each other until they look like two kids tangled up in a game of Twister. Olive is so tuckered out today that she’s panting and dripping saliva. I give her a drink from a water bottle which she sloppily slurps up and I put her prong collar back on her, which is much easier when you’re not wearing winter gloves. We make our way back to the car. Olive hops into the back of the hatch, I tell her to “Sit,” and “Stay” which she does on command while I close the hatch. I barely see her through the tinted back window, but it’s enough to see the bright, happy, trusting expression on her face which says, “That was fun. Where are we off to now?”

Two-Headed Leash

In weimaraners on 03/27/2011 at 6:06 pm

"NICE move with the leash today."

When Olive and I are at the dog park, I always remove her Frankenprong so it doesn’t accidently flip to the prong side and spear another dog’s eyeball like an olive on a toothpick. Then, I drape it (still attached to her three-foot leather leash) around my neck, looping the collar through the handle of the leash. This way, the Frankenprong doesn’t get impossibly twisted up and require the skills of a transmission specialist to untangle. Truly, when a prong collar gets tangled, it resembles a bicycle chain that someone’s thrown into a blender operating at supersonic speed. It would be easier to untangle 40 psychotic slinkys. When we get ready to leave and it’s time to get the Frankenprong back on Olive, it’s no easy task. Still in a state of delirious stimulation watching the rest of her friends frolic on the playground, Olive tries to sit still, but it’s like asking a mouse to sit still in front of a giant block of stinky cheese. Impossible. So, with my ski-gloved hands, I fumble for much too long trying to secure the Frankenprong around Olive’s neck while the leash is still wrapped around my neck. It’s like attempting to perform brain surgery while wearing boxing gloves. FINALLY, I get it clasped (or pronged). Only to realize that as Olive starts to take off like a bottle rocket, the leash is now wrapped around my neck like a noose. I kid you not. I was now secure on one end of the leash headfirst, just like Olive was at the other end. Since the leash is only 36-inches long, I realized the predicament I was in rather instantly. I grabbed the leash on Olive’s end and the German Shepherd’s owner helped hold Olive as I unpronged her to get my head out of the noose. I am pretty certain that Olive and her stupid human trick amused everyone at the dog park today.

Little Red Corvette

In weimaraners on 03/27/2011 at 12:08 pm

"CORVETTE? I see myself more as a Lamborghini."

I realized this morning, for the first time, that Olive is my little red corvette. Not because she zips around like one necessarily (although that’s true), and not because of her gorgeous “styling” (although that’s true too) but because she’s the dog I always wanted and for some reason never thought I’d own. I endured all the well-meaning recommendations from friends and strangers to get a rescue dog, and all the well-meaning warnings from a vast pool of legitimate sources about how challenging Weimaraners are to own before chucking them all aside and saying “SCREW IT, I WANT A WEIMARANER.” I’m so glad I always listen to the little voice inside me. It has served me well in life. In fact, I am admittedly a known “info-maniac,” researching a topic deeply partly because I am naturally inquisitive, partly because I love to learn and partly because it informs my decisions in ways that allow me to make choices in life instinctually, intuitively and confidently. Maybe I am part dog. (I should only be so lucky.) As I watched Olive, the elusive rocket race around the dog park this morning followed by a pack of four-legged pooches, each one as unique as the crayons in the familiar orange and green Crayola carton, I marveled at the joy she seems to feel in doing this. It is palpable. At the same time, I melted with the besotted realization that “MY GOD, SHE’S ACTUALLY MINE.” Yes, Weimaraners may not be the easiest breed to live with, but then I’m not the easiest person to live with either. It’s all about context and perspective. On the other hand, I feel like Olive is a sort of intellectual peer and she challenges me. You look into Olive’s beautiful amber eyes ringed with a narrow field of blue and you can see the wheels spinning inside her head. I’m surprised smoke isn’t coming out of her ears because she looks like she’s mentally calculating trigonometry. She is taking everything in, evaluating it and assigning merit or lack thereof. Olive is also exceptionally loyal and loving. I think it’s an awesome combination. And besides, I could never live with a stupid dog. It would be both boring and embarrassing.

Dog Parkology

In Uncategorized on 03/01/2011 at 8:59 pm

Each weekend, I make it a point to take Olive to one of the local dog parks. We have our choice of a few. The smaller park in the wealthier zip code, the larger park in the less desirable zip code or the one so far North in New Jersey, it might as well be at the North Pole. The smaller park is nice because there’s never more than five or six dogs there at a time. The downside is the dirt walkway into the park that sits on a 45-degree incline uphill. Oh, and the turds that line the walkway like bread crumbs in a demented fairy tale. When I see this, I think, “Christ, I wonder what the owner’s homes look like. Maybe they crap in their kitchen.” The larger park sits on top of a mountain and it feels completely wide open like you’re in the wilds of what I imagine Montana or North Dakota might feel like. The disadvantages of this park are 1) it attracts a rough trade, both canine and human, 2) go after 11am and you walk into a mob scene of about 30 dogs and their people, making it feel like a canine version of the old Marlon Brando flick, “On The Waterfont,” and 3) when the snow melts, half the park becomes a frightening petri dish of squirming parasites burrowing through the mud. Olive cares about none of this. She greets all dogs, large, small, attractive, homely, young, old, unemployed, and neurotic with the same gregarious optimism. Tail at full mast, frantically waving back and forth, while she explores the other dog’s biology, physiology, chemistry, psychology, nutritional profile and personal hygiene all with a few tentative sniffs. In dog time, one quick greeting is equivalent to three months of dating. Very efficient. I wonder what goes through Olive’s mind during this ritual and whether dogs are as judgmental of their own species as humans are of theirs. “MY GOD. THE TERRIER SMELLS LIKE A SWEATY JOCKSTRAP. HE ALSO PICKS HIS NOSE WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING. AND HE IS A SUBMISSIVE URINATOR. WHAT A TURN OFF.” Laugh, but if there’s another weimaraner at the park, Olive picks out her doppleganger immediately as if she were picking a long lost relative out of a police line-up. Clearly, she recognizes her own breed. (Probably from staring at herself in the mirror so much) She is however, without prejudice. She will run at lightning fast speed from any other dog silly enough to chase her. The combination of her speed, grace and stamina never fails to call attention to her. I can actually see Olive’s head ballooning as she hears the “oohs” and “ahs” of the crowd as she races by them once, twice, again and again and again…Finally, she zooms past me like a five year-old pleading “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!” She actually sprayed me with mud around lap #10. As my boots squish in the filthy pudding beneath my feet, sinking deeper and deeper into the earth, I notice one of the other dogs starting to get a bit testy, and I say to Olive, “C’mon, let’s get out of here before you need to be vaccinated for syphilis.”

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