Patti Soldavini

Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Shar-Pei Bookends

In dogs, humor, pets, writing on 08/14/2012 at 6:28 pm

“Hey, Where ARE we?”

Meet Andy and Simona, 10- and eight-weeks old respectively. Here, they are impersonating bookends.

 

Protecting Olive

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

“Hahahahahahahahahaha.”

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.”

Olive: The Master Manipulator

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 04/06/2012 at 8:38 am

"Do you like my impression of a HYENA?"

The vet just called, confirming what I suspected. Olive’s urinalysis is fine. Negative. Clear. Pristine. Possibly on par with non-sparkling water from an icy-blue stream at the foot of the Colorado Rockies. Essentially, I paid $59 to learn that my dog is a master manipulator. She does not have a bladder infection. She just pretends to so I have to let her in and out of the house 60 times a day. Is this why only I can hear her laugh?

Weimaraner Licks Squirrel to Death

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/02/2012 at 12:12 pm

"Maybe I did, maybe I didn't."

Always listen to the tiny voice inside your head. The one that intuits that something is not quite right. Such as “WHY IS OLIVE SPENDING AN UNUSUAL AMOUNT OF TIME IN THE FAR CORNER OF HER PEN? She usually runs to this corner because it gets muddy when it rains and it makes it easier for her to dig a hole until she reaches the earth’s core. I don’t know what she thinks she’s going to find there. Perhaps the answer to one of life’s greatest mysteries—how planet Earth formed—will be unearthed. Or, maybe she’ll find that the earth’s core is really just all of a previous planet’s garbage compressed into a seismic landfill. And like a ball of clay, God keeps molding new planets from old when we wear them out. Or maybe she’ll discover a petrified piece of Juicy Fruit gum. Olive’s obsessive preoccupation with the corner of her pen is revealed the next day when finally, I walk outside to see what she’s up to. There it is. On the outer perimeter of her pen’s black chain link fence, trapped between the fence and the railroad tie retaining wall is a dead squirrel. “GREAT,” I announce to no one in particular, “ANOTHER DEAD ANIMAL I HAVE TO PICK UP.” Its back is laying right up against the fence, so while Olive couldn’t really nibble on it, she could certainly sniff and lick it. As I make my way to the garage to fetch the garden cultivator which does secondary duty as a rodent removal system, I wonder what the state of rigor mortis will be. Will the squirrel be as stiff as a board and as light as a kernal of popped popcorn? Or will it be as limber as a spaghetti noodle and heavy? Gross. As I carefully perch atop the four-foot retaining wall, I tentatively work the long-handled garden cultivator into the 12-inch crevice. I ladle the dead squirrel up while Olive watches from inside her pen with rapt attention. “HUH, IT’S PRETTY LIGHT,” I notice. I gingerly pull it all the way up, careful not to drop it. As I walk down the driveway with Chip ‘n Dale’s cousin, I silently marvel about how well honed my rodent removal skills have become when suddenly, Rocky, the no-longer flying squirrel tumbles off his steel stretcher. “SHIT, NOW I HAVE TO PICK IT UP AGAIN.” Olive hasn’t taken her eyes off us yet. I scoop the fuzzy grey carcass back up, walk across the street and fling it into the empty cornfield which is now populated by the ghosts of many pheasants. Thank God that cornfield is big enough to hold herds of elephants.

The Dirty Little Hole-Digger

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 02/25/2012 at 7:26 pm

"WHAT? No hole?"

Here’s my dirty little hole-digger. The dog who should have had the lead role in the Disney movie, “Holes.” Her 75’ x 20’ pen looks like a post-hole digging test site. I let Olive out to do potty and she distracts herself by digging holes and then stuffing her mouth with dirt, or when it’s available, grass seed. I often catch her in the act. She is not the least bit embarrassed. She stops digging and looks up at me indignantly as if to say “WHAT? WHAT? CAN’T YOU SEE I’M BUSY?” I knit my brows and just stare at the smudge of light brown soil on her darker brown nose, complemented by bits of terra firma resting on top of her snout and delicately perched atop her whiskers. “MY GOD, OLIVE. RIGHT NOW YOUR NOSE LOOKS LIKE YOUR REAR BLOWHOLE.” She could care less. She resumes digging, eventually frantically raking both front paws across the “pilot” hole to get the job done faster. Stand behind her and you’ll get an unforgettable dirt shower. The other day when I went into her pen to collect all the fecal nuggets, I find one that had so many grass seeds in it, it could have passed for a baby porcupine. I shake my head thinking, if they did an ultrasound on her now, they’d probably find a chia pet growing from the inside out. All of this explains why the water in Olive’s water bowl is the filthiest I have ever seen. Really. I have to change it at least three times a day. One, because it’s gross and two, because the Princess will not drink out of it unless it’s as clear as a Colorado mountain stream. There’s bits of wood, dirt, grass seed, insect corpses and God knows what else. I’m surprised there aren’t sea monkeys floating in it. Yes, weimaraners are champion hole diggers. You could probably train them to dig holes when you are planting shrubs or flowers. And if you don’t want them digging up your flowers, you’d better give them an area in which they can dig to their heart’s content. Maybe when it gets a bit warmer, I’ll put some peanut butter on a stick and bury it to see if she can find it. That might keep her busy for about 10 minutes. “ARE YOU FINISHED?” I ask Olive. She bolts into the house through the sliding glass door, rockets past me, and the next thing I know, I see dirty pawprints all over the rug. Not surprisingly, they lead to Olive standing near the foot of the stairs, with a big toothy Osmond-like smile on her face.

Atomic Diarrhea

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 01/14/2012 at 2:35 pm

DO NOT DISTURB

Today, the plan was to drive down the Parkway to the Jersey shore to visit a boyhood friend of my father’s. I was going to interview him and his wife as part of my genealogical preservation efforts. This couple is but one of a handful of people still living who knew both my parents (now deceased) and whom I myself have memories of when our families got together over the years. I had planned on taking Olive with me as I take her everywhere that she is welcome. However, the trip had to be postponed as Olive is recovering from two days of atomic diarrhea. There was no way I was going to leave her at home crated for up to 8 hours under these conditions. Not for her safety and because I didn’t feel like turning her crate and the finished basement into a monochromatic Jackson Pollack painting. I also didn’t think it was fair to take a dog suffering from explosive bouts of diarrhea to someone else’s house. I mean, how do you apologize for that. “I’M REALLY SORRY SHE SPRAYED YOUR COUCH. DO YOU HAVE ANY BLEACH?” Besides, it would be a new experience for Olive and therefore, even a bit stressful for her which was the last thing she needed. It started on late Thursday afternoon, when Olive assumes the familiar “poop-crouch.” As she starts to push, it sounds like an explosion detonates. Neither of us expected this and Olive is so startled by the sound alone, that she jumps up, does a 180, and looks behind her as if to say “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT AND WHERE DID IT COME FROM?” Really, if it wasn’t so pitiful, I would have laughed out loud. This happens again and again and while I am monitoring her for signs of dehydration, I am getting a little freaked out because it just deteriorates to the point that when she crouches, it looks like a garden hose spraying mud. What now, I think? This dog has a digestive system that is as sensitive as an exposed nerve. There is no apparent thread of consistency between situations when Olive experiences these episodes, which makes it just maddening. On Friday we go to the vet who admires my deftness in securing a non-contaminated sample of the diarrhea in a disposable plastic mealsaver. “ IT ACTUALLY WASN’T SO HARD TO GET,” I SAY. “I’M JUST GLAD I DIDN’T GET SPRAYED.” (I suppress the desire to tell her about Olive’s massive series of explosions on the carpeting in the basement yesterday which I still have to RE-clean. The funny thing was, Olive kept going into the two bathrooms just prior. My God, does she think that THIS is where she should go under these circumstances? This dog is so smart it’s scary.) We discuss what it could be affecting Olive, what it probably is, (irritable bowel syndrome) what we can do to help her right now and what next steps we should take. $261 later, my dog has been injected with fluids subcutaneously to keep her from dehydrating, she has three prescriptions for medication (Carafate, Metronidazole and Reglan), and her watered-down stool is being tested for Giardia. Oh, and she has an ultrasound scheduled for Monday morning. That’s $350. If I were someone going to med school for people, I think I’d rethink my career. Veterinary science and petcare doesn’t appear to have been compromised by insurance companies yet. Since I feel so sorry for Olive, and because I want to keep one eye on her, I let her sleep in bed with me last night. I didn’t sleep at all. She seemed to sleep fairly well until about 4am, when she just couldn’t get comfortable no matter how many times she spun around to change position. And now I hear her stomach gurgling like a backed-up sewer pipe. When I finally rise from bed a few hours later, Olive stays uncharacteristically curled up on the bed. I go over to her and kiss the top of her velvety-soft head and her beautiful amber eyes look up at me as if to say. “I’M NOT MOVING.” So, I leave her there and go about my morning rituals. At around 9:30 that morning, the vet calls to check on Olive’s progress and to report that the Giardia test came back negative. That’s a relief. Getting rid of Giardia is like trying to get rid of dandelions. By now, I have administered all three doses of medication to Olive and she actually seems to be feeling a little better. This sounds counter intuitive, but because a weimaraner’s energy level is always at 150 precent, when Olive’s not feeling well, it’s at about 120 percent, so it’s a little difficult to identify listlessness or lethargy. Today as I write this, I’m trying to keep Olive calm and relaxed. It seems to be working. Right now, she’s curled up in her sage-colored Orvis bed in my office and casually sniffing the dry heat being emitted from the electric baseboard heater. Once she gets up, she’ll do what she’s been doing for the last three days; staying so close to me while I’m walking that it’s as if she’s been sewn onto my pants leg. God, I love this dog.

 

Christmas Daze

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 01/07/2012 at 7:54 pm

"So, that's IT?"

“Christmas is over? I won’t be getting any more presents? I like Santa. I wonder if he tastes like chicken. Ppfffffftttttttt. Excuse me. I must have eaten one too many elves. WHERE IS MY NEW KNUCKLEBONE? Ouch, I think I just layed on my new dental toy with all those nice little plastic niblets that I love to floss my teeth with. Are there any other holidays like Christmas? Does this mean I’m catholic? By the way, that little baby in the manger by the tree? It was very tasty. It’s not my fault. Who the heck leaves a baby in a barn by itself next to a bunch of animals? Now, I’m thirsty. Do I smell lampchop? Is that me? Uh-oh, my stomach is making funny noises. HEY HEY HEY, I NEED TO GO OUTSIDE NOWWWWWWW!

Ring Around The Tail

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 01/07/2012 at 7:41 pm

"I win!"

Weimaraner Lovebirds

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/07/2011 at 10:25 pm

"Am I DREAMING?"

Olive fell in love this past weekend. It was love at first sniff. She jumped up on the love seat (how appropriate) and sidled up next to my niece whom she met for the very first time. The two of them layed side by side while I, the proverbial third wheel, occupied the couch across from the lovebirds. “BIRDS, OLIVE. DID YOU HEAR THAT? YOU ACTUALLY ACTED LIKE A BIRD.” Within minutes, Olive drifted off to sleep, secure enough to stretch her long graceful body out fully and throw her front paws across Jennifer’s lap. While my dog was spooning my niece, occasionally opening a single amber eye halfway to make sure I hadn’t left the premises, I took a moment to appreciate Olive’s amazing open-heartedness with all members of the human race. She races up to strangers we encounter with a friendliness that is so genuine and enthusiastic that most people immediately reach out to her, fearlessly acknowledging her loving nature. She is instantly rewarded by these people with a very vigorous petting that once in awhile borders on the questionable. This makes her ecstatic of course. She twists and twirls her body around, offering every angle up for human contact. Earlier that evening, Olive accompanied Jennifer, my sister and me to the local Christmas celebration on Main Street. As we walked up and down the sidewalk, stopping to listen to the children standing on the steps of a local church singing Christmas Carols and taking note of all the people lined up for carriage rides, Olive reveled in all the energy that bounced off the people around us. Surrounded by a constantly shifting amoeba-like crowd of endorphin-jazzed adults and children, all squealing with delight when they see Olive, they all ask, actually plead with me, “CAN I PET YOUR DOG?” So there Olive stands, tail wagging furiously while multiple pairs of hands pet her simultaneously. It’s so unbelievable. You can actually feel people’s hearts beat a little quicker, their spirits rising with each stroke of Olive’s back or head. How apropos. It is so cool that while my dog gives me great joy, apparently she has so much left over, she shares it with everyone she meets.

Nicknames

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/29/2011 at 1:30 pm

"Did you CALL?"

I love assigning nicknames to people and pets. They are usually so much more appropriate than their given names. When we name babies, their names become self-fulfilling prophecies; expectations and destinies to live up to. All before the child has taken a step or uttered a word. It makes me chuckle and shake my head when I hear the names that some celebrities give their children…all in the drive to impart a sense of “specialness” and “uniqueness” upon their offspring. They give them names like “Apple,” “Kal-El,” “Maddox,” “Fifi Trixibelle,” “Ocean,” “Tu,” “Zuma,” “Moxie Crimefighter,” and of course, “Prince Michael II,” and “Blanket.” And yes, “Pilot Inspektor.” It will likely take a whole lot of character and self-esteem to weather all the unwanted attention and bullying when they are in school. On the other hand, we tend to name our pets based on either how they look or how they behave. Which when you think about it makes more sense. Many years ago, Italian ancestors took on surnames that were based on, among other things, a distinguishing characteristic. For example, the surname Da Zoppa means “Son of the Cripple,” and Magnavacca means “Eat a cow.” This is probably the genesis from where latter day mafia nicknames originated, as in Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero, and Bobby “Bacala” Baccalieri.” Originally, I thought about naming Olive, “Rocket” because she zoomed around the house at high speed and used all the furniture as launching pads, but it seemed too masculine and sounded dopey when I called it out. With this all being said, I have many nicknames for Olive, most based on some aspect of her behavior or her anatomy. For example, when she is barking too much, I refer to her as either “Noisebox,” or “French Horn.” When she’s just all tweaked up with pent up energy, I call her “Nuthatch,” “Nut Nut,” or “Crazy Pants.” And when she’s sticking her big proud barrel chest out at me, I remark, “Oh Hi, it’s you Chesty Larue.” Oh, it goes on and on. I’m careful though to use these names to refer to her and not to call her. Otherwise, she’d end up either psycho or just ignore me. “Right Olive?” “OLIVE?”

Olive Jar

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners on 10/29/2011 at 12:41 pm

"MY Jar."

I ask you…How could I not get Olive this handpainted ceramic biscuit jar from Mary Naylor Designs when her name is pictorially represented on it? I actually preferred one of the other designs, but there was no way I could bypass a design that had olives painted on it.

Velvet Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/22/2011 at 9:07 pm

"What the hell is VELVET?"

As Olive and I approached the crosswalk in front of the local middle school the other day, the crossing guard enters the street with arms extended protecting us from morning traffic and says, “Whenever I see her coming down the street, all I see is velvet.” “Her” of course, is Princess Olive, the unofficial symbol of the United States Velvet Council. Olive hears this and somehow understands that she’s just been paid a compliment in an indirect, complex manner. She responds physically. Her tool of choice? Her proud unyielding tail. It starts snapping back and forth, creating a stiff breeze. Inevitably, she starts becoming more and more animated. It creates the impression that someone has used her tail as a crank to wind her up. The whole scene reminds me of the animated children’s classic TV show, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” when Rudolph, expressing his joy that the young doe likes him, takes off into the air and flies for the first time. And then, upon his less than graceful landing, his black prosthetic nose pops off to reveal his red blinking honker. When we reach the other side of the street, Olive does what she always does in situations that she is not ready to leave. She jumps up on me, placing her paws on my chest in a subtle display that says “HEY. WAIT A MINUTE. STOP. I WANT TO STICK AROUND HERE FOR A FEW MORE MINUTES.” It is the equivalent of having a three-year old child tugging on the bottom of your coat to stop you from passing the candy store. As much as I always hate doing this, I brush her aside back onto all four feet and say, “HEY NUTCRACKER, LOOK! THERE’S AN OBESE FINCH WITH A BROKEN LEG.” You can actually see the switch in Olive’s brain being re-directed as her head pivots 360-degrees searching to locate this bright yellow delicacy. She’s forgotten the crossing guard.

Caught Red-Pawed

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/16/2011 at 2:11 pm

"I didn't do it."

I don’t know. Do you believe her? Can you tell I just yanked the expensive ball of fresh mozzarella cheese out of her mouth? It was still wrapped but it had at least one puncture wound. Like an idiot, I left it on the new kitchen countertop while I walked out of the room for SECONDS. This dog doesn’t miss a trick. Luckily, I don’t usually leave food out; the cheese was minding its own business as I had just rescued it from the plastic shopping bag in which it was suffocating. So, do I eat the cheese or not? Hell yes. For a $7 ball of cheese, I’ll just irrigate the wound and slice the offending piece away. Not much will keep me from enjoying a fresh mozzarella, sundried tomato and pesto sandwich. I think she’s sorrier that she didn’t eat it before I caught her; the fist-sized ball of soft cheese wrapped in plastic, nestled softly between her powerful molars like a fresh little quail. I’m sure you’ll try again Olive.

On The Road

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/16/2011 at 1:55 pm

"I LIKE the view!"

Yesterday, Olive and I went for a leisurely afternoon drive, winding our way down quiet country roads flecked with smudges of red, orange and gold. Autumn leaves tumble stem over blade, grazing the windshield as the next gust of wind carries them off to another temporary resting place. Olive begins these destination-less trips by poking her head between the two front seats to share the same view I have. She always seems to be slightly amazed by what she sees and tracks the cars in front of us as though they are plump rabbits running away from us. “THIS IS A MUCH BETTER VIEW THAN OUT OF THE REAR OR SIDE WINDOWS ISN’T IT OLIVE?” She looks at me as if to nod “yes,” and goes back to fixating on the view out the windshield. Finally, she settles back down onto the rear bench, maintaining a forward-looking vantage point. As I continue to drive, raising my arm out the window upward as if to high five the wind, I wonder how anyone could ever live someplace where they don’t get to experience the natural magnificence of a Northeastern Fall. It is unthinkable to me. This was a quintessential Autumn day. Cue the marching band at the local football game, pumpkins sitting on doorsteps, the scent of hot cider and donuts wafting through the air and the squeals and giggles of children enjoying a hayride. I swear, days like this make all the hot, humid, stinkbug-filled Summer days and all the frost-bitten, see-your-breath bone-chilling winter days worth it. “WHERE IN GOD’S NAME ARE WE GOING?” says Olive. “I HAVE TO PEE AND I’M GETTING HUNGRY.” Of course she doesn’t verbalize this, but I am exceptionally talented at reading non-verbal communication cues. “OKAY, OKAY, LET ME JUST TAKE A PICTURE OF THIS OLD BARN, THEN WE’LL TURN AROUND AND GO HOME.” My God, it’s like having a two-year old. One who would rather eat diapers than wear them. I look back at Olive’s adorably inquisitive face and I swear I hear, “ARE WE THERE YET?”

The Perils of Olive: The Sequel

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/08/2011 at 6:57 pm

"But what does it MEAN?"

If only I had had some tiny board game clue that the day before was only the beginning of a marathon that I didn’t recall signing up for. I awaken and squint my legally blind eyes to try to decipher the Buick-sized digital display on the clock. 7:08am. Thanks you idiot alarm clock. You have just one job to do and you’ve failed to do it. I check the alarm and it is indeed set for 6am. I guess it’s sleeping in today. I change out of my pajamas into clothes faster than Clark Kent turning into Superman. No shower needed as I took one just four hours ago. I grab Olive, run down the stairs, open the garage door and am confronted by torrential sheets of rain. It is worse than when Hurricane Irene came through. Olive looks at me. There is a giant question mark over her head. Simultaneously as this symbol symbolically appears, Olive takes a few steps backward. “ARE YOU INSANE? I’M NOT GOING OUT IN THIS.” she says. I look at her apologetically as I grab my pool blue umbrella and lead her outside. I watch the water pooling all over the front yard. The road in front of the house is already under four inches of water. So this is what they mean by “flash flooding,” I intuit. For once, Olive empties her biological waste tanks quickly as though someone whispered in her ear that there was a sale at Nordstrom’s she didn’t want to miss. I crate her, jump in my car and off I go accompanied by a persistent feeling of a fait accompli. “There’s no way I’m making this appointment today.” I think. “It’s only going to get worse as I travel East.” Sure enough, a short way ahead I see a line of cars trying to squeeze through the one lane tunnel that is choking on 6 inches of water. Eventually, I emerge from the tunnel only to be confronted by an endless unbroken line of angry red taillights. “SCREW THIS,” I pick up my iphone and call the Doctor’s office to re-schedule my appointment. I take the longer way home to avoid using my car as a hovercraft again. Within 10 minutes I’m back home. Olive is perplexed to see me return so quickly but she’s deliriously happy. All is well for about 11 and one half hours. At 8:30pm, we come back in after Olive’s mid-evening dump. I start to towel her off which is an event all in itself. She thinks it’s a game and starts tearing at the towel, making drying her off a fruitless exercise. As the orange and yellow striped towel whips around her head and face, I think I hear Olive start to barf. I quickly pull the towel back and…nothing. That was weird, I think. Until I lift the towel up and a mound of brown puke with mostly undigested food drops on my foot like shepherd’s pie with a distinct and memorable “SPLATZ.” As my brain begins to process this, Olive is still vomiting. I wait until she’s done and then I clean it all up and we go upstairs to watch TV from the couch. At 10pm, on the way to bed, Olive gives a command performance. There is now bitless brown vomit in the bedroom, my office and a small bile-like cluster in the hallway. All on the carpeting. As I give a command performance of my own, I thank God the carpeting has not been replaced yet. Could this be a reaction to the injections she received a day earlier? My guess is probably, but now I’m paranoid enough to sleep little throughout the night, eyeballing Olive next to me to make sure she’s ok. In the morning, I feed her breakfast and watch her closely. Sure enough, within two hours, up comes all her expensive organic dog food. “GUESS WHERE WE’RE GOING TODAY OLIVE? YUP. BACK TO THE VET.” As we wait in the vet’s office, I watch each owner and pet walk through the doors. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. “WTF,” I think, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IS TODAY CAT DAY?” Although Olive doesn’t feel herself, she’s still firing on most of her cylinders every time she sees a cat come through the door. After seeing the vet, we walk out one x-ray, one CBC test, four meds and about $400 less later. No bowel obstruction, thankfully. But wicked gas. Yes, gas. Apparently so much gas, the food couldn’t even squeeze past the foul vapors fermenting in her intestines. Olive is packing more methane gas than a cattle ranch. We go home and I’m so confused about the meds regimen that I feel like a Medicare patient. She gets one an hour before meals on an empty stomach. Another half tablet twice a day when the moon is full. And yet another full tablet once a day when a leprechaun knocks on the door. I actually draft a schedule otherwise I’d never get it right. It’s so detailed, it looks like a friggin’ bus schedule. And just for the record, I do screw up administering one of the pills on this day. “CHRIST OLIVE, YOU’VE GOT 4 MEDS TO TAKE. WHAT KIND OF ROTTING VERMIN DID YOU EAT TO CAUSE ALL THIS? I CAN’T IMAGINE IT WAS WORTH THE FEW SECONDS OF PLEASURE IT CREATED WHEN IT USED YOUR TONGUE AS A SLIDE.” I say this as I make a grand gesture toward Olive who cares only about the greasy little beefy pill pockets she’s about to inhale. Done. I think. I hope. Christ, I’m exhausted. And then the alarm clock goes off. At 7pm.

 

 

Ancient Annie Hall

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/26/2011 at 8:10 pm

"Whoa. What the HELL was that?"

Today, Olive and I witnessed a most unusual sight at a local mailbox. As we were getting into the car after our morning walk, out of the corner of my eye I see an ordinary looking car pull up to the mailbox. And out steps Annie Hall. Old Annie Hall. Annie Hall as she might look in her early 70s. Dressed like Annie Hall from the ‘70s. When she was in her 20s. “HOLY CRAP OLIVE, LOOK. IT’S ANCIENT ANNIE HALL.” And there before us is a woman, clearly a long-term member of AARP, standing at the mailbox depositing a letter. Her long platinum blonde hair is framed by large, dark sunglasses. It’s also partially entombed by a black wool beret. Her hair comes to rest just below her shoulders in a limp loose curl. It gets better. She wore a temperately inappropriate wool suit; a long-sleeved golden graham-colored jacket with a matching skirt that thankfully was car-length. While the combination of her age and couture caught my eye, it did not register until now just how weird it was that she was essentially wearing winter clothes on a morning where the temperature had already climbed to 70+ degrees. Geez, maybe we just witnessed a terrorist act of some sort. Although Old Annie Hall better fit the profile of an overly ripened female Soviet Spy as opposed to a female Muslim extremist. And while her outfit wasn’t quite “Annie Hall,” that was the immediate impression it created. It was a striking sight. Neither bad nor good, just odd. High contrast on so many different levels. I finished wrangling Olive into the back seat of the car, releasing the leash from her Frankenprong only when she was safely inside. I look at the old woman once more and look back at Olive who is wondering why in God’s name all my attention is not focused on her and her alone. Olive looks at me with her incredibly sweet, innocent face, ready to believe anything I tell her. “SEE OLIVE, THAT’S WHAT BULLY STICKS LOOK LIKE JUST BEFORE THEY’RE PROCESSED.”

Happy Tail

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/19/2011 at 9:56 pm

A brief (23 second) video starring Olive’s charismatic tail. My first attempt at editing audio in imovie. A little sloppy, but a good start. One of my favorite things about Olive is how she expresses so much emotion through her tail. What you are about to see is how Olive’s tail behaves for much of the time during a typical day. More discussion on her tail at a later date. Enjoy.

GreyDog’s Anatomy

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/13/2011 at 9:44 pm

"Is that a NIPPLE!"

It happens every day. On our walks, Olive and I are inevitably greeted by a passing pedigree-ignorant stranger with, “Is that a Greyhound?” By now, after encountering 18-months of this, I probably either scowl or chuckle without realizing it. “Actually, she’s a Weimaraner. German. A hunting dog. Go ahead, lay down on the sidewalk and she’ll bring you over to me in her mouth.” I never verbalize the last part, I just think it. I used to think that the reason why Olive gets mis-identified as a Greyhound is because she is grey and she’s a hound. But I’ve come to realize that it’s more complex than that. One of my friends pointed out that it might be because Olive is so tall. Even when she’s not in her Jimmy Choos. I also think it’s because Olive has a deep barrel chest, well developed “brisket,” AND a very high “tuck up.” In non-dog and non-medical terms, it is an elegant, accentuated upward slope of her undercarriage. I can’t believe  it’s taken me this long to so eloquently articulate this. (Heavy sarcasm) “OLIVE. GET OVER HERE. I NEED TO CHECK YOUR UNDERCARRIAGE.” “NO WAY. YOU JUST WANT TO COUNT MY NIPPLES AGAIN.” She’s right. I have been obsessed with this ever since I realized that dogs have only 10 nipples. (I can’t believe I just said ‘only.’) What is the significance of this? It means that Olive’s mother Lacy, who had a litter of 11, was one nipple short. And to this day, I’m convinced that Olive was the pup shortchanged by this genetic fact. Why do I think this? Because my dog will spot a nipple of any kind from as far away as Neptune. Any kind of nipple. The nipple on a baby bottle. On a balloon. On an exercise ball. On a tire. On a swim tube. Poor Olive, always chasing the eternally missing nipple.

Dear Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/07/2011 at 5:06 pm

"And how does that make you FEEL?"

I am pleased to announce that Olive Pimento Soldavini is now authoring a dog advice column. You’ll find it in the Main Menu at the top under DEAR OLIVE. In this column, Olive helps other dogs understand their humans, overcome their fears and become the best dog they can possibly be. Check back every now and then to see what advice Olive is offering. About this photo: Taken by my nephew John, I suspect he actually posed her (although that would not be easy to do given her independent spirit, overall squiggiliness and desire to play) because I have never in my life seen her sit quite like this.

Olive Warhol

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/26/2011 at 9:46 pm

Psychedelic Olive

Perhaps Andy Warhol had segmented eyes like bees do. Add some hallucinogenic mushrooms and perhaps this explains how he saw the world of pop culture around him. Olive has been Warhol-ized by my cousin, Christine Kolenda. The “Blue Olive” on the day-glo lime-colored background reminds me of Blue Dog, created by George Rodrigue. (Do you think he dumped the “z” at the end to sound more French than Spanish?”) The “Brown Olive” against the Tiffany Robin’s egg-blue background makes her seem like a canine version of a chocolate Easter Bunny. The “Grape Olive” against the lollipop red-background suggests to me, Olive’s insatiable desire to be constantly in motion, like a three year-old on a sugar bender. And the “St. Patrick’s Day Olive” resting on the butter-colored background? Clearly, Olive is about to projectile vomit some putrid thing she just ate and regretted. ‘WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS OLIVE? BEING IMMORTALIZED IN AN ANDY WARHOL-LIKE PRINT?” “MY GOD, I’M CUTE. AREN’T I?” said Olive. DOES THAT MAKE ME A NARCISSIST?” “NO MORE THAN LICKING YOURSELF DOES,” I say.

Olive Makes Out

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/25/2011 at 10:01 pm

"Can't you see I'm BUSY?"

When Olive thought no one was looking, I caught her kissing my nephew, John. ‘YES, OLIVE, I HAVE PICTURES OF IT TOO.” Hopefully, prior to “the kiss,” she didn’t just clean her palate in a biological sort of way.

 

Cartoon Moment

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/13/2011 at 4:07 pm

"What the hell was THAT?"

So there we are on the front lawn last night. Me holding the anti-bear flashlight while Olive scent scans the environment. All of a sudden, a common yellow moth bobs and weaves its way into Olive’s personal space. Not a good idea. It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Olive tracks the moth as it orbits her, observing its erratic flight pattern, waiting no doubt for an opportune moment to strike. And then it comes. Olive waits calmly and patiently until the moth dances so closely to her that it appears that it will touch down on her nose. In one elegantly swift move, Olive lunges at the moth like a champion fencer. She opens her mouth and then snaps it shut around Tinkerbell. Within seconds, probably after experiencing the odd sensation of a moth fluttering around inside her mouth and tickling her tonsils, Olive’s mouth pops open and out flies the moth unharmed as if it has simply emerged from a tunnel, making it feel uniquely like an absurd cartoon moment.

Nose Lever

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/03/2011 at 8:17 pm

"WHAT pink spot?"

Thank God Olive had her photography session before she decided to impersonate Michael Jackson’s nose. That’s right, my beautiful monochromatic monkey semi-disfigured herself apparently trying to use her nose as a lever, probably trying to escape from her crate when I went out for an hour a few nights ago. Now, there’s a bright pink spot the size of a large green pea on the bridge of her nose. It used to be brown. Now it’s like looking at someone with a decidedly noticeable imperfection on their face; so much so, that it’s the first thing that you see. Then, only after seeing the person for the 8,000th time, does it become “invisible” to you. If you like the person. If you don’t like them, then the imperfection becomes even more annoying. Clearly, it’s an unintended focal point. It’s like seeing a calcified horn sprout from a friend’s forehead and doing everything you can not to stare at it. But it’s impossible. And yet it’s just as difficult not to telegraph your discomfort by turning away. Somehow, you have to look straight through them as though they are Casper The Friendly Ghost and carry on a lucid conversation. At least Olive doesn’t have to worry about things like that. Dogs don’t care if you have a horn sprouting from your head. Impale a marshmallow on it and you’ve just created a peace offering. (This just made me drool for a Mallomar; a seasonal confection unique to the Mid-Atlantic States). Olive will always be beautiful to me, no matter how many scars she collects. As I sit here writing this, Olive is asleep on the couch behind me, the pink “badge” on her nose resting on my black pants. Hopefully, this heals and darkens. Until then, I’ll just look at it like it’s the mole on Cindy Crawford’s face.

Weimaraner Zebra

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/30/2011 at 7:20 pm

"NO, I'm not quite feeling myself yet."

Last Monday night, I dropped Olive off at her Trainer’s in preparation for my out-of-town business trip the next morning. I am grateful that I can leave Olive in the hands of someone she knows and someone who knows how to handle dogs—even the most challenging. As Shelley and her daughter Amanda secure Olive in the crate in the back of their car, I feel the familiar separation anxiety (mine), which like an air biscuit in church, I try hard to suppress. Little did Olive know that she’d end up with a human companion who is actually much like herself. I try not to think about her as I drive home, focusing on navigating my way through the thick fog suspended above the roads like endless giant cottonballs, deciding that I should no longer take the long, winding, narrow, steep back roads at night ESPECIALLY when it’s so foggy out. I get home and turn on the documentary “Something’s Wrong with Aunt Diane” on HBO. It is both catastrophically sad, chilling and perplexing. I wonder what Olive is doing right now, I think. Every so often, I continue to think about Olive throughout the next three days at my business meeting. I really do miss her and hate being away from her. Yeah, I guess I’m head over heels in love with my goofy dog. I wait until early Wednesday evening to text Shelley: “IS OLIVE BEHAVING?” Zing. The reply? ‘NO, DID YOU GET MY EMAIL?” ‘NO, IS EVERYTHING OKAY?” Zing. I can’t even wait for the reply; I panic and immediately call Shelley who informs me that Olive barked non-stop from the time she got her home at 10pm Monday night until 4am on Tuesday morning. “SHE BARKS AT EVERYTHING,” says Shelley, ‘BUTTERFLIES, BIRDS, BEES, THE WIND, YOU NAME IT.” She barked so much in fact, that the three teenagers living in the house, vacated it in the middle of the night. And then I remembered. This house was new to Olive, and there were new people living there; it was now a more active environment that Shelley lived in. This kind of change is challenging to Weims who are always in a state of “high alert.” “THAT’S NEW, BARK BARK. THAT’S DIFFERENT, BARK BARK. WHAT’S THAT? BARK BARK. WHO ARE YOU? BARK BARK. WHAT’S GOING ON? BARK BARK. I felt sorry for everyone. No one in Shelley’s family got to sleep. And poor Olive was on guard duty all night in an unfamiliar house filled with new, unfamiliar faces. She probably felt overwhelmed by the challenge of trying to “manage” all the kinetic activity around her. She sure must have barked herself out because when she returned home, the first time she barked, it sounded funny; unlike her usual barrel-chested bark, it sounded somewhat strained. Like a fat opera singer with laryngitis. Pitiful. She also seemed a bit tranquil and tentative at the same time. Like someone who couldn’t decide if they were just exhausted or had post traumatic stress disorder. She marched straight into her Beverly Hills 90210 crate last night and went right to sleep. She even skipped jumping up on the bed to spend some time with me. Today, after our walk, Olive spent much of the day stretched out on top of the back of the couch, sunning herself in front of the South-facing windows like a grey panther in the Great Plains of Africa who has just finished a very satisfying wildlife meal. Back home. Back in her quiet environment. Back to her dinner mixed with sweet potatoes. Back to just having to watch one person. Back to being herself. Right now, she’s in the dining room, zonked out on the pony-print chair, head resting on its arm, snoring ever so lightly. Peace at last. For all.

Naked Crate

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/29/2011 at 9:48 pm

"IT'S ABOUT TIME YOU'RE HOME."

“You’re finally home. I’ve been up for days. Where have you been? I barked so much I think I ruptured my bark box. Why did you leave me? Are you okay? Why am I only speaking in sentences of three words? Did you know that I had to sleep in a NAKED crate? One without any soft downy pillows and fluffy blankets? Christ, my bony ass hurts. I’m thirsty. Why couldn’t you take me with you? The garbage can stinks like hell. Not a good idea to throw a 15 pound frozen turkey in it on a 106-degree day and then take off for three days. Thanks for finally moving it away from my pen. Can I have a bully stick? Did you miss me? Can I sleep next to you on the couch? I missed you. ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

To Jump or Not to Jump

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/18/2011 at 7:37 pm

"I can see myself!"

That is the question Olive faced (literally) as she stood poised over the edge of the in ground pool at my friend Ellen’s home in Virginia. We tried to entice her down the three little textured steps into the pool using many, many biscuits and even some Monterey Jack cheese. No dice. She would plunge her perfectly shaped snout into the water up to her amber eyeballs to get the barely floating, rapidly disintegrating biscuit or wobbly bobbing orange and white cheese cube, even extending one of her paws multiple times to drag it towards her. A few times, Olive did gingerly plant her front paws on the first submerged step. There she stopped, like she was frozen in time. I didn’t have the patience to watch paint dry which is what training dogs can be like so I told my friend Sue that if she could get Olive into the pool willingly without trauma or drama, I would pay her $50. Since I have the patience of a gnat, it would be well worth it. “IS THAT MY FACE?” Olive seems to be wondering as she stares into the pool. “HOW CAN I BE THERE IF I AM ALREADY OVER HERE? ‘WHY AM I NOT WET?” And then, “ARE THEY INSANE? THEY WANT ME TO JUMP INTO THIS WATER BOWL WITH THE ENDLESS BOTTOM? NOPE. DON’T THINK SO.” Sue, who is in a whale blue inflatable chair float in the pool, puts her glass down at the pool’s edge to break up a biscuit, Olive casually saunters by trying to score a few slurps of the high test alcoholic beverage. I yank the glass away before her tongue ever touches down. “NICE TRY,” I tell Olive. “IF YOU GET INTO THE POOL ON YOUR OWN, WE’LL TALK ABOUT A HIGHER VALUE TREAT.” Olive considered what I was saying and walked away. Sue kept her drink and I kept my $50. Maybe next time.

Twilight

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/18/2011 at 7:05 pm

"Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?"

Olive in a contemplative mood with twilight as her backdrop and a horizon filled with possibility.

If We Were Dogs

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/08/2011 at 7:58 am

"You pass, here's your sticker." (Oliver)

This morning, as raindrops faintly fell, Olive and I stood in the middle of the lawn just admiring the view. The corn in the field across the street is more than knee-high already. All the fields belonging to the local farmer provide a wide and long field of view, making this patch of land resemble what I imagine the cornfields of Iowa might look like. The sky is streaked with grey-blue tones, a scattered cloud cover and a glint of orange where the sun is beginning to rise. A brand new day is beginning. With this peaceful scene as a backdrop, I suddenly wonder what life would be like if we were all dogs. If we were all dogs, we wouldn’t care what color other dogs were. We’d spend our days blissfully present in the joy of simply being alive. If we were all dogs, our lives would be much shorter, and we’d be oblivious to what the future might hold or what pains the past has wrought. As dogs, others would know exactly where they stood with us. One sniff of the rump and everything about who we are would be read with an elegant simplicity that defies today’s most advanced technology. There would be no masks, no games, nowhere to hide our true selves. We’d have our disagreements, but they’d be sorted out without using guns and knives; without belittling or shaming others. We might growl and snarl; we’d bark; we might even bite, but usually out of an instinct for self-preservation, not malice. If we were dogs, we’d take immense joy in the smallest moments of our lives. Whether it’s eating our food, chasing a ball, or lying idly on the lawn on a hot Summer day. We’d greet others with a wag of our tail, a bounce in our step, and great anticipation about making new friends. If we were dogs, we’d roam our surroundings far and wide, learning as we go along in what would always feel like a great adventure. We wouldn’t care how old the other dogs were, what breeds they were, or whether they were male or female. As long as they functioned within the order of the pack, all would be accepted. If we were dogs, we’d already have the kind of loving, peaceful spirits that many people take a lifetime to attain. We’d be happy just “to be.” If we were dogs even for just a day, we’d be better people. Thanks Olive, for making me a little bit of a better person, every day.

Say Cheese Dog

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/01/2011 at 8:09 am

"Am I DONE yet?

Last night, Olive sat for her professional photography session with Tracy Kometani. When we first got to Tracy’s studio, Olive of course spent the first 10 minutes using her nose to imprint the “GSS” Global Scent System of the studio on her brain. Tracy had two backdrops set up, one ghost white and one the color of dark coffee beans. There are big titanium white umbrellas with megawatt lights surrounding the dark backdrop. Olive explored the studio by walking back-and-forth across the backdrops, sniffing out all the assorted props which ranged from dolls begging to be chewed to a old stand-up mirror that Olive spent some time gazing into. Then seeing the half open door in the corner of the studio, Olive shot up about 20 twenty steep steps and started to make herself at home in Tracey’s kitchen and living room. “OLIVE. GET BACK HERE. YOU’RE NOT GETTING A BATH,” I yell as I’m scrambling up the stairs like an ATV with 50,000 miles on it. I wrangle Olive back downstairs and after she calms down a bit, we start the session. Tracey has set up a beautiful antique bench whose wooden ends curl and is covered in an ivory white fabric. It is stunning against the java-colored backdrop and against Olive’s unique shimmering taupey-grey coat. “OLIVE. SIT.” My well-behaved dog sits on the backdrop and looks at me for her next command. “OLIVE. STAY.” As Olive continues staring at me, you can hear the “pops” and “clicks” as Tracy starts taking Olive’s photograph. She seems to be enjoying the process and amazingly does not even blink with the pop of each “flash.” You’d think she was used to this from years of walking the Red Carpet. “OLIVE. IT WOULD BE NICE IF YOU COULD STOP PANTING AND KEEP YOUR BIRDHOLE SHUT FOR A FEW MINUTES.” Tracy gives Olive some water which she characteristically slurps up like a waterholic. It helps. A little.  Then we try to get Olive to sit on the bench and stay which she finally does with much cajoling and lots of Wagatha’s Cranberry with Chedder and Mint biscuits. It’s about 7pm and I haven’t eaten dinner and they smell so good, I momentarily consider eating one. Olive is now seated on the bench as Tracey clicks away. “MY GOD, SHE LOOKS LIKE THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND” I say. We take breaks during the next hour, letting Olive run around the studio burning off her energy by shaking her canvas Frisbee from side to side as though it is a beady-eyed woodchuck she has just caught. Back to the sitting. This time, we try to get Olive to lay down across the bench which would have been a perfect way to capture her natural regal demeanor, but Olive is having none of it. It’s actually a bit too small for her to feel comfortable on. Oh well, no matter how many biscuits I ply her with, it’s just not happening. Break time. Back to the session, this time Olive, starting to tire of posing or “remaining still,” just lays down on the backdrop. So, this becomes the next and final series of photos. Tracy stops to show me some of the pictures she’s taken and my jaw drops. I knew Olive was beautiful, but in the hands of a skilled photographer, she is absolutely breathtaking. It allowed me to see Olive more objectively than I see her every day. I look at these pictures and think, “This session was a great idea.” I look at one of the close-ups where you can clearly see Olive’s distinctive cowlick on the bridge of her nose and all of a sudden, I feel a mixture of love and pride, like I’m looking at the first grade picture of one of my kids with their hair slightly askew. What a fun experience! And for Olive? She got to be the center of the universe for 90 minutes.

Playdog

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/29/2011 at 9:27 pm

"Where the HELL is my tiara?"

“For God’s sake, HURRY! I look like a common tart. And I’m getting tired of posing. I’m hungry. WHERE are my clothes? Tell Prince Harry I think he’s very hot. Even if he does resemble an Irish Setter. A drink! A drink! I need a drink! NOW.”

Getting Detailed

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/19/2011 at 4:15 pm

"Why are baths SO exhausting?"

One of Olive’s least favorite things in the world is getting bathed. She knows it’s coming when I take her into the downstairs bathroom and shut the door behind us. She looks at me like an escaped convict who’s just stumbled upon an unanticipated 25 foot brick wall. I used to be stupid enough to let her watch me gather the oversized towels and drag them into the bathroom along with her. But, the real giveaway is when I put my swimsuit on. This is an undeniable clue. When she sees this, she runs upstairs and does one of two things. She either jumps up on the overstuffed pony print chair that she has claimed as her own and sinks as far down into it as she can, or she runs into my office and curls up into a fetus on the Orvis fleece wraparound bed she has eviscerated at the seams. She is desperately trying to make herself invisible. I gently drag her off either while she fixes her pleading eyes on mine. “OH C’MON OLIVE. IT’S NOT SO BAD. YOU’RE ONLY GETTING DETAILED. IT’S NOT LIKE YOU’RE GETTING WAXED AND BUFFED. AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU’RE NOT A SHOW DOG?” She retreats to the farthest corner of the bathroom deliberately avoiding all eye contact with me. I remove her olive-colored nylon collar with its repeating pattern of brown dog bones. I replace it with her stinkless stainless steel prong collar. It’s the only way I can pivot her inside the shower stall to ensure I’ve not neglected any of the nether bits. I squeeze into the stall after I’ve helped Olive cross its threshold and quickly shut the glass door. I pull the handheld shower spray down and turn on the water. Making sure it’s neither too hot or too cold, I proceed to “rinse” Olive. I love watching the transformation when Olive changes from weimaraner to seal. She goes from her usual grey-taupe to a dark brown-grey. All I can think of when I see this is that she looks like a seal. Not that I’ve ever seen a seal get a bath before, but I imagine them (some of them at least) to be this color. I start with her back, then work my way to the “undercarriage,” the limbs, neck and chest and finally the feet, tail and the trap door in the back. Then I lather her up in mostly organic Lani shampoo, trying to work it into her fur to get down to the skin, and realize that her micron-sized fur makes this next to impossible. I save the nose, ears and dainty head for last, knowing that this is the part she absolutely despises. Then I rinse her and wait for her to shake. She doesn’t. NOT THIS TIME. NOT EVER. NEVER. Not while she’s in the shower. I swear, this is her way of getting even. I’m not about to stand in the shower waiting for her to re-consider, so I open the door. She runs out and shakes ecstatically like she’s just been baptized by a polygamist cult. Droplets of water zip-zip-zip in all directions while she tries to dry herself off by rubbing her entire body on the teal-colored throw rugs. I try toweling her off, but she’s spastically twirling around the room now like a much-too-young-to-be-competing-in-beauty-pageants toddler. She now bites the towel repeatedly trying to engage me in a game of tug-of-war. I open the bathroom door which she barrels through like she’s been shot into outer space. Legs akimbo, she struggles to gain traction on the linoleum floor. She finally comes into contact with the carpeting and proceeds to zoom across the 24’ x 18’ room executing multiple figure eights at supersonic speed. You can hear the carpet screaming.

Weimaraner on Parade

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/05/2011 at 7:45 am

"Don't hate me becuase I'm BEAUTIFUL."

Last week, when Olive and I went for our morning walk, we were a bit later than usual and ended up encountering the staging of the local Memorial Day Parade. On this bright, sunny day, we passed bright red fire trucks spewing handfuls of candy, antique cars filled with antique local politicians, a revolutionary war-outfitted band and bazillions of children jacked up on sugar. Olive is pretty much enthralled, excited about the prospect of licking so many people, especially the food-stained boys and girls. Once in a while when one of the trucks or cars passes by and blows their horn right in front of us, Olive’s ears retreat like two wounded soldiers and she hops like a jackrabbit behind me for safety. Instead of just standing on the sidewalk like two deeply-rooted plants, Olive and I follow the parade down Main Street, mirroring the procession from the sidewalk. The air is punctuated with the sound of “oohs” and “aahs.” “Beautiful dog.” “Gorgeous dog.” “What a great face.” “Is she the parade mascot?” “How cute!” “Nice-looking dog you got there.” With each compliment, Olive’s chest seems to fill with pride, yet never interrupting her naturally graceful gait. We also pass a few garden-variety dogs every few yards and all of a sudden, what pops out from the sidewalk crowd but another weimaraner! Olive is always happy to meet one of her fellow brethren. The time usually devoted to the sniffing of naughty bits is significantly reduced when Olive meets “one of her own.” There seems to be an instinctual understanding between the two and they begin playing almost immediately. So far, we’ve been lucky. While the weims we’ve met may not be as naturally gregarious as Olive, they’ve been friendly. I worked hard to socialize Olive, especially when she was between 12-16 weeks old, which they say is the most important window for doing so. Sometimes, I’m afraid I’ve made her too friendly. She is innately trusting of strange dogs and people, so I have to closely monitor all “initial greetings,” to essentially protect Olive from her own naiveté. I chat with the dog’s owner and family for a couple of minutes and Olive and I continue on our walk. “Your dog is so pretty.” “Great looking dog!” “What a beautiful dog.” “Is that a weimaraner?” The compliments are always delivered in the same way. With a slight tone of incredulity. As if they can’t quite believe what they are seeing; that witnessing Olive’s beauty is like seeing an artistic masterpiece where you least expect it. Or like unexpectedly discovering one of the world’s natural wonders in your backyard. We continue walking and run into our friends, Susie, Perry, Ryan and Gail. Olive is always happy to see them and like the grifter she is, immediately tries to pilfer 2 year-old Ryan’s Pepperidge Farm Goldfish snacks. Olive thinks they should extend the line to include tiny birds. Even though it’s a holiday and we’re watching a parade, it’s just another beautiful day on Main Street U.S.A.

Genuinely Genius

In weimaraners on 06/01/2011 at 6:23 pm

"Just call me YODA."

At lunchtime today in the coma-inducing heat and spine-weakening humidity, I filled Olive’s little blue plastic pool with water and tossed her glow-in-the-dark ball in along with her raspberry pink Kong-like ring. Unlike last year, she now confidently thrusts her snout below the surface, sometimes right up to her amber and blue-ringed eyeballs to retrieve her drowned toys. She’s become a pro at plunging, snatching and running and seems to take great pleasure in her ability to do so with ease. And then something incredible happened. Purely by accident. I discovered today that Olive is capable of associating the right word with the right soundindependently of the sound being made. Standing outside the pool, staring at the pink ring lying at the bottom of the pool like she’s just discovered an unrecorded shipwreck, I say, “Olive, get the ring-ring.” To my astonishment, she raises her head sharply entering a state of “high alert,” looks around and frantically races to both ends of her pen searching for WHOMEVER IS AT OUR FRONT DOOR RINGING OUR DOORBELL. Now, I did not teach her to do this. Nor did I make the SOUND of a doorbell like “RRRIIIINNGG, RRRIIINNNGG.” I simply said “Get the ring-ring.” Thinking this was just a coincidence, I pick up the pink vulcanized rubber ring and toss it back into the pool. In the exact same way I repeat my command, “Olive, get the ring-ring.” Again, she takes off like an out-of-control locomotive, trying to get to the front door. Clearly, she wants to greet the guest standing on the welcome mat out front that says “Wipe your Paws.” I am momentarily struck dumb. She obviously associates the words ring-ring with the ringing of a doorbell. I knew Olive was intelligent, but now I look at her with as much awe as respect. I call the breeder today leaving this message: “Hi Deborah. I just wanted you to know that out of the litter of 11, you gave me the genius dog. I think I’m going to try to teach her Latin. Maybe I’ll send her to law school.” “OLIVE. STOP LICKING YOURSELF AND GO AUTOGRAPH YOUR HEAD SHOTS.” Now every time she looks at me, I wonder what the hell she REALLY’S thinking, because she’s thinking, that’s for sure.

Busted!

In weimaraners on 05/30/2011 at 7:21 pm

"You can kiss me now."

On our walk yesterday, it was so hot that I was afraid that one of us would spontaneously combust. If it were Olive, I had only a tiny plastic turd-sized bag with me. If it were me, I knew for sure that Olive had no bag at all with her. So, to prevent such a dogtastrophe, Olive and I stopped where we usually do when we’re seeking some respite from the blazing sun. On the Centenary College campus, there’s an impressive old tree whose massive grey trunk is surrounded by a spacious hexagonal wooden bench. The bench is canopied by the tree’s remarkable boughs whose thicket of leaves offer substantial shade. I sit on the bench while Olive pokes around nearby. I’ve tried to get her to sit on the bench with me but so far she hasn’t accepted my invitation. She continues to inhale all the scents she uncovers in the desert rose-colored stones that carpet the area under the tree. Occasionally, nature’s allergans overpower her and she starts to “backhale,” sucking air in like a clogged vacuum hose. In a relaxed moment of affection, I pull Olive closer to me and sprinkle her with a bunch of tiny kisses. Just then I hear, “Hi.” I look in the direction of the greeting and see this guy climbing into his car. The first thing that comes to mind is the truth. “You caught me makin’ out with my dog.” He made some comment whose tone sounded friendly and understanding, but I couldn’t hear a thing. Not only was I slightly flustered because I had just been caught in the act of kissing my dog in public, but to make matters worse, this guy was really cute. Olive didn’t give two shits of course. He didn’t have a tail, so she wasn’t all that interested. It only bothers her when I hand out her business cards to people we meet on our walks. How do I know this? Because when I pull one out of my pocket, she promptly tries to eat it.

The Magic Fountain

In weimaraners on 05/30/2011 at 9:27 am

"Is that a MAGIC FOUNTAIN?"

Yesterday, Olive and I went to visit our cousins and she discovered the joys of outdoor tabletop water fountains. Oh yes, this pooch immediately zeroed in on the water running down a jade-colored globe, hugging its contours like Marilyn Monroe’s pantyhose. This deserves much closer inspection, thought Olive. So of course, although there’s a nice clean bowl of “French” water in a white ceramic dish just a foot away, Olive proceeds to stick out her tongue and start lapping water from the fountain’s bust. “OLIVE STOP. THAT’S RECYCLED WATER. I DON’T NEED YOU GETTING GIARDIA AGAIN AND SURELY YOU DON’T WANT THOSE PARASITES PARTYING IN YOUR INTESTINES AGAIN.” This doesn’t work. I have to gently but repeatedly push her away from the “magic waterfall,” which she continues to return to again and again throughout the afternoon. You’d think she was a dying woman crawling on all fours across the Mojave desert, all the while regretting the peanut butter sandwich she just ate. Olive disappears for a few too many minutes and I find her in a narrow strip of grass between the fence and the garage snacking on a rotted tree limb covered in lichens. Hopefully she won’t start growing patches of fungus anywhere. She leaps into the raised flower bed and starts sniffing around. “That’s where the chipmunk lives,” says MaryAnn. “That’s where it USED to live,” I mockingly reply. Olive starts digging furiously through the cedar mulch. You’d think she was a crazed spelunker trying to claw her way to the earth’s core. “HEY DAINTY FEET…. GET OUT OF THE FLOWER BED BEFORE YOU CRUSH THE PANSIES TO DEATH.” She soars through the air and lands on the deck…right next to the magic water fountain. She sticks the landing like gymnast Mary Lou Retton and looks at me quizzically as if to say, “ALRIGHT, I’M HERE. WHAT’S SO IMPORTANT THAT I HAD TO GIVE UP A CHIPMUNK FOR IT?” But really, I know she’s patiently waiting for me to turn my head so she can sneak a drink from the magic fountain. It’s always a battle of wits with this dog.

Weimaraner Plant

In weimaraners on 05/28/2011 at 8:49 pm

"READ MY TAIL."

Today, I found a weimaraner growing in the garden.

 

Attack of The Bird Dog

In weimaraners on 05/27/2011 at 8:08 am

"I want my PRIZE."

Well, it was bound to happen some day. My bird dog got a bird. Not quite. Almost. Very very, close. Depending on what your definition of “got” is. Realizing that she was much too quiet all of a sudden, I go outside just in time to see her nosing, mouthing and pawing at a baby Eastern Meadowlark that had apparently tumbled out of its nest underneath the deck. Now, she clearly has it in her mouth but isn’t quite sure what to do next. She is very clear however, that she does NOT want to drop it as I instruct her. “MY PRIZE. MY PRIZE.” she seems to be saying. “OLIVE. DROP IT. DROP IT. DROOOPPPPP ITTTTT,” I yell. The mother bird has been driving Olive nuts for the past few weeks, shooting out from its nest and across Olive’s path whenever I let her out the sliding glass doors. With great difficulty, I drag Olive back into the house. She is half out of her mind. Trying to close the door without letting Olive sneak back out is like trying to restrain a tsunami with a sheet of Kleenex. I make my way over to the baby bird cautiously, not sure how grossed out I’m going to be by what I find. The tiny bird is cowering in the corner trying to hop away as I approach. Even this it seems to find a bit difficult. However, all in all, it seems to be in pretty good shape for a living creature that cracked its way out of an eggshell and ended up inside a dog’s mouth. Its feathers look a little skeevy; I see angry reddish pink patches of flesh on its back. It is unfortunately, probably a bit traumatized, but as I stand there observing it, it does not seem to be seriously injured. I hear chatty twittering behind me and look around to see the baby bird’s sibling, hopping around like a tiny brown pogo stick, testing its wings, sputtering through the air like an old double-winged airplane during barnstorming season. It actually seems to want to check on the welfare of its less fortunate sibling. Meanwhile, Olive has been jumping up and down raking her paws across the sliding glass doors and barking, hopelessly tangling the drapes. I don’t think I’ve heard her bark quite this insistently before. She is pissed. “I DID MY JOB,” she barks over and over. I look up and the mother bird is now back sitting in her nest. “AND WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU WHILE THIS WAS GOING ON? I ask. “One of your children is in this corner and the other is over there,” I point. “And if you had any more, I don’t know where they are.” “AND WHERE THE HELL IS YOUR HUSBAND?” I add, in an equally accusatory huff. I open the door just enough to slink back in without letting Olive get out. She tries to of course, but my body blocks her. Later on, I go back outside to check on the bird. Both Orville and Wilbur are now hopping and sputtering around Olive’s pen, trying to learn how to fly. Both will live. At least one will tell its grandchildren that part of the process of being born is ending up inside the mouth of a big grey dog.

 

 

Manta Ray

In weimaraners on 05/23/2011 at 8:16 pm

"Flight 417 cleared for takeoff!"

Is this really me? Is this what I look like from the back? Holy crap. This shot makes me look like a hood ornament doesn’t it? If so, I must be on a Jaguar, right? It also makes me look like a manta ray with fur. It scares me. Gosh, I wonder what my ass looks like from behind? Oh, look, up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane…yes it’s a red tailed hawk AND a blue tailed hawk. Oh wait a minute, it’s not a blue tailed hawk, it’s a Continental Airlines Boeing 757. I’m hungry. I want a piece of string cheese. Where’s my water? I wonder if there’s any Q-tips in the bathroom waste basket. God, I hope it doesn’t rain again. I love Patti. Why do so many dogs have such long tails? Seems like a waste. Is that a TOAD in the driveway? Do I like sushi? I wonder what’s on TV tonight. I love “Raising Hope.” It’s my new favorite. Did I just launch an air biscuit? Yikes. Time to go out.

Revenge of The Fur

In weimaraners on 05/23/2011 at 7:38 pm

"Here comes the FRONTLINE."

I dread having to apply the Frontline flea and tick “pesticide” to Olive every month for two reasons. 1) I don’t like the idea of using “body pesticides” on my pooch and 2) Did you ever try parting a Weim’s miniscule fur to expose its skin? HA! It’s like trying to part grains of sand to find an amoeba. You’d think it would be easier since you don’t have to pull back drapery-length fur to reveal a fur-line. Nicht so! Olive’s fur must be about a quarter of an inch long at best. I imagine it’s sort of similar to the dilemma radiologists face when giving a mamogram to a sparrow-breasted woman. The only difference is that the woman isn’t squirming like she’s Arnold Schawrzenegger at an upcoming Women’s Conference. “OLIVE. HOLD STILL YOU LITTLE NUT. TRUST ME, YOU DON’T WANT THIS IN YOUR EYE.” I perform the procedure in the 6’x5’ bathroom where I have Olive cornered between the toilet bowl and the tub. My God, this stuff smells like gasoline and it’s probably just as flammable. Thank God I don’t smoke or my dog might go up in flames. This process is compounded by the fact that bats have better eyesight than I do. Inevitably much of it seems to stay on the top of her fur which I then try to work deeper down using the applicator. Predictably, when I’m done, my hands smell like the hands of a 16-year old gas pump jockey. I open the bathroom door and Olive races out as though she just heard the start bell go off at the Meadowlands Racetrack. If I’m lucky, she doesn’t run into the bedroom, dive on the bed, and start rolling around on the comforter like she is trying to put out a fire. If. Every time I hear myself say that word, it reminds me of my late father who used to say, “If is the biggest word in the dictionary.”

Ginger Rogers

In weimaraners on 05/22/2011 at 4:16 pm

"Why get up? It's raining AGAIN!"

Olive is resting on top of the back of the love seat right now. The crank out windows are open, so she is enjoying the cool breeze on this, the seventh consecutive grey day. She alternates between barking at joggers and cyclists that pass by in a kinetic blur and the neighbor pulling into or out of his driveway in his fire engine red truck. Any insects that fly between the inside of the window and the screen torment her. She tries to catch them, stabbing the screen with her snout repeatedly. Ultimately she can no longer restrain her canine instinct and thrusts her front paw at the screen tearing a slight hole in it. The most amusing confrontation so far was watching Olive stand on the couch with her head down by the window’s opening, immobile like a deer trapped in the headlights of an oncoming ambulance. I go over to the window and look out. Within 24-36 inches from Olive’s nose are two robins fighting, mating, doing some sort of semi-aggressive dance. Who knows, maybe it was an old married couple just squabbling about whose turn it was to yank some worms out of the ground. Olive cannot believe that these two fresh delicacies are moments away from touring the inside of her digestive system and yet, they are so far from her, they might as well be picnicking on the face of the moon. I can feel her frustration. And while she doesn’t actually lick her lips, I can sense that mentally, it is exactly what she’s doing. Do you think it’s ironic or tragic that I live in a rural area, across from acres of farmland, and my backyard sounds like an aviary in the Spring? My poor (or lucky, depending on your point of view) weimaraner, is surrounded by a congress of crows, a dule of doves, a flock of geese, a charm of goldfinches, a band of jays, a raft of loons, a parliament of owls, a host of sparrows and a descent of woodpeckers. My initial assumption is that they must all taste alike. But then I think, like fish, they each must have a distinct taste. I’ll never know. Not unless a) Olive actually catches some and b) she learns how to talk. She could have scored one last week as a small robin limped across the lawn, but I said “No fair, Olive. This one’s hurt. You have to get one that’s not handicapped.” “OH AND THAT’S FAIR TO ME, HANDCUFFED TO THIS FLEXI-LEASH? she says. “Yes, Olive, you are Ginger Rogers. You have to do everything Fred Astaire did but backwards and in high heels.”

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