Patti Soldavini

Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Today on Olive’s Outtakes

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 05/30/2012 at 9:47 pm

What’s Olive got to say about today’s outtake? It’s right here.

Olive Hides at The Dog Park

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/16/2012 at 7:19 pm

"Patti, where are you?"

“Olive. Where are you? I can’t see you.” The weimaraner’s neutral taupe color makes it easy for it to blend into its surroundings. Except snowscapes. There, they stand out like tiny deer sans antlers.

Olive Gets Propositioned

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 02/04/2012 at 11:40 am

"I'm not going ANYWHERE with 'hungry eyes.'"

On our walk the other morning, as Olive and I come to a quiet four-way intersection, a man rolls down the window of his car. Olive and I expect either one of two possibilities. We’ll either be asked for directions to a location about four blocks away or he’ll say something like “Beautiful dog.” It was neither. What he did say was this: “Hey, I’ll buy your dog from you.” It was a statement delivered in the form of a question. “Fat chance,” I reply with an unspoken acknowledgement of his back-handed compliment of Olive. “I just sold a litter last week,” he continues. I wonder what kind of response he’s expecting from me now. Finally, he’s basically pushed into the intersection by the car behind him and slowly chugs along his way. Olive and I cross the street and finish the last leg of our walk. It doesn’t occur to me until the next day that what the guy in the car was really suggesting was that he buy Olive to breed her so he can sell more litters. So, does that whole strange exchange mean he was propositioning Olive through me, her supposed pimp? I think I have to go take a shower now. “OLIVE? YOU’RE NEXT!”

The Tree Sitter

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/27/2011 at 6:33 pm

"WHO goes there?"

Olive, standing guard at a friend’s house, tree-sitting. My dog nonchalantly creates the appearance of steadfastly guarding the Christmas tree and its bounty underneath. Either that, or she just ate a trespassing elf (Burrrpppp!) and is looking for another tasty lilliputian tidbit.

 

Knock. Knock.

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/20/2011 at 9:46 am

"Do I smell FOOD?"

Knock. Knock. Who’s there? It’s Olive. Olive who? Olive food. This dog is so alert, she can detect a fly fart. (By sound and scent). Olive loves going over to Susie and Perry’s because Susie will rough house with her and Olive gets to sniff up three-year old Ryan. But everything in the universe comes to an apocalyptic halt when Olive smells food or observes activity in THE KITCHEN. The room that brings her the greatest joy in life. Counter tops lined with food in various stages of preparation. Scents that delight Olive’s over-stimulated nostrils; sending her into a heightened state of ecstasy. ‘WHERE SHOULD I JUMP FIRST,” thinks Olive. To Olive, it must appear that it is a buffet created just for her. ‘GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN,” I command Olive as she is craning her long graceful neck over the sink to lick the grease off a pan. She willfully continues until I march over there, grab her by the collar and pull her away. I’ve tried a zillion different things. Nothing has the magnetic pull required to chase her away from oily grease and carcass niblets stuck to a cold frying pan. She really has to be guided out of the kitchen and then she watches me like she’s Bernie Madoff sizing up his next mark. Because in the nanosecond that I turn my head away from her, she quietly but whiplash-rapidly tracks back to the “edible amusement park.” Whenever my intelligent pooch is confronted with a situation that she realizes may result in a correction, she very slyly and daintily makes her move, as though being delicate makes the behavior acceptable. Even this makes me laugh. “OLIVE. ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME? GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN. I DON’T CARE HOW CUTE AND GRACEFUL YOU ARE.” Everyday is a battle of wits with a weimaraner. Some days I win, some days I lose, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. In fact, the other day, I came to realize that after having a weim, I don’t think I could ever have any other kind of dog again. This dog keeps me on my toes. And living with a weimaraner? They’re four-legged soul mates. It’s like living with a human who actually loves you unconditionally and doesn’t talk. What an excellent combination.

The Great Bearded One

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/10/2011 at 8:15 pm

"Who, me?"

“Olive, meet Santa Claus,” Santa meet Olive.” This is Olive’s first encounter with the great bearded one. We drove out to K-Nine Coaching in Olde Lafayette Village last weekend for Olive’s photo session with Santa. On the way in, we run into Luna and her owners. Luna is a sweet, beautiful blue weimaraner and a friend Olive met during her training classes last year. Other dogs and their owners are milling about; a trio is getting their picture taken as we speak. It’s Olive’s turn and she confidently strides over to where the giant red and white “fleece toy” is sitting. “That’s Santa, Olive,” I quietly inform her. Beverly Burke, the photographer, approaches Olive to meet her but Olive has her famous orbs trained on Santa. I imagine that Olive is wondering whether this red-and-white-furred-object is man, beast or something else. She circles the set, passing the klieg lights with the nonchalance of someone used to having the paparazzi stalk them. She noses the small Christmas tree and finally walks over to Santa. Leave it to my dog to circle the action from the perimeter before deciding to engage. Now getting her to sit still is something else entirely. Of course, my little scent hound is exploring Santa from shiny black boot to thick white beard. Santa grabs Olive’s collar and I move in and command her to SIT. The photographer’s camera snaps away. After her session, we go next door to the specialty pet store and I fall in love with a wool sweater designed like the sock monkey! I would have gotten it for Olive in a heartbeat except I was pretty sure she’d never stand for the attached hood with monkey ears. And there was no way I’d be able to walk my regal-looking pooch wearing that thing without feeling like a freak. We both have too much dignity to do that. Today, we went back to Lafayette to pick up Olive’s photo. It was a bright, beautiful crisp winter day. A great day for a drive with my dog along peaceful, open country roads, listening to Bruce Springsteen’s “Outlaw Pete,” some classic rock and even Christmas Carols. We watched people at cut-your-own Christmas Tree Farms tie their freshly cut douglas firs, scotch pines and fraser firs to the roofs of their cars. We passed clusters of aging farm silos standing side by side all by themselves, having seen better days long ago. For some reason, this music is the perfect soundtrack to the peaceful rural farmland that we’re driving through. They didn’t name this town “Tranquility” for nothing, I think to myself. I pick up Olive’s 8×10 glossy of her and Santa from the passenger seat and look at it again. “NICE PICTURE OLIVE. NO ONE WOULD HAVE ANY IDEA THAT YOU ARE SUCH A GOOFBALL AT HEART.” For once, Olive is ignoring me. She’s staring out the window watching the exquisite scenery pass by.

Tick Tock Tail

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/30/2011 at 7:08 pm

"Stop STARING at my tail."

The world’s cutest tail. Resting.

Weimaraner Hood Ornament

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/23/2011 at 8:11 pm

"Yeah, looks like you're wearing dog ears."

When I first got Olive, I’d put her in the cargo area of my Saturn Vue. I thought this was the best place for her. Until two things happened. One, she would often bark and bark and bark and drive me insane. Two, for some reason, I got paranoid about the hatch latch popping open while I was driving and Olive would tumble out onto the roadway. Maybe the second reason was a conveniently manufactured solution to reason number one. The minute I removed Olive from the cargo area and treated her like a living being instead of a suitcase, she immediately stopped barking. The back seat now felt like First-Class. I realized pretty quickly, that she was simply happier being in close proximity to me. And I admit, I liked it too. I try to keep her seated or lying back there but she’ll occasionally venture closer poking her head between the two front seats and putting her front paws on the aisle box to get a better view out the front windshield. When she does this, I admire her profile. “OLIVE. YOU LOOK LIKE A HOOD ORNAMENT. GET BACK DOWN.” And for a second, her sleek graceful appearance reminds me of the hood ornament on the 1951 Pontiac Chieftan I was told my Mother used to drive when she was in her 20s. For those of you not familiar with it, it is an amber-colored Indian Chief head that lights up. How cool is that? Hood ornament design during that time was truly a work of art. I mean, they called it an “ornament” for a reason. An element of style that sadly is missing from most cars today. Now at best, we have cold, soul-less chrome logos welded onto the hoods of ridiculously expensive luxury cars. Olive knows none of this, so she really can’t appreciate what a beautiful hood ornament mold she’d make. However, she does respond immediately to the burger I am about to take a bite of. Like a contortionist with a Native American Indian’s talent for approaching silently, she gently tries to nibble at the end of the exposed burger bun. Mind you, at this point, part of it is in my mouth (and yes, I’m driving), and I swear she thinks she’s being polite as she makes a delicate approach. My hand snaps back like a fly swatter creating a barrier between my vulnerable burger and her porcelain chiclets. I immediately flash back to when, on family drives, my Dad used to half turn around while he was driving with the back of his arm and hand raised, threatening to smack my brothers and sister and me if we didn’t stop fighting. All it took was the threat. It was very effective. Olive looks at me quizzically as if to ask, “WHAT?” I return her gaze with an incredulous look that says, “REALLY?” We know each other’s non-verbal expressions so well, it’s a bit frightening. I now wonder if when I put my small black earmuffs on and she gently starts nibbling on them like she’s nibbling on another dog’s ears, does she think they are small burgers or that I am wearing another dog’s ears?

I Am Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/23/2011 at 6:50 pm

"I could have been called CRICKET?"

While I was straightening up my office the other day I came across the sheets of paper I used when considering what to name Olive. I couldn’t help but think now that I know Olive, did I choose the right name? Is there a name on this list that might have been better based on who she is turning out to be? To my delight, the answer is “No,” but it was fun to run through the list which included: Skye, Sienna, Cricket, Zooey, Willow, Luna, Addy, Snowpea, Harpo, Rocket, Scout, Oreo, Orbit, Rider, Jade, Inky, Echo, Giggles, Gumby, Haley, Hope, Autumn, Juno, Brioni, Quince, Luca, and Cleo. And then a friend suggested “Olive,” and for some reason that just felt right. Call it kismet. Which would also be a cool name for a dog. “OLIVE. PLEASE BRING A SNOWPEA TO THE CRICKET STANDING UNDER THE WILLOW TREE DRESSED IN A BRIONI SUIT EATING AN OREO COOKIE WHILE WAITING FOR THE ROCKET TO IGNITE.” (That was fun.)

Pheasantopia

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/19/2011 at 4:37 pm

Welcome to Pheasantopia. Home of the thousands of cage-raised pheasants that escaped from the Rockport Pheasant Farm after the Snoctober storm. They are EVERYWHERE. In my back yard, on my front lawn and across the street in the recently plowed corn fields. The males seem to outnumber the females and walk around with their burnt umber chests proudly thrust forward, a perfectly even white band separating their green heads from their brown necks. They are much more beautiful than I imagined and look as though they stepped out of a Norman Rockwell illustration. Perhaps that’s because Thanksgiving is almost upon us. They are however, not the brightest of birds. How do I know this? Because dozens of them now dot the roadway flattened like Milk Duds. Standing in the front yard at 6:30 yesterday morning, I actually heard a THUD as a car flew by. “THERE GOES ANOTHER ONE, OLIVE.” Except, to our surprise, this one had apparently just been clipped by the car as it rose high and flew across my neighbor’s yard coming to rest on their driveway. Not the best place to land. Privately, I wondered how many lives this bird actually had left. Perhaps this is the same doofus who caused the early morning silence to be rudely punctuated by two drivers laying on their car horns as though they’d slumped over their steering wheels unexpectedly. Thanks, doofus. Now I’m awake. And now that Olive knows I’m awake, she’s awake too. Whether indoors or outdoors, Olive remains transfixed by Pheasantopia, her pin dot pupils radiating intense interest at whatever offenders are trespassing in our yard. The only thing funnier than watching Olive watch the pheasants is listening to Olive watch the pheasants. Hear for yourself. Turn the volume up to hear Olive perfecting her “pheasant whine.”

A Brilliant Weimaraner Mind

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/14/2011 at 7:18 pm

"WTF?"

This is the expression that Olive wears when I speak to her as a peer. “CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT THIS COUNTRY STILL USES 1930s TECHNOLOGY TO DELIVER OUR POWER, OLIVE? UTILITY POLES? REALLY? HAVE YOU EVER LOOKED AT SOME OF THEM CLOSELY? THE EVER-INCREASING EMERGENCY REPAIRS HAVE LEFT THEM LOOKING LIKE A RAT’S NEST OR A CAT’S CRADLE. THE WIRES CRISS-CROSS OVER AND UNDER EACH OTHER, WRAP AROUND TREES AND THEN THE EXTRA WIRE IS LOOPED LIKE A GARDEN HOSE AND HUNG FROM A SPOT ON THE POLE WHERE AN 8-YEAR OLD COULD REACH IT. AND DID YOU KNOW OLIVE THAT ACCORDING TO WIKIPEDIA, ‘UTILITY POLES WERE FIRST USED IN THE MID-19TH CENTURY (1850) WITH TELEGRAPH SYSTEMS STARTING WITH SAMUEL MORSE?’ MORSE. AS IN MORSE CODE. IF YOU AGREE, TAP YOUR PAW THREE TIMES QUICKLY AND THEN ONCE FOR A LONGER DURATION. THIS MEANS WE’VE LET OUR POWER SYSTEM DEGRADE FOR OVER ONE-AND-A-HALF CENTURIES. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…”

Nik-Nik Days

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/11/2011 at 8:56 pm

"Can we GO now?"

“Nik, nik, nik, nik. Nik, nik, nik, nik, nik, nik.” This is a sound that Olive hates. It’s the sound of me tapping the keys on my keyboard. Sometimes I tap so fast, that the sound reminds me of a psychotic poodle’s toenails clicking across a just polished marble floor. She hates this sound because it usually means that I am working for hours on end. Hours that she could be spending in the backyard digging holes and eating fistfuls of clay-packed dirt infused with creepy crawlies. Hours that she could be spending chasing birds, rabbits and pheasants across the fecally-fertilized lawn. Hours that she could be outside walking sniffing the naughty bits of strange dogs… and people. Or hours that she could be spending at the dog park with her dog friends racing around the park’s perimeter at 140 miles per hour. Which by the way, she wasn’t too happy about last week when two Greyhounds, the breed that Olive is routinely and embarrassingly mistaken for, outran her. Olive is not used to being outrun at the dog park. She implicitly understands that her speed is her single biggest advantage over most other dogs. When it’s a “Nik Nik,” day, Olive’s day is more sedate and boring. If she’s behaving, I let her have the run of the house and she usually winds up stretched across the back of the living room couch, gazing out the front window, occasionally barking. If she’s already shown any indication of having a moderate case of “ants-in-the-pants-itis,” running around chewing on anything she can find, then I corral her in my office, where she snuggles up in her bed next to my chair waiting for the moment when I turn to her and say, “Who wants to go for a walkie?” She looks at me with the most transparent expression of yearning I have ever seen. As she cocks her head, her pupils dilate and her tail snaps back and forth with such force that her whole body begins to shake. She’s so excited that I’m afraid if I don’t get her out of the house in 30 seconds, she’s going to self-combust. And then the weim fun and games begin. Downstairs, as I go to put her Frankenprong collar on, she runs away from me. Now she wants to play tag and I should run around the house like an idiot chasing her. When I have a micron of patience, I sit down and wait for her to come to me. She takes her time, the stubborn, independent little beeyotch. Other times, I cheat and hold up a tiny treat and she runs toward me as though I were Pavlov. “Sometimes, Olive, you are very predictable.” This dog would turn her colon inside out just to get a treat.

Working Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/11/2011 at 8:04 pm

"Where the hell is my PENCIL?"

This is Olive doing an impression of me at work. Funny Olive, But not half as funny as you are going to look when you have to use a stall in the ladies room. Try not to eat all the toilet paper before you go.

168 Hours

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/07/2011 at 7:59 pm

(no comment)

7 days without power. 168 jaw-clenching hours. Over 10,000 minutes spent curbing a hair trigger temper. “I DON’T CARE IF YOU HAVE NO LEGS. GET. ACROSS. THE. STREET. NOW.” No cable. No internet. No landline. Nothing but my street mattered right then anyway, but it would have been nice to see or hear the local news. Except for the local politicians who everytime they opened their blowhard mouths, just confirmed their idiocy. Oh, and no water. Because when you live in a beautiful rural area like me, it means you are the owner of a private well…that runs on an electric pump. The loss of heat is nothing compared to the loss of water. Flush the toilet? Fuggedaboutit. Wash your hands? No dice. You have to use antimicrobial baby wipes. Shower? “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.” Only if you are a Comfort Inn VIP Guest or you have a friend lucky enough to have a generator. And because the power lines went down when colossal wet snow-covered tree branches cracked in the dead of night, crushing them and snapping telephone poles in two in the process, the road is closed. Which also means that your newspaper won’t be delivered and your garbage won’t be picked up. But FedEx, UPS and the USPS did not let a “Road Closed” sign deter them from their missions. They delivered. But it gets worse fast. Gas stations within a 5-mile radius are simply “out of gas,” because people lucky enough to own generators are sucking them dry down to the earth’s core. Area restaurants ranging from Panera to 4-star bistros are standing room only, densely-packed hives overpopulated by cranky, angry bees with a bad case of “Bee-O”. Laundromats, never a good place around which to loiter, are veritable tinder boxes, just waiting for the spark that will ignite a brawl. All the local hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts’ are bursting at the seams. Even the roads that are open aren’t immune to this locust-like event. The traffic is spectacular. You’d think people were out Christmas shopping already. EVERYONE is out on the road because NO ONE wants to be inside their cold, pitch black home where their toilets have been transformed into indoor outhouses. The only thing missing is graffiti on the walls of the bathroom that say things like, “Here I sit so brokenhearted, tried to shit and only farted. Yesterday I took a chance, saved a dime and shit in my pants.” (My all-time personal favorite which was scrawled on the inside of a bathroom door at a real campground in Maine.) For the past 7 days, Olive and I might as well have been living inside a tent in Calcutta. She probably minded all of this less than I did, but it severely disrupted both our routines, filling every day with dozens of minor, irritating inconveniences, many of which you don’t even imagine until you’re in a situation like this. I am happy to report that Olive was quite the trooper. Especially since she was essentially tethered to me for 7 days while we traipsed about neighborhoods throughout Northern New Jersey like Monty Python searching for the Holy Grail. We slept at our neighbor’s who lives behind us. We’d get up in the morning and go back to our house, check on things there, I’d feed Olive and let her out, then I’d get changed in the dark, trying to balance a flashlight in one hand and my pants in the other, and then we’d both go into the office. After work, we’d go over to a friend’s house, shower, have dinner and hang out there awhile. Then we’d make our way over to another friend’s house where I did a giant load of laundry and then it was back to our neighbor’s to sleep and start the insane routine all over again. I think what made it all worthwhile for Olive was that she got to sleep in the single pull-out bed with me for five nights. She’d sleep soundly, curled up next to me, never getting up once. Although it was funny to watch her expressions when people walked “above us.” Her head would jerk up and you could tell she was getting ready to bark, trying to determine what was making the noise and whether it was a threat to our safety. Her head cocked slightly, teeth barely exposed as half of her lip curled, and her pupils microscopic, frozen with interest. I would quietly plead with her to keep her bird hole shut. She’d look at me somewhat incredulously and then sink back down into the bed, safely tucked close to me. Since she doesn’t normally sleep in my bed, it was a nice, comforting treat, and a nice way to end each shitty day. Only I had to go to bed every night disturbed by the knowledge that the fact that this country relies on toothpicks strung together with dental floss to create its power system is a national disgrace. Olive, just snored contentedly next to me. We worry about different things.

The 7 Weimaraner Dwarfs

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/06/2011 at 9:14 pm

"What the hell is a DWARF?"

Okay, after giving it much thought, here’s what I would name the 7 Weimaraner Dwarfs: Farty, Jumpy, Barky, Chewy, Sniffy, Diggy and Sneaky. And I’d add two more: Smarty and Goofy. Olive has signaled her agreement with a moderate blast followed by a tiny sulfur-scented mushroom cloud.

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.

How To Mesmerize a Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/27/2011 at 11:49 am

What is THAT?"

Easy. Just pop popcorn in the microwave or turn on the dishwasher. Olive stands in the kitchen facing the source of the strange sound, and cocks her head back and forth and up and down as though she is playing a symphonic version of “follow the bouncing ball.” She continues to stand there, immobile except for the “head cocks.” Her tail is as silent as a mouse on Christmas Eve. The expression on her face is priceless. It starts out as inquisitive childlike wonder and quickly morphs into unexpected fear when there’s a concentrated burst of popcorn kernals… POP. POP. POP. POP. POP. POP!… or when the water in the dishwasher rushes against the inside of the door like a tsunami. WHOOSH. WHOOSH. WHOOSH. WHOSH. WHOOSH! Then, she runs out of the kitchen into the safety of the dining room like a three-year old who’s just witnessed their sister getting a flu shot. Goofball. Popcorn is one of the few human treats I give Olive. I lie on the couch watching TV and Olive stands next to the couch watching me. One at a time, I toss a popped kernal high into the air, over her head or onto the far end of the couch to make her work for it a little. She snaps them in mid-air as though they are flies who have invaded her personal space. This makes me laugh. Every once in a while, she gags or clears her throat briefly. Like the rest of us, trying to dislodge that blasted yellow kernal shell that’s holding onto her tonsils for dear life. I love watching her leap into the air like a trapeze artist contorting her lithe athletic body into shapes unnatural for a human just to snag the tiny white, fluffy and tasty projectiles coming her way. Olive retains her deep interest as I get up with the empty bowl in my hand and make my way up the stairs to place it into the dishwasher. To her, it is the natural cycle of popcorn evolution.

Bristlers

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/27/2011 at 10:59 am

"Yup, those are my PINS."

This is how I refer to Olive’s whiskers; as “bristlers,” because they are so stiff and prickly that they poke right through my slacks when she lays her head across my lap. Each has the tensile strength of a suspension cable on the George Washington Bridge. (They look deceptively thin and gentle in the photo.) “OUCH! HOLY CHRIST, OLIVE, HAVE YOU BEEN SHARPENING YOUR WHISKERS? I THINK I’M BLEEDING.” Not really, but my lap begins to feel like a pin cushion when she tries to burrow deeper into it like she’s flushing a fox out of a dark den. The first time this happened, I wondered if a Weim’s whiskers were any different than other dogs. I didn’t remember being “pincushioned” by Idgy’s whiskers. Or should I say, vibrissae, which I just learned is what a dog’s whiskers are really called. They are described as “finely tuned sensory structures,” and “while the hairs themselves don’t contain nerve endings, their base is surrounded by erectile tissue and a rich nerve supply.” This sounds like the set-up for a dirty joke, doesn’t it? And then there’s the extra sharpshooting whiskers, two on each side of Olive’s face poking out of the center of moles. I guess these help her navigate her way down the dark hallway while she’s tracking the scent of a micron of day-old food that’s been crushed deep into the nylon fibers of the carpet. So, if the vibrissae are so sensitive, I wonder what it feels like when dogs play with other dogs, mixing it up and “whiskering” each other. I’m guessing it feels pretty good. What do you have to say about this subject Olive? ‘BE QUIET, I’M PLAYING WITH MY WHISKERS.”

Find The Weimaraner

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/22/2011 at 9:11 pm

"Where's Olive?"

Undeniable proof that a weimaraner goes with anything.

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.

Crazy Eyes

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/08/2011 at 7:26 pm

"I'm staring into your SOUL right now."

As Olive and I walked leisurely across the grounds of the local college early yesterday morning, we crossed paths with a student on his way to class. “Good Morning,” I said. “Good morning. How are you?” said the young stranger with the characteristic idealistic tone that only the young and newly independent can enthusiastically muster. “Fine thanks,” I replied. “MAN, YOUR DOG HAS CRAZY EYES,” he noted as we passed. I chuckled. “Ya’ think?”

The Perils of Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/02/2011 at 7:47 pm

"AGAIN? What Now?"

Where do I even begin? The past three days have been nothing but chaos. Chaos executed with the imbecilic skill of the Marx Brothers. At 8:30 on Tuesday evening, I notice something odd on Olive’s back leg. “WHAT THE HELL?” I think. A cluster of raised bumps, about eight of them right above her “ankle.” I squint my astigmatic eyes and position them about a micron from the offending bumps. I find more running along the inside of her front legs and a few dotting her chest which are beginning to bloom. “HOLY SHIT.” My left brain senses that this is an allergic reaction of some kind. But of course, my irrational right hemisphere is conjuring up all sorts of insane possibilities. I call the Newton Veterinary Hospital who asks me if I “want” to bring her in. That’s like saying, “How much money do you feel like spending tonight?” We agree that if it gets worse and travels to her face and neck, then I have to bring her in because it could affect her breathing. I go back to watching TV, going over to check Olive about every 10 minutes. She is resting comfortably, all curled up on her brown faux suede “UFO,” the bean bag chair she booted me from and claimed as her own. At 10:30, I check on her and it’s clear that it’s only getting worse. Her chest is now covered with a ton of irregularly-shaped pink polka dots. And now there are four bumps on her head. I look at Olive and announce with barely controlled panic, “GET UP. WE’RE GOING FOR A RIDE.” And so the drama begins with a 40-minute ride at night, in the rain, on dark country roads with a driver who has trouble recognizing faces across the room. With her glasses on. In the light. I look in my rearview mirror at Olive sitting in the back seat and mutter, “CHRIST. I HOPE I DON’T KILL US BOTH OLIVE.” We pull up to the veterinary hospital and walk inside. Unlike human emergency centers, this one is empty, save just a mother and her 10 year-old son and their pug. Olive gets weighed and then a thermometer is unceremoniously inserted into her butt (never a dog’s favorite; actually never anyone’s favorite.) The Veterinarian inspects Olive and confirms that she has a moderate case of hives. We discuss what might have caused this. My best guess is that earlier in the day when I took her out to pee, she dragged me to the tree in the front yard, tracking some impressive scent and then dropped to all fours and began rubbing herself on it. (Which after talking to my next door neighbor later on, deduce that it was likely fox urine that she rubbed herself in.) I yanked her up right away but apparently the damage was done. I love when people dispense what they perceive as helpful advice such as “You shouldn’t let your dog do that.” Gee, thanks. That’s like saying, “When you see someone pull the trigger, duck.” Genius. Unfortunately, I’m not a psychic. If I could actually read the minds of dogs (never mind humans), I wouldn’t be writing this blog. I’d be taking a bath in a tub filled with gold. The Vet whisks Olive into the treatment area/emergency room, in which I’m not allowed, to give her two injections: steroids and Benedryl, or the canine equivalent of Benedryl. I hate when they do this. I wish I could be with Olive, but I suppose it’s for the best. About 10 minutes later, Olive prances out into the waiting room. She’s got a white cotton gauze bandage on her leg. I’m instructed to stick around for another 20-30 minutes to make sure she doesn’t have an allergic reaction (déjà vu) to the injections. It’s now about 11:30pm. We walk around checking out the store section and I get a soda. Olive is just happy to be with me and away from needles. She doesn’t have a reaction so I settle up the bill ($219) and we leave. Now I have to find a 24-hour drugstore that sells Benadryl so I can have this on hand in case the hives return. Oh, and when I get home, I have to give Olive a “warm, oatmeal bath.” Olive usually starts nodding out between 8:30 and 9pm, and its now almost 2am. She has more energy yet than I would have imagined. Bath done. Then I shower. Set my alarm for 6am to make a 9am Doctor appointment about 90 minutes away. To be continued…

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.”

School Daze

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/14/2011 at 8:42 pm

"They're BACK!"

It’s back to school time and Olive is as thrilled as an unopened jar of fingerpaint. During our morning walk, we pass by the local middle school and Centenary College. This gives Olive two opportunities to seek out oohs, aahs and friendly groping by both small and tall humans. As we approach the red brick entrance to the quintessential 1950s America-style Middle School, first we encounter the crossing guard who will walk into the middle of the street to stop oncoming traffic to allow Olive to pass safely as though she is another child. Olive stops to offer a thank-you lick. Up ahead to the right, all the children have gathered, chatting noisily in small groups like bees at a summer picnic. Sometimes a parent or a teacher will stop to chat and pet Olive. Some of the children stare longingly at Olive, their desire to pet her palpable. But, most are engaged in important conversations about all the things that were important to us at that age. You know, the things we can’t even recall today. We continue walking, passing mostly Victorian-style homes. The morning air is punctuated by the sounds of dogs barking from all directions, cars passing by, cement workers demolishing rapidly deteriorating stone front steps and often, the bell at Centenary College tolling seven times to let us know that it’s seven o’clock. We pass the home of the hyperactive tiny dog that rushes out to the front porch of its unique octagonal home (once the local post office) to bark non-stop crazy at Olive. Olive ignored it for many months and then got sick of it. Now, I watch for the exact moment when the hair on her neck and back rises and she utters a low growl that I’m sure means “SHUT THE F UP YOU BATSHIT DOG.” Inevitably we hear batshit’s owner yell at him and he stops. A few more blocks and we pass the “dancing teacup,” the miniature black and tan Doberman Pinscher, who tethered to his porch, races out toward Olive on the sidewalk, barking like someone just lit his tail on fire. We’re not done yet. Another few blocks and we pass “The Crazy Westie,” the white West Highland Terrier who hurls himself at the windows of his house while barking at Olive. What is it with these tiny dogs and their obsessive barking? As we round the corner, we can see the gleaming gold dome atop Centenary College. Sometimes we stop to rest on the front lawn of the campus. I check my iphone while Olive lays next to me gnawing on a branch she’s found. After a few minutes, we rise, and Olive quickly focuses on the students crossing campus on their way to classes. Yesterday, one of the students hangs out his car window to ask me: “I HEAR THOSE DOGS ARE GASSY. IS THAT TRUE?” “ONLY AFTER SHE’S HAD A FEW BEERS, AND PUKED UP CHEETOS ON HERSELF WHILE WATCHING A FOOTBALL GAME,” I reply. That’s what I want to say. Instead I say, “Not really, but sometimes her stools are really loose.” Have a nice breakfast, I think.

Barbie Crime Scene

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/09/2011 at 7:31 pm

"Now THIS is interesting."

I think the photo above cries out for some creative captions. Got any? This is the treasure Olive found during our walk this morning. She uncharacteristically dragged me across the sidewalk onto someone’s lawn to check this out. I can’t imagine what she thinks of it. A tiny, naked human, lying stiff in the grass. I’m hoping it piqued her interest because it was something she saw as opposed to something she smelled. She was very interested in it, nosing around it from all angles while I was desperately trying to get a good picture and talking on the phone at the same time. I should have let her pick it up in her mouth as the photo would have been priceless, but since my brain was otherwise taxed trying to hypertask, I didn’t think of it. I’ll bet when we pass by tomorrow it will still be there. Maybe we’ll get a second chance. Wouldn’t that be funny, if we came by tomorrow and Ken was lying there naked too? Who knows, maybe some demented neighborhood child is staging some kind of crime scene. Great. That would mean that a Jeffrey Dahmer- or Ed Gein-in-training is living nearby. Olive and I continued on our walk past the house on the corner with the most amazing lawn in the tri-state area. Really, the guy who lives here must have been a groundskeeper at Giants Stadium or a local golf course. It has not one weed in it. Perhaps this is why Olive always wants to pee here but I don’t dare let her. We cross the street and continue our peaceful early morning walk. “SO, WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE NAKED BARBIE DOLL?” asks Olive. “HOW THE HELL DO I KNOW?” I reply. “I JUST HOPE YOU DIDN’T LEAVE ANY NOSEPRINTS OR DNA ON IT.”

Rip Van Olive

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

DO NOT DISTURB. I MEAN IT.

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.

“Who Moved Olive’s Cheese?”

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/01/2011 at 10:57 am

"QUIET. I''m supervising."

Olive’s been a really good sport about the kitchen renovation taking place. She doesn’t seem to mind that her water and food bowls have been unceremoniously moved into the basement. Or that she can no longer stand in front of the dining room window and people-and-car-watch. And bark. Of course, I knew better than to dare move Olive’s overstuffed black-and-white pony chair from the corner of the dining room. That would be akin to shoving Queen Elizabeth’s throne out a window. There she sat, as regal-looking as ever in her chair surrounded by almost two dozen giant cardboard boxes protecting kitchen cabinets and other nicely finished “sticks.” It was comical. There was just enough room for the chair and her. It created the impression that Queen Olive was surrounded by a crowd of loyal subjects. And while she enjoyed snacking on all the bits and pieces of chalky drywall, splinters of wood, splatters of spackle, and yes, cardboard boxes, she wasn’t too crazy about all the strange people entering and leaving the house. Oh sure, she’d bark her little grey head off when they entered the house, but in a dramatic display of ambivalance, her tiny tail wagged back and forth so fast, I was afraid it would snap off at its base like the stem on an aging pumpkin. One unfortunate result of all this intermittent commotion was the toll it took on Olive’s bowels. I’m now convinced that when she gets stressed, she goes through minor bouts of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome for those of you with non-irritable bowels). This causes her to bark insistently at between 2am and 4am to be let out. Although I consider myself a morning person, this is not my favorite time of day to get up, get dressed and go outside. I stand under the star-kissed moonlight in the front yard with my dog who in the universally undignified “pooping position,” lets the contents of her bowels fly.

Olive “Talkies” Debut

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/30/2011 at 8:32 pm

This is Olive at 10 weeks old when I got her in June of 2010. Thank God I did not get her two weeks earlier otherwise I might have lost my mind completely. Olive was a firecracker that I could barely keep up with. I used to go over to my friend Irma or Kari’s house and hand the leash to them and announce with pathetic desperation and exhaustion, “PLEASE TAKE HER FOR 15 MINUTES SO I CAN RELAX. OTHERWISE I THINK I’M GOING TO SIT HERE AND CRY.” I would say that for the first four weeks I had Olive, the thought that maybe I wasn’t cut out for a weim (or maybe just a puppy) occurred to me at least once a day. It was a fleeting thought, but nonetheless one that alternately terrified, shamed and saddened me. But lucky for this dog, I’m no quitter. And today, even though she still has most of the energy of an electrical power plant, now I appreciate how much a part of her personality it is and how bored I’d be with a dog that “disappeared” into the cushions of the couch.

Hurricanineitis

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/28/2011 at 8:10 pm

"Be quiet, I'm PRAYING."

Well, Olive’s prayers must have worked. Hurricane Irene left Northwestern New Jersey relatively unscathed…so far. Although most of the rivers will crest many feet above flood stage by Tuesday morning. Olive and I slept on the extra-long microfiber couch in the living room last night. I didn’t want us to sleep in either the master or guest bedrooms upstairs in case a tree fell on the house. These rooms would take the brunt of the fall and I didn’t feel like waking up (maybe) pinned beneath the trunk of a soaking wet black walnut tree. For Olive, it was out of the ordinary to be sleeping outside her crate in the bedroom. First, she curled up like a little donut in the upholstered chair in the corner of the living room. Why this dog insists on circling her sleeping spot 25 to 30 times in rapid succession before dropping her legs beneath her is beyond me. It’s like watching the canine version of the fable, “The Princess and The Pea.” She stays there for 20 minutes which probably seems like two days to her.  Then, at around 11:30pm, as if  Jack Kerouac has been reincarnated, she gets up to aimlessly explore her other options. I see Olive’s “second wind” coming so I immediately get up and yank her fire engine-red Orvis donut bed off the top of her crate and place it flush against the couch I’m lying on. After she circles this expensive nest 25 times, she lays down and I say “GOOD GIRL OLIVE. GO NIGHT NIGHT.” Within seconds, she reveals her true intent. She jams as much of the fleece-like edging into her mouth and starts sawing away. ‘OLIVE. STOP IT. YOU ALREADY RUINED ONE BED.” I guide her back to the overstuffed chair and she climbs up and settles herself into the wide seat snugly, draping her head over its arm. Now I’m thinking, “WHERE THE HELL IS THIS STORM? NOTHING’S HAPPENING.” As if I had asked this of Zeus face-to-face, the response is immediate. The rain that comes down could only be described as a sustained assault. It is LOUD and POWERFUL. As it hits the roof of my wood-framed contemporary home with cathedral ceilings, the sound is somehow amplified. It has the distinct rhythm of a machine gun but the noise it makes sounds more like “BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM.” This continues throughout the night uninterrupted. Sometimes softer, sometimes louder.  I see Olive faintly, bathed in the blue glow of the oversize digital clock below the TV. She raises her head and looks around the room whenever the sound gets louder. The look on her face says it all. ‘WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?”At around 2am, I’m still mostly awake. I watch Olive rise from the chair and saunter over to the couch near me. I gently pull her up and she hops on the couch. She sidles next to me, extending her lengthy frame against the back of the couch. I put my arm around her and close my eyes, knowing that as long as Olive and I are okay, we can deal with whatever comes our way.

Hush Puppy Series

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/21/2011 at 3:09 pm

The Many Faces of Olive

Here it is. What I call the “Hush Puppy Series” from Olive’s professional photography session. I chose that name because it was the first phrase that came to mind when I saw it. It reminded me of the Hush Puppy shoes I used to love as a child. Always the  highlight of the back to school shopping trip each year with my Mom. To this day, I have an incredible affinity for suede and any fabric that feels soft against my skin. This preference may also have descended from the hellish mohair incident also from when I was a child. Someone gave me a mohair sweater and when I put it on, I felt as though I were wearing something cut from a roll of insulation. It scratched like hell and to this day I won’t go near mohair anything. What the hell kind of word is that anyway, MOHAIR? Maybe this why I also don’t really care for goats. (I really hate their freaky vertical pupils.) Because if you didn’t already know this (and I didn’t), mohair comes from the hair of the Angora goat. Anyway, back to The Many Faces of Olive. My favorite shot is the middle picture on the far right. It seems to capture Olive in a goofy child-like moment which seems to dominate her personality right now. I also like the middle shot in the top row which gives off the same vibe. The shot on the bottom far left shows just how symmetrical this dog’s features are. Her front paws line up with the precision of the atomic clock. I have showed Olive this bronze-framed piece of art and introduced her to herself. She showed more interest in the frame. This from the dog who routinely stares (and barks) at herself in the mirror while lying on the bed. Goofball.

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.

Mona Olive

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/12/2011 at 7:38 pm

"LOOK. INTO. MY. EYES."

Notice the ambiguity in Olive’s facial expression in the portrait above. Is she registering surprise, confidence, or an intellectual curiosity? Her head, front paws and back legs form the shape of a pyramid. Her right ear, cocked ever so slightly, draws the viewer’s eye to the powerful apex of the pyramid’s base. The left paw, extending beyond the right and positioned forward, hints at an independent, dominant nature. Her eyes as wide as UFOs stare directly into the viewer’s soul. Does this make you uncomfortable? Stare directly into Olive’s eyes. What do you feel? Do you have an uncontrollable urge for a bully stick? Do you feel an inexpressible need to dig a hole to the center of the earth, eating the insect-filled dirt along the way? Have you just leaped across the room onto the couch? And does the water in the toilet beckon to you with an uncontrollable desire? Wait a minute. Sorry. Olive has been channeling me again. “YES OLIVE, THIS IS ONE OF THE PRINTS FROM YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION. AND YES, YOU ARE MUCH PRETTIER THAN THAT HAG MONA LISA.”

 

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.

Disturbing The Cemetery Peace

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/24/2011 at 7:56 pm

"SO I barked. Sometimes you talk too much."

Today Olive and I drove down to the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown, New Jersey. It was an opportunity for me to complete a genealogical task; to photograph the bronze grave marker of one of my ancestors. It was a good excuse for both of us to get out. Having been effectively quarantined for the past 10 days trying to avoid the Persistent Satanic Heat Blast and nursing my infected Lyme rash, I figured it would be a good break from hiding inside the house like twin crypt keepers. The red fabric blinds have been drawn all week, making it look as dark and claustrophobic as the inside of a mausoleum. Off we go. Olive climbs into the back seat of the SUV and takes her spot (the middle) on the olive-colored bench cover, looking as expectant as a child on Christmas morning. I plug in the GPS and as usual, she immediately contradicts the route I was going to take to stop at an ATM first. Whatever. I get to the ATM drive-up and there are three cars ahead of me. Cars one and two come and go pretty quickly. Car three, immediately in front of me, apparently has massive issues that I don’t think a bank can solve. He must have pressed every button four times. “HOLY CHRIST OLIVE, WE’RE GOING TO BE HERE FOR A MONTH. I THINK THIS IDIOT IS TRYING TO PLAN HIS VACATION, THAT OR HE’S TRYING TO COMMUNICATE WITH EXTRATERRESTRIALS.” Olive just looks at me. Perhaps she thinks extraterrestrials are giant treats. Finally, the constipated clown in front of us moves and I complete my transaction in seconds. It’s easy. I need some cash. This is an ATM, Unfortunately, it doesn’t dispense brains. About 90 minutes later, we arrive at our destination, just as I’m wondering why the electronic beeyotch told me to turn left instead of right. I let Olive out to pee and give her a drink of water. As usual, trying to locate a grave inside a cemetery is needlessly complex, like a topographical M.C. Escher print. Really, what’s with the convoluted sectional numbering? Section KS. What do they do, hire cartographers to chart cemeteries? I see a marker for Section KN and one for KW, but WHERE THE HELL IS SECTION KS? As we make our way around the cemetery roads in circles, I see a melancholy sight. A man sitting in a canvas chair with an umbrella on it right in the middle of the lawn, obviously next to a grave. You could sense this was how he spent every Sunday. And you also sensed he would be spending the entire day here. This fleeting impression made me feel that it was a father at the side of his son’s grave. Very sad. Just a very short way away I finally locate section KS. I get out, open the windows for Olive and start looking for my ancestor’s grave. All the markers are bronze and flush against the ground. This gives the cemetery the appearance of being the least populated cemetery I’ve ever seen or the kind of park that one would never associate with so much sadness. There is another family close by, paying their respects. I am now about 100 feet from the car and apparently I’ve crossed some imaginary line as Olive begins barking like she sees ghosts that I do not. Mortified that she is disturbing the peace of families paying their respects in a veteran’s cemetery, I stop, look back, and not thinking, place my finger to my lips, giving Olive the universal human signal for “QUIET!” Olive understands this (when she wants to), but right now, I’m far enough away from her that she can’t see this command. And it’s not like I can use the dreaded spray bottle from hundreds of feet away. I stop to face her and she stops barking. I turn away from her and she starts in again. I think I’m doomed. My best bet is to find the grave marker as fast as possible, say a prayer, take a picture and get the hell back to the car. I do this amid Olive’s insistent barking and when I turn around to begin the walk back to the car, my little Tasmanian Devil goes mute. The best is yet to come. While I was only outside of the car literally for less than 10 minutes, apparently the GPS beeyotch has suffered a stroke. Which I don’t know until I start the car and begin driving. “GO .04 MILES AND TURN LEFT ON CONSTITUTION DRIVE… GO .03 MILES AND TURN RIGHT ON CONSTITUTION DRIVE.” “WTF?” I say out loud. I swear you could almost hear the tension of ambiguity in her electronic voice. It gets much worse. “HOW TO MAKE A SPAGHETTI SANDWICH, STAY TO LEFT.” “SHEEP ARE BISEXUAL CREATURES. TAKE RAMP ON RIGHT.” “TODAY IS ADOLPH HITLER’S BIRTHDAY, TAKE ROUNDABOUT.” Okay, so she didn’t go to Crazy Land quite this way, but really, it was as if she just stepped off a rollercoaster and couldn’t get her balance. I took her off the dashboard and put her in front of the A/C vent. “TAKE 1-95 FOR 3,048 MILES TO ICELAND.”

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.

Octostick

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/11/2011 at 10:39 am

"I see dead STICKS!"

Late Thursday night, when I took Olive out after the thunderstorm, we barely made it out of the garage before she begins barking like a banshee and shrinking back from something she obviously finds threatening. I squint my astigmatic eyes and step out a few feet to trigger the motion sensor lights. I do a quick visual scan of the front yard and there it is. While I am always afraid of coming face to face with a bear, the intruder that Olive is barking at is…a leafy bough that has fallen from the tree and lays like a beached Blue Whale on the front lawn. This dog has a gestalt mind; always recognizing “things out of their place.” I sigh with relief, grateful that I don’t have to protect my pooch and myself from being used as a toothpick and then torn apart and eaten by one of the American black bears that have already been roaming the neighborhood like zombies. However, Olive will not stop barking until I have confronted the motionless interloper. I walk out to the middle of the yard to retrieve the “Creature from The Black Lagoon,” dragging Olive behind me on her flexi-leash. It’s one of the few times it’s not unspooling like an off-track rollercoaster. She continues to bark intermittently as she charges forward, sideways and backward as if she’s as animated checker on a checkerboard, changing her mind instantaneously and repeatedly before making a definitive move. Olive is incredibly agile, executing 180-degree turns in fast forward (and reverse) with the grace of famous French trapeze artist Jules Leotard. It is funny to watch. “FOR GOD’S SAKE OLIVE, IT’S ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS. A STICK. AND IT HAS MULTIPLE HEADS.” For emphasis I add, “IT IS THE OCTOPUS OF STICKS!” I drag the bough across the lawn and driveway and place it next to the garbage can. It will probably stay there a week before I feel like cutting it apart to dispose of it. Olive runs over to inspect the captured prey, cautiously sniffing it. By the third sniff, she sinks her teeth into the injured branch. “HAPPY?” I ask Olive. She ignores me as the sawdust starts flying.

Stranger Biscuits

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/09/2011 at 6:34 am

"Do I LOOK like an easy mark?"

As Olive and I were on the last paw of our morning walk, we passed the discount gas station we pass every morning. Usually we just say “Hi” or “Good Morning,” to the gas jockeys. On this morning though, one of the gas jockeys approaches me to ask if he can give Olive a biscuit. At least he asked. Because he was holding up, not a complete biscuit, but half of one. That wouldn’t have been so bad but for two other bits of information. One, the artificial red coloring looked like the biscuit had been dropped into a can of brick-colored paint. You could distinctly see the “layer” of manufactured coloring on the biscuit. But the worst part was that I think this guy had been CLEANING OUT HIS CAR. Typical male. He probably thought to himself, “Hey, look, half a dog biscuit,” never stopping to think that it may have been trapped in the bowels of his dirty car amidst all the greasy junk food wrappers, crumpled empty cigarette packs, and God knows what else for the last three years. Yes, most people have good intentions. This is what we say when people don’t stop to think before they act. I look at the biscuit which seems to be decaying in front of my eyes, probably wrinkling my brow and curling my upper lip and say, “Uh, thanks, but she’s got a really sensitive stomach.” I can’t recall exactly what he said next, but it was something to the effect of “Are you sure?” I look him in the eye this time and say “Yeah, I think I’ll pass. I already have to pick up her poop with a straw.” He chuckles and backs away. I walk away thinking, am I THAT paranoid or was there about 4 things wrong with this situation? And just for the record, I half lied. Olive does have a sensitive digestive tract, but only a third to half of her poops resemble cow pies, but that’s a whole different story. Can you imagine my organic foodie pooch eating this petrified biscuit? The dog who won’t even drink out of her water bowl if there is any whisker dirt or kibble floaters present? Olive and I walk away and I am tempted to turn around to see if this guy eats the half biscuit himself.

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.

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