Patti Soldavini

Posts Tagged ‘pets’

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.

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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.

 

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.

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.

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.”

Olive in The City

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/21/2011 at 9:28 pm

"A prostitute AND a clown?"

Olive was in the heart of New York City on Saturday. (That is if you believe that New York actually has a heart.) By accident. I took Olive with me as we embarked on a trip to Weehawken, New Jersey to drop one of my nephews off at the New York Waterway Ferry. For those of you not familiar with the ferry, it offers a civilized 10-minute ride from New Jersey to New York with none of the hassles of driving. That is of course IF YOU CAN F’ING GET TO THE DOCK. As I come down the ramp into Weehawken ready to make the left hand turn at the only road I know of that leads to the dock, it is barricaded with giant orange and white plastic drums. No sign. But New Jerseyans are used to this. No sign is needed. It means, FIND YOUR OWN F’ING WAY.” “Cripes,” I groan, “Now what?” I have about three seconds to decide if I want to go through the Lincoln Tunnel. I turn to look at Olive in the back seat, sitting there much more tranquil than she ever is when she’s way back in Outer Mongolia, otherwise known as the cargo area. I hate the idea of going into “the jungle” with Olive, but I don’t have much choice. My nephew needs to be at Penn Station to catch a train. “Buckle up,” I announce to John and Olive, “We have to drive through the urban birth canal.” I hear Olive, faintly snoring in the back. Apparently, she’s just so happy to be nearer to me, she’ll just sleep through this adventure. I hate the tunnel. I hate the idea of being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic under the Hudson River for 1.5 miles. After what seems like hours, there’s light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. One of my favorite sights. (My other favorite sight is the sign that reads “Welcome to New Jersey” when we leave.) As we are expelled from the tunnel’s mouth like a drunkard’s morning-after gob of spit, Olive stares at me with a look that suggests she is wondering what the hell will come next. I come to a light where I need to make a left turn only to be confronted by sheer civil engineering idiocy. The traffic crossing in front of me is snaking around to ENTER THE TUNNEL. It was probably conceived by the same rocket scientist who designed fast food stores whose exit doors dump diners out into the path of oncoming drive-thru traffic. Since most New Yorkers suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and have a deeply abiding unearned sense of cultural entitlement, they proceed to block the entire grid as they stream continuously through 12 red lights. (And might I remind people that New Jersey was home to Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Bruce Springsteen. It doesn’t get much smarter and more accomplished than that.) To make matters worse, there is a nutless schmo in the silver barge in front of me who is actually WAITING for someone to let him through. Hey Bozo, this is not the Midwest. No one is going to “let” you in. You need to drive like William The Conqueror. I maneuver my Saturn around his car as though mine is a can opener on wheels. As I let fly a percussive note of filthy words that would make a convict blush, I glance back at Olive who is quietly and contentedly chewing on her bully stick while she’s stretched out across the length of the back seat. This is when she’s not people-and-dog-watching. “Look Olive, there’s a prostitute AND a clown!” Either she thinks that I have everything under control or she knows it’s best not to get involved at this moment. (Smarter than most back seat drivers.) Finally, I get to the entrance to Penn Station which is unrecognizable under a mountain of scaffolding. The building looks like the mouth of an eighth-grader with braces the size of a football stadium. I hug my nephew goodbye, jump back in the car, look at Olive and say, “Let’s get the hell out of this shithole, Olive. And this time we’re taking the GWB (George Washington Bridge) so if we get stuck behind some insecure mouse driving a car that’s too big for his skills, we can just push him off the bridge.” (Just kidding. And people wonder why New Jerseyans are so “gritty.”) The next time Olive goes into The City, it will be only to sign autographs of her book, “My Life with Patti,” at Barnes & Noble.

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.”

The Schwindler

In weimaraners on 05/19/2011 at 9:43 pm

"I smell an EASY mark."

It occurred to me the other afternoon, when I took Olive out, that if I had to use mental telepathy to let someone know when I had to go out, or that I was hungry or thirsty, I’d probably shoot myself. Really, because on some level, that’s what barking is. It’s just a sound dogs use to tell their humans, “ARE YOU DEAF? I’D LIKE A CROWN RACK OF LAMB FOR DINNER. WITH MINT SAUCE. BY THE WAY, MY EARS ARE DIRTY, AND MY ANAL GLANDS NEED TO BE EXPRESSED.” And all we hear of course is: “WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO-WOO.” Which leads me down the following mental path. “YOU POOPED. YOU PEED. YOU ATE AND YOU DRANK. IT MUST MEAN THERE’S A TOY TRAPPED UNDER THE COUCH THAT YOU CAN’T REACH.” “Do you know what I’m going to get you for Christmas Olive?” I say. “Those reach extenders they sell to alter kockers in catalogs like Lillian Vernon and Miles Kimball.” This is all part of Olive’s strategy to divert my attention. She waits until I am on all fours with my head so far under the couch that I feel like a procotologist that’s been sucked up a whale’s behind. It’s very dark. At the moment my head reaches the point of no return, I hear her sprint past me like running legend Steve Prefontaine. By now I know what’s coming. I yank my head out from under the couch but not soon enough. She’s joyfully licking the last spoonful of Haagen Daz Five mint ice cream out of the bowl resting on the faux bronze-topped coffee table. As she watches me approach her, she musters all the coolness of James Bond as she cleanses her palate by sipping my iced tea. I’m always amazed at how delicately she manages this, neither knocking the glass over or walking away dribbling like a toothless toddler. There is nothing clumsy about this dog.

Hot Dog

In weimaraners on 05/17/2011 at 10:01 pm

"Do I LOOK like a HORSE?"

Did you know that weimaraners throw off so much heat that if you rub two of them together you can start a fire? When I first got Olive, I noticed that she was so warm to the touch, she was almost hot. I learned that because weims have so little fur, their skin is much more exposed than most dogs. So what you’re feeling is really just the dog’s normal temperature which is between 101-102.5 degrees. I’ve decided that this makes her feel like a horse to me. There is an advantage to this. She can heat up a room faster than a wood burning stove. In fact, maybe I can reduce my heating bill in the winter by getting a weim for each room. On second thought, that would be way more expensive. Walk out of any closed-door room that Olive is in then walk back in. “GOOD GOD OLIVE. IT’S LIKE A SAUNA IN HERE. AND IT STINKS TOO. OPEN THE WINDOW.” A wall of heat knocks me back on my heels. Olive raises her head from a sleeping position and looks at me like “WHAT NOW? Great, I think. I’ve got a dog that’s so hot I get second degree burns when I pet her and she leaves scorch marks wherever she’s been. ZHPEAJ98RRDH

Circus Dog

In weimaraners on 05/17/2011 at 8:44 pm

"Oh, I have MANY hidden talents."

Last week, while visiting a friend, I learned, purely by accident, that Olive has been hiding at least one of her talents from me. Not only is Olive part beaver (She can whittle a railroad tie down to a toothpick faster than you can say “Pinocchio,”) but apparently she’s also part seal. Standing in my friend’s living room, I notice a baby blue balloon lying still on the floor. A crimped white ribbon is attached to it like an umbilical cord. The balloon is literally running out of gas, part shrunken, part shriveled, woefully in decline. It has no idea what’s about to happen. Sensing an opportunity for a bit of fun, or really always looking for an opportunity to observe the response to the question, “What Will Olive Do?” I pick up the balloon by its fetal cord and tap it upwards. Well, as I suspected, it was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Olive is highly intrigued, but cautious. She starts “nosing” the balloon, testing its material properties. When she realizes that it moves erratically “on its own,” she reacts the way she usually does; she’s a bit frightened. She does the same thing when the wind sends a discarded plastic grocery bag dancing down the sidewalk. Or when the ribbons on the handle grips of a child’s bicycle playfully ripple in the breeze. And especially when she observes the gentle swaying of the giant inflatables tethered to suburban front lawns during the holidays. She’s seen them all. Giant nylon turkeys. An enormous Headless Horseman. Elves trapped inside a gargantuan snow globe. A jumbo pumpkin that almost took to the skies one morning. I think it’s the unpredictability of an object’s movement that freaks Olive out. It requires her to be more agile than she might feel capable of being. After more tapping of the balloon, Olive finally begins to engage, lunging and jumping at it, mouth wide open trying to capture it between her teeth. (She is standing next to me right now and she just burped in my face. Thanks, Olive.) However, her dog anatomy keeps getting in the way. As she tries to grab it repeatedly with her mouth, her snout just keeps pushing it higher and higher. My friend’s two-and-a-half year old son erupts into a fit of giggles. Olive has magically transformed herself into a trained seal. Batting the half-dead balloon around which occasionally rests on the tip of her nose. I feel like I’m at the circus. I also learned something else that night. It’s a fun and easy way of tiring her out quickly. Ah yes, for once I’ve outwitted Olive.

The Headless Wig

In weimaraners on 05/14/2011 at 9:12 pm

"Is this how the lambs FELT?"

As Olive and I walked past the Livestock Auction in Hackettstown (not a joke) the other day, I noticed that the headless long brunette wig with auburn highlights that we saw flattened in the grass this past summer was still lying undisturbed in the same spot. Matted to the ground directly across the stall where they keep the cows that are auctioned off each Tuesday. Which leads me to wonder…where did it come from? Who tosses away or loses a wig next to a livestock auction? Perhaps one of the cows was wearing it as a disguise and escaped. Maybe a thief tossed it off after fleeing the nearby Quick Chek. The possibility also exists that a drunken teenager used it as a barf bag on Halloween. I am fairly sure that NONE of these thoughts run through Olive’s head. She’s too busy, nose plastered to the ground or pointing to the clouds, inhaling all the scents you might imagine that emanate from a Livestock Auction. Cow pies. Sweaty lambs. Chicken scat. Horny bulls. Weathered old farmers. And the overpowering scent of hay. The silver livestock trucks pull up early on these mornings, squeaking and creaking like a New York taxicab stuffed with fat tourists. They remind me alternately of a school bus for animals and the old-fashioned Airstream trailers from the 1950s. Olive remains in a state of high alert as we walk past what is essentially the livestock version of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. We hear the distressed sounds the animals make as they are marched from their trailers onto planks that deposit them into the barn. Olive senses that they are about to have an explosive gastrointestinal attack and can’t get off the planks fast enough. Back to the wig. It could also belong to the drunken old lady Olive and I encountered one mid-Summer morning. Oh yeah. 7am and this woman, talky as only a walking bottle of whiskey can be, rambled on and on about how her “baby” wasn’t on the train (and she wasn’t talking about a child) and why didn’t I have two dogs so they could “get it on.” Actually, what she said was cruder than that, but I try to keep this blog as PG-13 as I can. I blushed…for Olive. I wanted to cover the ears of my innocent puppy. So as not to piss off the drunk and initiate further interaction, I made some innocuous comment and walked away with Olive as fast as I could without making it seem obvious. Although why I thought anything would be obvious to someone whose blood alcohol level was more alcohol than blood, I have no idea.

Cracker Jack Lawn Prizes

In weimaraners on 05/09/2011 at 10:07 pm

"Do NOT look in my mouth."

With the return of Spring, which is usually the briefest window between Winter and Summer in New Jersey comes a series of rituals. (Sneeze and you’ll miss Spring.) The grass begins its metamorphosis from impotent brown and yellow patches that spring to life as a lush emerald green carpet. And it grows. And grows. And grows and grows and grows. It’s like having to give an 8-year old boy a crew cut every 5 days. What does all of this have to do with Olive? It provides her with one of her favorite seasonal treats. Moldy clumps of grass that the mower’s tires leave behind. Olive gobbles them up as if they are chocolate coated baby sparrows. As I watch her using the power of her jaw and rear molars to crush the clumps into digestible pieces, I think to myself, “She looks like she’s standing in the middle of a baseball field chewing tobacco.” This is followed by another ritual. The one where I have to open her mouth and reach past her tonsils to retrieve what is now a string of pre-digestive slime in which the clump of moldy grass is now cocooned. Otherwise, she’ll just puke it up inside the house. I try asking Olive to fork it over first. ‘OLIVE. DROP IT. LOOK AT ME. DROP IT.” She lowers her head once or twice…still chewing. I get impatient and just reach into her mouth. I fish around like I’m searching for the prize inside a box of Cracker Jacks. EUREKA! I extract the patch of grass that now looks like creamed spinach and feels like a garden slug exploded. Little slivers of grass dot the inside of her mouth like flecks of dill. I fling the offending patch across the lawn. Only not far enough away. The trail of slime was not aerodynamically friendly. Seconds later, Olive tracks it down and tries to re-ingest it. I decide that if she really had to poop, she would have done so by now so I begin leading her back toward the house, criss-crossing a mine field of moldy grass clumps. My pooch pauses repeatedly to snatch each prize perched on the lawn as though they are dead fish lying in a dried up riverbed. I actually catch myself saying, “Christ I can’t wait until the lawn burns out in a few months.”

Non-Verbal Cues

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

"READ my lips."

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

The Furious Pooch

In weimaraners on 05/06/2011 at 7:47 pm

"ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"

If you want to see Olive instantly switch from her sweet tempered disposition to that of Lizzie “Bite My Axe” Borden, just try taking one of her “dead” toys away. A plush squirrel she has filleted open from tail to neck. A giant tennis ball that has been deskinned, its neon yellow fuzz peeled away in asymmetrical patches. It is the only time she becomes absolutely furious with me. “HOW DARE YOU. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW HARD IT WAS TO TEAR THAT THING TO PIECES WITH JUST MY TEETH? DROP IT. IT’S MINE.” She trails me to the trash can, almost hyperventilating as she jumps up and down trying to snatch it from my hand like a distraught vulture. If you want to see me become furious with Olive, just watch me become equally unhinged when I catch her in the bathroom using the toilet tissue roll as her own personal Pez dispenser. “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR DOG MIND??? BAD GIRL! BAD GIRL! OUT NOWWWWWWWW!” Some days it’s like living with a rebellious teenager challenging boundaries both great and small. Other days it’s like living with a bipolar Curious George. And then, when I look at her stretched out on the couch (like right now), with her nose tucked into or underneath a pillow or her own leg as though she’s trying to protect it from the light, my heart melts. Especially when she starts snoring very lightly. It sounds so peaceful. And in that moment, I forget about the countless times she’s robbed the waste basket in the bathroom, chewing the Breathe Right strips as if they are sticks of Dentyne, chomping on the Q-Tips as though they were clove cigarettes and flinging her head from side to side to rid herself of the mint-flavored dental floss tangled around her tonsils like an errant strand of hair. I kiss her gently on the top of her head and whisper, “You little ball buster. Good thing you’re so adorable.”

Twist-Off Head

In Uncategorized on 05/03/2011 at 9:38 pm

"Is that a walking BOTTLE OPENER?"

Tonight as Olive and I were enjoying our early evening walk, crisscrossing the already lush green soccer field as occasional gusts of wind lifted Olive’s ears as though they were the rotating blades of a helicopter, we made our way to the sidewalk that winds through the development of mini McMansions with their perfectly manicured lawns. Up ahead, walking toward us are two small girls each tethered to one of their mother’s hands. One looks to be about 18 months old; the other, twice her age. I hear one or both of the girls correctly identify Olive as a “doggie,” and not a pony. Score one for the New Jersey school systems. I also see the mother executing a tighter grasp on each of the girls as Olive and I get closer. “Don’t worry,” I assure the mother, “She’s friendly. Too friendly maybe. She may try to lick the three of you to death,” I warn. The mother relaxes her vise-like grip and stops. Olive must have understood EXACTLY what I said, because at that moment she begins licking each of them as though they are different flavors of ice cream; each in the form of a cone. The girls giggle and titter amid expressions of unrestrained glee: “IT TICKLES!” It is only as Olive begins French kissing the 18 month old that I observe the mother visibly blanching. That’s okay I think, my dog is ingesting all the biological pathogens using your child as a host. Everything from soggy bits of Cheerios to snot-encrusted clots of banana. It occurs to me that to Olive, this must be the equivalent of a walking buffet. After sampling every station at the buffet, I start to drag Olive away as I recall what happened to my baby blue parakeet when as a child, I took Princess out of her cage and let a neighborhood girl pet it while it stood on my extended index finger. Instead of petting it, she tried to unscrew its head as if it were a twist off cap. Needless to say, the next morning when I awakened and went to greet my parakeet, she kept falling over in her cage. My father put Princess in a box without a top, cut a paper cup down to about an inch tall, filled it with water and we nestled the little “hospital room” carefully between two large branches in one of the trees in our backyard. This is what I remember; I was probably all of 6 years old. Anyway, it’s thoughts like these that remind me to make sure no one tries to unscrew Olive’s head from her body.

Bee Killers

In weimaraners on 04/27/2011 at 8:38 pm

"The bees scared me."

While I enjoyed my breakfast out on the deck this morning, poor Olive kept running around like a nervous bride ducking the fat fuzzy carpenter bees menacing her. Of course she doesn’t know that they can’t sting her because the males are stinger-less. Ouch. Kind of like a eunuch bee. All buzz, no action. Perhaps she is confusing them with the wasps that stung her twice last summer when she was just 11 weeks old. Casually sauntering across the deck past the tomato and basil plants, I suddenly feel a sharp searing pain in my ankle. “SHIT! THAT HURT.” I can’t recall the last time I got stung by a bee but I don’t remember it hurting this much. Do some bee stings hurt worse than others? Bee, wasp, yellow jacket, whatever; same difference. The pain starts to subside as the toxins now create an unrelenting burning and itching. The next morning, we make our way past the plants just a little less casually. “GOD-DAM-SON-OF-A-BITCHIN-BEE,” I scream as a stinger plunges into my OTHER ankle. It feels like a miniature sword. WHERE IN GOD’S NAME ARE THESE BEES COMING FROM? The next morning Olive and I pass the plants much more cautiously. This time I get past them without being stung. “YIP! YIP! YIP! YIP! YIP! YIP! YIP! YIP!” Olive is running in circles frantically trying to shake the wasp still attached to her leg. At first I thought she was having some kind of seizure, until I saw the wasp. “HOW DARE YOU STING MY 3-MONTH OLD PUPPY. NOW YOU DIE.” I comfort Olive and bring her back into the safety of the house. I march back outside choking with the blood red fury of a parent about to confront the parents of the snotnose that bullied their child. A visual sweep of the underside of the deck reveals a thin-skinned grey paper maché balloon-looking nest attached to the bottom of one of the planks. DIRECTLY  below the tomato and basil plants. It is the size of a Winnebago. Big enough to make Winnie the Pooh pass out with feverish anticipation. And by the way, wasn’t Winnie the Pooh presented to us as male? With a name like Winnie??? Anyway, now that I have identified the enemy, I am even more enraged. Really, in a maniacal state of “loon.” Like an Aztec Warrior whose loincloth is way too tight. I emerge from the garage with a jumbo can of Wasp Killer and a very long-handled broom. My strategy is to beat the living crap out of the nest like it’s a piñata filled with gold while I constantly spray the pesticide. This strategy is simply called, “Italian.” I slam the nest and it explodes with a lot of very pissed off bees. I am blind to their anger. I WILL win. By the time I’ve destroyed the nest. I’ve only been partially stung once. I am very pleased with the results. The odds were not in my favor. It’s amazing how the human spirit can triumph. Even if it’s only over bees.

Canine Capers

In Uncategorized on 04/25/2011 at 10:14 pm

"I did NO such thing. Bring me a drink. A lemon cake chaser."

On Easter Sunday, Olive got to play with her canine cousins, just hours after racing across the lawn in pursuit of a petite but speedy jackrabbit. The only thing that saved the bunny from being consumed on its own holiday was the finite length of Olive’s flexi leash. I begin packing all of Olive’s things into the car. There are so many objects, I think about stopping to take a nap. Flexi-leash, training leash, dinner bowl, food, bully stick, biscuits, toy, crate and towel. It seems like the only things I don’t need to pack are diapers, a nipple and breast milk. We stop for gas and head onto the highway. Olive is pacing back and forth in the rear cargo area of my Saturn collectible. She is excited because she recognizes that this is a “trip.” I slide a CD into the player as Olive begins barking. I have somehow learned to ignore this. You can’t give a dog a command that you can’t enforce otherwise they’ll just learn to ignore you. And since I can’t figuratively backhand the dog like my father used to do to me and my brother while he was driving because the cargo area is four arm-lengths away, I just tune it out. If I “talk to her,” this just encourages her to continue the conversation she started. I would have not thought it were possible to tune out such an annoyance if I didn’t have friends with toddlers. As the child cries full throttle at a pitch so sharp that my cerebral blood vessels shrink in fear, I say, “Do you HEAR that? Doesn’t it drive you BONKERS? How can you IGNORE that?” The next thing my friends hear is this. “Yeah, gotta go. I just remembered there’s a lunar eclipse today.” When we arrive at my cousins, we are greeted at the door by Oliver (yes, Oliver), Olive’s Tibetan Terrorist cousin. About half the size of Olive, but with all of the spirit. Minutes later, Hunter, the 120-pound Golden Goofball Retriever comes barreling through the kitchen, gobs of saliva and threads of spittle flying in all directions. I turn around and look at Olive and what do I see? My beautiful pooch staring at me with a giant wad of white foamy saliva smack dab between her eyes. It’s like looking at a gob of spit stuck to the Mona Lisa. “GET ME A NAPKIN RIGHT NOW,” I announce to no one in particular. Oliver just looks at me and walks away as if to say, “I didn’t do it.” Hunter is already off using his spittle to graffiti the walls of the house. I WANT THIS SCHMOO OFF MY POOCH. SHE LOOKS LIKE A CLOWN AT AN ADULT BOOKSTORE. I wipe Olive’s dainty little head clean and all three dogs are off racing through the house, tails wagging, legs flying, and tongues hanging. That is, until I turn around to see Olive quietly and very meticulously licking the icing off the lemon bundt cake.

Ode to Idgy

In Uncategorized on 04/23/2011 at 9:42 pm

Idgy The Wonder Dog (1993-2009)

By some weird twist of fate, my beloved Idgy’s birthday was like Olive’s, also in April. So as I have unconsciously paused to remember Idgy throughout this month, it occurred to me the other day how different Olive is from Idgy. And, how much alike they are. On many levels, I am comparing apples to oranges. Sheep to penguins. Or mice to men. I didn’t meet Idgy until she was two years old, just past the puppy stage that Olive is still in. And what is freshest in my mind are the years Idgy spent in decline. Idgy was a “multiple pedigree” pooch while Olive is a “single pedigree” pooch. Idgy was white with caramel colored spots, Olive is grey with taupe highlights in the right light. Idgy was content to curl up into a tiny fetal ball and lay on her donut bed. Olive likes to fully stretch out and recline on top of the BACK of the couch until she is lodged between the couch and the wall. Idgy had saucer-like chocolate brown eyes that exuded kindness. Olive’s striking amber eyes exude a barely controlled mania. Idgy loved being part of what was going on, including dressing up for Halloween. Olive thrives on being around people and activity but prefers at this stage to eat her Halloween costume. Idgy was unfailingly protective and loving. So is Olive. Idgy was inquisitive and when she cocked her head to look at me while I was speaking, it created the distinct impression that she was listening attentively… and comprehending. In fact, a stranger once remarked about Idgy, “That dog looks like it can talk.” I think what was inferred was that Idgy looked intelligent. She was. In fact, I fell in love with Idgy the day she spoke to me. Standing in my friend’s kitchen, she looked directly into my eyes and then slowly turned her head to stare at the kitchen faucet. And then she slowly turned her head back to me, fixing her big brown eyes on mine. “MY GOD, SHE SPOKE TO ME. SHE WANTS A DRINK OF WATER.” The realization came with the swiftness of a bolt of lightening. That was all it took. After that I was totally connected to that dog. Olive looks at me in a similar way when I speak to her. The only difference is this. I look into Olive’s eyes and I “see” her mentally considering how to outwit me. One of my other favorite memories of Idgy is her very humanlike reaction to seeing a dead deer on the side of the road, (which if you live in New Jersey, dot the roadways like inflated brown traffic cones) just a few feet from her as she stood with her front paws planted on the passenger seat armrest, her head out the window elevated above the roof line like a hood ornament. Looking at her from the driver’s seat, in the space of seconds, I saw her ears express surprise and shock while her body simultaneously recoiled, expressing revulsion at what she saw…and smelled. Her reaction was priceless. I’m not sure how Olive would have reacted. She’s still at the stage where she runs away from plastic bags blowing in the wind. I know one thing for sure. My heart is bigger because of both Idgy and Olive.

Leaf Shower

In weimaraners on 04/23/2011 at 7:51 am

"Is it DOG? Or a UFO?"

My daily walks with Olive are filled with as many transcendental moments as goofy ones. My all-time favorite so far is the “Leaf Shower” we experienced this past Fall in front of the entrance to Centenary College. As we casually approached a majestic-looking Ash tree on the college campus, its small yellow leaves began cascading down upon us in a steady stream as if someone had just turned on the shower. Olive and I stood under it for a few minutes allowing the beauty and peacefulness of nature to wash over us. It literally “rained” leaves continuously as though the leaves were tears expressing sadness that Summer was indeed over. I wish I had had my movie camera with me. It was a very memorable moment, really unlike any I had experienced before. Of course, as I stood there looking upward and stretching my arms wide as though it were snowflakes and not leaves falling, Olive was acutely focused on snapping up the leaves that were falling. “SNAP. SNAP. SNAP. SNAP. SNAP. SNAP. SNAP. SNAP. SNAP. SNAP. SNAP. SNAP. SNAP. SNAP.” Hearing Olive’s jaw open and snap close loudly with the rhythm of a machine gun and watching her head pivot omni directionally like Linda Blair’s in “The Exorcist,” always makes me laugh. She also rears up on her hind legs like a wild stallion while she’s doing this and when her front paws start flailing, she looks like Mohamed Ali pummeling an opponent. While the leaves continue falling, Olive and I begin walking away. “Save yourself Olive,” I say. “We have no idea what we’ll run into next.”

I Dance for Olive

In Uncategorized on 04/18/2011 at 11:11 pm

"What the HECK happened here?

It’s true. At home, I dance a little jig for Olive. It’s the least I can do in return for all the entertainment she provides on a daily basis. I watch her stare at me as if I just dropped down from Neptune in a haze of green mist and peppermint fragrance. She stands there immobile, watching me, trying I suppose to figure out if I am about to spontaneously combust or I’m expecting a response from her. She’s probably thinking. “HOLY CHRIST. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW? Occasionally she barks a few times. Seeing immediately that this changes nothing, she stops and continues staring at me like she’s watching a multiple vehicle wreck. One in which all the cute little farm animals tumbled out of their trucks onto the highway. Where dozens of bright pink bristly piglets escape by charging up the slow lane of I-80 East. Which leads me to an important observation that finally snuck into my rock hard skull last week. Every day, when I put on my jacket, pocket my keys and say to her “OLIVE? WANNA’ GO FOR A WALK? A WALKIE?” she does the same thing. She starts twirling in circles faster than a Russian ballet dancer. This is her version of SHRIEKING with delight. But on those occasions when I have to go out and she has to stay at home, I put on my jacket and pocket my keys with my back turned towards her and my piehole shut. What does my Harvard-educated pooch do? She proceeds to calmly walk downstairs and marches straight into her crate. It blew my mind. And speaking of smart, I was shocked to witness Olive’s reaction to seeing an illustrated animated dog (that did not bark) in a recent TV commercial. She responded to it the same way she responds to seeing a “real” dog on TV. Racing up to the TV screen and barking at the dog repeatedly. For some reason, it reminds me of when I was a child and when my friends and I were outside playing and we’d spot a boy or girl we didn’t know and one of us would scream from across the street, “HEY KID! YEAH YOU. YOU WANNA’ PLAY WITH US? And right now, the dog with the human IQ? She’s wiping her lips on the side of the couch. Nice. To her, it’s an $1,800 napkin. And one she wholeheartedly believes she deserves.

Weisenheimer Weimaraner

In weimaraners on 04/15/2011 at 6:35 am

"I LOVE duck."

“Is that a Vizsla?” an older woman asked me yesterday as Olive and I passed by the car she and her husband sat in, in the parking lot of a liquor store. “Well, she’s similar to a Vizsla but no, she’s a weimaraner.” “A weisenheimer?” the woman queried. “Yes, a weisenheimer,” I replied. Little did she know. Olive was both a weimaraner and a weisenheimer. My little smart aleck. Actually, Olive might be smarter than the old woman. She’s definitely more sober. Especially at 11 o’clock in the morning.

Getting Olive

In weimaraners on 04/10/2011 at 9:22 pm

"PICK ME! PICK ME! PICK ME!"

Next week is Olive’s first birthday. She will be 365 days old. I will have aged one dog year. In honor of this day I will be posting photos taken of Olive when she was a mere imp. A blur. A sonic boomlet. There aren’t too many of these photos because most of them are unfocused grey blurs where only a small part of her anatomy is in frame. The only time she was “kinetically-silent” was when she was passed out cold sleeping. Olive’s destiny as my spoiled pooch began last April when I psychologically made the decision to get a dog. This was 15 months after Idgy the Wonder Dog had passed on. I loved that dog with all my heart and it was heartbreaking to have to put her down. I sobbed while I held her and she took her last few breaths. Although I knew that day would inevitably come like the certainty of a late spring thunderstorm, I couldn’t believe it had finally arrived. It was shattering to take her to the vet’s office with the knowledge that she wouldn’t be coming home; knowledge that she did not have. The only consolation I had was that I believed the timing was right. A week earlier and it would have been too soon. A week later and it would have too late. Idgy sent very clear signals that she was ready; that it was now more painful to still be here than not. It took 15 months for me to stop feeling guilty about the idea of getting another dog. The first choice I had to make was whether I wanted a “single pedigree” or a “multiple pedigree.” Idgy was a multiple pedigree so that was a plus. But I also was inexorably drawn to both the Weimaraner and the German Shorthaired Pointer.  I identified a few Weimaraner breeders in northern New Jersey and one informed me that she had a brand new litter of 11. Off I went. Flying up the Garden State Parkway North as if I were being chased by Tyrannosaurus Rex. I arrive and what to my wondering eyes should appear? 11 tiny Weimaraners. 11 perfect little replicas of their stunning parents, whom I also met that day. Observing the mother I think to myself, “She seems pretty calm for a Weim. Or, she’s just exhausted from nursing 11 puppies with just 6 nipples.” I glance over at the fence where the father is racing back and forth like a Bengal Tiger eyeing me, the intruder, while he barks as though he just discovered Osama Bin Laden hiding behind a nearby tree. How do you choose one when each looks indistinguishable from the next? How do you choose one when you’re watching 11 of them crawl all over each other like ants that have just found an unattended French baguette in the middle of the desert? “Let me think it over,” I say. “I’ll let you know. It’s a big commitment and I also want to look at some German Shorthaired Pointers.” I look back at the 11 pair of Paul Newman baby blue eyes tracking me while I make my way back to the car. In less than 10 minutes, I’m back on the Garden State Parkway. In less than 15 minutes I call the breeder. “I’ll take one. Pick out the one you think is right for me.” This is how Olive’s story begins…

Olivepalooza

In weimaraners on 04/05/2011 at 8:37 pm

"Want to hear me YODEL?

Olive is quite the vocal pooch. The deep, basso profundo growl she sustains when expressing her displeasure at a bird trespassing in her airspace. “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY SIGHT OR I’LL SNATCH YOU RIGHT OUT OF THE AIR AND EAT YOU ALIVE!” Or the yearning hauntingly sustained howl she uses to signal her dismay at being left alone. “MY-HEART-IS-BREAKING-INTO-A-MILLION-PIECES.” Then there’s the skull-splitting bark she uses when she’s either signaling her urgent need to go outside to drop a lawn cigar or when she wants you to know that she’s very angry about being crated just because she clipped my head with her rock-solid hind quarters when she became airborne leaping over me while I sat on the couch. “NOT. MY. FAULT. LET. ME. OUT. OF. THIS. BIRD. CAGE. NOW!” Of course, there’s my personal favorite, the “nose whistling.” During these moments, you’d be right to mistake her for the world’s greatest flutist. “DO RE ME FA SO LA TI.” The only thing missing is a series of bright metallic keys on the bridge of her nose. I close my eyes and picture her standing on all fours on stage at Carnegie Hall. A very tiny, very round person dressed in a diminutive tuxedo daintily raises Olive’s petite tail and blows air into her behind while Olive deftly plays the keys on her nose. The pitch and range of the notes she’s able to hit are at the very least, American Idol-worthy. But the one noise she makes that never fails to startle me is her yawn. It sounds incredibly human-like. “EEEYYAHHHHHH.” It’s almost a little creepy. Now she’s snarling a bit like a frustrated bull because her softball-sized red tennis ball just bounced off the wall and shot under the couch. I bend down to retrieve it and when I look under the couch it looks like Christmas. At least five of her toys are huddled together seeking refuge. “SHHHHHH…WE ARE NOT REALLY HERE.”

Q-Tip Addict

In weimaraners on 04/02/2011 at 10:29 am

"Who, ME?"

My little Q-Tip addict is now sunning herself on the back of the blanket-covered couch, looking as innocent as a Beatrix Potter bunny. Maybe I’ll nickname her “Princess Ra” when she does this. This is where she fled to after being chased throughout the house with a fan of Q-Tips sticking out of her mouth. She wins because I have to stop to pick up the webs of discarded dental floss that are strewn across the carpeting as if a can of pick-up-stix has exploded. Between the Q-Tips, tree limbs, wood pellets, and cardboard compulsion, I’m wondering if Olive has a fiber deficiency. I could probably feed her a bowl of sawdust, crumpled up cardboard and Q-Tips and she’d be just as happy. Instead, like a moron, I feed her expensive natural and organic dog food. I’m not sure how to keep her from ransacking the bathroom wastebasket like a common junkyard dog. I have to put the lid down on the toilet to keep her from drinking from it as if it’s a slurpee fountain. Now I have to close the bathroom door to keep her from wearing the wastebasket as a silver hat. Maybe I should just seal all the pinholes in the universe to keep her out of trouble. Goofy dog.

Spank The Human

In weimaraners on 03/29/2011 at 6:11 pm

"I don't know WHAT you're talking about."

Have you ever been spanked by your dog? With a stick? I have. I swear, I don’t make this stuff up. I may exaggerate a little, but it all stems from a truth. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, Olive has a love affair with sticks. The dog must have a stick in her mouth while walking. Kind of like a cigarette smoker who cannot drive without sucking on a cigarette. Orally fixated, kinetically expressed.

Olive is not intimidated by the size of the stick. I’ve seen her pick up a fairly large-sized limb from a tree and try dragging it behind her. I usually have to perform an emergency amputation of the branch that is already in her mouth and we walk away with that and she seems satisfied. Until she sees the next desirable stick. I have yet to figure out why she finds certain sticks attractive and others do not merit even a second sideways glance. Thank God telephone poles are “vertically planted sticks.”

Yesterday though, she spanked me. With a stick. Repeatedly.

During our daily walk, Olive picks up a stick about the size of a drum majorette’s baton. Slightly shorter in length, but the circumference looked about right. Not a wimpy stick. A handsome one too if it could be said that a stick is handsome. The Brad Pitt of sticks.

She’s walking on my right, slightly behind me and she begins gnawing on the far right end of the stick. This places the bulk of the stick strategically behind…my behind. As she chomps down on the stick with all the vigor of Paul Bunyon, the left end of the stick bats my ass. This act repeats itself about a half dozen times and picks up a distinct rhythm, sounding like one of the songs from Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album. With each chomp, I can sense Olive becoming frustrated that my ass is preventing her from fully enjoying her stick gnawing experience. CHOMP. SWAT. CHOMP. SWAT. CHOMP. SWAT. CHOMP. SWAT. CHOMP. SWAT. CHOMP. SWAT.

It creates the distinct impression to passersby that my dog is spanking me.

Two-Headed Leash

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

"NICE move with the leash today."

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

Little Red Corvette

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

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

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

Girly Dog

In Uncategorized on 03/22/2011 at 9:01 pm

"Does my ass look BIG?!!"

“DOES MY ASS LOOK BIG?” said Olive, as she turned around to get a good look at it herself. This from the pooch that stares longingly at herself in the mirror every day. Last week she mini-puked once or twice. Once in the backyard. Once in the back of the car. Hopefully this is not a sign of Bulimia. She barely touches her breakfast so I don’t think she’s a binge eater. But wait, she does eat her dinner down to the linoleum floor. DOES that make her a binge eater?

Olive does seem a bit preoccupied with her image. Sometimes I catch her licking her giant Jayne Mansfield-like chest which compels me to verbalize “OLIVE. KEEP DOING THAT AND I’M GOING TO CALL YOU ‘TIT LICKER.’” She lifts her head, stops licking momentarily and looks at me like “YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?” “KEEP LICKING AND YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE A BALD SPOT ON YOUR CHEST,” I reply. “THINK ABOUT THAT, BALDY.”

She holds my gaze for a few seconds before she cranes her neck backwards and starts licking her ass. This is Olive’s way of getting the last word. It works.

The Typhoonigator

In Uncategorized on 03/22/2011 at 8:58 pm

"Oh no, it's THE TYPHOONIGATOR!!!"

That’s code for the blow dryer. One of two of Olive’s most hated appliances. The other of course, being the vacuum. She’s actually not too bad if she’s allowed to observe these monsters with their endless tails from a distance. Like from the planet Pluto. She seems to feel safe as long as she’s loose in the house when I use either. She’s like a cop tailing a suspected perp. She stays just far enough away to not blow her cover, but continues tracking like an animated GPS. I imagine that her intermittent barking, more an indication of her displeasure, is like a GPS that screams at you while driving. “TURN LEFT YOU F’ING IDIOT. RECALCULATING. TURN RIGHT YOU F’ING MORON. RECALCULATING. NOW WE HAVE TO TAKE THE LONG WAY YOU TOOL. RECALCULATING. WHY NOT TRY FLYING INSTEAD PINHEAD?”

Crating her during these activities I learned, is not a good idea. I’m guessing she feels threatened because she’s essentially trapped. She barks so much that dog foam and spittle coats the bars on her crate like vinyl. And that stuff, just like its counterpart which I call dog “nose paste,” and which you’ll find smeared across all the nose-level windows in the car and the house, is like glue. Really, the back window of my car looks like Monet dipped his brush in Olive’s spittle before applying it to a huge glass canvas. Christ, you need a 10,000 PSI pressure washer to strip that goo off. There’s probably enough DNA in there to clone Olive. Oh, now there’s an idea. Two Olives. Olive and Oyl.

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