Patti Soldavini

Posts Tagged ‘toys’

Dog Yin, Doll Yang

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 01/11/2012 at 10:09 am

"Are you KIDDING me?"

Beautiful dog, ugly doll.

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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.

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.

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.”

The Plush Morgue

In Uncategorized on 02/12/2011 at 9:15 am

The bodies are piling up. Dozens and dozens of Olive’s plush toys, some dismembered, others disemboweled, all cheerfully transformed by Olive’s hydraulic jaw. I have tried numerous brands, countless textures and sizes ranging up to that of a petite bison. Olive laughs out loud at the packaging that screams “for tough chewers.” It doesn’t seem to matter. She uses her teeth to create a small puncture wound to gain entry. Then she starts to fillet the toy until puffy miniature clouds of stuffing begin to erupt from it. At this point, I have to take it away from Olive or she will gorge herself on the stuffing as if she’s Henry the VIII.

After much trial and error, here’s what I’ve learned about dog toys and Weims. The only fabric which remains fairly indestructible to Olive’s surgical talents is canvas. Fleece? To her, that’s a nice bowl of oatmeal. All labels must be removed prior to giving the toy to Olive or it’s the first thing she will remove…and eat. And what’s the deal with the little “fruit loops” on the toys? Is this so you can hang them on the Christmas tree? WTF? I must carefully prune the toy of these loops as well, otherwise I might as well just give Olive a can opener to penetrate the toy. No small appendages. That’s right, if there is a tiny arm, leg, fin or raised eye, I must amputate it. Otherwise, Olive will. Because I use a scissor, my cuts are much cleaner, sparing the plush squirrel, armadillo, bat or fox the pain that comes with the ragged edges that Olive’s teeth leave.

Let’s not forget the stitching on the toy either. Stitching must be so small and tight that it can only be seen at the cellular level. It must also use military strength thread. Oh, you think I should try using industrial strength rubber Kong-type toys? Well, unfortunately, Olive does not seem to like the smell or taste of vulcanized rubber. She won’t touch any of these type of toys. No matter what shape they come in. Bone, cat, chipmunk, bird. Nothing. Even if I stuff a treat inside one, she will endure it just long enough to extricate the treat. Then, she tosses it aside as if I’ve given her another dog’s dirty underwear to put on. As I stuff another dead toy into the trash can, which I seem to do every other day, I wonder what the local sanitation engineers must think when they see all the headless plush animals tumble out.

Crash Landing

In Uncategorized on 01/18/2011 at 9:16 pm

Olive is now 9 months old and has begun toying with me.  The other day while I was in the kitchen, I looked into the dining room to see Olive peering through the oak railing into the living room below. I could tell she was perplexed simply by the way her head was cocked and ears slightly elevated as if preparing for lift off. This impressionistic display clearly communicated “Huh, how did that happen?” or the ubiquitous “WTF?” Curious myself to see what she was staring at with such intense focus, I make my way into the dining room. “Olive, what’s going…” and as I peer over the side of the parquet cliff, I see it. The twisted, gnarled plush wreckage. Olive’s mini bear squeak toy, lying lifeless at the foot of the domestic mountain. Trapped between the chestnut-colored leg of the couch, and the base of the pewter floor lamp. Olive looks at me with a mixture of shock, curiosity and helplessness. At least that’s how I interpret it. If you look closely, you can see what I can’t, the cartoon bubble floating over her head. It reads “Watch me get this without moving a muscle.” As if on cue, I proceed down the stairs into the living room to retrieve Olive’s bear from its hellish crash landing. I come back upstairs, toss the bear to Olive and return to the kitchen. Not 30 seconds later, the deafening silence grabs my attention. What do I see? As if I am watching a slow-mo replay of a Superbowl touchdown, Olive, striking an identical pose, peering over the side of the parquet cliff, as if to say, “Oops.” As I make my way back down the stairs to once again rescue the tiny plush beast my goofy pooch has casually tossed away like a rancid fish, it occurs to me that I’ve just been trained how to fetch.

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