Archive | humor RSS feed for this section

Things That Go Boom

3 Jul

I haven’t gone out to a fireworks show in 91 dog-years. I wouldn’t have gone that last time a decade ago, but my ex whined and pleaded, like men do. But I rushed home as soon as I could to comfort my dogs and promise them never to do that again. They forgave me after I covered my face in peanut butter and let them lick it off.

The fact is, I don’t like fireworks either. Sure, they’re pretty to look at, but all that noise freaks me out. Possibly because I grew up in a house with drive-by shootings from the inside. Or maybe because when I was even younger, I lived on an Air Force base that had “war games” and we lived in buildings painted to match the forest in case someone wanted to bomb the place. That’s a lot of comfort when you’re a 10-year-old. You try explaining to Barbie that she can only go outside if she wears a camo bikini.

Or maybe both my dogs and I don’t like things that go boom in the night because those things are inherently scary. And not only to us. It hurts me to thin about the poor wildlife having to deal with the testosterone rush that requires everyone blow something up to celebrate freedom. How free are you if you’re holed up in a tree stump quaking?

I’ve had dogs for 34 years, so I’ve survived a lot of fireworks ordeals. Three of my dogs barked or bark every time a rockets-red-glare takes to the sky. Two quivered under blankets as I turned the white noise machine to “loud ocean waves crashing on the California coast, with occasional seagull cries” in a futile attempt to drown out the noise. Two didn’t seem to care as long as there were plenty of treats on hand.

I foolishly believed that eventually we’d find a better way to celebrate Independence Day. Like with flash-mob dancing or mimes acting out things we love about our country. “Oh, I get it – it’s gender equity!” But noooooooooo.

In the past ten years, I have lost part of a fence because kids launched a bottle rocket into it and set it on fire; I have seen young kids make their own IED by putting a cherry bomb into a mayonnaise jar; and who could forget the time a stray firework set a neighbor’s shed on fire – a shed in which he stored gasoline for his mower and extra ammo? Yeah, that was a night the dogs and I will never forget.

For the past several years, I’ve attempted to find a quieter spot than my neighborhood to take the dogs for the night, but everything in a 50-mile radius goes boom all through the night. We once took a walk around our local hospital, which a) is kind of out in the boonies and b) is a hospital for dog’s sake and if you have to be quiet inside, the same should be true for the outside. But noooooooo. Everyone in the neighborhood did their best to keep Chinese fireworks companies profitable.

So now we stay home and try our best to keep calm. We have a Thundershirt and Rescue Remedy on hand. We have noise-cancelling headphones, which by the way, tend to freak my dogs out as much as the fireworks themselves. I’m thinking about befriending a harpist so she can come over and play soothing music between June 30 and July 7, which is what we call, “Louddependence Day.”

Oh, and I’d better stock up on treats. Cookies for the dogs and vegan ice cream for me.

 

 

Advertisements

Sometimes Too Much is Just Enough

19 Sep

img_0591

Murray the Dog joined the family a year ago last week. The last thing in the world I needed was a fourth dog. But there he was in that picture online, staring straight at the camera, his eyes boring into my heart. I heard him say, “I’m waiting.” Of course, I often hear chocolate say that too, so I may be partially delusional.

I should start by saying that as with many online matchmaking adventures, Murray was not exactly as pictured. In his photos, he appeared to be a dachshund, when in fact he turned out to be half dachshund, half kangaroo, and half Tazmanian devil. Sure, the math doesn’t add up, but he’s not that good at math.

12998593_10208903580725091_6452202916983831647_n

If I had to describe him with just three adjectives, I’d choose wild, crazy, and “Hey, those are my panties, put them down!” Okay, that last one isn’t so much an adjective, but it has become a one-word phrase around here.

Despite being 2-1/2 according to the records from the rescue organization, Murray is truly still a puppy. There isn’t a book he doesn’t want to rip apart, a field he doesn’t want to bound across at full speed, or an ear he doesn’t want to munch on. Unfortunately, he’s so damned cute and I’m so damned smitten that he usually gets his way. I have not, however, taken him up on his offer to drive. That just wouldn’t be safe, what with his head out the window.

He did go through puppy obedience class, where he graduated second in his class. There was only one other dog  there. Additionally, I spent the big bucks hiring a behavior specialist to try to get him to not be so fearful and barky on walks. It’s hard enough with Penny in a stroller and Watson smelling every blade of grass in the neighborhood for a solid five minutes. Having a young pup who lunged and barked at everything wasn’t safe or neighborly. Fortunately, he’s much better now. He actually listens before he disobeys me. If you’ve ever had dachshunds, you know that comes with the territory. He can also jump 3-feet into the air to demand payment for complying with any command. That would be the kangaroo in him.

Watson, who is 14 now, usually just gives Murray the side eye as he steals yet another toy. I can buy two of everything (Penny is not into toys; she’s into jewelry) and Murray will end up with both of them. And they will both be ripped apart in minutes. I’m embarrassed to admit how much time I spend scouring secondhand stores and garage sales for stuffed animals that don’t have plastic eyes, beans or wires in their anatomy, or technology of any kind embedded inside. The last thing I need is a stuffed animal that says, “Let’s go to sleep” every time Murray shakes it.

1426135_10207876994341073_4083882007059948582_n

Penny’s only objection to Murray’s crazy antics is at night in bed. You see, I made the crazy decision to downsize from a king size bed to a queen after sweet Justin moved on to the next spiritual journey.Penny wants to lie next to me at all times (I could Velcro her to my stomach and she’d be as happy as a clam that no one bothered and was able to live out a life free from worry). Murray frequently decides that any spot Penny wants should be his, so I frequently have to listen to them debate who gets mom’s fattest parts tonight. It’s good to know that my postmenopausal belly flab serves a good purpose.

So yes, I absolutely did not need a fourth dog. And even though there are only three canine family members now, I can’t even begin to tell you how much laughter, silliness, and fun we have every day. Sure, my toilet paper roll is frequently slobbery, my books are in poor condition, and some days I just go commando, but having crazy energy in the house once again makes it all worthwhile.

11149345_10207244333684952_6856155403459373991_n

 

Looking Back with Laughter

27 Mar

I got the call yesterday that my almost 17-year-old dachshund Justin’s ashes are ready to be picked up. I am also ready to be picked up, so I decided to look through my old humor columns for those in which I talk about Justin. This one made me laugh, so I’ll share it. It’s from 2001, so Justin was all of 2 years-old.

 

Things That Go Bump in the Day

The other day I was sitting at my computer writing a column about pornography when I heard a horrible noise in the kitchen that sounded like a raccoon had somehow managed to get in my dryer. And from the sound of the commotion, the raccoon was none too happy about being there, so he was kicking and thrashing, trying to get out. After fifteen seconds or so, the noise stopped completely, which I took to mean that the raccoon had (a) found a way out of the dryer, (b) died of a concussion from bashing his head against the lint trap, or (c) decided to play possum until I let down my guard and tried to toss in some wet laundry, at which point he would leap out at me, grab me around the neck, and demand that I let him sleep on the sofa with the rest of my menagerie.

Upon hearing the commotion, my dogs ran bravely into the kitchen and stood by the cookie jar waiting for a treat. Scary noises make them hungry. I know the feeling. After his cookie, my younger dog Justin actually mustered up enough courage to sniff around the door to the laundry room, only instead of sniffing down near the floor, he sniffed up in the air (if you can call nine inches off the floor “up in the air.”)  This just reinforced my fears. Probably the raccoon had given up waiting for me, managed to get out of the dryer, and was now hanging on the back side of the door, waiting to drop onto my head as soon as I dared opened it.

So I did what any rational-thinking adult would do – I grabbed the Yellow Pages and the phone and headed for the part of the house furthest away from the possible intruder. There were no listings under “Raccoons” or “Medium-sized Nocturnal Mammals in Major Appliances,” so I called a pest control service.

“I think there’s a raccoon in my dryer,” I whispered, not wanting the raccoon to know I was calling the authorities.

“Don’t you know that raccoons are dry clean only?” the insensitive lout on the other end of the phone joshed. When he finally stopped laughing at his own joke, he assured me it was almost impossible for a full-size raccoon to have climbed through my exhaust vent and into my dryer. I hung up, humiliated but not relieved – who was I going to believe, my own two ears (or six, if you count the dogs’) or a total stranger who had probably been exposed to so many toxic chemicals he glows in the dark?

So I sat on the bed trying to talk myself into checking out the situation. “You’re bigger than it is,” I said bravely. “Yeah, but it has the element of surprise,” I countered. “But you’re smarter.”  “But I’m dehydrated, so I’ll be weak when the fighting breaks out.”

Finally, I grabbed the aluminum baseball bat from next to my bed and snuck stealthily towards the laundry room. Now why I had the bat, I don’t know. Because the truth is, I could never hit an animal – I can barely bring myself to kill mosquitoes. The raccoon could puncture a major artery and I’d be reduced to cooing at it “I’ll give you a cookie if you’ll let go.”

With eyes half-open and in my best Ninja-stance (I think it was a Ninja stance from what I’ve seen on cartoons), I threw open the door to the laundry room. There was stuff all over the floor!  It was worse than I thought!  Obviously the raccoon was in the cabinet, tossing stuff out. There was dog food and other doggy paraphernalia everywhere. And flea shampoo spilled on top of everything.

Finally I got brave enough to look up in the cabinet so that I might face the intruder eye-to-eye, only to find there was nothing there. No raccoon. No large rat. Not even an army of ants that had gone AWOL.  What I did find was that the cabinet itself had somehow managed to leap off the wall, apparently of its own free will, and had landed on the dryer. The noise I had heard was the initial crash and the sound of everything in the cabinet, falling to the floor.

I guess that just goes to show you shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Things are usually not as bad as they seem. But just to be safe, I’m not doing any laundry for a few weeks.

It’s My Circus

3 Jul

Sometimes I think that before deciding to adopt a dog, everyone should be required to join Cirque du Soleil for a year to learn the appropriate skill set. Just this morning, I could have used some contortionist skills in order to untangle from three dog leashes. And there’s never a time when I’m putting my dogs into the backseat of my car and hooking up their seat belts that I don’t feel like I’m working with clowns and a clown car.

But most of all, I wish I had tightrope skills. And not just because my dachshunds only allow me 2 inches of space in which to walk.

Ozzy - Fastest Crossing Of A Tightrope By A Dog Guinness World Records 2013 Photo Credit: Paul Michael Hughes/Guinness World Records Location: Norfolk, UK

Ozzy – Fastest Crossing Of A Tightrope By A Dog
Guinness World Records 2013
Photo Credit: Paul Michael Hughes/Guinness World Records
Location: Norfolk, UK

Life is about balance, and when you have three senior dogs, that becomes increasingly clear. Case in point: trying to balance traditional veterinary medicine and alternative approaches that don’t involve the phrase, “Here’s a prescription for some antibiotics.”

Two of my three dogs see a homeopath. Justin, my 16-year-old, shakes like a fracking-caused earthquake in Oklahoma any time we drive near the regular vet, despite the fact that he can no longer hear or see (he must smell the antibiotics). On our last visit to the homeopath on the other hand, he fell asleep on the memory foam doggy mattress she has on her floor. With the peaceful new age music playing on the speakers, I myself was tempted to nap.

The path to alternative veterinary approaches to doggy health care started with my first dachshund, Copper, who due to his insistence that he was a stunt pilot and not a short-legged dog, became paralyzed at age 12. With a combination of acupuncture, a doggy wheelchair, and physical therapy that involved me tickling his feet so that he would reflexively kick and keep his leg muscles strong, he had 3 great more years of semi-mobility.

dog-acupuncture_1

I search for a lot of non-traditional remedies for dog-related ailments on the Internet these days and I’ve had some amazing success. Justin was plagued with chronic UTIs for years until I discovered a product online called Pet UTI Prevention from http://www.askariel.com/. He has now gone three years without a problem! He’s also taking Epi Plus from https://www.purelypets.com and with it, his seizures have been reduced from every few days to about once a month. Both of these supplements are herbal remedies, not drugs.

All three of my dogs get Ceylon cinnamon with dinner, which helps reduce inflammation and infection in their teeth and gums. In addition to a 16-year-old, I have two 13-year-olds (I just found out that Penny had been lying about her age for years and when she came to me as a rescue, she was probably 5, not 2). Needless to say, I relish the idea of dental cleanings like I do my own mammograms. Especially for Penny because her teeth form plaque on the way home from her cleaning. She has so few teeth left, she could star on Duck Dynasty. The cinnamon even helped get rid of Justin’s abscess. (Be sure to use Ceylon cinnamon as dogs can’t digest the other kinds).

Watson has a slew of lipomas and one sebaceous cyst that occasionally bursts. It is not pretty, but I’ve finally gotten over the ick factor and no longer rush him to the vet for antibiotics. I use calendula oil and regularly apply warm compresses with castor oil. It seems to help. I do the same with Penny’s lumps and bumps.

I still love and appreciate my regular vet and struggle sometimes deciding which approaches to take in keeping my pups healthy. But just having options makes me feel less like a clown and more like a ringmaster.

images

Adjustments

1 Aug

Life is always changing and there’s no better reminder than watching our dogs getting older. It can be sad and frightening, but we can learn to be better people as we walk the path together.

Right now, I have three senior dogs: Penny is 8-1/2, Watson will be 12 this month, and Justin is 15. They’re all dachshunds, which is good in that they’re small enough to pick up and put in a stroller or a wagon when they’re tired, but it also means I have to haul around a stroller and/or wagon everywhere we go. We visited the coast of Oregon last month with the stroller and I pushed 67 pounds of wiener dogs plus whatever the stroller weighed against a 20-m.p.h. wind in sand. Talk about a glut workout!

IMG_0333

Watson had toe cancer last summer and it was all about him. We walked at his speed, he got pampered the most, and he even got to take a spin on an underwater treadmill. He’s fine now and in fact, is tossing squeak toys and running around my desk as I write this.

Penny is a tweenie while the other two are standard doxies, so her legs are really short. Her brothers look like they’re on stilts compared to her. These days she either gets tired more easily or she knows that if she gives me that “Mom, I’m such a tiny dog and I’m exhausted” look, I will pick her up and tuck her in my shirt. And she’s not as diminutive as she’d like me to believe — she weighs 15 lbs! I’ve taken to wearing fabric with good tensile strength so it can hold her.

Justin has the most rules for us to follow. He won’t walk if it’s over 70 degrees, raining or snowing. He’s lost most of his eyesight, so the transition from shade to sun disturbs him (and he refuses to wear the sunglasses I bought him). This means that whenever I can, I walk so that he is always in my shadow. Try it — it’s not an easy task. Between the near-blindness and his dementia, he will walk right into or through anything if I’m not on the ball. Pile of debris? Yank. Drainage grate? Yank? Over-sized statue of a pot-bellied pig on the sidewalk? You guessed it. And, despite walking slower than the House of Representatives passes a bill as we leave the house, as soon as we round a corner for home, he races full speed, dragging me, the stroller and his siblings behind him.

I see more on our walks these days because I’m the eyes, ears, legs, and shade for my dogs. Not to mention, how much attention we get when everyone is tired and piled in the stroller or wagon. Life is an adjustment and we’re making it.

 

My Sunshine Has Sundown Syndrome

13 Jun

Justin, my 15-year-old dachshund, has Sundown Syndrome. It’s a form of dementia that occurs after dark. Once the sun sets, he frequently gets lost and runs into things… much like a drunk frat boy on a Friday night.

ImageFortunately, I found an herbal remedy for him. No, it’s not marijuana, although we did try that first. Do you know how hard it is to hold a joint in tiny little paws? And the one command you can’t teach even the most obedient of dogs (which he is NOT) is “Inhale!” It doesn’t matter how many cookies you use as bribes.

The concoction we’re using is called Senilife, a combination of Senile and Life. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been in that branding meeting, what with all the high levels of creativity sparking in the room?

The good news is that it really works well. He has a lot fewer episodes of seeming to be out of it. He and I are about on the same level now when it comes to being confused and wondering where we left either our keys or our stuffed hedgehog. You can buy the stuff on-line. It’s a capsule that you squeeze on top of your dog’s evening meal. There is also a cat version (do not tell my doxies, I brought that up!)

In fact, the little pill works so well I caught myself looking at the bottle the other day, wondering, “Are these just for dogs?” But then I noticed the side effects — squirrel hatred, motorcycle leg, excessive drooling… Side note, is there ever a time when drooling is not excessive? But I’m not going to take them. It’s not that I’m scared of the side effects; it’s just that I put a plan in place years ago to make sure no one would ever be able to tell when I cross the line from “normal crazy” to “she needs help crazy.” You show up at Thanksgiving dinner wearing a ski mask and an inner tube a few times when you’re still young and you set the bar pretty low.

Besides, my only kids are dogs and they would never put me in a home.

Doglight Savings Time Never Ends

1 Nov

This weekend, we’re all supposed to turn our clocks back an hour. For humans, it’s a simple task. For humans with dogs, it’s impossible.

My dogs get up at 3:30 a.m. for breakfast. I don’t know how or when it happened, but no matter what I’ve tried (giving them 10 p.m. snacks, taking them for a long walk before bed, showing them the circles under my eyes, etc.) , nothing has dissuaded them from hounding me until I cave in and serve up the vittles. It doesn’t help that between my hot flashes and need to get up to use the bathroom at night, they can feel me stirring. Once I show any sign of life, the jig is up.

So now, 3:30 will be 2:30 a.m. That’s just lovely. I’ve got a plan, but I’m sure it won’t work. Tonight, I won’t feed them dinner until 6 p.m. (an hour later than usual). The only way this will work is if I leave the house at about 4:45 and don’t return until I intend to feed them. Then at 11 p.m., a snack. We won’t go to bed until an hour later than usual. I will take some valerian to help me sleep more deeply and avoid actually moving while doing so. 

At 2:30 a.m. when they inevitable start jumping on the bed and pacing the floor, I will play possum. Or zombie…. whatever it takes. When my bladder kicks in, I will try to ignore it for two hours. When Justin stands on my trachea, I’ll roll over. When Penny starts licking my calves, knowing how ticklish I am, I will giggle quietly into a pillow. When Watson stands at the foot of the bed and howls, I’ll pretend it’s all a dream.

At 2:35, when I’m up feeding them breakfast, I will compose an e-mail to The People in Charge of This Stupid Fooling Around With Time System. Then we’ll all go back to bed and try it again the next night. I’m tired already.

Eat-travel-live

All the things I love to do

rachelmankowitz

The Cricket Pages

Search Blogs

Just another WordPress.com weblog