Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bark less, wag more

This popular bumper sticker is readable by dogs. Even Romeo, who is more sweet than smart, has learned it. We have lived together for over 6 months. We know that smart is highly overrated in both the canine and human world. We would all rather have someone show us they care than have them explain what we're doing wrong or how misguided our thinking may be. Our last dog, Buddy, had a huge vocabulary and was undoubtedly smart. But he would sometimes bite. Little bites, more like nips, but still unwelcome.

On our walks, Romy would get so excited when he saw a person or another dog that he would yank on the leash, lunge at them, and give those big hound barks, bays, and howls. Naturally, the person or dog would back off in a hurry. Romy wondered why he didn't have any friends. I tried and tried to explain it to him. Did you ever try to reason with a dog? It's like trying to teach a pig to dance. Doesn't work and annoys the pig.

Slowly, very slowly, he seems to be figuring it out. If he stands still and wags, they will come to him. The people will pat his head and tell him he is beautiful and sometimes give him a cookie. The dogs will sniff and be sniffed. This morning he even won over the neighbor that doesn't speak, nod or wave. She drives her car into the garage, puts the door down, and has never been seen outdoors. This morning he watched her door go up, watched her walk over and get in the car, and just kept wagging at her. She got back out of the car, walked down the driveway, smiled at him, patted him on the head and told him he is beautiful. It was nice.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lake trip

Spent a peaceful few days at the lake house, doing nothing useful. Our Good Neighbor Bob is always doing useful things. He's a semi-retired contractor, with too much time and heavy equipment on his hands. He has built docks, decks, boat ramps, a playground, fire pit, swings, rafts, and a campground with latrine and shower down by the lake in front of his house. This is about 50 feet straight down from the yard, so he uses our slope to get there. This is fine, because we enjoy the facilities, even the boats and dune buggies if we want.

Sunday I heard his kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews playing and splashing around in front of our house. I walked over to the edge of the yard and there they were, having lots of fun with a big banner that said "Now Open for Breakfast." They took turns throwing buckets of water uphill and sliding down to the lake. One had brought a bottle of dish soap to squirt at the uphill end, making the slide fast and foamy. Bob said he hoped we didn't mind, but there was no room to play over at his place.

Bored kids will find stuff to do. We've been going up there to be bored for about 40 years. We've watched ants form two lines, one toting home groceries, the other going back for more. We've watched spiders work their webs, turtles lay their eggs, dirt daubers build nests, snakes shed their skins, caught tadpoles and lightning bugs, all because we were bored.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Romeo update

Romeo has now owned us for six months, and most of the rough edges are gone. We agree on most of the basics, but have agreed to disagree on others.

Dogs may not sleep on our bed. If we are in it. Unless we leave the bedroom door open. The comforter, folded on a table, is not a bed, therefore fair game.

Romeo went in his crate when we left the house or went to bed. Seemed happy as long as he had a snack jar. (6 or 8 kibbles in a jar with small opening.) Began escape planning by loosening and bending one bar at a time. Convinced us that it was dangerously compromised, made it go away.

Dogs do not eat table food. Food left too close to the edge of the kitchen counter is not table food, therefore fair game. The same goes for doggie bags left in a purse.

Dogs do not bark at friends or neighbors, or their dogs. People walking down the street are not friends or neighbors, or they would come to see us. Fair game.

Romeo must not yank on the leash and try to make Carol bounce along behind him like a rag doll. If he tries this, she squirts him with her mighty Aqua-blaster water pistol. He hates this, and gives her a big frowny face. Today we walked in a gentle rain. No yanking, but a very confused Romeo.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lighten up

I am tired of angry people. Not just mildly ticked off or grumpy, but snarly mean drooling ugly screaming mad. Every day I check my e-mail, expecting the usual prayers and dirty jokes, often from the same people. Not a day goes by that I don't get an angry rant.

People, I know who you are. You haven't missed a meal or a paycheck, but the immigrants are after you. You enjoy the lowest taxes in your lifetime, but Obama's leading us to socialism or Marxism or some other ism. Your panties are in a wad over health care or politicians in general or specific. You need to lighten up.

We liberals didn't get this way over Bush. We knew he kept invading the wrong countries, but he didn't mean to, bless his heart. He got all fwowny when we tried to tell him, so we just let him go on. Now, it's true that the parents of all those dead soldiers got real pissed, but in a polite sort of way, being patriotic and all. We still wish we weren't paying for those wars for the foreseeable future, but we aren't angry.

We still wave our little flags on the 4th of July, tear up at the fireworks when the Tchaikovsky cannons go off, and smile. We may sing a verse or two, except for the "rockets red glare" high parts. Come on, people, this too will pass.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tell me why

Little kids are forever asking “Why?” “Why do I have to go to school? Wear underwear? Eat vegetables? Do what you say?”

We lose too much of that when we grow up. We only use “why” when we’re speaking or thinking in the abstract, as in “Why do fools fall in love,” or “Why was that couple on the news keeping 261 Golden Retrievers in their double-wide?” We know we’re not getting an answer.

It would be much more constructive to ask the question when the answer is available and useful. When I whine “Why did I do that?” I’m asking myself for an answer. It might help for me to figure out so that I can repeat the action if the result is good, or avoid it if bad. If we don’t question ourselves, we are going on autopilot. “Why did I say that?” or “Why did I eat that?” may lead to constructive thinking.

Ever find yourself in the middle of a boring conversation, where someone is trying to tell you more than you want to know about his opinion on global warming? Amuse yourself, while showing rapt attention, by wondering why this person is saying these things. Why does he think you care what he thinks? The “Why” will be more entertaining than the droning monologue. Wonder if he’s trying to educate you, or to show how smart he is, or to let you know he thinks deep thoughts? How about the one that tells you about the very best cat litter, the best vacations they ever took, or the best hair dresser? Why does she think you might care? Why does she get so excited telling you these things? Maybe you’re the first audience she’s had all day. Why does she talk so much without taking a breath?

If you are waiting for a pause so that you can contribute your opinion, think again. In the first place, the wait will be long and boring. In the second place, you may just be trading places from the bored to the boring. Why would you want to do that? Besides, he or she may play the same game, analyzing why you say things. If you don’t have any interests in common worth talking about, why don’t you plan your escape? Why don't you make new friends?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

coulda, woulda, shoulda, oughta

I have two dear friends who are currently on the outs. One offered the other some unsolicited advice (regarding her weight) and the other responded with some of her own (regarding performance of an impossible sex act.) It's easy to understand, because none of us likes to get advice, whether we need it or not.

When someone tells me what I should do or ought to do, my hackles rise. It matters not if the advice is good, bad, or excellent, my resistance is the same. The very thought that someone thinks they know better than I about me. They are not my parent, my teacher, my boss. I even had "obey" deleted from our wedding vows 52 years ago, so CJ knew I was not one to tell what to do. I even view traffic signs as mere suggestions. Right lane MUST turn right. HAH!

Every parent knows the difference in advice, suggestions, and orders. Ever tell a muddy kid that he should take a bath? That he ought to go to bed? Doesn't work, does it? Invites a response like my friend gave the other, but not out loud. Gets a response in the "I could, but," or "I would, but." Could and would are excuses. I could lose 20 pounds, but then I would get wrinkles.

Of course, I may not like getting advice, but I love giving it. No wonder people hate lawyers. We not only give people advice, but we do it for a living. They have to pay to be insulted. Now, you really should get up from that computer, take a brisk walk, wash the dog, start dinner, and call your mother.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Love for a quarter

CJ turns 73 next week. His brother, Judson, just turned 85. Judson found a yellowed note that he sent to his father on the occasion of his little brother's birth, in the depression in Missouri:

Dear Daddy,

Since the baby has come I know we are under circumstantial problems. I am provided with well enough and think I could get out the ashes and coal for nothing.

You put the extra quarter in on anything the boy would kneed.

Your son,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Human School

Romeo here again. Thought I could train these new humans, CJ and Carol, like I did the others. They had already picked up some bad habits before I adopted them, so today I took them to school.

The teacher, Kristen, looks a lot like one of them. Tall, hairless, only uses two legs. But, she uses that to fool them, so she can train them better. She agrees with us that they are nothing but big Pez dispensers, but she wants them to give up more treats when we demand them.

We all got there for class, and she made them line up and sit in little plastic chairs. They were so cute. They took turns introducing us and letting us show our stuff. They paraded around and smiled at us and pretended they were already trained. We knew better. That Kristen is amazing. She had them doing tricks in no time. I even had Kristen walk around in circles backwards, showing the humans how to do it. They have a week to practice.

We worked on teaching the humans to heel, then come, then sit. They can't learn but one of these at a time. For heel, they must not tug on our leash if we tug first. They must sit, then come, then we can get them to heel. We will accept treats only if they get these right. They have these little clickers that keep them happy if they don't earn treats. They are so cute.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Romeo here. Just adopted a couple of humans yesterday. Carol and CJ will probably work out, but they need some training.

We beagles had a big adoption party in the park yesterday, so we could look over the prospects. Some of those humans were cuter, but this pair looked so needy. They were completely dogless. CJ has a red scooter that I will learn to drive.

My new house has many doors. The one I like best goes out front where the other dogs and people and birds are. I can only go out there with my human on her leash. Out back there are neighbor dogs, but no passage under the fence, yet. One door goes to a closet where the other beagle lives. He has to stay behind the mirror thing. I need someone with thumbs to help me with that door.

We will start training tomorrow. They push the good stuff way too far back on the kitchen counter and the dining room table. They shut the pantry door all the way. They put the toilet lid down. But the main thing they need to learn is that a dog belongs in their bed at night. I slept on the sofa last night, but they will learn soon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

No whining

Not exactly a New Year's Resolution, just a goal fot the sake of focus. Besides, I don't want to commit to more measurable goals like weight loss. For a week of non-whining, I can report only getting caught once.

I called the heater repair company because we were cold. The outside box (compressor?) was covered in thick ice and the system was sounding unhappy. The receptionist told me "Sugar, it's 38 degrees outside, and your heater is just doing the best as it can. Go put on a sweater." She sounded like she had had a few too many calls already. And too much coffee. I noted that she hadn't taken my name or phone number, so I was not on the list for a service call. But then I hadn't asked for one either. I had just called to whine.

I put on a sweater and made some coffee, and C. J. came in and complained that he was cold. So I said "Sugar, it's 38 degrees outside, and your heater is just doing the best as it can. Here's a sweater." June came by later to drop off her space heater, which are gone from the stores. She was flying off to Texas, which might be warmer. We will sit by the heater or drag it around by its cord like a dog on a leash and hope she doesn't come home until it warms up a little here.