People Of The Dog Park Part 4

(losdogs.com)

With the exception of terribly inclement weather or illness, I take my dog to the off-leash dog park every night. I do this because I don’t have a yard, and other than walking her five miles a day (which I’m not likely to do because I’m lazy and who has time for that?), it’s really the only way she gets any exercise. Plus, the social interaction is important, since dogs are pack animals. Also, I’m a total sucker. Around 5:30 pm on any given day, my dog starts pacing. She won’t stop pacing until we go to the dog park.

Below are the rules posted on the gate of my dog park. They might as well be in Sumerian for all they’re read and adhered to. Today’s list of dog park people deals with violators of these rules.

(losdogs.com)
(losdogs.com)

Rule #1

DOG DEFECATION IS TO BE IMMEDIATELY REMOVED BY OWNER.

There are many people who break this rule since navigating the dog park is like navigating a mine field where the mines are piles of crap instead of incendiary devices. Sometimes, your dog poops and you don’t notice it. It happens. This is when the people I call the Poop Patrol step in. They will let you know all about your dog’s poop. There always seems to be one member of the Poop Patrol on duty at any given time.

There’s one Poop Patroller at my dog park who speaks with a thick eastern European accent of some sort; possibly German, but I don’t want to presume. It seems she spends most of her time scanning for pooping dogs. Mid-poop, she will let you know you need to clean up after your dog by saying “You dog take a crap.” It sounds a lot like “you dowg tik a crep,” and then she’ll point to where the offending pile is. If you don’t immediately move to clean it up, she’ll repeat “you dowg tik a crep” until you do.

Rule #2

ALL DOGS OVER THE AGE OF FOUR MONTHS SHALL BE FULLY VACCINATED AND LICENSED. DOGS MUST WEAR COLLARS AND TAGS.

This one is probably the single most broken rule on the list. About half of the dogs at the park at any given time don’t have collars on for whatever reason. Out of the ones who are wearing collars, over half of those don’t have ID tags or licenses on them. I reckon less than 10% of all dogs that go to the dog park actually wear collars with license tags. My dog is part of that 10%.

One day, there was a dog loitering outside the gate without a human. Someone let him inside, because it was safer than having him wander the streets. He was wearing a collar and a leash, but there was no tag or license. What is the point of putting a collar on a dog if there’s no identifying information on it?

Almost an hour later, his owners showed up. They were moving from one apartment to another and had tied the dog to the fence, whereupon he Houdini’d his way loose.

If they had put an ID tag on him, we could have called and they would have had their dog back immediately. Instead, they drove around frantically looking for their dog for almost two hours.

Rule #6

ALL DOGS MUST BE SPAYED OR NEUTERED.

I cannot even begin to tell you how many dog balls I’ve seen at the dog park. I’m sure there are a lot of female dogs who haven’t been spayed at the dog park, too, but they’re harder to spot what with the lack of dangly balls.

The reason for rule #6 is that a lot of times, spayed or neutered dogs don’t take kindly to dogs with balls. It riles them all up, and that’s how some dog fights start. Can you really blame them?

Anyway, bringing a dog with balls into the dog park is against the law, but people do it all the time. They don’t fix their dogs for any number of reasons. Often, it’s expense, laziness or ignorance. Sometimes, they intend to breed them, because we totally need more amateur breeders in the world.

A lot of times, they’re waiting for their dogs to get old enough to neuter them. The people in that last category think you shouldn’t neuter a dog until they’re at least a year old or older. I don’t know what the correct procedure for ball-choppage is, since it’s been a very long time since I had a male dog, but I know many male dogs who were neutered before a year old and their heads didn’t explode or anything. The animal shelter spayed my dog when she was a month old, which by all accounts is far too young, and she’s fine, too.

In any event, whatever your opinion on the right age to spay or neuter, please, do. Also, please, don’t bring your intact dog to the dog park, for his or her own safety, if nothing else.

Rule #7

IN THE EVENT OF A DOG BITE OR INJURY, OWNER/GUARDIAN MUST EXCHANGE CURRENT TAG INFORMATION AND PHONE NUMBER.

Pffft. That’s funny.

My dog has a best friend who is almost her doppelgänger. Every time they’re there together, they play and they play hard. If you don’t know the dogs, you’d think they were actually trying to kill each other, but they’ve been playing like that for over two years and they love each other.

One day, my dog and her friend were playing when a stupid little Boston terrier decided he didn’t like their shenanigans and wanted to break it up. My dog is 70 lbs. Her best friend is over 80 lbs. The Boston terrier was small even for a Boston terrier. I’d say he wasn’t even 20 lbs. Derp.

So, this little shit went up to my much larger dog and bit her hind leg. My dog never starts a fight, but she’ll damn well finish one, so she went after the little shit. Look here, sir, I don’t appreciate you biting my leg when I’m playing with my friend. Kindly put your tiny head into my mouth, please.

In the process of trying to separate them, this happened:

One of these days, I'll figure out how to take a proper picture (not likely).
Like how the foreground is blurry while the background is in focus? I don’t even know how to do that on purpose. One of these days, I’ll figure out how to take a proper picture (not likely).

That’s the back of my ankle sporting a rather large bite wound from a little shit of a dog. That fucker bit me! That bite was through a pair of jeans. Thankfully, I was wearing jeans or it would have been a lot worse. He might have ripped my Achilles tendon instead of my pants.

Owner of little shit 1) didn’t even ask if I was alright, even though I was clearly bleeding 2) refused to exchange information with me 3) refused to prove that her dog was licensed and therefore, current on his vaccinations and rabies shot (of course, the dog wasn’t wearing a collar) and 4) ran the fuck away!

Quite literally, she scooped her dog up and ran away like the sissy girl with the sissy dog that she is. One of the dog park regulars ran after her and took a picture of her license plate. Ha!

Fortunately, my sister is a nurse, so she kept a close eye on it until it healed. It did leave a lovely scar. By the way, I was the only one injured in that fight.

Rule #8

ABANDONING ANIMALS IS PROHIBITED.

This is the saddest rule that gets broken. I can think of at least three dogs who were found abandoned at the dog park.

One of the poor creatures had three broken legs. They figure someone dumped him on the street near the dog park–not even in, but near–and he got hit my a car. Fortunately for him, he was found by a really nice lady who fixed him up and kept him. He had to have major surgery and he will always walk with a limp, but he can walk, he’s still alive and he landed in the best possible home.

Two other dogs that I know of were adopted by dog park regulars who found them when inhuman scum dumped them there. I guess people are too afraid or lazy to drop animals at the shelter, so they leave them at the dog park. I suppose they reckon that people who come to the dog park are dog lovers, and therefore, they’re likely to take care of them, which as it turns out, is true, but that doesn’t make it right.

More:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Canine Eugenics

Philip_Reinagle_-_Bulldog

I’m a fan of mutts. I’ve never had a dog with a simple answer to the commonly asked question, “What breed is your dog?” The answer to my current dog is typically a little shepherd/boxer/pit bull, etc. or simply mutt, depending on how sociable I’m feeling. Her origins are unknown. Even my vet said, “I see at least seven different kinds of dog here.”

I’ve never bought a pet from a breeder. I always adopt for many reasons. First, there are so many great animals in shelters who need good homes. For every purebred German shepherd or French bulldog out there, there are a dozen mutts in cages at the local shelter whose time is running out. It breaks my heart that I can’t adopt more of them.

Second, puppy mills. While there are reputable breeders out there who treat their dogs humanely, there are many evil bastards who force their breeding stock to live in cages and never see daylight.

I’ve seen the results of puppy mills first hand. A friend at the dog park adopted a purebred Rhodesian ridgeback who was thrown out on the street when she was too old to breed anymore. She had several serious health problems and was about 40 pounds underweight. They estimate that she was 10-12 years old, and she had spent her whole up to that point in a cage making babies that her owners then sold off at a profit one at a time. She died less than a year after she obtained her freedom. I refuse to contribute to that.

Third, mutts are not inbred like every purebred dog on the planet. Because my dog is made up of many different kinds of dog, she won’t have difficulties due to selective breeding–the process by which humans breed other animals and plants for particular traits. I’m not saying my dog is altogether healthier just because she’s a mutt, but she’s less likely to have specific health issues that come from being purebred.

Purebred is just a nice way of saying inbred.

Selective breeding is a nice way of saying eugenics.

And here comes Godwin's law...
Uh oh. Godwin’s law already…

Eugenics is frowned upon for humans. We associate it with Hitler and Mengele and Dr. Death and lampshades made out of human skin. Part of the reason we disapprove of this practice is because, as the Nazis proved, “desirable heritable characteristics” are a slippery slope of subjectivity. Another part is that it’s inhumane, unnatural, and leads to unforeseen complications. Also, Nazis suck.

The Nazis thought that the most desirable humans were, well, people like me: tall, blonde, Nordic creatures with pale, white skin, and light eyes. But, besides Hitler, who’s to say that I’m any better than someone who’s short and dark? Certainly not me. Because of my genetics, I’m prone to skin cancer, light sensitivity, depression, and migraines.

In fact, simply because I’m of predominantly Finnish ancestry, I may be susceptible to 39 genetic diseases:

The uniformity of Finns, created by several centuries of isolation and intermarriage, results in a large set of hereditary disorders. So far researchers have identified 39 such genetic diseases, many of them fatal, that crop up in the unlucky children of unwary carriers.

Isolating a culture with inbreeding isn’t all that desirable in humans, yet we pay for the privilege of having an inbred dog. We parade the results of our inbreeding around in dog shows and hand out prizes for the best canine eugenics. Why is a practice considered monstrous when done on humans applauded when used on other living things?

pug

Through selective breeding, pugs got smaller, shorter, a more squished face, and acquired all of these potential health issues: eye injuries; breathing difficulties; inability to efficiently regulate their temperature through panting; fluid or debris getting caught under the palate and irritating the throat or limiting breathing; weakened immune system, etc. Actually, there’s too much to list here, just read these paragraphs on pug health issues.

bulldog

Today’s English bulldog is prone to many of the same health issues as the pug as well as many others: difficulty breathing; regulating temperature; hip dysplasia; cysts; infections and mites in their skin folds; and a severely shortened lifespan (one study showed that only 9% of them die of old age). The overwhelming majority of bulldogs are delivered by Caesarean section because their heads are too big to fit through the birth canal. Again, the list of health issues is too long; read this.

Most French bulldogs are unable to breed naturally. They have very slim hips, making the male unable to mount the female. 80% of all French bulldogs are the result of artificial insemination and Caesarean section. They can neither impregnate nor give birth on their own. If humans didn’t intervene, French bulldogs would go extinct.

Siberian huskies are predisposed to a variety of autoimmune disorders, many of which affect the skin, as well as glaucoma and cataracts.

German shepherds are very prone to hip dysplasia, where the leg joint’s ball and socket don’t fit together properly, which causes pain, arthritis, and problems walking.

Boxers have a higher risk of lymphoma and mast cell tumors. Labrador retrievers are prone to obesity, beagles to epilepsy, dachshunds to back problems, Doberman pinschers to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

And the list goes on. Every dog breed recognized by the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club has a higher risk of some sort of medical condition than other breeds. All of them.

That is the result of selective breeding. We did that. We created these problems for these dogs by inbreeding them to death. We made it so the English bulldog can’t exercise without risk of dying. We created French bulldogs that can’t breed naturally. We did that. We created a marketplace where people keep inbred dogs in cages their whole lives just to breed more of them. We hand out prizes and money for the best examples of inbreeding.

At the dog park, I heard a purebred boxer owner tell her dog to stop playing with my “dirty old mutt” and play with another purebred boxer that was there instead. I wanted to scream at her that at least my dirty old mutt’s father probably isn’t also her cousin, grandpa and brother.

I find the practice of canine eugenics disgusting and absolutely monstrous. Don’t even get me started on the mutilations (there’s really no other word for it) of these dogs to have them meet breed standards, e.g., cutting off their ears and tails. Dogs communicate with body language and tails and ears are a huge part of that. How the hell can you justify a breed standard that requires an animal to be mutilated? That’s not “standard.” I refuse to be a party to it. I refuse to buy a dog from a breeder or butcher a dog, not for any medical reason, but purely for looks. I’ll stick with my mutts with ears and tails the way they came.

Even if you’re only interested in a specific breed of dog, there are rescue organizations out there for nearly every breed imaginable. One dog park regular only has Airedale terriers, because he likes big dogs and he’s allergic to dogs with fur instead of the more hair-like fur of the terrier. All of his dogs have come from an Airedale rescue.

Also, breeders often dump dogs they can’t sell at the shelter to make the rest of us deal with it. There are perfectly healthy purebreds sitting in shelters for a fraction of the cost, just because their ears don’t flop the right way, their coat is the wrong hue or a myriad other purely aesthetic (read: salable) reasons.

I’m not saying that purebreds are destined to have health problems. Nor am I saying that I’m right and you’re wrong if you have a purebred. Supplemented by fact as it is, this is still just my opinion. The reason for this post is that I want you to think about all of this the next time you go dog shopping, so that you can make an informed decision.

For whatever reason, if you feel you must buy a dog from a breeder, do the research. Find a reputable breeder and research the breed. Do not, even if inadvertently, support the practice of puppy mills, because the last thing we need is more dogs dumped at shelters.

Alright, maybe I am saying it: please, don’t shop, adopt.

I made this and you can buy your own here.
I made this. You can buy your own here.

The Differences Between Dog & Cat Part 4

catvdog

It’s time for another installment of Dog Vs. Cat!

Time to go to the vet, dog…

dogvet
Cat somehow knows three days in advance when I’m going to take him to the vet and responds accordingly.

catvet

When dog throws up, she acts like she was bad.

dogvomit
When cat throws up, he’s all proud of his accomplishment.

catvomit

Dog will eat anything.

dogfood

Cat won’t eat food if it’s been sitting out too long, dropped on the floor or any other suspicious quality.

catfood

How dog sees the vacuum cleaner…
dogvacuum

How cat sees the vacuum cleaner…

catvacuum
How dog sees a bug in the house…

doginsect

How cat sees a bug in the house…

catinsect

My Funny Valentine

IMAG0191

Today is one day (among many) when I hate being an American (or Japanese or Canadian or any of the other countries that have picked up this ridiculous tradition). Today, is Valentine’s Day in America.

Why do I hate Valentine’s Day? Well, for one, I’ve always had terrible Valentine’s Days. Much like my birthday–I’m a standing member of the Bad Birthday Club–Valentine’s Day is a day when bad things tend to happen. I’ve been dumped, kicked, beaten, sexually abused and stood up for a romantic date on V-Day. I even have a copy of a police report with that date written on it.

Two of my previous paramours decided that Valentine’s Day was a perfectly reasonable date to end our relationships. I can’t say that I exactly blame them since I haven’t always been a very good girlfriend. In fact, I’m really bad at it. Still, the timing could have been better. And that’s not including the times I was dumped slightly before or slightly after February 14th.

Second, I hate Valentine’s Day because it’s a ridiculous holiday. Really, think about it. Why must we buy crap for our significant other to prove our love? Does a $2 box of chocolates really prove one’s devotion? Actions speak louder than chocolates and flowers.

Third, I really am not fond the gender bias of the stupid holiday. Just last night at the dog park, someone asked me what Male and I do for V-Day. When I said “nothing,” he said, “Oh, come on. All women secretly want their significant others to fawn all over them even when they say they don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.” Not only is the sentiment untrue, but the “all” part of it pissed me right off. Do not lump me in with an “all” because it will not end well for you.

Finally, I don’t like the holiday, because it’s mean to all the single people out there. It’s rubbing their noses in togetherness. I’ve been single a lot on V-Day and it’s not much fun seeing all those reminders of what you don’t have. It makes single people feel like failures. Nobody loves us. Boo hoo. Plus, I really only like holidays when I get days off of work.

For the past few years though, I haven’t entirely hated Valentine’s Day because it is the birthday of my best friend, my closest confidant and constant companion. The one who cheers me up when I’m down and makes me laugh. She has made the day a lot more bearable, because now I have something to celebrate. I truly know unconditional love.

So, happy 4th birthday to my bestest buddy. Here’s to many more years together. It’s been a great four years. From this…

Our first play date.
Our first play date.

To this…

IMAG0191

To this…

IMG_0416

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Here’s to no police reports.

The Pros & Cons Of Cat Ownership

graycat-iphone

A while ago, I wrote a post on The Pros & Cons Of Dog Ownership. Well, I left felines off the list, so today, we’re going to talk about the best and worst parts of having a cat.

Let’s start with the bad parts first.

Cons

1. Poop

Just like the pros and cons of dogs, poop is number one on the cat list. Cats poop, it’s really stinky, and unlike dogs, they do it in your house. If you are uncomfortable with poop anywhere in your house but the toilet, don’t get a pet.

You don’t have to house train cats; they instinctively want to poop in a litter box, which is nice. Unfortunately, this also means you have to clean a litter box. It’s one of my least favorite chores since cat pee smells like ammonia. I’d almost rather clean up my dog’s poop over cleaning out the litter box. Actually, I’d rather not clean up poop at all, thanks.

2. Claws

Cats have them and they are so very painfully sharp. If you do something that a cat doesn’t appreciate, it will have no qualms about scratching you unmercifully.

Even though your cat might scratch you or the things in your house, please, do not de-claw a cat. It is painful for them (like removing your toenails) and takes away their natural defenses, particularly if your cat ever goes outside.

Even though they will never stop scratching (not even if you de-claw them), there are plenty of things you can do to encourage a cat to scratch where you want them to, i.e. a scratching post. Most cats naturally take to a scratching post pretty easily.

Also, clipping their claws is really simple. If you get a cat, start doing this pretty much immediately and they’ll get used to it. I’ve been clipping my cat’s razor talons since he was a kitten and he’s cool with it (for a cat) as long as he gets his treat afterwards.

3. They’re pretty willful

Unlike a dog, a cat will not listen to commands. You can call them to come all day and they’ll just look at you like, “What’s your problem? Can’t you see I’m in the middle of my mid-morning partial sun nap? After this, I have my post-mid-morning shade nap to attend to. I’m very busy. Go away.”

Somehow, they instinctively know when you intend to take them to the vet and they’ll find the best hiding spot ever when it’s time to go.

4. Predator instincts

Even living in your lap of luxury, a cat never forgets its wild ways. Their prey drive never entirely goes away. No matter how long they’ve lived in a nice, safe environment, if they see a mouse, they’ll hunt it. If you have an indoor-outdoor cat, you can probably expect to find half a mouse on your doorstep at least once. It’s a present.

5. Shedding

Cats shed. Some shed more than others, particularly long-haired cats like mine, but they all do it (with the exception of the completely hairless varieties). Cat fur is very soft and it has a way of weaving itself through any material. And since they live most of their lives in your home, most of the fur will end up there. I recommend a good brush and a pet vacuum attachment.

6. Vomit

For whatever reason, it seems that cats throw up more than most animals. It’s not necessarily a sign of illness; it’s just part of being a cat. Sometimes, it’s food. Sometimes, it’s a hairball from swallowing all that hair when they groom themselves.

In addition to cleaning poop from a box, you can expect to clean up the occasional vomit pile that’s almost always right in the middle of your good rug. Fingers crossed that you don’t notice it by stepping on it.

Pros

1. Cats are low maintenance

Make sure their littler box is clean, and they have plenty of food and fresh water, and you can easily stay away from home for a night or two without them being too bothered by it. If you go away for longer than that, you’ll want someone to check in on them, since they have a tendency to not drink water that has food in it (that they dropped there) or not eat food from the floor (that they knocked over).

Cats are fans of routines and they hate change. Most would rather stay at home than go gallivanting about with you anyway.

catcar
From The Differences Between Dog & Cat Part 3

Cats are fastidious animals. Like a good oven, they clean themselves. This is excellent, since you really do not want to have to give a cat a bath. Trust me on that (see 2. Claws under Cons).

catbath
From The Differences Between Dog & Cat Part 2

2. You probably won’t have a pest problem for long

I’ve never worried about creepy crawlers with a cat around. They’re excellent hunters and will take care of most rodent or insect problems without having to call an exterminator.

I moved to an apartment that had a mouse problem for about a week before my cat took care of it. I guess the remaining mice decided to move somewhere less cat-infested.

Even my current lazy feline–who really only moves to eat or because vacuum cleaners are terrifying–hunted an errant locust that found its way into my house. Have you seen those things? They’re huge and icky. Thanks, cat.

3. They do very well in apartments

Most cats don’t even need to be outdoor cats. They’re typically happy indoors, especially if they have a good window to survey the surrounding kingdom (which, of course, is theirs, too).

My cat hates being outside. He’s an indoor only cat and he’s quite happy that way. He’s nearly ten years old, and besides the four days he went missing when he thought that outside might be fun, he has no interest in being out there. It’s better for both of us that way.

4. They can be very affectionate

When a cat doesn’t like someone, it’s pretty obvious. The flip side is that, when a cat likes you, it also shows. They have bad poker faces. Cats don’t like you just because you feed them like a dog. You have to earn their trust and affection.

When a cat lies belly up, it means they’re very comfortable with you. Just beware the claw trap:

catbelly
From The Differences Between Dog & Cat Part 2

5. They’re highly entertaining

All cats do this thing once in a while that I call “crazy kitty” where they just run around the house like they’re on fire. Why? I have no idea. They are incredibly strange creatures and sometimes, I look at mine and wonder how this weirdo wormed his way into my house.

Almost every single day though, he does something that makes me laugh. Like falling off of things, running face first into doors or sitting in this position for a few minutes–long enough for me to go get a camera and take a picture:

IMG_0413

Laughter is worth all the vomit.

6. They purr

Purring is the cat’s neatest trick. It’s a sign of contentment, and dare I say, affection. My cat is an instant purrer. I pet him and he starts purring immediately. He loooooves me. Nothing is better for your mental health after a crappy day than cat purrs. When you’re sick, they always know and they’ll curl up with you.

Cats are also excellent snugglers. Unlike my dog who growls at me if I try to snuggle, I wake up with my cat snuggled up next to me every morning. It’s a very nice way to wake up.

catspoon
From The Differences Between Dog & Cat Part 3

If you do decide to get a cat, please, adopt one from your local shelter, and don’t forget to spay or neuter!

5 Favorite Things

(itsnicethat.com)

I was talking to a coworker about cars and I mentioned my favorite car that I’ve ever owned. His jaw dropped and rightly so. This conversation got me thinking about other favorite things, so I thought I’d do a list of them (or for those countries inordinately fond of sticking extra Us in things that don’t need them: favourite).

Favorite Car

The best car I ever owned was a 1970 Buick Skylark GS 455. When I bought her, she was already thirty some years old and not in the best aesthetic condition, but mechanically sound. All I had to do was replace some belts, and give her a tune up and oil change. She ran like a brand new car.

I named her Tank, because that’s just what she was. Tank is now featured in my fictional series The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton.

I don’t have any pictures of her here, but she looked very similar to this one, but my hood and wheels were different:

(cardomain.com)
(cardomain.com)

And this was the drawing I did of her rear end:

BUICK

I loved the hell out of that car. Even in her primer gray, imperfect state, she was a beauty. She had a massive engine with that low rumbly sound that classic American muscle cars of her era have that set off car alarms.

People always tried to race me at red lights. I’d look over and laugh. Not even trying, Tank was faster off the line than any car I encountered. Off the line, she beat everyone. I didn’t race any farther than that, because red light racing is for people with something to prove and neither Tank nor I had anything to prove.

It pissed off all those dudes in Porsches and Mercedes that tried to race me. They’d catch me up and go roaring past after about five to ten seconds. Whatever, jackhat. I wasn’t even trying to race you, because it wouldn’t be fair to compare the biggest (455 cu. in.) and most powerful (510 pounds per foot of torque at a mere 2800 rpm) big block V8 engine produced during the classic muscle car era to whatever puny thing you’re hiding in your widdle European sports car. Puh-lease. Just the sound of my engine could vibrate your car to pieces.

Yes, mine’s bigger than yours… and I’m a girl. Deal.

For those of you who have no idea what a pound foot of torque means, here are the stats for my current car, a BMW 3 series: 153 cubic inch V6 engine with 175 lb/ft. at 3500 rpm.

And for shits and giggles, the Ferrari 458: 270 cu. in. V8 engine, 398 lb/ft. at 6,000 rpm. My GS engine was 40% bigger with 112 more lb/ft of torque available at less than half of the revolutions per minute than a Ferrari.

The GS is bigger and heavier than a Ferrari or BMW, yes, but also more way powerful. Give me classic American muscle over a tiny European sports car any day. I suppose you could call my current car a widdle European sports car, but I think of it more as a mid-sized European sedan that has enough power to get out of its own way.

Eventually, I sold Tank because she deserved an owner who had more money to sink into her than I could, which was no money. Basically, I sold her because I wanted to give her a better home. Every once in a while, I get an email from the guy I sold her to showing me what improvements he’s done. Fortunately, he loves her as much as I did. He even kept the name Tank.

Favorite House

This honor goes to the house I grew up in. I lived there for the first fifteen years of my life. Even though one of those years involved sexual abuse at the hands of a sadistic pedophile, it wasn’t the house’s fault.

Originally, it was a three bedroom, one and a half bathroom house. When my grandfather died, my parents built a two-story addition on the back with two more bedrooms, another full bath, a full living room and a kitchen.

My parents optimistically thought that my grandmother would live a separate life in her own separate living quarters. It didn’t quite turn out that way. The doors between the two residences were never closed and it just became one massive house with two kitchens, two living rooms, five bedrooms, and two and a half baths.

You could start in one room and go around in a huge circle up and down stairs to make it right back where you started. For a kid, tearing around all that space with all those stairs was absolute heaven. I was very sad when we finally moved.

Favorite Pet

I’ve been very lucky to have some awesome pets in my life, but the best pet I ever had was my first cat. He was the most chill, laid back cat I’ve ever met. I named him Tigger, because at five years old, I was brilliantly creative and obviously not at all a fan of Winnie The Pooh:

Being Tigger is what do what Tiggers do best.
Being Tigger is what do what Tiggers do best. (Winnie The Pooh, A. A. Milne)

He used to let my sister and me do anything to him. We have pictures of him lying on his back in a baby stroller dressed up in baby clothes complete with a bonnet. What other cat would let you do that? My current cat would maybe tolerate that for all of ten seconds. Good luck having a cat stay like that long enough to take a picture.

Not Tig though. Tig would let us do anything to him. Fortunately, other than dressing him up, my sister and I weren’t maniacal animal torturers, still he was the most patient cat ever. He lived about twenty years. I cried like mad when he died. I still miss that cat.

He ruined me on the concept of cats by making me think they are all as cool as he was.

 Favorite Book

I don’t necessarily mean best book or my favorite book as in what’s in it, but favorite book as in a physical object that I move from place to place with me.

On or in my bedside table, you will find a dog eared, worn copy of this book:

(itsnicethat.com)
This one’s in much better condition than mine. (itsnicethat.com)

It lives there. I don’t read it all the time, but every once in a while, when I don’t feel like reading whatever book I’m reading, I’ll pick it up and flip around in it, reading it for the nth time.

It’s my favorite book, not just because I love the words, but also because it’s symbolic. You see, I’ve never been a big fan of poetry, and at one point, I was a book snob, meaning I wouldn’t read anything unless it was about 100 years old or older. I figured that anything that had stuck around that long had to be worth reading.

A boyfriend gave my some Bukowski prose. I fell in love with Bukowski’s style and got all of his other prose, but I still had no interest in the poetry books.

A friend of mine, knowing I’m a Buk fan, gave this book (not this book, but the copy I had before the one I currently have) to me as a housewarming present over ten years ago. I was smitten. Since then, I’ve tracked down a lot of other Buk poetry.

I keep The Last Night of The Earth Poems close to me as a reminder that sometimes your favorite things come in unexpected packages. Also, don’t judge a book by its cover. Also, I happen to love the hell out of this book. It’s my favorite of his poetry.

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Show Biz, Last Night Of The Earth Poems, Charles Bukowski.

 

Favorite Place

I’ve written about this in the post Seeing Stars, so I’m just going to quote myself:

Where my parents live, in rural, northern Michigan, it seems as though you can even see into neighboring galaxies. There are so many stars, and they all shine so brightly, that it’s hard to tell one constellation from another. The night sky actually looks three-dimensional; you can almost tell which are closer and which are father away. The stars are so visible that you don’t even have to crane your head upward as they peek right over the horizon. It makes you feel as if you’ve been thrown back in time to an era before science.

I used to spend every summer there at that cottage on the lake. To this day, my favorite place to be in the whole world is lying horizontally on the end of the dock, outstretched over the clear, freshwater lake. If the water level is high enough, you can lie on your back and lazily drag your hand through the tranquil night water as it gently laps beneath you. As you breathe deeply of the clean, summer night air that smacks of pine and cedar, the only sounds you will hear are the distant chirping of crickets and twittering of birds. Overhead, there is a circus of stars, all performing at their twinkling best for your benefit. There is nothing that will make you realize the vastness of the universe and your own irrelevance to it all better than that.


What are your favorites?

People Suck: A Visit To The Animal Shelter

(deliquesce-flux.deviantart.com)

On Thanksgiving, I posted this on Twitter:

Screen shot 2014-12-08 at 8.12.31 AM

Unfortunately, all your finger crossing didn’t help, since a few days later, my sister’s cat died. My family doesn’t have especially good luck with animals and Thanksgiving since this is now the third pet to have gotten fatally ill on or near Thanksgiving.

A long time ago, I had two cats that became mine when my roommate moved out and just left them there. Way to be responsible, roommate.

Anyway, I ended up with two cats. A few years later, on Thanksgiving eve, one of them got very ill. I had just moved to Boston less than a week before and I hadn’t had time to find a vet. Try finding a vet that’s open the night before Thanksgiving in the wee hours in a new town where you know no one. I found one that would be open on Thanksgiving and was going to take him in the morning, but the next morning, he was already gone. He died in his sleep.

So, when my sister told me that her cat was sick on Thanksgiving and she thought she needed to take him to the vet, it didn’t bode well, although I didn’t say as much, because you never know. Two days later, he came home from the animal hospital and died in his sleep.

My family has always had animals and we always will. My mom is firmly in the dog camp. Dad and I lean more towards dogs, but we don’t mind a good feline. My sister is a cat person with dog tendencies. While I can see her owning a dog, she will always have cats.

Because we’ve always had animals, we’ve seen a lot of them come and go. We are very aware of the difference in life spans and we know that we’ll end up a sobbing mess in the end, but the benefits of owning pets far outweigh the agony of losing them. It’s worth it, even though the end is always so difficult.

Our way of mourning the loss of an animal is to go out and get another animal. Some people see this as gauche, but I don’t. We’re not replacing the animal that died; we’re filling the vacant post in the family that they left. There is no right way nor wrong way to mourn, and that has always been our way.

So, when my sister’s cat died, after a few days, she wanted a new cat. She asked if I would go to the shelter with her to pick out another one.

Another of my family’s ways is that we always adopt animals from shelters. We’ve had purebreds before, but they’re always rescues that no one else wanted. Why buy one from a breeder when there are so many amazing animals in need of homes? Buying from a breeder has never made any sense to me. Besides, I’m inordinately fond of mutts.

I didn’t get my dog directly from the animal shelter, because I wasn’t looking for a dog. I got her from an animal rescue who got her from the shelter. I went into the pet store to buy cat food, and came out with a dog and several hundred dollars of doggy accoutrements. Had I been intentionally looking to get a dog, I would have gone to the shelter.

My cat came from the shelter some ten odd years ago, and that’s the last time I was at the animal shelter. I had forgotten how hard it is to go there and was wholly unprepared for my visit on Saturday.

We went into the cat room and there were at least 30 cats in there all in tiny cages like a Japanese pod hotel for cats:

(montaraventures.com)
A pod or coffin hotel. (montaraventures.com)

It was awful seeing all those kitties in cages. There was a family with two little girls in the cat room with us. My sister had her eye on one of the tiger tabbies they were looking at. The family decided to get one of the females instead, so my sister got the cat she wanted, an eight month old brownish tabby.

He had been there over a month, because when he was brought in, he was running a high fever and vomiting. He very nearly died. They suspect that he had been poisoned. POISONED. Seriously, what kind of monster poisons a kitten?

He’s perfectly healthy now, but he spent a month of his short life in a cage. Poor thing. When my sister brought him home, he went full on crazy kitty for nearly twelve hours. He was probably trying to take advantage of having more than two feet of space while he could. He didn’t realize yet that he didn’t have to go back into the little cage again.

During the interminable period for all the paperwork to be filled out, an older woman came in who was turning in her dog. She was telling anyone who would listen, as a way to assuage her guilt I suppose, that she had no choice but to get rid of him, because she was afraid that he’d jump on her and knock her over.

There’s always a choice. There are plenty of things you can do to keep a dog from jumping; training is number one through one hundred.

When you decide to take an animal on, that responsibility is for life. Not just when they’re cute little babies. Not just when they’re young and healthy. Not just if they’re well-behaved. It is your responsibility to train your pet. It is your responsibility to keep that animal safe and fed and happy.

If your first instinct when something goes wrong with your animal is to turn it in to a shelter and make it someone else’s problem, do not get a pet. You are not worthy of having one. Your pet is your responsibility. Period.

Instead of saying all of that to the woman and flipping her off (I really did have my middle finger’s ready–she made me very angry), against my better judgment, I decided to leave and visit the dogs.

There were so many of them! My heart hurt that I could do nothing for any of them. I already have a dog. I don’t have a yard. I rent an apartment and I’d have to pay another $1000 pet deposit for another dog. I can’t get another dog now. I knew that when I went to visit the dogs, but there’s something about seeing row after row of abandoned, neglected, malnourished, mistreated dogs that makes you want to do something, provided you’re not an inhuman monster.

I went to every single cage there and greeted every dog. All I could do was provide a moment of human-canine interaction. All I could do was show them that not all humans are monsters by giving each and every one of them a small gesture of kindness. Nothing gives you a sense of how awful human beings are better than visiting an animal shelter. We are a disgusting species.

Yet, there are good people out there. like me and my sister. Before I left the dog area, I wished that each one of those dogs, and the thirty some odd kitties in cages, could find good homes with people who would love them for life, not just when the going is good.

Visiting the shelter hurt my heart. I wished I could do more, but my sister and I each made a donation, and we did save one life on Saturday. There is one less animal in the shelter. There is one more space that is now open for another animal to be rescued. It’s all we could do. When I got home, I gave my dog and cat huge hugs.

Please consider adopting from your local animal rescue. There are so many animals that need homes.

Dog People Vs. Cat People Survey Results

(scratchpad.wikia.com)

A few days ago, I conducted a very scientific poll of my readers to see how many of you are cat people and how many are dog people. First, I’d like to thank the 23 people who actually took the time to play along with my shenanigans. That said, these are your results.

1 – Do you prefer cats or dogs?

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.41.31 AM

Way more of you consider yourselves dog people than cat people. Based on the research, people who prefer both are much more like people who only own dogs, while people who don’t like cats or dogs are more like cat people. So, I’ve lumped the answers together as follows: 17 of you are dogs, while only 6 are cats.

2 – You currently have

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.43.19 AM

While more of you consider yourselves dogs, the actual pet ownership is split almost right down the middle with 12 of you as cat people and 11 as dog people. Again, based on the data, people who own both are more like dog people and people without pets are more like cat people.

3 – There are          other people in your household.

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.45.28 AM
Only two of you are true cat people who live alone with your cats.

4 – Introvert vs. extrovert

   Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.47.20 AM

We’re a very introverted bunch of cat people.

5 – Traditional vs. unconventional

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.47.30 AM

Only four of you are traditional dog people.

6 – Crying during movies

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.47.38 AM

The way this broke pretty evenly surprised me a bit. You’re mostly more sensitive cat people than not.

7 – Live and let live vs. cold revengeScreen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.47.47 AM

You’re a very forgiving bunch of cat people, too, since the vast majority of you were willing to live and let live.

8 – How do you use social media?

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.51.37 AM

The majority of you are reserved cat people.

9 – Dirty dishes go where?

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.51.46 AM

I’m impressed that even two of you cat people answered honestly.

10 – A cop pulls you over

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.51.54 AM

You’re a mainly law abiding group of dog people.

11 – At a party

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.52.02 AM

I’ll be in the corner with you, cat people.

12 –  Your neighbors are circus performers

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.56.29 AM

You’re an open-minded bunch of cats.

13 – Vacation planning

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.56.36 AM

Really? More of you are doggy planners than feline wingers?

14 – Can I pet you?

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 10.56.43 AM

I’m going to put the one person who skipped this question down as a cat person.


Overall, the results broke down as follows:

  1. 74% dog
  2. 82% cat
  3. 91% dog
  4. 87% cat
  5. 82% cat
  6. 52% cat
  7. 87% cat
  8. 78% cat
  9. 91% dog
  10. 78% dog
  11. 52% cat
  12. 61% cat
  13. 57% dog
  14. 64% cat

It looks like the cats have it since 9 of 14 questions went their way, though a few of them were very close and could have gone to the dogs placing y’all squarely in the half dog, half cat category like me.

So, what have we learned from these shenanigans? Well, we’ve learned that polls, especially polls with such a small sampling, are really bunk, and that generalizing people and pets rarely leads to reliable results. However, I think we can safely say that most of us are a mixture of both and that the traits of our pets aren’t necessarily our own.

(scratchpad.wikia.com)
(scratchpad.wikia.com)

Dog People Vs. Cat People

(scratchpad.wikia.com)

I always thought of myself as an animal person, not a dog person or a cat person. I’ve owned dogs, cats, many reptiles, fish, and even rats, because I can’t imagine not having some sort of pet. Coming home to an empty house doesn’t appeal to me at all.

Growing up, my family always had cats and dogs. As an adult, there have been periods when I didn’t have dogs, but I had cats, because they are just easier to own and don’t require as much attention. Since I got my dog though, it’s become increasingly apparent that I’m actually a dog person. While I love cats and even currently have one hogging my bed, I like dogs better than cats.

Most people tend to associate the traits of dogs or cats to the people who prefer them. Dogs are friendly pack animals, loyal, easy-going, eager to please, and almost needy. Cats are independent, fastidious, solitary hunters that hate change and are not what one would consider friendly to strangers. Of course, there are exceptions in both species.

If you use this criteria, I am definitely much more cat-like than dog-like, but I don’t think it’s really quite that simple. In my experience, things involving human beings are rarely ever that cut and dry.

I currently have both a cat and a dog and my personality shares traits of both. While I am pretty easy-going and loyal like a dog, I am also independent, not very friendly and don’t like change a whole lot like a cat.

This got me thinking about whether dog owners actually are more like dogs, and cat owners are more like their feline companions. So, I’m going to conduct my own very scientific poll.

Please, answer the following questions in the name of SCIENCE! After the poll, you’ll find a link where I explain what the answers you gave mean. I’m not sure if the survey shows you the results or not. If it doesn’t, I’ll post them in a day or so.

Click HERE to see what your answers mean!

Conversations With Pets

catvdog

I read a post at Content Unrelated where he wondered what it would be like if dogs could actually talk. The results were hilarious. Go read it now. I’ll wait.

Since I’m nothing if not an appreciator of humor and thief, I thought I’d try my hand at it and give you conversations with my own dog and cat.

In the morning:

Dog: Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.

Me: Merghablarhg.

Dog: Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. It’s time for up. Up means outside and breakfast. I’m just going to lick you with my giant cow tongue until you wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.

Me: Fuck off!

Dog: Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. What if I sit on you?

Me: OWW! I’m up.

Cat: Would you stop fidgeting? I’m trying to sleep here.

In the bathroom:

Cat: Captive audience. Pay attention to me. Now.

Dog: I’m just going to sit here and awkwardly stare at you without blinking until you’re done doing whatever it is you are doing. OK?

Cat: Rub my belly or I’ll jump on your lap and dig my claws in. It will hurt.

Me: Go away.

Feeding time:

Cat: FEED ME.

Dog: Ooh, good thinking, cat. Some food would be nice.

Cat: Mmm dog food nom nom nom.

Me: Cat, don’t eat the dog’s food. Eat your own.

Cat: Food is food and this is closer.

Dog: Are you going to let the cat eat all my food?

Me: Why don’t you stop him yourself? You’re three times his size.

Dog: I can’t. You stop him!

Me: Cat, don’t eat the dog’s food. Eat your own food.

[pick cat up from dog bowl and place him at his own]

Cat: Mmm cat food nom nom nom.

cateatfood

Cat Toys:

Cat: What is that thing?

Me: It’s a cat toy.

Cat: What do you want me to do with it?

Me: Play with it.

Cat: Why would I play with that?

Me: Because it’s a cat toy specifically made for cats to play with!

Cat: I prefer this toy.

Me: That’s not a toy. It’s a power cord.

Cat: Whatever. It’s delicious.

Me: I got a cat toy to keep you from chewing on the power cord. Do not eat the power cord.

Dog: Can I have the cat toy?

Me: No.

Dog: Why not?

Me: Because you’ll chew it into a million little pieces in 30 seconds.

Dog: Yeah! Let’s do that!

Me: No.

Cat: I don’t want it. Give it to the dog.

Dog: Yeah! Let’s do that!

Me: No.

Dog Toys:

Dog: PLAY WITH ME.

Me: I’m busy right now.

Dog: PLAY WITH ME. PLAY WITH ME. PLAY WITH ME.

Me: Maybe later.

Dog: PLAY. I’m going to shove this toy in your lap until you play with me, alright?

Me: This isn’t a tuggy toy, dog. This is a ball.

Dog: What’s a tuggy toy?

Me: It’s a toy where you hold one end, I hold the other and we pull.

Dog: Ooh, I love that toy! This is that toy!

Me: No, you have a ball. There’s nowhere to grab onto a ball.

Dog: Sure there is. See?

Me: I mean, there’s nowhere for me to grab onto the ball, because you have the whole thing in your mouth.

Dog: TUGGY TOY.

Me: I can’t play tuggy with this! It’s a ball.

Dog: TUGGY.

Me: You always win.

Fetch version 1:

Dog: Throw The ball. Throw it. Throw the ball.

2014-02-14 18.27.26

Me: OK.

[dog watches it bounce away without moving]

Dog: Why did you throw it over there?! I wanted that.

Fetch version 2:

Dog: Throw The ball. Throw it. Throw the ball.

Me: OK.

[dog goes after it but doesn’t bring it back]

Me: Why didn’t you bring it back?

Dog: Why would I do that?

Fetch version 3:

Dog: Throw The ball. Throw it. Throw the ball.

Me: OK.

[dog goes after it, brings it back halfway, then drops it]

Dog: That was fun! Come here and throw it again!

Me: No, you bring it back to me and I’ll throw it.

Dog: Come here and throw it again!

Me: You really suck at fetch.

Dog: What’s fetch?

Outside:

Dog: Outside?

Me: No, we just went outside a half an hour ago. Wait until bedtime.

Dog: Outside?

Me: No.

Cat: What is outside?

Me: Remember that time you went missing for four days and I found you all smelly and matted inside the next door neighbor’s shed? That’s outside.

Cat: Oh yes, that’s where all the scary things happen. Outside is terrible. Why would anyone want to go outside?

Dog: Outside is awesome!! There are squirrels and other dogs and people!

Cat: Inside is so much better. It’s warm and there’s food and no one beats you up.

Dog: Outside!

Me: Neither of you are going outside right now.

Cat: Phew.

Dog: Outside?

Time:

Dog: What time is it?

Me: 8:37.

Dog: Hahaha! Gotcha! I don’t even know what that means!

Me: That’s not very funny.

Dog: Hahahaha!

Cat: What is time?

Dog: Time is how we know when we get fed, when to go out and when to go to bed.

Cat: But, I eat when I want, sleep when I want and don’t go outside.

Dog: How do you know when to do that?

Cat: I just do it when I feel like it.

Dog: That doesn’t make any sense. Silly cat.

Me: It’s time for you both to be quiet.