Pets

Maggie dog at craft store
I probably don’t know you at all. But I know you well enough to tell you this: you don’t want a dog.  The desire to get a dog is kind of weird; like a biological clock in a way. One day you wake up and think, “I kind of want a dog.”  And then you start looking around and very shortly your mind thinks of nothing else but how badly you want a dog. No, not want; how you simply must have a dog immediately.

It doesn’t make sense. It’s not like the urge to have a baby. Actually it pretty much is. For most women a dog is the thing you get when the maternal urges are just waking up but the thought of taking care of an actual human are beyond frightening.We had a dog-baby the year before I got pregnant. I had zero experience with dogs and we got a chocolate lab. We named her Emma and she was the biggest spaz ever. We were such horrible pet owners because Mister and I were lazy, irresponsible twenty-somethings. When India was about six months old we gave Emma to some friends who lived on a farm. Hopefully she lived happily every after. Although I really don’t care because she drove me crazy and good riddance.

Sometimes a woman wants a dog when her kids are getting older and she realizes her baby days are history. But stupid women! Instead of rejoicing as we toss out the diapers, we feel like our lives must have more poop and mayhem. I know all about women like this because I am currently one of these. When Jasper turned six months old I realized that my newborn baby days were over. I didn’t intelligently think, “I have six children under age ten. It’s good that the newborn stage is over. I’ll still have my hands full.” Nope, pretty much the day that Jasper started sleeping through the night I began a frantic search for a dog.

And ended up with Margaret.

She is the sweetest dog ever but, you know, dogs bark.  And their poop is all over your backyard (or someone else’s yard). A lot of times they leave hair all over the place. And scratch marks. And they chew stuff up and cost a lot of money. (That heartworm medicine ain’t free, you know!)  Fortunately our dog isn’t a chewer or a digger but a lot of them are. Emma was. Emma ate everything she could get her mouth on (stupid Labs! Stupider us for owning one!). If you have a tall dog there’s a good chance your dog will eat something off of the kitchen counters. This isn’t just something that happens in those dumb Disney movies with the Golden Retriever puppies.

Also, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Dogs eat their own vomit (which is a good thing really. I wish my kids ate their own vomit. Especially at three in the morning.) Dogs eat garbage.  Any garbage. Our dog eats any tissue or used bit of toilet paper she can get her grubby paws on. But it gets worse than that. Much worse. Like maxi-pad-worse. And poopy-diaper-worse. I don’t want you to faint so I’ll stop talking about this. But you really should know this stuff. Dogs are disgusting.

This is the worst part of having a dog: finding someone to take care of it when you’re on vacation. It’s either super expensive or a total pain (like when I took care of my friends dog and it ran away without us knowing and someone found the dog and called the number on it’s tag. So our friends who were vacationing in Florida had to call and tell us that the neighbor found their dog. Slightly embarrassing.) A lot of times it’s a pain and it’s expensive.

You also have to teach a dog to have good manners. We kind of forgot this. Which is funny because I’m super into children having good manners. But dogs? Meh, whatever. At some point, though, your dog will interact with society and it could very well be a debacle.

Yesterday I picked Maggie up from the groomers. Which is right by Hobby Lobby. Which I had to get something from. And it was 78°. Too hot to leave the dog in the car (just because I don’t like my dog doesn’t mean I’m heartless!), so Maggie came shopping with me. It went surprisingly well considering she is a weirdo. Except for the time she barked at some feathers. (Hobby Lobby can be very echo-ey. And having your smuggled-in dog bark inside of a store is mortifying.) Nobody blinked an eye. Even the cashier said nothing.

But I am not planning on taking my dog to the store again. Because my days of shopping with an unruly hanger-on are over. Unlike children, though, you can leave your dog at home in a cage. So I guess dogs aren’t all bad.

But I guess my conclusion is this: if you want a baby, have one. A dog is not the same. (No matter how many vets and groomers hand me my dog and say, “there’s your mom, Margaret!” and I have to point out that I bought her; she is a pet.)  Or don’t have a baby. Whatever. But don’t get a dog. Because, man, they are a pain.

Good Gravy, the last few days have been crazy. When did summer get so busy? (Answer: this week.) I thought it might be easier to explain things as story problems, although I always hated them when I was in math class. Instead of figuring out the dumb problems, I always got all existential instead. Why did Jose and Sally get ten cookies and Mark only get three? Who was the dunce handing out cookies and why didn’t he do it right to begin with? And why do I care what time two trains arrive, travelling at different speeds? They get there when they get there. Sheesh.

Let’s see if I can come up with some story problems that are a little more relevant.

1. If Jennie and Mr. Jennie are celebrating their 19th anniversary, what presents do they get for each other?

A. The 19th anniversary gift is traditionally bronze.

B. Dinner and a movie at the Drafthouse theatre. That way they can eat and watch a film at the same time and thus aren’t reminded that they ran out of things to talk about seven years ago.

C. Earrings for her, Sex for him.

D. Presents??? The entire budget will be spent on Jasper’s birthday three days later. Thanks for being born two weeks early and messing up the anniversary, Jasper!

Answer: B. (Sort of.) We did go to a combo lunch/movie at the Drafthouse to see Midnight in Paris (which was excellent). But we only went there because the popcorn is so good. Mister and I still have plenty to talk about even after all this time.

2. Which of these activities can be performed in the most coma-like state?

A. Picking up mother from the airport at 11:15 pm. Because of course that’s the cheapest flight.

B. Picking up teenage daughter up from a party at midnight, the very last minute before her curfew. Apologize profusely when you realize you’ve rung the doorbell at the wrong house.

C. Tapping at Scout Leader’s door at 6:00 am to pick up son from Scout sleepover in order to get son to Cross Country running practice. No other Scouts or leaders may be disturbed or points will be deducted.

D. Taking 6 year-old back to bed because, “the sun is mixed up and it’s shining but really it’s still nighttime. So go to sleep and don’t get up until the first number on your clock is a seven.”

Answer: D. At least I think that’s how it happened. I was so tired I don’t really remember the details.

3. Name the activity least likely to be performed while trying to make Jasper’s birthday cake:

A. Giving 12 year-old a beginning hammered dulcimer lesson because Jennie “promised and swore that Thursday would be the day”. Never mind that it requires 20 minutes tuning the stupid instrument first. After wasting ten minutes looking for the tuner.

B. Cleaning up cat barf. Twice.

C. Dropping everything to go to the grocery store because there are still items Jennie forgot despite two grocery store trips earlier in the day.

D. Like it really matters. It’s so insanely hot here that the icing will melt and run down the cake, looking like something from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

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Answer: B. The cat did throw up twice but I made India clean it up.

I was raised in Detroit. It was kind of gritty, with strip clubs and porno theatres next to the grocery store, and liquor shops (which we called “party stores”) on every corner. Oddly, we managed to live in a tiny little forgotten pocket that had a dirt road and tons of trees.

As you can imagine, my exposure to animals was limited to dogs, cats and parakeets. I had fantasies of living on a farm, though. The thought of raising sheep seemed utterly delighful and romantic (me and Marie Antoinette both. When I visited Le Petit Hameau–her cute little hobby farm–at Versailles I totally got where she was coming from).

I would see animals from the windows of my car as we drove down to North Carolina to visit my grandparents, but never up close. So I never smelled stinky manure or had to deal with any of the yucky parts of farming.

Shortly after I married Mister we moved to Portland, Oregon. The sunny summer days begged for a trip to the coast, so we decided to take the scenic route through all the little towns along the way to the beach. As we passed near the houses that had been built right next the road I spied a very odd dog. It was quite large with spots and floppy ears. But it looked . . . strange. Something about it wasn’t quite right. “Look at that weird dog,” I said to Mister.

He looked at me and laughed. “That’s not a dog, Jennie. It’s a goat.”

Oh.

I thought goats would be tinier. And cuter. Like little poodles with horns.

Now I am an experienced petting zoo-goer. I know that there are large goats. They are brazen, love to eat clothing and have dead, creepy eyes like sharks.

I still have almost no farm experience. Which means I continue to find the idea of farming quaint and charming. I did have a few chickens several years ago. I liked them but was appalled at how much and how often they pooped. I’ve almost forgotten what a pain they were and would like to get some more.

And I did put a cow on my birthday list.

Something tells me my subdivision won’t approve of that.

We have had our kitten, Clover, for a month. Everyone is entirely smitten. She is playful but loving and is extremely tolerant of Jasper carrying her around everywhere. Basically her grace and poise make Maggie look like a pathetic dolt desperate for attention (which is exactly what she is. But she’s a sweet dolt.) Clover likes to rile up the dog at times:

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But at other times they are quite chummy. So sweet.
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We are enjoying our cat but there is one small detail that we overlooked until recently:

Clover has testicles.

She is apparently a he. I have to say that I’m very disappointed. I just like girl creatures better; being a girl myself and all. But in a couple of months Clover will be an “it” anyway. I guess it’s for the best–orange cats don’t look good in a pink collar anyway. Sigh.

I came back last night from my weekend in Minneapolis to find that my husband, one of the most vigilant cat haters alive, had gotten this while I was gone:

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The kids have been bugging to get a cat for ages. We already have a dog, though, which is at the top of the “desirable pet hierarchy”* But all of our older children have read the Warrior Cat series of books. Most girls (and some boys–like mine who have run out of things to read at our house) under the age of 13 have read at least a couple. These books are all about feral cats who have cheesy names like FirePaw. I don’t get it, but whatever. So cats have been a big deal around here for quite some time. And I’ll admit that I like cats better than dogs. Cats are so pleasantly self-sufficient. They aren’t desperate for love and attention like pathetic dogs. But Mister, well, he hates cats. We had a cat ten years ago who was pure evil and that really spoiled it for us.

But Mister was at a garage sale on Saturday and they had a box of free kittens and, well, now we have one. She’s very teensy and she likes to play with toothbrushes.

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The family held off naming the cat until I got home, knowing that I am super picky about names. I was thinking of Mabel, Polly or Jemima, which the kids all made gagging sounds about. These were each child’s top picks for names:

Arabella: Ginger, Tillie, Flora

India: Boo, Millie, Katniss

York: Jango Fett, Salacious Crumb, Droopy McCool (those are all Star Wars characters, for all of you not showered with Star Wars trivia 24 hours a day like me).

Finn: Bono, Mistress Evil, Chuck Norris, Slopkin

I finally got out the baby name book and we went through just about every girl name until we found one we didn’t all hate.

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*the bottom spot belongs, of course, to beta fish. They don’t even get a cute fishtank. Goldfish are slightly better. Lizards and frogs are a step up. Birds are much more desirable than amphibians. All the top spots belonging to furry animals. There is a grey area for cute but somewhat unfriendly animals like rabbits and chinchillas. Cats are in second place. Dogs are the creme de la creme. If you get a dog you have made it as a kid. There should be no more pleas for another pet once you’ve got a dog. You might think that a pony would be on the top, but you would be wrong. Although most kids want a pony in theory, in actuality they are smelly, slightly scary and you either have to drive or walk a long way to visit it.

You knew something like this would happen.  After all, I’ve told you that I’m potty-training Jasper and he won’t poop in the toilet.

So here’s how it went down:  Ada comes in from the backyard yelling that Jasper has pooped in his pants again.  I go outside and there is Jasper, frolicking in his starkers, with poop smeared all over himself.  But where are the panties* full of poop?  Oh, there they are over in the middle of the lawn†. 

Hey, wait a sec, what’s the dog doing??? Oh no, she is eating the poop!!! 

I grab Maggie with her face covered in poo;  grab Jasper (also covered in poo) and throw them both in the shower, squirting baby soap and dog shampoo in their general direction.

If I were an amateur mom I would be shrieking and almost passing out.  But after six kids and two dogs, these nasty shenanigans don’t even rock my boat.  

(Best of all, Mister chose that moment to come home from work and find me scrubbing everyone down in the shower.  I looked so industrious.)

*In our house all underpants are referred to as panties whether they belong to males or females. 

†Which is now dead, brown and petrified due to having the hottest July on record here in Austin. Today we will be having our 47th day this year of triple digit temps. Please feel sorry for us.

Barf-a-roo, part deux

April 28, 2009 · 9 comments

in Pets, Yuck

You need to read yesterday’s post before you read this one. No wait, this one stands on its own.

I went to the library to return books last night (they ought to name that place after me, due to all the money they’ve gotten from me over the years. Most recently from the DVD of Spacecamp which my mother checked out while she was visiting and nobody remembered until it was six days overdue. At $1.00 per day. And guess who can’t find the case for the DVD?  I might as well just buy the library a new copy right now.)

So I got back from the library and Arabella mentioned in an oddly cheerful voice that she had thrown up while I was gone (but it wasn’t because she’s sick, she insisted.  She merely threw up because York was showing her a smooshed up cracker in his mouth and it was simply so disgusting that she couldn’t keep her dinner down. What is she, some kind of Victorian?)

I asked her where the mess was so I could clean it up and was surprised to hear her say that it was already clean. (The kids might not bother me when they throw up, but they’re certainly not cleaning anything!)

“Oh, yeah,” she replied.  “The dog ate it all.”

Good heavens above!  That is revolting.  But hey, thanks Maggie!

My dog, Margaret, has developed a very annoying habit of squeaking and crying at night–particularly between the hours of 12:30 and 2 am. OK, so “habit” isn’t really the right word. She did it last night and she’s starting up again as I type. Our house is chock full of people so there is really nowhere I can put her where someone won’t be bothered by her sniveling.

Last night I let her out at 12:30. And again at 1:00. And again at 2:15. I thought she might have eaten some Easter chocolate (very bad for dogs) and had the runs. Instead she just took advantage of her midnight frolic to bark hello to all the other dogs in the neighborhood. I resorted to the whisper-scream trying to get her to shut up and come inside already. The last thing I need is to rile up Officer Larry (not his real name), a gen-u-wine cop and our next door neighbor. He is already sullen, cross and none-too-pleased with our noisy family (especially when we are enjoying the trampoline at 8 am). Officer Larry usually has a toothpick sticking out of the side of his mouth and never wears shirts with sleeves unless he is on duty. He spends an enormous amount of time in the driveway cleaning out his squad car. (Trying to impress the criminals with his tidy vehicle, I suppose.) Call me paranoid, but I don’t think he looks kindly on us. Don’t want to find out for sure.

So Maggie* is being a real pain. And what insane idea keeps going through my head? That I need another dog; that getting one more pet will somehow make my life better.  Yes, it’s ridiculous idea.  It’s this kind of nonsensical reasoning that explains why I have six children.

But I’m perusing the ads from shelters and classifieds anyway. I fell madly in love with one dog in Salt Lake (KSL classifieds are like a drug). It’s a combination of my two favorite dogs: a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (which is what Maggie is) and a pug (which is what out last dog was). If that dog were here in Texas it would be curled up in my house at this very moment. Thank goodness it’s not. Because I don’t want a dog. But really I do. But really I don’t. Puppies are awful. But then again . . . . See what I mean? Insanity. Look how adorable, though.  I mean, the sweetest dog ever!

* Her real name is Margaret but we’ve always called her Maggie. I’m trying to discourage that because the vet told me that Maggie is one of the most popular dog names. And I cannot abide a popular name. That’s the kind of fallout that occurs when you let your husband name the dog. Last week I tried to convince Mister to phase into to calling her Maisie, which is much cuter and more unusual. It’s practically the same name. But not. It’s much better. He didn’t go for it. At least our dog is not named Max or Bailey.  We know at least three dogs called each of those names.  No offense if you have a Max or Bailey.  Chances are that you do, in fact.

P.S. I will be having copious amounts of fun for the next few days and probably not blogging. So you’ll just have to sit tight and be Jennie-free for a while.

Grosser than gross

October 19, 2008 · 5 comments

in Pets, Yuck

There are a lot of disgusting things that happen when you have children.  There are also a lot of disgusting things that happen when you have pets.  Put them both together and what do you have? A blog entry!

Arabella let Maggie the dog out to go to the bathroom this morning (although it should technically be called “go to the yard” since there is no bathroom involved).  Apparently Maggie had to go so badly that she couldn’t take an extra four steps, so she pooped on the patio.  I sent Arabella out to clean it up, but she has a flair for the dramatic (and an overactive gag reflex) and this task was simply too overwhelming.  She threw up on the patio.

 

And the grossest part?  Maggie ate the throw-up like it was the greatest of delicacies.

Fun times at my house, yessiree.

The dog

October 8, 2008 · 6 comments

in Pets



This is our dog, Margaret.  She is pretty good, as far as dogs go, but she’s still, you know, a dog.  I tend to like cats a lot better since they are so undemanding.  They are very self-sufficient and quiet.  Perfect.  Unfortunately they aren’t the most affectionate animals.  Fine by me, but not so great when your children think it might be nice to actually touch their pet.  And instead get an armful of scratches.

So after our last dog, Anna the Pug, got run over by the mailman (very sad story.  Nothing breaks your heart like a grown man crying at your front door) we decided to take a break from the animal kingdom.  That lasted for a year or two.  I go through these weird phases every once in a while where I must have a pet.  I love to do research and I spent months trying to find the perfect dog.  Anna the Pug was great, though stupid. (People always say that having a stupid dog is a bad thing; like it’s your child or something.  No.  A stupid dog is good.  There is no trying to escape from the yard/kennel/leash.  No figuring out how to climb onto the kitchen counters. No plotting on how best to eat the babies food without her noticing.)  Pugs also shed a lot. A LOT! If you wear tan clothes all the time maybe it’s not noticeable, but for us it was a deal-breaker.

So we got a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  Hardly any shedding. The entire point of this breed is that they like to be with people.  A crazy, undying craving to be around people at all times. If you are wanting a furry shadow, this is the dog for you.  This has some serious downsides, though. Like she’s afraid of the dark.  She won’t go to the bathroom outside at night unless someone is close enough to rescue her from the boogeyman.  

She is also quiet.  When she needs to go to the bathroom, she sits nicely by the back door.  Great if you are sitting in the kitchen, but not so helpful if you’re upstairs watching a movie.  If you don’t let her out, she poops in her favorite indoor spot–on the stairs.  The stairs!  What the…?

She’s also embarrassingly subservient.  The second she sees another dog she’s laying on her side.  She might as well be wearing a sign that says “I’m pathetic. Please mistreat me.”  I try to make her act tough and be more macho, but even a puppy is higher up in the pack than poor Margaret.

The fact is, she’s a lover not a fighter.  She’s the perfect size–not big, not tiny–and doesn’t mind being dressed up in baby clothes and pushed around in the toy stroller.  She’s pathetic, for sure, but she doesn’t seem to mind.  She’s a dog!