Category Archives: Dogs

Vote for ME Please, If It’s Not Too Much Trouble

One of the many reasons I’ve never run for public office is that I hate asking for things.  It makes me uncomfortable.  It makes me feel unworthy.  Unloved.

Votes have always been especially hard for me to ask for.  So this is really hard for me to do.

But one of my earliest bloggin’ buddies, Lorna of Lorna’s Voice, nominated me for the BlogHer “Heart:  Feel it” Award!  And I need your vote to avoid total humiliation.

It is for my story/blog post, Letting Go.

Letting Go is a very heartfelt piece.  You see, it was written with my dog Cooper asleep at my feet.  Written knowing that the vet would soon come for his last, and saddest, visit with my ailing Cooper.  But it isn’t a sad story.  Because it is about a very special walk with a very special dog who made a very special friend that day.  Or tried to, anyway.  And it happened many years earlier, when Cooper was young and healthy and carefree.  The story really did help ease the pain of his passing, even as I was facing it.

So please click on this link, register (sorry!) and vote.  For me and for Coops.  For Letting Go.  (There’s a link to the post through this link.)

http://www.blogher.com/node/1393485/voty?category=VOTY%20-%20Heart%3A%20Feel%20it.

And pretend you’re in Chicago — vote early and often!

Thanks, Lorna!

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Filed under Awards, Bloggin' Buddies, Campaigning, Cooper, Dogs, Elections, Humor, Pets, Writing

Be Careful What You Say To Strangers

When Madam Weebles wrote about three rude teenagers who insulted her, I was incensed.  I wanted to verbally castrate them, but then they have no balls, not even metaphorical ones.  But I’ve been thinking about it all day.  I’ve never been able to stand people who inflict themselves on others like these girls did to my friend Weebs.

Because for most of my life, I’ve attracted weirdos.  People just say strange things to me, often for no reason.  Jaw dropingly rude.  Sexist.  Inappropriate.  Some of them are purely mean spirited, like in Weebs’ case.   All  uncalled for.  I’d like to get back at all the people who do that sort of thing.

Do you always think of just the right thing to say if it happens to someone else?  Or, when it happens to you, do you think of a clever retort five minutes after the person is gone?

Yeah, me too.

But sometimes I come up with just the right way to get the asshole back.  OK, maybe twice I did it.  This story was one of those times.  And I’m still proud of this moment.

***

It was long, long ago.  So long ago that I was still living with my Mom and Dad.  Circa 1975, I’m thinking.  And Mom had sent me to Medi-Mart, a drug store, on an errand.

I must have been waiting for something, because I was standing in the aisle with the paperback books when a heavy-set greaser-type guy walked up to me.

Who wouldn't want HIM? (Google Image)

Who wouldn’t want HIM?
(Google Image)

“Nice tits.  I’d like to get my hands on them,” he said to me.

I looked at him, my eyes widening in serious indignation.  My retaliatory options quickly ran through my head.  In that split second of decision, I knew that could:

  • Walk off in a huff;
  • Swear at him;
  • Hit him with my purse

I also knew that none of those options would be at all satisfying, so I quickly rejected all of the above.  Instead, I decided that I would make sure he was never quite so rude to any other young woman ever again.  Ever.  In fact, I wanted to make sure that the word “tits” would cause his balls to shrivel up and fall off.

So I started flirting with him.

I batted my eyes, laughed.  Tipped my head suggestively.  Made him think that a guy saying “nice tits” to me was just what I was hoping for in a man.

“Well, how about if I give you a call,” he said after an indecently short time.

“Sure,” I said, I stuck my hand in my purse as if looking for a pen to write down my number.  “Why don’t you give me a call, just as soon as …” I looked at him with adoration, “just as soon as your voice changes OK?

“OK,” he said, a bit confused right off the bat.  And then he realized exactly what I meant.

“Why you BITCH!” he shouted at me as I walked away.

Fortunately, my dog, Kling, a large, protective German Shepherd mix was waiting for me in the car.  Because you should never piss off a greaser  unless you have backup.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Dogs, Huh?, Humor, Stupidity

Crisis Management

Normally, I am the best person to have around in a crisis.

I keep my head.  I think the problem through.  I react intelligently, organize other helpful responders and do what needs to be done.   Yes, that’s just the sort of person I am in real life.

Generally, I also manage to keep a running humorous commentary which is invaluable to the hoards of folks standing around doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Because, let’s face it.  Not everyone handles stressful situations without becoming certifiably stupid.

Of course every rule needs an exception, and this story is no exception to the exception requirement.

*    *     *

It was just after John and I bought a house for Goliath because nobody would rent to a young couple with a gigantic dog.

We were incredibly lucky in buying our first house.  It was a tiny split level cape cod type that defied description.  But it was just right for newlyweds.  The whole inside had been redone – we bought it from a contractor who’d lived there.  The kitchen was new, the paint unmarked.  Everything was bright and clean.  The coral colored carpeting was newly installed and didn’t have a single blemish on it.

It had been a long stressful day at work for me, so after John and I walked Goliath and had dinner, I decided to take a long, hot, relaxing bath.  The one bathroom was on the “second floor” which was four steps up from the living room.   As it turns out, it was my last relaxing bath.  Ever.

So I wasn’t far when John announced from the living room below

“Uh, Lease?  We have a problem.”

John was fairly calm, actually.  Of course that would change.

“What’s the problem?” I said.  The water was still warm and I was just starting to wash away the day.

“The red ball is stuck in Goliath’s mouth.”

Shit!  I thought as I got out of the tub and grabbed my robe.  Why couldn’t he just pull the damn ball out and let me have my bath?  I was a tad annoyed at my new husband at that moment.

I went down the two steps to find John holding Goliath steady, calming him down, even though Goliath was relatively calm.

Goliath turned towards me and I immediately saw what John was talking about.

Goliath’s favorite tease-toy, a hard red rubber ball with a bell inside, was there in his mouth.  But it didn’t look like any big deal.  I looked at John with an I can’t believe you can’t handle this without me look.  John didn’t notice.

Red ball with bell

Still available.  Photo Credit

That ball really was Goliath’s favorite.  He’d pick it up and taunt us when he wanted to play.  He’d wag his tail ferociously, and drop the ball, catching it in his mouth long before we could grab it from him to throw it.  It never hit the floor.  Goliath would drop and catch, drop and catch, drop and catch.  The bell inside would ring and he would wiggle his eyebrows and his back end.  Come on, grab the ball, he was clearly saying.  Let’s play.  But of course, he would never let us.

This time, as I dripped on the new carpet and assessed the situation, I could see that Goliath had caught the ball too far back in his mouth.  He couldn’t drop it again, and the ball’s size was just a little bit smaller than his windpipe.

First I petted Goliath, soothed him, although he wasn’t really terribly upset.  In fact, he was just a little bit confused and uncomfortable.   I looked at John, astonished that he hadn’t just reached into Goliath’s huge mouth full of huge teeth, and pulled out the ball.

So I did.  Or at least I did the first bit — I reached into Goliath’s mouth, firmly placed my thumb and forefinger on the ball, glancing at John to make sure he would know what to do next time.  John and I watched in horror as the dog-slobbery ball slipped out of my fingers, lodging further into his mouth, right at the top of his windpipe, blocking most of his throat.

No longer able to breathe comfortably and no doubt pissed that his Mommy had made things worse for him, Goliath began to panic.  He started running around the house with John and I chasing after him. Trying to catch him, trying to pry the damn ball out of his mouth.

I’ve never felt so helpless.  So terrified.  It was later when I felt like an idiot.

John and I tried everything we could think of – we put the stem of a wooden spoon behind the damn ball and tried to pull it out.  But  it didn’t budge.  The spoon broke, naturally.  We went through a lot of kitchen equipment that night.

Stupidly, in spite of the fact that it hadn’t worked, we kept reaching into his mouth and trying to pull the ball out.  Each time we made it worse and the ball went down further.  With each effort we only made it more difficult for him to breathe, and the more panicked poor Goliath got.

Goliath ran back and forth between the kitchen, the dining room and living room – the three tiny rooms of our tiny little house.  John would catch him as he ran by and try something.  I would catch him on the rebound and try something, anything else.  Poor panicked Goliath raced across the three rooms, a half-dozen times.  And then a half-dozen times again.

Once when he caught Goliath, John reached into Goliath’s mouth behind the ball.  Goliath’s gag reflex, in constant action by that time, led him to clamp down on John’s right index finger.

“Shit!” John shouted as he pulled his hand away from Goliath and let him go.  Blood dripped from John’s hand.

Almost immediately I caught Goliath and did exactly the same thing, only Goliath bit my left pointer finger.  Then it was John’s turn again to be bitten, and Goliath got John’s left middle finger.   Blood was flying all around our new house, our new carpet.  We didn’t really care, though, Goliath’s panic had spread to John and me.

Goliath was going to die.

There was nothing we could do.  My boy would choke to death on that goddam ball in front of us.  And with each movement that Goliath made, the cheerful bell inside of it rang.  Alfred Hitchcock was directing the scene.

Maybe the image of Alfred Hitchcock led me to do what I did next.  Yeah, let’s just assume that that’s what happened. It is the only explanation.

I had to do something or my crazy, psychotic, beloved life-saver of a dog was going to die.  I was about out of ideas, and then I remembered a show John and I had watched on TV just the night before.

I went into the kitchen and took out our largest knife, knowing I had to give my dog a tracheotomy.

At the time, I was not yet a fake medical professional.  I had never done a canine tracheotomy.  I did not, in fact have a clue if dogs have tracheas, and if so, just where Goliath’s might be located.  I didn’t know if it would make a difference if I, ummm, otomied it.

But just the night before, Radar had done a tracheotomy on a wounded soldier on M*A*S*H.  And if Radar O’Reilly, another animal lover, could do it, well, so could I.  Goliath needed me.

Besides he was going to die.  That reality had become crystal clear.  I had to do something.  Something drastic.  And likely messy.

So I took the butcher knife from the kitchen to the living room to perform my surgery there, on the new carpet in the room that was now looked like a crime scene.  My blood and John’s was speckled all over the living room and dining room  rug and smeared onto the walls and door frames.  I stood, knife in hand, and looked around the living room for a clean spot on the rug.

Henkels Butcher KnifeAlso still available here where I got the photo

John had at that time caught Goliath who was still terrified, still panicked, but running out of energy and oxygen.  When John saw me with the knife in my hand and heard my plan, he must have thought

This woman can never get near my (future) children.”

But “Are you nuts?” was all I recall him saying.  Perhaps there were expletives mixed in there, somewhere.  Maybe.

At just that moment, Goliath keeled over.

“Oh my God,” I shouted.  “He’s dead.”  And I began to sob.

“No,” was all John said.  But he started punching Goliath in the stomach, which did not seem like a very respectful thing to do to a dead dog.  To my dead baby.

Out popped the ball.  John, holding tightly to Goliath’s muzzle with his two bleeding hands, breathed into Goliath’s mouth.   Magically, Goliath’s eyes opened.  Goliath took a very deep breath indeed.  So did we.

The Heimlich maneuver.  It works on dogs. 

There’s another thing I should tell you about the Heimlich maneuver.  It’s best to try it before attempting a tracheotomy.

*     *     *

Other Goliath Stories:

For Medicinal Purposes Only

Dogs and Other Nuts

What’s In A Name?

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Filed under Dogs, Family, Goliath Stories, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, History, Huh?, Humor, Science, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

Superstitious

It may surprise you to know this, but I am very superstitious about New Year’s. It’s true. Me!

My superstitions are not based on ancient history. They didn’t come from ancient ancestral rituals. They do not pop into my head based on numerology.

Nope. I earned my superstitions. And it happened, like many transformative events in my life, in the 1980s.

It was a terrible year, 1981. I’d been sick, hospitalized. My dog died. I broke up with a boyfriend of 5 years whom I’d expected to marry (he hadn’t given that much thought). I got sick again. And then again. I was spending the Holidays in un-Christmas-sy Florida with my parents and my brothers. Florida, where the palm trees were decorated and where Santa would have perished from the heat wearing all that fur.

By Christmas, I was toasting the arrival of 1982 at Christmas dinner.

“Whoa, Lease,” said my Dad, “one Holiday at a time!”

“I can’t wait,” I responded. And then I uttered those famous last words:

“Next year has to be better.”

Don’t ever say that.

Because, in fact, 1982 was worse. Way worse.

I got sicker. And sicker. I got broke and broker. I tried to commit suicide in the stupidest way and in the silliest place imaginable.

I had to have major, new, just-beyond-experimental surgery.

There were good parts about that year, of course. My friend Keily and I became roommates and fast friends. We’re still close. 1982 was also the year I got Goliath, the Goose, whose craziness kept my sanity in check. Well, sometimes.

But overall, the year I expected to be an improvement, was anything but.

Yeah, I learned in 1981/1982 to be careful what I wish for. Because you never know what’s ahead.

Don’t Jinx It!

* * *

(Google Image)

(Google Image)

Happy New Year to all of you. And if you’re looking for a simple way you can celebrate that costs nothing, look here.

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Filed under Christmas Stories, Dad, Dogs, Family, Holidays, Pets

Two Trips to the Tidal Basin

We had had such a lovely evening, Goliath, John and I in January 1985.  And so two weeks later, Goliath and I went back without John.  What could possibly go wrong?  Of course you’re thinking that with Goliath, something was bound to.  You would think I’d have learned.  And you’d be right on both counts.

The Jefferson Memorial is a lovely place – always.  There is something peaceful in the round, unadorned dome, of Mr. Jefferson standing majestically in the center of the white marble atrium.  In the quotes from the Declaration of Independence and my favorite:

“…I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

Photo:  The Washington Post

Photo: The Washington Post

Goliath, of course, wasn’t allowed in.  But he was pretty used to me tying him to a tree to go inside to use the bathroom.  So John and I left Goliath briefly and went inside for a quick visit to Mr. Jefferson.

It was a beautiful winter evening – late January, 1985.  And John and I were falling in love.

It had been cold as could be in Washington for weeks.  So cold, in fact, that the outdoor ceremonies for Ronald Reagan’s second inaugural had to be mostly cancelled or moved indoors.  Washington was in a deep freeze.

Still, Goliath had to go out.

Besides, a quarter moon shone, lighting up the gray bark of the famous cherry trees that ring the Tidal Basin.  The Tidal Basin had frozen over and the moon shimmered on that too.  It was the perfect night for a romantic night-time stroll with my two guys.

Goliath fell in love with John at first sight, just a few days earlier.  And that night at the Jefferson Memorial cemented the affection.  John fell in love with my crazy dog too.  Not that he had any choice; Goliath and I were a package deal.

What happens when you combine a frozen pond, sticks, a crazy dog and two lovesick people?  A night to remember.

The Tidal Basin was completely frozen.  At first Goliath was reluctant to step down off the concrete onto the ice of the Tidal Basin.  It was about a foot down, and Goliath, the Goose, was cautious.  Once John stepped down onto the ice, though, Goliath was game.  The three of us slid and slipped as we threw sticks, watched Goliath imitate Bambi on the ice, and rough-housed a bit.  John and I managed a smooch or two along the way.

Yup.  A memorable night.

So nice, in fact, that about two weeks later, Goliath and I went back, unfortunately without John.  Tess was with us, though.  Goliath’s girlfriend.  After all, it is a very romantic place.  Somebody needed a date.

This Malamut looks very much like Tess

This Malamute looks very much like Tess

Photo Credit

Tess was an  Alaskan Malamute, and she and Goliath were in love.  She belonged to our neighbor and friend, Linda and her two daughters, 8 and 5.  Tess was a beautiful, gentle, huge furball of a dog with a thick white and gray and black coat.  Linda and I had long been walking the two dogs together.   Tess had a calming influence on Goliath, and he behaved better when Tess was around.  Well, usually.

In fact, Goliath was so well behaved when he was out with Tess that it was generally easier to walk the two dogs together.  Sometimes Linda would join me and we’d go to the Capitol.  Other times I took the two of them on late night walks; Linda and her two daughters often did the after-work walk.  It was a terrific partnership.  Goliath always behaved for Linda and Corbin and Ashley.  And he behaved better for me when we brought Tess along.  Goliath would rarely come when I called him,  but when Tess was with us, I could always get him to come.  Because Goliath was a show-off.

Since capturing Goliath was such a challenge, I’d leave Goliath’s leash attached to his collar when we walked.  I’d drop it when it was time to let him run by himself or with other dogs, and he’d drag it around after him as he ran and played.  Linda and I left Tess’ leash on too.

When it was time to leave, I would say to Goliath:

“Go get Tess,” and he would run, pick up the end of her leash and bring it back to me.  I’d grab his leash too, and we were ready to go home, without the usual 30 minutes of me chasing my dog like a dork.

Anyway, about two weeks after that memorable night with John, Goliath, Tess and I went to the Jefferson Memorial to walk around the Tidal Basin.  The moon was full, and it was a beautiful night.  It had, thankfully, warmed up.  The deep freeze of late January had ended, and bundled up, I was quite comfortable as we started around the cement path next to the water.

And that of course, was the problem.  The Tidal Basin had thawed.  There was still a layer of ice on top, but it wasn’t nearly thick enough to support any weight.  There were puddles everywhere, and the ice had pulled back from the concrete edge leaving a rim of water.  Seriously cold water.

Enjoying the beautiful evening, I let my two charges go, and I watched the two doggy lovers play.  Of course, I thought of John and the lovely, fun walk we’d had here so recently.

Goliath remembered it too.  I’m sure of that.  Because he wanted to play on the ice again.  And so he used his head and the force of his body to push Tess off the sidewalk and into the water of the no-longer-frozen-solid Tidal Basin.

“Goliath, NO!” I shouted.

Tess, suddenly finding herself in icy water over her head, panicked.

I leaned over the edge to get her.  While frozen, the surface of the Tidal Basin had been about a foot below the edge, because ice has more volume than water.  The surface was now two to two-and-a-half feet below the edge.

I ran to Tess, reached way down to her, and tried to calm her while I grabbed her collar and her front leg and started hauling her out of the water.

“Good Girl, Tess.  I’ll get you out of there,” I said with a calm resolve I didn’t feel.

But Goliath wanted to play.  On the ice.  With Tess.  And with me.  Just like that other night.  He rammed his head into me in an attempt to push me onto what he no doubt thought was ice.

“Goliath NO!  BAD DOG!  NO!”

His eyes sparkled as he pushed me again.

(“Come on, Mom, remember how much fun we had?”)

He didn’t understand that there was no ice.  And that he was going to end up playfully drowning his two best girls.

Just when I nearly had poor, soaking wet, panicky Tess pulled out, Goliath pushed us both again, after getting a running start.  Tess slipped from my hands, and she fell back in again.  I managed to stay out of the water, somehow.  But I thought of stories where a drowning person surfaces three times before drowning.   I wondered how many times a dog could go under.  How would I be able to explain to Linda that Goliath had killed her dog?

There was no way around it.  If I was going to save Tess, I had to do something about my own crazy dog first.

I reluctantly left terrified Tess, and chased after Goliath. When I caught him I tied him firmly to a tree and went back for Tess.

Tess was tiring, giving up.  She had no energy left when I got back to her.  Thankfully, she had stayed close to the edge.  Without Goliath’s, ummm, assistance, I was able to reach down, grab Tess’ collar and then her legs.  I hauled her out of the water.  We both fell backwards; Tess landed on me in a heap.  We sat there on the sidewalk at the edge of the Tidal Basin and rested.  I comforted her while the water from her thick coat soaked through the few dry spots on my coat, my pants, my shoes and deep into my skin and down into my bones.

“Good girl, Tess,” I said, “good girl.”  When we had caught our breath, I grabbed her leash and led her back over to our abuser.  I have rarely been so cold.

Goliath was still ready to play.  After all, we hadn’t been there for more than half an hour.  He was delighted to be untied from the tree, but I held fast to his leash.  And I led him away from the water — the long way back to the car.  I took no more chances.

“Too bad, you maniac,” I told him as he tried to pull away to go off and play.  I pulled him towards the car to leave.  “It’s your own fault we had to cut the walk short.”

We drove back home, and dry Goliath and wet me returned a soaking wet Tess home to Linda.

“What happened?!?” she asked, not surprisingly.

“My dog is nuts,” I replied.

Tess managed to forgive Goliath pretty quickly, even before we got back to the car.  Me, I waited to determine if I was going to die of pneumonia before forgiving the Goose completely.  But of course I did as soon as I was warm and dry.

We scratched the Jefferson Memorial off our list of places to walk.

******

Dog owner alert:  Don’t be stupid like I was — Don’t leave your dog’s leash on him.  It is a stupid, dangerous thing to do with a dog.  A dog can get it caught in something and break his/her neck, hang himself, or injure himself in a zillion different ways.  Don’t do this to your furry friend.  In fact, do not take any dog tips from me.  I did an incredible number of stupid things with Goliath.

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Filed under Dogs, Family, Goliath Stories, History, Huh?, Humor, Pets, Stupidity, Wild Beasts