Jun 29, 2009

Neurotic Pets

I can't figure out why all my pets (including the fowl outside in the barn) are nuts. Seriously, every last one of them is not normal. I've given this some serious thought and have even discussed it with various people, and frankly I'm stumped. Just about everyone though seems to agree that it's me who makes them loony as they all seem like perfectly normal animals when they leave their breeders' homes and only become odd once they settle in here, but I'm just not sure.

The other day Edison and Bram were happily munching their lunches in the kitchen and I was buzzing about doing little chores and after having had my back to them for a few minutes turned around to find Edison limping horribly out of the kitchen and into the foyer. I rushed out after him as he hobbled away with a look of utter anguish on his tiny face, his right front leg held out away from his body stiffly and at a very odd angle. I was instantly terrified, yet couldn't figure out how he had hurt himself so badly and so quickly, when all he was doing was quietly eating. The look on his face was heartbreaking.

I gently picked him up and touched his leg. He didn't cry out, yet still held it stiffly away from his body. I couldn't figure out what could possibly be wrong and with each passing second was losing years off of my life from the terror of his obviously seriously damaged leg. He continued to watch me with that sad little face and as I felt his leg from body to toes I discovered a large chunk of kibbles, wet and sticky with canned food, stuck halfway down his leg. As soon as I picked it off of him, he squirmed to get down and immediately ran back to his bowl to finish his lunch before Bram did it for him.

All this because he was dirty? A normal dog would have bent over and eaten the juicy morsel right from their own leg, but not Edison. My dog is clearly horrified at the thought of having something icky on him and he continued to freak out until it was removed. Talk about OCD. If he had just stood still for a moment Bram would have happily eaten the offending bit of lunch right off of his leg. And with that I could have been saved some serious anxiety. And everyone would be happy. Crazy, but happy.

Jun 15, 2009


Seagulls and I have a history that extends from my early childhood to today.

When I was a little girl I went to a seaside restaurant with my family and after dinner while out walking amongst the breakers I found a seagull that was tightly tangled in a fishing line. One leg was horribly bent and the poor bird's mouth was held shut with multiple layers of the thin plastic line wrapped around its beak. The bird was dirty and thin, but still struggling to free itself and I cried when I saw it. I refused to leave until my mother went to call for help and animal rescue came and saved the bird. Only when I was sure the bird would be nursed back to health and then released did I get in the car and go home.

A few years ago, David had business on the Vineyard and I gladly went with him for the day, accompanied by Griffin and a friend. After lunch we took a walk on an empty, quiet stretch of beach and as there were a couple of seagulls circling above me, I pulled the remains of my lunch from my doggie bag and began to share it with them. (I'm the person who will always stop to feed the birds wherever I am when out and about in the world, with whatever species of bird is in front of me. I've even been known to quickly find a store to buy some food with which to feed them when I'm caught empty-handed). So back on that beach, the gulls multiplied rapidly until I had utterly lost control of the situation and could no longer be seen in the middle of the swirling mass of white and gray feathers flying low around and right above me. My three companions stood there, stunned and speechless, by the surreal scene before them. Rather quickly I ran out of food and the birds gradually took off for a better opportunity. While it was thrilling to be completely engulfed by so many big, beautiful birds, I must admit that it was nicer when they had gone. And considerably quieter.

At the end of the day we walked along the pier, killing time until the ferry was ready to leave for the mainland. It had been such a beautiful day: the autumn air was a bit chill but the sun was warm, the trees were turning a rich red and orange, and the sunset on the boat was going to be spectacular. There at the end of the dock, sitting on a piling, was a lone seagull. As I had an apple and some crackers left from a mid-afternoon snack, I thought I'd share my food with this one last seagull before getting onto the boat as for me it would be the perfect ending to my already perfect day on the island. Moments later I once again found myself covered in hungry birds. And more hungry birds. And still more birds. The number was staggering, and this group was not nearly as polite as the group on the other side of the island earlier in the day. Needless to say, it wasn't long before I ran out of food and the birds became really agitated. As exciting as it was, I have to admit that visions of Alfred Hitchcock were running through my brain and while I wasn't exactly calm anymore, I did manage to get myself safely out of the melee around me. And as I walked over to my horrified companions, David asked me (actually shouted to me over the near-deafening screeching) if I was done feeding the birds for the day? When he found that I had no more food, he and the others were all visibly and palpably relieved.

There are always a handful of seagulls at our local home improvement store, ambling about the parking lot and perching atop the lampposts. And while there is a doughnut shop just inside the front door, as a courtesy to David who is always with me there as I am generally tagging along with him on an errand, I have resisted the urge to rush in and buy a doughnut or two to share with the birds. But I think of doing it every single time I go. And one of these times I just might.

Jun 5, 2009

Dog Mail

It really is very strange when your dog gets mail. It's completely unexpected. You're going through the mail and sorting it for each family member as you're walking back indoors from the mailbox and there in the pile is a letter for your dog. It's not a reminder from the vet to let him know he has an upcoming visit (as some vets think it's cute to send the reminder to the pet itself), nor is it for your older dog who has long been registered with the town. No, it's for the puppy who won't be "official" until January of next year, which makes it all the more puzzling how anyone got his name and address.

So Bram gets this letter and upon opening it I discover that he's been personally invited to participate in a town event known as "Dog Daze" where licensed dogs can enter any or all of three events: costume, agility and talent. As I'm not sure Bram can enter as he isn't yet licensed and Edison sadly- and most rudely- was overlooked by whoever was sending these things out (we're outraged, I tell you!), it appears we won't be participating, but I did give this some thought before deciding to toss the invitation.

The costume event would be ideal for us, as I love dressing my dogs up whenever I have an excuse to do it, and being an artist I can really rock the whole costume thing. With time short as this gala is happening in just two weeks, I thought I could get away with making just one new costume by recycling Edison's first Halloween costume as it would fit Bram who is still tiny: a bee suit complete with gossamer wings, antennae and a tiny stinger on the bum. Edison, were he able to compete, would go as a little Sherlock Holmes with a tweed cape, starched collar and a deerstalker hat with a small pipe attached to the side near his cheek. Of course, this would not be at all inhumane: forcing my dogs to wear layers of fleece and wool from head to toe in the heat of late June.

As to agility, the boys' talents extend to running in circles around the house at top speed and ducking under the couch while only occasionally smacking their foreheads against its front, fighting over choice toys in a frequently vicious game of tug of war, and chasing the cat up and down the stairs until she attacks their faces in a feral rage.

Talent? One of my dogs will sit on command, but only if he is sure you have a treat for him. There's no way he'd lower himself to do something so base without it being worth his while so if he doesn't see the food, he won't bother, and the other dog hasn't even once attempted to sit, but simply leaps into the air, steals the snack and runs like hell into the next room with it, inhaling it before anyone tries to get it away from him. One snores very loudly and the other never stops barking, but since I have absolutely no control over stopping or starting either of these behaviors, I suppose neither could be considered the trick of "speaking". Are they talented dogs? They can't paint or sing or do any little dances, but one boy is exceptionally gassy and the other will bite your ankles if you're a stranger who has come too close to him, his brother, or anyone else he feels especially protective of. This is all good enough for me, but I doubt it will win either of them any trophies.

So even if we were able to compete, I wouldn't want to stress my poor boys out by dolling them up on a very hot day and I seriously doubt we'd win anything more than a lot of odd and sadly condescending looks from all those folks who came to watch the spectacle of so many dogs put through their various paces. But what I would like to know is, why haven't either of my dogs yet received a letter from the attorney of a recently passed, long-lost relation informing them that they have just inherited an enormous sum of money or an estate in the English countryside? Because that's the kind of mail my dogs should be receiving.

Jun 3, 2009

Bram Takes a Small Look

Bram the Man doing what he does best: getting involved in whatever is going on around him. And he's damn cute while doing it, too!

Jun 2, 2009

Little Angel

Edison Jack. I couldn't ask for a more wonderful dog. And he poses beautifully.
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