Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Conversations With the Canine

We recently acquired a dog. Which is big, since it was always my children's wildest wish that we would get one. We always used to tease them by getting stuffed animal dogs or the kind you add water to and they grow. The kids were not amused. But we always had The List of reasons why a dog would not come to our house (or pupy as my eldest son once called it).

The List

*We'd have to spend $$$ on food
*If it runs away you have to spend $$$$ getting it back.
*You have to find people to take care of the dog if you go somewhere you can't take them with you.
*They gnaw on everything.
*They poop everywhere.
*They sometimes bite people, who then sue you for all your $$$.
*They get diseases and die, rendering you tragically sad.
*Shots and neutering.
*Puppies if the neutering doesn't work.
*The Cone of Shame if the dog gets his nuts whacked, which the dog then uses to herd humans into doing their bidding.
*Fleas, grooming, tooth brushing, medicine, gas emissions, sharp toenails, and other maintenance.
*Bodily emissions on the carpet, plus gnawing and wear and tear on said carpet.
*Bulky furniture and having to secure the yard.
*Following the dog around with a plastic bag to pick up his steaming pile of dog logs.
*Possible complaints from sleepless neighbors.
*It's HOT here, so a puppy would have to be inside for the summer, tearing around the house like a maniac.
*And the biggest argument of all? They used to have a bunny and because of everybody telling us they'd fed the poor thing, the bunny took a long dirt nap. We were not amused.

So in the past, the list has prevailed past Christmas lists, birthday wishes, and the hopeful housing of strays.

The funny thing was, we adults had both always actually wanted a dog, but the list prevailed for us too.

Enter the heartless abandoner of Dog Murphy. He dumped the dog complete with dog food in the back of the truck. At first the list loudly proclaimed the dog must go. But all of us fell in love with him. He was like a baby--a brilliant, mischievous, silky, sharp-toothed, sweet little baby. One by one the planks of The List were ploughed under by the adorable things he did. Until one day I called the Hubs and said, "I either have to go get the dog some things, or we need to give him away." And the Hubs said the magic words which sealed the animal's fate. "Get the stuff."

So now Dog Murphy is a beloved member of our family. He wasted our carpet for a couple days until we finished training him to ring bells to tell us he has to go out (a fact he exploits constantly--but we can't do anything about it). He barked at the corner of the couch for nearly a week. He cries when I put him to bed, until I sit down and tell him it's time to lie down and go to sleep. And he follows me, touching me on the leg with his wet little nose to tell me he's there. 

He's a brilliant little thing. We've taught him to ring a bell to go out, sit, stay, lie down, and when we shoot him with our finger gun and yell BANG, he flops down and waits for his treat. Yup. Cool little dog.

He recently got bits of him lopped off, which will enable us to make him a permanent Murphy and render him increaseless. Upon emerging from the place of nugget lopping, he gazed up at me blearily and promptly flopped over, completely stoned. It was both hilarious and a little sad to see him staring for fifteen solid minutes at the file cabinet, listing a little to the left. Walking was out of the question for the next little while. I mistakenly thought he'd be easy to keep quietly sedate. Doh. I should have known. At the least provocation he tears around the house like all the Pamplona bulls are after him. One day he's going to knock himself out cold ramming into the couch.

We have conversations all the time, mostly centered around mealtime (ours). They go something like this:
Him: Whatcha doing?
Me: Cooking human food. You seem to be a hungry little dog.

Him: You're quick. You went to college for that knowledge?
Me: Funny. Stop begging. You're perforating my arms.
Him: You know I'm the food taster, right? You need me to make certain everything is safe."
Me: Is that a fact? Well I don't think fudge is good for dogs.
Him: Then what are you eating it for? You should be feeding me at least half of whatever you're eating. Come on. Get it moving. I'm right down here patiently waiting. I won't take no for an answer. Just shoot a little right here into my mouth. I'll bark until you do it. Come on. You know how.
Me: (only not if it's bad for him) Here, little beggar. Knock yourself out.
Him: (grinning) Keep it coming.

I'm sure he laughs all the way to the bone bank. So if it's good for dogs he usually gets a taste or three. I know. I'm much more soft hearted with the dog. He helps me with the dishes far more than any of my kids, and much more willingly.

When we're outside, supposedly finding the exact right spot to defecate in, he's actually looking for his next stick or June bug victim or lizard. June bugs are big, bumbling beetles which allow for hours of hilarious fun. Apparently their wiggling little legs astonish the little guy, so he tosses them up and paws and bites them until they expire or fly away.
Sticks are less likely to fly away, but he does chew them up and leave bits all over, along with swallowing a fair share. I've banned the bringing in of any more sticks because he has plenty of roughage in his diet already. Before, when he brought in a new stick, it went like this:

Him: Doot duh do do. Just luggin' my stick inside. (and he shoots me one of those looks a cockroach gives you right before you stomp him two dimensional--that look that says, "ACK! Where can I hide?")
Me: What's the glance for?
Him: Hey, look over there. It's a bunny!
Me: Nice try, Joker. I see that stick in your mouth.
Him: What, this old thing? It was inside before. It's an old one.
Me: Not true. That one went in the trash. Hand it over.
Him: But it's a stick. For chewing. Like gum. You chew gum.
Me: I don't swallow it. You do. Ergo the painful bathroom visits.
Him: That has nothing to do with this delicious stick. Besides, I don't have hands. I can't hand anything over.
Me: Nice try. Drop it.
Him: Kill joy. I may or may not but absolutely will chew up your shoes. Or something else you love. Just waitin' for the chance. (And he gives me the chin lift you get from New York cabbies when they're checking you out in the mirror.) Then he trots inside, his head bobbing. Now and then there's a pounce involved. Completely adorable.

We wander all over the yard (mainly because we don't want him to get parvo)
in search of that magical spot in which to lay logs. At least that's my aim for him (I of course don't lay logs outside). His aim is to eat grass, sniff the stuff on the mulch pile, examine old log stacks, dig big holes in the yard trying to eat ants, and attack grasshoppers. I've never been so intimately acquainted with the yard before, not even during egg hunts at Easter. I can't wait until we get to explore the neighborhood at a run.

Welp. We're keeping him. He's a gift from God to keep me from going barking mad this summer. He loves without reservation, even though we...uh...had him altered. He loves us even though we have arguments about whose turn it is to pick up his logs or respond to the bell ringing wildly (or in my case his 4 am yipping wake up calls). He loves us despite having to sit there and watch as we consume all our dinner without sharing. Yeah. That's rich. Love without exceptions. 

Welcome home, Little One.

Dog Murphy has a shiny new bone-shaped tag on his new collar, and a hatred of the doggy thumbscrews (better known as nail clippers). He also gets to roam the neighborhood, sniffing other dogs' poo and tripping the runner. Now it's time to teach him to actually come when you call him instead of fixing you with his not-in-your-lifetime stare. And to ride in the car gracefully without having to stand on the driver's lap so he can see out the window.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Trash Man Cometh

I sit here surveying a living room full of my daughters' junk. They've barfed it up out of the bowels of their bedroom like a giant hurling up a rotten cow. It's been a difficult time for me--saying good-bye to a daughter who has already brushed the dirt off her feet on this old, used up homestead.

I feel like she said good-bye to needing a mother a long time ago. I'm merely one of the trash bags in the Mountain 'O Crud. I know it's a fact of life. Kids have to separate from their parents to grow up. But do they have to do it so very thoroughly? And with such finality? Isn't there still room for a mother who has actually lived what they read on google or Pinterest? Will there ever come a time when my nine years of college will qualify me to say anything valid? Will she ever need me again like an old, worn, but still-serviceable softy blanket? What am I, stacked up against all the wisdom of the ages confined in a little electrified silver box?

Because right now I feel like the Trash man cometh. She'll just find someone else more shiny and fashionable and less annoying and embarrassing to replace me with. Oh wait. She already has.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I Sent You a Dog

It's  been a crazy, nail-gnawing summer. I've barely had time to sit down and write on my Works In Progress let alone on my blogs. But today seems to be a good time to take stock of the situation.

There have been a few peaks (my son coming home from Russia; getting my medallion with my youngest daughter; seeing my babies and my eldest and her husband; going to the Temple; a family reunion) and several plunges (dealing with someone who reminds me of Godzilla in the way she stomps around crushing people; wedding insanity; and running a funeral). Challenges have included helping several friends work through hills of trash of both the physical kind and mental, as well as dealing with my own detritus mountain.

I wish I could say that I handled each challenge with grace and wit. Nope. I mentally kicked and screamed and threw myself on the floor and then crawled into my mental cave to lick wounds almost every time. I wish I could say I'd evolved into this amazing, brilliant butterfly of a person. But I think I went backwards and became a worm again. I let myself be pushed out of my place; knocked off my perch; rolled out to the trash and left there behind the barrel.

In fact, I felt about two inches high at a time when I should have been deliriously happy. It was supposed to be one of those fabulous mom paydays. Instead, she told me, "Sorry. No paycheck for you. In fact, you're fired. Don't let the door hit you in the rear. Oh, and by the way, you're unimportant and crazy." (Not in so many words, but actions yell.)

What have I learned?
1. Ask for inspiration about these things and then listen to and believe those words.
2. There are things you're reading incorrectly, but mostly not.
3. Trust your intuition.
4. Just let it run off.
5. Breathe.
6. Pick your battles.
7. Contrary to popular belief, you have a place and a value much > zero.
8. I sent you a dog. Now use him for good (not food).
9. Don't lose sight of what's really important while bemoaning the garbage.
10. This too will pass. And someday you'll have regrets.

Okay. Now it's time to go make dinner (not dog).