Well, another Veteran’s Day has come and gone and, like every year since my honorable discharge from the U.S. Army (salute!), nary a gift was left for me by the Veteran’s Day Magic Gnome. I always decorate a surplus shelter half (that’s half a pup tent for you civilians) for this early November holiday in hopes that the Magic Gnome will leave me a gift or two under my half of the tent. Perhaps my discharge paperwork failed to get through in ’72. I’m beginning to feel like I’m Linus and the Magic Gnome is the Magic Pumpkin.
But the real news from up our end is dog related.
Many weeks ago we lost the canine member of our family, Margaret Truman, a largish mixed-breed sweetheart who was part of the family for nine years. Her spleen was cancerous and the major surgery to remove it was too much for her to handle. Sometimes clowns can be sad, Emmet Kelly for example.
The current wife and I recently made the rash decision to get another dog and I spent several days scouring the local shelters and Humane Societies for just the right one. We agreed that raising Margaret from a puppy had been a real pain and that this time we would select a young but mostly trained dog. So, with that as the primary ground rule, we promptly adopted a nine-week-old mixed breed but mostly an Australian Cattle dog.
For those not familiar with the dog aging process, nine weeks is considered the apogee of puppiness. Puppies, unlike human infants, run around and cannot be effectively diapered. Similar to human infants, however, puppies eliminate vast stores of pee and poop on an irregular schedule. This can create some problems.
The current wife, or “spousal unit” as she is know by the NSA, always one to research such issues, has us on an every-three-hour puppy walk schedule. This schedule does not provide crummy weather or dark of night byes.
The secret, or so the research says, is to pre-empt the indoor accident with a forced march every three hours. The puppy, even though she has been unceremoniously awakened from a sound sleep, finds these outings into the cold, dark night quite enjoyable. The same cannot be said of moi. So far, the neighbors have not reported the disheveled man in flannel pajama bottoms, trench coat and slippers madly waving a flashlight around looking for evidence that the march has served its purpose. One of these nights the cops are going to show up. If I’m coherent, I’ll explain that we fully intended to get a house-broken dog but that we were struck with a double dose of temporary insanity. Cops love dogs so it should be all good, especially if I can prove that I really do live in the house whose lawn I’m searching. This is where keeping a copy of your mortgage, stuffed into your pajama bottoms, really comes in handy.
Puppies also have the distinction of possessing needle-like puppy teeth with which they seek out anything that has the potential to be separated from its current location. These items include but are not limited to: clothing buttons, carpet threads, chew-toy tags, knit sweater loops, shoe laces (resting or in motion), watch bands, noses, fingers or forearms. The current condition of my arms and hands suggest that I may be a heroine addict with very poor drug administration skills. This is another reason not to irritate the cops enough to be taken downtown for questioning.
The newest member of the family is named Ellen Barkin. As you will note, I believe in naming dogs after famous people. It gives them more confidence. Years ago, I knew someone who named her dog Willie and that particularly odd-looking dog got a real self-esteem boost by being associated with the entire Nelson family, including David, Ricky, Ozzie and Harriet.
So far the training is going well. Ellen has trained us to take her outside every three hours, rain or shine. If we fail to do so, she shows her displeasure by leaving a moist or solid reminder somewhere, usually on a favorite floor covering. While we do have hardwood floors throughout the house, she knows that leaving a reminder there just wouldn’t have the same training impact. Smart little Aussie Cattle Dog that Ellen.
I could regale you with anecdotes about how cute she is, how the resident cats are clearly curious but disdainful, how Ellen has enthusiastically taken to her crate and more, but it is coming up on three hours since our last forced march and we’re running low on carpet cleaner.
Observoid of the Day: Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.