29 January 2011

When nothing else works

Toni had an accident this past week. She slipped on some ice. It seemed like nothing important at the time, but by the end of the day she was in pretty bad shape. We're still not exactly sure what the damage is—maybe sprains in both hips, maybe a torn ligament, maybe something else. What we do know is that it is the first time we've ever heard her yelp in pain. And she yelped a lot on the day of the accident. It continues even through the weekend, though not as much, thankfully.

There's something really horrible about seeing someone (even, or maybe especially, a furry someone) who is normally stoic and steady reduced to the desperation and confusion that pain causes. It added a whole level of panic to my end of the situation as caretaker that is not usually present, as I tried desperately to reach beyond my usual measures to try to find a solution for this ailment that was beyond the usual.

Even Téa is unsure how to help, and offers up the only thing she can think of, the thing that makes her feel best when she is not well (though truth be told it makes her feel best even when she's already feeling pretty good): love.

"I will be your personal blanket, teddy bear and hot water bottle until you feel better."

21 January 2011

Too damned cold

We thought the weather in December was a little miserable, what with the buckets of snow and the declining hours of sunlight (at least at the beginning of December). We had forgotten, as we do every year, that January is December's meaner, more temperamental, less forgiving twin.

And though T2 are snuggled up literally like bugs in rugs indoors, their hearts and legs long for a good run up and down the yard and a trot around the neighborhood. That is, they long for those things until faced with the reality of what that means in Chicago in January. And then, no matter how much their butts wiggled as we put on their coats and no matter how recently I've applied Musher's Secret to their paws, the misery sets in almost instantaneously. Just as I right myself from a near header into the icebank (no longer a snowbank these days) in front of our house, they're balanced not-so-delicately on two or three paws, with the salt- or snow- or cold-burdened ones dangling helplessly in the air as they give me that look that says, "All I've ever done is love you (except for that time I [insert naughty activity here]) and now you're trying to kill me one chunk of salt/snow/cold at a time. How can you forsake me so?!?"

Add to that the fact that we (at least the canine portion of we) are recovering from a bout of bad stomachs this week...so no treats. This means none of the usual practice runs through tricks (for what is a trick if not a means to a treat, in their minds). It means all of our food puzzle games are boring (like Monopoly without any pieces, cards or money). And since we can't leave toys out without supervision (Toni is a bit selfish about toys), it means we're running out of entertainment; and we all know bored dogs are naughty dogs.

Luckily, Chris brought back canine Christmas stockings from the UK this year. They included two kinds of treats (not allowed this week), unnaturally colored rawhide twisted or pressed into holiday shapes (not allowed this week) and a rubber Christmas cracker (saved!). This is how we spent today:

Of note: Téa's cracker is still in mint condition. If she were a little girl, she wouldn't have even gotten it apart to claim the paper crown or toy inside. All 2,074 pieces of Toni's cracker have already been picked up and sent to the trash bin. I am sure we'll continue to find the remaining 312 pieces over the next several months.

13 January 2011

DIY doggie style

We have never been the sort to divide household chores along traditional gender lines. Whoever cooks (usually me, but only because I love to cook), is excused from dish duty. If I take on dusting on a Saturday morning, Chris takes the floors. Trash duty belongs to whoever is headed outside when it needs to go. I even mowed my first lawn this past summer—and liked it. (Though I admit, I always like chores that provide immediate gratification: "Look what I just did! It was long grass and now it's short grass!! I'm amazing!")

But it never occurred to us that we might also be able to split chores and DIY projects in our new home along human/canine lines as well. Truth be told, we assumed that the absence of opposable thumbs would really limit our dogs' abilities to assist in most chores and projects. Apparently it's a common misconception. Since purchasing our fixer-upper, we've learned that Téa has very definite opinions about decorating. We've also discovered a variety of unexpected tasks at which T2 excel, including but not limited to:

kitchen renovation,
"I'm telling you, fuchsia has never, ever been the fashion for cabinetry. Work with me on this, please."

closet organization,
"Nope. If you put a shoe rack in here there will definitely not be enough space leftover in which to nap. So that's a no on the shoe rack."

"It's righty-tighty, Dad, righty-tighty. You're going the wrong way! Here, let me do it."

"All right. Enough horsing around with that camera. We've got a lot of work to get through today and I can't hold this paint brush on my own, you know."

and project management.

"Break time's over there, missy. Chop chop—back to work."

So the good news is, we ought to get this place in tip-top shape much more quickly than we had anticipated!

10 January 2011

A thoughtful reply

By now I think everyone has heard about President Obama's careless compliments to the Philadelphia Eagles and their decision to offer Michael Vick an opportunity to use his talents for legal entertainment purposes (as opposed to the vicious, sadistic, sociopathic purposes he lent them to during his tenure as Bad Newz Kennel's owner, financier and Director of Torture and Death Operations). 

It can be hard to know where to direct complaints or voice concerns in these instances of appalling misjudgment. We could ring the White House directly, but I don't imagine there is much satisfaction in leaving an irate message with an operator or intern. We can post to our blogs, knowing that we have a like-minded audience in our readers. We can rant over cocktails to our friends or the bartender at our favorite local. We can bring it up with an Eagles fan over lunch, savoring the opportunity to jab our fingers and raise our voices to someone who simply, for whatever reason, doesn't get it. But none of these efforts really addresses the issue with the person who matters the most in this particular instance. None of these efforts bends the ear and enlightens the mind of the man who made these thoughtless comments, a man whose comments receive more attention and publicity globally than anyone else alive. Which is why, when I read Bad Rap's blog post on the subject (A Worthy White House Literacy Project), I felt a sense of relief at finding a practical, satisfying outlet for my feelings on the subject. 

At Bad Rap's suggestion, we've sent a copy of Jim Gorant's The Lost Dogs to the White House. We included photos and a brief introduction to Toni and Téa. And while I do know that it is unlikely that my note and photos will make it to the President's desk, I also know that the receipt of hundreds of copies of the same book will be noticed and that some of the notes and photos will make their way up the chain of command. And if someone in the White House (ideally its most powerful resident) takes the time to educate himself on what Michael Vick is really capable of, when the cameras aren't flashing, when the cheering has quieted (which someday it will, as his arm and his legs age and his talent fades), when the stadium is quiet and he needs to make himself feel like a big man at the expense of other living creatures; if someone learns what dog fighting is really about and the brutality that men and women visit on these dogs who are so eager to please them that they will sacrifice their lives in that effort; if someone can remember that athletic prowess is no synonym for heroism and no substitute for morality; if someone takes a moment to tap into their own humanity and compassion, then perhaps the President will think more carefully about where he directs his compliments and why. 

If you want to make your voice heard, you can send a letter and/or a copy of The Lost Dogs to: 

   Mr. President and First Lady Obama
   The White House
   1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
   Washington, DC 20500

Photo from http://badrap-blog.blogspot.com/.

It's up to us to speak for the victims who cannot speak for themselves. I hope you'll take a moment to make yourself heard.

This last is taken directly from the Bad Rap blog: "More people than we ever imagined sent books to the White House after this blog post went live. A casual count tallied a minimum of 200 books sent. It seems that the large number reached critical mass a few days ago, and while the first few arrivals were signed for and accepted by WH staff (we're not sure how many), they are now turning others away. Mission Accomplished! Now what to do with all the books that are returning to their purchasers? We have a few ideas and will post asap. Thank you ALL for jumping both feet into this action."

Hopefully, at least one more mind has been enlightened.

05 January 2011

The holiday pilgrimage in photos

"This is insanely early. We're going to pretend we're still in bed. No photos, please."

"Holy cats! They're handing food out of a window to everyone!"

"And yet, none for us. What the hell, lady?!"

T2's chauffeur..in my sparkly sunglasses.

Téa's turn in the front of the back.

Toni, sweets, your head is much, much too big to jam in there.

Proof that I went on the trip as well.

Playing couch to pass the time.