Sunday, December 18, 2011

Running of the Squirrels

What can I say? I love squirrels. I am booking a flight to Spain as we speak.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Goodbye, Dolly!

2011 brought the passing of Dolly the Llama who lived at the Duluth zoo. It was a bittersweet passing for my family.

Dolly the Llama, R.I.P.

Dolly was undeniably cute. As a member of the petting zoo, her job was to be an animal ambassador. Susan and the boys used to visit her every year at the zoo on their Up North trip.

Then one year, Susan was telling Dolly the llama how cute she was...and Dolly gave her that llama stare...and lobbed spit-boulder right in Susan's face.

The story goes that Susan shrieked, taught the boys some new words and spent 15 minutes in the zoo bathroom washing it off. She reports that llama spit is very sticky and very stinky. 

Wikipedia explains about llama behavior:

"Llamas are very social herd animals, however, and do sometimes spit at each other as a way of disciplining lower-ranked llamas in the herd."

Susan did not appreciate Dolly believing that she was a lower-ranking llama. Also,

"One may determine how agitated the llama is by the materials in the spit. The more irritated the llama is, the further back into each of the three stomach compartments it will try to draw materials from for its spit."

Dolly must have been very annoyed with Susan.

In the following years, they always viewed Dolly from a distance and laughed.

Dolly was almost as funny as that Duluthian seagull that crapped right on Susan's head.

Holiday Hamsters

While out Christmas shopping the other day, Susan and Boy#2 popped into a pet store to aaah over the furry animals. Boy#2 likes to get his kitten fix and I know Susan thinks about puppies all the time(!)  Of course, their time would have been better spent saving that love for moi. But I digress...

When they got home, they told us about how they watched the pet shop gal unload a massive mother ship of hamster from a shipping box into an aquarium.

They thought it was funny that the shipping box said FRAGILE: Handle With Care: LIQUIDS. Obviously, hamsters do not come in liquid form. But they must have run out of boxes marked FRAGILE: LIVE ANIMALS. The whole idea that one would mail hamsters is odd to me. I suppose they have be delivered somehow.

Why people go to pet shops to pay money for small rodents is also odd. Then they go pay money for rodent control devices to trap the free mice that live in the basment. People are weird. But back to the story...

This freshly mailed mama hamster lurched a bit as she got her bearings in the aquarium. Then she planted herself in the food bowl - but not to eat. She began methodically stuffing seeds into her pouches until they were nearly as big as the rest of her.

Pet shop gal proceeded to unload the rest of the box one occupant at a time. She gently placed at least a dozen babies in the aquarium with their mother. Each landed swaying on infant legs then began wandering around checking out their new home, oblivious to the frantic homemaking of their mother.

Susan and Boy#2 watched as the momma hamster continued gathering seeds, ignoring her children, and resisting her own urges to explore her new territory. Her eyes began to bulge with the load of seeds.

They wondered what her plan was...grab all the seeds and then go dump them in a stash a mere six inches away in the corner of the aquarium? Pretty pointless. This wasn't some desert. No competition - no one but hamsters here. There would be more food where that came from. But hamster mother just couldn't be sure.

Clearly, the mother was driven to gather and stash sustenance. Having spent the last hours in a box marked LIQUIDS, she couldn't be too sure when the next meal would arrive. For all she knew, the dish held all the seeds in the world. So she'd best grab and hide them. More likely there was no thought at all. Hamster sees seeds. Hamster gathers and stashes.

As I watch the holiday preparation madness, I can't help but picture this mother hamster stuffing her pouches. Sure there is excitement, even joy when Christmas approaches. The songs insist it is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But there is also a fair bit of of auto-pilot in the seasonal prep that swirls around me. People zooming about in their cars, stumbling out of stores laden with bags, clicking Proceed to Checkout on Amazon, wrapping and piling gifts to be dispersed to family and friends.

From where I sit, this holiday work isn't all that different from hamster work. Holiday rituals seem so ingrained that I think they too must be deeply rooted in instinct. The drive to exchange gifts, a ritualized passing back and forth of wealth, is quite similar to the hamster gathering seeds from the food bowl and moving them over to the corner of the aquarium.

No doubt December behaviors are so entrenched that people just can't help themselves. Must give gifts, must put up tree, must play Bing Crosby, must clean house, must prepare Christmas foods...I like this last one very much.

But like the hamster, it must feel awfully good to empty out the stretched-out pouches and get back to normal business in the New Year.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks for Smoked Bones, Roast Chickens and Kittens

Yesterday was a day of giving thanks across the nation. You may have heard my bark of thanks when I got my Thanksgiving bone. 

We spent Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa's house. They put on a fine spread.

That is one mighty fine bird! I got to help with clean-up...although they did not let me lick the fine china.

Thanksgiving is all about family. Apparently Grandma and Grandpa decided they needed a bigger family. So today Boy#2 and Susan went with them to the Humane Society to adopt some kittens. I think a dog would have been a better choice, of course. But even I can't help but feel a little melty looking at these sweet babies.

This one looks like our Sophie. I wonder what they will name her..
Her sister has a tortoise shell thing going on. She looks so soft and cute. And smart. And talented.

Susan says if I say nice things about kittens, I will get another bone.

How'd I do?

Best Thanksgiving Hats EVER

My Susan's friend Susan has an excellent sense of humor and is a fine seamstress too! She also has a very sporting family.

Best Thanksgiving hats EVER!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Herding Cats

I hear a lot of complaints about herding cats in my house. Usually it is not directed at the cats.

This video has been around for awhile. But it makes me smile. I like the river crossing the best.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's a Miracle!

Dilution and misapplication of language is something that makes me growl and really bugs my blog pal Daughter Number Three. So this one is for her.

"If you change your perspective on what a miracle is,
you'll notice they're all around you"

I believe it is generally agreed that a miracle is an event attributed to divine intervention. If nothing else, a miracle should be attributed to an event that is statistically rare. Like a cat surviving a 20 story fall from a window (I did not push that cat!).

But now I learn from this ad that those definitions of miracle are for close-minded traditionalists. Apparently, we all just need to change our perspective. Then a miracle can be about anything we choose...even the treatment of wrinkles.

That is totally AWESOME!

I wonder how this wrinkle juice would work on these fellas?


I didn't manage to post a Halloween howdy this year. I was too busy barking at those pesky trick-or-treaters. They just kept coming! In the end, I was a good dog and I drove them all away. It took me a few days to recover. 

Here is my pick for best costume. I don't really approve of dressing up fellow canines, of course. But I do enjoy seeing Dave laugh so hard wine comes out his nose. And a good Star Wars reference always pleases Boy#1 and Boy#2. Like the Tauntaun Sleeping Bag, this AT-AT costume for an Italian greyhound is just about perfect.

AT-AT dog by Katie Mello

I am sure Katie's dog Bones got plenty of treats for putting up with her artistic endeavor - so don't bother commenting that he looks stressed. Greyhounds always look like that.

You wanna see stressed? The temperature is dropping and I know that my stoopid winter coat is lurking somewhere.

dog clothes are stoopid

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Be Sure to Wear Shorts

I ran across this ad awhile back and have been enjoying it ever since. Be sure you click on it to fully enjoy the art work and the heavy-handed imagery.

I appreciate the helpful reminder to us all about what a family looks like (but where's the dog?). I see they have wisely ditched their station wagon (and their .5 child... or maybe that is .5 on the right) in recognition of the perils of global warming.

click on image to enlarge

I am glad that all kinds of folks are thinking about the havoc reaped by human civilization. The more people thinking about solving global warming, the better. I mean that sincerely.

However, I am thinking these folks are planning on skipping this step to go straight to heaven. I am pretty sure my family won't qualify. So I think it is better to work on saving this world.

I love this part: "YOU ARE WARMLY INVITED TO COME AND LISTEN TO THE ANSWER" Get it? Warmly invited to come hear about global warming. Heh.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sign of Excellence

Here is a sensibly named business. Susan encountered this intelligent beagle logo for a computer repair store in Ann Arbor.

beagle brain - fast, affordable computer repair

Sunday, October 9, 2011

ThinkGeek Gems

Everyone around here loves reading catalogs of useless consumerism. Whether in flight contemplating a hot dog toaster, bathing in the syrup of adjectives in a Coldwater Creek catalog, or drooling over flavor descriptions of Meatwater (that would be me), my family enjoys snorting and barking at the worlds of useless products  - all the while beating back uncomfortable nigglings of awe and secret desires.

ThinkGeek is the perfect place to find useless products for every occasion. Their products are fun, their product descriptions hilarious and their tagline "Stuff for Smart Masses" is perfect. Smart masses. That's me... wait a minute!

On this lazy Sunday morning, Boy#1 found these gems of must-have items.

Tauntaun Sleeping Bag

Some of the best features of this cozy bag:
   - Classic Star Wars sleeping bag simulates the warmth of a Tauntaun carcass
   - Built-in embroidered Tauntaun head pillow
   - Plush Lightsaber zipper pull
   - Printed intestines pattern on inside of bag
   - Great for playing pretend "Save Luke from the Wampa" games
   - For indoor use only. Not suitable for camping. 

Can't think what to get your best frenemy? How about an alien facehugger plush?

Thanks to the thoughtfulness of Susan's sister, we actually own ThinkGeek's Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter. It is very sharp and performs its mundane raison d’ĂȘtre just fine. Susan says it is wasted in the handsome storage box and plans to hang it from the pot rack.

Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter

There are some misfires. This product is not amusing to me at all.  

Cat Tank Commando Play House

But this last product could really help me document just what silly and pointless products our two cats really are...

Pet's Eye View Digital Camera
But I think that is already pretty obvious.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

To Catch a Mouse

We have a mouse in our house.

I hate to break it to Susan...but I doubt mice come as singles.

This mouse is massive and slow. The floor shakes when it ambles by. Susan thought it was one of the cats when it first crossed her bedroom floor.

Seriously though, we have two residing cats in our house. We have mice. Ah, such irony! Prrrrr....

The cats have been on patrol for weeks now.

Sophie and Stuart on mouse patrol
They seem to be practicing a catch and release program. Dave said Stuart is like a cat version of Chauncey Gardiner from Being There.

Chauncey Gardiner
Stuart Mouser
OK, I understand they have no claws and have lived most of their hours indoors. But surely they could stop spitting the darn thing out every time they catch it. All that gives us is a wet mouse.

I know, I know...I am a top predator myself. And thank you, yes, I am an expert at rodent patrol. But someone would have to unlatch my crate door at night if they want to see how it is supposed to be done. All I can really do is lay there and watch the debacle, night after night.

The family has given up on the Non-Dynamic Duo. They got a real tomcat - a TOMCAT MOUSE TRAP. It has already caught one mouse. (Don't worry, it is a live trap. Dave let the hapless mouse go near the neighbors' who feed the squirrels. He figured there would be plenty of food there while the mouse made its own transition to life in the real world.)

Notice the difference between the new tomcat and our non-cats.


Not that I would EVER want a vicious tomcat living with me. I prefer the Dopey Duo over anything with claws. Nice kitties.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dew NOT Claws

When my Susan was a kid, back before the days of ubiquitous Internet images, she came across a black and white photo of the Guinness record holder of longest fingernails. That cringe-worthy image snagged itself in her mind as the perfect example of "just because you can, doesn't mean you should." Yet the little picture of the man with meandering nails hanging to his feet also seemed exotic and mysterious. A peek inside a dimly lit sideshow tent.

Back then, there was a sense that the man with the long nails had been discovered. Now it is clear having the longest nails is a commercial pursuit of fame. Record holders are displayed in countless full color photos, covering every angle. Let's face it, the mystery is mostly gone. But I think we all still wonder when we see oddball people. We are perplexed by people who choose to hamper their lives for a questionable sliver of record holder. Life is hard enough with trimmed claws. What possesses people to choose a disability like this? How did they start down such a path?

The new female longest fingernail record holder is also a Vegas singer.
Mostly, my claws get worn down form everyday life. I walk about 3-5 miles a day on pavement and rip around the dog park whenever I can. So it is usually just those pesky dew claws that grow too long and get in the way. As much as I hate Susan snipping at my claws, it is always a relief to get them out of the way so I can get back to running, digging, scratching and other daily dog activities.

How do people of long fingernails take care of everyday life? How do they eat, dress, go potty or drive a car? How have these nails not broken? Human fingernails are pretty fragile compared to dog claws and mine chip away all the time. Maybe there is superglue involved. But that would hardly be fair.

It is rare for dogs to have rear dew claws. But I do.

I wonder if these people started growing their claws because, like me, they loathed getting them trimmed. It is all I can do to concentrate on my peanut butter bribe when I see the claw trimmer come out. It should be noted that I have more claws than the average pup - having rare rear dew claws - so there is even more claw trimming for me to hate.

The male longest fingernail record holder
and the former female longest fingernail record holder
(who eventually lost her nails in a car crash
after growing them for 30 years).

For Susan, questions are overshadowed by the gag factor. She says curling, yellowed fingernails are just plain nasty. I am not so judgemental...I am thinking these folks could deliver a heck of a back scratch.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Goodnight Balloon?

Westin Hotels & Resorts suggest sleeping on a bed of balloons would be a restful, dreamy experience. The above ad is for their Heavenly® Bed which is engineered for a "good night's sleep" which will "reduce stress." Beautiful, sleeping woman demonstrates how this is supposed to look.

When I look at this picture, I hold my breath and pray she doesn't move. If she does, she will fall through the balloons and smother to death. Or they will POP! 

I know this about balloons. I had a very bad experience playing with a birthday balloon some years back. Now I know - balloons are NOT stress-reducers. When I see balloons, I know it is best to slink away and hide on another level of the house. 

I sure wouldn't sleep in Westin's Hellish® Bed - not for all the dog biscuits at Petco®.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Three Ball Dog

I am not a ball dog. I tried it once and it is not for me. Even the fuzzy balls are a poor imitation of a squirrel. Don't even get me started on the whole fetch thing. But I can still be impressed by my fellow canines' skills. There is no way I could do this!


Puli Rug

Here is a lovely rug for Puli lovers.

Like the Shar Pei Chair, this is a delightful intersection of design and essence of dog.  

I am not sure how one would vacuum this rug - but who cares about such nonsense? I can't decide if that is accent pillow on the righthand chair or a lap dog. I haven't the faintest idea what those white things on the table are. Hopefully coconut puffs.

Pulis are Hungarian herding and livestock guarding dogs with corded, virtually waterproof coats.
Puli in action. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Zombie Farmers

While I waited for Boys#1&2 to drop blueberry pancake bits this morning, this article in the morning paper grabbed my attention. 

I found it a chilling article for the Saturday morning Variety section. 

Maybe I have been reading too many of Boy#1's zombie books. But that hand is darn creepy with its undead fingernails. And that chicken wire ain't gonna keep that other zombie in for long!

Susan tried to assure me that it was an article about female farmers, sustainable agriculture and visiting children from a local charter school. 

Poor slob. 

She will be one of the first to go in the zombie apocalypse. "Oh, someone is at the door...I will go see who it is... Aaaaauuuuuugh!!!!"

Further investigation proved my initial suspicions were correct about the nature of this farm. I found these additional photos accompanying the online version of the article. Pretty dark for a "Lifestyle" article.

A new zombie farmer is created and left to season in the field.
Zombie farmers wear pink flip-flops? Who knew?
A zombie farmer probes the leaves for produce to sell
at the Zombie Farmers Market (Sundays 1-5)
Zombie farmers leave their fields to find lunch.
Zombie farmers have not yet mastered the art of peaceful conflict resolution.

Zombie farmers may be taking root at a farm near you.

More American Gothic parodies

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Bakery Worth Visiting

Some of my people were on a road trip this July and found this most excellent bakery. Stop by and check it out, if you are in Ankeny, Iowa. It looks to be a fine establishment.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happy Pup

I was looking through magazines the other day and came across this ad. For me, it was one of those "can't look away" ads. Is this really what people think a happy pup looks like? Yikes! Dawn of the Dead meets Stepford Wives.

OK,maybe there is some resemblance. 

Carmella at the dog park. Happy pup.
Of course, I would be a lot happier 
if someone handed me a can of Pringles.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's a wonder that I'm in this world at all

It was a quiet week. With the boys at camp, Susan and Dave wasted no time settling into a peaceful, kid-free routine centered around good food, completed conversations and a few unnecessary outings.

A necessary outing is fetching more peanut butter or taking the cats to the vet. An unnecessary outing is going to the Gillian Welch and David Rawlings concert. Why leave me here alone for the evening?

Why not just invite Gillian and David here for cocktails? I am sure they would be would be happy to come relax with us on the deck. I reckon they would sing real nice after a few of my Dave's Old Fashioneds. Or maybe they only drink moonshine.

Carmella and Gillian Welch relax on the deck.
If Gillian does come over, I will ask her to sing my favorite song about rescue dogs, No One Knows My Name.

Its' a wonder that I'm in this world at all.
It's a wonder that I'm in this world at all.
And I have a life to claim 
though I really don't know my name.
It's a wonder that I'm in this world at all.

Other than the unnecessary outings, Susan and Dave covered my dog walks well enough. I got to the dog park despite that wicked heat wave so I shouldn't complain too much. But I really missed my boys...

Boy#2 arrived home happy, tired and reeking of summer camp fun. Whatever it is they do at summer camp, it smells not unlike a nice swampy July day spent with the pack at the dog park. I wish they didn't feel the need to launder everything just as it passed the threshold. I wanted to roll and revel in it.. a virtual summer camp experience in a duffle. Mmmmmm...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Too Humid...

We woke up this morning to find our house windows completely fogged over -- on the outside. That's what you get when the humidity outdoors approaches Amazonian conditions and bumps up against our climate controlled box. This morning's walks were challenging. Panting just doesn't work that well when the air is almost liquid.

Boy#1 and Boy#2 are off at their respective water-based summer camps for wholesome, screen-free, boy fun. I am trying to look sufficiently bored to trigger a dog park outing...but so far, no takers. Susan and Dave haven't had a boy-free week in almost fifteen years and I am not sure how it will go. Maybe Susan will go adopt a puppy.

This isn't me.
I don't have any puppy pictures
since I was already one year old
when I  rescued my family from their dog-free existence.
But I think this is what I looked like as a puppy. 
I used to think I would like a puppy around the house. Someone always willing to play. But now that I have gotten older, I think I prefer to own the whole place. A puppy would want to sleep in my bed and chew up my toys -- or worse: chew up my bed.

I like my routines just as they are.

Well... I wouldn't mind more time outside, humid or not. I can always lay under the picnic table.

The trouble with folks around here is that they complain seamlessly, season to season about the weather. Too cold, too hot, too dry, too humid... I am surrounded by Goldilockses.

Can I just say that I find the whole Goldilocks as heroine rather baffling? She just waltzes in, messes everything up and runs away. And you are supposed to root for her. In my town, it is called "breaking and entering." Those bears should have had a good guard dog like me.

Interestingly, I have now learned that the original versions of the Goldilocks tale featured a nosy, old woman who often met a bitter end. But when the crafty Silver-Hair character became pretty Goldilocks the original punch of the morality tale was lost. Whatever the crime, I guess you can't really impale a golden-haired, little girl on the steeple of St. Paul's Cathedral (the way you apparently could do given a gnarly, elderly female. Real nice...)

Anyway... I just wish my family didn't want to sit on the deck only when the weather is "just right." I think most weather is worth enjoying.  Except for rain -- I hate rain... And really cold... And weather with fierce wind or loud thunder... and...