Stop chewing on your sister!

…is something I hope to not have to say to my new daughter.

Her four-legged sisters, on the other hand, hear this at least once a day. I’m constantly amazed by how many times those words come out of my mouth, especially considering that Meera makes her displeasure fully known and Lucy continues to chew on whatever body part she can reach at the time. Some dogs just never learn, I guess.

Meera has actually, physically sat on Lucy in an effort to make her leave her alone… and sometimes that doesn’t even work!

Little sisters. Ya gotta love ’em.

(Little brothers can be a pain-in-the-backside too – I have one of those – but I digress.)

We’re trying to get the girls used to spending longer amounts of time outside now that there are only two months until Baby Roo’s estimated arrival (two months??! only TWO MONTHS!!??), but it’s not working out exactly as planned.

After we finally got our fence put up a few weeks ago, we started letting them out to potty and then leaving them out for extended periods of time. They didn’t like that. In fact, they stopped asking to go outside at all, started having accidents in the house and, when forced outside, refused to leave the porch and would instead cry and whine and throw themselves at the back door for hours. (And yes, they do have dog houses and water and all the necessities out there for their use.)

So we changed tactics a bit. Now, we’re letting them out when they want to go out and back in when they want to come in in an effort to recreate trust in the yard and boost confidence that it is a good place to be.

It’s working… but only half way. Lucy seems to want to be outside. She sits at the back door and watches out the window. She wanders from the door to you and back again. She goes to the door when you stand up. But when you let her out… she comes right back in. She won’t stay outside by herself, even when that is obviously where she wants to be.

Meera, on the other hand, wants no part of the outside world and is perfectly happy pretending the yard does not exist. When I can get her to go out with Lucy, she sits on the porch sadly while Lucy plays by herself in the yard. (You see, Lucy doesn’t need Meera to go down and play with her. She just wants her to be outside at the same time.)

If I let Meera in, Lucy comes in too. Even when Lucy was obviously enjoying herself.

I don’t understand. Meera’s never been as much of a fan of the yard as Lucy, so that makes sense, but she’s never hated it quite as much as she does now. It’s the same yard, with the same space and same toys and same activities, watching the same neighbors go by, as before. It just has a fence around it now.

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. I really need them both to have those voice collars like Doug in the Pixar movie “Up!” so I can ask questions and they can answer me in human language and tell me what in the world is going on in their heads.

Maybe when Roo gets here and is keeping them awake with her screaming they’ll want to be outside. I don’t know. But they are going to have to start adjusting one way or the other, because the time is fast approaching when outside will be a normal thing – at least during the day.

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Train(s) of Thought

Isn’t it funny how the mind works? Stream of consciousness is an interesting rabbit hole to fall into when you really think about it. (Or should you think about it? Because if you think about thinking then you’re really using your brain to think about your brain and… Whoah… That hurts.)

Anyway. While I was in the shower tonight I was thinking about the episode of Gilmore Girls I just finished watching, which led to thoughts of journalism and how I’m sort of in journalism, which then led to my job and whether I will always like my job, then on to how to spice up my job on boring days, which leads us to office games and word of the day calendars. And then, somewhere in the midst of deciding what topic my word of the day calendar should have, my subconscious mind asked me a question.

How does word of the day toilet paper work?

…and this is where my train of thought finally got stuck, because here I am, half an hour later, still thinking about how word of the day toilet paper must work.

I mean, there are so many potential factors to consider.

What is a “standard amount” of toilet paper per person? What if you use toilet paper more than once a day? What if you’re not feeling well and you have a major bathroom incident and need to use more than the “standard amount” of paper?

Also, is this nice, thick, two-sheets-per-visit toilet paper that rich people buy? Or is this the paper-thin, need-a-whole-roll kind purchased by poor college students (and college employees, and colleges themselves, for that matter)? 

At first I was thinking it would be like a calendar, but that would be disasterous! What if you had an aforementioned bathroom incident and used two days’ worth of paper? Then it might be Sept. 21 in the real world but Sept. 23 on the roll! You could never fix that! Also, if it were like a calendar, you would have to be sure to buy the appropriate roll for the week you are currently in and put the rolls on in consecutive order so as not to get your Christmas-themed December words in the middle of October. 

And what would stores do with all the leftover August toilet paper on Sept. 1? Nobody wants outdated roll words. Such a faux-pas. 

And you’d definitely have to memorize your newfound vocabulary pretty quickly because once it’s been used, you’re not going to want to reference it again.

And you also have to consider the…

Oh, just a minute – I have to go to the bathroom.

The Slime Incident

Have you ever wondered what it would smell like if a tomcat peed on a dead frog, left it to bake in the sun for three days, and then smeared the still-gooey parts all over something you love?

I had not. But yesterday, I found out anyway.

The lunch hour started off as any other – I left work with one hour to take care of the dog and grab something to eat at the house. I got home, released the hound into the yard and let her do her business.

That’s when things started to go south.

The first time she rolled, I thought, “Ok, it’s hot, maybe whatever it is is dry enough that it won’t smell much.”

The second time she rolled, I yelled at her. (Can’t chase her, I’m in heels and dress clothes.) The third and fourth times I just held my breath and hoped there was some way this could end with me making my 2:00 meeting.

When she raced past me back toward the apartment door… I caught it. Just a whiff. Just a slight bit of scent that suggested something had died long ago and the spirit world had rejected its remains and sent them back to the land of the living.

She was waiting at the top of the stairwell when I reached her. And reached for her. And touched it.

Something – I hesitate to try to guess what – was sticky, and thick, and all over her shoulder, neck, collar, ear and face.

We went immediately to the bathroom.

I stripped out of my high heels and fancy office clothes and threw the bathroom rugs out into the hallway. I turned on the water and grabbed the first large container I could find. The dog had fled. I had 35 minutes left in my lunch break.

She wasn’t hard to find. Even if I hadn’t known she was hiding in her kennel, I would have smelled her a mile away. That box reeked to high heaven and I’m just glad she came out on her own rather than having to go in after her.

After three attempts, I trapped her in the bathroom. Now to get her into the tub. You have to remember, we’re not talking about a chihuahua here; we’re talking about a 70ish-pound dog who is two-thirds my body weight and very stubborn. I did, with some luck, manage to haul her into the tub without getting the goo of death all over me. I rinsed and rinsed and scrubbed her with green apple shampoo. She tried to escape. I shoved her back into the tub and rinsed some more. She was not happy. Twenty-five minutes left.

I ended up having to scrub her down twice because once was just not enough. She shook smelly water all over the bathroom in protest. Fifteen minutes left. I dried her off and put the towel straight into the washing machine. I dried myself and inspected my clothes to make sure I didn’t have any of the goo on me somewhere. I got re-dressed and bolted down two slices of leftover pizza before racing back to work.

I walked into my office as the meeting was starting. I am woman. Hear me roar.

How old am I?

Last week I was trying to figure out the age of an old friend and was using the ages of other old friends as benchmarks. The conversation with the Mister went something like this:

“So his brother was a sophomore when I was a junior, and he is a year older than my brother, and my brother is going to be … [math in my head] … 22… 22? That can’t be right, because I’m only… wait… how old am I?”

Yes. I actually and honestly did not know. The Mister said, “Well my birthday is on Sunday and I’m going to be 25, so that makes you….?” He waited for me to answer.

I didn’t.

“24,” he said. “That makes you 24.”

Oh. Really??

When did I reach a point in my life where I not only don’t really care how old I am, but I didn’t even KNOW when prompted?

I can’t figure out if that’s normal or just depressing.

I guess I don’t really need it anymore though. It’s been more than a decade (wow, can I really say decade?) since someone crouched down in front of me and asked, “And how old are you, sweetie?” I mean, sometimes people at doctor’s offices need to know for whatever reason, and I suppose I give them the right answer, but if I hadn’t been born in a year ending in 0 – thus making my age match the last digit of whatever year we are in – I probably wouldn’t even be able to do that.

I’m me. I’m a young adult. So does it really matter? I’m inclined to say no, because the next time I need to know, I’m just going to ask my husband because Mr. Smarty-Pants seems to keep up with that sort of thing.

[And no, I probably won’t know off the top of my head how old my children are either. They’ll just be “babies” or “toddlers” or “in middle school” or whatever other obvious stage they’re in at the time and that’s what I’ll have written on their birthday cakes too. It just makes everything easier.]

Happy Wednesday, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Didgeri-don’t

My husband helped somebody move last week, and when he picked me up from work that afternoon he had a strange object in the back seat.

“If you can guess what it is, I will be impressed,” he said.

I picked up the object and felt it through its long fabric sleeve. At 3-4 feet long, it was not completely straight and was open at both ends.

“I don’t know. Some sort of instrument?”

“Wow. You’ll never guess what kind.”

I took the first wild guess that came to mind. “A didgeridoo?”

The mister’s mouth fell open.

We own a didgeridoo. An actual, real life didgeridoo.

For those of you who don’t know (because why in the world would you?), a didgeridoo is basically a long smooth tube made of some sort of wood that aborigines play in Australia. [Picture courtesy of Google.] NO IDEA why the people Matt helped had one, but they were going to throw it out. So now we have it. Still not sure why….. but we at least found a good use for it the other night.

It drives our dog NUTS! (And probably all the other dogs in a five mile radius, although that hasn’t been confirmed.)

First off, I think the noise unnerves her. As it would most creatures, I think, since it sounds like a very long expulsion of gas from the body. (Colloquially known as a barking spider, squashed frog, bubble or fart.)

Secondly, she seems particularly disturbed by the fact that the noise does not seem to be coming from daddy himself. Instead, it’s coming from a hole several feet away from daddy, but that may or may not be attacking daddy via a long tube that’s eating his face. I think that would bother me too, if I were a dog. Actually, it sort of bothers me now.

The video below is for your personal viewing pleasure. Treat yourself to the musical inclinations of the mister and the mutt as they perform an inspired duet entitled, “Daddy, I will protect you from the evil noise-making thing as long as it doesn’t get too close to me.”

The didgeridoo creates a very deep noise, so you may not be able to hear it well on the video, but Meera’s reaction to it is definitely audible. Enjoy.

If a Tree Grows in the House, can it be Trusted?

We’re moved in! Yay! We have internet! Yay! We have our Christmas tree up! Yay!

Meera, however, is not so pleased.

We moved the furniture up last Thursday and left Meera with the in-laws until the weekend, when she returned with us on Sunday afternoon. She whined in the backseat of the car for an hour until finally either deciding it wasn’t so bad or simply resigning herself to whatever fate awaited her. She wasn’t too sure about the apartment at first either, but I think she has decided it’s not so bad either. There is a big comfy chair to sit in (which she has apparently decided belongs to her) and a long driveway to drag Mommy down when we check the mail, so that seems to make it better.

I feel really bad that we weren’t able to find anything where she would have a fenced yard, and I know she has to be bored out of her mind in this tiny space, but she was an apartment dog before and she’ll learn to be one again. Eventually. But until then she’ll drive me nuts trying to trip me every time I turn around.

She’s also very confused by the Christmas decorations. She isn’t exactly afraid of the Christmas tree…. but she isn’t thrilled by its presence either. She refuses to linger in that corner and sometimes stops and looks at it with distrust. A tree in the house? That’s just not normal.

Although she does like wrapping paper. A little too much, actually. I was trying to wrap a few presents earlier and spent the first five minutes wrestling the roll away from her. She thinks it’s a giant, wonderful chew toy that she must chase around the floor as I try to move it. I’m not sure if she was trying to help or just trying to prevent me from being festive, but either way it made for a pretty good video.

Her biggest issue, however, is with the linoleum at the top of the apartment stairs. We have carpet in our apartment itself, but the inner hallway that leads from the parking area to our front door has linoleum at the top… and it petrifies her. She spent the first year and a half of her life living in houses with completely tiled floors, so you wouldn’t think this would be an issue… but now that she’s experienced carpet she hates to walk on anything else. At the in-laws’, she refused to cross the hardwood kitchen floor without bribery. Here, she sneaks to the front door and stops, tentatively lowers one paw to the tile, and then, without warning, sprints across the upper landing to the stairs so she has to spend as little time on the linoleum as possible. Unfortunately, I am attached to her when she does this, which results in much skidding of paws and yelling for her to slow down. I’m sure my neighbors love this.

We haven’t met any of the neighbors yet except in brief passing, but I know there are at least five other dogs in the complex and two children. And a cat… but the cat was lying in a dog house when I saw it, so I’m not completely sure it belongs here.

I start work tomorrow and the Mister has a good chance of starting work at a vaccine/research company in the next town over, so fingers crossed that will work out. We only have one car at the moment, so figuring out who has to drop who off and who has to leave work early to pick who up and take them where at what time will be incredibly complicated until we can get that issue resolved.

Prayers always appreciated. Holiday wishes and wet doggy kisses from the Nut House!

/the missus

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Compromises must sometimes be made…

The Dynamics of Dog-dom

The Chesnut dog kingdom is an evolving society, played out on a complicated four-legged stage, largely for the amusement of the two-legged audience. Let’s introduce the players:

Rosie – The oldest member of the yard at eight years of age, Rosie is the queen-bee of this society. She knows all the procedures, expects the best of all her humans and does not do anything she doesn’t want to do. She has been known to look down her nose (which is difficult, considering her sheltie head is only about two feet off the ground) at newcomers and still considers herself to be above her boy’s wife (me) in the pecking order. She is dainty and regal and carries herself with an air of authority. Rosie’s primary role in the yard is to patrol for cats and bark at her humans’ cars as they leave. She is the brains of most operations.

Lexie – Lexie is technically the “middle child,” although she is by far the smallest of the lot. This tiny sheltie is about five years old and easily frightened because of her small size. She has as much hair as she does actual body mass and is the primary look-out for the return of the humans’ cars, emitting a squeaky bark to alert Rosie when the people have returned. While never the primary aggressor when cats and other intruders approach, she will run after Rosie and defend her back from 10-15 feet away as a show of support. Lexie is a known thief and her favorite activity is to sneak into closets and bathrooms and steal anything that smells good and hide it around the house.

Meera – Meera is the youngest of the yard at less than two years old, but is the largest and fastest of the group. She is the primary muscle of most activities, using her loud, echoing bark to threaten intruders and birds and surprising them with her incredible speed. She is also the one who creates the most trouble and has made the dainty shelties hear the dreaded word “NO” more times in the past month than they’ve heard in their entire lives. She is not incredibly smart, and the shelties have learned to use this to their advantage.

For example: Meera has a perfectly good doghouse and I’ve seen her go into it – so I know that she knows that it’s there – but she can’t seem to figure out under what circumstances she should use the doghouse (like when it’s raining). [Side note: This gives a whole new clarity to the phrase “doesn’t have the sense God gave a goat,” because the goats next door go into the barn when they are cold and wet, while our dog ignores her dry doghouse and sits in the rain instead.] We had hoped she would eventually get tired of being wet and follow the shelties’ example, but instead the plan has somewhat backfired. Instead of Meera learning to sleep in her doghouse, the shelties have learned that if they DON’T sleep in their doghouses (and instead sit by the back door with Meera and be cold and wet and miserable) we will eventually have pity on the stupid one and bring her inside… thereby giving the shelties a free pass into the big house as well.

Oh how they know us.

Meera has also developed the bad habit of pulling over Lexie’s food barrel and eating to her heart’s content. We fixed the stealing problem with a heavy-duty bungee cord, so now instead of eating the food she drags the can across the yard and chews on the lid in frustration. (She’s not hungry. We feed her well. She’s just bored.) This morning we had to have a come-to-Jesus meeting about that. And wouldn’t you know that not FIVE MINUTES after I came back inside, I looked out the window and saw her pull the thing over again. We had to have another talk about her attitude. And she KNOWS that’s why I’m mad at her! Because she jumps around all happy to see me and then the closer I walk to the barrel the lower she slinks to the ground. She knows!! People who tell me she doesn’t know what she’s doing and doesn’t know why she’s in trouble are wrong, because she definitely knows that I’m going to be mad about the trash can.

Rosie has also trained Meera to chase the cat from the yard behind us. Meera’s never really had a problem with cats before, but Rosie hates cats and Meera is Rosie’s minion. Generally how it works is that Rosie sees the cat first and sends up the alarm; Meera takes off toward the back fence at rocket speed; Rosie observes from the middle of the yard, where she can help and give directions as necessary; Meera eliminates cat; Meera does victory lap around the yard; Rosie goes triumphantly back to her porch chair and goes back to sleep without having had to do very much work. All hail Queen Rosie.

All the while Lexie is dancing around the perimeter barking encouragements and trying not to get run over by the great gray bullet.

Rosie is too old for rough dog play, and quite frankly is too dainty to play even if she weren’t eight years old. Lexie plays primarily by keep-away, both by taunting Meera to chase her and then running behind furniture and by stealing clothing and keeping it away from its human owner. Meera, on the other hand, wants to tackle and tumble and wrestle and basically roll around in a fur-flying frenzy with anything that moves. So, since her sheltie sisters won’t wrestle with her, she tries her best to play with the goats next door. They are of course separated by a fence, but Meera will run along the fence where the goats are eating and bark at them, puppy butt in the air and tail wagging furiously. The female goats don’t seem to pay her any mind and continue their eating, but Meera and the big billy goat have become strange buddies. The billy will come right up to the fence and allow Meera to stick her head through the gap and smell him right in the face, and he will grunt back at her when she barks. It’s an odd friendship, but they seem to make it work.

Meera went from having a tiny strip of grass that she couldn’t roam without a leash because of the gardeners, to having more than 1/2 an acre of open yard with tons of trees and wood piles to smell and places to dig and birds and cats to chase… and yet her favorite thing to do is climb up on the couch and nap with her legs in the air. Silly dog. I guess you just can’t change the court jester.