Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye, this last year. Hello, Earth's Last Year.

Well folks, this is my last post of 2011.

According to the much-hyped Mayan calendar, the world will end on 12/21/2012, and that knowledge has influenced my New Year's Resolutions.

  • Eat whatever.  But don't gain too much weight, because I still want to be a fairly svelte specimen when an alien species unearths my corpse in a few millenia from the Vesuvius-style ruins.
  • Drink more beer.  Alcohol makes a great preservative.
  • Get a tattoo for identification purposes.
  • Take up running, and enroll in a wilderness survival course.  I may as well give myself a sporting chance.
  • Continue doing laundry semi-regularly.  Because who wants to die in dirty underpants?
So, folks, what'll it be?  Geothermal flares?  Volcanic eruptions?  Asteroids?  Pestilence?  Robots?  And what, if anything, are you doing to prepare?

Oh, yeah, and it's not too late!  Email your pet's Ugly Sweater Photos to, and you might win a $10 pet store gift card!!!  (To be honest, your likelihood at this point of winning is almost certain...)

(True:  The 12/21 date may actually be a "give-or-take-60-days" appointment, which makes waiting for the cable guy seem pretty reasonable.)

Trapper has already proved he is ready to survive anything, and will come out the other side tail wagging.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hops in the Right Direction: Pass the Salt, Please!

It's unseasonably warm in Chicago right now (a balmy 45 degrees), but theoretically, 'tis the season for snow and ice.  And since we as a species unfortunately do not hibernate until mid-May, we're going to be encountering some salt.

Salt has been, you know, kind of important in history.  With food preservation possible, one's diet didn't depend on what was available that season.  Roman soldiers may have been received part of they pay as salt, which is where the word "salary" comes from.  You can be "the salt of the earth" or "worth your salt."

You know all those town in England that end in "wich"?  They're associated with brine wells.  Just think, without salt, you might be eating a sandhill for lunch instead of a sandwich.

When it comes to walking your dog, though, you're probably not thinking about any of that.  (Except maybe the sandwich part.)

The kind of salt used on sidewalks and roads is laden with chemicals that are brutal to your skin and your dog's feet, and if you live in a region with seasons, it's pretty much unavoidable.  Maybe I worry too much, but what can I do if Prada's foot starts cracking and bleeding?  Getting around on three legs isn't a problem, but if she's down to two...

Well, I recently learned that sidewalk salt can be roughly divided into two categories:  the rocky kind, and the beady kind.  The rocky kind has lots of chemicals and can hurt your dog's feet.  The beady kind is way, way worse.  If you look down the sidewalk and the entire block has beady salt, you might want to consider crossing the street.

I have written about my thoughts on dog boots--a good idea for athletic dogs who tend to get snow balled painfully in between their paw pads, but dogs don't tend to be a fan.  Prada wouldn't move in them at all.  Paw wax is one option, to give a thin layer of protection, and I've discovered there is such a thing as paw balm, for soothing already irritated pads.  (All natural ingredients are non-toxic, so if your dog licks at it, no big.)  You can also use a damp washcloth the wipe off the worst of the salt and chemicals.  I've also heard good reviews about this product for messier paws, though I haven't tried it myself.

This isn't exactly a life-or-death situation--dogs' paws are made to handle all kinds of terrain, after all--but it's a good idea to be aware of the environment, and pay attention that their feet aren't getting too abused over the winter months.

Trapper's story is a very sad one.  He was found with his leg caught in an animal trap, and the first shelter he was brought to, where he spent a week, wasn't able to give him proper vet care.  He developed tetanus, and still needed a proper amputation.  He has since had that surgery.  His leg has now been entirely removed--no stump for an athletic dog to beat up, and no more tetanus, either.  With lots of care and love, he is finally ready to be adopted.  Even if you can't consider that, you might consider donating a small amount to help cover his medical bills.  This happy, loving guy is lucky to have a second chance, and with our help, he'll hopefully find his happily ever after.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Dude. I am an award-winning writer!  Which is, if not one step closer to me being famous and too rich to do my own laundry which would happily result in my consistently having clean laundry, then at least it's one step closer to there not being anything between the "fivelegsbetweenus" and the ".com".

I was nominated by Brian R Christensen of Unintimidated by Convention.  He's awesome, and not just because he thinks I'm cool.  He posts on everyday kinds of things in a fresh, funny way, like in this post, which is one of my favorites but makes me feel weird in public bathrooms.

Here's how it works. When you get the Versatile Blogger, you're supposed to do the following:

1) Nominate 15 other bloggers

2) Inform them of the nomination

3)  Share 7 random things about yourself

4) Thank the blogger who nominated you; and 

5) Add the Versatile Blogger logo to your post


So, without further ado:

Fifteen nominations?  Really?  I hardly even know that many people, and most of those that blog are, you know, cooler than me and already have tons of awards and books deals and metal chickens and things.  But I've got a few undiscovered gems to reveal...

Gem A:  seabeegirl  Are you familiar with her?  You should be.  She talks about everything from music and art to Lord of the Rings and video games--she's interested in everything, it seems.

Gem B:  When Curiosity Met Insanity  Bri_chan and zippitydodah27 are two extremely talented artists and storytellers who have made me snort snot out of my nose because I'm laughing harder than is safe.  Truth is, they're big-time, but everybody should know them.

Gem C:  blatherbybubbe is everything you could want from a blogger:  She is entertaining and insightful; she hones things down to what I would miss amongst all the drama.  Basically, she's one of the coolest bubbes I know, and you probably should know her, too.

Also a Gem, but not a blog I'm nominating because I'm pretty sure the blogger wouldn't take the award seriously coming from me, but hey, this is my big opportunity to talk up blogs I like:  He's smart, he has great taste, knows a lot about sports and watches some fairly terrible movies.  Show him some love.

Now I've got to go let all these gemmies how much I lurv them....

Okay I'm back.

Prepare yourself for...

Seven Random Things

1.  I have a birthmark on my neck that looks like a hickey.  That is unfortunate.

2.  I have some weird food allergies.  Diet soda makes me lose time, and ice cream makes me drunk.

3.  As a kid, I had a neighbor whose name was Mr. Bus.  He drove the bus.

4.  You know how when you read a fortune cookie fortune and add "in bed" at the end, it becomes funnier?  My grandma taught me that.

5.  I sometimes dream entirely in green.

6.  I was that lucky little girl every little girl wants to be.  I had a pony.  She could open doors and was a foster mom to many kittens.  The kittens grew up very confused.

7.  There is a museum near my hometown that showcases a four-legged quail and a two-headed piglet.  This museum was a regular feature of school field trips.

And finally...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Brian, for the nomination.  I am so honored.

Willow and Sammy are gemmies as well, but maybe you could tell them that yourself.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Am an Accidental Grinch.

You guys.  You guys.

I almost accidentally ruined Christmas twice in a six-hour span.  No joke.

First, the infamous camera.  I could have sworn I had told my parents I wanted a camera, but I was going to tell The Squeeze too, so maybe they would want to powwow with him.  Likewise, I told The Squeeze I wanted a camera and that he should powwow with my parents.

The Squeeze gave me an awesome camera.  I was telling my folks about it, and discovered my dad had as well, going so far as to look for a specific, hard-to-lose color (he knows me so well), charging the battery, and getting an idea of how it worked.  I felt bad, my parents felt bad, I shared the badness with The Squeeze, and he felt bad, too.

It was bad.

No sooner had I stopped sniffling than it was time to go to church for the Christmas Eve service, where I was going to be singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" a capella from the hymnal.

Well, apparently our hymnal doesn't include that hymn.  I didn't discover this until about five minutes before the service began.  I spent the entire sermon flipping through the hymnal, looking desperately for a song I knew well enough to do without any practice a capella.  Sorry, Baby Jesus.

But, because the Jeez is a forgiving sort, it all turned out okay.

At church, well, those people have known me since before I was potty-trained, so if I was awful, they were kind enough not to say so.

 And my dad, being a very good sport and a very gracious man, returned the camera and got me a Dremel, which is one of the coolest things I have ever owned.  We had fun playing with it on Monday.  It has a lot of accessories.

Me:  What is this?

Dad:  A grinder.

Me:  What is this?

Dad:  A different grinder.

Me:  What is this?

Dad:  A sander.

Me:  This is so cool!  (Maybe I should be writing this down.)

(True:  I have asked for and been very excited over some rather unique gifts in my time.  I.e., The American Heritage Collegiate Dictionary and a new tool box.  But clearly I'm not the only one asking for brow-raising gifts:  The Squeeze's grandma asked for trouser socks.)

Oooh, and there's still a week to enter the Ugly Sweater ContestEmail me at!

Willow and Sammy are also less likely to come home with giant Ikea bags of dirty laundry than some bloggers I know.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh Hey, Guess What?

The Squeeze and I exchanged gifts last night, because we're each spending Christmas with our respective families.  And guess what I got?

A camera!!!


Now you might get pictures that are only bad because of my photography skills, not because of my crappy cell phone!


And just a reminder:  This will be my last post before Christmas--this weekend is a great opportunity to embarrass your dog by entering them in the Ugly Sweater Contest!  Email your photos to

(True:  Once, when I was living in London, I took a good picture.  It was of an architectural detail, a demon on a doorway.  I wonder if that means anything...)

Willow and Sammy are photogenic, though, aren't they?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hops in the Right Direction: An Ounce of Prevention

In this post, I mentioned I've recently met with some people who I hoped would provide me with some new thoughts for my Hops posts, and one of them is Melissa, the wonderful, warm woman behind Zerimax, a company that sells seat belts designed especially for dogs.  The idea came to her after an awful accident in which her dog, Max, was severely injured.

I admitted to not knowing much about seat belts for dogs, and through a series of emails, we conducted an informal sort of interview (okay, we also talked about Aaron Rodger's butt, so it might have been more "chat" than "interview.")

I don't know much about doggie seat belts--can you fill me in?
Unfortunately, only about 2% of people use dog seatbelts, but there are a lot of different kinds out there for people to choose depending on their dog breed, weight, etc.  Basically the same logic that goes for people applies to dogs; we know that statistically we have  better chance of surviving an accident if we are buckled in vs. being thrown.  Also when a dog is thrown they turn into a small missile and can injure others in the car.  A 10lb dog has the force of 80lbs just going 40mph.  Overall the same rules that you would follow for a baby apply here too, so ideally you want to put them in the back seat, not in the front because of the airbags. 

The reasons that people don't use dog seatbelts vary from simply not being aware that they exist, to thinking it's an extra hassle (not convenient), and to lack of consistency (where the dog wins out) since they would rather sit on your lap.  But the reality is that with a little effort, some rescue remedy (natural Valium for dogs), and choosing a mechanism that fits with your lifestyle/car, etc. it can be done.  

It looks like your seat belt is just for small dogs--do bigger dogs have different needs?  
I developed a mechanism, the Doggie Seatbelt, that works with your small dog's existing harness (little dogs should wear harnesses vs neck collar because of their fragile bones and trechea).  It basically attaches to you car seatbelt; then you clip them in, where you would attach the leash.  Most seatbelts have the harness built in and there are two issue with that:

1. Little dogs have drastically different body shapes, so it's tough to get a good fit, Max would wiggle out of them.  

2.  If your dog already uses a harness, then you have to take their harness off or put it on top, which is not comfortable for them.  

So by being able to just use the existing harness, it makes easier which leads to more consistency.  Though, as I looked into the market place I found some great options for larger dogs that have quality assurance (i.e., testing), which I have started selling on my site as I got so many requests for a larger dog option.  I'm actually about to add the Bergen line.  

Here you can see the product options.

You mentioned that Illinois should be the sixth state to require seat belts for dogs.
Well that is a long term goal of mine, but I have just started digging into it, so a lot more to come on that.  To date I've spoke to two lobbyists and a lawyer from the SBAC, and it seems that passing this law by itself isn't likely, but it could be tagged on to something around Distracted Drivers/texting & driving, something bigger that already has momentum.  My next step is to do some research in the 5 states that have the law to find out just how they did it.   As much as it sucks to have move to laws, that process takes time (hence why this is a long term goal), and ultimately if passed it brings awareness with it.  Think about how the buckle in campaign for humans still continues to date, and it's been around for lots of years.  My short term goals are around bringing awareness of the options and  to educate people on how to to chose the right product as well as training your dog successfully.  My plans for the Spring/Summer dog events is to bring a car (instead of just doing a boring table), hopefully a cool convertible,  and I'll bring the different seatbelt options so owners and dogs can test out different seatbelts and hopefully find one that works for them.

Since he regained the use of his legs, have you had to make any adjustments to accomodate for him?  Yes, more right after the accident, but still to date, I consider him a special needs dog.  Initially we had get a new crate for him (we hadn't crated him in years), so that was mentally tough for him, since he was used to roaming the house and we also had to keep him in the crate at night (the first week I slept on the floor with him).

Now we have stairs for him up to the bed, got a bunch of rugs and carpets in our condo that was mostly hardwood floors since he still slips easily.  And not a big deal since he's little, but we have to carry him up long flights of stairs, as he can only do a few (it's a momentum thing).   

The big one was his loss of control with both #1 and #2.  When we would get home he would just start peeing everywhere.  The peeing got back in control within a few months, the #2 is still sometimes sporadic, and it's like it just pops out  - he's like what happened and looks around!    So yes I've been pooped on a lot!  (I asked her about this in person.  She shrugged.  "It's organic.") 

As you know, I am a big advocate for giving dogs with altered mobility a second chance through adoption, and I like to think of myself as a conscientious dog owner, but I had never before considered Prada's safety in the car beyond having a bed that she was trained to stay in.  Melissa's product is a common-sense solution to an issue that too many pet owners simply never think about.

Let's make 2012 a safer year for our pets to travel.


Willow and Sammy are a bonded chihuahua mix pair.  Willow, who doesn't use her fourth leg, is the cuddlebug; Sammy is the spritely one.  They have room in their hearts for a very special person--do you have room in you heart for them?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not to rub it in, but I am completely done with my holiday shopping.  Now all that remains is the actual work part:  wrapping.  I take my wrapping very seriously.  Every year, my wrapping paper coordinates.  I buy spools and spools of ribbon, and make my own bows.  (Store-bought bows?  Please.)  It can take up to three yards of ribbon to trim one package.  I also will use buttons, silk flowers, feathers, and glitter glue for trimmings.  Who doesn't love glitter glue?  Wrapping one package can take up to twenty minutes, though I have gotten quicker over the years.  (The trick lies entirely in glue dots.  Best.  Invention.  Ever.)

I am like the Martha Stewart of gift-wrapping.  Except I've never been to prison.

Of course, I've also never been wealthy--maybe there's a correlation there.

(True:  Maybe I'll post pictures of some of my packages later.  Then you can all admire the blurs and use your imagination--is that fuzzy blob a ribbon?  Or Prada the Puff?)

It's not too late!  Email your Ugly Sweater photos to me at!

Rusty is dreaming of a white Christmas in a warm new home.
Speaking of bows, Rusty would look fantastic in one, especially if he were under your tree.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Be Safe

Warning:  if you are expecting the funny, you are going to be disappointed.  I am not a good enough writer to address the issue of sexual violence with any sort of levity.  Be prepared instead for lots and lots of righteous anger.

Reading articles like this and blog posts like this make me angry.  Not at the writers--I appreciate their sentiments, concern, and willingness to take some flak to start a conversation that needs to be conversated.  What makes me angry is that I follow the Rules to Not Get Raped.  I dress pretty darn conservatively, and only "cheat" occasionally when I go out with multiple trusted friends.  I've taken self-defense courses.  I carry pepper spray, and even sometimes carry my keys between my fingers.  I live in and visit only "nice" neighborhoods.  I only stop at well-let gas stations when I'm driving at night, never at rest stops.  When opening the door for strangers, I keep the chain lock engaged until I know what I'm dealing with.

I'm lucky.  I haven't been assaulted.

And that has nothing to do with my having followed the "rules."

I was following the rules when a guy I was seeing in college threatened me.  I am angry that I still wonder sometimes what I did to allow that.  I was flirting--did I encourage him?  I wore a push-up bra--did I encourage him?  I kissed him--did I encourage him?

Then I remember that I spent the next three days cowering in my room because my roommate was out of town, and with the guy living in the same building, I was afraid even to leave to go to the bathroom.  I had asked him to leave when I started feeling uncomfortable.  When that didn't work, I firmly told him to leave.  Then I demanded.  I'd made it more than clear that I did not want to be treated that way.

I am angry that when my boyfriend is going out alone at night, I say "Be safe," and mean "Make good decisions."  And when I tell a girlfriend who is going out alone at night, I say "Be safe," but it's a prayer instead of a directive.

I'm angry that I have, on occasion, chosen to stay home rather then go out alone at night.

I'm angry that I have to wonder if wearing a ponytail is tantamount to "asking" for it to be grabbed, and I'm angry that having very short hair made me a target for disparaging and sometimes frightening comments about my supposed sexual preference.

I'm angry that I am expected to always be aware of my surroundings and the people in them.  I'm angry that I feel I have to.

I'm angry at how often I've been made to feel dirty or guilty because of how other people have looked at me, talked to me, touched me.

I'm angry that this is my reality, and I'm one of the "lucky" ones.  I've never been assaulted.

I'm horrified that for other women, the reality is so much worse.

My friends:  Please, this holiday season, be safe.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Squeeze is Getting a Bipedian Dictionary for Christmas

In a pasty shop in Edinburgh, I overheard the man in front of me place an order for "a plain one, and an onion one, also."  It sounded like "Ah 'na plen 'un en an unun 'un ow."  No joke.  The tour guide with me had to translate.  Apparently, that was, in fact, English.

I also speak English (along with a smattering of Frisian curses).  And apparently, I also occasionally need a translator.  Who knew a Midwestern accent could be so incomprehensible?

For example:  On the way home from dinner one evening, The Squeeze asked me if I'd liked my meal.

"Yeah," I said.  Except, in Wisconsin, it is perfectly acceptable to turn the "y" into its own syllable by adding a schwa in front.  One can also end the word with a glottal stop, like the one in between syllables in the negative "nuh-uh."  This lead to my "yeah," sounding like "a-yugh."

The Squeeze heard "yuck." 

Bit of difference, there.

Last night, I mentioned that I was tired.  I do not pronounce this as "tye-erd," but rather as "tahyrd."  The long "e" sound is only touched on at the end, and very briefly.  So briefly, in fact, that it can be missed all together.

The Squeeze heard "tard," and proceeded to spell it out in what he thought was an approximation of my accent. 

"Tee Oooh Arrrrh Dee."

He says this was meant to spell "tarred," and his intention was not to call me a turd.

Well, we'll just see what ends up under the tree, won't we?

My thoughts exactly, Rusty.
(True:  Even something grammatically incorrect can be linguistically correct, as long as it is understandable.  Apparently, I can write but not speak.  Either way, sentences should not be minivans.)

Rusty agrees: There is nothing wrong with short but sweet--just like him.  (Also, can I just say how impressed I am at his ability to balance on two legs and lift the third that high?)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Country Biped Goes to Town

I'm from a small town--thirty people, one intersection, one bar, twelve houses. Now I live in an artsy-fartsy suburb of Chicago, which in some ways, still feels like a small town, albeit one where you can get french fries after nine p.m.

I don't actually go into the city all that often, but last night was an exception. I attended Pamper Your Pet and Yourself downtown with Prada, and we had a blast.  Prada got her nails done, a massage, and a treat bag full of goodies.  She handled it like a pro--loving the attention to the point that she even once left the carpeted area to meet someone new.  She even held still for some photos!  (If I can track them down, I'll post them.)

I, on the other hand, am socially inept and country bumpkined my way through the evening.  I got my nails done; it was only the second time I'd had them done professionally.  I chose red polish.  It was a bad decision.  My hands are kind of pink, and the polish left my hands looking like a bad valentine.  All that's missing are some paper doilies.


I also had my very first massage.  I'd been nervous about it, because I have a real issue with strangers touching me, especially my back.  I have some crossed wires in my nervous system, so if you touch my shoulder, I might feel your touch in my lower back or behind my knee as well.  It's weird.  Two glasses of wine on an empty stomach really helped, though.  I think I only flinched once or twice.  (Note:  when I start drinking red wine, which I sort of hate, it means I'm desperate and probably about to make a fool of myself.)

A very nice woman waxed my eyebrows, and didn't even smirk at the fact that I'm half Neanderthal, half orangutan, all Bert-y.

I also met some very nice people you may be hearing from in later posts, as I sort of brow-beat (pun!) them into agreeing to let me interview them.  Yay!

(True:  When she was born, My Sister the Lawyer's hair looked just like Bert's.  When I was born, mine looked like Ernie's.  But I've never really cared for rubber ducks.)

(P.S.  Don't forget to send your entry for the dogs' Ugly Sweater Contest!  Email your photos to .)

Hands down, Rusty would love to be your valentine.

Rusty would look swell in a sweater, but he's a pretty tough guy. The cold doesn't bother him, especially if it's cold on the way to a car ride! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hops in the Right Direction: Baby, It's Cold Outside! (So Enter Your Dog in an Ugly Sweater Contest and Win Stuff!)

I'm a pretty girly girl, and of course Prada is as well.  Prada's closet (okay, her recycled shoebox) is pretty well-stocked.  Not with dresses or super-frilly things, but it gets cold in Chicago and she's a wimpy little lap dog even if she doesn't know that, so she does have several sweaters and a heavier coat.

Like pretty much everything with Prada, getting her a coat was a process of trial and error.  The first coat I got her was a nice heavy one with fleece lining.  Two straps--one around the neck and another around the belly--were velcro-equipped to hold it onto her.  It slid right off down her side.  As it turns out, a dog needs both front legs in order to hold that style into place.  Now she's got one with two separate leg holes--only one leg required to hold it in place.  This is probably fairly obvious, but not something I'd ever had to consider before.  I will be adding a patch to cover the remaining leg hole--that scar is still temperature-sensitive, so it would be pretty silly to keep her warm everywhere but where she's coldest.

Sweaters shouldn't have "arms."  The extra one gets caught on brush and things in the yard and when we're walking, and generally is a pain.  I really like the inexpensive ones that just have slits for leg holes--it's really easy to tack the extra one closed.  (It looks a little goofy, anyway, having all that fluff sticking out of the hole.)

On a related note, I've seen several alarming things for pets on the market lately relating to cold weather. 

First, scarves.  Really?  Really?  You know that's useless, right?  Also, it seems like a choking hazard.--what if those long ends get caught on something while the dog is running?  She could seriously hurt herself.

Second, Uggs.  Ugh.  I've had really active dogs that end up with sore feet because snow balls up in between the pads of their feet, so I get the necessity of boots for some dogs.  However, those are made especially for paws, so they won't fall off, and stick as close as possible to the natural shape of their feet.  These Ugg-styles don't have those features--they seem to be an accessory, not a neccesity.  I've yet to meet a dog that likes wearing boots.  Those that do, walk really funny in them, at least at first--and those are the good ones.  Put a dog with questionable balance like Prada in Uggs, and I feel it's probably an accident waiting to happen.

I'm all for making your dog look cute.  Want to put bows in her hair?  Okay.  A bedazzled collar?  Fine, whatever.  A snarky t-shirt?  Cool!  But putting your dog into something potentially dangerous, especially when they are going to be outside and in any way active, doesn't seem like a great idea to me.

Let me know what you think!  Do you know anyone who has used these products and loves them?  Have you ever put a dog in boots?  Most importantly, have you ever entered your dog in an Ugly Sweater Contest?  Now's your chance!  Email your photo to, and in early January (after the holiday madness), I'll choose a winner to recieve a $10 Petsmart or Petco giftcard!

(Also, I would love to hear your thoughts:  Anything you want to hear about on Hops in the Right Direction?  Any questions about your three- or four-legged friend?  Any adoptable dog you'd like to see sponsoring a post?  Email me!)

(Also also:  I have used too many exclamation points in this post.  And the title of this post.  Sorry.  I'm just so excited!!!!)

No sweaters needed if we cuddle in bed!

This week's posts are brought to you by Rusty, an adoptable chihuahua who best likes his beds and snuggle buddies warm, especially if something good is on TV.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ack! Ick! Ugh!

Just a quick post today because I have three jobs, and my only time to blog is my lunch hour, but today I'm being taken out for lunch. By the owner of one of the companies whose products we sell. He's old, and only ever takes out us "ladies of lighting." We're sort of like a professional harem. In any case, free lunch is at least worth mascara. And concealer, because I have the Mount Vesuvius of zits on my chin. You can probably see it from space, it's so big. Ugh.

On the plus side, someone gave me flowers today. Pretty ceramic ones for my desk. So I'm going to think about that instead.

I don't need a mirror to know I'm pretty.

Nikita wouldn't care what my face looks like right now.  She wouldn't care about yours, either, if you're willing to give her a cuddle.  In any case, look at her.  She's going to be the prettiest girl in the room regardless.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Defensive Karaoke Part Two: Yes, This Really Happened

Being a KJ can be hazardous.  You might be shocked into muteness.

For example, a guy is singing "Piano Man," and he's actually not half bad.  You're looking around to see if the next person on your queue is around or has gone out for a smoke.  Looking back at the person singing, you realize that his pants are around his skinny hipster ankles.

I took several education courses in college.  I spent an entire day learning how to give the Evil Teacher Eye, so that naughty kids take you seriously and stop whatever irritating thing they are doing.  I use this lesson regularly in karaoke, but this is one of the few times I had to accompany it with words.

"You need to put your pants on right now.  Right now.  Or you can leave without them."

Apparently, I made this threat sound so scary, that poor skinny kid apologized to me not once, not twice, but four times over the course of the night, and has never shown his face or his boxer briefs at the bar again.

(True:  I will wear pants or skirts or dresses, but I do not wear shorts.  Ever.  I don't know why.)

Nikita's got her eyes closed because she doesn't want to see those skinny white legs, either. But she would take some snuggles if you have any handy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm About to Make a Million Dollars

People often say that fresh out of the bath, their small dog looks like a drowned rat.  Prada, of course, is way too glamorous for that.

Sometimes, people say that dogs and their people look alike.  Again, Prada is too flashy for such a comparison. 

There is someone specific that she looks like, though...  I'll let you guess.  Here's a reference picture for you:

I've mentioned I'm a terrible photographer, right?  Use your imagination.

Put her in tight pants and a frilly shirt, a leather jacket with a really, really big collar.  Add plenty of makeup (or not).  A guitar might help.  I'd sprinkle her liberally with glitter, but that's just me.  The eyebrows are perfect, though, don't change them a bit.

Have you got it?


Fine, then.

With a look-alike this perfect, Hollywood is going to come calling any minute now.

(True:  This is how photos end up on my blog:  I use my dumb phone to take a picture.  I send a photo message to The Squeeze.  The Squeeze uses his smart phone to put the image on Facebook.  I log onto Facebook and save the pic to my desktop.  I need a proper camera and probably twelve years of photography lessons.)

(Also true:  That is not how I got the picture of David Bowie.  That came from the Internets.)

Nikita agrees with Zsa Zsa Gabor: "Macho does not prove mucho." But she's still glad she's not going to be love-mauled by Ziggy fans.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hops in the Right Direction: She'll Have a Blue Christmas Without You

The phrase "stir crazy" comes from an old slang term for prison. You're losing it from being confined for too long; you're going stir crazy. Except, you're probably not, since it's the holiday season. Let me guess: You are crazy-busy with the shopping and the visiting and the get-togethers, and even when you're home, you need to be doing about thirty-seven things.

Your dog doesn't, though. Lots of dogs are left alone too long and too often during the holiday season, and that boredom and loneliness can lead to behavioral issues. It's a good time to consider doggy daycare, or hiring a kid from your street to hang out with your dog for a while during the day. Of, if you're not loaded, you can try some of the below tried-and-true options.

- Longer walks. They'll be good for you both. Make the walk about your dog--how often does she really get to just be a dog? If you can find a place to let her off-leash, all the better, even if it's just your backyard. Let her smell things and pee on things and feel something other than floor or concrete beneath her feet. If you allow her this time off, she'll be refreshed for when she's back at home and needs to be on her best behavior again.

- Play-dates. Do any of your friends or neighbors have friendly dogs? Offer to dog-sit one evening this week while they run errands, if they'll do the same for you next week. The socialization and playtime will help your dog unwind. She deserves some time to hang out with her pals, too!

- Keep her occuppied. Cut a strip of fleece into three long pieces, leaving them attached at one end. Braid treats into it loosely enough be retrievable. Tie the end, and voila! Your dog has something to do while you're not there. Kongs or the like are a more expensive option. A family friend likes to buy the bones that have filling in them--when her dog has finished it, she refills it with peanut butter or cheese spread and freezes it so it lasts longer.

- Quality time. If you don't have a lot of it, make what you have count. Give your dog your full, absolute attention for a couple of minutes a few times a day, so she knows you haven't forgotten about her.

So, sharing time. What do you do to get yourself and your pets through the holiday season happily?

This guy holding me is the only thing that saving you from having a year kissed off your life.

Nikita is a beautiful blue pittie who thinks kisses are definitely the best way to get through the holidays, mistletoe or no.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Feed Me, Seymour

I like food.  A lot.  (Eating it, not cooking it.)  Show me a cupcake and I will light up like it's Christmas and there's a pony under the tree just for me.  I also have a very fast metabolism, which I figure I better take advantage of while it lasts.

This leads to people offering me food left and right--I am their personal barefoot in an undeveloped country on those TV commercials child.

I ate lunch half an hour ago.  And now I'm being forced to work my way through five pieces of pizza.

Poor, poor me.

**Update: I am now eating someone else's Swedish Fish and have acquired a tin of Ouija mints. No joke, it's like magic.

(True:  My stomach is all swollen right now.  I have a food baby!)

Melody would like you to consider this.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Apartment Exploded

Ooooh, hey, lookit!  Noa Gavin knows who I am! (And, I just realized what her current post is, well, click away at your own risk.)

The time:  I dunno, a couple of years ago, I guess. 

The place:  My old apartment, near Green God-It's-Cold-Here Bay, Wisconsin.

The story:  My roommate, Z, was complaining that our apartment was cold.  I am a hermit who leaves the bedroom only when necessary, and I objected.  My room was stinkin' hot.  The Squeeze, who was up for a visit, agreed with me.  (Hi, Mom!  We were just watching movies!)

Anyway, we all went to bed--Z cold, me dying of heatstroke.

A couple hours later, I wake up to a hissing sound.  I ignore it for a little while, but it doesn't go away, and it's the exact pitch to be extremely annoying.  I get up and investigate, following the sound to the pit of despair (the second closet in my room that is full of hot-water heater and so does not have room for any of my shoes).

A trickle of hot water is streaming down the side, from some gasket or something.  As I watch, there is a popping sound, and suddenly, that hot water is shooting all over the place.  It is a deluge of biblical proportions, and there is a very good chance we will all die a scalding death in cloud pyjamas.

I call my landlord.  And get his voicemail.  I leave a very panicked message.  Then I call my dad.  Because who else do you call at 1:30 in the morning when your apartment is exploding and your landlord isn't answering?  He walks me through shutting off the valve, so at least the waterfall isn't quite so huge.  A strange rumble persists, though, which is somewhat worrisome.  As it turns out, my sleep-addled dad forgot to mention that I should have turned off the power to the water heater, as well, so pressure didn't keep building...

The rumbling got lounder.  And louder.  We get our coats on, ready to run for the hills.  My dog, Hans (pre-Prada dachshund cutie), was whimpering pathetically.  And louder.  This is it.  I was going to die in ugly pyjamas.

And then Super-MaintenanceGuy showed up and saved the day.  Which almost made up for the time that our toilet broke and we had to go to the gas station a mile away because it took the maintenance guy three days to fix it.

True:  My high school did not offer a shop class, nor a home economics course.  Because when you go to a fancy-pants private school, you learn that that is what your staff is for.

Too late! Melody has already gone home with a new family!  But stay tuned for more adoptable tripods!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hops in the Right Direction: London Bridge Isn't Falling Down, But Your Dog Sure Is

We've talked about things you can do to make your home a tripod-friendly place, but today we're going to talk about how to fall-proof your dog.

First, to give your dog a bit more traction, pay attention to her feet.  Her nails don't need to be super-short, just well-maintained.  Prada relies on her nails for purchase when she's on soft, pliable surfaces like the couch, and she uses them to dig her bed to get the stuffing just right.  I trim them probably every other week.

You can also purchase paw wax.  Some pet stores have it, hit or miss, but it's really easy to find online, and isn't very expensive.  It's not the kind of wax that will end up smeared all over everything, but it will give your dog a little more grip, and has the added benefit of protecting the pads of her paws from hot concrete and sidewalk salt.

Sometimes, she's going to fall.  That's the reality.  Prada trips pretty frequently--she normally catches herself and bobs up before actually hitting the ground, though.  Even so, there are some things you can do to minimize their chances of getting hurt.

Watch the dewclaw.  Prada once fell between the cushions of the couch and caught hers.  She screamed, I screamed--it was bad all around.  Now we lay a blanket over the couch so that doesn't happen again.  Learn from my mistakes.

Prada also toughs it out with me when I go hiking and camping.  She's pretty good off-leash, but to protect her vulnerable side, where the scar is hidden by surrounding fluff but isn't actually protected by any fur, she's got a Body Glove rashguard (like what surfers use).  I have this one, except in pink of course.  I sewed the one leg hole closed, and voila!  No worries about brambles or biting ants or sunburn.

Finally, I don't bring her to dog parks.  I want her to have lots of fun play time with other dogs, but dog parks are too uncontrolled--play can become a little too rough, and too quickly to respond.

Don't worry though; all in all, dogs bounce pretty well.

A little bit of a change up this week on our Dog Sponsor of the Week.  I found out about Melody through PetFinder, as usual, but by the time I emailed her foster family about her, she had already been adopted! Little wonder with those sweet eyes. So, today's post is brought to you by Melody, not exactly a tripod but close enough, who is thrilled to be starting a new life with her new family!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Biped's Road Trip

My folks own a couple of acres up in Eagle River, which is about as far north as you can go without becoming Canadian.  Deep in the woods, far past civilization, there is a small natural clearing with nothing on it but a gravel pad and a small shed.  No electricity, no running water, no outhouse, nothing.  I half grew up in Eagle River, but I'd never driven there by myself.  This summer, I did.

This was the day of my urban safari, so I began the drive frustrated and late--after work, I'd rather desperately needed a shower.  I was already sweaty, and I wasn't going to have access to a shower for three days.  There's getting back to nature, and then there's ugh-what's-that-smell-sorry-it's-me.

Anyway, the drive.  You can't find my parents' property on any GPS system, or GoogleMaps, or anything like that.  This place is beyond such fancy devices.  My mom gave me directions, and they finished like this:

"Deerskin is the last paved road.  From there, turn left onto Valeria, which is unpaved.  Where Valeria veers left, take the track going right."

That's right, my friends:  "the track."  Two wheel ruts cutting through the pitch black forest, with no road name, and no fire number to give to the people at 911 when you call about the serial killer that is sure to be taking refuge somewhere in the near vicinity.  Of course, there is no cell phone service there, anyway.  Or even landlines.  We're talking end of the road, people.  I almost hit two porcupines on the way there, that's how deep in the boonies I was.  (Think about it:  When was the last time you saw a porcupine outside the zoo?  That's because porcupines think you're a jerk.)

Three times I had to stop my car in the middle of the road, back up, and check the half-hidden street signs I'd missed--and that was while there were still street signs.  Didn't end up really mattering, since there wasn't exactly any other traffic.  Or people within a one hundred mile radius.  About halfway there, Prada puked neatly into my purse.

Good times.

(Truth:  Eagle River is absolutely worth it.  Even though my dad invariably growls like a bear whenever I'm trying to pee.)

(Blogger won't let me insert pictures right now, so image a really good-looking sweetheart of a shepherd mix here, would you?  Actual pic to follow.)

See?  I didn't forget about you, Bob!

He's so friendly, Bob would have made friends with the porcupines.  And he totally would have braved it out with me when Dad was being such a bear.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We Survived! (And No One Mentioned the Word "Shriveled")

The Squeeze and I generally don't spend holidays together.  My family is all in Wisconsin; his is in St. Louis.  Because of this, most of my extended family had never met The Squeeze.  Lord help him, he came up north with me this Thanksgiving.

I was a bit nervous about what my family might say to him.  My extended family--the older generation, anyway--is of the opinion that women should marry young.  I graduated from college magna cum laude, but without my MRS degree, so no good.

My Sister the Lawyer got married some years ago--four, or something.  I don't remember.  At her bridal showers, the Great-Aunt Evelyns (there are at least three of them) cornered me for an intervention.  They were concerned.  You see, I was already twenty-three, and if I didn't get married and have babies soon, my parts might shrivel up and fall out.
Anway, because of this, I was a bit nervous.  Other than my grandma holding onto The Squeeze's hand as if she were asking him to save me from drowning in the Titanic, it went swimmingly.  (Sorry, I like puns.  I am very ashamed.)

Of course, ever since The Incident of the Evelyns, I've been prepared:

"Oh, I'm waiting for either Johnny Depp or the Mother Ship--whichever comes last."

(True:  Patrick Stewart would be a more-than-acceptable alternate.  I once saw him play Antony in Antony and Cleopatra, and he sweated on me.  It was awesome.)

I would totally save your kids from the Titanic.  Especially if there were kibble in their pockets.  I'm totally a family man.  I probably deserve a treat just for saying that.
 Like Bob, I like OPK's:  Other People's Kids.  Bob, however, would probably like to adopt yours, which is why Bob is a better bet for you than I am.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Biped's Urban Safari

Late in August, my car needed work, and circumstances demanded that the work be done the next day before a mini-roadtrip.  No problem:  there is a Walmart on my way to work where you don't need an appointment, and they can handle the basics of car repair.  They opened at seven.  I needed to be as work by eight.  It was only two and a half miles from Walmart to work, and I frequently walk farther with Prada.

I usually take Bottom Street to Right Street to Middle Street to work.  I left Walmart and turned left, hoping to take Middle Street all the way there.  There was a huge stinkin' cemetary of FML in the way.  Streets abruptly stopped, then picked up again on the other side of the cemetary.  I ended up walking all the way to Top Street, and turning by the Forest Preserve.  There was no sidewalk along side the Forest Preserve.  I bushwhacked through the knee-high brush.  Mind you, it was already 87 degrees and humid.

Finally fighting my way out of the jungle/Forest Preserve, I paused a moment to catch a breath.  I was nowhere near a bus stop, but a bus heading my direction stopped out of pity because I was so bedraggled.  I paid my fare.  I should have gotten off in two stops, but the heat had gone to my head, so I just kept going.  Suddenly, we were passing over Right Street, where I needed to be.  I got off at the next stop, but pedestrians weren't allowed back over the overpass, and you really just couldn't get there from here. 

Green is the route I should have taken.  Purple is the path I took walking, with teal showing my ill-fated bus trip.
 I finally made it to work--sweaty, angry, and tired--half an hour late.  My phone immediately rings.  It's my boss.

"I just saw you walk past my office window.  Don't you normally drive?"

"Yes.  Yes, as a matter of fact, I do."

"Car trouble?"

"You have no idea."

"I brought bagels!"

(True:  I usually have a pretty decent sense of direction, if you can believe it.  Also:  instead of walking 2.5 miles, my route took me nearly 4.  My map is not to scale.)

Dude, Biped.  You should have brought me.  I'd have led you courageously through the jungle and told you where to find Timmy in the well.

Bob probably would have handled the whole thing better than I did.  He loves walks and rolling in the grass--I could have just had him roll a path through the Forest Preserve for me.  And kids and adults alike love him, so he could have distracted everyone while I steamed, and tried not to have a heat stroke.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hops in the Right Direction: A Public Service Holiday Announcement

It's Black Friday:  the official start to the holiday season.  And that means there are going to be a number of cute cuddly buddies with bows around their necks waiting under the tree.

Please, please, if you are going to get a pet this holiday season (no matter how many legs they do or do not have), choose carefully.  Most dogs in shelters are not strays, but owner give-ups.  A dog or cat is not an accessory.  It's not a toy or a hobby.  By getting a pet, you are committing to their lifetime.  Animals don't understand that you might divorce them.

Of course, I highly recommend adopting from a shelter.  There are so many wonderful pets that need homes.  If you adopt an adult dog, you may end up with a buddy who is already potty-trained, already knows basic obedience.  With an adult, you have a better idea of what you're going to get, as opposed to a puppy, whose personality is still developing.

If you have your heart set on that sweet puppy smell, please don't perpetuate the tragedy of puppy mills.  If you don't want to adopt, fine--but if you can't meet a puppy's parents, that is a good indication something may be wrong.  They parents may have health or behavioural problems, or they may be from puppy mills.  The mother of that cute bundle of fur?  She might have lived her entire life in a cage, her legs deformed from lack of proper excercise.  A lot of puppy mill breeders lose their teeth prematurely because of an unhealthy diet.  The female are prone to mammary problems, including cancer, because they are bred too often and too young.  Do your homework.  Find a reputable breeder.  There is an animal out there who will thank you for it and love you forever.

This week's posts are brought to you by Bob, a handsome shepherd mix who wants nothing more than a new family for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Everybody Should Have One - Or Seven

In case you've lost your calendar or are just resurfacing from a several week-long WoW marathon, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  That makes this my semi-obligatory "what I'm thankful for" post, so I'm just going to pause my attempts to be amusing for a bit.

Most women have two men in their lives:  their dad, and their squeeze.  (Happy birthday, Dad!)  I've got those, and they are pretty much the shit.  I am lucky enough to have a third man in my life as well:  my best friend, Seven.  I said once before I'd explain why I call him that.  So, without further ado:

Everbody Should Have One - Or Seven

I call this a big pile o' awesome.

The story is called "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."  It's notably not called "Snow White's Evil Step-Mother Tries to Kill Her A Lot" or "Prince Charming Mauls Snow White in Her Sleep, the Perv."  Nope, it's the dwarves who snag a title role.

Now, I'm not knocking Prince Charming (much).  He does save her at the end, which is sort of important.  And, they live happily ever after, which is nothing to sneer at.*  However, the Seven Dwarves save her an awful lot first.  They are the ones who cut off her killing underwear and make her stop combing her hair with poison.  They have undoubtedly had Snow White snot all over them while she's crying over some sappy movie.  They're friends, sure--but more than that, they are family.

So you don't really think Snow White really rode off with Prince Charming into the sunset and dumped the dwarves, do you?


And that's why I call my best friend Seven.**

*Yes, I know I started that sentence with a concuntion and ended it with a preposition.  I have a fancy degree saying I know exactly what rules I'm breaking.
**I make no claims to being princessy, myself.  Prissy would probably be as close as I'm getting.

(True:  I have a very deep resentment towards the movie When Harry Met Sally.)

Have some Noodles with your turkey!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Great Power = Great Tomfoolery

I like to write.  I also like to think I'm not half-bad at it.  (I did spend a rather absurd amount at college learning how to do it properly, after all.)  Like other literary geeks, I believe words are powerful.  Pen is mightier than the sword and all that.

Confession:  My mighty pen-sword has been abused.  I solemnly swear it's been up to no good.

A co-worker of mine was getting unpleasant, repeated emails on her work account.  She wanted not only to block the emails, but also to let the sender know they had been blocked.  Our email service simply sends messages from blocked addresses to the junk folder--no nasty auto-reply sent.  To that end, I wrote:

Error 441.705.698

Your recent message was denied.  The intended recipient has deactivated their account or blocked this sender.  If you believe you have received this message in error, please contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

With great power comes great responsibility.  With a small amount of power comes a gratifying ability to mess with people's heads.

I just hope the person didn't actually contact their poor ISP.

On a totally unrelated note:  I came across this via The Bloggess":

This party is out of control, yo.

Happy fall!

(True:  I do not exaggerate my literary geekiness.  I own close to 2,000 books.  When I move, my friends don't exactly rush to offer help.)

'Sup, dog?

Today's post is brought to you by Noodles, who is pretty darn cool even if he doesn't have a sweet pimped-out ride like the dog above.

Friday, November 18, 2011

All Days Should End with Monsters

Yesterday was one of those days.

You know the kind.  Your work email won't send attachments.  Your TV dinner lunch isn't cooked all the way through.  Your dog projectile vomits everywhere.

Then The Squeeze tells me he has Tivo'd a marathon of really terrible monster movies for me.  One of them is called DinoShark. 

This, my friends, is what love looks like.

(True:  Anaconda used to be my favorite movie.  Then I saw Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, and it changed my life for the awesome.)

The Bachelor

Today's post is brought to you by Noodles, who is looking for a partner who enjoys long walks on the street and romantic kibbles for two.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hops in the Right Direction: Discomfort and Pain Management

It's kind of a dramatic change.  Just looking at your dog, for a while all you will probably see is the leg that isn't there, the way she walks, her hesitancy as she gets used to her new body.  Your biggest concern is, of course, is my dog comfortable?  Is she in pain?  What does the future hold in store?

First, take a deep breath.  That leg was removed so your dog wouldn't be in pain.  There are steps you can take to ease your mind and keep your dog pain-free, however.

Phantom Limb Pain:  Let's face it.  This is terrifying.  What if your dog is crying in pain for a leg that isn't there?  Sometimes your dog may lick the floor or her body where her leg would have been.  Happily, phantom pain is really rare with dogs.  If she does experience it, it's almost unheard of for the sensations to last longer than a couple of months. 

She may not want you to touch the area.  If she's aggressively protective of the area, leave it alone.  As I said, the pain doesn't last.  If she is okay with you touching her there, you can help her relax.  Massage the remaining leg opposite the amputation site.  Then, and I know this is going to feel silly, massage the missing leg.  Your dog, like people, has a mental map in her head of her body:  Where it is, what space it occupies, what it feels and does.  It can take some time to remap her body--her brain may be telling her a leg is there even if it is gone.  Massaging can help the leg that is now only in her brain to relax and get some relief.

Again, don't panic!  It's uncommon for a dog to experience any phantom pain at all.  Mostly, they are just glad that the source of the pain is gone.  (Prada had no pain, though she was ticklish for a week or two.  She still loves to have that shoulder massaged, though.)

Muscle Adjustment:  She's walking differently.  Her gait is different; her weight distribution has changed.  Her muscles, as well as her body, need to adjust to these changes.  Again, I recommend massage.  There are some helpful videos online that will give you tips.  They are a good place to start, but I really recommend getting in touch with an animal massage therapist and asking for a one-on-one lesson.  (There are more of these people than you think.)  It might be a bit of an investment, though probably not as much as you think, but it's still less expensive than regularly bringing your dog to get a professional massage, and of course touch helps strengthen your bond with your dog so much.  Regular massages will ease the sore muscles and relieve some of the tension that is now on the remaining joints, so this can have really long-term benefits.

The remaining leg will start to center eventually.  That's a very good thing; it will make it easier for her to retain her balance. 

Arthritis:  It's probably in her future.  Then again, there's a good chance it's in yours too, but somehow that doesn't seem as worrisome.  Weight management is really key here.  Her joints are already slightly more stressed than on the average dog--do you really want her to have to haul around extra pounds, too?  Feed her high-quality kibble (the cheap stuff is like eating McDonald's every day, every meal.  Tasty, but not exactly good for you.), and give her plenty of exercise to keep those joints supple.

Become Your Vet's Best Friend:  Obviously, you will want to keep your vet in the loop.  Keep an open dialogue with him.  Bounce ideas off him.  Ask for help when you need it.  Your vet can prescribe mild painkillers if that's necessary, or a supplement for joint health, or he can recommend a great food line.  Maybe he knows of a good massage therapist in the area. 

Whatever is in store for you and your dog, there are resources to help you deal.  I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again:  you have a lot more dealing to do than your dog does.  Your dog doesn't even notice she's different.
What do you mean, I only have three legs?

Today's post it brought to you by Noodles, a spunky schnauzer/poodle fella in Yorkville, Illinois, who enjoys picking on his foster family's rottweiler.  He enjoys long walks down the street and would really like a tasty dinner for two.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Steve Jobs Tried to Save My Soul (But Then He Died).

Internal Me:  How did you get pizza sauce into your earbuds?

Me Me:  Dunno.  I had a Hot Pocket for lunch.  Caliente Pocket!  And, now I want a sandwich with a frilly toothpick.  Also, Pepto Bismol.  Once I drank Pepto right before going to bed, and my tongue was black when I woke up.  Remember?  That was weird.

Internal Me:  I can't believe I'm stuck with you forever.

(True:  I got my iPod used.  The first owner had not removed their songs.  I'm nosy, so of course I scrolled through the playlist.  All spiritual healing books and old-school hymns.  Perhaps someone Up There was trying to tell me something?  Regardless, that's how I came to own the GodPod.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Way with Words and Teeth

Since I'm on an injury-related roll, I now present episode three of "Holy Crap, How Did You Manage That?"

My Sister the Lawyer is a smart, savvy, cool lady.  She's also very tough, so I can only hope she won't beat me up for this post.

Let's flash back a few years, shall we?  It's a hot afternoon; I've just gotten home from the last day of second grade.  My Sister (who will one day be a lawyer) challenges me to a bike race.  First one to the creek (in Wisconsin, pronounced "crick") wins.

Oh, she is so on.

I'm losing.  She's over a full bike-length ahead of me, and we're coming up on the creek now.  I put all my all into one last, desperate attempt to catch up.  I'm gaining!  I'm right behind her!  I might actually win for once!

The front tire of my bike slams into the back tire of hers.  She bumps gently forward and keeps riding.  My bike does a cartwheel with me still on it.  I eat asphalt.  Literally.  My bike lands on my back, the wheels spinning a couple of times before the bike falls over.

I grapple to my feet.  It hurts.  It's astounding, really, how much it hurts.  My Sister (who will one day be a lawyer) is freaking out.  Apparently, I am a mess.  My hands, elbows, and knees are torn ragged and laced with gravel.  My mouth hurts.  I taste blood.  There is a big hole where my front tooth should be.

Picture sort of related.

Oh!  I learned this in school!  I need to find my tooth and put it in a glass of milk so the dentist can put it back in.  Unfortunately, all the pieces of my tooth are virtually indistinguishable from the bits of gravel on the road.  Uh oh.  I need to get home.  My dad is there, somewhere.  I have to bike back home.  That sucks.  While I wait in the driveway, still on my bike, My Sister (who is not holding it together very well for someone who will one day be a lawyer) finds Dad.

Things are blurry now.  I'm in the car with a towel, trying not to bleed too much on the seat.  Dad is plastering my knees and elbows with giant band-aids in several layers so I won't bleed through.  This surprised me.  I bleed all the time, so what? And we stopped at the drugstore for band-aids when my mouth hurts so much?  I'm in the dentist's chair.  He comments to his assistant on how I managed to cover most of my remaining teeth in tar; my teeth are totally black.  He holds up a needle.  There is a sharp pinch in the gum above my gaping tooth-socket.

Fade to black.

I'm sorry, this isn't the funny part.  This is just the back story to the funny part, which didn't involve me at all.  We're getting to that, I swear.

My Sister had remained at home during my toothy adventure in town, ostensibly to wait for my mom to get home and explain where Dad and I were.

When Mom did arrive, it was to find her elder daughter standing in the driveway next to two bikes, crying her eyes out.  Before Mom even had a chance to ask what had happened, My Sister (now a well-spoken lawyer) wailed:

"Dana fell off her bike and broke all her teeth off, and Dad took her to town to get dentures!"

(True:  My mouth is now insured.  Like J-Lo's butt.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

As It Turns Out, When I Didn't Think I Had Cancer, I Didn't Have Cancer.

As long as I'm on the circus-freaky accidents" kick...

One night several years ago, I was hurrying downstairs in my dorm, and I slipped.  In an attempt to keep from hurtling to my death, I clutched at the iron banister.  I succeeded in not dying, but I scraped my arm badly and landed hard on my back.  A dorm mate at the bottom of the stairs saw the whole thing.  Worried, she asked if I was all right.

I busted out laughing.  It hurt so badly, it was funny.  This reaction did mot make my dorm mate less worried.

Fast forward a couple of days.  I had some lovely bruises:  Horizontal marks from the stair treads laddered up my back, and the entire underside of my arm looked like something from a zombie movie.  Worse, there were lumps.  Not from the swelling (though there was plenty of that, too), but something that felt like small marbles nestled under the bruises.

This is how my arm felt.  It looked a little worse, actually.

Now, I'm injury-prone, but muscle-marbles seemed a bit unusual.  I made an appointment with the campus doctor.  The fact that he'd never met me before is the only way I can excuse the conversation that followed.

"Don't worry; it's not cancer."

Oh, thank god!  Because, you know, I've heard cancer of the bruise is particularly aggressive, and that it can easily spread to hangnails and eye boogers.

I gently explained that I wasn't concerned about cancer, I was concerned about having marbles embedded in my muscles.

"Well, in severe deep-tissue bruising, calcium deposits can form.  Usually, they just pass through your urinary tract."

I looked at him, and I believe he finally understood that I wasn't an idiot.

"I do not want to pee out marbles."

"Fingers crossed," he said.

Fingers crossed?!

I crossed my fingers hard.  It was one of the more successful "non-traditional" treatments I've tried.  Let's just say I wasn't left with anything to put in a Christmas ornament.

(True:  The bruise on my arm looked almost exactly like the whale fail error from Twitter, except most definitely not smiling.  And without the birds.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hops in the Right Direction: Adaptation

Warning:  this post meanders.  There is a point, though, I swear.  Sort of.

Your dog isn't the only one who needs to adapt to an amputation--you do, too.  Following are some examples of what I've encountered with Prada that I didn't really expect, but probably should have.

Prada lost her left front leg just three weeks before I adopted her.  Dogs generally heel on their owner's left side.  However, that left Prada's vulnerable side facing out, which made her uncomfortable.  Once I finally figured out why she was always crowding my feet, the solution was simple:  teach her to heel on the other side.  Now her vulnerable side is protected by my body, and she is confident meeting other people and dogs on the street.

Another issue that shouldn't have surprised me was sitting. It's not a very natural position for her.  Even when she's scratching, she is half way to lying down.  Yet, it is most people's first instinct to tell a dog to sit, so I wanted her to know the command.  It took some trial and error, but I I eventually figured out how to coax her into a sit.  By sitting on the floor with one leg outstretched, knee about six inches from the floor, I could lure her under my knee with a high-value treat.  Then, I raised the treat straight up while she was still "under the bridge."  This kept her butt on the floor.  After a lot of practice, I was able to remove my leg and sit cross-legged, and step-by-step, progress to giving her the command while standing.  The whole process took several months.  (Actually, sometimes she still lays down instead of sitting.  We need more practice.)

Now, I'm going to back up a bit.  Remember I mentioned Prada almost lies down to scratch?  Well, she can't do that and reach all the way to her ears.  I have to scratch her ears for her.  It's pretty hilarious, really; she makes this little moaning sound, she likes it so much.

The point of all this rambling is this:  Pay attention to your dog.  She will let you know what she needs from you.  Just don't forget she is still a dog.  Most tripods are on their feet only hours after surgery.  She hasn't suddenly lost the desire or ability to run around like a crazy thing, smell disgusting thigs, or play/slobber all over you.  She isn't as breakable as you think she is.