Tag Archives: dog

What kind of dog should the Obamas get?

Barack Obama famously promised a puppy to his daughters for when they move into the White House. For a kid, perhaps there is no greater thrill than getting a puppy! I am, admittedly, envious of them. 🙂

What kind of dog should they get?

First off, I rule out a small dog. Barack and Michelle are both people of tall stature, and I think a small dog would look more like a rodent next to them. Not only that, but the toy breeds just aren’t very presidential.

There are lots of sporting breeds, hounds and such, but to me these don’t fit with the Obamas. So beagles and bloodhounds and that sort are out.

I also don’t see them taking on an exotic breed, such as a Chow or Shar-Pei.

They are an active family, so a more active breed of dog would certainly be a good fit. Labradors and Golden Retrievers have a high activity level, but they can be pretty wacky when they are younger. I’d hate to think of the destruction an exuberant Lab could rain down upon the China Room.

So maybe one of the gentle giants… a Newfoundland, or St. Bernard, or a Bernese Mountain Dog, or a Great Dane. Hmm. I think I’m really digging them with a Great Dane. And these breeds are all so great with kids.

Of course, there are rescue opportunities, so maybe they’ll go in that direction. A quick look at the Petfinder web site for the Chicago area found these potential rescue pups for them:




And sorry, but how funny would it be if they adopted a puppy named McCain or Palin? LOL!



A day and a half

You’d think, with a new home just yearning for cleaning and new coats of paint, that that would have occupied our time today.

Not so, if you are Frank and me.

The plan for today was to head sometime this morning to the DMV to get our NY state licenses and to register our cars and get NY license plates.  Generally this is a chore that could have waited a couple weeks but our NJ licenses had just expired and Frank’s car registration had also expired at the same time.  We figured it would eat up a couple hours, minimum, but that it shouldn’t kill the whole day.

Only, we got a bit of a late start, so with eating breakfast and doing some random little things, we didn’t leave to go to the DMV until about 11:00 a.m.  Well, at least we’d beat the lunch crowd…

Only, we didn’t count on having to rescue a couple of dogs.  We were driving down a busy road and came upon a Bassett hound meandering on the shoulder.  Knowing this dog shouldn’t be here, we pulled over and I got a look at the dog’s tag, and also discovered that he had a partner in crime who was currently ransacking someone’s garbage.  They were relatively clean dogs, and it didn’t seem like they’d been neglected or out on their own for very long.  One of their tags had a street address which we discovered, thanks to our handy dandy GPS device, was a few blocks away from where we were, but the other side of the busy road we were traveling on.  The dogs were both sweet as pie, so despite eye rolls from Frank (who is — I shall spin it nicely — more practical than me regarding such matters as stray dogs and wounded kittens) we herded them both into our minivan, and drove them home.  Only the owners weren’t home, and there was nowhere to safely leave the dogs.  I wasn’t going to just let them loose.  We tried calling the phone number on their tags and it went to voice mail — only the voice mail was full so we couldn’t even leave a message.

A bit later and we were in the parking lot of the SPCA.  Since no good deed goes unpunished, I was holding both dogs, found myself standing off balance for a split-second, at which time both dogs decided to make a bee-line for the same imaginary awesome spot they just had to get to NOW.  I ended up dragging both knees across the asphalt of the parking lot.  So I have my first matching pair of skinned knees since I was about eleven.  (Well, there was the nasty rugburn I got on both knees when I was like 18 (I’ll let you use your imagination for the ‘how’ on that one)… but rugburn doesn’t leave you to pull bits of gravel out of your wounds.)

We got the dogs inside as I bled from both knees, to find out that these dogs’ owners regularly let them roam free, and they are regulars at the shelter.   The workers knew the dogs by name and had their home number, work numbers, and cell numbers all handy.

I was so livid.  These were sweet, gentle dogs and they both had great personalities.  And I pondered aloud to Frank that if I saw these dogs loose again, I might be inclined to ‘lose’ their collars and turn them in at a shelter in the next county, with the instructions to call me if they weren’t claimed in whatever time period you have to allot for a dog to get claimed.  He was actually inclined to agree with me, as he was quite enamored with the golden retriever.

Let me tell you — if you have a Bassett Hound named Bentley and a Golden named Oliver, you better start treating them better.  They are great dogs and do not deserve an untimely death at the hands of the next Toyota Land Cruiser to speed by.  I know from talking to your neighbors you have a son and I’m sure he would be heartbroken to lose his dogs forever to such a fate.  I’m not quite sure why you felt inclined to get two big dogs when you have hardly any backyard at all, but obviously the practical matters of home upkeep are a bit overwhelming for you so dog ownership perhaps is not your cup of tea, either.

So all that, and we hadn’t even been to the DMV yet.

FIVE HOURS LATER — we finally had my license done and car registered.  Frank’s stuff is another story entirely.  Against the actual guidelines the DMV has in place, the competent staff therein put his full middle name on his license, thus rendering the name on his new license a non-perfect-name-match from him title and his insurance card.  So the DMV then started insisting that Frank had to get a new insurance card printed with his exactly-matching-his-new-license name.  Only, because our insurance company apparently follows DMV guidelines better than the DMV, their computers will not let them physically create insurance cards with his name as the DMV put it on his license.  So, not only would they not let him register his car, his license has to be fixed, too.  Thus, the saga that was our day-from-DMV-hell is not even over yet.  We have to go back to the insurance office tomorrow, and they are going to call the DMV and talk to the head-idiot over there and try to help us get this all straightened out.

Now the incompetence and screw-ups are one thing.  Be polite, say you’re sorry (even if you don’t mean it).  I understand, you work at the DMV which probably means you’re never going to become an astronaut or sports legend or MC Hammer groupie like you dreamed of as a kid.  But for Pete’s sake, DMV people… would it kill you to maybe drop the holier-than-thou, condescending attitudes and maybe just do your shit jobs with just a little bit of pride and efficiency!??

I know it’s stereotypical to deride the DMV… but honestly before today I’d never had a ‘bad’ DMV experience.  Living in Buffalo, NY, then Albany, NY, then in NJ for 8 years, I’ve had my fair share of waiting in line and killing the time and messing up a form and having to fill it out again.  The waiting is par for the course, the cryptic regulations (especially now, thank you Homeland Security!) are not unexpected.  I have never, though, EVER dealt with a more negative, smarmy, self-righteous, unhelpful group of people than I encountered at this DMV office.  Still now, hours later, I am appalled and have a certain amount of empathy for violent postal workers.  Despite everything that was screwy with our documentation, despite the goofs on both sides of the formica counter, had the people ‘helping’ us not been so power-trippy and rude and just downright nasty, I could let it go.  But here I am, reliving it and getting incredibly pissed that I have to go back and endure it again tomorrow.

Stop the jumping

I took the kids for a walk/jog today in our double jogging stroller.  Near the end of our jaunt we encountered an older couple with a beautiful black Labrador Retriever.  Lane, as she does, asked to pet the dog, so we asked the couple and they were happy to oblige.  We chatted for a few minutes and they shared that the dog is in training to be a guide dog for the blind, and is currently in the process of going through all the training and socialization and whatnot.  The dog is learning really well and is extremely obedient, except for one thing:  they cannot get her to stop jumping on people.  They’ve tried everything and are at their wits’ end.

Ahh, that sounded so familiar!  Bailey, our golden retriever, love that she is, was an avid jumper.  We tried EVERYTHING to get her to stop.  Her puppy trainer at PetSmart suggested rewarding her when she was calm… but when was she calm?!?  The ol’ bring up your knee advice had no effect, she thought it was a game.  No punishment was ever severe enough to deter her or to knock some sense into her — even the couple times I got so incredibly frustrated I actually punched her in the head.  (I hate to admit that, but it’s the truth.  She thought I was playing and jumped on me again.  Blockhead dog!)

Then, our epiphany.

Maybe someone told it to us, maybe I read it online somewhere — I cannot remember.  But wherever I got the idea, I am eternally grateful.  Bailey is a dog who craves attention.  Needs it, loves it, can’t live without it.  She loves people and wants to play.  She wants to be petted and loved.  She wants acknowledgment and acceptance.  So, we just started ignoring her when she jumped.  More than that, we stood crossed our arms and looked up and away from her, effectively withdrawing any semblance of attention.  It took a couple days of consistency, but the jumping abated.  We were amazed, we were thankful, we were in heaven!  We’d finally found the “punishment” that worked for our dog.

And it continues to work!  If she gets a little too exuberant with someone, we have them cross their arms and look up at the sky.  Bailey almost immediately will leave them alone.

I told these very nice people about our secret, and I think the light bulb went on for them too — it just might work.  I hope it does, their dog was otherwise beautiful and obedient and smart and well-behaved.


The kids and I were outside with Bailey yesterday.  She’s an energetic dog, and thus occasionally in the out-of-doors (and luckily, very rarely in the in-of-doors, since she is not a small dog) likes to go on a mad tear.  This basically involves running in a circle or back-and-forth as fast as her legs will carry her for about 20 seconds.  Then she’s good.

Yesterday, she got just a little too exuberant, and hurt one of her back legs.  I’m waiting it out right now, because even though she wouldn’t bear weight on it right after it happened which was a little scary, she was much more willing and seemingly able to bear weight after a minute or two.  She’s still favoring it a bit but seems to be OK.

In dog years, she’s now about 42.  Since I’m on the cusp of middle age, I can sympathize with her.  It’s hard to give up those youthful days when you could do whatever you wanted to your body and have it give you barely any negative feedback.  Oh Bailey, those days are gone for both of us, I think.  Now is the time of warming up and stretching, of pacing ourselves, of going to bed a little earlier, of rethinking that third glass of wine.  (OK, maybe Bailey isn’t drinking much wine these days.)  It’s sort of funny, once you know better, your body isn’t up to the challenge anymore.

Good dog

Today is Bailey’s birthday. She’s 42.

Well, in dog years, anyway.

Bailey joined our family in 2002. I’d grown up with dogs but had never had MY OWN DOG, and Frank had never had a dog at all, so we figured we should get a dog of a breed with a reputation to be ‘easier’, as far as dogs go. We went back and forth and decided on a golden retriever. It seemed like a safe choice – smart, easy to train, good with kids.

I wanted to put a puppy picture here, but most of our pictures are in storage, and back then I was film-only. So this is the best puppy picture I can offer for now. The big black dog was my Grandpa Bill’s dog, Rocky.

Dog ownership has had its trying moments. Like for the while when we couldn’t figure out how to stop Bailey from jumping. (Somehow we got the idea to cross our arms, look up and ignore her, and it’s like magic!) Like when she had a spate of urinary tract infections – let me tell you, it is not fun trying to get a urine sample from a dog (but a pie tin, slid under at the right moment, works well enough). I lost more than one pair of beloved shoes to her puppy teething phase. And, as retrievers tend to be, Bailey certainly has her share of dependency affection and hyperactivity exuberance and destructiveness energy, but nothing anyone could call abnormal for a golden. She brought a bit of chaos to our generally quiet and predictable lives, and our days were better for it.

This is Frank and my brother, Mark.

But she has been a great dog. She is really smart, and was a cinch to housetrain. With just a bit of work she learned a lot of other useful stuff too, like sitting and staying and crating up. She’s a great dog for car trips, she isn’t at all anxious in the car, and stays relaxed throughout the trip (with occasional bouts of excitement to be going somewhere).

And then the kids came along, and she has proven her great-dog-ness in spades. In her they have a playmate, a jungle gym, a pony, a confidant, a partner in crime, a pillow, a teddy bear, and a guardian all in one big, furry package. She tolerates every bit of toy stealing and ear pulling and being sat on and and stepped on and laid on and jumped on with the patience of a saint, and still all she asks for return is an occasional cuddle and bowl of food.

With Lane when she was a week old.

With Lane last month.

As fitting for a family member, we will celebrate her birthday in a small way. We ordered her this ‘cake’ – it was Lane’s idea. She picked out the design, too.

Yes, I know, it’s a cat – there was a dog picture in the flyer right next to it. I even pointed it out and said “Don’t you think a dog picture would be more fitting? Bailey’s a dog, after all.” Lane said, “Yeah, but she likes cats too – like I like cats!” I couldn’t really argue with that logic. So, tonight after dinner, we’ll all have a piece of cookie cake and we’ll toast Bailey’s health.

So, Happy Birthday, Bailey! And thank you, for being a great dog. I hope we have the pleasure of your company for another six years.

Sometimes the planets align…

…and sometimes they, well, don’t.

Today has been one of those “don’t” days.

Got a call this morning from my friend Renee.  We’d visited them last weekend, during which there was a strong suspicion that Lane may or may not have accidentally or purposefully flushed a toy down their toilet.  She said something that sounded like she had flushed a toy down the toilet, but when asked to confirm, she denied.  So while we were there, the toilet flushed a few times and all seemed well.

Not so much.  They amassed a $200 plumber’s bill rectifying the situation.  Which of course I will completely pay back, but sigh.

Then, I had our New York State tax return to sign, and write a small check, and mail today.  I give it a once-over before signing and paying and mailing, and see something odd.  I’m being charged New York City income taxes on the return… but I don’t live or work in New York City.  Neither does Frank or the kids, as far as I know.  And as much as NYC thinks it is the center of the universe, I don’t think they have the power to tax us by sheer proximity.  There has been three phone conversations with the accountant and she still doesn’t seem to think anything’s amiss.  Does she even GET that we DON’T LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY?!?  And now since we’ll be out of the country the last week before the return is due, we may still have to pay, then file an amended return to get our money back.  Um, ARGH!!  The one redeeming thing here is that instead of owing $155 I’m pretty sure we’ll get back $17.  At least it mostly covers the plumbing problem.

Somewhere in there, Lane left the door to the bathroom open and Jake wet himself up to the shoulders in toilet water.

Since Lane is traveling out of the country with her grandparents, they need a notarized letter from us that they have our permission to take her out of the country.  I wrote the letter and arranged to have it notarized today.  Told Frank to sign it last night.  Guess what he forgot to do.  Lane and her grandparents leave on Sunday; luckily a close family friend is a notary public and was willing to notarize without Frank’s signature on the letter yet because she knows he fully intends to sign it and consents to the trip.

Got all the way to the store today and realized I’d left my purse at home.

Got a package, realized it was all wrong, had to send it back.

Consoled my son more times than should be necessary because his sister likes tackling, clotheslining, straight-arming, and otherwise knocking him on his keister.

But right now the kids are playing as cute as can be.  That helps.  And one of our errands today was to PetSmart to get dog food and they were having an adoption event, with some of the cutest, puppiest-smelling puppies you could imagine.  Hearing the kids giggle at the puppies and all those little puppy nibbles and puppy kisses is healing for the soul.  If we were in a house at this point, there was a puppy there who might have come home with us.  She was just sweet and calm and gorgeous and happy and the kids were just as smitten with her as I was.  She looked like maybe she was part yellow lab, and maybe part boxer?  I didn’t ask, maybe they knew.  But man, was she cute.

Living out her days

I haven’t heard too many details, but my dad and brother talked, and given what they heard from the veterinary surgeon, they have decided to not go forward with the surgery.  I haven’t heard anything about how much time Ginger might have left, but they seem to be operating on the belief that they have a decent amount of time, a few weeks or months.  My brother has plans to take her to their favorite park as much as he can, and to make sure she gets some chances to swim.  They just feel like it’s such a big expense, for an outcome that probably won’t buy her a ton of time and certainly could reduce her quality of life.

I don’t blame them one bit, but it’s still sad.  She’s a great dog.