Archive for December, 2008

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Day 101: 101 pounds of Chocolate

December 5, 2008

WEDNESDAY
12 November 2008

Today I asked the neighbors next door if I could walk the dogs for them.  I figure if I have some down time and can help out, why not?   I saw the two teen aged sons out in the dog pen FINALLY cleaning up the poop piles, and thought it was a good time to make the inquiry. Surprise, surprise.  They were more than thrilled to ask for their dad’s approval on this measure.  After all, it’s one more neglected chore they can fully avoid.  What teenager wouldn’t jump at that?

Two of the dogs at once would’ve been too much, so they gave me Chocolate who is the younger of the two as I understand it.  Again, these puppies are s’dang sweet, I’m turning diabetic just thinking about them.  Hmm.  Is that comment PC?  I hope I’m not offending actual diabetics by making such a statement.  I’m sure Mary Tyler Moore reads this blog and she’ll chime in with a comment if I’ve crossed the line.

Chocolate was CRAZED on this walk.  How could she not be?  She’s over 100 pounds of pure muscle and she lives in a 10-foot by 20-foot area every day with another big dog like her.  Oh, and joy of joys: she has no leash training either.  She’s a puller and does not know the meaning of the words “sit,” “heel,” or “no.”  And she’s STRONG.  About twice as strong as I was ever used to Hank pulling and about 800% stronger than the 5 lb. Tinkerbell.  Yeah, good times.

To make matters worse, at one point the neighbor dad – Oscar – came walking down the street with Chocolate’s sister Bella.  Chocolate is a little neurotic, so when she saw Bella she went ballistic.  Barking, yelping, howling, wailing.  And yes, pulling.  With both of my hands holding the leash, I thought she was going to dislocate my shoulders trying to get to Bella.

Is it me, or was that totally inconsiderate and just plain lame of Oscar to bring Bella out when he knew Chocolate would go berserk the second she saw her sister – also knowing full-well, I’m sure, that Chocolate is not good on a leash.  A leash which was about a foot too short, by the way.  It was likely the same leash these neighbors used with their previous canines, who were smaller lapdogs that were killed one night by coyotes.  This happened even after repeated warnings from Yvonne and Ed to take those little dogs in at night.

When I think about this, and also remember the day the neighbor mom flat out told me how their family doesn’t have time for these two big dogs, it begs the obvious question:  um, why the hell have them?  Obviously, I don’t think not owning a dog makes you a bad person.  But owning two huge animals like Bella and Chocolate who require exercise, training and routine, then NOT giving that to them… well… there’s something not right about that, in my humble opinion.

My biggest concern was that Chocolate would get free of me, and with no obedience training, I’d have no way to get her back.  This was something I didn’t want to be responsible for.  I mean, if a dog won’t even sit on command… that’s bad news.  And sad, considering you can teach a dog to sit in about 10 minutes.  Unfortunately, now that Chocolate was out of her cage for once, the last thing she wanted to do learn how to sit for me.

ALL dogs want to do is make us happy, make their owners happy.  And German shepherds are damn smart dogs.  I mean, hell – they can be trained to sniff out the difference between dirty socks and cocaine at LAX.  Surely some basic commands aren’t out of the question, not with countless books, trainers-for-hire, TV shows and the internet all offering information about this.  Geez.

I became more and more frustrated during the walk.  Not with Chocolate of course – she was just being instinctual and doing what she knows.  I was more upset with her owners, and the fact that this walk idea was probably not going to work.  When I took Chocolate back to the house, Oscar asked me “So how was she?”

“Well, she was a crazy bitch and you know it.”

I didn’t say that.  I wanted to though.  I think I managed to tactfully express that she did OK, all things considered.  I left it at that.

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Day 100: Dang, 100 days already?!

December 5, 2008

TUESDAY
11 November 2008

Yvonne and Ed’s house is haunted.  More than once, Yvonne has mentioned how their cat Asta can see ghosts, or ‘shadow people’ as she calls them.  These are the things our eyes seemingly catch every so often, but we write them off as our mind playing tricks on us.  Come on!  Is it not bad enough there are killer coyotes from the underworld lurking outside (like the one I talked about here on Day 65)?  Now I have to deal with ghosts, too?  Crap.

Of course, Yvonne and Ed are in Tahoe for the week and I’m in the house alone, so it’s completely logical that NOW is the time when all the creepy, creaky, things-that-go-bump will all rear their disembodied heads.

Last night was the strangest night.  I didn’t sleep well.  SOMETHING was keeping me from sleeping.  Asta wasn’t helping.  He sleeps in the bed with me on occasion, and last night he was particularly active – he was up, he was down, he was out, he was sitting on the windowsill, and then I wake up and he’s 4 inches from my face staring at me.  Maybe he was stealing my breath or whatever that old wives tale that is (or was that only something I saw in a movie?).  Asta is darling and I don’t think that’s in his constitution, but still… cats are sneaky that way.

Ed and Yvonne have a cuckoo clock in the kitchen and another grandfather clock in the hallway, both of which go off every hour (of course).  One of the songs the kitchen clock plays is this pseudo-“Edelweiss” knock-off, and in my half-sleep/half-awake freakiness about the shadow people, I swear one of the times it went off, it sounded like the most hellish, demented version of that Rodgers & Hammerstein anthem you’ve ever heard.  My half conscious mind immediately conjured images of the Von Trapp Family singers’ heads exploding all over their coordinated, curtain outfits.  It was like a totally disgusting, effed up deleted scene from Scanners or something.  Immediately after, the grandfather clock in the hall began playing what sounded like a bell-tolling death march.  Yikes.  Did I eat cheese before going to bed or what?

At around 4am, I swear someone or something was walking through the house.  Now, Yvonne and Ed arranged for the neighbor girl to take care of feeding their outdoor cats, but there was no way she was coming over at 4am.  Plus, she’d have no reason to walk all the way from the back hall (where the kitty food is), through the house to Yvonne and Ed’s bathroom.  Even weirder:  whatever it was brushed their teeth while they were in there.  Yeah, I know, but I swear it was for realz.  Do the undead really need to be concerned with plaque buildup and healthy gums?

I’m sure you’ll agree what I did next makes perfect sense.  Unsure whether it was the neighbor girl, an intruder with dental hygiene issues or a phantasm, I called out, “HELLO?”  Now, I wasn’t fully conscious and I’m completely defenseless, so this was the smart thing to do, right?  Sure it was.  Unfortunately, I was in one of those dream-like, paralyzed states where you can’t move or form words, so instead of “HELLO?” it came out “glurm-flum-thhhhh.”  I am so damn menacing, right??

I’m not sure what happened next, but at least I woke up in one piece.  Very strange night, though.