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Andrew Tackles Yak Parts–and a Letter from Ralph

10 Aug

by Roger White

So I’m parked in the den the other day, sprawled on my comfy couch, watching my favorite TV show not shot in black and white or from the 1960s—that being “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”—when I notice Ralph the dog strolling by with something in his mouth.

I’m in a state of continual amazement, by the way, at the things this guy puts in his mouth—Andrew Zimmern, not Ralph the dog. Have you ever watched this Andrewshow? Andrew’s job, apparently, is to travel the world, find every culture’s most unusual and/or disgusting food, and eat it. He’s ingested everything from pig brains, camel head, and cow rectum to just about any and all arachnids and nightcrawlers known to mankind. He’s also consumed the “man parts” of just about every earth creature on four legs. Yeah.

Two of the most repulsive things I’ve ever seen Andrew scarf down, however, were something in the Philippines called balut—fertilized duck eggs, complete with half-formed baby duck tendons and feathers and appendages—and a fetid, rotten fish dish in Alaska called stink head. I think I could smell this stuff wafting balut oohup through the television. Stink head is exactly what it sounds like: fermented fish heads dug up after decaying in the ground for weeks and served on a platter with a side of botulism. To quote Mr. Z, “I’m never eating that again as long as I live. That’s really, really harsh. Ammonia, rotted flesh, spoiled onions. All these flavors come to mind.”

But Andrew does get to tour the planet on the show’s dime. And who else can say that they’ve eaten the testicles of the native species of every continent on the globe? OK, let’s leave that one alone for now.

Anyway, not the point. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I tend to ramble in this forum. But come on, people, that’s my schtick! Just trying to keep the conversation lively.

So I interrupt my watching Andrew tackle fried yak penis in China to reach down and see what Ralph the dog dropped near the couch. It looks like a note.

It is a note, scrawled simply but legibly:

“Deer Dad,

I luv you and Mom like you were actual dogs, and you are extreemly good to me, but some issues I must bring to lite. They are the following:

Ralphie1. I reelly hate it when you get impatient when you take me out to the yard to “do my bizness,” as you so quantely put it. Pooping on command is no picnic—and yelling at me when I go in the house becauz you haven’t taken me out in six hours doesn’t help any eether.

2. Wouldn’t you be fritened of a cat that was bigger than you? Max is si-cotic, man (sp? I don’t have google). Pleez stop telling me to “man up,” whatever that means, and get Max therapewtic help with his anger issues.

3. Pleez refrane from tugging on me to get me to stop smelling something when you take me on my walk. This is my time; this is me reading the sunday paper. Besides, did you no that we dogs possess up to 300 million old-factory recepters in our noses, compared to about six million in you humans? And the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analizing smells is, praportionally speaking, 40 times greater than yours. Chew on that.

4. Why yell at me when I bark at the cable or peezza delivery guy? I don’t know these guys. If you have somebody coming over, let me know, will ya?

5. And listen, I have gas just like you, so there’s no call for scolding me when it happens. Yours don’t smell like rozes, eether, ya know. And this whole blaming me when you know you did it routine? Getting purty old.

I love you guys, serioshly, so pleez take this in the spirit intended. And pleez pass this note on to Mom. Luv, Ralph the dog.”

Damn. I didn’t know Ralph could write. His spelling could use some work, however.

 

Roger White is a freelance human living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spousal human, two precocious offspring humans, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

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Learning about Love & Loss — from your Labradoodle

27 May

by Roger White

 

Here’s a quote from comedian Louis C.K. I’ve been pondering lately: “It’s true, everything that makes you happy is going to end at some point, and nothing good ends well. It’s like, if you buy a puppy, you’re bringing it home to your family saying, ‘Hey, look, everyone, we’re all gonna cry soon. Look at what I brought home. I brought home us crying in a few years.’ widdul puppyHere we go. Countdown to sorrow with a puppy.”

I’m not sure I completely agree with the “nothing good ends well” bit, but I do understand what Louis is saying about pet ownership. The animals we bring into our lives, the furry little family members we choose to share our homes and our years with, wriggle and wag and romp their way into our hearts—and then they leave us, as they must. Ralph the rotund long-haired dachshund has been a loving and much-loved part of our family going on 13 years now, and though I pray he isn’t leaving us anytime soon, we do see the youthfulness waning from our once-rambunctious puppy, little by little. Especially lately, Ralph’s step isn’t as spry and bouncing as it once was, trips to the vet have become more frequent as aches and pains and digestive upsets pop up more often, and we’re finding more indiscretions around the house—a sure indicator that old dachour usually well-behaved Ralphie can’t hold it and wait for his bathroom breaks like he used to. Basically, it’s a lot like what’s happening to me. In fact, I would guess the old boy is aging a lot better than me, considering in dog years Ralph is going on about 91 now. I’m not yet 60, and my trips to the vet—er, doc—are a heck of a lot more frequent than Ralph’s, for sure.

Another life event our little family is going through presently involves an aging parent. My dear wife’s mom is at that point where we’re having to seriously consider the assisted living option. At 89, Bubbie is still as sharp as ever—smarter and quicker still than I’ll ever be—but physically her life is becoming demanding, challenging, and increasingly more difficult. I can only imagine how hard that step has to be, contemplating giving up one’s independence for the safety of a care facility. But I must say that some of the places we’ve visited in trying to make our determination are actually quite pleasant. Heck, I could live at some of these places right now—good meals, regular card games, pool and hot tub privileges, awesome meds, no daily rush-hour hell. And you can watch TV all you want!

And this got me thinking. Why don’t we have assisted living for pets? You know, an old pooch’s home. It would be complete with miniature pet wheelchairs, senior dog chow in the dining hall, group physical therapy sessions on such things as rudimentary tail-wagging, cat avoidance pup in chairtechniques for the older canine, most effective facial expressions for begging, stuff like that. Ralph would surely dig those Jacuzzi jets on his aging backbone. I may look into starting something along these lines. Call it, oh, the Lazy Days Sunset Retirement Kennel. Or Sam’s Silver Years Senior Shih Tzu Spot. Elroy’s Elderly English Setter Center? I don’t know, I’ll work on it.

Anyway, I believe Louis C.K.is being a bit harsh, now that I think about it. I wouldn’t call owning a pet a “countdown to sorrow” so much as I would term it a valuable lesson for us owners. Caring for and then letting go of a dearly loved pet, to me, is more a lesson in love and loss. Our pets show us the true meaning of selfless love—and, maybe as importantly, they teach us how to cope with loss. What greater lessons are there?

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Question for the Ages: Do Snails Get Mad?

31 Mar

by Roger White

 

So I’m sitting on my front porch on a gorgeously sunlit Sunday morning, while Ralph the dog slinks ever so farther into the fringes of the yard and out of my line of vision. He does this so he can stealthily nose through, roll around in, and snack on various dead bugs, worms, and other dogs’ indiscretions in our yard. And to think we let him sleep in our bed with us. Max the fat cat reasonable maxsimilelazes next to me, casually observing a snail making glacial progress across the sidewalk. I begin watching the snail, as well. The little guy is near the edge of the walk, mere inches from the luscious black earth of our garden. It must have taken this tiny gallant gastropod all of this morning and most of last night to ooze his way this far from the driveway, judging from his slimy trajectory, and I marvel at his determination. I figure there’s some greater life lesson here, presumably about fortitude and believing in oneself and putting your best foot forward and all that. Although technically, snails don’t have feet.

Well, to be scientifically correct, the word “gastropod” is derived from the ancient Greek term that literally means “stomach foot,” which would indicate that a snail does indeed have a foot formed from its stomach. However, this is an anthropomorphic misnomer, based on the fact that to humans it appears as if snails and slugs crawl on their bellies. In reality, as we all know, snails and slugs have their stomachs, the rest of their digestive systems, and all the rest of their molluscal viscera in a hump on the el gastropodoopposite, or dorsal, side of their bodies. In most gastropods, this visceral hump is covered by, and contained within, the shell. This will be on the test, and, no, Leonard, you can’t be excused, just hold it in.

So, technically, I’m still not sure if snails have feet.

Anyway, um. Oh, yes, well, just as Eddie Escargot is about to reach the promised land, Max the cat jumps up and bats the unfortunate mollusk back across the sidewalk. The little guy sits there, stunned, back at square one. I swear I hear a tiny, little expletive. Another life lesson, I’m thinking. You know, if at first you don’t succeed, Rome wasn’t built in a day, cats are evil bastards. Stuff like that.

I shake my head at Max’s playful cruelty, wondering if he realizes what he’s done. “Was that necessary?” I lecture. “That is one pissed-off snail.”

Then it hits me. Is it? Is that snail mad as hell and not going to take it anymore? See, these are the things that I ponder. This, among many other reasons we won’t go into in this forum, is why I don’t own or manage a productive business, am not a best-selling author, and never made it to the professional tennis circuit. I am engrossed, wifey would say distracted, by matters such as this: Do snails get angry?

one pissed snailMy curiosity piqued, I dash to the computer and google the question, “Do snails get angry?” I’m not really expecting an answer, but you never know.

Sure enough, the query comes up word for word on the WikiAnswers site. Some bozo replied, “No, slugs and snails can’t get angry because they don’t have faces and therefore can’t frown, smile, or laugh.”

Wait a minute. Snails have faces. Don’t they? So I google “snail face,” only to find a host of sites about snail facials, a Japanese spa treatment in which they smother your head in live snails, which is apparently supposed to retard the aging process because of the incredible properties found in mollusk mucus. Tokyo spas are charging $250 to slather your mug in slugs–$300 if you want to eat them later.

But again, I digress. So I dash back outside to see for myself if our torpid little traveler has a face, only to find Ralph the dog rolling all over the poor thing in the driveway. Yes, Eddie Escargot is escargone. I pick the little guy up and place him gently in the garden, his final resting place. I swear I see a hint of a grin. Snail heaven. Gastropod Valhalla. Hey, there’s a name for our garage band.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Twas Just Weeks Before Christmas

9 Dec

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Twas just weeks before Christmas, and all through the pad

The family was doing its darndest to rouse Dad.

With Thanksgiving turkey still digesting, somewhat static,

I was instructed quite sternly to fetch the tree from the attic.

 

Up there amid the cornucopia of raccoon and rat droppings

notreallymyatticI found the ol’ tree, a few lights, and Yule stockings.

I emerged stiff and sore from all the crawling and kneeling,

Yet I was thankful this time I didn’t fall through the ceiling.

 

We set up the faux fir, still tall but a bit thinning,

Then we threw on the tinsel and bulbs and the trimming.

The wife and I then noticed something odd and perplexing,

Our usually gung-ho helpers were too busy texting.

 

Our daughters, you see, are now teens oh so typical,

Self-involvement in this species has reached levels almost mythical,

So I barked, “If you two jokers want a visit from Saint Nick,

Ya better put down the phones and start decorating quick!”

 

With some grousing and squawking we got the house squared away,

We even found our old snoring Santa to put on display.

Then the tree lights turned off, an infuriating quirk,

’Cause I had to find that one lousy bulb that wouldn’t work.

 

merrydogmaThen the dog decided to start eating all the tinsel,

I pried what I could from his mouth with my pencil.

Our cat then pounced on the tree like a leopard,

Causing the whole thing to crash into Baby Jesus and the shepherds.

 

It was about this time I started debating my sanity

As I chased my tinsel-munching dog, filling the house with profanity.

So the girls hightailed it to the mall for some shopping;

 I caught a glimpse in the mirror, my hair flecked with rat droppings.

damall 

On Visa! On Amex! On Discover and Capital One!

Charge away, charge away ’til the buying is done.

To Nordstrom! To Brookstone! To Abercrombie & Fitch!

Charge ’til my credit rating’s down in the ditch!

 

So I propped the tree upright and shooed the animals away

And opened a cold one; this was the end of my day.

I toasted my loved ones as they drove out of sight,

festivusmanThinking, “It’s Festivus next year—Frank Costanza is right!”

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Jet Set Pet Vet Your Best Bet to Get Your Pet All Set

3 Aug

by Roger White

 

You’re in for a treat in this installment, my discombobulated disciples. Today, This Old Spouse talks with Hector Proctor, famed household veterinarian and director of the Austin-based pet advocacy group Domestic Protectors, about some common pet problems and ailments and how to treat them. Regular followers of TOS know that my family cohabitates with rotund Ralph the long-haired weenie dog and moody Dr Hector ProctorMax the psychotic tabby. If your animals are anything like mine, you’ve often contemplated petricide, or at the very least replacing all your furnishings with old cable spools and concrete blocks. Hopefully, some good words of wisdom from the renowned pet vet will shed some light on the darker corners of animal ownership.

 

TOS: Hello, Doctor Proctor.

DocProc: Call me Hector.

 

TOS: Doctor Hector Proctor?

DocProc: Just Hector.

 

TOS: So Doctor Hector, as director of Domestic Protectors, you’ve lectured that—

DocProc: On second thought, Doctor Proctor is more proper.

 

TOS: I don’t want to dicker, Hector.

DocProc: Doctor Proctor.

 

TOS: Doctor Proctor then. So, what factor is better if your Boxer or Setter is a carpet wetter?

DocProc: This may be a shocker, but a Boxer or a Setter is not a Cocker or a Terrier. If you’re stricter on a Cocker, you’ll get caca on your Dockers.

 watulookinat

TOS: Ooh, heck of a specter, Doctor Hector. Tell us this, what’s a greater indicator that your cat’s a dachshund hater?

DocProc: Well, according to Doctor Edgar Lecter, assistant director at Domestic Protectors, a good detector of a dachshund hater is a spate of “hater craters” near your dachshund’s masticator.

 

TOS: Beg pardon?

DocProc: Scratches near his mouth.

 

TOS: Ah. OK, say your Great Dane’s feeling pain in his metacarpal vein. Can you ascertain the main blame for a Dane’s vein pain?

DocProc: Again deferring to Doctor Lecter, who’s a lecturer on corrective vectors at Domestic Protectors, a sore metacarpal connector sector is often a reflector of an infected schlector.

 

TOS: Schlector?

DocProc: Alright, I made that up.

 

TOS: Um. Here’s a question from a Mrs. Harry Nation of College Station. Dally MatianIt seems Mrs. Nation’s Dalmatian suffers salivation elevation during recreation. Any information?

DocProc: Well, salivation is the machination of canine perspiration, so salivation elevation during recreation is no aberration. No need for consternation, Mrs. Nation, unless exacerbation of your Dalmatian’s salivation leads to dehydration. Then perhaps an examination would be indication for medication, sedation, or further investigation.

 

TOS: A salivation revelation!

DocProc: Mere explanation.

 

TOS: Moving along, a Mr. Jubal Roodle of CampCanoodle writes that lately his Standard Poodle, Mr. Doodles, will eat only noodle kugel or Mr. Roodle’s stewed strudel.

DocProc: Poodles are a moody brood. Mr. Roodle, I conclude you’d be shrewd to mix the stewed strudel or noodle kugel in with Mr. Doodles’ Poodle food, then moody Mr. Doodles will chew the whole kit and caboodle. Mr. Roodle should then slowly exclude the stewed strudel and noodle kugel, moving Mr. Doodles to strictly Poodle foodle.

 

TOS: You said foodle.

DocProc: I did? This is brutal.

 

TOS: True dat. Well, before we scat, let’s wrap this claptrap with a cat chat. Doctor Martha McCurgeon, a surgeon from the rural Minerva region, claims her Persian, Bertha, has an odd version of perversion—an aversion to anything but sturgeon.

Persian AversionDocProc: Aha. This is actually a common Persian perversion. In the biz, we call it Persian Sturgeon Diversion. As a surgeon, Doctor McCurgeon should know her Persian’s sturgeon diversion is a minor perversion amenable to conversion to a Persian’s normal food version with minimal coercion. It’s my assertion that with minor exertion, Doctor McCurgeon can effect Bertha the Persian’s reversion to—

 

TOS: Oop, out of time, Doctor Proctor.

DocProc: Thank God. Next time, please connect with Doctor Edgar Lecter.

 

TOS: I’d like to thank Doctor Hector Proctor, director of Domestic Protectors, for—

DocProc: I’m outta here.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.