The Dog Blog

She is cute...

She is cute…

 

Four months ago my neighbor walked up my drive. I was outside working in the yard.

“Danny.”

“Yep?”

“This is our new puppy, Penny. She’s just a couple of weeks old. You wanna dog share?”

As we talked, I realized he and his children had purchased the dog without full permission from his wife. He was trying to save his marriage.

“It’s an interesting concept,” I admitted. If I was ever going to have a dog, split custody would be the way to go. You’d have built-in care when you went out-of-town, and you could split the expenses.

I briefly wondered if there was someone who might want to do the same with my kids.

I’ve always felt I was sort of robbing my girls of one of a child’s most precious experiences by not allowing them to have a pet, well save the Hermit crab. Perhaps this was a way to give them what they desperately wanted with only half the pain for me.

We decided that my neighbor would potty train the dog and that we would keep it when they went on vacation in several months. That would be our test drive.

It’s several months, we’re on day 7 of 9, and we’re failing the test.

I have spent the last week of my life arranging my schedule around Penny’s bowel movements. There is only one being on this earth that I’m willing to make adjustments to my schedule for bowel reasons:  ME. I do not like this.

I wake up at 6 AM so Penny can pee. She then eats. My neighbor told me that exactly ten minutes after she eats, we must take her outside because she WILL be pooping soon. The one thing he had wrong is “exactly” ten minutes. It could be less. It could be 9 or eight. Just ask my dining room carpet.

Oh, and just because she poops ten minutes later does not necessarily mean she ain’t gonna poo 20 or 30 minutes after that. Just ask the rug in my living room.

And guess what? I’m out of plastic Harris Teeter bags. Wanna know why? Because when I take Penny out to do her business, I then have to PICK HER BUSINESS UP and CARRY IT WITH ME for the rest of our walk. Yes, I have to pick up her dung, it’s a law in Raleigh. On Tuesday I happened to have an itchy nose. I had the leash in my left hand and bag of her brownies in my right hand, although I sort of forgot. When I reached up to scratch my nose, I realized I had %$#& about an eighth of an inch from my left nostril. I gagged.

At work I was telling a buddy of mine this story and he said, as if he had pondered this on several occasions, “You know Danny, you never see white dog poop anymore.” He then walked out of my office.

He’s right! When I was a kid, there was petrified white dog poop all over our neighborhood. When I’d mow the lawn it would fly out from under the blades.

Never, ever do I see that anymore.  I miss it.

You know why we don’t see it anymore?  It’s because we PICK UP OUR DOG’S FECES! That’s not right. We shouldn’t do that.  It should stay in nature where it belongs.

Although Penny is extremely sweet, and I have enjoyed her, this week has taught me that the Tanner family will not EVER be getting a pet, not even a fish. I don’t want to go outside at 11 PM waiting on a dog to decide which blade of grass to pee on. Twice I went myself in the yard while waiting. I thought that perhaps my example might spur her on; plus it was one less thing I’d have to do once I finally got back in the house.

The beautiful thing about the week is that I don’t think any of my kids will ever ask me if we can have a pet again. They’re as exhausted as I am!

I think I’ll keep my kids full-time. I think I’ll keep Penny on the occasional weekend. That will be plenty for all.

 

 

 

 

Sunday Post 122: Fun-sucking Father

I think part of being a great father is really trying to put yourself in your kids’ shoes, trying to get into their psyches, working hard, hard to understand.  Too often, I miss that mark.

We were at the beach this past week with my extended family.  Each year, mid-week, we head to Calabash for seafood.  There are about six restaurants down there, I think they all serve the same food.  We go to the one my grandfather took us to when we were young.  It didn’t matter which beach we went to in North or South Carolina, he’d toss us all into his Lincoln Continental, which was equivalent in size to a 15 passenger van, and trek us down to Captain Jacks.

“It’s the best seafood on the east coast and cheaper,” he’d point out.

“But it takes three hours and two tanks of gas to get there and back,” we’d complain.

“It’s worth it.”

When Granddaddy Tanner made up his mind to do anything, there was no reasoning.  You just jumped in the back of the car and cracked the window so as not to choke on the smoke from an always lit cigarette.

After our family works ourselves into a gaseous fried food trance, we head to the year-round Christmas shop right up the road.  This year it started before we could get back to the car, Michelle turned on the full, annual, sales pitch.

“Dad, can I get a Hermit crab?”

Anticipating her move, I was ready for battle.  “Absolutely not,” I barked.  “It’s a ridiculous waste of money.  Don’t even start with me.  The answer is no!”

This year I would be firm from the get go.  We had three empty cages in the attic back home from conch pets of years’ past – nameless memories of nothing.  The little boogers don’t do a thing except sit, eat and poop.  You can’t pet them.  You can sleep with them.  You can’t take them for a walk.  We should release them all back into the wild, not paint their shells embarrassing colors with the Christmas shop’s owner’s fingernail polish.

“But daaaad.  I really, really want one.  I’ll take care of it this time.  I’ll feed him.  I’ll play with him.  I promise.”

“NO!” my voice got louder, “YOU CAN’T PLAY WITH A HERMIT CRAB!  Get a pet rock.”

It’s my brother’s fault, I thought.  He let his kids buy these damn varmints every single year.  My kids now think it’s the norm.  He such a pushover!

I looked at DJ hoping for an ally.  “You went through this stage.  What is it that compels every Tanner child to have this insatiable desire to own an oceanic crustacean?”

“Dad.  You won’t let us have any animals.  Maybe if we had a dog or a cat or even a bird, your kids wouldn’t be obsessed with getting a crab.  It’s all we can shoot for!”

“I guess you’re right.  We all need something to take care of.”

“Yeah.  And as a ten-year old, it feels really good to be able to purchase something alive that’s within your price range.  You can buy it, set it’s house up and care for it – all on your own.”

“Hum.”

I thought for a minute and the light bulb went on.

“Michelle, come here.”  She drooped over anticipating my next harsh words.

“Honey, I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have reacted so negatively to your crab request.  It was wrong of me.  If you want to buy one with your money, I’ll support you.  You have to take care of him, but it’s your decision.”

“You don’t really want me to get one, do you?”

“It’s okay.  It’s your decision.”

You would have thought that I told her she could have a pet giraffe.  She was so excited.

Maybe I was a pushover.  Or maybe, after a ridiculously knee-jerk reaction to a simple request, I got my wits about me.

I do that all too often.  My kids call me the fun-sucker.  That’s not who I want to be.  I want to add fun, not remove it.

How do we, as adults, so often forget what it was like to be a kid?  Our kids just want to be loved and to give love.  They want our time – a dad who hates cold water to be in the pool with them.  Or an animal that they can shower with affection and care for on their own.

And yet, so many times we rob them of the opportunity.  What was I thinking?

Piggy Pressure

Posted by Danny

The pig pressure is mounting.  Be strong – be strong.

The week before Christmas I had a sitter in for the girls.  I thought the sitter was my friend – we go to church together.  She is not –

Apparently when I called her to stay with the girls, she began thinking about a way to entertain them while I was out.  She reads our blog and had talked with DJ about the girls’ desire for an animal – specifically their preoccupation with a swine.

Rather than watch a nice G rated movie or play Monopoly, this calculating caregiver devised a plan that would both entertain the girls and support their oinkish objectives.

They spent the first hour of their time together drawing and cutting out pigs – there had to be fifty of them.  And on the back of each one, a message was written that would endorse the adoption of a sow.

The first piggy cut out I found was under the milk jug in the fridge.  The cute pink head, complete with snout, stuck to the bottom shelf.  I picked it up with curiosity – turned it over and found this inscription: We will help! 

I didn’t think much of it, besides, it was 1 am and I was hungry.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that there were pigs strewn about the house from my soap dish, to the mailbox, to my favorite pair of boxer shorts.  I even discovered one the following morning tucked under the windshield wiper, flapping in the wind as we drove down Capital Boulevard to church.

I’ll have to admit, the marketing campaign was compelling.  Their well thought out angle was clearly crafted by this woman who heads the communications department for a local nonprofit. 

  • Pigs teach responsibility.
  • They’re good for the environment.
  • Dads + Pigs = Love.
  • No extra vaccuming needed (hairless).
  • Coolest pet ever.
  • Jesse will build the fence.
  • Great blog posts.
  • We’ll buy him a bowtie collar.

All well and good, but I think the icing on the cake came when I opened my stocking on Christmas morning.  In the very top was a note in cursive:

Dear Danny, get the pig.  Santa

If I took creativity into account when considering the purchase of a family pet, we would already have one. 

I love my nutty kids but can’t figure out where they get that trait.

Our Decapod Crustacean

Posted by Danny

We’ve avoided animals like the plague in our family.  Lisa grew up with a dog that had bad gas.  I with a cat named Bunny who had an identity crisis.  And one day when I was in about 9th grade, I got to see my first X rated event when Reagan, our neighbors tom cat, raped Bunny in our driveway.  I did all I could but I just couldn’t stop him.  She never was the same.

One trick Lisa discovered was to give a kid a token pet to appease them.  Two started out with fish.  Our second phase was to give them something they could hold – a hermit crab.  We didn’t really have a phase 3.

DJ got her first when she was about six or seven.  Stephanie followed several years later.  This year, when shopping near Myrtle Beach, Michelle spotted an enormous cage filled with the nasty boogers.  I bet there were 150 of them – climbing all over the place.  One of them changing his shell so you could see his entire body – something I’d never encountered in my years as a crab owner.

I quickly acquiesced to her request hopeful that this would put off the dog conversation for another six to eight months. 

All three girls decided they had to have one – but I was only bankrolling Michelle’s crustacean.  The other two were on their own.

They stood and stared at the choices.  It was overwhelming, like having to pick out your baby from a lineup of cribs.

These days, the store owners have folks paint the crab shells to make them more appealing to the prospective owners.  Which to choose?  They all seemed perfect in their own little way.

The one with a flower on its shell?  How about Superman?  The fuchsia with neon green stripes looks like a winner.  Personally I liked Goliath – the largest one in the cage.  His legs sprawling down the one limb that spanned the axis of the cage. 

“That ones too big dad.  His pinchers could really hurt.”

I went to the counter to ask who would open the container and fish out our choices.

The stout, grandmotherly checkout clerk informed me that the cage was not locked.  “YOU get it out sir.”  The implication was I ain’t sticking MY hand in there.  I’ve seen what can happen.

“So I just open it and get the ones I want?”

“Yup.”

They decided on their pick:  for Stephanie the bright pink, DJ wanted Spiderman, and Michelle the one with the dainty pink flower.  I mustered up my courage and wound my arm through the hole – watching Goliath with one eye and my own prey with the other.

Stephanie’s was wild – a poor choice she thought.  “I’ve changed my mind daddy.  I want a calmer one.” 

“Me too,” DJ echoed.  “Spiderman looks angry!”

“I don’t like mine either – I think he’s dead.  Look, he’s just sitting there.”

I go in again.  “Are you sure this is it?”  The decision were made.

“They need extra  shells, a sponge and plenty of food” my checkout friend informed.

Yeah, you’re all about helping now aren’t you?  Clearly grandma was working on commission.

On the way out the door, each one made a last-minute swap.  My patience and bravery were about to expire.

In the car Stephanie informed me that her crab and DJ’s were cuddling…or mating.

“Do they really…” DJ didn’t finish her sentence.

I was glad.  I didn’t need to have that conversation with the grandparents in the car.

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