Category Archives: Pets

On Owning Pets, Part 5 – A Potpourri of Pet Tales

“If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.” – Mark Twain

I know I’m going on and on about pets, but I’m amazed at how many I’ve had in my life.

– When I was a kid, we moved into a house where the previous owners abandoned their dog. We took her in and she was a great little dog until she died of old age.

– I lived in East Texas when I was very young. We had a Siamese named “Princess”. She used to love to kill snakes and leave them at the front door. We came home from dinner one night and there was a large rattlesnake on the door mat. We almost died when we saw it. Fortunately, it was dead. Princess had left us a gift.

– I got a Black Lab when I was a teenager. Strictly an outside dog as my mom refused to have animals in the house. We always knew when people were coming to the front door because he always laid there and his wagging tail would thump so hard against the door we could hear it all
over the house. He got hit by a car and I was devastated.

– A neighbor’s dog came over to our house a few times and fought with my lab. It was pretty bad. The first time, I was able to separate them with a hose. The second time, I couldn’t. So I shot the neighbor’s dog.

– Somehow we ended up with several cats at our house when I was a teenager. Those cats had kittens. We had 18 cats. We gave them all away, but not before our garage was infested with fleas.

– Of the cats I’ve rescued over the years, one died in the litter box the day after we got it home, one came home with a UTI, acne, and two ear infections, another died beating its head against the floor… the sound woke us up and I rushed him to a 24 hour vet clinic. He had to
be put to sleep. I only tried it with one dog who ended up having parvovirus. Medusa brought him home (keep in mind this was right after our landlord had threatened to evict us because they found out we had an outdoor cat… so I guess it just made sense to her that we should adopt a dog. Go figure.) and he immediately pooped in the dining room. He had horrible diarrhea and I ended up sleeping on the couch so I could let him out every time he asked (which was every 30 minutes, or so). He was actually a great dog and was really well-behaved. I took him to the vet and was told it would cost about $1,200 to treat him for parvo. So, I took him back to the Humane Society (along with the printouts from the vet). The refused to believe he had parvo even after I showed them the vet’s reports. I told them I’d come back and get the dog once they treated him. They refused. So I got a refund of my adoption fees, gave them the dog and left. Consequently, I don’t rescue animals anymore. Perhaps I should, but I’ve spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on rescued animals. It’s just cheaper and easier to find a reputable breeder.

– Medusa got the kids a gerbil once. Or a hamster. Or some type of rodent; I don’t recall which type, exactly. The net result was a cage that smelled constantly and three-foot area around it that was covered with pine shavings and rodent droppings. Ultimately, the rodent escaped and disappeared. We found it months later when we were moving. It was alive and well and had chewed a hole in the wall behind a bookcase and stuffed it with carpet and padding that it had chewed up under the bookcase. I released it into the wild.

– In college, I bought a fish tank and had some fish. I did this primarily because the tank was the exact size of a Playboy centerfold which is what I used as a backdrop for the tank. I realized, though, that fish poop and tanks have to be cleaned and it just wasn’t worth the hassle. So, I sold the whole thing to a guy I knew. I even let him take the centerfold.

– My youngest daughter owns the World’s Best Cat. Seriously.

– My lady love, I call her “Kitten”, has a dog. This thing is pitiful. It’s a Boston Terrier that’s about 14 years old. Kitten’s dog is almost totally deaf, doesn’t see very well and sleeps about 22 hours per day. She is also the single most food-obsessed creature I’ve ever seen. She can be fast asleep and if one walks into the kitchen and grabs a napkin, she is somehow right there waiting. If actual food appears, she starts shaking violently while never taking her eyes off the food. If you toss her a treat, she’ll catch it in mid-air about 95% of the time… if she misses, she can’t find the treat because she’s too blind, so you have to point it out to her. But, most of the time she catches it.. and it’s amazing how fast and accurate she is.

There are other stories, too. But you’re tired of reading about them and I’m tired of writing about them.

I want a cat, though.

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On Owning Pets, Part 4 – The Eater of Souls

“Dogs act exactly the way we would act if we had no shame.” – Cynthia Heimel

Forget about the Vibrating Pomeranian, The Replacement Dog, the ferret or any other bad pet decision I was forced to endure. By far, the worst of them all was The Eater of Souls.

A few years ago, Medusa decided the best Christmas present our son could ever get would be a dog. Of course, I immediately pointed out that this was a bad idea for a lot of reasons. First, I would be the one taking care of it during the day since I work at home and he would be in school (and Medusa did nothing at all, if she could help it). Second, I had an employee at the time who also worked in my home office and the dog would be a distraction for us both. Third, our son wouldn’t take care of the dog because he’s too wrapped up in video games. Fourth, we like to travel when we can, so the dog would have to be kenneled which is expensive. In short, I specifically said there is absolutely no way we would get another dog as our lifestyle as a family simply wouldn’t accommodate providing a dog with the care and attention it needs.

So, imagine my surprise when Medusa buys him a dog. Not just any dog. Oh, no. We get a Husky. This is the single most difficult dog to contain in the entire world. It needs constant attention and has boundless energy. They are incredibly smart and are amazing escape artists. Ours actually learned how to unlatch the tether from its collar by rubbing his neck against the license plate on my motorcycle trailer. Once the dog escapes, what does it do? Runs away. Every time. That’s what huskies do.

Here’s the thing… if you’re looking for a constant companion and playmate, these dogs are amazing. And they are absolutely beautiful. For us? It was the exact opposite of what our family needed.

Why do I refer to him as The Eater of Souls? Because he would suck the life right out of you. If you weren’t paying attention to him, he whined. If you left him alone for any period of time, he howled. If you tried to kennel train him, he barked, howled and threw himself against the walls of the kennel. We started with an open metal cage which our golden retriever (who was perfect for our family) used until he died. It was very nice. It had a bed in the bottom and padded fabric lining the lower half of the walls and a matching cloth cover that could cover the cage for warmth or to help calm the dog. TEoS destroyed all of the fabric the first time he was put in it. He went on to bend the walls of the cage and throw himself against the corners until the cage opened enough for him to escape. (It was a steel cage, by the way.)

So, we moved to a large hard-shell plastic kennel. The normal techniques of kennel training him simply never worked. TEoS would literally howl and bark from the time we put him in the kennel until we let him out… minutes, hours.. no matter. It was constant.

We tried keeping him on a 20′ tether in the back yard. He’d escape by slipping out of his collar, getting his collar to open, unlatching the tether and once by chewing through the steel cable of the tether itself. We put a harness on him and he broke it. Each time he escaped meant I got to go to the pound and pick him up (and pay a fine).

Travel? Sure. Just spend $50 per day or more to have him kenneled.

Get a pet sitter while we’re gone? No problem. Until she gets so frustrated, she just ties the dog to the coffee table and leaves and we get a call from animal control letting us know they’re breaking into our house to rescue the dog because it’s been howling non-stop for two days.

The greatest moment I ever had with ToES was when part of my town was evacuated because of a forest fire and ToES ended up in the pound (I was out of town when it happened). When I got back in town, the lady at the shelter told me one of the volunteers was completely in love with the dog and was broken-hearted that I was there to pick him up. I immediately filled out the surrender form and paid the volunteer’s adoption fee so I knew ToES would go to the guy who loved him so much.

Ahhh… a happy ending.

On Owning Pets, Part 3 – The Revenge of The Replacement Dog

“There are all sorts of cute puppy dogs, but it doesn’t stop people from going out and buying Dobermans.” – Angus Young

You might ask me, “What are the consequences of allegedly causing the death of a vibrating Pomeranian and then letting the carcass be stolen?”

Funny you should ask.

The consequence of course, is The Replacement Dog.

The Replacement Dog is specifically designed to punish the so-called Grim Reaper of Vibrating Pomeranians (GRVP) while at the same time attempting to fill the void left in Medusa’s life due to the VP’s untimely demise.

Once the VP died, Medusa immediately began the hunt for the best Replacement Dog she could find. The criteria, of course, being A) it had to be WAY more expensive than the VP and B) the GRVP (me) had to hate it. So, she settled on buying a $1,500 Yorkshire Terrier from an exclusive (read: “expensive”) local breeder. I have to admit, the dog was super-cute. Of course, she was also temperamental and emotional and would act out if she was the slightest bit upset. (I’m talking about the Yorkie, although I got confused because it sounds like I’m talking about Medusa… eerie how similar their personalities were.)

We had the dog for about a week when she tried to climb out of her little fenced in area and broke and dislocated one of her front elbows. I was driving to a customer site halfway across the state when I get this call:

GRVP: “Hello?”
Medusa: “The dog broke her leg trying to climb over her fence.”
GRVP: “Wow. What did the vet say?”
Medusa: “I brought her to see a Veterinarian Orthopedic Surgeon.”
GRVP: “A what?”
Medusa: “A Veterinarian Orthopedic Surgeon.”
GRVP: “I didn’t even know they made those.”

So, the initial surgery was going to be $700. And, I was told in no uncertain terms, if this dog was put to sleep there would be another Replacement Dog. So, the dog underwent surgery and had a cast for a few weeks. Of course, when she went back for the follow-up appointment, the vet decided the leg wasn’t healing correctly, so more surgery was needed. Luckily, this time it was only $500. This brings the total investment in The Replacement Dog to $2,700, or about $8,000 per pound.

Another thing about this dog that really annoyed me was that it was trained to potty inside the house. Yeah… why have the dog go potty outside when you can train it to stain the carpets and make the house reek of urine? Basically, we kept little potty pads in her little fenced-in area in our laundry room. Whenever the dog was upset, which was roughly every day, she would poop and pee right next to the pad, conscientiously avoiding getting the pad dirty. As time went by, Medusa decided she didn’t like the dog that much because it hadn’t really bonded with her. (Insert joke about temperamental bitches not getting along here.) Plus, the dog was inconvenient as it kept keeping its pads so clean.

The end result was some friend of a friend of Medusa ended up getting a free $2,700 dog.

Believe it or not, this wasn’t the worst dog-related decision Medusa made.

Really.

On Owning Pets, Part 2 – The Mystery of The Missing Dog… Carcass

“I poured spot remover on my dog. Now he’s gone.” – Steven Wright

In my continuing series on my adventures in forced pet ownership, here’s what happened to the Pomeranian. (If you’re confused, you might want to go back and read last week’s post.)

As I said last week, I allegedly caused the death of Medusa’s Pomeranian. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “Where’s the dog?”
Medusa: “Last night I let her out before I went to bed and told you to let her back in. YOU DIDN’T LET HER BACK IN?!?”
Me: “Um… when did you say that?”
Medusa: “Right before I went to bed!”
Me: “Was I present for this conversation?”
Medusa: “You were sitting right there working on your laptop.”
Me: “Did I respond or acknowledge you in any way?”
Medusa: “I know you heard me!”

The dog was gone for a couple of days. Coming home one night, I noticed a box in front of our door. Now, I own my own IT consulting business and I get packages all the time. So, when I see a box at the front door, I think nothing of it. Especially when the box looks brand new, is perfectly taped and says “FRAGILE: Electronics Enclosed” on the side. I did, however, notice a note on the top of the box. Apparently, a neighbor had found the dog. An owl had torn it up pretty badly and its remains (the dog’s… I think the owl survived) were in the box. When I broke the news to Medusa, her reaction was like something out of The William Shatner School of Overacting. Seriously. She threw herself on the bed and began wailing in the loudest, most hideously morose cry I’ve ever heard. I mean, it was completely over the top. Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure she was really upset. But this was like nothing I had ever seen. I remember my son and I exchanging glances like, “Uh… What the hell is this?” I remember trying to keep a straight face as I murmured some sympathetic nonsense. I mean, I felt bad the dog was dead, but the show Medusa was putting on was just plain entertaining.

Anyway, Medusa calmed down and Pronounced the dog would be cremated.

The next morning, I put the box in the back of my SUV and drove down to the city where I had an 8AM meeting followed by a 10:30AM meeting. I figured I’d take care of the cremation thing that afternoon.

The are, however, inherent problems with leaving a dead animal in the back of one’s car all day. I mean, I was only a few minutes from the house when the car started to smell a little funky. Once I got down to my first meeting, I was driving with the windows down while breathing through my mouth. So, I decided the best thing to do would be to leave the box under the rear end of my SUV where it would be in shade and, more importantly, not inside acting as a biohazardous air freshener. I come out of my meeting an hour later and sure enough, the box is gone.

My first thought was, “Holy crap. Someone thought it was a bomb and called Homeland Security.” I knew most of the building staff at the time, so I asked one of the maintenance guys, the parking lot attendant and a janitor if they had seen a box under my car. They all replied that they had, but they though someone had left something for me and had left it alone. We checked the building’s dumpster and it wasn’t there either. The only conclusion was… someone stole my dead dog.

So, I drive off and all I can think about is some guy getting home, excited to see what he was able to steal from that idiot who left an electronics shipment under his car. I just picture this guy’s face as he opens the box and gets a full-powered whiff of dog carcass. I can’t even imagine what went through his head when he saw what was in the box. I mean, who in the hell would pack up a dead dog and ship it to someone?

Then the phone rang… “Hey. I found a couple of vets who do dog cremations. I’ll send you the addresses.”

Uh-oh.

On Owning Pets – or, as PeTA would say, “Enslaving a Companion Animal”

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” – Robert A. Heinlein

I like pets. Actually, let me rephrase that. I like pets that I want. I don’t like pets that are forced on me. My ex-wife is convinced I hate dogs. This isn’t true. I just hated *her* dogs… you know… the ones I told her not to get and she got them anyway.

Here are true accounts of my (objected to, but forced anyway) pet ownership over the years:

My ex-wife, let’s call her “Medusa”, decided our golden retriever needed a companion, so she got a second golden retriever. Individually, they were well-behaved. Together, they were canine terrorists intent on bringing Holy Jihad against their tyrannical infidel owners. I believe the last incident we endured before we found a home for the new dog was when they destroyed several Christmas presents and couch cushions when we forgot to close their kennel doors and went to my sister’s for the evening.

Speaking of Christmas presents, Medusa decided to get our son a pet ferret. Now, if you’ve never owned a ferret, you’re one of the many people who have enjoyed their lives. I think my son was 8 years old at the time and wasn’t too keen on weird animals, let alone weird animals that bite you and smell like someone left a fermenting diaper in the room. To top it off, she got a six-foot tall cage that weighed about 75 lbs. Of course, for an 8 year old, that’s an easy thing clean and move around. The ferret ended up outside because we couldn’t stand the smell any longer. The next day, the cage had been ripped open and the ferret was gone (did I mention I live in the mountains of Colorado?).

Another brilliant pet-ownership decision was when Medusa decided to get our oldest daughter a dog and spent $500 or so on a Pomeranian. Now, never mind our daughter was around 13 at the time… and never mind we couldn’t get her to do something so simple as not leave food under her bed until it spawned new and heretofore undiscovered forms of life. The agreement was we’d get the dog and she would have to kennel train it. As shocking as it might sound, the dog was never trained. I suspect (know) that Medusa simply got the dog because she wanted it. It was useless. Its basic talents were vibrating and barking at air. Allegedly, I was the reason why this dog died. That’s debatable. An undisputed fact, however, is the dog’s carcass was stolen from me when I was on my way to have it cremated.

I’ll tell you that story next week…