Saturday, February 11, 2017

Dog Life

I never approved; I tried to resist; but somehow, despite all my efforts, I ended up living in a house full of dogs. By "full," I mean there are two of them, but that's plenty when they generate enough unwanted byproducts (fur, pee, poop, noise) to belong to a whole canine army.

Though I task my boyfriend with the responsibility of keeping said byproducts under some semblance of control, it's not enough. Not too long ago, it suddenly occurred to me the extent to which I've had to rearrange my entire existence around these two stupid dogs.

The moment I realized I was living the dog life was when I walked out of the thrift store carrying two coats I had selected specifically for their ability to disguise the pale hairs of my two sheddy (Neologism by Valerie! Meaning: characterized by shedding a lot of hair) pets. When you buy your clothes to match your dogs, that's when you know you're committed.

One coat was a yellow and white houndstooth, which, while a very apropos pattern, I probably would have bought even if I didn't have dogs, because it's not often you run across such a sunny winter coat. The other one, however, is purely for the pups. It features a small chevron pattern alternating between dark grey and light tan, for an overall effect, from the distance, of being a brindled grey.

The chevrons work a miracle, though, because the light bands disguise white and tan hairs, and the dark ones hide black hairs (on the occasions when I travel with a friend who has a black dog). I call it my "fur coat" because it's so good at hiding the fur that constantly covers it.
Compare my old dress coat (a lovely black wool) with my new one up close, and you'll see the difference a camouflage color can make.

The brindled one is just as covered with hairs as the black one (you can see one dangling off the sleeve if you look closely) but you would never know it until you take a lint roller to it. 

The coats, however, are just the tip of the iceberg. Here are a few more examples of how the dogs have totally taken over my life.

As I once complained shortly after the first unwanted dog entered my life, he likes to eat the trash. As soon as he's alone in the house, he shuns his dog food in favor of finding some juicy tidbit in the garbage can. Previously, we would put the trash up on a counter or chair so he couldn't reach them when we were not home (nothing like displaying your trash up on a pedestal for all to see), but now I've invented a better solution. 

The trash can now goes inside a microwave cart, which is just tall enough to house it, but not tall enough to allow it room to be tipped over. This doesn't protect the shorter recycling bin, however, so the search continues.

Exhibit B: the rug where Bubalou loves to poop, decorated with the ever-present bottle of vinegar spray that we use to clean up dog messes. I put the spray bottle on top of the rug to remind me that it's still wet so I don't step on it. This occurs pretty much every other day, so the vinegar bottle is basically part of the decor. Word to the wise: if you ever come to visit my house, don't lie down on this rug, no matter how tired you might be.

Speaking of spray bottles, one bottle is never enough in a house full of dogs. A similar bottle of water is always close by, ready to be deployed on any dog who has emitted one too many earsplitting yaps. My boyfriend is singularly unhelpful on this front—despite being the dog janitor, he does absolutely nothing to curb their annoying noises. His idea of discipline is to chuckle and tell them "Look, you made mommy mad" when I finally bring the spray bottle into action. Guess who's the "mean mom" in our family.

With a great number of dog supplies comes a great need for storage. Our dogs have earned a whole cabinet all to themselves, wherein we keep the leashes, the collars, the brushes, the medicines, the two kinds of food, the rags and the dog towels and all the spray bottles that are necessary for keeping two dogs happy, healthy, and well fed, while simultaneously keeping the house that they live in something resembling clean. Below, you see my large former pie safe, now dedicated to dog storage.
Oh, and that huge pink box next to it? That's the latest batch of diaper liners for Bubalou, which we must somehow stuff in the cabinet along with all the other detritus.

One of the nicest features of my house is the bay window. When I first got the house, I anticipated filling it up with a treasure trove of knick-knacks and a veritable jungle of houseplants. The only problem was, the dogs love it as much as I do. Every chance they get, they are leaping into the window, where they wreak all kinds of havoc, knocking over all the knick-knacks in their eagerness to demonstrate their earsplitting-yapping ability to every casual passer-by. In January, when my jungle of houseplants had all but died from the cold, I covered the window with an insulating plastic sheet, and was quite proud of my work, until the dogs decided to tear it to ribbons in their futile efforts to scratch their way into the hearts of the aforementioned passers-by.

All that remains of my once beautiful window covering.
I had to wage a border war. On a trip to Community Forklift, I chanced to find a collection of metal grates (for 5 dollars!) that happened to be the perfect size to cover the opening of the bay window. I have no idea what the grates were for originally, but now they are a fence. Yes, I have what amounts to bars on my window—not to deter burglars, just to deter my own stupid dogs.

One of the dog battles that I finally won – at great cost to myself – was the battle of the couch cushions. For some reason, the dogs could never content themselves with sitting on the seat of the couch. Oh, no, they had to scramble up to the back and sit on the back cushions until they were squished and deformed into hideous blobs with dog-sized indentations. For a while there, my entire vocabulary seemed to consist of "Jack! Get off the back of the couch!" until finally one day, I simply removed the back cushions entirely.

I left one cushion turned sideways for old-times' sake.
The dogs can sit on that one all they want, cause it's certainly
not comfortable that way for anyone else!
Now, the only things on the couch are slipcovers (to keep the dog fur and drool stains at bay), a blanket (to cover the one spot where the slipcovers don't reach) a couple of pillows (with pictures of the dogs on them naturally), whatever squeaky toy they saw fit to bring up there with them today, and, of course, the dogs themselves.

To get the couch actually in a state fit for human use is such an ordeal that, well, it's just  a dog couch now.
As if the dog couch wasn't enough, each dog gets his own personal (dogal?) bed.

The dog beds take up all of the floor space next to our human bed...for absolutely no reason, because when we go to sleep, this is how it looks.

Notice that's a dog butt where my body should be, and another one where my head should be. If that doesn't prove I've let dogs take over my life, I don't know what does!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Musings on Midnight Mayhem

Not too long ago, I was reading a story. A very masterfully written and gripping story, by a very talented someone who just might read this blog once in a while.

In this story, I encountered the following line: "I screamed at the top of my lungs. My neighbors' lights went on immediately afterward and I ran back inside."
It got me thinking. This is a classic scene in lots of books, movies, TV shows, and other works of fiction. Loud noise from somewhere outside a residential area, followed by lights turning on everywhere (assuming the action occurs at night). But does it happen in real life?

Let's set up the scenario. You're resting in bed in your house (if you don't live in a house, you'll have to use your imagination). It's a little after bedtime, but you're not really asleep yet. You're just settling in when you hear loud banging and yelling coming from the direction of the neighbors. What do you do?

I know what I would do. I would crawl out of my bed, creep to the window (or door or whatever portal was required to give me a line of sight into my neighbor's territory) and try to see what was going on without being observed myself. If the disturbance was coming from a place I couldn't see, I'd put my ear to the wall or floor and be quiet, hoping I could hear some information. That would be my first instinct, which I would act on without engaging in very much thought.

This is not what happens in stories, and movies, and TV shows, and pretty much any work of fiction I've ever encountered. In these kinds of made-up scenarios, the first thing that happens when someone creates a ruckus at night, is the neighbors all start turning on their lights.

Is this really what people do when their environment is disturbed? Light up giant glowing beacons and make huge targets of themselves?

I'm not saying, of course, that every neighborhood disturbance is a dangerous situation that requires stealth and self-protection strategies, but I am saying that anyone with a lick of sense would probably want to exercise a bit of discretion and not immediately reveal their position (or their nosiness) before even knowing what was going on. 

What do you think, friends and readers? Am I the odd one out here, or is this just a classic case of "Everyone in the world of fiction has to be stupid, or how else would we have horror films?"