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Happy Independence Day!

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Okay, I’m a little late, what with the spending the weekend at my parents house, with additional visitors, (I love you all, but still, ugh), trying to convince a little dog that the world isn’t going to end just because there’s thunder and/or fireworks (ugh. Also: July is a tough month for Lulu), trying to do five days worth of homework in a day and a half (see: spending the weekend with family and friends. Also, ugh) and my washing machine breaking. (expletives considerably stronger than ugh. At least things didn’t flood) So, I hope both of my American readers had a better holiday weekend than I did, and I hope that the one outside the US simply had a good weekend–you know, because it’s Wednesday now…

Also, this:

This is from an advertisement for a local grocery store. I’m choosing to believe that whoever put this ad together knew full well what random quotes do to a phrase, and truly meant those quotation marks around “safe” and “sane”.

After all, “safe” and “sane” fireworks are the best kind, right?

Please, tell me. I don’t remember–I’ve spent the last three Fourth of July’s trying with various degrees of success to peel a nervous little dog from off my face.

Bully

Okay, this will be the last post about the lolcat. (also here and here). Probably.

If you missed the edit from my last post, the lolcat doesn’t live directly below me. A very sweet, kind and understanding woman does. She came to talk to me after reading my letter, and after explaining what was going on in detail, she was appalled, and promised to keep her eyes and ears open as well.  I was embarrassed that I had thought the worst about her, but she agreed that my deduction made sense.  I know have a new suspect for the role of the lolcat–one that I find much less worrisome than the woman who lives downstairs.  For one thing, I know my new suspect has a temper.

After meeting my downstairs neighbor, I had something of an epiphany. The lolcat, whoever she is, is nothing more than a bully–and I learned how to deal with those in Middle School–ignore them when possible, laugh along with their teasing and above all, don’t give them the rise that they’re looking for, and eventually they’ll wander off to find someone who is more fun to pick on.  Not only is the lolcat a bully, but she’s a coward. I shouldn’t let a woman who refuses to air her grievances with me face to face have any control over my life–much less put me in a funk for two and a half days. So, I’m done with her. I’m going to continue to work on keeping Max and Lulu quiet in an effort to be a good neighbor, but I was already doing that. And I’m not going to take extraordinarily measures to keep this woman happy–because, if she’s who I think she is, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot that could keep her happy.

Happiness

that's my girl.

Is happiness an inherent right? As an American, I’ve totally been indoctrinated to the idea that “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are inalienable to all men.

So, pursuing happiness is okay, but what happens when I find it–or don’t, as the case may be? Is my potential happiness worth more or less than another persons? Should I abandon what makes me happy, or at least what has the potential to make happy to allow someone else to find their happiness? I think the answer to that is a resolute “yes” if my happiness willfully causes someone else pain, but what about otherwise?

This all stems from my neighbor the lolcat. She struck again yesterday, but this time, I caught her at it. And, apparently, I can’t have my windows open, or let the dogs have free range of their home because they might bark, and that’s annoying to her. Never mind their mental or physical well-being, or mine, not to mention energy consumption because I have the air conditioner on when it’s 60° F outside.  If she mentioned sleep, or disturbing her baby, I wouldn’t be so upset by it all, but no, what she says is “annoying”.

On the whole, this has put me in a bigger funk than it strictly should have. I don’t like inconveniencing other people, and the thought that what brings me the most happiness on a regular basis–to whit, the dogs–causes someone else annoyance bothers me a great deal.  I don’t know how to deal with this situation, I hate that my neighbor has had this much power over me, especially when she didn’t have the balls to come and discuss her issues face to face. At the same time, I realize that I do have neighbors that I share common walls with, and don’t want to annoy them any more than possible.

I do have to wonder, though, if the lolcat complains about the other children, or the loud music, or the trains, or the roosters, or the traffic or the other dogs or any of the other noises that comes from living in an apartment complex conveniently located to both campus and the freeway.  And is the random, loud sobbing of a grown woman better or worse than a barking dog?

In less whiney news, I’ve started gathering inventory for an Etsy shop. I’m still not sure it’s going to pan out–I’m working out shipping and pricing and the like. Still, I figure it won’t hurt (much) to try.

Doggy Psychology

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Max, you're expression perfectly sum up my feelings about what happened the other night.

I like to think that I understand dogs, Max and Lulu especially. I want to believe that the hours spent watching Animal Planet, and reading dog training advice (not to mention talking to the Trainers)  during my breaks when I was working at PetSmart weren’t for nothing. I’m quietly smug when I see other people struggling with doggy issues that I know all about. I want to think of myself as a competent dog owner.

The past three years with Max and Lulu, though, have showed me that for all that I though I knew, there’s a million things that I didn’t know.  And just when I think that I’m getting the hang of things, they throw me for a loop, and I’m left struggling in the dark.

For instance, a couple of nights ago I was going to bed at about 2 am. This isn’t as bad as it sounds–I had fallen asleep while reading earlier, and this just happened to be when I woke up,  and had time to brush my teeth and put on pajamas and do all of those other little annoying things that a decent person does before going to bed.

As I was settling down, Max started looking for a toy. This isn’t unusual, because you never know, but I might just wake up in the middle of the night and decide to play with him. Plus, it gives Max a distraction if he’s awake and I’m not. The problem was where he was looking for the toy. He kept pawing at the wall next to the bed, like the toy he wanted had fallen between the bed and the wall.

I thought this was a little strange, but gamely moved the bed away from the wall to try and find the toy he wanted–shih tzu‘s are stubborn, and it’s hard to distract Max from a toy he wants. The problem was, there was nothing there. Max crawled under the bed and looked around, all the while growling and chuffing at me like he wanted to play, and I was hiding a toy from him.  He got back up on the bed, and started digging at the bedding–that was really odd, because when I made the bed in the morning I make sure that any toys that spent the night with the dogs end up on the floor.  Still, I pulled back the blankets and sheets, examining each layer to see if I’d somehow missed a thin toy or something.

I hadn’t, so I put the bed back together, and pushed it back up against the wall, and tried to settle down again, but Max was having none of that–he still kept digging at the wall. I wondered if a walk would distract him from whatever it was he was looking for. Upon putting on shoes–the universally recognized symbol that Cori is about to go outside at our house–Lulu perked up and  followed me to the front door. Max kept digging at the mattress and wall.  I was able to call him to go on the walk, and we were able to get things taken care of, and we headed back upstairs.  Upon re-entering the house, Max, my velcro dog, the one who doesn’t like to be more than 10 feet away from me at any given time, made a beeline for the bed, and started digging and growling and huffing again–still playfully, though with a tinge of irritation.

It had been about forty-five minutes since this whole thing started, and I wanted to go to sleep–and it obviously wasn’t going to happen until Max had figured out that there was nothing there, so I grabbed a blanket and pillow, and went to sleep on the couch–cussing all the time. Here I’m supposed to be at least a quasi dog expert, and I just let my dog chase me out of my bed. As I lay on the couch, I pondered what could have caused Max to behave in such a manner–did we have mice? Possible, but we live on a third floor, and the wall he was digging at is an inside wall–it didn’t face the exterior and isn’t connected to a neighbor’s wall at all. Besides, it would be a weird place for mice to show up, I’d expect them in the kitchen or the bathroom, not the bedroom where the dogs spend most of their day.  Something from the utilities, perhaps? We-e-e-l-l…that wall has electricity, and I THINK it’s where the dryer vent exits, but there isn’t gas or water running through that wall. And as for the dryer vent–we have had starlings nesting in it, but there nest had been cleared out, and a cage put over the exterior hole so they couldn’t build a new one there. And besides, even where there were birds living inside that wall, Max never showed them any interest.

Finally, I convinced myself that it was something from downstairs that Max was smelling, that it just happened to come up along that wall. I wasn’t terribly satisfied with that explanation, but it was an explanation. Explanations are important. Especially when it’s nearing 3am and I want to sleep.

I heard Max in the bedroom for perhaps another 15 minutes, then he decided that whatever it was he wasn’t finding wasn’t worth spending the night away from his person, so he came out to join me on the couch. I took that as a sign that it was okay to move back into the bedroom, and did so with the resolve that if Max’s adventure were to continue, he’d spend the rest of the night locked in the crate.

Fortunately, he had calmed down to the point where his half-hearted growls could be quieted with a heavy hand on the shoulders, and I was able to get some sleep, and even make it to class on time the next day, throughly puzzled about what had happened, and why it had happened.

The next night, I went to bed at a much more decent time, and Max settled down quickly, the way he normally does. While I was going to sleep, I was thinking about the dream I had had the night before, trying to figure out if I could frame it into a story (the answer is no, at least not at this time) and I wondered if what Max was did the night before was the result of being woken up from a dream.

The way I figure it, Max sees me opening up parts of the wall all day long, in the form of doors, windows, cupboards and drawers. If he had been dreaming that I (or someone else) opened up the wall by the bed and hid something there, then I woke him up by coming to bed, would he know the difference between dreams and reality? And, if in his dream,  it was a really good toy or treat or whatever, than of course he’d keep going after it.

I don’t know if the dream explanation makes any sense, after all, I can’t exactly ask Max what he dreams about (well, I can,  I just don’t get an answer). As long as it means that I don’t have mice.

Childhood Danger

Bombala's (perpendicular) back-in parking style.

Image via Wikipedia: My parking lot kinda looks like this. Only, you know, less backwards.

I think I’ve gotten to the point where I can start writing again–while the post-a-day is too much, I’m going to aim for a post a week. Maybe, once I get back into the swing of things, I’ll start writing more.

Yesterday, during Max and Lulu’s afternoon walk, I observed one of my neighbors in some questionable activity. It’s not what you think. (Although, I HAVE seen what you’re thinking, on various other walks. I’m not looking for it, people just don’t close their blinds.)

This woman left her apartment with a car seat and her about four-year-old son.  She headed to her covered parking spot, while her son waited patiently in the row of cars closest to the building. Upon getting the car seat into the car, she sprinted the 30 feet or so separating  her from her son, and picked him up. The kid quite literally starts kicking and screaming at this point, and from the way she held him at arms length, this was a normal thing.

So, holding the kid at arms length, she once again runs the 30 feet back to her car, and a few minutes later, leaves.

Grand total of vehicles entering the parking lot during this event? 0.  And even if there were, she was parked after the storm drain/speed bump/giant pot hole (or possibly other storm drain; either way, it was filled with water, and I’m really careful when I drive over it) gauntlet that WILL damage any vehicle whose driver isn’t paying attention.

I watched this in a bit of disbelief. The way I see it, the mother’s method of getting a perfectly mobile child to her car put him in more danger than letting him walk himself the 30 feet to the car. The chances of her tripping seemed infinitely greater than him getting hit by a car. Heck, while I was watching this, Max and Lulu were running around off leash (which I know is a stupid thing to do, but they get more exercise that way) and the kid had a good 3 feet of height on them.

Yes, a kid is different from a dog, but her kid was well-trained enough to wait in the comparative safety of a row of cars for his mother to come and pick him up and risk his life. How much better off would he be if she taught him to look both ways, and carefully walk across while she’s putting the car seat in? Or, if that’s too “dangerous”, (hint: It’s not) than holding his hand and walking across the parking lot with him–you know, while teaching him to look both ways and proceed with caution.

While I was watching this, I was thinking about a post written over at Free Range Kids; click here for the actual post, and here will get you the video Lenore is talking about.

I’m not a parent. I don’t know what it’s like to worry about my child’s safety–but I firmly believe that “protecting” kids from every bump or bruise or overly hyped “Stranger-danger” is, in the long run, harmful to a kid that one day will be expected to grow into a fully functioning adult.

 

I don’t have smart dogs.

So, a few months back, I re-arranged my bedroom.  Before that time, the dog crate was at the foot of my bed, and I had taught the dogs that they could jump from the floor to the top of the crate, then from the crate to the bed, thus, saving me from having to completely wake up in the middle of the night when Lulu goes investigating, then comes back and wants to get back in the bed, but is too lazy/thinks she can’t get all the way up herself.

Lately, Lu has been waking me up in the middle of the night.  A lot.  So I decided that however awkward and weird it looks, I needed to put the crate somewhere where the dogs could use it to get on the bed.

Funny thing,  when you don’t ask a dog to do something for five months, they forget how to do it.

So, all day, we’ve been working on re-learning how to use the crate to get on the bed.  Like the first time around, Max got it in one go.  Lulu…  not so much…

And just when I was congratulating Max on his cleverness, he started growling at the video of himself.

It’s a good thing they’re cute.

Geeking Out

Dear Brain:

I thought we were going to do better about blogging, right?  What happened?

Ahem.

So, I made a couple of vaugely disturbing discoveries about myself since the last time I wrote.  Don’t worry, Mom, nothing you didn’t see coming.

The first one came after tripping over half a dozen dog toys between my computer desk and the bathroom door.  I’ve turned into the crazy dog mom.

Well, okay, not really.  What’s happened is I’ve discovered that for all the money I spend on toys, Max likes the ones I make better, so I’ve made a couple of toys for him, and re-purposed some others.  I’ve been dabbling with the idea of opening an Etsy shop to sell hand-made dog toys, but I’m not sure enough that it would be profitable to actually take that plunge.   Either way, I’ve made a lot of toys lately, and Max is in heaven.

The second discovery is me basically throwing off any notions I have of myself being anything less than a geek.  See, my sister lent me a couple of her old textbooks, one on medical ethics and one on environmental responsibility, to help me research an English paper I have to write.   While I’ve used the books as research, I’ve been enjoying just reading them.  It struck me as a bit absurd, yesterday, that I’m 200 pages into a textbook that I don’t have to read because I find is incredibly fascinating.   Sure, it’s ten years out of date, and things have changed since Sis took those classes, but it has me thinking, which should be the ultimate goal of everything I do, right?

So, yeah.  Things have been pretty quiet for me, at least.  I’m clinging to the idea that that is a good thing–blog fodder not withstanding.

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