Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Parents are Coming! The Parents are Coming!

"There's been a change of plans."

I don't know about you, but each time my mom tells me that, I get a sinking sensation in my stomach. This time was no different.

"Instead of having you come and get Blue, we'll just bring him to you, and then crash at your place that night on our way to [latest vacation locale.]"

Well, crap.

I realize that my parents mean well. They're thinking that they are retired, and that it's easier for them to bring me Blue to dogsit (as I offered) when they go on vacation instead of having me come and get him. They're saving me a six hour round-trip drive. I appreciate that kindness and consideration. It's the last part of the sentence that makes me break out in hives - specificially the "crash at your place that night" part.

My place is tiny. Like, I have seating for six people in my living room if people are willing to squeeze. Like, it's about ten Emily steps from my front door to my kitchen. Like the door to my backyard through my kitchen hits the stove when you open it. I picture my dad (who is not a small man) being supremely uncomfortable.

And now my parents are coming. More specifically, my mother is coming.

And all of a sudden the clothes that I have folded, but never bothered to put away and are currently stacked on every available space in my bedroom* scream at me for the messiness that needs to be straightened. All the school books scattered in my living room must be gathered and shelved. The recliner that I haven't seen in months that is currently holding clothes that have no home? Need to clear it. The bags of items that are currently waiting to be taken to Goodwill? Need to be taken. Bedspread? Needs to be washed. The list is endless. After all "mom clean" is a completely different thing than "acceptable for Emily" clean.

And here's the thing. My place really isn't messy. It's just not deep-clean-I'm-comfortable-with-my-mother-seeing-it clean.

And then there are the sleeping arrangements. Luckily, I have a queen sized bed (that's too big for my bedroom, but that I wasn't willing to part with) that I can give to my parents while I relocate to the couch for a night. Unluckily, I only have air conditioning in my living room. Did I mention that my parents were coming in May? Like, in the spring when it's getting warm? Oh, and did I mention that last summer I used to shower at night and go to sleep with wet hair to help with keeping cool at night? Even with the open window with fan? (Which reminds me, I need new pillows...)

Oh, and did I mention that being really warm at night is a trait that I genetically inherited from my father?

So I called my father and voiced my concerns. "No problem at all," he said, "I'll just sleep on your couch in the living room."

Have I mentioned that my father is not a small man?

And that is how the boy came to find out that part of his Saturday this weekend will be spent hanging a ceiling fan in my bedroom.

Part of me is thrilled that I get to spend this unexpected time with my parents. That we can go on a walk, that I can show them where I eat, where I hang out....that they can see a glimpse of my daily life and know that I'm doing just fine.

But the other part of me? REALLY wishes that I had a self-cleaning house.**

*special thanks to Candy for not judging me on the messiness of my bedroom. or was it punkinmama? I can't remember. Either way, I wasn't judged and I love you for it.

**At least they're coming after finals.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Woman's Work

Once upon a time, I moved from an apartment to a house. Since I was still a renter, I was surprised that the job of caring for the lawn fell on my shoulders. Still, I do love me the novelty of new things to I set about procuring a mower and trying to figure out how often I would actually have to mow.

First, a mower. I had a few restraints when I was thinking about getting a mower. A) it had to cost little to no money. B)
it had to cost little to no money. C) it had to be something that I could actually use. Luckily zlionsfan had an old mower that he had since graduated from (to a real "big boy" mower with a motor.*) It looks something like this. I was enchanted with the idea that it was green (not the color) that it was small, easy for me to maneuver and, of course, that it was free. I had visions of putting on my iPod and mowing my (not very big) yard on the weekends. This yard maintenance thing is a breeze!

Then my dad mentioned that he had an edger for me. I'm embarrassed to say that I had no idea what an edger was. Wait, you mean I have to do something other than mow my yard? Originally my dad had a gas powered edger for me, but upon careful consideration, decided to trade my little brother the gas powered edger for the electric edger for me. Why? Well, because the electric edger is lighter. I was insulted. What? You don't think I have the arm strength needed to edge my postage-sized yard? Seriously?

After my first go-round with the electric edger, and the subsequent day of not being able to raise my arms to shoulder level, I bowed to my father's incredible foresight. I then settled into an easy routine of mowing about once every ten days, and edging maybe once per month. My neighbors, mostly men, thought I was insane. I was routinely offered "help" with my lawn (at a cost, of course) and I routinely turned them down. I think that in this neighborhood, a woman doing her own yardwork is a bit, um, odd.

This year the weather has been a bit sporadic. There were beautiful days separated by random days of rain. Each weekend, I would tell myself that I was going to mow on Sunday, and it would inevitably rain. Then, last Wednesday, I stepped out of the house to face a yard that pretty much looked like this. Fabulous. I decided to mow during a weekend that was already packed to the gills. Until I spoke to my neighbor who mentioned that he had the holy grail of lawn care products - a self propelled mower. He would mow this weekend. YAY!! Not only would I be spared the comments of men in my neighborhood, I wouldn't have to force my little mower through the amazon jungle that was my lawn.

When I got home Monday evening after class and still had to bushwack my way to the front door, I was forced to admit that perhaps my neighbor suffered from the same "later" disease that sometimes afflicts the boy. Since my nagging would have no effect on a virtual stranger, I sucked it up and pulled out my little mower. After one length down the yard, I was already cursing my neighbor** and his phantom power mower, and had already decided that I was going to marry the next man who spoke to me - simply to have someone else to handle this first mow of the season.

Then came the beginning of the comments, and I took back that line of thinking. All comments came from men walking on the street or driving by and pulling over to offer advice. Apparently gender plays a big role in the household duties in this neighborhood and apparently women don't mow the lawn. All the comments had the same theme, "Hey baby! You shouldn't be doing that! Don't you have a man to do that for you?" or "Why don't you let me take care of that for you?" Right. Yes, I have a man to do this for me. Unfortunately he's busy right now inside making dinner and doing my laundry. But hey! Thanks for asking! After about ten comments, I had my fill of sexism and decided to let Casey out in the front yard with me. The bonus of having a well trained dog is that she says within eyesight and doesn't need to be leashed. Miraculously, the comments ceased. Apparently woman with lawnmower = woman to be harrassed. Woman with lawnmower and pit bull = woman to be ignored. Sweet.

After battling with my jungle for about an hour, I had gotten to the point where I could push my mower easily over the lawn for the second time to catch any thick patches of grass that had gotten away the first time. I was no longer getting stuck on various leaves and sticks, and thus the cursing and evil thoughts had ceased. But twilight was setting in, my arms were shaking, and I still had the small portion of my lawn near the street to get through. At this point I couldn't remember why I so enjoyed the "green" aspect of this mower and I was considering my options for next year. A) get married before the first mow of the year so that I don't have to do it, B) suck it up and buy a power mower, C) move back into an apartment, or D) not wait quite so long to pay someone to do the first mow of 2010. Luckily, a very kind neighbor with a power mower had been watching me battle with my jungle and decided to offer his power mower services. Yes, please. He finished up the portion that I had not yet begun to attempt. It was at this point that I learned a valuable lesson. Insinuate that Emily can't do or shouldn't be doing something, and she will rebel and get angry. Engage her in a discussion about her "green" mower, and then offer to assist with your power mower and she will fall down at your feet in gratitude.

I will say that I got sort of proud and fluffy when I stepped outside into the rain today and my lawn was no longer threatening to take over the house. Look what I can do!! Girls rock! I would throw up my arms in celebration if I could move them at all. As it is, the edging will have to wait until the weekend at least. We'll see.

*I get all sorts of his hand-me-downs. I'm thinking about registering myself as a not-for-profit under the name zGoodwill.

**Who smokes, btw. And who I see out on his front porch step all. the. time. But did he show his face once during the 90 minutes that I was mowing? Of course not. I know you can hear me in there!! Get out here and let me make you feel bad while I struggle through the grass and you sit there and watch me!

Monday, April 27, 2009

I never rarely sunburn

This weekend was beautiful. I'm so sorry it's over. It was absolutely gorgeous, and sunshine-y, with a breeze and blue sky and clouds.... As a result, I spent quite a bit of time outdoors. And as a result, my arms are currently the color of the red bricks that make up my house.

See, when the boy burns (which he often does, and did this past weekend as well even though I told him multiple times to put on sunscreen...) he turns this alarming fire engine red. It really does scare me. We're talking a red that glows in the dark. He then inevitably blisters and peels. And he tells me it's painful. It certainly LOOKS painful.

My burn is not like that. Oh, it still hurts, but it's more of a brick red that will eventually settle into brown. I've only peeled once, and it was after the red had settled into this great dark tan color that I was sad to see wasn't actually tan, but burnt skin instead. After that I started using more sunscreen and less tanning accelerator. It was also then that I began using the word "rarely" instead of "never" when discussing my sunburns. I was 21. See? An old dog CAN learn new tricks! And I actually did use sunscreen on Sunday. Unfortunately, I got burned on Saturday.

Why was I outside so much? Well, on Saturday I took a bike ride with my good friend Candy. We only road about seven miles. Not like last time. But still, there were hills, there was Emily with her dog, I think it was a fun time for everyone.* Dmoore, I promise that if you want to come next time, I will leave Casey at home.

On Sunday, I walked with my friend punkinmama in the March of Dimes walk for babies. In early April, the blogosphere was saddened by the death of Madeline Alice Spohr. I had never read her mom's blog before, but punkinmama is a longtime reader, so she was especially moved by the news. She got super motivated and ended up raising over $700 for the cause! It was awesome and I am so proud of her. There's not much that gets me so motivated, so watching punkinmama was a real inspiration and I was really glad to see all of her hard work go towards such a good cause. (Still, I'm not gonna lie. I was a bit of a fish out of water at this event. Hmmm...) We even met other cool bloggers who were rallying for Maddie. The walk was five miles and began at 10:00am. Incredibly, we finished by 11:20. Look at us go!! The weather was beautiful, I got to see punkinmama's little munchkin at the end, and I totally judged a woman who was walking an incredibly fluffy standard poodle with a rhinestone tiara. It was a good day. The only trauma came when punkinmama made me wear beads.**

After those five miles, I headed over to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the HSI Mutt Strutt. (Note to fundraising organizers - if we can schedule these for separate weekends so that Emily has time to rest, that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!) Casey and I made our way around the very same track that is home to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing!!! She wasn't very impressed. I think she only did it for the compliments (look at her eyes!!) and the doggie treats supplied by Three Dog Bakery. (She recommends the peanut butter variety.) Casey was an angel in the madness that was what felt like thousands of dogs and their owners walking at once.***

After that Casey and I pretty much crashed on the couch. I woke up when I rolled over and something was hurting my shoulder. I realized quickly that it was the sunburn pressing against the couch that was hurting my shoulder. Marvelous. Luckily today is just as sunny as the weekend was, so I'm not tempted at all to skip class and spend more time outside. (<-- Sarcasm.) Now if you'll excuse me, there's a bottle of aloe that has my name on it.

*Yes, this means that Casey ran with us for about seven miles. Ran. For seven miles. I'm now 100% convinced that that dog would run to the ends of the earth for me. She didn't seem any worse for wear on Sunday, and seemed a bit miffed that I didn't want to take her to the March of Dimes walk with me. I then explained that there would be quite a few children there, and she went willingly into her crate.****

**My choices were, beads for parents, beads for future parents, beads for parents who had premature babies, beads for parents who have children who suffer from birth defects, and beads for parents who have lost a child prematurely. Guess which ones I had to wear? Yes, punkinmama made sure I was "walking for my future baby."

***I would just like to issue a public service announcement here. If you never walk your dog, if your dog's idea of exercise is being let into the backyard to use the bathroom, perhaps (PERHAPS) you should not think it is a good idea to take your dog on a 2.5 mile walk in temperatures above 80 degrees farenheit. Just a suggestion. Otherwise, you might end up carrying your dog for a good portion of the walk. And if your dog isn't getting regular exercise, I'm going to venture a guess that it's not the lightest dog on the planet.

****I don't actually talk to my dog, you know.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Friday Conversation

"Do you remember that blogger that I talk about all the time?"

"Which one?"

"The one who took the picture of the dog that's not mine but is still my desktop picture at work?"

"Right. She's the one who wrote that post about Chuck that you made me read because you laughed so hard that Coke came out of your nose."

"Correct. That one. She wrote a book."

"Is that what you're reading?"

"Ummmm Hmmmm. Check it out. Look at the first page."

"It's blank."

"Keep flipping."

"To Emily, Much Love, Heather B. Armstrong... No shit? That's awesome! Where did you get this?"

"From the most awesome cousin in the whole wide world."

"Wow. That really is awesome. What a perfect gift. This is the sort of thing that I would do if I was a good boyfriend, right?"


"Maybe I should call her for lessons."

"Um, I don't think even SHE is that patient..."

(All facetiousness aside, thanks a lot, cuz. I'm nowhere near done, but so far the boy and I have gotten endless laughs out of certain passages, and she's convinced me 110% that I don't need to ever be pregnant. Ever.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tricky Tricky

So, I've had Casey since she was six weeks old and looked like this. She was originally "just a foster" but come on. I don't know any dog lover that can raise and potty train a six week old (six pound!) puppy and then give it up to someone else. And so Casey became my "firstborn." I had just gotten involved in pit bull rescue at that point, and since Casey was my first dog, I read voraciously on what to expect, what I should do, how I could train her. I knew that some pit bulls are just dog aggressive. That it just kicks in at a certain age and there was nothing I could do. But I also read that the more I exposed Casey to different people and scenarios, the better she would be at handling new situations when she got older.

So that's what I did. Every time I was walking Casey and I came across another dog owner, I would ask, "Friendly?" If the answer was yes, I would say, "Can they meet?" Casey met big dogs, little dogs, loud dogs, quiet dogs. She met women and men of all ages. She was around bicycles on the Monon, she was around cats (Laney), I fed her out of different bowls in different places. We went on car rides to all sorts of different parks and she's been going to doggie daycare since she was six months old.

But through all of that, I never realized one area that Casey didn't get any experience at all - children.

Looking back, it's not surprising. I didn't have any children. Most of my friends didn't have any children (yet.) I lived in an apartment complex that didn't have many families, and those that were in the complex were not usual associates of mine. Casey just....never met any children.

Fast forward to today. Kids scare the bejeezus out of Casey. Seriously. They terrify her. There seems to be an age range of about 5-18 where she wants absolutely nothing to do with kids. I have no idea why, but I don't really want to push it. When I had Blue, he was a good buffer for neighborhood kids who wanted to "pet the doggie." Each time I spoke to a neighborhood child, I would tell them how to "meet" a dog, and have them extend their hand for sniffing. Once they passed the sniff test, they could pet the dog. (Casey doesn't even go for the sniff test. She hides behind me.) Running full out towards my dogs is expressly (expressly) forbidden. Like, I'll get between them and the dogs.

Now that Blue's gone, it's a bit more challenging. Yesterday, for example, I met a nice lady in my neighborhood who also had a pit bull. She had several children in her yard, and once she found out that I volunteer quite a bit with pit bulls, she had several questions about training, behavior, etc. They were all questions that I wanted to answer....but she had a 6 or 7 year old son.

In my experience, the little boys are the most difficult to keep away from Casey. I'm not sure if they're just being "brave" or if they all really believe that they will be the ONE CHILD that my dog will like. I told him several times that my dog was not friendly and he should not pet her. His mom understood and told him the same thing. And yet, every time she and I got into conversation, I would see him inching towards Casey....who was keeping one wary eye on him. Several times he made a sudden movement just to see Casey jump. Each time his mother would call him back with a reprimand. And the cycle would repeat. Eventually I just excused myself from the situation and continued on my walk. I just figured that I would speak to the mother later sans dog.

It's both perplexing and worrisome. I mean, I've spoken to some who believe that dogs pick up on their owners feelings. And it's true, I'm guarded around strangers, and I'm no fan of children....but I love LOVE my friend's children, and that seems to make no difference to Casey. If I touch or hug a stranger that enters my home, it immediately seems to signal to Casey that there is no danger, but no change in my behavior towards children makes a difference.

And so I'm not quite sure how to proceed. There are only a couple of situations where I feel uncomfortable when Casey is around. For example, we'll go to Mutt Strutt next weekend with no reservations....even with children around, I know Casey will be fine with the other dogs and people, the children will just have to pet the other dogs. We won't walk near families with children. Besides, if Casey saw a child she would just avoid them. It's the children who run up to her that scare me. Children who don't listen and run up to her to be specific. When we're on our walks, Casey has been known to veer off course to sniff perfect strangers and then return to me. No problems. Strollers? No problems. But kids? Problem. Lots of kids? Big problem.

So we avoid situations where several children will be present. But I still worry. How much more careful can I be? How many times can I tell children not to come near my dog? I would feel horrible putting a muzzle on my dog, but if kids aren't going to listen, I would much rather do that than deal with a fear-bite situation. I guess yesterday was the first time I reached the end of where I control the situation, and it just worried me. Children who don't listen worry me. And I'm just not sure how much more I can do to make the situation easier both on kids and on my dog. Any suggestions?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wiped. Out.

Plenty going on in the life of Emily right now. Most of it heavy and emotional, so I'll stick to the lighter fun topics. They're easier to write about.

I went home last weekend for Easter to see that Blue is settling into his new home nicely. I think part of him still misses me, since he LEPT off the couch when he saw me and pretty much didn't leave my side. But he's also got his routine at my parent's house where he watches movies with them and puts his head on my mom's lap. It's the cutest thing. They love him. He loves them. And after seeing the stark contrast between Blue and Casey, my parents have once again determined that Casey is not allowed in their house.*

On the homefront, I can't TELL you how different it is. Both the boy and I have commented that we miss Blue - a LOT. But on the other hand, Casey is suddenly an absolute angel. With no one to compete with, she's back to "remembering" how to behave. Even when zlionsfan came over, Casey didn't jump on him once. (And if you ask him, before the subtraction of Blue the dogs would practically pull him down like a pack of wolves when he entered the door.) It was like an Easter miracle. Other benefits to the one-dog household include being able to put your shoes on the floor without fear that they will be eaten, and not having to worry about gigantic drool spots appearing on your jeans. And have I mentioned that Casey is an angel now? Because she is. Seriously. It's completely unexpected and appreciated.** This whole thing has opened up an entirely new range of emotions for me. One the one hand - so happy that my parents love Blue and that he's got such a good home. On the other hand - I miss my buddy. One the one hand - so proud that I placed this dog in the perfect home and that Casey is so much better as an "only dog." On the other hand - I miss my buddy. It's definitely been a learning experience.

A bright spot in my life is the addition of "new" electronics. Now, since I'm a poor student, I have accepted that new electronics are just a part of my life that I have to do without until I graduate and become a DVM.*** But then I realized that I have this friend who likes to upgrade HIS electronics, and is willing to sell his old electronics at a below-market-Emily-feels-like-she's-ripping-him-off price. (I have other friends who also know the joy of "inheriting" old electronics. Best. Thing. Ever.) I guess I should just be glad that he let me buy this one instead of gifting old electronics as has happened in the past. So, internet, please meet my "new-to-me" laptop. This isn't the best picture, since it doesn't show the pretty pretty blue color that is the top of my laptop, but it'll do. It's pretty pretty pretty and probably hasn't left my sight since I got it. It also has a wireless card (did I say that right?) so I can surf online at school. And, apparently, at home since it picked up a wireless network in my living room that is not password protected. It asked me if I wanted to connect. Um, yes please. I wonder if I should feel guilty about this?

I would also like to note that this laptop has confirmed to me one of the fundamental differences between men and women. My first impression of the laptop was the pretty blue color. The first comment from my brother and my boss was, "The screen is HUGE! How big is that anyway?"

In other news, there was yet another physics test last night that I feel reasonably confident about.***** That was the day after my second chemistry formal report was due, so I'm ready for my glass of wine tonight. I would normally want to pair that wine with some meat and cheese, but I guess that since it's spring, and since I told certain guilt inducing people that I would join in, I should start watching what I eat. (she says grudgingly.) Sigh. It's time for the yearly weight loss struggle to begin. Maybe this year I'll keep it off. (And maybe I'll be elected president of my own country too.)

Finally, I directed my parents to watch the fabulous video that I posted last week. (Have you watched it yet? You should watch it. Seriously. Go. Now. I'll wait....) When in church for Easter (I know, right?) I saw a little girl wearing a fabulous yellow shirt paired with a beautiful sparkly turquoise scarf. I loved the outfit, and when I got a chance, I leaned forward and told her so. My mother watched this exhange, then leaned over to me, pantomimed stamping her hand and said, "Validated." That one comment made my day.

*What they really mean is that I have to be present at all times that Casey is in their house. No more leaving her under their supervision because things have a way of, um, getting broken.

**My father said it's because she thinks I took Blue off and killed him or something. So she behaves because she's afraid the same fate will happen to her if she's not careful. You know what? If that's what it is, I'm still grateful. She's being SO good.

***Note the confidence. It's a new thing I'm trying.****

****It's taking all of my willpower not to delete that sentence and put in something that's a bit more, um, open to other possibilities.

*****The lack of crowing about my previous test indicates that perhaps I did not perform as well as I would have liked. I'm hoping to rectify that with this exam.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


I was introduced to this video through a sort of "study group" that I'm in. We are discussing the message in this video. I love it. Love it love it love it. It's about 17 minutes long, so make sure you have time to watch the entire thing. It is so worth it.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Feeling Blue

I headed to my parent's house this weekend, and I'll head back again next weekend for Easter. They live about three hours away, so while it's not a horrible drive, it seems that the week following a visit "home" is always difficult to get started.

One of the secondary storylines from this weekend was sort of unspoken and involved Blue. To be honest, I haven't pushed the subject of Blue living with my parents for a while. I just sort of let it lie and let my parents dad think it over. But Blue was the obvious choice for companionship when heading down for the weekend. (Casey and the boy had their own bonding experience this weekend during which one of them ate all the food in my place. I'll let you guess which one.)

The subject of Blue was the elephant in the room all weekend. But it wasn't a bad thing at all. I told myself I would be okay either way, so I just kept my eyes open to see if there were any clues to what would happen.

Saturday morning, I convinced my mother to go on a walk with Blue and I in the morning. When we got back, my father had left a note saying that he had gone to the grocery store for milk. He got back about thirty minutes later with milk...

...and two five-pound bags of dog biscuits, a bag of cow ears, and a rawhide chew.

Hmmm. My mother said, "Are you sure you don't want to keep the dog?" No answer from my father.

After that I made myself scarce as much as possible to let my dad and Blue hang out. Still... nothing. My father asked questions* about Blue, but remained non-committal.

Finally, as I was packing up my car to depart on Sunday, I was about to pile a couple of items on top of Blue's crate and casually said, "This is your last chance! I'm packing up the crate and then Blue and I head out."

To my complete surprise, my father responded, "I'll be honest with you. I really thought that I was going to say, 'yes. leave the dog.' But my mind keeps telling me no. We just travel so much. I don't want to board the dog."

"Dad, you and mom travel maybe 6 weeks out of the year. That's 46 weeks with no travel and a great dog. You can either have someone come and watch him while you travel, or I'll bring him to Indy with me for a visit. Lord knows I wouldn't mind seeing him every once in a while."

"Okay. Let's get the crate out and see if I can get him into the crate."

That was the moment that I knew I had won.

Blue was hesitant to listen to my dad at first, but he seemed to understand that my dad was the alpha, even above me. (It didn't hurt that my dad is the only one who gives him scraps from the table) He went right into his crate for a biscuit. I went over his feeding schedule (1.5 cups morning and night) his issues (watch the chewing) and behavior with the cats. At this point, my dad wanted to see how he would do with the cats. So after a hilarious introduction of Blue to their deaf cat, Dorian, my dad seemed appeased. Blue was staying. At least for the week.

I'll admit. I got teary. But my dad kissed me goodbye, and said "Come on Blue." Blue hesitated (Mom has KEYS! We're GOING SOMEWHERE!!) but then followed my dad obediently onto the screened in porch to keep my dad company while they watched squirrels and birds. So I left without Blue having to watch me leave him. I don't know that I would have been able to stand that.

I think he'll be okay, though. More than okay. I think he might get fat, and that he'll chase lots of squirrels. I think he and my dad will hang out on the porch all day long, and that he'll make my mom feel better when she's sad. He'll be happy. And, while I'll miss him, I'll still get to see him.**

I'm still treating it as a week long trial period. But my parents are already talking through the logistics of how I'm going to pick him up when they go on a week long vacation from May 9 - 16th. So I'm thinking that the "trial" is just a farce. Blue has found his new home.

*The most notable of these conversations went like this:
Dad: He poops in the house, doesn't he? I don't want to clean up poop.
Em: Of course he doesn't poop in the house. He's completely housetrained.
Dad: So then why does your mother collect newspapers for you to take to Indianapolis? Don't you use those in your house?
Em: Dad, I take those to the veterinarian I volunteer for. They use them to line the dog kennels for dogs that are being boarded.
Dad: Oh
Em: What sort of filth do you think I live in, anyway?
Dad: (...)

**This makes five pit bulls that I have placed with four different families that I know. All five are with people who didn't know anything about pits (or had a negative impression of them) before I adopted Casey. This is in addition to another puppy, and a kitten who have also found homes through me. Anyone else looking for a dog? :-)

Friday, April 03, 2009


The boy hates (HATES) it when I take these pictures of us. You know the ones. When it's just the two of you, and one person (me) holds the camera at arm's length to snap a close up photo. He hates them. I argue (to no avail) that it's the only way to get a picture of the two of us. (You know, since the dogs haven't mastered that whole "using the camera" thing.) Unfortunately, a byproduct of his hatred is that he can't let me take these pictures without making some sort of horrendous face. Seriously. He ruins every one.

So the other night, I had just beaten him in MarioKart. Seeing as how this happens never, I was giddy and wanted a picture. He protested, but I was prepared. What I did was put it on the "sports" setting so that it snapped several pictures in a row with just one push of the button. The result is that I got the one where he made a face, and then a subsequent few where he didn't know the camera was still taking pictures.

I love this one, so I thought I would share. I don't know why I love it. It's not a particularly good picture of either one of us me. But for some reason, it makes me happy every time I see it.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 02, 2009


So, despite still living in a funk, I had quite a bit of fun this past weekend. Even through the drizzle and the clouds and the rain. On Saturday, I kept my promise and got Casey out in her harness where she got to earn her keep. I couldn't get a picture of me on the bike with her (for obvious reasons) but I did get a picture of Casey in her harness.

As you can see from her overall demeanor, Casey apparently mistook "harness" for "straight-jacket" because she was walking really gingerly for a few minutes. She was obviously unsure as to what on earth mom had in store for her. However, once I opened the door to go out, she quickly forgot what was on her back and focused on "out." When mom lets her out without her "good dog collar" it obviously means Crown Hill where she gets to run to her heart's content. She was a happy dog.

The boy rode my bike to Crown Hill and I drove with the dogs. When we got there, we found a lengthy stretch of road that was deserted and mostly straight. I took the bike and gave the boy Blue to look after. Then I hooked Casey's harness up to a flat leash, said my prayers, and got on my bike.

It went marvelously. At first Casey was obviously confused as to what the hell was going on, but she caught on quickly. "Oh you want me to PULL? No problem mom!" She got me going terrifyingly fast at one point, which is where I learned the other reason why Casey is so good at this. She's really really good with verbal commands. You don't even have to use words she knows. She just sort of reads your tone. Or at least, she can read MY tone. When she got me going really fast, I just had to say "easy" or "Casey" in a terrified cautioning tone of voice, and she slowed down. When I was encouraging her "suchagoodgirl!Caseyisagoodgirl!Who'smystronggirl?" she would pull and pull and pull. Seriously. Awesome.

However, I am still Emily, and I am still not 100% confident on my bike, so when we had to turn around and return to the car, I would stop Casey, get off the bike, turn around and then head back. During one of our return trips, a solitary car passed us on our stretch of road. The woman driving shot me an incredulous look and I saw the brake lights flash once she had passed us. I assumed she was just surprised at the stupidity of the short girl on the bike that's about half an inch too tall for her, being pulled by a pit bull who was obviously about half a second away from bolting into the woods and breaking every bone in the bike rider's body. I mean, I know I would have been. If you didn't know Casey and the joy on her face, you would have thought she was crazed. Seriously. She LOVED the pulling.

I was actually sort of proud of us for not swerving into the grass when a car passed us. I just got Casey to slow down a bit, and kept an eye on when the car was coming. Casey didn't even freak out about the large vehicle passing us. For a second it seemed like she wanted to race it. "What, you think I can't go that fast, mom? Watch this!!"

Um, no.

So we continued on our path and thought nothing of it. Until the same car came back towards us. And this time, the driver's side window was on my side. And this time, the window rolled down and the lady driving shouted, "That's DOG CRUELTY! YOU ARE ABUSING YOUR DOG!!" and then drove off.

Which of course had the effect of making Emily wobble on her bike and then fall over. But at least I fell onto the grass, and at least I had the presence of mind to let go of Casey's leash so that she didn't get jerked to a jarring halt I didn't get dragged for 10 feet. Once on the ground I started to giggle. And then it was full on hysterics. Casey wasn't quite sure what to make of me. Of course she felt the pressure lessen when I let go of her leash, so she had turned around to see what happened. She ended up licking the tears of laughter off of my face. I sure hope the lady saw that in her rearview mirror.

Of all the things I've had shouted at me while I'm with my dogs, "Dog Cruelty" is a new one. And it didn't happen when I was yelling "Casey Goddamnit!" while jerking her collar because she lunged after another dog/squirrel/person. It didn't happen when I was physically dragging my dogs (by the neck) away from something gross on the street that they wanted to eat. It didn't happen when I'm yelling at Casey to GET BACK HERE THIS INSTANT!!! No, it happened when Casey was loving every single minute of the new fun game that mom created.

I couldn't help but laugh.

The leash attaches to the harness on Casey's back. The harness itself goes around the front of Casey's chest and is secured with straps that go around her stomach and waist. Which means that when she's pulling, she's pulling with her chest. (Note: I never would have done this with a collar around her neck. I promise I'm not that dumb.) Now, she's not as stocky as Blue, but her chest, it is not small, and it is not without muscular definition. I don't have a great picture of her, but here she is "talking back" to me, and you can kind of see what I mean. She's leaner than a pit bull, so she's obviously mixed with something, but she's got that muscular chest and leaner waist. And her rear legs are just as strong. My boss's wife makes fun of Casey's badonkadonk butt. So I had no qualms about letting her pull me. If she had seemed to be struggling, I would have given up with no issue. It's not like I had a whip and I was yelling "Mush! Mush!" Casey was pulling of her own free will. It's not like I made my lazy more sedate dog do this exercise. Blue was perfectly content to watch from the sidelines. Besides, I don't think he would have pulled at all. He would have tried to lick the bike. And then where would I be?

And after pulling the boy a couple of times, and then pulling me some more, I learned that when Casey is tired of pulling, she's perfectly content to run alongside the bike until mom wants to go home. I swear that dog would run all day long if I asked her to. Luckily, I'm not in great shape, so we were both done at about the same time. And then Casey slept the rest of the afternoon. On top of her mom. Who was also asleep.

Dog cruelty indeed.