Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chris has returned from his travels to the UK, and it seems the fine damp country has won him over. Not for the scenery, not for the colorful ill-toothed polite folk that inhabit it...but for the beer. It seems the beer has made quite an impression on him. So much so, that he's plotting his escape from our rampant flat suburbia to leave for the greener hillier pastures of the UK. He's contemplating putting a for sale sign in front of the house and packing up our stuff - particularly the beer mugs, fine tuning his left side of the road driving skills, and going on his jolly good way. I must admit...I'm fine with that.

Monday, April 6, 2009

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Because it's between warm fuzzy childrens stories, hugging trees, loving bunnies, and silly ponies, or the despair of a mid-life crisis suburban man gone off the deep end. You pick!

Chicago Winters

The Boy had a sister free weekend, so we declared it Only Child Days and took him sledding. He mentioned something about it being the best days of his life...but I think he may have been exaggerating. We also took them and a friend ice skating...

And Chris helped control the chaos at Vertical Endeavors annual climbing competition:

Welcome to Kelly's Life, episode 19

Somehow I came to the very logical conclusion that if you have one dog, you should have two dogs. See now, let me explain. Sherpa was the resident mutt in our house, a Border Collie/Labrador mix selected from the local shelter. She could often be found tap dancing at your feet, staring at you, imploring you to:


She needed a friend I thought. Besides, she wasn’t really my dog so much as she was Chris’s dog, and since I wasn’t particularly fond of her and couldn’t convince Chris to return her from whence she came, I thus reached the conclusion to find her a buddy.

So we started our search of the local shelters, and found online an older model dog named Prometheus. We liked him, mostly because with a name like Prometheus, how could you not. But besides that, we had decided that we’d forgo the normal suburbanite’s quest for a puppy, and get a dog that most other typical people would pass by – give the old dogs a chance at a good life, even if for just a little while. And it theoretically meant no house training, cause poo really makes me gag, even cute puppy poo. We hopped in the car, with Sherpa by our sides and the kids in tow and headed to the city to see Prometheus, but when we got there we found that fortunately for him he had already been adopted out. But no worries, the lovely shelter lady said, we’ve got an even better dog for you. Out comes this peanut butter colored dog, a mutt of mongrels if I ever saw one, and he proceeds excitedly over to Sherpa’s shoulder, hops up, and starts humping away. Realizing that doesn’t work, he moves over to her head, and at an even more rapid rate, starts going at it. Colin pipes in as only a four-year-old might, “Oh look, they’re dancing!” We politely decline and rapidly exit, lest the humpy mutt follow.

The following weekend we go to the shelter where Sherpa came from in the hopes that they’ll have a few more options. Walking up to the front door, out walks a little girl, maybe nine years old, carrying what could only be described as a living, over-sized floppy stuffed dog. It was a Saint Bernard/Labrador puppy, about pony sized, and he would basically melt wherever she put him as if he had no bones. I considered pushing the little girl aside and snatching up this mellow future gargantuan dog, but the look on this girl’s face was far too endearing. I only hoped he had littermates! We walk into the front door, the aromas of kennel wafting through the air, with a cacophony of desperate dogs barking in the background. There were three full grown chocolate labs, barking their fool heads off, not knowing yet that only the quiet dogs get adopted. There was one little dog named Gidget who was running UP the walls literally about four feet and bouncing back down again – over and over and over in an odd vertical circle. Others were trembling in their corners. Towards the end of the aisle, I see this little dark dog looking back at me.

I felt a pang.

As we got closer to his cage, we see next to him a beagle mix, eight years old, owners moved to Italy. The dog looked up at us with big weepy eyes, and quietly lowers his head and leans against the side of the cage. Chris and I look at each other, and we think, well, it is a beagle and he’s old but who else will take him. All the while the silent little black dog looking at me.

PANG. A not so gentle tug at my heartstrings kept me drawn to that dog.

So we ask to take the beagle out, a sweet quiet dog, we walk outside and that dog hit the end of the leash and just kept pulling, throwing in an occasional beagle bellow for good measure. He was trying to make a break for it with or without us. We couldn’t even get his attention at all – he just wanted to be gone. I was partly relieved, as I was not that partial to him generally speaking. On the way back in I ask to see his adjacent cell mate. Chris was curiously quiet. Out comes this squooshy little dog and when we got him outside he turns around, plunks down on his wide butt and looks at us like, “Now what? When do we go?” I was smitten. Done. All set. Where do I sign. But the little dog had some persuading to do. Chris wanted to keep looking. We had one more shelter to go to and I rather reluctantly agreed.

The last shelter was huge. They had an entire wing just for pit bulls, and had it not been for the fact that the breed somewhat frightens me, the dog named Lucky – missing an eye and half an ear – may have come home with us. We chose another dog to take out – a huge Husky/Shepherd named Daisy. Big enough to almost look you in the eye. When she reached the light of day, she too made a break for it. Only she was so big that it took two of us holding her leash to keep her from dragging us through the muddy parking lot. Although Chris liked her a little too, we realized that she’d bull doze the Boy flat and be a wrecking ball in our little house. We agreed that this was not our dog, and I nervously hoped that little black dog would still be at the shelter the following weekend. So we went home. Dog-less. I wanted the little black dog, and Chris agreed that if he was still there in a week – we could take him home.

Otter, the little black dog, entered our household the following weekend. His life thus far as a crate living veal-puppy was about to end. Sherpa took one look at him and took off in a game of tag around the tree, clearly not knowing that this new little mutt had spent his lifetime sedentary. Consequently, Otter had a kind of a knack for having his butt run about a foot to the side shy of his front legs. Poor little dog. His first days were spent astonished at the novelty of stairs, trying to keep up with Sherpa, and developing his new found joy of…chewing.

It seems he had acquired a taste for electronics, and ate the remote control. And the replacement remote. And…the replacement to the replacement remote control. You are clearly wondering why we didn’t learn to put it out of reach, but I simply have no explanation for that. When those were finally kept safely out of harms way, I came home one day to find my new cell phone in itty bitty pieces, scattered on the kitchen floor. I had no doubt he’d be pooping those out for a week. With the electronics practically pad-locked in a safe, he tested the walls. Yea. That’s right. I said walls. He preferred corners near stairs it seemed – I’m sure there’s some dog logic in there somewhere, to which I will never be enlightened. He ate all the corners off the wood coffee tables. All three of them. I began putting hot sauce and bitter spray on areas prone to chewing, but that did not prepare me for his next unfortunate target. I came home one day and took note of a few chew marks on the bottom basement step. I, being ever the na├»ve optimist, thought little of it. Until of course, the following day when I came only to find EVERY corner of EVERY basement step now curiously rounded off.

Duct tape ‘round the snout might be in this dog’s future. But gosh I love him!

Now, we did give him toys of his own, and the chewable rawhide type toys typically lasted about 12 seconds before they were no more. A co-worker particularly fond of dogs sent home a bag of stuffed animals for Otter too. He had a favorite, a squirrel, that he would bring to bed with him and sleep with at night. Each of his stuffed animals would delicately have their eyes, noses, and ears removed by Otter too, leaving Chris and I convinced that were we to die in this house, we would have our senses oh so lovingly removed by this little pudgy dog. Funny thing about Otter and his stuffed animals though: he absolutely knew which stuffed animals were his, and which ones belonged to the kids – and those he did not touch.

It seemed that Otter had a foot fetish, an issue that began to unravel one day when we tried to trim his nails and he flailed around like a midget in a clown shark suit. (Yea. That was a shameless plug…go buy a T-shirt in the Claytor Family store.) So in an effort to solve this little problem, I began playing foot games with him. A little roughhousing and play, and I would begin to pat his feet - and he would jump back and try and bite my hands…all in good fun though, despite the permanent scarring I’m sure. This would go on until he would stick his butt and tail in the air and tuck both front feet under his chest out of reach of my silly games. But it does get better. One lazy weekend morning, Otter crawls sheepishly into bed. Which is when he discovered…

Bed monsters.

Otter was sweetly spooning in the middle of the bed, when Chris moved his hand under the covers and it touched the poor unsuspecting dog’s foot. He levitates, straight up – with a mid-air spin, Otter YELPS and takes off out of the bed, out of the room and down the hall. Chris looks at me. I look at Chris. Aha! New game! We are forever grabbing his little feet from under the covers. I don't know why he bites. Nothing clears the bed like a bed monster does. That dog seems thoroughly convinced that some deep dwelling dog eating creature is out for him.

As time wore on, Otter’s propensity for destructiveness slightly waned and the dogs began having more freedom in the house. Chris and Caitlin were out one day, and The Boy and I returned home from the grocery store. We walked in our side door, which looks directly down the basement steps. I look downstairs and I see…carnage. It was a stuffed animal massacre. There’s stuffing strewn about every which way, and every one of the kids stuffed animals has fallen victim to some offense. As I get closer to the toy debris, I begin to slowly realize. I pick up a bunny – no eyes. I pick up a teddy bear – no nose. I pick up a doll – no ears. See no evil, hear no evil…smell no evil? Otter has gone to great pains to remove any protrusion from each of those poor defenseless stuffed toys. I could Not. Stop. Laughing. I turned to Colin and said, “Sorry buddy. There’s been a stuffed animal attack. They…they…well they didn’t make it.” I carefully lined them all back up on the toy chest, our little land of misfit toys. I guess since he’d removed everything from his own toys, Otter had no choice but to remove the offending bits from the ones that remained in the house.

Gosh I love that dog!

Moral of the Story:

1. All dogs that come from shelters should come with a Best Buy gift card to replace your expensive electronics.
2. The bed monster game NEVER gets old. To us.
3. When dogs eat deodorant, they poo white, but hey – it’s powder fresh.
4. Lock up your stuffed animals.
5. Follow the pang...Otter has given up (mostly) his chewing, and is a GREAT dog!

photo: Otter with his new favorite toy - the little blue monster...before he removed it's eyes.

Too Dog Farm goes to Antartica!

Well our clothing line does (check the side bar if you're interested).

Weeks Heist, currently stationed at the South Pole models a sweatshirt from Antarctica: