Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Midlife Crisis

Is thirty-eight too young for a midlife crisis? Is that something that only happens to forty-five year old men who married their high school sweethearts, bought a house, a mini van, and had two point three kids, a dog and a cat? Stereotypically they buy a bright cherry- red corvette convertible, acquire a blonde girlfriend half their age, and start tanning and getting their teeth capped.

Me, I just start thinking about how much I love animals and enjoy having them in my life, and that I am definitely not spending enough time with my dog. Ideally, I would sit outside in my yard every day and write if I could make a living that way, and watch the crazy pooch dart around, snapping up flies and wasps which she has perfected to an art form. My dog cannot be still in the yard when I am out there. Usually on Saturdays I go to the coffee shop to write. This last Saturday I had no energy for people, no desire for traffic, and I missed my dog.

So there we were.  I wrote drivel, she sat in the corner of the yard waiting for the next unsuspecting bug to cross her path. She slaughtered a mouse in the yard once. I was sitting outside enjoying a glass of wine with a friend and Tess, of course, could not be still while there were people outside to show off for. Mid-conversation I saw my dog pounce, heard a loud bang as her front paws connected with the aluminum fence, and was surprised at the growling bark she released from deep in her throat. Then she backed up and looked at me and my friend with a look of pride in her eyes. My friend turned on the flashlight in his phone so we could see what had made my dog act so out of character. There under my crabapple tree lay the body of a dead mouse. Tess looked at us with an expression that said “I protected our home from vermin, Mom. Aren't you proud of me?” After which she trotted off happily in pursuit of more bugs to destroy.

This summer was almost too much. I had something going on every weekend starting mid-June because I believe my midlife crisis began earlier this year, and I took steps to change the monotony of my life. When I start to feel miserable, I do something different. I joined dating sites, I went out with my friends, I invited friends over to eat out in my yard and enjoy bottles of wine. I started writing at the coffee shop every Saturday and attended Recovery on Fridays. I spent more than a week in Indiana with my parents for a much needed vacation away that included lots of swimming in the pool, eating my mother's fabulous cooking, and drinking my father's wine. It got so I didn't want to leave, and I always want to leave Indiana because I always want to come back to Wyoming where I feel my home is.

Wyoming is still home, but I'm still restless. In Indiana I reconnected with my old boss from the Human Society I worked at and I realized how much I missed working with animals. I'm pathetic at animal shelters. My working at one for six years resulted in my parents adopting three cats, two dogs, two ferrets, and a pony, along with fostering various puppies, baby squirrels, baby rabbits, and baby ducks. There was also a litter of four kittens, two of which my brother adopted. When I moved to Wyoming I couldn't go to the animal shelter without coming home with something. That's how I ended up with the first two cats, and after they died, three more. I seem to be able to resist dogs better. Tess I planned for, looked for, and found by researching Petfinder. My cats I found because I'm a soft touch and the animal shelter knows a sucker when they see one coming.

I want to work with animals again. It pays nothing, but the rewards are high. I don't mind cleaning kennels. Some of the happiest times I had were working at the Humane Society in Indiana, scrubbing kennels and cat cages. That's how I met my puppy love, Colleen. If I hadn't been a kennel sanitizer at the Humane Society, I would have never met her and had the opportunity to spend every day with her for a month. I clean animal shit all day anyway. I might as well get paid to do it, so I inquired at my vet clinic about picking up some extra shifts cleaning their boarding kennels. I've also toyed with going back to school to get a certification in veterinary technician and possibly eventually going that route. I love my job and I love libraries, but my love for animals is calling more and more each day. I would like to be a pet sitter, a dog trainer and behaviorist, maybe even a steady foster home, though we all know I can't handle that. I end up keeping everything I foster. Since I don't want to be an animal hoarder, I'll need a bigger place with a bigger yard and extra people living with me to give everyone the allotted attention.

If there was some way to combine animals with the chocolate shop I've always dreamed of owning, I'm all ears for suggestions. Then I could make a living working with the two things I love, animals and baking (specifically baking chocolate).

See, I'm having a midlife crisis. I'm thinking of changing my career. I'm thinking about the next chapter in my life. And I know a life with no animals is no life at all. Forty-year-old men buy Corvettes. I want to buy a dog mobile and haul my pack around to all the places we can go hiking. Forty-year-old men acquire a hot young girlfriend. I don't need a trophy. I just want a nice guy who's as crazy about animals as I am. Women my age hear their biological clock ticking and start thinking of babies. I'm thinking of puppies. I have an image of my house filled with German shepherds sacked out in various places, creating an obstacle course for me to maneuver. It's only fair as I would want to get a large yard and set up an obstacle course for them to maneuver. Tess has always hated obstacle courses. She thinks they're stupid. She only cares about what her nose can do. Poor dog would have made an incredible drug sniffer.

My whirlwind summer has worn me out and now I'm back to craving a slower pace, but a different slower pace. Less people, more animals. Less stress, more relaxation outside with flowers and water and mountains in the background. Less work and more play. Or else work that is play.

Yes, this is wishful thinking. We all have to do what we have to do, even if the look on my dog's face every morning as I leave for work is making me feel guilty. My life isn't so bad. Actually it's a pretty good life and I have a pretty cushy job. I'm not complaining.

It's just when one has a midlife crisis one starts to think "Is this what I want to do with the rest of my life?"

I have options. We all do. Let's look into them.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Furry Barometers

Well, it's that time of year again.  The end of summer, the end of blistering heat, and the end of the whirlwind of fun events that go along with summer in a touristy western town. It's been a fun summer, all things considered.  There were some bumps along the way, but I feel like the summer kind of flew by because there was always something going on.  In a way, I'm looking forward to a lazier pace.  I will miss my petunias though.

Unfortunately the end of summer also signals the beginning of seasons changing which is when my pets descend into their version of PMS.

They don't have Premenstrual Syndrome, they have Pre-Autumn Syndrome: PAS.

They also have crabby-I-use-the-barometric-pressure-as-an-excuse-to-be-an-annoying-jerk syndrome.

For some reason whenever the weather does something slightly weird, the animals go all to pieces. It's been a hot, dry summer, but last week, it rained for two days.  One would think the zombie apocalypse just started.  I enjoy the rain, especially at night when the weather is still warm enough that I can leave my back door open so I can listen to the pattering.  I also enjoy the rain because it means I don't have to water my plants.  Nature does it for me, and nature has been quite good to me this year.  My garden yielded onions, a passel of carrots, and five or six beautiful, juicy cucumbers.

My animals, however, were not pleased.  To add insult to injury, the full moon made an appearance Wednesday or Thursday causing more shenanigans enjoyed by all.  It brought in all kinds of delightful, colorful folk at the library.  It was lunatics on parade and Tuesday night I'm pretty sure I was the grand marshal. It was literally that terrible moment when I realized that it was my circus and those were my monkeys.  I won't get into too many details, but the highlights included an old guy with a long grey beard and hair muttering on about how much he hates this town and how no one will help him with his quilting patterns, and the twentysomething-year-old who thought my nine o'clock closing of ushering everyone out was the perfect time to ask me out after my shift was over.

When I get off work at nine all I want to do is go home, feed my pets, and crawl into my pajamas. These twentysomethings just don't get it.  I'm freaking old and I don't do drinks at nine o'clock anymore on a school night.  I mean, are they playing with a full deck?  What is this trend all of a sudden of young twentysomethings chasing after ladies pushing forty?  I'm not a cougar, I'm a twenty-pound house cat.  I am a Puckett.  I love her, but she's about as exciting as Ovaltine and toast. I'm not sure what the mystique is, but I'm here to tell you, life with a professional, independent, single woman pushing forty includes Netflix, cats, and comfy pajamas. Not exactly the exciting Samantha Jones these twentysomethings are envisioning when giving chase.  Sure, I can probably teach one a little bit about wine, but then I'm going to bed with my book.

So anyway, when I got home, the circus continued.  I actually thought Percy was sick, the way he's been acting.  He's usually a pretty mellow cat and all one has to do is touch him or stroke his head and he starts purring.  There are push button horses and he's a push button cat.  His purring is automatic. He's been pretty pissy this last week, though.  He wanted nothing to do with me for most of it.  I usually can pick him up, hug him, and kiss him all over and he'll just purr and rub his head on my chin, but not this week.  This week he struggled out of my arms and stalked off, polishing his whiskers, and twitching his tail at me.  He spend most of his time stretched out on the tile floor, like he does when he's hot, but it hasn't been that hot.  I almost rushed him to the vet when he threw me a bone and allowed me to pet him while he purred near the end of the week.  Meanwhile, Willow is being extra clingy.  Her new thing is to sit on the back of the couch with my stuffed animals while I watch TV or write.  She's getting a little friendly with my stuffed unicorn.  I'm not sure if she's in love or just in need of some furry companionship and she's not interested in snuggling with the other two cats. Puckett absolutely refuses to leave bedroom except to eat, and she's definitely not interested in snuggling with anyone including me.  She hasn't even been tormenting Tess with the cupboard door like she usually does.  Other than fighting with Percy, she just been ignoring everyone.

Tess has been edgy too.  I think summer bothers Tess.  It's too hot and she doesn't like heat.  She has a fur coat after all.  I love the heat.  I don't have a fur coat.  I don't even have enough fat or muscle to retain heat, so heat - and especially dry heat - does not bother me.  Now that the weather has been slowly cooling, she's like a Tazmanian devil.  She wrung herself up so tight the other day when a friend and I took her up the mountain to hike, that I thought she was going to tear his truck bed apart. She's been out of control lately.  She's always full of energy, but lately she's been downright crazy and more ADHD than usual.  Tess and I both have had a decline in energy over the years, though Tess still manages to out-energize me, so fur coat or not, I have no excuse. Neither one of us is able to go for an hour long walk in the middle of the day in ninety degree weather anymore, but Tess will still hike all day in the mountains given the opportunity and I discovered that I could barely make it up the not-even-steep hill in the trail without stopping twice to rest.  My friend kept offering me bottles of water and packages of almonds, with an expression on his face like "Come on, granny, you can do it. Get up there, let's go!"

My friends are comedians. They love to pick on my age.  One in particular enjoys tormenting me with chardonnay over ice because that's what old ladies drink.  It kind of ticked me off, because honestly, I used to hike the hell out of those trails.  It's a humiliating stab of reality to stop in the middle of a trail I used to be able power walk, put my hands on my knees, and pant like an old bird dog after a rabbit hunt.  I went home and went to bed.

It turns out I was in the beginning stages of a cold, so I'm going to use that as an excuse for being unable to handle hiking three miles on a mountain trail without wanting to die.  This is good news and bad news.  The good news is that maybe I'm not as out of shape as I thought.  The bad news is that as I age, I seem to be losing resistance to these nasty viruses floating around.  I never used to get sick so much.

Once again I'm put in mind of the end of a season and I'm starting to feel my age and Tess' age.  Another winter is coming. Another summer over.  I'm still procrastinating on things I want to do and wish I wasn't afraid to do.  Write that novel, go to Hawaii, finish that stupid quilt, trade up on my house and property, maybe open a chocolate shop.  Meanwhile I can't get my butt up a trail that isn't even that steep, and three hours in the saddle the weekend before about did me in.  I'm not getting any younger and I need to get going on my dreams.  My pets, the barometers, are also acting as furry hourglasses.  Every time they go bonkers, I realize another season has passed.  If they don't do me in with their lunacy, one of these viruses will.

Dreams are achieved one step at a time and step one is to make those gluten free cupcakes I've been craving.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Little Girls and Horses

I got on a horse for the first time in eight years this past weekend.

I have sort of a love-hate relationship with horseback riding.  Not horses.  I love horses.  I adore horses.  When I'm around some horses, I can't seem to leave them alone.  I have to constantly be touching them.  I love the way they smell, I love watching them move, and I like just being around them.  At work when the IT guy set up a new computer for me, he made sure my screensaver rotated through a pile of horse pictures (and Viggo Mortenson, who incidentally is a horse person himself - I always admired about him that he bought every horse he's worked with on a movie set).  Another coworker and friend commented on my carousel of horse pictures, and I said I just love looking at horses.  It's like my porn.

That became a silly joke between us.  He would always tease me about my "horse porn," and I told him he had a sick mind.

All little girls go through that horse phase, I think.  The ones who don't are alien to me.  Most little girls grow out of it though.  They may still appreciate horses in the back of their minds, but they aren't as obsessed with them as they were as little girls.  The age this phase starts is around eight or nine, and it can extend into twelve or thirteen, round about the time boys become interesting.  I never lost my love and obsession for horses, and my two best friends share this with me.  When we were sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen we would spend the weekends riding our horses all day and then pigging out on cake we baked afterwards.  I manage to drop a horse or ten into all of the novels I'm working on; my house is full of stuffed horses; and of course, the horse porn on my computer. Despite all this, I still have that love-hate relationship with horseback riding.

I took riding lessons when I was sixteen or seventeen, and I rode a lot with my two best friends when we were still in high school.  I even owned a horse for a short amount of time, an ornery little palomino I called Ty who used to like to rub me off on trees and buck me into the dirt.  One thing Ty did love to do with me on him was gallop and race the other horses. When the three of us girls got together on our horses and ran them, Ty put all his heart into it even if his short legs couldn't deliver him as winner.  I still remember the time my Colorado best friend tried to work with him on the lunge line and he sent her rolling across the ring.  She somersaulted a few times while he trotted off, throwing his head and sneering a horse snicker.

Boy, that pony was a pain in the ass, but he was fun for awhile.  He was also responsible for one pretty bad concussion and eventually I had to sell him when I went away to college.

I fell off a lot.  Ty bucked me off or rubbed me off on a tree at least once a ride.  I fell off my best friend's old, swaybacked mare, Baroness many times. My Colorado best friend had two horses: Baroness, and the love of her life, Grey Lady.  In the winter we would ride these two bareback all day long in the snow until we got so hungry we had to go in.  One day we rode the circuit of her property and a car blew by on the highway, spooking Baroness and causing her to take off.  I toppled right off her back and fell into a snow bank.  It must have been quite a sight for my friend.  I could hear the laughter in her voice as she asked me if I was okay, and as soon as she got confirmation she totally lost it. It must have been quite the sight.  Me one minute on Baroness' back, and the next disappearing with a poof into a snowbank.

This was before the days of cell phones where she could have recorded it and uploaded it to YouTube.

Moving out to Wyoming, I didn't get a chance to ride much.  This is surprising considering it's cowboy and horse country, but at first I just didn't really know anyone with horses to ride.  I spent a weekend on one friend's ranch when I first moved to Wyoming and rode her family's old cow pony, but other than that it was a long stretch before I met my ex-boyfriend, a ranch cowboy and horse trainer who owned several horses.  He took me out to his family's ranch most weekends and put me on his old roping horse, Kid.  I loved Kid, but he got bored with me.  That horse was born to rope. By then, however, I had become a complete sissy on horseback. I'm not exactly sure why.  I always got right back on whenever I fell off a horse. I think maybe the older we get, the more afraid we get of things we used to love and take risks with. I'm terrified of heights too, now.

On Kid, I refused to go faster than a trot, I freaked out every time the horse spooked or stumbled or went uphill or downhill.  My ex got very impatient with me, and on the one hand I couldn't really blame him.  I had taken horseback riding lessons, I wasn't a complete greenhorn, and I acted like I was going to die every time I got on a horse. He, on the other hand, was born in the saddle.  He has this magical way with horses.  My ex had a lot of issues when we were together, the main one being that he was an abuse victim and had a very volatile relationship with his family. They cut him down a lot and criticized, so while he is the kindest man, he has very little self-esteem or confidence, and he would get stuck in a cycle of constantly trying to gain approval of these people who will never give approval.  Around horses, however, he became a different person.  His confidence came out in his horse training and riding, and he seemed happiest when he was working with horses.  In a way, he shares that with my Colorado best friend.  I'm still good friends with him, even if a relationship didn't work out, and I hope one day he can have his ranch, surrounded by horses, and do what he loves best.

My latest horseback riding adventure came about with Mr. White Knight whose family also lives on a ranch.  They own three horses, so knowing my love of horses, he thought it would be a fun idea to take me horseback riding.  Of course he put me on the most docile horse who also happened to be the tallest horse, and I remember looking up at this beast and thinking, "Why do I have to ride the big one?" I used to have so much confidence around horses, but I have to admit I was a little intimidated. This horse is roughly the size of an elephant.  I'm sure watching me mount gave Mr. White Knight quite the chuckle.  I have short legs, so I need shorter stirrups, but on a taller horse, I can't get my stumpy leg high enough to actually get my foot into the stirrup.

So Mr. White Knight had to shove my butt up there which I'm assuming he didn't mind much.  Once again, a YouTube video would have completely captured my humiliation.

In theory I can mount on my own, I promise.  I just need to do it on a pony.  Or a miniature horse.

We didn't go faster than a walk which is what I prefer, and I hope I didn't bore Mr. White Knight too much.  I know people that are comfortable in the saddle don't think twice about taking a horse through his gaits, but I have so little control over my own body, I'm not confident I can control a beast ten times my size just by using a thin bit of nylon rein and leg muscles I don't have.  I have enough trouble controlling my dog on her leash.  And if the horse misbehaves I can't exactly wrestle him to the dirt and sit on his head like I used to do with Tess.

I had two minor freak outs.  The horse spooked once and shied (more violently in my imagination than in real life) and I screamed.  Another time when he tried to break into a lope going uphill, I nearly dismounted and walked him the three miles back to the ranch.  Apparently horses like to run uphill to get to the top faster.  I, who used to gallop my pony across my best friend's field, can't handle anything faster than a trot because I'm sure if I go too fast I will lose control of the horse and go flying into the next dimension.

I tend to overreact and overdramatize.

The funny thing about this was that after a three hour ride, a seriously sore booty, and the rather pleasant view of Mr. White Knight's riding his own horse with such confidence,  I rediscovered my own love for riding.  I imagine with access to a horse every day and riding in a controlled environment, I would probably regain my confidence in horses and myself around horses. He'd better be a push button horse, but I could do it. In the past, I have to admit that I didn't really care if I ever got that confidence back because I was pretty much done riding.  I was too scared to ride.  I will always love horses, but riding I could take or leave.  Now I think I would actually like the chance to get back to a place where I feel comfortable getting on a horse and just taking off for a nice ride. Maybe I tried to squash it for awhile, but like anything else one truly loves it will eventually bubble it's way back to the surface.  I tried to quit writing once too.

It's like my Colorado best friend always used to say: There are two types of people. Those who are horse crazy and those who are just plain crazy.

I guess once the horses are in your blood, they are there for good.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rise of the Age of Assholes

Author Aaron James asks in his book, Assholes: A Theory, "What is it to be an asshole?" and goes on to explain that "a person counts as an asshole when, and only when, he systematically allows himself to enjoy special advantages in interpersonal relations out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunizes him against the complaints of other people."  In other words, an asshole is most concerned with what he or she deserves, what is fair to him or her, and what he or she has a right to without caring what others deserve, what is fair to others, or what others have the right to.  It's all about the asshole, and lately it seems like the world is churning out more and more of these self-centered, self-absorbed rude people.  In the last three weeks I have dealt with so many assholes I had to run away to my parents' house just for some peace and quiet, but unfortunately some assholes still have my phone number and were able to find me.

I should turn off my phone on vacation, I really should, but the Cowboy usually calls with updates about my pets.

Meanwhile, in the real world, I deal with asshole patrons who have the nerve to complain about free services; politicians in general, and those who argue that I'm not doing my job, never bothered by the fact that they can't seem to do theirs either; and broads who stick their noses into my dating life and try to convince the man I'm currently dating that I'm no good for him, like it is any of their business or even has any effect on their lives whatsoever.  There are more, but these are the highlights.  It seems like every time I turn around there is another asshole squawking at me with some perceived slight, complaint, or opinion that I really care nothing about.

I generally handle assholes in the same manner as dogs handle them.  Dogs have four responses to threats or stimuli - fight, flight, avoidance, or surrender.  Healthy, emotionally balanced dogs like my Tess will choose avoidance when threatened by something she doesn't like.  For example, she has been accosted a few times by canine assholes at the dog park, and her first response is to give the offender a wide berth.  She is not a fearful dog so she doesn't run away, and while she will engage in a fight with no problem, she is not an aggressive dog so she won't pick fights unless some asshole dog gets too pushy.  There was a pug at the dog park once who fixated so hard on mounting Tess that he followed her all over the park, trying to crawl on her back whenever he thought he had the opportunity.  Tess wove in and out of the pack of dogs, trotting calmly away whenever he got too close and never allowing him too near her.  He wouldn't give up, however, so she finally spun around, snarled and showed her teeth, and put him into the ground without hurting him.  That got the message across.  There is a lesson to be learned here.  If one is an asshole, then maybe one shouldn't project one's assholery on someone who is four times bigger.

I try the avoidance thing first as well.  My main desire in life is to be left alone.  I just want to live my life, do my job, hang out with my dog, maybe find a husband, have fun with my friends, all without the hassle of some asshole mucking it all up.  But I've noticed lately the assholes in life just won't allow  this.  They have to get involved and muck stuff up.  It's like their mission in life.  So, like the dog, I start with avoidance or flight.  I just don't make myself available to assholes.  I'm cordial and civil when cornered - I have had more than one asshole tell me, "I wish we were better friends!" and my response to that is always a tight smile and a "Of course. Have a nice day!"  The whole time I'm being cordial and civil I'm subtly or not so subtly inching away to the moment when I can tuck tail and bolt.  I'm nonconfrontational.  I totally own that.  It's one of my faults.  I leave people alone so I require the same courtesy in return.  Maybe part of the problem is I'm just not curious or nosy enough to stick my nose in other people's affairs, and this is their way of getting to know me by forcing me to deal with them.  I don't get why.  Believe me, I'm not that amazing.  Sometimes I feel like that poor dog: the one that's cowering behind it's owner while some overbearing person calls to it in a loud, squeaky voice trying to get it to come over and "see them." Incidentally this was the wife of one of my brother's friends.  Every time she came over, she'd squawk and squeal at my mother's German shepherd, Flag, begging him to come see her and the poor dog was so scared shitless he'd hide behind me. One time he left a puddle on the floor.

I, like Tess, rarely get to the fight stage, mostly because I won't win a physical fight and I'm too anxious to engage in a full-blown screaming match.  When I do get mad enough I usually explode and leave a rubble of hurt feelings and destroyed relationships in my wake.  I get my point across, but I also get a reputation of being a ginormous bitch.  Tess has gotten that reputation too. She tolerates dog asshole behavior with avoidance only so long before she loses patience, acts like a dog, and disciplines the offender.  Then I get yelled at with "Your dog is mean!" because she put some mutt in the ground. No, your dog is just an asshole.

That's Tess and me.  We're nice until we get pushed too far.  Then it's, "Let's get the bastards!"  And then of course we're the assholes.  I can own my bad behavior.  Other people can't seem to do the same.

For dealing with dogs, Cesar Millan uses the exercise, discipline, and affection model.  Generally when someone calls the Dog Whisperer for help with a dog, it's because the dog has become unmanageable or, to put it indelicately, an asshole.  Tess was a serious asshole when first I got her.  She was out of control, had no discipline and absolutely no respect for any authority, and all with a sense of entitlement to her alpha personality without having earned the right to be leader of the pack.  I used Cesar's suggestions on her and it took three hour walks every day, discipline, and for the first few months very limited affection.  I rarely patted her or snuggled with her, though I did play with her a lot.  It took time, but she is the best dog now, and I have often wondered if we used Cesar's program on assholes, would it have the same affect?  People these days are crazy.  They don't get enough exercise, they don't eat healthy, no one has any boundaries, mental illness runs amok, and people are cranky, crabby, pissy, and moody. When my dog gets like that I walk her.  I walk the hell out of her.  She gets exercise, she eats a high quality diet of protein and nutrients, she has rules and boundaries (she has to let me through doors first, she's not allowed on the furniture), and she gets plenty of love and doggie pops whenever she's a good girl which is most of the time.  If people got as much exercise as dogs should get, they would probably be less crabby.  First of all they would be so exhausted they wouldn't have the energy to behave like assholes.  Second, they'd feel better physically which in turn would improve their mental and emotional health.

Next is the discipline.  There are clearly no consequences for being an asshole.  If there were, we'd have a lot less of them.  I'm as much a part of the problem rather than the solution with  my avoidance technique.  We as a society cater far too much to assholes.  Assholes get rewarded for their assholery - case in point: Simon Cowell, Kanye West, the Kardashians, and most if not all politicians.  Act like an asshole, get your own TV show or elected as public official so you can make decisions that benefit you about everyone else's lives. This would never fly in the dog world.  If a dog continues to disrespect other dogs it gets its clock cleaned, put in the ground with a row of teeth around it's throat.  If a wolf behaved like that, his packmates would eat him. Imagine if every time someone behaved like an asshole society took a rolled up newspaper across their nose or rear end.  I have never taken a rolled up newspaper to Tess as she never needed it.  A poke to the flank or a jerk of the leash is all she needs (okay, there were a few moments in the beginning when I sat on her head), but I think a rolled up newspaper or even a two-by-four would drive the message home a bit more thoroughly when dealing with assholes.  James states that an asshole is beyond moral correction and therefore asshole management is difficult. I say a well-placed two-by-four might just do the trick, but unfortunately we can't go around clubbing people up the side of the head right and left.  We might like to, but we can't.  Therefore other means of discipline are necessary.  For example, stop voting assholes into positions of power. And as soon as a reality TV star behaves like a jackass, pull the show and stop lavishing attention on said asshole.  Or better yet, just cancel all reality TV.  It's just a bunch of assholes sitting around talking about how smart they are and how important their lives are while simultaneously proving the opposite.

This is also part of the problem. We almost revere our assholes.  Assholery brings ratings because not only do we as a society tolerate assholes, we encourage them for entertainment value.  Rewarding assholes - or giving them affection - is just causing a larger epidemic of assholery and bad behavior.  We have it backwards.  We exercise, discipline, and love on our dogs.  We reward assholes, hoping they will magically become decent members of society and then allow them to sit on their considerable lazy asses and run their big mouths.  And we love our assholes.  It's the old adage of women loving assholes.  For some reason every time some jerk behaves like an asshole women flock around him and he gets laid more.  What the fuck is that all about?  Then we as women complain that there are no good men left, they are all assholes.  Well, yes.  They have no incentive to behave better if we just jump into bed with them every time they act like assholes.

Individually we have little choice in asshole management.  We are not the well-oiled machine of a wolf pack so we cannot merely force assholes out of the pack (or eat them).  We can either avoid, beat the shit out of them, or surrender to their asshole ways (and then go back to avoiding).  My idealistic preferred method of asshole management is the two-by-four, but my realistic one is mostly avoidance and sometimes surrender or resignation, depending on how much power the asshole has.  What we should do is solve the world's energy crisis by throwing every asshole on a treadmill and forcing them to power their countries by running until they drop. They'll learn a thing or two about that inflated sense of entitlement right quick.  They can each have a dog for company as there are more than enough to go around and those poor dogs are in desperate need of exercise themselves. Assholes should also have to shovel all the shit of homeless, abandoned animals after their turn on the treadmill is over for the day.  Then and only then are they allowed food, water, and a place to sleep.  If they do well on the treadmill they can sleep with their dog partners for warmth. That's only if the dog is willing to share its bed with some asshole, since dogs generally avoid assholes.

We could really learn something from dogs and their society.

Unfortunately in our infinite ability as a species to destroy everything, I think we are slowly turning our dogs into assholes too.  Just watch an episode of The Dog Whisperer.  That's why Cesar Millan still has a job. Therefore we turn to Aaron James once again who says we must keep faith and hope that society will improve.  If not we are all in danger of going to the dogs, and not in a good way.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I Miss My Pets

My much-needed vacation so far has been nothing but eating, drinking wine, and, as my coworker likes to say, dipping my "piggies in the water."  Vacations at my parents' house in Indiana are like staying at a resort.  They live on a lake, have a pool, my mother is a fabulous cook, and my father has an extensive wine collection.  They are also extremely easy people to be around.  My mother and I shop and sit around the pool and read.  My father works on his hobbies and also sits around the pool.  I have finished reading a whole book - something I have not done in months - and I started a knitting project.  I should be having a blast, and for the most part I am.

Unfortunately, the worst thing about being on vacation is missing the pets.  Ideally, when one takes a vacation, one would like to spend more time with one's pets, but unfortunately I can't take the brood with me when I visit my parents.  First of all, they just won't fit on the plane.  Second of all, my dad would not be pleased with what Tess could do to the hardwood flooring.  I love my girl, but she is kind of a bull in a china shop.

I realized that animals are so ingrained in my day-to-day goings-on when I walked into my childhood home with my parents after the ride back from the airport and I was disappointed that there were no critters flocking to the door ready to greet us as we came in.  It amazes me that even after all these years I still expect to see Flag at the front door when I walk in. I expect to see Mindi trotting out of the kitchen or sitting on the couch, watching us with her big blue eyes.  I still listen for Daphne's high-pitched weiner-dog yapping that always made me clap my hands over my ears.  It doesn't matter how old I get, or how settled into an adult routine in a town a thousand miles away.  When I walk into my parents' house I am fifteen again, gangly and awkward, and most comfortable with animals.  Time seems to stand still here and my strongest memories still seem to be of the animals we adopted and fostered over the years.  The house seems empty and strange without them.

My parents haven't had pets in years, but so much of my life growing up involved animals that I still find it hard to adjust to an entire week of no critters.  My first day of vacation, I spent with my best friend in Colorado, and even she has her two Bengal kittens that I couldn't seem to leave alone while I was there.  Animals just make life worth living, I think.  And while a vacation is a good thing - it's nice to get away from the grind of work, the cliquishness of my town, and the lunacy of some of the library patrons - a vacation would be so much better if I could bring Tess with me and take long walks around the lake with her, or have Puckett to sleep with me in my old childhood bed.  Percy and Willow would love my parents' house - there are so many places to jump on and all this space to run through. Plenty of things to break.  This is all fantasy, though.  I know in reality that Tess is so territorial that she would be a complete basket case in a strange, unfamiliar place that she would never have a moment's rest, and in turn would drive the rest of us crazy.  Puckett would judge.  Percy and Willow would destroy the house, starting with my mother's breakable knickknacks, and I would probably never be invited back.  In the real world they are better off where they are, at home with the Cowboy fulfilling their every need.  True, Tess will refuse to eat for a day or two, Puckett will poop in my shoe and ignore me for three days when I come home, and Percy and Willow will huddle together in kitty solidarity, wondering why their world has been rocked, but the Cowboy spoils them worse than I do.  He'll take Tess for runs and play with the cats and probably let Puckett sleep on the pillows.

A week with no animals is weird.  To satisfy my craving I ended up watching the FIDO channel where they were showing a program about police dogs in Manchester, England.  Every dog that trotted across the screen made me point and say, "It's Tess!"  My mother says there are birds outside to watch and geese on the lake, and if I get too lonely for animals my old boss at the animal shelter has a couple of labs I can play with.  I will probably end up at the animal shelter that was my first job just to get my animal fix and then of course I will probably smuggle some unsuspecting kitten back in my suitcase and cause a stir with airport security.  I can't handle a whole week without animals.  By the time I fly back to Colorado, I'll be so desperate for animal love that I'll annoy my best friend's kittens to the point of homicidal feelings.  They may murder me in my sleep before I get a chance to fly home to Wyoming.

Imagine my glee when I realized I was sharing the downstairs level of my parents' house where my old bedroom is with two unexpected guests even my mother didn't know about.  I call them Cheyenne and Gertie.  Cheyenne is a brown widow.  I'm not sure what Gertie is, but they have each spun a web on either side of the door frame of the bedroom - rather large, impressive webs - and they don't seem too concerned that I have invaded their living space.  Cheyenne was a little shy at first.  She slipped behind the wood frame with just a leg hanging out until the next morning when she obviously decided that I'm okay and hung rather blatantly in the middle of her web.  She also left a bug carcass on the floor.  Gertie is smaller and more subtle.  She hasn't left any remnants of meals lying around yet, and clearly she is much more outgoing because she felt no need to hide even when I poked her web a little.  Apparently I'm not the only one who attracts spiders, my mother seems to as well.  My best friend from college (who I will get to see this week) also just acquired a gorgeous bird-eating spider he hasn't yet named and he proudly sent me a few pictures.  She's pretty, but I'm not sure I want anything bigger than Cheyenne hanging around loose outside my temporary bedroom.  I'm not exactly into Shelob here.

This morning I got up to go to the bathroom and Gertie had decided to pay Cheyenne a visit.  She was hanging at the bottom of Cheyenne's web with a bug carcass below her, almost like she was stopping by for tea and bringing a housewarming gift.

I'd better get back to my pets soon.  I may be losing my mind.  I'm talking to spiders and personifying them to the point that they appear to be having regular tea times with each other.

The babies in Colorado 


 Cheyenne is not ready for her close up.