Thay Hello to Thamthon!

Samson just found another way to endear himself to us. A quick trip to the vet for teeth cleaningIMG_1135[1] and he’s a new man — but missing his two front teeth, along with two molars. Thay hello to Thamthon. It’s tragically comical, and, yes, once we got him past the pain, we actually laughed out loud. No, not with him. At him. Yes, we’re probably going to hell.

I mean, Samson was cute as a button before, but now? Just too darn endearing. Come on, a dog with no front teeth? Trust me, he’s got plenty, so the guy’s not gumming his food to death, but it cracks me up just to think of it. He was already nicknamed Ding Ding for his, er, lack of skills outside of anything but chasing a ball 24/7, so when you add the Toothless Joe moniker, it definitely paints a picture.

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Graphic, yes, but you KNOW you were wondering…

Now, it took a while for me to get to the humor. A 12-hour day for both dogs, undergoing anesthetic, and getting four teeth and two teeth yanked, respectively, and then extracting a cool $1,000 of our own for their good health (Ouch!),and we were close to grouchy. Then to discover it’s more or less hereditary, so while Chloe kept her front teeth for now, we can count on them going within a year or two (they actually had identical molars removed). Oh, and then there was the bloody drool in the car on the way home was an interesting challenge. If you thought texting and driving was dangerous, trying keeping the leather seats protected from a dizzy little pair of doxies still shaking of the last remnants of anesthesia while on Lake Shore Drive at 7 PM. Add to that the all night whimpering and crying that made me feel the guilt of any good pet lover — yes, parent — who feels they’ve let down the little creature who looks to them for EVERYTHING, and you get the gist.

But, it’s three days later, and everyone’s on the mend. The only question still to be answered  is whether or not Samson will lisp when he barks? To be continued…

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Tipping the 4-Legged Scales

I love my dogs. I do. I feed them. Bathe them. Walk them. Discipline them. So what does that leave for Chris? Spoiling them, of course. And it shows. Literally. Samson topped the scales at 13.1 lbs. this week at the vet. Chloe came in a curvacious second, at 12.8 lbs. It’s true. It’s not just American kids heading toward obesity. Apparently, American Dachshunds are on their way, too. And I’m an enabler. Miserable. It’s not bad enough that they have bathroom issues, now they have food issues. Mine.

Ironically, there is nothing worse a vet can say to a gay man than “your dog is fat.” Nothing worse. Just put a gun to my head or snag my Theory shirt. Either way, I’m dead. And angry. And defensive. But still an enabler. I mean, look at those faces! Who can say no? Me, that’s who! But Chris? Are you kidding? No. He’s like Santa on crack. “Treats, puppies, treats!” “No rules today, don’t sit, don’t stay, just come get treats!” “Oops, I dropped part of my muffin, Chloe!” “Wow, how’d that get on the floor, Samson? Better not waste it!” You get the picture. And the picture is plump.

So… the diet is on. And it is killing me. Right now, every time they hear a fork scrape a plate, they get that crazed look in their eye. They watch me cook dinner like every move might mean life or death. The run back and forth between Chris and me every time we make a motion that resembles taking a plate to the sink. It’s brutal. Have you seen a Dachshund on a begging mission? The focused eye contact. The deep sighs and whines. The pacing and prancing and pawing. And then, of course, that dance of abandon when they think you’ve given in, only to see you rinse even the smallest of crumbs, that they thought for sure were theirs, down the drain. With their hopes. Their dreams. And then they give you the sulk — that head down, tail dragging, half-limp that only a Dachshund can give — as they mope back to their bed to give you the evil eye until they decide that ignoring you will be the better choice.

I keep promising them both that they’ll thank me for it. That when they hit the dog park looking svelte and healthy and happy, they won’t mind the starvation it took to get them both down to 10.8 lbs. “Nothing tastes like skinny feels,” and all that. Now… if I could just apply the same discipline to my own waistline, things might really start looking up. But until then… I’ll focus on man’s best friend — and diet vicariously.

Vacationing Where I Live…

Day one of my vacation… Loving it… And these photos are why I’m perfectly content to stay right here in Minneapolis this week…

Chris at the helm on Lake Minnetonka

On the banks of the Missippi River...

Sam takes over as Captain...

Samson checks the moorings...

Lillypads... For real...

More of the Missippi...

Nothing like late afternoon on the water...

Dachshunds take a breather...

Same time, same lake... tomorrow...

Kujo at 38,000 Feet

I guess it makes perfect sense that flying a bird in-cabin from NYC to Minneapolis would not be that big of a deal. Sure, you have your issues with TSA — but that happens with or without a feathered companion. Other than a slight squawk or two during cabin pressurization, there’s really no problem. The bird innately understands flight. Geronimo flies well. Quiet. Sedate. Peaceful. Not so with the Dachshunds.

Say hello to Kujo at 38,000 feet, complete with whines, yelps, snarls, howls, cries, barks, yips. Mayhem. Hell at 38,000 feet. We were “those passengers.” It was mortifying. It was stressful. It was stupid. Yeah, I said it. Stupid. I love my dogs. But not that much. Okay, that much. But still… I give you one word: steerage. And two more words: Never again.

I guess you could say the trip was comical, in some dark, tragic sort of way. It didn’t matter that we bought adorable, solo in-flight carriers for each of them. (I know… how gay are we?). It didn’t matter that we did practice runs around the apartment with the dogs in tow. It didn’t matter that we had done this before on a flight from Palm Springs to NYC without major discord. It didn’t even matter that we medicated them. Nothing mattered. Nothing. They were hell-hounds.

Before we had even hit the runway, we were loathed by every passenger within 12 rows. Samson was screaming like he’d been skewered. Long, soulful wailing. Chloe was yipping like she was being chased by a Rottweiler. And then they traded roles. Nothing we could do would soothe them. Or anyone around us. All we could do was pray for them to start the damn engines and give us some NOISE! Anything to disguise the cacophony of sound that were our dogs.

When we got in the air? Nothing changed. More engine noise. More Dachshund noise. Ugly. We kept them in their little tow-bags and lifted them into our laps, both of us sniping at each other like there was no tomorrow. And that just fed the anxiety of the dogs. Their wounded cries lifted another 50 decibels. Very ugly.

A flight attendant, fully aware of our distress, but intelligently noting the more important distress of the rest of the plane, passed by and simply nodded. We held her attention long enough to see if there was any possible way to let them out of their totes. No such luck. Federal law. No deal.

Ten minutes later, that same lovely lady magically appeared and uttered: “Let them out,” moving on with barely a nod or decrease in speed. Only our attention to lip reading and our need for relief inspired us to truly focus on her as she passed by. And then? Bliss. Utter bliss. Not a sound. Not a whine. Not a cry. Not a hiccup. They slept like babies the entire time, right there on our laps… until a flight attendant unaware of our previous dilemma stopped by to check on us. They were up snarling and barking with hackles raised in a flash. I dove on top of them and held them back. She, oddly, stayed right where she was to bravely ask if she could get Chris or I something to drink. Clearly our stress levels were more than apparent, and, god love her, she had drawn the short straw and been forced to visit the idiots with the mutts in 6D and 6E. While I dealt with the snarls and spittle shaking from their jowls, Chris ordered the Diet Coke, and the quiet resumed.

At least until post-landing. Yes, post-landing. For some odd reason — for which we are entirely grateful — no one visited us again the entire flight. We landed with two 10-pound Dachshunds on out laps. No request to put our seat-backs up. No request to put our tray tables in upright and locked positions. No request to put our seat belts on. They didn’t care if we killed ourselves during the landing. They just wanted us off that plane, alive or dead. And, actually, we were in agreement. Getting the dogs BACK in their cute little totes was like putting shoes on a 2-year old. Have you ever seen a wiener dog stretch out to its full length, completely rigid? You try bending that. The stubbornness alone is strong enough to break a human will. Add the musculature of Samson and you can forget about it. Miserable. And then? Of course. The wailing and gnashing of teeth began all over again.

Upon deplaning, we said good by to federal regulations, welcomed a hefty fine, pulled them out of their totes, only to be met by some poor dog-loving soul who tried to stop me with a “What beautiful dogs! Are they litter mates?” which I met with a terse “Please stand back and stay away from my dogs. I’m sorry, but it’s been a rough flight and they may bite you.” Which, in turn, was met with a look of puzzlement, realization and horror from the guy as Chloe snapped as if on command and a low gutteral rumble worked its way out of Samson. I know my dogs.

I hefted them up, and carried them football style — one under each arm — past baggage claim and right to the pet area where relief was expected for all of us… I then met up with Chris at baggage claim where we shared a look of weariness, a few foul phrases that won’t make it into this post, and a blood oath that these dogs would never, ever see the inside of an airplane cabin again. And, actually, we considered them — and ourselves —  lucky to even see the outside of an airplane cabin that day. That permissive flight attendant will live on in my memory as the most glorious person in the world. May her every wish be granted.

Watch Where You Step…

I come from a family of 8 kids, 35 nieces and nephews, and now… er… well… I think it’s 20 great-nieces and nephews (only my mom really knows — she’s a gift-givng genius at Christmas) — and all of whom are under five years of age. So, a little diaper change on an infant? No problem. I’ve got you covered. Hands down. Actually, hands down AND legs down, if you’re pinning a little one down to get that sucker securely fastened! But what do you do when the little one that needs your help is your dog? And you usually don’t know it needs your help until it’s too late? Yep. Diarhea and the dog. Nice combo. Roll up the carpets, folks, and watch where you step.

We ran out of our regular food (Go! Natural) — the pups have been eating the same brand since we got them three years ago — and had to supplement with another brand (Orijen) while it was on back-order. Brand swap for humans? Not a real problem. Brand swap for dogs? Havoc. The problem was that Chloe liked the new food so much she ate an entire bowl while we weren’t watching. (Binge-eating and a female dog… Chris is clearly putting too much pressure on her to keep her weight down… and you wonder why we don’t adopt?) Typically she and Samson are grazers — they take a few kibbles and munch throughout the day. But in this case? Chloe figured she had made a discovery of delight she was going to make sure Samson never saw. Bad choice. Bad result.

Within hours — and this was Sunday —  Chloe was farting to beat the band. That, in and of itself, was enough to put Chris and I over the edge. Dog farts are the worst. And, I’ll admit, there was a bit of cruel humor in how much her own farts scared her and how she’d try to run away from them. But then, I’m a horrible parent. (It came back to bite me when she got scared on her wee wee pad, ran and jumped on the bed, and then had a really, really bad diahrea accident. Karma is a bitch. So is Chloe.)

I felt so bad for her — Chris was traveling that evening for business, and I had to go to work the next day. The thought of putting her in her crate was horrible and inhumane — to me AND Samson. God knows he didn’t want his littermate destroying his sanctuary. But I had to go to work, so put her in her crate, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. That lasted about three hours, and then I was just so worried, I couldn’t focus at work. I headed home to let her out and work from home the rest of the afternoon (love an understanding employer). Chloe and Samson were thrilled to have me home, but as I was setting up my computer, I felt Chloe cowering between my feet. She’s so sweet, that when she gets scared or nervous, she comes to me and plants herself with her rump facing forward, snout facing backward, between my legs. It’s her hiding place/sanctuary. It’s also a signal that should not be ignored. Yep. Diahrea. I ran her to the pad just in time (this time) and then immediately hopped online to search for advice. I found this great site: Just Answer. You just type in your question and one of their vets/animal techs will answer it within minutes. The vets/animal techs have full resumes available online, so you can decide if you trust them or want to contact them directly. And you can decide how much you are willing to spend for the information they are sharing — or not– and then pay them directly. All right from your laptop or PC. I paid $15 for some advice that completely solved Chloe’s diahrea: Children’s Pepto Bismal mixed with yogurt every four hours until her stools began to harden. Then, immediately discontinue. Turns out that changing dog food suddenly can really upset a dog’s stomach. Best $15 I ever spent (hmmm, well, that 2-for-1 $15 margerita special at Cafe Lurcat in Minneapolis might have been the best…) and came complete with immediate gratification and satisfaction for both me AND Chloe.  I highly recommend it.

Gracie Knows No Fear

Right... these guys hunt badgers...

Dachshunds were originally bred to hunt badgers. Ferocious little guys, they would dive into a badger’s lair, fearlessly intent upon tearing it to pieces. Relentless and stubborn, their tails were often used by handlers to pull them back out! This holiday season,  while Samson or Chloe proved themselves relentless and stubborn — and continue to do so — it was one year-old Gracie who proved to be fearless…

Holiday gathering 2009. Small and quaint, it gave a few good friends I used to work with a chance to get together and toast the season. Gracie was in town with her parents, and, well, graced us with her presence. We loved it. The Dachshunds? Not so much. This little imp of a human completely befuddled them! Chloe turned all nervous and mushy (complete out of character), keeping her tail between her legs and nervously licking little Gracie’s hands and finally giving in and licking the tip of her nose. Gracie loved it!

The only thing they hunt is the softest spot for naps!

Samson on the other hand? He pulled a Kujo. Total Kujo. It didn’t matter how we approached it, he was overcome with aggressive terror and had to be crated the entire time she was here. We tried a couple of separate introductions, but none were successful. He simply went rabid with throaty growls and warning barks. And Gracie? She squealed with delight! She would stand near his kennel, with him growling and barking, clap her hands and sweetly smile and say, “Whoof! Whoof!” What kid does that? She’s clearly the next dog whisperer or an early-developing adrenalin junkie. For her parents’ sake? I hope it’s the former! And yes, you can guess that the next class the Obedience School drop-outs are enrolled in is “Socialization 101 for the Authority-Challenged Pack Leader”… See my post from 12/28/08 for reference…