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Tag: holidays

What you can count on this holiday season

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‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a computer was working, not even a mouse

The connections were tight, all plugged in with care
But even after rebooting, my desktop was bare

There was no way to email, no access to data
No Facebook on which I could update my status

Without any Internet, there was no way to Tweet
And that Obamacare deadline would be tough to meet

There was no YouTube, no Google, no Huffington Post
No Instagram, or Tumblr. I missed Amazon most

For last-minute gifts, there was no online shopping
That meant going outside to do some store hopping

The traffic was awful, but lucky old me
I found what I needed at Target for cheap

It was with things looking up and with nothing to fear
That I handed my credit card to the smiling cashier

Back home I felt something quite close to bliss
My computers were working, my shopping finished

But my website I learned was nowhere to be found
The server had crashed, I realized with a frown

I had a poem in my head, some good cheer to spread
But ohmidog!, on the web, was for all intents dead

I started shouting un-Christmas like phrases:
Dagnabbit, gosh darnit, fiddlesticks, what the blazes?

Far be it from me to say there is no St. Nick
I don’t think his magic is all just a trick

What I believe in much less is the Internet
For something to count on, your dog’s your best bet

(ohmidog! wishes all its readers the happiest of holidays, and apologizes for recent server-related downtime.)

(Image: From the Etsy website of artist Todd Young)

Bo-Bo-Bo, Merry Christmas

The economy may be bogged down, and peace on earth may be eluding us, but Bo Obama is ready for Christmas.

Here he is in an official White House photo, sitting nicely in front of a glowing fireplace, upon which the Obama family’s stockings, or reasonable facsimiles thereof, are hung by the chimney with care.

Two potted poinsettias are also featured (a plant that, while not likely to kill your dog if they eat one, can irritate their mouths and stomachs and result in vomiting, according to the ASPCA.)

Rather than focusing, Grinch-like, on that, though, we’ll tell you that Bo –  he’s two now — has become an integral part of the Obama family and their White House Christmas traditions.

This week, Michelle Obama and Bo visited the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. , where the First Lady, as she did last year, read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

And the official White House Christmas card this year comes with the signatures, or reasonable facsimiles thereof, of all the Obamas, and includes a paw print from Bo.

For more photos of Bo and Christmas at the White House, visit PeoplePets.

(Official White House photo of Bo by Chuck Kennedy)

Roscoe’s ruse: Trading up to turkey

I finally got my Thanksgiving dinner, and while I didn’t bite the hand that fed me, Ace did bite the head of the dog belonging to the man who fed us.

My brother and his partner, James, knowing my travels had precluded me from enjoying a turkey dinner, invited us to come over Sunday for one, with all the fixings.

James, a master chef, put out quite a spread — numerous appetizers, turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, yams, all followed by pumpkin cake.

During the preparation, Ace — having learned from previous experiences — was at his side every moment, followed every dish to the table, and as we ate, sat down and waited hopefully that a bite or two might be passed his way. Roscoe, too, approached the table from time to time, but didn’t seem obsessive about it, like Ace.

Though about the same age, they are two very different dogs, I’ve noticed in the time we’ve shared over the past months. Roscoe is the more goofy and dog-like of the two, more prone to barking, more likely to slather your face with kisses. Where Ace seems to have a desire to be a human, Roscoe seems perfectly content with his dog-ness. Where Ace seems to think “if I behave well, I will be rewarded,” Roscoe’s attitude is more “to heck with that stuff.”

I’d always considered Ace the smarter of the two. But now I’m not so sure. At dinner, Ace would sit and stare at whoever was chewing. He does that, almost as if watching a tennis match. He will sit and stare as long as a person is chewing, and even after that, probably until whatever is being masticated has cleared the esophagus. Then he’ll stare until every last plate is cleared, and loaded in the dishwasher, and the kitchen light goes off. Hope springs eternal.

Roscoe uses a different strategy.

He’s prone — not just during meals, but anytime — to grabbing household items with his mouth and not letting go. During my last visit, it was my underwear (not while I was wearing them). Sometimes it’s a pillow from the bed, or a pillow from the couch, or a camera bag, or a pair of socks.

He doesn’t destroy the item. Rather he just walks around with it dangling from his mouth, wagging his tail and absolutely refusing to let go until he gets a better offer — i.e. a treat.

At our belated Thanksgiving dinner, Roscoe grabbed a cloth napkin off the table, then paraded around, as if he wanted everybody to see. Not until some turkey was offered did he relinquish it.

This, while maybe not a perfect example of how humans should train their dogs, is a perfect example of how dogs train their humans. I think if we ever caught on, and tallied up how much our dogs manage to manipulate us, we’d be shocked. Fortunately, most of us are too busy to do that, and go on thinking we’re smarter than our dogs.

After dinner, we watched some TV — perhaps the only thing that manipulates us more than our dogs. If you need more proof that our dogs are smarter than us, ask yourself this question. When was the last time your dog tuned in to “Glee?”

After that, I was full, sleepy and gleeful enough to accept an offer to stay the night. Ace slept at my side until James woke up, at which point, I can only assume, he resumed his I-must-follow-this-man-everywhere-he-goes routine.

I was awakened by the sound of fighting dogs, then the sound of screaming humans, after a second or two of which all was quiet. Ace came back and took his place by my couch, and I went back to sleep.

It wasn’t until I really woke up, a couple of hours later, that I noticed Roscoe had a red mark on his head, and the side of his face. Ace, meanwhile, showed no signs of injuries.

Apparently, while James was in the bathroom, both dogs decided to join him there, and in those close quarters decided the room wasn’t big enough for the both of them. Their rare spat, seemingly, wasn’t over turkey, but attention.

Once it was over they were back to their normally peacefully coexisting selves. Roscoe, despite a slightly punctured head, seemed sad to see Ace leave.

Evidence of yet one more thing at which dogs just might be better than us — forgiveness.

Company for Christmas: Resolved

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It’s 2010 and I’m down to one dog.

The last of my holiday guests has been returned to her owners, leaving Ace and me on our own again. However tested we might have felt at times, I think we both agree it’s way too quiet now.

DSC07586I’d like to think that Ace and my guests gained something from the experience — that Darcy will remember to relieve herself outdoors; that Cheyenne will remember how Ace helped guide her to the park; that Lucas will never forget that I can bark louder — though not for as long — as him.

Maybe I taught them a thing or two, but they — as often happens when humans and dogs connect –  have taught me much more.

Hence, my New Year’s resolutions:

DSC07662Be more like Ace: Share. Allow new beings, after a good sniffing out, into my life. When others get on my nerves, just walk away. Don’t whine. Don’t get cranky. Take things in stride. Adjust.

Be more like Lucas: Speak up when circumstances so dictate, or maybe sometimes even when they don’t. Keep plodding along, despite any aches, pains or inconveniences. And, if there’s a particularly attractive mud puddle, do not hesitate, even if wearing white, to jump on in and splash around. Get dirty once in a while.

Be more like Cheyenne: When I bump my head, keep going — with quiet grace. Persevere. Don’t whine about the obstacles; find a way around them. Step lightly, but keep moving forward.

Be more like Darcy: Seize the day. Live in the moment (even though, at the moment, I’m quite sick of that phrase). Grab the bone. Fart loud and often. Explore. Stay excited — maybe not to the extent she does — but stay excited by life.

DSC07575Be more like Ace and Cheyenne: Be willing to help and be helped, to guide and be guided.

When you can cushion the blows somebody is taking, cushion them.

Don’t hesitate to hold somebody’s hand. Let others lean on me. Allow myself to lean on others. 

Be willing to adjust my gait, my habits and my routines for good purposes.

Trust.

Share the couch.

Share the bowl.

(To read all of the “Company for Christmas” series, click here.)

Company for Christmas: Down to Darcy

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The saint is gone. The sinner remains.

After a four-dog Christmas, I’m down to two — my dog Ace, and the visiting Boston terrier, Darcy.

Cheyenne, the blind Lab, went home today, and with not a single demerit on her record.

Darcy notched up a few, resulting in her serving some time (above) during her stay with me. But she spent most of her days playing with Ace, in my lap, or on the couch with a marrow bone (which would keep her occupied for hours).

She was the pup of my pack — not yet two, and not entirely aware, it seemed, that she’s a dog. She was sort of the opposite of Lucas, the big yellow Lab whose personality seems to shout, “I’m a dog, dammit.”

I tried to convince Darcy that she too was of the canine species, but I don’t think she bought it.

DSC07736As the youngster of the group, she was everywhere — and she never walked to get there. Instead, she’s always in a speedy little trot, which makes it appear she needs to go to the bathroom, which was sometimes the case. Trouble was, it was impossible to distinguish betweeen her hurry-hurry-gotta-pee-now trot, and her usual trot.

So I’d open the door to let her out and she’d stand there with a look on her face that said “what are you kidding? It’s 20 degrees out there.”

When one dog got attention, Darcy would inevitably run over and demand some as well. And whenever I left my TV-watching chair, she’d hop right into it, refusing to leave when I came back.

Darcy slept in the crate at night. The first night she cried for a minute, and Ace, who normally beds down with me, stayed downstairs with her. Other than bedtime, she only did a couple of other short stretches in the crate — either for disciplinary infractions or during visits from my landlord, who chose this week of all weeks to repair my leaky ceilings.

Darcy, I found out, enjoyed drywall almost as much as the marrow bone, gobbling up the crumbs the landlord left behind.

I yelled at her for that, and for a few other things, but all in all she was a joy to have around. Despite her dribbles and dumps, mostly remedied after the first couple of days, her lack of any visible off-switch and her tendency to enthusiastically explore everything, she brought me more smiles than anything else.

She’s full of personality, a master of the “who-me?” look, and far too cute, with those big bulging eyes, to stay mad at for more than 15 seconds …

OK, maybe 30.

(To read all of the Company for Christmas series, click here.)

Company for Christmas: The Dog Shouter

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I am not a professional dog trainer; nor do I play one on TV. But this week — with my cast of visiting holiday dogs — I’ve been forced to call upon the techniques of Cesar Millan, Victoria Stilwell and all the other dog trainers whose books I have read and whose television programs I have viewed.

I have employed their methods, and experimented with a few of my own. (Don’t worry, friends who have left their dogs with me — none of those involve electrical shocks.)

While I am a strong proponent of quietly and patiently addressing bad canine habits, of redirecting a misbehaving dog’s energies elsewhere, I’m also trying to get some work done during the holidays. So I can’t devote full time to the task. Also, I’m just providing room and board, and — even if some of my wards may be exhibiting behavior in need of correcting — it would be presumptuous of me to take on the role of dog trainer.

satire sigNevertheless, to avoid total chaos, I have had to enforce some discipline, and being as I’m often in the next room, there are times a simple “tsssst” just won’t cut it.

Instead, after four days working with my visiting dogs, I have become … (insert theme song here) …

“The Dog Shouter.”

It will probably be a few months before my Dog Shouter* (trademark pending) books, videos and magazine hit the market, but for now I will share with you what I have found to be the singlemost effective tool in my dog training arsenal: yelling at the top of my lungs.

My most miraculous results — and I regret that I didn’t videotape this – came with Lucas, the barker.

DSC07717Lucas goes into barking sprees for no apparent reason. Sometimes, he will stare at me and bark for three minutes or more, not stopping when I pet him, or talk to him, or try and soothe him, or even when I shout No!” But when I screamed no, as loud as I could, I mean really, really loud, he immediately went silent, and stayed that way. I don’t know if my scream established my dominance, or just scared him. But it worked.

My techniques also met with astonishing success in dealing with Darcy, the visiting Boston terrier who has taken to leaving reminders of herself about the house. She knows better, and I’m pretty sure she’s doing it to assert herself amid all the larger dogs. Twice, she has pooped within minutes of coming back in the house from outside.

DSC07664Yesterday, though, I was watching her — again just a minute after coming back in — as she squatted down, looked at me defiantly, and, pardon my vividness, began to open the gate to drop her load. Immediately, I screamed a really deafening “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!.” Amazingly, the package that visibly was on its way out reversed direction, returning home for delivery at a later date.

Apparently my sphincter-sealing roar had lasting effects. Normally, she won’t go outside on her own, only on a leash. But this morning when I saw her trot into the next room, I inquired — not in a shout — what she was doing. She trotted back in, ran to the door, actually stepped outside when I opened it, and pooped in the yard.

Yet more proof that my Dog Shouter* techniques really, really work.

There is a downside to using the Dog Shouter* techniques with multiple dogs. While it manages to correct, or at least forestall, bad behavior in the dog being shouted at, the other dogs all end up feeling wrongly accused. When you shout at one — say the one chewing into tiny bits the hard rubber things the sofa wheels sit on — the others all  assume “hey what’d I do?” looks and start sulking. My own highly sensitive dog Ace heads upstairs and climbs in the futon. It has to be even more confusing to Cheyenne, my blind guest, who has no way of knowing who my mouth is pointed at when I shout a blood curdling “NOOOOOO!!!!!”

Thus, employing Dog Shouter* techniques when there are multiple dogs in the household requires one to spend a lot of time comforting and reassuring the dogs to whom the screams were not directed.

I tried to specify the dog I was shouting at, saying their name before roaring, but I’d get their names confused in the heat of the moment — much like my mother used to when scolding me and my two siblings.

To be a proper Dog Shouter* – especially if one’s full attention is being devoted to their writing or, say,  watching a Scrubs marathon –  one must learn to identify suspicious sounds from the next room, perhaps a blanket being shredded, correctly assume who the perpetrator is, and tailor the shout to that dog: “DARCY! NOOOOOOO!

Similarly, when things get too quiet in the next room, a good Dog Shouter* — much like a good parent — will assume something is up and issue a precautionary shout: “Hey! What’s going on in there!” Or perhaps, even something more specific, even if it’s just a guess: “Darcy, you better not be humping my pillow!”  The Dog Shouter* knows that, while it’s best to shout during the actual misbehavior, an out-of-the-blue shout — even if all three are  peacefully resting — will serve to bring a quick halt to the hijinks and indiscretions they are  most assuredly quietly planning.

I’m sure you want to know more about by Dog Shouter* techniques, but you’ll just have to wait until the books, magazine, infomercials and DVDs come out. I figure the best way of establishing my Dog Shouter* empire is to send out an audition tape of me, The Dog Shouter*, in action:

“WHAT IN GOD’S NAME ARE YOU DOING? DROP THAT, DROP IT AT ONCE!! BAD DOG. SHAME ON YOU! WHO SAID YOU COULD PLAY WITH THAT? NO NO NO! STOP CHEWING ON THAT, WHATEVER IT IS!!! DON”T EVER TOUCH THAT AGAIN!!! DON”T MAKE ME COME IN THAT ROOM!!! I MEAN IT!!! OK, HERE I COME!!! YOU’RE IN TROUBLE NOW!!! Oh … It’s just your bone … never mind.”

Who wouldn’t want to watch 30 minutes of that? Granted, it could get a little repetitious, but then so do all those other doggie discipline shows.

Animal Planet, my lines are open.

(To read all of the “Company for Christmas” series, click here.)

Company for Christmas: Then there were four

DSC07691My very doggie Christmas continues, with the arrival of my final holiday guest — Lucas, an old yellow Lab and my most vocal visitor yet.

Perhaps its just his Christmas spirit, but he has broken into song several times since his owner dropped him off this morning. They generally last three to four minutes, then he plops down on the floor, exhausted from all the caroling.

His barking sprees get Darcy started (Lucas is an alto, Darcy a soprano). Ace, after trying to figure out what Lucas is barking about,  goes upstairs. Cheyenne, the blind dog, sits calm and trance-like in a corner, seemingly realizing that the other dogs aren’t barking at anything in particular — but just for the sake of barking.

Lucas brought a stuffed toy with him, but Darcy immediately sexually assaulted the unsuspecting Gingerbread Man, then began pulling out his cotton stuffing. He has been removed from circulation, and is listed in critical condition, pending treatment from a seamstress.

DSC07703We opened stockings — Cheyenne seemed to enjoy sporting the antlers that were in hers — and chowed down on a smorgasbord of treats, maybe too many treats, as someone (and I’m not pointing any fingers) pooped on the floor.

Lucas is just a day guest, and will be picked up tonight. Darcy and Cheyenne will both be staying a few more days — so expect a few more updates on my canine Christmas.

Until then, allow me to thank my guests for making my Christmas a lot more lively; my dog for so graciously sharing his couch and home with visitors; and Febreeze for helping me mist away the lingering odors left by whoever it is that’s farting.

Thanks also to all the readers of ohmidog! Happy holidays, and best wishes to you and your dogs  for a happy new year, from me and my Christmastime crew — from left to right, Darcy, Cheyenne, Ace and Lucas.

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(To read all of the “Company for Christmas” series, click here.)