Zen at the window
January 16, 2009, 4:05 pm
Filed under: daily, Dogs | Tags: ,

We have an elderly recliner sitting in the living room, next to the window. We got it from my church, actually. There used to be a convent there, but as has happened in many parishes, the nuns have disappeared and the parish is taking over the convent for other purposes. This recliner was in the convent and nobody else wanted it.

So Father Rich offered it to me.

I’m not sure what it says about me that a priest looks at a baby poop colored nun recliner and thinks, “Katrina! She would want this.”

It probably says that he knows that I am cheap and poor and appreciate a free recliner.

The window it sits next to is in the back of the apartment, and looks out over the backyard. In our street car suburb, we can see into at least part of most of the backyards of the block. There is a population of squirrels, cats, rabbits and other assorted rodentia that taunt Katie. An assortment of dogs are scattered around, including 3 asshole dogs across the alley who are owned by asshole old people who see nothing wrong with putting their dogs outside and letting them bark incessantly for hours on end.

In my book? Incessant barking is met with severe consequences. In fact, barking rarely gets to ‘incessant’.


The chair, the window.

Katie spends a lot of time on the chair. You know, watching TV, playing Mario Kart, scratching herself. Actually, that’s not true. She stands on the chair and looks out the window, at the rodentia, the dogs, cars driving by, nothing at all. She is constantly ON ALERT. Nothing happens back here without her knowledge.

As it happens, the nun chair is my preferred seat in the living room. She and I spend a lot of time on it, me sitting like a human, her perched across me, perfectly still save for an occasional grunt and the flick of her head back and forth as she takes notes of the neighborhood goings-on.

Since this is one of the few times that she is still, I let her do it. Still vs. pacing back and forth fretting over not knowing whats going on? Hm, I wonder which I’ll pick.

Since we’re both in the chair together, and she seems to be enjoying herself so much, sometimes I join her. We stare out the window together. It’s doggie bonding time.

And that’s why I haven’t updated my blog recently. Also, Mario Kart on the Wii.


In case you were wondering
October 30, 2008, 12:00 pm
Filed under: daily, Dogs | Tags: , , ,

We went to Beaver County.

Mostly to exercise the dog, because nothing beats an exhausted puppy.

It was only a 40 minute drive west to Raccoon Creek State Park.

We wanted a last jaunt in the fall foliage, wandering around the woods, and generally airing the stink off of us.

But actually, we went there to pose in the middle of a field, next to a dead log with a nice red tree over us for the nicest picture of both of us that will ever be taken of us again.

It’s a damn shame that we couldn’t have reserved that picture for our wedding day, but whatever.

(Roommate! took all of these)

The Time My Mutt Became a Breed
October 9, 2008, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Dogs | Tags: , ,

Katie is almost a year old. We got her from the animal rescue league when she was about 8 months old. She had originally come in as a stray found on the side of the road at only a few weeks old, and then was subsequently adopted and returned twice before we got her. The rescue said that she was maybe part lab, part collie, and we heard whisperings of Newfoundland.

Everybody who meets her has a different idea. Border collie, lab, irish setter, we heard it all. I just threw my hands up at every suggestion and laughed, “your guess is as good as mine!”

Does she look like any of those to you?

The only thing that kept me from just assuming “oh, she’s a total mutt: every breed is mixed in her somehow” is that she seemed SO much like a breed. She was just too well put-together, too much of a water/hunting dog in her behavior, too smart, and too pretty to be a Heinz 57 varieties breed.

Last week, we took her to the dog run, where she scampers about rough and tumbling with the other dogs there. I was talking to the owner of the two beautiful, pure Springer Spaniels, and she suggested that she might be a Flat Coated Retriever. “She must be. She looks just like them, but a little small. She’s not pure, but probably mostly Flat Coat.”

Oh, ok. I had never heard of this breed before. I forgot about the exchange until yesterday, and I decided to ask the Internet about it.

Lo, and behold! It is my dog, on the Internet!

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Suddenly, my dog makes sense. She’s super friendly, bouncy and exuberant, with lots of playful energy. Just like this breed. She has the same stubborn willfulness. She has the same fur, same eyes, and same weird brown colored fur puffing out from between her toes. She has a similar facial expression. She loves water, and tends to point at small rodents and birds that she sees. She loves to run and be outdoors and play in the mud. She loves playing with other dogs and with people. She is smart as a whip. She has a weird habit of greeting other dogs by licking them on the lips.


There are differences. She’s 20 lbs lighter than the lightest FCR female. She has a shorter, squarer head. These are probably from whatever she is mixed with, but the FCR is totally dominant. This is probably a good thing, because FCR’s are prone to cancers at an early age. Hopefully that will be weeded out in the mix.

If she stays true to the breed, she will remain happy, playful and puppy-like well into old age. She s trainable as long as she’s not trained harshly or repetitively. She is a much better dog if she is exercised appropriately.

I am excited about all of this. Of course, I keep saying that she’s a “flat footed retriever” by accident.

Hell, that will keep her out of the draft!

Rinse and Repeat
September 17, 2008, 12:37 pm
Filed under: daily, Pittsburgh | Tags: , , , , ,

So I started writing an entry about how service workers judge patrons/customers. If you are sweet and charming you are far more likely to get what you want, have rules bent for you, etc, than if you are an ass. In most situations, we are willing to give you what you want already, and you remove that opportunity by treating us like a stinking pile of poo.

Then I realized that that’s kind of like writing about how adorable puppies are, and how roses smell good. Nobody gives a crap. It’s boring.

And then! Then I realized that I’m boring! I have absolutely nothing interesting to say at the moment. Life is good, school is chugging along, and that’s all she wrote. I am officially sick of the election. Me! I know, right? I would be happy if we could all vote today and call it a day. Nothing much is going to change in the next 6 weeks, and we all know it. The swing voters who will decide the election will do so by choosing almost arbitrarily the morning of.

So, I got nothing.

SO! I thought I would regale you with my totally boring life! Welcome to a day in the life of KATRINA.

6:00 am: Bear’s alarm goes off. The dog jumps to her feet, ecstatic to finally be starting the day. PLAY! PLAY PLAY PLAY! Bear eventually rolls out of bed after much nudging and goes downstairs to do whatever he does in the morning with the dog. I go back to sleep.

6:45 am: Bear comes back upstairs and gets dressed. Katie pounces on me and licks me until I wake up.

7:00 am: Bear leaves for work. I take Katie out in the back yard. She used to need this time to say good bye to him and accept that he’s leaving for the day. Now she ignores him in her pursuit for bunnies. And then she poops, next to the fence. Always next to the fence.

7:05 am- 7:30 am: Breakfast eating time! I have a cup of Twinings English Breakfast Tea with cream and sugar, and a bowl of cereal. Katie spends this time either terrorizing me by barking, getting into things, chewing things, and making me chase her around, or by sleeping soundly on the sofa. Lately, she’s more likely to do the latter rather than the former, PRAISE BE TO JESUS. I also watch the Today show and read The Internets.

7:30 am: Katie and I go upstairs so I can get dressed and she can watch me (pervert!) while laying on the bed. She exceeds her normal cuteness, and I spend at least 5 minutes fussing over her on the bed. Nom noms.

7:45 am: I get my things together for the day, make sure I have my keys, ID, and lunch.

7:50 am: I put a swipe of peanut butter in Katie’s hollow bone, and put it in her crate. She then goes into her crate willingly. Long gone are the days of fighting her! PRAISE BE TO JESUS.

7:55 am: I head out the door, and walk 2 blocks to the T station. I won’t tell you which one, because then it would be pretty obvious where in the Bustling Urban Metropolis of Dormont I live.

8:00 am: I arrive at the T station, show the nice T station lady my ID and wait.

Between 8:01 am and 8:06 am: The T arrives and I board it.

Around 8:30 am: I arrive in downtown and head to my bus stop. I pick up the next bus going to Oakland, usually one of the 61s or 71s.

Around 8:50 am: I arrive in Oakland. I then do one of a few things:

1. I go to class. This always occurs in the SIS building because I am a library student, and that is where we reside. That picture makes it look SO MUCH cooler than it actually is. It’s actually hideous, and sitting in it for class reminds one of being in a prison bunker. Only colder, with desks.

2. I go to work at Hillman Library lending desk. It is there that I slave for 25 hours a week, checking in and out books, retrieving reserve books, and loaning laptops. I also read The Internets, eat some food, and people watch. Oh, and homework.

3. I do school work some place on campus that is not class or work. This is rare.

Then, I go home. This happens one of two ways.

1. I take the 44U bus directly to Dormont. I do not take the bus/T backward to go home for a few reasons. They all boil down to IT IS TORTUROUSLY SLOW AND AWFUL to do that. The whole city of Pittsburgh is constantly under construction, including the new entrance into Oakland of Blvd of the Allies/Forbes/Fifth. That messes up traffic big time. Also, Fifth Avenue is the only way from Oakland to Downtown. Fifth Avenue is a one way street to Downtown with 1 bus line going in the opposite direction of traffic. Being on a bus in the bus lane going from Downtown to Oakland is awesome because there is no traffic. Being in a bus in traffic going downtown sucks because, well, there is traffic. It has taken me over an hour to go from Oakland to downtown via Fifth Ave in rush hour hours all day. Oakland and Downtown are about 2 miles apart. Yuck.

However, the 44 U bypasses all of that by hopping onto Blvd of the Allies and taking the Liberty Bridge/Tube combination and going straight to Dormont. Yay!

2. Bear picks me up. This happens rarely, but always on Tuesdays because I work till 9 and he is in Oakland anyways teaching the drumline. We then take 376 W to the Fort Pitt Bridge/Tunnels and head to Dormont.

Once at home, I cook, clean and serve my man like a good housewife always should. This usually occurs while watching mindless TV (Jon and Kate + 8, Scrubs, That 70’s Show, etc). Sometimes video games are played. The dog is usually chased around. I read The Internets. Fun videos like this are viewed and laughed at. Insert grocery shopping, doggie walking, financial adviser meetings, dog washing, gas buying and bill paying at random and you have a normal day.

Around 9 or 10, I take a shower. I use Tresemme shampoo and conditioner and whatever liquid soap I have around. I sometimes dry my hair. Then I sit around in my bathrobe until it’s time to go to bed, which is usually sometime after 11 pm. I pee one last time, brush my teeth, floss and put hand lotion on. If Bear is not ready to go to bed when I am, he and Katie come up with me and we all cuddle for a few minutes until I kick them out. They come up to bed later, after Katie pees for the final time. I have no memory of this, and can only surmise that they do in fact come to bed, since I find them there in the morning. By this time, Katie is usually completed exhausted and adorable.

“And when the morning light comes streaming in
I’ll get up and do it again

Jackson Browne, ‘The Pretender’

Dear Doggie
September 11, 2008, 10:44 am
Filed under: Dogs | Tags: ,

Dear Katie,

You are now about 11 months old.

We shaved your fur and it’s starting to grow out again. You’re still super soft.

We’ve noticed that the hair in between your toes is longer than the hair on your toes. It is also brown. I like to pull it up so it looks like your toes are exploding fur. You’re not a fan of this.

You’re getting better every day. Today, for instance, you crated yourself. I put a swipe of peanut butter in your bone and set it in the crate. I then went to get something, and you were sitting in your crate, looking at me all, “why are you surprised? It’s time for my nap.” I thank you for this development, this new love for your sleeping time away from us Humans. Two months ago I had to wrestle you into the crate, and then you spent the entire day barking and howling miserably.

You still don’t like being left alone outside of the normal workday schedule. If someone leaves the room, you follow them, Miss Nosy Pants. If we leave you alone during a Not Normal Alone Time, you are unhappy. If we leave you alone outside, you bark piteously. You pace constantly and fret if Bear and I aren’t there, or if we leave you at his parents’ house.

Unless we leave you there with a new bone. Then it’s ok.

I’m starting to see a pattern here, Miss Katie. You clearly like the bones more than you like us. Either way, I know that a lot of the separation anxiety comes because not one but TWO separate families took you in, and you loved them, and then they left you at the animal rescue league. We are your third family. The rest disappeared, what’s to say we won’t?

We won’t. So, please, stop the pacing.

You were a stray, and then adopted by 2 families who returned you, citing you first as “untrainable” and second as “too rambunctious”. You are not untrainable. You were just a little puppy for those first owners! You can sit, shake, lay down, come (sometimes), leave it, go in your crate, and get off. (Get off means don’t jump up on me, not any sort of sexual pleasure, you sick perverts). Unfortunately, you are stubborn and willful, and if you don’t want to do one of those things, you won’t.

We are working on this.

You are rambunctious. You are a puppy, and you are part border collie, which means you have a lot of energy. Bear runs you for 45 minutes most days, and that merely takes the uppermost layer of asshole off of your behavior, but you’re still an asshole until you’re tired, and even then you can be an asshole. You steal things you know you shouldn’t have just to get us to chase you. You bark incessantly at people walking by and the other dogs in the neighborhood. You chew on things. You generally get into mischief. You are still very much an asshole.

Speaking of assholes, you are firmly against anyone sticking anything in yours, including an anal thermometer covered in KY jelly.

I know you’re a lot of work, and I know that I get frustrated with you and yell. But I appreciate that you’re making an effort to be better. When you apologize by laying down next to me when I’ve hollered at you, and gently nuzzle and lick me, I know you’re trying to be a good girl. When you’re sleepy and turn into a puddle, it’s all I can do to not chew on you. When you get so excited you almost pee (but not as often anymore! You seem to be developing bladder control! Keep doing those Kegels, girl!) when you see me at the end of the day, it warms the cold, cold cockles of my heart.

So, thank you, little puppy, for sleeping on my feet and digging your elbows into my shins. Thank you for entertaining yourself in the early morning when you wake up before we do, by chewing on your bone. Thank you for not fighting with being crated and left all day. Thank you for snuggling up against me. Thank you for sitting on my lap. Thank you for licking my face, even if it’s gross.

And keep on resisting anal penetration!


The Female Human

Beggars can’t be Sleepers
September 2, 2008, 1:02 pm
Filed under: daily | Tags:

We have a begging problem. Living with Katie is kind of like living in Oakland all over again. This dark creature lurks in the corners, sometimes smells a little off, and gets up in your face about sharing ‘the wealth’. However, she’s more interested in getting food than in getting money. Whereas the average pan-handler will refuse a sandwich, because peanut butter and jelly won’t get them a hit of crack, the average puppy dog refuses a dollar bill because highly processed cellulose doesn’t quiet the HUNGER BEAST.

Katie is generally a nosy stalker as it is. If you get up, she gets up and follows you. What are you doing? Are you going to feed me? What about now? Are you going somewhere? Can I come with? You’re going upstairs? I’ll come along. You need company. What are you doing in the closet? Can I see? Is there any food in there? You’re going back downstairs? Ok, I’ll come with. I’m going to run into your legs as you walk down the stairs. Wasn’t that fun? Are you going to eat something? Can I eat something?

So when you do bring out FOOD, she’s all up in your face about it. Occasionally, when she’s really being an ass, she yips and barks at you. She’s all, “give me your food, bitch!”

If she were an Oakland beggar, she’d be cited for aggressive pan-handling by the Pitt Police. It would be written up in the police blotter in the Pitt News and everything.

This weekend, we exhausted the poor animal. On Saturday, she went to the football game pre-game festivities to watch the marching band and drumline perform. That was a 4 hour walk for her, filled with lots of people to see, lots of sniffs to smell, and lots of children to pet her. At one point, she had a line of small children waiting to greet her. Like she was the Queen of England or something.

On Sunday, we went to Bear’s parents house where she ran around like a crazy person. She ran on that grass like grass was going out of style.

On Monday, the day she normally Recovers From The Weekend When the People Exhaust Her, Bear instead took her to Oakland to the annual drumline softball game. Another 4 hours of being adored and sniffing and darting around like a flea on crack.

These events compounded while I was eating beef stew the other night. She began begging. We have restricted her begging to SILENT and DISTANT. She may attempt to use her puppy powers to will us into giving her whatever it is we are consuming, but she must do it away from us, and she must not make noise while doing so. She broke one of those rules by resting her chin on the armrest of my chair, staring at me with the force of a well-practiced interrogator.

I was about to shoo her away and scold her for begging when I noticed that her eyelids were beginning to droop. Intrigued, I paused to see what would happen.



Her eyes closed and she fell asleep, her chin still resting on the armrest. She wavered and tipped over to the left. She caught herself before actually falling. She then pretended that it didn’t happen, and promptly curled up in the corner and fell fast asleep.

Moral of the story? A tired puppy is a good puppy, but an exhausted to the point of near-drunk puppy is a hilarious puppy.

The case of the aerosol pee
July 16, 2008, 2:35 pm
Filed under: daily, Dogs | Tags: ,

Katie is adorable.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of that because my GAWD can she be a royal pain in the ass.

She is adorable!

I am the last to leave in the morning. The Men trot off the work bright and early with their briefcases and their travel mugs of coffee. I sit around in my bathrobe naked when they leave, checking email, drinking tea, and eating cereal. Usually in the same chair, because I’m habitual like that.

Katie hates being left alone. This might be one of her most endearing and most exasperating qualities. She loves to cuddle up with us, but she flips shit when we leave. When not everybody is home, she paces a lot. She tends to spend a lot of time in the front hall, praying to the Doggie Gods Who Control The Door to please let them come back in the house and play with her. In the morning, she does this a lot.

And she also barks.

This is a problem for a few reasons.

1. It drives me up the wall.

2. Our building has two apartments: us on the 2nd and 3rd floors, and a nice couple on the first floor. The front porch was long-ago closed in with windows. Our entrance is a tiny sliver on one side of the old porch, into the front hall and up the stairs. The wall separating our part of the porch from theirs is thin enough that we can smell their cigarette smoke (TOTALLY AGAINST THE LEASE. TOTALLY WILL HOLD THAT AGAINST THEM IF THEY EVER COMPLAIN ABOUT US). If its thin enough for cigarette smoke, its thin enough that they can hear Katie barking. At 7am.

So, I can’t let her bark down there. I have recently discovered that she is afraid of newspapers. We suspected that she may have been mistreated at one or both of her previous homes, and now it appears that she was mistreated with newspapers. She cowers when you hold one up and does whatever you ask immediately.

While I am unhappy that she was mistreated….

….this also means all I have to do is hold up a newspaper and she obeys. All the benefit from beatings, none of the guilt! Everyone wins!

Since I started using the newspaper, she doesn’t stand downstairs barking anymore. She curls up on the sofa and then tries to quietly slink away downstairs where she stands silently, hoping I won’t notice. Success!

But I still don’t want her down in the front hall unsupervised. She is a puppy. She cannot be trusted. I have to chase her back upstairs so she doesn’t, oh, I don’t know, POOP ON THE FLOOR LIKE SHE DID ON MONDAY.

I have such small demands, you know?

Today, we had a repeat performance: quietly laying on the couch until I wasn’t paying attention, and then slinking downstairs to pray to the Door Gods. When Bear left, I took her out so she could watch him leave and so she could pee.

When I left, I didn’t smell any pee. When I came back in, I didn’t smell any pee. 15 minutes later, when I went down to chase her back upstairs, I smelled pee. Distinctly, without a doubt. It was urine.

But there was no spot to be found. Nothing. Not a speck. I was on my hands and knees in my bathrobe naked, feeling and sniffing the carpet. No wet spot, and the carpet didn’t smell like pee. But the AIR did. I must have sniffed that entire carpet. Nothing!

If it was old pee, that would be weird. She has never peed in the front hall. She pooped there once. Besides, the smell of pee wouldn’t suddenly get strong, it would have smelled for a while. If it was new pee, it wouldn’t have dried that fast.

So what did she do? My best guess is that she’s managed to turn her pee into an aerosol, and sprayed a fine mist around the entire area. There’s no other logical explanation.