Archive for May 12, 2012

Are You Ready Boots? Start Walking!

When I was a little kid I owned four pairs of shoes.  The first pair was the sneakers that I wore all day every day.  I would wear them to school where I would play in the playground (assuming of course that I wasn’t in trouble for failing to follow some arbitrary rule that I didn’t create). My sneakers were not just for walking.  They were also excellent brakes when I rode my bicycle, rain boots when I splashed in puddles, hiking boots when I went to the woods that I was most definitely not supposed to play in, and so on.  Their many uses were endless. My second pair of childhood shoes was the worn out version of the first pair, kept in case I needed to “get dirty.”

My third pair of shoes was invariably some random child dress shoe whose wearing involved an event that required me to sit still and be quiet. As sitting still and being quiet were the two most impossible tasks for my childhood self to tackle, I knew that if I was wearing dress shoes I would be miserable and uncomfortable.  My fourth pair of shoes was the cleats that I wore when I played soccer. Given that I enjoyed playing soccer only marginally more than I enjoyed sitting still and being quiet, I hardly enjoyed wearing cleats.

Recently, I have started going to the gym to exercise.  While I suppose that I should be gleaning some great insight about the importance of fitness and health to one’s mood, the biggest thing I have learned whilst at the gym is that Fox News is just as annoying without any sound as it is with sound.  As I generally avoid watching Fox News with or without sound, I had never considered the over/under of how annoying Fox News is while muted versus with the sound on. It turns out that reading the crazy is just as frightening as listening to it.  The only bonus of muted Fox News is that occasionally the closed captioning doesn’t exactly match what is spoken.  For instance yesterday there was a big hue and cry about whether President Obama committed “tree son” because of his declaration that he supported gay marriage. I’m not sure what “tree son” is exactly, but I suspect the folks that oppose gay marriage are against it (which makes me for it, though again I don’t know what it is and indeed it may be a wholly bad idea).  I suspect that they were debating the merits of whether the President committed treason, while just as asinine as “tree son,” it is a smidge more congruent with their perverse view of the world.  Again, there was no sound for me to compare to the closed captioning, so I’m speculating here.

But I digress.  As I have started going to the gym, I discovered that I did not own a pair of shoes appropriate for working out in.  This surprised me because as I have grown older my collection of shoes has expanded geometrically.  Off the top of my head, my shoe count includes the following: two pairs of fetish boots, cowboy boots, work boots, rubber boots, leather casual/going out shoes, two pairs of casual work shoes, five pairs of Converse in various colors, two pairs of dress shoes, a wingtips, swimming shoes, shower shoes, pool shoes, and probably two or three other pairs of shoes designated for some activity that I’ve never actively engaged in.

How on earth did I go from really only needing one pair of shoes to having so many?  While I am sure that some of that change can be attributed to growing up.  In some ways I still feel the dread I felt as a child while wearing dress shoes because wearing dress shoes often involves activities I would rather avoid like court appearances, job interviews, or funerals.  Still I have grown and recognize their importance and the fact that these events require a slightly different pair of shoes than the shoes I might wear while puttering around the house or attending a leather conference.

Some of the shoes I own simply puzzle me. Like my swimming shoes.  I don’t go snorkeling or scuba diving, so I don’t own any fins.  As nearly as I can tell, swimming doesn’t actually require wearing any shoes. Yet somehow I have come into possession of shoes that I would only wear while trying to avoid the rocks and beer can detritus that one finds at the lake.   I also own shower shoes that I wear to the pool.  Again, you don’t need shoes to swim yet I own two pairs dedicated to that activity – an activity that I rarely engage in.

I also own a pair of rubber boots that I can wear if I have to walk in the mud. I walk in the mud even less often than I go swimming, so their utility is minimal and my ownership of them slightly more mystifying.

Thinking about all of my various shoes, I realized that taken together they tell a story of about me. Or at least they tell a big part of it. Together my shoes represent all of the things that I do and all of the things that I am.  My life, like my shoe collection, is composed of various parts that serve different functions. My shoes tell my story and I realized that if you wanted to know who I am you wouldn’t need to walk a mile in my shoes, you’d need to walk several miles in all of them.

The Lucy Saga

Today while I was at work I received a text message from my slave stating that our dog Lucy had turned up missing.

Lucy is a hard dog to describe.  She appears to be a Blue Heeler-Basset mix as assembled by Dr. Frankenstein.  Her coat is a mottled mix of blue-gray, black, and brown, and she looks a lot like someone painted a German sausage and attached legs which were both too small and ill-fitting.   Before we got Lucy she had given birth to a litter of puppies (well I presume they were puppies, I never saw them so in theory she could have given birth to a litter of jackals or kangaroos).  Any any rate, not long after she had her pups, she had been fixed so her teats her noticeably saggy even by the saggy skin standards of Basset hounds.

One day my slave and I went to the pet store for something and as we walked in, there was an animal rescue that had set up shop to find pets to adopt.  They were packing up as we arrived, but Lucy and a Boxer were still in a pen together.  The Boxer saw us approach and started preening.  I was reminded of the descriptions of old orphanages where the orphans would be lined up before perspective adoptive parents and examined in the same manner one might examine cattle at a livestock sale.   Lucy’s reaction to us approaching was decidedly different; she flopped down (not sat down mind you, she flopped as if to say, “fuck it, I don’t care.”), rolled over onto her back, and let out a strange plaintive wail.  My slave saw the Boxer and was immediately taken with him.  I was immediately drawn to Lucy.  After her performance, Lucy decided to get up if only to walk to the far side of the pen.  It was then that I noticed the missing fur by her tail.  She was this fantastical combination of spare parts, mangy coat, and lazy, and the perfect pooch for me.  (My slave later asked if my taste in dogs was reflective of my taste in women; they are decidedly different.)

We asked the animal rescue folks about Lucy. The few minutes of conversation were enlightening.  They informed that Lucy’s missing fur was likely the result of an allergy (this later turned out to be true as her hair grew back in and she was a smidge less unique than at our first meeting).  I also determined that the “rescue” was likely one that had been, or likely would be, featured on one of the many animal hoarder shows that are all the rage on cable.

Soon enough we were invited to take Lucy for a “walk.”  Lucy was having none of it.   Rather than attempt to follow the leash, all 60 pounds of sausage body and stubby legs would walk a few steps and promptly flop to the ground with great fanfare but not so great effort.  While most prospective dog owners might find that off-putting, I found it endearing.  It was hot as blazes that day and had I been Lucy there’s no way in Hell I would have been eager to go for a walk on a leash either.

In short order we had passed the rigorous adoption standards of the rescue, paid our adoption fee, and found ourselves the proud new owners of Lucy.  We coaxed her along as we bought new items for the dog we weren’t expecting and loaded the new dog items and new dog into the car.  Once we were all in the car, we were overwhelmed with a smell that words alone cannot do justice to.  It was a decidedly foul odor I had never experienced before and hope to never experience again.

Bringing Lucy home we had a few concerns.  First and foremost was her stench.  We tried valiantly to find a dog groomer to take her to but could find no appointments that day so we had to tackle that job ourselves.  Just as we started to give her a much needed bath we discovered Lucy’s motivated, go getter side.  Unfortunately, she directed all of her energy and heft into avoiding a bath as if her life depended upon it.  Three baths later, our persistence paid off and Lucy’s smell had been reduced from nauseating to a far more tolerable dog smell.

Our other concern was how Lucy would react to our other dog Satan.  Satan is most everything that Lucy is not.  He is a tiny Chihuahua who weighs all of four pounds soaking wet.  He is also a perpetual motion machine.  Even though Satan was neutered as a puppy, he steadfastly refuses to acknowledge this fact and his favorite pastimes involve humping anything that he can.  Given their size difference, I was concerned that at their first meeting Satan would become lodged in Lucy’s throat and I would be spending my evening at the emergency vet clinic plaintively asking, “this happens all the time right?” This fear was unfounded as Lucy is far too lazy and gentle to bother with Satan.  At their first meeting, there was the standard doggy introduction of butt sniffing followed promptly by another one of Lucy’s trademark flops.  In short order, Satan was vigorously humping Lucy’s stubby leg as though he were trying to be the canine John Holmes. He was blissfully unaware (or unconcerned) that he was off the off mark.  Lucy for her part lacked the interest, motivation, or both to stop Satan’s amorous advances and they were soon partners in crime.

Today, when I received the text that Lucy had gone missing, I was anxious.  I have often heard stories of dogs traveling hundreds of miles to find their owners home after a move the dog was otherwise unaware of, and I am sure that all these dogs are far smarter than is Lucy.  If Lucy were a person, I’m fairly convinced that her parents would be double cousins and she would ride to school in a bus that was shorter than the bus the other children traveled in.  Given that Lucy acts confused about where she belongs when we move her crate, I was pretty sure that as her panic stricken self fled the rainstorm there was little chance she would make it home without some sort of human intervention.

By this point, you might have come to the conclusion that Lucy is a tad quirky and you’d be right.  Even though we had registered Lucy, she never wore her collar.  This is mostly because she detested it and always managed to contort her long body in such a way that her short paw would be stuck in it.  Unfortunately, she lacked the sense and skill to extricate herself from her collar and in short order you could hear her plaintive yelps begging for assistance from this self-inflicted self-bondage.

Naturally, we drove around our neighborhood calling and looking for her.  I gained a new appreciation for how many confusing curved streets and cul-de-sacs there are in our little piece of suburbia.  We would also stop and ask anyone who happened to be outside if they had seen our dog.  This was a somewhat interesting experience.  Most of the adults were friendly but none had seen our dog.  The children we stopped to ask were far less helpful.  They all froze and asked, “a dog?” as if a dog was a concept they had never encountered in their short lives.  It soon occurred to me, that to the children our station wagon was a Good Times van with dark tinted windows and my inquiry about a dog was new slang for “would you like some candy little girl?”  I suspect that our missing dog launched at least one dinner conversation about “stranger danger.”

Just as we were about to give up the search for the dog and go back home to make flyers we saw a couple of guys standing outside talking about whatever it is that vanilla suburbanites discuss amongst themselves with at cocktail hour (I’ve suffered through several of these conversations, and my only takeaway is “I don’t understand vanillas.”)

Asking them about our dog seemed a fruitless pursuit, and immediately after we asked, I saw the headshaking that says both no and sorry at the same time.  But that headshaking was immediately followed with, “did you say a gray dog?”  “Yes, yes I did.” And then our search was over.  Not only had he seen our dog, he had stayed with it.  It turned out that we had managed to ask the off duty police officer who found our dog while on patrol.  Soon enough he was showing us pictures of Lucy on his cell phone and calling the police station to get us the number to call to claim her. He told us the long tale of how Lucy had followed a couple out walking their dogs, before he happened to stop them and learned that Lucy wasn’t theirs.  He went on at some length about what a great dog she is and how he stayed while animal control gently corralled her.

Unfortunately, it was afterhours, so we couldn’t claim Lucy tonight, but she will be back among our flock tomorrow.

Throughout this process, I have learned several things.  First and foremost I learned that there’s a hole in the fence that Lucy can use to escape.  I learned that I actually value my dog far more than I would have otherwise realized or copped to.   It also turns out that the local police do other stuff than write speeding tickets (I still maintain that if the little bastards haven’t figure out how to cross the street by high school, my mowing them down isn’t a tragedy just a thinning of the gene pool) and they are friendly and even helpful.  Finally, I learned that I really should have spent the extra cash to have the dog microchipped.  The more you know…