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Sorry, are you winking at me?

14 Sep

I don’t know how it happened. Really, I don’t. I’m a dog person, I swear. I was just getting used to the fact that I had adopted Odin instead of a dog (many reasons went into that decision that I will go into another time), when THIS photo was sent to me.


Meet Oona

Look at that face. Tell me, what would you do? Okay, perhaps you wouldn’t have immediately emailed the shelter and applied to adopt her like I did, but you see where this is going. And that’s not an eye pun. Speaking of eyes…



As you can see, Odin is one eye down since we were last here. After multiple vet appointments, it was determined that his left eye was doing him no good and causing him quite a lot of irritation, so last week we made the jump to a two cat, two eye household. How I ended up suddenly with two one-eyed cats, I don’t know, but feel free to check us out on for lots of pictures of them being ridiculous, and ridiculously cute.

Also, for those who are reading this blog from here and going backwards in time, please note (if you have not already picked up on this) that I am a massive animal lover). Any language used to refer to animals as jerks or harsher (i.e. my entire “Animals are A-holes” series) is meant entirely in fun. I mean, I was woken up at 4:30am by the above two tag teaming knocking over one of their water bowls, just for the fun of it. They are brats. But they are brats that I can’t wait to get home to at the end of the day.


Oh, Odin

24 Mar

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written here, but it should surprise no one that the occasion of adopting a new kitten/cat/baby cat (age is up for debate currently) has already afforded me with fodder for a blog that is often about animals being assholes. Lets take, oh, the last twelve hours, shall we, to elaborate my point? First, let me show you a picture of the adorable executor of the soon-to-be described assholery.



I may be almost blind, but I can clearly see how to annoy you already.

After nipping me multiple times throughout the night in an attempt to get me to “play,” I was woken up terrified by an insanely large crash coming from the kitchen at about 3am. I jumped out of bed to find Odin on the impossibly high counter I never thought he could reach, having just smacked everything he could from the counter to the floor, including a very heavy crystal vase that amazingly didn’t break but did cause the ear shattering and most likely neighbor-waking noise. I lured him back to bed, only to be woken later by him stepping on my face, where he slide on the uneven terrain and sliced my lip with his razor nails. I chose to feign sleep through the pain so as not to further entertain/provoke the prowling feline.


Can hardly see but I’m looking for trouble

In the morning, after snoozing my alarm multiple times due to lack of sleep, I got out of bed and took approximately one step before Odin excitedly darted between my legs, causing me to go sprawling across my floor. He dashed away, like a Lilliputian trying not to get crushed by a giant, which is what every woman wants to feel like in the morning. After showering and dressing, I sat down with a can of soda to put my makeup on (don’t judge, most of us get our morning caffeine from somewhere; I get mine from Pepsi). As I cracked the can open, Odin jumped onto my coffee table to exam the noise for a possible food source.


Trying to knock over a bottle of water while on the “coffee table” (it’s a chest) because he obviously doesn’t have enough toys.

Having not learned my lesson from him denuding my counter of everything it had, I took my eyes away from him to apply mascara and bam, he smacked the open can to the floor, where the soda shot out and sprayed angrily, covering not only the carpet and chest, but my pants, purse, and Odin himself as he darted through it like a kid in a sprinkler. “ODIN!” I shouted, because shouting always solves things, especially with cats. I cleaned up the best I could, which means I threw paper towels on the mess while saying “Ewww, Ooooodiiiiiinnnnn,” leaving both cat and floor sticky after trying to wipe them both down with a damp sponge. I finally fed him, to his high-pitched sqwaky-meowed thanks, and I went off to work a half-hour late, sans-makeup and in soda covered pants.


Who, me?


It’s not even been a week since I adopted him and man, do I love this cat, even if he does appear to be an asshole in training.

First Class: My Trip Begins

25 Mar

After much waiting and planning, the night was here. I was off, ready to laugh euphemisms in the face and mix business with pleasure. I was going to visit and work from my company’s London and Dublin offices, while fitting vacation days in between for sightseeing in both England and Ireland and, perhaps most exciting of all, seeing my friends marry each other in a castle in Scotland. I lugged my over-packed suitcase and bursting carryon bag down my three-flight walk-up with a “Let’s get this started” attitude. And then I panicked, because the car sent by my company to pick me up wasn’t there.

“He says he’s right in front of your apartment, ma’am,” a bored dispatcher squawked into my cell phone.

“Well, I’m right in front of my apartment, and he’s not here,” I said, trying to quell my nerves. I am not good with being late. I don’t do late. Especially for things like international flights.

“He’s on the corner, he says. Black Expedition SUV.”

“Well I don’t live on the corner, and I didn’t order an SUV, I just wanted a regular car” I muttered and began to drag my bags down the street, sweating profusely. There was a black Expedition SUV just like he said, but as I limped my way over to it I saw that a man in jeans was sitting in the passenger seat with the door open, looking at me suspiciously. Not exactly the welcome you expect from a professional driver. I’d already over-committed in my walk towards him, though, and as he awkwardly stared at me I mumbled “Sorry, the car company told me to look for a black Expedition SUV…”

“Ah. Well, I’m not your driver,” he laughed at me as a woman came out of the nearby bodega with sodas and handed one to him. “She wants us to take her to the airport,” he said to her, laughing more.

“I do not! I just…” and then I saw the other Expedition, across the street, a whole block and a half from being in front of my apartment. “Never mind.” I hauled my luggage into oncoming traffic like the New Yorker I am and cursed at cars as if it was their fault they almost hit me and finally made my way. I started to relax, and decided to document that fact.


The face of someone who was sent a much more expensive car than ordered and is not being charged for it.

When I finally got to JFK, I waited a few minutes in a long line to check my bag before I saw a sign for premium economy check-in. Since it was a long, overnight flight, my company sprang for premium economy. I asked the JFK worker standing nearby, “Should I be over there if I’m flying premium economy?” Sometimes, I like to ask dumb questions.

“Of course!” he smiled and came over, took my suitcase for me, and led me to the quickly moving line. Am I still at JFK? I thought? This guy is carrying my luggage for me? I was immediately whisked through line, and after the usual dance of taking things in and out of pockets and feet in and out of shoes at security, I was on the plane before I knew it. I seated my economy ass in my seat in ‘prem econ,’ which was what I was now calling it in my head like it was some sort of college course all my friends took while I was taking Poetry by Lovers or something else ridiculous. I was handed a tiny mini wee glass of Prosecco and I suddenly felt the urge to hide the Doritos I bought in the airport from my dashing seat-neighbor. For shame.

I watched with limited curiosity as a bumbling couple barely made it onboard before the flight attendants closed the door. They were probably in their late thirties, and they stood in the aisle staring at their tickets, seemingly annoyed at not being seated with each other. Actually, the man looked relieved; the woman looked annoyed… at life. She made a dramatic show of getting her things out of her man’s bag, asking him where her water was and this and that. At least, I thought she was; I could blessedly barely hear her as I already had earplugs in my ears due to a recent double ear infection, and I wasn’t looking forward to feeling what take-off was going to do to me. I’m totally cheap though and bought the pharmacy brand, so I could hear her a bit. And the next thing I knew, what she was saying was “Now I need to find my seat,” and she marched right over to me.

“That’s my seat,” she informed me, as if she made it herself.

“Excuse me?” I said, slowly. I was acting like English was not my first language. I struggled to get my hand out of the Doritos (really? I couldn’t wait until we left the ground?) while simultaneously trying to sit my baby Prosecco glass down and get my earplugs out of my ears. “I have a ticket for this seat,” I said, sounding a lot less positive about that fact than I actually was.

“Well, so do I.” Was she really standing there with her hand on her hips, challenging me? People actually stood like that? Well, game on, lady. You are not getting my Prosecco shot glass.

“Well, I suggest you get a flight attendant then to take care of this, because I am not moving.” You go, me. You sit there with your orange stained fingers. She huffed and puffed and got a flight attendant, who asked me to produce my ticket. I felt like I had won the lottery when I saw that I was indeed in the correct seat (I had completely started doubting myself as soon as I saw the flight attendant headed towards me). And the challenger, little miss You’re In My Seat? Admitted that she was flying standby when she was given the same seat as me. Information that would have been useful five minutes ago when you were trying to scare me out of my comfortable little pre-booked spot, lady.

Flight attendant: “OK, unfortunately, this seat has been double booked. Ms. Prozac, if you’ll just get up and come with me, we’ll get that taken care of for you. Ms. Azzhole (shockingly, not her real name), you can have a seat.”

Me: (Loses it, gets squeaky voice) “ME?! I have to get up? I have a ticket for this seat! Why do I have to get up? I’ve done nothing wronnnnnng!” (Yelling like I’m being dragged to jail for a crime I haven’t committed, seeing my one chance at a nice plane seat being taken from me. They were moving me because of the Doritos, weren’t they?)

Ms. Azzhole: (Smirks hautily.)

Flight attendant: Someone will get your things for you, miss, I promise you will be comfortable.

Defeated, I follow her solemnly… forward. What’s this? Forward. Why are we going to the front of the plane? There’s nothing up front but… I quickly turn to look at Ms. Azzhole settling down in the seat she fought so hard for and say “Are you taking me to FIRST CLASS?” as loudly as possible, and the heavenly flight attendant confirms that yes, in fact, she is, and she’s sorry for the inconvenience. BooYAH, lady. That’s what you get for sucking at life.

I’d like to say that I acted like a normal human being in first class, but instead I admit to committing the following indiscretions:

  •          I giggled with happiness for at least the first half hour
  •          I stared at a grown-ass woman who sucked her thumb the whole flight
  •          I found myself saying things like “crisps” and “loo” even though I hadn’t even made it to the UK yet and I am decidedly not Madonna
  •          When asked what kind of wine I wanted, I asked if they had white. Really? REALLY? Not if they had Pinot Grigio, or Sauvignon Blanc, but white. I was assured that they did. Many varieties, in fact.
  •          I tried to turn my seat into a bed without help even though it says to ask for help. I needed help.
  •          I took the following photos. I don’t know why they are all purple.



Thumbs-upping myself because I am cool.

Champagne in a glass larger than a shot glass.

Champagne in a glass larger than a shot glass.


Chips that are not Doritos. Oh. I mean ‘crisps’.


Dinner and a movie. I wish I stole the mini plane salt and pepper shakers. But stealing is bad.


Cheese plate dessert.


All told, I arrived in London happy, well-fed, and fairly drunk. I filled out the customs form incorrectly, likely due to the amount of alcohol they kept handing me on the plane (it’s their fault!) and had an unintentionally contentious back and forth with the customs agent about my hair color as it was a very different shade on my passport. Apparently “That’s because I’m a spy” isn’t a funny or witty reply, however commenting on how a woman dyes her hair isn’t exactly proper British decorum, either, now is it? Regardless, they let me into their lovely land and the shenanigans continued from there.  Next stop? London.

Back Again

24 Mar

It’s been too long since I’ve posted here, and I’d like to change that. Here’s hoping I can start start this back up again. I’ll be back soon with a post about an amazing trip I took with some of my best friends to a few of the most beautiful places in the world, and I have the photos to prove it. Coming soon…


 Sláinte! I took this shot from the top of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

(All rights to this and all photos taken by me on this website are reserved.

Please email for permission prior to re-posting.)


18 Feb


“No, it’s not too scary; you’ll be fine if you watch it with me.” Unsure, I followed my brother’s friend into the TV room where my brother was already sitting. The two nineteen year olds, home from college for some holiday, were unhappily stuck watching ten year old me while my parents and my brother’s friend’s father were out to dinner. I happened to have had a crush on my brother’s friend for just about the entirety of my ten years, so while I didn’t quite believe him that I wouldn’t be scared, I talked myself into watching the movie with them. And what was their movie of choice? The Shining.

Yeah, totally appropriate for a ten year old.

Yeah, totally appropriate for a ten year old.

Now, I was a child with a wild imagination. I was also a child who used this imagination to concoct all kinds of demons and monsters and murderers, and those demons and monsters and murderers liked to live in my closet and under my bed and in my walls and an inch from my face if I closed my eyes and just about anywhere else I could think of. This movie would not have been on my parents’ approved list.

Pretty soon into the film, I was scared. Horrified. Terrified. So terrified, in fact, that I blocked most of it out and to this day I don’t remember or know much of anything about the film other than all of the “REDRUM” parts (murder spelled backwards for anyone smart enough to have avoided the damn thing). What I do remember was that 1) My massive and amazing dog Oliver (see below, For the Love of an Asshole Dog is about Ollie) protectively sat next to me the entire time, allowing me to wrap my fingers tightly in his long hair, and 2) That I refused to leave or complain about the movie because I didn’t want to look like a “little kid” to my cool brother and his way cool friend.

Oliver in all of his snowy glory.

Oliver in all of his snowy glory.

At some point towards the end of the film, my brother slipped away to call his girlfriend. The film ended, and his friend told me it was time to go to bed. I didn’t want to let on how scared I was, and he told me he’d send my brother in to say goodnight as soon as he was off the phone, so off I bravely went, with my massive protector Ollie at my side. I changed into my pajamas and got into my big bed, and Oliver got in with me. My crush came in to say goodnight, and on his way out he clicked off the lights, plunging the room into darkness. It took every ounce of willpower I had not to scream and ask him to turn the lights on, but no, I was cool, dammit, and this hot nineteen year old was bound to notice, right? I lay in bed stiff as marble, fighting to not hyperventilate, clutching my Pound Puppy, Kelly, with my huge, real, dog lying across my legs with his massive bucket head plopped on a pillow. And then, just as I started to relax, I heard it. So faintly, so quietly, like a breath barely breathed.

“Redrum… redrum.”

I shot straight up in bed. Oliver sat up with me, startled by my movement. I threw my arms around his neck and listened, and heard nothing. “You are losing it.” I told myself. This is in your head, you did NOT hear that. I laid back down. And just as I was falling  asleep…

“Redrum… REDrum.” This time, Oliver sat up first, and I was so scared, I was frozen in a prone position; I couldn’t even sit up straight. I knew that since Ollie sat up first, it meant that he had heard it, and if he heard it, it had to be real. My heart was going crazy, and then I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye, from under my bed, a hand was coming up, straight for my face. The last thing I remember before I passed out was Oliver barking and lunging as the hand clamped over my mouth and nose.

I woke up downstairs on my kitchen floor, looking up at two panicked teenaged boys. “Holy shit, dude, we almost KILLED her. Our parents are going to fucking KILL US.” Yes, I had actually passed out from fear because my brother had hid under my bed and scared me, I believe, more than anyone had ever been before and has ever been since. If there was a way to scientifically prove that, I would. I don’t know how long I was out, but the entire incident was enough to panic the two boys. I obviously don’t have photographic evidence of this, so I will let these cats demonstrate the looks on their faces when I came to. My brother is a redhead and his friend has black hair:

Brother stand in.

Brother stand-in.

Friend stand-in.

Friend stand-in.

Let’s just say that they were both nice to me for a very long time afterward, and the incident turned “redrum” into a word that Oliver never forgot. As I wrote about in For the Love of an Asshole Dog, if you so much as whispered “redrum” around Ollie for the rest of his life, he would come running from wherever he was and he would take you the hell down. Good dog. And that, my friends, is the story of how my brother and his friend almost scared me to death.

Oliver and me.

Oliver and me. Don’t even whisper “redrum.”

The Puppy Thief

22 May

(As in: The Thieving Puppy, Not a Person Who Steals Baby Dogs)

Here’s a short little tale about a cute puppy, an irate owner, an innocent housekeeper, and jumping to conclusions.

Once upon a time, when I was young and working at an animal hospital, a woman came blowing into the office in a tornado of perfume and yelling and puppy paws. “I need help immediately!” she yelled, in the way one does when they think they are the only important person in the room, not in the way one does when they are running into a vet clinic with a sick animal. Hearing her, I walked my teenage self to the front and saw a well-dressed woman holding an adorable Labrador retriever puppy. He was so cute, you wanted to talk to him in baby talk all day long and rub his fuzzy ears because they were sure to feel like silky, palm-sized yellow chicks. And kiss his wet nose. I wanted to kiss his mini-little wet nose.

I can do no wrong. My cuteness trumps all things.

“How can I help you?” I asked.

She looked over at me, gawky and skinny and younger looking than I really was, and dismissed me with: “Not you. I need someone who works here.” Yes, lady, I am just hanging in a vet’s office, offering to help mean women out in the middle of the summer for the fun of it. Actually, I suppose that was what I was basically doing, but that’s not the point.

“I do work here, how can I help you?”

“Fine, here,” she said, leaning over and placing fuzzypuppybuddy in my arms. “He has an upset stomach, or something. Do whatever you need to do with him; I don’t know what’s wrong, but I can’t stay. I’ll come back in an hour; I need to fire my maid for stealing.”

Gratuitous cuteness.

“Wait! What’s your name? What’s his name?!” I yelled after her, but was answered only with the ringing of the bells we had hanging from the door as she stormed out. “Well, hi.” I said to the bundle in my arms. “Your mama is an ass. Sorry. Let me see here.” I walked into an empty exam room and put my cute new friend on the metal table. “You don’t feel so good, huh?” I looked at his tag and learned that my new friend’s name was George, and was happy to see that his owner’s last name and phone number were also on his tag. By now, the vet had come into the room and asked me what was going on. “I’m not sure, Dr. Vet. His owner, Mrs. Rude, just like, threw him at me and said he was sick and that she had to go fire her housekeeper. Or something. Upset stomach.”

“Oh, she is a handful, huh? Always nasty, for no reason.” He told me. He examined little George and found his stomach hard and distended.

“She said we could do whatever we wanted, test-wise.”

Warning: Your brain may explode from cuteness overload if you look too long.

“Well that’s good,” said Dr. Vet, “because he needs x-rays. “ In the x-ray room, we put on our heavy, lead-lined vests and I held little George down while the vet took x-rays of his belly. When we were done, I sat down in a chair with him in my lap and pet while the vet developed the films. A few minutes later, I heard laughing coming from the x-ray room, not something you hear every day in an animal hospital.  “You have got to come in here and see this!” he yelled. I went back out, and there, clear as day, was an x-ray of George’s belly, with two rings in it; one big diamond engagement ring and one plain wedding band.

Apparently, George was not alone in his taste for diamonds, because this is not his x-ray.

“George!” I yelled, looking into the sweet chocolate eyes of the puppy in my arms. “Did you do that?!” He looked up at me innocently and burped. “You have a VERY expensive belly, my friend.” And with that, the vet went to call our thieving puppy’s owner in hopes of saving her from firing her poor, innocent housekeeper for stealing her jewelry. And I enjoyed imaging her reaction when he told her how the jewels were going to come out… suffice it to say, it was the opposite of the way they went in.

And all the characters lived happily ever after, and I liked to think that every time that woman looked at her rings she remembered where they had once been.

Diamond dispenser.

Photos borrowed from:,,,,

For the Love of an Asshole Dog

15 May

Oliver was the best dog in the world. He was my best friend, constant companion, and impenetrable bodyguard for years. He was huge and had hair that went down to the floor. He let me put it in a little ponytail on the top of his head, a fountain of tawny fur that would stick straight into the air, mimicking his expressive black ears that turned like weather-vanes towards interesting sounds. He could fetch with the best of them, and held two tennis balls in his mouth at all times when he wasn’t eating or drinking, always ready for someone to play. You could even practice soccer with him; he’d sprint around the yard with me or my brother while we worked our best moves and fake outs, and then he’d dive in and pick up the soccer ball in his mouth. Yes, a regulation-sized soccer ball.

Oliver was a Briard. Which is French for “Awesome Dog.” (This is a fake-Ollie but real Briard.)

I did everything possible with him, and he tolerated me something amazing. He let me use him as a full body pillow while watching television sprawled on the floor with him in front of the T.V. He let me put braids in his fur that then got knotted up and needed a groomer to remove. He ate the green stems of strawberries I fed him (actually the only thing he wouldn’t eat was grapes). And he sat patiently with me when I sold lemonade and pet rocks on the corner (probably scaring away more customers than attracting them). He danced with me, standing on his hind legs with his front “arms” on my shoulders, and he was actually just about the right height.

The Fire Incident (aka Totally My Bad)

I even once lit him on fire with a friend of mine by accident. We were lighting tissues on fire, watching them disappear into a puff of smoke in a second (Great idea, kids! Try this at home! Also: Sorry, Mom & Dad.) We ran out of tissues in my bedroom and got some from the bathroom. Not realizing these were the newfangled kind that had lotion in them, my friend and I lit a tissue and it burned slowly but steadily towards my hand. Panicking, I ran to the bathroom to drop it in the toilet, but Oliver, a herding dog who was always guarding me, followed. My hand got hot as the smoldering tissue got smaller, and I freaked and dropped it and it landed right on Ollie’s back. Whoosh, his fur caught on fire the tiniest bit. My friend and I quickly patted it out, and other than the acrid smell of burnt hair, Ollie was no worse for wear, but still. I lit his fur on fire and he still thought I was the coolest, and he didn’t tell on me. That all said, Ollie did have some asshole-ish tendencies.

The Shining Incident

When I say he protected me, I mean it. And while I loved it, he sure was an asshole to anyone he deemed a threat to me. He was a herding dog and I was his sheep, and no one was going to tell him otherwise. He regularly got between me and my brother, father, or friend if we were joking around or playing a little rough. He barked warnings to strangers in a deep herding dog voice, telling them to back away from his person. Sometimes he got impressively, though somewhat dangerously, protective: just ask the family friend who thought it’d be funny to torment me by whispering “redrum” to tease me after I was scarred for life by The Shining. Oliver, who was upstairs and asleep, somehow heard this and bounded downstairs. He knocked that guy clean off his chair and onto his back on our kitchen floor. Ollie then stood on him, holding him down, barking a ferocious bark in his face until he was pulled off. That’s right; no one could mess with me when Ollie was around. And in case you couldn’t conclude this on your own, The Shining is absolutely horrifying to a ten year old.

I’m 32 and it freaks me out to even look at this.

The Tongue Issues

Then there was his whole choking on his tongue bit. He’d lie on his back, his huge legs splayed every which way, chomping on a tennis ball or sleeping. And then all of a sudden you’d hear the most Chewbaccian noises (noises Chewbacca would make are Chewbaccian. I’ve decided.) that scared everyone in hearing distance. I’d calmly walk over, reach into his huge mouth up to my elbow, and pull his tongue out of his throat. Do I think he was really choking on his tongue? No… but with Ollie you could never be sure, so I stuck my hand in that huge, hot, slimy mouth and helped my boy out whenever needed. I think he did it on purpose just to get me to gross out all my friends by getting shoulder deep in his huge throat.

The ‘You are My Sheep, Little Girl, Get That in Your Head’ Incident

His herding dog tendencies could be a problem also. When I wasn’t doing what he wanted or walking where he wanted to go, he’d bite my ankles in an effort to direct me, or he’d head-butt me behind my knees to knock me on my ass. He also didn’t understand when he couldn’t go places with me. I remember one night when I was walking out the door to go to a sleepover, sleeping bag in hand. Huge Oliver heard the door open and came bounding towards me. He grabbed the hood of my coat and pulled me backwards into the kitchen, far away from the door, and wouldn’t let go of the coat. His little sheep was going nowhere on his watch.

Where’s my person? (Note: this is also an Ollie lookalike, not the original recipe).

The Let’s Go to the Videotape Incident

Then there’s the videotape of the time baby Ollie and I were running around the yard and my dad was trying to get me to train him. Ollie was just a puppy, albeit a large puppy, and he was all over me. He was biting my ankles and legs in quick little painful nips; he was jumping up and accidentally scratching my hands. I didn’t know how to control him, and the tape shows me running and Ollie chasing, ripping my coat, biting my hands, etc. as my dad yells from behind the camera, “Tell him ‘no’! Smack him on the butt!” The video then goes dark, and comes back on a few seconds later. We are now on my deck, with a whimpering me staring into the camera with a shredded winter coat, scratched cheek, bloodied hands, and baby Ollie sitting innocently next to me. “What did you learn today?” my dad asks.

“That it’s not mean to tell him ‘no’ and that I can’t keep him unless he’s trained,” I say through tears. That was the start of Oliver taking two puppy kindergarten courses. He was not a star pupil and had to repeat a grade, but he won for class clown and most popular, by far.

And last, but not least…

The “Don’t Let Go of the Leash” Incident

As I’ve mentioned before, I had my own dog walking business for a few years when I was growing up. I was annoyed that although all of these people trusted me and paid me to walk their dogs, my parents wouldn’t let me walk Oliver alone.

“But I walk big dogs all the time! Maisie is big!” I’d plead.

“Maisie does not weigh more than you do. Oliver does.” My mother would logically and infuriatingly point out. But finally, once Ollie was more trained and I was used to commanding him to listen to me, my parents relented. I was so excited. The last thing my mother said to me on our first solo walk was “Whatever you do, DO NOT LET GO OF HIS LEASH.” Got it. Duh, Mom.

We were doing well, two best friends, sniffing the grass on a pretty spring day, not a care in the world. I chatted to Ollie as we walked, and his intelligent eyes and big, twitchy ears gave the impression that he was listening to every word I had to say. Until he saw a squirrel. A squirrel he needed to herd. He started pulling me, walking fast and then faster. I pulled back, yelling “Heel! Heel, Oliver!” in my most authoritative voice, but he was deaf to my pleas.

The actual asshole-animal of this story. Screw you, Squirrel. Are you trying to get me killed?

As much as I fought it, I had to break into a jog and then a run to keep up with him, screaming “Ollie, STOP!” as I flailed along behind him. But I was not letting go of that leash. He charged on, oblivious to the fact that I was tethered to him. He was getting that damn squirrel. And then the inevitable happened. I tripped. Bam, I face-planted on the grass and was on my stomach before I knew what happened. But I am stubborn and was still holding on to that damn leash. So Ollie, without even breaking pace, pulled me along the grass of neighbors’ pristine yards. I was flat on my stomach with my arms out in front of me, eating grass and dirt and bumping along at full excited-dog speed. I was nothing more than a mild weight to him, and we flew along, me screaming the whole way. It wasn’t until a neighbor came running out towards us that Ollie was distracted enough to stop. I don’t remember much that happened next, other than 1) I think my mom, who had been secretly watching us, came running up and 2) My neighbor, who had happened to look out his window in time to see a little girl being dragged full speed by a massive dog, was laughing so hard he couldn’t stand up straight. “Why didn’t you just let go?” he asked me.

I could write a book about my adventures with Oliver, and maybe one day I will. For now though, I’ll stop here, with the smell of grass and springs past in my mind. Sometimes when I’m falling asleep at night, I think I feel the weight of him across my legs, which was the way he used to sleep with me; my legs under him so he’d wake up if I got out of bed. Those who have known the love of a great animal will understand the relationship Oliver and I had. I cannot imagine having grown up without him, and think of him regularly to this day. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of sharing your life with a loving and infuriating animal, if you can find it in your heart, perhaps you should stop by your local shelter. You never know what shape the best friend you’ll ever have in your life will come in. He might just be covered in fur and choke on his own tongue.

The real Oliver, seeing me off to a dance. That broken arm came from soccer and was not a dog-drag related injury.

Howie the Horse

8 May

Animals are Assholes, Number Six: Howie the Horse

This is not a picture of Howie, but for our purposes, this is what Howie looked like:


Howie was a handsome, strong horse whom I loved. I drew pictures of him in art class in high school and talked about him so much people thought he was my boyfriend and not a thousand-pound animal. I always insisted that my riding instructor gave me Howie and not any of the other horses for my lessons, even though the others had prettier names, like AngelFire and Sassafras Rose Garden or something equally ridiculous. But Howie was the best jumper there was, and I felt like this riding him:

ImageOver weeks of lessons in the fall and winter, Howie and I flew through the stable’s indoor ring and the jumps we’d take grew increasingly higher and trickier. Once summer rolled around, we moved to the outdoor ring and I endured sunburns and bug bites and horrible heat, just for the thrill of riding that glorious animal. And Howie loved it, too. I was sure I was his favorite rider and he was simply enduring other riders he was forced to carry. We were the best of friends. In my head.

In the outdoor ring, my instructor sat on top of a huge lifeguard stand. He could see my form perfectly from up there, and after spending a few minutes climbing his way up, he spent my lessons barking out orders to me. “Ride closer to the rail!” “You’re posting on the wrong foot!” “You leaned forward too early!” Fun times. But he knew what he was doing and I’d do whatever he told me.  One hot, dry day, Instructor had set up an intricate series of jumps for me and Howie to conquer. We’d do one, then we’d do two in a row, then three, building our way to completing a whole chain of increasingly difficult jumps, including some of those water ones with the cute mini rivers and fake bridges. Here’s where I should note that Howie hated water jumps. No matter whether they were easy or difficult, high or low, if they had water, good luck to you.


I was not this fancy, but you get the drift.

Howie and I were on fire, clearing the jumps easily and gracefully. Until we came upon the first water jump. Our first time around, he flew toward it and then pulled a fake-left-go-right move and flew around it. He then attempted to act like that never happened and proceeded to head on towards the next jump. I pulled him to a stop as Instructor yelled instructions. “Howie-boy, it’s okay, we got this, buddy,” I whispered in his big, brown ear. We tried again. Second time around, he didn’t even try to fake me out; instead, he sailed over the jump before the water one and then just charged straight to the one after the water jump, effectively ignoring the water jump’s existence. Again, I halted him. “Howie.” I told him. “Stop the bullshit. This. Is. Happening.”

Third try‘s a charm, right? Well, we went for it. Or, I did. Three jumps down and next up, water. And it seemed like Howie was in it to win it. Right before you go over a jump, riders “stand” in their stirrups, heels down, leaning far forward over the horse’s neck. Once you do this, you are committed. Like, married-with-five-babies-never-look-at-anyone-but-your-spouse committed. There is no going back from this position. And Howie, in all his glory, screwed me.

With no warning, he stopped dead directly in front of the jump, and I went FLYING. I flew over the jump, cleared the water part, and landed hard in the dirt on the other side. Oomph. All of the air left my body. I remember slowly looking up to make sure I wasn’t about to be crushed by my traitor equine friend and saw my instructor jump straight from his high up perch to the ground. Oomph again, he hit the ground hard and rolled. He grabbed Howie’s reins somewhat unnecessarily, as the horse was just standing on the other side of the jump looking at me inquisitively as if to say “Hey, how’d you get over there? Weren’t just on my back? I’m hungry,” and passed him off to a stable hand. My breath came rushing back to me and I sat up just as Instructor reached me. “Holy shit, are you okay? That was ROUGH!”


“Umm, yeah…” I said, dazed and seeing about four of him. “I’m okay. My arm hurts.”

“No shit it does!” he told me cheerfully. Very helpful, Instructor. “That was almost impressive, considering how far you flew.” He checked out my arm and deemed it amazingly unbroken. “Twisted.” he said in that blunt, horse stable way. “Twisted the wrist bad. You scared to get up there again?” he asked while pointing at Howie, who was trying his best to look innocent and not like a Person Tosser.

“Now?” I asked incredulously. “You want me to get back on him now?”

“Well, hell girl, there’s a reason they say you gotta get back on the horse when you fall. And you didn’t even fall, you got thrown like a bale of hay, which is worse. You don’t get on him now, you’re gonna leave, and think about how you could’a died or some shit, and you aren’t gonna come back.” Well, I didn’t want that to happen. So I shakily got back on Howie. I held his reins in my one good hand and we trotted around the ring, avoiding all of the jumps, until my mother came to pick me up.

I dismounted and kissed Howie’s big nose, all forgiven, as Instructor told my mother to take me to the doctor to be sure I didn’t break anything. My mom took me straight there, with me covered in the dry dirt from the ring, and I presented my now very swollen wrist and bruised arm. Now, this was only about a week or two after Sara the Potbellied pig practically ate off my hand. And this was the same doctor who had cleaned and wrapped that wound and given me a tetanus shot. He looked at my arm, spoke to me, and then asked my mom to leave the room. He then proceeded to say, “So, is everything… alright at home?” I realized quickly that the doctor thought I was being abused. And while I appreciate him looking out, what did he think, my parents BIT me and then threw me at a great speed into a dirt pile? I was wearing jodhpurs and riding boots!

“Yes sir, it’s fine, I really was bitten by a pig and then thrown off a horse. My father didn’t beat me or anything.” And though I loved Howie dearly before and after that incident, the fact that I had to explain to a medical professional that my parents had not, in fact, bitten me is why Howie the Horse is an Asshole.

*Pictures borrowed from,,,*

The Rat vs The Cat (and the Human)

19 Apr

Animals are Assholes, Example Five: The Rat

Rats are assholes. This may not come as a surprise to you. I, however, always defended them, because I found them cute and thought their ability to do things like decimate 30-60% of Europe’s population with the plague was impressive. That was until I had one in my apartment.

Aren't I cute? I carry the Black Death. Hehe.

Normally when I get home, Ophelia will do one of two things: Greet me at the door like a dog, all excited and friendly-like, or completely ignore my arrival while sleeping on my pillow like a passed out party girl like the cat she is.

Why did you wake me up, human?

However, as I arrived home a few years ago to the Lower East Side studio I lived in, I found Ophelia, as stiff and angry-looking as a gargoyle, frozen and staring at my radiator. Her fur was spiked, her tail puffed to three times its normal size. I was on the phone with my mother and I told her to wait a second, there was something wrong with the cat. “Phe? PheBaby, what’s wrong?” Without moving a muscle, she emitted the lowest most evil sounding growl.  “Mom,” I said into my cell, “I think Ophelia has finally lost her mind completely, she’s growling at the radiator. HOLY SHIT!” At this point I had finally followed Ophelia’s stare to the top of the radiator, where I now saw sat the largest rat I have ever seen. This thing was Phe-sized. “There’s a RAT in my apartment! MOM!”

Ophelia and Rat were NOT down with this peace and love bullshit.

“Get a broom and shoo it out!” she told me. A broom? Did I have one of those?

“Hold on, I have to put the cat in the bathroom so she doesn’t get out or get bitten. I’ll call you back.” I ran over to Ophelia, grabbed her, and dragged her hissing and spitting and screeching like a hell demon all the way to the bathroom. Which was like, a foot away in my tiny apartment. Bad move on my part though, because as soon as I muzzled the would-be guard dog, the rat took off under my bed, free to terrorize my apartment without the inconvenience of a psychotic cat on mood elevating drugs. With Phe locked away, howling from the bathroom, I found a broom and began jamming it under my bed in an attempt to scare out the rat. In my head, one jab of the broom would result in the rat thinking “Screw this, she has a BROOM! I am OUT of here!” while he skittered right out my front door. Not so much. A half hour later, there was no sign of him.

My friend, who was due to come over and hang out, called to see if I needed her to bring wine. “YES!” I shouted into the phone. “LOTS of wine.” Here is where I should tell you that said friend is almost pathologically afraid of mice. I knew I should tell her about the rat, but I also knew that meant she wouldn’t come over and I didn’t want to be alone. Like selfish people do, I chose to lie, but hint at the problem.

You'd need this too if there was a rat in your apartment.

“Um just so you know, I might have seen a mouse. But I’m not sure.” She was nervous, but she also knew I had mouse –sized balls of Ophelia fur that blew across my floor like tumbleweeds, so I think she weighed the odds and figured I was mouse free. Which I was. This fucker was a full-out rat. She came over, and with no sign of the rat invader, I released Ophelia from the bathroom. She stalked throughout the little apartment, sniffing the air and revealing her teeth to every shadow she came across, but there was no rat to be found. My friend and I chatted, drinking wine and laughing, and I managed to convince myself that the rat let itself out of the apartment the same way it got in. Until a look of pure fear came over my friend’s face. She pointed to the bookshelf across the room. There, with Ophelia staring on, books started falling off the shelves, one by one, like the library scene in Ghostbusters. The rat was behind them, pushing them to the floor with a loud BANG as each book hit. Once the shelf was cleared, its eyes gleamed green, right at us. My friend freaked. “It’s a RAT! A RAT!” Yeah, I knew that already. She jumped onto the couch with a bottle of wine in one hand and the broom in the other. Oh, no he didn’t. This rat not only invaded my apartment and terrified my friend, but now he was messing with my books? It was war.

I needed these guys.

I grabbed an empty shoebox and set to work. My friend screeched directions at me from the couch that mainly included her yelling things like “Kill it! Kill it with FIRE!” Ophelia chased the rat around until she cornered it, and I’d tried to jump in and trap it. We were getting close, but it’d always get away at the last second. I’d run screaming across the room with the shoebox, barely missing it each time. Finally, Phe got it cornered again. The two stood there staring at each other, with Ophelia howling. I snuck up ever so slowly, and then the rat pulled out its best move yet. It STOOD UP. And it was BIGGER than Ophelia. With this, my tough as nails Baltimore street cat flattened her ears on her head and literally backed away slowly, too smart to turn her back on it. Seeing her in this defeated stance was the last push I needed. I dove, and got that rat in the overturned shoebox. My friend started screaming in victory. She threw the lid at me, and I gently slid it under the opened end of the box so the rat was now inside the closed box, lid down. But now what? “You have to bring it outside,” my friend told me. “Get it OUT of here!” I was going to walk it down the three flights of stairs, but as soon as I picked it up, I felt its nails scratching on the lid against my hand and almost dropped it.

“Open my window.”

“What? Are you going to throw it out the window?”


She jumped from the couch to my bed, threw open the window, and leapt back onto the couch. Carefully, with rat-in-box-in-hand, I crawled across my bed on my knees. Carefully, I leaned out as far as I could reach and gently placed the whole box on my fire escape. I slammed the window shut and my friend came flying back over. We peered out the window with Ophelia and watched as the rat calmly used his rat hands to OPEN THE BOX. He then looked around, slowly stepped out of the box, and calmly walked off down the fire escape. I swear he turned and gave us one last mocking look and the middle finger with his little rodent hand.

And that is why that rat is an asshole.

(photos borrowed from,,,

Rex the German Shepherd

11 Apr

Asshole Example Four: Rex the German Shepherd

All of my friends babysat when we were growing up to make money. But no, I wasn’t down with that. Babies equaled zero fun. Parents tend to look down on you when you teach toddlers to do tricks for food, you can’t use babies as pillows when watching TV as you can with large dogs, and you can’t really race babies and bet Garbage Pail Kids cards on the outcome (or perhaps you can, but the races would be a lot slower and more boring). The only really gross thing you have to deal with with animals is picking up poop, and I for one will always say dog poop trumps baby poop in the “which is less disgusting” category any day. As is often the way with me, when it is Animals versus People, Animals win.

Preteen Me = A No Baby Zone. I was the Anti-Babysitter's Club.

That said, I chose to walk, groom, feed, and watch dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses and any other animals you could throw my way. I turned it into a mini business. In fact, I was so into it, my business grew and I needed to get a friend to join me, and my awesome grandparents who owned an engraving company gifted us with our own business cards. That’s right, I was nine and had my own business card  for the very originally named Dog Walkers, Inc.

Anyway, example four of animal assholery. Let’s call him Rex, because that was his name. Rex was a gorgeous German Shepherd owned by a neighborhood family who had three girls around my age whom I was friends with.  Rex was sweet and nice and fun to play with. As it turned out, Rex was also an Asshole. One March, when his family was away on vacation, they asked me to feed and watch him, something I had done for them often. He stayed at their house down the street, and my mother would take me over in the mornings to walk and feed him before school. After school I’d spend some quality time with him. This was working out quite well for us for about a week when I stopped by on the morning of my birthday. Since it’s right next to St. Patrick’s Day and I’m Irish, my mother made me a huge tray full of lime green Jello shamrocks to pass out to the class and cement myself as super cool in the social standings. They were in a metal dish and covered in tinfoil. Why I brought this into the house with me to feed Rex, I don’t know, but I did. I walked in, and Rex was waiting diligently by his empty food bowl, staring down at it with the precision of… well, with the precision of a German Shepherd.

Shepherdus Germanus (I made that up) says: "I am smarter than you are."

After a few pleasantries, I placed my treasured shamrocks on the floor and leaned over to fill up Rex’s bowl.  Out of nowhere, he turned and snapped at me, his white killer-dog teeth gleaming. I truly believe he only meant to snap the air (I’m defending the abuser! I’m so After School Special!), but he caught my temple and scraped down my cheek. Shocked, I backed up, hand against my bleeding face, wondering if I still had an eyeball and if not, how much attention that would get me. Meanwhile, Rex, knowing he did something very Bad Dog, decided to act like nothing had happened (a move I also employ from time to time) and causally walked towards the door, a sign to take him for a walk. In doing so, he walked straight across my tray of shamrock Jello, efficiently obliterating them under his huge Germanic paws. You thought he was going to eat them, didn’t you? Ha, a twist! I am M. Night Shamalan! German Shepherds, unlike me, are too smart to eat that crap.

I ran screaming to my mother who was waiting in the car. “Oh my God, what happened?!” she yelled.

“Rex STEPPED ON MY SHAMROCKS! They are RUINNNNED!” I screamed back. I had priorities and my bloody face was a distant second. My mom, never one to think you’re injured unless she sees actual bone jutting out, (did I mention we’re Irish?), took me back into the house and cleaned off my wounds.

“Superficial, “ she deemed them. While I had teeth marks trailing down the right side of my face, no real damage was done, other than to my birthday dessert. And my mother promptly reminded me, and this is true, that it was really my fault, because you never ever under any circumstances EVER lean over a dog’s food bowl, especially a dog who is not currently with his family and whose breed is used by law enforcement to hunt out and harm bad guys like a furry heat-seeking missile. So no, Rex was not an asshole for “biting” me in the face. But he was an asshole for stepping on my birthday dessert and ruining my chance at upping my social standing. I blame him for not becoming prom queen* years later. Not cool, Rex, not cool.

"Half the people here hate me, and the other half of the people here only like me because they think I pushed someone under a bus. This is not good." -Mean Girls, prom queen scene

*Okay, my school didn’t have a prom queen. But I bet if Rex hadn’t ruined those shamrocks, I would’ve been so beloved people would have voted me prom queen, even though I went to an all-girls high school and we didn’t do that.