Tag Archives: dogs

On Nostalgia, On Stars, On Mutts and Thoroughbreds

When I was seven-years-old, my dad brought home a dog.  It was mainly a Labrador, but it was mostly a mutt.  He was already just about full grown when he became our family dog, and no one took the time or initiative to train him.  I forget why my dad brought him home, but I remember my mom was not consulted and she was not happy.

One of my most vivid memories of this time in my life is sitting on the back door concrete steps one particular evening.  It was completely dark.  It must’ve been just after dinner, but in my mind it feels like it was midnight.  My brothers sat beside me and we looked at the stars.  We tried to decide what to name the dog.  The combination of family, and starlight, and this important task–it was like an ancient ceremony.  I think Mom and Dad had actually told us to go sit on the steps and think of something.  We’d been given a big responsibility and I felt the full weight of it (so much so that I offered no name ideas).

It was my oldest brother who finally came up with it.  And it was this magical moment!  He pronounced the name and it felt so right. So perfect.  Like there was no other name in the universe for this dog.  This dog would be named…Sparky.

Myself at seven had no idea that this was a cliche dog name.  To me, my brother was a genius.  He’d gazed at the stars, he’d noticed their white, twinkling lights, and he’d associated that light with the light of sparks.  Thus, Sparky.


Sparky was a terrible dog.  He barked a lot.  He bit.  And the thing that made me most upset about Sparky–he yanked on the leash so hard during walks that you’d have to let go of the wristband or you’d fall to the pavement.  The thing I most wanted at seven-years-old was to be able to walk Sparky.  Being the youngest member of the family, I think I just craved that feeling of being useful.  I wanted to contribute!  

Also, I was very shy, so I wanted to go out into the neighborhood and be social, but I wanted a buffer for when I did–sort of like a desperate guy in a sitcom bringing a puppy to the park with him to attract the attention of cute female joggers.  I wanted to be just like the loud neighborhood kids with their soccer balls and their roller blades, but it was so much easier to talk to the bumblebee that hung around in the backyard bushes.  I think I knew I was the desperate guy in the sitcom, and I think I knew I was never going to get laid. At least not by cute female joggers in the park.


I bring all this up because earlier this week the Westminster Dog Show was held!  Right here in New York!  It was a jarring moment for me, because I was in a bar on Seventh Avenue, drinking a Newcastle, and going back and forth between glancing at the screen with the dogs and glancing at the screen with the male figure skaters–and then, I left the bar, walked up Seventh Avenue near Madison Square Garden–and THERE WERE THE DOGS AND THEIR CRAZY HANDLERS!!  They were all leaving the Garden and heading back to their fancy schmancy hotels.  At first I didn’t even put it together, I was just like, “Hey, there are a lot of dogs around.”  And a couple seconds later, “Hey, these dogs are really well-behaved.”

And then I realized what was going on, and I was like, “Oh, yeah.  I live in New York.”  Still, I got pretty excited and I snapped some blurry pictures:

Only the handler's boobs and below are in focus. I planned this.

It is more expensive to raise this dog than to rebuild Haiti?

Too blurry. Can't think of clever caption.


At seven, I badly, badly wanted a beagle, and later, I badly wanted a border collie. The passion with which I wanted a dog at a walkable size was overwhelming. I didn’t ask for much as a child. An Easy Bake Oven, and a border collie. Between the ages of 4 and 9, that was it.

In most ways I still feel exactly like that seven-year-old. I understand that deep need for an Easy Bake Oven–if I don’t have Duncan Hines brownie or cake mixes on hand, a visceral sadness comes over me. A similar sadness comes over me when I think about how badly I wanted a dog, though, because I can’t relate to that today. Today I’m allergic to dogs. They make my eyes itch and they make little hives pop up on my hands and arms.

It’s a clear example of a place in which I’ve changed. I still want to feel useful, I’m still intimidated yet intrigued by my peers, but no part of me wants a dog. And that makes me sad. It makes me want to go find that little girl having a conversation with a bumblebee and give her a long hug. And a brownie.

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The Neurotic Little Puppy

I read this New Age-y book recently that presented a pretty thought-provoking theory.  The author was talking about fairy tales and children’s stories and how one in particular usually strikes a chord with us when we’re young and the reason it strikes a chord is because it reminds us of one of our neuroses that will continue to be a neurosis when we grow up.  The author said for her that story was the tale of the patchwork dress girl who shows up to a ball with a dress stitched out of lots of rags unlike the other girls who are wearing beautiful gowns.  The girl hides in a closet because she’s ashamed of her dress…then a handsome prince finds her and appreciates her handiwork or something stupid.

Clearly I don’t really remember the details, but the author boiled it down to something like–she’s interested in lots of things, not just one thing, so instead of becoming an expert at one thing she’s just mediocre at lots of things.  I guess that’s her neurosis.

This got me thinking about my childhood (because who doesn’t like to analyze their neuroses?).  The only book I could think of that struck a chord was one from The Poky Little Puppy series.  This one was scratch and sniff.  The Poky Little Puppy goes off with his puppy siblings to find birthday presents for their mom.  Poky’s siblings get lemonade or cotton candy or a bucket of apples and call it a day (the lemonade was my favorite thing to scratch).  But Poky has a hell of a time finding the perfect present.  It’s really sad.  He’s the ultimate people pleaser.  So maybe that’s my neurosis?  Yeah, I think so.  It especially rears its ugly neurotic head around these gift-giving times of the year. 

I used to be really good about making gift lists and crossing off names and putting a lot of thought into the whole process.  Now it’s December 17th and I’m like WTF?  How did this happen.  My urge to procrastinate has outweighed my people pleasing urge!  But I had an idea after I woke up, while I was still in bed.  It involves gingerbread and frosting and candy.  Or maybe I’ll just walk across the street to the 99 cent store next to the strip club and call it a day. 

 

Speaking of puppies, I have my own theory.  I bet police officers who work with police dogs live longer than non-K-9 unit police officers.  Because animals make you happy.  And happiness keeps you healthy.  And healthy, happy people live longer!

Serving Edina, Minnesota where the city slogan goes, "...for living, learning, raising families & doing business." Don't mess with those American values.

Further research will need to be conducted to see if the theory applies to Tom Hanks.

Further research will need to be conducted to see if the theory applies to Tom Hanks.

Unemployment Activities

If I hear “The market is bad right now” one more time I will curl up in the fetal position and sing the chorus of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” repeatedly. I always did love REM. Eventually I will switch over to rocking back and forth to “Everybody Hurts.”

The weeks keep going by and I keep not finding a job. It’s preposterous! It requires patience! But I’ve been keeping busy, despite the fact that I’m down to $41.39 in my checking account. Yesterday was a real eye-opener: Netflix emailed to let me know that the hold I put on my account has been removed. Yeah, the hold that I put on the account when I left DC, before finding an apartment in NY. At the time I figured that of course I would be able to afford Netflix by September 15th. It didn’t occur to me that the market is really bad right now and everybody hurts and it’s the end of the world as we know it.

I immediately cancelled the membership, but those jerks charged me for the month anyway. And I don’t have the mmph to bitch them out. Perhaps once I have some coffee…

Don’t even feel bad for me, though. Because I’m so irresponsible. I went to the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday and spent, like, 35 bucks. How come I didn’t have the sense to stop and think to myself, “Wait, isn’t that 50% of your entire net worth right now?” Denial? Hangover? Check and check.

I can’t really say I have buyer’s regret, though, because I found the most exciting book: Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan…And the World by Courtney Humphries. When you bought a $5 tote bag from the Independent Booksellers of NYC you got the book free!! Because IBNYC just made the pigeon their mascot. And if you’ve read my About Me section you know that pigeons are my absolute favorite.

What else. I was a hair model for Vidal Sassoon. I had a date with a guy I met on the street. Seventh Avenue to be specific. I auditioned for a thing. Landed the thing. I killed a cockroach and its babies. I applied to be a dog walker.

I’m allergic to dogs.