Monday, June 16, 2008

Monster Dog

The movies these days are full of the “reluctant monster/hero” motif. Just this past weekend, I was treated with the rare opportunity to view one such movie, The Incredible Hulk. I found the movie strangely compelling, although I have to admit to not patronizing many movies, so my basis for comparison is, at best, lacking.

When Trinity was found on the side of the road just over two years ago, her “passenger side” front leg had clearly suffered injury. The woman who found her immediately e-mailed the rescue and dispatched photos, which were sent with the label “Monster Dog.” Trinity's ability to persevere through what had to be incredible pain and then the horrifying experience of being introduced to a pack of Miniature Pinschers both make her remarkable; a hero, even.

Notwithstanding the motif of the reluctant monster/hero a la Incredible Hulk, Hellboy, the Thing, the X-men, Trinity has no dissonance about her role in our world.
She is the unabashed lover of all. She is the quintessential dog: devoted and loyal companion, energetic and mischievious compadre, vigilant and conscientious caretaker, and unending and loving comforter.

If we had a yearbook here at MisFit Farm, Trinity would be voted most popular, not just because of her effervescent personality, but because of some unseen force that makes her tremendously attractive to other creatures.

One time I flew with a group of friends to have a “play weekend” in Chicago. We ate dinner one evening at a restaurant called Club Havana. (It was in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, circa 2001 for any Chi-towners reading this.) It was, as the name would indicate, a Cuban restaurant. Our waiter was this heavily-accented, short, bald, musty-smelling man named Jose. As attractive as that may sound, it does not even begin to capture the raw. . . appeal Jose oozed. The three women at the table (two of whom – the hard-sell variety), were practically eating out of Jose’s hand. He told us the flowers on our plates were edible. We ate them. Slightly drooling, we chomped on the sugar cane he proffered up in our Cuba Libres. We were abashed when he had to admonish us that, no, we should not eat the decorative twigs adorning our flan desert plates. The only explanation for Jose’s strange appeal: phermones.

Trinity shares Jose’s power of pheromone, which based on the reluctant monster/hero motif, even for over-adrenalized green gamma-stoked monster/heroes, seems to come with the package. Today, we celebrate two years with the lovely Trinity, our hero, companion, compadre, caretaker, comforter, and reluctant, although tolerant vixen.

En Fuego!

I’m not trying to brag or nuttin’, but K bought me what has to be bar-none the coolest “bike” -- evah.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

She Lives!

Azure is not going to die. After she got so very sick, she improved ever so slightly. Not a lot, but enough to refuse any medications we tried to foist onto her. Enough to some times join us on our walks. Enough to take a lunge at a well-intentioned and quicker-than-he-looks neighbor Steve. Enough to demand to be petted, enough to voice her displeasure at our refusal to let her into the bedroom to sleep in the bed, and on occasion, enough to tip over the trash can to drag its contents across the floor.

But to say she was back to her old self was not truly a reflection of the mischievous little creature we have come to know and love. Her appetite had not truly returned, and she was losing weight. The types of food we have used in the past to coerce compliance were ineffective at prompting even a second sniff of interest. Her energy level seemed far too low. Our dog toy bill has been extraordinarily manageable.

Across the past few weeks, we have become alarmed enough to collect urine samples and take them in for analysis. We have looked for infection. Loss of kidney function. Presence of anything abnormal. Absence of anything normal. And every single test result has come back just that: normal.

Notwithstanding the normalcy of the test results, Azure just did not seem normal. I was worried. I was watching her every move for signs she was going to either come ‘round the bend or kick the bucket.

Then one day it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe Azure wasn’t really that sick. Maybe she is just playing us. It could happen. She is that smart, or perhaps we are just that stupid. Either way, I decided, “Azure is not going to die,” and I quit watching her for signs of impending death. And amazingly enough, I quit seeing signs of her impending death.

This evening at dinner, I made Azure leave the table area and behave. She sat and scowled at me as I happily sat next to K and devoured my BBQ chicken pizza. After dinner, for the first time in a long time, I felt a little tickling on my leg and looked down to see Azure holding a tug rope in her mouth, looking up at me with those blue eyes and pink piggy face, asking for a game of tug. So we played. She isn’t as strong as she was before, and we weren’t as rigorous as we played in the past, but Azure initiated play, even after a long evening walk and outside time doing lawn and garden work. Her tail was wagging and her eyes were sparkling, even after she rolled over to submit to a chest rub as I celebrated my victory. Later in the evening, when I leaned over to give K a kiss and then caught Azure’s eye, K cautioned, “If she poops on your clothes again, you have only yourself to blame.”

Azure is not going to die. At least not of natural causes anytime soon.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Relax, it's only Pig Sh*t

I was called home by the contractor to meet an official from the county health department last week.

The good news is: he seemed to be nonplussed by the abundance of dogs here at the farm. The bad news is: he was not nearly alarmed enough about the dark, oozing liquid one of the subcontractors observed leaking into our west basement wall. They were concerned about the possibility the uphill neighbors had cut corners in the building of their septic and lateral fields. The gentleman from the health department assured me it was not runoff from a human waste source, but theorized it was the product of runoff from the neighbor’s hobby pig farming operation a/k/a the 4-H project run amuck. In this case, literally run amuck.

Now there’s a tough one to figure out. Do I prefer to have my neighbor’s waste seeping into the basement or my neighbor’s pig waste seeping into the basement? Hmmm. . .

Seriously. I really had to think about that question. I am sad to say I am somewhat more relieved to discover “Oh, it is only pig sh*t.” This homebuilding thing has lowered my standards considerably.

It reminds me of this time I was working the fish cannery in Alaska. There was a lot of dysfunction associated with the melting pot of summer workers, the long hours, and the really pretty hard work. One day, the very creepy man whose job was to walk around and sharpen our knives had taken a belly full of harassment from two young guys from Fairbanks. He repaid their harassment by walking up to them and nonchalantly spraying mace in their faces. When my friend and I were talking about the incident a few hours later, we were stunned to realize we were talking about the episode with this oddly detached and unconcerned tone. “Oh well, it was only mace. It’s not like it was muriatic acid or he stabbed them or anything.”

I see the look of stunned disbelief reflected on others’ faces when I say, “well, at least it’s only pig sh*t.”

Undeterred by – well, anything, the work on the house has continued. The excavator did a little fancy earthmoving to re-direct the pig farm runoff around the north of the house. Since “it’s only pig sh*t,” this seems to be a suitable response for all parties involved, although I really did harbor a secret hope that the health department, zoning or some other responsible county official would address the issue of the six – 16 pigs residing along my property line.