Linked Essays and Home Depot

June 18, 2017

When I read the email cover letter to send in the sample of my manuscript for Drinking Out of the Trough, I read that it was referred to as a collection of “linked essays.” Huh? What is that?

Linked essays are those that relate to each other by subject and through a timeline.

While all essays weren’t in perfect order, I could see that they had a natural progression with regard to a timeline. That was the reason for going to Judy’s house with her crazy long dining room table, and sorting out the essays. As it turned out, the essays were mostly in chronological order. Had I known what linked essays were, it probably would have confused me more that the simple directions of adding photos to this blog. I have an IT person, who is quite brilliant, but darned if I can follow the directions. I will work on this today while it is hot today.

My submission to the publisher I want is done. I only have to wait. Judy says this publisher has a pretty fast turnaround, so I’m not going to send more entries to other publishers until I hear the outcome of my submission.

So today, before going to the dog park, I decided to have Ivy practice for her next lesson in her Canine Good Citizenship class, which is meeting this week at Lowe’s. We went to Home Depot. What a great little dog! Ivy, who loves everybody, started jumping up and down on her hind legs to meet the nice employees who thought she was the cutest thing they’d ever seen (she is). I asked the to let her sit first like a lady, then love on her all they wanted. Ivy was in doggie heaven.

Next, we started shopping. We looked at granite countertops, light fixtures, and other hardware items. I had to call her back to heel a few times, but she did this right away. We practiced sit stays, and down stays with me circling her while she remained in her stay. When people just wanted to walk by, I told her to “Leave it,” and she complied. It helped that I had treats in her treat bag hanging from my shorts. Good distraction technique if you ask me.

What I was most proud of was when she saw a woman running a huge machine to clean the floor. Ivy didn’t even react to it.

All in all, it was a successful trip.

The dog park was crowded. All her friends were there. Boy, can that 34-pound puppy run! Fast. Ivy is fast enough to catch up to a black poodle she likes. Ivy is mostly poodle, so it makes sense that she is as fast as one. But she’s only nine months old. We spent about an hour and a half there, and it was time to come home so she could drop down into a deep sleep. She is out in her dog pen now, sleeping like she’s dead. I’ll hold a mirror up to her nose in a minute.

Have a great Father’s Day.

 

 


Dances with Kittens

May 31, 2017

Have you ever looked closely at a veterinarian’s hands and arms? If you have, you would see tiny lines of scars on them, a memory of the cats that have scratched them. I myself have plenty.

I have two scars that I actually cherish. When Cowboy Joe was coming out of anesthesia, he was a little goofy, and raked the back of my wrist with his back claws. There are two long, thin scars, memories of a strung-out kitten. It’s a memory from a cat I dearly love, so I am happy to look at them. At the time it happened, 2004, I was not amused. Since my cat was loopy, I understood.

The other scar I treasure was put in place by Pruney, the cat of my life. While living at home with my mom after college, I decided that Pruney, an inside/outside cat, should wear a collar. Many cats wear collars just fine. Pruney-not so much. She managed to get the collar stuck in her open mouth, and when I got her off the window screen where she hung onto dear life, she raked the same wrist with her two canine teeth. After over 40 years, I can still see the reminder that not all cats can wear collars. The last cat I tried a collar on was Kitty Alexander, our 20-pound tuxedo, who promptly got hung up on a door hinge. I had to unhook him. Now, I know how collars should fit on animals. No mistakes there. It’s part of what I teach my clients. These were just two freak accidents, and since Pruney was my last outdoor cat, there really is no need for collars on my cats. And a heads up to our humane society, I don’t license them, either, when they get their rabies vaccinations. Bad Mary.

In practice, my favorite part of well kitten visits is to educate people about how to care for their cats properly. The most important part of this lesson is, “How Not to be Killed by Your Kitten.” You see, people like to have Kitty chase their fingers across the room, or wave their hand back and forth on the carpet. It’s so much fun to see him get so riled up he can’t think, and runs around the room like he’s possessed. Bad idea. Kitty gets the idea that, 1. It’s OK to bite the finger when he catches it, which is instinctual, and 2. It’s OK that human body parts make great chew toys. They are not. NEVER use hands to play with your cat or kitten. Instead, have a toy or string that they cat catch and play with. For strings and similar items, be sure to put them away when you are finished playing, as the strings could be swallowed by an unsupervised cat and wind up stuck in his intestines and will have to be surgically removed.

The same play rules are true with human feet, except Kitty will add hiding for pouncing on and biting the feet. If you like being attacked by an unseen ball of fur, by all means, go for the foot fetish. It can, however, be very painful in the sensitive area of the top of the foot. Picture Tiger lying in wait until you come home from work, looking at the mail when, WHAM! You are attacked from below-a direct hit to the ankle.

Also be that cats like to climb things, like the drapes. Bad Kitty. This behavior is reinforced by thinking it’s cute for Kitty to climb up your pants with his razor sharp claws.

So what to do if your cat is the Kamikaze who actually gets to you even after you stop playing with hands and feet? First, don’t physically discipline an animal, ever. The cat is only acting on its instinct of preditory behavior. Second, you have only three seconds to react until the devious act is out of Kitty’s mind. Fill an empty soda can with small rocks, and have it ready to shake at Kitty when he is bad. Making a hissing noise is cat talk for “Look out, I’m going to get YOU”! You can also turn and walk away, play time is over, period. Be strong, even if he wants to start playing with you again. Nope-game over.

What’s more fun than playing with a kitten? Nothing! But be aware of safe ways to play with your little furball so no one, you or Kitty develop bad behaviors and gets hurt.


Hey Lady! It’s a DOG Park

May 16, 2017

I am wary about dog parks. They are great business for veterinarians. This mean that dogs can get hurt at a dog park. Yet I serve on the Parks and Recreation board (16 years total so far,) and when we build a new community or large park, we include a dog park. That’s what the people ask for in a park.

I cringe whenever I see a dog off leash. I live next to a dedicated prairie, the Cathy Fromme Prairie, dog laws strictly enforced. But still, every time I walk Ivy on the paved trail, some yahoo has his or her dog off leash.

One dude on a bike was running his mutt off leash while he pedaled in comfort. I asked him to please leash his dog. His reply, “Oh get over it.” Oh well, there are only so many park rangers, and they are usually elsewhere.

On the prairie, there are an uncountable number of rattlesnakes in the grass. Want to see one in the heat of the day? Surprise one. It doesn’t want to eat you, you are too big. So is your dog. However, the coil and strike maneuver is the snake’s defense mechanism. I’m teaching Ivy the word, “sidewalk,” so she knows not to yaw off the trail. If you want to go and look at a snake, go in the early morning, when they are basking in the warmth of the pavement after a cool night. When it warms up, the snakes retreat to the cooler underbrush.

The dumbest thing I’ve seen on the prairie was a grown woman with a black Lab, and a tennis ball launcher. She actually was going to have her dog chase balls through snake-infested grass. Oy.

In my old neighborhood made up largely of college students, I asked dog walkers to please put Fido on a leash. Their retort: “This dog is on voice command.” Sorry, dudes and dudettes, there is no such thing. Sure, your dog may come with you and be good for regular  or boring things, but if it sees something exciting like a racing bunny rabbit, pause for mental image of a racing bunny, voice command is no more.

So today I took Ivy to the dog park. It’s on the east side of town. I live on the west side. I go to this park because it is not frequented by students and their largely untrained dogs, who prefer the west side dog park at the very end of Horsetooth Road. We people know each other, and our dogs know each other as well. A lady came in with her doodle-it’s fun to see an adult version of my Ivy-and promptly yelled at a man with what she called an aggressive dog. He wasn’t aggressive. He met dogs with a bark, and maybe a chest bump. Then he settles in to play. She took her dog to the end of the park. She stayed there. Her “dood” came back to the other dogs to play.

Just as there is no voice command, at the dog park, there is not much obedience. The dogs are there to run and play. If we leave them alone, they work it out. Once, I was there with just a few people. Two women came in with a truly aggressive dog, the women oblivious to the sign prohibiting them. The dog went after our little cadre of mutts. We nicely said that her dog was aggressive and should be removed. Totally different behavior than the man’s dog who settled down. This dog didn’t, and attacked again. The ladies got the message and left.

Ivy loves the dog park, and she is a popular figure to see. It’s kind of like the TV show, “Cheers” where everyone shouts, “NORM” when he enters the bar. She knows how to play appropriately and socialize, which will serve her well.

Go to the dog park, don’t go to the dog park. It’s entirely up to you. But before you go, read up a little on canine behavior, OK?


She Was Superfine

May 4, 2017

I always wondered why my Highland Park classmate, Cindy Superfine Goldsmith, would leave “likes” on Facebook. She died in 2012. Then, another classmate, Bruce Garnitz, posted a Jewish prayer for Cindy. It was beautiful.

Cindy’s daughter, Kim, asked Bruce how she knew her mother. He replied, then I chimed in on how I knew Cindy.

Cindy wanted nothing more than to be a teacher, wife, and mother. She accomplished all of these dreams. May her memory be a blessing.


Hogwart’s Sorting Hat-I Need You!

April 27, 2017

I wish I had one of these hats. This morning, finally, Ivy and I are going to Judy’s house to put all the chapters of Drinking Out of the Trough in order. Since it’s a memoir, essay style, you can open the book anywhere and start reading. So we have to decide the best order for the chapters.

Then it’s on to finding a publisher, query letters, possibly an agent, or a hybrid publisher. Scares the crap out of me. Stay posted on the progress of the book. I think you’ll enjoy it.


Doodles Make You Smile Every Day

April 27, 2017

Ivy the Goldendoodle puppy is looking at seven months more like a dog than a puppy. I am starting to leave her loose in the house for longer times. This evening, I attended our monthly Parks and Recreation board meeting. When I got home, Ivy didn’t look guilty at all. She must have been sleeping by her door to her pen, but she was sitting at attention, straight as a four star general.

The filth from this morning’s jaunt to the dog park was mostly gone. Just my luck to get a white and tan parti color girl with sable ears and green eyes. Her eyelashes are 3″ long.

Since her Canine Good Citizen class doesn’t start until June, we go to Canine Learning Center for drop-in obedience. She’s the youngest dog there, definitely not a show dog, but for the recall exercise, I leave her in a sit stay (sometimes she will stay,) walk away and call, “Ivy, come”! She leaps into the air, runs like lightning, and leaps into a sit at my feet. The other ladies laugh hysterically because Ivy is so stinkin’ cute. This week, she knows how to “finish”, i.e., go back into the heel position. I taught her that last week for the price of one Cheerio. She will do anything for a Cheerio.

As her drop-in teacher, Julie Yamane, likes to say, “Mary, Doodles make you smile every day.”


Are You an Organ Donor?

April 19, 2017

I just watched the evening news which reported that Hall of Fame baseball player Rod Carew got a new heart from Konrad Reuland, a 29-year-old football player for the Baltimore Ravens. Another person got one of Reuland’s kidneys. The tragedy of Reuland’s death brought quality of life to his donors.

Have you signed up to be an organ donor? It’s easy enough to do on your driver license. I’m an organ donor. I have a personal reason why.

For 27 wonderful years, I was married to a man who had a kidney transplant for 39 years. Earl was lucky-he didn’t have to be on a donor list and wait with agonizing worry. His Uncle Jerry was a match. Earl had his transplant April 17, 1970, during the Apollo 13 crisis.

People who need organ transplants feel lousy. The instant they wake up from the transplant, they feel back to normal. Earl lived a full life and accomplished many important projects in his role as Colorado’s Animal Welfare Veterinarian.

You don’t need your vital organs after you “slip the surly bonds of Earth.” Step up and sign up. There are more people waiting for organs that there are organs available.

Please consider giving this great gift.