Spring is dung!
Da poop has riz!
I wonder where my damn lawn is …
Yes, it’s that time again. The birds are singing, the daffodils are blooming, the sun is shining, the temperatures are rising …
“Good Lord. They’ve come back again.”
“Who are they?”
“God save us. It can’t be spring yet. It just snowed a few weeks ago.”
“It was just toying with us. We couldn’t be so lucky to be stuck in an Ice Age. No, we have to live during global warming.”
“You know what this means?”
“Of course I know what this means. Thar’s a ton of dog poop in them thar grasses.”
“Well, I hate to bring this up again but we wouldn’t have this problem if you didn’t insist on feeding them during the winter. Humans adapt, maybe dogs probably do too. Who knows? We fatten them up in the fall, then cut the food chain and they might think they’re bears. Maybe hibernate even. Like I always say, it’s worth a shot.”
“And like I always answer, you should be shot.”
My wife and I have this conversation every year about this time. When you have a dog and you let that dog out into your backyard two, three, four times a day to “do his business”, the best season of year is winter. And the best things about winter are that it’s cold and there’s snow.
The cold freezes them. the snow hides them. Problem solved. Temporarily.
Because then comes spring. By my learned calculation, one large-size dog produces about 2 cubic feet of poop during the approximately four months of winter.Now, I have three large dogs. So let’s do the math, shall we?
Exactly right – that works out to 359.74 cubic feet of dog crapola. You see? Those dreary math classes in school were well worth with it.
As you now graphically understand, the “spring thaw” is not a happy time around the Waterman household. At least not out in back of the Waterman household.
But does this stop us from perpetually maintaining a small herd of rather large man’s best friends? Hardly. We are undeterred. Yes, we may be up to our ears in it every spring, but the key to keeping our collective sanity while amidst and up to our midriffs in so much canine by-product is planning. And preparation.
It’s 3:23 in the morning. I know that because my left eye is staring at the glowing red numbers of the alarm clock that’s staring back at me from my nightstand. My right eye ain’t seeing anything. It’s buried in my pillow.
At 3:22 in the morning I was in the midst of a ferocious battle with some kind of blobby, blackish maybe-alien thing that apparenty wanted to kill me or eat me, not necessarily in that order. Waking up had abruptly ended the fight.
I was half awake and fully annoyed. I could’ve kicked that thing’s ass. As soon as I located its ass.
I wake up a lot at night. A great sleeper? No. A great candidate for a sleep apnea study? Oh, yeah. Poster boy material.
In any case, at this early-morning moment I’m not doing anything but staring down the alarm clock. It hasn’t blinked yet.
The bedroom is dark. The room is at full occupancy. Three dogs, at least two cats. Oh yeah, and two people. Almost forgot. It’s dark and semi-quiet. The at-least two cats are curled up somewhere on my wife. They know better than to take up residence on me. If I’m awake I’ll push them over to her. If I’m asleep I’ll probably thrash them over there. Two of the dogs – the bulldogs – are fervently playing a heavy-breathing, lightly-snoring duet. Their usual virtuoso performance.
The third is awake. It’s Zoe, my bull mastiff. I know this because I can hear the sharp, constant beating of her tail on the floor. Even without looking I know she’s sitting at the end of the bed, on my side and staring at me. Happily beating the crap out of the floor and every now and then whacking a good, solid clang out of the baseboard next to her. If I turned my head I’d see her – just a big blobby, blackish thing, slightly darker than the dark.
She was asleep and on the other side of the room not 30 seconds ago. How the hell does she always know when I wake up?
No sense in wasting time trying to figure it out. I’m awake, she’s awake, why don’t we call the whole sleeping thing off. We get up. Walk down the hall to the kitchen. She’s leading the way and I’m stumbling and bumbling behind. That alien blob was a better fighter than I imagined, I guess.
I hit the lights in the kitchen and there she is, in the same spot she always is at these moments. Standing and facing the sliding glass doors, then looking back at me with big brown eyes that say, “open-says-a-me.”
The door is opened and she goes out. Doesn’t matter what it’s doing out there – raining, snowing, fiery-meteor shower – she goes. Waters half the lawn and then comes back. I let her in, she goes by me and straight to a corner in the kitchen counter. Where the “family-size” bag of Pup-Peroni treats sits. Standing and facing the bag, then looking back at me with big brown eyes that say, “open-says-a-me.”
“How do I know you actually did something?”
Thump-thump-thump. She knows I was watching.
“You do know that I don’t have to give you one of these things?”
Thump-thump-thump. She knows I’m bluffing.
Treat paid, I walk out of the kitchen, turn the lights off and say, as always, “c’mon girl, it’s still bedtime.”
It works sometimes … actually hardly ever. I’m halfway down the hall but she’s not behind me. I sigh, turn around and go back. Turn on the lights.
There she is, in the same spot she always is at these moments. Standing and facing the sliding glass doors, then looking back at me with big brown eyes that say, “open-says-a-me.”
Round two. She fertilizes half the lawn, I let her in and she goes … well, by now you know where she goes. And what she’s doing.
“How in God’s name do you pull off doing one and NOT the other? How did you learn how to compartmentilize doing that?”
Thump-thump-thump. She’s not talking.
Now, there was one night when I didn’t get up. Not that I didn’t wake up, but the night when Zoe thumped that tail so loudly it woke my wife.
I laid there, very still, as if sleeping. I know Zoe wasn’t buying it, but my wife did. They went down the hall. I heard the door open, then close, then open, then close. I heard the bag rustle. And then “What, you need to go out again?”
The door opened, then closed, then opened, then closed. I saw the lights go out, heard my wife’s footsteps coming down the hall and then …
The footsteps went away, the light went back on, followed by some muffled words I couldn’t quite make out. Sounded a little angry, though. Lights out again, louder footsteps and as she got back into bed, I feigned coming to.
“What was that?” I mumbled.
“Why’d she bark?”
“I let her out, two times in a row.”
“She barked because you let her out twice?”
“No, she barked when I was coming back to bed after the second time. I went back and she was sitting there, waiting for another treat.”
“Really? Strange. You give it to her?”
“She’s not barking now, is she?”
“Huh,” I grumbled as I rolled over. “You sure spoil that dog.”
October really should be my favorite month. After all, I was born during it. It usually has most of the best weather of the year in New England – the beginning of autumn. It’s not too cold, not too warm. It usually contains more than a few days packed full of dry, crisp air and covered and smothered by crystal-clear, bright blue skies. And all of it is quite nicely accented with treeloads of falling leaves in a whole host of blazing shades.
From the beginning of the month, it’s a little piece of heaven on Earth around here. But then it all goes to hell on the last day … Halloween.
I’m not talking about the night full of roaming hordes of children dressed as Scooby Doo or Dora the Explorer or one of the three Ninja Turtles knocking at my door, looking for free candy in compensation for enduring the public humiliation of walking around dressed as Scooby Doo, Dora the Explorer or one of three Ninja Turtles.
I’m not even bothered by the other youthful gangs – the slightly older but far dumber kids who can’t find their butts with a piece of toilet paper but despite that handicap, still somehow manage to hang it from every single limb and twig of the tree in my front yard.
No, I’m talking about a large herd of supposedly mature, wiser people out there. They don’t put on silly costumes. They don’t waste expensive eggs by throwing them against my vinyl siding.
No, they’re so far beyond that kind of silliness. Of course, because they’re adults. Adults don’t make fools of themselves.
They make fools of their dogs.
Why anyone would look at the perfectly normal furry canine face of their pooch and see Yoda looking back at them is beyond me. Or an alligator. Or even more insane, an alligator eating their dog.
Seriously … what is wrong with you, people?
I’m not asking you that question, by the way. That’s your dog speaking.
Well, they may not be saying that to you in words. But you damn well know they’re saying it to you. All you have to do is look at their eyes, gazing up at you in astonished wounded wonderment as you tie that sombrero to their heads. Look at their body language, as they droop in shame and embarrassment when they realize you really are expecting them to go outside wearing that fake hot dog roll.
You’re just lucky you’re not looking at their snarling, slobber-dripping teeth, and realizing that, even wearing stupid cardboard “Tin Man” panels, Fluffy still can chase you down, disembowel you, and eat your ears off.
So, for your own good, and possibly to save your miserable misguided lives, here’s my version of Halloween pet costume aversion therapy for you and your kind. Print these pictures out and tape them, facing you, to your foreheads. And for the next 18 days wear them and stare at them.
Maybe, just maybe … there’s hope for you. Otherwise, I hope you’re at least decent fodder for Fifi.
There, that should do it. But, if you don’t take this therapy nor heed this warning, well … good luck to you, though I don’t really mean it.
And when you get up in the middle of the night, stumble down the hall in the pitch-black darkness heading to the bathroom, and just in front of the door your bare foot steps down and sinks into a heaping, steaming, fragrant pile of something far-too-horribly-organic-to-imagine …
You deserve it.
Ain’t love grand? Why sure, it can be. Can make you weak in the knees, have you seeing fireworks, learn first-hand the meaning of the word “swoon”, get you all hot and bothered under the collar and other places.
But love has another side. A hidden chamber of horror. A dark cavern of doom. A sinister alternate reality where good becomes bad, desire becomes disgust and together becomes apart. It has a name.
This is a puggle. Cute little thing, isn’t it. Cross between a pug and a beagle, I’m told. Why, I’m not told. Makes no sense to me.
I mean, really. You got your puggles, your labradoodles, cockapoos, dorkies, chorkies, whatever. I say you want an Irish Wolfhound, you get one. You want a chihuahua, you get one. You want both? You get one of each – you don’t go breed yourself an Irish chihuahuahound. It’s just not the same. It’s just not right. It’s just not possible. Is it? Don’t answer that. Some things I’d rather not know.
Anyway, this isn’t about canine smorgasbords. It’s about a man, a woman and a puggle. Craig Dershowitz is the man. Sarah Brega is the woman. The puggle is Knuckles. “Knux” to those closest to him.
Here’s the 1st-grade primer version of their story:
See Craig. See Sarah. See Craig and Sarah fall in love in New York City. See Craig and Sarah see Knuckles. See Craig and Sarah buy Knuckles. See Craig, Sarah and Knuckles. See them happily ever after.
See Sarah scowl. See Craig cringe. See Sarah tell Craig to take a flying leap. See Craig say likewise, I’m sure. See the pug half of Knuckles chase his tail, thinking it’s a beagle behind him.
See Sarah run. See Craig stay. See Sarah move to California with Knuckles. See Craig hire a lawyer to get custody of Knuckles. See Craig spend $60,000 so far to do it. See Craig go on You Tube and beg for money to help him “Free Knux”. See Knuckles snarl at his butt, thinking maybe that will scare off that damn beagle that’s been following him forever.
Not quite. Craig’s suing Sarah with every dime he has to get his Knuckles. Sarah’s in California, saying Craig’s just a vengeful hateful little man who’ll never have Knuckles.
And so the story goes. Maybe all the way to The Supreme Court. Dear God, please let it go all the way to The Supreme Court.
Actually, I say let the dog decide. They say dogs can sense fear in a person. Not much of a stretch to think they also can sense true love. Probably stupidity too.
Let Knuckles settle this case. Hey, it’s his life. Stand these two ex-love birds up in front of the judge, one on each side of the bench. Then open the door to the courtroom and let Knuckles come in.
Let him pick where and with whom he wants to live the rest of his life. Let him decide which of these people he thinks will offer him the best life, the best care, the best food … the best of everything.
I’ll bet he runs right to the lawyers.