Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Building the Obamas the perfect mutt November 9, 2008

 

Obama has been quoted as saying that the new puppy promised to his young girls will be a “mutt like me.” Now I realize that there’s probably a team of experts now combing every humane society, pound, and rescue group in the country in search of the perfect ‘mutt like me’, but as a seasoned dog owner, I thought I’d weigh in with some insight that may prove valuable in their search.

Unfortunately, right out of gate we hit a serious roadblock. It seems 10-year-old Malia has allergies, so they’ll probably be looking to one of the ‘low dander’ or hairless breeds. That immediately rules out the Alaskan Malamute. If you enjoy eating, breathing, and pooping dog hair and removing it from your clothes every 2.2 seconds, then a Mal is your breed! Otherwise? Not so much.

Anyway, with respect to this allergy issue, what fits the bill is pretty damn exotic – American Hairless Terrier, Chinese Crested, Peruvian Inca Orchid (yes, that’s a dog), and the  Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless). Moreover, seeing as they want it to come from a pound, the odds that they’re going to end up with a ‘world’s ugliest dog’ contestant have just shot through the roof.

So at this point, I’d like to pause and make a suggestion that may be a little controversial: I think we need to get some top notch scientists on the case. Generally speaking, I am not one for gene splicing, but the man is about to be President of the United States. We can’t have an animal like this running around the White House. Imagine a whole generation of children growing up with this ugly mug staring at them from the front page and splashed across CNN!? We don’t have enough child psychologists to go around!

That’s why I think some top notch scientific minds need to get their @sses into a lab pronto. We’ve got enough heartburn medications already. Put down the beaker, and let’s get some smart folks focused on developing a hypoallergenic Golden Retriever.

Better yet, in keeping with the spirit of our President-elect, let’s mix up a diverse cultural brew. Maybe a little something from Asia? Chows can be snippy, and Akitas are a little scary sometimes too. Maybe part Shih Tzu or Japanese Spitz? They’re cute and cuddly.

Then maybe a little something out of Africa? An Afghan was good enough for Barbie, and I think that’s an argument that would work with Michelle. Again, the Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks wouldn’t be my first choice for young kids, but the lab can probably whip up a personality fix or partial lobotomy for that?

Europe? Don’t mind if I do! I’m kind of digging the idea of a Bernese Mountain Dog or a Saint Bernard. Set him up with a little wooden barrel and maybe fill it with Tang for the kids?

Now let’s stir in a little American ingeniuty and sprinkle in an addition from the ‘painfully cute yet descriptive name’ category. That’s right, the high-priced American mutt: Perhaps some Labradoodle or Puggle? Maybe a little Cockinese, Malchi, or a Beabull? Hell, let’s just go crazy and add some Bichpoo.

This would be a dog America could get behind. The Satyr or Centaur for the 21st century. In fact, that gives me an even better idea: Why not throw a little cat in there just to keep it interesting? No one needs to know.

How long does it take to gestate a dog anyway? 54-72 days (according to answerbag.com)???

PERFECT.

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Tourist killed by angry mob of peacocks. October 21, 2008

Trying to look nonchalent despite the growing crowd behind me

Trying to look nonchalent despite the growing crowd behind me

This is the headline I envisioned as no less than 50 of them inched closer and closer and closer to me at the ‘Hidden Forest’ in Plaka here on Kos island. For such a pretty bird, they have mean faces. Menacing. And did that one just give me the evil eye? Lest you think a bird is a bird is a bird, follow me in this logic: Parakeets, and finches have cute faces. Owls look smart. And vultures? Enough said.

Anyway, on paper it sounded really cool, if not a wee bit complicated. Go about 30 kilometers out of town, just past the airport and shortly after the road bends to the left, take a right by the small blue and white church (they’re ALL small blue and white churches, but that’s just details), follow the road, cross the bridge and you’re there. A magical forest in the middle of the island.

At first, I sat on an empty bench near a couple with a German Shepherd puppy. A happy, exuberant little four-month old puppy that kept tearing after the peacocks like they were littermates, sending the birds – terrified – up into the trees. Then she would run over to me, and jump up waiting to be praised while her owners called for her by a name she was too young to recognize as her own. I wasn’t able to explain in Greek that I LOVED the attention from their dog and she was no bother whatsoever, so soon they put her on a leash, and walked away.

The cats know who's in charge at the Secret Forest

The cats know who's in charge at the Secret Forest

Shortly thereafter a female peacock (peahen? Is that right?) arrived to fill the lonely space left by the puppy. And then another and another and another, until there was no loneliness, but a fair amount of anxiety. Why are they getting so CLOSE? Is this normal?

A picnic table opened up, and I moved over there…and all the birds came. And it started to seem like a scene from an M. Night Shamalyan movie. And those so rarely end well.

It was at this point that a car full of Australians pulled up, and for a good long while they had to settle for pictures of the birds with me in the midst. One of the guy commented that it was “very Jurassic park”. Another series of movies that don’t always end so well.

I guess I felt nervous because I don’t really know anything about peacocks. I don’t know how to read their body language, and I don’t know if they’re dangerous or placid or bite or peck or get an inch from your ear and let out a shrill call just to see if you’ll drop dead. And I suppose all these ideas got in my head when it became clear that the three resident cats were afraid of the peacocks. This didn’t require anthropomorphizing on my part: The cats would try to slink by the peacocks, the peacocks would notice, get pissed, and start lunging, and the cats would run 15 up a tree to get away from them.

Your own private beach oasis in Ag. Stefanos

Your own private beach oasis on Ag. Stefanos

If you’d asked me yesterday: Peacock versus island cat, my money would have been on the cat. No questions asked. Thus, watching a lone female peacock threaten a cat…and the cat back down was a little intimidating to me. Vanessa versus peacock? I say put your money on me. Vanessa versus 50 peacocks plus however many are still in the trees waiting to swoop down and peck out my eyes? Well, let’s just say it might end up being a closed-coffin funeral. To paraphrase Julius Caesar: I came, I saw, I cowered.  And when a big one jumped up onto the picnic bench next to me, I left!

In other news, it’s only been about 48 hours, but my stomach is revolting against the buffets. I don’t know if it’s the quality or the repetition, but either way, I’ve spent some time on the gastrointestinal equivalent of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. At the same time, not only does the buffet menu repeat regularly, so does the music. Every day it’s the exact same rotation of 20 songs. Its kind of like the movie Groundhog Day. Hey, wasn’t I eating greasy pork and listening to Endless Love last night? WAS that last night? What day is this!? Wasn’t Tom Jones Delilah playing the last time I had oily chocolate cake with clove-flavored ‘Coca Cold’? However, I will admit that I enjoy that part of “Let’s Dance” where she transitions from a slow ballad about “last chance for romance” into the thumping disco groove. Almost makes you want to get up, dance to the keg, and pour yourself another glass of carbonated red wine. Opa!

Ag. Stefanos beach on Kos, Greece

Ag. Stefanos beach on Kos, Greece

 

Atheist prayer July 20, 2008

The blogger and her muse in happier, healthier times (this spring)

The blogger and her muse in happier, healthier times (this spring)

Okay, maybe I’m not a full-throttle atheist like my dad, but I’m definitely not a believer in anything traditional. Likely “spiritual with a very weird belief system involving parallel universes, past lives, quantum physics, shamanism, doing unto others, spirit guides, and maybe a dash of Buddhism” is the best description, and it’s safe to say that traditional prayer is not something I partake in regularly. Nonetheless, like any good hypocrite, in the throes of tragedy, such as I’m in now, I find myself groveling back to God and invoking the sacred words of my Catholic childhood. Hail Mary, full of grace…

My beloved German Shepherd mix, Pixie, is in the vet emergency hospital on dog life support, bleeding internally. Because I live in a stupid town large enough to have a single emergency vet, but too small for them to have access to an ultrasound, nothing is known about WHY she’s bleeding internally. She’s eight and a half years old and otherwise in perfect health. However, this morning she wouldn’t get up, just laid there panting. And when the doorbell (her mortal enemy) was rung, she didn’t respond. Also, according to the emergency vet, after a dog turns six “all bets are off”. They’re in geriatric pet country, and anything goes.

Anyway, with what she knows, the vet feels there are two possibilities:

1. Pixie has a heretofore undetected cancerous tumor on her spleen that has ruptured, and the blood is coming from there. In that case, they could do surgery to remove the spleen, but that would only buy her another month of life. That’s clearly selfish and cruel, so I won’t do it to her. In other words, if I learn tomorrow that this is the fate of my beloved girl, I have to put her down.

2. The long shot and the great white hope: Pixie has an autoimmune disease that is causing this bleeding. In this case, they would likely do several blood transfusions and then put her on a lifelong course of steroids, wherein she would live a normal life. I never thought I’d wish an autoimmune disease on my dog, but considering my options, all the Hail Marys are for this to come true.

The really weird thing is that i had a nightmare on Friday night about my dogs (the other one is an Alaskan Malamute who’s two and a half): I came home to my house and it had a chain link fence. The fence gate was open and the yard was empty, and I knew something bad had happened to my dogs. Someone said, “She’s dead, isn’t she?” and I started panicking and calling “come here, Sweet Girl. C’mon Pixie.” But I didn’t know where to start looking or where she might be. I worked myself into such a panic that I woke up.

I guess that doesn’t actually matter in the big picture, however. For now, I can do nothing except try not to think about it, and try not to fret and bawl and get terrified and start dwelling on how much that dog means to me and how much we’ve been through together and how I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest and thrown into a volcano. Thus, in the spirit of honoring the most wonderful dog – and maybe even “person” – I’ve ever known, I’ve decided to post a few pictures and maybe even a little video of her.

If you’re feeling particularly generous and regardless of your religious persuasion or lack thereof, perhaps you might say a little prayer on our behalf…