Category Archives: Pets

Just Another Fish Story

I often dream of fish tanks. Several large and small and each and every one full of goldfish with bubble eyes and fish with glowing skin and sharp, innumerable teeth. There are also bettas and a few catfish. Quite the collection.

The fish tanks appear in different dreams, dreams not about the fish tanks but in which they linger in the background.

Regardless, in every dream, whatever the dream in which the fish tanks appear, I approach them and am horrified, struck by the realization that I have not fed the fish.

The fish are starving, and it’s all my fault.

So I feed them. But as I feed them the fish grow larger, they swell to grotesque size and multiply. More feed, more fish, more fish more feed. So many fish, it is insane.

I don’t often wake up at this point. But beyond this point the dream gets hazy, and I don’t know what happened (what happens) with the fish tanks and I don’t know what became (what will become) of the fish.

I know I don’t regret feeding them because of the fact I forget (have forgotten) that they are my responsibility, and I need to make up for it. It’s too late not to feel that way. Everything after that is perhaps regrettable, but then how do you fight the multitudes? Is that even the point?

Not when the fish are starving.

No, not then.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Dreams, Pets

“My Love, My Love”

“Here you go, my love.”

“Thank you, my love.”

“My pleasure, my love.”

Oh, my love! My love, my love, my love!

They didn’t always do that, this couple I knew. I think they were trying it out, all this my love, my love, adding it to the repertoire of their L-O-V-E, which included (among other things) light (and heavy) petting, hair twirling, hands in each other’s pockets, random back rubs; big, wide smiles. Little quirks, neat tricks. Things to pull out during a lull in the night.

A friend, who was also witness to this romantic display, asked if they were like this all the time.

I don’t know. But I said that it did remind me of a parrot, an African Grey, I once saw at a pet store.

“Hello! Hello! Hello!” it said to anyone who approached the cage. It made a big show of it too.

“Hello! Hello! Hello!”

Did you know? African Greys are among one of the most intelligent birds on earth. They have been known, for example, to outperform children as old as 4 on certain tests, and can learn and build upon a rather impressive collection of words and concepts.

“Hello! Hello! Happy Birthday!”

Did you know that?

The pet store Grey didn’t. At least, I don’t think so.

So it was easy to be charmed by the bird, with its precious words, cute mannerisms and bright, shiny feathers. So it was easy to just go with it, enjoy the show – my love, or no.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Birds, Emotion, Friends, Pets, Relationships, Ritual

Show It To Me

There are a few shows I watch when Stephen isn’t around, and not out of shame or guilt.

There are some things you enjoy simply because they are yours to enjoy.

There isn’t much more to add to it than that.

For once, you don’t have to be accountable.

 

1. Haunted Ghost Show

I know that sounds redundant, but I am VERY picky when it comes to my haunted ghost shows. First, there must be a haunting. Second, there must be a ghost (demons are boring; they are rule bound in ways ghosts are not). Jump scares, good ones, and no ghost hunters, psychics, etc., please: they are also rule-bound but in conflicting, non-sensical and ultimately self-serving ways. I’m embarrassed for them.

Also, a story line where, for once, the husband finally clues in and believes the wife about the haunting and then she just leaves him, finally realizing that his validation is as fucking useless as he is (there are still ghosts, ghosts regardless, aren’t there?), and that she’ll have a better, ghost-free life without him. That…would also be nice.

 

2. Nature Shows

Especially those involving fish and undersea invertebrates but, yeah, I’m someone who loves their nature shows. They’re soothing. I don’t even need Attenborough’s smoothed-over affectations, just some cuttlefish and something about starfish migrations and maybe a hypnotic sequence involving jellyfish.

Also, footage of monkeys stealing from shrines. Something about that – the pointlessness of justification, the inevitability of the act and the primacy of it – just seems about as close to perfect as perfect can be.

 

3. The Same 4 Episodes of Bob’s Burgers in a row.

These are:

S07 E13 – The Grand Mama-Pest Hotel
S07 E14 – Aquaticism
S07 E15 – Ain’t Miss Debatin’
S07 E16 – Eggs for Days

All of those. In that order. Every time.

 

4. Fargo (1996)

I watch this movie a lot; it’s one of my go-tos when I want something I know is going to be good, but do not want to spend 45 minutes on Netflix deciding on something only to resort to Twitter or YouTube to occupy myself for the rest of the night.

Why is this movie that kind of good?

Heck do ya mean?

Also good second and third choices: The Drop (2014 and because it’s still on Netflix) and Wayne’s World (1992, though 98% of that is because of Tia Carrere as Cassandra).

 

5. Arthur

Yes. The aardvark, not…the drunk guy? (I’ve never seen the movie Arthur).

Listen, there is a narrative purity and sophistication to kids’ shows that I often find lacking in “darker,” more “serious” adult fare. Arthur is very good at setting up and following through on a premise without pointless exposition or unnecessary moralizing (Peppa Pig is another such kids’ show, but for reasons that are more existential…like the time Peppa doubts herself because she can’t whistle and abruptly hangs up on her friend who can).

Also, Arthur has been on for 21 seasons (so far), meaning I’m never going to run out of episodes.

Joan Rivers played Francine Frensky’s Bubbe on the show, there’s a Neil Gaiman episode (he appears in a falafel), and a cat named Nemo. And Francine can play the drums.

Favourite character? Of course I’ve got one, and can’t you guess it’s not Arthur?

 

6. NOTHING

Sometimes embracing nothing is better than grasping at something, anything.

Isn’t it not?

I wish Netflix would stop recommending WolfCop (2014) to me.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Downtime, Entertainment, Ghosts, Movies, Pets, Pop Culture, Television

Dream State

Lou got me up early and it was a relief.

“I’m tired of dreaming,” I told him. “Let’s go out.”

It was a miserable, wet day and the sun had already decided to shun the remainder. That was also fine, also a great relief. Such a pitiless contrast between the dream and waking world was exactly what I needed to ground myself in the here and now. The real world?

I suppose I could describe the dreams; these dreams I’ve been having over the past couple of days (and days). And I do remember them.

But no.

The imagery is still too sharp, the flashes of dream reality too visceral. I feel more than I remember, but that’s more than enough.

Why this? Why now? That is not for me to say.

Let me just say: the subconscious is a lewd, lewd place.

Also: I am so over cowboy hats.

 

 

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Filed under Dogs, Dreams, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Pets

Dog Sit

Recently, my sister asked if I wouldn’t mind dog sitting.

I love dogs. Love them! So why not?

I have a dog myself: Louis, my 14 year-old dachshund. More dogs? An additional dog? Sure! Why would I mind? What would there be to mind?

Turns out, I did mind. I mind, a lot.

So much minding over so much to be minded about:

 

1. Smell

Dogs smell. Not just the ability or the power (to smell) but the fact of the thing itself (the smell of dog). Dogs. Smell. Did you know that? This dog, the one I’m dog sitting, smells. Like dog. Like a big dog, so much bigger than a dachshund, let alone a 14 year-old dachshund and his dachshund smell I’ve been smelling for so many years I don’t smell it anymore. Big dog smell. In my house. Just wafting around, riding the currents of our A/C like some rude, musky little ghost.

2. Space

I live in a tiny place with tiny furniture and this dog – with his big dog paws and big dog butt and big dog poops and big scoops of dog food that go into making the big dog poops – cannot seem to maneuver without bumping into something or knocking something down or pushing something – a carefully placed something, mind you, that brings together the room just so – totally, utterly into the worst space imaginable (i.e. to be crushed underfoot or under such garish light or harsh angle(s) as to force me on more than one occasion to question my sense of taste; my ability to see the beauty in life itself).

3. Hair

 Everywhere. Every goddamn nook and cranny in a home full of nooks and crannies. This dog’s hair is not fur but hair, OK? Tiny little eyelash things that – while pixyish and cute upon first blush – have become a plague upon our household. They, too, ride the air currents, whirling here and there, landing where they will, be it in the corners of the room, on the stovetop or in unguarded eyes and noses and mouths. Actually, forget about simply acting as a garnish on our spaghetti or in our tea, these little hairs everywhere are now are part of the chemical makeup of every single thing to be found in our place.

4. Water

This particular dog spills about half the water he drinks out the sides of his mouth while drinking. Socks are a luxury we can no longer afford, lest they become soaked in pungent spillover dog-snot water. Thank god for the hardwood floors, though our place being as old as it is, the water tends to pool in odd places where the wood is uneven, thus forming a series of pools that somehow remind me of the surface of the moon.

 

So, you know, after all this I realized something rather crucial about myself: I may not love dogs. May never have loved them at all. Just my dog. My singular, very particular dog who himself has caused me no end of trouble. No other dogs need apply. I’m good. I’m set.

I’M DONE.

***

Recently, a friend asked to if I wouldn’t mind babysitting.

I’m still laughing.

I have not stopped laughing.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Dogs, Family, Interruptions, People, Pets

Mondo

Not long ago, Mondo came to live with us.

Mondo (adverb/adjective/slang): used in reference to something very striking or remarkable of its kind; very large or great in amount or number.

Mondo is a crested gecko.

Crested Gecko Facts:

  • Originally from southern New Caledonia but now ubiquitous in pet stores and among hobbyists as they are easy to breed and care for, and have a life span of about 15 years.
  • Tree dwellers with a semi-prehensile tail, which combined with specialized toes, allow the gecko to climb almost any solid surface (including glass).
  • Crested geckos can detach their tails when threatened. Unlike other geckos, crested gecko tails do not grow back once detached.
  • Crested geckos are eyelid-less. They use their tongues to clean and moisten their eyes.
  • Thought extinct until “rediscovered”, alive and well, in 1994.
  • Great jumpers; excellent poses.

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A former classroom pet, Mondo was re-homed once before coming to live with us in our office. That makes: us, a dog, two fish, a tarantula, and now a crested gecko.

Have we become “those people”? We are assuredly just a bird or turtle or gerbil away from official menagerie status (faded southern belles need not apply).

So many animals, mondo creatures. Pets galore!

Q: What’s it like living with a crested gecko?

A: It’s like every other day, except now there’s a gecko.

Which is to say, improved somewhat. A measurable improvement on the everyday.

Mondo good.

 

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Filed under Animals, Names, Pets

Dog Days

Louis recently had 14 teeth taken out in a procedure that quickly became a marathon operation, complete with dramatic skips and beats in which he, in his fright and confusion and special doggy frustration, tried to fight his way out; in which his breathing became abnormal (though it stabilized at just the right critical point for the work to continue); in which his teeth, while seemingly normal from the outside (and thus, primed primarily for a cleaning) were actually abhorrently rotten on the inside (hence the transformation of his dental work from standard to complex to troublesome), and in which the resultant financial cost went from the low $$ to the high $$$.

Yet, it was nothing, this being his 4th major procedure (2 back surgeries for herniated discs; 1 for a snapped ligament) in his 14 long years of doggy life. He’s since recovered, as he has 3 times before. He acts as if nothing had happened, though there is less and less of him for anything to happen to as time goes by.

Dog Days

The absurdity of this dog. The absurdity of it all – all of it, our life together.

In a 1972 letter to Jane Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut mediates on the nature of death, having perused the copy of Markings, Dag Hammarskjöld’s memoir, that Jane has sent him:

“I open it at random, and I find a lot about dying meaningfully, and about sacrifice and pain and mysterious destinies…Are you really tuned in to this sort of stuff? Should I be? Well – I’ll try, but it’s not my style. I, for one, am glad I didn’t die in Africa, although that opportunity was mine. I still believe that a dog is going to kill me, and it scares me – and it pisses me off” (2012: 192).

There are fates worse than death, just as there are a million ways to die. Vonnegut’s is the closest that comes to mind as being, if not right, if not justified, if not even true in its most tangible sense, than fair.

Harsh, but fair. More than fair.

This dog is going to kill me.

 

 

________________________________________________

Vonnegut, Kurt. (2011). Letters, ed. Dan Wakefield. Delacorte Press: New York.

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Books, Death, Dogs, Health, Pets, Philosophy, Relationships

Fish Story

1. Storm Waters

The pond was located not too far from my cousin’s house, just behind the park, close (but not too close) to the highway.

“We’re going fishing,” she said, bucket and net in hand. She was a year older than me and, therefore, wiser by ages. I was in charge of the fish food: a full canister of blue and yellow and pink flakes that we had procured from her parents’ vast inventory.

Hers was a family of fish breeders. Her parents, my aunt and uncle, breed and raised fish and showed them competitively, sold the rest. Not a profession, just a hobby. But one they took very, very, ever-so seriously.

The storm pond water was murky and littered with patches of thick-grown, brown flecked green scum that rode the motion of the overflow as the pond lapped at our flip-flops.

“Ready?” She filled the bucket with some of the water, careful not to collect too much of the scum. Then she opened the canister, popping the foil seal just so (releasing its freshness), and held the net at the ready. “Now!”

We tossed handfuls of the fish flakes onto the water’s surface, rich fragrant snowflakes among the assorted waste of the storm waters.

“Wait.”

It didn’t take long. One by one and then in groups and then in droves came the fish. Fish of all shapes and colours – anything, really, that you could imagine from your local pet store. Murky water turned a riot of gold, white, red, black mixed with blue, yellow, pink. Tails swished, fins broke the filmy surface, bodies churned the murk it into a frothy mess from which bulging, unblinking eyes glared at us like spotlights. Open mouths; so many open, toothless mouths.

Poor, abandoned creatures. Tossed away (discarded, dumped, flushed) by people who I imagine had once been enamoured by their charms, by the prettiness of their delightful hues, clever contours and cute underwater antics, which were now all rendered grotesque. Life in the storm waters had caused the fish to change, to grow to monstrous sizes and into unseemly proportions. Into ungainly, ugly masses; living breathing tumours. Absolute freaks among freaks.

“When we have enough, we can go home,” my cousin said matter-of-factly. With practiced strokes she began netting the fish, the weight of them bending the pole into a most unnatural angle.

I never asked her how much was enough. It would not have been the proper question to ask, at that time. It was a lot.

And I never asked what the fish were for, what she intended to do with them.

 

2. Over Turned Bucket

Here, catfish aren’t exactly good eating, and I remember my dad holding a particular distain for the uncouth creatures – all eyes and slick mottled skin and barbs you could not convince him weren’t somehow dangerous. But luck is a fickle thing: we caught so many fish that day, and all of them catfish. Perhaps he felt that he needed to salvage the day somehow, redeem ourselves as best we could. In perhaps the only way we could.

The garage was the only place my dad was allowed to clean and prepare the fish we caught. Mom, ever fearsome, made sure of that, and it’s hard to blame her. The stink of fresh water fish, no matter how freshly caught, no matter how much my dad insisted he’d get it all, had a way of lingering long past due.

The preparing of the fish was always a solemn affair. Dad talked little as he worked, and we either watched him or we didn’t. Talk little, work fast, that’s all that mattered. Be there with him or no, dad would do the work regardless.

I crept into the garage, careful not to make unnecessary noise. Dad was at the worktable, effortlessly sliding a big knife lengthwise through the body of a particularly girthy catfish. Its head was missing, its fins and tail soon to follow.

“Don’t get too close to the knife,” he said, not bothering to take his eyes off the fish. “Move.”

I did as told, accidentally knocking over the metal bucket I missed seeing on my way in. It hit the concrete floor with a soft bang, overturning its burden so that it was undeniable. There was no looking away from them.

The heads. That’s where dad put them. The squirming, gasping, wide-eyed heads. The twitched, they spasmed, they stared right through me as they whispered unheard words with wet fish lips. Curses, for all I know. Wicked incantations, gulping greedily at the air, seeking purchase.

One, two, three…five, seven, eight. All the fish we had caught that day, though even now I could swear to you that there were so many more than that, fish be dammed.

(Later I’d learn that it was an automatic nervous/muscular response, the fact of the heads moving after decapitation).

But tell that to the child who for all I know is still there, counting heads, unable to do much else. Unable to be of much use to anyone.

 

3. The Osprey

Years later. New house, new backyard patio. A birthday BBQ featuring my dad’s famous pork chops, chicken and quail. A most sumptuous repast.

My cousin wasn’t there. We are, for all intents and purposes, estranged.

So I wasn’t thinking of her as I let my head fall back on the cushion of my chair and gazed at the impossibly blue sky.

It had been years since I’ve gone fishing with my dad. But I wasn’t thinking about that either.

I wasn’t expecting to see the bird or much, really, of anything.

Osprey are fishers. People at the dog park near the river sometimes freak out, seeing an osprey hovering above them and, more to the point, their small dogs. There is a part of me that wants to tell them not to worry, to reassure them that everything is, in fact, OK: this particular bird of prey will do no harm to them or, more to the point, their dogs. But then I wonder how much good it will do: people also do so love drama and the dog park, indeed, is a rather sleepy one.

The osprey that came into view above my head as I sat in my chair on my parents’ patio during my dad’s birthday BBQ flew low, struggling to keep hold of its massive catch.

The fish held in its talons was easily bigger than the bird by half. But then, maybe I’m exaggerating, for dramatic effect. This much is true: the poor thing gleamed gold-orange, gold-orange-gold, huge scales protruding off its belly, which was so engorged it seemed likely to explode in the heat of the sun as the fish twitched and spasmed, struggling to free itself.

Of course, we laughed: some ridiculous person in my parents’ ridiculous neighbourhood had lost their ridiculous fish from their ridiculous (that is to say, exquisitely landscaped) backyard pool.

But now I find myself thinking of my cousin and of the storm waters and wondering what, exactly, the osprey had caught, and where, and also what my dad would have done if the bird had dropped the fish in the middle of his BBQ.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Death, Downtime, Family, Friends, Pets, Places

Loose Facts

The Facts are These:

1. William Lyon Mackenzie King (not to be confused with William Lyon Mackenzie), Canada’s 10th Prime Minister, had three dogs named Pat. Not at the same time: he had one dog (named Pat), the dog (Pat) died, and then he got another dog and named it Pat. He did this three times: Pat I, Pat II, Pat III.

William-Lyon-MacKensize-King

Three Kings.

Rumour had it that Mackenzie King had at least one of the Pats stuffed and mounted after its death, but this is untrue. The rumour, however, is so close to what appears to be the truth that it is often repeated as if true. A difference that makes no difference.

Three Irish Terriers. Three dogs named Pat. No taxidermy involved whatsoever. Séances to commune with the dead, however, were involved, including Mackenzie King’s desire to speak with Pat (the dead one) as well as the likes of his long-dead mother and Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s 7th Prime Minister.

***

2. Barbara Streisand revealed last week that she had her Coton de Tulear, Samantha, cloned. She named her new, clone(d) dogs Miss Scarlet and Miss Violet (they wear red and purple ribbons, respectively, so that you can tell them apart). Streisand also has another dog, another Coton de Tulear, named Miss Fanny.

Miss Fanny is a distant cousin of the first dog, Samantha.

The more things change.

Three Coton de Tulears. One dog (Samantha), two clones of dog (Miss Scarlet, Miss Violet), another a cousin or some such relation (Miss Fanny).

Actually, four dogs were cloned from the first, Samantha. The runt of the litter died, the other clones – not Miss Scarlet and Miss Violet – were given away (five dogs, according to Streisand, would have been too much to handle and Miss Fanny was there to stay). Cloning costs a lot, it certainly does, but Streisand certainly has it.

***

3. Lisa Simpson’s first cat, Snowball, was hit by a car (a Chrysler driven by the mayor’s druken brother, Clovis). She named her second cat Snowball II. When Snowball II was hit by a car (in this case, Dr. Hibbert’s SUV) and killed, Lisa adopted a new cat, Snowball III, who promptly drowned in a fish tank, and led her to get another cat, Coltrane, who jumped out a window and died. Springfield’s Crazy Cat Lady (Dr. Eleanor Abernathy) eventually threw a cat at Lisa, who decided to keep it. She also decided to name it Snowball II to save money on a new collar and cat dish.

snowball_1_in_heaven-e1520879201574.png

Five cats, four named Snowball.

Now. We know that Snowball II (the first one, a black cat) did not look like Snowball I (a white cat, although he sometimes appears as if grey), and that Snowball III did not look like Snowball I or either of the Snowballs II – was, in fact, an entirely different (looking) cat (brown/orange with medium rather than short hair). We also know that Snowball II (the second one) looks identical to Snowball II (the first one).

Coltrane should have been Snowball IV (at least, he could have been), but wasn’t.

Snowball II (the second one) is and is not Snowball IV, which is and is not Snowball II (the first one).

Lisa once tried to resurrect Snowball I via the dark arts. It didn’t work: instead, she and her brother, Bart, ended up unleashing a veritable army of undead upon Springfield, including the likes of Zombie George Washington, Zombie Einstein and Zombie Shakespeare. Too bad. It should have worked.

Try, and try again.

***

To Conclude:

An Irish Terrier, a Coton de Tulear and a shorthair Cat walk into a bar.

“Give us the usual,” they say.

“You don’t have to tell me,” says the bartender. “You’ve been around here before. But are you sure just the usual this time?”

The Irish Terrier looks away, the Coton de Tulear cocks its head, the Cat narrows its eyes but does not blink.

“Make it a double,” it says.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Celebrity, Change, Dogs, People, Pets, Philosophy

Open Secrets Vol. 1

– The answer is very probably “Yes.”

– Things you can’t undo: the past, sneeze, fry a chicken. Repeat, then, if necessary.

– High school was so very long ago.

– They are still making Hellraiser movies. They’ve never not stopped making Hellraiser movies.

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 11.16.03 AM

Hellraiser (1987), Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Hellariser: Inferno (2000), Hellraider: Hellseeker (2002), Hellraiser: Deader (2005), Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005), Hellraiser: Revelations (2011). Not pictured: Hellraiser: Origins (2013), Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)

– “Mandatory” but not (always) absolute.

– Hard hats expire.

– So much in the naming (i.e. “The Amazing Spider Man”, “Old Faithful,” “Typhoid Mary”) it’s almost unfair.

– The answer is most assuredly “No.”

– The dog didn’t do it.

– Ringo Starr will outlast them all. And us.

– “Soon” is a hard promise.

– Dying is (pretty much) for everybody else.

– The last one? I ate it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Interruptions, Movies, People, Pets