Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Teaching A New Dog Old Tricks

Excitement reigns supreme in the Slave Driver household. We have applied for and were approved to adopt a new member into our family. She's a beautiful girl, only 12 months old, of central Asian descent, desperately in need of a forever home.

What's that you say? A baby? Are you insinuating that we are adopting a human baby? Uck! Not a snowballs chance in Hell. It's a puppy. Kind of. A very LARGE puppy. A Great Pyrenees puppy.

(They don't call 'em "Great" for nuthin', ya know.)

The placement choice for the foster mom boiled down to a lady in Colorado or us. Being locals, we won. YAY! Us!

We went to visit the dog last Monday. As we entered the house we were surrounded by wagging tails and lapping tongues. The foster mom already has a Border collie and an Australian Shepherd. She told us the Pyr's story:

Apparently an 18 year old girl had her puppy in an apartment in the same town we live in. Foster Mom Ruth saw an ad for the dog on one of the local classified web sites and called about purchasing her. Except Ruth's husband wanted an Irish Wolfhound, not a Great Pyrenees. So Ruth didn't purchase her. The next thing Ruth knew, the dog was in the shelter. Ruth made a deal with Mr. Ruth; let her foster the dog until a suitable family to adopt could be found, and after that Mr. Ruth could get his Irish Wolfhound.

Now, as I'm sure you can relate, a dog which when full grown that will top out at over 100 pounds is not necessarily the best choice for an apartment unless you can spend several hours a day exercising it. And I don't know about you, but when I was 18, I had way better things to do then running a mini-marathon every day.

So this beautiful girl greeted us with a huge smile. She's the most laid back puppy I've ever encountered; friendly with strangers, cool around other dogs (which was a concern because Sammie Two Chews, resident Pomeranian is only ten pounds and a bit suspicious of other canines), doesn’t bark her fool head off (unlike the five dogs our neighbors keep locked in their yard with no attention what so ever all damn day long), walks well on a leash, is highly intelligent, and is generally a good citizen.

At least, that's what we were told.

Mr. Slave Driver, whose turn it is to choose a new dog, had to sleep on his decision, because he wanted a Bernese Mountain dog, Newfoundland, or a Leonberger. None of which are in abundance on rescue sites. In fact the only thing this dog and those dogs have in common is "Big." But he decided that she would be a fabulous addition to our family, so he called the next morning and told Ruth that we would be happy to adopt the dog.

On Tuesday evening, Ruth brought the pup to our house to inspect our yard (is it fenced? Is the fencing tall enough that the dog cannot jump it? Is it free of holes that the dog can squeeze under?) And we passed with flying colors. We've been dog people long enough that we know all the tricks.

And I mean all the tricks. So while the foster family extolled the pup's virtues, they also omitted some of the negative aspects of her personality. And there always are, it's just a matter of being forewarned is forearmed:

Her healing and leash skills are not what one would consider good. In fact, "Walks well on a leash" is inaccurate; "Drags you around to where she wants to go" is more appropriate. And while I sat in the living room and consoled Ruth, because clearly she adores this dog and is only releasing her because of the deal she made with Mr. Ruth, Mr. Slave Driver spent time out in the yard with the pup and Ruth's daughters, whom he pimped for information.

Thus he found out the following:

She eats everything. Everything.

She steals food off of the counters/plates/anything she can reach.

If there is a hole, she will exit through it and run off.

They told us that the dog occasionally likes to dig, but Mr. Slave Driver observed that the dog showed no interest until the children began digging in the sandy area of the yard (the Swimming Pool corner) and the dog followed suit. So he believes it is a child instigated behavior, along with her unwillingness to retrieve. She will fetch, but then the kids chase her around, which she finds a barrel of fun, and thus there is no compulsion to return the object to the handler to throw it again.

Both of these issues are easily solved, and The Kid (ours) is a teenager and therefore has no interest in chasing a dog around the yard because, frankly, it’s too much work. She will, however, throw a toy that has been returned.

So we have our work cut out for us over the next year. We're used to well behaved dogs that are trusted to remain in our house while we are absent and not destroy everything they can reach. And we know how to train this behavior into them, because over the years we have had unruly, annoying, destructive animals and have turned them around to be model citizens.

Of course, we will also have to modify our own behavior so as not to set this dog up to fail. We need to:

Keep all the trash cans empty or off of the floor.

Make sure food is pushed waaay back on the counter tops.

Keep a steady hand on the leash.

Never leave an outside door open or unattended.

Put down the lid on the toilet seat.

So, here's to teaching old dogs new tricks, and new dogs old tricks.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Changing Sh*t Into Sugar…

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a writer. As such, I belong to several writing organizations. Occasionally, some of these groups have contests. Once in a while (and for tax purposes) I enter them. I don't ever expect to win. There are a lot of people out there who spend hours, days, sometimes, crafting the subtle nuances in a paragraph. Not me. I'm more of a "What you see is what you get," kind of a girl. When it comes to me bleeding on the page, I write directly from the gut. I know I'm not creating great literature that will be utilized in the educational curriculum to mold the minds of young scholars for ages to come; but my stories have interesting and flawed characters that people identify with and want to follow their exploits. But I also believe in being true to the characters I create. In that vein my characters, like people in real life, occasionally use language that conservative readers consider to be very bad words. Words like "F*ck."

(Note: I have been trying to change the spelling of certain words on my blog so the People Who Run The Internet don't mistakenly flag my site as porn. I do, however, do it in such a way that you still know what word it is I'm writing.)

Now, I personally believe that there are much more damaging words in the English language then f*ck. The "N" word, to me, is way more damaging to our society then f*ck. In fact, any ethnic, racial, or sexually oriented word or slang word aimed at a person in an attempt to demean or disenfranchise them are very bad words. Conversely, I also do not believe in censorship. So if a person makes a statement about how they do not like or appreciate a (fill in hurtful very bad word here to indicate a specific group of people), although I do not agree with what they say, I believe in their right to say it. And besides, allowing everyone freedom of speech also helps us identify individuals in society that we might want to avoid. Or at least not friend them on Facebook.

So, here is the deal; I want to enter my novel into a contest. You are required to submit the first three chapters. However, in reading the rules and regulations of this contest, I ran across the following qualifier:

Submissions that do not follow the guidelines or are in poor taste (pornography and profanity) will be disqualified and the entry fee forfeited.

Now, as I said earlier, my characters tend to swear a bit. In fact, I went thought the first three chapters and noted use of the following words;

Crap- once (and before you hurt yourself with an eyeroll, understand that I live in an ultra conservative state where a large portion of the population do not watch "R" rated movies. I'm not talking "NC-17" here, I'm talking "R".)

Bo*bs- twice. (See above statement)

"Damn"- once.

"Sh*t"-is articulated on three occasions.

And of course the mother of all swearwords, "F*ck", is utilized in the dialogue six times. Six. That equates to twice a chapter.

Now, don't think of an elephant.

Haha, you just pictured one, didn't you? So, should I be true to my characters and submit my entry, knowing that as soon as someone encounters that first F*ck, they'll bounce my entry, keep my fee, and I'll be secretly blackballed from any further contests sponsored by this group? Or, should I stifle my voice, change "Sh*t" into "Sugar" and "F*ck" into "Fudge" knowing that each time the reader judge runs across those words they'll know, subconsciously, what I meant to say? (Don't think of an elephant.)

My other choice, besides not entering, which I feel denies me my right as a dues paying member who was not required to adhere to any particular set of guidelines upon joining, (unlike, say, a well known organization that disallows girls, gays, and atheists,) is to enter it as is, get bounced, sue them for denying me my rights protected under the First Amendment, and end up wallowing in a court system that is already overburdened by frivolous lawsuits because we live in a litigious society just so I can make a point?

I'm thinkin', "F*ck that."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Ahead, Fall Far Behind…

I've signed up to work again and thank Bob for Ro who reminded me that LDS Spring Conference is the weekend of April 3 and 4th, which is also Easter weekend. I almost signed up to work that weekend too, but then she whispered, "Conference…Conference…" and my brain kicked into gear and I said, "Never mind!" with the appropriate amount of panic because I almost messed up.

None of that really has anything to do with me other then the fact that 1) I hate to work conference because the annoying protestors make me want to slug someone and 2) I'm not religious so I'll be skiing on Easter Sunday, providing the weather is nice… Apparently holidays like "President's Day" are big skiing draws, but things like "Easter" and "Thanksgiving" people prefer to spend inside with their extended families. Well, we don't have any extended family here, and we like to spend our holidays on top of the mountain. That's our spiritual experience, thank you very much. And we like it like that.

One year, in Missouri, we spent Easter having a bar-b-cue and shearing sheep. It was a beautiful day, and we all got sunburned. It was one of the most memorable Easters I think I've ever had. In 2008 The Kid and I spent Easter morning at Angel's Rest, the pet cemetery located in Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT. It was sunny and warm, with a light breeze that coaxed the wind chimes into a soft and delicate concert. We were surrounded by the headstones of pets loved so much by their owners you could feel it. That was a great Easter, too.

The chaotic clusterf*ck of a mess of epic proportions construction downtown continues to progress. Main Street has been closed for a few days and will be closed until this coming Saturday (just in time for Young Women's Conference Saturday evening…) because the controversial Sky Bridge linking both sides of City Creek Center, the mall and residential complex which has been the reason for the chaotic clusterf*ck of a mess of epic proportions construction, has to be installed.

Many people have been against the Sky Bridge for various reasons and it will be interesting to see how the horses react. Horses like Charlie and Jerry typically have an attitude of "Hey! Look, they put up a big shady thing just for me, yay!" While individuals like Cletus and Tony take a more suspicious approach; "Wait just one minute…THAT wasn't there before… Is it gonna EAT me?" So driving each horse under it will be an experience, I'm sure. But all of our guys take stuff like that in stride, and have been so very good during the unending eons of wreckage and upheaval years of construction. I'll take photos tonight so I can post them for your viewing pleasure. In some of the backgrounds of previous photos you can see some of the buildings in progress. The condos they've constructed right across the street from where we stage are almost ready to be sold, thus filling the mall with people before the actual "Mall" is even open yet. That'll be fun for the occupants I'm sure (snort) and think how lucky they are… to have Carriage Drivers as neighbors.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I, Too Am A Trophy, Um, Something…

I met a real life trophy wife this weekend. I've heard stories of them, and there seem to be quite a few on TV these days, but until this weekend, like many of the folk who stare in wonder at our carriage horses, I'd never seen a "real one."

I recognized her species almost immediately: she wore a beautiful, delicate and expensive looking dress, large fake boobs, flawless makeup, diamond everything, some kind of shoe that I'm sure did not come from Payless, and had a plethora of yoga muscles. In the ladies room, a modern day watering hole where we women tend to gather, I waited patiently for an empty stall while she schooled her young, mirror images of her finely groomed self, in the art of primping and presentation. She couldn’t have been over five foot tall and maybe weighed 100 pounds soaking wet, but she was discussing her $42.00 control top panty hose—

Cue the sound of an automobile coming to a swerving, screeching, crashing halt:

Hold. The. Phone.

Like a deer in headlights, I was stunned. Immobile. Shocked into a stillness I usually cannot ever achieve.

Did she just say she paid FORTY-TWO DOLLARS FOR A. PAIR. OF. NYLONS???

When I finally recovered my senses, I looked this stick of a tiny thing over again.

Slave Driver then stares off into an imaginary horizon (being that she's in the bathroom and is surrounded by cinderblock walls it takes more than a little imagination to do so) and wonders WTF would someone who is as big around as her entire thigh needs control top panty hose…

And who in their right mind pays $42.00 for them?


Me? I wish L'Eggs would come up with a Control-top Burka I could shimmy into (after being liberally spritzed down with Pam for lubrication purposes) to make everything look thinner, but I find that I usually just end up looking like a sausage. And if I ever did spend that kind of cashola for nylons (which, BTW, I usually immediately and irreversibly jam my thumbnail through, causing a HUGE run, which, due to their super tight control top features, usually causes an extra lump of cellulite of pop out, thus changing the sausage look to one more like a stunted Calamari)

Where was I?

Oh yeah, if I ever put out that kind of serious cash for panty hose I'd better get a lap dance, a pony, and my car waxed out of the deal.

But, you see, that's what makes me a trophy wife also. Well, at least to my husband. See, what I may lack in high, tight boobs, a tanned, toned body and pearly white teeth so big they could pass for Chicklets I make up for in being frugal, subjectively hardworking, and not at all interested in name brands, trends, or Vogue magazine. Instead of going to a studio and doing Pilates, I mow the lawn. Instead of making reservations, I make dinner. I can fix my own car heater switch, rewire lights on horse and boat trailers, and am versed in reviving muddy suede chaps by washing them with Murphy's Oil Soap and tons & tons of fabric softener then laying them flat (away from any heat source) to dry.

Plus, and I suspect one of two reasons why he hasn't traded me in for a younger, toned and polished model, I make Mr. Slave Driver laugh. A lot.

The second reason is my muscles are the kind you get from lifting heavy things repeatedly. So he knows that if confronted with a thin, delicate sweet young replacement thang, I could easily snap her neck, thus handily elimination the competition.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Sunset in Southern Utah

First, I'd like to congratulate Doree, the winner of the Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner! Contest. Doree received a copy of Ignite Your Passion eBook. Thank you to all the folks who entered and I hope you keep entering contests and win big. Maybe next time you'll win a car or a luxury vacation. Not here, mind you, but somewhere…

We traveled to Buckeye, Arizona last weekend for my cousin's wedding. My cousin is considerably younger than me by about 25 years, so he's always been more like a nephew then a cousin. His family used to live in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania but they moved to Arizona a few years back so, along with my Mom in Tucson, they live closer to us than anyone else in our combined families.

Kanab, Utah

We drove. Driving 1200 miles over the course of 6 days sucks, especially when 1) you go through long stretches of landscape that is blah, 2) there is a bored teenager in the car who is missing Prom because of the trip and 3) your back hurts from sitting in the car for hours at a time. But I don't like to fly and we brought our travel trailer to stay in while in Buckeye so there you go.

The Palm golf course in Goodyear, AZ.

The wedding venue was a golf course, and it was beautiful. And it was great to see everyone. Now I have to catch up on all the things that fell to the wayside while I was gone. But here are a few pictures to amuse you until I write again.

My brother has taken dance lessons, so he decided to teach The Kid how to dance. The problem with the women in our family is we always try to lead.

The Kid and her dad during the Daddy/Daughter dance. Yes, that is blue in her hair. She has a fabulous GPA, doesn't drink or do drugs, is employed and generally is a good kid. One learns to pick one's battles... Plus, ironically, it matched the wedding colors.

My uncle and his daughter during the Daddy/Daughter dance.

We brought Sammie Two Chews along because she travels well. She sits on the arms rest between the front seats in her bed. The thing she found most annoying was there were all these great new people she wanted to say "Hi" to at the RV parks we stayed at, but they all had dogs with them. Sammie loves people, she hates dogs. So she was very frustrated. And by the time we arrived home, She.Was.Done.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The One Left Behind

We've been coping with our grief over here this week. Fourteen years with the same guy, suddenly he's gone, it leaves a big hole in your life. I find myself doing things that I became accustomed to doing to accommodate an elderly pet whose vision, hearing, and spatial concepts have been compromised as the years have taken their toll. I used to have to make sure the power cord for my laptop was either up higher then my knees, or way lower. Of course, that was no guarantee that he wouldn't catch it on his toenails.

Sammie Two Chews is the lone dog in the house now. She has been looking for her Big Guy to no avail. To show her displeasure she's pee'd on the carpet twice and pooped in the living room once. To add insult to injury, last week she also needed her annual shots, had her teeth cleaned, nails trimmed and I brushed the heck out of her because she's blowing her coat and was looking kinda ratty. So now she's in hiding under the bed, wondering, I'm sure, what new torture awaits. So I've been trying to do things she enjoys, like allowing her on the bed to cuddle, taking her for extra walks and rides in the car, which she likes a lot. I've also been sneaking her treats from the table, for which I get disapproving looks, but I don't care.

I'll be on the road this week on a trip to Buckeye, Arizona for my cousin's wedding, so blogging might be sporadic. The Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner! Contest is in its last week, so if you haven't entered, go here and do so.

And thank you for the sympathetic emails and comments. Cowboy was the most awesome dog. We miss him terribly, and the place in the hallway he called his own is a big empty spot, a mirror image of the one in my heart.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Border Collies don't go to Heaven, they just herd in Another's pasture for a time.

Half of my heart has left me today,

"It's for the best" won't make the ache go away.

It's useless to say you're at rest, this I know,

You don't know anything other than "go",

Somewhere in a pasture you've cornered a Ram,

Or you're herding a foal back to its dam,

And make sure that the cats stay out of the yard,

For you work is fun, doing nothing is hard.

Your hearing and sight will again be restored.

You'll no longer sigh to show us you're bored.

Along the way you'll find you a boy,

Who will chase you and pet you and throw you a toy.

Ginger will be there, waiting for you,

Stormy, Bandit, and Tasha-Bear, too.

And once I arrive and reunite with my Pack,

We'll grab all the toys, and find our way back,

And go 'round again on this earthly plane,

Young and vibrant as pups, free of old age and pain.

And together the World to our will we'll make bend,

My buddy, my partner, my Cowboy, my friend.

Brown Dirt Cowboy

2/12/1996 -∞- 3/2/2010

I love you, buddy.
You'll always be in charge.