Category Archives: Shiloh

As Explosive as a Dog Sneeze

“As explosive as a dog sneeze.”

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There’s a phrase you don’t hear every day, and here’s another: I am no stranger to being sneezed upon by dogs.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m haunted by the thought that this could be my epitaph:

Here lies Mickey, no stranger to being sneezed upon by dogs. 

I suppose there are worse ways to be remembered.

Anyway, earlier today I decided to make a smoothie. Shiloh, Mischief Dog can tell when I’m getting ready to make a smoothie.

Can he tell because I get the blender out? No, because I’ve learned to get the blender out LAST and throw everything in willy-nilly and turn it on quickly to drown out his barking. This has led to the smoothie-on-the-kitchen-ceiling and spoons-don’t-blend scenarios, but that’s not the point.

The point is this: now he can tell I’m getting ready to make a smoothie when I get the oats out of the pantry.

Yes, the dog who gazes at you in gentle bafflement when you say, “Shiloh, want a treat?” has figured out the recipe for a smoothie. There are people in this house who can’t make scrambled eggs, but one of the dogs now knows how to whip up a tasty frozen treat.

Today seemed like a good day to begin training Shiloh out of his driving need to bark whenever the oats appear. I called him into the kitchen and took the lid off the tin. I knelt down and let him sniff – he’s a very curious dog. I’m not sure which of us was more surprised when he plunged his nose through the opening, but I’m here to tell you that steel-cut oats stick to a dog nose like jimmies on soft-serve ice cream. He sucked in his breath, and I had just enough presence of mind to cover the top of the can with my shirt before he sneezed.

And boy, did that dog sneeze.photo (30)

I got oats on my shirt, on my face, in my hair. There were oats in my eyelashes, there were oats in my EARS. When I went upstairs to shower and change, oats fell from my clothes. They sat there on the bathroom floor in sad, abandoned little drifts.

Unlike regular oats, which I suspect have greater drag due to design, steel-cut oats appear to be quite aerodynamic. In direct defiance of the laws of physics, I found oats in the dining room around the corner from the kitchen. Maybe the explosive nature of the sneeze launched them with such velocity that they banked around the dining room wall and ended up in our neighbor’s living room. It really wouldn’t surprise me.

It took a good ten minutes to clean poor Shiloh off before I even started on me or the house – getting oats out of a dog nose is a delicate business, fraught with peril. Having experienced the wordless joy of having simple WATER stuck up my nose, I certainly didn’t want to risk having oats stuck up Shiloh’s. And it’s not like you can hold a Kleenex up to a dog’s nose and say, “Blow.”

Well, you could. I suspect that this is in the advanced dog training course, though. We’re still working on “Stay.”

All in all, it was an interesting day.

Also? You might be tempted to think a dog sneeze is funny, but it’s snot.

<muffled snorts of laughter>

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Filed under dogs, humor, laughter, Shiloh, writing

The Perils of Doggie Bath Day

“Someone smells like a dog.”

“Why are you looking at me?”

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Our dogs are pretty clean, overall. They don’t have many chances to get dirty, although in our old house Sophie managed to find stinkbugs in the basement with alarming regularity. She’s smart, though, and soon made the connection between rolling in the latest Eau de Canine perfume and going straight into the tub, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Our philosophy behind having clean dogs is pretty simple. We like petting them without getting grime on our hands, and we prefer that the house not smell like dogs.

So today was Doggie Bath Day. As soon as I said the word “bath,” Sophie went stone-still and tried to melt into the couch. She knows what that word means – she can even spell it – and she wants no parts of it.

Shiloh followed me right upstairs and into the bathroom, because he doesn’t know what ANY words mean. He watched me hook up the spray hose to the shower head. He observed me getting out a stack of towels. Being a good sport with a bad memory, he even jumped into the tub, wagging his tail.

He endured the first round of water and soap with equanimity. “Hmmm,” I could see him thinking, weighing his options as I lathered up his back. “This doesn’t seem TOO bad. It’s kind of like getting petted, only with bubbles. Odd but strangely compelling.”

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When I moved on to his head and neck, however, the situation deteriorated rapidly. He went from gentle and amiable to panic-stricken in seconds, even though – and here’s the interesting part – nothing unusual happened. I did not spray gallons of water directly into his eyes or ears. I failed to squirt dog shampoo up his nose. We were not suddenly menaced by a gigantic wall of water. There was no gelatinous ooze monster with teeth like razor blades emerging  from the drain. 

“Good boy, Shiloh! Good, good boy. That’s right, you’re a good HEY STOP! NO! STAY IN THE TUB! No no no no Shiloh what are you OUCH! NO! NO CLIMBING ON MY HEAD! COME ON, BOY, GOOD DOG AIIIIGGGGHHHHHH!”

Afterwards, I dried him off, mildly stunned. He even gave me his paws, probably out of sheer embarrassment. I squelched downstairs, dripping, to inform my husband that he was on deck to wash Sophie. I was done.

There were two spots – one on my shoulder, one on the side of my shorts – that weren’t soaked. Muscles I didn’t even know I had ached from keeping Shiloh in the tub. In direct defiance of basic anatomy, I somehow got water in my spleen.

Doggie bath time isn’t fun for ANYONE.

Sure, there are local places that wash dogs, but Shiloh hates them. Despite the attentions of caring, gentle staff who genuinely love dogs, he struggles and wheezes and sounds like Darth Dog to the point that even Sophie feels sorry for him. Last time we took him, she toddled into the washing area and laid down on the rubber floor mat in a surprising show of solidarity.

It didn’t help, of course, but it was still cute.

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So I’ll wash Shiloh at the house, and he’ll remember halfway through every bath that he hates getting baths, and I’ll get soaked, and he’ll get embarrassed. And Sophie will hope against hope that Shiloh continues to go first, and that we’ll somehow be distracted into forgetting that we have two dogs. At least as far as bath-time is concerned. Dinner time? That’s a whole different story.

And we’ll ALL keep our eyes open for a gelatinous ooze monster with teeth like razor blades emerging from ANY drain.

You know, just in case.

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Filed under dogs, humor, laughter, Shiloh, sophie, Uncategorized, writing

An Open Letter to Dave Barry

Dear Mr. Barry,

Where to begin? I suppose the most logical place is this: I swear I am not making this up.

I’ve been a fan of yours since I lived in Miami in the 90s. Your ability to sum up the absurdity that is South Florida while maintaining an air of unwavering loyalty always brought a wry smile to my face: It might be crazy, but it’s OUR crazy.

I saw you play as part of the Rock Bottom Remainders one year at the Miami Book Fair. The show was in what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse on not-yet revitalized South Beach. It still ranks as one of the most enthusiastic live performances I’ve personally witnessed. There is no denying that you were having a blast, power strumming chords to that perennial crowd favorite, MacArthur Park. Hahaha – just kidding! It was La Bamba. And possibly Wooly Bully.

I’ve taken part in the Tropic Hunt and the Post Hunt. One of the only overt exhibitions of civic pride I ever witnessed in Miami happened when the crowd united in anger against a team from North Carolina that won the Tropic Hunt one year in Coconut Grove. I’m pretty sure the winners were ferried to an undisclosed location across Biscayne Bay in order to give them a head start in fleeing the city ahead of an aggrieved yet highly motivated mob. Woohoo, Miami!

I proudly (word choice?) performed as part of the Kazoo Processional that led guests to dinner at our local Chamber of Commerce Signature Event the year that you were the Guest Presenter. Let’s just say I am not one of the world’s naturally-gifted kazooers: to this day I have no idea if my cheeks hurt so much afterwards from steadily sustained laughter or from honking out “When the Saints Go Marching In” eighty-seven times in a row.

I’ve read several of your books, most recently Peter and the Starcatchers. I’ve laughed out loud at your columns, especially the Year in Review and the Gift Guide. However, if forced to choose one of your most notable literary achievements, it would have to be the naming of the title character in Naked Came the Manatee: it’s hard to go wrong with a manatee named Booger.

Recently, a friend wrote to tell me that you were coming to Annapolis, Maryland for a book signing of your newly released Insane City. I was excited all the way up until I remembered I’d committed to making a presentation that day, clear on the other side of the state. Even though Maryland isn’t Florida, where travelling across the state can take up to three days depending on traffic in Orlando, it was still enough to prevent me from making the event. My friend magnanimously offered to get a copy of your new book signed for me.

The following Tuesday, I entered my office to discover the book sitting on my chair. I was elated and extremely grateful. Rumors suggest I may have run a celebratory lap around the first floor of the office with the book proudly held over my head.

On Thursday I brought the book home. I took it out of my bag – worried about it getting crushed or torn there – and placed it in the middle of the dining room table. The large dining room table. My husband and I went to dinner and returned less than ninety minutes later to find the book laying open on the floor. The cover had been removed and – how shall I put this? – artfully redesigned by Shiloh, Mischief Dog. He even ate part of it.

Here’s a photo of Shiloh refusing to look at the camera when confronted with the Evidence of the Crime.

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Now I don’t mean to start any trouble, but the copy of Stephen King’s Wind Through the Keyhole sat on the same table for several days, untouched. Shiloh also ignored a copy of the Post Magazine, temptingly opened to the column Gene Weingarten wrote for the 2012 Post Hunt. In Shiloh’s defense, we’d only had him for about a month at that point, so it’s entirely possible that he wasn’t yet aware that the table existed.

Even so, I think you’ll agree that the evidence is crystal clear: he loves your writing SO MUCH he decided to eat it. In the words of Maurice Sendak, “I’ll eat you up, I love you so!” He’s a pretty deep dog with what appears to be a rare appreciation of excellent fiction.

It is, however, equally plausible that he loathes your book. Alternately, he may have confused it with a dog treat. Or a plush squeaky toy.

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He’s kind of difficult to interpret, when you get right down to it.

Sophie, our Main Dog, was appalled by the entire episode. If she had opposable thumbs, she’d waste no time in contacting her congressional representative and formally requesting legislation to reclassify Shiloh as a cat.

The good news? You’re in excellent company. Shiloh has also eaten a paperback  and nibbled the corner of Terry Pratchett’s Nation audiobook cover, both on loan from my the Howard County Library System.

That brings me to my request. No, I do not need you to send me another signed copy of your book. I’d be delighted to buy myself a replacement solely for the cover, or even to enjoy the copy I have sans cover but lovingly drooled upon by my misguided yet well-intentioned rescue dog.

If you happen upon this message and are so inclined, I’d like to ask you to consider helping to promote our local libraries. They are top-notch, but – as with all libraries – there are programs that need support in order to continue. I’ll be raising money this weekend as a Celebrity Bartender during Evening in the Stacks, their annual fundraiser that supports two exceptional programs: A+ Partners in Education and Project Literacy.

And who knows? Maybe one day Shiloh will be ready to take part in their DEAR Program (Dogs Educating and Assisting Readers), in which third graders improve their skills by reading to attentive dogs.

But only if we can keep him from eating the books.

In closing, I’d like to thank you for the laughter. It’s made a world of difference. According to this Alert Reader, at least.

And I swear I’m not making that up, either.

Sincerely,

Mickey

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Filed under authors, books, dogs, laughter, Shiloh, writing

Shiloh Happened

I’d meant to write an AMAZING end-of-the-year post, reflecting on my successes and failures of the past year while promising to do better in the next. Blah blah blah. You know the drill. Earth-shattering insights! Insanely simple yet profound suggestions!

And then, Shiloh happened.

261835_4382759214598_1064910113_nFor those of you who don’t know, Shiloh, Mischief Dog joined our family in April. He’s a rescue dog, somewhere between eight and ten (depending on which paperwork you believe). He spent most of his life chained to a doghouse outside in the mountains. After some initial setbacks that resulted in the death of all floor-based houseplants and new blinds for every window the living room, he settled in admirably.

The fact that you never really know what he’ll get into next adds an element of adventure to day-to-day life. He’s shredded toys (both his and Sophie the Wonder Dog’s), slippers, a paperback, two audiobook cases, tissue paper, cards and several bags. He’s eaten a stick of butter, a pound and a half of homemade Chex mix and a bag of gummy bears (including the bag).

One evening we returned home, opened the front door and were hit with the unmistakable and overwhelming smell of coffee. Shiloh discovered sealed bags of whole beans stored in a box stacked in a corner of the laundry room.

To clarify, the bags were not sitting out in plain view on a counter covered with bacon grease.

Evidence suggests that he enjoyed chewing through the box AND all three bags, cheerfully spreading the beans from one side of the living room to the other with the bulk of concentration focused damningly on his dog bed. Based on the fact that close to half a pound of it was missing, his personal favorite blend appeared to be Pumpkin Spice.

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Panicked, we called the vet. Meanwhile, Shiloh looked hugely uncomfortable, opened his mouth and out shot a stream of partially chewed coffee beans. This was good news – as long as he was throwing up on his own, no further treatment was necessary. That dog vomited coffee beans for HOURS, proving that his body is far smarter than his mind and stomach. I am certain that the laws of physics were broken that night, because WAY more beans came out than went in.

He seems to have learned his lesson, though. “Shiloh, what’s this?” accompanied by the shake of a bag of coffee now sends him slinking into the next room, eyes averted.

After starting to write the end of year post the other day, I innocently left the house for two hours. Two. Hours.

I returned to Plush Toy Armageddon. Christmas was just days before. Both dogs enjoyed the kind of attention that comes from being the Wonder Dog and the Mischief Dog, respectively. Shiloh received several “indestructible” toys with multiple squeakers.

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I’d like to think they went quickly; the plush snake, the adorable alligator, the blue thing that I-don’t-know-what-it-was. Sophie’s duck and bear were collateral damage, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The cookies – a gift from our neighbors – were stalked with the consummate skill of a dog smart enough to casually notice a pattern just before the appearance of the magical peanut butter cookies. I have no idea what he was trying to do with the sugar cookie mix, but he seemed to enjoy prancing through it after destroying the bag. His whiskers were coated in flour.

I stood there in the last light of day, stunned speechless. I dropped everything, sat on the steps and called my husband.

“You won’t believe what Shiloh did.”
“Bet I will.” He’s right – my husband has come home to this scene several times and counting.
As I described the sheer magnitude – the duck’s little foot was torn off, there were easily eighteen squeakers out and stuffing EVERYWHERE – he stopped me. “He ate the cookies?”
“Yes?”
“There were chocolate chips in there. And I think macadamia nuts.”
“Yes, but he’s eaten COFFEE BEANS before. I think he’ll be okay.” I offered this last part with a doubtful edge to my voice. “Okay, I’ll call the vet.”

I called our vet and explained the situation.
“Macadamia nuts? Those are toxic. You need to induce vomiting.”
“I’m sorry, I need to what?”
“Induce vomiting. Pour small amounts of hydrogen peroxide down his throat until he starts throwing up.”
“You’ve got to be kidding. He’ll barely let us give him a bath. It takes FIVE of you to hold him down to trim his nails. I’m supposed to get peroxide down his throat?!”
“If he ate macadamia nuts? Yes.”
“Okay.”

I hung up, thought for a minute, and picked up the phone.

“Hey there! Thanks so much for the cookies – we really enjoyed them. Quick question though – were there macadamia nuts in any of them? No? Thank goodness. Why? Um, well, we thought there might’ve been some in the remaining cookies, which Shiloh helped himself to while we were out. And it seems macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. Hahaha, that crazy Shiloh. Now I won’t have to induce vomiting, which is a relief all around, let me tell you. Haha. Yep. Well you have a Happy New Year!”

Our neighbors are good sports, but this might have been too much information even for them.

549093_4143832041568_2045243554_nSo I cleaned (pro-tip: use a shop vac for flour), and Shiloh skulked, and Sophie remained hidden until the coast was clear. An hour later, I was relaxing on the couch and Shiloh crept up, curled into a tiny ball and was snoring within minutes.

430370_4224646301874_1199647589_nI admire his resilience. He hasn’t had the easiest life, this dog. He shies around strangers, and gets a little jumpy sometimes. He hates having his paws touched. He didn’t lay down in our line of sight for the first week we had him. He didn’t know what a toy was or how to play with one. He’d never seen a rawhide.

And yet, just months later, he’s settled in. He barks at the vacuum and paper-shredder and blender.  He follows me everywhere.  You can almost feel Sophie rolling her eyes at his exploits from time to time – when he runs into walls, for example, or stands in the middle of a room staring at nothing. For hours. Or when we find him gleefully shredding another toy, crazy tail wagging away.  He adores Sophie, though, and so they get along well. He is kind and gentle (unless you are a squeaky toy), and a very welcome addition to our home.

So that’s what happened to my epic end-of-year post: Shiloh. And honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy New Year everyone! 

And thanks, as always, for reading.

5 Comments

December 30, 2012 · 5:17 pm