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Monday, May 02, 2005

Three Dog FortNight

I haven’t made a big fuss about it beyond a few passing references… but my parents have been visiting with us for the past two weeks. They arrived bearing gifts … and two dogs.

It would have never occurred to us to suggest that my parents leave their dogs at home. For a stay of almost a month it would have cost them a small fortune to board their dogs in a reputable Connecticut kennel. So, everyone was on the same page, as it were, when my parents booked their airline travel for themselves… as well as their dogs.

Don’t get me wrong here, we are ‘dog people’ of the first order, and our own black Labrador mix (Jordan) is on nearly equal footing with our children for our affection, not to mention sleeping accommodations.

But three dogs in the house for the past two weeks has presented certain, um, challenges.

To help you get a better sense of the menagerie, let me tell you a bit about each animal:

Jordan (our dog) is a medium sized dog of mixed ancestry who most closely resembles a black Lab. She spent the first two years of her life as a companion dog to an elderly woman with Huntington’s disease, and came to us when this woman needed to be admitted to a nursing home. Almost nothing bothers Jordan. The baby can climb on her… hug her… pull her tail… or even try to hitch a ride on her back, and she takes it all in stride. Quite simply, if she had opposable thumbs I honestly believe she would clean up her own sh*t!

Humphrey (my parent’s little dog) is a Border Terrier. He is a sweet dog, but always seems to have a low-voltage electrical current running just under the surface of his skin. He constantly explores and paces and digs. He seems to have been bred to dig holes and escape from well-fenced yards because these have been his nearly full-time endeavors since arriving.

Adelaide (my parent’s big dog) is a large shepherd mix who is, unfortunately, a bundle of neuroses. She was a rescue dog who had been both abused and neglected as a young animal. As a result, she feasts on any tiny shred of affection she is shown, and slinks around, seemingly expecting the worst from everyone she meets. If you show Adelaide even the smallest kindness she will attach herself to you forever. Picture the neediest person you have even know… now multiply that by a factor of 10! No amount of petting is ever enough… and a heavy paw will constantly remind you that you have inexplicably stopped paying attention to her.

Of coure, all of the dogs (ours included) have little idiosyncrasies:

Humphrey is a loud, irrational barker. He will bark at anything. A car driving past… a cat walking outside… a person turning over in their sleep… a cloud passing over the moon… any of these are sufficient reason to send Humphrey into the barking equivalent of the drum solo in the extended version of Inagodadavida*.

Adelaide is a howler AND a gifter. For the sake of clarity I’ll separate and define these two things: Lets say Adelaide hasn’t seen you in five or ten minutes while you’ve been in the kitchen getting something to drink. When you re-enter the room all 90+ pounds of Adelaide will charge across the room and stand baying up into your face like the Hound of the Baskervilles. If you aren’t expecting it, this unique greeting can shave years off your life. It will also wake the dead, not to mention anyone who is simply sleeping at the time. Adelaide is also a conscientious gifter. By this I mean that no one can enter the house without being presented with a gift. Shoes are the most common gift in her arsenal… but it is not uncommon to be presented with slimy toys, dolls, clothing or even couch pillows when you walk through the front door. Once the gift has been passed over, the abovementioned howling and baying ensues. The only way to stop the ear-splitting din is to drop everything and give her your undivided attention.

Yesterday we saw my parents off to a hotel/spa near Haifa for a few days.

Bringing the dogs along with them was not an option since the place doesn’t even allow cell phones. So for the next few days we are providing around-the-clock dog therapy to two dogs that think their owners have abandoned them… as well as our own dog who is feeling jealous over having to share our affection.

When my parents get back from the north, I’m going to suggest that perhaps it’s our turn to go to a spa.

* A song by Iron Butterfly with a great drum solo... oh never mind.  If you didn't catch the reference, nothing I tell you here will help.  :-)

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Posted by David Bogner on May 2, 2005 | Permalink

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Dave, I laughed out loud reading the description of Humphrey 'a cloud passing over the moon'....
And Addie's, too!
Great post!

Posted by: val | May 2, 2005 1:20:54 PM

Oh, is it a "new age" spa of some kinds? Friends spent their belated honeymoon there and said it's one of the best [b/c it is so freakingly calm!] places in Israel they've been to. Imagine two young and successful Israelis having to give up their cell phones for an entire week...what a trauma.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | May 2, 2005 2:00:42 PM

Val... I could have gone on for another three pages but I decided to spare the readers.

mademoiselle a. ... As you probably guessed, they are at the Carmel Forest Spa. It is indeed supposed to be very relaxing.

Posted by: David | May 2, 2005 2:43:46 PM

Very funny. I think all three dogs should play extensively with Feral Cheryl. Also, if you can figure out a way to have them annoy your neighbors, make it so.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | May 2, 2005 4:23:13 PM

Didn't Three Dog Night's famous "Jeremiah was a bullfrog, he was a good friend of mine..." also feature the lyrics: "Joy to the world, all the boys and girls..."

Okay, so the dogs do bring their own kind of joy to the world, don't they?

(Oh ya, and I certainly remember that Iron Butterfly song -- I loved it, even though I was about eight years old at the time. That song is about 35 years old. We were visiting family in Mexico City, and my cousin kept playing the RECORD over and over and over...)

Posted by: Pearl | May 2, 2005 4:44:05 PM

You ought to bring the dogs to work. I bet that not only would they spread happiness and good cheer, but they might even enjoy a bowl of soup, Er, gravy. ;)

How about that Curt Schilling.

Posted by: Jack | May 2, 2005 5:37:36 PM

You are a good son. How's Turdistan looking?

Posted by: alice | May 2, 2005 6:50:00 PM

Sounds like so much fun! I wish I could be there... then leave after 15 minutes. :)

Posted by: Avi | May 2, 2005 7:15:12 PM

Doctor Bean... What a great idea! SInce nobody stepped up and asked for the Feral Cheryl doll, maybe I can give it to the dogs as a chew toy!

Pearl... Didn't they warn you about those flashbacks during those D.A.R.E. lectures? :-)

Jack... I had to get security clearence to bring my family to see my office... You really think the dogs will get past the armed guards? :-)

Alice... Turdistan is a minefield. I wouldn't go out there if my life depended on it!

Avi... Very cute. Here's a roll of paper towels and a plastic bag... West Turdistan is that way [points]... go get 'em! 15 minutes should be just about enough time to finish up.

Posted by: David | May 2, 2005 10:44:35 PM

voila, yes, that's the hotel! no. spa. spa!

on a second note, will you take the time and teach the dogs tricks? i fancy a pyramid, fetching your slippers [may take a few pairs] and the newspaper [so you read your news on a palm? might want to restock on palms, then], and crooning along to 'autumn leaves' [trombone version].

as a last humble request, will we get to see these events in next friday's photo friday? will we? will we? :)

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | May 2, 2005 11:23:13 PM

I have to say I really enjoyed reading your post.
I personally don't own any pets but I think dogs are great.
I just find it interesting that you
stated that the dogs are on "nearly equal
footing with our children for our affection,
not to mention sleeping accommodations."
Perhaps that was meant somewhat in jest or
was it? I know some people think of thier
pets as people. Rememberthe major difference
with pets and people:
Pets have a nefesh, people have a neshoma...
big difference if you ask me...but that's just me.

Posted by: shloimy | May 3, 2005 1:22:05 AM

I don't know what half of that comment means, but I have the distinct feeling that it was way too serious for this entry.

"This unique greeting can shave years off your life" was the line that got me. Excellent, hilarious post.

Posted by: Tanya | May 3, 2005 1:43:08 AM

Well that post put a smile on my face! I'm in love with Adelaide. Grin, all I can say is to wish you a howling good time with your parents.

Posted by: katie-yael | May 3, 2005 2:10:02 AM

sorry, me again. sometimes jokes, or comments, are over my head. what did you mean by "D.A.R.E. lectures" in your response to my comment? thanks.

Posted by: Pearl | May 3, 2005 2:11:30 AM

yeah, the clouds passing over the moon--genious.

Posted by: Tonny | May 3, 2005 7:04:44 AM

You really think the dogs will get past the armed guards? :-)

I'll have Old Doc Bean write up a scrip for you. It'll be easy. ;) Besides who doesn't love a good dog or two or three.

Posted by: Jack | May 3, 2005 7:18:14 AM

mademoiselle a. ... First of all, how did you know I serenaded my bride with Autumn leaves (as well as September Song) at our wedding? Either I once told you (and have since forgotten the telling) or you have scary woman's intuition! No promises on the tricks... but I'll see what I can work out for the photo Friday request. :-)

Shloimy... Lighten up my friend! Being a non-dog person I don't expect you to grasp the unique bond that develops between a family and its dog(s). But please don't theorize about who has a soul and who doesn't. Whenever someone in the family is sick, Jordan somehow knows it and refuses to leave that person alone. She is the embodiment of unconditional love... we could all learn a few lessons about how to treat people from such a 'pet'. Yes, Jordan is a member of the family and often sleeps with one or the other of the big kids. She gets the first piece of Challah at the Shabbat table (because of the commandment to feed one's animals before feeding yourself), and if anyone ever intentionally caused Jordan harm, my reaction would be just as swift (and probably deadly) as if they had attacked my children. Suffice it to say that you don't want to attempt a rational discussion about a dog's place in the food chain with someone who loves one. :-)

Tanya... Yes, a bit heavy... but you have to understand the tendency of religious Jews to try to place everything into context. Shloimy was just doing what I have done on many occasions... he was taking something with which he has limited (or no) experience and trying to understand it through a body of knowledge and scholarship with which he is familiar. The result sometimes comes off sounding judgemental (especially in a written forum), but in real life would probably be just the introduction to a rather interesting philosophical discussion. Just because you and I have looked into our dog's eyes and seen 'proof' that they have a soul is a hard thing to prove to someone who doesn't share our experiences. Oh... and for the record, the line you quoted (along with the one before it) was the one that had me giggling as I wrote it.

katie-Yael... Thanks, then my work here is done! :-) Based on mademoiselle a.'s request, you may end up 'meeting' Adelaide this Friday.

Pearl... No problem. My humor can sometimes be a little inaccessible (even to people that know and love me). D.A.R.E. is a program sponsored by the police that sends narcotics officers to schools in order to lecture kids about the dangers of drug use. Reading your comment where you were waxing nostalgic over a song that was associated with a period of, um, prodigious recreational use of hallucinogens, I simply tried to make a funny abbot a possible connection. See? Not really worth the explanation, was it? :-)

Tonny... No... misspelling the word 'genius', now that's genius! ;-) Don't worry, I know why you spelled it that way. A certain former Fairfield resident whose AIM screen name contains that misspelling had me unconsciously spelling it that way for a while as well. Also, if you have done any reading here you will see that I am the last person who can seriously poke fun at someone with poor spelling skills.

Jack... Why would I bother Doc Bean for something that would probably require one of those triplicate scrip forms when I can find anything I might want an hour away in any Tel Aviv night club? :-)

Posted by: David | May 3, 2005 9:04:39 AM

Great to see you posting again! Please, would you post some pooch pictures? I'd love to see the dogs.

Please give them all some extra skritches from me, especially Jordan, who seems to be having a bit of a hard time sharing her home and people.

Oh, and please say hi to the bees for me too!

Posted by: Rahel | May 3, 2005 2:59:36 PM

Rahel... Regards delivered all around. By the way... thanks for the food tip (and happy birthday!!!)

Posted by: David | May 4, 2005 9:36:27 AM

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