Friday, December 17, 2010

The Year of Roddick

Somewhere around mid-November every year, I have the same perennial reflection: Holy freakin Lord, where did the time go? Is it really almost 20XX? Have I even done anything of note this year? What the hell am I doing with my life? Oh god, someone please make the Medicare PSAs STOP. As a side note, have you actually heard the vacuum pump ads? It’s sad, but true. Turns out that the Shop-Vacs for your sack really are a Medicare-covered expense for the treatment of ED. And why is it that we have such a monumental healthcare funding crisis in this country? Hmmm… should we federally subsidize clinical trials that could lead to advances in cancer, ALS, or HIV/AIDS treatment? Or pumps to give perky peckers to the aging, non-procreating populace? Pumps it is. Grandpa needs boners.

As the year draws to a close, I’m reminded of the multiple, missed blog opportunities that have occurred over the past 12 months. So I thought it would be fitting to cram them all in for a few final posts this year, and thus send 2010 off with its tail tucked between its legs. Fittingly, I thought for the first installment I'd venture into the much maligned world of dog-blogging. I would normally rather swim in a sea of excrement than read about someone whose life awkwardly and singularly revolves around animals, but I've read a few shining stars lately that made me reconsider, so here goes...

Russell & Rufus… meet Roddick

What does every new house need? A third dog. (note the sarcasm) March 2010: enter Roddick, the destroyer of all things domestic. You wouldn’t think that anything this suave and adorable could grow up to be so tirelessly mischievous.

But he did. From tearing up carpet, couches, and houseplants, he graduated to chewing plank-like portions off of a bed frame. And he was already past his teething stage at that point. The insane thing is that you could never stay angry at this dog. He is a con artist in every sense of the word. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as Canine Stockholm Syndrome, but he's taken us hostage at home, and we’ve fallen in love with him for it. For all the artistic notoriety, Heath Ledger’s Joker doesn’t hold a flame to the psychological warfare that Roddick can wield. When you find yourself asking, Why do I feel horrible for scolding this dog for shitting repeatedly in the house?, you’ve already lost. He’s got to be the schnauzer version of Keyser Söze or Vito Corleone. My only hope at this point is to avoid crossing a line and wake up one morning next to a severed horse’s head. Also, he's a BEAST. We lucked out that the breeder and his family are amazing people from Houston, TX who love animals. I knew that his parents were both 10 lbs., so naturally we expected him to be 10-12 lbs. At 11 months now, he's 16.2 lbs. (I later asked the breeder how much the milkman weighed.) And not an ounce of it is fat, he's just a stocky little stud.

His antics are a daily occurrence, it seems, and several friends have been privy to them. A couple months ago, Fortunator came home to L-town and decided to stay for the weekend. All of us were unwinding on the couch the morning after a night of drunken karaoke, and in strolls Roddick with a curious object in his mouth.

B: He’s got your bra.

You see, Roddick keeps it classy. I had learned this lesson many times over in prior months, when he began dragging my undergarments from the bathroom to god-knows-where while I was showering. This was the first time though that a guest was the target. Embarrassing as it was to realize that he had clawed his way into the guest room and pilfered through Fortunator’s bag like a nosy maid, his complete nonchalance over the matter was mortifying further. He just sat there with a dopy expression, brazier in mouth, looking at Fortunator as if he was saying, This is yours. Did you lose it? I found it. I brought it to you. Did you need it? Cause I have it now. Do you want it? Here it is. Yes, I was the mother in Wal-Mart with the child who is completely deficient in tact and volume control, blessing others with his observations, LOOK MOM!!!!... SHE HAS SUPER-ABSORBENCY TAMPONS IN HER CART TOO!!!! (I wasn't sure about the feminine hygiene lingo, but that last sentence sounded right. No need to correct me, ladies... I just couldn't bring myself to Google a product for accuracy. I just can't. I am perfectly happy being oblivious.)

Even though I'm not a father, one of the facets of parenthood that I've always heard about or assumed was the joys of watching your child's personality emerge. And before you gag on that Lifetime-worthy sentiment, just know that there seemed like no other appropriate analogy for raising a dog from an early age. Yes, I just compared raising puppies to raising children. Before you grab your torches and pitchforks, I have ROUTINELY observed that this is a habit for young couples wanting to segue into parenthood. Say what you want about the method; maybe there is a huge leap between teaching your dog to shit outside and teaching your child to shit in a toilet (and conversely, teaching your dog to not shit inside and your child to not shit outside). But we have all beheld the teenage, cautionary tales in the checkout aisles of supermarkets. Their despondent countenances scream regret over spitting in the face of human fecundity at such a young age, while their brood socially terrorizes other consumers in sonorous and feral fashion. My point being that nature has given us training wheels for such a huge responsibility, and it's called taking care of domestic animals. Neglect such an opportunity, and you could ironically end up chasing around Mowgli the Wolf-Boy at every social outing.

But back to my original point... This dog has personality in spades. What follows are just a handful of the random eccentricities and quirks that have developed over the last 11 months.

1. Roddick loves Burt's Bees even more than I love Burt's Bees, which I didn't think possible. I do not appreciate the days when he snakes my stash off the nightstand. I have a hard enough time not losing my chapstick or preventing it from going through the wash to have to worry about his thieving ways. Also, $3-4 dollars a pop and the consequent diarrhea seem like a steep price for a "snack." Similarly, he has managed to unzip the work bag to retrieve packs of Orbit gum inside. SEVERAL. TIMES. I guess the upside is that he has abnormally fresh breath.

2. This dog loves being outside like it's a non-renewable resource. Back when he was having multiple accidents in the house, I remembered what a fellow pet-lover told me about attaching bells to the back door. You say your vocal command, grab his paw to touch the bells, open the door to let him outside, and voilà... before you know it, he's letting you know when he needs to go. What I didn't count on was just how effective this would be. To this day, Roddick still rings the bells EVERY 10 GODDAMN MINUTES, not because he has to relieve himself, but because he has thought of yet something else that he wants to do outside. So in my household, the trainer has become the trained. Like an obedient pet, I open the door every time those damn bells ring. It's some sort of twisted, reverse-Pavlovian charade.

3. He crows. Like a rooster. Not really sure why or how, but it's like a sustained bark. And it's usually when he's feeling particularly sassy and mouthy. Thankfully, I don't have to hear it at 5:00 AM.

4. He had a coprophagia phase. I don't know if he was eating only his own or if he was sampling the countless land mines in the backyard. Despite the vet's reassurance that this is relatively common behavior, I just wanted it to stop. Sent home with the aptly titled medication, Copro-Ban, we began spiking his food with it. The logic is a bit fuzzy, but apparently there is something in the roast-beef flavored chews that makes his turds taste bad. And thank god it worked. Otherwise, I would be making the viral video 2 Schnauzers 1 Cup.

5. He appears to be jealous or contemptuous of all things Information Technology. This gels perfectly with my profession, might I add. It seems like every time I sit down with the Mac, he wants to be in my lap. If I don't show him enough attention, paws will be on the screen and keys and he will stretch himself over the MBP in needy toddler manner. The other day, I had my laptop out and my phone blipped when it got a text. As I reached for the EVO, he consummately swatted it out of my hand. Maybe I'm inadvertently giving him daddy issues by not balancing the work/home dichotomy gracefully.

6. Roddick is a grasshopper and cricket afficionado. The house sits north of a huge field, so it's no surprise that the insect kingdom is literally at our doorstep. But this summer, a veritable plague of locust-kin swarmed the yard and porch like the banks of the Nile, so this dovetailed nicely with Roddick's fetish for the great outdoors. What started as a mildly annoying increase in bell ringings quickly transformed me into a powerless border patrol agent, as he began to smuggle his playthings inside like immigrants in a shipping container. Completely unaware, I would walk in on him in the bedroom as he was playfully pinning down his very much alive hostages like Lennie Small's rabbits. It was less Hannibal Lecter and more Steinbeck tragedy.

Even as I'm typing this, Roddick has danced across an end table, sending a DVD case, an iPod, and an OU decoration in flight, while somehow landing on his feet like a cat. Enjoy this highlight reel, as I go clean up another mess...