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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

My Dog Has Fleas… In Her Fricking Brain!

Hey, sweet! My first lost Blogger post of 2004. Man, is it good to get that shit out of the way. I was afraid — though I should have known better — that it would be March or April before I lost another entry, and got all pissed off at Blogger again. I suppose that was naive of me. What can I say — I’m a dreamer. Bleh.

Luckily, I didn’t lose much this time. I had just yammered on for a couple of paragraphs about this new blog contest thingy called Blog Madness 2003, and how I submitted one of my entries, and that you bloggers should check out the contest for yourselves, and that it sounds like it might be fun.

That’s really about as far as I’d gotten. Oh, I threw in a couple of crotch jokes, as usual, and I think I used ‘persimmon’ in a sick, naughty way, but that’s really about it. So it’s not exactly a tragedy that I lost a partial post, but shit, people — I’m getting tired of this crap. If it didn’t almost choke me to think of all the work involved in trying to line up server space and moving my archives and trying to preserve all of your too-cool comments, then I’d give some serious consideration to graduating away from this popsicle stand and into a MovableType pad, or a GrayMatter crib, or something like that. But it seems awfully damned hard, and I’m still sort of sick, so really, I’m just bitching. Some day, maybe I’ll snap and do something crazy, but for now — just bitching, thanks. Nothing but us bitches here. Bitch, bitch, bitch, moan, moan, moan. Meh.

So. On to less poopy pastures, then. I found (yet) another reason not to go home for the holidays. You know, besides the maniacal travel schedule and the suitcase living and repeating the same things to relatives seventeen times a day — ‘Yes, I started a new job.’ ‘Yeah, I really like it.’ ‘Yeah, the commute’s a little tougher.’ ‘Well, what can you do, right, grandma?‘ — and the too-soft beds and the too-hard couches and the probability — nay, certainty — that one of our creepy relatives is gonna have some damned virus that our bodies don’t know how to fight, which means we’re gonna come home miserable, exhausted, achy, coughing, and cranky after a week of ‘vacation’. Yes, apart from all of that, I’ve found another reason to just ship our gifts and lie in bed for a frigging week.

And that reason is this: every year, when we leave our dog in a kennel for the week we’re away, they apparently fuck with her head, leaving us the subtly altered remains to deal with over the next fifty-one weeks. And then, if we finally, miraculously get her ‘reprogrammed’ the way we want her — those bastards go and scramble her ass again, and we’re back to square one.

The worst part is that I forget about this phenomenon every year. Every December, we take her to the kennel — and these are people she knows, mind you; she loves these guys, and spends three or four days a week with them while we’re at work. Then, just before the new year, we get back into town, collect our little puppy, and bring her home. For a day or two, everything’s fine — she’s pretty calm and obedient, ’cause she’s just happy we haven’t thrown away all her bones and blankets and shit.

Then, something happens to tell us that she’s been addled while we were away doing our out-of-town package exchange.

(Jeez, when I say it that way, it sounds like some sort of interstate gay porn, doesn’t it? ‘Out-of-town package exchange‘. Yeesh — yeah, remind me never to say that ever again. The NyQuil’s been giving me creepy enough dreams as it is, without my brain having that to try and visualize.)

Anyway, eventually, the dog does something unexpected. Usually, it’s something simple, like not listening to certain commands as well as before. One year she wouldn’t ‘sit’; the next year, she started ignoring ‘come’. Now, these are not horribly difficult problems to overcome; they’re simple nuisances, really. My wife and I are well-versed in the use of positive reinforcement (read: peanut butter and belly rubs) and negative reinforcement (ass spankings and electrified collars) to induce the behavior we’re looking for. And we figure, hey — if that shit works in the bedroom, it’ll probably bring the dog back into line, too. So we’re okay there.

But sometimes the dog does weird stuff that we simply don’t understand. Last year, in our old apartment, she started hoarding bones in the corners of the living room. Now, I don’t know why the hell she would do this. She’s got a dozen bones or so, and to my knowledge, we’ve never taken one away from her. We’ve stopped giving her so many, of course — we don’t want our living area to be ankle-deep in cow parts — but I don’t think we’ve ever deprived her of any of her toys for any appreciable length of time. So maybe she picked it up at the kennel; maybe the other puppies play ‘Keep Away’ with her bones, or make her the ‘Mutt in the Middle’. Who knows? All I can say is that she came back last year and decided that it would be best if she knew where all her bones were, but we didn’t. She didn’t growl at us, or get defensive, or anything like that — she just started getting sneaky with where her tasty bone stash was hidden.

(Oh, fer chrissakes — ‘tasty bone stash‘… that’s worse than the last one. I had no idea the description of my dog’s fucked-up behavior was gonna be so homoerotic. I’m sure there’s some sort of message in there somewhere that I want no part of. So if you figure out what it is, there, skippy, keep it to yourself. If you somehow managed to decipher the connection between my schizophrenic female dog and steamy gay porn, then you’re worse off than I am. Don’t drag me down into your little world, all right? I’m perfectly comfortable in my own circle of hell, thanks just the same.)

Anyway, I don’t know what the hell got into the dog. I also don’t know why the hell she thought we couldn’t see into corners. You know, being big tall bipeds and all, with the full range of motion and stereo-optic vision. Maybe she just didn’t realize. She’s smart for a dog and all, but really, where does that put her? On par with garden slugs and large cherry pits, more or less. And usually less. I’ve never seen a garden slug step in its own fresh pile of poop, for one thing. I adore my dog and all, but gods love her, she ain’t bright.

In any case, the bones-in-the-corner bit lasted a few days, but the pooch eventually decided that my wife and I were not, in fact, lying in wait to raid her toy cache and steal off to Mexico, and things returned to normal. Which brings us to this year — our first in the new house. My wife picked the puppy up on Tuesday evening; from then until yesterday, things were pretty calm. Then, as we crazy human types do sometimes, last night we went to bed. Silly us.

Somehow, our going to bed triggered something in our slumbering slobbery friend. She’d been lying on her blanket in the living room, snoring away for hours, while we watched TV and napped on the couches. Normally, when we pack it in for the night, the dog will follow us upstairs and either camp out in her crate in our room or on the blanket in the guest bedroom. She likes to stay close, you see — we kooky people do all sorts of bewildering things, and she likes to be around to see all the fun. She’s like a horny photographer backstage at a boobie bar; if there’s action, she’s gonna find it.

But that’s not what happened last night. Last night, my wife and I headed upstairs, and got ready for bed. The dog followed, watching us intently, as usual. But when we actually crawled under the covers and turned out the lights, the mutt didn’t go to bed — she turned about face and trotted out of the room. I thought she’d trundled off to the guest room — nothing odd there; I didn’t even bat an eye. But when I got out of bed a couple of minutes later — I’d forgotten to take my cough medicine, if you really have to know — I decided to check on her, to make sure she wasn’t sleeping on any of the piles of crap we’d just unpacked from our trip. But she wasn’t — in fact, she wasn’t in the room at all.

So, I checked the office. No dog. I called for her, softly — nothing. I went downstairs and checked the living room. Dog gone. I got my wife up, and we went all around the house — the pup was nowhere to be found, anywhere in the house! So I called again, louder this time, and she finally came trotting into the kitchen, fresh from kennel connected to the house via a doggy door. How’s that for odd behavior? ‘It’s bedtime, so I’m gonna walk away from my blankets and sit outside in the cold for no reason.‘ Even for our dog, that’s fucked up, man.

Well, I didn’t know what the hell she was doing out there, but I didn’t see how she could hurt anything, so we went back upstairs, coaxing the dog up with us. I took my medicine, joined my wife in bed… and heard the dog clip-clop out of the room and down the stairs. Listening intently, I could hear her hit the bottom, then turn down the hallway, into the kitchen, and *floomp* — out the doggy door.

Shit. I tried to go to sleep, but it was just too bizarre. Why the hell was she outside? She’d been sleeping for hours in the living room; what changed when we went to bed, and why did she make sure we were safely tucked in before hitting the kennel? It was all just a little too convenient. I wasn’t about to be outplanned by our frigging dog. She has trouble walking up a flight of stairs; I couldn’t bear thinking that she’d pulled a fast one on me.

So, I tried the easy solution. I got up, padded downstairs, called the dog in, and blocked off the doggy door. The previous owners (who installed the door) left us a piece of wood for just that purpose, in order to keep cold air from leaking in. Or, in this case, to keep sneaky dogs from slipping out. Problem solved. The dog and I went back upstairs, and I went back to bed.

And the dog… turned on her heels and trotted down the stairs. Dumb dog. I did a little horizontal shrug — hey, if she wanted to stay down there and stare at the piece of wood all night, that was none of my business — and drifted off toward sleep. Just as I was nodding off: *bam* *bump* *bam* Grrr.

(Sorry, that’s my ‘grrr’, not the dog’s. Just so we’re clear. The noises — hers, clearly coming from downstairs. The growling, pissed off at still being awake — that was me. I hope that’s sorted out now.)

Anyway, something was important enough to our persistent persnickety pooch that she was going to try to burrow through solid wood to get back to it. Or at least make enough noise banging up against solid wood to bring us back down to remove said wood, and give her free passage to… whatever the hell she was after. Bitches. Still, I could probably sleep through the noise, if I really applied myself. And maybe took another couple of hits of NyQuil.

Hmmm. I told myself that she wasn’t hurting anything, and that I should just go to sleep. But I couldn’t — it was all too weird. What was back there that she remembered, even after sleeping her evening away? She hadn’t been out the doggy door for hours when we went to bed — what the hell was calling her back there now? Was there some dead animal in her kennel? Some other dog, or cat, hanging out near the back yard? Had she found a way to get out? I wasn’t gonna get any sleep until I checked it out. Damned dog.

So, I got up, put my contacts in, slipped on some shoes, and my wife and I went down to investigate. Again. I spent the next ten minutes freezing my ass off outside, first seeing what the dog was so goddamned mesmerized by in the kennel (answer: apparently nothing), and then letting the dog out to see what she was so all-fired interested in outside the kennel (answer: fricking nothing), and finally shining a flashlight around to see if there was anything even remotely eyebrow-raising around the kennel (answer: no, not by a damned longshot). My only conclusion was that our dog is a pudding-brained enigmatic pile of fur. Well, that, and that standing outside in the middle of the night in your jammy clothes is not a good way to get over a nasty viral illness. So I went inside, nonplussed and freezy.

Once again, I did the reasonable thing and went to bed, telling myself that the kennel was secure and that the dog could spend all night out there for all it would hurt anything, or for all I could give a damn. And yet, again, I lay awake, wondering, when the dog left us and scampered down the stairs, down the hall, and out that damned doggy door. And I lay there like that for another ten or fifteen minutes, until finally, mercifully, I heard the little bitch’s claws tic-tic-tic their way across the kitchen floor and up the stairs. I’m not sure exactly where she went after that, but it was good enough for me. Somehow, just knowing that our little explorer was back inside the actual house helped me to get to sleep. And this morning, she was in her crate beside the bed as usual, puckered up in her blanket and snoring like a drunken teamster. Same old, same old.

So, honestly, I don’t know what the hell went on last night, or whether it would have happened any differently had we not intervened. It wasn’t a biological emergency, nor a small animal chase, or even a bone hiding mission. It wasn’t much of anything, as far as I can tell. You’d think she was a damned cat or something, being all pointless and arbitrary like that. I don’t know what got into her. Goofy mutt.

But I do know one thing, and there’s no one who’ll convince me otherwise — if we’d never left for Christmas break, she’d have never done this crazy shit, and I’d have gotten at least an extra half-hour’s worth of sleep last night. And probably more than that, because I wouldn’t have been sick, either, and wouldn’t have been woken up every hour or so by my ever-shifting waves of phlegm. All of which is just one more reason why ‘holiday week’ is no damned picnic.

So that’s the story. And now, I’m off to bed tonight. I’m tired, still coughing, and I need my rest, so I’m keeping the dog upstairs with us at all costs. I’ll bungee-cord the bitch into her blanket if I have to, and hang her in the closet till morning. Maybe not the most comfortable sleeping arrangement for her, but she’ll be warm and secure, and I’ll get some damned shuteye. So the puppy’d better hope I don’t catch her slipping out of her crate when I go upstairs, or it’s the ol’ blanket dog job in the closet for her.

Aw, dammit! A ‘blanket dog job in the closet’? Shit, I said I was gonna stop that, didn’t I? Screw it; I’m off to bed. I’m taking the dog upstairs with me, and I don’t want any more trouble. If she takes off, I’ll just finish off the NyQuil and sleep through the whole mess. Bottoms up, and good night!

Permalink  |  3 Comments

3 Responses to “My Dog Has Fleas… In Her Fricking Brain!”

  1. Jeff A says:

    hehe, probably communicating with the neighbors dog about the immenent take over!

    Anyway, do what I do use wordpad or notepad to type out your post then copy paste it into the blogger, that way if it loses it you just copy paste again.

    That wasn’t my idea by the way, my dog told me about it awhile back when blogger kept pooping out my posts! She also made me go to movable type!

  2. Riri says:

    Oh, Blogger, my favorite editor (grrrr)! I think I’ve pulled out my hair for days trying to understand the misterious dissappearance of posts with Blogger, or finding the secret spot where they get posted after publishing…. I gave up and now I use w.bloggar. Unfortunatley it’s only available for Wintrash, but it will do for now.

    Happy New Year! (did I already say that?)

  3. jay says:

    the move to movabletype isnt that bad. i had asked someone to do it for me, then got pissed off and did it myself. there are even hosting sites supposedly specifically for blogs. i use verve and it was damned easy. and you can import comments.

    come on, make the switch…youre way too good for a blogspot addy!!

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