Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving: Bea and the 8th Graders

The last few weeks have been insanely busy. With the pending opening of my new comedy club, I've barely had time to eat, let alone blog. Sara has been great, pitching in to walk Bea as much as possible. I try to go whenever I can - it's nice to be out as a family, especially before the weather drops down to New York's "I hate it here" temperatures.

Today the world slows down for Thanksgiving (at least the American world) - so I actually have time to post. I also had time to spend a half hour in the dog park with Sara and Bea. The energy there was great. The owners weren't stressed about work, there were no walkers letting 80 dogs run free, and it's 50 degrees and sunny in late November. Whatever the reason, Bea was in a fantastic mood.

There was a big dog that was incredibly playful in the park, who after several play bows, finally got Bea to chase her. It's so rare to see Bea play with a dog other than Leah, so we let it go on as long as we could.

The play finally stopped when another big dog came into the park. A beautiful white dog we've seen a number of times named Apricot (though her owner calls her "Ay-pricot) immediately took the focus of Bea's playmate. The two big dogs rolled around together and chased each other, and Bea hilariously tried to get in on the fun. Bea barked incessantly as the two ignored her completely. She ran around behind them a lot, but they didn't show any interest. To them, she is half a dog.

It was like watching a 4th grader trying to play hopscotch with the 8th grade girls. Actually, it was like watching a 4th grader trying to play hopscotch with the 8th grade girls who are smoking instead of playing hopscotch.

Even though her game ended early, it is rare for us to see displays like today, and we love it. Bea came home tired and happy, wagging so much her butt was out of control. We've now had her about 6 months - and while I know she's got to be thankful for her new life, she's still just coming out of her shell.

We wish we could bring her with us when we go to my brother's for dinner tonight - I'm sure his kids would love that. My brother's carpet, however, would not. Too bad - it'd be the perfect cap to a great day.

Maybe I will just sneak Bea some turkey.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Getting Peed On

We were in the dog park with a woman who wasn't paying attention to anything but her cell phone. Her large dog was jumping up on us, stalking Bea, and being a general nuisance and she didn't care. I imagine she'd be the same parent who would let her kid destroy a Walmart because she's entranced by a sale on conditioner.

But an amazing thing happened. Another big dog came in and lifted its leg to pee. Right then, the annoying dog put its head right under the peeing dog's leg, and got covered.

You might call it gross - I call it justice.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Curb Your Attitude

I wrote the following about Long Island City, otherwise known as LIC.

There was a recent piece of graffiti that said “dog owners are ruining LIC.” Because sweeping generalizations, divisiveness, and graffiti are clearly positive forces. I’m surprised it wasn’t smeared when the writer tripped over their own irony.

Painting every dog owner as a negative influence is irresponsible; the vast majority of dog owners are people who just enjoy caring for a living thing that loves them unconditionally. Having a dog is like having a kid who doesn’t grow up to hate you.

I didn’t like dogs for the first 31 years of my life. But I fell in love with a dog person, and she educated me to understand that there aren’t bad dogs, just bad owners. It makes sense – every time a little boy shrieks on an airplane and his parents do nothing, it’s not the kid that I want choked with a seatbelt extension.

Is this neighborhood filled with bad owners? Since I wasn’t a dog owner until recently, I can see the issue from both sides. Some dog owners are over enthusiastic, treating their dogs like they’re more important than any human being. Some dog owners are under enthusiastic, not policing their dogs’ bad behavior. But is that enough to “ruin LIC”?

I doubt it – since my dog is actually the reason I love it here so much.

My time in LIC was supposed to have an expiration date. My wife and I moved here to save up for a bigger place in Manhattan, since most Manhattan realtors define a two-bedroom apartment as a studio with a bathroom. A three-bedroom is a studio with a bathroom that has a tub.

For the first six months we lived here, we were focused on leaving. We didn’t meet any neighbors, we ate most meals in Manhattan, and we kept to ourselves like we had nuclear launch codes. For six months, we didn’t live in Long Island City – we just slept here.

Things suddenly changed when we adopted our dog, an adorable Beagle/Dachshund mix we re-named Bea Arthur.



Who wouldn't love living here with a dog?


Because we needed to walk Bea, we met our neighbors. Because we had to be home to train Bea out of separation anxiety, we discovered LIC’s restaurants. Because we wanted some outdoor space for Bea, we moved from a high rise at the distant northwest corner of the neighborhood to a brownstone in the heart of Vernon. I love my dog, but I love her more because she gave me Long Island City. She loves Long Island City, too – I know that because she’s comfortable pooping all over it.

Maybe poop is the problem. Irresponsible, selfish people who aren’t conscientious about cleaning up after their dogs can ruin things for everyone. But irresponsible, selfish people are the reason there’s often food garbage on the Vernon Mall and why that yellow hummer is STILL parked in two spots in the Rockrose garage. If you judge an entire group by its weakest members, then every one of us is “ruining LIC” in some capacity. Saying “dog owners are ruining LIC” is based in as much fact as saying “people who cut their sandwiches in triangles are ruining LIC.”

I’ve moved around a lot. I’ve lived in six neighborhoods in Queens, five neighborhoods in Manhattan, one in Jersey, and two each in Boston and LA. I’ve moved around so much, I feel like AC Slater’s backstory before he got to Bayside.

This is the sixteenth neighborhood I’ve lived in, but thanks to Bea Arthur, it’s the first one that I actually feel a part of. Having a dog showed me that Long Island City is a wonderful place with a healthy diversity that doesn’t often exist outside of a college brochure. Even if I wasn’t a dog owner, I would hate to see them removed from that diversity. And not just because dog owners also own more than half of the neighborhood retail.

If you still think “dog owners are ruining LIC,” picture a grown man yelling “Bea Arthur, stop sniffing that dog’s butt!” If that doesn’t make you enjoy life a little more, nothing will.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bea Tries a King Bed

Normally, Bea either sleeps next to our bed on a make shift mattress made from a folded quilt cover, or she sleeps on our couch. Which can be pretty adorable sometimes.



Is this the cutest thing you've ever seen?


We do not let Bea in our bed - it's both to prevent her from being spoiled as well as necessitated by us not having the room, even for a 20 pound little thing like Bea.

Our bed at home is a full one - the downside of a New York apartment is that we have just enough room for me, my wife, Bea, and three shirts. We've debated getting a king bed and just sacrificing the floor space in the bedroom, but that may not work.

"This is our bedroom. It's where we keep our bed and our hopes for a bigger apartment."

By the way, why do mattresses cost several thousand dollars? They're not made of any expensive materials and EVERYONE has one. There's no need for tech support or maintenance either; mattress should never cost ten times the price of an iPod. I'm guessing it's because there's no market for a used mattress. Or maybe there is one and its disgusting.

We're on the road in Boston this weekend, so we decided to let Bea in the hotel bed. It's like a vacation for her, so a bit of spoiling is okay. Letting her on the bed also prevented her from pacing around the room since she gets freaked out by new places.

Yes, it's not super easy to sleep with her there (even when she's happy, her wagging tail whapping the bed is not quiet). But it is super cute.

There are a few wonderful lasting effects of the cuteness - especially when we document them. So I guess we'll be getting a king bed soon.



Bea hanging out with daddy.




THIS is the cutest thing you've ever seen.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Are you freaking kidding me?

For the second time in a week, I stepped in dog crap at the new dog park. My fault for being in a dog park at night.

The park is made entirely of gravel, so it's supper easy to clean up poop. And yet some of my neighbors are still lazy (or do it on purpose because they find my stepping in it hilarious).

Either way, I'm glad my new apartment has outdoor space. I'm especially glad that space comes with a hose.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Unfortunate Choice of Words

Sara and I are trying to teach Bea recall, so we took her to the dog park and took turns saying, "Bea! Come!" Which was fine, until she didn't move. So I yelled it a few times, quickly. And then I realized I was in public yelling "Bee cum!"

Oops.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bea’s First Sleepover

Our friends went out of town for the holiday, and asked us to watch their dog, Leah. Leah (if you don’t recall – or even if you do), is Bea’s best friend (and on again off again lesbian lover). Leah is the only dog that gets Bea to play, which usually involves some chasing, some rolling around, and some mounting. “On again off again” also describes their typical afternoon together.




Oh baby! That's the stuff.


This weekend, Leah did two things for us. One, allowed our dog to act like a dog. Two, reminded us how lucky we are.

Leah is adorable – she always wants to play, and her “sit” is one of the cutest I’ve seen. She can be a handful; she’s almost 2, and clearly has the energy of a puppy (maybe several puppies?) Sara and I are pretty sedentary people, so having an excited dog would be difficult for us. But the thing about Leah that makes us really value Bea is Leah’s bowel control.

I have gotten annoyed by Bea’s finicky nature when it comes to where to poop and when. I am NOT looking forward to the long walks in cold weather while she decides on the perfect patch of grass. But Leah is the opposite. She will poop or pee anywhere. The middle of the street, on someone’s front steps – even in our bedroom (thank god for hardwood floors). And that’s something I just couldn’t deal with long term.

I understand that Leah is nervous to be away from her owners, and that doesn’t help. You can’t explain to a dog that its owners will return in a few days – each time the owners go away, there’s a part of the dog that assumes they’ll never be back.

But she also just pees and poops an awful lot, regardless of where her owners are, and that’s part of her personality. What Leah really showed us this weekend is that all dogs have their issues. Maybe your dog is food aggressive or barks each morning or is terrified of socks. Every person has their idiosyncrasies, and so do our dogs.

And while we’d love for Bea to be willing to chase a ball, friendlier when she meets other dogs, and not terrified of delivery men, all told she is a wonderful dog.

People often tell us that Bea is lucky we adopted her. So are we.




The girls playing together.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Brief Thought About Poop And Homeless People

As I put a poop bag in the garbage, I realized that there's got to be poop in every garbage in my neighborhood, constantly. There are a ton of dogs here, and not too many garbage cans - so at any given point, every garbage can has a few bags of poop in it.

This wouldn't be a big deal, except this is NYC, so homeless people often root through garbage cans to find recycling to turn in for money. While there aren't many homeless people in this hood, I'm guessing the ones that are around are pretty pissed at all the poop they find.

Just a fleeting thought. Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Vernon Blvd Dog Run

I am super excited, because the dog run by my apartment is finally getting renovated. I recently moved to the uber up-and-coming Vernon Blvd; it’s only a few blocks from my old place, but I’m right in the heart of things now (and half a block from our neighborhood dog run). Next to the dog run, there has been an empty field full of weeds – a surprising thing to have right off the most expensive real estate in the area. Actually, so is a dog run.

Turns out that things are empty because it’s impossible to build on that block. The remnants of old train tunnels prevent any developer from building anything heavy – you know, like a building. Instead, the block is lined with a park, basketball courts, tennis courts, and a crappy, tiny dog run.

The park and courts are kept in immaculate condition, rare for anything in New York City. But the dog run is, well, run down. Holes in the fence, uneven dirt, hardly any shade, and not very much space makes the run a difficult place to take a dog.

But due to some tireless efforts from a few community dog lovers, New York City is expanding the run to the empty field next to it, and adding a separate run for small dogs, shade structures, and water. The run will be closed for the next two weeks while they spruce it up, but it will be well worth the wait.

I will be benefiting from the actions of a few of my neighbors. It makes me want to get involved next time something like this happens – but mainly I’m writing about it so other dog lovers can see the change that is possible in their own communities if they need something done.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Get Your Kids’ Hands Out Of My Dog’s Face

When we met with a behaviorist about training Bea, she said that the toughest thing to deal with as a dog owner is the general public. She’s right, but I wouldn’t have put it as nice. I’d have said, “Don’t forget that the majority of people you will meet are idiots.”

Bea is a cute dog. She is friendly without jumping on anyone, small without being strangely freakish, and well behaved without being a robot. Part of why we adopted Bea is because the very act of looking at her melted us. As I’ve said before, her puppy-like features mixed with adult behavior make her very easy to love.

It’s because of this that walking her is often an obstacle course. She is still a very scared dog, as any dog who spent 6 years in a shelter has a right to be. She deals with strangers coming up and petting her pretty well – though her lip licking and tail downward show us that she’s nervous at best. She’s like a constant high school freshman: trying to project an air of confidence while obviously worrying if things are going to be okay.

There have been adults who have handled Bea in a dumb way – including one woman who insisted on standing over her and talking to her like she was a baby. I don’t always understand my dog, but at that moment I believe Bea and I were thinking the same thing.

The worst is when the behavior comes from kids. A parent needs to be responsible for their child’s behavior, so when a child hits Bea in the face, it is the same as the parent hitting Bea in the face. And yes, that’s happened several times. The kids are just trying to pet Bea, but young children don’t always have the hand-eye coordination necessary to gently touch a moving target. I imagine this is what George felt like in “Of Mice and Men.”

And the parents don’t always ask if Bea is friendly before they let their kids have at it. What would happen if a kid hit Bea in the face and Bea bit her? No court would see that as self-defense, and neither would many parents. Especially those who just let their kids swat at everything they think is cute.

“Do you want to pet the dog?” should NOT be the first question the parent asks. “Is she friendly?” and perhaps “is it okay to pet her?” addressed to me, should come first. Hey, I wouldn’t want their kid petting me without the parent asking first. Or at all – that’s a bit creepy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bea Arthur Likes to Look at Real Estate

On our hurricane forced trip to Cleveland, we learned something new about Bea. She LOVES sticking her head out the car window. While I've seen dogs do this for years, I'd never driven with a cute little dog head in my rear view before. It's amazingly adorable. Unfortunately, I'll never be able to get this on video, or we'll all die in a fiery crash.

At first we'd open the window a bit, afraid that Bea might jump out. Even now, we're still a little afraid she might fall out when we open it all the way (balance is not Bea's strong suit). So we make sure to hold her leash just in case she starts slipping, and we let her put her wind-blown little head out the window. It's gotten to the point now where she even lowers the window herself. Probably just her accidentally standing on the button, but that would be a hell of a trick for her to learn.

She doesn't do it all the time (and certainly can't do it soon when the weather will be too cold) but we notice she does it every time we drive by expensive houses. Clearly Bea is a dreamer, just like us.

It'd make a nice Disney movie - a dog from a shelter in Puerto Rico moves to an apartment in NYC, and eventually to a mansion in the suburbs. Okay, so that would be an awful movie. But I bet Disney would still make it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bea Arthur Needs to Learn Portion Control

Monday was our first big test of the new pet-cam. We finally went to see Harry Potter (spoiler alert, he wins) and so we left Bea home. As we now say, it was an opportunity to succeed. And Bea did, sort of.

On the way to the movie, Sara pulled out my laptop to check on Bea. Bea was fine - just walking around a bit, playing with her treat ball, and smelling the bag of treats that we left on the file cabinet near the couch (which we wouldn't have, had we thought about it).

We were able to relax and watch the movie, knowing everything at home was copacetic. The movie was a surreal experience, since the same theater was hosting the red carpet premiere of "I Don't Know How She Does It," a movie co-starring Olivia Munn, about Olivia Munn getting roles in Hollywood. Kidding - I don't know or care what the movie is actually about.

But there were photographers everywhere, and we actually broke through the red carpet to go see our movie. We could have walked the red carpet if we wanted to. I've done it twice before, but those were events I was invited to. This one, not so much. "I'm wearing a great designer. His name is Lucky Brand."

Sara and I have a running joke about Sarah Jessica Parker being a foot - it was from a line on Family Guy that was mean, but hilarious. So we said that a whole bunch of times while waiting for the movie to start. I actually once told Sarah Jessica Parker that she looked like Sarah Jessica Parker. That's another story for another time.

After the movie, we turned the Bea cam on and were horrified. Bea was nowhere to be found, the couch looked messed up, and the treat bag was on the floor, clearly eaten. Oops.

We raced home, and the ride felt like it took hours. Bea was fine - and so was the couch (a pillow was just knocked over, and the angle made it look worse). But she did eat the entire bag of treats. That's a whole lot of chicken for one little dog. Formerly little dog.

We walked our little fatty, and made sure to not leave treats within her reach again. But I don't blame her. If someone left a whole cheesecake next to me, they would return to find an empty cheesecake box and a fat redhead.

Bea did much better today - nothing eaten or destroyed. We also changed the angle on the camera so we can see way more. Just in case she finds more chicken.



There's our little fatty, sleeping it off.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bea TV - All Bea, All the Time

Gating Bea does not work. Twice now she's broken out, probably because our gate is a piece of garbage. But also because she likes the living room, and that's not where we gate her. Both times she's broken out, she didn't cause much damage - once she chewed an old ethernet cable, and once she did nothing. Which is about the same value of damage as chewing an old ethernet cable.

Saturday we needed to do some shopping for the new apartment, so we decided to leave her home ungated. It was an experiment that could cost us everything we owned, but could also produce a cheaper, easier solution than gating and day care. We'd be gone two hours, so Bea would really only have time to destroy half the stuff we owned. Just in case, I put my laptop in the bedroom and closed the door.

That was kind of stupid, since we had just hooked up a webcam to spy on Bea - and now we had no way to see it. Yup - we now have a Bea TV channel - we can check in whenever we want, provided we have internet access and a computer (the camera isn't compatible with smart phones). It would actually be pretty easy to disguise the camera in a household object and do some real spying, but for now we will just watch our dog.



This would be a very slow news day on Perez Hilton.


The shopping experience was awful - we went to Target in Brooklyn, forgetting that this was back to school weekend, and every human being who ever produced a more annoying version of themselves would be there. It was a free for all, which was made worse since it's in downtown Brooklyn. Brooklyn has the population density of a prison colony, and the people shopping at Target that day had the same education level. And then add in the aimlessly wandering hipsters - I've never seen so many people try so hard to come off like they're not trying hard.

We were tired, hungry, frustrated, and worried about Bea - it would have been great to have a computer so we could check on her. But when we got home, it turned out that she did just fine. Nothing damaged - hell, nothing touched. Sara is more of a worrier than I am, but when she's worried, I'm worried. Thankfully, this may give us the confidence to realize that every challenge Bea has is one more opportunity to succeed.

Oh, and I am NEVER going back to that Target.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bea's Big Move

We got back from the hurricane safe, since there was no real hurricane. But first Binghamton lost power, so we drove further west to make a gig I had outside of Cleveland. I admit I REALLY enjoy having Bea with me at the shows. The students love her, and there are few things cuter than Bea walking around on stage. One of these days, I'm going to do a show with her on stage with me.

A few days after we got back, we moved. We're still in the same neighborhood, just a few blocks down - which is probably confusing for Bea. She keeps trying to walk back to our old apartment. I'm also convinced that she doesn't like me anymore. With good reason - her last few days have been spent in an unfamiliar place, stuck in clutter, trapped indoors due to the rain. There was finally some sun today, so she's been a bit happier. She'll be facing her first winter soon - I hope she doesn't freak out. I also hope she doesn't need a coat that makes her look so stupid that it makes us look stupid, too.

The great thing about the new place is that there's outdoor space. We have a porch that's a few hundred square feet, so we're figuring out what to get re: potty patches, pee pads, etc. If we can train her to go on our deck, that'd be wonderful - especially for rainy days. Its still 65 out and I'm already dreading the bad weather walks.

And I had an incident yesterday that reminds me why people who don't understand dogs should keep their mouths shut. Dogs need to walk because if they don't, they'll crap all over your house. While I was walking Bea in the rain, she got a bit stubborn and refused to keep walking. A woman I have never met (nor cared to meet) noticed this and said "I don't blame her. I'd have done the same thing!" So what she was saying is "When faced with a drizzle, I would rather defecate in my own living room." Hey, whatever floats your poop covered boat.

stupid woman.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Remember that time we drove with poop in the car?

Bea took a while to get used to our hotel, and I don't blame her. Our room is small and musty and smells like it may have been a smoking room in the past. You can never really get the smell of a smoke out of curtains. It's a similar problem for motel rooms that used to have dead hookers in them. I'm assuming.

The double beds are twins and a half at best, and the decor was clearly chosen by someone who loves both Christmas and 1987. All that and the room is somehow $120 per night - way too much for the Discomfort Inn. But how do we complain? It's one of the few pet friendly hotels in Binghamton and every hotel within a few hours of the hurricane zone is packed. I would have loved to stay in a king bed at the Sheraton, but not as much as I love my dog. And I didn't just write that because Bea is reading this over my shoulder.

Sara is still recovering from her surgery and isn't comfortable unless she sleeps in a forest of pillows, so I was left with the half a twin side of the double. I woke up early despite my luxurious two feet of lumpy bed. Also Bea paced a decent amount overnight, but thankfully most of the sound was muted by the hooker-bloodstain-soaked carpet. I'm assuming.

The great thing about this part of the country (or any part outside of a major city) is the space. The grass behind the hotel is larger than any park in our neighborhood. I'm sure that Bea would enjoy living up here - for the 6 weeks out of the year that the weather is nice.

After a surprisingly decent continental breakfast, we took Bea to a local groomer. It was $22 for a full grooming, much better than our usual $48. Plus the place offers a 10% discount for rescues. What a wonderful way to give back to the community while simultaneously reminding people who buy their dogs that they are selfish assholes.

The groomer gave Bea a red handkerchief - much less wussy than the pink atrocity our groomer usually uses. Even better, the groomer's neighborhood was having a street fair. A Binghamton street fair is very different than a New York City street fair. In New York City, street fairs have funnel cake, hipster t-shirts, and unique jewelry. In Binghamton, a street fair has plus sized paisley blouses and used novels by Robert Ludlum. It was still fun to walk around and watch all the old ladies fawn over Bea and her snazzy handkerchief. It's a wonderful thing to have a 6 year-old dog that still looks like a puppy. Bea has all of the cuteness of a puppy without the hyperactivity. Though this eternal baby-ness is cute in a dog, I imagine it would be creepy in a human.

There was a moment in the car that Bea wasn't quite as cute. You know how humans sometimes fart and it doesn't smell? Yeah, that doesn't happen with dogs. Bea's farts are disgusting, and she ripped one in the car. I think it was on purpose - she loves when I put the windows down and I hadn't yet - but believe me, the windows went down QUICKLY. If you're ever stuck with a driver that refuses to lower the windows, fart. It's a solid strategy.

After we got the smell out of our noses enough to enjoy a delicious lunch of spiedies (if you are ever in Binghamton, oh my god, get a spiedie), we went to a pretty rural park to let Bea roam off leash. It was a rare experience for a city dog, and it was an incredibly pleasant day. That all changed when, as they say, shit happened.



We had no idea what was coming.


Maybe it was the long ride to an unfamiliar place. More likely it was the gas station hot dog. Whatever the reason, Bea created something orange, liquid, and unholy. I'm guessing most people would have left it there to fertilize the park. Being the city dog owners that we are, we scooped the poop, tied up the bag, and looked for a garbage can. In a park full of signs cautioning against litter, they might want to add a freaking garbage can.

It would have been okay to just leave the poop - but once you bag it, you can no longer blame it on a wild animal. The park had no garbage cans, and neither did the next 5 miles of road. 5 miles. We drove for 10 minutes with the windows down until we finally found a dumpster. It was so bad that we were wishing for the bygone days of Bea's smelly car fart. At first we tried to hold the poop bag out the open window but fearing the thin plastic not withstand the stretch of 50mph, we brought the bag back in - and even considered a strangers mailbox. Hey, in a hurricane, there are casualties.

Sara and I have both said we can still smell traces of the foul stench in the car. It's probably just sense memory because of just how awful it was. Next time you need to cover up the scent of a dead hooker in your hotel room, I've got a recommendation.

Bea ate a hot dog in Pennsylvania and was thrilled

See subject line for details.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bea Peed on New Jersey

This is the first mobile blog - being written at 75mph down I80 as we run away from the hurricane. Don't worry - I may be driving but Sara is the one typing. [Hi!]

I was supposed to have shows in New York tonight, Hoboken tomorrow, and New Haven Sunday. Several thousand dollars of cancellations later, we were told we live in an evacuation zone. While deciding if we should get the hell out of Dodge, or just go two blocks down out of the evacuation zone (where Jacob and Jenna had graciously invited us for a weekend of Bea vs. Leah goodness), I was offered a gig in Alfred, NY. Alfred is so far inland, it might not even rain this weekend.

Ever since we adopted Bea, I've had a fantasy of taking her on the road with me as a mascot. This weekend proved the perfect opportunity. We needed to leave New York anyway, so we decided to make a weekend out of it, beat the traffic, and leave tonight.

As far as we know, Bea has only been to Puerto Rico and New York City (which is pretty much the same thing). The route from NYC to Alfred involves cutting through New Jersey. So we stopped at a rest stop and gave Bea her first out of state experience. As so many Real Housewives and Jersey Shore cast members have done in the past, Bea promptly peed on New Jersey. She may have been marking - but there are so many smells here, she wouldn't begin to know which one to cover up. And as we once again hurdle through the garden state, Bea is comfortable in the back of my once spotless Corolla.

I've begun road trips more than a thousand times over the last 8 years. This is the first one where I had to pack for someone else. Okay, where Sara had to pack. But I still had to consider. The college was nice enough to let me choose my own hotel, so we found one that was dog friendly. We took Bea's crate, and Sara packed a bag with food, treats, food bowls, bones, and toys. When they say a dog is a gateway to a baby, this is what they mean.

We didn't bring all of Bea's toys, just Hank Poseidon and Columbia Jones. The dastardly Starfish Incognito stayed back at the apartment, distracted by the presence of a wily Poops McGee. If the hurricane ends up smashing all of our windows, we will not mourn the loss of the evil Starfish Incognito. He deserves whatever he gets. Incidentally, Columbia Jones could use a vacation after Bea dumped him in her water bowl. His hair dried spiky, and now he kind of looks like a monkey. We're convinced Starfish Incognito was behind the whole thing.

In reality Bea is laying down in her bed in the backseat in the position we call "The Bagel." She seems happy to take a drive on a nice night. And even happier to know there are only 23 miles left of New Jersey. Between The Real Housewives and Jersey Shore, this state doesn't need one more bitch.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bea Learns Paw!

Since we've had her, we've been trying to teach Bea "paw" and she just doesn't get it. We've tried treats, affection, even hot dog - and still nothing. And then the other day, bam - Bea just got it. I imagine it was like watching a child's first words, only cuter.

Bea has since realized that we LOVE when she does paw - so now she tries it whenever she wants something. Which may be the most adorable thing ever, to just see an already cute dog pawing at the air in hopes that there will be a treat that follows.

See for yourself.




High five!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hank Poseidon and Columbia Jones

I told you before about Bea's toy Hank Poseidon, squirrel detective. Well, now he's got an entourage.

One of the toys that came with Bea was an odd looking starman made of a similar fleece to the inside of her bed. So when we put it in her bed, it basically disappears. That quickly became named Starfish Incognito.

Yesterday, we went to breakfast with my friend Stephanie, who also went to Columbia. She reads the blog, and was sweet enough to get us two presents. They're both lions (our mascot) - one is a squeaky big headed lion puppy thing, and the other is a poop bag dispenser where the poop bags come out of the lion's butt. We named the squeaky toy "Columbia Jones" and decided he is Hank Poseidon's young ward. Together, they must fight their eternal nemesis, Starfish Incognito, who does things like try to poison the city's water supply, and make Bea's farts smell disgusting. Meanwhile, the poop bag dispenser is Columbia Jones' body double, created by Hank to keep his young ward safe.

Hey, if Bea's not going to play with her toys, at least we will.



Hank Poseidon and Columbia Jones have once again defeated their evil nemesis, Starfish Incognito - with the use of their decoy, Poops McGee.


Actually, Bea played with Columbia Jones a little yesterday. We're hoping it's a sign of things to come.




Your first assignment is to be eaten.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Diabbhea

It's kind of disgusting to clean up after your dog. Even with the "bag inside out around your hand" move, you can still smell it (and I always feel like the smell somehow gets through the bag on to my hand).

It's especially disgusting when your dog basically pees out of its butt. And that's what Bea's been up to lately. Yes, this blog is gross. So is living through it.

A few days ago, Bea had one of those special doggy cupcakes, and she also had a steak bone. Those were the only two deviations from her normal diet, so we're assuming the irregularity is caused by one of them. I guess it could also be due to stress or maybe Bea's sick - but whatever is causing it, the last few days have been one "oh no" after another. When she makes poop soup in the grass, we can try to grab a clump and move on. But when it's on dirt or concrete, there's nothing we can do but pray for rain.

Last night, we finally looked up cures for doggy diarrhea. First, there's many websites devoted to the subject which is both helpful and creepy. Second, if you just google "diarrhea" the third suggestion that comes up is "diarrhea for dogs," which shows we are not alone.

Some of the websites suggested Pepto Bismol, and we're happy to report it worked. Or it's coincidence - either way, Bea was fine this morning, and back to her regular poops.

Oh, and she'd been limping for the last day or so, and now she's stopped. We've had days where whatever is happening in our stomach ruins everything. But it's never made me limp before.

So yeah - no more doggie cupcakes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bea Arthur and All Her Penises

I am SURE that the actual content of this blog is going to disappoint some people while perusing some disgusting google results.

Like all bloggers eventually say, I'm sorry I haven't written in a while. Sara had some surgery - and while she's recovering and pretty much okay, things have been busy on my side of the world. The good news is that Bea has been a fantastic therapy dog. Both because she just lays there and does nothing for most of the day, and because Bea is hilariously strange. Between writhing around on the floor waiting for a belly rub and constant yawning, it's pretty easy to crack a smile while watching Bea.

The funniest thing we've discovered is that she loves penises. Not human penises - she's not one of THOSE dogs. Bull penises. Her favorite thing is a bully stick which, as it turns out, is made of bull penis.



"Oh, baby. That's the stuff."


That's right. Some entrepreneur saw a bull penis and thought, "If I dried this and braided it, dogs would go nuts." Hey, whoever was looking at a bull penis and thinking about profit must have used the word "nuts."

They were right - Bea goes through 5 a week, and they cost at least $2 each. So we're spending $500 a year on Bea Arthur's addiction to penis.

You heard me right, Google.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bea and Leah (Or Be-ah)

For weeks, Sara has been telling me about Bea playing with her dog friend Leah. I've seen glimpses of it. But last night was amazing.

We went over to get some ice cream at our new favorite ice cream place that is destined to make everyone in our neighborhood fat. It's downstairs from our friends Jacob and Jenna, so we went up after, and all went to the roof to let the dogs play.

And oh man did they play. Those two ran around like they were possessed. Well, Leah always runs around like that. But Bea was possessed.

At one point, Bea ran into a wall and kept going. And after a while of Bea chasing Leah, Bea actually started having Leah chase her. Bea, by the way, is FAST. If there was a doggie olympics, and Bea ever ran when we wanted her to, she would totally win a bronze. I mean, she's not THAT fast. But she's fast.

Either way, it was wonderful to see her playing like that, especially after the nonsense that happened at the dog park. Maybe we'll take the two of them to the dog park and see if Leah can introduce Bea to her friends so she's no longer the at risk youth. Or maybe I've been watching too much Friday Night Lights.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Scuffle in the Dog Park

Bea has been getting better and better with other dogs. I already told you about how she'd been playing with some. And she rarely bares her teeth anymore, even when other dogs rudely sniff her face before the politer butt pleasantries.



Bea "playing" with another dog.


But today, she had an incident. We took her to the dog park, and a walker had 5 dogs running around. One of them was Thompsen, a dog Sara used to help walk, and one Bea knows pretty well. But even when Thompsen sniffed Bea's butt like old friends, Bea froze and showed her teeth.

Perhaps it was being the new girl in an established pack, or perhaps she just woke up grumpy - but Bea was pissed. So when a much bigger dog went straight for Bea's face, Bea let the fangs out so he'd back down. But when the other pooch fanged right back, Bea escalated and actually drew blood.

The cut on the other dog's face wasn't bad, and the walker was very understanding (no word on how the owner felt). Of the walker, both dogs, and us, Sara and I were clearly the most rattled by the incident. But now we're not as confident in Bea's ability to socialize as we were yesterday.

Maybe the big dog reminded her of a previous shelter nemesis. Or maybe the big dog's growl insulted Bea's stylish matching pants suit. Whatever it was, we hope it was an isolated incident and not a harbinger of what's to come.

One thing I realized is that part of why the walker was cavalier is because Bea is a cute, small dog. If that happened and Bea was the bigger of the two, she might be seen as a bully - especially if she were a pit bull.

We're glad that Bea is okay, and that the other dog seems to be, too. And if I ever do get a pitbull, this reminds me just how careful I have to be. Even the sweetest dogs can have tempers.



"Sorry guys. Schoolyard stuff."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We've Become Those Kind of People

We never intended on being the kind of people who dress up their dog. But I have to admit, it's hilarious.

Bea HATES the rain. Hates it like Dorothy Zpornak hates Rose Nylund's St. Olaf stories. So we decided we'd buy her a rain coat. No big deal - a bit silly, but a way for her to walk in the rain and still be protected. We live in NYC after all - sometimes it rains for weeks at a time here.

When it was pouring, we put her in the rain coat and immediately realized how stupid it was. Hilarious to see a sweet dog's face staring up at us as if to say, "why would you do this to me?" but stupid nonetheless.



"Maybe the shelter wasn't so bad..."


We tried to walk her in it, and it didn't work very well. She was falling all over the place, and it barely even kept her dry. At one point, she accidentally put her foot through the neck hole and tumbled to the ground. Meanwhile the design was ridiculous, as the leg straps couldn't be put on without making her walk like she just rode a bull for the first time.

It is the last we will ever dress her up, unless there's some sort of great reason like Halloween or a sexy dog firemen calendar shoot. But at least we have pictures.



This is one step away from a doggie snuggie.


We're sorry Bea. We still love you. Hopefully, you still love us, too.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Your Dog is a Reflection on You

Whether we admit it or not, our dogs are a reflection on us.

When I meet an uncontrollable dog, I immediately judge its owner. It's the same reaction I have when I see a bratty kid. I don't think, "what a bratty kid." I think, "what an asshole of a parent."

It's even more pronounced with dogs, since they're much more easily trained than children and have a larger desire to please their owner. If a dog is "bad," that often means their owner is either ignorant or lazy. And while certain breeds have certain tendencies, you can't blame your dog's breed - the only breed of dog that can not be fully domesticated is a freaking wolf.

Am I right to have these judgements? Usually. Sometimes I don't know the whole story. The Vick dogs have been rehabilitated, but I bet in the beginning, they were difficult. Someone walking a dog that they just saved from a terrible life is different than walking a dog that they raised from birth to be an asshole.

Most shelter dogs are like Michael Oher in the first half of the Blind Side. Good instincts and good heart, but no knowledge of how to fit in to every day life. I feel like the first day we brought Bea home, she looked at her dog bed and said, "It's nice, I never had one before."

It's because of judgement that I am super conscious of Bea's behavior. When I'm with Bea in the elevator, I'm always careful to monitor her. I try to prevent her from sniffing strangers legs, hitting anyone with her wagging tail, or bearing teeth at another dog. While it's pretty normal behavior, it's the same reason I don't want other people I'm with to be obnoxious on the subway. I get too embarrassed.

And before you think I'm overreacting, this is the same reason that people teach their dogs tricks. While training is good mental exercise, most people saying "look what my dog can do" are really saying, "look what I taught my dog to do."

So next time your dog gets out of hand in public, remember, that's YOU getting out of hand.

"Sit! Good human."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Dog is a Dog!

Over the last few weeks, we've gotten Bea to exhibit some dog-like behavior on occasion. She eats (most of the time we feed her) and she sleeps (most of the time she's alive), but getting her to play has been difficult.

She has chased Leah (Jacob and Jenna's dog) a few times. Leah is yippy and Bea seems to chase her as if to say "alright bitch, you want to play? Lets play." It's a hilarious time to watch a 42-year-old run around with a 10-year-old and play as if they're colleagues. I think there was a scene like that in "Of Mice and Men."

Anyway, we took Bea to the dog park Monday, and, well, she played. A LOT. There were a few dogs that were rolling around and chasing each other and generally being dogs. They were not aggressive and their owners seemed to be people who actually paid attention. So we let Bea in on the fray, and she took to it very well.

Bea was a lot smaller than the other dogs, so watching her try to poke her head in was a perfect kind of hilarious. There were a lot of moments where she was the freshman on the football team just trying to be noticed. Though she was faster then the other dogs - amazing considering her general philosophy on life is "slow and steady wins the race." I'm still trying to catch her sprint on video. By the time I fire up the camera, Bea has already stopped running. There's some mystical magic to her run that prevents it from being filmed.




Bea Arthur likes to watch.


If her park racing wasn't enough, last night we hung out with Jacob, Jenna, and Leah. And while Bea kept up her stoic Abbott to Leah's zany Costello (or her Dorothy Zbornak to Leah's Rose Nylund), she did do one amazing thing.

Leah has a squirrel toy just like Bea's, except it's half the size. And Bea went right for it. She wasn't playing with a ball like Leah was, or doing much of anything else. But at least she found a toy and played with it for a minute. She's still only bit her own squirrel a few times. So anything she does is a positive sign.



Take that, Mini Hank.


In a related story, Bea's squirrel is now named Hank Poseidon. Sara told me she wouldn't let me name it Henry because she dated a Henry, so she wanted to name it something ridiculous, like Poseidon. We compromised and named it Hank Poseidon, which I'm convinced sounds like a 1940s detective.

"Hank Poseidon, Squirrel Detective. And I'll find your nuts."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Kick My Dog

I don't mean to kick her. And I feel horrible when I do. But sometimes, I can't help it. But enough about Ike Turner.

I'm 6'4" - so the possibility of walking while watching where I'm going and watching Bea are very unlikely. Without her walking a few feet in front of me, there's no way both things can be in my field of vision. Every now and then when we're walking, Bea gets under my feet - and while I've never stepped on her, I have accidentally kicked her a few times. We always hurt the ones we love, especially when the ones we love are 20 pounds and have a tendency to walk under our legs.

I need to keep looking forward most of the time, lest we both be hit by a car, a skateboarder, or an errant hot dog cart (which did happen to me when I was a teenager). So this is just something I need to accept as reality. When I do accidentally kick her, I make sure to stop and show her lots of affection so she knows it was an accident. Hopefully that won't condition her into thinking you need to be kicked before you get affection. But enough about Tina Turner.

Anyway, Bea, if you're reading this, I'm very sorry and I love you. Also if you're reading this, holy crap, you can read.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dachshund Pollock

I have thought more about poop in the last few weeks than I ever thought possible. As I've told you before, Bea is a ridiculous pooper. There's the hunch, then a few steps, then another hunch - and that can go on repeat for several times.

Bea typically poops on dirt, but yesterday she kept hunching, pooping again, and hunching. All the way to the sidewalk. So while we pooper-scoopered most of it, there's only so much you can do on concrete. The rest remained like traces of spilled paint. Ahh, Bea - our little budding artist.

Since she's part Dachshund, we thought Dachshund Pollack was a good nickname. It was either that or Jackson Pooplock. Either way, she'll be exhibiting at MOMA soon.



Jackson Pollock should have called this one "Good girl!"

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bea Arthur and Her Irregular Sized Pants

My apologizes for the lack of blogging. My week in LA was insanely busy, and I only had one day home before I took off again for Philly and Baltimore (where I'm writing from). What'd you miss? We came home, Bea was excited, I left, Bea was sad. Now you're all caught up.

A bit more explanation - Sara met up with me in LA last Thursday, so we boarded Bea in her vet/day care for the weekend. Everything about LA made us want to have Bea there. Tons of parks, amazing weather, and Sara's cousin has a wonderful house with an enclosed back yard. Bea would have loved to sit outside all day and enjoy the sun. Well, we think she would - it's hard to tell, since she has all the emotion range of a shoebox.

We got back around 2AM Monday/Tuesday. Amazingly, with a checked bag and in the back of the plane, we got from touch down to our door in under a half hour. The bag was waiting for us, there was no line at the cab stand, and our cab driver drove like he was a dog chasing a ball. Not our dog, since she doesn't move much - but a dog that likes actually playing with things. Yes, he took our life in his hands - but we appreciated the extra 15 minutes of sleep we were able to get.

I had a few meetings on Tuesday, so I couldn't pick Bea up until the afternoon. When I did, she didn't go nuts at first, but once she smelled me (and realized I was her daddy), she started doing her patented butt wiggle. If you ever see it and it doesn't melt your heart, you don't have a heart to melt.

The staff at the daycare are falling in love with Bea, too - they were all gushy when I picked her up. It's hard not to - Bea doesn't cause much trouble and looks as sweet as a dog can look. Except for the separation anxiety, we really picked a winner.

Well, it may not be separation anxiety - it may be isolation anxiety. She seems fine when we leave and she gets attention from other people, which makes me wonder if we should just get another dog. Of course, that'd mean twice the work and twice the cost, so that will just be a wonder for now.

When I dropped her off Wednesday afternoon before I left, I really felt awful. Partly because we went to the daycare where they don't take pictures. And partly because I barely got to spend any time with her. I can't imagine how a parent must feel dropping their kid off at school every day. Unless their kid is an asshole, then it'd be pretty easy to feel relieved.

Wednesday night, Sara took her over to Jacob and Jenna's for a playdate with their dog Leah. Leah really brings out the dog in Bea. From what I'm told, Bea ran around like a dog possessed (which may be the only way for her to run). She also tried to hump Leah twice. It's clearly her attempt to show dominance, but funny when you couple that with her proclivity to mark outside, and her name being Bea Arthur. A female dog named Bea Arthur showing a few male tendencies is a special kind of funny.

We are hoping that as Bea adjusts to life outside the shelter, she'll become more and more doglike, and accepting of her new life. I'd bet it'd be easier if we didn't live in NYC (which can be like a cage sometimes). But each week that goes by, Bea is further and further from her life in the shelter, and hopefully conditioned to know she's not going back.

The other thing that happened while I've been here is Bea's new crate came in. We felt her old crate was too small - and even though she seems to enjoy the coziness of the old one, we wanted her to be able to sleep in a crate without smushing her face against the side like she was flying coach. The new crate is ENOURMOUS. The width and length are fine, because Bea is part dachshund. But the height is twice what she needs. Lets face it - the world was not built for long dogs with stubby legs. I would love to find a crate that is as stubby as my dog - her version of irregular sized pants. Odd, since Bea Arthur was also extra long.



Excuse me, do you have anything in my size?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bea Arthur Cross Promotion - Heartprint Pets

"Adopting Bea Arthur" was just featured by "Heartprint Pets." I did a Q& A about Bea and how rewarding it has been to add her to my life. If you're interested: http://www.heartprintspets.us/2011/07/how-adopting-bea-arthur-changed-steve.html

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bea Arthur Cross Promotion - Furry Four Legged Foster Friends

"Adopting Bea Arthur" was just featured by "Furry Four Legged Foster Friends." I did a Q& A about Bea and why it is so important to adopt instead of buy. If you're interested: http://furryfourleggedfosterfriends.blogspot.com/2011/07/thank-you-for-being-friend.html

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's So Hard To Say Goodbye, Yesterday

I'm writing this from a cross country flight, on my way to LA for a week of shows. My travel season is kicking back up again, which means leaving Sara and Bea, two things I don't want to do. Touring was a lot easier when I had no reason to come home.

Bea's separation anxiety complicates things. Instead of leaving her home and hiring a walker, we have to send her to daycare. It's not cheap, but it's a worthwhile investment to have a well adjusted dog. The good thing about this particular day care is the frequent posting of pictures to Facebook. We live in amazing times - I'm hurtling through the air in a metal tube 30,000 miles above ground at god knows how many miles an hour (really, he knows, he lives up here). And yet, I just got a picture of how my dog is doing in day care.



How's she doing? Adorable, that's how.


Knowing that I was leaving at 5:30 this morning, and knowing that I can't say goodbye when I actually leave, lest Bea start crying and barking, I tried to say goodbye last night. Before bed, I gave Bea an extra head rub and petting session. Of course, she was completely ambivalent. I can't go downstairs to move my laundry without her freaking out that I've abandoned her, but when I am leaving for a week, she barely moves her head. Ahh, women.

Sara will keep me updated til Thursday, when she joins me on the road - and then we'll just have to rely on the Facebook page. I have a feeling I'll be clicking "like" a lot.

Bea Arthur Cross Promotion - Shaggy Dog Stories

"Adopting Bea Arthur" was just featured by "Shaggy Dog Stories." I did a Q& A about Bea and how she's changed me, but this also includes a lot of editorial review about the blog, too. If you're interested: http://www.shaggydogstories.net/2011/07/steve-hofstetters-latest-gig-dog-person/

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Naked Dog

Normally, Bea wears a collar and a harness, and that's what we've gotten used to seeing her in. But we've realized that the harness is probably pretty itchy, and she's good about letting us put it on and take it off. So rather than make Bea uncomfortable to save us 10 seconds, we've decided to take it off around the apartment. The result of this is that now she's totally naked.

I know dogs are supposed to be naked - but when you get used to your dog wearing "clothes," it's especially funny to see her go au natural.

In the movie "Airheads," one of the criminals' demands is naked pictures of Bea Arthur, since they assumed no one has any. Well, now I do.



Bea! Put some clothes on!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bea's First Day of School

Since Bea's separation anxiety is clearly still there, we've decided that we will not crate her until she's fully trained. While it will make the next few weeks (or months) a lot more expensive and filled with hassle, it should give us years of wonderful, well adjusted dog. Well, if it works.

The problem is that, while I work from home often, I also leave for days at a time. Yesterday I had a meeting in the morning followed by a trip to Boston - so at 8AM, we took Bea to day care.



I feel like we should get her a Sponge Bob backpack.


We were wide awake at 8AM, both because we just got back from Europe a few days ago, and because Bea wakes up at 7, so we wake up at 7. Also because our stupid bedroom window is surrounded by a steel frame, making every conceivable curtain solution utterly impossible. Damn you, sun. Damn you.

Leaving Bea in someone else's care is nerve-racking, both because we want her to be happy, and we want the yippie dogs around her to stay alive. And if they yip too much, well, Bea will not be thrilled. She has not bitten (or even scratched) another dog - but she bares her teeth as often as the real Bea Arthur wore a floral print house dress.

We left Bea at City Vet, which lessens our nerves. They only have a few dogs, need piles of paperwork before admission, and take their boarded dogs on three walks a day. Also, they're a vet - if anything does go wrong, she'll be taken care of. And by "she," I mean whatever yippie dog Bea tore asunder.

Sara missed Bea tons, so she picked her up around 4PM and finished her work from home. The "teacher" said that Bea was fine. Bea bared her teeth a few times, but who doesn't on the first day of school? And thankfully there was no, um, finger-painting.

The takeaway is that the experience was good for Bea. Sara says Bea seemed calmer last night, and her separation anxiety was less palpable. I'd guess it comes from socializing her with other people and dogs, and showing Bea that her life is great with us, regardless if we're there in person.

It is funny that Sara rushed home to "rescue" Bea from her first day of school. I think we should let Bea experience a bit more, and try not to be as micro managing. Of course, I will also be driving home from Boston overnight.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

There are Chicken Bones Everywhere

We got back from Europe wondering if Bea would even remember us. It had been 10 days since we last saw her. Since her fosters were watching her, she could have easily assumed that she only lived with us temporarily. I know dogs have no memory or sense of time - just conditioning. Hopefully we conditioned her enough to know that we = treats and love, and thus we are good.

She was happy to see us, though her butt wiggle was a bit muted. She was especially happy to see Sara. I think ever since we stopped letting her on the couch, my bonding with her has been cut down, since I spend most of my day sitting on the couch writing.

She was smiling more than normal though - the goofiest we've seen her yet. Compared to her usual stoic attitude, It was almost Joker-like.




I'll get you, Batman.


Walking Bea in our neighborhood is an experience. We have to be constantly vigilant, as there are somehow chicken bones everywhere. I don't know how or why it has happened, but we've seen three piles of them in the last 24 hours. There are no barbecues near by, and no packaging either. Just the terrible choking hazard for dogs. One pile was even next to a garbage can. Because eating the chicken and dropping the bones INTO the garbage can would be way too complicated. And this isn't a drumstick. This is a very large chicken that has been reduced to the skeletal remains of a very large chicken.

A few times in my life, I have seen a condom in the street. Not in the wrapper, just a condom. There are two explanations: one, it was used as a water balloon. Two, someone was in such a hurry to have sex that they couldn't wait to cross the street. Which is amazing, since they care enough about safe sex to put a condom on, but not enough to get out of the way of traffic.

The chicken bones remind me of that, because it's so odd to just eat a half a chicken outdoors and then toss the bones down. Both actions are very caveman-like. If I ever see a condom in the road surrounded by chicken bones, I'll know someone had quite the neanderthal party.

The good news is that Bea is not food aggressive - so if she gets to a bone before we see it, we can pry it out of her mouth. We are also slowly teaching her the "leave it" command, which will come in handy in our neighborhood.

Either way, it's great to have Bea back. Even if we have to avoid the perils of living with cavemen.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bea Arthur Cross Promotion - Nanny McFur

"Adopting Bea Arthur" was just featured by "Nanny McFur." They also did this cool thing called a blog hop, where they let a whole bunch of dog blogs ban together for a few days. So I am going to pitch in and join - see it below. Thanks!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bea Arthur Cross Promotion - Fur-licity

"Adopting Bea Arthur" was just featured by "Fur-licity." I did a guest post summarizing why I adopted a rescue. If you're interested: http://fur-licity.blogspot.com/2011/06/guest-post.html

Europe Vs. America

I’ve been in Europe for five days – one in Milan, two in Budapest, and two in Vienna. And I’ve noticed two main things about dogs in Europe: First, they’re everywhere. Second, I haven’t seen a badly behaved one yet. I wonder if there’s a correlation.

There aren’t many leash laws here (or at least ones that are enforced), yet I haven’t seen any dogs running around. There have been dozens that have politely walked by me with a wag and a smile, and dozens more that just walked by without acknowledgement. But I haven’t seen one jump up, try to eat something that wasn’t theirs, or even bark at a stranger. It didn’t matter how busy or quiet the street was, or how many noisy cars or tourists were whizzing by. The cultures of Milan, Budapest, and Vienna are quite different from each other, but all the dogs seem to behave the same.

There were dogs in supermarkets, on trains, and in restaurants. I can’t imagine it’s very sanitary (especially with lax pooper scooper laws), but it’s certainly friendly.

Right before I left the states, I had to leave Bea outside for the first time. I needed to walk her but I also needed to feed me. Since Sara and I were leaving for Europe soon, there was nothing to eat in the apartment. And pressed for time while running in and out to do laundry, waiting for delivery wasn’t an option either.

While on Bea’s walk, I stopped at a takeout place with a big open doorway, tied her leash to the railing, and went in to order. Though I came outside while they were cooking, the 30 seconds it took to order and 30 more it took to pay just seemed cruel. I could still see Bea while I was inside (and she could see me), but I was terrified someone would steal her before I could act. She is just that adorable.

I see dogs tied outside all the time, and it’s clearly because their owner has business to do inside – and inside is not a dog friendly place. And with what Bea did on the floor of Petco, I’d be terrified to bring her inside any store not designed to accommodate dog pee.

Incidentally, Bea LOVES Duane Reade drug stores. Or at least she thinks she does, she’s never successfully infiltrated one. But Bea tries to go in every Duane Reade we pass. Bea skips most restaurants, supermarkets, even pet stores. But when we pass a Duane Reade, it’s Pavlovian. The strangest part is that it doesn’t happen with CVS or Walgreens – just Duane Reade. Maybe because the first night we had Bea, Sara went in to Duane Reade briefly while we waited outside. It’s possible that Bea has been conditioned to think Sara is always in Duane Reade now, even when she’s the one at the other end of the leash.

While I was outside that takeout place with Bea, I was thinking about how it’s so cruel to leave my baby outside unattended, and everything that could have gone wrong. I also started thinking whether or not people would do that with their children. And my answer is a resounding “yes, they would.” I’ve read stories about the occasional parent leaving their child in a car while at a bar or a strip club. So if babies were not allowed in supermarkets, every Walmart in America would have a few dozen tied to the shopping cart rack.

It was interesting to see how well behaved the dogs were in countries that allowed them to go everywhere and do everything. While I still believe in leashing dogs (especially poorly trained ones), seeing dogs handle freedom gave me a new perspective on leash laws. If you treat people like prisoners, they act like prisoners. Maybe dogs are the same way. And maybe they understand that with great power comes great responsibility.

Or maybe they are just shy because they can’t translate.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peeing Isn’t Easy

I spent yesterday in Milan, so it’d be hard for me to find something to complain about. But I am a complainer, so I found something.

The airport bathrooms in Milan seem constantly closed for cleaning, and never clean. I was sitting across from one of the bathrooms, and watched it close five separate times in two hours. And the times I used it all the seats were wet and the floors were disgusting. Maybe no one is actually cleaning, and the bathroom is where the janitor takes naps.

It did make me think of Bea and how she must feel as she’s about to pee somewhere and another dog distracts her or a smell prevents it from being just right. Bea is a much finicky pee-er than I am – which is strange to say about a dog who has peed in the middle of a sidewalk, a street, and Petco.

Bea pees in strange places, but they are clearly just right for her. Unlike most dogs, she doesn’t pee right away each morning – she waits, finds her spot, and decides it’s okay. It’s the equivalent of taking a road trip with a rich kid. While the rest of the car would be fine using a gas station bathroom, the rich kid makes everyone else wait for a hotel or a restaurant. And Waffle House doesn’t count.

I wonder if Waffle House could exist in Italy. Its bathrooms are almost as gross as the ones at Milan’s airport.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bea Arthur Cross Promotion - Have Dog Blog, Will Travel

"Adopting Bea Arthur" was just featured by "Have Dog Blog, Will Travel" I did a Q& A about Bea and why I started the blog. If you're interested: http://celiasue.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/a-good-dog-is-easy-to-adopt/

Are You a Dog?

I admit it – I am scared of some dog people.

I never understood the people who talked to their dog until I became one. It seemed silly to say whole sentences aloud to a dog, since they don’t understand words beyond the basic commands. I quickly realized that we’re not talking to our dogs. We’re talking to ourselves and our dogs happen to be there. I find that walking my dog is very therapeutic, and so talking to her is more me just getting my thoughts out than trying to carry on a conversation.

I never understood the people who talked for their dog until I became one. It seemed silly to act as if a dog has human thoughts, since their thoughts are mainly to eat, sleep, and shit. I hope that most humans think beyond that. But I quickly realized that it is funny to extrapolate on a dog’s actions, and I often do it to entertain my wife. I will say things like “Bea must be plotting how to keep us awake tonight” knowing full well that Bea keeps us awake just by instinct.

But I will never, ever understand people who talk as their dog.

My publicist recently sent out a message to some dog blogs announcing that I have one of my own, and set up a few interviews. It will be fun for me to talk to other dog owners, and it’s a good way to get the word out that I’ve become one. Most replied with friendly “welcome to the team” type messages, and some kind words about my writing and or standup. But a few replied as if they were actually dogs.

Yes, I know that many people write blogs from their dog’s perspective. It’s cute, and no stranger than when the Bronx Zoo cobra had a twitter account. But when someone can’t even answer an email as a human being, that starts to scare me.

I get playing a character – I’m a comedian after all. But you don’t have to stay in character when it’s completely inappropriate. Do you think Sascha Baron Cohen talks to his agent as if he’s Borat? No – because that would be terrible for business. And when he’s done with his art, he becomes himself again.

The emails were also not addressed to the dogs – they were addressed to the people running the blogs. So it wouldn’t even be breaking character to answer them as people. But even if you’re playing a dog, be true to the character. What is the character you’ve built? A dog who can use a computer? If so, you’ve got way more important things to write about than what you’ve been eating. Like how you learned to use a computer.

But the tops for me is the one that wrote back in broken/simplified English – as if the dog can speak English, just not that well. Ahh, theatre.

By the way, if this applies to you, don’t get all offended. Bea was the one who wrote it anyway.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bea Heckled Me

Bea's fosters emailed us about Bea's progress last night. She went a little nuts when we left her, pawing at the door and crying. But she eventually settled in and went to sleep after being given enough treats. Which shows she loves us, and can be easily bribed.

The coolest note was when the foster decided to check out some of my standup online. He told me that while he was watching one of my videos, Bea suddenly woke up, stood up, looked around, barked once, and curled up to go back to sleep. So she was either happy to hear my voice, or was heckling me.

Either way, she's adorable.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I Wonder What Bea is Doing

My wife and I left for 10 days last night. We dropped Bea off at her fosters, and we left. And I never thought I could miss an animal this much.

It's ridiculous. I wonder what she is up to. I hope she doesn't think that we were just watching her for three weeks and gave her back. I hope she remembers us in 10 days, considering dogs have no memory.

Everything makes me think of her. I see other dogs, and think Bea would love to sniff them. I see grass, and think Bea would love to poop on it. The guy next to us at the airport farted, and it actually reminded me of one of Bea's smelly dog farts. Which hurt at first because I miss Bea, and hurt again because it smelled like a dog fart.

I know Bea is fine and she will wag her butt when we come home. But part of me feels mean for leaving. The good news is it took her less than a day to love us unconditionally. So even if she forgets, it'll just be another day before she's back.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Customer Is Always Right, Especially When You Threaten Him

There's three dog stores in my neighborhood, and I picked the wrong one.

The first day we had Bea, we ordered a license tag from the "Kitty and Dog Lounge" on Vernon Boulevard. They told us we'd have it in two weeks. What they should have said was "at least two weeks," because I went in two and a half weeks later, and it still wasn't there.

I calmly questioned why, and things got ugly. There were two people behind the counter - a girl and a guy. As the girl stammered at my question, the guy threatened to fight me. That's right - to fight me. Because I wanted to know why my tag was late.

I soon found out he doesn't even work there - the girl is just his girlfriend. Imagine that - your boyfriend visits you at work and he threatens to fight a customer. I understand attraction to the knight in shining armor. I do not understand attraction to the high school equivalency degree in a wife beater.

His exact words were "If you want to discuss this, we can take this outside." Yup. As I'm holding my adorable shelter dog, he tried to take it outside. I should have, knowing full well that Bea would have bit his fucking head off. Which would have been the first true benefit of her separation anxiety.

I laughed at the guy's rage and asked him if he had just heard what he said out loud. When he tried escalating things again, I said "you know you're an adult, right?" Finally I began ignoring him, and asked the girl if I could speak to the owner. The girl said the owner was "very busy." So I asked for my money back. The girl said she couldn't do that. I left and disputed the charge with my credit card company.

Before I left, the girl's cro-magnon Jersey Shore extra of a boyfriend said I could give them bad reviews all I wanted, he's still going to standup for his girlfriend. Good idea, Pauly D. Except I'm taking it a step further.

I went on Yelp, Google Maps, Yellow Pages, Super Pages, and a dozen other sites I had to sign up for just to give a bad review. I posted to my neighborhood dog owner group, two neighborhood resident groups, and the Better Business Bureau. Oh, and I encouraged the 25K people I have on my Facebook and Twitter to do the same. I'll also be calling the owner later and telling her exactly what happened. How's that for a Situation?

My prediction is that the girl gets reprimanded, if the business even stays open. Either way, the girl will be pissed at her idiot boyfriend. And guessing this isn't the first (or the last time) his rage got her in trouble, it will lead to them eventually breaking up. Since he was already free to spend the day with her at work on a Wednesday, that will leave him broke and single, while me and my wife and our adorable dog happily buy a tag from Petco.

If you have a moment, go post the worst reviews possible on the Yelp page for "Kitty and Dog Lounge." After all, he did want to take the fight outside.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Dream of Bea-Nie

It's official - this dog has consumed my life.

For the last three nights, the sleep I have gotten (usually interrupted circa 4 AM by Bea repositioning herself) has involved dreams about Bea. She is the only thing I talk about with people, the first thing I think of when I wake up, and the last thing I think of when I go to sleep. I remember when my wife held that position.

This is exactly why Sara and I may not have kids. We are already losing ourselves in this dog. If we had kids, we would no longer exist as people; we would just be parents and dog owners. There's a piece of me that's not done living yet - though it seems to be distracted by dreams about dogs.

Oh, and a guy tried to pick me up yesterday based on him having 4 dachshund-mixes. Even if I were single and even if I were gay, he had 4 yippie dogs. That's awful.

"Hey, wanna come back to my place and clean up after my animals? Wait, where are you going?"

At least he wasn't in the dream.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shhhh...

I am in my bedroom, hiding from my dog. I was having a snack, but Sara is training Bea to realize that us leaving the apartment is nothing to cry over. I have to be inaccessible while Sara leaves, comes back, leaves, comes back, etc.

So here I am, a grown man, eating grapes and hiding from my dog.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Crate Training Is the Best Idea Ever

In just under 48 hours, Bea has actually become a dog. This crate training stuff is amazing.

Ever since we started crate training, Bea has been much more obedient. Probably because when we say "sit," "down," or "come," it's the only time we pay attention to her. She is now actively trying to please her strict parents. Maybe we should ask her to take up the violin.

Tonight we went to a rooftop BBQ at Jacob and Jenna's, our friends from the dog park. Their dog Leah is VERY excitable, which doesn't always mesh with Bea's laid back "I'm-half-dead" energy. So when Leah started barking and running circles around Bea, Bea growled and showed her teeth. We thought we were in for a fight, but instead, they just chased each other around for a while. Bea was actually acting like a dog.

The most amazing part was after the BBQ when we went to their apartment and Bea went right for Leah's crate. Sure, she was the drunk girl wandering into someone else's house and passing out on the couch - but it was a big step.

The BBQ was a lot of fun - it's great to make new friends, and it's even better to not have to worry about Bea. Sara and I have been really overprotective parents. But now that we've given Bea a little discipline, she can make new friends, too. It's the same reason people give their kids chores. A little structure can be a wonderful thing.

On the way home, Bea seemed happy and playful, and just more dog-like than she's been in the last two weeks. And amazingly, Sara and I are becoming human at the same time.

How To Crate Train Your Dog Without Really Crying

We had to make one of the toughest decisions I've faced as a not-quite-parent. We had to start crate training Bea.

Her separation anxiety has gotten to the point where we can't go in another room without her crying. Luckily our apartment only has two rooms. But she's got to be in the same one with us.

We've been fairly strict not-quite-parents. We don't let her sleep in our bed, and we don't even let her on the couch anymore. But we have to step it up a notch if we want this dog to be a well adjusted mutt. I've thought about reading 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother' for inspiration.

I was gone through yesterday afternoon, so Sara did a bunch of crate training without me. Sara took Bea's favorite toys, food, and treats, and only gave them to Bea inside the crate. The hardest part is that Bea also only gets attention in the crate. So we are no longer allowed to pet her, smile at her, even look at her unless she's in her crate. She's got to learn to love it there. It will be good for her in the long run, but it is killing us in the short term. It's like 80s music when it first came out.

After a day and a half of terrible travel, including three fat people next to me on planes and four hours of sleep spread over two nights, all I wanted to do was come home and love my dog. But I could not. My job was to leave her in her crate until she calmed down, then walk her and ignore her. I feel like a deadbeat dad.

I know that it's good for her, but it is hard on us. Both Sara and I melt when Bea looks at us with her wide eyes and wants to play, but we can't unless she's in the crate. She has to learn that her crate is a wonderful place, filled with love and chicken flavored dog treats.



How do you ignore this?


It is incredibly hard to go through this process - we feel like we're being cruel to her. But I got a great reminder of why we're doing it on one of my flights. There was a small child with the volume of a large village shrieking at her mother that she wanted her toys. That reminded me of two things: one, we are doing this so that Bea can be well behaved, independent, and a pleasure to be around. Two, we don't want kids.

Another disappointing piece of this process is Sara has chosen the word "house" for Bea's crate. Every time I'm watching TV and Sara says "house!" I think she's telling me there's a new episode on our Tivo. Only to set myself up for disappointment.

Today is my niece's Bat Mitzvah, so we dropped Bea off with Sara's aunt and drove to Long Island. My first Father's Day and I've sent my daughter away. No wonder she didn't get me anything.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Miss My Dog

I am away from Bea for the first time tonight, and I already miss her.

I woke up at 3:30 this morning to catch a flight to Montgomery, Alabama. I'm performing at a military base an hour south of Montgomery, and the New York to Montgomery route doesn't give people many options. While I was getting ready, Bea was adorable - quietly following me around and nuzzling my leg. She doesn't follow me out of the room when I wake up to use the bathroom, but she somehow knew today was different. Even though I'll be back by noon tomorrow, her behavior this morning is the reason why people love dogs.

The best part about getting a dog is that I've been keeping earlier and earlier hours, so waking up at 3:30 is only a few hours earlier than she'd have woken me up anyway. I slept as much as I could on the plane, despite a fat woman elbowing me, taking up part of my seat, and loudly jabbering on in Spanish to what I can only assume was her daughter. Her daughter was sitting a few rows back, but came up and stood next to her so they could prevent everyone near them from sleeping. I finally asked them to speak a little quieter.

I felt like I did when I asked the guy to leash his dog the other day and he looked at me like I was the bad guy. You're not a dick if you politely ask someone to respect the people around them. You're a dick if you're the one who needs reminding that other people exist.

Last night we ran into another off-leash situation. This one was a smaller dog so we weren't as nervous - but it ran right at Bea and we had to get between them. His owner, of course, excused it as his dog being friendly. There's a great scene in an American Dad episode where Stan breaks his shin bone, and a dog runs over and starts chewing it. "He's so friendly!," remarks the dog's owner, as the dog is slowly killing Stan.



"Look how friendly my dog is!"


There's a part of me that hopes that off-leash dog gets roughed up a bit by a tougher dog so he and his owner both learn a lesson. It's the same part of me that wants an 8-year-old bully to try to start something with a 12-year-old. Hakunah Matata.

Back at the ranch/one bedroom apartment, we are dealing with Bea's separation anxiety by slowly crate training her. She was able to go in the crate for an hour while we were home last night, and we'll be increasing her intervals when I get back. And just to make sure she doesn't bust loose again, we fortified our babygate with several boxes and chairs. If she breaks out of this one, we'll have to rename her David Blaine. You know, because his tricks aren't really magic either.

Sara is doing a wonderful job training Bea, and I realize that I couldn't have done this myself. Well, I could have but I'd have lost several more ethernet cables in the process.

Sara told me that after I left, Bea cried for a few minutes. That is awful because it was 4AM and Sara needed to sleep. But it's also sweet to know that my dog loves me. And if we keep working on it, she can love me from the crate, too.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Separation Anxiety - Bea Busting Out

We've left Bea home alone a handful of times now, and it's been fine. She cries at first, but by the time we get home, she does her crazy butt-wiggle and all is forgiven.

I promise you, one day I will get video of the butt wiggle. She is part dachshund, so when she wags fervently, her entire butt wags. It's some kind of wonderful.

The problem is that the butt wiggle is caused by her separation anxiety. The common symptoms of separation anxiety can be destructive behavior, peeing everywhere, and some serious howling. Bea's is just crying when we leave and following us around when we're home. Not so bad, and we're trying to train her out of it. As much fun as it is for her to greet us like that, we don't like knowing that she's crying in the meantime. You don't break someone's arm just so they'll be thrilled when they heal.

Training a dog out of separation anxiety is a ridiculous process. You basically have to put your coat on and grab your keys, leave, and come right back. Then you do it again and leave for 2 minutes. Then 5. Then 2 again. Then 15. Etc, etc. The idea is to teach your dog that she never knows when you'll actually leave for a while, so why freak out? We're also supposed to ignore our dog being happy that we're home, and only greet her after 10-15 minutes. That's right - we have to trick our dog into not loving us as much, and ignore her. That's exactly why I wanted a dog - so it can we can be utterly ambivalent each other's presence. This must be how rich parents raise their children.

Yesterday, Bea's separation anxiety got the best of her. Like usual, we gated her in the kitchen/hallway area, giving her more room than the average NYC studio apartment. We leave her water, a bone, her toys, and a dog bed - and hope for the best. Also, we drop a frozen cube of baloney in her food bowl and run for it. By the time she's done with it, we're in the elevator. I don't know if any dog trainers recommend the "distract and ditch" method, but we're giving it a shot.

We have talked about getting a nanny cam, less for safety and more for curiosity to see how she spends her day. Is she as big of a lump as she is when we're home? Or does she rock out a la Tom Cruise in Risky Business? Which, btw, is still one of the strangest scenes in movie history. My parents left me home alone a LOT in high school and I never did THAT.

When Sara and I got home, things were not as copacetic as we expected. Like all spring-loaded baby gates, our gate is a piece of crap, as Bea had pushed her way through it. Seems the living room is much more appealing than the kitchen and the hallway. Or maybe she was just tired of her studio apartment and wanted to expand. Movin on up, Bea. Movin on up.

The damage was not huge. The couch was covered in dog hair, and Bea had chewed through an ethernet cable. Not bad, considering the $80 power source to my MacBook was right there, too. A $10 replacement cable, I can live with. Part of me hopes that when Bea bit the ethernet wire, she got a little shock so she learns not to do it again. Not enough to hurt her - just enough to make her think my stuff has an alarm system.

We were mad at Bea, but that did us no good. First, you can't get mad at a dog unless you catch them in the act or they dont know why you're mad. She knows "sit," "down," and "stay" - she doesn't know "go to your room and think about what you did." Second, her adorable butt wiggle makes it REALLY hard to stay mad.

Bea has been super sweet ever since - but we are trying to crate train her now. We weren't doing it before, figuring that she'd enjoy the openness of her kitchen studio. But I also figured that I wouldn't need a new ethernet cable. Sorry Bea - when you try to break out of the yard, you get put in solitary.

The crate training process is simple - it involves us taking her bone and putting it in the crate repeatedly, and doing the same with treats.

"Look Bea, there are great things in that crate! And soon, you'll be one of them."

We hope.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Your Dog is not Above the Law

Today I went to walk Bea after dinner like normal. Lately, I've been letting her control our direction. I don't really care where she pees or poops, as long as it's legal and not in my apartment.

My wife recently showed me a great quote from Michael Vartan, the guy from Hawthorne (that show on TNT that TNT swears people watch). The quote came from an interview with PETA, so clearly Vartan doesn't actually know much about dogs, or he'd know that PETA's kill rate is 95%. Yup - fur is murder, and so is PETA.

Nevertheless, it was a good quote:

"We decide when our dogs eat, take walks, play with their pooch pals—even relieve themselves. So when I take her on a walk, I make sure she gets to sniff as long as she wants. And it’s up to her whether she walks, runs, or even sunbathes. I always remember this is her walk, so I don’t pull on her, and I don’t rush her. These things may seem small to us, but to our dogs, they mean the world."


There's a grassy strip that Bea prefers to poop on a block away from my apartment, and she headed right for it. But when I got there, I saw a big dog off-leash, chasing a ball and jumping all over his owner.

As I've told you, Bea is not always great with other dogs. Sometimes she's okay, and sometimes she's not. I wasn't willing to risk Bea getting in a fight because some guy thinks he doesn't need to obey the law.

Having your dog off-leash is like texting while driving. It's terribly dangerous when other people do it, but you're so good at it that you couldn't possible hurt anyone, right?

New York City has a simple leash law - 6-foot-leash in public areas at all times, and dog runs are the one exception. And there is a dog run 3 blocks from the strip we were on. Everyone knows that law - I've known it for years and I never thought I'd be a dog owner. But this guy thought his dog was more important than the law. He can train his dog to fetch, but his dog never trained him not to be a selfish asshole.

Meanwhile, I've learned dogs on a leash do NOT like interacting with dogs off-leash, because they feel restricted and thus threatened. So if Bea and a rambunctious dog is a recipe for disaster, Bea and a rambunctious dog off leash is a recipe for disaster cooked by Sandra Lee.

I tried to pull Bea away from the grass, but she wanted to poop where she wanted to poop. So I was left with three choices:

1) I could take her off leash, breaking the law while risking an altercation.
2) I could leave her on leash, obeying the law, and ensuring an altercation.
3) I could politely ask a fellow dog owner, citizen, and human being to please put his dog on a leash.

I chose option three, because I mistook the other owner for human. The owner reluctantly putting the leash on while silently giving me the stink eye wasn't what I was hoping for.

In that moment, I realize what I should do. I would train the dog owner as if he had the mental capacity of a dog.

"Thank you," I said, in the same tone as I say "good girl."

When we walked by him, I said it again. And when we left, I said it a third time.

As I walked away, he took the leash off immediately and gave me the stink eye once more. Clearly I'd made a mistake. But my mistake was not asking him to leash his dog. My mistake was thinking he'd actually be as smart as one.