Monday, May 30, 2011

I Dub Thee Bea Arthur

Despite some awesome suggestions on my Facebook and Twitter, Sara is the one that came up with the perfect name for our new dog. She suggested we name her after one of my favorite comedians. Carlin, Hicks, Hedberg - they don't really make good names for a female dog. We started thinking about women that make us laugh, and there was one obvious choice - Bea Arthur.

Sara and I are both huge Golden Girls fans, and Essie had the same personality as Dorothy. She was calm, yet assertive, and didn't have time for the antics of silly bitches.

We'd mainly call her Bea, but when people asked her name, we'd say it was Bea Arthur. Which would be an added bonus - we'd be able to immediately tell if anyone we met had a sense of humor. Though I did have to change the name of this blog to "Adopting Bea Arthur."

Of course, we still may get rejected. But if we get approved, long live Bea Arthur!

Monday in the Park With Essie

We met Essie today. Since she's Puerto Rican, Essie is short for Esperanza. Thankfully, she has no idea what her name is because there's no way in hell I am comfortable with something that wussy. I may as well have a dog named "I cut my penis off." I'm fine with whatever dog we adopt becoming daddy's little girl, as long as I stay daddy.

Since it's Memorial Day, Sara had the day off. And since I'm a comedian and it's the daytime, so did I. Essie's fosters lived in Greenpoint, a neighborhood in Brooklyn with two trillion Polish bakeries. When we got their early, I stopped in one of the bakeries to get myself a treat. That's when I realized just how different my life would be with a dog. I bought an eclair, and Sara reminded me that I'd need to clean my hands off very well since dogs could die if they ingest chocolate. The little things will make caring for a dog hardest. Especially since the only knowledge I have of dogs is gleaned from watching Animal Planet.

Now chocolate-free, it took two minutes of walking Essie before I wanted to sign up. She was incredibly sweet. Just a lump of a dog who walked and wagged, and nothing else. She was fine with other dogs, fine with other people, fine sitting down and staring at a blade of grass. She was me and Sara in dog form, although Essie was more people friendly than we were.

One thing I particularly liked about Essie was that when she saw a dog she wasn't interested in, she'd just move on and ignore them. That's what Sara and I do with most people we meet. Don't get me wrong - we love making friends with good people. But we don't love pretending to make friends with dull people. And that's how Essie was with other dogs.

"Really? You love chasing tennis balls? That's great. Hey, I'm going to go over here now and do something a little more adult."

Essie was exactly what I was looking for. And on the way home, Sara told me she felt the same way.

Of course, Essie is not going to be her name. I'm going to see if my Twitterverse can help us come up with one. We don't want a run of the mill name - we want something funny but not ridiculous, and fitting for our new lady. No simple regular person names, and no traditional dog names either. A dog is a reflection of the owner's personality.

"Hi, I'm boring. And this is my dog, Boring."

We put in our request to adopt Essie, and the next step will be getting a home visit from the rescue org. If that goes well, Essie becomes part of our family. Once we change her name, of course.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Michael Vick is a Dickhead, and Other Breaking News

I never really understood just how evil Michael Vick was until I married a pitbull advocate. Sara volunteers most Saturdays at a shelter in NYC, and she LOVES their pitbulls. She's always been one to rally for the underdog. Maybe that's why she married a lanky Jewish redhead.

I just realized this is the one time where the term "underdog" can be used 100% literally.

Anyway, Sara loves pitbulls because they're typically very loyal dogs, and even the ones that fight only fight because they are trying to please their humans. As I've learned from Cesar Milan and my wife, dogs are as individual as humans. And while a breed might have certain tendencies, there's no such thing as a bad breed. Pitbulls that become aggressive do so because they're trained to do so. If you tied me up and poked me with a stick all day, I'd bite your face off, too.

The most amazing thing is that most dogs can be re-trained, almost no matter what they've been through. There was only one animal from the Michael Vick incident that was beyond rehabilitation. Two, if you count Michael Vick.

This would never happen, because dogs are way to smart to be Michael Vick's peers

I also like pitbulls because people are scared of them. Bill Burr has a fantastic joke about adopting one. "It's like a gun you can pet."

The breedism against pitbulls makes it difficult for us to adopt one, since we live in a high-rise in NYC. Most buildings here that allow dogs still have breed restrictions, and pits are on our building's no-no list. Which is silly for three reasons:
1) Most "pitbulls" aren't actually pitbulls, just hybrids of a bunch of terrier breeds that look like them.
2) There are plenty of little yippie dogs here that are WAY more aggressive than most pitbulls. A better way of deciding would be a temperament test.
3) If the way people park in our garage is any indication, the building has no problem with people that are assholes. Why worry about their dogs?

Breedism is logically equivalent to racism. Despite all statistics to the contrary, people are scared of pitbulls simply because of what they LOOK like. Sounds eerily familiar, doesn't it? Denver actually has a citywide ban on pitbulls and took a service dog away from a veteran in a wheelchair. Of course the disabled veteran could spend the money to fight it in court - conveniently located across the street and up the stairs.

A few weeks before we met the Italian Greyhound that wanted to pee on everything, we (i.e. Sara) found a pitbull online that was small enough to live comfortably in a New York apartment, and also looked enough like a mutt that we could get away with it. And her name was Cheeto - how great is that? Nothing like a seemingly tough dog with a hilariously adorable name.

We emailed the foster lady, who said she'd get back to us. We checked in occasionally and heard nothing. Finally we checked back with the rescue. The foster had decided to keep Cheeto - which is wonderful for Cheeto, but bad for us. Not just that we never got the chance to meet her, but because we could have spent those weeks looking for other dogs. I felt like I was back in college, being strung along by a girl that was not really interested in me. Jeez - just tell me you're fucking someone else and let me move on. I think I've lost the metaphor here, but you get the idea: We were annoyed that we weren't told Cheeto was off the table.

The good news was that the rescue felt bad for us, and made it a priority for us to meet another dog. When we told them of our couch potato ways, they suggested Essie, a 6-year-old Dachshund/Beagle mix from a shelter in Puerto Rico with all the energy of lawn furniture. She'd been fostered by a couple in Brooklyn for the last month, and was ready to be adopted out. We meet her on Monday. Maybe we will rename her "Cheeto."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This is a great dog, if you love dog urine

Tonight was our first dog meeting. We're trying to find one that fits our temperament. Sara and I are laid back people - our perfect night is spent curled up on the couch watching reruns of The Golden Girls. We needed to find a dog that agreed.

For weeks, we've been talking about adopting an Italian Greyhound. Dogs 101 says they hate the cold so much, they're often trained to pee indoors. And since I get all of my knowledge from TV, that sounded perfect. Also, they do funny things like this:

The idea of a dog that walked on its two front paws appealed to me almost as much as never having to walk one in a New York winter. We are apartment people - there's no just letting them run around the yard for us, because there is no yard. Every time a dog needs a walking, we're adding the several minutes of just getting downstairs and outside to the equation. The brutality of a New York winter plus the wind chill of living half a block from the river makes a dog that prefers to pee inside a great choice.

We were getting a visit from a woman who runs an Italian Greyhound foster operation. She was checking out our apartment to assess if we would be good dog owners within 8 minutes. I'm not sure what she'd find to tell her otherwise. Unless we were hoarders, there weren't going to be any significant red flags.

"Oh, look, a book called, 'How to Serve Dog.' Clearly you're dog lovers."

"Yes. Though it's a cookbook."

The idea of totally freaking out a dog rescuer made me laugh as I cleaned our apartment. We're relatively clean people anyway, but we wanted to put our best foot forward. It's as if we were saying, "look at how nice a place this is for a dog to destroy."

The night started rough when the foster lady couldn't find our place. She called for directions and it was a complete mess. I don't know what is worse - when someone can't give directions, or when someone can't take directions. The following is a shortened version of the conversation we had.

"I can't find your place. Which way do I turn?"

"Do you know what street you're on?"

"I'm in front of a cycling store."

"I'm not sure where that is. Can you see a street sign?"

"I'm in front of a cycling store."

"Yes, but do you see anything else?"

"Let me see if I can see the name of the cycling store."

Five more minutes of Abbott and Costello-esque directions later, she was in our apartment with her test pooch. She didn't bring one we'd actually adopt - she just wanted to see if our home was fit for for a dog. Finding no cookbooks, we passed the test. But the dog breed didn't pass ours.

The foster lady specifically told us that she was watching her dog so he doesn't pee everywhere. That's right - a fully trained dog who has been with a loving family for a few years would pee on my wall given two minutes of unsupervised conversation. She also said they need to be walked every three hours - and even the ones that can be trained to use a pee pad need to still go outside for exercise, even if they hate you for forcing them into the cold. In other words, we'd be adopting the dog equivalent of a high-maintenance teenage girl. Our dream of sitting on our couch with our dog watching the Golden Girls seemed as lost as this woman would be if you gave her directions to anywhere.

Too bad - I had been excited at the idea of adopting a two legged little dog that wasn't actually from Italy. I was going to name it Snooki.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Am I becoming a dog person?

I never thought I would adopt a dog. My wife Sara has always been a dog person. I have not. I have been a person person. Actually, I have been a me person. I find I'm much easier to clean up after than most dogs or people.

I wanted to like dogs, but they had other plans. When I was a baby, a neighbor's dog chased me and tried to bite me. He didn't chase me long - I wasn't very mobile at 11 months. I grew up in an "eh" part of Queens, where most dog owners were dog owners because they wanted to scare kids like me off their property. When you don't own much, you cling to what you have.

I grew up scared of my neighbor's dobermans and german shepherds and various other breeds that commonly patrol junkyards and prisons in the movies. It came to a head when I was 8, playing catch with my brother, Adam. We took a break and sat down across the field from each other. Suddenly, a dog came bearing down on Adam. We weren't old enough to know it was illegal to have a dog off-leash in a city park - but we wouldn't have had time to realize that anyway. The second the dog knocked my brother over, he came for me. Adam was 12. To me, he was enormous - and the dog ran through him with little effort. I was terrified what Kujo would do to me. I ducked - and the dog jumped right over me, kicking me in the head. That's right, I was jump-kicked by a dog. Which is strange, since I don't live in a cartoon.

The dog's owner didn't apologize - and excused the behavior by saying the ever responsible, "oh, he's just playing." Now that I'm an adult and the owner is probably an old man, I would LOVE to track him down and use the same excuse. "Sorry I punched you in the throat. That's just how I play. Aren't I precocious?"

If that was how dogs played, I wanted no part in it. But then I met Sara. And several dozen hours of the Dog Whisperer later, here I am, about to adopt a dog. I have been educated (thanks in part to Cesar Milan's pack leader mentality) that dog's aren't the problem - it's their owners. When a dog's human has no discipline, neither will the dog. That's why that ninja park dog was such an asshole - because his owner was equally an asshole.

Sara convinced me that we would be wonderful to our dog, and thus our dog would be wonderful. Since I'm meeting a dog tomorrow, I sure hope she's right.