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.