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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Spittin' Nickels

Sometimes, my goodlady wife and I do things that are rather a tad beyond our means.

Last April, bought a used Volvo. I'm still trying to reconcile the decision and the guilt, and the oil changes that now cost $48.00 instead of $39.00 because of the special, hotsy-totsy filters. People like us should not have Volvos.

Our ridiculous-looking, struggling-to-get-out-of-the-sixties kitchen has a brand-new cork floor. Every time I walk on its warm, smooth surface, I feel like an impostor. People like us should not have cork floors.

Yesterday, a dog trainer came to our home, for two hours, to give us scads of knowledge, techniques, and one-on-one attention to attempt to fix our broken, adopted dog, Molly. People like us should not have personal dog trainers who make housecalls.

I was prepared for this visit by Wendy, the dog trainer, to be painful. I expected tears from my wife, and barely concealable frustration and rage from me, but neither happened. And it wasn't especially painful, either. Perhaps this was because we were outside for one hour and forty-five minutes' worth of the two hours Wendy spent in our presence, in 30 degree weather. Who can feel pain when one's extremities are all numb? Actually, I do admit to feeling a twinge of... we'll call it "discomfort" when I wrote out the check for $235.00.

"Don't forget," Wendy said, presumably to re-install a little color into my blanched cheeks, "that includes two weeks of telephone 'tech support'."


Don't get me wrong-- I like Wendy, and she wasn't even remotely attractive. I like that she was outside with us for an hour and forty-five minutes in jeans, boots, and a lime green North Face fleece.

"I can't believe you're not even wearing a jacket," I said, ever the Jewish nag.

"I've been outside in winter working with horses since I was twelve-- I'm good," she said with a confident smile.

Everything about her was confident, and I think it might have been a little contagious. She was full of quaint and colorful colloquialisms, which, uttered by anybody else would probably have instilled in me the urge to garotte-- or at least roll my eyes-- but I didn't mind when Wendy said things like, "Look, if she's standing still and not pullin', that's good enough for me. She doesn't have to be sittin' down. She can be standin' on her head spittin' nickels if she wants."

She taught our dog commands to listen for, which she reinforced liberally with training treats. She taught our dog to want to be good on the leash. She taught us patience.

"She wants to watch the cat movie without pulling and going berserk? Fabulous prizes. She walks next to you for five seconds without pulling? Fabulous prizes. She goes on a walk down the block without pulling your arm off, and she looks at you when you call her name? Fabulous. Prizes."

"You gotta meet this gal where she is, where she lives. Right now, she thinks that pullin' is the way to go. That's what she knows. And you guys give in because you know, 'She's gotta poop in 15 minutes or else I'm going to be late'-- you've gotta let go of that."

"Look for small miracles," Wendy advised. "You don't take your two-year-old to the five-star restaurant right off the bat. Get all the antisocial stuff out of the way at McDonald's and work your way up the star ratings from there."

Right now, Molly isn't exactly McDonald's material. Maybe the dumpster behind McDonald's.

But we're trying.




The last one might just be more about us than it is about Molly. We've got to wait for her to get her ya-ya's out. For her to mature. For her to listen. For her to grow. And we've got to wait for our patience to catch up with us, with our expectations.

In the meantime, it's going to be a struggle, there's going to be lots and lots of phone calls to Doggie Tech Support Central, but, God... she's beautiful, just beautiful when she's sleeping.

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