Friday, December 31, 2010

The “next dog” conundrum

It occurred to me yesterday that I’m worrying for nothing about what kind of dog to get after Tinky-Winky. Not that I won’t have to face that decision sooner or later, but most likely, it’s going to be much, much later.

Dogs in Tinky-Winky’s family tend to live about 16 years, short of violent death such as cars. Tinky-Winky is 11, but doesn’t look even close to that old, so I’m rather hopeful that she’ll have an exceptionally long life. Twenty is probably too much to ask, but 18 seems plausible enough to me. So that’s seven more years, praise be to God.

After she’s gone, I’ll have a few dog-less years. Partly to avoid the “rebound dog” thing, but much more because I have some projects I want to pursue in life that just aren’t compatible with having a dog. So for a few years, maybe, say, five years, I won’t be looking for another dog. And that makes twelve years.

So let’s say ten to fifteen years, plausibly, before I have to worry about finding a new dog.

But I still worry about it. Partly because I’m not sure whether the things that annoy me with Tinky-Winky are her own idiosyncrasies, or really “breed traits” that I’ll have to put up with again if I get another shiba. I can deal with the attitude (sometimes barely) because I love Tinky-Winky. I don’t think I’d tolerate it from any other dog. Of course I could argue that she was already six years old when I got her, and if I had had her from a puppy, I could have raised her differently.


Maybe not.

So should I take a chance on another shiba when the time comes, or am I better off to go with a less cute but “probably” more cooperative breed like a Norwegian buhund?

It’s not for another ten to fifteen years. Why am I worried about it now? Why don’t I let it go?

Who knows. Talk to The Brain about that.

Another thing that’s begun to nag at me in the Next Dog Conundrum is the realization that the next dog is probably the last dog I’ll ever have. Ten to fifteen years from now plus fifteen years of the next dog’s life means any subsequent dog would almost certainly outlive me, and I don’t want to do that to a dog. So the next dog is gonna be the last dog.

Again, why is this gnawing at me? Who cares? Why does it matter?

It shouldn’t matter. But I have several dog names in mind and I won’t have as many dogs as dog names. I don’t believe in imposing names on dogs anyway; I let the name come to me as I get to know the dog. So I’d like to name my future dogs WHMIS, Riddick, SatÄ«, Shi Huangdi and Cheka, but realistically, at most one of those will happen. Which of these five dogs might cross my path? Each name evokes a specific personality in my mind. But at most one of the five will become real.

It really doesn’t matter. Not for ten to fifteen years. Right now my precious has stacked all her doggy beds and blankets in a neat pile and is sleeping peacefully curled up on top of the pile… with one ear toward the fridge and one ear toward me. The last thing I need to decide now is “shiba or buhund.”

But it keeps gnawing at me.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Greed, thy name is dog

As I was saying yesterday, the dog ate half of a huge steak for Christmas dinner, on top of her regular supper. So afterwards she lay passed out like a snake that has eaten a goat.

After a while I turned her out for a digestive stroll, and when she got back, the first thing she did was… go look for the meat wrapper in the garbage. Excuse me? I told her “leave it”, which is one command she respects pretty consistently. So then she looked expectantly at the microwave and the tops of the counters. She can’t see that high, of course, but she uses this looking-up trick to communicate to me that I’m about to give her something good.

Yeah: no. You had all your regular food plus half of a really expensive steak. And there are kids starving in Africa, by the way. So that’s more than enough for you today.

That’s the species’ entire evolutionary strategy: insatiable greed, complete absence of conscience, and the ability to mutate into shapes that make us think they’re adorable.

But it still beats the average boyfriend.

Of dogs and men

One thing my dog does have in common with the average boyfriend though, is she has “her” side of the bed.

Technically, all sides of the bed are mine. So I’d like to think. However, since I have to turn off the light before I get into bed, I always get into bed on the same side, and so I don’t sleep quite in the middle, and so it appears the dog has decided the other side of the bed is hers. I hadn’t realized that until yesterday, when I had stretched my legs on “her” side and she jumped up, found “her” spot was taken, glared at me, and then made a big show of lying down on my leg as if it was comfortable.


I’m not really full-out Cesar Millan in the rules of the house, but I think this requires firmness on my part. I like having the dog on the bed, but it’s my bed. All of it. Whatever side of the bed I want to sleep on, the dog can bloody well take the other side, or else sleep in her own bed.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Things I love about my shiba

She loves the way I cook meat.

One thing I don’t love about Canada is how people cook meat, especially beef. They marinade the crap out of it, paint it with steak sauce, and then grill it until it’s tough as rawhide. You might as well be eating a steak sauce-flavoured chew toy. My ex especially always said he hated the taste of meat, so he’d buy really expensive cuts and cook them so you’d never know you were eating cow. I don’t see why we couldn’t just have bought tofu and soaked it in steak sauce.

I cook steak the way my father taught me in the Old Country. You get the pan red hot, throw the steak in, flip it, get it out. Ninja steak. If you want seasoning on it, you put a bit of expensive mustard on your plate and apply it to the steak as required.

For Christmas dinner, the dog and I had steak. Today instead of yesterday, because I broke my wrist on the 22nd and yesterday I was still feeling too sick to celebrate anything. And one great thing about having a dog instead of a boyfriend is, the dog has no idea what we’re celebrating or why or when, and it’s all the same to her that we had Christmas dinner a day late.

So I cooked the steak the way I like it. About that, actually, I’ve taken to eating my meat much more rare since I’ve been cooking dog food. Every time I mix a batch of dog food I’m tempted to eat it, which of course I don’t because raw ground beef is not considered safe for human consumption. But on the rare occasions when I eat steak, instead of medium-well like I used to before I had the dog, now I make it rare. Today we had a really expensive piece of meat which was more than an inch thick, so I had to cook the outside for about three minutes to pretend that the inside was gonna be anything other than raw. This didn’t completely succeed; in fact in the thickest parts of the steak, the meat wasn’t even hot. It was dark red throughout and bled profusely. If it had been any less cooked it would have mooed when I poked it with my fork. And so tender, you hardly had to chew it at all.

Dang, that was good.

Tinky-Winky, of course, got half the steak. Probably 100 to 150 grams (4-5 ounces). She ate her share in about four seconds and has been passed out ever since. She’s like a snake that just swallowed a goat.

One other thing Tinky-Winky and I have in common is that when we eat steak, we wash it down with water, not alcohol. That way she doesn’t get crazy and verbally abusive after supper. It’s nice being able to share a holiday dinner with someone who appreciates my cooking and mellows out after eating.

If men were as good as dogs, maybe I wouldn’t be single.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Does your dog eat zucchini?

Mine does. I didn't even know that, as I don't typically cook any, but I had made a zucchini casserole for a potluck, and I had two zucchini left, and I have to eat all my leftover foods before we leave next Tuesday, so I threw something together. Rice, bread crumbs, cheese, zucchini, olive oil and basil. It's not even particularly good by human standards, which is fine because I have no palate anyway.

The dog got super excited about me cooking. I assumed that since I normally cook only for her, she figured I was making her something good. Then when I was eating it, she was staring at me with her big brown greedy little eyes. I figured she was after the rice, bread or cheese, three things she likes to eat. So I gave her the last bite, as I usually do. Including one small piece of zucchini, which I figured she'd eat around.

She ate the zucchini.

Ok, mistakes happen, right?

The next serving, I left her more zucchini and less of the rest. She ate the zucchini. I've now eaten five of the six servings I had created, and she's still loving the zucchini. Today she spat out a big piece and left it on the floor, so I thought, she's finally realizing that dogs don't eat zucchini. I picked it up to go throw it out, but she ran after me, followed by the male cat, who doesn't like anything we eat but begs for it anyway. So I gave Tinky-Winky the zucchini, and she gave it another try. She had a hard time with it because it was so big, so she had to chew it - not a skill dogs are good at, especially for chewing vegetable matter. Their teeth aren't shaped to do that. But, not only she managed to eat the whole piece, but she also gave the cat the evil eye when he tried to get too close to her prey.

Ha. You practically have to mince carrots to make her eat them, but she will have words with a cat over a giant piece of zucchini. What up with that?

Seriously, if you're reading this, do me a favour and leave a comment to let me know whether your dog eats zucchini. I'd like to get a feel for how normal this is.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear cat: I like you as a friend. Get out of my bed.

The roommate's cats like me. Not more than they like her, of course, but she works long hours, so they've seen a lot more of me than of her the last few weeks. They're a bit attached to me. They sit with me and ask me for food. The male especially likes to come into my room and sit on my bed. More specifically, on Tinky-Winky's assigned blanket on my bed.


I like you, cat, but this is my bed. Mine and Tinky-Winky's. You don't get to sleep here. Only Tinky-Winky and I sleep in this bed. Also, I'm allergic to you, so please stay the heck off my pillow.

Also, I think the roommate is not too amused that her cats like me a lot more than my dog likes her. Tinky-Winky likes the roommate more than any prior roommate, but she's a stand-offish and very monogamous little dog. My monogamous little dog.

And I think Tinky-Winky doesn't like how much the cats like me, and the cats don't like how much I like Tinky-Winky. We all get along really well, but there is a small undercurrent of jockeying for each other's affections. Which makes me glad that I've never got a second pet to keep Tinky-Winky company when I'm not home. I know she likes having the cats when no humans are home, but I don't think it's worth more to her than having my undivided love. And I don't feel like dividing my love anyway. Once upon a time I had four cats, two dogs, a horse, and a variable number of tropical fishes. Most of them didn't get nearly the amount of bonding and attention that Tinky-Winky gets.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another reason I'm glad I have a dog

One word: litterbox.

The place with the cats in Calgary is actually very nice for a roommate place, but the litterbox is just off the kitchen. It's sick. Like anybody else, I hate the smell of litterbox, let alone when I'm trying to make food. And even if it didn't smell, I'd rather not have a big box of excrement in the house. It's certainly no worse picking up after the dog than doing the litterbox, and at least the smell stays outside.