Intact Males

I get a lot of spam for erectile disfunction.

There’s an old monastery near me where I hike. The friars are long gone, but the acres are still there to enjoy. It’s a lovely tract of land and it has…wait for it…silence.

Last week we had a spectacular spring day. Off I went, and since it was a weekday no one was there. Only rabbits, turtles, geese and other sweet creatures. While I was on a remote wooded trail, two huge dogs came running towards me. Massive exquisite animals about 100lbs. or more.

Good thing I’m not afraid of dogs. I said, “Hi guys!” and their tails wagged and we were good. I think they had Great Dane, Rottweiler…maybe Doberman in them — I couldn’t identify the breed exactly. Both were dark-colored and one was brindled. They hung around with me as we enjoyed the woods, my new friends moving beautifully in tandem. After a while it occurred to me that there was no owner in sight. Unaccompanied minors!

I’m going to try and keep this short because it’s taken me several days to get this done. I saw the dogs a couple more times and I wound up my jaunt. As I was getting into my car, a Mercedes station wagon pulled up near me. A pleasant upper middle lady of a certain age got out and smiled at me (and I to her). She took two suburban-pampered-rescue-virtue-signaling-whatever Greyhounds out of the back. We exchanged inconsequential polite noises and I thought to alert her to the two dogs running around unattended. She was nice, thanked me, and then she irately said, “You know, I saw two intact males on Kimball Road!” Per usual, I had no idea what she meant; I think I was distracted because I was registering that she just had a close encounter with her inner Karen.

We wrapped it up; she went for her dog walk and I got into the car. It was then that it dawned on me what she meant. Intact males! She meant the dogs — maybe! I burst out laughing.

My family always had dogs, large ones and male. We never “fixed” them — interesting term. They had a lot of land to roam on and they were perfectly happy and healthy and lived to ripe old ages. Our last dog was a little more “humpy” than the others, so my mother suggested that we have him neutered. My father absolutely forbade it; he was pretty upset over the thought of it. I’m wondering if his primary concern was that he didn’t want my mother getting any ideas. My father had his way and the dog kept his testicles. The end.

What has happened? Where did we go? Hypoallergenic dogs, countless unspoken rules, the suburbanization of all viewpoints, make things “safe,” controlling every aspect of our lives so that no one draws outside the lines. WTF?

Intact Males! Can’t have that!

Clare

Pâté for the Partay? Or, the Zen of Eddie

I have a cat who is 16 years old, which is 80 in cat years. Lizzie is still fairly active, still makes trouble, and inevitably messes with my head. That’s how I know she’s okay. She’s always been a picky eater and finding wet food that she likes is challenging. When I discover a flavor she will eat, stupidly I buy it again, and she looks at me like, “What the hell is this?” and walks away. A friend of mine, who has five cats, holds to the axiom: the stinkier the better – and that has been true for her royal highness who lives in my home.

The problem with the wise axiom is that we are in the era of “gourmet” “healthy” cat food. Stinky is hard to come by. Rachel Ray’s Nutrish line – phew…Lizzie isn’t having it. Finally out of desperation I went to PetSmart or Petco – I’m not sure. I found many aisles of fancy cat food, bowls, and more nonsense than you’d ever need. My eyes glazed over and I asked the cashier if someone could help me.

I was roaming the aisles when a tall elegantly turned-out older gentleman came walking towards me. I liked him immediately. He had a slightly amused smile and he put on Kelly green glasses to read the labels. He looked like a classical or jazz musician – menthol cool. How had he landed on planet pet store? I told him about my fussy eater and mentioned that she only eats pâté. Shredded, bits – no way. So, this nice gentleman and I looked for pâté in the various brands. He was enjoying the play on words and was saying “pâté for the partay” which was cute. We found one brand which had a picture of a cat wearing a bow tie and a black tuxedo…? I must be an advertiser’s nightmare because I don’t understand what I’m supposed to infer from the image. Is the cat James Bond or a maître d’? I pointed this out to my fellow explorer and we continued goofing on more words and pictures: “Hereinafter called The Pâté of the First Partay…!” We actually found a couple of cans that Lizzie ate. Isn’t it great when you randomly meet people who are enchanting?

I returned the following week to restock and hoped I would run into my new friend, but I did not. The third visit I saw him again and he was working the cash register. His name tag read: Eddie. Eddie was having a good time with the lady ahead of me, and when it was my turn, I reminded him that he helped me and we enjoyed more banter. Eddie definitely  marches to a different beat. Jealous? Sure I am! What is Eddie’s Zen secret? He’s present and enjoys the moment. I am hoping some of Eddie will rub off on me.

How do I know I don’t have Eddie’s Zen? A couple of days ago I was telling a friend about the “decor” that my neighbors “adorn” on and around their front door. This situation is worthy of its own post, at least for me, but I’ll leave it for now. I realized that I was ranting way too long, and my friend, Blanca, is just wonderfully calmly and understandingly listening. God bless tolerant friends! She is definitely closer to Eddie Zen than I.

For me, I have a long way to go.

Exhaling,

 

 

Clare

“Cat Yelp” cartoon by Paul Noth, The New Yorker. 2018

Adventures in Dog Walking

I started a blog post, on a completely different topic, over a week ago…to my chagrin I have yet to finish it. I’ve been busy and finding a block of time is not as easy as I thought. So, in the interim, I will rely on my trusted fallback topic — pets, and my trusted fallback source of information — my friend Will. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Will walks dogs in my beloved nearby coastal village. And, as I have also related before, this community is an affluent one, so not only do the people live well, so do the dogs. How nice for them, don’t you think? Will has one client who rescued a dog from Hurricane Katrina 10+ years ago, pretty neat.

Here are some of Will’s favorite dogs: Maverick (photo above), or Sir Maverick as Will refers to him, probably because he is a big Lab – over 125 lbs. Hard to tell from this photo how big he is, but what a sweetie! You’ve already met Frank (one of my favorites) in the post “Dogville,” and Freckles in the recent post “Cardinal Points.” Speaking of Freckles, Will and I were talking yesterday — he stopped by to see me, and he reached into his coat pocket for something and accidently pulled out this: What is this? Well it’s a fancy “poopy bag” from the pet store! Special baggies for the dog’s “business.” These cracked us up — first of all the hearts, like the dog cares! But also what do these cost? And you have to go to a special store to buy them…they are not just in the pet aisle at the supermarket! It’s all because we love them!

Here’s another sweetie pie that Will walks: his name is Dexter. He’s a little bit of an older fellow, and Will explained to me that he has a bit of a “backstory” too. Dexter had a herniated disk a couple of years ago, and sometimes his back legs give out and they go limp. Will says when that happens, “All you can do is be there for him emotionally and keep him still until his legs recover. And every time he greets me with his favorite toy: a purple octopus.” Adorable!

I think Will is really tuned into his clients. He’s like the intuitive Dog Whisperer. Another nice remark he made, “I love every dog I walk and I really know them, and they love me too.” Indeed, animals know who understands them. And loves them.

Clare Irwin

Postcards from the Cardinal Points

My wonderful friends have been kind enough to send me photos from their respective locations: some have moved to new surroundings, some are vacationing. I thought my readers may enjoy a shorter post and more photos, so here we go: Cardinal Point North: Greenland at sunrise.

 

 

 

Cardinal Point South: Florida and Haiti.

Freckles on his walk with Will. Cardinal Point East:

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, the majestic Cardinal Point West: Washington State:

Enjoy!

Clare Irwin

Dogville – Part I: Celebrity Spotting & Part II: Size Doesn’t Matter

I’ve mentioned my friend Will in a few other posts. Will is an excellent source of humorous observation. Among the many things he does, Will walks dogs in my favorite seaside town that I’m always going on about. The other day he texted me a comment and photo about a dog he walks. He’s been walking this particular dog for a while, but suddenly looking at him he realized that the dog bore an uncanny resemblance to Frank the grouchy Pug from the original Men In Black movie. Here decide for yourself.

As you can see Frank is camera shy which confirms to us it is actually the real Frank. Will says this is as much as he could get Frank to look at him. Another sign of celebrity! So, in case you were wondering, Frank is living the good life in retirement and is still fairly uncooperative.

 

 

I have another friend, a lovely young woman who I have known for some time, but only recently I learned about her little dog who she adores. I think it’s a Chihuahua but I am not positive. She only weighs 2 pounds! Our cat weighs 12! She is thinking of breeding her perhaps this coming spring, and I can’t imagine how tiny the litter will be. I find it endearing and touching the love my friend has for her dog, and what I like most is that the dog’s name is Peggy Maria. That knocks me out. Her name is bigger than she is! Here are some pictures of two best friends, and once again reminds us that love comes in all packages and sizes.

Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Clare Irwin

P.S. I just learned that Peggy Maria is a miniature Doberman — not a Chihuahua!

P.P.S. Frank was spotted on the cover of this week’s New Yorker! Looks like he has the right idea.

 

 

 

To All the Pets We’ve Loved Before…

…and will again and after.

Bull Dog

Bull Dog

A dear young friend of mine lost her beloved pet this past Thursday night. This young lady is a special soul, intelligent, sensitive, creative and loving. A wonderful person, beautiful inside and out. She possesses the pale beauty and perfect features that one sees in paintings of the Northern Renaissance — I am thinking of Jan van Eyck as an example. She loved her pet and cared for her in a fashion that was so touching. My heart aches for her loss. Many of us know the grief of saying our goodbyes to the pets we love with all our hearts: dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, all of them. Of course there is other devastating grief. But I am thinking of this unique and wonderful bond we are able to have with these beautiful creatures who simply love us.

Girl with horse

Girl with horse

Whether it’s a pet from long ago or a recent loss we hold the memory of them in our hearts. They stay with us always.

Baby Mice

Baby Mice

I remember vaguely a movie where a man thinks he has died and gone to heaven. He awakens on a beautiful deserted beach and a dog comes happily running up to greet him. The man says, “Oh, I was hoping there would be dogs here.” Nice. I’m hoping and believing that all the creatures we love will be there too. I recall in prep school singing the lovely Anglican hymn, “All things bright and beautiful,/All creatures great and small,/All things wise and wonderful,/The Lord God made them all…I realize that not everyone shares this belief, but I hope all can take comfort that wherever our lovely pets are they are happy and frolicking and forever beautiful and well.

Black Cat

Black Cat

Clare Irwin

P.S. I hope you will share your remembrances of your much loved pets with me.

 

On the Corner of Cranky and Crabby

CrankyOk, the heat is getting to everyone. Sunday mornings I attend church and I love the fact that it’s not air conditioned – it’s an old stone building which stays fairly cool. There’s lots of fans and it’s nice because the windows are open and you can see the trees and hear the birds. I know I’m in the minority about the a/c. Today is relentlessly hot with no breeze and everyone was a bit sticky after an hour of service. I hung around for refreshments, and had a pleasant conversation with an acquaintance about a recent business trip she made to Singapore.. There was also some Pokémon contest afterwards, but not many people hung around because it was too hot.  One guy said, in the context of the Pokémon event, “Soon we’ll all be living inside our phones!” That statement was received by the two women standing next to him with crabby grumbles.  I could feel the crankiness descending on my fellow parishioners, so I left. Crab

I took a walk around the water which was fairly deserted. Everyone had retreated to the indoors and the cool. I did encounter a father with a baby in a stroller and a little boy around 3 or 4 years old. Cute as a button and he was pushing his bike along beside him. He stopped and turned to me — big blue eyes and light brown curls and said, “Hello my name is Brooks.” I introduced myself and told him I was happy to make his acquaintance. His father was busy on his phone and gave this exchange no attention (maybe he was playing Pokémon?). I also saw some dogs at the dog park having a great time drinking from and playing with a garden hose.

Then I went to the supermarket where everyone seemed to be in a bad mood. Two kids were fighting over a phone — Pokémon again? While I was there, I got a call from one of my kids who unbeknownst to me is on a camping trip in Vermont. The tentative plan of not letting the entire summer go by without reading or maybe thinking about college or whatever seemed entirely forgotten. So now I’m hearing myself on the phone — and it sounds like she’s on stage at a concert — I’m competing with whatever is way more interesting than my now cranky dose of reality that I’m delivering! I have officially arrived at cranky and crabby too. We ended the call deciding to table this conversation till tomorrow in person. But as I drove home, I had a hard time shaking the cranky and crabby feeling. So, you know what? I’m going to think about Brooks and his insouciance and the dogs having a grand old time with a plain garden hose and take a leaf out of their book.Pokemon

Clare Irwin