Archive for the 'Dancing with Dexter' Category


A dog’s life

Okay, first of all, you have to promise not to laugh. I bought First Son a digital drawing tablet for Christmas, and it looked like so much fun I just acquired one for myself.

I’m just in the early stages of learning how to use it though, and have been completely surprised by how hard it is to draw on one surface while looking at another. Despite my obvious hand-eye coordination, it’s like I don’t really know where the tip of that pen actually is.

Anyway, here’s my first attempt at illustrated humor:

You removed my boy parts. I will never forgive you. Instead I will just lie here, dejectedly, and blink my sad little puppy eyes at you every time you look at me. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Must dance.

Too bad we can’t all get over all of our traumas so easily.


p.s. Hopefully by the next time I will have learned how to at least form legible letters. Or maybe I should stick to impossible yoga poses and Bach.


Goldberg, Variation 1, Take 1

After taking Dex to the vet for his ahem gender revision surgery, spent the morning doing yoga

I will do this. I don't know when, but I will. I'll be sure to let you know

and being Martha Flipping Stewart making Roman blinds for my front windows.

I have some group classes starting soon, so thought I’d calm myself down preemptively get in the mood by practicing a little Bach.

Recorded this on my iPhone on the first take. A little rushed in a couple of places, a little sloppy here and there, but not bad for the first run.

Recording quality isn’t the greatest. . .but I’m going to put it up anyway to try to get me off to a good start.

And, in addition to the order from chaos, it just seems so darn joyful.

Hope you like!

Goldberg variation 1


sniff sniff sniff

Nothing demonstrates a true commitment to evaluating all available options like watching your dog decide where to poop.

Just sayin’.


does anybody know? Now with video

When a dog chases his own tail, does he know it’s his own tail which he is chasing?


the end of the week

1. Dexter the Dancing Dog will go to great lengths to lick the cayenne-laced-butter I’ve applied to the pole that holds the bird feeder (trying to discourage poaching by the resident squirrel population), but will not eat a salt-and-vinegar potato chip. He seems to think it’s trying to attack him.

He also will play outside for an hour and then come in and pee on the kitchen floor. Any suggestions? I’ve just about had it.

2. Nothing tells internet sites to make your passwords not work like your being in a hurry.

3. Komen backed down, and has reinstated funding to Planned Parenthood. Girl power!

(We need a salute — anybody got any ideas?)

Although I just found out that Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms. Why not? Maybe they should.

4. Only Daughter came to me last night with a dental flosser and a request to remove the “seed” from behind her last tooth. It was a new tooth. And lo and behold, there was another one on the other side! She’s 11. Barely. A very tiny 11. Aren’t these supposed to come in around 12 or 13? Hope there’s room. Plus she wanted to know if these were her “smart teeth” like her brother just had taken out.

5.  A girl around 12 fell off the balance beam last night at Only Daughter’s meet, and hit what seemed to be seven points on her way down. She laid on the mat for what seemed to be a really long time while the coach leaned over the beam and encouraged her to get back up. (O.D. sat, a handful of feet away, hands over her mouth in horror.)(She’s terrified of the beam, as well she should be. But still.) The girl stood up, gave the coach “ten,” got back up, and nailed the rest of her routine. I had tears in my eyes. Granted, I was a complete sap yesterday to start with — I also cried over  Billy Collins’ line from On Turning TenI used to believe there was nothing under my skin but light; if you cut me I would shine” while attempting to read it to a student. (It is a really good line. But still. Get a grip forcryin’outloud.)

During the meet First Son called asking for my homemade macaroni and cheese recipe. I emailed it to him. That was kind of fun, in a “look at you all grown up” sort of way. (I can write that because he tells me he doesn’t read this blog anymore. So much for my captive audience.)

6. O. D.’s friends for her birthday sleepover finally just arrived — 13 minutes late. She stood at the window, Dexter in her arms, wondering if they were going to show up or not. I made her a heart cake with chocolate frosting and lots of different kinds of sprinkles, thinking about a colleague of mine whose son just died of complications from Hodgkins disease and a rare blood disorder. He was 26. I was picturing her making him his 11th-birthday cake, and envisioning his life, and not seeing this in a million years. Meanwhile Jeff Buckley sang about how, when his time comes, he knows he will leave the world with a satisfied mind. I wonder how many weeks before he died it was when he recorded that song.

Life’s too short. And too busy.

I suggested to Husband that we quit the ratrace and start an alpaca farm. In Italy. I think he thought I was kidding. I’m not. Well, not completely.

In a not-really related story; a conversation from earlier in the week:

Husband: I think we need to get a more “manly” dog like a German Shepherd or a Wolfhound or something. I feel like such a whimp walking Dexter.

Me: But he’s so cute.

Husband: I know. That’s the problem. He’s all puffy, and plus he doesn’t really walk, he kind of prances and bounds around. It’s humiliating.

Me: Maybe we can put a leather vest and one of those collars with the spikes on him.

Husband: Well that might help a little. Like the really long spikes?

Me: Sure. But think of the attention you can get from women who see you; we’re all saps for cute dogs.

Husband: I saw some women while I was walking him. I think they were laughing at me.

Me: What made you think that?

Husband: Well, they were walking and smiling, and kind of talking out of the corners of their mouths like I wouldn’t notice that they were talking, and then when they met me one of them said, “Okay, that might be just about the cutest dog I’ve ever seen.”

Me: See?

Husband: Exactly. Completely emasculating.

I’m thinking this:

rather than this:

Any thoughts?


Something worthy of the 501st post. . .or maybe not

Politics: Is it really possible that the Republican party can’t come up with someone more viable than Mitt Romney and his millions and his condescension, or Newt Gingrich and his volatility and personal and professional unreliability?

Religion: Read this post by the Circular Runner. (Another one of those “what he said” moments.)

Home: Dexter the Dancing Dog has seriously backslid on potty training. I hope it’s just a teething phase or something. He was with Only Daughter at Only Daughter’s Dad’s (ODD?) house for the weekend — complete upheaval, probably, and I think he missed me. He won’t get out of my lap this morning. He’s very soft and cuddly, so it’s okay.

Culture: Saw two great movies on DVD over the weekend — Contagion and The Conspirator. The whole time I was watching Contagion I was worrying about picking up my own wine glass in case I was going to catch something. And Marion Cotillard has the most beautiful accent I’ve ever heard. Robin Wright was absolutely amazing in The Conspirator, and the issues addressed: the rights of civilians to civilian trials, the beliefs held by people in power that law can and should be suspended in times of “war,” hit way too close to home and the Bush/Iraq era.

Books: Just finished reading Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending. Loved it. Don’t know what to read next. Any suggestions?

Music: Does anyone know how to use Ping? I want to be able to post music for my piano students to listen to. I thought that was kind of what it’s for but I can’t figure out how to use it.

Music part 2: Just finished putting the whole book of Honk! on CD for an area high school for rehearsals. Nothing like trying to learn and record an entire musical in a week, not to mention the 2-hour long argument I had to mediate last night between my digital recorder and iTunes. (I prevailed, finally.) Does anybody know why iTunes insists on reordering things when importing? I had to manually drag all of the tracks around (3 times, because the first two times didn’t seem to transfer correctly) and then when I burned it to the CDs it removed all of the labels from the tracks. REALLY FRUSTRATING! Although I’m sure it has a lot more to do with me not really knowing what I’m doing than about the limitations of the program itself.

Blogging: Two blogs I’ve recently discovered which I’m really enjoying: Redamancylit, where the blogger posts excerpts from various writings, many of them profoundly beautiful; and musicandstroke, written by a friend of mine, a percussionist, who suffered a stroke about a year ago, and who writes about the recovery process and how different life/the world looks afterwards. Check them out!

Family: First Son is about to turn 22. Why does that sound so much older than 21? And Only Daughter will be 11 on Wednesday. Sheesh.

Some pictures from the last week of facebook postings:

And this, just because you can never have too many boots, or cats:



stop me if you’ve heard this one

It’s made its rounds, I’m sure, but as an owner of a very uppity Siamese cat and a very enthusiastic puppy, this is really hitting home these days.

Dexter the Dancing Dog

A Dog’s Diary……..

8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm – Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm – Milk Bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm – Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

A Cat’s Diary…

Day 983 of my captivity….

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.

Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am. Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I will try this again tomorrow, but on the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released – and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now………


a winter’s walk

The poem/observations is/are from a couple weeks ago. The pictures from today.

Hannah strides in front of me in her cupcake fleece pajama pants
and purple parka;
the puppy bounces springily through the snow
as indifferent clouds drift,

and a single tear glitters frozen
on my cheek,
not felt but seen,


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The week, so far, in pictures

Dexter Dog loves peanut butter in his Kong, but I have a real problem with a) paying the boutique prices to buy it in those fancy spray cans and b) putting a knife back into a jar of peanut butter after having stuck it, peanut-butter-laden, into the center of the toy that my dog has licked the previous peanut butter out of. So, we bought Dexter Dog his own peanut butter. As part of my “Truth in Advertising” campaign:



Also, it’s January 11. Even the 12 days of Christmas were over 5 days ago. Unless you’re having a party, and we’re all invited, take down your Christmas lights.


I always wonder if these are the same people who were shopping for presents and listening to carols in October, or their “opposite.”


week 4, but who’s counting?

Many interesting things have been learned in the past few weeks.

Dexter would like to share some of them with you:

1. Sniffing nonchalantly all around the kitchen as a decoy from the true destination — the cat’s food dish — has not been entirely effective. Thinking in a Mr. Magoo voice “What, I’m just wandering around, and just happen to be over here by the cat’s food, but that doesn’t mean anything” doesn’t seem to help either.

2. They still want me to pee outside, even when it’s raining. This seems unreasonable, and I would like to appeal, but I’m not sure of the proper channels, nor that my case would be heard with impartial minds. The cat seems to think I’m a Philistine, but I’m too frightened by all those stairs to see where it is she goes, which leads me to

3. The cat seems to think I’m a Philistine, which reeks of discrimination, and to resent the fact that I “get” to go outside, while she seems to have earned some type of privileged status, of which she does not seem to be the least bit grateful. She stays in the warm comfort of home, and to add insult to injury, gets to eat whenever she bloody well feels like it, whereas I have to wait for The Superior Beings to deign to put my food dish down for what seems like, like 10 seconds? This does not, on the whole, seem to be fair. I would present this argument, but imagine there might be a pithy, meaningless response such as “life’s not fair,” and no meaningful action taken. One must choose how one spends one’s energy, after all.

4. The cat also does not like to “play.” I don’t understand this. I’m nothing if not a barrel of monkeys. I prance, I jump, I prowl, I chase things around the kitchen and bite at their legs. This is “fun.” She, on the other hand, only minces around the kitchen on her dainty little paws, and yowls and hisses at the slightest provocation, and seems particularly perturbed when I try to initiate the bite-her-legs game while she is eating from her omnipresent cat dish. On second thought, perhaps she just does not like to have her meals interrupted. I will try again tomorrow.

5.  There are yummy things to be found out in the greenery out by the back fence (near where the “hammock” whatevertheheckthatis used to be), and under the deck. I can’t understand why my owners are so distressed when I try to bring bits of these things into the house, nor what they mean when they say I have “dog breath” and “might end up with worms,” or perchance need to have something called “greenies.” Note to self: research this at the first opportunity. I think they might be overreacting.

6. They give me these stick things I like to chew, (Yum!), but they won’t stay in my crate. I need either solid walls, or opposable thumbs.  I also need to learn how to spell opposable.

7. I hate to keep returning to this peeing thing, but sometimes, when I pee outside, I get a treat, and sometimes I only get pats and cheers. This inconsistency is confusing. Does anyone know if something could be done about this? I also like to pee and poo where I choose, and having to be on this thing called a “leash” is really messing up my mojo. Even if I run over to the neighbor’s yard, I’ll come back, eventually. What’s the worry?

Finally, here’s a clip of a humiliating moment from this morning. The things I do to make these people happy.

Dancing Dexter, kind of


(cats and) dogs and what Cesar doesn’t tell you

Those of you who have been here before know we have recently acquired a dog.

He’s a very sweet dog, and very fun. He springs around like the little dog in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons and dances on his hind feet when he’s excited and as soft as a puff of cotton, and, when he’s doing the things that puppies do, like pee and poo in the house or whimper in their crates at night because they’d rather cuddle up with you on your nice warm down comforter, he brings out the impatient side of me I haven’t seen since my children were toddlers. It seems to be kind of mild rage that surges, just below the surface, when they — puppies, small children — refuse (!) to behave in a rational manner.

Such as: Dexter hates to get his feet wet. It’s November, in Michigan. This means, when we go out to the “potty place” he has to walk across a deck and out into the leaves, and it being November (and now December) in Michigan, it’s often raining or trying to snow, and the deck and leaves are therefore cold, and wet. So I coax him out the back door with the smell of bits of hot dog in my hand, and coax him across the deck with gentle tugs on the leash, and then he stands there, shivering on the leaves, looking at me pathetically over his shoulder, and not peeing. I try “calm/assertive” (Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer; CW: “Cesar’s Way“): “Dexter, go potty.” (I say this every time he goes potty. I try not to feel ridiculous. Like, Duh? Why else would we be standing out here shivering in the rain at 3:30 a.m.?) I try calm/very assertive: “Dexter, go POTTY.” I try beseeching: “Dexter, go potty, PLEASE?.” Then I try reason: “If you’d go potty we could go back in the house.”

It doesn’t work.

CW: Don’t use too many words. Words aren’t words to a dog, they’re just noises, so keep the commands simple: go potty, no, tsssst (bad), click/click with your tongue (good), etc.

He also doesn’t eat much. I measured out 3/4 c. of food yesterday morning, there’s still 5/8 c. in his bowl. We don’t give him that many treats. He had 2/32 of a hot dog this morning to get him across the deck (after he peed on the deck step), and a half of a Kong (the smallest size available) worth of peanut butter yesterday. This is not enough food. I put the bowl down 3 times a day for 15 minutes each time; I coax him over by shaking it, he eats three kibbles. He then sniffs the whole perimeter of the kitchen, while I try to decide if it’s benign-dog-investigating-the-terrain sniffing or a I-wonder-where-is-a-good-place-to-pee sniffing, which means I don’t get a single thing done when I’m home because I’m constantly craning my neck trying to keep him in sight. After 15 minutes I put his food up, and then spend the next 5 hours trying to keep him from eating the cat food.

CW: Stand in front of the cat food, make eye contact with the dog (the dog is 5″ high, btw) and say, in a calm/assertive way, “No.” You should only have to do this 3 times.


Maybe he means three times per half hour. Maybe the eye contact is important, and would work better if the dog weren’t 5″ high.

Dexter also doesn’t like to be left alone. If I leave the kitchen (where he is kept for now, until he can be trusted not to pee wherever the urge strikes him, which, as far as I can tell, might be NEVER), he stands at the door and whimpers. Of course, if I’m in the room with him he pays very little attention to my presence. The same thing happens outside. We have a pretty big yard, and a fair portion of the back of it was fenced by a previous owner, and he loves to run around on the deck and sniff the knothole that serves as the entrance to the chipmunk’s home*, and scoot acorns around with his nose, and jump through the leaves (wet or not; it doesn’t seem to matter if the leaves are wet unless he’s supposed to be peeing). But if I go inside, even for a minute, he gallops to the door and stands there and whimpers. Of course, if I come out, he runs off and completely ignores me, so I guess I’m supposed to just stand there with my hands in my pockets.

CW: A dog can be cured of his/her separation anxiety very easily. When he/she is distracted by play, walk around a corner or to another side of the fence. When he/she begins to display anxiety over your absence, step into view, say “Quiet,” and wait for him/her to calm down. Then walk away again. After doing this a few times, your dog will learn to relax, comfort themselves, and go about their play.

I tried this today. He was outside, running around through the puddles (it was okay, he didn’t need to pee), scooting acorns around with his nose, etc. I walked into the house so I could peep through the front windows to see if Only Daughter’s bus had come, and he ran to the sliding glass door and pawed at it with his paws and whimpered. I came into view, said “Quiet,” he stopped whimpering, etc. We did this twenty seven times over ten minutes. He would wander off for 20-30 seconds after he could see me. But then some little puppy voice in his head would say “Wait; Where is She? Is She Still There? What if She’s Left Me All Alone or Never Lets Me in the House Again?” (If only that voice would say, “This would be a lot less likely if I stopped shitting on the kitchen floor, chewing on the kitchen table legs, and whining at 3:00 a.m.” I can dream I guess.)

I want a level of rationality that I’m just not going to get. I know this.

Cesar claims that, if you are completely consistent in your housebreaking habits, it can happen in a few days. Cesar is lying. We try to take comfort that he (Dexter, not Cesar) now whimpers in his crate if he has peed in it (so we can clean it up for him, I presume), and that occasionally he paws at the sliding door to go out, and sometimes this means that he needs to go out to go potty. Sometimes he’s just trying to get us to let him outside to play, so now we somehow have to teach him the difference between pawing at the door to go outside to pee, vs. waiting for us to take him outside to play.


And the cat, Sophie, is pissed.

She’s a Siamese. I think she might have played the role of the one on the right.

I can imagine her complaints:

First of all, he just got here, and gets to go outside already.

If she wants to eat she has to climb over the wall of boots or shoes or towels we’ve created to keep Dexter out of her food.

And she looks at him with utter disdain. She thinks he’s a total cretin. “You pee and poop in your house? You don’t clean up after yourself? What’s the MATTER with you?”

I mean, think about it — you show a cat ONCE where the litter box is, and you never need to show him or her again.

This ought to at least get her some kind of elite status or something.

She does balance it out by her insistence on trying to climb the Christmas tree, so it’s not like she’s perfect or something. She just thinks she is.

Dexter just wants to play. That’s probably not helping.

Anyway, puppies are cute for the same reason babies are cute. It’s the single most important factor in their survival to adolescence. Not sure what kicks in then; investment of time, I guess.

Dexter asleep in my lap. Look how cute he is!

And now a brief tribute to Husband. He didn’t really want a dog. They are a lot of work, and he likes for us to have freedom to come and go if things come up on weekends or road trips, etc. He also likes life to be as regular and calm and predictable as possible, and none of these things are true when you have a puppy in the house. But he conceded that if we really wanted a dog, he wasn’t going to stand in our way, and that he would be perfectly fine with taking care of the dog when I or Only Daughter were unavailable.

Every time the dog wakes us up at night, or pees in the kitchen, or whatever, Husband is calm and patient and just does what needs to be done. He also comforts and reassures me in the middle of the night when I am upset or worried that puppyhood is going to last forever and I’ve ruined our lives. He is the Best Husband Ever, although I sometimes wonder if maybe we would all be better off if, rather than comforting and humoring me, someone tempered my Pathological Optimism a little wee bit.

But maybe not.

In any case, as Husband says, we now have a dog. We will Make the Most of It.


*These chipmunks are, in his own words, Husband’s “Mortal Enemy.” They burrow around under trees and plants and weaken foundations. Every once in a while we’ll be talking in the kitchen, and he’ll look out the back door and get this pensive, distant look in his eye, and I imagine he is thinking some profound thought or discovering the cure for cancer or something, and then he suddenly, quietly leaves the house. I have learned that this signals a chipmunk sighting, and wait expectantly for the sound of the pellet gun (or whatever it is; what I know about guns is only exceeded by what I know about everything else) and either his victorious reappearance or a prolonged absence as he lurks in the shadows, waiting for the little rodent to reappear.

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