Gentle Humor

Suzanne Olsen's Humor Blog – I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Category: Pets Page 1 of 3

A Fish Tale for Mother’s Day

This goldfish will be 15 years old next month (June, 2020), if he lives that long…

Have I got a fish tale to tell you. Friday morning I got up around 7 and found our 14 year old goldfish at the bottom of the tank, his fins clamped close, his eyes cloudy, his tail ragged – all very bad omens for a fish. I turned his light on and sprinkled food in the water like I always do. The flakes swirled around him like snow but he didn’t move. Didn’t even twitch. In almost 15 years of life, this fish has always wiggled and splashed and opened his mouth wide to snatch at the food – it’s actually kind of cute the way he carries on. I knew something was seriously wrong. The fish is like me – it lives to eat.

I went to Google right away and of course everyone said the problem was dirty tank water. Goldfish eat a lot and excrete a lot, and ammonia builds up, and nitrites and nitrates. It’s what causes most goldfish to go belly up a few days after your daughter brings one home in a little plastic bag all excited crying, “Look what I won, Mommy, look what I won!” Which is how we ended up with this fish in 2005. 

That tank is clean. To get the dirty water out, I siphon 25% of the tank into a bucket like some juvenile delinquent stealing gas from his neighbor’s car, and put fresh water in about every other day. The water is crystal clear and debris free. So Google said to use garlic water as a tonic. I smashed three cloves of garlic into hot water and let them infuse for about an hour, and put some peeled, frozen peas in there too. Goldfish love peas.

Meanwhile I sucked the water out again, even though I’d done a water change the day before, just in case. I reached my hand in with the siphon hose and the fish swam slowly away as I got closer, and moved faster when I bumped him a couple of times, which I thought was a good sign. After I strained the chunks out, I poured the garlic water into the tank, and he gobbled up one of the peas right away. A good omen. I figure as long as something will eat, it’ll be okay. The only side effect was the acrid smell of raw garlic wafting through the house.

You may think this is a lot of attention to give to an old fish that has cost me a fortune over the years in food, filters, gadgets, and medicine, and the many hours and much money I spent on the new tank and accessories and the new stand I made (click on my rant about that). You’d think putting the belly-up fish in an unmarked grave in the back yard would be a relief. But I would feel guilty for years. Did I change the water enough? Too much? Did I overfeed? Underfeed? What did I do wrong – the fish looked great yesterday, and now he’s all ragged and mangy looking. I knew I had to fix the fish or suffer the pangs of guilt. 

Around 10am I got a call from my husband. “How’s that fish?” An odd question – he doesn’t even like the fish because the tank bubbles all the time in the background while he’s trying to watch TV.  

I said, “He’s really sick.”

“I found him on the tile this morning,” he said.

“What tile?”

“The tile floor. In the entryway.”

“The fish was on the floor?”

“Yeah when I was leaving about 5:45 this morning, I walked in and saw something on the floor. I thought ‘what the heck is that?’ Luckily the light was on or I probably wouldn’t have seen him.”

“He jumped out of the tank?”

“Yeah he jumped out of the tank. I went over to see what was on the floor and bent down and saw the dead fish. It was as dry as a bone. So I got the dustpan and scooped it up to throw it in the garbage, and its tail moved. ‘Damn,’ I thought – I was happy to see him go. I carried him in the dustpan over to the tank, picked him up by the tail and lowered him into the water. I lifted him up and down a few times until his gills started moving, then I let go. He sunk to the bottom and just sat there, but he was alive when I left for work.”

“That fish jumped out of the tank and shimmied three feet over the carpet and ended up on the tile?”

“Yeah, and there was a little blood under him too, from the gills. I wouldn’t have even seen him if the light wasn’t on.”

“Well, the dog was squirming in bed at 4:30 so I let her out, fed her and left her with the light on in the living room and went back to bed.”

“Well, it’s a good thing, because I probably wouldn’t have seen that fish.”

After I hung up, my feelings went from relief that it wasn’t my neglect, to pity for the poor fish hitting the hard floor and flopping around for who knows how long, to irritation. Stupid fish. He had to be lined up just perfectly in order to get out of the small opening I leave in the lid so he can get plenty of oxygen.

Here’s what I think happened. Lots of trees grow around our one-level house. Branches fall all the time and they sound like someone dropped an anvil on the roof, and for the last couple of days an east wind has been howling. I’d cleaned the fish’s filters and put in fresh water the day before, so the water was very high. That fish has always been extremely skittish. I think a big limb dropped and made a boom when he was in the perfect position, and because of the higher water, he flinched himself right out of the tank. Then he flopped three feet across the carpet to the tile floor, which explains why he was so dry, and then he was just about dead when my husband found him.

That evening when Scott came home from work we had a few laughs about the fish, and marveled at the coincidences that caused his life to be saved. If our 19 year old dog had slept in, the light would have been off and he might have even stepped on the fish and slid across the tile like he’d stepped on a banana peel. Or if he had left for work a few minutes earlier or later, the fish would be dead. After we’d explored all the scenarios that could have happened, he said, “Somebody around here is cooking something. Can’t you smell that? It’s making me hungry.”

“It’s the garlic,” I said, and explained about the tonic. He’s used to the “natural” remedies I’ve always used on our kids and pets, so he just shook his head and laughed.

PS: It’s been 48 hours and the fish is still alive – though he looks pretty ragged, but his appetite is as robust as ever. Always a good sign.

This fish tale is my Happy Mother’s Day present to all of you Mothers of both children and pets. Bless you all! 

DIY Projects (or Am I Crazy?)

Like many of you, I’ve been passing the time doing projects I’ve put off for a long time. The video shows what I’ve done. The narrative below reveals the challenges (screw-ups) that befell me doing them.

Projects I’ve been working on

I get inspired to do most of my “Do It Yourself” projects because I’m cheap.  I wanted to update our guest room comforter but couldn’t find anything I liked. I guess that’s not strictly true. I found things I like, but to afford them I would have to sell one, and maybe two, of my vital internal organs. 

Being fond of my kidneys and such, and what with extra time on my hands, and since the fabric store is about the only thing open, I decided to make the comforter. Theoretically, it’s pretty easy to do. It’s basically like making a sandwich. You take a top hunk of fabric and a bottom hunk of fabric (the bread), and you put some batting in between (the cheese). Sew them together and wallah, you’ve got a tasty comforter!

Like any recipe the problem comes in the execution. How big a hunk of fabric? How thick should that batting be? Too thick and it’ll be hard to get in my mouth.

Did I go too far with the sandwich analogy? I’m trying to say, in a clever way, that when I sew it’s always a recipe for misery. After much searching I finally found a nice cotton fabric at Joann’s I liked but they only had one yard left. It takes five to six yards to make a comforter with 45” wide fabric. I bought their one yard and ordered more online and, because I lack the most basic measuring skills, I didn’t order enough. When I went online to order more, it was sold out. From a financial standpoint, I was into this fabric too deep to scrap it and look for something else – I didn’t even get it on sale! So I pieced fragments together to make the back of the comforter – it’s the Frankenstein side.  

Anyone who’s ever talked to me during a project knows that I engage in myriad mistakes. It’s not from lack of planning, because I’m meticulous with making sketches and figuring out what I need to do. It’s lack of concentration. For instance, if you were making a shirt, would you sew one sleeve on backwards so that the sleeve would be inside out when you put the shirt on? Of course you wouldn’t. This is a mess you’d have the sense to avoid.  But I do it all the time. I sewed the wrong side of that comforter to the right side. It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s almost like I have to go out of my way to screw up. 

It’s why my friend Laurie says she’s buying stock in seam rippers – those little gadgets that help you undo the mistakes you made so you can start over. She knows that I sew every seam three times and rip it out twice. The floor around my sewing machine looks like someone got a haircut and didn’t sweep it up, but on closer inspection it’s mounds and mounds of ripped-out thread.

In the video you’ll see the cute black-and-white-checked gingham around the edge of the comforter – I had to put that on there, not because it would enhance its beauty, but because I cut the fabric too short and the comforter wouldn’t cover the bed.

Unfortunately, I’m also tenacious. Any other person, after re-doing a project so many times, would toss the unfinished nightmare into a garbage can and go have a tall glass of wine, but not me. Once I got that comforter looking okay (on the front – I’ll never show you the back), I made pillow shams out of the leftover scraps. Then I made the lumpy bolster out of the extra gingham. Never made a bolster before, and I’ve since figured out how to make it un-lumpy, but it would require taking it apart and I’m sick of the whole thing. Sick sick sick. Besides, the lumps give it character, don’t you think?

Then I wanted some nice cotton sheets and bought two different sets that were awful. Not so long ago you could get a decent set of all-cotton sheets on sale at Penney’s for about fifty bucks. For that now you get a sheet set made in India, packaged like a dream, but as soon as you wash them you have a wadded up ball, fresh out of the dryer, with more wrinkles than a Shar Pei puppy, all covered in little goosebump pills, and they cling to your pj’s like Velcro when you try to roll over. There are nice cotton sheets out there, but for some reason (probably a conspiracy) they cost a fortune.

I used this pumice stone to rough up the crispy cotton sheets to make them softer.
I used this pumice stone to rough up the crispy cotton sheets to make them softer.
I used the vacuum to get up the debris from the pumice stone.
I used the vacuum to get up the debris from the pumice stone.

So I made my own. Crazy, yes, but this premium muslim fabric I got from Joann’s was so nice, and on sale! When I washed it, however, it was like grandma’s fried chicken – extra crispy. I asked Google what to do and followed the suggestion to rough up every inch of the sheets with a pumice stone. Not only did I make my own sheets, I made my own brushed cotton. I had to rip out and re-sew that fitted sheet at least ten times because it didn’t fit, but the sheets are very nice – I’ve tested them out many times when my husband’s snoring starts sounding like a roaring jet with a coughing engine.

Oh, and by the way, I found some wonderful cotton sheets online from – they feel a lot like my muslim sheets (after the brushing). They’re only $100 but such nice quality. They won’t be as soft after you wash them, but if you love crisp (but not finger-lickin’ crispy), thick cotton sheets, you won’t find a better deal anywhere for this quality.  

The other project was a new tank stand for our 14 year old goldfish. (Thanks to my daughter for bringing a goldfish home as a prize from 6th grade – oh, and thanks to the elementary school for awarding live fish to innocent children to break their hearts when they go belly-up the next day or giving them one that just WON’T die, and for all the years I’ve sucked water out of that tank to keep it clean, and all the broken filters I’ve replaced, and all the disposable carbon cartridges I’ve bought, and my deafness from cranking up the TV to hear it above the constant gurgling of that stupid tank, and for the way that fish shimmies whenever I walk by to entice me to give it more food, which I do sometimes because it’s kind of cute but then it craps more so I have to siphon out the tank and change the water more often.)

The 10 gallon tank on a little bookcase that definitely wouldn't hold a 20 gallon tank.
The 10 gallon tank on a little bookcase that definitely wouldn’t hold a 20 gallon tank.

After 14 years the fish was getting too big for his 10 gallon tank – truth be told he was probably too big for it at 10 years but I figured that surely he was about to die so why bother. The existing stand wouldn’t hold the bigger tank, so I needed a new one and couldn’t find one to fit the space and that I liked (and you know what I mean when I say “liked”).

Here’s the summary of that project: Measured the space, bought a bunch of 2 x 6’s, measured the boards, cut the boards. Put oil-based urethane on them and got high on the fumes for days as I worked. Drilled screw holes to assemble the table. Oops, drilled holes on the wrong side. Drilled new holes. Screwed in the screws and put together a few boards and oops, unscrewed them because what I thought was the top was actually the bottom. Wrote “top” and “bottom” on assorted boards.

Started re-assembling and realized I didn’t measure the boards right. Had to take them to Laurie’s husband to shave off 1/8th inch with his table saw. Re-assembled. Repeated all mistakes and added new ones. Started over. Finally got the damned thing together and positioned it in the house (barely fit with only a hair to spare), got the new tank set up, moved the fish which was extremely stressful because he’s a scaredy cat and freaks out all the time about everything – when I drop food in the tank, when I change the water, when I stare at him through the glass to see if he’s got flukes or any of the other infinite diseases goldfish get that I’ve had to buy medicine for over the years, so I knew the move could kill him. That might not have been so bad, all things considered, but after I spent so much time and money, I actually wanted him to live a little while longer.

The new 20 gallon tank on the sturdy fish stand I built out of 2" x 6" boards.
The new 20 gallon tank on the sturdy fish stand I built out of 2″ x 6″ boards.

My husband came home from work, looked at the stand, shook his head and said, “It took you two weeks to build that thing?”

It’s ugly, I won’t deny it. It doesn’t match anything else in the house. But everyone’s so impressed I got it done and the fish lived through it that nobody cares, especially not me.

Fighting Hummingbirds

The hummingbirds are fighting at my feeder again. They fight all day long. I’ve discovered that there’s always a bully, and his sole purpose in life is to keep others from taking a drink from his feeder. If another hummingbird zips up and tries to get just a drop of liquid sugar, the bully swoops in, attacks, and chases him back to where he came from, and sometimes chases him all over the place. Selfish little buggers. 

Sometimes while the bully is driving another one off, a third hummingbird zooms in and gulps a sip. Instantaneously the bully knows and darts back to defend his feeder, chasing the third one off. Then they all leave for a few minutes, until it starts over again. Aggressive little brats.

Hummingbirds snatching a drink outside my kitchen window

I have the feeder outside the kitchen window, about six feet from my front door. I can see the bully lying in wait in a bush a few feet away. He’s on the alert, policing his territory. Sometimes when I go outside it feels like he’s attacking me. For something so small, his wings make a lot of disturbing noise, especially when they’re right by my head. The sound is something like a freight train coming straight at me, with the volume turned down slightly. I worry he’ll drive that long, pointed beak right into my temple. I have to crouch when I walk by the front of my house. I know good and well he’s doing it on purpose. Spiteful little creatures.

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Pepper Goes to Camp

Dogs coming home from camp on a mini-busToday when I went walking with my friend at the park, we saw a mini yellow school bus with several moms hovering around. The driver backed down the steps in the doorway of the bus. He was holding two leashes.

“Whoa,” I said to my friend. “Isn’t that, uh, politically incorrect to put kids on a lease?”

“Cha-yeah,” Laurie snorted. Then the noses of two dogs appeared at the end of the leashes. We stopped to gawk.

“Here you go,” the driver said to a woman who stepped forward. “They both did very well, but you know Pepper cheats at poker.”

“Oh, I know,” she said, laughing. “Whenever he and the other dogs play, he usually ends up with all their dog biscuits.” The other moms chuckled and nodded.

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My Crazy Little Dog

I have to tell you what my little dog does with the goodies she wants to save until later. Normal dogs take the treat outside and dig a hole in the dirt, drop the treat in, and push dirt over the treat to cover.

NOTE: This process involves dirt from start to finish.

My dog, a black, nine-pound Yorkie Poo, had never been outside, according to the breeder. She’d been in the house with her mom and siblings until we got her at twelve weeks.

Our dog Shelley the day we got her

My kids (on each end) and their friends the day we got Shelley

We started giving her treats like pieces of cheese when she was a little older, and we’d later find the un-eaten parts under clothes in the kids’ rooms. It took awhile, but finally we observed her dropping the cheese beside a sweater on the floor of my daughter’s room. She nudged the cheese under it, and then scuffed her nose against the carpet in all directions around the cheese as if she were pushing dirt over it to bury it.

In my opinion, this is instinctual behavior without the filter of common sense.

I told the kids to let her “bury” her stuff in peace because she needed to feel like a real dog and we should respect that. When one of them found the treat later, they’d yell, “Mo-om, I found Shelley’s gross old cheese under my skirt!” I’d dispose of it, and the dog never seemed to miss it.

Once Shelley got full size, we tried to teach her to bury a bone outside. We found a nice, loose spot in a flowerbed and started digging with our hands, but she wasn’t tracking. So I squatted over her and moved her paws in a digging motion. The light went on and she started to get the hang of it. Finally, she had a hole deep enough to cover a good portion of the bone, We encouraged her to pick the bone up, “Pick up the bone, Shelley, pick it up!” which she eventually did, but we had to pull it back out of her mouth to drop it into the hole. We pushed a little dirt over the bone, and she immediately joined us, using her little black snout to move dirt over it exactly the way she scuffed the carpet around the cheese in the house.

“SHE’S GOT IT!” we exclaimed.

The next time we gave her a bone in the backyard, she picked it up and trotted around to the front of the house and laid it on top of a Euonymus shrub. We watched through the window as she enthusiastically moved her nose forward and backward without actually coving the bone with anything. When she was done, she trotted around to the back of the house again so she could go back in the door she’d gone out – no doubt a sneaky maneuver to cover her tracks – content with the safety of that bone for the future, even though it was lying out in the open for any varmint to steal.

Gradually she ceased bothering to  hide the treats she buried in the house. We now find cheese blatantly lying in corners nowhere near sweaters. In fact, this morning there was a yellow cube of cheese in my bathroom. She went over to it and started moving her head, scuffing her nose on the rough tile – right in front of me. I said to her, “Honey, you’re not really burying anything. Just let it go.” But she kept brushing her nose against the tile, circling from every angle until she’d pushed enough invisible dirt over it to suit her.

This crazy little pooch, with her nose rubbed raw by carpet and rough tile, probably thinks that instinct stinks.

A Dog’s Best Friend

I went to Tennessee to visit relatives a few weeks ago, and at my cousin Nancy’s house in Memphis, we sat in her family room to catch up. I stretched my legs out on the ottoman and threw a throw over them, and within seconds Nancy’s two dogs were hovering at my feet begging with their big brown eyes to get on my lap. I invited Sweet Tater up – she’s the one looking at the camera. She’s named Sweet Tater because she’s so fat she looks like a sweet potato with four toothpicks stuck in the bottom.

The other dog, who’s still a puppy, couldn’t stand that he wasn’t part of the party, so he jumped up too. They took a couple of minutes to position themselves just so, and then both pretended to go to sleep.

My cousin's 2 dogs curled up in my lap

My cousin took this photo of her two dogs curled up in my lap – she obviously didn’t care if I was in the picture – it was all about the dogs

I am a great friend of almost all dogs. I like to think it’s because they sense that I am a warm and kind person, but most likely it’s because I know exactly how they like to be scratched.

The dogs I’ve met love to have their ears scratched – but not the ear itself – the part under the ear. No, not in the ear. I guess you’d call it the side of their head under the ear. Massage that area and they will groan their pleasure like a starving Italian man eating pasta.

They also like to be scratched between their front legs and will lie feet up on jagged rocks for hours as long as you continue to scratch them. You have to move your hand around, though. You can’t absent-mindedly scratch a hole in their chests. I’ve seen people do this – not a real hole, but just rhythmically moving the fingers while they’re preoccupied with something else. The dog won’t want them to quit, but will inch itself forward or back to present a new area that’s not rubbed raw.

The other place a dog likes to be scratched is right above the tail. They’ll contort themselves, hunching up and twisting toward the side of the tail you’re scratching while cocking their heads sideways. They look miserable all corkskrewed like that, but they’ll stay there until you get bored so it must feel pretty good.

I actually think it’s an honor that dogs are attracted to me, and that I know how to make them happy. A dog is easy to please and so forgiving when your don’t get things just so. I wish it were that way with people.

The Miracle of My Dog’s Teeth Cleaning

I got my dog’s teeth cleaned!!!!!!!!!

You may be saying to yourself, “So fricking what?”

I can understand how you might not be as thrilled about this as I am. You may very well live a much more exciting live than I do, and have exotic adventures and lots of important people you meet at wonderful places. Getting a dog’s teeth cleaned may be at the very bottom of your list of interesting ways to spend your time.

However, it may pique your interest to know that I got my dog’s teeth clean without anesthesia.

“So fricking what?” you ask again. Is that all you know how to say? If you’ll quit interrupting, I’ll explain.

Have you ever heard of “bad breath in dogs?” It’s a medical condition brought about because dogs will eat anything – and the more deceased, the better. Woo-wee! But they also get bad breath because they won’t brush their teeth. The are physically lacking a way to hold the toothbrush, but even if they had digits, they would not use them for brushing their teeth, they’d use them to lift other dogs’ tails for easier sniffing. Or to reach up on your dining room table and grab the Thanksgiving turkey by the leg and fly off down the hallway with it to their lair.

Furthermore, they will fight your attempts to brush their teeth for them. They would prefer that you take that doggie toothbrush and shove it up your….. I know this because my dog gives me that “you know where you can put that toothbrush” look every time I’ve tried to brush her teeth.

Over time, the stuff on a dog’s teeth, called tartar, hardens and bonds to its pearly whites to form a brown cement. Here in Portland, Oregon, vets charge you $350 to chisel that stuff off, and they want to put the dog under general anesthesia to do it because that’s the only way a dog will put up with it.

But a few days ago I discovered a place that cleans teeth without putting the dog to sleep. Apparently they accomplish this by laying the dog in their lap as they sit on the floor. Then they put a towel over the dog, which they told me soothes the pooch and keeps it still.

Don’t ask me how it works, but when that dog was done in one hour, she had white teeth and I had an extra $200 in my pocket. I highly recommend this for your dog or cat – Apollo Pet Care did my dog’s teeth – 1-800-285-6204. They are in Washington and Oregon.

This is not a shameless commercial but a recommendation for people who, in my opinion, granted me a miracle. It’s one less thing I have to worry and fret about.

And you’re wrong to assume I have a boring life. I got her teeth done on Friday just before we left town, and it that was the highlight of my very fun weekend, which included going to Seattle and watching the Ducks beat the Huskies at the last game ever to be played in the Huskies old stadium before they tear it down, going out for Sushi at Umi’s, watching U Dub’s crew team glide through misty water under the salmon glow of early morning, eating an amazing lava cake at the Tap House Grill, walking around Bellevue before sunrise with my husband, and staying with our dear friends for two nights at the Oakwood (great deal there, by the way, on a 2 bedroom condo) – none of these things came even CLOSE to how exhilarated I was about finally getting that dog’s teeth cleaned. It’s something I will cherish always.

My Dog’s Frito Feet

My little dog’s feet smell like Fritos. She’s lying beside me as I type on my laptop on the sofa, and she just changed positions. The smell of Fritos wafted into the air like incense.

My family thinks the dog’s feet smell pleasant. Fritos is a pleasant odor. On the other hand, our personal human feet are disgusting, especially when they’ve been in sweaty shoes. Perhaps that’s the problem. If we did not wear footwear for hours on end, would we also have pleasant smelling feet?

This is for future pondering because we want to focus on the dog’s feet right now and ask the question, how on earth did a dog’s feet come to smell like a packaged corn chip?

A corn chip is made of corn and salt all smashed together, baked until it has that perfect crunch, and sealed in a bag that is impossible for humans to penetrate without a sharp object or very, very strong teeth. It used to be that you’d get a guy to open a lid for you, but now you have to find a guy to get into a bag of chips. Sometimes, if there’s no guy handy, I’ve had to tear at these bags with my teeth like a savage jackal, over and over, getting a small bit of bag each time, spitting it out and tearing some more until I gnaw a hole big enough to plunge my fist through.

So the grains and salts and other things that go into a corn chip – the chemical composition as it were – and the baking, which alters or at least dehydrates the chemicals – and the packaging which protects the baked chip until the year 4010 because air doesn’t have the teeth to penetrate the seal – how in the universe can THAT smell like my dog’s feet?

My dog’s feet always smell like Fritos except just after a bath. Within a day, the Frito feet are back – all four of them. The rest of the dog may be foul from rolling in dead rodent to try to get the clean shampoo smell off, but those feet are pleasant.

It’s a mystery someone needs to solve, because there is something very, very sick about smelling a dog’s feet and immediately craving Fritos and cream cheese.

If you’ve never tried it, take a normal Frito – not the big ones – and scrape it through a container of Philadelphia cream cheese. It’s quite tasty. Don’t go in too deep or the Frito will break off. BEWARE – you will go through a whole container of cream cheese pretty quick and become a big fat lard because you won’t have the willpower to stop eating them, they’re that good.

Back to the subject, which is, why does my dog have Frito feet? If you know the answer, please don’t hesitate to send it to me via a package containing Fritos. I’m running low.

Lamenting the Foulness of Life

My dog’s stomach is growling. She had a batch o’ rib bones and now I can expect puddles of barbecued barf in my bed tonight. Disgusting, huh? But wait, there’s more.

This ten pound dog is by my side night and day. She’s lying snugged up next to me on the couch while I type, right in the path of the 340º heat blowing out of my laptop. She’s a heating pad strapped to my leg.

I generally like heat – love my car’s seat warmers. One of my relatives likes to drive my car when we go anywhere because it’s nicer, and in the winter I’ve got the seat warmer on. He’ll be sitting there in the driver’s seat, talking about his latest BM. Don’t ask me why.

“You should have seen what came out of me this morning.”

“I do NOT need to hear this,” I say.

“Black as coal and all of 12 inches, coiled up like a cobra, part of it floating like it was ready to strike.”


“It was remarkable,” he’ll say. “Never seen anything like it. I got a picture of it here on my phone – take a look, you won’t believe it. Here, see? Owww, why is it so friggin’ hot? My nuts are roastin’!”

He says it every time we’re in the car – like the seat has launched a sneak attack against his scrotum.

As bad as his bodily function stories are, my dog barfing in the car while she’s sitting on my lap is worse. I hear this little burbing noise and a nano-second later she heaves, and there’s a puddle the size of a spilled glass of milk on my thigh – slimy and the color of the last nauseating thing she ate. Sometimes it’s grass in a clear slime like a sickening version of lemongrass soup. Other times it’s brown and lumpy.

The awful part is that you can’t do anything about it. I’ll be on the freeway going 65 mph when she Ralphs on me. I hear the sound, and I try to get her off my lap but I’m never fast enough. About the time I get my hands on her waist and snatch her up, I feel the warmth on my thigh, then the wetness.

Anyone who’s had bad timing snuggling a baby knows what that feeling is like. The baby’s happy and coochie cooing one minute, and the next minute you’ve got this foul wet vomity-smelling ooze heading south down your shirt.

At least the dog barf doesn’t smell so bad. Usually.

Oh my gosh. You talk about smells, I went into the ladies bathroom at the permit office the other day. Mercy! Women’s bathrooms, just after their morning coffee break, are worse than paper mills. Woo-whee! Brings tears to the eyes.

I don’t know what’s made me write about these things. Oh yeah, it was the dog’s growling belly, which led to this lament of the unwelcome bodily functions we all encounter daily, of which I seem to experience more than my fair share.

I Admit I’m a Bag Lady

I can’t leave my dog in my Prius and lock it. I discovered this when I ran into the post office and a couple of minutes later I heard a car alarm going off. It didn’t stop and I was cursing that idiot driver until I went out to the parking lot and saw it was my car lights flashing.

When I called the dealer about it, he said to bring it in, but apparently the alarm system goes off when the car is locked and something moves inside. I guess there’s a good reason for that, but I can’t figure out what. Suppose you want to leave your teenage daughter in the car because she refused to be seen with you in public, but you wanted her to be safe. She’d have to sit like a sphinx until you got done in the grocery store. Unfortunately, the repairperson didn’t know how to fix it.

For those of you who are tisk-tisking me for leaving my dog in the car in the first place, let me assure you that I am putting her in no danger. I’ve left her in the car with the motor running, unlocked, and the air conditioner on, when I just dash in to get something somewhere. You can’t tell the car is on – it’s so quiet with that hybrid electric motor.

When I have to go into a store for a while, I take the dog in with me. I made this black bag that I put her in. It looks like a worn out, tacky handbag. That dog has gone into restaurants, amusement parks, movies, bars, and church.

She loves it in there. If I put the bag on the floor, she tries to climb in it – even if we’re not going anywhere. It’s got a wood bottom with a cushy pad so she just lies down and enjoys getting toted around. When I go to the bathroom I hang her on the door hook so the top won’t fold down on her.

She’s a smart little pooch, so we taught her to be quiet in the bag by saying, “No barking.” However, there were some glitches. Once when we first started using it, we were on vacation and found a church on Sunday morning. She was quiet as a, ahem, church mouse until we went to communion. We left her in the pew, and when we were walking down the aisle on the way to the altar, we heard her whimpering. The kids started poking me (as if I hadn’t heard!), and giggling into their hands. The whining got louder. I guess she thought we’d left her. We got communion and raced back to the pew, petting the outside of the bag to calm her down. After that no one left her alone while she was in the bag.

As I type this I realize that you may be thinking, “What kind of nut carries a dog around with them in a bag?” Well, I’m that kind of nut – l’ll admit I’ve always been a little crazy. But if you could see how pitiful that dog looks when you’re getting ready to go out the door and she doesn’t get to go, you’d be bagging her up, too.

Today I noticed the bag is getting pretty ratty. She’s poked a couple of holes in it, and the sun has faded some of the fine black mesh. It’s trashy, but I haven’t found a replacement with as much ventilation that looks like a handbag instead of a dog bag, and doesn’t show the dog in it because it’s black and so is she.

One problem is that I can’t take a purse with me, because the bag is supposed to be my purse. So I have to pack a credit card in my pocket for purchases. It looks pretty stupid, but I haven’t been caught yet. Knock on wood.

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Copyright © 2020 by Suzanne Olsen