A Brutal Wind

As usual, Ginger is not sure what all the fuss is about and proclaims her innocence with her puppy eyes.

As usual, Ginger is not sure what all the fuss is about and proclaims her innocence with her puppy eyes.

There is no way to put this delicately, so I’ll just come right out and post it. My puppy is farting. A lot. She has in the past passed gas occasionally (usually when we are trying to watch TV, and she is sleeping at our feet), but recently the frequency of her eruptions of flatus has grown exponentially.

As I sat in a cloud of puppy-produced methane, skatole, dimethyl sulfide, and other malodorous and noxious chemicals, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Does every puppy owner suffer as I do?” I googled the following:

“puppy farts”

There were 1,120,000 hits in .29 seconds. So, I am not alone. Then I googled this:

“dog farts”

There were 2,660,000 hits in .19 seconds. Does the former number imply mature dogs are more flatulent than puppies are? To answer this question, I googled:

“Do adult dogs fart more than puppies do?”

There were 19,700,000 hits in .71 seconds. Okay, I realize that with more words in my search string, I am going to get more hits. But wow, are there really that many people posting about this issue? I was hesitant to even type my initial string in the search bar for fear that some obnoxious virus would invade my computer as soon as I clicked on a result. After all, one can’t assume that a website devoted to canine wind is trustworthy. I could only imagine the humiliation in trying to explain my frozen computer to the Geeks rolling their eyes at Best Buy™. “Yes, I swear that I don’t usually frequent such iniquitous sites.”

Nonetheless, I began surfing. I reasoned the first two pages of SEO frontrunners would be well-intended, reputable sites designed and written by professionals. Mostly what I found were discussion boards filled with piteous pleas from fellow sufferers. A plethora of well-meaning good Samaritans answered these calls for help with suggestions on changing dog food brands. Of course, each responder endorsed a different alimentary solution.

My dog’s excessive flatulence began with my changing her food to one suggested by the vet, who assured me it would cure another minor ill. I have been adding it gradually, and now that I think about it, that’s when the frequency of odiferous events accelerated. Fortunately, I only purchased a small bag of the offending chow.

To restore my home’s atmospheric harmony, I have resorted to running around the house while spraying Glade® Clean Linen® scent and leaving windows ajar. Now that it grows cold with autumn, the windows will have to stay closed. I can only hope the solution to this dilemma presents itself soon.

A Clean House

Since Ginger came into our lives, there has been little time for cleaning. Instead of scrubbing the bathtub, I am giving her a bath. Instead of sweeping the floor, we spend time playing fetch. Ginger doesn’t like it when I tidy up. I know this to be true because she never fails to attack the broom when it emerges from the closet. Also, she does her best to shred every paper towel and cleaning rag she can find, especially when they are in my hands. During the moments when I am most frustrated about the mess, I imagine knocking the whole house down and rebuilding from scratch.

On a related note, I must admit to a mild fascination with the program, Hoarding: Buried Alive. I don’t religiously watch it, but have been known to sit through three consecutive airings unable to peal myself away. Attractive in its repulsiveness, this reality show makes me want to sanitize my entire house after a binge viewing. I cannot help but feel my skin crawling as I see our own domestic clutter. Every pile of familial detritus seems akin to the featured hoarder’s mounds of unsightly waste. In my mind, a newspaper on the dining room table will soon become the highlighted family’s buried surface they haven’t eaten off of in four years. I can imagine the fire department declaring our home uninhabitable because of our disorganized study. Our fridge usually houses only one Tupperware container with week-old leftovers, but I just know that it will soon look like the roach- and rodent-infested one on TLC’s reality show. So after turning off the TV, I will find some project in the house to furiously attack, like dusting all of the bedrooms or reorganizing the bookshelf. I exaggerate, of course, but part of me has always been a minimalist and a bit of a neatnik, and if it weren’t for my other family members, I could happily live in a small space spartanly decorated with dust-free possessions.

My husband doesn’t think watching this program is a healthful activity for me. He is already convinced that I care too much about cleanliness—that I have some sort of addiction to housework, as well as an undying need to throw things away, especially his belongings. Perhaps, he believes Hoarding: Buried Alive will only feed my compulsion, and he’ll wake up one day to discover that I have finally tossed those 20-year-old issues of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. On the contrary, I feel like my viewing this show is beneficial in the following ways:

1. After watching, I am forced out of my chair to clean the nearest dirty/cluttered area; thus, I am moving again and obtaining much-needed exercise.

2. The house becomes a cleaner, more pleasant place to be, and he doesn’t have to lift a finger.

3. I usually find something that was lost while cleaning.

4. There are certain chores I would avoid at all costs if not for the prompting of this program; therefore we both have Hoarding: Buried Alive to thank for the reorganization of our closets. (Not to worry, somebody will inevitably mess them up again.)

5. After the initial, reality TV-fueled impression of my house being compared to a hoarder’s paradise has faded, I begin to realize that our humble abode is a pretty orderly place and abandon my more ambitious plans. Perhaps, we won’t have to resort to hiring a demolition crew after all.

Puppy Fears

Last week, my daughter and I decided to conduct an experiment involving Ginger. We put her dog tag with her name and address back on her collar. Earlier in her stay with us, it became clear that the clinking of the tag against the ceramic bowl was scaring her (see “On How Food Bowls Can Be Evil”). We thought that perhaps five weeks later, she might have overcome her dread of jangling noises, but no such luck. Fortunately, as soon as we removed the tag, she resumed eating from the bowl. I was relieved that I didn’t have to spend another five days convincing her that bowl was not the font of all evil.

The things/situations that frighten our puppy are both varied and bizarre. They include:

1. The food bowl when it is at my parents’ house. For some unknowable reason, she would only eat off the floor in their sunroom.

2. Rain. She would rather hold it, than relieve herself in the rain.

3. Cars. Cars are leviathans that drive by our house and might just swallow her if she gets too close. She’s kind of right about that, actually.

4. The front yard. The back yard is a place to romp and be joyful. The front yard is where dangers both apparent and hidden exist. I can’t really put a finger on why the east side of our house has become so foreboding, but I think it has something to do with the contractors who were working across the street and their tools.

5. Any dog that barks within a block of our house.

6. The air conditioning unit. The only time the air conditioning unit is scary for we humans is when it is not working!

7. Our neighbors. Any sudden or unfamiliar noise from their yard is a reason to run for the door to go inside.

8. Weed whackers, leaf blowers, and lawn mowers. I agree; these can be terrifying.

9. The vacuum when it is not running, not when it is on. She will sit quietly and wait just a few feet away when I am using the vacuum, but will avoid walking near it at all costs when it sits idle.

10. Jets that have just taken off from Logan airport and are flying over our house. I think these are frightening because she cannot locate the source of the roar. Her head begins snapping around as she checks in all directions (except up) to locate the source of the sound. She invariably gives up and runs for the door.

11. Wind. I simply have no explanation for this.

Interestingly enough, there are things I would think that she’d be wary of, but isn’t. These include:

1. Bees. She will put her little nose right up to sniff them and even tried to eat one.

2. Raspberry canes in our backyard. I am loath to reach into these to pick raspberries to eat because my arms come back all scratched. She charges through them at full speed and even chews on them. So far she has yet to suffer from thorns in her tongue.

3. The vacuum. See above.

4. Me, even when I am angry with her. I weigh 15 times as much as she does, and she doesn’t seem to be the least bit trepidatious about disobeying me. In fact, if I scold her, she simply barks at me, as if to say, “In your face, lady . . .” Kind of like my daughter did when she was two all of those years ago . . .

Ginger’s Deposits

Poop patrol

There is a new chore in our house. It is called, “poop patrol.” So far I am the only person to have completed this job. Everyone else is simply pretending it doesn’t exist despite my announcing my intentions in a very audible voice when I exit the house to attend to it. Poop patrol consists of going out to the backyard with a corn-based biodegradable bag, and collecting puppy droppings. We don’t want the excrement to accumulate back there, and using one bag to collect many samples keeps our family from contributing too much to the doggy waste bags accumulating in landfills. Alas, on the most distasteful of occasions, this chore even involves the hose.

 

This job is most unpleasant, so I recognize why my family is turning a deaf ear to my not-so-subtle hints. My intimations notwithstanding, they prefer not to have to perform a disagreeable task that involves feces.

 

I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised considering that other such distasteful chores are mostly carried out by me. Those include cleaning the toilet, scrubbing the shower, picking hair out of the drain, rescuing earth worms after a rainstorm, waiting for the cable repairman, cleaning the birds’ cage, hosing out the garbage can, and disposing of anything that is rotten in the fridge.

 

In my children’s defense, I must say that I wasn’t always so willing to perform disgusting jobs. One week many summers ago, I had the responsibility of caring for my neighbors’ pets when they were on vacation. On the third or fourth day, I convinced my sister, who is younger by seven and a half years, to accompany me to their house to feed the hamsters and the cat. She immediately noticed a can of dog food covered with plastic wrap on the counter. Why it had gone overlooked by me on previous visits, I cannot tell you, except that I was a kid. The counter was about eye level for her, so she was more likely to notice the unattended can of canine chow.  (To this day, she is very perceptive and detail-oriented, by the way.)  When my sister and I more closely observed what I presumed was the plastic wrap glistening, something wriggled. In fact, there were many hundreds of maggots writhing inside the transparent film and the can it covered, and they began to drop off as I picked it up. The smell was overwhelmingly that of putrefying waste, and my reaction was to scream and run from the house straight to my mother next door. She came right back over with us, most likely imagining that something really ghastly had happened during my neighbors’ absence, like the roof had leaked, a fire had started, or an animal had gained entrance and was terrorizing us and destroying their belongings.  Maybe all three, given our piteous pleas for her help.

 

When my mother arrived on the scene, she carefully noted the “carnage,” and said, “You brought me over here for this? You must be kidding me.” But the container was repulsive to the extreme. Surely, she didn’t expect me to handle such a cursed object straight from hell. (My enlightened adolescent self appreciated, at the very least, that I shouldn’t leave it to marinate for three more days for the neighbors to discover.) Despite my explanations of why I didn’t know how to clean it (translation, did not know and didn’t want to find out), a few short minutes later, I was dropping the can and its inhabitants into a paper bag and then wiping up the maggots that had been scattered by my startled initial reaction. My mother returned from our house next door, with some Pine-Sol® and instructed me to disinfect the entire area. Unfairly, in my mind anyway, she did not expect my five-year-old sister to help.

 

I imagine that my adolescent brain and time have exaggerated how truly revolting that discovery was. Nonetheless, nothing has compared since, not squashed bugs, biological specimens, dirty diapers, or puppy vomit (See “Our Trip to Connecticut and An Evil Fungus”). Compared to that can of Hades-spawned creatures from my youth, picking up after Ginger isn’t really so bad.

 

Canine Foot Fetish and Other Topics I thought I’d Never Write About

Canine Foot FetishPuppies are simple creatures. Their needs are basic. Eating. Sleeping. Pooping. Playing. Biting your feet. Smelling your feet. Licking your feet. And generally, being under foot.

My feet in particular are a source of great fascination for Ginger. She licks them; she tries to bite them, and she falls asleep on top of them several times a day.  Despite their being supremely unattractive, Ginger loves my feet. Bunions, spider veins, cracked heels, and ugly toenails notwithstanding, she fixates on them.

Is it possible that Ginger is trying to teach me something? Perhaps, I should begin celebrating my feet like other women by wearing strappy sandals and decorative toe rings. Rather than burying them in the sand at the beach, I’ll grace my tootsies with bright pink polish in expensive flip-flops. At work I’ll brave four-inch sling-backs with no stockings. After twenty years of hiding my feet, is it time to release them from their sensible shoe prisons?

Of course, she is also rather interested in the other feet in the house, and I don’t think that she’s trying to persuade my husband to wear designer Italian shoes to this week’s scientific conference or my daughter to sport Manolo Blahniks to her next Zumba workout.

So does her obsession with feet stem from her disadvantaged viewpoint? I must admit upon first bringing her home, I was somewhat underwhelmed by Ginger’s diminutive stature. She is a tiny thing that I fear I will step on and maim. I walk through the house with downcast eyes to ensure that I am not about to crush her fragile puppy body. On the other hand, from Ginger’s perspective, our bodies tower over her world, dominating the landscape like enormous redwoods.  To make matters worse, the house is full of potentially insurmountable obstacles. An eight-inch threshold is a bluff requiring grappling hooks and a rope to scale. A stool is not a boost, but something to hide under. She is a pocket-sized being in a world of giants.

Are our feet reassuring and reeking (see “It’s a Smelly, Smelly World”) comforts in a still alien environment? After all, they are on her level and smell strongly of us. Even when they are only passing through the room, perhaps our feet are the most heartening aspects of her surroundings.

I suppose we have to abide her foot fetish for the time being, knowing that eventually, she will outgrow her need to hover around our ankles. In the meantime, we’ll step gingerly around Ginger.