Saturday, September 1, 2012

Furniture Fiasco

It takes a special type of person to share your home with retired racing greyhounds. When I say share, I mean surrender wholeheartedly all living space, sleeping space, and places of comfort and relaxation.

Gone are all choices for home entertainment, as even our new, top of the line, family jumbo-tron is too small to be viewed unobstructed by greyhounds who stand at the precisely perfect angle to block each and every one of the 58 million pixels available for the ultimate experience in better than life home viewing. If one should glimpse a momentary flash of unequaled color radiating from the ultra-thin flat panel display, a greyhound is sure to be standing in anticipation of a dropped crumb or the chance to steal a seat, and in the direct line of the operating remote controls. Due to this fact, the jumbo-tron has been stuck on the Home Shopping Network for the past three months, and I am now the proud owner of 17 lifetime supplies of reusable and incredibly simple to install picture hooks and 3,200 Sham-wows. Are you with me Camera Guy?

The Boss recently decided it was time for new living room furniture because she walked into the family room and caught a greyhound lounging on the floor when a perfectly empty sofa seat was available. This, obviously, is an indication that the furniture is worn and uncomfortable, and must be replaced immediately. Since I have only sat on the furniture once, which was not long ago and in the showroom prior to purchase, I have to take the dogs' word for it, as the book of racing greyhound pet etiquette clearly states;

Sec. 4 (7) Lounging
No greyhound must ever lounge on the floor when:
  1. a seat on the sofa is available, or
  2. when a human in a seat on the sofa can be forced from that seat and thus stolen by pretending to need a potty break.
Armed with sale leaflets, summer catalogs, checkbooks, credit cards, and an uncomfortably large home improvement loan, The Boss and I set out to replace our nearly new but woefully greyhound inadequate home furnishings, and began an exhaustive search for the perfect dog approved lounging surface. This started what was basically just a long blur of me picking out a set I liked, and The Boss pointing out how little I understand about fabric staining, retained heat, fur accumulation, comfort and nesting damage resistance. In each and every home furnishings store we entered we were followed by lurking salesmen trying to be inconspicuous and ready to pounce on a potential sale, but staring in disbelief as we discuss the pros and cons based on dog comfort and lounge-ability, and rejecting set after set. After searching every home store in the area, and revisiting most a second and third time, The Boss finally settled on a patent leather, reclining, rocker/roller sofa with a built-in heating and cooling system, foldaway tables, pull out storage and massage, and a matching love seat. The price, too embarrassingly large to mention here, was made more bearable by the salesman generously including a limited lifetime warranty, set-up and delivery.

Once the new furnishings were delivered and in place, and the nearly-new but no longer greyhound approved old furnishings were removed, The Boss and I decided that a movie night was in order to celebrate and appreciate our purchase. Giddy with excitement I rushed off to the movie store and rented 5 films I have been dying to see ever since they were released prior to bringing greyhounds home (known as life before greyhounds or LBGH). Upon my return popcorn is made, soft drinks are poured, fold-away tables are unfolded, and lights are dimmed. I fire up the jumbo-tron and marvel for a moment at the clarity and incredible contrast, select the perfect sound settings on the home theater, and insert the first movie disk into the player. I reach down as the opening scenes are about to begin, turn on the heat and vibration functions of the sofa, and deploy into the reclining position. I turn to The Boss and ask, “Whats happening now? Cy is in the way.” Then suddenly I notice Myka doing the potty dance and desperately trying to tell me she is well passed due to go outside. As I raise up to take the pups out, Loki jumps into my seat, gulps down a few mouthfuls of popcorn, and settles with a deep long groan of pure comfort and joy as Myka laps some of the soft drink from my glass and takes the seat beside him.

I take a yoga inspired seat on the floor, and mount a valiant attempt to get a glimpse at the screen through Cy's legs and under his belly. As I start to complain to The Boss about the fairness of the seating arrangements, and express my dissatisfaction with the comfort level of the cold hardwood floor, I am met with a loud “SHHHH, I am trying to watch a movie!”.

When this furniture wears out next month, I am choosing the set I want. At least when I am staring at it from the floor, I will have the satisfaction of knowing it was chosen specifically for me! 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

How Quickly We Forget

Dogs, like babies, have a way of making you forget the trouble and turmoil they cause in your life. The mere glimpse of a baby turns The Boss into a blubbery, gibberish talking, goo goo spouting maniac, eyes radiating jealousy and the I Want One look. Gone are the memories of long sleep deprived nights of incessant crying, late night emergency trips to the disposable diaper store, and the ever present bodily fluid stains on clothing and furniture. Thoughts of duffel bags full of medications and other baby related paraphernalia, who’s mass and bulk exceeded general airline luggage allowances, each one carefully packed and unpacked with every trip outdoors regardless of how brief the journey, are long gone. In their place, pure joy and unconditional love.

When our sweet Mickey passed we decided that we would down-size our pack. We would let nature run its course, and eventually be a pet-free household. We are getting older, and once The Princess’s trolls quit messing up her bedroom and drinking all the milk, we will be empty nesters. The Boss mentioned some words that are associated with pet-free empty nesters, FREE TIME and TRAVEL. I’m not sure what they mean, but I think they are French or German words since she also mentioned Europe. Apparently pet-free empty nesters go to Europe and experience their FREE TIME and TRAVEL. Since I know that beer and wine come from Europe, the idea must have some merit, after all, no matter how strange FREE TIME and TRAVEL might be, French wine and German beer have to make it worth the trip.

After Mickey left us, her constant companion Cy quit functioning. He totally shut down and refused to eat, refused to play, and withdrew from the family unit. Sure, he still had his beagle brother Karson, but no matter how hard Karson tries, he is not an accepted member of the greyhound community. Clearly Cy missed Mickey and was grieving terribly. In desperation we took him to a greyhound adoption group so he might interact with his own kind because Greyhounds can be horrible snobs, and most will not recognize the K9 credentials of a less noble breed.

When Cy walked in to the room full of other greyhounds, his eyes lit up and we saw happiness. It was obvious Cy needed a companion greyhound to keep him company, and we picked out a quiet, sleek little 2 year old girl who we felt would fit right in with very little trouble. After all, we are going to be pet-free empty nesters, there is no need to bring in a high energy puppy, they can be a handful. While a two year old will likely be with us for a good long while, The Boss says that we could still have some FREE TIME and some TRAVEL with one hound, so we adopted Myka and took her home.

The day we brought Myka home, she walked into the house like she paid for it, and promptly ate all of my shoes. After the shoes were devoured, she turned her attention on all things plastic. It is obvious that some plastic object at some point must have insulted her mother or caused some other grievous injury, because she has an insatiable desire to inflict great violence upon any plastic object that has the nerve to be within her reach. She has an uncanny ability to open closed doors and baby gates to get to offending plastic objects, and barks continuously if there happens to be an object she can see, but can’t get to. Myka is very vocal and talks to us constantly in whines and grunts. She insists on sleeping with us and steals all the covers, and if one of us has the audacity to request a scrap of blanket for some glimmer of warmth during the night, we are met with groans and grunts of displeasure. In short, Myka is a handful. A delightfully snuggly, loving, happy and outgoing hound who adores her people and her brother Cy.

The destruction and havoc Myka brings to the home are things most puppies do. Puppies are playful and rambunctious, and demand time and attention. Training, interaction, love and caring eventually calm the pups, and help mold their personalities into adulthood. So what are soon to be pet-free empty nesters to do with a hyperactive, attention deficient, wantonly destructive puppy? Why, bring home another one of course.

A few months after bringing Myka home, a big huge 2 year old male greyhound became suddenly and unexpectedly homeless. Having no where to go, we were asked if we could take him, temporarily, until a suitable permanent home for him could be found. Loki is a well adjusted and stoic boy with a hoarding fetish. He steals anything he can get his teeth around, and secrets the objects away for later enjoyment. Loki and Myka work as a team, with Myka opening the doors and gates, and Loki getting the objects that have been placed purposely high and out of reach. Their teamwork and tenacity a perfect storm of teeth and slobber, inflicting permanent, irreversible damage to anything they contact.

Like Myka, Loki loves his people and is a snuggle champion, and, at 2 years old, will be around for many years to come. Gone are the days of lounging unencumbered on the sofa to take in a show or movie. Often we are forced from our seats by 150 lbs of combined greyhound mass competing desperately with each other to gain the most comfortable lap position. Of course, these are all things we experienced when Mickey and Cy were young pups, but were long forgotten with one glimpse into the sorrowful eyes of a homeless greyhound. Having Myka and Loki around has brought Cy back to his puppyhood. He is happy and playful, and runs right along with the young dogs, and it looks like Loki has found his permanent home here with us. Despite his puppy playfulness and massive frame, he is a perfect joy to have in the house, just like Myka.

While intending to go to a pet-free household we have actually increased the size of our pack, but we can down size in the future, after all, I’m sure the Europeans will be offering FREE TIME and TRAVEL, what ever that means, for many years to come.