Monday, February 28, 2011

Dog Movies

While the Academy Awards are still fresh on our minds, I thought I’d take a few minutes to comment about dog movies.  Though it’s been out for a couple of years, Scott and I recently saw Marley and Me.  Now, I may alienate a bunch of my dog-lover readers out there by saying this, but I wasn’t impressed.  I mean, Marley got to do whatever the heck he wanted for twelve years, and then he died of old age.  What’s so movie-worthy about that story?  Frankly, I was annoyed that Marley’s owners never took control of his bad behavior.  Had Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson implemented just a wee bit of discipline, they could have saved a lot of money in damaged furniture and trips to the vet due to Marley eating socks or other inedible objects.  I know a lot of people who were deeply saddened by this story.  When Izzy dies (hopefully later than sooner), I’m sure I will be singing a different tune, but when I watched this movie, I wasn’t upset about Marley’s death.  I just kept thinking, “Man, what an awesome doggy life he lived.”

Now Turner and Hootch—that’s a good dog movie.  Who can forget Tom Hanks as the young cop forced to take a dog as his new partner?  And this isn’t just any dog—he’s a dog with some awesome slobbering powers.  Even now, I can picture the ever-present strands of thick mucus dangling from both sides of Hootch’s mouth, and I can hear a young Tom Hanks complaining about how everything, everything he owns is covered with slobber—his shoes, his clothing, the remote control.  But eventually, Hootch grows on Turner (Hanks), the pair becomes inseparable, and Hootch ends up taking a bullet for his human companion.  That’ll turn on the waterworks, no problem.

I could go on for days analyzing dog movies because, well, there are tons of them.  This just goes to show that there’s something special about the relationship between us humans and our canine companions that inspires story after story, whether it’s in the form of a movie or book or, well, a blog.  Now here’s the part where I alienate my cat-lover readers out there: How many movies have been made about people and their cats?  Let’s face it.  When cats are in movies, they’re usually playing an evil cat attempting to rid the world of dogs or a snobby cat who walks around saying things like, “Cats rule, and dogs drool,” their tails and chins held high in the air (Homeward Bound, anyone?).  But dog movies are all about loyalty, unconditional love, joy—things most of us dog owners out there experience on a daily basis.  Sure, dog movies can’t all be winners, but people can’t really lose when they welcome a dog into their lives.  It is a special relationship, indeed.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Squirrels

Squirrel on our windowsill
I used to like squirrels.  The TCU campus is covered with them, and when I was in school, it didn’t take long during my outdoor study sessions to get distracted by their sleek brown bodies and bushy tails as they jumped from tree to tree.  So adorable, I used to think.  At our old house in Bedford, we had a “pet squirrel” named Rufus.  He was a big bully of a squirrel who would take over the bird feeder for what seemed like hours at a time, flipping his body around and sticking his greedy hands through the mesh triangles while house sparrows watched hungrily from afar.  So cute, we thought.

Now, squirrels are The Enemy.  You see, Izzy has a built-in Squirrel Radar.  She can spot their filthy rodent bodies from at least ½ a mile away.  And when she does, she locks in and starts pulling on the leash with the force of a small horse.  No amount of “Leave it!” or “No!” snaps her out of it.  I’ve even tried the “Cesar Milan touch,” a swift tap to her neck with my hand in the shape of an open claw.  Sorry Cesar, but it doesn’t work (of course it would if he were the one doing it because Cesar Milan is magic).  What’s worse is that I know those squirrels can sense the presence of a natural-born squirrel killer bearing down on them like a black missile, but they wait until the very last minute to bound away into the safety of an oak tree.  By then, Izzy is choking from lack of oxygyen, and I just got my strength workout in.  Needless to say, we enjoy walking her in the dark.

Window Time = Game Time
What’s worse than squirrels on walks?  Squirrels outside the window.  I can say with confidence that the squirrels in our apartment complex have created a game of Torment Izzy the Greyhound, which they play on a daily basis.  Sometimes, the challenge is to see who can get the closest to the window.  Other days, it’s who can sit in front of the window the longest pretending to eat an acorn.  And still other times, it’s an endurance test of who can last the longest in a game of chase with their partners, which they know is the one sure thing that will drive Izzy the Greyhound to whining and whimpering behind her glass prison.  I swear I’ve even seen them stick their greasy squirrel paws in their ears and whisper, “Nani-nani-boo-boo.”

Just once, I’d like to open the window and let those squirrels get what they deserve.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Beauty

To be around a greyhound is to be around beauty.  Whether they are lounging, their slender legs draped over each other, or running, every muscle in their body taut and defined, few would argue that they are beautiful creatures.  True, some people find their build, with their barrel chests and elongated necks, awkward.  But we receive compliments about Izzy on an almost daily basis.  “What a gorgeous dog!” people will say as we pass them on our walks, as if we have anything to do with our dog’s genetics.  Still, we smile and politely say “thank you.”  Recently, a cyclist got creative as he sped past, commenting on Izzy’s size and good looks at the same time: “What a beautiful pony!”  He must not have realized that Izzy is on the petite side for a greyhound.  Others seem mystified by our dog, as if they believed until the very moment they laid eyes on her that greyhounds are mythical creatures who reside with mermaids and unicorns.  “Ooooh, is that a greyhound?” they’ll say, stopping to stare.     


One of my past co-workers was a beautiful woman—tan, 6’ tall, blonde.  When we walked anywhere together, she got oogles of stares from both men and women alike.  She was oblivious to it, but I was oh so aware, feeling like the frumpy, short, brunette sidekick.  Now Izzy is a dog, after all, but it sometimes feels like I’m that frumpy sidekick again.  She’s that stunning.  Still, I don’t mind—it’s a gift to own a beautiful dog.

Here’s why…  Not to get too philosophical, but isn’t this what we’re all looking for—a little bit of beauty, a little slice of heaven on this earth?  Isn’t that why people want to live in the mountains or visit tropical beaches?  Why we decorate our homes and offices?  Why we worry about our appearances and allow our emotions to budge when we see a striking photograph?  This is true for me, anyway.  I do want beauty in my life.  And to have a greyhound is to have another splash of color on what can be an otherwise drab scrap of canvas.  Certainly, it does a person good.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Draw the Line at Licking

It’s happened—what everyone said would happen when we become dog owners.  All those things that bother us about other dogs—the dog smell, the slobber, the hair—don’t bother us about Izzy because she is our dog.  Now, greyhounds don’t smell or slobber much, but they do shed a bit, and Izzy’s short black hair is easy to spot on our bathroom floor, the couch, our clothing.  If this hair belonged to any other dog, we’d find it disgusting.  But this is how much it doesn’t phase me:  The other day, I was eating a salad and noticed an Izzy hair on the side of the bowl.  It was only after I had finished the whole thing that I realized I hadn’t even moved the hair.  Don’t worry, I didn’t eat it—it still clung to the side of the bowl in a little bit of basalmic vinegarette, but I’m sure it’s pretty gross for most of you out there.  To me, it wasn’t. 

This must be how mothers feel about their children.  Even when they are covered in dirt and mucus, they must be the most adorable kiddos on the planet.  And what about when they’re hurt?  Does this mean that even though I can’t make it through an episode of Grey’s Anatomy thanks to all those graphic surgery shots, I will find super-mom strength to help my future children when they are bleeding profusely or have broken limbs protruding from their bodies?  I sure hope so.

Now, I can’t say that everything about Izzy is loveable.  I do draw the line at licking.  I’ve seen dog owners allow their pooches to slather their faces with kisses.  But I’ve seen where Izzy’s tongue was just moments before, and she’s not getting anywhere near my mouth with that thing.  Still, there’s no judgment here.  I did eat an entire salad containing a dog hair, after all.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snow!

As much as snow is a novelty in Texas, I have to say that I’m glad to see it go.  For those out-of-towners out there, the Storm of the Century slammed North Texas with ice and snow, shutting down schools and virtually every business for FOUR days this week.  Never seen anything like it in the Lone Star State.  Needless to say, I was starting to get a case of serious cabin fever.

Still, the frigid temps and slippery surfaces didn’t stop us from taking Izzy for a couple of short walks each day.  We do live in an apartment after all, so it was really more out of necessity than anything else.  I’ve always thought humans make the most of snow.  Sledding, skiing, snowshoeing—these are all human-invented activities to help us tolerate the beautiful yet somewhat annoying substance.  Dogs, on the other hand, make snow the most interesting thing on the planet.  They’re not afraid to stick their noses in it and really taste it.  They bound through it like deer.  And when their bounding energy is drained, they start prancing as if they are Budweiser Clydesdales.  This might just be a technique to get the feeling back in their paws, but it looks like they’re in heaven.  That’s how Izzy reacted to the snow this week, anyway.

The best part of Snow Izzy?  Her attire.  As you may or may not know, due to extremely low body fat percentages and short hair, greyhounds are more susceptible to cold and heat than most dogs.  Needless to say, when it dips into the teens, it’s time to dress them up.  

Pimp Izzy
Thankfully, Izzy’s Storm Coat from No Nude Hounds came in just days before the snow/ice hit.  On the web site, I thought a purple jacket with a cheetah lining would look stylin.’  It was a good idea in theory, but in reality, it looks a bit like something a pimp would wear.  So this week, whenever she went outside, she was Pimp Izzy, albeit a warm Pimp Izzy.  True, we got lots of compliments from neighbors.  “What a great coat!” they’d say.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were really thinking, Bow-chicka-wow-wow! 

Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE her new coat.  It's custom-made and high-quality, and it keeps just about everything but those matchstick legs of hers warm.  I definitely recommend No Nude Hounds if you need a winter coat for your pooch.  I just might lay off the cheetah.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Meet Izzy

Species: Greyhound

Age/Weight: Approx. 18 months/64 pounds

Answers to: "Izzy," "Izzy-Girl," "Izz-ster," "The Iz," "Izzybella," or any other concoction of Iz and other syllables.

Hobbies: Creating Izzy-sized craters on the couch (from the weight of her lounging body); chasing squirrels or anything resembling small, fast-moving animals; sniffing the world; dusting every other dog at the dog park... when she feels like it

This is Izzy.

It’s her fault we fell in love with her at the Meet and Greet.  First, she tried cockroaching on the concrete floor of the Petco.  Then, she said hello to everyone we passed as we took her for a stroll in the parking lot, batting those beautiful brown eyes in sweet innocence.  Now, this 64-pound, 18-month-old black beauty shares our home.  Like most greyhounds, she’s the lazy type with a healthy dab of spunk.

When Izzy (formerly “Charlotte”) came to us this past November, there were adjustments.  She had many accidents in the house, refused to eat much, and planted herself on the couch in resistance to her crate each morning.  But over time, we’ve all gotten used to each other, the issues have begun to disappear, and greyhound ownership has surpassed our expectations. 

It’s a wonder that a dog can teach us so much about life.  When we question love, there’s Izzy, greeting us with her helicopter tail (which goes round and round, not side to side like most dogs) or following us around from room to room with her “sweet Izzy face”—eyes clear, ears laid back sweetly in submission.  When we begin to take life a little too seriously, we hear her bark softly in her sleep or witness her perform one of her mid-air karate chops after doing her business outside.  When we need to find balance, she’s there each night, begging us with her soft whimper to take a break and cuddle with her on the couch.

Thanks to Izzy, we have become that annoying couple that can’t talk about anything but their dog.  A greyhound calendar hangs proudly in our kitchen, and all I can think about these days is owning a house full of greyhounds.  When friends tell us about the quirks of their children, we jump in with comparative stories about Izzy.  Always, we are at the ready with a list of reasons to adopt not just any dog, but a greyhound.  Clearly, we are ruined. 

My husband and I contemplated taking the plunge into greyhound ownership for well over a year, and now, we keep wondering, “What took us so long?” 

Yes, this blog is about a dog.  But it's also about the daily life lessons this beautiful, black greyhound manages to teach my husband and me.  It's about perspective.  Love.  Contentment.  Patience.  Believe me, there is plenty to write about.  What an adventure, indeed.