barksville.ca

Leaky Pipes

January 1st, 2012

Dear J,

 

Happy New Year

I threw up once.  I mean to say I have thrown up several times, but this was particularly memorable,  if that’s how you describe these things.  It was in 1981 on an overnight train to Lisbon, Portugal.  I had started feeling a bit “off” as evening fell.  With a mind to spare some of the coarser details, the thing that struck me about this incident was that, up until that point, I really had no idea as to the arsenal of eviction tactics available to the digestive system upon deeming its contents to be a much unwanted tenant.  I remember peering into the toilet as I felt the first stirrings.   A slight easing arrived and, ahh, thinking I just might be spared, I looked up at the reflection of  my pathetic self in the mirror.   In retrospect, this really was a case of poor timing.   Superseding any preventative measures, an inordinate amount of puke ejected from within.   We’re talking fire hydrant here.  So surprised was I, no effort was made to direct the flow to the toilet or sink.  Instead, I  marveled as everywhere I looked  the walls became coated with a splotchy orange film that started to run, like legs on a wine glass.  I was awestruck really, until the wretched stink of the event rose and broke my trance.   When I had finished the tiny cubicle looked not unlike someone had within it blown up a large cat.  Clean up was out of the question as supplies were limited to three squares of single ply toilet paper hanging from a filthy dispenser.  I  exited, nodding to the four burly Spaniards in the hall who seemed mostly occupied chain-smoking and muttering things to the women who passed.   I heard a kind of gasping from that crew as I fled to my seat.

The story leading up to, as well as following, that event is interesting on its own-highlights including: a six hour bus trip,  three mustachioed nuns, and a larger than life chocolate bar.  But it is not the story I have set about to relate. I just thought an example of the horror one experiences when stricken with the need to purge in a confined and public space would be fitting.  On a brighter note, I feel somewhat fortunate that this story did not take place in an elevator stuck between floors……….inhabited by a wedding party………where I was the best man.  Wait a minute that was your wedding wasn’t it?

This is what I am want to describe.  See, I woke up, just the other night about 4 a.m., to the familiar smell of dog shit.  I hate the smell of dog shit which is unfortunate because I am basically surrounded by it and picking it up makes for 80% of my job description.   As always, when I am visited by a smell strong enough to arouse from sleep,  there was an attempt to ignore it.  With any luck, it might have been just a particularly well placed bit of canine flatulence.  It wouldn’t be the first time.  Then came the slow constant yip of one dog-about every 15 seconds or so(I tend to time these things like contractions at birth).  This is never good.  Eventually, after about four queries from Phyllis “Do you smell that?”, which is a kind of easily broken code for informing, “Someone, other than she, ought go and investigate.”   I hauled myself down the hall.  The house smelled bloated and dead, but there was no clear indication of an epicenter.  The yipping was from the “west wing,” as we call it.  This is the trailer we annexed onto the side of our existing trailer in an effort to have less dogs in our direct living area.  Basically, though an architectural travesty, it has served its purpose well.  However, going down there at 4 in the morning is risky because you are going to wake a lot of dogs.  You know the saying….

Anyway there was no putting it off.  Once down the hall things became pretty clear.  For starters, you need to visualize our set up.  I don’t know if you have seen them but in Japan they have these little sleeping quarters, basically like a mausoleum with glass doors, that you can sleep in at the airports etc. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsule_hotel if you are interested)  Anyway that is basically our concept at Barksville only we use stacked dog crates.  Some are plastic some are metal.  The dogs seem to like it and it works for us.  The downside of this particular arrangement had just occurred.  One of our favorite guests, Hula, had found herself at a gastrointestinal crossroads and, possessed with not the temerity to let loose a warning racket, had simply erupted from her ass with a force that, I am sure, surprised even herself.  As some dogs do, it looked as if she’d made an attempt to run away from the scene but finding herself limited to the crate simply spun in circles.   This greatly aided in covering about a 6 foot radius with fecal matter ranging from kibble sized lumps to a fine mist.  I found her standing in a ½ inch of shit soup.  The yipping sound was from her neighbor below who couldn’t but take exception to the shit dripping on his head from above.

Where the fuck do you really start?  In my underwear, I opened the door and let her out of her crate.  Oh happy she was and plopped two, shit covered, paws onto my thighs and then merrily trotted down the hall towards the door.  I followed the thirty foot trail of shit managing to step in only some of it and let her out the front door.  Then I went and rescued the one who was getting rained on from above.   He too was gleeful at his release.  The clean up was time consuming.  As often is the case in times like these, this time was passed with some reflection as to the relative benefits of various occupations.

 

Hope the coming year treats you well,

 

Kyle

Helpful Accompanying Notes

August 2nd, 2011

Dear J. This arrived the other day.

General Instructions.

Andy experiences lower back pain and stiffness at times. He was receiving physio and hydrotherapy while in London and did very well. If he seems more stiff than usual, i.e. he has difficulty sitting down(he is slow anyway but this is really slow) or if he has back pain there is an exercise you can do with him.

He lies on his side and you grasp his foot and push the whole leg towards his body and hold for 20 seconds. Then release and straighten and extend his leg straight and hold for 20 seconds. While you are doing this your one hand should be on his back steadying his spine.

You need to do this three times on one side and then turn him over and do it three times on the other side. I would do this twice a day until the stiffness and pain subsides.

I will also give you a heating pad which I lay on his lower back and turn on low for 15 minutes in the evening and 15 minutes in the morning before he gets up. I put the heating pad on at night even if he isn’t having back pain. It goes off automatically in an hour or so. I wouldn’t do it when it warms up.

If the pain continues I would take him in and get some pain killers. I would also limit his exercise for a while although he definitely needs to keep moving.

I just wouldn’t let him really run around.

Right then. Just for the record, Andy is a dog. He’s here for 5 weeks. This is only the first page of four(2 alone dedicated to instructions of physio as well as hydro therapy-why if only we had a current generating pool)outlining the care and maintenance of Andy and the two little ones he comes with. When I am not busy stretching him this way or the other and holding for 20 seconds I am sorting out which of three separate eye drops to administer, all in varying order, three times a day. Then there are the four supplements added to the food. The drops are on account of Andy’s near blindness in one eye brought on by a disease named something I can’t remember. It makes his eye look like it is made of marble(which would be quite cool if it weren’t for the blindness). The other eye is nearly useless from glaucoma. Andy is therefore obviously not a candidate to accurately answer many of the usual questions I ask of all the dogs when we are out on the daily walks. Like, “Say Andy, you wouldn’t happen to know what your owner looks like naked would you?”

There’s more-like the tooth brushing, the ice pack and and a few other odds and sods. The fact is, many people undergo an alteration in rational thought ranging from a little bit to near obliteration when they get an animal. It is fair to say, however, that without this occurrence, we would be in a negative cash flow situation just now.

Extreme doting like above is one thing. It is, at least, harmless. It induces people to spend billions of dollars on their pets. And let’s face it I want as big of a chunk of that dough that I can honestly procure. The real pain in our ass, in this business, is the geniuses that figure they need to keep their pet intact. They all have their reasons. “I’m going to breed him,” is a common delusion.  That’s like having kids to improve a dying marriage. “It’s a show dog,” is another good one. It’s like saying, “Because I spent $5000.00 on this dog, I can’t get him neutered.”  “Oh he’s intact, but it doesn’t effect his behavior,” might just be my favorite. I am thinking to include a few instructional notes of my own for some of these customers not unlike the one above. Like maybe Cal, whose dog is Yeller, an intact Border Collie. I am sure Cal has kept Yeller this way solely because of a misguided perception that somehow snipping his dog will instantly shrink his own balls ’till they wither and fall off.

I could write it in the first person from the dog’s perspective,  like so many of the notes we get with the dogs that come and stay-and add a few of those internet shortcuts latecomers to the computer like to throw in to demonstrate how “hip” they are.

Dear Dad LOB(lots of barks har har),

Here are some notes from my first day at Barksville.  The first bit is  from Kyle;-)

Dear Cal,

Yeller is a great dog, but does have a few issues you might want to consider, when you bitch about us charging more money for him, on account of his larger than life ball sack you insist on preserving. Here is a typical day with him which might contrast slightly from your time together where there are not several other dogs in the vicinity.

Regards,

Kyle

Hey Dad, me again.  As I was saying…..When I arrive at Barksville, I know I have to move fast. Sensing it is only a matter of time before I will be interrupted by a shoe or other relatively soft object hurled at my head, I immediately piss on every horizontal surface in the house. This includes low hanging curtains, computers, chair legs and, if I am really on my game, a well placed squirt into the slightly ajar pot drawer of Kyle’s stove is always a veritable coup. Say, how lovable is that?

Next, it’s out to the back yard to meet the other dogs. Since staying at Barksville is kind of like being in prison(in contrast to home where you just let me wander the streets and turn a blind eye to my antics), I like to get me, what I think they refer to in prison as, “a bitch.” This can take a bit of time because, due to past incidents, Kyle is on to this practice. He really limits access to some of the tastier ones often leaving me confined with dogs that really should be in prison.

In order to avoid his selection, there is a narrow opportunity when it comes to being put in the back yard where I can bolt. This usually leads to a bit of an interaction with Kyle where sometimes I actually have to bite the fucker to get him to let go of me. During the skirmish I’ll throw in a dose of expressed anal glands. You know the stuff dad. It smells like three week old dead skunk and lingers for hours-always like to keep a bit on hand. Boy, did Kyle get mad the last time I did this. I know this because I felt that whoosh of air on my backside that can only be caused by a narrowly missed kick to the ass. LOL

Of course now I am screwed because I have “escaped” to an area where there are no dogs to hump against their wills. So we have a bit of a dilemma here because I need in to the dogs and Kyle, at least by the time you come and get me, needs to maintain the appearance that I love coming here and he loves having me despite the fact that most of this is not true. This illusion will not be maintained if I am seen running around the yard being chased by an angry man wielding a rake, wearing only his boxer shorts and flip-flops.

Eventually I give in and Kyle and I arrive at a sort of detente. I let him know I am cool with this by clutching his leg and thrusting until my little red slug of a penis wiggles out and starts depositing matter. Charming. Besides, seeing how much fun Kyle and I were having, Phyllis decided to let out a whole bunch of dogs for one of the big runs they do here several times a day. Dumb-ass Kyle will never catch me now.

Now it is only a question of selecting the right target. I don’t know about you dad but I’m a same sex kind of guy. I like a youngish, neutered male that really doesn’t have a lot of fight in him(sounds like a personal ad LOL). This week I found “Seeker.” What a beauty. I like to drool all over his back and ride him like a sleigh all around the back yard until Kyle finally catches me in a particularly glazed-over state and the whack of a shovel or something similar throws me off my game. Then, once I’ve recovered from the blow, I just get back on the saddle, as they say.   I do this all day if possible. Sometimes another dog will get the same idea as me in reference to “seeking sex with Seeker.” Well then,  I have to get right vicious with them then don’t I? Nobody moves in on “Ol’ Yeller’s Bitch” One sign of weakness and I might lose him/her for the rest of the stay.

Anyway,  after every big yard run,  it’s back into the smaller pens where often I find I have been coerced(via gum boot to the head) into a different pen than Seeker. Not to worry, I’ll just, as Kyle says, “bark my fucking head off” until I get my way.” And easy with the rake there Kyle-wouldn’t want Daddy to know. And so the day passes with basically a few repeats of the above.

 

As bedtime nears I am invited into the House.  But wait, where’s Seeker?  This calls for special tactics.  A series of high-pitched whistling type yelps designed by the military to induce violent momentary madness upon illegally held detainees ought to do it.

 And how. Next thing I remember I am being dropped into an upended crate(some might say thrown) by Kyle-in his boxers again, and still with the rake-even in the house. But, wait a minute, there’s Seeker in the crate next to me. Wow look at him. Man it’s amazing what a day’s worth of my slime all over his back can do to his coat. He looks like Cameron Diaz in “There’s Something About Mary,” only worse. Nice. You didn’t see that one? Google it Dad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC8wEqUHA2Q&feature=player_detailpage#t=96s

Such a day of excitement.  I am actually pretty tired from all those horizontal refreshments.  Nothing puts me to sleep better than a little off-gassing.  That way when Kyle comes to check on me in the morning he will almost gag from the smells I can produce LOL.  Tonight’s special?   I’m thinking a combination of whatever that stinky hormone is that I feel compelled to pee all over the place, some rather alarming indigestion, and whatever that horrific pus-like stuff that seems to ooze from the nether regions of  us “un-neutereds.” Classy

So thanks again dad for not getting me neutered and thereby paving this endearing relationship between me and Kyle. Kyle says thanks too. LOL,

Yeller

Dear L,

In response to your invitation to contribute to your discussion of, “losing your voice,” regarding your current writing project, I offer you a series of events that has really worked wonders with my creative mojo.

First off, I am pleased to inform you that I received a 19 out of 20 on Constance’s “persuasive paragraph” assignment. Though Constance takes exception with this attribution arguing that her replacement of a single word(suggested by me)and the addition of one final sentence was more than enough to transform an entire paragraph I’d written into an original work of her own. I ventured a contradictory opinion during dinner(after all the subject at hand was “persuasion”) which seemed to accomplish little more then to strengthen her belief that I remain, “like, a total asshole.”

You see, fair Constance has been struggling in her efforts to construct a cohesive paragraph and the item she was intending to turn in was arguably in need of some refinement. So a few nights ago Phyllis hatched a plan intended to help Constance along. One of us would cook dinner and the other would try and write a similar paragraph to the one Constance was working on-only we would tighten it up a bit to provide an example that Constance could use to improve her own. Announcing that I had successfully failed two straight years of high school English largely due to my inability to create such paragraphs I headed for the kitchen. “Not so fast,” said Phyllis, suddenly afflicted with a raging domestic yearning, “I have been planning this meal all week.”

So I sat down and only three hours later(In fairness, this included some extensive internet research as to what exactly might be a “persuasive paragraph,” and, as you know, the internet is a jungle)I had what I thought might be an acceptable example. So I emailed it off to Constance(who was staying at her dad’s by this point)and told her to look at it and see if it might help her clean up her own. Having received her mother’s “shortest distance between two points” gene when the DNA was being divvied out, she, instead, deduced that it might save her a fair bit of time if she were just to hand in the one that I’d sent along-what with all the changes and all.

Anyway, I am really over the moon that our joint effort was so well received by Miss Rhodes as I was a little worried that if a grade 8 teacher were to deem me incapable of stringing together a mere paragraph of coherent thought I might have to finally cave in to that persistent voice that often shouts when I try to write, “Lost your voice dumb ass? You never had a voice. Quit torturing people by trying to make them read all that shit you write. Do some volunteer work or have a beer instead.”

Thing is, I like to write. So do at least ten billion other folks, if the internet is any indication. They go about tapping away trillions of, blah-de-blah-de-blahs describing their piddling little lives, their journeys of self discovery or lessons worth sharing from their uncannily gifted four year old-all this to a captive audience of 3 or 4 family members who haven’t learned yet how to block a sender. The majority of it that I have read(because if you want people to read your crap I figure you should exchange the favor)is downright unbearable. And this is why it is sometimes so difficult to try and write because so much of it is just shit anyway. Why add to the pile? Am I any different? That’s why the goal I set a year ago to try and write something every two weeks has fallen way behind.

But enough self deprecation-this new development has proven quite refreshing. What with Miss Rhodes indirectly informing me(like a message from God)that I can compete at a grade 8 level of English at least in regard to a “persuasive paragraph.” Well there is motivation if ever their was any.  32 years ago my 11th grade English teacher, after struggling through many of my wordy masterpieces, entreated my mother to reveal if there was any chance that I might be mildly retarded. She also noted that I tended to ramble and shared comparable concentration levels with a Labrador puppy. But now I know a different story. So reinforce your in-box and prepare for, what surely will be, a deluge of many confident and pithy missives from the land of Barksville…..albeit from the fresh and innocent perspective of an 8th grader.

I remain, enroute to “finding my voice,”at which point I might have the luxury of losing it,

Kyle

P.S. It was really a Budgie that my English teacher spoke of, as to my ability to concentrate, but as this is supposed to be a collection of things about people and their dogs I decided not much would be lost by throwing in the Labrador.  Actually I was going to say Duck Tolling Retriever but nobody knows what they are.

Dear Editor,

I hereby threaten to lop the head off of a harmless and defenseless,
wait for it, SLED DOG. I am afraid it won’t be a clean kill for I plan
on doing a bunch of unprintable atrocities to it first.   And here’s
why.    I just read a story entitled, “Hundreds Seek to Adopt Puppy
Back from the Dead” about a puppy in Oklahoma that was euthanized
twice and somehow managed to survive the ordeal. As the media would
have it he instantly became a celebrity.

Seems the pup went from being labeled refuse to having a line up of
willing takers simply by having a story that tugged the heartstrings
of the world.  Similar, if it isn’t obvious, to a situation widely in the news but a few forgotten weeks ago.  People were writing in from
England saying they would have taken one of the overstock dogs had
they known of their plight. The Humane Society as well as many
“experts in the field” were claiming the relative ease of finding
suitable homes for 100 SLED DOGS.  Midnight vigils were held across
the world. Candles were lit.  Protest Marches were had. Death threats
were made.

So here’s the deal.  I have ONE SLED DOG that has been fostered for 6
months and now due to a complicated set of circumstances finds herself
living with us while she waits for a suitable home to be found.  Her
current foster home has put up posters, advertised in Pet Finders,
spoken to countless people, and yet the sound of crickets in the room
is overwhelming.

She is not particularly gorgeous but by no means unattractive.  She is
smarter than most which means you are going to have to put in a bit of
effort.  If it’s a door stop you are after then she is not your girl-consider a Lab. She needs to burn off the odd bit of energy.  She is loyal and has a
definite set of qualities that one would find endearing.  I am 6′ 2″
and when she stands on her hind legs her front paws rest on my
shoulders and she almost looks me in the eyes.  She won’t even think
about peeing in your house. In fact, for the right person, she would
make a great companion.

Unfortunately, however, she has no
marketability.  She wasn’t found floating on an iceberg.  Nor was she
the one we picked up with 8 inches of arrow lodged into his chest at
an angle that could have only been achieved by shooting as he lay
submissively on his back.  She wasn’t wounded in a “friendly fire”
incident while I was trying to shoot a cat.  She didn’t save anybody
from a fire. She’s didn’t fight in the Gulf War.  She wasn’t orphaned
when the family car careened into the river leaving her and the infant
child, who she hauled to safety and breastfed for two days until help
arrived, as the soul survivors.   Nope. She’s just a regular old(young
really)dog not unlike  millions of others.  Husky/Grey Hound kind of
thing.

And that, my friends, is why I am going to pour boiling water all over
her(“was, like, totally an accident officer,” I will say and blame it
on the rye and Kool-Aid I had been drinking for two weeks up until the
“incident”)and maybe whack her with a hammer to just within an inch of
her life and hopefully enough to lose an eye or use of a leg say(for
starters) because that seems to be a surefire way to get somebody
interested in providing a good home for a perfectly deserving animal.
Then I will hold a fundraiser which will serve to pay for the surgery
as well as work the crowd into a veritable frenzy.  I mean come on
people, why get just a plain ol’ dog when you could have a media
sensation?

Or…..or maybe, just maybe,  one of you several million people who
showed honest signs of outrage and disgust at recent current affairs
will put your money where your mouth was and step up to the plate.  I
say the honest ones for those who were in it just for the game will,
by now, be “liking” some other media fueled Facebook campaign.
Somebody must have a place in their(active)life for a dog such as she.

If you do, pick up the phone.  I warn you, we are
pretty discerning about handing a dog over to somebody but we know
there is someone out there for her.

Anyway once a home is found for her, I am thinking to continue my “help the needy animals” campaign by setting the local animal shelter on fire as I know they are always looking for volunteers and there is
nothing like a good old disaster to boost up the numbers.  And if I
can’t find my matches when I lapse into this particular bout of
pyromania I might just call the local radio station and threaten to
kill a puppy(and not just any puppy but a cute little puppy)every hour
until my demand for $100,000.00 to the animal shelter is met.  So….ah…LOOK OUT!
Oh yeah, and tax receipts will be issued.

Note to the arresting officer(s).  I’m not actually going to do most
of the things I mention above.  It’s like sarcasm O.K…..We’re cool
right?  Say, you’re not, by any chance, looking for an energetic SLED
DOG?

P.S. If you aren’t in a position to provide a home for a dog in need
but are one of the truly passionate, here are some suggestions:
Volunteer at the local animal shelter.  It will make a difference.  Do
NOT encourage your neighbor when they tell you they are going to breed
their prized family dog, who only bites small children when provoked,
because they want to show the kids about the birth cycle.  Act
locally.  Take a look in your own neighborhood to see what can be done
to improve the lives of the dogs around here. There is plenty I assure
you.

Sincerely,

Kyle P. Dresden,

Barksville

Hurricane Phyllis

February 2nd, 2011

Dear J,

I use “dear” certainly not because I really feel that way, but because I have recently read reports that all of this email and texting nonsense is starting to erode at the essence of the traditional letter. Eventually we’ll be left with nothing but the basest of rudimentary salutations like Yo or Hey You. So Dear it is.

Welcome back from South America. And though I am certain you regret not heeding my alternate destination suggestion of Brazil, where, I am told by people who know these things, lies the single largest concentration of beautiful uninhibited women on the planet, I trust your time spent in Peru, mostly at altitudes difficult to breath without oxygen, was fruitful as well. Oh well hind sight is 20/20. Just remember this little tidbit the next time you make travel plans: In your absence I polled 7 of the local spas specializing in esthetics and am informed that the number of times anyone has ever come in and made a request such as, “Yes, I would like the French clay facial mask, a pedicure, and while you are at it, a full Peruvian,” IS ZERO. Regardless, I am sure your VISA is on life support. Anyway as you have been gone for awhile I have saved up really quite a pile of nonsense and find I have no where else to send it but your way.

Fact is, things have been a bit tense here at Barksville-never a good thing really.  See, the “even keel” is a state of mind which I strive to maintain. For one thing it promotes healthier blood pressure allowing me to eat more salt which, let’s face it, is key. Also, excessive use of the explosive outburst, though comforting for some, really takes it out of me. To combat this I find I really must endeavor to keep things that can trigger anger in perspective. The most helpful tool, ironically, has been a concept that my ex wife introduced to me, involving the notion of “non-attachment” or freedom from “wanting things to be different than they are.” That way if you allow yourself to accept a different outcome than the one expected you manage to redirect feelings that might have otherwise lead to anger.

As you know I have done pretty well with this concept, particularly in the case of my first marriage, a source of great distress, where I was able to foster such non-attachment to the whole thing I shortly found myself very single. Ironic eh? Still, some days it is harder than others.

Take last night for example. Let’s say after a chaotic weekend of too many dogs at the inn, I had optimistically granted myself the surety that this evening would be more restful than the few previous. Who would have known that at about the same time I was settling into such optimism, Candace, the deaf and incontinent Rottweiler, bless her heart, was starting to feel the first few tinges of stomach discomfort that eventually were going to manifest into a spate of late night diarrhea the smell and volume of which I can’t really convey?  Who also would know that coming to my aid in cleaning these several messes would be neither Phyllis nor Constance who, poor dears, seemed both overcome with some coma inducing affliction?  This is where non-attachment comes in handy.

I’ve read about something referred to as “harmonic vibration or resonance,” a conspiracy of bad timing really, that occurs when, let’s say, a bridge that is designed to withstand any number of single huge gusts of wind can nonetheless be toppled by a series of lessor gusts if they are timed such that they use the energy put into action from those previous. Metaphorically, I believe, this is the kind of thing that is behind someone killing all of their co-workers with some lame excuse such as, “The Coke machine failed to produce change.” It’s like the perfect storm. As the evening turned to day I got to feeling a bit like that bridge.

Like I’ve said in the past, Phyllis sometimes suffers from headaches of a magnitude you can’t really imagine. She doesn’t really want you to imagine it, she’d rather they just didn’t happen. But they do. They present themselves in a couple of ways. One is to just strike, POW! In the middle of the night, followed by a day or two of her life spent in and out of the local medical clinic trying to have the ice pick removed from her ear. The other type often ends the same way but has the added bonus of a week or so preamble of generally feeling progressively awful but well enough to cope with most day to day activities. Unfortunately, as the situation worsens, this “coping” arrives at the expense of her normally sunny disposition. Complicating matters is Phyllis’ strong belief that if you deny something is happening there is a much better chance of it not happening. This way if I am not paying close attention to the indicators I am likely to be caught a bit off guard. And believe me, Phyllis is a master of maintaining her game face. It’s not like you are watching an ostrich plonk it’s head into the sand. Nope, she can keep you in the dark right up to the point of impact.  Eventually, however, even she can no longer hide it.

One popular method of exposing how she really is feeling comes via a little game of “Conversational Russian Roulette.”  Simple really. In this case the “gun” is Phyllis’ side of the conversation. The trigger is pulled when something coming from my side of the conversation is deemed irksome.  The bullet, should you be so unlucky, is her inability to hold back anymore and you are treated to an unexpected and explosive response.  As with the real Russian Roulette you start out with pretty good odds. The twist in Phyllis’ version is that each time you manage to effectively dodge a bullet, she adds another until eventually the gun is fully loaded reducing considerably your chances of safely navigating through the conversation.  A game can last five minutes to a day or so. Multiple rounds of this shit can prove corrosive to one’s ability to be civil. Don’t mistake my whining. She does extremely well with all of this. I would have crawled in hole like a little baby never to return were it me in her position. She’s tough my Phyllis. But, like the bridge, in combination with other bothers it can eventually take you down.

So the day after the night of diarrhea is morning 4 of the above described situation. By now Phyllis’ head has progressed to the medical attention stage. I am fried and so is she. I just need Constance to get ready for school and on the bus and then Phyllis and I will make our way to the clinic. While she does this I will get the dogs out to do their morning business and then attend to hopefully the final load of explosive fecal goo Candace managed to deposit on the side of the couch. Constance has been up for the past ½ hour. A perfect world would have seen her occupying herself by feeding the horses, getting her lunch ready and maybe helping me organize the 18 dogs we have milling about the place. Instead she has spent all but the last 15 seconds(required to run out and catch the bus)gagging at the smell of dog shit and scowling at my prodding her to get a move on while she performs an irritating ritual of minute hair adjustments and tries on several different yet basically identical“outfits” leaving all but the finally chosen one in a heap on the floor. Her exit consists of running down the hall, grabbing her pack and stuffing the lunch I have made, with, believe me, true love, into it, and finally a brief inquisition as to what I have done with her math book that she had left “RIGHT THERE,” pointing to the table. I tell her, as I am washing up from hopefully the last clean up of diarrhea, I most likely threw it out into the snow. This, I admit might have been childish. She eventually finds it under the heap of clothes in her room. “Bye Kyle,” she pipes running out to the bus in a foot of snow wearing inappropriate footwear, essentially slippers really, and just narrowly avoiding the imaginary brick I have just tossed at her head. It always amazes me how quickly she can turn from quite acrid to bubbly.

Throughout the shit clean up and Constance evacuation ordeal there is the question of organizing “a rather difficult group” of dogs.  We have two exits from within our house. One is at the front of the house and one is at the back. As a rule the mellow dogs go out the front and the ruffians out the back. Some insist on spending as little time in either area preferring to muck about your feet all day. Today’s particular antagonist is Clem the Weimaraner.  After demanding to be let back in prematurely by repeatedly smashing(literally)into the glass door and barking like a car alarm he commenced pacing about staring intently and creating this desperate whistling sound and running into me at every turn. At the best of times your average Weimaraner looks as if it is in the midst of a surprise prostate exam.

Out back a relentless din of barking erupts. Stopping it involves running down the hall to the back door and trying to locate the perpetrator-always easier said than done. As I sling open the door it all stops and I look down at 5 silent dogs wagging their tails.  Only when I’ve made it all the way back to the kitchen to continue with angel’s lunch does it start again. Repeat. This can go on all morning if you let it. On my return from about the fourth mission of this nonsense I look down to see that the cause of Clem’s more than usual distress is an overwhelming urge to retch all over the freshly cleaned floor. The one success story of the morning is that I manage to get him out the door in time. Speaking of retching, Phyllis has started by now and it is definitely time to get to the clinic before things truly deteriorate. I start bringing all the dogs in and placing them in their individual crates or couch locations depending on the dog-the lock down as we call it. Except for a minor puncture wound from Pixie, an ill tempered Shih-tzu, this goes pretty well.

Time to gather up Phyllis.  I enter the bedroom to tell Phyllis we can finally go-only to hit a spot on the floor that is beyond belief slippery, so much so that I slide into the end of the bed and crack open my shin. Later investigation will reveal that part of Constance’s hair management routine involves the generous application of a product called “Mane n’ Tail” which as the label indicates is meant to untangle the most stubborn of tangles a horse might encounter. What it doesn’t say is that if the thirteen year old uses it for her own hair and then leaves the bottle sideways on the floor there is a good chance of some of the stuff leaking out and unknowingly turning any surface into a skating rink. I limped off to the truck and away we went.

That’ll take us to 9:00AM

I guess what I haven’t mentioned so far is that on top of all of this, just yesterday and not yet knowing how poorly Phyllis was really feeling, I had convinced her to break a 20 year tradition and get her hair cut by someone new.  “Change things up a bit,” I’d said. You know, really, in retrospect, this was a bad idea. One of the symptoms of these headaches, once they are in full swing, is that the ability to put a thing in its proper perspective really suffers. In this case what I thought was quite a lovely haircut had become “probably the shittiest haircut ever performed on the face of this earth by a woman so maligned in her understanding of what the CUSTOMER HAS ASKED FOR she should be tied to a post and stoned to death.” Cajoling a girl in Phyllis’ state out of such a head space is not going to happen casualty free especially when you were the one that urged her to do it in the first place. I do make an attempt, however, by saying, “I say we give her a Peruvian.”  She looked at me like I was a Martian. And so, as Phyllis alternated between puking into a bucket and lashing out at that little twat of a hairdresser I continued to dodge bullets and drove us to the clinic.

Today Phyllis was going to be awhile so I return to Barksville to man the ship so to speak. I am all for a bit of a short break, maybe a coffee and a bit of writing before getting back into the fray. See, not unlike the rest of the population, if I had my druthers I would do precisely nothing for the bulk of my days. Nothing that involves the notion of “toiling” that is. Writing useless twaddle like this and cooking the appropriate meals matched with tantalizing wines doesn’t count. Nor does surfing the web for unattainable, financially speaking, holiday ideas for that matter. The pursuit of this can actually use up a fair bit of energy truth be told. And so Phyllis at the clinic and Constance incarcerated at school I set about fulfilling my quest for inactivity, that being the writing of this letter….The dogs, on the other hand are for something basically on the opposite end of the spectrum.

That was six weeks ago and as you can see I am not quite finished but I will press on now constructing the finale on memory instead of observation.

As I recall not a lot of writing happened that day as the dogs were basically relentless. I had to resort to running them around the yard until they had rid themselves of all that energy otherwise directed at barking seemingly just to piss me off. (Now if I am to follow the advice of my new copy of “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White that sentence would end something like, “off with which to piss me.”) Whatever. As the day progressed things were starting to mount and I couldn’t help but notice that the non-attachment thing was starting to wane and I had started to resort to some rather assertive dog handling. I mean nothing to pique the interest of the S.P.C.A. but more in a patience running out sort of way. For instance, we have one here named Chelsea who goes berserk if I leave her in a crate while I feed the rest of the dogs. So the understanding is that I feed her first and then she will sit on her chair instead. Her perennial hunger drive always gets the better of her and before you know it you are tripping all over her while you try to get the other dog’s food ready. I know from past experience that I can gently lead her back to the chair and give her a stern “stay” and she will last a minute or two and then we repeat that in little increments until I essentially blow up. Or, I can skip all the in between steps and just put her on her chair-only this time the second she so much as twitches I charge at her like a rutting rhinoceros screaming with spit flying and the veins popping out of my neck. In this fashion we convince her to remain seated until all of the feeding is finished. The key here is that you aren’t actually mad, for that would have deleterious effects on the said blood pressure, but rather acting in a manner which convinces her that you are mad. If done properly she is happy and so am I. However as each of the 18 dogs on the premises confronts you with the need to employ similar modes of shorthand the line between acting enraged and being so starts to fade.

Anyway by now it was time to go and get Phyllis from the clinic.  She got in the truck, pointed at her hair, and started to cry. If it’s a “good” headache we are done with the clinic. If not we will be back again before the day is through. This is not a good one. There is always a bit of time for a game of Roulette however.  Back at home on her way to the bedroom she spies a single dirty plate beside the sink and starts slamming things around yielding to a sudden requirement to sanitize the kitchen while mumbling things like “What pigs you two are.” It’s the morphine, I convince myself and try to get her to go and sleep. By now, however, the ol’ bridge is starting to swing.

Oh well, it’ll pass. Phyllis is finally sleeping and soon enough Constance wafts in like a breath of fresh air home from school. She needs to go to a piano lesson but has forgotten her music at her dad’s house and it is imperative that we get this right away as she hasn’t practiced once since her last lesson. I tell her in the kindest way, “Go piss up a rope.” She takes exception to this. We pack in the truck to go get her music. Half way to her dad’s house the phone rings. Clark is sitting at the gate 2 hours before he said he would arrive wanting to pick up his dog-the one he dropped off unannounced at 7 in the morning. We open at 8. Clark likes to talk a lot. He starts every sentence with a sigh. We head back to the house. I get his dog. He hasn’t brought any money (again). I do my best not to engage as he really would go on for the rest of his life if you let him. Truthfully I wasn’t very nice. We get back in the truck and get the music. When we get home her piano teacher calls to remind her that her lesson had been canceled. when pressed, Constance vaguely remembers something along these lines but responds negatively when I call her on it. Suspecting she is now free from any other obligation she embarks upon a mission to watch the TV while I get things organized. I suggest an alternative to this plan.

With Phyllis feeling poorly and mostly out of commission there is left some slack needed to be taken up in the operations here at Barksville and as it turns out I am looking to little Constance for a bit of support and hence not really feeling the TV thing just now. This is not going to be easy. Not only does she treat most appeals for aid as preposterous impositions on her extremely busy life, getting her to help out, in this instance, is going to first require breaking the hypnotizing trance the TV seems to hold over her. She is listening with ear buds because I can’t stand the noise and she hates being distracted when it comes to TV. I am going to go out on a limb here but I would wager that I could remove one of her fucking kidneys using only primitive tools and no anesthetic while she was under the spell of that TV and she would be left none the wiser. After a few subtle but ignored attempts to break through her wall of concentration I opt for a more direct approach. “Constance!” I say, hauling the ear buds from her ears. “Wha-ut!?” she manages, noticeably irritated. “As you know, your mom’s feeling poorly so I wouldn’t mind if you could feed the horses while I feed the dogs.” Looking down at her I sense she is confused as to what exactly it is that I am getting at. “I fed them yesterday,” she spouts finally with one eye still on the screen. “Feed them now or I swear I’ll kill you,” I suggest. She thinks for a minute but by all indications seems insufficiently moved to actually move. “On second thought,” I say, swatting the off switch, “I’m not going to kill you, I’m going to kill the God damn TV for the next 24 maybe 36 hours.” Now she’s moving.

With the dogs all fed and everybody out for a short run I leave Constance at the helm and run my well coiffed girl back to the clinic for hopefully the last time.  On the way back I pick up some Sushi for Constance to avoid messing up the kitchen.  “Watch the dogs O.K?,” I say to Constance. She doesn’t look up but grunts in the positive while she eats her Sushi and mouthing the words to the show she is watching. She confesses to being on her third screening of this particular show.

I head to the bedroom.  Ahhhhhh, feet up. Silence.  Half an hour or so passes when the bedroom fills with the paint peeling stench of canine fecal matter.  I get out of bed to investigate. I look first at our little Judy to make sure she hasn’t died and gone septic in the last 10 minutes. Nope the smell is coming from further afield. I walk down the hall thinking it has got to be near. I make it to the kitchen. Still nothing. I spy Constance at the TV. She doesn’t notice me. I walk right up behind her. I look to my right and there, not five feet away from her lies, if you would imagine, a pile of shit the size of an entire melted container of Haagan Daz spreading out on the floor. It is gag worthy. If such a thing is possible, Constance seems completely unaware of her proximity to the foul mess. I go to the bathroom and get the appropriate tools(we are good at dog shit management around here)in this case a dust pan and a squeegee. It requires three trips to the bathroom and a final going over with bleach and paper towel. Any signs of the entire operation have eluded Constance. I stood behind her for a minute wondering if I should club her with that math book that she will be asking about in the morning.

I retrieve Phyllis for the final time. She is substantially improved. With everything done that needs to be done for awhile and Phyllis finally able to eat, I bring some food and retire to the bedroom to hang out with my lovely wife who really is lovely.  Just in time she has returned from the dead. The Roulette gun is safely stored, safety on. Today has passed without a breakdown due to “harmonic resonance.”  We talk. Peaceably. Calmly. We laugh. She finds me more funny than irritating. I mean let’s face it almost everybody finds me often irritating.  Why it’s almost as if nothing ever happened.

Best of all, I have a sneaky suspicion that tonight I am going to sleep like the dead. I turn out the light and say, “Good night Phyllis. I love you.” She purrs, “I love you too.” A minute goes by.  “But, I can’t believe what that bitch did to my hair.”

I remain,

Looking forward to hearing more of your travels,

Kyle

Facebook is a Dangerous Tool

November 24th, 2010

Kyle Dresden Wrote: November 24 at 12:38am

Hypothetically speaking, if you ran a small dog boarding facility and one of the “guests” saw fit to discover the small leghold trap you had baited with bacon grease and set underneath the sink to detain and later torture (because that’s the kind of guy you are) a small squirrel that had managed to infiltrate the perimeter and this “guest” was going to require surgery, would you notify the owners even if they were on holiday on a small tropical island and couldn’t do anything about it anyway?

Merv Perkins Wrote: November 24 at 2:49pm

So what’s the deal with Chester’s paw/leg really? If it’s nasty and not gonna heal well might just put him down instead.
Depends on if he’ll have good mobility post fix.
Let us know.

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Kyle Dresden Wrote: November 24 at 3:22pm

I said hypothetically. Your man Chester is as good as ever although I suspect he broke into the kitchen for a bit of a foray into the 6 eggs Phyllis saw fit to leave in a bucket on the floor yesterday. Can’t really blame him under the circumstance. Enjoy your trip, seriously. If anything really happens to Chester when he is here it would be presented far more professionally than above and, of course, you would return home to find our place abandoned with no forwarding address.

Merv Perkins Wrote: November 24 at 3:46pm

hmmm… Flo thinks that was as funny as when you paid our son $10 to eat the hot pepper. You’d better hope my daughter shows up drunk and disorderly at your house at two in the morning again in need of safe transit home so that you can pay penance and we can call it square.
Love you anyway, mon. Peace.

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Kyle Dresden Wrote: November 24 at 5:47pm

I’ll send photos of proof of happy dog once Phylis returns with the camera as she heard there is a moose living in the back of Al Bundy’s place and she figures we need a record of this to forever treasure. For the one I send to you I will remove the caption that’s on the posters, “12 beers buys you this very desirable dog.” Tell Flo I seriously meant no distress and I hope she is able to enjoy the rest of your holiday stress free at least as far as Chester goes. There’s nothing I can do about you.

Mamma’s Boy

October 30th, 2010

Hello Pasquale,

Please find the enclosed invoice for October.

As well, I am afraid we might have put Tony off this week when he picked up Paisley. I do feel a bit of an explanation on our part is in order.  Though slightly long winded I will try and condense a bit of back ground.

We give you a deal for your son Tony’s dog care for two reasons. One is, simply the persistence employed on your part in negotiating the deal in the first place after the “falling out” as it were between us and your son involving incidents outlined in a previous letter which resulted in you generously offering to pay for your son’s dog care from therein after.  The main reason, however, is we really like Paisley and felt bad that in order for your son to avoid using us and paying our exorbitant rates he subjected Paisley to a three hour car ride to and from your place without the foreknowledge that Paisley would spend the entire trip throwing up in the backseat. Over time, however, a few issues have once again arisen which put a strain on the arrangement.

It is important to note our hours are between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Though we do occasionally allow  pick ups and drop offs outside of these hours for extenuating circumstances we also charge extra for this service as it disrupts the small bit of time we have in the day to ourselves.  Tony’s schedule dictates that it is more convenient for him to drop off and pick up outside of our regular hours so we accommodate him.  This allows him to leave for work at his convenience and saves him having to drive back into town the day after he arrives home thus saving you the expense of another night’s stay.  As far as I can tell there’s nothing really in it for us.  At any other kennel in a 100 mile radius of here he would have to leave early enough to get there within their hours and pick up the following day.  We agreed to do this in the spirit of offering good service but also felt it should be treated with a degree of respect. The assumption seems to be, for Tony anyway,that these have become our regular hours of operation.  When he is going to be later than 9:00 and he gets his friend Paul to pick up the dog we wonder why he doesn’t arrange this within our regular hours of operation.  Also, hearing Tony say on occasion that he wants to finish watching the football game before dropping off Paisley contributes to our fears that a favor is being abused.

On top of this is a low grade insinuation on Tony’s part that we aren’t really doing the best for Paisley.  One issue in particular is Paisley seems never to come with enough food for her stay.  We had been feeding the prescribed amount for Paisley and consistently coming up short.  After a a few episodes of this I asked Tony about it and he said we were feeding Paisley too much.  We then cut back Paisley’s food as requested but still found ourselves regularly out of food before Paisley left. On Paisley’s last visit I physically measured out the food provided and saw that there was only food for two days though she was to be here for three.  The niggling nature of all of this is not lost on me, it’s a few cups of food after all, but it is sort of key to the incident.  When Tony called to say Paisley would be staying an extra day and, was there enough food? I told him that actually he had shorted us in the first place.  This was met with disbelief.  I can’t come up with any real reason I would feel the need to tell someone they hadn’t supplied enough food for their dog if in fact they had.  But, despite having worked for 5 years as a professional chef,  I suppose I could just as easily mis-measure 6 cups for 9 as could Tony.  I’ve always been more of a handful guy anyway.  I suggested we not worry about it as after all it seemed a bit ridiculous.  Tony, on the other hand, didn’t really want to let it go.  Arguing with the person that gets the best deal we have ever offered over three cups of dog food is tedious at best.

The next day when Tony called to say he would be at our place in 30 minutes to pick up Paisley he couldn’t help but rekindle his certainty that I must have miscalculated when I measured that food.   In turn I expressed my certainty that my head would explode if he insisted on talking about this anymore.   After forty-five minutes had passed and Tony had still not shown up I called to say we would meet him in town as we were now late for a pre-arranged pick up for Phyllis’ daughter from a school trip. Apparently Tony was late because he took the time to stop and purchase some measuring cups in order to provide, by way of example, the exact size cup he had used to measure Paisley’s food.  This was probably not the best idea as unfortunately Phyllis now found herself confronted with the suspicion that her kid had been sitting at the school waiting to be picked up for 25 minutes as a result of Tony’s preoccupation over three cups of food.  All of this contributed to the creation of  less than ideal conditions for Phyllis in the area of rational discussion and I am afraid it did not go as well as it could have.

We feel Tony is getting a particularly good deal and very good service for your money.  We have plenty of dogs that use us more frequently that pay full price, which is less than any other facility in the area to start with, and seem more than satisfied. Therefore we regret Tony’s dissatisfaction.  Paisley, as always, is welcome here whenever it is required.  We just ask that, as we feel we go out of our way to accommodate a few special needs on Tony’s part, that he consider acknowledging the fact by behaving less with resentment as if he is barely getting “his” money’s worth.  Under the circumstances, occasionally hearing something like, “Thanks for taking such good care of Paisley.  I appreciate you going the extra mile.” would earn a lot more good will than a dissertation on volume measures.

Best Regards,

Kyle at the Hotel

Dear Olive,

Today is slowish here at the hotel and so I’ll bother you.

I’ve just spent about 20 minutes extracting an amalgamation of some very special sludge that had seen fit to plug the sink drain. This introduces two opposing schools of thought here at Barksville. I find myself most often in search of reasons as to how situations of this nature might arise. As my arm was the one, in this case, covered in “sink pus” I am often looking toward prevention. This most often involves naming a culprit. Phyllis and Constance(who, let’s face it, are clearly at the root of the problem in the first place based on the observation that my hair is currently about ½ inch long whereas the eight inch putrefied plug of hair I hauled out of the sink drain proved significantly longer and of a different color)are more of the opinion that pulling a mummified wad of goo comprised of fermented matter wrapped in child’s hair from the bowels of a very tentative plumbing system falls not into the category of the easily preventable but rather that of general maintenance. They aver that one can’t prevent these things just like you can’t prevent dust from settling on horizontal surfaces. They also see my tendency to “want to get to the bottom of it” as little more than witch hunting.  I’ll hear them commiserating,“Who cares whose hair it is?(Kyle does) Just tell him to fix it I need to brush my teeth” (This provokes me to consider topping up the toothpaste container with some of the matter from the sink)About now in the game I can’t resist offering Phyllis, what I assume anyone could see as, a logically parallel scenario. “Who cares if I pee outside of the confines of the toilet bowl? Just clean it up and get me a beer.” Based on the look she gave me I could see the intended connection was not made. Instead I could sense a bit of hostility brewing. Constance was my last hope.  “Hey Constance, as luck would have it I have laid your dependency on wearing that special t-shirt with the sparkly bits to school five days a week to rest.  You know the one.  You are usually wearing it in the morning while you stare hypnotized-like in the mirror not noticing the squirrel you have just brushed out of your hair in an effort to get things “just right” has inadvertently washed down the sink drain as you rinsed your toothbrush. Anyway, I used it this morning to clean up a rather large bit of kitty yak I couldn’t help but notice had made it’s way behind the toilet.  Amazing absorbency that shirt.  Not only did it pick up the kitty hurl but(since I was already down there)it also managed to swipe away most of my daily misdirected pee quota.  I suppose I could have walked to the kitchen and got some paper towel but I was really, actually really really tired and your shirt was right there.  Anyway it’s hanging in a plastic bag outside the back door if you need it.  I shook it out but you might want to wash it a couple times before you wear it again.  I’m pretty sure she said, “I hate him mommy.”  Phyllis said, “I hate him too.”

It all reminds me of a smart ass comment I said to Mr. Ketchum, the janitor at my elementary school, when I was in the fourth grade or so as he was mumbling about cleaning up some mess that I might have been partially responsible for(who was to know all that paper towel in the urinal would create such havoc?). “Well if there weren’t any messes Mr. Ketchum, you would be smack dab out of a job.” Mister Ketchum took exception to my thoughtful efforts to keep him employed. In retrospect it is fair to say that I deserved the paddling delivered by our hands on southern Baptist principal who took his Old Testament seriously. I was just glad that I hadn’t poked out one of Mr. Ketchum’s eye’s or knocked out a tooth.

I guess really I am the one to blame for my anxiety over matters concerning general maintenance. After all it’s me who insists on doing most of it despite offers of assistance from Phyllis. Don’t get me wrong, Phyllis is very enterprising and perfectly capable of fixing almost anything. For instance about 6 weeks ago when faced with a couple of sluggish electric toothbrushes and no handy replacement batteries she remembered that I had installed two new battery operated smoke detectors just the week before. As dental hygiene clearly takes precedence over burning to death in your sleep the detectors now lie strewn about the laundry area minus batteries and that thingy that holds them in place. Problem solved. As a bonus we can once again burn whatever we please in the oven with out the inconvenience of setting off one of the alarms. Truth is smoke detectors are a little over rated. Though this place is probably on par with a hydrogen balloon in terms of burn rating I figure it is so small we’d probably smell the smoke before things really got out of hand…wouldn’t you think?

Anyway since I started writing this(weeks ago)it has gone from slow to rather busy around here making it difficult to concentrate on boring you to death with this letter.  As I have been trying to slag Phyllis up above in that last paragraph, I have also been to the back door three times to try and find out who is behind this incredible racket(hound cross passing time by howling just until I get to the door and then waiting till I get back to my chair to start again), I have turned the espresso machine on as a diversion to writing and most recently I had to traipse out and haul a rather large turd that was dangling from a piece of grass lodged in the rear end of a visiting puppy. It looked not unlike the thing I pulled out of the sink earlier. The puppy was doing her best to run away from it so I had to chase her down. I thought about really using Constance’s t-shirt but opted for paper towel at the last minute. I am also a bit testy as sleep was pretty intermittent last night as Walter the Pug, for whom Phyllis pulled rank and granted the right to sleep in our room, seemed especially restless and agitated. It turns out Walter has a special use for his little bed.  Around the third time he had humped the thing off the chair and 30 feet down the hall I decided he’d be best sleeping in a crate after all. Phyllis was too busy laughing to be of much help.

On a sad note, one of our regulars has gone missing(not from here). Yolanda the Yorkie known best for her feisty personality and indiscriminate soiling throughout the house has disappeared. Where she lives this most likely means a cougar, a bear, a coyote, or one of the packed up dogs that roam about her area decided to include her in their food chain. At two pounds she couldn’t have put up much of a fight. She could bring you to the boiling point and then just as quickly have you laughing at her ridiculous antics. One of the reasons I like doing this business(I know it doesn’t often sound like it but who wants to hear how great everything is?)is because theoretically you get to be around dogs without the personal attachment of actually owning them. Unfortunately this is not working out so well in practice particularly with the more regular dogs like Yolanda. Her owners are devastated and we will miss her.

Well that’s about it for now.  All that coffee is taking effect and I am off to see how close I can pee to the edge of the toilet rim.  They’ll never know who did it if I miss and besides, who cares?  We’re all adults here.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year?  Dad’s 80th?

I remain, doing very little when in fact there is quite a lot to do just now,

Kyle

P.S. If you receive news about us perishing in a home fire please don’t tell the insurance people about the smoke detectors or Cindy will never get through college.

Momentary Loss of Composure

September 28th, 2010

Dear Clare,

The rain is here serving to illustrate a few of the shortcomings of our setup.  A huge bit of malicious digging that has been going on over the course of the summer has seriously compromised our wood chip, mud reducing ground cover.  Now the normally quite straight forward activity of letting a few dogs in the house has produced several thousand muddy footprints down the hall and an indiscriminate slathering of goo on the walls and fridge.

This all started when I thought, out of the goodness of my heart, I would let Cal, the massive pit bull with the temperament of a church mouse but a coat as thick as saran wrap, in out of the rain.  The result of trying to get one out of the pack is often like yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theater as they all rush to be the one you pick.  Cal, the one dog that I meant to grab, of course, fled for it’s life amid the melee.

It is this kind of thing that can provoke a disregard for Phyllis’s number one rule, “Don’t expect to instantly correct one dog’s bad behavior while it stays with us let alone 15 at once.” as well as my own personal rule, “Don’t explode into a rage of profanity and physical contact in response to a dog’s natural instincts for although this can be quite an effective means of communication in an emergency situation it could be misinterpreted by those unfamiliar to your methods and result in calls to the SPCA or even local law enforcement.”  I believe I was without witness this morning but this is how I remember it.

“Hey Cal, let’s get you out of the rain, ya big ol guuuyy.” I said cheerfully as I opened the door and leaned into the rain.  I wasn’t naive enough to think it was going to be so easy but sometimes it is worth a try.  Cal looked up hopefully and wagged his tail but then retreated back a bit as nine other dogs rushed the door. “Back!” I said moving into the crowd.  Most of our dogs come pre-trained by their owners to respond to any verbal command by jumping straight at you in an attempt to reach as high as possible with their front paws. Sometimes I like to preempt this by swinging towards the offending dog with my leg out for the shorter one’s or my hands to push away the taller ones.  An untrained eye might interpret this sort of thing as kind of a kicking and punching motion which is why if you find yourself in need of these techniques it is best to do so out of sight of the untrained eye.  Of course with nine of them a few are bound to “get through.”  The trick now, in response to the husky cross with the stupid owner leaping against your back and “digging in” quite possibly dislodging a mole while a hound cross wails enthusiastically 3 inches from your face for she has misread your screams of pain for an indication that you are on to the scent of something big, is to remain calm yet still communicate that you regard this as “inappropriate behavior” that you don’t see fit to reward.   If you don’t communicate this firmly enough it is just going to encourage things isn’t it?  On the other hand if you over-communicate you might scar them for life.

Unfortunately the situation had sort of progressed to scarring for life.  Once I finished the communication process(which involved a regrettable amount of profanity as well as the hose and a few  projectiles)Cal had moved a mere two miles away and could be seen pressing himself against the back fence while the others were holding a respectable 10 feet or so like statues. Although misguided I did feel a slight bit of, “See Phyllis, with a concentrated effort one can accomplish the impossible.” Luckily she was hiding in the bathroom(a favorite spot of refuge when she senses an incident brewing)for all of this and could only imagine what all the fuss was about.  Now the only trick was to extract Cal from the back fence and escort him into the house.

In the end I brought a few more in as well as Cal to reward their good behavior.  They all responded to this bit of good fortune by breaking into the “Happy Dance” bouncing and skidding down the hall and violently shaking the contents of their sodden coats wherever they saw fit.

I remain, considering the possible ramifications of foregoing my 2 cups of coffee limit,

Kyle

Dear J,

Based on the fact that it has been two months and I have yet to hear a reply from my previous missive I thought I might just overlook that certain oversight and rather take the opportunity to ask a little advice based on the following rant.

Traveling instructions for Bianca B Fishbone

Morning:

½ Package of Frozen meat/cheese mixture

3 x ¼ inch slices of raw potato chopped coarsely

2 slices of raw red pepper also chopped coarsely

½ Cup dry dog food

Evening:

Same

For our convenience, she has been trained to “Do Her Business” in the house. We use pads specially designed for this purpose but you can use a towel if that works.

Have a great time with our little Bianca and give her lot’s of hugs and belly rubs.

Thanks

Her Dad


This careful and well thought out regimen seems to afford Bianca with a little digestive short hand. Rather than the formation of a stool Bianca produces instead a substance the consistency of roofing tar which(apparently a sign of responding well to her training)she seems to have no compunction depositing anywhere(other than outside) she pleases including her bed. Fortunately her rear end is usually sewn shut from a big mat of unruly fur which has a filtering effect. Without this I am sure she could paint the walls from three feet away.


So the “missing” instruction would read as follows: While waiting for Bianca to “Do Her Business,” prepare a warm tub(About 105 degrees)and, with a dab of hypo allergenic soap, gently clean all fecal matter from approximately the lower third of her body. While she is air drying you can replace all of her bedding and scrape the little bits off the wall.


Sometimes here at Barksville we find it necessary to be liberal with the interpretation of instructions.


But what I meant to ask about here and, as I said, I mean to call upon your newly acquired mediation skills, is the notion of instructions and how do you get one to both comprehend and “Obey” them. If we are liberal with customer’s instructions on occasion how should we expect others to not follow suit? Straight up we don’t always follow things to the tee because some of them are beyond ridiculous. Secondly we don’t throw these lapses of customer trust in their faces. Nobody, for instance, save for Phyllis and myself need know that little Pooky missed out on the daily requested expression of her anal glands most(okay all)of the days she stayed with us. Nor do we feel the need to inform Blanche’s owners that we sometimes “forgot” to apply her s.p.f. 30 medicated lip balm every day during her stay partly because it was overcast but also because it was stupid.(You think I am kidding.) But never do we decide not to feed them or give them fresh water or generally try to insure they have a good time here.


Justification in Bianca’s case comes from the perception that her instructions, especially if you take into consideration the “missing” one, often seem a lot to ask in exchange for $25.00. And let’s face it if she misses out on a few juliennes of red pepper what of real consequence could go wrong? On the other hand asking us to feed her, look after her and make sure she has a little fun seems perfectly in line. Even if she does tend to bite as a general response to any interaction.


So all this begs the question, if we have no problem following basic valid instructions how might we go about getting customers to follow suit?


In our case we have a few simple requests which seem reasonable enough. But maybe they’re not? You tell me Mister Mediator. In particular there are three signs on the gates to our yard. They all say the same thing. The main body has four words(five if a contraction counts as two). “DON’T OPEN THIS GATE” Then, you are asked to honk your horn or call our cell number. To us the sentiment seems relatively straightforward. They stay there, make their presence known and then we come meet them at the gate. The consequences of not following these instructions could be tragic considering the proximity of the highway but for many customers there is a certainty that we must be referring to somebody else. And, to boot, they do it blatantly in front of us. Now had the sign read “ Women, Please Remove All Clothing Before Proceeding Through the Gate” or “Please Note: All Men Are Requested to Express Their Anal Glands and Apply Lip Balm Before Proceeding Through the Gate,” I would expect some non-compliance, at least from the men. As this clearly isn’t the case we occasionally are a bit mystified. We have tried everything.


English is the predominant language in these parts and so we have chosen to write the signs in English. We also express our concerns about the gate repeatedly throughout our website complete with reasons and illustrations why we feel it is important. You know, things like; “This is Pooky (picture of Pooky)This is Pooky after you let her out the gate and 9 of the 18 wheels of a semi-truck have crushed her(picture of cow patty)”


I have tried nice polite reminders. “Please in future just wait at the gate O.K? You never know who is here and believe me there are some crafty ones” “Oh yeah, no problem,” they might say only to offend again and again. I have tried sarcasm. “Boy some people(indicating an imaginary person to my left) don’t read our signs at all.” I might say while they walk through the gate apparently sure they’re not “that” person.  I have tried clear bold statements.  For instance one guy sent his 11 year old kid to open the main gate thinking he might drive right in despite the fact that there were 9 dogs just on the other side of it.   When I saw the kid making the attempt I ran from the house in a rage “Hey(dumb ass)don’t even consider opening that gate! There is a sign right there(pointing to it just in case he was having trouble comprehending) and you could have gotten a dog killed.” He replied, “I wouldn’t let that happen.” I replied, “As if 9 dogs are going to just sit there while you slide open a 16 foot gate. You have no idea what you could have let happen you hapless git now call your kid away from that gate or I’ll cave in his head!” This said with little bits of spit flying about and other signs of madness maybe a bit like the gorilla at the zoo. This one actually worked mind we never saw that customer again.


Anyway, short of padlocking our gate I thought you might be able to shed a bit of wisdom on creative ways to engage the reader that are as effective as the last one but perhaps less damaging to the overall theme here at Barksville.


I trust all is well in the Capital city?


I remain, slightly short of being affectionately referred to as, “level headed,”


Kyle

Dear J,

Based on the fact that it has been two months and I have yet to hear a reply from my previous missive I thought I might just overlook that take the opportunity to

Traveling instructions for Bianca B Fishbone

Morning:

½ Package of Frozen meat/cheese mixture

3 x ¼ inch slices of raw potato chopped coarsely

2 slices of raw red pepper also chopped coarsely

½ Cup dry dog food

Evening:

Same

For our convenience, she has been trained to “Do Her Business” in the house. We use pads specially designed for this purpose but you can use a towel if that works.

Have a great time with our little Bianca and give her lot’s of hugs and belly rubs.

Thanks

Her Dad

This careful and well thought out regimen seems to afford Bianca with a little digestive short hand. Rather than the formation of a stool Bianca produces instead a substance the consistency of roofing tar which(apparently a sign of responding well to her training)she seems to have no compunction depositing anywhere(other than outside) she pleases including her bed. Fortunately her rear end is usually sewn shut from a big mat of unruly fur which has a filtering effect. Without this I am sure she could paint the walls from three feet away.

So the “missing” instruction would read as follows: While waiting for Bianca to “Do Her Business,” prepare a warm tub(About 105 degrees)and, with a dab of hypo allergenic soap, gently clean all fecal matter from approximately the lower third of her body. While she is air drying you can replace all of her bedding and scrape the little bits off the wall.

Sometimes here at Barksville we find it necessary to be liberal with the interpretation of instructions.

But what I meant to ask about here and, as I said, I mean to call upon your newly acquired mediation skills, is the notion of instructions and how do you get one to both comprehend and “Obey” them. If we are liberal with customer’s instructions on occasion how should we expect others to not follow suit? Straight up we don’t always follow things to the tee because some of them are beyond ridiculous. Secondly we don’t throw these lapses of customer trust in their faces. Nobody, for instance, save for Phyllis and myself need know that little Pooky missed out on the daily requested expression of her anal glands most(okay all)of the days she stayed with us. Nor do we feel the need to inform Blanche’s owners that we sometimes “forgot” to apply her s.p.f. 30 medicated lip balm every day during her stay partly because it was overcast but also because it was stupid.(You think I am kidding.) But never do we decide not to feed them or give them fresh water or generally try to insure they have a good time here.

Justification in Bianca’s case comes from the perception that her instructions, especially if you take into consideration the “missing” one, often seem a lot to ask in exchange for $25.00. And let’s face it if she misses out on a few juliennes of red pepper what of real consequence could go wrong? On the other hand asking us to feed her, look after her and make sure she has a little fun seems perfectly in line. Even if she does tend to bite as a general response to any interaction.

So all this begs the question, if we have no problem following basic valid instructions how might we go about getting customers to follow suit?

In our case we have a few simple requests which seem reasonable enough. But maybe they’re not? You tel me Mister Mediator. In particular there are three signs on the gates to our yard. They all say the same thing. The main body has four words(five if a contraction counts as two). “DON’T OPEN THIS GATE” Then, you are asked to honk your horn or call our cell number. To us the sentiment seems relatively straightforward. They stay there, make their presence known and then we come meet them at the gate. The consequences of not following these instructions could be tragic considering the proximity of the highway but for many customers there is a certainty that we must be referring to somebody else. And, to boot, they do it blatantly in front of us. Now had the sign read “ Women, Please Remove All Clothing Before Proceeding Through the Gate” or “Please Note: All Men Are Requested to Express Their Anal Glands and Apply Lip Balm Before Proceeding Through the Gate,” I would expect some non-compliance, at least from the men. As this clearly isn’t the case we occasionally are a bit mystified. We have tried everything.

English is the predominant language in these parts and so we have chosen to write the signs in English. We also express our concerns about the gate repeatedly throughout our website complete with reasons and illustrations why we feel it is important. You know, things like; “This is Pooky (picture of Pooky)This is Pooky after you let her out the gate and 9 of the 18 wheels of a semi-truck have crushed her(picture of cow patty)”

I have tried nice polite reminders. “Please in future just wait at the gate O.K? You never know who is here and believe me there are some crafty ones” “Oh yeah, no problem,” they might say only to offend again and again. I have tried sarcasm. “Boy some people(indicating an imaginary person to my left) don’t read our signs at all as I watch them walk through the gate apparently sure they’re not “that” person.” I have tried clear bold statements(this to a guy who sent his 11 year old kid to open the main gate thinking he might drive right in despite the fact that there were 11 dogs just on the other side of it). When I saw the kid making the attempt I ran from the house in a rage “Hey(dumb ass)don’t even consider opening that gate! There is a sign right there(pointing to it just in case he was having trouble comprehending) and you could have gotten a dog killed.” He replied, “I wouldn’t let that happen.” I replied, “As if 11 dogs are going to just sit there while you slide open a 16 foot gate. You have no idea what you could have let happen you hapless git now call your kid away from that gate or I’ll cave in his head!” This said with little bits of spit flying about and other signs of madness maybe a bit like the gorilla at the zoo. This one actually worked mind we never saw that customer again.

Anyway, short of padlocking our gate I thought you might be able to shed a bit of wisdom on creative ways to engage the reader that are as effective as the last one but perhaps less damaging to the overall theme here at Barksville.

I trust all is well in the Capital city?

I remain, slightly short of being affectionately referred to as, “level headed,”

Kyle

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