Celebrating All Things Black & Tan & 4-Legged

Sex Patrol March 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackntanclan @ 11:56 am

It’s inevitable.  They could be outside chasing squirrels.  They could be in the living room eating prized treats.  They could be sleeping like the dead on the plush leather couch.

But try to get some play from The Honey, and the Sex Patrol is sure to interfere.

Meet Chief Testicles (aka “Westley”), numero uno in the Sex Patrol’s chain of command.  Chief Testicles is no desk jockey – despite being head honcho, he’s usually first on the scene, and always ready to write a citation.  Testicles has a very straightforward belief upon which the Sex Patrol’s Code of Conduct is based: “If I can’t do it, you can’t do it!”  (Even if he’s not quite sure what “it” is yet…)

As far as Chief Testicles is concerned, being intact comes with a serious list of responsibilities.  Between marking the couch, marking the bed, wrestling around on the floor in an attempt to get his diapee off, nipping at Angie’s ankles, sniffing at Angie’s “you know,” generally harassing and haranguing Ollie, and standing on the porch smelling the air for the slightest whiff of a bitch in heat within a 20 mile radius of the backyard, his days are full to the brim.  Hard enough to find time to eat, sleep, and groom!  So he is genuinely offended that I would add to his busy schedule by daring to … you know… do … something.  Like I said, he’s still a bit fuzzy on exactly what that “something” entails.


Chief Testicles giving a citizen a firm warning, with Captain Ollie acting as backup. Look at those eyes! He means it!

Directly below Chief Testicles in the chain of command is Captain Ollie.  Admittedly, Ollie’s not completely comfortable with the order of things – in every other way, in our home and pack, Westley (Chief Testicles) is subordinate to Ollie.  But even Ollie has to admit that he just doesn’t have what it takes to be the Chief on this one…  And when I say “what it takes,” I mean equipment – stuff – junk – testicles!  There’s also the fact that Ollie’s got a real soft spot for The Honey, so while he can’t completely forgo his duties on Sex Patrol, he does sometimes choose to turn a blind eye… at least long enough for us to wrap up our elicit acts and hide the evidence before busting in on the scene…  Still, Ollie has earned his Captain stripes.  He may not like breaking up an ongoing disturbance, but he does what he must to try to prevent one from occurring.  Snuggling on the couch?  Okay, but only if Captain Ollie is securely wedged between us.  He says he’s doing it for our own good, and because Chief Testicles ordered him to, but I’ve got a funny feeling he just likes cuddling with The Honey and me.

No police precinct is complete without its fair share of foot soldiers.  In our small municipality of 2 humans and 3 dogs, our “fair share” is one: Officer Angie.  Like many officers pounding the pavement, Angie would rather stay in her comfy crate with a bully stick (akin to a patrol car and a doughnut) than respond to a call.  But when Chief Testicles says to report, she’s there, bright-eyed and bushy-nubbed (she’s a Doberman – she has a nub, not a tail).  Chief Testicles was hoping that Angie’s sheer mass and sleek physique would act as a visual deterrent, intimidating us into compliance.  But it’s really hard to be intimidated by a smiling, clacking, play-bowing, SpazTastic Doberman!

Crating isn’t an option, unless we want the soundtrack of our romantic evening to be one of mewling, crying, barking, and whining.  They know what we’re doing, and they know it’s their job to stop it!

We’ve tried closing the doors, but the Chief and the Captain act as battering rams and try with all their might to break down the door.  Talk about a distraction…  Ignore this initial warning, and the dogs will initiate a full-scale investigation.  Chief Testicles keeps an eye on the door to prohibit escape while Captain Ollie rummages through the trash.  You know, for clues.  Officer Angie says she’s going to search the perimeter, and then she takes herself back to her crate and parks it with a toy or bully stick (don’t tell the Chief!).

Open the door, and they all rush the “Scene of the Cwime,” as Westley says.  They have very high-tech equipment (eyes, ears, and noses) with which they sweep the scene and take notes (mental notes, anyway – damn the lack of opposable thumbs!).  Generally, they find the evidence they need to justify Chief Testicles issuing us a citation, and warning us to pay our fine – or else!!

The good news: the fine usually consists of some liver treats, and maybe a homemade bully stick.

The bad news: this really puts a crimp on our style.

Still, it’s a testament to The Honey that he sticks around through this invasive madness, and generally responds to my frustrated eye rolls with a laugh.  In his best Westley voice, he says, “Sex Patwol stwikes again!”  And the evening ends like the best of nights: all of us Wild Things (2-legged and 4-legged alike) sleeping in a real pile, snuggled together, warm and content.  And smiling.

Can toddlers really be any worse?


I Talk to My Dogs – and They Talk Back March 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackntanclan @ 1:02 pm

"Ollie speaks like a little old man, with far too much wisdom and cynicism for any normal dog."

I know you do it. Because I know I’m not the only one. I talk to my dogs. I tell them how handsome/pretty they are. I tell them what I expect of them. I praise them when they cooperate. I also use them as a sounding board, to muddle through my own mixed up thoughts.

But here’s the thing that always gets me: my dogs talk back.

Crazy, you say? Yeah, right. You know you know what I’m talking about. You talk to your dogs too, and you know you can hear them responding in your head. No, they don’t stand up on their hind legs, gesture to you like Goofy, and actually speak! But they have a unique voice nonetheless, and they aren’t afraid to use it.

Ollie, my genius dog, is surely a human that chose to be reincarnated as a dog (good choice, I say!). He is the smartest dog – and possibly one of the smartest creatures all around – that I’ve ever met. He looks at me, and I know exactly what he’s thinking. I can hear it in my head. Ollie speaks like a little old man, with far too much wisdom and cynicism for any normal dog. And Ollie isn’t afraid to tell me when I’m being a “simple human” or a “stupid two-legger.” Yes, I’ve heard him say these things to me. He doesn’t mind telling me exactly what he thinks and how he feels. He’s an excellent communicator – made more surprising not by the fact that he’s a canid, but by the fact that he’s a male! How many human guys do you know who are that open with their thoughts and feelings, huh?

I’m pretty sure I could have conversations with Ollie about anything, even theoretical physics, but he usually skips out on talking unless it’s a topic that interests him – and he isn’t nearly as interested in theory as he is in fact. Ollie keeps me in line with his down-to-earth straight talk.

"Then there's Angie, my Spastic Fantastic"

Then there’s Angie, my Spastic Fantastic (SpazTastic, for short!). Angie doesn’t say much – she prefers to let her brothers do the talking for her. When she does speak, it’s usually in single-word exclamations. Rarely, I’ll get a simple short sentence from her, but that’s the extent of her “verbal” communicative abilities – she’s far more likely to let me know what she’s feeling through her physical actions, and will often have a “spaz attack” causing her to run at full velocity through my home, in circles, before collapsing on the couch in a heightened state of arousal.

Angie was rehomed when she was 2 years old – before coming to me at that age, she spent most of her life living in a basement, and crated to boot. She wasn’t abused, per se, but she didn’t get any individualized attention, let alone substantial interaction with the wonderful wide world. Angie reminds me of a special needs child: she shuts down or spazzes out when she is confronted with “too much” or “too new.” Still, she’s a lovely dog, inside and out, and she seems quite content with her existence.

Don’t get me wrong: Angie is an entirely capable dog. She’s my favorite camping/backpacking buddy, and she’s never met a person she didn’t like. She’s just special, and she views things in her own particular way. What you see as “children,” she sees as “human puppies.” And she likes them a lot more than “normal puppies.” Where you might see a visitor to my home, she sees “Hands!!” No, seriously – whenever someone comes into the house, I hear Angie exclaim, “Hands!” All she cares about are the 2 new hands that can pet her – and pet her, they will, if she has anything to do with it!

I see nothing wrong with Angie’s unique perception of the world. It’s quite a beautiful, innocent, and gentle thing – as is she.

"If dogs could have ADHD, Wes would be a textbook case."

Finally, there’s Westley, the newest addition to our pack. Despite that, he has a very clear, distinct, and novel voice, and I’ve had no trouble hearing him from the moment he came home. I think that’s one of the reasons I knew he belonged here! See, he was supposed to be a temporary boarder, but somehow, “5 days” turned into “forever.” And I couldn’t be more pleased.

If dogs could have ADHD, Wes would be a textbook case. His thoughts are all over the place. They come and go, quick as lightning, and often seem to correspond to absolutely nothing going on in the environment around him. I’m sure it all makes perfect sense to him, but there are times I’m lost! Westley also has a speech impediment, so he cannot properly pronounce his Ls or Rs. And, in part because he’s such a little thing, his voice is extremely high-pitched.

One thing Wes certainly doesn’t lack is self-confidence. You should hear him proclaim, nearly every time he enters a room, “Heeeeeewe’s Weswey!!” (That’s “Here’s Westley,” for those of you who need a translation!) I’m pretty sure Westley knows exactly how cute he is, and he uses that to his advantage. A lot.

Undoubtedly, Westley’s self-confidence is enhanced by his testicles (which he calls his “stuff,” perhaps because “testicles” is a very large, 3-syllable word, with the letter L in it, and therefore a challenge for him to pronounce – but probably because his testicles are his favorite “stuff” in all the world). He’s a very macho man, in his own eyes…

Like I said, each one has a unique voice, and I can definitely hear them in my head. You (and most of the psychologists in the world) might see this as a problem, but I’ve found it quite helpful over the years. I have a special relationship with my dogs, because I believe I can understand them. Whether that belief is based in reality or fantasy seems secondary to the positive effects it has on our bond.

So, okay, maybe I am a little crazy. But it’s the good kind of crazy! And anyway, my dogs all tell me I’m just fine…

Can you hear your dogs talking back? Do they have a unique voice? What do they say? Comment below and share!


Testicles – Rhymes with Heracles March 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackntanclan @ 7:16 pm

After 27 years of being obsessed with dogs, watching every documentary I could find about dogs, and reading every book and article I could get my hands on about canine behavior, anatomy, and genetics, I consider myself rather well versed in general regarding dogs. I’ve been a dog owner for nearly a decade, and in that time, I have shared (and/or am sharing) my life with 4 of my own dogs (2 of which were rescued or re-homed) and about a dozen fosters. I’ve dealt with a myriad of different behavioral problems, from dog aggression to submissive peeing. I don’t know if I’m an expert, since I don’t have any sort of paper or certification to prove my knowledge, but I certainly know more than most when it comes to four-legged fur-kids. Between my connections in the conformation/show world, the performance/sport world, and the rescue world, I’ve either dealt with it directly or I probably know someone who has. For that reason, I’m the one my friends and family come to for advice about dogs.

“My 6 month old puppy and my 3 year old dog are fighting – what do I do?” I can help with that.

“My female is 4 and recently started peeing in her sleep almost every night – what do I do?” I can help with that.

“My dog is incessantly licking its paws and scratching its face – what do I do?” I can definitely help with that!

But I am currently faced with a problem that even I cannot seem to ameliorate.

Westley, my littlest – and “rottenest” – dog, is intact.  He has to be – he’s a show dog.  And anyway, it’s healthier for him to remain intact for as long as possible (yes, really!).  For the past 6 months or so, he’s acted as though it’s his job to personally keep my couch, counters, bed, and door frames well hydrated.  If they were plants and he peed water, this would be totally awesome.  But they’re not, and he doesn’t.


Westley showing off his belly band and his precious testicles.

"If they were plants and he peed water, this would be totally awesome. But they're not, and he doesn't."

This isn’t strictly a behavioral problem.  It’s hormonal.  It’s anatomical.  And it’s annoying.  Damn those testicles…


Everything I’ve tried has failed to work.  We’ve now resorted to managing the problem by way of a belly band.  I call it Westley’s “diapee” – a diaper strictly for pee… Makes sense to me…

But managing a problem is not the same as solving a problem, nor is it 100% effective.  Wes can’t wear his diapee 24/7, and I can’t watch his every move 24/7.  Plus, it breaks my heart to watch his little face fall when he sees me coming with his diapee in hand.  I know he hates it – but not as much as I hate cleaning up his pee!!

I try talking to the little bugger, explaining what the diapee is and why he has to wear it, but I swear, it’s like he just doesn’t understand English!  (Heh.)

This isn’t the worst – or funniest – problem we’ve encountered thanks to Westley’s testicles.  Despite all my dog experience and knowledge, Wes is my first intact adult, and I’m definitely experiencing “baptism by fire” when it comes to understanding the challenges that presents.  Ironically, that’s the one thing Wes won’t pee on – the baptismal fire I wish he’d extinguish!!

That’s why we’ve begun calling Westley “Testicles” (rhymes with Heracles, which is the Greek name for the demigod known in Roman mythology as Hercules).  He is controlled almost entirely by his balls – and oh, the things they make him do!!

Stay tuned for more of the Trials and Adventures of Testicles.


Grammar, Objectively March 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackntanclan @ 3:18 pm

Between you and me, if I hear one more person use the word “I” in lieu of “me” incorrectly, I might go on a shooting rampage.  Let me make this clear: substituting “I” for “me,” when “me” is grammatically correct, does not make you sound smarter.  Duh.

I’m literally having nightmares about people using the wrong pronoun after a preposition.  I woke up this morning quite angry, having been in the middle of an intense argument just moments before, in my dream, with some person conjured by my subconscious, regarding the phrase “with him and me.”  He tried to politely correct me and tell me I should have said “with him and I.”  I nearly lost it.  I guess it’s true what they say: if your blood pressure reaches a dangerous point in your dream, you’ll wake up.  It’s simple preservation.

I’m not ashamed to admit it: I can still diagram sentences with the best of them.  I can list all my prepositions in alphabetical order in under a minute.  Thanks to two very diligent grammar teachers in seventh and eighth grades, I know the difference between “your” and “you’re” – not to mention “they’re,” “their,” and “there.”  I know when to use the word “to,” “too,” or “two.”  I know that making “it” possessive should never involve an apostrophe.  I know these things, and I cherish this knowledge, and to see others so badly abuse grammar makes my heart weep.

That’s not to say I don’t have an appreciation for literary license.  I do.  I myself start plenty of my sentences with conjunctions – in my blog or personal writing… but never in a formal paper.  It’s about content and context.  Content and context.  Content and context.  Let that be your mantra…

Bad grammar breaks my heart.

'Nuf Said

A Brief Lesson in Grammar:

  • There are subjective pronouns, which are used as the subjects in sentences: I, we, you, he, she, they, it.
  • There are objective pronouns, which are used as objects in sentences: me, us, you, him, her, them, it.
  • If you are using a pronoun as the subject of a sentence, you should use a subjective pronoun.
  • If you are using a pronoun as the object of, for example, a prepositional phrase, you should use an objective pronoun.
  • There are conjunctions, which are used to join two independent phrases together: and, or.  Conjunctions do not give you the right to magically change an objective pronoun to a subjective pronoun.

This is not rocket science.

  • Jim went to the mall.  I went to the mall.  Jim and I went to the mall.
  • Mary went to the mall with him.  Mary went to the mall with me.  Mary went to the mall with him and me.  NOT “WITH HIM AND I” – AND CERTAINLY NOT “WITH HE AND I.”  Ugh, I’m shuddering just thinking about it…

Dear L*rd, please!  Read that again.  Process it, take it to heart, love it, believe in it, and follow it!  Between you and me (yes, ME, not I, damn it!), my sanity (what little there is left) depends on it!

Let me make this perfectly clear to you, my few and far between readers.  I beg you to process this blog and share it.  I don’t know if I can tolerate a world where even the anchor people on the news butcher the English language as they so heinously do, particularly with regard to pronouns.

I’m going to go sit in a corner and cry now…


Wicked Wicked Wednesday March 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackntanclan @ 3:59 pm
Dead End Street Sign

...story of my life...

Well, it’s Wednesday.  It’s that day of the week where I review all my CareerBuilder, LawLadders, Monster, and other such job “matches,” and spend my morning sending out resumes that I doubt anyone will actually review.  Aside from the computer generated responses clogging my inbox (“Thank you for submitting your resume…”), I’ve not once heard back from a prospective employer following an online application.

What gives?  I hold a BA from Duke University for my double major in English and Religions.  Admittedly, those are not the most useful or practical courses of study, but they certainly show a higher level of critical thinking and analytical capabilities.  Then there’s my Theatre minor and my Certificate in Judaic Studies (which means nothing to anyone – except perhaps my Jewish Mother).

And let’s not overlook that J.D. from Emory University.  Of course, how could I ever forget that 8.5 x 11 piece of paper – at $120,000, it costs me more per month than my mortgage!  Damned student loans…

So.  Yeah.  Wednesdays are bad bad days – so much so, that sometimes I postpone Wednesday altogether until Thursday, and sometimes I just get it over with on Tuesdays.

Done bitching – it’s time for a Mimosa…