Celebrating All Things Black & Tan & 4-Legged

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…


Uncle Honey? February 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackntanclan @ 4:38 pm

So, I’ve got these three dogs, see…  And they’re my children, right?  And I guess I’m kind of like a single mom.  But without the health insurance, daycare expenses, and legal battles of a single mom…  (Shout Out to all single parents!  I think you have the toughest job in the world and I commend you!)

And I’ve got this great guy in my life – we’ll call him The Honey.  The Honey is amazing and wonderful and sweet and kind, and I really love The Honey.  When I first started dating The Honey, I was convinced nothing that good could ever last.  He’d say something kind and I’d reply, “We’ll see if you still feel that way six months from now.”  He called it his “six month probationary period,” and laughed.  He’s always got a smile on his face or a laugh in his voice – it’s just one more reason to love The Honey.

The probationary period is officially up this weekend.  We’re 6 months in to what I have to say is my healthiest relationship ever, and we’re deliriously happy about 85% of the time.  The other 15% of the time, I’m letting my past experiences with The Dreaded Ex color my relationship and influence my perception of The Honey.  I’m working on that…  It’s a long row to hoe.


Westley looking innocent - the little liar!

So, about 2 weeks ago, as The Honey and I were getting ready to call it a night, we heard the pitter-patter of little feet paws echoing down the hallway ahead of us.  Since Westley, my littlest pup, is an intact male (show dog) with a penchant for peeing on the corner of our bed, I was not thrilled with the idea of him beating us to the bedroom for the night.  Without thinking, I called out, “Westley, wait for your daddy!”

And then I nearly died.

Um, Daddy?  No.  Right?  Right.


I have been extraordinarily careful to call The Honey “Uncle Honey” in reference to the dogs.  The Dreaded Ex used the title of “Daddy” with my dogs and called me “Mommy” to his dog.  He used that title as a way to keep me wrapped up in his mind games for years – including many months after the (third and) final split.  “You’ll always be Dog’s mommy” was his excuse to call me and keep me tuned in to his life and his needs, even when he had no regard for my own.  After our split, I looked at our fractured family – me with my 2 dogs (Westley hadn’t joined our family yet), and him with his only dog – and I knew one thing without doubt: Men might come and go, but my dogs and I were a real family.

Now, those of you who don’t have pets may not get this.  Then again, those of you who don’t have pets probably don’t read this, either.  And maybe even those of you with pets are wrinkling your brow right now, thinking I’m a bit off my rocker.  Well, I am a bit off my rocker, but that’s not the point at all.

When I’m happy, I celebrate with my dogs.  When I’m sad, I commiserate with my dogs.  They never judge me, they never make fun of me, and they are always there for me.  If that’s not family, I don’t know what is.  Don’t be a “speciesist” – family can and certainly does extend far beyond bipeds.

The Honey didn’t say a word.  He smiled and ran ahead and safeguarded the blanket from Westley’s wicked aim.  We got into bed, and I thought the slip had passed unnoticed, when The Honey whispered into the dark bedroom, “So I’m his daddy now?”  The slight lilt at the end of the sentence was the only indication that it was an interrogatory, rather than a declaratory statement.

In the half-second following his question, I played out two scenarios in my Virgo brain, analyzing to the fullest extent possible the consequences of the two answers I could give (if only it had been a declaratory statement, all this could have been avoided!).

On the one hand:

“No, it was a slip. Don’t read so much in to it. You know I didn’t mean it.”  I know The Honey would accept that answer, would show no signs of being hurt (but might be hurt, despite evidence to the contrary), and would probably laugh at my relationship paranoia.

On the other hand:

“Yes, I guess you are.  After all, the probationary period is nearly over.”  I don’t know how The Honey would take that answer.  I don’t know what he’d say in response.  But I fear the worst, and the worst is that he’d not want what I’d laid on him, and he’d bolt.

They teach you in law school: when you are cross-examining a witness, you should never ask a question you don’t know the answer to.  Since I couldn’t foresee how The Honey would react to the latter statement, I stuck to my vehement denial.  Without skipping a beat, I told him it was a slip.  And that is certainly the truth – I had no conscious intention of calling him Daddy to my dog.


I can’t imagine anyone being a better caretaker – to quadrupeds or bipeds or any other animal – than Then Honey.  I think The Honey would make an incredible daddy.  And I think I’ve made it clear that I have a chronic raging case of baby fever, with regular acute flair-ups, so you can all safely assume that I’ve fantasized about what it would be like to have little people with The Honey.  But admitting such things out loud may do nothing but give him ammunition for his “manipulation ray guy,” or for his “hurt rifle.”  So it’s better to say something that might hurt him, rather than saying something that might give him the power to hurt me.

It took me nearly a full week to realize what had happened that night.  The Dreaded Ex had struck again.

The Honey doesn’t have an artillery of weapons aimed at my heart.  The Honey doesn’t carve his words carefully to give himself the upper hand and insure that if anyone’s hurt, it’s not him.  The Honey doesn’t play mental or emotional chess during every conversation we have.  The Honey doesn’t do any of those things The Dreaded Ex did – that’s why The Honey is my honey.

But it appears I’ve become some sad, strange version of The Dreaded Ex.

I kind of pity The Dreaded Ex now.  What did his dreaded ex do to him to cause him to be so scarred and brittle that he always felt the need to strike first, lest he be struck?  What kind of emotional virus is this, that once infected, you seem cursed to infect the next person who opens his or her heart up to you, unaware?

And what do I have to do to break this cycle?


Dogs Are Not Splenda. Splendid. February 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackntanclan @ 6:10 pm

I spent this past weekend in Jackson, MS, visiting with one of my besties.  It was a great few days, but for one thing: the dogs were boarded at “Camp.”  Like any good mother, I miss them when they’re not with me, though I also guiltily enjoy a few days, here and there, where I don’t have to worry about where they are, what they’re doing, or whether they’re exercised enough.

I would have missed them less if Jackson wasn’t such a “family friendly” city.  Everywhere we ate – everywhere we turned – little people* were running around, braids and pig tails flapping in the wind, ice cream staining baseball jerseys, sticky little hands giving hearty miniature hugs to legs and arms and anything else they could grasp.  Teeny tiny Baby Gap sunglasses were perched on little button noses, tucked gently and adorably in Safety First strollers.  It was absolutely joyful, except for that jealous little knot in my gut that screamed “MINE!” approximately every 30 minutes.

Yes, I admit it: I am one of those “horrible” and “selfish” and “thoughtless” women who adopted her first dog in part as a salve for her baby fever.  Nasty things are said about women like me.  That we don’t care about our dogs, that we got them for the wrong reasons, that we’ll eventually lose interest and our dogs will suffer.  I say, “Bologna!”

I’ve wanted a dog since before I can remember.  I know that by the time I was 4, I was asking for a Doberman for every Hanukkah and birthday that passed.  I also know that by the time I was 6, I knew I wanted to be a mother.  My love for animals and my love for children go hand in hand.  I want to take care of things – I’m far better at taking care of others than I am at taking care of myself.  And I am far better at taking care of myself when I know I am responsible for the care of others.  It is an integral part of who and what I am, and I embrace it.

I understand that dogs are not a substitute for children.  In fact, I’d argue that my life won’t be complete unless and until I have both children and dogs in my heart and home.  But I am tired of people questioning my love for my dogs simply because I admit to myself and others that my “baby fever” played a role in acquiring a pet.

Is it really such a bad thing to be a natural born mother?

*Side Note: Yes, I call children “little people” – not kids, not children, and certainly not PITAs.  I don’t do this to offend people who are short.  I do this because I clearly recall feeling that my opinions and desires were discounted when I was a child, because I was a child.  It’s like we forget they’re people at all – we treat them like chattel!  So I call children “little people” to remind myself and others that they are human beings, they are individuals, that they are people, albeit little, and that they should have their own opinions and desires, and be cherished for them.  Otherwise, we’re just not raising them right.