Thank You For Your Concern

My dog Penny is naughty. I spend half of my day chasing her around the house trying to get back some item that she’s stolen and wants to chew up, even though she knows full well she’s not supposed to be doing that. She’s nuts. She barks at everyone walking by and goes into histrionics if I dare leave her alone in the yard to go walk over to a neighbor’s house. She’s ill-mannered. Every now and then for kicks she’ll try to hump Justin or Alex. She’s greedy. If you turn your back on her, she WILL take your last Chicken McNugget, an entire steak, try to knock the pizza box off of the counter, or jump up and steal the rest of your granola bar right out of your hand. (If you’re Alex, she’ll plan a sneak attack and go for something right off his plate. That’s right, Penny, pick on the weakest member of the pack. Nice.)

But she’s sweet. And funny. And cute. And snuggly. And all the other stuff that makes you actually want to keep the furry little mutt around.

And the same thing I loved about Candy, my dog when I was growing up, is what I also see in Penny – that she’ll protect all of us as if her life depended on it. (Incidentally, we all loved Candy, but she was one moody bitch. Penny’s got nothing on her. Though she’s not as bright. Oh well.)

All that said, there are times when I kind of wish Penny would dial back the emotion. Say for instance when you slam your knee, for no clear reason, against a table, and really just want to fall to the ground, say some swear words, intensely rub your knee, and writhe in pain for a while. (Ditto for stubbing your toe.) It would really help in dealing with your inexplicable klutziness, if you didn’t have an all concerned dog right at your face, wagging her tail, licking you to death. But as long as you’re there, crying out like a little girl, she’s all up in your business, trying to kiss away the pain. No matter how much you push her away or try to move your face out of reach. You’re not going to die today. Not on her watch. Not even if she has to smother you to save you. In a way it’s so touching and heartwarming, but also, chill the fuck out, Penny. Even though it looks like it, I’m not actually on my deathbed.

Of course that’s all a hypothetical. I don’t know anyone pathetic enough to have so many household accidents where it would become commonplace to the point of needing to write about a dog’s overreactions. She’d have to be some kind of loser. One with a bigass bruise on her kneecap. No idea who that would be.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012


Idea For A Sad, Sad Movie, Like “Old Yeller,” But Sad

My sister and I have a weak spot for sad animal movies. I think she was traumatized for years after her second grade class was “treated” to a walk to the movie theater for a screening of The Incredible Journey. Of course that’s the heartwarming tale of two dogs and a cat whose owners lose them on vacation (nice), and they have to make a cross-country trek back home. She still vividly recalls trying to control her sobbing during the scene where one of the dogs goes all MMA with a porcupine, and ends up with a bunch spikes in his face.

Disney loves that shit. The Lion King, The Fox and the Hound, Old Yeller, Dumbo, Bambi, Finding Nemo, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (because a new generation needed to be exposed to poor puppies and kitties struggling to survive in the wild)…rivers of tears have been shed by kids and adults alike during these beloved flicks. Bastards.

Anyway, I have an idea for a pitch based on this genre. It’s sweet, it’s heart wrenching, and ultimately triumphant. It’s about a poor, sad, neglected little beagle mix named Penny. She’s subjected to untold trauma during her short life. She’s forced to eat dry dog food. She must dejectedly go lie down by herself on her soft bed that’s covered with blankets and toys when no one is paying attention to her. And the most despicable tragedy imaginable. One day, out of the blue, her human mom and brother leave to go on an errand. Will they be back in 20 minutes? An hour? Never? She doesn’t know. And she’s all alone. Oh wait, no, she’s not alone, her 12-year-old human brother is home with her, but working on the computer. How will this end? Will she ever be loved again? Thoughts run through her mind, memories of the days she was taken on walks, given kisses, treats, tummy rubs. But not now. They’re gone. But wait? Is that the garage door? Are they home? Could it be?

OHMYGODHOLYCRAPTHEYACTUALLYCAMEBACKFORMEOHMYGODOHMYGODTHATSTHEMTHEYREHOMEOMFG!!!! Reunited at last in a frenzy of howling, screaming, jumping, licking, tail-wagging glory. And they walk off into the sunset, after a long belly rub. All is well again. The end.

This is based on this picture I took today before Alex and I left the house.

As an aside, while we were busy abandoning Penny, Alex and I got something to drink at the Target food court before shopping. I was filling Alex’s cup with water, and we had this conversation.

Alex: “Aww, I wanted a smoothie.”
Me: “No, you can just drink water.”
Alex: “Oh fine. Why are you getting diet Coke?”
Me: “Because I’m an adult.”
Alex: “But I thought you liked wine?”
Me: (Chuckling quietly. They are observant little things, aren’t they?)
Alex: “Don’t you like wine?”
Me: (At this point an older woman is nearby, hearing everything and grinning.) “Not at Target.”
Alex: “Do they even have wine here?”
Me: “No.”
Alex: “Oh.”


© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Dog Days Of Summer

You can only take so many baseball pictures before they start to all look the same. So this week I started photographing the dogs that come to the kids’ games. Some I got to know or say hi to, some I grabbed surreptitiously using my longer lens.

Henry is a cutie, but thought he was all tough growling at some spaniels.

I think this bulldog wants a piece of someone.

My dog, Penny, being a good girl.

Storm, the unofficial mascot for Cameron’s tournament team.

I think this one’s name is Willow.

More beagles!

Another dog named Storm.

I thought she might be a long-haired dachshund, my sister says probably a “dorkie.”

Big, stately and fluffy.

This little guy was busy playing with grass and wouldn’t look up.

This is Ray. Ray is a bit temperamental.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012


Gone To The Dogs

Today was a rare beautiful March day here in the Twin Cities. Sunny, warm, snow on its way to being melted for good. Penny’s packed on a few pounds this winter so I thought some time at the off-leash dog park would do her some good.

So while Barry took David and Cameron to the batting cages for some pre-season practice, Justin, Alex and I loaded up Penny, and headed out. First order of business was to drop off a bag full of library books. Not a daunting task. For one person, anyway. The same errand with two kids and a dog somewhat raises the difficulty level.

I pulled up and stopped in the circular drive in front of the building. Justin assured me he could handle returning the books while we waited in the car with the dog. He couldn’t even lift the bag, though. So I grabbed the bag, shut the doors, and walked up with Justin. I could hear Alex start to cry that he wanted to come too. Justin decided he couldn’t return the books on his own, so I walked back to the car to retrieve Alex. I planned on just leaving Penny in the car to wait, but she hopped out. Fine, whatever. All four of us fed the books into the wall. Penny was happy as a lark, people watching, and sniffing, as I tugged at her leash every time she went near a mud puddle.

We finally finished, and as I tried to lead Penny back into the side of the van, she somehow slipped out of her collar. We both froze for a minute. I was hoping she hadn’t noticed. She was hoping I had noticed. We locked eyes. And she took off full sprint. I tried to “bribe” her with a pretend treat. She’s no dummy, she wasn’t falling for that two-bit trick. I tried to coax her to come to me, but every time I got near, she darted off further away. Meanwhile Justin and Alex are blatantly ignoring my demands for them to get back in the car, and standing in the middle of the drive, and I’m wondering who is going to be run over first. In all likelihood, me, because I’m too busy paying attention to the three-ring circus of my own making than watching for cars.

Penny quickly moved beyond the confines of the library grounds and went up the hill to where the parking lot of the sheriff’s department was located. A nice young man who was in the car stopped behind me with his mom, and saw the whole thing go down, tried to help. Next thing I knew Penny darted out from behind a tree, right across the busy street. As she made it across, I had to stop myself from running across before a black pick-up sped by. As I reached the other side of the street, I saw Justin and Alex on the grass above the sidewalk on the other side of the street. I yelled at them to STAY on the sidewalk and not to cross.

Penny was taunting me, doing a serpentine each time I got close to her. I don’t like to chase her because the closer I get to her, the further away she wants to go, but my usual tactic of just walking back and hoping she’d follow me, wasn’t an option because of the traffic. She ran into the parking lot of a grocery store, coming close to a passing car. She ran behind a bunch of parked cars, and somehow the light bulb went off, and she decided, you know what, this is a really stupid idea, and came running up to me. I put her collar and leash back on, and back we went. When I met up with Justin and Alex I lectured them on the concept of “listening,” which doesn’t seem to be part of their vocabulary.

Of course the irony in all of this is that we were headed to the off-leash park where the little goofball could run to her heart’s content. Once we got there she does very well with the other dogs, and found a nice group of pals to sniff. But soon the yorkipoo, cockapoo, maltipoo, shitzpoo crowd wasn’t doing it for her, and she started running with a more badass group that included a great dane, two golden doodles, a pit bull, and some other big, curly mutt. No one was getting rough or anything, but the great dane kept barking, which Penny didn’t do at all until she heard him. Then she went wild with the barking every time she chased one of them around.

But just like kids, if a dog wants to hang with the neighborhood toughs, there’s not a lot you can do to lure them away. Finally, after running her ass off for a half hour, I could tell she was tired. Her friends were too, and the golden doodle who she was trying so desperately to be friends with, plopped down on the ground. Penny did too, until I called her over, leashed her back up, and got the heck out of there before any of the “cool” dogs had a chance to offer her some weed or something.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

I Think My Parents Need A New Dog

My parents’ silly little schnauzer, Scout, passed away this summer. I know my mom really didn’t want to think about getting another dog because they travel, and play golf, and all the other reasons that you think you don’t want a dog.

But I think they need a dog. Maybe with someone else around the house, arguments won’t break out in the comments section of my blog posts.

Here are some cuties I found on PetFinder in their area. Love them all!

Google - Male Shih-Tzu

Pride - Male Biewer Yorkie

Dillon - Male Wirehaired Terrier mix

Marley - Male Schnauzer

Tristan - Male Poodle/Yorkie

Zury - Female Terrier mix

Simon - Male Shih-Tzu

Baxter - Male Brussels Griffon/Shih-Tzu

Cade - Male Schnauzer/Yorkie

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Suspicious Minds

Petey. What a sweetie-pie.

Tonight I attended a fantastic dinner party at my friend, Lisa’s house. Her family has two cockapoos. Petey is older with a curly white coat. And Chumlee, the Village Idiot, as Lisa calls him, is the youngster, and he’s black as night. They’re both just insanely cute and sweet. Both of them were on my lap or sitting close to me while I petted them at some point during the evening. I’m just totally smitten with those silly doggies.

When I got home Penny was at the door to greet me, as usual. Then she started to sniff me. Not unusual, she’s a hound dog, that’s her deal. But I think she sensed something more. This wasn’t just a casual encounter. She sniffed my hand and arm, my ankles. When I changed clothes she was like a suspicious wife going through her husband’s pockets and credit card statements, looking for evidence of an affair. She started nosing around the jeans I was wearing, looking at me with disdain.

Then, instead of hopping into bed and lying down at my feet, like she does every night, she went and slept on the couch. Wow. Jealous much? She’s back now, but I think she’s still mad. If she’s watching Lifetime movies tomorrow, I’ll know she’s not going to let this go easily.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Golden Puppies

My friend rides horses at a farm near where we live. The owners are very open and nice folks, and while they give riding lessons, they don’t mind if kids come out and groom the horses or check out other animals they might have in residence. Right now the big attraction is a litter of eight golden retriever puppies. They were born a few days before Christmas so they’ll be around for several more weeks before they’re adopted out.

Is there anything better than a new puppy? I took Justin and Alex out this morning, and they were both smitten. They each picked one out that they held and took care of while we were there, it was so sweet. Even though there were six other puppies running around, they kept talking about “my” puppy. Mom came in for feeding time, which was exciting for them to see.

And no, we’re not getting one. Adorable little golden puppies turn into adorable big dogs, and that doesn’t work for me. But it’s fun to play with them when they are someone else’s! Kind of like babies.

Alex with "his" puppy.

Justin holding "his" puppy.

Poor Mom. I know how she feels having someone needing something. All. The. Time.

"Where's mine?"

Busy, squirmy, pudgy, playful, furry golden puppies!

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012


Penny’s Gotcha Day

One year ago today we brought home our baby girl, Penny. She was so sweet with her little black ears and big brown eyes. The guys all fell in love with her in an instant.

Getting a dog was a bit spur-of-the-moment, though David had asked for one since probably the age of three. The problem is when you start poking around on sites like PetFinder, and you read the little back stories of all these adorable doggies, you eventually find yourself in a position where you find one or two you really, really like, and on a lark you go to an adoption event or send an e-mail about a particular dog, and the next thing you know, you’re so far down the path you can’t back out.

Penny is a beagle and corgi mix (no idea what the story was there) was known as “Winny” when we adopted her through a rescue agency, Secondhand Hounds. Her foster mom called her that because she was kind of a whiny little thing. She’s still easily excitable, especially when she’s happy. Or really sad. Or playing. Or defending her turf.

Penny on the day we brought her home.

We called her Penny because it sounded enough like Winny that she wouldn’t be confused, and because Penny is a character we like on The Big Bang Theory, who also has four guys who are smitten with her, just like our Penny.

It’s been an interesting year, with lots of drama, lots of puppy naughtiness but mostly fun and love, and we can’t imagine life without her! She loves her guys, even though she torments them sometimes, taking their stuff and turning it into a big game. Right now she’s curled up on her blanket sleeping, but in a few minutes she’ll realize David’s bus will be here soon, and start staring out the window in anticipation.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011


All’s Well That Ends Well

Given how this day started, it’s completely fitting that it ended with Penny throwing up pumpkin guts on my carpet.

David missed his bus this morning. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. School is only five minutes away, I can give him a ride. Bonus for him because it’s dark this time of year and no one can see me unshowered and without make-up.

But in Davidworld, nothing is ever that simple. First we need a scapegoat. Cameron. Naturally. If tomorrow he did something wrong, and blamed voices in his head for telling him to do it instead of finding a way to pin it on Cameron, I’d almost welcome it. At least it would be something new.

But since unpredictability isn’t David’s forte, he launched into a rant about how it was Cameron’s fault that he missed the bus because Cameron wouldn’t give him the TV remote, and that’s how he checks the time.

Nevermind that there are clocks on the stove, microwave, home phone, mantle, and the cell phone he carries in his pocket. Not relevant in Davidworld because that would make him the one who is accountable.

And when Justin is in a disagreeable mood too, it’s like using gasoline and a flame thrower to light a hibachi. Justin didn’t want to get dressed because he was finishing a game on my phone. David was yelling at him to hurry up, causing Justin to be all the more deliberate with his game, which made David madder at Justin, who saw this and blatantly disregarded David’s hysterical admonitions to hurry up, which made David just a red mustache and a ten gallon hat away from looking like Yosemite Sam about to blow a gasket.

So that was the morning. Tonight David broke his bicycle chain, and while Barry was out trying to fix it, Justin insisted we carve a pumpkin, which involves knives, which is always somewhat terrifying.

We finished our jack-o-lantern with no one losing a finger or an eye, and all was well until Justin went to take it outside and dropped it, then cried because I couldn’t put Humpty back together again, then put a completely unnecessary beat down on Alex because he claimed Alex took one of the pieces of the pumpkin.

And judging from the contents of the mess I just cleaned up, Penny obviously hoovered up a little bit of the pumpkin innards that didn’t make it onto the newspaper spread out on the kitchen table.

Evidently they didn’t agree with her.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

Imaginary Conversations With My Dog

I was eating a piece of leftover birthday cake for a snack last night. I had the following mental exchange with my dog, who was sitting at my feet, hoping for a morsel.

Dog: “You know, I could go for some of that too. Looks good.”
Me: “Yep, I’m sure you could.”
Dog: “I’ll just be sitting here, looking at you.”
Me: “Got it.”
Dog: “It’s not like I have to have my own piece or anything, I’ll take whatever you don’t want. Really you don’t have to go through any trouble. Just drop it on the floor if you want.”
Me: “Ok.”
Dog: “So…I’ll just be here. Riiiight here. Just so you know.”
Me: “Yep, I see you.”
Dog: “Again, if you don’t want to finish all of it, I’d be happy to take it off your hands. Because I do…I do like cake.”
Me: “I’m aware of your feelings on the matter.”
Dog: “So, anyway…I’ll be here. If I like step away for a second it’s just because I think you might have dropped a crumb. Doesn’t mean I’m not interested, because I still am.”
Me: “Roger that.”
Dog: “Cuz I do like me some cake.”
Me: “I know.”
Dog: “Soooo…yeah. I’m still here. You see me, right? Can you look at my eyes? Seriously, look at my eyes, because I’m doing that sad, adorable thing that everyone thinks is so cute. LOOK at me! Come on!”
Me: “I do see you. Kind of pathetic, but sweet.”
Dog: “I’ll lick the plate too, just so you know, I’m totally fine with that too. I mean, obviously a bite, or a piece, or the whole cake would be better, but I’ll take whatever you’ve got, I’m not choosy. Frosting on the floor is good too.”
Me: “Understood.”
Dog: “Because I. Like. Cake.”
Me: “Noted.”
Dog: “I’m not going away. Still here. Waiting. Patiently. Hi. I’ll lick your feet if you want me to. Mmm…salty. Was that the doorbell? Doesn’t matter, I don’t care. I’m still here.”
Me: “I think that might have been the doorbell.”
Dog: “It was. And I’m torn between having a barking fit in case there is an intruder or someone I like at the door, and waiting here for you to give up the cake. Look here, bee-yotch, I’ve tried being polite, now give me some goddamned cake!”
Me: “It’s gone.”
Dog: “All right. I’m sorry I was mean to you, it’s just that you had the cake, and I wanted the cake, and then you didn’t give me the cake. I didn’t mean anything by it. Do you still like me? Can I still be your friend? Will you still scratch my ears? Wait, don’t throw that paper plate away, I’ll take it, I’ll take it! Awww, no, ok, that’s fine, but will you still pet me? Wanna play rope? Wanna play ball? Wanna rub my tummy? Here, I’ll lie down, you rub my tummy! Ok? Ok? Please? I didn’t mean what I said to you about the cake. But if there’s ever a time when you’re having cake again, and you wouldn’t mind, I could, I mean, I, you…you can give it to me. I’ll be here. Waiting.”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011