I'm Afraid of the Dark Without You Close To Me...

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005  
Due to the fact that I watch too much television, my family ate breakfast watching a tivo'd recording from the NGC of "ultimate guide to spiders". In flagrante delicto, the redback spider flips over into the female's jaws. It's like watching a snuff film, spider-pron wise. Always on the cheery side of life, I piped up with "maybe he sacrifices himself to give her sustenance for egg laying", my dad tended to agree with the narrator who said it distracted the female and allowed more time for extra sperm depositing (plus, if she cannibalizes the male, she won't mate again, apparently sated.) But my mom??? She surmised that "Maybe it's like suffocation and it enhances the orgasm." Which completely creeps me out that my mom thinks that way and made me laugh at the same time. Leave it to my mom to come up with the answer to every spider's Big O problems. "a little webbing around your throat, a tug, a happy little dead spider who sat down beside her..."

I'm going swimming today.

I'm also going to wash a car.

This is how people who don't work live.

Nice, non?

~Amelie, Unemployable.


11:19 AM

Sunday, June 26, 2005  
More veterinary stuff. Biohazard Warning: pooper talk ahead.

Basically, Churchill, my grey russian blue who needs a nice, no-kid home come September, has been backing into us and wanting to be petted and loved (anally, which is creeping us out, me more than others who have experienced this anal shove-and-expose behavior), has finally been flipped, towel-wrapped, nail clipped, and anally checked. It was a two person duty on the doody hole, PF took the head and I did the honors. And I must say, ick.

Sure enough, we have anal sac problems. Not too extreme yet, but enough to cause him to sit kind of funny and want attention (yet attack us when we give it because he's slightly weird that way.)

Dogs get this problem more often than cats (or cats are better at hiding their problems) due to their modern diets: their poops don't get hard enough to express the glands on their own a lot of the time, and their glands should be expressed (aka: find edges and squeeze towards anus until the money shot) at every bath time. Some people say you don't need to express a healthy sac, and that once you do it you have to do it forever or else you risk abscesses etc., and I have to say, that may hold water, but let's just say Seamas has no anal problems and I can handle his ick sacs at bathtime with no heinous yuck problems. Basically, the sacs are very stinky scent glands. These are the same ones found slightly modified on skunks, ferrets, musk rats and other wilder beings, but those sacs actually spray a finer aerosoled mist. Dogs and cats express the goop onto their BMs to make them "smell special", something that is probably more important in the wild than in the house litter box, that's for sure. Anyway, lots of folks call these vestigial organs with no identifiable use. I adhere to the perspective of "if you were born with it, you need it", unless it a) bursts b) falls off c) withers and dies of its own accord. But that's my opinion and I'm no vet. My dad, who is basically a vet for people, said humans have anal sacs too, but they really are tiny and generally cause no problems in the human animal (except when infected and oozing, a visual that gives me the serious willies.) ANYway...

Churchill has a goopy pooper, which is particularly unpleasant when he wants to sit near your face, or on your pillow, or when he backs into your bare-legged lap tail-up and crusted over (gag.)

So, I gotta do something about it asap; nothing too awful (except that he bites and scratches like a demon when agitated, and thank god I got all four paws clipped under duress today), and he may need a bath and a good brushing afterwards. All of which I look forward to oh so very, very, very much.

I got a lot of good technique short-cuts off Google awhile back for dogs and they work fine for my needs (I have shared them below); so I tried looking up cats, in order to save myself some much required dough as my savings tends to get eaten up at the hungry veterinarian. No matter what I save, it goes into pet care. This is a warning to all people thinking about getting a pet who currently have a savings account with more than 300 bucks in it: prepare to say goodbye to your kitty for your kitty.

Symptoms of anal sac issues: dog or cat is scooting (people say such an animal has worms, but 50% of the time it's swollen-like-giant-grapes-anal-sacs and about 10% of the time they have a dingleberry they are trying to dislodge on your carpet)
or backing into you for attention to its sacs (which you will probably ignore as long as humanly possible)
or not sitting squarely on it's bottom with tail cocked out of the way for drainage (and this my friends is the most obvious symptom of all. I mean, really.)

Anyway, basically, the glands must be expressed; you have no other options (located at 4 and 8 o'clock on a dog or cat anus) and it's best to use latex gloves or soap up your hands with safeguard in advance, in a bathroom or a patio you can clean easily, and soap up the pet's back end before and afterwards with perfumed pet shampoo to clear any rundown mucus drainage and lessen any leftover stench action. The expressed liquid stinkiness ought to be thinnish pearlescent brown, not too dark, NOT thick, not yellow or bloody, and, uh, it can seriously squirt, so avoid eye contact at all costs. If you notice pus or blood, you need to get your pet to the vet stat to avoid blood poisoning/infectious material run-off/and general discontent of the animal in question as blood and pus means infection or abcess already starting. The vet will give them antibiotics and assess them for surgical removal of the glands if necessary. If they have already ruptured, you just need to deal with stink and drainage (the glands heal and need to be checked CONSTANTLY for future flare ups especially because of the scar tissue issue) and keep them on antibiotics for a full course, maybe ask for pet pain relief like rimadyl (dunno if it helps and I've never pilled a cat with one of them rimadyl tabs. I'd be in for it with Church.) And if you seriously cannot handle your pet's secret starfish problem, you should get thee to a vet or a groomer, as these people are much less dignified and more pragmatic about touching the necessary indicated pet parts, but know that it'll cost ya.

So basically, I have a lot of crap on my plate again.

People have told me I talk about poop a lot, but I don't mean to. It's just a fact of life. And you have to deal with life, in all it's glory.

sigh. I'm so not looking forward to dealing with this glory, but I gotta do it. Right?

Of course right.

~Amelie, Committed To The Expression.


4:30 PM

Thursday, June 23, 2005  
One of my frogs looks to be ailing again. Poor Sparky. He's not interested in earthworms or crickets lately. But his undersides look good, so I don't think he's technically "sick." Maybe just dehydrated or sluggish. Or toadish. Or something. He's just not that interested in food. Good thing he's a chub. Beep is a voracious eater and will chow down on just about anything that moves now that she's fully recovered from her prior illness. She's bitten my finger multiple times, but it's not like she's a bullfrog with giant fangy teeth or anything, so no damage. Oh yeah, I love my frogs. I don't remember when I first saw a White's Tree Frog, but I know I fell in love with their dopey faces back in the day. Now I have two, and for what it's worth, they are amazingly cool little critters and I highly recommend them to amphibian/herp lovers who are looking for a neat/easy care pet. Just make sure you clean their enclosure and change the water regularly. The wild caught ones are susceptible to flagyllate infections which they pass to their captive bred cagemates (even post quarantine), and that's what I fought for a lot of moola in February. In case that happens, Dr. Marianne Brick in Fair Oaks is the best bet for a fabulous herp specialist in town in my opinion. She was recommended by Hazel Ridge, Mueller, and the WCA.

I'm feeling better about stuff right now.

I'm waiting for Baby Kaiser to make her appearance, like everyone else in Sactown who cares for that cute little familia.

I'm missing Ninja babies and talking horse.

I have to say goodbye to the baby birds at the WCA till next year due to technical difficulties.

It's all about baby things lately.

I have about 40 classes to go to next month on multiple subjects.

I am dreading the fact that July and August promise to be what they quaintly call "hot ones" in Sacramento, Ca.

I am enjoying the fact that my family finally believes me when I say "this is not sustainable" housing market wise, now that the appraiser who came the other day told them "yeah, I appraise houses and then 6 mos later I'm appraising them for foreclosure. I wonder when the bottom will drop?" Which is scary, but somehow satisfying to my ego, which has been bruised by the fact that this housing market isnot exactly slowing down just yet. I mean, I've been talking Reno to the PF, and meaning it for pete's sake.

There is nothing new, just more crap to deal with on a daily basis. I think this is going to be life forever.

I am seriously missing being 23, with a pair on converse and a pair of vans, 2 black tee shirts, 3 pairs of jeans, 1 dress, 5 pairs of underwear, 2 bras, sunscreen, a toothbrush, 2 house plants, one bed, sheets, down comforter, and a bunch of books and music. I felt totally normal and my only problems were running the radio station and finishing finals, my crush, and working with disabled grad students (my college jobs were: radio, disabled grads, group home, torpedo sub maker, baker, and nanny.) Life was good. I was happy and crushing on the singer from Jara so bad I even had him over for dinner until I somehow insulted his shortness (which I thought was adorable and he obviously had a slight complex about.)

I got a lot more on my plate these days.

Every decade becomes more of a trial, and lets you breathe easier because you finished a few tasks. How is that possible?

Frogs. I am nearly convinced of it.

~Amelie, "Rana, Anyone?"


12:48 PM

Wednesday, June 22, 2005  
Yesterday was a rough day.

What sucks is that it was a nice day. And I couldn't go out and enjoy it because I was stewing over personal problems that affect my ability to function like a happy person 100% of the time.

CLEARLY, I have issues. But I'm not allowed to discuss them online due to other people having a vested interest in my health and wellbeing. Nevermind that I get all depressed and want to soak my troubles away in a vat of full-sugar hot chocolate and think about how much I hate everyone normal who is not fat right now.

I don't really hate them.

My fatness and tiredness is temporary.

My other health problems are temporary, but as usual, predicted by me long in advance even in the face of the eyerollings I receive for expecting such things as inevitabilities. My perception on the world: if it's bad and going to happen, it will happen to me or someone else I care dearly about. No joke, this has been proven time and again. So stay away, apparently.

In other news, I got a few pleasantly posed questions emailed to me about puppy care in Sacramento, which is interesting and nice. I'm no expert. Some stuff is my personal opinion. My answers are thusly:

YES. Puppy packages at local veterinarians are BRILLIANT ways to ensure your pup is vaccinated and checked out on schedule. It takes the brains out of it. They send you a card with reminders. Your pup sees the vet early and often. The best thing you can do is handle your furry baby's mouth/teeth/feet/ears and tail. Cuz that's what the vet will do.

YES. We have Parvovirus in Sacramento and it's fairly rampant in some neighborhoods. It is wise to avoid this virus at all costs since recovery is not guaranteed, but the price of treatment is astronomical. It lives on grass blades and can be transported into your house ON YOUR SHOES. It is transmitted from dog-to-dog as well. It takes about 9 months to one year to clear a yard of it if your previous doggy had it. Dogs under 4 months old should NOT be OUT AND ABOUT IN PARKS/DOG PARKS. Feel free to inform owners of obviously teeny puppies of this fact, and know that they will resent your know-it-all matter-of-factness unless they end up with a sick dying puppy, in which case they will wish that they had your number for advice. Certain breeds, like rotties, need about 5 vaccinations before they are "ramped up" immunity wise, because they are very susceptible to parvo. The main vaccinations you will need to ensure your pup gets: Parvo, Distemper, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis, Bordatella (aka kennel cough). Rabies is a little different, but they need 2 shots by 4 months. You can get 5-in-ones. You can get your first vaccinations at the SPCA or Animal Control if you adopt there, they give them when they spay/neuter your pet. The bonus for a puppy pack is that these vaccinations are scheduled in advance for you and paid in advance, so it's just in-n-out fun with your pup. Make it a play day with treats so they don't get upset and piss and vomit in the car thinking about how they are going to get a new boo boo from the Mean White Coated Person. Dogs get shaky at the vet. If you make it a little fun, it's a lot easier to get them out of the car on future visits.

NO. I don't think you get better dogs from breeders. You can get a more consistent TYPE and a more consistent PERSONALITY from a breeder, but that means nothing really. There are so many dogs in shelters and rescure programs, it's important to think about all your options before deciding you want a brindled English bulldog for $2K. Who knows? She may be waiting for you already in a shelter nearby. Or maybe you'll go and fall in love with something just as adorable. I certainly did.

And yes, get your puppy wormed. No one asked about this, but worms are my favorite creepy thing to perseverate on. Worms are so interesting and creepy, I get wide eyes and goose bumps just thinking about them. Why? Because. Nematodes are gross. And amazing. Dogs have roundworms. Even if they don't have them, get them wormed anyway. Puppies get them from their mothers because worms encyst in muscle tissue and "awaken" to estrogen and progesterone released by a pregnant dog's body. Thusly, pups are generally infected. Mamma dogs should be treated at some point in their pregnancy to reduce pup infection, but pups should still be dewormed a couple of times. I was told by a vet student at UCD that chammomile, dried and smashed, is a GREAT holistic nematode prophylactic treatment for dogs/cats. You smash up about 1 tsp per pound of animal and mix it in with canned food. This can be given 2X a week or so. Anyway, this is what I was told. Garlic, my old standby, has proven to be poisonous to both dogs and cats. This may explain Wingnut's wide eyed innocent slightly brain damaged look, since he got a lot of garlic back when I was paranoid about tapeworms. Which I am not any longer. I much prefer a tapeworm to a roundworm. Speaking of roundworms, kids could not be in more peril at dog parks. Do not put toddlers on the ground. Roundworm eggs are on grass blades and kids stick things in their eyes (major cause of permanant blindness in children: roundworms). So wash hands thoroughly after touching dog stuff in public places so you don't take roundworm eggs home to your kids. Plus, dogs knock little kids over too easily, so there's another reason it's stupid to take small children (under 10 or 12) to the dog park with you. What else is fascinating about worms?

Oh! Pig whipworm eggs may be the PERFECT cure for Crohn's disease! I find this utterly fascinating and, of course, creepy. Reading all the published papers on it, I couldn't tell if the whipworms were introduced into the human subject and allowed to attach, or if they just trigger the right immune response. The theory is that humans in developing nations are INFESTED with parasites, and never have junk like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis (they just die from old age and lion attacks, of course.) In theory, the test would be to infect Crohn's patients with certain parasites to see if their problem stems from a lack of autoimmune stimulation. And that, my friends, is exactly what they are finding. Imagine that. I was planning to tell an acquaintance about it on her birthday and then chickened out. How do you say "Happy Birthday, and guess what??? If you get a few whipworm eggs into you, your pooper problems and future dreaded surgical procedures MIGHT be solved!!!" Yeah. I didn't know how to say that over 7 layer dip and white cake in a crowd. I found out about this stuff in early May, but was too horrified to talk about it much. Here's a relatively more pleasant review of the idea than what I was reading in JAMA and other medical journals.

Anyway. Basically, we are too clean inside and need to pull a Divine A La Pink Flamingos ever so often. If that doesn't make you gag and heave, I don't know what does. Oh. Maybe GG Allin.

Okay. I'm about to apply for yet another neat job right up my alley.

There is a guy walking about with a clipboard noting all the rooms in our house for a refi. I said "welcome to our messy home" when he came into the computer room and he said "this is not even in the same category as some of the places I've seen" and I was literally shocked. Until I realized he has probably been to decrapitated houses where no one has lived in ages and is just being nice.

~Amelie, Dewormed regularly.


10:19 AM

Tuesday, June 21, 2005  
Not that I didn't post earlier, but I'm feeling slightly less crabby right now.

Which is why I should mention that I have seen Batman twice. I saw it in Roseville digital specialness on opening night.

Something to know about Roseville UA: if you don't like the seat situation at the 9:30 show, get up and move and go wait in line for the 10:10 show, which was a nicer theater anyway. Plus, we were not all stuck on the left of the screen with small bladders.

I loved the film, and its "cinematics*" as PF kept telling me over and over again on the ride home on Monday, after my second viewing of said cinematics (*he was being his ironic self and making use of a noun that doesn't actually exist, I hope. Over and over.) We met dave and marletta out and I swiped some regal cinema discount passes from an entertainment book, and saved ourselves 8 bucks. Anyway. What has happened to Natomas Marketplace? It's crap. The screens suck, the sound sucks, and we were stuck between two small children (one choking on popcorn and one saying "bad man, mommy!" with a very upset tone) and one slightly DD guy who laughed too early and too late.

I know I like a movie when the only problems I have are with the theater or the audience.

PF's love of Michael Caine notwithstanding (tonight we watched Get Carter, and now he has a new saying "Stick it in some soft soap" which just cracks me up and barely replaces "Chin Chin"), it's a good flick. The only flaw is Katie Holmes, and I beg to differ, she ain't that bad until the end, and that's just confusingly annoying but not "horrible." PF and dave commented on her nipple action, which I have to say, I noticed the second time around and not so much the first. Maybe because the sound is better in Roseville and I didn't get as distracted by noisy audience shenanigans.

Other movies I've seen recently and enjoyed: Garden State.

Did I already say that earlier this month? it's good.

sigh.

I should get to sleep soon. But insomnia is calling my name loudly.

~Amelie, Battier, even.


12:08 AM

Monday, June 20, 2005  
Well, I've had a ridiculously torturous day in and out of doctors and nutrition classes. Suffice it to say, I'm hot, cranky, and have not had enough fruit. Which is pretty much going to be par for the course this entire summer. I intend to make everyone around me as miserable as I am, now that I have found out about Grapes. Grapes? Why, I can only have 10. Per day. Cherries? Roughly the same.

Anyway.

Did I mention how much I love the PF? He often makes it all better. He said he would eat on my new Every 2 Freaking Hours And Only 2 Fruits Per Day schedule, which is crazy since he's the skinniest man alive and needs to eat whenever his stomach tells him to. But I'm not allowed to steal his late night fries in the car when he's not looking.

It's hot outside. Did I mention torturously hot? It's probably around 90 but feels like 115 to me. Probably because I'm damn cranky.

I am so cranky that I just sent an email to the KCRA news story people. What idiots. They cover cranky neighborhood dwellers near the EPA building who are pissed that EPA workers park their cars and move them every 2 hours. This of course takes every worker 20 minutes to hike back and forth and repark their vehicles, and the student workers with bare midriffs explained that their bosses understand because they don't make enough to park in the city lots. But did anyone from the channel ask why they didn't use their STUDENT IDs to ride the BUSSES??? Or why the stateworkers who WEREN'T students didn't take advantage of their bus passes issued to them because they are state workers? Did someone shut down that program at the state level? If so, THAT'S the bigger story. As for the neighborhood, how did they manage to keep their 2 hour free parking status when every other neighborhood in the vicinity is 1 hour or metered? Those poor residents can't park in their own streets with their own F permits! BECAUSE OF EPA WORKERS TAKING UP ALL THE SPOTS.
So, I sent a cranky email saying they missed the fact that there is 1) a waiting list for city parking lots for monthly parkers 2) EPA workers should be better at modeling RT use and 3) those streets are mysteriously 2 hour parking spots when everywhere further from the courts and EPA buildings are 1 hour and that's a bit sketch, don'tcha think??
I think there's a much bigger story than interviewing idiotic blond bare midriffed student workers carrying unopened snapple bottles from their recent car parking adventures during work hours.

But then again, I'm cranky, hot and have not eaten enough fruit today.

~Amelie, My Story, Not Yours


6:44 PM

Thursday, June 16, 2005  
My job interview went well today. There were only 4 standard questions and I had 3-5 minutes each, and then I was allowed to ask a question or two. The first two were easier than the 3rd. I think I blundered through the third question, which was where my panic feelings set in. I honestly did not have any anxieties going in to the interview, and I wish I'd known who was going to be interviewing me because their interests are closely associated with mine (I read their bios when I got home), and I think that would have helped with #3. That particular question was this long paragraph that asked me to explain how I would prioritize the 15 tasks bundled into the question. They all had to do with epidemiology protocols and studies, and my answer was so generic it kills me. I said "I would be in close contact with my supervisor and my team, and calender my workload on a timeline so that I knew which priorities were higher. I would also be flexible enough to adjust my deadlines when requested by my team leader." I think I actually hemmed and hawed a bit on this one because I suddenly got nervous, and I added a lot of stuff they certainly didn't need. Lordy, had I known these two were interested in prison populations and migrant workers, I could have KILLED that question. But because I got a little flustered, the next question with a paragraph I don't even remember the intro to and which had a part a) and part b) attached, I was a little bit overly pathetic on answering. It was all about data filtering. I don't think I stayed on it quite long enough. I talk too fast, too.

But I think I pulled it together enough for them to inform me they were actually hiring TWO people for the position title, with slightly different foci. One is training/traveling/research (so my thing), but they need someone to start now. The other is data analysis. And that sounds boring. But it pays the same, same team, and same work arena. That's through a different contractor, a UC. Plus, they figured I would be able to start at a later date, which was what my question was all about: how flexible and needy are you to fill this job and can you wait for me or accept my plea for a modified work schedule? The job I interviewed for today would have been rough for me right now, they want someone at 40 hrs/week immediately, lots of travel. I'm going to need a LOT of time off soon, by law, and there's no way around it. The other job would be a better fit time-wise, so I'll watch for it and apply again. I knew I wouldn't get this job, but I still hope they think of me for it. I'd be such an ideal fit. I know all the NGOs and other players they need to talk to.

Sigh.

What really sucks ass? This job wasn't offered in 2003 when I got layed off the first time. Boy, would I have walked into a good thing back then.

I hope December has lots of jobs available. That's when I'll be ready to really commit myself to something.

~Amelie, The Girl Who Should Have Put A Cork In It on #3.


7:20 PM

Tuesday, June 14, 2005  
Well, my sis is not being the nicest. I think I'm done trying to placate her and trying to help her out. It's never thanked, only expected, and that's fine. I don't need her help, so I'm not offering mine anymore. That's all I have to say about that.

Other than that, I've had some trouble sleeping, but I may have kicked my insomniac's ass today. The pool was clear enough to warrant a dip, and PF and I tried it out after lunch. Red beans and rice, diet apple soda, and a little swimming, and I'm feeling MUCH BETTER about life. I missed the WCA today due to insomnia, but they were very understanding. I highly recommend volunteering there if anyone in Sacto is interested in wildlife rehabbing.

S&J are leaving for Europe today. That's exciting! I hope they have the greatest time ever. Sounds super fun.

Me, I'm just having a lazy happy summer, swimming and trying not to get too upset that I'm not working.

Although I DO have a job interview this week...

~Amelie, lazy ass.


4:24 PM

Saturday, June 11, 2005  
I spent the night at my sister's house. I think they added egg carton to her bed because it was phenomenally uncomfortable for the likes of me. I recall LIKING her bed a lot on the few occasions I've napped on it, and last night it felt like I was sleeping on giant tubes of rigatoni that kept shifting. Worse, she has old flannel sheets, which normally would be great, except with the rigatoni mattress pad it felt like I was getting tangled. This explains my dreams of drowning in giant bowls of minestrone and desperately grabbing out at floating beans, potatoes, and my dog, who got clobbered more than once. It must have affected him too, because when he woke up, he threw up. We dogsat for her rambunctious boy dog, Buster. Buster is a handful, and that's an understatement.

My sister did not follow my advice when she got this puppy. I said "If you love him, get him, but he's going to need a LOT of work. He's smart, but you will need to be consistent."

And what happened? She crate trained him, which I recommend in order to reduce destructive behavior and foster trust/comfort (dogs like dens, dogs need quiet time, dogs will destroy things from boredom/sense of belonging.) But she eschewed the pinch collar that I told her to buy "because it just looks mean." And she didn't do an intensive dog training (she only attended 5 weeks of puppy classes) or watch dog training videos, and she panicked when he freaked out at people of different ethnicities (instead of introducing him sternly and politely) and kept him away from children because he growls and lunges (instead of correcting him to ignore them or be submissive to them.) He lunges because there is no way to correct him. He has no way to correct because there is nothing used consistently to restrain/correct him collar wise on a walk. A walk is the best way to train a dog to follow you and listen/respond to you. It all goes together. You need to lead your pack. My sister's dog is like a scrappy/hyper 13 year old kid who ends up running away from home and selling his ass for a place to sleep. He's already been to boot camp, for pete's sake, and my poor sister was chastised for not being a good enough dog owner and failing her dog. She never went back. Who could blame her? Meanwhile, while her dog no longer chases her kitties or jumps the fence, he still goes after other dogs and people.

All this aggressive doggy behavior, in my humble opinion, comes from having too much energy and nowhere to spend it appropriately. Dogs who are not properly socialized have a LOT of trouble getting along with a) other dogs and b) people of different sizes/sexes/colors. The best thing a dog owner can do is TAKE YOUR DOG WITH YOU EVERYWHERE, on a RESTRAINT ORIENTED COLLAR that you learn how to use properly (I like the pinch collar for most dogs, but like the choke chain, it must be placed properly, fitted properly and used properly to avoid injuries), and get PLENTY OF DOG TRAINING while realizing the training NEVER ENDS. It's an all-the-time kind of thing. People get so confused by this: if they have two dogs and the dogs get along, they think they are done. Not by a long shot. And single dogs? Can actually go insane if they are left alone for days on end. There was a pit bull mauling that resulted in the death of a little kid in SF recently; the dog was unneutered, the family was in transition, and it's brain just snapped one day when he and his unspayed female counterpart were alone in the apartment with the boy. Not that I know everything about this case, but it's sounding pretty basic and tragic. And not because it's a pit bull problem: I will never be convinced that pits are anymore dangerous than cocker spaniels. The Presa Canarios who attacked that poor woman in the hallway in SF were also poorly handled and had gone nuts. Dogs go crazy, and I don't mean harmless homeless nutball; I mean dangerous crazy. Lots of animals can become insane, it's kind of the default for an unhappy brain/body. Sure, people breed craziness and aggression into dogs for their own wacky purposes, but almost all of the aggression I see in dogs could be trained out with consistency and correction and care and affection, and if not, you need to put the dog down. Honest to god. You just need to be on the ball 99% of the time.

I'm not talking about eschewing flexibility; you can be flexible, but you have to be consistent with your dog/trainable pets. No matter what trainer or technique you use, you need to pick what you KNOW you can do WELL from that trainer/technique, and stick with it. Forever. If you use hand signals, great. Reinforce them with treats, affection, whatever, but make sure you dog KNOWS THE HAND SIGNALS. I use verbal, hand, and body language with my dog. I can call him from across a dog park, and I can generally get him to do EXACTLY what I want him to do by keeping him from being distracted. But I also commune with my dog daily and have mini dog training/refresher sessions. Literally the ONLY problem I have with my dog is that if I am out of his sight for a minute he will whine for a few until he settles down. He will perseverate on the door I went through until I come back, and then it's party time again. And the only way I deal with this is to sternly warn him NOT to bark as I am leaving, and ignore him until he calms down when I come back.

Basically, it's about discipline and boundaries, as well as affection and general care.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I love dogs. I mean, I just adore them so much it makes my eyes get weepy with tears when they do cute doggy things. So Buster got LOTS of affection and training while I was there. I feel terrible for him. My brother and I sneaked him over to the dog park today against everyone's wishes (my mom didn't want me to take him because of the strain on my body right now, and my sister didn't want him there because he "gets aggressive.") What do you do to train an aggressive dog?? Socialize him/her to be SUBMISSIVE, and get their sillies out i.e., let them run like the nutballs they are in an unconfining space. But again, this has to do with discipline and making the dog perform behaviors you want. You gotta watch a dog at the dog park. You can't just sit and drink a coke and gab to other dog owners and ignore the poops, snarls, and humping. You have to be right there when the dog starts sniffing/wrestling with another dog to gauge the intensity of the contact. You cannot be nervous about it, dogs aren't nervous in general. Normal dogs want to play and dogs who aren't socialized properly have trouble getting into the groove of play. You want an aggressive dog? Don't let them interact with anyone. You want a dog who is comfortable with dogs/people/birds/kids/bikes/skateboards/whatever? Let them get to know this stuff, let them get their curiousity met. But restrict and curb unwanted behavior. You dog starts to snap and snarl? Knock the legs out and hold them down on their back. This is the BIGGEST LESSON you can learn from the Monks of New Skete (that, and crate training should be federal law.) NEVER allow a dog to dominate others or perseverate/obsess on one object/person/dog. The other thing you need to know is that lots of dogs chase smaller dogs and can accidentally kill them either with a mouth grab or a run-over. Owners of small dogs should petition the dog park groups in their regions for more small dog parks, where their dogs don't have to worry about being "preyed" on. Small dog parks are also good for senior dogs or dogs with bad hips. I get worried when I see a small, nervous doggy at the dog park, especially one with a long back. But most of the time it's all right. Still, small dog owners need to be wary of sight hounds (like whippets and greyhounds and sighthound mixes) and other hunting dogs: a prancing little maltese looks like a rabbit and is just as tempting.

Basic training should include:
Leash walking (dog should be at your side or behind you, not pulling, comfortable pace, easily corrected, easily walked past cats and other dogs, not aggressive when meeting/greeting other dogs) The most important thing you can learn. Period.

Recall (this means the dog looks at you and starts toward you but not necessarily comes right to you, common recall command is "here" or "c'mere".) This is GREAT for dog park and other off leash scenarios where you need to remind your dog that you are watching.

Come, ___(this means the dog knows it's name and comes to you and either sits or waits for another command.) This is the kind of thing you practice with a clicker and treats, or "make it a party" when the dog arrives at your feet, lots of praise. So important when you need your dog's full attention.

Sit (this is really not that important, but it's good to have a dog that doesn't jump and sitting is a really good way to train it out of your dog. Dogs jump when they want attention, so the best way to give it to them is to command them to sit for it, and bend down to them for the pats. Dogs that jump up uninvited, no matter how lovable, are dangerous.)

Stay (this is soooo important when you need your dog to wait for you in the car, or by the door when you're answering it. It's also impressive and helps train a dog to "Come, Fido", because you can walk away and make it a party.)

No. No means no. It should be curt, alert, immediate, corrective, and you can do it however you want. Cesar Millan says "shhh." I say NO. I say No Bark, No Kitty, No Jumping. My dog understands the know, and learns that other word when I say it if he's doing something like any of those things. The No Bark command was so easy. Sure, I still have to do it. But it's all about being consistent and forever and dogs are hands-on much of the time until they are trained.

Away (this is where you send your dog off to be a dog. I say "go play" and sweep my arm. My dog knows: "Here....Go Play" means "check in, and keep going." Very important for agility and for getting/releasing attention.)

You can get these commands down with consistent use of a long dog leash followed by consistent use of the commands off leash. It can happen in a yard or in a house. You can use treats, you can use hand signals, clickers, whatever. Clicker training is a little harder because you have to have timing just right and it's hard for the undercoordinated (but even I got it eventually, so anyone can); books really help with this.

I make jokes that my kids will be clicker trained, but really, I understand that kids are different than dogs/parrots/cats (I had my cat sitting on command for years until I gave up training, but they are totally trainable.)

No dog should be left with children who do not know it. No dog should be offleash in public. No dog should be allowed to roam at large. No dog should be without a dog ID, license/up-to-date vaccinations. No dog should be chained up or left in a yard for the entire day because they are social and because they WILL go crazy. Crated dogs kept indoors during your work hours are healthier dogs who do not get into trouble or do destructive behaviors. That said, dogs need to be let out of their crates first thing to potty when you get home from work and the house must be a comfortable temperature if they are indoors. Crates need to be big enough to turn around in, but not so big the dog can relieve itself and cozy up in another section to get away from it's poop. Crates need to be super sturdy. If they can chew a chair in half when they are bored, they can come through wood and fabric screening.

Anyway. I guess I just wanted to write about how it's hard to be around a frustrated dog. You feel so sorry for it, you want to give it attention and exercise and affection and training, but you know you're only around for a couple of days. I wish to dog my sister would listen to me for a change. I'm not an idiot.

Sigh.

~Amelie, Dog Whisperer II

Sacramento Dog Training Programs:

Kevin Salim: I highly recommend his 1 day session in your home for puppies who are too young for kindergarten/walks in public. His basic lessons are to teach YOU to use your leash, corrective collar for dogs or owners that need them, and basic commands. It's up to you and it's only one session, so take notes. I have never attended his groups or used his other training programs. I don't agree with everything, but he was amazing, sort of a doggy psychologist, but very firm. Plus, I get the biggest kick out of reading his website, especially his anti-david baron page (I don't know baron, but it's fun to read cranky pages.)

4 Paws University: recommended by loads of vets in town, easy to find. They meet in McKinley Park and I like the fact that they are inexpensive enough to keep attending, and they specialize in "obility", sort of an obedience/ability/agility program. They offer loads of different classes and are well known for their basic puppy obedience classes. I have read everything on their site and I agree with almost everything that they've written/espoused.

Elite Dog Training: they do training/boarding here and specialize in "aggressive" dogs/pits/rotties/etc. This is the program my sister finally used, but they weren't people friendly, so she gave up. If you can handle criticism, and your dog is aggressive or needs specialized training, this may be the program for you. I have seen dogs post-training and if the owner can do the follow-through, they end up with a superbly trained doggy.

I also recommend WAG for agility classes. I decided on them instead of the other formidable program, Haute Dawgs, because they were year round and had available openings. Turned out to be a great program, but you have to practice at home a LOT.

I recommend the Dog Show Specialties store (at Richards Blvd and I-5) for their puppy "show training" free class on Wednesdays. It's set up for pure bred puppies, but all young pups are welcome. I do not know if they require shots. It's a neat way to get socialized, especially since it's all indoors. Ooohh! And the site now offers AKC obedience training. Neato! I also highly recommend their grooming supplies, very high quality clippers and dog hygiene stuff and the staff are incredibly knowledgeable about breeds and your "type" of dog if you have a mix.

I do NOT recommend the dog training programs at local pet stores, only because I think there are too many distractions (um, like the squeaky toys and people watching and "clean up on aisle 4s", not to mention the kitty adoption center and the rats in their cages across from the Xpens.) Still, it's fun to watch the puppies, so I'm guilty of being a distraction.

Okay. I think I'm done with all things doggy in sacramento for awhile.


3:53 PM

Friday, June 10, 2005  
I got a call about a job. I will interview next week. This is a good thing. Sort of. I wonder how long they will wait for me or if they'd hire me and then let me go for a few months to take care of some stuff and let me come back again later? It's midtown. It pays great. It's something I'm super qualified for. Maybe they will wait.

I also got bad news, but I'm still wrapping my brain around it. PF doesn't like me to post "private" stuff on my diary, so I will try not to. Still. Stuff bothers me. It's so much easier to type and publish and look at it than it is to write with my horrifying handwriting into a private paper journal. Besides, I type only slightly slower than I think. Which is pretty fucking fast. But I write like a slug. I'm not the only one who can't read what I write by hand, it's a common problem. I'm the only one I know who can make 5s look like 9s.

It's not like I'm ashamed of anything I write, but I do understand that my stuff affects other people who love me and who want privacy when they are dealing with my newest bad news and what have you. So, with that, no more medical crud. At all.

I still reserve the right to be self righteously indignant about anything that doesn't go to plan. I just might not give all the details anymore. It ain't like I'm gonna forget 'em.

Things I have found out about myself that I didn't realize before:

I know way too many obscure 80s songs. And their lyrics.

I cannot play guitar when it is tuned to DADGAD. I cannot play guitar when it is tuned to open C. This is because I am not strong enough for barre chords and my hands are teeny. My dad just bought a new Martin dobro with a gorgeous body. I am jealous.

I do not like finches very much and I feel guilty about it. I MAY have picked up a case of mites from a dead magpie today. Just thinking about it makes me want to take the hottest shower possible. Although I can't. But there you go. Mites.

I need to eat and take a shower.

Tonight I am in Tahoe Park walking rowdy pitbulls and seamases and visiting friendly friends.

~Amelie, A Mere Mite of a Woman


12:43 PM

Wednesday, June 08, 2005  
It started pouring rain this morning. Neither the PF nor I could sleep properly. I'd like to blame it on the nap I had yesterday, but that was much needed and post-milkshake. It certainly doesn't explain why I was up at 5 AM. And 3 AM. And 2 AM. And turned off Conan only to stay awake all night long, basically. And the funny part is I thought I was keeping him up, and he was just wide awake because he kept thinking about his boat getting too wet and how he should have just covered the sucker and how he didn't want to keep ME up, as if anything could when I'm actually sleepy. My poor PF. At least we were miserable together...

That said, I love the rain. I'm thoroughly enjoying this cool/wet weather and hope it lasts through the summer. Sorry if that puts a damper on hot-weather activities, but I've actually been rafting in the rain and that's fun. Regular rafting is hot and boring. So actually, I'm not sorry. I still hope it rains. Except on picnic days.



Sigh.

~Amelie, The Sleep Deprived Grrl


8:55 AM

Sunday, June 05, 2005  
I woke up at a normal time today, for a Sunday.

And promptly missed a Flyball tournament/demo in Lodi at 10:30. That I had PROMISED to attend last week.

I suck. I seriously do.

Flyball is fun, it's basically doggy relay races and it's hilarious. I like to watch, but my dog is not into it, so he likes to just watch too.

I seriously suck. I can't believe I did that.

~Amelie, who sucks.


12:07 PM

Thursday, June 02, 2005  
Per a discussion with Allykat regarding consolidation of student loans, I decided to check my free credit report. Some states allow it, some don't, you can visit all three sites. I managed to get my shit together to dispute a long held belief that I should not be made responsible for a late charge back in August that I was penalized on for a service I never received and was coerced into paying for so that I could cancel said service (and to therefore have 2 months of "late payments" knocked off my credit history, but they refused to take off August because at the time they could only go back 2 months.) I was told to dispute it with a credit agency. I had given up at one point...but now I've completed the dispute. Needless to say, this stupid charge only shows up on one of my reports. The other two ignored it. Because it's so stupid.

So anyway. I highly recommend checking your credit reports for free and signing up to get notified when you're able to do it again (for free.) You can also order cheap versions of your FICA (a credit scale logarithm) from various agencies if you're interested. It's good to know for future credit/mortgage possibilities.

Which ironically, is what I contend that I was fraudulently charged for back in May-November and simply ignored because it was under my radar until it caused me problems: a "credit protection plan" that was supposed to send me a packet that included cancellation paperwork, but mainly should have been forms to receive a "free credit report". By the way, this credit protection plan actually stated that because they had my mailing address on file, and their package did not come back to them as undeliverable, that somehow confirms receipt of the actual package, which I still say never came in the goddamn mail. When my lender opened a brand new line of credit for me, they incorporated the balance of the previous account and closed it, and that's when I found out that you are actually responsible for unauthorized charges you didn't contest previously when they continue to be charged on a lender initiated close. The charges can continue on lender-closed accounts (I still can't believe you are responsible), even if it's $.50/month. Which is what I was charged. And then I was charged $25.00 late fees by the lender. All of which I ended up paying just to clear two late notices, but I was furious. And to make matters worse, the credit protection plan that I was disputing would only go back 2 months on my "account", so it left me with August, 2004, which may or may not screw up my FICA (although it did in the past and has screwed me out of better interest rates thanks to one recent late charge.) I guess I should count myself lucky that I checked my credit in early November of last year and discovered this crud. Still, it has taken me till May to dispute it, so that just goes to show you how easily defeated I am about junk like this.

What I hate about credit is that this shit stays on your record for 7-11 years, makes no sense to "keep" when you've paid an account in full, and is annoying. It's very hard to keep your credit good these days unless you are very careful, very frugal, or extremely boring. In any case, good credit means nothing. I will point out now that there are tons of people in tons of debt who make minimum payments and will never pay off their credit and will never get out of debt because they don't make any money. Yet they receive credit offers and are deemed good credit risks. Hello. If you ever figured that credit was a scam, you were absolutely right, but it's so necessary nowadays. Just to get through undergraduate school with 2 low paying jobs and 3 credit cards with credit lines under $300, I had to buy groceries and put rent on a credit card more than one time, and when the creditors started calling and hounding me? I actually had to get my less-than-1000 debt into a credit counseling service back in the early 90s just to get some relief. And it only recently came off my records. I currently owe 85X that amount and can manage on unemployment to make more than minimum payments on everything. Go figure. But I'm a "risk"?

I have student loans and credit cards. This is normal for a highly educated person in a relatively low-pay socioeconomic status. That's me in a nutshell. It's not that I want to have so much credit debt, it's that I have to carry it longer because it takes me longer to pay off due to having enjoyed a decent salary for the past 3 years and wanting to spend a little more on myself once in awhile. But I swear. There should be a reward for paying shit off completely, which I have done on numerous occasions. They oughtta give you some love. Like a one-for-one deal at least where the 3 agencies remove "marks against" your credit when you've done something good with it.

The other thing they should do is get their facts straight. For example, I never worked at a large commercial factory bakery, but 15 years ago, my credit report said I did. Yet somehow, none of them have any of my most recent employers in their records.

Call me crazy, but it seems like bad form when they have a late notice for $.50 on a credit protection plan you never actually had benefits from that can affect you for years, but have no idea who employees you even though you had to apply for credit with that employer history.

Sigh.

Credit sucks ass. Just get rid of it asap, pay it off as much as you can. Exactly 2/3 of my current unemployment money goes directly to debt payments. I'm just lucky I can do that right now. I wish I was smarter about it when I was making a lot more money, but I really liked having an extra grand to use as I wanted every month free and clear. I could save it for a rainy day, OR, I could use it for buying cherries out of season and treating PF to good steaks and non-matinee movies for his bday. But stupid me, I should have been chucking that extra flow at my credit cards. And I didn't. Not at the time.

But I will next time, I swear to jeebus.

Amelie, Over and Out.


10:17 PM

Wednesday, June 01, 2005  
Today was great. Weird, but great.

Started with feeding baby birds, which is always way too busy and hard on my hips (I'm like an arthritic 80 year old with a gimongous belly, and the weight alone makes my pelvic bones rip and stretch.) Four hours on my feet feeding pigeonlets, and I'm done for. Naptime!

But nope, The Pocket Fisherman took me fishing about 1 hour after I got home from birdville. From birds to fish. It's really not that much of a stretch.

I caught the first bass of the day, and of course, it was my only catch. But it was legal size. Barely legal. I had hooked some barely legal bass. I kissed her and threw her back to the delta. PF caught 16 fish en totale. I made him kiss them all. You have to kiss a fish to make it forgive you for piercing it's poor face. Luckily, fish heal up nicely. The bass were really pretty in the delta, very greenish silvery. I can't stand them when they are decrapitated, ugly and dull. These were really gorgeous. Maybe I seem them through rose colored glasses now that I've actually caught a decent one. Or maybe just polarized sunglasses make all the diff.

All was well, except for the bouncing and jouncing over the wakes. The wakeboarders came onto our water when school let out this afternoon. And they makes wakes. I hateses 'em. Wakes and waves. And lately I've been so seasick. Not to mention when we are skimming over wakes at 45+ MPH, the smackdowns make my poor giant belly bounce and all the ligaments tear a little. My poor belly. I think this was my last fishing trip until after September. I just can't handle it. I need to wait until my midsection is diminished. I think someone may have heard me yelping over each wave (between giggles and sips of gatorade, I was yelping piteously. Even the PF felt a little sorry for me. Yelp.)

Because later, when we got to the parking lot and while we were talking about my fish-o-the-day, a cop pulled up and asked us if we were arguing. It was 8:30 PM and I just stared at him with a WTF?? look. PF let him know there were 2 other boats, maybe they were arguing. Stockton's finest looked at me and said "I'm following up on a complaint about an argument, I got a call about an asian male and a white female with ponytails." I was just plain flabbergasted. Turns out he was probably yanking our chains and just trying to see if we would "break" under his weighty interrogation and admit to "arguing" or something. Still not quite sure what's wrong with arguing, but whatever. We weren't arguing at all. Mostly I was bragging and saying how proud I was of my single, solitary fish. The second one I've caught in 3 years of fishing with the PF. Couldn't figure out what woudl have prompted a "call" to the PD about me and the PF, although I considered the thought that Maybe Someone Heard Me Yelping (but that would have been a Sherriff call, not a PD) and PF joked that I am "shrill" hahaha, funnnny. At least I think he was joking. Anyway. I guess the moral of the story is Don't Date An Asian Whatever You Do. I now refer to the PF as Domestic Abuser/Asian Male. DA/AM PF.

Thass right.

Yay Stockton. Go find a real perp.

Last night was very nice. Went to a lovely BBQ and Neon and Likky's adorable house, played with dogs named Hazel, Marbles and Heylove, and ate yum carrot salad. Then we tried to see Palindromes to no avail. It's playing at the Crest, but I have a sneaking suspicion we won't see it until it comes out on video because the last showing is 7 or something in the evening. Which is crazy. So it will probably be gone from Sacto by the time we get it together. Sigh. Well, we did see star wars earlier last week, and I despised it (why can't you be prego, married, AND a politician in that enlightend culture? How can you have nanotechnologies and move giant iguanas with your mind, yet not have prenatal care to quash your fears of childbed fever? How can you not know you're having twins? Phenomenally dumb.) Anyway. We came home and crashed, and started today off early.

I tired now.

~Amelie, sleepy suntanned round AKA Mola mola


12:19 AM

 
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