The Lady Is The Most Tired, Though…

Last week, a coworker told me about the boxer mix he’s fostering.  Chloe is just like Denim.  Dog friendly, sweet, high energy boxer mix who can’t be tired out.  Since we’re looking into getting another dog, the coworker suggested we take Chloe for the weekend while he and his wife were going out of town.  I checked with Grant and he agreed.

Guys, I’m so tired.

They played for two days straight.  They played so much that I actually had to crate Chloe for an hour in the middle of the afternoon just so that Denim could get some much-needed rest.  (She was giving me the “I just want a snuggle, The Lady” look.)  By day two, they were taking a ten minute break once an hour or so.  (Except for the 45 minutes Denim literally hid under a blanket on my lap so that she could have some peace.)  Of course, the whole time they sounded like two velociraptors trying to murder each other and maybe some children in the Jurassic Park kitchen.  #90sreference #millennialsftw


In the end, it was decided that Chloe will not be the newest member of our home for a few reasons.

  1. She has way more energy than Denim.  As of Tuesday, she’s back to normal.  Denim is still sleeping.
  2. I can’t teach impulse control basics to two adolescent dogs at the same time.  I just can’t.  My sanity can’t take it.
  3. Chloe peed on the new couch and Grant was the one who saw her doing it.  So by 90 minutes into our experiment, Chloe was a no-go, I was in trouble, and both dogs were banned from the furniture for the weekend.
  4. I think I want to foster again….


Also, on May fifth, Denim lost her bastard status.


Update complete.


Denim Has Hired Staff

Over and over, I used to say, “My next dog is going to be so dumb.”  I usually said it right after Daisy had done something unbelievable, like escape the daycare kennel or steal things from the top of the fridge, or sleep on top of the kitchen table for maximum sun exposure.  (She also ate all the pies at Thanksgiving, literally climbed a tree, and we’re just scratching the surface here, friends.)

She got this out of a closed box from a closed closet.   And it wasn’t even hers.

My next dog was going to be so dumb.

And somehow, I just know that Daisy is in doggy heaven (funny story, I don’t think I believe in heaven for people, just for dogs, which is a real ecclesiastical dilemma, but neither here nor there) looking down on me and going, “I found you a REAL dummy, Mama.  You’re welcome.  Bet you miss me now.”

FYI:  I assume this is an accurate representation of doggy heaven.

And I do.  And I’m grateful — if sometimes frustrated — that she sent us a dog so dumb, she doesn’t know how to do anything but adore everyone and everything that crosses her path.  A dog so dumb, she has no idea when she’s annoyed another dog.  A dog who, for the life of her, does not understand why she cannot sleep on the peoples’ faces.

Or why she can’t be the navigator on long car trips.

Who, when my brain goes to increasingly terrible places, is content to lay on my chest until I can breathe again.  Who knows that the surefire way to make The Lady smile is to “hambone” on the floor when I wake up in the morning.  (This is what we call it when she begs for belly rubs on the floor with a wild grin.)  Who snores.  SNORES.  AT TOP VOLUME.

“Sunshine naps are part of a healthy daily regimen, people.”

We have signed on to be Denim’s hired staff.  The boss is demanding, but the pay is oh-so-good.

“I require playtime, The Lady.  Right now.”

Welcome to the family, Denim Bayley.  We love you, too.

In fairness, Loki and Thor remain skeptical of your value, but are willing to allow you on the couch with them.

“It’s Putting Your Butt on the Ground, Den. It’s Not That Hard.”

Guys!  Denim can sit now!  Of course, she finally figured it out on the day after I had given up, remarking to Grant, “Maybe we’ll just go straight to a ‘down.’ Maybe she’s just one of those dogs for whom sitting is really uncomfortable and she doesn’t want to do it.”

Grant agreed, but did not hesitate to point out that she was just fine sitting when she wanted.  I ignored him.  Denim is not the smartest dog, we don’t need to dwell on it, GRANT.

“I have what you call “emotional intelligences.”  No, you just like to snuggle.  “Yes, I do.”

I tried everything.  I tried luring her.  I tried luring her while kneeling and hunching over.  I tried rewarding her for every motion that got her closer to a sit.  I tried capturing a sit with a clicker, but was never ready.  I tried just rewarding her whenever she was sitting.  I tried pushing her butt down and hoping she would get the message, but mostly she just looked betrayed when I did that.

It all yielded sitting one time and then her being like, “Yeah, I’m not doing this anymore. Let’s nap.”

And then it happened.  It happened.  I had a pocket full of treats and she was trying to eat my pocket to get to them.  (She’s not smart, okay.  She’s just not.)  I ignored her, because having given up on “sit,” I was trying to teach her to drop things.  Instead, she sat.

I took a step backward, and she took a step with me and sat again.  I praised her and gave her a treat.  I took two steps back, she did it again.  The next time, I held my hand in the lure position right over her nose and she did it again.  More treats, fantastic puppy party.

Then we sat all over the house.  We sat for food, we sat at the door, we sat for fetch, we sat for no reason at all.

“What?  Like it’s hard?”

I was thrilled.  This moment is why I love training with dogs.  Because suddenly, you’re not just amiable roommates living in comfortable symbiosis.  You’re partners.  You’ve found out that you can, in fact, speak the same language.  The barrier is over.  You can communicate.

Now the world is open.  Down, Leave it, Wait, Stay, Go, Come—I hardly know where to start.  But I know Denim can sit when she’s told, so now it’s all choices instead of frustration.


Some Measure of Grace

Yesterday, anxiety reintroduced itself to me.  Not in the usual way, where I can’t fall asleep, or I’m consumed by my own thoughts, but in the way I thought I had escaped.  The manic, can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t cope, can’t BE, two Xanax before lunch kind of way.

I left work for the day.

Today I’m feeling embarrassed and small and cleaning my office.  I tend to clean when my brain gets manic like this.  If I can’t impose order on my own body, I can certainly impose it on my work/living/sleeping space.  As I was cleaning off my bulletin board of all the outdated items, I found a piece of writing I did almost a year ago, when I was frustrated with Grant, but refused to be angry with him—he was angry at me, and I chose immediately to forgive him his anger, rather than engage.

“If I’ve learned anything in the past five years, it’s that we’re all entitled to some measure of grace.  Grace is not something you ever earn, or something you can stockpile for a rainy day.  Grace is freely given.  In that spirit, we should all be willing to give people’s mistakes and accidents a strong measure of grace, if only because we know we will need it one day ourselves.  Freeing the people we live and work closely with every day to ‘make mistakes and get messy’ in an atmosphere free of judgment or recrimination can only increase a team’s creative output and give you a soft place to land when it’s your turn to fall.

“Let ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I was wrong’ be enough to be going on with.  Humility takes courage. Reward courage with the help it takes to make the world better.”

Grace is a gift.  Whether it’s from others or from yourself.  Grant yourself the forgiveness and space you need to get through today and tomorrow.  Keep breathing.

Nothing will be perfect, but everything will be okay.  Broken things are never beyond repair.

Making Space

“You should blog about Denim,” said my mother.  But in my head was, “how do I write about someone else in a space that was always meant for Daisy?”

Probably in the same way I’ve put out her beds, some of her toys, and her bowls.  By letting someone else occupy the space she used to take up in the world.  I don’t overthink it.  It’s too hard to think, “It’s hers,” because then my next thought is, “Don’t touch it!”  But toys were meant to be played with, bowls were meant to be eaten out of, and crates were made to be used grudgingly when you know the couch is RIGHT THERE AND YOU COULD BE SLEEPING ON IT WITH THE HUMANS.
“But at least The Lady put a kong in there.  Have you tried kongs?  They come with peanut butter and yogurt!”
The fact is, Daisy is still driving.  Without her, I wouldn’t know how to do this.  I wouldn’t be prepared for a sick dog, who still smells like animal shelter and is skin and bones.  She prepared me to do the impossible–foster an unknown quantity and bring out her best qualities.
So hello, Denim.  We’re going to put some meat on those bones and make you the perfect dog for your forever family.  Until then, Blue Jean Baby, you can stay in this space.

2016 Was Not So Terrible

2016 was the worst, right?  I mean, everyone died, and we elected a Cheeto for president.

Civic Responsibility is important!

Except that it really wasn’t.  I mean, 2016 was pretty good on a personal level.

I got a new job, and we moved to Milwaukee.



We rented a house with a yard, one of the things I wanted to do before I was 30.

We spent a lot of evenings in this backyard, much to Daisy’s joy.

We had friends come to visit for long weekends of fun.

We decided to get married.


These two kids GOT married on a beautiful day in November.

And I get a sister in the near future, which is the most important thing.

I traveled all over the country.  I am a pro at planes now.  And at drinking in airports.

Denver is beautiful.

Herself remains alive, though she has defied death in more ways than I care to count.

First walk in Milwaukee017
I’m gonna go swimming in this big lake!”  NOPE.

Bad things have happened, too, but what’s the point in dwelling on them?  They will have less hold on us than the good things in no time at all, especially if we choose to let the good things that make us happy define us.

Bad Dog Daisy

Here’s the thing about Daisy:  I can tell that people get tired of us apologizing for her behavior and calling her a “very bad dog.”

“Is this the face of a Very Bad Dog?  Of course not. I’m ADORABLE.”


She is, of course, just a dog.  She is really not oh-so-very-bad, except that when we “talk for her” in the privacy of our own home, one of us will say, “Are you a good girl?”  And then the other will reply in the Daisy voice (a low, rough, man voice, for some reason) “Nope, I’m a bad girl. Very, very bad.”  (And now you know that we’re insane people.)  It’s something of a joke, though to be clear, Daisy has:

  • Climbed through windows
  • Gotten on the counters in every home she’s ever been in
  • Stolen bacon out of a pan
  • Knocked over and opened more than one dog-proofed trash can
  • Lunged at people
  • Utterly subjugated other dogs
  • Jumped up in the wheelchair of an elderly woman
  • Proceeded to give elderly woman kisses
  • Stood on the shoulders of various family members
  • Attempted to chase various children
  • Nearly gotten us kicked out of our apartment
  • Escaped a kennel at the boarding facility
  • Escaped my parents’ fence
  • Escaped our fence
  • Escaped through our front door

And these are just the ones I can think of right now. There are almost certainly more. When I leave in the morning, I remind her to “Be Sweet Daisy Jane, not Bad Dog Daisy.” She usually just looks at me like, “Lady. Get out so I can go get in your bed.”

It’s this face. This is the “go away” face.

Her biggest issue remains “people at the door,” though, and since this was our first Halloween with trick-or-treaters, I was so worried.  Freak outs + escape tendencies + children in costume could equal total disaster.

But I was wrong.

Oh, sure, she whined and barked when she heard people walking up the front steps, but after I got up and opened the door, she just stood on her side of the gate and waited.

She didn’t lunge.

She didn’t try to escape.

She wasn’t particularly happy.

But she was not an oh-so-very-bad dog.

“Right, but only because I had already used up all my bad for the day attempting to steal your pants.”

And then when my law school buddy Brandon stopped by the house, she was totally cool with his presence.  I didn’t even have to make him wait outside while I leashed her up.  He was just a new person.  Apparently we’re cool with new people now.

“Who are you?  What are you doing in my house?  Don’t you try to touch my new toy!  Here are some kisses that you definitely don’t want!  I’m GOING TO JUMP ON YOU NOW!”

As always, we apologized for her. She’s a very bad dog.

But she’s a very bad dog who’s made all the progress in the world, and is starting to like newcomers to the house.  Even her alarm bark has changed for the most part from, “GET OFF MY STEPS” to “There’s someone here!  Who’s here!  MOM GET THE DOOR!”

And that’s a Bad Dog Daisy I’ll snuggle every single day.

She hates it when I use her as a head rest.  So I do it all the time. Fair’s fair. She sleeps on me, too.

Locker Room Talk

Well, by now I’m sure you’ve all heard about Trump’s misogynistic and somehow-not-campaign-devastating remark he made back in the 90s to Billy Bush about “grabbing women by the p***y.”

If you haven’t, I’m going to assume you’ve been living under a rock somewhere without the internet.  (You should leave. I bet there are bugs under the rock. Squishy ones.)

Perhaps after that, you watched the most recent Presidential Debate, thinking, “Surely, he will apologize. You can’t just say things like that.  You CAN’T.”

Turns out, YOU CAN!  Provided you

  1. Are a man, and
  2. Call it “Locker Room Talk”

You don’t have to apologize for Locker Room Talk! It’s just stuff guys say, you know, when they’re hanging out together, being all macho, and there’s no women around! You can say whatever you want about women as long as they’re not there! NOTHING COUNTS IF THERE’S NO WOMEN! WE CAN LIVE LIKE CAVEMEN! THERE ARE NO RULES!!!!!!!

Bull.  Shit.

That’s right.  I’m calling bullshit, America, and I’m going to tell you why.

The things we say have meaning and weight no matter where you say them or to whom they’re said. When you use violent, demoralizing, degrading speech, it matters. It matters, because it says something about your character. It matters, because when someone else matters so little to you, that you can make their safety, their boundaries, and their bodies a joke, it says that you consider them beneath you.

Dear Women:  Unless your name is Ivanka, Donald Trump thinks he and other men have the right to harm you and be violent towards you, because you are less than human.  You are a joke.  Sexual assault is hilarious. Here’s your rape.*  (If your name is Ivanka, you are his daughter, and he apparently wants to date you. This is, quite frankly, uncomfortable for a myriad of reasons.)

Dear Men:  By calling this kind of speech “just locker room talk” and by acting like it’s no big deal, Donald Trump is perpetuating violence in your names. He is literally saying that “all men” think like this, speak like this, and indeed act like this, as long as there are no women to police your actions. You should be insulted. You should be outraged that this is the example he is setting for young men and women. That the idea of men violating women is so underwhelming that it is just “locker room talk.”  It is no big deal. It is not worth an apology.

This is a man who does not value at least fully half of the people of this country. He is running to be your President. He is running to represent us all.

And he thinks that two tic tacs will be enough to make the words coming out of his mouth any less disgusting.


*If you have time, I recommend clicking on the “Here’s Your Rape” link. It goes to a YouTube video of a comedy set by Ever Mainard, and if you are a woman alive today, you will probably laugh with that uncomfortable “been there” feeling. It is probably NSFW without headphones or a private office.

An Open Letter to White People Who Are Upset About Marvel’s Luke Cage

Hello Fellow White People!

I read recently that some of you were upset or confused about the lack of white faces in Marvel’s Luke Cage, recently debuted on Netflix.  At first, I was like, “REALLY, GUYS?” but then I remembered something—sometimes people are awful and I should not be surprised.  Now, fellow white person reading this open letter, I am not saying that YOU, personally, are awful.  You probably do great things in your community!  I’m sure that you are a great mother/father/sister/aunt/cousin/friend/fairy godmother/etc. ad nauseum.  But you seem to be uncomfortable about a television show and we should talk about that.  I’m here to address your concerns.

1. Where are all the white people?

Great question!  The answer is, they’re somewhere else.  Doing other things.  With other people of (maybe) various backgrounds.  Luke Cage is an African American man.  Most of his daily life’s cast of characters are also African American.  They live and work in Harlem, a traditionally black neighborhood.  The reason you don’t see a lot of white people is because that’s just not where the white people are. It will be okay. And remember that people of color often wonder where all the POCs are in every other movie!

2. I just can’t relate to this experience.

From what I’ve seen, and I’m only three episodes in so NO SPOILERS PLEASE, Luke Cage is a rollercoaster of a story.  There is sadness, and loss, and revenge, and the need to protect the things you love.  Those are all human emotions to which most people can relate.  I am willing to bet that you, too, have felt extreme emotion before.  You say you can’t “relate” to the experiences on your screen, but you can surely empathize with the emotions of the characters. Saying that you can’t relate at all to what’s going on is like saying that people have different kinds of emotions based solely on the color of their skin. That seems suspect.  If you don’t like it, just say you don’t like it.  Don’t make up excuses.

And on a broader note, people of color have been watching movies populated solely with white people for over 100 years.  Look at Hollywood.  It is a white, blonde, green-eyed bunch.  Ever notice that the same POC actors play the same POC-designated roles over and over again?  It’s because we will only allow so much color into the upper echelons of High Hollywood Society.  Did you know that Alfre Woodard is playing her second role in the Marvel universe in Luke Cage?  It’s true.  She was just in Civil War as a completely different character.  We can afford to dig a little deeper and bring in some new talent.  But to bring in new talent, we have to have plenty of roles to fill—rather than just one or two token ones.  There’s room for everyone here.  (No disrespect to Ms. Woodard, who kills it every time.  Please keep showing up on my screen.)

3. It makes me uncomfortable.

That’s okay.  It’s okay to feel discomfort.  It’s an opportunity to ask yourself why you feel that way.  The thing about culture is that when you’re in it, everything seems normal.  When you are watching the culture of another it is much harder to suspend your disbelief and watch passively.  You have to actively confront your discomfort and your own knowledge gaps.  You have to think critically.  Thinking critically is not comfortable.  And you need to make your peace with that.

But feeling uncomfortable and then sweeping those feelings under the rug so that you don’t have to face them is not healthy or helpful.  The media we consume should be more than just Tim Allen making the same jokes for twenty years.  It should stretch our boundaries and horizons.  Discomfort is just part of the package.  Growth begins at the end of your comfort zone, and other trite sayings.

4. But it’s racist, right?

No.  That’s not what racism is.  You can read up very basically on racism here, but this Netflix superhero show is not it.  And it’s certainly not reverse racism which is not a thing, guys. Stop trying to make reverse racism happen. It is never going to happen.

Seeing people who don’t look like you in popular culture entertainment is not racism.  There’s room for everyone on our television and movie screens.  As white people, we are used to seeing our experiences play out on our screen.  When everyone looks like you, you don’t have to try for deeper understanding.  You’re in on the joke.  You’re used to the scenery.  You’re comfortable.  But just because something is not made with your cultural background in mind does not make it racist.

However, calling something racist because it is strongly acculturated to the “other” and that makes you uncomfortable is probably racism in action.

Watch.  Don’t watch.  But accept that the television landscape is changing, and if you can’t do that, at least you still have television’s last bastion of whiteness–Network Sitcoms.  Just stay there and don’t bother the rest of us.  We’re binging some good stuff over here.

Regards, Best Wishes, &ct,



Friday Pupdate

Fall is settling in here in Milwaukee—it hasn’t gotten out of the 60s in a week.  We have put the big comforter back on the bed, which has led to more night time Daisy Snuggles.  (She likes the comforter even more than we do. It is soft, and she can dig in it.)

There is a reason that this is the main image on the blog. Because this is a face of true Daisy bliss. She is an excellent relaxer.

You may remember that we hired a trainer, Steve Terwilliger of Rogue Dog Training, to help with Daisy’s reactivity with strangers.  He had us practice “Leave It” and work with Daisy on how to get away from the door when people were coming into and going out of the house.  The good news:  It’s Working!

First, herself is much better behaved on walks. We can even get by squirrels and bunnies now without her doing more than looking at them. (Fine, about 80% of the time. She’s still a dog.) She can also ignore other dogs while on her walk, sometimes even if they’re carrying on and lunging at her. (She is much more apt to react when said other dog is giving off a lot of play signals. Positively, but it’s still hard to move her along.) Buses aren’t even a thing anymore. Yesterday, a city bus stopped right next to us to discharge some passengers and she stayed right next to me at the corner. Walks are so much easier, over all.

“I am very good girl on runs. I don’t notice nothing but Mama yelling at me to stop tripping her. And I don’t care about that!”

Second, we’ve had lots of visitors over the summer. Friends and family mostly, but she’s been cool with it. She demands attention, and wakes them up in the morning if the fools leave their doors open, but that’s on them. We even had some people fixing the furnace, and while she was not happy about her confinement to the upstairs bedroom, she wasn’t losing her mind at the sound of strange voices.

There are some tricks to this other than “Leave It.” We put her behind a barrier when people enter so that she can see that we want them in the house, but she’s not being restrained. We also have new people give her a cool new toy to play with to distract her. By the time she settles down, the new people are friends and she has a squeaker to kill. Killing squeakers > Biting strangers. It’s good math.

“I am the best. Now give me a cookie. I’m standing right by the cookie drawer. I even just sniffed it!”

We need to do some brushing up. Her response to the command is fading a little bit. Going from a complete jump away from whatever caused her to react to a turn of the head, or a twitch of the ears. We need to build the dramatic response back in, so that she can’t try to ignore it. We also need to have more strangers over to condition her to be cool with anyone we want entering.

But for the most part, we’re happy with her progress.  As the weather gets cooler, she gets even more chilled out, content to snuggle into some blankets or lay in her sunny window. I already have plans to put something soft for her to lay on up there when the snow flies. We’ve come a long way from not allowing her near the windows for fear of causing an unstoppable reaction, so a reward is in order.

Not even on neighborhood watch. Just chilling in “her” window. We thought this would be a huge problem, but it’s clearly just a place to rest. It’s more progress than I thought we’d ever see.