Tag Archives: dogs

Lame Adventure 125: Memories of Mean Streak

My childhood dog, Mean Streak, would have turned 287 in dog years this past Sunday, had he not taken leave of this world to commence peeing on the fire hydrant in the sky back in the spring of 1986.  Mean Streak was an excellent watchdog but a bit on the high strung side.  My family and I did not excel at dog training, as much as our dog excelled at getting us to play by his rules.  Revered dog whisperer Cesar Milan probably would have shouted himself hoarse at us.

An example of Mean Streak steamrolling us was that he expected warm toast with butter for breakfast.  One morning, I entered the kitchen where I discovered Mean Streak was exceptionally snarly as was my father.  I avoided the dog but confronted my dad.

Me:  What did you do to piss off the dog?

Dad:  I made him breakfast.  Why won’t he eat it?

Me:  Did you toast it?

Dad:  Of course, I toasted it!

Me:  Did you butter it?

Dad:  Butter it!  Which one of you jackasses started him on that – you or your brother?

Me:  Try your mother.

Granny, who lived with us, would make the same breakfast every morning for herself and Mean Streak, except she had coffee with her buttered toast.  She would have gladly given him a cup of java, too, but she had the capacity to see that he was excitable enough without adding caffeine to his diet.  Whenever Granny went away, Mean Streak would be a bit out of sorts.  He was confident that she would get his breakfast right unlike her son.

A particularly bad habit my grandmother taught the dog was how to bribe.  Mean Streak would not allow anyone to touch his supper dish when he had finished eating.  The only way we could get it back was to show him a biscuit.  If you were foolish enough to try and take his dish away without a treat, he’d sink his teeth into your arm.  He made it very clear he was in total control of that dish.  Therefore, you’d prominently extend the cookie towards him so he could clearly see it since he was so nearsighted.  After he was certain it was indeed his dessert in your hand, and not the exploding cigar he deserved, he’d punch a paw into the dish prompting it to stand on its side.  Then he’d carry it to you in his mouth, and drop it at your feet in exchange for his end of the deal.  Once he punched his dish so vigorously, it went flying under my dad’s Buick.

Mean Streak went ballistic.

He crouched low but could not shimmy his way under the car.  He was barking frantically, which did not faze me since he was always barking at something, including the wind.  He even barked in his sleep.  As Mean Streak was freaking out, I was in the living room calmly reading the newspaper, tuning out the racket.  My grandmother arrived on the scene.  When she realized what had happened, she ordered me to intercede on the dog’s behalf.

Granny:  Get the dog’s dish.

Me:  No way.  He’s on his own.  Sucks to be him.

Granny:  He’s upset!

Me:  When he bites my arm off, won’t that upset you to have a granddaughter the neighbors call ‘Stumpy’?

Granny (demanding):  Go under the car now!

Me (channeling John McEnroe):  You can’t be serious!

She was.  I went under the car.  All the while Mean Streak is crouched low, anxiously watching my every move with a crazed look in his eye and white foam dripping off his jowls.  When I get a hand on his dish, I whack it out.  He grabs it without saying thanks, and obediently hands it to my grandmother who rewards him with his biscuit adding:

Granny:  Good boy!

Alongside barking and growling, Mean Streak’s other favorite activity was to lie under the kitchen table and chew on his nails, as opposed to his countless chew toys and tennis balls.  One day he gnawed with a little too much gusto.  Hence, as seen in the picture below, his bandaged right paw.

Mean Streak flaunting the wounds of war with himself.

Lame Adventure 124: Cat Lapping

The Science section of The New York Times has published a story about how cats lap water.

Another mystery solved.

The Times online has also embedded a four minute forty-five second video illustrating “the biomechanics of feline water uptake.”  Translation: see for yourself in slow motion how Cutta Cutta, an M.I.T. engineer’s pet cat, drinks.  While this engineer was having breakfast, he was observing Cutta Cutta lap.  Instead of investing his vast intellect in the direction of global warming, our dependence on fossil fuels, or the rapidity of college student alcohol intake, he focused his attention on his cat delicately darting its tongue into its water bowl at lightening speed.  This seemingly ordinary act of feline nature fired this engineer’s imagination, as well as that of an M.I.T. colleague, and two other engineers, one from Princeton, and the other from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

I have deduced that these four brilliant men of science had an immense amount of time on their hands, and were also under pressure to look busy.  I have experienced a similar situation in my own place of employ, where I oversee the labeling of floor tile.  When there is a lull in my workload, I exploit this opportunity to clean my desk, an act I have performed precisely once in six years much to the astonishment of my boss and colleagues who initially assumed that I was preparing to give notice.  Returning to the topic of the study of cat lapping I suspect this research would have gone in an entirely different direction had that engineer been focused on Cutta Cutta making use of the litter box.

Although I am personally a dog person by default, being deathly allergic to cats, I do have a soft spot for Maru, the superstar box jumping cat from Japan.  While watching the video below, I noticed that I sneezed.

After detailing precisely how a cat laps, the rate of lapping, and the amount of liquid consumed, the Times notes, “To the scientific mind, the next obvious question is whether bigger cats should lap at different speeds.”  To my unscientific mind, the more obvious follow-up question is, “Who the hell cares?”   Why four engineers from some of the brainiest think tanks out there would be prompted to study a cat tonguing a dish of milk baffles me, unless this is just to prove that they’re worthy of collecting a paycheck.  How does knowing how a cat laps, whether it’s my boss’s two calicos, or Leo the MGM lion, or Cutta Cutta, make this world a better place?  Considering that some of our greatest minds are investing their time studying the mechanics of how cats drink assures me that the world is definitely going to the dogs.

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Lame Adventure 88: Chain Letter Lunacy

Pictured below is Cali, a very obedient, mellow and friendly Upper West Side pooch sitting on the street corner waiting patiently for the light to change so she can continue with her evening exercise.

Cali smiling for the camera.

I asked Cali’s Best Friend:

Me:  What kind of dog is she?

Best Friend:  A mix.  I got her from a shelter.  There are so many of them there.  Why not?

Good point.  They seemed like an excellent pair.  Judging from the blueness of Cali’s eyes, my guess is that there’s a little Paul Newman somewhere in her lineage.

It is no secret that I am very fond of hounds, especially mutts.  Aside from being playful and affectionate, another wonderful aspect of dogs is that unlike their human counterparts, they have absolutely no interest in sending chain letter email like the one I received yesterday from an acquaintance I have not spoken to in nearly two years.

This acquaintance is an educated woman, a journalist by trade.  She even appeared in The New York Times last year – with her dog, Maggie.  I met her about three years ago through a mutual acquaintance, my close friend, Albee.  He and I both lost touch with her when she relocated to Colorado last year.  I have no idea where she is living now, but in recent months I get occasional impersonal e-blasts from her on an email address I no longer use.

The chain letter she forwarded to me was forwarded to her from a dimwit in the fashion industry who e-forwarded it from her workplace email providing recipients with her address, cell phone, work and fax numbers.  Sheer genius.  I suspect this dimwit is not the next Donna Karan.

The instructions are as follows — within five minutes read Saint Theresa’s Prayer (included in the email),  lift the left foot at least twelve inches off the ground and with the right pinky pointed at the tip of the nose spin around three times, make a wish, and then forward this idiocy to eleven people. Within eight minutes of all this I “will receive something you have long awaited.  Have faith.”  Oh my, the clock is ticking!  The thinly veiled chain letter threat, for there is always some hint of threat in chain letters, is that Saint Theresa’s prayer cannot be deleted.

Huh.  Hm.  Guess what?  After being subjected to twelve years of Catholic schooling in my formative years I’ve been a committed atheist ever since.  So …


That took all of two seconds.

Next, I emailed Albee.  I asked him if he also received this chain letter email from our mutual acquaintance.  He responded, “My inbox has reserved itself for African banking schemes.”

Then, I queried the three other main men in my life, Milton, Martini Max and my sidekick, Greg.  Milton and Max have both been recipients of chain letter emails and they both told me that the senders are always women.  They both delete them instantly.  Greg boasts that he never gets these kinds of emails and attributes that to his anatomy or to quote Greg-speak, “It’s because I have a dangler.”  Or, because he’s under thirty he knows fewer crazy women than Milton or Max.

I don’t know how big a role anatomy plays in this stupidity, but Greg might be onto something.  When I get these emails, it has always been from women, and usually women I know well whom I consider very intelligent.  In January, my boss, Elsbeth, fell victim to the Neiman Marcus $250 cookie recipe story that has been floating around for decades.  Possibly it’s because females are genetically programmed to be nurturing, and it is their natural inclination to want to help someone in need, but it baffles me why their olfactory properties shut down to this distinct smell of bullshit.  Cali and I could both easily sniff this one out.  Woof!  Or, grrrrrrrrrrr.