The middle child


Ted is not your typical dachshund: he’s very easy going and quiet, outgoing with strangers, and happy to try to new things. But as a result, he’s not very demanding so he sometimes gets overlooked.

This morning I was about to leave the house with Ardie and Miri, I was dropping Ardie off at the groomers on my way to go shopping. Suddenly I realized this meant Ted would be home alone all day. In all of Ted’s 13+ years, he’d been alone – sans dog or human- exactly once. And he screamed and screeched so much my neighbors called me in alarm. So, I called the groomer and explained why I couldn’t bring Ardie in. She didn’t hesitate to suggest I bring Ted in as well, just to hang out and keep Ardie company too. So off we went! I figured at least Ted could get his talons nails clipped too.

When I picked the boys up a few hours later, not only were his nails clipped, but he’d been washed and deep-conditioned! “No charge for you,” gushed the groomer, “I just did it because I wanted to, he’s just so sweet!”

Sweet old Ted, he definitely deserved his special attention today.




Today I said farewell to one of my oldest and dearest of friends, my dog Tessa. She was 17. I adopted her when she was four months old, and I was only 19. We saw each other through all of our ups and downs and milestones: college graduation, moving from Pittsburgh to Seattle, a few short-lived relationships that she didn’t approve of, to finally meeting and marrying the love of my life, who she did approve of. Even though these last few months were hard for her, she stuck around to meet my human daughter Miriam. 


She was sweet (mostly just to me and her select few humans), loyal to a fault, terribly stubborn, and very clever. She wasn’t much for obedience training but learned the words most important to her. We couldn’t utter the word “pizza” or she’d sit herself in front of the door, ready to greet the delivery man.


She was the best traveling companion because she never cared where we went, as long as she was with me. Together we saw the whole country; from the Jersey shore to Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean.


She especially loved the beaches, where she could just run and run and run. But not go in the water, of course. Water is terrible when you’re a dachshund.


She pretended to be cranky and annoyed at other dogs, and most humans too, but she loved her little pack. She was definitely the alpha female but fortunately Ted and Ardie were okay with that.


She was a connoisseur of comfort, and was most likely to be found either in bed or on the couch, but always under a blanket. Or three.


  She was also quite good at selfies, before selfies were even a thing. But most of all, for 17 years, she was mine and I was hers. Amy Sedaris puts it well: “Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.”

And so today I knew it was time. I held her and whispered to her  that I loved her, and that it was okay to go now. I told her we would be okay, and thanked her for being the best, most loyal, sweetest and bravest  friend I’ve ever had. I only hope that somehow over the past 17 years I was able to repay her for everything she gave to me. She has left her little paw prints etched on my heart.


Good night my sweet girl.

“Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us,
 these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so
 many years of our own lives.”

 – John Galsworthy


Look for the helpers

Today I was driving to pick up lunch from a food truck in our neighborhood, and came upon the aftermath of an accident. Not an annoying, “Please just move your to the side of the road while you exchange insurance info and what were you thinking not signaling for that turn” kind of accident. There was a truck stopped in the middle of the road, and in front of it two men squatting near a small white bundle. “No no no no no no” said my brain as it slowly processed the fact that the white bundle was dog. I parked and got out to see if they needed any help. The dog was awake looking around, breathing, just laying very quietly. I couldn’t tell who had hit her, if they were even still around, and it didn’t seem like anyone nearby was her owner. They were trying to figure out how to get her in their truck, and I suggested that they should use a blanket or towel as a stretcher. Someone ran to get a blanket from their trunk, and someone else standing near by gave them directions to the nearest emergency vet. They put the dog in their truck and drove away, and everyone else dispersed, to their cars they’d parked haphazardly on the side of the road or to the nearby houses. Seattle and Ballard residents may be mostly annoying, passive-aggressive, and entitled, but they do love their dogs, and other people’s dogs for that matter. And for that most of their other sins are forgivable. To paraphrase my beloved Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things….my mother would say, ‘Look for the helpers, you will always find people who are helping.'”

I didn’t end up getting lunch from the food truck…it was supposed to be the cajun truck and it turned out to be the grilled cheese truck instead. So I held it together long enough to get back in my car then drove home, crying the whole way. But I am sure that little dog turned out to be okay, and got reunited with her owners. Because any other outcome is not acceptable, and is unthinkable.

So please drive carefully, know where your dogs are, and keep them leashed outside all the time.

25 weeks

I’ve been meaning to update this blog for a while now, mostly just for myself so I refer back someday and remember all these crazy thoughts and feelings that are running through my pregnant mind. It all seems so immediate and relevant right now, but I suppose someday I might wonder when morning sickness (i.e. all-day-queasiness) finally started to go away (around week 16) and when I started feeling the baby move (around week 18/19). I might want to know when I started to reconcile my terror and snark of the Mommy Club with the dissonance of actually becoming a mom (I haven’t yet). I’ll definitely want to refer back to my thoughts on things that I will NEVER do as a mom, once I become a hypocrite like the best of them. Because of course, I’m the best parent in the world right now (everyone is, before they have kids). I’ll write a post with a whole list in the near future, perhaps a manifesto if you will, but topping the list at this point are: I will NOT refer to myself in the third person and I will NEVER own a jogging stroller. And I will ALWAYS leave a restaurant if my child starts squawking.

One thing that has started to change, only just very recently, is that babies interest me a bit more. I just have to say, I love puppies. I have never seen a puppy that didn’t make me squeal involuntarily. Pretty much, the whole world loves a puppy. There is no such thing as an ugly puppy, seriously. That said, there is no way I can find babies as singularly adorable and universally precious as puppies. Because there ARE ugly babies. There are gross babies, there are just plain bad photos of babies. I can guarantee you that when I’m out with Ardie I hear more gasps and “awwwws” than I would if I had a human baby with me. So pretty much, other people’s human babies didn’t interest me. I was a bit worried once I got pregnant and still found myself uninterested in other people’s babies. But lately I find my head turning to check other babies…it may be more of a scientific interest at this point than a generalized “awww” but it’s something. My husband and I remind ourselves and hope we continue to remind ourselves that no one will ever find our baby as interesting and adorable as we do, no matter how many repetitive, slightly blurry, bad-angled photos of baby’s first boringness we will post on Facebook. (Please don’t let me post such photos. I beg you.) And also, puppies are still cuter. Don’t get me wrong, I still desperately wanted my own baby, my own family, and I’m beyond excited to be having this little one. I also just desperately want to cling to a sense of perspective…I hope one doesn’t lose that along with the placenta, moments after birth.

In the interest of over-sharing, here’s a picture of my insides. You should feel privileged, as I wouldn’t even show you a shot of the OUTSIDE of my bare belly, and here’s the INSIDE of it. Don’t feel obligated to ooh or ahh (she’s not a puppy, after all!) because I’m the first to admit the image is a bit other-worldly and nearly creepy. But I still happen to think it’s pretty damn cool.

20-week ultrasound

Something blue

Source: via Rose on Pinterest


Planning a wedding is hard. It’s the details that are killing me, and we are deliberately keeping it simple to avoid such debilitating details. But it’s okay, these are mostly fun details: shoes and jewelry and tartan silks. The big stuff was fairly easy, maybe because the decisions were clear  and we knew what we wanted. It sort of went like this: Let’s get out of town and keep it simple. Okay…Destination wedding, we love Scotland, let’s go there!…there are castles in Scotland, let’s rent a castle!…bagpipes are Scottish, I’ll book a piper!…god-stuff creeps us out, let’s find a Humanist celebrant, done! …We like food, oh look a lovely nearby restaurant, reception booked! …Ooh, shopping…found a dress, love it, bought it, done. That all happened within about a month of getting engaged. And all of it (except buying the dress) took place on my couch from my laptop. Since then, I’ve planned and booked more of the honeymoon, invited the guests, and uhm…that’s about it. Am I missing something?

But it turns out that buying The Dress is not the end of the The Dress saga. There are all these fussy little details that I have to shop for and make decisions on: shoes, smallclothes (that’s Winterfell for underwear, it just sounds more delicate, and the irony is that in my case they are everything but), jewelry, hair accessories. Obviously I’ve found the shoes (see above!) but the perfect smallclothes continue to elude me despite months of order-a-size-try-it-on-send-it-back-order-another-size *lather rinse repeat* and I’m still trying to find earrings and a necklace that I like. Not to mention the wedding shawl I’m knitting and the lace shrug I plan to knit. I’m a bit envious of Matt being able to rent his entire outfit in one fell swoop when we get to Scotland.

However, the biggest most important aspect of the wedding plan has finally fallen into place: we found a dog-sitter! It was really hard getting excited about the whole adventure while we were still worried about who would stay with the dogs. Thanks to Barb’s suggestion, I asked the vet tech at our vet clinic if the clinic had any pet sitter recommendations and it turns out that she herself did a lot of dog-sitting for other clients of our vet. I’m so relieved the weenies will be safely cared for in their own home so we can relax and enjoy our wedding and honeymoon! I’m even more relieved that Matt’s relieved because when he’s anxious…hoo boy.

Convalescent home: Status update

So the vet thinks Tessa had a back problem, maybe a disc injury. She did some manipulations to her and Tessa yelped when she tried to turn her nose to touch her ribs on the left, indicating she has some pain around her cervical vertebrae. I was actually kind of relieved to hear that…that’s something we can treat and allow to heal and she can recover from. When you have a 15-year-old dog, every time you take her to the vet you expect the worst: I’m always expecting to hear, “Sorry, she’s riddled with cancer, in terrible pain, prognosis is about 24 hours.” So now Tessa’s taking a pharmaceutical cocktail of pain meds and muscle relaxants, and on strict regimen of rest and no stairs while she heals. Although she seemed even worse yesterday morning, today she had some of her old pep back and was interested in eating breakfast and trotting around the yard a bit. She’s loving her heated bed and I bought her a raised food and water bowl, as well as lots more cans of tasty tuna/salmon/venison dog food varieties that she likes so much.

In other dog news, today I checked out a local coffee shop that allows dogs. I had been planning to meet my friend B and her twin babies at the dog park, but due to Slushmageddon 2012 over the past two days it was most likely a muddy quagmire. Turned out that we weren’t the only Seattle weenies with that idea: we ran into Jessica of AdventureWeiners and four other dachshunds! Unfortunately Ted was harassed by a small black dog (Ted is a breedist and can’t stand black dogs. It’s quite embarrassing). He lost his shit at this black dog and had to wait in the car. I was harassed by a small boy who demanded my potato chips and terrified Ardie (Ardie can’t stand small children, their unpredictable lurching movements and high-pitched squeals freak him the f*ck out). But other than that it seemed like a pretty cool place, I’m sure it’s not always so chaotic, so I’ll definitely go back.

And now for a completely unrelated shameless plug: check out my fiance’s podcast, where he and his buddy discuss cult movies,

Atomic Ranch Convalescent Home for Dachshunds

It’s been a rough week here at the Atomic Ranch…I’ve been playing nurse to dachshunds in various states of illness and recovery. Ted had major abdominal surgery on Friday, to remove bladder stones. Like the medical geek that I am, I asked to see the stones after they were removed. One of them was the size a marble, and when your bladder is the size of a large walnut that’s pretty darned big. Ted came home the same night, and he’s been a wonderful patient. He never lost his appetite, doesn’t really seem uncomfortable or in pain, and tolerates the Cone of Shame very well. It’s a foam “Comfy Cone” and Ted is just so sweet and simple that whatever happens to him he just accepts it his reality. His incision looks great, there are no external stitches for him to nibble on. On to the next patient…

Tessa woke up two mornings ago with weakness in her back legs, lethargy, and loss of appetite. She refused her breakfast and dinner although I eventually coaxed her to eat a few bites of some tasty canned food. Instead of trotting around the yard she just stepped gingerly and wouldn’t go up or down stairs. The next morning I gave her one of Ted’s pain pills and she ate some of her breakfast, seemed to get a little more pep back but was still moving slowly. I tried to get her an appointment with the vet but we happened to be in the throes of Snowmageddon 2012 so the vet office was closing ended up closing early that day. The vet advised to continue the pain pills and bring her on Friday.

And Ardie? Oh that little scamp…he’s just fine. Frolicking in the snow and driving us all a little bit crazy with his cabin fever. Check him out, mugging for the camera, over on our friends’ Chester and Gretel’s blog, You Did What With Your Wiener.