>What do Puritans and my dog have in common?

>Answer: They both object to Nativity scenes.

Yesterday evening the neighbors set up their garish Nativity scene on their patio and plugged it in to glow its tacky plastic glow all evening. It’s one of those molded plastic numbers that light up from inside, which brings new meaning to the Christmas song lyric, “…With their faces all aglow!” They used to put it out front, but the baby Jesus was stolen one year, so now they set it up in back. (Hmph. Serves them right for putting out baby Jesus *before* Christmas!) Last year they set it up around the concrete goose already back there — you know those ones that you can dress up, that people often have on their front stoops? — and gave the goose a Santa hat as it gazed upon the baby Jesus. Yeah, I know, it boggles the mind.

Anyway, this was all done while Pippi was indoors and paying more attention to Bullock’s pork roast* than anything outside. But when we let outside before bed time, she quickly spied the tacky ensemble, raced over to the neighbor’s fence, raised her hackles and barked at it in her “I don’t like you one bit — back off!” bark, which she usually reserves for the poor UPS men, all of whom are terrified of her. (This bark is not to be confused with her “hey you cat/raccoon, get out of my yard!” bark of mild warning or her “squirrel! squirrel! omg, squirrel! must get the squirrel!” Technicolor whine of madness.)

She has since made her peace with the set in the daylight — thank god, for us and the neighbors (whom I like, despite their lapses in taste) — but she still occasionally gives it the stink eye when she sees it from the corner of her eye and momentarily mistakes it for a threatening intruder.

I think my dog may be a French Huguenot (well, she *is* a Brittany). Either that or she just has good taste.

*With no kids and no old people this Thanksgiving, we chucked the whole turkey tradition. Who wants turkey when you can have pork??


That’s Pippi running with a friend at “dog camp” while Bullock and I were in Paris last month. Our trainer/boarder took this picture and others, and gave them to us in an envelope on which was written, “What I did on my vacation…” Vacation is right! Doesn’t Pippi look like she’s having fun? Lisa, her trainer/boarder, has a 5-acre lot of land and the dog run is at least a full acre. I don’t know the other dog, but in all the pictures s/he was either with Pippi or on her way over to Pippi. Clearly they made fast friends! And I have to say — what a good idea to take pictures, especially for those of us who were boarding our furry family member for the first time!

Pippi’s not the only department dog who goes to Camp Lisa, as we call it. We learned about it from our friend Victoria, and the department secretary — whom I shall call Wonder Woman — has also trained and boarded her dog there. It’s a popular place — with good reason.

Anyway, I offer this in lieu of a substantive posting, which I hope will return soon!

>Weekend fluffy cuteness

>Because Bardiac requested it and because I haven’t posted since Monday and wanted to put *something* up, here’s the best picture Bullock’s taken of Pippi so far. If you’re a digital photo freak and have your monitor calibrated for truest color, then this picture is the closest we’ve come to capturing Miss Pip’s true color on digital film (although my amateur attempt that now resides permanently in the sidebar isn’t bad). But what I like best about this picture is that he caught her in ears-up attentive mode — I *love* it when she does that.

Bask in her cuteness!

As always, click to “enbiggen” if you wish to see her cuteness up close and personal.

>The killer among us

>Pippi has killed more than one baby robin since moving in with us in March. There’s a pair of nesting robins in our maple in the back yard who don’t seem to get it that if they want offspring, they really should change address.

But today, for the first time, I had to pry a baby robin from Pippi’s mouth. Ew.

Here’s what happened: I heard Pippi whining down in the family room, and realized she hadn’t been out in a while, so I let her out. She made a bee-line for something, but I couldn’t see what. Then two adult robins started dive-bombing her. She retreated and at that point I couldn’t see anything in her mouth, nor, after looking around, any sign of a baby in our yard. But I must have missed it, because after another dash to the particular part of the yard where the adult birds were chirping madly, Pippi came back triumphantly with the baby in her mouth. Then, like a good bird dog, she dropped it at my feet.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that we’re correct in our theory that Pippi first belonged to irresponsible hunters who didn’t tag her or look for her when she somehow got lost.

Anyway, this is where I screwed up. I praised her for dropping it, but then noticed that the poor thing was still moving. Shit, I thought, I’ve got to put it out of its misery. And since she dropped it at the back door and seemed to want to go inside (which might have also meant that she’d scoop it up on the way inside), I needed to figure out how to get her in without her bringing the bird in.

Pippi must have taken my dithering as a sign that the bird was hers — or else she wanted to play “tug” and “fetch” with it — because she scooped it up, pranced away, and them came back to me, pleased as punch, but without dropping it again. She kept nosing me with the bird in her mouth (ew!) and then sitting in her alert, waiting-for-a-command/treat/reward kind of way. Maybe she was waiting for me to say “OK,” which means she can eat it. But instead I kept saying “Drop it! No, Pippi, drop it!” and dancing away from her. This confused her, so she started to gnaw gingerly on the thing, but still kept approaching me with it. And every time she did, she seemed to gulp the thing further into her mouth, so that now all that was showing was a leg and the little head.

So I did what I did when I need to get a broken beef bone out of her mouth: I tried to pry her mouth open while saying “drop it!” But I don’t mind touching gnawed beef bones; half dead or, by now, dead baby birds are another thing. So I wasn’t getting my fingers in the back of her mouth, where it’s most effective. At any rate, after some wrestling with her over it, Pippi gave up and dropped it in the driveway, away from the back door. All of this was going on, by the way, while two screeching adult robins were dive-bombing us both. I praised her — though probably, at this point, in a somewhat hysterical voice — and commanded her inside.

I gave her a Greenie, which probably rewarded her for behavior I *don’t* want, but I saw it as a) rewarding her for dropping it and coming inside on command, and b) cleaning her mouth, which was now full of bird guts and feathers — ew!! This also calmed her down somewhat and gave me the opportunity to go clean up the slaughter while she stayed inside.

It was indeed a slaughter now. Having given up on my wanting the thing when I didn’t scoop it up the first time, Pippi stopped being the soft-mouthed bird dog who’s supposed to give you a whole and unmarred bird and really dug into the poor thing. Blood and guts were everywhere. Well, at least it was now dead and not half-alive and suffering.

I really hope the robins get a clue and move their nest!

>Costco muffins are dog crack

>What the frak are they putting in those Costco muffins? Whatever it is, Pippi finds it abso-frakin-lutely irresistible.

Now that may not seem all that unusual, but you have to understand that Pippi is probably the best-behaved dog ever when it comes to food impulses and behavior: she doesn’t beg and under normal circumstances doesn’t counter-surf. I can sit on the couch and eat over my lap something as seemingly irresistible as a salmon burger, and she’ll lie politely at her end of the couch without so much as sniffing my way. (And believe me, she absolutely loves salmon.) We can even set our dishes down on the coffee table, with food on them, and she won’t disturb them. She sits to receive her own food and won’t eat unless she has sat and then been told “OK.” (We get some of the credit for this, but I think we lucked out in terms of her eager-to-please and quick-to-learn personality.)

But when it comes to the Costco muffins, we have to guard them with our lives. Her one instance of counter-surfing came in the first weeks we had her and involved a lemon-poppy seed muffin which she managed to get out of the still partially plastic-covered tray and then devoured in seconds. And then last night, Bullock left the mere wrapper from his just eaten blueberry muffin on his plate on the coffee table, and the second we got up from the couch, she snatched it from the plate. I had to pry her mouth open to fish it out. (We haven’t worked on “drop it” yet, though I was repeating the phrase as I forced her mouth open, hoping she’d start to pick it up.) Thank god she’s a gentle soul who lets me pry around in her mouth like that.

Seriously, what’s in those things? Why does Pippi have such an uncontrollable impulse for them? It’s a little troubling!

>Designer dog

>In the comments to the post below, Karl suggested that if I redesign the blog, then I might want to consider making Pippi part of the design element. Hm. There’s a thought. In fact, maybe I should design the colors to match her. After all, she already matches my home decor:

No, I didn’t get a Brittany to coordinate with my decor. Honest, I didn’t. It just happened that way.

>Shhh…K’zoo paper-writing in progress

>I’m having a heckuva time concentrating on shaping my K’zoo paper. I’m now convinced it’s kind of dumb, but perhaps I’ll cycle out of that stage in a day or two. But anyway, the writing process, followed by grading jail starting on Thursday, means that you might not hear much from me this week.

By the way, if you missed, Another Damned Medievalist is the host of the blogger meet-up for this year’s K’zoo, and it was decided to do the same early morning official meet-up as last year, with some unofficial, less rigidly organized go-out-for-drinks meet-ups throughout the conference. Here’s the post where she discussed this.


And because I could use a dose of levity around here…You know how purebred show dogs all have ridiculous long names, starting with the name of the breeder (I think), and then also have a family nickname that may or may not be suggested by the formal name? Well, over the course of the last month and a half, here’s what I’ve decided Pippi’s full name is:

Longstocking’s Pippington Gertrude Cottontail McLovin, called “Pippi”

Ok, back to work I go!

>Dog tired


My two redheads, Bullock and Pippi, having fallen asleep
while watching TV(well, Bullock was watching anyway)

This is how we all feel around here these days. The last two weeks have been utterly exhausting and there’s still more exhausting stuff to come, in addition to the usual end-of-the-semester / getting-ready-for-Kalamazoo craziness. And Bullock and I are particularly exhausted because Pippi has decided she’s a morning dog. A very early morning dog. She wakes us up at 5:30 now. Anyone have any hints for getting a dog to sleep in later?