The Pet of a Lifetime: I’ve Had One…Have You?

Since it was National Dog Day this week, I’m celebrating the pet who rocked my lifetime. Have you had one of those? The kind of pet who’s a member of the family, and who is mourned long after they’re gone?

Hoshi was everything a dog should be: loyal, loving, sweet-tempered, funny. She totally laughed at my jokes and she was around for all my big “life milestones.”

And then one day, 17 days after my daughter was born, Hoshi let me know it was time to go. There are so many up sides to pet ownership, but the biggest downside in my opinion is their short life span.

They will always go before we do. Dammit.

Hoshi lived a stupendously long life for a 90 pound dog; she was fourteen-and-a-half years old when she left to frolic in that Puppy Lake in the Sky.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a loved one, animal or human. The memories, and the lessons you learned from them, are what help you get through it.

Here’s the Top 10 lessons my Hoshi-Moshi taught me.

(Now everyone go hug your pets!)

1)      50 New Smells A Day

It’s said that dogs need to get fifty new smells a day to stay psychologically alert and happy.  Those daily walks are your dog’s version of reading the paper. I KNOW they’re sniffing every bush, light pole and dog bootie on the block but in reality what they’re doing is “filling the well.” You need to do it too (the well-filling, not the sniffing).

2)      Pay Attention

Take notice of the people, places and things in your life that fill your writing well. With the plethora of daily tasks on all our to-do lists, especially this time of year, it’s easy to let the small simple gifts in our world pass through unnoticed.

3)      Treats Help Everything

One of my dearest friends has tons of pets and, according to her, “any one of her dogs would step over her bloody carcass for one bite of kibble.” (If you have dogs like hers, you might want to skip to #4.)

I’m not suggesting that you allow either you or your pet to get too fluffy in the backside but the world is better with steady rewards of coffee, chocolate, wine, cake or whatever treat that says, “Well done!” to you.

4)      Smile and Wag

What happens when your dog bounds across the room with a smile and a wag of his or her tail and slides under your hand? You pet them, and coo over them, AND YOU SMILE. It’s hard to resist your pet when they’re sweet.

Try to remember this concept. You’ll know when you need it by the way your family rolls their eyes.

5)      Find the best professionals (and trust them)

When Hoshi turned eight, she began to get creaky with arthritis. Akita lifespans average about 10 years so I started getting mentally prepared (though, let’s face it, you never are).

My girlfriend, Mary, who’s a dog trainer, heard my concerns and sent me to Dr. Voll. A few visits with this wonderful vet and Hoshi was a whole new girl. Certainly, we did our part, but Dr. Voll took care of Hoshi for almost seven years and went well above the call of duty. Whenever the inevitable ups and downs of a senior dog would occur, I’d worry that it might be time to let my sweet baby dog go.  On one of those bad days, Dr. Voll looked me in the eye and said, “Stop crying! I’ll tell you when it’s time.”

And she did.

6)      Love Without Conditions

I don’t have to explain this one to any pet owners. Dogs don’t see disabilities, disfigurement, neuroses or any of the other things that tend to squeeze the human brain down the narrow path of judgment. Animals manage to see inside your heart and make their decisions from there.

You’ve heard the saying, “I want to be the person my dog thinks I am,” right? Enough said.

7)      Bring Your “A” Game

It’s not in a dog’s nature to give 50%, at least it wasn’t in Hoshi’s. She traveled the entire West Coast, San Diego to Seattle, and explored every dog beach and mountain range with the same focused zeal.

I’m a software trainer by day and, after September 11th the training projects in Southern California dried up. In 2002, if I wanted work, the dog and I had to hit the road.  We traveled throughout the state, stopping at every available doggie day care along the way. Whether it was Elaine’s Pet Resorts in Fresno or Fog City Doggie Day Care in San Francisco, that dog brought her A-Game. In turn, these places delighted in her visits and always made room for her even when they were full.

8)      Invest In Training

One of my ex-boyfriends owned Hoshi’s parents – she and her four litter mates were literally born into my hands.

Unfortunately, this guy went to the “Well, they mind ME” school of training. This wasn’t so bad with Hoshi’s sire, who had an even temperament, but her mother was a really bad dog and it became a dicey business to have anyone in our house. I began training all five puppies, almost before their eyes opened, in an attempt to counteract the unruly bitchiness of their mother. This kind of rigorous training opened a lot of doors for Hoshi.

The money and time you put into learning will always be worth it.

9)      Service Makes You Feel Good

One of the happiest dogs I know is a Corgi named Boris. His owner, Monique is extremely disabled and gets around mostly by scooter. Mary (the dog trainer from #5 above) has taught Boris to fetch Monique’s keys, her shoes, the paper, and a myriad of other items. Like every pet, Boris thinks his owner is a rock star – he lives to serve Monique and nothing makes him happier than making her happy.

I’m not suggesting that you throw yourself on the altar of someone else’s happiness but I am recommending that you give back. You’ll know your service opportunity when you see it if you’re on the lookout.

10)   Leave People Smiling

Like I said, during my second week home after having my daughter, Hoshi let me know it was her time to go. She’d limped along health-wise through my high-risk pregnancy. I really thought she’d miss the birth but she rallied.

Dr. Voll came when I called her and agreed that it was “time,” though she said I could take a few days.

I contacted all of Hoshi’s friends and opened the house for anyone who wanted to visit. We gave her every treat we had, plus people brought her scads of contraband food. Things like McDonald’s cheeseburgers that give a dog pancreatitis were on the menu that week (though I definitely got the “where has this been all my life” look).

On the big day, Dr. Voll came to the door and we sent our daughter out with a friend for a long walk so we could focus on Hoshi. She polished off the rest of a cheeseburger and moved on to the Honeybaked ham, smiling and wagging all the way.

When the medicine was administered, she never knew it.  I’ve repeatedly thought ‘we should all be so lucky.’

Hoshi was my first “baby girl” and I feel blessed to have learned from her.

Now it’s your turn to celebrate your fur babies in the comments.

International Business Times shows their picks for “the Top 5 Dog Stories of the Year.”

Do you have pets? What lessons have they taught you? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

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Robin Williams: A Mind Like a Tornado

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am missing the hell out of Robin Williams. It’s been two weeks, and I still can’t believe he’s gone.

For years, I’ve watched his movies and his old comedy specials, like I was visiting an old friend. Cracking up at him as Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam, or weeping (with both sadness and laughter) at his portrayal of Parry in The Fisher King. To know that he will never create again makes the world feel a little strange.

TIME put up a video of Williams explaining how he does such top-speed improv. I’ve decided his mind is like a tornado, sucking in everything in his path. And sometimes those things end up miles away. This 9 minutes shows it well. Plus, you’ll laugh. I promise.

In More Cowbell lingo, Williams was a man who “really used his studio space.”

What is your favorite show, movie, special memory of Robin Williams? Are you mourning like I am? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

Update on the “Dog Hip“:
As most of you know, I had hip surgery on June 19th. It wasn’t a hip replacement. It was a labral tear repair and re-attachment, with a complete reshaping of the femoral head and neck. I just tell people who ask that “I had my hip rebuilt.” 

From my perspective it has been a very slow healing process. The intense pain for this injury started back in Feb/March, so there are many, many loose threads for me to tidy up. I’m just now starting to catch up a little, get out my thank you’s, and dive full-tilt back into my work and writing. I got the word last week that I have six weeks of physical therapy left (yes, I whimpered), so there is an end in sight. 

Thank you to all of you who have cheered me through this process. Truly, you can’t know how much you helped with your texts, calls, FB updates, and gifts. I appreciate every one of you. 60 hours a month of rehab is like having a third job. Thanks for your patience while my posting schedule is so scattered.

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If Men Had To Wear Lady SPANX [Video]

As a follow-up to the hilarious Kanga/Undie-roos, the undie-verse keeps putting these sorts of unusual (and thematic) items in my path. This video came from our own Perilous Pauline Baird Jones and had me shaking with laughter.

Of course, it all started with the guys wanting to be tougher than the lady on the cover of the SPANX package “who looks like she could kick my a$$.” Personally, I’d love for someone to make a similar video showing women the first time they try on football pads or, um…Jog Straps.

Note: We’re an equal opportunity shop for undergarment discomfort.

Have you ever seen SPANX? Who introduced them to you? Would any of you guys wear them? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

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The Cutest Undie Picture EVER…

Elayne Boosler posted this to Facebook and I am madly in love. Just look at that sweet little guy!

The Undie Chronicles

Her caption:

Kangaroo Joey was rescued from a forest fire. He’s learning to hop, hunt, and color co-ordinate his underwear.

Oh my God, the sweetness… I had to share!

As soon as they’re done torturing me so many hours each week in PT, I’ll get back to a more normal schedule here at More Cowbell. But enquiring minds want to know…what’s new with you?

~ Jenny

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Undie Chronicles, Volume 24: The Jog Strap

Those of you who are new to More Cowbell might have missed The Undie Chronicles. The regular posse here knows: When the Undie-verse speaks, we will always listenI had no idea when this began that there were so many hilarious undie-based topics to discuss.

I’ve been sitting on this Jog Strap thing for a while, if you know what I mean. Y’all know I had hip surgery in June, and I was laying too low to really trot out this strappy bundle-of-love in style.

I’m telling you, running would reach a whole new level of entertainment if the Jog Strap were a real product. Heck, I might actually run, if these were part of the standard attire. Please, Jockey, will you make these?!  Pleeeaaaassssssse!

Technically, this is an over-gizmo rather than an undie, but I do believe Jockey could burst forth with this and send sales soaring, either over or under the clothes. They haven’t picked it up (YET), so maybe they feel it’s more of a Banana Republic item…

Because the universe loves us (and NBC aired this), we’ve got video, people!

Jog Strap was brought to us by Dan Opsal, the same genius who wrote the #Hashtag skit performed by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. (Don’t say I didn’t deliver a smile on this fine Monday…)

I’ll be around later this week with a Dog Hip update and some major thank you’s for all of you that helped make my rehab a fun thing. All I have to say is: The More Cowbell posse rocks!

Would you wear the Jog Strap during your exercise regimen? What would we call the female equivalent? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

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Did You Shake Your Booty for National Underwear Day?

I’m usually completely on top of National Underwear Dayif you know what I mean, but I am running madly behind this week. If you forgot to sling around some drawers, or streak through your neck of the woods, let this serve as a reminder to you!

Those of you who are new to More Cowbell might have missed The Undie Chronicles. The regular posse here knows: When the Undie-verse speaks, we will always listen.

We’ve highlighted everything from Christian Panties to Thunderwear here at More Cowbell. In fact, if it can be worn under your clothes, it’s a pretty safe bet we’ve covered it. My own two favorite Undie posts are linked below.

Warning: y’all might need to scrub your eyeballs after viewing.

Man-Undies_Snake_Front

Fave #1: Man-Style Goes to the Zoo
(honoring Dr. Seuss)

Excerpt:

I would not, could not booty-shake
if faced with that red knitted snake.
Not in the box with a cunning fox
or in the air with the “safe sex” pair.

They do not flip my “sexy” switch.
They mostly make my eyeballs twitch.

I was on a roll that day, for sure.

Fave #2What Your Panties Say About Your Politics (co-brainstormed with Julie Glover)

Me: I’m convinced that the parsimony of material in the thong panty makes them Republican panties. Really, it’s the whole “less is more” thing.

Julie: I thought Sister Myotis calls them “Democrat Panties.”

Me: Well, she does. But I think the cotton kind that give you a lot more coverage are the Democrat Panties. I kind of go between those and Libertarian Panties myself.

Julie: Less is more? Commando?

Me: *snort*

Example of Democrat Panties... Photo by By Iflwlou拍攝 (Own work) ~ Wikimedia Commons

Example of Democrat Panties… Photo by By Iflwlou拍攝 ~ Wikimedia Commons

Did you forget all about National Underwear Day too, or were you out there buying cool underpants, advertising your cash and prizes? Which political party does your fave pair of undies represent? (p.s. You might have to read that post to answer accurately, you’ll be surprised.) Finally, do we have any New York City peeps who got out to the Fresh Pair Event? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

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Funeral Planning in a Crazy Family Is…Different

That's my mama in between the Bag Whore and I...

That’s my mama in between the Bag Whore and I…

I’ve got my mama on my mind and, in honor of her and Jane Sadek, I had to put up this post. All of you who think I’m funny? I got it from my mama, who was way funnier.

A quick run-down about my mom, who passed away at age 65 back in January of 2004…

  • 3 words to describe her: compassionate, generous, irreverent. (Read: AWESOME)
  • My baking and gardening skills come from her.
  • She was a tall woman (6’1″) and the first female to letter in 5 sports at her high school.
  • A nurse for 43 years, she spent much of that time in Oncology.
  • Maxine cartoons remind us all of her…in our family she was known as “the Queen of the One-Liner.”

My mama was a stitch.

The night she died, we all quibbled over her Xanax stash, knowing we’d need it to get some sleep before doing all the work death involves. Any of you who’ve done this know there’s a million important details to get through when someone passes away.

My brother (the Bag Whore) and I had lots of help but some of the duties just naturally fell to us. We put my mom’s purse off for a day or so, but the time came to sort through it.

When we got to her wallet, we found all these slips of paper with beautiful quotes on friendship. Of course, I cried, so my brother patted me and kept going through all the other stuff she had tucked in there.

All of a sudden, he elbows me and says, “Sis…check this out,” and hands me a stack of bright orange cards.

“What is it?” I sniffled, not reaching to take them.

“Just read it!”

I grabbed them, looked down, and burst out laughing (language alert here). In huge bold letters, they said:

If you fuck like you park,
you’ll never get it in.

“Oh my Jesus. She has a whole stash of these things?”

“Obviously she’s putting these on people’s cars when they piss her off.” My brother snatched them back. “I could use these.”

When I spoke to the minister later that day, he asked if I’d made decisions about what to include in my mom’s service.

I was telling him about the beautiful messages we’d found in her wallet when my brother started yelling from down the hall. “Are you going to tell him what ELSE you found in her wallet??!”

I covered the phone and yelled back. “No I’m not telling him! Are you crazy?”

I ignored all the choice comments from my Bag Whore brother and got back on the phone with the minister, apologizing for how loud my brother was.

His first words were, “So, you’re not going to tell me??”

I blushed so hard, I thought I’d faint. “I’d rather not. There’s cursing involved.”

“Oh, come on… Your mom was a spicy lady. I’d love to hear.”

Obviously he missed her as much as we did, so I told him and he busted a gut laughing.

My aunts were horrified when I relayed the conversation. At the same time, they both wailed, “YOU TOLD THE MINISTER??!”

They all live in a fairly small town in mid-Missouri so I apologized and promised to mind my manners from there on out.

Then we got to the funeral parlor…

Like most of the big events in my family, we all showed up to offer support. I had aunts, uncles and cousins sitting alongside my brother and I. Plus, my mom’s best friend was there. We’d just gathered for my grandmother’s service the prior year, so we assumed the place was used to the likes of us.

Obviously, the previous funeral director hadn’t shared with the new guy that we travel in packs during times of need. He looked at all 14 of us and said he’d be back with more chairs.

Once we were all seated in a circle, with my brother and I on either side of Mr. Funeral Director, we hashed out the service (which involves a lot of people “shouting it out” when they think of it).

When we got to the end, I said, “I know it might sound kind of morbid, but if any of you would like some of her ashes, you may have them.”

My cousin, Aaron (who was an irrepressible 30 year old at the time), asked, “So how many ashes are we talking about?”

Mr. Funeral Man looked like he’d swallowed a toad. “Um…well. Uh, they come in plastic bag inside a hard plastic case about this big by this big.” And he moved his hands to demonstrate a 10 x 14 x 4 inch bag.

My brother reared back, looking completely offended. “That’s it? That’s all we get?! She was a BIG GIRL!

The room went completely silent.
The funeral director’s mouth opened and closed like a guppy.
Then the snickers started…

They spread around the room until we were all laughing so hard we couldn’t stop.

My uncle (who’d been in the restroom) came flying into the room. “You guys need to CUT IT OUT. There’s people crying and grieving out there and you’re in here laughing and carrying on.”

He turned to the funeral director and shook his hand. “Thank you for your time. We need to go.” He sent the lot of us a stern look that promised we’d be sorry if we didn’t STOP LAUGHING.

I swear, we tried. We just couldn’t stop.

We stumbled out of the funeral home, clutching our sides and gasping for breath, running for our cars so we could collapse in private. Then we all toddled off to lunch at my mom’s favorite burger joint and laughed some more.

Here’s what I know, all these years later: My mother watched us giggle our way through most of her funeral arrangements and, wherever she was, she LOVED it. I wouldn’t go back and change any of it.

Well, except for keeping her here so she could make me laugh that hard in person.

Do you guys have funerals like ours, or are you a bit more dignified? I’m looking for some family stories in the comments! Enquiring minds always  want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

Jenny

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