please don’t eat us, we think we might love you

OK, the dog came yesterday and we kind of fell in love with her. She’s a good dog. Or, at least she’s been a good dog most of the time. There are a few things we’re still working on though.

Monica, as we’d suspected, and hoped, not only brought Princess Peace of Pumpkin Pie (4P) with her to visit us yesterday, but she also brought all of her food and toys, hoping that we’d agree to adopt her. We took her for a few walks with Monica, showed her around the house, got to know her a bit, and ultimately said “Yes” to the idea of being dog owners again. We’d told ourselves that the right dog would eventually come around if we stayed open to the idea and it looks as though she has.

There have only been two incidents thus far that would give us any cause for possible concern. The first involved Eartha, our oldest, and most territorial cat. When they first saw each other I still had 4P on her leash so we were able to avoid an incident. There was just a little barking and hissing as they looked each other over. Later in the evening, once the leash was gone, we weren’t so lucky. 4P lunged, Eartha lashed out with her claws. And a little line of blood sprang up across the top of 4P’s nose as Eartha high-tailed it into the bathroom. 4P, right behind her, caught up and clamped Eartha’s back between her jaws, where she writhed around, hissing and spitting. Linette was screaming, Monica was going for the leash and Eartha was, I believe, excreting something god-awful. It was the kind of smell that would indicate a pool of puss, guts and maggots somewhere, but we couldn’t find a thing. There was blood on 4P and there was saliva all over Eartha. We eventually got them separated.

They haven’t seen each other since. We made the downstairs for dogs and the upstairs for cats. We moved their litter box and their food up from the basement. We put a fence at the bottom of the staircase between the cat floor and the dog floor. We gave each of the cats an individual counseling session. They were, and I think still are, a bit terrified. Both of them, while we were trying to calm them down, would not take their eyes off the door. They were full well expecting the big, new monster to come leaping in at them.

I feel for the cats. Foxie, the elderly dog we’d inherited some time ago was enough for them to deal with. When Foxie came, Nona, our timid, little cat, headed to the basement. She rarely came out over the course of the next six months. And that was because of an elderly dog that had no interest whatsoever in her. Foxie was interested in eating, sleeping, sniffing and being petted. She’d put the rest of the dog stuff behind her years ago.

When Foxie died, it was like in theWizard of Oz when the Wicked Witch of the East was killed by Dorothy’s house. The cats, like the Munchkins, went wild with happiness. They’ve been high ever since. That is, until now. Now they don’t know what to fucking think. It’s like they’ve descended into a lower circle of hell.

It’s like on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where every season they have to face “the worst villain the world has ever seen.” Just when you thought that it couldn’t possibly get any worse, it gets one hundred times worse. So, the cats got rid of the arthritic, cancerous old dog and found it replaced by a creature that’s young, strong, curious and, worst of all, part Pit Bull.

The second thing happened last night. As we didn’t have a crate for her (we’re told that’s the best way to house-train them), we put her in the bathroom for the night. I’m not sure how it happened, but some time over the course of the night she made her way up to the sink and turned on the water full-blast. When I got up to take her out and saw this, I didn’t know what to think. I was impressed at the fact that she could somehow use the sink… without even having thumbs… but I was also mad about the lake that had formed as a result of the overflow and the damage which I’m sure had been done to the floor. (If she can turn a faucet, can’t she probably hold and fire a gun?)

As I stood there and thought about what the appropriate response would be, I saw her head start to peak out from behind the shower curtain. She’d apparently retreated to the tub to sleep, annoyed by the Niagara Falls-like mist that was cloaking the rest of the room.

nemo was his namo
We couldn’t keep Princess Peace of Pumpkin Pie as a name. We knew that. We also knew, however, that anything we picked would have to work not only with the dog, but with Monica, Linette and myself. We consulted our dog books and found that names should preferably be two syllables and end with strong vowel sounds. “Foxie” fit the bill. As did “Penny,” “Ivy,” “Quincy,” “Nico,” and “Nemo.” Those are just a few of the hundreds we rattled off over the course of the night. As we were weren’t making much progress, I thought that maybe I could get on-line here and set up a contest at mm.com. Unfortunately, as Linette’s computer is still fucked up (Chris couldn’t fix it because it seems as though the line is down), I couldn’t download and post a photo, so that’s not going to work. (Maybe if Linette and I ever have a kid, we can let you all vote on his or her name.)

So, after hours of debate, we settled on “Freeda.” Freeda is the name of the last film we saw with Monica, who found the dog, and it seemed appropriate as the artist Frida Kahlo, on whom the film was based, once lived in Detroit. So, there it is. Our new dog is named Freeda.

So, instead of working on other projects today, I am spending quality time bonding with the dog. We just went on our second walk of the day and right now, she’s curled up at my feet on the little piece of carpet that Foxie used to sleep on.

I hope to have photos up soon.

are you my mark maynard?
I heard back from the woman who was wondering if I was her long lost brother. Here’s her note. If you are, by some chance, the Mark Maynard that she is looking for, send me a note and I’ll give you her email address.

ok well he would have known me as aisling wharton. i havent seen him since i was 2 and i am now 14 , a few years ago i believe he used to live in milton keynes and he has a sister called helen and his dads name is john. and he will be in his early 30’s. thats all i really no i used to have a picture but cant find it. thanxs for helping love aisling

I’m not sure what she means by, “he used to live in milton keynes,” but if you have any information, please send me a note.

what color lincoln navigator would jesus drive?
Dave Miller wrote in with a link to the following story. It appears in the December 20 edition of Washington Monthly.

Here are a few clips from the article, in case you’re interested in gathering ammunition for SUV-bashing.

Have you ever wondered why sport utility vehicle drivers seem like such assholes? Surely it’s no coincidence that Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, tours Washington in one of the biggest SUVs on the market, the Cadillac Escalade, or that Jesse Ventura loves the Lincoln Navigator.

Well, according to New York Times reporter Keith Bradsher’s new book, “High and Mighty,” the connection between the two isn’t a coincidence. Unlike any other vehicle before it, the SUV is the car of choice for the nation’s most self-centered people; and the bigger the SUV, the more of a jerk its driver is likely to be.

According to market research conducted by the country’s leading automakers, Bradsher reports, SUV buyers tend to be “insecure and vain. They are frequently nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood. They often lack confidence in their driving skills. Above all, they are apt to be self-centered and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbors and communities. They are more restless, more sybaritic, and less social than most Americans are. They tend to like fine restaurants a lot more than off-road driving, seldom go to church and have limited interest in doing volunteer work to help others.”

I don’t think that’s always the case, but it’s probably true more often than not.

The occupant death rate in SUVs is 6 percent higher than it is for cars — 8 percent higher in the largest SUVs. The main reason is that SUVs carry a high risk of rollover; 62 percent of SUV deaths in 2000 occurred in rollover accidents. SUVs don’t handle well, so drivers can’t respond quickly when the car hits a stretch of uneven pavement or “trips” by scraping a guardrail. Even a small bump in the road is enough to flip an SUV traveling at high speed. On top of that, SUV roofs are not reinforced to protect the occupants against rollover; nor does the government require them to be.

I used to have an SUV and I was reluctant to give it up because I’d believed that it was safer. I still thought that when I traded it in. I’m glad now to see that it’s not the case.

While failing to protect their occupants, SUVs have also made the roads more dangerous for others. The “kill rate,” as Bradsher calls it, for SUVs is simply jaw-dropping. For every one life saved by driving an SUV, five others will be taken. Government researchers have found that a behemoth like the four-ton Chevy Tahoe kills 122 people for every 1 million models on the road; by comparison, the Honda Accord only kills 21. Injuries in SUV-related accidents are likewise more severe.

Part of the reason for the high kill rate is that cars offer very little protection against an SUV hitting them from the side — not because of the weight, but because of the design. When a car is hit from the side by another car, the victim is 6.6 times as likely to die as the aggressor. But if the aggressor is an SUV, the car driver’s relative chance of dying rises to 30 to 1, because the hood of an SUV is so high off the ground. Rather than hitting the reinforced doors of a car with its bumper, an SUV will slam into more vulnerable areas and strike a car driver in the head or chest, where injuries are more life-threatening.

That pisses me off. I don’t care if the death rate is higher for their occupants. That’s their business as far as I’m concerned. I do, however, care if it’s true that other people are more likely to die if they are in an accident with an SUV. There’s no way that a responsible government should allow that to happen.

It’s much different a case than it was with convertibles. There, the vehicle was only unsafe for its drivers and passengers (see Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed). Convertibles were not necessarily any more dangerous otherwise.

If you would like to read the entire article, just click here.

OK, I need to go pet Freeda for a few hours now and try to teach her how to “sit.”

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