Our bulldog, Wonderbutt, is fickle. Like some people you may know, he is always looking for the next best thing – whether it’s a better treat, a squeakier toy, or a more gullible sucker to give him a butt massage. Loyalty to products or people has never been one of Wonderbutt’s strong suits.
Case in point: we’ve only had the dog for two years, but he has slept in more beds than I have my entire life. (I don’t have pictures of Bed #1-3, as Wonderbutt destroyed them early in his Pernicious Puppy Phase.)
In the meantime, our 11-year-old golden retriever, Mrs. Pain in the Butt, has had two beds that I can think of – the carpet and the concrete floor. So, after noticing that the concrete floor has become a bit of challenge for our arthritic dog, the Firepants Family made a trip to Petsmart to hand-select the Perfect Pallet for Mrs. P.I.B.
Twenty minutes after this picture was taken…
And, later that evening:
By the next day, Wonderbutt had a Bedding Command Post. Which did not seem to offend Mrs. P.I.B. in the slightest.
When Wonderbutt becomes famous some day, I expect I will be able to sell his Collection of Cots on eBay with the label, “Wonderbutt Slept Here”…
You know how you’re lying in bed at night chuckling about your bulldog’s latest antics, trying not to wake up your husband, but really wanting to wake him up so you can tell him what happened? And then you start thinking about how mad he would be. And then you start thinking about how stressed he is, especially about his mom who you escorted to a doctor’s appointment today, but how nice it was to just sit and chat by the neighborhood pool with him this evening while Dimples and her friend splashed around. And then you think, “Well, it was nice – until the kid got his head caught in the diving board.” And then you think, “Wow, Being Wedged into Uncomfortable Places must have been my theme for the day.”
Me – Caught Between a Doc and a Hard Place
The day started with Dimples and I taking my mother-in-law to the doctor. I’m not saying it was as bad as getting my head stuck in a diving board, but I don’t even like going to doctor’s appointments for myself – much less for other people. Particularly with an energetic 9-year-old who wants to play word games while I am trying to pay attention to the discomfort of my mother-in-law and to the rapid-fire recommendations from the doctor.
Boy – Caught Between a Dock and a Hard Place
In Part II of my Day of Wedges, the Cap’n and I were sitting at a table near the diving board chatting about Part I. And a family of three kids was goofing off around the board. The brother got up on the board and was kind of prancing toward the end when his foot slipped. He fell off the board in a kind of twisty way onto the concrete, somehow managing to get his head wedged between the railing and the board. And there he sat, with his ears trapped, apparently unable to move. (So, technically, a diving board is not a dock, but I was trying to make the pun work.)
I ran toward the boy, who looked to be about 11, while Cap’n Firepants and the lifeguard were a beat behind. I got to the boy first, but then I realized that this was a race I didn’t need to win because I didn’t really know how to help him. Getting your head wedged between a board and a metal railing was not part of the CPR training that I took when Dimples was an infant. He certainly did not need any kind of resuscitation because he was yelling quite emphatically that his head was stuck and that he couldn’t move it. His mouth was moving fine, though.
About 10 seconds after we all stood around trying to figure out what the heck to do, the boy unstuck himself. Ears still intact. Another lifeguard had already called his mom, and she was there in minutes. And I’m pretty sure he lived.
Wonderbutt – Caught Between a Dog and His Resting Place
Later that evening, I was watching late-night television while Wonderbutt snoozed on his new Wonderbutt bed at my feet. Suddenly, he stretched, rolled over onto his back, and tumbled to the floor. I gasped, but he didn’t even wake up. He just lay there, snoring, stretched out on his back, firmly wedged between his bed and the butt of our golden retriever, Mrs. P.I.B. A couple of times, he half-heartedly tried to turn over or roll back on his stomach in his sleep, waving his stubby little legs around – but he was too thoroughly entrenched between the bed and the butt.
It was one of those moments when you desperately wish that your actual eyeballs were video cameras. Or, that at least someone else was there to witness this. But the only witness was Mrs. P.I.B. and, as with most things involving Wonderbutt, she was not amused.
Hence, the awful picture taken with my iPad in very little light.
And so endeth the Day of Wedges.
Why do we put up with the Willful Ways of Wonderbutt? I often ask myself that question. Particularly at moments like this:
Wonderbutt is certainly not the only one in the household who behaves strangely. Perhaps you have lived with pets that do not suffer from any sort of psychological disturbances. I have never had that pleasure. It’s entirely possible that I am the reason for each one’s idiosyncrasies. So, I partly suffer their insanity out of guilt. But, I have to say that, 99% of the time they give me joy. And that makes it all worthwhile. And makes me both remorseful and greedy.
Today, I arrived home to one dog – Wonderbutt. I am normally greeted by two. My first thought was that Cap’n Firepants might have accidentally locked Mrs. P.I.B. outside this morning when he left for work. My second thought, which was probably a bit unfair to Wonderbutt, was that our overly boisterous bulldog had given our sweet 11 year old Golden Retriever a heart-attack.
But Wonderbutt, the Tattle No-Tail, quickly led me to the hallway, where I found this:
It briefly stormed today, inspiring Mrs. P.I.B. to storm the gate to the Forbidden Section. Although brave enough to leap over it once, Mrs. P.I.B.’s fear of repeating such a hazardous undertaking trapped her in the hallway.
Since we had prudently closed all hallway doors this morning, knowing there was a chance of rain, Wonderbutt saw no benefit in taking the risk, himself, and, in an unusual turn of events, became the Good Dog.
Mrs. P.I.B. panted exaggeratedly on the other side of the gate, despite the fact that the storm had passed long before and there was absolutely no threat to her well-being other than herself.
I took pity, and moved the gate, allowing Wonderbutt to barrel through to the Forbidden Section while Mrs. P.I.B. jumped over him to get out. On the other side, she seemed to reconsider this decision, particularly when she saw how delighted Wonderbutt was to replace her.
I set the gate aside, and allowed them to both romp beside me while I made my way to the computer. As soon as I was seated, Wonderbutt plopped down on the floor beside me, and Mrs. P.I.B. curled up in the hall. They both put their heads down and went to sleep.
When you realize that you have the power to bring contentment to two living beings with your mere presence, it gives you a certain sense of worth. And, believe it or not, that is far more valuable than a smelly old couch with lumpy cushions.
I guess we will find out in about another month how it compares to a brand new couch and a husband who is nearing the end of his tether…
Well, we all knew that it had to happen eventually. Life caught up with me, and I ran out of time to create a
hastily cleverly composed post for today. So I am going to bore entertain you with a few pics of Wonderbutt as a puppy that I just found.
And Wonderbutt now (well, in February at about 17 months old):
I’ll be back tomorrow with more finely crafted features from the Firepants Family!
Dimples and I came home to this on Friday:
It took us a moment to identify Wonderbutt’s new toy. He proudly led us to the remains of the toy and its companions.
In case you have not figured it out by now, it was originally a collection of Easter Bunny straws that Dimples had washed had laid out on the counter on a paper towel to dry. It had been there for two days before Wonderbutt decided that the straws were meant for him. Because that’s why we put things on the counter, you know. To keep him entertained while we are gone.
I did try to get a holiday photo that would be a bit more appropriate.
It won’t surprise you that Wonderbutt would not cooperate.
That dog is determined to dismantle society as we know it – one calendar page at a time.
One of my favorite bloggers, Kay at Blue Speckled Pup, decided to participate in the Biggest Liar Challenge; I was interested to see that one of the possible lies was that she had trained her dog to ring bells at the back door whenever he needed to go out. Whether or not this is a true statement, I believe that it is further confirmation that she and I have a weird psychic connection. The following is a true “tail” of Mrs. P.I.B.’s house-training experience.
When she was a puppy, Mrs. P.I.B. was pretty easily house-trained. The only problem was that I was really the one who was trained. I would take her out almost every hour to ensure that she did not have any accidents, and watch her closely for any signs of discomfort. (This was during the summer. Summers, as you know, are when teachers sit around on their tuckuses eating bonbons, so I had plenty of time to devote to my Human Obedience classes.)
I soon tired of this method, but I couldn’t figure out a way to teach her to let us know when she needed to go out. Part of the problem was that we had a 2-story house at the time, and she was not allowed upstairs where our office was. There was no way that we could think of for her to signal to us that she needed to go out if we were on the second floor.
I jokingly stated that she needed a bell to ring whenever she needed to go out, and my father-in-law laughed at the thought. The next time he came to the house, though, he brought me a rope of three cow-bells to tie to the door. I took that as a personal challenge. This was long before the days of The Dog Whisperer, so I was pretty confident that I was the best dog expert I knew.
Mrs. P.I.B. is pretty smart. It didn’t take her long to learn to ring the bells when she needed to go out. She would sit by the back door, and smack her paw on the bells to notify us she was ready. Within a couple of days, the system had been perfected. I was pretty proud of my superior dog-training skills.
After about a week, I was upstairs working in the office one day, and heard the bells. I went downstairs to let Mrs. P.I.B. out, but she didn’t “do” anything. I chalked it off as a false alarm, and we both returned inside. Back upstairs for me. Five minutes later, the bells rang again. My new lesson began to sink in. Sure enough, I wandered back downstairs, took Mrs. P.I.B. out, and she once again seemed to have no interest in “doing her business.”
The third time, I leaned over the rail upstairs, and shouted, “No!” The bells went silent. That was the end of the false alarms – that day. Just call me The Dog Shouter.
The next day, I happened to be upstairs when the phone rang. I answered, and started chatting with a friend of mine.
“Brnnng!” went the bells. I was pretty certain Little Mrs. P.I.B. did not need to go out because she had just gone before I went upstairs. I ignored her. “Brnng!” She slammed her paw against the bells, banging them against the door. I leaned over the rail. “Brnng!!!” Even louder. Then, out of the kitchen came Mrs. P.I.B., and she looked up at me. Not wanting to yell, “No!” while my friend was in the middle of a sentence, I just shook my head at the dog. She tensed, then raced back to the kitchen, banged on the bells again, and raced back out to see my reaction.
I had a quick flashback to my childhood days when my mother would be on the phone, and swat at me like a fly whenever I tried to interrupt.
It was quite clear that Mrs. P.I.B. was more interested in my undivided attention than going outside. I walked calmly down the stairs, still on the phone, yanked the bell rope off of the doorknob, and dumped the kit and caboodle in the hall closet. I glared at Mrs. P.I.B., and went back upstairs to continue my conversation.
That was the end of the bell experiment. To my credit, Mrs. P.I.B. has been perfectly house-trained ever since.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I never even attempted this technique with Wonderbutt.
And that one of us still needs some remediation in the house-training area.
Some might wonder how, with a dog like Wonderbutt, our saintly Golden Retriever could have been saddled with a nickname like Mrs. Pain in the Butt.
After all, she is the Lady to Wonderbutt’s Tramp, right?
Looks can be deceiving.
Mrs. P.I.B. has quite a few habits that have helped her to earn her nickname, despite her well-mannered appearance.
I alluded to one of them in yesterday’s post regarding my super duper cooking skills and the involvement of a smoke alarm.
The pacing and panting and major freak-out are not infrequent reactions on the part of Mrs. P.I.B.
I do have some sympathy, however, because I’m pretty sure her anxiety is all my fault.
Years ago, long before Wonderbutt, and months before the Smoke Alarm Incident, Mrs. P.I.B. was fairly well-adjusted. One night, we went to bed as normal, only to be woken several times by a whining dog outside our door. Mrs. P.I.B. does not sleep in our bedroom normally because she makes all kinds of noise while she is sleeping – from smacking her lips loudly to whining while she chases squirrels in her dreams.
When we opened the door that night, she was frantic, and tried to sweep past us into the room, but we wouldn’t let her, thinking it would set a precedent that we would have a hard time breaking.
It was not a fun night.
The next morning, I got up early, and went out to the kitchen to deal with our panic-stricken dog. As I neared the kitchen, I heard a beeping sound. I finally tracked it down to my cell phone. Apparently, the battery had died. It wasn’t completely dead, though. It emitted its pre-flatline regular beep all night, which would probably be considered a particularly cruel form of torture for canines with sensitive ears. As soon as I plugged the phone in to recharge, silencing the beep, Mrs. P.I.B. noticeably calmed down. The mystery was solved.
But the fun was just beginning. Starting with that incident, Mrs. P.I.B. became a nervous wreck whenever something beeped. We were more conscientious about keeping our phones charged. But, then we had a couple of thunderstorms that caused the electricity to go out, causing the various electronics to beep. After that, Mrs. P.I.B. became deathly afraid of thunderstorms. There doesn’t even have to be a beep anymore. Now, as soon as the wind begins to signal an oncoming storm, Mrs. P.I.B. begins to cling to our heels.
I was watching the Friends episode the other night when Phoebe’s smoke alarm won’t die even after she: removes the battery, beats it with a hammer, and throws it down the garbage chute (hilarious episode, I highly recommend it!). Mrs. P.I.B. ran into the room at the first screech of the smoke alarm on T.V. She looked at me as though I were crazy to allow this to continue, couldn’t I hear that blasted sound? I finally had to change the channel because I was afraid the dog would expire before the alarm did.
So, all of you Mrs. P.I.B. fans out there, let me assure you that she comes by her nickname honestly. She’s got some other bad habits, too. But a Lady has to have some secrets.
Nervous wreck of a dog that she is, she’s still just as lovable as Wonderbutt.
I don’t know how I missed this, but there is apparently one reality show I should have applied for last year.
Frankly, I am shocked that the casting directors did not come and hunt me down for this one.
If there is anything I excel at, it’s this: Worst Cooks in America.
I read about it in the paper, and was immediately insulted that I had not been chosen for this series. I raced to the computer to look up the website to find out more about the participants. As I scanned the members of the teams, I became pretty confident that you couldn’t find a better worst cook than me. Except for the lady who put her husband in the hospital with food poisoning. She might give me some competition. On the other hand, the only reason I haven’t added that misfortune to my resume could be because I have a smarter husband.
When I met my future husband, Cap’n Firepants, I was living off Ramen Noodle and Diet Coke. I was a little intimidated by the fact that his mother was a nutritionist. And, in the elder Firepants household, meals were a big deal. BIG, BIG Deal. Like slave half the morning in the kitchen over making lunch, then half the afternoon in the kitchen cleaning up lunch, then the other half of the afternoon making dinner, then the – well, you see where this is going.
I consoled myself with the knowledge that, at least the Cap’n knew how to cook.
I did try when we got married. Got lots of recipe books, mostly bestowed upon me by in-laws. Got subscriptions to Taste of Home and Southern Living – also, now that I think about it, gifted to me by the in-laws. Hmm. How did I not pick up on those subtle hints?
The true testament to my ineptitude in the kitchen was initiated by an incident in which I decided to pre-heat the oven, not realizing that something had dripped on the bottom during my last use. Apparently, a lot of something. I turned the dial, and left the room. Minutes later, the smoke alarm went off. I ran into the kitchen, and there was smoke everywhere. Our Golden Retriever, Mrs. P.I.B., who was only a year or two old, freaked out, racing around the room frantically panting while I shut off the oven, opened doors and windows, and grabbed a broom to beat the smoke away from the smoke alarm.
Yep, I hadn’t even started cooking anything that evening, technically, and still managed to almost kill us.
Here’s the kicker, though. From then on, anytime I turned on a burner or the oven in the kitchen, Mrs. P.I.B. would back out of the room, tail between her legs, and hysterically pace near the front door the entire time I occupied the kitchen.
You know you’re a bad cook when even your dog won’t come in the kitchen if you’re anywhere near the stove.