I Should Never Touch Technology

Remember a month or two ago when all the news broadcasts and websites were telling us some hackers were accessing private data via our wireless routers? They told us to NO-TIVO-269x300reboot our routers immediately or disaster would ensue. Failure to do so would result in thieves stealing our passwords and banking information, making the contents of our fridges go bad, and reprogramming our brains to believe trees are invisible and bees are a beverage.

Rebooting the router wasn’t hard, so I did that without technical disaster. But my son is a professional tech writer and expert, and he messaged me to ask which router I had. I told him, and I could almost see the message window recoil in horror. I was still using the router he’d installed for us several years ago, and (apparently) that model was especially vulnerable to hacking shenanigans.

Fortunately for me, as a result of his job, he literally has drawers full of phones and routers and tablets and all manner of tech gizmos. He informed me he was sending me a better, newer, more secure router immediately, which he did.

A couple of weeks later, he messaged to ask if I’d installed the new router. I had not. Why? Because I knew, deep in my slightly Luddite bones, that I’d manage to fuck it up. He’d sent me the link to the app I needed to set it up quickly and easily…but I knew better.

Now, about ten days after his “you really need to install that” message, I decided I’d better do it, because not much stings more than weary disapproval from a guy whose diapers you changed for two years.

The first obstacle was the massive Gordian knot of cords and cables behind the TV stand in the living room, where the main cable box, modem, and router live. Once I identified which plug went to the modem, I disconnected it. The plug is still under the TV stand, though, because I couldn’t untangle the wire from the rest of the mess without pulling every device, including the TV, off the stand, and I am not in the mood to deal with that shit today.

I plugged in the new router and opened the app on my phone, held it over the router, and that part actually went pretty well. I reset my signal extender in the kitchen, and internet was restored to my laptop. Victory!

I was about to pay for my hubris.

The TV in the living room was fine. But we only use that when we have company that might want to sit on a slightly less dog-fur-infested couch. I spend 99% of my waking hours in the family room, working with the TV on, and later binge-watching streaming video and knitting. And that TV couldn’t find the TiVo box. Neither could the TV in Tom’s lair, where he spends a good portion of his evenings and weekends.

Rackenfrazzle.

I did all the usual stuff. I unplugged and re-plugged. I turned off and on. I went to TiVo Central and tried everything I could in the settings. I reestablished the internet connection…but it still wouldn’t go to TV mode, which is really its only job.

I knew it. I just knew it. Now I was going to have to call Suddenlink, something that tends to make me a stabby, frustrated, vengeful bucket of rage. I went through the automated fixes first, but resetting the modem didn’t do anything, so I repeated “representative” at every prompt until I got a human. As it turns out, a highly unhelpful human.

She seriously had no idea what to do. There was a lot of “Um…yeah…” and “Well…” and “I don’t know…” going on. Without offering even one semi-helpful solution, she said, “Yeah, the TiVo is pretty sensitive. There’s really not anything I can do from here. They like the technicians to do that manually.”

I wondered why they’d “upgraded” us to TiVo from the older but much less shitty cable boxes. I wondered why they’d choose a type of service that was so touchy that simply installing a new router would require a technician visit. I wondered how long it would be before a technician could be dispatched.

I suggested she might like to transfer me to someone (with a brain…bonus points to me for not saying that part out loud) who might have some idea of how to resolve this without a technician coming out. No, that wouldn’t help. So, she scheduled a technician for tomorrow between 4-6 p.m.

Fine. I could watch in the living room today, I guessed. My internet is working, so…yay.

I hung up and started thinking. I used my brain, which is 100% not trained in Suddenlink Technical Support, but is not stupid. And my brain said, “Well, yeah, the TV in the living room, which is connected directly to the main TiVo box (not the two TiVo minis that control the TVs in the family room and Tom’s lair), does work fine. But that main unit is, what, like the brain of the whole set-up, right?” I agreed with my not-stupid brain. “So,” it continued, “even though that TV works, wouldn’t it make sense to maybe unplug and reset the main unit and see what happens?”

That seemed super smart to me, and probably something someone who is paid actual money by the people who installed this equipment to resolve such issues should have suggested.

So, I shuffled back to the living room, unplugged the main TiVo box, plugged it back in, and returned to my natural habitat on the couch in the family room and turned on that TV.

And…it worked perfectly.

I hit redial on my phone and canceled tomorrow’s technician appointment roughly three minutes after I’d made it.

I feel like I should get a job at Suddenlink Tech Support, but I’m pretty sure they’d have to delete at least half my IQ points. If their IQ-deleting system is able to connect to the network, of course.

I lost over an hour from my day, but at least the evening binge-watching shall go on unimpeded.

Mystery of the Missing Molar

Have you ever lost a tooth? I don’t mean it fell out or was pulled. I mean have you ever literally lost one? As in “issue an Enamel Alert, and put its picture on toothpaste tubes” lost. You probably wonder how that could happen, but I can tell you…it can.

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Last night, after 11:00 p.m., I was almost ready to go to bed and decided to have a piece of toast, because since my gastric bypass in 2001, eating makes me sleepy. I made my toast, buttered it, and returned to the couch to munch while I got ready to shut down the computer and call it a night.

Next thought… “Toast doesn’t have bones.”

But there was something hard in my mouth. I felt around with my tongue, separated the mushy toast-bites from the hard thing, swallowed the toast, and spit the object into my hand.

The crown from one of my bottom right molars. Nice.

Further lingual investigation identified the tooth-stump and probed. No pain. Well, that was good.

The bottom of the crown looked gross, but since I have no idea what the underside of an eight-year-old crown should look like, I can’t really say if that was unusual.

For the past month, I’ve had a series of dental appointments to address a lot of cavities, chips, and broken teeth resulting from seventeen years of malabsorption and demineralization due to my gastric bypass–a side effect we hadn’t really known about back when I had the surgery. Fortunately, I already had an appointment scheduled for 11:00 this morning.

I grabbed my phone, took a photo of the wayward crown and one of the tooth-stump in my mouth, and emailed the dental office with the subject “Emergency!”

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The crown in question, and possibly some semi-chewed toast

I’d already locked and barred the sliding door, so I shut down the computer, got my phone and glass of water, put the tooth on the breakfast bar, threw away the paper towel and remainder of the piece of toast, turned off the lights, called the dogs, went through the bedroom (followed by the dogs), into my bathroom to get ready for bed, then got into bed and thought about finding a small jewelry bag in the kitchen drawer to put the tooth in so I could take it with me in the morning to show the dentist.

This morning, I got up and made coffee, let the dogs out, got a little fabric bag out of the junk drawer, and went to put the tooth in it.

But the tooth was gone.

I know I put it on the breakfast bar. Yes, it was very late, and I was already halfway to sleepy-land, but I know I put it there, because that’s where I put the dogs’ puppy teeth when I found them, and I thought it was funny.

I fed the dogs, poured coffee, and started looking. On the floor, around the base of the breakfast bar, under the table, in Oliver’s crate, under Oliver’s crate, on the end table where I sit all day, around the computer, under the couch, in the couch, under other furniture, in and around various objects on the kitchen counters, in the garbage inside the paper towel holding the uneaten toast, in the half-bath (though I’m sure I didn’t go in there after the incident), on the deck in case I was wrong and we had gone outside again after the crown came off and I’d had it in my hand, in my bathroom, on my bed stand, in the bed, on floors all along the route I took from couch to bed…no tooth.

Email from the dentist’s office said bring it, because maybe they could put it back on. I explained my dilemma.

Appointment time came, and I had work done on the front bottom teeth, and some preliminary repairs to a very unsightly area of decay on one front tooth. And they took an impression of the tooth-stump, because it’s looking like I’m going to need a new crown.

Inquiring of the Facebook hive mind, it was suggested one of the dogs got it. Apparently, dogs are attracted to dental-mouth-type-things. They chew up whitening trays, retainers, dentures, so…maybe? But these two do not counter surf. The area where I put the tooth is where I also put their treats, and they’ve never taken anything off there. But what else could it be? A very determined mouse? There are way tastier things around here than a broken crown.

I’m left with only one suspect. The tooth fairy. A really shitty tooth fairy who needs to be fired immediately, because I did not put it under my pillow, did not authorize the theft of mens-tooth-fairy-costumethe tooth, and the bitch didn’t leave me any money, which I’m now going to need to pay for a new crown.

So, instead of being on dental visit 5 of 6 or 7, it’s now 5 of 7 or 8, because it will probably take a couple of visits to prepare and place the crown. Yay.

I’m done looking. I’ve driven myself nuts over it all day. If it shows up, fine. If a dog ate it, I don’t want it back. (Seriously.) It’s not for sure they could put this one back on anyway, and after eight or so years, it’s probably a good idea to start fresh.

Of course, now that I’m not looking, maybe it will come out of hiding. The main irritation right now is the mystery. It’s like a cliffhanger. I want to know where the hell a tooth could go, possibly of its own volition, between 11:30 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.

The dogs aren’t talking.

Direwolf Grooming Day

Oliver is a standard poodle, which means a trip to the groomer every 6-8 weeks. Mozzie is a golden retriever, which would usually mean grooming also, because I’m old and brittle and out of shape and lazy and happily pay someone to blow out all that dense golden undercoat, but Mozzie has a very light coat for a golden. I take him for a nail trim and bathe and brush him at home. Which is good, because he’s an anxious, twitchy dog, and being left for 5-6 hours in a busy pet resort would freak him out.

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Not Mozzie, obviously, because my bathroom is purple, not pink, and my tub is much bigger. Also, Mozzie would probably be afraid of the rubber ducky.

All I want is to get Nutball 1 and Nutball 2 into the car and to Jill’s Pet Resort with a minimum of chaos, but it never works out that way. The moment I begin laying out my clothes, they know. Bra, jeans, shoes. All things they never see unless there’s an outing in my immediate future.

I get the leashes out while they’re outside, but they still know. I get my purse out of the kitchen drawer…dead giveaway. Putting a harness and leash on two panting, whirling, over-excited, highly suspicious 60ish-pound puppies is challenging, to say the least.

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A couple of groomings ago, I didn’t realize I’d hooked Oliver’s leash through his tag ring instead of the leash ring on his collar. Trying to get two insane dogs from the car to the groomer resulted in ring-failure. I had to grab his collar, while Mozzie was in full fight-or-flight mode, trying to slip his collar and depart for the nearest horizon at speed. Luckily, the staff at Jill’s saw what was happening and came to our rescue.

Which is why they now always wear their harnesses when we go out, and why I schedule grooming for Tom’s day off so he can assist with dog-wrangling. Even with his help today, though, while I was bent over putting on Oliver’s harness, Mozzie came cannonballing through the kitchen and head-butted me at full speed. I don’t know how neither of us is unconscious.

As you know if you’ve followed my dog posts, Oliver and Mozzie are great brothers. They get along better than any two dogs I’ve ever had, and have been raised together since they were four and six months old. They very rarely fight. With one exception. When Oliver comes home from grooming, he’s either over-stimulated or annoyed, and he immediately wants to fight. We’ve been working on sorting this out. Today, Oliver started growling the second he came in the door. They’ll keep their distance for a while, and I’m trying to keep things low-key.

Tom and I disagree about Oliver’s grooming. Neither of us wants a “fussy looking” poodle with poms and rosettes and topknots. But I still want him to clearly be a poodle. So he gets a moderate head-puff, short-trimmed feet and face, natural tail, and short clip on the body.

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This will never happen. EVER.

Tom sort of likes Oliver right before grooming, when he looks like a homeless Muppet. He’s cute, regardless, but eventually you have to clip them back into poodle-shape. Never fear, he’ll be Muppety again in no time.

But what you really want to see is before and after photos, right? Yeah, me too.

Okay, Oliver before. Still mind-bogglingly cute, but getting a bit disheveled-looking, and starting to want to tangle.

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And now after. I’m not totally nuts about the full-on, freshly-groomed poodle clip, but you have to reset the poodlemeter from time to time. I’ll like his look best in about two weeks. I’ll like that for a couple of weeks, then start whining that he needs to be groomed again.

Mozzie got a nail trim and a good brushing, which was all he needed. So no before…but when I was taking pictures of Oliver, he didn’t want to be left out. That golden smile!

Freshly groomed or shaggy and rumply, they’re adorable and totally our boys. Just don’t tell Oliver that Mozzie got to go for a walk in the park and play ball with Dad in the back yard while he was gone.

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Dinner Bites Back

Sometimes, even though you’ve caught up on work and have no legitimate reason, you simply don’t feel like cooking. Yesterday was one such day.

We’re normally pretty frugal, cooking at home and eating leftovers until they’re gone, even if it takes four days. But I looked at the fridge yesterday, found a whole lot of “meh,” and decided we needed something else. Something not currently in the house, made by someone who was not me.

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There was at least one other option…but takeout seemed to be the way to go.

Next, we had to figure out where this dinner would come from. Wanting something non-pizza-related, it also needed to be somewhere convenient for Tom to stop on the way home from work, and where I could order and pay online, because if I had to talk to a humanoid on the phone, I’d probably decide a baked potato and steamed veggies was an acceptable meal after all.

Applebee’s it is, then.

I decided on the caprese mozzarella chicken, which is grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella, grilled onion and tomato, served over garlic mashed potatoes.

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Because I was paying (since it was my idea to get takeout), I also splurged on an order of chicken wonton tacos, because the crispy-crunchy wrap amuses me.

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I’m a gastric bypass patient (November 2001), so any restaurant meal is two to three meals for me. Besides enjoying leftovers later in the evening or for lunch the next day, it helps me justify the cost of ordering out.

Tom arrived with dinner, and it was delicious. I ate two of the tacos and half the caprese mozzarella chicken. I expected to feel really full, because it was a considerable amount of food for my modified tummy.

What I did not expect was the pain.

A few times over the last couple of years, I’ve had some kind of idiopathic gastroenteritis, when my intestines are inflamed and feel like they’re full of ground glass and rusty barbed wire, but this wasn’t it. General Thanksgiving-level fullness was combined with bouts of stabbing pain.

Even now, fifteen or so hours later, it’s not completely resolved. There is a lingering fullness and occasional flashes of “ouch,” but nothing is spewing out either end, so I guess this is progress.

At the height of last night’s gastrointestinal crisis, I almost threw the leftovers in the trash, but I didn’t. Why not? Well, there’s no way in hell I’m eating it, that’s for sure. But I figure if my guts rupture and kill me with caprese-induced peritonitis, Tom will have evidence for his wrongful death lawsuit.

I probably should’ve just scrambled some eggs.

The Universe Is a Jerk

Yesterday, I shared this Classic Fermented Fur post about when I cut the quick on one of Ozark’s front toenails and it didn’t want to stop bleeding. I found a non-stick pad and some Vet-Wrap to solve the problem.

I hadn’t even thought of Vet-Wrap in years, but I found myself needing to order some today. The only explanation is that the Universe noticed yesterday’s post and has a twisted sense of humor.

The last day or so, Oliver has been licking his left front paw. Mozzie, being a golden and by definition a caring, sympathetic dog, has been helping. Which is really the opposite of helpful. They sometimes do this if Oliver has just been to the groomer and has some clipper burn on his toes, but he hasn’t been to the groomer in almost a month. (Note to self, schedule that for in a few weeks.)

I thought maybe he stepped in something interesting in the yard and it would pass as soon as all the lickable goodness was gone. But a while ago, he was on the couch with me and I noticed his left dew claw was at an odd angle.

Standard poodles normally have their dew claws removed when they’re a few days old. They also customarily (in the US) have their tails docked by 1/3 to 1/2 so the remaining tail is straight. I’m very firmly against cosmetic alterations such as tail docking and ear cropping, so I was fine with Oliver having a natural tail. Dew claws can be a problem if they’re loose or floppy because they tend to catch on things, but Oliver’s are nice and tight, so I wasn’t worried.

But I probably should’ve been because at some point recently, he must have caught it on something. Now it’s loose-ish, and sticking out enough I noticed it through his long leg-hair.

What to do? I’d really like to avoid a trip to the vet. The first thing they’d do is suggest I have the dew claw removed, likely both of them, and at his age this is a pretty big deal. For three-day-old puppies, the cartilage is still developing, so it’s a simple snip and a dab of surgical glue, though I would still rather not do this unless I had a reason, like the puppy was going to be a field dog and likely to injure it. But at over a year old, this would be amputation, involve general anesthesia, stitches, bandages, and probably the Cone of Shame.

I think the first step is to see if I can manage this. It doesn’t appear to be painful, since he’s not limping or holding his paw up, and he’s still tearing up the yard running around with Mozzie. Other than some licking, and giving me dirty looks when I try to examine it, it doesn’t seem to be bothering him a lot.

I ordered some Vet-Wrap and medical tape, but even with Amazon Prime it will take two days to arrive. So I checked the “medical supplies and owie-repairer” basket in my bathroom and found a roll of gauze and some waterproof tape. Oliver was surprisingly cooperative as I wrapped it. My theory is that holding the dew claw tight to his leg for a couple of days should give it a chance to heal and tighten back in place.

I hope he’ll leave the bandage alone. I have a large Comfy Cone, but I have a feeling this would introduce more chaos into the household dynamics than any of us would like. He’s currently in his crate with a bully stick, my theory being this will keep him from paying attention to the bandage-wrapped appendage until he gets a bit used to having it on there.

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The Poodle Is Not Amused

I guess we’ll see. If he won’t leave it alone, or if this doesn’t work and he keeps messing with it after I take off the bandage, we’ll have to visit the vet. Since by then I’ll have tried the “wrap the area and cross my fingers and hope for the best” option, the next step might end up being amputation.

He’s a poodle, and therefore brilliant, so maybe I can explain it to him. If he gives it some thought, I’m sure he’ll recognize the benefits of keeping all his original parts where they belong.

Nothing to do now but wait and see.

Classic: Worst. Dog-Mom. Ever

This edition of Fermented Fur appeared ten years ago today, and involves Ozark, our much-loved and much-missed 110-pound Pyr/Lab mix. Behold…

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He was so sweet and gentle and patient, and I definitely tried that patience in this post. I’m glad I blogged about a lot of these things, because I only vaguely recall some of them, and even the crazy memories make me smile.


I started out with only the best of intentions. That’s how I always start out, being a basically well-meaning person. It’s not my fault if things turn out like crap half the time.

I’ve been treating Ozark’s rancid left ear for a couple of weeks, but not as consistently as I should have. As a result of my semi-inadvertent neglect, I decided last night that he should go to work with me tomorrow for a thorough deep cleaning. After that, we can formulate a new treatment strategy, and start out with a whole bunch less brown, smelly ear gunk, increasing our chances of success.

Before I could take Ozark to the clinic, it was necessary to give him a good brush-out. He’s been looking a little bedraggled the last few weeks, and if I took him looking like that, I would be forced to hang my head in shame. I borrowed a Furminator (a nifty super-duper undercoat rake) from a fellow golden owner two weeks ago, and had yet to so much as remove the blade cover. So, today was the day.

After getting through the morning household chores, I put Brody and Darwin outside so they didn’t complicate the grooming process. Sprocket got to stay, because he never complicates anything.

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Sprocket’s motto: I’ll just be over here, not bothering anybody.

Darwin immediately began running the fence and barking like crazy, but I couldn’t do anything about it just then. I made a mental note to strangle him later.

I spent the next twenty minutes or so brushing Ozark, and got enough undercoat (without even trying) to fill two paper grocery bags. I could have brushed for another hour and at least tripled the fur-removal total, but portions of my right arm were becoming numb. Time to move on to trimming the foot-fur and toenails.

As usual, I nicked the quick of one nail, this time on the left front foot. I applied some stop-bleeding liquid, and all appeared to be well. Ozark was not totally thrilled, but he’s a very tolerant dog and not prone to holding grudges. I picked up the fur and toenail remnants and ran the vacuum, exploding one bag, installing another one, and vacuuming again. This is the standard procedure.

A bit later, Ozark went outside. When he came in, I noticed him lying in the living room licking his paw. Then I noticed his extremely bloody foot. Then I noticed the numerous drippy blood spots all over the carpet.

Not one to panic, I went and got the peroxide, some paper towels, and the anti-bleeding stuff (though I was beginning to doubt its effectiveness). The problem was that his footie was now bleeding quite a bit, and I couldn’t blot the blood flowing from his nail and then get the liquid on it fast enough. Hmm. A new strategy was clearly needed.

I poured a whole gob of the liquid onto a paper towel, and it turns to a gel once it’s out of the bottle. I needed to work quickly. Next step, transfer gob of gel onto my finger, blot blood with other hand, rapidly apply goo to damaged toenail. Observe. No new blood appearing on perturbed pet’s paw. Eeeeexcellent.

Step back. Watch neurotic dog begin licking damaged digit, thus removing anti-bleeding goo. Witness creation of spectacular new bloodstain on carpet. Time to haul out the big guns now.

Somewhere under one of the kitchen cabinets I had a small brown paper lunch bag with first aid supplies I had brought home when Ozark had a sore on his foreleg that he wouldn’t leave alone. I never used it, but had a hunch it was about to come in very handy. I gathered the peroxide, Telfa pads, medical adhesive tape, anti-bleeding goo (which may or may not be totally worthless), and a roll of purple Vet-Wrap bandage.

Ozark looked at me with tremendous apprehension and attempted to flee, leaving a trail of bloody toe-prints in his wake. I intercepted and returned him to the “treatment area.” (On the floor in front of the aquarium) I repeated the whole blood-blotting-and-goo-applying process, this time following it up with the swift slapping-on of a Telfa pad over the end of his foot. I secured the pad with a systematically-placed round of Vet-Wrap, which was in turn secured with white medical adhesive tape. Wow, that looks almost professional.

Let me state, though, that while I manage a veterinary hospital, I am not now, nor have I ever been a veterinary technician. I do, however, observe a certain amount of treatment, and I watch a lot of Emergency Vets on Animal Planet. At any rate, I thought I did a right-fine bandaging job, considering.

Ozark begs to differ. As far as he’s concerned, his entire left front leg is no longer part of his body. He lies by the aquarium, giving me that mournful, incredulous, “how could you do this to me” look. Whenever he tried to stand up, he’d look at his foot as if it belonged to some other dog with zero fashion sense (I rather liked the purple, but maybe he didn’t) and lie back down. I finally enticed him up onto the couch with me, so there’s a slight chance I’ve been forgiven.

It’s entirely possible I wrapped his paw in some unnatural and potentially hazardous position. It’s also possible I wrapped it too tightly, and he has no circulation below his elbow. For these reasons, I will take it off before bed tonight, and hope it doesn’t start bleeding again. I’m not even going to think about removing the eleven thousand blood spots from the carpet until I’m sure this entire unfortunate situation is behind us.

Now I have two reasons to take him to work tomorrow, I guess. Ear and foot. Of course, if he didn’t already have a disgusting ear, I wouldn’t have been hacking away at his toenails today, and we wouldn’t have the toe problem. All my fault, of course.

At least he smells pleasantly of peach-kava grooming spray and is relatively tangle-free.

 

Rescuing the Rescued Poodle

Oliver the Wonder Poodle has been with us almost a year. On his gotcha-versary, expect a lengthy post about everything he’s taught me about poodles in that time. But one very amusing thing happened around six weeks after he arrived and opened my eyes to the ingenuity, curiosity, and unflappable nature of the breed. He was five and a half months old and a bit over thirty pounds at the time, and too smart and intrepid for his own good.

My mornings follow a very structured routine, because I am Not A Morning Person, and varying from the expected process results in chaos and throws me off for the rest of the day. Things must not happen out of order, and nothing requiring independent thought can take place until I’ve been up at least an hour. If I ever experience an early morning house fire, I’m doomed.

Having two puppies made this a challenge, but we were doing pretty well. They wake me up every morning–really heckkin’ early–all happy and wiggly and adorable, they get breakfast, I get coffee, and everybody is set.

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I know this is dim and grainy, but I did warn you they wake me up early. This is what I see every morning when I open my eyes. Not a bad way to start the day.

One particular morning in early April, I took the dogs out then popped back inside to unload the dishwasher and let them run off some puppy mania. A few minutes later, I noticed Mozzie at the sliding door. He had on his “worried ears,” and his eyebrows clearly communicated “you’re not going to like this, but I swear I had nothing to do with it.”

I looked for Oliver, but no Oliver was to be found. I put my shoes back on and clomped down the deck steps into the yard, but still didn’t see a poodle puppy. Mozzie decided to be helpful–because he’s a golden and that’s what they do–and pointed out a hole under the lattice surrounding the deck.

Aha.

Investigation quickly revealed the wayward poodle under the enclosed deck. For reasons known only to him, Oliver had dug under the lattice, wriggled under the deck, and now couldn’t get out because the angle of the hole was wrong.

Thankfully, he wasn’t upset about it. If he’d been freaking out, I’d have had to go all mama-dog and rip off the lattice and probably die of splinter poisoning. But Oliver knew he wasn’t in immediate danger, and I had everything under control. Poodles have a lot of incredible abilities, but mind-reading isn’t one of them. This was fortunate, because if he knew what I was thinking just then, he’d have been a lot more concerned.

He sat there looking at me, confident and unperturbed. I, however, was fairly perturbed. I hadn’t had coffee yet, and I avoid physical exertion at all times, but it was evident I would have to dig the little monster out of there before my coffee-drinking could resume.

I located the garden rake, which would have to do, because while I was sure we owned a shovel, it was probably in the shed, which was padlocked. I had a key to this, of course, but figuring out which one it was would require more mental dexterity than I have before coffee.

Rake in hand, I set about deepening the hole and extending the angle back under the deck so Oliver could crawl out.

Dig, dig, dig. Scoop, scoop, scoop. Pause to catch my breath and look at the unrepentant poodle sitting there smiling at me through the lattice-holes.

Oliver occasionally attempted to help, but didn’t seem to be very effective. I was calling bullshit on the whole thing, because he got under there in the first place, and those paws looked pretty capable, but all he could do was scratch around, occasionally nibble at the dirt, and stick his naughty-but-adorable head out.

Mozzie mostly paced nervously and wandered over from time to time to assess my progress and make sure nobody was in trouble. He’d done his “come quick, Timmy fell down the well” part, which was apparently as involved as he planned to be in the whole matter.

Finally, I was sweaty and my back was cramping, I had dirt embedded in my knees and under my nails, and I probably had spiders in my hair, but Oliver managed to squirm out under the lattice. I immediately dropped a log in the hole to prevent further incidents. Mozzie was ecstatic, because his buddy was available for chasing again and I had stopped scowling and muttering.

Having puppies was not on my to-do list before I got these two. I’d been declaring emphatically for the past ten years that my puppy-wrangling days were behind me. I could not have been more wrong. Despite the house training and crazy antics, these two goobers have brightened my world and made my life a lot more interesting.

I just prefer it if they save the interesting stuff for after I’ve had coffee.