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Friday, October 29, 2010

Pirate Dog

This is my sweet Pirate Dog.

He left this life on Wednesday.

The best way to tribute my sweet dog is to tell his story.

The story actually starts with a different dog. When the ex and I were married, we had a German Shepherd. He was a wonderful dog, and by the time we split up, he was old and sick. He always insisted on sleeping next to my bed, between the bedroom door and me - as my protector. When he died, I really missed feeling the safety of a big dog in the house.

But I also had 4 cats at the time. That's a lot to deal with when you're a single mom.

Along came Surfer Pirate.

He's a big animal lover - doesn't matter what kind of animal. He loved my cats, but deep down, he's really a dog person. Since he knew right from the start that we were going to be together forever, and I had my own home with a big yard, he wanted to get a dog. I still figured at that point that our relationship was temporary, and did I really want to get another dog to add to my already fur-filled house? But I did always feel safer with that big guard dog in my house, so I let Surfer Pirate talk me into a dog.

I went to the pound to see what dogs they had there. There were a couple of neat dogs, but I fell hard for a tiny German Shepherd puppy. She was so sweet and helpless. She was being treated for mange, so I wouldn't be able to take her home that day. I went home to wait it out.

I told Surfer Pirate about the puppy, and he had the sense to talk me out of getting her. With me working full-time, it was not a good idea to try to train a new puppy - especially one that already had health problems. We decided to go together - Surfer Pirate, Pirate Munchkin and me - to look for a dog.

As much as it killed me to do it, I passed by the little shepherd puppy and led the way to the other kennels where the two other dogs I had liked were. The one was a nice dog, but Surfer Pirate didn't seem too interested. Then, we went to the kennel where I had seen the adult yellow lab. Surfer Pirate looked at the dog, seemed to like him, then pointed at him and said "Sit." The dog sat. He turned to me, grinned and said "That's the one!"

So, we took him home.

He was a really fun dog, right from the start. He loved hugs! I had always wanted to have a big dog that liked hugs! (My other dog was a little skittish about hugging.) He had boundless energy, loved to play fetch, was loyal and loving, and was very gentle with my daughter.

He also was an escape artist.

We'd only had him a couple of weeks when he dug under the fence and went for a run. I was at work when I got the phone call from the animal shelter. Animal Control had picked up my dog and I needed to come get him. So, after work, I went down to the pound to bail him out of jail. They sent me back to the kennels (same kennels where I first saw him) to make sure he was back there. I had been instructed to find him, get the clipboard off his kennel and bring it back to the front office. I would pay his fine and then they would bring him up to me. When I got back to the kennels, I saw him before he saw me. He looked so sad and downtrodden! Poor guy. When he saw me, he got so excited that he started bounding around the kennel and barking! "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom's here to get me! Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!" I talked to him, grabbed the clipboard and went back up front. He couldn't figure out why I was leaving him, and he started to cry and whine and carry on. I felt so bad, but at the same time, it was pretty funny. I paid his $35 bail and they brought him out to me. He practically pulled over the girl in his excitement to get to me! "I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!"

He dug his way out a few more times, but thankfully, he was always found by one neighbor or another who would call me so I could come get him. We found out about a year and a half later that there was a woman down the street who had 2 female labs. He kept going to visit her dogs.

The pound had estimated his age to between 4-6 years old. The vet thought it was more like 6-7 years. Based on the last year of his life and how fast he wore down, we think he was actually closer to 8 when we got him.

The pound also didn't know much about his background. They told us he was left with them because the owner was moving and couldn't take him. Based on how he reacted to me the first few months, I suspected his previous owner had been a woman - I was the one he listened to the most. (Although when Surfer Pirate broke his back and was home for 2 months, they really bonded in that time. I never had the full command after that.) It was obvious that he'd always been allowed to ride in the bed of a pickup because any time we would ask him if he wanted to go for a ride, he would go straight for the tailgate. (I didn't allow that in our city in Montana - too much traffic and crazy drivers. Since we've been in North Dakota, I have no problem with the dogs riding in the back around here. The pace is so much slower that it's much safer. I'm sure he enjoyed getting his pickup bed back for the last few months of his life!) One day, Surfer Pirate took him outside and there were ducks flying overhead. He told Pirate Dog "get the ducks!" That dog took off across the lawn chasing those ducks! We were quite surprised to discover that he must have been a duck hunting dog with his previous owner!

The poor guy was lonely when everyone was gone during the day. Knowing he was an older dog and one day we would be losing him, we didn't want to just have an empty home. The decision was made to get a puppy to be a companion for him as well as a comfort for us for one day when Pirate Dog would be gone. That's when we got Pirate Puppy. He really enjoyed having a new little buddy to play with, and that slowed down his escape attempts a little. A few months later, we ended up with Pirate Wench Puppy as well. Pirate Dog couldn't quite keep up with these two crazy young pups, so he settled into his roll as a father figure to them. He would play with them at times, other times, he would lay quietly and watch them. But he was always quick to bark at them if they got out of hand.

His barking was actually a nice feature about him. I was never a fan of dogs barking in the house, but his barks served a great purpose. He would bark when he wanted to go outside, and he would bark when he was ready to eat. He was also quite prone to "talking" for other various reasons. It was always fun to communicate back and forth with him with his barks and other interesting grumbles and growls.

He was a good guard dog. He watched out for danger, and I had no doubt that if he ever had to protect us, he would do it fearlessly. But much like Marley from the Marley & Me book, Pirate Dog was TERRIFIED of thunderstorms! (Thankfully, that's pretty much the only way he and Marley compared - aside from their breed.) Thunderstorms would start an interesting routine of quivering, whining and the previously mentioned talking. If we were home, he would usually insist on being held. The dog who rarely ever got on the furniture would come diving into any lap he could find! The main trouble was when we weren't home during a thunderstorm. He would lose control of himself and have accidents in the house. The week we were in North Dakota getting Surfer Pirate settled in to his new job here, there was a tornado in our town in Montana. I came home to a DISASTER in the house!

He's been pretty clingy in the last few weeks - always having to be right next to someone. More than once, he's been squished by the recliner or stepped on because he got too close. I've suspected for a while that he wouldn't be with us much longer. But he started having trouble controlling his bodily functions inside the house. We would take him outside and he would just wander around the yard. Then he would come inside and relieve himself. He just wasn't feeling like himself anymore. His eyesight was going, and he seemed confused most of the time. Tuesday was an especially bad day, and the decision was made that it was time to let him go. He'd been spoiled and loved, got to feel the wind in his face driving down the road, and was pretty much the king of the universe in our home. He'd had a good life. So, Wednesday, Surfer Pirate took the day off work and we drove to the vet an hour away (no vet in our little town). Saying goodbye was especially hard on my loving husband. He adored that dog. We gave him our love and let him go. The vet office was nice enough to let us take a box of tissue with us - which we used as we cried together in the truck.

We had thought long and hard how to break the news to Pirate Munchkin. When she got home from school that day, I sat her down on my lap and told her that because Pirate Dog was old and sick and wasn't feeling like himself, he wasn't happy. So, we took him to the vet where they gave him a little shot that would make him go to sleep. When he woke up, he would be in heaven and would be able to play with our old German Shepherd and our cat who we'd also had to put to sleep a couple years ago. She was happy to hear that part and took the news very well - not a single tear shed.

We got less than 3 years with our wonderful Pirate Dog, but he will always be remembered. I couldn't have asked for a better dog.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Food: My Enemy, My Friend

I have such a mixed relationship with food these days.

I'm always the hungriest around 10 or 11 in the morning. At that time of day, I could practically eat ANYTHING!

And by the time supper-time arrives, I can't handle much of anything. When I can think of something that sounds good, I usually don't eat much. Most of the time, I make something quick for Pirate Munchkin and then sit around for a while trying to figure out what I could stomach. (Thank goodness Surfer Pirate usually eats at the farm so I don't have to figure out a meal for him as well!)

But then there are the cravings.

The horrible cravings!

And they always hit either late at night when the grocery store is closed (we only have one here), so I can't take care of the craving, or I crave something I can't even get here.

Tonight, it was seafood - specifically lobster.

I haven't had lobster in at least 3 years. Pirate Munchkin and I were watching a Man vs. Food marathon tonight. The different burgers and things they were showing mostly made me want to gag. But then he went someplace for lobster. It was so beautiful and so tempting I wanted to cry! I even went so far as to look online and see where I could order lobster to have shipped to me! Let me tell you, the prices are HORRIFYING!!

This is one of those days where I miss being in a city. I could get in the car and drive to the grocery store, and I could usually find at least lobster tails at the meat counter. Not cheap, but certainly cheaper than ordering online! And then there's Red Lobster and their lobster pizza!

Maybe we should have moved to Maine.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thoughts on Scooby-Doo

I have so much to do today. But I have to get this thought out of my head.

I loved Scooby-Doo as a kid. I watched it all the time. I can still hear the background music in my head. (While I can appreciate that they've made more and updated stories, I wish they'd kept the music.)

Pirate Munchkin has decided she really likes the show. I don't have a problem with the cartoons, but have you seen the live-action made-for-tv movies they're making now? Soooooooo incredibly bad! I've banned those being watched if I'm in the house.

I've decided I want to be a Scooby-Doo villain. I want to dress in a really cool costume and come up with some elaborate scheme to scare people. And when I'm caught, I want to confess the whole thing and get to say the famous line "And I would have gotten away with it, too! If it weren't for you meddling kids!"

But you've got to wonder.

After all these years, don't you think eventually they would figure out that there aren't any ghosts or evil trolls or headless horsemen to be afraid of? Every. single. time. they come across one of these scary creatures, it always turns out to be someone in costume. And every. single. time. they (or at least Shaggy and Scooby) are terrified and holding each other. How many more people do they need to unmask before they finally figure out maybe they need to stop being scared all the time?

It's like all the people on Murder She Wrote. You'd think eventually people would figure out inviting Jessica Fletcher to their dinner party is a bad idea. I can't decide if she's a serial murderer who's just really clever and good at brainwashing people, or if she's the Angel of Death. Everywhere she goes, someone dies! Either way, if I knew her, I would keep her away from all my loved ones.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I don't feel good. I got a bad case of motion sickness last weekend, and either it's still sticking around, or I have a stomach bug that comes and goes. I felt icky at the beginning of the week, felt a little better in the middle, and now I feel icky again this morning. Blah.

So I was sitting in the recliner, catching up on a blog that I'm trying to read from the beginning (2005! I'm up to 2007 now), just basically ignoring the rest of the world. Surfer Pirate is at work, Pirate Munchkin is off to school and Pirate Baby is happily kicking away inside of me. It was peaceful, and I could pretty much spend the rest of the day doing the same thing.

Except the dogs were whining.

I hadn't taken them out yet for the day.

I very politely asked them if they could go live somewhere else today so I wouldn't have to take them out at all today. They not only IGNORED this very reasonable request, but insisted that I take them outside.

Not fair. It's cold out there this morning.

But now that they've been out, I'm happy to report they are quietly resting and I can pretend they aren't here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Concert Review

Surfer Pirate and I are going to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary in 9 days. Shortly before we moved to North Dakota, we heard about a great concert that was going to be happening this month. It was eventually decided that since the concert was only 2 weeks before our anniversary, we would make that our gift to each other. It was also going to be our first chance to get away - just the two of us - since we've moved.

So, Sunday, we got in the truck and drove for a few hours to get to the concert venue. We picked up our tickets in Will-Call and went to check into our motel room. I changed into my concert attire: jeans, a long sleeved black t-shirt with the t-shirt shown here over the top. We went back to the venue, paid for parking, and were trying to find a good parking spot when I realized I had left the tickets in my purse - back in the motel. Thankfully, they gave us a ticket for the parking lot, so we were able to leave and come back without having to pay for parking again. But I felt pretty dumb.

There were technically two concerts going on. One was during the afternoon outside. Then the rest would be inside. We missed most of the outdoor part, but we did catch a group from Texas called Hell Yeah. Surfer Pirate and I were both pretty impressed with them. We'll have to pick up some of their music.

The first group is one that Surfer Pirate and I were both really familiar with (although he was very familiar with all the groups). Halestorm, as led by the very talented Lzzy Hale (and yes, that is how her name is spelled). I was really looking forward to seeing them live, but I was in no way prepared for how amazing that would be! Before she even stepped out on stage, Lzzy let loose with the longest notes I think I've ever heard! I knew she could sing, but holy cow! She is AMAZING!! The whole group is really good, but her brother (Arejay) is about as good as his sister. He's a very impressive drummer. I have to admit I have a little crush on him now. If you get the chance to see them perform live, I highly recommend it.

Next up was Stone Sour. I haven't really listened to them before, so I didn't know any of their songs. They were good, but I wouldn't say I'm going to be a fan of theirs anytime soon. Surfer Pirate really enjoyed them.

Avenged Sevenfold was third in line. There was quite a bit of set-up with the curtain down before they came on. Let me tell you, it was worth the wait!! They had a backdrop of an old assylum (although I thought it was a haunted house at first). There was an old Gothic looking fence with fire coming out of the pillars. To start off the drama, a guy hung himself off the scaffolding at the top of the stage (he had a safety harness on, but I was a little concerned when he jumped off because the scaffolding fell a little - he was fine). He hung there through the whole first song, which was about 5 minutes long. To start the first song, the lead singer started by playing a very creepy organ. It all made the Halloween-lover in me VERY happy! Their music was really good, the theatrics kept going, and they did a very touching tribute to their late drummer Jim Sullivan, who died last December. I would definitely see them again if I got the chance.

Last, but definitely not least was one of my very favorites - Disturbed. If you're not familiar with them, the lead singer David Draiman has one of the most interesting singing voices I've ever heard. It's very choppy, and I was really looking forward to seeing him do that in person. Their show wasn't nearly as theatric as Avenged, but it was just as interesting. They had screens up behind them, and had all kinds of different things going on with the screens. They started with a clip from one of their videos (at least I think I've seen it before in a video), and there was fire and interesting swirled graphic designs, and all kinds of things. Sadly, after a very long tour schedule (we saw the 2nd to last night), David was coming close to losing his voice. The cool sound effects and screams that he does all worked just fine, but there were a couple places where he even had to change pitch in order to get through the song when he was harmonizing. But all in all, they were amazing, and I loved every minute of it.

Surfer Pirate and I both left the concert without much of a voice from singing along to our favorite songs.

The sound system at the venue was really impressive. We were seated facing the stage straight on, in the 4th row. We made sure to be in the seating area, away from where everyone was standing (anywhere else, there probably would have been a big mosh pit, but apparently it's not a big thing to do here in ND). The sound system was so good that the seats vibrated and rattled with the music. So the question you may be wondering is how did the baby deal with the music? Apparently the baby loved it because it was ALL OVER the place! Bouncing around and kicking. It was like the baby was slam dancing, or having its own little mosh pit inside of me. It was pretty fun.

All in all, we had a wonderful time, and it was a very good choice for our anniversary celebration.