Archive | Animals RSS feed for this section

Crushed by Cow or Penis Bitten by Snake? A Thought Experiment Gone Wrong

27 Aug

In mid-July, I stumbled upon the following headlines on Gawker.

Brazilian Man Killed in His Bed By Falling Cow

Mr. Souza was crushed, but his wife was unharmed. Mr. Souza survived the initial impact, but died the following day after suffering from internal bleeding.

Snake Hiding in Toilet Bites Israeli Man’s Penis

The injured man told emergency workers that he noticed a strong burning sensation as he was using the toilet in his parents’ home in the northern Israeli town of Nofit. At that point, the man looked down and saw a snake in the toilet. He then “ran from the room in horror” to call paramedics.

As a philosophical being, I’m left trying to decide which man’s fate I’d choose to take on for myself.  Would I rather have a cow fall through my roof, killing me, or would I rather live, but have my penis nipped by a snake?

It seems simple because in one case, I live, in the other, I’m finished, but it also involves fear and uncertainty. If I pick the snake and I’m on the toilet anticipating the bite to my penis . . . . Well, I just don’t know if I can do that. If I pick the snake and you tell me my penis will be bitten, like, eventually, maybe next week, maybe 2024, then that’s something that could ruin my life.

In the article: “There will undoubtedly be bite marks on the area in question.” This is attributed generically to the hospital. Who at the hospital? A woman visiting her grandma? A crazy dude from the psych ward?

Okay, let’s say the doctor who treated the penis made the statement. What if the doctor considers a half inch of penis loss to be “just a bite mark”? What if people around him–and I’m including people close, like family–are always like “Wow, Jim, that sure is an understatement!” Maybe for this particular doctor a whole goddam inch would need to be snipped off for him to more accurately depict the damage.

“There will undoubtedly be a decrease in satisfaction for the patient’s sexual partner due to the loss of penile length.”

Another worry would be if I’d get the same snake to bite my penis or if a replacement snake would be used. I mean, who’s  choosing this snake? A venomous snake expert or an electrical engineer from St. Louis who wouldn’t know a garter from a copperhead?

You know what, I just can’t do this. I’m done. Too many unknowns.

I’m going to choose death by cow.


Attack of the Puppy Slayer

11 Aug

I’ve been conspicuously absent from my blog, beaten down by a curious lack of confidence in absolutely everything I write. It’s not like I stopped writing though; I’ve been kicking some ass over at 750 words, a website that encourages a daily “brain dump.” It’s based on an exercise in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way called “morning pages” where you clear your head making room for all kinds of supposed creativity. I can write over there like a crazy mofo because it’s not meant to be read by another human being. Ever. No way. 

But I have no excuse for not writing a blog post about the puppy we adopted in April. I mean, that’s a big deal, right? We brought another living being into our family, one that licks our faces and poops behind the couch and chews up my socks and brings cat turds up from the basement.


And to think I almost killed her last week.

No, really. I seriously almost made our live puppy dead. I poisoned her with XyloSweet, the “sweetest of all natural sugar substitutes.” I buy the stuff–I’ll call it X like it’s a dangerous street drug from here out–in five pound bags in our local health food store for around $20. Yeah, I know, it’s expensive compared to your everyday teeth-rotting white sugar. (Xylitol is said to protect teeth!)

You can read the following paragraph or skip it and just believe me when I say the stuff is toxic to dogs. Also see: Why is xylitol so dangerous for dogs and cats?

Xylitol is well established as a life-threatening toxin to dogs. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the number of cases of xylitol toxicosis in dogs has significantly increased since the first reports in 2002. Dogs that have ingested foods containing xylitol (greater than 100 milligrams of xylitol consumed per kilogram of bodyweight) have presented with low blood sugar, which can be life-threatening.Low blood sugar can result in a loss of coordination, depression, collapse and seizures in as little as 30 minutes. Intake of doses of xylitol (greater than 500 – 1000 mg/kg bwt) has been implicated in liver failure in dogs, which can be fatal.

For café coffee, I keep a small Ziploc bag of X in a zippered pouch in my backpack, and sometimes–mindful that X is toxic to dogs–I carelessly throw my backpack onto the couch instead of hanging it up in a closet.

The Set Up

J and the girls are on their way home from Grayslake, a suburb of Chicago. I’m home alone with no vehicle and–thanks to another blunder–no phone. Normally, I’m fine; I have my computer and tablet for texting and my bike and bus for transportation. But it’s Sunday night, nothing’s open and the buses aren’t running. My backpack is on the couch.

The Downward Spiral

I’m walking Coco and Dexter. Coco looks up at me with sad eyes. She stops, vomits on our neighbor’s sidewalk.

Eww, that’s groos.

We reach our driveway. Sammie is tied up in our yard. The chain is all messed up and stuck. It takes me five minutes to get her unhooked. I look over, Coco is lying down, breathing funny. She vomits on herself without getting up.


She stands up, walks over to the grass and vomits one last time. 

Holy hell, what’s going on?

I run in to search for evidence that she’d consumed something damaging, like, oh I don’t know, maybe a fork.

Please, let me find a bloody, recently decapitated human head on the couch instead of scattered X. 

Oh no.

On the couch: the Ziploc bag, shredded. I had left the zippered pouch open.

I jog to the window. She’s stumbling around like she’d just tossed back six or eight beers. 

I jog to the computer. I google “my dog ate xylitol” and find “sudden drop in blood sugar” and “seizures” and “liver failure” and “DEATH.”

I’m so f*!%ing screwed, I can’t even believe it.

I stand up and thunder a continuous stream of expletives so impressive that–looking back–I wish I would have somehow recorded it for posterity.

I go out, scoop her up, and bring her inside. I lay her on a blanket next to my laptop.

I’m having thoughts like Boy, I’m going to really miss this dog, but more urgent in my mind was explaining what happened to the girls. 

Hi girls! I’m glad you’re home. How was the ride home? By the way, do you know how Coco was alive when you left? Yeah, well, she’s dead now because I let her eat poison out of my backpack. Forgive me, maybe?


Here’s where I should have ran across the street to use the neighbor’s phone. I didn’t and, I know, it was stupid, but that’s what social anxiety does. It makes me think dealing with a dead puppy is easier than asking a neighbor for help.

Instead, I spend ten minutes texting phone numbers for Jennifer to call to see if there’s a local vet that deals with Sunday night emergencies.

Coco is lying there acting like she’s going to “go to sleep,” when, miraculously, she stands up, walks to her food bowl, and starts eating.

Yes! Yes! Yes! The little bitch is going to live.

And she did. And that’s that.

Thanks for reading!

Life this Week and 8 More Possessions

14 Feb

Here are some of the “goings on” this week.

Last night Sammie somehow squeezed into a small cardboard box full of clean socks and two of my jackets (looks like a pair of underwear too). She’s famous for occasionally finding hilarious spots to nap.


We have a Blendtec “Total” Blender, a superhero kitchen appliance with a price that will make you sick to your stomach, which is kind of happening to me right now. I don’t remember paying $500 for ours. I think it was more like $400. Anyway, we use it almost daily. The digital screen keeps track of how many times it’s been used. We’re over 1,500. This month I added a Twister Jar, and I produced the almond and peanut butter pictured below. I added cocoa powder to the peanut butter on the right.

I went from a cup of almonds to creamy almond butter in 40 seconds thanks to the twister lid. While blending you twist the lid and it keeps your ingredients scraped from the sides of the blender.

Seriously, if you want to change your nutritional life, buy a Blendtec or a Vita-Mix.

On Tuesday I turned on the wrong burner, so instead of heating pasta sauce I melted a container of chickpeas and filled the house with toxic fumes. The beans you see below are stewing in a puddle of melted plastic. Luckily, when it cooled, it peeled off cleanly.


The next photo I added to show “the world” how amazing we are that we have a fridge full of healthy fruits and vegetables. Are you impressed? I would love to see what’s in your refrigerator. Ten years ago a photo of my fridge would have been much different, containing very little except cow milk, soda, ketchup, pickles and maybe leftover SpaghettiOs (Ick!). The only thing I see that isn’t healthy is a package of cheese tortellini that the kids demand once every couple of weeks and two small pizza crusts under the head of cabbage.


After taking pics of Sammie in the box, Ainsley took some self-portraits.

AinsleyMonday before school I shoved some poly stuffing into Trouble’s collar. As you can see, Ainsley wasn’t impressed. I, however, found it hilarious.


I’m still counting my stuff. See here and here. This is next to where I sleep. See photo below.

11. Alarm clock that looks like a phone.

12. Charger cord – Fits our four phones, four tablets, and three Kindles.

13. Ikea lamp

14. Marpac Dohm Sound Conditioner – I don’t think I can sleep without it.

15. Bedroom eyeglasses – You can barely see them in the pic.

16. Kindle Paperwhite e-reader – Maybe my favorite possession.

17. Google Nexus 7 tablet – Not far behind.

18. Table.

I’m not counting the cases because they nest. The way I look at it, if I were moving my stuff from one residence to another, it would be one bundled item. Consumables like facial tissues don’t count.


We Saved Frosty Paws

9 Nov

Wednesday morning Ainsley and I broke up a real live cat fight on the way to school. I was ahead of her, pedaling my ass off, when she saw or heard something to our left in someone’s front yard. She said “Daddy, stop! Turn around!” We circled around and saw two cats making a loud fuss about something. (I think I heard one of them say something about the direction of the country and the other one was asking about “legitimate” rape. Weird.)

I said “Ainsley, you’re a hero! Let’s go break it up before one of them gets hurt.”

“Okay, let’s go!”

As we pedaled over, fur flew from the body of the tan cat. We said “Stop fighting, cats! It’s not worth it! Whatever you’re fighting over–will it matter a two years from now? One year from now? No, of course not! Peace, brothers!”

The cats didn’t even look at us. On a normal day they’d probably run from approaching strangers, but on this day of war they both remained in a low, defensive posture right next to each other making low, growling noises.

A car pulled into a nearby driveway and a woman got out. “Oh my. Come here Frosty Paws!” I asked which cat was Frosty Paws. “The one getting the tar kicked out of him.” Oh, the tan cat. The one who was a little less furry today. The one who looked like he was in the middle of a summer shearing.

I used my front tire to separate the cats. I said “Ah, the poor thing” as she scooped Sparkle Paws up into her loving arms and told the black and white challenger (Romney) to hit the road. “Shoo! Go on, shoo! Get out of here! Go!”

I did the same: “Go on you dirty flea bag! Crawl back into the hole you came from!”

The nice lady thanked us for being such good samaritans and we resumed out trip to LeClaire Elementary. As we left I looked at Ainsley and she smiled real big at what had just happened.

It’s one of the reasons I enjoy riding our bikes to and from school. In a car we’re cut off from what’s happening around us. In a car we would have driven right past this street fight, maybe not even noticing the cats. Even if Ainsley had spotted the fight from the back seat, I doubt I would have even slowed down. But now we have a story to tell.

I’m No Gandhi, But Come On People

8 Oct

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

That quote is often attributed to Gandhi. Maybe he didn’t say it. Either way, it’s permanently inked into my arm. This morning I realized that my daily dog walks in a nearby empty lot is a perfect example of how I try to “be the change.” This patch of grass is surrounded by condos on two sides, apartments on the third side, and some houses on the fourth.

This seemingly unclaimed rectangle of land is a dog shit minefield. Let’s pretend for a second that a dog’s booty-cake is an actual live landmine. If I blindfold four people and force them to cross this treacherous landscape, three will be blown to bits. That’s why I don’t step a single toe in there after dark.

I’m the only one who picks up shit here. So why do I bother when everyone else has apparently gotten together and decided it’d be awesome to see how much poop can pile up in one place? Well, because it starts with me; I want to “be the change” I wish to see in the dog shit minefield. And I know fellow dog walkers see me walking around with my little black, compostable poop bags. I wonder if they laugh. I wonder if they try to imagine themselves putting their fingers on turds with only thin plastic between.

Still, this isn’t the worst case of dog shit negligence I witness. I’ve hopped over gigantic piles of shit on sidewalks in downtown Edwardsville. Near restaurants! I don’t want to want to stoop to using an overused txt-speak expression, but OMG!

And also, AYFKM? (I thought I made this up, but Google set me straight. If you’re over 23, you may not know that AYFKM means “Are you fu*!ing kidding me?”) And that’s exactly what blitzes through my brain when I see dog turds on a busy sidewalk.

I’ve also jogged around piles of shit on the bike/running trails. Be the change you want to see in the world if you want that change to be worldwide disregard for human decency. How’s that for a inspiring tattoo? Or maybe: Be the ginormous pile of shit you wish to see in the world on the sidewalk. Words to live by.

Back to the field. It’s a perfect place for kids to congregate to play baseball or football or even to just hang out, like a small public park. I’m sure kids attempted this back in the 1980s.

“Okay, Timmy and Tommy, you’re on my team. Harry, did you bring–what the hell’s that smell? Billy, did you shit your pants again or did–Holy hell, I just stepped in a pile of dog shit.”

“Ah man, so did I.”

“Me too!”

“Dammit, so did I!”

“Let’s get out of here!”

Small Dog Buries Large Bread

20 Sep

This morning I was walking Dexter Dog when he disappeared under a large evergreen and emerged with a large hunk of bread. I thought back to when he found a biscuit and buried it in some mulch in front of an apartment building. I was kinda pumped to watch him perform his magic again. It makes me think the little guy is smart. Who cares that he eats crayons and his own vomit.

Normally, he races from tree to pole to tree whizzing and sniffing about, but with this hunk of bread, I could tell he was conflicted. He walked, looking all unsure. I could tell he wanted to stash it. From his actions, I also learned that urinating while holding bread in your mouth is just silly and out of the question.

Inexplicably, he tried to squeeze under a blue Volkswagon Beetle. It didn’t work. I stood there wondering what he would’ve done under the car. Bury the bread? You can’t dig if you can’t get up from your belly, you silly dog.  He ventured on down the side of the car and peeked underneath again before giving up on that stupid idea. He walked up to the nearest house apparently looking for some more mulch or soft soil, but found large rocks. He turned around and walked back out to the sidewalk, dejected.

We turned the corner onto our street. I wondered if he had decided to carry the bread all the way home. Would I even let him eat it if he did?Probably not. Finally, he found some loose dirt next to the sidewalk and went to work digging a hole. He spent ten seconds digging the hole and three times as long burying it. I told him he was overdoing it. I said the damn bread is buried and to come on.

So now we have a bona fide trend; I look forward to sharing with you the next time Dexter buries found food.

Skunk Bustling in My Hedgerow

8 Sep

Today I got up at 4:30. It’s the best time of the day for me to write, run, bike, or any other type of exercise, including yoga. But this morning I was reminded of one downside of being outdoors so early: furry little creatures with sharp fangs and claws are still crawling around the neighborhood.

As I pedaled to the end of the driveway and paused for an approaching car, I saw something walking away from me, into the street. I thought it was either Timon from The Lion King or a primordial drawf because it seemed to be walking on its hind legs. But as the car came closer, the headlights showed me a fluffy white and black tail pointing to the sky. Skunk. It was probably chillin’ under our car as I rolled right past it. It could have reached out and shredded my ankles.

I don’t know much about skunks. I’m clueless about whether they always prance around with their tails up or if they only raise them when they’re pissed off at early birds like me. Do they squirt from under their tales or do they face their enemy, stand up on their hind legs, pull down their little skunk pants and squirt like a deranged man whizzing on a tree in a public park?

I can write with confidence that a skunk shower would have ruined my day. This afternoon I’ll be in St. Louis cheering on the New York Mets (The Mets did, in fact, beat the Cardinals). A severe beating would be in store if I showed up smelling of skunk wearing a Cubs hat hurling caustic insults at Matt Holliday (He didn’t even play). People around here already think Cubs fans are a little “off.” Some would even tell you–don’t believe them–we’re a bit smelly in general.

During early morning outings I’ve encountered foxes, cats, skunks, opossums, squirrels, moles, deer, and critters I couldn’t identify. And I live in DOWNTOWN Edwardsville, not out in the sticks. It would be different if it was like: “Oh look at that cute fox thirty yards away.” Instead, they sprint from nearby bushes, drop from trees in front of me, or are standing so still and inconspicuous that I almost run right up their ass.

This happened with a deer early this summer. I was jogging, not paying attention, just kind of watching the ground in front of me, when I suddenly noticed I was standing next to an unfazed deer. I could have ridden him home. Finally he looked at me and smiled–I swear it looked like it!–and bounded away and disappeared between a baseball diamond and the Children’s Museum.

And I forgot to mention the skunk-sized crows that get pissy when I’m outside early. They caw caw caw at me and pretend they’re itching to peck my face off. They sit low in trees I jog past and raise a big stink about my presence with their flapping and cawing before they fly off, leaving me with a dangerously elevated heart rate.

 * * *

Note: The above is all mock complaining. I even love skunks. I would even kiss a skunk if I knew I wouldn’t be sprayed. But not on the lips. Probably on the top of the head. So, yeah, it’s humans that are continuously encroaching on animals. So boo on us!

“They paved paradise to put up a parking lot”

– lyric from Joni Mitchell’s 1970 song “Big Yellow Taxi” recorded in 1970.