i’m leaving you all of my car parts

1. the thing about traveling alone is that nobody else knows what you’ve seen. i can’t say to anyone, “dude, remember when we went to the badlands?” because nobody was with me except maude, and she doesn’t usually respond to my questions. “dude, remember when you sat in the backseat of the car on my coat for three hours?” nothing.

2. my car’s been so good on this trip that i worry it’s deliberately lulling me into a false sense of security. then, when i’m on a small country road with no shoulder and no cell phone reception, BAM! flat tire. busted whatsit. since this occurred to me, i’ve become suspicious of my own car. in gas stations and motel parking lots, i stare at it with narrowed eyes.

3. carhenge!
one last look at carhenge

what a bitch

this morning i took maude to the vet to get her teeth cleaned.  her breath is terrible.  if you’ve ever met maude and stood within smelling distance of her face, then you know.  sometimes when i need to remove my nail polish i just hold my hand up to her face and the fumes peel it right off.  but i’ve gotten used to maude’s breath over the past few years, and am even a bit defensive when others bring it up.  people say “ooh, her breath stinks,” and i think to myself, yeah, yours would too if you grew up in a cage and your owners neglected your dental care for the first four years of your life.  i almost never say that out loud.

when they clean a dog’s teeth, they have to use general anesthesia.  if they didn’t, there would be a lot of vets out there with missing fingers.  so when i took her to the vet, they told me i could pick her up that evening.  i thought about her all day at work — she’s probably getting her teeth cleaned now.  ooh, i bet she’s awake now.  i wonder if she’s okay.  i kept checking my phone to see if the vet had called.  they didn’t call, though, so i figured everything was fine.

and it was fine.  when i got there after work and said i was there to get maude, the lady at the counter said, “oh!  our little sweetie.”  i didn’t tell her that maude’s docile demeanor in these situations isn’t sweet so much as her own personal demonstration of abject terror.

i watched a pug playfully beat up a doberman while they got my invoice ready.  “okay,” the lady said when she came back to the counter, “they did bloodwork and clipped her nails and did her vaccinations, and of course, the dental.  there were ten extractions, but they only charged you for half of them because she’s so sweet.”

“there were what now?” i said.  i figured they’d have to remove some teeth, but i didn’t think it’d be that many.

“they had to take out ten of her teeth.”

“wow,” i said.  “does she have any left?”

she must have assumed it was a rhetorical question, because she didn’t answer it.  “here are some antibiotics for her, so that her mouth doesn’t get infected.  don’t feed her or give her any antibiotics tonight, because she’s probably still nauseous from the anesthesia, but you should start them tomorrow.”

another lady came over, carrying maude with her.  “here you go,” she said, handing her to me.  “she was fast asleep.”  maude felt limp in my arms; her eyes were narrow and glassy, her tongue stuck out just a little.  i put my face up to hers, but she didn’t lick my nose like she usually does.

“she’s mad at me for leaving her here all day,” i said.

when i put maude in the passenger seat of my car, she didn’t stand up or sniff my purse for treats like she usually does.  she stayed seated exactly where i put her, her head hanging.  i hadn’t seen her look so despondent since the first day i brought her home.  for a second i thought that maybe i should have asked if i could keep her teeth.  but what would i do with them?  do people usually keep their pets’ teeth?  would the vet have thought i was weird if i’d asked?  i decided against going back inside.

i stopped for gas on the way home.  when i go to the gas station and maude’s with me, she usually moves to the driver’s seat while i’m outside the car, i think because the seat is warm and it gives her a better view of me.  she likes to make sure i’m not going away, i guess.  after i set the gas pump to fill the tank, i looked through the open driver’s side window to check on her.  i was surprised to see that she’d gotten up and moved to the driver’s seat as usual.  i was even more surprised to see that she was peeing.

“maude!” i said, as if this would make her stop.  of course it didn’t; she kept on peeing, but i’d called her name, so now she was peeing and staring at me.  “dammit!” i said, and went to look for paper towels.  the rows of gas pumps closest to me featured empty paper towel racks, so i had to walk over to the farthest one before i found any.  as i walked back to the car, wad of towels in hand, i saw maude’s little head peeking out over the passenger-side window.

i sopped up the dog pee from my seat while maude stared blankly at me.  she has the most inscrutable stare i’ve ever seen on a dog.  my sister says it’s a worried look, and maybe she’s right, but maude didn’t look worried this time.  she looked relieved.

the vet had given me maude’s medicine in a plastic bag.  i ripped the bag in half, spread it out over the driver’s seat, and sat down gingerly for the ride home.  maude slept the entire way.

later i thought about why she had chosen the driver’s seat to pee in.  people use crates to housetrain their pets because animals don’t urinate or defecate where they sleep or eat.  if you put a dog in a crate, she won’t pee while she’s in it.  this training method didn’t really work for maude — she never peed in her crate, but as soon as you let her out she’d pee right there on the carpet.  to train her i had to take her out often and use lots of treats.

when we go places in the car, maude’s always in the passenger seat, and she usually sleeps most of the way.  so naturally she didn’t pee in the passenger seat.  she peed in the driver’s seat!  where i sit!  if she were human, this would make her incredibly selfish.  but she’s a dog, so i’ll give her a pass, and another pass because she’d just had surgery, and a third pass because i should have let her pee before we got in the car.

the best thing i’ve heard anyone say in at least a week: “your friends are your friends, right?  you love them, and everything else is secondary.”

photos and bitching

some chihulys (chihulies?) in the water

while i was in st. louis for thanksgiving, my parents and i went to see dale chihuly’s glass in the garden at the missouri botanical garden.  i’d seen a chihuly exhibit before, but it wasn’t nearly as expansive as this one.  my dad and i both took a lot of photos, while my mom looked at glass and plants and pointed at things for my dad to photograph.  i think the photos i took are some of the best i’ve ever taken, so i thought i’d share.

(i put up some new jewelry at i like beads, too, which i also thought i’d share.)

some leaves in the water

for the past few months, i’ve been bringing maude to work about once a week.  i ask ellen, the human resources person, for permission a day in advance; she always says yes, but i like to make sure that she knows beforehand and that there won’t be any clients in the office or anything.  on the days i bring maude in, everyone seems happy to see her.  throughout the day people take breaks to come say hi and pet her, and even the people who don’t pet her say “hey, maude,” when they walk by.  the other day one of my coworkers gave maude a dog bed she’d knitted herself.  for her part, maude enjoys the attention, but mostly she likes just sleeping under my desk or sitting quietly in my lap.  to me she’s the perfect office dog: a nice distraction for people who like her, and easy to ignore for those who are indifferent.

(i do, in fact, consider it impossible to not like maude.  anyway i’m not the only person who brings their dog in.  a few other people bring theirs in sometimes, too, but maude’s the only regular.)

today ellen came over to my cubicle to talk to me.  i took off my headphones and she leaned in close and spoke very quietly.  maude didn’t even wake up from her nap.  ellen told me that they’d figured out that the lease our company signed with the building means that i’m not allowed to bring my dog to work.  “i’m really sorry about this,” she said, “but i wanted to tell you in person before i sent an email to everyone.”

“thanks for doing that,” i said.  “i really appreciate it.”

“we’ll miss her,” ellen said.

“do i have to take her home right now?” i asked.

“no, don’t worry about it today,” she said.

after ellen sent the company-wide pet policy email, a lot of people came over to talk about it.  “this sucks,” someone said.  “she was a really nice break from work.”  a fellow chihuahua owner sent me an email:

since you and i are both blind, we should be able to bring our dogs in as seeing-eye chihuahuas, right?

to which i replied:

as a seeing-eye chihuahua, maude would probably just lead me towards expanses of grass, discarded food on the ground, and other dogs’ butts.  i am much less interested in those things than she is.

someone even suggested that we all wear t-shirts that said “TEAM MAUDE.”  at the end of the day, i ran into a coworker as maude and i were walking out the door.  he bent down to pet her, and then he stood up and announced, “maude is leaving the building!”  a few people came over to say goodbye.

“take a look around, maude!”  i said.  “it’s your last day.”  at which point she ran out the door and into the hallway, because she knows that after work is dinnertime.

i made a lot of jokes to hide it, but i’m really disappointed.  that i can’t bring my dog to work isn’t anyone’s fault, and it was a luxury anyway.  but when ellen told me maude couldn’t be there anymore, i very nearly cried.  i couldn’t help it.  i was happy to go to work on maude days; working my tolerable job with a dog in my lap made my job seem, well, tolerable.

as a dog rescued from a puppy mill, maude didn’t always like people.  when i first brought her home, she didn’t even like me.  to see her get comfortable coming to the office, to see her interact with so many people and be okay with it, showed me how very far she’s come since i adopted her two and a half years ago.  after i’d taken her to work with me a few times, she knew where we were when we arrived, and she’d wag her tail as she followed me to my cubicle.  i was so proud of her.  i am proud of her.

as i write this, she’s asleep in her hand-knitted dog bed, and she has the hiccups.  if you haven’t seen chihuahua hiccups, you haven’t seen anything.