Twitter Facebook



The fringe of blonde lashes on her dark-rimmed eyes gets me every time.

Valentine has a new boyfriend

They met by accident. She was summering in the catskills with her family and he was a local boy. Her parents had done everything they could to keep her away from him.

He’s dangerous! They said.

He’ll eat you for dinner!


The first time they met, she was in the garden, playing with her brother. Off to the side of the house she saw him — the one her parents had warned her about. In a heartbeat she was at the fence, baring her teeth and growling. He yawned, placed one paw gently on the fence between them, and wagged his tail.

The day afterwards, as soon as she’d finished her breakfast and  had her morning toilet, she ran out to the garden again. She was looking for him, she had to see him again, she couldn’t help herself.

And there he was! Tall and proud, broad chested and beautiful. Before her mother could call her back, she ran to the fence and leapt into the air, twirled about and landed, her yellow body a happy, belly-up curl on the grass. So this is love!

V and P 1

If you know dogs, then you’ll recognize what Valentine is doing in these photos as a “play-bow”. If you’re into yoga, a play-bow is the position that gave “downward-facing dog” it’s name. It’s basically dog-speak for, “Hi! Wanna play?”

Valentine is the best rat-dog in the world. She really, really is. I can’t imagine a more wonderful, perfect, yellow, rat-dog. But she is a little, yellow, trash-digging, ratty-assed, pound-dog with the attitude to match. When we met her she was practically hairless, stank of pee, had a missing toenail and a broken tooth. She was also super crazy, froth-at-the-mouth, dog aggressive.

Val Portrait

We have spent the last four-and-a-half years training her and socializing her and working with her and we’ve gotten her to a place where she’s usually ok with uber-submissive male dogs who are smaller than her. In the dog park she tries to start fights with any dog even slightly bigger than her. On-leash walks are terrible, every big dog she leaps at takes a year off my life. However, off-leash in any of our city’s beautiful parks (dogs are allowed in many NYC parks everyday from sunrise to 9:00 a.m.), she will generally ignore a bigger dog, as long as it keeps it’s distance from her. Any dog who approaches her from behind gets a faceful of teeth. Not a bite, just a snarling and swinging of the bared teeth.

V and P 2

So when Valentine invited Printer, a dog who is easily five times her size, to play, I was so happy I cried.

Then, since Malamutes are wolf-like dogs with incredibly high prey-drives, I called my friend, who’s dog Printer is, and asked if it would be ok to let him play with my bite-sized rat-like dog. And she said yes, they should be fine, and they were. They were absolutely wonderful.

V and P 3

You’ve come a long way, kid.

(P.S. We pack up our truck three weeks from today. Holy. Sh**.)

Little F*cker

The other night Mike was doing his homework at the bedroom desk while I put together pricebooks* on our bed. Valentine was curled up on the bed, so Theo started doing the thing he does where he bounces around on the floor and pants, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, his face framed by his long and lovely ears. It is both obnoxious and endearing, it is an attention-seeking maneuver from a little dog who’s mama’s been working a lot of long hours and so even though Mike has asked me, over and over again, not to put Theo on the bed, I picked him up and put him on the bed.

Mike has good reasons for asking me not to put Theo on the bed. For one thing, Theo communicates with his urine, meaning, he’s peed in our bed so many times that by now I should know better, I really should. It’s not that he isn’t housetrained, because he is. It’s that he doesn’t speak English, and he has very strong canine opinions that need frequent expressing. But when he starts bouncing and panting my heart goes soft and I give in.

So he’s in the bed, and everyone’s happy. I’m working, Mike’s studying, Valentine is napping and Theo is doing that cute little thing where he burrows under all our pillows and makes a nest for himself. Next he’ll be snoring, I think to myself, as I assemble catalogues. A few minutes go by and he reemerges, snuffling and panting, tail wagging, and he pounces across the bed and starts bouncing in circles all over my assembly line of catalogue material. Pamphlets and pages go flying and, in an effort to save my work, I pick him up and a stream of urine blasts me in the face.

He’s lucky I have good mom-instincts, because instead of dropping him, I placed him carefully in his dog bed on the floor before I started hollering and scratching at my face. I had ripped off my pee-soaked t-shirt and was clearing damp pamphlets off the bed when I noticed Michael, watching in horror.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! You’re right! The dog shouldn’t be on the bed!”
“There’s pee all over the comforter.” His face was so grim you’d have thought I’d just peed in the bed. For fun.
“It’s just a dribble and it’s on my side and I’ll wash it tomorrow. I promise.”

He nodded and went back to his essay on human genome patents. And then I discovered that all that snuffling under the pillows? When I thought Theo was burrowing and getting cozy? He peed. He squatted like a girl and peed all over our pillows and then he peed in my face.

It’s a good thing he’s so pretty.

Lil' F*cker

*for the job where I sell dog food.

St. Paddy’s Wiener

*No animals were intoxicated during the making of this post.*

St. Paddy Wiener

St Patricks Wiener

St Pattys Wiener

St Patricks Day

beer goggles

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all of us at A Serious Girl.

(Watch out for the beer goggles.)

Guilty As Charged

Valentine and Theo are, without a doubt, the center of the universe as far as Mike and I are concerned.   Our daily lives revolve around whether the dogs have pooped and whether or not they’ve had enough exercise.  We worry that they’re too cold or that they haven’t had enough to eat.  We delight in seeing their little faces whenever we walk in the front door and we love bringing home new treats for them.  Mike teases that the way I mother them is dangerous because there was a point when Theo gained too much weight and it was because, in my worry that he wasn’t eating enough, I overfed him until he gained an extra two pounds.  Two pounds might not sound like much, but two pounds on a Dachshund is like fifty pounds on a person.   I’d been over-feeding Valentine as well, but that bitch* could eat her weight in chocolate and not gain an ounce.   Theo, on the other hand, has a slow metabolism and because his back is so long, extra weight could put stress on his spine that could cause fractures and then he’d be paralyzed and if he survived it would surely cost us a million dollars in vet bills.  It’s a serious thing when Dachshunds get fat and so that is why my mothering is deadly.  And that was a long story for a short point:   The dogs are my practice babies.

Last night, after we’d put the dogs to bed in their crates, brushed our teeth, washed our faces, and curled up with an episode of Law & Order, a long, low howl reverberated from the living room.  It was followed by a sharp succession of ear-piercing ruffs.  This has been Theo’s bedtime routine for the last four nights. He waits until we are in bed with the lights off and then he starts in with a howl followed by barking.

“Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!”
“Why is he doing that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!”
“What should we do?”
“Ignore it.”
“Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!”
“Is he trying to tell us something?”
“He’s trying to tell us he’d rather be sleeping in our bed, but that’s not how it works, so he’s going to have to get over it.”
“Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!”

The baby books say to let Baby cry for fifteen minutes and, if after fifteen minutes, Baby has not put himself back to sleep, Mother may go in and comfort him.  So that’s what we did.   We let him “Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!” and after about thirteen and a half minutes he stopped ruffing.  As soon as he was quiet I whispered:

“I seriously don’t know what we’re waiting for.”
“You can’t leave a baby in a crate when you go to work.”

They’re practice babies.  It sounds kind of awful, but it’s true.   I’ve never in my entire life loved something small and furry the way I love those little dogs.   Every day I am amazed that I have enough love in my body to love them but every day it’s there and it’s bigger.  I hear people say that about their kids all the time and I am sure that the way people love their kids is at the very least one hundred times more than the way I love my dogs.  Does that mean that when I have children I won’t have room to love my dogs anymore?  A staggering number of perfectly wonderful dogs and cats are given up every year because their owner has a new baby and just can’t deal with them anymore.  It must be very frustrating to have a new baby at home and have your dog suddenly start humping the coffee table, peeing on the sofa cushions and chewing bald spots into his fur.  At least I imagine that’s what’s going on when someone decides to get rid of the dog now that they have a baby.  Or maybe it’s just that now you have a baby and two other baby-like things that aren’t actually babies and your priorities change.  I have no idea.  But the whole thing makes me nervous.  What will they do when I have a baby?

Let’s take a little tour of my writing chair…


Well hello, Valentine!  So you’re the reason why I can’t sit back and get comfortable.  Aren’t you a little chair-hog?


And here’s Theo, curled up behind Valentine.  He’s an even bigger chair-hog than his sister.

My hope is that when we have children the dogs will come to see the babies as precious pack members that must be fussed over and adored and protected from danger.  Like the way Chip, my cousin’s five-year-old four-pound Chihuahua, came to see her new baby:


If we are that lucky, it is then my hope that our children will come to love the dogs as if they were treasured little old great-grandparents to be treated with gentle hands, quiet voices and adoring hearts.  After all, by the time our children are old enough to know Valentine and Theo, the dogs will most likely be just that:  Little old incontinent doglets with stinky breath, grumping and gurgling and leaving strings of slobber behind when they kiss you good morning.

*bitch [bi*ch] (noun):  female dog, wolf, fox or otter.