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Play Outside: The Remote Control

13 Jun

Unconditional love. Parents say to their children, “I love you no matter what.”  Then later clarify, typically following a bout of bad behavior, “I love you, I don’t love your behavior.”  At one point or another during childhood (and lets face it…adulthood), everyone tests the spectrum of that statement.

You may have been caught clutching the Sharpie amidst your reenactment of Harold and The Purple Crayon, testing the limits of the mysterious porcelain fixture that consumes dead goldfish and whatever else you could toss down there, or tossing a few of those “big kid” words you gathered from eavesdropping on late-night television.

It may be a distant memory now, and whether you tested your ninja skills on the metal blinds or thought your little sister looked better with bangs, we all can remember that one moment when your handful of years flashed before your eyes and left us with the thought…will they still love me?  To a five-year-old this is a legitimate fear; and, if you were like me, classified as having a “wonderful” or “overactive” imagination-depending on what kind of adult you are, this fear involved an artful conglomeration of every fairytale involving wayward child, mixed with a Radio Flyer and setting up camp in the twisty slide at the playground.

If you have been reading my posts about Hank, and knowing that we haven’t passed him off on some unsuspecting dog-lover, it’s obvious that we love him unconditionally.  And up until this incident, most of his mischief has been easily forgivable and typically laughable.  Knock on wood.  

You see, when Michael picked Hank out of a litter of eleven, they developed some kind of secret code…

…that they still use all the time.


And despite Hank’s love of destruction, we still love him no matter what.  But if Hank could talk, he might recall the moment Michael came through the front door, as when his stretch of memories flashed before his eyes.


This was a rather intricate demolition.

More specifically this is the remote for the BluRay player.  We don’t have cable, so Netflix, watching movies and streaming from is solely the purpose of having a TV.  I came  home to find Michael, a devoted movie lover, camped on the floor next to the fallen entertainment soldier and researching a replacement remote…and furious that Sony did not offer an overnight shipping option.

Hank, who had already been scolded, was sulking in his bed.

He may have been sulking for the “bad dog” talk, but I’m pretty confident that this particular prey was not without premeditation.  The remote sits on the coffee table or above the TV, within a paws reach, as it has for Hank’s entire life.  But on this day he decided the remote was just too smug: lounging there on the table, casually awaiting when Michael would come home and it would lure his attention with it’s glowing blue buttons.  Aided by the comfy couch and squishy pillows, a long day at work and narrow window of daylight; the fleeting hours of playtime outside could be lost if the right cocktail of comfiness won out.

Hank, with images of swimming holes, hiking trails and the dog park, decided to destroy the plastic lynchpin of his nemesis.  And as an added bonus, rubber buttons and electronic motherboards make for a very interactive toy.

But, like you were forgiven for playing DaVinci with your Mother’s lipstick, or when crystal was tagged “out” during a harmless game of indoor dodgeball…Hank was forgiven for destroying the remote.  Hank and Michael: unconditionally in love, and back to normal in no time…

Human Translation:  Play outside.  Computers, iPads, smartphones, Netflix and more, are all fun toys that keep us inside on the couch.   And although we are good at getting outdoors to hike, swim and play…sometimes after a long day at work a little fresh air may take a little more motivation, but bring a bigger payoff.  We are lucky to be surrounded by so many fun outdoor activities, getting outside and enjoying them can be just as relaxing as lounging around with movies.

As for Hank, his list of favorite things makes it so difficult to pinpoint one favorite: eating food containing “sweet potato & fish,” being petted by four hands at once, playing with Alta, sleeping in a fleece nest, treats, toys and everything in between…but something tells me if he had the capacity for logic & reasoning, Hank’s favorite thing would look like this:















Winning Isn’t Everything: The Skateboard.

3 Jun

Up until now I’ve posted about a few of Hank’s many conquests, his bossy yet poised sister Alta and a few throwback tales from his “younger” days.  But today, the target in his crosshairs of destruction decided to fight back…and Hank lost.

Some days, Hank treks with Michael to the skydiving office, located at the airport.  Opposed to his usually relaxing days spent lounging on the couch at home, or recreational days at the dog park or hiking trails…these days at the office are very busy for Hank.

His tasks include, but OF COURSE are not limited to:

  1. Security:  Airports are very busy.  Hank is in charge of monitoring who is driving, walking, scootering, running, skateboarding or golf-carting around the office.  Considering he is stationed at a skydiving company, there is a constant stream of enthusiastic customers and their families in and out the door.  Each patron has to be properly inspected, sniffed out for good intentions and given proper clearance to get within a leash length of his Dad.  Note: “proper clearance” can and will be revoked if adequate petting, ear scratching and excessive doting comments are not maintained.  
  2. Babysitter:  Around the corner from the office door there is another office owned by an airplane upholstery company.  It is run by a very nice family, who just happened to adopt a Chihuahua-Labrador mix.    Weighing in at a whopping 3 lbs, Max is a whole lot of sass and based on the amount of taunting directed at Hank, enjoys getting the “big dummy on the leash” jealous of his free reign and lack of restraints.
  3. Ambassador: Many first time skydivers are both nervous and excited about the jump from a perfectly good airplane.  Jokes are told, music and movies are played in the office, all to ease the tension and nerves of those a little more nervous than excited.  But no matter how sweaty your palms or soprano your voice, nobody can resist the hapless, lovable, snuggly Hank-face.  He puts people at ease and distracts them from their impending “leap” of faith; but, there’s no such thing as a free lunch…the cost of your comfort is paid in lots of head rubs and belly scratches.
  4. Anti-Ambassador:  Although Hank does lots of good work in easing the nerves of customers, all his efforts, despite their good intentions, are not always well received.  Many skydiving students and their families are visiting the Los Angeles area from faraway lands, and sometimes those faraway cultures are not as dog-friendly as ours.  In these cases, Hank’s bumbling approach…tongue slung out the side of this mouth, tail wagging wildly…is met with screams, arms waving and jumping for higher ground.  Put yourself in Hank’s paws: take out the knowledge of English and universal body language, common sense and communication skills.  What do you have? Playtime.
  5. Stealing lunches, and lunch scraps: Duh.
  6. Exercise coordinator: The patch of grass on airport property, where Hank is permitted to frolic during the day, is about 100 yards from the office door.  Hank is not yet, nor ever will be, well-behaved enough to take himself to the grass…and therefore requires some supervision. This back-and-forth a few times a day lends some sunshine and exercise time to parties on both ends of the leash.  Two birds, one stone.
  7. Barricade:  Hank’s favorite place to sit in the office (when no laps are available) is in front of the door.  Whether this is to maintain tight security or for the nice breeze through the cracks around the door, it definitely makes sure nobody gets by without pay their dues to the troll under the bridge.
  8. Deputy Sheriff: On the other side of the office is a large hanger housing the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue bright-yellow helicopters.  They frequently take off and land throughout the day and because of the close proximity, generate lots of noise and wind.  Upon takeoff and landing, Hank barks relentlessly and the helicopters and their occupants.  Paying no mind to their intimidating helmets and uniforms, or the incredible din that overpowers his bark completely, Hank firmly stands his ground and alerts all around him that a helicopter is moving, under his orders.
Now, to today.  Hank went to work with Michael and began carrying out his duties as usual.  He can listen to airplanes take off all day, helicopter blades that drown out all other noises, engines revving up when the Porshe club is around but there is one thing on the airport that Hank will not tolerate.  Skateboards.
Skateboards are used by the skydiving staff to get around the airport quickly.  There are three or four that sit in the office for general use and while immobile, propped against the wall, are not at all threatening to Hank.  However, once they are wheel’s-down and that first push is made, Hank and the moving skateboard are at war.  Hank was outside as a jumper hopped on the skateboard to cruise across the parking lot.  He immediately bolted after the zooming skateboard and began biting at the back wheels.  What we can only assume were Hank’s attempts to stop and destroy the skateboard, failed…miserably.
No bloody mess, or rush to the emergency veterinarian…just one very startled, embarrassed little Hank puppy with three bright-white tiger stripes on the side of his nose.  Missing some hair and whiskers (the effect on his already lacking balance, to be determined), Hank looks a little like a dog dressed as a cat for Halloween, and a lot like a dog that lost a fight with a rolling skateboard.
He doesn’t seem to have any pain, except to his ego.  But that’s not stopping him from soaking up the extra attention.
And practicing his “pitiful” face.
…and it works.
Finally, something Hank could not eat; except a course of proverbial humble pie.  Hopefully he will be wary of moving skateboards, and think twice about doing more than barking from a distance…but who knows?
Human Translation:  Take the high road.  You’re able to withstand the gridlocked traffic on your daily commute, the barista that smiles and writes your name diligently on someone else’s cup, the ins and outs of a stressful job and a neighbor that thinks your backyard is her recycling bin.  Despite your patience and acute ability to not sweat the small stuff on a regular basis, there is one particular thing that makes your blood boil.  It’s probably trivial: maybe the tone in which a coworker answers the phone, a lady at your gym that insists on a professional blowout and Hollywood makeup regime for 7a.m. yoga or the moviegoer “whispering” on their cellphone during the movie.  These things are annoying.  And once in awhile a perfect storm arises, where they occur at the end of “one of those days” at the moment when you’ve had just enough…at that point, throwing a piercing glare or reliving your 7th-grade spit-ball champion years with a few kernels of buttery popcorn is just the ticket to turn that day around.  But on all the other days in the year, let it go.  Take the high road, chances are these icing-on-the-cake annoyances aren’t on anyone else’s radar, and if you try and bite the wheels by making a big deal, you’ll end up with tiger stripes on your face too.

Destroy a Spatula. Everyday.

28 Mar

This is Hank’s toy box…

He has an array of dog toys from bouncy balls, soft & squishy jungle animals, Nylabones, SnuggaWubbas and everything in between.  So when we left to meet friends for dinner, having put away all of the food and recycling, we figured he would be able to keep himself busy…if he wasn’t too busy napping after an exhausting romp at the dog park.

We were wrong, again.  Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Sure, it may look as if leaving Hank alone at home is insanity, but in our defense…we do try and alter our actions and “beef up security” before leaving him to his own devices.  It just so happens his curiosity is far more expansive than we can hope to anticipate; therefore, now we close the door, hope for the best and maybe at the worst…laugh about it later.

So this is what we found when we got home…

This came off the drying rack next to the sink, about 5ft off the ground.  Whether it was the chewy plastic challenge, the slapping noise it made on the floor or the fact that it could be swung around viciously…it was extremely fun to play with and Hank had a good time.  But it wasn’t quite enough…

This was a very recent purchase for the upcoming gardening I had planned, but more importantly as a means of washing the dogs after they mud, tar and feather themselves with sticks, leaves, bugs and whatever else they can find while hiking.  Somehow, even though the helpless garden sprayer was sitting inconspicuously in the Lowe’s bag on the floor (“on the floor” being the cardinal mistake this evening) Hank was onto it’s vicious intentions of future bathing and cleanliness, and had to take matters into his own paws…destroy the evil garden sprayer before it could destroy his hard-earned efforts of filthiness.  And he was successful.  This garden sprayer, robbed of its hose attachment, grip handle and adjustable pressure ring, would never be used for dog baths, watering a garden or otherwise.

Human Translation-Garden Sprayer: Stand up for yourself.  Whether it’s protecting the dirt caked in your paws from miles of hard trails traveled, throwing your hat in the ring for a job promotion or swapping out your poor excuse for “me time” with an actual bit of relaxation…remember to take care of yourself.  Priorities will swap and rearrange countless times during a lifetime, but since we only get one, it’s good to keep yourself and your sanity towards the upper echelons of the list.

Human Translation-Spatula: Remember being silly is okay, and always try and have a little fun.  Destroying a spatula has a very simple translation; it’s completely unproductive, silly and useless…but for Hank, it was tons of fun.  For us with opposable thumbs, it’s belting out a Top 40 hit in the car, dancing wildly while vacuuming or doing whatever drums up that ab-crunching, tear bringing laughter.  So everyday, destroy a spatula (at least once).