The infraction: a loaf of fresh zucchini bread swiped from the center of the kitchen table (no witnesses) on Monday evening, mostly gulped on the spot, partly noshed into a spread of rough-crumbled odds and ends. This, just minutes after D. and I left for dinner at Seva; Ph. called to tell us, "Y. got it. He got the bread."
Does Y. know today is his fifth birthday?
Our errand into the snowscape--a 72-hour "vacation" in Syracuse--is over, just a bunch of fading tire tracks left in the brine and melt-off along I-90. This excursion was strange and unexpected, a short-planned trip to CNY to retrieve Yoki from his once-adoptive now-reluctant family. Remember Yoki?
We'd quietly parted ways with him in July after arranging for him what we thought would be a happy and permanent situation. No need to re-rationalize why we gave him up when we did, now that he's back. But the top three reasons were 1) renting in new town, 2) Child One heading off to college, 3) Child Two young enough to forget, 4) high-needs dog, 5) no fenced yard at new digs, and so on.
Only, Is. didn't forget. In fact, she proceeded to mention him every single day for five months as if she knew all along he would return. Just before sitting down to supper: "God bless Yoki on his play date in New York." For five months. A three-year old's determinative rhetoric rooted in repetition, memory (i.e., memory cast as an image onto the future), and an unwavering pre-purposeful innocence: these turned out to be highly effective, at least in this case (were she asking for a pony, perhaps it would have been less so). We began to wonder about Yoki's return, too.
In early November, on a hunch, I tried to contact the new owner but reached a disconnected number. I dug around a bit more and eventually found her name on Facebook, friended her, and sent a short note saying we were just curious how things were going, happy holidays, and so on. Five days later, I received in reply a thorough breakdown of how persistent, how egregious Y.'s behaviors had become.
Next thing I know, I'm driving 500-miles along the snowy road to Syracuse. And as of midnight last night, we're safely home from the trip, the bulk of winter break snow-driving is behind us (only a jaunt to Okemos to pick up D. and Is. later this afternoon still on the list of drives).
I've mentioned before that Yoki's name comes from Musyoki, a Kikamba word meaning "one who returns." When Ph. and D. visited Kenya in 2005, Ph. was dubbed "musyoki" by friends he made on that trip. A year later when we picked up a puggle puppy just before Is. was born, Yoki seemed like a suitable name, a good choice. And now that he is back again after his five month "play date in New York" the name seems more appropriate than it did before, as if "Yoki" fitted him to an entelechy Is. understood better than the rest of us.
I've decided I won't include a personal photo with my dossier during the upcoming (er, is it really October already?...) in-progress job search. However, if I was going to include a photo, it would have to be one of the following. Maybe #7.
We snapped these few shots using the camera's auto-timer back in 2006 when 1.) I apparently had time on my hands and 2.) academic photos with pets (appearing in places like conference programs) was more fashionable than at any other time before or since1. Y. and I agree that if we had it to do over again, he would sit still and look at the camera.
1 This is an intuitive guess, a hunch. I do not have any data whatsoever to establish the frequencies of "with pet" photos of academics in any conference program.
We are still working on diversifying Yoki's poses. In the meantime, I had this terrific photo of him getting ready to smear his nose print on the camera lens, but the flash reflected his eyes at their demonic green eeriest.
Lo and behold, there are tutorials for such things, and thus I was able, in a few easy steps, to adjust the pet eye (obviously, anthropocentrism abounds in the default red eye correction tools)
Yes, I know. You are wondering why, if I have time for "pet eye" correction, I am not back to blogging as usual. Soon, soon, soon (which might somehow or other add up to never again): Watson is nearly drafted, C. 6 (el fin) is well underway, and so on and so on. Plus, remember that this is not far from the usual fare around here.
No, that it's a "corn starch" form-molded peanut-butter-gravy bone does not lessen the primal ferociousness with which Y. takes up that task of grinding it into small bits.
Y. enthusiastically eats a dish (appr. 2/3 cup) of Nutro Natural Choice Chicken Meal, Rice & Oatmeal Formula for Sensitive Stomachs every morning at 7:15 a.m. and every evening at 5:30 p.m. His food comes in a green bag. Soon we will convert him to one feeding daily. As you might recall, Y. is not a grazer; he must not be allowed to have constant access to his food or he will consume it until just beyond capacity.
Yesterday's reference to "photos and only photos": an unnecessary constraint. After all, Y., too, lives in an age of moving pictures, videocy, extra special effects, etc.
Today I am thinking about posting photos of Y. and only photos of Y. to the blog for the next several months. The Y. Photo-Chronicle Project: 180 days of Y. in the bath, Y. getting his nails trimmed, Y. chasing squirrels, Y. licking this and that, Y. chewing sticks, Y. sniffing at the grill, Y. dashing into the kitchen to mooch in the corners for crumbs, Y. smiling for the camera. And then, after I am caught up with grading, finished with my "media rich" Watson presentation, done-done-done with job file preparations, and after Ph. has graduated high school, Is. is fully potty trained, D. has dashed through what remains for the M.A., and there are no more groceries to buy, no more errands to run, no more emails flooding the inbox, then usual blogramming may resume. Until then, that's a helluva cute dog, no?
Imagine a scenario in which Yoki hallucinates that he is Maya and that he must rescue Is. from the sub-zero blizzard conditions by melting the entire drift (three feet from the back door of the house) with his pug-sized tongue. I was not present at this scene earlier today, but by all reports neither of these two were long for this outdoor play session. Still, I have to admire Y.'s courage (his thirst!) and add that Is. appears in her winter get-up to be better prepared for the cold weather than I am.
Y. overdid it last evening, ransacked his food stash until he was sickly engorged. We aren't able to give a good estimate of just how much he ate, but it was considerably more than the usual helping.
Another dog, Tony, is my gauge for crises like this one. T. was the dog whose company I enjoyed when I was in high school and college. I'd seen him eat overmuch a few times before. With my fading memory of T.'s full-rounded stomach as my guide, I guessed that Y. would be okay. Y.'s about the same size, anyway, and even though he's not as seasoned at gluttony as T. was, I'm fairly sure he'll survive this event.
I hadn't planned on blogging tonight about the swelling in Y.'s face, almost certainly the side-effect (i.e., allergic reaction) from his annual vaccinations at the veterinarian early this morning. I hadn't planned on mentioning it because, until 9 p.m. when Ph. took Y. outside for a routine moonlight relief tour, Y. was fine--his usual yippy self. But then poof! My oh my, how his face filled out, his lips and cheeks all rounded and puffy, his eyes sunken. Still, he's spry, lively, acting okay besides his new look, which we are obviously quite concerned about. His normal breathing, energy, and appetite are reassuring.
I called the emergency vet. And then I called a friend who knows all (practical, sensible, and affordable) things veterinary to help us decide just how critical Y.'s condition is. I fed him a Benadryl (25mg of dyphenhydramine) and will watch throughout much of the night for signs of worsening, for any right-sliding readout on the Y.A.R.I. If he passes the Shar-Pei, I'll load him into the car and pony up for emergency medical treatment at the all-night clinic. If not, I'll settle still more comfortably into my expectation that he's going to be a-okay.
Addendum (8:30 a.m.): A new day for the dog: he's fine. When I checked on him at 4:30 a.m., I was tempted to remind him that Snoopy never got all puffy and sickly from his vaccinations.
Depending on whether you count a dog's age by the Roman calendar or by the Relative-Life-Expectancy-of-a-Canine calendar, Yoki is either one or seven today. Either way, we're having a good time of it with extra scratches behind the ears (Y. gets some of these, too) and more free time than usual for frolicking around the house. For dinner, homemade chicken cordon bleu pizza w/ green olives added, like we used to get at Minsky's.
Of course, for more than one or two reasons, 2007 has been a lousy year for poor Y. so far. His comic, if he had one, would be called Y. The Last Dog (not because he's like Vertigo's Yorick but rather because he may very well be the last dog). I've mentioned before that when the temps dip below freezing (um, most every day in CNY), his beagly senses go all to hell. Plus, the throw-up problem was only recently corrected (we, uh, think so, anyway). The Syracuse winter, let's just say, is especially hard for a puppy. But then, just look at how cute he is (I tried to get him to tuck away those wild teeth, but he insisted on shocking the camera with a grin). Good dog, Yoki.
It's been an especially barfy week around the EWM home. Weak stomach? Probably best you stop reading here. I'll come up with another post before long that will be safe for the queasy and squeamish.
Thing is, I woke up Tuesday morning to find that Yoki had produced an unusually large and solids-loaded mound of puke. It's unpleasant, sure, but common enough and not so eventful that I bothered anyone else in the house with the news (no elated "Come see this!"). But there were three large hunks of solid matter in and around the smelly and soft acids and foodstuff soaking into his over-priced foam pillow. Recognizable solid matter: three pieces of Nylabone flexible pooch pacifiers. Uncanny. I was stumped. Y. hadn't chewed any of those in more than two months.
It must have been Ph. He'd had opportunity to grab one of the remaining Nylabones from the Value Pack--3 Chew Bones (Offre Exceptionnelle, says the package) and give it to Y. the night before. I was sure it was Ph. So sure, in fact, that I asked him about it when he arrived home from school, prepared for the more or less regular standoff and inevitable grounding. "I know you did it, because I did not." But Ph. stood firm, arguing with impressive poise that he had nothing to do with the unusual by-products thrown up by Y. He was so resolved about his innocence, in fact, that he baited me with the possible punishments, as in go ahead, ground me, I didn't do it. But we have proof! What about the proof?! Y., who remains crated for the most part, couldn't have gotten his paws on a bone by himself. Not possible.
I called the vet: "Is it possible for a young dog to keep three chunks of Nylabone in his stomach for more than two months." It was the veterinary assistant. She put me on hold while she asked the doctor, then came back to give me an unhelpful answer: "No, he would have evacuated them before now." Oy. Okay. Unheimlich, unheimlich.
I was on campus Wednesday and bumped into dog-owning friends. One offered this wise insight: "Read the package. I don't think they're supposed to eat those." Here's what the package says, in part:
Different dogs have different chewing styles, even with the same breed--one may be a strong chewer and another more gentle, preferring a softer chew. Bristles raised during chewing can help clean teeth and the cleaning action helps control plaque and tartar build up. This chew is not consumable, but small shavings (no larger than a grain of rice) should pass through. Replace when knuckles are worn down. If dissatisfied, return product with receipt to Nylabone for refund or replacement. Please read enclosed Guidelines for Use before using.
I went back to the scene and the evidence, double-bagged in ziplocs in case a vet appointment was necessary. I begrudgingly re-examined the bits and found that all three were knuckles. Nylabone knuckles. Remnants of more than one bone. The vet must've been wrong (perhaps because s.he didn't know what sort of bone I was referring to). Ph. was cleared of all allegations. Here Yoki'd been toting those chunks of "inert soft thermoplastic polymer with natural flavor" around in his stomach for several several weeks.
What will we do with the third bone in the value pack (the remainder, liver flavor)? I'm not sure. But I'm relieved that this turmoil has ended, that Y.'s poor stomach is Nylabone knuckle free, and that I'm the only one to blame for only half-way reading the instructions on a package of dog bones.
Before Saturday night, I'd never played Katamari Damacy. In Datacloud and again in "Katamari Interface," I read about the princely roller pushing the tacky (magnetic?) ball through the game's byways, gaining in things, some strategic, many accidental. All of them counted, catalogued. They're persistent in my own Katamari-like memory, the projects I mention, their framing of Katamari Damacy as an installment of the database logic implicit in much digital writing. Like toaster ovens placed enigmatically in the middle of the street (what's that doing there?), Katamari logics have joined the clump that is my plan for WRT302 this fall, too.
Speaking of stickiness (or glue), I've been walking Y. most days lately. Mornings. We've jogged, too, but whether or not I'm jogging, he walks, mocking me and my slow, laborious pace. Puppies are voracious collectors; Y., particularly so. He aggregates the street, its detritus, its unseen flavors. Leeches miscellany: cig. butts, sticks, wilderberries, leaves, wrappers, styrofoam bits, and so on. This gets at the deep tension in our relationship (Dr. Phil, Y. takes into his mouth every tiny speck of crap and debris in reach!). He's learning "drop." It's a sweeter lesson since he's come to understand that I'm not afraid to dig my fingers into the dark depths of his kibble-pipe to retrieve the salivascraps rather than have him ingest them for good. Back to the point of what I was getting at: Y. is a collector.
The other morning a neighbor who we don't know was repairing one of the two Hyundai Accents parked in his driveway. The hatchback trim lining the interior (the car's ceiling) appeared to have come loose, fallen in. On the away-route, our first pass, the repair was just underway. The man was placing pillows in the back window of the car and, oddly enough, propping empty beer bottles (green ones--Rolling Rock?) to close the gap. He was improvising a stabilization system from the whatever-at-hand lying around the place. Bricolage auto repair. The mouths of the beer bottles would apply pressure from the bottom side to the damaged trim, which, now held with Gorilla Glue, would be suspended long enough to dry, hold. Y. and I walked on by (curious, but trying not to gawk). Added when we passed back by on the way home: duct tape.
Our course is just 1.6 miles. Roughly one mile into the walk, there's a hill. The down-slope is where Y. lifted his favorite toy of all time: a cracked tennis ball, pre-chewed by another dog. Found it in the street. Unethical to let him keep it? Nah. It's a tennis ball. We see one or two per week along the route, often in the drain gutters. So I let Y. keep the ball, and we carry it on subsequent walks, although he doesn't actually get to play with it--going leash-wild--until we're a mile into the walk, until we reach cut-up hill. Cut-up because the ball is hacked. The tear helps him grab it and keep it held. Cut-up because Y. goes ape-ass wild just to have it in his clutches. With the ball, he bounds recklessly into yards and into the street again, taking the leash to its limits. And them I reel him in. "Drop." (Often I have to take it from him). Loop.
Katamari walking. The street as inquiry. Don't know what we'll find, but let's walk. And then there's a guy using beer bottles to repair his Hyundai. Minutes later, duct tape. Another time (and for weeks), we find a tattered Formula 409 bottle, an oxymoron of cleaner as filth. Next, two small boys positioning plums where tires are most likely to mash them, then scurrying to hide behind a shrub--a stripe of jam, perpledicular to the street.
Collection and annotation. These are the emphases in Sirc's "box-logic" essay in WNM. I'll be teaching it alongside Katamari logics (pieces from those above) in a few weeks. WRT302 starts Monday.
Despite warnings, we ventured into the park, careful to avoid anything that might be mistaken for a "no dogs-with-blue-collars" area.
After protracted deliberations, we have arrived at a proper name for the new pup: Yoki. It's a slice of musyoki, "one who stays" or "one who returns" in Kikamba; also the nickname Ph. picked up in Kamanzi last summer. Associates, to a degree, with Hopi for "rain" and, also, a small flub by one of our name researchers had us thinking it went along with Japanese for "snow" and "lucky." But then we learned the Japanese word was actually "yuki." So?
To seal the deal, we weeded out support from Googlism:
yoki is attentive
yoki is recovered
yoki is probably the most soft
yoki is born from hearts and minds
yoki is the child of Billy Bob Casino and Lori
yoki is in front of his line of fire
yoki is more than just a horse
yoki is the super
yoki is standing to one side
yoki is near
yoki is planning to build up supply
I admit to altering the "child of" bit because, well, we have that information. That's right. Yoki's folks, in West Plains, Mo., are really called Billy Bob Casino and Lori.
Now, to teach the kid a few tricks.
Today in flora and fauna:
Above: Cleared out spaces adjacent to the lilac bush. Ph. and I then built up 12-15 hills and planted zucchini, yellow squash and watermelon
Above: Four tomato plants here along with a jalapeno, green bell pepper and another watermelon hill. It's messy because I cut the grass after Ph. and I spent about two hours weeding, digging/hoeing and planting.
Above: Androids holding flower pots.
Above: Our new pet.
Above: Here charging at the camera with Ph. using the leash to restrain him.
And until we come up with something, he's Mister Needs-a-name. Ideas?