Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Serpent's Tooth

More from the Dogstory Vault – this one from spring 2002.

My title comes from Shakespeare’s King Lear:
“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is, to have a thankless child!”

Billie (now at 12 weeks) is our first real experience with parenting puppyhood – Marley was 6 months old when we got him and although he was a big challenge to us for the next year and a half (and chewed things ranging from our underwear to kitchen curtains to AA batteries), we probably avoided a few of the less-cute developmental stages.

Billie is more aggressively playful (paw-swipey and mouth-y) than I remember Marley being but she’s still small enough and has a short enough attention span that so far, her toothful attentions are not too destructive – she might put her mouth on the corner of the coffee table, a ledge of the fireplace brick, or corner of the back doormat but we usually yell at her in time to stop major damage. So far she prefers to swipe and bite at us (she thinks we’re puppies too and we’re not well enough versed in dog training premises that we know how to disabuse her of this) instead of destroying household property.

I soon learned though that I couldn’t do my stretching exercises with her in the room – as soon as she saw me prone (lower than herself), she was dive-bombing my arms, my legs, basically any part of me that was moving, and trying to dominate me. It was really funny one day when Marley joined the action – Billie was trying to “dominate” me and Marley was trying to dominate Billie. A less than 10-pound dog hanging on my leg (I was wearing thick sweatpants) was kind of a pleasant exercise weight, but a 30-pound on top of the 10-pound dog climbing on my lower back was too much – I had to laugh, the “dogpile” concept was just too ridiculous.

When Craig and I are around the house, we’re usually wearing jeans or sweatpants and we just bat or brush Billie aside if she attacks our legs. So I had no idea what she could do to thinner fabric – until my second day back at work, when I walked through the living room in my new pants, fully dressed and accessorized with belt, loafers, etc. I had found these pants on sale at Mervyn’s and had spent $10 having them hemmed for my short height - I had made a mad dash to the dry cleaners in the rain the night before to pick them up after being altered, I was anxious to have a new outfit to help motivate me to get re-acclimated to my old job. (In fact, the guy at the dry cleaners had told me the pants would be ready on Monday, which was either a happy-lie or a Chinese-English miscommunication, so that I ended up making consecutive two trips to pick up the damn pants.)

I’m always challenged by the whole alteration exercise – usually I leave pants too long or have them hemmed too short. Somehow with these Mervyn’s pants I had figured out the exact right length – it helped that I took the time the week before to prewash/shrink them, and I also remeasured the pants’ inseam several times, comparing it to other pants of mine to be sure I was having the pants altered the correct length. When I put these pants on Tuesday morning, I was excited to see they were actually a flattering length – I felt my time/money/effort had paid off and I actually had an office-worthy outfit (I feel that frequently I push the boundaries of what is casual/sloppy and what is appropriate).

Well, as I walked through the living room on my way to pick up my purse/work bag and go to my car to drive to work – Billie playfully wrapped herself around my leg and I immediately heard a loud ripping sound. If she analyzed these things, she would have probably have been as surprised as I was by how much damage her little teeth (my dad calls them “milk teeth” in the country way) could do to a thin fabric – which, hilariously, was a black and white HOUND’S TOOTH (jagged check) design. I yelled at Billie and lightly bopped her on her soft head (she of course was unfazed) but there was nothing else I could do other than to change my outfit.

Tuesday was a bad clothes day for me in general – that night I was sorting dirty laundry in my walk-in closet and somehow rolled the closet door over a sleeve of a Land’s End shirt (my nicest/newest long-sleeved white t-shirt) – I’m not sure how? but both sides of the sleeve received oily stripes, meaning that even the sleeve if rolled up the stains will show (detergent and stain products haven’t made a dent). In the white shirt scenario, I do accept some blame (unlike the Billie serpent-tooth pants situation) since on Tuesday night I was drinking beer and doing laundry while simultaneously checking voice mails/emails/paying bills etc., maybe a little too much going on.

I hated to spend more money in having the hole patched, but I had already bought the pants and paid to have them altered…plus my office has a casual dress policy and my coworkers are used to me looking a little different so I thought maybe I could get away with patched pants. I took these back to the dry cleaners, hoping for the best – when I picked up the pants I was shocked to see that they had used gray thread for the patch? but I guess since the fabric was black and white check the tailor thought this would be the best compromise.

While I was waiting for the patching to be done, I went back to Mervyn’s (against Craig’s advice, which was kind of a comment on “throwing good money after bad” and/or being my usual obsessive/compulsive self) and looked on the sale rack again – there were no more black and white houndstooth pairs in my size, but there was a darker-fabric version. I hadn’t bought the darker pair before because I didn’t like them – now I was compelled to “make right” the Mervn’s pants situation so I did buy them, meaning I now had two pairs, both of which needed altering, and one of which had been ripped and needed a patch.

I picked up the shortened darker pants the same day as the gray-patched pant, and I was definitely nervous walking through the house in them (thinking maybe I should pull on my pants in our garage from now on?, with a shut door between myself and Billie?) but actually Billie seemed to have no interest in this pair.

I was still looking for a way to wear the original hound’s-tooth pair, but the gray-thread patch really was not attractive and since it was on the front of a leg, all too obvious. I came up with the idea of buying an iron-on patch?, maybe a black and white flower? to put over the patch, and when I had an opportunity I went to JoAnn Fabrics to look around. Their Appliques display was rather skimpy, meaning most of the good stuff had been purchased already. There were several doggy-type patches - I wasn’t necessarily above patching my dog-ripped pants with a picture of a dog but all the available dog appliques were brown or beige and my pants were definitely black and white.

I finally settled on a hippie-type emblem of a Volkswagen, a silly concept but the colors were right (white, gray and black with a touch of floral decoration) and a second/backup choice, a black-white-floral “LOVE” emblem, also quite hippie in nature. However, after paying for these I spotted more appliques on a rack at the front of the store, these were small black-and-white flowers (maybe not large enough to cover the gray thread but more artistic) and rather than return my first two appliques, I bought two more – the checkout procedure at JoAnn Fabrics, featuring a wizened lady cashier with the name badge of “Midge” (the receipt said “Mildred”) was not exactly streamlined and I really wasn’t up to doing a cash-return at this point, I thought I would take everything home and see how it worked out.

I ended up attaching the Volkswagen emblem (the least decorative of what I bought, but the best coverage) but and will probably try wearing the pants this week – I know I will feel silly wearing the pants to work but I’m determined to wear them at least once. It will be interesting to see if anyone stares and if anyone comments, “What a cute patch” or “What is that?” etc. Rather than brave JoAnn’s and Midge again I may keep the other patches (although they do add somewhat to my total pants expenditures) in case Billie rips more wardrobe items.

Actually there’s another post-script to this story…the day that I went to JoAnn Fabrics, Craig and I were running several other errands and were gone from the house longer than we usually are on a Saturday. We had left Marley loose (like we’ve been doing since we started putting Billie in the crate) and didn’t expect any problems – he’s been good loose for the last two weeks and stupid us, we thought that was a predictor of the future. When we got home we saw that Marley had overturned the trash (a flashback to his puppyhood) and had discovered not just a fragment of my morning McDonald’s sausage biscuit but also a foil-wrapped energy bar that had been inserted as a promotional item in the morning newspaper. Unfortunately the bar was chocolate-flavored, I know chocolate is bad for dogs but when I read the ingredients list on the partly-shredded wrapper, it looked like cocoa was included in a much smaller amount than healthful things like soy, brown rice, barley malt, etc.

I watched Marley carefully for signs of illness over the next few hours, but the only change I noted was that he seemed to hold his own more strongly when fighting with Billie – more energy?, more concentration?, more focus?...

1 comment:

Library Lady said...

Hounds-tooth fabric?!? REALLY?!?
Truth is stranger than fiction -- and funnier, too.