Month: January 2015

Daddy Can I Have A Puppy?

My reaction is complicated. I say no. To my kids it sounds like “No.” That’s because it is no. Jane has been wanting a pet since Christmas and she is thinking of every way in the world to get one. We have a couple pets already; Diaper Dog, Crazy Cat, lots of other animals who live at different grandparents’ houses. Part of me wants to say that she has enough interaction with animals and that another pet is a burden we don’t need.

Always up in someone's Kool-Aid.

Always up in someone’s Kool-Aid.

Pets are trouble from the word go. Whining, eating, pooping in the floor, taking them outside or changing a litter box, training them, getting attached to them, paying for medical procedures, and ultimately knowing that they don’t live long enough. If you ever try to go out of town then you have to find someone to watch over them or even tougher you have to take them with you. Why would anyone want a pet?

That is the easy button response. I need to know my reasons at a little deeper level so I did some research back into photo albums from the past. I wanted a complete picture of what dogs have meant to me growing up.

What roles have they filled?

My First True Friend

Sam was tolerant to say the least.

Sam was tolerant to say the least.

My first remembered dog was named Sam. He was a Golden Retriever and a perfect family dog. Sam was trained well and I enjoyed having him follow me on my adventures around the farm. I learned loyalty from Sam and, in a round-about way, empathy. I can remember telling him to sit and he didn’t listen to me so I hit him over the head with a plastic whiffle bat. I got in trouble but was told to think about what I did and how I would feel about someone hitting me. I can remember thinking about loving someone who is mean to you and that stuck with me. To this day I can’t stand people mistreating animals. Anything that can consider another something worth loving is at least worth respecting.


Sam followed my sister and me everywhere. Guarding over us because we were his pack. He proved that family doesn’t know trivial boundaries like race and species. Sam loved his family and was most at home in the middle of the madness. There is a similar dog at my mother’s house now and he is named Chester.

Chester the nervous peeing dog.

Chester the nervous peeing dog.

He was rescued from under a bridge and totally destroyed my house. He is the reason we have hardwood instead of carpet and the reason that our wedding photo was destroyed. He is still a good dog and he has found his place living at my mother’s farm. He reminds me a lot of Sam and he hovers around my children in the same tolerant and protective way. He will always have a home.

Sam is also my first reference for unexpected loss. Sam had cancer in his mouth and after a while it looked like he was holding a tennis ball. He was in a lot of pain and one weekend when I was gone from home my parents had him put down. I came home looking for Sam as my mother cried and told me the news. I remember very clearly the feeling of realizing I wouldn’t see Sam again. Empty and hollow loss. I never got to say goodbye.

Dogs Are Playmates

Peanut the bluetick hound.

Peanut the bluetick hound.

Sam wasn’t our only dog. We had a squirrel dog named Alicia, coon hunting dogs, and several dogs that were just passing through. One dog was a hare-brained Fox Terrier named Hot Pants or “HP” for short. We weren’t afraid of any of the dogs and never thought twice about them not liking us. They followed us and played in the creeks and woods all around the back of our house.

Penny (left) and Alicia (right).

Penny (left) and Alicia (right).

My aunt had Scottish Terriers that loved chasing balls around the backyard. We loved the fact they would play soccer with us. I had a friend who had a mean Schnauzer that would chase me every time I came to visit. Dad had a dog named Panda that was so ugly that she was cute. Panda looked like a fuzzy warthog mated with a shaggy throw rug and she was a sweet heart.

There was a dog named Rebel (I called him Lenny) and he was shot by a redneck neighbor who thought he might try to breed with a [somehow pure-bred yet half-wolf] type of dog that he had chained to a shitty plywood dog house. That is the closest I have been to pure hatred.

Happy Go Lucky Lenny.

Happy Go Lucky Lenny.

My First Pseudo-Responsibility

Pets came and went.

We had gerbils from hell. The long tailed rats ate everything. They ate their wheel, the steel screen over the cage, the inside of a Websters Dictionary that I put over the holes in the screen, and the one time I tried to hold one of the bastards it ate my thumb. Well, a piece of my thumb. We had rabbits that bred into uncontrollable numbers and were eventually murdered. Cats that went crazy or got run over by cars. Pet goats, ponies, and even a tamed pig named Speck. None of them hold what dogs do for me.

I begged for a pet of my own as a kid. Eventually, my mother waved the white flag and let me get a Dachshund that we named Penny. She was a weird dog. Penny loved her little house that she slept in at night. She would hide everything in her house. We found toys, socks, empty cans, and bones stuffed in the back. I taught Penny to sit and roll over. Penny slept on the end of my bed at night and is a placeholder in my memory for a time from pre-teen to leaving for college.

Penny became my mother’s dog when I moved and lived until a few years after we moved back to town. She grew old and lost her sight and hearing. One day she wandered off and ended up in the road. Honestly, it was quick and in the grand scheme of things not a bad way to go. I cried when I heard because it was the turning of a page and it felt like a new chapter.

My Wife’s Little Sidekick

Beauty was intimidated by candles I guess.

Beauty was intimidated by candles I guess.

Supermom is an only child. She grew up with a cousin close to the same age so she has the experience of siblings but not living in the home with her. Beauty was a Cairn terrier who was her sidekick from ten years old until a little while after we started dating. Beauty lived the luxurious life of the only pet of an only child. She was treated like a person and the family liked to watch her explore snow and express her sassy personality. Like the baby toddler of the family, Beauty was doted on. Supermom brought Beauty to visit my apartment and she promptly jumped up and peed on my bed. She must have sensed competition and was trying to mark me out of her life. My mother-in-law would have been proud at the time, although hopefully she doesn’t still wish for dogs to ruin my sheets.

Snow playtime.

Snow playtime.

It wouldn’t work. Supermom and I were getting serious and one weekend we traveled across the state to meet my family. Beauty wasn’t allowed to come along. While we were driving in my hometown Supermom got a call on her cellphone and with a confused look handed the phone to me. It was my future mother-in-law telling me the sad news that Beauty had died. I had to be the one to tell her and hold her while she sobbed. My first time for being a shoulder to cry on. Her sidekick was gone and she never got to say goodbye. I didn’t have any words worth saying but I understood. Sucks.

A Dog Was Our First Child

Momma Dixie with babies Biscuit and Sammy.

Momma Dixie with babies Biscuit and Sammy.

After celebrating our first New Year together we visited my hometown again. My dad had a boxer named Dixie who was the mother of several family dogs. She was a brindle colored Boxer and we learned that in this family the brindle color came with hereditary joint problems that led to pain and paralysis. But a few years before we learned about that, Dixie had a litter of puppies.


Awwww. Wait, what the hell is on my chin?

One of them was a sandy colored puppy that took to me right away. I didn’t necessarily want or need a dog but after an afternoon of snuggling with this tiny life, Supermom and I decided that the puppy needed to be our first child.

Seriously, how cute is this dog? She snores like a buffalo but she was cute once.

Seriously, how cute is this dog? She snores like a buffalo but she was cute once.

Biscuit is the Diaper Dog that you may have seen in other posts. She moved with us back to college and lived in our apartment. Then later we moved in with my future father-in-law. Biscuit was a shared love and responsibility that helped teach us some of the basic tools of parenting. Namely that you have to plan ahead for feeding, pooping, and peeing. She also didn’t like Mommy and Daddy to be upset at each other and she would try to give kisses between us when we acted like we were angry with each other. Custody over Biscuit would have been an ugly battle.

Every morning at 5:30 Biscuit would wake me up to go pee outside. I would stand on the front porch while she went out in the yard and usually I would have to go too. At 5:30 am in the middle of nowhere… I peed off the porch. One afternoon I see my father-in-law standing in the yard staring at dead patches of lawn and scratching his head. “What in the world is killing the grass? Look it is just in this one spot.” I had to explain that I had been peeing in that spot for a couple of months every morning. I found out he had been trying to figure out the grass problem for about the same amount of time.

Friends for life.

Friends for life. She even loves a worthless cat.

Biscuit is our official relationship dog. She represents almost the entirety of my life with Supermom and even as I type this she is laying on a pillow napping next to me. Diaper and all. She loves her family as deeply as anyone and considers herself second in command. If I am away from home she doesn’t allow guests to approach the children or my wife. She doesn’t growl or make much of a show but she keeps her body between family and company at all times.

Anything for the pack.

Anything for the pack. She is protecting Lady Bug from the couch.

Dogs love sacrificially and I will always remember a day that I was swimming laps in the pool at my dad’s house. Biscuit was pacing at the edge of the water and very concerned that I was drowning. I continued my laps and suddenly she had decided that the risk was worth the cost and she dove into the pool. Boxers aren’t made for swimming and I had to rescue her but she proved herself to me. I hope that I would be as brave to protect my family. In fact, there are some stories on this blog that prove I wouldn’t be. Biscuit is definitely the unsung hero. That is something beyond words.

Getting old and grey.

Getting old and grey. Jane loves her “Bee Bee”.

Age isn’t nice to dogs and as she gets older I have the constant fear of finding her cold and still or even worse is the thought that I would have to make the decision to put her down. I don’t know that I could do it. She is in all of our photos. Biscuit was our first. She saw us date, marry, have children, move houses, celebrate birthdays and Christmases, travel to see family, welcome new pets to the family, and has more than once been a pillow to cry on for someone. She watched over our children and probably taught them some of the same lessons that Sam taught me. She is this stable symbol of friend, family, and love.

Go Vols!

Go Vols! She is nervous just like most vols fans.

Dogs Are Heavy On The Heart 

When the kids ask for another dog I think of all of these things. I have the denial of losing Biscuit. I have the bitterness of choosing her replacement. I think about what will replace her and mark the next phase of our life. Replacing Biscuit means allowing time to move forward. It means the kids will move from “Sam” to “Penny” and eventually a “Biscuit” of their own.

So when they ask, “Daddy can I have a puppy?” my brain screams, “No!”. But the kids know better. They see the look in my eyes and know that it isn’t even a question.

Of course we will have a puppy. Life requires it. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.


Death and Hamburger Helper

I am ready for sunshine and that general happy feeling of summer. I am tired of dreary, sickness, and death. Not as tired as some but still I think we’ve all had enough bad things that we could use a good day. I would like to coordinate the international “Good Day” when we just agree to not let things suck. No gifts or thoughts or cards or imaginary creatures that allow grownups to keep the kids in-line for a month before. Just a day where we follow the rules of; 1) Smile for no reason and 2) Don’t be a jerk.

One of our children has become pre-occupied with death. I don’t know why or really how to deal with it because she is somewhat obsessive about different subjects at different times. She is scared about dying or death meaning that you are in a box inside the Earth and it will spin for all eternity and she doesn’t want to be stuck in a box. It seemed irrelevant to tell her that she would be dead and it wouldn’t matter.

 What a crappy subject. I have mixed feelings about what to tell her concerning death because I worry that if there is a personality or chemical imbalance then I certainly don’t want to sell death as a vacation. Then again how dreary can it get to be unhappy and think that the next phase is spinning around the earth in a box in the dark forever. Do you tell her about the cremation option? “Don’t worry there isn’t a box if you choose to be burned into a pile of ash.” Yeah I can see the father-of-the-year award being handed over.

So we took an alternate route. I decided maybe we could talk about it head on.

“What is bothering you about death?”

“They say you don’t get to talk anymore.”

“Who says that?”


“Did Jane say that?”

“Maybe. No. Maybe…”

“Well whoever said anything about death is just guessing.”

“But they know.”

“Are they dead?”


“Then how can they know?”


“They don’t. And we don’t like things we don’t know. Those things scare us.”

“The dark scares me too.”

“Is it because you don’t know what is there? Or is it because you tell yourself something bad is there?”

“I don’t know. But I don’t want to die.”

Sometimes you want to hug the answers into them and the fear out. Sometimes you want that to work for you too. We have similar fears and children are just honest about it.

How many of us are totally faking the funk about being scared of the dark. I hate going places that I can’t see what is waiting around the corner. I remember one night I was taking the trash out to the curb and the wind was blustery and the streetlight was out. Further streetlights were casting dim light and long shadows. Rustling leaves would completely hide sounds from whatever boogey man or vicious dog was lying in wait for me. My brain was hyper-alert and I moved quickly to the curb. I made the drop and turned back towards the house and my would-be attacker suddenly moved in the shadows. I was convinced a panther was on my heels and the adrenaline fueled war-cry and Chuck Norris style flying kick were plenty defense against any predator that would have been attacking me. That little black kitten had no idea who he was messing with and the sheer panic on his face as he escaped across my path and into some bushes didn’t help me feel anymore manly about my reaction. The little bastard could have hissed or something sinister.

Today I faced a new shadow along a walk to the curb. Death is around. Lurking.  Most of us don’t even try to fake that fear. I looked at my precious little girl and saw her mother and my mother and her sisters and a grandmother. I had a new thought to try out on her.

“So Prima, you are scared to die because you don’t want to go away, right?”


“You know how people tell you that you look like other people? Like Aunt Daisy and Supermom and your Noni?”


“But then sometimes you say something funny and people tell you that you are like daddy.”

“Yes that happens too.”

“So if every part of you is shared with someone else. Every thought you have is a collection from people you love. If every person you meet will take something from meeting you that they will remember. Our job is to take as much in as we can and to send it right back out to those who need it. It seems to me that not only will the things that define “Prima” not truly die but by giving all the best of yourself to others, you might have a chance to live forever. But remember not to overshare with strangers, people are afraid of what they don’t know. I would start with a smile and go from there. “

“I don’t like Hamburger helper daddy.”

“Who is talking Hamburger Helper? I am giving you existential nuggets of truth to validate your existence and you ponder back and forth for Hamburger Helper? It isn’t even hamburger it is the Tuna Helper brand. See the box, shitty tuna skillet meal, says so right there.”

That is exactly why we don’t have serious hobbies. No attention span.

 I have no idea what I accomplished. Maybe she was looking for attention for a little while and when supper was done she felt better. She says some strange things and I just want to explore the tough subjects.

I just hope they never corner me and demand to know why I fixed unhealthy meals like Hamburger Helper. That is a question that I am seriously underprepared for.

So if you answer a kids question about death with, “Oh wow! Was that a squirrel?” This post is for you. You’re Welcome.


-Underdaddy to the Rescue

Last Smell and Testament

I encounter lots of smells. All parents do. Tonight was different. Now is the chance to stop and go elsewhere, gross things are ahead.

I have four girls, an irresponsible cat, and a dog in a diaper. Lots of smells. Cat box ammonia is a rough smell. It sucks the air out of a small area above the box. Kids have the normal awfulness of pooping, terrible breath, and sometimes they puke and have a sour potato soupy smell. Dog pee in a diaper has its own signature scent. Maybe the dog needs to hydrate and perhaps eat more fiber?  Some of you probably puffed out your cheeks and gagged a little. Rightfully so.

All of these things are stinky but tonight I found a worse smell.

Smell memory is one of the strongest connected senses in the brain. You can smell warm cookies and instantly be transported to some long forgotten place and time in your childhood. I assume the same is true of bad smells and I experience that from time to time. This recent smell will probably trigger a memory of huddling in a fetal position in the corner.

What was this olfactory demon you ask? I promise to tell but you need to understand the level we are working with here.

I have several haunting memory smells. I can’t eat deer meat because I worked at a processing facility one season and something about the iron-blood smell is burned into my brain. At that same facility I cut into a deer that had an arrow embedded under the skin and had lots of green infection around it. Blah. Just blah. One night our dog got into the kitchen and ate a whole Cornish hen and pooped on EVERYTHING in the house at 3:00am. She pooped the McDonalds arches onto the hallway wall. It looked like someone vandalized my house with a dog poop Super-Soaker. I was awakened by the smell in the house. Two rolls of paper towels, two garbage bags, and a stack of dinner napkins…I smelled dog poop when breathing in for the next two days.

My friend and I went through a workout phase in college and there was an errant protein shake that somehow rolled under a dresser. About a month later we were moving furniture out and disturbed it accidentally. We searched for thirty minutes for the dead animal that had to be rotting in the room. Even this protein cloud doesn’t quite compare.

Today we discovered a sippy cup of milk. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Supermom found an old sippy cup of milk under the piano and set it up on the top while she finished sweeping every other thing we had lost over the last month out into the daylight. Being a helpful husband and dedicated father, I decided to take dishes to the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher. She didn’t tell me that the sippy cup was just excavated from the piano time-capsule.

I was standing over the kitchen sink and turned the top. Hiss. Air escaped like a seal had been broken on a mummy’s tomb. I was moving quickly from muscle memory and even as the first wave hit me I was pouring the cup’s contents into the sink disposal. Oh dear God… What have I done. The room got blurry and I turned on the hot water.

The second wave hit me. The scalding water couldn’t take the chunky cheese milk away fast enough. It was like double-soured milk with rotten eggs. I went down to my elbows and thought of my family’s safety. “Honey…. Ta.. Take the kids and go to the back of the house!”

“What’s wrong?!?”

“GO! Save yourself!”

“I love you! Noooo!”


Third wave. A thin film of putrid covered the stainless steel sink. The smell was lurking in the air. It was somehow light enough to float in the air but thick enough to block my lungs. I reach the disposal switch on the wall and have just enough energy to flick it up to the “On” position. I sprang to life and I slumped backwards to the ground. The Smell. It was like smoke from a house fire gathering at the top of the room and pressing downward. I could hear the milk chunks hitting the sides of the disposal and emulsifying the rotten air.

This can only get worse.

In the distance I hear bedroom doors closing and muffled voices. “Mommy what is that smell? Where is daddy? Is this the end of the world?” Tears streamed down my face but I was too weak to answer. Diapered dog was pacing at the edge of the hallway and living room. Whining because she knew daddy was in trouble but she wasn’t brave enough to face the smell.

The fourth wave. My brain is swimming from the chemical cloud and I am seeing sounds and hearing the number green. Two leprechauns on a rainbow ran across the counter as I turned off the garbage disposal and slung the sippy cup into the trash can and slammed the lid.

I stagger to the back of the house and fall into the bedroom with ragged breath and splotchy skin. Children are huddled in fear.

The vent from the sink empties into the attic space. The return air distributes the fumes into the air conditioning system. A painful lesson we may have learned too late. Even as I type this the light is fading. I’ve wrapped the children in blankets and fired a signal flare out the back window. If I have started the zombie apocalypse then I beg the world to forgive me.

If you ever were my friend do me this one last favor…. Don’t let milk sit in a sippy cup.

You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Are You “Normal Parents”

Parenting personality is something that is interesting to me. Maybe I am wrong but I think that there are basically three parents within each of us.

1) The parent that we want others to think we are.

2) The parent we wish we could be.

3) The parent we are.

This isn’t to say we can’t be the same thing for each or some combination of the three. The problem comes when we try to be something we aren’t and our wish is above what is even possible. That makes the parent we are progressively worse.

Most likely we are all painfully average. I don’t think I am average but that is probably an average thought.

I put together a quick ten question survey on some kid related parenting issues and we can see how everyone falls in the range of normal parenting. As always it is anonymous so feel free to be yourself.

Are you a normal parent? < 

Hopefully the survey is more fun that informative. I will give it about a week and post the results. And for everyone who participated in the other Inappropriate Questions Survey I had several that were entered and didn’t make it in the first round, I am considering the wave of unfollows I might have for posting some of the questions but I promised not to censor so maybe a disclaimer would help. We’ll see.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Splendor on the Mount

A few years ago we travelled to Eureka Springs, Arkansas for a wedding. Not knowing the sites and attractions, we drove around town and got some directions from locals. They all heavily suggested visiting the large Jesus statue at the top of a mountain. The place we ended up looked like an Old West tourist town that had been converted to early Jerusalem and was being used for biblical reenactments. Regretfully, there were none scheduled that day. We did get to visit the Stucco Son of God and behold his splendor. It had a lasting effect on me and I wanted to share that story with you. By lasting effect I mean it was disturbing and bordering on blasphemous. Maybe I’m over-reacting but here is how I see this thing getting built.

This is a photo story of the building of the greatest monument known to mankind. The eighth wonder of the modern world. A simultaneous tale of ingenuity, perseverance, inspired artistic ability, and a sense of community that would unite a small town in Arkansas and forever change the world.

The following is an estimated re-creation of the epic thoughts and conversations that are cemented into legend at the top of a mountain in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The true story is lost to time but the following accounts help walk you down the path and hopefully enjoy the journey along the way.

Facing daunting shortfalls in local budgets, Eureka Springs had some decisions to make. If they were going to remain a town with any public service or infrastructure they would have to find a way to increase revenue. Town mayor, who I assume was named McLovin, called a meeting of the minds and out of that meeting came the legalization of marijuana including direct injection into the brain.

Everyone immediately brain-injected marijuana based compounds and held the second most important town meeting on what could be done to attract tourists. Mayor McLovin rose to speak, “What we need in this here town is something BIG!.”

Crowd of seven replied heartily, “YEAH!”

“We need something that rises above the mountains and looks over the valley and says COME AND SEE ME!”


A lone citizen voiced concern, “We cant do it alone. We need the help of Jesus.”

Mayor McLovin, “That’s IT! We need JESUS! Just like that statue in Brazil!”


“Alderman Smith, you go get a case of potato chips, some crayons and poster board, and a case or Orange Soda. It is going to be a long night.”

The alderman left for the provisions and the intense planning began. The following are major questions and responses captioned below the pictures.

Step 1 – What does that Statue in Rio, Brazil look like?

Carved stone and real deal work of art in Rio.

Carved stone and real deal work of art in Rio.

Step 2 – What can we use to build the body frame since we are low on budget?


We need something with a strong metal frame and a boxy look to it.

We need something with a strong metal frame and a boxy look to it.

Step 3 – What about the arms?


Oh yeah the arms. How about making them like a totem pole.

Oh yeah the arms. How about making them like a totem pole.

Step 4 – How should his head be shaped?


I was thinking about George Carlin's high forehead and face in general, bring some white male to the Jesus image.

I was thinking about George Carlin’s high forehead and face in general, bring some white male to the Jesus image.

Step 5 – But he had long hair. What should we do?


We can finish his hair out in dreads like that guy on Pirates of the Caribbean. Perfect.

We can finish his hair out in dreads like that guy on Pirates of the Caribbean. Perfect.

Step 6 – How about the upper body shape?


Needs to be busty. Something to get people looking at his face. Something to draw people in and really give the statue a magnetic appeal to everyone. Something...Boobs.

Needs to be busty. Something to get people looking at his face. Something to draw people in and really give the statue a magnetic appeal to everyone. Something…Boobs.

Step 7 – What about the necklace?

 Leave off the necklace. Jesus wearing a necklace of the cross is like Kurt Cobain being buried with a shotgun. Just not a nice thing to do.

Step 8 – This need to be in a garden, what should it look like?


Good point! The grounds need manicured hedges and fancy stuff.

Good point! The grounds need manicured hedges and fancy stuff.

Step 9 – Who will build this masterpiece?


We need a true artist who isn't hindered by unneeded senses. He goes on heart and feel.

We need a true artist who isn’t hindered by unneeded senses. He goes on heart and feel.

Step 10 – We are on a budget, what materials should we use?


Duh. Paper Mache. Cheap and easy and we can always make more.

Duh. Paper Mache. Cheap and easy and we can always make more.

Six labor intensive months went by as locals came together to build this ragtag Mecca of the Ozarks. This Field of Dreams for religious travelers. A regional reminder of who is in charge of the Southeastern United States!


I PRESENT TO YOU :Dolly Carlin Thunderbird Paper Mache Grocery Bag Jesus with Dreadlocks.


Person on right for scale. What about that?

Person on right for scale. What about that?

You too can drive here and check it out. I recommend it at a medium level. Am I way off base here or isnt this statue disturbing, What would Pinterest have to say?


Possibly the world’s most diverse collaboration on a statue of the Christian lord and savior. Tickets are five dollars and there is a restroom directly behind him. I may be going to hell but if you laughed then you are going with me. You’re welcome.