Pets

The Dogfather or Prairie Pothole

What’s the Edgar Allen Poe story about the heart beating through the floorboard so he tells on himself? He just couldn’t stand the tick-tick-ticking. Tell Tale Heart. That’s it. I remember now.

I understand it too. Let me explain.

Its been a rough week for rodents around our house. We will start with the tragic tale of the rabbit. Appropriate because we are on the eve of Good Friday which means only three days until an immortal anthropomorphic do-gooder sneaks in and leaves shredded paper and chocolates all over my fucking house. Why do we do the fake grass? Can we not?

Back on track. The rabbit.

Four o’clock in the morning last Sunday morning. Judy Cornbread is barking at something near the carport entry door. I wander out into the darkness in boxers and a pair of camo crocks. I know this because my Ring doorbell recorded it. In all its glorious detail. Bigfoot is blurry but my side pudge and back hair somehow really pops in monochrome. If I get robbed by a chubby naked guy don’t worry, that ring doorbell will yield some of the clearest evidence the police ever receive. 

What it also recorded was a pair of German Shepherd dogs that were trying to destroy the rabbit cage. They knocked it over and shredded the roof to pieces. The bunny was covered in water and dirt and they were trying so very hard to get through the wire. I grabbed a nearby military grade assault broom and cocked it. I flew into action like a ninja. The dogs ran away but the damage was done. Our bunny was broken. We pampered the quadriplegic cottontail for a little while hoping to nurse him back to health by regenerating neurons with fistfuls of hope but in a moment we weren’t paying attention that trickster flopped over; dead as a hammer. 

We held a goodbye ceremony and burial in the backyard. He was buried like a king, in a Walmart sack inside a Steve Madden shoe box. 

But life woes comes in threes. So let’s talk about the prairie dogs. 

First, I’ll set the stage a bit. One of the first pets that I wanted when I was twelve was a prairie dog. Like, I really really wanted one. I was going to build a giant network of pvc pipes and watch them do prairie dogs shit. All. Day. Long. I needed a prairie dog. 

Fast forward and I’m a late thirties man who realized that my mother could no longer tell me no and I had just finished a whiskey tasting so I was full on confidence. Supermom showed me a lady online who rescued the baby PDs and adopted them out. I immediately gave the “make-it-rain” hand motion and told my shopping sugar mama to “buy two”. And she did because when the hell do I ever suggest an animal? Strike while the iron is hot!

So we became prairie dog owners. Two boys. Nigel and Johnathan Brisby. Two proper little gentlemen. For a while it was bliss but that bliss ended this last Monday…

I walked out into the sunroom to the enclosure and I noticed something was off. The smell was akin to potting soil and the inside of a deer after it is field dressed. Dead for sure but not rotten. Just gross. 

I look around for my boys and I only see Brisby. He is covered in dried blood. He is also fat. Like extra fat from the normal obese that he usually carries around. He is chewing on a piece of food and staring at me.

My mind probes the situation

“But where is Nigel? 

And what are those pieces of wood and cloth scattered on the floor of the cage? Looks like pieces of popsicle sticks. Oh wait.

Is that a foot? That’s definitely a foot. 

Holy Shit Brisby! You ate your brother!”

I realize that I’m not only smelling death. I’m smelling murder and cannibalism. It is earthy and coppery and a little like uncooked steaks. I have to leave the room. One of my pets has eaten an entire other one of my pets.

That murderous rat killed and ate his brother in under 24 hours. Dedication. He had a glint in his eye that I hadn’t seen before. A darkness swirling around a shiny blade. He knew that since he had consumed his brother so quickly that he would hold his life energy for a short time. He knew that he had to take advantage of wielding the power of two prairie dogs to escape from his cage and rule the world under his furry iron fist. I knew that he could no longer be trusted. Before I could even mourn the loss of Nigel I was plotting the death of his killer. 

We are all tough until the real work is staring us in the face; demanding to be done. I tried to find sympathy and reason behind those beady black eyes and those teeth stained a light tinge of red. I knew my friend was gone. I knew what I had to do. Supermom called to let me know that she would be home soon with the children. They weren’t ready for more loss. I had to move quickly. 

*Googles rapidly.*

How do you euthanize a murderous zombie rodent humanely? Nothing. 

*Thinks of scenarios*

Poison? Too slow.

Shotgun? Too loud.

Hammer? Too splattery.

Zip Tie? Too edgy and dark.

Tiny noose and a decent paperweight tied to his little ankles? Too tedious.

Put him in a Walmart sack and windmill him hard into the pavement? Too… maybe, I’ll circle back…

Electric chair for fairies? You get the point.  

In the end, I did the thing that had to be done. Maybe. Don’t judge. He scared me.

Who am I? Pragmatist? Madman? Veterinarian?  

I then placed his warm body and what was left of his brother’s rib cage into a garbage bag and placed it by the curb. It was promptly picked up the next morning. No burial. No eulogy. Only a nod to the garbage man as he passed. 

I’ve only told one of the kids. She asked if I had a picture. WTF? 

And none of this is the sad part. 

As I watched the truck pull away I realized that in the short span of two days we had lost three of our beloved pets. And fucking Jasper is STILL ALIVE. Thanks Biden.

Oh yeah, apparently Judy Cornbread watched the events through the sliding glass door. I don’t know if dogs understand everything that goes on but I’ll tell you this… she has been a more responsive dog for the past week. 

If you are a heartless monster, this post is for you. How could you?! You know what you did. The truth has weighed heavy on me so I submit it here. My confession. You’re welcome. 

-Underdaddy to the rescue. 

Hopping The State Line

For some reason, society has decided that living life with anything other than two kids and two pets is crazy. Absolutely and certifiably, insane. If you just got married then you get a pass but it is only temporary. Time is tapping a toe and looking at a pocket watch. Get this show on the road.

If you are a little confused over what is expected of you have no fear, Hollywood and magazines have you covered. Or you could ask the internet indirectly by posting a picture and a phrase like “guess who is expecting!!”. If you have one child or less then you will get hundreds of likes. Maybe a few shares. Try it if you already have three kids or more and crickets…

So what is ideal? In an effort to save time I have looked into the matter. The ideal family has the following ingredients; a hard working father in a semi-physical trade that he can provide a good living but is definitely tired at the end of the day, a mother who makes a fuss over the family and is dramatic but she has a heart of gold and manages to cook all meals including school lunches; a son who is the oldest, good at sports, and is protective over his younger sister; a daughter who is the youngest and free spirited, highly pursued by boys but she is too busy with her studies for tomfoolery; a dog who is either a beagle mix or a golden retriever and was originally purchased as the companion to the son but is now best friends with dad; a cat who is fiercely independent but loves rubbing against legs when people are carrying large objects, she belongs to the daughter but you would never know it.

Throw in a white picket fence in a neighborhood with sidewalks and you have yourself a slice of America. Right out the oven.


If you don’t follow the recipe above then expect some of the following questions.

“Are you trying for a boy/girl?”

“When is the next one?”

“Are you ever planning on having kids?”

“Aren’t you going to give them a little brother or sister?”

or in my case…

“Four kids! Jesus. That’s one way to live your life.”

Old ladies in the supermarket are the most brutally honest. I have heard more than one person mention suicide if they had “that many” kids. Suicide! In front of my kids no less. It sounded more like, “Oh my. I’d don’t know what I’d do with that many. Probably jump off a bridge.” But honestly Gladiss, that is suicide.

Why wait lady? If life is that tough already. And thanks for letting my kids think that they are an unbearable burden.

It is just weird.

I have good kids too. They are polite and kind hearted. Definitely not “jump off a bridge” material.


People are no different with animals. The first dog or cat and people are all, “That is so sweet. Animals are such a blessing! Your kids will love it!”

Then hit them up with news about a rabbit or another dog or feeding an abandoned baby squirrel that lost its mother to a freak cat accident.

“Oh my.”

“Are you crazy?”

“What do you feed them?”

So what if I know what shows up when you type “squirrel nipples” into the Google search bar. It was a legit search. Go judge someone else.

I know people who spend more on booze than I do on animals. Or cars. Or fancy dinners. Hell, I spend more on fancy dinners than I do on pets. Which proves you can’t justify one bad habit by comparing it to a worse one but still… There are worse things than being an animal person or a having a large family.

All of the stuff above here was just a setup to say, “Hey we bought another wallaby. Her name is Bindi Lou Who.”

IMG_3174

Now maybe you will feel guilty about giving me grief over it.

Maybe not. Either way.

If you like wallabies and secretly knew that we were crazy enough to get another one, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Big Dads Dont Cry

Tonight was a tough one. It started with Toby abandoning the will to live and convulsing in what is known as “death throes”. I was talking to Supermom on the phone on my drive home and she went into a blubbering panic about holding our dying pet in her arms. She pleaded for me to “hurry home” and “help me” but I was sitting in traffic. He died before I got there.

I know he was a pet. I know he belonged to a group of animals that seem to welcome death with open arms. Animals aren’t people. Those facts didn’t stop me from being upset. Sometimes animals feel like people. They have personality and give affection. They become a part of our lives. Then they die a violent death in the middle of your king sized bed.

I felt guilty about crying. Like it was silly for a dad to cry about a pet. Then my girls noticed and asked me a question.

“Daddy, Are you crying?”

“Yes honey. Daddy is sad.”

“Do boys cry?”

“Of course. Boys get sad just like girls and some cry…the strong ones do anyway. It is okay to cry.” Then they joined me in a hug and we worked through our sad moment together.

Our society works hard to project the image of the stoic male, holding his head high while his females sob at his feet. He is unaffected by their petty tears. He knows that life is hard. Rub some dirt in it. Shake it off. There is no crying in baseball.

I don’t want to ever be that guy. I don’t want to be that kind of dad.

I want to be strong when needed but I have learned to not fight my tears. Tears are how the soul waves at the things it loves. My soul loves lots of things.

I have decide to not feel guilty for loving things or showing that I do. It is a waste of time.

If you are a big boy or girl and you totally cry sometimes, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Pet Poems

We sat down together a couple nights ago and tried to write funny poems about our pets. Well we didn’t try, we did. Just a few quick background notes before you dig in; Toby is our wallaby and he pesters everyone. The cat has to jump over the gate to the kitchen several times a day and she is getting fatter. Biscuit snores like a lumberjack’s saw.

 

Toby

Toby likes to hop

He hates brooms

And maybe mops

Lets send him to the moon.

 

I Heart Toby

How much do I love Toby?

My heart holds a special place.

Sometimes I want to hug him,

With a chair, in the face.

 

Fat Cat Splat

Majestic Cat, You’re oh-so-fat,

Remember to watch your weight,

Because dear cat, it’s hard to eat,

If you can’t jump over the gate.

 

Biscuit Snores

Man oh man does biscuit snore

It gets really bad at night,

Sometimes it seems her cheeks and teeth,

Are getting in a fight.

 

-Underdaddy to the rescue

Some Animals Were Harmed

So today I am on the confessional. I kill small animals. Not on purpose or maliciously but it happens. That doesn’t make it any better, I know. In fact my bad luck isn’t limited to animals. This black cloud of death has always lingered around house plants and small scale gardening too.

I have a certified black thumb. I can’t begin to tally the tomato plants that were doomed when I put them in the cart at Lowes. Plant food, over watering, under watering, bugs, over application of pesticide, kids trampling the plants, mowing the plants with the actual lawn mower. I was not meant to sustain small and fragile life. Our long term pets make it because they remind me of what they need.

My wife is also not immune to the accidental murder juju. One spring in a particularly wet season we found some tadpoles in a puddle across the street. Being awesome parents we thought, “What a wonderful opportunity to teach the kids about biology.” We collected the tadpoles in a large flat plastic Tupperware container and filled it with pond water. The kids were really excited and I energetically described how they would grow legs and lose the tails. Then the tadpoles would become frogs and leave the water. Each little swimming thing was given a name and we checked on them all day long. My oh my how the girls loved those tadpoles.

Those little dots are tadpoles.

Those little dots are tadpoles.

Once the kids went to bed we talked about what a mistake we had made. Here are these tadpoles that are living and we have zero idea what to do to keep them alive. The slippery slope of reasoning took us to putting pieces of crackers in the water and adding crushed up stoneware for the tadpoles to use once they get new legs. Now, I’m not placing any blame but the next day someone put the tadpoles on a picnic table to get some sun and by the time I saw them they were baked. I assured my wife it was a quick death but who can say how long they fought… Then we thought of the kids.
Fortunately the kids were away at Grandmother’s house so we had a short few hours to come up with a plan. Obviously the kids would be destroyed emotionally from such a devastating loss. We had to come up with a believable story or find a more interesting replacement. My children are expert interrogators but they have the attention span of a fruit fly. The only option was to replace the tadpoles with something even more difficult to keep alive. Fish. What a spectacular idea.

New distraction

New distraction

The pet store sold us a starter tank and a set of fish that were supposed to play well together. They were beautiful; pink, rainbow colors, glow in the dark, and a sucker fish for the algae. The children returned home to a bubbling tank of entertainment. We watched the fish for hours like a group of college kids staring at a Lava Lamp. The best part was that they didn’t mention the tadpoles. Success.

Oooooooh.

Oooooooh.

Then a few of the fish got the Ick, a fungus that kills everything in the tank except the sucker fish. Our replacements had the Ick too. We treated the tank and only half of the third round of fish died. Our kids, who we worried would be devastated by death of a beloved pet, had made a game of “spot the floating fish” and “who’s turn is it to flush?”

Once we went on vacation and I guess there was a power outage that turned off the filter pump. A week later there was a cesspool of fish skeletons. The sucker fish, named Vacuum, was happily eating the algae. Then a fish got sucked up the filter pipe and decayed. That was awesome too. I finally sent the sucker fish to a bigger tank at a new home and put the ghost town fish tank on the back porch. Suddenly the sight of a tank with a little water on the back porch triggered a memory and the second child looks at me and asks, “What happened to our tadpoles?” The first child, Calamity Jane, answers immediately, “They probably died.” They had zero concern for the tadpoles or the fish. I could have told them that the tadpoles turned to unicorns and flew away.

It was decided, from now on we will just observe things like bugs and fish and birds. They aren’t meant to be pets anyway and they will be safer from us. This seemed like a very good rule.

One night we noticed a beautiful green and yellow tree frog on our back window. He was stuck to the glass and every now and then he would move around. The girls watched in wonder and we got several good photos.

Majestic beauty of the tree frog.

Majestic beauty of the tree frog.

We even followed the new rule. Previously, I would have put him in a box and tried to feed him flies. We would have looked at him and eventually he would have starved or been baked in the sun. We had learned our lesson and the next morning he was gone but we rested well knowing he was in the natural habitat. No doubt eating flies and enjoying the cool night air.

I know the air was cool because I let the dog out at about 1:00 in the morning. She has the bladder of a squirrel. By 7:00 am she already has to pee again and when I let her out again I found this…

He sticks really well now.

He sticks really well now.

Dammit! Not again! If you are having trouble, this is what happens when a frog gets on the edge of the door and gets closed in the door frame.

If you stare at the picture long enough it looks like he was playing “Heaaads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, Knees and Tooooeees!” Too soon?

If you are an unintentional serial killer of small creatures, I feel your pain. You’re welcome.

Underdaddy to the rescue.