Dirty Laundry

Every so often it becomes obvious that Tisen isn’t the only critter in the house who needs a bath.  His collection of toys often starts to look a little, well, crusty.  I guess if you were carried around in a slobbery dog’s mouth day after day, you might get a little crusty, too.

Poor Lamb has turned into the black sheep of the family–her once white-as-snow fleece has become charcoal gray.  Skunk shows stains less, but still had quite a coating of dried dog drool.

But what is the appropriate way to clean stuffed squeaky toys?  I opted for the gentle cycle in the washing machine.  I gathered up all the toys that were in the house (who knows how many more are lying abandoned in one of the cars) and tossed them all into the washing machine.

I even found one of Twiggy’s toys Tisen apparently stole from her the last time she stayed with us.  It’s a very clever skunk.  Instead of being stuffed, it has a velcro closure at one end that allows it to be opened so a plastic bottle can be inserted inside the skunk.  I don’t know what is so appealing about a plastic bottle to dogs, but most of them seem to love them.  Tisen loves this toy better than any of his own–I suspect it is because it belongs to Twiggy.

I removed the plastic bottle before adding Twiggy’s skunk to the wash.

The toys all came out of the gentle cycle in tact, but very wet.  We tried drying them on the delicate setting, but they were still wet after.  I then tried a medium heat setting.  Still wet.  Since it was a hot sunny day, I opted to spread them out on the edge of the balcony to see if that would help.

Tisen was a bit nervous about his family being spread out on the balcony.  He felt compelled to guard his flock.  He seems to have a strong herding instinct that becomes apparent whenever a stranger comes into the house.  Watching him sit and watch over his toys made me wonder if he didn’t end up with some Border Collie genes somewhere along the line.

Twiggy was less concerned about the welfare of Tisen’s collection (or even her own skunk).  She just enjoys the view from the balcony.

In the end, Tisen’s flock did dry–I flipped them once after a few hours like a bunch of cute, furry pancakes.  Twiggy’s clever skunk dried the fastest of them all.  They are all fluffy and soft now.  Many look new again.  Lamb, however, has only transitioned from charcoal gray to slightly lighter gray.  Perhaps next time I’ll try the “heavily soiled” cycle.


In Memory of Tiger

A comforting friend during a stressful time

A comforting friend during a stressful time (Tisen at the vet with Tiger)

The Tyger

-William Blake


Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Tiger can be partially seen at the far left

Tiger can be partially seen at the far left

With great sadness, I write of the loss of Tiger.  Tiger was one of our small, furry family members.  Tiger was a good friend to Tisen.  He patiently allowed Tisen to carry him around like a doll–never complaining or even struggling.

Sadly, Tiger disappeared about 3 days ago.  He’d accompanied Tisen on a walk, hanging from Tisen’s mouth when last seen.  He then disappeared somewhere in the park.  Several searches failed to find Tiger; we’ve decided it’s time to acknowledge Tiger is gone for good.

Our Tiger didn’t have such a fearful symmetry–his long and floppy legs wouldn’t hold his weight, let alone allow him to spring unexpectedly upon prey.  He didn’t strike fear in anyone’s heart.  I suppose the silly expression undermined ferocity.

Tiger looks like he's wearing a hat, but it's really Duck behind him

Tiger looks like he’s wearing a hat, but it’s really Duck behind him

Around here, Tiger wasn’t valued for his fierceness–he was valued for his squeak.  He was a Tisen favorite.  Unfortunately, Tisen got hot while carrying Tiger and set him down so he could pant.  Mommy wasn’t paying attention and we’d made a lap around the park before it dawned on Mommy that someone was missing.

My favorite Tiger story is from about 6 months ago.  I was walking through the park and Tisen had dropped Tiger on that day as well.  I’d picked up Tiger and then run into a man with his dog.  We exchanged greetings and dog information and then he went on his way.

In a recent family portrait, Tisen seemed to seek Tiger out

In a recent family portrait, Tisen seemed to seek Tiger out

A few minutes later, Tisen decided he wanted to carry Tiger again.  We walked along at a quick pace with Tisen proudly holding Tiger in his mouth.  We caught up to the man and his dog in the process.  When the man saw Tisen with Tiger, he burst out laughing and said, “Oh!  That’s his tiger!  I was wondering!”  Proof that when I suspected people thought I suffered from a disorder that caused me to compulsively carry stuffed animals, I wasn’t being paranoid.

I will miss having people wonder why I am carrying a stuffed Tiger with me through the park.  Tisen, however, seems to have moved on–he happily grabbed Hedge Hog when Tiger was no where to be found.

The first time Twiggy came to visit, she put Tiger in her pile

The first time Twiggy came to visit, she put Tiger in her pile

Family Planning

Tisen's collection of squeaky toys seems to have grown quite a bit since October

Tisen’s collection of squeaky toys seems to have grown quite a bit since October

This was the majority of the collection in October--the family is getting out of control

This was the majority of the collection in October–the family is getting out of control


There’s a reason people recommend planning your family carefully.  I believe it’s because after so many family members, it becomes difficult to fit everyone into a camera frame.

While we successfully kept the human side of the family to plan, the canine side didn’t go quite how we expected.  Our plan was not to have any more dogs until we had settled down somewhere.  Our goal was all about mobility.

Tisen inspects the family portrait pose

Tisen inspects the family portrait pose

But as things changed and we exercised our mobility less and less, I found myself home alone way too much.  Working from home is not the same as actually being around other people, even on days when I’m on conference calls for 10 straight hours.

Black and white Hipstamatic version using the D-Type film

Black and white Hipstamatic version using the D-Type film

Not wanting a long-term commitment, I decided to foster dogs for a local shelter.  Tisen was my 3rd foster dog in Chattanooga.  I am what is called a “foster failure.”  That’s what it’s called when foster mom and dad adopt the dog they’re fostering.  I can live with that kind of failure.

My boy kept stealing family members--Baby Beaver had to be omitted from the group shot to get Tisen to settle down

My boy kept stealing family members–Baby Beaver had to be omitted from the group shot to get Tisen to settle down

But, having failed to plan the permanent addition of Tisen to our family, it follows that I would be equally less deliberate about planning the additions Tisen would bring home.  It started with the discovery of his love for squeaky toys.  For the first year we had Tisen, he had no interest in treats.  Only squeaky toys.

Tisen licks his nose after being reunited with Snake makes him sneeze

Tisen licks his nose after being reunited with Snake makes him sneeze

As a result, we kept getting him more squeaky toys.  Soon, it became a tradition every time we went to PetsMart, Tisen gets to pick out a new toy.  He carries it so proudly through the store with the tags still hanging off it.  Usually, he tries to prance straight out the front door with it.  He hasn’t quite gotten the “we have to pay for it” concept down yet.  So far the store manager has been very understanding and hasn’t prosecuted Tisen for attempted shop lifting.

A more traditional image of the family yielded a pile of jumbled colors

A more traditional image of the family yielded a pile of jumbled colors

Today, I decided, was the day to find out just how large the family had grown.  I haven’t attempted a family portrait since October, when Cow Ball joined the family.  I was a bit shocked when I gathered up all the family members and piled them on the sofa.  This actually took two trips!

Tisen isn't quite sure what he's supposed to do with the huge pile of toys on the sofa

Tisen isn’t quite sure what he’s supposed to do with the huge pile of toys on the sofa

I got out the last inventory list I’d made and checked off the toys as I found them.  Each and every one of them was accounted for, plus about 10 news ones added since October.  There was even one extra–White Ball.  White ball doesn’t belong to Tisen.  He “borrowed” it from Twiggy, his girlfriend.  It’s probably some ploy he’s using to try to get her to come over–she likes to play it cool.

Close up of Big Dog, Red Dog, Artie (the Armadillo/'Possum), and Puppy Luv cuddling

Close up of Big Dog, Red Dog, Artie (the Armadillo/’Possum), and Puppy Luv cuddling

I had a little trouble fitting the entire family into the frame.  I’m a little worried they’ve started multiplying on their own–how did we end up with 3 bears?  Last time I checked, we only had Minnie and Eddie Bear.  Now we have Flat Bear, too.  This is why family planning is so important.

Had great fun with an overexposed shot--after much adjusting, it ended up reminding me of a crayon drawing

Had great fun with an overexposed shot–after much adjusting, it ended up reminding me of a crayon drawing

Tisen’s Toys

Tisen cuddling Mr. Beaver quite a few months back (B&W HDR processed)

Tisen cuddling Mr. Beaver quite a few months back (B&W HDR processed)

This evening, I realize I need to shoot an updated family portrait.  It’s been quite a while since I last captured Tisen’s collection of “babies” (as they say in the South) together.  I would stop writing to go shoot them now (even though it is already 20 ‘til 11PM and I have a 6:30AM yoga class in the morning), but I’m not sure where all of them are.

I know Tisen has left a large collection in the mini-van.  Every time I open the door I do a double take.  Big dog is occupying the back seat.  Lamb, Red Dog, Purple Monkey, and a large collection of others are strewn across the seats.\

Tisen taking Eddie Bear for a walk

Tisen taking Eddie Bear for a walk

But then I wonder what has happened to Lamb, who has frequently disappeared, Duck, Hog, and Mini Bear?  They were once favorites, but I’ve rarely seen Tisen with them in the past few months.  Tiger and Lion have also been replaced with new favorites.  Skunk, Cow, and the Green Reindeer seem to be vying for the latest round of the “favorite toy” awards.

I’m curious to see how big a pile Tisen’s toys would make these days.  I know they no longer fit into the hamper we use to store them when they’re all found and tossed together.  Perhaps that’s because they get feisty when they’re all in the same bin and start kicking each other out.

My personal favorite--I can't remember the last time I saw Puppy Luv

My personal favorite–I can’t remember the last time I saw Puppy Luv

Curiously, Mr. Beaver has recently reappeared from the bottom of the toy pile.  I thought Tisen had given up on dragging Mr. Beaver along on walks.  Mr. Beaver is too long with his tail. He drags on the ground tripping one or both of us.  I have been on a secret mission to convince Tisen that Mr. Beaver is not the toy he wants to take on a walk for at least 6 months now.

Just when I was sure I had convince Tisen that Mr. Beaver should be left at home in favor of shorter toys that don’t hang out of his mouth and create a tripping hazard, Tisen suddenly dug Mr. Beaver out of the hamper.

Lamb, so often lost, looks so cozy in Tisen's arms

Lamb, so often lost, looks so cozy in Tisen’s arms

I have taken the substitution approach.  This is the same secret technique used successfully by women when retraining men for centuries.  Instead of convincing said man that he doesn’t want something he thinks he wants, said woman simply chooses something she prefers and then presents it to said man in such a way that said man does exactly what said woman wants while believe he is doing what he wants.

This is much more easily accomplished with Tisen than with Pat, for the record.  With Tisen, Mr. Beaver does not have a particularly good squeak.  Tisen is a sucker for a good squeak.  So, all I have to do is pick up Skunk or virtually any other toy in Tisen’s collection, and squeak it.  Tisen immediately drops Mr. Beaver in favor of any toy that squeaks for him.  Then, off we go with Skunk instead.  Works every time.

Tisen awakened from a nap with Minnie Bear

Tisen awakened from a nap with Minnie Bear

The Plight of the Purple Monkey

Purple Monkey after his vibratorectomy

Purple Monkey after his vibratorectomy

The saga of Purple Monkey began last weekend.  I had to run errands–we ran out of trash bags.  This has never happened before.  This is the one aspect of running a household that I’m usually on top of.  It started with paranoia about running out of toilet paper, which goes back to a guy I dated when I was in college who was forever out of toilet paper.  The outages led to improvisation that led to clogged toilets.  Having a father who wrote a book about plumbing, this was sacrilege.  In the end, I came away with a compulsion to stockpile toilet paper.

Soon, my compulsion expanded to include other household supplies.  Trash bags, plastic wrap, toothpaste, dental floss, paper towels, hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, bath soap, and a variety of “daily needs” items are all well-stocked in my house.

My husband teases me that I think “we’re almost out” of toilet paper when we have less than 24 rolls in the house.  When the toilet paper supply dwindles, I take stock of anything else running low, make a dash to Target, and buy in bulk.  It’s a system that works for me.

The offending part

The offending part

However, one of the side effects of having a housekeeper is that she takes the trash out and we rarely use more than one kitchen trash bag a week, so I never see the level of the trash bag supply anymore.  I was caught completely off guard.

I made an emergency run to Target.  Tisen went with me and waited patiently in the car.  After, I took him into PetSmart to stock up on poop bags and, of course, let him pick out his own toy.

He chose Purple Monkey.  At least, I thought it was a monkey.  Whatever it is, as mentioned in yesterday’s blog, it has a bizarre vibrator inside of it that makes it jiggle.  Tisen didn’t like the vibration, so, for the first time since we’ve had him, he chewed on a toy–he broke the vibrator inside.  That wasn’t enough to satisfy him.

Purple Monkey's trap door

Purple Monkey’s trap door

Today, he decided the vibrator had to come out.  He pulled at it until he got it lose from the fabric it was glued to.  I finished the job for him, afraid he was going to hurt his teeth.  Tisen seemed relieved.

Purple Monkey has a flap on his backside held shut with velcro.  The flap was intended to allow for battery changes.  As I examine this toy, I have to wonder if the designer had every seen a dog at play in his/her life.  What dog would want a toy with a giant motor in it?

Tisen treats his toys more gently than any dog I’ve ever seen, yet even he couldn’t stand that stupid motor.  It was made by Toys-R-Us Pets.  I suspect it was considered a choking hazard for children so they relabeled as a pet toy, but maybe this is just my paranoia.

Tisen contentedly plays with his old friend, Jack, while I shoot Purple Monkey

Tisen contentedly plays with his old friend, Jack, while I shoot Purple Monkey

Lost Lamb

We interrupt the regularly scheduled program for this emergency alert:  Lamb is Lost.

Last seen approximately 2 weeks ago, she disappeared about the same time as ‘Possum.  Authorities initially suspected the two had run off together, shunned from their community because of the tabu associated with inter-species couples, especially one with such size disparity.

However, ‘Possum was recently located hiding out in a dark, secluded spot under the sofa.  While it appears ‘Possum may have suffered from anxiety related to the recent introduction of Big Dog into the family, he otherwise was unharmed.  Upon being selected for the morning walk earlier today, ‘Possum appears to have fully recovered.

Lamb, however, remains at large.

The once-favorite of Tisen, Lamb was accustomed to being selected for walks, a top honor, at least once each day.  However, the introduction of ‘Possum, followed by Baby Beaver, Lion, and most recently, Big Dog, greatly reduced Lamb’s popularity.

It’s unclear whether Lamb became disgruntled with her reduced status prior to her disappearance.  All members of the community have been questioned, but all refuse to talk.

Lamb’s general willingness to squeak with only the slightest pressure from Tisen, along with her soft wool providing significant comfort advantages for Tisen when carrying her in his mouth, Lamb quickly achieved Top Dog status.

Additionally, Lamb never embarrassed Tisen by hanging in an unseemly fashion from his mouth, dragging on the ground or tripping Tisen.  Although Red Dog and Squirrel were previously banished for such offenses, Tisen continues to select ‘Possum and Mr. Beaver for walks even though they are occasionally guilty of poor form.  Similarly, Tisen continues to attempt to walk Big Dog, but Tisen’s parents thwart each attempt.

In spite of Lamb’s superior aptitude for fitting in Tisen’s mouth and squeaking, she had begun to look unkempt.  She was described by one witness as “having crusty spots with pieces of mulch stuck in them.”  Authorities suspect that Lamb was suffering from some level of neglect and may have fallen into a deep depression, preventing her from grooming properly.

It’s possible the disappearance of ‘Possum preceded Lamb’s, contributing to Lamb’s depression.  The two were often seen together and some witnesses imply they may have had an “unnatural” relationship.  These rumors were what originally led authorities to suspect an illicit affair.

Others speculate that this is a sick ploy on the part of Lamb to demonstrate to Tisen just how important she is.  Lamb may have gambled that Tisen would be so distraught without her that, upon her return, she would be his favorite once more.  If this really is Lamb’s intention, she may find it back-fired upon her return.

Rather than moping and looking for Lamb, Tisen is content to carry ‘Possum, Lion, Minnie, Baby Beaver, and Mr. Beaver in her place.  It’s unclear that Tisen has even noticed her disappearance.

If you see Lamb or anyone who closely resembles her, please comment below.  We need to find this lost lamb before Tisen completely forgets her.

George Tisen and Mr. Beaver

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, George Tisen, aka Tisen, has a new friend. His name is Mr. Beaver. Unlike Red Dog and Squirrel, Mr. Beaver required a more formal title.

Mr. Beaver was yet another spontaneous purchase, this time at Target. I responded to some super natural force that caused me to turn unexpectedly down the dog toy aisle. In spite of the fact that Tisen now has a squeaky toy collection of Red Dog, Squirrel, Puppy Love, and Minnie Teddy in addition to 3 squeaky Kong tennis balls, I felt compelled to add Mr. Beaver to the collection. It seems neither one of us can resist a squeaky toy. I’m guessing our neighbors in our echo-chamber apartment building love them just as much as we do.

But George Tisen loves his toys so much, it’s hard to resist buying him another one. Especially when he does something as adorable as he did today. He took Mr. Beaver with him on our evening walk. I managed to get Mr. Beaver out of his mouth long enough to slip the collar over Tisen’s head, but when I tried to push Mr. Beaver out of the way of the door, Tisen snagged him up and headed out the door with him in his mouth. I was too overcome by the giggles to take Mr. Beaver away and leave him at home.

Tisen often likes to carry toys with him on walks, but this is the largest he’s insisted on taking with him. Last time I let him carry a toy, it was a tennis ball. He got bored with it and set it down in the gutter just before we crossed a busy street. I didn’t realize he’d set it down until we got well into the park. Luckily, it was still sitting where he left it on the way back and he snapped it back up again on the way home.

Today, I’m confident Mr. Beaver won’t fair so well if Tisen leaves him somewhere, so I watch him like a hawk for signs he’s planning to set Mr. Beaver down. He holds Mr. Beaver all the way across the street, through the parking lot, past the first pee stop, and doesn’t set him down until we’re at the first grassy knoll. I pick up Mr. Beaver just to ensure he doesn’t end up in the line of fire since Tisen is sniffing around. Tisen turns around and grabs Mr. Beaver immediately, apparently upset that I’ve picked him up.

At one point, Tisen spots an area that’s recently been dug up. He sets Mr. Beaver down and starts to dig like he’s going to bury him. I tell him he can’t bury Mr. Beaver and pick him up again. Tisen takes him back once more and doesn’t set him down again until we’re inside the apartment.

It’s better entertainment and cheaper than a movie.