Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Juice Retrospective

Juice is 5 years old now — and still so terrific. and of course i’m totally objective. but even if i’m not, i’ve heard enough complements from other folks to know conclusively that i have a special dog. even on day one, i knew i hit the jackpot. i well remember that day when i went to the South LA pound to choose my puppy. little did i know that they actually choose you. it was a Friday in mid-July, a hot day, making for one stinky animal shelter. i walked through the kennels and surveyed the barking pups. at that point, i wanted to take all of them home. city shelters are fucking depressing.

but then this little pup caught my eye. she wasn’t barking. she was sitting quietly looking up at me, blinking her dark eyes. in her kennel were two boys, presumably her brothers from the same litter, who were barking wildly and wrestling each other in an attempt to rope my attention. but she sat silent and calm nearby, just staring, staring. so i stared back. cupid must have surfaced at that moment to shoot his arrow into my heart. love at first sight. the decision had been made.

i walked through the remainder of the pound out of obligation, all the while knowing i had already found what i came for. that charade must have lasted five minutes before i turned to find the guard with the keys, who opened the gate, grabbed the lone female pup out of the litter, the runt, and placed her into my arms, creating a moment of sheer cosmic divination. this was the big it. we belonged to each other. she was about six weeks old.

at the shelter, the employees told me i was getting a rottweiler who would likely grow to 90 pounds. she had enormous paws and a black face with brown teardrop markings that are characteristic of rotts. the tips of her paws were frosted white, like a french manicure. and her puppy countenance seemed a touch serious, belying her gentle nature.

as she grew, however, it became clear that she wasn’t a rott at all. she was more of a Shepard with floppy ears and a snout like a lab. her cute face — which i found cutest when she slept — gradually turned brown and sweeter. and she grew to only 75 pounds.

she was crazy affectionate, too — almost bordering on needy. it took a long while before she could be left alone without incident. the first time i tried, i jetted to the grocery store for an hour and came home to neighbors standing outside my door, demanding to know what torture was being conducted inside. apparently, Juice had alarmed the neighborhood with her intense howling. this alarmed me in turn and really drove home the gravity of puppy parenthood. from that point on, everything became about training. and fortunately for me, Juice was a quick study.

people always ask me about the name. i can’t take credit; my ex named her. but it fits. she drools a lot, prompting the groomers i often take her to to call her Juicy Juice. she has a slew of other nicknames as well, which evolve with time. they include pretty girl, patoose, toots, cute cake, pinhead, perfect and bozo. but she is most thoroughly Juice. funny story about the first few years with her, when i lived in the fairfax & beverly area of LA, near the Hasidics, who would traipse through the neighborhood, usually to temple while i chased my pup up the street in a few botched attempts at walking her without a leash, screaming “Juice! Juice!” i got many stares and only realized later that they must have thought i was screaming “Jews! Jews!”

always a social and affectionate dog, Juice had many friends and admirers throughout the neighborhood, both canine and human. Chuck (pictured here) was her main man for a long while, before his owners moved out of state. they spent many a playdate locked in embraces. thankfully, they were both fixed.

but ultimately black Max took her heart. they’ve been best friends and lovers since puppyhood. Max is a year older and lives nearby, so they get to see each other weekly. from Max, Juice learned how to pee like a boy dog and how to wrestle with the best of them.

from me, Juice hopefully learned some of her good manners and how to while away her days by being lazy. she’s fairly mellow now, never aggressive or unruly, and she can walk without a leash. she’s definitely still needy, smiley, sweet, cuddly, gentle and perfect. i can’t imagine one thing that could make her a better dog.

but the question is — can lightning strike twice in the same household? Juice will have a sister soon. it’s my gift to her on her 5th birthday...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Other Matters

  • been beyond busy at work lately. it's like that promotion actually meant something, increasing my job duties tenfold. it's odd suddenly to have to earn each cent of my paycheck like this. i used to have more sit-on-my-ass downtime where i could internet surf, instant message and draft blog entries, which happened almost exclusively at work before. but now, on a sunday afternoon, when i should be sipping a mimosa over brunch somewheres, i'm finally drafting this long overdue post.

  • not to mention the abundance of freelance work that's come my way. i had this one project keeping me occupied the past few weeks -- a proof of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. i've read the book three times now and it still makes me think of Fred Gwynne playing Herman Munster. except that in the book, the Frankenstein monster is kind of a bastard.

  • not that freelance work is a bad thing. in fact i'd welcome more of it. (Dave, you reading this? employ me!) i must save some extra rubles because, next year, i intend to buy a domicile of my very own. yup, you heard it here first. i'm on a mission to become a homeowner. this has been on my mind for a while, and with timing being everything, the softening LA real estate market is looking more hospitable to first-timers like me. plus, i've discovered that by the standards of the city of los angeles in this great state of california, i'm considered low-income, meaning i qualify for all these cool incentives offered by the state and city (that aren't subprime) to help get me into the market.

  • but where would i move to? excellent question. of course, affordability is paramount here, and after careful consideration, i've decided that i can only move "east." not east like arizona or the orient, just due east of hollywood. it's a real momentous occasion for me to admit that i've finally grown tired of hollywood. the lack of parking, the congestion, the scensters -- over it! i guess i really am in my thirties now. (plus, i can't afford shit around here.) of course, i could never move to the westside because that's where my parents live, and north means the dreadful SF valley, which feels podunk to me since i grew up there; and south is far too close to orange county, so by default i must move my landlocked self to the eastside, to a deluxe apartment in the sky! of course, this is all very TBD. i'm still about a year away from move day.

  • my pops turned 60 last month! he's a young and strapping buck, i know. 60 is the new 50, and he still has all his hair. we went to a laker game at staples on his actual birthday. it was the last home game of the season, the game the lakers needed to win (against the sonics) to qualify for the playoffs. luckily, they won, and kobe scored 50 points that night. we had kick-ass seats, and kareem, who was also celebrating his 60th birthday, was in the crowd, prompting all of staples to stand and sing him happy birthday. i told my dad to imagine it was all for him, and i think he did, maybe just for a second.