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rasuperdog.comDuring this time of floating in the purgatorial state of Between Jobs, I’ve been required to suit up for the occasional job interview. It’s been a while, to be sure, and it all feels a little off after ending a career after twenty one years at the same company.

We had a good run these last two decades, this job and me, but it feels good to make a change. It really does. I’ve been gifted with the resources to go back to school, while considering the possibilities of Career 2.0.

But, ugh, y’all. Interviews. Sure, I know can’t get hired anywhere without going through the matchmaking process. But my interviewing skills need some dusting off. Nobody said as much, but I get the feeling, you know?

“Tell us about what you feel is your greatest asset,” they ask.

“Oh!” I say. “I know this one!” I perch closer to the end of my chair. Whoops, too close.

“It’s my positive attitude.” I cry. “It’s ridiculous. If somebody says the sky is falling, I’m like well, better grab an umbrella. What? Give you a real life example? Yeah, so this happened. I get a separation package when my job turned drinking age and I’m all [whoot!] Total Career Change, y’all.”

“…,” they say, turning over my resume to see if they missed some critical piece of info on the other side. “And you’re like this all the time?”

“Well, no,” I say. “Of course not. Good stuff happens to. You should see when I get a good parking space. There’s no living with me then.”

You know I’m exaggerating here for the sake of art, right? I’d never be so inappropriate as to raise the whoot roof, so to speak, during an interview. I think I read that advice on a LinkedIn article.

And so what’s the obligatory antithesis to the Greatest Asset question? Right. They want to know about your opportunities for improvement. Your Greatest Weakness. No prob. I got this one, too.

You see, I take on too much and end up sacrificing something otherwise useful, say like sleep or breathing, to get everything done. In my attempts to fill up life with everything I can, I pump up my stress levels.

I am sorely aware of my need to be choiceful about how I commit my time. This fatal flaw of mine transcends from gainful employment to volunteerism. So of course there I was on another rainy Saturday morning, wondering why I agreed to volunteer at the day’s event; a full hour’s drive away.

Let’s be real here. I wasn’t even asked. I contacted the organization and, taking the combo of both noun and verb volunteer to heart, asked if they needed a Pet Therapy team for their weekend camp.

Because it just seemed a brilliant idea to me. This was a camp environment for youth that have experienced a profound personal loss in their young lives. A place for healing. Of course, there’d be counselors on staff. But what about the quiet presence of a therapy dog?  Wouldn’t that be of a certain benefit?

I was thrilled to find they agreed. But as the day got closer, I started to get that tickle of doubt. After all, what do I know about healing the wounds of the soul?

“Why did I do this?” I asked The Husband. “What was I thinking? I have so much on my plate with the job search and school and … why did I think that I could make a difference when I don’t even know what to do?”

“Go,” says The Husband. “You committed to it. Take Micron and find out.”

And so on that Saturday morning, with windshield wipers slapping, Micron and I navigated the long drive to a recreational campground outside Cincinnati.

You’d think I’d learn by now. It has so little to do with me. I’m just the chick who holds the leash.

Because, you see, Micron knows exactly what to do.

MicronWhatever it is, some proprietary canine sixth sense perhaps, the dog knows when to lighten a moment with his golden antics or when he should just be still to allow a quiet moment to be stroked.

During these times I busy myself with writing in a notebook or some other benign activity that allows Micron a one-on-one session without my interference. Keeping a mental eye on things to make sure nothing goes awry, I otherwise offer little engagement. The dog gives full attention to his new handler while their own style of communication goes on.

He gives full eye contact, permits a full body hug even when that’s not really his favorite thing.

A tweener lies on the floor next to him, spooning along his back as she talks gently to him. Only he can hear her.

Whether he understands her words or not doesn’t really matter, does it?

While the others are involved in camp activities, there may be some who stay back. It’s their choice, of course. Only encouragement is offered here, not pressure to participate. Yet, there is a dog over there in the corner looking your way. Would you like to brush him for a few minutes? See, he especially likes this on his tummy.

In the art cabin, my dog is ready to hear about your memory project as the glue dries on the photos.

Micron & Mazy

Micron & Mazy, pet therapy

Later at the high ropes course, Micron and a few camp counselors are offering a photo op for the photographer (this is my good side, Micron says), when my dog turns his head. He breaks from the group to beeline towards a young fellow sitting on a bench.The two bend to touch foreheads together.

How does he know?

I have to be honest here. This gives me chills. Every darn time. I’ve seen my dog do this too many times to dismiss it as mere coincidence.

And I wonder how someone of the likes of me ended up as the caregiver of this amazing creature.

As we end this day of time-well-spent, there is talk of continuing this thing of pet therapy with future youth events.

And of course, I agree.

Because I’ve decided to be choiceful of how I commit my time.

Curse You, Red Baron

Bring it, Red Baron
No really. Bring it. Food Lady wants pizza.

Micron! cries Holly. She runs into the kitchen where The Mighty is licking the last of the peanut butter from inside his Kong toy.

You’ll never guess what I did today! says Holly. Never in a gazillion dog years! Guess!

Sounds like the odds are against me, says Micron. But whatever it was, I know it didn’t involve a peanut butter Kong on the sofa. So there.

Ooh, peanut butter Kong, sighs Holly.

Yeah, says Micron.

Dang, says Holly. But listen to this! I got to fight the Red Baron today!

You fought a frozen pizza? asks Micron. Who won?
Read the rest of this entry

One degree off the normal scale

I have every intention of eating these sticks.

When I declare my dog as one degree off the normal scale of things, most times I get an askance look of skepticism.

Aw, c’mon, is the usual response. Only one degree?

Well, I gotta say, he is one of a kind, the mighty Micron.

We all think our dogs are unique, don’t we?  And of course, you’re right in this observation because really, who knows your dog better than you?

Nobody, that’s who.

We live with these critters and by going through the circadian rhythm of eating, walkies and evening cuddle time, we get to know every nuance and behavior of our canine companions. So that if they should do something a bit off point, we find ourselves surprised at the change in behavior.

And it’s the same for The Mighty. This dog has been part of my life for nearly five years now. We welcomed him in our home in November 2009 as an eight week old cotton ball and, except for three months in Advanced Training at Canine Companions for Independence, he’s been hanging around here eating my food, napping in the office, and generally leaving dog hair all over the place.

I think we both know each other fairly well by now. Both of with secrets about the other that we’ll never tell. That’s a partnership, people.

To recognize Micron’s impending birthday this week (he turns five on Tuesday), we’ll share with you five Micron-isms that can only be this one awesome dog o’mine.

1. Micron does this wink thing. 

Hey girl. You must be my backyard
because I’m really digging you.

What a flirt with this one-eyed Hey Ladies slow wink he does.

As a puppy, I would insist our veterinarian put on her special microscope glasses to inspect his root-beer orbs. A rogue eyelash? Some foreign object adrift in there? No, she says. I actually have no idea.

Still today, he winks at me. I wink back. And he returns the wink.

Back and again we go. It just never gets old.

This behavior reminds me of the empathy game we did for Dognition last fall, which involved an experiment to see if Micron could “catch” a yawn from me.

Spoiler alert … he didn’t.

But this winking thing we’ve got going on is a whole nuther animal, so to speak.

I pretend it’s code for I love you. 

Because, you know, if it is I don’t want to not say it back.

2. He’s part sea lion. Or something.

I’ve never seen a dog lie down like that before, says the casual observer.

And you likely won’t again anytime soon, I will reply.

Otherwise referred to as his boneless chicken impersonation, the dog has some remarkably loose joints.

Flat upon his sternum with his front legs bent like the wings of a fledgling bird, this is Micron’s position of comfort.

Always has been.

A standing conversation at his twice yearly vet check-ups, yet nothing seems to be amiss here. He’s not offering up any signs of discomfort or pain, so until we reach the If & When I’m going with the only thing I have to work with here. Keeping him active and at a healthy weight.

And just shrugging when fielding the Huh, that’s really weird how he …

3. He smells like mushroom soup when he gets wet

It’s rather nostalgic, this sensory phenomena.

Just like that can of Campbell’s Mushroom Soup that your mom would heat on the stove for you. By adding milk, of course. Not water.

No budgetary shortcuts for our grilled cheese and mushroom soup lunch at our house. Heck, we were living large by putting two packets of Kool-Aid in the pitcher to make our own custom flavor experiences.

That’s how well off we were. I just want you to know that.

But anyway, he does. Smell like mushroom soup. Maybe it has something to do with the same genetics in play with the sea lion thing.

You know? Like whatever gene makes a calico cat nearly always female?

Maybe it’s his doggie DNA.

Who knows. Or could just be a matter of a good dollop of chamomile shampoo to remedy things.

4. Micron has a kind of ESP

I’m not here to judge you. Oh wait …

Like his spidey senses are tingling or whatever.

We talked about this way back on The Micron Effect when we were still training to be a Pet Therapy team.

My dog has a way of recognizing who is internalizing the most emotional turmoil in a room.

It’s rather interesting to have a canine barometer during a business meeting in the office. What I may miss in body language, Micron will quietly alert to.

How though? What is he possibly picking up in his assessment? A change in body chemistry … a scent perhaps?

An enigma for we mere humans, to be sure. But to me that’s not the big question.

No, what I really wonder is Why? Micron picks up on the stress and decides to take action on it by placing his body near the person. At times, even putting his head on their feet.

What motivates him to do this?

Even more fascinating about this is his littermate, Madden, does the same I’m told. Madden is a pet therapy volunteer in another part of the country. And when he’s on the job, he will find the person in the room who needs him most. Every time.

You just can’t train this kind of thing, folks.

It’s a gift.

5. He’s a retriever. Level: Extreme

Must. carry. something.

In his mouth. Something.

You came back from the mailbox! Wait, gotta grab the first thing I see [a shoe] and circle you.

You’re one of my favoritest people in the office! Hang on! Gotta grab something [destuffed toy] and show you my belly to rub.

A pizza! Thanks for bringing this to our house! Don’t move! Gotta grab something [goes for cat. changes mind. pulls arm cover from sofa] and scare the heck out of you by bouncing with it to the door.

Hi little girl. Welcome to the library. Sit down and read to me … wait a sec … your purse looks like a stuffed cat … [heavy breathing].

We have this weekly ritual with Micron after our Sunday grocery run. We purchase not just one, but two, rolls of paper towels for Micron to carry back to the house.

It’s his job. This is serious business.

He expects to perform this weekly duty and we comply. Because who wants to disappoint their dog this way? Not this chick.

For a short video clip of Micron performing, kind of, this important task check out Mutiny of the Bounty.  I’ll merely preface by saying it did not go as expected.

And good grief, the daily paper. It is Micron’s morning obligation to bring in the newspaper. Even the weighty Sunday edition.

What would you do without me, he asks.

What indeed, my fluffy companion.

Happy 5th Birthday, my amazing dog.  I do love you so.

Garden Salsa

Do you know why I pulled you over? asked the Dayton City cop.

The Husband doesn’t respond at first to those least favorite eight words of the wayfarer. He’s focused on going through the preliminaries of getting out his license.

Well, continues the City’s Finest. To tell you the truth, I normally wouldn’t have bothered with someone just a couple miles over the speed limit like you were. But since you passed me, I just can’t let it go.

And that’s it. A matter of maintaining street cred. We’re moving down a four lane road, this section of State Route 35, and we actually did pass this cop just as he charged. Guilty and guilty, can’t deny it.

We drove away a few minutes later with a well-rehearsed tongue lashing, not suffering ticket for our trouble. But we didn’t tell him about the precious cargo in the enclosed bed of our Chevy S-10 truck. Enough delay already.

Because we’re on our way to the only emergency veterinary clinic in the Miami Valley area.

This all came to happen a few years ago with Jack the Wonder Dog. Our impulsive, garbage overturning, dead bird eating friend. I had come home from work to find our young dog nearly unresponsive on the kitchen floor.

A panicked call to the vet’s office (His gums are white? He’s gone into shock; get him to the emergency clinic) and we wrapped the big guy in blankets and carried him to the truck for the trek across town.

A happy ending to this, as these things go. A couple of days at the emergency clinic followed by another few at our own veterinary office and he was right as rain.

If rain means three weeks of diarrhea, that is.

It still looks like butterscotch pudding, I would lament to our vet on the phone as I collected the soiled newspapers from the kitchen floor.

Then it has form, she said. That’s better.

The stinker of it all (heh. stinker) is we had no definitive idea of what he got down the gullet that brought him to this dire state of affairs. The dog had some sort of weird oral fixation and would swallow anything that could get past his tongue.

Anything, y’all. I’m not kidding.

Did you see the article this past week passed about the internet from Veterinary Practice News declaring the 2014 contest winners of “They ate WHAT?”  No? Well, take a look at what some examples of just how a pet can get your vet’s undivided attention.

I’ll wait here until you get back.

[going for donuts]

Back already? So what did you think when you saw those 43 1/2 socks that defied digestion by the three year old Great Dane?

I’ll tell you what I thought.


This past dramatic event of Jack the Wonder Dog was brought to mind as I caught Micron doing a dine and dash with my patio cherry tomatoes just a few days ago.

Hang in there, ‘lil tomater.
Just kidding.
You’re doomed.

Oh sure, I’ve heard about the shady history of the tomato, thought for many years to be toxic to humans. But we now know this to be folklore of eons past. But still, the metabolism of a canine is, in many ways, different than our delicate balance of hooman bean gut flora. It’s worth a check.

Did you know?  The ASPCA Poison Control website has a database of plants that are toxic to our beloved pets. A good site to bookmark, y’all.

I find that no, tomatoes are not toxic to the mighty Micron and his ilk. A huge relief, of course. But not so fast there, scooter.  It seems that the stems and leaves of the common tomato plant do indeed pose a potential danger.

That I did not know.

My goofy dog doesn’t have an interest in the tartness of the sticky stems of the tomato plant. Instead he focuses his efforts on the low hanging fruit.

You’d think this to be a self-correcting behavior.
And you’d be wrong. So wrong.

Things are just off the Worry Radar, until later when he moves on to the jalapeno pepper plant.


Ok, here we go again.

The good news is that, aside from the will-it-burn-twice phenomena, the jalapeno pilfered pepper popper should move smoothly through the golden retriever alimentary tract.

Although not recommended, really. To avoid stomach upset and other gastrointestinal distress, up to and including some gas attacks possibly toxic to humans watching television at the end of a tough workday, it’d be best to take away the offending pepper from the noshing canine.

Do you need some sour cream to cut that sting?, I ask The Mighty.

No, wheezes Micron. I’m good.

Right. Copy that, big guy.

Enjoy your garden salsa, my veggie stealing dog.

Wish I could.

Oh yeah … that’s good stuff.

What foods are toxic to your dog? 

Well, Micron’s version of salsa is limited to tomatoes and peppers.

Foods potentially dangerous to dogs. Click for people foods to avoid feeding your pet:

Sugar-free gum and candy (xylitol)

Other common backyard dangers to be aware of. Click for list of the top seventeen toxic plants:

Tulip & Narcissus bulbs
American Holly – leaves and berries
English ivy

Worried about something your pet has consumed? Don’t hesitate. Call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline.

We are your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

Click for ASPCA’s database of toxic and non-toxic plants

It’s Monday

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