Hot Dogs at the Ballpark

Hot Dawg
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen

So it sounded like a great idea at first…the Greenville Drive, our local minor league baseball team, partnered with the Greenville Humane Society to host “Bark in the Ballpark,” a day where baseball lovers could come out to the park and bring their furry family members along as well. Our greyhound group discussed making an appearance and the local greyhound club took the reigns to organize something with the Drive/Fluor Stadium so that not only could we have a tent to sit under, but we could talk about greyhound adoption in between innings. The kids and I headed downtown, me with “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” ringing in my head and them with “She’s Taking Us Out of the House!!” written all over their smiling greyhound faces.

Those smiles faded quickly, though, when we arrived. I had budgeted for free parking (What was I thinking? Just because Greenville is littered with parking decks that there would magically be one at the stadium? Silly me…) and $5 general admission, leaving me a bit of cash for a drink and maybe some ice cream…it is June in the southern United States, after all.

No parking deck was to be found but there were lots of helpful people with orange flags ready to direct me into the surrounding parking lots and take $5 of the cash I’d brought so that I could park there and walk to the stadium. We did that, and started up the hill on the hot pavement toward Fluor Stadium. Got to the ticket window and there were all kinds of dogs there…on flexi-leads. I’ll save that rant for another post.

Up to the window…1 for general admission, please? She asks if I have dogs. Yes. She asks how many. Three. She explains that all the dogs are in the reserved seating so that will be $6. Okay. My $5 plan has become $11 in a matter of minutes, but I’m still hanging in there. That’s what man made debit and credit cards for, right?

I asked her about where the tent for the greyhounds would be, and if that was in the reserved seating. She didn’t know what I was talking about. That should have been a sign for me to take the money and run (sorry…had the car radio on 70’s rock all weekend) but I didn’t. We headed into the stadium.

The Greenville Humane Society had a tent right at the entrance with water bowls…we skipped that because I was just positive that we’d have plenty of water at our tent.

Only there was no tent.

The organizer, the one that had called to set up the tent and the between-innings appearance wasn’t there. In fact, I only found three other families from my adoption group still there by the time we got there. We, along with all the other dog people, were put out on the concrete just behind reserved seating (if you’re looking at the baseball diamond we were just behind first base). Next to us was the concessions area with blessed shade, and before I’d even found my group I was headed there so the kids could cool off from the walk from the car/standing in line in the sun to get tickets.

A very apologetic young man in a Greenville Humane Society shirt stepped in front of me to tell me that dogs weren’t allowed under the shade at the concession area, but that he would be glad to hold them for me while I went to get food.

Let me just process that a moment…I don’t fault the humane society because they were just doing what they were told by the stadium…but you’d think, being the HUMANE SOCIETY they would see a flaw in not allowing dogs in the one place in the whole stadium that has shade…in June, in South Carolina, at 4pm in the afternoon when it is 80+ degrees Fahrenheit outside. But I digress.

I found the other members of my group and stayed about half an hour. We shared our car mat to at least give some barrier between the dogs and the concrete. They shared water and Miss Becky even got an ice cream for them to share with her boy Stormy. Finally I decided that I’d had enough and that the dogs had long since had enough, so we left to go home.

Perhaps this is why I prefer soccer?

The Traveling Wilburys…err…Lassiters…err…

Here’s a quick summary of the past three weeks of our lives.

4th-6th June

Took time off work to pack and get ready to move, hoping the movers would be available on Friday, 6 June. Wrong. Book them for Saturday, 7 June instead. Took my time doing anything, really, that resembled packing/cleaning until late on Thursday, 5 June when I realized that my parents would be arriving the next morning.

7th June

Movers arrive on time. All goes well until they try to get my sofa, chair, and refrigerator in the house. After much prodding, struggling, and some disassembly, all three items are in place and movers leave. Mom and Dad hang around for a bit and then head home.

(And from the files of this ONLY happens in my family, they were hit by a bear on their way home…at least that’s how Mom tells it. Poor BMW. Poor Bear.)

8th June

Sorted out what’s left of what is now referred to as “The Other House.” Cleaned the front of the house. Stacked all that’s left to be moved (from the front rooms) in the sitting room by the door and vacuum. Looked despairingly at the rec room and headed to “my house” to plug in the cable box and modem and watch TV/surf the net/play Everquest in an attempt to forget about said rec room.

(Did I mention that when I called Charter to transfer my service I found out that the folks that lived here before me never cancelled their service when they moved and I therefore had to wait till I could provide proof that I lived here – a lease – before they would transfer it? Did I also mention that I was advised BY CHARTER to go on and use the connections that were still live in the house until it could get transferred because it was already paid up in full? No? Ah. My bad.)

Plugged in cable box…waited for 12:00 to magically switch to the time. Waited a little longer. Wonderedwhy the box says 105 (BBC America, natch) but nothing is happening on the screen. Found cable wires all over the house and started attaching them one by one to the modem. Wondered why nothing is happening. Called Charter.

Discovered that a. the family that was here before didn’t use Charter for television, hence the black screen on the telly-box and b. that there was at least ONE live connection for the internet somewhere in the house. I just had to find it. Further discovered that when the first Charter employee told me that all I had to do was be at the house when the tech showed up, lease in hand to prove occupancy…well, the nice way to put what he said was that she was wrong. Canceled that appointment…which was a mistake. (Found out later that because it was canceled I now have to start all over with a very long visit to the local Charter office…but thanks to a lovely employee called Maria I’m set for this coming Friday to have my TV and internet back.)

Found hot line for modem. Logged into email and Everquest and happy happy happy. Slept downstairs on the sofa with the dogs around me wondering if this was all going to turn out to be a mistake.

9th- 13th June

Have you ever had to go to work AND try to live out of two houses AND try to move out of one into the other all at the same time with NO television to keep you sane? If not, all you need to know is this…I got a lot of use out of “Oh what FRESH HELL is this?” that week (thank you Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, Episode “The Dumpling Paradox“)…including a trip to Orangeburg, SC, for work that turned out to be a no-show appointment. Boo-YAH.

14th June

Saturday came and went and was largely uneventful. Had a visit from a friend in town on greyhound business. It was not until later on Saturday that I found that my best friend Leah had fallen and broken her ankle. She was in the hospital and would have to have surgery. Kick my anxiety level on up another notch, will ya? Not quite high enough. That news colored everything that came after.

15th June-Father’s Day

Plan: Go to Georgia, arriving 1:30. Have lunch with parents, visit, return home.
Actual events: Receive phone call that house will be shown at 4pm that day even though I didn’t have 24hrs notice and I had no way to get the animals out of the house prior. Spend day trying to be happy and celebrate with my dad but internally churn up enough anxiety to drive me inpatient, convinced that my house was being sold out from under me and that I’d have to move AGAIN. Return home, receive lease and reassuring email from landlord that I’m safe here till December. Much Everquest ensued.

Yesterday and today have been pretty normal workdays. Leah came through her surgery about forty pounds heavier in the foot (steel plate, etc) but otherwise fine. No more fresh hell, at least not for the time being. I got to see the mid season finale of Battlestar Galactica on You Tube. I will say, though, that I may have put myself off The Big Bang Theory by the time I get television up and running on Friday…I’ve watched the same few episodes several times and can quote “The Dumpling Paradox” episode.

“Hey Sheldon, you forgot something!”
“This plasma grenade. Looook! It’s raining you!!”

Faith 0, Humanity 2

So the dogs and I went out for a meet and greet at a local pet store yesterday, right? While we were there, Hunky had an appointment to get groomed in the hopes that a professional could get the extra hair out of his coat that is currently covering my furniture and kicking up my allergies.

Our appointment was at 1:45. I brought his rabies certificate in as requested, discussed with the groomer what I needed done and what I didn’t need done, and left him in their care. I was concerned, as I always am when I leave my animals with people I don’t know…and to make it worse, they were adamant that if he was on the grooming table I should make sure he couldn’t see me. They seemed concerned that he would get very excited when he saw me and try to jump off the table. I mentioned that he couldn’t see that far or through a glass window anymore anyway, but I don’t think she believed me.

Back to the meet and greet…Daisy was anxiously waiting for me and Jeany looked like she was miserable. Status Quo. We met and we greeted (how tempted was I just now to type “gret?”) and all was well until a strange little man with a little too much bling on his hands and an aversion to looking any of us in the eye approached the table. It seems that he was a representative of an invisible fence company, and wanted to try and convince us that an invisible fence was the only way to go if you love your animals.

I’m going to take a second, dear readers, and mention that if you (or someone you love) has an invisible fence and you (or that special someone) can sleep at night knowing that you’ve strapped an electrode to your dog that would make you almost wet your pants were you to hold it in your hand and approach the perimeter, or that while your dog can’t leave the yard without a zap the other neighborhood dogs who are irresponsibly left to run loose can enter your yard and harass your dog at will, or, even better, that if your dog is a greyhound that can be at full speed in three strides so you’re basically playing Russian roulette with his or her life that he or she will be moving so fast through the perimeter that the only pain he or she will feel is when he or she is struck by a car outside of the perimeter of that bloody stupid invisible fence…then have at it. But never, ever let it be said that someone doesn’t know my opinion on invisible fences…and that my opinion on the fence colors how I feel about someone who would leave their “beloved” pet behind one, waiting to get shocked.

Whew! Okay, so back to yesterday. Fence Man tries everything that he can to convince us that as a group we are mistreating our hounds because our group does not adopt to people that use invisible fences for containing their animals.

Let me say that again…we do not support invisible fences. I’m sure we all said it numerous times yesterday…so one wonders why Fence Man continued to try to sell it to us?

Fence Man made outrageous claims, our favorite being that he could personally guarantee that the fence would work for each of our hounds. Is that right? You can guarantee that my dog, who, by the way, can be at 40 mph in three strides from a standing position, will be contained in your fence? Is that because you ramp up the voltage to get my dog’s attention? Is that really a selling point? Oh no, he assured us, it’s because he personally trains the dogs and the owners on the proper use of the fence. It’s a week long training.

Seems to me it would take about five minutes. Put electrode on dog. Take dog to perimeter. Watch dog writhe in agony. Take dog away from perimeter. Watch dog go back in house and never ever leave again. All done! Dog contained.

My argument about the dog being at 40mph in three strides was the only one that he didn’t have an answer for, by the way. We told him they will ignore it if their prey drive kicks in and they take off after something. He countered that his training would break them of that habit. Habit? Um, sorry Fence Man, that’s actually thousands of years of instinct. We told him about the other animals being free to wander in and out of the yard. He countered that under controlled situations that was never a problem. I’m sorry, isn’t the reason for this torture device so that it will control the situation and I don’t have to lift a finger?

Finally Fence Man was reduced to lying. Outright lying. He told us that he worked with “that big group in Greensboro, NC” and that he had personally trained lots of their greyhounds with the fencing and that “they totally support me and what I do.” He then wanted to know what was wrong with our group. Now there are two fairly large adoption groups in Greensboro and I am about 95% sure that neither of them would support this kind of “fencing” for their hounds they adopt out. When we confronted him with his lie, he resorted back to insulting us. “I can’t believe you don’t really love these dogs.” “It’s just ridiculous that your group wouldn’t take advantage of a free offer to show you how well this fencing will work for your dogs.” He finally left after saying the bit about the free offer again and being told that our group did not support his fencing, but if he wanted to talk to the group’s director that he was welcome to do so.

Oh, and on the way out, we saw him with a nice 40lb bag of total crap dog food that he was taking home to feed his beloved dog that was probably bald around the neck from being zapped when it tried to escape.

Well, okay, but it was Beneful dog food. That part is true.

After all that ruckus things settled down and I waited for them to bring my handsome and no longer shedding boy out to finish him up so that I could show him off to everyone and not drop enough fur to make a new dog in the process. No Hunky. Dropped off at 1:45 and it was now past 3pm. She had told me it would take about 3 hours to do a groom on him which I thought was suspicious because it doesn’t take me that long when I’m chasing him around the yard with a hose trying to wash off the soap! But I digress. One of the other ladies went in and asked after him, to be told that he was in the back drying off and then he’d be done.

What? In the back drying off? Isn’t that why they have those drying machines, so that my dog doesn’t have to drip dry? Unless they put him under a dryer like my mother used to sit under when I’d go to the beauty shop with her, they let my dog drip dry because I watched the girls that were working…working on other dogs. I ran to the toilet and when I came back, one of the ladies at the table was holding my Hunky, my gorgeous…fluffy…slighly damp Hunky. Hunky was fluffy with visible loose fur in his coat and still damp in spots almost three hours after I left him with these people.

Oh, and let’s talk about the “fragrance” they left on my dog. On second thought, let’s not, it made my head pound just riding in the car with him on the way home yesterday. Thank goodness he loves his dog bed that has cedar in it.

Apparently when I didn’t want them to do his teeth or toenails (teeth don’t need it and he hates them to be brushed and his toenails are always potentially ready to shatter) I also excluded him from a certain package of service that includes de-shedding treatment of some sort. Hunky got brushed (I’m still not certain of that), bathed, “fragranced” (he smelled like a man on the pull, all he needed was a gold chain and some Colt 45) and was so happy to see me I thought my heart would break.

I have to admit here, dear readers, that I might have done something I shouldn’t have. I went in to get Hunky’s rabies certificate back because without that we don’t get into England in January and there was no one at the desk. I’m sure that they have to keep it on file, so I hope they had already xeroxed it because I snatched it and headed back out the door.

My poor boy. My poor nerves. I was literally (Susan? LITERALLY!) shaking by the time I got home. And I will never, EVER subject any of my dogs to that again unless the groomer is someone I know personally that I know will not make my Hunky into Leon Phelps. Seriously. That is disgusting.

What to do when you can’t sleep…

Make lists.

1. Sleep.

2. If number one doesn’t work, play Everquest.

3. Still awake? Cruise iTunes and discover that your new favorite band, Bitter:Sweet has a new album out. If you caught the first season of Lipstick Jungle, then you heard Bitter:Sweet in the theme song, The Bomb. I’ve been waiting for the album to come out and just happened to log into iTunes on the very day. Fate, I tell ya.

4. Weird Electronica not your cuppa? Try Christine Kane. Folksy, uplifting, just pretty darned awesome is how I’d describe her. One hundred thousand thank you’s, by the way, to Katy for introducing me to this wonderful singer/songwriter. My recommendation is one that seems to be mirroring my life at the moment, a song called Right Outta Nowhere from the album of the same name.

Some choices hold you down
Some chances set you free

Right outta nowhere
You open your heart
And let go of everything
You’re going somewhere
And all you need to know
Is that you’re free to go

Dream and the way will be clear
Pray and the angels will hear
Leap and the net will appear

5. Still no good? Well, it’s probably again not your cup of tea, but I’m loving Say by John Mayer. I love John Mayer, there, I said it…and this song is just one more in a long line of songs that tend to get set on repeat when they come on the iPod.

Hmmm…I think I may have bored myself sleepy posting…

6. Post to the Lettuce…zzzzzz…

More Proof

All you can do in this world, I think, is try to be a good person. Try to help your fellow man or woman or child. Try to give what you have that you don’t need. Try to be a shoulder for someone else to cry on when they need it. Try to make right the wrongs that you can, and continue to fight for the ones you can’t.

Because this world, beloveds, is horrible. It is full of people that do and say as they please with no regard for anyone else but themselves and theirs. It is overflowing with people who have so much yet ignore those that have so little. This world rewards selfishness. It rewards greed and blind ambition. This world praises competition to the point of ruthlessness. This world stomps on the heads of those deemed lesser on it’s way to becoming greater.

My friend Trish died today. Totally unexpectedly. Into hospital overnight last night and by tonight she’s gone. Trish, who took in ferrets that had been raised in mills and through love turned their tiny worlds around and gave them a home rather than just an existence, who took shy greyhounds and turned them into happy dogs, and who was raising a stunning reef. Trish, who listened to me cry and scream and rail against the world, God, and parts of my own family when my aunt died last August. Trish, who always seemed to know that right thing to say to make you smile, and who never let on that she was hurting or sick if she thought that a friend needed her.

I never met Trish in person. I knew her via a message board called GreyTalk, and more intimately when she adopted her girl Flippy through Follow That Hound. She wept with me over Profile’s loss, and cried happy tears that she would get to meet Hunk after he was found cancer free…she’d fallen in love with him through my books.

Trish was good and honest and loving…and she is gone, while others not so good nor honest nor loving still walk the world. The world that didn’t deserve her. So be kind to each other, if you can…this is just more proof that all we can do in the world today is find ways to survive.

I would never ignore a word of anything you entrusted me with, Nan. Know that now and always. I’m here for you, any time. Don’t be afraid to write. Don’t be afraid to call, or txt. All my love, the pups, and the rest of the critter’s but some of them aren’t quite as cuddly and comforting as others. LOL! I’m so so sorry for this loss, and I will vow to you to do everything I can to be here for you. You also have a strong circle of friends, and you know that. They’re all there for you too. Thank you for trusting me into that circle by sharing this letter with me. Everything you say to me, stays between us, unless you request otherwise.

Here’s a Flippy kiss. I guarantee you can’t get away from a Flippy kiss and a little of her talking, without a smile, even a tiny one.

Love ya, girlfriend,