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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Something About Ripley (And Chewy)

I wanted to write something on New Year’s Day. I wasn’t sure what…but something.
As I shooed away my dog; I thought about different “somethings” I could write about.
Maybe I could write about resolutions for 2014, I thought, as my little Yorkie-Poo threw his front paws up on my legs, wagging his tail and staring at me like a piece of bacon. Then I realized what a tired subject that is (whacking Ripley off my legs again); I don’t even make resolutions anyway, I remembered, snapping my fingers and pointing Ripley away from me.
It wasn’t long before I finally began that oft-promised piece on stamp collecting. Ripley ignored my clear instructions to exit the room, sitting quietly with his eyes peering into mine and occasionally turning his head a quarter-inch at a time. He looked on with the type of blankness that only a creature of incredibly low IQ can muster.
It’s not that I actually collect stamps, but I was going to make stuff up. Readers wouldn’t know the difference. Hilarious stamp-collecting references were flowing from my mind to the computer screen like magic, but there again was Ripley…having slowly wandered back over to my side and throwing his paws up onto my legs while I typed away.
“What, Ripley!” I yelled, wondering why he wasn’t snuggling with my wife like he normally does.
He didn’t answer of course, just twitched his head wildly. He dropped from my leg and executed a perfect 360 spin.
“What do you want?” I asked.
Anxious to unload the seven-pound burden on my wife, I followed as he lured me into the living room. There I saw his problem. All the fur-ball wanted was what he always wants; to hang out with his mom. He was blocked off from her by the New Year’s Eve fortress we constructed from a tipped-over couch, some cushions, and a roof of blankets.
I picked him up and tossed him over “The Great Wall of Couch Turned Sideways”. He bounced around excitedly, finally reunited with his master.
As I headed back to my computer I thought to myself, “Ripley! I should write about The Ripster!”
I’ve intended to write about him before, but just never got around to it. I put the legendary stamp-collecting post on hold. I decided Ripley would be the star of my New Year’s Day post.
It all started a few years ago when my wife and son stumbled across this hilarious picture on the internet.
“Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?”

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My wife fell in love instantly. It was a surprise to me, because she’s never been much of an animal person before. The only other pet we had was Chewy…this little ball of hair.

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Trust me, he didn’t stay this cute very long
It didn’t go well with Chewy. We spent 18 months over-feeding the little guy before his heart seized up during a midnight wheel-run. He’s the first known rodent to have a Richard Simmons intervention, but it came too late. Chewy was too far gone.
My wife started predicting Chewy’s demise after about three months in…
“Honey, I think it's time…” she would say.
“I think he’s just taking a nap,” I’d reply.
“No, something’s not right…he doesn’t have much time,” she’d assure me.
She treated every day like it was Chewy’s last; feeding him hamster Grainola bars like he was on death row. He went from looking like Simon to Theodore in a matter of weeks.
“He’s so fat, we’re gonna have to re-name him Precious,” I quipped.
“Shut up, jerk! Food is all he has!” she claimed.
The whole Chewy ordeal was a bust from the beginning. The harsh truth is that I dropped him on his head at PetCo while evaluating him. I wanted to toss him back into the tank after that.
“Umm…you’re gonna keep him now, right?” asked the associate.
“Do I have to?”
“Well, that was like…a pretty far fall,” he said, “I’m sure he’s fine…but…maybe you can get a backup too?”
I had heard enough. It’s no different if you knock an angel figurine off the shelf at Hallmark; you break it, you own it. I got the drift.
Chewy spent his first weeks gnawing at his cage relentlessly, desperate for an escape. He was no Andy Dufresne from Shawshank, his attempts were futile. (I know you pronounced that Doo-Fres-Knee at first).

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“Get me outta here!!”
Chewy spent his remaining days accepting his fate, eventually becoming blissfully institutionalized and getting fatter by the day. He would get the last laugh every day of his life; sticking his ass through the bars and taking relentless dumps outside the cage, kicking piss-soaked wood chips onto our floor, and just otherwise stinking and creating a hygienic hazard in our home.
It didn’t end until about 15 months after my wife started the death-watch…not until I pulled his stiff corpse from the hamster wheel and buried him in a Topps bag under our peach tree.
We did hold a service for him…but I can’t lie, it was brief.
With this in mind, you can imagine my concern for bringing a dog into our home. You screw up with a dog like we did with Chewy…that shit will be featured on the news. PETA will come for you.
But my wife fell in love quickly and there was no slowing her down. Within days we were up at Paws Across Oswego meeting the little guy. My wife crafted a tear-jerking thesis paper on why our family should be selected as Ripley’s new home. We don’t have his whole back-story, but Ripley was not your typical rescue-dog. Dozens of families were lined up for him. He is a lap dog fit for a queen.
My wife cheered wildly when we were selected as his new owners, and what started out as my son wanting to fill his only-child void with a dog, became about my wife having another “baby”.
It didn’t take long for Ripley to rule the roost.
For me, it was a slow process to accept the fact that most days…Ripley’s bare penis would be resting on my pillow while I was away at work. There are lots of places for him to rest during the day (including his own luxurious bed), but it seems he has settled on curling up on my pillow. Perhaps it’s symbolic.
This is no small matter either, as Ripley is somehow hung like a Great Dane. He’s the Tommy Lee of lap dogs in more ways than one.
For those that know us, Ripley is already a documented rock star. He is so coveted by
those we know, we have a multi-page report of all those who’ve offered to adopt him upon our tragic and simultaneous deaths. It’s to the point I worry about our safety. I worry about contracts on our life.
A simple trip to PetSmart is like getting a glimpse into the life of The Beatles. He is flocked by countless fans and puppy paparazzi seem to emerge from behind bags of dog food.
“Ripley! Ripley!” shout his fans.
Trips to the park, to Wyatt’s school, to the village of Skaneateles; they all end the same way with flocks of on-lookers gathered around this little dog. The funny thing is that he hates them all, he pities his fans like most divas do.
Despite the stress of his fame, he still leads a mostly relaxed and charmed life.
The dog is spoiled rotten by my wife. She holds him like a baby…talks to him like a baby. She gave him a middle name: Edward. Yes, Edward is his middle name. My middle name is Edward. Wyatt’s middle name is Edward. Do you see where I’m going with this?
“Ripley Edward Braun!” she’ll shout if he doesn’t respond to her first call. Like clock-work, he knows that she means business.
I won’t be shocked if one day I come home and she has him fitted in Pampers. He already has a Christmas sweater, Dracula costume, and a jogging shirt.
Ripley doesn’t have a veterinarian…he has a team of medical professionals who consult on his health. Somehow it took us seven years to realize our own son has tree allergies, but Ripley was diagnosed with his allergies within weeks and prescribed a custom diet to better suit his needs.
My biggest complaint about Obamacare is that it didn’t spearhead any initiatives for the inclusion of pets. How am I supposed to afford that inevitable organ transplant Ripley is sure to receive in ten years?
Ripley doesn’t have a groomer either…he has a permanent stylist who understands his particular hair. The stylist is only allowed to work on him under the terms of the “premium express package”. This means no crating or inter-mingling with “less desirable” clients.
For the most part, Ripley is a very well-behaved dog: he’s not noisy, he’s usually calm, he is playful when you want him to be playful. He does, however, have two major flaws.
Like most dogs, he’s a relentless beggar. Even after all the terrible things I’ve said to him (threats of being returned to the cages of Oswego, etc.) and my utter refusal to give him as much as a piece of corn…this dog begs from me with incredible optimism.
The wife caves in of course, just not so much as to jeapordize his skin health as she calls it.
Most annoying, is his genuine passion for licking those dear to him. He licks my monkey arms like a Nutty Buddy. It’s gross, but Ripley’s therapist says it’s his way of showing affection, so of course he’s granted full-blown licking immunity throughout the home.
Even his stylist has become a proud recipient of his licks.
After three-plus years, my wife is still asking me to admit I love the dog. I’m not willing to go that far because I’m just too damn manly. I actually take the time to remove the “I Love my Yorkie-Poo” magnet from my wife’s car when I drive it.
That said, based on the length of this post, it will probably be one of my kidneys he receives ten years from now. Let’s just say, he’s growing on me.

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