descendants of dogs bred to fight other dogs
Tuesday, February 4 2014
This morning as Gretchen went around the house making the morning tally, she counted up five piles of shit and one pile of puke, all of which had happened at some point in the night from the respective ends of Darla's alimentary canal. Evidently she'd gotten into the walnut-husk-based cat litter we'd set out for Marie (aka "the Baby") in the living room, and it had gone through her like water through a filter-feeder, netting perhaps a bit lower percentage of nutrients in the process. In the past Darla had done the same with the corn-based "World's Best Cat Litter." But, come on, that was corn. This stuff was made of walnut husks! It turned out that Gretchen had missed a pile of shit somewhere else, and I found a seventh one in the laboratory. There is no end to the amount Darla will shit when she decides to eat cat litter.
Because Darla will eat any cat litter whose nuggets are principally composed of carbohydrates (even of the indigestible cellulose form), I grabbed the old litter box off the laboratory deck, a litter box I hadn't interacted with for years. I'd filled it with sand, and, judging from the many mummified cat turds I found in it it, it had gotten heavy use (probably from Sylvia and Julius — aka "Stripey"). Sand is an ideal cat litter material for the Baby; she urinates a lot and giving her an expensive clumping cat litter is a waste of resources. It would be better to give her a litter box full of sand and just clean it out every so often and replace the fifty cents worth of sand with a brand new batch. In any case, Darla seemed to have no interest in eating sand, even when flavored with cat piss.
Because I'd be having yet another meeting with my application client, I dug out the driveway in the late morning. There was only two or three inches to remove, though that's enough to cause trouble with two-wheel drive cars (or any car driven by anyone named Sarah).
As I was making my morning bagel (I'd bought them yesterday from Hannaford's bakery), Ramona returned late from the morning walk. At around that same time, Darla decided to jump up onto the couch in the place where Eleanor was reclined. Eleanor snarled at her, and within seconds a huge fight had erupted, mostly between Ramona and Eleanor (though the other dogs were definitely involved). Luckily Gretchen was there to help me separate the dogs as best we could, though this wasn't easy. Ramona had latched onto Eleanor's neck and her jaw was locked in that way we like to joke about Pit Bull jaws locking. But in this case it wasn't funny. I had to repeatedly punch Ramona with all the force my fist could deliver to get her to let go. And when she did let go, she immediately went in for another bite. This repeated several times, and I ended up with a bit on my right thigh and right forearm. Meanwhile Eleanor was biting Ramona's right forearm as best she could. When Gretchen and I finally managed to separate the dogs (the fight had probably only gone on for twenty seconds or so), Eleanor immediately ran outside and disappeared into the dog house.
Gretchen managed to extract Eleanor from the doghouse and I carried her up to the ottoman in the laboratory, literally kicking all the other motherfucking dogs out of my way in a rage. Eleanor had some injuries on her neck, and her collar was covered with a strange mucousy form of saliva that blind rage must have caused Ramona to secrete. When I finally got a chance to look at the bites that Ramona had accidentally inflicted on me, I saw that both of them were bleeding. They actually didn't look terribly different from the larger bites that bears had inflicted on both her and Eleanor, though there was only one canine puncture completely through my skin, and that was on my forearm. Interestingly, neither of the bite wounds had hurt anywhere nearly as badly as they looked like they should have. But that's how injuries sustained in the heat of battle usually feel.
The question, then, was this: why had Ramona freaked out and attacked Eleanor, her adoptive sister? Normally she loves Eleanor and would defend her to the death. But something about Eleanor's small altercation with Darla had caused Ramona to jump in, and she'd done so with an irrational desire to inflict as much damage as possible. Something had "clicked" in her brain, and forces that we normally never see had bubbled to the surface. We often joke about something someone had once said to my childhood friend Nathan about a Pit Bull owned by one of his tenants: "She'll turn." But there was no other explanation for this: Ramona had turned. And so, perhaps, had Eleanor. Of course, they'd also gone on to turn back and experience regrets for what they'd just done. But the fact remains, something deep and dark within them had manifested. Gretchen hates it when people generalize about dog breeds, particularly Pit Bulls, but even she had to agree after this that our dogs, descendants of dogs bred to fight other dogs, have a potential for violence in them that certain combinations of events can trigger. In this case the trigger had been Darla, which (owing to her poor canine social skills) shouldn't have been unexpected.
Eleanor ended up spending the rest of the day on the ottoman in the laboratory. She refused to eat and had no inclination to go outside (or anywhere). Eleanor is a sensitive soul, and conflicts can send her into a multi-day depression. Unfortunately, her depression was infectious and weighed on both Gretchen and me for the rest of the day.
In the early afternoon I had another contentious meeting with the client for whom I am building this increasingly-complicated application. The project depresses me because nothing is ever quite good enough for the client and he has no patience, complaining about things he asked for days ago that there was no way for me to get around to implementing. He's a nice guy, but I also sort of hate him. But at least today he brought me a $2000 check.
This evening I watched about half of the debate between Bill Nye, a science popularizer I don't know much about, and Ken Ham, the creator of the Creation Museum (where animatronic dinosaurs cavort with animatronic humans in defiance of all the fossil evidence). In theory, such debates always hold so much promise, but in practice they're maddening and inconclusive. A scientist speaks a language that is foreign to a fundamentalist, and so the two debaters are always talking past each other. Ham's supporting arguments included the existence of otherwise-unknown (but real) scientists who happen to be young-earth creationists (one designed a gear for a robot used on the Space Shuttle!) and the embarrassing presence of passages in the writings of Charles Darwin that sound racist to the modern sensibility. In other words, for the most part he wasn't addressing the science but instead the containers that the science had come in. This is in keeping with the world-view of someone who believes all of wisdom comes in a pure form from a single trusted source. Scientists just don't think that way; they'll accept their advances from wherever they materialize and whenever they choose to arrive, and are willing (sometimes grudingly) to replace imperfect ideas with improvements just so long as those improvements are supported by the evidence. Whatever Ken Ham is presenting, it's not science because there is literally no argument he is willing to accept to refute it. Bill Nye was wasting his time. Still, Nye made some good points, though I wished he would have spent less time arguing that Noah would have had technological and logistical problems in his ark project. After all, anyone who believes in the myth of Noah's Ark is already accepting a great deal of supernatural intervention, including the sudden appearance and disappearance of an enormous amount of water and the sudden switching-on of water's ability to refract light. In comparison to that, the magical assistance necessary to get the boat built and the animals onloaded and offloaded would have been a trivial matter. I think the best attack on the veracity of that story is actually one that focuses on its shoddy morality, not its supernatural-reliant science. Even if it was true that the pre-flood world was full of wickedness (what kind? we're never told), the flooding of the entire planet killed an awful lot of children and animals who had no role in that wickedness. That doesn't sound like the kind of God anyone would want to let anywhere near their immortal soul.
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