Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to Have a Christmas Tree with Dogs

Its the most wonderful time of the year (unless you live in Maryland, where its the month you are most likely to be shot or beaten for a parking spot at the mall), and for most of my friends, the big talk is how to have a Christmas Tree and dogs in the same house.

While a lot of you that own dogs have obedient dogs normally only found in movies that pose in santa hats for the perfect family Christmas card straight out of the bowels of Normal Rockwell, about 99.93467% of my friends own Siberian Huskies who tend to think for themselves, and they think that peeing on gifts before ripping them to shreds, then knocking down the tree, eating shards of heirloom ornaments and then yakking up a big pile of tinsel at the Vet Emergency Room is a job well done.

For husky owners, trying to outsmart their dogs is akin to trying to outsmart those evil veliciraptors in Jurassic Park, so there have been some major innovations on the Christmas tree protection program.

So when Angela of Fluid Pudding asked the age old question of how to protect her beloved taped up fake but chock full of memories Christmas Tree now that she has 2 adorable and totally innocent non-husky dogs in the house, I told her it was a piece of cake.  If you don't follow Angela, well, you should.  Not only is her blog hilarious, but she videos herself cramming a gazillion marshmallows in her mouth for no real reason... and its totally awesome.

Then she explained that she wanted to maintain the total spirit of Christmas as well... that poses a bit of a challenge, as there are 3,000 ways to protect a Christmas tree from a husky, but it tends to take a bit of the holiday spirit out of a display that looks like a combination of a super max prison and the great wall of China.

I quizzed my dog owning friends for the perfect solution for the Pudding family tree this season and here are the suggestions sorted from incredibly outlandish and doomed to failure, to the winning idea that doesn't require a moat and boiling oil that actually maintains the whole Christmas look and feel.

  1.  Paint Ball Gun:  While tagging your dog with a paint ball gun may provide some relief to the tree and presents, it tends to make a bit of a mess, and also your dog probably won't "get" that the tree spews painful balls of paint at them (because dogs are smart) they'll rightly guess that their human is shooting paint balls at them and will either wait for you to leave the house before gutting the tree and gifts, or (if you own a husky) run around wildly while you shoot at them, causing certain chaos, then roll on your clean white sheets to remove the paint from their fur.  We do not recommend this method.
  2. Convert to Judaism: This is certainly an alternative, but having a lighted menorah is far more dangerous around dogs with wildly swinging tails than a simple Christmas Tree.  Alternative: Buddhism.
  3. Hang the tree from the ceiling: This is certainly a viable solution, but may be confusing to young children who aren't use to seeing replicas of trees attached to the ceiling and could require years of therapy if not prepared for such a sight.  You also risk having a very clever dog who can figure out how to reach it even up there, and there's still the issue of where to put the gifts... unless a hanging bag of gifts (much like camping food stored away from bears) is acceptable.
  4.   Explain the importance of the tree and gifts to the dogs: Ok, stop laughing.
  5. The Army of Four Zim Detection Device: Hang a bell or other noise making ornaments near the bottom of the tree so that if the dogs get too close, you are alerted by the sound and can run in for corrective action.  Of course this will only work while you are at home, and are very fast.  We would like to point out that the Army of Four is suspected of being Labradors in husky outfits and are oddly well behaved.
  6. Hot Wire: wrapping the tree in a low voltage electric fence wire will deter the dogs from approaching or touching the tree.  Dogs are smart and will only require one zap to learn not to touch the tree.  Unfortunately humans are not as smart and will invariably take several zaps before they get fed up and unplug the hot wire.  The dogs are smart and will see you unplug the hot wire and take advantage of the tree at that point.  We really don't recommend this if your pack of dogs is known as "Hooligans" (right Marilyn?)

The final and probably only viable solution is the camouflaged X-pen with slightly raised table solution!

Place your tree on a coffee table and decorate.  Using the tree stand skirt, drape over the table to hide it.  Purchase an X-pen as seen below:

X-Pen $26.00 at any local petstore

Brick patterned paper:

Decorate the x-pen to look like a fireplace, or brick wall, or use wrapping paper with snowmen to hide the prison-like appearance of the X-Pen.

Set up the X-pen to surround the tree, coffee table, etc.  Your gifts, tree and ornaments will be safe and sound for the holidays.

Remember!  Holly is poisonous to dogs!  Don't let them eat tinsel.  Ensure that the light cords are in the X-pen and out of their reach so they can't chew them and electrocute themselves or set the house on fire, or both.  Do NOT let the dogs drink out of the tree holder!  The chemicals used to preserve the tree are toxic.  Never give your dog chocolate, raisins, or grapes.  Don't let them eat tinsel (its very important, which is why I wrote it twice), ornaments, or ribbons.  If your dog eats tinsel, ornaments, or ribbons, do NOT induce vomiting, consult a vet immediately!.

Gee, no pressure there for the holidays, right?

So, there you go... you can have your tree and enjoy the holidays even with devious, destructive dogs... until they figure out how to climb, jump, or open the X-pen.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and good luck!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Dear Toro:

I'm posting this here because the feedback form you supply won't allow me enough room to tell you just how much I loathe your company and specifically your lawn mowers.

You suck!  No, seriously!

About two years ago I purchased one of your self-propelled lawn mowers from a big package home improvement store because of the awe inspiring and confidence building lies you printed on the box.

  • guaranteed to start
  • Easy start
  • Self-propelled
  • comfortable handle
  • mulches and bags
You neglected to further explain these features properly, therefore I will assist you in producing your new packaging so that future customers (I won't happen to be one of them) will truly see what a wonderful piece of crap you build in your factories.

Guaranteed to start - at least once, after that its a crap shoot depending on the temperature, humidity, amount of gas, and whether you hire a professional body builder to yank the cord.  Be ready to spend at least an hour alternating between ripping your arm out of its socket pulling the cord, and letting the gas fumes die down.  Don't be tempted to light a match near it during the fume phase... it'll be tough, but you can resist.

Easy Start - if you are use to starting a diesel train by pushing it down the tracks.  There is nothing easy about starting it, but you can pull the cord over and over all you want without a sputter.

Self-propelled: if you happen to live on a hill and you shove the thing down the hill.  The amazing front-wheel-drive will simply spin itself silly and go nowhere on an incline higher than 2 degrees, so be prepared to haul it back up the hill with a winch.

Comfortable handle - designed by the Marquis de Sade, this handle will not only cause cramping, but also cut into your flesh, especially when you squeeze the handle to self-propel it nowhere, and the handle to keep it running... IF you ever get it running.

Mulches and bags - unless you are trying to cut grass.  Its anti-clog feature clogs the instant it is introduced to grass or dew, and once its clogged, there's no starting it again.   To compliment the anti-clog feature, the bag will hold at least one leaf before it clogs and causes the lawn mower to die.

I don't think I've ever had a lawnmower as crappy as this one, and I've owned a lot of crappy lawn mowers.  I especially like the part where it'll start and run for about 10 minutes, die for no reason, then refuse to start for a week.  I don't know how you designed that, but its amazing.  

Local burning ordinances won't allow me to set it on fire in the middle of your factory parking lot, otherwise I'd be there with marshmallows.

Instead I'll be dragging it to the local landfill and throwing it in a dumpster.  For two years I've pulled the stupid cord, cursed it, beat it with a hammer, kicked it, threw it across the yard, threatened to shoot it, and now I will be disposing of it and buying ANYTHING but a Toro.

Good bye Toro.  The Free Market does work, and thankfully you are not alone in the manufacturing of lawn mowers... good luck with your Government bailout when the time comes because I will still refuse to purchase Governmentoro lawnmowers, and will instead simply set fire to my lawn full of leaves.

Bite me!