Evolution, It’s Not Just For Dogs With Gas

Some of you may recall I mentioned our family dog Pepper and his digestive issues in an earlier post. Poor Pepper. As a puppy he was sick all the time until the vet determined he was born without the ability to properly digest his food. We had no choice but to put him on a bland dietetic dog food regimen something akin to eating cream of wheat all day every day throughout his lifetime. This ailment forced Pepper-the-newborn to spend a lot of time indoors growing quite accustomed to his diminutive owners. The David’s as a general rule, are low to the ground. I’m not sure any one in my immediate family has made it to six feet tall.

Sheltered by a family of Hobbits, Pepper had difficulty dealing with those of normal stature. I distinctly recall my sister had a friend named Jenny. A very tall, boisterous girl who scared the fleas right off of Pepper. (I’m sure my mother would want me to stop and reassure you the dog never had fleas, but for purposes of this story let’s assume he did.) A typical scene at the David compound, enter Jenny, teenager-of-loudness, Pepper goes apoplectic as he runs backwards, yes backwards, barking at the top of his lungs, and stopping to hide behind every large piece of furniture available. His own exceedingly noisy neighborhood un-watch if you will, involving a sofa, a piano, and a coffee table.

The proof that Pepper was raised Jewish (or possibly Italian now that I think of it) is that the only way to get him to stop barking was to sit the tall offender down in the kitchen and feed him or her. At this point you could practically hear Pepper’s old Jewish man voice say something like, “Oh, you brought someone over to have a nosh? I see. I was unaware we were having guests. You might have mentioned it earlier. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my spot on the stairs. But be warned, I’m feeling a bit gassy today. Proceed with caution.”

Here is a photo of Pepper. I call this one Flatulent Dog with Tulips.

The blandness of Pepper’s diet also made him something of a rapscallion where food was concerned. He once leaped up on a kitchen table just to get his greedy paws on some broiled chicken, also tore through a suitcase, shoebox & plastic bag in order to gnaw on a stale oatmeal cookie that arrived home with me from summer camp; and I’m fairly certain he’d have killed someone just to get his lips around a Trisket. In fact, the only food Pepper didn’t care for was raisins. I discovered this one day when I accidentally dropped one on the carpet and he leaped on it with enthusiasm.  For a few seconds Pepper rolled the thing around on his tongue, like a sommelier with a fine vintage, then promptly spat it out at my feet and looked up at me accusingly.  You haven’t really lived till you’ve seen a terrier spit raisins at you.

What’s got me to thinking about Pepper and his sheltered world is the recent blizzard here on the East coast. Twenty inches dumped on NYC. Reminded me of the kinds of storms we had when I was a kid. A thick creamy blanket of white covered the backyard, every tiny tree branch and twig glistened, encrusted in ice. What an extraordinary transformation occurs in our surroundings after a snow storm. And there was little Pepper safely ensconced in his suburban digs, eating his bland food, living his bland life, watching the view through the window metamorphose into a world fit for the Narnia Chronicles.

The morning after one of these infamous storms of my youth, Pepper suddenly went missing. A door accidentally left open and the little fellow was nowhere to be found. We shouted, we screamed, we trudged up and down the frigid block, where-oh-where had that damn dog gone? We all stood about the kitchen, dejected. Suddenly, I spied movement in the vast expanse of white coating the backyard. Every few seconds a tiny black ball of fluff would fly up into the air, like Tigger hopped up on Malt Extract, appearing then disappearing into the deep mound of snow below. “Oh my god,” my mother exclaimed, “it’s Pepper!” Curiosity had gotten the better of my stinky pal so he’d ventured forth into the great unknown. Although the snow was too high for him, he made valiant attempts to conquer it, and had the time of his life in the process. My father dutifully retrieved the dog, the kind of thing dads do, after all. We showered Pepper with attention and dry towels, while he mulled over the memory of this exciting moment in his ordinary humdrum life.

It’s that damn time of year again, isn’t it? New Year’s. Everyone’s supposed to be grateful for what’s been, counting their blessings, looking forward to the future, revelry, resolutions, and all that crap. I must admit there’s nothing I dislike more than the undoubtedly self-imposed pressure this end-of-year accounting brings.

The topic during the weekly #Writechat on twitter this weekend was What did you accomplish this year? This is the response I tweeted: “2010, the year I finished my novel, got an agent, started my blog & discovered a whole world of writers on twitter. Not bad for one year.” The #writechat community were enthusiastic and encouraging about my details. For a few minutes I was even able to see myself through their eyes. It sounds good, doesn’t it? But as my new twitter pal Sandi (@Devacoach) speaks about on her blog, my “lizard brain” chooses to show me all the spaces in-between those words, where I have yet to accomplish so many things. This vigilant self protective part tries to prepare me for the unknown by stopping me from taking risks or getting overly excited about what has already occurred. The lizard has been impeding my progress for quite some time now, and I aim to do something about it.

Like little Pepper, my world is small and often quite bland. I want, well…more. I’ve contracted for far too long, despite my many fears, it’s time for expansion. I wish to explore, to leap into this frothy expanse like that raisin-hating terrier, and evolve. There may be bumpy, frigid terrain ahead, snow may rise in tall mounds around me, but I don’t want to give up. I want my world to grow.

So here it is, I start this evolution today with the most basic of declarations. I think I have to own it, this writing thing. Stop crying impostor and chastising myself. (Something I’ve been doing an awful lot of lately.) I don’t know how to mix a martini, don’t know how to ride a bicycle, never been able to keep a house plant alive, but I am sure of one thing, I am a really good writer. This is not arrogance, and if you knew me personally you’d realize what a huge event it is for me to take possession of this label. It’s not a presumption that there’s nothing for me to learn either for there are millions of things I’ve yet to understand. But the stillness in my life comes when I am writing. I am strong when I capture words on a page. I know how to evoke feelings with language, the most satisfying power I’ve ever experienced. I have no idea if my book will sell, I have no idea if the 17000 words I’ve written of the next book is worth pursuing, I have no idea how to make money writing, I have no idea where my next dollar is coming from, be that as it may, I am a really good writer. So bring it on 2011, I’ve got my snow shoes and my ski parka and I plan to do some exploring.

About Madame Paradox

Heidi David is a writer and freelance producer. She is the author of an as yet unpublished novel, THE FLYING JEWEL; the tale of a traveling circus where the price of admission is one's free will.
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27 Responses to Evolution, It’s Not Just For Dogs With Gas

  1. Peter Wilkin says:

    Heidi – you are not a really good writer. You are much, much better than that. And, if you will pardon the intrusion, my mission for 2011 will be to remind you of that should that self-doubt begin to creep back in. You know, the first thing I look for when I step into Twitterland is your avatar … because your words are so full of life. They capture me, dance with me, even swing me round the room at times. So, here’s to your ‘becoming’ in 2011. Celebrate your undeniable talent – embrace new things – but, more than anything PLEASE do not stop writing your self into existence.

  2. Sandi Amorim says:

    “I am sure of one thing, I am a really good writer.” This comment of yours reminded me of how two years ago I dug deep for the courage to boldly declare myself a writer (even though I hadn’t been writing regularly and had nothing as proof.) It was confronting to see that word on every email I sent, but slowly over time my lizard brain got used to seeing it, and then slowly over time, I began writing consistently. It wasn’t overnight, but it was a transformation.

    Imposter be gone! YOU are a writer and I thank you for reminding me that I am too 🙂 Here’s to a brilliant 2011!

  3. Miles David says:

    I rise to defend Pepper. Once when we left the door of our house ajar, we came home many hours later and he was sitting at the open door, on guard. I would also point out that he also killed a mouse.

    • You know dad, I had forgotten about the time he sat in the doorway guarding the house. That was rather gutsy of the little dude. Thanks heavens a tall postman didn’t arrive with the mail and scare the hell out of him 😉 Of course I remember the mouse though. It was the only terrier-like thing he ever did, and it took him all of 30 seconds to catch it. I hope somewhere in heaven good ol’ Pepper is eating broiled chicken and triskets…

      • Ilana says:

        I love the thought of Pepper guarding the open door! Also— yours is the only blog besides my own in which I read the comments. You’ve got a quality bunch over here.

  4. I have not been following you long. I thank twitter for that(sort of) introduction.

    You ARE a really good writer. I can feel it as I read you. I can see it in your constructions. I hope to God to be as good as you, and those others I follow, some day.

    I look forward to following your evolutionary journey, as I begin my own.

    Thanks much for this posting, as well as all your others.

    • What a lovely comment. Thanks so much. I appreciate your enthusiasm. It was nerve wracking to make such a declaration and it is truly gratifying to see a response like this. Welcome to my blog and I look forward to speaking to you on twitter. 🙂

  5. Berit says:

    “Every few seconds a tiny black ball of fluff would fly up into the air, like Tigger hopped up on Malt Extract, appearing then disappearing into the deep mound of snow below.”

    😀 What a fun story! And I love your resolution! You are a good writer! Run with it in 2011! 🙂

  6. Ilana says:

    You, my friend, have accomplished more in one year than most people have accomplished in ten. Be proud. Also— someone asked me what I did for a living recently and I said I was a writer(!) It felt more accurate than creative director suddenly. Then I worried for the rest of the evening that the person would decide to question the validity of that statement.

    • Thank you so much. Coming from the busiest mommy in show business I consider this a huge compliment. I understand your experience about the writing thing, although I agree that you are clearly a writer. At least an FBI agent gets a badge. Maybe you can create some badges for us? But what would they say? Maybe PW (Professional wordsmith)? How about NBW (neurotic but witty)? Oh wait I got it, how about BAIT (bestselling author in training) 🙂

      As for your other comment, I agree I really do have some quality responders here at Madame Paradox. Just gonna keep doing what I do in hopes soon there will be some quantity to go with the quality.

  7. I loved your post, maybe it was the fact that I could identify with it on so many levels. Yes, I have a crazy farting dog from Arkansas who’s afraid of four year olds, but so fun. It is more than that though As writers, we chose this life that sometimes isn’t the easiest of paths. For instance, I was never a good bartender but people were always trying to give me a job in a bar. It was easy. Teaching, yes, I can always find myself a teaching job, it’s simply not a problem. Saying you are a writer and being a writer takes a shit load of faith that its going to work. You have to buckle against your own inner demons and the world (the outer demons, namely rejection) to prove you’ve got it. I’m working on it, daily. But, I see that you are on the way. Congrats.

    • “Buckle against your own inner demons” I love that. I just feel so lucky to receive comments like this. Thanks so much for your thoughts and encouragement, they are greatly appreciated. I hope you and your crazy farting dog have much success in the coming year as well. 🙂

  8. Jason says:

    Pepper sounds like a wonderful dog and who can blame him for spitting raisins! I think you will ski right through that snow. You have life in your writing and interesting things to say. In my humble opinion, that is what’s important.

  9. Ok, I love you on twitter but have never ( my big fat loss) ventured to your blog.Today,I decided was the day that I started visiting blogs again.I am so glad I did. Your writing is wonderful.You are a very talented writer and you need to own it, shout it from the rooftops.LIve it,Learn it,LOVE IT! This is your gift from God.Go forth and spread it on the world!


    • Truthful mommy, you somehow got lost in my spam folder until today. Thanks so much for your sweet message of encouragement. I’m so glad you’ve arrived and that you are enjoying the blog. I’m shouting my talent to the skies, sista, and doing an embarrassing little happy dance to boot. 🙂

  10. Sarah says:

    I don’t even know you and I can already agree that you are a very good writer! (and a funny one, to boot!). “You haven’t really lived until you’ve seen a terrier spit raisins at you.” — LOVE IT!

    PS: stopping by from The Girl Next Door 🙂

    • Thanks so much Sarah. Happy to have you here. Yes, I probably should have entered good ol’ Pepper in some sort of raisin spitting contest. But with all the ensuing fame and fortune he wouldn’t have had anymore time for the little people. So it’s probably just as well 😉

  11. Kate says:

    So, here I am, weeks late to this post, simply to say: I WANT A BADGE.

    (How did I miss this post, anyway? Even when I’m flaking on everyone else, I try to swing by here. Bad Kate. Must punish self with white chocolate instead of the usual milk variety.)

    (I hope you fully appreciate the significance of this sacrifice.)

    (No, really. In terms of sacrifice, it’s a biggie. Like, there’s me, then there’s Joan of Arc. Just FYI.)

    (P.S. You are indeed a really–really–good writer.)

    • Auntie Kate, you would eat white chocolate, for me, for ME? That is indeed a sacrifice, but I insist you do nothing so drastic. After all, you happened by a few days late, meanwhile I am far far behind on writing my next one. Perhaps it is I who should be consuming the evil white chocolate? But no, I do not think I could choke it down.

      I haven’t the slightest clue how one makes a badge, I don’t think wp.com let’s me do that, do they? Although I suppose I could stick it in a text widget, hmm. Maybe @mommyshorts can make one for me? I’ve never thought of doing that. But I’m honored you would ask and I will see what I can do about it. xo

  12. Kris says:

    Oh, the phrase “neighborhood un-watch” has made me giggle!

    One time? My brother was staying with us for a weekend. He went out partying with friends and came home at like 3:00 in the morning.

    The only one awake? Our Labrador, who used to sleep on the couch in the living room.

    The dog panicked when the “intruder” came sneaking into our house, and she threw up all over the floor. Without moving from her comfy spot on the couch. Not so much about the house protection, our Labrador.

    My brother thought that was hilarious.

    And no, he did not clean it up.

    Love this post!

    • Oh Kris, if I gave you a running list of places where dear Pepper tossed his dietetic delicacies we’d be here all night. Above, my dad reminded me that once someone accidentally left the front door open (ah the 70’s, a kinder gentler era) and brave Pepper actually sat in the doorway until we returned home. Guarding the house from dangerously tall people and their highly suspicious agendas, no doubt.

      I’m so glad you came to visit and that you loved the post. I think you know by know what a gigantic fan I am of your blog. So it is indeed an honor.

  13. Don’t feel bad saying that you are a good writer. Not enough people own it like you did.

    Great post!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by. It was a scary post to write, but I’m really glad I did. Sometimes just expression an intention and sending it out into the universe has a power all its own. So glad you enjoyed it.

  14. Steve David says:

    Pepper…Pepper was purchased right before I left for my freshman year of college. When I returned at Christmas, he was still not hous-broken. Perhaps this was in part because of his as yet diagnosed gastrointestinal difficulties or perhaps it was because no one had been willing to do what was necessary to accomplish this. That turned out to be sticking his nose in his excrement and hitting poor Pepper with a rolled up newspaper after a few accidents. That took care of it–most of the time. So I ask myself, was I just cruel (and perhaps the cause of his terror of the world of those over 5 Ft.), or by disciplining Pepper, did I enable him to continue to live his life (as limited as it was) in a home with a family, and a family that took care of his special needs once they were discovered. I will never know but when I think of it, it troubles me.

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