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The-Shoebox

Man's disgusting best friend

Where would the world be without dogs?

They are man’s best friend, loyal companion and are great at cleaning up food dropped on the floor.

I never truly appreciated that last quality until I had my first kid.

Junior spent more time throwing food on the floor than he did throwing it in his mouth, much to the delight of our two mutts.

The dogs were a little put out when we first brought this squawky little human home, but once he was old enough to eat from a high chair, all was forgiven.

The hounds clued in real fast that the squawky little human was a good source of treats.

Problem was, once Junior got old enough to interact with the dogs, he discovered that if he dropped something they would pounce on it and soon it became a game.

He would be flinging grub around the kitchen like the lid had come off a blender and the dogs were lovin’ every minute of it.

Dogs are also good at barking their heads off when a hoard of bad guys are at the gate and about to invade your home, or if someone walks by, or they hear something, or they think they hear something.

They're a food-disposal system and alarm system all rolled into one. Who could ask for anything more?

Actually I could ask for a few less things, such as a dog’s ability and willingness to eat really disgusting things.

A friend was thoroughly repulsed when he noticed his then three-month-old hound chowing down on a nice, big pile of deer droppings.

He literally had to pull the beast away from the stack of mouth-watering morsels and the closer he got to the hungry hound, the faster the pooch would eat.

I readily admit, I have never sampled deer droppings, or any kind of droppings for that matter, so I cannot definitively say they taste terrible, but I have also never smashed my kneecap with a hammer and I am pretty sure that would hurt.

For some reason, their dog finds stuff like that very appealing. He is now much older and still scrums down on doo-doo every chance he gets.

I present you with reason No. 2 why I never let a dog lick me — ever.

Why is that reason No. 2, because reason No. 1 is equally as bad, but more common among our furry, four-legged friends.

Reason No. 1 is universal among canines. While not all dogs eat poop, every dog I have ever had has eaten their own vomit.

Why? I don’t know. If a cat hacks something up, they look around like someone better clean that up."

If a dog yacks something up, they look around like, “Hey, hey, where did that tasty morsel come from? Don’t mind if I do.”

And then they do.

Don’t blame me if you find the subject gross. I don’t make them dine-on-dog upchuck, I am just saying they do it.

Dead things are also a popular entrée for hounds — the deader the better.

My dog brought in half a dead mouse that the cat killed and left outside in the middle of January. Murphy the Wonder Dog thought the mouse-sicle was the greatest find ever.

He came bounding into the house with his prize clamped firmly in his jaw and I had to chase him down to see what it was. I finally got hold of him and he clamped down even harder.

It took a minute to figure out what it was, but as I looked closer I noticed his treasure was staring at me with a buggy mouse eye.

I added that to the ever-growing list of why I don’t let dogs lick me — as if poop and puke were not reason enough.

Man’s best friend — absolutely — a very disgusting best friend, but a best friend nonetheless.





Darren, the arachnid killer

I'm man enough to admit it.

I'm not ashamed to admit I made a noise typically reserved for a small, frightened child before fleeing like I was on fire when it happened.

And I had every good reason to be scared, because it was scary.

It happens every spring and gets worse as the days get warmer and stretch into the summer months.

But with all the rain this year and the cooler weather, it really hasn't been that bad.

"It" is interactions of the spider kind.

I hate spiders. Not many things in this world scare me as much as an arachnid. Big, small, fat, skinny, you name it, if it's a spider I do not like it.

My most recent encounter with one of the eight-legged terrors was when I was working in my garage.

I grabbed a pair of coveralls I have hanging from a nail to do an oil change on my car.

For some reason, I shook the garment before putting it on, something I never do.

Call it the voice of God, dumb luck or some other glorious interaction of the divine kind, but when I shook it, a large spider fell out of a sleeve.

Eeeeek! does not even begin to describe how I felt. And this was no ordinary spider. This guy must have been on steroids because I have never seen one this big, this early in the year.

Sure, there are billions of little spiders roaming the area, and being the big, tough guy that I am, they hardly bother me, but this one was the size of a bagel.

It was so big, I could feel the ground vibrate as it fell from my coveralls and landed on the concrete.

OK, maybe the ground didn't vibrate, but I did pee a little and jumped 10 feet straight back as the black mass of doom raced for cover under a nearby cupboard.

It was at that moment, I knew I must take action, for if the monstrosity managed to find cover, I would likely never be able to enter my garage again knowing it was in there, watching, waiting for the right moment to pounce.

So, I summoned up all of my courage and sprang into action: I leapt across the room and smashed my foot down on the offending critter with such force my toes were numb for an hour; the impact of rubber sole hitting the smooth concrete was so loud it sounded like I had shot the spider instead of crushing it to death.

At least, I hoped I crushed it to death. I stood for second frantically looking around to see if the beast,which must have been some sort of Jurassic spider because of its sheer size, was embedded in the bottom of my shoe.

Slowly, I lifted my foot and to my relief I found an assembly of spider guts and legs smooshed into a gooey mass.

Yay, me.

I had survived a potentially lethal encounter with an arachnid.

Then one of the scariest thoughts I have ever had formed in my mind: if this spider was that big this early in the year, what will be waiting for me over the next few weeks.

Even as I write this, I shudder at the thought.

Perhaps going outside is over-rated.

Perhaps there are benefits to living in a sealed room with filters and screens and anti-spider lasers surrounding the house.

Am I over reacting?

No! No, I am not.



Watch out for scary granny

It was one of those things that was so odd, it was funny.

I was driving down the street when a little, old lady in a silver car pulled in front of me and I had to slam on the brakes to avoid some up-close-and-personal interaction with granny.

I managed to slow down and swerve to the point where the collision was avoided. You could say I was a little annoyed at the almost accident, until I noticed it was a kindly, little, old lady behind the wheel.

That changed my attitude rather quickly because who could possibly be mad at granny?

And besides, stuff happens, no one is perfect and I was sure she simply did not see me. No biggie.

I gave granny a little toot on the horn just to let her know I was there and we almost got to exchange phone numbers and insurance information.

This sweet, kindly, granny-looking, little, old lady, peered into her rearview mirror and proceeded to flip me the bird. 

I must admit, that was probably the last thing I expected a little, old lady to do. Shouldn't she be at home baking cookies for the grandchildren, or knitting something instead of making an obscene gesture?

Especially when you consider it was Grandma Dynamite who was at fault in the first place. And this was not a quick flip of the driving finger.

This was a prolonged, hey-butthead-behind-me-I-got-your-granny-greeting-right-here kind of gesture.

It took a couple of seconds before I fully realized what was going on. At first, I thought she was waving to say sorry for almost causing our insurance rates to go up, but most people use all five fingers to do that.

I stared for the duration of the salute and sure enough granny was giving me the what for with a certain finger reserved for non-verbal communication of the unpleasant kind.

So I did what any other driver would do, I got in close, hit her car from behind and spun her into the on-coming lane where she was creamed by a dump truck.

I'm kidding, of course. It was a cement truck. 

In reality, all I could do was look on in a mild state of shock. I pulled up beside the car to make sure it really was a granny and not a teen wearing an old-people costume, but sure enough, this was a full-fledged, grandma-type driver.

I tell you, seniors are getting harder and harder to raise these days.

Once the initial surprise wore off, I had to chuckle at granny for not taking any crap from one of those young whippersnappers.

Now, I have never snapped a whipper in my life, but according to Hostile Hilda in the Honda, I was just some punk kid with an attitude. A punk kid who, at the time, was in his mid-30s.

What is the protocol in that situation? I couldn't give her the finger in return. Flipping granny the bird would be too strange and just seemed plain wrong.

Two wrongs do not make a right, no matter how good that second wrong feels.

Eventually, granny went her way and I went mine, both with stories to tell:

  • Hers was of some jerk in a little, red car who was harassing her with his horn.
  • Mine was of a member of the blue-hair crowd who gave me hope that when I become a senior, I won't have to take any guff from some punk on the street.

You go, granny.



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Secret to using The Nod

I call it The Nod.

The Nod is when you are walking down the hallway at work, or down the street and you see someone you know, but not very well.

Usually, it is an upward nod for an acquaintance.

And how much you do the up nod depends largely on how well you know the person.

If it is someone you have seen once in a while, there is just a slight upward nod to say yes, I recognize you, but don't really know you. But because we both sort of know each other, social convention dictates we acknowledge each other, so I am sending you the up nod to say I know you, just not very well.

The better you know the person, the bigger the up nod.

A full head tilt means I know you to the point there have been a few conversations, but you are not exactly on my Christmas card list. However, there is a personal connection and I am acknowledging that.

Then, there is the up nod with a smile or perhaps with even a “Hey” thrown in.

This is for people of an even higher social status, but are still not at the point of being considered a friend.

However, their presence is important enough to warrant a full up nod and a vocalization that I see you there, I have some sort of connection to you and in general I would consider it a favourable connection.

There is also the down nod.

The down nod is almost exclusively for those people you don't know at all.

Perhaps you are walking down the street and happen to make eye contact with someone who is also walking down the street.

Rather than stare at each other awkwardly, social convention has developed the down nod.

The down nod says several things:

  • I see you and acknowledge that you are in fact, alive.
  • That you exist on the same planet as I do and because we made eye contact – intentional or otherwise – it is polite to acknowledge that we are both alive and living in the same community even if we don't know each other and will likely never see each other again.
  • It is sort of an “Attaboy for being alive” kind of greeting.

There are numerous variations of the up nod/down nod. And they can be altered to best suit whatever situation you may find yourself in.

You could run into someone you have known for a long time, but don't like. That is when the down nod is acceptable.

But nodding is mostly used for face-to-face encounters.

While operating motorized vehicles, there are other forms of non-verbal communication that can be employed.

We all know what the No. 1 signal is for drivers, but only slightly behind is when you use all five fingers to wave.

Cut someone off in traffic? No problem, a little wave of the hand means I see I cut you off and I acknowledge the fact I did so, but I gave the little wave so that's means it's OK because I just apologized.

Whether the other driver accepts the apology is determined by how many fingers are used to wave back.

If it involves two or more, all is good. The driver is not offended and realizes stuff happens. If they wave with only one finger, then they are not in a forgiving mood.

Cut someone off in a parking lot?

Give them a little wave and all is good.

Nearly hit them backing up in said parking lot?

Wave.

Pull out a little more than than you should have, causing them to touch the brakes and have a hostile look on their face?

Wave.

Run over their garbage can, flower box and garden gnome?

Wave and you are good to go.

Well, that last one may require a little more than a wave.

Perhaps a wave and a nod.



More The Shoebox articles

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About the Author

Darren Handschuh has been working as a writer and photographer in the media industry for the past 25 years. He is married, has three children, a dog and two cats (although he is not completely sure how that part happened).

He takes a humourous look at life, and has often said, “I might as well laugh at myself, everyone else does.” 

His writings have been compared to a collection of words from the English language assembled in a somewhat coherent manner. High praise indeed.

Life gives Darren plenty of material for his column, and no one is safe from his musings – especially himself. 

He regularly writes to his blog www.therudemonkey.blogspot.ca.



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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