Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dog Walking 101

I'm doing a little happy dance. This coming Thursday I get to go home, back to the States. It's been two years! The next time I post here I'll be sitting at my dad's computer a margarita in one hand, a fist full of BBQ ribs in the other. I'll type with my nose. If you know me you realize this is indeed physically possible.

It's always a trick to make the big trip across the pond. One of the problems is the dog. Kennels are near non-existent and the ones I've found are mere cages. I did discover one place that actually took the time to walk the animals. It costs over 600 bucks for a three week stay though. Another two hundred bucks and you can buy a plane ticket from Narita to Omaha and back. Anyways, we used that kennel once but when we went to pick Cha up one month later none of recognized him, he'd lost a lot of weight and had this crazy look in his eyes. Something like this:

So this time I decided to hire a dog walker. My father-in-law. Nicest guy you'll ever meet.

There is only one problem -- up until one month ago my father-in-law had never so much as touched a dog, much less put a leash on one and attempted to take a stroll around the block. So my first plan of attack was training.

This ended up being a lot more difficult than I imagined. Little things like his worries about hooking the leash onto Cha's collar ("Are you sure it's going to hold? What do I do if it breaks?")to his tendency to just follow the dog wherever he wanted to go, zig zagging up and down the block, into people's yards down the middle of the road. But there was an even bigger problem.

Number Two.

My father-in-law kept asking about it ("How does he do it?" "What does he do beforehand, so I can be prepared?"). I'm trying to explain the whole event and how to properly clean it up when Cha decides to just show him and squats down to do his business right there and then.

And then the unbelievable happened. Suddenly my father-in-law gets all giddy and crouches down behind the dog. I'm standing there trying to gently persuade him to get back up and look away. But, no. He then begins to make a running commentary about what's going on. Detailed. Yeah, it was traumatic, to me and the pup. I still have a few days. I'm hoping to break the habit lest I come home to an extremely embarrassed dog.

Now, in an attempt to remove that lovely image from your minds... An old instructor of mine e-mailed me last week to direct me to Publishers Weekly Web pick of the Week. I'll just paste the review here, that bad half a sentence and all.

"A Robe of Feathers: And Other StoriesThersa Matsuura. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $14.95 paper (192p) ISBN 9781582434896

Inspired by Japanese folklore, Matsuura’s debut story collection is as clever as the mythical spirits and creatures who romp through her fable-like tales. Although her penchant is for the malevolent and unforgiving, , the humans who populate these seventeen stories are seldom innocent victims. Even when led astray by otherworldly tricksters (such as the oni in “The Seed of the Mistake”) or tortured by spiteful gods (like the God of Smallpox in “Yaichiro’s Battle”), it is the humans’ flaws – greed, cowardice, lack of compassion – that make them vulnerable. Matsuura depicts such failings insightfully, and, at her best, reveals them gradually. In a world brimming with shape-shifters, ghosts, and devils, belief in luck and superstition is rational and even skeptics soon become believers, but these are stories about the choices ordinary people make, and the sometimes devastating consequences of those choices. Although some of Matsuura’s denouements are weak, and others overwritten, her prose is mostly tight and her characters well-crafted. The captivating stories gathered here offer lively glimpses of Japanese culture, urban and rural, present and past. (May)"



Pat said...

WOW, Terrie! Are you going to be doing any book signings in South Carolina? I'd definitely travel to get my copy signed! :)

Hope your travel and visit go well, and Cha survives your f-i-l (and vice versa).

Mary Witzl said...

Great review, and I'm also filled with envy over the margaritas you're going to have back home. I haven't been back in a LONG time; I could use a margarita or two myself...

I love your description of your f-in-law and his blow-by-blow account of your dog's biological deposit.

Kappa no He said...

Pat, I wish I could go back to South Carolina. I really miss it there. But I'll definitely send a bookplate. And I think I'll be calling my fahter-in-law more than my husband, just to make sure everything's okay.

Mary, I spent fifteen minutes explaining the subtle beauty and deliciousness of a giant margarita to my English class yesterday. I'm not sure I convinced them.

Anonymous said...

Woot Woot! Book Signings, Alright GIRL! I think that is a fabulous idea. I work in PR so if you ever need any help please feel free to ask "pitches", media kits = )

I am so jealous hearing of your BBQ ribs.. can you sneak some back for me?

Woman in a Window said...

Matsuura sounds like one hell of a writer!

So sorry for your poor soon to be traumatized pup...

Jim Melvin said...

Too bad you couldn't come to South Carolina.

I agree with the positive parts of the review, disagree with the mildly negative ones.

I'm three pages from finishing the last story. I'm going to go to bed now and treasure the last few words.

Kappa no He said...

Girl Japan, really!? What a fascinating line of work. We'll have to hook up they have BBQ ribs in Tokyo?...My head is still swimming about these kit release dealios.

Woman in a Window, thank you and yeah, I'm hoping my father-in-law will calm down after the second or third time. I've been talking to the dog about it.

Jim, I purposefully ended with that story. It's actually written for someone. When he reads it he'll know. You know how Stephen King talks about your One Reader...? Although I never had any excitment from the magazines I sent it to.

And I thank you to pieces for your kind words.

Hilary said...

How wonderful for you to be able to travel home. I'm looking forward to your travel tales. No doubt they will be fun and exciting. I also can't wait to get the full poop about how your f-i-l's doggie sitting went. ;)

Ello said...

Have a wonderful trip home! And it is so awesome about your book!!!

Kappa no He said...

Hilary, Ello, thank you so much! Right now I'm in a last minute what-did-I-forget frenzy. J and I are debating frequent, short blogs while were there. I imagine lots of This is so cheap! posts.

Anonymous said...

I haven't had time to read your whole book yet, but I read the last story, just in case. It could be about me, but I never told you that story, so it's not.

Not much going on here. Momo's mom is coming to visit in September, so we're trying to get the floors put in and a new coat of paint on everything inside and out. I've had to reseed the back since the puppies have been running and digging, and not much has come up in the garden yet. That crappy old apartment in the dangerous neighborhood looks pretty good when I'm standing on a ladder with paint dripping down on me and even the dogs are barking at my work.

Hope you have fun back home. If you're ever thinking of coming to DC, you've got a place to stay. As soon as we get a grill, I'll even make you some very good ribs. None of this baby back stuff. Country ribs slow-smoked over cherry wood, of course. Momo keeps pressuring me to get the grill even though she rarely cooks, and never cooks when we camp.

You can get pretty good ribs at Tony Roma's in Tokyo, if they're still there. I used to get my Portuguese-speaking butcher in Kakegawa to get me the ribs, and then I'd walk over to the Tomei bridge over a little river near my house to grill them. I didn't have a yard at the house I rented, so I built a little BBQ pit under the bridge and raided the local cherry trees for my smoking chips. It was a hassle, but sometimes you just gotta have ribs. Yum!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kappa!!!! I thought I would follow up... if you need any help with a digital paper media kit, let me know.

I believe in helping women and my friends, I have all the contacts for magazines etc, so once you have your kit together and a pitch...

Anyway..feel free to e-mail me and I can send over some samples = )

Kappa no He said...

Awesome GJ! I am back in the States for a few weeks. At my parents'. I cannot believe how slow their computer is. Almost enough to make me want to go out and buy myself a Mac, put it on my card. I'll get in touch as soon as I get back to old Nippon. You're a doll!

Gina said...

Have a wonderful time in the US!!! Please eat lots of good yummy stuff and shop like crazy!!! Have fun!!!!

I think your FIL will do a great job with Cha!!!

Where's J? Did he go with you?

laughingwolf said...

google eat my post? :(