25X: Meowy Christmas

Because what’s better than anthropomorphic animals during the holiday season?  I have surprised myself in wanting to dress up our pets in stupid costumes from the first day they came home, sorta like Angela from The Office (hey, I also have a gay husband! Maybe we’re not so different after all…) I mean, check out our gender-bending Santa Claws here:

Express yourself, ’cause you were born this way, baby.

Cute! Though Kitty Boo is now devising a plan for major retaliation.  I fully expect barf all over the sofa when we return from our trip this weekend.

“You will pay. When you least expect it…you will pay.”

If you’ve missed some of our 25X: The Lance+Jeff Advent Calendar posts, catch up here!

Pooed Awakening

Our current morning routine with me waking up about an hour before Lance. This gives me time aplenty to walk the dog, feed the pets, make myself breakfast and catch up on overnight tweets.  When 6:20 rolls around, I head into the bedroom to begin Lance’s De-Slumber Process:

Me: “Honey, it’s 6:20.”


Me: “I’ll come back in 10 minutes?”


Inexplicably, we both think that if we start pulling Lance out of Dreamland 10 minutes before his wake-up time (I should also mention at this juncture that alarm clocks don’t work on Lance), that somehow it will be easier for him to roll out of bed on time at 6:30.  Five years in, we have little evidence to support this claim.  Usually I have to pester Lance repeatedly, often accompanied by the mother of all stink-eyes, until he stumbles, half-awake, into the bathroom.

Thankfully, the dog has been a godsend to me in this regard, since he loves bounding onto the bed and bestowing Lance with lots and lots of kisses.  He’s a good, trained pup, though, and will wait patiently outside the bedroom door until he’s beckoned.

The other day, it’s right around 6:30 and Lance is showing no signs of life. My routine anxiety that we’re not going to get out of the house on time to catch the train starts to simmer.

Me: “Honey, it’s 6:30. Time to wakey wakey, eggs and bacey.”


Ripley then jumps onto the bed, but stays at its foot instead of attacking Lance’s face with kisses.  Since he’s not bothering Lance, I leave the room to go put away the ironing board, giving Lance a few more minutes of rest—heck, its Friday, after all.

Me, upon my return: “Alright, honey, it’s about 6:35 now, we really need—Ripley, what are you eating?”

Ripley’s busy munching on something as he’s lying on the bed, and whatever-it-is is getting all over the duvet cover.  At first, I think it’s charcoal—for whatever reason, in my mind, it looks like the smudging you get when using charcoal in art class.  That couldn’t be it, though, since I haven’t had charcoal in the house in years.  Did he grab a clump of dirt from outside and I just didn’t notice until now….?

As all pet parents grow accustomed to, I pry open his furry mouth and plunge right in with my fingers.

Me: “Ugh, Ripley, what is in your mouth?”

I extract the substance, at first a bit mystified as it rests in my hand.  This is some squishy dirt—


Me:  “It’s poop.  It’s poopit’spoopit’spoop.”

Yep, it’s a soggy log of cat poop sprinkled with litter, just sitting there in my hand.  Initially, my mind is blank.  What the hell am I supposed to do with thing?  I hot-potato it for a few seconds as my conscious mind comes back to me, all the while Lance is half-asleep in a poop-covered bed, accompanied by a dog whose snout is crusted with cat litter and feces.

Ripley looks up at me, tongue lolling out of his mouth.

Once it dawns on Lance what’s going on, he snaps awake like that poop was a shot of espresso into his veins.  He’s had his own fair share of puppy poop stories, and while sure, poop is universal humor, it’s not quite so funny at 6:30 in the morning.

While it was no fun, and I freaked out about Ripley being okay (kitty poop is not good for pups), it did occur to me later that at least now, if I’m worried about getting to the train on time, I have a deuce up my sleeve if I need to get Lance out of bed in the morning.


Friday was a big day in our house: Ripley (also affectionately referred to as “Pippy” or “Pip”) was neutered.  It was like his bar mitzvah, except without the money, food, or…well, it’s basically the opposite of a bar mitzvah, I suppose.

When I was at work on Friday, my boss asked me about how Ripley was when we dropped him off for his surgery.  “Oh, you know, fine, I guess,” I said.  “It was a little alarming, though, when the technician asked us if we wanted Ripley resuscitated if his heart stopped while under anesthesia.”

“Oh yeah. Dogs are much more prone to dying on anesthesia than people are,” my boss replied.

UHH…what?  So, of course, I was sufficiently freaking out the entire day, waiting for a phone call from the vet telling me that Ripley had died on the operating table, and how they’d not only been unsuccessful in the attempt to bring him back from All Dogs Go To Heaven, but how they were going to charge us $10,000 for their efforts to save his life.

Thankfully, though, everything turned out to be just fine.  The poor little guy was so drugged up after we picked him up from the vet, he could barely walk.  His Comfy Cone (we splurged ’cause, well, look at that face!) didn’t help matters either, since it was opaque black and limited his peripheral vision to almost nothing.  It was a little pathetic.

Unfortunately, his little Comfy Cone was just a tad too small, so he was able to reach his little snout back to his nether regions, which is a big neinnein! (I’ve recently been resorting to telling Ripley “no!” in German and/or Russian in order to get his attention, since using English words regularly said in conversation have little effect on furry friends.)  We had to take Ripley back to the vet so he could get re-sized for a collar, and, of course, the next size up in the Comfy Cone series was way to big, making Ripley look like a wilted flower, so we had to resort to a plastic cone:

The problem with this cone is that it is completely transparent, so Ripley is, at times, unaware that it’s even on, so he will just run up behind you and ram you in the legs with it, or flop around while you’re trying to sleep and whack you in the noggin.  It also pushes all of his hair up around his face so that he looks just generally smushed.

Of course, since Ripley was recovering from the loss of his manhood, we didn’t have much to do this weekend other than sit around and Weird Al some current Top 40 hits:

The Ripley Dog & Kitty Boo Variety Show

They act like they’re mortal enemies, bitter rivals in the struggle for which one of them can demand the most attention from their owners.

They squabble, chase after one another, paws flying, growls growled, meows meowed.

But behind this contentious façade lies what might not be a friendship, but at least a mutually agreed-upon collaboration between Ripley and Kitty to drive us crazy.

I imagine they plot during the day, when we’re at work.  Ripley’s in his crate, and Kitty paces nearby, scheming on how to get back at us for bringing Ripley into her life.  Ripley, the Pinky in this Pinky & The Brain relationship, is cool with following Kitty’s direction since, you know, he is a puppy and wreaking havoc is par for the course.

What evidence is there to suggest their coordination?  If it seems like a coincidence… and all that:

  • Kitty knows just where to sit on the sofa to get into Ripley’s eye-line, just taunting him with her pudgy little face until he has NO OTHER CHOICE but to jump on the back of the sofa. Kitty will bat at him, to no effect.  I yell at him to get down, which he does for maybe 10 seconds, then is back up the back of the sofa.  Repeat until I scream.
  • Ripley, like pretty much every dog, would much rather eat discarded plastic from the trashcan than the animal byproducts that compose his food (and really, who are we to blame him?) Ripley routinely gets into the trash, and Kitty has taken full advantage of this fact.  Around dinnertime is the worst, so as we’re about ready to eat, Ripley’s busy tearing open a discarded ice cream carton.  We scramble to get him out of the trash, only to turn around and see Kitty eating from our dinner plates.  I let out a guttural yell of agitation.
  • This last one hurt the most: I was so proud of myself, remember to get cash out early to pay our dog-walker, instead of forgetting until the morning of and having to squeeze in a run to the bank before catching the train.  We usually stick the money in an envelope and leave it on the ledge by the stairwell leading to the front door.  I set the cash (a couple of $20s) up on the ledge and walked into the other room to grab an envelope. Somewhere in those 15 steps, I got distracted and went to do something else, spacing that the cash was still up on that ledge.  This is when Kitty, with the complete heartless disregard of a diabolical mastermind, casually makes her way up on to that same ledge.  I can just imagine what’s going through her little pea-sized mind. “Whoops,” she thinks with a giggle as her back leg just happens to kick loose a bill.   Not long later, I make my way back over there with an envelope, and literally say out loud, “There’s supposed to be two twenties here…OH SHIIIIII—” I begin darting around the apartment, trying to track it down, knowing already, in my heart of hearts, that all is lost.  Then I see it: half of Andrew Jackson’s face.  I snap my head around to the dog, who is sitting there, tail wagging, tongue hanging out in that perpetual “Look at this! You can’t hate this!”  face he has.  “Where’s the other half of his face, Ripley?? Where is it??”  Of course, it was gone, the only other remnant of currency being the opposite end of the bill—the middle was entirely gone, lost to the same digestive track that intakes mulch and carpet.  I let out a silent scream, a mix of disbelief and horror that $20 just—poof, gone.

Who knew that pet ownership involved so much screaming and weeping?

Lance, Sensitive Artiste

So, the other day, I was cleaning out my perpetually messy junk drawer, and stumbled upon a stack of Lance Originals (TM).  Now, you don’t see Lance behind the drawing board often, so I’m probably spoiling you all with what stands as the extent of my current collection of his stirring, compelling artwork.

Now, we all know that cautionary phrase, “too much of a good thing.” But as red, white, and blue-blooded Americans, when has sensible, paced consumption been something that’s held us back? “Manifest destiny,” and all that.  Let’s take a gander at some of Lance’s moving work:

Circa early-2011:  I appreciate the fashion forwardness of my ascot (they’re coming, people! I guarantee it!), as well as our Ford Fiesta, which is depicted as more of a kitchen cabinet on wheels than a traditional automobile.  Is this a statement on our tendency to eat out at restaurants more than at home?  How thought-provoking…

Circa 2010: Lance demonstrates his firm grasp on perspective. The snake with the beak in the upper-left corner is defying convention by slithering in two dimensions.  Is Lance critiquing the serpentine nature of the current American political oligarchy?

One statement I am confident that Lance is making in the above image is: a sun wearing a pair of goggles is pretty sweet.

Circa July 2012: Lance depicting Ripley’s classmate at puppy school, Tilly, and her well-intentioned but slightly moronic owners.  Long story short: at the time Tilly was a two-month old black lab who had a seemingly limitless supply of aggressive energy, which she was likely to take out on Ripley.  Their leashes would get all tangled as they fought (it wasn’t playing, that’s for sure), and Lance and I and the other owners would constantly have to weave in and out of each other’s arms as we try to free up the leashes.  During one of our last class sessions, Tilly’s “dad” came in which scabs all up and down his arms, and he dopily chuckled, “Ooh, that Tilly!”

(No, dude, not, “Ooh, that Tilly!”  How about you train your dog not to shred up your arms?)

The problem was that Tilly’s parents treated puppy school as a way for Tilly to release some of her natural puppy energy.  Of course, this meant that very little learning (for which we paid a not-inexpensive price) actually occurred during class.  Tilly’s parents, if you want Tilly to make friends, take her to the dog park–we’re trying to learn here!

(Goodness, we are nerds.)

Suffice to say, we didn’t care for Tilly or her dumbo parents.  Lance’s rendition of Tilly above captures not only her satanic nature, but also her constant, curiously concerned look.

Circa 2010: Our last pair of images provides more of a compare/contrast exercise.  We were tasked by our pal Romina to create a design for her team’s t-shirts for the Lupus Loop charity event.  In an inspired move, we went with a superhero theme, intending the design to showcase a superpowered Romina fighting off the Bad Guys who plague people with Lupus.  Here’s my original sketch with that idea in mind:

And here’s Lance’s…

Check out that helmet hair, and Romina’s licorice arms successfully capture the strength of the Superhero Archetype.  In this piece, I think it’s important to notice that the sound effects are not a result of Romina actually punching the sun or a snowman, but rather her victims are crying these out themselves, with every hit. I’d never thought that a snowman would yell, “ZAP!” when whacked by a jelly arm, or that a sun would exclaim, “P.O.W.!” under the same circumstances.  Is the sun here just trying to surrender, offering itself up to Romina’s Lupus Prisoner of War camp?

I hope these complex, thought-provoking pieces gave you something to think about today, readers.  Remember, Lance will do commissions!

They Need A Hero, Bolt

Thanks again to Estelle at This Happy Place Blog for allowing me to share my thoughts on another under-appreciated Disney film, 2008’s Bolt.  It’s a little Homeward Bound, a smidge Lilo & Stitch, and part original Toy Story…and it works better than it’s given credit for.

Click here to read my second entry to This Happy Place Blog’s series on “EndEARing & Underrated” Disney films.



When we rescued Kitty all those years ago (well, like two), she came factory-declawed.  I wouldn’t declaw a cat myself, but, you know, it has its advantages and we weren’t going to turn her down.

And so, for many a year (read: two), declawed Kitty and her two daddies were happily living life, chock full o’ purring, belly rubbins, and lap-sittin’.

Then the big, bouncing monster known as Ripley came along.

Kitty, ever the lady, didn’t want to seem rude at first, and would graciously allow Rip to get close to her; I guess she assumed he’d just bow to Her Majesty, but unfortunately, that approach was more like “a precursor to a pounce,” and soon Kitty was underfoot (err, paw).

Eventually, Kitty tried to assert her dominance by batting at Rip’s snout any time he got too close. The bad news?  Without a sharp-clawed deterrent, Rip just saw Kitty’s bats as a cute, rhythmic petting.  He didn’t really take the hint that Kitty is boss and doesn’t care to play with him.

I feel bad.  Kitty is my princess and deserves better than to be under constant threat of a dog-based terror attack.  I need to give her the tools in which to defend herself.

Kitty needs to be weaponized.

Gentlemen, we can rebuild her.  We have the technology.