Monday, April 30, 2007

What sort of parent would I become?

The playground bully ( got me to thinking: Is it nature or nurture that makes children so horrid? OK, children are not self-aware at this stage. But imparting self-awareness is part of parenting, isn't it? It's what the parents have to do, it's not the maid's job along with babysitting.

You need a licence to own a dog. In this country, you also need a Certificate of Entitlement to own a car ( I say you also need one to become a parent.

If you adopt a child, you're assessed for suitability and that includes a check on your background and your income. But there's nothing to stop you from having your own kids. That's the scary part.

The other day, on the train, a mother gave her cellphone to her toddler to keep her occupied on the train. So toddler spent a happy half hour gassing with her dad on the phone. I hope she doesn't grow up with her brain cells fried. It will be bad enough for her when she becomes a teenager.

Another day, at the next table at the food court, Junior couldn't decide what he wanted to drink so his parents let him sip from their drinks. One was having coffee, the other, a fizzy, sugary soft drink. I never had coffee until I was 13 and soft drinks were for special occasions only, like Chinese New Year. I remember I was at my cousins' house once and was amazed that they could help themselves to a bottle of soft drink in the fridge whenever they liked. Coffee was for adults only, so my parents used the transition from primary school to secondary school as the cut-off point for when I could have caffeine. When I was 16, I had a friend who still hadn't had coffee before. And our parents certainly weren't Mormons. They were just, well, parents.

And Rupert will never get coffee, no matter how old he is.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

If it isn't one, it's the other

It was Rupert's turn to go to the vet on Friday. We called for an appointment and as always, had to give the  owner's name as well as the dog, since the vet's computer system files the pet's records under the owner's name. L gave the receptionist my name and said it was for Rupert (since we have two dogs on record there). The minute she heard my name, she responded: ah, Rupert, Queeni's brother. That probably shows how often we've been there lately. Which also accounted for HRH's oh-no-not-again demeanour -- she growled at the vet for good measure even though it was Rupert getting examined this time.

He had developed some runny sores above his eyes. Sometimes, there's where the allergic reactions break out but I couldn't think of what he could have developed an allergy to as his food has remained the same. Anyway, it cleared up when I cleaned it with disinfectant. But then a huge sore developed on his tail and this one, he could reach to bite, so he turned it into a bloody mess. And I freak when I see blood.

The vet took a skin scrape. No mites, no fungus. Just bacteria -- lots and lots of bacteria, she added. We have no idea where it all came from. It wasn't until I had to do a mop-up after Rupe later when we got home that  I thought it could be from all his puddles. And I was so careful too, I use an anti-bacterial cleaner to rinse the mop in after the first wipe and follow it up with an anti-bacterial spray cleaner for a second wipe.

Anyway, he's now on antibiotics. The upside is that it will certainly knock off the bacteria that's making a home on him. The downside is that it will almost certainly make him drink -- and pee -- more. I've already had three mop-ups in the past two hours, and he's already been out three times in that period. The course of antibiotics will be for 10 days. It will be a long -- and water-logged -- 10 days.

The picture is of the two furkids comatose on my lap in the backseat of the car on the way home from the vet. One was worn out from sheer nervousness because she has had a bad time at the vet recently. And the other was just worn out from wagging his tail, even when the vet tech was doing the skin scrape and I had him in a stranglehold. 

It was a busy day at the vet. The waiting room was full of dogs from the police, civil defence and the army -- a border collie (civil defence), a spaniel and a German Shepherd (army military police) and a Belgian Shepherd (police). HRH growled at them all. She has no idea just how small she is, compared to them. Or maybe she doesn't care. So there was Rupert wanting to play with the German Shepherd (who was muzzled) and there was Queeni wanting to eat him. Looks like Rupert's not the only furkid who's nutso.

Friday, April 27, 2007

What a week

L sprained his ankle on Monday night and wasn't able to walk the kids when I was at work so A has been coming over in the evenings to do his godfatherly duties. I don't know who's more grateful for that -- L, me or Rupert's bladder. It also helps that he can pat them ambidextrously.

I've got a three-day weekend (yay!) so y'all know what I'll be up to. I'm sure Rupert will keep me busy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm careful

Jesus' last name is Robinson and he e-mailed me today with "Be Careful" in the subject header. And that's why I haven't opened his spam to see what I have to be careful about.

It was unusual, to say the least, to hear from Jesus. And to think he got buried in the Junk folder along with Cialis offers.

But at least now I know another name of God.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My pillow smells of dog

... because HRH has lately taken to perching on top of it and settling into the indent. There was one evening where she slid off so she ended up between the two pillows -- where she continued to sleep uninterrupted.

L, however, went nuts when he couldn't find her in the house. He did check the bed but didn't think to check behind the pillows. Calling her name didn't produce anything -- royalty does not always come when called. Rupert just blinked at him sleepily, stretched and went back to sleep. L seriously thought he did what M did a few weeks ago, locked Vivi out when she slipped out of the door as he came home, and actually opened the front door to check. Nothing, of course. I don't think Queeni would be like Vivi and sit by the front door, barking for Daddy to open it. She would probably take off. L went round the house, opening doors to closed-off rooms, even the store room. No Queeni. He was beginning to worry how to break the news to me that he had lost the dog *inside* the house when there was a rustle on the bed and she emerged from behind the pillow.

And it really isn't so bad to have your pillow -- and bed linen -- smell of dog.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dirty boy

L was walking HRH in the evening when it was peak hour at the playground downstairs. One of the boys noticed that she was limping on three legs and asked him why she was doing that. He was quite polite about it too, addressing L as "uncle". Which was why L was quite unprepared for what happened next, after he explained to the lad that she had cancer, and had to have a toe removed.

"Dirty dog! Dirty dog!" screamed the boy as he pointed at HRH.

"Dirty dog! Dirty dog!" all the other kids took up the cry.

HRH, bless her, didn't understand English. But she picked up on the sudden shouting around her and flattened her ears against her head, showing that she was getting a bit stressed by it.

L, annoyed at his doghter being called names, told the boy: "What if you were really sick and had to have one leg removed? You would have to hop around too. Would that make you a dirty boy?"

"Dirty boy! Dirty boy!'' yelled all the other kids, now laughing at the boy.

He probably doesn't understand what cancer is, he only picked up that HRH was different from other dogs on four legs. And that difference is something that could be taunted. Now, that's scary. Today, he's a playground tease. Tomorrow, he could be a bigot, a religious extremist, a racist, a misogynist, a gay basher, take your pick.

I would have a word with his parents if I could. But the kids at the playground were supervised by maids. Not exactly in loco parentis.

Children are such bastards, L raged later, still sore hours after the incident. I guess that's another reason not to have two-legged ones, just furry four-legged ones.

On reflection, he conceded that telling the kid about losing his leg could leave the boy with nightmares tonight. And you know what, I don't care.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Brain dead

And the rest of me isn't feeling so alive either. It had been hell week at work, what with a few people off sick and double the usual paginaton. It was all I could do to get through the night, stagger home, mop up after That Dog, collapse in bed and the next day, the zombie cycle started all over again.

Yes, That Dog still lacks sphincter muscles. He wets himself when he gets excited. The thing is, he gets excited about almost anything: when I wake up, when I get home, when his meal is about to be served, when I'm holding biscuits. Sometimes, it's nuts having to mop up first thing in the morning pre-caffeine but it's almost flattering because I've never had anyone go into paroxyms of joy just because I'm awake! I'm actually getting out of the bed! Glory be, the day can finally start! Let's not waste time sleeping! There're things to sniff! Places to pee! Sometimes you need a peeing puppy to get you centred on the joy of living.

And he is possibly no longer a puppy. I double-checked the bill of sale that was given to C when he first got the two pups. I know that was last July. The bill said that the pups entered the pet farm in April and that their age then was two months old. That meant that they were born in February. So we have missed the pups' birthday.

Well, if That Dog is more than a year old now, he's run out of puppy excuses for a lot of things.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Time out

This week will be a six-day Sunday to Friday work week. The one week that I spent home on leave is but a distant memory now. Ah, but still a pleasant one. I think it wasn't until then that I realised for a long time now, I had been drinking coffee while doing something, watching TV, reading the papers, checking email, I had never been just drinking coffee.

Or tea, in the case of that week off. It's a habit I've picked up from my parents: we brew coffee on work days and tea on weekends -- or in my case, days that I'm not working.

It helps to do nothing when you're drinking from a pretty cup. I saw this in the shop at Christmastime and finally caved in and paid Big Coffee Chain for two, one in a purple accent and the other in lime green. It was a birthday treat for myself and I figured they would be nice for the many hours of sipping while staring out of the window. Doing nothing.

When something happens that teaches you how precious time is, it is important to remember to do nothing while drinking coffee. Just enjoy drinking coffee.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

As precious as sand

If you've been following the news here, you'd know that Indonesia has banned the export of sand to Singapore. Which means building costs may go up and the construction industry is worried as it is barely in recovery. Ah not to worry, said the government, it will release the stockpile of sand that has.

We have a national stockpile of sand? I thought people stockpile things like gold bullion. Maybe even toilet paper and instant noodles for the monsoon weeks when you can't get out to restock. But sand?

Which was why, as we were driving behind a lorry carrying a load of sand, L remarked that it was a precious cargo. Well, we'd better watch out or people would be stealing the stuff out of playground sand pits soon.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fun at the fair

I guess it's the only equivalent of the circus coming to town here. They took almost a week to set up in the big field next to the mall down the road from where we live. A few nights ago, L and I took a romantic evening stroll -- there was a full moon conveniently rising -- there to get funfair food: cotton candy on a stick, sausage on a stick, chicken wing on a stick, all manner of fried stuff on a stick. I guess it isn't funfair junk food unless there's a stick skewered through it. No toffee apples though -- which may be a good thing. I found them sorely disappointing when I came across them in British fun fairs.

The rides weren't ready yet but they turned on the gaudy lights, perhaps to attract people to the food stalls were already open. How very Singaporean. There was also a small pasar malam selling cheap clothes, household gadgets and mobile phone accessories. Very unfunfair-like.

There was one games stall -- you had to use some improbable implement to fish for plastic frogs floating on a tub of water. Gone were the days where funfairs were all about games stalls. Nowadays, which kid will pay to fish things from a tub of water when he has a Nintendo in his pocket and an XBox at home?

I took the pictures with the mobile phone. As you can see, the job of taking photos should be best left to cameras. The ferris wheel says Euro Wheel in big, bright letters. I honestly don't know what's so European about it. The Americans must be insulted.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

One week

I had been on leave the past week and it was hard to go back to work yesterday. The only thing that kept me going was that I would only have to work a day, and then I'm off today. Which is a nice way to ease back into work. Of course I'm paying for this by working this Sunday. Long weekend be danged, I'm working Good Friday too. I'm counting on the usual half-pace slack over Sundays and public holidays.

It was hard to tear myself away from the furkids to go back into the work routine. I didn't realise until I stopped to think about it that I haven't actually spent an entire week at home with Rupert since he arrived last September. Oh, there were weekends and days off but not a whole week. I've never had the opportunity until now to be with him on a prolonged basis, long enough to watch his biorhythms, work out when his upswings and downswings are, what he does all day, when he naps, when he gets up to watch by the window for his furry friends out on their walks. Up to now, he had to adjust to my schedule.

Oh and of course he hasn't developed sphincter muscles. The last post was dated April 1, what do you think?

And what a nice week it was. I really didn't do anything, I spent a lot of time on the couch watching Queeni sleep; watching her hobble on three legs and then tentatively using her affected leg and finally breaking into a cheer when she ran on all four legs; watching the sun move through the different parts of the house as the day progressed; watching people go to work, the women's heels making a clickety-clack on the footpaths; watching the kids drag their feet as they walk to school; watching them run home at the end of the day; watching -- well, hearing -- the toddlers shriek around the playground and the sudden silence when they are summarily ordered home for dinner; watching the working people return, some with bags of groceries; watching the dogs out on their walks; watching the prime-time TV I never get to see on work nights.

It was much needed after the trauma of Queeni's biopsy results and that awful dangling in the middle of nowhere feeling when you're exploring various options to take for her. The hardest part was the waiting and the deciding. Once you've embarked on a course of action, things swam into focus and got better.

We noticed she will walk on all fours on the grass downstairs but on three legs around the house, I guess the field is softer and feels better to her paw than the hard tiled floor. So we took her to the dog park on Sunday. The bitch was back, she ran around, she sniffed, she gave what-for to all the dogs that dared to sniff her behind. And then she realised she wasn't favouring one leg. The game was up.

However, HRH is still pulling a fast one on sucker dad. She still gets his personal taxi lift service down the stairs and into the field where she will run around on all four legs. After she's done, she starts hopping on just three legs, gives him a doe-eyed look and he scoops her up and she gets carried up the stairs back to her couch. She's a con artist.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Laundry day

Remember the exercise station that the town council built -- after cutting down perfectly good trees in the middle of the field ( I guess the lives of trees -- and not to mention tax payers' money -- has been put to good use after all. After all, nobody's going to exercise in high noon, so somebody might as well make use of the equipment in another way.

In other developments, we were finally able to put away the mop and bucket that's been in the bathroom since last September. Rupert has finally developed spincter muscles.

Hahaha. Happy April Fool's Day!