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Archive for the ‘Mischa’ Category

Mischa sleeps a lot these days. He sleeps more and more. But his heart still beats, and he still loves his food – and his cuddles. In that order.

DSC_3912copyrightI just hope I know it when he is ready to go.

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I’d love to support the notion that all dogs are created equal. Puppies are all cute, of course, and cuddly and playful and just – oh! so lovely! And to some people I guess it is the same with babies. And so the saying goes that to begin with, we’re all the same, with all the same potential for fun, love, joy, sadness, hate and evil.

Well. I’m not so sure. Was Ted Bundy a sweet baby? How about Stalin, Mao, Hitler, fat, little Kim Jong-Un, Margaret Thatcher, Putin? Were they cute, cuddly babies? If so – at what point did they change and start showing their true colours?

I know I started with dogs and moved on to versions of tyrants here. It just struck me today when I witnessed a really bad dog-attack in a dog park here in Vienna. I am extremely fortunate to live in a city that is almost custom made for the co-existence of humans and dogs, a place where you can take your beloved pooch to restaurants and pubs, where there are designated, fenced areas provided for people to let their dogs run around free, play and socialise. A city that even has entire forests and wetlands dedicated to dogs and their people. And just because of that wonderful appreciation of dogs, I can never leave this place. I was meant to live her, in the most dog-loving city in the world.

All those who know me would probably agree that I have a set of far softer spots for dogs than I have for people, and that I am willing to let my own dogs almost get away with murder just because they’ve got me so completely twisted around their little paws. I know Thomas thinks I’m way too soft. He keeps telling me “he’s a dog!” about whatever dog I’m busy spoiling at the moment, as if I didn’t already demonstrate just how aware of that I am in my efforts to make my wee munchkin the most happy pooch in the entire world. And why shouldn’t I? What dog, as us city dwellers know them, was ever given a choice of where and how to live? With any luck they will have a good life with people who love them, but that is definitely not a given.

Let me see if I’ve managed to get back to where I started. Tabula rasa and the dog. Well, being who I am, I – by principle – support the notion that basically dogs are cuddly and sweet and blahblah. Right? And then some dick-head comes and ruins it all by taking an entire BREED and throwing it into the fighting pit, and TADA! we have an aggressive breed with aggressive owners and lots of draconian laws are passed punishing dogs and owners en masse, people who would never DREAM of forcing their dogs to fight and dogs who are equally clueless about the use of their shiny whites. And I sit there and get angry with the cowardly tossers who do such a thing to sweet, cuddly dogs who only want to be loved and – and – you can see where this is heading, right?

All dogs are created equal.

It’s just that. Some dogs are created a little more equal than others. And since the implementation of various restrictive laws because of young men owning dogs of a particular kind because they count as “cool” and powerful and aggressive and great guard dogs, I have been the number one advocate for the re-education of people on the origins of the American Staffordshire and Pit Bulls and all those related breeds who have been forced – totally against their real nature! – to be aggressive and partake in illegal fights and whatever. I would so like to believe that those powerful breeds are nothing but chubby teddy bears. That small dogs are only yappy because of their yappy owners. That Labradors are sweet because their owners are sweet.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderfully sweet and quiet dog for the past six years, Mischa – a mix of Husky, Alsatian, Labrador and possibly something else. There is not an evil bone in his body. So imagine my shock at getting Hades and Pluto, two Chinese Crested who YAP! And sometimes snap at strangers, completely without warning and for no apparent reason. Mischa was already the perfect dog when I got him as an 8-year-old dog. Now I actually have to raise two dogs, get them to BECOME the kinds of dogs I like – because they are not naturally born teddy-bears… Admittedly, Pluto is close, but Hades still has a little to learn from Mischa in that department. And they both yap. Pluto at any and every noise outside the flat, Hades  – just because.

Want to hear about the dog attack?

I had taken Mischa, Hades and Pluto to the doggie playground in Volksgarten, just off Heldenplatz. Already there were a variety of dogs, including a majestic looking tall, slim curly coated dog and an American Staffordshire. The Staff came over to greet me, Mischa and the little ones. He was incredibly powerful, all muscle, but seemed friendly enough. But then something invisible took place between the curly coated dog and the Staff and everything turned ugly. Really, really ugly. When the curly dog’s owner tired to intervene, the Staff took no notice. His jaws locked around curly’s right front leg and he started to twist. The screams of pain from the curly dog were chilling, and at this point the Staff’s owner ran in and grabbed the dog – but to no avail. He punched him to get him to let go, but no. I was just waiting for bones to snap when the Staff finally let go and instead attacked curly’s owner. The Staff’s owner finally got him to stop and calmed him down – red mist seemed to dissolve from the dog’s eyes and he was all docile again. The curly dog limped away in shock and I called him to me, calming him and comforting him. His owner was down with ugly bites to his leg.

I think the rest of us were collectively expecting the owner of the Staff to leg it with his dog. But we were happily proven wrong in our assumption about Staff-owners. He first called emergency services while holding the dog firmly. Then he put a muzzle on him and tied him to a post and attended to the other dog owner’s wounds together with a couple of other people, while I continued to reassure the wounded dog. The Staffordshire-owner’s hands were shaking. He was totally devastated and told me he was shocked, deeply shocked, and now also afraid of the dog.

An ambulance arrived, police arrived, and as things were dealt with and I collected my three (who had all behaved impeccably throughout!) and left, I turned to look at the Staffordshire who looked back at me – and I thought I was looking into the eyes of a dog with only a few more hours to live. A dog that could descend into red mist at the drop of a hat – a loaded gun. Is that what certain breeds are after all?

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Well, you may think that it has something to do with Orion’s death. And you’d be right. But he has in no way lost his appetite so no, he is not grief stricken to the point where he is refusing to eat. If he were, I’d be seriously worried. All it is is that he can no longer steal Orion’s leftovers.

Not that we are not all grieving, Mischa included. He is still searching for Orion in Votivpark and the dog zone on the edge of Arne Carlsson Park. And wherever else we go. I’ve seen him stare attentively at greyhounds, his tail going up and wagging in anticipation, only to sink down again at the realization that it’s not Orion. But his appetite is completely intact, and given the chance he still gobbles up any kind of crap he can lay his greedy little snout on. But with Orion’s passing, the opportunities are fewer and farther between. He now shamelessly waddles up to any dog owner and sits in front of them doing “Menchen” (“human” – both front paws up, balancing on his butt – well, sort of balancing on his butt) in the hope that their pockets will open up and reveal a horn of plenty of dog snacks. When they’ve never met him before they’re not quite sure what to make of it. When they know him, they cuddle him and proceed to pop treats into his mouth. Mission accomplished and not even remotely impossible.

Thomas and I are still absolutely dazed by the last few week’s worth of deaths. Gerard, then Orion and then Don. Oh, I guess I didn’t tell you about Don. Uncle Don. Not my real uncle, but Don Fenner who directed Christmas Carol the first time I came to Vienna in 2000 to play Tiny Tim at the International Theatre. Uncle Don who tried so hard to placate me – and succeeded – when I fell out with Marilyn (Wallace/Close) over the treatment of another actress and very nearly walked out in the middle of the run, even in the middle of the show (at the time, Pygmalion, spring 2002). Don. Don is gone.

I found out because Marilyn – I’ve never really revealed much about my time at IT – let’s keep it that way – has a dog-walker called Sam, and I passed him walking her dog WinnieII (all her dogs are called Winnie, it seems) and he shouted after me. Then, in a dramatic voice (are all who have something to do with IT total drama-queens??) that Don has died! and if I had “anything to say to those people” I should do it NOW! (background church bells and sounds of chains in a deep, hollow dungeon). Then he told me that Don had died  around the 25th May and been found “yesterday” which would have made his undiscovered and lonely corpse about two weeks old and his cat halfway starved to death.

I called Laura, the longest running IT actress and the one who would know, to find out what had really happened.

He had not turned up one night to run lights, so Osas, the barman/right-hand everything man, ran over to his flat to find out what was wrong – as Don did not answer his phone. Osas found Don dead in bed, most likely only hours after he had died peacefully in his sleep, and the poor cat ran and hid when the ambulance came to pick up the body. The short version thereafter is that the cat was picked up by the animal shelter in Vösendorf where they refused to release it again on the grounds that the interested parties were only friends of the late Don and not relations, Don’s body was handed over to medical research following his own wishes, and the cat was eventually handed over to his long-standing friend Ellis following the winding up of lots of red tape for its release.

Not wildly dramatic but even so: Don’s passing leaves another hole that just can’t be filled.

Oh, and just to top everything off, the International Theatre has finally been dealt its final blow and will not receive any more funding. It closes on Sunday, last show tomorrow night, Saturday 30 June 2012. Vienna is left another cultural institution short. No more Christmas Carols. There goes my chance of a glorious comeback as The World’s Oldest Tiny Tim.

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Dance of the crazy dogs

Winter finally caught up with us here too. We all blame Siberia for -11°C with a freezing cold wind and snow. That dreaded snow. The worst of it is the many times I have to hear that as a Norwegian I am supposed to both be used to it and like the crap.

Mischa likes it. No, wrong. He LOVES it. But there is a slight problem with snow here. It is treated like an enemy, and the house owners have the pavements covered in salt at the slightest hint that there may be a snowfall. And we all know what happens to dogs when they get salt in their paws? They limp, and they look at you with that sad dog-look that says “Why-oh-why-is-this-happening-to-me?? I’M IN PAIN AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!!” So we’ve bought doggie boots for them.

Orion was remarkably quick to get used to his and is long since an old paw at striding confidently down the street in his boots and coat which makes him look like an English lord. He’s the worst limper of the two. When the salt appears on the streets he tends to end up flat on his belly writhing and refusing to walk at all. So he’s long since used to his boots. Mischa had his on for the first time today and in order to get them on without him protesting too much I put them on him while he was still in bed. When he finally appeard out of the bedroom he did the classic walk of lifing each paw awkwardly and plonking them down equally awkwardly.

The excitment of the snow got the better of him, though, and once we were outside he broke into a gallop to get to the park where he knew there would be even more snow. The procession went as follows: Mischa galloping in his boots on the snowy-salty goop which had his paws irregularly slipping from under him; Orion in hot pursuit, slipping just as much as Mischa on the goop with his long legs doing odd movements in odd directions; and me last attempting to keep up while people tried to get out of the way before getting run down by the clumsy trio.

In the park Mischa danced around like an oversized demented puppy with Orion looking down his long nose at him with a slightly puzzled expression. We criss-crossed the park with Mischa seeking out as much untouched snow as possible, rolling here and there and sliding around in his boots. Eventually we headed home. A Russian lady clearing the pavement of snow broke into a large grin and shouted “Stiefel!” [boots] as she threw large handfuls of salt around without much thought as to where it landed, the nearby cars generously included in the spray. “Yes”, I thought. Let spring come, please.

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Yule and dogs

Found myself sprinting along Währingerstraße trying to keep up with Mischa at 7 this morning. Just before Votivkirche he broke into a sprint. The poor thing had the runs. So much for giving the dogs a Christmas treat from our dinner of orange duck.

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Yule and overactive husbands

So. After one helluva blog-break (sorry, sorry, sorry!) I’m back with no guarantees for when I’ll be disciplined enough to write more. Just thought I’d drop that in right away. So you know.

Well. It’s that time of year again. You know, the one that is supposed to be white and full of Yule cheers and good wishes for all and happy children, large antlered animals with red noses, fat white-bearded men dressed in red invoking fear in small children for all the wrong reasons – or perhaps the right reasons? what do I know – and various religious adaptations to boot. Happy season’s greetings to all!

Good, now that I got this out of the way I can tell you what Thomas is doing right now. He’s putting together new wardrobes for our bedroom. It must have seemed like a good thing to do right now. About ten minutes ago he wheezed through gritted teeth: “Now I understand why your mother didn’t want these cupboards.” The dogs are adding to the complications of constructing the white stand-up-coffins by insisting on moving around, tripping over tools and work benches and Thomas in turn. I’m actually referring to Orion here: Mischa is in energy saving mode as usual and is sound asleep in the middle of it all. Orion is also helpfully trying to keep an eye on the duck in the oven so it doesn’t run away.

The cupboards are only symptomatic of the many changes my instant family is going through. Both of Thomas’ sons now count among the school-dropouts in Austria. The oldest is slowly and painfully growing up and seeing the sense in being more responsible. Slowly. However, he is still elated about having an income of his own and has a habit of spending his entire income as soon as it’s on his account, or rather, before. So we still have a little work to do in the department of How To Deal With Money.

The youngest was presumably inspired by the success story (sic.) of the oldest and decided that he’d learned all that he will need to know in life earlier this year. After months of not really being in school this was finally revealed to us and — after a brief attempt at improvement and getting one really good mark in Latin he still found that learning was/is unimportant — finally dropped out of school for good. Since then he has been a huge asset around the house insofar as we always know where he is: in front of his computer. That way he doesn’t get in the way and I can occasionally dust around him and move the piles of dirty plates to see if he’s still there.

We are presently facing the prospects of getting the oldest back. That will mean having two large teenage boys sharing a room. This has proven a trial in the past and is likely to not get easier in the future. Good thing I know how to swing a whip. I don’t know if I dread the possibility. It is hard to dread something you have not really tried. But I am occasionally trying to envisage the cosiness of me, Thomas, two large teenagers and two large dogs roaming the premises. That will mean that Orion will not be the only clumsy presence. The teenagers have long since grown completely out of control and are frigtheningly clumsy, something our plates bear witness to with their badly frayed edges. I have a feeling the youngest may never stop growing and will become The World’s Tallest Man before he breaks in the middle from lack of flesh on his bones. The kid lives on Nutella, but where he puts it I’m at a loss to find out. Good thing we live in an “Altbau” with 3m 20cm under the ceilings or he’d already be suffering some serious bumps on his head.

Ah well, where there is love there is room. I sometimes repeat this to myself as a reminder. Muttering under my breath like a lunatic.

2012 looks to be another insanely busy year. The above accounts for some of it, in addition comes that we are involved in the work for the last ToyRun. That’s way more work than I had anticipated, mostly because I never really thought I would be all that involved. But I won’t bother you with the details. Where biking is concerned we are also working with a biker magazine which is being relaunched in 2012. Thomas is more involved than me: he’s now the Viennese editor… All the editors work for the magazine on a freelance basis and have “normal jobs” on the side. I acted as inhouse photographer during their relaunch editorial meeting earlier this month and some of the pictures will be used in the first issue due in February.

Well, it seems Thomas is done with causing havoc for the day. The dogs (read: Orion) is suitably nervous about all the upset. Orion is convinced he will be left behind. Mischa takes it for granted that something unpleasant will happen so he has his depressed face on while hoping that the duck will be left unattended long enough for him to teach it how to walk. Into his mouth. Christmas eve is to be spent with my in-laws and Thomas’ youngest sister and husband at my old flat, so right now there is last minutes chaos as we get all the food ready and packed while falling over Orion whose face is getting ever more knotted with worry and Mischa who has placed himself in the middle of the main thoroughfare. I’ve gone overboard with red clothing and am wearing nail varnish for the first time in months making me feel as if I can’t quite move my finger tips in case I chip them. The “children” have been hijacked into bringing cheer and joy to their mother’s family, something they will likely do in poor grace. I know them. We get their joyful company tomorrow. 🙂

All is well. All is quiet. We shall enjoy it while it lasts. 3-2-1. Oh well. It really was too good to last. I’m being ordered to get ready so we can leave for the evening’s festivities. I may update this entry with pictures tomorrow. But, as mentioned, I promise nothing.

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Ine
SO looking forward to getting husband back from his army manoeuvre! I’ve missed him.
Comments:
Rune
She miss her lovely husband, that means she is in love.
Her eyes are shining brightly, like the sun and moon above.
When her husband is coming home again, I know the place Ine will be.
In the bedroom, saying: “Darling. Do the army manoeuvre with me”!
Manfred
In this case the command (in German) “sprung, vorwärts, decken” gets a new meaning…

I’ve missed Thomas for more than one reason. It’s not been all that easy being a nurse, even to “just a dog”. I’ve pretty much nursed him around the clock and I freely admit that even though my bosses allowed me to work from home I haven’t got nearly as much done as I planned. In fact, I got a lot more done in the few hours I was in today than I did the rest of the week — work wise, that is. The rest of the time at home has gone into nursing Orion, feeding Orion, cleaning up after Orion (pee!!), walking Orion, re-training Orion to not pee inside — and trying to keep Mischa from getting too jealous over all the Orion fuss. And at times it would just have been so much easier having Thomas take over some of the Orion fuss so I could get some sleep…

That said: Orion is recovering really well. Today he even played a little. The bounce is back in his step, he begs food like crazy and he follows me everywhere. His stomach looks as if it’s been stitched up by Frankenstein himself so it’s just as well that dogs don’t worry too much about beauty other than the inner kind:

Skinny Orion with big scar. He is not at all bothered by it and I'm allowed to touch it, wash it, apply ointment -- whatever. A friend suggested the vet had put in a zip. Could be. I haven't checked yet.

Thomas is back from his army manoeuvre and he’s signed up for another two manoeuvres. Please don’t ask me any questions about the Austrian army system — I have really no idea how it works. I only know that they have the draft (minimum 8 months) and that it is possible to keep in the “game” voluntarily. Somehow. So this week, with Orion back from animal hospital I have been an “army widow” with a sick child dog and a jealous child dog and a full time job that’s suffered because of the former three. Hopefully, there will be not sick dog-children next time there is a manoeuvre.

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