I haven’t posted about our mangy cur in a while, so here goes. When we last had her weighed, Maisy was around 70 pounds, and I’d guess she’s a bit more now. She curls up into deceptively small spaces on the couch, especially if she can find a pillow to cuddle with. If she gets a whiff of a shot at getting her belly rubbed, she’ll roll over for it, and she’s got a smile (if you’ll forgive the anthropomorphism) both winning and goofy. She’s about 2.5 years old, has been with us for a little short of two years, and has turned into a pretty good dog (though she still doesn’t reliably know her name or do much of anything we tell her to other than sitting, which to be fair is our fault more than hers).

Hot Dog Cheese Man

In trying to train Maisy to do things like recognize her name and please please to stop trying to tear my ears off my head with her fangs, I’ve begun giving her little bits of hot dog and cheese. When we go on a walk, I keep a few in my left hand and vainly insist “heel! heel!” every few steps to try to get her to walk beside me and to my left. When she manages to do it, I give her a treat. If she continues to walk beside me, I dribble treats to her periodically to make it a rewarding behavior. I also use hot dogs and cheese to work on things like “sit” and “down” and “stay” and “maul” with her.

Because I work from home and my family is at work and school for much of the day, I lead sort of a solitary daytime life, and so naturally I talk to the dog a lot. I decline to confirm suspicions that I carry on full conversations with her as if she were a human being, supplying both sides of the conversation. I will confirm that for the humorous benefit of the children, I will sometimes say things aloud as if from the dog’s perspective. For example, if she’s trying to tear my ears off, I might use a goofy voice to say something like “I can’t help myself because they’re just so tasty, like delectable pink little pork rinds nom nom nom.”

One day a couple of weeks ago, I was saying something in my “I am a ridiculous animal” voice and speaking from the dog’s perspective about myself. I imagined that the dog’s notion of who I am is that I am the thing that is fun to chew on and drag along by a leash and that supplies hot dogs and cheese, so I had her say something like “Hot Dog Cheese Man is going to take me outside now.” And from then on, I’ve taken on the nickname “Hot Dog Cheese Man.” I refer to myself by that name (mostly when dealing with the dog), and the kids have picked it up some too. It’s a source of great mirth within the family.

My daughter lost her last baby tooth the other night and left us a note with it (she knows we’re the Tooth Fairy) in which I make an appearance as Hot Dog Cheese Man.

In all things pertaining to naming in our household, this rates very highly for me, third perhaps to Maisy’s long silly name and the name Cheesyfarts McButterpants, which I made up for a reason I’ve since forgotten but which still comes up from time to time.

Maisy Update

We’ve had Maisy for a little over a month now, and it’s been a pretty mixed experience for us. Shortly after we got Maisy, M got a job outside the home after years without one, and in retrospect, we should probably have waited and made one major life change at a time.

On the whole, Maisy is a good dog. She’s sweet and playful, and it’s mostly worth the bruises and scratches and bite marks I persistently sport now. Her paws may have scratched up our nice wood floors, but at least she’s only destroyed small parts of a few pieces of furniture, a bunch of toys, and most recently her nice soft bed.

She’s actually coming along a bit in her training. I started an obedience class with her this week. We had already been working on her learning her name and “sit,” and now we’re working on a couple of other commands. She’s starting to grok “down,” but I’m less optimistic about her understanding a few of the other commands any time soon.

In spite of the havoc she has wrought in our routines and on our home, I’m enjoying her. I feel like I spend more time giving her attention now than I do my kids, and I’m eager for that to taper off as she continues to become integrated into our lives (and us into hers), but she’s enriched my life a bit, if perhaps not yet as much as she has complicated it.


For months now my daughter has been asking me for a dog. Our pup of many years died a couple of years ago, and though I was sad to lose him, I’ve also been pleased not to have to wake up in the middle of the night to let him out, not to have to find a place for him to stay when we’re out of town, not to have to listen to his shrill barking at times when it’s annoying. We’ve also since made a bunch of improvements to the house, including new carpet, and I haven’t wanted a dog to come along and destroy those improvements. And finally, it hurts to lose a dog, and you do eventually wind up losing the dog. I’ve maintained that I was perfectly happy just visiting with the dogs of friends and family. It’s been a pretty good few years for me dog-wise.

But my daughter is persistent. A couple of months ago, she started occasionally emailing me pictures and videos of cute dogs. She has of course continued to talk about wanting a dog. Any time we’ve visited with a dog, her happiness has been hard to look past. All of these things seem to have led to my deciding that maybe a dog isn’t such a bad thing after all. They’re soft and snuggly and friendly, and they make kids happy. They make my wife feel less vulnerable when I’m traveling. There’s a lot to be said for owning a dog.

I spent a few weeks mulling it over sort of passively, by which I suppose I mean that I learned that my daughter should go into marketing because her tricks influenced me to convince myself that I might like to have a dog not merely as a concession to the rest of the family (who all wanted one) but also because I might find it pleasant myself.

So the other morning, I told my wife I thought we should consider getting a dog for Christmas (there’s more to the story, but that’s the end result), and we found a sweet looking dog on a local shelter’s web site and drove to visit with her. A few hours later, after some time waiting, some time getting her bathed, and some expensive time at the pet store, we brought home the very nice dog pictured below. She’s a yellow lab (maybe some kind of a mix?) about 9 months old and about 43 pounds.

We had some initial contention about what to name her. My wife and I both sort of wanted Jolene, mostly for the comic effect of calling her to come in from the back yard. My daughter wanted to name her Dumbledore. One of the kids wanted to name her Chewbacca (though we’re not really super big Star Wars fans and haven’t seen the new movie yet, so I’m not really sure where that came from). One of the kids mentioned that a friend’s dog was named Daisy, and it made me think of Maisy, which I think is cute and which shortens to something that sounds like maize, which is a yellowish color for our yellowish pup. Our family has a weird, complicated name, so I proposed that something weird and complicated might be appropriate, and we agreed in the end on Maisy Jolene Hyzenthlay Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore Learn-Houston.