Animal antics less annoying than ads

October 28, 2008

My one and only question about the upcoming presidential election had been this: Is either of the candidates George Bush? No? Great, then I'm happy with the result, come what may.

I had made up my mind; I was in favor of the election.

Yet somewhere between the 400,000th Obama television ad and the 300,000th e-mail warning that he is the Antichrist, I sheared a pin. We had to find a retreat where we could, for a long weekend, be untouched by political trespass.

That's how we wound up in New Jersey.

The reasoning was brilliant on my part, if I do say so. The Garden State is solidly blue, so there would be no reason for advertising by either campaign.

And even though nearby Pennsylvania was still somewhat in play, the Philadelphia Phillies' World Series run would drown out all competing noise.


I was correct on both counts. South Jersey seems to be conservative, yet somewhat open to new ideas. So while McCain-Palin signs were in the majority, they were - I am not kidding - colored pink.

Unfortunately, by the time I had all but mastered New Jersey's Rubik's Cube-like highway system, it was time to leave the lovely shore. More unfortunately, the animals had been waiting up for us.

Although we had arranged for pet-sitters, the pets themselves took a dim view of this arrangement and spent the bulk of the weekend plotting revenge:

Juliet: The small Siamese has always made up in noise what she lacks in size. Mostly, this involves the machine-gun, passive-aggressive purr in the eardrum at 5 a.m.

But due to our absence, she judged that we had to be punished in new and creative ways. Basically, this involved prying a wooden knob off a dresser and batting it around the wooden floor for the better part of the night - punctuated by long pauses and then, just as you're thinking it's safe to go back to sleep, a resumption of said activity.

Waterboarding must feel like a back rub after this technique. It was worse when she stopped the clatter, because all there was to do then was lie there in a state of high tension, waiting to see if the nightmare was indeed over or if this was just a tease.

Hannah: Part of a planned tag team perhaps, the bulldog - she with a face out of "Slingblade" and a shape out of "Free Willy" - took up the cause when the cat finally tailed off.

In the middle of the night, she conceived of an itch in a spot where, given stubby legs and general roundness, no bulldog paw could ever reach.

This led to an hour of huffing, puffing and groaning as she attempted to find a position that would allow claw access to the affected spot. Every so often she would twist herself enough to get close, but just as she did, gravity would take over and she would thud noisily onto her back, with the resulting whoof of air exiting the misshapen nasal passages echoing throughout the room. She is lucky she is so lovable.

Opie: The bouvier des Flanders lacks the subtlety of his roommates and is not contrived enough to concoct a cover story (scratching or playing) for acting out. His approach was pretty straightforward. While we were away, he ate one of those "indestructible" cheeseburger squeaky toys and proceeded to spend the next 48 hours throwing up all over the house.

So we - and by "we" I mean "Beth" - spent considerable time mopping up shards of brightly colored plastic dripping in a sticky and unspeakably fragrant goo.

Which, when it comes down to it, was less repulsive than being subjected to a weekend of political ads.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at

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