Amazon Is Everywhere

The depth of Amazon’s penetration of American popular culture is pretty amazing.  Last week, for example, we needed some white cranberry juice to prepare a seasonal cocktail we were making for a gathering with friends.  Kish went to several grocery stores in Columbus and couldn’t find any.  We decided to give Amazon a try, and sure enough, it offered Ocean Spray white cranberry juice — which was delivered to our doorstep the next day, with no muss and no fuss.  Pretty convenient!

But I had no idea of the stunning breadth of Amazon’s business activities until I got a surprise while walking the dog.

In our neighborhood, there are a few strategically placed containers where dog owners can get free poop bags.  It’s a good idea for the neighborhood, because it gives dog owners no excuse but to clean up after their pooches, and it’s a blessing for the dog owners who otherwise might be caught short in the crucial bag department.  The bags had been made by anonymous companies and featured cartoon drawings of happy (and apparently relieved) dogs — until now.  I stopped by one of the containers last week, pulled out two of the plastic baggies so I would have a ready supply, and saw to my surprise as I was putting them into my back pocket that they were from AmazonBasics and featured the familiar swish/smile logo.  So, Amazon has now made crucial inroads into the German Village canine poop bag market.

It’s hard to imagine that poop bags are a very lucrative, high-margin item for a supplier, but I guess if you’re aiming to dominate the supply of every product Americans might need, poop bags are just another item on the list.  And the poop bag itself makes it clear that Amazon isn’t just looking at America, either — the bags I took feature the suffocation hazard warning in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese.

Achtung!  Amazon is everywhere!

 

Into The Barking Zone

Recently, our previously quiet little part of German Village has become a kind of barking zone.  Some new people have moved into the surrounding apartments with their dogs, and those dogs apparently like to bark.

Not all the time, though — just when I’m leaving the house in the morning and coming home from work at night.

A dog across the street seems to be the barking leader in the barking zone.  He stands with front paws on the ledge of the window of his home, barely visible in the shadows next to a curtain, looking outward.  From his dim outline and the nature of his bark, he looks to be some kind of hound.  When he sees me coming or going he barks and barks until he’s got to be hoarse.

After the pooch across the street starts up, dogs in some of the other places hear him and they typically join in from their homes, blending their more high-pitched yips and yowls and yelps with the leader’s deep-throated woofing.  Within seconds, we’ve got a fully developed canine cantata going on.

I’m not sure why I am the target of such furious barking, which doesn’t seem to happen with other random passersby.  There’s obviously something about my presence that the dog across the street finds disturbing, or threatening to his alpha dog status.  And although I’m curious about how the dog across the street picked me out, the muffled barking doesn’t really bother me.  It’s just become part of the greeting when I get home.  In fact, it’s kind of like my own little fanfare.

 

Eau De Wet Dog

Earlier this week, it was raining when Betty and I took our morning walk.  It was pelting down pretty hard outside as we circled Schiller Park, and by the time we got home Betty was soaked.  She did a few of the familiar dog shakes to try to fling off as much moisture as possible, and I did my best to towel her off, but when I finally let her off the leash and she scampered upstairs, the damage was already done:

2019097024-780x0Our house was filled, to every remote nook and cranny, with the distinctive aroma of eau de wet dog.

The bouquet of wet dog is one of those highly distinctive smells.  It doesn’t seem to vary much from dog to dog, or from long hair breed to short hair breed.  To paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s statement about pornography, you might not be able to accurately describe eau de wet dog, but you sure as heck know it when you smell it.  And once you smell it, you will remember the pungent, musty odor of wet fur and canine sweat and be able to immediately identify it for the rest of your life.

It’s not like one of those phony, instantly forgettable fragrances that people spray in their bathrooms.  No, the heady tang of canine cologne is clearly one of the most memorable smells in the olfactory catalog.  In the indelible odor category, it’s up there with wood smoke, a salty, algae-laden whiff of oceanfront air, or the inside of a brand-new car.

Not that you want eau de wet dog around your house, of course, but when you’ve got a dog in the house there’s not much you can do about it.

Dogfishing

Here’s another sign of how out of step I am with popular culture:  the new trend in on-line dating websites is to post a photo in which the person who wants a date poses with some cute dog . . . who isn’t actually their dog.

dog-yawningIt’s called “dogfishing.”  The underlying concept is that a picture with an adorable dog instantly communicates something about the life and personality of the person in the photo.  Dog ownership is associated with positive qualities, so photos with dogs convey, to some people, at least, that the person is a friendly, nurturing type who loves animals.  After all, if the dog in the photo evidently likes the person, that’s an endorsement of sorts.  Plus, the dog in the photo is something that the two strangers who connect through the dating site can talk about when they meet each other.

So some on-line dating app users — mostly men, apparently — have decided to latch on to the positive associations of dog ownership, without actually having to deal with poop pick-up, worms, shedding, and the other negative attributes of actual dog ownership.  They find a dog, get a consciously cute picture taken with the dog, ditch the dog, post their picture, and they’re off to the races.  Apparently they’re banking on making a lasting connection before the people they meet through the websites figure out that there is no dog.

I’ve read about users of on-line dating sites misrepresenting their physical appearance, employment status, education, and the like, so another bit of conscious deception probably shouldn’t be a surprise.  But, to me, taking a fake photo with a cute dog in hopes that some gullible dog lover decides to venture a meeting seems to plumb new depths in on-line deception.  What’s next?  Fake mothers?

A Cat In The House

After years — decades, even — of existing in my own cat-free zone, I’m back to living in a cathouse.  Richard and Julianne are here for a visit, and they brought their cat Froli and their dog Pretty along with them.

Even a non-cat person like me can see that Froli is a beautiful cat, with bright green eyes and jet-black fur.  She seems wary by nature, and it took a while for her to get her bearings in the new place.  Pretty, on the other hand, just plopped down on the floor like she’d been here a thousand times before.  Now that Froli is used to the place, she’s acting like she owns the place, too. No table, counter, shelf, or other surface is immune from a Froli prowl and exploration, and she’s apt to be found lounging and stretching just about anywhere.

We last had a cat back in the early ’90s, when we briefly provided services for an extremely haughty and diffident cat named Baby who vanished after we moved to a new house.  Since then, dealing with nothing but dogs, I’ve forgotten my cat lessons and lost my cat reflexes.  I’ve been startled by Froli’s leaping ability, her sudden movements, and her ability to silently appear just about anywhere when you least expect it.  She’s already scaled the screens on our windows and doors in her ceaseless quest to get outside and check out the neighborhood, and I’ve relearned the need to move quickly coming in and out so she can’t dart by.

When Froli jumps up next to you and hits you with her searching, green-eyed gaze, you wonder what she’s thinking.  With Pretty, on the other hand, you have a pretty good idea that she either (1) wants to be petted, or (2) wants to be fed.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever be a cat person, but it’s interesting being around a cat again.

Squirrel Sentinel

Russell’s dog Betty is here for a visit. At our house, her job is to protect our backyard from squirrel invasions. She sits atop the back steps, ever-vigilant, ceaselessly scanning for squirrel intrusions and the foul depredations that would inevitably follow if one of the furry rodents were to actually set foot in our yard.

At some point in the past, Betty’s ancestors must have had a serious run-in with squirrels. Betty carries around the genetic memory of that encounter in every fiber of her being. As a result, no house in the neighborhood is better protected from squirrel trespass than ours. The squirrels steer clear when our Squirrel Sentinel is at her post.