Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Godspeed Sparky! Golden Emperor

In late May of this year I began my annual pilgrimage to poker's Mecca, the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada. I made the cross country trip alone, per usual, disappointed in my lack of a companion but enjoying the time on the road.

I wouldn't be so disappointed on the ride home. We rented a house a couple miles East of the strip, a group of five (Dan, Nelson, Noah, Dave, and myself) that would soon add a sixth.

A couple weeks into the summer we awoke one morning to find a tiny, emaciated little dog cowering in the corner next to our front door. When I opened the door it backed away timidly, clearly skittish at any attempts to be pet or touched. I wandered to the kitchen and grabbed a bowl of water which was empty within seconds of touching the ground outside. Vegas isn't the easiest place to stay hydrated. I returned to the kitchen for another bowl, which was again rapidly Hoovered. Figuring the dog would likely be hungry, I searched for anything that could be possibly deemed appropriate as dog-food substitute and came up with a couple of slices of bread. Dropping them to the ground outside they vanished in a matter of seconds. I had to get ready for a day of live poker so I took a quick shower and as I got ready to leave placed another bowl of water and a couple slices of bread outside the door and watched our new friend creep back out from behind the corner of the house and get back down to business.

When I returned from a little bit of poker I found that our friend was still hanging out around our front door but we were all loth to bring her inside a rental house that strictly forbade pets, especially considering we had no idea where our pal had come from. For reasons unbeknownst to me the name Sparky had popped into my head and it instantly stuck. I made the common assumption that our dog was a male, not having taken a close look at the nether-regions as we still had a hard time getting close to the dog. A week later, I held Sparky up to the camera on Skype chat and Hannah readily identified Sparky's genitalia as a vagina, and asked how in the world we hadn't figured that out yet.

We expected Sparky to casually go her way at some point or another, but each morning when we woke up we found her asleep on our doorstep, sometimes curled up in a ball in the corner, sometimes sprawling across the mat on her back, flashing the world. And each day she got more and more accustomed to our contact and we got more accustomed to having a new house guest. After a couple of days I decided to experiment and let her inside. She took to the new playground quickly and we soon realized that we had an incredible athlete on our hands. If Sparky wanted to go outside, she indicated it by jumping vertically at the door, but with a running start and a push off the door itself so that she could launch her one-and-a-half foot body about three feet in the air, landing on her feet and then bouncing back up to do it again. A visitor aptly described her as a pogo stick. Our living room suddenly became an obstacle course. She jumped up on one side of the couch, veered right, jumped down, took off around living room table and around the other side of the couch, flew around the poker table, and lept back onto the couch to do it again. All of this in about 3 seconds. She'd do about 10 laps in rapid succession until she got bored, always holding to her exact line and then barrel off to do something else. In addition to that, she didn't defecate inside, a huge plus.

My major concerns alleviated we began to invite her inside each day as long as there was someone there to watch her, normally myself or Noah, as we were both head over heals in love. Knowing little to nothing about 24-7 dog-care I consulted Hannah for more information...like when do dogs poop and pee, arguing that Sparky was not a Chihuahua (she's very fox-like imo), and other important things. I vowed that if she had actually been a chihuahua she would've been deposited far away from the house, likely in a Taco Bell parking lot.

Not a chihuahua.
Informed that many dogs have microchips we took her to PetSmart to get her checked for one and have a general health checkup. Her first time on a leash and collar (which they kindly gave to me at PetSmart after I explained to them her story - their compassion for animals is truly touching), we had to carry her into the PetSmart as she was terrified being this out in the open away from the house. We set her down on the ground by the vet's office and she stood there visibly trembling, backing away in fear of another dog who friendly approached her. Noah sat on the ground with her and pet her while I filled out the paperwork to get her inside. When she got into the office she barked at the vet a couple of times before beginning to relax a bit. Once comfortable the checkup went down without a hitch and she was provided with a clean bill of health. Additionally, she had no microchip so she was all ours if we wanted her. While our vet took care of our laundry list of questions about how the fuck to take care of a dog, Sparky's curiosity overcame her and she walked around the counter, timidly sniffing at everything, much to our vet's amusement (sidenote: if you ever want to pickup a cute PetSmart vet, rescue a street dog (this is not to imply I did)). With a new understanding of dogcare, we took her to pick out a toy and a bed. Noah suggested we let her pick out a bed she likes. It turned out the answer was all of them as she scampered from bed to bed in obvious bliss. After choosing a bed, a few toys, and finding some dog food, we took her home, still unsure as to what we were going to do with her but she was quickly becoming more and more ours. When she crawled into my lap as we were hanging out outside after a night out a few days later, the decision I had wanted to make all along was finally reached: I had to keep her.

Example of her lying in my lap...she so tiny.
Sparky became the house mascot of the summer and quickly adopted additional nicknames. Sparks, Sparkster, Dan's favorite Sparkles...the baseball-adapted Sparkle Anderson. Nelson generally (and lovingly) called her a slut since she had conveniently joined a house full of dudes, also occasionally calling her a racist as the only place in the house she had pooped was Nelson's bathroom floor (twice) and Nelson happened to be the only non-white person in the house (sorry Dan, I know you're half-Colombian but you look white). She did, of course, pee on my bed two nights in a row when I came in at 4 am and took her inside just to head to sleep to find my comforter soaked through. Apparently my comforter and pile of boxers on the floor reminded her of a fresh patch of grass as I caught her peeing on each a few times just to grab her and run her outside to finish. Thankfully she clenched anytime I picked her up.

I'm gonna piss in this bed when you're drunk and exhausted.

 The only problem with keeping her was that I am constantly traveling. After going home for a bit after Vegas I would be heading down to Panama for a few months. I knew a friend of mine already down in Panama had brought his dog down and I contacted him to find out the details. $1000 minimum and hours upon hours of paperwork to bring a dog in. Fuck. Noah, equally enamored with Sparky and top candidate for co-father, suggested he may be able to take her down to Costa Rica with him (our whole house is spread out around Latin America to play online throughout the rest of the year). After several inquiries he found that he too wouldn't be able to take Sparky with him. Fuck. I shot out messages to just about any friend that I thought could possibly take her and repeatedly came up with dead ends until early in July when I threw it out offhand to my friend Mike (taken from his blog post seeing as I obv don't have an IPhone to take such pictures):

He showed interest. Sparky wasn't exactly the type of dog he had imagined himself getting, nor had he expected to get a dog for about another year, but after telling him a bit about her we decided that I would drive her across the country and he could have a little trial period. If it wasn't meant to be we could finally bring her to a shelter, but I didn't really think it would ever happen.

I'll let Mike tell the rest: http://www.youngmanbrown.com/2012/09/my-new-dog-day-1.html

She loooooved the air vents.

But spent most of the cross-country trip napping next to me.

Some may be wondering what inspired the title of this blog and for that I will give a brief snippet as to the awesome character that is Sparky.

After dropping Sparky off at Mike's for a few days while I went home, I returned there a week later to find that he too had immediately fallen in love with her. Her name was now Sadie, which I begrudgingly accepted while admitting it was a bit more feminine, but I preferred calling her the Sadist or Sparky, or my still favorite Sparkle Anderson. Some nights when Mike was at work I took Sadie for walks around the neighborhood and noticed a new behavior she hadn't been able to exhibit on the shorter walks I took her on before. She pissed on EVERYTHING. Any tree, post, sign, hell any speed bump we walked past she would charge towards, pulling at the leash. After carefully sniffing for the scent of her own urine, if deemed unsatisfactory, she would squat down to mark her territory. This was made increasingly entertaining by two things:

First off, she would have a hard time pushing 15 pounds on a scale and has a proportionately small bladder. Exhibiting a remarkably consistent lack of foresight she would always take a long piss on the first landmark and by the time we'd reach the eighth or ninth nary a drop could be squeezed from her severely depleted stock.

Secondly, when she pees, she doesn't pee in one spot. Instead, she cocks up on her front legs with her back legs out and then somehow walks forward on them all the while maintaining a stream of urine. Thus, she manages to cover a vast amount of territory with each pee.

Amused by her antics and sheer determination to cover as much ground as possible with her limited supply of piss I began to audibly narrate our walks, dubbing her Sadie the Emperor, conquering new lands wherever she went. By my estimates Sadie has conquered the most square miles per pound of any dog in the greater Philadelphia Metropolitan area.

Please note that I am aware that she is technically an Empress, but Emperor just sounds far more badass.

I have been wanting to write a blog about Sparky/Sadie for a while and as soon as I began calling her an emperor I felt a tribute was appropriate. I know very little of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's music but I happened to walk past them on my way to a different stage at Coachella and was drawn in by the unique sounds coming from their tent. I could only stay 10 minutes as I had places to go but what I did see was an unexpected pleasure. So in tribute to that 10 minute treat, I give you a song by them recommended by a friend who has actually listened to a bit of their music. Enjoy.