Arden’s career path

Last night, Beau and I decided Arden and Kitty needed to start contributing to our family on an economic level. Ultimately, we decided they might have a lively career in the entertainment industry. We’ve made a plan to pitch the following shows to all the major broadcast networks as well as Bravo:

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Milk-Bones
Arden plays a doggedly determined FBI special agent teamed with unlikely partner named Kitty, whose cerebral approach to the world and overly literal thinking often causes friction and comedy between the two. In the pilot episode, Arden takes Kitty out into the field to investigate the discovery of a cache of rawhide bones at a local kennel. Kitty hides under a chair and swipes at Arden as she attempts to question suspects, then seduces the kennel owner by rubbing up against his leg and meowing.

Keeping up with the Barkdashians
Arden and Kitty star in this reality series that follows their efforts to build and open a high-end boutique called Dish, which sells custom-made food and water bowls to celebrity pets. In the first episode, Arden and Kitty cannot agree which of them is prettier or smarter. In the second episode, their store opens and they continue to bicker about which of them is prettier or smarter. Paris Hilton’s chihuahua makes a cameo.

Flea
Arden and Kitty star in this musical take on shelter life. In the first episode, they find themselves taken in by a pet shelter where, after hours, the cast of ragtag, misfit dogs and cats sing and dance about their inner desires for love, acceptance, and flea and tick control. They are thwarted by Animal Services, who continually blocks their attempts to escape. Kitty will move you with her powerful rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Without You,” while Arden’s note-for-note remake of Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” will make you sign up to adopt her.

Big Litter
Arden plays Barb, a sister wife living an interbreed polygamist lifestyle in suburban Salt Lake City with her husband, played by an unknown St Bernard. Arden struggles to balance the demands of her husband, sister wives, and children, all while trying to avoid the ire and wrath of a fundamentalist polygamist compound leader, played by Kitty. In the season finale, Kitty sends an army of calicos to poop, puke, and urinate all over Arden’s entry into the annual flowerbed competition.

Grey’s Veterinary
Kitty plays first-year intern Meowedith Grey, a whiny, sullen, and emotionally distant surgical student at Seattle Grace Hospital. She is joined by a litter of other newbies, including the beautiful “Sniffy” Stevens, played by Arden. Throughout the first season, they respond to medical emergencies ranging from the comical (one dog gets his nose stuck in another dog’s butt at a dog park) to the urgent (Kitty has a near-drowning experience after losing her balance on the rim of the bathtub). Benji, in a triumphant return to the screen, stars as the Chief of surgery.

Ardenday

Happy birthday Arden! Today you are 5, or, according to an online schnauzer age calculator, you are 33 in human years.

Here are five special things about you:

1. Your grunty old-man-clearing-his-throat noise you make all the time (a-hem-hem-hem-hem) is totally adorable and makes everyone fall in love with you. Also, your “NAR NAR NAR” growly bark you make when you think someone is up to no good in the hallway.

2. Your eyebrows, or “awnings,” as we call them, when they grow too long and hang over your face like Tammy Faye Bakker.

3. Your “diva toenail” that has grown to be about four inches long, so you can wag it in the face of all the no-good dogs you run into outside who don’t show you the courtesy you deserve!

4. That you give kisses all the time, although sometimes reluctantly when we ask for them. That you yawn in our faces with your mustard gas breath. That you don’t fart until you are deep under the covers…and we least expect it.

5. That even though you are always a lady, sometimes you are a fierce lady!

Happy birthday, Arden!

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Today is Arden’s fourth birthday! In honor of the occasion, she asked that I share some of her impressive stats and fun trivia with you:

Name
Arden Lily Jensen

Nicknames
Arden Lily, Ardentina (as in “Don’t cry for me, Ardentina”), Ardenza (rhymes with “credenza”), Bug, Lady, Lil, Missy, Muffin, Muppet, My Boo, Nugget, Snugglebunny, Stinkerbell, Stinkerella

Astrological sign and dominant traits
Capricorn: can be hard-working and obedient but also stubborn when she wants something

Commands learned
10: Sit, lay down, stay, come here, shake, crate, get down, go to bed, up, kisses

Prefers
Larger, hairier dogs who are dominant

Dislikes
Knocking, door buzzers, chatter in the stairwell, poorly behaved children

Secret shame
Consistently sneaks in and eats cat food

Favorite treats
Rawhide chews with Omega-3 for sensitive skin, any kind of biscuit treat

Great accomplishment last year
Losing 6 pounds! Good job, lady.

And now, a trip down memory lane:

Arden 7
Her first day at home (7 weeks)

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After she learned to climb the stairs on her own.

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Cozied up during a chilly Arizona winter!

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Hanging out at home with dad.

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Showing off her Christmas parka and Pablo, her fake boyfriend until she chewed open his flank.

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Her first “glamour shot” (vaseline on the lens)

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Awww…who can go to work after seeing a face like that?

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Lounging in the summer sun at Grandma and Papa’s house while dad’s out of town.

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Still as “Offred” from her one-woman production of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

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Dressed for dinner the only time she’s been able to fly back to Phoenix to see Grandma and Papa.

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In DC with her new stepsister Kitty.

Happy birthday, beautiful!

The Escape

Over the weekend, Arden and I drove out to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. I checked into a little motel off the beaten path to ensure there’d be few distractions and then settled into get a ton of writing projects done. And I did. I wrote some book reviews, revised a ton of poems, and even wrote some new ones. I read some books too!

Best of all, I took Arden to the ocean for her very first ocean experience. She barked at it. It was cute.

An Open Letter to U.S. Airways in Which I Admit to Two Mistakes, but in Which They Are Mean and Inconsistent

As many of you know, Arden and I were looking forward to a nice long trip home for the holidays this year. I’d put in a lot of hours at work just before we were to leave and wasn’t really thinking through all of my details, which led us to

MISTAKE 1: Not reserving pet airfare early enough.

Did you know there are a limited number of pets allowed on board an aircraft? It was news to me, since my dog also counts as my “carry-on baggage,” which is not limited except to 1 item in other circumstances. I mistakenly assumed we would be in the clear.

Tory at U.S. Airways phone support corrected me and said there was no way I could take my dog on my flight from National Airport to Sky Harbor.

I almost broke down and cried (if this were America’s Next Top Model, you’d be keeping track of this) right then. But after several minutes of begging Tory for any other option, she said she could check other flights from Baltimore. She found one for me leaving the same time and arriving slightly earlier with pet vacancy. I took it and paid the $300 change fee and pet airfare.

I then changed my SuperShuttle reservation to take me to the different airport at the same time. My return flight would still be National.

Then, Arden and I went to sleep, nervously awaiting our trip.

SuperShuttle came and got me at the appointed time and took us to the airport. Just as I approached the check-in kiosk, a stern ticket agent looked at me and said, “You can’t take a dog on a plane like that. That carrier’s too small.”

I was like, “WHUH-HUH??” Arden was in the carrier she used when we flew U.S. Airways from National to Sky Harbor for Thanksgiving. I thought back to the myriad U.S. Airways employees who looked right at her and said things like, “Awww, what a sweetheart!” and “She looks so comfy in there.”

Okay, so I started getting a little irate. “What the f—?” I asked, except it wasn’t he f-word. But it felt like the f-word, if you know what I mean.

Then I almost cried again. I turned beet red and I demanded to know what I was supposed to do, citing our earlier trip on their airline. They did not care. “You’ll have to take her home,” they said plainly. “Or go over to United and see if you can buy a larger carrier.”

I trundled my enormous suitcase over to the United counter and explained my situation to the very kind gate agent there. She pulled out their duffle carrier, but it wasn’t much bigger than mine. The other option was a kennel, a huge one, that would need to be checked. But since U.S. Airways doesn’t check animals, it didn’t matter unless I changed airlines.

I went back and coerced a gate agent into going over to the United counter with me to examine the other carrier. She demurred, saying it was also too small. She then offered to go get her manager so he could tell me know, so I waited patiently for fifteen minutes until he came out.

MISTAKE 2: Read carefully, and frequently.

Throughout this ordeal, I was insistent that I had followed the guidelines on their website, which I thought I had. I told this to the manager, and he came out five minutes later with a print out of the website, where it said pets needed to be able to stand up.

I immediately opted to take a full refund of my fare rather than change my flight to the next day. At this point, I did not want to fly their skies ever again. I’d been flying U.S. Airways for eight years almost exclusively, had their credit card, and had racked up a bunch of miles with them.

I thought back to my Thanksgiving trip, floating blissfully through check-in, security, the gate, and wondered if everything would have been different if I’d simply gotten my pet airfare earlier.

I wandered back over to the United desk, where I knew I could check her in the baggage compartment. “I’d like a ticket to Phoenix.” The gate agent–not the friendly lady who helped me–looked at me bemusedly, crackled his fingers over his keys and said, in understatement, “This is not a great day not to have a reservation.” Nothing.

Arden and I wandered around the Baltimore airport together. I tried to make a plan. I was stranded at the airport. I had no ticket. I had few options. I called my parents, but they didn’t pick up. For the next twenty minutes, I juggled the following phone calls in various succession: my brother, Beau, my sister-in-law, my friend Joe, and Joe’s dogsitter. My brother was scanning pet air travel guidelines, Beau was offering support, my sister-in-law was running the phone between my brother and me while also calling my other brother’s girlfriend (a U.S. Airways flight attendant) for support.

It boiled down to this: Arden was not flying again. Today or any day. U.S. Airways said the “stand-up” rule was a federal regulation, and my brother said checking her was too dangerous. Thanks to Joe, I got connected with his dogsitter, who sounded very kind on the phone and agreed to take her. My brother got me on a flight today–on Southwest, who doesn’t take animals, but who also doesn’t intermittently enforce their policies.

I’ll also flesh out this story by adding that all I’d eaten by this point, by 5 pm, was a bowl of cereal. All day long. That was it. My head hurt, I was dehydrated, defeated. I had been sweating. I had been emotional. I had been driven to the brink of what I could handle in a single 24-hour period and I was ready to drop.

Arden and I lumbered down to the SuperShuttle counter, where I paid another fare to go back home, where I would then cancel my return airport shuttle in January and sign up for two more with my new airfare. We sat for half an hour, rode for half an hour, and then ended up back in the apartment.

Since then I’ve been trying to tell her to be a good girl and behave, and sorry she can’t go home with me for Christmas.

What kills me is that my dog, who is otherwise treated as “luggage,” has to be able to stand up, but babies can sit in laps….? It kills me because babies are less well-trained and are far messier than my little girl. And yet.

Thanks, U.S. Airways! You ruined Christmas.

At least we got that part of the holiday out of the way.

Happy Trails

Not that kind. The other kind.

Arden and I, after much wrangling with the airlines, are planning to fly out this afternoon for AZ’s not-much-warmer weather, family, and much relaxation.

I’ll be checking in, mostly as I succumb to the utter boredom that is having no work to do, including my annual end of the year post on my favorite albums, and possibly an overdue review of Milk.