One of these days…

Big news in the D over the weekend — the suburbs, actually. A woman’s been missing for three weeks. Her husband said they had an argument, and the last time he saw her she was walking down their driveway to climb into a dark-colored sedan. This was February 9. He waited five days to report her missing, and then it started — an ex-girlfriend came forward with e-mails from the husband, saying he suspected his wife was having an affair, then the creepy interviews with media outlets where he referred to her in the past tense, before going all teary and begging her to come home.

Well, you don’t have to be an ace criminologist to suspect how it would turn out, although even ace criminologists probably didn’t expect a weekend like this one. The police searched the house Friday night, and in pretty short order found a woman’s torso in the garage. They turned around to say, “Hey, care to explain this?” but hubby had vanished into the gloaming. The following day was spent following the twin threads of the Search for More Body Parts and the Search for the Husband. They found the former (strewn around the proverbial nearby wooded area) before the latter, but by daybreak Sunday he’d been collared; they tracked him like an animal to a state park up near the Mackinac Bridge. He was found, hypothermic and frostbitten, huddled under a fallen tree with no coat or shoes. He confessed from his hospital bed, and will likely be cleared for travel in a day or two.

Anyway, reading all this exciting news in the paper Sunday kept me from Mitch Albom’s column longer than usual. But there it was, and so I read:

There is a dog show in Detroit this weekend, and 60,000 people are expected to attend, and 3,000 dogs, and 163 breeds, and we won’t even count the plastic bags and scoopers.

Hey, I went to that dog show. I read on:

And at some point during the show, as thousands of spectators cheer, the prized pooches will walk alongside their owners, in lockstep, in gentle canter, paws bouncing as if on marshmallows, coats groomed, heads erect, spines straight.

One sentence, and I can pick a nit in nearly every phrase. First nit: Most dog shows are not Westminster, in Madison Square Garden, but in vast convention-center spaces like Cobo, in Detroit. There are many rings scattered throughout this space. There have to be, as at last count the AKC recognizes something like 80 million distinct breeds. Anyway, the breed judgings tend to be attended by one of two groups — fierce partisans for the Bouvier des Flandres and exhausted spectators looking to take a load off their feet before checking out the Dog House Bakery, purveyor of gourmet treats for your best friend. A couple dozen, not thousands, and the standard expression of enthusiasm is applause, not cheering.

I attended one group class — the toys. Maybe 100, 150 people were strung along the outside of the ring paying attention to the events within. Most didn’t cheer. I guess, if you add up all the classes in all the rings, at least a couple thousand people actually cheered, but most watched with an expression suited to one of the two groups mentioned above. P.S. The Pomeranian won.

Next nit: Check the dictionary definition of “lockstep.” It means to march as close as possible to the person in front. Open up the definition a little, and I’d accept using it to mean walking in stride with someone next to you. In any event, it doesn’t describe how dogs walk next to handlers, because one party has two feet and the other has four.

“In gentle canter”? Even a nodding familiarity with four-legged locomotion would indicate dogs show at a trot. And what’s a “gentle” canter, anyway?

“Paws bouncing as if on marshmallows.” This, my friends, is the kind of wordsmithery that lands you at the top of the bestseller list for months at a time.

“Coats groomed” — yes, as opposed to those come-as-you-are dog shows.

“Heads erect, spines straight” — Note, please: A dog has four legs. This means its spine is on a plane perpendicular to ours, and so straightness has no relevance here. Dogs can’t exactly slump the way we do, although sometimes, when they’re tired, they’ll lower their heads, so he gets points for noting that a dog in the show ring keeps its head erect.

Because I am a masochist, I skimmed the rest of the column. It was about Mitch training his dog. Piercing insight: It turns out that when you hire a trainer, he doesn’t actually train the dog, he trains you to train the dog. What’s up with that!

OK, enough. I — we — enjoyed the dog show. Kate brought a friend, and the two oohed and ahhed over the teensy-weensy ones; apparently the toy dog you carry in a purse is all the rage with little girls. When I was her age, I read all the Albert Payson Terhune books and dreamed of owning a collie like Lad or Lady, so I don’t count this as progress.

I paid close attention the the Parson Russell Terriers, of course. Contrary to what you might have heard, a Parson Russell is not a Jack Russell, but the compromise in a bitter dispute over whether the JRT is the result of careful husbandry or just a naughty little mutt. When my own naughty little mutt was a pup, I quickly developed an eye for the breed, and it’s funny: They all looked different, and yet, they were unmistakably Jack Russells. Long coat, short coat, long legs, short legs — they all just had the look. (I think it was in the straightness of the spine.) This was before they were recognized by the AKC, and nowadays the Parson Russell has a standard and is much easier for civilians to pick out in a crowd.

I petted two. Both were adorable. One was terribly shy, not a good thing in a terrier. Not surprisingly, she was a washout in the show ring. Still, adorable.

I left thinking our next dog will not be something you carry in a purse, but not a collie, either. (Ack, the grooming. How did these dogs get bred in a country with so many burrs?) Probably another terrierist. Alan’s thinking a border terrier — he likes that little otter face. I’d be happy with a shelter critter. But not for a while. The one we have still has some life in him, the naughty little mutt.


In Fort Wayne my New Yorker used to arrive on Thursday (it’s published Monday), but here it comes on Saturday, so I was late reading Seymour Hersh’s “The Redirection.” Not recommended for the easily upset. Hersh says we’re preparing for the war to spread into Cambodia Iran, among many other things:

One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration’s perspective, the most profound—and unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran. …After the revolution of 1979 brought a religious government to power, the United States broke with Iran and cultivated closer relations with the leaders of Sunni Arab states such as Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. That calculation became more complex after the September 11th attacks, especially with regard to the Saudis. Al Qaeda is Sunni, and many of its operatives came from extremist religious circles inside Saudi Arabia. Before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, Administration officials, influenced by neoconservative ideologues, assumed that a Shiite government there could provide a pro-American balance to Sunni extremists, since Iraq’s Shiite majority had been oppressed under Saddam Hussein. They ignored warnings from the intelligence community about the ties between Iraqi Shiite leaders and Iran, where some had lived in exile for years. Now, to the distress of the White House, Iran has forged a close relationship with the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Oh, joy.

Note: The headline for today’s post is not a Honeymooners reference. Have a nice day.

Posted at 10:17 am in Current events, Media |

29 responses to “One of these days…”

  1. Jen said on March 5, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Just a word in favor of the collie: my husband talked me into one 4 years ago, and he is the **greatest**dog**in**history**. Not bad with the burrs, either. Just comb him once a week, and be sure to clear out the beater brush in the vacuum once a month.

    He doesn’t really go for the burrs, much. But he does tattle on our daughter.

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  2. Pam said on March 5, 2007 at 10:51 am

    I would recommend one of these dogs:

    A neighbor has one and it is the calmest, nicest dog. Too cute and with very soft coat.

    But we’re keeping Spriggy as long as possible. Who would wash up the floor? And lick the dishes in the dishwasher? And eat the cake right off the table? And signal when the pizza man has arrived? He has so many jobs to do!

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  3. LA mary said on March 5, 2007 at 11:04 am

    There are two brother dogs in my local shelter whom I’d take in a heartbeat if I wasn’t maxed out on dogs already. Lab/Corgi mixes, one brown and white, the other black. They are sweet and just have the right look about them, the way they catch your eye and sell themselves, a lot like my Lab but lower to the ground. I hope someone adopts the two of them soon. I’d bet on them being great dogs.

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  4. Danny said on March 5, 2007 at 11:10 am

    “One of these Days”

    Not Honeymooners. Pink Floyd, then?

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  5. brian stouder said on March 5, 2007 at 11:14 am

    One thing about the suburban butcher guy: he has the google-eyed look of a Central Casting nut-job. Presumeably I’d never make it onto a jury – because ‘ace criminology’ aside, he LOOKS the part of “insane axe murderer”

    As for Seymour Hersh – everytime I see his by-line, I think of KAL-007 – and how the Soviets shot down the passenger plane and denied it, and how good ol’ Sy licked their boots and did all he could to blame it on the US and President Reagan.

    Hersh did magnificent work during the Vietnam war, and particularly with regard to My Lai; in fact Nance glancingly acknowledges that with the strike-out reference to Cambodia…

    and then he became stuck in “blame America first” mode (as Jeane Kirkpatrick used to say)

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  6. nancy said on March 5, 2007 at 11:17 am

    What else?

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  7. nancy said on March 5, 2007 at 11:24 am

    He’s also done magnificent work in Iraq, Brian. Give the guy his props for Abu Ghraib at the very least.

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  8. brian stouder said on March 5, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Fair enough – although in that case the wheels of justice were already turning

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  9. LA mary said on March 5, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Apparently someone else noticed those two pups. They aren’t on the animal shelter website anymore, and they hadn’t been at the shelter long enough to be missing for bad reasons. They must have been adopted Sunday, because I saw them Saturday. Hope they got great homes.

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  10. LA mary said on March 5, 2007 at 11:51 am

    How about that Ann Coulter, eh?

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  11. brian stouder said on March 5, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Mary – if you heap great mounds of derision upon her, I could not possibly disagree with any of it.

    Nance mentioned in another thread about hyped up ‘personalities’ who will do or say any damned thing to get their name and face into the public conciousness – to the point of flame-outs and melt-downs.

    I don’t think Anne will give us the satisfaction of a public meltdown (ala the Wicked Witch of the West, in her case) – but she has nothing informative to say…only flash and smoke. (I watched her on C-SPAN addressing a friendly room about whatever book she was hawking at the time, and then the cameras stayed on her as she did book signings, exchanging pleasant small talk with all who approached her. The impression I got of her was that she is a very calculated charlatan…to use the Wizard of Oz again – sort of a malevolent Professor Wonder [or whatever the Wizrd called himself])

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  12. nancy said on March 5, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Talking about her only encourages her. I’m a conscientious objector.

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  13. LA mary said on March 5, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    OK. Let’s find more to dump on in Mitch’s column then. He says the dogs are “erect spined.” How does that work? Now I’m visualizing a bunch of dogs walking in lockstep on their hind legs. What kind of weird dog shows do you people have in Detroit? Here the dogs walk on all fours and the judges check their teeth and testicles. Large women in flowy dresses and ugly shoes run around with them. Guys walking tiny dogs look half the gay couple in “Best in Show,” even if they are straight.

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  14. nancy said on March 5, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    I’ve always wondered about the ugly-shoe thing, too. Obviously it’s for comfort and agility-while-showing, but I always think, why don’t those women just wear a nice tailored pant suit, something that goes better with the Hush Puppies?

    Once Alan and I were watching Westminster and one of the handlers — a stout woman in what looked like sequins and black Adidas — got her feet crossed and fell like a giant oak when she was doing the down-and-back. The dog, such a good boy, stopped and waited for her. I’m sure she went back to the hotel and found an oven to stick her head into. It was that mortifying.

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  15. LA mary said on March 5, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    They did a makeover on a dog handler on What Not To Wear, and got the woman to stop wearing the flowy things and ugly shoes, but she had the advantage of being really gorgeous and about 25 years old, so it didn’t take too much to make a big improvement.
    I wear Adidas or Pumas or Merrel Mocs with my pantsuits a lot of the time here, since I’m on the run around the building, and some of the elevators are very slow. You can get some pretty cool looking shoes that are good for doing four flights of stairs, though. I have some tan suede Pumas that look great with the brown tweed pantsuit. Ok, I don’t look corporate, but I get around.

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  16. cce said on March 5, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    I’m home…can’t believe I’ve found you…riffs on Mitch Albom, applause for Hersch, New Yorker readers all of you?, a few jabs to Coulter’s head, and my favorite topic, DOGS! Please, may I stay awhile?
    Just wanna make a plug for a breed you may not have considered, Nancy..the Vizsla. We’ve got a two year old female that is just a terrific medium size dog without the grooming head aches and an energy to match any Jack Russell I’ve ever met. For some this is not a good thing, but we like things lively. I’ve got a picture of my dog up on my site today. Surf on over!
    As for Coulter, I know we’re not supposed to give her any fuel for her fire but my question is, What will become of her when age ruins those good looks? She seems to be coasting on her general attractiveness. We can only hope she turns into a troll sometime soon!

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  17. alex said on March 5, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Yay, Vizsla! That’s a Hungarian dog, so very near and dear to my heart. It’s built like a Weimaraner and/or Doberman but with a distinctive brown coat and fabulous green eyes. I believe all three breeds may share a common ancestry, actually; Dobermans were bred from mixing Weimaraners, Rottweilers and some sort of terrier.

    When I was a kid my family had a Puli, another Hungarian dog, but an awful pet. It’s a herding dog and its inbred penchant for biting other animals (and people) in the ass cannot be controlled.

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  18. Neil said on March 5, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Having shown and bred dogs for a while (our breed is the other Hungarian dog, the Kuvasz, a big white guard dog), and having talked to hundreds of people who think they want one of our dogs, my usual response is, get a lab or golden. If you want to spend the time and effort to train a dog, socialize a dog, etc., then by all means get a Dobey, Rotty, Kuvasz, JRT (we’ve had one of those also, the Jack Russel Terrorist, Emma), etc. But most people don’t want to make that kind of commitment.

    For most people, if they want to go the pure bred route, get something like a lab, a poodle, etc. or a toy breed. Not that you shouldn’t obedience train and socialize them too, but those dogs are more forgiving and a lot more malleable. Hard breeds, independent thinkers, guard dogs require more effort and work, well worth it, but work. And most people with all the other stuff they have going on with kids and life don’t really have the time. And I don’t feel like having to rescue more dogs that people throw away.

    And oh yeah, the very sight of AC now makes me sick. She’s not fun and she’s not funny. She’s a blond Pat Buchanan with even less of a sense of humor.

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  19. colleen said on March 5, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Yay for Hungarian dogs!

    Yeah, the ugly shoes at dog shows thing is weird. Check out the Dansko web site…there are some perfectly functional, comfy, NON butt ugly shoes there.

    As for the guy who murdered his wife. WHAAA? Why would he put part of her in HIS OWN GARAGE?

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  20. LA mary said on March 5, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Puma Speed Cats. Not as ugly as Adidas and they come in cool colors. Of course, they are men’s shoes, but they run narrow. Go down two sizes.

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  21. nancy said on March 5, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    I think the unpleasant lesson every killer learns is just how hard it is to dispose of a body. Even a petite woman is 110 pounds of flesh and bone, and that’s a lot. Witness the people who throw a little gas on the body, strike a match, and then are amazed to find themselves with a burned body, not a neat pile of ashes. No one ever told them cremation takes hours on a constant flame, evidently.

    As for this guy, the police are now saying he dumped the body parts once and then panicked when the police started searching the area, so he retrieved the torso and brought it back to the house, presumably thinking the heat would blow over and he’d dump it again. Yech. The theory is he used his family’s tool-and-die shop for the dismemberment. I’m no tool-and-die expert, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the next development is the arrest of a reluctant accomplice.

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  22. LA mary said on March 5, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Recalling the discussion we had of Tom Cruise’s shortness and Katie Holmes’s tallness, check the photo here:

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  23. anriley said on March 5, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Dog shows are great. We don’t have dogs ourselves but we love to go to the big show in Chicago every winter. I knew it was my kind of event the first time we went — a girl, maybe twelve, strolled by carrying a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, and I said, “Oh, what a beautiful puppy!” and she stopped, held him up, and said, “This is Sparky (or whatever), he’s a twelve-week-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Would you like to pet him?”

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  24. vince said on March 5, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Hersh has been doing stand out (and stand alone) reporting on the Bush administration’s preparations for a war in Iran for over a year now. He’s the only one documenting actually planning going on inside the Pentagon and the White House.

    Save for an interview on Fresh Air, no one else seems to pick up his trail.

    His stories are scary reading.
    It’ll be scarier if he’s as accurate as his documentation sounds.

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  25. ashley said on March 6, 2007 at 9:58 am

    I heard wood chippers work well.

    Actually, my father told me that in the 60s, South Louisiana was a great dumping ground for bodies. Alligator filled swamps do seem to make bodies disappear rather easily.

    And I still say that Coulter is simply an uglier version of Vincent Schiavelli.

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  26. LA mary said on March 6, 2007 at 10:47 am

    When I first heard of the missing wife story I thought of the wood chipper scene in Fargo, complete with half dressed guy running across the snow.

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  27. brian stouder said on March 6, 2007 at 10:56 am

    You betcha!

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  28. basset said on March 6, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    A whole dog show to watch and you went to the TOY group? Thought you knew better than that, Nance, those things aren’t dogs.

    Now, THESE are dogs:

    Ann Coulter? To da moon, Annie, to da moon…

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  29. LA mary said on March 7, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Those are definitely dogs. Poppy, my golden, would approve. I would endorse labs and great danes as well, but mostly endorse shelter dogs. Every time I drop off my son for his volunteer time at the shelter it breaks my heart to see the dogs ( and cats) who need homes. So many truly fine animals there need someone to give them homes.
    In a weird way I’m glad he will be switching to a tree planting project for his volunteer requirment at school. The shelter, which is new and pretty nice, still gets me down.

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