Editor’s Note: Mandy Stadtmiller is the deputy editor at Dogster’s sister SAY Media site, xojane.com. This article first ran on xoJane, but we’re rerunning it (with permission!) so you readers can comment on it. Please note that the opinions expressed below are just the author’s and not necessarily Dogster’s.
Things happen when you own a dog. A dogfight might occur, and your dog might get a tear in his inner ear cartilage and then you have to pay your last $500 until payday on Friday to get the poor sweet pup looked at by your vet.
You might walk into the operating area of your vet’s office where a team of five people including the vet have secured your whimpering but extremely well-behaved dog in a cloth muzzle while his ear is thoroughly cleaned out and a stitch is put in, and when you see him so obviously in pain your heart drops and your love goes out to him with such overwhelming force, it almost brings you to your knees.
You might take your dog home as he’s wearing a blue triceratops-style cloth bendy cone to protect his health and see the delight on strangers’ faces, because while the dog is more miserable than he’s ever been, he looks so ridiculous, as to perhaps underscore the ridiculousness of life.
Then, as you’re walking across 17th Street in busy traffic, your dog might suddenly squat down in the middle of the intersection, refusing to move, and then sadly look up at you as he poops that specific brand of not-feeling-well poop that breaks your heart to watch. Then as you tug him quickly to the sidewalk, you might watch as symbolically, metaphorically, prophetically the poops all get ground into nothingness in a Sartre-esque moment of profundity, as truck after truck barrels over them.
So, yeah. That happened. The horror. The humor.
My Poor Little Boo-Boo Samsung Sweetie-pie. (My dog’s name when I rescued him from Animal Care & Control, if you are a first-time reader about my Pit mix, was somewhat bizarrely “Samsung.” I joke that I named him after my flatscreen. A lot of the time I just call him Sam. But Boo-Boo is a frequent go-to term of endearment as well.)
That night, after enduring the cone like a champion, Sam looked up at me with one final plea to take it off. So when I had a firm hug around him, after I gave him his pain medication and antibiotics and slathered some ointment on the ear, I worked out a position where he was lying next to me and I could be sure he wouldn’t scratch at his healing ear as we slept.
Then we fell asleep.
At 8 this morning I woke up to the sight of Samsung over my face looking not unlike girlfriends of mine whose hair I have held as they vomited out the poison of the night before. But before I could say, “Do you want me to hold your ponytail?” it was too late.
Samsung was puking on my face.
I closed my eyes, grimaced with bitter amusement, and said, “Oh, honey, I’m sorry you feel so bad.” I grabbed a towel and wiped him off, wiped my bed off, wiped my face off, and proceeded to start what I knew was going to be a great day. (Puke on the face is usually a propitious sign of health and wealth, no?) Then we went outside to resume the Great 2013 Cone of Shame Walkabout.
I once read an article by Chuck Klosterman, who wrote that one of the only ways to get noticed in New York amidst a sea of attention-seekers and strangers with face tattoos and mohawks on fire is to do something truly different. Like carry around an ironing board on the subway.
I believe the cone of shame on a Pit Bull accompanied by a 6’2″ blonde owner is the equivalent of this. One after the other, handsome strangers engaged me in Cone of Shame Small Talk. (New View-style TV potentiality? Anyone?)
“You hang in there. Be strong, brother,” one man commented. “Gosh, what a great way to meet people,” another man said, strolling up beside me and walking along as if we had known each other all our lives. “How long does he have to have it on for?” the man continued as if we were sharing breakfast in our sunset-facing kitchen nook. “Oh, baby, what I would do with that body,” a third man said, ignoring the cone completely. (I walked a little faster away from that guy.)
Seriously, ladies. If Cone of Shame Commentary Does Not Fit? You Must Acquit. Or something. Then the queer women started getting in on the action. One woman abandoned her girlfriend and growling Pugs who angrily kept walking and said, leaning in conspiratorially, “Oh man, it’s all fun and games until the cone of shame. That’s what I always say. So, you live around here?”
It was at that point that I made Sam sit while I pulled out my compact and touched up my makeup. If I was getting this much cone of shame action, the least I could do was look as good as my dog did, right?
As I got closer to home, a handsome older man approached. “I love your dog,” he said to me as Sam glared at the guy with what can only be described as the dog stare expression of, “Seriously?”
“Thanks,” I said, rubbing behind Sam’s ears where he likes it. “I do, too. But I should probably take him home so I can keep nurturing him back to health.”
Sam looked up at me gratefully.
I suppose something about dogs is that they don’t actually want to be your wingman. And if I’m truly wedded to this icebreaker concept, perhaps when his ear is fully healed and mended in a week’s time, if I still want to use this tactic to meet guys, I will simply walk around my neighborhood wearing the cone of shame myself. Think about it: He’s just not that into you? Or he’s just not into the fact that you aren’t wearing a cone of shame? You’re welcome, ladies.
Read more by Mandy on Dogster — and get some more cone of shame fun:
Got a Doghouse Confessional to share?
We’re looking for intensely personal stories from our readers about life with their dogs. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might become a published Dogster Magazine author!