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English mastiff, three stars

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-11-00-59-amNot really a dog person but we thought we’d give it a try… 
on December 26, 2014
Color: Brindle  verified purchase 

Had this product for a day now. Seems great! Highly recommended. Came with crate, shots, ear cleaner, and food dishes. There was a bit of an odor when we unpacked it, but I’m sure that will dissipate over time. Very attractive, almost noble-looking.

boomer-noble

Edit: I just had to come back and update this review. We’ve had this product for a month now, and while it still gets daily use, and the kids really enjoy it, we suspect that there are some manufacturing defects. It was advertised as a security dog, but it also barks hysterically at things like rain, grass, clouds, Nina Totenberg, and nothing. Especially nothing. I cannot find a factory reset button anywhere.

The batteries have a very short life. It runs around at full power for just a few minutes and then appears completely depleted, and takes forever to recharge.
boomer-dogslide
This is especially frustrating as it takes up so much space, and often requires powering up right in the middle of the house.  It also sometimes seems to “crash” in the middle of operations, for instance, while eating a sweater.
boomer-sleeping
Did I miss that it is somehow solar powered? It seems to require frequent sunbaths. Also extremely noisy while recharging. Cannot find factory reset button.

Also, the smell has, if anything, intensified. At least we’ve stopped blaming my son. It is like a tire fire.

Edit #2: So much for the mailman. We had to talk the post office out of suing us, and now we have to go pick up mail every day. On the up side, the Jehovah’s Witnesses chalked a giant warning hoboglyph on our walkway, and they haven’t been back; so on balance, that’s a win.

Edit #3: The longer we have this product, the more I’m convinced there was some kind of error at the warehouse. I think we actually got parts for three different dogs, and they accidentally got put together in one box. The skull is ridiculously out of proportion to the rest of the body, but the “brain” component does not seem to be similarly large.

boomer-shaking-head

 There is also way too much skin in the face area, causing constant oral leakage. It doesn’t affect performance, but it is not aesthetically pleasing, to say the least.
Seems to have been manufactured with top quality materials, but is still somehow fragile on the inside, requiring constant emotional maintenance.

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-12-01-08-pm

Also, it steals carrots.

Also, its spacial awareness does not seem to be properly calibrated, and it is constantly trying to wedge itself into places that are physically too small for it to inhabit

boomer-in-mitten-box

including laps. We sometimes see the dining room table walking around apparently under its own power, only to discover that the dog has again gotten stuck under it.

However, it cowers before the toddler (and has done so ever since she was born)

boomer-checking-out-baby-corrie
and puts up with the most outrageous tyrannical behavior from her, even though it could swallow her in one mouthful.
corrie-patting-boomers-nose
It actually seems to thrive on being pushed around by her, so I can’t really complain. Is a willing participant in . . . just about anything.
screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-12-12-27-pm
Is also willing to share lollipops.
lollipop
And can subsist on nothing but kibble and toddler affection for days at a time.
corrie-patting-boomer

Caveat: Brain still does not seem to have increased in size commensurate with rest of unit over the years we’ve owned this product.

boomer-upside-down

Edit #4: This is a mother’s angel.
boomer-kissing-corrie
Wish I could give it ten stars.
boomer-and-lucy
Highly recommended.
boomer-nap-irene
That smell, tho.
 screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-11-05-07-am

 

 

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The Rubberbandians

Or, Why You Should Have a Bunch of Weird Kids and a Giant Dog.

I had to run to the pharmacy, and when I got  home, this is what met me in the driveway.

 

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The little one shouted, “WE ARE RUBBERBANDIANS, AND HAVE SPEARS!”

Note that they all have rubber bands on their foreheads (or, as the three-year-old calls them, “our brains.”

 

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Also note the progress of the dog. We sometimes sing the Little Mermaid song in Boomer’s voice, and it goes, “ME WANT TO BE WHERE THE PEOPLE BE.”

 

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The dog did not have a rubber band on his brain, but he totally would have gone along with it, if that’s what his girls wanted.

 

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Even if it would have left a mark. Which it did.

 

 

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Kids. Dogs. Sticks. I rest my case.

 

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A short history of awful pets

You know what’s no fun? Being a scapedog. This noble creature

boomer head shake

has simple needs. He just wants a crate with a blankie and lots of wet coffee filters and styrofoam meat trays hidden under it. He wants people to tell him what to do, and he wants to smell their wonderful, wonderful feet. He wants to go outside and then come inside and then to outside and then come in and then maybe go outside for a bit. He wants to eat snow. And he wants to protect the HELL out of the baby, which is sweet.

However, pretty much all I do is yell at him, and the more I yell at him, the more devoted he becomes, trying to win my favor.

Boomer only pawn in game of life.

Boomer only pawn in game of life.

This is why we got a boy dog. I’m not saying that all men are like this, but I will say that this is why we got a boy dog.

I know he’s a good boy. So I’m trying to make myself feel better about him by reminiscing about all the other pets we’ve had, and how much more awful they were than this supremely irritating dog. For instance . . .

The cat who was our prisoner. I’ve written about this wretched animal before.

black cat

Never in my life have I been hated so passionately as I was hated by that cat. This is the animal who would sit on the couch, wait for me to walk in, make eye contact, pee profoundly, and then casually get up and walk out, making sure to brush past my ankles in a devastatingly ironic pantomime of feline affection, just to show us that she could if she wanted to. This is the cat who, in the time it took for me to get my shoes on to go to the vet, chewed her way out of the cat carrier and disappeared. This is the cat who actually burrowed into the wall and didn’t come out for several days, presumably plotting some horrible vengeance on the family who so barbarically gave her food and shelter.

One night, I had a moment of clarity and simply opened the front door. Propelled by a white hot loathing, she sped off into the darkness whence she came, and we never saw each other again.

The frog that died of ennui after costing us millions of dollars. If you factor in the emotional cost. My son found this frog in the sandbox, and we made some kind of bogus deal that I never thought he’d be able to fulfill — keeping his room clean or some pie-in-the-sky like that. So of course he did it, and he earned a frog.

frog

Happier times

We quickly learned that, despite spending his days doing exactly nothing, a frog is a needy creature. He needs a tank that has water and gravel, sand and moss. Okay. But he also needs live crickets to eat, and, even though he is a yard frog, he can’t eat yard crickets. Nope, they have to be crickets that cost money. And those crickets have to be gut loaded with special stinky calcium powder or something, and you have to time the feeding so that the crickets’ bellies will still be full before the frog eats them.

Les_remords_de_la_patrie

not how I imagined my life

At one point in my research, I came across the phrase “economical cricket husbandry” and sobbed aloud.

Now, the crickets get dehydrated pretty easily; but they will also drown themselves if you give them water, such as the water you might find in a frog tank. So you have to buy a separate container just for the crickets, and in it, you must put special hydrating gel, which the crickets absorb through their horrible abdomens. Whatever you’re imagining, it’s more upsetting than that. Oh, and do not leave a bag of crickets on your dashboard when it’s hot out, or you will have to make a second trip to PetSmart. And all the PetSmart people will know what you have done.

Also, froggie needs sunlight, but not direct sunlight, because that will burn him, but not indirect sunlight, because then he won’t get the correct gamma rays or something, and he will develop some kind of crippling bone disease.

GodzillaBlockparty

oh, the frogmanity

Froggie must have a special light fixture to prevent him from becoming Noodle Bone Frogzilla. But don’t worry, you have a PetSmart discount card! So the special bulb will cost a mere $38.

My question is, how the hell do frogs survive in sandboxes?

Anyway, our frog did not survive. He simply was miserable and made us miserable for many, many months, and then one morning, he looked even more dead that usual, and that was the end of that.

The worst mother fish ever. I’ve kept fish off and on for decade, and I’ve learned two things: One: when you have a really nice set-up, with plants and bottom feeders and Roman ruins, and you buy a new heater and it doesn’t seem to be heating up the water? So you keep turning it up, and it’s still not heating the water? So you turn it up some more, and then some more, and it’s still not heating the water up? You might want to make sure it’s plugged in. And, you might want to make sure you turn it down again before you plug it in. Unless you intended to make bouillabaisse with a side dish of ancient Roman ruins.

Again: not recommended.

Again: not recommended.

The second thing I learned was: do not get too attached. One time we had a fish who turned out, in keeping with the general theme of the household, to be pregnant. It gave birth to approximately 93 teensy little adorable fishlings. Or, was it only about 70. Huh, looks like there’s only about 30 now. Or, wow, there can’t be more than– OH, THIS IS HORRIBLE. Quick, look up what to do when the mother fish is eating all the babies! Okay, run out and buy this expensive little mesh isolation nursery thing! Phew, now they will be safe, and shame on you, you unnatural mother! I know you’re just a fish, but–

OH, THIS IS HORRIBLE!

Yep, the mother fish was sucking her babies through the mesh and eating them anyway.

WORSE THAN THIS.

WORSE THAN THIS.

At this point, a responsible pet owner can only put a blanket over the tank and take the kids out for ice cream until they stop crying.

The three doomed parakeets. One escaped out the window when we cleaned its cage. One got a chill and keeled over suddenly. And one simply got more and more despondent until it started kind of falling apart, which is the worst thing I’ve ever seen a bird do. I wasn’t sure how to handle it, and so my husband asked grimly, “Do we have a paper bag?” His plan was to put the bird in a paper bag and run over it with the car.

horror

This is actually not a terrible idea, and I’m not sure why it makes me want to laugh hysterically; but it was about 17 years ago, and I’m still giggling. (We ended up bringing it to the humane society, who charged us $15 to gas the poor s.o.b. And they didn’t even give us the cage back!)

The tadpole of futility. We have this wonderful town pond, which has one section full of tadpoles and salamanders. The kids love seeing how many they can catch.

Eeek!

Eeek!

One day, feeling expansive after basking in the sun for a few hours, I made a tactical error, and allowed them to bring a tadpole home. We installed it in a pickle jar and it became the centerpiece on the dining room table.

OH BOY!

Mmm, appetizin’.

We named it “Bingo” and prepared to watch the miracle of life unfold before our eyes.

Mmm, appetizin'.

OH BOY!

Instead, it basically acted like a dead pickle with a mouth. It ate and ate and ate and ate, and got more and more bloated. And that’s it. One day, the kids started spazzing out, shrieking that the tadpole had pooped. It turned out to have sprouted a leg. Just one leg. And that’s it.

Was willst du von mein leben?

Was willst du von mein leben?

More weeks went by, and it never grew any more legs. It just continued to eat limp lettuce until I couldn’t stand looking at it anymore, and dumped it into the stream. Vaya con dios, pickle.

Adios.

Adios.

The phantom hamster. Our most current terrible pet. We had some gerbils, and they were pretty good, but then one died. So, because I don’t argue about these things, we got a dwarf hamster, and he was pretty good.

IN FACT SO TYOOOOOT!

IN FACT SO TYOOOOOT!

Until he got out. How he did this, I do not know. He certainly doesn’t appear strong or intelligent or even competent, but somehow he got out. This produced extreme sadness in the boy community of the household for a week or so, until — and again, I would like to note that boys are different from girls — the joyous news was spread that the hamster appears to be alive and well, only he is living inside the walls! Hooray, apparently!

So now we have what may be, according to your point of view, the perfect pet: he requires no food, at least not any intended for him; he requires no care; he requires no changes of bedding, for reasons that I care not to think about. But we know that he’s there. And he is ours.

 And that brings us up to the dog. Well, he does love the baby. Boy, does he love the baby. And I know for a fact that he would not fit inside a paper bag.

It’ll have to be enough.

 

***

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You’re not BORED, are you?

I’ve seen this picture here and there online, and I like it. I like it a lot.

 

Of course, this would only work with kids who can read. Or, let’s face it, this would only work with kids who are not actively campaigning to drive you out of your gourd.  But it should work. It’s a good idea in theory, and some days, that is the best you can get.

However, it needs expanding. For instance, here is a version for my two-year-old (who, admittedly, has never been bored in her life):

Here is one for the dog:

And here is one for my husband:

 

 

Well, that should keep ‘em busy.

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Oh, New Hampshire.

We got our dog, Boomer, when he was one year old.  It wasn’t a name we would have chosen, but it suits him pretty well; and we didn’t want to confuse him, so we kept the name, and we’ve been calling him Boomer since Christmas.

Today I dug up his vet records so I could get his license.  Turns out . . .

I guess I’ll go git it engraved on his colla.