oedipus rex strikes again

Aside from Pride & Prejudice (where Ms. Keira giggled entirely too much), I’ve had a bad run at movies lately. The Weather Man, Shop Girl, The Ice Harvest… they were all sub-par.  I broke the streak with Walk The Line, which mostly made me thirsty for Jack & Ginger.  After an evening with Joaquin Phoenix, I came home to my own look-alike.  Linus bit The Suitor in the face, leaving a vertical scab above his lip.  “I look tough now,” he said.  I was too shocked and scared to cry.

It’s a horrible feeling knowing something you love so much can hurt someone you love.  “It was my own fault,” he said.  “I put my face in his face.”  Still another dog wouldn’t react that way.  I felt like I was in the middle of a family argument.  This isn’t the first time he has struck.  Linus has only chewed on the flesh of my loved ones, and not out of jealousy.  He bit my sister in the nose, Erin in the lip, a MID in the cheek, and now The Suitor in the kisser.  Linus loved all of them.  And The Suitor is particularly Alpha, well, with both of us, so it was really a surprise.  I don’t know what to do.

Today I’m going to see Rent with the girls.  We’ll clutch arms and be good at being girls.  Then we’ll probably eat sushi, even though you don’t go and eat sushi on a Sunday night.  As a Jew, I really should be eating Chinese food, but I’ve stopped doing that because of all the salt and ew I feel after I eat a delicious crackling scallion pancake.

This weekend, I hit First Friday at the Guggenheim.  I escaped my friends for a while and was able to enjoy the exhibit instead of the people.  I wasn’t feeling particularly social.  I was in my own head and wanted to be delighted by the art, find a story.  I did.

There was a painting in one of the wings that at first made me think of Madeline.  A small child in a blue coat stood alone between two buildings.  A red balloon had escaped and was hovering up, between the width of two buildings.  Oddly, she wasn’t looking up and watching it float away.  After spending more time with it, I realized the people in the windows were committing suicide.  Dear God!  I found my friends and made them look at it.  “What a pretty painting.”
“Look closer.”
“Oh my…”

Then they left, and I stayed to see the rest of the exhibit.  I’m glad I did.  Sometimes I need the museum, but it’s still something I enjoy doing alone.  But today is for friends, for Rent, and Sunday night cocktails by a fireplace, somewhere in this cold city.

AFTER SEEING RENT, it made me realize, all the more, how little convention matters.  How playing by the rules, we let ourselves create, by living and painting in the lines, we’re not really living.   I lived that hospital corner life once.  The one with the cableknits and pearls where I asked nicely and baked.  Life’s too short to short myself love.  To care about rules.  To not live the life I was put here to live because I’m afraid of what someone might think.  We hit the grave too soon, and while we’re here, we speak of miss and regret.  I complain too often.  I’m happy for my life, my family, and health, for the privileges I’ve been extended, for the opportunity to see bad movies, too.  I’m thankful for you, even when I’m busy complaining about my lobby or lack of heat.  Even when I don’t say it.  I am.  Now, I’m going to sit by a fire with my girls for our Sunday night of four.



  1. Male animals are wired to be more aggressive; some more so than others, of course. I'm not sure that training will do any good. The aggression makes them somewhat unpredictable and not always cured by training.

    On the other hand, you once described him as "unruly". Perhaps he does just need training.

  2. Just saw Ice Harvest. Eh. Saw Jarhead (eh) and Walk The Line last week….LOVED it. Next on my list is Pride and Prejudice. I saw the Rent on stage, not interested in seeing the movie. Love the song "Seasons Of Love" but that's about it.

    And as far as your dog….IW is right. You should have gotten rid of him a long time ago. Biting is SO not cool. Good thing it wasn't worse…Suitor could have been really hurt. Glad he wasn't.

  3. If you don't know what to do about a dog that has a record of having bitten four people, I do. It's called euthanasia. Put that dog down. There is no reason to have an animal that is a threat to anyone, unless that dog is performing a deliberate protective function. That done, if you still want canine companionship, as I do, get a purebred dog of a breed that is known for its reliability, within its training and then train it, or have it trained.

  4. I just discovered Jack & Ginger this weekend by accident. I ran out of Coke, so I decided "Hey, what the heck? I love Ginger Ale." It was phenomenal.

    I felt the same about The Weather Man, and I have been holding out on P&P for the fear that Keira will vomit all over Elizabeth Bennett's beautiful picture in my mind.

    Hope The Suitor's scar heals quickly. And Linus gets better about sharing.

  5. i can't figure out if your dog is a social miscreant or if your friends and family are feeling some weird need to makeout with your dog. why are their faces in such close proximity to his teeth?

  6. I say keep the dog and get rid of everything and everyone else. Dogs know it all

  7. That painting sounds really moving. My husband and I are planning on hitting the Guggenheim next time we visit the city. We try to visit a different museum each trip, and last time it was the MoMA.

    Have a good Sunday night; sounds like you have it planned down to a T.

  8. dude… get your dog a trainer. frequent biting is not cool. and also a fun way to eventually get yourself sued.

  9. If each of these instances were reported to animal control, Linus would be history by now. You need to do something. Most trainers aren't capable of handling aggression. It would probably be good to read up on techniques that people can do so Linus knows who's Alpha. I also have a dog that's a face biter, it's some stressful shit. We went to the dog whisperer, but unless you have $200/hr and time to sit on the 2 year waiting list, maybe you should check out his books and show. Good luck!

  10. I know you love Linus, but 4 bites? Me thinks it might be time to find him a new home. Suitor is so polite he wouldn't tell you if it really scared him. Good luck…

  11. I'm curious though – what would your reaction be if your dog were to suddenly sink his chops into you?

  12. four times he's bit people and drawn blood?! i think Linus needs some training and if that doesn't work, I'd have to agree with Gene up there.

  13. What's wrong with sushi on a Sunday night? And you'll have to forgive a Catholic on not understanding the Jewish/chinese food reference…

  14. Dogs are smart. They don't forget. Did something happen to Linus prior to you owning him? P.S., when is your cookie show on?

  15. my mother put her dog, alek, to sleep a few months after i was born. he growled and snarled at me a few times but luckily wasn't too successful in anything worse than that. still, she was nervous, so she went ahead and put him down. she had tried to find a home for him first but couldn't.

    i don't know, perhaps just tell everyone not to go near him at ALL, don't leave him alone with anyone and, please, do not have a baby JUST yet…

  16. How anyone possibly suggest you get rid of Linus when we all know that he's the light of your life? Tell your friends and family to keep their faces out of his and everything will be fine.

  17. Great picture of Linus, no matter how ferocious he might be ;) It might still be jealousy you know. My boyfriend's cat bit me all the time (I took her spot in his bed…)

  18. One day, he is going to bite the wrong person, and the cops will get called, and he will have to be put to sleep. So, you might want to do something about it now before it's too late.

  19. I just happened upon your blog tonight. It's great! I had a girls night and went to see Pride and Prejudice last week. I agree, Keira was far too giggly and her wig was TERRIBLE.

  20. I'm so saddened to see that so many people really think putting Linus "down" or giving him away is the right answer. I'm certain you're not remotely considering either one, and god bless you for it.

    To those who suggest putting him down or giving him away: Linus' behavior, while not acceptable or something that most other dogs would do, is the result of the fact that he is an animal, behaving according to his instincts. When people bring animals into their homes, they have to take them for better or worse. Pets are not programmable playthings that can be tossed out or given away when they don't "work" the way we want them to. They're living creatures, which through no fault of their own have been bred to be dependent upon us to take care of them – aggressive instincts, smelly odors, poopy messes and all. I'm not saying that it's OK for a vicious dog to break its leash and attack the boy across the street because "that's just what dogs do," but in this case Linus is at home, and the visitor is on his turf, in his face. I'm hardly surprised by his response. He certainly doesn't deserve to be KILLED for it.

    To Stephanie: You're his mama, it's your job to protect both him and your visitors. Is Linus biting strangers on the street? Is he attacking visitors to your home as they sit passively on the sofa? I'm assuming from what you've said that the Suitor and the others were doing something that you are fully aware would provoke the bite (e.g., sticking their face in his face). If so, it sounds like your visitors need the training and not your dog. It's your responsibility to either make everyone who comes over aware that they should, under no circumstances, let their face come within biting range of your dog's mouth. Either that or make sure your dog's mouth is kept away from visitors (e.g., closed in the bathroom or leashed to the bed post when people are around). You could try behavioral training – it does sound like Linus' reaction might come from some past fearful situation. Working with him to reinforce good behavior when someone is near his face like that might help. This is a job for a professional, of course. Do not try this at home.

    Good luck. If you're like me, your pet is like your child. Getting rid of it is simply not an option.

  21. the face biting makes me queasy
    thanks for the film tips on what to avoid
    musuem day/girls day–i miss that
    no heat???what's that about? did you call 311?

  22. Gene and Co. can suck it-It is a situational hazard of owning a terrier(owned 2-airedales) and a small dog, period.Don't take this the wrong way, but it sounds to me like you let your dog get away with murder(and I am not judging because I do to!) That being said, Stephanie, you need to find a descent school and go with your Linus-you two needs some edjamacation! I have one medium sized dog, and one LARGE dog, and I used to fight that with my large dog a lot. Discipline techniques, and me showing him that I am the alpha dog solved that. He still tries to lick guests to death, but I encourage a little of that(or so they say….).

  23. Let's be realistic here. Correct me if I'm wrong Stephanie, but I don't think you'd really consider getting rid of Linus. I do agree, however, with everyone who suggested that you get him a trainer.

    As for Pride and Prejudice – I'll stick to my DVD featuring Colin Firth. SO good.

  24. JRT Bites again: I have a Jack Russell Terrier, and he's bitten, even me, and I still keep him, I understand the pain, guilt and sick stomach. The solution (for me) is that he isn't allowed around children and when we have people in our home we ask them to just ignore him or we crate the dog.

    When we have children, it's going to be a tearful goodbye. The vet told me our dog wouldn't bond with another family.

  25. Sounds like the dog bites when people get in his face. Does he warn of impending teeth? Does he give a growl or snarl? Sometimes it's the people who miss the dog's signs to back off. But then again sometimes the dog is just rude. Like my boyfriend's brother's dog. That demon beast nearly took off my hand at Thanksgiving. All because I tried to pet it in the kitchen around food it was persistently begging for. Linus probably just hates visitors getting in his face. Good luck.

  26. how can you not have been so impressed with SHOPGIRL?
    I don't get that the wonderful writer of this great blog, and future Regan book!— didn't care for that sublime movie. Oh such shame.
    Hope your weekend with friends was great.

  27. Interesting that your entry touched on worrying about what others think and "playing by the rules", my Mom just "found" and read my entire blog this weekend. Can't even express how I feel; scared, relieved, nervous, anxious, disappointed and exposed. She is the last person in the world who I would have wanted to show my blog writing to, I guess I took that risk and now it may redefine our relationship. For some reason–your balls out, your candor, your wit–I had to tell you first. One other thing: I once babysat for a kid who loved his hamster so much that he squeezed it to death. Perhaps this is the way Linus feel about The Suitor? Haven't we all been known to hurt the ones we love the most? Thanks for your post, Stephanie, brightens my day!

  28. Hey there, I have a 95 lb. basset hound – he's the biggest basset anyone's ever seen – and he had quite an attitude problem when he came to the family. His was not a biting disorder, but an eating disorder – snoofling out every bit of food, every sapid ort, in the entire house and consuming it. (Can you see why he's 95 lbs?) Finally, he cleaned out all of the left-over Halloween, Valentine's, Christmas and random candy stashes, and we hired a personal trainer for him (pricey – but worth it). I tell you, except for excessive ropes of drool which are classic basset, it's worked like a charm.

  29. I've been to the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and let's just say, you can always count on interesting/somewhat questionable exhibits there.

    And it's sad about linus, biting the suitor, but at least Phil took it well.

  30. Having posted under "sold out", "*", "S", as well as other names, please resubmit your comment with a valid email under one name.

  31. Silly question I know but that painting…….it has to have a story or meaning behind it. Does anyone happen to know the name of the painting and the artist. I am totally curious now.

  32. As far as the sushi goes, most seafood companies don't deliver on Saturday or Sunday, so the fish is most likely from Friday morning…old fish, bad taste, get it?? As far as Linus biting, I have a terrier, and there's nothing a quick smack on the ass won't cure, as far as behavior goes. There's no need for everyone to say get rid of him, but he certainly could use some alpha behavior from his owner..otherwise the time may come when he is taken from you.

  33. I also want to know more about the painting now! I even went onto the museum site but didn't know what to type in to search for it — "suicide" ???
    Come Stephanie, find out and post it

  34. Thank you for reminding me of how lucky I am. I have a tendency to whine (I know, I know. Not an attractive habit…) but it is a wonderful thing to stop and appreciate all the good things we have.

    Even with the quagmires of life, I have so much to be thankful for–friends, family, love, health, 2 obnoxious Great Danes, great blogs to read & inspire, etc. etc.


  35. I, too, googled the heck out of the picture – any way I could think of it, and spent a delightful afternoon at the Guggenheim museum (all the way from Utah!) – and then I did the next best thing and e-mailed them directly for the info. If I get it, I'll let y'all know – Stephanie need not go out in the cold. Stay warm.

  36. I was pretty horrified to see people suggesting for you to put Linus to sleep, this is why we have animal rights activists, because so many people treat their pets like objects.

    On a completely different note, I watched Saved! over the weekend, and if you haven't seen it already, I suggest that you do so. It's hysterical

  37. Stephanie, Did I see your face flash by for an instant in a Food Network commercial last night? It was promoting a night of shows about holiday cookies, to air on Thursday night I believe. Is your show scheduled to air then?

  38. Wow. I've been reading for awhile now and never felt the need to comment. I cannot believe all of these people who think you should ditch (or worse, put down) Linus. Is that what they do with their bratty kids who bite? Some people just don't get it.

  39. This is what comes when I don't have my camera at the quick. I would have photographed the balloon painting. It was by a Russian artist, I think, and it was located in one of the wings; it was not part of circle. That museum, while climbing it, makes me feel like I'm walking on the inside of one long curly pencil shaving.

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