disasters, dogs, veterinary care

The waiting is the hardest part…

Today’s featured photo was taken at our neighborhood Rewe, which appears to be very gay friendly… The Rewe could use an Apoteke.

A week from now, barring any disasters, Bill will be home from his latest TDY. For some reason, this one has been harder for me than the previous ones have been. I think it’s a combination of the many months we’ve been locked down, bored, and the many weeks he’s had to travel on business. This time, he’s half vaccinated. At the end of the month, he’ll get his second injection. I’ll get mine on June 9th. Then, maybe we can start doing some normal stuff again. As Tom Petty used to sing, “the waiting is the hardest part”…

One of many great singers from my youth who have died since I’ve lived in Germany. I always seem to be in Europe when icons die. I was even in Europe when Princess Diana was killed, back in 1997. It seems to be my destiny to spend time here.

I had a bit of unexpected drama last night. On Friday, we got some new toys for the dogs. Arran had recently destroyed a little blue gorilla that he loved. It was a Kong toy, so it had lasted awhile, though not as long as some of the others we’ve had. I try to cycle the really damaged toys out, even if they are much beloved. I don’t want the boys chewing on toys that are raggedy because they can end up swallowing things they shouldn’t. That seems to be especially true in Noyzi’s case. A few months ago, he swallowed part of an old toy that had been three pieces. Arran had long ago shredded the other parts of the monkey– the toy part had come from– but there was still a leg with squeakers in it. Arran would play with it.

At the time that happened, Bill was at home. He took Noyzi to our vet; they gave him a shot to make him vomit; and he puked up the part of the toy he’d swallowed. It was an old toy, though, so I have been careful to get rid of the ones that get too torn up. Friday, I gave the boys four brand new Kong toys. Kong toys are known for being very tough. But the raccoon toy I got the other day was not as sturdy as the other rope toys I’ve been giving them.

Last night, I came downstairs at about 6:00pm to find that Noyzi had “skinned” the toy raccoon, leaving the head and tail, and the rope innards. I was glad he hadn’t destroyed the head, since that was where the squeaker was. But he had apparently swallowed the “fur”. Fortunately, this particular toy, by design, didn’t have a lot of polyester batting in it.

Immediately, I started thinking I’d need to get him to the emergency vet– Tierklinik Hofheim, specifically, since our vet wasn’t open. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get him into Bill’s Volvo. He’s too big and cumbersome for me to get him into the car by myself. I don’t think he’s too heavy… he’s about 63 pounds, and I can lift that. But he’s long and tall and not very cooperative. After a few minutes of trying to wrestle with him, I gave up.

Then I went looking for hydrogen peroxide, which can be used as an emetic in dogs. I thought we had some on hand, but it turned out we didn’t have any. And Germany, unlike the United States, doesn’t dispense things like hydrogen peroxide at the grocery store. You have to get it at the Apotheke. It also costs a lot more there than it does at US stores. So I went looking to see if any nearby drug stores were open. The one at the nearby Globus was open, but when I tried to get there, I got turned around and wound up in a strange neighborhood. I’m not used to driving Bill’s car… I would have driven mine, but it’s in the garage, and the Volvo was in the driveway. Then, when I got back, I couldn’t get the car parked in the driveway again. I know I should have been able. The Volvo has cameras and park assist, and of course, GPS… I can’t get used to using those things. I don’t trust them.

So I worried all night, although Noyzi was pretty much normal. I came down in the middle of the night to check on him, and he greeted me sweetly each time. I obsessively read a bunch of articles on the signs of a blockage, and finally got ahold of Bill, who said if I needed help with Noyzi, someone from the office could come over. This morning, I found Noyzi lying on his back with his legs in the air. When he saw me, he rolled onto his side and wagged his tail. I kept hoping he’d poop… because again, “the waiting is the hardest part.” A good poop is a good start on the way to recovery from something like this.

I just took the boys for a short walk. It was a short walk because it’s raining. Just afterwards, I let Noyzi in the backyard. For some reason, he doesn’t like to go potty when he’s taking a walk. Arran is just the opposite. Anyway, after a few minutes, he came out, took a whiz, then took a fairly normal looking poop with bits of toy in it. I suspect there might be more bits in his next constitutional, but at this point, I’m not too worried about him needing emergency vet care. He seems to feel better, too, even though he wasn’t that distressed in the first place.

I guess I’ve learned a few things from this experience. The first thing is that we need to train Noyzi to get in the car by himself. If it had been Arran (or the late Zane), it wouldn’t have been a problem getting the dog loaded. Both Zane and Arran fit in the Mini, too. But Noyzi needs the Volvo and has to ride in the cargo area. He needs to learn to get in by himself, because I’m not getting any younger or stronger.

Next– I need to buy some hydrogen peroxide to keep around for these kinds of emergencies. Noyzi has proven that he likes to eat toys. All of the new ones are out of reach, for now.

Next– I need to stop being such a luddite. I have yet to embrace GPS technology because I find the voice prompts distracting and annoying. But the GPS could have gotten me to Globus last night. And the park assist could have gotten the Volvo into the driveway. I have been able to park in the driveway before, by the way, but I was not in the right frame of mind for it last night.

I need to drive more, too… I just don’t enjoy driving if I have nowhere specific to be. Hopefully, with the availability of the vaccines, that won’t be so much of a problem for too much longer.

I was feeling pretty frustrated, though. I’ve been in Germany for years and I know how most things work here. But I’m still getting to know this area where we live, mainly due to the COVID-19 nightmare. I don’t know a lot of people up here, so being here alone is pretty stressful. I have fewer people to call in case of emergency. And I’m really tired of Bill’s constant business trips. The good news is, he thinks they’ll be done after this one… at least for the time being. I hope he’s right.

He’s perfectly happy. This was what he looked like last night, as I was fretting.

Anyway, I think Noyzi is going to be just fine. I guess I need to watch him more closely when there are toys around. At least until he learns that toys are for playing with, not eating. Sometimes, though, I do miss how things are in the United States… not that I’m hankering to move yet. I just want Bill to come home and fix me a martini and tell me it’s all gonna be okay. Just a few more days to go.

Edited to add: Two more dumps littered with toy debris have appeared… and they were both perfect. After each one, Noyzi seemed even happier and more energetic.

disasters, dog rescue, dogs, Germany, Health, veterinary care

Noyzi’s big emergency…

Yesterday, I was expecting a package from Amazon– a new bin system for our dog food. For the past few months, we’ve been giving Arran the same higher calorie food we’d been giving Noyzi. It’s resulted in some unnecessary and alarming weight gain, so I decided to put Arran back on his senior dog food while I continue to give Noyzi something with more oomph. I bought a two tiered bin that allows me to separate their food while taking up little space under the counter.

I heard Noyzi bark, so I thought maybe the delivery had arrived. I went down to check and found Noyzi standing by a pile of dog toys. Among the toys were two stuffed monkey legs. They were originally part of one of Arran’s favorite and longest lasting fluffy toys, a monkey that had long legs that threaded through holes on either side. The monkey’s torso was long ago obliterated by our resident hunting dog, Arran. But the legs had survived, and they had working squeakers.

From the day Noyzi first arrived at our home last October, he’s been a friend to the toys. Instead of attacking and chewing them up, like Arran does, Noyzi tends to treat them like his pals. He stacks them in his bed and uses them as pillows. So I was a little surprised when I came into the living room and noticed that one of the monkey legs had been amputated at one end. I couldn’t find the stuffed fabric paw or its squeaker.

I emailed Bill to let him know. Bill called the vet and they advised him to bring him in to be seen. Even if I wanted to take Noyzi to the vet, it would not be possible. I drive a Mini Cooper and Noyzi will not fit in it. It’s illegal for dogs to ride up front, and I doubt I could convince him to get in the car, anyway. As it is now, he has to ride in the back of our Volvo SUV because he won’t get in the backseat, which he probably could fit in if he was more cooperative.

Just as Bill was about to leave work, he got a frantic work related phone call from the States that he had to take care of. He ended up getting home about an hour later. We wrangled Noyzi into the SUV and Bill took him to the vet’s office. Noyzi was given an emetic, which made him throw up. Sure enough, we found the offending piece of the monkey toy, although no squeaker was found. It’s possible that Noyzi swallowed it, but it’s equally possible that Arran ripped it out ages ago and I tossed it. If it did end up in his intestines, we may find it in his poop in a day or two. If there are other problems, he’s sure to let us know. We’re lucky enough to have great vets in the next village, as well as the excellent Tierklink Hofheim nearby.

Yuck. That’s the part of the toy he swallowed.

We’re keeping an eye on Noyzi, but so far, he’s back to his old self. In fact, if I hadn’t noticed the amputated leg, I would never have known what he did. He was acting totally normal yesterday until he was forced to puke and given an antidote, which wiped him out for a couple of hours. By dinner time, he was right as rain… and then Arran threw up. But I think in Arran’s case, it was a case of too much salmon. He had a little of our dinner last night. He’s fine today, too, but we have to get him slimmer. I never thought I’d say that about Arran, who has always been athletic and sleek. But he’s twelve now, so he needs to watch his figure.

By the way… anyone want to guess how much this emergency cost us? It was a mere 89 euros. The vet was able to squeeze us in during regular office hours. Several of my friends gave me tips on how to make my dog vomit, but I prefer to let the vets handle that, especially when it’s not that expensive. God bless German healthcare costs. America could take a lesson or two.

disasters, dogs

The aftermath of tragedy…

This content also appears on my original blog.

Yesterday was so surreal. I woke up feeling hopeful that someone would find “Jonny” and we could welcome him into our home. My first thoughts, when I saw him run away, were of overwhelming dread, but so many people were sharing his picture and I read many hopeful stories of dogs who were reunited with their people. Of course, most of those stories involved dogs who were already bonded. Jonny didn’t know us. He never got the chance to even meet us.

Just after I published yesterday’s post, Bill called up to me and said, “It’s over. They found him on the Autobahn.”

Because he had a microchip, the police were able to call the rescue organization who had sent him to us, and the adoption coordinator was the one to let us know he died. I also got a Facebook message from a woman who is in a club that tracks dead animals (there seems to be a club for everything in Germany). She had a chip reader and reported Jonny’s death to Tasso. She also informed me of Jonny’s death, after we were given the news by the rescue. She said we should call the police to give them our side of the story, since a car was damaged from hitting the dog.

A representative from the rescue asked us if we have liability insurance, although she made it clear that we weren’t going to be blamed for this. We do have insurance— plain liability insurance and pet liability insurance– but we never had the chance to add Jonny to the pet policy. Bill signed the contract less than twelve hours before the dog got to Wiesbaden, and the whole incident happened before we would have been able to call the insurance company to update the policy. So far, the rescue says they will handle the claims resulting from the accident. I imagine they will also go after the pet taxi driver and her company for restitution, since the dog wasn’t yet in our care when he escaped.

All day yesterday, I got private messages from German strangers and a few friends. The vast majority of people were kind and understanding, although there were a few people who blamed us. I even got a message from the lady who did our homecheck, asking for an explanation, which I was happy to give her. When there were doubts about our ability to care for our dogs, I sent pictures of Bill with Arran, a picture of a plaque I had made of our five dogs, and even the memorial videos I made for Zane and MacGregor. Most people, when they see Zane’s video, tear up. It consists of four minutes of photos taken of him in almost ten years of life with us. It’s obvious how much he was loved. I would have liked to have given the same kind of life to Jonny, if we’d only managed to get him through the door.

Think I don’t take care of my dogs? Think again.

I haven’t been totally grief stricken. I didn’t know Jonny. I guess I could describe what happened as akin to watching someone jump off a building. He was still a stranger to us when we saw him take his devastating last run. I knew in my gut that he would inevitably end up getting killed if we couldn’t catch him. But I was powerless to do much more than spread the word and wait. Even if we’d searched for him, we didn’t have a connection to where he might be. We simply didn’t know him other than what we saw in pictures and read in the description from the rescue.

We discovered that Jonny’s foster mom had tried to give the driver his harness and collar. For some reason, the driver said she had all she needed and she did not take the harness and collar Jonny had been using. But then she said the harness she had was too small and she didn’t have an appropriate collar. I don’t understand why she wouldn’t have just taken the equipment he had been using, since it obviously fit him. But then we also remembered that she said she’d been driving since 10:00am on Thursday morning and she was meeting us at 7:00am on Friday. I’m sure if what she says is true, she was exhausted and her judgment was adversely affected. She seemed stunned when Jonny took off. Bill said she didn’t seem to have a clue what to do.

The rescue did tell us that they’d let us adopt again at a later date… if we still want to get another dog. I look at Arran and see how good he is now. Maybe it would be better not to get another dog for the time being. But then, there are so many that need good homes, and I know we can provide that. As long as we manage to get the dog into the house.

Yesterday, I told Bill that I pictured our four departed dogs– C.C., Flea, MacGregor, and Zane– all meeting Jonny at the Rainbow Bridge. I can just visualize Flea, our most alpha and outspoken dog, saying, “WTF, man? You really blew it. They would have given you a wonderful home and you would have had a beautiful life.” And they’d all shake their heads at Jonny as they trotted off to go play in the green, rainbow filled pastures and crystalline streams.

We’re tired and heartsick. Arran has an upset stomach this morning and Bill and I haven’t really eaten much. At least, so far, we don’t feel sick from COVID-19, although we don’t have the results of Bill’s test yet, so we’re still quarantined. This has just been a horrible weekend all the way around, and the news just keeps getting worse as people worry about how to survive during this pandemic.

disasters, dogs

Empty Garden

I have posted this same content on my regular blog, but am duplicating it here, because I have a different audience on this blog.

In the early 80s, Elton John had a hit song called “Empty Garden (Hey, Hey Johnny). It was a song written in honor of John Lennon, Elton’s friend and fellow rock star, who was murdered by a deranged fan in New York City in December 1980. I’ve always appreciated that song for its beautiful melody and poignant lyrics. They spring to mind this morning as I consider the events of the past 36 hours or so…

I had been pining for another dog since we lost Zane in August of last year. Many people who know Bill and me, know that our dogs are our lives. We’ve successfully adopted five beagles/mixes so far and all of them have been special to us. We are usually quick to adopt again after we lose a dog. We figure it’s the right thing to do, since there are so many animals that need good homes. But this time, we put off trying to adopt because of all the horror stories we’d heard about Germans not wanting to adopt to Americans. We had some travel planned, and wanted to wait until we’d both be home to break in a new dog. Also, we worried about how Arran would handle being a “big brother”. He’s a wonderful, sweet, devoted companion, but he gets jealous.

Nevertheless, last month, the time seemed right to take on our sixth adoptee, even not taking into consideration that, because of the coronavirus, we’d be housebound anyway. I also have a very persistent local friend who’s been sending me pictures of prospective rescues for months.

I was especially attracted to “Jonny”, a beagle mix from Sardinia who had once belonged to a hunter. We sent in an application for him late last month, just before he was moved from Sardinia to Hamburg, arriving February 29th. But we had to have a home visit and interview before we could get him, and Bill had to go to the USA on business until March 10th. We couldn’t have our home visit until last Sunday. It went very well, though, and the lady who interviewed us had no qualms about approving us. She made a special point of telling us about the harness and collar combination so important for rescue dogs who are scared and unfamiliar with their new homes.

Wednesday night, we were formally approved to adopt Jonny. Originally, our plan was to drive to Hamburg on Saturday and pick him up. Because of the coronavirus, traveling has become more complicated. We realized we might not be able to find a hotel because so many are not accepting guests due to the “plague”. So we figured we’d bite the bullet and drive to Hamburg early in the morning and bring him back home that evening.

At any other time, our plan would have gone off without a hitch. But coronavirus has really made it difficult to arrange travel. Then, on Thursday, a couple of workers in Bill’s office came up positive for COVID-19. Consequently, everyone in our local military community has been asked to stay in town and avoid any unnecessary travel. Bill called the rescue Thursday night to see if we could arrange alternate plans for picking up Jonny. He asked if we could pay the adoption fee and provide financial support for Jonny and have the foster mom hang onto him until we could travel to Hamburg to get him. The coordinator told Bill that we must arrange to take him immediately or lose out, because travel was being shut down in the Hamburg area and there were local people who had asked about him.

It was looking doubtful that we’d be able to adopt the dog and Bill was about to say we’d just wait until a more convenient time, but then the coordinator suggested that we pay for a pet taxi to Wiesbaden. The dog would arrive at our home between 6:00am and 7:00am Friday morning. We’d just pay 160 euros for the transportation. But we also had to sign the contract and pay another 380 euros for the adoption fee. We don’t have a printer or a scanner anymore, because every time we’ve had one, its use has been short lived. I used printers all the time when I was in graduate school, but now that I’m out of school, they end up being wasted space in short order. So that was another problem that made the adoption look like it couldn’t happen.

Fortunately, our landlord likes dogs and is very open to letting us get a new one. Bill asked him if he’d mind printing the contract, letting Bill sign it, scanning it, and sending it back to the rescue. The landlord obliged; the contract was signed; the fees were paid, and we spent all Friday morning eagerly awaiting Jonny’s arrival.

Sure enough, a “pet taxi” arrived at our home yesterday at 7:00am. The driver had called us an hour earlier. She’d been bright and cheery and she spoke excellent English. We spent the last hour excited about meeting our new family member. When we spotted her pulling in next to our driveway, Bill went out to greet her. He’d even bought a couple of croissants for her because he knew she’d been driving all night.

Bill stood at the back of the pet taxi as the transporter emerged to get Jonny out of the back. She took him from his crate and set him down on the ground. For some reason, he was not wearing a harness (she said it was too small for him), and the collar he was wearing was too big for him. The transporter said it was her collar, and claimed she was not given a harness or a collar by Jonny’s foster mom; consequently, it didn’t fit him properly. When Jonny’s paws touched the ground, he suddenly backpedaled and slipped out of the collar, bolting from our neighborhood. Neither of us so much as had a chance to pet Jonny before he was gone. I only got the slightest glimpse of him.

Bill and the transporter set off on foot to try to catch him, but he was too far gone. A few drivers pointed in the direction of Wallau, which is a village not far from us. Bill and the transporter got in her taxi and went looking for him, but it was a futile effort. They came back without the dog. Bill was in tears. But he still paid the transporter and gave her the croissants.

The German search organization, Tasso, made us a flyer.

I spent all day joining Facebook groups and posting pictures of Jonny. We called the police station, where someone had reported seeing the dog in Wallau. I left messages at the fire stations in two villages, and we called our vet. I posted in Toytown Germany, and got a lot of suggestions for groups to post in. One lady even called me and offered suggestions, even offering to call around on our behalf, since our German isn’t so good.

Meanwhile, while this was going on, Bill was having to work from home. He spent his lunch hour searching for Jonny, with no luck. Then he was summoned to his workplace because the commander had ordered that everyone in his office get tested for COVID-19. Bill went in to get swabbed and came home with a face mask. He has been ordered to quarantine until the test results come back, so he’s not allowed to leave the house. That means I probably shouldn’t leave the house, either.

We did have a couple of stupid and thoughtless comments from people. Two people assumed we’d been scammed. They thought we’d paid for a non-existent dog, which is an unfortunate crime in Europe. Fortunately, I was able to set them straight very quickly. I got a few comments from people chastising us for not having the dog in a harness or a crate. We’d stupidly assumed a professional pet driver would know what she was doing and we hadn’t been involved in outfitting Jonny for the trip. However, we definitely learned a lesson about securing new dogs, thanks to Jonny’s escape. I did get one comment from someone who said maybe Jonny wasn’t meant to be our dog. That thought has crossed my mind, although it surprises me that someone would say that to me. It makes me feel like shit and isn’t helpful.

Many people suggested using tracking dogs to find him, but as he’s never been in our house and we’ve never so much as petted him, that didn’t seem to be the best solution. Jonny’s foster mom came all the way to Wiesbaden with her daughter and their dog. Jonny loves kids and they do have things with his scent on it. I was gratified that they’d made that effort, and suddenly began to think that the foster mom wasn’t the one who hadn’t properly secured Jonny for his new home. We did tell the rescue what happened with the transporter and her services with them have now been terminated. She also paid Bill back for the transport fee. Oddly enough, I don’t feel that angry with her. I know she didn’t mean any harm; she was simply careless. Hopefully, she will learn a valuable lesson.

All day, I got private messages from Germans all around the communities. Most of the advice was genuinely helpful under normal circumstances; but again, he’s only technically our dog at this point. We haven’t bonded with him yet, because we’ve never touched him or looked him in the eyes. He doesn’t yet associate us with home or family. I still have hope we’ll someday have that connection, although the longer he’s gone, the more I worry that he’s gone forever.

Nevertheless, the pictures and posts were shared repeatedly in many groups. Last night, several people said they’d heard barking in a forest near a riding school about four kilometers from us. It was dark outside, though, so no one was ever able to find the source of the barking. Hopefully, it’s Jonny, and we’ll be able to recover him sometime soon. He’s overweight and he’s a beagle, so he’ll no doubt be ready to eat and sleep in a comfortable bed soon.

I’m trying to stay optimistic. I do have a feeling that we’ll get him back. But I’m also a pessimist by nature, so I can’t fully let myself go there yet. This is an absolutely nutty situation made all the more complicated by the pandemic, since we can’t even go looking for him ourselves. I was planning to write a fun story about how we made the adoption happen. It didn’t occur to me that we wouldn’t even get to pet our new dog before he ran away from us.

I’m still very moved by the response of the community. Germans really love their dogs, and they are overall helpful, kind, people, if not a bit harsh at times. I have faith that we’ll have Jonny back in his garden, soon… with a LoJack on his collar. If not… I think it’ll probably be a long time before we try to adopt again. I don’t think my heart can take another loss so soon.

Update: Jonny was found dead. He was hit by a car.

disasters, dogs, Sundays

The Sunday dog walk from hell…

Our dogs, Zane and Arran, need regular exercise.  So do Bill and I.  On weekends, we usually take them to the nature park near our home, where they can burn off some steam and do some baying.  Although it’s good for us and the dogs, I have to admit that dog walking is not my favorite activity.  I would rather let my dogs run off lead somewhere.  When Bill and I walk together, the dogs constantly get tangled up, so we’re forever keeping the leashes straight.  But we don’t have any dog parks near where we live, so leash walking it is… and again, it’s usually a good thing.  I feel better when I get back.

Good thing they’re cute.

As we set off for our walk, Zane and Arran immediately needed to poop.  Arran squatted next to the big sign about cleaning up your shit.  A German couple, turned out to be our neighbors from a few doors down, stopped to talk to us as Bill was cleaning up the mess.  They were a pleasant couple, but as we were talking to them, the dogs saw a cat, which made them freak out.

Then there were two other people with dogs walking by, also causing Zane and Arran to bark and carry on.  Since it’s Sunday, we try not to be too noisy, but when you’re dealing with dogs– especially scent hounds– that can be a difficult endeavor.  We ended up going a different way than we usually go, just to avoid some of the people and make less noise.

We got deeper into the woods, where we encountered bikers and hikers with no incident.  But then about halfway through our stroll, we were confronted by four or five people on horseback.  I didn’t take time to count.  Since I used to ride horses myself, I understand the dilemma.  There was really nowhere for us to go to avoid the group, though, because we were in a thick part of the woods.  I knew the dogs would bark like crazy because they have never seen horses before.  Sure enough, they did.  Both of them made a racket that could have woken the dead.  I was dying inside and trying to keep Zane under control as the riders passed us.  The dogs remained agitated for the rest of our hour long walk.

I was getting more and more irritable as we got closer to home.  The temperature was warm.  The bugs were out.  I was sweating, swearing, and sneezing, owing to my allergies.  The dogs were being noisy.  I just wanted to get home, enjoy some peace and quiet, and sit on my can with our new fan blowing on me.

Then Zane turned his head and I noticed something bright yellow on his eye, almost like it looks when a camera flashes on it.  It took a minute to realize there was some kind of yellow flower petal stuck to his eyeball.  We stopped and Bill tried to get it out, but Zane was not being still enough and Bill’s fingers were too big.  We didn’t have much time to investigate, anyway, because suddenly the group of horse people were back.  This time, we were near a field, so we started walking the dogs into the field to avoid the horses.  Unfortunately, a big group of cyclists were behind the horse folks, so they also wanted to come in the field.

I could have tried to explain the situation, but they were German… I am sure someone in the group spoke English, but it was hard to explain over the furious barking from Zane and Arran, who once again were going nuts.  I’m sure I had a full on resting bitch face, which I regret, especially since I really do understand the situation for people riding horseback.   I’ve been there myself many times.  I just wasn’t enjoying our walk very much and just wanted it to be over.

We were almost home when the same guy who stopped us on the way out on our walk stopped us again.  He introduced himself and said maybe we should come over sometime.  Ordinarily, I would have been really delighted by the invitation, but I just wanted the stressful Sunday dog walk from hell to end.  Bill gave him his cell number.

The dogs are now pretty tuckered out.  Whatever was stuck on Zane’s eye isn’t there anymore… so he either got it out or it’s balled up under the eyelid.  ETA: Bill checked again and found it stuck under his lower lid.  He managed to fish it out without much trouble.

At least they’ve had their walk and the chance to poop.

The source of Sunday stress…

anecdotes, disasters, German products, Germany

Looks like my Hello Fresh mess is fixed for now…

So a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my disastrous attempt to subscribe to Hello Fresh.  I ended up with four fruit boxes and three classic meal boxes.  Despite my niece’s visit last week, we still have some leftovers from that huge delivery.  On the plus side, after we made the Hello Fresh recipes, we used the leftover supplies for other meals.  My husband made a mixed grill with vegetables with the extra chicken, beef, broccoli, and peppers we had.  He also took two of the fruit boxes to work with him and they were a big hit with his co-workers.  And Hello Fresh, to their credit, refunded the extra charges.

I lucked into finding a customer service guy who turns out to be half American and, perhaps in a fit of solidarity, pledged to help me out with any future customer service problems I have.  After I sent him a copy of the email I got from the first Hello Fresh rep who neglected to cancel my orders and told me not to let the extra orders happen again, my new Hello Fresh customer service rep apologized profusely and fixed my account.  So today, I got one classic box and one fruit box and I was charged only one time.  Moreover, since next week’s meals don’t appeal, he paused delivery for me within minutes of my request.

Because we like the Hello Fresh concept and enjoy the food, we may stick with it for awhile longer.  We’ll see how this week’s recipes turn out.  For now, I’m much less pissed off at Hello Fresh than I was two weeks ago.  As an added bonus, I tried Jerusalem artichokes for the first time.  Anything that gets me to try new things– especially fruits and vegetables– is a good thing.

disasters, restaurant reviews, San Antonio, Texas

The Esquire Tavern of San Antonio… what a pretentious shithole!

I wasn’t going to write more tonight because I’m in such a foul mood.  But then a friend of mine, who read my latest TripAdvisor review of the Esquire Tavern of San Antonio, said I could have “scathed” more.  And since I’m in a shitty mood tonight, maybe it’s a good time to write an expanded review of this bar, which disappointed the hell out of me and Bill.

Yesterday was Bill’s 49th birthday.  Late in the afternoon, we were hoping for a couple of celebratory cocktails.  Bill loves a good martini, but rarely gets to have them when he’s not at home because he does most of the driving and does not wish to drive while intoxicated.  Since we were staying in downtown San Antonio and there are a lot of bars in the area that we could walk to, we figured it would be no problem finding a place that could hook us up, even though it was a Sunday.

Originally, we were going to go to the Mexican Manhattan Restaurant, which we know has excellent and inexpensive margaritas.  But that place was closed…  and then I spied the steps leading up from the Riverwalk to the Esquire Tavern, which promised lots of interesting beers on tap.  We walked up the metal steps leading to the second storey of the building and entered the bar, notable because it has the longest wooden bar in Texas and has been operating since Prohibition ended in 1933– the year my dad was born.  Actually, we heard that the bar closed for a few years in the 2000s, then opened again.  It has a young chef who is supposedly really good at her craft.  Not that we’d know.  No one gave us a menu or anything.

Our initial impression of the place was decent.  A couple of people said hello as we walked in.  We nodded a greeting.  I liked the bar’s ambiance, which was kind of dim and elegant.  We sat down at the very long bar on leather covered barstools with backs.  So far, so good.  I noticed a lot of really interesting looking gins, which I knew Bill would like.  He loves trying new things and doesn’t mind paying a premium if it means he gets to taste something unique.  Curiously, I didn’t see any beer taps, but in a pinch, I like cocktails too.  The barkeeps at the Esquire Tavern could have easily made me happy and earned a nice tip for their troubles.  Alas, they couldn’t be bothered.

We sat there and waited.  And waited.  There were at least three bartenders behind the bar– so far as I could tell, anyway.  One guy had a beard that resembled Rasputin’s and appeared to be trying very hard to impress a couple of young ladies with his flare bartending skills.  I know he saw us.  He looked right at us.  But he didn’t even say hello or kiss my ass or anything…  and neither did any of his colleagues.  Time passed and we were feeling more and more stupid by the second.

I could tell Bill was getting really pissed.  He’s usually a very mild mannered guy and rarely gets upset with people.  Being ignored the way we were was making him feel foolish, which is one thing he can’t abide.  Since it was his birthday, “foolish” was definitely no way for him to feel.  We waited over ten minutes for some sign that these people wanted our business and could make us a decent cocktail or two.  We got nada.

I was very puzzled by the reception we were getting in this place.  I mean, all they had to do was say hello and let us know they’d be with us shortly.  I don’t mind waiting if the staff is really busy.  But it was like we were invisible.  The reception we were getting was very cold and felt deliberately unwelcoming.

When another couple came in after us and the bartender spoke to them and continued to ignore us, I just looked at Bill and said, “Let’s go.”

Poor Bill.  It’s bad enough turning 49 without being completely dissed in a bar.  I was shocked by how rudely we were treated.  I can’t remember an experience in a bar or restaurant quite as awesomely shitty as what we experienced at the Esquire Tavern.

We walked out of there feeling really low and embarrassed.  And we had NO REASON to feel low or embarrassed.  I mean, we’re normal people…  or at least we appear that way.  But it was like they had no need for our business.  I am generally pretty lenient when it comes to people who work in restaurants.  I worked in one myself for awhile and I always figured no server or bartender in their right mind would purposely give someone bad service… not when they typically get paid practically nothing by the bar or restaurant and depend on tips.  There were times when I unintentionally gave bad service when I was weeded out of my mind.  I might have been much more patient had the Esquire Tavern been really crowded or busy.  It wasn’t, though.  There were plenty of empty tables and it looked like there were a lot of people on duty.  I see from reading Yelp! and TripAdvisor that people other than us had complaints like ours about terrible service.  Do they not like tourists?  Hey– in a few weeks, we won’t be tourists; we’ll be residents!

Bill was still fuming about it as we walked down the street.  We went to the Menger Bar, which was at our hotel, and mentioned what happened to us to the bartender on duty.  The bartender dished a bit about the place.  He said he went there once and they tried to talk him out of the drink he wanted.  He also told us that the bar was a bit hyped.  Granted, he was a bartender at a competing bar, also very historic since that was where Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders hung out back in the day.  Maybe we should take what he said with a grain of salt.

Bill and I are good drinkers and good tippers.  We like good food.  We shower regularly.  I was even wearing makeup, for Chrissakes!

It doesn’t really matter, I guess.  We are moving to San Antonio in a little over three weeks and we’re both pretty sure we won’t be giving the Esquire Tavern another chance.  In fact, I think we’re both a little sick of the Riverwalk and probably won’t be hanging out there much anyway.  But if we do go downtown, it’s extremely unlikely we’d try that bar again and knowing how much I like to chat, I imagine I’ll be bitching and writing about it a lot.  I’m good for that.

Bill has lingering issues with embarrassment and shame and that was how he felt when these people failed to recognize him as a paying customer.  And that embarrassment turned to anger… especially on my part.  I have a very long memory when it comes to these things.  As a matter of fact, I still hold a grudge against a place that dissed me over twenty years ago, when I was still a college student.  They surely don’t care…  and back then, we had no outlets like blogs or TripAdvisor for public venting.   But I remember… and I’m still pretty bitter.  😉

I don’t have time for people who don’t have time for me; certainly not when it involves money.  Besides, Bill is my favorite bartender.  I know his prices are a hell of a lot less expensive than any I’ve encountered in a bar.

We won’t be darkening their door again… despite the loads of liquor…

Edited to add… a friend of mine read this article and passed along this link, which may shed some light on the subject.  Perhaps the Esquire Tavern is one of those new “hip” bars where the bartenders have a snotty attitude about the libations they sell and their clientele.  The author of the article uses a word that describes exactly how it feels to be ignored the way we were… “degrading”.  What a damn shame!