Blame It on the Lizards

Rouletta has gone insane.

I cannot go a block into our daily walks without her lunging after lizards. She hurls herself into the air, twists her sausage-like body into a double corkscrew, and spirals forward after these elusive yet plentiful-by-the-hundreds creatures that scurry across the steamy concrete pavement.

This drives me insane.

More than a few times each day, she lands on her back or smashes nose first into a thorny hedge. This morning, she fell so hard on her back, I was sure she would be injured. But no, she bounded back up, hopelessly tangled in her leash, did the Boston Terrier “pointing” thing and looked for the next pint-sized reptile she was certain was the one she would finally capture. I have no idea what she will do with a lizard if and when she ever catches one, but I also don’t want to find out. This is an aggravating, distracting activity of hers that challenges her cool diva persona.

Blame the lizards for repeatedly showing me this dark side of my otherwise perfect pup.

This evening, we walked past a mom and her two kids whom I see on every single walk Rouletta and I take. The boy is about four, the girl about two. They could be my kids, so many years ago. Their mom could be me, a lifetime ago.

But this mom is a better mom than I ever was. She is always doing some sort of outside activity with her cute kids–painting rocks, drawing chalk pictures on the sidewalk, planting flowers, singing outdoor songs. Her creativity is endless. She exhausts me just thinking about the energy it must take for her to put on this great-mom show every day. Frankly, she looks exhausted, but she always has a hello and a ready smile for me when my insane lizard-hunting dog and I cross her path and that of her babies.

Today, I watched from a few doors down as this super mom wielded a butterfly net, swooping down on a scraggly bush in her front yard with swipe so swift, I wasn’t sure what was going on. Batting a bee? Swatting an errant feral cat?

“Wanna see what my mom caught for me?” the little boy asked me as I yanked Rouletta to my side so she wouldn’t climb a palm tree trunk in an effort to complete her lizard quest. Mom smiled at me, proud yet somewhat embarrassed.

“Sure!” I said. Because what the hell? I am sure this mom could successfully wrestle an alligator for her kids if it came down to that.

“See?” he said, hoisting a small plastic container up to my face.

I had to look more than a few seconds to finally see it–the tiniest of lizards. A baby, to be sure.

“Oh, wow!” I exclaimed. “So now you get to keep it as a pet?”

“Only for a day,” said Mom.

“Only for one day,” echoed the boy. “Then we let him go.”

“Go, go!” giggled his younger sister.

Nice. Cute. Adorable. Way to remind me of how many Disney Duck Tales episodes and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tapes I shoved in a VCR to keep my kids occupied so I could simply catch my breath when my now-awesome-in-spite-of-me kids were these kids’ ages.

Blame my recurring feeling that I am a mother who STILL doesn’t measure up on this stupid lizard that was lucky enough to be caught by a great mom who will ensure his freedom tomorrow.

As the lizard-possessed pup and I continued our walk, we spied a beautiful French Bull Dog being walked by his owners. Both of our dogs pulled at their leashes to greet each other. “Can they say hello?” I asked the men walking this cute dog, because I have heard that is doggy-owner etiquette, although I am the only one in my neighborhood who does this. Mostly, folks just pull their dogs close to them and cross the street away from my dog. I don’t take this personally. I simply blame the lizards that make my dog seem like a maniac for preventing anyone from wanting to talk to us.

“Sure!” one answered. And our pups were smitten with each other at first sight.

“How old is yours?”


“What’s her name?”


“She’s beautiful!”

She is a fallen show girl. Ha ha.


How old is yours?

“He’s our baby–a seven month old.”

Great. No really great. You are a happy couple of guys wearing wedding bands and you have a well-behaved puppy you adore. You complete each other as much in love as you obviously are. I don’t begrudge you this, of course. I am just having a rough couple of days, okay years, on the love front, and now my dog has turned into a maniac about the lizards, and….Hey, you wanna be friends? I damn well could use a friend in this town right about now! Not that I am needy or anything, but you seem so happy with the dog and all….

“Nice meeting you. See you again on walks,” the one man’s partner smiles as Rouletta wraps the leash around her neck in an attempt to pounce on a lizard she spies dashing along a landscape rock in someone’s perfectly landscaped front yard.

I blame the lizards for every friend I cannot make and haven’t made in my neighborhood that I am leaving in exactly five weeks.

When we get back to my apartment, my neighbor is there at my door, begging a glass of wine and a cigarette. She tells me how she has deleted her bad boy’s number from her cell phone and how empowered she feels by this action. “Finally,” she says, “I was proactive and did the right thing for me.”

Rouletta eyes a lizard scurrying along the wall next to my front door. She careens face first into the stucco even as she is five seconds too late to even put a paw on the lightening-quick critter.

“You just deleted his number and that’s that?” I ask, examining Rouletta’s face for damage after I haul her sorry self into my arms.

“Yep. You should try it. It is so empowering. So freeing.”

Hours later, the pup is sprawled out on her cushy bed. She looks exhausted from her recurring efforts to go after what she will never capture. I stare at my iPhone on my desk. It is still encased in its pink “skin” that will make it difficult for me to drop it, according to my daughter.

I give it a moment’s thought. Then another. Then a glass of wine and a couple of more minutes.

Then I delete a phone number from my iPhone.

I wait. I wait some more. But I don’t feel empowered. I don’t feel free. Instead, I feel sick. Sick on a day I got a small raise. Sick on a day a local newspaper wants to publish one of my photos.

So, I try not to feel anything. When I still feel everything, I blame it all on the lizards.






17 responses to “Blame It on the Lizards”

  1. Lisa Avatar

    With regards to the lizard issue, I reccomend looking up clicker training. I use it with my dog and I’ve had AMAZING results ๐Ÿ™‚ If you want more information let me know.
    As for the cigarette-inducing guy…sorry I have no help to offer!

  2. L Avatar

    I know the dog chasing the lizards is not exactly the point, but my dog chases swallows in the same way! It can indeed be infuriating, especially when he sits down and won’t walk because he’s too busy watching the swallows and willing one to come within reach.

    Recently I did start doing some clicker-training with my dog for other reasons, and by accident found out that it also works for getting him to not react so strongly to the swallows. Amazing stuff.

    Dogs are better than boys for making you feel like you’re on top of the world anyway.

  3. MenSuck Avatar

    RG, seriously, I know how you feel ๐Ÿ™ Been there, done that. I actually caught a guy I was seeing for a year with a profile on a dating web site. He tried to lie and say it was old, but the area was the area he moved to 4 months into our relationship… so… yeah. I didn’t delete for far too long.. thinking “if only” and trying to “win” him back and make him see that I was “the one”. And it worked, kind of… We stayed together for a year after all.. but at the cost of my own confidence. I guess that is what happens when you pick unavailable people who you always have to prove worthself worthy of and work hard to keep interested . Totally not worth it.

    I also don’t think you need to delete him. Just take a few months and find yourself a better guy… Then if you still want to, there’s no harm in occasionally talking to or see this other guy as a friend if you enjoy his company and being around him. Just keep him at arms length and don’t look at him as a romantic interest.

    P.S. I wonder if clicker-training would work on men? It’s worth a try!

  4. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Lisa and L–What the heck is clicker training and what do I do to get started with it???

    MenSuck–You know, I only deleted his number so I would quit texting him first. A couple of glasses of wine and then, Oh well, I’ll just say hey. Pathetic. Anyway, without his number in my phone, I can’t initiate a text. It’s all up to him. And I expect nothing to come of any of this anyway. Men don’t necessarily suck, this one simply rendered an otherwise confident woman into a blithering, insecure fool!

  5. MenSuck Avatar

    I know it feels crappy now, but it’s like ripping off the bandaid so to speak… hurts at first, but quickly goes away. As for your neighbor everyone handles the grieving process over a breakup differently so what works for her may not work for you. Your neighbor sounds like the kind of girl I wish I could be.

    It is always disappointing to meet someone you feel is promising early on go to the wayside early on, but I prefer to think of it as they saved me from wasting my time on them. After all, if after a month one or two there are “issues”, they are probably going to get worse and not better as time goes by.

    Oh, and almost forgot, once you move, you’ll be in a nice new neighborhood, with nice new people to meet. Focus on that and other positives.

  6. Julie Avatar

    I wonder if clicker training would work for me… I get distracted by shoes and purses every time I go shopping. And, I usually “catch” at least one. It’s a habit I need to break before I fill the attic. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Lisa Avatar

    Let’s say I want to get my dog to look at me. I stand in front of him and wait. As soon as his head turns in my direction I click and give him a treat. I do that a couple times without expecting him to be staring at me. However every second time I do it, I up the ante. The next time I might expect him to look me in the eyes for a couple seconds. I get that from him (and click and treat it) for a couple times, then up the ante again until he’s sitting and looking me in the eyes until I tell him it’s ok.
    You could clicker Rouletta by calling her everytime she looks at a lizard and clicking for her looking away. (You have to use a high reward value treat cause it has to be better than the lizard)
    That’s a really condensed itea of clicker, but I’ve gotten my dog (Devo) to do all sorts of things with the clicker. The keys to good clicker training are clicking at the right time (when I started I used to click before hand thinking he was going to do what I asked) and giving a treat EVERYTIME you click even if it’s accidental.
    This is the clicker that I use
    This is a book that got me started (Although I know take classes through my vet):

    Mensuck: Clicker training works to a certain degree with men….I have a sign in my kitchen that says “Get kisses from the misses when you do the dishes” ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Rose Royce Avatar
    Rose Royce

    Petsmart has clicker classes for dogs and you can buy a clicker for a dollar there. My American Eskimo can’t leave the geckos alone in our yard. Catching them is a whole other story, what’s fun is the chase. My Blue Heeler likes to chase the neighbor’s cat off the wall. When she actually meets a cat, nose to nose, she sniffs and is polite, it’s all about the game. If they don’t run, there’s no fun. Maybe that sums up some guys?
    Beautiful the way you put that piece together, I liked the path.

  9. Joe Avatar

    Personally I find squirrels to be the root of ALL evil!

  10. k Avatar

    I change the name on those guys to : dontyoufuckingdare (as it works for some phones) or dontanswer.
    Hard though ๐Ÿ™‚
    Good for you… it’s better that HE initiate, than you ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. taotechuck Avatar

    RG, m’dear, you’ve been writing some splendid posts lately! I wish you weren’t going through such difficult times, but your fans are well rewarded for your suffering.

    If it’s any consolation, my dogs go after rats and whores, and not necessarily in that order. I’ve been walking the middle guy late at night lately, and he stuck his nose right down some poor hooker’s blouse when she leaned over to pet him! The blog post about that walk is coming in the next week or two.

    Good thoughts to you, as always!

  12. Mary Tiler More Avatar

    Listen to your intuition, always. That little voice inside our heads … it’s usually the best advice we will ever get. No one know us any better than that. Sometimes we have to be real quiet, just so we can hear it.

  13. Paul Avatar

    Don’t let her catch them. My terrier tore one up and left it for me as a present.

  14. MenSuck Avatar

    RG, I think maybe you shoudl turn the tables on Mr. Popularity. Use him for some fun and sex, and be on the look out all the whille for someone better to date for real. Guys like him should get a taste of their own medicine sometimes.

    Oh and on that note…. I’m going to buy a clicker and try to train the BF with it. Do you clicker trainers out there have any advice on how I can train him to put the toilet seat down or take out the trash before it is overflowing?

  15. L Avatar

    People sort of already know how to ‘clicker-train’ other people .. the basic point is positive reinforcement ๐Ÿ™‚ The hard part is being consistent — consistently rewarding the behavior you want while ignoring the behavior you don’t want, all the while setting the trainee (person or dog) up to succeed so you have chances to reward the behavior you want.

    If Rouletta can’t ignore a lizard 2 feet away, let her look at one from 10 feet away and reward her (with some really awesome treat) when she looks at you instead of the lizard. You would “click” when she looks at you, as a marker for ‘there, that’s what I wanted’. After she gets good at that, you might move up to 5 feet. Basically clicker training can be a lot of work because you have to be smart about it, but it gives you a really good bond between you and the dog (hey, you’re the source of good things, not punishment!) and makes the dog think, which is also good.

    If you were trying to train a guy to take the trash out, you have to be a bit more subtle ๐Ÿ™‚ No actual clicker, but the same idea of “reward the behavior you want” (or anything that comes close to the behavior that you want), as soon as you can to the actual behavior happening. With people you get to have a little more time between the behavior and the marking of behavior, because we can say “thanks for taking the trash out honey”, while rubbing his shoulders (for example). Perhaps some would say ‘training’ humans is manipulative but I don’t know if I see it that way. Your trainee can still choose not to take the trash out (at which point, you don’t nag them about not doing it .. just do it yourself and give yourself some ice cream or whatever), but if they do something you want, they get something they want. People have been doing it forever, but isn’t positive reinforcement a nicer and gentler way to get people to do what you want? I guess the “manipulative” part is that you actually are aware of what you’re doing .. rather than just nagging or yelling without thinking.

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