My then-future wife and I were set on the fact that we'd be getting a dachshund. But to make sure we were being thorough (and because we were both going to be first-time dog owners) I wrote out a list of things we wanted (and didn't want) in a dog. The list largely grew out of breed descriptions we read in the Harper's Illustrated Handbook of Dogs (which I had bought strictly because it was designed by Massimo Vignelli). The list included qualities and aspects about breeds that had been outlined in that book, some of which were unusual enough to make me reconsider the whole idea of owning a down. Thus the list included:
- Must not require that we own a "large estate" (as the book suggested for owners of mastiffs)
- Is not required to run after a car or truck for "several miles" on a deserted road as a form of exercise (as it suggested for plott hounds)
- Eyes must not "easily pop out" of the dog's head when being brushed (as the book warned regarding the pekingese)
Of course, the list also included far more normal things that we wanted in a dog. But it ended with one item I was simply not willing to compromise on. So I put a double asterisk next to it: "Must not have a visible butthole".
This item was included in the list as a result of a lovely pug that our friends had gotten recently. The dog was fun to be around, and great in every way, but I simply couldn't cope with how....uhm, visible it's butthole was at all times. Same was true for dogs with closely cropped tails, so I included that on the list as well. After reviewing our list, and doing much research, we ended up deciding on a dachshund anyway (their demure tails only helping us make the decision), and thus the lovely Emma came into our lives.
Now that we've had her for nearly ten years, I don't often think about the items on that list anymore, except for one: the visible butthole. I think about that one all the time, and not just because of different types of dogs and cats that (through no fault of their own) insist in flagrant displays of that part of their anatomy. Instead, I think about it because I've become almost as offended by visible and uncovered headset bolts, which I can only equate as being much the same thing, but on a bike. Especially when people let them get dirty and rusty.
To tell you the truth, I had never thought much about headset bolts, until I built up a bike sometime ago, using a headset that luckily came with one of these amazingly simple but helpful little rubber plugs, which perfectly cover up that most offensive crevasses on a bike.
Since my bike riding is not that kind where I talk to people, and joke around while heading into beautiful backdrops—but rather the kind where I sit on the bike alone and look down at my headset and stem a lot—I've come to appreciate these little plugs...which probably have a real and proper name, though I don't know it. In fact, I've become so reliant on them, that I've looked online to buy some extras, so that all my bikes can be as demure as this last one I built up. No luck. I also went to a couple of bike shops, and they were unable to help me order these little things (they didn't know the name for them either, maybe headset bolt plugs?), though one mechanic said, "I may have one in a parts bin over here". He did. Which has led me to go into shops from time to time, begging to pick through their garbage, all in search of a stupid rubber plug that I now deem so necessary, like a junkie looking for a fix. All because the thought of staring into my bike's butthole for hours is simply to much to bear.