The Passing of a Legend

This is the blog post I never hoped to write. It is with tremendous sadness that I must report that Dorian the Green Iguana has passed away. Not only did I never hope to write this, but that I’m composing it late Monday evening, on my birthday no less, makes it all the harder to write. It comes with no relief, with no vaunted salve for the pain in my heart, just utter unmitigated sadness. Any hopes of this being somewhat cathartic ended as soon as I opened this up and wrote the first line.

Friday, I left for Indianapolis with two goals in mind, one to see my parents who are both in managed eldercare facilities, and two see my beloved Colts win on what locals lovingly called Peyton Manning Day. Manning was honored with the revealing of a statute in his visage, having done so much for the team and the community during his nearly 20 year career in Indianapolis. I needed this badly. Under pressure from my position as a professor here in Texas, Dorian’s dire health, my father’s declining mental faculties; it’s been a difficult series of weeks. This was a bright spot for me, a chance to see all my friends at the game and cheer on a the team I’ve loved as a season ticket holder for the past two decades. Though we even got to meet Manning and have our picture taken with him, this weekend is now forever scarred with the loss of my best friend.

Some of you may know that I have a achieved a fractional modicum of fame at the Colts games over the years. For the better part of a decade, I have been featured on the big screen inside both Lucas Oil and the Hoosier Dome head banging to very songs, but most prominently, “Let’s Go (Crazy Train Remix)” by Lil Jon. The Colts’ organization even once featured me in a segment on their television show. It’s merely a performance for me, I get to have fun going crazy, the crowd cheers at the fat guy going crazy, and everyone generally has a good time.

When I left Friday afternoon, Dorian was doing well. He took a bath and peed a little, took his subcutaneous fluids well, and took his medicine very well. The only thing he didn’t do was poop, which he hadn’t done in a matter of days, and he didn’t eat very well. He wasn’t really interested in it and it was hard to get him to eat, though he managed to put some greens down. I left worried, but confident he’d be OK for the weekend while I was away, and when Justine, my petsitter, and I spoke by text on Saturday, Dorian was much the same, though he gave her quite the “side-eye.” We had no indication he was going to die.

The game had just kicked-off mere minutes before I received the text from Justine, a lovely woman who is studying to become a veterinarian and who absolutely adores Dorian. The text said simply,

“Call me asap please”

My heart sunk. I knew it before she said it. Through tears, she informed me that Dorian had passed away overnight. She was very sorry, and asked me what course of action I want to take. I wanted to keep him before taking him to have a necropsy done, but she stated that she’d have to refrigerate him as to avoid decomposition and to slow rigor, guaranteed certainties in the Texas heat. I was adamant about seeing him before he was return to the hospital for the final procedure and his eventual cremation.

When I arrived at home, I was on the phone with my wife Amber. I need her to be with me against the cascade of loneliness I felt. Dorian is the only thing keeping me sane here in Texas. Though I love my job, the courses I teach, and my students, I hate living here in this God-forsaken town, absent of culture and the amenities I’ve grown to love in urban life. He made living here palatable. I opened the door and burst into tears. It was now all too real. I dropped my bags and slowly walked to the fridge and pulled him out. Justine had placed Dorian in kitchen garbage bags, and though I know she was doing her best, the sight of it was too much. I nearly collapsed then and there. “My baby, my poor sweet baby!” I cried out as I rescued him from the cold confines of the fridge. I held him tight and collapsed upon the sofa, wailing in immense grief. It is all-encompassing and unending. Tears are streaming down my face as I write this, and I can barely find the keys through the veil of melancholy. Poor Amber stayed on the line with me as I wept unmercifully; I have no idea how she did it.

Eventually, I cried out that I couldn’t just leave him in the bags, as difficult as it was, I had to see him, and I tore my way through them. There he was, though lifeless, he looked asleep. I hugged him so tight and with such love. I rubbed his face against mine as we often did, and for a second, I felt as if I could simply will him alive. Maybe if I just warmed him up, my heart was big enough to keep us both alive! That would work for sure. But alas, I couldn’t do it. I cried about how I failed as a father. How I let him down. And I how I have lost a piece of me. I will never be whole again.

I laid back on the couch with my deceased iguana and sobbed more than I have ever in my life. I nearly fell asleep holding him, cuddling his body against mine, rubbing his jowls as I had thousands of times before. But I was afraid that the warmth of my body might damage the necropsy,  We needed his body to remain cool so the pathologists could find out what happened. So I kissed him one more time, I told him I loved him, and I said goodbye. I carefully placed him in his canvas travel bag and drove him to the hospital holding him against my chest and talking to him the entire way.

And now, we wait for the doctors to discover what happened. I would love to end this post on a happy note, promising that I’ll be OK, that I’ll be just fine after a period of mourning, but I assure you, I will never recover. I will never “get over it.” Truth is, I don’t want to either. I want this pain to remain, to never forget what I have lost, and to never forget the love I had for him. I know that it will always pain me, but it will also sustain me.

Dorian was the best iguana ever.

I love you Dorian.



A Mass O’ Greens


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This weekend, I’m in Florida, taking my elderly father to Spring Training baseball for the first time. It was something he’d talk about doing, but never did. Well, in his twilight, we’re making memories.

But that’s not to say this has been easy. Nothing’s easy with my dad. Between his general grumpy old man-ness and that he hasn’t been on a plane or in an airport since 1989, today has been at times a struggle. The true struggle began last night with iggy when I had to take Dorian to the emergency vet.

What? Dorian, star of stage and screen, in the hospital? Why? Whatever for? Well, the blame clearly lies with me.

Apparently my little prima Donna is no fan of parsley. He’s had parsley numerous times over the last decade and he’s never really complained before, but there was something about the mix this past week that he was just not having it. Parsley is listed on the Green Ig Society’s Food Information Chart as an occasional item. It’s good for calcium, but a little high in phosphates. He should have snacked that hard.

But he didn’t, so running short on time yesterday morning, I just grabbed some leaves out of the crisper and fed Dorian by hand. I wanted to make sure he ate something before I left for Orlando. So I would wedge a stem or stalk into his mouth and then he would take the rest. We did this with collards, turnips, and mustard greens, one after the other. It wasn’t like he was a Suffragette and I was force feeding him because it was bad form to have political prisoners on hunger strikes wasting away in the worst public relations move of all time. We’ve done this before, you get him started, and he’ll devour the rest in short order. But this time, Dorian just kept packing them in at the bottom of his throat, like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter.

I thought nothing of it at the time, but then around 5:39 pm, I notice the big lump in Dorian’s throat had grown exponentially. It hardened as well, as though it were made of quick-dry concrete. Now iguanas, like most reptiles, are incapable of chewing their food, instead they swallow large amounts of food whole. This is why you see crocodiles tearing chunks off their wildebeest in all those nature documentaries on PBS, though David Attenborough’s smooth tenor eases the trauma of seeing an animal torn to shreds by a large scaly predator. Most reptiles are also opportunistic eaters, gorging themselves by eating a tremendous amount of food at one sitting. You will often see a reptile basking with an enormous, bloated stomach, whether it’s from the fresh carcass of some other animal or an a large amount of fruit or greens they’ve managed to find. We’ve all seen pictures of large pythons with ridiculous bulges in their bellies after a large meal. Iguanas, for their part, tend to be grazers, and they have a better meter on their appetite, meaning they tend not to overeat, and unlike a dog, won’t eat themselves sick.

All this is to say, I was super concerned to see Dorian’s throat as full as it was hours after he first ate. Sure there’s been times where he’s eaten two full mandarin oranges and you could actually feel the oranges in his gullet, but not for hours. So I call my vet, Dr. Riggs, at his clinic, but he’s not in. So I tell myself, “it will be fine. Just give it a couple hours, and it will eventually go down. Well, finally around 8:00 I’m starting to panic, and not just because Dorian has this mass of greens, which I can actually see when I open his gaping maw, but also that I will be in Florida for the next three days, leaving him alone for the majority of that time. So eventually we head the to emergency clinic at Metro North, which frankly I despise. While I appreciate the convenience of having a 24-hour clinic, there’s never an exotic vet on staff. Instead you bring your ailing exotic in and the doctors there, many of whom have very little experience with reptiles, much less done a rotation in vet school, don’t have a clue as to how to proceed. They just end up calling Dr. Riggs, Dorian’s normal vet, and do a phone consultation with him. I really don’t want an exotic doctor by phone, I just want an exotic doctor.

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As it turned out, the doctors did exactly as I imagined myself doing, grabbing a pair of forceps and yanking the ball of greens out of his gaping maw. The difference was dramatic, as Dorian’s cheeks went from the size of bowling balls to golf balls. The result was a clump of chopped greens that nearly filled the quart-sized ziplock bag they gave me as a souvenir. Sure, it was a goody bag from the worst carnival booth ever, but we earned it nonetheless. Dorian looked loads better though, and I was happy to get home and grab a couple hours sleep before heading down to Florida. When I return, you can bet I’ll be more careful feeding Dorian in the future.

Green Room Iggy

So tonight is the big night! The premiere of Dorian’s first national television appearance on “Best Thing Ever” on TruTV. As excited as I am for 11:30 pm to roll around, I wanted to share the second half of the story of our trip to New York with you.

Dorian sure liked the hotel on Park Ave. Comfy bed, cozy blankets, warm bath tub, man, he was in heaven. He slept pretty well all things considered. New noises and new arrangements are not always welcome for the creatures of habit that iguanas so often are. Generally, iguanas love routines, no, I mean they really love routines. So much so that any small hiccup in their schedule may set them off on a surly path of plant destruction, order disruption, or weaponized defecation. Yeah, that last one really stinks. (ba-DOOM-cha!)

Point is, spontaneity and iguanas don’t mix. But Dorian was super copacetic on this trip. As I wrote last time, he just assumed these arrangements were fit for a king, namely him. Why wouldn’t his dad give him the very best? Dad spoils him rotten at home.

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Dorian got to sleep in. He got breakfast in bed. He got to take a nice bath and cuddle time afterwards. Little dude was living high on the hog. He could get used to this celebrity life!

The call sheet noted our call time was noon, so about 11:30, I packed Dorian in his black canvas duffel bag and carried him downstairs. A car service came and picked us up from the hotel and we were driven to a studio somewhere in Manhattan. Supposedly, the driver knew I had an iggy in the bag, but I thought I shouldn’t press my luck. When we got to the studio building, we entered a rather narrow lobby with a little female security guard that wasn’t about to stop anybody. She gave no direction and with no signage to clue us in, we stood there like the Midwestern hicks we were. It was rather cold with the door to the building wide open and fresh Big Apple air blowing in so I really wanted to figure out where to go. I managed to find an elevator as I saw two gentleman stumble in with loads of A/V equipment. I asked one of them if they were with TruTV and what floor we should go to. After holding the elevator door for them, the one fellow says, “Is there an iguana in that bag?” Here they were with the show’s production company and they were excited about the rumor of a large green iguana stopping by the studio.
img_4126That said, the rest of the crew was not so excited about Dorian. The makeup lady would barely even look at Dorian once we got him out of the bag in the green room. She finally came to see him, but was so scared she mostly hid behind the door frame. Most of them had never been around reptiles and just didn’t know what to do. I asked a number of them to touch him, “No, seriously, you can pet him.” But I only had two takers amongst the half-dozen crew members on the shoot. Dorian, of course, marched around like he owned the place, checking out every corner of this new environment looking for frightened subjects to rule over. A few of the braver souls (including a production assistant who almost turned pale at one point) just watched him walk around the room amazed that such dinosaurs still exist. It was as if they’d all taken trips to Jurassic Park asking Sam Neal in full paleontologist regalia, “Is this real life?” Having been around reptiles for most of life, I found this trepidation and awe quite humorous.

Dorian walked up and down the hall until I picked him and took him into the studio space, which you can see to the left. It was a much smaller space than one might expect trip. It was mostly dominated by the large green screen that they use predominantly on their shows. But because of Dorian’s natural emerald hue, a special blue screen was brought exclusively for his  scene. They actually discussed it in an email with me before the shoot, just to make sure it would work. Acting like I knew the answer, I agreed with their assertion that they needed it. Heck, I can’t even get a green screen at work for my video production class. These guys have a whole room layered in green hues! We did let Dorian run about the studio space for a while until he was attracted to the large cable coils and equipment. Maybe it was the electrical impulses or the warmth, but he kept trying to climb up on them.

For the shoot, I just sat in a chair and answered questions all while holding Dorian. It was really a fascinating process. The director would ask me questions, which I would answer and then he would ask me to rephrase what I said, or just “say it in a different way.” I half expected to be handed a script when we started, but the director was able to draw out answers he liked with his suggestions and requests. Sometimes he would have a quick whisper with a script advisor, but it was really interesting how everything worked. Dorian for his part was rather taken aback by the whole experience. Instead of causing a kerfuffle, he closely hugged my chest, seeking the protection of his papa. He was not about to crawl down with all the strange people about and weird equipment humming along, no sir. This is where people who don’t understand iguanas wouldn’t understand how I can say it was very endearing.

Eventually, the crew from Meetinghouse Productions got around to asking me if Dorian would eat bread out of my mouth, which I think was the whole point of bringing us to New York. So we obliged (like Bon Jovi singing “Like a Prayer” at a wedding), and Dorian of course was very happy he got a slice of wheat bread. To tell the truth, I sort of dreaded the whole “feed him out of your mouth” thing. Contrary to how it may appear, this is not something we do on regular occasions. We seriously only did it to get on  David Letterman’s “Stupid Pet Tricks” segment before he left the air a number of years ago. Granted, I did bring a slice of wheat bread from home despite my trepidation at their fascination with it. You know what they say, “you dance with the one that brung ya.”

Interestingly, I did meet one of the comedians, Pete Lee, who worked that particular episode. I had seen his name on the call sheet, and a quick search of YouTube revealed an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, ironically the very show we attempted to be on. As we chatted about Dorian, life in show business and various things, I mentioned that I had seen his appearance on Letterman. He said thank you and then mentioned that he had seen Dorian’s video, and before MeetingHouse decided to bring me in, he had “written a few jokes about you.” What followed was a hilariously awkward moment of silence. I also met several Ball State graduates, which was great to see my alma mater producing broadcast industry professionals. Overall, the people I met were nothing but accommodating with warmth and hospitality.

Finally, I wanted to mention what it meant to be back in the city. As a former resident of the Garden State just across the Hudson, it was so fantastic to be back in the hubbub and chaos of the Big Apple. The sights, the sounds… even the smells of the city were a welcome relief to the small town placidity of Canton, Ohio. I did think it was auspicious that the studio we filmed at was just across from a rather serendipitously named bar. For those that don’t know, Dorian is named after the central character in a favorite book of mine, The Picture of Dorian Gray. The name of the bar across the street? Oh, that just happened to be the author of that book, Oscar Wilde.

Iggy in the Big City

As I mentioned in the last post here, I would be sure to write about Dorian’s adventure in the Big Apple and his foray onto the small screen. After a busy week, and another followed by world travels (more on that later) things have settled down enough for me to actually type it out!

With such a big trip ahead of us, I had plenty of the things to in preparation of smooth travels. I had to ready the other kids, Okewa and Jürgen for a day without Dad whilst we were in New York. Clean house and pick up clutter in anticipation of the petsitter. Gas up the car and clean it out the front seat, tossing bottles and cans from prior road trips into the recycling bin. Finally, I had to prep the iggy, which is sometimes no easy task.

img_4098-2Dorian has a large black canvas duffel bag of the military variety that you so often see our young soldiers, sailors and marines carry through the airports. In hustle and bustle of the afternoon, he knows something’s up. When he sees the black bag, he knows something’s going down, and most likely, he’s getting stuffed in the bag and being taken somewhere. It’s how he travels. To the vet. From Florida to Kentucky. From Alabama to Ohio. Buddy-boy knows thats his bag, and what it’s for. This time, he wasn’t too sure he wanted to go. As you can see in he picture, I can back into the parlor only to find him already pulling his Michael Scofield after a few minutes. I quickly managed to stuff his head back into the bag so we could head out the door.

img_4106The trip was slotted to take roughly seven hours by car, nearly all of it on I-80. ‪‬On such trips, I usually put Dorian in the front seat so I can watch him, and protect him from sliding around as happens occasionally whilst driving on the interstate. On this particular Sunday, we packed up around noon, and began our road trip shortly thereafter. Dorian wrangled about for a while, trying to figure out where he was and what was going on, and then just to establish a comfier position. At that point, he’d resigned himself to his fate, and just cuddled down to go to sleep.

We got into Manhattan a little after 8:00 pm. I pulled up for valet parking to take the car, grabbed my clothes and backpack, and squirreled Dorian inside his duffel under my arm, quickly making my way through the 50° weather into the hotel on Park Ave. Now, I’m not sure the hotel (which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent) would be happy knowing a 12 lb lizard was making his home in the hotel for the evening, but I took no chances. Fortunately, Dorian was dead tired at this point, and he barely moved an inch. We got checked in with no problem, though I did have to beg off when the porter asked if he could help me by carrying the duffel bag upstairs. “Uh, no, I got it, thanks. You can carry these dress shirts though.”

When we finally got to the room on the 12th floor, it was like we were in the most absurd of Hollywood comedies. Silk sheets, fine linens, delicate pillows. What?! Dorian for his part was rather non-plussed. He just rolled with the mood as if to say, “Oh yes, this is for me. Of course it is. I am the King!”

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Look at that guy! It’s like he owns the place!

Well, frankly, he does. Without him, we never would have made the video all those years ago, nor would we have made the trip to New York, nor had a chance to star on television. I’ll share the second half of the story soon. See you then!

Celebrity Iggy


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As many of you know, Dorian has his own YouTube channel, which may be the very reason you found this blog. Of course, we have a number of videos of the other kids in our family, but the whole reason I started the blog back in 2012 was because of Dorian. He was doing so many funny things that I wanted to archive all of these great moments in our lives. The YouTube channel has 200+ subscribers. No videos achieved what might be called viral,  but that’s okay. I never really meant for anyone beyond my close-knit circle of relatives and friends really watch the product. Most of the videos are just a few minutes long and show Dorian, Gobo, or the beardies doing something silly or abject to what popular culture thinks of a reptile’s nature. By this, I mean to say that most people don’t think of green iguanas as cuddly. If you’ve followed my blog at all, you’ll notice that I vehemently disagree with that statement. It’s showing how, frankly, normal owning reptiles actually is.

You dress your dog up for Halloween? Me too! Have a birthday party for your pet? Me too! Talk about your pet as if they’re a person? Me too.

A few weeks back, I received an email on YouTube from a man claiming to be a producer with TruTV, a cable channel I’m only familiar with as the home of the hilarious Impractical Jokers, the incisive Adam Ruins Everything, and that show about a somewhat dubious towing company. Needless to say, the request struck me as odd. The video “Stupid Pet Tricks” shows Dorian eating a piece of bread out of my mouth is nearly 7 years old and only has about 4,800 views. So how they found the video and what led them to contact me still remains a bit murky.

But nonetheless, I replied to his email, and the conversation went from “we would like to use your video on our show” to “could you and Dorian make it to New York City to be on the show?” This is just too good to pass up. I just talked to my cousin, and we both laughed at the serendipity that is so often my life. “Hey, you want to teach in Japan for two years?” “Congrats, you’re the Colts mascot for the day!” “You just bought the last ticket for Cillian Murphy’s one-man show in Galway.” So often, I just luck myself into these awesome experiences. Really, Dorian the TV star is no different. I expect tomorrow to be a rather wild and crazy day. I’ll be back later this week to tell you all about it.

A Death in The Family


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Many of you know that we’re not just an iguana family, though admittedly, Dorian does rule the roost. As with many reptile parents I’ve met over the years, there’s a weird “collecting” nature to these special pets. I’ve honestly never met a snake owner with just one snake. Maybe it’s because reptiles are contained, fashioned away in glass tanks and mesh screens, they’re just more collectible in a way. A collection of two corn snakes, a ball python, and a blood python morph, could easily fit in one room and three mid-sized tanks. I’m not sure a Samoyed, a bulldog, and two calicoes could say the same.

As such, our little guys and gals all know each other. Dorian makes sure he does his rounds and let’s them all know he’s in charge. He’ll walk into someone’s room, say the beardie room, and headbob at everyone to show he’s the top dog. For the most part, they get along with him, despite a healthy dose of fear/respect that keeps everyone in check. Being that he’s a pretty placid and easy-going guy,  we’ve never once worried that Dorian would hurt the beardies, frilly, or our female iguana Cali.

We recently lost two of our beardies, Irwin, our nine year old dragon who lived with Amber, and Johan, one of two baby dragons I acquired in October. While Dorian barely knew Johan existed, he was well acquainted with Irwin. They were quite chummy in fact, cuddle buddies and banana sharers. Well not at the same time. No one should get between Dorian and his bananas without risking bodily harm!

When my first beardie died of liver cancer, Dorian let me know he was unhappy about me presumably causing her absence. He used to walk back into her room, look at her empty tank, and then headbob at me as if I were the guilty party. Each time it happened, it was like tearing open a freshly healed wound.

Worse yet, was my inability to answer why she was gone. All Dorian sees is an empty tank, so it must be my fault. Though I often tend to overpersonify him, the truth is his little reptilian brain can only process so much, and certainly not something as abstract as death. I wish it could, it would prove cathartic to me and empathetic for Dorian.

It’s a sad reminder as a vet once told me that we invite these special animals into our lives for a short time, and we know our time with them is short. We either accept this and accept the pain that comes with it, or we don’t bring them into our lives to begin with. 

As much as I hate to say it, I gladly choose the pain. The joy and memories of the short time we have together will always be greater than the loss.

Ig-pending Doom


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So the movers are coming tomorrow, well, today actually. Well, in perhaps as little as five hours, and all hell is gonna break loose here in Tuscaloosa. No, not how you might think. Everything for my impending move to Canton, Ohio is at the ready.

Most of my things have been packed up since we moved to Alabama in May of last year. Amber had been offered a fantastic opportunity at the University of Alabama, and with a tenure track line at an R1 institution, she’s ain’t goin’ anywhere for the foreseeable future. I followed her down here of course, then finished my dissertation in July, defended in November, and graduated in December. We kept everything still boxed up even when I moved to New Jersey, because I took very little there with me.

So now that I’ve accepted a position at Walsh University, I’ve also become a first time home owner, hence the need for the move. The problem is, and the need for a Threat Level Orange communication briefing, is that among the hustle and bustle of this morning’s move, a certain burly iguana is going to lose his home. Like the twister  roaring across the dusty Kansas plains, iggy’s home shall be picked up and taken away in a swirling vortex of professional movers.

Alas, there will be an Elmira Gulch to blame. While angry at me in a confused swirl of feelings of abandonment and resentment, I know with relative certainty that my wife shall be the target of his ire. “You did this!” his little reptile brain will surmise, and he’ll bristle and puff up like the Wizard’s hot air balloon as he ditched Dorothy and her sad sack trio of worthless friends behind.

Since iguanas are such creatures of habit, it’s understandable. Anything out of order or off schedule may cause a problem. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the teeth and claws, you’d excuse me for saying that iguana temper tantrums are downright adorable. Dorian will swell right up, and stomp around the house like the Stay Puft Man through the Upper West Side. You can hear him in other rooms of the house with this thump-click cadence as he saunters around, looking for humans to communicate his displeasure.

When you talk to him, he’ll give you a serious head bob, letting you know, he’s not happy, and there’s nothing you can do about it – which is partially true. If you carefully pick him up and set him on the bed, the comfiness of the bedding will assuage the savage beast, but only after he gives you a bit more of a peace of his mind. It’s funny because, really, that’s all it takes. Imagine if we could get the Donald to stop his derisive candor and hurling of epithets just by offering him a comfy chaise lounge?I’m not sure it would help his electability, but it may endear him to the iguana vote.

Dorian’ll also avoid eating for a while, before eventually hunger wins out. The more he can avoid Amber’s stare, the quicker that protest is broken. “I don’t want her watching me eat!” Ordinarily, if he really gets in a huff, his appetite will increase, and he’ll go through two or three bowls before the end of the date. Funny how a temper tantrum makes you hungry, huh?

A Long Cuddle Cures All


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I figured it out. Dorian just needed a hug. Well, not just any hug. He needed a Dad hug.It’s something that people don’t often associate with reptiles due to an unfamiliarity with them as pets, and with a media representation that suggests they are only kept by loners, weirdos, or super villains. What other creature could love someone like Franz Sanchez in License to Kill except for an iguana? I don’t think this is an active conspiracy, as if casting reptiles and their keepers in a poor light is part of some master plan (well… maybe Wayne Purcell’s) . As a result, people always say something like, “Oh, I didn’t know reptiles were so (a) full of personality, (b) friendly!”

Except that in reality, iguanas are amazingly loyal creatures. Researchers have found that iguanas bond with their humans best when the ages of 6-10 years old. This is when they begin to emotionally respond and form a empathetic relationship with their people-parents. We’d never question that bonding with a dog; perhaps it’s that dogs bond at a much faster rate. Cats may never do so, but we recognize when they do. Even chickens and other poultry do, so why is it so hard to imagine reptiles doing so?
Truth is, it’s not. Dorian has shown a great deal of seperation anxiety, and when I left him for six months in Alabama as I worked in Hoboken, those feelings of angst and anger boiled over in the little fella. He was just a bundled grumpiness and flat out resentment.


I finally got a chance to cuddle with him, and let him know that I was back as a full time dad. I would suggest that like nearly every creature, Dorian wants to feel safe, or at least the perception of feeling safe. As humans we’re no stranger to the perception being as powerful as the reality of safety, how else would you explain the TSA? For Dorian, there’s no place as safe as being held by me, and after a few days of grumpiness, that overwhelming desire to be safe superseded his feelings of resentment. Funny how that happens.

Since we got some time together, it’s been a much calmer household. Dorian is back to his regular routine, bossing other lizards around, couch surfing, and being our normal sweet grumpy butt. Who knew all it took was a nice long cuddle?

Separation Ig-xiety


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Having just finished teaching the  spring semester at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, I was finally able to move back to Alabama this past weekend. Though I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach at Stevens, manoman, did I miss being married! Being in an adjunct position, I couldn’t really afford to bring a surly green iguana to the Mew York metropolitan area. Beyond the cost and the fact that iguanas are banned in the five boroughs, I just couldn’t justify uprooting Dorian from the life of comfort and leisure he has in Tuscaloosa.

Iguanas are creatures of habit. They a routine, and if there’s any deviations in their daily schedule, you can bet your heinie you’re gonna hear about from a ticked off tropical lizard.

In addition, Dorian has a bit of separation anxiety. We don’t know what he remembers about his former life, but we think this may have been a by-product of the abuse he suffered. Maybe his previous owner left him alone for days at a time, we just don’t know. What we do know is that the research tells us iguanas form their bonds between the ages of 6-10 years old. That’s shortly after I rescued Dorian.

In 2011, I spent the summer in Ireland on a study abroad trip. Despite the length of time away and my drastic haircut, Dorian was so happy I was back, he didn’t care I was gone. When I visited Amber in February, Dorian was a bundle of mixed emotions. He ecstatic to see me, but irate that I left him with her. The first night, he was really angry; headbobbing at me every few minutes, stiffening the tendon on his back every time I touched him, even puffing up his jowls as if to say, “You must be punished, Sir!” The next day though, he was melty butter.

This time, however, the beast was not quelled in his righteous anger and quantifiable indignence. Sure, he’s looks all cute and cuddly in the picture below, but inside is a whirling dervish of anxious hatred and thoughts insidious betrayal. 

Gone was the conflict between love for me as iggy dad and pure spite of vengeance. All that remained was an overwhelming desire to maim the offending party, in other words, me. I got a full mouth gape, something I hadn’t seen since breeding season in 2010. At one point yesterday, he even tried to bite me, something he’s never done before, even after I first adopted him. And don’t get me started on the hissing and puffing up, it looks like someone let loose an overfilled pool toy iguana to periodically let air loose in our house. Combine that with the weaponized poop, the tail whipping, and the alligator rolls, he’s not a lot of fun to handle. He is just one pissed off lizard right now. I’m not sure when he’ll re-adjust to having me around, but I hope it’s soon. Ambers starting to get worried Dor’s gonna snack my hand soon. If he does, you can be sure I’ll right about it here.

Koala-fied for Halloween


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I admit I’m a little nuts. Society already views me as such, what with owning a large reptile, and the general indifference to people’s shock and concern that we treat him just as they do with their feline and canine friends. Some honestly find my nonchalance at Dorians normality disturbing,”Wait… You mean he just walks around your house?!” Yes, yes he does.

It should come as no surprise then that we look at these situations and commonly held attitudes and behaviors with a healthy dose of contempt and subversion. Who hasn’t been assaulted with photo after photo of Muffincups the bichon dressed as Dorothy Gale in furry four-legged miniature? Or how about Pompom the Pomeranian as a pampered princess? Fine. Great. Seen it. Been there done that. 

How about an iguana as an adorable cuddly koala? No? Well, I have just the image for you. While in Phoenix for the Association of Internet Research’s annual conference, I happened upon a local ASPCA affiliated pet store. I found my way to an assortment of costumes on a display, and the koala immediately jumped out to me as something my wife would want to dress Dorian in … like … NOW. 

Needless to say, I dressed him in the costume and snapped these pics for Amber as she was at FemRhet. Though he wasn’t happy about it, Dorian was a good sport in allowing me to crawl down on the floor and take his photo multiple times. Better yet, he walked around as a koala for the better part of the afternoon. I nearly cried laughing at how silly it was. 

Oh, I can’t wait for next year!