Friday, December 18, 2009

The Jesus of the Broken Arm, or, Merry Christmas!

In my exuberance over the Christmas season, I have been enthusiastically exploring the treasures my folks have collected over the years. In doing so, I have done my part to help pare down the number of holiday-themed decorations that make their way out of boxes for a couple of weeks each year.

So in the thrall of downsizing, I have cleared out quite a few glass ornaments that really needed to go. Then I checked my stocking to see if Santa had come early. Lapped some water from the tree just to see if the pine infusion tasted any different than my usual mud puddle or pond water and cleared out a couple more ornaments for good measure.

Having thoroughly examined the secular side of the holiday in our home, it was time to turn to the religious. Hey, what's an Advent wreath but some twigs tied together in a not-so-Gordian knot, and some candles that seemed to yearn for a chomp or two?

But when I took a swipe at the Virgin Mary, Mom had had enough. So she sat me down and told me the whole story about how the Jesus with the Broken Arm came to be part of our family.

It was first grade, Catholic school. The nuns perhaps had received a new Nativity set as a pre-Christmas gift from some parishioners. When they unboxed their old things in anticipation of decorating their dreary 50's era residence, they must have realized that the Jesus with the Broken Arm had to go.

So they held a raffle. The child who bid the most money would win the four-piece set, which included the Jesus (left arm partially amputated), a real wood manger with real straw, and a Mary and Joseph, all in traditional garb, beautifully painted.

The children were marched, in line, past the set to examine it, then seated at their desks to create secret bids.

It was rare for Mom to have any money at all in those days, so on the tiny piece of paper provided by those frugal nuns, she wrote the amount that nestled in her plaid wool jumper pocket: 5 cents.

Either the other kids rejected the poor Jesus for his disability, or they were more cash-poor than Mom, because hers was the only bid. So Jesus came home with Mom that day, and has been part of her treasures ever since. After Christmas, the nuns retaliated by forcing everyone to eat leftover fruitcake (think of the starving children in Africa!), but that's another story.

I felt a bit embarrassed after this revelation, but my swipe did have the consequence of making Mom realize that in her haste to decorate, she put Mary on the wrong side of the manger: the right side, rather than the left. Any good Catholic child knows that Mary is always on the left side of the altar. That's where the girls had to sit when they went to church in Catholic school; boys on the Joseph side on the right.

Now, with the Holy Family in proper order, I can rejoice in being back on the nice list.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tuckerby the Steadfast

I prefer not to.

Go out in the rain, that is. Or snow. Or hail. If I hear even a molecule of precipitation falling upon the roof or dripping through the downspout, I’m in for the day.

Mom slogged through much of Melville, starting with Bartleby the Scrivener, and was fond of employing that antagonist’s signature line, so it’s fitting that I be influenced by him. However, I am not completely under his thrall.

Bartleby, if you remember, starved to death—his preference. I am stubborn enough to stand stockstill in the street even with Mom throwing pieces of ham in front of me, a la Hansel and Gretel (although the intent was to get me moving forward, not to retrace our steps, and thank goodness she didn’t bring bread crumbs). But I am not so pertinacious that I would refuse a meal on principle. Unless it were served out in the rain.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My new toy

I've had lots of fun playing with my new hedgehog toy. It's some sort of puzzle, right? You attack it, gnaw at it, then bite at it some more until you finally get to that squeaky heart. Now that I've completed the challenge and thoroughly investigated its innards, I'm done with it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Extra lbs: more to love?

Here’s the latest word from the eminent Dr. S at VCA Westboro—shave off some of that poundage!

Wasn’t there something recently in the Times about how the company you keep affects all sorts of habits, like if you hang out with thin friends who exercise a lot, you'll start to be like them? Being a reverse psychologist, yesterday I took a hike with a new pal, Nenna. She’s a 2-year-old, like me, except that unlike me she is a Great Dane and 6 feet, 3 inches when fully extended—stretch limo length. And, she clocks in at 170 lbs. The way I figure it, she makes me look positively teeny!

To console myself after my ghastly weigh-in results (which were so alarming they had to be double-checked), I pulled out a few old notes from Kelly, who helps exercise me.

Tucker definitely has to be one of the smartest dogs I've ever met (and of course, one of the most handsome)
I like how everyone in the neighborhood knows his name and stops to talk to him on his walks. Despite his sneaky ways, he sure is lovable!!
He is a very unique dog. And very smart. (And very handsome).

Good times, good times.

We always zip over to Especially for Pets as an after-vet consolation prize. But this time,
instead of letting me snag some treats for myself, Mom made me pick out a new toy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dietary slip-up: cold pizza

So, the pizza was hanging out on the counter, waiting for Dad to pop it in the oven because Mom only will eat hot pizza...what a principessa!

I don't mind cold pizza. In fact, it was delicious.

Herein I detail my dietary slip-ups of the past month and hope that they haven't affected inordinately my restricted ingredient diet.

To wit:
1 rawhide bone, found on the street, in almost perfect condition. Not only nutritional, but you can play with it, too!

2 slices pizza with carmelized onions and fresh mozzarella (served cold)

1 or 2 milkbones scammed from my neighbor Hank (he loves me)

1 or 2 unidentified bones, also scammed, this time from the mail carrier (he's new and hasn't yet found my insistent charm to be annoying. The previous mail carrier, after I extracted my first bone payment, took to either 1) ignoring me or 2) avoiding me by turning down any available street just as I trotted by.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another lousy report card

“Another lousy report card.”

That’s what Mom said last week when Dad arrived home. He thought she was talking about my sister. No such luck; she’s too good a student. C’est moi, again.


Each week my pal Kelly writes up some notes on our time together, with her deft, often humorous touch. But lately the reports have become gloomier and gloomier. Mom no longer brags to her colleagues about the depth and perspicacity of these missives, as she did when they were brighter and filled with laudatory adjectives.

Here, in confession, are some excerpts. Most of my transgressions have to do with my famed obdurate streak.

“Do you have any suggestions for when his stubbornness gets that out of control? More and more he has been trying to be the one in charge.”

“I literally had to drag him up the hill…but we finally made it back home with the help of a few milkbones…Right now he is out back, napping in his dirt pile. Hopefully I can convince him to come back in.”

“I dumped out all my milkbones and was pulling pretty  hard, but he was not budging for anything or anyone…Basically I dragged him around for a half hour…at least he used up a lot of energy pulling in the opposite direction.”

“He is giving me that look of ‘I’ve had a successful day so far and would like you to give me that bag of milkbones because I am awesome and in charge.’”
“Thank goodness it didn’t rain today! (That was the first thing I thought about this morning—whether or not I would be able to get Tucker to go outside!) Alas, it didn’t go much better today than it went last week…I had to stand at the bottom of the stairs and open and close the cream cheese container a few times before he considered coming down…We only made it one house down the road. I used milkbones to convince him to go about 50 yards further, but that was the best I could do. He refused to budge.”

My report this week actually was decent. Now that I’m on triple secret probation, Mom says it’s time to turn things around. She’s almost as stubborn as I am, so it's going to be quite a battle.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I'm on a diet! Horrors!

So I went to my favorite vet, Dr. Schettino at VCA in Westboro, and he didn't weigh me even though I have become a bit rotund (Barry at the Wellesley Booksmith says he empathizes). My main squeeze understands the poundage issue because I've been on medication for a rather personal problem, and it made me extraordinarily hungry. Quite frankly, I've been eating a ton.

Anyway, the medication worked—great, right? Except that due to that success, Dr. S. thinks my problem was caused by an allergy. I'm on a severely restricted diet—severely! to see if that's the case. Mom cast a skeptical eye at me when he warned, "Everybody has to be on board with this. No table food. No stealing meatballs off the counter." Well, even though he didn't refer to the meatball extravaganza specifically, we all were thinking it.

Here's the deal: for two months, two months! only Royal Canin (what is with the lack of an "e" in that name?) potato and venison or potato and rabbit. Dr. S. gave me both to try out. Out of respect for my bunny brothers, Licorice and Nutmeg, I voted no on the rabbit combo. I am sure they will be most appreciative of my restraint.

Even my treats have to be made of the stuff, which, fortunately, I'm crazy about. Mom had to experiment with making them out of the wet food. Using a melon baller, she managed to form meatball-like treats (that is, if one stretches one's imagination exponentially), then set the convection oven a tad too high, but I loved them anyway. She's used to concocting finer stuff for Dreams du Dog, so I cut her some slack.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween howliday

Boy, did I need that extra hour of sleep last night! I had a whoop-de-do Halloween that knocked me out a bit early, still wearing my cape.

I surprised everybody by agreeing to wear a costume; moreover, I greeted our first trick-or-treater, a five- year-old in a dinosaur costume who fortunately has two beastly dogs of his own, with an all-out unearthly howl. It was awesome. Then, when he was leaving, I grabbed his dinosaur tail.

I’ve come a long way since my terrified encounter last year with my neighbor’s vampire lemonade-blood stand. Here I am acting rather vampirish myself toward an unsuspecting trick-or-treater.

Did you check out Tilly’s haunted house? I didn’t, but I took a long, slow look at the field full of life-size pumpkin people. It took me a while to get comfortable, but before long I was pulling off their wigs and hats with aplomb. Unmasked, or rather, unbewigged, they weren’t really that scary.

Friday, October 30, 2009

On the virtues of crate training...

“The $100 avoidance chamber” is what my parents call my home, sweet home within a home, to which I retreat when I wish. Only when I wish.

Here’s when I like to go in the crate:
1.    Say it’s raining, and they want to take me outside. I zoom into the crate, and that is that! Can’t catch me, I’m the stubborn-recalcitrant-obdurate man!

2.    Say it’s a great day, but I just don’t feel like going for a walk. The car is so much more fun! I’ll just pout in my crate, with the occasional whimper for effect, until someone gives in.

3.    I save the very back of the crate when it’s time for any poking or prodding with medicines or ear cleaning or whatever. It’s a great place to hide.

4.    Of course, I also like to head to the crate when it’s thundering and lightning outside, or when it’s the Fourth of July, or anywhere around there, when my neighbors mindlessly shoot off scary sounding stuff. Or any Saturday in the summer, when they rev, rev, rev, their motorcycles. Is that really necessary?

The idea was, mom and dad tell me, that I would use the crate as a cozy spot to retreat from the world.  I do, so what’s the problem? My home is my castle, moat and all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recalcitrant, obstinate, stubborn: defined

Thinking over my attributes, I feel it’s time to properly define the words recalcitrant, stubborn and obstinate, adjectives often used to describe moi. My sister, who soon will show her mastery of vocabulary on the SAT, is helping me with this task. Often confused with each other, these words really have important differences, which I shall illuminate with examples from personal experience. To wit:

Recalcitrant: a higher form of obstinacy: having an obstinately uncooperative attitude toward authority or discipline.
Example: Remember the time I gave my trainer a fat lip? I was being recalcitrant then. Sorry, Elaine! (not) Origin: from the Latin, kicking out with the heels (or head, in this case).

Obstinate: stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action despite attempts to persuade one to do so. Origin: Middle English, to persist.
Example: I am obstinate when I perform the Plop O’Doom. I know perfectly well where my people want me to go, and they object to my objection. Overruled!

Stubborn: showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, esp. in spite of good reasons to do so. Difficult to move or remove.
Example: Refusing to go out in the rain even though the need is rather desperate. Standing in the open doorway as if I am considering such an insane move is only to please my folks. They love fresh air!

The dictionary notes, in explaining the differences between stubborn and obstinate, that “dogged can be either positive or negative, implying both tenacious, often sullen persistence and great determination.” I feel triumphant!

Bonus words!
I forgot about these two synonyms: intractable and obdurate. Obdurate: a stubborn resistance marked by harshness and lack of feeling (moi? Au contraire!); intractable: stubborn in a headstrong sense, difficult for others to manage (oui!).

The dictionary cautions that “you probably don’t want to be called pertinacious, which implies persistence to the point of being annoying or unreasonable.” Well, I probably was called pertinacious today by my very well educated dog walker, poor thing. I might have tested her patience just a tad too much. Things did not go well. More later.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Swello yellow T

Make custom t-shirts at

So, Mom went to Nantucket and checked out the trademarked Nantucket reddishy pink togs from Murray's, then the Nantucket paw print bowls and pet beds (also in Nantucket red) from Cold Noses, and thought, why doesn't Wellesley have a trademarked color?

Since Wellesley is so, well, Swell, the perfect color is gold, of course. Swello Yellow. Something that weathers well. Mom's still looking around for a  doggy t for me. If you'd like to order one, send her a note.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Houdini reincarnated?

If Houdini came back in another form, would it be that of a Walker Foxhound? Specifically, one named Tucker, age 2? Moi?

I knew what was coming up during my visit to the vet, so I wriggled out of my harness. “He’s a regular Houdini!” said Larissa.

Just that morning Mom had made the same observation. She put the Hokey Pokey Harness on me because the vet is opposed to the prong. Maybe she forgot that I Houdini’d out of the harness the last time we went out for a post-vet treat. I pulled the same stunt on a recent walk with my pal Kelly, who had to dump her whole pile of Milk-Bones to entice me back. Three times? That was too many for Mom.

So she marched me right over to Especially for Pets, which conveniently is located next door to the vet. While chowing through two lamb and rice sticks and associated crumbs, I turned up my considerably long nose at the purple so-called non-escape harness, so we’re off to Sudbury to get the hunting green version. No matter the color, this one looks like a creative challenge I can’t wait to try.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy birthday, Wellesley Booksmith!

Wellesley Booksmith is having a 10th birthday party! The independent bookseller and its pack of smart, funny and dog-loving people is so important to our town that it's hard to remember when they weren't around. And I for one am so glad that they are (love those free treats and all of the attention I get!)

Lots of fun events—storytimes, cake, music, raffles—will mark the day—that's Saturday, Oct. 17— but my favorite of course is the special 10th anniversary canine treat provided by my favorite canine centered shop, Tails Doggie Boutique.

Be there!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rescued: missing ID tag!

Just when it feels like everyone’s running around acting selfishly, I have evidence to prove that some people feel it’s important to do something nice for others.

So, I lost two ID tags within two weeks. The second one was just like Sparky’s, made out of long-lasting stainless steel, heart shaped of course, that had to be special ordered. I do a lot of shaking (just got to get that handsome skin to settle right on my bones) and Dad hadn’t fastened the loop properly, so off went that new tag—somewhere.

We figured it was lost at one of my favorite places, the Lake Waban path (even though it sometimes makes Mom cranky to go there because nearly all the pups are off leash despite the signs saying DOGS MUST BE LEASHED). You know how people think rules don’t apply to them? That drives Mom crazy (and me too—I love to romp around like a wild thing!) But despite looking and looking, sniffing and sniffing, we couldn’t find the tag.

This week, faith in humanity has been restored. Some really super nice and thoughtful people not only found my tag, they got out an envelope, stamp and even wrote a note, and mailed it promptly to our family. That’s a bunch of extra steps for which not everyone would take time, and we all really appreciate that effort. If I ever become lost, I definitely want to get home. I mean, I know I’m famous, but just in case. Thanks, great people!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Handsome, fabulous me—and Wordle!

Have you ever tried Wordle? It makes cool-looking word clouds that weight the size of the words depending on how often they are used in a text.

So it makes sense for me, who is often called handsome, with beautiful markings, and large, to try out a word cloud on my blog to see which themes come up most often. Did I say I was handsome, beautiful and large? So large, in fact, people who are stymied by my handsome, beautiful (and large) looks ask if I am a giant beagle. Let's try out a Wordle and see what it looks like.

Speaking of words, did I mention I am stubborn, obstinate and recalcitrant? And very, very handsome? Detailed definitions to come.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Newton Centre harvest fair today!

Mom is singing with her new choral group, Basically Broadway, around 2ish in Newton Centre at the city's Harvest Fair. I helped her practice last night, especially with the low parts and the "doo-do, doo-do, doo-do, doo-do" sections on Can't Take My Eyes Off of You. I have to say, I sounded pretty good!

That reminds me of one of my favorite books, The Dog Who Sang at the Opera by Marshall Izen, based on the true story of a Russian wolfhound who insisted on sharing the great stage at the Met. I love the book, but I prefer the original cover illustration which had the hound front and center. We hounds, not only do we love to warble, we crave attention!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

E-mail, not p-mail

Just one of the many recent email fan letters I have received:

Dear Cousin Tucker:

I heard about you from my parents and I just had to read your blog!  I must
say you are very handsome and I like your sad eyes and big nose (just like mine).
You seem to be quite an adventurer too!
I am very jealous about your meatball extravaganza—I only smell my mom’s meatballs and I gain weight!  You know how it is at my age (10 years old already, can you believe it?)
I hope to meet you sometime soon, but for now I’ll send this photo.
Cousin Pazzo

Thanks, Pazzo! I know your name means crazy in Italian. Good to know I'm not the only goofy one in the family. Ciao, bella!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Plop O'Doom explained

I have earlier referred to the Plop O’Doom, of which I am a master, and here I will explain it for those who would like to attempt this difficult, yet highly effective, maneuver. The Plop O’Doom can be simply defined as a contrivance to gain control. In its essence, one stops and plops until one gets one’s way.

The Plop can be performed anywhere. It has physical, emotional and metaphysical components. At its most masterful execution, the Plop is massive, heavy and portentous. With consistent practice, The Plop can be learned, but to take it to its most immovable state, it must become metaphysical.

The physical component: settle down into a large and comfortable sitting plop.

The emotional component: stone faced. Do not appear ruffled or in any kind of a hurry. Appear intent on your planned destination, irresponsive to any commands, pleas or entreaties.

Note: The mastery of this emotional component is essential to take the Plop to its most doomful level. Think heavy. Think bulky.

Now, the metaphysical. Become one with the ground, cemented in, or better yet, melted.
Remain in this welded state until convenient, or you become bored. Once you have downgraded your plop to a simple sit, proceed in the direction in which you were originally headed, which is opposite of that which your handler intended. One can always re-employ the Plop when necessary. Masters can perform it at will.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My main squeeze

Medically speaking, is Dr. Edward Schettino at VCA Westboro. He's smart, patient, explains everything and has a great sense of humor, which often is necessary during my frequent visits! I love, love, love him. I also really like Larissa and Tania and everyone else there, who all think I am both handsome and adorable. They don't seem to mind my stubborn streak at all. In fact, I love everything about VCA, especially leaving. That's when I head over next door to Especially for Pets for a bone, which Mom hopes will entice me into the wayback of the wagon.

I really think I'm getting too old for the wayback. First, I can't open my own window. Second, because of the pet "barrier" (the word must be used loosely, just as in the "squirrel-proof" bird feeder outside the kitchen window) the options for curling up in a cushy corner are nil. Major bummer. It's a long drive back and forth, and a hard-charging pup like me needs his rest.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On top of spaghetti...

OK, so it was rigatoni, and the meatballs—there were about a dozen—weren't on top of anything, yet.

Dad left a pot of sauce and meatballs on the back burner tonight while he went out to shoot a few hoops. Mom wasn't home, having taken my sister to her singing audition. I was feeling a bit abandoned, you might say. Dad usually gives me a bit of meatball for a special treat, so I figured, why not help myself?

Not sure how I'll feel tomorrow, but they sure tasted good. And my family? Well, they had to make a quick run up to Tilly's for dinner. Their chicken parm tastes just like homemade, or so they said. Somehow, I was too full to try it.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Had a super playdate with a new friend. Bella's eight months old, part black lab, part hound (love her for that!). She was adopted just last month through Petfinder.

Anyway, we ran around like the maniacs we are while our folks sat on the patio in the sun and gave us treats whenever we seemed droopy. We showed off our tricks, bayed at the neighbors and generally caroused. Fun, fun, fun. Thanks, Bella!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Foxhound meetup!

I'm sort of famous around my neighborhood and beyond, which is both a good and a bad thing.

The great thing is being recognized around town. Today, Mom was walking me, and a woman rolled down her minivan window. "Is that Tucker?" she asked. The same phenomenon occurred while Mom was shopping at her favorite gourmet grocery, Tilly and Salvy's Bacon Street Farm. In fact, it is the only grocery she deigns to enter. I was just hanging out, hoping to go in, and and, bingo, someone recognized me.

There's a downside, too, of course. First, it's really easy to tell which dog is doing the baying. At least I don't bark like so many of my neighbors attempt to do (those incessantly yippy creatures). But it's a sure thing that I can be heard many, many, streets away. "Oh, yep, that's Tucker," another neighbor says he thinks every a.m., around 7 or so. Nothing like a good deep bay to clear away that morning frogginess, uh huh. You should hear it ring right across Lake Waban, waking up those Wellesley girls.

Mom always was glad there was another Dalmatian in the neighborhood, just to serve as a body double. Truly, though, she was offended anyone could have mistaken the other, far less handsome one, for le grand Sparky. There really was no comparison.

So I was thinking, it might be good to team up with some other foxhounds for a bit of a romp.

Looking for: energetic foxhound (is there any other kind) to play, play, play for a good hour or so. Remember, must be kind to rabbits, and, no jumping in the fish pond.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


So, if I hadn't chewed my toy bin to pieces, my sister never would have made this cool basket for her bike, right?

One day I was bored, just staring at my toy box. I didn't want to play with all the old stuff, so I thought, hey, why not play with the box
itself? It was wire-framed, with a fabric covering—flowers–not really my style.

My sister is
so resourceful. The bin looks much better now that it's laced with ribbons, and it's functional, too. Martha Stewart would be proud: it's a good thing.

P.S. Martha, Mom is thrilled about today's news that you're teaming up with
Home Depot. While you're into teaming, how about teaming up with Dreams du Dog? We realize you're partial to the Daily Wag, but change can be a good thing, too.

Psst...She noticed that my sister's bike basket is way more creative than the flower trimmed, store-bought version featured in a craft how-to on your website. Remember, necessity is the mother of invention!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I did it my way, or, umwelt prevails

If you're interested in learning about a dog's perspective...wait, that's why you're reading my blog! However, if you'd like something with a bit more of a scientific gloss, you might try “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know” by Alexandra Horowitz. Today's Times Book Review features the book, and the Times website has an excerpt from the first chapter.

I like the part about the raincoat. Me, I hate going out in the rain. If I even hear water gurgling through the downspout, it's back to my beanbag. No, thanks. That's why I moved up here from the South, remember? Fluffy bed, name it.
But no raincoat for me.

Sparky loved to dress up. To put a Horowitzian spin on that phenomenon, it wasn't because he thought he looked dashing in his various outfits, but to please mom and dad. He knew there would be treats and hugs if he put on the
bowtie, or the tutu, or the firefighter costume.

The word of the day, then, is
umwelt. Look at things from my point of view. After all, is there any other way?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

And they lived happily ever after...

In honor of Alison Morris on her wedding day, I post these adorable pix of the Booksmith bear (with moi, of course). Alison is the fabulous children's book buyer at the Wellesley Booksmith. She's incredibly smart, witty and fun, and she always pretends she's glad to see me. Alison's the kind of girl who can turn rain into sunshine with her smile, and I'm sure she's doing that today. The photos were taken on one of my visits by mom, but cropped by Alison and tagged with these clever titles (she is a born storyteller):

The Bear's Distressing Secret

The Bear's Shocking Secret

All the best to Alison and Gareth for much happiness!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tucker meetup

News writers hunting for charming local stories have lately been going for the tried-and-true: mining data for conversation-starting topics, in this case, dog names. The latest piece, which ran yesterday, evaluates names in Wellesley, Natick and Newton. The trend nationwide, apparently, is to name dogs after people. Seems like there's something wrong here...I'd go about it the other way.

Here's what the experts say:

"People are choosing human names to give their pets relevant places in their household. By making the name personal, or even a person’s name, they’re establishing their pet’s place as a genuine member of the family, too," notes Veterinary Pet Insurance after an analysis of 450,000 pet names.

I learned that 23 other Tuckers make Wellesley their domain, and I would like to meet every single one of them. (Out of 2,702 registered dogs, Tucker is the 6th most popular name, according to data from license registrations.)

Hmmph. And Mom extensively checked the US census data before naming her human child.

Presumably Tucker the Shih-Tzu was napping while his mom, Fran, was browsing last week at my favorite boutique, Tails (of course), because Fran was sans canine. This tiny Tucker was so named because he likes to tuck his head into his favorite person and snuggle.
I'd like to meet him!

In our family,
we hew to dog-like names rather than people names, although we do know of one human Wellesley Tucker boy. So, does he have a dog name, or do I have a people name?

The Wellesley data shows that naming pets after drinks, both alcoholic and otherwise, also is pup-ular.
Our family is opposed to pumping commercial products, which is why we rarely mentioned Sparky's pre-adoption moniker of—shh—Dr. Pepper. Horrors!

Apparently, we're bucking the trend.
If the number of beds one can sleep on in a household is any indication of one's place in the family, it's a wrap for me--humans only seem to only be assigned one, that is, if they get along. I claim: an early evening nap spot (bed #1), dead of night sleeping spot (crate), early morning sleeping spot (bed #2), late morning sleeping spot (bed #3) get the idea.

My sister said that my especially gorgeous ears and markings led her to think I needed a name beginning with the letter T. Given that my pre-adoption assignment was Bandit 1 (or Bandit 2, I'm not sure which) and I was fortunate enough to escape a hunting fate, I didn't especially mind the name change. Bandit is a rather apt description for my behavior, although I'm more of a steal it, chew it, and leave it lying around type of thief.

So Tuckers, let me know where you are, and we can trade name tales.

Gear review

For those of us who remain rather, say, undisciplined despite rigorous training, gear is a necessity.

For the record, I am the holder of two graduation certificates, and my trainer, Elaine Stern, even kissed me while handing over the diplomas. She doesn't do that for just anybody.

However, gear still is important. For example, someone set off a firecracker during an evening stroll in Newton. I was a bit startled. OK, Mom says I bolted— in the direction of the car, but a street, and a bicyclist, were in the way. Fortunately, I was in my harness, saving the bicyclist from being hit by a canine missile.

Needless to say, I have tried it all (the gear, that is).

The results:

Gear: Harness and leash with handle (which I am modeling above)
Control: Good
Plop O'Doom allowance: Medium—requires a push and a pull to outmaneuver
Restraint: Good, depending on your viewpoint
Chafing: Good, except during the POD outmaneuver
Vet approval: Yes
Ease of use: You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out...
Public acceptability: Good

Gear: Prong collar
Plop O'Doom allowance: Maximum (good for me!)

Restraint: Good
Medium to Poor

Vet approval: No
Ease of use: Good
Public acceptability: Poor (you can see why)

Gear: Gentle Leader halter (the one that goes over your nose and behind your ears)
Control: Poor—like trying to stop a freight train with a ribbon
Restraint: Ditto (although it worked beautifully for Sparky)
Plop O'Doom allowance: Maximum (excellent!)
Chafing: No more nose hair!
Ease of use: Medium
Public acceptability: Thinks it's a muzzle

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The power of love

Check out this story from Politico on how much Sen. Kennedy's Portuguese water dogs will be missed on Capitol Hill—and the ruckus they sometimes caused!

Best Buds

Beamish: cute Irish girl-next-door. Known her for years.
Age: not polite to ask about your elders
Dislikes: thunderstorms
Likes: almost everyone
Can be found: taking a dip in the pond

Leroy: shaggy co-proprietor of Tails Doggie Boutique, Wellesley
Age: 5
Vice: sneaks out to snag ice cream cones at White Mountain Creamery
Likes: to snuggle with his best girl, Noreen
Job: official greeter at Tails, unofficial dog mayor of Wellesley Square

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The quick brown fox...

My sister has been cleaning and repairing her antique Hermes 3000 seafoam green manual typewriter, so I've been thinking qwert-ily while slumbering with my new toy.

New word: pangram. It's a phrase that uses all the letters of the alphabet.

Sample: "Think it's time to nap," snuffled the foxhound pup as, quivering with joy, he snuggled into his jazzy white beanbag on the library carpet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My senator and me

What better way to honor our dedicated senator than by learning about how he went about his work? Ted Kennedy’s charming book, My Senator and Me: A Dog’s-Eye View of Washington, D.C., written from the perspective of his Portuguese water dog, Splash, is an insider’s view of a typical day in the halls of Congress.

An excerpt from a touching reminiscence by the book’s editor, Cheryl Klein:

“We learned a lot about the Kennedys and Washington life on that trip, but the most important thing we discovered was the deep devotion between the Senator and Splash. When Senator Kennedy stood up, Splash rose as well. When the Senator walked, Splash followed six inches behind his heels. And when he sat down again, the dog settled in by the chair, his head on his paws until the next moment his master might require his attendance. I had never seen a dog so attached to a human being, and as the Senator reached down to scratch Splash’s ears, it was clear the devotion was mutual.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy birthday to me!

I'm two years old now, and still have lots of the puppy stuff going on.

For my birthday, I received a new fox, but I don't understand why no one congratulates me when I sit there and bay at it. I mean, isn't that the point of foxhunting? Someone's supposed to come and think it's a big deal that I found the fox, right?

Anyway, Dreams du Dog provided a cake. Yummy!

Barney the beagle came over for a celebratory playdate. It was cut a little short, because he discovered our rabbits. I tried to make him understand that Nutmeg and Licorice are part of my pack, but he didn't get it. I sent him over some crumbs after my party was over. Here he is jumping into the camera lens.

Then Gunnar the German shorthaired pointer popped by for some cake, but he was distracted by a ball in my yard. Seriously I ate my piece and his, too.

Wanted: playmate, young, any size. I: provide the fenced yard and fresh water. You: have lots of energy and promise to not try to eat the rabbits. Also, no jumping in the fish pond.

Say cheese

Conducting my due diligence on Bo Obama in hopes of a meet and greet while he's in my home state, I learned that His Bo-ness recently had his portrait done. It's very nice, as my grandma would say, meaning she doesn't really like...whatever it is.

There's nothing not to like about the portrait, I guess—the White House in the background is a stunner—but I was expecting something a bit more impressionistic. The official dog portrait is actually a photo, I realized.

My brother Sparky's portrait, of course, was done in oils. Both of them. Natick artist Wendy Hodge set up a photo shoot at Wellesley College, then painted her two gorgeous subjects—my sister and brother. The paintings made great gifts for Dad.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bo-in' crazy

Everyone on the Vineyard is a bit Bo Obama crazy this week as the First Dog indeed will have a real summer vaca—just across the Sound from the home of his godparent, Sen. Ted Kennedy, no less.

Maybe a sail on the Mya for His Bo-ness?

Me, I might catch a ride in the kayak.

Bo is not the only one with presidential bragging rights. As for moi, I am descended from the first First Dog. Southern gentlemen like me always are conscious of their heritage.

Here’s the short version: our first president was enamored of dogs (Go, George!) and interested in their breeding. When the Marquis de Lafayette sent George W. (the first, best, and should have been only, that is) a gift of seven French hounds, the prez crossed them to create the all-American Foxhound—now the state dog of the Commonwealth of Virginia! (although the Rev. Robert Brooke is credited with the first pack of foxhunting hounds—in 1650, according to Mark Derr’s A Dog’s History of America.)

My family assiduously looked into the genealogy for a family name for me, but Sweetlips just wouldn’t do.

Check out the MV dog parade held to honor Bo the First. And Bo, let us know whether the island’s pet friendly digs are worth the $35,000 per week pricetag.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Swell blog

A big, baying thank you to The Swellesley Report for featuring us. Our family loves that swell blog for the latest pertinent, fun, usable Wellesley news that you rarely find in the local paper. That's not a knock at the paper--Mom made her living (barely) too long from print journalism not to appreciate it--just a nod at the uniqueness of blogs. The Townsman still is necessary reading, but we always check TSR to make sure we haven't missed anything.


Sorry...can't hear you

Mom's #1 pet peeve: untrained off leash dogs. The untrained part applies to lots of them. So does the off leash part. Ever notice that most dogs don't come the moment they are called? I mean, why would they? First, they run up to you, sniff around and maybe nip, shake their wet selves all over your mom and maybe jump on her. Once they're finished doing whatever they wanted to do, then, OK, they might head back to their folks.

Somehow that counts as obeying voice commands. Hey, I don't even pretend to! Guess that's why I'm always on a leash. Except when I'm careening around within the safety of my six-foot fence, of course.

So Mom was glad to see the Fall '09 WellesleyWeston Magazine's helpful article on nearby hikes with your pup. Top on the list of essentials is obedience training. #3 is a leash: "even if your dog is fully trained to voice commands, sometimes leashes are required by law, or need to be used as a common courtesy, so have one handy at all times."

Wish more Wellesley walkers would take that advice. One human once said to me, "Aren't you a good dog, obeying the leash law!" while her own pup ran wildly around in a posted on-leash area. Hmmmm...a leash is not my choice, but I guess it's for my own safety. I even gained a free treat from the Wellesley College police last week while I was walking around Lake Waban on leash!

Interestingly, Needham has been looking to create townwide regulations on whether dogs can have access to public playing fields. The Needham Times says officials closely watched the Perrin Park debate over restricting dog use in the multi-use park. Some townspeople are thinking of creating a real, fenced dog park. Yay!

Not sure what the leash law is in Wellesley? Check out Article 47 of the town bylaws.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Free Treats

Are outside Pinnacle Residential Properties on Washington Street. Fresh water, too. These treats are Milk-Bones, which I really love. (Sparky, ever the gourmet, turned up his considerably long nose at these, preferring his homemade baked treats from Dreams du Dog.) Being a down-home Southern hound, however, I could eat the whole bowl (and have tried to). Also, there's a really cute golden retriever at Pinnacle whom I would like to get to know. She gave me an excuse to start a new "Best Buds" column that's in the works, featuring pals around town.

Speaking of meeting girls, check out today's Times on pet owners in India advertising for mates for their male dogs. New matchmaking business model, anyone?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kennel "Vaca"

Just back from vaca at Southboro Kennels. Learned to bark. Loved it!

It's the kind of place where everyone greets you by name the minute you careen in the door. I was eager to see if any of my pals were there--no luck, but a beagle named Tucker. How cool is that! Rebecca and her staff are great--they even go through the doggie door with me! Guess they're practicing their limbo skills.

Pluses: outdoor pools, lots of love.
Minuses: 10 foot fence--no escaping.

I also have a great time at Linda's Doggie Playland in Westboro. The two owners, both named Linda, have two huge fields where you can play all day. I thought you could play all night, too, which is why I am currently on --ahem-- probation. The Lindas were not happy with me.

Linda's has an interview process, which is basically a free playdate if you look at it my way.

Pluses: play, play, play.
Minuses: you have to stop when the Lindas say so.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Paws for a Treat

Popped into Tails for a quickie mani-pedi. Saw Leroy, canine co-proprietor, and took a short nap in his crate. He didn't seem to mind. (Tails Doggie Boutique, 562 Washington St., 781.235.3435)

Cameron, his brother and Noreen's son, did my nails and said I was great. I needed the praise, because it was the kind of day in which I overstayed my visit everywhere I went.

Tails' gumball treat machine is amazing! All you have to do is sit in front of it and refuse to move. It's right at the entrance, so if anyone wants to go in or out...Leroy is demonstrating the proper technique here.

Speaking of immovability, I have this tactic I employ pretty much every time I go to the Wellesley Booksmith (another favorite stop in the Square). Go in the back. Sit immovably at the entrance. If someone fails to rush over with treat in hand, proceed directly to the bin behind the register. Raid.

Next, head to the front of the store to look for Barry. Pretend I have not already had a treat. Raid bin. Go out the front door. Repeat.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vote for Me!

Hey! I'm going to be in a calendar--if I receive enough votes. Does that sound like a scam? It's not--it's a fundraiser for the MetroWest Humane Society in Ashland, MA. OK, it's a shelter for cats--I happen to like cats, or I think I do, although none have let me near enough to really find out.

Here's the catch--you do have to pony up some funds--$1 a vote, $5 minimum. Good cause, tax deductible, handsome me...what more can I say.
Vote by August 16th!
Here's the link: MWHS Calendar Photo Contest

A Good Summer

Have you ever noticed that no one ever asks, "Having a good winter?" "Having a good spring?" "Having a good fall?" The obvious answer to the first: no, it's freezing and miserable; ditto to the second, and to the third, well, of course not, because winter is coming right up, or I'm stuck on the sidelines watching interminable soccer games in the freezing cold (pick your season).

Where does that come from, anyway, --"having a good summer?" What could be bad about summer, especially if you're a dog? (And by the way, I'm really bummed that the old adage, from a New Yorker cartoon caption, that "no one knows you're a dog on the Internet" is no longer true. According to Monday's New York Times, "On the old Internet, nobody knew you were a dog. On the new targeted Internet, they now know what kind of dog you are, your favorite leash color, the last time you had fleas and the date you were neutered." Ads Follow Web Users, and Get More Personal


"Having a good summer?" is totally the opposite kind of question from "How are you doing?" "How are you doing"" opens up the possibility that someone might say," Oh, I'm completely miserable!" (because it's winter, perhaps). There is no such honest response allowed to "having a good summer?" The only accepted response is, "Absolutely! We're just back from the Vineyard and off tomorrow to ---" (fill in another perfect destination).

Here's what could be bad about summer if you're a dog. Think about it: Are your pets having a good summer while you're off sailing at the Vineyard? Or are they toughing it out at some "pet resort" that is far from all-inclusive?

By the way, has anyone heard whether Bo Obama is headed to the Vineyard, too? I doubt it.

Here's how to tell if your folks are going on vacation without you:

First, are your rations becoming a bit thin? They might be trying to push down your weight—boarding prices vary by weight, not by volume of barking.

Second, have they dragged out that old bed of yours? Some old toys? Remember, kennels are not responsible for personal belongings that may have shifted during doggie playtimes. Your folks will choose only the oldest stuff to pack with you. Meanwhile, they've been shopping for their carefully weathered wardrobe for months.

Third, has your mom sounded desperate as she dials all the old reliable places, only to have them say, one after the other, "Sorry, we're booked!" ?Hey, maybe you'll get to head to the Vineyard after all.

One of my favorite responses to the "How are you" question is this one from the Rev. James A. Woods, dean of Boston College's Woods School of Advancing Studies. No matter when you meet him, he always says, "Extraordinary. Very extraordinary." And he is. And so is summer. As long as your folks are not on vacation.