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.