Friday, November 26, 2010

All hounds on deck! A hunting we will go!

I was super excited when Mom told me about the Norfolk Hunt Club's Thanksgiving Day hunt. I had visions of me leaping over fences, scrambling through ditches and generally having a wild time. The thrill of the chase! The lure of the scent!

Alas, it was not to be. Though I did snag some dark turkey meat, the only hunting I did was for scraps near the oven while Mom was cooking. Then, my people left me savoring the tantalizing smell of meat while they hoofed it out to watch the hunt.

Well, I could have told them all about it. After all, in my six months in South Carolina, I had plenty of experience. At the end of the day, while country life has its charms, and I wouldn't mind sharing a sleeping space with my canine kin, a kennel just can't compare with a warm blanket. Or a bed all to oneself. Or turkey with gravy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grateful, or thankful? What's the difference?

So, I'm thinking of things I'm thankful for, this being Thanksgiving and all, and as I'm toting up all that's terrific in my life, I start wondering: am I thankful, or am I grateful? 

For example, am I thankful for the luxurious new Italian wool throw that my cugini sent, or am I grateful that they left so I can have my room back? Furthermore, did Mom feel embarrassed that I had chewed holes through the old throw?

I will elucidate. The definitions, then:
1. grateful: feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness. So I would be grateful for a new wool throw to wrap 'round my tired self. How terribly kind of them to think of me.
2. thankful: pleased and relieved (no kidding!) Obviously, I'm thankful that I have my room back.
And Mom will be embarrassed once my dear cugini see just how grateful, and thankful, I am. Cozy, too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

NY Times disses dogs twice on front page!

I'm steaming: two articles demeaning dogs on the Times' front page in the same day! Above the fold!

The first, Doubts Rise on Bedbug Sniffing Dogs, about dogs who mistake other bugs, such as rodent mites, for bedbugs, casts doubt on the ability of my sniffing cousins to detect these miniscule but horrible creatures.  What's the problem? asks Mom. Are dogs expected to identify each bug by genus and species?  Besides, any bug inside the house is a bad bug in Mom's book. Wouldn't you be grateful if a dog identified some rodent mites in your house?

Demeaning piece #2: a story, Cats Lap With Just Tip of the Tongue, trumpeting the amazing physical abilities of cats to lap up their milk. No kidding. The story even had stop-motion photographs to demonstrate this apparently incredible feat. Not only that, the author felt compelled to compare it with the water-lapping technique of dogs. Writer Nicholas Wade calls the sound accompanying my slurps "unseemly" and "crude." He even goes so far to write: "Cats, both big and little, are so much classier," attributing this judgment to several engineers.

Now, dear reader, do you really think these scientists made that evaluation in their report in Science? Or is the value judgment simply one made by this seemingly biased writer?

I went to the source, Science's November 11 issue.  I learned quite a bit about lapping kinematics, including "gravitational collapse," "pinch-off" and "mouth closure" factors, as well as the suction abilities of horses and sheep. This fascinating reading aside, the scientists do mention the "elegance" of the cat's method but make no invidious comparisons. Dogs scoop water into their mouths. And what, exactly, is wrong with that? Works for me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dog walking samaritan helps woman, builds community

Walking home from a small adventure, I was thinking about how lucky humans are to have dogs. We help them build community in ways they might not think of themselves.

As I was having this epiphany, I ran into Mom's friend Josh and a visitor from Portland, Oregon, where people are so friendly an Easterner might think they have an ulterior motive. Josh is a Natick selectman (whose dog Buddy was not a friend of Sparky's but anyway, that's how we know each other) who, among many other goals, is trying to make life easier for walkers. He'd like to see Wellesley's Crosstown Trail linked to Natick's aqueduct trail. So would I. I'd also like a trail behind the businesses on the west end of town so that I don't have to risk my life walking along Rte. 9 to get to the Crosstown Trail. I might get to meet more dogs, too.

But I digress. On our walk, we met up with my pal Brinkley and her mom, and decided to hike together. We came upon an older person who had fallen, and while Brinkley and I tried to alert the neighborhood, Mom helped her get up and brought her home. Another dogwalking friend, who lives around the corner, promised to check up on her.

That's just one example of how dogs build community. Without them, who would be out and about? How would humans meet each other?

BTW, just got some mail. Lost my I.D. last week at Lake Waban and received a phone call, then my tag with a note enclosed, wishing me happy trails and signed Willow H., with pawprint. I'm intrigued. Another community building opportunity—or could it be romance?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ah, Chicago! and all that jazz...

Can't sleep thinking about the verve, vibe and vivaciousness of Chicago, Wellesley High School's musical. It's fab, and if you can, snag the balcony seats that are released a half hour before the show (tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30; tomorrow afternoon at 2).

Maybe you'll be lucky enough to have a marabou feather float into your hand as you applaud the incredible efforts of cast and crew (my sister's the stage manager). That's what happened to Mom, who actually sewed those white satin, marabou-trimmed costumes that are in the closing number, Nowadays.

Here's where I made my entrance: why should Mom be the only one to try on those gaudy creations? While she was so doing, I leaped up for my turn. What was the problem? My paws were clean!

I was so excited that I needed a nap, immediately. Show business is exhausting!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall forward! Spring back!

My dad can be a tad contrary. It's mostly a good thing. Mom says that because he thinks differently than most, he's able to be creative. That's when she's feeling generous. Other times, she has been known to accuse him of having uncommon sense. Because after all, what's common about him?

So it makes perfect sense for our rather special family to be confused about Daylight Savings Time. Once, when Dad visited a nursing home, a resident asked which way to change the clock. "Fall forward," Dad said, and impressed by his great confidence, the poor woman ended up being two hours out of whack.

Twice a year, we rely on Grandma to set us straight. Hope she calls tomorrow! Of course, I have my own very reliable internal clock. But, just to support my dad, I'll use the confusion as an excuse to get some extra shuteye. Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Immense, mammoth, monumental—Giants!

Having just demolished, in less than 10 minutes, a bone deemed "Colossal" by its maker, I am generally in favor of things that are large.

So I salute the San Francisco Giants on their titanic win, and also would like to give a plug to my pal Dan Fost's history of those Giants. While not hefty nor voluminous, Giants Past & Present is extensive, informed, beautifully illustrated and organized, and of course, extremely well-written. The Dan himself predicted their whopping win this year in a blog post on
... this year feels different. I know, I know, we should not get ahead of ourselves and predict a Giant victory – but I can’t help but feel that this team has what it takes for that ultimate Champagne shower.

Dan goes on to give 13 reasons why the Giants will win. He was right, and his tremendous book is right, too, for that special Brobdingnagian baseball fan.