Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Life of the party!

Whew! Went to Alison Morris' farewell (sob!) at the Wellesley Booksmith today. I wasn't sure whether I should attend, being a teeny bit concerned that I might take some of the spotlight from that wonderful creature.

Not to worry. There is no one who can outshine Alison! (Just in case, I entered before she did; then I went into the back room to bring out the guest of honor. It was the right thing to do.)

Alison was her usual witty self, telling a funny story about...well, never mind, because I am horrible at jokes. Her husband, the amazing illustrator Gareth Hinds, was there, as was the outstanding children's author Jacqueline Davies and children's book guru and former Weston library teacher Pat Keogh. Quite the erudite, literary crowd. I was in very good company.

And, I was the perfect party guest (everyone said so), letting out just a few guffaws at the appropriate moments, and signing Alison's guestbook with flair. Note to Biscuit: you've got a great mom in Kym. She helped me produce a pawprint without a bit of hesitation.

Only Lorna noticed me raid the trash bin in the back room. Honestly, why let a perfectly good tuna sandwich go to waste? It wasn't until I nearly upended the treats table that Mom decided it was time to go. But really, what was I supposed to do? I couldn't reach it with all my paws on the ground!

Best wishes to Alison and Gareth as they begin their new adventure!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Warning: evacuate, evacuate! Or, the dog who cried wolf

Have you ever read The Dog Who Cried Wolf by Keiko Kasza? It's one of my favorites, about a dog who yearns to join the wolves, and when he does, is so darn scared that he can't wait to get home. He spends a lot of time howling, and so do I.

However, my howling, officially called baying, is  highly musical. On the other paw, our home's combined smoke/carbon monoxide alarm, is not. Ours is a supposedly highly evolved model, which actually speaks. Speaks, however, does not quite describe the combination of booming alarm and sharp-toned voice shouting "Evacuate! Evacuate! Smoke in the dining room!" Or, its variation, "Evacuate! Evacuate! Carbon monoxide in the basement!" The thing is so darn loud and scares me out of my skin, plus it always chooses to express itself at 2 a.m., just when I'm in my deepest sleep.

Of course, all of my sleeps are deep.

The thing is, after this outrageous brouhaha, while everyone runs frantically around trying to find out whether there actually is any cause for alarm, very quietly it will say, "carbon monoxide level 0 ppm."

In other words, never mind.

Here's the problem: this alarm is just like the boy who cried wolf. Remember that tale? Of course, when a wolf really appeared, no one cared. Here's an idea, First Alert: use a hound dog's bay for the real thing. I have two: one is the alarm I give when that awful Siberian Husky comes near; one's my plaintive, play with me wail. I suggest using the plaintive wail for the testing sound; the Husky warning for the real thing. That will shake things up. I can assure you: people will pay attention.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Take your dog to work day?

You've got to be kidding. Why work when you can lounge?
Seriously, though, the concept behind Take Your Dog to Work Day is to promote shelter adoption. Yippee! I can't think of a better cause.
Buddy Dog Humane Society was my home for a few months, and it was great, but I like it when I'm the only one making all the noise.
Here's what I did instead of working: long walk, long sleep, breakfast, long sleep, maniacal activity, long sleep, lunch, long walk (with stops for naps), long sleep, maniacal activity, long sleep.
Whew! I'm pooped. I admire the pups who put in the hours today at the office. Of course, I'm a writer, so I'm always working. Even when I'm sleeping.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Goodbye, Alison Morris!

One of my greatest admirers (although they are legion) is leaving her post at the Wellesley Booksmith, where she has been the children's book buyer, and dog welcomer, for nine years. Alison is just the greatest, and I was so distraught on my last visit that the impossible occurred: I forgot to raid the biscuit bin!

Even though Margaret, Rebecca, Barry and Deb asked whether I had been proffered my entrance and exit extortion fee, I was just so scattered I could not collect. You would think she was moving to Timbuktu rather than Tribeca, but even though her able colleagues will pitch in to do her job, she has brought incredible energy, vision, good naturedness and intelligence to the post. Not to mention her writing those legendary captions to go with my photos of Big Stuffed Bear, with whom I love to cuddle.

Alison has transformed the Booksmith into a powerhouse of children's literature. Her judgment is excellent: lots of great dog books and an uncanny ability to match books to readers. Also, an uncanny ability to know when I am hungry. Which is always, except when I think of Wellesley without her.

By the way, Alison loves me so much she even mentioned me in her Publisher's Weekly blog, Shelf Talker, and included my photo! I love her! Will I ever recover?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Soundtrack to my life: my little runaway?

Was visiting the Wellesley Booksmith the other day and my pal Lorna, musing over my awesome looks and personality, wondered if I had a song that encapsulated my life.

Mom thought. "Perhaps an ode would be more appropriate—something weightier than a popular song," she said.

Today she had second thoughts. Perhaps I'm not as professorial as she thought, but hey, a guy's gotta have fun, right? I was taking my morning constitutional around Lake Waban, where off leash dogs (not so legally) abound. One fetching pup (in appearance, not habit) took off toward the water. I did the same, wrenching my leash out of dad's grasp. Mom, natch, found me on a path we hadn't tried before, behind the old tennis courts, and snagged me.

First she sang the Del Shannon hit, but it didn't quite fit. She knew quite well why I ran away. Then, being the bookish and very mom-ish sort, intoned the lines from Margaret Wise Brown's The Runaway Bunny: "If you run away, I will run after you. For you are my little bunny." Which is, when you think about it, kind of an ode.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I love Paris, I love France—ooh, la, la!

Man, am I exhausted! Not only did I use up my rather tiny store of French phrases during the lovely visit of Mademoiselle M—, I found it difficult to sleep.
As I suspected, I was kicked out of my boudoir well in advance, apparently so that it could be disinfected. Where, oh, where, should I sleep, I mused. On the beanbag? The chair? Mom and Dad's bed? The $100 avoidance chamber? I was so disoriented that I could not decide. Plus, one night fireworks kept me on alert; the next night, thunderstorms.
However, Mlle. M— was very charming. She didn't even mind when I breached the barricade and took possession of her (my) bed for un petit nap.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I could have pounced, all right

Someone needs to stand up for the basset hound, after the recent, snarky Times piece, "Putting the Pounce Back in Your Pup."

I suspect author Robbie Brown (who already must have had an epiphany about hounds, changing his pup's name from Flash to Elvis) is inordinately fond of Elvis, as evidenced by his taking Elvis to the office, providing him with as many comfy beds as possible to indulge his sleeping habit. It's a good habit, too.

As for me, I have plenty of pounce left. I just choose to use it when I want to, rather than acting like some hunting automaton. I mean, really! Have some pride in one's intelligence, rather than act blindly just because some human decides that's what one should do!

Lately, I've been discovering members of the avian genus, literally right under my nose. I've encountered several baby robins, a baby oriole, and a baby bluejay. I sometimes like to fly, so perhaps I feel kinship. I could have spread my wings, and done a thousand things I've never done before...

I could have pounced, all right, but I didn't.

Someday I'll get to the Norfolk Hunt  Club and see how it's really done, but for now, I'll be happy just going nose to nose with whatever creatures come my way.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Women who vacuum too much

So, I'm just settling onto the guest room bed after a long, drippy walk in the Hunnewell woods. I'm all stretched out, cooling off. You think I could get some shuteye? Nope, because here comes Mom with her vacuum!

Next, I head to my white shag beanbag, the perfect place to cuddle. Mom decides it's long past time to scoop up my pawprints in the study. While she's at it, she'll dust off the books. Then, she tries to dust off me.

That's an exaggeration, but practically speaking, it's pretty close. Mom believes vacuuming every possible surface is the ultimate way to cleanliness. Constantly. I mean, if Tiger Woods could characterize his misbehavior as an addiction, extreme vacuuming definitely earns a place in the compendium of personality disorders.

I believe that this syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Hoovering, is genetic. Grandma used to wake up her sleepy teens by vacuuming, and when they were on the phone too long, the extension was duly dusted as well. Mom was so shocked that her friend didn't have a vacuum that she quickly donated one of her many extras. There's one for the car, one for the basement, etc., etc.

Fortunately, though the amount of vacuuming seems endless, I have not exhausted the vast number of sleeping places in my domain. I'll just have to keep moving, that's all. Faster than Mom.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Music to my ears: Lou Reed's dog concert

Who says hound dogs can’t appreciate a little culture? Being of the southern persuasion, you might think I’m more into NASCAR than Nijinski, pulled pork rather than Paganini. However, most of my youth has been spent within the cultural context of Massachusetts, curled up in close proximity to my sister’s viola. And let’s not forget my French connection.

Therefore, I’m thinking of journeying to lovely Sydney, Australia, where none other than Lou Reed is giving a concert for dogs. No kidding! Plus, it’s free. And, it’s at that gorgeous Opera House. Perhaps I could demonstrate my perfect pitch there—like a true artiste, I of course would not need a microphone.

Some folks are making a big deal that Reed's canine music is inaudible to the human ear. I say, if a tree falls in the forest…some dog is bound to hear it, and doesn't that count for anything? Life is entirely too human-centered for me. However, NPR wouldn't exist without them, so check out their story, Going to the Dogs.

“Music for Dogs,” inspired by Reed and his wife Laurie Anderson’s rat terrier, Lollabelle, will be held June 5. The concert will be 20 minutes, and there’s talk of a canine mosh pit! Plus, Anderson promises no sudden noises, thank goodness. Sign me up!

Cost of ticket to Sydney, business class, Qantas airlines: $4,110
Canine package at four star hotel, the Hughenden Boutique: Room, $228/night (a steal!) Here are the details from their website:
"Queen Victorian Room with private glass atrium or courtyard
Full Cooked Breakfast for two
Complimentary gift for your favourite pet
Quaifes Cafe and Restaurant has a number of areas reserved so that your 4 legged best friend can join you for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Centennial Parklands is just across the road for dogs to be walked on a lead or play in leash-free areas." Perfect!
On second thought, since the trip itself is 23 hours, I'd need quite a long stay. Perhaps it would be simpler to ask Lou to move his venue to this continent. Certainly, less expensive. And because I haven’t yet launched my stage career, or any other career, besides eating, sleeping, and racking up outrageous vet bills, I’m not in the position to be jetting about—yet.