Friday, July 23, 2010

No debarking or debaying: vocal cords protected in Massachusetts

Ah, the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, friend to dogs (cats, too), has become the first state in the country to ban surgery to keep us from talking. It's unbelievable that it could even have been allowed.

Even though I'm a very quiet guy, I just can't imagine saying nothing. I mean, how would I answer my folks when they ask, "Are you hungry?" Unless I provide a heartfelt bay, I'm not getting anything, and I know it.

It's true that some of my neighbors drive me crazy with their barking. Tonight I was out for a walk and Mom practically had a heart attack when some little yippy thing broke out into "Get away! This is my place! No walking in front of my house!" You know, that's what air conditioning is for: keeping the sound down. So you want quiet? Call the a/c guy, not the surgeon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How to recover from a vacation hangover

Really, this post should be titled "How Not to Recover..." because I certainly haven't found the solution. I don't know about you, but vacations make me extraordinarily tired. There's all that to-ing and fro-ing, your food never tastes the same, and sometimes you just want to sleep in your own bed (or beds, plural, since I have so many choices at home). Then, there are the others, who just can't seem to shut up. Bark, bark, bark, all day long. I come home hoarse and exhausted. You know how people say they need a vacation from their vacation? That's me.

So, did I get what I needed? Noooo. No sooner did I arrive at my domicile, than the thunder started. I shivered in the hallway, unable to be consoled. Finally got some shuteye and slept 'til this morning, went for a walk in the Hunnewell woods, and then straight to sleep again. I mean, I was zonked. I couldn't even eat.

Then, the  First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detection Man came on, and wouldn't let up. What does he think, I can't hear? "Evacuate! Evacuate! Smoke! Smoke!" Blare! Blare! Blare! All the alarms went off, and I think they even confused Detection Man, because he was yelling over himself. I shivered on my beanbag, trying to close my ears. Finally, after what seemed like hours, Fred the electrician from Dellorfon came to my rescue. Thanks, Fred! Sleep is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wild goose chase leads to Lake Waban rescue!

So, I emerged from my vacation exhaustion long enough to go for a short walk at Lake Waban with my dear girlfriend K—. While she's no Michael Phelps, she's been doing some swimming, and as I waded on the Wellesley College side, she decided to get wet all the way.

Problem was, some Canada geese were hanging about, and when she got in, they swam away, just slowly enough to keep out of her reach. They kept swimming, and so did she. And they kept swimming, and so did she, and soon her mom was frantically calling her to come back.  But you know us dogs, when we want to do something, we do it.

So my Mom, who grew up swimming, worked as a lifeguard, and has even been known to race other moms at Morses Pond (and win, I might add) jumped in for the rescue. Fortunately, as she and K— were getting pretty far out, K— finally gave up on her goose chase and turned around. Mom was able to grab her collar and swim with her back to shore. K—'s mom and I were worn out from our frantic pacing and grateful everything turned out OK. Lessons learned: no swimming off leash, program emergency numbers into the phone, and come when called.

Well, I haven't quite learned that last one.

In the path of destruction...Part I

You know that Paper Source motto, "Create Something Every Day"? Mom loves that, or at least the idea of it.

Well, I'm a contrarian, so my own motto is this: Destroy Something Every Day. 

However, now that I'm turning three big ones, I might be a tad more mature. True, I was a callow youth, a mere half-dozen months old, when my family brought me home. I, who had never known more than an outdoor pen, had never crossed a home's threshold or jumped gleefully into a car. Ah, a dog without a proper home is a sad thing...

So, I'm in my new yard for no more than 10 seconds when I unleash the full force of my pointy teeth onto my new, 100% guaranteed, indestructible leash. Just one chomp required—it wasn't as if it was the Gordian knot or anything. Mom did send for a replacement, but sorry to say, it did not give her the mastery she sought. Oh, no.

Herewith I confess my destructive sins, both mortal and venial. You decide which is which.

Tucker time (T) + 10 seconds: the aforementioned leash severing.

T + one day: Stand on table, break lamp.

T + two days: ditto with lamps two and three.

T + three days: chomp portable phone to smithereens

T + four days: devour family's steak dinner (I wouldn't call a thoroughly enjoyed quality meal destroyed, but Dad would)

T + five days: chomp TV remote to smithereens (Mom and sis couldn't care less, but Dad...)

T + six days: Grandma bravely comes to visit! Hour one: chomp prescription sunglasses (through hard case); Hour two: ditto with cellphone; Hour three: ditto with Italian leather wallet.

T + seven days: Grandma leaves (well, she desperately wants to, but she is far too nice).

Here ends Part I of The Confessions of a Destructive Foxhound.

More to come.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tails' end

No tails wagging here, because my favorite canine supply store, Tails Doggie Boutique, is closing at the end of the month.

Where will I go for my mani-pedis? What about my food? I might starve!

I'll miss Noreen, and Cam, and of course, that character Leroy. It's not going to be nearly as much fun in Wellesley Square without them.

Tails has been a must-stop for me ever since I arrived. Here's my route: in the back door at the Booksmith, out the front, stopping for treats at each counter, down the street straight toward Tails, where I steal a bone and careen out the front door until I reach the grassy space next to the library, where I chew my bone until it's all gone.

Life just isn't going to be the same. What's happening to Wellesley Square?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another dog blog! And, why I am the smartest dog ever

I am very fond of Wags for Walks, and a faithful customer. But they can't serve customers west of here, and while trolling around on the computer I found a pet sitting service based in Sherborn that sounds like fun. Roxie the mutt will come over to your fenced yard and play—sounds great, no?

Roxie even blogs at Roxie's Blog. She's part of a cool experiment at Harvard's Canine Cognition Lab, which is studying how dogs make decisions. Oh, but they haven't met me, the canniest canine of all!

Unfortunately, though many have claimed I am the smartest dog they ever have met, I fail the first requirement:
"Is your dog patient? If given a choice between 1 treat immediately, or 5 treats in a few minutes, will your dog wait patiently for the 5 treats?"

Waiting? Are they kidding?  Don't those psychologists know that humans collapse nearly instantly, so it makes far more sense to get the first treat immediately?  Those treats will quickly add up to 5, maybe even more, with no waiting required on your part whatsoever.

Patient, however—that's me to a T. I can wait out Mom for pretty much a lifetime. If that Canine Lab was really wanting to test inferencing, they could see how I infer that I am in charge. Constantly. Proves that I am way too intelligent for the Ivy League. Way.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Like clockwork

My summer schedule requires me to stay up much later than usual. Instead of tucking in at, say, 5ish, I'm hanging out in the evenings, watching Dad shoot hoops, or sauntering down to the pond for a fresh breeze.

There's my 5 p.m. dinner, 7 p.m. hoop-watching, then off to pick up my sister after her drama camp. Having to remind my family every day of the same activities is enough to exhaust anybody. I mean, you would think they could remember on their own, but no...

So I come down and stand there, my eyes trying to convey that the hour, the minute, the second, to do something has approached, and would they please get up and do what it is they are supposed to be doing? So I resort to Plan B: launching myself at Mom, then nosing my leash. I mean, I'm practically grabbing the car keys for her. Do I have to spell it out? C-A-R, pronto!

Of course, I would rather be sleeping, but someone has to show some responsibility.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Keep Saturday postal service, or I'll starve!

What would I do without Saturday postal service and the chance to scam free treats off the neighborhood letter carrier?

Please, USPS, I am a creature of habit. You know, walk at x time, dinner at x time, car ride at x, x, and x times, snacks anytime, etc.

And eating Milk-Bones is a habit I rather like. In fact, I might expire were I to be denied my regular treats from my favorite letter carrier. Once I have heard its curious rattle, and you know I have large ears, I have been known to scour the neighborhood in search of that glorious white truck, its kind driver, and in particular, its Milk-Bones.

Mom also is a creature of habit, and she likes to receive real mail. A few years ago, she went on a letter-writing kick in hopes of reviving the dying trend.

No one wrote back. She was crushed.

This week, though, she made a trip to the Spellman Museum of Stamps & Postal History at Regis College in Weston. She tells me it was fascinating, and she even brought back—not treats—but mementos! The museum has tons of stamps for sale, sorted by subject. So check out these cool dog stamps from Poland she bought for me. The museum right now has a neat exhibit on V-Mail, used during World War II to cut down on the weight of the massive amounts of letters being sent between troops overseas and those at home. Besides its excellent exhibits, the museum also is an official U.S. post office!

Note to curators: bowl of dog biscuits at the entrance would be a nice touch. I was shocked to learn that nearly 3,000 mail carriers and other postal workers are attacked by dogs every year in the U.S. They obviously don't live in our neighborhood.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Marks of distinction

Distinguished and distinctive—that's me! Distinguished looks, distinctive bay. Distinguished presence, distinctive...tooth marks?

Yep. Mom knew the moment she went to put on dad's helmet for a bike ride this a.m. She knows one is supposed to get new protective headgear when one's has had a fall, but the instructions say nothing about an encounter with distinctively pointy objects, or, shall we say, canines?

Gotta love me!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Make Way for Ducklings, Wellesley edition

Due to the patriotic fervor of their Boston neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard have decamped to Wellesley for a summer sojourn.

The Mallards are listed in the Social Register's summer 2010 Dilatory Domiciles as taking a cottage near Morses Pond. Their address is listed as Rose Cottage, Morses Pond, Wellesley. In residence at the pink home surrounded by yellow roses are the Mallards, and juniors Masters Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack and Ouack. Pack and Quack have not been spotted at either the cottage's fish pond, my baby pool (thanks, Mom and Dad, for offering it to the Mallards), or at MoPo and perhaps are off enriching their pre-college resumes.

Master Jack is up to his usual hijinks, toppling over as he races around and righting himself.

Mom, Dad and my sister were extremely surprised at the Mallards taking the cottage, but of course I knew they were there all along. Remember, I like birds, bunnies and all living creatures and put the gentle in gentleman.

So welcome, Mallards, to your summer home. I hope you enjoy it, even if it means I'm banned from the backyard for a couple of weeks.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

7 Highly Effective Habits of Hounds *that are good for business

Being one to totally toot my own vuvuzela (although mine of course is far more musical, but, one has to admit, isn't anything?), I reveal the secrets that have made me a happy, healthy, highly successful hound.  Looking ahead to my book contract, it's obvious how these seven habits, easily learned, can  be paralleled in the business world. Of course, execution is key. So, no stealing my copyrighted idea. Only I am the true conduit to this valuable knowledge.

#1. Be quiet, but when it counts, howl with all your might.

#2. Tread lightly, but move decisively.

#3. Nap whenever necessary.

#4. Remember: the race isn't always to the swiftest; artful dodging is essential to securing that exclusive fox (or contract!)

#5. Be a pack animal, but exert your dominance when making decisions.

#6. Satisfaction comes after the goal is won, not before. In other words, eat after exercise (Mom put that one in there).

#7. He who pees highest wins.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Best places to nap

One thing about me: I can nap anytime, anywhere. I do have my favorites, however, so here's my list of the best  places to nap (summer version).

1. Home, sweet home, outside by the pond, water trickling, birds singing, me snoring. Bliss.

2. My dirt pile. Cool, dusty, and tick-free  (photo not available).

3. Carrie's lawn—the best grass in the neighborhood (don't tell her husband!)

4. Rocco's lawn—second-best grass, but it has Rocco p-mail on it. Very nice. Good for a short break just before getting home.

5. Tilly's Bacon Street Farm. Cool cement, shady, clean, plus I get to meet everyone who goes in or out—they have to step around me. The numerous compliments are excellent for my ego.

6. Lilja school field, under the trees. Always some good sticks to munch on.

7. Lilja playing fields. Good for swallow-watching (that's a bonus for Mom, because my eyes are closed).

8. Wellesley Booksmith used book cellar. Took a mid-fiesta siesta there yesterday, in fact. Rejuvenating.

9. My sister's bed.

10. The guest bedroom.

11.  Why stop at 10? White shag beanbag.

12. Etc., etc., etc.

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?