Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ungardening, or why P. Allen Smith is my man

I love to garden. I love the feel of the dirt under my nails, my feet flying, and the bliss of that nice, warm dry hole that I get to lie down in.

That's why P. Allen Smith is my man. Because while I'm busy ungardening Mom's precious flowers, she can be busy planting containers the P. Allen way.

P. Allen received some serious real estate in the Times this week (three pages!), showcasing not only his own Arkansas real estate but his gardening and marketing talents, and favorably comparing him to Mom's other idol, Martha. The Times photos were gorgeous, as P. Allen himself confessed to Mom yesterday when they met (swoon). But Mom thought Kim Severson a bit snarky as P. Allen's decorating taste and even his personal life were called into question.

P. Allen is a complete gentleman, so of course he didn't let on whether he was miffed or not. Because I wasn't allowed on the bus from Russell's Garden Center in Wayland to Loudon, NH, where Mom toured the Proven Winners greenhouses (and met the famous P.) she asked him for me whether there were many foxhounds in Arkansas. Not really, said P., more bird dogs, like his "Jackrats" (part Jack Russell, part rat terriers) featured in the Times photos. Wonder if those Jackrats catch squirrels, because they love to ungarden Mom's containers.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tub time fundraiser at Cambridge hotel benefits Trust for Public Land

Hey, I'm all for saving open space. Baths? Not so much. But the idea of going to a cool, pet-friendly Cambridge hotel for a good cause, and treats (of course) sounds pretty good. Plus the chance to get out of the 'burbs, wonderful as they are, and check out the city scene.

(I would have, last night, but some people left me behind while they took in a Boston Landmarks Orchestra concert on the Esplanade, featuring bits of the Puccini opera Tosca. I would have loved to have sung along with the pros. But no.)

So check it out: Saturday, August 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Hotel Marlowe, Cambridge. Laundromutt is handling the wash and dry, Polka Dog Bakery is proffering treats (yum!), and I hear the paparazzi will be in attendance.

The $15 fee benefits the Boston chapter of the Trust for Public Land.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Land of Used-to-Be, or, Happy Birthday, Mom!

Mom is entering the Land of  Used-to-Be, as in: "I used to be such a fast runner! I used to be such a good tennis player! I used to be able to do the Friday and Saturday New York Times crossword puzzles in five minutes!"

To which I say, Mom, you run everyone around you, especially me, completely ragged, so just stop it.

(One notable exception: Grandma. She makes everyone look like they're moving in stop time.)

A complete day for Mom ends with her being happily exhausted. In summer, this means: running, rowing, swimming, gardening, going to the dump, cleaning, going for several walks, then (it seems to me) starting all over again. In winter, it's ice skating, cross-country skiing, shoveling, walks, cleaning, dump, etc. etc. Also, working. Sometimes, cooking.

So for Mom's birthday, Dad wants her to relax. He suggests going out to lunch. "Waste of a beautiful day!" Mom replies. Eating is not high up on Mom's agenda, which is one area in which we are not at all alike. In fact, eating rates pretty high on my agenda. Only sleeping is higher. That's because my agenda has just two items.

So happy birthday, Mom! My gift to you: I promise to go for an extra walk if you promise to let me nap for the rest of the day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

House of blues: missing my sister

With my sister away, I've been getting into all kinds of trouble. She's the one who keeps me on track: makes me go for my afternoon walks; loads me in the back of the wagon when I'd rather be in the front; gives me a bath without putting up with my fussing.

So, you can imagine how I've taken advantage of Mom, poor thing. Today she promised me a mani pedi without making an appointment, and so to assuage my disappointment when the groomer wasn't available (and keep me off the tracheas) bought me a braided bone  (although they are much cheaper at Tails, still open this week. Note to self: stock up tomorrow).  While I was being fawned over for being very, very handsome (note the double form of amazement at my beauty) unbeknownst to me, she also purchased lavender scented dog shampoo. Oh, my sister never would allow that!

Here's the part where I make her life difficult: Even with that awesome bone to tempt me, I still wouldn't get in the car before I had properly examined my surroundings. Even know I'm as stubborn as they come. Finally Mom gave in and put me in the back (not the way back) which she is a bit frightened of doing, but honestly, I'm bigger than she is.

Then, bath time. She thought she could trick me by covering the bucket full o' water with a towel. Hah! I knew better. She uncovered the grill (I love the grill!). She sauntered around pretending to tidy the garden. I fell for the grill trick, and that was it. I was clean. But I still laid on all the beds to help me finish drying. Wouldn't want to catch a chill.

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.