Monday, December 13, 2010

4 p.m. T-time: that's Tucker time

4 p.m., and I'm raring to go. So I make the appropriate noises, nudge my leash, and plaster myself to the door to the garage. There's only one way I go after 4 p.m., and that's by C-A-R.

Mom, thinking she's going to win this one, coaxes me to the front door. She wants to walk, not drive, after she's just filled the wagon with gas at $3.15 per gallon. And blah, blah, blah. She's complaining that she's going to put on all her gear, make sure she has this, has that, etc., etc. and that after she's all ready, I'll refuse to go.

Boy, she's got that right. I look like I'm aiming for the front door, but I slip—stealthily (and you can check my definition of that in an earlier post) —right into the crate, which my folks quite properly term "The $100 Avoidance Chamber." And I look perfectly comfy in there.

I'm good at this. So good, in fact, that when my very first blog follower came for a visit, I pulled the same trick. The idea was we all were going for a walk to Morses Pond. No one, of course, consulted moi. 

"Does he like his crate?" this dear person asked. Mom practically snorted.

Sure, I like it just fine, and just long enough for Mom to give up and drive me to a nice, big field. After all, I like to do things one way—my way.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Check up: good news, bad news, and does this count as a bath?

The good news from my checkup with Dr. Schettino at VCA Westboro: I didn't get weighed! No counting of Weight Watchers points for me, pal. Here's the trick. First, execute a perfect Plop O'Doom. That means a heavy sink into the floor. Plopsville. Even with Mom on the floor, pushing, and Dr. S. standing up, pulling, they got nowheresville. It was great, even though Dr. S. said I reminded him of a donkey.

Mom then tried the "door #2" method to get me into the back room where they do all those yucky procedures, but all I could say was: No can do. Finally, I gave in to have a heartworm check, bordatella vaccination, etc. etc., but having successfully tried the patience of everybody, they somehow forgot about the weigh-in. Whew!

In my defense, I recently had my mass accounted for. When I was last there a couple of weeks ago, the technician came out with a sad look. "He's 88 pounds," she lamented. Mom exulted—at least four lbs off my top weight! I didn't tell either of them that I exhaled just before getting on the scale, then shifted my bulk onto just one hindquarter.

Now the bad news. Dr. S. says I have oily skin and need a bath once a week. Sparky only needed a bath twice a year! So, does my walk this morning count? I got soaked.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sneaky, surreptitious, or just napping? You decide

So, when my parents came home from the pre-Cotillion party and left me behind, did they expect to see me bounding downstairs, wagging my tail and just overjoyed that they deigned to return and keep me company?

Apparently, I couldn't be found. What is this, Goldie Foxhound and The Three Bears in reverse? Someone would come in and steal just me (precious though I am)? Didn't they check all the beds?

They said they did. I wasn't in: the guest room (Grandma left today); the beanbag in the study; my sister's bed; my parents' bed; the living room; my chair; my $100 avoidance chamber (the crate). Precious things, they panicked!

Moms, however, keep clear heads in times of emergency. She uttered my favorite word, car of course, and out I came from my hiding place. I wish to keep that secret.

Speaking of secrets, was I being sneaky? That is, defined as furtive, or sly? Covert? Clandestine? Stealthy?

Surreptitious? Meaning my hiding spot was kept secret, connoting guilt, because it wouldn't be approved of? (That couldn't possibly be. What haven't they allowed?)

Or was I just napping, resting, dormant, or relaxed?

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?