Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the old! In with the new!

With no New Year's Eve party to attend, I decided to perform the canine equivalent of cleaning out one's sock drawer. I took stock of all of my gear—my restraining gear, that is.

So that left out the costumes, the coats, the various shearling throws, the collection of beds, the toys, the bones, the various gates people futilely erect to restrain dogs in homes and cars: in short, all of the essential accoutrements of the modern pampered pup.

I've already cleaned out, mind you. But more had to go. The frayed green collar and leash that came in 1998 with Sparky went in the car, for emergencies such as our recent rescue of a lost lab. Ribbon-like leashes, fine for a picture-perfect dog like him, somehow don't work for me: off to my neighbor Elliott. Harnesses that I have Houdini-d out of went to those with lesser squirming abilities. I kept my party collar, optimistically purchased by Mom, worn once with its matching leash before I did a major chomp on it, perhaps 30 seconds into the party (see below).
My sister plans to make a belt out of this royally-destroyed leash.
Too bad. I could sport the collar, sans leash, at another party—perhaps next New Year's? Keep me in mind, and best wishes for a properly outfitted 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rockin' around—more like into—the Christmas tree

Thought I'd be writing this post from the cozy, friendly confines of Southboro Kennels, one of my go-to vacation spots, but Mom's sick: vacation cancelled. So instead, I'm sprawled in the sun, having bumped my sister from her bed onto the floor to get some precious VST: valuable sun time.
While I'm soaking in essential Vitamin D, let me entertain you with a recap of my holiday adventures:

1. Christmas morning madhouse: first, I grabbed some antlers, presumably donated by one of Santa's reindeer, from my Christmas stocking and ran upstairs with the contraband. Then, I raced back down to insinuate my nose into every package, attempted to untie the ribbon on a box containing a cashmere sweater for Mom and generally wreaked havoc as my face-plants resulted in several assaults on the Christmas tree with gift bags on my face. Hey, they should put some eyeholes into those things!

2. Morning madhouse, part II: In which I learn to protect the house from whizzing Hexbugs. My sister, much like Pandora, unleashed these horrid things and set them about on the floor, whenceupon I went into high-alert siren mode: Ah-woooo-gah! Ah-woooo-gah! Ah-woooo-gah! Ah-woooo-gah! I skittered away from them in a kind of hypnotized dance, and when it was clear that I might have a coronary, they were removed. However, I have learned their ways and have been stalking them. Next, I will pounce, with sure results. If only Pandora had a faithful hound, the world would have been rid of such horrible evils.

3. Speaking of creatures that I will not allow to coexist with moi, my sister has ensconced a gigantic shark in her room, which she periodically wakes, makes airborne, and attempts chase in true sister-brother tormenting fashion. Lucky for her I just had my nails clipped, because just one swipe from me is all it will take to bring it down, forever.

If you'd like a hound companion who's likely to be just as much fun (and smart) as I, check out Moose, at my old place, Buddy Dog Humane Society. He's super handsome and would bring extra life (and exercise) into your home, ensuring a very Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wellesley Books dog-shopping

Santa wouldn't leave me out, would he?

Handy for all those favors I've too often demanded.
For the Willy Loman-type pup.
Popped into Wellesley Books, hoping to catch a glimpse of my old pal Alison Morris, now of Scholastic Book Clubs, who had stopped by for a bit. Instead of pats and praises, then, I did some serious looking around for dog-themed gifts.

Mom liked the retro look of the Good Dog! Christmas stocking, but I already have a stocking, likely to be filled with coal, for good I am not. She picked up some thank-you notes engraved with a classy print of a foxhound and we both laughed at the tiny dog tie. We then paused before an impressive display of dog books, nicely faced out to feature their handsome covers. Someday, I'll be on one of those.

My photo here someday.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Born to run...and then to sleep

Proper rest is important during the busy holiday season.
'Tis the season to be racing around: twice in two weeks I've escaped from my handlers and taken off. It's something in the air, I guess. First time was a rainy night when I smartly took advantage of Mom and Dad, turned their supposed knowledge about me evading raindrops at all costs on its head, and scooted out into the drizzly dark, leading them on a wild Tucker chase. Second escape happened because of a wardrobe malfunction, but the result was the same: room to roam—in this case the hundred acres of the Hunnewell Woods.

Both me and my predecessor, Sparky, were born to run: he, the classic Dalmatian, to race alongside coaches and later, Mom; and moi, built to run over, under and through tangled underbrush, over downed trees, across creeks and wherever a scent takes me. Bottom line: once loosed upon the world, we're near impossible to catch. Come when called? Why?

This morning I dutifully walked on my walk. Then I came home, raced around, lifted two freshly-baked blueberry-raspberry buttermilk muffins from behind the mixer-cooling rack barricade, consumed them in the privacy of the living room, then claimed a sunny spot on Dad's favorite chair.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Seven swans a-swimming, and a nice juicy Christmas bone

A juicy bone thrills my soul right to the marrow.
Don't know exactly which day of Christmas it is, but I saw seven swans swimming in Morses Pond yesterday, and for once they didn't try to attack me.  When I arrived home, I received another early Christmas gift: a delicious, juicy bone from Castor and Pollux, which Mom obtained at Tilly's, her favorite store on earth. Tilly's is located at the crest of the aptly-named Bacon Street, which I often traverse, and while I've never found bacon, I have often discovered chicken bones and other delectable treats deemed dangerous by my family. The ban on such foodstuffs seems to necessitate opening my capacious jaws, peering inside the deep recesses and retrieving said foodstuffs.

However, if one goes the legitimate way and purchases said juicy bone, one cannot expect one's canine to wait until Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Doggone gifts for your pampered beast: gift guide no. 1

Alert and ready to go with my new martingale and collar.
Santa came early this year, because I've been so especially...stubborn. I'm loving my gift of a super-duper, custom-made (Bob matched the leather to my coloring) martingale collar and leash set. It finally stopped raining, so I could model it to its (and my) best advantage. Check out Bob's website at for super stuff for your favorite pet, who you'd prefer not to have take off unattended (although running after your pet would be a good way for you humans to burn off those holiday calories).

Treats from Lands' End.
So, dog-walking gear: check. Now, for feeding the tum. I like a good Christmas bone, but for treats, these organic pumpkin-nutmeg dog treats ($10)  from Oliver Bentleys Barking Bakery in Savannah, made specially for Lands' End, look scrumptious. Being a Southern boy, I'm partial to that kind of baking. And while I'm more a mackintosh and Wellies guy, less a cable-knit sweater dude, I can appreciate the Irish-inspired jumper (that's Brit for sweater, natch) in festive dark red ($39.50), also from LE.

Pottery Barn's painted pillows are too narrow to fit my long legs, but that's OK. I"ll just leave my muddy imprint on our white sofa someday.
And for resting the head: check out these precious pillows from Pottery Barn ($35-$39) that just invite your pup to jump on the couch for a charming double portrait.

Next up: a dog's nose view of the fun gifts at Wellesley Books. I don't have to shop virtually there; for some reason, they let me in (and treat me like a king)!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Life, death, hounds and haiku: my take on two dog books

Celebrate the dog
In poetry, art and song:
Please do so with verve.

I eagerly looked forward to  The Hound Dog's Haiku and Other Poems for Dog Lovers. The team of Michael J. Rosen and one of my favorite illustrators, Mary Azarian, should be a winning combination.

However, I should have realized the task of using that meditative poetic form on a canine is something like putting together Mom and T'ai Chi: some things just don't go together, at least not in this volume. Mom's a fan of Rosen's The Cuckoo's Haiku and Other Birding Poems, but this collection just doesn't capture the uniqueness of the dog. I thought the rather abstract poems could almost could have been written about any creature.

For example, the Bluetick Coonhound's poem describes the dog resting in a straw-filled house. OK, but the creature really could be anything—a rabbit, say. The notes that Rosen provides do explain his thinking around the poems, but for me, and for Mom, they just weren't doggy enough. I'd like to see the pawing at the bedding, the settling down, the getting up again to rearrange the stuffing, the circling around to tamp things down just right, and maybe the big sigh when that perfect ratio of stuffing to dog is achieved. Most of the other poems fell short for me. Too bad.

A pet's death is just about the worst thing in the world, and I thought nothing could match Cynthia Rylant's Dog Heaven. That book was so true that it made Dad cry after Sparky died. But Mom and I both approved of Barbara Walsh's Sammy in the Sky (though we don't love the title), illustrated by Jamie Wyeth. Sammy's a hound who's lucky enough to love and be loved: he's "the best hound dog in the whole world."

Now, you might think I could disagree with that statement, but I know that to a child, their dog is the best. That's the way it should be. And it's OK to grieve when that best-loved creature is gone. Jamie Wyeth's paintings add much beauty and emotion to this story. Paws up.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Santa Paws is coming to town: a Buddy Dog fundraiser

I've barely digested my turkey, and the packages are piling up like a UPS warehouse. It's crazy. With all of the activity, I've been demanding Milk-Bone tolls from the UPS and FedEx drivers, in addition to the usual extortion from my favorite USPS driver, B.T. B.T. only delivers my treats, not my mail, so there's no conflict of interest.

Last week, a FedEx guy who was woefully untrained just didn't get the hint. He was stopped at a light; I heard his truck. I immediately and purposefully plopped, across the road from his open door. He looked at me, startled. I pointed my nose at the place where he should deliver the treat. Nothing arrived. I pointed again. And again. I mean, did the guy not understand my sign language? He must either have been exhausted, out of Milk-Bones, or new on the job. Finally, to appease me, Mom threw a treat at the appointed spot, the light changed, and off we all went.

The aptly-named Moose needs a home. Sooo handsome!
Fortunately, Santa would never be caught short-Milk-Boned. So on December 10 from 10-3, head on over to have your holiday portrait taken at the Blue Amrich photo studio, 444 Great Road, Acton, to benefit Buddy Dog Humane Society, to which I am ever grateful. Blue Amrich specializes in equine, canine, and yes, feline photography. Call 978-264-4444 to book an appointment, or just walk in. Sleeping Bear Jewelry will have its pet-themed necklaces, charms and more available, with 20 percent of proceeds going to Buddy Dog.

Speaking of Buddy Dog, check out this super handsome guy (could he be as handsome as moi?) who's at Buddy Dog right now, ready for adoption. Let me tell you, foxhounds make great companions. Just be prepared to train all of your delivery people to toss Milk-Bones in the right direction.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Count your blessings, and Happy Thanksgiving!

While I forlornly chewed on an ancient bone, my folks sauntered off to the country to catch a bit of the Norfolk Hunt Club's annual Thanksgiving Day hunt. The pageantry! The rural setting! The glorious colors! The sound of the bugle! The baying of the hounds! They went on and on about this wondrous event, rather than counting their blessings that they have moi, a genuine foxhound, right here in their own home.
In fact, one would think they have had quite enough of hound baying, with no need to go somewhere else to hear it.
Showing off my stuff.
Last week Mom was threatening to send me off to the club's kennels, somehow forgetting that they most likely wouldn't have me. Who knows what I did: she was mad. "You'll have to fight for your food with dozens of other dogs! You'll have to sleep on the floor! And if it rains, you'll still have to go outside!" Eventually, she simmered down, when she realized how lucky she is that I'm part of the family.

That could be me, right at the front.
So just to show you all that I could run, right along with those other pups, I'm posting a pic of me in full swing. Also one of the hunt, because even though I didn't get to go, it does sound pretty special.

Friday, November 18, 2011

X-rays show I swallowed something I shouldn't have

I'm now feeling well enough to go on regular walks.
You know things aren't good when the vet opens up a discussion of your physical health by saying, "If you have unlimited funds..."

What Dr. Wolfus was suggesting was that me and Mom head up to Tufts Veterinary Medical Center, get me an emergency ultrasound, and find out just what that lumpy thing is in my belly. Or, we could wait and see if it's merely an upset tum.

Because it was bad enough getting wrestled onto the table to have a couple of x-rays, plus being made to have my weight checked (a svelte 84 lbs, in case you were wondering), we decided to wait. Plus, it was our first time seeing Dr. Wolfus, who in spite of his scary name, is exceedingly kind, gentle, and needless to say, given that I can't imagine a more difficult patient, patient.

I thought back to see which delicacy might be causing such distress. People do toss the most delicious, yet inappropriate, foodstuffs on the ground. On Sunday, I was trotting about in Wellesley Square and snuffled something under some leaves. It smelled so great that I didn't even look to see what it was. Mom immediately opened my alligator-like toothed hinges, one jaw in each hand, and looked deep inside. Nothing—already gone.

So neither of us knows what exactly I consumed. We're waiting for the radiology report. Keep your paws crossed that it's nothing too serious.

Update: All is well, and I am heading back toward full beastliness. Thanks goodness!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Posh new dog collar, leash and more on the way —just for moi!

"You may have extra hardware," warns a slip of paper on those put-it-together yourself sorts of things. Well, I do. Lots and lots of extra collars, leashes, harnesses that either are worn out, don't fit well, or Tucker-escapable. That's not including the so-called chew-proof stuff that I chewed through long ago.

Is this guy sneering at my hardware?  His isn't so great, either.
So Mom sent an SOS to Bob over at Handcrafted Dog Collars in good ole North Carolina, not far from my birthplace in the sunny South (Carolina, that is). Bob is plain old fun to talk to and got some laughs out of my doggone behavior. He even spent two days trying to think up a new design that would suit a stubborn hound like moi, before he realized it was an impossible task. Nothing, and I mean nothing, has been designed, built, thought up, dreamed, nightmared, that would in any way blunt my signature quality.

If I'm going to be stubborn, Mom figured, I might as well do it in style. And if you looked at my photo a couple of posts ago, I am over-hardwared. Prong collar, recommended by Elaine Stern, partly because a leash on a regular collar slips right off my slender little head, handsome though it is. Radio collar, also recommended by Elaine, for my famous stubbornness. Then, the collar that holds my tags. Too much stuff.

Bob is going to make something that goes just perfectly with my awesome coloring—dark saddle tan with black accents. Quite the step up from my mismatched gear. He makes everything himself in Wilmington and recently was putting together something fancy out of alligator leather for some lucky pup. He can do stingray, ostrich, shark, but I'm fond of beef, so I'm good with the cowhide. Thanks to Bob, not only will I be safe and comfy, I'll be stylin'.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another pet-people book? Pitooey to the plethora!

I'm a contemplative kind of guy and don't do puppy cute.
You know that the genre exploring the dog-human bond from the human standpoint needs to be over when even I say, "Enough!" That's how I felt when I read reviews of Jill Abramson's book, The Puppy Diaries, so that while her tale may be perfectly fine, and I'm sure very sweet, I just can't take any more.

Apparently, Bruce McCall feels the same way. In the Nov. 14 New Yorker, in a Shouts & Murmurs column titled Pet Books Proliferate, McCall takes off on a quote from Abramson's book and explores people's deep relationships with a special earthworm, a withered spider plant, and an extremely cute potholder. All meet a sad, but touching end.

Now, I'm fascinated by science's attempts to demystify the canine psyche. I'm all for research. But no more cutesy memoirs, please. However, don't you think there's room for a book exploring the canine-human bond, from the canine perspective? I certainly do.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Boot camp: brutal, but effective

Grateful? I don't know, but my profile is awesome.
"It's like Cesar Millan came to Wellesley and worked a miracle!" Mom squealed. Now, Mom is prone to exaggeration, so I must tell you that while Cesar the Great did not show up at our door, he's got an unofficial East Coast counterpart.

I was the dog who wouldn't go. I wouldn't go forward, I wouldn't go backward. Tons of products exist to keep dogs in check. But what was the answer to get me to go? Mom despaired while I ruled.

The answer turned out to be Elaine Stern of The Grateful Dog (there's a misnomer!) Elaine doesn't come with a camera crew, and you don't have to submit audition videos to validate that you're a genuine worst case. Having known me from her puppy training classes, Elaine didn't need any proof of my stubborness. In fact, she had probably been expecting Mom's frantic pleas for some time now.

Given that Elaine's been visiting over the last month, putting me through my paces, and with Mom trying (valiantly, but not so successfully) to follow up, I've been exhausted. Hence, my less frequent posting. Frankly, if it weren't for the call of the food bowl, some days I would have rather stayed in bed. Dad, as always, remained on neutral ground, wisely staying out of the process.

As part of my training, Elaine took note of lots of things: the flipped-up couch cushions, my eating habits, my weight,  my sleeping places. Among other keen observations, she felt I was a bit tubby. "He's not in any shape for hunting right now," she said, not that I would dream of it. "He wouldn't get very far." She did, however, approve of my beds, all of them: Serta Perfect Sleeper, double; Sealy Posturepedic, single; armchair, large. "Big dogs need to be off the floor."

As a result of boot camp, I now condescend to an afternoon walk in my very own neighborhood. Before, a steak could have been on the front steps, the door open all the way, and I would have just looked askance while lolling in the front hall. Now, I get up and head out, like a regular dog.

Too bad Mom didn't make those videos. Because if I had been on TV, I bet I would have my own driver right now, taking me wherever I wanted to go. No walking required.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wishing you the ghoul-est Halloween ever!

Obviously, I do not need a costume to scare anyone, and that's a good thing. Sparky's closet full of costumes are all too small for me, anyway.
I checked out Wellesley Books' display of Halloween goodies. I wasn't so scared of the monster, but I did ponder which famous person might want to look like me.

Friday, October 21, 2011

English lab rescued on Brook Path!

Without me, the rescue never would have happened. After a leisurely stroll 'round the athletic fields, Mom and Dad expected me to just pop back into the car. When I didn't respond like an automaton, they finally noticed: a cute English black lab was nosing along the road next to the Brook Path.

Intrepid Mom, treats in hand, went to investigate. No collar, no people. The pup loved the Milk-Bones, but then dashed up to whomever was walking down the path. None of them was his owner.

Wellesley Police said they'd send the animal control officer, but meanwhile, Mom was getting nervous. The pup dashed over to a car, and the driver, incredibly, happened to have a leash. Not only was this driver well-equipped, she knew her pups. She immediately tied it, martingale style, around the dog's neck, and we were all set. Mom got the OK from WPD to bring him to the station.

I did my part to clear our way, outfitting our vehicle with my personal emergency siren. Ah-woooo! Ah-wooooo! The dog didn't mind, and I liked the company. Our time together was too brief. Just as we pulled up to the station, Animal Control Officer Sue Webb was pulling out to meet us. She checked for a microchip, and voila! I imagine the pup is already reunited with its owner. Maybe we'll run into each other sometime, under less exciting circumstances.

A shout-out to the lady with the leash: thanks so much! When I went to return it, I couldn't help but notice your stunning dog sculpture and adorable pond. If you need any fish, let me know. I have lots!

Note to self: leave an extra leash in the car.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday in the park with George, Bella, Dude, Linda and more

Dude's name doesn't quite live up to his substantial size.
Had a fab day with my pal Bella at Borderland State Park: a gorgeous spot for dogs and their humans. I tried the agility course and beasted it; met a Great Dane named Dude who made me feel like a Chihuahua; and had my nails trimmed by the fabulous Linda of Classie Canines of South Easton.

Linda faced up to my beastliness and with a couple of helpers, completed my mani-pedi in no time (after she suggested Mom stroll across the lawn). What a pro!

The fabulous Linda of Classie Canines.
Given that the last time I had my nails done, the vet staff only could manage half before Mom called a halt to the painful process, and the time before that, I was trussed into a straitjacket, I'd trust her not only with my paws, but for playtime and boarding, too—they do it all.

Bella zipped right through the chute on the agility course.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Paws up for a Borderland state park fundraiser!

Is that a halo around my head? Wow.
I'm all set for an outing Sunday, Oct. 16 with my friend Bella at Borderland State Park. Mom promises exercise, a meet and greet, and lots of treats—all for a good cause.

I'll be wearing my new radio collar, thanks to Elaine Stern, my personal trainer. Her business is called The Grateful Dog, and while Elaine sure is effective, it's Mom who's grateful, not me. I remain recalcitrant at my core; however, under Elaine's tutelage, Mom sure is challenging my alpha role. More on that experience later.

Paws in the Park is a fundraiser for the Animal Protection Center of Southeastern Massachusetts in Brockton, a bit out of my geographic range, but a worthy organization nonetheless. Borderland, in Easton, has tons of acres, a pond around which to stroll, and a stunning mansion.

Another organization dear to my heart is Coonhound Companions, which is the weekly cause at Be the  Change For Animals. Check it out--it promotes adoption of dogs just like me! And we know just how special I am. Just check out my halo.

Friday, October 14, 2011

No Sox? No Yanks? No problem!

I've been going mano a mano with Mom over where to walk. I'm winning.

Nothing to watch? How about this series? It's me vs. Mom. Will I or won't I go for an afternoon walk? Tune in at 4 p.m. every day to see the titanic struggle.

The standings:
Me 3-1 .750
Mom 1-3 .250

The issue is not walking; it's the location. Rather than simply take off from home, I really prefer a stroll in Wellesley Square in the p.m., similar to the Italian passeggiata—you know, the late afternoon stroll common in Italy.

I could live on sausage and meatballs, Locatelli cheese, and prosciutto. So why not adopt the noble tradition of the passeggiata? It fits my needs perfectly, according to Fodor's:  "During the week, the passeggiata marks the end of the workday and offers a moment of sociability before the family dinner...The most important thing, it seems, is simply seeing and being seen (vedere e farsi vedere)."

Exactly. See and be seen.

Given how famous I am, who am I to deny my public?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Barkitecture: dream doghouses

I've never been in the doghouse, literally, anyway, so I can't compare, but the doghouses showcased in Austin, TX last weekend for Barkitecture 2011 look like they'd make some pretty cool hangouts. I wouldn't want to swap them for my real home, with its choice of single or double beds, but they would be great in a man-cave kind of way.

Best-in-show of the fundraiser for Austin-area animal rescue groups was designed by none other than canine guru Cesar Millan, whose modern structure included a Zen garden and latticed resting area.

Another home had a rooftop hangout carpeted with synthetic grass, all over a shady spot sheathed in peekaboo siding. Rather than frou-frou homes reflecting an '80s sensibility with the big hair that went with it, these sleek structures are more attuned to the needs of the modern dog.

Speaking of needs, I especially liked the sunken pool, conveniently filled with tennis balls, provided for a break during the house tours. However, I could do without the pig.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Yap it up today at Woofstock 2011—and benefit Buddy Dog Humane Society

I'm deeply in debt to Buddy Dog Humane Society, and so is my family—they adopted not one but two incredible pups from the Sudbury shelter.

Buddy Dog saved me, bringing me up from South Carolina and holding on to me even after I was adopted and returned for being too, well, houndish. Word is I knocked over a small child and ate her sandwich. Too true; I was a baby then, young, undisciplined, strong and often ravenous.

Buddy Dog also saved Sparky, a stunning Dalmatian who had three owners in one year and found a lifetime home with my family. Without Buddy Dog, we'd both have been far from the loving home in which we, happily, found ourselves (see my story on the Long Ears blog at

We're just two of the many, many happy tales resulting from the shelter's 50 years of existence. A celebration of its half-century and a fundraiser for the shelter, Woofstock will be held tomorrow, Oct. 1, from 11-4 at the Hudson Elks Pavilion. Info: 978-443-6990. Admission to Woofstock is free for dogs (of course) and children, $5 otherwise. Hightail it over!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Star pups of the big screen: the inside scoop

Does anyone remember Rin-Tin-Tin? The canine film star of the 1920s and 30s, who reportedly had his chance at an Oscar snatched away because of his canine status, is the subject of a book being published tomorrow by Susan Orlean, which recently was excerpted in The New Yorker–check out this blog post on the Aug. 25 piece.

Movie star or no, I'm not a fan of German Shepherds, to put it mildly. In fact, whenever I see one, I let out a nonstop alarm bay that gives the same effect as our shouting smoke detector—you can't wait for it to stop, and your ears hurt like crazy afterwards.

I actually am crazy about dog books, although the subtitle, The Life and the Legend, seems to amplify things a bit much. Then again, at that time, famous dogs like Rinty were trumpeted in the press, feted and fawned on everywhere they went. Plus, he's still remembered after all these years, though I guess the TV show helped. (Of course, the original Rinty didn't star in those episodes.)

Turns out the Shepherd star in Harry Potter and the Prisoner from Azkaban isn't faring as well as Rinty. Berry, who played Padfoot, is up for adoption in the UK with German Shepherd Dog Rescue. He's being fostered right now, and I hope he soon has a home.

Speaking of pet adoption, take a look at my mom's blog post on how she made one of the smartest decisions of her life by adopting moi. It can be found at the Long Ears Blog, published by Coonhound Companions, a site that promotes adoption of hounds like me. Of course, none could possibly be as handsome, or as smart, but still...all pups deserve a loving home. I have to admit that Olivia, who graces Coonhound Companions' home page, is very, very lovely, and brilliant, I'm sure. She sure is a lucky girl, too—truly saved from a horrible fate.

So the next time I see a Shepherd in my neighborhood, I'll just pretend that my alarm baying is really just a shout-out for pet adoption. It's a good thing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The story of Balto—highs and lows

I'm crazy for dog stories, but I have high standards. One of the best in a long time is about that megahero, Balto, by virtuoso nonfiction author Meghan McCarthy. Do I need to say that Balto is one of the dogs on the sled team that brought life-saving serum to Nome, Alaska, to stem a diptheria epidemic? And that the route is now immortalized in the Iditarod race each year?

The Incredible Life of Balto is unique not only because McCarthy can take detailed historical info and distill it to its fascinating essence, but also because McCarthy doesn't leave Balto simply basking in glory. She reveals the Black Beauty like story behind this hard-working dog: neglected and relegated to a sideshow. But, like Black Beauty, Balto finds loving care toward the end of his life.

Thanks, Meghan, for telling the whole tale, and making it so special. Even though I'm not-so-secretly very, very afraid of Siberian huskies, I can appreciate Balto and his team's dedication. Next time I see the husky who lives in my neighborhood, I'll make sure he hears about it. So will everyone else, because my alarm bay is so loud, I wouldn't be surprised if my sound waves traveled all the way to Alaska.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Swellesley moms strut stuff in style

Owing to my stubbornness—or, putting it more tactfully, my independent thinking—I ended up taking my morning walk more mid-morningish, and found myself far from my usual route.
Here I am, resting my trapezius muscles.

So that's why, at about 10:30, rounding one of the fields at Sprague, I came upon the Mom Brigade. About a dozen strong, I suspected this wasn't your usual moms-with-strollers outing. First of all, it's Swellesley, and our moms are fit, smart and highly organized. All looked very, very purposeful.

Being attracted to strollers, as well as the treats and stuffed animals typically found inside them, I stopped to review the parade. Finally condescending to move on, I looked back when I heard music. Specifically, the tune was "Old McDonald."

'Twas a most melodious rendition. I tilted my head to confirm. That's when I saw them: Moms, strollers within reach, exercise bands threaded through one of the fences, singing, and rowing in time to the music. Exercising their trapezius muscles, working on their vocals, and entertaining their children at the same time! That kind of multitasking is to be admired, indeed.

They were so energetic that I became exhausted, and I needed to flop on a stranger's lawn to recuperate.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Canines and Cocktails on through September

Formal dress is optional.
This just in: the puppy happy hour (actually three hours!)  has been so successful at the Wellesley College Club that it's being continued through this month, at least.

The patio scene.
I'm kind to all, even those who can't grab their own treats.
That's what I learned when I stubbornly insisted on visiting the patio this afternoon, even though Mom told me it wasn't Thursday, the traditional C&C meetup day. I wasn't the only one confused: I ran into my neighbor, Josie the beagle, who had exactly the same thought. Wish, and it will come.

So round up your humans. They'll need to bring their wallets for their treats; ours are on the house. See you Thursday!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wild beast on the loose in Wellesley and Natick!

It's a wild, wild world when I'm going at full tilt.
It's true. In violation of local bylaws, I was off-leash and not under voice control. (I should point out that I never have been under voice control, or any other control, for that matter. And let's be honest: we've all met tons of offenders like me). However, unlike many who simply are released intentionally, my liberty was obtained through guile and deceit (plus some nifty shimmying).

It happened like this: my all-too-generous cousins offered to take me for a walk, the rain having stopped and myself no longer in danger of melting. Unfamiliar with my restraining apparatus, they chose the simple collar and leash approach. I hid my glee, pretending not to notice their error.

Once we were underway, I wasted no time. I unveiled my Houdini impression, slipped the surly bonds of my collar/leash combo, and took off. I visited the Airedale down the street (she, poor thing, never ventures out of her fenced area) and investigated some choice scents emanating from a side yard. It was there, armed with treats proffered to them by a kind neighbor, that my cousins captured me.

That's what they think. It would have been awfully beastly of me to let them head home, hound-less. They would have felt terribly guilty.  Not something I would worry about, but as I did detect a drop of rain, the call of my dry, warm, man cave was irresistible.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One fish, two fish, three fish—too many fish!

Last year's babies. They're much larger now, and even prettier.
Big fish in a small pond: that's the case here. And the problem: they all are big, leaving barely any room for me to take a drink.

Remember Henry Huggins? Author Beverly Cleary's eponymous creation yearned for guppies—and he got them, jars and jars and jars of them. (He also wanted a dog, Ribsy, which is why this book is one of my favorite reads of all time.) Time for another definition: the adjective eponymous has to do with a person giving their name to something. So in this case, Henry Huggins is the title of the book and the name of the main character. Got it?

So the Huggins-like fish population explosion happened this way: Two years ago, we started with five small comet fish from Russell's Garden Center in Wayland. Last year, those five small fish had grown exponentially, and they produced more than 60 babies. We thought we gave most of them away, more than 40 three-inch babies to a friend with a big pond but hardly any fish.

On the lookout for fish at Morses Pond. Less colorful, but still fun to scare.
But, you know, a pond can be dark, and fish are excellent at hiding.

Of course, I knew there were more fish in there, but since I still had plenty of open water to lap, I didn't make a big deal of it.

Come spring, though, those babies—more than 20—surfaced, and now they are almost as big as their gigantic parents. They're also eating their way through plenty of expensive bags of Hikari Gold pellet food.

So if you need some fish, let me know. Gorgeous fish to a good pond only, within baying distance, so that would be Wellesley or Natick. I'll personally deliver them. Then, I'll go home and take a good long drink.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Want good luck? Say "rabbit, rabbit"

Licorice's ears are almost as long as mine.
The superstition is that if you say "rabbit, rabbit," or something like that, on the first day of every month, as soon as you wake up, that you'll have good luck.

One great aspect of hounds is that we are friends to all animals, unless, of course, we are hunting them. I am quite fond of rabbits, domestic and wild.

So I've been hanging around our bunny cage, just getting ready, you know. The first day of the month comes, and instead of talking, I just give a long, loud (is there any other kind) bay directly into the bunny cage. Boy, did that perk up those long ears! Think that counts?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Got pheromones? Calming a Tucker-cane is a challenge

I can go from mild

to wild,  in no time at all.
I have to admit: I can be a little wild, especially when the temperature drops. I'm also sensitive, especially to thunderstorms, nail clipping, fireworks, etc, etc. So Mom consulted with the vet, who suggested a dog pheromone collar. It releases chemicals into the environment that are supposed to be the least invasive way to help calm an anxious pup. My nails are getting a bit long, and Mom wasn't about to let the groomer put the straitjacket on me again.

So Mom puts the collar on me, and because I've taken to sleeping in my sister's closet, she objects to the smell (it's scented, for humans, I guess...they can't smell the pheromones). I'm also preternaturally calm, to which Dad objects. [Definition of preternatural: beyond that which is normal, or natural. Calm is definitely not my natural state, unless I am asleep.]

It's unsettling and true: I'm almost comatose. I can barely make it out of the closet.

They put the collar away, but I do have a large nose, and of course I can still pick up on the chemical messages. So I'm calm. Then Hurricane Irene decides to head up the coast, and we lose power. Oh no—that means that Mr. Smoke Detector Man will announce the restarting of power.  Mom worries about everything. Maybe she's the one who really needs the collar, I think.

I try the collar again. It works. But once the storm passes, my family just can't take the calm version of me. I'm just so incredibly...shall I say, boring? It's like Hurricane Irene being downgraded to a drizzle. So it's off with the collar.

Just in case the storm, whatever its formal name, wasn't exciting enough for you, I'm available to wreak havoc in your yard or home. Just call. I'll leave the pheromone collar at home.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tales of devoted dogs and faithful friends

Did you read the touching tale of the Navy SEAL dog who laid by his owner's coffin and heaved a huge sigh?

The story of Jon Tumilson, one of the 30 Americans heartbreakingly killed in Afghanistan, and his Labrador, Hawkeye, has to make everyone recognize the importance of the human-canine bond.

Two great children's books, Hachiko Waits by Leslea Newman, and Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog (and the movie, Hachi) tell the story of a pup who met his professor owner every afternoon at the Shibuya train station in Japan. After his owner died at work, the Akita waited at the train station, for 10 years, until his own death. A statue of Hachiko at the station commemorates the relationship.

We dogs are faithful, loyal, and smart. We remember. We wait. And we love our human families.