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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Morose, forlorn, or just so darn depressed?

If I look forlorn/morose/depressed enough, will she call?
In missing my sister Golden Hair, newly off to college, I attempted to determine which word most nearly described my state of mind. In my last post on this topic, I used the word forlorn. But then it occurred to me: perhaps I actually am morose.

Upon consulting my dictionary, I find that morose means sullen and ill-tempered. Me? Never!
Depressed? "(of a person) In a state of unhappiness or despondency." Hmm. The dictionary does not include (of a dog), even a very smart one like me. So, I believe that my instinct to use forlorn was correct. Definition: pitifully sad and abandoned or lonely.

Ouch. It hurts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthshaking news happened while I was sleeping

Remember that adorable movie, While You Were Sleeping, starring Sandra Bullock as the subway token seller who saves the annoying rich guy from the train tracks, then pretends she's engaged to him? He wakes up from his coma, but she's fallen in love with his brother?

Well, that movie (called Coma Guy while a work in progress) was written by Dan Sullivan, my good pal. But I digress before I even begin.

Today's earthquake apparently was felt in Wellesley, though not by me. Sensitive though I am, I was, not surprisingly, sleeping at 2 p.m. Though something roused me, so that soon afterward, I demanded a ride in the car and a walk on the Brook Path.

Perhaps I did feel the quake. After all, it takes something really earthshattering to wake me out of a sound sleep.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

College dropoff blues

Why did she have to go off and leave me? Aren't I smart enough
to get into RPI?
I've got those dropoff blues. Bad.  My sister's gone, off to begin her freshman year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Great, great school, but the only animals they allow are fish (in a generous 20-gallon tank). Well, we have the fish, certainly, and I can swim, but somehow I don't think she has room in her triple for a 90-lb. male (although the floor is co-ed). That 20-gallon tank would be way too small, and much too uncomfortable, for me. And I'm all about comfort.

Here I am looking forlorn in my RPI red bandanna.

Good luck, sis! I will miss you tons.

PS. Can I have your room?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Partying it up at the Wellesley College Club

Longest nose (and legs) brings new meaning
to "first come, first served."
Two dog birthday parties in Swellesley last night, and because it looked like there were No Dogs Allowed at the Wellesley Free Library (besides Mariah, the famous pet therapy dog and guest of honor), I pointed myself toward the Wellesley College Club.

Sandwich cookies = yum!
Thursday night soirees at the club have become a habit with the top dogs in town. Last night, Suzy celebrated her 15th birthday, and boy, was there a great spread, which was a good thing given that I had to share treats with so many folks. One human guest was going for the Oreo-type cookies when she was warned they were for dogs, only.

Happy Birthday to Suzy!
I tried to give Suzy my pickup line, but she took me literally—no, she didn't come here often. In fact, it was her first visit to Canines and Cocktails (Thursdays, 4-7).  Still, she looked fetching in her birthday hat.

I helped myself to oodles of treats, and was thrilled when my friend Lucy showed up. Fashionably late, I might add. I didn't mind—it just added to her irresistible charm.

See how attentive Lucy looks? That's because she listens to her folks—most of the time. I'm saving the other photo of me being attentive and her zoning out, so I can use it on just the right occasion.
Enjoying a private moment with Lucy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I made the cut! Now, vote me Boston's MVB—most valuable blogger!

You'll put even more spring in my step if you vote for me!
Thrilled to see my blog on the list of finalists for CBS Boston's most valuable blogger. See my earlier post for the many, many reasons I consider myself tops. Voting's easy—just click on my badge or right here, and scroll down until you find Dreams du Dog.  Click, and voila! you're done. It's easy as ABC, and alphabetical, too.

You even can vote every day if you like, until Sept. 9. Most votes wins, plus there's an editor's choice winner, so I'm rooting for both.

Many thanks, and whoever votes the most for me, wins, too—my voice baying on your voice mail. That will keep the telemarketers away! Now, what could be more valuable than that?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nominate moi for Most Valuable Blogger!

Nominate me for Boston's Most Valuable Blogger,
lifestyle/family category!
Check it out at
OK, I might not be actually the most valuable, money or info-wise, but I certainly am entertaining!
Top reasons to vote for me:
1. I'm talented enough to write my own material.
2. I have tons of story ideas.
3. I am dedicated. 200 posts in two years.
4. My posts are educational. For example, my most popular posts have been Attention please: Can dogs eat edamame? (180 pageviews); Recalcitrant, obstinate, stubborn: defined (155 pageviews); and Carb loading: it's a good thing (145 pageviews).
5. My posts sometimes have a tinge of reader-satisfying gossip. Or readers wish they had. One of the most common searches that lands people on my blog is "p. allen smith personal life." For those of you who don't know, P. Allen Smith is the Southern garden design counterpart to Martha Stewart. And because he and I both are Southern gentlemen, I wouldn't dream of speculating.
6. I take faithful readers on a dizzying tour of how not to train your dog. Many people seem to find this information useful.
7. I am a poster pup, practically, for why it would be an excellent idea to adopt a hound. I'm fun, learned, and very, very handsome. Check out for more reasons.
8. I have reviewed several pet hotels and therefore am a font of info on where to place your pup when you decided to abandon him or her for vacation. Better yet, take your pup with you!
9. Readers gain an inside view into the keen mind, determined will, and goofy personality that is mine.
10. I am very, very handsome. Have I mentioned that already?

Nominate me at: but hurry--today's the last day!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Meet Elliott from E.T., my new neighbor

Reader challenge: find the dog in this photo.
Ok, Elliott here looks more like an E.T. than she should, but that's because she's a tiny, wiggly, fuzzy baby Portuguese Water Dog who would not stop wiggling for her photo. Also, it's impossible to see her face under all of that hair.

In fact, when she came over to introduce herself, I didn't quite understand she was a canine, and completely ignored her.

However, when Mom went over with a hand-me-down mat for Elliott's water bowl (given her breed, and her size, she prefers bathing in her water bowl), and came back smelling all puppy-ish, I was none too pleased. Not about the mat. Given my slobbery habits, it didn't begin to do the job in our home.

If my readers are confused about her name, here's the explanation: Somehow, the breeder thought Miss Elliott was a boy dog. Because our neighbors had already named her, Elliott she is.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rescue dogs of 9/11

The New York Times features gorgeous portraits of courageous rescue dogs, now retired, who worked to find victims of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Photographer Charlotte Dumas beautifully captures the nobility and dignity of these highly-trained canines who love their work.

Her book, Retrieved, which features these photos and more, will be published in September. Check out her website to learn more about her and her other work photographing dogs, wolves, horses and other fascinating animals. Her book can be preordered at

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Water, water, everywhere... nor any drop to drink, but I tried

Still salty. What's with that?
Not to go on and on about my fab vaca in Biddeford Pool, but I never could quite get the idea that the water had something different about it.

I'd taste the water at the big beach. Salty. The water at the little beach. Salty. The water in the tidepools. Salty. Island beach water. Salty.

What's the deal?

It was dry as a bone (and I know bones) that week in Maine, so last night's rain really gave me something to lap about. I know there's always the water dish, but for a hound, puddle water just has that certain je ne sais quoi.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

To the lighthouse!

Tammy Burnham and hound.
I was not invited on the boat ride to the Wood Island lighthouse off Biddeford Pool, so, pouting, I took the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep.

"It was a good thing, too," said Dad, eyeing the narrow, high, half-mile boardwalk that leads to the light.

Perhaps he recalled the day I nimbly leapt off the boardwalk flanking the northern part of Lake Waban, without quite thinking how I would get back up.

Pets of Wood Island Light.
Though I was not allowed, pets have been an important part of Wood Island history. Mom focused on photos of the hound cuddling with little Tammy's fog Burnham, herself the subject of a fascinating survival tale, and a pup, aptly named Sailor, who rang the lighthouse bell (and was pictured negotiating the swirly tower stairs). See pix of Sailor and read more about the light's history here.

A story of another talented pup is told in Lighthouse Dog to the Rescue by Angeli Perrow, about the springer spaniel of Maine's Owls Head light in the 1930s. Spot is credited with rescuing a mailboat by ringing the fog bell in a fearsome storm.

Thank goodness there are no lighthouses in Swellesley, because I just couldn't live up to such expectations. After all, I most likely would get wet in a storm, even equipped with a sou'wester, and that would be tragic.

P.S. Info from the Friends of the Wood Island Lighthouse, a super group who run tours and raise funds for the site's restoration. Check it out.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Help! I swallowed plastic wrap!

This body packs a heap o' potential energy.
So, right up there with queries on whether dogs can eat edamame (you would not believe how many people have found my blog by asking that question) are queries on consuming plastic wrap.

Considering how smart we canines are, let us assume that most of us have mistakenly consumed said wrap. Presumably while it was covering something delicious.

In my case, the wrap covered a perfectly good turkey and cheese submarine sandwich that someone carelessly tossed away. It was, unlike many food items I have snagged, actually in the trash. (That Upper Crust pizza crust I found on a rock wall in Wellesley Square last week—mmm!)

Here's what happened. My head went in. Mom pulled it out. My head went in again. This time, before we got too Hokey-Pokey-ish, I came up with the goods. That Mom, though, she's fearless, even in the face of the Jaws of Death.

Like the rest of me, my teeth are large. And I am famous for my stubbornness. I clamped. She attempted to unclamp. Then, finding a bit of sandwich and wrap outside of the Jaws of Death, she pulled. I dug in my heels. She dug in hers. Plastic wrap stretches! I witnessed precious bits of sandwich being torn away, but I dared not open the Jaws for fear of losing more.

When this peculiar tug-o-sandwich finally ended, I got to keep half the sandwich and Mom had half. Very luckily for me, she ended up with most of the plastic wrap.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Speak up! I can't hear you!

OK, Mr. Smoke Detector Man, it's war now. Mom is the original Mama grizzly, and once she gets going, there's no stopping her. Sort of the opposite of moi: once I get stopping, there's no starting me. The thing we do have in common: stubbornness.

War officially was declared when Mr. Evacuate! Evacuate! started shrieking last week—again. "Detector error in the dining room! Detector error in the dining room!" followed by high-decibel beeps. Of course, just like the boy who cried wolf, everyone ignored him. "Putting in these detectors was the worst mistake we ever made," intoned Dad.

But this time, Mr. Detector will get his comeuppance.

Mr. Smoke Detector Man: the bane of my existence.
This time, rather than calling the electrician, Mom dialed up FirstAlert.  "We don't usually have any problems with that model number," said the nice customer service rep.

Well, we do. Major problems.Years of Mr. Detector screaming at us, usually at 2 a.m., has taken its toll  on:
my psychological health; Dad's hearing; Mom's emotional health; my sister's tolerance level of all of us. We're fraying like an old sheet flying in a derecho (let me elucidate: that's a very dangerous, severe windstorm like the one that hit the Midwest last month).

"Is it normal for Mr. Smoke Detector to start talking on his own, when there's nothing wrong? When we've been vacuuming him regularly? When we change his batteries on schedule? When we keep replacing him?"

No, no, no, and no. It is far from normal, said the nice customer service rep.

"How about when he decides to test all of the alarms in the house, in turn, starting with the smoke one, then the carbon monoxide one, with the whole thing lasting about 10 minutes at ear-splitting levels? Is that normal?"

Assuredly not. So today, Mr. Detector Man is out, replaced by a new guy, gratis from First Alert. If only they'd take care of my psychiatry bills, too, we'd be all set. And then all of us might get some much-needed sleep. Here's hoping that the new guy only shouts when necessary, and that we never, ever hear what he sounds like.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Plenty of canines and cocktails at College Club

Perfect evening at the club last week. The Wellesley College Club, that is. Checked out the treats, as well as the company, and both were fab. Big jars chock full o' special goodies there for the taking!

Mom said no to the giant bone, as well as the licorice-like twists, but indulged me in some organic kind of baked bone that turned out to be delicious.

Lots of dogs played on the terrace while their moms sipped fruity-looking drinks in tall glasses, nicely served by Charlene.

Among the guests: Wally, a big, shaggy griffon; Kelly, a miniature beagle; a cockapoo that danced very prettily around the treat table; and several others whom I'd love to meet again.

Be there: every Thursday in August, 5-7 p.m.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ever seen a giant beagle? C'est moi, Tucker the Walker Foxhound, size Large

Unless one happens to ride to hounds,  my breed is not so well known north of the Mason-Dixon line.

So when people meet me for the first time (trust me, they remember the next time), their query often goes like this: "What kind of dog is that? Is that a Giant Beagle?"

However, my online fans can't seem to grasp my actual size. Mom's friend Judy says that I take a small picture. She is correct.

So when I snagged this pic of me off of my pet sitter's Facebook page ( gets you there, if you click on More About Liz), I thought it might help those of you out there who are curious.
Do my paws look big enough in this picture?

On our Maine vacation, in fact, I violated boating regulations by sprawling my bulk across the entrance to a pier in South Freeport,  and violated rules of human decency by blocking the entrance to Downfront ice cream on a blazing hot day on Peaks Island. However, I was not apprehended, given the well-known aphorism: Let sleeping dogs lie. They did.

Monday, August 1, 2011

And the rockets' red making me hide in my sister's closet

Napping on the beach in Maine, exhausted from post-
July 4 fireworks. Fireworks, rockets, they're all the same to me: terrifying.
Cajoled Mom into taking me for an after-dinner walk tonight at Lilja Field in Natick. Here's how I did it: she thought we were using just our feet, but I made a u-turn at the sidewalk and performed a Plop O'Doom at the garage. Tired of the same old, same old, I wanted wheels, just to make things more interesting.

Here's the rub: we get to the field, and I can hear the whistle of rockets. Mom, busy parking or whatever, plus her hearing isn't that great, doesn't notice a thing. I'm cowering in the back, but a pup decided to check out the antiquity of my car, so I hop out for a meet-and-greet.

Then the rockets start going off like crazy. "It's like Cape Canaveral out there," says the pup's owner. While not quite the crowds that made it to the 321 area code to see the final space shuttle liftoff, there were a dozen or so people craning their necks.

I get that people want to have fun with rockets, but look, I barely made it through the Fourth of July. And I need exercise.

One good thing: it's August, so most people should have used up their fireworks by now. But don't all psychiatrists go on vacation in August? That's bad, because I could use some couch time.