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.