Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Canine couture: paws up or down? And, to pop the collar, or not?

"Does the dog need a coat?" asks the Wall Street Journal, in a surprisingly indulgent piece on the human obsession with canine anthropomorphism. (I mean, do they really care?)

Photo 1. Flannel sheets are better than a coat.
Well, to that first question, the answer depends on whether one chooses to go outside. For example, if the temp is under, say, 32 degrees, I believe one does not need a coat, for one is most likely to stay under the covers, preferably flannel. (see photo #1)

Photo 2. Biscuit at the beach.
Moreover, if it is a lovely summer day and one is at the beach, I would also say no (see photo #2 of my soulmate, Biscuit. And wouldn't she look stunning in a bikini?) At most, one might need a terry robe with which to towel off.

My nose is an excellent tool, both barometer and thermometer. Each morning I stretch my neck out toward the open door, but never beyond, until I obtain the correct reading. Most often, these bitterly cold and snowy days, I stay in. Way in.

The Journal quotes Rene Carlson, president-elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association, giving  this cost-cutting fashion tip: Rather than splurging on expensive gear, "A child's sweatshirt from a thrift shop cut to fit and bundled under a dog's belly with a zip tie can do the trick."

I'm sorry, but that kind of DIY wouldn't satisfy the need to dress up a dog. Plus, I suspect the zip tie might not fit around a belly such as mine.

Photo 3. Collar popped and ready.
A more essential question when Dad insists on taking me out in such abysmal conditions: collar popped, or not? (see photo #3 for popped option.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

What does it take to get a decent bagel around here?

Ok, so I'm from the South, and don't know a bagel from a bialy. In theory.

Truth is, I've been salivating for a bagel for two whole days, and I knew exactly where to find one: deep inside a snowbank next to Morses Pond.

I first sniffed it out when I was down there with Dad, who grew wise to my game. Then this morning, during the storm, I tried to drag Mom down the steep hill to the pond. Steep for her, that is.

"Tucker," she said as I weathervaned myself in the right direction. "I'm not going down there. It's too icy." When she tempted me with a treat, I lost my willpower and gave in.

Tried again tonight. I moped around until someone noticed. Once again dragging Mom in my wake, I faked like I wanted to go for a neighborhood stroll, then homed in on my pondside treat. That bagel was sending out a signal like a semaphore, even though the night was pitch black. I dove into the snowbank and came up victorious.  Then zoomed home, with the frozen delicacy well ensconced in my capacious jaws, while Mom flailed behind.

My plan worked perfectly, until I dropped the dear, cold bagel on the living room rug and prepared my attack. Ignoring my bared teeth, Dad picked up said bagel, and dropped it, sorry to say, into the—gulp—trash.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Man bites dog, dog bites Martha, dog goes vegan

Not the same dog, of course, but there's been a ton of canine related news this week.

A tiny Times story relates the tale of a University of Maine researcher who was investigating in interesting bit of 9,400-year-old human excrement. Why, I can't imagine, but inside was a bit of bone, and it was definitely dog.

The Martha story we've already covered, but the Times apparently has an appetite for all stories related to pets. Yesterday's Dining section featured a huge front page story and recipe for homemade pet food: 40 pounds of chicken necks, 20 pounds of giblets, 5 pounds of carrots (I could do without those), etc., etc. That at least sounds more reasonable than the tofu, kale and lentil vegan diet (plus some other inordinately healthful ingredients) foisted upon a greyhound and beagle. But at 15 and 16 years of age, something must be right.

Now, you'll notice I'm not waxing eloquent about Chaser the border collie, she of the extremely large vocabulary—1,022 nouns (and the subject of yet another Times story. That exact count reminds me of a proud grandma bout that took place many years ago. One grandma was saying to my grandma, "My granddaughter can say 53 words." My grandma, never to be outdone, said of my 18-month-old sister, "Well, my granddaughter can say 53 words in the same sentence." Which was true.

Anyway, 1,022 words seems a bit inefficient. The essential dog vocabulary consists of understanding these words: sit, treat, paw and car.

There's only one answer to the best word of all, "Hungry?," and that's a good long howl of affirmation. You can bet that whatever's in my bowl, it's not vegan.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pup rejects Martha Stewart's kiss, pops her a big one

Now, I'm not sure I'd want to pucker up to Martha, either, even though Mom is a devotee. Last night, in fact, as our family dined on curried butternut squash and pear soup, we thought: "If Martha were here, she'd make a paint color out of this dish."

Martha, too, was the inspiration for Mom's idea to have her own mini Palais des Poulets in our backyard, complete with color-coordinated eggs. Dad, however, who grew up with chickens when Angelenos still had room for orange trees in their backyards, nixed that idea.

I was a little bit sorry, because chickens are fun.

Anyway, Martha's French bulldog, Francesca, popped her one "like a boxing glove hitting an opponent’s face" when she woke her up before heading out on her round of appearances (see Martha's blog). Fortunately, Martha had her driver, accompanied of course by her stable manager, available to take her to the ER. You can view 34 up close and personal pictures of the horrific aftermath (complete with an unfavorable comment on the hospital room decor). Funny, "up close & personal" is her blog's subtitle. Martha, your attention to detail is amazing.

Martha, if you decide to go into hospital decorating, don't forget vet hospitals. They could use your touch.

Personal P.S. to Martha:
Take it from me: Let sleeping dogs lie. I'm sure you know the French for that. Or should you use Italian instead? And don't forget: Europeans kiss on both cheeks.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Banished foxhound back in Wayland

Something has gone dreadfully wrong. A foxhound mix running unleashed and biting people in Wayland? It's bad publicity for the breed. First of all, if I were unleashed, I'd be long gone. That's my job and what I was bred for. Though I adore my family, I am ruled by the nose--at least until I get hungry, or it starts snowing or raining. I simply hate bad weather.

The MetroWest Daily News reports that the hound's owners have fines totaling more than $30,000, refuse to put up a fence and haven't complied with an order banishing Laska from town.

I know that when I came to Wellesley, Mom and Dad immediately had a six-foot fence put up, not because they were required to, but because I jumped the four-foot one and scared them to death as I raced around, and around, and around. But most adoption listings say that a six-foot fence is a must for my agile breed.

Anyway, the town is trying to capture Laska. All I can say is, good luck, because if there's one thing we are great at, it's dodging obstacles while running at top speed.

However, if Laska is anything like me, she loves car rides. Whenever I have escaped the confines of our fence, Mom just opens the garage, yells "car," and in I go. Just a thought.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Neither snow, nor rain, will make me go outside

I finally relented, as documented here. Fortunately for my family, treats sometimes do tempt me outside in inclement weather. But I wasn't happy about it.
While flakes were falling, and my parents were shoveling out, I lolled about, hopping from sleeping place to sleeping place and chewing on the occasional bone.

No mail today; our letter carrier probably couldn't make it up the hill. I love mail, and the treats that come with it (thank you, O honorable letter carriers!) and have been eagerly awaiting a US Postal Service stamp honoring Owney, the mascot of the U.S. Railway Mail Service. Mom has been working on a nonfiction book about him; maybe it will be done by the time the stamp appears this summer.
Owney loved to travel, so it's only fitting that he'll be traveling again on letters all over. As for me, as long as it's winter, I think I'll just stay home and climb into bed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

How Santa lost his squeaker; or, how toys become real

It should come as no surprise that, by the 10th day of Christmas, Santa's squeaker was gone. I think, actually, it went missing around the fifth day. Meanwhile, Santa is looking a bit ragged. But I love him just the same.

Mom just read me The Velveteen Rabbit, so I'm wondering, did Santa become Real after I loved him, or was he Real even before? Anyway, he's definitely Real now.

Speaking of Real, there are some real rabbits who have moved in underneath the playhouse. I caught the scent when I returned from my vaca, and Mom spotted the signs. Licorice and Nutmeg must be thrilled. Wonder if they'll let me play with them. Of course, I will be much more careful with them than I was with Santa. Much.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's resolutions? Bah, humbug!

Lest you, dear reader, think I'm totally single-minded and selfish, I present some evidence to the contrary: not only did I receive Christmas gifts, I actually gave some.

First, the details of my holiday: I spent Christmas away from my family, at the fabulous home of Liz, as in Pet Sitting by Liz. There, I rested, gnawed at bones, and played in Liz's spacious yard. I had many canine companions with whom to socialize, as you can see from the party pix on Liz's Facebook page. And while I missed my family, the one-armed Jesus in our nativity, the wild opening of presents, and my own beds, Liz had plenty for me to try out. Beds, I mean.

So I received my gifts rather late. I, however, was thoughtful enough to ask Santa to bring mine in his pack when he visited grandma's. Here's what I selected: for Dad, extra-warm gloves so his hands don't freeze on our extra-long walks; for Mom, Alexandra Horowitz's book, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs, See, Smell, and Know (she's got us dogs down pretty well, plus the cover photo is of a hound, not as cute as me, of course); for my sister, a 2011 fold-your-own zombie calendar (I just love everything from She said that I pick the best presents!

As for New Year's resolutions, I'm not sure I need any. And if you're thinking diet, resolve to think no more.