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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Close our local post offices? No way!

The PO is right across from Goldthwaite's and Pool Lobster.
Just back from charming Biddeford Pool, Maine, where the tiny local post office not only posts mail, but photos of its local pet population, with their names. It's perfectly situated opposite the general store, which along with a real estate office and gift shop, makes up the Pool's total commercial area.

Mail is important to me, especially the carriers who deliver it, and the treats they carry.

Fortunately, the Pool's PO is not on the U.S. Postal Service's list of potential closures, but I shudder to think that it might. I also love the PO at Babson College, and I shudder to think of the office at Boston College shuttered.

Lots of figures can be found on, such as the fact that letter carriers drive 4.1 million miles each day to deliver that precious mail, but no figures are given on how many dog treats they deliver, or the intangibles of how well they know their customers.

For example, I roused myself from sleep Monday afternoon and went for a walk. Bingo! There at the end of the street was my favorite letter carrier. "Tucker! I haven't seen you! What's the matter—too hot for you?"

I nodded and sat heavily at the truck's running board. "You're unbelievable," he astutely commented, and gave me several treats. Now that kind of goodwill is worth keeping our p.o.'s open, and our letter carriers gainfully employed.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day tripping on Peaks Island, Maine

A bit pricey, but it is a round trip ticket, and unless I could
channel Diana Nyad, wouldn't try swimming to the island.

I'm a fan of Casco Bay Lines. Along with my ticket, I received a handful of treats and even was invited to put my paws up on the counter, just like the regulars.

However, it being my very first ferry ride, I was a tad frightened. Fortunately, along came a savior in the form of Angela, one of the founders of Coonhound Companions, which aims to promote my breed as perfect pets.

Angela certainly knows her hounds. She tagged me as  a Walker right away, then showed me pix of her ooh-la-la Black and Tan, Olivia. (That's a photo of Olivia on the Coonhound Companions home page.) Angela kindly pointed me up the inner stairs, away from the loud engine noise, then she and Mom settled in for a meaty discussion of the hound sensibility.

You must check out the website for the official "Top Ten Reasons Why Coonhounds are the Best Dogs Ever." I couldn't agree more. Check out their promotional kit, with incredibly cute photos of gorgeous hounds that are free to distribute, as well as the Long Ears blog.

My favorite poster is the "Long Ears=Lotsa Fun!" in which a hound who looks just like moi is riding in a boat, ears blown back. Kind of like me on the Casco Bay ferry!

Speaking of swimming, I'm in awe of Diana Nyad, who hopes this summer to complete a swim from Cuba to Key West.   She blogs that she greatly misses her dogs, Scout and Teddy. Guess they'd rather take the ferry, too.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Canines and cocktails at the Wellesley College Club? I'm in!

So check this out: every Thursday this summer, from 5-7, the Wellesley College Club is hosting "Canines and Cocktails" on its gorgeous terrace overlooking Lake Waban. Seems the event is part of an effort promoting the Club as a pet-friendly hotel. Glad to hear it!

Having just returned from vaca in laid-back Biddeford Pool, Maine, which also is a very pet-friendly place, I'm in need of a bit more relaxation. Took in a bit too much sun and am enervated as a result. Nothing that a good long sleep won't cure, followed, of course, by a good long slurp.

Completely enervated by the heat in Portland,
I crashed on Peaks Island, where the ocean
breeze was strong and cool.

What's the difference between enervated and exhausted, you ask? You've asked the right pup, one very practiced in sleeping. Enervated: to feel weakened and drained of energy; exhausted, to feel drained of one's physical or mental resources.

What, not enlightened yet?

Let's look at the roots: exhausted from the Latin verb meaning to draw water out, or drain. Enervated, also from the Latin, meaning weakened at the sinews. Weary to the very bone.

In other words, dog-tired. Just like me. Until Thursday at 5, that is.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The best toys in the world—for a dog, that is

The best toys: as close as I can get to the real thing.
Found these at Pet World: love those Kitty City cats!
With my stay at Liz's coming up, Mom finally realized my time away from home might be made less miserable if I had a new toy. Look, I'm crazy about the selection of beds at Liz's, so I really was OK with the whole vaca thing, but I figured, let's assuage the guilt and get something out of it, too.

Checked out the selection at Especially for Pets, but came up with nada. I could not care less, but Mom is opposed to the introduction of neon into our color scheme. However, being a traditionalist, I prefer toys that look like the real thing. After all, if I'm going to play with it, why not make it something I might amuse myself with in real life?

Being that there were no life-size bears, racoons or foxes in the store, we gave up.
But not before I snagged a few lamb twists.

You know how you can't eat just one M&M? Well, except for Mom, most people can't. Anyway, I started snapping up these little lamb twists like they were popcorn. At $3.79 a snap, Mom was fainting away. At least, I thought, I'm not going for the tracheas or other esophageal parts.

So here's the odd thing: while the store had no animal replicas (OK, there was a hedgehog, in two sizes, but I like hedgehogs) it did have an array of unstuffed animals. Being that unstuffing them is where it's all at, I just didn't get the point.