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?