Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Barkitecture: dream doghouses

I've never been in the doghouse, literally, anyway, so I can't compare, but the doghouses showcased in Austin, TX last weekend for Barkitecture 2011 look like they'd make some pretty cool hangouts. I wouldn't want to swap them for my real home, with its choice of single or double beds, but they would be great in a man-cave kind of way.

Best-in-show of the fundraiser for Austin-area animal rescue groups was designed by none other than canine guru Cesar Millan, whose modern structure included a Zen garden and latticed resting area.

Another home had a rooftop hangout carpeted with synthetic grass, all over a shady spot sheathed in peekaboo siding. Rather than frou-frou homes reflecting an '80s sensibility with the big hair that went with it, these sleek structures are more attuned to the needs of the modern dog.

Speaking of needs, I especially liked the sunken pool, conveniently filled with tennis balls, provided for a break during the house tours. However, I could do without the pig.

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!