Monday, December 30, 2013

This New Year's Eve party starts early: Boston College vs. Arizona in the Advocare V100 Bowl

No sitting is allowed during any Boston College
football game in our house, so I'm giving my famous
Andre Williams-like glutes advance rest.
Slept for 24 hours straight after my three-day party over at Southboro Kennels. Mary warned my family that I tuckered myself out zooming around with those border collies, but they weren't quite prepared for the depths of my exhaustion.

Got home and immediately crept into bed, where I did not stir for an entire day, except for a two-minute break the next afternoon to gobble some food and slink back into my chair for a few more hours. I basically must have sleepwalked to my bowl and back.

Good thing, though, because now I'm all rested up for the big Boston College New Year's Eve bowl game. Huge is the theme. It's huge that BC's going to a bowl after last year's disastrous season; Dad's a huge fan of BC football and new AD Brad Bates; Mom recently got to size herself next to some football players at an esoteric medieval choral performance in Gasson Hall (Really! All three of my Dad's football playing students attended the optional concert. Her take: "they're huge!"); plus, my huge glutes have been favorably compared to those of Heisman finalist Andre Williams (just call me Tucker44).

So, who's ready for a New Year's Eve party? The one to catch is in Shreveport, La. and at my lovely Wellesley home. The one with the huge BC flag out front.

Go Eagles!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Inside scoop on rescued Wellesley dog!

Crosby's safe, thanks to
Wellesley firefighters and police.
While I was woofing it up at Southboro Kennels in a new bromance with two border collie mixes, my good friend Paul Delaney was fighting through deep, icy water to help rescue a five-year-old Wellesley golden retriever.

Paul (that's Wellesley Fire Lieutenant Delaney to you) is one of my biggest fans, and he was extraordinarily fond of my predecessor, Sparky. That was only right, because as a stunning Dalmatian, Sparky was a splendid representative of the firefighters' mascot.

Even though I'm spooked by water coming out of hoses, Paul and I get along grandly. So I'm not at all surprised that when duty called, he had no problem jumping in after a canine. (Not to take credit away from firefighter Dave Papazian, who hacked away at the ice to reach the dog first, secured her and turned her toward shore. It's just that I haven't had the opportunity to meet him.)

Dad, though in no way professionally qualified to do so, years ago saved Sparky after an unfortunate tumble into a muddy marsh area of Morses Pond. The temperature was five degrees, my family was skating, and although most times Sparky was kept strictly on leash, he loved to race on the frozen pond. Except when he got to the part that never freezes.

Dad threw himself on the ice and inched toward Sparky, then managed to haul him up and over. The pup was shivering, dark brown from the mud and both of them were scared, but soon recovered.

But I digress, as usual.

Back to the valor exhibited by firefighters Papazian and Delaney. After viewing the video available on the Wellesley Police Department website, I called Lt. Delaney for some firsthand scoop, hoping there was some left that he hadn't already given out to the world's media. The New York Daily News, The Huffington Post, the UK's Daily Mail...all the TV news outlets, every dog blog in the world, it seems, carried the news. Except for mine.

But who could get the up close, personal story? You know, with the meaty info?

That would be me. Dad placed a call on my behalf to Lt. Delaney and asked the pertinent questions.

Here are the answers: First, the local deli to which Crosby's owner, Amy Kapinos, provided gift cards was one of my very favorites: The Linden Store. (I prefer the Isabella, but the Kaitlynn is amazing, too.)
Second, the Christmas cookies she delivered to the station: sugar, in the shape of dog bones. Yum.

Now to the kudos. Many have commented on the bravery shown by our Wellesley first responders. Here's one example:

Walt from Miami commented on the Daily Mail's site:
"Thank You as well, Dave Papazian and Paul Delaney for saving this animal. You both deserve the highest respect and recognition society can bestow for risking your lives and bringing Crosby home for Christmas."



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Santa's in town!

Looking for a Santa to add a little energy to your Christmas
celebrations? I'm available.

Merry Christmas!

Keeping an eye on the presents.

Christmas is a happy time, and I'm always happy to receive an early gift. This one, addressed to my sister, especially piqued my interest. She didn't seem to mind me spoiling the surprise.

It's a new species of rabbit: one mixed with a tiger that somehow sports a mustache.
Strike that: it did sport a mustache, before I got hold of it. Now it's part of The Land of Lost Pieces of Christmas Toys, a collection to which I frequently contribute. It's not a particularly helpful habit, I realize, but I'm the first to realize that I am not perfect. Perhaps it's something I could work on as a New Year's resolution. It would require many, many toys on which to practice, but I'm game.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Why I love SmartPak: the store's siren song

I'm always happy when I can get to SmartPak.
It's not Greek to me. I know exactly why I love the SmartPak store on Rte. 9 in Natick. Truly, I could be trapped there forever, and not mind one bit.

Are you not getting my metaphor? Did you not read The Odyssey? The Sirens of Greek mythology lured sailors to their deaths with their irresistible song.

The only danger here, an ocean away from the rocky Sicilian islands said to be the Sirens' home, is the highway, not the sirens themselves.

Let me set the scene: Saturday afternoon, nothing to do. I'm bored with the usual routine, so I head down Grove Road. Mom notices, too late, and is powerless to stop me. As usual.

Did anyone notice that "usual routine" seems more than a bit redundant? The dictionary definitions don't really help here. Usual: habitually occurring or done; that which is customary. Routine: a sequence of actions regularly followed.

I feel the pull of the store. It's not the free treats on the counter. It's not the smell of the saddles, or the dog bones snug in a basket, just at nose-level.

Instead, it's this. The moment I walk in, I'm surrounded by young women. Giving me hugs, kisses, cooing in my ear,  praising my good looks, charm and gentleness. It was almost too much. Almost.

Mom always says that I am the pony she never got to have. I guess that's part of my charm. Apparently, the SmartPak women think so, too.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hoping Santa remembers the nice

Looking pretty decent in my Santa hat.
I can clean up real good, especially for a formal portrait. Lately I've been working on my manners. Here's how it happened: afternoon walks always seem to reach a midpoint at Petco Unleashed in Linden Square. The staff always is too kind to insist that just one cookie is enough, or that I might be baying too loudly.

But when Lynne saw Mom struggling mightily (as usual) with me, she suggested a training refresher and offered a free half-hour session. I went (although Mom didn't tell me why at first) and I didn't really mind. The deal is, you pretend to behave and get lots of free treats. You get to keep going back. As you can see from my Santa portrait, I can be both naughty and nice. Hoping that Santa will remember the nice on Christmas morning.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Looking for cute pictures of dogs playing in the snow?

I'm a Southern boy by birth, so snow is not really my thing.
How about cute pictures of dogs sleeping? Cute pictures of dogs stealing food? Cute pictures of dogs running around like maniacs?

Those I have. Plenty of them. The ones of dogs jumping and playing in the fluffy snow—well, you'll have to find yourself another source.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

What to do with all those leftovers? Here's a simple solution

This Pilgrim looks like he's had a
few leftovers too many.
Let's face it. If you've still got Thanksgiving leftovers, it's time to toss them. Because I was in long in kennel pent during the holiday, not only did I have no opportunity to snag some turkey in its post-oven resting phase, I was too hoarse to even contemplate putting paw to paper. That's what two and a half days of barking will do for you.

To my solution: it is simple, indeed. One's dog would be most grateful, especially if they, too, were in kennel pent. And if anyone is getting my Keats allusion, they would have been in complete agreement with David McCullough, Jr. as he spoke about the necessity of reading at the Wellesley Free Library Thursday night. (The Swellesley Report nicely distills the talk here. ) To those who didn't have the pleasure of being inspired by another fine English teacher, John L. Mahoney of Boston College, here is the link to Keats' poem from the Poetry Foundation. Read, and breathe.

But I digress, as usual. Back to leftovers. They're a constant problem in my house, and I suspect yours, too. So you left your precious family member at the kennel. Feel a tad guilty? Especially when said pet comes home barely able to speak? Erase that guilty feeling with a generous helping of turkey, ham, squash—whatever.

I gave my own leftovers to the lady down the street. Not food, of course–too precious—but clothing. I dug into my closet and came up with a Halloween costume that never quite worked. Not only am I rather averse to costumes, this one in particular had a strange duality: Pilgrim plus witch. What were they thinking?

This particular lady down the street, I suspected, would not mind this ahistorical issue. The heiress to a large cement bunny that perches on the edge of her property, she has embraced her acquisition with humor and verve, dressing it for various occasions: beads and fringe for Mardi Gras, patriotic wear for the Fourth. You get the idea.

In turn, I had the idea to bequeath this unusual gear, plus an angel costume of my predecessor Sparky, to the bunny. I figured the heiress would know what to do with my bequest.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

My award-winning dream date, and other impossibilities

Jewel sure is precious.
No, that wasn't me strutting my stuff you saw on the Today show this week. While certainly plenty of people have told me I'm just as striking, the National Dog Show champion actually is my dream girl, formally known as Grand Champion Kiarry's Pandora's Box. When she's off the judges' stand, she's known as Jewel.

I first set my sights on Miss Jewel earlier this year when she won best of the hound group at Westminster, and I wasn't at all surprised when she took top honors at the Philadelphia show.  She's the winningest American Foxhound ever!

Pandora's justifiably proud of her heritage, which I happen to share, in some roundabout way. But I'm more the country cousin to her classy upbringing.

Sort of like Lady and the Tramp, or maybe even Mom and Dad. Remember when Lady says of Tramp, "he's not really handsome...but I love him just the same?"

Well, I'm plenty handsome. And if I ever get the chance, just maybe—as hope was the only thing left when Pandora opened that forbidden box—Miss Jewel would think I'm a bit of a gem, too.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wild cat attack at elementary school playground

Telling Dad about my day.
Sometime last week, afternoon. Sunny day. I'm tearing around the fields next to Natick's Lilja elementary school, flying Mom like a kite. Really—if there had been a breath of wind, even a whisper, she would have been airborne.

So I'm having a wild time, and then things become wilder. My friend and admirer Alexis spots me and waves. I send out a bay. She asks: "How does Mr. Tucker do with cats?" For indeed, a cat is hanging around the playground. Thinking this cat belonged to Alexis, I am reluctant to respond, out of politeness.

But then, things get out of hand.

The cat begins to approach. I bay. And bay. And bay. I could not be louder, or more direct.

Now, I understand that cats are contrary, but this is ridiculous. This wild thing decides to go on the aggressive. It actually runs toward me. Stupidly? Fearlessly. Frighteningly (says Mom). At high speed.
Alexis' daughter chases after it. It zigzags back after me. I'm rip-roaring mad, and if it weren't for Mom's constant weight lifting that helped her hang on to me, that cat would have been chewed up and spit out.

Turns out it was the same cat who decided to box with me a few weeks ago. I'm salivating for the chance to show it who's boss. But fortunately for Mom,  Alexis' daughter chases again, the cat zips past me, and heads under the dumpster.

The way I see it, it's just the place for cats.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

If sitting is bad for you, what does that mean for writers?

Do not disturb.
Here's what I'm wondering: if sitting is bad for you, does that make writers at risk for living shorter lives? As a writer, I have an interest in this topic.

Yet, despite the photo in my last blog post, I rarely sit. So rarely, in fact, that my family takes note of it. "He's sitting!" they'll exclaim, and take a picture.

The only time they don't remark, or exclaim, or do anything but sigh, loudly and persistently, is when I perform my signature move: the Plop of Doom. It's not really a sit at all, more like a statement: "I'm not going where you want me to go. So there. Make me move. Just try. You'll end up giving in sooner or later."

Sit. It's one of the first things that humans like to teach a dog. Of course, we've already learned plenty by the time they even try anything. I do a grudging version of sit when they present my food—actually, it's more like a plie, because I never seem to make it all the way down. By then, they're just so exhausted by my baying that they give in. What, really, do they expect? They ask me if I'm hungry, and I tell them.

Sparky, in contrast, would sit patiently near his empty bowl for his food, so predictably that my sister put up a sign over it reading "Order Line."

So it turns out, perhaps not surprisingly, that sitting is bad for you. And even walking a ton (Dad, who does a lot of sitting, writing and reading, does up to 7 miles a day), does not offset sitting. Which leads to the question: should all writers take up the habits of hounds? Or get desk treadmills?

But here's another question for the researchers: if sitting is bad for you, what about sleeping? Is sleeping bad for you? Because the answer to that would really pique my interest. Let me know—after I wake up.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dog attacked at Wellesley College

Me pre-attack. I'd rather run around like a wild thing,
but I get that a leash keeps me, and others, safe.

The subject of this headline? That would be me.

Before I go into details, I must thank the man who saved my life. Not only did was he able to somehow unlock the attacking dog's death grip on my neck, he managed to hold onto his Bernese Mountain Dog at the same time.

His dog, I add, was on a leash.

Thanks to you, man of Bernese, I live. And I could not be more grateful. But for those who did not witness this attack, let me backtrack.

Saturday. A gorgeous day. My family and I, fresh off Boston College's extremely satisfying win over Virginia Tech, head out to the college for a walk. It's after 5 p.m., the weather soft and warm, the fall leaves glorious. I'm trekking along the path from the boathouse toward Green Beach. It's narrow there, where the "spoon-holders" attract those entranced by the view. I spot the Bernese, and I start to bay. Loudly.

I have this thing about large, furry creatures. I make a lot of noise when I see them, and I do need to be held. Not that I would do anything, but still. It's unseemly.

Dad was holding me, admirably. Having had my strength and doggedness favorably compared with that of BC running back Andre Williams, I know it's not easy to keep me back. Guess that's what the leash is for.

So Dad and I are about to move on, when suddenly this muscly, tan, shorthaired beast—and I mean beast—comes out of nowhere, clamps onto my neck and will not let go. Will not. He's all over me. I can't move. Things are not looking good. At all.

The beast, I perhaps unnecessarily add, is not on a leash. His owner? I can't even see her. The Bernese Man resolutely, firmly, bravely gets his own grip on the back of the beast's neck and begins to detach him, bit by painful bit. Dad assists. Mom holds down my skin so it stays on my body, and somehow I am free.

Wounded, you might ask?

Let's just say that, were I Boston College #44, I wouldn't be starting in next week's game.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween, Disney style

What, you were expecting Sleeping Beauty? Actually, after this exhausting
All Hallows' Eve,  I could use a nap.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ears ringing? Paws in the Park for much needed relaxation

In my cowering corner.
I'm headed to the 5th annual Paws in the Park on Sunday to benefit the Animal Protection Shelter of Southeastern Massachusetts, and I hope I'll meet you there. It's a fun day of romping around, and boy, do I need it.

Why so far afield, you might ask. Here's the answer: I need to get as far away as possible from Mr. Smoke Detector Man, who terrorized me last week, leaving me a mess of quivering bones. It was, I guess, an early Halloween at our house.

Imagine: 1:30 a.m. BONG! BONG! BONG! EVACUATE! EVACUATE! EVACUATE! If you have one of these things, you know exactly what I'm complaining about. Torture. Utter torture. It would not stop, no matter what. (Mom keeps the manual right by her bed, so she ordinarily knows what to do).

Finally, in her deranged state, she took out the battery (the things are hard-wired too, not to worry, and all connected to each other, drat). That meant one chirp per minute, the rest of the loooong night long, until she could run out later that a.m. to get more batteries. I must have drooled out and shook off about 20 pounds.

So she puts in the batteries, vacuums until my ears rang (again). I stay clear of the house. Fortunately, it was warm in the car in the garage. She coaxes me out after a couple of hours with some hamburger. I hide in the corner of the yard.

Much, much later, I venture onto my bed. Then, you guessed it: BONG! BONG! BONG! etc, etc, etc. Mom makes an angry call to the company's midwestern offices. The guy who answers simply does not care.

Having learned about the Nest, which nicely tells you, "By the way, your house might be on fire, but if it's not, just give me a wave and I'll shut up pronto," via Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! we sign up immediately after hanging up from Mr. Uncaring Smoke Detector Representative.

Back to Paws in the Park. There'll be a great walk through the lovely Easton grounds, dotted with ponds, a costume contest, Frisbee and agility demonstrations. Plus there won't be a smoke detector within hearing range. I guarantee it!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Close encounters of the cat kind (plus a couple of coyotes)

My imitation of Mom's scream.
So I'm ambling along the ridge on the western side of Morses Pond, and out of nowhere, a gray and white cat takes a swipe at me. He was hidden in the brush, and fresh from a perusal of the post-Columbus Day soccer tournament detritus at the Lilja fields, I was nosing for something interesting.

Rather than the pizza crust, gummi bears, and a piece of an unidentified candy bar, I discovered earlier (yum), I nearly had a noseful of cat scratch. He took not just one swipe, but several before Dad managed to wrestle me away. Mom did the scream thing, which actually did, I think, manage to scare that cat. I mean, anyone would have been terrified.

Speaking of, the birds under our feeder have been under attack by a gray and white cat, one with a pretty pink collar, and a blackish-brownish cat. (And that's why we call our newly rescued budgie Lucky.) But I fear that they will be terrorized, in turn, by the pair of coyotes I spotted this afternoon on Morses Pond Road. One was trotting down the street; the other was snooping around in the direction of the feeder.

Last year, coyotes attacked two small dogs in Wellesley, killing one. So, cats, beware! If you're not afraid of me (and clearly you are not) I have a feeling that this pair just might keep you inside this Halloween.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Should we get rid of the penny? I say absolutely not.

A roll of pennies saved is a roll to destroy.
Did you ever wonder whether banks count each one of those little Lincolns you carefully wrap and bring in to stoke your savings account? No? I gave my folks reason to think about it during a recent monetary recount.

Maybe it was the smell of money. Maybe it was that things were becoming just a little too tidy in Dad's study. Maybe I just wanted to throw my money around. In any case, I ripped open a bunch of those paper cylinders and left the evidence for my folks to ponder.

If we got rid of the penny, what would happen to Ben Franklin's maxim, "A penny saved is a penny earned?" What about "Find a penny, pick it up, all the day you'll have good luck?" What about all of those kids who learn basic chemistry with a penny and some baking soda and vinegar? We can't disappoint them, can we?

And what about all those dogs who, having nothing else to do besides drive their parents crazy, just like to wreak havoc?

Money. It's attractive. Today Mom observed an assistance dog, Charger—guess he usually prefers credit—nearly go for some dropped change at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts's John Singer Sargent exhibit. Maybe Charger thought his person had dropped it and is trained to pick up such things. Maybe he needed a bit of luck.

My parents really should be happy. Not only did they pick up one penny, they picked up hundreds. Lucky, indeed.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Dog parks in Natick's future?

Though my breed can scale fences, I'm good with staying inside this one.
Look, I'd like to roam as much as anyone. More than anyone, in fact. But given that I'd like to stay in one piece, I understand the need for fences.

Which is why I'm glad that Natick is exploring whether it might be a smart thing to create dog parks in town. My stomping grounds include the fields next to the Lilja School and the Hunnewell Woods, which serve as nformal dog parks for those dogs who actually listen to their people.  Or whose people think they listen to them.

Problem is, if I'm off-leash, I'm not listening. Let's face it: if I'm on leash, I'm not listening either. I'm a dog. I want to do what I want to do, and I work really hard at getting it.

So if it weren't past my bedtime, I would hie myself over to the Community-Senior Center on East Central Street at 7:30 p.m. Thursday for a community forum on whether dog parks would be doable, where they might be located, and how they might be paid for and managed. It's sponsored by the Open Space Advisory Committee.

Because I won't be able to participate, I hope that plenty of folks will show up. Count me in favor.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Meet my new American cousin: he's a Jersey boy now

Buddy seems like he'll make a great pal!
Though my roots are in South Carolina, my adopted family's are in New Jersey. And, although they are of the Jersey shore, they're definitely not that Jersey shore. You know the one I mean.

Even so, at the last family wedding, just a couple of weeks ago, the bride and groom's first dance was to Bruce Springsteen's Jersey Girl. I wasn't there, of course, but I heard all about it.

I wasn't invited to the other shore wedding this summer, either, and that's OK, but when Mom heard that the bride had exciting news, she called her immediately.

A new cousin on the way, perhaps?

"Mike and I adopted...a dog!!" the new bride exclaimed. "His name is Buddy, we've had him less than 24 hours, and we already love him!!!"

Many more exclamation points followed during which advice about halters, beds and food was given (and Mom hardly is the one to give such advice) along with a lengthy disquisition of the joys of canine companionship. (Note: I'm being repetitive here, because the word disquisition implies lengthy, but I like the way the two words sound together. Plus the repetition might help those who have never heard the word disquisition before, much less know what it means. I guess they haven't read my blog.)

While the humans also discussed sleeping arrangements involving a crate, I'm pretty sure that Buddy will have his own ideas about making himself comfortable in his new digs.

Buddy is a lab-chow mix, originally from Virginia (so a Southern boy like me), eight months old and the graduate of a training facility. He seems intelligent and charming, just like his cousin. Welcome, Buddy!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

May the force be with you

The grandmotherly type at the Petco Unleashed register in Wellesley looked down her nose at Mom, who as usual was struggling with me.

Caught in a particularly crazed moment.
"That's nothing," said the lady, waving her hand at my bulk as if she were shooing away a mosquito. "My daughter has a Great Dane who's 150—no, 160, pounds."

Mom, not aware that she had entered herself in the "Who Has the Biggest Dog" competition, did not respond, especially because she was trying to remove my front three-quarters from the countertop, where I had launched myself to try out the free treats.

(The last time I did this, I succeeded in knocking all of the treats to the ground, my typical M.O.)

Finally, after wrestling me down from the counter (at which was successful only because the treats proffered were undesirable to me) she said: "It's not the poundage, it's the force of will."

Unimpressed, the woman ignored this.

Now, I don't pretend to be the biggest dog on the block (honors there go to a French mastiff, or Dogue de Bourdeaux) nor do I need to compete with anyone—anyone, that is, except Mom.

Lately, she's taken to theatrics to get me to behave, such as using a deep voice to order me into the car after a walk. That is, when no strangers are around for me to impress with my sudden obedience.

It's really fun making Mom look foolish. Sometimes I feel a bit sorry, or a teeny bit embarrassed for her. But then, I get over it. Because winning, indeed, is the only thing.

Friday, September 27, 2013

It's official: I'm free!

Continuing my personal relationship with the Wellesley Police Department (more on that later), I was more than delighted to have a visit from Animal Control Officer Sue Webb yesterday morning.
Though she did interrupt my morning nap, I was thrilled to have her drop by.

I received Officer Webb in my boudoir, which Mom fortunately had picked up, leaving only, quite appropriately, the carcass of a once-stuffed fox draped on my blanket.

Presumably satisfied that I was not foaming at the mouth or otherwise showing evidence of derangement and disease from rabies, Officer Webb proclaimed the end of my 45-day quarantine. I am officially a totally free dog!

Lest, dear reader, you think I erred in some way to deserve being cast from society for more than a month, I offer a brief explanation, styled after Mom's esteemed Boston College English professor John L. Mahoney:

August 12, 2013. Natick, Massachusetts. An early morning. 8 a.m., in fact. Sunny, but cool. A mother, brown hair in a ponytail, and her child are playing on the playground at the Lilja Elementary School, accompanied by their furry, brown dog.

The evidence, now healed. My psyche, not so much.
I venture to meet the canine. He is tied to the fence. Seemed friendly enough. Suddenly, his tail went stiff. I find myself caught in a deadly bear hug. My neck has been chomped and I am bleeding.

Result: in the clink (sort of) for a month and a half, because I didn't know whether the biter was rabies-free. In the meantime, I'm getting a "not friendly" reputation because Mom hasn't let me meet other dogs. I hope that now I'm cleared we can repair that. I'd be happy to pass on this undeserved reputation to the dog who bit me. If I ever find him.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Woofstock 2013: Barky time for Buddy Dog Humane Society

Woof it up at Woofstock 2013 today at the Hudson Elks!
Hoof it on over to Hudson today for Woofstock 2013, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hudson Elks Lodge, 99 Park Street (or is it Bark Street?), Hudson. See if you pass the Canine Good Citizen test, check out the canine law enforcemnet demonstration, and woof it up with lots of other dogs! Plus, you're benefiting my home organization, Buddy Dog Humane Society, which saved my life.

Tons of vendors will be on hand, including Happy Hounds Honey of Holliston, plenty of dog rescue organizations, the House Rabbit Network, plenty of vendors selling all you need for your human as well as any of your canine needs. There will be a band (music by Secret Evil Plan—love the name!), food, drink, etc. etc. Sounds awesome!

I'd be there, if it weren't for that little matter of those two big teeth finding a home on my neck, say about 41 days ago. I'll be paroled in just four days, so watch out!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lost a budgie? He's at our birdfeeder

This budgie seems awfully hungry--he was moving
too fast for my camera. Then again, I'm a lousy picture taker.
Our friend Paul calls Mom "Dr. Doolittle" because she's always finding or rescuing animals. On Sunday, she found a rangy white dog loping around the Lasell College campus. He wasn't the kind you'd want to talk to, being rather aggressive, so Mom called campus police to help.

Unfortunately, after 18 minutes of waiting and keeping an eye out so the big scary guy wouldn't bite anyone or get run over by a car, said big scary dog loped away before police showed up.

I'm not the best at taking photos, and I really don't care a whole lot about birds, but I always like to see a pet find its home. Today, this buderigar showed up at our feeder, and since this species hails from Australia, I guess he's someone's pet. So if you're missing a pretty sky blue budgie, check in with Wellesley Animal Control. They'll know how to get in touch with me. I'd lend this bird my crate, but I have a feeling it's a tad too big.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Shackled again: house arrest diary, day 34

Unrelenting in my search-and-destroy chipmunk mission, I am a blur
of activity in the early a.m. You remember: "Early to bed, early to rise..."
I'm not going to begin the official countdown until day 40, but the terms of my release have been straitened by the removal of the yellowjacket nest. Indeed, they were yellowjackets, not cicada killers, which hunt alone. No, the source of my wasp sting lay underneath the honeysuckle bush.

In case you were wondering, I did not misspell the word straightened. In fact, the word I used, straitened, is not only spelled correctly, it has a completely different meaning from straightened. I mean to say that my confines were further restricted (i.e., straitened, meaning narrowed in scope or range) by the discovery of said nest, and the removal of it. The bee-suited man from Waltham Pest Control explained that the foraging bees would be searching, fruitlessly, for their doomed, rather extensive three-tiered abode, and therefore buzzing angrily in the area in which I most like to pancake.

In other words: no going out in the garden.

You know, this whole problem might never have happened had it not been for chipmunks. I diligently hunt these tiny beasts, and attempt to dig them up, but so far my efforts have been as fruitless as those homeless foraging stinging things.

Mom read that yellowjackets are kind of lazy diggers, and so take advantage of holes already in the ground, like those left by planting shrubs...or by pesky chipmunks.

So, neighbors, please understand: my a.m. baying serves two purposes. One, to warn you of pesky chipmunks. They indeed are in the vicinity. Two, to frighten chipmunks away, in case some yellowjackets decide to move in. Both are known to be dangerous. Cave vespula (beware of yellowjacket). Cave tamias striatus (chipmunk). But don't cave canem, at least not of me. Despite having to serve time, I'm perfectly harmless.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Weekends with Daisy is out, and I'm in the doghouse

Daisy would  never be allowed to lounge in a chair in real life,
so I'm giving her some virtual space in my living room.
"Daisy would never do that," I can feel Mom thinking as I bay up a storm, impatient for the day's walk—no, romp—to start. Already I've been waiting, while Dad makes his traditional Saturday blueberry pancakes and Mom has at least two cups of coffee. I have my own Saturday traditions: jumping on and off the bed, just to make sure Mom is still alive.

Ever since this Daisy came into her life, via Sharron Kahn Luttrell's memoir, Weekends with Daisy, of training a pup to help disabled people, Mom has been comparing me to this stellar example of canine virtue. Look, I know all about behaving. It's just that, true to my nickname, Tuckerby, I prefer not to. I'm bigger than Mom and more stubborn than all get-out, so I just plain win. Pretty much all the time.

Now, I could write my own memoir, but it would be all about training your parents, not your dog. Training the Tucker Way: How to Have the Parents You've Always Wanted would include all of the excellent tips I've shared on my blog, plus some top-secret methods only revealed to my closest friends. I wouldn't dare tell Daisy, were I lucky enough to meet her.

That would not be gentlemanly, and no matter how much I misbehave, I remain a southern gentleman at heart.

Check out the book. You'll be glad you did. Also, you might check out my interview with Sharron about the joys and challenges of having Daisy in her life.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Attacked by cicada killers!

The perpetrator: cicada killer wasp.
Photo by Fritz Geller-Grimm
via Wikimedia Commons
A typical summer afternoon: hot and sunny. I pancaked myself in the only spot of full sun on our practically bare, dry grass (Mom doesn't believe in watering it) by the pond and snoozed. I bothered no one, or so I thought.

A wasp thought otherwise. Perhaps my bulk was in the way. Perhaps the wasp mistook me for a giant cicada. In any case, I did not deserve to be 1) woken up; 2) assaulted; 3) left in great pain for some time.

The female Bembix americana apparently stings a cicada and paralyzes it, then manages to fly it into its burrow, then lays an egg on it (or them--sometimes she will stuff two or three) and closes up the burrow with dirt. When the egg hatches, there's plenty of food for it. "Nests often are made in the full sun where vegetation is sparse," says Wikipedia.

Note to Mom: do more watering.

Fortunately, the wasp did not attempt to drag me into its burrow. However, when Mom tried to revive her dying plants by finally turning on the hose a couple of days later, she, too, was stung. Which is really too bad, because she's allergic, and this one little pinch put her in a stupor for days.

 Wikipedia's sources claim that these cicada killers "do not land on people and attempt to sting." Well, I guess they don't attempt, they simply achieve. Nowhere, however, was there mention of these vicious killers' completely unjustified attacks on the canine species. Just one more reason not to trust Wikipedia. And to keep a nice, green, lush, lawn.

Monday, August 26, 2013

What I did on National Dog Day

Not to be nosy, but don't you think it's time to adopt another pup?
1. To make sure my parents started the day in complete agreement that adopting me was the absolute best thing that ever happened to them, I let them sleep in.
2. Bolted like a madman through Hunnewell Woods.
3. Slept.
4. Slept.
5. Woke up to eat.
6. Slept.
7. I must have been sleepy, because I got suckered into looking at cute dog pix on the Huffington Post National Dog Day gallery. I'm not usually that sentimental.
8. Slept, grateful that I'm no longer in a shelter, and thinking of all those pups in need of homes.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Best ice cream in the country? Find it at Sunshine Dairy in Sherborn

Taking in the country air at Sunshine Dairy in Sherborn.

I'm a country boy by birth, so I appreciated escaping from the confines of my "strict confinement" in Wellesley and trucking it out to Sherborn, past the llamas at Iron Horse Farm and the horses at Sweet Meadow Farm.

I'm famous for not getting out of the car during these evening sojourns, but Sunshine Dairy's country air was too tempting to resist. So rather than slinking back into the dark recesses of the wagon, I uncharacteristically leapt out to explore.

Mom and Dad have been going to Sunshine Dairy for a quarter-century, Mom for the frozen yogurt, Dad for whatever ice cream sounds the weirdest. After my sister came along, they'd ride out on a summer night, but recalcitrant like me, she would never order anything. So there they'd be, slurping their cones, with a toddler saying "no, thank you" to ice cream. She definitely was the first Bartleby in our family (the reference is to the law clerk who would "prefer not to" in the Melville story).

Hoping Dad remembers to place my order.
Though I am known to my family variously as "The Beast" (for obvious reasons) and "Tuckerby," (for my oft-exhibited recalcitrant behavior a la Bartleby)  I would never prefer not to eat ice cream. 

Everything turned out to be uncharacteristic at Sunshine. Besides me getting out of the car,  my parents ordered opposite their usual way. Dad had the ordinary-sounding strawberry, but he reported it had real strawberries and no fake coloring; Mom had cherry chip yogurt with actual cherries. I only got the drips, but they were delicious.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

House arrest diary, day 12: a smelly roll that was worth a bath (almost)

Zooming right toward my dirt pile after my bath.
I head to Morses Pond via the aqueduct while Mom keeps on the lookout for off-leash dogs. On the way, she meets (but I don't) a cute lab-hound puppy named Dude, our new neighbor. Can't wait to be able to play with him...once I get the electronic ankle bracelet off, I mean. You'd think I was the one who transgressed.

As for my bite wound, thanks for asking. It's healing nicely and my hair is growing back.

For once, I don't push my luck and insist on going to SmartPak. We struggle through the sidewalk weeds and rubble along Rte. 9 past the CVS construction site. Mom and Dad wish for the umpteenth time that Wellesley would have the new CVS, the Dunkin' Donuts, the Volvo place and Jarvis put in some sort of walking path behind their businesses so that we don't have to worry about getting run over.

We safely trot over to the town beach, where I check out the dock and threaten to jump off. Just kidding! Then, while Mom is chatting with some former students, I find this awesome smelly patch and roll madly. Really madly. Hysterically madly. I'm so covered in this great odor that it challenges the car exhaust on the way home.

Click. That's the gate, and I'm trapped within the confines of my yard. Mom's got the shampoo out (really, lavender?) and the warm water ready, so I play like I'm a horse and just get through it. When she realizes she forgot my towel, I see my opportunity and take off, heading straight toward my dirt pile where I romp it up. I'm pretending to dig for chipmunks, but I'm just throwing dirt around for the fun of it. I race around maniacally, then pop open the door and continue my hijinks inside.

Let me tell you, if I wasn't in the doghouse before, I am now. Worth it? Oh, yeah.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

House arrest diary, day 10

Me in pancake mode, although these photos were taken some
time ago when I was rather portly, lessening the flat effect.
I am released from house arrest to be taken to Natick Animal Clinic, where I bounce off all of the walls in the examining room in an attempt to meet the other dog patients. I press my nose to the bottom of the door in hopes their scent will waft through, and it's amazing what a quarter of an inch of air can tell you.

I eagerly exit my vehicle, thinking I'm going for a playdate at the kennel, but no dice. Instead, I am examined by some very loving and competent people. They kindly ask after my welfare.

Is he eating? Oh, yes, says Mom. Especially since the medicine needs to be taken with food, twice a day, twelve hours apart. Let's face it: I'm not up for 12 hours at a stretch, or any stretch, for that matter.

Say I eat at 9 a.m. and have my med. There's no way I'd be up at 9 p.m., and the promise of my ordinary chow would definitely not be enough to make me open my eyes. So Mom and Dad bring me peanut butter laced food, with antibiotics discreetly tucked inside, directly to my chair. I barely have to lift my head to eat. Then I immediately go back to sleep.

Is he lethargic? Well, it's hard to tell, says Mom. I know what she's thinking: my usual mode is pancaked on some horizontal surface, pretty much all day and all night. My other usual mode, as exhibited at the clinic, is wild. I like to change things up just to keep life interesting.

Anyway, Mom has been worried about my weight, so she is thrilled when those late-night feedings add three pounds to the scale.

Just 35 more days to go, and then I'll be a free man. If I can get my folks to keep up the peanut butter treatment, I'll be a more substantial one, too. In the meantime, Mom keeps scouring neighborhoods near Lilja school on the lookout for my attacker, accosting and interrogating everyone she sees.

Talk about rabid—I wouldn't be surprised if someone reported her to animal control.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New top dog at the White House!

"So excited to introduce the newest member of the Obama family—our puppy, Sunny!" tweeted First Lady Michelle Obama about the First Family's new pup, Sunny, yesterday. Check out the official White House video of Sunny doing a dog version of tickle torture on brother Bo.

Wish I had a sibling...but we'd need lots of room to roam. Wellesley dog park, anyone?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Official royal baby photo: woof!

Prince George and Tilly, a Middleton family golden retriever,
both snoozing on the left; Lupo, the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge's cocker spaniel, shows off his smile.
Check it out: two dogs share the spotlight with little Prince George in the baby's first official portrait, taken by his proud grandfather, Michael Middleton.

Lupo, a handsome black cocker spaniel, mugged for the camera with his dad while his princely brother slept. Looks like all three tykes have plenty of room to roam at the Middleton's place. Maybe I can get a royal invite? After I finish serving my house arrest, I mean.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Vacation hobby: dog collecting

Here's what happens on vacations: while I'm woofing it up at the pet hotel, my family is pining after me, looking for any excuse whatsoever to brag about my finer points.

So when they saw this basset hound lounging on the dock in Bass Harbor, Maine, they chatted up the owners and fawned over the pup so much they almost missed the boat—literally.

Otis, of Portland, Maine: a bit sleepy from being dragged around during vaca.
Turns out that Otis and I share some grand hound characteristics: hating to go out in the rain, loving to tease our owners when we finally do. Here's a trick Otis and I both employ: refuse to go out, then wake up your mother in the middle of the night, run out in the pouring rain, and refuse to come in. This trick involves Mom learning to come after you with a leash to bring you inside. The key is to train the parent into coming after you with the leash. Do not move a muscle until she does so. Up the ante by hiding somewhere in the bushes so she has to search for you with a flashlight.

Here's another trick from Seiner, a dog in Southwest Harbor.
Seiner stays perfectly still in an uncomfortable-looking pose until
one rubs his belly. Like a model, he'll pose until you finally get the idea.
Seiner plops down in the middle of his busy shop, Under the Dogwood Tree, and stays so still that the owner says people sometimes check to see if he is still alive. That's the idea: capture attention. If he doesn't get it, Seiner will try a different pose. I need to learn this trick. It's the opposite of my hide and seek routine, Where's Tucker?, so it will be challenging for my parents.

While Otis' owners were wondering just why they had taken him on vaca, my family planned this trip knowing full well I was not welcome at their vaca stay, which has a cat as a mascot. Otherwise, no pets allowed at the Seawall Motel. Still, my folks highly recommend it.

Here's a photo of Speed Bump, who on first meeting, was plopped on the sidewalk living up to his name. A sign alerted them to slow down, which they did the whole time they were in Maine. After all, that's the point of vaca, no?
Speed Bump in an uncharacteristic upright position.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

President Obama shook the hand that shook my paw

My pal Serena meets President Obama at Nancy's on Martha's Vineyard.
One degree separating him and me, two between me and Bo.
My sister's best friend rang up yesterday, thrilled that she had just shaken hands with President Obama at Nancy's Restaurant in Oak Bluffs.

By chance, Serena was on the Vineyard during the President's vacation, having lunch with her mother.

"I saw three Secret Service, and a dog," she recounted. "Bo?" exclaimed Mom, all aflutter. "Bo Obama?"

No, a service dog, said my pal, a cat lover who tolerates me. But then the president appeared, shook hands with the crowd who had hoped for a sunny day on Nancy's deck, picked up his take-out bag, and left.

You can experience the moment and see and hear the excited crowd on this Cape Cod Times video, which features Serena's mom. I'm sure that given the opportunity, she would have extended my regards to Bo. But for now I'm content with shaking the hand of those who shook the president's hand, who shook Bo's paw.
Took this photo exactly a year ago. Not sure how Dad's head got cropped
out, but you can see who's important in our family.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dog bites dog, I get a pain in the neck and a 45-day quarantine

Vampire bite? No, chocolate lab.
In other words, cave canem. You know, Latin for beware of dog. Here's what happened:

I was on my walk this morning, heading past Lilja School, when I met this chocolate lab at the playground. I said hi, he said hi.

But I guess he didn't really mean it, because he jumped me, put two paws around me and sank one pointy tooth, vampire style, into my neck.

If the dog had looked anything like this Pompeiian dude,
I wouldn't have given him the time of day. Really, he seemed fine.
Ouch. I howled, but then, being a low-key guy, I kept on going.

Except, about a half-hour later, when I was heading back home, Mom noticed the blood seeping onto the white part of my coat.

Off I went, pronto, to the vet, where the spot was shaved (yuk!), cleaned, and I was given a rabies booster. Even though my shots are up to date, the vet explained it's the law. I'm also on a 10-day course of antibiotics, and Mom had to pony up $130 for the visit and meds. I felt the pinch of the shot, she felt the wallet pinch. I guess that's fair. Still, it was one costly walk. And it hurts, too. But that's not the worst of it...

The last time I was accosted, I was able to identify my attacker and Dad determined that his rabies shots were up to date. However, I didn't know this dog. That means we don't know whether he's vaccinated or in the throes of a fatal disease.

I suspect not, but that doesn't matter. Because we don't know, Massachusetts requires that the dog who was bitten stay away from other animals and people other than family members. For 45 days! If we can find the dog and determine it's up to date with its shots, I'm quarantined for a mere 10 days, which would be torture enough.

So if you know a chocolate lab who seems nice but can be a bit testy while on leash, please let me know. It doesn't seem fair that I should have to stay in when I didn't do anything.

I don't want revenge, just freedom. Send the note addressed to me at dreamsdudog [at] And thanks.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Depending on the kindness of strangers: the car problem

I enjoy the pleasures of car travel, especially when I slide this so-called
pet barrier over and hop in the driver's seat. That's the goal, anyway.

Mom hasn't always depended on the kindness of strangers—just in the last four years or so, after I came along. I'm just saying that, ordinarily, she's no Blanche DuBois.

Yet, because I have Mom wrapped right around my substantial paws, she often needs some assistance. Said help most often is sought when she thinks it's time for me to get back in the car, or C-A-R as she and Dad like to call it. As if I didn't learn how to spell it long ago.

After a very shaky start when I was a pup just out of the shelter, I now adore getting into the car—when I'm at home. I'm onto another trick that my family employs—getting out the C-A-R in emergencies, like the time I escaped and ______  [fill in the blank with whatever adventurous episode comes to mind—I've had many]. "Want to go in the CAR?" they say with emphasis, and because I do, I hop in, even though I know they're just taking me back home. I can always refuse to get out once I get there (see below).

But back to Blanche. When I recently refused to get back into the car after some needless grooming at Natick Animal Clinic, Mom was desperate enough to ask a cat owner for help. A double cat owner. The kind woman tried, but failing, promised to drop off her cats and return. She did. I complied. Then I foiled the pet barrier that keeps me in the way back and plopped in the front seat. Ever cautious Mom then had to go through the whole thing all over again. Stop, get me out, ask a stranger for help, get me nauseam for her, fun for me.

I've forced Mom to play out the same scenario at the Rte. 128 Amtrak station, at Wellesley Town Hall, the Wellesley Books parking lot, etc., etc., etc.

Just because I can. Because I really do like the C-A-R.

My latest trick: refusing to get out. That involves a whole other strategy, better discussed in another post.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lost and found: the power of the microchip

Jelly enjoying the comforts of my crate. At least
someone found it useful!
Mom always has liked to collect animals, or at least look out for them. During my family's recent Plymouth sojourn, she was ready to rescue an exhausted-looking golden retriever, who dutifully went after a big stick thrown into the water...again...and again...and again...and again...the darn thing looked so pooped that even Dad, sitting aloft atop White Cliffs, worried that Mom would dash to the rescue.

Fortunately, the owners came to their senses and let the dog plop down on the beach, just like they were doing.

I tell this tale because of an interesting update regarding Jelly, the cat that my sister found last summer mewing in a group of bushes at the Lilja School fields. Noticing what a lovely cat it was, and keeping it carefully away from moi, my family betook themselves to the Cat Whisperer (aka Dr. Anthony Cosimini at the Cat's Hospital in Wellesley) hoping that it was microchipped.

Alas, it was not, but thanks to my amazing Amazonian caregiver, the only human who could possibly rassle me and win, we were able to return the  (I must say) adorable Jelly to its owners, feeling a bit like we had stolen the poor thing. The dad declared that the family would have Jelly microchipped immediately.

Later that fall, we learned that Jelly had again gone missing, and we lost track of the story. This morning, however, we had an update: Jelly had a cough, and was taken to the vet by a family who had taken her in. There, the vet had to inform the family that "their" cat actually wasn't—being microchipped, Jelly was reunited yet again with her true family. Lucky cat, to be given such care!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My family went to the beach...and all I got was a leftover beach towel

The picture of exhaustion.
So while my family headed to the beach last weekend, I overnighted at Southboro Kennels. I sashayed around the premises with the best of them, including Martha, a fetching coonhound, and came home exhausted.

I was looking forward to a good long nap and some make-up decadent meals provided by my guilt-ridden family, and what did I get? A good curry combing and an immediate bath—believe me, I wasn't even allowed inside first. When I was done, I insisted on sleeping in the chair. The guilt having properly kicked in, Mom wrapped me in her beach towel, and when I woke up 12 hours later, I was given all the treats I could stand.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A dog's version of Where's Waldo

In my own, forgotten little corner. Mom later gave
me a blanket—voila! New sleeping place.

I have two modes: the first, and most common, is silent. My nails do not click, click on the hardwood floor. My hardware does not jangle. I do not pant like a Lab. My tail, when wagged, does not knock anything off the table. In short, I move about the house mostly unobserved, which is kind of fun for someone my size. I slip down the basement stairs at the slightest sign the door is open and take up residence on the couch, refusing to come up.  I pad upstairs, unnoticed, after baying a greeting to a visitor (my alternative mode, which is more like a proclamation than any bark you've ever heard).

Which leads my family to frantically believe I have somehow left the premises.  Because I have many, many hiding places, "Where's Tucker?" becomes kind of a game. Fortunately, I do not have to wear anything unusual—I'm distinctive enough to be recognized just about anywhere within a, say, five mile radius.

Today's storm downed trees in Wellesley and Natick and scared me enough to find a new venue for my game. I pushed between the armchair and the piano (a tight squeeze, in all directions, but I was desperate). You know how when you play hide and seek, it's at first exciting to know people are looking for you? Then it gets boring when no one can find you?

That's what happened to me. I shivered hoping someone would find me. Finally Dad appeared, as did my own personal rainbow.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Smile! I'm on Google Street View

What does this image communicate?
In this age of Instagram, where civilization seems to be returning to pictographs, I've been pondering life's essential questions, including "Why do living things communicate?"

I answered one of its many subsidiary questions, "How do living things communicate?" when I returned from vacation. I simply  hit "reply all with quote" on my p-mail, catching up with everyone along my route: an age-old solution. Hey, it works.

But I digress, sort of. Sometime last fall, I encountered the Google Street View camera during a spin on Oakridge Avenue in Natick. I smiled, hoping that I'd get on camera, then promptly forgot about it.

Images do have an enduring power, perhaps longer than a p-mail. Thinking about communicating through images, I checked Google Maps, and there I am, taking up all of the wayback in Mom's car. Just what does this image say about our culture?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Boston strangler mystery solved: I sniff out the answers to unasked questions in notorious case

Here's what I'd do if an intruder came by.
Dad's book spares no details.
With the latest in the Boston Strangler case connecting Albert DeSalvo's DNA to the last murder victim, my dad hit the airwaves with his expertise.

So I asked him the question no one else dared to ask: What role did dogs play in that notorious case?

"Dogs played a very important role, because they were protectors of single women who feared for their lives," he said, while munching on his breakfast after returning from an early morning appearance on New England Cable News.

Aside to readers: Lest the sarcasm is not apparent, let me elucidate: Mr. Boston Strangler Expert is eating his breakfast at 8 a.m. with my walk long overdue. I made sure the neighbors heard about this.

So dogs played a crucial role? (All good reporters ask leading questions.)

"Absolutely," he said. "Newspapers at the time told of how animal shelters were swept clean of dogs who needed homes. Because there was no pattern to the murders except that victims were all women who lived alone, women felt dogs could help protect them."

There you have it, live from the source.
Signing off,
Tucker the news hound

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July cake pops!

Happy Fourth of July!

In celebration of our great country, Petco Unleashed is giving out free red, white and blue cake pops! I snagged a cake pop and some other freebies just by plopping down and refusing to leave until properly sated. More on my latest antics later.

Whatever way you get them, here's how you eat them. Or at least how I eat them:
1. Unwrap the pop.
2. Slide the pop off the stick.
3. Smush slightly, then swallow whole.