Saturday, June 22, 2013

Can there really be a world's ugliest dog? That depends.

Face it, some pups are better looking than others. But to whom? It's an age-old question which I like to answer by turning to that old—very old—Latin saying: De gustibus non est disputandum.
In other languages, namely, English, that means, you can't argue about taste. Grandma detests cilantro, Mom loves it. I detest (insert name of large, shaggy dog breed here); their owners love them. I guess.

I bring this up only because the World's Ugliest Dog contest results are in, and the winner (he takes home some significant cash, plus is destined for many media appearances) is a  part-basset, part-beagle, part-boxer dude named Walle. You'll be seeing him on the Today show and everywhere else soon. I happen to think he's kind of cute.

You know, once we get into the world's best, world's most kind of category, you've lost me. So not only should we not dispute about taste, let's get real about the world category. How big a world are we talking about?

Welcome to my world. In mine, anyway, I understand that each day brings its ups and downs. To demonstrate, I present two images for your gustatory consideration. You decide.
Here I am looking horror-movie scary.

Here I am looking movie-star handsome.

Fireworks: Not music to my ears

Fireworks-setter-offers, I beseech thee: STOP! in the name
of frightened canines.
I spent most of last night in the bathroom, but not for the reasons you might think.

About 9 p.m. or so, someone in my neighborhood set off some fireworks. You know that I'm a sensitive—some might say skittish—guy. Remember, I was kicked off the foxhound team down in South Carolina (and thank goodness for that).

Here's what I think: Is this sort of behavior necessary? Is it legal? Not only that: Can't people leave it until the Fourth? And keep it there? Or at least wait until July? Apparently not.

So I hunkered down in the safest place I could think of, my sister being away and therefore her closet being not quite as comforting as usual. Later, I snuggled in Mom and Dad's closet, not quite as cozy but I decided it would have to do.

As I write, I hear more popping sounds.  It's back to the bathroom for me. And here's a problem for my engineer sister to solve: how to make noiseless fireworks. I, and many of my brethren, would be grateful.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lucky guy: I don't have to work

Not only do I not have to work, I had absolutely nowhere to go on Take Your Dog to Work Day. Some might think me lucky. And they would be right. Dad doesn't really have to be anywhere this time of year, and if it weren't for all of those snowdays, neither would Mom.

So while I missed out on the social aspects of the day, I took advantage of my good fortune in a myriad of ways:

1. During a walk on the Wellesley College campus, I spied something edible and consumed it. Never having tried this comestible before, I was a bit befuddled. Mom, alerted by my sharp, crackling crunching, assumed the worst: a bone. But no. When she looked closely at the patch of grass that served as my dinner plate, she found only a long, slim piece of paper. On it was written some wise words:
I am nice, and important, too!

2. The longest day of the year = numerous baseball games. Baseball=hotdogs. I found a good long one at the field. Mom didn't dare try to stop me: I inhaled while she contemplated how to give a Heimlich maneuver to a dog. It went down easy, leading to the third lucky thing:

3. A cool drink of water. Just down the path from the field, someone had left a dog bowl, filled with water. Considering I drink from puddles, ponds and birdbaths, it seemed pretty clean to me. And so thoughtful!

A lucky guy indeed. My lucky numbers, in case you want to try them: 12, 20, 25, 27, 48 and 17.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Adding a Tucker-style twist to Stop, Drop and Roll

Not to play around too much with those three important lifesaving words, but I'd like to introduce my own spin on Stop, Drop and Roll. While it does have something to do with saving oneself, it's not exactly one for the textbooks.

Unless it's a veterinary textbook, or you're a dog, and it's hot.

Here's the twist, Tucker-style. Stop, Drop, Roll, and Plop.

In four easy steps, you can cool yourself off and give your walker a much-needed break. Let me explain.

Step #1. The Stop.
This step is non-negotiable. You don't hem and haw and step to one side or the other. You make up your mind to stop, preferably near some cool, dewy grass in the shade. I'm particular about the grass. It needs to be thick enough to hold up under my bulk, tall enough to hide plenty of dew, and if you care at all about your people, be situated within some shade so they won't become completely cranky. Plan well, and your stop will be successful.

Step #2. The Drop.
Demonstrating the Drop.
It is crucial that the drop IMMEDIATELY follow the Stop. Fall quickly and heavily to the cushioned ground. This may alarm your person, so try to smile while so doing. First-timers: skip the smile and concentrate on form. Pros: a sardonic grin might be appropriate.

Step #3. The Roll.
The Roll.
Savor this step. No need to rush. Be sure to cool your body in the dewy grass. No need to exert oneself too much: I take about three or four rolls at the most. Then, it's on to my personal variation:

Step #4. The Plop.
The Plop.
This Plop is distinguished from the Plop O'Doom in that, rather than indicating a refusal to move forward in any way, in any direction, or in any circumstance, placing one in complete opposition with one's person, it is a restful Plop. One will get up, eventually, when one is reasonably well cooled, and be on one's way. It's no less forceful than the Plop O'Doom, yet more gentle in aspect. One is close to nature, mellow and calm in the Step 4 Plop, as opposed to being annoyed. In addition, this Plop is taken lying down: a proper Plop O'Doom melds one's posterior to the ground, for as long as it takes your person to give in. My personal POD record: nearly an hour. A Step 4 Plop need not take more than 10 minutes.

Try it and let me know how it goes. I'm always available for consultation.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Highly successful habits of hounds

Today we will discuss the Number 1 successful habit of hounds: stick-to-it-iveness.

By baying, begging or outright thievery, I was getting me some turkey!
While hounds might seem a bit pedantic and predictable, that very focus and attention to detail serves us well.

Example: Each afternoon, when I venture out for a walk, I aim toward the SmartPak horse and dog gear store in Natick. It proffers much of what a hound would love: doting fans, food, and irresistible odors. Seemingly uncharacteristically, I often eschew the food, not wanting to muddy the splendid scents emanating from horse leather and equine-loving people.

Last week, however, I traversed the entire store, took in all I wanted, and found I wanted more: the treats at the counter.

Skeptical, expecting me to spit it out, Mom insisted I sit for the first one.  I grudgingly submitted. "Only crumbs left, Tucker," she said, knowing that I prefer my treats large and unbroken. She turned to leave. I did not. These treats were so good, I just had to see for myself.

I rested my paws on the counter. A sign on the treat bowl read "Help Yourself." I did.

Now, I am not a clumsy sort, so I neatly scooped up a couple of crumbs. I needed more. I jumped again, deftly knocking the bowl and its contents to the ground. First I cleaned the bowl.
Then I cleaned the rug.

Mom was astounded. True, I never eat off the floor. But I knew something she didn't. Those treats were made of turkey. That morning, I nearly bagged a turkey in the Hunnewell Woods, but Dad wouldn't let me. All day, I'd been dreaming of turkey. Obsessing over turkey. Salivating over turkey. And I got it: Wellness Pure Rewards Turkey Jerky. At last.