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.