Monday, December 29, 2014

Bruiser looking for a fight attacks Sleepwalker's dog

"Stray Dog" hits the streets of Manhattan.
Look, the guy couldn't have been too smart. When I saw the Tony Matelli dog sculpture at Wellesley College, I sniffed it just to be sure, then moved on, and never was fooled again.

But a giant pit bull terrier mix at Broadway and 73rd in New York City was fooled. Mom and Dad, in town to support their beloved Boston College Eagles in the Pinstripe Bowl, recognized Matelli's "Stray Dog" by the subway stop. The beast, bent on picking a fight, rammed his square snout at top speed into the dog. He bounced off, bruised and shaken. Passerby laughed, and lots of them petted the fake pup.

The city rejected Matelli's "Sleepwalker" piece as part of a public art display and went for the dog instead, apparently put off by the ruckus caused by the sculpture of a paunchy, balding guy in his skivvies.

About the installations, the Times noted: "Parks Department officials thought better of putting Tony Matelli’s “Sleepwalker,” a realistic sculpture of a nearly naked man...which recently caused a debate on the Wellesley campus in Massachusetts, where students protested it as stalkerlike."

Despite the terrier's best efforts, "Stray Dog" hasn't been vandalized. Mom and Dad reported that lots of people petted the fake pup. And it turns out that "Sleepwalker" is on display, just not stalking subway riders. He's safe on a rooftop at Marlborough Chelsea on W. 25th, where artsy types don't seem bothered by him at all.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Walpole woman calls cops on piano-playing squirrel

First, though I have been accused of many crimes and guilty of most of them, I have never caused Mom to call 911.

Well, I guess she did once, when I escaped and was trying to break into the SmartPak saddlery on Rte. 9 in Natick.

But I digress. I assume you want to know about the squirrel, not me.

A writer friend of mom's, upon arriving home this week, was startled to hear music wafting from her piano. A ghost? An intruder who just couldn't resist tickling the ivories as he or she lifted the family silver?

She calls 911. Walpole police arrive, and find—a squirrel.

Squirrel still at large. But how did he learn to play the piano? I sleep right next to ours, and the magic just hasn't happened for me.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Close look at Flutie bobblehead: does it do the man justice?

I thoroughly inspected the Doug Flutie bobblehead for accuracy.
With Dad clearly claiming the title as Boston College's most fervent fan, especially when it comes to his twin loves of academics and football, nothing was going to stop him from being at BC's last game of the season.

Did he want to be present to watch the Eagles avenge last year's yucky loss to Syracuse?

Without a doubt.

Would he ever miss an Eagles game, in person or on the screen?


So this game celebrating the 30th year of the most famous play in football was one that, no doubt, would find Dad in section X, row 19, seat number one. Not only that, but season ticket holders who attended every home game would receive—drumroll—a Doug Flutie bobblehead!

Dad decamped early for Alumni Stadium, wearing the requisite maroon and gold. He eagerly opened the box containing the precious objet d'art,


I've seen that Hail Mary pass more times than I can count, and let me tell you, this bobblehead could use a serious makeover.

Poor #22 has been modeled as if he's in an adult league. There's not a trace of the fresh-faced twenty-something who made football history and picked up a Heisman, too. Crow's feet? Really? As a hound who's getting up there in dog years, I'm more than a little sensitive to ageism. Plus, it simply looks nothing like him.

Even #1 fan Dad had to agree that the sculptor missed his mark. After all, Dad's the one who recognized Flutie as he sprinted along Commonwealth Avenue in front of BC in this year's Boston Marathon. He's the one who once played basketball with the Flutester. He's the one who proudly wears his Flutie Flakes hat. Displays the Eagles flag. Plants the front walk in maroon and gold (no, that's Mom).

No matter. This Flutie representation will grace the family's mantel for each and every Eagles football game from now on. And thanks, Doug. Dad really loved watching you play.

Go Eagles!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Who am I? 24601!

Yep, I'm Jean Valjean for Halloween, and I have to admit, it's an apt costume.

Just a week ago Friday I was on the lam—and if you're wondering where this expression came from, you're in good company. Check this New York Times Magazine piece on the origin—but don't say I sent you.

Here's how it happened. Lately, I just hate to be left behind. Mom and Dad were planning an outing. I knew all the signs:  Dad put on real shoes; Mom brushed her teeth.

I pulled my first trick: asking to go outside when I really didn't need to. I ran around, willy-nilly (there's another origin for you to guess; goes way back to 1608), easily eluding capture.

I was just warming up.

Dad managed to shoo me inside; I'm not sure how. Then it was time to move to Step 2 of my Evil Plan: push past Dad, evoking past Boston College great running back Andre Williams, and get into the garage. I dropped my shoulder and shoved.

Dad gave up on the garage, where I knew Mom was waiting in the getaway car. Except that no one was getting away without me.

So when Dad tried to get out the front door, I did a replay: dropped my shoulder, pushed past, and—out to freedom.

I jumped off my neighbor's garden wall to the ground—an eight-foot drop, but I'm a pro at that.  I've always wanted to explore the steep hillside that runs down to Shore Road. Usually I'm in too much of a hurry, but with my parents hobbled by darkness, I had all the time in the world.

After I nosed around, I went over to the mulch business, then checked out the horse store on Rte. 9. Closed. Drat. So I hightailed it down Rte. 9 (staying on the sidewalk). I wasn't really paying attention to anything but the warm breeze and good scents.

When I looked up after stopping to sniff something really good, a dragnet of Mom in one car, Dad in another and some guys in their truck surrounded me. Before I knew it, I was in shackles.
Like any good prisoner, I'm always looking for an out.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Kennebunkport, Nicky Hilton style

Meet Seamus. Hangs out in Portsmouth NH
except when he visits his Kennebunkport
grandma on the weekends. 
Well, I wasn't in Kennebunkport when a bunch of Nicky Hilton's bodyguards stopped in at the Tides Beach Club a couple of weeks ago, so I can't really tell you what happened. She was there celebrating her 30th birthday; Mom and Dad went for some sun and sand.

Despite leaving me behind, and feeling horribly depressed about it, Mom and Dad reported having a fab weekend lounging on the Tides porch and walking on the beach. That's probably because they met that cute guy above, Seamus from Portsmouth, N.H. Not the Mitt Romney Seamus of NH, he of the dog-crate-atop-car style of travel. Not that it was the dog's fault.

This Seamus was incredibly well-behaved, compared to me, and suitably beloved, but he showed his true hound-ness when did a little gardening at the Tides. That afternoon, the gardeners had done a bunch of pruning. Not enough for Seamus. He took whole bites of butterfly bush and chomped them to pieces. Then, he serenaded the sun and sea worshipers with some soulful notes. Now, that's my kind of guy.

Meanwhile,  over at Southboro Kennels, I was wooing a sweet little Catahoula leopard dog puppy. Really, she was too young for me, so I took on a more paternal role, becoming completely necessary as a puppy-sitter. I was so successful that when Mom came to pick me up, she was asked, "You're not taking Tucker from us, are you?"

I tried to stay, jumping in and out of the way-back several times, until those creative Southboro Kennels people figured out a way to keep me in. Not that they didn't want me to stay.

Believe me, I usually get a different reaction after a kennel stay. Like "we'll take your parents' money, but please don't come back" kind of thing. I know when I'm not wanted.

Anyway, I don't know what Nicky Hilton received for her birthday, but if it wasn't a hound, she sure is missing out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's happening with the Natick dog park? Get thee to the police station Thursday to find out

If I had a dog park to run around in, my paws would be clean by the
time I invade Dad's study.
Pups, send your humans out (you'll be sleeping, anyway) to get an update on the plans for the Natick dog park this Thursday night at 7 (that's tomorrow) in the community room of the Natick Police Department. Hear the latest from the group FIDO (Fun Informed Dog Owners) of Natick about their highly commendable efforts to have a safe, fun place for pups to run around off leash.

So far, the group has identified a spot on West Central Street at the end of Middlesex Path, between Fisk Pond and Lake Cochituate, for the park. 

Four paws up for FIDO. A dog park's been needed for a long time. Note to Wellesley canines and their humans: who wants to join me in finding a spot in our town?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

What does it take to get some service around here?

Not only did I have to serve myself, the
 waitstaff took forever to get the extra side I ordered.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Get ready for a Cesar Millan throwdown!

That curled lip: Brando taught me.
It being too cold for anything icy, especially that of the watery kind spilled from a bucket, I hereby utter a different kind of challenge:

Cesar Millan, if you are up to it, I, Tuckerby of Wellesley, challenge you to get me out of a car when I do not wish to.

Those of you who've known me my whole life, or at least that fantastic part that began when I moved to Swellesley to live almost literally in the lap of luxury, know that the initial challenge was far different.

That one had to do with going IN. It's one I still issue to my parents now and then, especially Mom, just to see if I can break her veneer of calm, or at least make her day. So that's pretty much every day that she dares cart me around.

For those uninitiated into my ways of stubborn (all the ways—one cannot count them), I only go IN when I am going OUT somewhere. For example, if I am home and bored, and Mom says, "Tucker, do you want to go?" there are two possible answers: one if by foot and one if by car. By foot: emphatically NO. By car, definitely YES.  That's getting IN.

However, after a walk somewhere OUT of my immediate neighborhood (if I deign to get OUT, and I change that up, just to keep things interesting), I very rarely get back IN, unless directed by a stranger (when Mom does her Blanche du Bois helpless routine, and yes, she is practically crazed by that time).

Anyway, back to getting OUT. If it's raining, or threatening to rain, or if I have heard a single drop fall on my roof, and my parents take me in the C-A-R out of sheer desperation, it is very likely that upon returning home, I will do one of two things: take advantage of the open garage door and run away, or two, remain in the way back of the vehicle.

Tonight, I chose option 2. Mom first thought the aroma of newly acquired Chinese food would do the trick, but it's not Paleo enough for me. Then she tried these new treats that I'm wild about. I didn't even look up.

She called Dad for backup. He plops some steak into my bowl. From the wayback of the car, cozily housed in the garage, I can hear it ping. I prick up my ears, but no movement is otherwise discerned. He brings my bowl, with a few pieces of steak in it, into the garage. Mom holds the bowl under my nose.

I will confess that, here, I very slightly start to salivate. But that's all. Really, I require at least a half-pound, maybe more, if I'm going to lose my dignity.  If asked, my terms would be more like Fruit-of-the-Month but on a more frequent basis: some form of steak, cooked to perfection, served right to my door—the garage door, that is.

Finally, Dad has had enough, and besides, the Chinese food is getting cold. In a very Cesar-like manner, he leads my reluctant self out of the car and into the house. I give up, but I make sure that bowl got refilled. Besides, it stopped raining.

Cesar, the challenge is on: dare you take it?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Plan to shop on the tax-free weekend? Not my dad.

Dad's sneakers were absolutely concave on the bottom,
 and I didn't even take a bite!
Gearing up for Massachusetts' tax-free weekend? Not my dad. Shopping is not something he ever even thinks of doing. But shop he had do do, after walking thousands of miles—truly—for a good cause. Meaning, keeping me fit and happy, to the total of several miles each day for the last six or so years.

But shoeing Dad, former marathoner, is not easy. Like me, he is impatient. Like me, he is headstrong. Like me, he has barely set foot in a store—ever. Unlike me, though, he needs shoes. So to drive home the point: I dropped these old things in the pond; Mom, who has no trouble shopping, ordered up some Asics for him, getting a new pair for herself as well; and voila! my walks have been resumed.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

To move, or not to move: how to get a coonhound up and at 'em

Mom keeps threatening to throw out the old couch in
the basement, but it would be difficult with me on it.
"How many synonyms are there for unmoving?" Mom mused the other day, when the weather couldn't decide between stormy and nice and I refused to get out of the C-A-R during an attempt—on my parents' part—at an afternoon walk. I mean, I was perfectly happy sleeping on the living room chair. "Have we already discussed the difference between obdurate and obstinate?"

"I think so," Dad said, his expression glum. "Now where to?"

You would think they would have it down by now. There are really only two places at which I will deign to get out of the car, after hours, anyway (that means anytime after, say 3:45 p.m.): one is Wellesley Books; the other, Bill's Pizzeria in Natick.

I've never actually been to Bill's, but I like their awning. Here's what happens: in bad weather, when I've refused to go out of the house for, say, a day or two, Mom and Dad pack me in the car and back up to the Bill's awning. That way I can get out of the car without a drop of rain falling on me, which, as you know, would be catastrophic. The funny thing about it, though, is that once I'm out of the C-A-R, I could walk for hours in the rain. It doesn't bother me at all. So thank you, Bill's. I owe you one.

For the record, from the dictionary on Mom's laptop:
motionless,without movingstillstock-stillstatic,stationaryrooted to the spotrigidfrozen,transfixedlike a statuenot moving a muscle. 

Yep, they all apply.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Capt. Marden's stalwart becomes a landlubber for Pan Mass Challenge

The Cod Squad in the Back Bay. Andrew's on the right.
I'm crazy about salmon, especially sockeye, and I'm fond of my neighbors, who put up (I guess they have no choice) with my baying, musical though it may be.

One of them, from the musical Livingston family, is Wellesley's Andrew Livingston, a longtime presence at Captain Marden's who also runs the esteemed seafood purveyor's food truck, The Cod Squad. Andrew has been diligently training and is set to ride in this weekend's Pan-Mass Challenge to benefit cancer research and treatment at Dana Farber.

Fittingly, Livingston will get to dip his toes in the sea when he ends his bicycle trek in Provincetown, close to Georges Bank. He's within $2,200 of his $5,000 fundraising goal.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Wellesley venture aims to reinvent athletic gear

Practicing for the hurdles event.
Check out the cool collegiate-y athletic products--running shorts, tees, a neat bag to hold your spikes-- at Wellesley-based Tracksmith, co-founded and headed by Matt Taylor. It's a new venture that I learned about in my daily reading of the Boston Business Journal. You all know how entrepreneurial I am, so I like to keep up.

I like the look, the products, the golden hare logo--and the fact that not one, but TWO dogs grace Tracksmith's office as I write. It's very cool that all of the products are made in the U.S. That would satisfy my girlfriend Kiki's owner, who insists on US-made gear. The company offers five products right now, only for men, but envisions a women's line in the future. I took it upon myself to suggest some dog gear. You know, there really aren't any good portable water bowls, and an athletic singlet would look kind of cute on me.

Being rather interested in creatures who run, I chatted with Matt online about the logo, and he most promptly replied: "That's Eliot, the hare. We wanted something classic that would feel timeless now and 30 years from now." As for Tracksmith, he says, "We wanted a name that felt established and substantial. And that speaks to what we're doing. Obviously, 'track' is a serious part of running, and 'smith' speaks to the craft and quality of our products."

Given that my forte is running, and considering that my parents are a longtime marathon-crazed dad and a newly-crazed mom, we plan to be checking out Tracksmith's gear pronto. And if by chance the company needs another dog tester, I'll be happy to sign up.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not the New York Thymes! Homophone pears at the nation's greatest newspaper

This canine knows how to use his canines.
(That's a doorstop with a weighted base I'm gnawing.)
Being the product (virtually) of a professor dad and a journalist/librarian mom, it would be criminal if I were not sensitive to the subtleties of the English language. So, while I am considered an ELL (English language learner) student—yes, I get the unnecessary repetition there, but such is eduspeak—I do know my living room mantel from a kingly mantle.

Not so the New York Times. Or is it the Thymes?

In two stories, one on July 9 and another on July 16, writers used the word mantle when they meant mantel. It's not the first time—or the only pair, or should I say pear, of homophones to be confused. Besides, shouldn't someone be checking?

Mom tells the story of an intern at her old paper who made the laughable, yet horrifying, error of writing about the Fabulous Four as "The Beetles." Fortunately, an editor caught that one. But forgive that callow youth? Never.

The question: does anyone else notice? Does anyone know the difference between homophones and homonyms? What about homographs? Does anyone care that a "morning" dove is really a mourning dove? Or should we just call them pigeons and forget about them?

In case you wondered, dear reader, ranting indeed is a family trait.

Here's some help: homophone: two or more words with the same pronunciation but different meanings
homonym: two or more words spelled the same with the same pronunciation but different meanings
homograph: two words spelled the same but pronounced differently and with different meanings

But what due eye no? I'm just a canine. And if you discover the homonym in that penultimate sentence, I'll gladly share my bone. I've got a pear of them, anyway.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hound-iquity? Wellesley dog launches idea for new hound-walking app

If my parents had OutSider, they never would have tried
to get me out on a walk last night. I knew t-storms were coming.
Ok, I'm thrilled that Wellesley-based Mobiquity worked with The Weather Channel on a new app called OutSider for runners that helps them figure out the best time to run (see the Boston Business Journal story here). Not only am I tired of Mom agonizing over windspeed, direction and temp, I'm hoping they'll work on something for dogs.

Specifically, for dogs who do not wish to encounter thunderstorms, rain, or large German Shepherds on their walks.

That would be me.

The app also might note the location of nearby puddles with water decent enough for drinking (I'm not picky) as well as pinpointing optimal locations to rest on one's route. It also might highlight establishments that allow dogs (Wellesley Books) as well as those that provide water and treats (again, Wellesley Books, and thank you, Pinnacle Properties).

I'd be able to advise on all the above. In fact, I'd be able to make better predictions than The Weather Channel, having predicted this afternoon's thunderstorms last night when I refused to get out of the car at my favorite location, Wellesley Books. Mom and Dad knew that something big was up then.

So for dogs whose fear of thunderstorms, fireworks and giant shaggy creatures make them too fearful to venture out, I propose a new app called InSider that monitors the quality of one's sleep, prompts humans to move one's various beds into the sun (or the closet, in case of rain), and arranges in-home playdates with nearby pups. Put me on the creative team for that one, too.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Storm effects: Thunder, fireworks, trees down and a rescued kingfisher

Young male kingfisher in his personal transport.
I wish I had Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs. After two days of me pacing around and drooling, Thursday's crazy storm put me into an even bigger dither than usual. Then Friday, somewhere around here, fireworks. Lots of them. Loud. Honestly, what is it about people and loud things? If they were born with ears as big as mine, they wouldn't need to make so much noise. It's enough to make me vow to never venture forth from behind my chair again.

My favorite crossing guard at Oak and Bacon streets fared worse than I yesterday when a gigantic tree—actually just one giant part of it—crashed and flattened both cars that were parked in the driveway. Even though her dog and I never liked each other, she always has been kind to me.

On the way home from gawking at the crushed cars, Dad noticed a bird hopping in an unusual way near the soccer field. Upon closer inspection, it was a young male kingfisher, who had an injury to his neck and leg. I stood sentinel while Mom tried to find an animal control officer on duty, to no avail. I refused to leave my post until help arrived, which, by chance, it finally did. A neighbor walking his dog offered to go home and get a box, which he did, having thoughtfully poked airholes in it first.

The kingfisher captured, Mom took it to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, where it was to be ferried off to an animal hospital for care. Staff there thought the bird might have been injured by the storm, too. It's predicted he'll recover. I don't know about me.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Early warning: thunderstorms predicted for Wellesley

Tail falling? Take my advice and take shelter in the basement.
I first predicted these t-storms yesterday afternoon. When Rebecca at Wellesley Books asked "Where's The Beast?" when Mom arrived there Tucker-less, and learned that I was in the basement with my tail between my legs, she was kind enough to check the radar for confirmation.

"Closest is in the Adirondacks," she said.


So I'm hearing all kinds of rumbling now, and am writing this from my basement couch. In short,  prepare for a storm later, late this afternoon. I'll give the all-clear when it's over.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Vintage dog items for a good cause

Check out the sale of some canine-related tchotchkes on One Kings Lane to benefit a Los Angeles-based dog rescue.

Among my favorites, this set of German Shepherd clothes brushes—to remind me of the brushoff I gave the giant, live one in my neighborhood this a.m.

Singing lessons for diva dog wannabes?

Inspecting my friend P—'s chickens after my performance.
"You should teach him how to sing," said my friend P— to Mom, his ears still ringing, perhaps, from my seemingly endless series of mournful bays that echoed off Morses Pond the other day.

P—had witnessed my homecoming greeting/hounding to Mom from across the waters of the pond to the cove nearest home, where she had thoughtlessly left me for what seemed like hours on end.

I actually think I sing pretty well. Perhaps P— meant I should learn to sing on command, but then, he should know better. I don't do anything on command, or even upon suggestion.

Take my latest round of lessons, so-called, from a perfectly well-meaning, competent, kind and endlessly patient trainer. Mom had recommended that she read Herman Melville's short story, Bartleby the Scrivener, as a kind of "get to know your pup" prerequisite. I'm known to my closest pals as "Tuckerby" —not Tucker B., as some have thought—given my likeness to the story's protagonist, or antagonist would be more like it.

Yes, I prefer not to, just like Bartleby. For example, a good percentage of my lessons involved having me sit as an entree into the next activity. Now, believe me, I know how to sit. Quite well, in fact.

However, I preferred not to, with ideal consequences. As my humans became more desperate, the treat quality would escalate. I would stand there, acting like I hadn't a clue about anything. Begging would ensure—that wouldn't be me on my knees, but Mom. I, of course, would hold out for the best treats, which might take the entire 45 minutes, or I might not give in at all. One or two sits during a session were considered monumental feats.

Lessons were supposed to be an hour, but nobody could stand another 15 minutes of my recalcitrance.

One lesson focused on me getting into the car. Now, I love the car, but again—only when I'm ready. So I gave in, finally, one week, and returned to the training session for next steps. But when it was time to really leave, or so Mom thought, I did the logical thing, which was to refuse to get in. Finally, after I exhausted everybody, the series of "lessons" ended, to the gratitude of everyone involved.

So, singing lessons? I think not.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gorgeous blonde at the beach

Isn't she swell? That's my girl, all right.
That's my main squeeze (one of them) Kiki, in Boca Raton for the summer. Wellesley's emptied out, with people and their dogs at their summer places.

Me? I'm here, lying in the sun, entertaining everyone with my musical notes, keeping watch on Mom at the pond and making sure Dad doesn't work too hard. It is summer, right? Enjoy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

World's biggest swan spotted at Morses Pond

Seen in the vicinity of Pickerel Road. Exact species unknown.
I've witnessed swan v swan wars, swan v goose wars, and, only too personally, swan v dog wars, but this is one guy with whom I definitely would not tussle.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The grills of summertime: burger night

Could have used another quarter-pound of beef, at least.
Mom's signed up for a Perfect Burgers cooking class at Helen's Kitchen cooking school in Natick,  just in time for the start of summer. Last time she took a pasta class and spent weeks afterward making ravioli, which, I can report first-hand, turned out pretty well. The pesto pizza she made a couple of nights ago was lip-smacking good, too, so I'm hopeful...

Meanwhile, Dad, who makes pretty perfect burgers himself, grilled up this little baby, made to order just for me (although I wouldn't have minded a big Mac with Cheese, hold the onions). Superb.

I would have preferred gulping it in one bite, but Dad insists, still, on cutting up my food, so this photo was taken for effect only.  You can tell that my training classes at Petco Unleashed have been curbing my enthusiastic beastly tendencies, because otherwise there 1) would have been only a photo of an empty dish and 2) no burger to cut.

More on those escapades, the so-called training ones, not the food-related ones,
later. I'm too hungry to write any more.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A hound walks into a tea party...

This amazing color-changing peony is from Winston's..
..not Mom's garden: different party, same idea.
And comes up with a chive-and-cream-cheese tea sandwich. Delicious.

Among the spring parties I've been hosting, this one had a large percentage of women, which I tried to lessen by making my presence known. In a subtle way, of course.

Let me set the scene: antique porcelain cups, each of a different pattern; damask tablecloth; several three-tiered china servers, each tier nestling an assortment of dainty triangular sandwiches, sans crusts, containing smoked salmon, egg salad, the aforementioned delectable chive-and-cheese; blackberry scones with jam; many miniature fruit-filled tarts; five china teapots freshly filled with hot tea. Mom's strawberry-vanilla scented peonies on the table.

And me.

Fortunately, I am deft and therefore broke nothing as I silently released a pair of tea sandwiches from their cozy confines. As it was a beautiful afternoon, I did the only appropriate thing: slept off the party in the sunshine.
The after-party.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Party animal!

The party wasn't over, but I was done.
Well, this snapshot was taken when the party was over...but pre-party, as a host should, I sampled the goods to make sure all was well. Mom consulted the Martha Stewart kitchen god and came up with an array of appetizers to tempt our guests. And me.

My favorite? The beet-and-goat-cheese tart. Mom was doubtful, but I thought it turned out great. My hunch was confirmed by two foodies who, like me, tasted everything and proclaimed it the best comestible on the table.

The occasion? To celebrate the publication of Dad's newest book, which I had a hand in creating. Our many, many walks helped Dad cogitate on his material.

But enough about him. We had a houseful, so after I carefully slipped a few more hors d'oeuvres from the dining room, I settled into the quieter living room, the furniture of which, thanks to the guests, was made more comfortable by having its cushions in their proper positions. My auntie caught me taking full advantage, in my proper position. Dad's not the only one who needs a little cogitation time.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pleased to greet you! And then the other shoe drops...

Merrell, size 10, plenty of miles--cheap!
Right into the pond. It's just my Tucker-y way of saying hello. Actually, it's my Tucker-y way of saying: "Where have you been? I am so annoyed that you did not take me with you that I, perforce,* will have to take one of your shoes, run outside with it (perhaps through the screen door you left carelessly closed), and drop it in an inconvenient location."

If I am very annoyed, I will drop said shoe right into our little pond, where I had my Eureka! moment. No, it was not in a bath,** not by any stretch of the imagination. You know how I am with baths. No, the moment came when, after I dropped Dad's size 10 wide Merrell, I discovered that not only is it waterproof--that I knew, having dragged Dad hundreds, nay thousands (7,117 at three miles per day, 365 days per year, 6.5 years), of miles through all kinds of weather in those shoes--but that also it is buoyant.

As am I, whenever my folks come home.

*Perforce: used to express necessity or inevitability. I think this word works perfectly here. It's from the Old French, "by force." And you know I have a French connection. Plus, doing things by force is kind of my M.O.

**The reference is to Archimedes, who supposedly came up with the theory of water displacement after soaking in a tub. He then ran around shouting "Eureka," meaning "I have found it!" That's what Dad said after finally discovering his shoe in the pond.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Yellow paint on Sleepwalker's dog, yellow warblers, and me

Commiserating with the Sleepwalker's dog.
I added my voice to that of the yellow warbler during my Sunday morning stroll at Lake Waban, hoping that the pack of birdwatchers would appreciate my musicality.

Not sure whether they had a checkbox for a Walker hound on their list, but I bayed, just in case. A fine group, they took the time to point out the winged warbler to Mom and even shared a bird book so she could identify the magnolia warbler next time we're out.

I haven't been by the Sleepwalker statue to view its damage, but I inspected its companion seeing-eye dog's state of disarray. Both Tony Matelli sculptures on the Wellesley College campus, I am sure you have heard, were vandalized with yellow paint last week. While I am certain Sleepwalker and pal could have used coats during this spell of rainy, cool weather, I am more certain said coats should not have been applied by any other than his sculptor.

And as there is nothing more unpleasant than a bath, I am also sure that Sleepwalker's dog would much rather have been left au naturel.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Crafty tip: what to do with an unused dog crate

Hare-brained idea? Absolutely.
My $100 avoidance chamber having little use besides a providing a winter bunny home in the basement and a stolen kitten hideout, Dad decided to dream up a new use for it.

Dad, not being the crafty type, is not given to thinking up new ideas beyond ones of interest to those in academia. In short, he's more the theoretical, Mom the practical.

So when he had the idea to renovate my brother bunny Licorice's triplex into more of a ranch, Mom actually listened. This, too, is rare.

Here was the problem: Licorice, perhaps being a bit slow of foot these days, kept getting one of said feet stuck as he traveled from the second story to the first. Mom posited that this problem was less due to a lack of agility and more to one of rotundity. The descent involves a rather sharp turn around the ramp into a cramped space.

Once the academic semester is over, Mom insists that Dad spend a day or two (if she's lucky) on some home repair related project. Last week it was the so-called lawn, so-called because it's more of my romping and digging up ground, but they made a valiant effort anyway.  I say "they," because it started out as a two-person project and ended up, not surprisingly, as a one-person project. It becomes Dad's lawn only when things start to grow.

In any case, the rabbit hutch retrofit was project #2. It now needs a roof and a mesh bottom so Licorice's feet, big as they are, do not poke through, but good weather being predicted for a few days now, Mr. and Mrs. Project should have no trouble.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

"No, Tucker!": Newly-bathed dog makes great Mother's Day escape

Remember that great children's book, "No, David!" by David Shannon? You don't? Not even the part where a muddy David, forced to take a bath, is so enthusiastic about his pirate play that he gets most of the water on the floor? And then escapes, au naturel, down the street?

Today, I was David. Muddy after lying in my dirt pile in the sun, rolling all over lawns, with ring around the collar from my collar, Mom decided to give herself a clean dog for Mother's Day. Just like that unforgettable character, I complied. Up to a point.
I escape from my bath.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dog walker arrested after literal turf battle

What to do when you're bored and need a walk?

We all know that people are passionate about their dogs. Some of them even walk them for hours each day (thanks, Dad and Mom) no matter what the weather. Others, who don't have quite as much leisure time but love their dogs just as much, hire dog walkers.

When I was a pup and prone to destruction if untended for even a moment, I employed a walker, Kelly, who doted on me and wrote informative notes more detailed than most preschool children's daycare reports.

True. Mom's coworkers were quite envious.

So I was shocked to learn that a dog walker had actually been attacked, not by a pack of coyotes, a pack of dogs, or a swarm of black flies, but, police say, perhaps by a rival walker, in lovely Wayland. The walker who was injured had formerly been employed by my dog walking company, Wags 4 Walks; the accused, a current walker for that outfit.  Read the MetroWest Daily News story to learn the gruesome details.

And the next time you come upon someone in the woods with lots of leashes around their neck and dogs running loose, mum's the word. Having gone unscathed for at least a few months now, I wouldn't recommend starting anything.

A little rearranging's always good; plus, Mom can practice her squats.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Wellesley mom discovers completely natural alternative to Botox

I find digging in the soil simply invigorating. Turns out it can be good for you, too, especially if you are of a certain age.

Now, I'm likely to be classified as a senior, if you check my extensive vet records. I'm a little gray around the eyes and the hair around my scar, where I was viciously attacked last fall, has grown in white.

Mom's not yet a senior, officially anyway. But those worry lines have started to cut a little deeper, so she wasn't entirely unhappy (or maybe that's just the Benadryl talking)  to be viciously attacked by a swarm of black flies.

Having heard that bee stings can help relieve arthritis symptoms, she can now attest to the benefits of black fly bites. Black flies naturally bite around the head and neck. Thinking they were merely annoying pests, she waved them away as she attempted to weed the garden. Dad's reaction to her bloody, swollen forehead prompting just a modicum of alarm, she checked the mirror. Then, being the researcher that she is, she checked Purdue University's Medical Entomology page on black flies.

The info told her that the giant swellings were normal, but nowhere was it documented that said swellings also provide some relief from those horrid worry lines that Grandma always warned about: "Someday, your face is going to freeze that way, and you'll be sorry!"

Mom, Day 2, in transition from E.T. to wrinkle-free. Visible bite wound.
The process, however, takes a few days for optimal effect. On Day 1, Mom was fit for an E.T. lookalike contest with a giant protuberance in the middle of her forehead, not unlike some kind of dinosaur. Day 2, the swelling had gone all the way across the forehead, not as visible, but giving a stretched, tight feeling. Dad advises Mom not to do any frowning. Day 3: swelling descends toward the eyelids, plumping them up and giving them a bit of a downward cast. The upside: no frown lines in between the eyebrows.

I haven't been attacked yet, but as Mom does all the worrying in the family, I haven't got any wrinkles at all.

Intrepid dog attempts to save stranded goldfish

Although I adore salmon, I haven't yet acquired a taste for goldfish.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've seen the great story about the couple who lost their dog during Hurricane Sandy and found it, a year and a half later, at their local animal shelter. (Happens to be the one that serves my family's Garden State hometown.) It truly is heartwarming and I couldn't be more happy for Reckless (that's the pup's name).

But let's talk about me. I'm always finding rare items on roadsides, some choice (muskrat skull, rabbit head, frozen bagel, chicken wings), some not (hmmm...can't think of any). Having braved rare sunshine and headed out on the more suburban of my two usual routes, I came upon a creature in need, belly up on the sidewalk.

I'm quite familiar with fish, as I have about three dozen near-relatives crowding our backyard pond. This one was different. This one was large. This one was stuffed. This one was too far gone to save.  I gave it one last nudge, and moved on.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Stopping to smell the flowers

Enjoying the daffodils at Wellesley College.
This week, while everyone in my family has been running around like crazy, literally (see: Mom, 118th Boston Marathon), engineering-ly (see: sister, Shell Eco-Marathon 2014), and academically (see: Dad, book publication), I've been holding up my end, doing what I do best: relaxing.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful: spring cleaning reveals new me


Like most good dogs, I don't bathe often, but a rare warm day giving me the opportunity to cleanse myself of the last traces of winter, I submitted to the ministrations of my parents.

Although I protested mightily, I have to admit being clean felt kind of good, especially because I had become rather itchy after an all-advised roll on a tract of land that was mostly, shall we say, dirt.

I'm all for dirt, ordinarily. I'm renowned for my skills in earth-moving, shrub transplanting, and chipmunk hunting (yes, that was me on the lookout early Saturday,  2:41 a.m., I believe) skills. My prints, as well as my voice, are unmistakable.

Clean? Sort of. For one day, anyway.
Picture perfect, no?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wellesley unleashed!

Can't they read? Right above this sign is one reminding dogs to leash up.
While Wellesley College's "Sleepwalker" statue has been getting all the attention, little is paid to the unaccompanied, unleashed dog hanging out on campus.

I refer to the statue, hunched near the Margaret Clapp Library, not the live dogs, although little attention is paid to them, as they run around unminded while their owners jabber to each other or to someone unseen via Bluetooth.  That's to be expected. On my morning sojourn around Lake Waban, the first since I was viciously attacked last fall by an off leash dog, I counted 11 off-leash dogs, three leashed.

So Tony Matelli's dog sculpture is hardly eyebrow- or back-of-the-neck-hair raising. I gave him a sniff, then moved on.

In an interview with Jaclyn Reiss on, Matelli says the dog is a seeing-eye dog, a possible companion to Sleepwalker.

"The thing about the seeing eye dog is its owner is not there – that brings to mind a whole other set of questions," Matelli told the Globe.

Indeed, such as: 

  • should Sleepwalker have a cancer-sniffing dog check out his mole?
  • what's up with our educated Wellesley populace ignoring the "all dogs must be leashed" signs? and,
  • why wasn't I chosen as Tony Matelli's model? I'm much more handsome.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Muskrat love comes to Wellesley, Latin style

Foiled, yet again.
I'm trotting along the Brook Path, taking in the mallards, the warm sunshine, lapping up the cool water. All is right with the world, and I even give a bye to a muskrat who is chomping some reeds by the water's edge.

But something must have stuck in my craw, muskrat-wise, because while I am perambulating between the duck pond and town hall, just past where the boys on bikes hang out while smoking something they're not supposed to, I smell it: muskrat skull.

I'm not sure I actually identify it as muskrat, or just let my animal instincts take over. Nevertheless, I scoop it up, figuring it's some tasty morsel. I have it nearly all the way down my gullet when Mom intervenes.

Image by Ryan Somma. Mom threw
my find in the direction of the boys on bikes.
It's unlikely you will remember, but I am in almost exactly the same location where I went nose-to-nose with a scorpion a couple of years back. Not too far, either, from where I proudly carried a severed rabbit head for several paces. Hypervigilant Mom notices my swift, deft move and immediately pries open my jaws.

This takes bravery. Last year, Mom lost a finger of her favorite glove and almost her whole finger when attempting to remove a very juicy chunk o'chicken, with bones, from said gullet. What can I say? Her finger was coming between me and my lunch.

I guess I am not quite as enamored of the muskrat skull, because Mom delves down, down, down, and comes up with it. It is then she identifies it as Odontra zibethicus, or the remains thereof. The teeth are a dead giveaway.

Now, Mom knows her Latin pretty well when it comes to flora, and she's ok on some fauna, too, but it takes a visit to The Evolution Store to learn that she threw away not only an Odontra and my snack, but $12. That's how much one of these things goes for (although there's one for $15.99 at the Oddities Store (who knew?). And the scorpion she let get away? The store has one of those, for $249.

The cat skeleton ($169) is appealing, but the dog? That's a little bit too Canis lupus familiaris, if you ask me. I'll stick with muskrat instead.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Why I'm the only one in the world who doesn't care about Wellesley's Sleepwalker

My room, not my parents'. I was helping with spring cleaning by moving
the bed, which has a pretty decent mattress of its own.
I've got it figured out: the Sleepwalker guy that's been causing such a ruckus at Wellesley College has simple needs.

Like a new mattress.

In her heyday, Great-Grandma employed people to make mattresses for her furniture store. Mom remembers giant, muscly men in the basement of Grandma's Store, hand-tying the coils together. Ever since Mom left her little bed on the Jersey Shore, she's been pining for that Great-Grandma quality mattress.

And I bet ol' Sleepwalker Guy could use one, too.

Me, I'm not picky. As long as I don't have to sleep on the floor, almost any mattress will do. Or chair. Or ottoman. Or couch.

Not picky, no, not me.

But I was the first to test out our new mattress, right after delivery last week. It's good. From Gardner Mattress, where they make them the old-fashioned way. Board-like, just like Great-Grandma used to make.

Even the Sleepwalker (and I've got to add: isn't it just a bit too obvious, to put a pasty white, middle-aged paunchy guy on the campus of an elite women's college?) might get some rest with one of those.

Meanwhile, I'm getting all the z's I can.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Daylight savings reminder: you could set the clock by me

Ever notice how advertisements for watches, those relics of long ago, always have the hands set at 10 minutes after 10? 10 and 2: it must conform to the golden mean in some way.

If it does, I'll let you figure it out: I just don't have a head for math right now, because I am very, very hungry.

The reason being: I am a regular kind of guy. I eat at 10, and I eat at 2. But not today. At 10, I bayed to be fed.

Dad looked at the clock. "Too early," he said. "It's only 9."

I banished myself upstairs to listen to my stomach growl in private.

Two o'clock. I bay for my second feeding.

"Too early!" Dad says again.

Uncharacteristically, I begin to doubt myself. However, the beast must be fed. I must insist, I tell Dad.

Finally, he realizes: the time change. Dad is notorious about not understanding the whole Daylight Savings Time thing. He gives in. My tum stops rumbling.

So don't worry about resetting your clock: if you need to get up at 9, or you need to do something at 1, perk your ears over my way. I've got you covered. Just like clockwork.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Owning up to bad behavior: it isn't quiche-y

Good dog, bad dog? Bear witnesses some of my beastliness.
Dear Readers,
I admit: I have been procrastinating writing this post.

Here's why: I had an absolutely wild time whooping it up this weekend during a book party for Sharron Kahn Luttrell's memoir, Weekends with Daisy.

The painful truth: the party wasn't for me, it was for Sharron and Bear, her dog-in-training, and I constantly tried to steal...the spotlight, yes, if we want to use that cliche, but also, Mom's quiche. The ham and cheddar one, not the spinach-zucchini-feta or the carmelized onion-tomato. Not the beet, arugula and goat cheese salad. Not the banana bread. Not the quinoa and roasted vegetable salad. Not the chocolate torte. Just the ham and cheddar quiche.

I could blame my lack of self-control on Joanne Chang of Boston's Flour Bakery, from whose cookbook Mom makes the most divine creations, but this is supposed to be a confession.

In short, I am more than a teeny bit embarrassed.

The event, actually, turned out great. Sharron spoke thoughtfully about raising Daisy and other dogs through the NEADS program. People like Sharron take dogs on the weekends from the prison inmates who train them during the week. When puppies successfully graduate, they are matched with those who need assistance. Awesome example: one of Sharron's dogs, Rescue, is now helping a Boston Marathon bombing victim (read the Boston Globe story). You can see Rescue in action in this WBZ-TV piece, too. Bear seems to have promise, as he pretty much ignored me the whole time. And Sharron must not have minded toooo much, because she featured me on her Facebook page.

 I only drowned out Sharron's talk intermittently, moderating my bay so that I wouldn't harm the guests' hearing. They laughed, perhaps out of politeness, but I was in no mood to be attuned to subtle reactions. Want to find out where the wild things are? Right here on Morses Pond.
I helped clean up after the guests left.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Creepy Bunny: Further Adventures, or a Smashing Farewell?

Creepy Bunny's visage is obscured by the valentine heart; let me assure
you that he is aptly named.
My neighbor, Creepy Bunny, has perched, stalwart, on Border Road for many years. Only in the last few, however, has he fully expressed his personality.

So, with sadness, I must report that Creepy Bunny may be off to other climes. Preferably warmer ones, where his admittedly skimpy outfits won't stand out quite so much. (Mom contributed Sparky's old angel costume and my combo pilgrim/witch costume to his closet.)

A large moving van pulled up to his abode last week, and this sign hints that big things are in store for CB. I don't quite get the Flat Stanley reference, and I hope CB hasn't read the book, by Jeff Brown. Stanley Lambchop, you might remember, miraculously survives but is permanently flattened when the bulletin board above his bed falls on him. In his adventures, he becomes invisible, travels by spaceship, rubs a magic lamp, heads to the Wild West and Egypt, gets unflattened and reflattened.

Stanley's initial mishap, I can report, causes nightmares among susceptible young children, and rightly so. The upside for Stanley is that he's now very, very portable, i.e., envelope sized.

Let's hope that Creepy Bunny is not destined for the rubbish bin, but plans only to travel around like Stanley. Follow his adventures via his Facebook page.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dogs on beaches/dogs in snow

Junebug in her classy, custom camel coat.
Dogs, dogs, dogs. Two dogs in a double-decker stroller, baby-style. A mini version of me (but not nearly as handsome) romping on the beach. A golden retriever. A white shepherd (shudder) leaning out of a convertible. A boy on a scooter holding a dachshund. Many undefinable small yippy dogs. A dog wearing a t-shirt against the sun.

That's all Mom could talk about: all the dogs she saw on the Florida coast, where at least one beach—Canova Beach Park in Brevard County—is designated for dogs.

Meanwhile, did she even notice that I am Co-Dog of the Week at Wellesley Books? Check out this week's newsletter to admire my new friend, Junebug, who was grateful to receive a hand-sewn coat this week. Wrapped in her toasty coat, custom made by her mom, Wellesley Books assistant manager Kym Havens, Junebug looks particularly fetching. And warm. Maybe as warm as Mom while she abandoned me, and dad, in favor of sun—and the company of other dogs.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Flying dog: all paws off the ground

It was Edward Muybridge who, in the 1880s, took the first photographs that demonstrated the science of locomotion. His photographs of a galloping horse proved that horses leave the ground at a particular point in the gait.

Mom is no photographer, but she caught me with all fours off the ground. You can tell because that's two feet of soft snow I'm levitating over, and with good reason. Were I actually touching anything, I'd be sunk in up to my elbows. That would mean disaster: should I get a flake of snow on my body, I might go into cardiac arrest. It's worth it to fly.

Muybridge's photographs inspired the famous scandal at the 1913 Armory show of European and American art in New York, when Marcel Duchamp showed his Nude Descending a Staircase [No. 2]. Viewers compared the painting to saddlebags, a Navajo rug, and a nightmare.

My nightmare would be that this snow won't ever melt. Because you can't go on forever with all of your paws off the ground.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mall walking for dogs: the next new thing?

In the Land of the Dog and the Home of the Mall,
mall walking should be a canine right.
Around this time of year, I get to wondering just why it is that I moved north. My paws are cold, my ears are cold, I'm a shivering mess.

And that's while I'm snuggled deep into one of the living room chairs.

Last week my bunny brother, Licorice, came inside: too cold for him, so it's way too cold for me.
At first, I enjoyed lazing around. Now, I'm bored. And that's dangerous.

So here's my plan: find a big, big mall somewhere and run wild. Or at least walk wild.

Any good idea requires research. I started at the most obvious point: The Mall of America.
A major plus: it's always 70 degrees inside.
Double plus: each level of the mall is .57 miles.
Minus: the mall only seems to allow dog walking during special events, which seem to be few and far between.
Double minus: it's in Minnesota, which is even colder than here.

If you're unfortunate enough to live in Chicago, you could head to The Shops at North Bridge Mall on Michigan Avenue, which kindly invites dogs to walk inside. It even has a pet comfort station, providing  "tasty treats, fresh water and waste baggies."

Closer to home, you could take a 1.7 mile walk around the Wrentham outlets, but unfortunately, that would be outside, not in.

The Natick Mall would be perfect, but unfortunately does not allow "running, horseplay or disorderly conduct of any nature." That would count me out. Plus, now that Mom has toted up my yearly expenses, she's vowed not to buy me a single thing.

Just wait until the spring thaw. I'll be dragging her to Petco Unleashed every afternoon, where I most certainly am welcome. If it ever does thaw.