Sunday, January 26, 2014

Seat belts for dogs?

Sparky, though loud, never dreamed of traveling in the
drivers' seat.
Did anyone else wonder whether the doggie daycare van that crashed in Wellesley last week had some measure for restraining dogs? Whether it's smart to secure your pup in case of some unexpected event?

My predecessor, Sparky, made numerous road trips to the Jersey shore properly belted, although my sister was the only one who could figure out how to buckle and unbuckle him. New Jersey actually has a law prohibiting dogs from occupying the front seat, so cover up your  Dog is My Co-Pilot bumper sticker next time you take the Garden State Parkway. Turns out, the Jersey shore is one place officials check to be sure pets are restrained. So Sparky was good there, but around town, he simply stayed in the way back, never dreaming of breaching the back seat. Still, that wouldn't have helped in a crash.

I consulted Cesar Millan, who eschews airplane flights for his pets in favor of driving. Sure enough, this post on his site shows he's a seat belt proponent.

With me, it was immediately clear that more restraints were needed. After I overcame my fear of the car, I soon decided the driver had the most comfortable seat. Dad was giving a lecture and the whole family came. I did, too, because I was new and rather unpredictable when left at home alone. But it was raining, I wasn't allowed in the lecture hall, and I decided to take a nap. Lecture over, the hosts asked to meet me. Mom ran back to the car and could not find me. Frantic, the whole family searched. Finally, they looked in the driver's seat. For a big guy, I curl up pretty small.

Give Mom a challenge, and she'll go to town. She tried the net, which I immediately breached; next up the price point,  the adjustable steel barrier, also highly breachable. Like the time my toddler sister squiggled out of her car seat on Rte. 9, all you had to do was jiggle, squirm, and sklathe yourself between the bars. Usually, I behaved, but only usually. Sometimes, too, the barrier would fall on me. Not good.

My new authentic Volvo barrier (several more notches up the price point, but certainly more secure) doesn't give me such leeway. Mom does lock the doors every time we get in, but I'm curious as to what else she might try. She's already thinking about making me a faux fur jacket and matching mukluks to keep me toasty on my walks, so I'm a teensy bit concerned.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Is it time to revisit Wellesley's leash law? A dog's perspective

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. I'd love to race through them
but I'd probably get eaten by coyotes/stuck in icy ooze/run out the other
side and get hit by a car. Safe might be boring, but it's safe.
Would I be asking the question if I didn't think so? I do think it's time. But then again, maybe not.

Here's the reason: a dog's going to do what a dog wants to do. And so are humans.

Take it from me. I know perfectly well what I'm supposed to do. I know how to get home from just about anywhere.

The question is: do I want to?

The answer: not until I've thoroughly explored everything I'd like to explore.

My personal experience is, that's what almost any dog would tell you.

Come when called? Sure, when I'm good and ready.

Right after I run at/scare to death/ jump on someone's grandma or toddler first. Or after I plunge into in Lake Waban to chase a goose/knock over someone trying to navigate an ice patch/sink my teeth into an incredibly handsome Walker hound (that would be me, and I still have the scars).

Be right there, after I tear across the road after that squirrel/runner/other dog.

News flash: Not every dog wants to meet your dog. Not every person enjoys paw prints on their clothing, wants a scratch that leaves a scar (poor Mom), or a heart-pumping scare experience (Mom again). Worse yet, not every driver can stop in time.

I've heard the other side: my dog's better with other dogs off-leash. My dog's friendly. My dog never does that!

I get that. Truly. I'd love to ditch that leash and run, run, run like a wild man. But would I be safe? I have to admit: No.

Answer honestly: Does your dog always listen? Every time? Come when called before checking out that interesting thing? Super. Then the town's bylaw works for you, and please, share your training secrets with everyone else.

The thing is, even if Wellesley had a law requiring dogs to be on leashes at all times, like Natick does, people still would let their dogs go. My sister took on a full body blow last week in Natick's ice-covered Hunnewell forest. "He's friendly!" shouted the owner from way back. Well, good thing, because it's always better to be knocked over by a friendly dog.

Same thing happened to Dad when the lady--with three purple leashes and just one dog on them-- fruitlessly called after her two other beasts as they charged over to me on an icy trail. She didn't say whether they were friendly, though.

Guess Dad should have let me go? That would have been very, very risky.

Because I don't come when called.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My own personal police detail: in other words, DOG is GO

My equestrian sister always calls her zoomy steeds
"go-ey." That's me: DOG is GO.
Just received my new license in the mail. I was hoping for a heart, or even a circle, to replace this very pointy dog head-shaped license I currently have. I mean, I appreciate the homage, but honestly, a curved tag is much more comfortable. Town officials, please note.

In any case, I was a bit disappointed when I saw my new tag is just as pointy as the old, but then I got the idea: it's an officer's shield! I like the idea of being a canine part of the force. So let me relate how I buddied up this year to not only Wellesley firefighters, but Wellesley police, too.

First off, Mom has both Wellesley and Natick animal control on speed dial, because not only is she completely terrified that she might be knocked over or I might yet again be chewed to bits by some off-leash creature, she always has an eye out for animals in need. Of course, I am often one of them.

Go-ey though I am, I tend to be rather law-abiding. I'm a big crosswalk user. I mean, it's the law, right, to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk? One would think, but outside of Wellesley Square, it rarely happens. You're lucky if drivers stop for a stop sign, or a red light.

Anyway,  a few months ago, I'm waiting in a  Washington Street crosswalk. And waiting. For once, I'm not in a hurry. Black SUV after black SUV goes by. One, however, stops in the crosswalk on the opposite side of the street. It happens to be coming out of the police station driveway.

I keep waiting and so does the other car. More black SUVs go by with many people in them drinking coffee while on the phone. Finally, the other car has had enough and BOOM! switches on its blue lights and siren.

An unmarked car! Now everyone stops. For me! Mom waves to the officer and we parade across in my own personal Make Way for Ducklings moment.

In the police lot, another officer is coming in for a shift. I go over to thank him and his colleagues for their protection. He sees I'm thirsty and gives me my very own, ice-cold Poland Spring water. It's the kind with the squirt top, so I guzzle down the whole thing.

They're there when you need them: thank you, Wellesley Police! Go, dog, go!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Prepare for a hound invasion! Turns out I'm leading a trend

Junebug sat nicely for the photo shoot, but Mom was a disaster at
taking pix and holding me, so this one is courtesy of Kym, who
recovered quickly after I knocked her over. 

"I can't believe that woman would get a hound after knowing him," my sister said, not because she doesn't love me, but because she has witnessed a great deal of my tabloid-worthy behavior while in certain local establishments, which she ticked off just in case I didn't recall: "Howling. Rampaging. Stealing stuff. Being completely annoying." She could go on, and probably she did, but I stopped listening.

Instead, I was dreaming about my newest crush, Miss Junebug Havens. She has lovely Southern manners and beautiful markings, and she's devoted to her new mom, Kym Havens, assistant manager at Wellesley Books. Kym indeed did rescue Miss Junie because of me, so I'm glad I've done something right. Either Kym was so taken aback by my shenanigans that she felt she needed to challenge herself, or she has got an amazing sense of humor. I suspect the latter, because she apparently thinks I'm really, really funny.

As we used to say in the news business, three's a trend. Another lovely girl, Marcy, I've yet to meet, but Mom did and gave her approval, though Marcy's mom told her she had eaten four rolls of toilet paper that day. "Is he a bit...mischievous?" asked Marcy's mother, searching for a tactful way to say what my sister so clearly expressed.


Mom directed her and Kym to, a great website run by super knowledgeable hound people. Their Long Ears blog has a helpful post called Tips on Adopting a Foxhound, or you could read on that same blog Mom's valentine to me, which also has some excellent reasons to adopt your own personal Tucker!

In case you've got the Junebug hound bug, here are some things you should be prepared to buy:

  • a martingale collar
  • a locking carabiner leash
  • training sessions
  • many, many treats
  • a six-foot fence.

Don't bother with tennis balls or Frisbees, because we are not the retrieving type. We are the give-me-an-inch, I'll-run-several-miles type. Be prepared. We're coming. We'll turn heads. We'll make you laugh. Sure, we can be a bit, shall we say, mischievous, but we are worth it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Not just viral, epidemic! It's the Ellen show for Wellesley firefighters who rescued dog who fell through ice

What about Crosby? Doesn't she deserve some
California sun?
Wellesley firefighters who saved Crosby, a Wellesley golden retriever who fell through the icy Charles River at Elm Bank, are headed to Burbank, California this weekend to tape a segment of the Ellen show. Taping will take place on Monday and the show will air on Tuesday.

Producers called the station this week and said that Ellen DeGeneres had seen the world-famous video of the rescue shot by Wellesley police. Ellen, a vegan known for her love of animals, wanted to have them on the show. The heartwarming story, breaking just before Christmas, went viral.

Ellen told Modern Dog magazine about her own rescues (hey, Ellen, we rescued a budgie!):
I have a million bird rescue stories. I rescued a hummingbird that had drowned. A hummingbird! Which is the weirdest thing. It was not at all responding. Its eyes were closed. It was just laying in the palm of my hand, soaking wet, and I took it and put its beak from flower to flower, and all of a sudden I saw its tongue come out of its mouth. I couldn't believe what was happening-to go from being a lump in my hand, to its eyes opening, to literally taking off. It was at a horrible point in my life where I was so depressed and it saved me. I realized that you never know when a hand is going to scoop you up and put you from flower to flower. To me, animals are an amazing example of who we can be and what the connection is. Whether it's a dog or a cat or....I rescue things I shouldn't. I almost had a coyote in my car once that I thought was a dog. I almost had it. People were honking at me and it was in the middle of the street and I had the car door open and I was calling it. Everybody was screaming and honking, and I'm like: "You shut up! Why aren't you saving this dog?!" And then as it got closer, I was like: "I think that's a coyote." 

Four firefighters plan to fly to the west coast: Firefighter Dave Papazian, who reached Crosby and turned her toward shore; Lieutenant Paul Delaney, who also got in the icy water;  Firefighter Joan Cullinane, who held the ropes attached to Papazian and Delaney to keep them safe; and Capt. Jim Dennehy.

Producers interviewed the firefighters this week and gave the go-ahead yesterday.

It's not the first time Ellen has feagured firefighter dog rescuers. "I love firefighters," Ellen said last year when two Las Vegas firefighters who had rescued puppies from a fire came on her show.

Crosby's owner, Amy Kapinos, reportedly also will be on the show.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter weather advisory for dogs

The closest I'm getting to anything Arctic-related.
This just in from Gov. Deval Patrick's office: a tweet recommending people take care to wash their dogs' feet after snowy walks.

Take my far better advice: don't go out at all. Amuse yourself by bugging your parents incessantly, forcing them to keep the door open as if you might go out. Taste the weather from, say, twenty feet away, then scram back to your nice, cozy chair.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How much does it cost to own a dog?

Don't look! The total might terrify you!
A bit low after yesterday's bruising bowl game (but, hey, it was a bonus, and Andre44 made a touchdown, and Chase Rettig flipped an amazing somersault to nail a first down, kind of like a move I would make), I decided to review my finances, or lack thereof.

I couldn't get motivated to totally go through the ledger, so I just looked at the debit card transactions. This leaves out boarding, because my favorite kennel takes checks only, and as things started adding up, I just didn't have the heart to look further.

So here's the minimum I spent on myself in 2013. Keep in mind, I require no grooming beyond the occasional capture for an outdoor bath in the backyard (mani-pedis, however, must be done in the salon); I've had no illnesses whatsoever, yet the vet bill from those two nasty, nasty attacks on my person did add up. Then there are heartworm pills, Frontline to keep ticks away, checkups, vaccinations, etc., etc., etc.

OK, here's the total vet bill: $1341.21. Yes, you read that right.

Then there's food, another requirement. I eat Natural Planet Organics, available at PetWorld in Natick. True, this bill includes food for one bunny and the very recent avian acquisition, but she barely eats anything (although her checkup fee rivaled mine: I'll have to calculate the ounce-for-ounce comparison, which will be stunning because she only weighs 40 grams).

Petworld: $1191.11 Yes, you read that right, too.

The SmartPak store: Hugs are free, but Frontline isn't: $81.71. Considering how many times I pop in there and don't buy anything, it's really not that bad.

Petco Unleashed: $119.66. That does not count my weekly dragging of Mom to the store and being forced to buy whatever I snag from the racks. It does include, however, some behavior training. Why, I do not know.

Replacement dog barrier from Volvo: $300, but I think Mom got a rebate. Not terrible, considering I absolutely punished the $100 job that's been kicking around in the way back with me for the last couple of years.

Town of Wellesley dog license: $12. A bargain.

Total, again, not including boarding, incidentals, toys, breakage, rug shampooing, furniture cleaning, heat loss due to my lengthy checking of the weather before going out, garden repair, etc. etc. etc.: A mere $3045.69.

That's almost nothing, considering the joy I bring my family every day. Especially when I'm checking the winter weather.