Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Drought, Drought, Drought

We had one substantial rainstorm this summer in the DC metro area, and that was at the beginning of July. Since then, almost nada.

The last few summers have been dry, but we managed to keep a few strands of grass alive. With the addition of the Papster storming around in back after balls (see "Confessions...", particularly the last scene with the plumes of dust), that's it for most of the grass. And the hostas have been creamed too... whenever he catches the ball, he runs back into that bed and stomps around for a while as a final flourish, like a wide receiver in the end zone.

Intelligence of Dogs

I got a copy of "Intelligence of Dogs" by Stanley Coren. While many dog authors, especially boneheads like Elizabeth Marshall whozits of "Hidden Life of Dogs" note, seem to attract mixed reviews, Coren seems to be widely respected. Other authors regularly quote or reference his books as source material. I've got a copy of another of his books, "How to Speak Dog" on the shelf, but I'm taking this one on the plane today and plan to make some headway.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Blog Redesign

Google has assimilated, and, in the spirit of all things Google, entered into a perpetual "beta" with new features. To enable these, I switched to a new site template-- and, presto, the all-new Pappy's blog!

It's pretty plain, but I like the extra space it provides for oversize youtube video links, and the archives are better organized. And, of course, who couldn't love that face... with its unconventional good looks.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Leash Not-So-Niceness

We're still struggling with Pappy and leash aggression (earlier post). I came across this article, which is a pitch-perfect description of our situation-- pulling and lunging towards the other dog... barking and growling... my excuses that Pappy is friendly. The worst part is that I have been losing my patience and feeling a lot less kindly towards our pup during these incidents.

Yesterday we got a Gentle Leader, having heard it can help with training. As long as we've had Pappy, we've used an Easy Walk harness from the same manufacturer, but it was never markedly effective at preventing his pulling or lunging-- generally he's good on the leash away from other dogs, so switching hadn't been a big priority.

He fussed and bridled a bit after we first tried the Gentle Leader, but from there it's been very encouraging. Already good on the leash, he doesn't pull at all with the new collar. We ran into Taz, barky miniature Schnauzer, on the trail. Pappy wasn't barking-- but mostly because he started struggling with the collar rather than fixating on the dog, so it was kind of a mixed victory. I wouldn't call him "trained" or "desensitized" yet, but it gave me hope that I can draw his focus away from the other dog and start that process.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Confessions of a Ball-Chasing Addict

The latest Pappy movie is a drama. If "Leaving Las Vegas" can net Nicholas Cage an Oscar, surely Pappy can rocket to stardom with his vice.

Dog Park Ink

Well, the Wheaton Regional dog park got some ink in this week's Gazette. The weekend before last, the Saturday early morning crew (including Ollie the Collie, Truman the German Short-Haired Pointer, Lucy and Joy the Boxers, Jack, Jojo, and Pappy among others) were all running around when a stranger, sans dog, entered the gate. Joy immediately bounded up and greeted him paws first.

He said he was writing an article on dog parks, and collected some thoughtful and pithy quotes from us. Last weekend folks at the dog park were all wondering what happened to the article, but my wife popped open today's paper and there it was. The crew will be so pleased.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Someone Else's Doggy Movie

We rented the DVD of "Shelter Dogs" this weekend. It's a documentary concerning a dog shelter in New York state. It's an engaging movie, but not incredibly polished. I agree with the key point-- that a no-kill policy for shelters isn't always the kindest solution-- but I am not sure that the events of the movie absolutely nailed the argument.

But it does show the difficulties of running a shelter, the devotion and dilemmas of the dog owners and staff, and some very sweet doggies. It definitely made us a little verklempt when we thought of Pappy in shelters, and his rescue by volunteers like these. He is still listed on the Last Chance page (as 'Fritz'). 8/27 Update: Last Chance finally updated the site and Pappy's pre-adoption pic is gone.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon...

...or not. Pappy's eight-month-old puppy pal, Molly, was spayed this week. As a result she has been noticeably absent for her traditional morning play dates with the Papster.

Pappy was neutered long before we got him. There is a "why-it's-good-for-your-pet" party line that is a little too zealous, but they are trying to battle some popular misconceptions regarding fixing your pet. The sad fact that was most convincing to me was the number of dogs up for adoption. When we were looking to adopt a dog, the selection of pets at the no-kill shelters was astoundingly large and turned over much too slowly (Pappy met Sierra and Milo at the beginning of June, and they are still listed at All-Breed Rescue). And, in the kill shelters, the selection of pets turns over much too quickly.

8/29 Update: Looks like Milo was adopted from All-Breed Rescue!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pappy's "Gone With The Wind"

We finally have Pappy's masterwork-- the movie that generations will view and remember. "The Teletubbies Meet Pappy" has the sort of nuanced portrayals you don't expect from a 2 1/2 minute movie. It's sort of like "Kramer vs. Kramer" meets "Alien vs. Predator". Maybe with some "Itchy vs. Scratchy" thrown in.

This may be a little intense for teeny tinies.

Hordes from Texas

We had some visitors to our suburban Washington enclave, and Pappy was in on the action. My wife's junior high friend, her husband, and six kids DROVE up from Dallas to DC for a vacation. We had them by for breakfast Saturday morning.

I broke out the bouncy ball for a demo of Pappy's exceptional ball-obsessed reflexes and willingness to chase 'til he drops. Given that we have no good toys, tossing the ball kept the little ones occupied. Apart from how nice these kids are, one thing that impressed me is that all of them could throw. Tiny Elizabeth had the kind of arm you don't see on many little girls.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dog Days

It's stinking hot, and it's amazing how this changes a dog's behavior. Pappy's morning play dates with Molly have devolved into a few seconds' faint-hearted wrasslin' followed by both dogs at the back door begging to come sit by the air-conditioning vent. You'd almost think the two of them were mellowing out.

Of course, Pappy will run himself to heat-exhaustion if there is a ball to be chased.