Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dog Genius Remixed

Since the National Geographic Channel trimmed Pappy's dynamite footage down to just a few seconds in the "Dog Genius" program, I've decided to take matters into my own hands. Here's my cut of the TV show, destined to become a classic. It doesn't get all caught up in that science junk, and gets right to the point-- Pappy.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Surprise

Oaxacan Carving of PappyMy wife surprised me this Christmas with a little Pappy homunculus. A veritable doppelganger, ball and all. There's a web site that specializes in making Oaxacan carvings from photographs of your pet, and the Pappy commission is featured on their site.

I'm thinking of using this as the model for my planned Pappy colossus, with his treelike legs spanning the Potomac near the Mall in DC. It could even function as the perfect pedestrian bridge, where tourists walk in the mouth and come out the... never mind.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Somebody's Getting Some Coal

While I was busily wrapping the dog presents for Pappy and dog cousins Polly and Ruby, a nosey little head poked through under my arm. It seems like someone likes Pupperoni. When I turned my back to do something, he started pushing around the packages with his nose. Someone 'round here has a serious deficiency in the old Christmas Spirit department.

Merry Christmas to all, and here's hoping that Pappy doesn't get into everything under the tree while we are asleep tonight.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

TV Greatness

Well, we witnessed Pappy's moments on the TV screen tonight. In the opening credits of Dog Genius on the National Geographic Channel, he made two appearances-- once from the chest down while sitting, another is a head shot against a white background. Then before the 30 minute mark there is a brief montage including me tossing him his ball, and then when they talk about tails the camera luxuriates on him for a moment as he stands and displays his proud butt plumage. All told there were about three seconds of footage, but I was so amped I might be wrong about that. Maybe closer to a second and a half.

I've been up all evening, but the phone is silent. Why aren't the offers rolling in?

Boob Tube Reminder

Tonight's Pappy's big television premiere in "Dog Genius" on the National Geographic Channel, 8:00 PM EST. Check your local listings. I know where I'll be-- at my brother's house where they actually have cable.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Career Development

In a non-PC moment, I was envisioning Pappy as a service dog for the visually impaired-- hauling his charge into phone poles and leaf piles, tangling leashes with other dogs, coming to a dead stop next to tennis courts to watch the ball go back and forth. Probably not a good career move for him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nesting Behavior

Pappy's Nest 1Pappy likes clothes. If I happen to drop a shirt on the bedroom floor when headed for the shower, on my return I am likely to find Pappy lying on top of it. And if we are separating laundry, it's simply irresistable to him. He settles down in the middle of of the pile and makes a little nest.

Of course if he insists on sitting on the laundry while I'm trying to strip the bed, he's gonna get what's coming to him. He becomes just another victim of collateral damage.

Pappy's Nest 2

Monday, December 17, 2007

A New Wrinkle

StuffedBoneWhile I was out for a run with Pappy yesterday morning, he stopped to do the needful. And he got stuck. Without being too graphic, I had to pull stuffed animal remnants out of his rear like a magician pulls hankies from his sleeve. We had a little quality time in the drizzling rain.

Pappy always has destuffed toys, typically into great piles all over the living room floor. To my knowledge, he hadn't yet answered the question of whether the fiber fill was tasty. With Christmas coming, now I have to worry whether Pappy is going to give himself an intestinal blockage from all the new toys. And I'm kind of wondering whether this stuffing was from last week, or represents years of accumulation finally making their way through the exit. The worries of parenthood.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Star Turn

With Pappy already in the galleries, it's high time for him to saturate the airwaves too. A couple of days ago my wife mentioned in passing that we had never heard from the National Geographic Channel about the TV show for which Pappy was filmed. I googled the show's name, and sure enough it is on their TV schedule. So be sure to look for Pappy in "Dog Genius" on Sunday, December 23 at 8:00 PM on the National Geographic Channel. Don't worry, I'll remind you.

The pathetic thing is that we don't even have cable TV. Please let me know whether Pappy or I made the final cut. He was awfully good on-camera, so I'm thinking positively!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

This Is The End

Hedgehog, one of Pappy's oldest friends, is now just a withered husk. Pappy just used him and tossed him aside. Well, occasionally he gnaws on him.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pappy on Exhibit

The Parts of My Dog 11This is about as close as he'll ever get to a museum, but Pappy's likeness will be on display at a local gallery. Two of my paintings were selected for a juried show at the Touchstone Gallery; there are more details at the art blog. Sorry, but Pappy won't be making the opening.

Hey, if you are in DC over the holidays and are loitering around Gallery Place, stop in at the gallery and pay homage to the great one.

P.S. Some of the astute amongst you might recognize that tongue.

Wordless Wednesday: Murder Most Foul

More Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Senseless Violence

ToyProtection-3This poor toy has to live out his days in little stuffed wheelchair. Oh, the humanity.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Save The Toys!

ToyProtection-4Why was this carnage necessary? This young lady had a bit part in the last Pappy music video. Now she lies in tatters, sucked clean of stuffing as if by a fiberfill vampire.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Stop The Madness

ToyProtection-1Some of you may remember this brave octopus as Pappys prize from Jackson's Moustache Championship. Now the nameless octoped has been reduced to a set of legs with no head. Thankfully only one squeaker has been extracted, but who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Merry Ho Ho Ho

Gus and Teka exercised their lyrical muscles and put together a Pappy Christmas song. I'd record it for you if I could get the neighbor's cats to stop yowling whenever I sing.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

First Snow

First SnowWell, DC had it's first snow of the season. As these things go in our area, it was an early whopper of 3 to 4 inches. Pappy was wild with excitement, though I can't say his aptitude for ball chasing translates as well to snowy conditions. With each toss he'd lose the ball, then go snorkling around for five minutes in search of it.

I let him out for a late evening pee, and, for the life of me, I can't get him to come in. He just keeps prancing around in the pre-winter wonderland.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

New Pup on the Block

I went to the dog park this morning to be greeted by news of a new arrival. Max's owners have just had their first kid. This was hardly a surprise, because the situation had been in development for some time. It's a first in my experience at the park, because the mom had been coming to the park regularly up through the weekend before delivery.

This weekend sweet little (oops I've forgotten his name) was home with his mom, but Max and his dad came to the park. From what I understand, once sweet little whatshisname is fattened up a bit they plan to have him live in the dog park under Max's stewardship. Well, they didn't actually say this, but they'd be crazy not to consider it. That "raised by wolves" thing is so overdone; it's time to give an equal opportunity to dogs.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Troubling Problems with Estate Planning

News has emerged that Trouble, Leona Helmsley's canine heir to a $12 million trust, has been receiving threats. Some menacing knothead has reputedly spouted: "I'm gonna kidnap the dog. I need the $12 million." He must be planning to buy lottery tickets.

This may affect my own estate planning. Clearly Pappy is going to need some heavy armament to protect our vast t-shirt empire when I'm gone. Maybe some tanks and stuff.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Rehash

Just in time for the holiday shopping frenzy, here's the music video for those of you who missed it last year. For the rest of you it should become a tradition, like watching Charlie Brown or Rudolph.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Miracle of Miracles

As I run the water for Pappy's holiday bath, I'm reminded of the great happenings during his last bath. As I was turning off the water for that bath, I realized I didn't have a towel for him. I had used a ball to lure Pappy upstairs, so I idly tossed it into the tub and walked over to the linen closet. When I came back, Pappy had mysteriously gotten into the tub all on his own. Wondrous. Of course then he spent the entire bath straining to hang his dripping head over the edge of the tub like he always does, but you can't have everything.

Monday, November 19, 2007


JacksonThis is a sketch is of brave boy, Jackson. He's been having a rough year, and nobody should have to be stuck on a low phosphate diet. Nobody.

This drawing is yet another part of the Nablopomo activities at the art blog.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Normal View on a Walk

There's this and another new Pappy painting over at the art blog as I rev up for entering a show. I found out I have an extra week to prepare... woohoo. Today was a rough day at the dog park-- several snarls between dogs, a few terrorized pups, and a poor woman had her legs cut out from under her by a stampede. Thankfully Pappy was good, but then some twerp dog snatched his ball and kept wandering in circles for a half hour. He wasn't even playing keepaway with Pappy, just compulsively gnawing on the ball while Pappy looked a bit lost.

The Parts of My Dog 10

Saturday, November 17, 2007


For those of you who don't know, long-time dog blogger and "tripawd", Finnegan, seems to be on the retirement track regarding his blog. Can't say I haven't had similar thoughts about putting Pappy's blog up on blocks, but so far stuff keeps coming up for me to write about. Fortunately Pappy remains peppy and healthy through it all, which doesn't sound as true for brave Finnegan. Good dog, good boy.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pennies from Heaven

As Pappy and I were wrapping up our morning walk and headed towards home I heard a rustle high up in the branches of a huge oak followed by falling debris. When the debris resoundingly struck the tarmac more than 40 feet below, it started skittering around before resolving itself into two squirrels. One of them tore off, but, as a slowly strangling Pappy and I approached, the other just started racing in circles. I suspect he wasn't entirely well, but he would have been substantially less well if I had let Pappy any closer.

When I told my wife this story, she said she had wondered why Pappy was later sitting in the back yard staring up into the trees. I guess he figures the squirrels are finally ripe.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mo' Postcards

Parts of My Dog Sketch 2Here's another of the postcards from my plane ride this weekend. If you'd like a sketch of my dog's eye, just leave a comment at the art blog and email a delivery address just like it says here. And if you would rather have a sketch of my dog's tail, this one is still up for grabs.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Model Dog

Typical Pappy Photo OpOn seeing Pappy photos and paintings, some of you have commented on what a perfect model Pappy must be. I just wanted to take a moment to correct that misimpression. In point of fact, the photo at left is much more typical of a Pappy photo session. To counteract this, my secret is volume, volume, volume... ridiculous numbers of photographs and retakes, followed by time in editing programs recropping everything. You could say that my main inspiration for the oddball angles in the paintings was that most photos I have of him come out like that.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Climate Crazy

The Parts of My Dog 7Approaching the end of our second year with Pappy, it's somewhat reassuring to now know that his bouts of insanity are seasonal. During the summer, Pappy is really a very good and relaxed leash walker. The minute we have a cold snap, it's like being dragged by a bumper car-- he's all over the place stopping and starting, hauling me hither and yon. Thankfully this only lasts the first few minutes. But during that time, if I give him the least provocation to break into a run, look for the guy bumping along behind the dog.

I remember last year when all of this was going on, I was convinced that all of his training efforts were breaking down during the first cold snap. Now I know I just need to play fetch with him for a couple of minutes to get him warmed up and calmed down. If he's chilly, maybe he needs a big old snowsuit.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Da Schnoz

Pappy's NoseIn the art blog, Charlie asked for a Pappy postcard. It's up for grabs over here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fall Again

Autumn has returned to our fair district, and, despite the drought, the leaves are just beginning to fall. Pappy and I are just beginning to encounter piles of leaves blocking the sidewalk on our morning jaunts, and he hauls me over so he can wade through up to his elbows. He's doing his dachshund imitation.

Monday, November 05, 2007

All of Pappy's Bits

The Parts of My Dog 6I'm putting up more Pappy art at my art blog as I ready to enter a couple of shows. And I'm cranking out some free postcard drawings and paintings throughout the month.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Gravitational Field

SatellitePappy has developed quite a following at the dog park. A lot of the meeker dogs like to chase him back and forth as he chases the balls-- it's a lower risk proposition than engaging the other dogs, since Pappy rarely registers on their presence. Today there were two or three circling around him as he raced back and forth, like satellites caught in his wake.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, we replaced the living room couch and the carpet yesterday. The couch won't affect Pappy much, but that rug had a nice thick pad. It was always his first destination when I handed him his morning carrot before we headed to work. We now have one of those thin Flor rugs, and it's got me a bit worried. He moved to the living room when we got rid of the padded carpet on the porch, and now I'm afraid he's just going to spend his life in bed.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Damn, He's Good Looking

Pappy NappingThis is Pappy waking from an evening nap. I guess using the flash was probably a little unkind, but it helps to see all the way up his nose.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Escapist Returns

Yesterday morning I went out to the backyard to get Pappy, but, again, no Pappy. I whistled around for a while, and finally heard an excited yelp from the neighbor's yard. When Pappy saw me, he darted behind the neighbor's shed but came back out after rustling around for a second. He scrabbled on the fence and I lifted him back over. I then looked around behind our shed and discovered, after fourteen years in our house and a year and a half with Pappy, that there is an eight inch gap between the fences of our two back neighbors behind the sheds. My wife said she kept glimpsing a strange dog taking a dump in our yard, and I guess that must have been neighbor-dog Scarlett crossing from the other direction. I guess I have a chore for this weekend.

Well, I'm off and running for Nablopomo at the other blog. If you stop by today, I promise an exciting opportunity. Exciting, but no dogs.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloweenie

Great googly moogly, that is an ugly baby. I have to say that this site has some of the better pet costumes, including but not limited to a dog mullet wig and rabbinical garb. This link was totally ripped off from Cute Overload.

Meanwhile, Pappy is dressed in his birthday suit for Halloween. My wife noticed he was nosing around the bags of candy this morning, and she forgot to move it out of reach after warning him off. He's pretty good about not getting into stuff, but I'm seeing the recipe for disaster in this situation-- blow pop overdose.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Monday, October 29, 2007

Soggy Dog

After a drought-stricken summer, I thought I'd never complain about rain again. Then we had four solid days of rain and I started getting trenchfoot from wet boots. Pappy developed a new beard of Spanish Moss.

Though we had some trouble getting him to go out in the back yard in the rain, Pappy was pretty stoic about going out the front door for a walk. I had my immense golf umbrella along, which has the upside of having huge coverage but the downside of being entirely in the way when trying to pick up after Pappy. I was trying to keep Pappy under the umbrella, but he didn't seem overly concerned. He was consumed with the clatter of water running into the storm drains.

Finally on Saturday the storm cleared out. I was convinced it had washed away all my remaining grass seed, but after the rain we actually have traces of a new lawn.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Double-Posting All The Way

The Parts of My Dog 2This gig where I get to cross post the same image to Pappy's blog and the painting blog is fantastic. Double credit. I should have thought of this years ago. Well, a year ago... well, maybe I've only had the other blog a month. Whatever.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Exit Stage Right

Prior to our evening stroll when I am trying to put on his leash, Pappy keeps turning in circles trying to work out what I am doing. Then he blocks the door to ensure that I can't leave without him. This isn't as highly efficient as it sounds.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sir Dog

Clearly I shop at the wrong pet stores. Gizmodo Link

Monday, October 22, 2007

Prepping for Nablopomo

The Parts of My Dog 1I'm doing Nablopomo next month, doing a posting each day of November over in my art blog. In this, I am joined by Finnegan's mom, Andrea. For my effort, I wanted to come up with a subject for a series of paintings-- not that I'm going to do a painting every day, but I'd like to be working on them continuously. What the heck... rather than neglect this blog, if I have my dog in the paintings I figure I can cross-post them here. Efficiency, thy name is Pappy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bringing in the Hay

Well, I'm trying to patch up our lawn along Pappy's path of destruction. After talking to some sod guys who seemed to have little interest in toting supplies up the big hill in our front yard, I took another shot at reseeding last weekend before the leaves begin falling in earnest. I've been trying to keep Pappy off of it by tossing the ball along the one alley of intact grass. The new grass is coming along pretty well, except that Pappy keeps going out and rolling around. After mopping up enough hay and seed he comes into the house and spreads it around, which is kind of missing the point.

Pappy and the New Seed

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sleeping Dogs Not Lying

These are some of my favorite videos involving dogs and sleeping. There's something even more lovable about a tired dog.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

DeGeneres Flap

Like everybody else, I respond to Ellen DeGeneres' heartfelt plea to the dog rescue agency to not reclaim the dog she gave away to her hairdresser. In case you live on the shady side of Antarctica, DeGeneres adopted a dog through an agency, the dog started eating her cats, so she gave the dog to her hairdresser's kids. The rescue group took the dog back from the new family because DeGeneres had signed a contract stating that she wouldn't rehome the pet without consulting the agency. DeGeneres is sad and wants the dog returned to her friends, and the public consensus is that the rescue agency is being stubborn and mean.

But, after thinking it through, I've decided that DeGeneres is playing dirty pool with her television appeal. She knows what kind of influence she wields, and she should have known what kind of impact this would have across the board. She has guaranteed the vilification of that rescue agency no matter what they do, and how is that going to affect their situation? How is this going to affect other rescue agencies that are being similarly diligent in placing their dogs? According to this, the people behind the rescue have been receiving insulting emails and worse since DeGeneres' appeal. If they have become entrenched or stubborn as a result of this national notoriety, all I can ask is who wouldn't? They didn't deserve this.

I've expressed mixed feelings in the past about the seemingly bureaucratic prequalifications and applications used by some rescue groups, but I know enough to know that the problem is more complicated than my limited experience would allow me to evaluate. As nice as DeGeneres seems, trying to settle the matter on national TV was ultimately manipulative and excessive and doesn't do credit to the efforts of this or other rescue groups.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Zen Koan

If it can no longer be attached to a hose, is it still a sprinkler? If it is plastic and in the back yard, is it not a chew toy?


Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Offering

TributeAs we were walking Pappy through our town's street fair, we were approached by someone promoting our food coop. She handed us a flyer, then surreptitiously offered a pressed rawhide bone trying to conceal it from a nearby wolfhound. "It's my last one" she said, and Pappy was clearly more deserving than any other dog in the vicinity.

I was almost loathe to take the bone since I knew what was coming. Our little Hamlet was going to whine and groan and angst and carry the bone everywhere without taking a single bite from it. For days he was going to stand by the door to take it outside, then stand by the door to go get it to bring back inside. And then the coup de grace. Every time I would sit down, he was going to come up, drop it in my lap, and stare at me. I can never figure out whether he wants me to keep it, throw it, or just suck on it a while to soften it up.

I did take the bone, and after two days of this I finally got tired of the ordeal. I took a gobbet of peanut butter and smeared it into the creases at one end, then I held it for him while he set to work. He likes it when I hold a chew for him because he can really bear down. He finished about a third of it over a couple of nights when it mysteriously disappeared. It's probably buried in the back yard. Pappy is a pathetic burier. He scratches a little furrow in the mulch and then scatters a couple of leaves over the top, so it will turn up when we rake.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sharin' Th' Love

Blog AwardGus was kind enough to grant Pappy's Dog Blog a blog love award. I, in return, love Gus not just because he is constantly threatening to send his housemate Teka to live with us, but also because he is the pasha of posting. The doctor of diligence. Every time I open my Google home page there is always an update from Gus waiting in the news reader, guaranteed. But I can't really give him an award because then we'd get into a feedback loop.

In advancing the love, my appreciation of the core group of the Dogs with Blogs community can't be left unsaid, including Finnegan, Ferndoggle, Fleasgang, Jackson, Joe Stains and Doofus Tanner, Murphey, Nugget, Sophie, these Texas Dachsies, those Texas Dachsies, and about a billion others that I'm too worn out to link. (Hope everybody got a little Technorati boost from that.)

But there are a number of blogs that lurk further out on the fringes of the dog blogging community and beyond that I'd like to recognize. I always follow the exploits of Minou and Birdie, mostly because I am trying to figure out what the heck Birdie is saying. I figure she's sort of like the Rosetta Stone for dog communications. Then I have always admired the wry satire and entrepreneurial spirit of Ayatollah Mugsy and the Pug Life Ministries. Finally, in the human realm, I am a fan of Momopeche since last November's Nablopomo when she carved a goldfish out of salami. I like to think my Pappy obsession resonated with her, contributing to her later getting a dog, Cisco.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Quick Explanation

Some of you may have noticed the abrupt change of my tagline on posts and comments from "Pappy's Fella" to "Nat". It's all related to the new blog, where I am surrendering any semblance of web anonymity. I tried using a separate Blogger account to maintain that blog for about a week, but it quickly grew tiring having to switch back and forth.

If you'd like to continue to think of me as Pappy's Fella, go right ahead and do the mental substitution.

The Perfect Walk

While Pappy and I were on our morning walk, two cats were chasing each other around some parked cars. They rounded the corner between two cars and came face to face with an equally unsuspecting Pappy. He gave a growl and a lurch before the cats scattered. It would have been his idea of a perfect morning if I had just been holding the leash a little more loosely. He was on high alert all the way home.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Britney Loves Her Dog More Than Her Kids

How can they dare make fun of Britney after all she's been through. All you people care about is readers and making money off of her. SHE'S A HUMAN. JUST LEAVE HER ALONE!!!

Seriously, apart from feeling a little sorry for her I'm getting really sick of hearing about it all.

Monday, October 08, 2007

He Flies Through The Air With The Greatest of Ease

The latest Pappy movie. Just something simple... my animation days may be behind me.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Missed Photo Op

Today at the dog park, Louise, a twenty pound beagly mutt with perhaps a bit of rabbit mixed in, was wrestling with a Bernese Mountain Dog that might well have outweighed me. Louise was all flashing fangs and flashy moves until her nemesis lined her up and flopped down on top of her. This was repeated until Louise was thoroughly filthy, as is her way. Later, to reestablish her bona fides, Louise took a shot at mounting his head. Ridiculous.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Anti-Houdini

When we first brought Pappy home, for a few weeks our back yard was only fenced on three sides. I tried tying him out on a long rope, but he just managed to wrap his legs into a cat's cradle. Eventually I figured out he just wasn't going to run off if we were around, and since then that's the way it's always been. He's just not interested in escaping.

Then this morning I went outside to play ball with him after he had been out for a while, and was faced with an empty back yard. I figured he was just behind the shed or in the bushes, so I bounced the ball a couple of times. Nothing. I checked the gates and they were locked. Then I saw a flash of movement between the bushes in our rear neighbors' yard. Pappy and Charlie, the neighbors' standard poodle, were racing in circles. The last time we got those two together, Pappy wouldn't give him the time of day. Suddenly they're best friends. As soon as he saw me Pappy was desperate to come over the fence, clawing at my dress shirt with dirty paws trying to get back. It seems it was as much of a mystery to him how he got over the fence as it was to me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Horror

Leaf BagsAs we were scurrying through the park in the dusk growing to dark, Pappy suddenly pulled up short. He wouldn't take another step forward, and you could see the terror in his eyes. A row of the dread leaf bags were lying in wait ahead, like a gauntlet of grim malformed toads carelessly left by some maintenance crew. I was finally able to coax Pappy past the villains and get back underway.

I knew Pappy had a bit of a neurosis about leaf bags from way back when we got him, but I thought he had gotten over it. Evidently not.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

His Legacy

Pappy, immortalized for posterity.

Pappy (2007)

Saturday, September 29, 2007


When we were packing to come home from our vacation in Maine this summer, Pappy got freaky. Whenever we are packing for a trip, he gets anxious and clingy and is clearly worried about being left behind. And he's often right, just not that time. At one point while I was packing the car he dashed into the back seat, and I couldn't pry him out with a lever. Of course we weren't leaving for another three hours, but whatever.

I've always asked myself how he knows that the packing is a prelude to our leaving. It turns out he doesn't. We were packing up a bunch of stuff to take up to the neighborhood yard sale this morning, and Pappy went into panic overdrive making sure no one was going anywhere without him. He was relieved when I seemed to be hanging around after moving a few loads up the street.

We wandered up to the yard sale later to spell my wife, and Pappy started peering down the storm drain like it was a badger's den (as he often does). Then he started growling and woofing, whereupon I told him to quit barking at nothing. A neighbor announced that there was a cat down there running between two storm drain entrances, and I bent down to check. Sure enough.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bad Timing

On today's early morning walk, Pappy just stopped while we were crossing the only busy street in the neighborhood and "assumed the position" in the middle of the pavement. I had to haul him across lest we be mowed down during the procedure. What was up with that?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Leaf

My wife were talking yesterday about a topics for blog postings. She had seen a sign in a store downtown advertising "Now Selling Sanitized Hot Dogs", and it made her jaw drop. What do they do, dip them in Lysol? What were they selling before? She was gobsmacked enough that she wanted me to engineer some connection to the other kind of dogs for the blog.

Truth is, though I've been pretty prolific over the past few weeks, I'm feeling like I am running out of material I am excited about. After nearly 400 posts I've managed to itemize all of Pappy's peculiarities, some more than once. I've been struggling with the notion that it's getting repetitive, and that makes it hard to maintain much enthusiasm.

One of the big interests I have right now is the question of what I am going to do when I retire in a few years. Pappy would like me to walk him full-time between sessions of fetch, but I suspect I am going to need something more to fill my days. Plus walking dogs won't pay the extravagant health insurance premiums of early retirees. About a quarter century ago I gave up on the idea that I could make a living making art. It's one thing to be talented with a brush, but it's another to be disciplined at the business. One needs both.

This year I am trying to lay the groundwork to try again. I want to start by showing the dedication to paint regularly, because productivity is one of my greatest assets as an artist. Then I want to discover how to market my artwork, which was my failing in the past. I've started a new blog, Doing Art (no, not doing like boing, doing like brewing), to document... something. Either I'll just post images of new work, or maybe I'll post on what I am learning along the way. We'll see how that goes, and what happens here in Pappy's blog.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I walked a different way home from work yesterday, coming through the park. At one point I was approaching someone walking a dog off-leash. The walker was tossing a small disk to the dog, and then it clicked. Though I didn't know the person, I recognized the little Border Collie from several visits to the dog park. Sweet, very submissive, and totally obsessed about fetching her soft frisbee. She always seemed intimidated by other dogs, avoiding them with her tail and head down. She'd creep up behind me to drop her spit soaked disk, and then lurk around until I figured out she was waiting for me to throw it. If another dog grabbed the disk, she'd silently follow until he dropped it. Nice, but really intense.

2007-09-23-0915-00Though I've read about similar cases with Border Collies, this obsessiveness certainly isn't their sole province. I think most regulars at the dog park would group Pappy in the same class with his ball fetching. He shows some personality and plays with other dogs when he first arrives at the park, but eventually he gets fixated on the ball. It's not like he's doing it to interact with a person, because he'll arbitrarily drop the ball at anyone's feet and stare at only it. Newcomers to the dog park often say they wish their dogs would retrieve a ball like Pappy, but they should be a little careful when they wish for a fetching zombie. It's good exercise for an active dog, but it seems a bit joyless. It's always a relief to me when he briefly snaps out of his trance, like when he starts prancing and barking through the ball at another dog. That cracks me up.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Goin' to the Park

A typical conversation at the dog park goes something like this: "Dogs are so weird..." We had a big Lab at the park today who was standing up on his hind legs for extended periods staring into trees. No birds there. Maybe the leaves? If you lowered the branch he seemed to be straining to reach he didn't seem too interested. Just kept standing there. Weird.

BoxerOne of the frequent topics discussed among the owners is the reaction of their dogs on the way to the park. "As soon as we turn at [this or that corner], [name goes here] goes nuts" is a common refrain. Even at home, some dogs seem to intuit when it's time to go to the park. Her owners say that neighbor dog Molly always waits at the window for me to pick her up on weekend mornings.

As we turn into the park, Molly doesn't just start whining, she licks the back of my ear-- not as unpleasant as it sounds. When sufficiently excited on the way to the park, Pappy just starts barking loudly at every dog he spots-- every bit as unpleasant as it sounds. What brought this subject to mind was this morning when I was at the park there was this car driving up with its windows open. From a hundred yards away I could hear this constant yowling gradually getting louder, like a perverse off-key siren. Now that would be really fun.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Burrs of Outrageous Fortune

BurrOver the past couple of weeks, each time Pappy and I return from a walk I find dozens of sticklike burrs on his head and flanks accompanied by the occasional green triangular burr. I had no idea what plants they were coming from. Pappy loves to tunnel through the foliage on either side of the path, so burr prevention is a tough battle to win.

During this evening's walk I went on a burr hunting safari and found one of the guilty plants. I believe I know where they are concentrated along our route. We are striving for a burr-free world. Victory at all costs.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Against Type

At the dog park last weekend there was a Golden Retriever who was growling and chasing off other dogs. The Golden Retriever owner's manual and marketing materials all clearly state that they are "friendly to a fault", but this guy was positively ornery. He wasn't so aggressive to set off my alarm bells, but I wasn't at all clear what his owner thought the dog was getting by being at the dog park.

After getting getting chased away a couple of times, Pappy took up station behind my legs. Let me repeat that... my dog... was hiding... behind... my legs. What's up with that? Pappy can't let some dog push him around, else he'll be bait for every bully on the playground. He just needed to give that goldie a shot in his fat goldie paunch to show him a thing or two. I'm just saying that Pappy needs to stop being a chicken learn to protect himself. Oh look at that, now I've made him cry.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Equipping for Night Operations

As I've mentioned before, we are late in the season and days are getting shorter. Saying more on the subject just depresses me. The flashlight I was using on dog walks last year has disappeared, so I was searching for a replacement. Though infrared thermal imagers might be helpful in spotting steaming targets, they are bulky and aren't very helpful in making one visible to passing traffic. So I searched around Amazon, and came across these compact LED flashlights for $2.99. As with many bargains on the internet the shipping and handling charges were atrocious, but I bought a bunch of them and figured the overall cost was acceptable.

I'm not a huge gimmick lover, but, boy, technology is finally paying dividends. I've never been so excited about a flashlight. It's much smaller than my old flashlight, and it's metal case seems sturdy and water resistant. And, man alive, those nine LEDs are bright. When Pappy starts hunkering down to put on his show, I shine that spotlight on him and it's like a Broadway premiere. The audience doesn't miss a thing.

In honor of "International Talk Like a Pirate Day", you can go to this link and type in our URL ( to get a full translation of Pappy's blog into piratese.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Clean Again

Our bathroom is finally remodeled, and we now have the means to shower at home once again. We had a trying couple of weeks cadging showers at work and when visiting friends. This has been a time during which I revamped my standards of hygiene.

This weekend, Pappy had the inaugural bath in our new tub and gave it a paws up. It's funny that when I give him a bath he intially smells fantastic, but within hours smells like he hasn't had a bath in weeks. Though the bathroom lacks a few finishing touches, the design vision I put together in my wife's absence is glorious. You might think that a crystal chandelier would be too big for a six-by-eight foot bathroom, but it is worth having to crouch a bit for that touch of opulence. And, when the candelabras in the wall sconces are lit, looking up from the heart shaped tub at the day-glo mural on the ceiling brings it to life. If you check the photo, I think you'd agree we really need some black lights in there.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fall Reruns

After completing yesterday's entry, I suddenly got a feeling of deja vu. I searched my blog, and sure enough I titled a post "Skeedaddling" less than two months ago. Then I thought of doing this post, and said to myself I should call it "Deja Vu", no "Deja Vu All Over Again". Sure enough, I've already used that title. Holy crud, this is playing on my worst fears. I am a creature of routine, and there can only be so much variety in routine. I'm getting this sick feeling that this blog has started getting stale and I haven't noticed. Maybe I ought to syndicate it and just rerun old postings.

That being said, let me duplicate another effort from earlier in the week-- here's a new t-shirt design. This time I am expanding the Mutt Pride line of leisurewear. I'm a wee bit PO'ed about the exclusionary practices of the line of hipster dog products, and this is my reactionary statement in support of muttdom. I wanted to use Pappy for the silhouette in the design, but I found a dog as fuzzy as he is doesn't really have a recognizable profile. In the end I made a composite mutt with Pappy's tail, a Dalmatian's body, and some other dog's head. Frankenmutt.


Friday, September 14, 2007


Rabies Vaccination TagPappy and I were out for a walk when his name tag just popped off his collar. I looked at it, then I looked at his collar, then I noticed that the wire ring securing his tags had pulled apart. And his rabies vaccination tag was gone! I searched on our way home and around the house, but the green bell-shaped tag was nowhere to be found.

I've never been exactly sure what that tag is for, but I'm not taking any chances. I'm assuming that Pappy is now a fugitive from the authorities, so we're going on the lam. Animal control will never take us alive. Mother of mercy, is this the end of Pappy's blog?*

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Your Eyes Are Like Two Rare Steaks...

OysterForkI was browsing around dog-related postings, and I came across this one referencing the pet product designs of Alice Wang. I have long since mastered the art of responding "heh heh, never heard that one" to people who repeat cracks about my Pappy obsession, but these PetPlus products even make me want to mock dog lovers. We're talking formalwear dog bibs, and matching human/dog china and stemware for dates with your canine surrogate boyfriend or girlfriend.

Mercifully there are indications elsewhere on her site that Alice is either being tongue in cheek or stark raving bonkers. I can rest assured that at least I haven't crossed that line into the lunatic fringe. But the pillow you share with your pooch does seem kind of sweet.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The P Files

Since launching Pappy's web store in January, I've let it languish. I spend enough time noodling around with Photoshop, you'd think I could knock out a few shirt designs-- but, noooo. Well that's about to end. Of course that won't necessarily change the fact that only one person outside of my extended family has ever bought shirts (thanks F'doggle). In keeping with my tradition of being way behind the times and hopelessly ignorant of current trends, I went with an X Files theme for the latest design.

As a little disclaimer, I've ordered some of the other designs but not this one. The t-shirts are good quality, but designs do fade some with washing. Of course I bleach everything, so it would be more remarkable if they didn't fade. Pappy's store only charges Printfection's rate to print and mail merchandise. My sole reward is seeing Pappy's image everywhere. Well, at least when I look down at my shirt. Please be careful not to sprain your mouse finger rushing to order, there are plenty of shirts for everyone.

The Truth Is Down There

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Makeout Artist

Our HeroIn the news, a British prison officer saved the life of Frodo, a Welsh springer spaniel, by giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The dog had accidentally been strangled when another dog got teeth caught on his collar while playing. The rescue technique involved clearing the dog's tongue from the air passage, making a cone with his hands using his pinky to block off the dog's nostrils, and then blowing into the dog's mouth. As the officer described the experience: "It wasn't pleasant-- Frodo's mouth was horribly smelly."

He's been commended by animal welfare groups, and I'm sure none of the guys at the office has thought of ribbing him for snogging a dog. I like to think in the same situation I would leap to Pappy's rescue, but we're going to have to get him some breath strips or something.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Running Dog

2007-01-15-1537-06I generally run from home once a week early on Sundays, and Pappy has always been excited to come out with me. He starts out strong dragging me along behind, fades after a few minutes, and then keeps a well-matched pace to the finish. I started running every day on vacation, and for the first days he'd get up with me at the crack of dawn raring to come along. Then he was getting up with me, but seemed a little draggy while running the route. Finally, he stopped getting up with me. I'd head downstairs with my running gear and potter around for a few minutes, but no Pappy. I'd head out alone, but as soon as I returned Pappy would be waiting at the front door to lick sweat off my legs. Now that we're back home Pappy seems to have adopted this strategy for Sunday morning runs. While I'm heading out he's sleeping in, but he's there waiting for me when I get back. Do you suppose he's trying to tell me something?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Prince And The Pea

Pappy started life with us using a crate mattress for a bed. We crated him for a grand total of about four days until we cracked and gave him the run of the house while we were gone. We moved the mattress into our bedroom and he continued to use it, but it is a little weird. It's got a "magic fingers" feature (no quarters!), but this entails a metal lump in the middle and a huge electric cord. That seemed like such a good idea when we were picking up our new dog, but we've long since lost the power adapter for the stupid thing.

2007-09-06-2233-01Our bedroom is pretty small and his bed was ungainly, so my wife went out and got Pappy a cute new bed. A pretty red pillow, a bit smaller but more sumptuous than his crate mattress. Initially he wouldn't use it at all, so we thought it was too thick. My wife cut open the pillow, took out some of the stuffing, and sewed it back up. Nope, still no good. We thought maybe it needed to get his smell on it, or perhaps he needed to get accustomed to it. We set it up next to his crate mattress at the foot of the bed to help with the transition.

So, here we are a couple of months later. Pappy still prefers his crate mattress, but he does likes to rest his head on the red pillow. And then he likes to sprawl a bit off of the bed onto the floor. Except those times he doesn't feel like lying on the bed, and just plants himself out on the carpet. I think we're going to have to get a smaller bed for ourselves, because there's no room for us anymore.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Pool Party

We are still without a working shower at our house, and we've been asked to chaperon my niece's pool party for her birthday this weekend. Sounds like a match made in heaven. I hope my brother doesn't mind if I bring soap and shampoo.

Meanwhile, here's a little tribute video I found to commemorate the end of summer.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dim and Dimmer

After returning from our three week vacation up north, it pains me to report that it's now dark during my early morning walks with Pappy. Pretty soon I'm going to have to switch to my winter walking route so that I have streetlights to illuminate my poo bagging activities. The excitement of the days getting longer in the spring never quite makes up for the despair when they get shorter in the fall.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Food Glorious Food

food-turkeyOur buddy Finnegan has tagged us to come up with five must-have food items for Pappy and my sustenance. For me it is curiously easy:

  1. Milk.

  2. Peanut butter.

  3. Graham crackers. Spread on some of the peanut butter. Ideally add some broiled marshmallows on top, but this is optional. My signature dessert.

  4. Espresso beans.

  5. Beer. The perfect food.

For Pappy it is a little more difficult since his diet primarily consists of kibble. But here goes:
  1. Artemis Adult Dog food.

  2. Carrots.

  3. Pizzles.

  4. Great slabs of beef. (A dog can dream.)

  5. Any tissues or fast food wrappers he finds on a walk.

To perpetuate the tag, I am going to pass this along to MJ and Buddy once they return from their summer breaks.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Under Construction

2007-05-31-0724-05As a stroke of genius, we decided to remodel our only full bathroom while we were away on vacation. It was going to spare us a lot of inconvenience, and we have a long track record with our contractor. What could go wrong?

Umm, maybe the special order sink could be defective? Or the tile could be on backorder? Needless to say, we arrived home and our only bathing facilities are out of commission. Pappy is immensely relieved, since he has the stench of the clam flats about him and is overdue for a good scrubbing.

But how do people who want to get clean, you know, get clean? My wife took Pappy's mortar tub in the basement for a little private sponge bath. I followed a less demure route. I took my soap and shampoo to the back yard, booted Pappy out of his wading pool, and had a luxurious bath on the patio. Lovely view, but Pappy kept dropping his ball in my bath water. Yes, I did wear my trunks.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

In Transit

WoofWell, we made it home from our holiday. It was such a pretty day we left late yesterday and only made it as far as Portland, Maine. Motel 6 is no great shakes, but they allow pets and they have beds in the rooms which were my main criteria.

It was Pappy's first stay at a hotel, and he was very excited. As we turned out the lights to go to bed, he lay there and woofed once each time he heard a door close. There were hundreds of doors in the hotel. I had a fun little game going listening for closing doors that he didn't bark at. This kept up every fifteen minutes until we gave up trying to sleep at 3AM and hit the road. The upside was that we made great time.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Paradise Lost

2007-08-29_009Well, our vacation is coming to a close. Tomorrow we are headed home, with the Labor Day traffic helping to repressurize us for life in DC. We have had fantastic weather, with just enough rain to make us appreciate the sunshine. The last few mornings we've awakened to thick fog, but the sun and wind have burned it off by mid-morning. We've had lobster on the beach, sailing, hiking, kayaking, and all the best activities.

Pappy has had the time of his life, but hasn't had many opportunities to play with other dogs. Back home he may have a tough time getting used to us not being around all the time, but I think he'll enjoy being back at the dog park.