Monday, April 30, 2007

Suspicious Symmetry

We don't live in anyplace like the country, but we spot deer with increasing frequency in our little suburban neighborhood. If Pappy and I are walking along the stream path at dusk, we are almost guaranteed a sighting. It's a little disconcerting, because they are crashing around through peoples' back yards just a few feet from busy roads.

Recently we encountered one a short distance from us on the path. As Pappy strained on his leash, he lined up perfectly with the fleeing deer. I couldn't help but notice a curious simliarity in their hindquarters.

Deer and Pappy

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Phantom Menace

On our morning walk the other day, Pappy was sniffing and grazing around a tree in front of a neighbor's house. As he rounded the tree, he suddenly lurched, woofed, and a cat tore off through the ivy. He was so excited that he was hauling on his leash for the next five minutes as we went on our way.

A couple of days later we were on a walk and he casually sauntered up to the tree again to check out any new smells. When we were close enough, he pounced to the far side of the tree. No cat.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Most Wonderful Sneezin' of Spring

Pappy up in da Pollen, 4/29/2006I was walking home from the subway the other day, and I had the distinct sensation of a tiny man straddling my nose. Rhythmically digging in his heels. Wearing spurs.

Yes, pollen counts are through the roof, and at the office every fourth person is calling in sick. Even Pappy isn't unaffected. Yesterday I was sitting on the floor, minding my own business, when Pappy came in from the back yard to have a five-minute face grinding session on my leg and armpit in an effort to gouge out his itchy eyes. My wife has taken to using a wet washcloth to wipe any pollen from his face. I don't know if it does anything, but his eyes haven't turned into bright red beebees so far this year.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

In Spring, A Dog's Thoughts Turn To Grass

On recent walks, Pappy has been helping the neighbors with edging their lawns by snatching at new shoots of spring grass. Moo!

Here is a Pappy haiku in honor of the season.

the evening light filters
through the tender green blades
(chomp), (munch), luscious

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lab Analysis

This Sunday at the dog park a black Lab named Lola showed up. Then a second black Lab came, and then Boomer, a third one, appeared. A fourth one came, and then-- who knows? I tried to count, but I couldn't get them all in my field of vision at the same time. And, let's face it, black is black.

I hope everyone left with the right dog.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Celebration for All Poochdom

I was recently checking the Bone Zone at DogsWithBlogs, and they are announcing their one year anniversary on April 25. I registered Pappy's blog with them just last October, and assumed the site had been around for years given its popularity in the dog blogging community. If you want to find the most canine literati outside of an asylum, DogsWithBlogs is the place to be.

For the great occasion, Pappy and I knocked together this tribute video to honor the passion, devotion, and lunacy of the webmasters and members of DogsWithBlogs.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Back To School

For a while I have been talking about getting back on the training bandwagon with Pappy. We did beginner's training at Petsmart about a year ago. It didn't leave us with the sense of total mind control over the pooch, but it gave us a little structure and did more good than harm. So, to overcome inertia, about a month ago we stopped by Petsmart with the expectation of starting the intermediate class. As it turned out, the start of class was postponed until this coming weekend. We signed up.

Since then I have been in touch with Ferndoggle, who is my model for a training-focused owner. Plus some of her dog tribe have had similar issues to Pappy concerning leash aggression on encountering strange dogs-- a situation where I feel pretty lost. She has graciously done a little networking on my behalf to find good trainers in the Maryland suburbs of DC. Her recommendations included FourPositivePaws in Greenbelt, and the Washington Animal Rescue League, which is one of the shelters we frequented while searching for Pappy.

At this point I suspect we'll proceed with the Petsmart course to stay on track. I hate to lose our momentum waiting for a different class to start up, and we had a pretty positive experience with the beginner's class. The intermediate class deals with training with distractions, where we need a lot of work. I see some individual and more specialized training available from these other sources, and I think we certainly need to look at these too for some targeted training.

Sorry-- I made you read that shaggy dog story, and don't even have a punch line.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rapid Recovery

Pappy seems much recovered today following his bout of "False Lime Disease", consisting of lethargy but no secondary symptoms. We were at the vet's yesterday and he took Pappy's temperature with a rectal thermometer, and then took a stool sample to gauge it's consistency. Then he checked the chart and noted that Pappy was overdue for a worm test, so he performed a third anal probe-- just like in alien abductions. It was around this time that Pappy seemed to decide that further medical tests were unnecessary, and he was feeling much much better.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Pappy was all recovered from his tweaked leg by Sunday night. Then today, Tuesday, he didn't really want to wake up. He was generally lethargic all morning, slow to rise, and lying down in unusual places. He wasn't excited by going on a walk, but he seemed steady once we were out and about. His appetite is good, and he is wagging his tail when we call, but he just seems all-over achy.

I'm in training this week, so I was pretty torn about whether to leave this morning. I decided to have the dog walker call at midday with a status-- he doesn't sound worse, but he's still pretty mopey. We made an appointment at the vet's for this afternoon to see what is going on. The trials of parenthood...

Later update:
We're back from the vet, and I guess no news is good news. The vet didn't locate anything, his appetite is good, no diarrhea, no localized pain, no temperature. Pappy seems a little off still, but there are flashes of normalcy as he gets excited about things. The vet asked whether we would like to go on a fishing expedition with a bunch of tests, or whether we'd rather pursue a strategy of "benign neglect" (in other words wait-and-see). I went with the latter, since this is pretty much how I'd deal with my own ailment. But maybe he deserves better than what I'd give myself...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sympathy Pains

Today is Jack of the dog park's birthday, but it is rainy and disgusting and I don't know that Pappy and I are going to make the trip. I can't recall the last weekend morning we were in town and didn't go to the dog park.

Part of the reason is that we are on the mend. Yesterday at the park, Pappy limped up to me acting all needy and "kiss my boo boo". I was pretty worried and looked him over, but he seemed to walk it off pretty quickly. I didn't give it too much thought until later when, after lying down, he was limping a bit when he stood up. Keeping an eye on him, I don't think it's anything serious but he needs a little down time. Then last night we went out to a reception at DC's Museum of the American Indian, abandoning our ailing dog. As we were walking from the subway past 3rd and Pennsylvania, I twisted my ankle sharply while focused on making a walk signal-- it was on one of those shallow graduated steps that too-smart-by-half designers sneak into the plans so that building occupants can laugh at the stumbling pedestrians below. After standing around on the ankle for a couple of hours, it hurt quite a lot by the time we got home.

Interestingly, my bad ankle is on the same side as Pappy's. Anyway, the two of us are taking a break today.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Turning Over The Odometer

At 2:04 PM Thursday, when I wasn't paying attention, Pappy's Dog Blog received its 10,000th unique visitor who surfed in from Santiago, Chile (boy...legs...tired). Who knew Pappy had such broad international appeal? Of course the visitor had been searching for DJ Dac of the Reggaeton Boys, but you gotta take hits where you can find 'em. (I'll probably get fifty more hits for repeating "Reggaeton Boys", and even more for mentioning "Britney, Lindsay, Imus, and porn".)

Cue the confetti.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fair is Fair

At the office we seem to have a pretty constant stream of kids. Kids brought to the office because it's "Teacher Education Day", or a snow day, or summer. Stone cold bored kids who are tearing up and down the halls while the parent is splitting time on a normal day's work. I sympathize with the dilemma of parents left without other arrangements, but I am also the bitter bitter man whose team is left to clean up the spyware-infected computers these terrors leave in their wake. If you can't tell, my life is chock full of contradictions.

And yet, something keeps me from bringing Pappy to the office. I envy Gus's mom, who routinely takes him "on the job". Pappy would be a darn site better behaved than most of these kids, and probably better housebroken too. He's certainly not going to be trawling the porn sites or conducting a shrieking contest outside the office of someone having a teleconference. There may be some kind of regulations against animals, but, hey, we've already got mice everywhere in our cr*ppy old building. Pappy would probably reduce rather than increase the count of non-human mammals.

I talked to one of the senior managers about the idea of bring-your-dog-to-work-day. She may have been humoring me, but she gave every appearance of being very receptive. I'm not going to turn into one of those creepy old kooks who walks around mumbling to himself, am I?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Multiplying Dilemmas

Pappy may not be the fastest dog, but boy is he quick. When chasing balls he doesn't want you to throw the long bomb, he wants a worm burner that hops all over the place. I've watched a lot of dogs, and Pappy is really exceptional at catching bouncing balls at a full run. It often makes me wonder how he would react to a field full of rabbits...

But no, that would be unconscionable. He's a well fed dog, and there is no possible justification for me allowing him to terrorize little rabbitses.

Except that he needs a sense of purpose, and chasing rabbits would be a vocation that clearly suits him.

No, no, absolutely not! Unacceptable and cruel!

Well... there are going to be an awful lot of castoffs once those adorable gift Easter bunnies grow up in a few weeks...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Visual Evidence

I've written in the past about Pappy's complex about treats over four inches long, but this public service announcement provides a documentary exhibit. The object of his pathological anxiety is a pressed rawhide bone from his birthday stash of goodies. You can't really hear his whining throughout the incident, because it often penetrates the ultrasonic range.

Following the filming he took the bone into the backyard, scraped aside some mulch, and partly covered it-- a milestone! The first time (to my knowledge) he's buried something! After a couple of hours I finally coaxed him into gnawing the end a bit, at which point he snarfed it down.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Tooth Angst, Part 2

Maybe I shouldn't worry so much about the vet's warnings about Pappy's tooth wear. He could use a little bling, and he'd look pretty fly with mad chedda grillz.

Pappy with his Mad Chedda Grill

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tooth Angst

We took Pappy to the vet last weekend to get his shots and a general checkup. He was very brave and calm entering the office, given that when we last came to get his stitches out he was a quivering wreck.

Everything was going great until the vet checked on Pappy's teeth. Pappy's canines have shown noticeable wear since we got him, and are quite flattened at the tips at just two years old (like his tooth-grinding owner). The vet warned that if things keep up at this pace he may require a doggy root canal one of these days.

He's a diligent little chewer, but I couldn't think of anything he gets that would be abrasive. The vet cautioned that Pappy shouldn't play with tennis balls because they can cause a lot of wear, and my jaw dropped. Pappy without tennis balls is like The Green Giant without Li'l Sprout, Quisp without Quake, Anita Bryant without orange juice (I guess I'm dating myself here... I hope Anita doesn't come after me). This is the space age, why can't the vet graft some walrus tusk DNA onto Pappy's fangs or something?

At the dog park on Sunday we brought along a vet approved rubber ball rather than letting him play with the tennis balls in the enclosure; I wouldn't normally bring toys, but Pappy's not at all possessive so I don't anticipate problems. Gad, I never thought my stoic dog would require special instructions-- "Don't let him have that tennis ball, he needs this special orthopedic ball. And he's allergic to tree nuts, and here's his inhaler..."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Newsbreak: Dogs Lying Around

I came across this item about a dog yoga class. I looked at a few photos, it seems pretty much like they got five people together in Bellvue, Washington to do yoga while their dogs lie on mats. I'm sure I'll see it plastered all over the lifestyle portion of the local newscast, like the Golden Retriever who carefully dislodged the apple his owner was choking on by leveling her and pouncing on her gut. Woohoo, now they are national news.

I'm thinking of starting up a Formula One racing league for dogs if anyone out there is interested. Now that's gonna be news.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Setting the Record Straight

Extraordinary Vertical Leap, 2007-03-25We stopped by my Aunt's house yesterday with Pappy in tow, and her daughter came by while we were there. They knew Pappy from the web site and movies, but had never met him in person.

Both of them commented on the fact that Pappy was much taller than he seemed in the blog. Thinking about it, I don't often photograph him next to people and there isn't much of a point of reference. So I thought I better set the record straight.

Pappy is huge. Like seven feet tall when he stands on his back legs (step back Finnegan). He's often mistaken for one of those hairy Himalayan ponies, only a really really big one with paws like dinner plates. And he's got like a ten foot vertical leap-- check out this picture with him catching a basketball. Seriously, the NBA ought to open the draft to other species-- the game would never be the same. He could totally dunk on Shaq if he had thumbs.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Three Ears of Pappy

One of the challenges of a dog with a face as furry as Pappy's is reading his mood and next move. Though the eyes may be the windows to the soul, that only works if you can actually see them-- which, in his case, you can't.

After living with him for a while, I've found that the best indicators of Pappy's intentions are his ears. You'd think that floppy ears wouldn't communicate much, but in his case they say plenty. When he is on high alert, the entire shape of his head changes as his ears go erect-- this is my cue to adjust my grip on the leash and get ready for his next move. At medium alert, his ears are just a little cocked and he's anticipating something. In Happy Pappy mode (which is also Sad Pappy mode) he's just so excited (or miserable) that his ears are totally flat against his head. The illustration below is intended as your guide to his thoughts in photos-- nine out of ten times he is at medium alert because he's bored with posing.

The Three Ears of Pappy