Thursday, May 31, 2007

Identifying a Pappy

By way of completing Nugget's tag to list eight things you might not know about us, I prepared the attached diagram to help you check whether your dog is a Pappy.

Eight Things About Pappy

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cooling Off

Pappy in the Tub, 2007-05-28Pappy spends so much time cooling off in the kiddie pool at the dog park, we decided to get him one for the back yard. We stopped by at the local hardware store to pick one up on the way home, but they were out of stock after a holiday run of sales. So I found an old utility tub in the basement, scrubbed it clean, and filled it with water.

Pappy was clearly interested, but couldn't quite work out how to make himself fit. After turning around about twenty times, he finally squeezed in. It reminded me of those shows where a yogi contorts himself to fit into a tiny plexiglass cube. In the evening we went for a cookout to some friends' house, and they gave us a leftover kiddie pool their children had outgrown. Pappy finally has his pool.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Greetings from N'awlins

Chi-wa-wa Ga-gaOver the Memorial Day weekend we took a quick trip to New Orleans to attend a wedding. After my sick-free winter, I managed to spend the unofficial first weekend of summer battling a head cold. We were only there for two days, but managed to divide our time nicely between visiting family, tourism, drinking Hurricanes in the courtyard at Pat O'Briens, and napping.

Chi-wa-wa Ga-gaWhile jaunting around the French Quarter, we came across an interesting boutique next to the French Market. Chi-wa-wa Ga-ga is the "small store for dinky dogs", jam-packed with accessories for your pocket pooch. They had minuscule t-shirts that said "Does this shirt make me look fat?" and "I hate Tinkerbell, that bitch has everything". Maybe I don't get out enough, but I thought they were funny...heh, heh.

2007-05-26-1014-03In the French Quarter there seems to be solidarity among the shopkeepers about recovering from hurricane Katrina, and it's hard to spot damage separate from the occasional decrepitude of a historic area. However our host took us on a drive through the lower 9th ward, and there are just blocks and blocks of ravaged, vacant houses with the signature spray paint markings of the rescuers.

At the wedding we met someone who has been spending the last two years clearing out abandoned cars from the roadways and wrecked boats from the harbors. Apart from the extraordinary volume of material, the complexity of the task has been magnified by the vagaries of property and environmental law. It took some time to grant the government the right to remove all of these hulks, getting heavy machinery to the sites is often a tricky negotiation, and fuel and hazardous materials have to be properly removed before the junk can be cut up and hauled away. This is gonna take a while.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Faithful Dog Hachiko

A popular tourist destination in Tokyo is the statue of faithful dog Hachiko outside of Shibuya Station. Hachiko was an Akita belonging to a professor at the University of Tokyo in the 1920s. Each evening the dog would go to the train station to greet the professor on the way home. Even after his owner died in 1925, Hachiko continued to go and wait at the train station each evening... for eleven more years. Hachiko was present at the dedication of the first statue back in 1934.

This is all very timely, because Variety says that Richard Gere is producing and starring in the movie "Hachiko: A Dog's Story". I'm as fond of dogs as the next guy, but I'm thinking the part of the movie covering the last eleven years might be a little slow.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Taggin' Tuesday

In a tag-team matchup, I was simultaneously tagged by Tierre (a.k.a. Ty-ree) to disclose seven things about myself, and Ferndoggle to find a celebrity lookalike for Pappy.

For Tierre's challenge, rather than resort to Pappy as the subject I will talk about myself for a change:

  1. I didn't know until yesterday that I was born during the Eisenhower presidency. I had blindly assumed I was a JFK baby, but he hadn't even been elected yet.

  2. I am decidedly monolingual, but can puzzle out menus in several languages. Especially when there are English subtitles.

  3. I went through school as an art major, and then figured out that I hated teaching and hadn't abandoned middle-class aspirations. I switched rails and became a computer geek-- there's an improvement.

  4. If you count seven continents, I've visited five. I'd still like to get to Australia, but Antarctica isn't high on my list of vacation destinations.

  5. Though I'm not pining for Antarctica, my favorite reading materials are harrowing tales of extreme deprivation like the Shackleton expedition and Scott's failed push for the South Pole. Makes my hard times at their worst seem pretty darned cushy.

  6. I was born in Washington, DC in a hospital that has been converted into condos. My childhood church from pre-heathen days was torn down for a new subdivision, and my high school building was sold. Property values are relentlessly erasing my past.

  7. My lovely wife and I have been married 14 years today. And blah blah couldn't be done, why yadda yadda yadda like yesterday.

As for Ferndoggle's challenge to find Pappy's celebrity lookalike, I would have to say the Swedish Chef from the Muppets if he was real (I hope I didn't burst anyone's bubble). From the realm of living beings I was tempted by Jack Elam's eyebrows, but picked Adrian Brody for the sensitive, vulnerable look and the schnoz.

Separated At Birth?

Since Frasier and Stella 'n Annie are new kids on the block, I'm going to tag them-- go forth, be fruitful, tag, and multiply.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bay Dog

2007-05-20-1515-13Last year when we brought Pappy to the dog beach at Quiet Waters State Park on the Chesapeake Bay (a.k.a. Dog Shangri-La), he had some curiosity about the water and ambled in up to his ankles. We went back today, and he was in up to his eyeballs. I couldn't get him to come out. He kept dropping the ball in a foot of water, as if I was going to join him for fetch.

The beach is pretty shallow, so I never saw him really swimming. But all the same I was most impressed with his water dogging. Afterwards we went with Pappy and Polly to Muddy Paws for coffee-- as I sat there, I kept mumbling to myself that it all could have been mine.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pappy Answers Your Search Term Questions

It's become the norm to list the odd search terms that brought people to your blog. At Pappy's blog, we are going to take it one step further by providing answers.

Q: dog snorting after going to dog park?
A: Oops. You grabbed the pig.

Q: creating a new pet to take care of on the computer?
A: Just keep her away from the vents atop the monitor. Very hot.

Q: what to do about a dog who is always licking the carpet and floors?
A: Smear peanut butter on the walls. Problem solved.

Q: why does dog pee in are other dog's bowl?
A: Phenomenal sense of humor there. Get away from my water glass.

Q: how long it takes a dog to have pappy's?
A: Sorry my friend, but after they made the Papmeister they broke the mold.

Q: can dogs smell weed through plastic?
A: Heh, heh, heh. Anything to eat 'round here?

Q: my dog ate a maxi pad, what do i do?
A: Ummm, feed him Mini-Wheats? [rimshot]

Q: smart bump sign of intelligence on dog's head?
A: More likely a sign that she runs into things.

Q: pappy and puppy is that cool or what!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?
A: Totally.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Scavenger Hunt

While my wife was away last weekend, Pappy and I tried something new. For some time our friend and irrepressible enthusiast, 3DogCache, has been extolling the virtues of geocaching as the perfect activity for owners and dogs. Typically it involves following a GPS receiver to some coordinates in search of a "cache", or hidden box placed there by some other geocacher.

It works something like this-- first you go into your desk drawer and locate a geegaw, such as your souvenir keychain from the trip to the Florida swamp country. Then go to the web site and pick a nearby cache location, load the coordinates into your GPS device, and follow it blindly into brick walls and off cliffs in a line towards your destination. Having arrived in the vicinity, look around until you spot a likely poison ivy patch. Wade straight in until you find a hollow tree containing a moldy tupperware container. Open the container, swap your geegaw for a plastic Happy Meal figurine from the cache, and sign the soggy log book for posterity. Repeat.

Pappy in the JungleIn placing a cache, I guess one has to be pretty wily so that non-geocachers don't mistake it for a pre-Columbian lunch box and carry it away. As a result, they aren't placed on the beaten path. For me, the biggest challenge wasn't figuring out where to go but rather how to get there. After our lovely walk through Rock Creek Park towards our cache, Pappy and I found ourselves standing on the shoulder of East-West Highway, cars whizzing by, staring at a solid wall of foliage between us and where the GPS was stubbornly telling us to go. We bushwhacked our way towards our coordinates, fighting off boa constrictors and man-eating plants, until we reached a glade next to a creek. Of course it was in plain sight of a little side road, but GPS devices are kind of dumb that way.

Given that we like to walk, we'll probably do some more geocaching. It's a good excuse to explore new places on a nice day.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pooch Tube

Based on Pappy's total inattention to the TV, I would have thought dogs just couldn't grok the 2D images. Clearly I was mistaken. And it looks like Westies and expensive flat panels just don't mix.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Sweet Smell of Sidewalks

2007-01-15-1537-06I'm sure it's no news to anyone that dogs smell better than humans. Well... sense of smell. They've got bazillions more chemoreceptors, fine cells topped with hairlike crowns, that inhabit little clefts in the nostril. Interestingly, smells don't really reach the chemoreceptors while breathing, only when the dog stops to sniff-- which explains why I am always waiting for Pappy. Not only is the basic nasal equipment souped up, but a big part of their brain, the olfactory bulb, is given over to processing these smells. We think dollars, but dogs think scents.

I don't know if it's the constant drizzle of aphid pee and caterpillar pellets this time of year, or the four atoms of peanut butter that floated down from a sandwich, but it's all I can do to keep Pappy moving on a walk. Yesterday Pappy was so enraptured by sniffing under under a weed that I got bored, put down his leash, walked about 100 feet, and looked back at him. Finally he stood up, startled, and gave me a look as if to say "how did you do that?"

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


PappyAt work, there has been so much pressure the last week I feel like I am being driven headfirst into the floor like a nail. Meanwhile, my wife is organizing a national event with a thousand tasks to manage.

For the both of us, coming home to someone who hasn't the least idea of what you are worried about, whose priorities are a pat, a treat, and a good walk, goes a long way to putting things in perspective.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Yo! Montgomery County Dog Park Users!

To: Denizens of Dog Exercise Areas in Montgomery County, Maryland
From: Pappy's Fella

Subject: Yip-yip-yahoo

This Thursday, May 10 the Montgomery County Park Planning Board is meeting and will review a proposal to expand the dog park program and incorporate them into all new park plans. They have collected a great deal of feedback regarding the three current pilot "Dog Exercise Areas" in the county, and seem to consider them a success. I know I do.

I find board meetings to be paralyzingly boring, but I'd be totally psyched to be there. In lieu of attending, I dropped an email to the Chairman of the Planning Board, Royce Hanson, expressing my support-- I hope it doesn't just get sent into a black hole. I am a little leery of the recommended three acre minimum size for new dog parks, since this could be a bit of an impediment to retrofitting them into the more densely populated areas around DC. Our puny little half acre dog park is okay by me, and I'd like to see a lot more of them.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Philosophical Discussions at the Dog Park

Bentley the KomondorThis morning at the dog park the discussion took an intellectual turn. We began to discuss pets and the crapper. This may be more than most of you really want to know, but when I am headed into the bathroom Pappy starts wagging his tail furiously. He loves to sit by and watch as we do our business. Why not? We watch him. And he's really fascinated by flushing. Another park regular reported that the full complement of dog and cats like to be in attendance for each such performance. Closing the door is not an option because of the ensuing ruckus from disgruntled fans.

2007-05-05-0827-00Meanwhile, the warm weather is on and you can't restrain Pappy from the wading pool. When he jumps out of the pool he leaves behind a stream of water around the dog park. You've heard of the Appalachian Trail, the Oregon Trail, the Scopes-Monkey Trail, and now the Pappy Trail.

Friday, May 04, 2007

I Been Robbed

I've written before of Quiet Waters State Park, the local Mecca for dog lovers. And I have commented on the injustice of not being able to bring Pappy to work. I was on the verge of an epiphany, when some guy just stole the idea I hadn't yet formulated.

I was reading an article in yesterday's Washington Post about a two-year old business called Muddy Paws in a shopping center by the gates of Quiet Waters. They combine self-service dog bathing facilities with a coffee bar where you can bring your pets. When you realize how stinky your dog is after a swim at the beach, you can take her over there and hose her down while drinking an iced latte.

One of the owners, Joe Mutlu, said "I just wanted to be able to take my dogs to work". Who does that sound like? That's right, me, me, me. And locating it outside of Quiet Waters, with the fantastic concentration of dog crazy owners dying to pamper their pets... that's the kind of sheer brilliance that ought to be my signature.

I like coffee, and I have to bathe my dog. If he hadn't jumped on the concept two years ago, it should have been mine. Prior art, shmior art.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Man, Walking Dogs is Hard Work

Our neighborhood dog walker has been off at a wedding, and we had to make other arrangements for a few days before and after last weekend. She has been so rock solid for more than a year that this is one of a handful of times I can remember having to make other arrangements. We're commuting or at work for the better part of eleven hours, so this is a pretty essential service for Pappy's well-being.

So yesterday I came home early to take Pappy for a walk with Molly, who patronizes the same walker. Both dogs are pretty good on leash, but can pull when the mood takes them. And neither of them is a weakling.

Since the day was beautiful, I took them out for a good two hour walk. I can handle either of them well alone, but you put the two of them together and notions of loose leash walking go out the window. Since fair weather walkers and riders are out in force on the trail this time of year, I was trying to keep the dogs on short leash to my right. I found it nigh-on impossible to keep the two dogs in perfect synch, and by halfway my right arm was getting the shakes from the workout. Our walker takes both of them out at the same time, and I'm amazed she doesn't have forearms like hams.

Kudos to you folks out there that can handle multiple dogs; it's no walk in the park. Well, yes it was, but... well, it wasn't a cakewalk.