Saturday, June 30, 2007

It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair...

100KWe hit 14,000 all-time visitors on Pappy's Blog this week. However this suffers by comparison to Pappy's movies on Youtube, which simultaneously hit 100,000 views. For this inexplicable feat I must owe a debt of gratitude to the bazillions of cutesy-bashing preteens watching the "Teletubbies Meet Pappy" video over and over, accounting for three-quarters of that total.

I deserve no sympathy, but I can't help but feel a little maudlin. The movies are fun and all, but the blog is where I put my heart and soul. Maybe I need to copy the Technorati top searches into my blog labels each day. That's right all of you Noelia and iPhone fans, this is da real shizzizzle!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Somebody Ate This Tomato

Who ate this tomato?I found this partially eaten garden tomato (Quayle spelling: tomatoe) in the back yard this morning. I'm not making any accusations here, but the usual culprits, crows, normally leave punctures rather than neatly chomped edges. And the bites look bigger than a racoon's mouth, so it must have been a biggish animal... hmm.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Romney's Dog

There are some rumblings around the Internet concerning an article about Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the Boston Globe. In a 1983 trip to Lake Huron, because the car was crowded he decided to put the family dog in a crate on the roof rack. While underway, the kids announced when the dog had an attack of diarrhea. Romney just stopped at a gas station, hosed off the dog and car, brushed his hands together, and got back underway. Problem solved.

Various blogs and editorials have latched onto this as a hot button political issue and an indictment of Romney's management style and Mormon faith. I doubt I share many views with Romney, but come on.

It gives me the willies that he put the dog on the roof, and then put him right back after the assplosion. And, though the physical risks and exposure probably aren't that different from putting a dog in a pickup bed, it's particularly troubling because of all the thought he put into placing the crate on the roof and setting up a little windscreen-- he had plenty of opportunities to consider what ifs. I keep having flashbacks to when I was a puzzled kid looking out the rear window at our luggage scattered all over the highway after the roof rack had fallen off our car.

But in 1983 how many doggy safety belts were available? How many dogs ran loose around busy suburban neighborhoods? It was a different time and a more complacent attitude about pets. And even today, Romney's vision of the pet as a glorified piece of furniture is pretty pervasive-- most of us pet bloggers happen to be at the other end of that bell curve. Rather than beat up Romney as a candidate, I'd rather people consider this in the context of their own lesser lapses and move a little towards my end of the curve.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pappy's Origin Story

Fritz's Adoption Photo, February 2006After working on yesterday's posting about fostering dogs, I looked back through my mail folder and found these. They are the emails we exchanged with our volunteer rescue group, WeCare4Paws, about "Fritz"-- who went on to become our Pappy. This is probably pretty boring for anybody else, but I still get a little thrill thinking back on this exchange.

    From: Me
    Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2006 3:10 PM
    To: V
    Subject: Adoption of Fritz

    We are interested in the terrier named Fritz in Petfinder. We would love to know how to get more information about him and whether it is possible to visit.

    How should we proceed?



    From: V
    Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 11:23 AM
    To: Me
    Subject: FW: Adoption of Fritz

    Hi Me,

    Thanks for expressing an interest in adopting one of our rescue dogs. My name is V, President, We CARE-4-Paws. We are partnered with Last Chance Animal Rescue (LCAR) who rescues most of our furry friends and is responsible for their health and welfare, to include ensuring our cats are safely delivery to PETsMART Charities Adoption Centers from Maryland to Northern Virginia as well as our dogs that are cared for in one of our awesome foster homes.

    We encourage you to visit our websites and which provides information about our two awesome groups who have partnered to form a powerhouse to help our furry friends. Together we are making a real difference!

    As for Fritz, he is a long legged Benji. He is sweet as can be, energetic, not a mean bone in his body. He is about a year old, crate trained.

    Fritz is in one of our foster homes, but an appointment can be scheduled for viewing and adoption at:

    PETsMART Charities Adoption Center
    24 Mountain Rd
    Glen Burnie, Maryland 21061

    Please let us know if you have any other question or would like to schedule an appointment.

    Thanks for considering to adopt a rescued dog.


    From: Me
    Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 1:26 PM
    To: V
    Subject: Re: FW: Adoption of Fritz

    If there is any possibility of meeting Fritz this weekend, we'd be delighted to make the trip. Is the foster family available for something on that short notice?



    From: V
    Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 2:25 PM
    To: Me
    Subject: Re: FW: Adoption of Fritz

    How's Saturday look for you?

    From: Me
    Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 3:09 PM
    To: V
    Subject: RE: FW: Adoption of Fritz

    Anytime Saturday would be great. We're up early, and could be out there by 10AM if that suits the fosters.



    From: V
    Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 6:57 PM
    To: Me
    Subject: RE: FW: Adoption of Fritz

    We will meet you at (10:00 a.m.) PETsMART Mountain Rd just inside the entrance on the left side by the groomers.

    Fritz is anxious to meet you both...he even asked us to give him a bath! We think you will like him as much as we do...he loves to play and we have not even heard him bark, not even once!


Funny how he never asks us to give him a bath. The rest, as they say, is history.

Monday, June 25, 2007


My Foster Dog is an awfully sweet story from the Best of Craigslist. It makes me think of the many volunteers who efforts went into rescuing Pappy; those we met and those we didn't. For fellow dog loons it is well worth the read.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


After Pappy hops out of his wading pool, I can't help but break into a chorus of Skinny Legs by Lyle Lovett.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Gra-ju-ay-shun Day

Graduation Day, Intermediate Training, 2007-06-23Pappy and I ran into Louise's owner at the dog park this morning, and she said her intermediate class at Petsmart was graduating today. Argh. I had forgotten that my intermediate class was supposed to be graduating tomorrow, and I made plans to go to my father's for brunch. I decided I needed to have a proactive makeup class by attending Louise's graduation instead.

Kat, the instructor for both dog training classes (irony noted), is pretty relaxed about hopping between classes and I had done a makeup class before. Strangely, Louise never showed up. I don't even think I'm being particularly biased when I say that Pappy breezed past the other dogs in all the tests. He is brilliant of course, and calmer than average, but mostly he just likes food. Perhaps you guessed from the penetrating gaze in his graduation photo that a treat was involved.

Kat was encouraging all of us to continue training towards the Canine Good Citizenship Test, which is offered by our dog park. Pappy could blow through the tests, except that you can't use treats. What the heck are they thinking? Pappy's first commandment is "will work for food".

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Full Recovery

Pappy seems much improved today after his crazed antics earlier in the week. He's a little amped, but is willing to go into the kitchen and seems on the road to mental health. It's a relief, because all of his lurking about in the dark was creeping me out. Maybe now my nightmares will stop.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Back To Business

Well, I got home to Pappy tonight after our ten-day absence-- my wife unexpectedly had to stay on in Austin. Our housesitting vacationing visitors were quite thoughtful and wonderful by all measures, and left us a lovely note extolling the virtues of Pappy. They grew quite attached.

On my return I find a few squirrely things about Pappy. Of course he seems a little anxious, which is to be expected. But there's more. Mere hours after we left, before the housesitters even arrived, he chewed up gloves and a hairbrush-- he hasn't chewed anything inappropriate for a year. Well, except the sprinkler, but that's in the back yard where everything plastic is for him.

And he seemed to be afraid of the kitchen. This isn't too weird, because in the past he has been a little leery of the slippery floor. But it hasn't been this extreme; when I first got home he stood outside crying and wouldn't come in to eat his dinner. Now he's standing outside the bedroom door, just staring into the room without going in to lie down.

Unfortunately I have to head out again for a two-day conference after a day home, and my wife is out of the picture. So I have to call in the other housesitter. Poor Pappy's getting put through the wringer with all the different faces. The pet psychologist bills we're going to have!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Old Hot Dogs

Buddy at the LakeIn my travels around Texas I've had a chance to catch up with Buddy in Austin and Fred in Dallas. Buddy (pictured) is my (soon to be wed) sister-in-law's eight-year-old mystery mutt, and Uncle Fred is my mother-in-law's twelve-year-old poodly mutt.

The weather in Texas has taken the turn towards ungodly hot, and this doesn't mix well with older dogs. Buddy has been quite a little athlete in his day, and I tried to take him out on a run on an early morning. He started strong, but petered out to an ambling trot with frequent sniff breaks. The next morning at the lake I tried to run him off-leash, but he started out at the ambling trot, and then would stop each time I looked back. He was hoping it was time to turn around, so we did.

With Fred in Dallas, I was just taking him for a walk on a hot day. He was thrilled at the prospect. The spirit was willing, but the flesh had a tough time of it. His tongue was almost dragging on the ground, but he wouldn't drink anything. When we got home, he took a long nap on the cool floor.

I guess I should take a run in a fur coat to get some idea of what it's like.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tribulations in Texas

P1060490We've had a pleasant trip to Texas so far this week. I had a misadventure pretty early on. When we were visiting a friend's lake house on Lake LBJ, I was bitten by his dog. It certainly wasn't an attack, and the puncture wounds were pretty minor as these things go. But the situation gave me a lot of uneasy thoughts.

First off, it dispelled any illusions I had about being a beastmaster. In the time since we got Pappy I felt I had a handle on how to approach dogs, and had the calm and confidence to which dogs respond. Evidentally not so. I greeted the dog in the house, let him sniff me, and he gave every appearance of having no issue with me. A little later he bit me after he got agitated when some people were out on the deck, and he seemed to continue targeting me afterwards. Despite conventional wisdom, I spend a lot of time at the dog park helping to break up minor disputes between dogs and even ventured to break up one between different dogs that day at the lake house. But suddenly I'm not feeling so invincible

The second thing that runs through my mind is the question of how much I really trust Pappy. Around the house I always assume he is absolutely no threat, and would do little to restrain him from guests. The dog that bit me was a well-socialized pet that meets new people at the lake house constantly. When first rescued he was a fearful dog, but seemed to have overcome this over the years and was no problem with any of the other people with us last weekend. The main change the owner was concerned about was the addition of a foster dog to the household, and whether this somehow triggered the situation.

This dog barely even tried to hurt me, and withdrew immediately after the bite. It gives me the willies to think what happens when a dog is trying to hurt you. And does Pappy have a trigger? It doesn't seem like it, but how would I know?

Friday, June 08, 2007

All of The Doggy, None of The Doo

Recently I have been reading about a rent-a-dog service for busy professionals with lots of disposable income called FlexPetz. You too can borrow a dog for an afternoon to pick up chicks at the park or give your kids the illusion that they are ready to care for a pet. In an attempt to lift the miasma of crass commercialism from the enterprise, they emphasize that these dogs are mostly rescues. And can you guess the first locations? That's right, California followed by NYC later this month.

I've come across reactions ranging from livid indignation to tongue-in-cheek curiosity. Being profoundly jaded myself, FlexPetz just elicits an eye roll and the hope and expectation that the service remains small, fails quickly, and finds good permanent homes for the dogz.

Meanwhile, this coming week we are abandoning Pappy again to traipse off to yet-another-wedding (YAW). We have new housesitters in the form of our dog walker's visiting parents. But, heck, Pappy would be probably be as happy to have a limo come by and carry him off to a new renter each day. We should probably sign him up with FlexPetz-- as long as he gets to bring his ball for a little fetch action.

P.S. Get your leashes ready, June 22 is Take Your Dog to Work Day. So sayeth the governing elite at Pet Sitters International. (Thanks Chocolate Dog.)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

In Training

2007-05-20-1131-01Pappy, my wife, and I have been taking the Petsmart intermediate training class for more than a month. To my eternal shame, we rarely practice at home and we're going to miss a class towards the end of the session. Despite this, in my unbiased opinion, Pappy is clearly the class star. He completes all of the exercises like a champ, rarely needing a mulligan.

One of the the few times we did practice at home, I used bits of leftover steak for treats. Man, it was like his IQ went up by a factor of three. I had him doing 'standing waits' while I sauntered the length of the yard, his tail gyrating like a propeller. As soon as I released, his paws never even touched the ground.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Where Are The Happy Dogs?

SmileNot that I spend much time thinking about pects and washboard abs, but in surfing the net I came across an interesting item from the Men's Health site. According to their research, these are the rankings of various cities where dogs are happiest. They base their rankings on fairly easily collected data, such as the ratios of dog owners, and per capita numbers of dog parks, stores, vets, kennels, and shelters. The big overall winner was Colorado Springs, Colorado.

My results were a little puzzling. Of the 46 cities listed on their map, Washington, DC came in 49th. Ouch.

P.S. In the Washington Post this week there was an article on an experiment concluding that dogs are capable of adapting imitated behaviors based on their own assumptions. Kinda hard to explain, so you might just have to read up to know why your dog is every bit as smart as a kid.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Labor of Love

Having seen the attention and devotion that Pappy and other dogs lavish on their stuffed toys, I thought a tribute was fitting. Here's a new perspective of this undying passion.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Growing Your Dog Blog

I came across this blog article concerning how to best promote your niche blog. It really struck me how this maps to my blog and dog blogs in general. It may elicit some "that's obvious" or "I'm already doing that" moments, but the article does an astute job of summarizing the sociology of blogging and a strategy for success. They come at it from the angle of popularizing a blog to make money, but I think it is equally relevant if you aren't profit driven.

A big point they make is the importance of continually participating in your niche community, and keeping up with your peers' blogs. I definitely see big changes on my site's activity based on whether I am "putting myself out there" with other blogs, but that's tough for me to sustain. Being a hermit, it's hard for me not to veer off into my own little world.

Friday, June 01, 2007


2007-05-31-0756-00I mentioned a few days ago that some friends gave us a hand-me-down wading pool for Pappy's enjoyment. What I didn't mention is that it was the super jumbo model, as big as our patio table. Seriously, he could do laps in this thing. Think Mark Spitz... Greg Louganis for crying out loud. We're going to be breeding squadrons of mosquitos in this baby.

We put away the diving board attachment. That was just ostentatious.