Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Meet Garland

Here's a big shout out to Garland, a lurker who asked us to "throw me a bone" in the blog. Garland, you don't have a dog. If you want bones, get a dog. However you have gotten a mention by name in the blog, so you're doing better than my wife or me. Nice tool belt.

Apologies to my doggy readers. Now we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Our long-time blogging friend, Oscar the Airedale from Swindon, UK, passed away unexpectedly this weekend. Judging from his exploits, he had a great life. We'll miss you buddy.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Seeking Help

Island of Terror in a Slippery Sea
Since we were gone for a second ten day stretch, Pappy once again bought his one way ticket to the funny farm. As with last time, he has cultivated a phobia about crossing our slippery kitchen floor, and isn't willing to approach his food bowl lest he skid. Great, anorexia to boot. My last strategy of putting down a throw rug has hit the obstacle of my wife's vetoing the dusty old thing. She's been trying to use these adorable little dot rugs, but they always seem to be in the wrong place to alleviate his anxiety attacks.

In studying up on how to mend Pappy's fractured psyche, I googled "dog therapy". Of course all I got was all the wonderful articles about how fantastic pets are in assisting with human therapy. Bah! My dog is crying for help here. I tried "dog psychologist", but everything was about Cesar Millan. Not that I don't find him interesting, but is there anyone who seriously believes he isn't just making all that stuff up? "Blah, blah, you must walk your dog at least three hours before allowing him to enter a new home to acquaint him with the territory blah blah." What if I walk him for two and a half hours or let him in the house first? Will he never adjust? Can I see his data on that? He has his points, but the endless stream of authoritative pronouncements and pseudo-science keeps my eyes rolling.

If you dig around you can find a couple of niche pet therapists, but some of their sites are just plain creepy. With some of the more credible articles, it turns out that there notion of pet therapy is just training to get dogs to stop barking and peeing. I need a shrink to get into Pappy's head and peel away the layers of the onion. He needs some serious couch-work.

Psychiatrist's Couch

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Welcome Home

2007-07-26-1620-01Well, we arrived home today, stopping to pick up Pappy before heading to the house. He had a pretty posh setup with our friends, what with kids drooling all over him and sleeping with him every night, but he at least feigned some enthusiasm about my appearance.

2007-07-26-1610-01When our neighbor later dropped off our mail, there was a special package in it for Pappy from Jackson. It was his prize for winning the World Moustache and Beard Championship for Dogs. There was an amazing Tuffy's octopus-- Pappy will eventually see the inside of this beast, but it should take a long time. In addition there were some delightful cookies-- they are just beautiful, but they do have a faint aftertaste of liver. Oh, they were for him? Seriously, I gave one to Pappy and he's been crying over it for a half-hour.

Thanks enormously to Jackson for his generous prize.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Workin' My Way Back To You

Well, our time is Texas is at an end and we are heading home to Pappy tomorrow. Time for a road trip-- 1,400 miles from Dallas to DC. We should be reunited with our pooch by late Thursday. The friends we left him with say he's been wonderful, but, as predicted, he's gotten a little freaky about the uncarpeted steps and has to be carried down to their lower level. I've already budgeted for another couple of years of therapy.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Uncle FredToday we went to lunch at the home of my late mother in law's friend in Dallas, who is going to be taking in Fred, my mother in law's dog. We brought along his stuff and moved him in a few days before we are leaving so that he had a chance to settle in and to make sure there were no unexpected issues.

As we left Fred and were saying our goodbyes to our host, I was worried that my wife would crack since Fred was such a part of our visits to her mother in Dallas and a channel to a lot of memories. Nope, it was me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Fred PeeringI received word this weekend that my wife's mother, for whom my wife has been caring, had taken a turn for the worst. I changed a reservation, dropped Pappy with some friends, and came down to Dallas yesterday. By the time I arrived she had passed away. She was a smart, enthusiastic, classy person, and that's about as much probing as I want to do in the blog.

Since I got here one of the notable presences has been Fred, her poodly mutt. More than any other single reason, Fred is why we have Pappy. He has always been my sidekick on visits to Texas, and he is why I gave serious consideration to overcoming obstacles and reservations in getting a pet. He is not just a good dog, he is a great dog. Even my mother in law had trouble pinning down how old he is, but the best guess is about 14 years-- as long as I've been married. He's still pretty spritely for an old guy, but he is slowing down.

A dear friend of my mother in law is looking forward to taking Fred in. She lives alone, and I think both of them would benefit from the attention and activity of each other's company. We took him this morning to get him groomed, and he was fluffy and sparkling white this afternoon when she came by for a visit.

The weird thing for me is, when this trip is over when will I be back to Dallas? Am I ever going to see Fred again? My wife and I have talked about taking Fred, and I am still torn. He's always been an only dog, Pappy and he have never met, and we are gone much of the work day. I've always told myself that in a few years I will retire and Pappy will get more time and attention, but Fred doesn't have a few years. He has done a good job caring for my mother in law, and a full-time companion looking after him would be a wonderful retirement.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Pappy has this particluar weird thing he does (among the many). Sligo Creek has mysterious patches of sand scattered next to the path. On walks, Pappy gets absorbed sniffing around the sand. Then, like clockwork, he'll suddenly get startled, race off taking my arm with him, and stop and glance back at the sand. This isn't occasional, I'm talking every time.

For a while I was thinking that I must be inadvertently kicking sand on the back of his legs causing a freaky sensation, but recently I've noticed I am standing on clean pavement when he does this. It makes me think of the time I was hiking in the desert north of Tucson and noticed an interesting pattern next to the path, and then did a record long jump when my brain realized it was a rattlesnake. There must be something creepy lurking under those patches of sand. Giant trapdoor spiders perhaps.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Far in the Future

We were tagged by Oscar to think of five things to put into Pappy's time capsule for the benefit of the denizens of the distant future. I spent some time with Pappy considering the question. After extensive consultation, this is what we came up with:

  1. A complete set of destuffed toys. Pappy is done with them.
  2. There was a pile of something smelly on this morning's walk, and it was very interesting. The capsule should have some of that, whatever it was.
  3. Pappy is very fond of our back yard-- just how big is this capsule?
  4. Certainly there should be plenty of balls. We must preserve the paraphernalia of fetching for posterity.
  5. The remaining space should be filled with squirrels, which Pappy finds captivating. What a wonderful surprise for the folks opening the capsule.

As for passing along the tag to new people, I pick Stanley, the Fleas Gang, and 3DogCache. Apologies if I am giving anyone tag fatigue-- this time of year it's tough to find peeps that aren't just coming off a tag.

Time Capsule

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Baching It, Continued

Pappy's First Day, 2006-02-25"So", you might ask, "how has Pappy's behavior changed since your wife has been away?" When she was home he showed a tendency to sleep in the narrow gap next to my side of the bed, making my midnight bathroom breaks an adventure in stumbling. Since she left he often lies on the carpet on her side of the bed. When she was home, he would enthusiastically come into the kitchen to get his morning carrot before we headed out the door to work. Now that she's away, he eyes me suspiciously as I am getting ready to go, and pays little attention to his carrot. Change messes with a dog's head, and it's mighty sad.

Meanwhile I am now revising my calendar of unlucky days to include Thursday the 12th. After being unable to get back to sleep at 3:30AM this morning, I stepped into the shower and the hot water wasn't working. After racing into the basement, I was relieved to see that there wasn't a river of water running from the hot water heater (this happened to my wife while I was traveling when we first got the house). After a bracing shower, I went to iron a shirt and the iron started throwing off sparks. As a result, I'm a bit rumpled today.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Great Arnold's Ghost

WendyThose of you who frequent my blog have every reason to suspect I doctored this photograph of a whippet. Hey, I've done it before. But in fact this is a real live whippet-- yes, the wirey little guys.

On my word of honor, Wendy is the real deal according to the Times Colonist. It seems that the protein myostatin limits muscular development in humans and a variety of animals, and Wendy basically has none. Zippo. A less severe form of her genetic mutation, where the dogs produce very limited amounts of myostatin, is relatively common among the top-performing racing whippets.

It's a relief that Pappy has plenty of myostatin. I don't need him kicking sand in my face and demanding treats.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Since my wife headed down to Texas for an extended stay, I've been faced with relearning a number of things that people who live alone don't even think about. The one I find most troubling is remembering stuff-- remembering to lock the door, remembering to switch off the iron, remembering to turn off the coffee maker, remembering to turn off the oven and burners on the stove. My wife always catches me, and I've come to depend on that safety net. The worst thing is that I'm too forgetful to develop the neurosis that would have me triple checking this stuff. Seriously, this is going to send me home from work in the middle of the day in a panic.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Linkin' bLogs

After an exchange with Johann and Abby on the Bone Zone, it occurs to me that this is a good time to get my blog roll in order. And I'm too poorly organized to figure out whether I have reciprocal links to all you folks out there in blogland.

Please leave a comment if you are missing from my link list, and let me know the correct address. I'll turn on anonymous comments to enable all you Wordpress and Typepad folk to leave a message, and will fend off comment spammers by hand until I get fed up with them again.

Wait for the tone...beep!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Entering the Star-Maker Machinery

This is one of those defining moments. Friday Pappy joined Minou among elite dog thespians, and hopefully will earn a TV credit.

A while back my wife heard about a casting call for the National Geographic Channel. They were looking for dogs and owners to participate in a local shoot for a program called "Dog Genius". I emailed a photo, and the producer started drooling over Pappy's untapped marketing potential. As it turns out, they weren't casting Pappy in the title role-- the show is about the intelligence of all dogs in problem solving and reading human expression, not a specific dog's genius. They scheduled us for an appointment at a studio in DC's Chinatown.

We went in through the loading dock, and joined a number of dogs in a waiting area. True to form, Pappy pounced on a Husky and started wrasslin'. So much for dignity. Eventually we were led back into a big all-white studio. To be frank, Pappy probably did way better than me. He was rock solid on his sit-stay so that they could get all their shots in. They also took a lot of shots of his spectacular tail wagging. That's my favorite feature.

Then they asked me to sit in front of the camera and make a variety of expressions-- I'm pretty sure that's all going to end on the cutting room floor, as I kept cracking up. For our action shot, I took a high risk path of having Pappy play with his ball. That was probably impossible to film, but it could be pretty snappy if it came out.

In the end we were compensated with a National Geographic TV baseball hat and paid parking. It was well worth the effort for our 15 minutes of fame. I think they said that the show would air sometime in December, so if you see a skinny balding guy and a dog with messy hair that's us. Trust me, I'll remind you.

Pappy's Blog Interview

Like many of the pet bloggers out there, I received an invitation to submit an interview at the Bloginterviewer.com site. If you have a vote left in you, go out and rank all your favorite dog blogging sites.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Baching It

Well, starting this weekend Pappy and I will be two wild and crazy bachelors. My wife is headed south for a while to help out her mother, leaving us boys with a freezer full of casseroles. I had a sampling of what it's like to run the entire household operation solo a couple of weeks ago, and that was really the first time I've had to do it since we got a dog. Whew, the morning drill is a handful (shower, dress, make coffee, pack lunch, fill Kongs, eat breakfast, feed and walk dog, watch and read news...)

She may have a fairly lengthy stay, so Pappy and I are going to have to come up with some activities and getaways to pry us out of the house while our social director is away. I'm thinking I may line up a weekly walk on a new trail, maybe look around for some dog related activities. If I'm not careful, I may be reduced to growls and barks by the time wifey returns.

By the way, Jackson's World Beard and Moustache Championship for Dogs is over, and Pappy eked out a win by a nose against a strong field. Thanks to everyone who voted. Joe definitely needs to get himself that cookieduster.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Pappy at the July 4th Parade, Takoma Park, 2007-07-04Happy July 4th, all youse folks in the US of A. You'd think, living as we do on the cusp of our nation's capitol, that we'd be headed into DC to take advantage of the Folk Life Festival, concerts, and fireworks on the Mall. Nosiree, I'm not headed into that mad house. We live in the wee town of Takoma Park where we have our own slate of activities.

We took Pappy this morning to his first parade. Living in an alt-dot-odd city, the parade had it's peculiarities, to wit:

  • To give you a better idea of the magnitude of floats in our parade, we aren't talking Mardi Gras by a longshot.
  • A women's tackle football team came by handing out football cards-- I got a 4 foot 11 inch 145 pound inside linebacker's card.
  • We had not one, but two steel drum bands-- we're a pretty diverse community.
  • The belly dancer float was followed by the Afro-Asian Kung Fu club.
  • The Morris dancers were replaced by a Revelers choral group, but it looks like the same bunch of people.
  • The nearby college's gymnastics club came flying by.
  • For some reason this dump truck full of kids went driving past-- I'm not sure I entirely understand that message.
  • These guys in great costumes come by each year.
  • We had a local dog training group in the parade.
  • And, being a progressive community, we had Low Wattage Bulb Man, assorted peaceniks, the School for Gifted Fish, and folks on stilts dressed for the rising waters of global warming.
  • Pappy was fascinated by most of it, but he did not like the marching drums.

Next, we have the block party where they block off our street, have a kid's parade, and everybody sets up grills. Finally the evening ends with fireworks at the local middle school. That's better than some stinking National Symphony Orchestra and firework display over the Potomac River, innit?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Our Hero

After being tagged by Lee of This Other Eden to come up with seven things about Pappy, I wanted to devise a way to avoid repeating myself... too much. So here is Pappy through my rose-colored lenses.

Since this tag has been making the rounds, I am going to take a novel approach to passing it along. A lot of bloggers have been hit already, but if you would like to be tagged just let me know in the comments-- then I'll getcha.

Our Hero, Pappy

Monday, July 02, 2007


In honor of the World Beard and Moustache Championships, Jackson is currently running a contest allowing dogs to face off over facial hair. Go out to Jackson's blog and vote for the dog with the most wonderful whiskers. We broke out the wax, and Pappy is in the running.

Just to remind you, you know how Pappy hates to lose.

Pappy's Moustache