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.