Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fair Weather Dog

Dateline: Maine

It was kind of sweet this morning when my wife went out kayaking. Pappy wandered out into the surf gazing after her, wandering farther and farther out. I called him back in and he ran up to the sea wall and just stared after her longingly, like a widow of the sea. Later when she was paddling back in I pointed her out to him, because my wife would have been charmed to see him pining away for her. Of course he just kept patrolling the beach like I was telling him to find his ball, even as she landed. He's brilliant, just not terribly cooperative.

Pappy Watching The Sea

Monday, July 28, 2008

King of the Sea

After a grueling fourteen hour drive to Maine in rain that was also driving, Pappy was more than thrilled to arrive on our vacation. He seemed to recall the house from last year, and immediately started tearing around the yard and the beach like it was all yesterday. He went down to the beach, ambled into the water and immediately took a leak, laying claim to the entire Atlantic Ocean and everything in it. As much as it embarasses me to say this, bow down all you beach-goers.

King of the Sea

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sad Times

I got word today that a friend's Chocolate Lab, Ellie, passed away after an unexpected illness. When Ellie and Pappy got together, they were like ball-obsessed, pizzle-chewing bookends-- if you could find bookends that didn't look remotely similar. And this sad news comes just after hearing that our oldest dog park pal, Jojo, has been diagnosed with lung cancer.

We bring dogs into our families knowing that we're likely to see them race through their too-short lives, but still we're never quite prepared for the reality. Hold your dogs tight tonight. I know I will.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


PoolIt's funny to watch owners at the dog park regarding the wading pool. There are the owners like me who are resigned that their active dogs need a cooldown to keep going in the heat. Then there are the poor schmucks with their beautifully groomed or thick coated dogs who are dying to dump the water out of the pool to keep from having to deal with ruined car seat covers and pets that end up looking like... well... Pappy. Rather than incur the approbation of the rest of us, they spend their whole visit to the dog park policing the pool and yelling at their dogs to get away.

And the wading pool is disgusting. Inevitably some owner starts his visit by dumping out all the muddy water and refilling it with fresh clean water. That lasts for about five minutes. Jack: Pre-PeeMaking the water all the more disgusting are dogs like Jack. On Sunday, Jack started his visit by racing over to the wading pool and arcing a stream of pee into it so that he can pwn all dogs who follow. Somebody refilled the pool, and a few minutes later Jack ambled by, lapped a sip of water out of it, and then re-peeded his previous effort-- I caught a shot of him as he was revving up to the big event. I don't mind. Pappy is pretty filthy all the time, and my philosophy is that he deposits more dirt than he takes with him.

Wet Dog

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dog Park Death March

Pappy Death MarchI'm getting old and I don't love visiting the doctor. My inclination is to ignore aches and pains as long as they seem like they might be getting better or at least aren't getting worse. Then I noticed a swelling on my Achilles Tendon last weekend, and that triggered my other response-- total hypochondria. I was suddenly convinced they would have to amputate my lower leg. On Tuesday the Doc pronounced sentence: "Achilles Tendonosis; no running for three to six months." Then he asked me questions about my routes because he wanted to start running along the Potomac, the $%*#tard.

I'm not totally bummed, because I had lost a lot of discipline over the past couple of years. I've been eating poorly and forgoing other exercise using the excuse "yes, but I run." So now I have to start exploring other activities-- the Doc has approved biking and walking.

So this weekend I came up with a great idea. My wife could drop me off at the dog park with Pappy, and then leave us to walk home. Seven and a half miles down Sligo Creek Trail after Pappy finishes with his ball chasing seemed like a good idea to me. Saturday it went very well. The weather was comfortable and Pappy seemed a happy camper the whole way home with occasional water stops. Today, Sunday, the same drill was fine up to the last two miles. Air of ComfortMy wife had walked out from the house to meet us, and Pappy was taking longer and longer breaks in the shade to examine some bit of greenery a little more closely. Finally I had to break out the ultimate incentive; I bounced his ball a few times to get his juices flowing, and hosed him down with ice water from my Camelback. Now we're home and he's happily vegging next to the air conditioning vent-- bliss.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Pumping Up

Charles Atlas Ad
One of the lessons I learned from the Charles Atlas ads in comic books is that skinny pukes get pushed around. This is a sad fact that Pappy has discovered over the years. While they were closer in size when Pappy first met Jack at the dog park, Jack now has a solid 30 pound advantage on the Papster. These days when they wrangle Pappy starts with a lot of lunging and juking around in flashing terrier style, but eventually Jack just steamrolls him. Then Pappy tends to focus on ball fetching instead.

Jack HomonculousBut over the past couple of weekends a dog has been coming to the park who has revived Pappy's passion for wrestling. This dog is the very image of Jack as a puppy, and is oft referred to as Jack's Mini-Me. Pappy can't restrain himself from knocking this pup down over and over again, and the pup keeps coming back for more. I have the sense that Pappy's getting a little payback.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Poo It Forward

When Pappy and I go to the dog park, I only spot him pooing every third or fourth visit. My underlying assumption in this isn't that he has extraordinary bowel endurance, but rather that I simply missed the moment of truth. Feeling that I have incurred a pretty heavy karmic debt from this neglect, I try to regularly go on poo patrol at the bottom of the dog park to pick up the miscellaneous cold stray turds lurking around the remote grassy section.

That being said, I hope that the off-leash walkers of the world register on one key message. It's awfully hard to ignore a dog taking a crap when he's on leash-- it's not impossible, but I think it's a bit harder to make that conscious decision to leave a mound in the middle of the path. When I see a mound lying there, I generally assume that in a disproportionate number of cases that was the doo-doing of an off-leash dog out of immediate sight of the walker. So, thinking about your karmic debt when you are walking a dog off-leash, be sure to pick up a few random dog-pies to fill in your quota.