Monday, May 28, 2012

Dogs at Beach

Beverly (left) with smiling Amanda (right), Sandy Beach, Cohasset, MA, 2012

If there's a happier place on earth for dogs than a beach, I don't know what it is.  Doesn't matter where the beach is, so long as there's sand and kids.  It's the open space, the water, the joyful play with children, and above all else--the smells.

We've been taking our children and dogs to the beach for years.

Jean and Bulldog, Ocean City, New Jersey 2005

The beach is doggy Nirvana.  It's just so obvious.  The picture at the top of the page and the ones below are from Sandy Beach in Cohasset, MA.  Obviously there are beach rules and dogs are not welcome until later in the day, but it's worth the wait.  Two Golden Retrievers joined Beverly and kids before the sun went down.   And when the sun set, we reflected on what was the perfect day in the perfect place.

Jim & Heather Mensching with Jean Walsh, May 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Puppies That Nip & How to Fix It

Bear, Chocolate Labrador

I love puppies, but those cuties really do have sharp teeth.  I ran into Bear at the TV station and he was just going to town on his leash.  Then he substituted my hands for teething.  Bear was there with Jake the Vet who does a regular segment on New England Cable News.  Jake says the best way to discourage a puppy from biting is to use your thumb as a tongue depressor.  It works.

Samantha, Naples, FL

The same theory works for taking largemouth bass off hooks.  They don't have teeth, but they have some pretty pokey bristles around their mouths.  When you stick your thumb in their mouths and hold on tightly (see above), they just go limp.

Now I know some smarty pants is probably wondering if the same thing can be applied to the human species.  I'll only say this; if someone tries it on me, they're not getting their thumb back!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How to Name a Dog

The most popular dog name in our town is Lucy.  We know that because of license registrations.
A family at our daughters' school has a Lucy.  Here she is, although she's doubled in size since this photo was taken a few months ago.

Years ago dogs often had double names, like horses.  On top of that they had nicknames.  Below is a picture of Claudia and Fly Boy.

Claudia (top), Fly Boy (bottom)

Fly Boy was my dad's dog as a child.  He was already named when they got him.  Perhaps it had something to do with his prodigious jumping ability.  He could jump like a kangaroo or "fly", but only in one direction.  He could jump into his outdoor pen with ease, but impailed himself on efforts to jump out.  The ground was level on each side.  "Dumbest dog in the world," Dad says in Follow the Dog Home.

Dee Dee was my dad's first dog.  Dee Dee was short for Dimity Davis.  

Dee Dee (foreground), 1941

There was Frisky the Mongrel, who was better known as "Runner" because that's what he did--and usually away from home.  His speed was impressive.  So was his reading ability.  One day after a lengthy search, Dad's family found him sitting under a street sign that read Essex Avenue.  Right street, wrong town.  Runner was a couple of miles away from his true home on Essex Avenue in Montclair, NJ.

Susie and Family, 1988

Susan Marie--there's those two names again--was the family Golden Retriever.   My mom and dad had an arrangement.  She would get to name the boys, he could name the girls.  Mom and dad had three sons: Chris, Kevin and Michael.  Dad loved the name Susan Marie.  But with no girls to name, he named the dog after the daughter he never had.  We all called her Susie.

Left to right.  Kevin, Samantha, Bob holding Annie & Beverly

We are currently on our second German Shepherd.  The first was Tiffany, the second is Beverly (seen above).  We give our Shepherds girly girl names to take the edge off the reputation.  "You can't name a German Shepherd Tiffany," more than a few people have offered.  "You gotta give them a strong name like Duchess or Olga."

Uh, no we don't.

I bumped into a very cute Corgi the other day who was being walked by a young high school girl.  I like Corgis.  Their faces are as happy as a Bulldog's face is sad.  I asked the girl what the dog's name was.  She said, "Annie."  Just like my dad's Corgi, Annie, seen in the family photo above.

Annie the Corgi
Winnie the Bulldog
One final one.  Years ago I saw a high school boy walking an odd looking dog around a lake in Central California.  The dog looked like it could have been from outer space, or from Guam which is legendary for strays, or "boonie dogs."  The dog's name was Yigo, pronounced Gee'-go.  "How did you get that name?" I asked.

"Well my dad was in the Air Force and we lived in Guam.  Guam was the name of our village.  He's named after our village.  Nobody's ever heard of it."

Not true.  Not only did I know where Yigo was, I'd been there, having lived in Guam in the mid 1990s.  The dog's name sparked a much lengthier conversation after that.

Have a cool dog name story?  Share it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wait, Where? Dog Book at Hardware Store

I suppose it's interesting enough.  People were wondering why our book, Follow the Dog Home, was being sold at a hardware store, in addition to the usual places.  Good question.  Answer: it's different.  That answer is often followed by another question/statement combination.

"Who buys a book at a hardware store?  If I want a book I go to the book store."

Look, I get it.  But look at it this way.  You don't find Follow the Dog Home at Ace Hardware in Wellesley so much as it finds you.  You go to Ace, buy your lightbulbs and Scotts Lawn 4 Step Program, and while you're checking out you see the book next to the register.   It's an impulse buy, much like the caramels, batteries, gum and windshield sticker wiper-offer that it's sandwiched between.

Having a sign looking right back at you that explains the book is autographed and written by a local family sweetens the pot.  And it helps that RJ the Owner likes me and the book too.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Love Dogs, Hate Dogs

Beverly, Follow the Dog Home
I think it's fair to say that the overwhelming majority of people who read our book, our blog and our Facebook page love dogs.  But to think they all do is naive.  My experience in radio, television and published writing reminds me of that.  There will always be those who love to hate you, and what you care about.

Take Rush Limbaugh for instance.  It's commonly known that a good chunk of his radio audience listens to hate him even more than they do already.  It works for him and the ratings. 

We got a note the other day from a reader, who it's fair to say had issues with what we wrote about in Follow the Dog Home.

The angry reader pointed out that my dad's first dog, Dee Dee, who was poisoned by a spiteful neighbor more than 70 years ago, deserved her death for foraging in the man's trashcans.  What's more, the note called us "dog freaks", "inconsiderate self-centered morons" who don't care if our dogs poop and pee in other peoples' yards.  To sum it up, the writer said loose dogs are fair game for being poisoned, run over by cars, etc.  I find that disturbing.

Dee Dee (foreground), poisoned by a neighbor

Much has changed about attitudes toward dogs over the years.  My neighbor in Wellesley, MA, Pasquale, who's in his 70s or 80s, remembers the days "when dogs ran wild."  "There were no leash laws," he said in his Italian accented English.  People just dealt with it--for better, or worse, usually leaning toward tolerance-- much like they did when a neighborhood baseball game led to a broken window.

We've evolved.  Animals are now legally protected from cruelty and people are protected by leash laws.  By and large most dog owners I know strive to be good neighbors, raising obedient dogs and picking up after them if they soil another property.

But there will always be a few in the minority who just don't get the dog life that so many of us love.  A couple of years ago I was walking my German Shepherd, Tiffany,  in Ocean City, NJ.  She tinkled on the edge of the greenest grass I'd ever seen, just inches away from the sidewalk.  The homeowner unleashed a scolding dripping with disdain.  As rough as that was on the ears, it was certainly better than a poisoning.  And naturally, we were more careful the next time we walked by.

Tiffany, yellowed a green lawn