Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dog Shirts-- No Phone-- Instant Gratification

I haven't written this blog for nearly a month. In that time I've been to Hawaii, spent a week without home phone service, and put a shirt on my dog. To show how clever I am, I will tie this all together in a neat little knot by the end.

Almost no one gets good cell phone reception at my house. So a week ago today my home phone went dead. I was virtually stuck without a phone. AT&T, who we called immediately upon learning that we had no phone, told us we would have our service back by Saturday. On Saturday, we were told that Tuesday we would get service. On Tuesday, when the phone didn't work, we were assured that the problem was in our lines and not their problem. I had to go outside and open up the box and check it out. Finally, on Wednesday, a great technician came out before 8:30 in the morning, and worked past 5:00 p.m. fixing AT&T's lines that were messed up.

I have no expectation that anyone at AT&T short of the tech who came by really gives a damn that they gave me the run-around. Still, I will probably waste my time writing a nasty note.

While I was in Hawaii my daughter Kirsten,stayed in California with her husband, Anika my granddaughter, and her dog, my dog, and my other daughter's dog. During that time she bought my female dog, Lulu, a shirt.
The shirt says "Got Treats?" It's pretty cute but I never thought my dog would allow us to put a shirt on her. Well I guess she's cold. She comes right over to me and allows me to put the shirt on without embarassment. Now that is instant gratification. Making your dog look silly or cute is fun. Instantly.

We live in a society that doesn't want to wait. That's what makes dealing with phone companies, computer techs on the phone, and lines at Disneyland such a drag. The corporate world could care less about your time. Call a computer tech when your p.c. doesn't fire and ask for some help.

"Dou-ba cleek on yer star boton."
"Yer star buton."
"I'm sorry, I don't understand you."
"Star buton, star boton."
Five minutes later you get "Start button" out of that.
It's not the tech's fault. He speaks better English than you probably. But you can't get his accent. Think Dell or HP or anyone cares?
Not likely.

That's what makes Hawaii a really cool place to visit. Especially when it's freezing even in California. There's an immediate hit of warmth and exoticism in the place. Sit still an hour and there's a vine growing over you. The ocean is always warm. It's a now thing. You don't have to travel to the museum, or the four star restaurant. Arrive at the airport and you are there.

Dogs too, give an immediate joy to life. They'll chase their tail. They'll wear a hat if you make them. They'll sit around all day with a feather stuck on their nose.

We like life without complications. Moreso now than ever because the world has gotten so damn complicated. When you wait a week for a guy to come over and fix your phone, you don't want to wait ten minutes for your computer to load.

We like slogans. "Where's the beef?"
"Are you ready for some football?"
"Wha's up?"

We want our politicians to fix the messes now. Two years to repair our economy?  Too long. I'm gonna vote next time for a politician who knows what I want-- someone who says "You betcha."

We don't even value our words anymore. Just the sound of a word is enough to cause a storm of protest. If the first three letters suggest another offensive word-even if the meaning is totally different, you can't use the original word. I won't go into it for fear of putting off the audience, but think about it.

Give me a dog in a funny hat and a trip to Hawaii. That's really simple and I get it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Limping Lulu

My Lulu is limping. She is favoring her left hind leg. We took her to the vet and the vet says there is no real danger or anything that needs to be addressed immediately, and Lulu seems not to even know she's supposed to limp when there's something exciting going on. Still, she's eight and one-half. She's getting older.

Lynn, my fantastic wife said she never even thought of Lulu as an older dog. Lulu is still playful, loves walks (she doesn't limp during those) and patrols our large yard like a champ, even when she sometimes has to do it on three legs.

Eight years ago I had to put our Scottish Terrier down because he couldn't work his hind legs. He was in great pain and couldn't do much but moan and poop on himself.

Putting your animal to sleep is an awful thing. It seems such a betrayal of their trust. I've done it twice and watched it once. With our dog Pearl we couldn't even stand to be present and I truly regret this.

While at the vet's the other day, there was a dog who was going to be put to sleep in the waiting room. He couldn't work his hind legs in any way other than to keep himself in a permanent squat, yet he still showed curiousity and spunk. His owner used a walker, and the irony of the situation was sad.

Dogs bring such joy, but unfortunately, they don't outlive their owners. It's a shame they don't just check out when we do.

I'm hoping with rest and care that this limping will resolve itself. It's been on and off for awhile now. I hope it doesn't develop into something worse. Our responsibilities as pet owners can sometimes be sad. Putting a dog to sleep is something you never forget.

Now, my dog Maurice dropped dead trying to run away. He was sick we knew, but comfortable and well-loved. He loved to explore, and so he sauntered off down our driveway seemingly headed for a jaunt around the neighborhood. When I called him back, he dropped dead. God bless his weak little heart. Hope I go the same way.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nice To Meet You Baby.

My new granddaughter Holland is surrounded by a group of dogs. There's Moo, who we consider her brother; Lulu, her aunt; and Xena, her cousin. I know it sounds silly, but there you go.

Each dog had its own particular method of first meeting the baby. Moo decided to lick Holly's head at first. Lulu ran about the room acting like she had lots to do and worry about because a baby had arrived; and Xena, with a tail that could knock you off your feet, held her tail in check and licked baby's feet upon first meeting the baby.

I think it's fabulous how understanding dogs are of small children. Of course, I am not overlooking the rare occasions when dogs attack kids. It happens. Even a Scottish Terrier I owned nipped my granddaughter Anika when she was small. That dog was a handful, but to be fair, Anika tried to pull a blanket out from under the dog and I think he got scared.

I recently heard about a dog that "kidnapped" a baby to take to the woods to care for it. Luckily the child did not die but problems did occur due to the dog's mothering instinct.

Don't worry. I don't think dogs should be left alone with children. I do think they are a great addition to the life of our kids though.

Unfortunately, in this day and time, I don't think kids really get the relationships we older folks had with our animals. Playing outside is becoming something you have to tell kids to do today. God knows, if I had video games, the internet, and 120 channels on the tube, I never would've gone out either.

We had three channels when I was a kid. On Saturday mornings, there was a smoking cowboy with a pencil thin mustache on tv who ran old cowboy flicks all morning long. My grandmother had to kick me out of the house cause I'd watch cowboys named Johnny Mack and Buck ride all over the same So Cal backlot for hours on end. (Funny, the transmitter for that station was located in Tijuana and the backlot probably housed the Manson family in the 1970's.)

We had two dogs at my grandparents' house in La Mesa. First came Mack, a standard-sized collie that would follow me about the yard. Then came Beau, a standard-sized poddle. It wasn't so much that I played with them, but they followed me about my grandparents' huge yard. They owned about 2/3 of an acre and I roamed it as if it were the size of Hearst's place in San Simeon. There were Eucalyptus trees to climb, a pepper tree that hid an area for a fortress, and a six-foot wall my grandfather built that made a great fort. I used to man the walls, holding off Indians (sorry, Native Americans), redcoats, and other nasties with a Eucalyptus branch shaped like a musket. Some years later I went back to my grandparents, found that branch and you know what? It didn't really resemble a musket at all.

Ah, the loss of innocence.

Welcome Holly. Welcome to a world where dogs lick your toes, where tree limbs look like magic wands, and where all boys want to be cowboys and all girls want to be ballerinas. You're a lucky little girl. I hope you have wonderful imaginings. Remember, a dog can be a guest at your tea party.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Dog Is More Spiritually Evolved I'm Sure.

You know, I have my regrets. If only I could apologize for everything I've screwed up in near 60 years. It's an ego thing I'm sure. I am so freaking needy.
Dogs have no regrets. And most of the time they have no ego.
This makes them more "Zen" than I am I'm sure.
I'm not a member of AA. I'm not an alcoholic, but I do know that one of the 12 steps is to apologize to those you have wounded.
I'm sorry.
Why is my dog so cool and I'm so lame?
How can that be? I have free will. I have an intelligence that is greater than the poochy mind of my animal. Yet she wanders about the yard, free of guilt. Free of regret. Free.
No she can't open the gate and leave. She can't take off and wander the open space down the street. But she has no mortgage. She has no fear that someday she will run into someone she once knew and that person will say, "you know, you were a real jerk to me."
There is a door that one can walk through at St. Peter's in the Vatican. It is open like once every 100 years or so. Maybe once a millennium.
If you walk through this door supposedly all your sins are forgiven. Now I have seen the door, but I missed my chance to pass through it in 2000. What a shame.
Had my dog been born, and in Rome, she could have passed the door without sin. She could cast the first stone. She doesn't though. Not only is she without sin-- she is without the concept. She forgives. Devine!

Dogs are such better people than we are.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Is a Pea-Brain Supposed to Remember All These Passwords

I'm hopeless. How can I remember every freaking password I come up with? Come on. I've been locked out of my own blog for awhile now. I couldn't remember my password. I couldn't remember my G-mail password. I have a new granddaughter, a dog who needs a bath, and not a scrap of real energy

Sometimes I get on the floor at night if I'm too hyped to relax so I don't wreck my wife's sleep by being too jumpy in bed. Sometimes the dog lies next to me. Often not. She loves her dog bed. I have often thought of joining her there.

Lulu, my dog, met the baby for the first time ten days or so ago. I'm always so amazed at an animal's understanding of the needs of infants. Lulu went crazy with concern when she first met Holly. She was a bundle of nerves, moving about, looking in on the baby every few seconds. When my daughter went to feed Holly in the spare bedroom, Lulu checked in on her, and later, after she left, she spent some time in that bedroom looking concerned.

In a world gone mad, where we often forget about compassion, dogs have it right. Perhaps instead of humans for president, we should choose a dog. Maybe they should have the beds and we should have the floors.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Lulu is a new aunt to Holland Joanna Fowler. Grandparents are thrilled.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lulu's Dog Chronicles-- Walk Today-- When Will the New Puppy Arrive?

Nephew Moo came to visit today. I baby-sit him on Thursdays, and this young adult doesn't even have to sit on walks! I suppose I should thank him because Alpha and Lauren took me for a walk. Jeez, I haven't been out for a walk forever. We saw a little yappy poodle and a husky and a freaking squirrel. Wish Alpha would've let me loose to maul the squirrel but no... I have to near choke myself to get any leash at all. You'd think Alpha would get it but he doesn't. I never once saw him chase a squirrel the lazy s.o.b.

Lauren is gonna have puppies any day now. Can't wait. I'm ready. I guess it is my long-hidden maternal instinct coming out.

Alpha is showing some slight bit of spunk during the evenings now. He plays pull with me with the rope that looks like possum guts. Or big bone pull and throw. Last night, while I was trying to relax he tried to lure me with big bone tied to the rope. He called it "dog-fishing." How stupid does he think I am? I wouldn't bite on his little game, and I ignored him. Maybe I'll try "pull the remote control" with him sometime-- bet he stirs for that little game.

Well, I got to go play auntie with Moo. He often hangs out in the garage while I'm patrolling the yard. I try to teach him but he really is just a bit reticent to hunt for lizards or dig holes looking for gophers. What is it he thinks we're supposed to do around here? I mean the world doesn't stop turning cause he is visiting. Play I will. Wrestle with him is good, but when we're out we have to keep the yard clear of invaders. Come on, 18 hours of sleep a day is enough. Some days I only get 16 hours and I'm okay.

Mrs. says she's off this weekend. I expect another walk just might be in the offing. Alpha may just stay upright for an hour or two.

Monday, September 20, 2010

100 Posts! New Author. Lulu is now writing this blog

Look, I took over this blog from Alpha. He's not keeping it up. So, in addition to chasing those damn squirrels, lizards, gophers, and an occasional rat, I'm forced to write this blog. No easy task with paws, let me tell you. No walk again today. If Alpha gets any more lazy Mrs. (the real Alpha) will have to leave him kibble next to the bed. I barely have time to bark at the garbage man, and he's inside doing nothing. In case you don't know anything about me, Alpha and Mrs. and Lauren bailed me outa jail eight years ago. That's 56 years ago for my math-challenged canine companions. I was pretty skittish then, but I'm the ruler of my yard now. I've taken down possums, gophers, rats, lizards, and even a bird. Well, I found a bird anyway. He was coughing up blood so I put him out of his misery.

And I'm smart. You know, when Alpha and Mrs. won't let me outside at night (they worry about me and skunks and even the odd mountain lion we hear rumors about) I crap in their bathroom. Yeah, just like they do. Now, that's freaking brilliant! Roll over my haunches. Let's see Lassie figure that one out. Anyway, I'm just trying to give you a little info about me as a person. I'm smart, brave, and I can ad lib a real ruckus if some intruder comes to the door trying to sign up the humans to save the earth. Works really well, Alpha or Mrs. holding me back and the brownies leaving a trail of cookies at the sight of me. Yeah! Stay tuned folks. This blog is gonna be great now that I took over.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Carly Still Needs a Home-- Adopt

The Humane Society Silicon Valley is still trying to find a forever home for Carly. I'm at a loss to see how this hasn't happened yet. Adopt an animal in need. That's it! Carly is a female at little less than 3-years-old. HSSV has a video of this great pal. Check it out.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dog Meringue Dancing Champ-- AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The more I see of dogs, the more I love them. My daughter Kirsten turned me onto this and I was kind of ho-hum-- sure, dancing dog. What a neat video! Please, this is so cool.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A "Dogged" Defense-- My First "Deleted" Post-- Bad Reviews

I can't sleep.

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog which in passing mentioned Bear-Bear, the dog in Maryland shot by an off-duty police officer at a dog park. I have posted two other blogs about Bear-Bear. I am appalled by the event and have made an effort to make the story known to my few readers because I thought it was important.

This last piece I wrote that mentioned Bear-Bear I have deleted. It was poorly written and did not coherently make my point. I apologize to the readers of the piece for my poor writing. I dash off most of these stories in a few minutes, and they are often stream-of-consciousness stuff and usually only lightly edited. I didn't make my point clear, and feelings are raw about the shooting of an innocent dog by a trigger-happy police officer.

I would also like to make it clear that I am not "anti" dog park or against dogs running free in appropriate areas. It is true that I don't take my Lulu to dog parks. She is skittish. We believe she suffered mistreatment before we adopted her, and she is very protective of my family. I wouldn't put her in a position where she might hurt another dog or be attacked herself because of her anti-social "vibe." She plays in my large back yard with my children's dogs when they visit.

Now I am going to make a jump here, so stay with me. I have had my work reviewed before. In print, by editors, and even by my mother-in-law. Bad reviews hurt. In one case, a review of a short story of mine was quite glowing though they did have a quibble or two. I remember the quibbles. Always. I do not write only for the money alone, but because I like it and quite frankly, because I like good reviews.

I posted a link to my last, now-deleted blog entitled "Don't Live Vicariously Through Your Dog" to the Justice for Bear-Bear FB page. Several people who read the piece didn't understand it and skewered not only the piece, but me. It hurt. Not only that, but they insulted my dog. That's worse! Now, if the people had not been so personal, I would not be writing this. But some people were quite nasty. Like I said, feelings are raw about the Bear-Bear story, and I wrote badly. I take the blame for that.

Some folks see me as a self-aggrandizing hack. Probably guilty, I admit. I have cashed a lot of checks for my hack work. I have published hundreds of articles in magazines, newspapers, and online. I have written ad copy. A dozen of my short stories are in print. I suppose I fooled a lot of folks in my time. For those who were so outraged about my "Vicariously" blog, I will never convince them I am anything more than a hack. My suggestion: Don't read my blog. Those same people have been kind enough to point out my lack of readership. Again, they needn't have wasted their time. I am well-aware that I don't have a large audience.

When I started this blog I decided to try to post different and interesting stories about dogs. Now sometimes it is stretching to say that my blog is about dogs at all. One of my reviewers said my blog was, what was it, self-absorbed or something. Well, it's my damn blog and I'll write what I want to. I decided early on that I was not going to rely on cute puppy pictures to gain an audience. That's the way it's going to be. I write about myself, my dog, my feelings, Mel Gibson, Sarah Palin, werewolves, etc. etc. My blog-- my subject. Would I like to have 15,000 readers? You bet. But I won't cave to get them. Don't like the blog, don't waste your time on it. It's that easy.

My FaceBook page that connects to this blog lists animal adoption agencies. I have over 60 in my database so far. Occasionally a reader will post a dog for adoption onto their FB page because of my reminders. Thanks. That is my mission. To help dogs in need.

Now, we will jump again. I was trying to make a point in my "Vicariously" piece about responsible dog ownership. Let me try to do it more plainly.

There are untold numbers of dog bites in the United States each year. Service people like meter readers and postal carriers are sitting ducks for an out of control animal. Dog bites cause pain, lost days from work, and often the offending pet is euthanized.

In the last ten years or so, out of control dogs have caused three deaths in the San Francisco Bay Area. Two of those victims were children. Another, more famous victim, was a well-liked coach of lacrosse in Marin County.

One young boy in the East Bay lost his face to an uncontrolled pit bull.

People who like to be "tough" because they own agressive dogs are turning in those dogs in record numbers. Check your local shelter. Countless pit bull mix dogs are waiting for good homes. Those are the dogs that are able to be placed. Other dogs are destroyed because they are too agressive to go home with anyone.

People who thought Paris Hilton's Chihuahua was just too, too cute and, oh boy, it fits in my purse, are turning in Chihuahua mix dogs in record numbers. Again, check your shelters. Wanting to be tough or fashionable is no reason to own a pet.

Quick jump again. In every case that I know of personally where a dog has bitten someone, the owners were dismayed that the bite victim harassed their dog by placing an apendage into the dog's mouth. Americans are indignent when asked to control their animals. Again, an agressive dog is apt to take an one-way trip to the shelter to be destroyed.

In the case of the two children who were killed by pit bulls, both sets of animals were apparently kept inside most of the day. You don't even want to know what the owners of the dogs who killed the lacrosse coach had going on with their pets. I'll just say that they mistreated those animals in a way most folks can not even imagine.

Several dogs about a month or so ago in Golden Gate Park attacked several passers-by including a 70-year-old woman. One of the dogs was shot while police were trying to subdue it. Authorities believe the dogs belonged to the homeless who camp in the park. No one claimed those dogs and I assume they have been destroyed.

We owe both our dogs and our community a safe environment. Dogs that live in parks, in dark garages, or in tiny cages are being mistreated. Loose dogs are being put in a bad situation. Don't think so? Talk to the people at Baja S.A.F.E. about dogs running "free" and loose in Baja without food, water, or a vet's care. Talk to my sister who told me just today that dogs in Jamaica, where she lives, are poisoned if someone's goat goes missing. Check out the squashed dogs on the freeways because someone let their dog run free or ride in the back of a pick up unsecured. It ain't pretty.

I hope I have explained my point better this time. If not, you are free not to read this or any of my blogs. Nonetheless, I will continue to plod along, writing badly, expressing my opinion badly, and sending these blogs into the great ether of "unreadness." But not next week.

For my readers, I am taking a week off to coincide with my wife's vacation. We're going to relax, do a few projects around the house, and prepare for our second grandchild, a girl, who is due to make an appearance late this month or in early October. I thank you for your attention.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cop Shoots Dog at Dog Park Revisited.

Since I learned of this story several days ago, I've thought a lot about it. I talked with my wife about it. Certainly I am all for law enforcement officers defending themselves, but there is something really disturbing here. Let me see if I can hash it out on The Dog Chronicles in a manner that makes some sense.

First, when anyone goes to a dog park there is an assumed risk involved. While one may argue that dogs in dog parks should always be under control, that's certainly not always the case-- in fact, that sort of the point of taking your dog there.

So there may be a tussle or two between animals. While such doggish behavior should be foreseen, it can't always be expected. In other words, who knows when it might happen. Unlike the Dog Whisperer, we can't always read the signals our dogs put out. So we're back to the assumed risk.

If your dog gets into it with another dog at the dog park, it is a civil matter unless the dog owners are fully aware of their animals' aggressive natures. In other words, if your dog has harmed other animals at the dog park before, or at any other time, then you shouldn't have your dog in the park. That doesn't seem to be the case here. Bear-Bear was well-behaved at this park in the past, and I would imagine the press or the cop's lawyers would have been all over the story of an out-of-control Bear-Bear.

Now, the cop in this story is apparently pleading self-defense, but that just doesn't wash. In this situation, he is a private citizen, even if he is a full-time police officer who carries a gun off-duty to protect the public and himself. A dog bite is a civil matter. This is not the story of a dog run amok at the dog park, biting children and other dogs. It is a story of rough play, and at most a civil matter, even if this officer were to be bit in the fight or rough play. A dog bite while breaking up a tussle is usually not a life-threatening situation. It is a risk always, but not a matter of life and death.

Let's take this a step further. Suppose this same cop attends a major league baseball game, armed as usual as is his right and duty as an officer of the law. Now suppose he arrives early, and during warm ups one of the ball players tosses a ball up into the stands. Let's say this cop gets hit with the baseball. Let's even say he gets hit with a foul ball during the course of the game. Can this cop pull out his gun and shoot the player who threw the baseball or who hit him with a foul ball? Of course not. Now, the player who tossed the ball into the stands may face civil liability for throwing a ball into the stands, and certainly the player at bat did not mean to hit this cop with the baseball. The cop assumed the risk when he attended the game that he might be hit by a foul ball. He is not allowed to shoot the batter or even the player who threw the ball into the stands in order to either protect the public or himself. I think it's much the same at the dog park.

Who draws a gun and kills an animal at a dog park? A child could have been shot, or another adult, or another dog. And who says you can protect your dog with deadly force? The attack of Bear-Bear, if you choose to deem it an attack can't be considered a deliberate or deadly matter. Would this same officer, off-duty, be allowed to shoot the owner of Bear-Bear if the owner punched him?

Nothing makes sense about all this.

Deadly force used by anyone when there is very little chance of a lethal injury occurring is an extreme over-reaction.

There was no crime that day, only a potential civil injury. This was no organized dog fight. It was not deliberate. And no one was threatening the cop. Why the gun?

This cop was trigger happy. If he is willing to pull a gun in a dog park, he might over-react in the line of duty and then a human will get shot. There's just no justification for his actions. He should face at least a long suspension and a lawsuit.

"There are a lot of risks associated with dog parks: your dog may get into a fight, pick up a disease from another dog or eat something he shouldn't. But one thing no one expects to happen at the dog park is for their dog to get shot.

Monday evening, Rachel Rettaliata's brother took her 3-year-old rescued Siberian Husky, Bear-Bear, to the Quail Run Community Dog Park in Severn, Maryland. Bear-Bear was well-known and loved around the park. A federal police officer (who has not been identified due to internet threats against him) showed up with his German Shepherd on a leash and the two dogs started playing. Apparently the play turned rough and the officer asked Bear-Bear's guardian to call him off. But before he could get to Bear-Bear, the officer pulled out a gun and shot the dog. Bear-Bear died a few hours later."

The shooting death of a Siberian Husky in a dog park Monday by a an off-duty federal cop is sparking all sorts of outrage.

In addition to calls and letters to public officials, someone has started a Facebook protest page. Here is the link to the page.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What Is Going On? Who Gets to Carry a Gun These Days? Check Out Justice for Bear-Bear FB page.

There are a lot of risks associated with dog parks: your dog may get into a fight, pick up a disease from another dog or eat something he shouldn't. But one thing no one expects to happen at the dog park is for their dog to get shot.

Monday evening, Rachel Rettaliata's brother took her 3-year-old rescued Siberian Husky, Bear-Bear, to the Quail Run Community Dog Park in Severn, Maryland. Bear-Bear was well-known and loved around the park. A federal police officer (who has not been identified due to internet threats against him) showed up with his German Shepherd on a leash and the two dogs started playing. Apparently the play turned rough and the officer asked Bear-Bear's guardian to call him off. But before he could get to Bear-Bear, the officer pulled out a gun and shot the dog. Bear-Bear died a few hours later.

The shooting death of a Siberian Husky in a dog park Monday by a an off-duty federal cop is sparking all sorts of outrage.

In addition to calls and letters to public officials, someone has started a Facebook protest page. Here is the link to the page.

The page was created by Rachel, a Baltimore resident and recent college grad.

Here's what she told me about her reasons for starting the Justice for Bear-Bear page:

It's "[a]n overall frustration with the lack of reaction and control over police power, as well as the overwhelming under-reaction to the mistreatment of the defenseless public -- especially defenseless, harmless animals! It has finally driven me to the breaking point. It's obvious to me that the only reason this man is not being I feel that if authorities aren't going to act on this, then it's the duty of the public to get justice for ourselves. "

Thanks to the original story writers for their info.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Coyote Singing-- New Short-short Fiction. I Swear It Is Fiction.

I haven't long to write this. I don't know when I will lose the power to think in words. Already I cannot talk. I tried, but cannot.

They say I am depressed. A year ago I lost my job. I feel deeper and deeper into an abyss of nothing. I would not rise from my bed. My appetite, always hearty, left me. My wife worried for my safety while she was away at work.

The psychiatrist gave me pills. I am to take two each day. Or is it three? Or five? Whatever the number, I am diligent in this pursuit.

It was after the pills started that my wife failed to speak to me. Not that she didn't try. Oh, she did. But the sounds that came from her after this were the sounds of bagpipes dropped. She squeaked and whined. I understood nothing. I nodded in response to the movements of her mouth.

The television people spoke the same. Bagpipes, nothing but the sound of bagpipes. I could not read their lips.

I live near an open space area. There are miles and miles of trails there. After the pills began, I felt quite restless. I took a hike in the park. I sat on the side of a trail. It is in this spot that I saw the coyotes.

Two of them, one old and ragged-looking, and one young, jumped not twenty yards from me after grasshoppers. It looked like a dance. I heard the music. They jumped after grasshoppers and the pipes, not bagpipes, but some sort of Irish piping, not unpleasant, sounded as I watched them. They danced for what seemed like hours before they noticed me. But when they did the singing began.

The coyotes stopped dancing and stood and looked at me. The older one sang, "I eat bugs, and the bugs eat me. At the end of our days we shall all be free."

She sang these words over and over and it is the only words spoken-- sung to me this day, that I understood.

"I eat bugs, and the bugs eat me. At the end of our days we shall all be free." Over and over and over again.

That day I wandered home just before my wife returned from work. I hurried into bed and feigned sleep. Later in the evening she tried to feed me something. I could tell because she held a plate of food in her hands. But I wanted no food. I only wanted her sounds-- those sounds to stop. I sat up, nodded and smiled and then fell back into the pillow. She left me alone until she came to bed much, much later.

I never slept though. Barely could I stand to lie there, with the crickets calling me outside. I awaited her alarm in the morning. The alarm I heard clearly. I feigned sleep until my wife went for her shower. When I heard the water falling, I arose and threw on some clothing and my hiking shoes. I wrote her a note.

"I couldn't sleep. Went to the park for a hike. Have a nice day."

I worked quite hard to manage this note. The words came to me with great difficulty.

In the moonlight before the dawn, I was off to the park. I hiked back to the spot where I saw the coyotes. Then I sat. A few minutes later the angel came. At first I thought it was just a runner with a miner's lamp on his head, but then I saw that it was an angel. The man/angel ran toward me on the path where I sat. He glanced in my direction as he passed. I tried to rise and speak to this angel before he'd gone to far, but I could not. I heard the song of his footfalls as he ran away from me. I saw the halo fade away in the darkness.

I tried to scream at him to stop, but could not speak words. The sound that came to my voice was the sound of unutterable anguish I fear.

"Wait!" I wanted to scream. "Wait, what have you to tell me? What is it I should do now?"

But the words did not come. Just the sound-- the screech perhaps, or maybe I just imagined I made sound.

Oh, the ability to make myself understood in any manner will leave me soon. I will not be able to write or speak or sing in any manner.

I returned home, in great confusion I found the way. Took my pills. Is it one or two or four I am to take? I read the bottle but can't understand what it says. The words seem to go around in circles and I can't find my glasses. Surely my regular glasses will not stop the spinning anyway. Surely I need the special glasses that stop spinning.

My dog came up to me then. "Follow me," she said. "Follow me, hurry."

I followed her. She led me to her dog house.

"The angel will meet you here," my dog said.

I crawled inside. It is such a tight fit I fear I will be unable to leave this spot ever again, but the angel is coming. The angel will take me away.

My dog lies outside her house and we await the angel. There is music in the air. The bees and birds sing. The breeze sings through the leaves of the trees. It is all harps and Irish pipes and the smell of lavender.

We await the angel and the singing of coyotes.


Photo courtesy of Flickr and Red-Star.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How Much Is That Innocence Worth Now? How Much Is That Doggie In The Window - Patti Page

Corny? Yes. But this was a really popular song when I was a kid. And I loved it. I guess I was four or five, and when this came on the car radio I was thrilled. Okay, I was maybe a bit light in the loafers at four or five.

What's interesting about this, other than being funny and out-dated, is how innocent we were, or a least how innocent we imagined we were. It is like being on a different planet to see it now.

Hope you enjoy this video and share it with your friends.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This Old Dog Can't Learn New Tricks-- My One Day Return to College

Okay, I'm an old dog. In order to spend some time wisely, I enrolled in a college course over the summer, and yesterday was the first day of class-- and yesterday was the last day of class.

I tried. I took a regular daytime class in Macro-economics. (All the courses I really wanted were closed.) I have taken evening courses from time to time. It's a different vibe, especially in French and Italian class. I've taken night courses in creative writing. But this return to real college started badly and ended worse.

First parking was a nightmare. Okay, no problem, I got a space in the dirt lot and meandered up the hill. I should have known just from the look of the students I passed on the way to my building of matriculation that there was a problem. Everyone at this community college looked like babies. I am 59. I have a granddaughter of 14.

Well, I find the classroom. There is one other geezer in there. Maybe my age. The rest are these children. The professor comes in. He's okay. Cool enough. The class seems interesting, if not scintillating. Then the rules begin. No more than five unexcused absences. No food in class. Book cost $165. Computer access costs another $80. Not that there weren't ways around the cost. He was cool about that and gave alternatives-- but still. No more than two late arrivals. No audible yawning. Yes, you heard me right. No sleeping. That's a real bummer. It is my hobby these days.

We are going to break into groups. Discuss economics. Well, I immediately flashed back to dissecting an egg at old Hoover High School in San Diego. I remember getting into a group where one of the guys scrambled the egg for fun. What a moron! I tried to imagine hanging with a bunch of kiddies. I have absolutely no interest in 18-year-old girls, so that's no fun.

I have visions of smart-ass kids like I was. Kids who can't stop wisecracking. (God, Jackie L.-- I'm so happy you didn't have any classes with me at Hoover cause you wouldn't be talking to me now.) Since I am not working right now, I have begun to dread actually making new acquaintances. I want to huddle up under the covers and be left alone instead of having to actually work at being remotely charming. I fail miserably at charming in person.

On top of the no audible yawning clause in the class rules, I already have homework due over the weekend. How do these kids do it? It's not like I mind the reading, or the homework. But the homework has to be posted onto this internet site. I can't find it. I mean I can find the site, but not the homework. My computer literacy stops at the end of my nose. If I'm not interested in something, then I am not willing to learn a new computer mindset. I know how to look up Mel Gibson and Sarah Palin for my blogs. I know how to download photos. I can use a spreadsheet a little. Use a word processing program. But I don't want to search for homework online on a site I am eventually going to have to pay $80 to use. Already I see a flunking grade appearing on my transcript. There goes my transfer to Yale!

Well, you can teach some old dogs new tricks. Maybe I learned one just today. I dropped my class online. Welcome back $104 in class fees. Welcome back reading what I want to read. I am audibly yawning right now and eating cereal loudly. I am avoiding any human communication that does not involve a keyboard. My dog would like a walk, but I might just encounter a lizard out there in the real world and the threat of interaction scares me silly. Forget it. I still have the last volume of Churchill's "History of the English Speaking Peoples" awaiting me. The only time crunch I have is in my Grapenuts.

Photo Flickr and ocx2ky.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Return of the Black Dog-- A New Short Story.

Georgie Mathis leaned back against the Macy's building. It wasn't hot-- nothing like hot but he was sweating and weak. He spread out his legs and nearly kicked over his can.
"Help a brother out," he said to a passing black man.
Nothing. The man never even acknowledged him.
Georgie hadn't even the energy to curse.
His dog sat next to him. Black dog. Nice dog. Nicest dog Georgie ever saw. Didn't steal his food like the pigeons or the passing mutts.
Black dog, Georgie called him Porgie, he didn't know why, Porgie never stared at him when he ate. Didn't beg food and act hungry. With Porgie, Georgie came first. Georgie ate, then the dog. It seemed like the only reason Porgie ate when his master fed him was to please his master. A little food. A little water. Porgie was good to go.
But not Georgie. He couldn't even budge today. Wasn't for the old white lady with the sandwich and the five, Georgie likely would've starved.
He let his hand rest on the dog. Dog couldn't weigh more than 15 pounds, but his hand sunk into the fur and he stroked. "Best dog I ever had," he said. "Only dog I ever had."
Georgie closed his eyes and pulled in the warmth. Nothing like hot today, and not cold, but the sweat rolled down his face and Georgie shivered. San Francisco weather, cold and hot at the same time.
He spoke to the dog. "Wish you could hook me up, Porgie. I could use a little something you know. Lord knows, I can't even get up off my butt."

The man closed his eyes. He remembered the days in the projects. He remembered the mean-ass dogs all over and the mean-ass people. He tried to see his grandmother's face. If his grandma wouldn't have died so long ago, Georgie would've been okay. He hummed aloud to the church music he heard inside his head. Grandma took him to church. Lotta good it did him, or her. Old woman passed when she was 50, and he was just 13. No more church. That was it for him. His mama living anywhere she found a man. His dad who knew where.

Wait, Georgie stopped humming. He knew where the old man had been. He met him first time in the joint. When Georgie did five for drugs, he met the old man. Father hooked him up in the joint.
"You my boy," he said. "I'll take care of you."
Later the old man beat him up over a debt.
"I'll take care of you," the old man said.
Georgie came out of the joint worse than ever.

The dog stirred.
His master came around. "You're the softest thing," he said. "You're like the only one who sees me."
The dog stared into his master's eyes. "Man, it's like you read my mind," Georgie said.
The legs kept passing him by. He listened for the sound of coins dropping.

He'd owned the dog for a couple of weeks. The dog adopted him. Came up to him right at the very spot he sat, right up against the back of the Macy's building and sat down.
Georgie tried to shoo the dog off. Even tried once or twice to kick the mutt. But Porgie dodged the blows, not so much for himself, but seemingly so his new owner wouldn't feel bad about hurting him.
So George put up with him. Then he saw that people paid just a little more attention to him when the dog was there. The extra money in his can more than made up for the dog food. Porgie didn't eat much. It seemed as if he could've lived on air for all he asked.
The black dog crawled onto his master's lap.
"I'm so cold," Georgie said. "You be my blanket, dog."

The man felt a tap on his shoulder. He looked up. It was Blowfly, the dealer. Everyone hated Blowfly.
"Hey there Georgie, long time. Where you been?" Blowfly said.
The dealer's nose was running. That's why the name.
"You need something Georgie boy?"
The old man thought of the five in his pocket. "I don't have much," he said. "I been off the stuff for a couple of weeks. But I'm suffering. What can you do for five?"
Blowfly scowled, then grinned. "Man, we old friends, you know. I fix you up with something. Let's see the color of your money."
Georgie dug into his pocket. Nothing. He dug into the other. Still nothing. He looked into the can, and around him. He shooed the dog off his lap, got up on his aching knees and searched the ground. Nothing. The five was gone.
"I had it," he said. "I think I got some holes in my pockets. I know it's here somewhere."
But the money couldn't be found.
Blowfly scowled again and wiped his nose with his shirt.
"How 'bout I pay you tomorrow?" Georgie asked.
"How 'bout you get hit by a car today then I don't see you again. This ain't the charity ward my man. I can't go around giving it away. I got expenses. Overhead."
Georgie grabbed the man's hand. He'd always hated to touch Blowfly or anything Blowfly touched, but he felt desperate. "I been a good customer in my time," he said.
"Let go of me!" Blowfly snatched his hand away and made as if he were going to club Georgie. "You're a shaky bag of bones. Look at you and that damn dog. Neither one of you worth a damn."
Then Blowfly smiled again. "Tell you what," he said, "You give me your dog and I'll fix you up."
Georgie closed his eyes and thought. Nobody ever loved him like that dog. Nobody.
"Come on," said Blowfly. "I ain't gonna hurt him."
"You're gonna feed him to a pit, aren't you."
Blowfly would make some points by handing over the dog to some gangster so the gangster could watch his pit tear Porgie apart.
"Nah, would I do that? I'd give it to my girlfriend."
Blowfly had no girlfriend Georgie bet.
"You'd feed him to a pit. I know it. Feed him to a pit for fun."

The dog nosed into Georgie. It didn't seem like a plea for mercy, he thought. It seemed like the dog would accept whatever was most important to Georgie. What he needed, the dog would give, even in sacrifice. The dog nosed him so he would make up his mind. So he wouldn't suffer over the decision.
"I'll find my five and take care of business later."
Blowfly smiled. "Whatever you say, Georgie. But the offer stands. I take the dog and fix you up."

Georgie sighed and waved the dealer off. He watched him stroll down the block, turn and go out of sight.
He pulled the dog close to him. Man, nothing ever felt as nice as his dog, except maybe a pipe. But the black dog warmed him almost as well.
Porgie rose, and the five dollar bill was on the ground where he'd sat.
Georgie felt a surge of anger and wanted to throw the dog into the traffic. But it quickly subsided and he laughed. Then collapsed on the ground, unconscious.

He awoke, shivering.

It was almost dark, apparently no one had thought him anything but drunk. He'd been there hours. Porgie lay across his stomach. Georgie's hand dropped onto the dog, and stroked.
The lights flashed. The black dog was the one fixed point in Georgie's life for those moments.
"Can you sit up?" someone asked.
He felt the dog pulled away from him. They pulled Georgie onto the stretcher.
"My dog!" Georgie said.
Porgie licked his hand. The old man let his hand rest onto the dog's neck. "What's going on, dog?" he said. "What are they doing to me?"
The last thing he felt was the warmth of the black dog. His hand sunk into the fur, into the warmth. The world about him swirled. The lights. The warmth. The sounds off in a distance now. And the lights in his head dimming. His hand clutched at Porgie.Then Georgie passed. His hand dropped, and the dog took off, avoiding any attempts to hold him.

The black dog ran down the street. He ran through the Tenderloin, avoiding traffic. Ran without stopping. Dodged the cars that never seemed to notice him. He ran and then turned on Van Ness. He kept running. Maybe two miles. Then he turned on Jackson. Past a couple of the foreign embassies. Then the black dog slipped through the metal bars of a gate and under a shrub in the well-kept yard. The black dog closed his eyes and waited.

In the morning the black dog heard a door open and close.
Voices. Female voices.
He stretched then shook off the dew off his fur.
The dog ran to the old woman with the cane and her Filipina helper.
He shook his tail so his whole back end swayed. The dog smiled.
"What's this?" The old white lady with the cane said.
"Stay away," said the Filipina, standing between the dog and the old woman. She threatened a kick.
The old lady smiled. "No, no. It's okay Consuelo. The dog isn't a threat."
Consuelo eyed the dog without easing back.
"Mrs. Connell, you don't know anything about this dog," she said. "Let's go inside and I'll call the pound."
Mrs. Connell waved her caretaker off. "This dog is just lost and hungry," she said. "I can tell."
Mrs. Connell never actually had a dog in her life. She grew up in San Francisco, born into a large family who lived modestly and without dogs.
When she married young, her husband hated dogs, so she never owned one ever. But something about this animal gave her confidence. It's friendliness seemed obvious to her.
The dog made its way around Consuelo and licked the old woman's hand.
"You are so sweet," said the old woman.
"Look out the dog doesn't knock you down," the younger Consuelo said.
"No, no. This dog understands. It is very well-behaved. It doesn't seem to have a collar."
"A runaway. Probably infested with bugs."
"No. It has been cared for. It seems healthy."
"Until your house is filled with fleas. I should call the pound."
The dog looked up at the old woman. It seemed to her as if the dog had an uncanny sort of knowledge of her. As if the dog knew more about her than most people.

The old woman, Mrs. Maria Connell had been beautiful once. She'd been an only child of a fine Spanish family-- devoutly Catholic. She married at 19. A man 20 years older than her. An Irishman-- very rich-- very ruthless. She quickly became pregnant. Her husband at first berated her, then he began to slap her.
Mrs. Connell took it. Even to the day of the birth, she took it. After the birth, she took the slapping. Even as it got more violent, she allowed it.

She prayed. When praying didn't stop the beatings, she went to see her priest. Mr. Connell hit her and hit her almost daily.
He hit her when the baby cried.
He hit her when she cried.
He hit her even though she prayed, and even though she visited the priest. Maria went to mass on Wednesdays and lit a candle, not for herself, but for her husband. She went to mass on Sundays and lit a candle. Sometimes she lit a candle for all of them, herself, her husband, and William, the baby.

When William began to toddle about the house, Mr. Connell screamed at the child and slapped him for knocking over a vase.

Maria came dashing out from the kitchen with a six-inch kitchen knife. She plowed into her husband and knocked him to the ground. With the knife at her husband's throat, she told him, "You need to leave here and never come back. I will kill you if you do. Do you understand? I will kill you. If you ever hurt my son again I will gouge out your eyes and leave you in the street to die. Now go."
Mr. Connell left. He never entered the house again. And, like a good Catholic, he remained married to Maria.
After ten years, he died, leaving his wife and son with his fortune.
Though Mr. Connell never hit his son again, he did find fault with every thing the boy attempted. William Connell grew up disappointed and unsure of himself.

The dog lapped at the water Mrs. Connell set out in a bowl for him. She watched. This black dog seemed very well-behaved. She knew nothing about dogs, but could tell this one had arrived at her home for some reason. No dog had picked her before.
She wondered, would William have come out better if he'd had a dog. He always seemed afraid of them.
Ah, William, she sighed. Her only child and a troubled soul. Divorced since last year. A suicide attempt at college. A failed business. Loans and gifts from his mother never seemed to make a difference. He never could get over the hump.
Mrs. Connell seldom saw him now. If he called, he seemed preoccupied.
Could it be that he needed a dog as a child?
Mrs. Connell smiled as the dog ate some fish leftovers from a few days ago.
Consuelo hovered at the kitchen door, distrustful.
"I will call the pound now Mrs. Connell. You can't have a dog under your feet. What if he knocks you over?"
The dog finished the fish and looked up at Mrs. Connell.
"I like this dog," she said. "He'll be careful of me."
The dog wagged his tail.

At night, Mrs. Connell sat in her living room with the dog at her feet. She sat there humming. Ave Maria. Why that song, she wondered. Yet it would not leave her head.
The dog slept.
Consuelo was in Mrs. Connell's bedroom, preparing to leave for the night.
Mrs. Connell hummed and thought. She should call William. He never seemed to be home when she called, but she should call him.
She leaned over, grabbed the phone, then dialed.
It rang three times before he answered.
"Hello Mother," he said.
"William," she said and paused. "William, you know I haven't seen you in two months?"
"Has it been that long?"
"Yes, dear. And you know, I miss you terribly."
For 30 seconds, he did not respond.
"Is something wrong? Are you okay?"
"Of course. But I miss you. You have always been such a good son."
"What's going on?" He sounded frantic.
"Nothing, William. Nothing. Come home son. You need to come home."
Mrs. Connell hung up the phone and hummed the song.

"I will put the animal out now," she said.
"Where?" Asked Mrs. Connell.
"Where it's come from," said Consuelo.
"No, you won't put it out. I want him to stay."
Consuelo tried to lock the black dog out of the bedroom when she put Mrs. Connell in her bed. Mrs. Connell would have none of it.
The dog lay on the floor next to the bed.
The Filipina shook her head. "I don't like this dog."
The old woman waved her away.
After her helper left, Mrs. Connell let her hand fall over the bedside. The black dog licked her hand. "You are so sweet," she said. "What shall we call you? Sweetie? I like that, do you?"
The dog put it's paws on the bed and nuzzled the old woman. "So sweet," she said again.
Her eyes began to close. The dog lay on the floor again.
Some music played on the radio that Consuelo left on for Mrs. Connell every night before she left. Schubert's Unfinished Symphony played softly. Mrs. Connell drifted in and out of sleep, awaking now and again as the piece played. Once she sighed. Always the dog seemed in just the right place to touch its fur if the hand fell over the bed. Perhaps she imagined it. Perhaps the dog really was there to comfort her almost like a nurse, even in a manner that a lover might. She'd never had a real lover.

William came to the house in San Francisco the next morning. He came even before the mist had cleared. Mrs. Connell knew he'd never been an early riser, even as a child on Christmas morning. His face looked even redder than the last time she'd seen him-- his hair looked thinner. He fought to catch his breath after only a one block walk from his parking spot.

"Don't let me forget to move my car," he said to Consuelo.

His mother pretended she hadn't noticed his unhealthy demeanor. The black dog went immediately to William.

"Who is this?" he asked.

"Sweetie," she said, sitting at the dining room table.

William pretended to disapprove of the animal even though he immediately rubbed its head. "Just what you need," he said.

The dog licked his hand.

Consuelo poured him coffee. She shook her head for his benefit at the mention of the dog. "I told her she doesn't need any dog."

He shrugged. His hand sunk into the animal's fur. It comforted him. He'd never owned a dog. William closed his eyes. His heart jumped a beat. He gasped for breath.

"William?" his mother said. "Are you all right?"

Such softness. Such warmth. He missed the comfort of other creatures in his solitary existence.


He tried to refocus on his mother. He lifted his hand with great effort to indicate he was okay, though he wasn't.

"I'm-- all-- right," he said. "I'm all right."

The black dog sat next to him then leaned against his leg.

"I'd forgotten," William said more to himself than to the women. His thoughts went to his wife. What had he accomplished? What would they say about him after he'd left his life behind? Would they say he'd given comfort to others?

Reflexively his hand fell onto the dog's head. Surely he was supposed to outlive his mother, but he knew he would not. And he'd never felt anything so soft. Never ever in his life.

The End

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Episode 2-- Sgt. Prestleton of the Yukon and Prince the Wonder Dog-- Prince Ponders


Sergeant Prestleton and Prince the wonder dog sat around the campfire one night eating beans. A frost covered the pine needles. The campfire crackled.

"I think we should return to White Horse Prince. What do you think boy?"

Prince looked up from his plate of beans. What did he think? As a wonder dog, Prince could think, but if he were not. What if he were not a wonder dog? Would his language of barks and yaps constitute thought. Without language, could he think? He stared off into the distance.

Damn Prestleton and his damn leading questions. How could one ponder the imponderable? The sergeant's horse whinnied. Could the horse think?

Prince preferred action. A good bite out of the hind end of an outlaw suited him better than philosophy. A fight with a bear, now there was a good time. He'd saved the sergeant's bacon so many times. Ah, bacon... Ah Bacon? Did Bacon really write those plays?

And so he decided. Prince knew bacon. He knew bacon when he smelled it and he liked bacon. Liking constituted thought in his mind. Real thought, not a mere Pavlovian response to a pellet. He decided he'd like bacon even if there'd never been a Bacon. Language was what one spoke, even if it were mere guttural noises.

Sergeant Prestleton sat back against his boulder and let out a satisfied sigh. Even Prestleton could think, Prince decided. Even that simple-minded, naive Canadian could think.

Prince put his head down and took another bite of his beans. He thought, "I like bacon, but I sure as hell hate these beans."

Thanks to Ellen Joe and Flickr for bacon.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sergeant Prestleson and His Dog Prince-- Prince Speaks English Poorly-- A Very Short Work of Fiction

Sergeant Prestleson of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and his wonder dog Prince sat around the campfire one night in the wilds of the Yukon. A cold fog clung to the tops of the pines. Sergeant Prestleton ate the remains of a can of beans. His dog Prince also had beans in his bowl. They had been on the trail of the outlaw Frenchie Maurice Noir for six days. Frenchie had robbed an old miner and his granddaughter Kelly of their life savings. Prestleton meant to get it back.

The howl of wolves pierced the still night.

"I'm glad I have you nearby boy," said Prestleton to his wonder dog Prince. "I can count on you to protect me."

Prince looked up from his beans. Prince said, "Protect you from what?"

The sergeant started. "You spoke!" he said.

"What do you expect?" Prince said. "I'm a wonder dog."

"I just never knew," said Prestleton.

"Yeah, well, get back to the point. What do you expect me to protect you from?"

"That's not speaking English well," said the man. "One shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition."

A snarl curled on the dog's lips. "I'm a wonder dog," he said. "Not an English professor. Nonetheless, I suppose you think I will save you from the jaws of my brethren, the wolves."

"Well of course," said the sergeant. "You are my dog. My bosom companion. Mon ami. Pal. Buddy."

"Despite my wonder status," said Prince, "I am still a dog. A canine, but one step removed from the wild. I may join the wolves and have you for dinner. After all, beans are not very dignified fare for a wonder dog."

Prestleton frowned at this. A tear formed in the corner of his left eye. "But you have been my friend for years. My compadre. My mate. My..."

"Cut the crap!" said Prince. "How is it that you see predatory humans all the time-- that you view their inability to rise above the savage, and yet a dog, wonder or no, is expected to ignore his beastly instincts and save you, naive young fool that you are."

The man stared at his dog with disbelief. "But your acts of bravery... Your kindness... How do you explain these things if you are not my friend? My partner?"

"So now I am your partner, huh?" said the dog.

"For all these years," said Prestleton.

The dog stared at the man for nearly a minute. Then a smile came onto his muzzle. "I'm just messing with you Sarge," the dog said. "Would I let you be eaten by a pack of wolves?"

The Mountie sunk back onto the boulder at his back. "You really got me," he said. "You really, really got me. I thought you were serious."

"Don't be silly," said Prince. "You're my buddy. Besides, wolves are a bunch of Philistines."

"That's my boy," said the sergeant. "But all this time you could talk. Why didn't you let me know sooner? Think of the conversations we could've had on lonely nights such as these."

"Who can talk?" said the dog, and he went back to his beans and never spoke another word.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Life in Dog Years-- I'm Not Such an Old Dog, But Not Quite a Young Man.

I am roughly the same age as my dog Lulu. That is, in dog years, she is roughly the same age as me. This is not so bad. At eight, Lulu is quite active. She's smart and intuitive. A good dog all around, especially when you consider her overwhelming fear of humans (more men than women) when we first got her from the shelter.

Now this may not be the best segue going, but I'm extremely lazy lately. A recent burst of melancholy and ennui has been replaced with another bout of sloth. There are reasons for this.

I don't sleep well. I am a living science experiment. I've had two major back surgeries. One of my spinal disks has been replaced with a titanium one. I was the first person in San Francisco to have this procedure done. For awhile, I was a popular subject with the doctors around the area. My neighbor, a nurse at Stanford, had overheard a conversation about me even though I'd had the procedure done elsewhere. Though I have been poked, prodded, jacked up (literally they kind of jack up your spinal column for a replacement procedure,) injected, had my disk fried, my nerves cut, bone in my spine removed, etc., etc. I still suffer a lot of pain. I have a numb foot. Sometimes I can't keep my balance. I nearly walked into a ditch the other day due to lack of feeling. And every once in a while, my doc who sees me every six weeks for my back, throws me another curve I have to deal with.

A couple of years ago, because of weight gain, I decided to stop taking a nerve medication that wasn't helping much. I thought I would die. Withdrawal is a terrible thing. My doctor is a great guy, but he doesn't know everything. He didn't know that I needed to cut back on the drug very gradually. I thought I was going crazy. I felt like I'd swallowed a million Mexican jumping beans. I couldn't cope. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I was so tired I couldn't sleep. I know, sounds weird. Oh, I slept in snatches, five minutes here, ten minutes there, but for a few weeks it was awful.

Now my doctor has, I believe inadvertently, switched my medication again. It's a little easier this time. I simply am not getting the pain med I'd been taking before. I think the doc just made a mistake. Again, I'm often too tired to sleep well. My legs kick. I move to the floor at night so I don't wake my wife.

What's this got to do with dogs? I'll tell you. I have a lot of time to think in those hours I spend awaiting sleep. I think how old I am. I think how my dog, with luck may live another eight years. I think I have maybe another twenty years give or take a few. I think how lucky I am. I think how wonderful my family is. I think how miserable I am. I feel young. I feel ancient. I wonder how people work into their seventies or eighties. I don't know.

You know, The Who, in the song "My Generation" said "I hope I die before I get old." Growing up in the sixties, I think a lot of us thought that way. I don't now. But damn, no one told me this ageing thing was gonna be hard.

You know what else I think while I lie awake at night? I think that I wish I could age as gracefully as my dog.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dog Toy Circles. Are they UFO's. Send me your stories.

Okay, nothing earth-shaking today, but my dog Lulu sometimes arranges her toys in geometric shapes. She is especially fond of squares and rectangles. Weird? She's got a ton of toys. The deal is in my house that when she gets a new toy, we're supposed to throw one old one out. But I never have the heart to do that. The only toys that get the heave-ho, are the destroyed stuffies. I mean they have to be totally destroyed, not just unstuffed. My dog is a real toy-hound. I suppose she gets a ton of toys because she reacts so actively and happily to each new one. Of course, she is not content until she strangles the squeaker out of anything squeaky.

Does your dog form dog-toy circles? If so, let me know. Actually, any weird behavior is appreciated in this forum. I have told this story before, but the neatest thing I ever saw a dog do was to ride the Funicula on the Isle of Capri. The dog, without a master or any help, jumped in to the Funicula, without a ticket of course, and rode to the top of the isle. Strange.

My daughter and son-in-law, also in Italy had a dog follow them all about the town. It adopted them in its way, but it wouldn't go into churches. I expect it got kicked out vigorously a time too many.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chihuahua Death Matches in North Korea! Toy Breeds Being Fought All All Over the Globe! Video.

Chihuahua dog fighting has become a popular sport in North Korea. These vicious battles, often to the death, are just one example of the sport of toy breed fighting, an activity that is becoming more popular throughout the world. Often these dogs fight to the death. Even if the dogs are not killed, they are often left maimed.
Dogs that don't survive in the Korean matches are butchered and made into a popular soup with chilies. (See recipe below.)
Before and after photo of a combatant dog.

North Korea isn't the only country where this horrible blood sport is taking place. Toy poodles are being fought in Honduras, and Cockapoos are the victims of this horrible practice in Lichtenstein.

I urge caution to viewers of this secret video of a North Korean dog fight. It may be too disturbing for young children. The dog is being led to the fight, then the fight begins. Unfortunately, because the video was shot secretly, it is not exactly clear what is taking place, but the videographer assures us that this is a fight between two Chihuahua mix dogs that led to the death of one of the dogs.

Honduran fighting poodle.

Korean Chihuahua Soup.
 Boil Chihuahua parts in four liters of water.
Add one head of garlic, peeled and diced.
Stir in 20 small hot chilies.
Simmer for two hours.
Add half cabbage and cook another ten minutes.
Serves an army.

Photos courtesy of Flickr. Thanks Tappit, Celladoor, and Chrisinside. Video by a North Korean PETA member.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Why So Stubborn? Pit Bull Kills Two Year-Old. Why Are You So Smart?

Why are Americans so stubborn about their dogs? It seems as if many Americans, men and women believe that their dogs have more rights than their neighbors. "Dogs should run wild," some people say. "I don't believe in leash laws."
As an ex-mail carrier, I've heard a million excuses why Fluffy and Brutus should be loose and endangering me. People are willing to endure a lot so they don't have to rein in their pets.
One customer of mine didn't receive mail delivery for years. He had a pit bull he refused to control. The pit bull patrolled the neighborhood, unfettered. It was frightening. Unfortunately, instead of controlling his animal, the neighbors finally had had enough and dog-napped the animal and threw it onto a busy freeway. All the guy needed to do was control his dog. Instead, the neighbors and the dog suffered. Ah, it's a free country.

I have been challenged to fight about a dog. I have been threatened. One old man told me he would have my job if I pepper-sprayed his dog who was threatening me. Another man told me his Doberman, who had me cornered, didn't bite. Boy, whoever sold him that protection dog really took him for a ride.
A fellow mail carrier I know heard that a dog didn't bite, even though the dog had just bit him four times! My wife, another mail carrier, was told the dog that had drawn considerable blood after biting her, didn't bite.

I've never seen a loose dog in Paris or London. Even in Italy, where loose dogs are more common, I have never felt threatened by a dog. Not here.

In San Francisco, Oakland, the suburbs, loose dogs are all over the place. Pit bulls run wild in some areas. I know, they don't bite. Tell that to the little girl who just lost her life to a pack of family pit bulls.

Americans need to grow up. Controlling your dog need not be a pissing contest. You know what, it's a damn shame people have to be maimed or killed by dogs before we start to get it. The grandfather whose dogs just killed his granddaughter is facing years in jail. Dogs really don't mind a leash.

A couple of weeks ago, pit bull-mix dogs attacked several adults in Golden Gate Park. Last week, a group of pit bulls mauled a two year-old child to death and in a separate incident, a child was bitten in the face by a pit bull with the owner present. He had invited the child to "pet the dog."

Can we stop with the amateur pit bull rescues already? That was the situation with the grandfather who lost his granddaughter to his pit bulls. He couldn't stand to get rid of the dogs. Cesar Millan he wasn't, and neither are you.

I'm sorry, pit bulls are bred for aggressiveness. They can snap. So can a poodle, but most poodles aren't likely to maul a child to death. Yet pit bull owners continue to protest that the dogs can be rehabilitated through love and understanding. Fine. Take a chance with your child thank you. Not with my grandchildren. And don't expect me to pay for your kid's injuries if he gets mauled by your dogs. Hard-hearted? You bet I am. Don't forget, I was a mail carrier. I have been stalked by pit bulls. This is not hyperbole-- I was stalked by a pit bull. After the owner cursed me out for being a "coward," and after I stood and rationally discussed my situation with him, and after he promised me the dog would never be out again, within a week the dog was running loose. This was a irresponsible owner. There are lots of them.

But the pit bulls who mauled the two year-old to death in the Bay Area had his dogs in the garage. When the child in San Francisco got mauled to death what, ten years ago, the dogs were in his basement. Are you equipped to keep your dogs away from the public? Promise? Are you prepared to face prison for keeping dangerous animals if they happen to maim or kill someone?

I like Scottish terriers. They're feisty. My Scottish terrier bit my toddler granddaughter. Luckily she wasn't hurt, but it doesn't mean I think Scottish terriers are appropriate around young kids. It is in their nature to be snappish, aloof, and stubborn. Pit bull breeding is even more of a crap shoot.

Do you know the parents of the pit bull you are prepared to adopt? Are you expecting that you can reason with your dogs? I can't reason with my adult children sometimes. What makes you so smart?

Don't tell me you have a big lot and your dogs are fenced in. Dogs get out of yards.

Everyone knows I love dogs. My sister has a pit bull mix. Cool dog but I didn't entirely trust it. Thankfully the dog is more Labrador than pit bull and they have no children and a very high brick wall.

We shouldn't expect animals to go against their nature. A wolf is a wolf. They are dangerous house pets. This is fact. A loaded gun is dangerous. Wolf mix dogs are high on the list of dogs that are dangerous to people. This is fact. Pit bulls and wolf mix dogs can, and do cause serious injuries.

Go to your local pet shelter's website and look at the dogs for adoption. How many adult pit bulls and pit bull mixes are there? When folks are turning in their Chihuahuas in record numbers because they don't want to care for them, can you imagine the difficulties involved in caring for a pit bull?

God bless you for thinking you can make a difference by adopting a pit bull. I don't think you can. There's too many of them, and frankly, you don't know where they've been. If you are scrupulous in your care, and your yard is absolutely secure, you still have to worry if the neighbor's cat happens into your yard.

It is narcissistic to imagine you can change something that you can't. Please don't gamble with my welfare or the welfare of my grandchildren. You may be a saint. Again, I say God bless you. Imagine how many idiots are not like you and they have pit bulls. They have them for protection, or because they want to be big shots. Meanwhile the shelters are crammed with these dogs. When one gets loose all our asses are on the line. Enough already.

Okay, the breed can't be banned but let's be honest about how dangerous they are. If one gets loose all our asses are on the line. Enough already. Let's give up a lost cause.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Accuracy in Media-- Dog Wants Species Change to Cat-- Call Me Politically Incorrect.

I opened my big mouth. In a conversation last night, after coming home from dinner with my wife, daughter, and son-in-law, I brought up the subject of accuracy in media. Actually, I expect I sounded homophobic. I am not.
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are subject to a lot of "different" ideas. Words are charged. Say "Marriage" and one might need to defend an opinion about gay marriage. The prevailing opinion in this area is that gay marriage is a moral right. Forget that. It's not the discussion. I object to the words used to describe certain people.

In an article about a year ago, I read that a somewhat famous male actor had arrived in San Francisco with his "husband" to give a lecture. I find this a dicey use of language. It is the tail wagging the dog in my opinion. First off, are these people actually married in any state? If not, then husband is a term that is inaccurate. If a heterosexual couple live together without benefit of marriage, in California they are not legally husband and wife. That's the law. I don't think anyone would object to avoiding the words "husband" or "wife" in this context. Secondly, in the relationship of the homosexual actor and his "mate," I'm not sure who is the husband. What if one of the two wants to be called the "wife?" Are we subject to acknowledging this? It is so confusing. If they are actually married, the actor and his mate, then really, I acknowledge that they should be accorded the terms generally given to married couples. But husband? I don't know. I'm wondering how accurate this is. Are they husband and husband? Okay, perhaps, I suppose as confusing as it is, and it is somewhat confusing, that it's a accurate portrayal of their relationship.

But, in broadcast media, and newspapers in the Bay Area someone is termed a "she" if they want to live as a woman. I strongly object to the arbitrariness of this. In a recent TV news story, an individual who was transgender, not physically, but emotionally, was called a she though she was born a he. Now, if this person lived as a woman all the time, and was known as a woman to all but a select few, I have no desire that this person should be "outed" for the benefit of our prurient interests. In this case though, this she/he or he/she was acting as an advocate for transgender persons. In other words, precisely because this person was a he acting like a she, we are expected to call him a she. Confusing? I think it is.
What if this person wanted to be an dog. Do we accord them the benefit of being called a "bitch?" I'm not trying to be funny. Really. But I don't think one can just choose what to call their sex based upon their desires. I don't deny that there are gender confusion issues in humankind. I feel compassion for persons who want to live as a sex they are not. I'm not trying to say I feel sorry for them or that they are abnormal. Jeez, see the problem? When an advocate for transgender issues, who was born a male, and who would like to be a woman (without benefit of a procedure which would accomplish that) I still see that person as a male. Sorry. I don't think an individual gets to make that call. And the media is just adding to the confusion deciding who is what because of the subject's desires.
Perhaps this has nothing to do with it, but certain individuals in the world have problems accepting that their arms and legs actually belong to them. These individuals have been known to remove healthy limbs because they just don't feel right. This is tragic. No surgeon will remove their limbs, so they resort to self-help. Are we to call one of these pre-surgical persons an amputee because they wish they were?

I know, a lot of you probably think I should stick to writing about dogs. So here goes.

Missy, a pre-surgical dog-to-cat trans-species wants to be called a cat. The dog, I mean the cat, I mean the cat/dog, once known as Rover lives as a cat in a converted dog house that has been turned into a cat house. Help!

Thanks for the photo Flickr and NumeralSix.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Animal Adoption Stamps-- Why Dogs Hate the Mailman. Why I hate the Post Office.

The U.S. Postal Service doesn't get much right, but the Animal Rescue Adoption stamps are great. Anything that gets the message out about pet adoption is a good thing.
Okay, why am I so critical of the Postal Service?
 I have been employed by them for 33 1/2 years. I am still employed by them, though they will not let me work. I have an artificial disk in my back. They broke me. Now they have told me to go out and get another job. I have an industrial injury. Can't sit too long, can't stand too long. Goodbye, it's been fun.
There is no other government organization less equipped for the 20th century than the Postal Service. Yes, I meant 20th century. Certainly they are not even close to being a 21st century organization. Management is lost. Service is going downhill. I hate what they have become and in general, I don't brag about how I spent my career.

Which brings us to why dogs hate the mailman.
Here's my theory. Actually someone else first mentioned it, but I'm taking credit for the refinement of it. Your mailman comes to your house each day. Your dog barks, acts up, and generally makes a nuisance of himself. The mailman goes away. Your dog thinks he's done a good job. He barked. The threat was removed.
The next day the same thing happens. It's positive reinforcement. Bark-- postman leaves. Job well done. Also how dare that idiot mailman come around after I ran him off the first time. It's a never-ending cycle.

But please. Give your mailman a break. Don't let your dog out on him or her. He has but a split-second to decide if your dog really means him harm or not. It's a panic when that dog comes charging out the door or from the backyard. Then you come out and say, "My dog doesn't bite."
A customer actually told that to my wife after the dog had bit the end of her finger and she was bleeding. If the dog eats, he can bite. Even if your dog doesn't bite supposedly, imagine being in the same situation.
I was laying on the ground one day with a Mastiff mix literally in my face. I fell trying to back away from the animal. My left hip has never been right again. Let your postman or woman do the job. There are thousands of on-the-job dog bites yearly within the Postal Service. Protect your mailman. Protect yourself. Protect your dog. The legal system doesn't take kindly to dog bite cases these days.