Friday, August 31, 2012

Civic Irresponsibility

There was an enormous pothole on the corner of Milden and Water Streets.
This isn't the pothole on Water St., but it's comparable.

Caitlin plunged into it one day when we were walking to the dog park. The pothole was so deep that she was able to get completely underwater. She came out drenched and dripping with filthy black water.

It would have made a wonderful photo, but I didn't have a camera with me.

"Next time!" I promised myself.

A couple of days later we walked to the park again. I had my camera with me this time, and had already turned it on and adjusted the focus in anticipation of a hilarious picture to post on my blog.

Just as we were coming up to the pothole, Lee drove past with his dog, Kaylee, in the truck. He honked and waved and asked if we wanted a ride.

Caitlin went crazy. As Lee drove off, she pulled frantically on the leash and started screaming as though she were under torture. The pothole was completely forgotten. She hauled me the rest of the way to the park at top speed. If she'd been a sled dog, we'd have won the Iditarod.

The next day, the city had filled the pothole.

I was really mad.

Here was a pothole so deep that it had probably already ruined the alignment of dozens of cars and cracked  the axle of at least one school bus, and I was mad because of a missed photo-op.

I still wish they'd waited just one more day.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My House Has Gone to the Dogs

I've found myself in many different positions and careers in my life.  One of the most lucrative jobs was working for a law firm where I was responsible for accounts payable and billing.  That position landed me a job working for one of the largest law firms in San Diego County and a hefty  raise!  Oh how I HATED that job and the stuffiness of the firm.  Eventually, I landed a job working for an accounting firm.  That was jumping from the frying pan directly into the fire.  Eventually, I quit that job and decided to do something that I would love and not concern myself with how much the position pays.

I ended up working at Petco as a manager.  After about 5 years working  in a heavily corporate environment and corporate mentality, I decided to start my own business.  What a brainstorm of an idea!  Now I could incorporate my administrative skills with my people skills and knowledge I learned in the pet industry.  I figured I couldn't go wrong since I wasn't gainfully employed at the time.  If it failed, I lost nothing, if it worked out it meant endless possibilities.

My idea was simple.  I would start a home-based pet service business.  When families went on vacation, they could  bring their beloved pet to stay in my home, or I would stay in theirs.  I also included walking dogs and in-home doggy daycare.

Initially, I had business cards printed and I made my own fliers from my computer.  I would distribute the fliers and business cards to local groomers, veterinarians and pet friendly business.  I kept business cards on me at all times.  I got the brainstorm August 2011 and by October 2011 I hadn't had one call for jobs.  My husband approached me and said I would have to seek a job and give up my idea of starting my own business.  I swear, the day he sprung that on me, I got 3 calls from prospective clients who reside right here in Rancho San Diego.  All lived within a 3 mile radius of my home.  I told him, "I can't give up now!  I think the business is going to work!"

Fast forward exactly one year later, I have over 40 clients, many of which are repeat.  One of my original clients, who happened to be one that called on that fateful day, lives in Granite Hills.  They are a newly married middle-aged couple who four dogs into their home.  Comet, a 16 year old Shitzu, Kobe, a 10+ year old Akita, Tessie, a 15 year old German Shepard/Chow mix and Kacie a Blue Merle Australian Shepard.  My clients referred to their dogs as "The Geriatric Unit". 

Sadly, Kacie the Aussie is the only dog left.  Comet was the first to go from complications from seizures.  Kobe passed a few months after Comet from bloat and Tessie passed about two weeks ago from old age.  I still care for Kacie while her mommy and daddy are out of town and I go to her house three times per week while they are at work to take her for a walk.  Kacie brightens my day and reminds me of her siblings and the fact that life is short and eventually I will have to say goodbye to her and some of the other dogs I have grown to love.

Not a day goes by that I don't pinch myself and realize how lucky I am to have a business doing what I love that's actually making money.

For information on my business and services I provide, please visit my website at

Please, God, Don't Let Me Fall In

Recycling the Poop--the Park Spark Project

This is a diagram of how a dog poop-to-power project would work:
It is the brainchild of Matthew Mazzota.

In 2010, he installed a demonstration methane digester at a dog park in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Park Spark Project.
Dog owners put the poop (in supplied biodegradable bags) into the digester, which then turns it into methane to light a lamp at the park.
There seems to have been a lot of coverage of this in 2010, right after the project started, but I couldn't find any evidence that they have ever been able to expand it to other cities.

A project like this would almost certainly work at Harry Griffen Park. Not only do we have plenty of poop, we have a plenty of people who would put their poop in the digester. Since the park isn't open at night, we'd have to come up with another use for the power produced by the methane.

How much do you suppose such a project costs? I didn't find anything about that on their website.

I Learn About Geocaching--by Caitlin

On Tuesday we did something really fun. It was called geocaching.

Mommy and Daddy and I went to the dog park. Instead of going to play with dogs, we all got into Kaylee's truck. Kaylee wasn't there, but her daddy was. Cindy Lou's daddy and Jack's daddy were there, too. Then Angel arrived with her mommy and daddy, and they followed us away from the dog park.

I didn't think I'd be bored on the ride because I found a whole pile of brand new bright yellow leather gloves on the floor of the truck.

Unfortunately, Daddy looked down just as I was starting to take the first bite.

Each of the daddies had brought a little gadget that they called a GPS. They said it would help them find the geocaches. I didn't see why they needed the GPS's. Angel and I would be able to find anything worth looking for just with our noses.

We wnt to a place called Hollenbeck Canyon.

This is what it looks like:
It was the best place I've ever been. My nose almost went on overload from all the wonderful smells--coyote scat, horse droppings, and some that I'd never smelled before. I also found something dead in a stream bed just off the trail. Unfortunately Mommy came and made me leave before I could complete my forensic investigation of the body. I find her lack of scientific curiosity hard to understand.

Another thing that's hard to understand is why all the daddies were so keen to find the geocaches. Here's a picture of us with the first find:
It turned out to be nothing but a metal box that they called an ammo box. The stuff inside didn't smell particularly interesting and certainly wasn't edible. I couldn't see why they got so excited.

Nonetheless, I'm all in favor of geocaching. It keeps the daddies distracted better than anything I've ever seen. Instead of telling Angel and me not to do stuff, they were busy walking around in circles asking each other whether their GPS was beeping.

Mommy didn't care about the ammo boxes. She mostly stayed on the trail taking pictures. Here's a picture of a hawk that she saw:
I hope we'll do it again soon.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Poop Art on the Loose

Like Andres Serrano, Paul McCarthy seems to be the sort of artist who thinks we need to have our noses rubbed in it.

I wouldn't have known about him, had I not been researching the recycling of dog poop. I'll share what I learned about that in another post.

Here is one of his "crap art" sculptures.
A giant inflatable dog turd that was displayed at the Paul Klee Center, in Bern, Switzerland.

On July 31, 2008, it broke free of its moorings in a gust of wind.

This picture purports to be it drifting across the city.
But since the poop flew only 200 yards, I'm inclined to think the picture was photo-shopped.

The runaway poop balloon put the lights out when it broke a power line. It eventually landed on top of a children's home, where it broke a window.

I would love to have heard what the kids were saying after their house got pooped on.

Personally, I prefer art that uplifts and inspires.

All I have to say about poop art is, "Poop!"
I haven't watched this. I don't think I want to.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mommy Plays in a Puddle--by Caitlin

Mommy did something surprising yesterday.

Mommy and I have started walking to the dog park in the mornings.  It's a 3 1/2 mile walk, so as you can imagine, there are all sorts of interesting things to do on the way--cats who could be chased, other dogs to bark at, so many interesting smells, I couldn't begin to describe them to you. Unfortunately Mommy almost always pulls me away from the really good stuff.

If I get really excited, I like to grab the leash in my teeth. I can chew right through it in about 30 seconds, and sometimes I do. Once when I chewed the leash off, I got to run around without it for a couple of miles, which gave me an opportunity to show Mommy that I can be trusted without a leash. I did everything Mommy said--well, almost everything. There were a couple of dogs who were barking at me and really needed to be put in their place, so I knew Mommy would understand if I couldn't come just then. And Mommy was quite unreasonable about it when I ran across the street. The car stopped, after all!

Mommy doesn't let me off the leash on the way to the dog park. In fact, she keeps an extra leash around her waist, and she makes an awful fuss whenever I so much as start to chew the one I'm wearing.

As you can tell, Mommy is something of a spoilsport on our walks, so I was really surprised yesterday when she suddenly plunged into a puddle on Severin Drive. It was a really good puddle, all black and slimy and smelly and gooey. I wish I'd seen it first!

Mommy needs practice, though. She didn't control her dive, and she landed with an ungainly splat. Where I would have done a graceful slide and roll, she just crashed down, all sprawled out on the pavement. And she didn't even try to roll in the slime--the funnest part of all.

She must have been embarrassed by her poor performance because she didn't try again. She just got up as awkwardly as she'd gone down, and we walked the rest of way to the dog park--quite a bit slower than we'd been walking before--but I guess Mommy had a lot to think about.

She shouldn't let it bother her. Almost everyone does poorly the first time they try to learn a new skill. I hope she won't give up because I'd really like it if we could play in puddles together.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pack Behavior

Since the dog park at Harry Griffen was closed Thursday morning, Lee and Terry took Caitlin, along with Cindy Lou and Kaylee to a dog park in Eastlake.

Caitlin was playing with Kaylee at the new park when a large rottweiler approached, wanting to join in. He had previously been playing with Cindy Lou.

Caitlin growled, bared her teeth, and attacked. She chased him across the park so ferociously that Lee promptly leashed her and dragged her out of the park before she could be thrown out.

Lee is still amazed. "He was a BIG dog!" he said.
I think Caitlin and Kaylee, and maybe Cindy Lou too, were a "pack" at the time of the rottweiler incident. Caitlin has been playing with both of them since she was a tiny puppy. She has been with Kaylee several hours a day since Lee started taking care of her while I worked on the calendar project. Plus they were together at an unfamiliar park, and the rottweiler was a stranger to them, in Caitlin's mind an outsider to be rejected and banished from their presence.

There seems to be a lot of debate over the extent to which domestic dogs display "pack behavior."

A lot, I think.

As do we.

What do you call the behavior of  soccer hooligans, if not "pack behavior?" or the trashing of the lily pond at Balboa Park a couple of weeks ago?

Or the behavior of a group of high school kids who ostracize, or tease, and sometimes drive to suicide one of their geeky, socially inept, or "different" peers?

Put either dogs or people in a group, especially a large group, and they tend to behave differently than they would as individuals, often more aggressively, certainly less thoughtfully.

Pack behavior in dogs doesn't bother me nearly as much as pack behavior in people does.

My first response to stories of mob violence or of bystanders who do nothing when a woman is being raped is always, "I would never behave like that!"

But maybe I would.

When I was 21, against my better judgment,  I signed a petition--a petition with which I disagreed. It was a rant against the organizers of the junior-year-abroad program in which I was a participant. The guy who started it got everyone in our group together, told us all how badly we were being treated, slapped his petition onto the table and announced that we all had to support each other by signing it. Everyone else seemed to be doing it, so I did, too.

I hated myself the minute I signed it, and it has bothered me from time to time ever since.

It revealed a weakness that I didn't know I had--that just like everyone else, I can be swayed by the dynamics of the group--for good or ill. As social animals, we, like our dogs, are almost certainly hard-wired to form packs, with all the benefits and risks that being pack members provides.

One of the few people who didn't sign the petition was my roommate, Penny, a buxom magnet to all  males and a source of considerable envy to my pancake-chested and insecure self. She had the confidence, which I so lacked, to stand aside from the group.

I wonder what would have happened if, in addition to refusing to sign, Penny had spoken out against that petition. According to a 2008 study done at the University of Leeds, it takes only 10 people in a group of 200 to decide the direction of the entire group.

That study dealt only with the crowd's physical movement. Do its findings apply equally to what the crowd does? Whether it loots and riots and smashes windows--or instead goes out and renovates a blighted neighborhood?

Can the same dynamics that cause a group of kids to taunt another kid to suicide be used to make sure they don't?

I think so. We have evolved to be members of packs. Can we evolve far enough to be conscious, thoughtful, and fully human pack members? Or must we remain, as our dogs are, mere unconscious followers of the group? The benefits to all of humanity would be enormous.$politic.html

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Living High on the Dog--by Ctenocephalides Felis (AKA Cat Flea)

I'm a cat lover and also a dog lover, and I like people too, but only for eating.

If you find a flea on your dog, there's a 95% chance that it's me. Although I do have cousins known as dog fleas, they are rarely found in the United States.

Unlike people, dogs satisfy my every need--I live on them, mate on them, and best of all, I eat them. As soon as I see a tasty looking dog, I jump right on--and I can jump a long way. If you could jump as well as I can, you'd be able to leap over the Empire State Building. You wouldn't survive the landing, of course, so don't try it. I may need you as an alternate food source if your dog manages to scrape me off his body.

I was born on a dog (or, more accurately, laid, since I started out as an egg). Flea eggs aren't sticky, so most of them fall off onto wherever the dog is at the time, his bed, the carpet, the dog park--who cares. I can survive almost anywhere in my pupal stage.

Those of us who were really lucky stayed right on the dog. After a couple of days (in ideal conditions) we gnaw our way out with a chitinous little egg tooth and turn into larvae.

Here I am emerging from my egg:

As long as I stay on the flea infested dog, There'll be plenty of food around--flea poop--nutritious as well as delicious!

And to think you call it "flea dirt!"

A week or so later, I spin a cocoon and become a pupa.

And then I lie in wait!

I can wait for a year or more if necessary. When it's warm and humid or I feel the vibrations or detect the breath of a passing dog, cat, or human, out I come!

The first thing I do within seconds of landing on your dog (or on you if no dog is available) is to eat a good meal of blood. Once I've eaten, I become an "obligate parasite," which in flea terms means "suck blood or die!" The biggest danger to me at that point is that your dog will scratch me off.

I can't reproduce until I've eaten, but as soon as my tummy is full, I go looking for a mate: not a problem on most dogs. We'll have lots of sex and make lots of little baby fleas--up to 50 a day for the several months that I will live. Whoever coined the term "breeding like rabbits" obviously didn't know about fleas.

These are a few of my least favorite things:

And some other information about me:

This one is funny:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dogs at Harry Griffen Park--Georgette

All Georgette's days are bad hair days. She was born without any hair at all, and although she has quite a bit now, her body is still covered with pink bald spots where there is no hair or very little.

She is Dennis Strong's latest foster dog from Second Chance Rescue.

The vet thinks her hair problem is caused by a yeast infection which they are treating with medicine and a gluten-free diet.

She also has an eye infection that makes her eyes look sort of gooey and red.

All in all, Georgette is not a physically beautiful dog. Dennis thinks her chances of being adopted are slim--at least for now.

Georgette is like the girls your mother used to try to get you to date when you were a teenager, "but she has such a nice personality!"

And she does! She comes bouncing into the dog park full of life and vitality, eager to play and eager to please. She is so obviously full of joy, so vibrant, so happy to be alive and among other dogs that you can't help warming to her.

Eager as she is to greet other dogs, she is very timid. She approaches each new dog in a high-speed submissive crouch, her knees bent double, her head held low, looking more like a crab than a dog as she hurries up to her new acquaintance.

She needs to love someone. I hope she'll find someone soon who will love her as much in return.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bad Water--by Caitlin

A good rule of thumb (or in my case, paw) for telling good water from bad is this:

If you found the water yourself and went into it voluntarily, it's good.

Good regardless of what your mommy may say! My mommy has no appreciation for water that has an interesting aroma or color, and she almost always tries to keep me out of it.

If your parents try to force the water on you, it's bad.

Daddy sometimes squirts me with a spray bottle for no reason at all when we're riding in the car. He usually does it when I'm standing with my feet on the front console urging Mommy to drive to the dog park faster. As soon as the slightest bark escapes my mouth, he squirts me and pushes me into the back seat. Then he brandishes the spray bottle menacingly if I bark even a little bit under my breath. Water in spray bottles is bad.

The very worst bad water is a bath. Baths are humiliating! Even though I'm pulling as hard as I can in the other direction, Mommy just picks me up and puts me in the tub. Then she makes me sit or even down while she pours water all over me, Furthermore, baths always involve shampoo, which smells unimaginably horrible. She rubs it all over me and then, to make my misery complete, pours water on me again. She says it's to get rid of fleas, but I think it just makes them mad. They're obviously just as anxious to get out of the water as I am because they keep jumping higher and higher on my body as she pushes me down.

Mommy gave me a bath last night. I won't forgive her for that until she has taken me to the dog park at least three times, and by then she'll probably want to give me another bath.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Good Water-by Caitlin.

Water can be either good or bad, depending on context.

Puddles are good. I jump up and down in them whenever we pass one on our morning walk.

Water bowls at the dog park are good. Not only can you drink out of them, you can wash your face and paws. If you wash vigorously enough, you can make quite a bit of mud around the bowl which you can then rub your face in. Even if there wasn't enough water to really splash around, if you at least got your head wet, you can always roll in the dirt afterward. A good way to keep cool in hot weather.

Bodies of water are almost always good. Tiny ponds and ditches are often quite fragrant, plus you can drape yourself in green slime if you dive in and right out again. That usually gets quite a reaction from Mommy. She says I might make myself sick, but I think it just strengthens my immune system. Lately Mommy has taken to shortening my leash whenever we get close to a really nice ditch.

Lakes look nice. I'd really like to go for a swim in Lake Murray, but so far I haven't been let off the leash anywhere near the water. I may have made a tactical error the time I ran out onto Baltimore Drive one morning.  I found a delicious-looking fish right in the middle of the road and was just savoring the first few bites when Mommy snuck up and grabbed me from behind. She has never let me off the leash at Lake Murray since then. (Mommy said the fish was probably dropped by an osprey.)

I really like the ocean, but I don't go in very far because it has waves that actually come after you and try to get you. So far I've gotten away every time, but it's been close once or twice. I can't do my best herding in the ocean. Some of the dogs I herd have so little sense that they'll chase balls right into great big waves clear over their heads. I stand in the shallow water watching and waiting for them to return to a sensible depth before I take up the chase again.

I also like hoses. I like to dance around the stream of water, thrusting my head in and out and catching it in my mouth. Mommy used to let me help her water her potted plants in the front garden, but for some reason she got upset when I knocked a few of them over. I don't see how I was to blame for that. She was the one who held the hose where I couldn't get to the water without stepping on her precious pots.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about bad water.

Dog Park Calendar

Sorry I haven't posted for a couple of days. Rob and I have both been overwhelmed trying to get the dog park calendar ready to print before we go on vacation on Labor Day.

The calendar should be really good. We have tried to get at least one picture on it from everyone who sent photos. We also have lots and lots of dogs birthdays on their dates.

Thank you to everyone who participated.

If you want to pre-order a calendar, they are $13.50 through the end of August. You can find yellow order forms at the entrance to the dog park. You can also buy one by making a donation online at
Near the end of the donation process there will be a line in blue that says "special instructions..." Click on that and specify that the money is an order for one (or more) calendars.

The calendars will be printed and ready in October.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Max was the most popular male dog name in 2012, but not for every breed. Now I'm checking to see whether Max might have been popular in years past. My theory is that although Bella is the runaway favorite as of right now, Max might have proved more popular over time, and that, therefore, the name Max might be every bit as important as Bella.

2011: Max is the 2nd most popular name'll never guess..Bella!

Let's see about 2010..
Oh dear! Max  was at number 3, Bailey at number 2, and at number 1 (drumroll) Bella again.

Now I'll check 2009..
Max is at number 2, behind (you guessed it!) Bella.
If it's any consolation to Max lovers, Max was top cat name in 2009. My theory of the lasting importance of Max as a dog name is not totally trashed, however. According to Veterinary Pet Insurance, it is traditionally the most popular name for both dogs and cats.

In 2008, Max was number 1. He was either number 1 or number 2 back to at least 2003.
When I started looking earlier than that, I started having trouble getting search results for my actual question.

Oh well, I've proved my own theory (at least to my own satisfaction) Here are my conclusions:
Max is a perennially popular dog name.
Almost no one named a dog Bella until Twilight.
My prediction is that Bella's popularity will fade in a few years.
Max will stay in the top ten longer than Bella will.

I've wasted too much time on this trivial pursuit.

Monday, August 13, 2012


The most popular dog names for 2012 are out.
Here is the number one female name for seven popular breeds:
If you have a chihuahua, it's Bella.
If you have a lab, it's Bella.
 If you have a pit bull, it's Bella.
If you have a Shih Tzu, it's Bella.
If you have a boxer, it's Bella.
If you have a dachshund, it's Bella.
The most popular name for a bulldog? I'll give you one guess.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sundown Syndrome

Heidi, the dog we had before Caitlin, used to take my aunt for walks. Aunt's dementia was worsening. She had lost her driver's license a few years before--a terrible blow for her, as she had been a skillful driver, loved to drive, and loved her little VW bug. She never forgave our brother-in-law for having bought it from her when it became clear that she would never drive again. It seemed as though things went rapidly downhill after that.

It soon became clear that she couldn't find her way, even around her own neighborhood, where she had lived since 1965.

The loss of her independence was a huge blow. Another huge blow was her feeling of uselessness as more and more she became unable to do simple tasks. Whenever she tried to help, she would make mistakes--sometimes dangerous mistakes, such as when she set the kitchen on fire by putting a box on on a lighted burner and wandering away.

The best solution we ever found was asking her to take Heidi for walks. Heidi was totally reliable. We could count on her to bring Aunt home, whether Aunt knew the way or not. We didn't have to worry, and Aunt felt that she was performing a useful service.
Heidi at Dog Beach, July 2007

Both of them are gone now, but I will be forever grateful to Heidi for being a wonderful companion to Aunt in her last years.

These days Alzheimer's facilities often depend on dogs to help improve the patients' quality of life. Not only do they give the patients affection and physical contact, they are particularly helpful in mitigating the agitation and restlessness from which the patients suffer, usually in the early evening--hence the name "Sundown Syndrome."

Patients suffering from Sundown Syndrome often become aggressive and uncooperative, making the evening routines very difficult to manage. They are noticeably calmer and less depressed when dogs are there to help.

Toward the end, Aunt was more and more frequently either boiling over with anger or sunk in deep depression.

One evening Mother called, frantic because Aunt had disappeared after an angry outburst. Although Mother had keyed deadbolts on all the doors, she was afraid that Aunt had slipped out and wandered away. We finally found her hiding behind some furniture in the garage.

After that incident, despite Mother's resistance, we finally made the decision to put her into residential care. She was clearly beyond Mother's ability to handle.

She had a fatal stroke the next day.

I now wonder whether, if Heidi had actually been in the same house with her, the last few months of her life might have been a bit happier.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Your Dog Ate What?

A couple of days ago I went to the thrift store to look for a new throw to put in Caitlin's crate because she had started pulling the stuffing out of the expensive pad that she had previously had.

$4.95 for a big grey and white heavyweight throw with a picture of wolves on it! Perfect!

Last night she woke me up at 3:00 a.m. whimpering to go out.

She wanted to walk, so we started off down the sidewalk, me barefoot in a short nightdress. After about half a block she suddenly stopped and did a huge poop that looked oddly grey in the moonlight.

I went back about 6:00 a.m. to pick it up. It was oddly grey.

I pulled her new throw out of the crate. One of the wolves was missing its face. No wonder she didn't eat her dinner last night!

I hadn't checked before because I hadn't seen any shreds of blanket. She never actually ate any of the things she had previously chewed--She'd just scattered shreds and stuffing all over the place.

Blankets don't actually make the top ten list of things that get eaten by dogs. Socks are the number one favorite snack, with underwear and pantyhose rounding out the top three.

Here's the evidence that dogs will swallow almost anything:
This dog won a tug-of-war over the duck.
He went to the vet because he was seen swallowing a golf ball.
His owner wouldn't get off the phone!

Some of the things they eat are scary--knives and forks, for example, but one of the scariest things came as a surprise:
Even a tiny amount of Gorilla Glue can expand to the size of a basketball in the dog's stomach. The story in the first link is pretty graphic:

Maybe I'll let Caitlin start sleeping on the bed again. The coverlet is already pretty well shredded, but at least she hasn't started eating it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Be Careful What You Name Your Dog!

It appears that most of us have given our dogs names that are not only inappropriate, but harmful.

Dogs rarely have dog names these days. They have people names. Max, Molly, Charlie, Lilly, and Jake are all popular. Fido and Rover are almost unheard of.

This is wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Zoe Williams, writing for the Guardian, explains to us that giving our dog a human name is merely an attempt to demonstrate our social status to our peers. In addition, the more we think of our our dogs as human, the less likely they are to do our bidding. Her (presumably obedient) dog is named Spot.
Zoe Williams with Spot 
The damage was already done when we adopted Caitlin. Ignorant of the consequences, we thoughtlessly didn't change the name she already had. No wonder she is so stubborn and disobedient.

What's more, we've ruined her chances at agility by failing to supply her with a speedy name.

According to Melanie Miller, who owns an agility training school, "In agility, especially with Border Collies, you want a name that evokes speed and a lack of control...Something like Pyro or Blast shows people that this dog is a serious competitor."
Does this look like a "Pyro?"
At least her name wasn't Rocky. A survey of dog bites in San Francisco revealed that more people were bitten by dogs named Rocky than by dogs of any other name. In case you're wondering, Mugsy, Max, and Zeke were also highly likely to bite. Fido didn't bite anyone, but that may have been because there was only one Fido registered in San Francisco at the time of the survey. And with a name like that he would have been a good and obedient dog.

How much trouble might we have been spared if only Rob had named his sons Bowser and Tramp instead of Paul and Mark?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Carli Davidson's Dog Photos

I have decided that I am a Philistine when it comes to art.

Like William Wegman, Carli Davidson does interesting and creative dog photography. This image is from her "Shake" series:
She takes the photos with an extremely high shutter speed to record every single nuance of the dog's shaking. I find this scientifically interesting and probably valuable, but as art, I don't particularly like most of it. The ones I do like are those that show the dog looking recognizably like itself.
This is cute. I obviously prefer "chocolate box" photography to actual art. Now that I think about it, I feel the same about writing. I'm not so crazy about the cutting edge stuff. In fact, I took a writing test a couple of days ago on a website I found on Stumbleupon. You submit a sample of your prose, and they tell you what famous author you write like. I, apparently, write like Rudyard Kipling, which probably dates me pretty accurately.

Carli Davidson also has a Pets with Disabilities project that she started after seeing a disabled German Shepherd playing with his owner on the beach.

An interesting person and an interesting photographer. You can see and purchase her work on her website:

Dog Beach

The weather was perfect at Dog Beach yesterday.
Rob and I worry every time we take Caitlin to an off-leash beach. Once the leash is gone, we might as well not exist. She races off in the direction of the nearest excitement and never again so much as glances in our direction.

She quite obviously has a wonderful time.
Our only cause for hope of ever getting her back is that she almost always chooses one particular dog to be her "sheep." She stays within a few feet of that dog wherever he goes, never taking her eyes off him. She becomes so focused that nothing else in the world apparently exists for her--including me sneaking up behind her to put her on the leash.

It worked again yesterday. We still have our dog.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Odie, the Racing Dachshund

A bunch of us from the dog park were there to cheer him on yesterday as Odie crossed the finish line. He ran not once, but twice at the Wiener Nationals yesterday, and he did so with style and panache.
Odie at the Finish Line

The dachshund races were fun. There were cheering crowds, funny costumes, lots of barking and lots of cheering for the little athletes.
Hot Dog with Mustard

A Hula Dachshund

Although a few of the dogs burst out of the starting gate and raced for the finish line, most did something else. Some turned around and went back. Some wandered around on the track. Some just stood there. Best of all, nobody took it very seriously, and everyone had a good time.
No competition in this heat

No irate parents bellowing at the judges. No coaches screaming at athletes who made a mistake. No one making excuses for a loss or gloating over a win.

Lots of laughter. Lots of fun.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if every sporting event were such a source of joy for participants and spectators both.

Odie got a mention in the paper, too. Check out the last paragraph.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dog Days

Like us, Orion was a dog lover. He had two loyal canine companions, the big dog and the little dog, who followed him, even in death.

Presumably he was stuck up in the sky so that Artemis (Zeus's daughter, who loved him) would stop grieving over his death, since she would still be able to see him at night  The two dogs were sent to keep him company.

Since Sirius, the brightest star in the sky (two stars actually--It's a binary system) is in the Canis Major, or big dog constellation, it is called the dog star.
In Roman times (but not now) Sirius appeared in the sky  just before sunrise just as summer was beginning. The Romans referred to the days when Sirius could be seen as "dies caniculares," "dog days" to those of us who don't speak Latin. When the dog days arrived, so did the heat. To make matters worse, werewolves came out at the same time, as well as many other evils. Sirius was blamed for them all. In order to appease him, the Romans sacrificed a brown dog.

Their sacrifice appears to have been halfway successful . Although summers are still hot, the werewolves, at least, are gone.
This is the only reference I could find that links Sirius specifically with werewolves.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dogs at Harry Griffen--The Lonely Giant

Yesterday a HUGE rottweiler came to the dog park. He probably tipped the scales at 200 pounds or more.

He appeared diffident and inoffensive.

He had no interest in dogs near his own size (not that there were any), but kept approaching the smallest dogs in the park.

One of two things happened.

Either, the owner of the small dog snatched it up and carried it over to the small dog side.

Or the small dog lunged at the Rottweiler's face, causing him to back with up, looking confused and hurt.

Cindy Lou (the Aussie shepherd puppy) pursued him so aggressively that her owner leashed her and put her in time-out.

He tried to nuzzle up to Nina, a little spaniel, who barked and snapped at him, although she stopped short of actual pursuit.

A couple of the bigger dogs made tentative approaches. He ignored them.

Finally he wandered off and stood, all alone, staring wistfully through the fence at the little dogs playing on the other side.

He looke exactly like the child who doesn't fit in, standing by himself in the schoolyard. My heart went out to him.

It seems that humans are not the only beings who yearn after what they can't have.

No Heaven Without Dogs

Yesterday I was looking at a site for dog jokes:

Some of the jokes were amusing; some were lame; but I particularly liked this one:

"A man and his dog were walking along a road...
The man was enjoying the walk, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead...
He remembered dying, and that the dog had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them...
After a while, they came to a high white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight. When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother of pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold...
He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"
"This is Heaven, sir", the man answered...
"Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked...
"Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up. The man gestured, and the gate began to open...
"Can my friend, gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveller asked...
"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going...
After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road which led through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book...
"Excuse me!", he called to the reader. "Do you have any water?"
"Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there." The man pointed to a place that couldn't be seen from outside the gate. "Come on in."
"How about my friend here?" The traveller gestured to the dog...
"There should be a bowl by the pump."
They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveller filled the bowl and took a long drink himself then he gave some to the dog...
When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree waiting for them...
"What do you call this place?" The traveller asked...
"This is Heaven," was the answer...
"Well, that's confusing," the traveller said. "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too."
"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's Hell."
"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"
"No. I can see how you might think so, but we're just happy that they screen out the folks who'll leave their best friends behind."

Here's another version of the same story:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fear of Vacuum Cleaner

Rob wasn't quite ready to get out of bed, so I took Caitlin for a short walk. Of course she found a puddle, and of course she had to slosh in it.

There was so much sand in the bed that I decided to vacuum it out.

Caitlin watched me get the little hand Dirt Devil out of the closet and followed me into the bedroom. I expected her to run out of the room as soon as I turned it on.

Silly me! This is the dog who herds German shepherds four or five times her size. She leaped onto the sandy bottom sheet and lunged at the vacuum cleaner, barking aggressively as she bounced around the bed to nip at it from different directions.

I turned the vacuum cleaner off, and Caitlin, satisfied that she had defeated this new enemy, followed it out of the room, leaving dozens of muddy footprints on the sheet to mark her victory.