Thursday, November 30, 2006

The examined life

So, we come to the end of a month of nonstop posting. I'm glad I did it, because I had a lot of ideas accumulated from 8 years of existence and it was good to get them out, but I have to say that the biggest thing I've gotten out of this experiment has been an appreciation of what a horrible idea it is to blog every day. Blogging every day means you have to have something to write about every day, which means that every moment is spent analyzing, thinking, phrasing, and it's so exhausting that you miss the fun of just being. I was so worked up about not having anything to post yesterday that I almost walked right past an abandoned chicken wing! And once I spotted it, I was so caught up in thinking about how I was going to work this into a moral lesson for the blog, I hardly remembered to enjoy it.

Maybe it's because they are so sadly deficient in most of their sensory organs, but humans in general spend way too much time thinking. Particularly overeducated, citified humans like my mom. One of the great pleasures of being a dog is that you can just turn it all off--in fact, turned off is our default. Days go by in smells, and sounds, and veeerrry long dreams full of lambchops and 24 hour off-leash parks, and tummy rubs...and you don't have to think about what each smell means for the future of the planet, or what each tummy rub signifies in the interspecies dialogue. It's good to think about these things every once in a while, but really, I think once a week is sufficient. Constantly thinking just gets you stressed and grumpy and you miss out on having any experiences that would be worth thinking about, that might really produce some good ideas.

So one more piece of advice to the humans out there--one more suggestion from across the species divide: let the ideas, the posts, come to you at the pace that they want. One a week, max. The unexamined life might not be worth living, but the overly examined life isn't living at all.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Everything was me!

What do you know--checking out the Times website and guess who has an op-ed-- not just an op-ed but one of the "most e-mailed" stories--saying exactly what I've been saying about human and animal relationships AND dog parks (okay, so I didn't quite tie them together. But it was implicit). Yes, Mr. Greatest-New-Writer-To-Grace-Planet-Earth Mr. Jonathan Safran Foer himself! Actually, it's a very well written and thoughtful piece, even if he failed to cite me. I'm just grateful somebody is getting the word out.

He notes that by closing off-leash hours (still being debated here in NY), humans further separate themselves from the world of animals. I quote:

"In the course of our lives, we move from a warm and benevolent relationship with animals (learning responsibility through caring for our pets, stroking and confiding in them), to a cruel one (virtually all animals raised for meat in this country are factory farmed — they spend their lives in confinement, dosed with antibiotics and other drugs).

How do you explain this? Is our kindness replaced with cruelty? I don’t think so. I think in part it’s because the older we get, the less exposure we have to animals. And nothing facilitates indifference or forgetfulness so much as distance."

He goes on to say that humans learn from animals that "living on a planet of fixed size requires compromise, and while we are the only party capable of negotiating, we are not the only party at the table." [Brief aside--you are the only party literally "at the table." Everyone else has to wait under the table. The table in itself is anti-animal!]

Hear, hear. And pretty mucher right here--turns out Foer and George (his dog) live around here and are daily visitors to my beloved Prospect Park! I may have sniffed the butt of the dog of the biggest wunderkind to hit literature since...well, since the last wunderkind to hit literature.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Barking in a vacuum?

I've gotten a lot out of blogging every day, and I'm glad I've been able to put my thoughts on paper regardless of whether anyone is reading them...

At least that's what I was telling myself, but then today I read the latest post at about how her dog ran away for a day--no worries, happy ending--and she had over 50 responses (in less than 24 hours!) from concerned/relieved/sympathetic/ empathetic people...and I felt a little sad about my own lack of reader response. I understand that maybe my dog readers don't want to respond because they're nervous that their owners might see that the "helpless" animals getting a free ride on food, rent, and love are actually smarter than most of Congress...but you human dog lover blog commenters, does NOBODY read my blog? (Btw: dogs. You can post anonymously, or as Rover. Fear not.) What about Blue, the cat who used to write? Yes, look how low I have sunk: I am beggging for comments from cats!

Hello? Woof? (I can't believe I'm about to say this) Meow?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Oh those golden years

First of all, a beautiful picture. Prepare yourself, it's very cute, and you may be tempted to go out and kidnap three small children and a dog without reading the story behind it. But there is a story. So: one, two, three:

Still with me?

Now I can't speak for the human puppies, but I am personally responsible for Lindsay the Golden Retriever's continued existence. Were it not for me, those children would be sobbing inconsolably with a picture of dear, departed Lindsay, or trying to play with a hissing cat, or the frozen turkey carcass, or who knows. But I gave Lindsay the will to live.

It all happened the summer before last. I was with mom in California, housesitting for Lindsay's mom and dad (also the parents of one of the small children, I can't quite tell which). I'm not sure how old Lindsay was at this point, but she had given up. If it weren't for a faint, doggy odor, I would have thought she was a rug. The usual combo of arthritis, upset tummy, malaise, lack of appetite, loss of desire to socialize etc... that signals a doggie on her four last legs. On her last side, with the four legs arthritically splayed out on the floor. But I knew that she had two young children who were not ready to lose a best friend, and a dad who was pretty neurotically attached to her too.

There was no way I was going to appeal to her with reason or with gentle encouragement. She would have to be annoyed into action. I began by eating her food. Followed shortly by sleeping on her bed, getting walked while she stayed home, chewing her toys, and protesting vigorously whenever she was being patted. When we did go out to walk together, I made sure to completely tangle her in her leash, and to every now and again "accidentally" step on her tail. She said nothing. She endured. I kept it up. I knew I would eventually find the straw to break the Retriever's back.

Finally, at about day 6, it happened. I was just sauntering by as she lay sprawled out in the hallway, and I made a casual comment about going to flirt with the Lab next door, and she snapped. In the history of dogdom, there has probably never been a recorded case of a vicious Golden Retriever. Saying you've been bitten by a Golden Retriever is about as believable as saying you've been shot by Gandhi. But I did it. Arthritis, schmarthritis, she leapt to her feet and went directly for my throat. (Whoever made up that crap about the Retriever "soft mouth" has never had one tearing for its neck. Probably the same guy who named the softball). She kept coming and coming--if it weren't for my amazing dexterity (and yes, ability to yelp for my mom), my life-giving intervention might have been more life-giving than I had planned. But mom stepped in, and we sorted things out. Divided the house in two and didn't talk for the rest of the week, but the cure had worked. She was like Rosa Parks on the bus. She was not going to take this lying down anymore. She did not want her children to grow up in a world where a Chihuahua could come into your home, eat your food, chew on your bones, and go unpunished. And she never found out it was all part of my plan.

Lindsay, if you're reading this--you're welcome, and in lieu of flowers, please send turkey leftovers!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Peacable kingdom, my hindquarters

I read through the literature that the Jehovah's Witness people brought by yesterday and now I see where the whole discrimination against animals things starts from. Or how far back it goes, at least. So according to this pamphlet, in the beginning of the Bible it tells how God made the world and all the creatures, and everyone got along perfectly and had plenty of food--no scarcity, no predators and prey, no diet dog food. (Accompanied by this obviously photo-shopped picture of lamb and lion nuzzling. Well either photoshopped, or that lamb's very last picture. I hope its family gets serious residuals).

Plus two humans (who, of course, the human Bible assumes to be superior to the rest of the creatures, so complicated that God took as much time to create them as all the other species combined. This for a species that smells and hears about as well as a pile of poop and needs shoes to walk outside.) So anyway, the animals are having a royal old time, and then the HUMAN eats an apple she wasn't supposed to, and suddenly the lamb is in the lion's digestive track and the dog is on a diet. God explains to the humans that suffering and sadness and death and eternal scarcity will be the punishment for their transgression--but who transgressed here? If God wants to smack the humans on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, or make them get sick and die, then fine: he set the rules, they broke them. But what the heck did the lambs and the dogs have to do with any of this? How is this fair?

Don't get me started on Noah's Ark...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dale here:

Have the Jehovah's Witness people noticed the irony of the fact that, at the very moment they knock on my door to hand me (at 9AM Saturday morning) the pamphlet with the beautiful sunny peacable kingdom picture on front, promising an Eden where the lion will lie down with the lamb, they have turned my just-moments-before calm and peacefully sleeping Chihuahua-Corgi into a hysterical, barking mess? It would be hardly less appropriate if the cover of the pamphlet read "Heaven: Where Nobody Wakes You Up at 9AM on Saturdays."


So there's this person that's going to review all the blogs starting with "P" and based on my crack deductive skills, I think tomorrow might be my day. (She did "O" today). So I was trying to come up with a witty yet deep, wicked yet touching, poetic yet direct insight which would totally blow her mind (and make her not notice the two missed posting days, NEITHER OF WHICH WERE MY FAULT!! --see post on Nov. 19 for explanation of missed post on Nov. 18, and Thanksgiving I couldn't post because my mom was at home all day and didn't leave the computer unguarded, plus I was busy plotting ways to sneak into non-vegetarian neighbors' apartments and snatch their turkeys--no luck--and in the process got knocked out from the second-hand tryptophan fumes)...

Where was I? Oh yes, so I wanted to knock this reviewer person's socks off (which reminds me--why socks? Is there something wrong with your pads, people? Or are you just embarrassed by your lack of paws?) but I realized that, in the end, I am a dog, and therefore have at my disposition a weapon more powerful than any discursive strategy. I have....

The look.

Please. Please like my blog. Please.

Come on. How can you say no to that? (My mom sure can't--hence the love handles!)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Well, I just read mom's post, and despite the fact that it's based on more erroneous assumptions about my intelligence and understanding than she thinks I can count (because I'm sure she assumes that dogs can't count)...despite all that, I am touched by the sentiment.

You're welcome, mom. And thanks to you too (although NOT for the Thanksgiving celebration. To all dogs waiting to be adopted: make sure your prospective owners are not vegetarians!)
Dale here:

So I'm a day late with the Thanksgiving-with-a-capital-T (why did I just specify that? I wrote a capital T, didn't I?) post, but I don't believe there's any time restriction on just a regular old giving thanks post. In general I don't quite see the point in directing ones' thanks to anyone but the person/animal one is thanking...I know most people take time to thank God, but it just feels wrong to me to thank God (who I don't particularly believe in, but that's beside the point--I would feel this way even if I did) for my friends, or job, or family...because it seems to me implicit that if God/god is giving me friends, job, and family for a reason, then it is for a reason that all the people who are without friends, jobs, and family in the world are being punished for some reason. And I can't accept that--I have done nothing to deserve my immense good fortune and well-being that they have not. If there is a god/God who doles out such things, then it is according to a logic far beyond what I can understand, and I highly doubt that the familiar rules of "please" "thank you" and "your welcome" probably apply in that logical universe.

So I prefer to thank the people for whom I am grateful directly and knock on wood for the rest.

But, there is one exception. How do you thank your dog? I try to tell Sancha every day, I try to show my love and gratitude for her existence in every walk and biscuit (and I try to balance these out, or else I would have the world's only 150lb Chihuahua)...but it's all of no use, of course. She appreciates the walks and biscuits, I'm sure, but doesn't understand the appreciation that comes with them. She can't know how much--despite the evolutionary and practical evidence to the contrary--I depend on her, am sane because of her, function because of her.

And of course she can't read this blog either, but it doesn't feel wrong to "vent" my thanks here. I can't tell her directly and God doesn't seem appropriate--so I split the difference and found the Internet.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Continuing with my post from two days ago, about things humans would learn about themselves if they took two minutes to look at their relation with animals. This is pretty heavy serious stuff--I'll be thankful and positive tomorrow, but as much as it's nice to stop and give thanks (and eat dropped turkey), humans mess things up so much and then ignore the mess they've created that somebody has to point it out.

So this comes from the book I mentioned a few days ago, "From Baghdad with Love" about a dog rescued from Iraq. The nice part is the dog being rescued from Iraq. The bad part is the thousands of dogs killed, starved, and left to die in Iraq. But even the dogs who are incredibly well taken care of--in terms of dollars spent per paw--are effectively destroyed. Listen to this description of the life and prospects of a Marine dog (used for sniffing explosives, and I guess sometimes for torturing suspects).

"The military working dogs' elite status hurts them in the end. They aren't like other dogs, and since the canine warriors can't simply be debriefed, they have nowhere to go. If a military dog becomes physically unable to perform his tasks in the field--usually when he's about ten years old--a veterinarian deems him "nondeployable"...Many of them are deemed nonadoptable....Nonadoptable. Maladjusted. Apt to attack small children on playgrounds... These are the dogs whose entire lives centered on carrying out orders to perfection, who were so devoted to the military, they obeyed to the death. These were the most faithful, dependable, patriotic dogs of the lot, so they're handed "final disposition" papers and euthanized.."

Okay, obviously that's a crime and an outrage in itself. But for my human readers: HELLO! And you're surprised that soldiers who come back--who are trained exactly like these dogs, to follow orders to the death, to feel no fear, to a life of constant violence and vigilance--don't adjust well to civilian life? Post-traumatic stress syndrome surprises you when even dogs, who are million times more well adjusted than humans, can't handle the military, much less war?

Why do you think Bernese Mountain dogs are so friendly? NO SWISS ARMY!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Someone in Brooklyn city government must have read my both my post about the relative lack of change in the aerial environment (see Saturday, November 11) and the sad state of lighting in the park. The last few days, I noticed strange new lights up in the air, all around the neighborhood. (Dogs don't see color the same way as humans, but we are very sensitive to light. Plus in one spot there was a weird semi-dog-like creature, which, after careful scrutiny turned out to be made of plastic, accompanying one of the light displays. Looked like a Great Dane with the better part of a tree tangled in its ears). Anyway, I didn't pay much attention.

But today, we go outside to the park after sunset and : lights, everywhere lights! It was so exciting and beautiful! I don't know how they did it or why, but between the smells on the ground and the lights in the air, I almost didn't know what to do! I take back my criticism last week of the park authorities...I mean, it still puts my fur on edge when I think of the jerk who drove into the empty (except for a few fellow dogs, trying to get a romp before sunset) park at 4:48and blasted via loudspeaker that "IT IS NOT YET 5 O'CLOCK. ALL DOGS MUST BE ON LEASHES. IT IS NOT YET 5 O'OCLOCK!" Please. Get a life. Go write tickets to the fleas or something if you're so worried about animals off leash that bite viciously. Or at people who DRIVE THEIR GIANT 96 HORSEPOWER POLLUTION-SPEWING TRUCKS ON THE GRASS. If you're concerned about park quality of life, that is. Grrr...

Sorry. Anyway, what I meant to say was that I have forgiven all this. Because some attentive and sensitive soul in the park hierarchy must have read my blog and taken the trouble to illuminate the whole area closest to my apartment so I can see after dark, and not just with boring old streetlights (you've peed on one, you've peed on them all), but with glorious colors and blinks and flashes. Now I can get my snacks, socialize, exercise, and see great art all at the same time. It's like having a gym, a museum, a restaurant, and a bathroom all in one. What a gift... they should create a holiday and do this every year!

Monday, November 20, 2006

My experience of forced detention this weekend brought to mind something I'd been thinking about for a while. I've read--and completely believe--that one of the surest predictors of human adult criminal behavior (and one of the most common elements of the biographies of all serious human criminals) is cruelty to animals. Child psychologists take cruelty to animals as a very serious and important sign that something is very wrong.

Why don't humans realize that their behavior to and with animals in ALL spheres of life is a very good indicator of their larger problems with each other? And that it is impossible to act one way with animals and another with humans. And that it would be a lot easier to fix problems with human society if the very behaviors which caused these problems were not completely accepted with animals?

1) My mother is all up in arms about the Guantanamo detentions, writing letters, signing petitions whatever. Fine. I agree. But then she goes and sends me to the kennel with nary a second thought? And thinks that inventing some euphemism like "doggie hotel" can mask the true nature of this imprisonment? And whenever anybody calls her on it, defends herself with how well they treat me, all the food and toys I have, bla bla bla. True--but irrelevant. All of this can be given or taken away at the whim of a cranky kennel worker, there are no outside observers who can verify the conditions, I have no access to a lawyer, press, or communication with the outside world when inside (see my post from Friday for the lengths I had to go to just to post one lousy, inoffensive blog!) And if those Guantanamo detainees complained about being harrassed by dogs!--try being in a room with a wheezing Pug, a horny bulldog, and a farting Dacshund for two days! If that isn't torture, then I don't know what is!

2) Racism. Humans wring their hands about how to stop it, decry it in public soundbites, protest that they would never be racist...and then go and pay $500 for a purebred dog, have its ears clipped to conform to some imposed standard of beauty, and prostitute it to other "pure" animals in order to pad their bank accounts? Hello? Any hypocrisy here? Don't you think that looking down on a mutt, or a purebred whose tail might Dog Forbid be a millimeter too long keeps those discrimination muscles in practice? I should point out that NO dog--from mutt to Westminster champion--harbors any of these human-imposed prejudices. We do not distinguish between ladies and tramps. But we suffer no end at all levels of doggie society (what do you think it does to my self-esteem to know that my adoption was only half the cost of the "purebred" in the cage next door? If you poke us, do we not bark the same?) There is a woman at the dog park whose dog is half-Basset/half- Beagle--could not be more half-and-half if you took a computer program and merged the breeds like they do with celebrities on Conan O'Brien. And yet, even in the face of textbook Beagles and Bassets who so clearly do not look like her dog--or rather, look like exactly half like her dog--she maintains that she has a purebred beagle (presumably so as not to recognize that she paid $500 for a "mutt.") How can that level of self-delusion and obsession with appearances not spread into other aspects of her life?

Anyway, I'm just saying. Humans: take a look at yourselves. And then at your pets. Compare. Contrast.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

So it's over.

I'm out. Missed the post yesterday (and am down to six minutes in today--hope I can type fast.) But the obstacles I had to overcome! How many of the other bloggers in this contest were forcefully detained, dragged against their will to a place of detention, and kept in a room without access to internet for 48 hours? And even despite all of this, managed to break several layers of security to post from the very computer of their detainees?

I think there has to be some extenuating circumstances amnesty for this contest. I'm going to keep on blogging and bark my case if necessary at the end.

Update: out of kennel, back with grandma and mom, had a great walk and was allowed in several trendy shoe stores, including one in which the proprietors fed me. Plus I found two large chunks of chicken and a hamburger on the way home. Cruel detention largely forgotten/forgiven.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Okay, this has to be quick, because I have snuck into the office here at the kennel (and no mom, you don't fool anyone when you call it the "dog hotel"), just so I could stay in the contest. What a day of ups and downs. The downs you can probably imagine--the kennel? BY MY OWN MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER??! Actually, it's not so bad here, and I've talked to a bunch of the guys and got some input for further blogs.

The highlight of course, was grandma's arrival. I was so thrilled to have the family together again. I'm all in favor of nontraditional parenting arrangements, but there is something to be said for a two-parent unit. You can get one to feed you and then pretend to the other one that you haven't eaten, for example.

Oops, I hear the night shift guy coming back this way...gotta log out. Really, you'd think mom could had least find me a kennel with decent internet access.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A lot of blogs seem to fall into the category of "random thoughts and experiences of their authors." I find these interesting--what is it that prompts people to want to share their random thoughts and experiences with the world, yet not agressively enough to write a book? To put yourself out there, but not necessarily have anyone see you? If it were just to "practice your writing" or "get your thoughts down" or even "record every moment of your child's life"--then why put it online? Some blogs get lots of cool comments and feedback, but most don't. (It's not that I disapprove--far from it, I can spend hours reading these!) What makes someone want to put their diary online?

Anyway, this got me thinking as to why I am blogging, and I realized that I have two audiences. Most of my posts are to my co-canines. We are completely neglected by media, and yet who spends more time home alone than dogs? (Yes, often napping and gnawing on things, but sometimes you've got to take a break. Or go online to order more things to gnaw on.) I want to create a site for dogs--where we could talk about things of interest to us, and share tips for negotiating humans, even start some grassroots campaigns to roll in...I mean to make our voices understood and not just heard.

But I also know that a lot of blog readers are humans, and I feel like I can provide something for them too. Being a dog gives you a different perspective on human behavior. We dogs spend a lot of time learning from humans (sit, stay, bark at Jehovah's Witnesses), and I think it might be time to make this a dialogue. I don't want to preach, just make some observations, and share some of the things my friends at the park have mentioned.

So that's my mission statement, I guess. I have no idea what drives mom to stick her random two cents in every few weeks. Maybe she'll give us a clue the next time she logs in.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

GRANDMA IS COMING! GRANDMA IS COMING! There is nothing quite like a grandma, especially if you are the lone "child" of a nearing-30 single female parent, and ESPECIALLY if that child is the lone child of her parent. I am sleeping up for a weekend of nonstop indulgence.

In other thoughts, I want to recommend a book (for when you break into your owner's Amazon account). I know it's annoying and seems pointless to try to keep up with humans' self-made disasters and suffering, but as you see by the description, their idiocy affects us too. If we want to look out for each other, sometimes we have to pay a little more attention to them than we might otherwise want to.

Here's a description from Publisher's Weekly:

From Publishers Weekly
The news from Iraq keeps getting grimmer, but Iraq veteran Kopelman and journalist Roth (The Man Who Talks to Dogs) tell a tale of radiant joy about Kopelman's efforts to safely transport Lava, the stray dog his Marine unit found in the wreckage of Fallujah, back to the U.S. Though the premise sounds cloying, Kopelman and Roth eschew sentimentality. They don't hesitate to detail the corruption of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the U.S. military bureaucracy or the extreme hardships of the Iraqi people. Kopelman's nagging qualms about keeping the dog in violation of military orders throw into relief his efforts to repress his guilt over working so hard to save a dog amid so much human suffering. Most bracing are the frank descriptions of the war's moral vacuum, where terrified men and women—like the dogs that Iraqi insurgents strap with bombs and send charging into the enemy—are driven to commit unspeakable acts they cannot possibly understand. The story of Lava's journey out of Iraq is exciting, but it's to Kopelman and Roth's credit that it's not nearly as harrowing as the story of what the dog left behind. 8 pages of b&w photos.

Makes me realize how lucky I am to have a nice, safe home (well, safe because I scare all the threatening visitors away, but at least they are unarmed and go peacefully), with lots of toys and food, although let me be clear--I can always appreciate more. (What is this about a dog premise being "cloying" though? Humans...)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I just read mom's post from yesterday--glad my exquisite sense of timing paid off. Of course I would have known she was stressed anyway, what with my super sharp instinctive attunement to emotional cues, but the fact is, she was yapping so much about it all day on the phone and in her e-mails, I would have to be a plant not to have gotten the hint. I tell you guys, there is no substitute for the well-timed day of self-sufficiency and reassuring non-needy presence. I am thinking of writing a self-help book, and this will be rule #2. (Rule #1: you are cute. use it.) I've looked at the titles on the human self-help market, and none of them are even vaguely applicable to dogs. We know exactly who moved the cheese--that would be the owner, keeping us from getting at it. We do not have self-esteem problems--how can you not think highly of yourself when you are a superior species? And we don't generally want to influence "people"--we want to influence that one person who gives us the food and the walks. To that end, here are some tips:

As mentioned, a single day of total self-reliance, properly timed, will pay off in months and months of adoring affection and treats. (Proof: we went for an hourlong walk today, on which I probably ingested not just all four food groups, but most of the periodic table).

Well, now that I think of it, rule #1 pretty much covers everything else. The key is to figure out exactly which of your cuteness traits is most likely to cause your owner to lose all pretensions to discipline or getting work done or keeping you on that diet. I specialize in the "covered by blankets with only tiniest appendage protruding," "soul eyes," and "6-foot leap at doorknob, sometimes even when door is open."

Please let me know what moves you have come up with. Also anything that didn't work (I know, I think I look cute tearing through the trash, but this has proven not to get good results).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dale here:

How does she know?

How does Sancha know that I am sick and stressed and that my applications need to go out tomorrow and the compositions and tests need to be graded and I'm supposed to start teaching a novel tomorrow that I still haven't read and that my throat and head hurt?

How do I know she knows?

I submit the following: she has not even glanced at her blue elephant in weeks, months maybe. During the summer, it has been all about walks and interactive entertainment, thank you. And yet suddenly today she is now going on hour number two of sustained blue elephant kneading, which she interrupts only to glance at me with concern every half hour or so and to lean a little further against my leg. Like she's saying "I'm here if you need me, but otherwise I'm getting along just fine and don't worry, this elephant won't be bothering you any time soon."

It's things like this that make me so nuts about her that I spend my time blogging and not doing all the things mentioned in paragraph one...leading to further stress, leading to further doggie understanding, leading to more blogging...IT IS ALL HER FAULT, DARNIT! I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT A CAT!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I do my best thinking when conscious, so today hasn't produced much. I guess I could provide a public service announcement:

Do not go see "Fur." It is not about dogs or any other furry creatures. It is about some weird photographer lady...might be a perfectly nice movie, but just don't go in expecting it to be about us. (I guess I'm just talking to the Seeing Eye dogs out there, since they're the only ones allowed into the movie theaters. But when it comes out on DVD, everyone else can remember this post and know not to pick it when they break into their owner's Netflix accounts.)

There ought to be some sort of truth-in-advertising investigation about this. There are a lot of movies which seem to capitalize on tricking the dog consumer, putting "dog" in the title despite being a blatantly humanid-centric film. Or worse: being cruelly anti-dog, like "Amores perros." Of course, I, as a Mexican dog, knew that "perros" would be a slang term with negative connotations and that the movie would not be about dogs, but I could see how a slightly less linguistically capable dog might confuse it with "Por el amor de perros" ("for the love of dogs"), and boy would they be in for a tough surprise.

Some other movies to avoid if you are seeking a canine experience:

Wag the Dog, My Life as a Dog, Dog Day Afternoon, Reservoir Dogs, Dogtown and Z-Boys, Dogville, Mad Dog and Glory, Un Chien Andalou.

As far as getting some tips for movies with great dog performances, I refer you to this excellent website:

The author has catalogued every movie which features a dog, plus breed descriptions and sometimes some good background tidbits (e.g. "Three episodes starring a German Shepherd Dog who had to retire early because of an injury. In the third episode there is a border collie.")

Of course, you have to wonder how many of these dogs actually got to enjoy the meats of their labors. If Hollywood ever comes calling for me, there will be a steak-a-day clause written into the contract.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Human life must be so dull! The physical world is constantly changing, and 99% of it happens on the ground. I look up in the air every so often on my walks, and everything is pretty much the same as it was the day before. Trees, benches, buildings--they don't move. The ground, on the other hand, is a different story. The trash, the pee marks, the chicken wings, the leaves, the mud: completely different, every day. And in fall, well every day's walk is like a voyage to a new world. You spend a half an hour just kind of getting to know the leaf arrangement of one block, really digging in, sniffing, tracking, and then the next day: totally gone, replaced with an all-new landscape of leaves and nuts and dirt and pee. You could almost get frustrated, but you just have to take it in stride--nature is infinite and you can never hope to sniff it all, you can only enjoy today's smells and look forward to the wonder of tomorrow's. Sometimes I sit under the blankets at night and almost shiver in anticipation of the next day's walk. What will it smell like?

Maybe that's why humans are always travelling--they have to go to new places because they don't appreciate the part of the world around them that is new every day.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The trouble with politics is that the people who want to go into it--people who are attracted to power, who can fundraise and make speeches and meet with 20 groups in one day and promise all of them something--are exactly the people who you don't want running anything. I.e, the meek may inherit the earth, but then they will give it back because they don't really want to run it. This is true among humans, but even more so among dogs--I mean, one of the best features of dogs is that they have no need or instinct to muck around with "government" and "politics." Life is too beautiful and simple and short for all that, in our opinion. But the problem is that humans--and not the best sector of the species--get to make the rules for all of us. And since they don't even depend on our votes, they don't make the slightest pretense of serving our interests.

So I'm thinking of running for city council. I've read the charters, and I don't see any species requirements. I'm canvassing with the local dogs, getting a feel for our issues. What I talked about in yesterday's post will be a top priority--recalibrating the emergency vehicle sirens to a more canine-friendly register.

Platform #2: what is this with the Daylight Savings Time? Who are there more of in New York City: farmers or dogs? What NY needs is Dogpark Savings Time. I propose that instead of imposing some arbitrary clock time, we declare that sundown is 7pm. Every day. The way it is now, by the time I am allowed off leash at the dog park, it is pitch black and I can't see anything. I get all anxious, I start barking at random shadows which either turn out to be people, who get offended, or, as happened today and was quite embarrassing, on further examination turn out to be large and not even particularly menacing plants.

Without a doubt, our top issue will be freedom to ride on the subway without being stuffed into suffocating, claustrophobic, humiliating bags. I am already planning an ad showing parents forced to stuff their children into Gucci purses, and to leave all of their larger children at home. (I personally would like all men over 5'10'' to have to stay out of public spaces and modes of transport. They are scary!)

Okay, I confess that there was some divisiveness among the electorate about a possible outlawing of squirrels, and I did make some promises I might not be able to keep...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I have called 311 about this various times, but every time I mention that I am a dog they accuse me of prank calling and hang up, so hopefully a web posting will have more of an effect.

According to some study released after some anniversary of 311 (for you non New Yorkers, that's the hotling for non-emergency questions and complaints), the number one reason for calls was noise complaints. In order of annoyance: the Mister Softee truck, car alarms, and barking dogs. About that last one--if I called and complained every time my human yakked on and on with nothing of interest to say, I would burn a hole in the phone wire. But that's not what I'm going after here. My problem isn't with what is on the list, but with what isn't.

Car alarms and the Mister Softee jingle are annoying (although if the Mister Softee jingle increases sales at all, this increases the quantity of dropped/melted ice cream, and is thus, from my point of view, totally worthwhile). Annoying.

The NYPD and NYFD, on the other hand, have chosen a frequency for their emergency vehicles which must have been scientifically designed to hit the most painful frequency in the dog's hearing spectrum. Last I checked, dogs were not the main obstacles keeping rescue vehicles from their calls. So yes, I realize that they need to make their presence known, but why why why must it be at a pitch which launches me--who is not trying to enter an intersection in front of them, or double-park next to them, but is peacefully napping in my apartment--into howling, squeaking, trembling agony? 311 probably wouldn't get so many complaints about dog howling if 911 could drop their own howling a few octaves.

Sheesh, humans. They think they're the only people around here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

With all the country up in a fuss about politics, I thought I'd turn to a truly important subject.

A few thoughts about ears.

There are two good kinds of ears.

1) The individually rotating, hypersensitive, attuned to the sounds of the movement of individual air molecules kind. Left and right capable of full range of independent movement. Used to express Oscar-worthy range of emotions, often in conjunction with tail and eyes. Often, but not necessarily, oversized.

2) The oversized, totally out of control, at any moment at danger of being stepped on, turned inside out, or flopped over head kind.

As you can probably tell from my picture, I am a member of the first group, but I confess that it's more fun to play with members of the second (something to grab hold of). (If you don't belong to either group, that's okay too, I'm sure you can make up for it with your eyes or tail.)

Anyway, it's been raining and I've been sleeping all day, so nothing more exciting to report. I'll follow up with my aesthetic analyses of paws and fur in days to come.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ever have one of those days where you just want to hide in the dirty laundry and gnaw on things?

I have a good bone going, so I'm going to be quick today. I re-read my diatribe of three days ago and realized that I might have come across as anti-bad-pun (I know, I know, "bad pun" is redundant.). Quite the contrary! I just object to the repetition of the same three doggie puns over and over. In the interest of stimulating a renaissance of new dog puns, here's a few attempts.

Who's there?

1) Beagle.
Beagle who?
Beaglad it's not the FBI!

2) Shih Tzu.
Shih Tzu who?
Shit, sue whoever you want, but open the door!

3) Puli.
Puli who?
Puleeeeeez open the door!

4) Pekinese.
Pekinese who?
Peekin' ees one easy way to find out who!

5) Westie.
Westie who?
West easy, it's just a fwend fwom the neighborhood.

6) Collie.
Collie who?
Collegiate loan services. Have you consolidated?

7) Mutt.
Mutt who?
Mutter of god, open the door!

8) Basenji.
Basenji who?
[ ]
(Get it? Basenjis are silent!)

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The problem with posting a criticism of other dogs' writing is that suddenly you feel compelled to produce the Great Canine Novel the next time you log on. Hence my silence yesterday. I figured this 30-posts-in-30days thing was shot, but lo and behold, mom stepped in and decided to post yesterday, not only saving the streak but proving that she remains completely unaware of my net activities. (That Sanchica thingie is kind of cute...I mean, if all my evolutionary complexity has to be reduced to some silly three-step icon assemblage, I suppose it's as good as I could hope for.) Anyhow, her post seemed like the kind of fortuitous continuity which ancient peoples took as a holy miracle...and so I resolve to get "back on the horse" (we dogs have our own canocentric metaphors for these concepts, but I'm trying to use language that my human readers will understand. Apologies to any horses out there reading in the audience).

So, tomorrow is a human election. We dogs see most politics as an unnecessary activity--humans creating unnecessary problems for themselves and then arguing unnecessarily about how to solve them. (Plus I can't figure out this election for dogcatcher that I keep hearing people not endorse candidates for. Sheesh, here's something I have a vested interest in, but does anyone call me asking for my vote? Do I get flooded with campaign literature? Who is this shadowy dogcatcher? And why are dogs being thrown? I'm hoping to have this all cleared up by 2008...) I have yet to read about a war that made the slightest bit of sense to me--I totally understand biting a guy who takes your bone, but how that ends up involving weapons systems, secret detention centers, and millions of other dogs who haven't SEEN your bone, is way beyond me. And in the case of this Iraq war, there doesn't even seem to have been a bone that anybody was fighting over. Still, I have to confess that, at the beginning of the Iraq war, I did feel a quick twinge of ugly satisfaction.

You see, the Muslim religion claims that dogs are unclean. And for obvious reasons, I have a problem with that. I mean, humans have to bathe practically every day just to be presentable, and I can roll in a compost heap and be back to my pristine white-velvet-covered self within minutes...and I'm unclean? I'm sorry, but which species would it be that spends billions of dollars body wash, deodorant, perfume, exfoliators, and bath gel (products tested on millions of innocent and VERY clean thank you animals, by the way)? Which species pees in its own house?

Anyhow, so I admit to initially being slightly satisfied by the attempt to crush fundamentalist doghater regimes. But then I stopped, and realized that I was looking at it all wrong. Why do Muslims think dogs are unclean? It's obvious; because they have never actually had a pet! What the Muslim world needs isn't regime change and violence: it's an emergency shipment of puppies. A puppy for every Sunni, Shiite, Turk, and Kurd. The army should stop mucking around with high-tech weapons systems, and get into the business of adorable puppy procurement. You wouldn't need a draft--we dogs have a very finely honed sense of civic responsibility. Explain the stakes, and I guarantee you that dogs from the Brooklyn dog park to the Santa Barbara dog park will jump, sit, stay, scratch, and beg for the opportunity. An international coalition: German Shepherd puppies, Chihuahua puppies, Shih Tzu puppies. Milkbone instead of Halliburton takes on the rebuilding process. Abu Greib turned into a huge doggie daycare. Instead of an army of our nation's finest, an army of our nation's cutest, friendliest, and furriest. Instead of "cut and run": "cut and GO FOR A WALK!!!"

Call your congressman. Dogs For Peace!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Dale here:

First of all, there has been an inexplicable LOT of Sancha hair between the keyboard keys lately. Very odd. Is she sleeping on my laptop?

Anyway, with the thought of Sancha and laptops on my mind, I saw a cute idea at (a website that is sponsoring a monthlong post-every-day campaign, like the National Novel Writing Month. What a cool idea, too bad I don't possibly have time to post every day.) It's a little online pet. Anyhow, since Sancha can't go online, I though it would be nice to have a little Sancha simulacrum on my page. Their isn't much of a physical similarity, but if you click on Sanchica the eyes follow the cursor much as Sancha's do any piece of food (although the "puppy treats" box would, if this were truly Sancha, have long ago been shredded into unrecognizable filaments).

adopt your own virtual pet!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Okay, before I launch into my thoughts for today, a quick public service request on behalf of my mom.

Has anyone seen her keys?

She thinks she dropped them somewhere in Prospect Park (the Nethermeade section, or on the way there or back), so if you happen to be out walking your owners and spot them, please let me know in the Comments section. I will have to think of a way to let her know without ruining this nice I-don't-speak-English-just-a-dumb-dog farce we've got going here, but I'm sure I can come up with something.

Speaking of I-don't-speak-English-I'm-just-a-dumb-dog farces...well I've noticed that a lot of bloggers spend time criticizing other bloggers, engaging in petty, immature blogosphere catfights (it's a word! I didn't make it up!). I personally prefer to deal with things in "person" (what a hegemonic language, this English), but...I'm going to have to make an exception here. I have just discovered the site Dogster and their "diary" section, and wow. I am really concerned about the current state of education among this generation of dogs.

At first I was excited to see that so many of my fellow canines were writing. Most of my friends at the park have no idea how to use a computer, much less navegate the English characters ("dog" is, contrary to misconception, a fully developed written language, but it uses an ideographic alphabet). So it was great to see that 29,960 dogs had "diaries" on Dogster.

And then I started to read. What is wrong with these dogs? I don't want to call out anyone in particular but let me just cite some anonymous excerpts to give you an idea of the level of discourse we're talking about here. May I stress that these are completely and totally representative of your average Dogster diary.

"Today is my BIRTHDAY!!!...Mommy says that I'm a big boy now, and that I need to take care of my new collar and not chew on it. I'm gonna be a good boy for mommy, and keep it in perfect condition. I love my mommy, she spoils me ALOT! Daddy does too. He took me walking today and it was sooo much fun. He threw my favorite red ball around and I'd bring it back to him. i think they call it playing "fetch". I had a great time!"

Okay, I thought, he's a puppy. But ALL of the blogs were like this. Here's another:

"In the meantime, nothing new has been happening here. It's been windy. So since I'm indoors, I was a bad dog and went shopping with my mom's credit card:) Yup, I was a B-A-D dog I know ::tail goes between legs:: but it's worth it. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do! Desparate times call furrr desparate measure! Besides, she won't find out about my shopping spree until next month's statement!! BOL!! Ok, I need beauty rest... Zzzzzzzz"

And all of these blogs are just treacle thick with the most obvious "doggie" puns--(if I see one more "doggone it" or "fur" instead of "for" I will puke), nobody thinks about anything beyond their daily meals and walks, and everyone has the prose style of a 2 month old. I can't figure out who these dogs are--the guys I know at the dog park are much more intelligent and thoughtful. Maybe that's why they don't waste hours a day writing blogs...

Anyway, I'm still trying to process this shocking reality check about the apparent shallowness of MY beloved species. I know how mom feels about those red state Americans now...

Friday, November 03, 2006

I once read an e-mail in mom's account (man is she predictable with her passwords. Plus the security question for her accounts is often "Name of favorite pet"--my only problem is sometimes I type "me"...) that was ostensibly a letter from a kid in college to her parent, and the kid was saying how she had gotten kicked out of school, was pregnant, had been arrested needed $1,000,000 etc etc...and then at the end it said something like "Just kidding. But I did get a C - in Calculus. Hope this e-mail helps keep things in perspective."

So along those

It's been a bad day.

Just kidding. But I did get into the Iams. Hope this helps keep things in perspective.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day two, going strong.

Actually, I have some sad news and thoughts for today. Wookie, one of my good friends from the dog park, passed away this week after a very sudden illness. I know it might not have seemed like we were that close--the whole completely ignoring each other punctuated by occasional snarling thing--but I greatly admired and respected Wookie, we had a lot in common, and I learned a lot from her. She was truly the most food-obsessed dog I have ever seen, and let me in on some of her best begging techniques. I will never forget the day she overcame all of her devotion to her mom, her love of the park, and her desire for a life of ease and minimal physical exertion to escape from the park for over an hour in search of the sausage guy at the farmer's market. A lesser dog might have settled for any food stand in the farmer's market. But Wookie (as we found out when the sausage guy called an hour later) knew what side her sausages were buttered on. And where. She was the master of the UNICEF poster dog look, a pioneer in the passive school of begging (in fact, that sit back on haunches and slowly tilt head at 45 degree angle move is, in many Brooklyn circles, simply known as "the Wookie"). It was a wonder to see an animal with a devoted owner not two feet away, a luscious thick picture of health coat, and a stylish collar with full array of personalized tags...who could, in less than 30 seconds, convince the stingiest of treat-bearers that she had never been fed, ever. I hereby resolve to carry on her legacy.

Wookie, I know you are fine, happily eating heavenly sausages, but I send my sincere dog-love to your mom, Diane, who must be going through a very rough time right now. It's sad that the moment when you most need a dog to cheer you up is the moment you no longer have one. If you come by the dog park, I promise to sit in your lap and do my best Wookie impersonation. It would help if you brought sausages.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

So it's been a long time...Ever since mom discovered this new logic puzzle site, it's impossible to tear her away from the computer. But I've taken matters into my own paws, and this month, newly motivated by the National Blog Posting Month campaign (see, I resolve to turn over a new leaf. Even better: to go to the bathroom and then with my hind legs kick up a whole pile of new leaves...right into mom's face as she leans over to pick it up. Gosh those humans have a slow learning curve.

Anyway, I've been storing up lots of thoughts these past weeks, which is good because I'll need some backlog to sustain 30 consecutive days of posting. (Most of these thoughts take the form of "mmm! chicken wing! dropped within a 50-sq.-ft. vicinity! Find! Seek! Devour!" but I checked the NaBloPoMo rules and there's nothing against repetition.)

Anyhow, I thought I'd start off with something a German Shepherd friend of mine told me at the dog park. Now as a Corgi-Chihuahua mix, my native languages are of course Welsh and Spanish (plus I picked up English so I could understand my mom), but I have to confess that after this conversation with the Shepherd, I am pretty convinced of the superiority of the Germanic family. I think we can all agree that the value of any language, and by extension the culture in which it developed, can be measured by the similarity of the verbs "to be" and "to eat." English: pretty close, one syllable each, an "e". Spanish: not so great, both -er verbs (ser, comer). Welsh: bwyta (eat) and bod (to be). Both start with "b".

Now get this: to say "he eats, therefore he is" in German?

Sie isst, deshalb sie ist.

Yes, in the land of schnitzel and braten, they are one and the same (at least in the 3rd person singular). Now if that's not a culture that has its priorities straight, I don't know what is.