Thursday, September 11, 2008

Politics is for the dogs

So my mom's employer, Columbia University, hosted a non-debate for both the presidential candidates to get their views on public service, and I convinced my mom to go because I wanted to hear what the candidates had to say about benefits for military and police dogs, starting programs for pet therapy and service animals, and also the role of community organizers in getting better off leash rights. They had a big screen outside on the lawn in front of the building where the actual interviews were taking place (only 200 or so lucky students got to go into the building, and my mom is fairly lucky but not a student), so we grabbed a nice patch of lawn and settled in. If you've read my previous posts, you know I'm pretty strongly in the Obama camp, but I approached this with an open mind (and an empty stomach, which was tortured by groups of pizza-scarfing undergraduates). Here's my thoughts:

1) NO mention of any of the above animal public service issues by either candidates. Typical, media-driven neglect of the issues that really affect most Americans.

2) America's college youth are REALLY into this election and overwhelmingly into Obama. I think the entire university was out there, clearly more people than they were expecting--the entire lawn was jam-packed (I had to rest my chin on the lap of total strangers!) and the crowds spilled out the gates, up all the building steps on the quad, plus you could see throngs in the windows of all the surrounding buildings. They claimed that McCain went first based on a coin toss but I'm pretty sure it was fixed to avoid a mass exodus at the halfway point.

3) As much as America's college youth are into Obama, America's college youth are even more into dogs. I inspired WAY more attention, interest, enthusiasm, praise, and affection than either of the candidates, by a long shot. If the election had been right then, I am sure I would have won by a landslide.

Which got me that constitutional age requirement in human or dog years?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Dale here:

I haven´t posted in a while because I was away in Spain (yes, yes, they do have the "internets" in Spain, but somehow I felt a little guilty posting to my blog from the National Library, which was the only place where I could get free wifi). And while I would love to recount exciting tales of Iberian adventures, the truth is I spent most of my non-archival time in Spain sitting and sadly staring at other people's dogs. Occasionally attempting to pat them, but it Spanish dog etiquette is very different; as I realized after a few dirty looks, asking to pat another person's dog in Spain is about equivalent to asking to touch their husband. Frowned upon, except for a few very swingin' communities. Sancha dearest was at my mother's, in Los Angeles. Then when I got back to New York there was a whole 4 days while I attempted to wrest Sancha from her grandmother's clutches. By the time she flew in (yes, by herself--big props to the Continental PetSafe program) to Newark Airport, I had been dogless, and much worse, Sanchaless, for a month and a half. I would describe the scene at the airport, but I think a video is worth a thousand words. It was like this:

Monday, June 09, 2008

Greetings from Lala land!

Hey all,

I saw the news of the East Coast heat wave: boy did I get out of there just in time. I´m with my granmda, chilling in the Edenic microclimate of Culver City CA, checking out Backstage and Variety for dog auditions, and benefitting from my status as only grandchild (a status to which I have in no small part contributed, by refusing to cede key portions of the bed to occasional boyfriends).

As blissful as it is out here, I have been thinking about deeper things. A post at a fellow part-Corgi´s blog (hi, Wally!) finally motivated me to put some thoughts down about the current state of human political affairs. First of all, let me congratulate Wally for encouraging the sort of intelligent, intellectual canine discourse that is lacking on so many dogblogs (I really suspect that the owners are writing those inane blogs and just posing as their pets. I have never met such retarded dogs, and with such poor spelling) and starting It´s a new site, but I´m sure it will be filled with lots of interesting thoughts soon. Here´s my two cents.

Like many Americans, I was initially torn about who to support in this election. My principal concern in a president is not race or gender, but rather who will have the most positive impact on this Earth. And by Earth I mean the planet and all the creatures on it. And by creatures I mean dogs, humans, and everyone else. (Even cats. Although I may wish to form a task force to study that issue further.) I was going to analyze all the candidates´ voting records and speeches, but my mom did it for me and assured me that Obama was the candidate least likely to really screw up the planet. Which made me very happy, because, as a "mixed breed" I feel an innate sympathy and respect and even pride in Barack Obama´s achievements. But even beyond that, I think that his mixed race heritage is an actual asset.

Purebreds don´t have to think long and hard about who they are, they don´t have to recognize many of the injustices in a society dominated by segregation-era, Kennel Club institutions, they don´t have an innate compassion and understanding of the outsiders in America. They identify with the $2000 dogs adopted at 8 weeks, not the shelter dogs and strays. Trust me, a Chihuorgi, or a Corgador, or a Pit Basset, or a Kenyan-Kansan would NEVER have been on vacation while Katrina was destroying New Orleans, would NEVER have presumed that Iraqis think and act exactly like New England Champions. And would NEVER have let them restrict the after-5 pm off-leash hours in the park. (OK, that one might be beyond the scope of presidential politics. But a girl can hope.)

There are some great purebreds out there, who transcend their own legacy of privilege. But they´ve had the leash for 232 years in this country. Enough with the putz! In with the mutts!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

From the hands of babes

Yesterday was my second favorite day of the year (coming only after the Tuesday after Labor Day), thanks to the combination of American national pride and propensity to litter which bears fruit--or rather bears chicken--on a few major holidays. Pickings were even better this year than usual, I guess because people didn´t have money to pay for those trips to the Hamptons (although I doubt most Flatbush residents have houses in the Hampton) or the beach or wherever. Anyway, EVERYBODY was at the park, and EVERYBODY was eating chicken and hot dogs, and HARDLY ANYBODY was using the trash cans. Heaven.

But the story I wanted to tell isn´t about a discarded bone I found scattered in the grass, or a random scrap of meat which some human had somehow lost in the hand to mouth trajectory. These are the orts (has that word ever been used in a non-crossword puzzle context before?) that adult humans deign to leave me, and only when I can get them before my mother attempts to get them back. And even that is less humiliating than the "generous" folks in the dog park, who give me tiny, dessicated pieces of synthetic Chinese-factory-waste cardboard, and only after a whole ritual where they ask my mom if I can have them and try to get me to jump through hoops and then make jokes about my weight. I had assumed that such stinginess and cruelty was innate to humans, but I was reminded that this is a learned behavior by an encounter with a little girl in the park on Saturday.

This little girl, maybe 3 years old, was walking with her mom, a few feet away from the family barbecue. To be honest, I was distracted by other smells and didn´t even notice that she was carrying a fresh-off-the-grill-and-into-the-bun hot dog. So I was ready to walk right on by, when this little girl just spontaneously--no asking mom "can I give him a treat?", no cutting off a tiny little piece, no throwing something into the grass and making me root for it--removed her entire hot dog (not a bite taken) and placed it gently in my mouth. And then before I could thank her, or get her address so I could mail myself to her, went on her way.

There is kindness out there. I know sometimes it seems dark, but I wish for all of you that when you need it most, you get your unbidden hot dog--or whatever the equivalent is for you. And don´t forget to be the little girl sometimes too.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another poem

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And sniffed down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one more traveled by,

For the woods may be lovely, deep, and dark
But I prefer the well-worn park
And I´d give up all the silence and all the view
For one leftover crumb of barbecue.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Waxing poetic

Not that I think my observations on this blog have been prosaic, but I thought I´d mix it up with a little verse. Here´s a canine take on an Emily Dickinson standby.

Hope is the thing with feathers.
Faith is the thing with fur.
Love is the thing with paws.
Bliss is the thing with feathers,
but without the feathers,
and batter-dipped and fried.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Circuit City´s 2-Year Warranty

So it´s been a while since I´ve posted, but this time it wasn´t due to spring, forgetfulness, or indifference. Al contrario, I have been raring to post, but my computer was sequestered by Circuit City. Apparently a shifty-eyed man claiming to work for Circuit City gave my mom a paper promising that the moribund computer would be fixed within days. Then, that date having come and threatening to go with no return phone call, much less a returned computer, it became apparent that Circuit City a) has a Derrida-ean "constructed" understanding of the term "promised by" and b) does not know how to operate their own phone system, much less a computer. I listened as my mother spoke to people in 2 continents and every single department of Circuit City EXCEPT the computer department in tones ranging from desperation to fury to aphasic sobs. Weeks passed, our only contact with the computer came through a FedEx number wrested through hours of negotiations which revealed the computer to be making journeys across the country, returning to Brooklyn every few days but leaping off to new and better pastures whenever my mom hurried to try to sweep it away from Circuit City´s porous clutches. Apparently the Circuit City "2-year warranty" refers not to the amount of time the computer is covered for repairs, but rather the length of time that a single repair takes.

So it took a month. And then, to add insult to injury, when they finally sent it back, do you know what they had the gall to suggest had been the problem???


First of all, I´m denying everything. How do they know it was "pet" hair? And even if it was, how does that immediately implicate me? Because I´m the only "pet" (and I reject the term) here? Circumstancial. Do they have eye witnesses who can testify that no other pet entered this apartment in the entire 2 year period my mother has owned this computer? And, as they say in Spanish legal circles, caso negado que fuese--how long have I been telling everyone who will listen that if they made a dog-friendly keyboard, I wouldn´t be forced to thwap my paws all over the keyboards trying to type, which in certain circumstances could conceivably and completely justifiably cause a few hairs to slip between the keys!?!?

I´m shedding just thinking about it. I´d better stop if I want this post to see the light of day.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sopapilla, my ass!

Wow. I just read mom´s last post. She has really lost it. Sometimes I think I should just quietly walk away...I tell myself she needs me as her last tie to sanity, but when I read posts like that, I wonder if I´m not just tipping her over the edge.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Food made useful

Hello--Dale here.

So it´s been a year or more since I´ve posted, which is pretty much par for the course for me for any sort of writing project or long distance communication. If anyone out there who I haven´t written in a year is reading this....sigh. I should be writing you right now. Instead, I am wasting embarrassingly large chunks of time with my new hobby, which for some reason I find endlessly entertaining: calling my dog all sorts of exotic food names.

First of all, let me make it clear that I am the farthest (furthest?) thing from a foodie possible. I don´t find food to be particularly a source of pleasure, and the foods I do like are individual ingredients--I am a strict segregationist in the kitchen--and once I find a food I like, I am more than happy to eat that food every day for the rest of my life. So, in other words, I am not big on the exotic complicated foreign dishes (to my great dismay, because I desperately want to be culturally open and adventurous).

That is, I wasn´t big on the exotic complicated foreign dishes until I discovered their true use--nicknames for my dog! I´m sure you all have pet names for your...well, pet, but I bet that you make do with a few standbys (¨Fluffybutt,¨ ¨Waggles the Wondermutt,¨ blah blah blah) which have long lost their sparkle and now just serve as substitutes for the regular old name. Most of the joy of nicknames is inventing them, and the fun ones to invent are both linguistically pleasing and in some way represent the essence of your pet. Well if your pet is a small, solid and spunky--boy are you in luck! You see, every culture has their own dense cheese/meat-wrapped-in-starch concoctions (note to self: restaurant idea!). Go ahead, read the following out loud in the vicinity of your animal and try not to smile:

"Whose my little potato knish?¨ ¨Who´s my favorite gnocchi?" "Come here my sweet chalupa." ¨That´s mommy´s pierogie!" "Who´s my empanada?" "Gooood pan-fried dumpling!" "What a sopapilla!"

Go on, scoff. You know you´re going to try it...or immediately order take out.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Orthographic reform

Perhaps one of the reasons more dogs don't blog is that the human keyboard is not designed for the larger or furrier paw. A Newfie or OES is pretty much going to have to get someone to help out with the typing, and since they can't confess to their owners their full comand of English (or whatever language they grew up pretending not to speak), they either have to hire a smaller-pawed dog (and if there isn't one conveniently in the household, it's awfully hard to manipulate your human into letting in a random Chihuahua every evening for an hour or so) or succumb to hegemonic silence. Obviously the only solution is a new, non-anthropomorphist keyboard, but until we dogs manage to take over the Dell plant (and it's so hard to coordinate these takeovers without the damn computer. Talk about about a perfect system of oppression!), I have a temporary solution. Humans, in fact, have already developed this to adjust to the difficulties of typing with their weird spindly fingers on cell phone and Blackberry keypads.

If you read human blogs, you're probably already familiar with LOL, BTW, WTF, and ROFLMAO, to name a few. What we dogs need is some acronyms which properly express our own common sayings. BTW is fine, but LOL, for example, makes no sense in dogspeak. We don't laugh out loud. We bark, but BOL is redundant--what is the point of barking to yourself? To express amusement, I propose TMHTTS--tilting my head to the side. WTF is okay for anger/annoyance, but I think a more canine-accurate expression would be FSOE--fur standing on end. As for ROFLMAO, we have the laughing problem again. I've seen plenty of dogs ROFWTB (rolling on floor wiping their butts), ROFSTHTSS (rolling on floor scratching that hard to scratch spot) and ROFDATR (rolling on floor demanding a tummy rub), but I can't imagine too many instances where one would need to communicate these to the reading public. Any suggestions from the doggy public for a better substitute?

Finally, we definitely need a quick, convenient way to explain the abrupt end to a post, extended posting silence, or shift into unintelligibility. Teenagers have POS (parent over shoulder)--we have HCH (human coming home).

I'd love to read your comments--those of you who can fit your pads onto the keys. Hopefully we can work out a solution for the bigger breeds soon, but hopefully this will make it easier for those of you on the cusp.

OK, TAFN, BTYL (bark to you later)!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Where does the time go?

So apparently I got distracted and suddenly a year and a half went by without me posting. That´s the thing about dogtime--the whole 7:1 year ratio gets a lot of press, but really dog time can´t be mapped onto human time. Sometimes one human year is seven dog years, and sometimes a year and a half in human time goes by in the time it takes to chew a good bone and catch up on the neighborhood smells. I´m sure I´ve lost all my impatient human readers by now, if I ever had any. Dog readers, if you feel like it, you might give your owners a wet nose in the ankle (kneecap or crotch, depending on you altitude) to let them know that I´m back online, although if my owner is typical, they will just misinterpret the whole thing and, depending on their mood, either find it adorable, a sign that you need to go for a walk, or go off on some tangent about how they have work to do and those are new pants...I don´t know, I never listen past the first part. But whatever, I´m not writing for the humans.

I´ve complained here before about the anti-dog policies of the New York subway system, but don´t even get me started on airlines. Rosa Parks complained about having to give up her seat on a bus? I´m all for the civil rights movement, but hello? Imagine if she had to get stuffed into a bag, or locked in an unventilated, unheated, luggage compartment? Grrrr...gets my hair up just thinking about it. But my point here was not to focus on the negative--nope, I think I may have found the solution! Check this out, from the London Telegraph:

"An Australian paraglider and his pet chihuahua were left dangling from a tree more than 100 feet above the ground after a joy flight went horribly wrong. Paul Hansen, 42, strapped four-year-old Emma to his chest in a simple cloth sling and launched the paraglider from Warburton, near Melbourne, about 5pm Friday, but became entangled in a tree shortly after take-off."

Okay, so clearly it didn´t work out quite as planned, but I see no inherent structural problem--especially since my mom is surely much smaller and more aerodynamic than this Paul Hansen guy (and why would I need to bring her anyway? Maybe I´ll just go paragliding on my own and leave HER in the kennel!). Anyway, if this doesn´t fly, as it were, do I hear any support for a walk on Washington? And this time, the leashes are off!