Bringing Up Pup

I run into some of the same people every morning on my walk from the Civic Center subway station to the office. I walk on the same side of the street because it’s cleaner than the other side. I’m also a creature of habit. And so are a lot of people I’ve discovered.

For the past two months I’ve encountered a man walking his Welsh Corgi pup. The dog is so beautiful he looks fresh out of a dog fancy magazine. Just looking at him makes me smile. I can’t help it. Like the Queen, I’m a sucker for a Corgi. I love the breed.

At first the six-week old pup didn’t have a clue how to behave on a leash and dashed in all directions all over the street with part of the leash in his mouth. I stopped and told the owner what a gorgeous pup he had. He grunted.  Welsh pup

Every week in the mornings I’d see them together and every time the pup wriggled and mouthed his leash. Mastering a straight line wasn’t in his arsenal of behaviors. And why should it? He’s a herding dog, and if you must put him on the street, he’s going to herd people.

On my way home one afternoon I saw them. I stopped and petted the beast.

“You’ve made my day,” I said.

“I’m glad we could do that for you,” the man said with  zero expression.

This has continued for two months. Each week  the dog gets bigger and more confident on the leash. Gone are the zigzag walks, sort of, and the munching on the leash, but now he strains and pulls out in front of his owner. What can you expect in only eight weeks?

This morning on my way in, I saw them coming at me as I crossed the street. I smiled. But this time the man smiled back.

Now that made my day.

Calvin says, “I’m hurt. How could you? That mutt has no nose like mine, doesn’t bay, and lacks the character that I have. What are you saying by this?” beagle

 

 

A Walk on the Wildside

I’m allergic to exercise.

If I can use an excuse, I will.

But this week Alf talked me into a hike.

He promised there would be lots of trees, a gurgling creek and I’d be kept busy with the camera.

You have to know, I don’t do hikes. The best I can do is a walk around my neighborhood.

I reluctantly agreed.

The minute I stepped out of the car I knew it would be okay.

The weather was cool – that’s a big plus – it wasn’t crowded – another plus – and it wasn’t uphill – that was huge. I don’t do hills either.

So off we went through an iron gate and into magnificent scenery. The blue of the sky hurt your eyes it was so vibrant. The trees showed off tender green leaves and white blossoms. The creek ran the entire trail singing it’s song by the side of the path.

IMG_0427An added bonus was the parade of dogs enjoying the walk alongside their owners. We saw French Bulldogs, Labs, Border Collies, Boston Terriers, German Shepherds, and an assortment of well-loved and well-worn mutts.

We found out you can’t let a French Bulldog off-leash because he won’t obey.

We noticed the Boston Terriers were on leash, too.

The other breeds were well behaved and would come when called.

That’s what you need on a hike, otherwise the area would be populated with dogs along with the cows and horses and in no time you’d have a howling wilderness.

IMG_0341We almost crushed a baby rattle snake wiggling it’s way across the path to the other side. Alf found a stick and picked it up, but quickly he jumped back. Small didn’t matter. That thing was coming after him. He dropped it to the ground, took a deep breath, and tried again. This time he was able to dump it into the tall grass and saved its life.

IMG_0324

All in all, I enjoyed myself.

Alf was relieved.

It made him hope I’d be willing to try another hike.

Maybe in another 10 years.

Calvin says, “Those French Bulldogs have character, like Beagles. Obeying is boring.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now We’re Talking

Today this post is written by my guest blogger, Calvin.  beagle

He pushed me off the desk chair, hopped on and began pounding at the keyboard.

Words appeared on the screen at lightning speed about this year’s Westminster Dog Show winner.

It’s about time!

It took seven years for those bozo judges to recognize the fact.

Beagles reign!

Miss P, a four-year old beagle, showed them a thing or two by beating out the rest of the beasts at this year’s Westminster Dog Show.

Miss P

The beagle race has come out on top!

Of course any self-respecting beagle, from a low-life to an ultra snobby one knows that.

It just takes the human race to catch up.

Boy are they slow.

In 2008 the winner was Uno, another beagle who took the ribbon and trophy.

You’d think the dog community would sit up and realize their other breeds can’t reach such rarefied levels of distinction as us beagles.

We’re bright, enthusiastic, eager, friendly, and oh so cute.

We’re also independent, undisciplined, and resist training.

Puppy training school is for other breeds, not us.

We love children, lounging in bed, and a good hot breakfast.

Don’t expect us to play catch, that’s for the others with no brains.

We don’t retrieve slippers, sticks or please don’t have us go after a tennis ball.

However, wave the scent of a fox in front of our noses and see what happens.

You’ll need ear plugs.

I am doing my beagle dance today.

I’m in love with Miss P.

What a face! Those big, beautiful brown eyes, that silky coat. My heart is thumping.

She’s a beauty!

If I could, I’d buy those judges a beer at the local pub for their good taste.

Finally again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing Up Kate

We just returned from our annual trek to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

They’re dumbing down Will. In an effort to appeal to a younger generation, this year they’re serving up The Taming of the Shrew in a boardwalk setting with the cast in 50’s diner costumes and a live band on stage.

Petruchio, wearing Elvis hair and Country-Western garb, struts and swaggers his way into Kate’s life, with the help of her father, and begins to deconstruct her until she’s a pliable and submissive bride.   Screen shot 2013-05-11 at 2.46.42 PM

His tactics? Starvation and sleep deprivation.

Okay, it was the way Will wrote it, so nothing new here.

Underneath the tantrums, Kate sees the shallow lives around her. She’s smart, quick witted, capable. She isn’t going to settle for stupid. But there isn’t a man worthy of her. The suitors that come courting are besotted with Bianca, Kate’s sister, who personifies a beauty as airy as meringue.

In contrast, Kate is a ferocious woman. No doubt prompted by her father’s lack of affection because he too favors his younger daughter. Nobody that comes to woo Bianca is Kate’s type.  She would squash them like bugs. What Kate needs is a man, not a limp fashionista.

Petruchio rises to the challenge. He is confident and determined. He takes Kate to be his wife and disciplines her so she grows up to be the woman she is meant to be.

It’s an interesting story for today’s young audiences who have been brought up on reality TV with all its raw vulgarities and blurring of the sexes.

Traditional values between a man and a woman still play well.

Deep down we resonate with it whether we admit or not.

Calvin said, “I would have used other ways to mature Kate, like licking her face and rubbing my nose in her hair.”  beagle

 

 

 

A Little Drama on an Ordinary Walk

sudden breeze –
the dog sniffs the hisses
of a rattle snake

 

Calvin says, “Hey, that’s me in the poem. I remember that day well. We stood overlooking the creek, in tall grasses, poppies blooming, puffy white clouds in a periwinkle sky, but I wax poetic. It was more rustic than that. All of a sudden I hear a rattle. I freeze. Every nerve in my body is on alert, ready to respond, to sniff the intruder, and then bay my guts out. I have the victim in my sight. Who cares that he’s slithering straight at me, flicking his tongue, and rattling furiously. This is drama. This is adventure. This is what I was made for. You spoiled it by screaming and yanking me away.”

“I saved your life,” I said.

“You killed the joy.”

“You’d be a dead dog,” I said.

“I’d have gone down smiling.”

“I’d have gone home crying,” I said.

“Aw. You do love me.”

How To Make Spaghetti Sauce With Your Dog

Alf and I went to the organic food market to find sun dried tomatoes without preservatives. We found them high on the last shelf. You needed to be a giraffe to spot them. Imported from Italy, of course. Why can’t Americans do this? Meanwhile, there were plenty of other brands on lower shelves within easy reach. Those were floating in olive oil and chemicals.

“That reminds me of a story when I was a child,” the clerk at the check-out said as he bagged our purchase. “Our Pekinese had a fascination with the tomatoes my mother grew in the back yard. Every summer one by one he’d pluck off a ripe tomato and deposit it in the back yard. He did this until all the tomatoes were off the vines. My mother found them shriveled up in the sun, and that’s how we made our own sun dried tomatoes.”

“Hey, you know, that’s not a bad idea,” Alf said when we climbed into the car. “Can we train Calvin to do that?”

“It’s got to be his idea.”

“We could make it his idea,” Alf said as we pulled out of the parking space.

“How do we do that?”

“We spray the tomato plants with some irresistible odor that will drive him wild and he’ll attack the tomatoes.”

“Calvin doesn’t have a dainty mouth like a Peek. He’d snatch and smash,” I said.

“I could train him to have a gentle bite,” Alf said.

“His jaws would crush everything. You’d have spaghetti sauce instead.”

“Hmm. We do have basil and oregano growing…”

Calvin says, “I heard that. I’m not Italian. There’s no flipping way you’re going to teach me that trick.”

Oh Oh. Calvin Sounds Off.

I wasn’t my perky self today.

Maybe I’m not perky, but that’s my vision of myself. I strive to live up to it.

Today I was feeling blue.

A lot of drama going on with my relatives including health problems, relationship break-ups, worries about the future. I was thinking about all these when a colleague of mine popped in the door in my office.

“What’s new with you?” Agnes said.

“Oh, you know, the usual drama – health, romance, money,” I said.

“That’s nothing,” she said with a laugh. “In my family, I have people in prison, people that should be in prison, a daughter who’s running a muck, my dog is costing me a fortune in meds every month –  I look at him and think, I should put wheels on him, he’s more expensive than a new car. Then there’s my husband with the implants in his mouth, except they can’t put them in until his mouth heals from the infection he has. I squeeze his cheeks and say, ‘That’s my new car in there.'”

Then she gave me a hug.

“Feel better now?” she said and walked out.

Hmm…I was feeling better after hearing what she has to live with.

Then the thought hit me. I made her feel better, too by giving her an opportunity to download her life for a moment.

Glad I could listen.

Calvin says, “Her attitude toward her dog stinks. We work our tails off being good companions. We devote ourselves to listening, to loving, to obeying you. Well, maybe not to obeying – hey, nobody’s perfect – and this is the thanks we get? Where’s the devotion back? I thought this was a lifetime commitment. From breeder to the grave, that sort of thing. I’m hurt. Truly hurt. This revelation is shocking. I expected better. And don’t try buttering me up by tossing me a bone or taking me for a walk to my favorite place where all the trash cans are. I’m offended. Does anybody out there want an opinionated beagle?”