Category: Dogs

Fun at the Maryland Irish Festival

My sister, Joan, and I went to the Maryland Irish Festival last weekend and had a really good time. I was in the cultural room with other authors, the Annapolis Irish Rowers (who are loads of fun), and all kinds of people with information about Irish history ancient through modern. The guys with the ancient weapons were particularly enjoyable. The next time I have a booth somewhere, I’m totally bringing a halberd. They really draw a crowd. And there were dogs. There were Whippet and  Greyhound Rescue  groups, a Newfoundland group and the Potomac Valley Irish Wolfhound Club. I, of course, left my booth every time a dog came by, but my sister only managed to get these two photos. The festival was a lot of fun. The music and dancing were fantastic. The vendors were great and the Guinness and Tullamore Dew flowed like water. As it turns out, the water wasn’t that easy to find but the beer certainly was, so if you go next year, bring a designated driver and your dancing shoes.

An Open Letter to the Rabbits in My Neighborhood

Dear Rabbits,

I know the indoor/outdoor cats in the neighborhood have gotten old and have allowed you to proliferate in larger than normal numbers this year, so let me give you a few survival tips.

  1. If you squeeze past a barrier and find yourself in an enclosed space, turn around.
  2. If that enclosed space has a whiff of dog pee, turn around faster.
  3. If you see an actual dog on a leash in that area, and you don’t die right then, consider yourself lucky and leave.
  4. If you see the dog again on a leash, please understand, he will not always be on a leash in the enclosed area. Leave immediately.
  5. If you see the dog a third time on a leash, remember, this is not a permanent state. YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY.
  6. If you’re still in the enclosed space after dinner. YOU ARE DEAD.
  7. Pro-tip: When the dogs come to kill you, try and angle your head toward the basenji and not the miniature pincher. You’ll have a much quicker, much less painful death. The mini-pin’s mouth just isn’t big enough to kill you in one quick blow.

No love,


Morning walkies
Notice the leashes. This is not a permanent state.

When Competition Can Get You Killed

This morning while I was walking Storm, we came across a sparrow and a cardinal fighting over a moth that they’d already ripped the wings off. The moth was still alive and making a kind of desperate clicking noise with it’s legs. The birds were so focused on trying to get the moth from each other that the sparrow almost ran into Storm’s mouth. Were Storm a slightly bigger dog he would have been able to pull me harder and get that sparrow. Alas, he’s under thirty pounds and couldn’t move me. The birds came to their senses at the last moment and flew away abandoning the moth. I thought the following things about the whole scenario:

  1. What kind of nightmare hell was happening for that poor moth?
  2. Are moths so tasty that they’re worth that kind of dangerous competition?
  3. Who had the moth first?
  4. Why couldn’t that cardinal easily take the sparrow? He was the bigger bird.

Nature is mysterious.

This is his sad face because he didn’t get to kill a bird.

Creatures of Habit

Morning walkies
Morning walkies

My youngest dog is a four-year-old, male basenji, Storm. We have two other dogs, females, a miniature pinscher, Hetty, seven, and a border terrier, Cory, thirteen. They all take a mile long walk in the morning. Then we come back to the house and they have their breakfast and then we take Storm for a two and a half mile walk on his own because he needs more exercise than the girls do. He particularly likes this walk because he seems to prefer the idea of being an only dog, even though he’s never been one.

Last Sunday, my husband and I had three of our friends over for brunch. After we ate, we sat around the table for a long time talking, which is a sign of both a successful brunch and interesting friends. Storm, however, felt like our friends overstayed their welcome. Half way through the meal he began to yawn and sigh in the kitchen. Then he started throwing himself against the back door and letting out soft moans of despair as he collapsed in a heap. Apparently, if you don’t have your second walk before noon, your legs are in danger of atrophying and falling off. You didn’t know that? Neither did I. Storm knew. This is apparently the sort of thing that keeps him awake at night. All along I thought that what kept him awake at night was the bunnies frolicking in the yard which he can see from the window behind our bed due to the streetlight on the other side of the road. Bunnies. Who knows what they’re up to? Suspicious.

Can you feel the ennui?
Can you feel the ennui?


The Kill Switch

The Kill Switch (Tucker Wayne, #1)The Kill Switch by James Rollins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoy reading James Rollins’ Sigma series, so I thought I’d give this a try. It’s tangential to Sigma, but Wayne is an independent contractor rather than a team member. I liked this book for many of the same reasons I like the Sigma series. Rollins likes to tie his books to actual historical places and events and real science and then he spins a fantastic, action-filled yarn around them. He does that here, but since there isn’t a team involved, I found Wayne getting too battered around for just one guy to reasonably deal with, also I really worried about the dog. I know that’s dumb, since the whole point of the series is Wayne and his dog, but still, I worried. Other than those issues, I enjoyed this book. Scott Aiello did a great job with his performance and it was easy to listen to him for long stretches in the car or just walking around the house doing chores. It’s fast-paced, the locales are great, and because I had just read Churchill’s book on his early life, the references to the Boer War were really interesting. Action fans should check it out.

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Dog Park (Prison) Update

The great dog park experiment continues. Storm goes every day, Monday through Friday, and then gets a weekend pass. He knows he has to stay an hour, so about fifty minutes in, he starts to cry and walk around near the gate, but there have been several incidents lately when he forgets to cry and drool while standing on the picnic table and actually joins in the fun.


This is one of his little friends. He’s actually gone so far as to run around the enclosure with her several times. Here is proof that he sometimes enjoys himself.

There are other dogs he likes too, although he would never admit it. For the most part, he’s stopped drooling. The crying is much less frequent, but often in the middle of running around, he will remember he’s supposed to be miserable and throws himself on the ground.


Yeah, just like that. Histrionics abound at the dog park, or at least they do for Storm.

Dog Park or Prison Yard?

Storm is definitely in the “prison yard” camp. He hates the dog park. This is how he spends ninety percent of his time when he’s there. Yes, he’s standing on top of a picnic table.


He doesn’t like that the dog park is dirty. He doesn’t particularly like the other dogs. He doesn’t like that there is a water hose that some people spray their dogs with, which seems like water torture to him. In short, the dog park is a terrible, awful place that he is forced to go to for an hour every day.

Why am I so mean to him? Why does he have to endure such injustice? Because he’s a jerk to the other dogs if he gets bored at home, and the best way to keep him from being bored is to wear his little butt out. Thus two walks a day and the dog park for an hour. It’s hard for me to feel bad for him when lots of dogs don’t get nearly that much exercise. He feels like I’m a heartless monster. Even his beloved Colin won’t save him. He has to go every day to the prison yard.


Above is his open plea for compassion, but I’m not buying what he’s selling.

Why is there a dog here?

I recently went to London with my friend Kristin and we stayed with our friend Heather at her flat in Marylebone. The three of us always have a good time and I’m always happy to go. As we have on other trips, we spent a fair amount of time in art museums. On this trip we visited the The Wallace Collection, The National Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery. They’re all amazing and I highly recommend them if you visit London, especially The Wallace Collection with it’s eclectic but amazing assortment of art and armor.

When I see a lot of different artwork all at once, I tend to reach a saturation point, after which I just start looking for dogs. You find them in the most interesting places in a wide variety of paintings from many different eras. Usually the dogs are clearly a natural part of the scene or perhaps even the focus of the painting, but not always. For example:


This is a serious painting of a serious religious event. No I don’t remember what it’s called or who painted it when. I was saturated by this point in the day, but look at the little white dog. Why is he in the painting? Why would a dog be in church at all? The sign next to the painting didn’t say, but I wonder.

Then there’s this:


This is the corner of a huge painting of four Dutch looking guys after they’ve signed an important document. It was painted to commemorate a significant political event, and yet the artist includes a lovely portrait of this little dog. I believe this is someone’s actual dog. Perhaps the artist included a beloved pet. Maybe the dog belonged to one of the men pictured and was actually at the event. Or maybe the patron of the painting asked for a portrait of his own dog to be included. The sign next to the painting didn’t mention the dog. Whose dog is this?

The more I looked, the more dogs I found in strange places or sometimes doing strange things. In one painting that I didn’t take a picture of because the dog was too small and the painting was too high on the wall, there was a dog crouched to defecate. It was a beautiful large landscape featuring a lot of winter activity, but toward the lower right corner there was a dog getting ready to do his business. Was the artist trying to say something about the commission? Was his patron a jerk? Was this dog a way of thumbing his nose? Or did the patron ask for it as an inside joke? I don’t know. Once again, the sign didn’t mention it.

And then there were paintings where clearly the dogs just don’t belong.


This painting of a satyr morning over a nymph was painted in 1495 by Piero di Cosimo, but it almost looks like two different paintings. The satyr and the nymph are exquisitely portrayed, but the dog in the foreground as well as the dogs in the background are much more roughly painted in like an afterthought. Look at the white dogs forelegs. They’re improbably positioned unlike anything else in the painting. It makes me wonder if the patron looked at the painting of the satyr and the nymph and said, “You know, Piero, there’s a lot of room on the right side and in the back. How about throw in some dogs. People love dogs.” So Piero threw them in.

So those of you out there with an art history degree, enlighten me. What’s up with all the dogs? I’m not complaining mind you. I love dogs, but it is curious. Don’t you think?



No Carrot, No Stick

Storm with carrot
Storm inspects the carrot. He is unimpressed.

Storm went to the vet recently for his regular shots and vet recommended that we add fiber to his diet since his anal glands weren’t fully expressing on their own. Being the dutiful dog person that I am, I went forthwith to the store and purchased a bunch of organic carrots and brought them home for the dogs. Cory occasionally has the same issue, so I figured carrots all around. Since the dogs are fairly small, I split one carrot between the three of them. Cory and Hetty ran off with theirs like they were the happy, crunch prizes I intended them to be. Storm eyed his suspiciously, as I knew he would. This after all could be the very moment I’ve decided to poison him. He carried it around a moment and abandoned it. The girls greedily went for it. He didn’t bother to defend it.

The next day I tried a second carrot. This time I peeled it thinking perhaps the outer skin was slightly bitter and he didn’t care for that. Alas the result was the same. So I guess we’ll move on to pumpkin for him and let the girls finish the carrots. At this rate, Storm will continue with the same problem he started with and the girls will be constipated. Typical.