Saturday, June 13, 2009

Max & Margo's Liver Treats

Okay everybody. Go wash your paws and put on your aprons. It's time to bake dog cookies! Here's a recipe that Max and Margo recommend, sent to me by Stacey. 

  • 1 container chicken livers
  • 2.5-3 Cups of corn meal
  • 1 egg (including the shell, a good source of calcium)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Set oven at 325 degrees.
  2. Spray a baking sheet or cake pan with non-stick spray.
  3. Place liver, egg, and garlic powder in a food processor.
  4. Add corn meal 1 Cup at a time.
  5. Process into a smooth batter. (Watch your ears and whiskers!)
  6. Pour batter onto sheet or pan.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Cool and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  9. Chow down. Yum.
Stacey makes a triple batch and freezes the treats. Bon appetit, my canine friends. Have a good weekend. Don't chase any motorcycles during the ROT rally. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Dog Parkist Rides Yet Again

Q: I'm kind of embarrassed to ask this question, Dog Parkist. I love my dog but he is not the brightest tube of neon. In fact, he's kind of a spaz, and the other dogs at Dog Park don't really know how to react to him. What should I do? How can I make my dog fit in at Dog Park?
—At My Twit's End

A: Dearest, dearest AMTE, please don't be embarrassed by either your question or your dog. God has a special place in her heart for good people like you who not only tolerate, but also love and care for dogs that are, for lack of a better term,  'tards. The fact is that you take the burden off of those of us who simply can't imagine how to handle a dog that is anything less than a genius. Point of fact, both my dogs are honor students at Highland Park Elementary School. (Go Westies!) I wouldn't even know to address a dog that couldn't keep one paw in its lap while seated at the dinner table. So good on you. 

Still, context is everything for your doofus dog. Is he perhaps more doofus-y at Dog Park than when at home watching cooking programs on the Create channel? Perhaps he simply feels overwhelmed by all the talented, intelligent, overly stimulated dogs that surround him and bare their teeth at his throat. The Dog Parkist certainly understands. She once knew a girl long ago who was dispatched to a class called Special Gym. No one explained why she had to spend twenty minutes a week catching a red rubber ball with one hand while standing in a circle of children of mixed abilities. Of course she had no eye-hand coordination. Because of her coke-bottle glasses and poorly patched broken front tooth, her mother had routinely forbidden her to move, let alone play with other children. "Watch the tooth and the glasses" were the words she learned to live by. So, instead of throwing, running, catching, and dating, she sat quietly and read books. Eventually, she grew up to become a woman almost as intelligent and well-regarded as the Dog Parkist herself. Sigh. The Dog Parkist loves a happy ending. 

So my point is, dear, perhaps you need to find a different outlet for your dog's special needs. Perhaps all he needs is some quiet time in which to become introspective and bookish. You may ask, "What is the equivalent of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte for dogs?" Discovering the answer to that question may be you and your dog's spiritual journey, and it may make secure your dog's reincarnation as the Michael Jordan of dogs in his next go 'round on the wheel of life. In the meantime,  it is important for your dog to learn some social skills and develop some confidence. Suggest that he limit his sniffing of other dog's (and owner's) butts to under ten seconds. Also,  he ought not to charge up and stick his big drooly face in other dogs' personal space, especially the parts that contain sharp fangs. A little reticence and hesitation might make him more alluring to the others. So might a more delicate aftershave. Good luck, my dear; we all know that you'll need it. 

Dear Readers: The Dog Parkist thanks you for all your outpouring of support. Please keep the questions and candygrams coming. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Dog Parkist Returns (Will She Never Go Away?)

Q: The other day, I was walking with my dogs in Dog Park, and this crazy guy starting yelling that he was going to shoot my unleashed dogs with a pistol. What's up with that?
Dazed and Confused in Dog Park

A: First of all, Dazed, let me be the first to welcome you to the great state of Texas. I, too, am from another part of the world—where the buildings are taller, the sky appears smaller, and people will suggest unspeakable things about one's mother but never actually pull a piece. I remember the confusion of being a newcomer to Austin as a twenty-something. The first time a little old man chatted me up in the dairy section of the HEB at Hancock Center, I immediately began scanning the store for security guards and red telephones. All the man said was, "Whole milk'll make you fat." Honestly, is there no privacy in this town? I now buy my dairy products over the Internet.

So, I feel your pain. Also your terror at being confronted by a crazy guy who may or may not have been packing at the time of your encounter. Unfortunately, Crazy Guy has a point. We Dog Parkers are indeed breaking a city ordinance by walking our dogs unleashed in an area not designated as leash-free. I understand. But, to be fair, one must also mention that threatening individuals with a weapon, real or otherwise, is much more serious offense—even when it is done in the greater service of humanity. (I have spoken to Crazy Guy myself; you must understand that his greater purpose in life is to prevent our unleashed dogs from running onto 45th Street, thereby endangering the lives and cars innocent drivers, who may themselves be breaking laws by speaking on cell-phones or driving while under the influence of illegal substances. Ooof! The lawlessness in this town!) 

Best not to press the point with him, however. Otherwise the situation may devolve into a routine from a Yosemite Sam cartoon in which two gun-toting characters pull increasing larger weapons on each other until the one containing a lit stick of dynamite explodes messily in somebody's face. Here's the bottom line: The Dog Parkist tends to think that Crazy Guy is all unmedicated talk and no muscle. At worst, he might pull a phone on you and call the police. You, my dear, need only to leash your dog and keep walking and take deep breaths. I know that this advice might sound like capitulation, but life is best lived through compromise. You can't fight crazy with reason. And crazy is, technically, not yet illegal. (Imagine if it were!) At Dog Park, as at family reunions, crazy is best responded to with quiet disdain and fleet footwork. Thanks for writing!

Dear Readers: Do you disagree with The Dog Parkist's impeccable reasoning? Let her know through the usual channels. As always, thank you for reading. 


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Dog Parkist Returns (So Soon?)

Q: I have a question. Since the financial implosion, I can no longer afford $100 an hour for therapy. Am I an awful person for dumping all my personal and work issues on the people I share the trail with on a daily basis? They don't seem to mind and *I* feel better, and richer, every time.
--Whiny McWhinypants

A: Dear sir. I am amazed that even before the economic implosion that you were able to pay $100 an hour for therapy. Be that as it may, I understand the value of being able to tell your darkest secrets to a total stranger. The Dog Parkist herself has invested monies she might otherwise have spent on a vacation villa or yet another advanced degree on therapy in order to discover some pretty obvious facts—that she is not her mother and that there is no shame in marrying the wrong man. (Who hasn't?) But you do raise an interesting point. How much mental, physical, and financial support can we expect from our "friends" at Dog Park. 

Indeed, they are friends. But there are as many levels of friendship as their are circles of hell and paradise. It is important to read and understand the terms of each level before clicking the Agree button. There are some friends who may offer a spare poop bag but not necessarily a shoulder to cry on. Others will gladly lend you their truck to haul your new waterbed but not help you put it together once you get home. And others who will listen to your every sigh and complaint and offer solace and sympathy before promptly going home to blog about you. Cave canem. 

But I can tell that you are an intelligent member of the species, Mr. McWhinypants. And so my only advice to you is this: Remember Dog Park's most basic rule of poop: When somebody poops, somebody else picks it up and carries the bag. Some pick up and carry out of love, some out of duty, and some because they are paid. Since you can no longer pay your therapist, you must rely on individuals who love you or feel compelled to care for you. Consider that before you spill your guts, dear sir. Who, at Dog Park, loves you enough to carry your poop? Thanks for writing!

Dear Readers: The question above was actually posed by a Dog Parker, whose identity The Dog Parkist is professionally bound to keep secret. (Thanks, Doug!) Please follow his impeccable example and send her more questions. Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Muzzy Sez: Meet Sugar

Most of us are probably old enough to remember that drecky comic strip "Family Circus." Remember how "Dad" would sometimes let little "Billy" help out with the strips? He'd draw a follow-the-footsteps cartoon that led us through Billy's naughty escapades. ("Stop by cookie jar.") Well, Muzzy has asked me if she can help out with the blog. She wants to offer a different perspective. I said, "Okay." The only changes I have made to Muzzy's prose are spelling and small grammatical changes for clarity. Have at it, Muzzy.

Hi! Okay! Hi! Meet Sugar. She pretty. Pretty heavy. She lives with Michelle and her grandmom Millie. (Hi, Michelle! Hi, Millie!) Michelle pulls my tail. And pinch my ears. Ow.  I run away. Run!

Sugar can be nice. Also tough. When I was puppy, Sugar pound on me. A lot. I use my speed to get away. "Run, Muzzy. Run fast!" I say to self. Zig. Zag. Zoom, zoom! Sugar runs like tank. In straight line. "Just keep zigging, Muzzy." I zig wrong. POW! Under Sugar's treads. Ouch. 

Now I am big. Sugar not always after me. But I watch her from corner of my big browns. When I play with BDPFs [Best Dog Park Friends]. I bite Maggie's neck. Then BAM! Incoming Sugar. She wipes grass with me. Ow. Why you so mean? Sugar just laugh. She goes, "Heh, heh."

Roma sez: "I'm cool with Sugar."


Monday, June 8, 2009

Welcome to The Dog Parkist

Thanks to the free magazine exchange at the Yarborough Branch library, I have discovered that several national publications, like Texas Monthly and The Atlantic, now feature snarky advice columns, the titles of which end in -ist. Welcome then to "The Dog Parkist," a new regular feature at No Barking Under the Trees.

Q: Why is it such a big deal if I drop my bag of dog poop on the side of the trail and forget to pick it up? 
Clueless Poophead

A: Thanks so much for your question, CP, and for being the first to submit one to our new feature, The Dog Parkist. I am delighted, thrilled even, to answer your question. First, a little background. I am a product of the working class. One of my earliest childhood memories is watching my father, a telephone lineman, sit at the dining room table at night extracting splinters from telephone poles from his calloused hands. While my father worked, my mother dedicated her life to keeping a clean house instead of running a major corporation or ascending the ranks in the Armed Forces. When my brother and I were older, she would ask us, with thinly veiled sarcasm, if we thought that she had been put on this earth to pick up after us. Our response was a shrug. That seemed to be what she did all day, right? Wasn't that the world order we'd been born into?

So, I see where you are coming from CP. You are a clueless, self-absorbed adolescent who thinks that other people enjoy picking up bags of poo that have been festering in the hot Texas sun for hours, if not days. Of course, your response might be that you have done the dirty work. You have actually put your hand into that dinky bag and scooped up your dog's soft, gooey excrement yourself, and that you really, truly, honestly meant to return to that bag and take it to the dumpster on your way to the car. But, of course, by the time you made a full loop and were headed back, you forgot. Or, worse, you saw that disgusting, shriveled bag of poop on the ground and thought, "Ugh. Who left that there? I'm not touching it." 

So let me tell you what happens next. Some innocent Parker, someone very much like the Dog Parkist herself, comes along, and, in a snit, picks up your abandoned bag of excrement between her thumb and index finger. She walks with her arm outstretched, in order to keep the offensive bag away from her person. Her every thought is now consumed with the desire to reach a receptacle in which to dump a rude stranger's dog doo. She tries to think pleasant thoughts about helping the community, but they grow darker and more bitter with each step. CP, with your thoughtlessness, you have ruined a perfectly good walk for someone else. Your half-assed efforts have interfered with another Parker's experience of the Park. Feel bad? Good. Thanks for writing!

Dear Readers: Please e-mail your questions or comments to or click on the button below this post. The Dog Parkist will not be deterred by your lack of interest, however. She will continue to pose interesting and relevant questions and provide helpful, if snide, responses. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Pride of Ridgebacks

It's the Role Models (Doug's Max and Mesi) versus the Super Models (Nguyet and Eric's Naya and Elphie)—just four of the eight or nine Ridgebacks that frequent the Park. Aren't they beautiful? It has taken many months, but I think that I can tell them apart—if they are not moving too fast. Can you? Here's a cheat sheet:
  • Max: The only boy. Beaded collar. Has a nasty scar on his left side. Very sweet. 
  • Mesi: Beaded collar. Has a narrow face that resembles Wile E. Coyote (in a good way) and a black patch on her tail. Tends to hang close to Doug. She's the anchor; Max is the window man.
  • Naya: Aqua and pink collar. Tends to stand still and stand tall. Is calmer than Elphie, but a mighty force when she gets rolling. 
  • Elphie: Has darker coat than the others and moves faster. The mighty huntress. The Ridgeback that wears a wicked grin while facing Muzzy or Wilson down is always Elphie. 
Okay. Now test your skills at identifying them. All the photos featured today were taken by Johnny, Teddy's owner. Thanks, Johnny!