Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's Father's Day

Call your dad and bust his chops a little. 

In Memory of my Old Man
Elwood J. Smith 
October 4, 1925 - December 24, 2006
Father & Friend of Dogs 


Friday, June 19, 2009

Go, Cougars!

As we learned yesterday, our Roma is about 80 years old in human years, aged and venerable enough to whack anybody who gets in her way with a cane. Yet, even in this wretched heat, she not only keeps on trucking around the Dog Park but actually seems to grow younger instead of older. Yes, she is plagued by arthritis, especially on humid days. And she's got bad teeth and no hearing, but when the young boys enter the picture, Roma becomes quite the vixen. Or, as one Parker called her, a cougar.

She has a special thing for boy dogs named Gus. One is an intact Ridgeback. Another is a Collie—who can tell what he's carrying around under all the fluff? For these and other dogs (including Simon the Scottie, Leroy the Schnauzer, and that cute, new Daschie-boy), our grumpy, old plodder becomes bright-eyed and spry. Her fur goes up, and she wags her tail and does the little hop-around move. Sometimes she even does a chest bump or puts her front paw on the lucky boy's shoulder, the doggy equivalents of "Hey, sailor, got a light?" 

I took my fellow Parker—a man, of course—to task for using the term cougar. "Cougar is a male construct," I harrumphed, drawing on feminist jargon I gleaned from graduate school in the 1980s—yes, when Ronald Reagan was still the POTUS. "There are no male equivalents," I complained. Seriously, what would they be? "Cradle robber?" "Dirty old man?" Even so, they are used ironically, with a wink.  Of course older men want fresh eggs. Who's surprised? But then I thought some more about my reaction. Roma really does get all revved up. She moves instinctively and with more verve than when the food bowl is set before her. How can this be such a bad thing, her tapping into a life force so strong that it turns a creaky, old, fixed dame into a lusty wench. So, feh, I think, tossing my feminist screeds into the "Take to Half Price Books" box. Roma's in the house, and she's got it going on. Call it—and her—what you like. Go, cougars.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Old is Your Dog?

The other day, I overheard a couple of Parkers trying to figure out their dogs' ages in people years. We used to think that each dog year equalled 7 human years, but I think that calculation was really just an average. It was really only accurate at the end of a dog's life, not at the beginning. As one source pointed out, a dog of one year can reproduce, but a seven- year-old girl certainly can not. Apparently, it's all about hormones. So the new theory is that a one-year old dog is a teenager, about 15 years old. Still too young for having babies, of course, but physically possible.  Below is a chart I found at a site called The site has no particular credibility, but the chart is the least complicated I've found and reflects the calculations I've seen at other sites. 

Thanks to this chart, I now know that in my household I've got a ball-crazed twenty-something (Muzzy just turned 2) and a cranky retiree (Roma is closing in on 14). 

Another angle I never hear is calculating one's own age in dog years. Based on this chart, your faithful blogger clocks in at about 6.33 dog years. I like that better than clinging pathetically to 39, which wasn't such a hot year anyway, as I recall. -z

Canine Age

Human Age 

2 Months

14 Months

6 Months

5 Years

8 Months

9 Years

1 Year

15 Years

2 Years

24 Years

3 Years

28 Years

4 Years

32 Years

5 Years

37 Years

6 Years

42 Years

7 Years

47 Years

8 Years

52 Years

9 Years

57 Years

10 Years

62 Years

11 Years

67 Years

12 Years

72 Years

13 Years

77 Years

14 Years

82 Years

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Dog Parkist: When Worlds Collide

Q: I appreciate your advice for dogs that are not graduating in the top 10 percent of their class. For some canines, the issue is compounded by the presence of a cat with a Mensa-level IQ. Does the Dog Parkist have any advice for dogs whose people subject them to life with an evil feline genius?

Dog School Dropout

A: My dear Dropout, I am surprised at you, violating the laws of nature as you are. Don't you understand that there are dog people and there are, unfortunately, cat people, and never the twain shall meet, marry, procreate, and set up mixed-species living arrangements? How will your children ever learn that dogs are the center of the universe if they are forced to see your poor, wretched canine repeatedly humiliated by an animal that is as useful and relevant as a crocheted toilet paper cover? 

But, since you so politely asked, I will gladly tell you what to do. First, let's review the order of Things. Most dogs are smarter and better behaved than any first-grade honor student. That much is clear. They do not take off their underwear in church or repeat infelicitous phrasings overheard while you were talking on the phone with your girlfriends. They require far less bathing and correction than children as well. You never have to remind them not to eat Jello with their fingers at Lubys cafeteria after church. That said, as you correctly pointed out, cats are far smarter and more in-control than dogs. They do not bark mindlessly at falling leaves or strangers in uniforms. They do not roll in or eat their own poo. Nor do they sniff crotches or hump unwilling partners in public. Mostly they sleep. If awake, their only assignment is to sit around on velvet pillows and wait for you to feed them, brush them, or scoop their litter boxes. Not only have they subjugated the dogs, they have turned you, a reasonably intelligent and over-educated adult, into a personal assistant who toils for little, if any, remuneration. Nice work, if you can get it. 

My advice to you is to compartmentalize, my dear. When you are with the dog, throw the soggy tennis ball and speak in loopy, enthusiastic tones. When you are with the cat, stand up straight, avoid eye contact, and speak only when spoken to first. If the cat and the dog insist on commingling, simply avert your eyes. The encounter will almost always be initiated by the dog, and it will not end prettily. Step in only when bloodshed threatens to erupt. Then, like Doctor Who or Captain Picard, reinforce the forcefields between the ruptured universes and get on with your day.  Ta! 

Dear Readers: Thank you for your continued interest in the Dog Parkist's opinions. She would love to answer your question about dogs, dog care, or dog-related phenomena (bop, bee, da bee-deey). Send them to comments or via the Ciao!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Muzzy Sez: Meet Teddy

Um, hi! Hi, it's Muzzy. Mama has headache. She lie down now. Muzzy in charge! Ok. This is Teddy. He's cute. Except when he tries to steal my ball. 

I like Teddy. Except when he bothers my boyfriend Tony. Hi, Tony! Love you, love you! 

Teddy have little tags that go tingtingting. When Tony hear tingtingting, his fur goes up. He's tough. He go grrrrrrrr at Teddy. Then Tony's mama pick him up. Hi, Sarah! And Tony's big! Teddy puts paws on Sarah's leg. Sarah say, "Go away, Teddy." Teddy no listen. Sarah carry big Tony away like sack of potatoes. So silly.

So I think if Tony don't like Teddy maybe I should go grrrrr, too. But then I forget. We pals for a while. Then Teddy get too close to ball. My ball! I go grrrrrrr. Then GRRRRR. Then it's all TEETH and GRRRs and POUNCE. Teddy goes "Yi, yi!" Mama maaaaad. I get time-out then put in car. Muzzy go home without ball. Car very quiet. No treats at home. Stupid Teddy. 

Now we are ok. See, Mama? Teddy doesn't bother me no more. Can I have treat now? What happen if I put cold nose on Mama foot when she in bed? Oops. Sorry, mama. No treat now. Darn.

Roma says: "At first, I thought Teddy was my old pal, Pearl-girl. He looks just like her. He came running up to me, and I was so happy because her person always gave me treats. I sniffed and sniffed and sniffed. Then I realized that it wasn't Pearl. Oh, well. When some dogs leave the park, they never come back. No one knows why. Teddy, he's okay. He doesn't bother me." 

Thanks to John, Teddy's owner, for photo. -z

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Dog Parkist: It's a Brand New Week

Q: Here is a question that only you can answer, Dog Parkist. One of my dogs is the source of discomfort at the Dog Park. My male dog is often the center of attention because of a particular part of his anatomy. Let's call it his banana. Other male dogs are consistently intrigued by his banana, almost to the point of obsession. We often have to shoo them away. I don't mind so much, but the male owners of the enthralled dogs often seem hugely embarrassed. What can I do?
Yes, We Certainly Have Bananas

A: Dear Yes, the Dog Parkist is so glad that you brought this problem to her attention. Really, to whom else could you pose it? It's a delicate matter that requires an explanation of that deepest, darkest of black holes, the male brain. 

First, a caveat. Although the Dog Parkist did grow up in a household with a father, a brother, and two male dogs—all intact, none imparted any insights into the male experience. And although the Dog Parkist was once briefly married, the husband was the kind of male who urinated while sitting on the toilet. (He claimed it was a German practice. Sigh. So is building fancy sports cars and invading France.) Needless to say, that relationship also yielded little practical knowledge of normal American males' hearts, minds, or anything else. All I have to offer  you are knowledge gleaned from arm's-length observation and deep reading of Victorian fiction. 

First of all, bananas are a fact of life. Half the populations of most species have them. (Ours is one that covers them up, thankfully.) Second of all, males of the human variety tend to be overprotective of the bananas and other related fruits of their dogs. Mention neutering a male dog to a male owner, and the human instinctively, reflexively blanches and winces. (To be fair, female owners identify with their female dogs, too. We gladly sign off on spaying, delighted to relieve our animals of the burdens of monthly crying jags, bloating, chocolate cravings, and, of course, puppies.) So you must forgive them. They are instinctively protective not only of the bananas in their care but also of the reputation of their dogs. Dogs who are interested in bananas that are not their own may seem less cool or less in-control, and that is soooo embarrassing. 

Which brings us to the third fact of life. For females, sometimes a banana is just a banana; for men, a banana is rarely only a banana. This is the great psychic divide between the sexes. And it is a good thing. Where would Western culture be without it? There'd be no Homer's Iliad or Shakespearean sonnets or Star Wars or international diplomatic crises. Imagine how boring life would be. So, my dear, while it is empathetic of you to be concerned about the men whose dogs are obsessed with your handsome boy, you must let them work this problem out themselves. (I hear you girls laughing. Yes, I know. They'll never work it out. They'll just go home, have a beer, and watch a game and forget about it until the next time. I'm just trying to give the poor dears some credit.) 

Dear Readers: Just to clarify: Even a deeply imaginative soul such as the Dog Parkist can't make up questions like this one. Please keep asking questions. How else will you ever learn?