Friday, November 20, 2009

Who Donut Love Doughnuts?

Okay, there has a been a lot of talk at Dog Park lately about doughnuts—the best or most original ones and where to find them. Dog Parker Michelle (Mindy) writes a wonderful blog called Foodie is the New Forty. For a lovely photo array and reviews of some insanely devised doughnuts concocted at a local venue called Gourdoughs, check out her most recent entry. You will not believe your eyes, but your taste buds will be teased. Above is an example. The doughnut shown above is seasonally appropriate. It's called The Gobble Gobble. It is essentially next Thursday's dinner plopped artfully on a circle of sweet fried dough. Michelle said she liked it.

As someone who grew up believing that Entenmann's doughnuts were the height of culinary delights, I expect all doughnuts to assume the size, shape, and heft of hockey pucks, to be laden with trans fats, and to inspire a heart burn so piercing that, if harnessed, it could warm a small Midwestern city in January. Those of you who are foodies will have to convince me that doughnuts like the ones Michelle reviews are not the devil's work.

Humans are not the only creatures who enjoy snarfing sweet baked goods. For another visual treat, click here. The link is to one of my favorite blogs, Doe-c-Doe, created by a graphic designer-crafter-thrifter-photographer who lives in the Midwest. (Thanks to Erica for her recommendation. She knows all the cool blogs.) In this entry, the blogger's dog plays a key role. Can you guess what happens? Go ahead and check it out. The photos will make you smile.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

She's Gone Rogue

On Monday, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. to the sound of a dog barking outside. I was amazed to discover that it was my own dog, Roma, who had spent a cold and rainy night on the back porch. I had no idea that she was out there. She made no efforts to come inside, such as scratching at the patio door, which is mere feet from my bed. And what did the other one do? Nothing. Muzzy snuggled in her bed next to the curtained window, just inches awy from her elder sibling. 

Let me be clear that Roma is in no way a yard dog. She sleeps inside in a fluffy bed just like the rest of us. But this morning, she was not even interested in crossing the threshold. She'd gone rogue, man. She was living the Husky life—outside, facing the elements of wind and the rain, not needing nobody, nohow. She scorned me. She turned her back on my requests for hugs. She stamped her paws in the cool morning dampness and snorted like a wild beast. She all but thumped on her chest and hooted "Booyah!".

Later that morning, after I had made amends by walking, feeding, and acting contrite, Roma did come inside, and I sat down to read the New York Times online, which included a review of Sarah Palin's new book, Going Rogue. It made me smile to discover that the planet's least articulate woman actually "wrote" (she had help from a ghost writer) a book in which she bashes the very party that brought her to national prominence. The reviewer kindly provided a quotation from the opening pages, which I must share with you:
“I breathed in an autumn bouquet that combined everything small-town America with rugged splashes of the Last Frontier.”
Who doesn't love the roguish smell of small-town America? Yum. I love it and the quote. My point here is not political; I just want to point out the ridiculousness of the pride attached to the "going rogue" label. 

First of all, a glance at a any dictionary will tell you that a rogue is someone who is unprincipled and dishonest, one who acts in an unpredictable and unpleasant way. (In the world of horticulture, a rogue seed is inferior, defective.) Does anyone really want to be seen this way—especially a politician who might potentially lead the nation? Secondly, Palin, like my Roma, is roguish only in the sense that we let her think she is. Roma could no more live the life of a yard dog without her daily doses of glucosamine, Omega 3s, anti-inflammatories, smooches, and Dog Park walks than she could live on the moon. She is fairly well kept, as Palin is after nailing a multimillion dollar book deal, thank you very much. The pretense of roguishness is nonsense. 

Here's a quotation from Palin that ends the review. Again, it made me think of my girl:
"As every Iditarod musher knows, if you're not the lead dog, the view never changes." 
As someone who has spent thirteen years of daily walks staring at that view, I have to say, it's not that bad.  What's more, if the lead dog is a nutjob who can't string three words together in a logical fashion, then I'm not much interested in following anyway. Fortunately, Roma knows where she is going—back inside to sleep in the morning sun.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Flaming Poo Bag Award

Dear readers, welcome to the inauguration of the Flaming Poo Bag Award. This humble award, also known as the Flammy, is awarded to cretins and morons who impose on the dog-owning community in distinct and unique ways.  Here are some potential nominees:

  • the neighbor to whom I returned two loose, rambunctious dogs in the pouring rain on a Sunday and who did not say thank you;
  • the neighbor, whose response to finding dog poop in her yard was to pile the turds on the sidewalk, draw chalk circles around each desiccated load, and write in big capital letters, "I don't shit in your yard, so don't let your dog shit in mine";
  • the guy at Dog Park who, after his dog bit another dog, told the other dog's owner, "I never liked you anyway"; 
  • the woman at Dog Park who nags others to pick up their dog's poop but does not always attend to her own dogs' leavings.
Where, you might ask, is Crazy Guy? Why is he not on the list? Because, my friends, he wins the Flaming Poo Bag Lifetime Achievement Award for his insane dedication to protecting the drivers on 45th Street by harassing solitary women and their dogs in a field that abuts his house. Extra kudos for posting warning signs with misspelled words and for threatening to shoot dogs with "his piece." That dude deserves a real flaming poo bag on his porch every day of his life. Also, on his fancy German sedan. Also, on his motorcycle.

For those of you who would like to suggest other nominees, please click the comments button below or write directly to this blogger at I will create a poll in the side margin of the blog, and readers may vote for themselves. Think seriously about your nominees. After all, we want the Flammy to go to the most deserving offender of Dog Park mores and manners.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stop Hugging that Dog!

I recently subscribed to Bark magazine, a dog-centric monthly based in Berkeley, California. I first saw the magazine more than fifteen years ago, when it was essentially a mass photocopied freebie stacked on the streets. It charmed me with its devotion to dog stories, poetry, and art. Today it is a high-production glossy more in line with the likes of Oprah's O! (which I have read only at the dentist's office, thank you) or shelter magazines. Bark is now full of ads for pet-centric services and goods, and its articles range from recipes to dog-training tips to vet advice to international relief efforts to book reviews. It maintains a deep-seated earnestness, but it has clearly lost its sense of humor. Many of the articles have the tone of "I know better than thou" when it comes to dogs.

For example, an article by an animal behaviorist that lists five common misconceptions about dog training and behavior. Now, my dogs are perfect in every way, and so are yours, so my impulse was to skip this article. What could I possibly learn, right? Until I saw a photo of a young, dreadlocked, white girl hugging a dog that looked a good bit like my Roma and also very unhappy. The photo was poised above item number 3. "Dogs love to be hugged." No, indeed, insists the writer, Karen B. London, PhD, an animal behaviorist. Here is what she has to say:

Putting your arms around a dog's neck and shoulders may feel loving to humans, but to dogs this is rude and potentially threatening behavior. Every week, I see pictures in magazines of celebrities hugging their dogs. The human stars look radiant, but the dogs look miserable and display common signs of stress such as tongue flicks, a tightly closed mouth, pulled back ears or a furrowed brow. Hugging is a primate form of affection, but not one that is appreciated by the canine set. 
Oh, those stupid, petty celebrities who will do anything, including abusing their dogs with hugs, all for the sake of publicity. As for you regular primates (primates!!), stop hugging your dogs right now, or I will be forced to report you to the Humane Society.

Okay, perhaps I am a little bent out of shape about being called a primate. But let's think about this rationally. First of all, this primate uses her large brain and detached opposable thumbs in all sorts of ways that benefit my dogs. I can work cars, doorknobs, and can openers; I can throw balls and scoop poop. In addition, this primate also puts up with a lot of annoying canine behavior, such as rolling in piles of grossness, trampling my garden, throwing up on the carpet, barking at squirrels, and chasing the neighbor's cats. So, my canines can deal with a well-intentioned, albeit rude, hug around the neck and shoulders. In fact, they seem to deal with it pretty well (see photo above). Are they being opportunistic—like those pesky celebrities? Are they putting up with my ungainly primate affection in order to get something from me later? Probably, but not consciously. Being domesticated animals and pretty smart themselves, they understand that hugs are one of many ways I show my love.

Now, do I recommend that you go up and hug a dog you don't know? Of course not. Do I recommend that if a dog shows signs of stress or unhappiness when you hug her that you continue to do so. No again. Will I continue to hug my dogs? Yes, although now I will ask nicely beforehand, like an Ivy-leaguer out on a politically correct date.

Poor dogs. The Bark article has inspired a new game at our home. I now chase the dogs around the house and yard with my arms spread out while crowing, "I'm going to hug you!" in a deranged voice. The editors at Bark will be receiving a letter that says, "Thanks for making her even crazier. Sincerely, Roma and Muzzy".