Friday, February 26, 2010

Spring After (Snow)Fall

Yesterday, Muzzy and I walked down along the creek bed at Dog Park, in search of even the smallest hint of spring. We hunted in vain. (Although poison ivy must still be lurking. I came home with evidence of contact with it on my hand.) Then, this morning, we found four signs in our own yard. Above, redbud bud.

Plum tree.

Peach tree.


The rare Muzzy flower, most precious of all.

Enjoy. -z

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Literary Dog (Collar)

At Dog Art Today, I saw this image of a collar once worn by a dog belonging to the nineteenth-century novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870). Blogger Moira McLaughlin reports that, at a recent auction, the collar went for nearly $12,000. Wow! It is made of leather and brass and is apparently free of all the disgusting organic matter I find encrusted in my own dogs' collars. Apparently, Dickens was fond of dogs and had many, but most of their names do not survive. (Read Moira's entry for an excerpt of a contemporary report of Dickens' return from a trip to America and the greeting offered by his dogs, including a St. Bernard named Linda.) Dickens was the master of memorable character names with good "mouth feel," including, Ebenezer Scrooge, Misses Mowcher and Havisham, Magwitch, Pumblechook, Mr. Guppy, Lady Dedlock, Edmund Sparkler, Pip, and the Artful Dodger. So we can only conclude that his dogs had more inventive names than Rex, Fido, or Rover, and—er—Linda.

Enjoy. -z

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How Embawassing!

When one talks to the dog all day in baby talk ("Muzzy! Who's dah cyootest, tiny bunny wabbit? Is dat your widdle tummy?"), one often forgets to  to speak like a grown-up, educated person to fellow humans. I had that problem the other day. I was signing off with Sarah, after we had agreed to take Muzzy and Tony to Turkey Creek. I told her I'd see her in a little while. Sarah paused slightly, then said "okay" and hung up. A few moments later, as I was horsing around with Muzzy, spouting baby talk and getting her all riled up for her big outing, it occurred to me that what I had actually said to Sarah was, "See you in a widdle bit!" D'oh! How embawassing! Later, Sarah claimed, diplomatically, not to have noticed. Clearly, I need to spend more time among bipeds, although that may not help.

I can remember taking on accents as a child and then finding them hard to shake. For a while, when I was young, perhaps third grade, I decided that I needed to talk like a New Yorker, like Archie Bunker. I am certain that I was never allowed to watch All in the Family, but for some reason, I could only pronounce this, these, and that as dis, dese,  and dat. Oh, also third was terd. And toilet was terlet. I remember sitting in the way-back of our enormous Chrysler station wagon on my way to church one Sunday deprogramming myself. "Dis," I'd say. "No, this!" What a mixed up child. In fixing my speech patterns, though, I must have gone too far in the other direction of refinement. By the time I went to college in New Jersey and later, when I moved to Texas, people often asked me if I were British.

Perhaps the solution to my baby-talk lapses is to speak to my dog in a British accent. I think Muzzy would go for that as long as she still got fed. I'll just channel the voice of the first TV dog trainer, the formidable Brit, Barbara Woodhouse. She really did sound like a Monty Python parody. "Walkies!" she would bellow. I never met anyone or any dog that responded to walkies, until my favorite moment in the film The Queen. Helen Mirren, as Queen Elizabeth II, brakes the royal Land Rover she is driving, flings open the door, and crows to the half dozen Labs and Corgies inside, "Walkies!" They weally do say dat over dere! Aw, jeez!

See you at walkies. Ta. -z