Dogs of November – And a Kitten

animal pet cute kitten

My daughter is getting a kitten. That is a valid decision. She lives in New York City in a tiny little box, and she does not have the time to give a dog the proper care. A cat doesn’t really need humans. It likes us to serve it – feed it, keep its environment tidy, and pet it while it tries to figure out how it might work out how to eat us.  We find these predatory creatures adorable.

pawn pug sitting on beige floor

Dogs require companionship and work, but they will do work. Even my lazy, pug, Frankie knows that her job is to make sure I wake up on time to go to my day job, even on the weekends, take walks in the park and garden, and to write stuff that I then read out loud to her. She understands the crying when whatever I have written is awful.

I sometimes threaten to get a cat myself. I think it would add humor to our situation. The pug knows about cats, and does not like them. One tried to eat her once or so she claims.

So anyways, my daughter is getting a kitten. Probably.



Dogs of November – Puppies NOT Politics

Puppies3Politics will only ever divide us, incense emotions, devour our humanity, exacerbate real human suffering, and cause us to hate each other. Politicians have no intention of helping solve anything. If there are no problems, they get no votes.

Puppies4Puppies, on the other hand, remind us of playfulness, joy, love, and comfort. That is a position where we can start to heal one another. We don’t need politicians. We need puppies. So here are some puppies.

Dogs of November – Westies

img_1180So when I was about fourteen, my mother replaced my brother and I with a West Highland Terrier she called Piper. No, I am not kidding. My mother was so enamored of Piper that she quickly acquired another West Highland Terrier which she and my dad called Impudence, prettier than Piper but less well-behaved. From that time on, my parents always have two Westies. Today, it is Mercer (after Johnny Mercer) and Too Tall, a rescue that is far larger than the Westie breed standard. In photo collections whether in albums or digital, ever since the late 80s, my parents photos are more Westie than human family.

When my dad published his first book, Waldo Chicken Wakes the Dead, in the little author blurb that goes with books, he mentioned my mom and the Westies, but no mention of his two kids. We were totally overtaken by the little white ratters.

img_1182This once bothered me, when I was still a kid, before I had a child. Now I sort of get it. About dogs. Don’t get me wrong. I love my kid more than I love myself. I would trade my soul to protects hers.

I would also do that for any of my dogs. They are far more agreeable than people. And Westies have no idea that they are dogs. They are the joy and exuberance that somehow my parents could not allow themselves in their own lives. My dad, maybe, but my mom she gave all her joy and possibility to her dogs and put her own in a bottle.


Dogs of November – Corgi

Corgi1For the pack of dogs I would like to add to my family, I am going to need a proper castle with a moat and grounds and all that. And if you have a castle, the House of Windsor has firmly established, there must be Corgis.

I have never had the pleasure of having a Corgi companion. However, this is one of those dogs that causes me to go into a melt-down of love and affection whenever I see one at the park, walking down the street, wherever one might CorgiSnowbe. They are excellent herding dogs so the border collies with their sheep will welcome them to the pack.

The Corgi is also a small, compact muscular dog with a big dog bark. They reputedly are happy, trainable dogs that love playing with their human companions. I love the smile of the Welsh Pembroke Corgi.



Dogs of November – Gray Ghost

WeimeranerMy family history could easily be told from the point of view of all the dogs that have accompanied my kin and their ancestors going back a couple of centuries at least. I have often thought I might write such a book one day.

Early in my grandparents marriage, they adopted a Weimeraner they named Marie. Of course, I never knew this dog, but there was a photo of her standing by my grandparents mailbox at the end of their property. I wish I could find that photo. It was an old black and white thing, cracked and crinkled along the edges.

WeimeranerBlackWhiteMy grandmother adored this dog. She was sixteen when she got married, delivered my uncle soon after, and she and my grandfather fought their way through a great depression. Marie came along with my father as the depression of the 1930s was finally ending, and America entered the fray of World War II.  This type of dog was commonly called “gray ghost” because of its sleek coat and the way it moved with such grace and silence.

Weimeraner2My grandmother described this dog as a very one person dog. If she or my grandfather left their little farmhouse to venture away for any time, they would find her awaiting their return at the mailbox. She would even sometimes follow them to neighboring homes. I remember hearing about Marie when I was a teenager, having tea with my grandmother. When she would speak of the dogs she owned through the ages, I would always see this great fondness for each of them in her eyes, and then the sadness at the loss of them. I pray, in her heaven, she has quite the pack of all her old dogs who waited to greet her.

Dogs of November – Border Collie

BorderCollie1My grandmother had a history of rescuing dogs. In fact, she left much of her money to the Humane Society when she died. As a child, family mythology says, my grandmother would go to nearby farms and “rescue” dogs she found there. In the evening, when her father would return from the fields in Memphis, Tennessee, he would make her go and return the 5-20 dogs she had “rescued” that day back to the neighbors.

She never stopped her determination to make sure all animals had a good home. She always had at least three dogs and an array of cats. After I finished school, when I moved out on my own, I frequently helped her with these animals. One day, she found a beautiful border collie called Babette. The dog was the smartest animal I had ever met, and I wanted the animal so badly.

BorderPuppyHowever, I did not have a sheep ranch in Montana. I was in my early twenties, starting graduate school, and living in a tiny studio apartment. Babette was great to take on runs, bike rides, to play soccer at the park (except the part where she would eat the ball and not give it back once she got it).

Here’s the thing about border collies.  They need a job, stimulation. If you don’t give them something to do, they will make something up and you will not like it. After Babette had destroyed all the furniture in my apartment, eaten or soiled all my shoes, I realized I was not a good owner for this animal. My best friend, another avid supporter of the canine, thought her parents could take the animal. They had a lot of property.

But no sheep. So by and by, we found Babette a dairy farm and that was the ticket. Border Collies are great dogs, especially if you have a farm and preferably lots of sheep. Her new home had cows and goats, and on follow-up, the farmer said she was the best herding dog he had ever had.  I still have visions of getting a castle with a moat, ample grounds, and sheep so a border collie might join my pack.