Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Today I was scheduled to attend Small Claims Court with Kathi, whose dog was attacked on July 5, resulting in $600.00 in veterinary expenses. At the last minute, the dog's owner has promised to pay the bill without going to court.

This is good news. But it is both my personal experience and observation that many people won't pay until they are looking directly at court. That means filing fees and serving fees and lots of paperwork for the victim. Not fair. But neither are dog attacks.

It is unclear if the authorities filed charges against the owner of the attacking dog. Will report when that is clarified.

Meanwhile, Best Wishes Kathi. Hope the payment agreement holds up and hope that Chantal is totally recovered.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Know Your Dog: Hound Group

Terrier Group, Working Group, Sporting Group, Herding Group, Non-Sporting Group, Toy Group. Now, at last, we come to the Hound Group, which really consists of two sub-groups: Scent Hounds and Sight Hounds. Widely diverging in appearance, what both sub-groups have in common is that they pursue prey for hunters. Some, including all Sight Hounds, are Independent Contractors. Some, such as Bloodhounds, are usually Partners.

The most popular of Hounds, Beagles, are third in A.K. C. registrations. The immortal Snoopy has forever engraved Beagles on Americans' hearts. Of course, real Beagles are Scent Hounds, not Sopwith-Camel pilots or freelance journalists.

My personal experience with Scent Hounds is limited to interaction with Dachshunds, mostly mini-sized. I find them to be charming and tenacious little doggies, well suited to a person or family choosing a First Dog.

The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is a Scent Hound that easily scores a 10 on the Adorableness Scale. Its near relative, the Basset Hound, on the other hand, invariably evokes laughter as it waddles around the show ring, relying on the sympathy vote in the Adorableness Department. Bassets' admirers are very protective of them and tell me that they are Wonderful Dogs--just not a good choice as a jogging companion.

The A.K.C. introduction to the Hound Group cautions that some hounds emit a "baying" that irritates or unnerves some people. This certainly needs to be considered before anyone acquires some Scent Hound breeds.

And Now!

At last, we come to the Sight Hounds. Don't expect objectivity from me on this subject. Three of the Dogs of My Life have been Sight Hounds. One was a Sight Hound mix. If my bias showed with Terriers, it will be glaring when I talk about the group that I was accidentally introduced to by the Unforgettable Daphne. The group to which Wonderful Zephyr; Sweet, Sweet Bingley; and my Beautiful Portia belong.

Sight Hounds are the Aristocrats of Dogdom. They are living reminders of the ancien regime. Their size and special needs are suited to palaces and estates. Their personalities reflect the assumptions of the privileged owners with whom they shared their lives for centuries.

When it comes to the prize for The Most Elegant Breed, other dogs need not apply. Afghans, Borzois, Greyhounds and Salukis, in my opinion--and that's all that counts, since this is MY blog--are the only contenders. These dogs are living, breathing Works of Art. They incorporate the aerodynamics of a high-powered sports car, the grace of a Prima Ballerina, and the sleekness of an haute couture model.

And, let's be honest. Sight Hounds also reinforce the idea that Beauty and Brains do not necessarily enjoy a high correlation. Yes, yes. I have personally met Greyhound Therapy Dogs. And Portia--I'm still grieving her loss--was, perhaps, the canniest Dog of My Life. But, as a group, Sight Hounds are the Legacy college admissions. When your portrait is enshrined on the walls of Ancient Egyptian Palaces and Tombs, you have nothing to prove to anyone.

Scottish Deerhounds and Irish Wolfhounds make up in a sense of Entitlement what they lack in sleekness. I have often suspected that Wolfhounds took a page out of their masters' books when it came to droit de seigneur. Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, the Irish cottagers' dogs, have a suspiciously Wolfhound-like shaped skull. Master and hound visiting the same cottage, perhaps?

It will come as no surprise that I urge Serious Thinking and Great Caution if you are considering bringing one of these Members of Canine Aristocracy into your home. And, yes. Large as some Sight Hounds are, they will need to be In Your Home. Not in the garage. Not in the backyard. Not confined in the kitchen--or, Heaven Forbid--a bathroom.

Please, please, please. If you invite an Irish Wolfhound, a Scottish Deerhound, an Afghan or a Borzoi into your home, don't complain that they are big. These are Big Dogs.

If Counter Surfing is The Unforgivable Sin. If Dogs Do Not Belong On Sofas is An Unbreakable Rule. A Sight Hound is not for you.

If knowing where the dog is EVERY time the front door is opened and being sure that the dog is NOT going to run out is too much of a bother for you, a Sight Hound is NOT for you.

A Sight Hound must be on leash or in a securely fenced area EVERY time it is out of doors. These dogs can out-run just about any other animal--Cheetahs excepted--but they cannot outrun a car. A loose Sight Hound is, sadly, all too frequently, a dead Sight Hound.

Sight Hounds are NOT Working Dogs. Someone else will have to guard home and hearth. A Sight Hound might not lift its head from its cushion to so much as bark at a prowler. Or it might play Gracious Host and show the "guest" where the silver is kept.

Sight Hounds rarely will retrieve anything. "Finders, keepers" is their motto.

Instead of herding a flock, a Sight Hound will scatter a flock in all directions and might even hunt down and.... We won't go there.

Some Sight Hounds get along with little fluffy Toy Breeds. Some Sight Hounds.... We won't go there, either.

Sometimes, Sight Hounds will come when you call them. Having a leash in your hand increases the odds. But, they might have to run a few laps, or toss a few toys in the air to express their joy before actually standing still for you to attach the leash.

If you read all of my cautions, and you still think a Sight Hound is The Dog for You, I will have more to say in a future post about one Sight Hound in particular: my beloved Greyhounds.

But right now, I need to check the sofa pillows in the living room. Bingley rearranges them to his liking. He thinks good quality chintz is better for lounging upon than that nasty old synthetic throw I use to cover his favorite resting spot. Silk would be better than chintz. But Greyhounds have hit upon Hard Times, and Sweet Bingley is making do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Knitters for Critters

Knitters for Critters is a new charitable effort which seeks to use donated knitted or crocheted pieces--particularly hats and scarves--to support the well being of animals. Knitted items can be sent to:

Knitters for Critters
P.O. Box 235286
Encinitas, CA 92023-5286

Donated items will be sold at craft fairs, boutiques and church bazaars over the holidays and the proceeds with be donated to animal charities. It is requested that only non-animal fibers are used for these projects.

The critters thank you.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sandy Nash R.I.P.

In addition to dogs, knitting is an important part of my life. I am fortunate to live a mere ten minutes from a Wonderful Knit Shop--Yarning for You. Yarning for You is the dream and creation of a remarkable lady, Sandy Nash. Yarning for You is much more than just a place to go to buy beautiful, high quality yarn. It's a place to go for help when you get stuck or lessons on basic and advanced knitting techniques. It's the first place many women go when life gets to be too much to bear alone, or something wonderful happens that must be shared. Spending a morning or afternoon knitting at Yarning for You is better than hours of therapy, as far as I and many other women are concerned.

Sandy's Right Hand is Diva Debra, her complement. Sandy is an instinctive knitter. Debra is a techno knitter. Sandy knits Continental Style. Debra knits English Style. Sandy says, "Maybe no one will see that mistake." Debra says, "No one will see that mistake, because you'll never want to wear it." Carol and Laurie and Frontine rotate in the shop to be sure that someone is always there--to talk patterns, suggest yarns--and to share the welcome of the place.

We all knew that Sandy was gravely ill. Not from Sandy, but from Sandy's ever more frequent and longer absences from the shop. Not. A. Good. Sign. I tried to reassure myself because whenever I asked how she was feeling, Sandy would say, "Good!" and flash a smile. Thursday, September 17, 2009, her last day on this earth, Sandy was still responding to doctors and nurses who inquired how she was feeling with "Good!" and a smile.

Sandy's family and her knitting family gathered at Yarning for You yesterday to comfort each other in our loss of this wonderful woman. Each of us feels a very personal connection to Sandy because Sandy was that rare person who could take your concerns and worries seriously but still convey her conviction that "things will work out."

Sandy, who was already fighting a life-threatening condition before lymphoma struck her, could listen for hours to other people's health concerns and never extract "equal time" for her own. A "cat person", Sandy listened to my agonies over the deaths of two Greyhounds with profound sympathy and passed the Kleenex.

One of our last conversations, if not our last, was about a knitting charity that she had just added to her list of charities: Knitters for Critters. In honor of Sandy, Knitters For Critters is now an official charity of Friends of Portia. I will say more about Knitters for Critters in a later post.

But now, all I can say is Thank You, Sandy. You are and always will be a reminder that life should be lived with optimism, gratitude, and generosity.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Know Your Dog: Toy Group

Toy Breeds are the official lap dogs of the canine world. They were selectively bred down from larger breeds and designed to be companions or "comforters" for their humans.

Most Toys look like diminutives of their source breed: Italian Greyhounds look like teeny tiny Greyhounds. Toy Poodles, if well bred, are just smaller versions of Miniature and Standard Poodles. Pomeranians are clearly members of the Spitz Family. But the largest sled a Pomeranian could pull would be doll sized. A Pug's face reveals Mastiff and Bull Dog origins. Silky Terriers and Yorkshire Terriers are--surprise--Terriers!

Toys are minimal bother in terms of space and quantity. They don't eat a whole lot of food. Medications and treatments that are sold by weight or count cost less for a Toy than for, say, a Golden Retriever. I could perform poop patrol for Mame, our Toy Poodle, using two Kleenex, if necessary.

It is understandable that members of this group are frequently recommended to individuals or families considering a First Dog Ever. Looking at all factors, perhaps the Pug, a Toy, is The Easiest Dog to Own. It is small. It doesn't have serious grooming challenges. It does not require much exercise.

However. There is always "However."

Many Toy Breeds require intensive grooming, both by the owner and by a professional. These are the dogs that were originally bred for owners with plenty of leisure time for such pursuits--and servants, who could always wield a brush if the owner lost interest.

Even more importantly, Toy Breeds were meant to be CLOSE companions to PEOPLE. They are not happy to be left alone all day. They are certainly not suited to long hours in a backyard or garage.

My best friend has rescued many toy dogs from neglectful situations. It is horrifying to see the emotional cost these little dogs pay when humans ignore the purpose for which they were bred. I promise you, a 4, 5, 6 pound dog can be turned into such a nervous wreck that it is VERY hard to rehabilitate. Bruiser, a Maltese with perfect show points, came to live with my friend four years ago. She now confesses, that when she saw him "in action", she almost backed out of her promise to take him. He barked and ran in circles incessantly. He approached her and backed away when she reached out to pet him. When guests visited, he latched onto trouser legs, trying his best to keep people from moving from room to room. And potty training was a challenge. He was so small and quick, the damage could be done before he was caught. Medical problems included rotten teeth, ear infections, and digestive difficulties.

Today, after four years of consistent love and care, Bruiser is a New Dog. He weighs a healthier five pounds, up from under 4 pounds when he was rescued. He is profoundly attached to my friend and her husband, but accepts short separations without hysterical protests. He understands that visitors come and go. He might bark and try to discourage departures, but he knows it's a losing battle. Recently, he has even come up to sit on my lap.

But think. Three years of neglect. Four years of rehabilitation. There just aren't enough people with time, patience, and willingness to rehab all the Toy Dogs that are being treated as toys--to be left or played with at whim, without any regard for their inbred needs.

Just yesterday, a woman at my local knit shop had a rescued toy with her while she shopped. This little Pomeranian/Maltese mix was just what a Toy Dog should be; on leash, perfectly behaved, close to her human, sharing in her human's daily life and activities, and graciously accepting, but not soliciting the greetings of the people she met.

The joys of life with a Toy are many, if you understand them and treat them as they were bred to be treated.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dog Attacks: Reporting

It has been a while since I have posted about a dog attack. Sadly, this does not mean that no attacks have occurred. I doesn't mean that I have received no reports of attacks. I have. But my policy is to post about attacks only if I have had direct contact with one of the parties involved in the attack, or with an eye-witness to an attack. I give this source an opportunity to read my post before it appears on the blog.

I believe this is important, because dog attacks are traumatic events and it is important to get the basic facts right. It is what people who are willing to re-live the trauma by telling their story deserve.

If you are thinking about telling your story about a dog attack, or if you know someone who is considering telling their story, please be assured that every effort will be made to tell the story accurately and to protect your privacy.

In the meantime, I will continue to discuss dogs and dog ownership. Dog attacks do not occur in a vacuum. Sometimes they occur because of an "oops". Dogs in multi-dog households sometimes can have altercations for no apparent reason. But attacks that occur in public spaces are all too often the result of an irresponsible or naive dog owner. Knowing a dog's personality and having a general idea of what a dog's breed was created to do is essential for responsible dog ownership.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Know Your Dog: Non-Sporting Group

In honor of the Lowchen, whose presence along a path by the railroad track several blocks from my suburban neighborhood remains a mystery, I turn to Non-Sporting Dogs. As I have previously mentioned, there is no unifying principle determining a breed's membership in this group. Many Non-Sporting Dogs could be reasonably placed in another group. Schipperkes certainly were bred to be Working Dogs. Dalmatians were used as guard dogs for horse-drawn coaches, and, in my childhood were called Firehouse Dogs--Working Dog occupations. Poodles were originally water retrievers, a pretty Sporting purpose for a Non-Sporting Dog, I'd say.

Non-Sporting is also the group for some rare breeds that have been promoted to full A.K.C. recognition relatively recently--Tibetan Spaniels, Tibetan Terriers, and, Lowchens, for example.

Many Non-Sporting Dogs are what the British call Companion Dogs. This does not refer to the American certification of a dog as an assistant to the physically challenged human, but rather to its purpose: keeping humans company. These are the dogs that are insufficiently diminutive for the Toy Group, but function very much like the Toys. Bichon Frises, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos and Miniature Poodles are in this sub-group, as are Lowchens, and Tibetan Spaniels.

Nominees for The Most Stubborn Dog are also well represented in the Non-Sporting Group: Chinese Shar-Peis and Chow Chows are obvious competitors for that title. Lhasa Apsos, for all their Adorableness Quotient, are not known to be particularly eager to please humans. They seem to believe that humans need to please THEM!

But if I were to recommend a Best First Dog--a dog for someone who had never before had a dog--I would name a few from the Non-Sporting Group. Bichon Frises; Boston Terriers; Poodles, particularly the Miniature size; and, perhaps, either of the Bulldogs would be on my list.

My personal experience of Keeshonds tempts me to put them on the list, too. I have found them to be charming, affectionate dogs. But then, they had loving, responsible owners.

But, no surprise. You can acquire the most easy-going breed of dog and turn it into a nervous wreck by neglect. Or, you can acquire an admittedly challenging breed and turn into a menace by neglect.

Some Non-Sporting Dogs require daily or twice daily grooming in addition to regular trips to a professional groomer. If you lack time and money, give the American Eskimos, Bichon Frises, Chow Chows, Lhasa Apsos, Lowchens, Poodles, Tibetan Spaniels and Tibetan Terriers a pass.

But all Non-Sporting Dogs, as all other dogs, require socialization, patience, and consistency. If you can't deliver those, don't get any dog.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Homeless Lowchen

When one thinks of dogs in need of rescue, a Lowchen is one of the last breeds that comes to mind. Indeed, it is sufficiently rare that it is one of the last breeds that comes to mind period.

When my neighbor told me that she was fostering a lost Lowchen, all that came to my mind was the dog shown right after the Lhasa Apso in the Non-Sporting group. A dog with a full front of fluffy tresses and shaved hind-quarters--The Lion Dog.

I immediately turned to the invaluable website of the American Kennel Club and read a glowing review of the breed. Smart, affectionate, low dander, cheerful, gets along with other breeds, easily trained.

None of that sounds much like the dog my neighbor was playing hostess to. THAT dog has knocked over and smashed a silk room-dividing screen, broken a window screen, broken an antique lamp, chewed various electrical cords, terrorized the resident cat, emptied and scattered the cat-litter box, scratched the resident Boxer's cornea, upset the resident Lab mix and pushed the Parrot close to a nervous breakdown.

Pretty impressive for a creature who was covered in stickers and ticks and near starvation at the time of rescue.

This particular homeless dog is much more fortunate than the average homeless dog. It is a rare and therefore valuable breed that scores a 10 on the Adorableness Scale. There is an active and diligent breed rescue organization that is being contacted.

And, this dog has found its way to the home of a true Animal Lover. Not just the sentimental type who wipes a tear from the eye and murmurs, "How sad." But an Animal Lover who takes stray pets to the vet and pays the bills and forgives the "accidents" and stays up all night, if necessary, with a frightened or sick animal. These are the strangers on whom needy domestic animals must depend when their owners find them to be too much of a bother, or they inadvertently become separated from their families.

What is this dog's story? Will we ever find out? What we do know is that even the best breed rescues must rely on the generosity of strangers--people who care for stray and hurting pets--until official rescuers can be contacted.

What we also know is that a few days of living rough can traumatize any domestic pet and can complicate the project of rescue and re-homing.

God Bless my neighbor, who just may have saved one Lowchen's life.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dog Found

A Lowchen has been found and is being cared for by my neighbor. It's not every day that a Lowchen is found running loose. If you think this might be your dog, please contact me. My email is portiasmom at live.com

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Know Your Dog: Herding Group

The time has come for me to discuss Herding Dogs. This is a MAJOR challenge for me for two reasons: 1. Dogs in the running for Most Intelligent Breed are overly represented in the Herding Group. 2. Not one of the Dogs of My Life has been a Herding Dog.

Working Dogs may have done well in literature, but Herding Dogs have movies made of the books that star them. Nana and Carl and Clifford are admirable. But Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin are Legends.

From here, I must tread carefully. Some of my best friends are Herding devotees. Unfortunately, they are not devoted to the same Herding breed. The danger of treading on some human toes is ever on my mind.

The German Shepherd Dog--or Alsatian, as the British have, I think, more wisely named it--is probably most frequently cited as The Most Intelligent Dog Breed. There. I have said it. I am sure that lovers of Australian Shepherds, Collies, Border Collies, Belgian Malinois, and just about every other Herding breed will disagree. But let me say once more. I really do not have a dog in this fight.

One of the reasons that the German Shepherd is such strong contender for the Most Intelligent Canine title is that it is what I call a Cusp Dog. My definition of a Cusp Dog is one that might reasonably be placed in two or three different groups. Although the GSD retains its ability to herd, herding is not the first activity most people associate with the breed. Indeed, when I was a child, my friends and I called German Shepherds "Police Dogs". Look in the back of any K-9 unit of your local police force. You are likely to see an impressive German Shepherd looking back at you, performing the job of a Working Dog.

Or, if you have occasion to watch a dog assist a Bomb or Drug Squad, sniffing out a Dangerous Substance, it is unlikely that you will see a Scent Hound. You will probably see a German Shepherd or a German Shepherd mix. (Here, I must add that Someone Who Ferrets Out Such Facts, assures me that the Greatest Drug Sniffing Dog of All Time was a Belgian Malinois.) Another Cusp Dog, by the way.

German Shepherd Dogs are consistently among America's favorite dogs, currently, number three in AKC registrations. This, sadly, makes them particularly vulnerable to irresponsible and unscrupulous breeders who prey on ignorant or lazy buyers. If you are purchasing ANY pure bred dog or puppy, ALWAYS buy from a breeder who shows the breed and who will take the dog back, "if things don't work out." Really careful breeders interview prospective purchasers with the skill of a trial attorney. Don't be surprised if you are required to present all members of your household for questioning. Be sure to answer all questions truthfully.

If you watch Agility Trials, you are familiar with Border Collies and Aussies--two breeds with long histories of working in close partnership with humans. Both breeds are in the running for Most Intelligent Dog. Their quick response to commands can be stunning. Border Collies have a stare designed to bring sheep under control that can almost make a human think they are mind readers.

So, if Herding Dogs are so smart, shouldn't they be the first dogs under consideration when someone is acquiring a dog? I don't think so.

If you choose one of these Canine Einsteins, you had better be prepared for serious and continuing activity with your dog. Obedience training is just the beginning. These dogs need to be OCCUPIED! Bored Herding Dogs can be destructive in all sorts of creative ways. With too much idle time on their paws, Herding Dogs go a little crazy. Then they drive YOU crazy!

Think before you bring a Herding Dog into your life. Are you truly ready to involve yourself in such a close and active partnership? If not, get some popcorn and settle back to watch an old movie. May I suggest Lassie, Come Home or The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Bingley! The Survivor is Six Years Old Today

The afternoon of February 16, 2008, John and I were standing with Darren in a turnout run at Greyhound Adoption Center, trying to decide which of two dogs to adopt. Portia had romped and played with both dogs, and it was probable that either dog would adjust to her aggressive play style.

These are terrible moments. Even though the dog you don't choose will have good care from dedicated staff and volunteers at the rescue kennel, dogs need a home, and only one dog was going to get a home that day. Which to choose?

I felt a brush against my leg and looked down into the warmest, sweetest pair of brown canine eyes. "Please take me home." I swear I heard the words.

We brought the big fawn-red Greyhound home that day to be Portia's buddy. Today he is our only dog. He is a Survivor. The Survivor. This is his story.

When Bingley was three weeks shy of his second birthday, on August 11, 2005, he ran and won his first race in Florida. He continued to race in Florida until sometime between June and November of 2006. He won his first race in Tucson, Arizona on November 14, 2006. The last race he won was in Tucson on January 1, 2007. He lost races on January 4 and January 8.

Racing Greyhounds have limited chances to be winners. If they stop winning and no one rescues them, they are killed. Fortunately, Bingley wasn't killed. Unfortunately, sometime after January 8, 2007, Bingley was sold to Gambling Man. Gambling Man thought it would be a good idea to run his own string of Greyhounds.

Bingley was one of five Greyhounds that Gambling Man acquired. I don't like to think about what life was like during the months Bingley and his four companions were being hauled around while Gambling Man tried to set up races for them. Eventually, they were hauled into California, where dog racing is illegal.

The authorities caught up with Gambling Man on October 13, 2007. Greyhound Adoption Center was notified and Rescuer, with many years of removing Greyhounds from bad situations was on hand when Gambling Man's dog hauler was opened. Rescuer reports that it had been years since she had witnessed such a dreadful scene of neglect. Two dogs had died. Three had survived. Bingley was a Survivor.

It's fortunate that Gambling Man was found and the dogs were rescued when they were. A week later, San Diego County was engulfed in fires that would have made such a rescue impossible. Indeed, Bingley and his two buddies were among the dogs evacuated from the Greyhound Adoption Center kennel at the height of the fires.

Bingley knew nothing about houses when he first entered ours. We had put large pieces of paper on windows and sliding doors, so that he would understand that they were not starting gates and try to run through them. We put paper squares on the mirrored doors of my closet. But Bingley could still see the dog looking directly at him from inside the closet. No matter how hard he tried, though, he couldn't dig through the carpet to reach that dog. Each time I opened the closet door, he was poised--then puzzled.

Bingley learned to ask Portia's permission for just about anything. THE kong was the kong that Portia wanted. THE sofa was the sofa Portia wanted to laze on. Of course, as soon as Bingley got comfortable on the other sofa, Portia might--and probably would--change her mind. Bingley would let Portia have HER sofa.

The one place where Bingley ruled was out-of-doors. Houses and sofas and cushion beds and toys were wonderful, but they weren't a part of the world he knew. What he DID know was running--and chasing small or furry critters.

Portia might start a race in the back yard, but Bingley always won it.

Bingley changed--and still changes--from sweet, get-along doggie to SUPERDOG, once the front door opens. So he'd better be on leash. Shortly after he came to live with us, we discovered that he could duck out of a regular Martingale collar in a nanosecond and streak across TWO lanes of traffic in order to chase two Chihuahuas.

Both Chihuahuas and Bingley survived. But Bingley now sports a two inch wide, custom-made Martingale collar (thank you, Laurel) and a harness when he is out and about.

Bingley doesn't understand "Fetch." And certainly not "Bring it here." HE tosses. HE catches. HE keeps.

Bingley cannot always remember what "sit" means. But he remembers where he saw the last bunny in the park and which houses have cats.

The night of the attack, after Portia had been savaged and John had been bitten and fell, Bingley slipped out of both collar and harness and in spite of being bitten, he helped our neighbor, Jim, chase the attacking dog back to his yard. And very uncharacteristically for the high-prey Greyhound that he is, he returned to John promptly when he was called.

These sad two months since our beautiful Portia died, Bingley has been a constant solace to John and me. But we know Bingley is lonely. He's never been an only dog before, and not all the squeaky toys in the world can replace his pal, Portia.

We're thinking about finding another buddy for him. When we're ready. When we find the perfect--or next to perfect pal for our Survivor.

But today, it's time to say, Happy Birthday, Bingley, Bing, Bing-Bing, Bing-a-ling, Mr. Bingley, Mr. B. And many, many more.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Be Kind To Your Dog

Yesterday morning, Marilyn and I walked our dogs in a nearby park. At 8am, it was already hot. We stayed in the shade as much as possible. When one of the dogs decided to lie down on the grass for a break, we understood that the dog knew best.

About 45 minutes into our walk, we saw a jogger in the distance, on the other side of the park. The man was running with a short-legged Jack Russell on leash, who was valiantly trying to keep up with him. If a Jack Russell is running more slowly than a human, that's a good sign that the little terrier is seriously tiring.

Hot summer days are not good jogging days for dogs. Heat prostration is life threatening for them.

A little over three years ago, my wonderful Zephyr was attacked on the evening of a record breaking heat wave. In spite of the fact that she was oozing and dripping blood from multiple wounds, she was triaged to be seen last at the emergency vet's. Why? Several dog owners in my community had returned from work that hot day and had taken their dogs for a run. The result was more life threatening than a dog attack that eventually required about 100 stitches and four drains for Zephyr.

I hope the jogger we saw yesterday stopped in time for his Jack Russell.