Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oh, snap!

Last week it was turtles. Today it was alligators. M's beloved Florida State University Seminoles do love to spear them some reptiles. He says it's about time they beat the University of Florida, though. Their last win over their arch-rival was seven years ago. Final score today: 'Noles 31 - Gators 7.

I think it's strange that FSU had a harder time with the University of Maryland Terrapins. I mean, aren't alligators supposed to be a lot bigger and more vicious? Just another of life's mysteries, I guess. Oh, and speaking of the Terps, M says they beat North Carolina State today, which lets FSU play for the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. But earlier in the season, the 'Noles lost to that same NC State!

Like I understand any of this. It all makes my head hurt. But I'm very happy that M is happy, because maybe he'll give me an extra Milk Bone or something.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Eileen, therefore I am.

M says that I lean on people when I sit or stand beside them. He says if I'd been a girl dog they'd probably have named me Eileen. I have news for him: I've leaned on folks for a long time, even when I couldn't let them touch me. I wouldn't have survived without them. And now that I'm okay with the touchy-feely thing--well, it just feels right to cozy up to them, to let them know that I'm thankful for their love and their friendship.

If that noisy parade on the TV is any indication, today is Thanksgiving Day. What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Dog's Purpose

Here's a public service announcement from M: "If you read only one more novel in your life--or one more dog book of any kind--make it A Dog's Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron."

M told me a lot about this story while he was reading it, so I'm not surprised that he wants me to use the blog to help spread the word. From what I hear, there's some stuff about the main character that I can relate to--and not just the bit where he ends up with the name Buddy, though I'll admit that did get my attention.

This is the book's description from Publishers Weekly:

"A tail-wagging three hanky boo-hooer, this delightful fiction debut by newspaper columnist Cameron (8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter) proposes that a dog's purpose might entail being reborn several times. Told in a touching, doggy first-person, this unabashedly sentimental tale introduces Toby, who's rescued by a woman without a license for her rescue operation, so, sadly, Toby ends up euthanized. He's reborn in a puppy mill and after almost dying while left in a hot car, he's saved again by a woman, and he becomes Bailey, a beloved golden retriever, who finds happiness and many adventures. His next intense incarnation is as Ellie, a female German shepherd, a heroic search and rescue dog. But the true purpose of this dog's life doesn't become totally clear until his reincarnation as Buddy, a black Lab. A book for all age groups who admire canine courage, Cameron also successfully captures the essence of a dog's amazing capacity to love and protect. And happily, unlike Marley, this dog stays around for the long haul."

I asked M what he liked most about the story, and he said the dog's voice, having the whole thing told from the dog's viewpoint and with his limited perspective. "Of course he's always learning--usually the hard way," he added. "Sort of like you."

"Dig it," I replied. "Anything else really grab you?"

"The ending," he said. "I absolutely did not see it coming."

He told me what it was, and I agree it's amazing. And that's all I'm going to say about it.

Out of 252 customer reviews at, 233 are 5-star, while eight more give it four. The three cranks who rated it at one star are probably animal control officers or puppy mill operators, but in fairness I didn't look. Maybe they're just unsentimental or unhappy or something.

For more about the author, check out his website: There's also a special page devoted to the book with lots of neat things on it. And finally, Mr. Cameron has a blog that's almost as good as this one.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just say 'Noles!

Okay, I found out what a 'Nole is. It's short for Florida State University Seminole, and there are actually two types. Here is the more common one:

and here is the other:

I think I know why the 'Noles sometimes snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (which to me still sounds like a lot of fun). It's because only the first kind of 'Nole gets to actually play in the game. I'm pretty sure that if they each had a big horse and a flaming spear, the outcome would never be in doubt.

They were at it again last night. As M explained it to me, the 'Noles were trying to protect a seven-point lead with less than five minutes left in regulation play. But their opponents, the University of Maryland Terrapins, or Terps for short, had the ball and were moving it down the field. They were trying to score a touchdown and kick an extra point that would tie the game and force it into overtime, where they might hopefully win it. (Or, he said, they could make a touchdown and a two-point conversion with a run or a pass and win without the overtime. But hardly anyone tries that because it's too risky.)

The Terps' situation, M pointed out, was like the one the 'Noles faced last week, except the score wasn't tied--though it had been tied earlier, and in fact the Terps had led three different times. So now the Terps would first have to tie it again and then win in overtime. And if they couldn't do both of these things, they would be the ones to snatch the defeat, yadda-yadda-yadda. I yawned, because it was pretty late and this was a lot of confusing detail to absorb.

I asked M what the name Terrapin means, and he said it's a kind of turtle. Hello-o! Had I heard him right? The 'Noles were having a tough time beating turtles? Wild dogs would eat them for brunch.

Anyway, with under a minute left in the game, an exciting thing happened--and it wasn't a Terps touchdown. One of the FSU players intercepted a Terps pass on the four-yard line and ran it back 96 yards for a 'Noles touchdown! The game ended with a final score of FSU 30 - Maryland 16.

One thing that still puzzles me is that while the 'Nole was running for that last touchdown, his teammates and the FSU coaches were trying to get his attention and make him put his knee down and stop the play. Then FSU would have won by just seven points, but the game would have ended sooner because the Terps couldn't have gotten the ball back. Excuse me, but that's just silly. I know I'm just a dog, but I promise you that if I'd caught that ball I'd still be running with it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What the heck is a 'Nole?

Late last night as I dozed on my couch and the TV droned in the background, I was vaguely aware of M and J sitting on the edges of their chairs. They were discussing something called 'Noles. M said the 'Noles were probably going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory again, and I thought that sounded like a pretty fun thing to do. Then he said they were going to try a 55-yard field goal with three seconds left on the clock and if they made it they would win the game, but if they missed it, the game would go into overtime. I think that's when the 'Noles were planning to snatch the defeat thingy. I was hoping they'd go ahead and make the field goal so we could turn off the TV.

They did. M and J seemed pretty happy about it. But I still don't know what a 'Nole is. Must remember to ask.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nutcracker! Sweeeet!

Six months ago I couldn't even spell "nutcracker" and now I am one!

M and J went away for a few hours yesterday and left me and Arlo to rearrange stuff. (Hint: I did all the work.) Before they left, they tried to Buddy-proof the house--especially the kitchen--but they usually like to leave something within reach to give me a feeling of accomplishment. This time it was a basket of walnuts that was on top of the stove, kind of far back, so that I had to stand on my tippy-toes and really stretch to reach it. Before I managed to do that, it looked something like this. (Keep in mind that in this photo it doesn't have as many nuts as it did originally.)

I would have been happy to just move the whole thing carefully to my bed in the living room, as I usually do. But it had so many pieces that as soon as I dragged it off the stove, it sort of went all over the floor. So when M and J came home I'm afraid it looked a bit disorganized:

One good thing that came from the whole experience, though, is that I can now open walnuts with my teeth:

In keeping with the "sometimes-you-feel-like-a-nut" theme, today my friend Davina stopped by with her Great Danes, Benny and Bessie. I got to go outside and schmooze with them. While I was out there I showed them how to eat acorns, caps and all. M and J tried to make me stop, saying I'd probably get sick. But I didn't. (Stop or get sick.) And anyway, a dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy birthday, Devil Dogs!

Today is the 235th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. To let me help celebrate, M loaned me his Marine "utility cover." Clothing of any type usually isn't my thing, but this was a reasonable exception. I think I cut quite a dashing figure:

M says this picture is very appropriate for today's blog post. That's because after the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood, the German soldiers called the Marines they were fighting Teufelhunden, which is pronounced "toy'-ful hoon'-den" and means "Devil Dogs." He also says that to this day Marines like that nickname a lot better than the usual alternatives of "leathernecks" and "jarheads."

We took some other poses while we were at it. Here's one I call I'm too sexy for my hat, too sexy . . .

Of course, it might be even sexier if we cock it down over one eye:

Oops--who turned out the lights?

Anyway, let me get back on message and tell proud Marines and their families everywhere, "Happy birthday and Semper Fi . . . and a great big Ooh-rah!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

When you lie down with humans . . .

. . . someone eventually takes your picture.

The first time something like this happened I was still living in the wild. J had been hand-feeding me bits of raw New York strip steak and then for some reason lay down in the grass, using her purse as a pillow. She seemed surprised when I flopped down beside her. (Here's a little secret: Give me enough steak and I'll let you use me for a pillow!) M was unable to capture that Kodak moment because he'd left his camera at home.

A few weeks ago I heard M and J wondering out loud whether they could recreate the scene in our living room. J pretended to fall asleep on the floor and I couldn't begin to disappoint her, even without the food bribery. So I stretched out in front of her and we made like two spoons in a drawer.

I knew she wasn't really sleeping. But before you could say "Goodnight, John Boy," I was! (Hey--I'm a dog. It's what I do.)

Friday, November 5, 2010