Category Archives: literature

A Dog on His Master, by Billy Collins (2010)

Tonight I watched a movie in which Billy Collins reads the poem below. Sadie lay splayed on the couch between me and DH and I cried with simple and complete appreciation.

 

A DOG ON HIS MASTER

As young as I look,

I am growing older faster than he,

seven to one

is the ratio they tend to say.

Whatever the number,

I will pass him one day

and take the lead

the way I do on our walks in the woods.

And if this ever manages

to cross his mind,

it would be the sweetest

shadow I have ever cast on snow or grass.

(from Ballistics: Poems, Random House, 2010)

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Sometimes Love Really Is a Bitch

I could chase my own tail with excitement!

It is sometimes lovely to be completely unaware what is happening in the world. There come distinct moments of delight and surprise that could not occur otherwise.  I’m sitting here by the fire, googling this cozy Friday evening away, and I discovered that NOT ONLY was an animated feature-film length version of Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip released in early September, but it will be playing at Landmark E Street Cinemas on 11/5.  

Best literary animal work of all time coming soon to my favorite movie theater?  With Lynn Redgrave, Christopher Plummer, and Isabella Rossellini? Did I mention the clever log line, Sometimes Love Really Is a Bitch? And that the E Street theater serves wine?

Oh, this calls for some serious pre-game indeed. Consider getting your own copy and following along….



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Filed under Adopting Dogs, Dog Training, literature

Pretty Thoughts for the Season

Yesterday was a glorious fall day in the DC Metro Area. DH usually does morning walk duty with Sadie and Dub, but yesterday I bolted shamelessly from my side of the bed to volunteer. And by shameless, I mean that I muscled through the shame I felt to get what I wanted. On days when I don’t have to be anywhere, playing with the dogs out while DH makes breakfast for Pebbles and Bam Bam is a mouthwatering luxury, and DH knows it. Add an overpriced cup of coffee, and the minivan practically drives itself to the dog run.

Right. I drove them to the dog run. It undermines one of my primary excuses for getting the dogs (to encourage exercise) but supports the other – the play side.

Nothing marvelous or extraordinary occurred while we played. Dogs sniffed and were sniffed, Frisbees were caught. But my three-dollar coffee tasted SO good between chucks of Dub’s slobbery, muddy tennis ball into the glinting sunlight. And all while Sadie mosied about sharing the love, as she as wont to do whenever friendly strangers are in her midst. Sadie is the Blanche DuBois of dog run visitors.

"I've always depended on the kindess of, well, you know..."

With all the unmitigated quiet in my head, I had the presence to ask myself why I loved this moment so much. I didn’t used to love this moment. Not with giddy enthusiasm, anyway. When we lived in Manhattan with Samson, and DH was traveling for work, I could be positively grudging as I buttoned my coat up to my nose while waiting at the coffee cart with our first Brittany. I’d spill half the coffee down my sleeve and curse a blue streak while I trudged to the run at Riverside and 105th. Then I’d drink what was left while Samson poked his nose through the iron fence and pointed squirrels on the other side. Feeling guilty for having a hunting dog in the city, I’d let him out of the run (after checking carefully for park police) to chase local vermin, and then inevitably, he’d gallop away and I would spend the next 15 minutes running about in a tearful panic, hoping he didn’t make it all the way to 96th street and try to cross….   

That was the worry of my life in those days — Samson getting creamed by the cars turning off of West Side Highway onto Riverside Drive. I was getting my MFA, and one memorable morning, Samson’s self-guided hunting expodition made me nearly late for a seminar where I would get to meet Arthur Miller, up close and personal. I thought I was going to KILL him. (Samson, not Mr. Miller. I almost leapt across the table and kissed Mr. Miller on the lips, so brimming with life and creative potential was I on that fall day…)

As I picked up a steaming pile of poop before we headed home yesterday, I drew the somewhat reluctant conclusion that Sadie and Dub inspire nostalgia for more carefree days. Once I got them loaded into the back of the minivan, I edited that thought. They help me be more care-free today.

It’s pretty to think so, anyway.

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First Check-This-Blogger Alert: My Puppy, My Self

I just discovered a blogger after my own heart and wanted to share with all 17 of you, my dear readers: My Puppy, My Self.

I somewhat question whether the blog title, “My Puppy, My Self,”  accurately reflects the content, catchy though it is.  The intentional separation of “my” and self” may lead a casual reader to believe that the author sees his puppy as one with his “self.”  But I don’t think this this is the simplistic case at all after reading a few of his articles.  For example, on July 16, 2010, blog author Lee Charles Kelley writes:

One of my main themes here is that, for most species (excluding cetaceans and some primates), animal consciousness should be described economically, through the laws of physics, not through higher-order intellectual thought processes. (This is why I think Freud — whose psychology was based on the conservation of energy — is more relevant to dog training than Pavlov and Skinner.) 

From post titled “Canine Communication, II: “Calming Signals & the Mel Gibson Tapes

It’s good stuff! This is the kind of guy who experences transendence reading books like My Dog Tulip.  Therefore, I respectfully suggest he rethink the blog title. Something more cerebral, perhaps? (If I come up with any brilliant notions, I shall of course suggest them to Mr. Kelley directly.)

I’m reminded of the translation issues over Chekov’s Lady With a Little Dog.  Since the Russian language doesn’t use articles, what meaning are we superimposing by chosing “a little dog” over “the little dog.” And what does it mean if we change it to “The Lady?” 

I digress.

Check it out. “My Puppy, My Self ” contains some good ideas about dogs and people… that is, of you’re into dog psychology, human psychology, and intersections of the two.

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Filed under Dog Training, literature

What to expect?

  1. This blog is about the dogs in my life. And maybe motherhood. Wifely duties. A deep affinity for the amber liquors that bolster my ability to endure all three. But mostly about the dogs.  Dogs I once owned, and the dogs to come. 
  2. You’re welcome to share stories about your dogs. Same for the motherhood and wifely duties crap.
  3. Blog Rating: PG-13. May contain adult situations.
  4. I will, however, refrain from unnecessarily foul language.
  5. In keeping with the greatest animal writers, and out of respect for animals, I will work hard to avoid anthropomorphizing dogs and for that matter, all of God’s creatures.
  6. Count on regular references to literary dogs. (And by this I mean, for example, Tulip. Not Philip Roth.)
  7. I’m not a religious freak; that “God’s creatures” business was just me unable to think of another word for animals.
  8. Chipmunks may talk from time to time. Because chipmunks, and I think history proves this, deserve it. Maddening little motherfuckers.
  9. I will continue posting for 6 months and then reevaluate. That gives me until… hang on…counting ahead from the day I launched….December 21st.  The winter solstice.  My goal has a name! Now it’s definitely my end date.  I believe this to be a sure-fire sign of a book deal.
  10. Recall point #1; this is not about a getting book deal, it’s about my dogs.
  11. Wow. The winter solstice!  Shortest day of the year. Interestingly, this is also my parents’ wedding anniversary.
  12. My father died 12 years ago. My mother has been happily remarried for years.  Her new anniversary is in May.
  13. I will not end any blog lists on the number 13.  Who gets selected to adopt a beautiful Brittany, much less lands a book deal, by not attending to superstitions? I don’t stop on sidewalk cracks either; please reference #12 for substantiating proof point.
  14. I will post a few times a week. That is the all I can offer you.
  15. I should be clear; I don’t actually HAVE a dog at the moment. I’m between animals.
  16. And finally, I will stop before the cutesy, devicey stuff gets to be too much
  17. Or shortly thereafter.

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Filed under Adopting Dogs, Brittanys, Kids, literature, Marriage

Welcome to The Play Side

You’ll call this sentimental–perhaps–but then a dog somehow represents the private side of life, the play side.

Virginia Woolf

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