Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Wheel in the Sky
Never knew this carny dog but I did know that sausage flipper for many years. His name was Jojo. Unfortunately, we lost him a few months back to a long standing heart condition and I just wanted to take a moment to say goodbye & good luck to him here at the end of 2009. This photograph was taken on Thanksgiving morning (circa 1999) at winter quarters in Tampa.

Clean up on Aisle Twelve
Stella and I went to Lowe's yesterday where apparently, some one of you cruised the aisles eating (and dropping) popcorn all over the place. Having had some experience with popcorn in her younger days on the midway, she took care of it in short order. I'm thinking of renting her out.

Postcard From the Road

We got a note from Mr. Belvedere's mom the other day. Having spent a whole summer on the road, he's having some much deserved R&R in Miami. We're more than a little bit jealous but we totally approve.

Exercise Your Right to Vote
In an effort to win a $200. donation to the animal rescue of our choice I am asked to persuade you dear people to cast a vote for Stella at Koko's Pet Spa (It's a close-up photo of just her face). In theory, you could vote once a day until January 15 but we'd love it if you even clicked the one time. Thanks.

One Last Thing
We'd like to thank all of our readers, subjects, followers and twitter friends for their comments and support here this year. If it hadn't been for you this little scrap book wouldn't exist. Have a happy and prosperous 2010.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Radnor Lake

Radnor Lake is just over the hill from our house and no matter what time of year it is, it's a great place to walk the human or the dog in your life. My (personal) dog, who is prey-driven and may have been a Bloodhound in a former life, is frustrated by the olfactory stimulation of it all but we visit occasionally anyway. It's a wildlife refuge and although my own nose isn't so sensitive, I suspect (by her behavior) the scent of deer is overwhelming. In an effort to preserve their habitat, dogs are required to stay on the paved road, which is off-limits to motorized traffic, but the scenery is still pretty spectacular. Three days after we last visited, it became clear there was yet another reason to keep your dog on a leash at all times - not only at Radnor Lake but at any of the parks in Tennessee. You know if there's someone paranoid enough to carry a semi-automatic weapon into a neighborhood park, they wouldn't hesitate to parlay that stupidity onto a loose dog.

Lately, I've been reading a ton of stuff about natural dog training (it focuses more attention on the the direction or redirection of a dog's energy; see links below). A couple of days ago I decided to implement a little regimen of exercises with Stella. This led us immediately, to one of the best walks we've ever had. There was little pulling and her reactivity to squirrels and other dogs was greatly diminished. I was excited by what I considered to be her progress. For once in fifteen months of walking, she was entirely mine.

We have been on walks since that time where I (again) played the part of anchor at the end of Stella's leash. I try not to take it personally (which may in fact, be the real trick). We continue to practice.

Here are a couple of good links to information on natural dog training if anyone is interested in learning more. Kevin Behan, Lee Charles Kelley's Blog and Neil Sattin's Natural Dog Blog. I haven't seen any research on it (if there is any) but the neuropsychologist in me suspects that it's perfectly logical.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Puppy love

Crisp and clean the air this day as we walk your favorite trail. The autumn teases us, the rains have come and gone but this day is thankfully, bright. Perfect. We dodge a hailstorm of black walnuts and I threaten to retrieve both hard hats from the trunk of the car. We walk in unison and you, suddenly remembering your independence dance away from me and back as if I plan to stop you. No longer fearful of the concrete fairies in the grass, you run to greet them now. A flock of birds breathe life into the trees above us, beginning their song, then suddenly stopping over and over again. Forever following your nose, you don't seem to notice them at all.

I sing your praises the entire way, telling you more than once how beautiful you are, how you are ninety nine point three percent a perfect dog and that I will love you forever until one of us is dead. You are thrilled as always to be outside soaking up the sun. I love how you know your way around this place, the first trail on which I ever took you walking. You turn the corner into the woods in just the right place bringing us to where the two creeks join each other and the thirty foot umbilical cord between us gives me room to pass you on the right as you stop to investigate something on the ground. Continuing on, around the bend a short distance, I stop and patiently wait for you behind a tree, imagining the entire time that you can feel my heartbeat trailing down the leash and around your still-soft belly.

Breathing in the sweet, luminous air, I eventually drop the leash to test my theory, firm in the belief that you will sense my departure and come looking for me. Nothing happens. I peek around the tree. I gaze lovingly at your magnificently cute backside with those swirls of hair, and your tail still wagging quietly thirty feet away, you are engrossed. I walk slowly back to where you're standing, only to find my reverie set on fire by the fact that you are busy making lunch of a rather large pile of something expelled from the belly of a big raccoon.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Richland Creek Greenway

Thanks in part to a close personal friend - who might choose to remain anonymous, Nashville has managed, over the last ten years to incorporate a ton of green space into its landscape. Beyond the traditional parks and recreation areas, there are a number of greenways that follow the creeks and rivers in and around the city. They're abundant, well-maintained and logistically convenient to most areas. That said, prior to Stella, I hadn't taken advantage of any of them. Now, it's become something of a challenge to hit every one in town.

Richland Creek Greenway, on the west side of town, is a favorite.
For the most part, it's flat but the scenery changes at regular intervals, there's some built-in historic interest and the creek itself is really beautiful. I usually try to go after a big rain although I don't let Stella go in the creek there since it's surrounded on all sides by commercial businesses, busy streets and neighborhoods. It also runs alongside the edge of a golf course, which fascinates Stella to no end but is more than likely laced with fertilizer and pesticides. Barring that, it's a great walk and well worth the short drive over there. (There's a trail map here) At the moment, the only restroom available to humans is a portable toilet at the White Bridge Rd. trail head. Plan accordingly. If you're visiting or passing through Nashville on I40 this greenway is simple to get to. From the White Bridge Rd. exit go south about one mile, it'll be on the left, just before the intersection at West End Avenue.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


It's been a funny week. Funny ha-ha, not funny strange, for the most part. Thanksgiving was a pretty good time. My sister-in-law, despite having a whole house full of guests, let me take Stella to her house on Thursday. Stella needed some kid time and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. There would also be dogs there but their owners made an executive decision to keep them away from her and/or the rest of the crowd. I was sorry about that but it was their decision to make. She had fun with the kids anyway and a few minutes after we finally got home, she collapsed in a way I haven't seen since her younger days.

On Saturday we found a new dog park that's fairly close to the house. Unlike Nashville, they haven't passed an ordinance to ban pit bulls from it yet which is great but it wasn't without challenges. First, there weren't any dogs there and when Stella goes into an empty dog park, she has no idea what to do with herself. Her nose is hyper-engaged which apparently renders her deaf so we always end up leaving. No ball tossing, no running around, it's like we're lost in a foreign country. I decided to take her for a walk and try again later on. When we came back there were two dogs, Midnight, a lab mix and Maizie, a beagle puppy who probably weighed oh, I don't know - five pounds. We stood outside the fence for a couple of minutes and both dogs ran over to greet Stella. They touched noses through the chain link and Stella did the play bow like she always does. We approached the gate and I watched the blood drain right out of the faces of the puppy's owners. I can't say I blamed them, I would've been concerned too. They stood up and walked straight over to us and asked me point blank what kind of dog Stella was. I sucked it up and told them the truth. I didn't want to but I also want people to learn that she's not scary or dangerous or bad. It turned out they were a brave young couple and when Stella headed off with the other (bigger) dog, they decided to stay. Fifteen minutes later, the beautiful and, as we were about to learn talented, Maizie was ready for her turn. She ran up and body checked Stella much the same way Stella does to the biggest dog in the dog park.

Never one to turn down a romp, she got up and launched off after the puppy. Cue the cartoon chase music. The next few minutes were hysterical. The five pound puppy out ran the pit bull. Turns out, she had moves. She'd dive under a bench and do a one-eighty, lie down flat and look at Stella, then take off running again. Stella loved it. L-O-V-E-D it and all four of us adults, paralyzed at first, were charmed right out of our brains. It was magical. It was like five hundred dollars worth of mood elevating pharmaceuticals, crammed into six minutes.

The photos below are from a visit to a different dog park. Stella had fun that day too and even managed to briefly engage a Husky (which hardly ever happens, they don't usually have time for her nonsense).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Walkin' the dog

I asked my mama for fifteen cents,
see the elephant jump the fence.
He jumped so high, he touched the sky.
Never got back till the Fourth of July.
Walkin' the dog ~Rufus Thomas

Over the last year Stella and I have logged enough walking miles to have gone from Nashville to Detroit. Before she came along, I walked with my neighbor but it never amounted to much because we were undisciplined and only went a couple of times a week. Back then I wasn't carrying a camera or a bag of "accessories" and it was less like being tied to the bumper of a car but I digress. Walking twice a day means looking for new and interesting places to go which in the beginning, I thought would be an impossible task. In this (rookie) year I've learned a lot about dog walking, not the least of which is that Nashville is rich with parks and greenways. They are scattered throughout the city along natural waterways, they're convenient and well-maintained. Before the economy became the primary excuse for mindless cut-backs, they even came stocked with dog poop bags.

Beyond that, we've managed to do about a third of our walking in a variety of urban settings. I find those walks to be some of the most fun we've had. I could see where some dogs might not do so well on busy or otherwise crowded streets but practice and (prior) exercise seems to make all the difference. Someone remarked the other day about how well behaved Stella was to only be sixteen months old and I told them it all hinged on her level of exhaustion.

What I have realized in moments of creative brainstorming on the topic of where to go is that there doesn't have to be an actual place to walk your dog. If there's a sidewalk or some path to avoid traffic, you can basically walk anywhere. Sometimes that's the beauty of it.

That's a lot of hot air just to say that I am planning to post (in upcoming weeks) some of the better places around town to walk a dog, not only for the locals but for those who may be passing through. There's also a good chance Nashville's veteran dog walkers have their own lists of great places to walk so I'm secretly hoping they'll weigh in and give us some new ideas. As for the rest of you - where is your favorite place to walk your dog? Is it the same as your dog's favorite place?

While you're thinking about it, have a listen to Rufus Thomas and the Blues Brothers Band aka Booker T. & the M.G.'s

p.s. I cannot wait - to see Steve Cropper so I can ask him about those boots.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day Crush

Stella and I shot Nashville's Veterans Day Parade this afternoon. It's a pretty big parade but we overheard (and joined in on) several conversations about why so few people showed up to watch it. The weather was gorgeous and since the CMA awards were tonight I thought there would be a massive turnout. I was wrong. It's too bad the music business entirely overlooked it as they appear to be so supportive of veterans in their videos. Another suggestion someone had was that all of the school kids should have been invited, not just the ones in the parade. It's fun to be in the parade and all but not if nobody's there to see you. It seems like it would be pretty good field trip/history lesson. Somebody call Mayor Dean's office.

Moving on, we had a lot of fun. Stella got her groove on with a variety of dog-loving veterans, cub scouts, homeless people, a gang of squealing little girls, two guys in wheelchairs and a clown dressed like a cop. Oh yeah, and a Bulldog. Not just any Bulldog either. He was in the parade and they spotted each other at about the same time. Stella laid her head on my shoulder and watched him walk all the way down the street. I wish I had a picture of that, it was very sweet. I could say she had a crush him but it's just as likely she wanted to be in the parade.
Overall, I was proud that she managed to endure the sirens, the drums and a hundred Harley-Davidson motorcycles without incident so when we left after two hours, we headed for the dog park. There she met and wrestled with a great rescue dog named Finnegan, a Husky, and a gigantic St. Bernard who nullified that last bath with some of the most powerful dog slobber I've ever personally encountered. More on that another day.

Meanwhile, Happy Veterans Day and thanks to all the veterans out there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A mile from home

Last week Stella and I were taking one of our regular walks at Ellington Agricultural Center. The landscape looks as if it's been dipped in squash blossoms and Thanksgiving dinner this time of year. Aside from the police horses that live there, an occasional turtle, and one small fox, we've not had as many wildlife encounters there as one might imagine. If we had, I expect the dead cat would've been more of a tip-off.

It had been there for a good long time. Stella's nose was clearly off-duty when we walked up on it and praise Jesus, I was able to steer her away from it before they met. We crossed paths with the coyote shortly thereafter.

I saw it in the distance and thought it was a fox. Stella saw it too. Pretty color, I thought. It matched the tall sandy grass and then it turned in our direction and moving at a steady clip, it began to get a lot bigger. I ordered Stella to stop and sit. Her immediate response confirmed my suspicion that it wasn't a fox at all. When it saw us, it froze. Me and Stella were already frozen.

When the coyote decided to turn back I was relieved and we headed for the big field at the bottom of the hill. The coyote did too but we were paying close attention now and when we walked into the field it stepped out of the tall grass (about 150' feet away) and sized us up again. This time, it was Stella and I that turned back.

I hope that makes us even.

Today we went back again and although we walked with a renewed perspective, the only wild critter we ran upon - used to be a possum. Much like the kitty, it had been professionally killed. Surely there's a hawk or a big owl cutting in on that coyote's gravy train, it's doubtful the coyote would've left enough of the carcass to identify.

To be honest, I hadn't planned on writing about the coyote encounter at all. The idea for this post started with the (profound) observation that Stella was so excited when she got out of the car this afternoon that her butt was moving faster than her head, but I guess I can write that one anytime.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Landscape Artist

Stella helped me rake leaves in the front yard on Thursday. Okay that's a lie. Stella mostly rolled around in the leaves gnawing on a pig foot and giving chase occasionally to imaginary villains. You'd think she didn't get any exercise at all.

I considered getting a bicycle recently just to keep up with her and trust me that would be a whole new level of training medical expense for both of us what with her prey drive/herding instinct confusion. It's like what happens when you mix Hip-hop and Country music. You know there's gonna' be a train wreck, you just don't know when it'll be. Since we're on the subject of exercise, what in God's name are those skates that Cesar Millan wears to exercise his dogs? They look like something I might have built in the basement one time except that mine would've fallen apart on the first skate and his seem to hold up pretty well. I'd love to try on a pair of them just to see if my vintage ankles would snap immediately or later on.

Okay, hold on - after an exhausting five-second search it seems the answer (as usual) is a just a click away. Clearly I'm behind in my skating technology (these skates have been around for five years) and have only recently acquired the National Geographic Channel. I know there are some dog lovers who run and ride bikes with their dog, but are there any skaters out there?

Getting back to the leaves, it was already late when we started so...five down twenty-one to go. It's like spitting in the Grand Canyon.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Pooch Plunge

Here's how it started.

I saw an ad for a fund-raiser for Nashville Public Television (NpT). It said bring your dog and swim all day at Nashville Shores. It sounded like fun. I can't remember the exact date, sometime in September. The forecast called for rain that day and organizers (basically) wimped out at the last minute and postponed the thing. It was stormy that week so I'm sure they thought no one would come. Anyway, they forgot to call me and Stella so we drove thirty minutes only to find a sign at the gate that said they'd rescheduled it to October 17. Come back then, it said. The weather cleared and we went walking at a different part of the lake that day. We splashed but we did not plunge.

The morning of October 17 it was cool and rainy. I checked the (Nashville Shores) website to make sure the event was still on and it said that it was. Seems I should've checked Twitter or the NpT website - two weeks earlier. We missed the memo. Again, we drove thirty minutes and again they were closed. Not a dog in sight.

So we broke in.
It just seemed like the thing to do. Trespass. With a Pit Bull.

We took a walking tour. We shot some pictures. We saw two deer and chased a few geese. We barked our asses off at some little concrete fishermen. We did not support public television (that day), nor did we plunge.

Next year.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekend escapade

There are a couple of ways to get Stella's undivided attention. One of those ways involves messing with her personal stuff. It didn't take long for her to figure out that if I take her crate apart, it's something serious. While I'm sure there were visions of corn dogs dancing in her head it turned out, we had a party invitation from my old friend Marian and Stella's soon-to-be friend Belle. This involved a three hour drive from Nashville to Knoxville and an overnight stay.

When we arrived, we all met up in the driveway for introductions. I'm happy to report that initially, things went well. We'll revisit that word, "initially" in a little while. Stella was excited but well-behaved and Belle being the smaller of the two, was a welcoming (and tolerant) hostess. I say tolerant because once inside, Stella managed to round up and begin chewing on every single toy in the house. Rather than engage in some unladylike physical confrontation, Belle chose the high road and raided Stella's food supply - knocking back two zip-lock protected servings in under five minutes. Her execution was brilliant.

The following morning we put both dogs into the back yard hoping they might play together. I should add, we don't have a fenced in yard so Stella's never been left outside alone before. She's not clear on what to do so she spent much of the next hour crying at the gate and feeling abandoned by her pack which (technically) she was. After breakfast, we decided to bring the dogs back in and go for a walk at a nearby greenway but when we went outside we realized that Stella had orchestrated some type of escape. Before I had a chance to be thoroughly traumatized by this little piece of news, Stella came barreling around the side of the house to reunite our pack. Belle meanwhile, romped around the neighborhood for the next hour smelling stuff, hunting squirrels and all manner of hound dog activity. An hour I spent, mostly thanking God that my own dog hadn't run off in a strange city.

Here's a photo of Stella and her new friend Belle looking slightly pitiful but very well-lit, prior to their offense. Saturday was National Pitbull Awareness Day. We missed the parade (if there was one) but feel free to help us spread the word; Pitbulls are precocious and grand.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stick Hunter (the underwater edition)

So..I guess her eyes are open right? This isn't an illusion created by the camera either. She stayed under the water searching for something like six or eight seconds (it was all I could do not to call out her name). She finally came up with a stick and ran like hell in every directions before she finally slung it out of reach and went back in for something else.

Today we took neighbor Judy to a doctor's appointment at local hospital where people were using Stella to soothe a crying baby from a third floor window. Eventually the baby and her grandparents came outside to meet us in person and Stella (after some random craziness) licked the baby pretty much from head to toe. Shame I didn't get a picture of that. We also passed some time with a mom whose son was getting his second round of chemotherapy. She actually gave me an idea about getting Stella a job as a sort of indirect therapy dog - because moms and other family members need some support occasionally too. I wonder if you have to be certified for that. I guess it wouldn't hurt to just go back up there and ask.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Crash and Splash

Not having had a great deal of experience with dogs, I had no idea they could (or would for that matter) run at full speed through standing water, biting it continuously the whole way through. I tried to capture this sport on film but was unsuccessful in my attempts. Something to do with her running and my laughing. Oh, and four-foot rooster tails of rain water splashing all over me and the camera. While those variable affected my performance, they only served to enhance hers.

Now that we've been using a thirty-foot leash for training purposes, this field is one of Stella's favorite places to walk when when it's been raining. It's like a giant Slip n'Slide. Sometimes, instead of attack mode, she'll get running and throw herself into the ground chest first, skidding through the puddles all the way to the end. Turns out that leash has some entertainment value as well. She was pretty much wet the entire month of September.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Old Friends

Last week while the fair was going on here, Stella and I took a stroll down the midway a number of times. As I mentioned before, it was almost like she never left there. She can dive under a bally cloth and come out with what's left of a chicken-on-a-stick like it was put there for her. Anyway, we were just out there by ourselves one day, it was early in the day and an old friend in a golf cart came riding by. At first he waved, then he spotted her and turned back in our direction. He studied her for a couple of seconds and said, "Is that Billy Winn's puppy?" I confirmed his suspicion, happy there was someone left who might recognize her. Turns out, Ritchie had fallen for Stella much the same way I did. He'd spent a large part of his summer last year bringing her rawhide chews and little stuffed animals from his joints.

"Hey girl," he said,"you remember me?"

They greeted each other and although both of us wanted her to remember, it was impossible to tell if she actually did or not. He said the first time he saw her she bolted out from under the truck barking like she was the resident guard dog and that eventually he visited her enough times that she got to know his golf cart. He said that when they left Nashville last year and got to Louisiana, he noticed her missing and went looking for Billy fearful that he'd lost her somewhere along the way. Billy told him that she stayed in Nashville with me and despite the fact that he was crazy about her, it's doubtful that he'd thought about her since; until he spotted her on the midway a year later, at the Tennessee State Fair.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Here's another gorgeous pup that just signed on. I don't know a thing about him except that like most puppies he's prone to a good romp.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mr. Belvedere

Mr. Belvedere, seen here with one of the Photo Boyz at this year's Tennessee State Fair, signed on at the last spot. He was shy and a little nervous at first but after a couple of weeks of socialization, it is now believed that he'll make a fine carny dog. I'm hoping that his owner (and all of the owners for that matter, will keep us posted periodically). Are those some fabulous ears or what?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Short for Cleopatra, Cleo is friendly, lovable and something of an entertainer. I'm told that one of her favorite hobbies is running. No surprise there.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mugboard #1

This week (the 16th) is mine and Stella's one year anniversary. To celebrate, me and two little boys spent ten minutes trying to get her to poke her head through this hole. By the time she did it, I was laughing so hard I could barely take the picture.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Hope will be sixteen years old on Valentine's Day. She started coming to the fair about the same time I did. Her owner, Frank runs a very popular photo joint near the end of the independent midway. He's been coming to the fair longer than all of us. There's a pretty nice slideshow that includes a nighttime shot of Frank's joint HERE if anyone is interested. It's a popular stop for carnival goers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Bear greets customers at the door to Galaxy Amusement Sales' supply trailer. This dreamy two-and-a-half year old German Shorthaired Pointer appears to have a personality that matches his size. He travels around the country to fairs and festivals with his owner, Todd Kunz.

Cataract Jack

While I was shooting, Jack got a visit from his puppyhood friend Jigs (right). Jack's owner moves a portable roller coaster called the Crazy Mouse.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The great stick hunter

Stella gave us a big scare last week, developing a pretty mean limp in one of her rebuilt knees. Turned out it was nothing. She just tweaked it running like a maniac at the fairgrounds. We celebrated by going on a stick hunt at the creek.

Over the weekend, we took a drive to friend Beverly's house for a couple of days of rest and relaxation. Stella got to spend some time at the farm with a couple of senior dogs she met last year. The two of them thankfully, managed to put up with her nonsense all weekend, without incident. One (Smiley) temporarily commandeered her bed, which was pretty funny, but she'd already fallen in love with him by then and didn't even care.

This week the state fair gets busy setting up. It opens on Friday. Stella and I have been over there for the last two days poking around and pretending to direct traffic. Posting here will be spotty for the next few days while they get everything situated, then with some luck, there'll be a whole new crop of road dogs to visit with on this page. Anyone who's a fan of the carnival itself is welcome to check in over at Cliffhanger. That's where I post most of the shots that are non-dog related.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pete Pope, Concession dog

We met Pete (left) at the Wilson County Fair last week. He's eight years old and what's more - is about as midway savvy as a dog can get. He's such a good dog says owner James Pope (right), that they got a new puppy recently in the hope that Pete can teach the puppy some of his wonderful habits before moving on. We'd like to wish them many, many more successful runs at the fair before that happens.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Some Pig

Friday morning, I woke up to the sound of pouring rain. The industrious plans I'd made for the day were immediately forfeited for a more practical version of house work. Rain or no rain, the plan was to walk the dog, clean the house, run a couple of errands and walk the dog a second time. Some would have called it a day off although pushing a thirty-pound vacuum and walking a sixty-pound dog two or three miles does occasionally, resemble work. Just to make it officially a day off, I tried to think of some way to make it extra fun for Stella.

We've been building her muscles (and mine) back up from our extended hiatus and doing some amount of physical and mental training each day. At fourteen months old, she is most definitely a teenager and there are fleeting moments when she hates my guts and I return the favor.

That afternoon however, after a few weeks of sporadic research, I decided to stop at one of the Hispanic grocery stores near my house to peruse their meat counter. I was looking for a meaty bone that wouldn't be too rich or too small for Stella to enjoy. In the glass case there was every sort of body part you might imagine, including an entire hog head surrounded by a collection of pigs feet arranged around it like fireworks. I cruised the counter twice and decided to ask the butcher for one. He asked if I wanted him to cut it. I declined politely and to my own credit, added nothing further.

He handed me the single foot in a plastic bag. It weighed nearly a pound, a mere $0.98. All I could think of walking back to the car was that one bully stick costs about six dollars.

When I got home I tossed the pig foot into the refrigerator and with feigned contempt, I made an announcement to Stella:

"Stella," I said, "you don't love me now but later on today...? You're going to. I guarantee it."

We walked for an hour and a half that night and when we got back I put her on the long lead (30 ft.) out in the back yard. I got myself a beer out of the refrigerator because quite honestly, I have seen a lot of things in my life but I have never seen a dog eat a piece of raw meat before, let alone one that looked like it just ran out of the barnyard, nor had she. We started off our little training routine. Knowing now that something was up, Stella hit every note of it perfectly, without so much as a distracted glance down the driveway. People walked their dogs past us, I was amazed at her sudden ability to focus.

When we finished, I took big swig of the beer, removed poor little Wilbur's foot from of the bag and dropped it in the grass between her paws.

She eyed it suspiciously.

She sat up and punched it with her paw, then the nose, again the paw. She studied for a few seconds then laid down and sat back up the second time, temporarily confused. Almost too quiet for her to hear, I said, "Pick it up girlfriend."

In what seemed like slow motion it dawned on her that this was not only something she could eat but it was something that I planned to let her eat.

She decided to throw herself a party right then. First, she killed it several times over and danced around the yard like she was starring in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. She then chewed its toes off (sorry so graphic), and threw it over her shoulder a few times for luck. The only thing missing was music. In the eleven months we've spent together I've never seen her sparkle and dance like she did that thirty minutes. It was joyous and unbridled. It made the beer taste really good.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Fun House

Stella got a new nickname today from her friend Snakeman. He decided to call her "Ham Hock" Don't ask me why but it was funny. We went out to the fairgrounds early yesterday, to deliver some pictures and just grabbed this shot on our way down the midway. I'm still amazed at how much she seems to enjoy being over there. The only thing she was fearful of all day was a big fiberglass buffalo. She managed to overcome it.

As of today, she's allowed (finally, twenty weeks later) to be off the leash and to jump in and out of the car on her own. We're slowly working up to the off-leash part of that duo. It's really hard to just let her go without thinking of her physical well-being and my bank account.

UPDATE: I found a photo of Snakeman at the Twinkie joint
(...why people write fiction is beyond me).

I've known this man forever. He is both odd and wonderful. Odd, in a good way. He has a unique personality that I haven't seen duplicated in another soul. We recently learned that he too is a lover of dogs.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sandy Ann

This is Sandy Ann Johnson & her mom Norma. Sandy Ann is a tennis ball advocate.

(Note: Thanks to everyone for allowing me to feature your pet on this page. You all make it more fun than Stella and I ever could alone.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

'Aint Too Proud to Beg

Rocker dogs, Bianca & Mick Jagger with their mom, Sue at home on the living lot of the Wilson County Fair. Like most Jack Russell Terriers, these two can jump four feet off the ground and right into mom's arms whenever necessary.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The A Team

I've always admired people who are able to handle owning more than one dog at a time. In my mind though, that would be multiple dogs in an apartment or in a regular house. Imagine the level of dedication it must take to work and have multiple dogs on the road with you, in a motor home or a travel trailer; one that's parked in a new town every couple of weeks.

It was with great pleasure I was introduced yesterday to the mother lode of carny dogs and their seemingly tireless mom Kathy. This is Cuddles, Cherokee Pepper Ann, Prissy and Buddy (in the front). Two Dalmations, a Water Spaniel and a Poodle. Two of them are rescues and two survived Parvo (no small feat there). There was another, a senior dog sleeping in the back who wasn't interested in having his picture made. These four however, had every opportunity to come barreling out that door and chose not to. Good dogs.

(Note: Stella was confounded and put out by the fact that she missed all of this good canine action. I met nine dogs in all and when I got home her nose was glued to my pants for a good hour.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Well, it took about fourteen seconds for Stella to remember her old garbage picking ways. Suddenly all that time she spends with her nose on the ground made sense. I've always suspected she was related to some kind of hound dog but now I think it's the midway she remembers. She happily, revisited her childhood for about four hours this afternoon; rain and all. She met carnies galore, splashed through mud puddles, ate disgusting smashed food off the ground and added yet another fancy eighteen-wheeler, perhaps the most distinguished one of all, to her collection.

Two farmers, three Mexican men and a Jamaican guy, all charming, offered to take her off my hands.
If they only knew.
(more on this little adventure later..)