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..)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Smooth ride

Apparently the girl can smell a fancy big rig from a mile away. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that said big rig is toting around a team of Clydesdales. Somehow we missed the Jack Daniels Invitational Bull Riding Competition this weekend. Too bad. I don't mean to berate Music City or anything but real cowboys in Nashville are pretty rare. We do have an abundance of hat racks though and some of them are pretty good singers but I digress. It bears mentioning that the guy who came in first place was riding a bull named: Booger Butt.. but you all probably knew that right?

Now that we're back to actually walking, the temperature has been a big factor in determining when we go. It's been topping out around ninety degrees here so I try to get us out of the house by seven a.m.
It seems cruel at first but once out the door, I somehow manage to enjoy it and unless I'm mistaken, Stella does too. A flock of Canadian Geese flew in above us this morning. I barely managed to snap a picture of them and suddenly they landed right in front of us. Stella (forgive me) lit up like a Ferris Wheel but thankfully kept her cool and didn't scare them off.
Speaking of Ferris Wheels, we're carnival bound a little later this week. Hopefully the weather will stay tolerable enough that she can get a little sawdust on her feet. We'll let you know how that goes. If I haven't said it lately, thanks for stopping by.

Check out this big rig before you go.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Taming of the Shh..Roo

Centennial Park Bandshell, Randy Lancaster warms up the crowd.

We made it through intermission. Opening night. Shakespeare in the Park. I may not be able to move my arms tomorrow (for Stella's unrelenting attempts to make new friends) but at least we didn't get thrown out. In fact everyone was very understanding, her being "just a sweet little puppy and all" I'm told she was listed in attendance as Dog #1 for the season. Sweet.
She was really only interested in Dog #2 which came on a bun just before intermission. It was the thing that finally focused her attention on me - that anchor at the end of her leash. Poor thing. There were 562 people and ten dogs there and the wicked witch wouldn't let her play.

Once the performance started, she actually watched for a few minutes. I just knew she would start barking when the actors began running down the aisles screaming but thank God, that didn't happen. Prior to that it was a lot like wrestling a nine year old. She'd be fine for five minutes and someone with a dog the size of a Greyhound Bus would go jogging behind where we were sitting. Or a big picnic basket would sit close by and and she'd army crawl to the end of the leash while they cooed at her. She got a full rubdown by a number of different kind and tolerant dog people including prized Nashville actress/director, Denice Hicks.

We lasted about thirty minutes into the performance before I finally ducked us under the enclosure and went for the hot dog. After that we sat out by the rest rooms which turned out to be a better plan. That way people could come to her (many did) instead of just finding her rifling through their purses or batting those big eyelashes at their gourmet treats. All in all it was a really fun show and we may even try again next week, assuming they let us back in. We'll be the ones at the hot dog stand.

(Note: Follow The Nashville Shakespeare Festival on Twitter @nashvilleshakes Diva dog Stella shows off the freckles in their video (above) at around :56)

The Parthenon at Centennial Park

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Is she or isn't she?

Redheaded older lady, in curlers and a house dress, leans out her door one morning on our way by and declares that Stella is a really pretty dog. "Thanks," I say and she asks "Is it a Beagle?" I hesitate for a second and say "No m'am. She's a Pit Bull."
"Oh," she says, her voice skating on disappointment. "Well she's really pretty anyway." "Thank you" I say, waving goodbye. She waits for us to pass before leaving her porch to collect the paper. I wonder as we're walking if I should've just answered in the affirmative and let Stella be a Beagle for the day. She's been mistaken for all manner of dogs over the last ten-and-a-half months, Blue Heeler, Boxer, Catahoula, Foxhound, Great Dane. Beagle was a new one, rather charming but still erroneous. It must have been the white socks and matching tail tip that from a distance cued her thought. A very authoritative-sounding man told his son once that she was a cross between a Boxer and an Australian Sheppard. I had to look away to keep from laughing or having to confirm this notion.

As many of you know, it's not the easiest thing, being a Pit Bull, out in the world anyway. Other, far more qualified people have written about it extensively but the thing I find surprising is that so many people have been conditioned to fear a dog they don't even recognize (beautiful example here ~ poor Otis). I'm torn sometimes between educating the person and protecting the dog. Often they love her until the exact moment they ask the question. The worst of it comes when they're already petting her and she's in the zone and then they ask what kind of dog she is. If I say the word, their sparkling eyes go flat and they immediately stop petting her. They back off. Most of the time it isn't so subtle either. I could I suppose, say she's an American Staffordshire Terrier. While it's true, most people don't know that translates to Pit Bull.

Although I've told a few children that she's an American Daffodil Digger, I've refused the semi-popular cute names (i.e. Pibble). I've found that changing a word doesn't change a perception, however ill-conceived. For example, not so long ago (and still) a population of carnies wanted to be called showmen, for some of the very same reasons. To accommodate them (out of respect) I used the term now and again and it only served to confuse people outside that circle. The general public has no idea what a showman is and they never will. They know carny. Carnival worker. Public relations gurus the world over would likely disagree but from a sociological perspective, (IMHO) the only option is to recondition the spirit of the word. Educate people. Suck it up. Tell the truth. Set a good example, be consistent and patient. That's pretty easy to say; not so easy to do. Would love to hear your experience and/or thoughts on the subject.

Yesterday morning we went walking down along the river. We met a beaver and a homeless man. The man said he'd been feeding a dog that looked a lot like Stella.

"Don't know who it belongs to", he said.

"I do." I answered. "Who?" he asked me.


Here's a great audio-interview from Fresh Air (NPR) on training service dogs in prison.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mt. Olivet Cemetery

The first time we went walking in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Stella stopped on the road and tried to drag me off into the grass at one point. I'm careful about this sort of behavior since I don't want her tooling around people's graves in an undignified manner, but she was insistent. It was only a few feet before she stopped in front of the headstones of two couples, side by side. Carved in the granite large enough to see from a distance, were the names: Barker and Doggett. Of course I didn't have a camera at the time but rest assured, if we ever manage to find them again, dignified or not, you'll be the first to know.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mosquito hunting 101

Once back in the driver's seat, she looked at me in the rear-view mirror like maybe I was the one who was out of control.

Mosquitoes and flies make her completely crazy. Like crazy enough to slam her own head into a piece of furniture or the wall. There was one in the car with us two days ago and I thought she would flip us over. Me and her and a Chevy Malibu - murals of dog slobber painted on both back windows.

Officer:"Ms. Adcock, what made you run over the fireplug anyway? How many fingers do you see now?"

Finally I pulled into a parking lot and calmly, climbed in the backseat with her to kill the mosquito. I think my exact words were:

"Now, sit your ass down or I'm gonna' beat it with that flip-flop right there until it swells up like a beach ball."

It's hard to believe sometimes that I was raised in Ohio.