Friday, December 30, 2011

Alone at the dog park

 Today started with a romp at the dog park, unfortunately there were no other dogs there, and ended with the absolute best double dog-walk to date. Not sure what was up with them but I wish I could have bottled some of it up for tomorrow and the next day. Diesel even dropped the ball a few times on command. Crazy.

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks again for stopping in.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Somebody tell me, what is so bloody exciting about a wet coffee filter?
What possible reason could a dog have for dragging one across a kitchen floor more than one time?
I have to know.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Alternative uses for the catch pole

This is a photo of Stella and her "other" boyfriend Pee Wee. Both of them like to sit out in my backyard and study squirrels.

I have a quick (ha) story about a trip I made over to Animal Control last week. As a prelude, I'd like to say that no dogs died in the story. Well, none of the dogs that are actually in the story anyway.

A Russian immigrant neighbor, has two Siberian Huskies. Their names are Baikal and Zima (they used to drive Stella mad). These two recently discovered that if they jump onto the air conditioning unit in their back yard, it's one more short jump to freedom and so of course, they did; two days in a row. After a long run in the neighborhood on the second day, someone called their owner, my neighbor (who is a school teacher) to report the dogs were in her custody. Since she couldn't leave school in the middle of the day so she asked the caller to return them to her yard and secure the fence. The woman agreed but when she got to the house the dogs wouldn't get out of her car. She then drove both dogs to Animal Control and asked them to "remove" the two dogs from the car. Since Animal Control closes before the teacher got off work (at 4pm), the pair of dogs spent the night there (ka-ching). The next afternoon, I came upon the woman in her driveway at her wits end. She had just returned home with the (smaller) female and was now on her way back for the male. Both were uncontrollable, she said and had to be brought home separately. It might be worth mentioning that the dogs spend time in their backyard but they never go for walks or receive any sort of outside stimulation. I was walking Diesel at the time I met her and she asked if I would take him home and accompany her to the dog pound. I agreed.

When we arrived there was a short wait while they retrieved the ninety pound Baikal (named after Lake Baikal) from whatever pen he was in behind the heavy, almost soundproofed door. We sat down on a couch in the reception area whereupon my neighbor said: "This is where you should bring that dog you have - Diesel - up here." I thought she was kidding at first so I followed up politely with a simple, "I don't think so." This woman though, doesn't tolerate "polite" very well choosing rather to shove you all the way to the wall on things, so rather suddenly, it became a challenge. Louder now, she said:

"You can't take care of that dog and feed it and pay the bills, why not? They have to take him if you bring him here."

In much softer tone, I said that I wouldn't dream of bringing him here and that was why I had him in the first place (so that he didn't end up here).

"Why?", she demanded to know. "They could find him a home," she argued.

I was starting to feel nauseated at this point but I really didn't want to offend the people who were working there so I had to think carefully about how to answer. Finally, I told her that if you surrendered your own pet to Animal Control, they almost always euthanize the pet. Believing I was totally misinformed, my neighbor then stood up then, walked to the desk and announced:

"She has this dog that isn't hers and she doesn't want him and can't take care of him. Tell her that if she brings him up here can you keep him until he finds a home."

Another woman standing in the lobby (waiting for the Husky) immediately turned and asked me what kind of dog he was while my neighbor grilled the woman behind the desk. He's a Lab mix I said, I'm not sure what he's mixed with but bringing him here isn't an option. He's my foster dog." I said. "I'm not even sure why we're having this conversation."

The lady behind the desk piped up then: "Metro won't let us keep pit bulls but we try to adopt out as many of the other dogs as we can."

"And, how long are they up for adoption before they're euthanized?" I asked her.

"Three days" she said without hesitating, "but by law, we have to euthanize all pit bulls or any dog that looks like one because you never know when they're going to rip someone's face off."

I came up out of the chair then hoping to catch a bus home and let my neighbor deal with her dog however she could. Before I could exit this fine facility however, the door opened and someone handed the big dog off to the woman in the lobby. What happened next was not what I expected. She (the dog's owner) flew across the room howling and wildly squealing the dog's name at the top of her lungs, over and over and over again like a crazy person. If she had stood on the coffee table and done the Chicken Dance it wouldn't have been any more ridiculous. This sent her already stressed dog - right off the deep end, lunging and barking without restraint. She turned to me then and said "See, he's so crazy and excited I can't even get him to the car."

It was no surprise that poor Baikal rode all the way home with his head wedged between my head and the passenger side window. I was just thrilled to find him still alive. He was tired and dirty and had the sweetest breath of any dog I've ever met.

So after all of that, I'm left wondering how it is so many people came to use the expression "rip someone's face off" when they're talking about dogs of the bully persuasion? I've heard those exact words used countless times and it had to come from somewhere. Some reactionary news outlet perhaps.. talk about misinformation.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Treats for humans

Diesel and I got a little birthday present in the mail today. We had a cheapie video camera last year sometime but it stopped working (as expected - it was really cheap). This one isn't top of the line or anything but in nice light, I think it'll be fine and I can use it for my impromptu interviews as well. The sound is excellent.
This little clip was just me trying it out for the first time. I predict someone is going to fall hard for this face when it finally does happen. Until then...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cracks of dawn

It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.   ~Aristotle

This morning I was awakened at five a.m.
By dogs, standing at the edge of my bed like zombies in the dark.
My cat lay silent, awake but perfectly still while they took turns chest-butting the mattress, their mild whimpering drowned out so purely by the sound of pouring rain. I kept my eyes closed and asked God  if he would make them lie down. He laughed along with the cat. 

Why I didn't buy that umbrella that was in my hands at the drug store two days earlier, is beyond me. Mine blew apart a month ago in a similar early morning excursion cum thunderstorm. It went skid-flying off down the street in some dark suburban blaze of Angry Birds on steroids. I was sorry to see it go too. That umbrella came to be mine the night I shot the Grand Opening Gala for the Schermerhorn Symphony Center back in September of 2006. It was a nice black version with their logo and a fake wooden handle, easily big enough to cover a woman and medium-sized dog. I should have known our relationship would end on a street in south Nashville. Enter the hooded raincoat. Boots.

Knowing that the odds of running into a lot of traffic or another dog walker at  that time of the morning in a downpour were pretty remote so I took both dogs. I figured since they woke me they deserved a real walk, no tiptoeing around in the front yard, if we're getting up in the dark to get soaked by rain, why not turn it into an event. Granted, it wasn't a run or even really a hike but it was pouring rain and I did mention that it was 5:00 right? Forty minutes and two plus miles later we were back home before daylight set in. I made coffee and tossed the wet towels down the basement steps. The zombies bounded around through the house, towel dried and naked, like little colts and the cat was not surprisingly, still in the bed.

For those of you without two big dogs in your fence-less house I might add, that at noon... we did it all over again. Rain shower included and yes, I am going to tell you a story about a treadmill the minute I find a video camera.   

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

They should've named him Easy

She lifts his entire hindquarters with her head and trots him through my office on his front paws like a wheelbarrow. He doesn't mind. In fact, he likes it. When they pass back through, the situation is reversed and now he is prancing, the loose skin of her jowl clenched between his teeth. She smiles and waves on the way by. I am a bystander. In this canine charade, I can only watch and learn and be entertained.

Pretty soon, someone is going to come along [you] and adopt this beautiful foster dog right out from under us. I can feel it. Stella and I will probably cry our eyes out that day but for some lucky person or family, it's going to be a life-changing event.

Sorry we've been slow to update. It's been extremely busy around here and any free time has been spent parading around the neighborhood with the large adoptable dog and his oh-so-ladylike girlfriend, Stella. Soon.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

from Stella and her foster boyfriend, Antonio.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Muffin and Tony

We met Muffin back when the fair was here in town. She's a cross between a King Charles Spaniel and a Bichon Frise and she lives on North American Midway Entertainment's living lot. She loves to ride in the trucks and is also a big fan of the Euroslide. She likes to run up (I assume) part of the way and then slides back down. Tony, her owner says she listens to everybody but him.

We know the feeling Tony.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Stella made it out to Oktoberfest a couple of weeks ago where she was able to charm a whole new crew of admirers. It was really too big a crowd and she was overstimulated (probably by the smell of brats and other roasted meaty delicacies. She kept diving under people and food tents to get some little bite of bread they dropped or licking God-knows-what off the pavement. It was pretty exhausting and I was mad from trying to hold her back all day. This weekend is Barktoberfest. Not sure if we're going to make it there or not. Honestly it would be a lot more attractive if they would include something for the humans there too. Fifteen minutes of organic dog treats and useless swag and I'm pretty much ready to go home. We may go just to check out the costumes though. Could be fun.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cutting out the middle man

Here are a couple of stray shots I forgot to include in the last post. Believe it or not, that little duck appeared to be teasing Diesel. It kept coming back to us for the better part of an hour. I guess it gets pretty boring just floating around on the lake. Of course Diesel might as well be wearing a t-shirt that says Rookie on it so maybe it just couldn't resist.

Water Racer

So you don't have a fenced in yard and your dog is unpredictable around strange dogs and his recall isn't what it should be or will be and you have to find a way to drain the energy out of him in order to (as some famous dog trainers might say..) make a clear path to his mind.. So what do you do?

Well, our choices are somewhat limited but the best thing I've found so far involves a lake and a tennis ball. Let it be known that our friend Diesel is a little bit obsessed with the ball under most circumstances but after a few swims, his demeanor is much more relaxed. He begins to "drop it" automatically. This gives me the opportunity to "catch" the behavior and name it for him. Over and over and over again until he is asleep sitting up in the back of my car.

At first he wouldn't swim at all. Then I explained the whole Labrador Retriever thing to him and an hour later, he was a pro.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Graduate

We got the certificate.
Diesel, formerly misunderstood, outside, chained to the doghouse, could've been a junkyard dog, Diesel - is officially a Pup Scout graduate. Many thanks to his teacher Jane and his anonymous sponsor and all the other pups and owners who graciously put up with us for nine weeks. We commend your brave spirits.

Up to the very last week, he/we had trouble getting into and out of the room where our class was. I mentioned at the beginning we had to pass through an agility training room filled with equipment and dogs each week. At this point in his fresh start - just opening the door to go into this room was like plugging him into a wall socket. He did (mostly) get used to being around the other dogs in class though and that part was very good. That's actually the biggest hurdle we faced and the reason I wanted to take him in the first place. It was established early on that he's some kind of boy genius. Smarter than I ever gave him credit for before. He learned to sit and lie down, stay and come and all of the basics on the first or second try. He's seriously food motivated though so if you don't have any in your hand - his responses vary, for now anyway. For some reason he blew off every trick I tried to teach him and didn't learn a single one, not even with Stella and her oh-so-theatrical demonstrations. We'll more than likely try again on some rainy day or save them for his future owner to work on.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Spike - yes that is his real name, he's awesome isn't he? - is indirectly related to Skippy. He's a Basset Hound - Golden Retriever mix Surely there's a clever name for that, a Goldenasset Hound maybe? Anyway, he lives on the lot with his extended family but likes to go over and visit his Aunt Pat at her motor home (two doors down) first thing each morning. Apparently she's the cool aunt. Check out the tail.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Skippy with Jean

Jean and her husband got Skippy from a breeder who gave him away for free. Apparently he was freakishly big to be considered sellable in the world of Yorkshire Terriers. Despite his AKC "birth defect" he may have ended up the luckiest of his litter mates, as he now travels all over the country with a loving family and has many more friends than most dogs could ever dream of.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Suburban Oddities

 My neighbors have an invisible fence. Their dogs charge us every day (up to a point).  Last Friday, they added a goat. I don't know if they just got tired of mowing the grass or what.  

Things I never said before I owned a dog:

"You can sleep in the bed when you learn to do laundry."

"Walk on the inside please. If one of us is going to get hit by a car, I want it to be me."

"If I come back in there and my bra is in your mouth, things are going to get ugly."

"I think it's time you got a job and started buying your own food."

"I didn't ask to go pee, you did. So pee."

"Stop barking. For God's sake, it's a goat."

Fred & Kelli

Fred and Kelli, living and working at the Tennessee State Fair, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Field Trip + separation anxiety (mine)

Diesel (bathed and manicured) went on a field trip Thursday with a kind person who I reckoned might be a perfect match for him. He got a manicure with the Dremel tool. I can't believe two big dogs in a row have let me use that thing on their toenails. Anyway, I was nervous about him going in the same way a mom is nervous about the first day of school. Would he be good? Would they like him? Would he play well with others? Once he'd gone I was fine. Stella, on the other hand was a little distressed. She laid in front of his crate much of the evening and even manged to parlay that into sleeping in the bed with me and the cat.

It ended up being an exercise as much as anything. Although I'm told he did play well with others for the most part - it was also true he wasn't a good fit for their particular household. There were variables, like work schedules and energy levels and roommates. And roommates' pets that came into play, derailing his chances this time around. The good thing though is that everyone took something from the experience.

This begs the question: Once someone is interested in your foster dog - what is the best way to go about setting up meetings, home visits, etc.?  What's best for the dog and the dog's eventual success. Every situation will be a little different but I found once the interest was there I wasn't exactly sure how to proceed. Should we meet in the park and go for a walk? Should I have them over to my house? Or go to theirs? Sleep over? Loan the dog out for a day or a week? Would two nights be better than one? Do I wear him out before he visits or let them experience (and drain) his energy first hand?

In this first instance, there was someone I knew who could vouch for the potential adopter so though I didn't exactly know him, he wasn't a total stranger either. He suggested the sleepover and I just went with it. He was young and seemed perfectly capable, even well-suited I thought, to tend to the needs of a big goofy dog. Had it been someone that showed up out of the blue, or seemed only partially qualified, I think we would have moved much slower. My friend Beverly suggested a polygraph and a background check (she's taken a shine to Diesel herself) but that could be construed as excessive, working against us in the long run.

Hypothetically speaking, if this person had decided to adopt Diesel - then what? I know the mechanics of the application papers, the rabies tag and microchip transfer, that could all happen in an hour but is there some window of time or schedule of events that's better or worse for the dog? Should I let the new owner pick him up or should I drop him off? 

Am I talking about the dog really or am I talking about me? It's hard to say but I can't wait to meet the person who realizes that he's going to be their next best friend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


This is Max, whose mom Lore, will be thrilled to get back home at the end of this season so Max can actually get a good solid free run in the yard. Apparently he's been storing up energy all summer and can now pull that bicycle he's standing in front of at about thirty miles an hour. Unfortunately we didn't get to see that in action and we fear Max may get a sitter for the next summer route, but he sure is an amazing and beautiful canine. Friendly, like a big Siberian Eskimo Bear. (There's no such thing of course but if there were....) Many thanks to Lore for leashing him  up and bringing him back out of the motor home after my stalking them all the way across the fairgrounds. He was impossible to miss.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lizzie Ann and Annie O.

This is Jim Phelps, who was kind enough on Sunday to let us meet his two road girls, Lizzie Ann and Annie O (in the background). Annie O is fifteen years old and feels right at home on the lot with Jim and her much younger sister. We're hoping to get the chance to spend more time with the three of them next year and wish them all the best making their way to Mississippi.

Meanwhile, we'd love to run your pictures and or updates here on the blog or on our Facebook page (simple to load) so DON'T BE SHY. We know all of you have a camera phone now so you're welcome to submit a picture of your own dog or any carnival dogs you happen to see out on the road. Sometimes there are even prizes...

Friday, September 16, 2011


Well it was a big day for me and Stella. Yesterday was our anniversary - year three. We usually try to celebrate the day of but this year was a little busy so this morning we went over to the fairgrounds and hung out on the midway for awhile. We walked down on the old midway too, now a parking lot of sorts and sat on the exact spot where we met. I asked Stella if she was cool with the fact that I'd retired her from the carnival life but she was busy sorting out all the wonderful smells vying for attention in her nose to answer. She'd found an entire corndog on the ground earlier and I (almost) felt bad not letting her have it. After the midway we went and got lunch at the taco stand by K&S World Market (best taco stand in Nashville if anyone cares). We sat on the curb and had a little picnic out in the grass there and a whole car full of Mexican guys stopped and flirted madly with her.

After lunch we drove up to the feed store for dog food and on to one of Stella's very favorite places, Lowes. The last time we were there a guy heckled us (surely I wrote about it?). He started ranting to everyone in earshot that next time he came to the hardware store he was planning to bring HIS dog and wouldn't THAT be fun. Like a third grader. When he left the guy behind the counter looked at me and said: " I hope his dog has a better attitude than he does." Today was more fun though and just about everyone we saw was happy to see us coming. It was the first time Stella's been away from the house for any length of time since her boyfriend got here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hope lives on

I was delighted to find our latest cover girl Hope and her master Frank Chrisco at the fairgrounds today. Hope has spent her entire life on the midway, she'll be eighteen on Valentine's Day and although she's got cataracts and is nearly blind, she never lets on and still knows her way around the photo joint.

Monday, September 5, 2011


He sleeps on his back. Front paws pulled up tight against his chest, back legs splayed open, a proud display of his man parts, what's left of them. The tail wags when you look at him even if his eyes are closed. That cracks me up. It would be sweet even if you never heard the soft snore that goes with it all. Occasionally when he's dreaming he snorts and whimpers loud enough to garner the attention of his current girlfriend. She rouses from her own slumber and walks over to him, sleepy-eyed and swaying. Careful to pick out a spot just under his rib cage she punches him in the gut with her nose until he stops. Then she goes back to her own bed and lies down. He hasn't suggested anybody make him a sandwich yet but I'm sure it's coming.

Stella and I are headed to the fairgrounds this week if only for a quick peek at this year's incarnation. Ordinarily, we would've gone today but it hasn't stopped raining here for the last thirty hours.

We did get to dog sit this weekend for Banjo and Ginger so we managed a few laps in their pool on Saturday before the rain showed up. Diesel loves the water. I can't wait to take him to a lake.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Webcam Volunteer

The new web cam makes me pretty queasy but Diesel isn't shy. He's sitting in my office chair (all his idea). The real trick, as evidenced in the pictures, was mastering the controls with him in it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Big Black Dog

Emmylou Harris could sing a song about chip dip and it would be one of the better songs you heard all day. If anyone is in the market for a big black dog.... I know where to find one. I'll even vouch for him. Barring that option, there's a dog over in east Nashville that is on his way to Metro Animal Control. You all know what that means right? His name is Harpo. He was found sleeping in the front seat of a car at the home of some friends. These kind people already have three male dogs and are unable to keep him even temporarily. They (along with myself) have spent the last two or three days calling on all of their friends and offering all manner of financial support in return for temporary shelter - to no avail. Much like the case with Diesel, no rescue was willing to take him unless someone agrees to do the heavy lifting. If anyone either in Nashville or beyond has an idea (sometime in the next twenty four hours) please don't hesitate to contact me here. It's a shame he was probably dumped by someone or left home himself to find a better life and now like so many others, he appears skinny and beat up, headed for death row.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


It was last Tuesday, the third Good Pup! class at Pup Scouts. We're working on the usual, basic commands and good behavior. Loose leash walking. Sit. Down. Come. My personal favorite: Leave it.

Our patient and talented trainer Holly, got out the long leash and announced that we were about to work on Come, only this time - from a distance. I checked my treat pouch to make sure I had enough to distract Diesel from what I thought (shame on me) would be his downfall. The other dogs.

Thankfully, we walked away from our classmates a pretty good distance before starting. I was still unsure. I peered into his eyes though and said the words: "Diesel, come." Without the slightest bit of hesitation he launched into this cartoon-style peel out where his legs were going like a freight train but his body wasn't moving. He was suspended in time and space. When he finally did get his feet planted he was over to me in about two seconds. It was hysterical pretty much every time he did it. I was laughing so hard the third time that when he came sailing into my arms he rammed his whole head in the treat pouch and cleaned it out. He didn't stop wagging that night until long after we were home.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


So, there's a little fox in my neighborhood.
I suspect he's the one looting my tomato plants.
Both dogs spotted him this morning on our walk
at about the same time he spotted us.
It's a wonder there's any skin left on my elbows at all.