Sunday, October 31, 2010

What Not to Wear!

Boo! Are you dressing up for Halloween? Ever wonder how your dog feels when you dress them up? If you want to know you should read Inside a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know? by Alexandra Horowitz. Although I can't say I feel the author gets it exactly right. When my dad dresses me up (which, btw, is pretty rare) I feel a bit like a floozie. Which, I have to admit, I kinda like. I mean what self-respecting dog doesn't like to get busy and then get treats? I haven't really read Ms. Horowitz' book, but we do have a copy on our bookshelf.

Posted by Alexandra Horowitz

It’s the final week of our Critterati contest (winners will be announced on Wednesday). The New Yorker Magazine's Book Bench asked one of our judges, Alexandra Horowitz, the author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, how your pet might feel about being dressed up.

The philosopher Thomas Nagel famously asked, in his titular essay, “What is it like to be a bat?”: what, in essence, is the subjective experience of a non-human animal?

Around this time of year, one might revise Nagel’s query to “What is it like to be a bat—dressed in a Superman costume?” Or, more accurately for of many contemporary American pets, “What might a dog (or cat or hamster or parrot) think of being costumed and festooned, or forced to don a hat and fake mustache in our celebration of Halloween?”

Inasmuch as I can speak to the experience of any animal (including members of my own species), my answer is “The dog, he does not like it”.

This is not to say that it is entirely torturous for your pet. The dog is of the species Canis familiaris: the latter part of that name indicates their familiarity with, well, their extended family, humans. Thoroughly domesticated, having put up with human behavior and its attendant silliness for something on the order of fourteen thousand years, the dog may suffer some costuming gladly. And this is why: by submitting to be a jack-o-lantern, hot dog (with bun), biker dude, or princess, the dog gains something valuable. He gets your attention, and probably an extra round of liver treats. Aside from the liver, there is little as nourishing to a dog as the attention of his owner. So we have bred dogs, and so they cooperatively are—sometimes to a fault.

On the other hand, to put raiments on a dog is to blithely ignore his essential dogness. Consider the Canis part of his heritage. Both wolves and dogs are descended from some wolflike ancestor; thus, we might look at the behavior of the dog’s cousin, the present-day wolf (Canis lupus), in order to provide one explanation for dog behavior. Among wolves, one animal may “stand over” another: literally placing his body on top of and touching the other, as a scolding or a mild putting-in-one’s-place. To a dog, a costume, fitting tight around the dog’s midriff and back, might well reproduce that ancestral feeling. So the principal experience of wearing a costume would not be the experience of festivity; rather, the costume produces the discomfiting feeling that someone higher ranking is nearby. This interpretation is borne out by many dogs’ behavior when getting dressed in a costume: they may freeze in place as if they are being “dominated”—and soon try to dislodge the garments by shaking, pawing, or rolling in something so foul that it necessitates immediate disrobing.

Another approach to answering the question of what Halloween might be like for the costumed dog is to engage in a little exercise of perspective-shifting. Imagine that you arrive at work one day and are told that today is the day you will be walking around in your skivvies (the human equivalent of putting a naked dog in clothing, perhaps). Socially, this is awkward; physically, it might be decidedly uncomfortable. But your colleagues grin at you, point and giggle happily, and ply you with extra liver treats—er, I mean, candy. In the end, you might put up with it for the day, secure in the approval of those around you, and the happy circumstance that you can wear your full office regalia tomorrow. So might it be like for your dog.

We are, ultimately, a culture of celebrants, and our dogs will be included in that celebration, regardless. But if you are willing to be that over-exposed owner aside your over-dressed and be-costumed dog for Halloween, I feel certain your dog would appreciate the gesture.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Little UK Calendar Girl

Above: Ella Ridsdill Smith, decidedly not a model, looks fabulous in the United Kingdom's Tibetan Terrier Association's 2011 Calendar.

Well, I finally heard from my girlfriend Ella. She has been on holidays with her little sister Maisie. They look FABULOUS. Don't you think?

Dear Suddie,

Do you remember when we first met online and I was really wee and looked like this?

You encouraged me to start a modeling career and enter some competition you had read about in a magazine. Well you probably remember the reaction, talk about strict parenting, I was not allowed to be a celebrity, super model or IT girl. I can’t even go to dog shows ‘cos we live too far away. Well I have made it onto the UK Tibetan Terrier Association 2011 calendar, so that showed them. I didn’t even have to have to apply or go on a special photo shoot ‘cos my FB profile pic did it for me.

Do you think mum needs some instructions on braiding my hair? She is trying plaits now.

And poor Maisie looks like this.

I do feel for her, but I had to go through it too. I know mum loves us but hairdressing is not her forte and a girl has standards even if we do live in the back of beyond. Perhaps your dad could do another video.

Lots of luv’n’liks to you and Roxie and special big liks for Angus XXXXXX

Ella Ridsdill Smith

PS. If you're interested in ordering a calendar, just click the following link (they accept paypal) so you can order via email if you like. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vanity Fur

Billy, my newest and dearest friend, is a soap tester. You see, Billy is a Tibetan Terrier and his father Warren Booth is one of the founders of The Yorkshire Soap Company. The firm is best known for creating hand-made soaps in mouth-watering cupcake designs. Now don't get all up in arms. They aren't testing human products on dear sweet Billy. No, The Yorkshire Soap Company has a very handsome new doggy soap on a rope called Vanity Fur and Billy was very involved in its development.

Warren told me that his two dogs, Tibetan terrier William and mini schnauzer Lucy, now have the sparkliest coats in Leeds after they were the first dogs to try out the canine soap on a rope.

"It is the only product in the shop to be tested on animals and my dogs have got the shiniest coats around now," he said.

They sure do! And word has gotten out! Just yesterday it was announced that Harrod's, the world's most famous department store, will soon be selling Vanity Fur. Good job Billy!

Now Billy is what some might call an old man - almost 16 years old. He keeps his hair short and stylish and reminds me a bit of Daniel Craig. You should see Billy in his square-cut swim shorts!

According to Warren, "Billy is the most wonderful pet and now in his twilight years is a little slower but still full of character and life! Still chases cats, looks after his sister and is always extremely loving after a long day in the soap shop!"

Billy's favourite soap is the tea tree and eucalyptus, he likes the smell and the taste! He always licks the bubbles in the bath!

Billy have you ever been to the Poconos? There's a heart-shaped tub with our name on it.

For more info visit

Thursday, October 28, 2010

You Smell Like a Monkey, and You Look Like One Too

Last week my last litter of pups celebrated their first birthday. I was lucky enough to be invited to Rufus' and Elsa's birthday party in Iowa. There were cupcakes with candles for the kids and specially baked and frosted biscuits for Rufus and Elsa and Roxie and Angus and me. They were all laid out on an elegant cake tray. There were birthday hats and birthday songs and I was growing impatient with the whole thing. I mean those frosted biscuits were sitting right in front of me on that elegant cake tray. It was a clean shot for me. So when everyone was singing, and I thought no one was looking, I sprung up and grabbed a biscuit and knocked the entire tray onto the floor. Lighted candles and all. It was like a fireworks display. I tried to make light of it and joked that I like to make pyrotechnics part of all my party plans. Well, anyway, it did liven things up a bit. I don't really like that Happy Birthday song anyway.

Speaking of birthdays, my friend Ruth has a birthday coming up. Ruth will turn 93 on November 28. Let's see that means she was born in 1917. Is that right? Nineteen seventeen doesn't seem that long ago. Ninety three. Now, let's see, that's a little more than 13 in dog years. That's not so old. Ruth lives in Chicago and Northern Michigan. Mostly in her Michigan cottage now. Lit Mo Dee, Ruth's cottage on Beach Drive in Michigan is an exotic confection. Step into Lit Mo Dee and you step into a special world. Little Mother Dear is what Ruth and her siblings called their mother and, while he was in France during the war, her brother shortened it to Lit Mo Dee. I guess it does sound vaguely French. The house on Beach Drive was Little Mother Dear's creation and her slice of heaven.

Lit Mo Dee has an artesian spring in the backyard with a dipping cup. The water is cool and fresh, One day, Ruth took us thru the cattails and into the sandy pond that fronts Little Traverse Bay to see another spring burbling to the surface at its edge. I don't know why but that burbling spring entranced us. There are artesian springs all over this town. In fact the town is named after these springs. I think there is a spring in almost every yard on Beach Drive. They come in every variety. Some look like wishing wells. Some are small creeks that appear at one end of the lawn and disappear at the other. Some are simple spigots. The one I like the very best is a terraced stone edged creek. The pic above is of Angus and Rufus enjoying the creek. We stopped there everyday on our long morning walks this summer. To cool our feet and to get a drink.

Now, Beach Drive is a gorgeous piece of real estate. Most of it is a private association of cottages. And most of the cottages were built in the late 1800s and have remained in the hands of the same families ever since. Everyday in the summer we parade up and down Beach Drive. This year some people remembered us from last summer and many stopped their cars, rolled down their windows, and asked lots of questions. Some people said, "Looks like a handful." Others said, "They sure are gorgeous dogs" or "What fun!" Although it may not have seemed like it at the time, I was paying attention and I have come to the conclusion that how strangers greet us on the street says a lot about them and very little about us. Except for the gorgeous and fun part. Some see the bowl as half empty, some half full.

I can't tell you how much we walked each day during our Michigan summer, but it was a lot. It was not unusual for a passerby to exclaim with surprise, or perhaps, irritation "Didn't I just see you out on the pier" or "I thought I just saw you going into Howse's!" Like they thought they would have a few minutes to themselves while we were in the candy shop. There is an older woman in this small Michigan town that we would frequently pass while out on our walks. She was walking too. Up quite a steep hill or slowly down the main street. Sometimes down by the harbor looking out to the bay. We learned later that she is known around town as Walking Mary. I didn't say anything to dad, but I wondered to myself if, perhaps, in this small Michigan town we had earned a nickname too.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Elegance is Learned, My Friends

Elegance and Glamour are certainly not words that come to mind when I think of dog shows. A friend half-kiddingly describes them as one step above NASCAR. One step above? Really? Now don't get me wrong. I don't have a thing against NASCAR. I'm just more into professional wrestling. Most of you probably don't know, but many dog show people are also professional wrestlers. I must say that
I do sometimes long for the dog show days when you were more likely to run into the likes of the future Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her sister, the future Princess Lee Radziwell (now 77 and single after three marriages, the first was annulled after the bride and groom had been together for six years), than Mama's family. That is why I was so excited to learn of the Morris and Essex Kennel Club.

Elegance is learned, my friends
Elegance is learned, oh yeah
-Countess Luann de Lesseps

According to the Morris and Essex Kennel Club, every five years, starting in the year 2000, the elegance, glamour, style and high level of judging quality of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge’s original dog show held on her polo fields is brought back to life for a new generation. Of course, dad didn't learn about this year's M&E show until it was already over. Who knows where I will be in five years! Just now dad came across an article about the show that featured Gerald Gross and Stacey LaForge and their Tibetan Terrier Triumph and her pup Cordelia. Looking very spiffy. We know these Tibetan Terriers and they are gorgeous!

Above: Gerald Gross watches 18-month-old Cordy (short for Cordelia) get ready to compete at the Morris & Essex Dog Show in Somerset.

Above: Stacey LaForge, wife of Gerald Gross, with their Tibetan terrier Cordy.

Keep Reading if you want to learn more about Ms. Rockefeller Dodge and her legacy.

“The Dog Fancier of the Century”

Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, daughter of William Rockefeller and niece of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. was born into a privileged life during America’s “Gilded Age” . Geraldine grew up with a strong love of dogs, art, and a spirit of philanthropy. On April 18, 1907, Geraldine married Marcellus Hartley Dodge and the couple were regarded as the richest young couple in America.

Geraldine’s interest in dog breeding led her to create Giralda Farms Kennels in Madison, New Jersey; known both nationally and internationally as the home of the finest German Shepherds, Pointers, and English Cocker Spaniels. In fact, Mrs. Dodge is credited as the architect of the separation of the breeds now known as the American and English cocker spaniels. Between 1937 and 1942, the English cocker spaniel became her most successful breed. And, in 1942 she published a book entitled The English Cocker Spaniel in America.

Giralda Farms covered almost four acres and housed up to 150 dogs in palatial facilities with several resident kennel men. More than 200 Giralda Farms dogs were Best in Show winners leading Mrs. Dodge to be known as the “first lady of dogdom” and “the dog fancier of the century”. According to the Westminster Kennel Club website, in 1933, Mrs. M. Hartley Dodge became the first woman to officiate as the sole judge for Best In Show at its illustrious dog show.
Mrs. Dodge founded the M&E Kennel Club in 1927naming it after the two New Jersey counties from which its committed organizers and kennel club members came: Morris and Essex counties, just outside of New York City. Her grand outdoor dog shows held on her estate were highlights of not only the dog show world but the New York social world from 1927 until 1957. Women and men were dressed to the “nines” and it was the place to be seen.

The M&E Revival

In 1996, Wayne Ferguson, a well-known dog world philanthropist, discovered the M&E Kennel Club archives while attending a Board meeting at St Hubert’s Giralda. Mr. Ferguson was so enchanted by the magic of the 30-year reign of Mrs. Dodge’s show that he gathered a group of the 21st Century’s “who’s who” in dogs to revive the elegance of the bygone era. Four years later, the first M&E show was held near the grounds of the original show.

Thanks largely to M&E Club President and Show Committee Chairman Wayne Ferguson’s endeavors, and those of a remarkable and highly skilled Show Committee, including Connie Butherus, David Helming, and many others; every five years Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge’s legendary dog show once again springs to life.

In the years between shows, elaborate plans are made, show site drawings are debated, and grass is painstakingly treated and tended to assure perfection on show day. On the 2010 dog show scene, M&E is the place to be seen with more than a few stylish hats on both men and women in and outside the rings at Colonial Park in Somerset, NJ.
The 2010 M&E outdoor show features huge Renaissance tents flying the club’s orange and navy blue banners and housing 28 rings with 67 of the American Kennel Club’s finest breed judges and 36 Sweepstakes Judges; 16 breed clubs will hold Specialties and 74 breed clubs will host Supported Entries. This year, 160 breeds with entries expected from around the world will be seen on the beautiful grounds of Colonial Park and, keeping with tradition, only conformation judging will be held.

Hospitality and gentility are two of many features separating M&E from other outdoor shows. Picture elaborate flower displays, raised specially-designed platforms for Group winners, and imagine an outdoor dog show with no generators and noise, except the chirping of birds and the voice of the announcer. The M&E Committee accords tens of thousands of dollars for specially designed underground wiring to accommodate blow dryers, fans, grooming and other equipment to eliminate noise and excessive heat.

At precisely noon, a lunch bell is rung, all judging stops. Exhibitors are each presented with a scrumptious and beautifully designed “box lunch”, included as part of the $39 entry fee. During lunch hour, everyone dines; while in the judge’s tent, live classical music is played; linen and fine china displayed.

All spectators are invited to purchase delicious food and other items from an array of caterers and upscale vendors. Limited edition collectible commemorative pins and exciting memorabilia may be purchased in the catalog tent. Various charitable organizations, including Take the Lead – host of an Exhibitor Breakfast in the morning and fundraising Silent Auction throughout the day, the American Kennel Club, and St. Hubert’s, among others will be housed in a special tented area.
For the first time in its history, the 2010 M&E KC Show features an Art Show juried by William Secord of the world-renowned William Secord Gallery, NYC. Winners displayed will depict dog art from each of the 7 dog show groups and each receives a rosette. “Best in Show” at the Art Show will be selected at 10:30 that day by Mr. Secord and receive not only a rosette, but, exhibition during Westminster Week in a place of honor at the William Secord Gallery.

The level of detail and planning that go into this show are spectacular. The sterling silver trophy display is like none seen at any other outdoor dog show and includes many very special historical pieces. In fact, the 2010 Premium List was 200 type-written pages to include the array of trophies, prizes, and programs.

Every five years, a very special dog show appears, and we are transported to a gentler time honoring the heritage of one of the dog show world’s most devoted benefactors and the Show’s founder, Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blue-Blooded Boys

Above: Sherpa, Deep Acres Autumn Splendor, took Best of Winners twice and Winner's Dog over the weekend at a three-day show in Springfield, MA.

It was a very good weekend.
It was a very good weekend for blue-blooded boys.
Of independent means.
Who ride to dog shows in limousines.

That's right! My boys they get chauffeured around to dog shows. I bet you do to. If you're into that mess. Well, I mean, if your parents got you into that mess. If I could drive myself, I'd let them get me all pretty and I'd act like I was all excited about the whole mess and then I'd get in the car, let my hair down, open all the windows and the sky roof too and just drive. I'd drive to a place where there are lots of squirrels to chase and no people to tell me not to. I'd drive to a deserted beach and chase seagulls and get filthy with sand and seaweed. I'd wallow in mud and deer piss. Or, perhaps, I'd just go find someone to give me a sexy massage. Oh the possibilities. If only I could drive.

I think maybe they don't let me drive cause they think I couldn't possibly keep the windows up and my head in the car. But maybe it's cause my legs are too short to hit the gas. But, you know, I could rig something up with a stick and a pulley or something and I'd get along just fine. I mean have you seen my dad drive? Now he needs a chauffeur. If they would let me drive, I'd drive a great big pink cadillac. I'd cop a lean and I'd have gangsta whitewalls.

Though YOU may not drive a great big cadillac.
Gangsta whitewalls.
TV antennas in the back.
Though YOU may not have a car at all.
But remember brother and sisters you can still stand tall.

Diamond in the back, sunroof top.
Gangsta whitewalls.
Diggin' the scene.
With a gangsta lean.

Above: Rufus, Deep Acres Fields of Gold, waiting patiently in the back of the limo after the Sunday show.

Since we're talkin GANGSTA. I have to tell you my fine young boys Sherpa and Rufus did awfully well on the show circuit this weekend. Sherpa, Deep Acres Autumn Splendor, took Best of Winners twice and, on the other day, Winner's Dog at a three-day show weekend in Springfield, MA. I didn't get to go, but I hear he was looking mighty fine! Congrats Sherpa. And my little Rufus? Rufus, Deep Acres Fields of Gold, was in a small show in Springfield, IL on Saturday and Sunday and he took Best of Winners on both days. Good job sons!

All this car talk has me a hankering for this fine dog I spied while driving around Little Traverse Bay this summer. I caught a wiff of him as we were driving along and I couldn't help but snap a few shots while we were stopped at the traffic light. Now that's what I call MIGHTY FINE! I was looking at him. He was looking at me. I'd get in the back of a limousine with him anyday. I just know he could cop one mean gangsta lean.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lick My Face

Yes. I'm back. I got awfully lazy during my summer in Northern Michigan so I think I may have to ease back into this blogging business slowly. By the way, my summer was amazing. I promise, I'll tell you all about it later. Right now I have something more pressing to discuss. Dog licking.

I don't know if you've noticed, but there has been a lot of discussion about dog licking lately. Now I'm not talking about our natural habit of licking and cleaning ourselves. Everyone knows that's perfectly natural. And I'm not talking about incessant paw licking that borders on the pathological. That's probably due to allergies or some other irritant. For that I advise staying off the grass (say what girl?) and switching to a grain-free diet. No, current discussion all seems to revolve around us dogs licking your sweaty mugs. Should it be allowed or not? Now, personally, I like to start each day by jumping up on the bed and licking my dad's face like it was a great big meat lollipop or something. Actually, that's what I see when I look at my dad. A great big meat lollipop on the end of a stick. A lot of people say that puppies lick their mom's face to signal they are hungry. In response mom will regurgitate her food all partially digested and smooth like nature's answer to Gerber's. And I tell you it's true. My pups, when they were little ones, would lick my face when they were hungry. And I would spit up my breakfast for them. I have never seen them enjoy a meal more. They were like cute fuzzy little vultures on a carcass. But, really, when I lick my dad's face in the morning I'm not trying to get him to spit up that protein shake he slurped down right before calling it a night. But, come to think of it, I am kinda hungry in the morning and maybe I am trying to signal to the great big dumb meat lollipop that it's breakfast time in the same way I did to my mom when I was a pup. Never really thought about it that way before. This blog is way better than any therapist's couch!

But, anyway, all the current chatter centers on the benefits to humans derived from a good old-fashioned tongue bath. Well, two of my pups live with a plastic surgeon and he told me about a study that found that scars treated with the gentle lick of a dog heal faster and more completely. My dad extrapolated and decided that all this licking must be like a natural wrinkle cream or the best dermabrasion treatment ever. Now he will do anything to get me to lick his face. Honestly, he really doesn't have to. I love the taste of all those potions, tinctures, and ointments he applies to his face every night standing in front of the bathroom mirror before he puts on his soothing lavender eye mask and slides into bed. Now don't laugh and please don't tell anyone. He looks darn good for 82. Anyway, that stuff he puts on his face is like food for the gods to me. Really I can't get enough.

So all this face licking leads quite naturally to another debate. Do dogs have emotions and is a lick equivalent to a kiss? Well, as a dog, I can tell you I do have emotions. I do love my great big dumb meat lollipop and my pups and, of course, my Frisbee.