Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jazz Guitarist Jeff Golub Loves his Tibetan Terrier

Little Charlie Parker is Jeff Golub's adorable Tibetan Terrier

Jeff Golub

"I have so many friends that are great singers," Golub said Wednesday morning from his house in the Hamptons, while dealing with his 3-month-old Tibetan Terrier.

"I’ve been focusing on instrumental music," Golub said. "I’m such a crappy singer and a pretty good guitar player."

Golub has passed on his musical ability to his sons, Chris, 10, who plays guitar and Matthew, 8, who plays piano.

"We had a family jam just the other day," Golub said.

The family still has an apartment in Manhattan, but when he saw his oldest son playing soccer in the hallway, he decided maybe they should move to their summer home.

Golub borrowed some of his friends for four vocal tracks on his eighth solo album, "Blues for You," released in August.

"I think jazz is blues done gone to college," Golub said.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Greasy Bear

You may, or may not, remember that I met Brandon Davis back when he was still hanging out with Paris Hilton at the Chateau Marmont. If you do, you might remember that I really liked the way he smelled.

You see, Brandon Davis has enough oil in his hair to join OPEC, which is ironic because he is the grandson of oil tycoon Marvin Davis. He glistens with sweat wherever he goes, and is thus referred to as the "oily oil heir" and "Greasy Bear" with great frequency.

His dad at one time owned 20th Century Fox, Pebble Beach, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Denver Broncos NFL, and the Aspen Skiing Company.

His lesser-known but more obese brother, Jason Davis, is often referred to as "Gummi Bear." Although Brandon was quite a gent with us, both brothers are often denied entry to nightclubs or kicked out of parties.

Well our friend Brandon is in trouble again. He was arrested last night on charges of battery and possession of a controlled substance after he punched Chelsea Lately castmember Ben Gleib in the face at the Roosevelt Hotel last night.

The socialite otherwise known as Greasy Bear was apparently denied entry to Beacher's Madhouse beforehand for "erratic behavior."

I must admit to a bit of a crush on Brandon. Who says dogs are such great judges of character?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Soon to be Famous Writer Loves Her Tibetan Terrier

Robin Black's new collection of short stories just came out in paperback. She's a fabulous writer and she loves her Tibetan Terrier. Becky Batcha reports.

On Friday, the most famous Philadelphia author that you've never heard of will be the toast of bookish New York when she promenades in to a "literary debutante ball" at a factory loft building deep in hipster Brooklyn.

Writer Robin Black will be one of five literary debs in the limelight that night celebrating the publication of their first books. Hers is a collection of short stories, 2010's If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This.

She'll also be a duck out of water.

Just shy of 50, Black is a lot of things: a serious new voice in fiction with a big contract at Random House and a national book tour next month, the recipient of rave reviews from TV talk-show host Oprah Winfrey's O magazine and NPR, a former Penn law student (briefly) and longtime stay-at-home Main Line mom with serious chops as a cookie baker and Halloween costume-maker, the Dharma wife to Greg-ish husband Richard Goldberg, who's a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office.

Next Wednesday, just five days after debuting as a Brooklyn deb, Black will be the belle of the lectern at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, which is awarding her its annual literary prize for local authors. (Call 215-925-2688 to reserve a seat at the free event, which will also honor journalist Stephen Fried.)

But a Brooklyn hipster Black is not. "I'm very aware of not being hip," she said. "When I'm in Brooklyn, you know, I feel a little bit in danger of being everybody's mother." (Full disclosure: Your duck-out-of-Philly Daily News correspondent can relate. Her hip and much younger sister, Maribeth Batcha, is the publisher of One Story, the literary magazine that sponsors the Brooklyn literati ball.)

The "debutante" label also feels awkward, considering that Black's oldest child has graduated from college and is recently engaged.

"I have this image of myself, at 49, in some ridiculous Betty Sue prom gown and everybody sort of looking embarrassed for me," she said. "There's something very odd about shopping for a debutante dress and a mother-of-the-bride dress at the same time."

Almost famous

Like Junot Diaz and Lorrie Moore before her, Black has rocketed to a certain type of literary fame on the strength of her one dazzling book of short stories, which is being released by Random House in paperback today. In hardcover, the story collection was one of Winfrey's summer reading picks last year. It's been published in the U.K., Holland, France and Australia and is due out soon in Italy and Germany. She's got a novel in the works for Random House.

What's peculiar about her particular flavor of celebrity is that while serious, book-groupish readers have begun to swoon over her, she's otherwise a complete unknown.

Daniel Torday, a friend who directs the creative-writing program at Bryn Mawr College, recalled that when his book-groupie parents visited here from Los Angeles "they were shy of her in a way that they might have been of Brad Pitt or someone like that."

At a barbecue in Torday's yard, they sheepishly approached the author for autographs while she was flipping burgers on the grill.

But outside of book groups, book blogs, creative writing programs and literate backyard picnics, "I'm still kind of under the radar," Black said. "I've never had anybody recognize my name, at a bookstore even."

Let's do fiction

If you want to think of the New York affair and the upcoming book tour as Black's version of a Susan Boyle moment, go ahead. Black herself has drawn the connection between the two late bloomers in an essay on her blog at
When the Daily News interviewed her at home in Lower Merion, she laughed, remembering the Boyle debut as a "lost weekend," when along with the rest of womankind she couldn't resist replaying the frumpy singer's triumphant video clip incessantly. "It got to the point where I would think, you know, OK, do I want to cry again? Yeah. Yeah. I do. I want to cry again."

But you'd be wrong to imagine this "longtime stay-at-home Main Line mom" as a stereotype of that midlife ilk. Raising her three children, now 23, 20 and 15, "she wasn't one of those women who plays tennis or has lunch," said her friend Fay Trachtenberg, a lawyer at Temple University who met Black when their kids were in nursery school. "She was working."

Instead, think of Black as an embedded correspondent in the trenches of domestic life, watching life's bombs drop and tapping out clear-eyed dispatches from the front.

'Tales of loss and reckoning'

Many of the characters in Black's story collection are facing some devastating loss, including blindness, cancer and young widowhood. Vogue called them "exquisitely distilled tales of loss and reckoning." If you're reading the paperback poolside this summer, a shot of whiskey might be a better accompaniment than an Appletini.
Even as a child, Black said, "the world felt like a very painful place to me and a place in which people were making decisions all the time about how to move on from something bad that's happened, which is really what my stories are about - not so much about the tragic event as about how it is that people have the creativity to go forward."

It was the loss of a late-term pregnancy in 1997 that compelled her, after dabbling as a writer on and off since college in the 1980s, to take the leap of faith and become one. "When that happened, I really thought," she said. "I was so devastated. And I thought, 'I want to be a writer.' And it still took a few years for me to get there."

The stories started flowing in 2001, following the death of her father, and in 2003 - at age 41 - she enrolled in graduate school at the Warren Wilson Writing Program in North Carolina (under a family-friendly "low-residency" option). Influential literary magazines such as the Indiana Review began to publish her work almost instantly.

In reviews, her unvarnished writing has been compared to that of short-story virtuoso Alice Munro. While it's a comparison that reviewers trot out too predictably to anoint any hot new writer, "in this case it's absolutely true," said her New York agent, Henry Dunow, whose literary agency represents big-name authors such as Alice Sebold and Patti Smith. "I think she's going to have a very important career."

Philly as fodder

Another longtime local friend, psychotherapist Eleanor Bloch, remembers when Black first came out to her as an aspiring writer, sharing an early story over coffee at the Commissary restaurant near Rittenhouse Square 20 years ago when both were living downtown. "Oh, it was fabulous!" Bloch said.

At the time, the women's children were in preschool together, and the handoff came during "that two-hour turnaround" between drop off and pick up when mothers catch a breather, she said. "I remember that moment now because it was, like, astonishing. When someone you know very well suddenly comes up with something brilliant is one of those moments - very poignant.

"It's in the middle of the everyday wear and tear with the kids and everything else that she found time to write this," Bloch said, still marveling. "This is on a different level."

Note the Rittenhouse Square location. Although Black wasn't born in Philly, she's lived in the area for almost 23 years. "It's definitely the place I've lived longest in my life," she said. While she doesn't see herself as a writer whose work is strongly defined by place, some people and landmarks from around here "slip in."

Yo, Philly: It turns out that from under her cloak of relative obscurity, Black has been watching us.

We're real characters all right

A certain Lower Merion soccer mom was the (unsuspecting) inspiration for a complicated, quietly noble character named Heidi in a story called "Pine" from If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This. A massive stockade fence erected to Black's dismay by an unyielding Montco neighbor plays a central role in the book's title story. Rittenhouse Square and its denizens make a couple of appearances.

Friends Central was an influence behind a short story where kids at an earnest Quaker school circle their Friend-wagons to ostracize a new girl. Black wrote the story, "Harriet Elliot," after she'd moved to the suburbs and enrolled her children in the Wynnewood institution, "and it must have been a very bad month," she said, "because there's some serious lampooning that goes on." A round of show-and-tell is billed, self-importantly, as Self Expression Day.

Then she bores deeper:

"On the day Harriet Elliot joined our ranks, we set out, as if on the kind of formal assignment that we never were assigned, to make her defend her difference from us. . . .

Ben Granger began, asking her where she was from, as if the answer might be Oz. She told us that she was from New York. "Manhattan," she said, hardening the t's in that, as well. Harriet Elliot, from Manhattan. She clicked when she spoke. And she wore a white, furry coat, though the rest of us wore only long-sleeved shirts."

" 'Philadelphia's better,' Peter Walker said. 'New York's full of murderers.' We all nodded. We all believed the same things."

As far as Black knows, "nobody who inspired a character knows they did," she said. "Even my neighbor - maybe until he reads this."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tibetan Terrier Boxer Shorts?

Tibetan Terrier Boxer Shorts

Enjoy the roomy comfort of our Boxer Shorts sexy boxers as underwear or sleepwear. They're 100% cotton, open fly for thinking outside the boxers. Boxers, because you don't want to be brief.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tips on Getting Your Dog Ready for Spring

Spring is finally here! It's time to get outside and take advantage of all the season has to offer and do things that the cold winter may have prevented you from doing. To help you and your dog get ready for spring, American Kennel Club Canine Partners offers the following Fido fun tips.

- Get a clean bill of health. It's good to take your dog for a checkup after being cooped up in the house for the winter. This will ensure he is healthy and ready to start springtime activities.

- Drop the winter weight. Many of us pack on a few pounds during the cold winter months, and chances are our dogs have too. If your dog is looking a little fuller these days it's time to talk to your veterinarian about a safe weight loss regimen for Fido. Try cutting back on treats that add calories to your dog's diet. Instead, try giving him baby carrots.

- Play outside. Now that the weather is warming up, take the opportunity to get outside with your dog. Start slowly if your dog hasn't exercised much over the winter. Try taking a walk to the local dog park, or playing fetch in your yard. You can even begin training for agility by teaching your dog navigate through weave poles, run through tunnels and over jumps!

- Beware of the grass. Your dog will finally be able to run and play on the grass, but be careful where you let Fido go. The chemicals used on lawns don't belong on your dog's paws. Make sure you clean his pads after playing on grass.

- Groom the coat. Shedding increases in the springtime as dogs lose their winter coats. Make sure to brush your dog regularly. This will help keep the shedding under control, as brushing loosens and removes dead hair and dandruff from Fido's coat.

For more information on how to have fun with your dog, visit the AKC Canine Partners website at

Monday, April 25, 2011

Do you and your dog have matching love handles? Get tips on exercising with your pet

Walking your dogs delivers physical and mental benefits for you and them

Exercising with your pet is a win-win situation because both you and your pooch, or even your cat, benefit from the activity. Get tips on how to exercise with your animal during a live web chat today, Monday, April 25, at 11 a.m. Pacific time (1 p.m. Central, 2 p.m. Eastern). Guest Jackie Epping is a public health scientist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and she recently presented her paper "An Exercise Machine with Hair? How Dogs Can Increase Physical Activity" at the American College of Sports Medicine's meeting. She has five dogs and a cat that keep her very busy.

We asked Epping why exercising with your pet is so important:

"A pet can provide social support," she said, "and part of social support is creating expectations: If your dog expects to go for a walk, you are more likely to do that than if you planned to go by yourself. If it's just you, you're more likely to skip it because you don't feel like it, or the temperature is too hot or too cold.

"Dogs need exercise for many of the same reasons we do. There's a parallel obesity epidemic going on in dogs as there is in humans, with some of the same chronic diseases involved, such as diabetes. Dogs also need exercise for mental stimulation; they need different scenery that stimulates their senses.

"Walking a dog is also good for people who might not have social contacts or who tend to isolate themselves. People who walk dogs are seen as more approachable, and they tend to have more contact with people. That's good for your mental health.

"Obese people might feel uncomfortable doing social types of physical activities, or they don't have the skill sets or level of fitness to do them. These people can benefit the most from walking with their dogs."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Relishing the Part of a Dog’s Best Friend

Isabella Rossellini with Bau

For young Bau, there is a lot to learn yet. For instance, that it’s not a good idea to walk your human full speed into a lamppost. Especially when your human has a money face. When she is, say, Isabella Rossellini.Ms. Rossellini is, of course, an actress of some renown, but during a recent stroll in Midtown Manhattan, she wasn’t acting, she was training. Bau, the trainee, is a 6-month-old black Lab who, if he proves to be a good learner and have the right personality, will some day be a guide dog for a blind person.

“I do like a lot of animals, but dogs are so close to us,” Ms. Rossellini said during the stroll down Eighth Avenue with Bau. “No; leave it.” That last phrase was directed at Bau, who was eyeballing a pigeon that was pecking at someone’s trash on the sidewalk. Any other puppy would see an opportunity for fun; Bau was learning that there is no pigeon chasing while on the job.

Ms. Rossellini is a “puppy walker,” someone who will spend a year with a young dog teaching rudimentary skills and habituating the animal to crowds, bright lights, cats and, yes, pigeons. If Bau shows promise in that year, he will be turned over to another trainer to gain the specialized knowledge needed by a guide dog. The dogs, Ms. Rossellini said, can learn 200 commands.

Ms. Rossellini also walks a four-legged trainee around town in “Animals Distract Me,” an hourlong documentary she made for the cable channel Planet Green that is having its premiere on Saturday. In the film, that dog, Sweety, drops in on some of Ms. Rossellini’s famous friends, like the chef Mario Batali, and Ms. Rossellini gets a chance to expound not just on guide dog training but also on her broader concern for animals, cruelty-free menu choices and other subjects.

Ms. Rossellini’s acting résumé is certainly eclectic: highlights include David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” in 1986 and “Wild at Heart” in 1990, the foodie favorite “Big Night” in 1996 and a recurring role on the ABC series “Alias.” But for real eclecticism, you need to see her work as a filmmaker. In one especially ridiculous scene in “Animals Distract Me,” Ms. Rossellini and André Leon Talley, the fashion editor, begin talking gibberish to illustrate how Sweety perceives their conversation.

Two series of very short films that Ms. Rossellini made for the Sundance Channel, “Green Porno” and “Seduce Me,” about the sex lives of spiders, dolphins and assorted other creatures, border on the bizarre. They are droll and informational at the same time and, like some vignettes in “Animals Distract Me,” feature Ms. Rossellini in an array of outlandish costumes. For instance, the whale suit she dons to show the male half of that species in midreproduction leaves nothing to the imagination in terms of the animal’s appendages. Ms. Rossellini may have a highbrow pedigree — her father was the director Roberto Rossellini, her mother Ingrid Bergman — but she has a wicked, winking sense of humor.

“She always has a point of view about the world that is a little off center,” said Laura Michalchyshyn, president of Planet Green, part of Discovery’s group of channels.

In the new film “she’s making a big statement about how humans and our interactions influence the world, but she doesn’t do it with straight finger-pointing, she does it with humor,” added Ms. Michalchyshyn, who first worked with Ms Rossellini when she was an executive at the Sundance Channel. “She doesn’t take herself so seriously that she can’t talk dog-talk with André Leon Talley or can’t dress up as a cabbage.”

She is serious, though, about the work she does for the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind in Smithtown, N.Y., on Long Island. Bau — the name is from the Italian equivalent of the sound of a dog’s bark, as in bow-wow — is the eighth dog she has trained. She also sometimes acts as a midwife to pregnant dogs being used by the foundation; she takes them into her home in the Long Island town of Bellport and oversees the birth and the first five weeks of the puppies’ lives.

“Mostly they are Labs or golden retrievers,” Ms. Rossellini said, though efforts are being made to turn poodles into guide dogs because some people who are allergic to other breeds aren’t allergic to them. Another trend comes from war: “Now they’re breeding very big dogs that act like walking sticks” for veterans with head injuries that leave them with impaired balance, she said.

On the stroll through Midtown, at 40th and Eighth, Bau was a bit distracted by a food cart. Crosswalks were still a problem. And so were obstacles like trash cans and lampposts.

“The dog is always calculating so he doesn’t walk you into a pole,” Ms. Rossellini said, referring to fully trained dogs, not to Bau. She then demonstrated his need for work in this area by letting him walk near a lamppost. Sure enough, Bau — the dog is always on the human’s left side, by the way — didn’t have the calculation thing down yet; he left himself enough room to get past the pole, but Ms. Rossellini, had she been blind, would have clanged right into it.

An amble down a sidewalk, though, is only the simplest thing a guide dog is asked to do; any old mutt can probably manage that. But it takes a dog with a certain kind of personality, Ms. Rossellini said, to make the command decisions that are sometimes needed.

“The dog has to be obedient, but it has to be willing to overrule,” Ms. Rossellini said. For instance, a blind person going by sound may be ready to step off the curb to cross the street, but the dog needs to have the last word, in case a bicyclist or a super-quiet electric car is coming along.

“The puppies she raises for us are very well-adjusted dogs,” said Doug Wiggin, a field representative at the Smithtown foundation who has done the next level of training on some of Ms. Rossellini’s graduates. Especially useful, he said, is Ms. Rossellini’s fearlessness about taking the puppies to the city, into crowds and so on. “The puppies have quite a bit of exposure, which is great for our purposes,” he said.

The walk ended at Penn Station, a spot nicely suited to Ms. Rossellini’s needs. “All of this is fantastic for training: loudspeakers, crowds, that noise,” she said, as she prepared to disappear onto an ordinary commuter train with Bau for the trek to Long Island.

When she’s out and about with a trainee like this, who gets the most attention, the movie star or the dog?

“Probably the dog,” she said.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Molly is Safe and Back at Home!!!!

Just received this update on Molly, a Tibetan Terrier from Concord, California:

"Molly has been found and is safe at home. She was found by someone on our street and taken to Animal Services this afternoon. They were able to contact us using the microchip she has implanted in her. Thank you for all your help and well wishes."

Dog Massage? Isn’t Petting Enough?

Renee Lane's living room had been transformed into a spa. Candles twinkled on the coffee table; lavender oil scented the air; lilting guitar music played softly on the stereo. Grace, Ms. Lane’s 2-year-old caramel-colored toy poodle, leaped onto the sofa and, in response to Ms. Lane’s cooing invitation (“Want to lay down for Mama?”), got into position for her evening massage.

Ms. Lane took a deep breath and began making long stroking motions down the length of Grace’s back with her palms. With her thumbs, she kneaded the tissue around the dog’s delicate shoulders, and then began working her way toward the muscles in the dog’s legs. By the time the 20-minute massage session was done, Grace had entered a state of canine bliss, eyelids drooping, tongue lolling.

“Grace absolutely loves it — she just turns into a puddle,” said Ms. Lane, 43, a public relations and business development consultant in Edgewater, N.J. “I want to keep her around as long as I can, and I think it’s going to keep her healthy. She helps reduce my stress, so why shouldn’t I reciprocate?”

That is a question that a number of dog owners — and even some cat owners — have been asking themselves, buoyed by a belief that pet massage confers the same benefits as human massage: increased circulation, improved digestion, strengthened immunity, stress relief, comfort at the end of life and muscle relaxation after a hard day (even if it was spent at the dog park).

Some pet owners scoff at this idea. What’s wrong with regular old petting? they ask. And many veterinarians say that evidence of its benefits is flimsy. Nonetheless, pet massage workshops have flourished in recent years at pet stores, dog day-care centers, veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, massage schools and holistic institutes like the New York Open Center in Manhattan, where Ms. Lane and more than 75 other dog owners took a one-day class last summer.

“People realize more and more that what’s good for me, including massage, is probably good for my animal,” said Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt, an animal massage therapist and teacher in Wellington, Fla., whose book “Canine Massage: A Complete Reference Manual” is considered the standard text.

“Today, you also have the baby boomers whose kids are gone,” Mr. Hourdebaigt said. They “have more time and money, and it’s easy for them to spend a couple hundred bucks on a massage seminar for their dog. The animal benefits, the benevolent action makes them feel good. Everybody’s happy.”

By most estimates, only a few of the nation’s pet dogs and cats — which the American Pet Products Association estimates at 78.2 million and 86.4 million, respectively — are fortunate enough to receive massages. But the numbers may be growing. The International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork, a professional group in Toledo, Ohio, now has more than 500 members, up from just 200 in 2007. And a survey of more than 1,200 pet owners across the United States and Canada by the American Animal Hospital Association in Lakewood, Colo., found that the number who were pursuing alternative therapies for their animals — including acupuncture, massage, chiropractic and herbal medicine — rose to 21 percent from 6 percent between 1996 and 2003. (It may still be rising; the survey was discontinued after 2004.)

Many pet owners interested in massage hire professionals to perform the treatment. But the D.I.Y. approach — in which pet owners like Ms. Lane learn the techniques themselves — also seems to be gaining in popularity, as Mr. Hourdebaigt maintains. At the Northwest School of Animal Massage in Fall City, Wash., 170 people took the basic amateur workshop last year; eight years ago, only 24 people enrolled. At the Boulder College of Massage Therapy in Colorado, enrollment in a similar class has jumped 30 percent in the last two years.

Becky Brandenburg, an animal-massage practitioner and teacher in Martins Ferry, Ohio, said she started offering occasional workshops for pet owners last year, but now plans to offer them monthly. “Every time I announce a class, it’s filled within a day or two,” Ms. Brandenburg said. “It’s really taken off.”

The origins of pet massage can be traced to equine massage, a treatment popularized in the 1970s and ’80s by Jack Meagher, a massage therapist who worked with the United States equestrian team. By the early 1990s, a handful of people experienced in human or equine massage, or both, had begun adapting Mr. Meagher’s technique for use on dogs and cats.

Sometimes, it is veterinarians who suggest the practice to pet owners. Nanci Sloan Cummings, a mortgage loan officer in Lake Oswego, Ore., said she was urged by her veterinarian to try massage for her 12-year-old arthritic collie, Baxter. Although in his sprightlier days the dog could trek several miles, by last year he was able to walk only a couple of blocks. To see if she could help him become more limber, Ms. Cummings took a three-hour massage workshop at a dog day-care center in January.

Nearly every evening since then, she has put down a cushioned mat near the ficus tree and potted fern in the living room of her three-bedroom house, and performed the routine she learned: kneading, squeezing, stroking and tapping Baxter.

“At night, when I watch ‘American Idol,’ I’ll sit on the floor and massage him to the music,” Ms. Cummings said. “It’s very distressing to see your aging animal suffer, and very rewarding to think that maybe you can help him feel better. I think just the attention and affection, if nothing else, is helpful.”

But there are plenty of veterinarians who believe that massage offers little beyond the attention and affection. They note that few clinical studies of pet massage have been conducted, and that claims of its benefits are usually extrapolated from research on humans. At best, they say, pet massage fortifies the bond between human and animal in the same way that a good belly scratch does, and at worst, it may aggravate a serious medical condition or prevent owners from seeking veterinary help.

“I have two dogs, and I pet them all the time,” said David W. Ramey, a veterinarian in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles, and a co-author of “Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine Considered,” a book that looks at the science behind various alternative therapies for pets. “I think everybody should pet their dogs. But I don’t refer to that as ‘massage,’ and I certainly wouldn’t send anyone to a glorified school of dog petting.”

Narda Robinson, a veterinarian at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, has a more benign view. Dr. Robinson, who established a canine medical massage course at the university in 2008, believes that massage, properly administered, can help dogs recover from illness, injuries and stress. And while massage classes for dog owners are largely unregulated and of varying quality, she said, they can be helpful as long as they are “based on actual science, rather than lost in mysterious energies.”

For many pet owners, though, the goal is not therapeutic — it’s just to make their dogs feel good.

One recent Sunday afternoon, several people showed up for an advanced canine massage class at My Dog’s Place, a training school in Mystic, Conn., along with their charges: a miniature dachshund, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a cocker spaniel and a few others. The dogs sniffed their hellos, then settled on blankets on the floor, and Suzin Webb, who teaches about 15 such courses a year, began her instruction.

For two hours, the students worked the muscles along their dogs’ spines, stretched their limbs, rolled the dogs’ skin between their fingers and gently tugged their tails. By the end of the class, none of the dogs seemed particularly eager to move.

The miniature dachshund, 13-year-old Wylie Angelo, lay on his back, tongue out, limbs splayed. His owner, Cricket Murphy, a 67-year-old aesthetician, had taken Ms. Webb’s beginners’ class three years earlier to help Wylie Angelo heal from disk surgery. Since then, she has been massaging him every morning.

Their ritual takes place in the bedroom of her house overlooking Long Island Sound in Niantic, Conn. Ms. Murphy fetches a dish of water and a homemade cranberry biscuit for the dog, and then the two sit on Ms. Murphy’s king-size bed, she with her back against the headboard and Wylie Angelo in front of her on a down pillow. She begins the massage by rubbing his belly with rose ointment.

Ms. Murphy said she believes that this daily routine has improved Wylie Angelo’s mobility and bolstered his circulation. But she is more certain about other benefits.

“He goes straight to la-la land,” Ms. Murphy said. “It’s a very quieting time for us. We’re in bed together, he’s propped up on a pillow, and pretty soon, he’s just in the zone.”

Sit, Stay, Relax

Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt, a teacher and practitioner of canine massage, recommends that pet owners interested in learning the technique enroll in a class, study a textbook like his “Canine Massage: A Practical Guide” or watch one of the many instructional DVDs on the topic. He also offered a few pointers.

• Start with light pressure. “Most people have so much power in their hands, they don’t realize that it can be too much for some animals,” Mr. Hourdebaigt said. Only if the dog seems comfortable should the pressure be increased.

• Maintain an even speed. “If you’re erratic — starting fast, slowing down, getting fast again — the animal worries too much,” he said. “If you maintain one stroke per second, whether you’re doing gentle kneading or friction, the animal can relax in the flow of the rhythm.”

• Place the pet on a table to keep your own posture comfortable. “If you massage on the floor on your knees, you will get sore knees and a sore back, which makes you tense up and makes the whole experience more negative,” he said.

• Avoid massaging the animal with other animals nearby. “If you have several dogs in your house, and take one particular dog aside and isolate him on the table while the others are having fun, he’ll feel like he’s missing out on something and won’t relax.”

• Learn palpation, a technique of touching aimed at discovering abnormalities. “Any time you feel unusual heat, puffiness or swelling on the animal, back off,” Mr. Hourdebaigt said. And before doing any massage on the suspect spot, ask a veterinarian.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tibetan Terrier Molly missing in Concord, California

Molly, a beautiful Tibetan Terrier, who lives in Concord, California is missing. Please pass this information on to friends in the area.

Here are the details on her escape....

Our back gate was accidentally left open and we didn't realize she was missing until she was gone. Three of us drove around for about an hour tonight and found no sign of her.

She is a white and black/gray Tibetan Terrier. She is an important member of our family and we hate the thought that she is out there tonight ALONE!

We live close to Baldwin Park near Port Chicago Highway. I'm hoping your readers can keep an eye out for her. She got a bath today so unfortunately she did not have her collar on, but she is chipped.

Hopefully Molly will make it home very soon!

If you've seen her, or know where she is located, please email

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hannah and Her (Twin) Brother

Above: My daughter Sadie as drawn by Hannah

I think you know my daughter Sadie lives with Grammy Jill and PaPa in a lake community in Michigan. When we visit Sadie we love to go on float boat rides and long walks.

One day when we were walking around the north point of the lake we met Hannah and her twin brother, their little brother and their mom and dad. You see, they had been watching Sadie for a long time as she walked around the lake and across the golf course with Grammy Jill. Many times they had thought about stopping their car and introducing themselves to Sadie and Grammy Jill. You see, they thought Sadie was awfully cute and wanted to know all about her.

Hannah and her entire family happened to all be in their front yard (unloading groceries from the minivan or some such thing) on the day Sadie and Angus and Roxie and I strolled past. Hannah and her twin bother ran to the curb and introduced themselves and gave us lots of love. Little brother and mom and dad followed and everyone had a very nice time.

Well this chance encounter developed into a very nice relationship. Sadie soon introduced Grammy Jill to Hannah and her entire family. Now Sadie sometimes gets to visit Hannah when Grammy Jill has another engagement and doesn't want to leave Sadie home alone.

Now Every time we pass Hannah's house, Sadie tries to drag us to the front door.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rachel, Rachel

I have a new friend and pen pal and her name is Rachel. You see, I met Rachel and her parents at the Ritz Carlton in Chicago on the very same weekend that Rufus became the youngest Grand Champion in the history of the world. You know when he took Best of Breed at the Tibetan Terrier Club of America's supported entry at the International Kennel Club. Am I repeating myself? I really must pick up some Gingko.

Well, would you believe, Rachel is getting her very own Deep Acres Tibetan Terrier pup and she's busy researching everything so that everything is just perfect for her new pup. You see, Rachel is like that. She's a very thoughtful and enterprising young woman.

Dear Ms. Suddie:
I am very excited about the new dog! My mom has a jar that my family is filling up with money for the dog and for what it needs. I have thought of names and I like Luna and Harriet the best. I would like to know what Tibetan Terriers eat? What do Tibetan Terriers like to play with? By the way Angus is realy cute! I can't wait to have a dog like Angus.

Dear Rachel,
How great to get your note. It makes me feel good that one of my pups is going to be lucky enough to come live with a thoughtful girl like you. I wanted to send you this picture of Angus in his winter hat. I think he would look very smart walking next to you in that snazzy winter coat of yours (the one your mom saw in a magazine and sent a buyer to New York City to get just for you). Would you mind sending me a picture of you in that coat? I would love to put it on my blog along with your note.

I love both the names! Luna and Harriet! When I was younger I loved the book Harriet the Spy. Have you read it? After I read it I put together a spy kit and spent the next few weeks spying through all our neighbors windows. They were really happy when I moved on to my next thing. Well not really happy cause my next thing was selling what I thought was rhubarb door to door. You see there was a plant that grew on the bank behind our house and it looked very much like rhubarb. Luckily my mom (Or someone, I think my mom might have actually been out playing tennis in a very short skirt) intervened and no harm was done.

But I digress, don't I. We dogs love to eat a dog food called Wellness Core. It's grain-free and we like that. I think we will probably feed the puppies Wellness Puppy food, but I haven't decided on that for sure. I like to always be on the lookout for the most nutritious best puppy food out there. With our last litter of pups, we fed them Holistic Select Puppy food. I will keep you posted on this and as we get closer to the time your puppy is ready to come home to you I will send you a Puppy Info Packet that I put together that contains lots of good advice on bringing up puppy.

We dogs also love good ole' Milk Bone biscuits. We can't get enough of them. Our favorite chew toy in a synthetic bone made by WagWear that comes in lots of cool flavors like peanut butter, cashew, and pistachio. We seem to agree that the peanut butter is best followed by pistachio. I get them at a store in Dallas called Tails of the City. Nancy, the owner there, used to have two Tibetan Terriers. One was named Yankee Doodle Dandy cause he was born on the Forth of July. They called him Doodles. Anyway, Nancy is a hoot and I am sure she would send you a few WagWear bones once your jar starts to fill up.

Did you know that I love pasta. I'm only allowed a little bit though. Check it out:Suddie Loves, Suddie Loves, Suddie Loves Pasta
And check this out for some of my pups favorite toys:
Pups Favorite Toys
Hope to hear from you again soon.
Suddie and Roxie and ESPECIALLY Angus

Dear Ms. Suddie:
Thank you for the information and the pictures of Angus. Angus is now the background picture on our computer.

I haven't read Harriet the Spy but it sounds interesting. I think I will pick one up the next time we go to Barnes and Noble. Right now I'm reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I recieved some exciting news last week. I'm now in the accelerated reading program at my school. I'm reading with the junior high kids. Finally something a little more challenging.

By the way my dogs Mabel and Spencer like pasta. They like penne pasta and I love bow tie with olive oil and garlic.

Mom helped me attach pictures of me in my coat. She had trouble deciding which pictures to send. I told her to assume they were all good. She laughed and told me to go look up the words ego and then humble.
(P.S. I am going to ask my mom to make me pasta tonight.)

And today I was lucky enough to hear from Rachel again!!

Dear Ms. Suddie:
We are going to make the cake from your blog. I bet it will be delightful to our tastebuds. My mom and I can't wait to bake the cake this weekend.

I have a recipe for a chocolate mug cake and I will put it in this note:

4 T. flour
4T. sugar
2T. cocoa
1 egg
3 T. milk
3 T. oil (we like to use EVOO)
5 - 6 T. chocolate chips
2 drops vanilla exract
1 large mug

Add dry ingredeints and mix well. Add egg and mix well. Pour in milk and oil and mix well. Add chocolate chips and vanilla and mix well. Cook in microwave for 3 minutes on high. Cake will rise above top of mug so don't be alarmed. Allow to cool a little then tip onto plate. Serve with ice cream.
PS - I like the picture of Angus on the book.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

(Back) Cover Boy

My boy, Angus, was selected to appear on the back cover of the Tibetan Terrier Association of the UK's Year Book which hit the shelves at Crufts just a few weeks ago. Crufts is the world's largest dog show. No longer purely a dog show, Crufts celebrates every aspect of the role that dogs play in our lives.

It has changed in ways that couldn’t possibly have been imagined when the show was set up in Victorian times by the late Charles Cruft. Although it was a very different event in 1891 Charles Cruft was a great showman and would surely have enjoyed the size and scope of the event today, which is an essential date in any dog lover’s calendar.

The dog show is still an important part of the event, celebrating the unique relationship that dogs share with their owners. Judges are trained to ensure that only healthy dogs win prizes, which in turn encourages the breeding of healthy dogs. But the event is now about so much more besides.

Crufts is ultimately a celebration of all dogs. It celebrates working dogs, which are fit and healthy enough to perform the jobs for which they were originally bred, such as those in the Gamekeeper classes or which line up for the Police Dog Team Operational and Humanitarian Action of the Year award, and it hails hero dogs through the Friends for Life competition. Rescue dogs are celebrated in the rescue dog agility competition and the speed and agility of dogs is celebrated in the ever popular competitions of Flyball and Heelwork to Music.

For prospective dog owners and dog lovers, Crufts is a prime opportunity to talk to Kennel Club Accredited Breeders, rescue charities and breed experts about how to responsibly buy, train and enjoy life with your dog.

And of course, with hundreds of trade stands selling anything and everything for dogs and dog lovers, it is a shopping extravaganza!

Crufts is proud to welcome visitors from all over the world and have arranged a lounge especially for overseas visitors.

Anywho... Angus is credited in the Year Book as American Champion Deep Acres Cream of the Crop. I hear that my dear friend Ella, from the Isle of Skye, graced the back cover last year. I won't go on about how wonderful Angus is, how he has always been destined for stardom, etc, etc...

I mean, anyone who has a Facebook account knows how tremendously tedious that can be.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do you believe in Magic?

Well, I don't pay much attention to Horoscopes. I didn't even know my zodiac sign until a few minutes ago. I'm a Gemini by the way. I also have a positive polarity! Can anyone tell me what that means?

You see, I was flipping through the Round Town News when I landed on the Horoscopes page written by Kenny Corris.

Gemini: The power of positive thinking sets you in the right direction right now. This surely is a testing time and you know that you have to be sure before you take things further afield. The attitude of those who really have your interests at heart will be something rather wonderful, and you can begin to dump negative energies you have developed for the sake of both, vital and adequate protection.

No idea, really, what Kenny was trying to tell me, but I kept reading. My tail stood straight up. Turns out Kenny has been in contact with a Tibetan Terrier on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. An angel?

"One client wanted to make contact with Charlie one day. After opening doors and channelling energy to facilitate this I was initially upset that clear communication was not getting the audible response that was called for. I suddenly realised that Charlie was a dog. A Tibetan Terrier to be precise, and my client knew that there was actual contact with her departed pet when I recognised the breed! Then a little bell could be heard. Charlie had a bell on his collar to warn away the squirrels that he loved to chase in the garden. Sound and picture, loud and clear from the Spirit Realms! One very happy lady left my office that day."

It turns out Kenny Corris is a working Medium, Clairvoyant, Psychic, and Astrologer, a Healer, Psychic surgeon, Teacher, Therapist and Life Coach with over forty years of experience.

He studied Astrology with the late and great Carole Golder, Astrologer to the U.K. Daily Express for many years, and he has been casting horoscopes himself for some thirty years.

Kenny currently writes articles for a growing number of publications, including the Round Town News on the Costa Blanca in Spain, and casts Horoscopes internationally for the World’s press, on a regular basis.

No stranger to broadcasting; Kenny’s first break was with Molly Parkin on her “Good Golly Miss Molly” show on BBC Wales. He has made appearances on Thames TV, with Robert Kilroy Silk. And has guested on TVam, Anglia, and STC, as well as W.I.O.D. Miami where he presented daily horoscope readings and forecasts. Currently Kenny is a weekly guest on Coast Radio FM’s Friday afternoon show, on the Costa Blanca.

Dividing his time between private sittings and castings and a host of personal appearances, Kenny always enjoys demonstrating his abilities publicly, speaking to groups and organizations, promoting spirituality wherever and whenever in a down to earth and practical manner.

Kenny runs a number of workshops and courses throughout the year on spiritualist matters.

This winter Kenny visits New York to demonstrate on tour. He has also been invited to Madrid, Barcelona, Bergen, London, St Ives, and Southern California to run workshops and courses.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sh-Sh-Sh-Sherpa, Beautiful Sherpa

Sherpa, CH Deep Acres Autumn Splendor

Today is my boy's, Sherpa's, 18-month birthday. He lives in the state of Connecticut where, apparently, dogs are allowed on the dining room table.

I so want to live in Connecticut.

Instead of singing that tired old birthday song, won't you join me in a round of Sh-Sh-Sh-Sherpa, Beautiful Sherpa (sung to the tune of K-K-K-Katy, Beautiful Katy). I'm sure you know this old ditty.

"K-K-K-Katy" was a popular World War I-era song written by Geoffrey O'Hara in 1917 and published in 1918. The sheet music advertised it as "The Sensational Stammering Song Success Sung by the Soldiers and Sailors," reflecting a time when speech impediments could be poked fun at—albeit gentle fun in this case. The song tells the story of Jimmy, a young soldier "brave and bold," who stuttered when he tried to speak to girls. Finally he managed to talk to Katy, the "maid with hair of gold."

Sh-Sh-Sh-Sherpa, Beautiful Sherpa
You're the only b-b-b-boy that I adore
When the m-moon shines over the cowshed,
I will meet you at the k-k-k-kitchen door

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Madonna and Dog

Renaissance Art
An artist’s best friend—the dog in Renaissance painting
Dogs are a common visual motif in Western art and have been called the “artist’s best friend” for their role as companion and life model. The close and accurate observation of animals is a hallmark of Renaissance (and Baroque) art in general, and as the most domesticated and favored of species, it is inevitable that dogs in particular would be well represented. Sketching from life was part of the Renaissance artist’s normal routine, and when artists began to look at the world around them, there was the dog—a ready and willing source of inspiration.

Throughout the Renaissance, dogs abound in art, most often appearing as incidental background motifs, part of a hunting scene, religious, mythological, or allegorical composition, or beside their masters in portraits. However, even a brief accounting of their role in the visual arts of the period involves issues that go well beyond the history of art, including court life, aristocratic tastes and fashion, pet ownership, the status of hunting among the royal and noble classes, developments in the classification of dog breeds and types, and changing views of the intelligence and mental abilities of dogs. For example, although working dogs were ubiquitous in the Renaissance—they turned cooking spits, pulled carts, herded sheep, baited wild animals, and competed in sporting events—their menial status mostly precluded their appearing as such in paintings of the period.

The first great observer of animals in the Renaissance, Pisanello, produced several sensitively observed studies of dogs, evidently drawn from nature, in a sketchbook in Paris. He used these studies for the Greyhounds, hound, and two small Spaniel-like dogs in the foreground of The Vision of Saint Eustace (fig. 2). Half a century later, Albrecht Dürer rendered dogs with the attention of a portraitist, in silverpoint and ink and wash, leaving us several preparatory drawings of individual animals taken directly from life that exemplify the Renaissance artist’s intensifying quest for accuracy and realism. The tense, nervous hunting dogs in the foreground of his largest engraving, The Vision of Saint Eustace, were realized so persuasively that they served as an important source for subsequent artists who reused them for their own compositions.

Not all depictions of dogs in the Renaissance were lifelike or the result of firsthand observation, however, because many artists viewed animals as merely a vehicle for conveying a bewildering variety of complex and often contradictory symbols. Just as often as dogs were shown in Italian paintings as the companion of the young Tobias, protecting the youth as he wandered far and wide in search of the fish that would cure the blindness of his father, Tobit, they also carried the ancient burden of pariah, or scavenger, dogs, associated in the Old Testament with evil and unclean things, and in the New Testament with Christ’s persecutors. The dog was the faithful attribute of Saints Dominic, Margaret of Cortona, and Roch, as well as of the hunters Diana, Adonis and Cephalus, but it was also a symbol of sexuality and promiscuity. Yet church fathers, scholars, poets, and humanists were symbolized and accompanied by dogs. In Dürer’s engraving of Saint Jerome in His Study (1514; Bartsch 60), the saint works on his letters or translations, while his dog sleeps quietly nearby, a vivid symbol of the contemplative life.

As early as the second half of the 15th century, dogs began to take on an independent existence in art. Their status as objects of favor and prestige among the European ruling families and their owners’ desire for conspicuous display, particularly among the Italian ducal families in Mantua, Ferrara and Florence, resulted in a demand for portraits of individual dogs. In an undated account sent to Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, by Zanetto Bugato, one of the items to be paid for was “a portrait of the dog called Bareta.” Francesco Bonsignori is said to have painted for Francesco Gonzaga, 4th Marquis of Mantua, a dog whose likeness was so convincing that one of his own dogs was said to have attacked the painting.

Although dog portraiture per se did not become a widespread practice until the early 18th century, it is clear that Renaissance patrons did not consider their dogs as frivolous or inconsequential elements of their own portraits. Dogs, even today, are natural adjuncts of portraits, appearing as fashion accessories or indications of a sitter’s tastes and interests. Even in the early Renaissance they appear to have been painted from life—surely the little Griffon terrier in Jan van Eyck’s Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife (fig. 4) is a family pet and stares boldly at the beholder, irrespective of his role as a traditional attribute of marital fidelity.

A notable example of a vivid and lifelike dog appearing alongside its owner in Italian painting is the pair of elegant Greyhounds accompanying Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta Kneeling before Saint Sigismondo in Piero della Francesca’s fresco in the Tempio Malatestiano, Rimini. Although bred principally for hunting, Greyhounds were often kept as court pets in great luxury; this pair was a gift from Pier Francesco di Lorenzo de’ Medici. The white Greyhound, lying with outstretched paws, waiting patiently on its master, is especially well rendered. Although these noble dogs have been widely interpreted as symbolic of some virtue like fidelity, they are equally convincing examples of the high value placed upon hunting dogs in the Renaissance and were probably more greatly appreciated by contemporary observers for Piero’s detailed naturalism. Fifteenth-century letters survive in which Italian princes express interest in obtaining fine hunting dogs or giving them as presents. Such dogs often wore costly collars—the dog collars of the Ferrarese court were made by the court goldsmith—and the 1468 inventory of Sigismondo’s possessions shows that he owned a number of elaborate dog collars studded with silver.

The affection that Ludovico II Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, had for his dog, Rubino, is confirmed not only through his letters and, following the animal’s death, the erection of a tombstone complete with a sentimental Latin epitaph, but also by the inclusion of the creature itself—a russet-coated Bloodhound-like dog—beneath his chair in Andrea Mantegna’s celebrated fresco depicting Ludovico, his family, and court (1465–1474; Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua). The adjacent fresco, which depicts two huge Mastiffs and other hunting dogs, further attests to the passion for dogs at the Gonzaga court. Another notable representation of a dog in monumental wall painting in the Renaissance is the feathered Saluki with a studded collar in the foreground of Pinturicchio’s Departure of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini for Basel (c. 1503–1507; Cathedral Library, Siena). In this fresco, the animal appears almost as conspicuous as the figure of the future Pope Pius II.

In the 16th century, dogs adorned portraits in a variety of ways intended to reflect the character, strength, and nobility of their owners. Lucas Cranach’s imposing pair of full-length portraits of Henry the Pious, Duke of Saxony, and his wife, Catherine of Mecklenburg (1514; Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden), illustrates the distinctions often made between dogs in royal portraiture: lapdogs represented as exclusively female companions, large hounds depicted as attributes of male virility. The size and prominence of the dog in Antonio Mor’s Cardinal Granvelle’s Dwarf and Dog (c. 1550; Musée du Louvre, Paris)—depicted with such vividness that he can only have been a living dog—suggests that the portrait of the animal interested the patron as much as that of the ornately dressed court dwarf. Increasingly during the 16th-century, dogs appear in portraits not as symbols, or objects of status or ownership, but merely because their masters considered them beloved companions. The Bolognese painter Bartolomeo Passarotti, who included dogs frequently in his late works, summarized explicitly the era’s tender feelings toward dogs in Portrait of a Man with a Dog (c. 1585; Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome), remarkable for the obvious display of affection between the pair.

Italian painters of the 16th century produced a succession of memorable canines that suggests how familiar and admired dogs had become during this period. For Kenneth Clark, the wordless sorrow of Piero di Cosimo’s grieving dog in A Satyr Mourning over a Nymph (fig. 1), “the best-loved dog of the Renaissance,’’ marked the beginning of a long tradition in Western art of investing animals with human characteristics. Other notable depictions of dogs include the beautifully painted hounds in Parmigianino’s frescoes of Diana and Actaeon (c. 1523–1524; Camerino, Rocca Sanvitale, Fontanellato); Jacopo da Pontormo’s dog, drawn from life with its back arched, stretching itself in the lunette fresco depicting Vertumnus and Pomona (1520–1521; Gran Salone, Villa Medici, Poggio a Caiano); Dosso Dossi’s white dog in the foreground of Circe and Her Lovers in a Landscape (c. 1511–1512; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.); and Federico Barocci’s brown-and-white puppy appealing to the spectator at the extreme lower right of the Madonna del Popolo (1575–1579; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence).

It is in the work of the Venetian painters Carpaccio, Titian, Bassano, and Veronese, however, that canine imagery flourished in a sustained fashion. One of the first Renaissance painters to employ scenes of everyday life in his work, Vittore Carpaccio gave particular prominence to dogs in two vastly different contexts: as a symbol of carnality or animal appetite at the feet of a seated courtesan (c. 1495; Museo Correr, Venice), and as a symbol of the attributes of a scholar in the form of a fluffy white Bichon in Saint Augustine’s study (c. 1502; Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, Venice).

With his preference for naturalistic form, Titian played an especially significant role in the promotion of the dog in the visual arts. In the portrait Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, the gesture of the white Maltese-type dog pawing his master is especially appropriate, as the duke’s love for his dogs was well known; in the spring of 1525 he owned no fewer than 111 dogs. The keenly observed dogs in Titian’s portraits appear as solid and real, as convincing and touching, as the human sitters—for example, Charles V Standing with His Dog (1533; Museo del Prado, Madrid); Eleonora Gonzaga della Rovere, Duchess of Urbino (c. 1537, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence); Captain with a Cupid and a Dog (c. 1550–1552, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie, Kassel); and Clarice Strozzi (1562; Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin), in which the lifelike depiction of the small red-and-white Spaniel was singled out by Pietro Aretino in a letter to the artist.

The toy dogs employed in Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence) and in his paintings devoted to the theme of Venus with an organist or lute player (c. 1548–1549; Gemäldegalerie, Berlin), as well as in his second version of Danaë (1553–1554; Museo del Prado, Madrid), have been interpreted as symbols of female seductiveness. His hunting scenes with Venus and Adonis (1553–1554; Museo del Prado, Madrid) naturally feature realistic portrayals of dogs, and they appear conspicuously in the foreground of the late Flaying of Marsyas (c. 1575; Archiepiscopal Palace, Kremsier). If Titian ever produced a painting with a dog as its principal subject, it has not survived; the near-exception is the engimatic Boy with Dogs, which has been recently interpreted as an allegory of the complementary operations of nature and art: The contrast between the nursing mother’s relationship to her pups and the boy’s to his adult dog expresses the idea that nature brings forth, while art (or culture) trains and nurtures.

Jacopo Bassano seems to have been naturally drawn to animals as his subjects, and he depicted a variety of dogs of different breeds in his historical, religious, and genre subjects over a period of 40 years, beginning with the Adoration of the Magi (c. 1539; Burghley, Stamford, Lincolnshire), which includes a small Spaniel at the Virgin’s feet. He lent a naturalistic note to his compositions with motifs such as the dogs that sniff at the sores on Lazarus’s legs in the foreground of Lazarus and the Rich Man (c. 1554; Cleveland Museum of Art) and lick the blood of the wounded man in The Good Samaritan (fig. 3). Around the middle of the 16th century, Bassano produced a painting of two hunting dogs that survives to mark the beginning of a tradition of commissioned “portraits,” or at least likenesses, of actual dogs that reflects a new interest in and psychological understanding of animals. This unusual work was commissioned in 1548 by Antonio Zentani, a patrician Venetian art collector who apparently wanted a painting of only these two dogs, suggesting to some that these animals were prized hunters from his own kennel and that their depiction was not expected to convey any symbolic or hidden meaning.

Noting Bassano’s dedication to capturing the natural look of dogs, the art historian Roger Rearick emphasized his extraordinary excerption of “two perfectly straightforward canines from their familiar context” and the dedication of a painting to them and them alone. More recently, however, it has been suggested, on the basis of the patron’s spiritual inclinations, that the dogs tethered to a stump, in fact, convey “a severe, almost cheerless message” and represent a complex allegory of the combat between earthly and spiritual life. Irrespective of the symbolic connotations or moralizing intentions of Bassano’s composition, the animals are beautifully realized and remarkable for their truthful representation. The pose of the dog on the left appears to have caught the attention of Tintoretto, who inserted it nearly exactly into his painting Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet for the church of San Marcuola, Venice (c. 1548–49; Museo del Prado, Madrid). By the beginning of the 17th century, Two Hunting Dogs was thought to be a work by Veronese and thereafter it passed as a painting by Titian through a number of celebrated collections, including those of Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga, William Beckford, and the Duke of Bedford; it was not until the middle of the 20th century that its proper authorship was restored. The naturalistic tenor of Bassano’s art was given further expression in a similar painting of two dogs by themselves that he made shortly thereafter, Two Hunting Dogs (c. 1555; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence), and, two decades later, in A Greyhound (c. 1571; private collection, Turin).

Paolo Veronese, who has been called the “greatest dog-lover in Italian art,” included dozens of dogs, from Greyhounds to Spaniels, in his religious scenes, mythological and allegorical works, and portraits. Dogs abound in particular in his large paintings of biblical feasts executed for the refectories of monasteries in Venice and Verona. The Feast in the House of Simon the Pharisee (c. 1560; Galleria Sabauda, Turin), painted for the refectory of Saints Nazaro and Celso in Verona, Veronese’s earliest extant supper scene, contains two dogs under the table that have elicited the admiration of observers from Giorgio Vasari (“so beautiful that they appear real and alive”) to John Ruskin (“The essence of dog is there, the entire, magnificent, generic animal type, muscular and living”). In two versions of the Supper at Emmaus (c. 1560; Musée du Louvre, Paris, and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden), he seems to have taken special pleasure in showing children and dogs playing together. And in the vast Marriage at Cana for the refectory of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, the most ambitious of Veronese’s banquet scenes, a pair of magnificent white hounds immediately draws the spectator’s attention to the center of the composition.

In the interior of the Villa Barbaro at Maser, where Veronese executed a rich and iconographically complex decorative fresco program about 1561, one of the rooms is traditionally called the Stanza del Cane, after a beautifully rendered little dog occupying a ledge high above the visitor. Veronese’s dogs are painted with such loving attention that they must reflect his own feeling toward animals—a feeling that perhaps is mirrored in the motif of Diana nuzzling one of her Greyhounds in the clouds of the Sala di Olimpo. The abundance and variety of dogs in Veronese’s art make it difficult to attribute specific symbolism to them—they are too numerous and appear in too many diverse settings. Veronese is said to have produced formal “portraits” of individual dogs, including his own, but his only extant painting in which dogs vie with the human figure for prominence is Cupid with Two Dogs (c. 1580–83; Alte Pinakothek, Munich). This painting shows a winged Cupid wearing a golden quiver and holding two black-and-white hunting dogs on a chain, a composition that has been interpreted variously as an allegory of the contrariness of love, faithfulness in love, and the restraint of the animal appetite for love.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hurry-Up Chocolate Cake

My dad loves the Hurry-Up Chocolate Cake. He makes it in 2 nine-inch rounds and it creates the perfect layer cake. The frosting is AMAZING!!

The rumor is that it's an old Mennonite recipe, but it was shared with us by our dear friend Marian from the Mile High City and, let me tell you, she's no Mennonite. It is simply the best chocolate cake you will ever put in your mouth. At least that's what I hear. You know dogs can't eat chocolate!

Did I tell you that lately I have a thing for raw carrots. Chomping on a raw carrot is kinda like chewing on sticks. ONLY BETTER!!

Friday, April 8, 2011


Not too long ago we had the "opportunity" to visit Cleveland. And before you ask, YES it was for a dog show and NO the river was not on fire.

The best thing about our visit was the Ritz Carlton in downtown Cleveland. It was like an oasis in a big dirty desert. I must admit our after dusk and before dawn walks were a wee bit scary. But once we breezed through the doors of the Ritz it was like we were back in Oz again.

The staff treated us like doggy royalty. The gave us bags and bags of treats and a Ritz Carlton Cleveland water bowl (you wouldn't believe what that went for on ebay. KIDDING. It is on the floor in our kitchen and we love it. The blue matches our Limoges).

They even gave us a dog biscuit cookie cutter with the best recipe attached. We didn't have a stove in our suite (can you imagine!) so we had to wait until we returned home to bake up a batch. And, let me tell you, we love them.

We got a lot attention as dad, Rufus and I entered and sat down in the lobby bar. And even more attention as we were escorted out. sat down in a chair smack in the middle of the reception area (where they do allow dogs) and ordered a Whiskey Sour his way. Well, he sent it back because he likes LOTS of fresh lemon juice. Here's how it returned. We weren't certain whether they were going for another Malcom Baldridge Award or if they were just being bitchy.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lady GaGa for Dogs?

When I came across an ad for the OutFox Field Guard, I knew I no longer had to worry about what to wear to the Grammy's next year. I would out GaGa Lady GaGa.

And then I visited the OutFox website. Here's what I learned.

A foxtail is a spikelet or spikelet cluster of a grass, that serves to disperse its seeds as a unit. The spikelets or spikelet clusters of foxtails are adapted for animal dispersal and so can become a health hazard for dogs and other domestic animals. Grasses with this feature can be found all around the country, but are most common in the Western United States with the greatest foxtail problem occurring in California.

The OutFox™ Field Guard helps prevent barbed grasses from penetrating your dog's eyes, ears, and nose.

They even have an OutFox video.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Funeral For a Dog

We are running out to get this book.

A Love Triangle From Brazil to Brooklyn

Thomas Pletzinger’s first novel, “Funeral for a Dog,” is about sex, love, Brazil, a form of ménage- à-trois, children’s books, Finland, dogs, Ping-Pong, New York — in short, the good things. But more than anything else, it is about what happens when a thing is lost: a Brazilian police dog loses a leg, a German- Finnish love triangle loses a member, a boy loses his friend, a woman loses her baby, an ethnologist loses his calling, a journalist loses his way.

It is relatively rare for contemporary German fiction to be translated into English, and unreservedly rare for a first novel by a young and largely unknown German writer to be published with such fanfare. “Funeral for a Dog” is full of strangeness, but it is not satirical strangeness or magical strangeness. It is, instead, realistic, and its main theme is the strangeness of loss. Given that the book centers on loss experienced as figurative and literal exile, it is bound to call to mind for readers of German fiction the haunting works of W. G. Sebald. What’s more, as in Sebald’s books, “Funeral for a Dog” is interspersed with illustrations that depict not central scenes but enigmatic details like a children’s drawing on a receipt. In contrast to Sebald’s writing, however, there is a great deal of beer-drinking and a great deal of blood. This extreme element (there is also a fair bit of vomiting) led some European readers to group it with a work at the opposite end of the German literary spectrum, one published the same year as “Funeral for a Dog” (2008): Charlotte Roche’s “Wetlands,” a phenomenally explicit (and phenomenally popular) book about sex, sexual fluids, sexual hygiene and the lack thereof. Though a ménage-à-trois is at the heart of Pletzinger’s novel, and though one narrator repeatedly mentions the dried menstrual blood he is unable to wash off, this is not done for shock value and does not feel gratuitous. In other words, the book has known such success not because it is in any clear literary lineage, nor because it discusses extreme states and epochal events, but simply because it is brilliantly constructed and finely written.

The novel’s greatest success is its intricacy of plot — an intricacy that is revealed only gradually. After a thoroughly confusing first few pages, the narrative settles into a story that is easy to follow and that slowly and artfully arrives at the point where those first confusing words make rich and moving sense. A journalist in a troubled marriage is sent to interview a reclusive children’s author, and learns secrets about the man’s romantic life that help him understand his own. The plot is complicated, but the things at its center are clear: a wildly successful children’s book called “The Story of Leo and the Notmuch” and a three-legged dog who will, as we can guess from Pletzinger’s title, die. In the interim the dog is several things. It is both a mascot and a symbol of the love triangle that occupies half the novel. It accompanies the three lovers from their first night onward; it is an ideal observer, present at all points of the story — at a magnificently described cockfight in Brazil, in New York on Sept. 11, in Finland for a momentous New Year and many other places besides. The dog also presents a paradigm for loss. It has lost something crucial, and yet continues (“Dogs get used to any loss”). Dogs do what the writer of the children’s book cannot — they “live in the moment.” The children’s author, on the other hand, lives in the past: he “collects fragments and assembles them into a world he can bear.” (Here and throughout, Ross Benjamin’s translation is stunningly fine, capturing as it does the wry wit, gentle despair and merry confusion of the original.)

The dog is indeed very much mascot, symbol and paradigm, but it is not much of a dog. It is kept supplied with beer and food, but the looks and leanings of a dog lovingly observed are nowhere to be found. It may seem petty to claim that the characterization of a dog is two- dimensional, but, well, it is.

The children’s book that sets the plot in motion, and brings it full circle, is unique within the novel in that it addresses loss directly. It is also the solution to a riddle: What happened to these people? One member of the love triangle, a Finn — touchingly described as “not beautiful in the strict sense, but nonetheless the most beautiful” — has arrived with a child of uncertain parentage. Another member of the triangle has died tragically. The path toward resolution is found in another book. Two narrators tell the tale. One is the journalist (who, in his heart, is an ethnologist). The other is the children’s author (who, in his heart, is in great pain). There is a mild doppelgänger effect between them — both are uncertain and inward, both bury their phones, both are confused by the women they love, both play Ping-Pong well. And there is another doppelgänger effect between the published children’s book and an unpublished novel — or memoir? — that the journalist discovers locked away in the guest bedroom he occupies. The journalist violates his host’s privacy, which may have been his host’s wish all along, and reads the mirror book to “The Story of Leo and the Notmuch.” Called “Astroland,” it charts the love triangle from Recife to Brooklyn, Helsinki to Lugano. It is incomplete. And it takes the journalist some time to realize that although he thinks there is no ending, he has in fact had the ending all along. It has been hiding in plain sight, between the lines of the children’s book.

As befits a book about loss, “Funeral for a Dog” does not end with the losing. There is a searing stage that is confusion, fury, despair, renunciation, flight — but it is not the final one. The novel’s lesson for child and man, man and beast, is that loving often entails losing, and that is horrible, sickening and frightening. But it is not the end. For just when you think there is nothing left to lose, you find something, someone, somehow — and it makes all the difference.