Monday, March 23, 2009

A Good Read

I just finished a fantastic little book - I laughed, I cried, I recommend it! It is entitled Walking Ollie - or, Winning the Love of a Difficult Dog. It is written by a UK novelist, Stephen Foster, who was a novice dog-owner a couple years ago and who has now been "broken in" by Ollie, a lurcher with a shady past. I wouldn't say it is written for the dog-snob, but for anyone who has experience with rescue dogs and their neuroses, you will enjoy this book.

I read the preface just after spending some time at the Off-Leash Area at Marymoor park. This paragraph reminded me of some of the dogs we saw there. He is describing Ollie and a young whippet playing in a field: "Let loose, the pair of them perform loops around an imaginary greyhound track, using each other as the hare; finally they pause to catch breath, and while they rest they chew each other's ears and play-fight until they appear to be beat; and then they do it all again, over and over, until they have run themselves into the ground and can barely stand. I find all this a thing of beauty, an aesthetic delight, a visceral therapy. I can watch it for a long time." (p5)

Later in the book he discusses the delicate matter of poo:
"As time went on, I became obsessed with the quality of his turds, and in this I am not alone. Watch dog-walkers: the animal stoops, craps, clears the area. Depending on where, when and type of owner, this may be followed by the picking-up. But say we're in a thicket (all owners leave it behind in a thicket) -- observe the pause and the slight lean forward as an inspection is made for consistency, shape, color, quality, and quantity. Excrement, for the dog owner, is as the tea leaf to the clairvoyant -- a sacred window onto health, fortune, and well-being." (p 106)
(reporting a conversation with his friend Peter Kadic - an experienced dog-owner:) "As we were talking dog crap on one occasion, Kadic came up with the perfect definition for the ideal in stools, 'Foster,' he said, 'you want to be able to trip over 'em, not slide in 'em.'" (p 107)

[I apologize for the coarseness of the language.]

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dog Poetry - the Meaning of Life

I love listening to the Writer's Almanac on Public Radio each day. The other day Garrison Keillor read a poem that made me giggle as I was trying to drive. I'm posting it here - hopefully no one will mind:

The Meaning of Life
by Nancy Fitzgerald

There is a moment just before
a dog vomits when its stomach
heaves dry, pumping what's deep
inside the belly to the mouth.
If you are fast you can grab
her by the collar and shove her
out the door, avoid the slimy bile,
hunks of half chewed food
from landing on the floor.
You must be quick, decisive,
controlled, and if you miss
the cue and the dog erupts
en route, you must forgive
her quickly and give yourself
to scrubbing up the mess.

Most of what I have learned
in life leads back to this.

"The Meaning of Life" by Nancy Fitzgerald from Poems I Never Wrote. © Poetry Harbor, 2001.

If you'd like to listen to Mr. Keillor read it in his perfect style, the link is here.

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