I like big dogs. I cannot lie.

Actually, big dogs isn’t quite accurate. I like huge dogs, as well as medium, large, small, and smedium dogs. Case in point: Our basset hound (Jack Reacher) is actually a big dog– he weighs seventy pounds. But he has a low clearance, so we think of him as small, or small-ish.

There’s a particular method to having a giant dog live in your house. You begin by assuming that any and all couches are going to be destroyed. Let’s consider our Great Dane Bernadette, who loved with us for six glorious years and three couches. Great Danes are as big or bigger than a human, but with claws. Ergo, your couches are toast. Your bed is toast. Your chairs are toast. Bernie weighed just over two hundred pounds (not a bit of fat) and enjoyed, shall we say, a life of luxury.

By luxury, I mean naps.

But “big” is a relative term when compared to Bernie. Take our Great Pyrenees, Mabel, who is one hundred pounds. That’s a big dog, and yet she’s half the size of Bernie. Mabel, too, has the ability to kill couches. She also does so with a massive floof bomb of white fur that makes pollen season look like a charming joke. There are few animals on the planet who can produce more floof than a Great Pyrenees. It’s science.

But, Terry, you’re thinking– what if you lose your mind and purchase a light colored couch? Won’t that eradicate the issue of white fur?

Allow me to introduce you to Michael Dean Carr Maggert. Big Mike is a Newfoundland, also known as a Nuclear Chocolate Floofinator, capable of producing five bales of brown floof in two days. Once again, please don’t argue. It’s science.

You may be wondering, “But Terry, what about the drool?”

I’m glad you asked. Oddly, all of our big dogs have produced some drool, but not the gulley washer of saliva one might expect from a beast their size. Still, I am always living with the assumption that every article of clothing I have on will show the following signs:

  1. Hair. Short, long, light dark. Hair. Hair like every day is the early 1970s and you’re hairing it up at a production of Hair with someone named Hairy McHairison.
  2. “Geeze”, or the shiny, dried streaks from dog drool that are almost always on the front of your best item of clothing.
  3. Random tears/rips. “Hey dad, pay attention to me.”  RIP.
  4. Hair

The lint catcher in our dryer could supply an Irish fishing village with enough hair to keep them in sweaters for a century.

Also, one should prepare for giant dog tails breaking things– sort of like four legged Godzillas who are REALLY happy to see you every time you leave the room and come back. But without the nuclear firebreath.

So. Let’s see those big dog pics– whatcha got? Danes? Pyrs? Newfies? Wolfies? We love them all.

Cheers,

Terry

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The Power of Pie

Today is National Pie Day, or Pi Day if you insist on the use of math. As a history professor, I naturally avoid any numbers that are more complex than, say, single digits.

It’s for our own good. Trust me.

However, 3.14 is a number even I can remember, and thus, we celebrate the majesty of pie, a food group that is so lush and varied it deserves its own channel in our collective cultural awareness.

I’ve written (at length) about being the grandson of bakers, who founded Ted N Peg’s Pie Stand in Rome, New York. For me, pie is breakfast. It is a snack for the grim hours between one and three in the morning, as I stand impatiently waiting for my dogs to re-inspect every square inch of the very yard they left two hours earlier, because in that time there could be mummies or zombies or, heaven forfend. . . .a possum.

We can’t have that.

Regardless, it’s a chance for me to stand at the sink, glaring into the stygian blackness of our backyard while eating pie and waiting for the herd to come home, so to speak. In those moments, I will once again marvel at the wonder of pie, and how my simmering anger dissipates with each bite as one by one, the dogs come in and lay down to begin their gusty snoring, dreaming the things only dogs can know in their sleep.

Yesterday, I was reheating pizza for my son, who is currently eating as if he as just released from a prison camp. Before I nuked his two slices of (cheese) pizza, I took a bite– an editorial sample, if you will– it was a piece that was only bread and sauce, free of cheese and oddly naked.

In that moment, I was transported thirty-five years into the past, when family friends took my family to a market in Rome, New York. There, they bought me a slice of tomato pie– a heretical twist on pizza that had little cheese, was fluffy, and served cool. The first sharp tang of summery tomato and  oregano was like the essence of pizza, stripped down for my consideration. It was. . .new. Amazing. A symbol of a new life, in a distant state. It was different, but familiar and good.

 

And yesterday, there I stood in my own kitchen, thinking of old friends and sweeping changes for a skinny thirteen year old who didn’t understand why he had to leave his grandparents a thousand miles away, in the sunshine of his life. His home. I still don’t understand.

Pie is food and food is memory. If I ever forget that again, I know it only takes one bite to be reminded.

WE LOVE TO BARK.

We have five dogs of various breeds. All love to bark. Barking is their favorite thing, other than sleeping, but barking has to take place in strategically placed time zones in order to maximize its effectiveness.

To wit: Barking before 7:00AM? Enthusiastic. Unending. Varying tones, pitches, and reasons. Early morning barking is, in some ways, a medical miracle. Consider the following– our basset hound, Jack Reacher, can go from a snoring, drooling sleep to fully awake and on the verge of insanity, but only if conditions are just so.

These conditions may include, but are not limited to:

Cars driving by.

Trucks driving by.

People walking by, with or without their own dog.

Clouds.

Squirrels.

A change in barometric pressure.

Ghosts.

Among the five dogs in our herd, Jack is consistently the loudest, but not at all times. That honor goes to Michael Dean, also known as Big Mike. He’s a Newfoundland, and his array of barks are topped by what we ominously call his Big Boy Voice, which is reserved for such existential threats as the UPS driver and/or roaming frozen meat salespeople. Generally, one of his window-rattling booms is enough to convince the people selling small, convenient pre-packaged meat that we’re good for this year, and maybe check back never.

Meet Big Mike: 

I write this because it’s Sunday, the traditional day of rest, and yet I’ve been up with the dogs for some time. You see, dog are true biological wonders; they can average fifteen hours of sleep per day, but very little of their rest is actually when we sleep. Rather, dogs prefer to lay on me while I try to write during the day, then rouse their chorus of howls at any time from 11:00Pm to whenever the sky begins to turn that subtle gray that lets them know their human has quite enough rest, thank you very much, and isn’t it time we started letting the neighborhood know that the squirrels are not only still alive, but threatening the very fabric of all that is American.

It’s their job, right?

 

New Family Member: Big Mike

We adopt, rescue, call it what you will. In any case, we have a herd of critters at any given time. I have experience with giant breeds, and find them to be sweet, goofy, and loving.

So, there was a need and we had room at the inn. 

Meet Michael Dean Carr-Maggert. He is a puppy. He is huge. He’s getting hugerer with each passing day.




He also has little regard for doggie gates. In fact, they aren’t doing much good at all.




Not to be outdone, our two additions prior to Big Mike, Dixie and Truman, are here to let you know that all is well. Should you need to speak to them, don’t. They’re napping.




Truman is ten, Dixie is six. They’re both gems. They do not, however, possess the destructive power of Big Mike. 

So that’s the update for All Things Dog as we come to a close in 2015.  More to follow– I still want a giraffe, and wouldn’t say no to a wildebeest, either.

Cheers,
Terry