Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Woof Woof Woof! Woof Woof Woof!

Woof Woof Arf Arf Woof!

Everyone recognizes that as the dogs singing "Jingle Bells," right?

Christmas is a frustrating experience for Sandy. First of all, there's a tree in the house, but it's not for dogs.

Sandy Dog

Then, there are all kinds of sparkly round things on the tree, but those are NOT FOR DOGS either.

Worse yet, the tree is in the front window, blocking Sandy's view of approaching FedEx and UPS delivery people and of the Devil Dog two doors down. Finally, there will soon be packages under the tree, and those are not for dogs. How can this be happening?

You might get a live look at Sandy here. But probably not. Probably she'll be under the radar, or at least under the dining room table. At least until the UPS driver tries to make it to the front door unnoticed.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bulldogs On The Waterfront

For almost a year, dogs and their people have been permitted, on a trial basis, to walk on-leash on the paths through the waterfront parks.


Last weekend Sandy and I walked with our friend Rose and two of her bulldogs. When Sandy first met Coal and Louise, I don't think she was even sure they were dogs. She sniffed, she jumped back, she sniffed again. If dogs can shrug, I think that's what she did.

So off we went through the waterfront parks, Sandy pretty much in the lead.

Rose and the bulldogs were like a walking advertisement for dogs in waterfront parks. People saw the pack of us coming and literally rushed by Sandy and me to gush over Coal and Louise. "Oh! My favorite dogs!" people shouted. It must be like this when you're with a rock star.

Coal and Louise loved this. They snuffled people's outstretched hands. One dog rolled over for a belly rub while the other dragged himself over the sidewalk in circles, apparently ecstatic.

Sandy looked at me in shock more than once. "What's with these dogs?" she wanted to know. For the first time in a long time, it wasn't all about Sandy. We stood off to the side, waiting while people pushed and shoved, trying to get close to the strange-looking slobber machines.

The next day, City Council finally voted to permit dogs and their owners access to the paths in waterfront parks permanently. Dogs have to stay on the paths. They can't step on the grass or into the water. They must be on-leash. Still, after 7 years of fighting over it, this represents progress.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sandy

Sandy turned seven earlier this month. She's been with us about six and a half years. She came from the SPCA, where no one knew anything about her.

If Sandy really cares what people think, she's not giving it away. It took almost two years before she wagged her tail. It took almost five years before she would play "fetch." (In contrast, it took only minutes for her to learn to play "guard," or "It's MY Frisbee now!") She reminds me of me when I was a teenager.

Lately, Sandy enjoys playing. She has a rope toy, and likes having a good game of tug. I read somewhere that some dogs have to be taught how to play tug. I told that to Sandy and she thought that was the stupidest thing she ever heard. Sandy also likes playing ball in the house, but most of the time we have to do that when Eric is out.

Sandy's other current favorite toy is what PetCetera calls a "solid-core tennis stick." Here is a picture of Sandy with hers.

Sandy with the dildog

What would you call it?

We call it "the dildog."

Happy Birthday, Sandy. I love you. Thanks for being my dog.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Heather Mallick wrote a column for, the online version of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, called Dogville. In it she rails against dogs and dog owners apparently because Tennyson, her friend’s child with autism, does not receive adequate medical treatment or the funding to pay for it.

How is that dog people’s fault? According to Ms Mallick,

. . . There is no float for autistic kids in the local parades, although there are floats for everything else. This Easter there was a float called Pug Rescue and it was populated by grownups and their precious pug dogs dressed up in expensive clothes. These dogs eat treats from the local bakery for doggie num-nums and play with toys from special doggie stores.
Tennyson's family, like other families who have to cope with autism, has come close to bankruptcy paying for the special therapy that is standard for autistic kids. "Get a human cause!" her father shouted out as the float went by. He was not popular with the crowd on the sidewalk.

My neighbourhood is mad for dogs, but for children, not so much. The signs along the boardwalk right by Lake Ontario say dogs must be leashed, intended for the safety of children and adults. Every sign has been spray-painted over. This was done by prosperous, white, middle-aged adults who have "furkids." That means dogs that are fed, dressed, housed and spoken to like children.

Well, Ms Mallick, I'm sorry your friend's child has autism. I'm sorry society doesn't feel more compassion for the child and her parents. I wish things had worked out differently for all of you.

I don't live in Toronto. I've never lived in Toronto. I guess things are different there. Here in Kelowna, BC, people with dogs don't refer to them as "fur kids," we refer to them as "dogs." We have to fight with City Hall for the privilege of walking our dogs on-leash through City Park along the waterfront, and can only stay on the paths. G-d forbid anyone should throw a Frisbee or have any fun. People with dogs pay taxes here --- same as people with children.

Sandy is a dog, not a fur kid.

I believe we are licensing the wrong species.

Children. Well, I don't have any. I've never wanted any. I don't like them. However, I don't think that gives me the right to complain about people with children --- about how they spoil them and feed them designer potato chips and buy them video games and $150.00 jeans made in foreign countries. I don't think it gives me the right to try to have children excluded from our public parks, or even to compel them to walk in a well-behaved manner only on the paths, no matter how loud, messy, lazy, foul-mouthed, or self-centred the little rascals are.

Does it give me the right to shout at them from the sidewalk when they pass by on floats?

Here in Kelowna, many children seem to have their legs painted on. They don't walk to school or anywhere else. They don't, at least most don't, ride bikes to school. No. They are driven to school in minivans by their mothers who are dressed in housecoats. The mums won't get out of the van in their housecoats, so they just pull up somewhere in the vicinity of the front of the school, disgorge the kids into traffic, and head back home. That's how much walking these kids do. From the van to the door. From the door to the van. From the van to the house. And all this in a reasonably temperate climate. At least the climate in the car is temperate.

We now have kids in their teens and 20's who have always just waited to be picked up by their mother, or by someone else's mother, and taken to the next organized activity --- to school, or church, or soccer, or hockey. --- or taken home. They don't know how to think for themselves. They don't know how to take a bus. They don't know how to cross a street. It's a miracle they can make it through the mall without getting lost, but somehow they manage. Maybe they drop breadcrumbs behind them as they leave the food court so they can find their way back to mum's van later on.

But they are, after all, "our kids," right? The world owes them a living. That's why, in the library, when four-year-olds literally scream, no one says, "Would you please control your child?" to the mother. (See? I guess we're different than Toronto in that way, too.) That's why they can run up and down the aisles in supermarkets unabated. Because, after all, they are "our kids." Why wouldn't I want to be around them?

Oh, you think not all kids here can be like that? You think that those are just a few kids whose behaviour makes them stand out more than the good, responsible kids? Maybe you're right. And maybe the pug owners who dress their dogs in expensive clothing and parade them on floats are just a segment of the dog owners, too. You think?

I think it's borderline criminal that in a country where the population overwhelmingly identifies health care as the main concern and where there is an enormous budget surplus, I can get an MRI for my dog sooner than I can get an MRI myself. I think it's too bad that your friend has to pay for treatment for her child with autism. Why don't you try lashing out at the people who collect and dispense that money, the ones elected by you, the ones answerable to you and your friend?

Next Canada Day try shouting out at them from the sidewalk as they pass by on floats.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ranting And Panting

Check out the podcast
The Poddog Show podcast is worth a listen. Daryl N Cognito hosts the podcast from Calgary, with his faithful canine companion, Kuma, co-hosting. Daryl talks about life and politics in Calgary, Alberta. Kuma recently interviewed "The Queen of Disobedience" at a local bark park.

You don't need an iPod to listen to a podcast. If you have one, or if you have another kind of mp3 player, you can transfer the podcast to your player and listen there. But you don't have to. You can listen right at your computer.

I like this podcast because of the Canadian content. Sandy likes it because of the Canine content. Check it out.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Walking The Dog

While the Okanagan Dog Owners website is in transition, there doesn't seem to be a list of the places you can take your dog. I found this CommunityWalk website, and set up a map for places in Kelowna where dogs are allowed. (I say "allowed" because "welcome" would be overstating it.)

Here's the map.

Community Walk Map - Kelowna Dogs

Click on something to be taken to the site, and please add your comments, or better still, share your favourite walks.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

It's Only Rock and Rollover

Sandy and I don't have the same taste in music. Sometimes when I am at the computer I'll have the radio on. If it's a talk show, there's rarely a problem. Especially if the CBC is on, Sandy just falls asleep next to my desk.

But if I want to listen to any of my mp3's while I work, that's a different story. She hates everything, from the's to ZZ Top, including all the Beethoven sonatas and a Hayden cello concerto by Yo-Yo Ma. Play anything, and Sandy heaves a huge sigh, gets up and goes to the other end of the house where she heaves another huge sigh and flops down.

Boss of MeI've been wondering just what Sandy's taste in music is. "What are the really hot dog bands now?" I asked her the other day.

"They Might Be Giant Schnauzers," she replied without hesitation. "I like that one where they sing, "you're not the boss of me now, you're not the boss of me now, you're not the boss of me now and you're not so big."

Ok, so that didn't actually happen that way.

But we were in the car this morning on the way home from our walk, and I had the radio on. For some reason, the unceasingly pompous host of "The Sunday Edition" on CBC Radio One played "Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard.

Sandy loved it! She barked, she turned around in circles in the back of the van, she sat down and vocalized along with the part where Little Richard kind of screams! She gave me a look as if to say, "Why don't you ever play this at home?"Tutti Frutti

Well, because I didn't have it. My collection went straight from Little Feat ("Willin'") to Lou Reed ("Sweet Jane").

But I've got it now, and I've got Sandy't new favorite "Long TAIL Sally" now, too. Sandy is a happy dog! Gonna have some fun tonight!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Laughing Dog

The Laughing Dog CD is here, finally, after a bit of a delay in Customs (because how could they charge a "handling fee" if they did not, in fact, handle it for a while?)Laughing Dog

Before Christmas, there was a story about the Laughing Dog, here. The story begins,

SPOKANE, Wash. - An animal researcher in Spokane, Washington is gaining world-wide attention for what may be a breakthrough in understanding canine communication.

Scientists and animal behaviorists say they are stunned by an audio recording that convincingly shows that dogs make a specific kind of sound, a type of laughter, when they are happily playing together.

What's more, when that sound is played over speakers in a kennel full of barking dogs, the dogs go silent within a minute and then seem completely at peace.

The ground-breaking research was headed by Patricia Simonet, an animal behaviorist...
Then, I saw a feature about it from Jeannie Moos on CNN. She went out to a dogrun in New York City and asked dog owners if they believed their dogs laughed. There were some great comments, like, "my dog laughs at me all the time." But the funniest part was when Jeannie tried to get some guy's dog to laugh by telling a joke. Here is the joke she told:
Two dogs are walking down the street, and they see a parking meter. So one dog says to the other dog, "Hey, look! Pay toilets!"
The dog didn’t look like he thought that was very funny.

The CD is 45 minutes of a laughing dog, and a little bit of information on the label about laughing dogs. I put it on, called Sandy into the room, and waited to see what would happen. Sandy spent the first few minutes looking for the dog, and the next few minutes with her ears in an alert state, so I guess she was wondering what was so darned funny.

Then, she just lay down in a sunny corner of the room. Quietly. She's not sleeping, just lying there quietly. So I'd have to say it passes the first test, because that's not something we usually see her do.

The next test will be to see if this will calm her down when she's agitated. I'm sure it won't be very long before we have a meter reader or a cat in the area. If this works, I'm getting Sandy an mp3 player and some headphones for the walk on Sunday. Hey, if this works, I want a nice, calming recording of something for ME!

More about the Laughing Dog, Patricia R. Simonet, here.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

At Last!

Finally. Kelowna City Council passed a bylaw that allows dogs on leash along the waterfront in Kelowna.

Signs, signs, everywhere a signAlthough dogs are not permitted to step off the paved paths, onto the grass, sand, or --- god forbid --- into the lake, people can now take their dogs with them along the waterfront.

Did I mention that this is for a trial period? Yes. A six-month trial period. In winter.

As luck would have it, the last couple of weeks have brought us some relatively mild days so Sandy and I have taken a couple of walks through SandyCity Park, along the boardwalk, and down to the new condos. There have been plenty of interesting smells, apparently. She just doesn’t get why she can’t chase the geese off the beach.

Neither do I.