Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Poor Polly

Last night I watched the season premiere of AMC's Mad Men (thank God for DVR's)--and while there was much in that episode to sadden any viewer, dog lovers like me were most likely to focus on what's happened to the Drapers' Golden Retriever, Polly, since Betty divorced Don and married Henry Francis.

Apparently Henry doesn't like dogs, and Polly--who'd been very much a part of the family and had actually prompted Betty to shoot some pigeons in Season 1--has been banished to the basement. No protest from Betty, of course, but when Don brings the kids back from their weekend with their dad, he lets Polly out of solitary. The dog is lying at Don's feet when Betty and Henry arrive home. After Don leaves, Polly is returned to the basement once more, at Henry's insistence.

Seeing Polly exiled broke my heart, and not just because my Allie is a Golden Retriever, too. Forcing a social animal like a dog to endure prolonged solitary confinement is, quite simply, cruel. And yet, such practices were probably pretty common in the 1960's. I remember several families who kept their dogs in their garages. Other dogs were let out to roam the neighborhood all day, and when they didn't come back, the parents simply shrugged. One dog I remember especially well was driven to a field one day by the dad in his house, and dumped in a field--the guy actually congratulated himself because he was "setting Skipper free."

These days, many people consider dogs to be members of their families--and the growth of the pet industry reflects that status. That said, pockets of old-school laissez-faire attitudes about our best friends still persist. Still, I'd like to think that the dogs of today are more likely to be understood as the social animals they are than was the case a half-century ago.

(And yes, I know Polly's not the only dog who hasn't fared well on Mad Men. )

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Four-legged meds, no side effects

Most of us who have the privilege of living with a companion animal know that doing so is just that: a privilege. But in this past weekend's edition of USA Weekend, my good friend and colleague Steve Dale has a terrific article on exactly why having a pet is good for the person who cares for that pet.

I am not going to muck this up by adding my two cents. The article says it all. Read and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who knew?

Apparently I write like Cory Doctorow -- at least according to this website. That said, I would never name a child Poesy, much less add Nautilus as a middle name.

Many thanks to The Poodle (and Dog) Blog for sharing this.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Coming to a bookstore near you on August 30 (or around that date, anyway)!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And baby makes four

I've become a great fan of Bethenny Getting Married, the Bravo TV show that chronicles the life and times of Bravo-lebrity/chef/author/entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel. The woman is flat-out funny, not to mention fearless. I mean, how many women would allow TV cameras to capture her peeing into a bucket on her wedding day? Not many, I would imagine. Certainly not I.

And yet, as much as Frankel's adventures seem way beyond any I would ever/have ever experienced, there's one area in which I can identify: her joy in becoming a mother in her late 30's. That happened with me, too -- and like Frankel, I worried about everything. One of Frankel's worries was how her 10-year-old dog, Cookie, would cope with having baby Bryn join the household, and she tweeted as much not long after Bryn was born.

As a new mother, I had a similar worry: how my 10-year-old mixed poodle, Molly, would handle having a new baby (that would be my now 21-year-old daughter) in the house. More specifically, I wondered how Molly would cope with having to share me with the baby, given that just a couple of years earlier I'd made our twosome a trio when I married Stan.

Unlike Frankel, I didn't get a boatload of responses to a tweet, but I did have one of the earliest editions of What to Expect When You're Expecting. That book contained some great suggestions for baby-prepping a dog: sending home a T-shirt with the baby's scent home from the hospital, greeting the dog separately when returning from the hospital, carefully introducing baby and dog. I followed all those suggestions to the letter, and Molly did fine. In fact, she seemed to consider herself Julie's protector, especially when the latter began walking.

Although Frankel's baby only about eight weeks old right now--and thus a long way from walking--People magazine reports that Cookie has taken on a role with Bryn that's similar to Molly's with Julie, and the new family is doing great. That warms my heart the same way that Molly did when she made it clear that she was cool with any new additions to our little pack. As long as I was happy, she was happy.

That said, if Frankel runs into any problems in the future managing Bryn and Cookie, I can recommend a terrific book: Colleen Pelar's wonderful Living with Kids and Dogs ... Without Losing Your Mind. Pelar's not only a terrific dog trainer; she's also the mother of three sons and the caregiver to two dogs. She's written a pragmatic, compassionate guide that, in my opinion, no dog-owning family should be without.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Exercising restraint

Allie adores bananas, and usually we're very generous about sharing the ones we eat with her. But this morning Julie (who's the most generous of us all) left a banana out on the kitchen counter, in preparation for packing it for a snack to take to work.

Of course, Allie saw the banana. While Julie was in her room and I was in the kitchen, our golden girl spied the coveted fruit, looked at me expectantly, and offered a very polite sit. "No can do, girl," I told her. "Go to Julie."

"I'm taking it to work," called Julie, who had overheard me. "She can't have it this time."

Allie continued to sit and continued to gaze at the banana. I got diverted by something else and went into the dining room.

When I came back, Allie had broken her sit but was still looking at the banana. But amazingly, this dog--who generally will countersurf to retrieve plastic containers and knives from the kitchen sink, much less anything edible--made absolutely no attempt to reach up to the counter to grab the fruit that had literally prompted her to drool.

Wow. What a good girl.