Category Archives: Dogs

Learned Behavior


That’s the sound of a ball bouncing down the basement steps, which I’ve now heard three times this morning.

Our dog Scarlett has learned that if she drops a ball down the steps I will often retrieve it and toss it back to her. Then she drops it down the steps again.

It occurs to me now that this is a bizarre turnaround in the training routine; she is giving a cue that makes me spring into action. I have been conditioned to react in a certain way, and she knows — to the extent that dogs know anything — what I’ll do.

Predictable behavior on command. That sounds a lot like training to me.

But she’s just a dog and she can never get me trained properly. I’m quite sure that no matter what she does, I’ll continue to eat food off the counter, lay on the couch, and poop in the house. So there.



My dog Maddy gets a bad rap.

She has a reputation for being lazy, especially when compared to her older sister, Scarlett. It’s hardly fair. Scarlett is a high energy dog driven by the impulse to work. Next to her, anyone would look like a slacker.

For example, if we go to an empty field and throw a ball, Scarlett would keep going until she dropped. Maddy? She might run after Scarlett a few times, but after that, she’d prefer to roam around, relax, and eat the occasional bit of goose poop. Goose poop is the foie gras of the dog world.

This all changes when I take them to Thacher Park. There’s something about the woods that makes Maddy go bonkers. She’ll tear up and down the trails and race around the trees, leaping over logs, chasing after something only she can see. Then when we get to a stream, she plunges into the water.


There’s something so gratifying about seeing her like that; there’s a pure joy to it. Out of the house, away from the yard, off the leash.

Do the dogs remember these good times? I’d like to imagine that they do, and later in the day as they drift tiredly off to sleep they think about how much fun we had — and then they dream about the next time.

Channel Hopping

It sucks being sick, but it’s really wonderful to sit around and do absolutely nothing and not feel the least bit guilty about it. And the perfect tool for doing nothing is your TV.

Cruising through the channel guide I found something intriguing: Dog With a Blog. Ha! This I have to see! I love dogs — and well, blogs, hey, that’s something that interests me, so how could I not watch Dog With a Blog?

It was the typical Disney channel kid sitcom, except with a talking dog. A dog who has has a blog. According to Wikipedia, “The children learn of Stan’s talking ability in the first episode and agree to keep it a secret from their parents, fearing that if the world finds out that Stan can talk, he will be taken away and experimented on.” That’s sinister.

So, basically, this is Alf, except with a dog — and a first cousin to the famous Mr. Ed, of course, which was begat by Francis the Talking Mule. One could also argue that it’s loosely related to My Mother the Car, I suppose.

Dog was predictably bad, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most popular Disney Channel programs, and a regular fixture among the top 25 shows on cable. Kids have absolutely no taste.

By the way, Disney hosts a page that’s supposed to be the dog’s actual blog, but it’s terrible, even worse than most of what passes for blogging. If my dogs wrote a blog, it would at least be interesting.

Anyway, enough of this talk about bad TV. If I’m not mistaken, there’s a Doomsday Preppers marathon starting soon, so I gotta go.

Dogs of the Fall

On a recent ambulance call, we took care of a man who tumbled down a few steps after tripping over his dog. He dinged up his shoulder pretty well, but it could have been much worse. I resisted the temptation to ask, “Do you want us to have a look at the dog?” See, I’m getting better!

60% of my household’s pet contingent.

We’ve all read how pet ownership is good for your health, but according to a study by the CDC a few years ago, tripping over your pets poses a significant hazard — and all their toys and crap are trouble, too.

The biggest culprits? Dogs. From the report:

“Nearly 7.5 times as many injuries involved dogs (76,223 [88.0%]) compared with cats (10,130 [11.7%]).”


“The most frequent circumstances were falling or tripping over a dog (31.3%) and being pushed or pulled by a dog (21.2%).”

I’m no stranger to the dangers posed by household pests pets; living in a house teeming with furry animals who scurry about underfoot is risky business.  It’s so bad at our house that when I get out of bed in the middle of the night, I sweep the floor with my foot to check for the presence of animals or sharp-edged bones and toys.

What I’d really like to see is a study of the relationship between stepping on cats and cardiac arrests. There’s nothing more startling than that — and speaking of cats, the study contains this odd tidbit:

“Most falls involving cats occurred at home (85.7%). Approximately 11.7% of injuries occurred while persons were chasing cats.”

To recap, a few safety tips: sweep the floor with your foot, limit the number of animals in your house, and never chase cats.

The Dogs Know You Better Than You Know You

It’s usually on Saturday when you get the dog guilt.

They come and stare at you with those eyes, giving you that deep, soulful look you’ve seldom seen before, except maybe from that girl you went out with in your freshman year of college. She looked at you that way sometimes, but her gaze was not nearly so intense or unwavering, and unlike the dogs, she was complicated. And the truth is that you can take care of what the dogs want, but with her, who knows? And in that way dogs are much better than college girlfriends.

So you take them out somewhere and play ball or throw the stick or take a long walk in Thacher Park. You get to feel less bad about not spending time with them during the week and they get some unbridled exuberance. An hour later, the dogs may not remember what you did, but you’ll remember, and it’s those moments that help make us feel good.

But it doesn’t stop there.

You get home and instead of just serving up the dry food, you top each bowl with some scrambled eggs. Pure protein.

And then they sleep and you are satisfied that you’re a good person — at least until later in the day when they start staring at you again, and it dawns on you that there’s a word for people like you. And that word is “sucker.”

I Bark for No Apparent Reason

A lot of you have probably come out from running an errand and found your dog sitting in the driver’s seat. Hahaha… look at the dog. He’s driving the car! That’s hilarious — but what if your dog really was driving?

Well, New Zealand has stopped talking about this and finally done something:

Actually, this is just a stunt to raise awareness about dog adoption. There’s no way New Zealand would allow dogs to actually drive a car. For one thing, they drive on the left there, and as it says on their tourism site:

We have a good motorway system but weather extremes, the terrain and narrow secondary roads and bridges require drivers to be very vigilant.

Just in case, if you ever go to New Zealand, keep your eyes open.

Kibble Klatsch

The dogs are enjoying the new iPad Mini we have in the house because the touch screen makes it’s easy for them to navigate. They never got the knack of using a mouse; that’s more of a cat thing.

Being newshounds, they love searching for stories about dogs and reading them to me when I have my morning coffee. Type “dogs” into Google’s news search and you get hundreds of results, so they never run out of material.

“Listen to this one,” announced Scarlett. “The Coast Guard ended a search Monday for a teenager whose parents were killed after they plunged into the powerful surf in a nightmarish chain of events that started when their son tried to save the family dog from drowning.”

Maddy ran in from the other room. “Holy crap!”

“Wait, there’s more.” She continued. “Eureka residents Mary Elena Scott, 57, and Howard Gregory Kuljian, 54, both drowned Saturday. The boy, Gregory James Kuljian, is presumed dead. Ten-foot waves had pulled the dog into the ocean as it ran to retrieve a stick at Big Lagoon, about 300 miles north of San Francisco.”

Thanks for that cheery little tidbit. “Geez… what a terrible story. Isn’t there any good dog news this morning.”

She was waiting for this. “Wait! This story actually has a happy ending, right here in the last line:  ‘The dog returned to shore.'”

Dog Bites Anchor

Here’s a little tip: don’t shove your mug right up into the face of a dog you don’t know. Why? Because it might fu**ing bite you, that’s why.

That’s exactly what happened to to KUSA anchor Kyle Dyer last week and she ended up with 70 stiches in her face. Here’s the video, which is scary, but not graphic. I like the weatherman at the end.

The Argentine mastiff was rescued after falling into an icy pond the day before — a story which would not have not been news at all if the scene had not been captured on video by KUSA’s helicopter. In essence, a story they manufactured came back to bite them. Right in the face.

TV news will go out of its way to show you video of terrible things: fires, car accidents, fights, murder scenes — but when it happens to one of their own? Not so much.

TV Spy reports that KUSA news directory Patti Dennis has tried like hell to supress the video of Dyer being bitten. That’s funnny, because I’m sure she’d be the first to air the video if it happened to an anchor across town.

The Clock Will Kill You

Most people did not get what Bill Belichick was doing when he allowed Ahmad Bradshaw to score — hell, even Ahmad Bradshaw didn’t understand until it was too late.

Belichick decided to trade points for time. It was a ballsy thing to do and a calculated risk that did not pay off. And you know what that’s like, don’t you?

So many writers have waxed poetic about baseball, but it’s football that reveals the truth about life. It’s a game of triumph and struggle and tragedy. Pain and glory, winning and losing. It’s a place where perseverence is rewarded — but sometimes it’s just better to be lucky.

And ultimately, as in life, it comes down to the clock.

Now, on to the sideshow. Most of the Super Bowl commercials sucked, but I really liked the Silverado apocalypse commercial, which would have also been interesting with zombies. However, the spot I can’t stop thinking about is the Cat Killing Dorito Dog. The audacity of extending the cat vs. dog trope this far, for the dog to… well watch the commercial:

This made me laugh out loud, the cats storm out of the room, and the dogs give high-fives all around.