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A few weeks ago, reading some Billy Collins, I came across his description of a dog “porpoising through the snow.”  Beautifully apt.

Today on Whiskey River I read this wonderful Mary Oliver poem. We’re facing a major snowstorm tonight, and I can almost see already how Crispin will illustrate this one. Dinah likes snow well enough, but she prefers to view it from her regal seat at the top step of the back porch.

The Storm
Now through the white orchard my little dog
romps, breaking the new snow
with wild feet.
Running here running there, excited,
hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins
until the white snow is written upon
in large, exuberant letters,
a long sentence, expressing
the pleasures of the body in this world.
Oh, I could not have said it better
– Mary Oliver

Happy snow day, everybody, and every dog!

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From the NY Daily News

If you fly very often, you might remember back to the pre-9/11 days when Southwest Airlines had a sense of humor.  To keep passengers chuckling during their few-frills flight, flight attendants kept up a patter worthy of the best stand-up comic:

  • We’re full today, folks, so you’re going to have to sit next to somebody. Make eye contact, sit down, and invent a whole new personality for yourself.
  • Give up, ma’am– that home stereo set is never going to fit in that overhead bin–that’s why it’s called a HOME stero.
  • [from the pilot after a long flight] We’re here. Get off.

But my favorite of all was from an attractive young male flight attendant on a trip from Providence to Nashville. It went like this:

In the event of a drop in the cabin’s air presser, an oxygen mask will drop down automatically. Grab it, strap it over your big old ugly nose and mouth, and breathe normally. If you do not normally breathe normally, breathe the way you normally breath. If you are traveling with a child, put on your mask first, then take care of them. If you are traveling with two children, decide which one you love the best.

There is a reason why I recall this and retell it here.  A story in yesterday’s New York Daily News tells of a 6 week-old pup (the very pup in the photo above) rescued from freezing after making a flight in the cargo hold of a plane traveling from Mexico to New York’s JFK Airport. It’s my sad duty to tell you that another dog didn’t make it, but this little guy did, because of a stroke of remarkable fortune: one of the baggage handlers was also a student of veterinary medicine, and knew how to give the puppy mouth-to-snout resuscitation.  After being examined by security officials who feared the dog might have been being used as a drug mule, he was cleared and released to his unnamed owner.

I have three questions:

Why did the airline put dogs in the freezing cold cargo hold of an airplane?  Do we really still do this?

Why was the pup returned to the owner, who must have been at least partially responsible for the dog’s poor treatment? Also, this little critter was only 6 weeks old–why was he even apart from his mother yet? I’m guessing the owner had never laid eyes on the dog before yesterday.

And, finally, is there a lot of human-animal mouth-to-mouth resuscitation going on?

The answer to the last question turns out to be yes.  A search for mouth-to-snout turns up any number of heartwarming stories:

  • “Pig Pig,” a farm pig in Pennsylvania, was rescued in this way by his owner after his mom (the piglet’s mom, not the farmer’s) rolled over on the baby and nearly flattened him.  To acknowledge this act of bravery, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs baseball team sent the farmer an Iron Pigs sweatshirt, free passes to an IP game, a bottle of Listerine, and a tube of Chapstick (Southwest Air, call the Iron Pigs–they found your sense of humor).
  • One  devoted dad saved his daughters’ kitten by giving it mouth-to-mouth after it got stuck in an automatic garage door.
  • An intrepid hiker saved a bear in this way after the animal (stopped by a tranquilizer dart) fell face down into a puddle. Both apparently lived to tell the tale.

But the most interesting thing I found were several stories, like this one, about devices designed to pump lifesaving air into animals who need resuscitation after an accident or exposure to smoke and fire. It includes a selection of plastic masks that fit over a dog’s snout, a kitten’s face, a ferret’s muzzle, or a bird’s beak.

Does your local fire department have one? And do you suppose they tell the critter in question, “Breathe the way you normally breath”?


I’ve gone a long time without a dog blog post, but I’m definitely still out here, as are Dinah and Crispin. It’s just that . . . and I say this while crossing my fingers, throwing grains of salt here and there, and holding my breath . . . they haven’t done anything horrible terribly blog worthy lately.

Seriously, it’s all been business as usual around here. True, Crispin did figure out how to open the tall kitchen cupboard where we store condiments, tea, jams, and so on, but there wasn’t much in there he really wanted to eat.

We made it through Christmas without either of them knocking the tree over, unwrapping any gifts, or taking any of the ornaments off the tree to play with. Okay, so we don’t actually put ornaments on the bottom third of the tree any more, but, you know, Cris can still fly, so he might have made mischief  . . . but he didn’t.

Could it be that the Crispy Critter is growing up? It’s true that he had a birthday in December–he’s 3 years old now. But airedales don’t really stop being puppies for years. An airedale owner I know was walking with her dog one day when someone stopped her to ask “Your puppy is so cute and energetic–how old is he?”

They were floored when she replied: “Eleven.”

So we’re still bouncing around, mostly in varying amounts of snow, which they both love. They don’t even mind the deep cold we’ve been having–Dinah, especially, spends long winter mornings sitting on her behind on the icy back porch, surveying her snow-covered territory (for she, like the famed turtle, is queen of all she can see). Sometimes I worry that she’ll freeze to the porch boards.

Now that would be something to write about!

Over this past weekend we delivered Dinah and Crispin to their favorite dog hotel and hit the road for points west to visit First Child at his college’s family weekend. It was a beautiful drive  (albeit a long one–Pennsylvania gets longer and longer every time we make the trip), so much so that I finally told the Pack Leader that I was getting foliage fatigue from all the spectacular fall leaves and the astonishingly rich colors.

On Saturday we headed to the school’s football game.  I am in it for the band, in which First Child plays the trombone; you would laugh every year to hear the Pack Leader trying to get me to understand football. I finally decided it’s like listening to a zen talk: “dark to the eye, but radiant to the heart.”  I try to just flow with things.

As we approached the stadium, which sits in a beautiful green bowl ringed around with golden maple trees (made more radiant this weekend by the lowering dark clouds that threatened, but never quite delivered rain), I spotted a familiar shape sitting at the top of the rise around the bowl.

First Child had told us that since he started attending college, he regularly sees a woman walking an airedale up and down the paths of the school. He has talked to her several times about our airedales, and gets his little fix by petting and talking with her dog.  So we went over and introduced ourselves, and sure enough, this was Rollie with his owner, Wendy.

Rollie was delightful–though his eyesight isn’t what it once was  (at the tender airedale age of 13), he was a perfect gentleman and permitted himself not only to be stroked and scritched, but to be photographed. As the picture shows, there’s no question about Rollie’s football loyalty:

Want to see what Rollie saw (or heard) next? Okay, this is last year’s show, but you get the picture, and so did Rollie.

Shortly after I put up my last post, I ran across this article from the Tehama County, Califorina Daily News about how to keep your pet safe on holidays in general, and July 4 in particular.

The article quotes Tehama County Animal Care Center Shelter Manager Scott Alsteen as noting that the number of lost pet reports that they get on a daily basis–typically two or three–rises to as many as 15 a day during weeks like this one.

Animals are spooked by fireworks, as our Dinah was, says Alsteen, and they run away, get lost, get hit by cars, or, even if confined inside, injure themselves out of anxiety and fear (like our canine friend Tris, who hurts his mouth chewing and pulling at the baseboard heaters in their home when there are fireworks or thunder).

Alsteen has several recommendations:

  • Stay near your pets during these noisy times.
  • If you must be away, be sure your animals are confined in a safe place away from things that could hurt them (or, I’d like to add, that they could hurt)
  • If you can’t be with them, supply them with calming and distracting background noise by turning up a radio or television set near them.
  • If your vet suggests a tranquilizer or other calming medication, administer it before your cat or dog (or wildebeest–whatever you’ve got) becomes anxious. A dog-loving friend of mine, though, reminded us recently that your animals can probably hear the rockets or thunder long before you can.
  • Finally, just in case, make sure your critters wear identification tags (we call these Dinah’s and Crispin’s jewelry) at all times.

After all, it was Dinah’s clearly marked tags that helped us to reunite with her so quickly after her scary lost episode.

Once you’ve taken care of all these things, enjoy your celebration. I’m off to make strawberry shortcake. Think I’ll slip the critters a treat or two on my way.  Happy 4th.


Amazing. Jess the dog is astonishing, but his young owner impresses me even more–she’s got a great career ahead of her as a trainer.

Apparently an oldie, but I just came across this story today.  It’s by Alan Guthrie, and comes from the Telegraph in the UK.

It seems that the famous  ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl had participated in a television broadcast, and was waiting for a cab that had been called to take him home afterward.

Before too long a cab pulled up and the driver came inside, looked around, and sat down on a bench.

Heyerdahl approached the driver and said that he was the one for whom the cab had been ordered.

“Nope,” said the driver. “I was sent to pick up four airedales.”

Crispin has figured out how to open the refrigerator.

Can’t you just hear the heavenly voices as he gazes in awe upon the source of All Good Things?

We are so in trouble.

After an extra-long break this year that expanded to accommodate at least one illness for everyone in the family, it’s back to work time.

To mark this important day, a little workplace safety video:

If we could just get Dinah and Crispin a pair of saxaphones, we might not need to have jobs around here.

My daughter came running to tell me on Sunday, “Mom, Mom! There’s an airedale on tv!” and though I missed it then, I finally saw it yesterday. It’s an ad for our state’s lottery, featuring a man and a woman sitting in a car. She has obviously been doing her holiday shopping, and starts pulling from her shopping bag the presents she’s bought “for everyone!”–all, of course, are lottery tickets–“One for mom, and one for your sister and one for . . .” and so on until she holds up the last one teasingly, saying, “And one for . . . ”

At which point a large and lovely airedale pokes its head up over the back of the front seat and steals the card. Very funny. Very airedale. Very scary–the notion of an airedale with disposable income.

Id buy mom a new tinfoil hat!

I'd buy mom a new tinfoil hat!

A whole case of Kongs, so Mom can always find one when we need it!

A whole case of Kongs, so Mom can always find one when we need it!

What would your dogs buy if they won the lottery?