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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!

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Yesterday afternoon Second Child and I spent some time playing soccer in the yard with Crispin. He has two soccer balls, a fat round one that rolls nicely so he can chase it and bring it back, and a partially deflated one that’s easy for him to carry and that throws sort of like a lead weight. Both of these activities are known to him not as “fetch” or “playing ball,” but simply as “soccer.” We say, “Hey, Crispin–soccer!” and he runs for the ball.

Airedales are natural soccer players. Here, for instance, is Dinah on her first day in our home, working on her game strategy:

So the radio’s on in the kitchen this afternoon, tuned to NPR’s Fresh Air, on which host Teri Gross and her guest are discussing over-involved soccer parents. The dialog on the show is going mostly: “so, soccer blah blah blah soccer soccer blah di blah di blah soccer and then soccer . . .”  And doesn’t Crispin run to the mud room, fetch the better inflated of the two soccer balls, bring it back to the kitchen, and set it down in front of the radio.

Coincidence?  I think not!

Letterman, look out!

In the November 1997 issue of Food & Wine is a charming holiday reminiscence by Julia Child. She tells of growing up in a comfortably well-off home in which her mother (with the help of the “upstairs maid”) pulled out all the stops when it came to setting the Thanksgiving dinner table.

At a last-minute pre-dinner inspection of the silver and damask and elegant place settings, Child’s mother noticed that the 18 individual silver butter plates were all empty of the perfect curls of butter she expected to see.  Erna, the maid, was also mystified.

“But I rolled them myself, using the chilled wooden paddle, the way you showed me,” the maid said. “I put them on the plates just a few minutes ago.”

Child goes on to say:

“Suddenly, Mother roared, ‘Where’s Eric?’ our dearly beloved old airedale. . . . Eric lumbered in and sat beside her with an attentive, ‘Who, me?’ expression.”

Case closed.

Crispin prefers to take his purloined butter by the stick. I think if he ever entered a room filled with soft lights and snowy linen, and found 18 plates of butter–unguarded butter!–he might simply faint dead away on the spot.

After he’d carefully cleaned all those plates, of course.

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?

At first we blamed it on each other. But now we’ve got it figured out.

Our dogs love their crates.* They go happily to them at bedtime, and if we stay up later than what they consider a respectable hour, they come and let us know it’s time to open them up so they can go to bed. We credit this amazing phenomenon to the fact that we’ve never used crates for punishment or time-outs, and that each one gets to take a biscuit to bed at night. Also to the fact that the crates are lined with cushy beds I made by covering large pieces of upholstery foam with material from a brand new plushy Ralph Lauren throw I got at Goodwill for $6.  Hell, I’d like to sleep there.

In fact, they like these beds so much that we have to close and latch the crates during the daytime, or Crispin pulls them out of the crates, drags them through the house, and  (remember, this is Crispin) eats them.

Only now winter is icumen in, and the floors in this old house are, admittedly, chilly. The other day we came in to the room where the crates are and found Crispin comfortably ensconced in his cozy bed in the middle of the day. I fussed at the Pack Leader for not latching the door that morning.

The next day we found his bed in the middle of the kitchen floor, and the crate wide open. The Pack Leader fussed at me for not latching the crate door.

We became extra vigilant about firmly latching the door.

The door continued to open mysteriously.

Yesterday I stood Crispin in front of the securely latched door and dropped a biscuit into the locked crate from the top. Dog outside. Biscuit inside.

“Okay, boy,” I said. “Show me how you do it. Get the biscuit.”

He gave me one of his patented winsome looks and said clearly, “I would love to eat that biscuit, but I am just a humble dog and have no understanding of latches.”

I left the room.  I heard the sound of a latch being thrown back. And then the sound of a biscuit being crunched.  And I’m pretty sure I heard some snickering after that.

We began to seriously consider a theory bandied about on the Airedale List, an online mailing list for airedale people whose collective wisdom has helped us weather many a crisis. The theory is that airedales have cleverly disguised Swiss Army Paws with a variety of useful tools contained within.  One flick of those hairy paws brings up the right implement for, say,

  • standing on your purse and thus dialing 911 on your cell phone
  • Opening ziplock bags
  • Pulling open the bread drawer
  • Prying the lid off a jar of peanut butter
  • Picking their teeth to remove any traces of evidence that they might have had something to do with the missing hamburger

But today he came clean. I found him happily snoozing on his cozy designer bed and invited him to step out of the crate. I shut and latched the door. He sighed, gave the latch one flip with his nose, swung the door open, and resumed his nap.

I didn’t have the heart to make him come out again.

*looking at the close-up of the latch, I now wonder whether he wasn’t pointing out that it’s overdue for a little clean-up.  Gotta get on that.

Second Child, who is now in high school, was sitting with a friend in study hall engaged in that old fashioned educational pastime of comparing cell phone photos with the boy sitting beside her.  The boy held out his phone for her to see, and the conversation went like this:

Boy:  And this is my dog.

Second Child: Cool . . . wait . . . hey! What kind of dog is that?

Boy: An airedale.

Second child (screaming): AN AIREDALE?!!!!

Teacher: Shhhhh, you two.

Boy (whispering): Yeah, I know, you’ve probably never heard of them.

Second child: (screaming again) HEARD OF THEM? (whispering) I mean, heard of them?  I’ve got TWO of them at home!

Boy:: (screams) YOU DO?!!! OMG, OMG!

Second child and Crispin as a pup

Second child and Crispin as a pup

Clearly a get-together is in order. Maybe the kids can come along, too.