My first dog, Tara, was one of a kind and with a name chosen from Gone With the Wind.
Do dogs grow up to mimic our appearances and personalities or do we, subconsciously, pick that one puppy who best resembles us?
When I first picked up the small, warm, brown pup, later named Tara, my first house-dog and a German Short-haired Pointer, she looked like a seal.
You know, the luscious, dark furred, round bottomed sea-creature with gleaming eyes and long whiskers. A puppy in a fur tuxedo.
I was not round-bottomed nor did I have whiskers 25 years ago. But Tara did and she also had honey-colored eyes and long ears, framing her face like well-set curls.
It’s all in the… eyebrows
Have you noticed how much a dog can communicate by just looking at you? Each facial expression, punctuated by those magical eyebrows, has a different meaning. Is a full sentence in its own right.
How they’re able to turn every situation in their favor?
So did Tara, just by using her eyebrows; bringing them together, pointing upwards, to created a vertical wrinkle between them. Or creased low over her eyes, deep in thought.
“Doing a PhD thesis on this ball in front of me. Care to help?” she’d often say…
Or by lifting them, curving them over her eyes, suddenly so big and innocent, this movement often combined with a small drop of drool in the corner of her mouth. “I trust you unconditionally to take care of my every need”, they’d say, while intentionally avoiding me.
“And I need a snack, right about now would be ideal.”
Or by just keeping her brows motionless, only her eyes rolling slowly underneath, left, right… watching me, studying me, persuading me…
“I know we did not play during the past hour. Do YOU know?”
We surely mimicked each other, Tara and I, my heart joyful after hers.
She was always giving and loving, unknowingly fueling my love for animals; teaching me that unconditional love has no limits.
‘Frasier” has to be one of my all time favorite TV comedy shows, with Marty Crane and his best friend Eddie the dog (a Jack Russell Terrier) my favorite characters.
In the episode 14 of season 11, aptly titled Freudian Sleep, Marty gives us a jazzy rendition of The Sunny Side of the Street. I love this part, and Marty Crane confines in us with his life motto:
“I focus on what’s good about my life.”
Martin Crane, Frasier
On the Sunny Side of the Street with Marty Crane in Frasier
Here are the lyrics:
“Walked with no one and talked with no one And I had nothing but shadows Then one morning you passed And I brightened at last Now I greet the day and complete the day With the sun in my heart All my worry blew away When you taught me how to say
Grab your coat and get your hat Leave your worry on the doorstep Just direct your feet To the sunny side of the street Can’t you hear a pitter-pat? And that happy tune is your step Life can be so sweet On the sunny side of the streetI used to walk in the shade With those blues on parade But I’m not afraid This Rover crossed overIf I never have a cent I’d be rich as Rockefeller Gold dust at my feet On the sunny side of the street Grab your street
I hope you enjoyed On the Sunny Side of the Street with talented John Mahoney as Marty Crane in Frasier. and if you found yourself humming the tune and trying a few steps of dance, even better! and, yes, Martin Crane loved the music of Frank Sinatra!
The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .
I seem to have painted myself in a corner with this look closer from details to the big picture, what am I, red. Because red is not one of my favorite colors; too much energy abundant, eye-catching assertiveness for my introvert self.
Let’s see if I can get myself out of it since I chose red because of the final image, without thinking of the implications it will have on the step by step process . Now don’t scroll to peek at it 🙂
I am thinking of those times we acted first, only to realize later that the wave has not passed. We are still to deal with the emotions our action stirred; with the physicality that, perhaps, it followed; with the energy stirred by what we did or said. That’s a face of red I see.
So, what do you see?
Textured red, would be my first answer. Shimmering water over an agitated surface. Cardinal red that holds power. Heart braking poppy red.
A warning and questions too. Questioning myself. Self-doubt and the imperative need to take action, to prove myself to myself. Seeing red and physical need to remove myself from the situation.
Or I’d think of strawberries, if I’m hungry 🙂 Strawberries still link my mind to my childhood. A fruit of happy summer, carefree days. Heaps of them at the market. Now we get them all year round and their magic is gone.
So, I tell myself, red is not that bad after all… Post office red makes me thing of letters and of Christmas and I find this shade of bright red to be energizing.
I scroll further as I feel I’ve been staring too long at this ruby rectangle; it becomes overbearing and it pains my eyes.
Dare I zoom out?
One extra piece of information and the image has a whole new meaning.
Red is playful now. And the illusion of shade implies light. Light is always good. Light holds answers.
I’m thinking now of bright red nail polish that carries a festive atmosphere and it always puts me in a frisky mood. Because le rouge va bien aux brunes, red suits brunettes. The one I stopped wearing long time ago.
Red’s looking better.
Perhaps the picture is that of an acorn all dressed up? I laugh and feel myself going red.
I zoom out some more.
Oh, so it is an acorn, after all!
An acorn knitted hat.
How else would you call a beanie? A benny?
Knitted cap is too self explanatory and yet stiff. Like the set-up instructions that accompany a hammock. (Ever seen those? It goes like this: ‘insert the non-loop end into the loop on the opposite end’ – drains all the joy out of it). It should say find two trees you want to grab hold of at the same time but you can’t. Use the hammock to bridge the gap.
Same with above bonnet – too boring.
Perhaps beret, taking the French way and with a dash of WWII French Resistance…
And I am calling it a beret to lift y spirits too for I could never knit something like this. Not even the pointy bit. I can only knit in strait lines.
I did wrote a concentric letter once, though…
So we started with a textured red that looked threatening, brought in a dash of shadows and light, and a story to shake off the initial overbearing feeling.
Was it worth it?
I’ve told you I started with the final image.
Isn’t this what we always do, start with the end dream and knit our way towards it?
It is always worth it, isn’t it?
Because every color has a silver lining. Red’s is unconditional love.
Today I take a break from writing fiction about dogs to take a closer look at a few canine mementos, more exactly at 7 dogs that put their paws on history – and on the reader’s hearts.
One of my all time favorite poetesses, Emily Dickinson, wrote once that ‘dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell,’ while Eisenhower, America’s 34th President, believed that ‘what counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.’
Take a moment to think of your favorite childhood story. Mine was about a sausage dog called Fridolin and chances are that, your too, was about the friendship between a man and an animal. Any parent or educator learns at some stage that the best way to convey a lesson to a child is through a story involving animals. It is based on the animal kingdom that the most valuable lessons about loyalty, trust, sacrifice and unconditional love come.
When it comes to their relationship with humans, dogs have followed a millennial, a fascinating journey that won them the nickname of man’s best friend, a path one that fed many bedtime stories for young and old alike. Furthermore, be it a puppy, a doggo or a bud, they became famous characters in literature and cinema and there are canines who have taught us powerful life lessons about what loyalty and love means. And let’s not forget the bravest hounds who helped the people in rescue operations or proved their courage on the front or behind enemy lines and even across no man’s land.
Sergeant Stubby, or when the size doesn’t matter (1916 – 1926)
Stubby certainly holds the record for receiving the most medals World War I. Stubby the puppy looked like a Pit Bull Terrier mix and was found wandering the grounds of the Yale University campus in July 1917 while members of the 102nd Infantry were training so he soon became their mascot. But Stubby also took part in numerous battles during which he helped discovering, capturing, and alerting the Allies to the presence of German spies.
Hachiko, a story of canine devotion from 1925 (1923 – 1935)
One day, when I will visit Japan, I will make sure to go to Shibuya train station where the statue of Hachiko is found. In Japanese culture Hachiko is a symbol of loyalty and love. This dog loved his master so much that his devotion entered people’s hearts and their memory and thus it remained in history. Books were written about him and movies were also made.
Adopted when he was just a puppy by Professor Hidesaburo Ueno, Hachiko was raised with a lot of love and attention. Since the Professor had to commute for work, Hachiko learned to wait daily for its owner’s return at Shibuya train station. The reunion of the two was the most awaited moment of the day. He did this for years until one day when Professor Ueno never returned from work. Hachiko’s owner passed away suddenly, while he was at the office, due to a cerebral hemorrhage. It was May 21, 1925. Hachiko waited until late that day, but his daddy never returned.
Yet Hachko never lost hope and for ten long years he went daily to Shibuya station to wait for his friend. Hachiko died of old age in 1935, on March 8.
What for a human being translates into basic human needs, food, comfort and love, for a dog is the definition of life itself. When men search companionship, understanding and friendship, dogs require only love.
Balto the Snowdog of 1925 (1919 – 1933)
How much do you love snow?
Balto was a Siberian husky dog trained to pull sleighs, named after the polar explorer Samuel Balto who participated in the first recorded crossing of the interior of Greenland, together with Nansen and four other expedition members.
But Balto the puppy grew into a strong and brave doggo soon known as the leader of the team that carried the diphtheria toxin in Nome, Alaska. During the winter of 1925 a small city with a big epidemic crisis was isolated due to weather conditions. The only solution to bring the antidote were dog dledding. Balto showed extraordinary courage and led the sledge to -23 ° C, at night, through the blizzard.
There is a statue in Balto’s memory in Central Park, New York. Have you seen it?
Just Nuisance, a WWII Royal Navy Able Seaman (1937 – 1944)
The life and story of the legendary Great Dane, Able Seaman Just Nuisance, still captures the hearts and imagination of tourists, WWII historians and readers around the world.
Just Nuisance was born on1st April 1937 and he had a different name at the beginning, a more prosaic name. It is an extraordinary story how received the name everyone got to know him by, a story you can read in my Amazon bestseller book Joyful Trouble.
Well, I’ll share a bit. This giant Great Dane was very gentle and liked the sailors such a lot that he followed them everywhere….
‘“But mostly he liked to tail seamen, to follow them, while they were moving in and out of the naval base. Out we went, the Great Dane was after us. In the train we climbed, the dog would jump in. Even in the dockyards when we were doing our job, he was there.
He just liked to be among us, to sit among us, even lie among us and nap. Especially the ones working on the HMS Neptune,” smiled the old man.
“Was that your ship, Grandpa?”
“Yes, it was the ship I was first appointed to. She was a beautiful light cruiser! When seamen work on a ship it is always busy work, heavy work. And to get on and off the ship they lay a plank of wood a little bit wider than…. this,” and the old man kept his hands wide apart. But our Great Dane enjoyed being among the seamen so much that he thought the best place for him to sit and wait for his busy friends was the plank itself, the piece of wood connecting the ship with the shore. And you can’t blame him; that was the only area on which everyone walked; because there was no other way.
Now, that was a narrow plank and our dog was a big dog. Therefor not much space was left for the sailors to walk up and down on their duties. Every time a sailor would have to board or disembark the ship, sometimes even carrying heavy loads, he was forced to step over our four legged friend. And after a few jumps like this the seamen, no matter how fond they were of our dog, they would mumble and complain about how much trouble the dog was giving them.
And the name stuck!
Except that lots of joy was also associated with our Trouble causing friend.”
“Joyful Trouble,” said Ana to herself while watching Tommy throwing stones in the stream.’
Not many know, but Just Nuisance (Joyful Trouble) also flew in planes – in secret missions.
Just Nuisance is still a big part of Simon’s Town where a statue was raised in his honor. Simon’s Town Museum in Cape Town, South Africa, also has in it’s collection Just Nuisance’s collar as well as many photographs.
Fido, a Faithful, Trusting Dog of WWII, 1943 (1941 – 1958)
A story similar to Hachiko’s became famous in Italy during World War II. The story begins when an Italian worker, Soriani, finds an injured puppy, later named Fido. Good-hearted, the man took the pup home and took good care of him. Of course, the Italian worker and and his wife quickly became attached to the cute doggo and decided to adopt him. They called him Fido (trust, faithful), cared for him and gave him all their love. They all lived in the beautiful region of Tuscani.
And Fido returned their love tenfold. Each day Fido would follow his owner to the bus station and wait for him to return. Soriani worked in a factory but at some stage during World War II, when the city was bombed, the factory was completely destroyed. Many workers died, including Soriani. For 14 years after his master’s death, Fido returned to the bus station, waiting for his return every day. Much has been written in the press of the time about this proof of devotion.
Laika, the Spacedog (1954 – 1957)
It was 1957 and the Golden Age of Capitalism, when freedom equaled consumption in the west. But the Sovie Union had other great plans. At the control desk the engineers started the countdown, and the Sputnik 2 space shuttle was ready for launch. A brave soul, with a wet nuzzle, will soon be propelled into outer space and the history of space flight.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the Russian scientists of the ’50s the way I never liked the Russian soldiers of WWII. Laika was a stray wandering the streets of Moscow. She was picked up and looked after – following a devious plan. Soviet scientists chose to use Moscow strays since they assumed that such animals had already learned to endure conditions of extreme cold and hunger.
During the training time, one of the scientists involved in the project took Laika home where the dog bonded with his children. In one of the books dedicated to the puppy, the scientist said that “Laika was silent and charming.” The puppy showed a lot of courage and extraordinary intelligence throughout the entire training period.
Laika died within hours from the launch due to overheating caused by a failure when the central missile separated from the payload. The true cause and time of her death were not made public until 2002; instead, it was widely reported that she died when her oxygen ran out on day six or, as the Soviet government initially claimed, she was euthanized prior to oxygen depletion. It was only in 2008 that Russia unveiled a statue dedicated to Laika.
Apollo, the brave Silent Hero K-9 Dog of 9/11 New York (1992 – 2006)
Apollo and his handler, Peter Davis, were the first K-9 search and rescue team to answer the call on September 11, arriving at the South Tower 15 minutes after its collapse. Apollo Apollo looked for survivors 18 hours a day for weeks on end. It is estimated that more than 300 dogs took part in the search, rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attack and Apollo was one of them. Thanks to his acute senses he helped save the victims from the rubble, sneaking in hard-to-reach places on hearing the very faint cries for help or smelling humans.
Apollo was awarded the Dickin Medal, the animals’ equivalent of the Victoria Cross, in recognition of a work well done.
Dogs are our most capable and strong friends. Cared for and loved they become our most important allies. Until then, they offer us, unconditionally, their intelligence, affection and devotion. Precious gifts!
I don’t know about you, but I wholeheartedly agree with French writer Anatole France believed (and he was correct) that ‘Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.’
Update 🙂 because lovely Sheree commented on the old header photo: it depicts a Staff Sergeant of the Army Service Corps with the Corps pet dogs, Hissy and Jack. And we have Libby Hall, 73, press photographer and dog lover, to thank for it.
Why Is a Cat Not Like a Dog? ~ a poem from a dog’s perspective from the poetry book for animal and nature lovers ‘As Good as Gold‘.
“A cat has a heart-shaped nose above a mouth with piercing teeth, A cat has paws with soft, pink cushions hiding sharp claws beneath, A cat has pointy whiskers, to catch running drops of milk And a tail to play with, a tail that flicks, made of silk.
Why is a cat Like that?
A cat is playful, yet she loves to sleep. A cat drinks milk, but prefers raw meat. A cat will meow and shriek and spit when she’s upset with you, Yet curl and purr so softly, it will lure you into a snooze.
Why does a cat Act like that?
A cat will jump around like she has springs instead of feet, A cat will roam at night, her eyes turn “torches” in a beat. A cat will choose her home and master, it hardly chooses her And if she feels like doing so, you name it, and she’ll do it with a purr.
Why does a cat Act like that?
A cat will watch from high above, and jump upon her prey, She’ll hardly learn a trick or two, yet pantry’s door is play. She’ll never fetch or chew a shoe, She’d rather use her claws To let you know she’s made her mind, A cat will hardly joke.
I guess a cat is just a cat as I’m a dog myself. A cat can’t bark, she’ll spit; She can’t protect a home, like me, she’ll use her claws instead. A cat will lure you off to sleep by purring low and soft, Her body’s reassuring, warm, as I dose off at noon. I guess a cat’s a cat and could be good around the room.
I guess a cat is just like that, She’s different and that Is okay With me.”
The boy broke his run at the entrance to the park and, panting heavily he leaned forward, hands on nobly knees. A trickle of sweat ran down his ripe cheeks; another drop just missed its show, landing in the dirt. The boy watched as his breath stirred the sand at his feet; for an instant, it rolled into tiny balls.
A dog radiating as much heat as the boy, tongue hanging loose, was already there, panting underneath the thick shade on the first tree. The boy’s cheeks were a match for the dog’s exhaustion, hot and red. If one’s shirt was darkened along the middle, at the back, and had dark patches underarms, the other one’s body felt like a well stocked furnace.
“You win again, boy!” the child half croaked, half laughed, stretching to caress his best friend’s head. The fur behind the ears was still soft, like a pups’.
At the water fountain nearby the boy pressed the chrome lever then stepped sideways, allowing his dog to drink first. A red tongue lapped greedily until the dog’s entire head looked like a Christmas tree, a perfect tiny water bauble balancing at the end of each hair. The boy laughed, his lips almost pasted together by the thickness of his saliva. So thirsty! Only when the dog stopped did the boy bent over the cooling spring, yet his eyes remained on the giant fur-ball.
Sparkling and sweet, the water felt like a balm sliding down his burning throat. New life pumped through his body and the boy half closed his eyes, sighing with satisfaction.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw his dog using a front paw, then the other, wiping the water droplets off his fur. In his eagerness he seemed to be dancing. The boy burst in laughter and water splashed all over face and his hair. He laughed further as he drank. And the dog sneezed then surrendered to the shade.
A playful breeze was fanning the leaves overhead. Their rustle had accompanied the two since they woke up that morning. Life was a holiday song. The summer seemed to be stretching endlessly, filled with possibilities. They could do anything they wanted, go any place they wished, and at any time – as long as Mother knew and they returned by supper. After all, it was the first day of summer holiday.
In the shade of the big tree there was a boy, a ball, and, of course, a dog. Quite enough to fill an entire summer with excitement.
The dog’s tail wagged and the boy laughed. Or the boy laughed first, the two were interconnected.
The dog’s eyes followed the boy’s, reading his mind. This was a two way street.
The dog shot up as the boy stepped sideways; the dog’s tail wagged like a helicopter’s blade. The dog’s eyes were focused low, intent on the boy’s foot. The boy’s leg went swinging backwards, then forward, towards the ball. The ball flew off this earth and, at exactly the same time, the dog left the earth too, his body a spring stretching towards the sky.
Ball and dog chased the sun’s rays further and further away. Only one could win this race and both boy and dog knew which one will that be. The boy squinted as a ray of sun forced its way between the thick foliage above.
The tires screeched like a teacher’s chalk on the blackboard, leaving a question in the air – one you did not study for. The noise was out of place in this holiday with a ball, a boy, and a dog. The boy opened his mouth to call, yet he could not remember what words to use so he chocked on air. His legs were moving like they had a mind on their own, sprinting towards the road. All the boy wished for was to have wings to reach it faster.
There was no movement, just a light shadow against the black tar. And the contrast didn’t made sense, light on dark.
The scorching tar smelled of petroleum with a hinge of burned tires.
The dog, his dog, his best friend, lay under the scorching heat. There is shade under the tree, went through the boy’s mind as he circled the area.
First thing he notices were his friend’s eyes, closed. But the chest was moving! Lifting and dropping in sudden jerks. Yet the tail didn’t move when the boy collapsed nearby, senseless to the rough road scraping his bare knees.
No bleeding because his heart is so strong, thought the boy, his hands hovering over the fur, not daring to touch.
It was the first time ever, in eight months since the two were together, that the dog’s tail didn’t wag at the sound of his master’s footsteps. Only a triangle-shaped nose stretched towards the boy’s hand. It was dry and hot against the boy’s wet fingers. The dog licked them, his tongue raspy.
A trickle of sound reached as far as the boy’s ears.
The vet was whispering and his mother was sighing, her eyes red, yet the boy felt no fear of the big words being used: paralytic, quality of life, euthanasia. He knew what he had to do next. He had damaged his dog and somehow he was going to fix him.
All that mattered right now was that his dog was alive. The rest, he’ll figure out, make a plan, like his dad always did. The man with a plan. as his friends called him and always relied on him.
Yes, he’ll make a plan. His dog relied on him.
It’s been an accident, his mother had said. Yet she wouldn’t stop crying, trying to explain to him why his dog, his best friend, had to be put to sleep. Whatever being put to sleep meant.
And why was it that grownups only could decide on behalf of a dog?
Just because his dog couldn’t use his hind legs anymore? Put to sleep? You don’t do that to humans, do you?! You buy them wheels. The mailman had one set with a seat on them and, boy was he fast, delivering newspapers quicker than before his crash. Also a car, an “accident”.
And his grandma had a set of wheels too, with a seat and a frame, for when she went shopping.
People always got things when they got injured.
So he carried his dog home that night, the boy did. He laid him gently on his bed, arranged pillows around so that he won’t roll over and fall, not that his dog could move at all, then he fell asleep in the armchair, next to the bed.
And the next day, while his parents were at work, he carried his dog
into the garage, carefully laying him down on a blanket taken from his
He’d broken his dog and now he was going to fix him.
He always thought of his dad’s garage as of Aladdin’s treasure cave. You were sure to find just what you were looking for – if you only dug deep enough.
So he dug and he thought, all the time talking to his dog, like he always used to. Asking him questions, waiting for a bark in reply, acknowledging his dog’s point of view.
At one stage he stopped and listened. He thought he’d heard his dog’s tail thumping, like it always did when… before… So he popped his head from behind a pile of boxes, the shape of a smile on his face.
Nothing. The tail was as still as it’s been since the dire incident.
Yet the dog’s head cocked to one side, question in his eyes. The boy blinked away a tear.
“So much dust here, boy, it gets in your eyes, you know.”
He knew his first bicycle was still there, somewhere. Found it underneath a pile of old bags. He carried it slowly to where his dog was laying, for a good sniff all over, especially the training wheels.
“We want these, boy! Good boy!” he exclaimed. The tail didn’t wag, but he knew his dog was excited; he could see it in the bright eyes and the tip of those fury ears pointed at the bicycle.
The training wheels, a couple of old copper pipes, some scraps of cloth to cover them with and a wide piece of leather for a comfy seat lay beside the dog. The boy’s heart thumped, pumped up with hope. He’d planned this all last night.
He’ll build his dog a set of wheels. For his hind body and legs, to support them when they will go for walks and, maybe, even runs again.
The summer was not even half way through, it’s end still far out of sight. The days were long and full of exciting, endless possibilities for a dog on wheels and his boy.
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More info on Effect of Pets on Immune Systems:
Does having a pet, or pets, in the home environment as a baby increase the strength of a high-school student’s immune system?
Pets can supply a constant low-dose exposure to microbes that can induce illnesses and therefore increases the strength of a child’s immune system, thus their immune system as a high-school student is stronger than high-school students who did not have pets in their home as children.
To determine whether or not having pets around as a baby increases a high-school student’s immune system.
“In a journal Pediatrics, researchers concluded that exposure to pet dander and microbes that pets carry inside from outdoors can help better develop babies’ immune systems. The immune systems learn from a young age how to protect the body from common allergens, bacteria and viruses.”