Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

Should you choose your dog’s friends?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Probably not. Arranged friendships are fairly perilous.  When I was in primary school, my grandmother had high hopes I’d befriend the children of people she approved of. We both ended up disappointed.

Unsuccessful photo session 1.

Perhaps for similar social, demographic, geographic reasons, we hope our dogs make friends with our friends’ dogs.  That way, everybody can have a good time at summer get togethers.  And the photo ops will be so charming.

Well dream on…  In our house, we have always hoped that Raja and the lovely Coco Bella would hit it off like peas and carrots.  We humans all get along just fine.  At our socials however, Raja and Coco Bella occupy different social strata.

Michelle and I are friends; why can't Bella and Raja just get along?

That’s right.  If he’s on the floor, she hops from couch to table to tuffet to chair, always at least 8 inches above his head.  When she comes down from the heights, he goes up. He even gives up his dinner to her if she even glances at it.  Maintaining distance is everything.

Who is Coco Bella’s special friend?  We don’t know if she has made her choice yet, but Raja’s friend is the lab next door.  Oh yes, they do look like the odd couple.  Ginger’s tall; he’s small.  She walks through puddles and rolls in the mud; he wears boots and outerwear.  She occasionally eats a stone or a bug.  He hardly even eats his food.  She’s submissive; he’s dominant.  What?  Yes, that’s how it goes.  He chooses the route and the pace.  If he barks, she sits.  If he stops, she lies down.  And if I pick him up, she cries at me until I give him back.

"I know who I like and who likes me."

But, hey, they’re happy together and, even though Ginger is six times Raja’s weight, she plays appropriately with him.  He has a strong sense of self preservation and doesn’t choose to hang with a rough crowd, either.  Well, last month he was attacked by a bantam Papillion, but Raja’s hair trigger flinch and sideways hop saved him from the goofy little nipper.  He didn’t really see it coming that time, but the Papillion was incapable of inflicting too much harm at any level.

So this summer at the dog park, as long as your dog seems to be aware of his surroundings and his options and all the dogs seem to be playing nice, you probably shouldn’t try to make your dog be friends with the dogs or people you like.  You choose who you want to hang with and leave that important decision of choosing a best doggy friend to your dog.

Update on Cy: Cy is doing much better.  He has an evaluation for his disk at a sports clinic this weekend as well as an agility session with his teacher.  Cy’s getting back on track!  Thanks to everyone who worried about him!

Tips for Dog Bloggers: Be the Message!

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Keeping it real on a windy, Spring day.

Today, The Disney Channel announced that a new fall 2012 series will feature a dog who blogs.  Announcement Adam Bonnet, Senior Vice president of the Disney Channel says his canine actor can do his own stunts.  Raja applauds authenticity in dog blogging.  He does his own stunts too.
If dog blogging were not a major trend, Disney wouldn’t even consider the topic.  Committed dogs have been barking on the internet for years!  There’s even a yearly convention for dog bloggers, BlogPaws.  The summer convention’s in June, so there’s still time to get in on the fun:  BlogPaws Not sure how to begin?… attend the Pet Writers Conference in New York in February.  Conference
For emergent Disney talent Stan, and for those of you readers who want to encourage your dog to blog, Raja has a few tips…
1. Never blog about what you don’t experience. If you don’t deep sea dive, well, you can’t bark about it, unless you interview a dog who does.  Blog out of the events of your own life and the events that touch your life.
2. Always follow your nose and heart. If a topic grabs your attention, do your research and write about it.  Follow your nose as you wander the  streets and meadows of your world.  But take content seriously.  People are going to believe what you say, so don’t say anything that you have not experienced or have not researched meticulously.  You have a responsibility to be informational, not only opinioned or braggadocios. When we do medical advice, we run our posts past a vet.  But when we do travel, we just tell you want we have seen (refer to point 1.)
4. Create happiness, but don’t try to make everybody happy. Sometimes readers don’t like what you have to say.  Sometimes people wake up on the wrong side of the bed; it’s not your concern. As I tell Raja on our walks, smell the nice things beside the road, not the stinky things.  (True, nice and nasty are subjective; that’s something we debate.)
5. Appreciate your fans and work hard. Oh we do!
Keeping our noses on the scent of our major travel theme, we are scheduled to attend the Canine Performance National Agility Event on June 15-17 in Altamont, New York.  Entries are limited to 575 serious, qualified canine contenders.  Our pal Cy the Shih Tzu will be one of them!  Can’t wait to bark all about it!

New York Fashion Week: Dogs & the Luxe Laboratory

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

New York Fashion Week’s festivities began with a flurry of chichi parties.  As Raja and I see it, the best party happened this past Sunday when The Shabby Dog- a California based company- launched its new Rodeo Drive Collection at Robert Verdi’s Luxe Laboratory in New York’s Fashion District.  Founder and celebrity trainer, Sandy Duvall, her sister Gwen, her staff and their adorable Maltese and Maltipoo pet models were on hand to explain the line and discuss what it means to design from the West Coast. 

As Sandy says, in California the weather is generally warm, so pet clothing is a minimal consideration.  Even though The Shabby Dog has a cuter than cute line of tees and tee dresses, the focus of the new collection is blinged-out leashes, collars and hands free wrist cuffs.  The cuffs (not for the dogs) are wide leather, variously studded, jeweled or adorned with a glam watch.  The leash attaches to the cuff, creating a hands-free, safety- assured link to the leash.  Small purses or shopping satchels also can link to the leash. This could be very helpful when you are shopping on, say, Rodeo Drive and you have so many bags and totes and your phone in one hand and you need your other hand to hold your double yerba mate latte … no worries, Fifi’s still attached.  Or maybe you’re just walking home from the green market and you have lots of stuff and your pet is with you.  Sure makes it easier to search for your house keys. 

Readers, don’t think for one minute that Raja and I are pushing product.  Oh no, we’re talking about the DOG asserting itself in NY Fashion Week.  And it is not the DOG as accessory, but the DOG as fashionista / o.  It’s dressing the dog in ways appropriate to your lifestyle and activities.  So you might say, “Why does a dog need to dress up to shop?”  OK, maybe.  (Look, I never dress up to shop and Raja doesn’t either, but at least we match.) But how lame and mean spirited is it if you dress yourself to the nines and drag Fifi out, grubby and scraggly and badly appointed?  And “NY Fashion Week” might sound awfully superficial, until you consider the close connection between retail sales and New York City’s fiscal health.  The Mid Atlantic region needs New York to thrive big time. 

Back to the Luxe Laboratory, where Raja and I wish we lived now and then.  The venue, styled like a fashion forward apartment, is a party suite for industry events and promotions.  Robert Verdi is a celebrity stylist, party planner, animal lover who welcomed dogs to the Laboratory during Fashion Week (probably he always does).  He is assisted by Winky, his adopted Havanese who, in 18 short months, has learned how to convey the warmth, restraint, modesty and confidence of a true host. 

Check out the Shabby Dog: 

Check out the Luxe Laboratory:

Pet Fashion Week NY 2010: Raja’s Report

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Hi Everyone.  I’m blogging for this topic myself since a dog’s perspective on pet fashion is paramount.  Let me just say, if you call me cute, I’ll wear anything that’s comfortable.  Seriously.  I’ll even wear a dress if you ask me to.  I’ll wear a bustier, if it fits well.  I’ll wear a cancan outfit, as long as it’s well cut.  I really don’t care.  

But I won’t wear a fez.  A fez requires a chin strap and is not comfortable.  I won’t wear high heeled boots.  I’ll refuse to walk.  

So, you get me here… we dogs are compliant and willing and we always aim to please and, as long as the pet outfits and pet costumes don’t stop us from being ourselves, we’ll go along.  In cold weather I love a nice sweater or a well cut coat.  I even like a little knit hat when I go skiing because I lose a lot of heat through my big brachiocephalic head.  And since I’m skinny, I confess I actually prefer a tee shirt on cold winter nights. 

Last weekend, I visited the 4th annual New York Pet Fashion Week Trade Show Event at the Metropolitan Pavilion.  The program was supported by major pet businesses like Modern Dog, Fido Friendly, Pet Elite, Ceasar’s Way, Bow Tie Press and Pet Business and featured some charming newcomers as sponsors including PetsAreOK, a new Miami based pet life style magazine.  As pet events go, this one was pretty posh.  There were no metal feed bowls or “kennel accessories.”  It was all swanky stuff.  And fantastic stuff too- like pet hair spray in colors in case you want me to look more like a tiger than a Shih Tzu.  (Sure, why not?)  São Paulo, Brazil and Tokyo, Japan previously hosted Pet Fashion Events and the famous bejeweled and gilded Fairytale Jacket by the design house Manfred of Sweden was on display.  (Manfred forgot to ask me to try it on.  But I think it might have been too heavy for me.) 

I liked everything I saw, except for the real animal fur pet carry bags for upscale traveling and shopping. If I were in one of those I’d be completely nervous. 

Attending the event, besides human people, were many of New York’s dog elite.  I don’t know who they were, but they certainly looked elite in their frothy summer dresses and bad boy tee shirts.  Once Chihuahua even came with his bike.  Another Chihuahua seemed to come by himself and he paraded all over the show on his own.  He must be a very important dog!  Everybody behaved beautifully for the most part.  One Min Pin had some harsh things to say to a Pit Bull who was up for adoption, but the Pit minded his P’s and Q’s.  I hope he found a good home at the end of the day.  I came wearing just my fur since it was a hot day.  Perhaps that was gauche.  What do you think?  Was it wrong to go to a pet fashion event in naked fur?

The Stay at Home Cats of Summer

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Our blog takes it energy from the nomadic willingness of dogs to trot about in the big wide world.  Taking Raja anywhere is absurdly simple…  Put his little feet on the trail and he’s off.  OK, that’s a dog for you. 

And then there’s the cat.  Some cats travel well, but they are the exceptional cats.  Almost all cats are very happy staying at home, sitting in a comfortable chair, reading blogs like and watching squirrels out the window- harmless dreams of vivisection.   When you travel, cats wave bye-bye and take over your bed pillow.  When you return- after a few hours of the cold, furry shoulder- they’ll take you back.   

Maybe this summer you want to adopt a cat?  We MEAN it.  Cats are ubiquitous in summer just like, um, pumpkins in Fall and tulips in Spring.  But unlike pumpkins and tulips, cats are sentient beings with real, furry, needy little souls and, in summer, the shelters fill up with them.  

Here’s a common tragic story:

In Ewing, New Jersey, 17 lovely cats need homes or they will be euthanized.  I bet this situation also exists in your home towns all over the world now (except for readers in the Southern Hemisphere, but, just wait a few months, and the problem will appear). 

If you need an animal to keep the home fires burning (not literally) while you globe trot, a cat does the trick.  Dogs are horrible at that skill. They howl and claw the rugs and sicken.  Won’t it be nice for you and your dog to return home with sand in your paws, toting a bag of saltwater taffy and a new refrigerator magnet, to a cozy cat interested in hearing about your adventures, actually happy to see your slides and completely grateful you did not take her? 

Raja and I hope to support our friends the cats this summer and, especially for those of you in New Jersey, we hope you might spread the world about the precarious cats of Ewing.

Raja and Roses in Portland

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Usually when we’re in Portland, Raja and I visit friends or hike or visit a nursery (it’s the seed and plant capital of the USA) or shop the Pearl.  But this time, with limited time and taking advantage of finally being in Portland at the right time of the year… we visited the …

International Rose Test Garden

The oldest garden of its kind in the USA, the test gardens are public and, yes, dogs are actually allowed to trot about throughout all five acres.  There are roses the size of a dime (really) and roses bigger than Raja’s head…. Antique roses, primitive roses, hybrid teas, climbing monsters and long stemmed American Beauties.  And the history of the garden is tied in to the history of America and its international relations.  In the late 1800’s, the rose exhibition was a private event for Portland’s moneyed society to show off their flowers (and clothes and marriageable children).  The test garden was established in 1917 and became immediately internationally relevant when famous gardens all over Europe sent rose varieties there to be sheltered from the ravages of WWI.  Portland high society still distinguishes itself by becoming knights and dames of the fictional land of roses, Rosaria.  But everybody, can enjoy the gardens, and there have been more marriage proposals per square foot there than under Eiffel Tower.  

While Raja was not asked to be a Royal Dog of Rosaria, he honestly didn’t mind since he, and many other dogs of Portland, were having a beautiful stroll on rose petals and soft grass.  A leash is required, but I think it’s primarily to protect the dogs.  Some of those roses have appalling thorns.  But all are gorgeous.  If you come from the hot and humid regions of the US, you probably think that Japanese beetle-nibbled runt hanging off the side of that black and thorny stick in your garden is a rose.  You have been misled.  Go to Portland to see what a rose is all about. 

In many parts of the world a garden this glorious and this well manicured might be off limits to dogs, wrong as that idea seems.  So, if you are in Portland, Oregon in June, take Fluffy and Fido to the International Rose Test gardens, conveniently located near downtown at 400 SW Kensington St.    Admission is free!

Poor Little Rich Dog

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Have you read the recent Wall Street Journal news feature about late Miami heiress Gail Posner (a daughter of the corporate takeover magician Victor Posner), her lucky (possibly scheming) servants, her criminal son (Brett Carr) and her poor little rich Chihuahua, Conchita?  Seems Gail Posner left her estate to her dog and his caretakers.  Her son is cut off.  Reading his history of smarmy crimes, it’s easy to see why he’s on the outs and Cochita is the favorite child.  

Given the fact that the thimble sized dog is now the owner of numerous vehicles, a mansion, various diamond ornaments and mini-wigs and is the mistress of all she surveys- including servants who have each inherited several million- we can imagine that she’s in a very precarious position.  “Toss the mutt and we’ll have it all,” says the Butler to the Upstairs Maid.  “You’ll look great in her tiaras because you also have a tiny little head.” 

Why do people do things like this?… well because nobody loves you as much as your dog, ever.  But seriously, why do people do things like this?  On the good side, there are few people this rich and this imbalanced in the world.  On the bad side, the wealth distribution solution is flawed.  Giving Conchita to a gentle, level headed person who values a pet and willing all the estate to charity would have made for happiness in all the right places.  As it is, a few charities benefit somewhat, the son is wasting the court’s time (he’s wasted enough already), and Conchita’s diminutive neck is safe only for as long as the trial lasts.  Poor Conchita! 

Aren’t you glad you’re relatively poor and relatively sane? 

Some updates: 

Rufus the Pekingese has not yet been recovered, so please keep an eye open if you are involved with rescue dogs from Florida.  Please comment in should you have any leads.  We’d love to see him get back home.

May thanks to Buttercup for sharing her story and inspiring readers to be proactive about canine heart health.  

Raja and I are off to have some adventures…….

Oh…. you can read the full story of Conchita here, but my version’s better: