Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dog as Family too

More and more, you see how people's idea of family extends to their pets. like this article about how 3 dogs were left a home and money to take care of themselves. I think it's great to see how people care more for their pets every day. The love and devotion that pets give to their family should be returned.

Have a happy new year.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

holiday jack

holiday jack, originally uploaded by phaird.

I know it's been a while since I added anything but it's that crazy time of year so I haven't been to the park in a while. There was a few new dog owners today too. It's great how much word of mouth brings people out.

I hope everyone remembers their pets this holiday.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dogs as family

Progressive Insurance has been promoting pet insurance for drivers. It is included with their collision insurance which is a really great way of including your pet as a family member. The more this kind of inclusion into the whole family process, the easier it will be for pet owners. A supply and demand issue. The more pets are included into insurance, the easier it is to keep our family pet safe and healthy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

About the Acton town meeting

Dec 4 was the meeting to "discuss dog control concerns at Great Hill Soccer Field". I'm happy to say that it was a very productive meeting with the Recreation Commission and those representing the side of those who can't speak from them selves were out in force.

The concerns were the basic things that all places where dogs and people meet are. Poop and safety. Those who use the field for soccer and those who use the field for their dogs both have equal concerns about the other. It became clear that the Recreation Commission were trying very hard to make everyone happy. I think the commission did a very good job of listening to everyones concerns and keeping a good perspective of how the field is used by everyone.

What made me very excited was that the town of Acton would consider creating a independent dog park. The idea is just that; an idea, but just knowing that they would consider bringing it up and ask the community about things that make for a good dog park is a huge step forward in a State that is pretty low on dog friendly places.

I really hope this leads to some very constructive conversations on how to support not only the dog community but the entire community that loves out door spaces.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Winter is coming

nanka with winter coat, originally uploaded by phaird.

There was a real energy at the park this week. All the dogs were really going crazy. It may be that they knew that the first snow was about to fall in a few hours or the chill in the air just made them want to run but something was up. Some were thriving off of the energy while others were staying close to home (the parent). Even my dog Toby was looking for me the whole day. He would run off then run back and jump up on me to let me know we were okay.

It is a beautiful moment when humans and animals can feel that energy. Even those people I talked with said they could feel the energy the dogs were giving off. Much like wanting to know what our dogs are thinking, this was a moment where we got a little peak.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Acton park town meeting

I wanted to give a heads up to users of the Acton park Great Hill. This is the soccer field behind the South Acton Fire Station. A notice was posted to "discuss dog control concerns". I contacted the park to ask if you had to be an Acton resident and she said "NO". Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. I will be there and I hope that if we could get 20 percent of the Sunday group to show up we would have a very busy room. Please make the time to express how important the use of this field is.

I have to say that of all the parks I've been to in the last 6 months, this park is the nicest. The people are very consistent and the majority of people pick up and look after their dogs.

You can email the Acton Recreation department for further info at

Monday, November 26, 2007

dog park community

sheltie, originally uploaded by phaird.

I'm wondering what non-dog owners think about dog parks. My first impression about bringing my dog, Toby, to the park was to let him get some exercise. What I've come to learn with coming on a schedule to the park is that dogs have friends. They show up and get so excited when they see dogs they know. The run and play, bark and wrestle. Some prefer seeing their favorite humans (usually the ones with treats in their pockets). Others just wonder around and watch. They join into races and then head back to their owners as a safe zone. Everyone, dogs and humans always get a kick out of the park though. For me it's a highlight of my week.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Scout, originally uploaded by phaird.

It's been a crazy week. Last weekend we did our first official interview with Scout's family. Scout has a younger brother Fenway who is learning to adjust to his new family and coming to the park with all the bigger dogs.

Both Scout and Fenway have a amazing story that we hope to publish in the book. The couldn't have been luckier dogs to be adopted by such a caring family. It takes a lot to accept an animal into your home when they have physical and emotional scars like both Scout and Fenway has.

During the interview. One moment had me laughing so hard. Evy and Paul were talking about when they were first discussing the option of adopting Scout. Paul went down the list of issues; No fence, really busy schedules, how would we manage his care, and other lists if concerns. Evy's concern was what name to give Scout.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dusty with ball

Dusty with ball, originally uploaded by phaird.

Dusty is one of those high spirited dogs that will just go and go. He's an older but that won't stop him. He's smart about his play time though. He only wants you to kick the ball instead of throwing it so it won't go as far and when he gets tired, he'll drop it far away or hold on to it for a while. I've been getting to know Dusty and his family these past few weeks and each one has a great rescue story.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy halloween

happy halloween, originally uploaded by phaird.

hope everyone got to spend a happy and safe halloween with your family. See you at the park.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bruin chasing shadows

Bruin chasing shadows, originally uploaded by phaird.

Bruin is a dog everyone could love from afar but only a mother could truly love. I've taken other photos of Bruin when he's in the pond trying to bite the splashes that he makes. I learned this weekend that he also likes to chase his shadow. Not just his but any shadow. While at the park a group of us were enjoying watching him as I would swing my hand around to let him go after my hands shadow. Then, after talking to Bruins mom is hearing the darker side of it. Bruin will also run though walls chasing shadows. She says Bruin has left some good size holes in her dry wall because of shadows in the house. Ya know he's just being playful but a big guy like Bruin can really create havoc. For all the joy Bruin brings to everyone at the park, we really appreciate owners who give up so much for their dogs.

Monday, October 22, 2007


sitting, originally uploaded by phaird.

I love this old guy. He's a staple at the park on Sunday and always seems to find me when I arrive. I'm not sure if he love me and my camera or just my dog Toby. He's another older dog who makes his rounds but never gets too excited. He doesn't like dogs running up to him so he'll growl and sound tough but everyone knows he's a sweet guy who just needs his space.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Boston's newest dog park

The Friends of Peters Park have put together a brand new dog park in Boston. If I'm right, it is Boston's first official dog park. The space was originally for dogs but it has been completely re-designed by Architect David Hacin. I'm really looking forward to seeing the new design and I know my dog Toby is going to be excited too.

When I was living in Watertown and I asked about a dog park, no one wanted to hear about it because all they thought a dog park could be is a smelly sand pit with lots of poop everywhere. I hope that other MA towns look at what Boston is doing, with the hard work and support of it's residents, and do more of the same.

You can read more about it on

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Being a regular visitor

Kicking the ball, originally uploaded by phaird.

I'm always looking forward to my Sunday in the park. There are always so many people there and the dogs have the best time. Every week there are a small group of people who I see every week. Others come every so often but no matter what, a nice day will bring out a lot of people. When I first started coming and talking to people, I was told that as much as 70 dogs were counted on a busy Sunday. What would be surprising to people who don't own dogs, is that there is very little conflict. When ever there is a scrap between dogs, it is over as fast as it starts and no dog or human gets hurt. Every owner I've met tries to be mindful of their dogs but still let them run and play. I wish everyday could be Sunday at the park.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Oscar living with cancer

Oscar with owner, originally uploaded by phaird.

Today was the first day I got to meet Oscar. He's a 3 year old Golden Retriever who is dealing with cancer of the bone. It broke my heart hearing about how such a friendly loving dog will have his life cut short and all the options are so bleak.

Oscar is a lucky dog for having a family that loves him so much though. We talked about Oscar’s options and being they have little advantages, they're doing what they can to keep him healthy and happy. With lots of love and being aware of his pain, Oscar will get to live out his days surrounded by love. That is something we all want.

I've read about a few different dog bloggers who have lost a pet lately. My good friend, Jeremy, lost his dog of 16 years. It could just be the onset of winter or just the cycle of life but meeting Oscar made me hold my dog a little closer today to appreciate each day that we are together.

Oscar’s owner put it well by saying the hardest part of owning a dog is loving them so much. My heart goes out to Oscar and feel blessed that I got to meet him.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Marty the beagle

Marty the beagle, originally uploaded by phaird.

Well, I'm back out and about. I've been really busy with our new baby Geoffrey but the whole family made it out to Acton park this Sunday. We go there a little late but still, a lot of dogs and families were out.

Being the first day of fall, I'm hoping to get out as much as possible to get more pictures and talk to folks as the season change. We're moving forward on our book and looking to get some stories together soon. There are so many great dogs and owners we've met and we want to get some of that down on paper.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dog is Co-Pilot

I have not been able to get Chagall to Beaver Brook very often recently, due to my schedule. However, it is always a delight to drive there when I do get the opportunity. Whether I take Beaver Street to Waverly Oaks Road or Trapelo Road to Waverly, the view is incredibly entertaining.

Most of the cars lined up in traffic have one or two extremely eager canines riding shotgun or taking up the whole back of the vehicle. As the park gets in sight and smell you can see the cars swaying as the dogs jump throughout the rows of seats. Often barking or whining accompanies the laps.

I have to explain to Chagall that yes we are going to the park. And if I use that word "P-A-R-K", I had better mean it.

Animal lovers have always put their pets in a position of adoration and importance. The fact that you see more and more humans with their dogs riding in the passenger seat or blissfully hanging their heads out a side window to enjoy the cooling breeze brings the point home.

I certainly get a lot of double takes at lights and chuckles nearly 100 percent of the time when people see Chagall sitting at attention in the seat beside me. He looks so serious. The best co-pilot I've ever had!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cover Your Mouth

As I was parking my car in the lot at the Paine Estate in Waltham recently - with my play group - there was a sign in fluorescent orange at one of the trailheads. I stopped and carefully read the warning.

Someone had taken great care to write up a very helpful notice telling people that a dog with "kennel cough" had been walked in these woods and some other animals had gotten infected. It is definitely a highly contagious upper respiratory condition and I appreciated the heads-up.

It is an airborne virus, however in open space like these trails of the Storer Conservation Area the most likely transmission is by drinking out of the same water bowl or very close facial contact through playing. This according to a vet tech I happened upon while she was walking her pooch.

Unfortunately I had previously seen some dogs, in addition to a few of mine, drinking from a couple of communal bowls placed near trees along the wooded trails. There were jugs of fresh waer alongside the bowls. A gesture of compassion and care for the dogs during the summer's hot stretches. The thoughtfulness may have backfired though.

In my case I am happy to report that the contagion has not infiltrated any of my ranks or those of my familiar's.

I ran into two of my favorite other mixed breed male dogs on the trail the other day - Higgins and Ozzie. They were happy and healthy too. My gang just had some good, clean macho fun with the two big guys.

I haven't run into some other of my group's pals recently like Bob and his "wee lad" Devlin, the Westhighland Terrier or the former show dog Debbie, a Miniature Poodle. I hope they are happy and cough-free.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Skunk 101

It serves me right. No more than a few weeks ago I was gloating to people that my 7-plus-year-old dog Chagall had never had the stinkiest encounter possible...with a skunk.
Well, let me set the scene...

When I first moved in to the third floor of this wonderful old house in Watertown, it was early summer of '06. Chagall and I quickly got into the habit of going out the back door and into the fenced-in rectangular backyard just prior to bedtime.
My pup loves to explore the day's accumulation of smells before emptying himself out and curling up in bed with me for the night. Within a few weeks we became aware of a nocturnal yard companion. As I opened the back door one night, with the light from the kitchen illuminating about one-third of the yard, and only the screen door between us, I caught a glimpse of that distinctive black-and-white-striped critter. I slammed the door just as Chagall recognized the intruder.
Ever since that close call, I check the part of the yard that I can see before letting him out. There is a very bushy, heavily-treed large section to the right that is pitch black.
Now you've got the picture.

Last week Chagall and I got home very late one night. Rather than go up to the third floor and come all the way back down in a short period of time, I just let Chagall out back to do his business after a quick glance for anything unwelcome.

I puttered inside the house for 5 to 10 minutes so my dog could get his final fill for the night. All of a sudden I heard his "I thought I saw a puty tat. I did. I did." bark. (He teases my mother's cat, Princess, with it every weekend.) I opened the back door and ran down the steps. Chagall came flying around the corner shaking his head violently from side-to-side. It was either a skunk or a porcupine. When he got a little closer there was no doubt.

I ran back in the house and slammed the door on my poor stinky boy. I went into a dead sprint for paper towels and the old standby tomato juice. I knocked on my landlords' bedroom door to alert them to my crisis. Luckily there was some V8 juice in their frig.

When I finally got really close to Chagall and started the decontamination process, I was surprised by the slight sweetness of the smell on my dog's fur. It was far different than the stench overpowering the air.

Several tomato juice dousings later we went to sleep. An old sheet and towel on my bed. An embarrassed and agitated puppy and a tired owner. By that point the smell was negligible, but by noon the next day it was back strongly on the top of Chagall's wrinkled head.

My landlord has, with the greatest possible affection, renamed my baby "Skunk Blossum." Sounds and smells right to me.

Even after using some over-the-counter "skunk be gone" products lent to me by friends and the formula for a magical removal elixir - hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, vinegar and water - there is still that "Pig Pen" cloud over Chagall's head. I've always heard that the smell lingers, particularly on rainy days, for three to six months.

Doesn't it just figure that after all the years of trips deep in the woods and to dog parks, that my baby boy would get outwitted by a skunk on his own turf.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Vet Extraordinaire

We have been very lucky - Chagall and I. When we lived in Central Mass., when I first got my boy, I found a terrific vet. Then when Chagall broke his paw as a six-month-old we were referred to a VCA animal hospital where the surgery could be performed. We stayed with that vet in Northboro until a couple of years ago.

Since moving to Belmont and then Watertown I knew I was going to have to find a closer vet. On a day when Chagall nearly impaled himself on a jagged tree branch at Beaver Brook, my hand was forced. Some dog owners who witnessed my dog's accident unanimously recommended the Kindness Animal Hospital on Linden Street in Waltham. More specifically, everyone just gushed about Dr. Susan Rosenblatt.

Everything they said is true, and more. Since performing emergency surgery on my poor pup's torn-open chest, she has been nothing but compassionate, friendly, professional and thorough. She also has the empathy of a doctor making house calls.

No matter what health crisis or questions I have directed at Dr. Rosenblatt, she has dealt with my dog and me in the most gracious, effective and efficient manner possible. Just Google Dr. Susan Rosenblatt and five-star ratings come up. She has also appeared several times on Channel 7's series "Protecting Your Pets".

Also, the vet techs and office staff couldn't be more knowledgeable and cordial. And late last year Dr. Patrick Hallisey was added as a second vet. He, too, lives up to the Kindness standard.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Big News - Off Topic

Geoffrey in my arm, originally uploaded by phaird.

Ok, you're right, this isn't my dog. It's my new boy, Geoffrey. He was born today at 7:30pm. So if I don't make it to the park for a week or two, you'll just have to forgive me. We'll all make it there soon. I made sure to bring home that little hat for Toby to sniff. He was so good and waited at home ALL DAY without an accident.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Scout getting some love

Scout getting some love, originally uploaded by phaird.

Scout is another rescue with a good story and a great happy ending. Like many owners, they don't know what happened to Scout but he did come with his share of issues. They think that he may have been hit by a car because when he was brought to the shelter, he had wiring done inside his mouth. When that was taken out he still had all kinds of issues and after removing seven teeth, he is now doing just fine.

Scout is another of so many dogs that come from down south where some people consider dogs either just an appliance that they can use for a few years but if it has problems or starts to get old, they go get another younger, cuter dog. As many of us who venture to the parks know, there are a lot of rescues out there that are great dogs and will return love ten times as much as it is given. Scout is one of those dog.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Always Welcome

We are definitely heading towards the final gasps of summer - chronologically and meteorologically. For our dogs this turned corner has brought comfort and joy. Swimming can now be just for fun and not for sheer survival in the recent sweltering heat.

Chagall and I returned to the Acton park this past weekend. There were even more new friends than last time. It took almost 15 minutes to get from the parking lot to the main gathering area by the lily pond. Chagall sniffed every inch and was greeted with great excitement by all departing canines and onlookers.

As we joined the main fray two sibling black labs zig-zagged across the field after taking a dip and emerging with a shared prize - a large branch. We were also herded by two mini Aussie Shepherds and loudly greeted by chihuahuas and Puerto Rican street dogs.

Chagall and I were warmly embraced at our new hangout. We can't get there often enough to suit either one of us. This weekend's weather does not look particularly cooperative. If we don't get there we will miss seeing Hunter, Twinkie, Maui, Bean, Scout, Nanka, Theo and all the rest of the South Acton pack.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Favorite dog parks?

I was going through the comments today and noticed someone asked about where the Acton dog park is that was in the Beacon Villager paper. I don't think she was trying to keep it hidden. It is behind the Acton fire station on School St. It's a short walk away from the S. Acton T stop. The "official time" that people go there are on Sundays at 10am.

There is also this long (but incomplete) list of dog friendly parks around MA. I've been trying to get to different parks in the area and talk to people about their parks but my time is a little limited with our first baby on the way.

If you know of a good dog park that you think I should visit, please let me know. My friend in CA told me about Point Isabel in the east bay but it's a little far for me to travel right now. What is your favorite park?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Toby at Stow's Park

Toby at Stow's Park, originally uploaded by phaird.

We took a quick trip to the Delaney Park in Stow today. It was really windy and cool. A really nice fall kinda day in the middle of the summer. There was lots of dogs with their walkers but it not any big groups of dogs playing together. Toby is a ball chaser so he didn't really get as much out of the walk as I did. He just kept waiting for me to toss the ball.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dog Paintings

My friends at the Pepper Gallery in Boston are putting on a show of Katy Schneider's showing these great paintings from Once I Ate a Pie. These paintings are part of a larger book project which focuses on dogs. A great show to check out for both dog are art lovers alike.

From the website "As in all her work, we see Schneider's extraordinary ability to capture the immediacy of man's best friend and his surroundings in a way that offers an intimate and personal interpretation of the story being told."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

In the Newz

WOW, we're becoming famous. I was interviewed by the Beacon-Villager last Sunday and it was in their paper today. I'm really excited about it because it's another step in the right direction toward making the book real. Check out the link and let me know what you think. We're getting to the point where we can start following some dogs around and getting more detailed stories. It's a pretty exciting times. Thanks for everyones support.

A Canine Therapist

I can't walk through the lobby at my mother's apartment building with Chagall. Every person wants to speak to and pat my boy. He swings that tail and greets all who approach and any new face. As he has matured and mellowed Chagall has developed into quite a therapy dog. We are not officially affiliated with any of those wonderful organizations, like Caring Canines, but Chagall is certainly playing the role perfectly.

There is a lovely little lady who calls my dog Boots in memory of her beloved animal. Every time she sees Chagall the biggest smile takes over her whole being as the memories come rushing in.
Her dog got his name because of his white feet. I call Chagall's four white paws "spatz". Coupled with his white chest he has a tuxedo on at all times.

A wheelchair-bound young man who lives on my mother's floor has also formed a special relationship with Chagall. He is clearly afraid of dogs, but is working bravely to overcome it by befriending my pup. He always calls out Chagall's name when he spots us. While on leash I have Chagall go and sit beside him. The young man appropriately extends his hand to be sniffed and then gives a few quick pats. A triumph!

During the week Chagall takes his job as pack leader of my dog walking group very seriously. It is a great source of pride. At the end of every day he is satisfied and tired. Well done. It is great that during the weekend he can continue performing a service for my mom's neighbors.

I am so glad that I can give him a life filled with love and purpose. He reciprocates in every way, every day!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hunter giving paw

Hunter giving paw, originally uploaded by phaird.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Shang - Ruff - La

Last Sunday, the most beautiful day in a long time, we made our first visit to Acton Park. What a great spot for both species - humans and canines. My photographer friend had been strongly encouraging me to visit and boy was he right.

The most friendly and well-behaved dogs were gathered at this slice of heaven.

The labs and retreivers were streaking across the field and launching themselves into the lily pond. Several puppies were being thoroughly examined and exercised - just gentle friendliness.

The herding dogs - Australian shepherds and border collies among others - were vocally objecting to the lack of symmetry of the park's pack. Their protestations were heeded for a few minutes here and there.

Hunter, "a purebred exotic Bahamian kitchen sink dog" the color of a fox, was a particularly popular and joyful creature. The five-plus-year-old pooch and his much-smaller mixed breed sib, Twinkie, were non-stop adventurerers. He has mellowed, according to his owner. In his youth, Hunter was "a surface-to-air missile," causing many a black eye.

Another cutie pie, Scout, was a later arrival. The basset hound/beagle mix was a rescue from Virginia. The Sterling (Mass.) dog shelter takes in dogs from the south regularly. The owner's wife, a vet, first noticed the newest family member when she was participating in a spay and neutering clinic.

What a lucky family and animal to have found each other. Scout was in the shelter for a month unclaimed and has now been in his new home for six months. He had eight wires in his jaw and had seven teeth extracted. Poor thing had clearly been through a lot. What a happy ending. During this day's visit, he was seducing adults and children alike. Giving back for all that he is receiving.

And then there was Nanka, a five-year-old male Keeshond. He had gotten his summer 'do. More of a thinning to show his very light gray undercoat, instead of a dark gray to black-tipped top. His devoted owner keeps this cut from May to October - done every six weeks. Nanka seemed very proud of and comfortable with his look.

When I first saw him, I thought he was a puppy because of his cute almost black baby face (raccoon-like) and lovely disposition. Just a big beautiful fluff ball. It was a breed that I have not commonly seen, but have been exposed to only through televised dog shows.

Keeshonds were bred to be guard dogs on Dutch barges. Nanka's genetics have given him keen ears and the instinct to react swiftly to any noise. But first and foremost his owner said he is just a really good pet.

Chagall and I really enjoyed our outing and look forward to many more.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Cuckoo for Cat Rock

It is a dog walking place ironically named Cat Rock. What a haven for canines and their owners and caretakers.

On any given day small and large packs converge on the idyllic pond equidistantly located among the trails. As you head down the main trail towards the watery target, barking and yelping can clearly be heard in the distance.

My dog, Chagall, ever the aloof mature alpha male - or so he pretends - does not hasten his pace as we round the bend...the beach in our sites. He is not fooling anyone. When we get there and see 20-plus dogs of every shape, size, color and age, all his sophistication is dropped.

Chagall, always the sheriff, is vigilant in his maintenance of order. Good luck on a beautiful summer day at the "beach" with tons of fun-loving "kids", my sweet boy. After futile horizontal pursuit through the water of any derelicts for more than 20 minutes, Chagall succumbed to the allure.

He regrouped and waded so that the cool, clean water gently caressed his underbelly, occasionally splashing onto his back. No actual swimming for my young man. Never has, never will. Ultimately Chagall glides over to the corner near the shore that is somewhat shaded by trees. Other black and/or older dogs join him. The main group, however, pursues ball after ball or stick, scuba dives for rocks or wrestles.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Rental Pet?

Dogs as a rental option. It might be great while the dog is young and healthy but I wonder what the life of the dog will be when it gets old or sick. I love my dog even when he gets sick. I'll be optamistic for now but if a company wants to cut corners, will be at the expense of the dog?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Theo the deaf Pit Bull

deaf dog Theo, originally uploaded by phaird.

I got to meet Theo for the first time today in the Acton Park. When I first saw him he was moving a little slow and I knew he was older but something else too. He was very intent on watching everything and didn't interact much. With all the younger dogs running around and playing, Theo was slowly just making the rounds. I found out from others in the park that Theo was totally deaf. His owner says his sight isn't so good either.

Theo was one of the friendliest dogs I met today though. I would just crouch down and he'd back on in to get his back scratched. I think it's in part of being older and being so hot. Theo was adopted and I asked if he was ever a fighting dog (because of the ears are clipped). She said that he has never shown any signs of aggression.

There are all kinds of dog owners out there. Some want something that they can buy and become an accessory to their life. The other side of that is those who see the individual in a dog that deserves a good home and a real family. Theo is another beautiful example of a rescue dog that has been given a second chance and a comfortable life. I'm not sure what his life was before, just like I don't know what my dog Toby's life was like. All we can do is offer them a good home with lots of love because every dog deserves a good home.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A dog that really cares

Here is a cute story of a dog that nurses a kitten back to health. That's why dogs rule!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

twinkie at Acton park

twinkie waiting for treat, originally uploaded by phaird.

Wow, back at Acton park and SO many people were there. 10am on Sunday is the time that every dog owner in the area shows up with at least one dog. Many have more. Like Twinkie and Hunter (brown dog in the background) are with their owner, a regular on Sundays. I was told that as much as 70 dogs have been counted on one Sunday morning.

Some nice things about this park is location, a wide open space, and water to let the dogs swim. The best thing though is that there are lots of regulars who come every week. People really get to know each other and their dogs. One woman I talked to said she's been bringing her dogs to the park for 7 years. That is a real clear sense of community there. Everyone knew everyone, and even the dogs knew each other.

The most amazing thing that happened was when a puppy arrived. A 3 month old lab showed up and everyone, dogs and humans were all excited. But Hunter didn't want the puppy jumping on him so he gave the puppy a scare. The puppy, being a puppy, ran off yelping back to his owner. The amazing thing that happened next was that almost every dog in the park came to the puppy to see what had happened. Like a pack that all knew and cared about each other, they wanted to know what the problem was. After a moment, they were all back to playing and running but that bonding that these dogs have is pretty amazing to me.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Tyson brings neighbors together

Tyson in grass, originally uploaded by phaird.

So I'm getting a little off topic today and not focusing on parks, just dogs. As dog lovers, we all know how important our dog is to our family and how more then ever, dogs are thought of as one of the family. I feel part of that is our greater awareness of life that we have. The reason I think of it today though is because of my father-in-law, Bill and his little rat terrier, Tyson. Bill has loved dogs for a very long time and was looking forward to retiring in a few years to be able to get a dog. His wife (my mother-in-law) Judy didn't really care for dogs. Not until she met our dog Toby. She fell head over heals for our little guy. It didn't take long for them to decide that they wanted one of their own.

Now they have there little boy Tyson. He has brought all kinds of love and adventure to there lives. What he also brought was a sense of community. Since they moved into their house, the hadn't known anyone but there immediate neighbors. After getting Tyson though they have been meeting and becoming friends with people all around the area. As far as Bill and Tyson want to walk they, have met all kinds of people they would never had a chance to meet. All the kids in the area know Tyson and yell out his name when ever they see him. Other dog owners stop and talk. They could spend all day visiting with all these people. People they would never had known had it not been for there pint size little guy. Good boy Tyson.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Puppy Love

Every time I see a mixed breed dog at Beaver Brook... like Andy, Ralph's Puerto Rican street dog, I think about my Chagall's rescue story.

About seven years ago I was on the board of directors at a Central Mass. no-kill shelter named Dog Orphans. My elderly mother and I had begun to think about getting a tiny dog for her. Something that could be litter box-trained -- chihuahua, etc.

When we visited the facility, around my mom's birthday, it was love immediately. We saw this striking and charismatic mostly black, with white chest and paws, puppy wooing us through his enclosure. Despite a large group in the waiting area, Lucky - named by the shelter's workers - within minutes saw no one in the room except for my mom and me. When we heard his story it just cemented the deal.

This gorgeous three-month-old had been found in a box, with his littermates, along a very busy roadway by a good samaritan. This caring women was only able to save half of the six-puppy litter. Traffic had tragically taken the lives of the others. She placed two of the dogs, but kept the adorable male puppy that would soon be Chagall. The other members of her animal household rejected the youngster when she brought him home and she was forced to put him up for adoption. Enter my mother and me not more than a day or two later.

I have had many life-altering introductions, adventures, moments... but the day I brought Chagall home certainly takes a back-seat to no one and no thing!!!

That is certainly part of why I enjoy taking the big guy to the P-A-R-K as often as a chaotic human life permits. We saw some of our favorite play pals the other day -- Harper, Andre, Chewie, Riley, and Cody. Riley has got a new brother, 10-week-old apricot cockapoo Odie. He is already fearless and squeezable.

Happy scooping and we'll see you at the park...

Entering Delaney Park

Entering Stow Park, originally uploaded by phaird.

We hand an exciting adventure to Stow's Delaney Park. Very dog friendly and on a beautiful day. A little confusing to get to the first time but worth it. Unlike Waverly (Beaver brook), it is more of a walk and hike kind of park. There isn't an open field where people hang out and watch there dogs. As a photographer, I want that kind of interaction but the walk was really great. We saw a lot of dogs running around. Since my wife is 7 months pregnant, we took it slow but she really liked getting out of the house. We must have gotten there early because as we were leaving, the parking lot was packed and a large group of walkers came in with their dogs. I want to go back again this weekend and explore more of the trails. Got to remember to bring water for Toby. There is a lake there but he may need it while out in the woods.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Nursing Homes for Dogs

Oh yea. It had to happen. Read this artical about how dogs are treated in Japan.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Andre and Rudy playing

Back again to Waverly (Beaver Brook) where I finally got to meet Andre. A beautiful Great Dane puppy. At 4 months, he's already pushing 60 Lbs and should get to be around 180 when full grown. Still tripping over his own feet and eager to play with everyone. He thinks he's still a small puppy but he is about the same size as most of the full grown dogs at this point. I hope I'll get to see more of Andre and document his progress. Here he and Rudy decided to play where I was standing. I had to step back but it was easy to get a lot of close up shots.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Back at Beaver Brook

So good at waiting, originally uploaded by phaird.

I finally got back to Beaver Brook yesterday. It was a hot and muggy day but that didn't stop people from coming out. Summit was so good and loved to play and fetch. The best part though was hearing about how her owner would tell stories using all the words she knows. They were so funny. Something along the lines of " The trip to the PARK the COOKIE tree would GET THE BALL..." I love stories made up like that.

It was good to see other dog lovers hanging out and socializing. I was really glad to be out with my cameras taking pictures again. I hope to get back there next weekend too. The sooner the better.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Beaver Brook Dog Show

It was like an impromptu dog show -- pure breeds and mixes. After having just watched the Crufts Dog Show, I felt honored to witness a local version at my very own park earlier this week.

In a 30-minute stretch so many fabulous pets.
- Aussie Shepherd
- Bulldog
- Golden Retreiver
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Rough-Coated Collie
- Chihuahua
- Cockapoo
- Black Lab
- Chocolate Lab
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- And many glorious mutts!!!

Both species, man and animal, fraternizing while lounging in the grass. The pups chatted vigorously then took quick, but frequent mud baths. Most refreshing, however, were the back scratches on the emerald-green fields that abound at Beaver Brook.

As a dog parent I am delighted when the beloved rolling in the grass expedites the cleaning process after a swamp visit. My car is a "dogmobile," but there are limits.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Toby's first trip to the Acton Park

Toby by the water, originally uploaded by phaird.

This was our first trip to the Acton park. It's off School St. behind the fire house. My new neighbor told me that there are all kinds of trails that go off into the woods from there. It was really nice and had this small body of water for Toby to swim in. We got there a little late. Sundays at 10am is DOG TIME at the park. There was still a few dogs around though and everyone was pretty nice. It was new to Toby so he ran around finding all the new scents to smell. He really liked the water but there was some boys fishing and I was worried about Toby getting stuck on a hook. I'm going to try to get there again next week but I really miss Waverly. There is no place like it. I’m hoping to focus on a few different dogs at Waverly soon. Keep checking to see.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Happy Days

We got a late start to the park last night. As a result, there was only a small group of dogs. HEAT + SPRING = WATER. And that is exactly where our intrepid visitors were gathered. The handful were splashing and grazing where the babbling brook passes under the foot bridge bringing playground/water park dwellers down to the rolling green fields and woods.

Cooper, Riley and Chagall stayed close to the shoreline and their people. Roscoe, a black and tan Coonhound, was nearby, too, but was keeping his eagle eye and nose pointed to the woods. Detecting creatures only his hound sensibilities could pick up.
Meanwhile, my dog, Chagall, was doing his usual stalking of Roscoe. This has gone on since Roscoe was a puppy. Even though Chagall is now smaller than the lanky hound, he is not deterred from attempted mountings and Sumo-style belly bumping and takedowns. Roscoe is the most good-natured dog ever. He actually seems to enjoy it ... for awhile.

With the next few days of brilliant weather, we'll see you at the P A R K.
{Even when the dog is not around I have gotten in the habit of spelling 'park' so I won't inadvertently get Chagall's hopes up.}
We are, after all, living in our dog's world!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Now that the weather has possibly finally taken a springy turn, traffic will greatly increase at our home away from home -- Beaver Brook.
Every day at Beaver Brook is a smile for owners and their canine companions. My dog, Chagall, and I don't feel complete if we haven't visited the park that day. If we don't see the robins digging for worms, the mallard duck couples, cottontail bunny babies and even the ancient snapping turtle mother, it is a less than perfect experience.
One of this year's newbies has made a particularly BIG hit with regulars and passersby. Andre (the Giant) -- a 4-month-old Great Dane. He is the color of a Weimarner. That beautiful blue. Andre does not know what to make of his enormous paws. He is like a newborn pony -- lacking control of his limbs and devastatingly gorgeous. Upon his approach that first day, about a month ago, I thought I was seeing my first Neapolitan Mastiff. a breed near and dear to my heart. The little man had a forehead full of wrinkles and floppy hound ears that seemed to pull his large head downward. Andre was always losing his battle with gravity.
I haven't seen the big guy in a few weeks. Is he still coming?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friendly Face

Friendly Face, originally uploaded by phaird.

WOW, it's been so long since I've been able to get back to the park. I've been so crazy busy and my guy has been really missing out. Not so much the park but the interactions. Like being able to run around with this little one. So friendly and just loves to play with others.

I've got a pretty good excuse though. I just moved into my first house. I'm now living out in the burbs. There's lots of dog owners out here but I'm still trying to dig out of all the boxes I've got that I can't get to the park. I'm hoping this weekend.

One good thing that I'll post soon is images from Tony our illustrator. He's started off doing these really great drawings. So stay tuned and I'll have some up on the blog in a few days. Alleyne has been working on stories too so she'll be adding to the blog as well.

More soon.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spring has sprung

pongo jumping for ball, originally uploaded by phaird.

WOW, the first really nice day in such a long time. It feels like forever since toby and I went to the park. Even got the MRS. to join us. Like so many, we felt locked into our house it was great to get out. We got to see so many happy dogs and people out and about for the first time in a long time.

This is pongo. A super happy guy who wanted to play with everyone. We were at Waverly Oaks park for about an hour and this little guy never slowed down.

There were lots of new poeple and dogs too. Some new to dogs, and still learning how all the dogs get along. The weather really brings everyone out and a good time was had by all.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Welcome to Dog Parks

I'm really excited about starting off our blog about dog parks. As a photographer and avid dog lover I've been kicking around this idea of a Dog Park book for almost a year now. With different "life crisis’s" and just doing research, this is the first productive step that I think I can make. I've been talking back and forth with a great writer who is also a lover of dogs and has really made dogs and dog parks a big part of her life. Together we decided that starting to put stories on line, and getting feed back from it, would be a great way to get interest in the book. So here we are all set up and ready to go.

Now we need to start gathering stories.

I'll start by talking about that huge line in life that my wife and I crossed when we adopted our dog Toby. We had just moved in with each other before we got married and knew that we both wanted a dog. Cats are okay but I really wanted a frisbee dog and she wanted the active companion who loves us no matter what. We found out about and started looking on line. One after the other was so cute. We started going to the local dog rescues to see who was their and saw so many dogs that needed a good home but none felt just right for us.

Then we saw Toby. As soon as we saw him we just knew he was just what we wanted so we wrote and called the place. They specialized in puppies and small dogs but we didn't hear back for a few days so we assumed that he was snatched up. Just as we started looking again, the woman from the sheltered called to say they were closed for a few days because their son was sick but if we we're still interested we could come down and see. The thing is though we we're second in line. Another woman called first and would be their 1/2 hour before us. So, keeping our minds open and our fingers crossed, we went to see him and all the other dogs they had at that time.

Once we got to the shelter, we saw a large number of small dogs (maybe 15) all running around, with all that small dog energy. Toby still stood out to us but we weren't sure what would happen. We met all the dogs and many we're very nice and I really wanted them all (not thinking practically). After talking to the owner, we found out that the woman who was interested in Toby decided on an older, slower dog that would be good around the house and slow walks. She was an older woman who wanted a companion more her speed. Toby was 2 at the time and had all kinds of energy. So we ended up spending quality time with Toby who really wasn't that into us at first but was being good in general.

After just a little back and forth with Rachel (then girlfriend) we decided that Toby was the one. What we didn't expect was that we'd walk out the door with him. But we bought a bag of dog food, a leash and a collar and took Toby home.

Since that moment, our life changed. We had a new responsibility that we never had before. We came together in a way that we hadn't expected. We became a family. We knew that a new chapter in our lives had started. We now had someone who depended on us and in many ways, we depend on him.

The idea of dogs in our society have changed to be less about property and more about family. The idea of using animals to do work for us has changed as our needs have changed. In a bigger and scarier world, dogs (and any animal) can dispel the fears we have and have that interaction that gets to the core of humanity.