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.