Archives for October 2013

31 Days of Dogs, 10/31

This month was a big writing month, so I only read one book—“The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie” by Wendy McClure.

It’s a very funny travel narrative, in which she visits all the Little House sites throughout the country. But along the way, she discovers she’s writing about something else, something deeper (which I won’t spoil). 

In the book McClure explores the word “unremember,” which is used in one of the books about Laura: “You don’t deny something when you unremember it, you just give it a place to live,” McClure writes. She realizes “Laura Ingalls Wilder unremembered being hungry by writing Farmer Boy, and Rose Wilder Lane unremembered her terrible childhood by helping her mother write about hers.”

That’s a little of what I’ve done with my 31 Days of Dogs. I’ve been unremembering. I don’t want to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I want to talk about my dogs, who give me a reason to smile every day. Except when they’re driving me crazy, like last night, when they were licking coffee grounds off of the kitchen floor.

I want everyone reading this to know that just like Laura Ingalls Wilder, our story isn’t always pretty, and like her, I didn’t tell it straight. But it is my story nonetheless, and my dogs are part of it. Polo and Clover are unchanged. They are a few months older and not one lick wiser.

Someday, we will move from this house — God willing. We will look back on 204 Crestwood as our  Little House on the Prairie, which McClure says “stands apart as a masterfully creepy book.”

Creepy, creepy stuff has happened here, y’all, just as un-rememberable as Laura looking into the eyes of that black-eyed Indian baby as he rode away with his mother. McClure reveals that Laura was too young to have actually remembered that experience herself—she only described it through the memories of others. So, she unremembered it, with Jack the bulldog taking his spot under the wagon to walk the long walk to a new home

As long as Polo and Clover are still healthy, they will come along, too. And I will unremember this story through their waggy tails.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

31 Days of Dogs, 10/30

It feels like the last day of this little experiment called 31 Days of Dogs. Maybe because I’ve already written the last post for tomorrow.

I feel sad that this is coming to an end, even though I did it as sort of a joke with Nancy Franson, who very sweetly bought me the book “E.B. White on Dogs” when she was in Martha’s Vineyard. I am no E.B. White, but I love the way he wrote about his dogs. This was my attempt to step into his shoes.

I sincerely hope I didn’t unduly influence anyone reading this to actually go out and get a dog (or two). Polo and Clover are 4 1/2. I haven’t written about the trials of puppyhood because those are in the past.

At the moment, they are standing at the foot of our pecan tree, staring up hopefully. Pecan trees only shed their nuts every other year; this is not a nut year. Clover and Polo continue to wait. They must remember last year’s harvest. Surely, they must think, If am patient and still, manna will fall from heaven.

31 Days of Dogs, 10/29

It’s muggy outside, muggy and warm. The puppies have joined me indoors.

If it rains, we’ll all get excited and go back out, but more than likely, the clouds and 81 percent humidity will just tempt us and hit Austin or Kerrville instead. It’s easy to think Fredericksburg is being judged. A couple of weeks ago, Austin had record rains—10 inches. We had 2, maybe, depending on which end of town you live in.

But Polo and Clover are happy. Their inside dog bed is a pink sleeping bag my mom bought for my daughter years ago. It’s very soft, and I recently moved it under the big desk. I don’t know why I didn’t move it there sooner, what with dogs liking the whole feel of a den.

So, they are at my feet, and I am working and drinking Tazo’s China green tips tea. Everything is waiting for rain.

31 Days of Dogs, 10/28

Have I mentioned how much I love walking my dogs in the morning? Especially when I miss a day, as I did yesterday. (I went on a bike ride instead.)

This morning, the sky was cloudy—no moon, no stars. Polo and Clover didn’t seem to mind. We did the loop around Lower Crabapple, traveling counterclockwise so the walk was mostly uphill.

I always listen to a podcast while we walk. I’ve been going to sleep each night with a chapter from the Harry Potter audiobooks, as read by the fantastic Jim Daly. If I fall asleep during the chapter (as I did last night), I listen to it in full in the morning on our walk.

I’m in the “Prisoner of Azkaban” right now, which includes a certain black, mysterious dog. So far, he hasn’t shown up. If he does, I’ll look closely, just in case he’s not really a dog but a person in disguise.

Wands up!

31 Days of Dogs, 10/27

It is a perfect Sunday morning.

Clover rests her head on the Adirondack chair where I am sitting. She’s never done that.

Polo is resting on the big dog pillow my daughter made for her a couple of years ago.

It’s so quiet I can actually hear birds.

“And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye

clear. What we need is here.”

Yes, it’s too bad my dogs can’t read Wendell Berry along with me this morning. If they knew it was a poem called “The Wild Geese,” they’d instantly be up and ready to chase a flock of migrating birds. But we don’t get geese here—wild or sober.

And we pray, not. I assume my dogs don’t pray. But today at least, they do seem content. What we need is here.  They are quiet. There are their water bowls, their food bowls emptied. Here, soft grass refreshed by rain. They do not know today is Sunday.

A neighbor opens a back door. Clover turns her head. Polo merely flicks her ears.

31 Days of Dogs, 10/26

Today is cool and cloudy with mist—a fine Scottish morning (here in the Texas Hill Country). And my dogs must have some of that good blood in them because they cannot be coaxed inside. So this Drummond lass has joined them on the back porch with a pitcher of Greenbelt tea.

31 Days of Dogs, 10/25

It turns out that Polo and Clover are deathly afraid of the sound of bubble wrap being popped.

31 Days of Dogs, 10/24


You know, they’re not supposed to be on my bed without permission. But there they are.

31 Days of Dogs, 10/23

It looks like the 2013 dog calendars are all gone (what with it being October and all). But there are still plenty of 2013 cat calendars.

Just sayin’.

31 Days of Dogs, 10/22

I’m doing research for an article on the 20-year anniversary of the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas, and they have a big emphasis on enrichment—activities that stimulate the animals either mentally, physically, emotionally or socially.

Which makes me wonder, how are Polo and Clover doing on the enrichment scale?

I do vary the routes of our walks, so that means a variety of feral cats and white-tailed deer. Once we walked in the daylight and they saw a cow! They were ready to take her down and have a barbecue right there in the middle of Lower Crabapple Road (sans fire).

This time of year, I leave a door open so Polo and Clover can come in and out all day. I would think they would get tired of the same old squirrels, but they never do. Thursdays are exciting because that’s when the trash truck comes down the alley. There have been a succession of dogs that have come and gone in our neighbor’s yards, each one providing new opportunities for socialization. And there always seem to be certain people who like to get their exercise walking down our alley. I guess they think it’s safer, but actually, they’re in mortal danger if Major, the dog behind us, ever manages to scale his fence.

This morning, I slept in, which I almost never do. Clover’s idea of enrichment was to leap into bed with me and then go back to sleep as soon as she was sure she had awakened me. Polo stayed cuddled quietly with our daughter, although when I opened the door at 7 a.m., she ran out as fast as she could.  Humans only enrich her for a limited amount of time before she’s ready to take on the backyard.

At the moment, Polo and Clover are both outside, enjoying the cool sunshine.