Archive for the 'Dog Park brain trust' Category

Focus on dogs

img_00791Working on Dog Park Wisdom, I met many people who were inspired by their canine cohorts to take unexpected exits off the same-old, same-old highway — from starting rescues to running marathons to creating beautiful art. Fellow Washingtonian Haley Poulos, who provided some excellent trail-doggin’ smarts for my book, is a perfect example. Since we last talked, she’s been building an archive of luscious, spirited photos of her dogs, Charlotte and Wilbur. Check them out at her blog: She Wears Socks with Sandals.

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Better than Prozac, funny dogs

I never cease to be amazed by how efficiently a silly dog can turn a blue day around. It’s not just that unconditional devotion, which gets all the press. It’s the canines’ comic stylings — their quirky habits, campy begging, penchant for trouble, and not-so-sly moves. I know a couple with four Dachshunds, who watch their quartet raise Caine with all the satisfaction of a 13-year-old Serena-wannabe watching Gossip Girl. (The dogs are more engaging and less predictable than the TV actors.)

Dog Park Wisdom tipster Phil Juliano has channeled the antic inspiration of his four-year-old, lean, mean, tennis ball-chasin’ machine (a Labrador Retriever named Spencer) into an autobiographical comic strip, Best In Show. I am grateful for how dogs not only make us laugh, but how they encourage us to be patient, attentive, and compassionate, and in Spencer’s case, to make art. That idea, that our dogs bring out the best in us, was something that drove my book. Phil recently moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where his strip runs (or soon will run) in Critter, Rapid River and Asheville Unscene.

Get jiggy with your bicycle

At a holiday mutt mixer last December, I met David Sylvester, a Seattle vaccine scientist, and his gorgeous Shepherd/Husky mix dog, Chiva. They were preparing to cycle around the country and climb the highest peak in each of the Lower 48 states. In addition to providing a chance for adventures together, David and Chiva’s Tour de Dog aims to raise awareness about and money for the fight against animal cruelty and environment destruction.

I like hearing stories of novel ways to incorporate dogs into formerly human-only activities. But I was behind the curve on this one. For example, during the cycling legs, Chiva rides in style in a DoggyRide trailer. It’s a sign of the times that folks aren’t simply modifying child-carriers anymore. Companies are actually manufacturing “sidecars” for dogs.

My favorite adaptation for a cycling dog is the Xtracycle, sport utility bike. This cycling-dog option requires a game pup with excellent equilibrium, such as Jiggy, Ken Hoeve’s Pit Bull, who balanced on a skateboard-like platform at the back of an Xtracycle for much of an 800-mile trek from Savannah, Georgia, to Key West, Florida in 2001. Jiggy also floated along in a raft, pulled by Hoeve in a kayak, during watery stretches. Ken with Jiggy (at home in Colorado last year) shared his story with us for Dog Park Wisdom. After a life of exuberant adventures, Jiggy succumbed to cancer last year. I’m thrilled to include his photo in the blog.

Meet Yoni and Justin

In the Trails chapter of Dog Park Wisdom, I write about Justin Lichter and his dog Yoni (an unbelievably adorable and intrepid St. Bernard-Border Collie mix). They are the most inspiring man-dog hiking team I’ve ever come across. Together, they’ve logged more than 20,000 miles of hard trail across the U.S., Mexico and Canada. I didn’t get to include photos of Justin and Yoni in the book, so I’m happy to include some shots from Justin here in my blog. You can follow Justin’s adventures (be prepared for a little armchair envy) and read some of his trail-tested advice at his Web site.