Posts Tagged ‘humane’

Cautious to avoid red tape and complicated forms, prospective pet owners often steer clear of adopting shelter dogs.

However, the process is no more difficult than purchasing a pair of last season’s jeans that, without your intervention, would have been euthanized.

Read more at our litter-mate blog, Sleeping between Giants.

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By Dave Jaffe

Dogs and shoes can live together in harmony provided both are willing to compromise. To reach an accord, dogs have to be trained to respect shoes, while shoes must agree to limit all provocative missile test launches over disputed borders.

While seasoned diplomats attend to the latter, let’s explore the former.

Positive reinforcement training combines praise and treats to reward behavior, a method that has proved effective on canines and, to a lesser extent, millennials.

A testament to positive reinforcement is Jake, sent in by owner Debra R. Observe Jake (left) with a “stolen” shoe, and Jake (right) after six months of training. Note on the right his contrition, repentance, and smoldering regret. Also the smaller shoe. Well done, Jake!

A testament to positive reinforcement is Jake, sent in by owner Debra R. Observe Jake (left) with a “stolen” shoe, and Jake (right) after six months of training. Note on the right his contrition, repentance, and smoldering regret. Also the smaller shoe. Well done, Jake!

Using positive reinforcement, for example, a dog would be compensated little by little for not engaging in inappropriate activities, a process trainers describes as “shaping” and law enforcement calls “extortion.”

GIANT 2: “Dave, Budleigh’s getting near your shoes!”

GIANT 1: “Good! Got the cookies ready?”

GIANT 2: “And the cheese bits. And the tuna.”

GIANT 1: “OK. Don’t react until he looks at me.”

BUDLEIGH: “Saaay, nice pair of loafers ya’ got here. Really nice! Too bad if something happened to ‘em. Know what I mean?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you! Like I was sayin’, sad if something happened to them shoes. Or this house. Or maybe your family. That would be a damn shame, wouldn’t it?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you!”

GIANT 1: “He’s looking at me! Give him a treat! Give him a treat!”

GIANT 2: “Gooooood Budleigh! Smart Budleigh!”

BUDLEIGH: “Thanks. Tasty! Very tasty! Sorta like, ya’ know, this genuine EYE-talian leather over here.”

GIANT 1: “Give him another! Give him another!”

GIANT 2: “Here, Budleigh! What a gooood dog!”

BUDLEIGH: “That’s better. You’re both good kids. We’re gonna get along just fine. So I’ll see you same time tomorrow, right?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you!”

While positive reinforcement training is valuable in controlling shoe-chewing behavior and organized crime, also essential is to provide your dog a variety of chewing alternatives. Numerous products are available, some rugged and durable, others as vulnerable as a swimmer bleeding in shark-infested waters.

Whether made of hard rubber, nylon or plastic, no chew toy is indestructible, with the exception of those constructed of Indestructibilium™, an element lost when the planet Krypton exploded. Frequent inspection of such toys for excessive wear and sharp edges is mandatory. Those that are ragged or jagged should be taken away from the dog, easily done by distracting him with a pair of shoes.

Short, thick lengths of rope with heavy, intricate knots tied at either end are a favorite chew toy of dogs and sailors everywhere. Rope toys also serve as doggie dental floss, cleaning teeth of bits of hard rubber, nylon, plastic and Indestructibilium™.

Finally, rawhide chews made from cow or horse hides have long proved satisfying for dogs. The same is true of bully sticks, which are made from the pizzle or penis of a bull. Let me just repeat that last part. They’re made. From the pizzle. Or Penis. Of. A bull!

I thought it best to emphasis this before you and your dog picnic on a ranch near a corral enclosing a bull that seems, well, angrier than usual.

Next: Ask a terrier, if you think it will do any good.

This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants“, an ongoing series featured on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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By Dave Jaffe

Dogs use their teeth to explore the world much the way we use the Internet. A dog’s mouth and tongue serve as router and modem, while its excretory system works like Comcast.

Whether having teeth leads to chewing or chewing is the outcome of having teeth is a “chicken or the egg” paradox, although dogs will eat both so why are we even debating? Let’s instead focus on the reasons dogs chew my shoes and socks and, to a lesser extent, yours.

Chewing is a perfectly normal canine behavior. In fact, the word canine is Latin for “He ruined what?” Puppies and young dogs might chew to relieve teething pain. Older dogs chew to combat boredom, ease anxiety, or reduce frustration. Some chew simply as a way to prop up the international leather trade. Whatever the cause, to correct an inappropriate chewing behavior, the thoughtful canine owner must first ask, “He ruined what?”

Who chewed the shoes? Can you solve this Minute Mystery? For the answer, turn to page 159.

Who chewed the shoes? Can you solve this Minute Mystery? For the answer, turn to page 159.

So, what is “inappropriate” for dogs to chew? This varies from dog to dog depending on their size, age, and the dietary restrictions of their religion. However, generally banned items include:

• Shoes, socks
• Children
• The military
• Another shoe and sock, damn it!
• (For large dogs) aircraft engine parts before, during flight
• (For small dogs) large dogs
• Six of the current associate justices of the Supreme Court
• Cash, bonds
• Oh, for God’s sake! Another shoe and sock?

Some dogs can quickly learn to avoid forbidden items with just a bit of guidance, a few treats, and an instructional PowerPoint presentation. However, most dogs know exactly what they’re doing when, say, they chew up $75.85 in uncashed checks, as was the case with our formerly alive terrier thing, Oxford.

Giant 2 still insists it was a coincidence that Oxford ravaged four checks taken from four locations over five weeks. It’s was all just paper to him, she says. He didn’t know any better. He was just a dog!

No, he was a terrier. Some dogs track explosives. Others uncover drug caches. Terriers foment crime. Of course Oxford knew that checks were valuable. Dogs have a surprisingly keen understanding of the Federal Reserve. Also their own sophisticated monetary system based on tennis balls. But Oxford wasn’t after the money. His was a mission to corrupt young Brisby, the schnoodle who can do no wrong.

OXFORD: “Hey, kid. C’mere!”

BRISBY: “But I’m on my way to church, Oxford.”

OXFORD: “Sure, sure. You want ta’ see something?”

BRISBY: “I’m supposed to light candles!”

OXFORD: “Yeah, that can wait. (Noses envelope off desk.) Ever see one of these?”

BRISBY: “Is it a cookie?”

OXFORD: “That’s right, a cookie. But you gotta open it, first. Go on, open it!”

BRISBY: “Okay, Oxford! What’s ‘open?’”

OXFORD: “Oh, for… Gimme that!” (He shreds.)

BRISBY: “I have to go now or I’ll miss hymn howling.”

OXFORD: “Too late, kid. You’re in this as deep as me.”

BRISBY: “Do I still get a cookie?”

Next: Wait! Weren’t we talking about shoes and socks?


This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants“, an ongoing series featured on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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By Dave Jaffe

(Our feature on dog grooming tips that began with Best Practices for You, Your Dog, and Your Fingers and continued in Grooming Tips, Part 2: Bathing your Dog – The New Waterboarding concludes with this column. Unless I forgot something.)

Witty Physics would have us believe that drying a dog is the same as wetting a dog, only backwards, if you follow the math.

Apparently, Physics has never dried a dog. Or owned one. Or been on a date since 1990. So thanks anyway, Physics. We’ll take it from here.

Evolutionarily speaking, fur has proved an excellent material for encasing a dog – more resilient than scales, better protection than thorns, and vastly superior to a flour tortilla for retaining both meat and cheese.

However, dog fur also is capable of holding an enormous amount of water. This trait was well suited to prehistoric canines, which were aquatic. Sleek, gilled, and paddle-footed, these 80-feet-long behemoths swam the world’s primordial oceans retrieving primitive tennis balls the size of The Bean.

Eventually, as the great oceans cooled, aquatic Canine developed beyond gill and paddle crawling onto land in a desperate effort to find and bite me.

However they were still soaking wet.

Today’s modern canine retains most of that water. Add to that the moisture absorbed during a bath and the average medium-sized, soft-coated dog can serve effectively as an oil rig fire suppression system. Thus, knowing the Three Methods of Drying – air drying, towel drying, and blow drying – is as important to the citizen dog owner as understanding the three branches of government: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Santa Maria.

This “turban-style” fur drying technique is ideal for the harried dog that still needs to do makeup and nails before prom.

This “turban-style” fur drying technique is ideal for the harried dog that still needs to do makeup and nails before prom.

Also knowing your dog’s fears before selecting a drying technique can reduce his trauma and your arterial puncture wounds. Some dogs grow frightened if covered with towels. Others panic at loud noises like those of a hair dryer. And some, like our formerly alive terrier Oxford are terrified of flies.

I don’t know why flies troubled this efficient, little killing machine. He routinely knocked off rabbits, chipmunks, even a squirrel or two with the detached psychopathy of a professional hit man. But flies? Flies were the buzzing souls of those he’d murdered. So he hired Brisby for protection.

OXFORD: “That Yakuza contract on the chipmunk under the stoop? Considered it completed.”

BRISBY: “Should I be hearing this, Boss?”

OXFORD: “I’m gonna take a nap. Nobody wakes me. Capisce?”

BRISBY: “What’s ‘capisce?’ Can I eat it?”

OXFORD: “Shaddup! Listen! Your hear that…that buzzing? Like a little voice crying, ‘You killed me! And several dozen of my brothers and sisters, probably. And also peed on my burrow. Now I shall punish you with a sort of high-pitched, mildly annoying whine somewhere in your general vicinity. Forever!’ Ahhhhh! What is that thing?”

BRISBY: “A capisce? Can I eat it?”

Then Oxford would run upstairs to our bed where flies couldn’t find him and hide there until the end of summer. We rarely tried to bathe and dry him before the first killing frost.

Having mastered our fears, let’s explore the pros and cons of each drying method. Mostly cons.

Air Drying: Thrifty, Natural, Useless

Were it not for vice squads, who among us wouldn’t choose to dry off after a shower by running around the backyard au naturel and rolling in smelly stuff au poop?

Sadly, only dogs can get away with that. Also my Uncle Reggie, twice.

The efficacy of air drying depends, in part, on your dog’s ability to shake off water. According to an animal drying study out of Georgia Tech, (“Home of the Fightin’ Wet Malamutes”) a dog can shake approximately 70 percent of the water from its fur in four seconds. And even more if they have a good sense of humor and you’re standing really close.

Due to his type of coat and generally nurturing behavior, Brisby is not an ideal candidate for the air drying method. Budleigh’s demeanor, however, makes him a poor candidate for any process short of One Hour Martinizing.

GIANT 1: “Good, Brisby! All done bath. Now give us a biiiig shake!”

BRISBY: “You’re sure? Everyone’s sought shelter? There are enough lifeboats? OK, here we go.”

GIANT 1: “Good shake, Brisby!”

GIANT 2: “That’s it? But he’s still wet, Dave. Maybe wetter.”

GIANT 1: “Well, he’s not done. No, we’re not done are we, Brisby? We’re gonna shake, shake shake, my good boy!”

BRISBY: “Do you know what you’re asking? People could die! You need to get to high ground. Wait! I feel another tremor. It’s the big one!”

GIANT 1: “Awww, he’s adorable!”

GIANT 2: “But he’s just soaking the rug, Dave. I’ll go grab towels.”

BRISBY: “Yes, go! Save yourselves!”

In the very broadest terms Budleigh is likewise nurturing, if by “nurturing” we mean “possessed by Lovecraftian dark forces,” and by “air dry” we mean “unleashed on the innocent townspeople.”

GIANT 1: “Good, Budleigh! All done bath. Now give us a biiiig shake!”

BUDLEIGH: “I’m freeeeeee! I’m free, I’m free, I’m free! Get out of my way!”

GIANT 2: “Oh shit! Grab him, Dave!”

GIANT 1: “Grab him how? His collar’s in his mouth. That was our deal.”

BUDLEIGH: “I’m on your bed! Look! I’m on your beeeeed! Now I’m running my face on the carpet. I’m a racecar. Vroooooooom!”

GIANT 2: “Dave, he’s going to ruin the throw pillows. He’s out of control.”

GIANT 1: “C’mere, Budleigh! Who wants a cookie?”

BUDLEIGH: “Your cookies won’t help you! Your priests won’t help you. This house in mine!”

BRISBY: “He’s Satan! Burn him! Save yourselves! And the cookies!”

Towel Drying: The Soggier Alternative

Towels have been successfully employed to dry pets, as well as for other functions, since their creation in the late nineteenth century. The brainchild of inventor Jacob “Textiles” Towelie, the cloths were introduced with great fanfare at the 1893 Columbian Exposition as “Doctor Amazo’s Liquid Drinking Absorbmechanical Automata.”

At first accessible only to the wealthy, towels became more commonplace due to advances in manufacturing. By the 1990s most American homes could boast at least one towel.

Prior to then, dogs remained quite moist.

But fortune favors the bold, and soon a plucky American populous turned their towel to their wet dogs until, by the summer of 2013, this nation was buried beneath a pile of damp, dirty rags.

New dog owners think towel drying is simply a matter of draping a cloth over the wet animal, briskly rubbing her flanks, prying the towel from her jaws, grabbing a second towel while clutching a hind leg, rolling her back onto her feet, rolling her back the other way, hoisting her off the first towel and onto the second, massaging your stinging back spasm caused by hoisting her, ignoring the ringing cell phone, avoiding licks, avoiding bites, and finally dumping her onto a third towel, all the while assuring her that she’s a “smart girl” although, probably, she isn’t.

Towel drying is, of course, much trickier than that, so prepare accordingly:

1. Before bathing your pet, stack designated “doggie towels” nearby
2. Also stack nearby every other towel you own
3. Call your neighbors and borrow all their towels. Stack nearby
4. Bathe dog
5. Call back neighbors who didn’t answer. They own dogs and are hoarding stacks.
6. Carefully lift dog from sink or tub, removing excess water by twisting animal comically like a cartoon pooch. Repeat.
7. Call back Steve, the neighbor who borrowed your pruning shears. He owes you a big ol’ stack of towels, son of a bitch!
8. Set dog on floor and stand back while he shakes vigorously. Why did this come as a surprise? Have you not been reading?
9. Check dog’s undercoat for hidden towel stacks.
10. Say, how late is Target open? They sell stacks and stacks of towels!

The floorboards now groaning under a mass of linens, your drenched pup helplessly pinned between towers of cloth, the air choked with cotton lint, it’s time to begin the water extraction process by selecting a favorite dog-cleaning towel. Usually these are the ones that belonged to your ex or were a holiday gift from the company that laid you off. The ideal towel is one that you don’t mind—and even prefer—covered in excrement.

Start by draping a thick, absorbent towel over the wet animal. It should be soft and absorbent enough to soak up surface water, yet large enough so that your dog appears dressed in traditional Bedouin wedding garb.

Briskly but gently dry face and ears while monitoring your pet’s stress level. Some dogs exhibit anxiety if their heads are completely covered by a towel, while others, like Brisby, stand quietly awaiting the Rapture.

Budleigh doesn’t fit into either of these groups, or might if we were able to get a towel around him. This has proved a challenge that requires Giants One and Two to work in tandem like efficient fisherfolk attempting to net a fast-swimming school of herring armed with pocketknives.

GIANT 1: “He’s gonna break left, so get your towel ready. I’ll try to trick him to go right.”

GIANT 2: “He knows all your tricks, Dave. He’s going left.”

GIANT 1: “No, this time I’ll stand here with my towel behind my back and make a sound like the can opener. He’ll come right to me.”

GIANT 2: “You haven’t thought this through.”

BUDLEIGH: “I’ll just be going now!”

GIANT 1: “Really, I saw this on Animal Planet. Only instead of a terrier it was an immense migration of wildebeest. And instead of a can opener it was a raging, uncontained wild fire.

GIANT 2: “Perfect!”

BUDLEIGH: “I’m going that way. So, you know, good luck!”

GIANT 2: “Dave, we’ve got a runner!”

GIANT 1: “RRRrrrrr-RRRrrrr! Grind, grind! rrrrRRR-rrrRRR! Damn! Missed him!”

GIANT 2: “That’s your can opener, Dave? ‘Grind, grind?’”

GIANT 1: “Too nasal?”

BUDLEIGH: “I heard a wildebeest!”

Blow Drying, or Gone with the Wind

Who among us hasn’t washed their face in a public restroom, then groping blindly for the hand dryer, accidentally activated what appears to be the searing hot, thunderously loud exhaust of a Lockheed Martin F-22A fighter jet?

That’s how dogs perceive blow dryers.

Dogs tend to be leery of hair dryers, as they are of anything that requires thumbs. Getting your dog accustomed to loud noise like that produced by a dryer should be done in small stages. For example, monitor how he reacts when you pop open a can of beer. Did he remain calm? If so, drink your beer and think about that. Now move a little closer and pop open another. Still quiet? Hmmm…that’s worth some more thought. Continue this process until you’re tearfully telling your pet that he’s yer’ bes’…yer’ bes’ goddamn frien’ since your ex walked out leaving you with all those towels.

For many dogs, however, it is the dryer’s blowy-hotty functionality that is most distressing. Best to set the dryer on low heat and low blow-outyness, then move it quickly back and forth across the animal’s coat avoiding the face and paws.

Oh, and Brisby would also like to suggest that before you get to him, go right ahead and blow dry all the other dogs everywhere in the world. He’ll wait.

Budleigh, however, absolutely adores the blow dryer and hopes to marry one, pending a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States. This might be a trait common to terrier mutts. Oxford, our formerly alive terrier thing, would demand to be blow dried even when he wasn’t wet.

Oxford never feared the dryer, possibly because he’d grown so accustomed to it being used on Brisby, who was bathed often. Young Brisby was an easily distracted dog, often following butterflies through whatever patch of filth and muck they flew over. The butterflies thought he was hoot! He paid the price in baths.

Wet Oxford enjoyed a blow dry like an old Russian Jew relishes a good sauna schvitz. He’d sit contentedly in Giant Two’s lap, eyes half-lidded, wiry-haired chest thrust out, and lean into the air stream, sighing, “Such a day, I’ve had. Don’t ask!”

Even when dry, Oxford sought the wind and warmth, urgently nosing ahead of wet Brisby to grab the barber chair.

“Sorry, guy! Big client presentation today,” he’d claim. “Just need a little off the top, then I’m outta here!”

Though not as obsessed as Oxford, Budleigh is not nearly so resigned as Brisby. He sees this activity as a means to an end. The means is the hair dryer; the end is having the world’s entire population committed to making him feel good.

BUDLEIGH: “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! Plug the thing in the thing! Get to work!”

GIANT 1: “He’s so excited, hon. What a little cutie. OW!”

BUDLEIGH: “That’s your only warning. Don’t talk. Dry!”

GIANT 2: “Did he nip you again, Dave?”

GIANT 1: “A little. Think he’s afraid of the blow dryer? Does he seem anxious?”

GIANT 2: “Maybe we should just hand dry him.”

GIANT 1: “Do we have enough towels? I could call Steve. He has stacks and stacks, that son of a bitch!”

BUDLEIGH: “No, no, no, no! It’s all good! See? I’m on my back doing that funny thing with the paws.”

GIANT 2: “Oh, look at him on his back doing that funny thing with his paws.”

BUDLEIGH: “I’m adorable!”

GIANT 1: “He’s adorable!”

BUDLEIGH: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

GIANTS 1 & 2: “ʻThese aren’t the droids we’re looking for.ʼ”

GIANT 1: “Here we go, Budleigh. Gooood Budleigh! Don’t be scared of the big noise.”

BUDLEIGH: “Ahhh…. Feels so good! Sounds like the can opener.”

GIANT 2: “Now we do your tummy. Next, your sides and back. Yeah, that feels so good, doesn’t it?”

BUDLEIGH: “Such a day, I’ve had!”

GIANT 2: “Hon, while I finish him will you get Brisby ready?”

BRISBY: “Look, if you’re not going to towel dry me, I’ll be next door at Steve’s, that son of a bitch!”


This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants“, a new series of columns on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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By Dave Jaffe

Black dogs tend to be passed over for adoption because they are associated with evil. Yet studies have proved that relatively few actively worship Satan.

This Black Dog Syndrome, as it’s known to its advocates, would have black-furred shelter dogs adopted less quickly than lighter colored ones. Despite strong anecdotal evidence from animal shelters that this stigma is real, Science has yet to be convinced.

“Controlled tests need to be conducted,” insists Science in that high-pitched, nasaly voice that makes you want to push its head in the toilet. “If it can’t be measured, then I can’t build an app and make money. And this research crap is killin’ me! You know how old my car is?”

Yes sir, right down deep in the toilet!

At the root of this supposed phenomenon is a diversity of conflicting explanations; Black dogs are shunned by the superstitious. Films and television portray them as vicious. A black dog killed my parents.

Watching, waiting, plotting, Budleigh knows that eventually...eventually we have to sleep.

Watching, waiting, plotting, Budleigh knows that eventually…eventually we have to sleep.

However, just as compelling is evidence that suggests coat color is only a minor consideration of dog adopters. Shelter dogs are adopted in nearly equal numbers whether their coats are black, light, brindle or, as in one study, transparent – that from a survey group which “thought it would be cool to watch blood circulate.” NOTE: Those last results were never replicated and that group was hurriedly ushered from the test facility, their names forwarded to the National Security Administration.

So how does one know if a black dog would be a good choice? To determine that, let us leave the realm of the analytic and focus our attention on an area of study I call “me”.

Last year when we first met Budleigh, our vicious, Satan-worshipping, parent-killing terrier thing, I was unaware of the stigma surrounding black dogs. Kelly, the lovely lady who runs the homeless animal shelter, praised this smart, social little fellow while he vibrated around the room, occasionally passing through solid objects. During our conversation Kelly mentioned that such dogs as Budleigh can be difficult to place. I asked why.

“Well first, because he’s black.”

“Ah HAH!” I snapped, nodding with Anderson Cooper clarity. “Isn’t that just typical of The Man?”

“Sorry?” said Kelly, puzzled.

“Well, it’s just like Ferguson. And Selma.”

“Oh…heh!” Cautiously, Kelly edged herself between me and Budleigh.

I felt the conversation coming unmoored, and tried to clarify without actually explaining.

“I mean, you see it in the news, right? People protesting. And they should! Not just on CNN. I watch all the coverage, of course. Because I’m fair. Oh, and balanced! Very, very balanced.”

I was like a man at a dinner party who confidently leaps into a debate on gun control, or religious persecution, or why Donald Trump’s a dick only to realize, late, that the topic is Justin Bieber.

And from Kelly’s tight but polite smile I suspected that I wasn’t getting a dog of any color.

“Anyway, my point is that he’s a very, very talent singer, but troubled,” I concluded. “Soooo…back to dogs.”

“Yes,” she said. “I was saying that black dogs aren’t as popular as the light ones. Also this little guy’s a terrier. And they’re a handful.”

“A terrier?” I gushed. “I love terriers! Terriers are wonderful!”

Some of my best friends are terriers! For God’s sake, mouth, don’t say it! Don’t!

“I’ll take him, Kelly. Wrap ‘em up!”

There are many advantages of a black terrier, none of which benefit their owner.

Chief among a terrier’s assets is stealth, just after teeth, speed, cunning, intelligence, stubbornness, and what passes for “adorable”. So stealthy is this breed that, according to the US Department of Homeland Security, every American is under constant covert scrutiny by as many as 17 terriers, all hoping their subject will turn into a rabbit.

Our formerly alive terrier Oxford, Budleigh’s predecessor, used stealth the way a seascape painter works with blue. He would shimmer into a room, take on the color of his surroundings, and sit quietly for weeks until I set down my toast. Then he’d evaporate, along with the toast and my fingers up to the knuckle.

Budleigh’s black fur renders him a far more effective operative. He’s all but invisible in photographs. Shot against a black attaché, the viewer sees only a black attaché with delightful little white paws. With eyes closed, his head becomes a featureless black ovoid much like the acid-spewing Alien, only with more teeth. Walking him at night, I hold a leash attached to a murky darkness that pees a lot.

Budleigh is Dracula. And his Prince of Darkness shtick is really pissing off the townspeople.

GIANT TOWNSPERSON 1: “Hon, I can’t find Budleigh. Have you seen him anywhere?”


GIANT TOWNSPERSON 2: “No, but I’ve been here folding laundry. Is he under the bed?”

GIANT TOWNSPERSON 1: “Hard to say. It’s dark as a Chilean mine. Budleigh! Budleigh boy!”

BUDLEIGH: “Am I under there?”

GIANT TOWNSPERSON 1: “I can’t see him. Torches! We need torches!”

GIANT TOWNSPERSON 2: “Or maybe just a flashlight and peanut butter?”

GIANT TOWNSPERSON 1: “And crosses!”

BUDLEIGH: “Can you see me? I can see you!”

GIANT TOWNSPERSON 1: “OK, he’s not under the bed. And he’s not outside and he’s not shut in any rooms. So where….?”

GIANT TOWNSPERSON 2: “Dave, is that pile of black yoga pants wagging.”

GIANT TOWNSPERSON 1: “Budleigh! Has he been lying here all this time?”

BUDLEIGH: “I could have taken your toast! Also your fingers up to the knuckle.”


Where’s Waldog??                 There he is!

Where’s Waldog?? There he is!

Got some extra holiday money burning a hole in your pocket? Make a donation to the wonderful folks at Tails of Hope, a no-kill, non-profit animal rescue and adoption organization, and Budleigh’s alma mater.

This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants”, a new series of columns on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably.

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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By Dave Jaffe

How different the rules for crate training a dog would be had the Constitution of the United States been signed by Thomas Jefferson’s hound, Monroe Doctrine.

JEFFERSON: “Good and reasonable gentlemen, with the signing of this treatise we forthrightly express the unity of Americans to cast off the oppressive collar that is the tyranny of Britain!”


JEFFERSON: (Stoops to affectionately cradle sleeping dog’s head) “And also cast off the oppressive collar that Monty’s wearing. Who’s a GOOD boy? You’re not a tyrant! No, you’re not! Oh, no you’re not!”

BEN FRANKLIN: (Quietly to John Adams) “Has he had any sleep?”

ADAMS: “I’ll get him more coffee.”

JEFFERSON: “Ohhhh, Monty’s a GOOD American! Go fetch the quill! Can you get the quill?”

Crate training can be a very effective way to acclimate a new pet to your home. The method works better with dogs than, say, fish due to the porous nature of the bars. First-time puppy owners are sometimes reticent to crate train, thinking it cruel. However, dogs tend to take well to crates because by their natural instincts they are “den-dwelling” animals rather than “seed-bearing” or “conservative-leaning.”

Properly implemented, crate training provides your pooch with its own safe, secure, well-defined space from which it can control its vast, off-shore financial empire. A crate also aids in housetraining, as dogs are averse to soiling their den – a stimulus-response reaction behavioral scientists refer to as “shitting and pissing all over themselves.”

Patience and consistency are the most effective approaches to crate training. Also, the crate should always be associated with something pleasant for your pup – a soft towel or blanket covering the floor, a favorite toy, small food treats, cable.

Never, never use the crate as a punishment because:
a. Who the Hell do you think you are! And,
b. Get out!

We’ve enjoyed great success crate training our succession of dogs. As a puppy, Oxford, our formerly alive, bunny-killing terrier mutt, quickly took to the crate kept downstairs in the kitchen. But that changed when he realized life was more fulfilling upstairs in our bed, which had been true until he joined us.

Brisby, our good-hearted schnoodle also known as Saint Brisby of the Martyred Bunnies, would have stayed in his crate forever, locking himself in at night then tossing the keys onto the kitchen table. But the inequity troubled me, so when he came of an age he joined Oxford, who grudgingly relinquished the northeastern-most corner of our bed, an area referred to as Sinai.

With Budleigh, our year-old rescue dog who chiefly is constructed of bits and pieces from unpopular terrier breeds, I planned to get this crate training just right. I know nothing of Budleigh’s past. We adopted him from a shelter after police in Waukegan, Illinois picked him up on the streets, charging him with shoplifting and prostitution.

Budleigh doing a 3-to-5-year stretch. Or 21-to-35 in dog years.

Budleigh doing a 3-to-5-year stretch. Or 21-to-35 in dog years.

Within our safe place Budleigh would have a safe place of his own. His Fortress of Solitude with a rubber bone. The Bat Cave featuring a faded pink blankie. Switzerland behind skinny, little bars.

We named it The Budleigh Box.

As a humorist writing a dog blog I meet a lot of convicts. They all confide that the first night in The Big House is the hardest.

When that cell door slams behind you, your life is over, they say. You’re just another number wearing a rabies tag with yet another number. And maybe an ID chip. You know, in case you get lost?

Help transition your new dog to a crate through a series of small, gentle steps, the first of which is to figure out how to put the crate together. This represents an excellent bonding opportunity between Canine and Giant.

GIANT 1: “Is this the bottom panel? I think this is the bottom panel.”

GIANT 2: “No, that’s the top or a side. Or maybe just packaging.”

BUDLEIGH: “Can I eat this?”

GIANT 1: “Aren’t these supposed to snap into place? I heard no snap.”

GIANT 2: “There was definitely a snap. Or a snappish kind of click.”

BUDLEIGH: “I’m just gonna eat this!”

GIANT 1: “Well, was it a click, like a bat’s echolocation system, or a snap, like when the Alien’s teeth tear through a space helmet?”

GIANT 2: “Dave, I don’t know what that means. No one knows what that means!”

BUDLEIGH: “I’m eating this!”

GIANT 1: “The top panel connects with a black rubber strap. Where’s the strap?”

GIANTS 1 & 2: “Budleigh! NOOO!”

BUDLEIGH: “Definitely a click.”

Terriers are naturally inquisitive, even those that have been convicted. Once the Budleigh Box’s structural integrity was secured and the Chicago building inspectors paid off, Budleigh climbed in to explore his new space. When he flopped down for a nap, I closed the door but stayed nearby to keep an eye on him.

Brisby also kept tabs on Budleigh. Having long ago graduated from a crate, Brisby now served as a prison trustee, wheeling his library cart past Budleigh’s cell and preaching The Word of the Lord.

All day, Budleigh seemed very comfortable in his crate, coming and going in accordance with the terms of his work-release agreement. At bedtime, he climbed in without complaint and, with visiting hours concluded, the rest of us headed upstairs to bed.

Whining is a common practice by dogs to test your resolve. In that way they are much like telemarketers. The challenge comes in knowing how long to ignore them and when to give them your credit card number.

GIANT 1: “Hon, he’s crying.”

GIANT 2: “That’s a car alarm, Dave.”

GIANT 1: “Nonsense! How could he set off a car alarm? He’s too small. He has no thumbs. He’s locked in a dank, rat-infested Hell hole. How long is this torture to go on?”

GIANT 2: “Listen! It’s stopped. Budleigh’s fine. So is the car.”

GIANT 1: “Wait! You hear that? That’s definitely a dog crying.”

GIANT 2: “That’s the NCIS opening theme. We’re watching NCIS. They also play a kind of warble before commercials. That also won’t be a dog crying.”

GIANT 1: “Unless he warbles when he cries. I’m going to check on him.”

GIANT 2: “Dave, he’s been in his crate six minutes. Do not disturb that dog!”

After the other giant had fallen asleep I snuck out of bed. She was awake when I returned.

GIANT 2: “Is that Budleigh?”

GIANT 1: “No, no! I checked on him, but he was asleep. This is just a big piece of chocolate cake with white frosting on the paws and the chest.”

GIANT 2: “You woke a sleeping puppy and brought him up to our bed?”

GIANT 1: “I was worried he’d warble.”

Crate training was going to be tricky.

This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants”, a new series of columns on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants will explore life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably.

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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By Dave Jaffe

While Halloween is a whimsical time for children, it can be disquieting for dogs and even more troubling for dog owners unaccustomed to working with the violent criminally insane.

Halloween spending this year is expected to reach $6.9 billion dollars, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Of that, the NRF release states, nearly $350 million will be spent on “fashionable and fun costumes” for pets.

As a dog owner, let me clarify for the NRF. Dogs don’t consider any costume “fashionable and fun” unless it smells like it’s already passed through them once or twice, if you know what I mean. And I hope you don’t.

Halloween-costumes FINAL

Dogs don’t really enjoy wearing costumes, even those constructed mostly of tuna. This aversion dates back to prehistoric times when Early Neanderthal hunters would lure prey using Early Wolf cubs wrapped in bacon, until Early Wolf mother heard about it. Then that was the end of Neanderthal.

Today’s domesticated canines are more tolerant of wearing costumes, once you get the hood past their snapping teeth. However, a dog’s acceptance of a costume chiefly depends on whether or not they’re a terrier.

Budleigh is our one-year-old rescue dog who, as near as the vet could determine, is a mix of half-terrier and half-some-other-terrier. Despite Budleigh’s early life on the streets boosting cars and running numbers for the Mob, he’s very social and well adjusted.

But he has no intention of being put in a costume without first clearing it with our nine-year-old, baseline model, bell-curve dog, Brisby.

BUDLEIGH: “Brisby! Wake up! WakeUpWakeUpWakeUpWakeUpWakeUp!”

BRISBY: “Shut up!”

BUDLEIGH: “OK! Brisby, the giants want me to wear a costume. Should I wear a costume? What’s a costume? Is it tuna?”

BRISBY: “No. Shut up!”

BUDLEIGH: “OK! Can I have your ball? Can I have your ear?”

BRISBY: “No! Everything is mine.”

BUDLEIGH: “OK! Can I have your tuna?”

BRISBY: “Shut up!”

When selecting an appropriate costume for your dog, think safety first, cautions such animal humane groups as the ASPCA, an acronym for Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Sorry! It’s an acronym for The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the oldest animal-protection organization in the Western Hemisphere that also has access to Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The group counsels that costumes must not interfere with a pet’s movement, hearing or “ability to breathe, bark or meow.” Good advice, because if my dogs meow I need to know immediately, as does YouTube!

The Society also suggests that owners try costumes on their pets before Halloween in case it turns out that, as I’ve already implied, they’re a terrier. Costumes needn’t be elaborate. A simple, cheerful, child-friendly bandana tied around your pet’s neck perfectly complements the blood-drenched, rotting Donald Trump corpse replica decorating your front lawn.

The other giant and I decided to go the bandana route. Brisby, a poodle-schnauzer mix, would be no problem. Nature’s Perfect Animal, Brisby splits his time between ministering to lepers, rolling bandages for the Red Cross, and eating goose poop. Budleigh would be the challenge.

Tying a bandana around a terrier is no different than tying a bandana around the Death Star. Both should be attempted by someone other than you. A well-behaved terrier usually won’t bite so long as you’re relatively chipmunk-free, but they tend to be less cooperative than, say, North Korea.

To win Budleigh’s trust, the other giant and I first dressed Brisby in his bandana – a complicated ritual that involved raising his head slightly from the pillow he was asleep on, then tying on the bandana. Brisby roused himself enough to roll us a few bandages, then went back to sleep.

Now, oozing the charm of a carpetbagger we approached Budleigh, warmly assuring him that he was A GOOD DOG and A VERY, VERY GOOD DOG and A DOG WITH MANY FACEBOOK LIKES!

You know how the eyes of some portraits follow you around the room? Budleigh does that with his whole body. But since he wasn’t ticking, I gently wrapped his cowboy-themed bandana around his neck, careful not to tie it unless he told me we were cool, man! Encountering no protests I knotted it, easy-peasy.

Trouble started when I removed his collar. Budleigh is very fond of his collar and likes to keep it close by, much the way I like to keep my liver and pancreas close by. I think it’s the reassuring sound of the jingling tags. The ones on his collar, I mean. There are no tags on my liver or pancreas, as far as medical science has been able to determine.

Budleigh took the dangling end of the collar firmly in his mouth and assured me with his sweet Buster Keaton expression that I could have it when I pried it from his cold, dead teeth.

Eventually I was able to negotiate a release by way of a comforting voice, firm commands and 186,000 doggie treats.

Now just days before Halloween, Budleigh has reached an uneasy compromise with us giants. He will wear his handsome, cowboy bandana provided he can carry his handsome, jingling collar in his teeth.

And should any wide-eyed, innocent trick-or-treaters ask, “What kinda’ costume is that, and why’s he got a collar in his mouth?” I’ll answer playfully.

“Why, he’s just an ol’ cowpoke who’s eaten another ol’ cowpoke’s dog.”

A big ‘Howdy!’ from Cowboy Budleigh and his trusty sidekick, Collar.

A big ‘Howdy!’ from Cowboy Budleigh and his trusty sidekick, Collar.

(This post marks the launch of “Sleeping Between Giants”, a new series of columns on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants will explore life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj)

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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