Clam dip and the coonhound

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

As I whipped up some clam dip this afternoon, for a special gathering, I was reminded of Babe, the Black and Tan Coonhound that befriended us this past Christmas.

It was cold and rainy, when we pulled up to the Water Valley Inn the night of December 26. Perched on a hill overlooking miles of rolling farmland, the 1920s-era farmhouse is our home-away-from-home, when we visit our daughter and her family, whose Owl Creek Winery and vineyards are just down the road.

As our son, Charlie, stepped out of the car, he was greeted by a wagging, wriggling, seal-soft hound that cried and whimpered as if he was her long lost master. Since she was wearing a collar, we hoped we might coax her into the house so that we could read her tag. But when we opened the door, she trotted right in, then stood looking at us with her tail wagging, as if to say, “Welcome home.”

Her tag told us that her name was Babe. While we waited for her owner to return our call, Babe wandered into the kitchen, where I found her standing politely but deliberately in front of a cabinet. She wasn’t exactly pointing, because her lovely, long tail was arched upward and her front end was erect, but I knew that she knew that there was food in the cabinet. (more…)


Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Foaling season nurtures hope. But the gate swings both ways. This week, two well known cutting horses were lost to untimely deaths, while last week, an aged broodmare and a beloved canine companion, the subject of a series of popular books, were humanely put to rest.

Earlier this week, the 11-year-old stallion Bets CD, owned by Gary and Susan Rosenbach, died at a breeding facility in Weatherford, TX, where he had been standing to the public. The red roan son of CD Olena was out of Bet Yer Blue Boons, an NCHA world champion and the daughter of all-time leading producer Royal Blue Boon.

Bets CD earned over $120,000 during his show career with trainer Kobie Wood. His first crop of foals includes Bets Pretty Sue, winner of $72,217.

On Monday, May 11, Lisa Langdon’s 5-year-old mare Little Bitty Hippy died following surgery for a colon impaction. Langdon had ridden the Hickorys Indian Pep daughter as champion of the 2008 Augusta Amateur Futurity, as well as an amateur finalist in the NCHA Futurity, Super Stakes and Derby.

“She was a tough, gritty mare,” said Tony Langdon, Lisa’s husband. “She will be greatly missed by Lisa and me, as well as by our daughter Taylor, and by David Stewart, who trained her.”

Two weeks ago, Cutter, the plucky little Australian terrier that starred in a series of popular books by Evonne Severinsen, had to be put to sleep at the age of 10. It was Severinsen’s granddaughter, Megan Merrill Miller, recent winner of both non-pro divisions of the NCHA Super Stakes, who gave Cutter his name.

The Cutter, the Little Red Dog series evolved from small albums made by Severinsen for family and friends, who convinced her that the books were too good not to share. The books are still available through Cutters Friends at 405-834-1554.

Sweet Lil Lena, a leading producer of NCHA money earners, was also recently euthanized, and I wrote about her in an earlier post – click here.

Reminder: In a special section tabbed “Milestones,” I will provide timely reports of special passages – human, equine, canine – and welcome your notifications, as well as details regarding services and memorials. The notices might not appear on my home page, so check the “Milestones” tab for updates, whenever you visit the site.

Rottie rumblings

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

What a difference a year makes. Although he’s not quite two, Fergus has seen enough of the world on a leash to know his limits. No more dashing after fun in the form of loose dogs, skateboarders, bikers and joggers.

Life isn’t always fair, if you are a 130-pound dog. The 20-pound terriers of the world might get away with mayhem, but big dogs have to be well-heeled.

While I won’t say he’s as meek as a kitten, I will tell you that Fergus “purrs,” when he’s petted. The sound is disarming, if you aren’t prepared for it.

At about the same time he began to purr, Fergus also began to snore, although it took me a while to realize this because I assumed it was my husband, who has been rumbling in his sleep for years. One night, after I had poked Alan for the third time, he rolled over and said, “It’s not me.”

“You need to learn the difference between a growl and a purr,” Fergus’ breeder told me, when I expressed some concern. Sure enough, when I googled “Rottweiler purr,” I discovered Fergus is not alone. Some people even refer to the trait as the “Rottie rumble.”

Over time we discovered that Fergus varies the sound of his “purr” depending on where and how vigorously we pet him. His deepest, most satisfying tones come as a result of a tummy rub, while he is stretched fully out on his back.

Click here for a sample of Fergus’ vibrato.

Presidential Blackberry

Friday, November 7th, 2008

John McCain supporters upset by critics who scoffed at the presidential candidate’s lack of technical skills, consider this: Calvin Coolidge had a Blackberry.

Blackberry was one of a multitude of pets kept by Calvin and first lady Grace Coolidge at the White House from 1923 to 1929. The Coolidges acquired the black chow during a trip to the Black Hills, their summer home in the presidential years and the place where Calvin received horseback riding lessons from cowboy “Dakota” Clyde Jones. (more…)

Canine military hospital opens in Texas

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Military dogs will benefit from state-of-the-art technology at the new $13 million veterinary hospital at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, TX. Lackland is the only base in the U.S. that trains dogs for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

“We act as the ‘Walter Reed’ of the veterinary world,” said U.S. Army Col. Bob Vogelsang, the hospital’s director. “We are the support organization for the 341st Air Force Training Squadron, which is responsible for acquiring, training and distributing the dogs. But the Army is the only branch with veterinarians so we provide the veterinary care.” (more…)

Heaven’s Angels carry on

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Pet lovers will enjoy an article and slide show that appeared in Sunday’s online edition of the New York Times. Heaven’s Angels, by Caroline H. Dworin, is about a group of animal-loving, tattooed bikers in the New York area who act on behalf of abused animals. The men organized about 15 years ago to volunteer at shelters and eventually began to tackle cases of missing or abused animals. About a year ago, they took up the name Rescue Ink, and now work full time investigating cases of animal abuse. Click here to link to the article and slide show.

Working dog

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

A few of you have asked for an update on Fergus, who just turned 16 months old. I am happy to report that he is now able to resist the temptation of most moving objects, including furry critters, small children and wheels. Most of the credit goes to my husband, who jogs with him every day, and to Cesar Millan, “the Dog Whisperer,” and his DVDs.

Fergus has become so fit, in fact, that today I found him carrying an eight-pound dumbbell in his mouth. I knew this was not the time to ask him to “drop it.” Besides, I was impressed with his initiative. Just a few weeks ago, he was carrying around a five-pound weight.

Mostly, he tries to be helpful. Recently I came home to find him cleaning the house. With the assistance of his buddy, Brother, a Havana Brown cat that is handy at opening cabinet doors, he had found a toilet brush and a container of Comet cleanser and was working on an oriental carpet in the entryway.

His breeder said she thought that he would make a great working dog. I thought she meant herding, but it must have been tracking — Comet cleanser all over the house.