Friday, January 23, 2009

All Hail Big Sky Country!

Truman has just informed me that HB 191 did not pass in Montana!
This ban would have allowed current pit owners to register their dogs but would have banned purchase or breeding of American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Bull Dogs and
"any dog that has been registered at any time as a pit bull terrier or has the physical characteristics that substantially conform to the standards established for the breeds listed in this subsection by the American kennel club or the united kennel club."

Truman thanks everyone who spoke out in opposition to this bill and recommends that anyone is favor of Breed Bans please check out this site.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Golden Age of Ugly

Better known as "The 1970's". Just last night, I was enjoying a latte at my neighborhood coffee shop and browsing their bizarre collection of used books. I happened to see a cookbook from what I guessed was the late 70's (1979, it turns out, a bit late for my taste, but amusing nonetheless) and absently flipped through it. In the dessert section was a recipe for fruitcake, a questionable confection at best, and an accompanying photo showed the "cake", garishly specked with red and green "fruit" surrounded by a looming corps of Corn Husk Angels.

Feel free to check out The Corn Husk Shoppe. For all your wholesome (or wholesomme?) corn husk needs. As long as you don't need more than three varieties of corn husk items.

With the temperature hovering around 30 degrees most days, I was forced to purchase some outwear for my canine statesman. Poor Truman, though he has lost the "skeletor" look he had when I first got him, he still has very short fur and .000001% body fat and therefore no ability to keep himself warm. Truman would spend most of his walks shivering and doing his best to drag me back home where he would then procede to run laps through the house in an effort to burn off excess energy without having to go outside.

I wasn't sure how he'd take to a jacket, or if I could even find one to fit him since most dog clothes are made for the tiny varieties. Luckily, I came across this dashing fleece-lined jacket! Truman wanted tweed, but was willing to compromise on the red fleece. Look, he's so snug and warm that he's not freaked out by the larger than life statue of Sigmund Freud looking at him with calculated disapproval!

As one would expect, people we encounter on our walks are universally moved to "Awwwwwwwww!" at the sight of Truman trotting happily down the street in his little jacket. An added bonus is that Truman seems less motivated to act like a jerk when he sees other dogs. I guess it's difficult to look like a tough guy in a jaunty red coat.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Now, normally, the phrase "Alt-Country Band from Brooklyn" would make me want to impale myself on a broken PBR bottle, but I love love love the Coydogs.

Just try to get this song out of your head.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wherein our Heroine Learns That There Are An Alarming Number of People Who Have Never Eaten Tuna Casserole

Yesterday evening I had plans to watch The Best TV Show Ever with my friend Tintern. I inquired whether he thought a tuna casserole would be appropriate fare for the night's activities. Imagine my surprise when I received this text message in response: I've never eaten tuna casserole.

After I recovered from my shock and picked my lower jaw up off the floor, I set to work preparing one. While my noodles were cooking, I got a phone call from my friend in Minnesota. I jokingly made reference to the tuna casserole shock I had just received and Sara confessed to me that she'd NEVER HAD IT EITHER.

So then, that got me to thinking... is Tuna Casserole really an All-American staple or did I just have a warped childhood?

I did a little research and discovered that canned tuna dates back to the early part of the century. However, the first known recipe for Tuna Casserole was published in 1941 by the Campbell's Soup Company. Apparently they developed Cream of Mushroom soup explicitly for use in Tuna Casserole. (Does anyone actually use it for soup? Or is it like Lipton's Onion Soup mix which, as far as I can tell, no one uses for anything other than dip. Or on a rare occasion, meatloaf.)

Casseroles, which refer to the dish in which they are cooked, were heavily promoted during the Depression and the Second World War as economical and nutritious meals. Later, in the 1950's they remained popular dinner options for the time-pressed housewife. The 70's brought about the advent of Hamburger (and Tuna) Helper which further streamlined the making of this popular dish.

An informal office and email poll today shows that most people seem to have grown up eating Tuna Casserole at least once, usually more often. Thank goodness.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Truman Makes Me Proud

It's not easy having the most popular dog in town. I mean, what with the paparazzi following us around and snapping pictures of me with my hair all askew and the constant pleading for interviews and appearances at ribbon cuttings.

Still, every so often Truman doesn't make an ass of himself and, by default, me.

The other night I was going to meet a friend for an evening walk (hi, Mika!) and on my way over to her place, we ran into one of my neighbors. This guy is a charming older gentleman who I frequently see walking his cute, brindle Am Staff-mix. His dog is not only gorgeous but also well behaved, excepting that she doesn't like other dogs either. He and I frequently have shouted conversations with one another from opposite sides of the street while telling our dogs to "shhh. stop it. SIT! No, SIT! Good dog... shhhh. No! SIT."

Anyway, he was sans dog this time, so Truman and I stopped for a chat and he said, "He's really come a long way." I agreed and mentioned something about Truman being kind of a nightmare when I first got him. "I know", he said. Then he mentioned that he was talking to someone at 7-11 and saw me walking by on the other side of the street. The person he was with said, "See that dog? That's how I want MY dog to behave." "I told him, she's put a lot of work into that dog. He wasn't always like that. You've done a good job with him."

I was pleased as punch, and Truman wagged his tail in approval as we continued on our way.

One of my other friends had commented to me that "you hold your pets to a really high standard." Which is true, but I think it's especially important for bully owners to make sure that their dogs are shining ambassadors for the breed. No dog should be out of control or ill-mannered, but the general public tends to be a lot more forgiving of toy dogs or popular breeds. Pits definitely have a bad reputation (Thank you, Michael Vick.), and nothing makes me happier than when people meet Truman and ask what kind of a dog he is. As he is happily leaning on their legs and licking their hands, I can proudly say, "He's a pit bull!" Frequently, people are surprised and say things like, "But he's so sweet!" and it's a nice opportunity to dispell some of the negative sterotypes that surround these dogs.

And of course, his fan club continues to grow with every walk. Just yesterday, we ran into a group of kids who were so excited to find out that Truman loves sticks that they followed us on our walk and pointed out all the best looking sticks, and a waiter at Friendly's who commented "Awesome dog. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome." as we walked past the restaurant.

I'm seriously thinking about starting a fan club. I just hope Truman lets me join.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bully for you!

Life with Truman continues on at it's familiar, exhausting pace. There were a few times (like when he ate my glasses and most of a mattress) that I seriously considered rehoming him in a moment of extreme depression and financial desperadoes. I even consulted a dog behaviorist (not cheap) about his dog-on-dog issues. Turns out, he's not so much aggressive as he is a "knucklehead with no impulse control."

Since then, I've discovered several things:

1. The Gentle Leader: Head collar designed to help control Truman's frenzied lunging at other dogs. Worn in conjunction with #2

2. Hot dogs. Yes, hot dogs. The ONE FOOD I CAN'T STAND. Truman, however, will sell his soul for a hot dog. Or even just a piece of a hot dog. Or a piece of regular dog kibble that's been sitting in a sandwich baggie with a piece of hot dog.

The two of these things have really improved the quality of our walks. Instead of me sobbing and pleading and stopping every five steps to try and regain his attention, all I have to do is rustle the ziplock bag and suddenly it's OHMIGOD I'M SITTING. LOOK. LOOK. MOOOOOM! LOOK. SEE ME SIT? WHAT OTHER DOG? DID YOU SAY HOTDOG?

We're not perfect by any means, but more often than not, I can easily distract Truman from other dogs and continue on past without a scene. On some occasions, when he hears another dog bark, he will actually LOOK AT ME instead of lunging for the dog. It's like reverse clicker training! Dog bark = hot dog! Which is great, because we've tried the clicker and Truman ran and hid under a blanket and would not be convinced that CLICK = TREAT, but rather CLICK = dog eating dinosaur zombie attack imminent!

3. Swimming: Truman is so insanely athletic it scares me. I've gone from being semi-regular gym-goer/climber/yogi to
'I'm physically exhausted all the time.' I can't keep up. And if he doesn't tire out, see above re: mattress eating.

Lucky for us, Truman loves to swim! What's more, I just have to stand on the shore and chuck a tennis ball into the water and wait for him to go get it. Repeat 500 times.

Last week, I decided to take Truman for a walk in the Park. There was a concert going on and a zillion people, animals, bicycles and all manner of distractions. I thought it would be good for him to get used to a lot of different things happening around him so I armed myself with a huge quantity of chopped up hotdog bits and prepared for the worst.

Fortune smiled on us however, and it was 90+ degrees and 200% humidity (Truman tires out easily in the heat). We walked around the park without incident even though there were dogs everywhere. Truman, of course, made friends with everyone we passed, and was a perfect gentleman. We were walking by a tiny, elderly man in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank and Truman made a beeline for the man and stood next to him with his head in the man's lap. I apologized for Truman being overly friendly and but the man said that was ok, and started stroking Truman's head and telling me about his dog. We talked for a few minutes and the whole time, Truman was standing like a statue with his head in the guy's lap just being an absolute angel.

I may be jaded and unimpressed most of the time, but I have to say, Truman, I'm proud of you. Thanks, pal.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Truman Show

About a month and a half ago, I found myself adopting a dog. It was one of those instances where you are wasting time on Craig's List and are suddenly compelled to email a poster about their haunted piano. Or a pit bull.

It was a typically sad story: stray dog, saved from doggy death row at a Rhode Island shelter, needs a good home. I agreed to meet him "just to see", but knowing full well that once I had him in my house, he was not likely to be leaving.

I was prepared for the challenges of having a dog, especially one with an unknown history. What I wasn't prepared for was having a dog who is one of the "popular kids".

The very first night I had Truman (he seems like a president, or at least someone with wire rimmed glasses) I took him to PetSmart to get him a collar that fit. We were in the store about 2 minutes when one of the employees came over to tell me what a beautiful dog I had. (He IS cute, don't get me wrong.) We speculated about what breed he is, most likely pitt/boxer and who knows what else, and went to pay for our stuff. A woman waiting in line behind us also commented on how nice he was. I was surprised, but pleased. I was used to having a dog that you could barely take anywhere for fear of him causing a huge scene. Or a llama riot.

Over the past weeks, I have kind of gotten used to the attention. Not that anyone is paying any attention to me, mind you, just my dog. Everywhere we go, people stop to talk and tell me what a nice/cute/beautiful/great dog I have. And it's not just certain people, it's everyone: children, the elderly, firefighters, gangstas, used car salesmen and women in mini-vans.

I live in a decidedly urban area and "tough" looking breeds like pitts definitely appeal to a lot of people, usually for the wrong reasons, but I'm really amazed by Truman's mass appeal considering how much bad press these so-called "vicious" dogs receive. I mean, we've all seen and heard news stories about small children getting mauled by pitt bulls, heard about the horrors of illegal dog fighting and seen cities and states all across the US ban ownership of "aggressive" breeds. So, when mothers with small children ask to pet my dog, I can barely hide my surprise.

Truman is by no means perfect. He likes to chase squirrels, he doesn't always come when he's called, he gets excited when he sees/hears/smells other dogs and he totally destroys any toy not tested on wolves. But, overall, he's a good dog. I like to think that as much as I did him a favor by giving him a home, he's doing wonders for people's impressions of bully breeds and maybe giving a pitt bull in a shelter somewhere a better chance of getting adopted.