Aww……City Dog and City Dog Owner Enjoy the Dog Park

My mom just got her hair cut. She was so tired of fussing with the sides and dealing with frizz. So she marched into her hair stylist and said, “Cut it off! Cut it all off!”

I wasn’t there, of course. It’s illegal for dogs to hang out in hair salons. But that’s just fine. Why would I want to be there? They have cold shiny floors. There’s nothing to do. It smells funny.

My mom’s first dog, Keesha, was a guard dog. Actually she was a mix of two guard breeds – keeshond and chow – so she could be ferocious. She would rather be with Cathy on a cold cement floor than sit on a soft cushion in the next room.

Not me. Give me soft anytime.

But I like sitting on top of this ledge. Lindsay sits here, when she’s in the park, and occasionally she can be persuaded to give me a treat. She’s always good for a tummy rub or a good butt scratch.

Lindsay’s taking this picture. See how my mom’s smile looks more like a grimace? That’s because she’s within a mile of a camera, even if she reailzes she asked for it. She’s the least photogenic person on the planet.

I look like I’m bonding with my mom, don’t I? Don’t fool yourself. My nose is continuously on alert for treats and edible garbage. My mom and I disagree on the definitions of “edible” and “garbage,” but that’s another story.

Dog Days Are Getting To Us

We’re having record heat in Seattle. Since we rarely get hot weather, my mom says, nobody has air conditioning. I was restless last night and even the Momster had trouble sleeping. That’s rare for her.

The cats are stretched out, looking miserable, but not too tired to scarf up their crunchies and some canned food. Mom felt sorry for them and opened a can. Ophelia adores canned food. She’s the ultimate food fuss.

Mom is going out tonight so she says she’ll probably put me in the Dog Lounge overnight, so we can all get some rest and I won’t be caged in the heat while she’s gone. “If I didn’t have teleseminars to attend, as participant and speaker,” she says, “I’d head for the air conditioniong myself.”

Yaay…if this works out, I’ll get to spend time with my buddies. When mom suffers, there’s usually a silver lining…for me.

Friends over for dinner? No way…

My mom was skimming through a library book, Life Is Friends: A Complete Guide to the Lost Art of Connecting in Person, by Jeanne Martinet.

She isn’t crazy about the author’s idea: Invite people over for dinner. My mom would have to bring food from the deli section of Metropolitan Market. Her guests would have to sit on the floor.

“And we would have to schedule dinner for the day the cleaning service comes.” Alas, so true! The book says don’t bother to clean for guests. I think they need to make an exception for my mom.

“This book is so filled with detailed instructions,” Mom said, leafing through the pages.  “Look at this, Gracie. All these details about houseguests, househosts, challenging situations like drunken brawls…

“Oh no!”

My ears perked up.

“If you’re single, you are supposed to invite two couples over to avoid the dreaded triangle…and preferably a single friend for yourself.”

Mom tossed the book ainto the “return immediately” pile.  She got up from our couch and headed off to find her shoes.

“Come on, Gracie. Let’s go for a walk. We need to go by the pet store and order you some food.”

Yes! She just said the magic words. They usually have a treat for me, too. Dogs have friends everywhere.

Memo to Michelle Obama: Dog not crazy, just young

Michelle Obama described the First Dog as “crazy.” Apparently Bo, the Portuguese Water Dog, likes to chew on people’s feet, according to this story.

One night Bo woke the president and First Lady at 10 AM, playing with his ball. Michelle said they thought they heard a person out in the hallway, but there was Bo.

See, they didn’t listen to me. When my mom read stories of Obama’s new dog, I said they should get an adult dog, preferably a rescue mutt like me. Puppies are a nuisance. They never stop playing. I’m much more restrained. I go out with my Aunt Sara twice a week and the rest of time time I am happy to sleep on the sofa.

Then again, I’m getting on in years. “You’ll be seven in October,” my mom keeps reminding me. “That’s getting into the senior dog category.”

Don’t remind me, mom. Pretty soon you’ll be getting the senior discount when we ride the Metro bus system together.

Mom’s a dog-gone fitness fanatic

My mom is truly a fitness fanatic. She works out three or four times a week at the gym. When the weather’s decent, she takes me for walks.

In fact, that’s why she adopted me. When she took me for my first check-up at the vet, she wasn’t there for my health. She was there for her own benefit. “Will Gracie be able to go on long walks with me?” she asked the vet. “That’s why I want a dog.”

From the beginning, I was set up to be an accessory. I’m not loved for my self and my scintillating personality.

As if that weren’t enough. Cathy worries that I don’t get enough exercise. So every Sunday, while she works out at the gym, I’m in the Downtown Dog Lounge of Seattle. Fortunately the staff is not nearly as fanatical. They sneak me treats and let me snooze on the couch while Cathy thinks I’m running around chasing other dogs. I play with my special group of friends. I help out at the reception desk. They use me for temperament-testing when new dogs apply to join our pack.

This morning Cathy warned me, “Gracie, I’m off to the ballet this evening. I want to see my favorite female dancer, Kaori Nakamura, perform the lead in Swan Lake and this will be my last chance. So you’ll be crated up for at least for hours. Better be tired.”

No problem, Mom. I am zonked. I slept all afternoon. We’re both getting older. I don’t need to run marathons anymore. And a few more treats won’t wreck my midlife figure.

Good thing Mom didn’t have human kids. They’d be ready for boot camp by the time they reached college.

Dogs driving cars? No way!

My mom just came across this cool post on another blog, this one written by a human. Put your paw here to read the full story.

My mom would never let me ride with anybody in the front seat. When she had the First Dog, the sainted Keesha, she had a Toyota Corolla. Keesha was trained to ride in the back seat — always.

Now she lives in Seattle and we mostly ride buses. But sometimes we get rides with Cathy’s friends and acquaintances. When I go along, I sit in the back seat and look out the window. That’s the appropriate place for a CUPPIE – a Canine Urban Princess. I deserve to be chauffeured around.

When I first moved in with Cathy, I didn’t know much about cars. I sit on Cathy’s lap on buses, so I figured I’d do the same. We practiced with my Uncle Lance’s car, a Toyota Camry. Cathy held on to my leash so I wouldn’t leap through the window. As if! Why would I leave a soft comfy car to run in the traffic? But it makes her feel better.

Now I’m a pro. I sit up straight or sleep on the back seat.  Uncle Lance is especially grateful that I never, ever mess up the car. If I need to toss my cookies or do my business, I wait till we have arrived at our destination.

Why wouldn’t I? I want to be invited back.

Mom is a snow-phobe

Yesterday evening my mom came home from the symphony, humming bits of Tchaikovsky’s 1st Symphony. Winter Dreams.

No, I didn’t recognize the tune. I am a dog, remember? She told me and the cats all about her latest musical adventure.

But then she took me out for my Late Night Walk. Winter Dreams? More like a Bad Dream. We were attacked by big fat wet snowflakes. And my mom was freezing, even in her parka with two sweaters. We walked half a block and Mom said, “Gracie, we aren’t going anywhere.”

OK, I have to admit it. I took care of business with haste and led the trek back to our apartment.

This morning all the buses were screwed up on account of snow. Mom was late getting to the gym and dropping me off at the Dog Lounge. She was irked.

I didn’t care. I spent an hour playing with the other dogs. Then I moved up front and helped my Big Sister Summer run the front desk. My job is to entertain everybody and pose for PR photos. It’s a tough life.

Summer sent my mom home with 2 sample packets of my favorite treats. Thank goodness. Since my mom went on her new diet, she’s been watching mine a little too enthusiastically.

Economics of Dog Ownership

My mom Cathy was discussing Richard Florida’s book, Who is Your City.

“Florida’s right about home ownership,” she was saying. “He says home ownership restricts mobility. He’s got some good ideas about revising rentals.

“But,” she went on, “he missed some other factors that keep us from being mobile. Health insurance is a biggie.”

Right. But what was his greatest omission?

Richard Florida says that communities who welcome gay and lesbian couples enjoy greater economic prosperity than those who don’t.

But what about cities who welcome Canine Urban Princes and Princesses? Seattle would rank Number 1 – and it’s one of the most prosperous cities in the United States. Lots of jobs. Ridiculous property values.

When Mom wanted to move from New Mexico, she chose Seattle because the city is more dog-friendly than her other choices. She’s never been crazy about the rain. But she loves the dog parks and the fact that I’m welcome in all sorts of places. She loves taking me on buses.

And when dogs are welcome, owners spend more discretionary income.

At one time, our favorite coffee shop, Uptown Espresso in Belltown, allowed dogs. You’d see me and my canine friends, snoozing away under the tables. One lady even brought me a muffin because I was so good. (My mom refused to let me eat it, of course.)

Then the Health Department stepped in. No more dogs! Now Cathy makes her own coffee at home most of the time.

It’s not exactly scientific. After all, I’m a dog. What do you expect – controlled experiments?

Maybe Richard Florida’s next book will have a place for dogs. If they need cover art, I’m prepared to pose naked, with or without a moving van.

Forget Wife Swap…Let’s do Dog Swap

My mom Cathy likes to watch Wife Swap on ABC. Actually she doesn’t watch…she multi-tasks when she has to something boring. Every show has a Super-Neat Wife and a Super-Sloppy Wife. Cathy loves seeing someone who’s a worse housekeeper than she is.

Here’s how it works. The wives swap homes. (They do get their own room in the new house: totally G-rated.) For the first week, each wife follows the home’s original rules. Then in Week 2, they try to get their new families to follow their rules. Chaos ensues. And at least one family emerges changed by the experience.

So…how about a new show: Dog Swap. I’ll swap homes with an upscale dog somewhere in a mansion on Lake Washington. Maybe for a week I could be Bill Gates’s dog. But of course I could end up with some workaholic who would be gone all day. Or a neat freak who would make me stay in a crate or even outside. Yuk.

For the first week, I’d go along with the program. I’d sleep in the crate. I’d eat the generic food. I’d give the resident cats a wide berth. And I’d chew everything in sight.

But then we’d come to my rules. I’d sleep on the bed. I’d ask for top quality food with extra treats and chewies. I’d teach thedog on sofa cats how to play some new games. And I’d offer them the deal I have with my mom: no chewing if I can sleep on the sofa.

Hey, what’s the big deal? This is how dogs operate naturally. First we go along with their rules. We wait for just the right moment. Then we announce the new rules.

We train our owners. We change their lives forever. We show them a whole new way to live.

And we don’t get a show. Has anybody talked to ABC yet? All I need is an agent. I’m a natural.

Dog owner to eye doctor, dog to park

gracie the dog getting treat at vetOn the right you’ll see a photo of Ruth, Office Manager of UrbanVet. She knows how a vet visit should be concluded: with me, the VIP client, getting a special treat. So I look forward to going to the vet.

My mom, Cathy, avoids the human equivalent of vets – the MDs. “Mostly arrogant jerks,” she says.

But on Monday she got busy on the Internet. I heard her telling someone on the phone, “I keep seeing this black shape…like a large bug floating in front of my left eye. Yuk. I really hate doctors…maybe I’ll wait.”

Oh no. I am too old to be trained as a Seeing Eye dog. I gave her The Look. She gave in, canceled her afternoon appointments and turned me over to Aunt Sara for a trip to the park.

When it comes to doctors, my mom is a wuss. I try to set a good example for her when I go to the vet, but no luck. Fortunately I wasn’t allowed to accompany her to the eye doctor. I would have been so embarrassed.

First, every time she meets a doctor (even socially), she clenches a fist, points to her bicep and says, ”How many women my age have muscles like this?” Usually they cave in and agree: she’s in awesome shape. She never used to tell her age but now she loves to brag (not to mention being the miserly type who grabs all the senior discounts).

And then she pitched her services…to the eye doctor. True, they really need a website and she’s pretty good. And we can use the money to buy me treats, manicures, dog lounge visits and trips to the park.

Anyway my mom got a clean bill of health. She wasn’t really surprised. But she was surprised with the service. “They were so nice,” she said. ‘Not at all arrogant. No talking down to me. I was amazed.”

But she didn’t get a treat, did she? Hah. They’ll be sending her a big bill.

“I bet it’s bigger than the bill we got for your eye infection,” she sighed when we were back home together on the couch.

Good. Nice to keep things in perspective here.