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.

Michelle Obama walks her dog too.

My mom woke me up from my morning nap to share the story of Bo Obama, the new White House Dog. Here’s just one story.

Apparently Michelle Obama has not been wildly successful at getting her daughters to walk Bo. So she’s up at 5:15 AM walking the dog and she’s assumed dog training duties.

I have to congratulate Michelle on stepping up. Too many parents adopt a dog and then give it away when the kids get bored.  My mom wonders if that’s what happened to me, but I’m not saying. I believe in burying the past. I only dig up things at the dog park.

Adopting a dog is a commitment for life. And that’s a good thing.  I hope Michelle Obama realizes that she’s actually getting a great deal when she walks Bo early in the morning. There’s something about getting out in the fresh air and bonding with your owner, from my point of view. And my own mom Cathy says she loves waking up and looking forward to a walk with me.

Even when I go out to the dog park with my Aunt Sara twice a week, there’s something special about my walks with my mom. That’s our bonding time, even when I pull on the leash and most of our conversation is mom yelling, “No! Down! Stop eating things!”

Michelle Obama has a lot to look forward to.

Adopting a new city dog? Think “experienced”

Another thing my mom did right when she adopted me: She didn’t even consider a puppy.

“Unless you are an experienced dog owner with a lot of time, your urban dog should be a city dog,” she says.

She’s right. Apart from training, a puppy can grow up in surprising ways. Sometimes we see another dog when we’re out on our walks. Let’s call her “Fido.” Fido’s owner bought her as a puppy from a breeder. Fido’s owner chose the breed carefully. We’re not sure what the breed is, but we think it looks just like one of the mixed breeds we  see in the dog park. (We’re a little biased.)

Fido is super-mellow and playful but she has one serious problem. She’s afraid of traffic. Fido’s owner has to take walks at night. They drive to the Regrade urban dog park, for heaven’s sake. That’s just a mile or so from where we live.

And Fido doesn’t handle boarding well. She freaks in day care.

Lesson to my readers: Forget the puppies. Get a seasoned dog like me. What you see is what you get.

Right now you get a dog that’s ready for a nap.

Need a new city dog? Think “foster home”

I don’t claim to be an expert on dog behavior. My mom isn’t either. Otherwise I wouldn’t chew so much.

But as a city dog, I believe mom did the right thing. She found me in a rescue group that keeps dogs in foster homes. My foster mom loved me (who wouldn’t?). She wanted to keep me but her husband said they had too many dogs already.

My mom was very worried about adopting a new dog. After all, she had just lost the first canine love of her life, the sainted Keesha. “Will Gracie eat cats?” she asked. “Will she bark?”

Of course my name wasn’t Gracie then. But my foster mom knew a lot about me. She knew I would be fine with cats because she had cats in the foster home. She knew I wouldn’t have a barking problem. And she knew I liked to chew on my chew toys. (Of course, she didn’t realize that when I came to Cathy’s house, everything would be a chew toy.)

For more tips, visit http://www.yourcitydog.com

My mom is testing a new website. She’s determined to make money from me. “Your namesake, Amazing Gracie, helped found Three Dog Bakery,” she reminds me, almost daily. “So far you’re just running up bills for vet care and pet sitting.”

I’m not worried. If Mom didn’t send back our high-maintenance housemate Oophelia, I’m not going anywhere.

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.

Canine Urban Princess Gets The Ultimate Day in the City

Mom says today was the ultimate in urban living for a canine — and for her, too. She was behind schedule so we flagged down a Yellow Cab to take me to the Dog Lounge.

We CUPPIEs know how to ride in a cab. I sat straight on my mom’s lap, looking out the window, and didn’t budge. The driver likes dogs (otherwise he wouldn’t have stopped for us). I started to help him by licking the window, but my mom was horrified. “Gracie,” she said, “you don’t need to wash the windows.”

I spent a delightful morning being pampered with a workout in the Big Dog area, followed by a bath, pedicure and ear trim. Summer gave me a beautiful red and white bandanna to wear home. Everybody on the bus made a fuss over me. “Such a well-behaved dog,” they said. “So beautiful.” It was a community of urban bus riders. And all created by me.

“What’s her name?”

“Gracie. Amazing Gracie. Or Princess Gracie.”

“What’s her breed?”

“All American Mutt,” my mom says proudly.

Come on, Mom. You’re a copywriter. Can’t you come up with something more…regal?

Yeah, right.

Secret Agent Gracie? Or Princess Gracie?

Here I am at the Downtown Dog Lounge, greeting my faithful subjects, Summer and Cynthia.

dog with sunglassesAs a CUPPIE, I don’t spend much time in the big play area with the other dogs. I sit on the couch and get the respect I so richly deserve.

My mom says this picture makes me look like a Secret Agent. Well, no one is better at sniffing out food.

But I’m a celebrity. Didn’t Jackie-O have big sunglasses?

Dog Park a Community

Our neighborhood dog park, Regrade Park in the Belltown area, used to be a scary drug park. We love going there, or at least I do. I like jumping on the walls and leaping off the ledges.

And sometimes I just need to stretch out. Yes: that’s me in the foreground of this photo. me at the dog park

Mostly, I like all the attentiion I get from the other dog owners.

Yesterday we ran into a delightful woman who recognized me at once.. She cooed to me in baby talk and gave me a good butt scratch. She even brushed away some of the fur I’m shedding for summer (got the hint, mom?). Turns out she’s a physician in private practice.

I’ve also been patted by people with tattoos and piercings, people who are homeless and come to the park to share the love, people who are living in subsidized housing, people who are in the military, people who are living in mansions, lawyers, real estate agents…you name it. “Jail to Yale,” says Lindsay, our volunteer Park Steward.

There’s even a Regrade Park virtual community on yahoo. Recently, my mom read me a note from a Travel Nurse we met a few months ago. While she’d been working in Seattle, she wrote, she used to come here and she appreciated the community. She missed us!

True. My mom likes coming here because she meets real live people and has real conversations, after a day of working on the Internet with invisible people.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some folks wn’t come at all. They go to the country parks.

But with a mom who hates to drive, it’s a perfect park for a CUPPIE (Canine Urban Princess) like me. I bet we go at least once over this weekend.