Dog and Owner go to the Folk Festival (with mixed feelings)

Yesterday evening my mom Cathy decided we should go to the Folk Festival for my evening walk. We’re just ten minutes away, by foot and paw.

“We should take advantage of Seattle,” Cathy said.

Good! I love festivals:seattle folk festival

  • Lots and lots of people (so I get tons of attention – one total stranger gave me a full-body massage)
  • Lots of food on the ground so I can nibble my way through the park
  • It’s easy to steal food from somebody who’s balancing a paper plate and a drink on the grass
  • Lots of dogs (so I can jump up and say hello).

Mom hates festivals because

  • Lots and lots of people (she gets claustrophobic in crowds)
  • Lots of food on the ground (her arm hurts from pulling me away from a limitless supply of snacks).
  • No place to eat (balancing a dripping plate while sitting on the itchy grass isn’t her idea of a dream meal)
  • Lots of dogs (because most of them don’t want to play and they get nervous when I jump up to greet them)

“Well, let’s check out the music,” Mom said bravely, steering us to one of the stages.

Alas, she concluded, Arlo Guthrie is the only folk singer she wants to hear these days, preferably from a comfy seat in Benaroya Hall.

Seattle People are SO Nice

Visitors and newcomers immediately comment that Seattle people are “nice.” They rarely get mad. They’re not pushy like people in other big citites. They’re friendly.

“Sometimes it’s just too much,” a displaced New Yorker told my mom, who was born in New York and retains a Big Apple soul. “You just want to scream at somebody.”

Just yesterday, my mom was holding me firmly by the leash (I have a tendency to get distracted by motorcycles and would love to take off into the street…cars? what’s a car?). She was on her way to the bus stop, waiting for the light to change, when a total stranger came up and asked, “Are you looking for something in particular?”

“We’re just waiting for the light to change,” Cathy said, in a very un-Seattle tone.

“Uh-oh, Gracie,” she said. “That woman probably wanted to be helpful. She thought we were lost. But I’m in a neighborhood holding a dog. Do I look like a tourist?”

Just a couple of days ago another stranger told Cathy, “Those leashes aren’t good for dogs.”

“I’ve discussed her leash with my trainer and my vet,” Cathy said. “She’s fine.”


Our feline housemates are declawed. Cathy adopted them that way and they’re happy, healthy and not at all neurotic. Pushy, yes. Demanding, yes. But very polite and they purr all the time, except when I try to play with them.  Just don’t tell any well-meaning helpful Seattle citiziens.

Cathy’s going off to exercise class. Good! She’ll work off some indignation and then we’ll go do something constructive together…like visit the dog park for the umpteenth time.

Saggy Jeans? How about NO Jeans?

I was enjoying a peaceful (pardon the expression) cat nap, when my Mom Cathy woke me up.  She was swearing at an article in the New York Times. You can read it here.

Apparently some people are up in arms over baggy jeans that sag down and show the guy’s boxer shorts. Virginia and Louisiana have considered making this fashion a crime.

“Don’t these people have enough to do?” my mom wondered. “Can’t they find another way to use our tax money?”

I agree. With all the dogs out there who need walks and more…but I digress. Those folks should come here if they want to see something really gross.

Yesterday my mom said, “Enough running around, Gracie! You’re scheduled for 2 trips to the park this weekend. Let’s just walk over to Seattle Center.”

So we did. Boh-ring. The place was filled with trucks unloading for Bumpershoot, a fall festival my mom avoids. (“Pay to get into a place to buy the usual festival fare? I’d rather go see a ballet,” she says. Of course I don’t get to go to the ballet, but that’s another story.)

So we turned to go home when my ears were flattened by whistles, yells, and (pardon the expression) cat-calls. A herd of bicycle riders were headed our way, right in the middle of traffic. Mom put me into a “sit” so I wouldn’t run after them. They were yelling and waving.

Saggy jeans? One guy was riding his bike wearing no jeans…and nothing else either. Stark naked riding a bike? Yuk. I poke around in unmentionable piles at the dog park and even I had to avert my eyes.

“It’s a monthly protest on the last Friday of the month,” a young guy explained to my mom, as he parked his bike nearby. “They’re protesting the way cars create traffic.”

“We don’t even have a car,” my mom said virtuously. “But why ride…um…nude?”

“This is Seattle!” the young man said, waving his hands to encompass the city around us.

So get over it, baggy jeans people. At least they keep their shorts on.

We Don’t Go To The Parade

Yesterday my mom took off for a few hours. She wanted to go a few places where I am not allowed. I don’t mind being left in my crate. For one thing, I have my favorite kong toy. I’m near a window so I catch a breeze. Best of all, my mom feels so guilty after leaving me, she takes me on a long walk when she comes home.

Sure enough, yesterday afternoon, we walked over a mile to the dog park. By evening, the weather was cool and we both enjoyed the breeze from the sea. I ran around the park for awhile, until Mom realized a big parade was happening a block away.

I hate parades. All that buzzing and honking and shouting. Last year at Seafair they shot off a cannon and I almost shot through the roof. (Back then, I was still allowed in coffee shops. Another story.)

So I sat on my furry little butt and refused to budge.

We tried one block. Even Mom decided: “Too crowded! OK, Gracie, I’ve seen a high school band before.”

She began to have second thoughts, but I won that round.

We came to a bus stop. “Good! Now we can ride home,” I said, settling down to wait.

“Oh no,” Mom said. “The schedules are all screwed up with parade. We’ll get home faster if we walk.”

“Rrr.” No way.

Some nice people came by and said, “Oh look…The dog wants to wait for a bus! Isn’t that cute? The poor dog…”

I tried to look sad and pathetic. Such a mean owner! But it was hard to look sad when my fur is all shiny and fluffy from my professional bath (not to mention the gourmet food my mom orders).

We walked. And we walked. We were exhausted. But I still had energy to chase the cats around Cathy’s living room… especially that fat tabby who thinks she owns the place. If she were human, she would be old enough to vote. And she never lets us forget.

Why We Ride Seattle Metro

[My mom Cathy wrote this entry before I took over the blog.]

When I tell people I don’t drive, they first assume I can’t afford a car.

Actually, up to August 2005, I had a wonderful Toyota Corolla. I sold it four days after moving here, through Craigslist.

Why? I really don’t like to drive through rain, traffic, bridges and tunnels. I’m a cowardly driver: in traffic, everyone else gets to go ahead of me. I brake a lot on bridges and tunnels.

Once I was braver. I learned to drive in San Francisco and drove a VW there for years. When I moved back, years later, to attend grad school at UC Berkeley, I had a little 5-speed Nissan Sentra – a 1985 box. I drove across the Bay Bridge almost every day and later drove back and forth to Chico, California, where I taught for three semesters while finishing my PhD.

I kept it for 11 years and sold it in Canada. The locks broke and I was moving to Philadelphia, a bad place for an unlocked car. The Nissan’s new owner, a woman pilot who lived in the bush, she had no need for locks (and she could repair the car herself). For all I know, the car still runs around the Canadian wilderness.

When I moved to Florida in 1998 I bought a Toyota Corolla with air conditioning, automatic transmission and 4 doors. It seemed so luxurious! Four doors seemed excessive till I got Keesha, my very first dog. Forty-five pounds with extra fur on top.

I drove all up and down I-95 which was terrifying. Lots of tailgating drivers who made interesting gestures when I pointed to the rearview mirror.

I drove to New Mexico, where I lived for four years. Almost every month I went to Tucson, Arizona, which is one of the most beautiful drives in the entire country and maybe the world. Southwest drivers are kind. They signal for lane changes. They rarely tailgate. They pull over during thunderstorms, which is good, because the roads flood easily and even SUV’s can hydroplane.

I drove to Santa Fe where my car was rear-ended by a driver who admitted she wasn’t paying attention. Amazingly, the insurance paid everything and her company paid my deductible.

But I couldn’t wait to stop driving. Hence my move to Seattle. Driving four days in a car packed with 2 cats and a 40-pound dog convinced me: I don’t want to do this anymore.

And I haven’t.

Gracie: From Dog Rescue to Urban Princess

Gracie: One year anniversary of dog adoption
Guest post by my mom, Cathy Goodwin

Just one year ago January 2, 2006, the foster mom delivered Gracie from nearby Bellingham, WA, to my home in Seattle. I don’t have a car so they drove her down. I made an extra donation to cover the cost. I chose her from a photo on the Internet, mainly because she was the right size and she got along with cats.

Christopher Aust (a dog trainer you can visit on the Internet) gave me a long list of questions to ask the foster mom and LOTS of advice, like, “Don’t get a dog like the one who just crossed the bridge!”

He was right. Gracie is totally different from Keesha, my first dog. She’s s short-haired and very athletic. I wish I could say it was love at first sight but actually she drove me nuts. I thought I’d have to send her back! She was just 3 years and 3 months and she had the energy of a puppy. She wandered around the apartment looking lost. She ran and ran around the dog park and never got tired. She pulled on her leash. She chewed everything in sight; she even pulled a book off a shelf and chewed it up. One day she chewed her leather leash into tiny squares and ate most of them.

Fast forward a year. The vet says Gracie doesn’t look like the same dog. She had her first professional grooming, ever, and now she looks forward to baths and nail trims. She adores the dog lounge and they adore her: the receptionists often keep her up front during doggie day care because “she’s so cute and so much fun to hang out with. In fact, she has a fan club all over Seattle.

I vowed she’d never be allowed on the furniture. Well, we made a deal. She doesn’t chew if she gets to sit on the couch or the bed. She has her own cushion on each place. At night (or when I go out) I tuck her into her crate. At night she gets a peanut butter kong and she starts licking her lips as we return from the last walk of the evening. Oh yes, she’s very good on walks now, rarely tugging.

I must say I am astounded at how a dog’s personality can change in a year. We have a coffee shop that allows dogs. At first she would nervously stand and try to walk around. Now she knows the drill: she sits quietly while I drink coffee and half-heartedly looks for crumbs on the floor. On buses she sits in my lap, looking adorable and passengers always come over to pat her. One woman insisted on keeping Gracie on *her* lap. (Yes, in Seattle dogs ride buses. They ride free if they fit on your lap.) We love Seattle Metro.

And while I’m working, I’m training her to sit on a cushion in my home office and watch me adoringly. We’re making good progress! Usually after a couple of treats and worshipful looks, she’s sound asleep.

She spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with me as we visited friends. She was the star of the holiday. She didn’t care for the fireworks at the Space Needle or the cannon at the Seafair Parade.

I changed her name to Gracie after I adopted her, after the book Amazing Gracie by Dan Dye. Now we are calling her Princess Gracie.