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Friday, April 28, 2006

Pie-Eating Pugs, and Other Tales of Canine Capers

An adorable children's book came my way the other day: Once I Ate a Pie, by Patrician MacLachlan, a winner of Newbery Medal - the Pulitzer Prize of kid-lit - and her daughter, Emily MacLachlan Charest (Joanna Cotler Books).

For 6-8 year olds (though 8 seems too old and 6 seems not young enough, but I don't have kids so what do I know?) it has 13 one to two-page chapters about dogs like Lucy, the loving shelter pet, and Pocket, the tiny pup with delusions of grandure.

The sweet illustrations by Katy Schneider look like paintings (she and the authors have collaborated on another kids' book featuring a dog, called Painting the Wind). Big ''awwwwww!'' factor here.

A sample: Luke (a Saint Bernard): ''The sun is warm, and I sleep. I dream about when I was young. I chased snowflakes in winter. And ran through the grasses in spring.i still bark when I want to. And tonight I might howl at the moon.''
And there's old Luke, lying in the grass.

To see Katy Schneider's artwork, including the cover of Painting the Wind, ''about four painters who come to the same island each summer, as seen through the eyes of a young boy''), click here.

Dining Out With Your Dog Almost the Law

The state legislature is within a woof of permitting your best friend to eat out with you (as long as it is, indeed, out(side). From today's Herald:

Things literally went to the dogs at the close of the Senate's debate Thursday night.

The Senate approved a measure that would create a three-year pilot program to allow municipalities to seek an exemption from a state rule so that outdoor café patrons can bring their dogs with them.

The proposal by Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres could be voted on as early as Friday. A similar proposal is slated for House debate.

A division within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation now prohibits dogs from joining their owners at public eateries.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dogs, Chickens, High Fashion, and Dave

So, did all you alert readers (to borrow a signature Dave Barry phrase) notice a ''house ad'' - that's newspaperspeak for ads in the Herald promoting Herald people/things/events - on page 5B of the final edition this morning?

''We're serious about blogs,'' it says, then goes on to picture four Herald bloggers - including yours truly - and a decidedly unserious photo of Dave (is there any other kind?), who's no longer an official Herald person but remains involved in several ways, including writing his own blog for us.

Well, this gives me the opportunity to reprint a column Dave wrote about me and my pets in 1993, which conferred immortality on my barnyard fowl, Chuck E. Chicken; Harpo (pictured here), the golden/collie mix who came to Florida with me from Kentucky in 1989, and Maybelline, a rescue Dalmatian (all, alas, deceased).

I had recently been the Herald's fashion writer which, considering my uniform of jeans and more jeans, was so absurd that I'll borrow another Dave-ism and swear I'm not making this up.

In the meantime, here's the column, which is as funny today as it was at the time (who else but Dave can throw dogs, chickens, high fashion, Henry Kissinger, and of course, boogers, into the imaginary hopper and come up with something that makes sense, in its own whacko way)?



DAVE BARRY Herald Columnist

Recently I had the honor of being asked to vote in the International Best Dressed Poll. According to the information accompanying the Official Ballot, this is a worldwide poll, conducted annually since 1940, of 1,000 "fashion professionals, journalists and others with the daily opportunity to see fashion at its best."

I was very proud to be asked to vote, although in all honesty I should note that I was not, technically, asked by the Best Dressed Poll Committee. I was asked by Ellie Brecher, who received a ballot because she used to cover fashion for The Miami Herald. She gave me her ballot because she was busy trying to get somebody to adopt an extra dog she had acquired.

Ellie collects stray animals. One time she collected a chicken, named Chuck E. Chicken, which she found wandering around as a baby (I mean the chicken was a baby). When you went over to Ellie's place, there would be Chuck, striding nervously around on the floor, trying not to get stepped on, shooting her head forward and back in the manner of chickens and middle-aged people trying to read restaurant menus.

Me, I'd never have a house chicken. I'd be afraid that some night, while I was sleeping, the chicken, fed up with almost being stepped on, would hop onto the bed and peck my eyeballs out. Why not? What would stop her? Fear of arrest? No, society has very little hold over chickens, unlike dogs, which are desperately eager to please society, because society, unlike dogs, knows how to open dog-food cans.

Speaking of dogs, Ellie has acquired a stray one, a Dalmatian named Maybelline, because, as Ellie notes, "she looks like she's wearing eye makeup." Ellie can't keep Maybelline, because she (Ellie) already has three dogs, including one named Harpo, who has asthma, which means that Ellie has to squirt a nasal inhaler up each of Harpo's nostrils twice a day, a procedure that, if you count the time required to get Harpo calmed down afterward, can consume as much as seven hours per nostril. Thus we see why, what with one thing and another, Ellie simply did not have time to participate in this year's International Best Dressed Poll.

To help voters decide whom to vote for, the Poll Committee sent along a recommended list of "international personalities," including princes, princesses, counts, duchesses, entertainment stars, moguls and people with names such as -- this is a real name -- "Mrs. Sumner Pingree III." You just know that a person with a name like that has a monthly footwear budget larger than your mortgage payment.

Also included with the ballot was a list of people who have been inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame, including Ronald Reagan, Mrs. Henry Kissinger, Queen Elizabeth II and Bianca Jagger. I'm sure these international personalities all deserve the honor, although in all candor the Queen does occasionally appear in public wearing what appears to be motel furniture on her head. But we all have fashion lapses. Two years ago, for example, I flew all the way from Miami to California to make a speech, and when I got there I discovered that I had one black shoe and one brown shoe. Fortunately I was speaking to people from the newspaper industry, where you're considered to be at the height of fashion sophistication if you have your pants on frontward, so nobody noticed.

Speaking of the newspaper industry and Mrs. Henry Kissinger and nostrils, I feel compelled at this time to tell you about the Nov. 13, 1992, issue of the Brazilian newspaper Jornal do Brasil, which was sent in by alert reader James Phillips. The front page features two large color photographs of Mr. Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, aggressively picking his nose at a trade conference in Rio de Janeiro. I am not making this up. The first photo shows Mr. Kissinger sitting with his translation earphones on and a little American flag in front of him. He has that faraway look that guys get when engaged in nasal maneuvers; his whole consciousness appears to be centered in his left pinkie, which is wedged deep into his left nostril. In the second photo, he has the same look on his face, only now he is holding something between his thumb and his forefinger, and his mouth is open, and . . . yuck.

The caption under the pictures makes no mention of this. It merely states that Mr. Kissinger is in town for the conference. Apparently the Jornal do Brasil did not wish to cause any embarrassment for Mr. Kissinger, other than to run two large color photographs of him on the front page playing Booger Patrol.

I felt bad for Henry, so I decided, as a humanitarian gesture, to vote for him in the International Best Dressed Poll. I had a harder time deciding whom to vote for in the women's category, but I finally settled on an individual who has perfected an elegant yet exuberant look, a brand-new "take" on the classic black-and-white motif. This is an individual with breeding, personality, soulful eyes and -- above all -- a keen sense of smell. I refer of course to Maybelline Brecher.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wilma Was Robbed!

That indignation popped up in my e-mail from my colleague and friend Lori Durham, whose Wilma is the mascot of the Herald's early Sunday ''bulldog'' edition.

Attached was a link to a story out of Des Moines about a magnificent beast named Hannah crowned ''Most Beautiful Bulldog.'' The Herald ran her picture, in full regalia, in today's 5 Minute Herald.

Having seen the fabulous Wilma out and about yesterday, I can attest that she is equally regal and equally deserving of the title.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- To those who know her best, Hannah is the ultimate girly girl. She enjoys socializing in the neighborhood, wearing fancy outfits and pursuing a shoe fetish that would rival any Hollywood starlet.

But Hannah doesn't wear shoes - she eats them. Still, that didn't stop this 2-year old English bulldog from beating out 49 others to claim top prize in the 27th annual "Beautiful Bulldog" contest Monday.

To read the rest of it, click here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Puppy Love...At a Discount

The Humane Society of Broward County offers reduced adoption fees for senior citizens (and those nearly there).

If you're over 60 and adopting a dog over 3 years old or a cat older than 6 months, you qualify for lower adoption fees, says Cherie Wachter, spokesperson for Broward Humane.

"This program connects senior citizens in need with animals who need love," she says. "Clinical evidence indicates that pets help people stay healthy. People with pets have lower blood pressure, fewer heart attacks and less illness. They live longer and happier lives."

Potential adopters must still meet all the HSBC adoption criteria.

The shelter, at 2070 Griffin Road in Fort Lauderdale, is clean and bright and a great place to look for just the right furry companion.

Regular adoption fees are $85 for dogs and $70 for cats. If you are 60 or older, that drops to $35 for dogs at least 3 years old, and $20 for cats at least six months old.

All pets are spayed or neutered before leaving the shelter, given up-to-date vaccinations, a tattoo for identification, an ID tag and a 14-day health-care plan.

Adoption hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. For more information, call 954-989-3977 or click here for the website.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Cool New Animal Shelter Concept

My friend Joan, ''mother'' of Jake, a black lab, sent me a link to the Washington, D.C., Animal Rescue League site, which features a description of its newly-renovated ''cageless'' shelter. What a great concept! To check it out, click here

Vivi Sightings Galore, But No Proof That It's Her

More than two months after Vivi the whippet bolted from her crate on the tarmac at JFK International Airport in New York, the search continues. Lots of folks report having seen the dog, and searchers are still looking from the air and on the ground.

Vivi, you'll recall, had just competed at the Westminster Kennel Club show when she escaped on Feb. 15. Her owners and breeder haven't given up and are still searching themselves and rallying volunteers to do likewise.

They post frequently to a Newsday blog called Animal House, the latest entry just today. For an update on the Vivi saga, click here.