Dog Blog

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I'm proud to have an essay of mine included in the upcoming PEN Oakland anthology, "Fightin' Words-25 Years of Provocative Poetry and Prose from "The Blue-Collar PEN," which will be available for purchase November 2014 from Heyday Books. I consider myself fortunate to share the pages of this literary volume with some illustrious company, including Norman Mailer, Paul Krassner and Kitty Kelley.  

Some of the advance praise for the book comes from Eugene B. Redmond, who was my poetry professor at CSUS.  I took his Black Poetry class and loved hearing him read from the works of other notable African American poets like Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes.  Unfortunately, my timing was a bit off to have studied with Maya Angelou, who was also teaching at Sac State around the same time.  I think I'd already graduated by then.  Born too soon.

Monday, August 11, 2014


If you enjoy children and want to promote empathy for animals, RedRover has a training opportunity that may interest you:

Join us for a RedRover Readers training workshop on  Sunday, August 17 at the RedRover Office!

The RedRover Readers program is a social and emotional learning program designed to help children develop compassion and empathy while building their listening and critical thinking skills.

RedRover Readers volunteers and trained teachers read in elementary schools, animal shelters and after-school programs. Using pre-selected books about animals, teachers and volunteers facilitate discussion about the children's thoughts, feelings and experiences about animals.

Sunday, August 17
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
RedRover Office
Sacramento, California

Saturday, August 09, 2014



After 20 years Bojangles still grieved for his dog, and 27 years later, I still grieve for Butterscotch, my first beautiful red and white basset.  Of all the dogs we've had, she was the most well bred, the healthiest, and had the best temperament.  Our Butter lived to be 12 1/2, but succumbed to bloat on a hot August day.  She'd had two previous bouts of bloat from which she rallied, but the third time was just too much for her dear old heart.  

Until our tragic experience with Butter, we knew nothing of the basset's tendency to bloat, along with other deep-chested breeds.  Since then, I have always been cautious not to exercise our dogs within a couple of hours before or after meals and don't let them drink too much water after exercising.  We've had no others bloat like that, and I learned about the magic of dosing my dogs with simethicone to prevent tummy troubles.  You can get it in your grocer's baby section.  It comes in a dropper bottle, which makes it easy to administer to your pet.  One dropper full usually does the trick.  

This was a very hard lesson to learn about the breed.  It was hardest of all for poor Butter.  Sadder yet, I was not there with her when she drew her last breath.  It haunts me still.  I hope she forgave me.  Perhaps she did, because when I sat down that evening I lost her and poured all my loving memories of her into a journal, it was the beginning of my sojourn into being a dog writer. 

Friday, August 08, 2014


I always dread the arrival of dog days of summer.  I have lost two dogs to the month of August, one on August 9 (Butterscotch, our first basset) and the other on August 15 (Patience, Butter's successor).  I have two old dogs, Peaches (11-ish) and Beau (about 10).  Beau is having issues, so I pray we make it through these dog days together without incident.  I had hoped to take them up to Lake Tahoe this weekend, but there are too many thunderstorms there right now.  Beau hates thunder, and he has trouble traversing the trails near the cabin. His hindquarters are becoming awfully weak, and he has control issues.  He made three mistakes in the house today.  How I hate seeing my dogs get old.  I do hope we get to go to Tahoe again sometime, though.  They both love it so.  All my dogs have! Whatever happens, I have great memories of our Tahoe adventures, most of which end up in my books. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I see a lot of people exercising their pets mid-day on these extremely hot days and worry about the dogs because their people sure don't seem to be.  Of course, a lot of people don't have much sense about how to exercise themselves safely when the mercury rises to triple digits and air quality sucks, but their dogs don't have any say in the matter.  They'll obediently trot alongside their  owners until they drop.  Please don't make them do that!  The dangers of dehydration and overheating in summer can put your dog at risk of illness or death.  Learn the warning signs to look for. Here's advice from the AKC Canine Health Foundation. They talk mostly about field dogs, but the advice applies to all dogs.


Monday, July 14, 2014


International Exhibition 2014

Reception: 8/30/2014 1PM to 3PM
Location: The Sacramento Fine Arts Center

5330 Gibbons Drive
Carmichael CA

Sierra Pastel Society 'PASTELS ON HIGH International Exhibition
Juror of selection: Gerald Boyd
Reception planned for Saturday, August 30, 2014 from 1 PM to 3PM.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


It was a good day to cool the dogs off in the yard with a bath, though we never use ice cold water from the faucet. We only use tepid and then a cool rinse. We tried to made quick work of it to avoid wasting water so the golf courses can be kept lush and green.  Beau used to balk at bath time, due to PTSD (Post Traumatic Shelter Disorder) from his incarceration at the Stockton dog pound, where he was probably hosed regularly.  Now he loves his bath; well, likes it more, anyway.  Both he and Peaches enjoyed it this noontime and lay on the front lawn afterward--splendor in the grass for wet dogs on a hot day.

The sun was intense once the clouds parted.  It was so hot I felt like a bug under a mean kid's magnifying glass.  Humans must have finally destroyed Earth's ozone layer.  I took shelter under the small shady patch from the birches while the dogs dried off some.  After only a few minutes in the sun, Peaches, who has a predominantly black coat began to pant. Beau, who is mostly white, was not panting at all.  Soon, Peaches had had enough sunshine and came over to where I was to sit in the shade with me.  A couple of minutes later, I decided they'd dried off enough and we went back in the house where it was cool.

I hope that the people I see running their dogs around town on these hot days remember how quickly they can overheat, especially if the dog has a black coat like my Peaches does.  Unless you're a mad dog or an Englishman, for mercy's sake stay out of the noonday sun, and protect your best friend from it, too.