"Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war...."
-- Julius Caesar

"Life...is a tale...full of sound and fury...."
-- Macbeth

"No woman can be too rich or too thin."
-- Wallis Simpson

"Let them eat cake."
-- Somebody, but not Marie Antoinette

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Qu'est que c'est?

There were some Splenda packets on the floor. I paid them no attention. I was looking for the real food.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Little Dog Has Disappeared; It Is Not For Me to Question Why

Little Dog has been missing for several days. All I know is that Guy Who Feeds me put me outside, then Little Dog went away with the Lady Who Dotes on me. The Lady Who Dotes came back. So far, no Little Dog.

This situation has not been bad. Without Little Dog there is peace and quiet. I don't always have to be on alert. Little Dog often malfunctions -- she barks at things and people and dogs who are not much of a threat. She is too sensitive and needs to be reset. Since I am the protector, because I am Big Dog, then every time Little Dog's alarm goes off I have to jump to attention. I'll tell you, jumping to attention isn't like it used to be. The hips are just a little sore these days.

Without Little Dog nobody barks at me while I'm trying to eat. That means I can eat leisurely. It also means that there is no one to keep the chewies away from me. Little Dog needs to give up her chewies more often. I don't like this sharing thing. I don't like when Guy Who Feeds and Lady Who Dotes tell me that "you've already had yours" and "that's not yours." When there's no Little Dog, it's all mine!

When Little Dog is here I don't like getting up on the bed. She likes to be there. It isn't fun when i have to share the bed with her. But now that she's gone, I'm on the bed all the time.

It's good to be the only dog.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pug Cameo in "Sex and the City" Movie

There is a pug in the "Sex and the City" movie. The pug is in the scene where the blonde lady gets her fur coat covered in blood during New York fashion week. The pug is being carried by a lady who tells the blonde lady that she is being cruel. This is an heroic pug. Very brave to stand up to fashionistas.

I, Poppy, am ambivalent about the anti-fur movement. On the one hand, I have very pretty fur and do not want to part with it. On the other hand, I am not always in solidarity with other creatures with fur coats. I really, really like my lambskin rug. It is very soft. Warm in the winter, cool in the summer....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Clear Mandate

Have no fear. Poppy's Blog will continue to bring you incisive political commentary even though the election is over.

Chief on my mind is the appointment of a First Pet. On election night, I was pleased to hear that the President-Elect is going to come through on one of his campaign promises and bring a puppy to the White House. In fact, there was obviously a clear mandate among the segment of the population that felt strongly about the importance of the appointment of a First Pet (that is, Malia and Sasha Obama and I); there must be a dog in the White House.

However, the election has been over for three days and no First Dog has been appointed. I hear speculation when the radio is on, and when the Humans are watching The Colbert Report, but I have yet to see action taken. It seems to me that such an appointment is an immediate need, especially given the fact that the President-Elect is now receiving intelligence briefings. A First Dog would give him solace. Unfortunately, the President-Elect has only appointed a Chief of Staff and a transition team. None of them are canine.

This state of affairs is causing me concern as I am wondering if we can expect such slow moving from an Obama administration. When Poppy barks, she expects people to listen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Celebration

While the humans celebrate with champagne, I have run away with the cork.

Winner

I, Poppy, project that Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States.

Some More Election Night Coverage

A subdued attitude in the house. I was chased away from an empty take out box. My Daddy keeps changing the channel to Fox, so that he can gloat while Brit Hume and Juan Williams try to figure out what went wrong.

Election Night 2008

Even More Election Night Coverage

I am now closer to the plate. I am on the edge of the sofa, looking down on the coffee table. The tension in the room is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

More Election Night Coverage

There is food here. People are eating in front of the t.v. That means the food is on the coffee table -- in close proximity to my nose.

Some one's plate is sitting there, unattended. But there are lots of humans in the room. I cannot sneak over and take something off of the plate without three people seeing me. So I'm lying here on the sofa, close to the plate.

Maybe the humans will all leave the room at once so I will be alone with the plate.

Election Night Coverage From Poppy's Blog

This is an exciting night at my house. Mommy's class was canceled so both of my parents are home. My Uncle R. is here. I am getting a lot of attention.

There is a lot of knocking on wood tonight, so I am on alert. Knocking wood sounds like a knock on the door. When I hear knocking, I bark. I do this so that I can welcome whomever might come to the door and so that I can help scare away the evil spirits that might be hearing hopes that they want to quash.

I am hoping that there will be treats. Knock wood.

Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallow's Dogs


Candy, Candy Everywhere...

Tonight is Halloween. That means that I wear my pumpkin costume and try to sneak candy out of the bowl. Just a few minutes ago, a found a wrapper and tried to eat it. It took two humans to corner me and force it out of my mouth. Such is my dedication to eating things.

All night children have been coming to the house and leaving with candy. They have big bags full of it. But my favorite thing about children is that they pet me and tell me I am cute. Sometimes they are more interested in petting me than they are interested in getting candy. Whenever they knock on the door, I get excited and rush to greet them. My tail wags the whole time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Home Again

I am home after spending almost an entire week with my grandparents. While I was at my grandparents' I was spoiled. They bought me lots of new toys, all of which I loved to play with. My mommy even detected Greenies on my breath. The only thing I didn't like was going to the groomer. True, I did get a pretty bow and get to play with the nice people there, but at the groomer I have to get a bath. I, Poppy, do not like baths.

When my mommy came to pick me up today, I showed her all of my new toys. Then I got to go for a ride in the car.

When we got home, the little girl from down the block was waiting for me. I greeted her. She gave me a pet. She laughed. She said she liked my tail.

I was happy to see the boys when I got home. All of us went to the school yard to play as a celebration of my homecoming. Duncan chased his ball until he got stiff and Daddy had to take it away from him. I ran after Duncan. I love to run through the grass.

Later, after we had our snack and Mommy and Daddy had their dinner, Mommy gave us the drippings from the pan. We ate with relish.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Announcing My Facebook Page

I, Poppy, now have a page on Facebook. I invite you to friend me. I like being friends. Facebook is also good for when you want to see what I am Up To At Any Given Time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The other day one of my fans suggested that I might just be the smartest pug ever. Though I thank that fan for his faith in my abilities, my opinion of myself differs.

In fact, I really do not have an opinion of myself. That would require self-awareness, which, most of the time I do not have. I might have it at times in the morning when I have not yet been fed. However, I have a feeling that my awareness of my hunger is just instinct and that what I really am aware of at 5:30am is that you have not yet fed me. So what I am really aware of is that I am small and lacking thumbs and need some one of the primate persuasion to open the food bin for me.

But back to the issue of my intelligence, or lack thereof. It is true that I, Poppy, am a sophisticated, liberated pug who leads a charmed life even though I live in Highlands now and no longer in Cherry Creek. I would say that even though I keep a blog and am politically aware, I am not the most intelligent put ever. Indeed, my grandma says that, like Pooh, I am a pug of very little brain*, and another fan of mine has called pugs, "Brain stems on legs." (This last assessment may be a little neocortex-centric as I am a mammal and have a mammalian brain). At this point, I should say that I am smarter than the pug who lives on the corner with the McCain/Palin signs on his lawn. Any pug who is for McCain is not looking out for his own security.

It is true that I am virtually untrainable, that when you tell me to sit I just bark at you. It is true that when I am outside I sometimes and without thinking chew on random leaves and vines.

My curiosity is my strong point. I am a very curious pug. If you are doing something, I want to be right there with you when you are doing it. I want to see what you are doing, and smell the tools you are using to do it. I want to see what everything tastes like. I want to sniff at every part of the garden, and every corner of the house. I want to look inside spaces I'm not allowed. I want to go into your brief case and pull out your pens and your headphones and stuff my nose right down into the seams so that I can tell if there is anything in there that would be yummy for me.

So curious? Yes. Smart? Not so much.

*Yes, I know that Pooh is a bear. So does my grandma.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Me, at the table


As a pug, I am always trying to find the highest spot in the room. We also like food. We are very busy dogs, always looking for crumbs.

I have recently made it a habit of climbing up on the chairs and sitting, as if I were a human child waiting for a meal.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wrapper

Sometimes food comes in wrappers. I, Poppy, have seen the ones with thumbs eat food from wrappers. I have stolen the wrappers from the trash can.

Food in wrappers can be found in Mommy's handbag. There was some food in wrappers in there the other day, but I found it difficult to open the handbag with my teeth. I chewed on it a little and then gave up.

Again the other day, when I was up on the table where I am not supposed to be, I found wrapper with something in it. I tore open the wrapper. I shredded the wrapper. But there was nothing in the wrapper. Just a printer cartridge.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Law and I

This is a photograph of me standing on Black's Law Dictionary and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. They are convenient boosters.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another View of Foreign Relations That I Share With Sarah Palin

Another thing I share with Sarah Palin is a myopic view of the world brought about by not having ever been anywhere. For the record, Governor Palin has been to Canada, which she can see from her state, and Mexico, which she cannot see from her state. She has also been to Kuwait. Mommy flipped the globe over so I could see the Northern Hemisphere and then showed me that Kuwait is on the other side of the world from Alaska.

I, Poppy, can see the children of Mexican immigrants from my front door. I see them at the school. I hear them speaking Spanish. I have lived in two neighborhoods, and have been on the trip of a lifetime to Breckenridge. I often go to Commerce City, and have spent considerable time in Littleton.

In all, I am a sophisticated pug.

Sarah Palin's Reasoning is Just Like Mine

I, Poppy, would like to point out a habit of mind that I share with Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska and Republican Vice Presidential Nominee. (I also share a chromosome with her, but that doesn't really matter, as Gloria Steinem has pointed out). Fans! Sarah Palin thinks like a five year old pug!

As you will remember, part of my reasoning for endorsing Senator Obama is that he is taller than Senator McCain and therefore would be better protection if we were walking down the street together toward Vladimir Putin. And I am sure you remember that Governor Palin has said that her state's proximity to Russia is a cornerstone of her foreign relations experience.

Well, a few days ago when Katie Couric interviewed the Governor, she asked her why she thought such proximity was important to a person's foreign relations experience. Fans, Governor Palin answered as I would! She said that when Putin "rears his head" he goes to Alaska.

We are going to need some one very big to stand behind.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I, Poppy, Announce My Endorsement for President of the United States

It has been a very exciting election year for me. The Democratic National Convention was in my town, and I got to take a walk and see what it was all about. The conventioneers on the street liked me a lot. The anarchists were particularly fond of me. I did not really like the anarchists, though. I, Poppy, am all about law and order. I like to lay down the law, and if there is no order, I get anxious. The anarchists tried to pet me, but I was aloof.

Such behavior is atypical for me. I usually love everybody. I was having a bad time picking a candidate to endorse, as I always go up to everybody and kiss them or ask for a pet. I was even thinking about endorsing both candidates and Ralph Nader, too, because I have so much love to pass around.

But I am a dog, a pack animal. The rule about dogs is very simple, and has been passed down to humans by dog experts, like the Dog Whisperer and the Monks of New Skete. That rule is that we are always looking for a leader. We will follow any leader who presents himself, but if there is none present, we fill the gap by taking over. Simple. The need for direction in a dog takes precedence over the natural love that a dog feels. In fact, the love a dog has to give grows out of the direction that the dog is given.

I have applied this pack leader rule to the two presidential candidates, for what is this election about other than finding a pack leader for the United States?

Fans, John McCain is not a United States pack leader. He wants to cancel the debate with Barack Obama. What sort of behavior is this? He backs down from a fight at a crucial time? What if he needed to talk to say, Vladimir Putin, who is very scary? The United States needs a pack leader that it can hide behind when the big Russian dog walks down the street. (Much like I do when my mommy takes me for a walk and I see a big dog coming my way -- I walk behind her). I was also offended by the Hockey Mom whom he picked to be his running mate. She compared herself to a pit bull, which is utterly wrong. Pit bulls are more gentle. They are also smarter and know more about campaign finance than she does. Plus, they know when lipstick does nothing for them.

So I turn to Barack Obama and see a pack leader who does not back down from a fight. He is very tall, so we can hide behind him when Vladimir the Russian Mastiff breaks out of his yard. I, Poppy, know about submitting to the alpha dog, but there is no reason the alpha dog has to be mean, like Vladimir Putin. He can be nice, like my brother Duncan. Barack Obama is that sort of alpha dog. And we need that, as the United States is way on its way to omega. I mean it. It takes one to know one. Plus, he has little girls who I whom I would very much like to take me for a walk and play with me.

This is what I would do. I would vote Obama for America.

Barking at the Place Where Something Recently Was But is No Longer

This post is a response to TeacherRefPoet, who requested an IRRAC analysis of a common and necessary dog behavior.

I (issue): Whether something that has been in one spot will require me barking at the spot that even after that something has left the original spot.

R (rule): A dog's territory is everything within her line of vision, smell, hearing, reasonable jumping ability, and the extent of her imagination.

R (rationale): Because a dog moves, so does a dog's territory. For example, when I ride in the car, I must bark at people and things on the side of the road, as they have wandered into my territory. Sometimes there is food in my mommy's brief case. Sometimes there isn't, but I dig in there to try to find some. I am imagining that the food is in the brief case, so it becomes mine to dig through. The top of the sofa is mine. I'm going to sit there, even if you are sitting just below.

A (analysis): First, squirrels are of no interest to me. They do not have treats, nor can I catch them and shake them. Often, I pretend they are not there. Therefore, they are not in my territory. Second, children are a strange animal. They scream a lot. I must bark at them for such a time as I imagine they are out of my territory, or I have forgotten them, whichever comes first. Finally, I never bark as the postal carrier leaves. That is because she brings treats. I bark and then sit to command her to give me a treat. She passes it through the bars on the security door. Treats are her ticket into my territory.

C (conclusion): By barking loudly and consistently at what human beings think is nothing, I am able to control my surroundings.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rule of Living

I live a life governed by invisible, yet inescapable rules. They can be outlined and analyzed according to the traditional law school IRRAC format. I provide and example below.

I (issue): Children at the playground.

R (rule): If children are at the playground and I can a. see them, or b. hear them, or c. smell them. I must complain about them. Loudly. And I am a dog, which means that I am in charge of alerting the household to certain developments that I sense.

R (rationale): The household must be alerted to the clear and present proximity of the children to the house.

A (analysis): The children are across the street at the playground. Therefore, they are close to our house. It is my duty as a dog to warn the household of this proximity. So, I can complain about them in such a way that I also alert the household to their existence and closeness.

C (conclusion): Children are loud, smell funny, and move around a lot. It is necessary for me to tell everybody when I hear, see, or smell children on the playground.

The Fiction of Being in Charge

Today Mommy came home from studying. I do not like it when Mommy studies. She does not pay attention to me. When she studies, I like to go up to her garret and look out the window. I stand on the law dictionary. It boosts me up. That is how I feel about studying. And books. I do not like books.

So, Mommy came home and I was happy. I barked. I smiled. I looked at Mommy lovingly. She also brought food.

But Mommy left again. I didn't like this new development. She went out the door. She told me, "I'm just going to the car. See, you can watch me. I'm not really leaving."

I don't get this "I'm not really leaving" idea. So I barked with urgency. "Don't leave! Don't Leave! Don't leave!" My voice is very shrill when I bark with urgency.

But Mommy left. I watched her go down the stairs. Duncan watched her, too. I scolded her as she walked down the stairs. "Bad Mommy!" My voice is rather imperious when I scold some one.

But Mommy did not pay attention. So I turned around. I trotted back into the house and I scolded Daddy, because, with Mommy gone, who else is left to scold?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Friend

I have a new friend. This new friend is not a new Friend, my toy replica of a pug. This new friend is a little girl who I met last night when my parents had guests over. I like children, not only because they are small, like I am, but also because they have endless energy. This little girl was no exception! She found all my little golf balls and rolled them across the floor for me. I love that. She called me "Little Doggie!" and chased me around. I was possessed with happiness. I ran and ran around the house. I ran through the chair legs and around the island in the kitchen. I ran and ran.

After a while I got tired and had to hide under the table. It was about that time the little girl went home. For the rest of the night I lied on my side, panting heavily.

When Things I Find Are Not Toys

I have found very interesting chew-toy shaped objects in Mommy's study room. They also have a very attractive smell. They are perfectly shaped for my paws and jaws -- so easy to chew! I took one out of the room and left it by the stairs, with the little marks from my sharp, little teeth on the end. Later, I found another one on my Mommy's bench. I started chewing on it. It was very satisfying. But Mommy took it away. She said she needed it for school. She said it was the color she uses to highlight the precedent.

Obama Dog Update

The winner of the important AKC Obama family dog election is the Poodle. Please look to previous posts to see that I, Poppy, endorsed the Poodle as the Obama family dog.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama Dog

I live in Denver, not very far from Invesco Field at Mile High, where the Big Speech will be made. This means that there have been very important issues on my mind lately. Those are,
  • Since Mommy's professors are canceling class that night does that mean I get fed twice that day?
  • What is the affect of tear gas on big, bulging eyes?
  • For how long are all of those helicopters going to continue flying over our neighborhood?
  • What breed of dog are all of those people who voted on the AKC web site going to pick for the Obama family?
Voting is over, so if you didn't exercise your right, you are going to have to wait until another dogless individual gets nominated by a major party. You can go to the AKC web site and see who you could have voted for, or I, Poppy, could just tell you right here on Poppy's Blog who would be the best First Dog.

First, let me be clear that the AKC erred in not suggesting a pug for First Dog. As support for this decision they gave us the reason that the little Obama girls have allergies. It is true that pugs are dander machines, but we do have large personalities, which Senator Obama is going to need to offer to the press when, as president, he finds himself in a sticky wicket. They don't call it wagging the dog for nothing.

It has been suggested to me that I not dwell for too long on that which is not mine to have, like Duncan's food. I have not given up that option. However, I will turn my attention to the other breeds of dogs that were in contention for this hallowed role.

The nominees are: the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier; the Poodle; the Bichon Frise; the Chinese Crested, and the Miniature Schnauzer.

I, Poppy, have only met representatives of the Poodle breed. So, there. The Obamas should get a Poodle.

How Many Residences? What Does This Mean?

The radio is an important source of information for me. For example, in the morning it tells me when I am going to be fed. I know that the first time it comes on in the morning I am not going to be fed. I have to wait for the third or fourth time it comes on until one of the Ones With Thumbs feeds me. Occasionally, I ask to be fed after the first time the radio comes on, but that is rare, because I really never get anywhere with that. It is just sort of like procedure in a lawsuit. I petition to be fed. The court says no.

Additionally, the radio tells me when my parents are leaving for the day. When they shut it off, I know that I am going to be shut in the mud room.

Despite the radio as parental cipher, Fans, this post is not about the radio, but about what I heard on the radio. John McCain does not know how many houses he owns. In fact, he must have his staff tell him how many residences he keeps. This information is a distress to me. Why, you ask, should this distress me, for I, Poppy, have a city residence and a country estate? Fans, it is not about the number of residences one keeps, or that number added to the number of rental properties one is responsible for. Instead, I wonder how, if Senator McCain does not know how many residences he keeps, then does he know how many pets he lives with? The campaign has indicated that the McCains have 24 pets. If the Senator cannot keep track of four houses, how, then, can he keep track of 24 pets? Has any one ever asked him to name all of his pets, and list their ages, genders, and species? Does he know -- one can only hope! -- what kinds of foods these pets eat?

Please do not think that I am committing the fallacy of equating good leadership with good pet stewardship. I, Poppy, am not a very rational or logical pug, but even I look to the current residences of the White House and see dogs who are blinded by love and loyalty to a person who -- to put this gently, as I, Poppy, so very often fail to do -- is a better leader of dogs than he is of men.

The example of the White House today lends excellent support to the idea that all leaders, despite their greatness, or lack thereof, need great pets. How, Fans, can a pet provide appropriate service to a leader when that leader does not know how many pets he has to begin with? It seems to me that this lack of knowledge, if proven, is a fundamental breach between guardian and pet. I, Poppy, go so far as saying that it undermines a sacred relationship.

For these reasons, I, Poppy, am seriously considering not giving McCain the nod.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

2003 Pug

Last year the Onion, America's finest news source, reported that breeders were issuing a recall of the 2007 model pug. It was a dark day for pugs everywhere. You can read about it here and see a slide show of chronic pug problems:

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/dog_breeders_issue_massive_recall

I, Poppy, am a 2003 pug. I have not been recalled. Unlike the 2007 pug, which apparently is like a car engineered and manufactured in in Detroit in the 70s and 80s, I am more like a fine, Italian race car that demands frequent maintenance and almost obsessive upkeep. My quirks include:

  • Frequent ear infections
  • Frequent reverse sneezing
  • Frequent itching, especially after grooming
  • Allergies to all vaccinations, causing me to have preventive cortisone shots
  • Pleasant plumpness
  • Difficulty breathing without sounding like a distant train engine
  • Snoring (see above)
  • Compulsive shedding
  • Delusions

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Unreliable

It has come to my attention that some of my fans think that I am an Unreliable Narrator. In fact, I, Poppy, am a very reliable narrator. When am I inconsistent? Indeed, when am I inconstant? When am I not There For You? I am always standing guard at the door. I am always watching closely to see if the cupboard with the treats will be opened. I am your Boswell; I follow you everywhere. I am like the "flourish" in a Shakespearean play, announcing you when you enter a room, or when we get out of the car. When we are in the car, I bark so that you know we are close to our destination. What other narrators are so loyal?

Apparently, I am not the only narrator in American letters who has been slandered as unreliable. The others include, but are certainly not limited to

Huckleberry Finn
Holden Caulfield
Benjy Compson
Lemony Snicket

This list is particularly distressing because none of these characters in unreliable. In fact, you can rely on them entirely. Huck Finn decides to "'go to hell'" for Jim! Holden is just a lost boy, trying to find his way home. Like Holden, Benjy loves his sister. (Do you notice anything suspicious in the connection between the name of this character and the name of a famous celebrity dog?) Snicket? He's just trying to help those poor children.

I am appalled by the narrators you generally think are reliable. They deliberately attempt to lead you away from the truth, like the narrator of The Scarlet Letter. Do you really believe all of that Custom House bosh?

What about Ishmael? We don't even know his real name! Was he falsifying information on his tags?

And Scout Finch? You call her reliable? She's six, for heaven's sake. And I don't want to remind you what happens to the poor dog character in that book. If Miss Jean Louise is so reliable, why don't we see that whole episode from Tim's point of view instead of all of that praise for "One Shot Finch?"

Unreliable, indeed! Now I am going to leave the keyboard for a while, as I have quite a bit of sound and fury to disseminate to passers by our house.

Liberated

I, Poppy, am a very liberated pug. I do not discriminate on the basis of species, breed, race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. My choice of veterinarian is an example of this openness and tolerance for all. He is a man.

I know. Male veterinarians are an endangered species. Not only did the number of female veterinarians move past male veterinarians in 2007, it seems that veterinary schools are now 75% female. No one knows why that is. Moreover, most of these ladies are opting to become small animal veterinarians, not large animal veterinarians.

But I am not concerned with why; I am more of a what pug. Dr. K is just like any girl veterinarian. He still lures me with sweet talk, sticks me with needles, sticks the thermometer into my ear, checks out my teeth, feels my sides, gives me a treat because I am a Good Girl. Such actions are no different from the women who have examined me. In fact, Dr. K may be even more sensitive than the ladies. He has never suggested I lose weight. Moreover, he leaves the anal gland expressing to people in the office who have smaller fingers. Such a gentleman.

I am a small animal. In fact, I could be classified with Piglet as a Very Small Animal. This demographic shift in choices of profession affects me personally. I, Poppy, am going on the record as being in favor of veterinary schools doing more to attract men to the profession. They are just as qualified as women. We cannot let sexism rule the day.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Good One

Today, when there was no one in authority in the room, I climbed up on the dining room table. Mommy's handbag was sitting there. It was open. Because I am a dog and can get away with such things, I, Poppy, ignore the unspoken admonition against reaching into a purse that is not your own. This is a useless rule when there is an empty food wrapper in the purse in question.

I took out the wrapper and began to chew on it. Somehow Mommy knew that I was up to no good. She called from upstairs, "Poppy, stop whatever you're doing." It is interesting that Mommy assumed it was me playing with the wrapper. After all, Duncan was in the dining room, too.

It is a waste of breath to command small, willful animals such as I from out of our lines of vision. I continued to chew on the wrapper. From past experience, I knew I didn't have long.

Mommy descended the stairs. "What are you doing?" She demanded. I dropped the wrapper and ran under the table. I peered out from my hiding place to assess the situation. I witnessed this: Duncan, smiling and gazing into Mommy's eyes his tail pounding the floor in happiness, saying, "It wasn't me. I'm the good one."

The character of my anxiety changed immediately from anxiety based on my fear of Mommy being mad at me, to anxiety based on my fear that Duncan will receive a greater amount of attention than I. I ran out from my hiding place -- the fear of being yelled at trumped instantly by the fear of never being petted again.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Last in Line

The other night we went over to my other grandparents' house. There are dogs that live there. We were outside for a while. When we came in, we came through the door in a line according to our rank in the pack. First Duncan came in. Then Pepsi, then Cassie. Then I followed. Pepsi and Cassie are both old, blind, and don't walk very well. Even in that pack I am still Omega Dog.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hot Car Ride


We really like riding in the car. That means that we get to be with you. Sometimes we have to sacrifice comfort, like on hot days.

The Real Me

It has come to my attention that my fans might think that I am a prima donna, or in other words, a diva. While the stories about myself that I publish on this blog often highlight my drama queen nature, I, Poppy, am really very sweet. I am as sweet as pumpkin pie. I am as sweet as pudding cake. My mommy says so all the time.

Take for example my eyes. I am watching you all the time. What are you doing? I am curious. What do you have? What does it smell like? I am not always interested in it because it may be for me, I just want to investigate.

When I see you see me, my body stays completely still, while my tail begins to wag. This exact same thing happens when I am dreaming a happy dream.

I love you, so I want to be as close to you as possible. I sit next to you on the sofa. I put my chin in your lap. When you are sitting in a chair, I am lying on the floor next to you. When you are in bed, I am a the foot, lying on my bed.

Sometimes the world is oppressive. Like the heat. It wears me out. Sometimes I sleep in the bathroom because the tile is cool.

I am Omega Dog, so in company other dogs ignore me, or even snap at me so I will go away from them. Instead of playing with them, I go to a far away part of the yard and sniff around by myself. Every once in a while I come over to you, so that you will pet me, and remind me that I am part of a pack.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Family Event

We went to my Grandma and Grandpa's on Sunday to play with my cousins, Lucy and Bear. They are both bigger than I am, but not bigger than Duncan. When they are all together, I am caught between wanting to pay with the big dogs, and being afraid of being trampled by them. Further, they are all retrievers, and I am not. They bring the ball back to the One With Thumbs. I, Poppy, run after the ball, and then sit in the grass with it.

Late in the day my Uncle Josh was at the other end of the yard, throwing the ball for Duncan and Bear. We had been chasing the ball for a long time, and it was very hot. I was sitting in the shade under a chair, next to all of the humans. Duncan was stiff, and instead of running after the ball as he had been doing earlier, he was walking after it. Duncan was paying attention to the ball. Bear was really only paying attention to Duncan. Bear wants to be Alpha. Duncan will not let him. Lucy just wants everybody to let her alone.

Uncle Josh threw the ball toward our end of the yard. Duncan started to run after the ball, and Bear started chasing Duncan. No one had counted on me. I had been watching the ball the whole time. I dashed out from under the chair, and grabbed the ball. I laid down in the grass and put my paw on the ball, in the manner of a statue of a lion. No one tried to take it from me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Delivery

The postal carrier and delivery people all carry treats with them.  This fact is one of the reasons that I am very excited every time they come to the door.  When one of them comes, I sit to tell him that I would like a treat.  If one is not forthcoming, I stand on my hind legs and extend my long, stick-like, pug legs through the bars of the security door, reaching for the delivery man, in case he hasn't seen me.  

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Ceasefire

The bombardment has let up. The only sounds from outside are the pigeons who live in our eaves.

I am still on guard. Mommy sneezed, and I jumped.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Still Under Attack

We are alone now. The Ones With Thumbs have sealed up the house like it is a fortress. The blinds are closed. The doors are closed. We go out into the yard only for emergencies, then run right back in, bright chrysanthemums of light exploding behind us.

Attack!

We are under siege and have been since last night. The popping and whizzing noises from outside subsided for a while this morning, but now they are just as intense -- perhaps more so -- than ever before. The explosions are loud, and they are always followed by strange primate screams and laughter. Something very cruel is going on out there. I respond by barking and then lying with my eyes open extra wide, my chin in between my paws. Will this never end?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Post-election White House Dog

After exhaustive research to bring you, my fans, incicive political commentary, I have discovered that the AKC is helping the Obamas to pick out a dog for their daughters. You can read about it here: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/07/02/the-08-race-for-the-obama-dog-house/

Now, as promised, I, Poppy, am carefully considering the issues for you so that I can, at the appropriate time, endorse a candidate for president. The issue of a dog is a very important one. Remember how loyal all of the political dogs have been! Checkers stood by the Nixon family in times of crisis, and that family's love for him only kept them from being embroiled in Checkersgate. Fala stood by FDR even so much as to come under criticism and have to be defended by his master in a speech to the Teamsters. The Ford's dog, Liberty, made the Golden Retriever breed famous, and Buddy was the only Friend of Bill in the midst of a crisis. Millie went so far in her loyalty to developing a similar autoimmune disease to both her master and mistress.

And think of the controversy that dogs could get presidents into! Some people think that Lydon Johnson should have been impeached for picking up beagles by the ears.

If you want to know more about presidential pets, you can go to the web site presidentialpetmuseum.com.

So who is the most dog-friendly candidate? I am heartened to see that the Obamas are briging a dog into the family. That will be a very important step toward receiving my endorsement. However, the McCains seem to have a pet-centric household, having, by my reaserch, 24 pets, including dogs. If sheer numbers of pets qualify a man to lead the country, then this is the guy to vote for. Though I do wonder what with 24 of them, whether the pets get the amount of doting that I, Poppy, find appropriate for pets. Hmmm. I also wonder how many of them will be allowed to live in the White House.

The Obamas have young girls, so their dog will get appropriate doting, if the White House lifestyle is not the high-achieving yuppie lifestyle that I suspect the Obamas practice. My parents lead such a lifestyle and I am often disappointed by their failure to dote upon me constantly.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dogs at the White House

I, Poppy, have recently discovered the White House web site. I am not talking about the white house next door. No. I am talking about the house in Washington D.C. that was built for the President and his/her dog(s).

Navigating the White House web site is like sniffing around the back yard. It is not a linear progression, rather, it is a a path with stops, starts, turns, backtracks, and delays. A dog sniffing through this web site might go from the Oval Office straight to the East Room and then to the Roosevelt Room. My favorite is the State Dining Room. Such feats of cybernavigation are much like the way I experience riding in the car: I am stationary and everything around me is moving.

After much sniffing on the White House web site, past unimportant information about White House visitors, history, and scary images, such as the photograph of Condoleezza Rice admiring a portrait of Ronald Reagan, I found the dogs.

There are currently two dogs and one cat living at the White House. You can visit their pages and read their bios. Additionally, there are several films of the dogs that you can watch. But I have a problem with the way these films play on the computer. The images are so small. When I watched them I couldn't quite see the dogs. I could only hear them. It gave me the impression that there were dogs playing outside the window next to the computer desk. So I stood next to the monitor and barked toward the window.

I have included the White House Dog web address below.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/barney/missbeazley-bio.html

Monday, June 30, 2008

Prize

I am in the back yard. I am sniffing around. Today the sniffing is routine -- some ants, some leaves. Then I come across it. It is greasy and particularly smelly. It has been dead for some time. It is small enough to carry in my mouth.

I take it into the mud room and sit on my bed. I put my prize down so I can guard it. Duncan is mildly curious.

Mommy comes in from outside. Somehow I know this is not a prize she will want me to keep. I grab it again, but she sees, and comes toward me. "What is that?" she asks.

She comes closer. I am torn between wanting to keep my prize and wanting to please Mommy. Right now I am trapped in the end of the mud room. Mommy is in front of me and Duncan is to the side. The chances of me escaping to the yard to play with my prize are thin. Mommy says, "Drop it." I obey.

Mommy looks closely at my prize. I see that she sees its greatness. She says, "Oh, poor little dead bird!" Then she picks it up, takes a trowel off of the shelf, and walks with my prize out the front door. Duncan and I do not follow.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tom Sawyer

Duncan finished his chewy before I did. I, Poppy, wishing to avoid a shakedown, took my chewy and sat at Mommy's feet. After a while, Duncan came in and started kissing Mommy. I saw this, and wanted to kiss Mommy, too. (Mommy is particularly salty when she has just worked out). I dropped my chewy. But as soon as I started kissing Mommy, Duncan stopped, picked up my chewy, and took it in another room. I didn't know what hit me.

Grooming

I, Poppy, did not like taking baths at home. When some one starts running a bath around our house, I am on guard as I am suspicious that I'm going to wind up in it. Now that we are two dogs, we get baths at Petsmart. I do not like baths at Petsmart any more that I like baths at home. Baths are a good trip to Petsmart spoiled.

We are always excited to go to Petsmart. There are many exciting smells there, and often we go home with treats and bags of food. We are always excited at Petsmart until we go to the room behind the glass door. There is a gate in the room behind the glass door, and when a lady comes to take you through the gate you are scared and uncomfortable. Duncan knows right away that he does not want to go behind the gate. As soon as we enter the room behind the glass door, he turns around and looks back out the way we came. He turns his head to Mommy and with his tail wagging shoots her a look that says, "All right. I've had enough. I think it's time to go."

Though we are usually friendly and trusting dogs who will come when a human calls us, we stay put when the gate opens and the ladies call us to come through. We just stand there and look at them. It takes Mommy and two ladies to push and pull us through the gate. Duncan is just big and hard to maneuver while I place my forepaws out in front of me like I'm putting on a break. They finally get us through the gate. We watch with sad eyes as Mommy turns and abandons us in the black hole of Calcutta.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Visit to the Vet

Today I went to the vet. It was a typical veterinary visit for a regular and routine wellness procedure, so please, do not worry that I, Poppy, am ill.

It went something like this.

Mommy put Duncan in the mud room, but without me. I watched her closely to see what it all meant. When she had turned the key, and told Duncan that he was a good boy and we would see him in an hour, she looked at me and said, "Ready?"

"Ready" is the magic word. I perk up when I hear that word. I start to bark when I hear that word. It means that Mommy is going to put on my leash and that I am going to get to go for a ride in the car. Rides in the car are most important because I am With Mommy, which is the reason for my life's happiness. Second, they are important because they usually end some place that I like, like Grandma and Grandpa's house, or Petsmart. Today I was a good girl and sat so Mommy could put on my leash. Then I danced and jumped all the way out the door.

I am a good rider in the car. I am not allowed in the front seat, so I sit in the back, on my bed. Often, I fall asleep. Other times, I look out the window. I am highly offended whenever I see people or dogs walking along the sidewalk. How dare they walk along the street when it is within my view?

When the car slows down and starts and stops a lot, I like to stand with my forepaws on the center console and look out the front window. I like to know where I'm going to end up.

Today we ended up at the vet. I was very excited. The vet smells like dogs and cats and other various animals. I pulled on my leash all the way in.

I am happy in the lobby. There are people there who pet and coo at me. There are bags of food that smell particularly yummy. Mommy makes me sit on the thing called the "scale." I am too excited to stay still, so Mommy makes me go up there a second time. Mommy looks at the reading on the wall and grimaces. Today she grimaced again, and I jumped off and went searching for crumbs on the floor.

We went into the little room, and I was excited and happy until we got there and the door closed. Then a human lady came in and Mommy put me on the table. It is a high table, and I have jumped off of it before, and I tried to do it today, but Mommy held me there. It takes all of Mommy's strength to hold me down while the lady performs the procedure. I do not like procedures, and I get a very angry look on my face when they are performed on me. Today was no different.

But when the procedure is over, I try to fly off of the table, because when I get down on the floor and sit, I get a treat. Today, the lady was slow in getting me my treat, so I barked at her.

Monday, June 23, 2008

All Together

My mommy is home from far away. I follow her around all the time now. The pack is back together.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why I Reject the Creation of a PLO (Pug Liberation Organization)

My grandpa has heard my cries for more treats and has promised that he will help create a Pug Liberation Organization for me. However, I think that my grandpa, however sensitive he is toward the plights of the oppressed peoples of the world, does not understand the particular plight of the pug. I will endeavor to explain.

First, the pug understanding of liberty is in marked contrast to the human understanding of liberty. For humans, the state of nature is a state of war, in which to protect himself and his property, an individual must be constantly struggling against the incursions of other individuals, thus making human life in a state of nature, nasty, brutish, and short. However, pugs in a state of nature are part of a pack -- our nature is to be part of a group. Thus, pugs do not need social contracts that require us to give up some of our liberties in order to protect others. In fact, as creatures who do not see ourselves as individuals, but as members of a pack, we see liberty, security, and the pursuit of happiness as one entity.

For example, when I try to get out of the house -- what humans might call liberty -- I am not trying to run away, I am trying to do one of two things: go with the part of the pack that is leaving, or play a game with the pack, to bring us closer together. Based on these examples, pugs might define liberty as "that which gives a pug unlimited access to the pack." This is why Duncan and I get very excited when our leashes come out. (Duncan is not pug, but he is useful for this argument). We know that we are going to get to go along. That is why I scream with fear and fury when I get left in the car when the humans go into Safeway. I want to go to. That is why when a human would drop Shadow's -- may he rest in peace -- leash, he would simply sit down and wait, letting the human walk ahead and waiting for him or her to come back and get him. (Shadow was also not a pug, but his example still works in favor of my point).

If we ran away, who would feed us? Petsmart is a long way away, and the bags of food are high up on the shelf. Would we be expected to be the hunters? It has been widely noted by my pack members that I really don't pay attention to squirrels. The squirrels call to me, and then I look at them with an expression devoid of curiosity and continue to sniff around for crumbs on the floor. Sometimes I point, but usually it is at statues of large pug-like creatures (see my previous blog).

So you see, what we want (liberty) is to be with you. Being with you makes us feel secure and happy. You complete us.

Access to treats (the stated reason for the creation of a PLO) is perhaps the only bone of contention that I might have with the alpha male and female in my pack (Daddy and Mommy). I consider access to treats a natural right. However, because it is a natural right does not mean that I have to be given treats by the alphas in my pack, I just need to have access to them. I am only oppressed when there is no access. Often access is not a problem. To get a treat, all I usually have to do is go stand by the treat jar and bark. Then, when Mommy comes over I sit and look at her expectantly. It is not beneath my dignity to lick out Duncan's empty bowl, or to try to eat out of the takeout cartons left on the coffee table when no one is looking. This is what I call "access." As this all happens often enough around my house, I see no need for mutiny or revolt. Neither is my freedom of speech curtailed -- I exercise my right to complain when the alphas have failed me.

The Aesthetic of the Pug Form


This is a photograph of some statues at some hotel in Las Vegas. I don't like Las Vegas. My mommy is there now. She is away from me. Moreover, it seems that Las Vegas is an easy place for some one like me, who is small, to get stepped on.

Anyway, my fans with eyes for art will notice that these statues have a shape that is remarkably pug-like. Notice the prominent belly. Notice the flattened face resulting in the wide smile. I do. In fact, if I were there and not being stepped on, I would bark at these statues for their resemblance to pugs. I would bark at them after a prolonged, silent study of their features during which I would be perfectly still. I might refuse to walk past them, agreeing only to do so if the person holding my lead walked between me and these statues. For, I, Poppy, understand representation only up to a point. Might these huge, still, scary monsters in the shape of pugs pounce, just as we are least expecting them to?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Versailles

I, Poppy, have determined that being a dog is much like being at the court of Louis VI, or any of the Louis, really. Really, probably all courts everywhere.

Dogs have been described by sociologists as, ahem, "social parasites."* The definition of a -- and this is offensive, we're dealing with some very disturbing stuff here on Poppy's Blog today -- "social parasite" is something like this one from Wikipedia**: "a derogatory term denoting a member of society who is considered to be detrimental to others, by taking advantage of them in some way." These "scientists" have suggested that because dogs live with humans in their houses and eat their food and in return give only intangible and unmeasurable favors like love, companionship, loyalty, and protection, we take advantage of them in some way. How can I, Poppy, be accused of taking advantage of any one? Dogs are courtiers. It is our duty to "take advantage," otherwise, who else would give our masters and mistresses unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship? Their human friends? To that I ask you, how many friends have abandoned you? How many dogs have abandoned you?

We are like courtiers because every day we are teased, made fun of, eat off the floor, yet we never fail you. Our entire routines are based on those of our masters and mistresses. You are never our of our sight. We take the keenest interest in your every movement. And if we demand rights to the lever and the coucher of our masters and mistresses, how is this any different from Versailles?

The picture here is of the dog who played the much put upon Mops in Sophia Coppola's film, Marie Antoinette.*** As you will remember from history, Mops was most cruelly separated from his mistress, the young Dauphine of France when she crossed the border into France. You will also remember that Mops and his mistress remained loyal to one another through this alarming breakup of the pack. In fact, Mops managed to get returned to his mistress through the skillful use of international diplomacy.

*I, Poppy, have a bone or two to pick with sociologists. The science is so soft.
**I, Poppy, am all for the creation of reality. For examples of times when my sense of reality clashes with everybody else's, please refer to my blog archives.
***The film, Marie Antoinette, has won a Palm Dog award for its treatment of dogs as characters. When bestowing the award, the committee noted that the film shows dogs getting to eat cake. I petition my mistress daily for cake. She does not let me eat cake.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Daddy calls this my sky-diving pose.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Alergies

For the last few days, when I breathe, I have been sounding like a pig out searching for truffles.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Caught

It used to be that when my daddy would feed me, I could expect to get 3/4 of a cup of food for each meal. This amount was in contrast to the amount of food that my mommy was feeding me -- 1/2 cup of food for each meal. To clarify the discrepancy, there had been a miscommunication about my food -- Mommy was feeding me the right amount, while Daddy was giving me more. I didn't say a word.

A few days ago, my mommy noticed that I had grown some rolls of fat around my neck and that in general I had become more round. Such an observation is always bad for me. I have come to learn that changes in my diet are inevitable when Mommy finds that I am not en forme.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Activity Next Door




When there is something going on on the block, like city workers filling a pothole, or fixing the sprinkler heads in the schoolyard lawn, I like to add a running commentary on the action. I sit in the doorway or on the end table by the window,* and woof quietly but regularly as the workers go about their jobs. I have been doing this all day, as landscapers are working next door.

I, Poppy, am what trainers of human young call an "active reader." Though I am not actually reading (see my profile if you want to know how I feel about books), I am participating in the story unfolding before me. As the people outside go about their business, I am using in higher level thinking strategies to understand their actions, how they relate to each other, and what they have to do with me. At my mommy's school, such thought is labeled, respectively, literal, interpretive, and evaluative thinking. For example, on the literal level, I am thinking, "There are men working outside!" On an interpretive level, I am watching what the men are doing with each other -- how the text relates to itself. On an evaluative level, I am waiting for it to have something to do with me. Will the men come over and give me treats? Will they cross the property line and thus make me bark at them? Each little, gentle woof is an annotation in the margin.

*Mommy does not like this, but I am so engrossed in what I am doing that I don't pay attention to her, even when she comes and physically removes me.

Hot

It is hot. Heat is a problem for some one such as I. I, Poppy, am a round dog. I always wear a fur coat, and I have a short nose. I do not have an efficient cooling system. To keep warm, I lie on my side on the wood floor with my legs outstretched.

Hot weather does have its advantages. I pant a lot, which makes me look like I'm smiling. When I smile, I look especially pretty, as well as eager and accommodating. Such a smile can often convince my mommy to give me treats.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Frogs

I, Poppy, have been asked by one of my fans to comment on frogs and stories about frogs.

I have never seen a frog. However, I have been told that I look like a frog. I, Poppy, am not vain. I do not care what I look like. My mommy and my grandma try to dress me up in pretty collars with matching leashes, but I am not particular about what I wear.

I am also not particular about who I kiss. I might like to kiss a frog. But I am thinking that I would rather play with the frog than kiss the frog. A frog might be like a toy. It might smell particularly yummy from having been in the water for so long. I have been told that frogs hop. This might be fun to hunt. The frog would hop, and I might scootch after it. It might hop further, and then I would bark and do the play bow. Once I have caught the frog, I might have to clutch the frog between my teeth and shake it, like I do with my other toys. I might have to locate the squeaker and remove it. The frog might wind up in pieces with its stuffing removed, much like the toys Duncan and I got for Christmas.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Religion and Animals, My Response

I, Poppy, have never been observed praying and do not have a favorite hymn -- not even "All Things Bright and Beautiful." I am a "Saint Francis Day" Christian. I attend church for the blessing of the animals, and then I really don't enjoy being doused with holy water. It reminds me of getting a bath, an activity to which I am opposed. I have also enjoyed a sort of 21st century religious upbringing, the result of which is that I am multi-denominational, and perhaps multi-religious. I have been blessed in both the Lutheran and Episcopal churches. Recently, I have noticed that meditation cushions make a comfortable bed.

I do enjoy the social aspect of church even though there is no casserole in the fellowship hall after the blessing of the animals. There are always plenty of dogs there, barking. There is general consternation. Unfortunately, in a church we are restricted by human forms of worship. There are pews. There is an organ. There is a liturgy. There are no balls. The last time I was blessed, a bulldog was leading the recessional. I was sitting next to the aisle and I desperately wanted to say hello to the bulldog. So I jumped down from the pew and the bulldog and I introduced ourselves. Did we care that we stopped the entire choir from moving? Did we care that the organ was still playing and the congregation was still singing and that we were prohibiting the service from continuing as it was planned? No! There was a dog. He needed to be sniffed.

This idea of animals and religion has me puzzled, for I am God's least introspective creature, and the idea of any sort of spirituality seems to require introspection. Ear rubs, cuddling, Greenies, pleasures of all sorts -- these transport me.*

You humans say that we are all part of a fallen creation. To that, I say, snort. The fallen creation stuff is your baggage. For this, I posit Duncan, playing basketball this morning. The humans were all trying to make baskets. No one noticed Duncan watching. The humans were all trying to make a goal, but as soon as they tried, and the ball bounced off of the garage wall or the rim of the hoop, and Duncan was there to catch it. It bounced off the tip of his nose. It rolled into the rough. He pushed it through the rough and out onto the court. I brought it to a human. He sat. "Do it again," he said. Duncan the Rebounder. We all watched him with that ball. The ball would miss its original target, and he found the best joy in recovering it. He was single-minded. There was nothing in the world except that ball and ways that that ball could be kept in motion.

*If I may use an example from Shakespeare (I prefer not to use Shakespeare unless he really proves my point, for I have not forgiven him for the negative dog imagery in King Lear), I will refer you to Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream. I feel close to Bottom, his introspection is limited, as well. The closer Bottom gets to Titania, the queen of the fairies, the more he itches. In the middle of his epiphany, he is completely and totally aware of his body.

Religion and Animals

My Grandpa forwarded me the essay that appears below. I am intrigued, as when I read this article, my head cocked to the side.


Sightings 5/29/08

Religion and Other Animals

-- Paul Waldau

A March 2008 news item from the BBC, "'Praying' dog at Japanese temple," opened with the lines, "Attendance at a Buddhist temple in Japan has increased since the temple's pet, a two-year-old dog, has joined in the daily prayers. Conan, a Chihuahua, sits on his hind legs, raises his paws and puts them together at the tip of his nose." That the dog's actions might not have involved praying of the human kind, as it were, is signaled by the quotation marks around "praying," and by quotes from various people that suggest alternative explanations for the dog's behavior. Yet the story closed on a note that underscores humans' continuing deep fascination with the idea of animals as potentially religious: "Jigenin temple now gets 30 percent more visitors than it did before Conan joined in the prayers."

Especially interested in the events at Jigenin are scholars in the developing field of "religion and animals." This field is burgeoning today because it touches on many issues of relevance to our twenty-first-century lives, as religion continues to strongly influence how we regard the inevitable connection between our lives and the lives of those diverse beings we call animals. Values and views about animals that originated in religious traditions, often now enshrined in societies as cultural backdrop, continue to exert great influence on this fundamental intersection in our lives.

There are ancient precedents for the claim that nonhuman animals have a religious sensibility. Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) claimed that elephants, the animal "closest to man," not only recognized the language of their homeland, obeyed orders, and remembered what they learned, but also had been seen "worshipping the sun and stars, and purifying [themselves] at the new moon, bathing in the river, and invoking the heavens."

Today, scholars such as Harvard's Kimberley C. Patton provide theologically informed readings of many traditional claims about the religious awareness of other beings. Patton deals, for example, with "ways in which animals are believed to possess a unique awareness of holiness," noting that "in many religious worlds…mutual intelligibility obtains between God and animals that exists outside of human perceptual ranges." Assertions of a special relationship between animals and God are routinely dismissed in our human-centered world. But the increased attendance at Jigenen temple reflects that we are fascinated by our fellow creatures and the idea of their potential spirituality. In fact, "religion and animals" themes appear in a surprising number of places—one example is Peter Miller's article "Jane Goodall" in the December 1995 National Geographic, in which he discusses Goodall's belief that expressions of awe by chimpanzees at a waterfall site "may resemble the emotions that led early humans to religion."

The debate over whether or not our animal neighbors can be "religious" is but one issue in the growing field of religion and animals. In the last decade, the field has also illuminated the significant roles played by religious traditions in our learning about and treatment of other living beings. The contemporary relevance of these topics is reflected in the growth of the field—at the American Academy of Religion, a professional association of teachers and scholars of religion, the formal group known as the "Animals and Religion Consultation" has received growing attention, and publications dealing with religion and animals are increasing exponentially.

This scholarly work emerges into a context where humans' attitudes toward our cousin animals are more multifaceted than ever. At times, some humans seem driven by a refusal to inquire about the nonhuman lives within and near their communities. This refusal is evident in food practices, where many encounter animals most frequently. At the same time, more households in the United States today have companion animals than have children. Polls consistently indicate that an astonishing number of people—in some cases more than ninety-nine percent—hold their dog or cat to be a "family member."

Communities of faith are among the institutions that are most responsive to the complex connections between humans and other animals. One increasingly finds that contemporary religious communities have reinstituted the ancient practice known often as "blessing of the animals." Some communities of faith are quite creative in recognizing the pastoral value of concerns for their members' interactions with nonhumans—some offer worship services in which believers can bring their nonhuman companions, and others provide grief counseling when a nonhuman family member dies.

Theologian Thomas Berry suggests, "We cannot be truly ourselves in any adequate manner without all our companion beings throughout the earth. The larger community constitutes our greater self." Growing awareness of "religion and animals," both scholarly and practical, opens the door to a fundamental question faced by people of divergent faiths—who will humans acknowledge as constitutive of their greater selves?

Paul Waldau is the director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy and a professor in the Department of Environment and Population Health at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. With Kimberley Patton, he edited A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics (Columbia University Press, 2006).

References:

Peter Miller, "Jane Goodall." National Geographic 188, no. 6 (1995).

Kimberly Patton, "'He Who Sits in the Heavens Laughs': Recovering Animal Theology in the Abrahamic Traditions." The Harvard Theological Review 93, no.1 (2000): 401-34.

Sightings comes from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Opportunity

Last night, while we were eating, Duncan had a seizure. You, my fans, wonder why I, Poppy, would write about such an event. You wonder, "What does this matter to Poppy?"

Of course, I have really no sense about how serious certain physical ailments are. I am indifferent the need for veterinary care, even when I myself feel terrible. An ear infection is simply a time when I will squeak with fear and discomfort because I am being held down by my mommy and at least two vet techs while the doctor cleans out my ears. I do not see a correlation between such an unspeakable violation and my ears feeling better. (See previous posting on the presidential health care plans and their relation to treats). Seizures need to be paid attention to, but it is not for me, Poppy, to do that. That is why you have humans. Humans pay attention to such things, so that if you are a dog your day will be exactly like the one yesterday and the one the day before. In the case of Duncan and his episode, the humans made sure that Duncan was back with me in the mud room today.

However, when your companion has a seizure during dinner, he can't eat. Just as important, the humans are busy taking care of the afflicted to yell at you when you just, say, walk over to his bowl and eat up his whole meal. So, as Mommy soothed Duncan, I polished off two bowls of food -- mine and his. I am, after all, a Reformed Machiavellian. The ends justifies the means.

Now, you are thinking that I, Poppy am heard-hearted, simply because I practice self-interest. That is not true. Duncan is my brother and sometime pillow. Before I knew Duncan, when my mommy and I were single girls living single girl lives, I was very lonely. Now I have a companion. It is in my interest to have a companion, therefore, it is in my interest to have Duncan. It is not my fault if I am a dog and have a dog psychology. Everybody at my house is bigger than I, which means that I am the Omega dog* in our pack. As Omega dog I must seize opportunities as they present themselves.

*"Omega dog" should not be confused with "Omega Man," the Charlton Heston film about Zombies. I have never seen it. Mommy can't remember if there is a dog in it. I am not interested in movies without animals or that wonderful character, Gollum. But I digress. I have seen "I am Legend," and I barked very hard at the Zombie dogs in that movie. They went away. I am confident that if a Zombie horde attacks our house, I will be ready.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Birthday

A great big tail-wagging hello with desperate, "I want attention" squeaks to all my fans! Today, May 29, 2008, is my birthday! Yes! I, Poppy, am five years old today.

I plan to celebrate my birthday on my bed in the mudroom, followed by some sunning in the back yard. When my parents come home, I will lie on the floor by the door and watch the children play games in the school yard. Then I will move to the back of the big chair in the living room, or possibly, to some one's lap. At some point, some one will pet me. It will be a glorious day.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Back Yard Adventure

Our back yard is a place of adventure for me. Grandma and Grandpa have a back yard with an expanse of grass that is cool and luxurious to lie on in the summer. But our back yard has in the past resembled a jungle of sumac and tall grass. Last summer when I was in the yard it was like being a tiger, moving stealthily through the underbrush.

Daddy cut down most of the sumac last summer, but some grew back this spring and he had to cut it down again, so that he and Mommy could make the garden. The sumac grows fast, and has woody stems that, personally, I find delightful to chew on. Most of the sumac that grew back was along the side of the garage, where I used to like to explore. Now that space is empty, and there is now a pile of sumac trunks sitting in the back of the yard, awaiting that urban superhero, the Junkman, to come and haul it away. I like to explore under the trunks. Like the side of the garage, it is a place that Duncan cannot go, as he is big. But I am little, so I can squeeze through. It is fun.

Sometimes Daddy works in the garage. I like the garage, too, as it is dark and mysterious, and I have never really had an opportunity to be in there for long. Today I sneaked in there while no one was looking and I began to sniff around. Daddy did not see me, as I am little, which is to my advantage when I want to claim unfettered sniffing privileges. But then Daddy shut the door, and I was left there. How could he leave me? How could he not notice that I was there? I waited in the dark.

At some point some one noticed that I was missing from the house. Mommy and Daddy called for me in every room and in the back yard, but they didn't find me. I continued to wait. I was getting scared. I had been abandoned, it was dark, and they didn't even leave Duncan with me.

Daddy walked around the block. When he came back without me, Mommy got her keys out so she could go through the neighborhood and look for me. I have been known to sneak out the front door to be returned by neighbors, tucked under their arms, my pug legs sticking straight out like sticks and a sedate, "who me?" look on my face.

Before they left they decided to try the garage. Daddy opened the door and called to me. Oh! Happy day! I ran out. I was happy to see everybody and everybody was happy to see me! However, now that I look back it seems that Duncan did not seem at all concerned about my absence. When I found him, he was in the mud room, taking up all the room on our dog bed.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Health Care and Taxes -- Two Significant Problems

In my continuing search for a presidential candidate to endorse, I, Poppy, have noticed that none of the health care plans our candidates propose include health care for dogs or other pets, regardless of income. This revelation has been very distressing to me. What if I, Poppy, have a health care crisis? And who is going to pay for my heart worm prevention medication? Or the special stuff to clean out my ears? I, Poppy, will be the first to tell you that I only like to visit the vet for the waiting area. Once in the Little Room of Needles and Probes, I panic. So I need treats to be reminded that I am a good dog. And who is going to pay for all of those treats that I get when I am a good dog at the vet, the cost of which goes up year after year? Hmm? Tell me.

I have also noticed that none of the presidential platforms will allow human beings to take dogs or other pets as deductions on their annual income tax. This idea appalls me, Poppy, as dogs are the new kids. I, Poppy, had to have an admissions interview at my doggie day care before I started there, for goodness sakes! I mean, really. There needs to be some sort of earned income credit for dogs, or at least day care tuition tax amnesty.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A View to the World

Now that the weather's warm, the front door is open often. I like to lie on the floor in front of the security door, looking out at the world through the bars. My posture is such that I am on my tummy with my forelegs propping me up and my hind legs spread out behind me. Less than gracious people may call this posture unladylike, but I prefer to think of myself as mimicking a sphinx, if the sphinx has two, little, pork chop-shaped, back legs.

I lie looking at the world in front of me. The porch wall blocks my view on two sides and most of the third. In front of me I see the school playing field and the people and dogs that are on it. I have a feeling that they should not be there in my field of vision. I scold them for their impertinent being there.

Birds hop into my view. I watch bugs fly by. I am alert, watching. My ears are perky, and I respond loudly to some far away noise. I have better hearing than the humans. They need me to listen for them.

When the sun goes down and the visibility is low, I lie there and bark out into the night, softly and with no purpose at all other than to announce my presence to the darkness.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Dilemna for One as Self-Interested as I

I am deep in thought about whom I might endorse for president. I want all my fans to be informed about the issues. However, my grandma is a rabid Hillary supporter. My grandma makes me home made treats and gives me big huge bones and lets me sleep in the bed. I want to continue my influence over her. So, Endorsing Hillary = Treats.

My parents are Subaru-driving, wine-drinking, recycling, composting, KBCO-listening, two dog-owning, French food-eating, Neiman Marcus-shopping, Mac-interfacing yuppies. Obviously, they are for Obama. So, Endorsing Obama = A Roof Over My Head.

Joh McCain is a Republican, which means he is the representative of all of the self-interested in the country. Endorsing McCain = The Supreme Rule of the Self-Interested.

Hmmmm....

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Superdelegate

Many of my fans have asked me, Poppy, to endorse a candidate for president. They say, "Poppy, who do you want to lead the United States for the next four, maybe eight years?" Though I hate to disappoint my fans, I am at this point undecided. However, since you do want to know, "What would Poppy do?" I will be sure to devote space on this blog to the upcoming general election and to the rest of the Democratic race for a nominee.

As a prelude to the informed political commentary that I will provide here on Poppy's Blog, I will give you a basic summary of the dominate political theory to which I subscribe. I, Poppy, am a Reformed Machiavellian.

Those of us who are Reformed believe only in aggression as defense. Where we differ from Machiavelli's Prince is that, though we are territorial, we do not seek to expand our territory beyond that which we already have -- like the front and back yards and most of the house when the doors are not closed. And, generally, our defense is loud and manic barking rather than full scale war. Further, when we are called on to defend our territory beyond barking loudly and seemingly without purpose, we delegate that to the humans, who are bigger and rather expendable, since, as Machiavellians, anybody with treats will do as protectors. This, of course, is in sharp contrast to the Prince, who would be better off to not use mercenary armies to unite large swaths of territory, like the Italian Peninsula. However, the Prince was never called upon to defend the Homeland from such invaders as schoolchildren and postal workers. I'd like to see where deadly force would get him in those situations.

Where Reformed and Orthodox Machiavellians meet is in the principle of self-interest. Pugs are not beyond a little bit of trickery or manipulation to get what we want. Daddy fed us but Mommy doesn't know that? We look hungry. The dining chairs are pulled out and nobody's watching? It's just a quick two jumps and I'm on the table to see if some crumbs are still left. Somebody left the gate open? Well, there's some territory to explore -- a successful Prince spends his free time getting to know the terrain of his country.

It is my great ambition to be a very successful Princess. So, of course, the election of a new president is important to this endeavor, as if affects the price of treats, food, and Juicy Couture dog apparel. I will get back to you.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Shakedown

When Duncan has finished his chewie but I still have mine he likes to come over and stand extra close to me, exerting pressure. His eye is on the chewie, his tail wagging slowly. I have already crawled under a chair in the dining room in anticipation of the siege. Duncan has his nose near my face, waiting for an opportunity. I growl a growl that sounds like an electric toothbrush. I keep on chewing. "Give it to me, Little Dog," says Duncan. "When pigs fly," I tell him.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Molting

The trees may shed their leaves in the fall, but in the spring, it is my turn to shed my hair. As a pug, I, Poppy, spend a great deal of energy growing hair and then losing it. I am very good at this. In fact, you might say it is a forte of mine. Like any one who has a great skill, I practice year round, however, when the sun begins to come back, and Mommy and Daddy come home to feed me before it is dark, and the grass at Grandma and Grandpa's starts to green (I am a great fan of grass, but that is a subject for another post), I elevate my shedding to a work of art. Most of the time my hair simply accumulates on the carpet, or in the corners of the room, or sticks to the clothes of my human companions. In spring, my hair comes off in great clumps, which, if I were a middle-aged man, would be worrisome and cause me to think about buying a sports car. I am not, however, a middle-aged man. Instead, the hair flies from my body when I shake. It accumulates on my beds, it sticks to the hands of whomever is rubbing my ears or my tummy. I leave a trail of pug hair as I walk through the kitchen. Try as they might, the cleaners cannot get my hair off of the back seat of my mommy's car. I have even been known to shed on myself -- the fawn hair of my body being a marked contrast to the black of my face.

Like every great craftsperson (or dog), I make what I do look effortless. I fain the appearance of nonchalance as I create volumes of half-inch-long adhesive stickers. You might say I do it unconsciously.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Strollers

My mommy and grandma have talked about getting me a stroller so that we can all go shopping together. They have seen dogs in strollers at the mall, and there are many dog stroller products on the market.

My daddy has threatened to start his own blog, called "The Most Ridiculous Thing Ever," on which he would post pictures of me in a stroller, and invite men to share other ridiculous stories about their wives and girlfriends and shopping malls.

Monday, May 5, 2008

When Mommy Came Home From Petsmart

Today was a hot day. I spent it in the mud room, trying to keep cool. When I went outside, I saw Duncan jump over the little fence to get into the garden. I wanted to go, too, but I could only watch through the slats.

Later in the day Mommy came home with supplies from Petsmart. She brought a big bag of my food and lots of treats with her. Duncan and I watched while she emptied the treats into the treat jars. We sat very still and at attention, which is our command to Mommy to give us treats. There were Greenies and small chewies and big chewies. We got Greenies first. We took them far away into the dining room to eat them. Duncan finished his first and went back to tell Mommy he wanted more. I finished half of my Greenie and got thirsty, so I went for some water.

I walked over to see what Mommy and Duncan were doing. They were pouring the bag of food into the big bin where it is kept. Oh, the bin! How tantalizing! Each day we sit in the mud room, next to the bin, but cannot open it! If only we had thumbs! One time, when we first got the bins, the Ones With Thumbs left the top of one unlatched just a bit. When they abandoned us for the day, Duncan pushed over the bin and the food spilled out. My eyes got wide, and we set to eating the spilled food -- all of the little pieces of food that travelled to all of the corners of the room -- it kept us busy for hours!

Mommy told me to rescue my Greenie, as she said it would disappear if I did not eat it right away. I looked at her. I saw that there were chewies. I saw that she was feeling like she might obey me. I sat at attention. Good Mommy! She gave us chewies, and we ran off with them. My Greenie disappeared. Later, I went for more water and my chewie disappeared. I found it with Duncan. It was sitting a few inches away from him while he finished his own. Mean Duncan! I began to complain of his meanness. I scolded him for his meanness. I told him to give me back my chewie. He kept right on chewing.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Suspicious

What should I make of this? Today I was locked outside and Duncan was inside and he didn't say a word.

An Obstacle Preventing My Happiness: An Update on the Fence

We had the humans fooled, Duncan and I. The wind wouldn't blow down the barricade to the garden, Duncan would push it down so that he could have access. I would stand watching, my face crinkled and my eyes wide with amazement at what big dogs can do, as Duncan pushed over the old door with first his snout and then with his whole body. We would then have free reign of the place that Daddy had rototilled and Mommy had planted and watered.

But today Daddy blocked the way. He fixed the fence, and now I can't get in. When I first discovered that I had been exiled from the garden, I shot the humans a dirty look. I walked along the little fence and over to the big fence to see how I could get through. There is no way. Later, when Mommy was working in the garden, Duncan and I came over to see what she was doing. Duncan can see over the little fence, but I have to look between the slats. Again, I tried to find a way in, but to no avail. I tried my desperate look on Mommy, and threw in a little irritation to show her I was mad. All she did was speak to me sweetly and kept working in the garden, without me.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Noises

I am a noisy dog. When I sleep, I snore. When I run, I sound like an engine. When I am curious and sniffing around, I sound like a pig hunting for truffles. This evidence has led the humans to believe that pugs have no natural predators.

Friday, May 2, 2008

We have been fed. Duncan and I eat different foods becuase my parents think that I am a little chubby and need diet food. I don't understand chubby. I understand that I want Duncan's food. In fact, I feel strongly that there has been some inversion of what should be, which is why he is eating his own food. I ignore my food and bark at Duncan while he buries his face in the bowl. He continues eating, as if I am not there, as if he cannot hear me tolling the bell of injustice. My food sits in the other bowl. I continue to bark. Now I am standing directly behind Duncan, and since he is taller that I am I have a direct view of his food bowl between his legs. How can he stand there and eat his food when he knows that I want to eat his food? Eventually I acquiesce to the fact that even though Duncan has committed a great wrong, he has finished what was in the bowl. As he leaves the room he gives a glance toward my bowl. I scoot over there and finish what I've been given. When I'm through with my food, I go back to his bowl and lick it out.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cold Weather

I, Poppy, do not like to go out into cold weather. The humans open the door and I stand there, twenty feet away, and look at them like they're crazy. They call to me. They clap their hands. They enlist each other to help get me outside. I will not go. Sometimes I sit, and stare at them, my lips pursed in protest. Sometimes I run under the dining table, where it's hard to catch me. It is cold. Who wants to go out there?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tails

My tail is curly. It looks like a cinnamon bun when it is rolled up tight. It stays rolled up tight when I'm barking furiously at the neighbors who have the nerve to let me see them out the window. It stays rolled up tight when I'm eating my dinner, and when I am sitting at attention. When I want something from you and you are looking my way, I crinkle my forehead to look a little alarmed and a little worried then I twitch my tail, just barely, to indicate my intention. When I am lying down, and you walk toward me, I stay perfectly still while I look up at you with wide, liquid eyes and wag the cinnamon bun side to side in a slightly wider arc. In your peripheral vision my tail wagging looks like a butterfly.

I am only aware of my tail when you try to straighten it. Then I give you a dirty look.

Duncan has no tail awareness. He thumps it, rhythmically and with force, against walls and doors and cabinets. Lying down, he thumps it against the floor in the morning when our daddy asks him if he is hungry. Lying down, he thumps it against the floor when the Ones With the Thumbs talk about him, or say his name, or lean over to rub his tummy. They can pull his tail and he doesn't mind.

His tail is as long as me. When I stand behind him and he's excited, his tail thumps against my face.

Curiously, the Ones With the Thumbs have no tails. I wonder if these phenomena correlate. Does giving up a tail mean getting thumbs? Sort of like the Little Mermaid who got legs but lost her voice. But who wants thumbs when you can use your tail to coerce someone into getting your treat for you?

On Agitation and Alarm

The other day Duncan went outside and no one was there to let him back in. The Ones With the Thumbs were elsewhere in the house, not paying attention. Duncan, who is patient, waited for a long while at the door barked to get back in. Silly, silly Duncan. Doesn't he know that the way to get what you want is to agitate for it? I, Poppy, am often agitated -- many times for no apparent reason.

On this occasion, alarmed by Duncan's exile behind the big, oak door, I began to agitate for his reinstatement back into the house. I began to bark with conviction. "He's outside! He's outside! Someone curtail this disaster! He's outside!" Inspired by my cries for help, Duncan began to bark, too. My Mommy appeared. I looked at her with wide eyes, full of concern that we were inside and Duncan was Out There. I looked at the crack under the door, where I could see the shadow of Duncan's paws. I kept barking. "Look! Do you realize he's out there!"

Oh happy day! She let him in! As he came rushing through the door, I jumped up on him. Standing on my hind legs I put my forepaws up by his face and gave him a kiss. Sweet victory. If it hadn't been for me, I am sure Duncan would have been outside forever.