Our Sweet and Crazy Coonhound ...

Our Sweet and Crazy Coonhound ...
Run Free: birthdate unknown - Oct. 17 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Water Hazard

The dog lake is closed at Snyder Park.

There is an unwelcome visitor, and everyone hopes that he is not staying.

In Florida, dog owners know that dogs should not be allowed to swim in water that may be home to alligators. This includes canals, rivers and retention ponds. Alligators have even been found in swimming pools and, last spring, in someone's kitchen. That 8-foot intruder made the evening news - it crawled in through the screen door. Read the story here!

Alligators migrate in search of new territory, and when they find a place they like, they are determined to stay.

Dogs are in more danger from alligators than humans, because the thrashing motion of a swimming dog closely resembles the reptiles' natural prey. A dog is no match for an alligator's expert predatory skills. There are often news stories of pets lost to a gator's jaws when walking too close to the edge of a canal or taking a swim in a marshy area.

Maybe our dog park authorities will call in Tom Hardwick, who is often featured on Animal Planet's "Miami Animal Police," snaring ornery gators and other troublesome creatures.

Until the alligator is removed, Booker will stay on dry land and concentrate on the raccoon invasion, real or imagined.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Portrait for the Estate

Painters have included dogs on their canvases for centuries. Last year's Best in Show: the Dog in Art from The Renaissance to Today at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston attempted to "explore the use of dog imagery to illustrate major cultural and social concerns in Western culture." [NOTE: click on VIEW THE SHOW, it is great fun!]

Animal portraiture was becoming increasingly popular by the beginning of the 18th Century. British animal portraiture reached great heights through the anatomically detailed works of George Stubbs, the naturalism of Thomas Grainsborough, and the romanticism of Sir Edwin Landseer. In the colonial United States, travelling portrait painters, like Amni Phillips, were paid by wealthy families to portray their dogs partaking in everyday life.

We photograph our dogs, collect breed-specific auto decals, mugs, afghans and more. We blog about our dogs. The ultimate expression of how much our dogs mean to us can be captured in custom portraiture, as it has been done for centuries. This lush portrait, RAINEY, is an incredible work of art created by Sherrie Rose (srosepaints@yahoo.com). She works from photographs and creates manor-worthy pieces in an old-world style. RAINEY is acrylic on canvas, 48" x 48" unframed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Morning History Lesson

Man-Dad is golfing this afternoon, so he took the car instead of his work truck. Man-Dad is a real golfer. He doesn't get in nearly enough golfing, and this afternoon is a work-golf-function, so that is a bonus! Doesn't Booker look sad sitting by the golf clubs? Clubs out mean that Man-Dad is leaving soon.

That left H-Mom without transportation to the dog park, so it was a "power walk" morning instead. It was dark when we left the condo before 7am, and we headed along the riverwalk on the south side of the New River. Up and across the Andrews Street drawbridge ... around to the riverwalk on the north side of the river, then west through the Riverfront, Old Fort Lauderdale, and the Symphony Center.

H-Mom decided to walk all the way to the end of the paved riverwalk path, which goes to Sailboat Bend and Cooley's Landing, the site of the Cooley Massacre. Sailboat Bend is a long stretch of slips and ramps that is full of sailboats. Lots of boaters live in or pass through Fort Lauderdale. With the Atlantic, the New River, and its series of canals, Fort Lauderdale is a boat-friendly destination. Booker and H-Mom walked along the dock planks all the way past the sailboats. It was both early and a workday, so the docks were very quiet.

At regular intervals along the docks are signs warning boaters to be aware of the New River's most quiet, gentle residents: manatees. They are very shy, and don't move quickly. They are constantly in danger of being injured by boat propellers, and there are cautions everywhere to help protect the manatees.

It is very rare to see them from the shore, but boaters often see them floating along in the New River. If we look out the window of the 19th floor elevator lobby down to the river, on very rare occasions we can spot the large grey silhouette of a manatee coming to the surface for air before disappearing casually back to the deeper water.

The very west end of the river walk is Cooley's Landing, where there is a historical marker for the Cooley Massacre. In 1836, William Cooley returned from a trading trip to find his wife, children and the children's tutor brutally murdered by Indians. Cooley was one of the original settlers of the area that is now Fort Lauderdale. He cultivated and milled arrowroot, and at first maintained a friendly relationship with the Seminoles. The conflict and attack on his family sent many white settlers running from the region. This was one of the precipitating events of the Second Seminole War, and the establishment of a military outpost that was named Fort Lauderdale.

White man's settlement of indigenous people's lands has contributed many tragic stories to our country's history. The Seminole Indians were eventually pushed deep into the inhospitable Everglades, where they adapted and tried to maintain their culture.

Today, the proud Seminoles are the only Indian Tribe in North America never to have signed a Peace Treaty with the U.S. government and one of a handful that was never conquered. The tribe operates out of headquarters in Hollywood, Florida; the Seminoles own more than 96,000 acres statewide, with much of its reservation land located deep in the Everglades on the Big Cypress reservation. (Remember Anna Nicole's death? It occurred under Seminole jurisdiction at the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood.)

In modern Fort Lauderdale, there are more curious potentially life-threatening hazards than Indians. One study suggests that more than 150 people worldwide are killed by falling coconuts - 15 times more than are killed by sharks. Although these figures may not be well-documented, it is suggested that pedestrians avoid walking under coconut-laden trees, and that you do not park your car under palms.

On the way home this morning, H-Mom and Booker passed city trucks doing their regular "coconut removal." We don't want tourists bonked on
the head! Booker is getting so accustomed to his "city life" that he doesn't bark at huge trucks, WTFs or other dogs out enjoying the morning very often any more. And he has absolutely no interest in coconuts, either.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

On the topic of ears

Our friend Barley blogged about his ears. Actually about how his H-Mom calls his ears "potato chip ears." That made us laugh. Sometimes Booker's ears look like potato chips, too.

They don't ever stand up -- he's got floppy hound ears -- but they twitch up and down and back and forth and they are remarkably
communicative. The wrinkles in his forehead and his soulful hound dog eyes help with Booker's tendency toward overemotional expressiveness.

But WAIT! Check out Copper's ears! If you are looking for a dog with absolutely remarkable ears, Copper is your guy! He is up for adoption through the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue. He is a liver Bloodhound. He rocks. He has some tracking experience, too. Those long ears help "sweep" scents up from the ground so that they go in his nose, where they are essential for doing things like tracking. Or "mantrailing." They are very useful
ears, if you are a Bloodhound.

H-Mom is in love with Copper. She can't stop looking at his ears.

Of course, Booker has great ears too. Booker's ears even turn inside-out and then go back to right-side-in all on their own. Not Bloodhound ears, but EXCELLENT ears, right?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Artful existence

Booker is spending some mornings at the gallery, from opening until about 1 or so. Today he has been here for more than six hours! He is doing great - that is a record!

It's very quiet on the street in the summer, as it is "off season," and few people come in. H-Mom thinks that gallery-time is good for socialization ... and that the handful of humans
who come in and out help Booker perfect some important things like not-rushing-the-door and not-trying-to-barge-out and staying-calm-somewhere-besides-home. These tasks are actually a lot of hard work. When Booker lays down-- IF Booker lays down -- it is only for a short respite from watching out the window.

And then something exciting happens.

These are some of the exciting things that occurred just this week:
  • Landscaping crew removed all the pavers in the median with sledgehammers. That made lots of noise.
  • Two giant chestnut horses with mounted police clomp-clomped slowly past on the street. These creatures were AMAZING and FRIGHTENING and STRANGER THAN FICTION ... much bigger than raccoon! It was very obvious that Booker has never seen a horse before.
  • Quite a few people opened the door just to say "HI" to the "DOG." That kind of annoys H-Mom because Booker gets all riled up and it's not even for a s-a-l-e. Sales are important to H-Mom and this is a slow month. That is good for Booker visiting the gallery, but it is not good for H-Mom's bank account.
  • The "DUCK" drove by. The "DUCK" is a huge amphibious vehicle that hauls tourists up and down the street. We think they go in the water somewhere too. It is very tacky. All the tourists shout "quack quack quack" on command, which is very silly, as they do not look anything like ducks.
  • Man-Dad stopped to say hello. He snuck in the backdoor and had Booker totally confused. What was Man-Dad doing HERE? That was fun and very exciting.
  • The mailman comes everyday and is becoming a f-r-i-e-n-d!
  • Booker got brave and decided that the leather chair is much, much more comfortable than the cement floor.
H-Mom has a little dish of snappy-snacks and Booker gets one whenever he gracefully manages the in-and-out of pedestrians. Now Booker comes over to the desk when he has been well-behaved to request his reward.

He still has to wear his citronella collar because sometimes he is a little "tightly wound," as H-Mom is starting to call it. She is sure that it is a Coonhound thing ... and she forgives him for it every single time. "Tightly wound" is kind of a creative personality trait, anyway, right?

Here, let Booker take you for a quick tour. He hasn't peed on a single thing. Booker has great respect for the arts:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

After the storm ...

At the gallery yesterday, when H-Mom opened the front door in the afternoon - she saw a hint of sunshine - she knew that Tropical Storm Fay had passed. It didn't matter what the Weather Channel was reporting: the parakeets had returned. They were fiesty, arguing and pushing each other from palm frond to frond. Settling back in after having been so unceremoniously dislodged by the evil weather. (Thank you, Google images ... H-Mom doesn't have a telephoto lens!)

Those of us who live and work in downtown Fort Lauderdale have become pretty oblivious to the troops of green monk parakeets that quarrel in the trees of the Las Olas median, or fly from wire to wire in the alleys.

The brightly colored and loud-voiced birds demand attention from out-of-town visitors. People often stop outside the gallery window, with their heads and cameras turned to the palm trees. The parakeets create quite a bit of excitement. Most Americans have seen parakeets only in pet stores, zoos or Caribbean-themed bars.

Immigrants, monk parakeets are native to South America. The Fort Lauderdale parakeets have descended from birds that were released by their Floridian owners on purpose or by accident. Urban legend contends that many were freed from Parrot Jungle by Hurricane Wilma. They have established stable, feral communities in Fort Lauderdale. The birds are self-sustained breeding colonies, established populations that have easily adapted to Florida’s climate and ecosystems. Birds that seem tame are most likely recently escaped or abandoned pets. Wild birds rarely tolerate people, and can be befriended only with dedicated attention.

Although not native to Florida, here the monk parakeets cause only minor ecological distress. The main problem the birds create is for local utility companies such as Florida Power & Light. They cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to electrical equipment because they often build their large, communal stick nests on electrical transformers. The bulky nests get wet during rainstorms and fall, causing short circuits to electrical transformer boxes.

In the late '60s and 70's, Florida Fish and Wildlife Service attempted to eradicate the wayward parakeets. The effort was abandoned because of the huge scale of the bird invasion. Now, there is a market for captured parakeet chicks. Trapping and selling monk parakeets is legal in Florida because it is a non-native species.

We don't encourage our visitors to climb after parakeet hatchlings, however. Every once in awhile, there is news item on an industrious parakeet hunter who got tangled -- and fried -- in high voltage wires.

Rain rain go away

H-Mom is a nut.

She put on the yellow slicker that Man-Dad bought her at the marine supply store. It is "foul weather gear" for boating types.

Then she snapped on Booker's collar. And off we went. Yes, to the dog park.

In the wake of Fay, which wasn't tragic, but which was windy and very very wet. And H-Mom said "COME ON, BOOKER, LET'S WALK!"

Like that was supposed to be exciting or something. Like that was a really great idea.

So walk we did, in the pouring rain. Are you surprised that there was no-dog and no-one else there? And rain was running off Booker's ear tips like little rivers, and streaming off the brim of H-Mom's slicker hood.

No-dog and no-one else ever showed up. H-Mom made Booker stick with it for about half an hour.

"Well," she said outloud to NO-ONE, "We don't have a yard, so this is necessary exercise."


It was so rainy, in the wake of tropical storm FAY, that H-Mom didn't even have the camera out. Now, don't you think that would TELL her something?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fay Closing In

H-Mom was smart and got to the dog park with Booker early this morning. We got in an hour walk, with Booker OCDing just a little over the potential of raccoons in the trees. H-Mom had to be vigilant and refocus his attention on the walk. He played with the usual set of dogs too.

Minutes after we got home, the sky opened up. Thunder, lightening and sheets of rain thick enough to obliterate the view out of our 19th floor windows. We are "hunkering down," as we should only get strong winds and lots of rain. Booker is "hunkering" in the bathroom. That seems to be the best place to take cover from thunder booming. For our coast, Fay will be closer to a tropical storm than a hurricane. We won't evacuate even if it gets bad. Our building is only three years old, with certified hurricane windows and a generator. It would be uncomfortable without air conditioning, but we would be safe.

David is a building inspector, and he feels safe here. He says, if a pickup truck comes hurtling through our window, 19 floors up, everyone in Florida has a lot more to worry about than some rain and wind. And, we would probably be in more danger on the road, trying to escape in a traffic jam of evacuees.

Walks will be a challenge if the weather really deteriorates. Booker isn't a "walking in the rain with the one I love," kind of dog.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Booker on the Arts

Booker is spending the morning at the gallery with H-Mom.

Booker is an art- and culture-friendly candidate. Posing at the gallery window is a great opportunity to take a stance in favour of local and state arts and humanities councils, and to advocate for support of the NEA. Booker is vehemently opposed to cuts in school art and music programs, believing that these are integral to the development of well-rounded, diverse, critical and creative thinkers.

Actually, Booker has a propensity to over-vocalize; H-Mom accessorized him with the citronella collar.

... no one appreciates a bombastic candidate.

The candidate's motorcade will be taking him back to the home office for some downtime around 1. A few hours is enough campaigning today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tennessee Lead

Very few people in South Florida recognize Booker's breed. We are a region densely populated by little condo-perfect dogs -- all fancy purebreds and designer crossbreeds -- with a few high visual-impact large dogs, like borzoi and afghans, thrown in.

"Wow, that's a beagle on steroids!"
"What kind of beagle-mix is that?"

We get those all the time.

Fort Lauderdale has a hefty share of the Domicile-Challenged (as our friend
Biggie Z refers to them ...) also known as WTFs for their frequent outbursts at innocent citizens and tourists.

Yesterday I was walking Booker along the river, where many of our local WTFs (another Biggie Z-ism) hang out. Actually at times, it looks like a WTF
convention around here.

Anyway, more than once, the older black men in the generally eclectic WTF population have addressed us, often loudly, and often with very southern accents.

"Hey, lady, my bossman had some of them coondogs."
"That's a Walker hound, isn't it ma'am."
"I used to keep them Walkerhounds for hunting, lady."

Yesterday, one of them looked at us and asked excitedly, "That's a Tennessee Walker, ain't it missus?"

His friend jumped up, annoyed. "No, that's a Treeing Walker," shouted his bench buddy.

George Washington Maupin (Left), Tennessee Lead and William J. Walker (Right) (courtesy Google images)

I smiled. "Actually, he's a Treeing Walker, and they were bred from a dog named Tennessee Lead originally."

"SEE," shouted the first one and he began whapping his buddy with a rolled up newspaper.

Booker and I beat a hasty retreat along our riverside path. David has suggested that I don't walk along the river any more. We are fairly water-bound. The options are not many. And as long as the WTFs appreciate a good coonhound, I guess we are okay.

Sign at the Tennessee-Kentucky stateline (click to enlarge) marking the trail of Tennesse Lead, a stolen hounddog. (courtesy Google images)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Art inspired walk

Much of South Florida sits on Coral Rock, which is as much as 4000 feet thick in some areas, covered with just a few inches of topsoil. Coral Rock quarries provided building material for homes and other construction in the early days of South Florida. Because Florida is perched on Coral Rock, when building here, construction crews must dig into the rock, which is at or below sea level. Keeping water at bay is a particularly Floridian effort. At job-sites, pumps run non-stop until foundations are excavated, set and waterproofed.

Coral Rock is beautiful, traversed by crystalline white patterns accented in grey and black. By our home, there is a public park with an installation of monolithic sculptures constructed of natural Coral Rock. It is titled Accordant Zones, designed by artists Neijna and Smyth. The installation explores the juxtaposition of sculptural elements and landscape, speaking to history, ecology and archeology.

Booker and H-Mom like
to walk along the low Coral Rock wall, all the way to the giant disc at the west end. It looks like it will roll away, perched on its side. Each piece of coral is textural and intriguing, laced with the imprint of creatures that long preceded us.

Which direction looks interesting today?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Job Description: Commander in Chief

Booker P. Washington.

A name synonymous with integrity and strength in defense.

An American original.

A working dog, strong of heart and tireless, with a record of proudly and bravely standing up for his country.

He has earned accolades (or at least attention) for vocally and persistently identifying border breaches.

He has proven his dedication to national security by tirelessly identifying enemy cells.

He has fearlessly entered hostile territory in pursuit of threats to his fellow citizen.

Booker P. Washington

A candidate strong on country.

Note: This may be a shamelessly biased candidate endorsement.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"needs" game on Google

Our friend Snuggle Puggle played the Google "needs" game. It sounded amusing, so we gave it a go ... just type your name and the word "needs" into google and list the first items that come up.

booker needs
good negotiating skills to secure artists

H-Mom thinks not. If Booker was in the gallery when artists came a-callin' they would immediately be won over, no negotiation needed. All he would need to do is give them that over-the-shoulder-don't-you-LOVE-me look that hound dogs specialize in, and it would be a done deal.

Booker needs to run for federal office

No! Booker P. Washington. Headed for the big White House. Lots of trees, lots of bushes and plenty of space that needs marking by a true-blue, American classic: Coonhound.

Booker needs extra pounds

H-Mom is still upset. One of the building maintenance guys said, "BOY he's getting fat." Now H-Mom is paranoid that they were actually referring to HER butt, not Booker's, but still. Booker does not need extra pounds. Booker is just fine. She asked EVERYONE at the dog park, "Do you think my dog is fat?"

That's like asking your husband about your derriere ...

Booker needs the help, trust me

We all need help. Trust me. Booker's help is on the way. It's in the plan. It's on the agenda.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thoughts on a Kong

Before H-Mom got this crazy idea that a COONHOUND would be the right breed for the family. And before she did all this research and saw how COONHOUNDS go all crazy in the woods, and how they often are kept only tied or chained or in wire pens, and how they are "THROWN AWAY" when they become an expense or slow down or don't hunt productively. Before she found out that they are difficult to rehome because they are often thought of as hunting dogs and not at all as PETS.

Before all that, I have heard that H-Mom and Man-Dad were looking for a Labrador. They even
did tons and tons of research. They registered with "South Florida Labrador Rescue," and had a home visit! They talked black, chocolate, yellow and even RED. They set out all the photos of the Labradors that Man-Dad used to have. He loved those Labradors. They put up alerts for adoptable Labradors.

They found a Labrador breeder in South Florida who had a 2-year old female needing a home. (She was not quite a Show star and was not going to be bred.) They even went to visit this Labrador.

They were serious. Serious about a Lab.

There is evidence:

They had even BOUGHT some toys, expecting a Labrador.

Note that THIS Kong is a "WATER" Kong. It is
made for throwing INTO the water so that a retriever-minded dog can leap into the water, swim, grab the floating Kong, and then return it to the pitcher. This Kong is specifically designed for a game of ... water fetch.

Then H-Mom and Man-Dad got a call from American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue. "Booker can come and live with you! We can ship him this weekend!" Actually, H-Mom and Man-Dad
got this phone call when they were on the highway, on their way home from visiting the beautiful, water-loving black Labradors at Surfside Labs. That's where they met the sweet 2-year female that they could have.

Now, look at this foot:

Here, Booker will hold it up for you. Look carefully:

There is no webbing on this foot. It is the tidy, cat-like paw of a Coonhound. It is large-padded, well-clawed, for giving traction when tracking, and for clawing up a tree after cornered raccoons, bears and mountain lions. This is not the foot of a water retriever. There are no webs. Nothing duck-like here.

The only interest that Booker has in water is cooling his paws if there is a puddle on a hot road or quickly powering through it if the scent he is on comes out the other side. There is no Coonhound "joy of water just for the sake of water."

So the only thing that a Coonhound could possibly do with a WATER KONG is make like it's a RACCOON and kill it. Shake it really hard and growl. Shake the living daylights out of it some more. And then suggest that a Coonhound can do that much, much better than any Labrador could ever do, looking up at H-Mom and Man-Dad with those big, always mournful-looking
Coonhound eyes.