How to Talk Sports with Dogs

7 10 2014

Men: Not all dogs share your passion for sports, in case you hadn’t noticed. The reason? Everything they do, they do for treats.

images

“Most Dogs don’t care about stats,” says A. Manischewitz, DVM, author of Football with Your Dog: Canine Fandom Around the World. So while you’re enthusing about Russell Wilson breaking the rushing record at a recent Monday Night Football game, your pooch would rather hear about how young Russ bakes every Sunday, producing a tantalizing array of magnificent tasty rewards for his beloved dog. Or how he drives ten miles out of his way just to hit the best slice of doggy water park this side of Figi—and even took two days off from his job the week before the Super Bowl to tend to Fido’s little “snip-snip” surgery (after taking said canine to the local bar for wings and beer before the event).

e561579a

Treat (pun-intended) your sports heroes as dog-owners and not just players on a field, and you’ll suck that four-legged friend into anything.

dogweirdcostume04

Just don’t expect him to wear the foam finger. After all, he has no opposable thumb….and he’d rather chew it up.

Some may call me misocynistic, but the label is miso-placed. I AM a dog.Shimoni 001

Chow.

***Shimoni lives in Rome with his family, and one cat (not family), and is an authority on the canine point of view. For more information refer to his autodogography, Jack of Hearts, written by his alter-ego, Robin F. Gainey. Available as a paperback, digitally, or in audiobook form.IMG_4780





By Any Other Name

26 06 2014

So, I hear that the Washington Redskins have been “urged” to change their name. Why are Native Americans the only offended group? And, if so, what about the Kansas City Chiefs? Or the Cleveland Browns? Anybody guess what that name is about? louis-joe-22And the Titans and the Giants (clearly a reference to the overweight), and the Buccaneers (slander toward those privateers who made ancient trade routes great). Is their no justice for those groups? Where are the relatives of Buffalo Bill? Do the Patriots represent those American Communists who may also enjoy football, or the Saints include their atheist fans? And, is there no justice for the animal world? Where does the SPCA stand on the Colts, the Eagles, or the Ravens?

common_raven_2

As a dog, I propose that football discard all tags and references and use the only sure-fire way to identify anything: the nose.

images

Once employed, there is no longer any doubt as to the nature of the beast sniffed. Not only the last bath can be detected, but the last meal, as well; the last hand to stoke a back, and virtually all previous encounters and wanderings. Want to name your team the Redskins without offending? Put together a group of Apaches. The Vikings? Real Norwegians wearing horned helmets. The Buccaneers? Eye patch and swords, of course.

You think Rome used to host the greatest animal games? Try watching a team of Bears, Panthers, or Jaguars claw it out on the field.cr2

This accomplished, the only judgements rendered will be nothing but the truth. Gone will be slanders and insults. “It is what it is” becomes the mantra, and the teams identified by scent.

The Washington Corruption. Now there’s a name we all might agree upon…corruption

Ciao.





Writing is Listening

25 04 2014

Writing. A cakewalk some might think. Sit down with a cup of warm milk and a box of chicken flavored dental treats and pound the keyboard. For one who has inflexible toes, and no opposable thumbs, it’s an impossible scenario. To the canine writer, the closest comparison might be the paraplegic. Let me tell you why: it’s all about listening.156059336-124599_238x238

I propose a different point of view (I’m a dog): Writing is not a cakewalk, it’s a “dogwalk.”

A dog pulls the master along, pausing here and there to sniff a clue––or drop one. And so the writer leads the reader, imagining clues to add along the way as a path is created, hoping the reader will recognize, however subconsciously, the ones they’ve deposited.

How?

The written word of the author, as recited in the mind of the reader.

Ruh. You don’t have to be a canine ophthalmologist to know this.

Within those neat little sentences fashioned on the page should be everything that must be known about the story at the precise time it needs be known. To garner the information, the reader must pay attention, and here the writer is the master to its slave. The whip is micro-tension, akin to scattering a handful of liver snacks on the floor, and setting a cat on one side and a dog on the other.

How does one see the other? Micro-tension provides this insight through showing the friction between the two. Even if they are friends, there is bound to be some conflict in the above example. Let me tell you, it usually starts with a growl on one side or the other–––even though, of course, I LOVE the cat.

The two characters are at odds, resisting, undermining, attacking, either directly or in the sub-text of the scene. In exposition, emotions are in conflict and ideas at odds. The reader seeks relief by turning the page. The authors greatest hope.

The reader hears the words in his mind. If the writer has done his job, the words trigger a thing called emotion: the literary Pavlovian response. imagesWith a little luck (and a lot of skill), the feeling isn’t resignation, leading the reader, shoulders slumped, to put the book down, and shuffle off to the library for something new.

I know the importance here. This is my struggle. I may be canine, willing to give my heart to most passersby, but words can stump when used to evoke emotion. All my life, a wag of the tail, or a bared tooth, has done the job. Words on a page, free from vocal intonation, are difficult for me. But I think I’m getting closer.

Example, from Clara’s 3rd person POV:

Max said, “I love you.” The glass of ice water rattled as he set it on the table. He looked out the window as though he’d said the words to himself. Released. Clara slipped on her coat, left her key on the table next to the frosty glass, and walked out the door leaving it open to the frigid Christmas air.

or

His words were like a warm bath. “I love you.” The glass of water Max held materialized on the table, his arms around Clara like magic. Max’s eyes in the mirror above the Christmas fire were golden in the light, but he had the look of a man being led to hang.

***

 

Okay. Not Hemingway. images

But do you know how Max feels about Clara in each of these sentences? Do you know how Clara feels? Do you care? do you want to know what the problem is between them? Do you wan to turn the page? Please tell me you do.

I’m working on another novel (5th draft geared to micro-tension. Next draft: emotion…without any wagging tails). I take notes (recorded digitally, of course), I fashion metaphorical sentences––so many that my dreams are all in 3rd person narrative, no longer images, but echoes. I awaken to fragments that make me feel something.

 

Because I listen––and pay attention to the way words make me feel.imagesChow.





A Brief Interview

30 01 2014

IMG_0278

An interview about the writing of my novel, JACK OF HEARTS: A fictionalized account of the mayhem that ensued after I discovered my master’s infidelity.

What are some of the challenges you encountered in writing JACK OF HEARTS?

It was really daunting to contemplate writing about infidelity. I found it to be a vast, complicated topic. I had to muster my courage, I think, to take that on. More than anything I wanted to render it in the right way, and explore it from the standpoint of a dog. I mean, loyalty is everything to the canine, no? That was the other big challenge: writing in the canine voice…inner voice actually. Initially, that was intimidating. I would go to bed at night and wake up worrying about it. What thesaurus translates the wag in its every definition, for instance? But in the end, I felt so compelled to do this. It’s a subject that affects every member of the family, right down to the lowly cat. I think you just have to listen to that place inside yourself as a canine writer. It’s just a creative knowing. Like knowing which piece of undergarment to shred, where to bury a bone, or what part of the garden to ruin. I just took a breath and decided to take it on, write in my imagined voice, and trust it to be authentic.

Where do you like to read?

I have several spots. When I’m in the country, I read usually in the afternoon, under the chestnut tree off the patio – a short reading time, usually poetry. Ogdan Nash, Carl Sandburg, and Robert William Service. I love Mary Oliver’s new book of poetry, DOG SONGS. Who wouldn’t? I read in bed every night. I usually get in bed pretty early with an iPad (with no opposable thumbs, it’s easier to swipe the pages), and I read until the management turns off the light. When in Rome, I sit in a lounge chair on my balcony overlooking the Piazza del Popolo. I love to be outside when the weather’s right. I can stay there pretty much all day––unless the squirrels demand attention.

What is your favorite word?

There are just so many beautiful words. Come, stay, car, park, rat, squirrel. Treat is probably my favorite. In Italian it’s regalo. A little more romantic, don’t you think? And covers so much more than simply the edible. Then there’s Bolognese, spaghetti, fromaggio. But I digress. It’s a shame the book couldn’t be written totally in Italian. Everything sounds better that way. Even veterinario. I think the word “chase” is beautiful, “inseguimento” in Italian. Not so much in its phonics, but just in the power of the word itself.

What is the first book you remember loving?

Go, Dog, Go. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it. I still have the first copy I read (although, somewhat tattered along the binding…). I remember reading it as a pup, outside, under the chestnut tree, just lying in the grass, one eye on a squirrel, the other on those glorious words in large type.

If you could recommend just one book, what would it be?

Travels with Charlie. Probably because I’d love to see America. The Incredible Journey was a great read, too, but a bit unbelievable. I mean, teaming with a cat?

The novel that probably had the most impact on me was, Lad, A Dog. Canine heroism is a huge motif in my  book. It goes back to the roots of what makes up a dog in mind and spirit, and the first sparks that ignited the path for dogs, from the Neanderthal campfire to the service dogs of today. The hero is an extraordinary collie named Lad, “a thoroughbred in spirit as well as in blood.” I like to think of myself in the same way…except the collie part. It’s a period piece, but charming in its language, even if it is written in English.

And I do prefer print books. Hard covers are better for sinking one’s teeth into. Alas, because of my handicap (no thumbs), I am confined to the electronic device. At the end of the day, I would prefer to hold something concrete between my teeth. There’s something about the weight, substance, and concreteness of the words. The taste of the binding, scent of the glue, texture of the paper.

There is an alchemy to books. I mean, how else might dog tell a story?

Chow.

(With apologies to Huffington Post and Sue Monk Kidd.)





Scent of a Man

6 12 2013

As a Dog, I am a good judge of man. No matter the look on his face, I can smell his heart.

I was never close enough to claim a whiff of Nelson Mandela, but his words are scented, and the odor is not unlike Dog’s. For as anyone knows, the core of Dog’s heart is love and wisdom. The core of Mandela’s heart shone in the same way. And will continue to shine on, his words a sweet scent on the eternal wind.

mandela-dog-224x300

“Where you stand depends on where you sit.” ― Nelson Mandela

(Dog knows his position in the family is defined by where he sleeps. Inside, outside, floor or bed?)

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” ― Nelson Mandela

(Same as above: inside, outside, floor, or bed.)

“Appearances matter — and remember to smile.” ― Nelson Mandela

(All dogs know the importance of perky ears and a good tail wag.)

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” ― Nelson Mandela

(Dog understands the drawback to thinking you can be king of the mountain.)

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ― Nelson Mandela

(Like chasing squirrels.)

“ As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” ― Nelson Mandela

(When Dog wags, man smiles at the world.)

“Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.” ― Nelson Mandela

(Why Dog sometimes hangs back on a wild boar hunt.)

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”
― Nelson Mandela

(The way of feral dogs.)

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

― Nelson Mandela

(Cats exist to make Dogs realize this.)

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
― Nelson MandelaLong Walk to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

      (Why Dog neither judges nor holds a grudge. Everyday is a new day for a Dog.)

Long may your scent last, Madiba.

south-africa-mandela





To Be or Not to Be: Doggish

1 11 2013

When it comes to philosophy, dogs have it boiled down to four points. Like Bernini’s Four Rivers fountain in Piazza Navona, this wisdom flows into every dog.

Man would do well to ride its waters, as well…Image

These few noble constants by which all dogs live are inborn. Every dog shares them, be they domesticated, feral, or ridiculous as I like to think of the curs on the Pincio.

First, dogs never let their past define them, and neither do they take life seriously. Every day is a new day for a dog; a new, exciting, anything-is-possible day. Any human can see that all dogs enjoy the charm of novelty.Image

Second, a dog’s heart is easily won and difficult to break. And though pride may be the downfall of many creatures, understanding their own fallibility makes dogs loyal to even the worst sort of human being. As a result dogs have learned that it is a far braver thing to stay in a disagreeable situation, helping dispel the misery of man, than to leave it. That is the charge of man’s companion. Dogs value bravery above all else; its degree, the measure of every dog. It is the noblest of canine virtues.homeless_sleeping_dog

Third, dogs are philanthropists. They never pass up an opportunity to give. A pact was made in the early days of their ancestors. Hunting expertise for a share of man’s kill. That reciprocity continues today, but now lies in the pleasure and benefits exchanged between human and dog. It’s innate. An affectionate thresh, an endearing lick, a fond sniff about the crotch: these are all traded for room and board. One gets what one gives.4d6b1c7d73228.hires_t540

Finally, dogs never pass up the opportunity to have fun. It is the very heart of every living spirit; the essence of every dog. It encourages strong bonds and deep affection. If there is no pleasure, there is no life. This is the simple and abiding truth of existence.

 It all comes down to looking at life with a kind eye, no?





Boat Dog

24 09 2013

IMG_2742

I have four paws. I like to keep them on an even keel, generally. So when The Management suggested I come along on the Annual Summer Boat Trip, I’ll admit I balked (not to be confused with barked, although there WAS some confusion).

You guessed it: doggie life-vest, four-footed booties, one canine swim-step later, I was cast adrift.

IMG_2770

IMG_2713IMG_2793Not bad actually. New territory to be conquered; IMG_2675interesting creatures, mostly edible;IMG_2684 IMG_2808a multitude of aromas the likes of which I had never smelled in the Tuscan hills; pleasant salt bathes to keep my pilose body up to par; IMG_2827and a number of napping options.

IMG_2702

IMG_2776IMG_2784IMG_2831

The caveat?

A small dog must take flight in order to reach those sacred waters. A trite but true fact: If God had intended the simple dog to fly he would have given it wings. Instead I received headgear obviously not designed in Italy.IMG_2845

Apparently nothing having to do with boat fashion for the water-bound dog ever crossed the mind of an Italian.

I see an opportunity here: “Il Cane Yachtwear–––NOT for the everyday dog.”

IMG_2812

 








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,379 other followers

%d bloggers like this: