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





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.)





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?





It Gives One Paws

6 02 2013

The moment you realize your dog eats better than you do.

The moment you realize that you have 987 photos on your phone and 985 of them are of your dog.

The moment you realize that you gave up your weekly manicures so you could afford to have your dog groomed once a month.

The moment you realize that the passenger seat of your car is covered with a plush lambskin pad and you are sitting on vinyl.

The moment you find yourself reaching for dog treats instead of chocolate at the checkout stand.

The moment you decide to go gray instead of giving up the expense of doggy daycare.

The moment you stop staying at ritzy hotels and start looking for pet friendly resorts.

The moment you cancel a dinner date because you’re sick and yet bundle up a fever for the dog park in a blizzard.

The moment you spend more money on a pet cemetery plot than you spent on cremating your mother.

The moment you realize your dog knows more about you than anyone else you know, and will never tell a soul.

The moment you realize your dog will never love you less for anything stupid you do, will wag in any weather, protect you from any foe, and look more deeply into your eyes than any lover, especially when looking at you for that last time.

It gives one paws…er, pause.

Chow.

 





I’ll Have What She’s Having

28 06 2012

Who hasn’t seen When Harry Met Sally? Even a small, Italian dog, who may have fallen asleep to a Lassie rerun and awakened to that 1990 Nora Ephron classic, knows how to fake an orgasm. Just ask our cat, Fraud.

I remember every worthwhile quotation of Ms. Ephron’s. That’s what a philosophical canine does: commit the philosphical to memory. You may think we merely lie dormant beneath the oak dreaming away the day, but we are contemplating far more than squirrels.

“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”  Could have easily been spoken by a newly adopted dog.

“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.” As a dog who frequents the Italian beaches, I can attest.

“Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.” As a dog living in a household of infidels, I can also attest to this.

“The amount of maintenance involving hair is genuinely overwhelming. Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair any more is the secret upside of death.” What dog doesn’t worry about this?

“You can never have too much butter – that is my belief. If I have a religion, that’s it.” Proof Nora was a dog in her last life and will be in her next.

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” I would say hero but then, I just published my autodogography.

If I wore a hat, it would be off to Nora this day. For now, the examination of life and its ironic insults to humanity and the man-woman condition must surely be passed to dog. We do, after all, see things from a different perspective (the grass), closer to the basics of life (garden vegetables, ground rodents and poo) and a simpler existence: We eat therefore we are.

I will do my best to see things with a the flair that says, “this dog is both humorous and wise.”

But there is one profundity espoused by Nora Ephron that I will never be able to top:

“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.”

Chow.





Writing With No Opposable Thumb

29 05 2012

The process gives new meaning to “hunt and peck”.

My nose is sore. The space between my ears (high cranial area known to contain the Great Knowledge of the Terrier) aches from the nose-tap concussion of putting words to paper each day. But I am finished with the feat.

I stretch out Under the Tuscan Sun (I am in author-mode, after all) and warm myself on summer’s fringe, thinking of the agent process. 

Query letters come to mind. Tag-lines run through my small but efficient canine brain: Mayhem ensues when the family dog discovers his master’s infidelity…or is it, his masters infidelity. Possessive AND plural. Oy.

Punctuation is not my strong suit, after all, dogs do not usually put words to paper…paper is saved for puppyhood deposits.

But it HAS been done: A Dog’s Life, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Timbuktu, Mr.Chartwell…all to some success.

Why not a real autodogography, by a real dog.

Great hook, no?


Nap-time is over. I trundle back to the chair, stacked with multiple pillows, and raise myself to the keyboard.

Dog seeking representation.

Chow.





Cloud Dog

18 05 2012

In between clouds, the spring sun shines warmly on the grass of the Pincio today.  Really Is GreenerI took a long walk, stopping to roll here and there, picking up the scent of recent dogs and the color of the grass.FEELING GOOD!!!Prima Roll

Once I paused to look up, legs in the air, snout pointed to the sky, and this is what I saw: a cloud like my dog! ハチ公A Cloud Dog.

If this were ancient Rome, Nero might have seen this and proclaimed either the Day of Dog and we would still be in power, or that every dog be eaten, depending on the clarity of his mind at the moment.  897 Nero Denarius with Reverse Military StandardsI am happy emperors no longer rule.  It is enough to suffer periodic edicts from the Management: “Don’t get on the furniture, get down from the bed, don’t lick the floor”, et cetera.

Though irritating, life must be simpler now, and more predictable.  Dinner usually comes on time, and mornings bring a walk on the Pincio…where I can roll, mindless, on the grass.Argyle enjoying a rollHappiness Is . . .dogs rolling in the grass

Chow.








%d bloggers like this: