Puppy love: one year later

So, here I find myself at the computer, searching for ‘dog waterproof jumpsuit’ on Google. Because whatever niche product you want to buy, the internet is bound to have it.

In all seriousness, winter is coming. And the beautiful spaniel puppy I brought home a year ago this month has grown into an equally beautiful but very long-haired adult dog.

Aimee walk (1) Continue reading

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A Dog – and Blog – Birthday

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Aimée is one today. The little three-month-old puppy we brought home in September has grown up into a beautiful, long-coated adult dog. Despite technically being out of puppyhood now, she isn’t trustworthy yet, as shown by her decision yesterday to take one of my best shoes off the shoe rack. Fortunately, I rescued it before she did any damage! Continue reading

Books I Read in May

May was a more varied literary month than April, with a couple of fiction books and one non-fiction title.

Bertie Guide to Life and MothersI started off the month’s reading with one of Alexander McCall Smith’s books, Bertie’s Guide to Life and Mothers. McCall Smith is an Edinburgh-based author who is a prolific fiction writer, well known for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series set in Botswana.

Bertie’s Guide to Life and Mothers is part of the 44 Scotland Street series, which follows various characters living and working in Edinburgh. At the heart of the series is Bertie, a young boy who is forced to cope with his pretentious mother’s overbearing approach to child rearing. Earlier in the series, she enrols him in a variety of classes, including yoga and Italian lessons, and sends him to psychotherapy.

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‘Happiness is a warm puppy’

Happiness is a warm puppy” — Charles M. Schulz

I know that some of my readers are eager for an update on Aimée, the blenheim Cavalier King Charles spaniel that I brought home at the beginning of September last year. She was three months old then; now she is nine months and growing into a beautiful dog.

Here’s how she looked then. She was so tiny that she was smaller than my cat!

puppy-1-7-september

puppy-3-7-september

And here she is now:

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A little bundle of puppy joy

puppy-1-7-september

How it Begins
 
A puppy is a puppy is a puppy.
He’s probably in a basket with a bunch
of other puppies.
Then he’s a little older and he’s nothing
but a bundle of longing.
He doesn’t even understand it.
Then someone picks him up and says,
“I want this one.”
~ Poem by Mary Oliver from her book Dog Songs (2013) ~

A week ago today, feeling a mix of nervous anticipation and excitement, I drove to collect the newest addition to the family. No, not a baby, but something I confess I find much cuter: a little bundle of puppy joy! Continue reading

Weekend link love

Here’s a selection of links to things I’ve read and watched during the past few days, in between my hectic study schedule. Winter break starts in a week; it’s the first Sunday of Advent today and December starts tomorrow….where has the year gone?! Although I will still be busy working on my sociolinguistic project that is due at the beginning of January, it will be great to have a break from driving to campus every day!

Homes of the River Gods: The History of American Mansions: a short piece from JSTOR Daily. As I have an interest in country homes, à la Jane Austen, I was intrigued to learn a little about the history of mansions in America. On a side note, I use JSTOR a lot for sourcing academic papers and the JSTOR Daily section is a pleasant place to browse during a study break, with lots of fascinating short articles!

Tenure, She Wrote: this post, The strange duality of being a pregnant professor, was featured on Freshly Pressed a couple of days ago. As I am an aspiring academic, I’m always interested to hear about women’s experiences in academia.

A Bad Lip Reading of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

This is very silly, but rather clever, and it made me giggle this weekend! Bad Lip Reading is a YouTube channel that produces spoof videos of popular movies and TV shows with dubbed speech that ‘matches’ the vocal movements of the actors; hence, a bad lip reading. The videos are addictive and entertaining! They just released the Catching Fire video and I hope they do a Mockingjay one soon.

NPR – How Dogs Understand What We Say: we already know that canines are incredibly intelligent and can do many amazing things, such as sniffing out drugs and explosives and assisting people who are hearing-impaired or disabled. But a new study suggests that dogs understand more of human language than we think. Research conducted at the University of Sussex shows that dogs process both meaning and emotion in human speech and that “dogs are able to differentiate between meaningful and meaningless sound sequences”. As a student linguist, this kind of study is fascinating, but I imagine there are many difficulties in designing experiments for canine subjects and probably as many complexities in interpreting the results.

Pretty Stella

Roasted Fennel & Butternut Squash Soup: this soup is so tasty and quick to make. I changed the recipe slightly (I used vegetable stock and omitted the half and half) and it is an excellent winter meal!

What have you been reading, watching and listening to on the internet this weekend? Share some link love in the comments!

A woman’s best friend….

I have a guest staying for the day. He is very agreeable and has perfect manners. 🙂

sherlock

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit
” (Pablo Neruda, translated from the Spanish below)

“Alegre, alegre, alegre
como los perros saben ser felices,
sin nada más,
con el absolutismo de la naturaleza descarada”

“The more I see of man, the more I like dogs”

Public domain image source: Unbearably Cute Puppy by Douglas Gray

“The more I see of man, the more I like dogs”, said Madame de Staël (1766 – 1817) and although she lived 200 years ago, I think most of us will still agree that man has a special relationship with the canine species. A dog is a (wo)man’s best friend.

This is reflected in popular culture; there are so many books about dogs out there. Marley and Me by John Grogan is one of the modern bestsellers but this trend extends back to the past, with John Steinbeck’s classic Travels with Charley and My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley.

Most of these books take a look at life as well as living with a four-legged creature: Steinbeck travels round the States with his dog and Grogan’s book charts his marriage, career and family life as well as providing an amusing picture of “the world’s worst dog”, to quote the book’s cover tagline. The “worst dog” in  question is a Labrador Retriever and judging by their position in the most popular dogs league table (http://www.dailypuppy.com/articles/top-10-most-popular-dog-breeds/253b2d86-c112-9854-d5b4-233120ca0ff9), they are our most-loved breed of dog.

I can see why. I grew up with Labradors and my current Lab is an adorable, amiable and abiding dog. I’m not the first to say that the enduring appeal of Labradors, and dogs in general, lies in their capacity for unconditional love. Dogs don’t care what you look like, whether you’re wearing makeup today, or whether you’ve brushed your teeth. They are not bothered by social etiquette and have no concept whatsoever of personal space: my dog still tries to sit on my lap and barges past me when it’s time for her dinner. She bears little resemblance to Marley, however. Her only flaw is her tendency to run away with anything she can find on the floor, usually shoes, and invite you to have a game of chase which will usually end in her outrunning you!

My yellow Labrador

I recently saw the movie adaptation of Marley and Me; it’s a three-star movie in my opinion because although all those shots of Marley playfully and cutely being “the world’s worst dog” are entertaining, the movie is slightly over-long. Also, I didn’t find the two lead actors (Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson) particularly engaging. But it is a great, entertaining Sunday afternoon type of movie and if you like Labs, it’s worth a watch sometime.

I can see why dogs have a prominent place in literature, stories and in many of our lives;   “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole” (Roger Caras)