It’s no secret that I am “a dog person.” Dogs have always been an integral part of my life since I trained my very first German Shepherd dog while still in my teens. I enjoyed every minute I spent at the local obedience club, with my dog Misty at my side.
Misty possessed a bit of a sweet tooth for human treats and would patiently wait for Grandma’s baking day at our house. Ever so quietly, she would sneak a cookie—always the one at the edge of the table that had cooled! Of course, the telltale mark the missing cookie left behind was a big giveaway!
Imagine my delight in seeing the title of the recent book, I Could Chew on This and Other Poems by Dogs by Francesco Mariuliano. The dog dialogue Marciuliano has created is truly uncanny — I can imagine some of my dogs thinking and doing the very same things that he mentions. What is my dog’s concept about time? Is he missing me? The poems titled “Time” and “I Lose My Mind When You Leave the House” seem to have the inside track on dogs’ feelings.
Just try out an excerpt of the poem “Going Somewhere?” by Marciuliano and see if it elicits any memories for you – one of my other canines, Holly, would steal clothes out of my son’s suitcase when he was home from college, so hopefully you will also get the message! “I know this routine / The gathered clothes / The miniature toiletries / The bag with the wheels, handle, and zipper / I know what happens next….”
And for all the cat owners out there who might be feeling a bit left out, you can enjoy I Could Pee On This and chuckle your way through the pages!
Weekends with Daisy, details what it means to have a puppy in your care for weekends only, with all the fun and responsibility for the little one.
Unknown to most people outside of the New England states, National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS) has a unique way to train service dogs for deaf and disabled Americans. On weekdays, puppies are trained in a prison by selected inmates, and spend all their time in this structured environment. It has been shown that the inmates provide consistent training at a high level. To assure that the dogs are further socialized to everyday life outside the barbed wire, they are placed with carefully screened “puppy homes” for weekend visits. Luttrell joined the ranks of the “weekend puppy raiser.”
I found Lutrell’s account of socializing this energetic bundle of fur endearing, as she patiently and consistently works with Daisy in basic obedience, and gradually introduces her to a daily routine, complete with sights and sounds the puppy would experience in a home. Another very important perspective in the story is Luttrell’s struggle to accept the reasons behind an inmate’s incarceration and his need to share the responsibility of Daisy’s puppy raising at the prison.
In Luttrell’s candid prose, she writes about her contact with Captain Nelson Lefbvre, the NEADS liason at the J.J. Moran medium security prison in Cranston, RI:
“Captain Lefbvre had once told me that the best trainers are those who consider their work a chance to redeem themselves, even if only for a tiny bit…They know that they can’t make up for the damage they did, the hurt they caused to their victims and their families, but they can chip away at it……The dogs allow them to salvage something good in themselves.” [154-5]
Even though the puppy sharing is only temporary, it has proven to be an integral step in training them for their future roles as canine assistance and hearing dogs. This first journey of the trainer and puppy is one that you should not miss. For further information on the Weekends with Daisy is currently in development with CBS films.
Now, where are the cookies I promised my dogs when I finished writing this??