The Bark
Apr 26th 2010 - Smiling Dogs
Apr 19th 2010 - Smiling Dogs
Apr 12th 2010 - Smiling Dogs
Apr 5th 2010 - Smiling Dogs
Culture: Readers Write
Q & A with Bim Angst
Winner of The Bark’s 1st Annual Short Story/Fiction Contest

A brindle-furred Pit Bull is one point of a complex, mid-life love triangle in Bim Angst’s contest-winning story “Village Dogs” (The Bark, April/May 2010). In the piece, a man and a woman stutter-step toward one another, in large part, through their feelings about the dog. The result is an authentic and poignant look at how people—often aided by their canine co-pilots—come together. On the eve of her debut in The Bark, Angst, who lives in Saint Clair, Penn., and teaches at Penn State Schuykill, answered a few questions about writing, dogs and writing about dogs.

  TheBark.com: Where did “Village Dogs” begin—with the relationship or with the dog? Bim Angst: Actually it started with a place and a gesture—a walk along a river with my dog and a friend who pointed something out. An image stuck in my head and felt rich with possibilities. I tend to think visually first. Then I have to work and re-work words to match and then build on what I see in my head. There are many revisions until something feels right, but usually the initial image is clear and constant—as it was for “Village Dogs.”   It sounds like the character of Anya Graceen is based on your dog Graciella, has she shown up in other stories?What about your other dogs? Why write about dogs? Grahtzi is a particularly pleasant and expressive dog, and because she’s mostly Pit Bull and yet very sweet-tempered, she attracts attention. It helps that she’s pretty comical too. Grahtzi really does get “petting drunk” and falls over when her butt is scratched. Everybody smiles when she does that! How could I not use that?   My other dogs—the two yellow boys currently with me and beloved earlier dogs, too—show up often in my stories. I hope they become characters in their own right, but since most of my fiction is realistic, they remain, I hope, real dogs doing real dog things.   I write about dogs because they are so much with me. My senior boy, Beau, has quite literally spent more time with me than any other creature on earth—and that includes my children. The dogs are with me almost every moment I’m not out working or riding my bike. How could I not write about dogs? Dogs are naturally engaging, and they’re such lovely counterpoints to the weaknesses and foibles of human characters.   Do you have a favorite dog character in a novel, story, or movie? Rich Bass’ Colter springs to mind pretty quickly. And one of my easy pleasures is looking at the Smiling Dogs pages in The Bark.   Who is your favorite writer? My son, Charlie Manis, is the best writer I read frequently. I feel honored when he lets me read his work in progress. He’s a tremendously talented writer, very sensitive to language, gesture, context, nuance. He’s also the hardest working writer I’ve ever met. I’m working very hard in a friendly family competition to beat him to book publication!   Have you ever entered a fiction contest before? I’m 54 years old now and have been writing seriously since the age of 15, when I got my first job writing newspaper features (although I wrote radio ad copy before that). Yes, I’ve sent stories to many contests—and poems and essays. Rejection is part of writing; one can’t take it personally or let repeated rejection lead to despair. Send it out, forget it, and keep writing. It’s very rare in a writing career, in a writing life, to have a story as warmly received as “Village Dogs” has been at The Bark.


Mar 29th 2010 - Smiling Dogs
Web Exclusives: Apr/May 2010
Expand your horizons here

Welcome to our web exclusives. This is where you’ll find new and topical articles, instructions, links for taking action, multi-media bonuses and expanded versions of material in the print magazine. Enjoy!

  • Breed Rescue Our online reader supplied breed rescue list
  • Strategies for Dog Rescuers Finding a balance by Julia Kamysz Lane
  • A Teachable Moment Targeting: Go to Your Mat By Sandra Mannion
  • Juliette de Baïracli Levy’s Last Turkuman Hound Holistic pioneer had a passion for Turkuman Afghans By Eleanor K. Sommer
  • Q & A with Bim Angst Winner of The Bark's 1st Annual Short Story/Fiction Contest
  • From Hoofbeats, Heartbeats and Wings: Listen to "My Home" by Mary Ann Kennedy


Take the Quiz! Dog’s Superior Sense of Smell
Questions that test your dog sense.
Take this 6 question quiz and see the results at the end.


Question: As dogs get older, their senses, including sight, hearing and smelling, are diminished.
Answer: False. Only sight and hearing, the sense of smell normally stays with a dog for a lifetime.

  Question: A dog’s nose print is as individual as a human’s fingerprint. Answer: True. Noses have a pattern of ridges and dimples that, along with the outline of the nostril openings, make up a nose print believed to be as individual as a human’s fingerprint.   Question: A dog’s sense of smell has been tested at 1,000 times stronger than a human’s. Answer: False. A dog’s sense of smell has been tested at 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than a human’s, an order of magnitude equivalent to one second in 317 centuries. Or is the equivalent of smelling one bad apple in two billion barrels.   Question: Dogs react in different ways to different herbal smells. Answer: True. In tests, for example, it has been found that dogs relax when the aroma of lavender is fed into their environment. Chamomile also makes dogs calmer. Rosemary and peppermint, on the other hand, makes dogs more excited.   Question: Dogs can smell fear in humans. Answer: True. Fear does smell in humans, as well as in dogs and other animals. When alarmed or fearful our perspiration gives off odors, as well our pheromones and hormones—all easy for a dog to detect.   Question: There is a theory that says that Man lost his sense of smell because the dog as part of his tribe, did the smelling for him, hence the two species co-evolved. Answer: True. There is such a theory and it makes sense to us. But it hasn’t been proven yet, but because proto-dog have been around since at least 15,000 years ago, there could be validity to this co-evolution premise.    


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs on Grass
Dogs love grass—eating it, rolling on it, playing on it and, unfortunately, “fertilizing” it too

Dogs love grass—eating it, rolling on it, playing on it and, unfortunately, “fertilizing” it too. Urine can cause a nitrogen overload on most grasses, and females, because their squatting produces a steady, concentrated stream, are more likely to create the brown ring pattern on lawns, which some horticulturists call “female dog spot disease.”

So if you’re planting—or replanting—a lawn, chose your grass type with that in mind. Fescue and perennial ryegrass have been found to be the most urine tolerant, while bluegrass and bermudagrass seem to be the most sensitive.

There are also several species of taller grasses (used in meadow cultivation) which are salt tolerant and fairly urine resistant including Zoysia, Paspalum and Distichlis. A tall meadow is a natural alternative to a traditional lawn. But you could also consider another lawn substitute like white clover or O’Connor’s strawberry clover, both of which are easy to maintain. Another plus: they require less water and, being nitrogen-fixing themselves, require less (if any) fertilization.

Mar 15th 2010 - Smiling Dogs