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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Singing Around Our Dogs
How do they react?

You know how everybody says that they can’t sing and then you hear them and they’re really not that bad? Well, that’s not how it is with me. I’m truly dreadful, and when people hear me sing anything, even Happy Birthday, they probably think I’m kidding. Even dogs don’t enjoy my musical moments.

I was in the car last week with Marley, singing along to the radio, and he began to whimper. I was concerned that his harness was bothering him, so I pulled over to check the straps, and he seemed just fine. Then I kept driving (and singing) and he whimpered again. I checked on him again, and then all was well. Puzzled, but pleased that he seemed okay, I kept driving. Though I had stopped singing by that point, I didn’t make the connection between my silence and his silence until later.

I was at home, singing again, and my son said, “Mom, don’t sing! Look what you’re doing to Marley!” He had his ears back, his brow was furrowed so that he looked worried, his whole body was tense, and he was looking away. You could practically see the cartoon bubble over his head with the words, “Help! How can I make it stop?” In this picture with me singing, you can see that he looks less than thrilled.

Many dogs join in with a howl when people are singing. Others ignore it or walk away or whine. Still others pay extra attention, perhaps either enjoying it or trying to figure out if any relevant information is in the vocalization. How does your dog react when you sing?

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John Andross and Pup
Family Dog
Family Dog

The year 1930 was brutally tough for everyone, especially farmers. You’d never know it, though, by this picture of John Andross, his wife Abbie and their dog Pup, taken at a family reunion. John, who was born blind, played a mean fiddle and piano, and worked his southern Minnesota farm assisted by Pup, who helped him navigate. The photo comes from John and Abbie’s grandson, 86-year-old Kermit Andross Allen, now of Coralville, Iowa, who has many fond memories of his grandparents, and was sent in by Karla S. Miller, Allen’s stepdaughter.

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Family Dog: Biscardi

It’s not surprising that, since they’re such integral parts of our lives, dogs are also part of our individual family histories, and the stories that come from them. When families get together for birthdays, holidays or just for fun, these stories tend to be trotted out and enjoyed once again by everyone. Here’s one we found enchanting, and we’re pleased to share it. Send us your family-dog photos and stories: familydog@thebark.com.

Poochie gets up close and personal with his boy, Jeff Biscardi. This photo of Chris Biscardi’s father was taken one warm day in the 1940s as the two friends sat on the steps of the family home on Granite Street in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Family Dog: Freckles
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It’s not surprising that, since they’re such integral parts of our lives, dogs are also part of our individual family histories, and the stories that come from them. When families get together for birthdays, holidays or just for fun, these stories tend to be trotted out and enjoyed once again by everyone. Here’s one we found enchanting, and we’re pleased to share it. Send us your family-dog photos and stories: familydog@thebark.com.
 

At Ray Quesada’s childhood home, there was always room for one more dog. As his daughter, Chrissy Quesada Valentine, tells us, most of the family photos of her father and his sisters include a pooch, usually one they’d found or who had followed them home. Here’s Ray with Freckles in about 1934 on the front porch of the family home in Wilmington, Calif.

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Family Dog: Derby

Bruce Gordon with Derby, circa 1950, in front of the family home in Boston. Heather Gordon Huntington, who sent us this photo and the story behind it, says that she’d heard stories about Derby all her life—the Boxer had almost mythical status in her family.He followed her father to school, then broke into the cloakroom and ate everyone’s lunches before escaping; he was the happy recipient of her grandmother’s unpalatable cooking, which was discreetly slipped to him under the table by her father and aunt; he jumped out of a moving car (and survived). This photo surfaced a couple of years ago, offering Heather and other family members a chance to see the famous Derby in the flesh.

Culture: Readers Write
How I Found My Dog: Roadside Assistance

I certainly wasn’t looking for a puppy when Jefferson Beagle came along. I already had four older rescued dogs, two rescued horses, and a revolving door of foster dogs and cats from our local humane society. But on one particular drive down the four-lane interstate between Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, I found myself praying for my own rescue from my passengers. God answered in dog.

My passengers, my aunt and stepfather, were discussing death. “Well,” said Leon, “I was watching a program on the History Channel about a guy who was on the frontlines of battle for four years during World War II and survived it all and then came home and was hit by a bus.” There followed a running commentary from both on the many ways one might die, from being hit by lightning, to electrocution in the bathtub, to heart attacks.  And we were only 15 minutes into a one-hour drive. I am not overly religious, but I prayed, “Dear God, this is nuts. I’ll kill them both myself if I have to listen to this the whole way to Louisville.” 

At that instant, I spotted a small brown dog by the side of the interstate, sniffing a possum carcass. As we flew by at 75-miles-per-hour, I said, “There’s a dog.” Genius insight, I know, but my thoughts started racing. Pull over now? Go to the next exit? Where were we, anyway? My comment stopped the death discussion, as if in immediate answer to my plea, and although no one else saw a dog, I knew I wasn’t hallucinating. 

I took the next exit and retraced our route. At that point, the highway literally cuts through the miles of rock going down to and up from the bridge over the Kentucky River. There was no way to tell exactly where I had seen him, but this time we had six eyes looking. 

On the shoulder, between the high stone walls and speeding cars, and still working at the possum carcass, was the little brown dog. I pulled onto the opposite shoulder, grabbed the strap from my yoga mat, and carefully crossed the highway. My stepdad and I approached what looked like a young Beagle-mix, about 20 pounds. The dog gave me a wary look and ducked under the guardrail toward the cliffs. Confused by the traffic and the rocks and the people, he turned in tight circles. We cut off his escape routes, and edged closer. When he tried to climb into an indentation in the rock wall, I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, flipped him to his back, rubbed his belly, and told him what a good boy he was. Within a few minutes, I was able to pick him up and held him close as we returned to the car. Although both our hearts continued to race, the puppy seemed relieved and went limp in my arms.  
 
The puppy rode in the back of my station wagon, perfectly still, only glancing at us out of the corners of his eyes. My aunt suggested the name Jefferson, our destination county and where we would likely leave him at a humane shelter. The name stuck, but the plan did not, although we did take him to a vet for a quick check-up that day. Jefferson had no microchip and wore no collar. So Jefferson went home with me. 

Raging infections caused black drainage from his ears, which crusted on his neck fur, and he was completely deaf. It took several months for the infections to clear up, and now his deafness is only selective, and his huge, soft ears are his cutest feature. Months later, an x-ray showed a .22 bullet lodged in his neck, also from sometime before I found him. But despite whatever hell Jefferson experienced previously, he is now the happiest guy around.  My vet says, “There’s no such thing as a bad day for Jeffy.”

Jefferson Beagle loves other dogs, cats, children and grown-ups. He tells stories in his beagle howl, wagging his tail and pushing forward to be petted. He literally bounces around the yard, on and off the porch, and on to any available lap. He runs in huge circles, zipping past the other dogs with a quick “woof” over his shoulder. If he finds an idle hand, he taps it with a paw until he gets patted. He still signals any indecisiveness by spinning around in circles. He snores like a freight train. I only half-heartedly tried to find him a home. With three black Lab mixes and a Jack Russell, ages 8 to 11, our house was already full, but the addition of a five-month-old Beagle-mix puppy named Jefferson brought it to life. 

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Family Dog
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It’s not surprising that, since they’re such integral parts of our lives, dogs are also part of our individual family histories, and the stories that come from them. When families get together for birthdays, holidays or just for fun, these stories tend to be trotted out and enjoyed once again by everyone. Here’s one we found enchanting, and we’re pleased to share it. Send us your family-dog photos and stories: familydog@thebark.com.
 

"My mother was born 1916 to immigrant parents; her mother was from Hungary and her father was German. She grew up in New Brunswick, N.J. Fido—who was, I think, a Border Collie mix—was their pet, but he was also a working dog, and he took his job quite seriously. My German grandfather was a butcher, and in those days (the 1920s), worked right next to the stockyard... " Click here to read the full story, "Put Fido on the Phone," by Toni Sebor Felt.

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