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Things I Love About My Dog
A list in progress
She likes to use my ankle as a chin rest. She is fond of nectarines. She smiles. She really does. An empty yogurt container can entertain her for the better part of an afternoon. She has no problem with sleeping in. She responds to several nicknames including Carlie, Noodle, Noosie, Noo-del, Rosemarino, Carleen, Carlata, Shamu and, occasionally, Le Pamplemouse. Before I met...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Dognapper in the Desert
I didn’t go on a pilgrimage through the holy lands of Israel and Palestine expecting to return as an international dognapper. Yet in the desert east of Bethlehem, just outside of a fourth-century monastery, that’s exactly what I was about to become. I’d been watching the local boys for 15 minutes. There were three of them, about nine years old, give or take a year. Dressed in dirty jeans and...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Chloe Chronicles: What's in a Name?
When I adopted my dog Chloe sight unseen from a shelter in Michigan via Petfinder.com, she came with the name of Buffy. And she certainly looked like a Buffy in her profile photos—sweet and soft and eager to play. A dog who would buffer your emotions, and remind you to stay soft and gentle and happy yourself. But somehow I could not see myself—a then-edgy New Yorker—calling out the name “Buffy”...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Chloe Chronicles, Part II: New Dog Homecoming
By the time I adopted Chloe in 2004, she had already had at least five homes. Or so I’m told. (One can never be 100 percent sure of a shelter dog’s history.) By the time I adopted Chloe, I myself had had at least five homes, too. More like 50; I can’t say for sure because I honestly haven’t counted. For years, I’ve been telling myself that I’ll count all the places I’ve lived once I’m actually/...
Culture: Stories & Lit
My Dog Believes in God
There is a tippy little table in the living room that terrifies the dog. On occasions too numerous to count, this table has lurched at him. He gives it a wide berth and a sideways eye. And when it goes for him, he tucks his tail and scrabbles for cover under the dinner table. There is a malevolent lamp in the den. And a moment ago, there was a spoon on the edge of the counter that, at the...
Culture: Tributes
Lenny
1993-2011
We adopted Lenny from our city’s shelter, twelve years ago when he was seven years old, past the age when many consider a dog to be adoptable. It was serendipitous for both Lenny and myself that I was even at the shelter that day. We had two girl dogs (Callie and Nellie) so I wasn’t really looking for another dog. But I was concerned about a Pit pup, and went there to check on her. Luckily she...
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Dog Class
Teaching inmates the dog canon.
One long, unseasonably warm fall, I teach a class called “Man’s Best Friend” every af ternoon in the prison library. We read dog stories as a way to explore the relationship between humans and dogs; my hope is that it will help the inmates take the next step and think about how they connect with their own emotions. On sunny days, I open the small, barred window so we can smell the soft,...
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Rikki and Arnold
Therapy dog unlocks a door into a patient’s mind
Rikki is a female golden retriever rescued from the f loodwaters outside New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Together, she and I are one of the animal-therapy teams affiliated with Companions for Therapy, a Tallahassee, Fla.-based organization that provides animal- therapy services to retirement homes, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, hospice, child dependency and criminal...
Culture: Stories & Lit
When a Dog Adoption Doesn't Work Out
Sometimes, love isn’t enough
Paolo broke my heart. We parted at midday, on a bleak New York City sidewalk. Tall, dark and irresistibly handsome, Paolo never looked back. But this was no ordinary breakup. I am still married to my husband of more than 20 years, and far from a threat, Paolo had been embraced as a companion for us both. Instead, this five-year-old black Labrador Retriever became a vehicle of guilt and anguish...
Culture: Stories & Lit
How I Found My Dog: Tarnish
A dog adopts a family, receives her name and claims her chair
Tarnish entered my life in Eugene, Ore., in 1949. I was nine years old and my parents and I were living in an apartment complex on the outskirts of town. I played frequently in the surrounding fields and woods, and it was there that I was adopted by a bedraggled, homeless Golden Retriever. Initially, she would not let me touch her, but as the days passed and our bond grew, it became clear to me...

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