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Culture: Stories & Lit
Doctors Without Borders Volunteer Finds Comfort in an African Dog
Home is where the dog is … living and working in Africa
He greeted me at the gate. tall and muscular, a rich, deep, tan color with black ears and snout, he was gentle and curious, yet reserved — a stoic African giant. I wanted to become great friends and yet wanted to remain detached, to avoid the inevitable heartbreak when I left. I had arrived in Kampala, Uganda, a few days previous to begin my field assignment with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Dogs Bring Comfort in the Wake of the Virginia Tech Tragedy
Throwaway dogs provide comfort in frightening times
Mr. bones was only a few days old when someone left him and his littermates next to a dumpster behind a grocery store in Fairmont, W.Va. Fortunately, the squirming box of Beagle-mix pups was discovered before the trash was mechanically compacted and trucked to a landfill. We met the timid puppy a few weeks later; he cowered in the back of a stainless-steel kennel at the Marion County Humane...
Culture: Stories & Lit
How to Train a Goose Dog
The chaser in the rye
Dogs have always played an important role in my life. My earliest memory is of me astride our small German Shepherd/Husky mix, dog-back riding. No saddle horse was ever as well-trained as that dog. As I grew, dog riding became impossible, so I focused on more traditional canine pursuits: sit, heel, lie down, stay. Training our dogs became an obsession with me, and no methodology was too bizarre...
Culture: Stories & Lit
The Maven: A Poem by Edgar Allan Pug
Once upon a table shiny, while I trembled, meek and whiny, Under a dizzying dose of chloroform too pungent to ignore, While I slobbered, half-sedated, certain something grim awaited, Sure enough, the vet I hated paraded in and closed the door. “Booster shot,” I ruminated. “That is what this visit’s for. Just a shot, and nothing more.” While I let my thoughts thus wander, Doc examined me down...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Dogs and Wild Animals: What We Don't Know
Living on the east side of Milwaukee, a narrow strip of land between the green corridor of the Milwaukee River on the west and the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan on the east, I’d heard many stories of coyotes prowling the neighborhood. Two children reported seeing a “wolf” in the park; a Schnauzer, cornered in his own backyard, was rescued by his owner heroically banging on a pot. The only...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Parents: Talk to Me About My Dog
“How are the kids?” I always make a point of asking my friends. They appreciate it and talk about day camp, allergies, Saturday’s visit to the Bronx Zoo, who’s good at math and who was so funny at the pediatrician yesterday. My experience as an uncle seven times over has taught me how to talk to parents about their kids, yet I am surprised how poorly people engage my partner Bryan and me...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Kill Jerry: Vol. 2
I think I’m the only writer in Los Angeles without a script to show around at dinner parties and AA meetings. But success in “the industry” has finally come to me. After living here for over a decade, I finally made my way into Hollywood’s inner circle. All thanks to my Beagle, who was just killed.   After being discovered on the street and cast as a female dog named Ruthy, my dog Jerry...
Culture: Stories & Lit
An Open Letter To My Puppy
An apology for my dog-owning deficiencies
Alvy, I owe you an apology. I haven’t been the easiest person to live with over the past few months, and I want to tell you how much I appreciate your patience with me. I did so many dumb things when you first arrived, I don’t really know where to begin.    I’m sorry that I named you Alvy Singer, which I’ve been told is pretentious. In my defense, “Roman Polanski” seemed too political.   I’m...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Goofy as Hell
The other day my daughter confided that she and her friends had that day engaged in an argument, one that’s been raging, it seems, forever. They weren’t discussing the origins of war, or why evil exists, or whether God exists, but a question just as troubling— is Goofy a dog? My heart was warmed that these young people were confronting the same issues I’d confronted when I was their age. How...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Small Change
Size matters — or does it?
“I’ve always had big ones,” Marian said. “But that’s over.” The volunteer glanced up from her clipboard. “Why?” “Too old.” “You don’t seem —” Marian broke in. “Last one was a Rottweiler.” She clenched her teeth to head off tears. “He needed lifting, toward the end. You need to be strong for that. Young. By the time the new one needs that, I’ll be pushing 80.” The volunteer nodded. “And don’t...

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