Out of Paw

The world is slightly out of paw.

I should be more specific:

As these photographs attest, Biscuit, in particular, is growing out of paw.

He was under my tutelage for a very short time. He is only six months old and he is is going

for the heavyweight championships.

It’s hard to keep a good Beardie down. Since he is my nephew, I cannot denigrate him.

That would not be good breeding. If you forgot what denigrate means, please use a dictionary.

I cannot name all the many good things about Biscuit, but my favorite thing is that he lets me lick the

last morsel of puppy food from his bowl when he is all done. While I am licking his remains, he licks mine.

It’s a great deal for both of us. Dogteam work.

His voice changed the same day he tried to lift his leg by a tree. He kept his big deepening bark,

but he hasn’t lifted his leg ever since. Maybe he dribbled, I don’t really know.

I fully expect him to try it again soon. I demonstrate for him constantly, but he isn’t ready yet.

Certain things take time and practice.

Advice from Oliver: Sampling other dogs’ food is an expanding experience. Try it.


He tries to imitate me, but his voice is not as powerful as mine.

He hasn’t got the swagger down either. You know the one I mean, where I steal your favorite slipper

and look slyly over my shoulder, and take you on a merry chase around the house.

You don’t think it’s as funny as I do.

Biscuit is catching on. I also noticed he’s climbing stairs better now— 

one stair per paw rather than two front paws and then two rear paws.


…when I greet the UPS guy, taking the package in my caliper-like teeth and chasing to the kitchen for a treat

…when I snatch the newspaper at 6 am from the front porch…

…when I stand at attention from the window seat, surveying the landscape across the street…

…when I perch on top of your bed with Pig—in charge— for all practical purposes…

And Biscuit, well, he’s just a puppy.

I, as you can see in the photograph, am a big, hairy, beautiful beast. 

We play tug and he is strong.

We walk together in the morning before the sun is up.

We greet dogs that are all the way down the block.

He tries to assist me with my jobs.

You take him to Obedience and when he gets home

I demonstrate to him which rules to follow and

which ones to ignore.

He started Agility and the jury is out on that one.

I didn’t get very far in it myself.

All in all, Biscuit hasn’t fully found his voice

We have a special chorus to be used when there are

threatening circumstances passing by our house.

I bark. He yips. I bark, bark. He yip, yips.

I bark, bark, bark. He yip, yip, yips. 

Biscuit is coming along.

Biscuit is still in sotto voce, but he is working on

tutto volume.

I don’t think I ever told you I speak Italian.

Advice from Oliver: Learn Italian to spice up your speeches. A soft voice is not as strong

as a loud GROWF!

What’s Mine is Mine…

So you see, this is called encroachment. He’s getting a little too close for comfort, but I pretend I don’t see him. I mean Biscuit. All he has to do is lift up one hind leg and he’s there, mooching in on my space. So far, I have made it clear. My window. My bed. My day bed. His kennel. My dog dish. His dog dish. Our water.

He listens…to a point. When we chase around on Cranberry Lake, we see my girlfriends and I share them. I figure that’s the least I can do since I’m the older one and way more mature. They’ll always love me, so it’s okay. I introduced Biscuit to their dog, Marlowe. He has long, brown legs and curly hair.

Biscuit and our girlfriends

I am happy to share because, you know, Biscuit is pretty hard to resist, except… I have to keep him informed of his rightful place: Second in command. NOT FIRST. Nope. I have eight years on him. But, boy does he eat. I’ve also noticed he grows.

Mostly, I like having him around. When you take him to school to try to teach him obedience, I am very glad when he comes home. I am at the door with a tug in my teeth to remind him how much fun we have in case he forgets. He’s little so he needs to be reminded.

Advice from Oliver: Sharing is not easy, but who’s perfect?



He looks innocent and it’s true. He was. Once. But that was a brief and precious time. Biscuit has ingested a lot of things I would never taste. He licks up hair and fuzz from the carpets. He noses into the wastebasket and snatches whatever he wants before you can stop him. Yukkydoggy.

He fooled you, didn’t he? Now you have to keep him forever. He won you over but I was never fooled. Now that we all know what he has inside that sweet little fuzzy brain, I have been furtively instructing him how to get treats. Slippers, shoes, dishtowels, sweaters, just about anything loose…my specialty. We are both quick. You didn’t even notice this morning when we grabbed your good sweater and played tug with it in the living room.

Our friend Sylvia called it. She said Biscuit is my accomplice. I have taught him how to run away as soon as you call him. How not to sit when you say sit. I’ll explain: he was sitting so well and you kept loving him up. Well, he was outshining me and so I had to teach him not to sit. I sidled up and wagged my tail and now he doesn’t sit when you ask him to sit. What a fast learner.

It seems that our friend Lucy gave you a puzzle. You couldn’t wait to open it up. I put my paws up and had a look myself. It said New Yorker on top. I can read, of course. The puzzle box showed snow everywhere and people playing and shoveling and bringing Christmas trees on toboggans and in the back of trucks and beautiful green wreaths everywhere. There were no Menorahs, of course, because this puzzle was from 1984 when religious freedom was just a notion. Everyone c celebrated Christmas, and it seemed so simple. People trudged through the snow, their arms laden with gifts. Oh, so beautiful and happy. You tore open the puzzle wrapper and dug right in, playing “Silent Night” on the radio.

Biscuit lay at your feet. You thought he was keeping you company. I knew better. I’ve seen him eat gravel and acorns. He was sneaky. They must have been delicious. Look at the puzzle. Can you spot the pieces Biscuit chewed raw?

Advice from Oliver: Do not be fooled by sweet looks. Those loving eyes can be loaded with mischief.


My first horse, Cricket

Yesterday, I went to a farm belonging to a very nice person named Ellie. She let me go into her barn and meet Cricket, a good horse. At first I thought I was supposed to work there. Since I’m a sheepdog, I’m always ready to round up the herd. I wanted to herd her, but you explained she didn’t need to be herded, so we walked together peacefully all around the pastureland: Cricket, led by Lucy, her best friend, you and I. We were a beautiful foursome. Cricket is my first horse. I wasn’t sure about her at the beginning. I’ve never known a horse before, but now I like everything about her. I like the delicious way she smells. I like her beautiful eyes, outlined in white. I like her big feet. I like her red coat. I like her long swishy tail that has grass at the bottom. She is a glamorous Arabian. If I lived closer to her, she and I could talk dog/horse talk. That’s a language we would develop over time. I wonder if she could outrun me.

When we left the farm, there was a committee of four to say goodbye: two goats, a llama, and a mule. I had a great time. Biscuit was too little to come. He stayed home. Maybe next time. We’ll see.

Photographs courtesy of Cricket’s best friend, Lucy.

Advice from Oliver: It’s never too late to meet a horse. I’m eight years old and I have a very open mind.