International Mountain Day

December 11. Today is International Mountain Day – according to the Crazy Holiday calendar.    A day to celebrate mountains…

There is one mountain that my human would love to visit some day.  Dog Mountain.  In Vermont.  Dog Mountain is a very special place… In 1995, a man by the name of Stephen Huneck and his wife Gwen, bought 150 acres on a private mountain top in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.  Stephen was an artist.  An artist who loved dogs.  On Dog Mountain he built a studio where he painted dogs and carved dogs.  But probably one of his most impressive works was a chapel that he built to memorialize dogs who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge.  People who visit the chapel leave notes on the walls about their dogs…it is a very special place.

But despite the fact that Stephen created this amazing place, he sadly faced some internal demons that even we dogs could not erase.  He sadly took his own life and three years later, his wife who never got over the loss of her soul-mate, decided to join him. 

Phew.  So that’s the sad part of the story…But the happy part is that people have come together to see that Dog Mountain will continue to exist. They recognize the incredible work of this artist and the unbreakable bond of humans and dogs.  So they are working together to see that Dog Mountain will continue to exist for others to enjoy for many years to come. 

So that’s MY mountain story for today.  Oh – and of course I CAN’T forget to mention that I LIVE with a MOUNTAIN dog.  Paxton seems to think that because it is International Mountain Day, that he should get extra treats.  Well, we Lowland dogs want to know when the International Valley Day is.  Really.  It seems only fair.  OK.  OK.  He CAN have an extra treat today.  But JUST one…all right – two.  And yes.  I am trying to get on Santa’s NICE list for a change…Yodel-ay-hee-hoo!

©  Linda Wozniak

Nobel Prize day


My mad scientist look

December 10.  It’s Nobel Prize Day.  So far, no dogs have won a Nobel Prize.  Something wrong there – as we are CLEARLY more intelligent than humans. 

A guy named Pavlov won a Nobel Prize.  He actually won it for research he did about the digestive system – and not for his work on conditioning – which most people seem to think about when they hear his name.  You must know his research – Pavlov’s dogs associated a buzzer sound with food – so whenever a buzzer would sound, whether there was food or not – the dogs would salivate.  His work emphasized the role of conditioned reflexes in behavior and learning. 

We DEFINITELY show examples of conditioned reflexes in our house.  Just the sounds of the treat jar opening causes us to race to the kitchen.  And of course, Paxton, the drool machine produces a puddle on the floor.

Pavlov’s ideas about classical conditioning can actually be applied to dog

clicker training.  Dogs hear the clicker and they know a reward will be coming.  Apparently you can even clicker train a chicken.  Click a chick.  But PLEASE understand – I am NOT comparing canine intelligence to chicken intelligence. 

We don’t use a clicker for training in our house.  My human is not coordinated enough to click and treat.   So she just says “yes” when we do something brilliant.  Like when I was playing the Casino game again the other night.  Admittedly when she first took it out I WAS a bit “over the top” trying to rip open every drawer to get the treats.  Good thing that board game is sturdy!  But I DID calm down after a few minutes.  Then she tried it with Frodo – his first time with the game.  He actually figured it out QUITE quickly.  But if my human plays for too long – he just walks away barking.  He’s not a board game kind of dog.  And Paxton, he just gets to play find the bunny.  That’s his speed.

In terms of other Nobel Prize winners– most of the dogs involved in other  awards were basically the subjects of medical experiments.  And I’m not about to go down THAT road.

So dogs HAVE been involved in Nobel Prize winning work in the past.  But I still think it’s time one of us canines actually GOT the prize.  Now what category should I try for…medicine, physics, literature, chemistry, economics….  I think Peace would be my choice.  Because really – if you have that – and people work TOGETHER– isn’t it easier to obtain the others?   Just a thought.  From a dog.

 ©  Linda Wozniak

Christmas Card Day

December 9.  According to the Crazy Holiday calendar, today is Christmas Card Day.   The idea of Christmas cards dates back to the mid 1800’s and they reportedly were started in England.   Cards grew in popularity over the years including the era of  postcards – when many colorful images were produced – including some pretty scary looking Santas!  In 1913, the Hallmark company was started,  and their production of cards continues to this day.  However, with the advent of the Internet and email – I’m not sure that as many people today are still sending cards.  The increasing cost of postage doesn’t help things either!  But that’s kind of sad…

We canines are often included in holiday greetings.  One survey said that 64% of pet owners include news about their pets in a holiday card and 36% of people include our photos.  We would be included in both those stats.  Our human writes the boring holiday newsletter that she inserts in every card – outlining our less-than-exciting lives over the last year.  Does anybody even READ those things?  But it’s this feeling that people MIGHT want to know what you have been doing since LAST Christmas.  So for every card sent, the newsletter includes SOMETHING about us dogs.  And really – why wouldn’t it?  We ARE the center of our human’s universe so it’s ONLY appropriate that she write about how adorable we are, how many awards we won, or how many times we pooped in the last year.  OK.  She doesn’t REALLY include the poop part.  But you get the idea – and of COURSE she adds one of those wonderful antler photos as well.

I found a link to a guy who took some amazing photos of his dog for his Christmas cards every year.  And I thought WE had it bad.   Check out THIS site.   My fear is that this site will give my human even more ideas….

We received OUR first Christmas card the other day.  Last year, the first one came from the Vet. This year, the paper delivery person beat out the Vet.  Interesting to see who my human has for friends…

Anyway, I must go and put my pawtograph on those riveting Christmas newletters.  Have a great day. 

©  Linda Wozniak

Dear Santa. I need bail money…

Well.  Is it appropriate to ask Santa for bail money?  I need to know…

I just found out that our Municipality has made some changes to our Animal Control By-Law.  There are a number of changes – including more fines for barking dogs.  Hint hint Frodo….

But one of the other changes is that leashes can now be no longer than 3 meters.  Which, in other terms – is just under 10 feet.  Well guess what?  Our flexi-leashes are longer than 3 meters.  By several feet…. (Note:  my human lives in the Canadian world of meters and centrigrade – but she grew up amongst feet and fahrenheit – so it’s a hard habit to break).  
Now I KNOW some people don’t like flexi-leashes because it IS harder to control dogs with longer length leads.  And some people do NOT know how to use them.  My human would never walk us using one on a city street – we don’t need 3 meters of leash length on a sidewalk!  HOWEVER- living here in the boonies, we DO use flexi-leashes when we walk on the trail.  Or if we walk on the golf course.  And my human can reel one of us in faster than you can say “Viktor – LEAVE it.”   So we HAVE used flexi-leashes successfully.  In fact, if there were an Olympic sport for flexi-wrangling, my human would WIN the gold medal.  Seriously.  But now – our leashes are illegal…

So my question…now I’m NOT saying we WILL still use the flexi-leashes, but IF we did, and our human was taken to jail – do we dogs go to the dog pound?!!!  I mean really – are WE guilty too?  But this IS a hypothetical question….

Yup.  Bail money is on the list.  JUST in case. 

©  Linda Wozniak

Deck the Halls…

Well we survived the final stage of the Christmas Explosion.  The last tree is UP – and the DFZ has been secured.  We were definitely not allowed in while the decorating was happening although we could watch from behind the gate, and listen to the play-by-play.  At a couple of points we heard some rather “unusual” vocabulary and some strange sounds.  Once when my human had all the lights on the tree, and she plugged them in – only to find out that the lights that WERE working BEFORE she put them on the tree – were now not working.  Oh my, she was not happy.   Then at another point, we also heard a loud SMASH when a large glass ornament hit the floor – and we heard a loud GROAN.  “Tis the season to be jolly…falalalala….”

So yesterday after the last box was put away and the last needle swept up, we thought we could relax and keeping working on our lists for Santa.  Wrongo.  My human called Frodo and told him to come with her.  Into the garage.  Well the garage is where the dog food is stored.  And our toys are stored.  And the dog bathtub is located.  Yup.  Frodo got a BATH.  He has a Vet appointment for a routine eye check today – so he smells all fresh and clean. Lucky him.

What’s the deadline for this Santa list?  And does Santa allow you to email your list?  If I have to send it via Canada Post, I’m probably sunk.  Surely Santa uses email.  Doesn’t he?

© Linda Wozniak

Krampus Day

December 5.  The day before St. Nicholas day.  And today is also calledKrampus Day.  And who is Krampus?  Well.  He is the evil counterpart to good Saint Nick.  Krampus is the Christmas Devil.  St. Nick rewards GOOD people.  And Krampus punishes BAD people! He’s also known as Black Peter.  He’s a scary looking devil figure. Krampusnaught, or the night before St. Nick’s Day is celebrated in many European countries – including Austria, Italy, Finland and France.  And who knew – it is also celebrated in places in the US and even in Canada.

Personally, I do not like the look of the devil guy.  He reportedly hits bad people with switches and chains before he drags them off to a VERY hot locale.  Honestly – who would want to celebrate this guy? You humans really are strange.

MANY years ago, my human was at a flea market in Vienna, Austria.  And she came across an odd postcard.  Did I ever mention she collects old holiday postcards?  And old dog postcards?  Of course she does.  Anyway she saw this card and brought it – she thought it was for Halloween.  Wrongo – it’s a Krampus card.  That’s when she learned about Krampus.
 So now I’m just a TINY bit stressed that this guy will show up today.  Let’s face it – I’m not ALWAYS the best behaved dog there is…..But REALLY – overall I AM pretty sweet.  I told Frodo that if Krampus comes to get me, Frodo should bite him.  Frodo said I’m on my own.  And so did Pax.

So paws crossed he doesn’t show up.  I PROMISE to behave.  Really I do.  At least for today…..
© Linda Wozniak

Santa’s List Day

December 4.  Today is Santa’s List Day.  Time to look at all those things that I am wishing for this year – and to start making my list.  Besides world peace and health and prosperity for all.  I always put those at the top of the list.  Because if Santa looks at those and thinks “hmmmmmm….those might be a challenge….” chances are he’ll look at the other things on my list that are easier to obtain – and I’ll definitely get them.  Remember, we PONs are clever.   Not that I don’t want world peace – but I think we ALL have to wish for that one to make it come true….

It seems that my human has AGAIN placed an order from the place in Sweden that makes dog toys. I guess Santa works in Sweden part of the year.  Remember the insanely expensive interactive board games we got last year?  And the fact that only one out of three games has even made it out of the box?  Because none of us really understood them. Well of course my human HAD to pull the games out again last night– to give them another try.

So she started with Trubble.  That’s the name of the game – and NOT ANOTHER nickname for me.  It has a snake- like track on a board – and in it fits a peg in which you put treats.  The peg can ONLY come out on one end of the board.  The dog is supposed to move the peg along the snake-like track to get it out – and to get the treats.  My human started with the peg AT the point where it comes out of the track.  So I would get the idea.  I figured that out and could hardly compose myself in order for her to re-fill the treats.  When let loose, I attacked the whole board.  Scratching and pushing and pulling.  If the peg came out, it was basically luck.  I had NO strategy.  My human had to hold onto the board or it would have gone flying.  Then I tried to chew off the pegs.  After MULTIPLE tries – with me in a frenzied state, my human gave up.  Then it was Frodo’s turn.  He understood the fact that the peg needed to be in the exact position to get it out of the track.  But if it was moved even a half inch onto the track, he didn’t want to move it.  He just lay on the floor and barked at my human to get it herself.  He wanted NO part of foolish games.  And Pax?  He just tried to eat the whole board.

So my poor dejected human went to put away the game.  It was the lowest level of the games that Santa brought – so she figured if we couldn’t do THAT game, why try the higher level games.  That’s why they have been sitting in the closet since LAST Christmas.  But then she looked more closely at the Casino game – and thought MAYBE we could get it.  It’s a series of little drawers in which you can put treats.  You can also put a peg in to hold a drawer shut, which the dog has to remove to open the drawer.  But first things first – I had to get the idea that the treat was IN a drawer first.  And I had to learn how to pull open the drawer.  Well. Low and behold. I figured it out!  And my human could put the treat in different drawers, and I would sniff and find it.  I actually became QUIITE systematic with it.  She could even put the treats in two drawers and I could find them.  Now I could NOT understand the peg part – which basically requires two steps to get the treat.  But I MAY get it with more practice.  My human didn’t try Casino with Frodo or Paxton– she was exhausted after doing it with me.  Admittedly it WAS a bit of a challenge getting me to back off after I found the treats.  I was just being thorough!!!

I’m not sure I’ll put board games on the list AGAIN this year…but then I’m not sure I put them on the list LAST year.  Something tells me there is a direct connection between my human and what Santa actually brings….Seems she has a lot of clout with the guy in red…So as I continue my list, I’ll also have to add some things SHE might like.  I told you I could be a politician.  Excuse me while I go and continue that list…

©  Linda Wozniak

On the radio…with Paul Harvey

December 3.  On this day in 1950, a man in the US began his national radio broadcast career.  His name was Paul Harvey.  Paul’s career spanned decades and millions of people listened to him. He told stories and often ended them with his classic line: “and now you know the REST of the story.” Some people questioned his stories – and like anyone in he spotlight, there were those who loved him and others, well who didn’t!

In 1978, Harvey presented a speech at a Farmer’s Convention – which would become a classic story called “So God Made a Farmer.”   And many years later, a pardoy of that speech was made – this time as a tribute to us canine companions.  Take a minute to watch this – if you haven’t already seen it!  Although Mr. Harvey didn’t actually DO this tribute to us canines – I’m sure he would have approved. 

In keeping with our holiday preparations, it seems only fitting to also share an actual Paul Harvey broadcast – this one about Christmas. My human heard it MANY years ago, and she has always remembered it. I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

You know….I’m thinking Frodo could become a radio broadcaster.  I mean he LOVES to talk.  Hey – now THERE’S and idea.  A radio station JUST for dogs….Imagine the RACKET that would create!  Mind you, I’m afraid Frodo would talk about me and how I torment him and Pax.  And he would end up saying in his stories “and now you know the PEST of the story.”  Maybe I’ll just keep that broadcasting idea to myself…
©  Linda Wozniak

Christmas Countdown. The Advent Calendar.

December 2.  The countdown to Christmas has begun.  Mind you, I’ve been counting down in MY mind since September.  But I must confess, I am just a BIT ticked off with my human.  I want to know WHERE the dog Advent Calendar is.  Seriously. They make dog Advent Calendars.  With a little treat for each day.  There is even a video on-line that shows you how to make one – if you can’t find one in a store.  So I want to know where OUR calendar is?!

Advent Calendars for humans date back to the mid 1800’s – with the first printed version, that had little doors, made in the early 20th century.   My human always had an Advent Calendar when she was a kid – but it didn’t have treats and goodies like they do nowadays.  Back in the olden days, her calendars revealed a little picture each day– with the door on the 24thopening to reveal Baby Jesus and the manger.

I actually looked into the Advent Calendar sales in general….and you know – more calendars with pet treats are sold than with pictures of Baby Jesus.   I’m not sure THAT is such a good thing.  I’m all about the treats – but let’s not forget WHY we are counting down the days!  A good friend sent my human a digital version which is quite lovely.  We’ll see what happens on the 24th!

Now I SUPPOSE the other problem with a dog Advent Calendar filled with treats would be in selecting WHO would get to open the door.  I SUPPOSE we could take turns.  And heaven forbid the calendar was left somewhere accessible if my human wasn’t home – we would be fast-forwarding the days leading up to Christmas in 0.38 seconds. 

Anyway, we don’t HAVE a calendar so I don’t need to worry about it.  But I DO need to start thinking about those Christmas cards….

©   Linda Wozniak 

WHO did this?!

“Who did this?”   The famous three words that humans utter when a canine has demonstrated some undesirable behavior.   And yes – we heard them yesterday and for ONCE my human wasn’t REALLY sure whom she was directing them to.  Usually humans know fully well WHO has performed the bad deed – whether it is stealing something, pooping or peeing somewhere that is not allowed (like peeing on the BBQ on the deck) or destroying something….

Remember how I mentioned the “incident” with the dog Christmas ornament last year?  Well.  SOMEONE snuck into the DFZ while my human was in the shower, and decided to “rearrange” some of the decorations on the dog tree.  The irony?  The choice of decorations.  A regular ornament, two stuffed dog ornaments – one who had his collar removed, AN OBEDIENCE ribbon, and lastly – a little stocking that reads “GOOD DOG.”  Bwhahahahahahaha.  Good one.

The gate to the DFZ wasn’t fully latched.  Now we can probably rule out Paxton.  He doesn’t like moving the gate.  At ALL. But neither Frodo nor I were in the DFZ when my human got out of the shower.  Frodo was in the front hall – and I was lying comfortably in the dining room.  Both of us looked TOTALLY innocent.  Frodo and I are good at that.  Pax, on the other hand, has NO poker face.  For example, when my human came in from a walk with me the other morning, all she had to do was LOOK at Paxton and she KNEW he had done something.  She came in the house to examine what it was and found a roll of half destroyed paper towel on the dog bed.  His face gave him away. 

But the mystery of the Christmas decorating scandal remains.  She probably wouldn’t even have noticed – but the culprit DID leave the gate partly opened – which tipped her off.  That’s when she went into the DFZ and saw the scene of the crime.  At least whoever did it didn’t pull the ears off the dog like last year….

I’m guessing the gate to the DFZ will be securely latched from here on in.  But remember, we PONs are SMART, and if we want IN – we WILL find a way.  Bwhahahahahahhaha.
The two stuffed dogs, the stocking (with the message NOT visible!), another ornament AND the OBEDIENCE ribbon.

©  Linda Wozniak