Thursday, January 31, 2008

The miracle

Yesterday the weather was pretty awful here in Braintree. In the morning and for most of the afternoon it rained off and on, with very high winds. Even when the weather cleared later on, the winds were amazing. I spent the day here at home. On the many occasions where I asked Mom to let me outside, I amused myself by chasing the lawn furniture as it whirled around our deck.

That's not the miracle. As you know, I have two feline siblings, Minette and Talisker. They haven't been very close, historically speaking. In fact, until I came along, I'm told that they couldn't be in the same room together without a whole lot of fur flying - mostly Talisker's. Anyway, yesterday Mom and Dad were watching TV in the bedroom and Dad came out to get a drink of water. "Come here!" he called to Mom. "It's worth getting up!" Both cats were on the kitchen table, right next to each other, contentedly dozing. It was amazing. They stayed that way for a good half hour!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's always the little ones

Yesterday Mom and I went back to the Blue Hills and followed our customary walk around Houghton's Pond. A dusting of snow on Sunday made it a lot less slippery for poor Mom! Anyway, we'd gone maybe a third of the way around the pond when we met a tall, thin man and his little dog. I'm not sure what kind of dog it was, but it kind of looked like a little imp. Maybe it was a French bulldog? It was smaller than my head, whatever the little demon doggie might have been. At any rate, the little critter was snarling, hissing spitting, straining at the leash and making this horrible sound that might have been a growl and might have been the Beasts of the Pit trying to emerge and steal my soul. I didn't care. I showed it that I wanted to play, but its person just picked it up. "This one is very poorly socialized," he told my mom. Yeah, you think? A little later we met another dog. This one was very big, maybe a Boxer or Boxer cross, and was brindled with a bobbed tail. It hid behind its mom and did not bark.

So I didn't meet any new four-legged friends, but I did meet some two legged friends. A man was walking his two nephews in the park, and they were very young and very happy to see me. They liked dogs. They told me about their dog at home, who is an English Spaniel and barks "all the time." She also Does It on the floor. She does not sound like a very good dog.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Regarding sticks....

I'd like to take the opportunity to issue a formal complaint about the quality of sticks in Braintree these days. Yesterday my mom took me for a walk around the neighborhood. There were many sticks on the ground, so many that you'd think you'd died and gone to Heaven. These were good-sized sticks too, with lots of little branches. Some of them were longer than me, and quite thick besides. Every time I picked up a stick, though, it would disintegrate in my mouth. I'd be stuck with this little bit of stick no wider than my mouth.

I don't know what can be done to improve the low quality of Braintree sticks. I'm just a dog. But it is clear to me that something must be done or else there will be no sticks to carry!

I made up for the trauma of the disintegrating sticks last night. I have a tennis ball. It's a low-quality tennis ball, intended for dogs and not for tennis players, and I've pretty well wrecked it. The felt covering hangs off in little rubbery strips. Last night I brought the ball into the bed, grabbed one of the rubbery strips and swung it around. I managed to get Dad in three different bruises, and to get him in his computer monitor.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What a good boy am I!

Yesterday, Mom and Dad had something to do that required them to be out of the house all day. My friends Dwayne and Judith came to get them. I like them, especially Judith. She always wears black pants and lets me lean on her! Dwayne is fun, too. Even Big Sister Minette likes him, and she doesn't like anyone but Mom! Anyway, they all got in the car. Dwayne and Judith got to sit in the back seat, which is my seat, but I don't mind. I like to share.

Now, the day before, Mom and Dad went out to run some errands together. I went into my crate and they left. Imagine their surprise when they returned to find me greeting them at the door! I had escaped from my crate. Dad thinks that he just didn't close the crate right. Mom, well, she's seen me pawing at the latches to the crate, so she knows I understand what they're for. She knows I'm smart enough to get out on my own. They can't prove how I did it, and I'm sure not telling!

So yesterday, when they were getting ready to leave me alone for the whole day, they had a talk. I didn't wreck anything when I was loose and running around the whole house for hours. There isn't even any evidence that I got into the Little Chocolate Treats. When they go away for a longer period of time I usually stay in the downstairs bathroom, but they didn't want to leave me down there for as long as they were planning to be gone. So they decided that they would let me stay in the kitchen. My Auntie Laura had agreed to stop in and let me out later in the day.

What a good boy I was! I knew that this was an important step for Mom and Dad, letting me stay in the kitchen, so I made extra sure that I was good. I didn't wreck anything. I didn't Do It on the floor. When they came home I greeted them at the door, and I was so happy to see them that I crawled right into bed with them. Judith even brought me a little bit of Prime Rib as a reward! I ate it right up.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Two walks in 18 hours

Yesterday, Mom and I went for a walk at Blue Hills again. We followed the same route we did before, just in the other direction. We didn't see anyone, not even my friend Reggie. I think he'd been there, though. I sure smelled him all over the place, in that field by the parking lot!

Later that night, Mom was cooking and Dad decided he would bring me down into the basement to watch the Celtics. I cried and cried until Dad brought me back up to the kitchen where Mom was, where I lay down on the floor and watched her cook. I was so happy I didn't even get under her feet! Later on we went back downstairs, both Mom and I, and that was better. She doesn't like the Celtics half as much as she likes the Patriots, but she was happy enough to play tug with me and my Fling A Fowl.

Then this morning, Mom had to go to the bank. She decided she would bring me. They're going to be gone all day, and she wanted me to have a little fun and feel like I went someplace. She loves me very much! Anyway, it was bitterly cold, but guess what? Because of a holiday earlier this week, people had their garbage out on Saturday, and while I didn't eat any of it I got to sniff it ALL. We made it to the bank. Mom didn't think there would be anyone there, because it was so early, but there were people getting ready to open the bank. I was so happy! They were so happy! Everyone was a dog person, and the head teller even brought out a treat for me. They petted me, and let me lean on them, and rubbed my neck and scritched under my collar so much I thought I'd gone to Heaven. This was Citizens' Bank, for those looking for a bank with nice people who like dogs.

Mom had to get home, so we left, but we took a slightly different route. We met two new dogs, being walked by a man. These were little dogs. I don't know what they were. They looked like someone hit a Shih Tzu with a shrink ray. Mom assured the man that I was friendly (just in case there was any doubt.) The man says, "They aren't. They think they're pit bulls. They're my wife's dogs." It was true - they were snarling and snapping and straining at their leashes. I don't know what they thought they were going to do, they were smaller than the cats at home. I wanted to play with them anyway, but Mom thought that might not be the best idea so we came home.

Mom wanted me to add this thought. The man said his tiny dogs thought they were Pit Bulls. Mom says she used to live with a Pit Bull. He was a beautiful and wonderful dog, even sweeter than I am. He did not snarl and snap at other dogs, and he only strained at the leash if he thought you had ice cream. He liked to lie in the sun, climb up the jungle gym and slide down the slide. Maybe if these dogs thought they were Pit Bulls, maybe Tigger thought he was a Newfie? I don't know. I'll bet Tigger didn't need half as much combing as these two, though!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Homework for me

I haven't been to school in a while. This is apparently because there are supposed to be other dogs in the class and their people were on vacation. In the meantime, I'm supposed to be doing homework. I'm having a very hard time with "stay." I don't really understand this command. The school uses food as a reward. Mom stands there with a treat. She says, "sit." Sit I know. I'm good with Sit. We're old friends. I didn't even need to go to school to learn Sit. Then she says, "Stay." I look at her quizzically. She says "stay" again and takes a step backwards. So I take a step forward and sit again. She rolls her eyes and says, "No, stay." Sometimes I lie down and stay there for a few steps, and then I get a treat. Really, though I like to just get up and take the treat.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Stars Have Aligned!

Yesterday the stars aligned just for me. It wasn't actively precipitating, it was cold but not dangerously so, and Mom was feeling well. Do you know what that means? She finished her coffee and got dressed, and then she put her boots on. I thought she was going to go someplace dull, like the supermarket. Then she grabbed my scooper, and I just smiled and wagged my tail like anything!

We went out side and brought in the trash cans. I tried to lead her back out onto the sidewalk, but she still outweighs me and was able to get me to go toward the car. I was so happy! I wasn't sure where we were going but I knew that I would love it. I always love anyplace we go in the car. She got me up onto the seat and I wagged my tail the whole way there. She had to turn up the radio.

We got to the Blue Hills Reservation, which was a frozen paradise. We got out of the car and were almost immediately greeted by a very excited English Springer Spaniel named Reggie. (Reggie's person gave a huge grin when he heard my name, but he and Mom didn't talk baseball. That could be dangerous in Boston!) Reggie and I ran around and played for a good twenty minutes. Reggie runs fast. He's about a year older than I am, and he's so well behaved that his dad doesn't need to keep him on a leash. Mom says we're working on it but I'm not there yet, but Reggie didn't seem to mind at all. He was content enough to stay where I could reach him. I loved playing with my new friend, and I made sure that I leaned on his person good and hard to show my gratitude.

After Reggie and I had played for a while, it was time for him to get going, so Mom and I went for a little hike. It wasn't a particularly challenging hike. We just took the trail that went around Houghton's Pond. Mom said that given how icy the trails were she wanted to stick to relatively flat terrain, and I can understand that. I was able to pull her along like a dog sled in a couple of places, which you'd think she'd enjoy. Two-legs - go figure.

The short, flat, icy trail didn't hinder our enjoyment much. There were plenty of things for me to do. Last week's ice storm knocked more than enough sticks for all the dogs in the metropolitan Boston area. One of the first ones that I found was a huge stick, with lots of little sticks sticking up off of it. I carried it around for a while. Then I tried to drop it, but I couldn't! Some of the other little sticks had gotten tangled in my collar. Mom was nervous - one of the was stuck across my throat, so she broke that one off. Once I was unstuck, I picked the stick up and trotted off with it until I found something else to sniff.

I also learned that the cold weather hasn't kept the horses out of the park either. One of them left a huge deposit. I tried to roll in it, because that would have been just the best perfume for the short ride home! It would have stayed in the car forEVER! Unfortunately, or fortunately from Mom's frankly incomprehensible point of view, the deposit was frozen absolutely solid. It might have been a rock. Oh well. I guess one can't really have everything.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Bear Named Wesley

On Saturday, my people gave me a new toy. It's not really "new." It is a stuffed bear (with a squeaker - I love squeakers!) that someone gave them when they were going to bring me home. Initially they were not going to give me stuffed things. They were concerned that I would have trouble differentiating between my toys and other stuffed things, like pincushions, pillows and the little pink piggy that Grandma bought when she found out that Mom was on the way. That said, Dad decided that I've been pretty good with "stuffing." I don't chew on the pillows, haven't noticed any pincushions, and while the little pink piggy smells very much like Mom (since she's had it her whole life) I don't bother him. I had managed to completely destroy one of my other toys, a glow-in-the-dark rubber skeleton, by eating the head, and Dad decided to give me the bear.

That same day, my mom's friend called. Mom's friend is the mother of my little two-legged friend Wesley. Apparently Wesley has a stuffed puppy that he has decided to name after me - Yogi. I have decided that my new bear shall be called Wesley. It doesn't really look like Wesley, being blue and red and very, very fuzzy, but that's okay.

Wesley is my new favorite toy. I bring him everywhere. I carry him around the kitchen and find a good place in the sun for him to sleep. I bring him over to my food bowl when I eat. I bring him into my crate at night and hold him in my arms when I go to sleep. I even bring him into the bed when I jump in there to sneak a nap with Mom and Dad. (They seem to be fairly distressed by this. I have to carry Wesley in my mouth, because I'm a dog and lack opposable thumbs. This renders Wesley a little.... damp.)

I am so happy to have my little bear named Wesley!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A late-night rosy glow

Last night, Mom and Dad decided that it was time to remove the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree stood in the library, a room into which I am generally not allowed. This was fine. I mean, I didn't like the fact that I had to hang out in the kitchen by myself, but if they had to take the thing down they had to take it down. Mom said that it was becoming a fire hazard, and she said it with that look in her eye that makes "hazard" sound like a good thing, so it had to go.

But they stayed in the library after they removed the tree! Eventually I barked to be allowed into my crate for bed - I do have my routine, after all. Usually at least one of them comes and goes to sleep not long afterward. Last night, though, they didn't. I drifted off to sleep, but every time I woke up to see where they were, they weren't there.

Eventually, and by "eventually" I mean "after 1:00 AM," Mom came into the kitchen to satisfy a late-night broccoli craving. I asked to come out. She let me out to fertilize the yard. When she came back, though, she looked at me. "Do you want to come see the fire?" she asked me. I wagged my tail just as hard as I could, and she smiled and scratched me under my collar. When her broccoli was finished cooking, she put my leash on me and we walked out of the kitchen.

I wasn't sure where we were going at first. I tried to go downstairs into the basement, since she sometimes uses my leash to bring me down there when they go away for the whole day, but she didn't follow. "Come on, Yogi," she told me as I was halfway down the stairs. "We're not going downstairs." This was disappointing - I thought there might be more football - but she said, "It's okay, Yogi." And we went into the library!

I'm not usually allowed in the library for two reasons. It's hard to secure (ie, keep me in the library) and it's full of paper products that would very likely prove too tempting to me. However, as long as I stayed on my leash it was okay. Mom and Dad had built a very warm fire in the fireplace and were enjoying its warmth. Dad was sitting on one of the chairs playing on his computer. Mom was sitting on the floor because it was closer to the fire.

I explored as much as I could, taking care to unplug Dad's laptop twice and knock over a stack of books in the process. That was when I made a beautiful discovery: A fire is made with sticks. There are large sticks called "logs," which I can't quite get my jaws around, and there are smaller sticks called "kindling." All of these sticks are piled in the library. Can you imagine the treasure? It was amazing! I was able to get a couple of pieces of bark off the logs and I cheerfully ate them - you need fiber in your diet, after all. I stole a couple of the smaller sticks, just to keep Mom from getting too comfortable there by the fire. I even got to help! Dad was piling more wood onto the fire when he turned to me with a larger piece of kindling. He said, "Here, hold this." I was so proud! I sat there with that big old stick in my mouth, smiling and wagging my tail, for at least three minutes. For me to sit still five minutes is quite the accomplishment!

After, I came and half-sat in Mom's lap. The fire was so warm! Mom was so happy to have me and the fire right there, you would have thought she had died and gone to heaven. Eventually, though, I had to go back to my crate. The adventure was novel, but there are some times when a dog should really just be in bed, so I whined a little and led them back to the crate. I liked the fire, but I like my bed in my crate better. Especially that late at night!

Monday, January 21, 2008

I love football!

Mom is finally starting to show signs of recovering from her Horrible Creeping Crud. This is very good for me. I was getting quite bored. We watched three movies in one day. I liked the two Mel Brooks movies, History of the World Part I and Men in Tights. The third, Much Ado About Nothing, was a little beyond my attention span. Too many words, not enough pratfalls.

Yesterday, though, was a wonderful day, because there was football. I love football. When Mom and I watch movies, she brings her computer in the bed and we watch them there. When we watch football, we go downstairs into the basement. I don't much care about the games. They involve a lot of shouting, although not actually at me unless I do something smelly I'm not supposed to do. I have a bunch of toys down there, though. All through the game, I bring the toys over to Mom and she plays with me. We play tug, and we play fetch, and then I sit on her lap, and then we play tug and fetch again. It's wonderful. I can bring her toy after toy and she never gets tired of it! Yay for football!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sooooooooo bored!

Things in Braintree are still pretty dull. The snow we got on Monday means that it's harder for us to go for walks and have fun adventures, because we can't get down our street. Plus, Mom is still trying to get over her Horrible Creeping Crud. She seems to think that the key is rest, but I know better. I know that the key is to move around as much as possible, so I've been trying to help. I ask to go in my crate while she's resting. Five minutes later I insist on getting in the bed with her. Then I insist on going outside. Then I come back inside and get back in the bed. Then I chase the cat. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I'm not sure that it's working, but it at least keeps me occupied.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dull Days in Braintree

I know it's been a few days since I last posted, but these have been some pretty dull days in Braintree. The weather was lousy, and then Mom came down with a Horrible Creeping Crud. I don't really understand it, but she doesn't seem to want to do much but lie in bed, occasionally groan, and blow her nose a lot. This should create a real paper product windfall for me, assuming that I can get at any of it! She's getting wilier when it comes to keeping me away from paper.

This morning, after Dad left for work, I decided that I would help Mom out by cleaning off the counters. This resulted in some yelling. I don't know why. She likes it when the counters glisten, and they certainly glisten when I go about cleaning them. Maybe it's the fever talking.

All that can be easily pushed aside though, for excitement has started to return to my life. Snow has returned to Braintree! Yes, beautiful, wonderful, bountiful snow. I like snow. At least, I like certain aspects of the snow. I can bound through it with my ears flapping in the breeze, and chase the shovel when Dad shovels the deck. I'm not so fond of the coldness, but there is something to be said about bounding through it as it piles up around you! Plus, every snowstorm is like Christmas for me. I dig through the snow until I find the outdoor toys that are still in the yard, like my broom and my ball and my flowerpots, and then it's just like I got a new toy!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

First day of school!

Today was my first day of school! Mom had to get up early to bring me. I'm kind of surprised that we made it, because she doesn't do so well early in the morning. Anyway, we got in the car and drove for a little while. Mom left lots of extra time because that road is often backed up with accidents and construction. We got to a big strip mall in Avon. We were so early that Mom decided to walk me around the building first. There was one store there, Staples, that was just full of paper products. I tried to go in, but Mom wouldn't let me. We argued about it for a little while, but Mom still outweighs me so in the end she won. Then we went inside our real destination: Petco.

I didn't think any store could be as exciting as Staples, but I was wrong! I loved Petco! They had bags and bags of food, and absolutely scads of treats. Not only that, but I was the only dog in the store. Wow! There were so many people, and they were all so nice and friendly! I got lots of pats, and lots of scritches, from all my new friends. Jen, the manager, was especially friendly. She taught me how to lie down on the first try! She also mentioned to my mom that there are parks in Hingham, Weymouth and Abington where I can go to have fun with other dogs. That sounds so exciting! Mom thinks she wants to get me a little better trained before she lets me off-leash though.

Anyway, I was the only dog, so my class was pretty short. Mom has been assured that this will not be the norm. We worked on giving me treats in a way that wouldn't involve contact with my teeth, and on making my tail wag (this one was easy,) and on walking me on a loose leash. Walking on the loose leash was difficult, and I will probably need a lot of practice with that. Then we did sit and stay. I was already good at sit. Stay was harder. Mom didn't think that it was going so well, but my trainer Stephanie says that I was actually doing pretty well and that staying for longer distances will come with practice. They gave Mom a book so that we can do homework together. All of this training involved lots of treats, so I am a very happy puppy right now!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Last night Mom and Dad went someplace else to eat. I don't know where it was, but when they came home they smelled like other cats - not the two we live with. I don't know what they ate, either, but whatever it was it certainly didn't agree with Dad! After Dad got somewhat over his intestinal ailment he played Chase with me. Mom doesn't like it when we play Chase in the house. She says that it encourages bad behavior. Is that in me or in Dad? Anyway, they finally noticed that my collar was a little tight, and decided to loosen it. Dad checked to make sure that it wasn't going to slip off.

When I woke up this morning it was raining and soggy. This made me sad. If it is raining and soggy we don't tend to go for walks, as I don't like the rain much and struggle to not go outside in it. By about one o'clock in the afternoon, though, the sun had come out! I was so excited I insisted on going outside and playing with the remains of my purple ball. I still have most of them! Then Mom took me for another walk.

We decided to walk a little farther down Route 37 than we usually would - not north, toward Quincy, but south toward Holbrook. It was a nice day, but we hadn't gotten very far when we encountered an obstacle: some large trucks that were parked on the sidewalk, doing work on some cables over our heads. I can understand parking on the sidewalk to do your work - Route 37 is a busy street, and isn't wide enough for people to get around you! However, while it was possible to get around the trucks by walking on someone's lawn, it was not possible to get back onto the sidewalk after that. There was a fence, and a big wire hanging down a little before neck level on Mom. This was a problem. Mom didn't know for sure what kind of wire it was, and I'm still young so she was afraid that I might jump at it or something. So she looked both ways, listened, looked again. Sure that no one was coming, she tried to get around the two trucks by walking in the street.

She walked very quickly, and kept me on a very short leash. She says that this was for my protection, but I really don't like being on a short leash. And this was very short! I wriggled and I tugged, but I could not get out of it. So I wriggled and I wriggled and I tugged some more, and finally - freedom! My collar slipped off over my head. I was a naked, regal, wild dog. This was not meant to last. Mom yelled a Very Bad Word, involving some of my favorite treats, and tackled me in between the two trucks. I don't know how she managed this, because they were barely big enough for me to fit through and Mom is quite a bit wider than I am. Maybe this has something to do with her now-bloody knuckles? At any rate, she tackled me, and then she picked me up and carried me the rest of the way between the trucks. I don't know how she managed to do it, since even Dad can barely lift me at this point, but she was really mad. I don't think she was mad at me, since she never told me that I was a Bad Dog. I bet the Verizon guys (who did not attempt to help) would have wound up outside in the yard in the dark, though! No Milk Bones for them! Anyway, she managed to hold me with her legs (even though I struggled and I struggled - freedom is a heady thing!) and adjusted the collar. It's a little too tight right now, but she wasn't taking any more chances!

We kept on walking and turned on a side street. This was exciting. I would much rather be on the side streets than on Route 37. Mom lets me on a very long leash, and I can sniff around and see everything that there is to see and sniff. There's a lot less paper on the side streets for me to steal, but you can't have everything. Anyway, we found a rutted, muddy mess. The rutted, muddy mess intrigued both me and Mom, and we investigated. There was a sign identifying the mess as Dyer Hill Playground. "Playground?" Mom asked. "I don't see a playground!" Clearly we had to check it out. She didn't even object when I turned up the rutted muddy drive.

We soon saw the "playground." There was plenty of equipment, but it was all wrapped up in Caution tape. There was gravel there - real rocks and stones, not the Democratic presidential candidate. There was also a large hole in the ground, and a bunch of sand in the middle of the basketball court. I wanted to go look at everything, and to piddle on the slide, but Mom didn't seem too keen on the idea. She wanted to get some band-aids for her knuckles, having finally noticed that they were bloody. She also seemed to think that the hole looked a little deep and she didn't want me to fall in. So we walked around the edge of the "park," which was wooded and probably full of ticks. Mom thinks she saw some blackberry bushes, and I suspect that she'll make a return trip during blackberry season!

After that, we found our way home. It was a kind of short walk, especially when compared with yesterday, but there was plenty of drama!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Walk in the Woods

Last night, after I posted, was pretty uneventful. Mom and Dad were eating, and I wanted to play Tug. Tug, for the record, is pretty much my favorite game. I brought her my sheepy. She continued to eat her dinner. I put my sheepy in her lap. She informed me that she couldn't touch my sheepy while she was eating because it was a "filthy thing." I kept it in her lap and I leaned. I couldn't make her understand that I desperately needed to play Tug.... RIGHT NOW! I kept it up through the whole meal, but she was firm. Maybe she was mad at me! Oh, I hope not! After dinner, Daddy played Tug with me instead. This was almost as good. He is stronger than Mom, although he doesn't play quite as long.

Anyway, today Mom and I had a wonderful adventure. It was over 60 degrees in Braintree, sunny and beautiful, and she looked at me and said, "Yogi, would you like to go to the Blue Hills?" Well, that was a silly question. I'm more than happy to go just about anywhere. I jumped off the bed, she put my leash on me and we went outside.

To my intense surprise, we didn't get out of the driveway. Instead, she led me to the car. Was that right? Were we really going for a ride in the car? I love to go for rides in the car! We always go someplace exciting, like Grandma and Grandpa's house or the vet. I love the vet. She gives me treats. Anyway, we got on the road and we got underway.

We hit a lot of traffic on the highway going there. I don't know why. I bet those people were all going somewhere wonderful too, since it was such a nice day. I was kind of hoping that everyone else was going to the Blue Hills, because I love people, but that didn't turn out to be the case. The tie-up was all related to people getting onto 24, and I'm not sure where that goes, but once we passed that it only took a few seconds to get to our exit.

First, we pulled into one entrance to the park, only to find gates pulled shut! This was very disappointing. Mom turned the car around and I thought she was going to go home, but she tried to turn right instead of left. Unfortunately there was another car, with a woman sitting at the wheel talking on her cell phone, at the stop sign. Mom waited about five minutes - for a Golden Retriever, that's forever - and then just went around her. We found another gate with a parking spot a little ways away, and we went into the park.

The park was an absolute mess. I loved it! It was all mud and slush. We slogged through a field and found a path. Mom wanted to go to the "visitor center" to buy a map. On the way, we met another dog. Her name was Thursday. She was very friendly, but I think her people were in a bit of a rush because they wouldn't let her play with me. We trudged on to the visitor center, but there was no one there to buy a map from. (Mom later found out that we should have gone to Reservation Headquarters, not to the visitor center.) At any rate, there were some free brochures there, to include some recommended hikes. Mom grabbed them and we set off on something called the Dark Hollow Trail. It was marked with green dots.

I don't even know how to tell you how wonderful this hike through the woods was! We were probably there for at least two hours. The guide listed it as "easy," but I think we must have crossed up with another green-dot trail because we went up and down all sorts of hills. The temperature was so weird. Down on the ground, because of all the slush and snow and still-thawing ground, it was cool. Up above that, it was sunny and very, very warm. It was almost like there were temperature "strata" like sedimentary rocks (which I like to carry around in my mouth.) There were so many sticks - I can't even count them all. Some of them were longer than I am! And there were some sticks that looked normal, sticking up out of the snow and all, but I just couldn't pull them out of the snow! Mom says that they were little trees, and that they'll make plenty of sticks for me later on.

There were places where it looked like water was just appearing from out of nowhere. I don't know if it was snow melt, or if this was natural, but it was just flowing down the side of a little hill into this huge basin. The basin looked like normal woods, but it had a huge amount of water in it like a swamp. Maybe someone overturned their water bowl. I do that sometimes, when I get excited. It would have to be a big water bowl, though! I drank some of the water.

Other animals had been there too! I stopped and sniffed at almost every tree and every rock that stuck up out of the ground. At one place, we saw a cave up the hill, and I wanted to go and look at it but Mom wasn't so keen on that. It wasn't a big cave - I bet I could have fit in it no problem! And there were other signs of other animals. I didn't see any horses, but they sure left me plenty of treats! Mom wasn't so keen on me having those treats either. We went up another tall, tall hill. When we tried to come back down, the path was very muddy and she slipped and fell. She was all dirty! I rolled in some mud too, so that we would smell the same.

Toward the end of our walk, we met three more friends: Luna, a six-month-old Huskie that could almost make me forget about the Yankee Stadium guard dog (and I think she liked me too!), Hopi, another Golden Retriever, and Harley, who is staying with Luna and Hopi while her parents are away. We played and played, and ran around, and leaned on each other's people. It was a great time.

Eventually, we came to the end of the trail. That's where we found two-leg kids to play with! I met two young girls, both very pretty, who were enjoying the weather and collecting pine boughs. I also met a very sweet little boy, a toddler. He has a yellow lab at home (I wonder where she was?) but seemed a little intimidated by me. His dad was very nice, though, and gave me lots of pats and scritches. We met a friendly cocker spaniel too, who really wanted to play, but her people didn't want her to play so we kept going. We got back into the car, which is now a very muddy car, and went home.

I was so tired that I took a nap. When I woke up, it was dark out. I went into the kitchen and looked out the back window when I saw him - the Ghost Dog. I see him just about every night. He comes and he looks in the window. I bark at him, but he doesn't get scared away - he just barks right back. I try to hide, but sometimes Mom makes me go outside and face him. I think she's just as scared of him as I am! Whenever I go outside to chase him away, he's gone. One of these day, we'll actually meet up.....

Special Bonus Post - New Hampshire Primaries

Hi, everyone! While I live in Massachusetts, I was actually born in New Hampshire. My people say that this gives me a special connection to the presidential primaries held there that they, as New York natives, do not have. They thought that it would be a good idea for me to share my views on the candidates. I'm not so sure that I understand what it's all about, especially since none of the candidates specifically mention dogs in their literature, but I'll do just about anything if Mom will give me a Beggin' Strip, so here goes.

Biden: Some of his policies seem a little gullible. I will declare him Most Likely to Fall for Puppy-Dog Eyes.

Clinton:I think my hair would look just great stuck to her pants suits. I'd love to wander up to her and shed all over her. And have you seen the amount of paper associated with her? I'd spend all day sitting and chewing it up!

Dodd: I can almost say his name in People!

Edwards: I was kind of disappointed that he didn't point to the tainted pet-food scandal as evidence of corporate greed. Plus, his hair is too well-styled. He probably wouldn't want to walk the dog, because it might muss his hair.

Gravel: I dislike walking on gravel. It hurts my little paws. Which are actually quite large paws, but there you go.

Kucinich: Mom and I went to his website, to see what he's all about. Maybe it's just the way that the link was set up from the Globe website, but it immediately asked us to make a donation. I'll make a donation, all right - on his lawn.

Obama: His rallies are very, very loud. Loud things make me nervous. They remind me of my eternal foe, the Vacuum Cleaner. His focus on technology leads me to suspect that he would encourage replacement of real, hairy, farty, flesh-and-blood-and-drool dogs with Japanese robot dog imports.

Richardson: He favors appointing a blue-ribbon commission on people diseases, but what about doggie diseases? How dog friendly is New Mexico, anyway? Where is New Mexico?

Giuliani: If he can get me a date with the hot Golden Retriever police dog patrolling Yankee Stadium, he's my man, I don't care what his stances are.

Huckabee: This candidate actually does have some dog-related controversy. His son killed a dog at a Boy Scout camp a while back. He's been accused of blocking an investigation of the incident while governor. Newsweek quotes some people who back it up. He denies it on Larry King. I don't know who I believe.

Hunter: Hunter says "Build the Fence." I like fences. They're great for piddling. More fences, fences everywhere!

Keyes: His stance on property rights does not address the right of dogs to piddle on lawns. I shall piddle on his shoe.

McCain: McCain wants to end pork barrel spending. I don't know what that is, but I like pork, and if there was a whole barrel of it I'd be pretty darn happy, wouldn't you? Especially if it contained bacon.

Paul: Ron Paul advocates homeschooling. I'm not sure how I feel about that. It would make my street less busy so Mom could take me for walks at different times, but how would I find kids to play with if I didn't meet them coming out of school? Plus, he looks like a chew toy.

Romney: Last night the news accused him of being a flip-flopper. I like flip flops. I once took one of Mom's flip flops and brought it all the way down to the corner of the garden, where the woodchuck hole is, and chewed on it for hours and hours. This resulted in a lot of shouting, but boy was it worth it!

Tancredo: I have never heard of Tancredo, but I'd gladly hump his leg or steal his shoe. Ditto for Thompson.

So there you have it, my position on all of the candidates for today's primary in my native state of New Hampshire. I hope that you find it helpful in guiding your vote.

Yogi, Political Pundit.