Monday, May 19, 2008

Truman Gets Culture

April 25, 2008 -- No education is complete without a little art appreciation, so we spent an afternoon perusing the permanent collection at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.

While my favorite gallery was the 14th-16th century European art, Truman enjoyed the courtyard full of statuary, ducks, and potentially delicious plant life.

A day of pondering the meaning of art is enough to make one introspective.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Truman's New Friend

If you've been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you'll know that Truman's an exuberant sort, given to great bursts of energy and making friends wherever he goes. In his estimation, everyone is a potential playmate.

Eighteen-year-old Tigger is no exception.

When they first met, she was not pleased about this young punk Labrador thundering into her territory with all the grace and subtlety of a drunken rhinoceros in red sequined tap shoes. The Roo was, of course, fearless as always, but Aged Feline in Residence Tigger planted herself at the top of the stairs and made her displeasure known by standing her ground, emitting some unearthly growls and I'm-not-kidding hisses, and doing her Jurassic best to position her old bones into a semi-threatening arch of cranky catness.

As the months have passed, Truman's enthusiasm has not waned. While his spirited persistence -- sometimes in the form of a springy hop-dance and the generously hopeful offering of a squeaky toy -- hasn't resulted in the kind of camaraderie he would enjoy in a cat of his very own, there is now at least a level of tolerance that seems acceptable to all parties involved.

The growling is softer now, the hissing less frequent, and the proximity ever nearer. Truman followed Tigger around the living room once, getting close enough to sniff the very end of her tail, at which she merely turned and gave him a dirty look before continuing her long and creaky walk back to bed. I tried to explain to him that Tigger is a senior citizen, not particularly interested in rough-housing with puppies or anyone else.

But hope springs eternal, and so does Truman.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Truman Swings at the House of Mouse

April 19, 2008 -- Since Truman had been on a couple of Disneyland trips during the day, I thought it was time to introduce him to night life at the Magic Kingdom. Every Saturday night (Fridays too, during the summer), there's swing dancing to a live band at Carnation Plaza.

It was a very crowded evening, and though he'd managed crowds well during the day, Truman seemed a bit stressed while navigating them after dark. Typical of the little man, however, he did very well as soon as we were at our destination and he had a chance to settle in.

When Truman wasn't tapping his toenails to the sounds of Stompy Jones, he was hanging out with his auntie Cathryn so I could do a little dancing myself.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

One Last Time, Truman Asks You to Vote for Laurie!

UPDATE: Truman's good friend Laurie has made the FINALS (it's just her and one other person!) in's "Beedle the Bard Ballad Writing Contest," where the grand prize is a trip for two to London to read J.K. Rowling's handwritten, unpublished book of fairy tales, mentioned in the 7th Harry Potter book. She asked me to thank all of you who voted for her in the semi-finals...and hopes you will vote one last time!

Will you take a moment to vote for "Laura H." here on the Amazon contest page?


Literacy Lab

April 14, 2008 -- This morning, Truman and I participated in a "Story Tails" reading program at a local elementary school. The program is designed to encourage children who have trouble reading to practice their skills by spending ten minutes reading a story to a service dog, after which they are rewarded by getting to pet the dog and ask questions about his or her special job.

Truman and I were joined that day by Gina and Halle, a couple of lovely black Labs who, upon career-changing from GDA, decided to become therapy dogs (hence their special bandannas in the photo below). Being the youngest and least experienced, Truman was the most excited dog in the school library that day. The minute he laid eyes on Gina and Halle, any semblance of calm he had walked in with went bye-bye.

The librarian who hosted us matched each child with the appropriate little boy in particular stole my heart. He seemed a bit fidgety at first, and unsure of what he was supposed to be doing, but he settled in after a few minutes and did a pretty good job with his book. The librarian asked me how it went, and told me that she'd matched us because this particular little boy "has a bit of trouble sitting still," and she thought he and Truman might be able to relate to each other.

Sheesh -- is it that obvious?

Anyway, it was good practice for everyone, and the kids seemed to love reading to the dogs and showing them the pictures on each page.

Let it not be said that Truman doesn't give to his community!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree...

...with anyone else but Roo:

It was a pleasure spending the afternoon at the apple farm with my two handsome and photogenic gentlemen....

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Farm

The best part of our trip to Camino? Wolf's family owns some land on which they used to operate an organic apple farm, and it was a special treat to be able to visit.

Truman sits at the boundary of the land, with a neighboring property in the background:

A few shots of the farm:

More to come....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Road Trip to Camino

April 11-13, 2008 -- Five-thirty in the morning is early by my standards, but when you have to get on the road for a seven-hour drive up to northern California, ya gotta do whatcha gotta do. Luggage? Check. Snacks and water for the road? Check. Dog food? Check. Portable, fold-up Labrador Retriever? Check.

Once again, Truman proved his mettle as a traveling companion on the road to Camino, where we were headed for a "work weekend" at the forest-nestled home of my boyfriend's spry-but-not-quite-spry-enough-to-sweep-pine-needles-off-her-own-roof octogenarian aunt Inge.

Aside from traumatizing Inge's little dog Sadie and creating MORE work for the weekend by meeting the screen door at ramming speed, Truman was a very good house guest. He enjoyed the sights (different kinds of birds!), sounds (new barking opportunities!), and smells (wow! whose poop is THIS?) of the forest.

After the house and yard projects were complete, we explored the nearby town of Placerville (known as "Old Hangtown" for obvious California Gold Rush-era reasons). We visited the Thomas Kinkade gallery (Kinkade grew up in Placerville); the oldest continuously operating hardware store west of the Mississippi; a cozy little used book store; and the historic Cary House Hotel. Here's Truman posing on the landing of the staircase in the hotel lobby:

One uniquely wonderful part of our trip is that since Wolf's dad and aunt emigrated from Germany, Inge introduced us to lots of authentic German cuisine, both home-cooked and at a favorite family establishment, the St. Pauli Inn in Pollock Pines, where I ate schnitzel and sauerkraut on the outdoor deck overlooking the American River. No, I did not share. Truman does NOT need the cabbage.

Tomorrow, you'll see some photos from our favorite part of the weekend....

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Good Luck, Stuart!

Like our friend Oceana, Stuart is being turned in for formal training today.

We've known Stuart since his was just a little guy -- he's only three weeks older than Truman. And we're hoping that by the time Roo gets to formal training next August, Stuart and Oceana will be ready to show him the ropes. Good luck, guys!