a recent post to our announcement
list we offered up free copies of Carol Emshwiller's fantastic
debut novel, Carmen
Dog, in return for stories about Carmen, Carol, or
dogs. Guess which one we got the most responses on?
We'll be giving away more free
books over spring, so sign on up.
Thank you to all the readers who
sent in stories. Here are four of the five lucky winners. The 5th
winner preferred to remain nameless (although not bookless!) and we
are nothing if not happy to accede to the demands of our smart and
About dogs: Dogs and cats, like
people, are either right-handed or left-handed; that is, they favor
either their right or left paws.
About A dog: When I was a kid,
and we lived in the Texas hill-country, our enormous white mixed-breed
hound, Abernathy, roamed free. One Thanksgiving evening, he dragged
an entire stuffed, cooked turkey up onto the back porch. It didn't
have a single mark on it, except the imprint of his teeth. We never
found out where he got it from.
Did you know that the canary
islands are named, not after canaries, but after dogs?
There were descriptions (by the
Romans) of large numbers of wild dogs roaming the islands way back
in the old days, so the Romans named them "Canaria" after
the Latin "canis" (dog).
Canary birds were named after
my parents have two adopted greyhounds--as
well as severe empty-nest syndrome--and these are some really crazy
dogs. the first one, the boy, used to be shy and scared (we think
he was abused pretty badly) but when they got their girl-dog, the
hyperest greyhound this side of wherever it is they race greyhounds,
he came out of his shell. now both dogs frequently get into my parents'
bed when my parents are sleeping and thus unaware, and sneakily take
over the entire thing until my mom nearly falls out of bed. also,
the girl-dog is notorious for humping people--she used to just hump
girls, but then my brother trained her to hump his leg by shaking
it at her, and now there is no holding her back from expressing her
dominance while the rest of us, immature as we are, laugh hysterically
at her victim.
these dogs, being thin-skinned
(in the literal sense), also need to wear doggie winter coats in the
cold pittsburgh weather. these are fleece arrangements that velcro
around the dog's stomach, and not nearly as stupid looking at the
little doggie sweater i saw on one of those little dogs with a fancy
haircut on unc's campus last week. i just went to the akc website
to try and figure out which breed of dog the little guy was--for added
humor, maybe--but was unsuccessful. needless to say, it would have
fit nicely in the toy group. if you watch dog shows and understand
what i'm talking about, anyway. thank you for your time,
OK, so when I was 7 or 8, my older
brother and I went over to a friend's house. This was the late '70s,
when the dumb stuff that America did was mostly done domestically.
One of those dumb things was wolf dogs -- not wolfhounds, wolf dogs:
half German Shepard, half frickin wolf. My friend's family had one.
My brother and I were in my friend's
room. We were playing a trivia game on a little robot that stored
the questions on 8-track tapes. You popped the 8-track into its robotic
belly, it asked a question, and you pressed button a, b, or c.
At this point, this may just seem
like a series of non-sequiturs, but it is a story. A story about a
dog. The wolf dog had been hunkered down in the corner of the room,
not answering any questions, but it got up and sort of trotted over
to me. A really quiet, bouncy trot. I went to pet it and it lightly
nipped me on the hand. Undeterred, I went to pet it again and it skulked
"Hit it!" my friend
said to me. "Go hit it as hard as you can."
"I'm not hitting a dog!"
"Hit it, I'm not kidding,"
he said, very seriously.
I didn't hit the dog and we kept
A little while later, the wolf
dog trotted back over and damned if it didn't nip me again. It nipped
me right on the arm, a little harder this time.
"Hit it!" said my friend,
"It's not that bad,"
I said. "And I'm not hitting a dog!" I liked dogs, you see.
At this point, my friend got
up and walked over to where the dog was in the corner of the room.
He made a fist and slammed it down whack-a-mole-style on the top of
the wolf dog's head. The li'l nipper was laid out flat, belly on the
floor, all four legs pointing in different directions.
"What did you do that for?"
said my brother, a little horrified. My brother had not been nipped,
but I had, and I was thinking the same thing.
My friend exhaled impatiently
and said, "He was testing you."
We gave him some come-again?
looks and he explained that the dog viewed the family as a pack. He
knew that he was in last place, low wolf on the totem pole. He didn't
know about my brother and I, though. In his conflicted, half-wolfy
brain, he thought maybe, just maybe, he was ahead of one or both of
us. Since I was the smallest, he started with me.
"If you don't show him you're
the boss, he'll try to kill you. Nip you a few times and then, if
you don't do anything, he'll go straight for your throat. Really,
it happened to some kid in California."
Now, that last bit may or may
not have been apocryphal, but it was pretty clear to me at that point
that wolf dogs made crappy pets.
And that is something interesting
about dogs: that they don't mix well with wolves.