On December 9, 2007 I promised to blog about Uncle Scary’s dogs. And then I didn’t. Until now. : )

I will start with Castro because Castro was my brother’s first dog and the first border collie (mix?) in our family. Castro is about 7 now. My brother got him from the Humane Society when he was just a tiny thing--a biting, whirling dervish of a puppy.

I don’t have any pictures of Castro’s youngest months, but by all reports he was adorable and a complete terror. I first met him when he was between six months and a year…

He's such a handsome boy and so very intense.

These are the best pictures I’ve ever gotten of Castro, because sometime between this meeting and the next, Castro learned to HATE CAMERAS. Now, I can get a picture of Castro only after I talk to him a bit about it and show Castro that my camera does not have a flash. (Yes, Castro is that smart. His vocabulary is much bigger than any other dog I know. Don’t act like Castro doesn’t know what you are talking about, big mistake.)

This is what you get if you try to snap a photograph of Castro. He will foil your plan and then tell you off.

He’s hiding his face, moving his paw in a motion that pretty clearly means ‘put it down’ and he’s yowling at me. He’s a well-named dog, the dictator.

Anyway, with effort, I can get Castro to hold still and look at the camera for a shot or two. His tolerance is low, so I don’t get a chance to fiddle much with the camera to get the effect I’m after; I also can’t move around much or Castro will move away. Basically, Castro doesn’t really want his portrait taken and will only appease me for 5 seconds once a week when it comes to the camera. So, I get snapshot quality stuff only. See...

....okay, so this photo doesn't totally suck, but Buzz would have let me clear out all that stuff in the background or move him to a more scenic place; Buzz would also let me pull his front paws out to produce some less walrussy shots. But, Buzz is full of fuzz and Castro is...not.

Castro, as an adult, is pretty much the raddest tyrant around. He's very calm and contained and totally the boss of you. And you. And you. And your little dog, too.

The coolest thing about Castro is how entirely devoted he is to Uncle Scary.

Look at that face!!!! And no, Scary does not have a cookie, Scary IS THE COOKIE. It's like this all the time with these guys.

All this love for Scary combined with Castro's smarts and dictatorial tendencies lead to some really funny stuff. Like, while we were at the farm, Scary was doing a lot of fishing. Castro curled up in the long grasses just behind Scary and kept him company. When Scary reeled in a fish, Castro would come over to supervise the unhooking of fish (game fish are released back into the river, the carp are killed).

Now, here’s the quintessentially Castro part of it all: if Scary reels in a line and there is no fish on it, Castro complains to him about it. The noise is not quite a whine and not quite a growl, sort of a low rumbling of dissatisfaction, like “what do you think you are doing? You are supposed to catch fish with those lines. Get it right!”

Yeah, Castro is the coolest.

As for Castro and Buzz, they get along just fine so long as Buzz behaves.

However, when Buzz is rude or careless, Castro gets really fed up with him. And, here’s another quintessentially Castro bit, when Buzz is bad Castro holds it against me. Castro glares at me when Buzz is being a pest. He freakin' knows who to blame!

Smartest. Dog. Ever.

I love him.

Don't buy a dog!

...adopt one!

This Saturday is Puppy Mill awareness day. Buzz is getting to an age where he understands that not every human is nice and not every dog has a good life. He heard about this Puppy Mill Awareness day and had some questions for me.

Buzz: What’s a puppy mill?

Lady: A puppy mill is the kind of place that makes you very sad to know about. Are you sure you want to know about it?

Buzz: Puh-leeeez, Lady! I am so grown up. I can totally and fully handle it.

Lady: Puppy mills are businesses where people breed dogs. The produce lots and lots of puppies every year.

Buzz: That sounds nice! I like puppies!

Lady: But Buzz, remember that there are too many dogs in this country. There are so many dogs being born every year that over nine million of them have to be killed because there is nowhere for them to live.

Buzz: Nine million? I don’t know how many that is.

Lady: How many do you know?

Buzz: I know how many 100 is. That is how many toys I have.

Lady: Well, Buzzy, imagine if each of your toys was a dog. Now imagine that not only do we have 100 dogs in our house that need to be killed because we don’t have room for them or food to feed them, but also picture that there are 100 extra dogs at Billy’s house. And Milly’s house. And at every house in our city. That would be 9,000,000 dogs.

Buzz: Whoa. Do they deserve it?

Lady: No, Buzz. Those dogs are very nice dogs. Most of them are even better behaved than you.

Buzz: I’m perfect.

Lady: You chase cars. And try to take down joggers. And snap at bicyclists.

Buzz: I would like to revise my earlier statement. I’m mostly perfect.

Lady: You bring up an interesting point, though, Buzz. Lots of people think that the dogs that end up in shelters are there because they are bad dogs. Remember when you were a puppy and so many people were surprised that such a happy, beautiful little boy came from a shelter?

Buzz: Yes! Are those people stupid or something?

Lady: No, Buzzy, they aren’t stupid, they just don’t know any better. Remember when you didn’t really know you had a tail and were always sweeping things off of the coffee table with it?

Buzz: I broke a glass! It was loud!

Lady: Yes, you did! You did something bad because you didn’t know enough to do better.

Buzz: How come the people don’t learn? Can’t hear the stuff they are breaking?

Lady: Because, sweetie, for most people, the consequences of their actions are invisible. Those people just carry on buying dogs and breeding dogs because that’s what they saw their parents do. The glasses are breaking in shelters that they never go to visit. They are unaware.

Buzz: Oh. Can you tell them? Tell them that we need to have a lot less puppies and then we won’t have to kill doggies anymore.

Lady: Okay, Buzz. I will tell them.

Buzz: Are puppy mills the only places that puppies come from?

Lady: No, but they are the worst place to get puppies from because they keep their dogs in horrible conditions. And they have lots and lots of sick and sad dogs.

Buzz: Why?

Lady: Because they don’t think of the dogs as lovely little beings with minds of their own and feelings of their own. They just see them as a way to make money and so they do things as cheaply as possible. They live in very small spaces. They don’t go to the vet when they are sick. They don’t eat nice food, or go for walks, or have little chats on the futon.

Buzz: That’s too sad to even think about.

Lady: But we must be brave and think about it anyway and try to convince people to adopt dogs and not buy them.

Buzz: And then they will be helping doggies instead of hurting them!

Lady: That’s right!

Buzz: Thanks for telling me about this, Lady. Let’s be crazy now!

= = = = = = = = = =
To learn more about puppy mills, check out the following website:
Puppy Mill Awareness

And try to catch Oprah's episode on puppy mills (parts of which are on Oprah's website)

As always, I would recommend if you are searching for an animal companion! I found Buzz at a shelter by doing a search on petfinder.

It has been raining all day...

but Buzz and I don't mind. We will both happily walk in the rain. Plus, we've got plenty of inside activities to enjoy: I've got yards and yards of new fabric to play with (there are two great fabric shops near my aunt and uncle in Wisconsin).

Buzz had some TV shows to catch up on (he loves America's Next Top Model).

Plus, the dirt expanse we refer to as "the yard" has been looking might dry and dusty lately...

I have learned, however, that the rain is unlikely to solve this problem. I asked my neighbor if she had any suggestions about my dirtscape (she has the most luscious garden just 2 feet from this mess) and she told me that she had replaced all of the soil in her garden because what we have is far too high in clay content. Somehow I doubt my landlord wants to tear up the yard anytime soon.

Oh well, back to the sewing machine!

The Farm

There is a most beautiful piece of land that my family has owned for several decades. It has a river running through it. It is full of trees and grasses and deer and sunshine. We all refer to it as "the farm" even though the part of the property that is a working dairy farm is no longer owned by my grandmother.

Last weekend, Buzz and I drove to Wisconsin and went camping on the farm with my brothers and our cousins.

Buzz was miserable the entire time.

He could not pursue any of his favorite activities like running in the woods...

or wading in the river...

what's more, there was no one for him to play with...

[Some of you will recognize that guy as my baby brother, AKA Uncle Scary. He's holding his dogs Sophie (the hound) and Castro (the border collie mix). If you look closely, you'll see Sophie in the picture of Buzz in the woods and Castro's tail in the picture of Buzz in the river.]

Going to the farm was torture for Buzz, he rolled around in agony the entire time.

The poor thing. : )

In other news, when I got into this...

...we discovered a couple of things: (1) Buzz can, in fact, do more than wade. He can swim. (2) Buzz will swim after me if I get in the canoe and paddle upstream. (3) Buzz will not ride in a canoe. (4) It's probably easiest if I just don't canoe when the dog is around. (5) My brothers don't think it is funny when I recount the tale of Buzz's swim by singing Carole King's "Where You Lead, I Will Follow" and doing an interpretive dance.

Celebrate in style

Buzz honored Labor Day by wearing one of my Labor Union's t-shirts.

(check out that pose...oh la la!)

Buzz celebrated Labor Day by wresting with Billy.

Aren't they funny?
Billy is an adorable lab mix that lives around the corner from us.
Look at his lovely face!

Such good buddies.

Hope you all had a wonderful day!