The Play’s the Thing

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HeeHaw at the Intermediate School

I have done a little acting in my time. Small parts in some musical productions at school.

Rescuing the baby from the burning building

Rescuing the baby from the burning building

And in plays put on by the Boys of the Detention Center. Last year the boys wrote and produced a play about working dogs. They put a lot of work into that production and Walker and I had starring roles.

This year a different group of guys decided to do a play as well. They decided to write about military dogs. And of course Walker and I filled those parts! In preparation for doing this play, everyone had to learn about military dogs and what kinds of things they actually did. We got the boys a couple of great books about war dogs. Wow! Those dogs are some real super heroes!!! We all learned a lot!

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Dogs on Duty is by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent. Ms Patent is a pretty prolific writer of non-fiction books for kids. (We have another excellent book of hers titled The Right Dog For the Job). Dogs on Duty was published in 2012 by Walker Publishing. Walker Publishing. How about that? This is one incredible book! Unbelievable photos of military dogs in action. There is a history of dogs being used in wartime, from ancient days til today. In WWI dogs were used as messengers and as Red Cross dogs helping wounded soldiers. In WWII a civilian group called Dogs for Defense encouraged people to volunteer their family pets to the war effort. Over 9,000 dogs served, saving the lives of thousands of soldiers. Through the years, the role of dogs during war has expanded to being scouts and sentries and alert dogs sniffing out enemies and IEDs and hidden weapons.

The book tells us about the training that goes into making a military dog, the equipment that they wear, (which is a whole lot of stuff!), and what life is like in a war zone. There are lots and lots of pictures. In the back of the book is a glossary and lists of websites and books for further resources. A most excellent book!!!

Now, back to that play. The play was about a group of soldiers in Afghanistan trying to take a city. Walker once had a class in sniffing out scents so he got to be the bomb alert dog and sniffed out IEDs. I was the Red Cross dog taking medical supplies to the wounded. The boys researched the whole thing, wrote it out with script and scenes and the works, then acted. They did such a good job!!! They had to learn to work as a team – cooperation! They had to read and write – which some of them didn’t care to do. They had to learn to communicate with each other and with us dogs – how to get the best from someone.

I’m very proud of our boys!!

Here is a link to a very interesting article in the Smithsonian Magazine about the Education of a Bomb Dog

And a military dog’s story –

Bark!!

I don’t bark. Not usually anyway. I tend to sing alot. I have found that that translates into more treats than does barking. But lately my singer isn’t working quite right and it comes out as a bark. It’s embarrassing.

But this really has nothing to do with today’s post. Today’s post is about a BOOK.

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The book is titled BARK and the detention boys read it to us this evening. It was “stress reduction” evening for the boys. I think that this is the same thing as recess at school. Some of the boys took turns reading this book to us. Some of them brushed us. Some played dominoes or cards. It was a pleasant evening.

Anyway, back to the book! Bark is subtitled Selected Poems About Dogs. It was compiled and illustrated by Ferris Cook who has a very good eye for dogs. It was published by Little, Brown and Company in 2000.

The book contains 26 poems from all sorts of poets — Dorothy Parker, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, John Updike, Louise Gluck, Ogden Nash, William Wordsworth and some others that I am not familiar with. Like Marck Beggs. I like his name.

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Some are very short — like this one from Robert Frost —
The Span of Life
The old dog barks backward without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup.

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Or this one by Langston Hughes

Poor Rover
Rover was in clover
With a bone
On the front lawn —
But Rover’s fun was over
When his bone
Was gone.
Poor Rover!

Some of the poems are quite long. The poem by Marck Beggs is titled Kilty Sue and is a sort of long poem about an overprotective border collie.

The boys all liked the poems a lot. It’s kind of funny and cool to hear these “gangster” boys reading dog poems. I’m hoping maybe it will inspire them to write some.

And tomorrow we are heading back to West for a visit. I’m hoping we get to hang out in the library. We’ll see when we get there. I’m noticing on Facebook that a lot of dogs and cats are being reunited with their families! So there should be some happy kids in West.

I’ll keep you posted. Be sure and say your prayers today and remember the folks in West.

Play With Your Dog!!

Wednesdays are Detention Center nights! Joy,Joy! One of my favorite events! These are pretty special guys at this place. They’re learning all the right ways to take care of a dog and train us by being nice to us. I like that part. The being nice to us means lots of petting and brushing and treats! Usually we spend time playing games and doing training exercises. But tonight the boys made tug toys! Braided fleece tug toys!

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And it would be nice if all these toys were for me! But all of these toys will be going to one of our local animal shelters. When a dog is adopted it will get to go to its new home with a nice, soft, boingy tug toy. Isn’t that nice of these boys?!

Now we might not have gotten to bring the toys home with us, but we did get to try some of them out. We had to make sure they could pass the real dog test. More JOY!

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And of course all the toys passed!

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You do know that you should be playing with your dogs?! Playing with your dog is a JOYful activity! For you and your dog!

I’d like to share a couple of books with you that might get your creative playfulness jumping.

The 1st book is Play With Your Dog by Pat Miller. Published by Dogwise Publishing in 2008. Ms Miller is a renowned trainer who has written many books about training. In this book she talks about dogs and play. She believes that playing with your dog helps to build a strong relationship between the two of your. Play also helps to develop social skills and provides mental and physical exercise. Play With Your Dog has chapters on what play is to a dog, body language dogs use when playing, types of play — dog/dog play and human/dog play. Ms Miller talks about children playing with dogs and how NOT to play with a dog. There are quite a few references at the end. All in all, this is a very fine book!

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The 2nd book is See Spot Sit by one of the Mom Person’s favorite, favorite writers Carol Lea Benjamin. Published by Skyhorse Publishing in 2008. This is kind of a picture book dog training manual. The subtitle is 101 Illustrated Tips for Training the Dog You Love. Now doesn’t that sound fine?!  The chapters include — How to Have a Happy Dog, Good Manners Last a Lifetime, The ABCs of Dog Training, PLAY it Safe, and Good Times, Fun, and Games. The book is full of happy illustrations that make this a fun book to read for anyone.

So I think you should check these books out and go have some fun with your dog!!

And here are some links if you want to make your own tug toys!

How to Weave a Braided Tug Toy from HGTV
Michael Rosen
Richmondpetlovers.com

Relax!!

Today was about relaxing and de-stressing. Those detention boys sure need alot of that!  We put on some good Native American music with flutes and birds and the guys laid down on mats and the therapist was saying, ” Relax this muscle, relax that muscle, visualize your best place.”  I had that hand rubbing my head –You talk about relaxing!  I went fast asleep.

Do your dogs ever get stressed out? Like when you leave them all alone? Or they can’t find their favorite tennis ball? Or strangers come to visit? We have some music that my Mom Person plays for us that we all like alot. It’s called Through a Dog’s Ear.  My Mom Person got it because one of my housemates is really scared of thunder. He gets really upset. This music helps him feel a little better. And it puts me right to sleep.

What do you do for your dogs to help them chill out? I’d like to know what kinds of things bother other dogs. I hope you have happy dogs!

Check out Through a Dog’s Ear! And have a chillin’ day!