Dogs at Hampstead Heath

Hampstead
Dog heaven, am I right?

This past weekend, we walked for about 12 miles in and around Hampstead and particularly enjoyed Hampstead Heath.

Hampstead HeathI was, naturally, fixated on observing all of the dogs, who get to run around the gigantic park off leash. Hampstead Heath is like an enormous, boundary-less dog park, and the dogs all appeared to be in heaven. And per usual here in London, they were all behaving beautifully. I didn’t see a single fight or tussle. Many of the dogs ignored each other, and if they did stop to greet each other, it was very brief and polite.

HampsteadQuick phone photos of a small fraction of all of the dogs we saw:

Dogs at Hampstead HeathHampsteadHampsteadHampsteadHampsteadDogs at Hampstead Heath(*The only anxious dog I saw was a German shepherd puppy. Go figure. We asked to pet her, and she was a fluffy bundle of nerves, about 12 weeks old. She was crying because she couldn’t bite the wheels of a child’s tricycle. Her back hocks were horribly misshapen and she had no strength at all in her back end. I hate seeing that. I really do.)

Hampstead HeathMore than anything, this park made me wish our girls could have been raised in London. I daresay they would have been so much more well-adjusted in public, if they had had regular access to such immense and beautiful off-leash places. Definitely something to keep working on once we come home in August.

Visiting this park inspired me to visit more of the parks in our area back home. We don’t have an off-leash space quite to this degree of magnificence, but we do have some safe trails to practice recall. I am inspired!

Do you have an off-leash area near where you live?

We can trust animals to be themselves

Sylvie Vartan with Molière
Sylvie Vartan with Molière the spaniel.

“We can trust animals to be themselves, and because of that, in some ineffable way they help connect us to a better part of ourselves, to the more authentic self we long to be. In their inability to be anything but genuine, animals remind us of the ways in which we are imperfect and the ways in which we can be a little kinder, a little more generous, a little braver.”

— Tai Moses, Zooburbia

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I recently finished this pretty little book, a series of short essays about the author’s observations of animals (mostly wildlife, but a few cats and dogs thrown in there for good measure). I liked this sentiment, particularly, about the emotional example animals can set for us.

Wishing you a very happy Friday and a peaceful weekend.

A dog represents the play side

You’ll call this sentimental—perhaps—but then a dog somehow represents the private side of life, the play side.Virginia Woolf (above with Pinka)
Woolf with Pinka.

“This you’ll call sentimental — perhaps — but then a dog somehow represents — no, I can’t think of the word — the private side of life — the play side.”

— Virginia Woolf

How I love my Woolf, always hedging, always qualifying, but almost always accurate. She certainly loved her spaniels, and she wrote a really perceptive and charming novella from the perspective of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s spaniel Flush. Highly recommended to literary dog lovers.

Hope you have playful weekends ahead!

Meet Georgia, Pyrrha’s new aunt!

It is with great delight that I introduce you to Pyrrha’s new “aunt,” Georgia!

Georgia on the porch

My husband’s parents just adopted this precious puppy, their first official “foster failure.” My in-laws are generous, loving advocates of their local lab rescue and they have served as a foster home for labs in need for about a year now.

Georgia

Just about a week ago, however, little miss Georgia came tumbling into their lives and they just couldn’t say no. I mean, could you?? Look at that face!

Sweet baby Georgia

From these photos, I’d guess that Georgia was some kind of golden retriever/spaniel mix. She’s only 7 weeks old right now. What would you guess her lineage is?

We hope to take a trip to see them and meet Georgia very soon. Welcome to the family, little girl. You are one lucky pup!

Pup links!

Actress Donna Drake and her cocker spaniel. Source: LIFE Magazine Archives.

Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

The Furry Ties That Bind. A beautiful post that reflects on what it is that makes us dog people, tracing the deep connection that children often feel with dogs. (City Dog/Country Dog)

You Don’t Have To… This post by trainer Tena is a great reminder that there are multiple alternatives to any given technique or method. It’s relieving to read. I’ve had lots of people tell me that I HAVE to use a prong/choke collar if I get a German shepherd, that I have to use physical punishments, etc. As Tena would say, “You don’t have to.” There are other alternatives. Don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy when it comes to training your dog. (Success Just Clicks)

Hierarchy: These Are a Few of Her Favorite Things. A ranked list of Elli’s favorite toys! This was fun to read, and a nice place to start for good ideas among the overwhelming cornucopia of dog toys. (Identity: V+E)

Conflicting Gestures of Affection. Why declaring a “National Hug Your Dog Day” might not be the best idea. (The Bark blog)

DIY: Liver and Potato Grain-Free Dog Treats. This sounds like a (fairly) easy recipe to make homemade treats. (The Hydrant)

AKC’s Top 11 Dog Breeds by City. This is an interesting report: Do certain cities prefer different breeds? It seems so! What breeds do you think are most popular in your city? And what does that say about your city? I think Charlottesville probably has a higher proportion of setters and spaniels than most cities; they seem to complement the landed gentry image that is somewhat prevalent around here. Here’s the more complete 2011 AKC breed report by city. (Woof Report)

Run, Doggy, Run. Laura Benn shares some great pointers on how to prepare yourself and your dog to run together. (iRun)

Pup links!

Actor Frederic March and his cocker spaniel in the rain. Source: LIFE Magazine Archives.

And now for some dog-related links:

The Dogs of “Mad Men.” OK, Dogster made another great list, assigning breeds to characters from AMC’s original series “Mad Men.” I think they’re spot-on, and the descriptions are priceless. Roger Sterling is totally a weimaraner and, weirdly enough, I can actually see Joan as an Aussie. (Dogster)

On Expensive Medical Treatments for Your Pet. Preach it! I think this is all that needs to be said on this prevailing and backwards mentality: “No one has ever noticed that a friend has a really nice new couch, and said: ‘well, gosh, I’d feel terrible buying such a nice couch, considering how many mosquito nets the Gates Foundation could have given out in the developing world with that kind of money.’ Ever. But people WILL say that to you for choosing to spend your own money to save a living creature that really matters to you.” (Lazy Self-Indulgent Book Reviews)

A Collection of German Shepherd Champions Over Time. This actually makes me kind of sad. Look how beautiful and strong the GSDs from the early 1900s looked. Today? They look like weirdly deformed half-dogs. It’s almost like a flip-book to deformity as you scroll upward quickly. Sigh. (Les Anges Gardiens)

Are Your Pet Adoption Listings Hurting Pets? An exhortation not to try to rope in potential adopters with sob stories; be honest about the dog’s strengths and weaknesses and you’ll give everyone a fair hand, including–or especially–the dog. (Dogged)

Woman’s Best Friend. As mentioned last weekend, this is my new pin board, featuring photographs and artwork of women and their dogs. Crazy dog ladies, enjoy! (Pinterest)

Pup links!

A lady and her English cocker spaniel. Source: LIFE magazine archives.

Dog-related links from around the Web:

If the Characters in Downton Abbey Were Portrayed by Canine Actors… A friend shared this on my Facebook wall, and I just had to share it here, too. If you watch the period soap opera Downton Abbey, you will appreciate these comparisons. I think they’re pretty spot-on. Matthew is totally a golden retriever and Mary makes a lot of sense as a poodle. And, poor Edith! The Bedlington terrier! (Dogster)

How to Properly Care for Your Dog’s Teeth. Canine dental hygiene is usually pretty terrible, and, from my experience, it’s an easy thing to forget to take care of–and not exactly fun when you do. This is a thorough article, however, that reminds us all of why it’s very important to care for our dog’s pearly whites. (The Whole Dog Journal)

Investigating Halitosis. Related to doggy dental care, here’s a veterinarian’s list of possible causes of your dog’s terrible breath. (The Bark blog)

Where’s the Beef? Subtitle: “Why your dog should never eat another Milk Bone or Beggin Strip, and you should avoid the Slim Jims.” You won’t ever want to buy those products again after you read this article by Amy Renz. (Goodness Gracious Treats)

Identifying Merle. I grew up with a beautiful tricolor merle Australian shepherd and I’ve always had a fondness for merle coats, especially when they come from conscientious breeders. But I learned a ton from this post and learned that I’ve been incorrectly identifying some dogs as “merle” that really aren’t. Fascinating stuff. (Musings of a Biologist and a Dog Lover)

House Rules and Time-Outs. Aleksandra shares her wisdom about how they use “time-outs” to teach their newly adopted pitt, The Dude, some house manners. Great, gentle, and effective advice. (Love and a Six-Foot Leash)

Binq Design. If I was in the market for a tiny dog, and had a lot of cash to spare, I think I’d definitely consider these functional and attractive side tables + dog beds. They look like they’d be a nice place for a toy breed to hide out during family commotion. (Dog Milk)

Bambino vs. Fido: On Loving Dogs Less. Shauna, a pregnant blogger, reflects on how her relationship with her dogs will change–and stay the same–when she welcomes her baby into the world. I found this post very reassuring. As someone who hasn’t had kids yet but plans to one day, I confess I’m frankly terrified of the idea of emotionally displacing my future dogs. But, as she points out in this post, you don’t displace your dogs in your heart; you just make room. (Fido & Wino)

BFFs. Greyhounds snuggling on the couch. So cute. (Hiking Hounds)

Religious Dog Bumper Stickers. OK, pretend bumper stickers, but these still made me giggle. My favorite: “I’m Catholic but my corgi is affiliated with the Church of England.” (Dogs of the Interwebs)

Dog Refuses to Go Into Pool to Get Tennis Ball He Desperately Needs. In need of a laugh on this fine Tuesday? Look no further than this very, very determined golden retriever and his quest for one slightly out-of-reach tennis ball. (Best Week Ever)