Sensei Mel Pralgo and dad

As some of you know, riding in the car used to be rough (ruff?) on me. Now that I’ve conquered my auto-neurotic phobia, I get to go to interesting events, like the other night when I went with mom to the Traditional Karate Institute (Thousand Oaks, CA) to see dad get his Godan or 5th degree black belt in Okinawan GoJu karate, the “Wax on, wax off” fighting art featured in the original Karate Kid movies. Dad’s been practicing karate for almost 40 years now, ever since his college days when he needed an activity to replace basketball. Here’s how he explains it in the revised GIMME SHELTERCollege hoops proved unlikely (a triple threat: I was a short, white, and a poor ball handler), and so I quit organized ball to focus on my studies. I was playing h-o-r-s-e in the gym one afternoon when a fellow student invited me to join the Karate Club. Given my quick temper and pugnacious attitude, you would think that I’d jumped at the chance.With Bruce Lee’s Fists of Fury some two years off, the U.S. martial arts boom was still cresting. While cosmopolitan centers like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco already had judo, jujitsu, karate, and tai chi, in blue-collar burgs like Elizabeth, New Jersey, the Asian fighting arts were practically unheard of…Having finished with round ball, though, my volcanic energy still needed a new outlet. That first evening at Karate Club, I knelt in front of Sensei Gotay, a sixth-degree black belt and decorated New York City police officer with a background in boxing and judo. He paired me with a senior student who patiently showed me how to properly knot my pristine white belt. Mission accomplished, he had me squat down into a “horse stance.” Then he demonstrated the basic blocks and punches. By the end of class, my legs were jelly, but I was hooked, enthralled with the focus and discipline that the art demanded.” 

Dad (3rd from right, pimp mustache) with Sensei Al Gotay and the Iona College Karate Club 1970

Speaking of that awesome book about the bond between man and dog, we’re pleased to announce that East River Academythe school at NYC’s Riker’s Island, has purchased copies of Gimme Shelter for students in their dog training program. Last year, L.A. County bought copies for their juvenile camp school libraries so the book is now reaching troubled kids on both coasts. Thanks to ERA’s principal. Tonya Threadgill, for putting us in the mix, and to Mary Runyan for helping us navigate the NYC school vendor process. 

with dad at the dojo

We always look forward to Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan’s newsletters which contain helpful advice on dog behavioral issues. In the November 15 issue, he talks about dog aggression and how the desire to fight or kill is something that man instills in his canine companions. However, when it comes to red zone dogs, they are made, not born — and they are made by humans. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years, at least as far back as Roman war dogs if not earlier. These dogs were formidable because they were bred to be that way, and this is how and why mastiffs were originally created. They came into battle with their humans and were unleashed to be killing machines. As I said, though, even if dogs are bred to have the physical capabilities for waging war, they do not naturally have the instinctual tendency. That must be created in them and, unfortunately, humans are still doing this to dogs that will never see a battlefield.”

Hanging with mom, dad and uncle Danny Ducovny at Canvas, Malibu art party 11-21-15

 Another fabulous source for upbeat stories on man’s best friend is The Week magazine. A few months back, the chronicled how a stray dog in Dallas saved a mother dog and her abandoned  litter of 10 puppies. When a rescue volunteer showed up, the pooch, now named Hero, led her into the woods to mom and her babies. 


If you think we dogs (and our kitty cousins)  don’t have clout, think again. According the American Pet Products Association, Americans will spend $60 billion – yes, you read that correctly – on their pets this year, with $30+billion going to gourmet pet food. 


Finally, here’s a craigslist post that shows what happens when you force a man to choose between his dog and a woman.

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