TANNER COMES THROUGH…TWICE!

We all know that dogs are man’s best friend but, the past few weeks, Tanner has been going above and beyond. On Saturday, August 3, he was the star of our hugely successful Barnes & Noble book signing in Thousand Oaks. He was friendly, sweet and so well-behaved, even when other dogs cruised by. People adored him and stopped to trade dog stories and to buy GIMME SHELTER

Then on Sunday, August 4, Tanner was back at it again, helping me serve as Grand Marshal and kicking off the fundraising walk at the American Cancer Society ‘Bark For Life’ event. Luckily it was overcast and cool, so he didn’t poop out on a very short stroll. As a reward for his PR efforts, Tanner got to scarf down some rare roast beef and to cuddle all night on the bed. By popular request, here’s the text of the welcome speech we gave.

Dealing with cancer is challenging on many levels.  It is stressful, it’s frightening but it can also empowering. One thing that helps us cope with the struggle is the support of our friends, our families, caring strangers and our dogs. Given that this Malibu’s first annual BARK FOR LIFE fundraising walk, I should say especially our dogs. As someone who has grappled with cancer and other serious issues, I’ve seen firsthand the difference a 4-legged therapist can make. That’s why I’m here today…to speak about how dogs help comfort and heal us when we need it most.

1) THEY ARE CHEAPER THAN DOCTORS AND THERAPISTS, MORE FUN AND ALWAYS ON CALL.– That’s why they make such great healers. We know they will be there for us no matter what. They don’t care if we have insurance, and for most of us, their ‘fee’ is some cuddles and a rawhide treat or two…or five.

2) DOGS DON’T JUDGE – Except when it comes squeaky toys, they don’t judge. They don’t care if you lose weight, gain weight, have more hair, less hair or no hair. They don’t care about our jobs, the cars we drive or  the clothes we wear.  To our dogs, we have no flaws. We’re perfect just the way we are. They love us because that’s what they do. Period. All they ask from us in return is a little exercise and affection. if only all of our two-legged pals were so easy and accommodating.

3) DOG ARE PLAYFUL – Regardless of what’s going on in the world or our bodies – if the stock market’s down, or Dwight Howard ditches us for Houston, or Congress is behaving like
unruly kindergartners, or we’re feeling like we’ve been run over by a cement truck – our dogs are always up for play. We can take a lesson from them and when things get stressful, or seem hopeless, we can go for a ride and stick our head out the car window, or go for a run, a walk or just sit on a bench in the sun. Your dog never looks at you and says ‘We really need to work more’.

4) DOGS ARE WISE! – They live in harmony with nature. They don’t care about social trends, how many Twitter followers or Facebook friends you have, how much your movie grossed, how many books you’ve sold.  They have no list of  ‘should’s. They sleep when they’re tired, eat when they’re hungry (except pugs and labs, who eat all the time), play when they need exercise. They don’t worry (well, maybe just a little around dinner time) and they never give advice. They don’t dwell on the past, or try to control the future. They are fully PRESENT. Every day, they get, up wag their tails and go about their lives, doing their very best, living in the moment, every moment. They have one message: be joyous, be present, and LET’S PLAY! or as Laura so aptly put it, let’s BARK FOR LIFE.”

Lou & Tanner with Bark for Life organizer Laura Leonard and her rescue dog Barkley.
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FIRE YOUR TRAINER, AND GET A DOG!

Following hard on the heals of our last posting, the L.A. Times ran a piece ‘Can Pets Lead Owners to Health? , echoing our claim that walking your dog can help improve both canine and human fitness. 

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In the blatant self-promotion category, this weekend will be a busy one for Tanner, Eugenie and me. On Saturday, August 3, from 11:30-12:30 we’ll be signing books at Barnes & Noble in Thousand Oaks, The Promenade, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91362, (805) 446-2820.

On Sunday, August 4, we’ll be serving as ‘Grand Marshals’ of Malibu’s first annual American Cancer Society ‘Bark For Life‘ fundraising walk. It will take place at Legacy Park in the Civic Center. Registration starts at 10:00 and the event will kick off at 11:00 with a speech from yours truly.

Lou, Eugenie and Tanner @ Legacy Park, Malibu


"DON’T BLAME THE DOGS…BLAME PEOPLE"

A few days ago 29-year-old Alex Jackson was arrested and charged with murder in the death of Pamela Devitt, 63, the Lancaster, CA woman who was fatally mauled by a pack of Jackson’s dogs with a history of previous attacks. Despite his wife death, Devitt’s husband, didn’t blame the dogs involved, or demonize the breed. Her husband told KCAL-TV he blamed the dogs’ owner for what happened. “I do not blame the dogs. I don’t blame pit bulls,” Ben Devitt said. “I blame people who don’t take responsibility for their animals.” For more details, check out the Huffington Post report.

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When I wrote about our last book signing at Bank of Books a few weeks back, I forgot to thank some of the friends who stopped by to show an share some love. Since it’s better late than never, a big ‘Thanks’ to – David & Terry, Annette & Jasmine, Carl, Robert, Zari, Margaret & Ryan, Karen, Gary & Eleanor, Jake and Melissa. Eugenie, Tanner I I really appreciate your support. 

Dexter & Tanner: Pitbulls are inherently dangerous. Really?
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If you are looking to keep your dog healthy, happy and under control, consider dispensing with that retractable lead and using something that offers more control and safety. In an article in Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan’s online newsletter, Jon Bastian writes:There are three big issues with retractable leads, the first of which is safety. Since they can effectively allow your dog to run for twenty or more feet before the end of the line, they allow your dog to build up a lot of speed. Remember “force equals mass times acceleration” from high school physics? Well, give even a small dog a twenty foot head start, and they can build up enough speed to pull you off your feet, break the lead, or yank the handle right out of your hand. That last situation can be particularly disastrous, since the handle will then retract on the lead, and the sound and motion of that big hunk of plastic suddenly whizzing up from behind can make your dog think something is chasing it, inspiring it to run faster and farther. 
There’s also that twenty feet of line between you and your dog, which can be nearly invisible under the right circumstances. Your dog can get tangled in it, or tangle you or another person in it. Even the website for a prominent manufacturer of retractable leads warns of multiple possible injuries, including cuts or burns from the line, falls, eye and facial injuries, and even broken bones or loss of fingers. You wouldn’t let your dog run free in the middle of the street, but very long leads can allow exactly this to happen. Dogs on retractable leads can and have run into traffic and been killed by cars. Beyond safety issues, retractable leads just teach your dog the wrong thing: That pulling on the lead will get them what they want — in this case, the freedom to run all over the place. When they stop pulling, the lead pulls back, so the desire to pull and run away is constantly reinforced. Finally, retractable leads may be illegal in your area. For example, the leash law in the city of Los Angeles reads, “Every person owning or having charge, care, custody or control of any dog shall keep such dog exclusively upon his own premises provided, however, that such dog may be off such premises if it be under the control of a competent person and restrained by a substantial chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length [emphasis added].” The same is true for leash laws in Los Angeles County, and may be similar in your jurisdiction. Aside from endangering a dog’s safety, many users of retractable leads may not even know that they’re breaking the law.                                                                    

RACING (raging?) IN THE RAIN

This past Monday, Eugenie and I had the honor of attending a book signing and Q & A by Garth Stein, author of the wildly popular “The Art of Racing In The Rain“.  – Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.”

Stein’s appearance marked the first in the initial season of the Malibu Library’s ‘author events’ and it was terrific. He read from his wonderful novel, told personal anecdotes related to the creation and publication of the book including how his then-agent told him that no one would ever read a book narrated by a dog and that no one would ever be able to sell or publish it. He didn’t gloat but then again he didn’t have to, since the book has garnered all sorts of praise, spent 150+weeks on the ‘best seller’ list, earned a gazillion dollars and is now being made into a major film by Universal Studios. He was charming, funny, serious, insightful – in short, it was the author as performance artist par excellence.  With my first two author ‘events’ fast approaching (details to follow shortly), this newbie was taking serious notes. I couldn’t help thinking that, unlike Garth’s racer hero, Denny, my issue is raging in the rain, the sun, the snow, the fog or just about any condition you can think of. If you’re wondering what I’m rambling about, you need to get a copy of GIMME SHELTER.  And while you’re buying books, if you’ve never read Stein’s gem, get it. And you tough guys, be sure to buy a box of Kleenex, too, because you’ll need it. 

Garth Stein signs ‘Racing’ for Lou and pal Robby Mazza, foreground