DO JEALOUS PIT BULLS DREAM OF ELECTRIC CATS?…HONORING A ‘JERSEY BOY’

I sometimes overhear Lou & Eugenie saying that I was running in my sleep and having another ‘doggie dream’. Until recently, the idea of canine dreams was largely dismissed as another case of humans anthropomorphizing their pets. New research, however,  suggests that we may, indeed, be doing just that. In a recent Parade Magazine article, Your PetExlained: The Truth About Cats & Dogs, veterinarian Melissa Bain, associate professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, says that “we don’t know…but we think they dream.” That’s because their brain-wave patterns resemble those seen in people. “Dogs go through sleep cycles very similar to humans’, with periods of deep sleep and periods of rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep,” says Stephen Zawistowski, Ph.D., an applied animal behaviorist and science adviser to the American Society for the Prevention of ­Cruelty to Animals. “Dreaming happens during REM sleep, which is also when dogs twitch their legs, move their lips, or vocalize.” ­Wonder when your own dog might be dreaming? As a dog starts to doze, and his sleep becomes ­deeper, his breathing will become more regular, says canine ­behavior ­expert Stanley Coren in his book How Dogs Think. “After a period of about 20 minutes,” Coren writes, “his first dream should start.” (read the entire article).

Tanner and his newest ‘baby’ (Thank You, Aunt Robby)

Not only do we dream like our two-legged partners, it seems we get jealous like them, too. As reported by CNN online, “a study by scholars at the University of California, San Diego found that dogs showed jealous behaviors when their owners displayed affection toward an animatronic stuffed dog that barked, whined and wagged its tail. The dogs snapped at and pushed against the stuffed dog and tried to get between it and the human. This may come as no surprise to any owner of multiple pooches who has seen them jostle for space on someone’s lap.”

Joe Long, far right

Thanks to the billion dollar stage hit and recent movie, JERSEY BOYS, millions of younger Americans now know the music, and tumultuous story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, a quartet of street smart ‘goombahs’ who mixed music with the Mob. Well, it turns out that Lou has a personal connection to one of the Seasons, #5, Joe Long (photo, far right). Joe was born Joe LaBracio, in Elizabeth, NJ. His mom and dad, Mary and Joe, lived on High Street, a scant half-block from Spirito’s Restaurant, the landmark eatery founded 80+ years ago by Lou’s grandfather. They were such close friends that Lou’s mom and dad chose Mary & Joe to be Lou’s godparents, a big deal for Italians. When the Seasons tabbed Joey, a talented, classically trained bass player, to replace the disgruntled Nick Massi, Joey became an instant hero in  the city’s Italian Peterstown neighborhood. Fifty years later, Joe’s hometown has decided to honor him by renaming High Street Joe Long Way. It couldn’t happen to a nicer, humbler or more deserving guy. (listen to the interview).

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OF DOGS AND MEN

I don’t know how much longer Lou will let me keep posting so I thought I’d write about how we dogs usually avoid politics and stick to helping our 2-legged friends, no matter what their leanings.  Except when it comes to BSL, dog fighting and tainted treats, you’ll never catch us growling over partisan issues. That said, I wanted to mention the anniversary of 911 and what local students are doing to honor the memory of the people who died that day. For the past several years, students at nearby Pepperdine University (the water polo or volleyball players ?) have placed nearly 3,000 flags, from the victims’ respective nations, on the sweeping great lawn in memory of the dead. Lou and Eugenie took me there, and strolling through the impressive display flapping banners was a moving event. Lou said it reminded him of the simple crosses they place at Veteran’s cemeteries but I’ve never been so I’ll take his word for it. It will be up several more days so if you’re a local or passing by, be sure to stop and take it in.

Tanner, American Staffordshire Terrier on the Pepperdine University 9-11 Lawn

On a sunnier but related note, check out this video of a faithful pup being reunited with his soldier ‘dad’ who has just returned from a 6-month absence in combat. If this doesn’t make you smile, go see the undertaker, cause you just might be dead.

How many people would do this for a friend?
OM! Tanner and Eugenie getting mellow @ The Sacred Space, Summerland, CA

Lou with Tanner and his pal, Magnus, aka Mag-A-Noos @ Trancas Dogpark

GIMME SHELTER – Available on Amazon.com

Tanner and I had planned on adding a ‘New Year’s’ post but thanks to my friend and neighbor, Kathryn Galan (Luna’s ‘mom’), we spent the first two weeks of 2013 formatting and publishing GIMME SHELTER for the Kindle store on Amazon.com, where it is now available for all Kindle devices, iPad, iPhone and Mac and PC computers. We are very, very, very jazzed and eternally grateful to Kathryn for making this happen. To order GIMME SHELTER now, just click the “10%” link below the cover photo.

10% of the profits from this book will be donated to animal rescue causes

We’ll detail the publishing process as soon as we recover but, for now, here’s all you need to know to get the book.  First, if you don’t have one (hard to imagine since it seems like we shop there daily) create an Amazon account. Then go to Amazon’s Kindle store or just type in GIMME SHELTER or my name, Louis Spirito, and you’ll be directed to the book.

If you don’t have a Kindle or iPad/iPhone, you can download a free Kindle program and read it on your laptop or desktop computer, like I did.  To get the program, click either Mac or PC and you will be taken Amazon, where they will tell you how to download the program.  Installation is very easy.


Tanner, Eugenie and I would like to thank all of our family and friends for the ongoing support, and we look forward to having GIMME SHELTER spread the word that rescue dogs, and Pit Bulls in particular, can make wonderful, loving companions.

FLORENCE NIGHTINGBULL

After a bizarrely hot summer, things were just getting back to normal in our house when Tanner, and his 2-legged daddy, were thrown another curve.  Back in August I had undergone outpatient surgery.  The procedure was minor but the bill, as anyone who’s been there knows, wasn’t quite so trivial.  Having covered my insurance deductible, I decided to see a specialist about my achy left hip.  I knew there was some wear and tear (thirty years of marital arts will do that) but I was stunned to learn that the cartilage was gone, leaving me with bone on bone.  Since the condition and pain would only worsen, Eugenie and I decided I should have it fixed asap.

On October 4th, we drove to St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, where Dr. Andrew Yun and his team worked their magic performing a minimally invasive surgery that left me with a matched set of bionic joints (the right hip was replaced in 2006).  A mere thirty hours later, I was back home in bed.  While I could stand, shuffle a bit and even climb our four flights of stairs, albeit with great difficulty and some pain, walking Tanner was out of the question, and so Eugenie stepped into the breach.

First thing each morning, she got me out of bed, tugged on my TED socks and shoes, and got me moving.  Then hit the road with Tanner, who was sorely miffed that she didn’t know, or didn’t care about our routine, which included a long stroll on the grounds of the church next door. Back at the house, Eugenie focussed on getting us fed and making sure I did my walking and PT, leaving no time for morning ‘play’.  Tanner was forlorn and confused.  “Why was dad acting so strangely, and why was he neglecting me?  And what was he doing walking with that scary black stick?”

At first, the painkillers made me queasy and just eating breakfast left me exhausted.  About the only thing I could manage was lying in bed, blowing through the detective novels (Daniel Silva’s ‘Rembrandt Affair’, Michael Connelly’s ‘Echo Park’) I had stacked up like planes at LAX.  Tanner seemed perplexed to see me horizontal (It’s rare I even nap) but that didn’t deter him.  If dad couldn’t or wouldn’t fuss with him, he would fuss with dad.  Ignoring a mound of pillows, and the cords from the portable ice machine, he popped up onto the bed and nestled up against my ailing left leg.

The patient, with ‘Florence Nightinbull’

It went on that way for a week, until I finally recaptured my chi and abandoned the bed for the upstairs recliner.  Once I quit our Tempurpedic, Tanner returned to his own bed where he could keep a watchful I on me.  When I made a run to the kitchen for ginger ale or Gatorade, he shadowed me. If I mummy-stepped my way upstairs to the bathroom, he tagged along and flopped down on the rug until I made the trek back down.  When I joined Eugenie and him on the afternoon walk, he slowed his pace out of respect for his gimpy owner.  Around the 2-week mark, I finally shed my cane and a few days later I took the reins for our morning walk, as if nothing unusual had taken place.  Tanner’s brief nursing career was over.

Although he’s quit nursing for the time being, Tanner stills wants to be of service to his fellow creatures, both the 2-legged and 4-legged sort.  That’s why he said to mention our dear friend, M.C. Callahan, a terrific ballroom dance instructor, who generously devotes her free hours to two animal charities in the Coachella Valley where she lives.  Healing Horses in Indio, CA offers equine therapy to improve the lives of special needs children.  Located in Desert Hot Springs, Save-A-Pet offers food and shelter to dogs in need.  It’s an outdoor facility so, with the cool desert winters nights coming, they need donations of old towels, sheets, and blankets.  So clean out those closets and put your old and unused items to a good use.

MEET ‘TANNER’

 

My name is Tanner, and I’m a Pit Bull.  I was what they call a stray, a homeless dog, or, as I like to think of it, a free spirit, living with other dogs on the street.  


I had an owner once, but that was a rough situation.  Let’s just say I was better off  going hungry and sleeping outside in the cold and rain.  Then one day, some lady lured me into her car, and took me to the shelter in Agoura Hills.  The food was better, my bed was warm, and there were lots of other dogs, including dozens of Pit Bulls, but I was no longer free to roam about as I pleased.   I was in doggie jail.


Unlike street dogs, the jail dogs were anxious and scared all the time.  Like me, some of them once had owners who’d either died, or moved, or sent them away.  The lucky ones got new owners.  But the other ones, the shelter people took them to a place where they went to sleep.  Those dogs never came back.  The people who fed and walked me said I’d probably go to sleep, too.  But then this man and woman brought me to live with them.  


I’d tell you all about it, but my paws aren’t suited for typing, so I’ll let Lou (that’s the man’s name), help me.  We’ll discuss our friends (two and four-legged), my toys, the dog park, the cute tricks I’ve learned and other details of our life together.  If he gets off track (he’s a writer and really likes to talk) I’ll step in to set the record straight.  


Along the way, you’ll also hear about our first year together – how my people found me, how I helped Lou deal with his ‘issues’, and how he and Eugenie helped me overcome mine.  It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t always pretty but things worked out just fine.  We’ve written a book about it, GIMME SHELTER. If you want the full scoop, you’ll just have to wait until it’s published.  Until then, drop by from time to time and we’ll keep you posted on what’s new with us.