Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Am I A Plate?

Dear Mom,

I saw a note taped to the front door when Dachshund Daddy took me out for my constitutional last night. The note said: "Wash Tootsie."

What do you mean "Wash Tootsie"?

Am I a plate? A dirty dish? Why don't I get a bath?

Here's your new, edited list:
  • Give Tootsie a bath
  • Stop referring to Tootsie as a plate
You can see from this evidence that I am not a plate.

I am a dachshund who will fly... someday.

Thank you.

Love you,

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

French Maritime Alps

A favorite photo from last fall, even though one of us is chewing her fingernails!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Remembering Suni

Last July, during a hike in the Matterhorn region, Dachshund Daddy (DD) met Suni, the Queen of the Alps.

A passionate hiker, Suni summited countless mountains all over the Alps with her human dad, Gabri. You can read all about their adventures on their website. Even if you can't read Italian, you'll enjoy their gorgeous photos.

We knew all about Suni and her prowess as a doggy hiker long before DD met her. We'd read all about her on her website. As a fellow little dog and a fellow hiker, I admired Suni and her passion for the great outdoors.

Suni loved her mountains, and she loved sharing them with her human dad, who gave her the gift of a very special life.

Suni repaid him with the unconditional love that only a dog can give her human. Their bond grew increasingly stronger as Suni entered her silver years.
Blessed is the man who earned the love of an old dog.

Suni continued to power up the hills with her four-paw drive until this spring, when she flew over the rainbow bridge.

Now, every time her human dad climbs a mountain, he and Angel Suni are reunited.

Run free, Angel Suni, in that big meadow in the sky.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

TV Show Dogs

We love the TV series BILLIONS. (What is not to love about rocking Damian Lewis as Axe?)

But there are two dogs in the first season of BILLIONS and about halfway through the first season the dogs just disappear. This is not right. Sure, Axe's dog gets neutered, so maybe he becomes invisible. And Chuck's dog serves as a poopy-pick-up foil but then disappears as if this world has no more dog shit to pick up.

I conducted a Google search: "What happened to the dogs in BILLIONS?" Answer, unsatisfactory. Overheard in the Writers' Room: "Don't worry. No one will notice if the dogs are written out." 🐶

We notice.

Dogs are not token characters! If you introduce a dog into a story, the dog should be as important as any other character. (In BILLIONS, the human offspring mostly disappear, too. That's also a narrative problem, but you can guess that it bothers me a lot less than vanishing dogs.)

There are so many things to worry about in this world: climate-change deniers, nationalistic ideologies, fascism, sexism, racism, a trend toward confirmation bias and fear rather than curiosity and intellectual inquiry, plus a commitment to partisanship over community. We have a US president who cares only about enriching himself, which many recognized during his campaign and many couldn't see because they were enthralled by his rhetoric.

During the first hundred days of Trump's presidency, people have courageously made the commitment to fight his policies. Our best hope is that Trump's incompetence is our saving grace. Trump never cared about the voters; he just wanted their votes. He got them, and they got him. Unfortunately, so did the whole world.

So here is a small plea to TV writers during these unstable times: please don't add disappearing TV show dogs to our long list of worries.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

We are so thrilled the Climate March is happening today in Washington, D.C. and around the world. Thank you, all, for standing for sane conservation.

Here are some of our favorite pictures of environments that we love from past posts on our blog.

This is a picture of Tootsie's first hike ever in Switzerland, in the Greina Plateau.

This is little Tootsie in Appenzell, Switzerland.

This is our Idaho home place. You can see Truffle, too!

It might seem impossible to tackle the issues of climate change, but it's not. We just need Tootsie's gusto.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Darwin! Or Beagles?

One of my many writing activities is as the Managing Editor of Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies where I help run the journal and curate a series called "In the Classroom." We are so grateful to our friend Gail Riekie -- you know her from Bouncing Bertie's blog -- for contributing a fantastic piece on Darwin.

Thank you for popping over to read it, here.

Thank you, Gail!

-Renée (& Tootsie, of course)

 Did Darwin feel like this when he set off on the voyage of the Beagle?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Earth Day

We hope you had a wonderful Earth Day and March for Science!

We waddled our way to the top of Monte Covreto, which is on the border between northern Italy and southern Switzerland.

It's very dry for this time of year, and we're looking forward to rain next week.

If you look closely at this photograph you can see a recent burn on the hill just behind us. It was a small fire, but it's unusual in this area. The smell of soot lingers in the air.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

For Truffle

Many of you remember our dear Truffle, so I want to share a piece I wrote for Truffle. It's for a wonderful literary journal that focuses on housekeeping tips you remember from your dearly beloveds.

You can read it over at Dead Housekeeping, here.

Thank you for taking a look!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Thank You

Dear KulturMama, the Library in Thalwil, and all the kids & parents:

We had such a wonderful time at English Storytime. The library was so sweet to welcome us and to give Tootsie treats. Danke!

We're amazed Tootsie fell asleep during Jeff Crosby's Wiener Wolf--it's her favorite book of all time!--but it was so relaxing being surrounded by amazing kidlets. A special thanks, too, to Grandpa for his Tootsie limericks. Read one, here.

An extra special thank you to KulturMama for all her work. Please sign up for her newsletter--and könig beatty projects--right, here. Marisa König Beatty (aka KulturMama) covers wonderful events in Switzerland, and there's lots of great information. (Swiss Cats -- take a look!)

Tootsie and Renée 

Monday, March 20, 2017

English Storytime with KulturMama!

We are reading at English Storytime with Kulturmama in Thalwil, Switzerland! It's a short program for kidlets. We're going to sing "Itsy bitsy spider" with changed lyrics... "itsy bitsy dachshund." And we might sing "the wheels on the bus go round and round" set to dachshund lyrics... "my dachshund paws go round and round." We'll see.

We're going to read Grandpa's limericks, which he wrote for me. We're going to read Jeff Crosby's Wiener Wolf, my favorite book of all time. And we'll read How Dogs Really Work! by Alan Snow. It's a good manual.

Wish us luck!

P.s. Mom just spent forty-five minutes looking for her special Swiss train day pass. (She had put it in a special place.)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Mom Returns Home

Tootsie: "But, where were you?"
Mom: "I was a visiting writer at Lebanon Valley College. It was wonderful!"

"And, Tootsie. I brought you an English-language magazine from America."

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day

We're sending love to women all around the world. From the hills to the valleys, women make the world go round. And particularly today, we are thinking of all the women in the United States who will suffer because of the policies of the GOP -- their roll-back of environmental protections, for starters, will have profound effects on health and the great North American land.

It's 2017, and we still have to say it: women's rights are human rights.

Fall, 2016. The French Maritime Alps.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017



Think with gusto.
Escort the human (to the kitchen) with gusto.
Eat with gusto.
Cuddle with gusto.
Watch the human (take a bath) with gusto.
Walk/waddle with gusto.
Pee (only on grass) with gusto.
Wag with gusto.
Bark with gusto.
Bite Pink Pig with gusto.
Resist with gusto.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Dog Songs: Poems by Mary Oliver -- Paws & Books

Many people love Mary Oliver for her beautiful poetry and wisdom. If you know her work, did you know she loves dogs? Not a surprise, right? This book of dog poems was a gift from our dear friends The Schnoodles, Cookie & Zippie. In some of these poems, Oliver speaks directly to her dog(s). They have a conversation. It's great to read these reflections, because sometimes it can feel like a dog's mind is beyond the scope of human perception.

A few years ago, at a poetry reading, several poets made fun of Oliver's work--and the audience laughed. Perhaps Oliver's sincerity is suspect to some. It shouldn't be. (Or maybe there is some poetic issue about her work that I don't understand.) Oliver knows the natural world and records it beautifully. I'm not sure that Dog Songs is up to the level of her most beloved work, but it is a special read, especially for dog lovers (like me).

If you are a writer, her poetry handbooks are incredibly useful. I love Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse, but A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry is useful for craft suggestions and prompts.

You can listen to Mary Oliver read a poem from Dog Songs here.

There is also a marvelous interview with Krista Tippett over at one of my favorite radio shows, On Being. (& a picture of Oliver with one of her doggies!)

Monday, January 23, 2017

I Am a Bumble Bee

In the latest, breaking news, I am a bumble bee!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Paws & Books

Hi! Tootsie's Mom, Renée, here.

In 2017, I'm going to run a series called "Paws & Books." I'll post about works of dog literature -- poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and maybe a few doggy-user manuals, too, because we all need help being properly trained by our dogs. My longtime dream is to write a work of dog literature, so I'm collecting an annotated bibliography of my research, and these posts will be part of that process.

If you have ideas about what you would like to read or learn about these books, please let me know in the comments! If you have dog-book suggestions -- even if you think I know them -- please let me know.

To start, I'll share with you one of the first books I ever read about a dog: Harry the Dirty Dog.

Harry the Dirty Dog is essentially about how you can be seen as two dogs, and how because of how you're seen, you can be lost (and found), unknown (or known), but that inside you're essentially the same dog. After a bath, Harry runs away, and gets all sorts of dirty, so when he comes home his family doesn't recognize him. What is Harry to do? The book asks an essential question: if your appearance changes, are you still the same dog?

Did you know that you can listen to and watch Betty White reading Harry the Dirty Dog online? Here's the link.
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