Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rin Tin Tin Was Not a Dachshund

My mom and I just finished reading Susan Orlean's book Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. We read it on Mom's Kindle.

Mom's back was breaking from all the books she carried back and forth across the Atlantic. So she bought a Kindle, stopped carrying lots of heavy books, and started carrying me!

Right now, I'm thinking about Rin Tin Tin. He was most certainly not a dachshund. He was a big dog. I'm not sure how I feel about this. As I say, I'm thinking about it.

Mom is a writer, so she believes in books and furkids. She says an author needs to pet fur to calm down. She's pretty sure Susan Orlean pet some fur while she was researching and writing Rin Tin Tin.

(Mom just told me to remind readers that eBooks can be purchased from independent booksellers. So even if you buy an eReader from a big company, like a Kindle from Amazon, you can still support the local bookseller who supports indie presses and all kinds of books by buying locally from your local independent bookseller or directly from an independent publisher.)

Rin Tin Tin is very famous. He is the mythical dog next door. And Orlean has written a captivating, generational history about a legend. But I'm still upset that Rin Tin Tin is a German Shepherd and not a dachshund.

As I say, I'm thinking about it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monte San Primo

Monte San Primo is the highest peak in the Triangolo Lariano, the triangle-shaped peninsula that divides the two southern arms of Lake Como. The hike to its summit is possible all year round, but fall and winter offer the best views. On a Saturday morning in mid-November, we drove our rental car to the upper trailhead at Colma di Sormano. We started our hike under the inquisitive stare of a cow grazing in the pasture above the parking area.

Our route partially overlapped with the Dorsale Triangolo Lariano, literally the "Lake Como Triangle Backbone," i.e., the trail that runs the entire length of the Triangle connecting famous Bellagio to its once-famous step-sister Brunate.

In the southeastern corner of the Triangle there's a mountain called Corni di Canzo ("Canzo Horns") that reminds me of a joker's hat.

Due east, across from the southeast arm of Lake Como, lie the famous mountains Grignone and Grignetta.

Next summer, Dad plans to visit those two peaks to determine whether there exists a dachshund-friendly (as well as mom-friendly) route. I asked the sheep we met, but they have never been there.

Monte San Primo offers an incredible view of Lake Como, which looks like a downward "Y".

It is a point of pride for me to have posed next to the official survey marker from the Istituto Geografico Militare, roughly the Italian equivalent of the USGS (United States Geological Survey).

I am also proud to have posed in my Dachshund Delights CoverUp coat with Monte Rosa, Monte Generoso, and Sasso Gordona in the background.

I even got to scamper off leash...

...and pose with Italian summit signage.

I would have loved to also explore the side valleys,

but this is Italy, and my parents expected me to pose.

On the way down, Dad took us on a quick detour to a little jewel of a lake. Dear Istituto Geografico Militare, would you please name it Lago della Bassottina ("Lake of the Little Female Dachshund")?

Back at Colma di Sormano, Mom and Dad popped into Ristorante La Colma, a cute roadside bistro, for torte and cappuccino. Inside, Mom freaked at this reminder:

"Perhaps, you will never encounter a viper. But... will he?!"

Will "he"?! As a "she" who has encountered a viper (on a different hike), I find this Italian male pronoun usage patronizing. Che cavolo!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Canine Coffee Concerns

I have a concern.

I think my mom drinks too much coffee. I collected all the coffee in our Swiss willage home.

I think this is a lot of espresso.

My mom says it's not so much. Not near enough. She says that she does not drink nor smoke, so she's allowed at least one vice.

All these excuses don't allay, nor address, my concern. I think Mom drinks too much coffee.

What do you think?


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Barometro A Corda

This is a Rope-Based Barometer, known in Southern Switzerland and parts of Northern Italy as Barometro a Corda. It is a common sight on trails throughout Switzerland. We have found them to be quite reliable.

To start, focus on the rope in the center.

To operate this weather-information center, one must analyze the state of the rope and match that state to the choices listed on either side of the rope (Italian on the left and German on the right.)

Here is the English translation:

If the rope is dry: fair weather.

If the rope is wet: rain.

If the rope is stiff: cold.

If the rope blows back and forth: wind.

If the rope is invisible: drink less.

If there is no rope: it got stolen.

We have seen other versions in different areas of Switzerland. For example, here follows one common variation:

If the rope is invisible: fog.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Guest Limerick by Truffle

Hi, I'm Tootsie's furbrother Plott hound Truffle.

I'm honored to provide the following limerick as my guest post. The limerick is dedicated to our special vet Dr. Ward.

So my Vet tells me; green beans for snacks,
So I tried them 'soon as I got back,
Right out of the can
They seem pretty bland
But when "nuked" I kept coming back!

Tootsie sent me a dog-gram that she tried Swiss green beans, and she didn't even need to nuke 'em.

I need a title. Any suggestions?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lugano's Hausberg

Alpine cities and towns typically have a Hausberg, a "home mountain," i.e., a peak that local residents can (in principle) hike to from their doorstep. In spite of its relatively modest elevation and Lugano's ample supply of higher peaks, Monte San Salvatore, "Mount St Savior," is considered Lugano's Hausberg because of its distinctive shape.

From March to November, the summit area of San Salvatore can be reached by way of a cable railway, or funicolare, that is significantly steeper than a Swiss cow's face. During the winter, you can only get to the top with your own paws. This means that you can take in the views of Lake Lugano without wearing a pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones to block out people yammering on their cellphones.

We hiked to the top of San Salvatore on a Saturday in the middle of January, taking advantage of this year's eerily mild winter. Thanks to a perfectly timed combination of two trains and a bus, we reached the southerly trailhead in the tiny hamlet of Ciona without having to start hiking from our doorstep.

As we made our way through town, we met one of the Seven Dwarfs.

The southerly trail winds gradually through forestland and steers clear of the cliffy east face of the mountain. After a 1200' climb, dirt gives way to cement and stairs lead to the developed summit area with the cable railway station, a restaurant, and various viewing platforms. There are lots of orange Swiss benches so that little dogs can regroup while reading in-flight magazines.

Fur disclosure: Mom brought Delta's Sky Magazine along to take a photo, so she could enter the "Show Us Your Sky" photo contest.

We spent more than an hour at the top, enjoying the quiet and taking in the views.

Dad pointed out how amazing it was that nobody was around. Eventually, five Swiss German hikers joined us at the top. It is relatively rare to meet Italian-speaking Swiss folks in the mountains of Italian-speaking Switzerland. It is more common in Swiss-Italian culture to spend five hours eating lunch rather than five hours hiking.

On the way down to Ciona, we paid homage to the San Salvatore funicolare station.

We timed the downhill hike to catch the 3 o'clock bus from Ciona. I really wanted to burrow inside the hollow tree near the bus stop.

Fun Fact #1: Monte San Salvatore is struck by lightning more often than any other mountain in the Central Alps.

Fun Fact #2: Monte San Salvatore is known as Lugano's Sugarloaf due to its resemblance to Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dear Joys

While in England on a business trip, a guy named Bruce adopts a miniature dachshund. Before traveling back to the States, he takes his new companion to the vet to get him fixed.

The vet points at the dachshund's joys and says:

"Before we get started, you should know it's 50 pounds each."

Bruce replies:

"No way! His whole body doesn't weigh more than 10 pounds!"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pawsome Blogger Award!

Thank you, Dachshund Nola, for presenting me with a Pawsome Blogger Award! My fur friend Bug and I wish you all the best with Mango Minster 2012!

And thank you, Kootenai, for presenting me with a second Pawsome Blogger Award! I told my fur friend Conner all about your day trip to hike with the Wizard of Oz(arks).

In order to accept, I need to wag the award forward to blogs that make me wag. It is my honor to award the Pawsome Blogger Award to the following pawsome blogs, in no particular order (barking, please):

The Daily Oskar, because there's a little schnauzer in every one of us, and we all send Oskar's mom-person Pam get well wishes.

Yorkie Tales, because Scrappy is a fellow Western dog and her blog is lots of fun. I love Scrappy's Wordless Wednesday posts and her new winter parka.

Peggy's Pet Place, because Peggy is a great writer and I love her book reviews. Follow her as she blogs through the alphabet!

Roxy the Traveling Dog, because he's a fellow traveler who does lots of fun things, and I love the artwork by Al and Mary.

Kootenai's Climb, because Kootenai is a fellow Western dog who adores the mountains and I love her lyrics to Jingle Bells. Kootenai, you were already on this list when you gave me my second Pawsome Blogger award!

You Did What with Your Weiner, because I love reading about the adventures of Chester and Gretel in the Pacific Northwest. They are great advocates for small dogs and I always learn new things from their blog. For instance, they taught me all about Wet Belly Syndrome.

Baïka's Blog, because I love her French-language blog. Baïka is a fashionable King Charles Spaniel from Geneva, Switzerland. I adore her incredible sense of style.

Thank you! Love, Tootsie

P.s. Dachshund Nola wagged the award forward to eight pawsome blogs. Kootenai wagged it forward to six pawsome blogs (including mine!) I'm wagging it forward to seven, which is the arithmetic mean of six and eight. Keep on wagging!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Save the US Postal Service!

Tootsie's Plott hound brother Truffle finds a canine USPS mailbox in Port Townsend, Washington.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mango Minster 2012: Adventure Animals Category!

Dear Mango Minster Judges and Kindred Hearts:

I, Tootsie, am a Bicontinental Adventure Dachshund.

Thank you for the opportunity to enter the 2012 contest. I am an adventurer who lives and travels on both the European and American continents and logs countless hours hiking in the Alps and the American West.

I travel by plane,

by train,

by gondola,

and by many other methods of transport, including automobiles, buses, cogwheel trains, funicolari, and ferries.

Fur Disclosure: I’ve never ridden a chairlift because I don’t think it’s safe.

As part of my residence in southern Switzerland, for which I obtained a Swiss Pet Passport, I'm required to embark on another sort of adventure. As a middle-aged doxie, I am learning to understand one of Switzerland's four national languages, Italian: "Seduta, Bassottina. Brava!" ("Sit, little Dachshund. Good girl!")

I love hiking. I’ve hiked all over Switzerland: Canton Fribourg in the west,

the Greina Plateau in south-central Switzerland,

Canton Appenzell in the northeast,

and in many other places.

I’ve hiked in the Austrian Alps,

in the French Alps,

and in the Italian Alps.

Once, I encountered a viper on a trail near Passo Vivione in the Italian Alps. There's no picture, because, duh, we're not going to hang around with a deadly viper on the trail, but here’s a link to what the viper looked like. Freaky!

I’ve also hiked in the Appennines in Tuscany

and regrouped in a Tuscan hilltown.

Though naturalized Swiss, I'm a proud United States citizen by birth (though the U.S. doesn't issue legal pet passports).

I love hiking in the American West, especially in my home state of Idaho.

I also like to hike in Montana.

Before Christmas, I met Santa Claws in downtown Bozeman.

The whole schnaa of being bicontinental means I’m a super lucky little dog. I get to go sailing in the San Juan Islands in Washington State,

explore the rocky shores of Puget Sound,

and walk along the sandy beaches of Tuscany,

where I filmed this movie.

I’m a fit little dog, but I wasn’t always this lucky. Before my forever parents adopted me, I was a very sick little dog. It was not clear if I would be well enough to live this life.

My special vet Dr. Ward of Pet Mobile saved my life. Dr. Ward performed surgery to remove huge bladder stones. Just a month later, I had three abscessed teeth pulled at one time. Ouch.

Yet after each surgery, I woke up wagging. My special vet assistant Brenda says that I always wag! My previous caregivers Clara, Sarah, Sadie, and Sophie, who found help for me with special vet Dr. Ward, confirm that I have always wagged. It’s true. Wagging is the leitmotif of my life.

Even before my renaissance and all my current travels, I believe I have always been an “Adventure Dachshund.” Why?

Because, to me, real adventure begins in my heart. Real adventure is reflected in my wagging tail. When I wake up every morning, I wag. I wag because life is sacred, and I'm grateful for mine.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my entry in the 2012 Mango Minster contest.

Keep on wagging!

P.s. Now I'm going to take a nap!

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