Mar 162010

What could a chocolate Labrador Retriever dog have in common with the Underground Railroad?

along the route to FREEDOM

along the route to FREEDOM

I had a really nice walk today. I took a walk to a new place: history. It was a walk through history.  My mom took me to a place – well, the name doesn’t mean much to me but it meant a lot to my mom.

“Joey, this is the Jackson Homestead.  It was a stop along the Underground Railroad.”

I didn’t ask, “What’s the Underground Railroad?” but if I had, she would have been very surprised. And then she would have answered, “The Underground Railroad was the route that escaped slaves took on their road to freedom.  Many times people opened their homes to escaped slaves, and the William Jackson family, in our town, was one such family and one such place.”

Now that’s something I understand: FREEDOM.

Today this home is a museum that you can visit. But me?  I can stay outside, and that’s fine with me.

Dec 072009

A 2007 Gallup pole indicated that 44% of American families own a dog.  Wanting to have an at-home companion or a friend was the main reason why these families chose to own a dog.  A  much smaller number of people had a dog for protection, security, or practical reasons such as for hunting and exercise. But dogs are also useful. It’s helpful to know about your dog’s breed in order to understand what special qualities and characteristics your dog possesses innately. Then you can appreciate your dog all the more, and provide the resources that make your dog thrive and be happy.


On a special day,  I got to have my photo taken with a group of firefighters from our town, Newton. Also in the photo were Senator John Kerry and our mayor-elect, Setti Warren.  This was a special photo because special and very nice people were in it and because I was in the photo, too! I was being useful by helping my candidate win. You can see me to the right, trying to make friends with one of the firefighters, who is petting me.


When many people think of firefighters, they think of Dalmatians.  So we are back to the topic of dogs.  Dalmatians and I are dogs.  Also, Dalmatians and Retrievers (like I am) are strong and can run for long distances. Dalmatians were very useful to firefighters a long time ago, before firefighters drove those large trucks with engines that they drive now. In fact, our town of Newton was the first town to use motorized firetrucks in our country!  Before firefighters drove trucks with engines, they drove trucks that were pulled by horses.  Teams of horses.
So to get back to the topic of dogs:  Who protected the horses? Why, Dalmatians, of course!

What did Dalmatians protect the horses from?  From robbers and thieves who wanted to steal the horses and people’s belongings during the nighttime when the firemen were sleeping. They also protected the horses from wild dogs who would roam the streets and nip at the horses’ feet.

Why Dalmatians?  Dalmatians and horses make very good friends.  Dalmatians are strong (like me) and can run for long distances, maybe more than 30 miles, at a speed up to 30 mph! Dalmatians wanted to protect the horses.  The Dalmatians calmed the horses down when the horses got agitated, such as when there was a fire.  People also liked the way Dalmatians looked, with their spots!So firefighters have loved dogs for a long time because dogs have been their friends and have been very useful in people’s lives.  I am happy to know that in our town we have wonderful firefighters and that now they are my friends!

I have a lot of nice photographs of Dalmatians and horse-drawn firetrucks!  Look below!

A Dalmation with the men and horses of Company #3, Stamford Ct., around the turn of the century (19th to 20th).  Thanks to Lt. Palmer for allowing me to use the photo!You can see the company Dalmatian to the right, just under the wagon wheel.

Here you will see a video of horse-drawn firetrucks from a long time ago, long before you or I were born.

  Finally, my blog used to show a video of Blaze, the Dalmatian! He’s owned by Dave Humpert from the California State Firefighters’ Association! I think that Blaze and I would make really good friends! You can’t see the video anymore, however. Ask my mom why not. But here is a photo of Blaze.”

Blaze! Dalmatian Fire Dog from San Diego!

Mr. Mitch Mendler, who took this photo of Blaze, gave my mom permission to use it.

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Nov 222009

Picture 007_cr_2

My mom has been taking me all over our town of Newton since I got better. I like riding in the car but many times we walk, which I really love.  Right before we reach the center of town, we pass the place where Samuel Francis Smith used to live*, and there is a stone there that marks the spot, something I know a lot about. Who is Samuel Francis Smith? He is the man who wrote the lyrics to the song America, also known as My Country Tis of Thee. And he lived in the home right on the spot where I am sitting!

My mom included the words to this song here:

1. My country,’ tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;
land where my fathers died,
land of the pilgrims’ pride,
from every mountainside let freedom ring!

2. My native country, thee,
land of the noble free, thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
thy woods and templed hills;
my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.

3. Let music swell the breeze,
and ring from all the trees sweet freedom’s song;
let mortal tongues awake;
let all that breathe partake;
let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.

4. Our fathers’ God, to thee,
author of liberty, to thee we sing;
long may our land be bright
with freedom’s holy light;
protect us by thy might, great God, our King.


I like when he writes about the hills, and the rocks, and the breeze, and the trees, though I don’t know what a rill is. But this is an important place in our town!


* 1181 Centre Street, Newton Centre

Nov 032009

Many cities and towns are creating and maintaining dog parks.  This is an area where dogs can run and play together without a lead or leash.  It’s a wonderful way to give your dog exercise and an opportunity to socialize.  It relieves your dog of the frustration of always being on-lead or in an enclosed area, when your dog’s nature is to run and be free and to socialize with other dogs.  Does your town have a dog park? Different parks have different rules and regulations. Watch your dog run free in a dog park is a wonderful experience.


I love every day – but I love days when I can discover the world and make new friends with dogs I’ve never met. I love days when I can be with my parents. And I love days when I can run and run and run and run and run. Today was such a day. I discovered the world. I made new friends with dogs I’d never met. My parents were there with me. And I ran and ran and ran and ran and ran.

dog reads sign at dog park

This is the first “dog park” I’ve ever been to.  The morning goes like this: At first, I’m on-lead and walking with Dad and Jane in this beautiful wooded area; Dad is holding the lead and of course I’m trying to lead the way and pull him toward where I smell other dogs, and Dad is holding me back from pulling too hard.  I am bursting with excitement.  We walk and walk.  The trail under our feet is soft and flooded with fallen leaves.

Then we turn down a little path and encounter a wide open field.  Dad, Mom and I go toward this field.  I’m going to explode with happiness – but this lead restrains me. We get closer.  We are almost there! But first, Dad stops me in front of this sign.  I don’t really want to stop; I want to continue on and play with the other dogs who are running around the field.  But my Dad is firm and I know he means business.  I obey my Dad.   I obey him because I want him to be happy with me. I want him to be happy with me because I love him.  So it all works out.

It is hard for me to control myself but somehow I manage to. no – I take that back. It’s almost impossible for me to control myself. I’ve learned at least a little bit of self-control in my ten years. I hope I get some credit for this.

Then my parents take off the lead. This is a special moment. wagging my tail; I know this is getting better by the moment.  Then my parents say, “Joey, go!” and take a few steps to the other side of the sign.  I follow them.

On the other side of the sign, I am happy. I am getting happier and happier.  I see many many dogs and break away from my parents, like a rocket launching from its pad, and they don’t say anything or even try to stop me. Now it’s me and the other dogs.  The other dogs want to play with me.  This is great. I want to play with them. This is great.  There are many people hanging around but they are allowing us dogs to just run free. This is great. Being free from the lead is great.

Sometimes I make friends with another dog, and we both like to run and we run very far away, running as far far away as we can, toward the edge of the park where the woods are, and loving our ability to run, and playing. Then – I hear Jane call “Joey, come.” I look toward Jane and leave the dog I was playing with and I run quickly toward Jane. She says “Good boy!” when I arrive.

Then I am free again, free to pick any direction, and start running or playing.  I make friends with another dog, and we run and play. This is a nice game! This happens again and again. I find a friend, we play, then we run off, far far away, then I hear the call of my mom and friend, saying “Joey, come.” I stop whatever it is I’m doing, and run toward her. She says “Good boy!” and I take  a few breaths, and then go to play again.

To me it’s never time to stop playing.  I can be thirsty and hot and my tongue is hanging out – but no part of me wants to leave my new friends.

At one point, my Dad starts running around the field and, being his running partner, I start running with him. We run and run.  Then he stops and I stop and play with other dogs again. Soon I hear Jane say, “Joey, come” and then she says, “Joey, sit” and I do, and she attaches the lead to my harness, I know the fun is over for now. That’s okay.  I’m happy.  I’ve had a good time. I’ve run a lot and felt as light as a bird.  My parents are saying things like “He looks great when he’s running” and “I don’t see any limp”.  And I – I am enjoying my life, playing nicely with the other dogs.

Then it’s back home. Nobody has to say “Joey, drink water” this time.  I know just what to do! I know to drink water!  Nice that my water bowl is filled with that drink of life to celebrate the great afternoon my parents have just given me!


If you’d like to write about dog parks, please add your comment in the “Comment” box below!


Oct 152009

You may not see that this is about me and getting better. But it is!

When I still had the splint on my leg and I wasn’t allowed to see many people or make many new friends, when I had to always be on my lead when I was outside, I had a really lucky afternoon when a lot nice and friendly people came over to our home.

At the time, I didn’t understand why so many people were coming to our home.  Lots and lots of people came over!  And they were saying “How’s Joey?” They asked, “Can we see Joey?” and they let me spend some time with them.  I was really very happy about seeing my old friends.  Some of them I’d never met before.  I was really very happy about making new friends.

One new friend came over to our home: Setti.   My parents introduced me to Setti, too.  After a while, everybody went into the living room and sat down.  Setti talked, and people listened, then people talked, and Setti listened, then Setti talked, and people listened, and on and on it went like this for a long time. At one point, I heard somebody say “dog parks”.

Setti also was very nice to me!  Mom took this photo of me and my new friend, Setti.
(a friend in the background) then me and Setti

If I were a person and could vote for Mayor of Newton, I would vote for Setti.  He was really nice to me, as you can see, even though I can’t vote, in fact I can’t even register to vote, and he made me feel better and happier at a time when I couldn’t go out and make new friends.  He was really nice to me and to everybody!

Setti is one of my new friends.

Here’s another of my new friends: Lorie. You can see how friendly and nice Lori is and dogs like me pick up on this right away!  Meet my new friend, Laurie!  Days and friends like this really make me want to get better and better and live my life!


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