On boxers and responsibility

On Wednesday, August 25, Taylor Becker died. She was 4, and she was attacked by a boxer--Rocky, the pet of a family friend. The child and dog were together, unsupervised by adults, in the dog's backyard. Rocky broke free from its lead and for unknown reasons, this otherwise friendly and nonviolent dog attacked.

Next month, Green Acres Boxer Rescue will hold its 10th Annual Boxer Bash in Columbus, Wisconsin. It's the first year the Bash will be held outside of the greater Green Bay area. Columbus is 30 miles from Iron Ridge, where the Becker family lives. I want to take some time to explain why I think the Boxer Bash is more important now, in light of this tragedy, than ever before.

I haven't seen anyone call for the event to be cancelled, and I'm glad for that. Anyone who loves dogs and endeavors to understand them knows that there's no such thing as a "bad breed." There are dogs that behave badly, and there are dogs that behave dangerously, just like there are dogs that behave sweetly and joyfully. The difference isn't in the breed name; it's in the owner, and that owner's sense of responsibility for the animal he or she cares for.

Boxers as a breed do not deserve to be blamed for this dog's unexplainable attack. But without counterbalance, all the general public will see of this story is the face of a little girl lost. Boxer rescue groups are justifiably concerned that they'll see dogs returned to rescues and humane societies; we've all seen what happens when the same thing happens with other breeds put in dangerous circumstances by their owners.

I hope the Boxer Bash goes on as planned. A moment of silence or a collection for Taylor's family would be an appropriate recognition of the Beckers' loss. The community needs to know that responsible dog ownership is key to keeping everyone safe, and that breed rescues do the good work of providing healthy foster relationships for dogs in trouble. Boxers, like all animals, can be dangerous--events like the Boxer Bash are working hard to make sure these tragedies don't happen again.


I compose this post from our deck furniture, a stunning chocolate brown and lime green affair. I am here to tell you that you should ignore all the tools from HGTV Canada that don't know how to buy a house; buying a house is awesome.

Okay, maybe not everyone buys a house from a young family who had to be undiagnosed obsessive-compulsives. I mean, who takes down all their photos after the offer goes through, then patches the nail holes and paints over the patches? Our circumstance was as close to Better Homes and Gardens as you can get for the money.

And oh, the gardens. Our landscaping is pretty great. I was itching for a yard to play with as we neared the end of our last rental agreement, but I had no idea.

Even the dogs are getting into it.

Buying a house is awesome, because at the end of it, you get to have a house. And even if it's not a big house, it's a start.

One hundred pounds of Danish

Tonight is not just Top Chef night. Tonight is the night we increase our in-house doggage by about 300%.

No, the pug will not be allowed to eat until he finally doesn't want any more. Tonight, we begin dog-sitting a Great Dane. A nearly 100 pound Great Dane puppy. Named after one of the most formidable pharaohs in Egyptian history.

Obviously, there will be some ego issues to overcome.

I'm a pinch anxious about it, for a couple reasons. First, I've never met the dude. I'm assured by the wife, who works with the dog's human, that he's a sweetheart. But even nice dogs can be put out-of-sorts by sub-20 pound dog/missiles flying at their faces.

Did I mention that I've got two sub-20 pound dog/missiles currently occupying the house? That would be the second concern; I don't know how they're gonna react to having a third dog, size notwithstanding, in the house. The last thing I need is having to be the referee managing separate corners for two little dogs who can't stop vibrating with anxiety.

This all comes with the understanding, of course, that dogs pick up on human energy, too. So my third anxiety is the hope that I don't unintentionally make things worse.

It's gonna be a stressful week, I think.

Christmas with an Asian baby

So I've got this niece. She's a sweetie and a half. This is her first Christmas. She's my first niece. It's a pretty good deal for everyone. Even the dogs like her. Monty! Quit blinking!

I actually just found out that I'm gonna get to be The Godfather for the little bean. She wants to know where my jowls (a la Marlon Brando) are. I tell her, Even Marlon Brando was thin once. Wait a year or two.

Anyway, I'm going to indoctrinate her proper-like. Her parents had her give me a Munchkin Fresh Feeding set that includes a grinder to chop up any food items, and a little netted pacifier thing to pack full of grilled Belgian endive and pork loin with fennel and cardamom for her to enjoy. I also have the Top Chef: America game for the Wii. She approves.

Who's gonna be the cutest little culinarily literate Asian Michael Corleone ever?

Dogs of the Internet

Monty is officially a superstar. He's on the Internet on no fewer than two otherwise unrelated websites. Mine, of course, and the website of the Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin. Go to the Events link, then click Recent Events, and you will see multiple pictures of the little guy from Dogtoberfest 2005. He got the woman and I free beer because the girl who worked there thought he was the cutest dog there. You Readers out there be sure to let me know the next time your Doberman or lhasa apso gets you free, fresh, cold, award-winning beer.

In other doggie news, Monty's been accident free for almost two weeks now. He's still crazy, still trying to eat things he shouldn't be, but he's had a remarkable transition to almost complete potty-trainedness, and is taking quite well to the "sit" command. He starts school next week. I suspect he'll be a stellar student.

I'm off to go buy a few Powerball tickets, since I don't think I'm going to be getting that call about the Supreme Court vacancy I was expecting. I was hoping to bring my "diversity of experience" (read: NONE) to the bench.