Friday, November 30, 2007

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Pat Wray's Article on the Parade

What waddles around, comes around
By Pat Wray

I occasionally poke a little fun at people in print. It is my nature, and I justify it because my barbs imbed themselves in me far more often than in other people.Nonetheless, a few of my targets take it personally. I suspect them of an overly developed sense of self-importance, or perhaps strict toilet training.

Most people respond with good humor and poke right back in letters to the editor and e-mails. But very few poke with the light-hearted efficiency of the Corgis of the Willamette Valley.

Last year, while writing about the Corvallis Christmas Parade, I mentioned that the corgi owners showed a great deal of courage by appearing in public with their short-legged dwarf dogs, a friendly sideways swipe I thought would elicit a smile or two.

Adele Ullman, leader of the corgi crowd, sent me a pleasant riposte, which was followed by a dozen more e-mail daggers from corgi companions across the country.Members of the corgi clique, it turns out, take their dogs very seriously. Luckily, they don’t take themselves nearly as seriously.More than half of the e-mails I received shared stories highlighting the writers’ own dog-related wackiness, while emphasizing their pets’ absolute perfection.

Adele felt I had unfairly insulted their noble animals and thus owed the group penance. She mentioned walking with the corgi clan in the Fourth of July Parade.“Darn!” I said. “I will be out of the country then. I’m sure sorry. I always wanted to walk in a parade with corgis. Oh, the disappointment!”

For the next 10 months, my mind was corgi-free. But then came November and, with it, an e-mail reminder from Adele that I still owed Corgi Nation some sort of atonement.

Who would have thought corgi cohorts would possess such long memories? But having once agreed, I felt morally bound to take part. I was to walk, as it turned out, at the head of their parade contingent, wearing a Santa hat and carrying a sign: “I love corgis.” This in lieu, I suppose, of being placed on a rack.I searched far and wide for a good disguise, but settled, in the end, for hiding behind my seasonal blond beard. OK, it’s light blond.I learned a lot while standing there on Washington Avenue with the corgi contingent, waiting for the parade to begin.
Adele explained that corgis were developed in Wales to replace border collies. The collies were being kicked regularly by unhappy cattle so the Welsh decided to breed a herding dog so short the cattle couldn’t kick them.I believe it. That is, I believe she believes it.A more likely scenario, if you ask me, is that a mad 19th century geneticist, fresh from his work developing tumbling pigeons and fainting goats, decided to breed legless dogs.When asked why, he would cackle wildly and say, “To crawl in after ground squirrels and force them to the surface, where we can stew and eat them, har, har, har!”

So, while the corgi coterie thinks of their dogs as the successful end of a long breeding effort, I suspect they are simply a hesitation on the downward trajectory of the evolutionary elevator. Next stop: a belly covered in scales and an undulating slither.Naturally, I did not mention this theory to the corgi cabal. They were busy by then following behind their dogs as the little animals waddled from one side to the other of Fourth Street, visiting every smiling child under the age of 90.

Perhaps that is the fundamental truth about corgis: It is not possible to look at them without smiling. And corgis love smiles; they gravitate toward them, use corgi magic to expand them, then share them back around to the rest of the crowd.Corgis don’t even mind if you are laughing at them, because they know they have the last laugh. No matter who’s leading, who’s following or who’s holding the leash, corgis are in charge.

Pat Wray is a free-lance writer and longtime local resident. His general-interest columns can be found in this section on Fridays.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Corgi Christmas Parade

The day after Thanksgiving was the annual Corvallis Christmas Parade, celebrating 150 years of Corvallis. Naturally, Mum signed me up for the Willamette Corgi Group float and she was off throughout the day helping make the float, working on my costume and attending to my needs. This is a picture of me pre-Parade before we got ready to leave the house. I was already overwhelmed with the paraphenalia I was required to wear - walking vest, 2 Christmas collars, etc.

We joined about 29 other Corgis at the staging area at a little after 5pm and then had over 2 hours before the actual event started. It is hard to be a diva when you have to wait so long. But there were alot of butts to smell and alot of people, including our local columnist, Pat Wray, who wrote a rather un-flattering column piece about Corgis last year...something about us being short. Anyway, he has a great sense of humor and agreed to walk with us. We had young Corgis, old Corgis and even disabled Corgis. Mr. Wray met them all and was very nice to all the pawrents as well. Which was a good thing since our group won 2 awards! Best use of Lights and something else, I can't remember. So, finally, the parade starts and by this time, I am cold and tired but I put my best paw forward and march on. I let Mr. Wray walk with me for a bit but eventually he struck out on his own so I could be more accessible to the crowds.

It was all good fun but by the end of the 9 blocks I was exhausted and ready to go home. I definitely did not want any more small hands patting me or telling me how soft I was. Mum sensed my unease and moved me to the center of the pack and we nipped right over to the parking lot where we were going to take the float apart. She parked me against a pole and make sure no one could abscond with me by tying my leash securely around the post and putting my lap blanket under and around me so I wouldn't chill.

Dad found us with the car and he and Mum tucked me into the front seat with my blanket while they helped put the float to bed for the year. By the time we got home I was frapp'd out and exhausted and in a very bad mood. I attacked my brother Cooper for no reason and bit his ear which was a most unpleasant episode and earned me a very long talk outside with Dad (who never hits but can make me feel very bad by telling me what a bad boy I am while making me lie on my back with my paws in in the air). Anyway, Cooper forgave me and Mum looked at me with very sad eyes, so I just went to bed.

It is so hard being a Corgi during the holidays. I think the pressure got to me but fortunately I got a lot of hugs over the long weekend and I am improving my behavior. I am not growling at Cooper when I am jealous and I am going "down" automatically when Mum says I can have a treat. She says no "freebies", I have to earn all my treats from now on. Well, I am a Corgi, I can do this - I have to have treats, that isn't even negotiable!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dear Santa Claws

Dear Santa Claws,

I am writing on behalf of myself and my brother Cooper this year. Coop can’t type as well as I can. (And I think he enjoys dictating to me and I definitely enjoy editing his comments.)

I have a short list of wishes I want to ask of you.

1. I would like a large jar of the Sweet Potato Treats just for me. The extra large treats would be great and if you could write “These are just for Dozer” on the jar, that would be helpful.

2. I would like a tartan walking vest, preferably in Royal Stewart, for my special walks in parades or during my club visits during the winter. I belong to the Willamette Corgi Club here in Oregon and there are about 30 of us who do the annual Christmas parade and summer picnic. The Cardigan corgis always lord it over us that they have tails and we Welsh Pembroke corgis have bunny butts. A nice walking vest would make them think twice about their bragging rights.

3. And finally, I would like a big, meaty cow bone to gnaw on. Better get one for Cooper too so we don’t fight. I would prefer a really greasy bone, with a bunch of marrow. If it smells stinky, so much the better. If it is large enough to roll on so I smell just like it, that would be perfect. If you can’t get me a bone, I would like a cow pie to roll in. A nice, steamy, smelly one would be heaven.

Here is Cooper’s list:

Hello Mr. Santa,

My name is Cooper and my brother says you bring toys and treats to animals at Christmastide each year. Last year you found me my forever family and got me out the Greenhill Shelter for good. I thought when Greenhill saved me from being euthanized at another shelter it could not get much better, but the family you found me is even more wonderful. So I don’t think I should ask for anything more but Dozer says that this is what we are supposed to do, so I have a short list of wants.

1. I would like a kangaroo to keep in the backyard. I listened to the Discovery Channel and they said that roos are fairly agreeable animals and can poop up a storm. I love to eat poop and I think kangaroo poop would be a delicacy.

2. I would enjoy a glass of wine occasionally, preferably a perky Merlot. Mum says dogs cannot drink alcohol but I love wine and sneak sips when Mum leaves her glass unattended.

3. My brother Dozer is three years old and I am eight now. Could I have a heated bed if they are not too expensive? Mum gives me vitamins and joint medicine but sometimes I think sleeping on a heated bed would feel so good on my weary bones.

4. And my last request is not something you can give but something you could do. Could you put a gold star by my pawrents’ names on your list of good people so they get presents? They have spent a lot of money on me in the last year and I am an old dog. Most folks would not have have had my teeth fixed or spent so much money having the vet get my ears well and make sure I was healthy. I do not have any money to pay my pawrents back and Mum says I am worth a million dollars to her. I don’t know why but she seems to think I am something pretty special.

Thank you Santa Claws and have a nice holiday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Putting on the Cute

It is never too early to "put on the cute" in order to be first in line for Christmas presents. I find that the earlier the start, the better the presents. Eventhough Coop and I have three LARGE Rubbermaid containers of toys, clothes and grooming items, there are always new toys to be had. I particularly like my red dinosaur and my multi-color snake that are made of something just short of Kevlar. I think these TuffToys were made for Corgis because they take a lot of work to destroy. It took me a year to disembowel the snake and I have had no success with the dino. This is high praise coming from me. I have worked over that frappin' dinosaur from dawn to dusk and he still has his horns and tail. Cooper i sn't into destroying anything but paper. Mum thinks Coop survived on eating grass and paper somewhere in his life, so he tends t be totally food-oriented and not quite as play-oriented as moi. If my day job of napping, snacking and belly rubs doesn't work out, I am thinking of doing some freelance toy evaluations. Just not sure how one gets in line for those positions.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cooper, my story

As you can read, my brother has some serious sibling issues with me. That said, I am happy to be part of a family again. Since I cannot speak English it is hard to relate my previous life. When my pawrents adopted me in September 2006, I was at Greenhill Animal Shelter which was my “second chance”. I was in another shelter slated for euthanasia and Greenhill stepped in and gave me a “second chance”. I was adopted out twice but the first time the animal control folks found me out on the streets within a week or two and brought me back to Greenhill. Then a nice lady adopted me but wasn’t able to take care of me and the police brought me back to Greenhill. All this really upset me and I got ear infections and diarrhea and began a cycle of being sick. Greenhill thought about putting me into foster care or transferring me to Portland so perhaps more folks might see me and adopt me. Fortunately, my mother was perusing and saw me one night. She called Greenhill and they told her I was quarantined with something nasty that made me poop all over. Mum kept calling – for three weeks – and finally one Friday, Greenhill called and Mum left work and Dad left work and they came down and got me. Greenhill wanted to be sure that this would be my final adoption and my pawrents promised nothing I did or could do would make them return me to Greenhill. (And they were not kidding!)

So I got a new collar and leash from Greenhill and they brought me out front and my pawrents took me home.

The next day Mum took me to my new veterinary hospital, The Ark, on Applegate Street. We pulled in at 11am and did not leave until 1:30pm. I had a lot of problems – ear infection, fleas (a lot of those!), need for vaccinations, and other things. I got some shots and Mum took me home. I smelled really, really bad from living in the Greenhill kennel so Mum put me in the shower with her and gave me my first bath. I looked a lot like the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz when I came out. I definitely smelled better!

My brother and I get along okay. Dozer wishes I had never show up, but I love him. I actually love everything and everyone. Dozer is a little pickier about who he showers his affection on. I guess I came into his life to teach him patience and love.