Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Resolutions

I have limited time right now—my ghost writer has to go to work at the nursing home this evening—so I will dispense with the formalities. My esteemed colleague Joey dog and I are thinking about New Year's Resolutions. We wonder why the humans insist on going through this ordeal every year, and never stick with the resolutions they make. In fact, by the second week of January, all resolutions have been completely forgotten! We suggest that they not make resolutions that are so difficult to keep, like losing one hundred pounds. But we can come up with a few doggie resolutions that we're sure we can keep, and hope our human friends and family will take our advice.
I resolve to loose one pound.
I resolve to gain one pound.
I resolve not to steal any designer cupcakes without permission.
I resolve to continue guarding our territory from the Evil Squirrel Cartel.
I resolve to guard our territory, even in a snow storm.
We resolve to take more naps, and sleep through New Year's Eve again.
And that's a memo.

Old Year's Day

Hello. This is The Daily Bone and I’m your humble doggie host Chester L. W. Stephens.

Yet again, a human Holiday has me confused. I mean today is last day of 2013. So why are the humans watching long boring programs about stuff that already happened? First there’s a review of all the big disasters: tornadoes, typhoons, floods, plane crashes, train wrecks, bombings, and shootings. Wasn’t it hard enough to go through all that once already? Then there are lists of all the political and international events. If you ask me, I’d rather not relive the following things: the government shut-down crisis (which wasn’t really a crisis) the violent events in the Middle East, all the government scandals and hearings, and the televised murder trials—those rate a double doggie snort. Some famous people died, and some celebrities did outrageous things, one of which we’d rather barf all day than have to see yet again.

My astute associate Joseph (Joey dog) Stephens has told me that we should remind our readers that doggies live in the present, and don’t keep track of all the human tom-foolery that happens every day in the world. Nor do we bear grudges. We are forgiving creatures, and will always give you a second chance to redeem yourself in our eyes. Joey dog also says maybe we should just play along with our humans and show you some pictures you might not have seen of our past year. And here they are:

Monday, December 30, 2013

Patience

Patience. Yeah. We can do that. Keep your eye on the yum yum.
This is The Daily Bone and I'm your humble … oh, what the heck! You know who I am already! We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you this commercial advertisement. It is approved by both the Squeaky Party and the Yum Yum Coalition! Here is the link below, so hurry up and watch it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZWeTC-Xb7I

Hunting Expedition

Hello. This is The Daily Bone and I’m your adventurous doggie host Chester L. W. Stephens, along with my stout-hearted associate Joseph (Joey dog) Stephens.
T-minus ten seconds to take off. Yipes! 
Last week, Joey dog and I had to go on a very perilous car ride. We cowered in the back seat for a while, awaiting our impending doom at the vet’s office for a shot or a horrifying ear cleaning. (Where else do we ever go in a car?) It was a good thing Jessy was sitting next to us or else we would have panicked, as the ten minute ride stretched out to an hour and a half. The farther we went, the worse the snowy weather became, until we could hardly see out the windows. We could feel the tires slip and slide on the road at times!
Five minutes out. Refueling. Are we there yet?
When we finally stopped, we discovered we had reached another planet, and this was the home of our most revered human: Oma. What a relief! Oma always gives us lots of yum yums. But then we found out that our doggie expertise was needed for an important mission there. Oma thought there might be a mousie in the basement of her house, and we doggies were supposed to hunt for it. After a thorough inspection of the entire basement, we concluded there were no mousies at all in there. In addition, we could not find any way a mousie could possibly get in there in the first place. We were proud to have been able to give her that positive report.

Here come the yum yums. Hooray!
You mean we have to go back too?
And that's a memo.

Politics Is Boring

Hi everybody. This is your loveable doggie host Chester L. W. Spaniel, and this is The Daily Bone.

Hi.

In the past few weeks, I have presented not one, not two, but three articles on the subject of hate. It seems there are tons of web sites and social media pages that are practically bursting with horrible hateful things, especially when it comes to politics. My kind-hearted colleague Joseph (Joey dog) Spaniel and I tried to analyze this using doggie logic, but have failed so far to understand what is so great about hating something. So then we decided to look at the problem from a different point of view. What kind of things do humans love? The first thing to come to mind is entertainment. Humans love to watch exciting movies about good vs bad, especially if it involves the good guys blasting the bad guys to pieces. They also love watching sports, like football. Politics, on the other hand is essentially boring: a bunch of humans in a big semi-circular room, arguing about all the legal minutiae of making complicated laws to regulate every move and penny we make, and then wrapping it all up in barrels of pork. Who wants to watch that when the new Ironing Board Man movie or a major football game is playing on TV?

So, the media figured out how to make politics more exciting, and in the process, choose sides, promote their agenda, and make a ton of money: make politics into a sport! Yeah, that’s right. There are two big teams—Democrats and Republicans—and they can be labeled by a narrow  list of extreme and unrealistic things they sort of stand for. Now people will take politics personally, so let the hating begin! As I have pointed out in many TDBs, from what you see on TV, you might think there is bloodshed, mayhem, and downright havoc going on in Washington, as the two teams slug it out on Capitol Hill. It’s a death match, and there’s a panoply of reporters and analysts lined up to explain each and every move, try to figure out who will win, and why, and how, and what it will cost, and how it will affect our lives, all whilst spinning the whole thing right or left. Then the hate-fest continues on line.

Nobody seems to stop and think, hey, I know a lot of nice, friendly, logical, fair-minded people who are affiliated with either one party or another, and they’re not anything like the exaggerated stereotypes they’re labeled with. So our doggie advice to all you humans is, don’t judge each other by the lunatic fringe presented on the media. Be kind to each other. Listen to both sides, and make your own judgement according to the goodness in your heart. Maybe you don’t agree with some issues, but that doesn’t mean you should express your disagreement with hatred. Hate just creates more hate. And that’s a memo.

Seriously … just stop hating.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holiday Recap

Hello. I’m Chester L. W. Stephens, chairman of the Squeaky Party, and this is The Daily Bone.
I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping up with my writing in the past couple weeks. It has been extremely busy at our house. We got to see many of our favorite people, like Jessy who flew here in an airplane all the way from Planet Florida, and stayed here for a week! Hooray!Then we went on a scary car ride to visit our Oma. (More about that trip later.)
On Christmas Day, our favorite mini-human, Ryan, came to visit, and we got to open presents. Much fun and silliness ensued. I was running around so fast that there were hardly any good pictures of me. I must have been going at warp speed. Of course, Ryan and I thought the wrapping paper, boxes, and bows were the most fun!
Now that Christmas is done, I would think the humans are having fun with their new squeaky toys, but no. Instead, they’re all busy taking things back to the stores. It’s like Black Friday in reverse! I’m totally confused. If memory serves, wasn’t there a big jolly fat guy dressed in fuzzy clothes who was laughing, ho, ho, ho, at everybody during the entire shopping frenzy? He was making a list, and checking it twice. He was going to find out who’s naughty and nice. Maybe he knows something all those crazy shopping people don’t, and he’s laughing at their foolishness. Wait a minute. I get it now! Those silly people spent all their time and energy running around, thinking that they had to buy the presents, when all the time Mr. fat and fuzzy had it covered. Ho ho ho ho! Next year I'll have it all figured out. And that’s a memo.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Natural Habitat

Good morning squeaky toy fans! This is The Daily Bone and I'm your well adapted doggie host Chester L. W. Stephens.

We wanted to give you a quick look at our  morning adventures before we sit down and ponder more serious issues to discuss here on TDB. If you've been checking the weather reports in the north east part of the USA, you'd know there has been a lot of snow falling. Our back yard was piled high with the fluffy white stuff. My esteemed associate Joseph (Joey dog) Stephens and I are well adapted to such conditions. Instead of our usual neat and tidy buzz cut, we have our shaggy winter coats on. We have fur growing between our toes so that our feet stay warm. Our humans don't seem to like this condition so much because we tend to track more dirt and debris, not to mention clumps of snow, into the house, but they're willing to put up with it because they know we're warm outside when it's below 20 degrees. Well, any way, here we are rushing off to flush a flock of sparrows out of this bush. This is what our breed is supposed to do.

(Don't worry. The birdies soon returned to the bush once we went inside.)

I went into the bush to make sure there were no mousies hiding there too. Can you see me? I'm in camouflage.
How about here?


Oh yeah. This is our other natural habitat: waiting for our yum yum reward for doing a good job. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Super Fun Snowday

This is The Daily Bone and I’m your doggie host Chester L. W. Stephens.

Wow! In spite of it being Friday the thirteenth, today has been one of those really great super fun days for us doggies. For one thing, it’s been snowing all day.

My hardy associate Joseph (Joey dog) Stephens and I have been running around the back yard, exploring, trying to count the birds, and hunting for mousies. I think there must be three dozen sparrows, several chickadees, an assortment of finches, and a big bunch of juncos, plus Crazy bird and his wife (the cardinals) hiding in the bushes, eating bird seeds at the feeders, and hopping around in the snow.
The Evil Squirrel Cartel has also been out in force, mostly trying to steal hawthorn berries. We doggies have been working like crazy keeping them away.

Later on, to my surprise, we got a package in the mail. Inside were the most wonderful squeaky toys ever! They were from one of our favorite long time fans, Auntie Pat in Pennsylvania and her cat Tricky. Thank you so much.
To top things off, we got to see the snow plow go trundling by.
After all that fun …

Snoooooorrrrrrrrk.

Prefabricated Generalization

Hello everyone. This is The Daily Bone and I’m your doggie host Chester L. W. Spaniel.

Getting back to the subject of hate on the internet, I have come up with a word to describe it:  prefabricated generalization. This means somebody has decided that a certain other person or group has specific characteristics which classify them as bad, evil, hateful, selfish, crazy, extremist, radical, criminal, lazy, stupid, deplorable, despicable … well, you get the idea. Through the internet and the media, they spread the word that this or that group or person has these characteristics, and a large number of people hear and read it, and consequently believe it, whether it is true or not. They tell their friends and contacts, and the number of haters explodes exponentially. It isn’t long before an entire, say, political party, religion, nationality, class, has been totally demonized. Everybody has lots of fun sharing the hate and vilification online.

You might say, oh I was just fooling around and blowing off some steam by participating in hate talk and nobody will be hurt by it. But what if, after you made hateful statements online, you find out that your next door neighbor, or your coworker, or your best friend’s mother, or your child’s classmate, or a facebook friend is of the belief you said you hated so bitterly and made cruel jokes about, and now you have hurt his feelings and made an enemy of him. You see? Hate only creates more hate.

My erudite colleague Joseph (Joey dog) Spaniel pointed out something very important about my term prefabricated generalization. He says, isn’t that same thing as racism? Think about it. And that’s a memo.

Monday, December 9, 2013

We Survived

Hello, this is Chester L. W. Stephens, chairman of the Squeaky Party, and this is another edition of The Daily Bone.
OK. We survived Black Friday. From what I saw on the TV news, it was a madhouse: crowds of people pushing and shoving each other to get into stores. Scary stuff! My humans told me that this mass buying frenzy was not because of a big disaster coming. They’re doing something called Christmas Shopping, and maybe buying things like squeaky toys. Well, buying squeaky toys is good. Everybody needs a squeaky toy. But why do you need a special day like Black Friday to buy a new squeaky toy?

And what’s up with that big fat guy with the beard and fuzzy clothes? He keeps talking about making a list and checking it twice. He’s going to find out who’s naughty or nice. (Does that include doggies too?) Then, there are lists of what everybody wants as presents … hey, if that guy is the one giving all the presents, then why are all those humans crowding into stores on Black Friday to buy even more presents? This just confuses the heck out of me! I mean, how many presents do we really need?

My esteemed colleague Joseph (Joey dog) Stephens, who has been around longer than I, has a few more comments about Christmas in regards to pets. First, we can expect an increase of yum yums in the house, but he warns about food that is made from chocolate, which is poisonous to doggies. Second, for some reason the humans like to dress their pets up in costumes. Yikes! I thought we were past Halloween. While some pets absolutely hate being dressed in costumes, others don't mind. Most of us totally don't see the point of it. Third, sometimes the humans bring trees into the house at this time of year. What? Why the heck would you want to have a tree in your house? Well, we doggies will just have to tack that onto our list of weird things humans do. Oh, and one more thing: Joey dog says that doggies are absolutely not allowed to pee on said tree. Huh? And that's a memo.
Dusty from Ohio says, the hat is OK as long as I get yum yums for wearing it.
Lane in Florida couldn't be less enthusiastic.
Joey dog, again, it's OK if yum yums ensue.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Squirrel: How Do I Hate Thee?

This is The Daily Bone and I’m your humble doggie host Chester L. W. Spaniel.

In light of yesterday’s TDB about hate, my learned colleague Joseph (Joey dog) Spaniel and I had a discussion about how hate is taking over the internet, the human population of this country, and the world. I said that hate is a bad thing. So how can we doggies justify the fact that we routinely chase squirrels, enjoy watching videos about dizzy squirrels on spinning bird feeders, and squirrels being flung into outer space by home made catapults, and report regularly on our on-going mission to keep squirrels out of our yard? Oddly enough, the answer is: we don’t hate squirrels. We love them! Now before all you doggies out there start growling in disagreement, consider this: if it wasn’t for squirrels, what would you be having fun doing? As you probably know, doggies are hunters. Yes, all of you toy poodles and pampered yorkies out there, you too have hunting instincts. In the stone age, before humans domesticated doggies, it used to be of utmost importance that we catch other animals to eat or else we would die of starvation. In response to that, we evolved excellent senses of hearing, sight, and smell, and strong, fast bodies with which to find and catch food. Just because our humans feed us now, doesn’t mean we’ve lost that instinct. We are still hardwired to chase things, and enjoy doing it.

Joey dog and I made a list of the things we love: eating yum yums, food watching, sleeping on the couch, feeling happy when our humans arrive home, playing with squeaky toys, and especially chasing squirrels. Thank you, squirrels, for your persistence in raiding our bird feeders, our pear tree, the compost pile, and the hawthorn tree. Thank you for running so fast, getting stuck in the silver maple tree in our back yard, and providing hours of barking activity, exercise, and entertainment. Chasing squirrels is the high point of our day! And that’s a memo.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hate It


Hello. This is The Daily Bone and I’m your faithful and horrified doggie reporter Chester L. W. Spaniel. I have a very alarming subject to talk about today: hate.

When did we become such a nation of haters? You can easily find a website or facebook that features nothing but people stating how much they hate someone or something. Just put in keywords: hate + choose one of the following: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Liberal, Hispanic, Asian, Black, White, women, gays, immigrants, cats, dogs, business owner (aka Capitalist) Christian, Muslim, or Jew, and you will come up with lots of stuff! In there are hateful cartoons, swear words, strong language, threats of physical violence, wishes for death and misfortune, and pictures of the hated people labeled as saying obscene things that they didn’t actually say. Sometimes the message is “we hate them because they hate us, so let’s get together on this site and talk about how much we hate them.” This hatred for a particular person or group then gets blown way out of proportion to the point of demonizing. Really? REALLY? Do you really hate someone so much that you have to spend large chunks of your time writing and talking about your hate, and then posting it on the internet for everyone to see? Have you actually met the person and talked to him about the ideas you hate so much? Is the hate message even true? Have you actually listened to his ideas before you labeled it as something to hate? Most importantly, are you forming your own opinions, or are you just following the hate message in your chosen site? It’s gotten to the point where elections are won, not by the candidate who is liked the most, but by the one who is hated the least. I thought this was the United States, not the Divided States. I thought the internet would be used to bring people together with the goal of raised understanding, not the sharing of toxic hatred and mob mentality. If you are guilty of participating in hate talk, then shame on you! You are setting examples for, and encouraging terrorists and bullies everywhere. Go sit in the corner, and no yum yums for you for the rest of the day. And that’s a memo.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Droned Out

Good afternoon. I am Chester L. W. Stephens, your dutiful doggie host, and you’ve tuned into The Daily Bone.
Well, ladies and gentlemen and doggies, pretty soon all of the junk we order online will be delivered by drones. Just what we need: the used squeaky toy we got on ebay will be delivered right to our door by a little helicopter flying machine within thirty minutes. Thank goodness we will never have to sit around biting our nails for three to seven days waiting for the USPS to deliver the Cocker Spaniel Puppies calendar we ordered from Amazon! Wow, my copy of Barking Dogs Jingle Bells, that I ordered at the last minute, will get here before Christmas! (I wonder what the shipping cost will be?)

My practical minded associate Joseph (Joey dog) Stephens and I had a discussion about this. We came up with a few problems. First, considering the number of things humans buy online, the skies would soon be filled with millions of these drones. Imagine the noise they would make! Imagine the terror and confusion battalions of drones would cause for unsuspecting birds everywhere. We also wonder if these drones will be affected by bad weather, which we have a lot of here in Western New York. Just think about what would happen if a big storm suddenly rolled in from Lake Ontario and mixed up those millions of drones. What a mess! I don’t think I would ever want to go outside again. What if they got stuck in the trees? What if they smash through the windows, or into cars while they’re driving, or kids on their bikes? If there are enough of them, they might cause their own kind of climate change by blocking out the sun. Oh no! This is way too frightening for us doggies. We’re going to go hide under the bed now. And that’s a memo.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lessons in Anthropology

Good day everybody. I’m Chester L. W. Stephen, your humble doggie host, and this is The Daily Bone. 
It has been brought to my attention that I’ve been neglecting my political commentary in The Daily Bone lately. Well, it seems there’s been nothing but the same old thing on the news the past few weeks, and I imagine you’ve gotten just as sick of it as I have. I thought you might, instead, enjoy reading about my adventures frolicking in the snow. The local climate has been changing a lot, even if the political climate isn’t! In the meantime, I’ve been doing some interesting reading on anthropology, which is the study of humans and their cultures through the ages.

OK, so here’s a great new vocabulary word I picked up: kleptocracy. This happens when gigantic groups of humans try to get along, and help each other by trading for goods (like yum yums and squeaky toys) and services (like professional property protection by yours truly) and then designate a leader to manage everything. Eventually the leader gets greedy, has delusions of grandeur, and thinks he is connected to a god of some kind. He convinces all the people that they have to give him massive amounts of goods—some of which he lavishes on his friends who are supposedly helping to keep track of things—in order for the god to listen to him and bring prosperity to all. This gives him the right to boss everyone around and steal from them, in the form of either valuable goods, labor, or in a sneakier way called taxes. After all, who wants to risk upsetting the gods? Heaven forbid there comes a flood or a storm!

Sooner or later, however, people get wise to this scam, especially when their children start starving. Nobody can actually keep a hurricane from happening, or a volcano from exploding, no matter how chummy he is with the eminent god du jour. They overthrow the current kleptomaniac, replace him with their own leader, and then come up with all new ways to justify their own version of kleptocracy. You see, it always starts out with good intentions, but eventually it all ends up the same.

There’s a brand new kind of kleptocracy going on now. There is still a god involved, but this time he’s called a celebrity. Celebrities are immensely popular because they tend to look like models of perfection—slim, young looking, have sex appeal, a good hair-do, sparkling white teeth, wear high fashion clothing and shoes, and have fabulous parties to show themselves off. They have the power to make even the poorest people give money to them, and believe everything that spouts out of their mouths whether it is true or not. They often demonize and bully their opponents to make themselves look better. They preach high ideals that appeal to the masses, but they themselves usually don’t follow them. Those who disagree are still required to pay money (taxes) because the celebrities tend to influence and win popularity contests. Oops, I mean elections.

We doggies can’t really do anything about this human societal trend. We hope that you try to keep this concept in mind the next time you pay $40 for a movie ticket, $300 for a pair of sneakers, or vote for a candidate who makes the most preposterous promises, while spending vast amounts of your tax money to bash his opponent. And that’s a memo. 
Excuse me, but I have to go hide my squeaky toys now.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Special Report

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you an urgent update on the Evil Squirrel Cartel. I’m your energetic doggie host Chester L. W. Stephens reporting from the upstairs office. There was an evil squirrel in the birch tree right outside our window! Below is footage of my valiant efforts to scare the perpetrator away.


Here is when I first spotted that bushy-tailed varmint. You can see, I have already fogged up the window from barking. Usually this tactic works and the squirrel retreats.


When this didn’t work, we opened the window so that the miscreant was able to hear the full force of my barking effort. 



However, this arrogant criminal was not easily deterred. In fact, he sat and watched me from a branch while I continued to bark vigorously.


Finally, after more concerted barking, the evil squirrel turned tail and left the premises. Hopefully the Evil Squirrel Cartel will think twice before invading our territory again. 


I have now positioned myself so that I can maintain a constant watch on the upper tree branches in front of our house to be sure the Evil Squirrel Cartel doesn't try another attack. As you probably know, squirrels have a one hundred percent rate of recidivism when it comes to property invasion with intent to steal bird seeds, hawthorn berries, and other valuable commodities.


You can be sure I will keep you posted if and when further trespassing occurs. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Cyber Monday

Greetings, and welcome to The Daily Bone. I’m your humble doggie host Chester L. W. Stephens.


Here we go again. It’s another ominous day: Cyber Monday. The word, cyber, brings up all kinds of frightful ideas about evil robots, high tech aliens, and scary movies: The Matrix, Star Wars, Terminator, The X-Files, etc. My humans say their email accounts are suddenly filled with junk mail about cyber sales. Oh no! Does this mean they will be buying one of those robot vacuum cleaner thingies that drives around the house terrorizing pets all day? Perhaps I’d better hide under the bed again, and hope it doesn’t suck up any of my squeaky toys.

Cyber squirrels?
I asked my erudite colleague Joseph (Joey dog) Stephens what he thought about that. He said all we’d have to do was sit on the furniture where the roomba can’t reach. That didn’t sound too comforting to me, so he reminded me that there hasn’t been a vacuum cleaner yet that hasn’t been defeated by our secret formula dust bunnies made out of our shed fur, squeaky toy stuffing, and dirt we track in from the back yard. Why else would the regular vacuum cleaner be sitting in the garage gathering dust while our humans use a broom to sweep? He says he’s sure that a robot vacuum cleaner would be quickly clogged and end up moldering on the junk heap of demoralized machines.


Well, that's a relief, I think.


And that's a memo.