Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Bracelet for the Ocean

How Jewelry Can Help Save the Ocean
I am wearing a lovely bracelet made of clear 'glass' beads on a blue braid (a green bracelet was available for Earth Day). I love it! My bracelet is waterproof and so adjustable it will fit anyone.

The blue cord on my bracelet is recycled polyethylene terephthalate from water bottles and the beads come from glass bottles. The 4Ocean charm on each bracelet is stainless steel.

Pull a Pound

And best of all, it’s good for the ocean! The clear glass beads on my wrist are made from the equivalent of one pound of plastic trash removed from the seas through local clean-ups and global efforts – from Key Largo (pre-Irma) to Montserrat to California, Connecticut, Canada, the Philippines, Norway, the Bahamas and Eleuthera.

Thanks, Irma!

Thanks to Hurricane Irma, more trash has entered the ocean in the past 10 days than in the last 10 months. 4Ocean is working overtime.

And, Best of All!

Watch Lila the dog* collect plastic bottles from the ocean and the beach! To her, it's all a game. Good girl, Lila!

Recycling Trash Since January 2017

Two scuba divers starting picking up trash and in January founded 4Ocean. The movement has since grown to 34 full-time employees.

4Ocean conducts both onshore beach clean-ups that you can volunteer for to prevent trash from entering the ocean environment, and five offshore boat clean-ups around the world to remove trash that is already in the ocean.

Success Around the World Cleaning the Ocean 7 Days a Week

US                  37,312 pounds of trash removed for recycling

Bahamas - 31,173 pounds
Canada - 871 pounds
Montserrat -1,102 pounds
Haiti - 15,615 pounds
Philippines - 3,647 pounds
Norway - 3,192 pounds and counting!

Buy it. You’ll Love it.

Buy it because it’s beautiful, both in appearance and philosophy. Spread the word. You owe it to yourself – and to our oceans.

Read more about it:

Remember: One Bracelet, One Pound!


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Movie Review: Underdog (beagle, boy, family, superpowers)

Underdog: Saving the World, One Paw at a Time (Disney, 82 minutes, 2007, Rated PG)

“Look, it’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a frog!”
“No. It’s Underdog!”

If you didn’t grow up with Underdog, or if your kids didn’t, here is your chance to get caught up on modern canine culture from the very beginning. Underdog is truly a classic and a delight for the entire family. It is a movie that I will gladly watch again.

A rookie talking beagle* on the police force doesn’t ‘make it’ (and neither does his cop, John Belushi) – a rookie pup, competing with the three experienced talking German Shepherd Dogs.

But our hero, Shoeshine, can smell food in a can in a cupboard, can open cans with a squeeze of his teeth, can even fly (but has to learn how to fly straight).

Underdog has Everything

Would you believe a Chinese Crested (that’s a dog) in a secret science lab, a leopard-skinned Dachshund, a Rottie, a Frenchie, a bulldog-type, a black dog, a girl named Molly and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Polly, and, of course, the requisite mad scientist. Oh, and throw in Jay Leno. And a single dad (former cop now security guard) and K9 Police Dog (now, a pet).

The Plot

“Let’s kidnap the mayor!”

“There’s no need to fear. Underdog is here.”

When the boy plays hooky, chaos ensues as the dog, our hero, Shoeshine, slowly learns his superpowers** and learns to harness them (some, though, he never gets the hang of: flying without bumping into everything and through everything!). Our hero speaks English along with a little Chihuahua and some Retriever but his Shih Tzu is a bit rusty.

DogEvals Loves Shoeshine!

Easy jokes for us older folks. And, of course, a lesson to be learned about family and home but astute jokes that fly by so quickly it’s hard to remember them.

See John Belushi as an older father to an older middle school boy and Samantha Bee as a middle school principal!

There is even some romance – of the canine kind. And the middle school kind, too.

Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” Is. . . . a Dog?


*a nose connected to four paws and a constantly wagging tail
** how our hero gets his superpowers is something that I will not reveal

Dogs courtesy of Boone’s Animals (movies, TV shows, commercials and more: The Parent Trap, Hachi, Must Love Dogs, Pirates of the Caribbean) 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Movie Review: The Truth about Cats and Dogs (comedy, roller-skating dog)

The Truth About Cats and Dogs (20th Century Fox, 97 minutes, 1996 – with Uma Thurman, Janeanne Garofalo, Ben Chaplin and Jamie Foxx)

The truth about cats and dogs, or, how a prostitute and a veterinarian become best friends only to fight over a cute but dumb British guy whom the ‘plain jane’ wins – an outcome predicted in the first few minutes but which turns into such a long movie.

If it weren’t for the absolutely incredible dog, Hank, DogEvals may not have watched The Truth About Cats and Dogs to its predictable end. In addition, what the good (animal) doctor advises over the radio would get the client in deep doo-doo in real life, according to dog trainers. However, dangerous situations often make for humor.

So, Let’s Talk about the Dog

Hank is a roller-skating big-guy canine who is simply adorable, for a Mastiff or a Bullmastiff or a natural-eared Fawn Great Dane Cross. When he stands up on his back feet, he is nearly the height of a man – man’s best friend. A real cutie who appears often on the screen.

As For the Title

So, what is the truth about cats and dogs? We never found out, but it is a cute title.

And, . . . .

For the last few years, we have paid attention to whether or not the AHA (American Humane Association, not the Humane Society) ‘seal of approval’ appears at the end of a movie plus who trained the animals. Steve Berens did this remarkable job in Truth, as good as he did for our favorite (reviewed last year in DogEvals), Who Get’s The Dog?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Movie Review: A Fish Called Wanda (heist, comedy, London, Yorkies, Jamie Lee Curtis)

A Fish Called Wanda (MGM, 108 minutes, rated R, 1988 – with Kevin Kline, John Cleese, and Jamie Lee Curtis)

Question: Why is DogEvals writing about a fish movie?
Answer: Because of the dogs!

But first, about the movie: a British-American heist comedy, on the slapstick side, and recipient of three Academy Award nominations and one winner.

Is There Really a Fish Called Wanda?

Yes, there is a fish (besides Jamie Lee Curtis) called Wanda (in an aquarium) and two French Fries up the nose and someone eating the aquarium fish and even some funny Italian spoken and some Russian (mostly names strung together to sound like actual sentences – listen for “Benito Mussolini” and wines and cheeses) and a stuttering star and three Yorkies* who are killed off one by one, hilariously.

Some might call DogEvals callous to love the three creative dead Yorkie scenes best, but bear in mind that this movie was made nearly 30 years ago and slapstick from that era is a bit jaded by now, even if Curtis is ‘easy on the eyes.’

Frankly, we just don’t see why the awards were given to Wanda but it must have been a great movie in its heyday to receive so many accolades and to become a phrase in nearly everyone’s lexicon.

If you have been to London, you will love recognizing the sights! And pre-teen boys will get a kick out of the French Fries - and Ms Curtis.

*Yorkshire Terriers, the 9th most popular breed in the US, are small dogs, under 20 pounds (usually 5-10 pounds)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Repeat Post - Because of Harvey

DogEvals is reposting our review of a quick book, Buddy. Buddy will help you understand what it is like to live through Harvey (or Katrina). Buddy also speaks of the temporary loss (potentially permanent?) of one's best friend. It is well worth reading this summer and fall, if you have friends in Houston, other parts of Texas or Louisiana. If you don't, you will live a small part of the lives of those who lived through Harvey.

Buddy, by M.H. Herlong (Puffin Books, 2012, 304 pages, $7.99 Kindle, ages 9 and up)

“How Far Will a Boy go for a Dog He Loves?”

(And the question behind this question: “How far would you go?”)

Buddy is the story of a young boy of modest means, living in both pre- and post-Katrina New Orleans, who yearns for a dog. Constantly.

The little boy, Li’l T, and his family literally run into a dog on their way to church and decide to make him theirs.

How Buddy comes to live with three legs could be a memorable book in itself.

Ah, Buddy, . . . .

I could merely tell you the story of Buddy but I won’t – because I want you to read the book and enjoy it like my entire family did. (Perhaps that is why Buddy is marked as being recommended for ages 9 and up, rather than, e.g., ages 9-12) Buddy is worth it plus you can read the book in parts which makes it so easy to just set aside a small bit of time: with 37 short chapters, you can pick it up and put it down after a few minutes of reading, without losing the momentum of the story.

Buddy is extraordinary. Each chapter could be one part of a continuing serial, in the daily newspaper, for instance. Didn’t Charles Dickens do that? And successfully so.

I started up wanting a dog the day after I was born. (p. 11)

Lil’ T and Buddy grow closer with each day of living just like your family lives. Although Buddy is not quite a coming-of-age novel, Lil’ T does experience numerous situations that he learns from – from an Iraq vet to Katrina (of course), from the death of an old lady neighbor to neighborhood kids turning bad, from saving for a bike to mowing lawns to save for dog food.

And then there’s Katrina.

“. . . could be  you’re too crazy in love to see how ugly he is.” (p. 42) said Granpa T.

Lil’ T is a real little boy with a grandfather who lives with them, a little sister and two parents – his father being strict but loving and someone to be respected.

We don’t remember what Buddy looks like or how big the dog is but the cover illustration shows a Border Collie type dog. Lil’ T is protective of Buddy and almost becomes a neighborhood hero because he has the dog everyone wants.

(p. 122) “I can’t leave Buddy. I can’t not leave Buddy.”

Hard choices. 

There are not an enormous number of Katrina books, fiction or non-fiction, currently in libraries or bookstores. Perhaps she (the storm) is too recent in our composite memory, but now may be just the right time for a Katrina book written for those too young to remember, so they live through it vicariously: the uncertainty, the not wanting to leave, the not wanting to return, the loss of a friend perhaps, having to sleep on a cot in a large auditorium that is never quiet.

Katrina comes between Lil’ T and Buddy – for a few months, and then . . . the family returns to devastation and recovery work. And Buddy was lost. And then ­– the rest of the story is for you to live through: suffice it to say that Lil’ T grows and grows.

And when he gets a new puppy for Christmas, is he happy? Would you be?­­

What if he found Buddy only to lose him. . . .? Or to give him away?

The Final Word

Buddy is about a normal family and their normal life (except for Katrina). Buddy is also the story about a boy growing up with a bratty little sister, a new baby, a grandfather, and parents who are sometimes stern but always have their children foremost in their minds.

Buddy is about yearning and loss and finding and love and growing older or growing up just a little bit, and sharing, and family, and, of course, about dogs.

Buddy is well-written with perfect pacing, very readable for families as a group after dinner or for pre-teens by themselves (girls and boys). No wonder Buddy has received so many accolades!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review: From Hoofbeats to Dogsteps (golden retriever, gait, structure, memoir)

From Hoofbeats to Dogsteps: A Life of Listening to and Learning from Animals, by Rachel Page Elliott (Dogwise, 2009, 167 pages, $19.95)

The Grand Dame of American Golden Retrievers

From Hoofbeats to Dogsteps says it all: a horse loving girl, born in 1913, grows up to become a canine motion and conformation expert, almost a research scientist, studying movement and structure in dogs, invited to speak all over the world, and a woman who took up agility in her 80s.

Almost a Sculptress

Pagey, Rachel Page Elliott, was a unique and highly respected dog lady. Although born, raised and a life-long resident of New England, she drove cross-country at age 18 with her sister Priscilla (Pike*) in a Ford Model A, and later worked horses on a Montana sheep ranch and at a camp in Utah, rounding out her college Cliffie (Radcliffe) education as a genuine person, not a Depression-era debutante from a loving and educated family (reminiscent of Little Women, even down to the towns in Massachusetts).

Nowhere else will you see Yellowstone as it was in 1930 – or the Pendleton Roundup.

Perhaps her early interest in soap carving was the impetus for her decades-long study of golden retriever breeding and anatomy. The Elliotts established Featherquest Kennels, still going strong today, specializing in field goldens.

Another hobby Pagey grew into was creating jig-saw puzzles. She would always include pieces that showed dogs in motion, dogs sitting, dogs and children, cats, birds, and puppies as well as the myriad usual jig-saw shapes. And, at the 2009 Golden Retriever National auction for the GR Foundation, one of Pagey’s puzzles brought in $27,000 and put her in the Guinness book of records.

They Bought the Farm (in 1946)

Pagey and her dentist husband bought an old fixer-upper farm in Massachusetts and lived there all their days – a farm just big enough to hold canine competitions.

Her studies began with taking photos of moving goldens, then movies of goldens moving. She managed to spend time at Harvard, using their resources to research bone and joint motion that was ground-breaking then and routinely accepted by all, now.

And thus, Dogsteps was born in 1973! The first edition was to go through eight printings and become a bestseller. The following year, the book won the Dog Writers’ Association award and Pagey was awarded the Gaines Dog Woman of the Year.

For You, If, . . . .

Hoofbeats is the book to read if you have known Rachel Page Elliott even from a distance like me, if you want to learn about your parents or grandparents born circa 1913 and growing up in New England or Wyoming or Montana or Oregon during the Depression, if you are a canine conformation person (dog show) – handler or breeder, if you are a Golden Retriever lover or have ever been to the National or even ‘just’ a local dog show or watched Westminster on TV.

On the other hand, Hoofbeats reads like a folksy old-fashioned letter from grandma rather than a spellbinding story of yesteryear by an accomplished author. Unlike Karen London, I loved reading about Pagey’s upbringing and felt the canine gait and structure chapters were a bit superficial – not detailed enough for this analytic soul, but I agree with London on the writing style.

The Biggest Omission

I can’t believe Pagey is not listed in Wikipedia. . . . she should be, for correcting the fallacy of the 45-degree layback!

Pagey’s Publications
1973 (3rd edition, 2009, soft cover), Dogsteps: A new look (and illustrated gait at a glance, 2nd edition, 1983)(New Dogsteps: A better understanding of dog gait through cineradiography [moving X-rays], 1st edition, 1973)
2005, Dogsteps DVD: What to look for in a dog
2005, Canine Cineradiography DVD: A study of bone and joint motion as seen through moving X-rays

2006, The Golden Retriever DVD: - Structure, movement and use
(all available from and recommended by the Golden Retriever Club of America [GRCA,])

*Another sister’s delightful name - Fordham, Fordie.