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Miss Destructive: Puppy On A Rampage

I don’t know about your puppy, but my 16-month-old terror, Lucy, has been on a binge of destruction, galloping like a wild Indian through my apartment, set upon chewing up anything she can get.

Yes, she has plenty of dog toys–an elk bone, a Nylabone, stuffed animals, kongs, rubber balls, torn socks–but why bother with those when she can eat Chinese grasscloth off the wall? Or my new sneakers? Or most recently, C A S H. Yes, I was in the bathtub reading a magazine and I heard Lucy contentedly chewing on something–which turned out to be my WALLET. Not only did she eat through the leather with gusto, but she also took $200 and efficiently tore the money in half with her nice white teeth.  By the time I got out of the tub, and almost broke my back slipping on the marble floor, she had my American Express card in her mouth, knawing on that as well.

She could be a custodian–as she also relishes going through the bathroom and kitchen waste baskets, excavating for watermelon rinds or used paper toweling. And when she can can work it into her schedule, a long doggie list of don’ts, she also has enjoyed eating through the silk backing of pillows. And in the evening, nothing makes her happier than finding Bazooka chewing gum. I recently found four pieces in her mouth, and she managed to blow a few bubbles.

Do you think she needs puppy Ritalin or Valium?

Mind you, while “her” room is untouched by chewing and totally intact with no damage done–her very own silk pillows still in pristine condition without a saliva stain on them–she doesn’t feel a bit of guilt about tearing into my space.

Today, she’s in “time out” in her room, stretched out on the beige couch, enjoying the air-conditioining, and watching the Food Channel, too hot to destroy anything else for the moment, but she will. The terrible twos really are pretty bad, but I’m hopeful that with proper

training, and lots of NO’s–she’ll understand that hers is a dog’s life, rather than my own.

All worn out and taking a nap after a rampage


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Incredible Cuteness: The Secrets To Socializing One New Puppy (And Me!)

Posted June 15th, 2010 in Cocker Spaniels, Dogs, Friendship, New Puppy, New York, Puppies, Socializing Dogs by Glenn Plaskin

In early May, when I brought home my new cocker spaniel puppy, Lucy, there was one thing I was determined to do–socialize her the right way!

Why? Because the first 16 weeks of a dog’s life are crucial–the window of time in our puppy’s lives that determines who they will become as adults, how they react to strangers young and old, kids, all kinds of dogs, and the environment in which they live.

For me, the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch of our little waterside community in Battery Park City–with its more than 700 dogs–is the perfect training ground for any puppy, a circus and dog show rolled into one.

In the Introduction of  KATIE UP AND DOWN THE HALL, I describe it this way:  “The Esplanade is jam-packed with bikers, joggers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, picnickers, volleyball and soccer players, and a cavalcade of baby carriages. This is Kid Central–with toddlers and school kids everywhere–their bikes, skateboards, frisbees, and kites filling the neighborhood with action.”

In short, it’s the ideal place to socialize a puppy, desensitizing a dog to all the stimulation of city life–traffic, garbage trucks, sirens, elevators, fountains, blaring music, fireworks, the sound of the waves, the hoofs of a police horse, golf carts, any and everything.

A neighborhood boy who can't get enough of Lucy

So, after four weeks on the job, Lucy isn’t bothered by any of it.  She loves watching the birds and squirrels and she doesn’t flinch at screaming babies or noisy kids. She’s intrigued by the grass and blowing leaves. And vitally important, she adores dogs of every shape and size. She rubs noses with majestic Great Danes and pint-sized pugs. She chases Golden retrievers and Labs. One German shephered in the neighborhood named Jake, renowned for his “singing,” croons to Lucy. She chases boxers, Yorkies, poodles, and Boston terriers.

Thinking back, there was a time when the heroine of my book, KATIE, was withdrawn from most other dogs, most interested in humans and I never understood why, until I read some articles about socializing dogs. Now I see that it was because I never actively exposed her to dogs during the first 16 weeks. So throughout her lifetime, she was somewhat aloof to all dogs except the few she knew.

So this time around, I am focused on making Lucy a bon vivant. Indeed, her social calendar is packed with people and dogs from morning to night during our 8 walks daily (until she gets a little older, this is my fate!)

I can tell you that she has been passed into the arms of countless strangers since she arrived here in the Battery. Anyone who stops to admire her incredible cuteness gets a hug and a kiss. She’s permiscuous to a fault and kisses anybody she meets. She’s had her picture taken with tourists lonesome for their own dogs; she crawls into baby strollers and snuggles with new-borns; she chases elementary school kids, attempting to undo their shoelaces; she tackles 90-pound dogs and playfully whacks them in the face with her paws, biting their ears. On one recent night, she found a huge dog and got a good grip with her mouth on his long bushy tail and wouldn’t let go! He gave her a wild ride, whirling around and around, and I’ve never seen her happier, her tongue hanging out with pleasure. The encounter ended with her putting her entire head in his mouth. Not a bruise.

Lucy and her boyfriend Stanley

And of course, she socializes daily with her “regulars,” our neighbor Mike and his pug Duchess, Brandon and his Bijon Frise Fred, Ben and his two Shih Tzus Mico and Sammy, Maria and her Wheaten terrier, Norma, and most important, Elisha and Raffi’s adorable dachshund STANLEY.

This has become a special connection. Lucy and Stanley, who both live on the same floor in our 35-story building, are in LOVE! Boyfriend and girlfriend, they adore adore each other and race up and down the hall just as Katie used to with blinding speed. Lucy is voracious for these whirwind runs. And when they play inside the apartment together, the action goes on for hours, until they both collapse for naps.

It gives ME such pleasure to see my puppy so happy, so healthy, so well-exercised and socialized.So while many dogs in our neighborhood are skittish and afraid of their canine compatriots, literally clueless about how to appropriately “play” with another dog, thankfully, my bouncy spaniel is filled with curiosity, eager to strut along the Esplanade–finding new canine pals wherever she goes–sniffing, licking, circling, jumping, racing around, eager to have some fun.

As for me, I’ve lost 12 pounds exercising. It just goes to show you what incredible cuteness can do for you.

And not least important, Lucy has helped socialize ME, as all dogs do. I’ve never had so many new human and canine friends. I’m virtually never alone when I’m outside, not for a minute. All kinds of people come up to me to talk and to pet my dog. Fellow dog owners have given me dog toys and books about training a puppy, late night visits for housebreaking tips, shared dinners out by the Hudson, you name it. One night, when I was in a panic about having bitten off more than I could chew training a puppy, two kind friends, Helen Lee, Mike and their pug, Duchess, stopped by to cheer me up and cheer me on. Who could ask for anything more? And it’s all because of one incredible cocker spaniel named LUCY.

For anyone who would like to meet Lucy in person, please join us on September 16 at Barnes & Noble Tribeca, a book signing for KATIE UP AND DOWN THE HALL, hosted by Liz Smith.

Incredible Cuteness

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An Unbeatable Technique For Losing Weight–Get A Puppy!

Posted May 20th, 2010 in Dogs, Friendship, New Puppy by Glenn Plaskin

Although the adventure with my new puppy started ten days ago, today is the first time I’ve written about Lucy, named after one of my all-time favorites, Lucille Ball.

Why has it taken me so long? Because I was so overwhelmed, and at times panicked, by Lucy’s homecoming and the challenges of taking care of a 10-week-old cocker spaniel puppy–that I admit to seriously contemplating returning her! (Whew, but I didn’t.)

For me, the transition really shook up my world. I guess it’s because I haven’t had a dog for eight years, not since Katie–the star of my upcoming book, KATIE UP AND DOWN THE HALL. So I was out of shape, but no longer. The dining room has been completely given over to her large play pen and kennel and the house is littered with every kind of chewy and plush toy you can imagine.

After just a few days, Lucy’s puppiness–her contagious energy, those big brown eyes, her astute intelligence, and that puppy smell–completely won me over. She is the most outgoing, confident dog I’ve known, completely comfortable with anyone. You can hang her upside down and she’s happy, extroverted and ready to play with adults, kids, and most importantly, other dogs.

The other night there she was, weighing in at six pounds, wrestling assertively with a 92-pound bushy-haired giant (I don’t even know the breed) who loves puppies. Eating them? I wasn’t sure.

But Lucy didn’t have a care in the world. She grabbed onto his bushy tail and went for a ride–never letting go until she was left with a mouthful of fur. Then she put her entire head into his mouth before biting his ear and chasing him around the lobby of our apartment building.

She also has a Wheaten terrier friend named Norma and a Dachshund named Stanley, both regular play dates.

She also loves kids, and over the weekend, she met a little boy in Greenwich Village, pictured below, his smile telling you the entire story about the joy that a puppy can give, to anybody, anywhere, at anytime.

Lucy is making her debut on May 26th at Book Expo America, where I’ll be signing autographs for KATIE UP AND DOWN THE HALL.

I hope you’ll drop by at 1 pm to say hello. You can ignore me–but you’ll never get away from the Hachette Book Group USA’S booth without getting a lick from Lucy.

And for the first 100 people who come by, there will be special dark chocolate treats shaped into dog bones–bad for dogs, good for people. See you there!

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A Puppy On The Move

Posted April 27th, 2010 in Dogs, Katie, New Puppy, Reflections by Glenn Plaskin
Katie in her Minnie Mouse Shirt

Katie in her Minnie Mouse Shirt

Years ago, when I got my first dog, Katie—the star of my upcoming book Katie Up and Down the Hall—I never actually saw her until she was three months old.

She appeared one day, as I describe in the book, fresh from the farm in New Jersey, and though she seemed rather shy and ungainly at first, almost pitiful in appearance, I loved her immediately and the rest was history.

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