Archive for the ‘Sparky’ Category

So occasionally I take Sparky to a local cemetery and let him run around a little, just to get some exercise and fresh air. Of course I pick up after him and to be safe I put his leash on if another person comes close to us with their own dog, but usually it’s just a relaxing time for him to smell the smells and hang out with me.


The other day? Not so much.

You see, I parked in our usual spot, unleashed The Spark, and of course he leaped out if the car to do his thing. He sniffed around, going from tree to tombstone to crypt, tail wagging with that dog-smile on his face.

But then . . .

As I watched he stopped, stood still, his ears perked up, and off he went like a Jack out of Hell. He bolted over a slight rise and down the other side, snarling like a dog possessed.

I gave chase, calling for him to come back, but as I reached the top of the small hill I saw what Spark was heading for.

A burial.

In progress.

With people standing around solemnly listening to the preacher’s final words in honor of the deceased.

Oh good Lord.

I still have no idea what Spark was so upset about. All I know is that there I was, in a t-shirt, basketball shorts and sandals, sort of whisper-yelling for my dog to get the hell back to me as about 50-sets of grieving eyes stared at me.


All I could do was mumble a “I’m so sorry” several times as I scooped up my furry ball of terror and speed walked back over the hill to my car. Oh, and just before we disappeared Sparky gave one last yap at whatever the hell he was so upset about.

Me? I didn’t look back.

According to a French study of social interactions, men who approach a single woman on the street will get her phone number one out of 10 times. If the same guy approaches women while walking a dog his odds go to one in three times. The research says that a man with a dog signals that he has the resources and the willingness to care for others.

Grab a pencil, kids. Ready? December 3rd. That is my birthday. Still plenty of time to order my present. Thank you and goodnight.

Dogs, man.

[for the love of God click and scroll]

Enjoy. Descriptions not required. Click and scroll.

Dogs can smell their owners from up to 11-miles away.


Those who have read this site regularly over the past 6-years know well of the exploits of my beloved Sparky. The little guy has battled coyotes,  a horse-fly, sweepers, hobos, stingrays, the list is a long one. Little dude would battle a lion for me if he thought I was in danger.

Which brings me to his latest heroics.

This morning I let him out for a bit, then brought him back in to give him breakfast. Spark trotted off to the kitchen for a drink, and I stood there for a minute to turn on the TV. It was then I thought I felt something on my neck, but I reached up and nothing was there. I just figured it was a thread on my shirt or something and forgot about it. However, about a minute later I felt something on my left hand. I glanced down and to my horror, there on the back of my hand, was a spider the size of a golf ball. It was just sitting there looking up at me with its 12 damn eyes. I swear to God it was all swollen up like one of those you see on a YouTube video that people step on and a million little spiders come crawling out. Just horrifying, man.

We locked eyes for what seemed like an eternity, and at that point I may or may not have shrieked like a 9-year old girl. Then I violently shook my hand, trying to shake the monster off of me. It disappeared, but then a God-awful thing occurred – the beast was attached by a web strand and bounced right back at me. First it landed back on my chest, and I knocked it off. Then it dropped about halfway to the ground and snapped right back up at me, right towards my face. Luckily I batted it away, but it popped right back at me again like a freakin’ 8-legged yo-yo. The web was a like a rubber band I tell ya. It was an absolute nightmare come to life. .

Enter the Spark.

My best friend, who’d been in the kitchen getting a drink, had heard his buddy wailing away like a madman in the living room. He came bursting around the corner like a canine possessed, assessed the situation in about .3 seconds, and went into action. Before the fiend could launch another attack, land on my neck and administer a life-threatening bite, he met his match. Spark leapt up, grabbed it, and whipped it away. Hey, that web was strong but it was no match for the Spark’s fangs.

After he tossed it aside he immediately turned and found it on the floor, picked it up, and tossed it again. This happened 2 or 3 times. Now you know the Spark is smart, so what he did next shouldn’t surprise you. I opened the door, and he instinctively picked the monster up, ran outside and whipped it away into oblivion.

I actually went out and looked for it, but the demon was nowhere to be found. In my mind it’s still out there, planning its next attack.

Better think again, spider mutant. The Spark will be waiting.

PS- I swear Sparky knew not to actually bite the thing. He would sort of pick it up with his teeth and whip it away quickly. Spark, man.

Check out those eyes. Sparky knows things.

USA Today: New research finds dogs are far brainier than cats, with more than twice as many neurons in their cerebral cortexes. Dogs were also found to be more loyal, compassionate, loving and obedient.

OK, I added that second sentence myself. That doesn’t make it untrue though. Listen, anyone that this news surprises is an idiot. Of course dogs are smarter than cats. Ever see a cat lead a lost child out of the forest? Didn’t think so. When you come home a dog greets you at the door with his tail wagging. Cats? They stay upstairs planning on ways to murder you in your sleep. Dogs every day, every way.

So I’m down at my parent’s house yesterday and my mother accidentally let her little poodle Jack out the back door. Jack immediately makes a run for it across the yard, the fields, and into the snake, bobcat and coyote inhabited woods behind their place. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little but believe me when I tell you that Jack would not fare well in the wilderness. Little bro has been raised by my 90-year old parents and would probably be overtaken and eaten by a colony of rabbits or something. Anywho, Jack had vamoosed. Scrammed. Hightailed it for parts unknown. He was gone.

At the time I was standing by the door talking to Mom and The Spark was out in the Jeep, where I’d left him earlier. Mom was a little panic-stricken, so I ran to the Jeep, let Spark out, and yelled, “Spark! Go get Jack!”

Honestly, I have no idea why I did it other than it seemed a good option at the time. I’ve seen Sparky do too many amazing things to doubt him.

At that point The Spark springs out of the Jeep, ears up, and makes a quick inventory of his surroundings. Then he bolts, nose to the ground, zig-zagging across their backyard as I gave chase.

Even with my impressive foot speed I couldn’t keep up, and the last thing I saw was Spark go halfway across the bridge over their lake, make a u-turn, and sprint towards the back part of their property and to the woods beyond.

All I could do was walk briskly towards where Sparky had gone, and for a couple minutes all was quiet. Finally I stopped and listened, but I heard nothing.

And then . . .

In the distance, bursting through the bush, here they came. Jack, with Spark close behind, headed my way. I swear to you that Sparky was herding Jack like a cow or sheep or something. Every time Jack tried to veer off or turn back, Sparky would give him a body bump or an occasional nip to keep him headed in the right direction.

Sparky continued this until Jack was basically corralled directly into my awaiting arms, at which point my flabbergasted mother met me with a leash so she could take Jack back inside.

Of course, my buddy proceeded to receive a ton of attention from both my parents, with ear rubs and plenty of “good boys” all-around. Spark, of course, acted like it was just another day at the office, even though he’d never rescued a poodle in his life.

Sparky, man. He never ceases to amaze me.

So here’s the latest. I was at a local shopping mall today when I had to run into a store to look for something. As always The Spark was with me, so I left the windows down 4-5 inches to keep him cool. I know, I know, it still gets hot but I’m never gone more than 10-minutes so he’s fine. Plus, I remote start the car when it’s necessary. Chillax.

Anyway, after a short jaunt in and out of the store I return to my jeep. I climb in and immediately see this on the passenger side seat:


Da hell? Did somebody recognize my jeep and leave me one of those Grabber Claws as a present? Was somebody just messing around? Then it hit me – I’d left my iPhone on the console between the seats. Seems a thief had attempted to reach in and grab my personal property with the claw thingy.

My guess is the bandit was either scared witless as my fierce defender lept from the backseat and dropped his burgle tool in horror or Sparky actually leaped up and grabbed the damn claw from burglar boy’s larcenous hands. Trust me, if Spark got hold of the claw he would not let go. Of that I am 100% certain.

Anyhoo, bottom line? My possessions remain mine and I in fact have a handy-dandy Grabber Claw with which to play.

Atta boy, Spark.

Not on my watch, ya filthy crook.

Not on my watch, ya filthy crook.

Sparky’s hatred of all things feathered has been well documented on this site. Y’all are familiar with Sparky5 his banishment from the Commonwealth of Kentucky for a chicken massacre that he may or may not have been involved in. For the record, Spark still steadfastly denies any involvement and I believe him.

Yes, the first thing Sparky does when we leave the house is scan the friendly skies, but I’m sure he’s just checking the weather. And just because he can spot a buzzard 300-feet in the air and chase it half a mile up Twin Road means nothing. And he does love chicken nuggets, but who doesn’t? Oh, and he’s terrified of slippery surfaces but thinks nothing of sprinting across the ice on my parent’s lake in pursuit of a duck or goose. And there was that little incident in Petland when he tried to scale the wall of the little exotic bird sanctuary, but I’m pretty sure they were taunting him. And I’m sure this is neither here nor there, but he once tried to attack a 7-year old kid on the beach who was pretending to be a pterodactyl.

Anywho, that’s all circumstantial evidence, correct?

Which brings me to the Spark’s latest adventures in birdhunting. You see, in my back yard is a massive stand of bamboo. Family legend has it that one of my cousins brought it back from Puerto Rico in the 60’s and gave it to dad. Dad planted it, thinking it wouldn’t have much of a chance in the Ohio climate, which was dead-wrong. That stuff has been growing and trying to spread ever since. It’s thick as hell and 20-feet high at least. The whole stand is probably 30 x 40-feet wide.

Anyway, turns out that bamboo makes an awesome bird sanctuary, even in winter. Guess who has noticed? Yep. The one and only Avian Avenger himself.

It all began when Spark realized he could raise havoc by running around the perimeter of the bamboo, causing a few birds within to take flight. A couple weeks ago, however, he took things up a notch. To my surprise he barreled headlong like a bat out of hell  into the bamboo, yapping like a canine banshee from the netherworld. Keep in mind this stuff grows a few inches apart and is as thick as hell, so I’ve no earthly idea how he made it through without slamming into a stalk or three. All I know is he disappeared into the void and all hell broke loose. I heard a mixture of hellish barking, the loud rustling of bamboo and the terrified shrieks of hundreds of birds before they flew to the heavens, trying to escape the hellhound that is Sparky.

Long story short, every time I let my pooch out the back door we go through the same ritual. Spark leaves house, Spark attacks bamboo stand, 1000 terrified birds fly to the heavens, Spark struts back to me as proud as a peacock.

Good Lord.

Note: Sparky also hates my feather duster, so there’s that.

Note 2: Yes, I have a feather duster. Deal with it.


Scanning the perimeter for seagulls.

So I got Sparky a little over a month ago, and since that time we’ve been together constantly. We travelled down to Oak Island, up the coast to the Outer Banks, and back home in a little 10-day excursion. When we’ve been home he pretty much goes with me everywhere, except when it’s going to be too hot and he can’t stay in the car. And you know, when you spend a lot of time with somebody you learn a lot about them. Here are a few things I’ve learned about Sparky so far.

Sparky hates things that fly. As a matter of fact if you were to believe his accusers he hates anything with wings, as he may or may not have been involved in a chicken massacre back in his hometown. But that’s neither here nor there. Details are unclear and nothing was proven. Still, I do know with certainty that in a little over a month since I’ve had him, Sparky has gone after seagulls, sandpipers, sparrows, gnats, flies, crows, moths,  mosquitoes, my mom’s parakeet, an entire cage of assorted birds at PetCo, and a kid on the beach pretending to be an airplane. What’s interesting is that he can take or leave a cat, he doesn’t really give a damn. If it has wings, though, he’s going after it with murderous intent.

Sparky will chase anything that runs. O.K., remember what I just said about cats? That’s true . . . unless they run. Same for rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, or rhinoceroses. Size is of no consequence. If you run you will be pursued. Seriously, if an animal just sits there he’ll pay it no mind. If it runs? All hell breaks loose. The chase is on, and something must die. Now.

Note to self: Don’t take Sparky to track meets.

On Hobo Watch.

Sparky hates hobos. Regular people he has no problem with. But you know those guys who stand by the road out at WalMart with the signs begging for money? Sparky has no tolerance for those dudes. I had the window down as I cruised by one of them and thank God I had his leash on because Sparky went for it. And when I say “it” I mean the jugular. He lunged right out the window at the guy, and I thought for a second he was going for the sign, but then to my horror I realized he was going for the throat. Luckily I pulled him back in before blood was spilled. Either Sparky hates hobos or the guy smelled like chicken.

Sparky would rather jump than walk, always. I have a couch and a chair that are about 5-feet apart. If Sparky is on the couch and I am on the chair he invariably attempts the leap to get to me rather than simply hop down and trot over. Walk around a 4-foot wall? No way. Spark’s going over the top, and more often that not he makes it. In addition, if he wants something he’ll do a series of vertical pogo jumps straight up and down, practically looking me in the eye at his apex. Dude has a helluva set of hops.

Sparky has the reflexes of a mongoose. Well, at least when I throw cheese balls at him. You know, the little cheese puff balls you get in those industrial size plastic jars. I tell him to get on a chair, say “stay”, back away about 20-feet, and fire away. I’m telling you I can’t get a cheese ball by him. For fun I’ll lob some pop-ups for awhile, then just zip a line-drive at him for a change of pace.  He never misses. I’d say he has a 99.2% field percentage. Amazing.

And oh, you may want to avoid rushing towards me. Sparky gets a little tense when I’m approached in a hasty way. He perceives it as a threat to his best friend. Rush at him? No problem. Rush at me? Problem. He gets j-u-s-t a little protective. You’ll see a lot of growling and showing of teeth and whatnot. So, fair warning, approach respectfully and you’ll be treated thusly. You may even want to bow or even go to one knee first. Just a suggestion. And you know, it’s about time somebody understood the respect with which I should be treated.

Thanks Sparky.

So I ran into The Krog yesterday to pick up some necessities. When I go SparkyCargrocery shopping one thing is a constant – I never make the right choice for carrying everything I buy. If I take nothing I inevitably need a basket. If I choose a basket I should’ve taken a shopping cart. Because of this I’m constantly overloading and dropping stuff on the floor, much to the consternation of Kroger employees. Today I chose a basket and it was so full I dropped a 2-liter bottle of pop, twice. I’d filled the basket to the brim so I had the pop under my arm, hence the droppage. After that I dropped a big bottle of Listerine and in the process scared the bejesus out of an old woman in front of me. Bottom line, I always underestimate what I’m about to buy.

On a related note, because I refuse to make more than one trip from Jeep to house I’m pretty sure I’m the world record holder for amount of grocery bags carried at one time. My personal best is 15, so beat that suckers.

But on to the point of this blog. Like I said, I grabbed some necessities and when I brought them back to the Jeep Sparky was unusually interested in the grocery bags. He was sniffing and whimpering like a live chicken was in one of the bags or something. While he was a little over the top, I just assumed he was smelling his beloved Cheesehead Lite All-Natural String Cheese*, a noted Spark favorite.

*Sparky’s on a diet but doesn’t know it. Keep that between us.

This behavior continued when I got home, to the point of becoming annoying. He was doing his famous Sparky dance, hopping on his hind legs while waving his front paws at me like a lunatic. It was when I put the grocery bags on the floor that everything became clear. Spark reached in and grabbed his target with the speed of a mongoose, making off with it and running into the bedroom.

Was it the cheese? The lunch meat? Hell nah. It was a menacing, life-threatening item I’d purchased in the cleaning aisle. It was a dreaded, evil feather duster.

Spark had snatched the offending beast in his jaws and carried it to the bedroom in the blink of an eye, attacking it with a vengeance heretofore only seen when a fat kid consumed a carnival corn dog.

After a short battle I wrestled the monster away from him and tucked it safely in a closet, only to watch Spark paw at the bottom of the door until I lured him away with a cheese doodle.

What can I say? It had to be the feathers. Sparky’s hatred for feathered-creatures has been well-documented, and perhaps he detected the scent of a peacock or something.

Yep, somewhere in Sparky’s past he must have had a historic confrontation with some pterodactyl-like beast, or perhaps a canary.

But man, does Sparky hate anything with wings or feathers.

Note: Yes, I bought a feather duster. Deal with it.


SparkLogoThis evening I had the scare of my life. Sparky had a scrap with a coyote. You heard that right – a COYOTE. Here’s what happened . . .

Spark and I like to walk up around the new housing development north of Bourneville, across from the graveyard. There are only two houses there so far, but the street circles off of Twin Road and connects back with it again, so it makes for a nice evening walk. I never have him on a leash when we go there, since Sparky is generally well-behaved. Well, unless he sees a squirrel or something with feathers. Other animals, like other dogs or a cat, don’t usually illicit much interest.

So around 6:00 this evening we’re on the back side of the development, enjoying the nice weather. I have a long walking stick in case we’d run into a groundhog or something, as you never know for certain how my pooch could react to something unusual.

It’s not odd for Sparky to go darting into the fields around my house if he sees something of interest, so it wasn’t a big deal when Spark stopped and perked up his ears.

Then, however, the growling began. I’d heard it before, most notably the night we thought somebody was trying to get into our back door.

I followed Sparky’s sightline back into the woods, and just over the crest of a hill, about 30-yards away, I saw it – the head of a coyote, staring at us.

What the hell, didn’t they wait until dark to go out hunting?

Before I could grab him, Sparky made his charge. All I could think of was stories I’d read of one coyote acting as bait, luring another animal into a trap, a pack of coyotes. I mean, Spark is one tough hombre, but I could see he might be getting in a little over his head here.

Bottom line, I was terrified. Sparky was way ahead of me and I couldn’t see the coyote any more. I just ran as fast as I could after my best friend, yelling for him to come back:




I burst through some underbrush into a clearing and stopped. It was eerily quiet, and for a second I didn’t know which way to go. Then, to my left I heard it – barking and growling, the obvious noises of a fight. I knew that one of the voices I heard was Sparky’s, and I headed that way. I swear to God I expected to find him being torn to shreds by a pack of snarling coyotes.

Instead, when I got to where I thought I’d heard the fight there was nothing. Again, it was oddly quiet. I stood there, desperately trying to hear something, anything.


After the scrap. He really looks worried, doesn’t he?

Silence. I thought I’d lost him for good. I was near tears, man. I couldn’t lose The Spark, I just couldn’t.

Except then, strutting out of the brush like he’d just saved my life, was my pint-sized, fearless friend.

Then he rolled over for a belly-rub.

Ain’t no thing, Dad. Just went to war with a Hound from Hell. What’s for dinner?

I picked him up and gave him a thorough going over, checking for bites or scratches. Alas, nothing. He was fine.

And I was too relieved to even be mad at him.

But boy, did he scare the hell out of me.

Life with Sparky. It is never, ever boring.

Don’t let the shy look fool you.

So I’m on my way to the bank after school yesterday, just cruising down West Main minding my own business and enjoying the beautiful weather. I had the passenger window down so The Spark could stick his head out, sniff the air, and bark at birds and hobos. After his going airborn incident a few weeks ago I thought it would be prudent to wrap his leash around the gearshift. You know, in case he spotted another squirrel or something.  Anyway, as I approach the Gazette Building I notice an attractive, nicely dressed middle-aged woman leaving and coming around the front of her parked car. She was wearing one of those power suits, really dressed for success and all. She had a briefcase in one hand, a bag slung over the other shoulder, and she was holding with both hands what looked like a stack of papers on a clipboard in front of her.

You know how the lanes on West Main are a little tight, right? Because of this I was sort of close to her car so she had to wait for me to pass, and as I approached I got a stone cold stare that seemed to ask, “What, you can’t stop for a lady, you low-life male chauvinist scumbag turd?” The answer was I probably could have, but hey, I wasn’t really paying that close attention.

By the way, you know exactly where this is heading, don’t you?

What happened next is really sort of hard to describe. In my mind Sparky saw the smug look on the woman’s face and was simply doing what I would have done. You know, if I were a dog. Anyway, to say he barked at her doesn’t come close to what actually happened. As we passed her, very closely I might add, he leaped as far as his leash would let him while emitting a feral, ferocious and terrifying combination snarl/roar/howl. For a horrifying second I thought he got a piece of her throat or maybe her nose, but by the grace of God he air-snapped. Then I looked in my sideview mirror and saw a bunch papers floating from the heavens and onto the street. I swear it looked like 9/11 back there, sheets just fluttering everywhere.

And there, in the midst of the document shower stood an angry businesswoman, hands on hips, glaring at my departing car and the savage canine contained within.

Sparky? He was wagging his tail and smiling at me like, “Heh-heh. Got her good, didn’t I dad?”

Oh yeah, Spark. You got her alright. Good.

I probably should have rounded the block and gone back to apologize, but the look on the woman’s face told me that might not be a good idea. I turned on Paint Street and finally hit a light, just sitting there shaking my head at my crazy-ass but extremely loyal and lovable dog. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see a guy pull up beside me. It’s a 30 ish dude and there are tears in his eyes from laughing. He pounds the steering wheel and says, “That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a woman in heels jump that high in my life! Papers everywhere! I gotta get me a dog like that!”

Sorry buddy, but you can’t. There’s only one dog like that, and I got him.

Just another day in my life with Sparky.

Several times over the past few months people have made the comment that my lovable little best friend is spoiled.


He’s laughing at me.

Sparky? Spoiled? I say hogwash! Balderdash! Poppycock! Horsefeathers! No way my Spark is spoiled.

However, a few facts have been pointed out to me over the past few months that might, just might, be construed as the Spoiling of The Spark. To wit:

  • Sparky has a bed in my living room. This is in no way abnormal, is it? Every dog needs a bed to curl up on in front of the fireplace.
  • Sparky has another bed in the living room. Well, this one’s on a chair, but sometimes he gets tired of being on the floor, ya know? And besides, he can see out the window from the chair. Gotta keep an eye out for birds. Or a wayward chicken.
  • Sparky has a bed in the car. So he has a bed on the backseat. Big deal. He needs to be comfortable when he’s waiting on me to get back from whatever important mission I’m undertaking. It’s the least I can do for him. Plus it’s one of those high ones that allows him to search for hobos in which to kill.
  • Sparky has a bed in my bedroom. There are times, my friends, when a pooch needs quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle of the living room. Therein lies the need for a bed in the bedroom. That’s just Dogs 101, people.
  • Sparky has a bed on my bed.  Hey, it was a bed from the crate he came in, and The Spark don’t do crates no mo’. No way I could throw it out. You know, sentimental value and whatnot.

In addition, I have been reminded that I have been known to drive into town to buy him Chicken McNuggets. Perhaps this could be construed as overzealous on my part. I’m sorry, but the closest McDonald’s is there, so what would you suggest I do? From time-to-time, Spark needs his chicken fix.

Some might point out that, for dinner, The Spark gets a special blend of Beneful Savory Rice & Lamb Stew and Simply Nourish Chicken & Pasta, mixed with some Beneful Healthy Weight Moist and Chewy Chunks. After much experimentation, Sparky and I have determined this to be his favorite recipe. So shoot me.

And can a dog have too many toys? I think not. Sparky has his Loofa Dog, Squeaky Duck, Roadkill Billy, Mr. Flappy, Mr. Hedgehog, Flat Rabbit, Octopus, Mr. Purple and his One-legged Santa Claus, among others. He also has a Hol-ee Roller Ball, a Kong Dental Stick, a Nylabone Crazy Ball, a Busy Buddy Tug-a-Jug and a Rhino Stuff & Chew, but that’s nether here nor there. Because hey, he plays with them all, depending on the mood. And believe me, Sparky is a complex canine, a mutt of many moods if you will.

So other than what I just told you and a few hundred more, I can think of no other examples of Sparky being spoiled.

So like I said, Sparky spoiled? What a ridiculous thought.

P.S. – After re-reading all of the above I have to admit something. Damn, have I spoiled my dog.

P.S.S. – He’s worth it.

The Scout Duck

Posted: January 30, 2016 in Animals, Inspiration, Nature, Sparky

So I paid a visit to my parent’s house the other day and decided to sit out on their deck for a1 bit. It was a beautiful day and I was just relaxing and taking in the beautiful scenery. The deck overlooks a small lake, there are hills in the background, it’s just a nice place to sit and chill.

Sparky was being his usual curious self, sniffing around for stuff and hoping to catch a glimpse of a squirrel or, better yet, something with feathers.

I had my feet up, just taking in the sun, when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was a lone duck, coming over the hill to the south. As I watched, he circled the lake a couple times and then did one of those cool duck water landings in the middle of the lake.

I noticed he had a feather that was sort of sticking up on the back of his head, like it was ruffled or something. I must say he was a rather unique looking duck.

As I watched the duck did a perimeter paddle, encircling the entire lake twice, apparently looking for a place to chillax on the bank. Finally he waddled up on a wide expanse of grass on the lakeside opposite me, maybe because it was a nice flat space or quite possibly because he wanted to put the lake between himself and a certain 4-legged canine now watching attentively from his perch on my lap.

Spark, in the meantime, was calculating his chances of diving in, executing a surprise attack, and having a North American Mallard for lunch.

After a few minutes of sun bathing, the duck hopped back into the lake, did one more cruise around the shore, and took off in the direction from whence he came, south over the hill.

I know nothing about ducks, so I figured he lived nearby and had just stopped in for a quick visit. Like I said, I’m clueless where ducks are concerned. Spark was just pissed he never got a clean shot at the perceived winged-demon.

And then it happened.

From over the hill where the duck had disappeared I saw shapes, flying in that familiar V-shape. It was an entire flock of ducks, 18 of them. They then proceeded to execute the same circling and landing on the lake that I’d witnessed a few minutes before. After paddling around the lake for awhile, they all waddled up onto the same spot where the original, lone duck had rested.

And who do you think led the flock over the hill, onto the lake and up onto the bank?

Yep, the original scout duck who’d checked out the lake, presumably in advance and for the rest of his posse. He’d come, he’d scouted it out, he’d gone back to get them, and he’d brought them back.

Who knew there were Scout Ducks? Not I. Possibly this revelation is common knowledge to southern Ohioans, but I was amazed.

Bottom line? Nature is cool. And so are ducks.


Not Sparky, but there’s a striking resemblance.

Well, this was terrifying.

So I’m sleeping like a baby the other night when I’m dragged slowly from the Land of Nod by a noise. It was a low, growling sound, sounding like a panther as it eyes its prey. I sat up and glanced at the clock.

3:17 A.M.

Damn it, it’s always between 3:00 am and 3:30 am when weird things happen at my house.

Only then did I realize the noise I’d heard was Sparky. There he was, standing at the foot of the bed, growling, and staring at the doorway . . . and the dark hallway beyond.

That’ll wake a man up fairly quickly.

For a few seconds I did the same thing. Stare I mean. Growling would’ve just been weird. Anyway, I have a little sensor light by the backdoor inside the kitchen because I often have to let a certain 4-legged furball out in the pre-dawn hours. As Spark is growling and I’m staring into the darkened hallway, that light comes on.

From two rooms away.

For a few seconds I was indecisive. Sparky? Not so much. He sprung into action like a Hound from Hell, leaping off the bed and tearing towards the kitchen. Whatever, or whoever, is out there is in for a bloodbath. I grab a Civil War era bayonet off the wall by my bed and follow. As Spark makes his charge he’s emitting a noise I’ve never heard from him before. He’s barking, but it’s a deeper, more feral sound, mixed with a growl, really frightening.

I swear to God, at this point I was 100% sure somebody was in our kitchen.

I also thought he’d picked the wrong house, because he was about to meet 22-pounds of pissed-off territory protecting terrier who happens to jump like a pogo stick and has a penchant for going for the throat (just ask that homeless dude out by Walmart). Not to mention the 225-pound guy with the bayonet that was coming, not so much to engage in combat (I’d prefer he run), but there was no way he was going to hurt my best friend.

Long story short, unless burglar dude had a gun he was in for a soul and larynx crushing defeat.

So I follow, through the hallway and back bedroom, into the kitchen. The whole sequence, from waking up to getting to the kitchen, probably took no more than 30-seconds. But when I got to the kitchen Sparky was there, going crazy and pawing at the backdoor. No intruder in sight. I checked the door and it was locked.


I then did a quick search of the house, including the basement. Nothing. In the meantime, Spark was doing a search himself, behind chairs, under tables, still growling all the while. After we were convinced we were alone, I figured it would be a good idea to take him out for a quick look around the yard.

Other than dogs barking a block over, nothing. Still, dogs were barking . . .

Did somebody try to get in? Did Sparky hear the doorknob rattle? Could that have made the sensor come on? Was it nothing at all? Whatever it was, suffice it to say it took me awhile to fall back asleep, but I eventually did.

Sparky? He lay by my bedroom door, head on paws, watching. I tried to get him to come up with me on the bed, but he would have none of it. He was still there when my alarm went off at 6:00 A.M.

Man’s best friend? Damn straight.

Sparky and his beloved Loofa Dog.

This is the latest in a hopefully long series about Sparky, my Jack Russell Terrier who is with me as a result of some carnage involving chickens down in Kentucky. For the record, Spark has steadfastly denied involvement. Poultry bloodbath aside, the little canine dynamo has been a godsend and, as such, changed my life as I knew it.

A lot of dogs hate sweepers, I know that. But my sweeper, at least according to Sparky, is the Life Sucking Toy Stealing Food Grabbing Water Burgling Raging Beast from The Netherworld. You see, when I get the sweeper out all hell breaks loose. Sparky goes into attack mode, with a dash of SWAT Team tossed in for good measure. As I sweep, the sweeper is repeatedly assailed from different angles. Spark seems to enjoy going for the wheels in particular. He seems to know that if he disables the wheels the horrific entity will be rendered nonfunctional. Sparky hates the wheels.

But here’s the thing. In between these dive-bomb kamikaze blitzes are periodic raids to save all that is Sparky’s. First, a buzz-through to grab his beloved Loofa Dog from the bed. The Loofa is always first. This is accomplished by vaulting over the sweeper (this is completely unnecessary, he totally goes out of his way to do this), bounding on the bed, grabbing the Loofa, springing back off the bed (twice as far as he needs to bound by the way), back over the sweeper (again unnecessarily) before escaping into the living room where the precious Loofa Dog is tucked under a pillow on the couch. Can’t let the Deadly Sweeper Fiend from Hell suck the Loofa into its Jaws of Death, now can we? This process is repeated with his other favorite toy, the Squeaky Duck, as well as various tennis balls, pull toys, an unfinished nylabone, a pine cone he brought in from the yard, and a pair of my boxers I’d left on the bed. Thanks Spark.

But yesterday Sparky took this ritual to a new level. After he’d extricated his possessions (and one of mine) from harm and certain destruction, he grabbed his food dish and took it into the living room, where it was then placed safely behind a chair. What he did next, however, surprised even me. He has one of those gallon water jugs that filters water into his bowl, which usually lasts a few days. I glance over and he’s trying to drag it into the next room. No way the monster was going to deprive Sparky of his water. There was also no way was he going to pull that off without major spillage so I had to make an executive decision and exert my power as Head of the House.

I shut down his act. Regretfully.

Actually it was so cute to watch I felt sorry for him and moved it for him, but that’s neither here nor there. My best friend is completely spoiled not spoiled.

So as you can see, cleaning the house at my place is not as mundane a process as it is in other households. It is, in fact, a blur of furry fury.


I can’t remember what life was like without him. Thank God he killed those chickens.


Seriously. He told me.

Listen, I expect approximately 9-people who read this to believe me, and those are all dog-loving freaks such as myself. I could literally name the people right now who will respond and say as much. As for the rest of you, I know you’ll think I’m out of my mind, and I won’t blame you a bit.

As anyone who lives alone with a dog can tell you, after awhile you begin treating your dog like a human. By the way, is that an oxymoron or what? You can’t live alone if you have a dog. Anyway, most of the stuff is normal, like, “Do you want to go outside?” or “Do you want a treat?” You know, regular  things you say to a dog.

However, when it’s just you and the dog I think you sort of take your communication up a notch.

For instance, I’ve actually made the following comments to Sparky with a straight face:

“Stay here Spark. I’m going to go throw a load in the washer.”

“Spark, can give me your thoughts on the European Debt Crisis?”

“Well, what did you think, Spark? Should I ask her out again?”

You know, stuff like that. I respect Spark’s opinion, especially regarding that last one.

Keep this in mind as I recount my latest Sparky Experience. This morning I was in the bedroom getting dressed. The TV was on, a commercial came on that for some reason reminded me of Christmas. Just making conversation, I said, “Christmas is in a couple weeks Spark. What do you want this year?”

Sparky then looks at me, cocks his head, and runs over to a basket on the other side of the room where we keep his toys. Then he digs to the bottom and pulls something out. The next thing I see in front of me is this:


Look into those eyes. Spark knows.

That’s the squeaky snowman I gave Spark for Christmas last year. This actually happened. I just sat there with my mouth open, looking at him.

Like I said, he told me what he wants for Christmas.

I know there are a lot of people who scoff at us dog lovers and our stories of how smart our pooches are, but I’d like one of the skeptics to step up and explain this one. Did the word “Christmas” set off something in his brain? Had to, right? Somehow, he made the connection.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do some Christmas shopping.

Spark, why ya gotta be so mean?


Seagull spotted.

Listen, The Spark is a good dog. He’s never nipped at anybody (well, if you don’t count the hobos he’s lunged at from the car window). That said, there are some things he doesn’t care for. Much of it has been well-documented on this site. Just type “Sparky” in that little search box on the left to read about his antics and adventures.

Anyway, it’s been over 5-years since I first laid eyes on my best friend, so I thought I’d list his Top 10 dislikes, from 1 being “pure hatred” to 10 being “regular hatred”. OK, maybe he purely hates them all. In any event, here ya go . . .

10. Drive -Thru Window Workers

It’s gotten to the point where I dread going thru drive-thrus. I’m pretty sure Spark made a CVS Pharmacy Tech wet his pants the other day. Here’s the thing. Sparky knows when I’m approaching a drive-thru so he lurks in the backseat. Then, when the person comes to the window, he makes his move, coming over my left shoulder like a furball from hell. Seriously, I witnessed a 42-year old man shriek like an 11-year old girl at a Bieber concert the other day. You ever apologize to a guy whose shaking with tears in his eyes while handing you a Nexium prescription? Awkward.

Update: Spark has improved in this area, probably because he now knows these windows sometime provide him with chicken nuggets and other delicacies.

9.  Women in Power Suits

You know, I rate this at #9 because I don’t know if it was the Power Suit or the fact the woman was near his window. I just know he scared the bejesus out of her that day and may have committed an atrocity had I not stopped him. If you didn’t read the sordid details, here ya go. Be warned – it ain’t pretty.

Update: I now know it’s not the suit that bothers my best friend, but rather the person in it. Sparky can see a jackass a mile away. Spark hates pretentiousness too.

8. Thunder/Fireworks

Let’s be perfectly clear here. Sparky is not afraid of thunder or fireworks, Sparky wants to kill thunder or fireworks. When it thunders he races around the house, leaping on and off the furniture whilst raising hell with the heavens. This includes growling, barking furiously, and jumping like a pogo stick while nipping at the air. Spark hates the thunder, man. He’ll also try and travel 2-miles on foot to get at fireworks, and he would if I didn’t stop him.

Update: I was at a friend’s house the other day and fireworks were going off somewhere. All were amazed when Sparky went in search of this nefarious noise. Same with thunder.

7. 18-wheelers

I have a strong suspicion that Spark may have had a run-in with a big rig at some point in his life. We can be a 1/2 mile from the highway, but if he hears a semi-truck he gives me this stricken look and runs to my side, cowering and growling. Spark ain’t afraid, but he’s certainly hyper-aware where the big trucks are concerned.

Update: Still hates the big trucks, but he doesn’t cower anymore. Now he proudly trots to my side and gives a low growl as the truck rolls by. He’s still wary, but Spark has his groove back.

6. Car Washes

Wanna see a show? Ride through a car wash with me. Spark tries in vain to get a piece of anything that comes near the windows. I swear he runs a circle around the inside of the car, across the dash, down the sides of the car, across the back window, yapping all the while. Spark thinks the car wash is trying to hurt me and he can’t have that, now can he?

Update: Sparky and the car wash have come to an uneasy truce. He’s settled down, but he still keeps a vigilant eye accompanied by an occasional guttural growl.

5. Sweepers

I documented Spark’s loathing of sweepers in the acclaimed blog Sparky: Operation Toy Rescue and the Sweeper from Hell. I won’t repeat that here, let’s just say my dog growls when he walks by the closet where my sweeper resides. Not even kidding.

Update: No change here. The Spark’s hatred of my sweeper is both deep and primal. The sweeper must die.

4. Wood Floors

This is the weirdest thing, but Spark hates to walk across wooden floors. I don’t know if he was maybe running and slid across the floor into the wall or something, but he’ll literally leap from rug-to-rug rather than touch a wooden floor. If he can’t make the jump he’ll pause, stare at the floor, and make a calculated leap to avoid the dreaded surface.

Update: He’s better, but he’ll still go the long way rather than walk on slick wooden floors. It’s odd because I once saw him chase a rabbit across a frozen lake with a reckless abandon and a fearlessness heretofore never seen by man nor canine.

3.  Hobos

Yeah, you all know this. I’ve written about it before. The Spark hates hobos. Homeless people. Beggars. Vagrants. Panhandlers. I’m not proud that my pup has no sympathy for the less fortunate, but facts are facts. Spark can spot a guy asking for handouts by the road from a mile away.

Update: Spark not only still hates hobos, he now knows where they do their bidding. Because of this, a mile before we get near one of these guys he sits up, begins his growl, and watches intently for the bad guys. It’s a gift, man.

2. People Rushing Towards Us

Let’s put it this way. Don’t run at The Spark and I. Approach with respect and reverence. Oh, and caution. If he thinks you’re going to hurt me, he’s going to hurt you. No negotiations or discussion on this one, folks.

Update: Sparky would still give his life for me in a heartbeat, so approach The Spark respectfully.

1. Anything with Wings

As I put it in another blog, Sparky has gone after seagulls, sandpipers, sparrows, gnats, flies, buzzards, horseflies, wasps, crows, moths, mosquitoes, my mom’s parakeet, an entire cage of assorted birds at PetCo, and a kid on the beach pretending to be an airplane. He also harbors a deep animosity for my feather duster. And do I have to mention the chicken allegations?

Update: The hostilities between Sparky and all things winged has continued unabated, and if anything has grown stronger. When Spark leaves the house or car, the first thing he does is look up. One day his long-held plan to seize a bird will come to fruition, and it will not be pretty.

Sparky, man. Sometimes he can be a pain. But what would I do without him?


SparkLogoSo I’m folding clothes in my living room today when Sparky walks up with a pair of boxer briefs in his mouth that I’d dropped in the kitchen. He then hands them to me and casually walks away.

All I could manage to do was sit there holding them, staring at him in awe as he left, presumably to go study the Theory of Quantum Entanglement or something.

Sparky. He never ceases to surprise me.

Listen, I have a pretty good memory at times. Other times? Not so much. For SparkyAnticipationinstance, you know when Kroger’s switches around all their food just to mess with us?*

* I know why they do it. Studies show it makes us go to sections we don’t normally go to.**

** Studies are stupid.

Anywho, they switched stuff around months ago and I still can’t find my Bumble Bee Sardines in Mustard Sauce. On a related note, Bumble Bee Sardines in Mustard Sauce on Town House crackers are spectacular.

Other examples of my forgetfulness include the following:

  • The other night I went to bed, watched TV for awhile, then turned it off. It was then I heard an odd noise. I got up to investigate, only to find I’d left the faucet running in the bathroom. Good Lord.
  • I once ran into a girl in Columbus I didn’t recognize, only to find out we’d dated for 2-months in college. I actually wrote about it in a blog entitled Getting Lost Down Memory LaneEmbarrassing, man.

There are many more examples I could give you, and a slew couple of my exes will tell you I only focus on things important to me, and everything else vanishes from my brain like a cockroach when the light comes on. Does that mean I’m a little selfish? Maybe.


Which brings me to my beloved companion, my loyal sidekick, yes, my best friend, Sparky. I’m telling you this dog forgets nothing. Ever. Once he sees something it is locked into his brain forever, man.

Here’s the latest example:

Probably 3-years ago, right after I got him, I pulled onto a road near my home. As he often does, Sparky was standing on the passenger seat with his head out the window. It’s a narrow road and as I drove a car was coming in the other direction, forcing me to keep a wide berth. At that point a big bush alongside the road brushed the car and the driver side mirror, scaring the bejesus out of the Spark.

Since that day 3-years ago I’ve probably driven that same road with Sparky maybe 3-4 times, including yesterday. And every time I approach that spot, Sparky hits the floorboard until we pass the bush. Every single time. Yesterday was the first time I’d gone by it in months, and once again he jumped to the floor.

Amazing really. I only wish I had the total recall of the Spark. But perhaps I have a special appreciation for it because I’ve stubbed my toe on the same coffee table once a week for the past year and a half.

I always knew dogs were intelligent, but I never knew how intelligent until Sparky came along. Hell, he saved my life at least once already. And I swear that 100-years from now we’ll know things about the intelligence of dogs, and animals in general, that we had no idea existed.

Sparky, man. Even after 3-years he continues to surprise me.

I love dogs. I think that’s pretty clear. I believe they’re 100-times smarter than anyone SparkySmileknows and I think they’re here solely to make us happy. I’ve had dogs that have meant more to me than any humans ever could. I still can’t speak of my little Scottish Terrier, Delaney, without getting all emotional.

But as hard as it is for me to comprehend, some people don’t like dogs. Other people sort of like dogs but don’t want to get too close. They like them to pet and to look at, but they really don’t want to commit, ya know? Other people hate dogs.

I truly believe that what writer Charles Doran said is true, and it offers a great yardstick for judging human character:

“Folks will know how large your soul is by the way you treat a dog.”

Amen, brother. Amen.

As for me, I can tell immediately which kind of person you are when my dog Sparky runs up to you:

  • Steps back, looks afraid or annoyed = Dislikes dogs = I’ll probably dislike you.
  • Reaches down, pats Spark on the head, stands back up = Likes dogs, doesn’t own one, can take them or leave them.
  • Immediately gets a huge smile on face, drops to Spark’s level, rubs him behind the ears until Spark rolls over for a belly rub = Loves dogs.

Oh, and there’s one more type:

  • Yells, “SPARKY! IT’S SPARKY! LOOK EVERYONE, IT’S SPARKY!”, then drops to the ground, pets Sparky, and asks for a picture = Sparky Groupie. Spark has a lot of fans, you know.

That said, there are certain things people should never say if they want to be my friend. These are what I call the deal breakers. I just can’t help myself. Here they are:

1. “Dogs should not be allowed on the furniture!”

B-W-A-H-A-H-A-H-A! Seriously? Walk away, sista. Not only is Sparky allowed on the furniture, he thinks it’s there for him. And he sleeps with me, on my bed, under the covers. And no worries, Spark is a great wingman. He respects my privacy and will keep his distance if the situation requires it. On a related note, anyone who wants to be a significant part of my life has to get the paws-up from The Spark. Sorry Kate Beckinsale, but if Spark’s not into you neither am I. I can’t believe I just typed that.

2. “There’s no way your dog understands everything you’re saying.”  

You, my friend, are an idiot. Not only does my dog know what I’m saying, he knows what I’m going to say before I say it. In fact, most times I don’t even have to say it because he reads my mind. All I have to do is look at Sparky. The Spark knows.

3. “Eww! You shouldn’t let your dog kiss you!”

False. I’ll tell you straight up – my dog kisses me right on the lips. If that grosses you out you need to look elsewhere for a boyfriend. A pooch smooch is alright by me, folks. If you don’t like it, don’t let the doggie door hit you on the way out.

4. “I can’t believe you take that dog everywhere with you!”

Why wouldn’t I? Number one, Spark’s my Road Dog. Number two, he insists. He’s been to the Outer Banks, Oak Island, Washington DC, Gettysburg, and a million other places. Spark’s even been on the floor at West Virginia’s basketball practice facility. He goes everywhere around town with me too, and was even the star of a recent New Year’s Eve party at a local establishment. My buddies are used to getting in my car, only to have Spark leap from the backseat onto their lap for some snuggling. And it’s not unusual for me to be in a supermarket or somewhere and hear something like this:

“Hey! Is Spark in the car? I’m going to run out and say hello!”

Seriously, this happens. A lot.

5. “You can come but don’t bring the dog.”

This has been said to me approximately zero times. People know better. Still, I’d never take Sparky to a wedding, simply because he’d divert attention from the bride. Yes, he’s that notorious popular. Funerals I can’t guarantee. Hell, he might be just what the doctor ordered for the bereaved. Pretty much anything else is wide-open, although if I want to be left alone Sparky’s not the guy to have with me. Spark’s a babe magnet, lemme tell ya. Dude’s got the kind of game you read about.

Need more proof that I love dogs? Nah, didn’t think so. I think writer Konrad Lorenz said it best:

“A true bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this Earth can ever be.” 

And that, my friends, is the God’s honest truth.