Coconut: Our Good Deed For Today

“Hello,” I called out. “I have your dog.”

No answer.



I was outside with Doppler a few minutes ago when another dog walked up to us and started sniffing. He was white, a Maltese like Doppler, freshly groomed and around twice her size.

“Hello,” I called out. “I have your dog.”

No answer.

I took a look at his collar. There was a phone number and his name, Coconut. We went inside.

Helaine called the number, but it went to voicemail. A few minutes later I sent a text. That’s when Coconut’s mom called.

She had been unloading groceries. Coconut must have walked out without being noticed. She’d meet us in the street in front of our house.

We’d never seen Coconut before even though he only lives a few hundred feet away. He is lucky we found him. There are coyotes who live in the farmland adjacent to our development. They are also dog lovers.

Good deed for the day. Mission accomplished. Cute doggie. Aren’t they all?

Doppler’s Birthaversary

We still can’t understand how anyone abandoned this dog–but someone surely did.

She arrived at the pound with her nails curling inward, her coat matted with poop and mud. She was left in a baseball dugout with her brother (or father–we don’t know), Bentley.


Three years ago today a very apprehensive Helaine and I drove to the pound in Wallingford to get Doppler. A few days earlier Doppler chose me when I came to look at their ‘special case.’

We still can’t understand how anyone abandoned this dog–but someone surely did.

She was left in a baseball dugout with her brother (or father–we don’t know), Bentley. They arrived at the pound with their nails curling inward, their coats matted with poop and mud.

Doppler get her hair cut-IMG_7871-05262012-h700We’ve heard stories. Sometimes people become sick, or die. Their relatives don’t know what to do with the dog. Sometimes people lose jobs and can no longer afford the upkeep.

A dog discarded is the end of what’s already a tragic story.

We took a chance adopting. We got lucky!

May262013_3798She came trained. She came polite. She came laid back. She fit in perfectly starting on day one.

Doppler has seen a lot in the past three years. And now, after a coast-to-coast ride on Helaine’s lap, she’s a Cali girl.

A few hours after we brought Doppler home our friends Cheryl and Steve adopted Bentley. Another “happily ever after” story.

doppler-doesn't-want-to-be-recycledWe don’t really know how old Doppler is. She’s very puppyesque, but our Connecticut vet’s estimation (based on her teeth) is six or seven.

Who got luckier? Doppler or us?

My Buddy Roxie

She has amassed a collection of rawhide chew sticks, many stolen from Doppler. As a dachshund, she is uncontrollably driven to bury them. She pushes some into corners then uses her nose to cover them with imaginary dirt. It’s strange to watch.


Stef is here for a few days. Roxie’s here too. This is like having grandchildren come to visit, right? Except it’s easier.

Having Roxie and Doppler together is fun because they’re so different. Don’t get me wrong. They’re both good–team players.

Roxie is more playful and needy than Doppler. She chases toys. She snuggles. She gets on her back with her paws up asking for a friendly rub.

She has amassed a collection of rawhide chew sticks, many stolen from Doppler. As a dachshund, she is uncontrollably driven to bury them. She pushes some into corners then uses her nose to cover them with imaginary dirt. It’s strange to watch.

She like being involved. She lays down close to the action, even when more quiet places are within easy reach.

Usually Roxie and Doppler go for a walk together. When Doppler goes out alone, Roxie jumps off the sofa and runs downstairs at the sound of a bag of treats opening. She’s knows our ‘house policy’ of always rewarding them together. Her ears are attuned to food.

Stef says Roxie looks forward to her trips here, sitting up erect in the car as they exit the freeway. The feeling is mutual.

The Six Hour Dog

My friend Farrell, international man of mystery, is about to leave for another overseas assignment. He has lived on four continents. Dinner is in order.

Which brings us to Doppler.

IMAG1591[1]-w1200-h1200Having a dog is a responsibility. As with all responsibilities there are sacrifices you make. We can’t be away too long.

We’ve flirted with six hours. Doppler was dancing by the time we got home. She ran to the lawn.

Six hours is enough time to run to LA and back for a quick bite. Not enough time to dawdle.

I told Farrell we’d drive anywhere if we could bring Doppler. Now we will.

He knows this little Italian place on the west side with a patio and dog friendly policy. It should be around 70° when we sit down. They have heat lamps for later.

SoCal is mainly dog friendly. We saw that right away.

I’m not sure how much Doppler really appreciates it.

Where’s Doppler?


“Where’s Doppler?” Helaine was asking.

We’d just come upstairs after dinner. Sometimes Doppler straggles, staying in her bed in the kitchen. She wasn’t there.

“Is she is your room,” Helaine continued?

There’s a blanket behind my chair where Doppler lounges. Not this time.

IMG_1047_0644I ended up finding her in a spot she’s only recently claimed as her own. She was alongside the toilet in the guest bathroom.

Why? You’ll have to ask Doppler.

We have no objection. She does have run of the house.

Tail Tales

Doppler, Roxie and I are holding down the fort this afternoon. Helaine, Stef and my Cousin Melissa have disappeared to points unknown leaving us to fend for ourselves.

We’ve been in SoCal long enough they know each now. Doppler still doesn’t want to be cornered, but other than that they’re cordial. At one point this afternoon they were both licking my left hand. Cool moment.

I was down in the kitchen a little while ago. Quietly, I asked Doppler if she needed to go out. From the floor above I could hear Roxie jumping from the couch. Take one, take all! She was waiting when we got to the door.

They dart out of the house and up the grassy strip at the curb.

Shhhh. I carry a leash, but they’re never on it during daylight hours. We’re only a few feet apart. Both respond to my voice when needed.

Roxie needs to be in the middle of the action. Doppler favors her bed in a corner of the kitchen.

Roxie plays with toys. Doppler can’t be bothered.

They are different as the color of their fur. And yet, like children, I’d be hard pressed to consider picking a favorite.

Doppler Update: Haircut Day

A few days ago we realized Doppler’s fur had grown so long, she probably couldn’t see!

My opinion is Doppler’s prettiest when her fur is long and shaggy. I don’t get a vote.

Madi came by this afternoon with her salon-on-wheels. It was time for an afternoon of beauty. Here’s the result.


Doppler: This Shot Captures Her Essence


If Doppler ever learns to talk, her first words will be, “Turn off the damn camera!” I’m taking advantage of the situation. She can’t say no. She’s been my photographic subject thousands of times.

Every once in a while a single photo will stand out. This one does to me.

Helaine was drying Doppler after her shower. The blow dryer was farther down her back. Doppler was prone with her snout flat on a towel.

I was flat on my belly and on the other side of the bedroom when I snapped away. It wass a 300mm F/4 lens, a telephoto. I shot at 1/200th, slow for this focal length but OK because of image stabilization.

The ISO was 4000. Very high. You get tiny noise specs on the photo. It’s the price you pay for sharpness in low light.

This lens, configured this way, produces a shallow depth of field. On shots like this you try and get the eyes in focus and forget everything else. That wasn’t happening. Her bangs worked fine. Doppler’s nose is slightly out-of-focus while most of her body is softly blurred.

I like this shot in part because of the incredible contrast in her fur. Bright white to shadowy dark grey are represented. Each cluster of strands lies a different length from the lens, so not only is there contrast in luminance, there’s contrast in sharpness.

When Doppler speaks, after she tells me to stop, she’ll let me know this photo captures her essence.

How Doppler Gets Fluffy

“Oh,” Helaine said as she returned from shopping. “I didn’t expect you to take a shower yet.”

She had shower plans for me… and Doppler.

Recently, dog wash time has meant Doppler joining me in the master bathroom’s shower. When I’m done Helaine wields the blow dryer.

Doppler is nonchalant about the whole thing. She doesn’t enjoy showers, but she does nothing to fight them. No squirming or yelping. She doesn’t cower. She just lets it happen!

I use the shower’s wand to soak her, then apply the dog shampoo and rub. Helaine is in charge of the brush/blow dryer combo. We keep the blow dryer at its lowest setting.

The result is one fluffy dog–a lamb cloud!





Is It Dog Friendly?


Last year as we decided where to move, Doppler was a large concern. We wanted a dog friendly place. That’s part of why we chose Orange County.

IMAG0677-w1400-h1400Because of weather, life is lived more outdoors. And most places without roofs welcome dogs. You see dogs at the mall. You see dogs in Home Depot. You see dogs on restaurant outdoor patios.

That’s where we took Doppler tonight.

IMAG0670-w1400-h1400Woodbury Town Center is our local shopping center. It’s got a Ralph’s (supermarket), Home Depot, Staples, Trader Joe, Walgreen’s, banks, medical, dental and vet offices and a bunch of smaller shops. There are about a dozen restaurants clustered together in an outdoor courtyard.

We sat down outside at The Counter. It’s a build-your-own burger place. Doppler supervised quietly from Helaine’s lap.

IMAG0680-w1400-h1400The waitress saw me taking a photo with my cellphone and pointed toward a nearby fountain. She said it was perfect for sunset shots. She was right.

We wouldn’t take Doppler into a store with food, but other than that she goes nearly everywhere. We’re never the only people with a dog.

Doppler Learns Her First Trick


Doppler has few responsibilities. This week I changed that. Doppler learned her first trick. She can shake hands.

It wasn’t difficult to do. Just a few tiny treats when she’d normally get rewarded anyway, like when returning from a trip to the lawn. She caught on quickly.

At this point I’m worried because she’s offering up her paw before I ask!

If I had my way (and had the persistence) I’d teach her to jump through my hands or into them. Are there enough treats?

Doppler’s Only Job: Be Cute


Helaine’s at the dentist. I’m doing some things around the house. I left Doppler to her own devices.

Doppler has her favorite spots. She likes her bed in a corner in the kitchen. She likes the blanket we leave on the floor behind my desk in my office. She LOVES the sofa in the loft. That’s where she went today.

I didn’t see her for at least a half hour, but when I did she was quietly enjoying a freshly constructed blanket and pillow fort.

Doppler’s only job is to be cute. She gets an excellent employee review every time!

Doppler: Victim Of SoCal Weather


Ask me what color is Doppler?

“Geoff, what color is Doppler?”



Except now.


It’s been two months since Doppler last saw Maddie, who clips her hair. I like Dopp’s look when she’s scruffy, but it’s time.

We’ve never seen her so dirty. Tiny impact from our dry weather? Probably.

Doppler doesn’t walk on much bare soil, but there’s plenty of construction nearby which raises dust. That drops schmutz on the sidewalk. Doppler takes long walks with us. Do the math.

Doppler’s a Cali girl now. She wants to look the part. The appointment has been entered on her calendar.


Doppler Gets A Treat (video)

There’s no special occasion for this video. Just an opportunity to show Doppler getting a treat after a successful trip outside!

Traffic And Doppler — Two Separate Subjects


You’ve probably heard about Southern California traffic. At times, it is everything you’ve been promised.

farrell-at-starbucksI drove to LA yesterday. Dinner with Farrell. He’s half the team that gave me my first real TV job. Though currently living in the California desert, he’s the consummate ex-pat.

2:30 going up. 1:05 coming home.

Helaine and I went out tonight. 1:05 going. :30 back to the house.

We drove the 405. It’s the San Diego Freeway. It doesn’t go to San Diego.


The main northbound side of the 405 is six lanes, plus an HOV lane. It’s wider still at interchanges.

To exit the highway from the HOV demands crossing six lanes of traffic! It is not for the squeamish.

When clear, traffic moves in the mid 70s. When jammed, cars crawl bumper-to-bumper mile-after-mile into the night.

There are many freeways. I’m clueless away from the few I know. How did people move like this pre-GPS and Internet? I drive now with impunity.

Helaine and I knew we’d be out a while. We left Doppler on her own.

This is a recent occurrence. We never let Ivy alone, nor had we with Doppler. In Connecticut we tried keeping Doppler in her crate. A remote video camera showed she was really upset. That had to stop.

doppler-in-the-kitchenNow we let her roam the house. She’s our free range chicken. Never destructive. Very good about ‘containing’ herself.

We were gone over five hours. No sweat. Mostly, she slept in the kitchen. She disappeared a few times, but the mic didn’t pick up barking. That’s good.

Doppler was very excited when we got home. We got a hero’s welcome.

We are very lucky. And the traffic sucks.