Monday, December 31, 2007
And just to balance things out, here's a woman in Georgia who thinks The Dogs Who Found Me was the worst book she read all year.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I also recently taped an interview for KGNU in Boulder and Denver, although I don't know when that will air.
And apparently there may be something coming up in the NY Post, and Ladies Home Journal.
But, next Friday will mark one year since the murder of Helen Hill, and in that case there are still no leads. This is true of most of the approximately 210 murders in New Orleans this year.
On January 11th, SilenceIsViolence will be marking the anniversary of the march to city hall with several events, including a Brass Band blowout at the Howlin' Wolf, with the Hot 8, Soul Rebels, Free Agents, Rebirth Brass Band, and more. Tickets are $15 and are available at the box office, online, and at Sound Cafe. All proceeds will go to the Dinerral Shavers scholarship fund.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
--from The San Francisco Chronicle
The postman just delivered a copy of Cami Johnson's new book The Dog Who Loved Cheerios! This book of dog portraits isn't due out until March, but I contributed the foreword, so I get an advance copy. Cami, of course, did the portraits of Brando and Sula for the jackets of my books. Yet, when I was asked to write something for the front of her collection, I wondered if I had anything to say. At that point, the title of her book was something about a rogues gallery of devil dogs, and the editor said, "Don't you have some stories about Brando?" I insisted that I'd told them all, but the editor, who knows Brando, said, "What about that time he ripped that woman's skirt off in Manhattan?" Oh yeah, that time. Suddenly a flood of intentionally forgotten adventures surfaced. So, to learn some of the worst things he's done, go buy Cami's book when it is out.
Meanwhile, if you haven't already, go buy Dogs I Have Met!
Monday, December 24, 2007
And I haven't yet strung lights on the porch, which seems particularly important when you are the only house on the block.
Canine Culture just called to let me know that the blue rubber ball that I special ordered for Brando has finally arrived.
Beth's Books is open until 2pm, and I am manning the store after a wave of record-breaking sales. (The new arts and graphic novel sections have helped lure in new business.)
The Sula Foundation received a nice contribution in today's mail.
Yet I am still waiting to be paid for the Mediabistro course I taught in October and November. Brando's ball may have to wait behind the counter a few weeks due to that delay.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
If you missed the show, it reruns later in the schedule.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Friday December 21st at 7pm ET; 6CT; 5MT; 4PT
Saturday December 22nd at Noon ET; 11am CT; 10MT; 9 PT
Sunday December 23rd at 9pm ET; 8 CT; 7 MT; 6 PT
Friday, December 14, 2007
This weekend: Harry Shearer, Judith Owen, Bywater Art Market and..."the people who talk about the people in the park"
Tonight at the CAC, Harry Shearer and Judith Owen will be leading a holiday sing-along at 8pm. Tickets are $20, I think. Harry and Judith are dog people, which anyone might guess from the poster advertising this show. Last month, when I was signing books at Kiehl's on Newbury Street in Boston, Judith came racing in screaming (in a totally friendly way) "I can't believe you're here. A friend just gave me your new book." Etc. She and Harry live part of the year in New Orleans, but we'd never met before this random Boston intersection.
Tomorrow, I'll be signing books at the Bywater Art Market (at Piety and Dauphine). There is a whole section of my book which takes place in the very same park. In fact, when I was on tour, a woman in Portland raised her hand to ask "Can you tell us more about the people who talk about the people in the park?" I gave some kind of broad answer that I thought might be easily digested by the crowd, most of whom hadn't read the book yet. But the woman asked again. "I meant," she said, "can you say something about the real reason they talk about the people in the park." It was a former resident of New Orleans, it turned out, who knew very well what the answer was.
Here's the passage in question:
On the neighborhood’s online forum, people are talking about the people in the park.
Be careful of them, one says.Don’t believe anything they say.
In New York, people used to gather around the dog run as if they were at a zoo. Who were they studying: the dogs, or their owners? One day I was watching too, along with two young women who had their eye on a jack Russell terrier who was racing around in the snow wearing t-shirt. The dog’s owner removed the shirt and he continued running. One of the women turned to the other and said, with an inappropriate degree of awe, “Now he’s completely naked.” That’s when I decided to get a dog of my own, so I could be on the opposite side of the fence from them.
There are phases to recovery. There are phases to grief. There is a time when everyone is unified in their efforts, in their anger, and then most people turn inward again, get suspicious and distant.
Whatever they are talking about, I wouldn’t believe it, someone types on the forum.
Maybe they think of us the way the Puritans thought of the witches. Maybe our dogs are our familiars. They give us a power that puts others on edge.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Since just a quarter of Brando's face appears in today's Mediabistro Daily Feed, I decided it was time to post his gorgeous mug once again. When we lived in Manhattan, some of the neighborhood kids were worried that he always looked like he was about to start crying--those were the neighborhood kids who didn't throw things at him.
Brando, of course, is an enormous ham. Yesterday, as we walked through the neighborhood, Brando spotted one of our neighbors in the midst of an interview with a documentary crew covering the rebuilding efforts in the ninth ward. Brando promptly plopped down on the sidewalk in the background of their shot and refused to move.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The dogs seized are making their way to new homes. A large group of them just got cleared to move to the Best Friends sanctuary in Utah. I'm hoping to meet the dogs sometime in the next year. (And, speaking of Best Friends, I'll be doing a few webinars with them in the coming weeks.)
Meanwhile, in Hollidaysburg, PA, Tammy Grimes goes on trial tomorrow. Tammy is the founder of Dogs Deserve Better, and she was arrested over a year ago after unchaining a dog that had been left unattended and unfed for quite a while. It was there so long, in fact, that Tammy contacted the police and had them accompany here when she went on the property to get the dog. She was subsequently arrested and charged with theft, among other things.
I sat at the same table as Tammy at a Best Friends conference last year. Having read about her in the form of testimonials from animal rights supporters all over the web, I thought she might be some kind of strident, unrealistic radical. Of course, I'm nearly always wrong about these things. She was completely normal, although it is possible I don't know what normal is anymore.
Monday, December 10, 2007
In response to an email asking how to contribute, I finally set up a simple web page today at www.sulafoundation.org. The organization does have a tax ID, but non-profit status will not arrive until 2008. If you would like to contribute--or even just send my dogs a holiday card--you can do so by snail mail:
The Sula Foundation
PO Box 3780
New Orleans, LA 70117
Friday, December 07, 2007
Some other great holiday gifts that help the dogs:
The wonderful annual calendar The Unexpected Pit Bull features happy healthy dogs celebrating their lives with moms, dads, children and in the case of Faith, the services of an outdoor cafe. (Faith was rescued in New Orleans, where she was found tied to the drowned body of her owner.)
And the crazy people at Bad Rap have released "Bad Rap Revealed" which features naked pit bull advocates and their dogs. (In some cases, the dogs have clothes on.)
Sunday, December 02, 2007
it is Brenda Lee.
Brenda's owner sent me an email and a bunch of photos to document their shared ancestry. Brenda is, far as anyone can guess, a pit bull/great Dane mix, which is as close as I've come to figuring out Brando's background. But who knows?
She sure does have a gorgeous snout!
First thing Thursday morning we went to Peabody Place to film Live @ 9. You can watch our appearance here, by choosing Live @ 9 from the news menu and then clicking on the Thursday November 29th show. (I actually haven't been able to get it to work on my Mac.)
Then Sula and drove over to Graceland and, more important, to the Stax Museum, where we met with the facilities manager and then, later, the retail manager. Could something be in the works? Perhaps.
At Davis-Kidd, we had a nice event with the Humane Society, and did a reading next to a poster of Brando 6 feet tall. Grong Grong's parents showed up with their two human kids. And Sula and I jumped back in the car, exhausted, and headed home.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Canine Culture, Hampson Street, New Orleans
Plus: $5 winetasting
Proceeds go to the LA SPCA
Sunday Dec. 9th, 2-4pm
Barnes and Noble, Gulfport, MS
Saturday Dec. 15th
Bywater Art Market, New Orleans, LA
Sunday Dec. 16th noon-2pm
Pass Christian Books, Pass Christian, MS
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
So if you are in Memphis, please come by and see us!
Monday, November 26, 2007
When I visited my sister in Michigan last year, I met a pit bull named Rose at the Pinckney library. She was with her owner, Lola, who told me the story of her previous pit bull, a three legged marvel named Roxy. When Lola brought home PeeWee from a local farm, the two became lifelong friends--although things got a little awkward when PeeWee reached 700 pounds and still wanted to play like a puppy. Their story is in the chapter titled "The Odd Couples" in "Dogs I Have Met: And the People They Found."
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Monday night, several of us will be reading from the book at Beth's Books, adjacent to Sound Cafe, 2700 Chartres Street. The fun starts at 6pm--Monday November 26th.
Friday, November 23, 2007
I'm in PA for a few days with my family, which means that Rocky is here too. Rocky (the dog in this photo) is my sister's dog, and is featured in "The Odd Couples" in my new book Dogs I Have Met. With him in this photo is Doodle (aka Wink) the cat he's obsessed with and loves to lick. She doesn't seem so pleased, does she?
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Of course, there was an evil troublemaker stalking us in the hotel lobby every time we passed through. A miniature Schnauzer that lunged and snapped and had owners who couldn't be bothered to look up from their coffee.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
It is always interesting to see how some animal rights organizations exploit the very animals they claim to be saving. With PETA, the situation is even more absurd--they exploit the image of pit bulls, even while endorsing breed bans and the wide-spread euthanizing of the breed. And yet they continue to use photos of pit bulls almost exclusively in their solicitations for contributions. I hear from people every week who have been duped into thinking that PETA supports all animals. This week is no different--a reader sent me the latest holiday solicitation from PETA and two of the three dogs featured are pit bulls.
In the past, when this issue comes up, PETA always insists that they didn't say this or that, or that the information being quoted is out of date. Yet just yesterday on Tampa's Fox affiliate, Laura Brown of PETA stated that the dogs need to be banned in order to protect them from abuse. The same insane logic I quote in The Dogs Who Found Me.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Dogs I Have Met: And the People They Found
Ken Foster. Lyons, $14.95 paper (192p) ISBN 9781599211299
In this moving sequel to his 2006 bestseller The Dogs Who Found Me,
Foster introduces readers to dogs and owners he encountered while
promoting his earlier book. In many cases, the dogs had been rescued
from death by people who had “decided that they were worth the work of
saving,” and Foster interweaves their remarkable stories with updates
on his own life and the dogs who continue to change his life in
surprising ways. The stories are as diverse as the dogs themselves,
from a woman who found a pregnant, one-eyed stray in the exact spot
where she had been involved in a car crash six years earlier that
killed her best friend, to a man certain that his adoption of a pit
bull saved him from Hurricane Katrina. Foster concludes with a more
detailed look at the animals affected by Katrina’s devastation,
including a moving tribute to the volunteers who helped give shelter to
the dogs of New Orleans. Dog lovers will welcome this new collection of
moving and poignant canine stories. (Oct.)
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Meanwhile, I'll be speaking on a panel this Friday evening at the St. Louis Film Festival following a screening of the documentary "An American Opera".
Unfortunately, I've had a reschedule my Iowa City appearance at Prairie Lights--I'll be back that way sometime in the New Year.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
One of the memorable dogs in "DOGS I HAVE MET" is Max, who inspired the chapter titled "A Unique Dog." Just days before the book began shipping I heard from Erin that Max had passed away. With her permission, I'm sharing her letter and in the comments section, the original email she sent me about their unique dog:
Dear Friends and Family,
Many of you knew our dog Max personally, and those of you who didn't had certainly heard all about him and how he had the rare genetic bleeding disorder hemophilia. This Monday morning around 7:00 AM, Max passed away. He was fighting to recover from an injury he had obtained a week earlier.
On the 18th we had taken Max and our other little dog Dobby down to my parents' place in the country so Max could swim in the creek, one of his favorite activities and the safest form of exercise for a hemophiliac. My sister’s horse had recently been moved into a temporary wire-fenced pasture on my parents' property. When we were getting Max out of the car, he bolted out of the back, slipped out of our grasp, and flew into the pasture along with two of the other family dogs. Before anyone could even react, the horse was bucking and running, the dogs were barking and chasing, and Max was rolling on the ground. We think he got kicked or clipped in the hind quarters and hit his head when he rolled on the ground.
After we got all the dogs out of the horse pen, they all seemed fine, and Max was okay the rest of the day. That night, though, when we got Max home, he wouldn't put any weight on his back right leg. We took him to the vet and he got his first transfusion, which is, of course, how bleeding is stopped in a hemophiliac. On Sunday, he seemed completely fine, but we kept him quiet, iced his leg, and put him on his pain medication for three days just to be sure. By Wednesday, he was completely himself again, and we were so relieved.
But then on Thursday he seemed very lethargic and sore and disinterested in anything except a few dog treats. We took him in to the vet again Thursday evening, and his blood work revealed that he wasn't bleeding, so the vet recommended we restart his pain medication and keep him quiet. She also noticed a bruise in his right eye and said to watch it.
Friday morning, he was even more lethargic, and both eyes had bruises, so we immediately took him back in for another transfusion. This one didn't seem to affect him much, as transfusions always had before, and we were terrified. Sat. night we went back to the vet. Again, tests showed that he wasn't bleeding, and X-rays showed no damage to bones and no fluid in his heart or lungs. Back home we went.
By Sunday morning, Max began having difficulty putting any weight on his back legs and had obvious head pain. By noon, he couldn't sit up; then he couldn't walk; then he lost bladder control. We rushed him back to the vet, and they started a third transfusion. Meanwhile, I was consulting with an incredible woman I'd found via the Internet, Jean Dodds, a veterinary hematologist and expert in CA who runs Hemopet, the blood bank we purchased Max's plasma products from. She predicted that despite the seemingly normal blood tests, Max was bleeding into his brain and/or spine, thus causing the paralysis. She said he needed at least 3-4 transfusions in the next 24 hours, so our vet continued with the plasma.
Then at 1:30 AM on Monday, the vet called to say that after Max's fourth transfusion, he seemed to be doing worse, not better as we'd hoped and prayed. The paralysis had worsened, and when she did a deep pain clamp test on his back legs, he didn't even notice. This meant the paralysis was permanent whether from bleeding or from a clot, we don't know. But even if Max recovered, he would be permanently paralyzed.
Therefore, we made the agonizing decision to have him euthanized because he was deteriorating so rapidly. Around 6:30 AM on Monday the 27th, which in a cruel twist of irony also happened to be my birthday, Dave, my mother, our dog Dobby, and I headed to the clinic to say goodbye and to be with Max when he went. They carried Max in and put him on his bed, which I had brought from home. We could tell as soon as we saw him that he was already in the process of dying, and we knew then that as heartbreaking as our decision was, it was what Max needed. We petted him, talked to him, and fed him his favorite snack, bacon. He relaxed visibly with his head in my lap and with his family and his brother around him. Then when we were ready, the vet came in and gave him the injection. We held him while she did it, and he was already so close to passing that within five seconds of the needle going in, he was gone.
Dave, Dobby, my family, and I are all devastated. Despite his hemophilia, Max was an amazing, friendly, and intelligent dog who managed to live a full, albeit short, life. He had earned his Canine Good Citizen certificate, scored at the top of his obedience classes, become certified with me to do Animal Assisted Therapy as Pet Partners through the Delta Society, and volunteered with the Texas Central Hemophilia Association, where he met others who, as one little boy said, had "special blood" just like his. We miss Max desperately, and hope you all will understand if you do not hear from us for a while.
MAX GOLDEN March 17, 2005-August 27, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
On Monday I received the issue, in which I am in embarrassingly good company, including: Scott Bradfield, Lydia Davis, Stephen Elliott, Nell Freudenberger, Allen Ginsburg, Andrew Sean Greer, Matt Groening, John Haskell, Jack Kerouac, Chuck Klosterman, Jonathan Lethem, Barry Lopez, Lydia Millet, Richard Nash, Richard Powers, Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, Wells Tower, William T. Vollmann and Lawrence Weschler, among others.
The issue includes a map that pinpoints the location of each writer. And the editors thoughtfully included a set of the original manuscripts, so that contributors who can't read German can still share each others work.
You can buy a copy, or look at the full table of contents, at the Fischer Verlag website.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Witnesses described seeing a tanker truck barrel through the median into oncoming traffic, killing three people and injuring three others on Interstate 95 in East Lyme late Friday morning. The tanker struck a tractor-trailer and at least four cars and overturned.
As chaos broke out on I-95, a heroic pit bull remained calm, sitting in the front seat of a tractor-trailer hit by a tanker truck. As the truck crumbled, the dog stood tall, staying beside his owner until help arrived.
"I was calling to him, but he was just standing there and just guarding his person," said Phyllis Martino, a witness at the scene.
The heroic dog stayed right by his owner's side, but arriving firefighters quickly rushed that badly injured driver to the hospital.
That's when another hero was standing by to step in. Vincent Gagliardi said the pit bull was frantic as his owner was carried away. So, Gagliardi took off his belt, ran to the dog, fashioned a leash and got the dog out of there.
"This guy was still sitting in the passenger seat, and there was diesel fuel all around, so I took him out of there," Gagliardi said.
Authorities did not release on Friday any identities of those involved in the crash.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Last night I walked down the street to see Waiting for Godot performed at an intersection in the middle of the overgrown fields that used to be inhabited by the houses and residents of the Lower Ninth ward. The production was great--the performances were terrific--but I don't think I like that play so much. And there was a lot of waiting involved. Waiting for free tickets, waiting for free gumbo, waiting to be escorted to the stadium seating that had been erected for the show. And waiting for the show to be over. I'd forgotten that there were two acts in which nothing happens. For some reason I only remember the one. And it got pretty windy up there, at the back row, where the rake of the seating made it difficult to see the performers, who were often directed to sit close to the front of the audience.
And the production cost $200,000--so there was a strange irony to the plight of the characters, who are waiting for Godot but only get some cheap entertainment by a man and his hog.
Still, it was exciting to see so much traffic on Claiborne street, and people fighting to park on these completely abandoned streets.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Ken Foster’s dog Sula has started her own foundation, and in typical pit bull fashion, she has named the organization after herself. The Sula Foundation is dedicated to helping the community through sponsoring and facilitating free shot clinics and spay/neuter services in collaboration with neighborhood vets, community groups, and existing animal welfare groups. The Sula Foundation will also be sponsoring school programs to educate children on responsible dog care and interaction. We’re just getting started, so if you have any ideas or want to help, email us at email@example.com.
I'd been hoping to have the clinics up and running a month ago, but a strange thing happened when I called around town looking for a community organization that would allow us to give shots on their grounds: No one even returned the calls.
But I have the first location set now and will be announcing it soon--we'll be doing the first clinic in the lower Ninth. Maybe after that some of the other neighborhoods will invite us over to the other side of the canal.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Last week, I taped a piece for Good Morning America Radio, which airs on the other satellite radio system, XM. I'm not sure when this piece airs, but it was a great little interview, and they videotaped it to air online and on their "third" hour, Good Morning America Now.
Meanwhile, I'm catching up on sleep, along with Brando, Zephyr and Sula. And I've got a bunch of photos and stories to post from the tour, if I ever get caught up on the rest of my life. For now, its all about snoozing. Zzzzzz.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
So, my checking account is empty, and I have to find some other way of getting freelance income delivered. I'm getting a sense that they really don't want us living here.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I regret that I don't have plans to visit Ohio on my tour, to visit with the responsible dog owners who have to put their pets to sleep...or move. Oddly enough, Ohio is the location of Thurber House. James Thurber, owned, loved, and wrote about his pet pit bull.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
DOGS I HAVE MET is #1 at the Booksmith in San Francisco for the second week in a row. It's also #1 at Quimby's in Chicago. It has been popping in and out of the top 50 on Powells.com, and it is their #2 book in the pet category. Of course, its hard to know what any of that really means.
Meanwhile, DOGS I HAVE MET is in a second printing--and THE DOGS WHO FOUND ME just passed quickly through a 12th printing and into a 13th.
And, of course, you can reread my Ink Q & A, or read my Powells.com blog posts from last year, which evolved into a section of the new book.
Monday, October 22, 2007
I'll be all over the Northeast this week, before completely collapsing and being institutionalized along with my dogs, who are not at all pleased by this schedule. So, if you are out there and like dogs, or even if you just like me, please come to the following events:
Thursday October 25 at Astor Place Barnes and Noble, 7pm
Friday October 26 at Paramus Barnes and Noble, 7pm
Saturday October 27 at Two Smiling Dogs, Hamden, CT noon-2:00pm
Saturday October 27 at Books in the Square, Providence, 7pm with Traer Scott
Sunday October 28th at Kiehls, 122 Newbury Street, Boston, 1-3pm with Traer Scott
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Here is Queen Bea, who sat with me at Kiehl's on Saturday while I signed books at a fundraiser for New Leash on Life. It was part of my midwestern tour, which also included stops at the Wisconsin Library Association in Green Bay, a reading at Reader's Loft, two events with CARE in Evanston on Friday and then the Kiehl's event Saturday followed by a reading at Quimby's and a stop at the ARFHouse fundraiser. There are many more photos to come.
What was difficult was the flying. My flight from Green Bay to Chicago was cancelled, so I had to rebook, flying from Green Bay to Minneapolis to catch a flight to Chicago. That flight was also cancelled. Then I ended up back on an American flight, which is where I had started. But since I got a ticket quickly while 42 others were on standby, there was some controversy at the gate. Also, in the midst of all this, I was selected for a special screening and search process. On the way home today, the train was delayed on hour on the way to the airport, the airport departure screens had mysteriously deleted all New Orleans flights and by the time I figured things out I was a few minutes too late to check my bags, which meant I had to give up my Kiehl's products, because they were larger than 3 ounces. And then the flight was delayed because the crew couldn't get to the airport on time. They were in the train behind mine.
Fortunately, I got to smooch with Bea and a few other great dogs. And raise some money to take care of them. Otherwise, the travel delays would have really driven me over the edige.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
So, whereever you may be today, go kiss a pit bull, okay?
Friday, October 19, 2007
Yet, having rescued and placed dozens of animals, I now know how it feels. You have invested yourself in getting the animal into the right home, and if things don't work out, you want to be involved in the solution.
Still, I can't help thinking that this whole thing escalated far beyond with either party intended.
Meanwhile, I'm a little puzzled over the lack of reviews and interviews so far. Maybe its a busy month for books coming out--I've always published in the spring. But this time, last time, things were a bit busier as far as talking about the book and pit bulls on radio stations all over the country.
Of course, as long as the book is selling, maybe it doesn't matter about the rest.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Meanwhile, tomorrow (Thursday October 18) I'll be at the Wisconsin Library Assocation's annual meeting, followed by a reading at Reader's Loft in Green Bay at 7pm.
Friday I'll be doing two events in Evanston, details are at the CARE site.
Saturday I'll be with New Leash on Life at Kiehl's in downtown Chicago from 1-3pm.
And Saturday evening I'll be at Quimby's with Elizabeth Crane and others at 7pm. (Along with some dogs from ARFhouse).
Monday, October 15, 2007
Pawsitively Pit Bull, a Portland area rescue group, will be at tonights event at the Beaverton Powell's, and there will be a little get together nearby afterwards, so if you are in the area, please come. And if you want a signed copy of the book, you can order it on Powells.com or call some of the stores I've visited in the last few days: Capitola Book Cafe, The Booksmith, Book Passage or Books Inc have copies in the Bay Area.
Friday, October 12, 2007
And so does GalleyCat. Meow.
Before this tour began for "Dogs I Have Met" I knew that it would be the last time I embarked on anything resembling a tour. This isn't to say I'll never travel again or promote my future books, just that it will definitely be scaled back because I'm just too old to be bothered by it. Not that I'm that old. It's just things like this:
1. After packing in the middle of the night and sneaking out of the house to leave the dogs with a sitter, I awoke on my flight to Los Angeles and for the first time in my life felt the kind of motion sickness that afflicts children. For about an hour, I had my head between my knees, breathing into a bag. No doubt the people next to me loved this.
2. Arriving in Los Angeles, I rent a car and drive to Irvine. It is only early afternoon, but traffic is horrendous. At the offices of Bow Tie (Dog Fancy, etc.) I tape an interview for their website. The lights are hot. The people are nice. I get choked up talking about the pit bulls that many readers have written to me about. And then, because it isn't live, I am asked to answer all of the questions again, so they get a close up. (There isn't anything unusual about this, but it stretches to two hours what will eventually be a three minute clip.)
3. Traffic is worse on the way back to LA. I stop and sign stock at two stores along the way, then give up because I'm due at the Federal Building to tape another interview. I call to say I'm running late. I call again to say I'm running later. The interview goes well, and we finish at 5:30pm. At this point I've been awake for about 18 hours and the only thing I've had to eat is an Egg McMuffin in Dallas and a cookie in Irvine.
4. I have 90 minutes to get to Borders in West Hollywood, which is about three or four miles away. It takes an hour to drive that far. The manager used to live in New Orleans. We talk about how things are. They have a ton of books, but somehow the event hasn't been listed anywhere. I already know that my own friends are unlikely to show--my brother has been cast in a play; Patricia has to pick up her son; and as I fought my way through traffic, I thought, really, who would drive through this to come. But my old classmate Katherine Taylor shows up early, then a student and his boyfriend. We sit and talk informally, consider going for drinks, then they convince me to actually read. "Maybe more people will sit down." The reason they have to ask me to begin is that no one from the store is bothering to do anything to start the event. There is no introduction.
Miraculously, more people do sit down once I've begun. Not a huge crowd, but everyone buys multiple copies when we're done. Then I sign stock. Then I have to hunt down someone from the store to give me autographed copy stickers. Then my friends help me sticker the books. Then we shelve the books for the store. Then we leave.
5. I check into my hotel around midnight after finally getting something to eat. I call the airline to move my flight from 7am to 10am. I sleep, but wake up at six to get everything packed again, get my car from the valet, fill the tank and arrive at the airport to discover my flight has been delayed.
6. On the other hand, sometimes no listing is better than one like this: "You know what's really missing from my library? A book about canine rescue dogs. Thank you, thank you, Ken Foster and Dogs I Have Met: And the People They Found! My literary life is now complete." That's the listing in Wilamette Week for my reading at Powell's this coming Monday. The writer, Annie Bethancourt, apparently aspires to be a writer or critic when she's not strumming her guitar and teaching surfing in Costa Rica. Yet it is kind of hard to tell exactly what the point of her snarky tone might be. Does she not like dogs? Does she not like my writing? Did she even look at the book? Nah, if she had, she may have at least noticed that the beginning takes place in her surf-turf: Costa Rica. The most unfortunate part is that she doesn't even get the date of the reading correct.
7. I talk to the dogsitter. Sula is very unhappy and making herself sick. She and I have that in common I guess.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
But please watch the show, not for the chance to see a corner of my head, but to hear from Yolanda Adams (Dinerral's mom), Nakita Shavers (his sister), his students and bandmates, as well as Jake Hill (Helen's brother), Dr. Paul (her husband) and others whose lives have been directly impacted by these crimes. It airs Saturday at 10 ET.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Also, for anyone in Wisconsin, I've added a public event following my appearance at the WLA next week. I'll be at Readers Loft in Green Bay on October 18th at 7pm.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Los Angeles: Thursday October 11 at Borders/West Hollywood (La Cienega) 7pm
San Francisco: Friday October 12 at Booksmith on Haight Street, 7pm
Corte Madera: Saturday October 13 at Book Passage, 2:00pm
Alameda: Saturday October 13 at Books Inc., 6:30 pm
Capitola: Sunday October 14 at Capitola Book Cafe 2:30pm
Portland/Beaverton: Monday October 15 at Powell's Beaverton location, 7pm
Also, if you happen to read Vanity Fair, there's a brief mention of Dogs I Have Met in the "Hot Type" column.
in which someone stole Sula and killed her. I hate to even post this, but there is a point.
So someone stole Sula and Brando, and shot them. But then, because it was a dream, somehow Brando returned. I kept looking for Sula, and as I did, some reporters stopped me to ask if I would comment on something involving crime. "I can't," I explained, "someone stole my dog and killed her." As I said this, I anticipated their asking for more information, creating a report that would air on the news. But they didn't. It wasn't the story they were looking for.
Meanwhile, more facts emerged. At least twenty dogs had been taken--not just my own. But still, no one seemed to care or listen. At one point, Sula showed up, by then, within the dream, I knew that she wasn't really Sula, just some willful conjuring of her. My dog was gone, and I would never see her again.
And, as with most awful dreams, this is when I woke up. Brando was asleep at my side. Sula was with Zephyr in the other room. Why had my brain created this horrible narrative? Then I remembered a conversation I'd had Sunday afternoon, about the situation in Garfield Heights, Ohio:
A new ordinance takes effect October 24th that calls for pit bulls to be removed from city limits. The ban applies to any dogs whose blood line is that of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull or any dog "whose appearance or characteristics render it identifiable as partially of one or more such breeds." Owners who fail to comply face a third degree misdemeanor citation which calls for up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. The city also claims the right to have the dog removed to a shelter and if necessary to be destroyed (which is no doubt what will happen, since they won't be able to adopt them out.) And the first to go will be any dogs whose owners did the responsible thing by registering them with the city.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Here's another shot from the party on Wednesday. Kim Dudek brought Dag, who has a wheelchair to get around due to damage to his back. You may also notice that his previous owner cut his ears off. This might be called "cropping" except that in this case it was done very badly, and most of each ear is now gone. Kim says he's intensely jealous of the other pit bulls at the party who all had their full ears flopping around.
Kim's opening a new business for rehabilitating animals. It is called Dag's House.
"Still I wonder why it is,
I don't argue like this,
With anyone else but you,
We do it all the time,
Blowing out my mind,
You've got this look I can't describe,
You make me feel like I'm alive,
When everything else is au fait,
Without a doubt you're on my side..."
It is really the arguing that made me think, "Obviously this was written about a pit bull." And then there's the "look I can't describe." Nothing could be clearer.
In any case, I'm happy to report that Zephyr and I now have our own song as well. It is called "Zephyr & I" and is the opening track on Suzanne Vega's new disc. It's not nearly as romantic as the Corinne Bailey Rae song about pit bulls. But it has a great guitar riff that sounds like something off an old Lou Reed record.
"Zephyr & I stand out on
West End Avenue
talking about the things that
all of us used to do
and the wind kicks up with the smell of rain
the kids are gone but the souls remain"
Of course, my Zephyr has never spent any time on West End Avenue, but that's okay. I have more to say about the new Suzanne Vega over at my Powells.com Q and A.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Last night I had a party to celebrate the publication of "Dogs I Have Met" and to celebrate the pit bulls of New Orleans. The Hot 8 Brass Band played like crazy (you can see the exhausted look on their faces) and they brought some of their dogs. And Gloria Dauphin came from the LA-SPCA brought her dog; and ARNO came with some of their recent adoptees. And families came with their dogs. And some people, like me, let their dogs stay at home.
That's me in the yellow shirt, ruining another great picture. If you are wondering why the dogs seem a bit restrained, it is all because of Queenie, who was doing a crazy dance behind me. Queenie is the queen of the Hot 8, and looks almost exactly like my Sula, which is how this whole plan for a party got started....
More photos to come; meanwhile, at Powells.com, Dogs I Have Met is in the Top 5.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Following a 2006 interview on NPR to promote his book The Dogs Who Found Me: What I Learned from Pets Who Were Left Behind, Foster received a flood of letters from people who had also rescued dogs, many of them pit bulls or mixed breeds and many with medical or psychological issues. These letters form the basis of this book and give Foster the opportunity to comment on the multifaceted aspects of the human-animal bond, particularly on how allowing a rescue dog into one's life can change it. Among the stories Foster relates is that of pit bull Trap, whose adoption forced his owner to move to a dog-friendly apartment, escaping the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He retells the story of shepherd mix Max, the hemophiliac adopted hours before euthanasia, who works as a therapy dog and touches the lives of many people similarly afflicted. With well-told, moving stories, this is a good choice for public libraries.—Florence Scarinci, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY
Monday, October 01, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Yesterday afternoon I got a message online from Karen Gadbois, who had just received an email via the mid-city list serve from a woman who was trying to get someone to respond to an awful situation. A pit bull had attacked her neighbor's dog, had been subdued and was now tied to a tree in her front yard. She had called the LA-SPCA but was worried when no one answered. (They have voice mail to catch any calls that are missed if they are on the phone already, but this worries people.)
I called and said I'd come by, take a look at the dog, and if he seemed okay, maybe drive him over the SPCA or to ARNO.
I have to say, I've never seen an animal in this condition, except in photos or after several weeks of treatment. At first, I didn't even think he was a pit bull. His snout was too fleshy. But I quickly realized it was swollen and scarred. He was missing fur all over his body, either from fighting or mange or both. He was bleeding from the top of his head, where he'd been hit with a brick as they tried to get him off the other dog. There were cuts and scars all over his face, in particular, but also other parts of his body--and he was very thin and unneutered.
I said hello. He wagged his tail, but kept still. I talked to him for a while, then walked around behind him to see how he'd respond. He didn't move. The LA-SPCA arrived and an officer approached. When she went to get equipment from the truck, the dog took a few steps toward me, then went back to the tree. We decided not to use the dog catching stuff. He gave the officer a polite kiss, then moved to me, placed his front paws carefully on my tummy and looked into my eyes. We walked together to the truck and he climbed in on his own.
I wish I had a picture of the look in his eyes before we took that walk together.
In his 2006 memoir, "The Dogs Who Found Me," Ken Foster introduced readers to his beloved Brando, the giant brindle Dane/pit mix who appears as the coverdog of his new book, "Dogs I Have Met and The People They Found." Brando's canine companions in Foster's New Orleans home are Zephyr, a Rottweiler mix, and Sula, a pit bull who will change any preconceptions you have about the breed with her first sloppy kiss. Foster's loving portrait of those dogs -- his companions through Sept. 11, 2001, a near fatal heart problem and Hurricane Katrina -- is a study in the steadfastness of mutual heartfelt affection.
In the book's sequel, "Dogs I Have Met and the People They Found," Foster chronicles more dog adventures, many of which came as a result of that book. He includes letters responding to his book, little reminders of the ties that bind dog lovers across time and geography. And he continues his campaign to dispense good information about worthy projects across the country.
The chapter, "Dogs on Desire Street: A Dog's's Eye View of the Recovery," offers a canine perspective on post-Katrina New Orleans, a warm tribute to his Bywater neighborhood and the visitors to Markey Park, where, Forster writes, "Throughout the day, it is possible to see one human or another standing at the gate to the park, yelling, 'Stella! Stella!' "
The travels Foster recounts in this book include visits to Costa Rica, where he forms a relationship with Duque, a dog that will win his heart but come to a sad end; to New York, where Foster, a carnivore himself, shares a vegan dinner, but begins to feel "like a social experiment"; and, most memorably to Oakland, Calif., where he does a fundraiser for the San Francisco SPCA and attends a BAD RAP conference, put on by a Bay Area organization of pit bull advocates who enforce high standards of training; and to Chicago, where he does a book-signing in a Kiehl's store. There, he writes, "I spend the afternoon watching well-dressed women arrive, seeking eye cream. They find two red-nosed pit bulls waiting to greet them instead. " Surprise, surprise! (In a useful list of resources at the back of the book, Foster describes the company's commitment to animals.)
Foster confronts head-on folks' fears about pit bulls and dog attacks, and writes of his own experience of being mauled by a beagle. Who'd have thought? But Snoopy has a powerful public relations machine, no?
What is so moving about "Dogs I Have Met" is Foster's own gentle humor, his sense of human frailty, of aging; when Foster describes his hysteria at finding his own beloved pets taking down a possum or a raccoon or a slow squirrel, you're right there with him, shrieking inwardly. And when he notices, "In Dog Years," that time is growing short, as time always does, we feel the intensity of the fleeting moment, in all its pain and pleasure.
"Dogs see us through more than they put us through," Foster writes, and he should know. This graceful meditation on the strength of our canine connections is an inspiration and a joy.
Friday, September 28, 2007
At the time it seemed both amusing and curious. But as time goes on, I'm beginning to take it a little personally.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Elizabeth Crane is the author of When the Messenger is Hot and All This Heavenly Glory.
Megan Stielsta is a jack of all trades.
Julia Kamynz Lane is a freelance writer who writes with increasing frequency about dogs.
Anne Calcagno is the author of the story story collection Pray For Yourself.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Anyone care to translate?
Monday, September 24, 2007
You can check the place out on the web at www.nolacakes.com.
Confirmed guests at the October 3rd party include: Dag, the inspiration for Belladonna Day Spa owner Kim Dudek's new venture Dag's House ( www.dagshouse.com); Trap Jack, a former desk duty dog from the LA-SPCA; Lola, special assistant to Gloria Dauphin of the LA-SPCA; and ARNO director Robyn Beaulieu's beautiful blue pit bull.
"Dogs I Have Met" is a followup to Foster's national bestseller "The Dogs Who Found Me" which was released in March 2006. The author will tour the US throughout October and November.
Party with the Hot 8, 7-9pm
2700 Chartres Street
Reading/signing at Octavia Books
513 Octavia Street
New Orleans, LA
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Are there any other Brando bloggers out there? If you've got my dog on your blog, send me the link and I'll add you here!
Here's an old one.
Here's another featuring the new cover.
And they are barking about Brando over at the Bark blog.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Oh, and the uptown girl is named DuBois, of course.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Over the summer I bought a house in the Holy Cross neighborhood, and this morning the dogs and I moved in. Moving dogs is a nasty business, even if you are only moving them a mile from where you've been. I had been waiting until most of the work was done on the house before getting the dogs involved. But there were all the usual delays with water in the gas line, mysteriously installed plumbing, etc. And then Thursday there were thunderstorms, so that day was postponed until today. Fortunately, having moved from place to place during the evacuation, I have a system down for packing up the dogs and squeezing them into the car. Unfortunately, having experienced this system too often during the evacuation and revacuation, it makes us all hysterical.
Once we arrived, they tore through the yard for a while, rolled around on their backs in the grass, and had a great time. This was followed by Sula vomiting all over the hard wood floors and Brando squeezing under the house and forgetting how he got under there. Eventually Zephyr and I talked him out.
Call Faulkner House Books at 504-524-2940
Call Octavia Books at 504-899-7323
You can also pre-order signed copies from Powells.com (which will be shipped after 10/15).
Here's the tour:
10/3 New Orleans book party with the Hot 8 at Sound Cafe
10/4 Octavia Books, New Orleans
10/11 Borders, West Hollywood
10/12 Booksmith, San Francisco
10/13 Book Passage, Corte Madera
10/13 Books Inc. Alameda
10/14 Capitola Book Cafe
10/15 Powell's, Portland
10/18 Green Bay, WI
10/19 Evanston, IL
10/20 Kiehl's, Chicago, IL
10/20 Quimby's, Chicago, IL
10/22 Garden District Bookshop, New Orleans
10/25 Astor Place Barnes and Noble, New York City
10/26 Barnes and Noble, Paramus
10/27 Two Smiling Dogs, Hamden CT
10/28 Kiehl's, Boston
11/3 Louisiana Book Festival, Baton Rouge
11/4 Maple Street Bookshop, New Orleans
11/15 Prairie Lights, Iowa City
11/16 St. Louis Film Festival
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The other night I showed Brando the finished book with his mug on the cover. I wasn't really expecting much of a response, but he stared at it, sniffed at it and wagged his tail. Then I put it down and headed to the front door for our walk. Brando turned around, ran back to the table where the book was resting, and pressed his nose to it again.
I'm glad he's happy. It has been suggested that his photograph is so terrifying we'll have trouble booking any media to support the book. The reaction, I'm told, was "visceral."
Brindle dogs are--I have been told--among the most difficult to adopt out of shelters. People don't want them. The number one most difficult to get a home for is any black dog. I have been told this all across the country. So if we changed Brando into the black coated dog, that wouldn't help.
If he was snow white, however, I'm sure no one would have a problem.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Monday, September 03, 2007
It is officially an October publication, and I haven't even seen a finished copy myself yet, but apparently my new book is on sale. Now. At least in North Florida.
I got a very nice email from the first reader yesterday (which happened to also be my birthday):
Imagine my surprise when I found a copy of "Dogs I have Met" at an indie bookstore in north Florida! I thought it wasn't hitting the stores until Oct. Anyway, much to my husband's chagrin(native New Orleanian), I didn't put it down till I finished it a few minutes ago. Once again, you have a home run!! I doubt you'd remember me, but I'm the girl from South Georgia(Brunswick) who has two rescued greyhounds and emailed you a long while ago about a coworker attempting to get rid of a litter of pit bull puppies.
As I read your blog and keep up with your attempts to help New Orleans become a better place, I am hopeful that your new book will continue to encourage others to take part in the animal rescue cause.....be it pit bulls or any other breed for that matter. I also hope that LOTS of folks read/purchase this book as so many of your stories are universal to any kind of dog........I saw my greyhounds in place of your dogs on several occasions, especially the story on our dogs getting older, as we are.
I wish you much continued success!! Hopefully, on one of our future trips to New Orleans(still trying to get the Mid-City house repaired), we can attend one of your book signings. Thanks so much for the greyhound mention in "Dogs I have Met" as well!!
I look forward to seeing what your next project will be--
Sunday, September 02, 2007
* August 17, 2007 A Labrador mix attacks a 70-year old man sending him to the hospital in critical condition. Police officers arrived at the scene and the dog is shot after charging the officers. This incident was reported in one article and only in the local paper.
* August 18, 2007 - A 16-month old child receives fatal head and neck injuries by a mixed breed dog. This attack was reported two times by the local paper only.
* August 20, 2007 - A 6-year-old boy is hospitalized after having his ear torn off and receiving severe bites to the head by a medium-sized mixed breed dog. This attack was reported in one article and only in the local paper.
* August 21, 2007 - A 59-year-old woman is attacked in her home by two Pit bulls and is hospitalized with severe injuries.
This attack was reported in over two hundred and thirty articles in national and international newspapers, as well as major television news networks, including CNN, MSNBC and FOX.
People routinely cite media coverage as “proof” that pit bulls are more dangerous than other dogs. Costly and ineffective public policy decisions are being made on the basis of such "proof". While this biased reporting is not only lethal to an entire population of dogs; sensationalized media coverage endangers the public by misleading them about the real factors in canine aggression.
All information was researched and is fully documented by Karen Delise, LVT
Of course, anything is possible. I could probably snap and bite into someone's neck, although it is highly unlikely. So whenever I hear stories of dogs doing the same thing I try to dig a little deeper, like this reporter did in the Dallas Morning News:
"Neighbors said that Scott's family had moved in only about four months ago, but that their dogs had already become a nuisance. One neighbor, Rudy Lopez, said he saw a woman beating one of the dogs with a shovel a few weeks ago after it was involved in a fight with another dog."
Of course, I don't know what happened or if any of the comments reflect the truth about these dogs. But it goes without saying that letting your dogs run loose or requiring that neighbors beat them off with a shovel...doesn't reflect well on the owner's responsibility or supervision of these animals.
The tradition here is to have everyone pin a dollar to your chest with a safety pin. So far I have twelve bucks and it isn't even 10am.
Meanwhile, over at MySpace.com, a bunch of pit bulls have been posting birthday greetings for me all week.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
So, why would he admit to hanging and drowning dogs, but not to gambling?
The NFL has very strict guidelines regarding gambling.
On Saturday August 25th, Circle Food Store will reopen for business from 10am-5pm as a test to see if there is consumer interest. Of course, the press release announcing that it would be open was sent on Friday afternoon, giving consumers no notice that this historic event will occur. I'll probably pop by after Brad Beneschik's Revacuation signing from 10-noon at Sound Cafe.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
They also have an amusing addition to their round up of member activities:
Finally, member Ken Foster stands up for pit bulls in Salon today, while board member Rebecca Skloot has a dog which fell off the back off a truck and she'd like to find a home for it.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Actually, the original title was "Pit Bull, Mon Amour" but the headline was revised when it became the cover story. And, there is a bit of a heated debate raging already in the comments section.
Some further thoughts:
This was actually supposed to be a 1500 essay; it is running at 2500. I wrote about 5000. What I really want to do is write a whole book on the subject. One of the fascinating elements of the whole pit bull debate is that illustrates the ways in which we live in a society that wants easy answers. Things are good or bad, right or wrong. But reality is always somewhere in between.
Since the tone of the piece was personal, and space was limited, I didn't have time to include all of the research that I've read in the past couple of years. Some people have taken issue with this. But, I did make a point of including a number of sources. For example, it is pretty easy to go to the ASPCA website and download their policy paper on BSL. Or to find Karen Delise's books, which include "Fatal Dog Attacks," a book that covers over thirty years of statistics and concludes that these are the factors that need to be addressed for safety: function of the dog (ie. guard dogs, yard dogs, etc.), socialization, tethering and confinement, reproductive status. These are the factors in over 90% of all dog attacks. Most communities have laws that address these things but the laws are never enforced.
Also, the reason that BSL is wrong is not simply that it is illogical. It is that it doesn't make anyone safer. I'm all for laws addressing responsible dog ownership. I'm all for dog registration and even for standards for breeding--because one of the big problems is that there are too many dogs, period.
And, finally, I should reveal this: I was attacked by a dog several years ago. It was in a public park, charging at my own dog, and when I went to my dog's defense the other dog first grabbed my leg, then my arm. There was blood. Bystanders called the police. The dog's owners did nothing until the attack was over, at which point they said, "It has been a while since he's done this." The dog was a beagle. BSL wouldn't have stopped that attack. Since the dog had a history of this behavior, the owners should have made the decision to not unleash him in public. But like many owners of many different breeds of dog, they decided it couldn't happen again. For a while I was reluctant to go near another beagle--but at the same time, I also knew that this response was illogical.
And, finally, for people who wonder what my position is on gun control: there are some major differences between dogs and guns, particularly in the case of handguns, which are designed for only one function: shooting people.