Saturday, August 17, 2019

What's wrong with my behavior?


            Contrary to the opinions of my pet parents, I see nothing wrong with my behavior. Take this statement from one of my Great Pyrenees Facebook friends: “I roam, I bark, and I don’t always listen, but I’ll guard you and love you forever and always.”

Now I ask, “What more could you want in a four-legged child?” According to the Royal Parents—lots.  First, the powers of my bark collar seem to have diminished, no matter how snugly I wear it, and I am now able to bark whenever and however long I like.

What triggers a bark? It can be something as obvious as walkers on the street in front of the Royal Abode or deer in the driveway. On occasion, a leaf may fall from a tree, or as my Aunt Pam says about her dog, I may bark at an ant crawling on a blade of grass. As a vigilant guard dog, I must respond to all threats, even those unseen by humans. Unfortunately, Mum and Dad don’t appreciate this trait, especially before dawn.

Next, I have taken to “going walkabout” as Mum says.  For my readers who aren’t word nerds like Mum, “walkabout” is an Australian term for a journey taken by young Aboriginal males. Mum read it in one of her gazillion books and immediately saw it as a fitting term for my tendency to roam.  When I learned that young men take this journey between the ages of 10-16, I thought it seemed even more apropos.  I, after all, am twelve.

From the time I arrived at the Royal Abode at age two, I have had a tendency to wander. With our backyard electric fence, I’m able to go in and out our side door and contentedly roam the woods. My older adopted sister Tinker was well behaved enough to be allowed in the front yard with Mum and Dad even though there was no fence out there.  She’d sniff and smell and stay close. 

Not me! I’d go out the front door and stay close until my parents looked the other way.  In a flash, I’d set sail out of the yard and take off down the street. Mum says that despite my rather large size, I seemed to jog up the embankment and float over the bushes. Hence the term “set sail.” I enjoyed those adventures.  Dad?  Not so much. He’d chase after me, calling “Banjo, get back here right now; Banjo, come.” He said a few other things that can’t be printed in a family paper.

It only took a few of those episodes before I was banned from the front yard. My good behavior and failing eyesight, though, have recently earned me the privilege of visiting the front yard with Mum and Dad after dinner. I really don’t like going out the side door when it’s dark and prefer the well-lit front door. All was fine until I started expanding my boundaries and taking my sweet time responding to the come command.  My exploring the neighbor’s front yard was the last straw for Dad.

Now the debate at the Royal Abode is long and loud. “Do we drag him out the side door with a flashlight? Do we put a leash on him and walk him around the front yard? Whatever are we going to do with him?” My answer? Whatever makes me happy because “I roam, I bark, and I don’t always listen, but I’ll guard you and love you forever and always.” End of discussion.



Saturday, August 3, 2019

Health tips from Princess Puddin'

As I stand on Mum’s desk chair typing this column on her keyboard, it’s only fitting that she’s here in the office huffing and puffing through a workout with her exercise ball and weights. Once she’ finished with her ball wall squats, situps, bicep curls, and such, she’ll want her computer back so I need to hustle. It’s possible she’ll decide to add a walk to today’s workout, but you never know.

My health routine combines huffing and puffing with relaxation techniques and doesn’t involve props. Some might say I lean more to the stress relief side of the equation, but I also find time to exert myself daily.

I was prompted to write about this topic when I read a column in our local paper: “Bird-watching might mean better health, less stress.”  Humans are so funny.  They had to conduct a study to establish this fact, while we kitties have long known about the health benefits of bird-watching. 

I will grant you that my kitty friends who go outside sometimes do a bit more than watch, as in chase a bird here and there.  Me?  Confined to the indoors, I either watch the Outdoor Channel from the kitchen and living room windows or in warmer weather from the screened porch. It’s Dad’s responsibility to keep all bird feeders stocked so that I have entertainment in living color—bluebirds, cardinals, goldfinches, you name it.

The study conducted by the University of Exeter in Great Britain “[f]ound mental health benefits—less stress anxiety and depression—when people can see birds shrubs and trees around their homes.”  Well, duh!  “The researchers conclude: ‘Birds around the home, and nature, in general, show great promise in preventative health care . . .'"

I, being the intelligent kitty I am, try to begin every day watching the birds.  It’s my Ohm moment, followed occasionally by a calm purring spell in Mum’s lap as she drinks coffee. At some point thereafter, I stretch and then dash upstairs to do my sprint workout.  Mum and Dad wonder why I seem only to sprint upstairs, not downstairs.  Isn’t it obvious?  I have an uninterrupted running track from the far wall of the guest bedroom, down the hall, all the way through Dad’s office—from one end of the house to the other.

I sprint back and forth over and over, while my parents are downstairs laughing at the sound of  “dunt, da-dunt, da-dunt, da-dunt.”  With that routine complete, I choose between napping on Mum and Dad’s bed or getting several treats in the office—when Mum is available to place them in my cute kitty treat dish, that is.

My interval workout along with leaping atop tables, beds, and the backs of couches keeps me in super aerobic shape; and my relaxation routines like bird-watching, meditating on Mum’s yoga block, and of course, napping ensure I’m stress-free.  Mum has a lovely purple yoga block I’m partial too.  I fold my paws on it and close my eyes just like a yogi. 

Mum practiced yoga for years but gave it up when her long-time yoga teacher quit. She said it was her only calm time of the week because she focused solely on holding her poses without interference from a gazillion thoughts.  Personally, I think she could benefit from finding a new teacher. Barring that, she could assume the lotus position and join me as I meditate. Repeat after me … Ohm.

Princess Puddin’ Penn resides in Georgia with her dad, her mom Kathy Manos Penn, and her canine brother Lord Banjo. Please send comments, compliments, and questions to inkpenn119@gmail.com. She appears in “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch,” a book that can be found on Amazon.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

On becoming a star: Part 2

First I got a spiffy velvet robe,  and then Mum threw me a party. You can't believe how many oohs and aahs and belly rubs I got. Well, actually, if you know anything about me at all, you probably can believe the attention I got. After all, the Royal Pooch is hugely popular and handsome and sweet.

 Even though Mum is well known locally because of her columns, she joked that folks would be more interested in seeing me than they would be in seeing her, and you know what?  She was right.  We caught one person on camera saying, “We didn’t come to see the Royal Mum, we came to see Lord Banjo!” Proof positive, I’d say, that I’ve won the popularity contest.


You would have no doubts about my popularity if you could have seen my fans throwing their arms around my neck or neck or kneeling at my paws as they gazed adoringly at me. My loyal subjects came to the Royal Bash bearing gifts!  That’s right; I received a plush purple rug, several squeaky toys, and even brownies.  I hardly got a peek at the brownies before Dad snatched them up. Maybe best of all was the cute little boy who brought his toys to share with me. We two had a grand time playing on the floor together.


If my Great Pyrenees ancestors could see me dressed in my royal robe and crown, I'm convinced they'd be proud of me.  Louis XIV may have declared those gentle giants the Royal Dogs of the French court, but I bet they didn’t have a Royal Bash or a Royal Seamstress. To complement my royal robe and crown, the Royal Mum wore a tiara, and Dad donned a purple robe. The entire family looked spiffy that day—except, of course, Princess Puddin’.  


We didn’t invite my calico sister to the party, and I’m sure she’d have thrown a little fit had we tried to dress her up. Do you think the term hissy fit comes from kitty behavior?  Puddin’ is a sweet girl, but she throws a spectacular fit when Mum brushes her. On those occasions, the entire neighborhood knows the Princess is not happy!  I can only imagine how the fur would fly if Mum attempted to dress her in a tiny velvet cape. Me? I love my new duds and wish Mum would let me wear them more often.  She insists they’re only for special occasions. The rest of the time I must make do with the sporty bandanas the Royal Groomer gives me. 


After the hoopla of the Royal Bash, the Royal Abode seemed unnaturally quiet. I got my usual belly rubs from Dad and a few rubs from Mum as I dozed beneath her desk, but having only two people to make over me was no longer enough. “Hey Mum,” I barked, “You need to fill my schedule with weekly appearances to ensure I continuously get the respect and belly rubs I’m due.” Suffice it to say, those words resulted in a snippy response from Mum, and she proceeded to educate me on the difference between polite requests and rude demands. 


Eventually, Mum calmed down and proceeded to fill my schedule, and I have been enjoying the nonstop adoration ever since. This week I have my third appearance at a local summer camp where twenty-five young campers will hug me and love me and read aloud from my book. Yes, life is good.


Lord Banjo lives in Georgia with his Mum, Kathy Manos Penn. Find similar stories in his book, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch,” available on Amazon. Contact him at inkpenn119@gmail.com.