No Shoes, Please: Puppy school

In October, we got Eloise, a labradoodle puppy untrained in every possible way. Both of us needed a puppy training course, so we enrolled in a class consisting of 10 puppies of varying breeds, sizes and temperaments. Basically, the dogs frolic together, and then play is interrupted with commands – sit, follow, leave it, take it, come, etc.

The pups are off-leash because they have to learn to pay attention amid temptation, distraction and a little bit of chaos. Some puppies readily snap back into heeding their humans, others want to keep playing. Eloise occupies the latter category. However, we owners come equipped with tasty bribes to ensure that when the instructor interrupts play and orders us to practice a particular command on our dogs, Eloise and her classmates will fall in line.

Haugh About That?: Through the eyes of a child

Racing into the kitchen with excitement in every breath she took, Jenni announced that she was preparing a snack for Santa. It was 1994, and our home was exquisitely decorated for the Christmas season. But staring at my precious, doe-eyed child, I became concerned when it hit me that, at 11-years-old, she somehow missed the memo that Kris Kringle was just a fairy tale.

Pulling her older sister aside, I asked, “Michelle, did you know that Jenni still believes in Santa Claus? I fear that kids will make fun of her if they find out.”

No Shoes, Please: Amazon woman


I don’t know how I managed my life before Amazon Prime, but somehow I did.

The Villaj Idiut: Oral hijinks

In 1999, my wife and I bicycled across Italy. We sort of winged it, which means we did not know where we were going to lay our heads each night; we left it up to how far we trundled on a particular day to determine where we stayed.

One Saturday, as we were riding through the beautiful but daunting hills of Cinque Terre and the hotels filled briskly with Italians visiting the scenic panoramas, we ended up at the only lodging we could find: a place next to a train station in La Spezia – in other words, a dump.

Haugh About That?: Miracles happen


As I walked the hospice doctor to the front door, a question burned inside. Dad was entering the final phase of his life, and he’d recently announced that he planned to walk again. Because he hadn’t moved his legs in more than seven years, I suffered over the impossibility.

A Piece of My Mind: Life after life

Your first life is as a child, as you encounter the world. My grandson asking the big questions at 6: “How did the galaxies start? What was there before the tiny lump of all the matter in the universe? Why did God explode it?”

Your second life is governed by hormones: “Will I be pretty?” “Will I be attractive?” “Can I find a mate?” “Will we have kids?” “Can we have kids?”

The Villaj Idiut: The joys - and stresses - of yoga

I have a confession to make: I do yoga. Hot yoga.

Yoga is a hilarious paradox. While it is supposed to be the most spiritual, existential, philosophical discipline there is, it is also shockingly stressful.

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