The Dog Days of August
Loving Our ‘Best Friends’
'Karen and Jay, along with Tiger Woofs, celebrate the many virtues of our beloved 4-legged friends!'
Dogs are special. The unconditional loyalty, appreciation and love. There’s really nothing like it. No matter what kind of day you’ve had, when you walk through the door at home at the end of a long day, your best friend is there to greet you. Excited, happy and full of energy. And all of a sudden, the world is bright again. Everything is A-OK!
Whether it be in a movie, book, or in regular conversation, you’ve probably heard the phrase ‘dog days of summer.’ Though it's a phrase we may hear often, its origins are regularly misunderstood. Some might even wonder if it has anything to do with dogs. The phrase actually comes from the world of astrology when the star Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (meaning ‘big dog’ in Latin), rises with the sun during the months of July and August. Ancient Greeks and Romans were said to have believed that the heat from both the sun and Sirius made this period the hottest of the year.
Over time of course, the phrase has naturally come to take on a meaning of its own. When I think of the dog days of summer, I don’t think of a constellation, instead I am immediately reminded of warm summer days with my dog Sparky and generally, my love of dogs. After rescuing him from a shelter, Sparky became my best friend for 14 years. An overweight mutt, and certainly not an athlete, Sparky was the friendliest and kindest dog I’ve ever known. He was also fiercely loyal to the extent that my daughter Morgan once told me that when I would leave on a business trip, he’d stay by the door, sometimes for days at a time, waiting for me to get home. And when I had a tough day, he’d show his love, immediately changing my entire outlook.
Anyone who has had a dog will tell you that they are the embodiment of positive energy. On top of their loyalty, they tend to be incredibly selfless and kind, exerting an unconditional love that’s hard to find anywhere else. When their tails begin to wag as you enter the room or offer them a little treat, it can’t help but bring a smile to your face. While they can be clumsy from time to time and maybe even get into a bit of mischief, the bond between a dog and its owner is incredibly special. It’s something we may not think about, but dogs can teach us incredible lessons. Their capacity to sense our own emotions has the power to do incredible things, as we’ve seen dogs used to help support veterans returning home from deployment. As a dog owner, I’ve found myself even learning about the importance of love and loyalty from my dogs, and how it can positively impact my relationship with friends, family, and colleagues. Thinking about it now, it gives an important new meaning to these dog days of summer and reminds me of why dogs are considered man's best friend.
Clark’s Bears, Which Started with Dogs!
Clark’s Bears, or as it is more commonly known, Clark’s Trading Post in Lincoln, NH is a top summer and fall attraction for visitors all around the world as well as for Granite State Natives. The story of this family run business is almost as remarkable as the activity happening there today.
Clark’s Bears was started in 1928 by Florence and Ed Clark as Ed Clark's Eskimo Sled Dog Ranch’ where visitors to the area could come and see Ed Clark’s purebred Eskimo sled dogs. They didn’t begin to possess bears until 1931, and the formal bear show didn’t begin until 1949 when their sons Edward and Murray returned home from service in World War II. The brothers’ service in the war was unique in that they were given passports to go over and train Scottish troops how to use their sled dogs on a mission to shut down the German production of Heavy Water, a key ingredient in nuclear production!
Their truly remarkable nature of this story did not end there though. Clark’s Bears even today showcases antique tools and equipment much of which the brothers moved, repaired, and rebuilt themselves at the trading post. Both brothers were active in political life with Edward helping to spearhead tourism in the White Mountains and promoting hydroelectric energy. Murray served 10 years in the New Hampshire House and was known for using the sled dogs as an analogy for how to work together. I actually served with Murray in the House during the ‘70’s and I can attest that he was humorous, convincing and a wonderful man.
The brothers both passed in the late 2000’s and today Clark’s Bears continues to be a site that outdoes its name. The bear show is still going on and you can ride the antique trains down the tracks the Clark brothers laid, where you will be inevitably chased by the Wolfman as he protects his mine much to the delight, and sometimes terror, of the children riding along!
Please make it a point to visit Clark’s Trading Post the next time you are in the area and are looking for a great family adventure. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
As many of you know and as I have talked about in previous Sunshine Reports, I love dogs. There is not a more loyal, caring, fun, and amazing creature then a dog.
Recently, I was returning on a flight and was streaming a few shows on my laptop. One of the movies I watched was ‘Turner and Hooch’ starring Tom Hanks. What an 80’s classic. At home with Karen, we recently enjoyed a ‘throwback’ - watching ‘Benji,’ a great movie with an uncanny ability to tell a story through the eyes of a dog. Meanwhile, how bout ‘The Queen’s Corgi.’ The film and acting are great but I really enjoyed the Corgi dogs in the film (my friend Russell Prescott has that breed of dogs). So that got me thinking. What are some of the famous dogs we remember throughout history that became household names? Here are few that come to mind.
TV dogs - How about Lassie. Or Comet from Full House. Or Rin Tin Tin, the famous super dog. Of course, one of my favorites is the beloved Jack Russell Terrier, Eddie, from hit show Frazier.
Cartoon Dogs – At the top of any list, Snoopy is without a doubt one of the most famous cartoon dogs as well as the superhero dog Underdog! But how about Mickey’s beloved dog, Pluto, and of course, Lady from Lady and the Tramp!
Then, there are the political dogs in history. In the White House there is Barney, George W. Bush’s Scottish Terrier who became such a national icon that he received his own website - Barney.gov.
Then there is Millie, the springer spaniel who garnered national attention during the 4 years George and Barbara Bush spent in the White House. Millie was also an accomplished author. Her published book brought in $900,000 in revenue! Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t recite one of Bush 41’s favorite quotes, no not “read my lips,” but rather a famous line from the 1992 debate where he said “My dog Millie knows more about foreign policy then these two bozos (referring to Clinton and Perot).”
Whether you it’s movies, politics, popular culture or just everyday life, dogs are central to our American way of life. And, even though your dog might not have his own tv show or best-selling book, your 4-legged friend will always be part of the fabric of your life.
Profile of the Week
This week we are delighted to highlight a dynamic individual who is doing great things to help our 4-legged friends. This former First Lady of Manchester, Cassandra Gatsas.
Cassandra is the wife of current New Hampshire Executive Councilor and former Mayor of Manchester, Ted Gatsas. Since Ted began his career in public service back in 1999, Cassandra has been their every step of the way.
Beyond her support for Ted, however, Cassandra has also distinguished herself by the remarkable efforts she has spearheaded on behalf of animals.
Over on the West Side of Manchester, just off Dunbarton Road, is the Manchester City Animal Shelter. The great success and expansive programs to support animals in need is in large part thanks to the work that Cassandra and her team have been doing. Since 1995, Cassandra has served on the Animal Shelter Board and never backing down from a challenge, Cassandra has led the charge in the creation of specialty care programs for pets and the expansion of the shelter footprint in order to help more animals. (I would be remiss if I didn’t let people know they can support the Manchester Animal Shelter by attending their annual ‘Wine and Chocolate’ fundraising event at the Currier Museum of Art on October 16th. I’m sure Cassandra has a few tickets she can sell you!)
But it’s not just the shelter where Cassandra has been a defender of animals. Cassandra served on the commission established by Governor John Lynch to end animal cruelty. And rather than just promote and advocate for the adoption of pets, Cassandra is doing it herself as well. She and Ted have several cats in their home including their beloved 3-legged cat Princess Aruba Ruby.
Cassandra is always there for animals and her handwork is making a difference every day! Thank you, Cassandra for all you are doing! We are indeed blessed by your efforts.
Quotes of the Week: Dogs
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.”
“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.”
“I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.”
“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.”
“If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog.”
Harry S. Truman