Soul of an Octopus

By Sy Montgomery

You might think a book on octopuses would be the farthest from my list of book reviews about dogs and the  environment, but octopuses are very smart, inquisitive, and have individual personalities. In many ways, the octopuses at the aquarium can act as pets, remembering people who interact with them and express their feelings by blowing water at those they don’t like. They enjoy getting their heads petted, and playing, much like a dog.

Soul of an Octopus bookOctopuses can even show affection towards humans by tasting them and hanging onto their arms. They can change color rapidly to show their emotions, red for anger or excitement, white for contentment, and other colors to blend into their environment as camouflage. Sometimes octopuses escape their tanks or seem to play tricks on their caretakers. They enjoy working puzzles and need to have something to do or they get bored.

The author, Sy Montgomery, wanted to get to know octopuses better, so she started with a visit to the New England Aquarium, where she met Athena, the first octopus she ever touched. The meeting intrigued her into frequent visits and getting to know the aquarists and their concerns for the animal’s environments. Octopuses only live a few years, and the book covers several octopuses at the aquarium and the trials imposed on them with conditions at the aquarium.  Octopuses are as unique as their names, Octavia, Kali, and Karma. Eventually Sy wants to see octopuses in the wild and learns how to scuba dive, which presents many problems, but ultimately leads to many successes.

This book is not a documentary, but a very enjoyable read recounting her experiences with these octopuses, the aquarists, and the concerns of spacing, compatibility, and other problems experienced at public aquariums.

I recommend this book to open our eyes to the world around us and to experience other intelligent beings. The Soul of an Octopus was a National Book Award Finalist and I give it a 5 out of 5 stars.

Jake’s Tower

To what extent would you go to so your dog could see people walking by in the park?

Instead of installing a different fence so his dog could see people and dogs in the park, my neighbor built a tower for his dog Jake.

Dog tower

The Tower of Jake, so Jake could watch the park over the fence. Note the house could use repair.

Dog in tower

Jake viewing from his tower.

Dog barking at fence

Only my dogs don’t look up to the tower, they only understand dogs at the ground level.

Blogpaws wordless Wednesday

What extent would you go to so your dog would be entertained?

This is a nearly wordless Wednesday blog hop. Please comment and view other posts.

Beware of Spring Fever

The first nice days of spring have finally arrived after weeks of cold and rain. But this time of year always makes me wary for pets, especially dogs. Back when I was a young teen, on one of the first warm days in early May, my dad took our 7-month-old mixed breed puppy Rexy for a long walk. He had let him run lose to get some exercise, but the skittish dog saw some people and ran into a busy street—getting run over by a car.

Photo of Rexy


There was no blood. All I remember is my dad carrying his limp body up the stairs into the house to retrieve his car keys. Rexy died on the way to the vet.

Cars kill 1.2 million dogs each year and 5.4 million cats.



The first few warm weeks of spring seems to be when people are careless, learning how to adjust after a long winter indoors, so are their pets. My many decades as a dog owner have shown me:

Spring Fever Concerns:

  • More people are outside with their dogs.
  • More cars are on the roads – once quiet streets have more traffic.
    • Keep your dog on a leash.
  • More people are in the parks with kids wanting to pet your dog.
    • If you say it’s okay for one kid to pet your dog, don’t be surprised when a group of kids want to join in. Watch your dog—he may panic and bite out of fear. I don’t let kids in the park pet my dogs.
  • More dogs get loose from their yards or leashes since they spend more time outdoors.
    • When a loose dog approaches me while I am walking my dogs, I usually yell at it with a deep voice (this is especially important for women), and raise my arms above my head and shake them. This makes me look larger and usually works. I don’t let my dogs sniff loose dogs, since this could lead to a fight. If I want to catch the loose dog, I protect my dogs first, and then try to coax the dog into my yard, or call the police. I have called our local police many times for dogs that followed me. Yes, there is a fine to pay to get the dog back, but better a safe dog then a dead one.
  • People are more likely to purchase or adopt dogs in the spring.
    • Some people are first time dog owners and inexperienced. Some have to get used to a new dog. Shelters and pet shops may be more crowded.
  • Dogs are unaccustomed to the warmth and can easily get overheated.
    • Your dog may not have gone for many long walks over the cold months, so don’t go out expecting to do a 5-mile walk.
    • Your dog may still have his winter coat and need to wait for it to shed into his summer coat.
    • Dogs that have their fur shaved in the summer may need their first summer buzz cut or they will get over heated.
  • There is little shade since the trees haven’t leafed out, so finding a shady spot for your dog is harder.
  • Ticks come out early in the spring and can get your dog sick if he is not protected with a repellent or pesticide.
  • The weather can change quickly, so don’t leave your dog unsupervised in the yard for long periods. Tornadoes and severe storms occur more often in April and May (at least in the Midwest) than in other months.

Both you and your dog have to get used to these changes, so beware of spring and its hidden dangers.

Please comment on your observations on pets and the first warm days of spring, and sign up to receive future posts by email.

Is your Dog a Ball Dog?

About half of my dogs have loved chasing tennis balls. I love to hit the ball with a baseball bat to make the ball go faster and to test my skill at hitting it with one arm. This post is dedicated to some of the ball dogs in my life, both living and not (including my mom).

Cocker spaniel with a ball

Buffy & her ball

Cocker spaniel chasing a ball in the lake

Buffy waits for the waves to bring back her ball.

Dogs with a ball

My mom with her dogs and mine ready to chase a ball.

Blogpaws wordless Wednesday

This is a Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop. Please post your comments on if you have a ball dog and visit other blogs.

Will Buffy and me see you at the BlogPaws conference in Myrtle Beach on May 18 – 20th?