Downeast Dog News

Ask Bammy, a Column for Dogs by a Dog

By Nancy Holmes | Jan 04, 2021
Photo by: Nancy Holmes Pookah gets to lie on the sofa!

I am a Carolina Dog, a breed that long ago owned Native American people. We were designed by natural selection to be so intelligent and physically superior that we survived without human help. My great-grandfather was caught from the wild. I can offer advice based on the natural instincts and attributes of wild dogs. In addition, my adopted person and I have had lots of training classes and other experiences. Some humans call themselves Mom or Dad of their dog, but I refer to my human, tongue in cheek, as Boss. Much as I love her, I admit she has many of the same odd notions as most humans, so I can relate to other dogs with problem humans. If I can’t help, at least I can offer sympathy, and we can have some fun talking about our amazing humans. Please send your questions! N. Holmes, 280 Pond Rd., Newcastle, ME 04553, or email:


About Getting Old

I’ve been here a long time. Boss says I am 12 years old, and she must be the same age. We’re both really good at things, and we both forget things a lot. When she tells me to get her slippers, I’m excited to do something for her (and get a treat, of course). But quite often I can’t remember what “slippers” means. I rush off looking for anything that helps me remember. I grab a ball, drop it, pounce on a bone, nudge Kibbleball. She calls me back, tells me to sit and listen. “Listen! Slippers! SLIPPERS!” That helps me see a picture of slippers behind my eyes, and I run to get them. Sometimes Boss goes upstairs and just stands there, looking around…looking around. Then she may make that “Oh yes!” look and get something to take downstairs.


Boss’s legs must be lots older than mine. When we go far a “walk,” as she calls it, I run and run. There’s a long hill in the field. Boss just walks down it, but I pin back my ears and run as fast as I ever could. When we take a long walk in the woods at the end of the afternoon, I run in big circles around her, sniffing for any wild, exciting thing. But when Boss says, “Let’s go home!” I remember supper, and I start running for home. Wouldn’t you think she would run, too? But no. She just plods along, so I keep stopping to let her catch up. I’ve always stayed near her in the woods, to protect her. You never know when there might be danger out there. Sometimes I smell bad things.


There is a string of bells by the door that I poke with my nose when I want to go out. Boss eventually comes and opens the door for me. If it takes her a long time, sometimes I can’t remember why I wanted to go out. She gently bumps the door or my shoulder, saying “Go out…or…come in…OR…go out…OR…come in.” I know that “OR” means I have to do one thing or the other. But do I really want to go out? Especially if it’s cold and rainy?


We both used to hear when a car came in the yard, but now we don’t know there’s someone there until they ring the bell. That’s pretty scary for me, and the way she hurries to the door, I think it scares her, too. Sometimes, especially outdoors, I can’t hear Boss well, so she waves her hands for me to come. She talks a lot with her hands and her face. But I don’t always come right away. Really, I’m old enough to make up my own mind.


One of the best things she forgets is to put food out of reach when she turns her back. Yippee! I scored a BIG chunk of salmon one day. What a treat! She screeched at me and tried to scare me, but we have lived together for 12 years, so I know she won’t hurt me. I just try to look meek and humble, so she’ll stop screeching. Just as soon as she’s quiet, I know it’s time to start begging again. She just shakes her head and tells me a lot of things I don’t get.


Sometimes she leaves food on the table that isn’t worth the screeching. I sit by the table, pointing to the food, and whine. Boss gets all lovey and gives me especially good treats. “What a good dog! Good leave it!” I get something much better than the tomato soup or whatever I was begging for.


Getting older is pretty good. You know so many ways to get what you want.

So go for it, you gray-muzzled smarties!