Downeast Dog News

Ask Bammy

By Nancy Holmes | Sep 01, 2021

I am a Carolina Dog, a breed that owned Native American people a long time ago. We were designed by natural selection to be so intelligent and physically superior that we survived without human help. My great-grandfather was caught as a wild puppy. I offer advice based on the natural instincts and attributes of wild dogs. In addition, my adopted person and I 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 offer sympathy, and we have some fun talking about our amazing humans. Please send any last letters to N. Holmes, 280 Pond Rd., Newcastle, ME 04553 or


A long time ago, Boss stopped going away every morning. She called it “retirement.” She still wasn’t much fun because she just played with the clickety thing that she named, “Computer.” But at least I could lie close beside her, so retirement was a good thing.

When I was still a little puppy, Boss and I started playing a game called “Agility.” Every week, we drove to a place almost as big as outdoors where there were lots of fun things for play. Like a tunnel that I could run through. Boy, was that fun! I scampered through it as fast as I could right into Boss’s arms. There were high, high things to climb on. I loved looking out over everything. But Boss didn’t understand. She wanted me to run up and run right down the other side fast. We argued about that for years! Really! What’s the point of getting high up if you don’t stop to enjoy it?

When I was grown up, we started going to agility places with lots of loud people and barking dogs. But it was exciting running with Boss at those events. I learned that when she sent me out to obstacles, she took shortcuts so I could run faster she being awfully slow. Sometimes people laughed and clapped, and Boss got all happy and gave me handfuls of treats.

Sometimes I decided what obstacles to do instead of her deciding. Boss was never happy about that, but she was always nice to me and gave me treats. After years of that, I began to get tired of the long car rides, crowds of people, and noise, and Boss never letting me decide how we would play. So it was more fun to visit the judge and sniff around. Finally, she gave me a vacation.

When we went back to one of those noisy places, it was just the same. Boring. So she gave me a looong vacation. We practiced at home once in a while, but even that wasn’t fun anymore. She took me to one more big, noisy event, but I just sat sadly at the start line, so she took me right home. Retired! She finally got it!

Now don’t get me wrong, pups. I have loved writing about our lives, ‘specially life with our wonderful humans. But I have been doing it for a long time thinking how to help with dog problems and what I should NOT write. It’s so hard to help without being too harsh with our wonderful humans.

I’m an old dog. I love to sleep most of the day, then it’s my job to make Boss go for a walk. Frankly, that’s the best part of the day! I can still run pretty fast, and there’s nothing wrong with my nose. Turkey smell, deer, porcupines, coyotes and more. But I soon want to go home and sleep in our nice, safe den, where I just run to one of the sleep-travel places. Sometimes I wake myself up barking or howling with the coyotes. I just smile and go back to sleep.

So all these words Boss is writing for me today are just to say that I am retiring again. No agility, no column. It has been SO much fun! I wagged at every letter you wonderful readers sent me. Thanks to Boss for typing for me and to Downeast Dog News for printing my column.

Dear poochies, remember: we need our wonderful, silly humans, and they need us to keep showing them that the REALLY important things are fun and love and just enjoying life right now.

Keep it wagging,



Boss (Nancy Holmes) writes:

Just a few days after Bammy had me write this column, he died. We had a good walk the day before.

I call him my miracle dog. I read a Smithsonian Magazine article about Carolina dogs and fell in love. Fourteen years later, I flew back from South Carolina with a little puppy under my airline seat, given to me by the naturalist who is rescuing and promoting this breed. I could not be more blessed: fourteen years with the best, most beautiful dog ever. Thank you, breeder, Dr. Lehr Brisbin with lots of help from Pat Watkins, owner of Bammy’s late parents, Star and Jessie, and his surviving littermate Tilly.

Check it out on the internet: