Archives for May 2012

Lest We Forget

Arlington National Cemetery: Tomb of the Unknowns

From a distance, Tavish witnesses the ceremony underway at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Sentinels from the Third U.S. Infantry headquartered at Fort Myer maintain a round-the-clock vigil. Guard changes occur every hour (and every 1/2 hour from April 1 through September 30) with a somber ritual.

UPDATE: As of October 26, 2016, Arlington National Cemetery no longer permits leashed dogs, except for service animals and military working dogs.

The last place you’d expect to find serenity is among vacationing families, high school field trippers, and trams loaded with tourists. And you’d be right…except this is Arlington National Cemetery. Even without the discreet signage to “conduct yourself with propriety,” most folks inherently realize that this is a place of honor. As such, you might pick up on the fact that there’s no recreational jogging or cycling on the grounds, and a general hush prevails. It’s a place that is at once peaceful but solemn, heroic yet tragic, both beautiful and brittle.

You don’t see many dogs at Arlington National Cemetery, though they are expressly permitted (see “Dogging the Details” below). Not to anthropomorphize, but Tavish our Intrepid Pup clearly picks up on the vibe during our visits that these are times for calm and respect. Usually most content only when his leash is fully extended, here—and without command—Tavish invariably sticks at a close heel.

We initially avoid the bulk of the crowds by walking up the steeply sloping Custis Walk. It winds by the grave of President William H. Taft as well as past the tomb of Mary Randolph, the first person known to be buried at Arlington. At the top of the hill are two memorable sights: Arlington House and a stunning panoramic view across the Potomac River of Washington, DC’s downtown monuments.

Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial

Maintained by the National Park Service, Arlington House is in the final phase of a multi-year restoration. The building is currently unfurnished, with certain rooms closed to the public, but visitors are encouraged to take a self-guided tour.

Quite simply, were it not for Arlington House, there would be no Arlington National Cemetery. The Greek temple-style house was constructed in 1802 by George Washington Parke Custis (1781-1857), who had been raised from infancy at Mount Vernon by none other than his grandmother Martha (Custis) Washington and her second husband George Washington. Custis intended for Arlington House to be both a family home and a tribute to his illustrious step-grandfather. Further cementing its place in history was the 1831 wedding in the parlor of Custis’s daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis and Lt. Robert E. Lee, son of Revolutionary War Hero Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee. The marriage united two prominent Virginia families. When Virginia seceded from the Union on April 19, 1861, Robert E. Lee resigned his commission from the U.S. Army the next day and sided with his home state. Lee’s decision not only inexorably altered the course of the American Civil War but also cost him his home. To defend the nation’s capital, Union troops made preparations to occupy the strategically situated Arlington House. The Lee family left in haste in May 1861, and when Lee’s wife failed to pay property taxes in person, the home was confiscated. Government officials—interpreting Lee’s loyalty to Virginia as an act of treason—further sought to ensure against the Lees’ return by establishing a military cemetery on their land.  Lee’s uprooted family would never again live at Arlington House, and Arlington National Cemetery was born.

Tavish at Arlington National Cemetery

Tavish on the Custis Walk at Arlington National Cemetery, overlooking the eternal flame at President John F. Kennedy’s grave.

Roads through the cemetery are named almost entirely for American military heroes (Pershing, Nimitz, MacArthur, Eisenhower, etc.). Following them takes you on an introspective journey among the cemetery’s more than 250,000 graves. If you’re of a certain age, the memorials for the crews of Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia will hold special meaning. And if you’re of another certain age, the eternal flame marking the grave of President John F. Kennedy will take you back to that fateful day in Dallas. Then there’s the main mast of the U.S.S. Maine, erected in the memory of those who died in the explosion in Havana Harbor in 1898. Individual headstones honor the final resting places of veterans who also distinguished themselves in other arenas—folks like heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist,  polar explorer Richard Byrd, and astronaut Gus Grissom. The iconic Memorial Amphitheater provides the backdrop for the Tomb of the Unknowns, and the changing of the guard ceremony will leave a lump in your throat no matter how many times you see it. Further afield is the Pentagon Group Burial Marker, a five-sided black granite memorial to those who died in the Pentagon or on American Airlines Flight 77 during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

It was here, on our most recent visit (this very Memorial Day weekend), that we were joined by a small group who had just pulled up on their Harley-Davidsons. One middle-aged women initiated conversation, explaining that she was in town for the Memorial Day Rolling Thunder activities that heighten awareness for POW/MIAs. “Best thing I’ve ever done,” she said. She gestures in the direction of another woman, clad in a white leather biker jacket. “Do you see that lady there?” she asked. “She’s a gold star mother. Her son died in Iraq in ’03. We just came from visiting his grave.” She tugged at the back of her own leather jacket to show us the patch that all her chapter members wear in his memory. A sobering moment.

And then there is Section 60.

The tenor of the cemetery perceptibly changes here from past to present. It’s the only area in Arlington National Cemetery where placing mementos beyond traditional flowers is officially sanctioned. Here you see snapshots propped up against the headstones. Candles spelling out “Happy Birthday.” A tethered heart-shaped balloon emblazoned with “I Love You.” Here the emotional scars are still as raw as the ground where grass has yet to grow over, where—in some instances—a permanent marker has yet to be placed. The standard signage seen elsewhere in the cemetery gives way here to signs that read simply, “Funeral Route.” Removed from the throngs is where Arlington is experienced at perhaps its most profound. Here is where the nation’s war dead from Afghanistan are being buried.

Oddly, your visit to Arlington up to this point isn’t quite adequate preparation for the visceral reality of Section 60, and it hits you like the proverbial ton of bricks. Ahead on the path, several rows in, we noticed a woman (a wife? mother? sister?) standing stock still before a grave where she had spread what appeared to be a red, white, and blue handmade quilt. We maintained a respectful distance so as not to intrude, and she was unaware of our presence. Yet, just as we were about to pass, she stirred, and in one fluid movement lay down upon the quilt, curling onto her side, eyes closed in a private, unspeakable grief.

Dogging the Details

Click to see what a "1" on the Wag-a-meter means 38°52′34.59″N,  77° 4′13.83″W
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

38°52′51.92″N,  77° 4′20.91″W
Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial
, Arlington, Virginia

Arlington National CemeteryFor as many times as we’ve visited Arlington National Cemetery over the years, it wasn’t until a friend and fellow dog owner recently mentioned it, that we were aware that leashed dogs are allowed on the grounds. Unless they’re service animals, they aren’t permitted in the visitor center buildings or inside Arlington House.

The Cemetery’s accessibility earns it a “1” on the Intrepid Pup wag-a-meter. The Cemetery has its own Metrorail  stop on the blue line and is regular destination on most guided tours of the area , but if you’re coming with your pet, these aren’t options. If you’re coming on foot, you can reach the Cemetery’s main entrance from the pedestrian trails that run over the Memorial Bridge and along Route 110 and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Your best bet, however, is simply to park onsite at the Cemetery. There is ample vehicle parking in the paid lot off Memorial Drive, and rates are quite reasonable (currently, $1.75/hour for the first three hours and $2.50/hour thereafter). There is no admission fee to the Cemetery or to Arlington House. Once on the grounds, the Cemetery is extremely walkable, with well-marked paved drives and posted locator maps. Maps are also available from the visitors center. Be mindful that much of the cemetery’s 624 acres is hilly (“Uphill in both directions!” we overheard one family remark), so plan accordingly and bring plenty of water for yourself and your dog. Temperatures, particularly in the summer months, routinely exceed 80 degrees. Though the sheer expanse of the grounds readily absorbs crowds, Arlington National Cemetery attracts upwards of 4 million visitors annually, so be prepared for lots of people at popular locations like the Tomb of the Unknowns.

 

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Cheers to Dog-Inspired Beers!

Intrepid Pup pint glass and bottle caps from dog-inspired brews

Why, yes that is an Intrepid Pup pint glass! And it’s surrounded by bottle caps representing some dog-inspired brews and breweries. How many do you recognize?

Did you realize that the average American lives within 10 miles of a brewery? So says the Brewers Association, and they’re in a  position to know. This national association represents more than 70% of the American brewing industry, with its members making more than 99% of all beer brewed in the United States.

All fascinating facts, to be sure, but how does this relate to the Intrepid Pup? Well, it’s American Craft Beer Week®, an annual celebration since 2006 that showcases more than 1,900 small and independent craft brewers with thousands of community-based events across all 50 states.

While true beer purists this week have focused on things like hop content, organic sourcing, and original gravity calculators, the Intrepid Pup has taken a totally different tack:  dog-inspired beers and breweries.

Beer is an elixir that’s the product of art, chemistry, and a lot of time and patience. Many a brewer over the centuries has stood watch over a mash tun with a faithful canine companion, so perhaps it’s no wonder that a few have taken that relationship a step further and made those dogs the very faces of their breweries. Let’s take a look at some modern examples in 11 different states:

Spanish Peaks Brewing Company’s Black Dog Ales hail from Polson, Montana. The original “black dog” gazing out of the logo is Chugwater Charlie Hill (a.k.a. “Chug”). Though Chug is no longer alive, he was a prolific stud with many surviving descendants, and Chug’s granddaughter Taylor is owned by the current brewer. Chug’s paw print appears on the brewery’s bottle caps.

Lagunitas Brewing Company – Petaluma, California:  Petey, the spunky American Staffordshire Terrier of Little Rascals fame, is the basis for the fictional pup whose visage graces every Lagunitas bottle cap. It was hoped that the loyalty of man’s best friend would resonate with customers and translate to loyalty to the brand. Looks like the strategy is working pretty well!

Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s Smuttynose Brewing Company uses a harbor seal in its marketing but calls a Weimaraner/Brittany Spaniel mix named Olive (1991-2007) the “iconic mascot and spirit guide of our brewery.” Olive was the inspiration both for Old Brown Dog Ale in the brewery’s first year of operation in 1994 and also for the Really Old Brown Dog Ale released 13 years later.

Big Dog’s Brewing Company out of Las Vegas, Nevada, features a head shot profile of a black Labrador Retriever and a beer line-up that includes Red Hydrant Ale, Watch Dog Wit, Alpha Dog Double Red, and Wonderdog Double IPA.

Halfway around the world, after climbing K2—the world’s second highest peak—in 1983, George Stranahan happened upon a painting of a dog with bat wings. The surreal image stuck with him, influencing the moniker of the Flying Dog Brewpub he founded in 1990 in Aspen, Colorado. By 1994 it had become the full-blown Flying Dog Brewery in Denver and is now based out of Frederick, Maryland. Since 1996 the edgy, ink-spattered dogs drawn by British artist Ralph Steadman (b. 1936) have been hallmarks of the brewery’s bottle caps and labels. The beers include Garde Dog, Dogtoberfest, K-9 Winter Ale, Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout, and four beers in a special “Canis Major” line.

Roswell Barker, an English bulldog, is the mascot for Portland, Oregon’s Hair of the Dog: “Loyal…Pure…Faithful…Wet Nose.”

Turns out there’s a real dog behind Laughing Dog Brewing of Ponderay, Idaho, and it’s the family yellow Labrador Retriever named Ben. There’s even a “laughing dog” apprentice in Ben’s son Ruger. The brewery’s self-proclaimed “fetchingly good beers” include Alpha Dog IPA, DogZilla Black IPA, Cold Nose Winter Ale, Devil Dog Imperial IPA, and Dogfather Imperial Stout.

Barney, an uncharacteristically water-loving Great Pyrenees, is the “sea dog” of Maine’s Sea Dog Brewing Company. Barney has since passed on but is immortalized with his paw print on the bottle caps and his cheerful countenance—wearing a Sou’wester Fisherman’s hat—appearing on all the labels.

A cartoonish, sleepy dalmatian is the logo for Sleepy Dog Brewery of Tempe, Arizona. The dog theme extends to the names of its brews, which include Wet Snout Milk Stout, Tail Chaser American IPA, Red Rover Irish Red Ale, and Dog Pound Pale Ale.

Thirsty Dog Brewing Company in Akron, Ohio, depicts a lovable, floppy-eared scamp holding a beer mug in its mouth. He’s even on the bottle caps!

Wild Blue, the specialty fruit lager infused with blueberries first released by mega-brewery Anheuser-Busch in 2005, can hardly qualify as a true “craft beer,” but we’re including it here for two reasons:  1. A comical, stylized bright blue bulldog fronts the brand.  2.  The St. Louis-based brewing giant gets kudos for its Bud Light “Here, Weego!” spot that aired during Super Bowl XLIV. Featuring a mixed breed rescue dog (real name: Nugget), the commercial was tied to a Facebook™ fan campaign resulting in the brewery making a $250,000 donation to Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation in California.

Another shout-out goes to Baying Hound Aleworks of Rockville, Maryland. Smaller than most microbreweries, this brewery fashions itself as a small-scale “nano-brewery,” but its founding namesake was a great big bloodhound named Marmalade. The Aleworks started as a home brewer’s operation, and apparently Marmalade could always be counted upon to lick up the malt barley.

Tavish with Intrepid Pup pint glass and bottle caps from dog-inspired breweriesAnd here’s where our final parallel to the Tavish, the Intrepid Pup comes in. He, too, has been known to hanker after certain malty brews. But with hops’ potential for toxicity in dogs and carbonation/alcohol just being a bad combo for them in general, what’s a malt barley-loving pup to do? Believe it or not, the answer is Bowser Beer™. The company, 3 Busy Dogs Inc. (recently relocated to Seattle, Washington), “brews” batches of a broth-based novelty beverage especially for dogs. The recipe retains that malt barley (it’s good for its vitamin B and joint-friendly glucosamine) but is neither fizzy nor alcoholic. And yep, in a stroke of marketing genius, you can even customize a “six-pack” of Bowser Beer with your dog’s picture on the label!

While the company’s “3 busy dogs” have changed over the years, the original mascot was Maggie, an English mastiff. The current team of official taste testers are Dax the Rottweiler, Quigley a Golden Irish, and a terrier mix named Muggsy.

So pour a Bowser Beer for your dog and raise a glass of your own* to these dog-inspired beers and breweries. Cheers from the Intrepid Pup!

 

* Requisite fine print:  please drink responsibly.

“In Valor There Is Hope”

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

At the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Tavish meets the steady gaze of one of four adult lions, sculpted in bronze by Raymond Kaskey (b. 1943). Beneath is chiseled Proverbs 28:1, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” In the background is the former U.S. Pension Office which is now home to the National Building Museum.

An 80-foot-long reflecting pool. Low, gently curving marble walls. Four statuary groupings of stoic lions protectively watching over cubs. And names: thousands upon thousands of names. This is the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Appropriately sited in Washington, DC’s Judiciary Square—a symbolic center of the U.S. criminal justice system—the Memorial has been a place for remembrance and introspection since 1991. Unlike some memorials which remain static after their initial dedications, this one is annually updated for the simple yet tragic reason that law enforcement officers continue to be killed in the line of duty. This year a total of 362 names joined the approximately 19,000 others already appearing on the marble panels. These entries represent the 163 officers killed in 2011, plus 199 officers who died in previous years and were recently discovered in historical records.

Though we had the grounds to ourselves when we visited on a weekend afternoon a couple months back, this is hardly a forgotten memorial. Two commemorative wreaths, a tiny American flag here, and a single fresh long-stem rose there gave evidence that others had come by recently to pay their respects. This scene is very different come May, when the Memorial figures prominently in the official events of National Police Week (always the calendar week surrounding May 15), first proclaimed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Commemorative activities annually draw anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 attendees. There’s a candelight vigil at the Memorial—at that point completely lined with personal mementos, handwritten notes, and other tributes to fallen officers—and an official wreath-laying ceremony on the heels of the National Peace Officers Memorial Service on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

But there were no crowds or candles or bagpipes that afternoon, and we were left alone to wander. A brochure supplied onsite provides a self-guided walking tour of some of the Memorial’s points of interest, and you can even use your cell phone to access a free, guided narration. The Memorial encompasses local, state, and federal peace officers, so you’ll see names ranging among the ranks of municipal police, park service rangers, correctional officers, and members of the U.S. Secret Service. Along the way you’ll learn that…

  • the first known U.S. officer killed in the line of duty was Sheriff Cornelius Hogeboom of Hudson, New York, in 1791.
  • more than 245 female officers’ names appear on the memorial.
  • the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history was September 11, 2001, when 72 officers died responding to the terrorist attacks.
  • the average age of officers on the Memorial is just 39.

It’s a poignant reminder that in no small measure we owe our public safety to the “thin blue line” of protection by the nation’s law enforcement officers.

Dogging the Details

Click to see what a "1" on the Wag-a-meter means38°53′49.39″N,  77°1′2.32″W
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Washington, DC

If traveling by Metro, the Memorial’s three-acre plaza actually covers the underground Judiciary Square station stop on the Red Line. If arriving by car, metered parking spaces are usually available on weekends on the streets surrounding Judiciary Square.

Tavish at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

This section of the memorial bears a quotation from the early Roman senator and historian Tacitus: “In valor there is hope.”

The memorial grounds are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, making them very accessible to visit and scoring a “1” on the Intrepid Pup Wag-a-meter. Springtime is especially pretty with all the flowering trees and some 14,000 daffodils. Should you wish to locate and make an etching of a name, you can search the finding aid directories and obtain pencils and paper from any of the four information stations at the Memorial.

Construction has begun on the south side of the Memorial for a National Law Enforcement Museum slated to open in 2015. To extend the Memorial experience in the meantime, there is a small Memorial Visitors Center and Store located just a few blocks to the southwest, at 400 7th Street, NW. There you’ll find assorted law enforcement themed merchandise, a timeline of U.S. law enforcement history, plus interactive kiosks with more information about those honored at the Memorial.

 

Turtles, Goslings & Lily Pads, Oh My!

Tavish at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Tavish at the lily ponds. The hardy and tropical water lilies were blooming, little jewels of color amid the emerald green pads. Surrounding many of the ponds are irises, but the yellow variety is invasive. It is still too early for the lotus blossoms that are hallmarks of the summer months.

Even if today wasn’t National Public Gardens Day, we’d be touting Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. Did you know that it’s the only National Park Service site devoted to the cultivation and care of aquatic plants?

The precise story behind Kenilworth is one you couldn’t make up if you tried. Walter B. Shaw was a Civil War veteran who had lost his right arm in the fighting. He settled in Washington, D.C., securing a job as a Treasury Department clerk after teaching himself to write left-handed. Outside of government work, however, Shaw’s true love was water lilies. Eager to propagate them, he secured a dozen specimens from his home state of Maine and placed them in an unused ice pond on his 30 acres. When his hobby outgrew the one pond, he simply built more ponds until—under the auspices of the newly established W. B. Shaw Lily Ponds—he was successfully collecting exotic varieties, experimenting with hybrids, and commercially shipping plants nationwide. His daughter Helen Shaw Fowler joined him in his business ventures, and together they opened the gardens for the public’s enjoyment. Under Helen’s careful stewardship, the gardens expanded even further after Shaw’s death in 1921, and literally thousands of visitors a day (including President and Mrs. Coolidge!) flocked to marvel at the aquatic blooms during the summer months.

Fast forward to the 1930s and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was faced with dredging the silt-choked Anacostia River, an act that would have signaled the demise of the gardens. Helen fought the plans and an accord was reached in 1938 when Congress allocated $15,000 to purchase eight acres of the gardens for public preservation. Helen continued to live on the property until her death in 1953 but taught Fred Lundy, a gardener with the National Park Service, how to care for the water lilies. The Park Service eventually took over management of the garden and renamed it Kenilworth to reflect the name of the broader community. Today the park consists of 45 ponds of water lilies across 12 acres, enveloped by another 70 acres of freshwater tidal marshlands.

Midday yesterday Tavish the Intrepid Pup was eager to start exploring, and everything about his body language screamed, “What magical place is this, anyway?” Talk about sensory overload! At the lily ponds there were Canada geese (and therefore also a lot of goose droppings). We’d been advised by the park ranger when we arrived that there were several fledglings about, so we kept our distance. Tavish was actually pretty unphased by these tawny goslings paddling by…because there were BUTTERFLIES! And FROGS!  Ok, so technically we never saw a frog, but from the blurs of color and the loud splooshing sounds, we could tell they were big. It was great fun watching Tavish try to anticipate where the next blur and sploosh would come from. Oh, and the TURTLES! There were a few small painted turtles perched on logs, but they had nothing on the dinner platter-sized snapping turtles hanging out sunbathing at the ponds’ edges. These guys were perceptive and before we could come within ten paces it was like those targets in a county fair shooting gallery where each  toppled in succession with an unceremonious plunk. Invariably we were rewarded with a closer look when a few poked their heads back up out of the muddy water.

Tavish at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Though hard to disengage Tavish from the endless fascinations of the lily ponds, we did finally make it onto the River Trail (note: NOT a loop; it’s 0.7 miles each way). It meanders in a northwesterly direction among the thick scent of honeysuckle and then follows the bend of the Anacostia River for a stretch. It ends at the inlet into the marsh itself, which is where you’d enter Kenilworth if coming by kayak or canoe. You never fully escape the incessant thrum of car traffic careening by on Route 50, punctuated by the occasional clatter of an Amtrak train crossing the railroad bridge. Where this might be overtly annoying in another setting, in a strange way, the noise serves notice that this fragile environment struggles to exist in spite of urban encroachment.

Returning to the lily ponds, we set out in the opposite direction onto the extensive boardwalk. Signs along the trail have faded considerably, but on this sunny, breezy afternoon we didn’t exactly need a plaque to tell us that the fish and tadpoles were plentiful. Tavish kept poking his head through the railing to watch them. Red-winged blackbirds darted among the tall grasses, and a great blue heron soared above. Just another spectacular day in the marsh.

Dogging the Details

38°54′45.50″N,  76°56′31.24″W
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
, Washington, DC

Tavish at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Click to see what 2 on the Wag-A-Meter means

It can be a little tricky navigating this residential area in northeast Washington to find the proper entrance to the aquatic gardens, so if you have GPS, use it!

Intrepid Pup has been to Kenilworth before, but it really pays to be a repeat visitor. While the walking trails are always nice, the visual appeal of the ponds changes dramatically throughout the seasons.

When we stopped in at the visitor center to snag a map, the Park Service ranger—a helpful young woman who, come to find out, was getting married this weekend at another National Park—was genuinely pleased to see us and remarked, “Kenilworth definitely welcomes leashed dogs!” The dog-friendly trails and scenery earn Kenilworth a “2” on the Intrepid Pup wag-a-meter. Of course, the general courtesy about cleaning up after your dog still very much applies, and there are waste receptacles conveniently located throughout the front section of the gardens (though not so much on the River Trail or boardwalk sections).  Tavish stayed in the vestibule of the Visitor Center as dogs aren’t permitted inside, but there is a small bookshop and a series of compact displays about the importance of the wetlands and the history of Kenilworth—from use as the fishing grounds of the Nacotchtank peoples through to the present day.

Walk every step of the grounds around the various ponds, out-and-back on the River Trail, and along the boardwalk, and you’ll be lucky to have eked out 2 miles. But you’ll easily have whiled away an hour or two, especially if you have a curious pup intently stalking every lily pad fluttering in the breeze!

Adventures in Reading: “Hallelujah!”

Tavish with children's books

Beth Ellen* is nine years old and thinks Tavish is “reallllly silly…and I like silly.”  She’s a regular in reading to Tavish at the local library. Yes, when the Intrepid Pup isn’t off exploring parks, trails, and museums, he’s often going to senior living centers, schools, and libraries through a pet visitation program run by the DC-based non-profit organization P.A.L. (For a more comprehensive article on Tavish’s work as an AKC-certified Therapy Dog, click here.)

On this particular evening Beth Ellen is reading aloud from an illustrated chapter book she’d selected, and she’s adding considerable flair to the dialogue. So when the chapter ends with one of the characters exclaiming about an achievement, Beth Ellen delivers the line with similar gusto:  “Hallelujah!”  she shouts. Tavish chooses this precise instant to pop up with a full-body wriggle and give Beth Ellen a lick on the cheek.  She’s so enthralled by this reaction to her dramatic reading that she’s momentarily speechless.  She then grins widely and says, “I soooo want to say that word again, but I don’t know what’ll happen.” She reaches for Tavish’s collar, looks him in the eye and whispers, “Tavish, Hallelujah!”  And wouldn’t you know it? Tavish licks her again, tail now wagging at full speed. Beth Ellen dissolves into a fit of giggles repeating, “Hallelujah, Tavish. Hallelujah!” as he nuzzles her hair. It’s a safe bet that this moment is one Beth Ellen won’t soon forget and will always associate with the joy of reading.

This week—May 7-13, 2012—is Children’s Book Week (CBW). It promotes the notion that “children’s books and literacy are life-changers,” and if Tavish’s experiences with young readers are any indication,  it’s a pretty sound premise. CBW’s origins date to 1913, when librarian Franklin K. Matthiews toured the country proposing that publishers, libraries and booksellers support a Children’s Book Week as a way to encourage higher standards in children’s literature. By 1919 his vision had become a reality: CBW was an annual celebration well on its way to becoming the country’s longest-running literacy initiative. Today Every Child A Reader: The CBC Foundation coordinates CBW events in more than 40 cities from coast to coast to instill a lifelong love of reading.

Tavish has seen and listened to a LOT of children’s books. In the past year, more than 105 different children have read to him…even in Spanish! And because Team Tavish hears the stories, too, we’ve compiled a list (by no means intended to be exhaustive) of several that appeal to the Intrepid Pup’s mindset for adventure, are charmingly written, and beautifully illustrated…in other words, storybooks we don’t mind listening to time and time again:

  • A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
  • The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
  • The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Heyward
  • Frederick by Leo Lionni
  • Gaspard and Lisa at the Museum by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben
  • Hannah’s Collection by Marthe Jocelyn
  • Madeline’s Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans
  • Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
  • Miss Renée’s Mice by Elizabeth Stokes Hoffman
  • One-Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova
  • One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
  • Paddle to the Sea by Holling Clancy Holling
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Rosebud and Red Flannel by Ethel Pochocki
  • Stuart Little by E. B. White

So, in the spirit of Children’s Book Week, grab a storybook and start reading. “Hallelujah!”

*Child’s name has been changed to protect privacy