Friday, July 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

A holiday journey past, with Velma

With the holidays at hand, I'm reminded of taking Sparkle's mom, Velma, to Longwood Gardens in 2008.

A holiday journey past, with Velma

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I realize I'm overdue for an update: Foremost, Timber is still hanging in there! He's still got his appetite, wags his tail a lot, and barks when he needs help getting up. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has always been rather magical to me, and I think Timber has been granted one special wish. Thanks for everyone's condolences, but I was luckily a bit premature!

I've been taking advantage of the mild weather and getting Porter and Sparkle out for long walks every morning. Porter is actually thinning down because of the exercise and also because we've been more successful lately in keeping cupboards closed and food off the counters where he can snatch it.

Sparkle's energy level is extremely high, and I'm pretty sure she's about to go into season soon. At the last puppy outing, Longwood Gardens, she was flirting outrageously with Keith the golden retriever. She'll turn 1 year old on Jan. 27.

Speaking of Longwood, the trip earlier this month reminded me of the visit with Sparkle's mom, Velma, back in 2008. At first, I thought it was only two years ago, but it was actually three. I went into my Velma photo album and pulled a couple of shots. I've heard from the Seeing Eye that Velma recently had her second litter of pups. She was a joy to take out in public, completely unflappable and confident. Sparkle is flightier and wants to jump into the lap of everyone she encounters. I'm (almost) certain, though, that she'll eventually calm down!

I  have in fact been doing some writing lately, as I am closing in on my adventure novel. It's set at a troubled military prep school in Maryland horse country 40 years ago, and features a host of dogs, horses and even a couple of lurking foxes. The animal protagonists include a fearless Jack Russell terrier and a protective Rhodesian ridgeback, and a pack of magnificent Penn-Marydel  foxhounds. And there's a mischievous Appaloosa named Rocky Fudge.  I'm having a lot of fun with it, and Porter likes to come in and keep me company as I compose in the study.

  

George Carter
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About this blog
George Carter, The Inquirer's weekend national/foreign editor, has always counted dogs among his closest companions. According to family lore, he learned to walk by clinging to the side of a saintly patient mutt named Spanker. In turn, one of his earliest hazy memories is of tossing treats to the family dogs gathered expectantly on the porch of their Maryland farmhouse. It was only natural then, that when George saw a newspaper ad looking for families to raise puppies for the Seeing Eye of Morristown, N.J., he bit at the chance. From the start, it has been a family project, with teenage daughter Betsy as the official puppy-raiser. First there was Porter, a big-hearted yellow Lab born on Memorial Day 2004. A few years later, the Carters raised Velma, a gorgeous Lab/golden cross. Just a couple weeks ago, Velma's 7-week-old daughter Sparkle arrived as the latest family charge. George, Betsy and mom Cathy are thrilled that Sparkle is from Velma's very first litter. You can reach George Carter at 215-854-2411 or by clicking here. Reach George at gcarter@phillynews.com.

George Carter
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