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A Corgi’s look at 2013

Although he is well known to be a fan of history and historic events, Jamie has never been one to dwell on the past and he’s usually looking ahead – to his next meal.

But due to popular demand (he demanded because he thinks he’s popular), he recently decided to do a “year in review.” So here’s a look at a scant few snippets of what the Big Lug experienced during 2013, broken down by month.

JANUARY

“It’s cold,” Jamie said. “Wake me up in April.”

FEBRUARY

When a winter storm hit the Ozarks and dumped several inches of snow and sleet topped off with some freezing rain, Jamie had a blast hanging around outdoors in the resulting layer of what seemed like “frozen mashed potatoes mixed with cement.”

“This stuff’s weird,” he said. “My paws don’t go into it, and my claws can’t grab ahold of it. And if I get up any speed, I slide.

“I like it.”

MARCH

When an early spring storm brought wintry weather back to the area and dumped about six inches of snow, Jamie had even more fun since he was able to plow through it instead of having to walk on top of it.

Part of the Big Lug’s enjoyment came from trying to keep up with our other Corgi, Gertie (the Permapup), who is always on the go, but shifts into an even higher gear in the snow. Jamie ran after her as she would literally run in circles at top speed, and then stop suddenly and take a big bite out of the fluffy white stuff, like it was frosting on a gigantic cake.

“That dog’s crazy,” Jamie said. “I like it.”

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

I told Jamie that Gertie can’t help herself, because to her, everything is exciting.

“Even a dead skunk?” Jamie asked. “Or a piece of rotten asparagus?”

“Well, maybe not quite everything,” I said. “But I’d say a dead skunk might just qualify.”

APRIL

Spring settled in, with far more palatable weather, and Jamie got outside and took advantage.

“This is more like it,” he said. “Why don’t we cook some hot dogs over a fire tonight? I might need a little help – no thumbs, you know.”

“Great idea, big man,” I said. “I think we can arrange that. The moon should be out and the coyotes will be singing.”

“Extra bacon grease and chicken gizzards on mine,” Jamie said. “And hold the mustard, ketchup, onions and relish.”

“Nice,” I said. “That’ll be a dog fit for a dog.”

MAY

Wanting both to see what all the hubbub was about and offer suggestions and criticism only a wily, 35-pound  Pembroke Welsh Corgi could, Jamie decided to accompany me on a day at work.

Highlights included having him help proofread stories and ads, select and add captions to photos, and even gather and share breaking news. But when he and I went out to take care of business around town, Jamie was in top form.

Especially at the Houston City Hall, where mayor Don Tottingham and Police Chief Jim McNiell discussed with him the possibility of forming a K-9 unit. But when Jamie brought up his keen ability to find pork chops hidden in fenders, it was apparent that his idea of the job didn’t match up with that of the city officials.

“Uh, Jamie, what they might need even more is an animal that can detect drugs,” I said.

“No chops?” Jamie said.

“Nope,” I said.

“No ginger snaps?” he said.

“Nope,” I said.

“Thanks for your time gentlemen,” Jamie said.

JUNE

Along with me, my wife, a friend and Jamie’s partner in crime, Gertie, the Big Lug more than once went to our favorite local lake for a grill-out and swim.

Unlike Gertie, Jamie’s not too fond of water, but he’s a master swimmer and has no trouble staying on top of the water.

“All right, who wants to race me to the other side?” he said. “Actually, I’ll just go to the edge of these lily pads and then back to shore and leave the rest to y’all. Wouldn’t want to make things too crowded out there. Around water, it’s safety first, I always say.”

“I don’t know, Mr. Phelps,” I said. “Seems to me like you’d simply rather be on dry land.”

“They don’t call me a land manatee for nothing,” Jamie said. “I’m a land lover, and proud of it.”

“I believe that’s landlubber, big man,” I said.

“Whatever,” Jamie said. “When do we grill the Oscar Meyers?”

JULY

“It’s hot,” Jamie said. “Wake me up in October.”

AUGUST

During the incredible onslaught of wet weather at the beginning of the month that brought close to 16 inches of rain to Texas County in about a week, Jamie managed to avoid catastrophe when he went outside to “do” his business – barely.

“A little help over here,” he said. “Throw me a rope or a life preserver!”

“It’s not that bad, big man,” I said. “You’re just standing on a saturated section of grass.”

“Saturated, smaturated,” Jamie said. “I think I just saw a shark fin go by!”

“You’re gonna to need a bigger boat,” I said.

“Funny,” Jamie said. “May a great white swallow your favorite fishing pole and capsize your canoe.”

SEPTEMBER

After finding out that a cat was elected mayor of a small Alaskan town 15 years ago and still holds the office, Jamie was inspired to ponder entering the political arena himself.

“I can neither confirm nor deny that I will seek office in 2014,” he said.

“Yes sir,” I said, “We’ll check back later with your PR people. So just out of curiosity, if you do run, what office do you figure you’ll go after?”

“That has yet to be determined,” Jamie said. “Maybe pork chop commissioner, ginger snap council member, or apple pie administrator. But I intend to announce my intentions soon.”

“Ooh, pins and needles, big man,” I said. “I’m sure your fans will be waiting anxiously for you to intentionally share your intended intentions.”

“Funny,” Jamie said. “Don’t expect to be my assistant.”

NOVEMBER

A visit to a local dog grooming facility allowed Jamie to make a new friend (spa owner Dianna Bennett) and share some of his unique canine perspective and wisdom.

Although he pulled the scared Corgi card when Ms. B got out her nail clippers, he for the most part enjoyed his stay.

“You know, in some parts of the world they would consider that Walmart bag full of fur you just collected from my coat very valuable,” Jamie said. “They would spin it into fine yarn and make shawls and blankets fit for royalty.”

“I thought they did that with silk, alpaca fleece and other softer, more supple forms of animal hair,” Dianna said.

“Yeah, the average woman might think course dog hair felt a little funny next to her skin,” I said.

“Alpaca?” Jamie said. “Why would anyone want to wear anything made from the dreads of one of those overgrown billy goats?”

“Because their fleece is known to keep people extremely warm, it makes smoother-feeling material than almost any other substance, and it’s just generally nice,” I said.

“Your point?” Jamie said.

“Um, well, I guess I’ll look into having a Corgi sweater made before spring,” I said.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Jamie said.

DECEMBER

A big-time winter storm dropped a foot of snow on the remote Texas County outpost where Jamie and his family live – more than the Big Lug had ever seen on the ground before.

When he moved around outside, his long and low frame basically created a trench in the deep white layer.

“Up periscope,” Jamie said.

“Enemy vessel at two o-clock,” I said.

“How could you possibly know that?” Jamie said. “It’s only 12:30.”

“Never mind skipper,” I said.

All in all, Jamie made about as much as possible of his 2013, and he certainly left nothing on the table and everything on the field (so to speak).

“This was a good year,” Jamie said, “but it’s got me dog tired. Wake me up in 2015.”

“Right, Mr. Van Winkle,” I said. “Sleep tight, Rip.”

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Jamie is a big ol’ Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Jamie hangs out on a dirt road during one of his journeys in the Jillikins late in the winter of 2013.

Jamie hangs out on a dirt road during one of his journeys in the Jillikins late in the winter of 2013.

Jamie and Houston Herald reporter Doug Davison look for a word file in a desktop computer in May.

Jamie and Houston Herald reporter Doug Davison look for a word file in a desktop computer in May.

Jamie get a fur trim from Dianna Bennett during his trip to the spa in November.

Jamie get a fur trim from Dianna Bennett during his trip to the spa in November.

On his way to another journey in the Jillikins, Jamie lies on the seat of his sidekick's truck.

On his way to another journey in the Jillikins, Jamie lies on the seat of his sidekick’s truck.

Gertie, a.k.a. the Permapup, ponders entering one of several trenches left in deep snow by herself and her Corgi cohort, Jamie.

Gertie, a.k.a. the Permapup, ponders entering one of several trenches left in deep snow by herself and her Corgi cohort, Jamie.

Jamie hangs out with his buddy, Sharp Shooters Gun and Pawn store owner Gary Parish.

Jamie hangs out with his buddy, Sharp Shooters Gun and Pawn store owner Gary Parish.

Houston Police Chief Jim McNiell and Mayor Don Tottingham check out the city's proposed K-9 unit during May.

Houston Police Chief Jim McNiell and Mayor Don Tottingham check out the city’s proposed K-9 unit during May.

Jamie begins his planned lengthy recovery from a busy 2013. “This was a good year, but it’s got me dog tired. Wake me up in 2015.”

Jamie begins his planned lengthy recovery from a busy 2013. “This was a good year, but it’s got me dog tired. Wake me up in 2015.”

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A full day’s work

For quite some time, Jamie has been bugging me about going to work with me.

After years of hearing me talk about what I do, he has time and again insisted he could perhaps help.

He would often say, “you need a Corgi’s perspective.”

Last Thursday, the Big Lug got his wish.

The day began as usual, with Jamie heading outside to do his business, and then getting a bite to eat on the Sidewalk Café on the east side of our house, and me sitting down for a couple of cups of coffee. Then I brushed a Walmart bag or two of fur off of his 35-pound frame, and we were ready.

“Let’s do this,” Jamie said. “Stay close to me and I’ll get you through.”

“We’re not negotiating a field of land mines or heading to the front lines of a battle,” I said. “We’re going to work. I do this five days a week.”

“I’m just saying,” Jamie said.

When we got to the Houston Herald office, Jamie wasted no time getting started. He worked with editor Jeff McNiell on processing some digital photos that were downloaded in a computer, helped production manager Leesa Smith proofread an ad or two, and looked over accounting paperwork with publisher’s assistant Deanna McKinney. He then sat with me for a while proofing more ad copy.

“I think you might want to try a different font for that phrase right there to make it really pop,” Jamie said. “You have to do something that gets peoples’ attention.”

“That’s not bad, big man,” I said. “It’s almost like you know what you’re talking about.”

“Almost?” Jamie said. “I’m not here for my looks. Although that would be a valid reason.”

After tackling several other tasks, Jamie turned his focus to a lady who walked in to renew her subscription to the newspaper. She said she wanted to renew her “prescription.”

“So did your doctor tell you to take two Heralds and call him in the morning?” Jamie said.

“C’mon, Dawg, don’t be rude,” I said.

“You never know,” Jamie said.

One of the office women with thumbs took care of the customer, and I took the canine jack-of-all trades on the road to take care of some of the day’s out-of-the-office business.

We stopped first at the Houston Police Department station, and Jamie looked over some incident reports submitted by officers. He then met with Police Chief Jim McNiell and Mayor Don Tottingham about the prospects of beginning a city K-9 program.

“This is something you really need, and I’m your dog,” Jamie said. “No law enforcement agency should be without state-of-the art ability to locate clandestine pork chop stashes hidden in vehicles or at crime scenes.”

“Uh, Jamie, what they might need even more is an animal that can detect drugs,” I said.

“No chops?” Jamie said.

“Nope,” I said.

“No ginger snaps?” he said.

“Nope,” I said.

“Right then, moving on,” Jamie said. “Thanks for your time gentlemen.”

Next we went to the new Farm Bureau Insurance office just south of town, where an open house was taking place to celebrate the firm’s move.

“Where’s Flo?” Jamie asked. “I want Flo’s autograph.”

“Uh, wrong insurance company big guy,” I said.

“What about that British lizard?” Jamie asked. “Where’s he?”

“Again big man, wrong company,” I said. “Farm Bureau’s advertising campaign has to do with a guy named Dan who hangs out with a puppet named Clay who cracks corny jokes and says ‘you don’t have to be a farmer to get insurance from Farm Bureau.’”

“Oh yeah, him,” Jamie said. “His jokes aren’t that funny.”

“Yeah, that’s what Dan sometimes says,” I said.

“They need a better mascot,” Jamie said. “I can think of one that would draw millions more customers.”

“Let me guess – you’re referring one that’s long and low and has big ears,” I said.

“Yeah, that’s the ticket,” Jamie said. “All I’ll ask for as a salary is unlimited pork chops. And maybe ginger snaps.”

“Right,” I said.

“Speaking of food, I smell grilled hot dogs,” Jamie said.

“Yep, they’re offering a free lunch here,” I said. “You want a couple of weenies?”

“Does a Corgi shed in the spring?” Jamie said. “Mmm, that’s the good stuff.”

After making another stop of two, we headed back to the office and Jamie sat in for publisher Brad Gentry while he left for a spell. The interim boss didn’t take many calls.

“Just transfer them all to my voice mail,” Jamie said. “I’m a little busy over here trying to get a paper out.”

When the Big Lug was no longer needed at the helm of the good ship Herald, he helped print manager Tyson Troutman get some brochures put together for a local business.

“Hold that a little closer so I can read the fine print,” Jamie said.

As is seemingly the case with many Thursdays, the day went by quickly and late afternoon arrived before Jamie and I knew it. We finished the day by visiting Emmett Kelly Park to view the completed tree planting project.

“Wow, what a difference,” I said. “This is going to be awesome when they get big. It’s already awesome.”

“Yeah, but it looks like I need to get busy,” Jamie said. “Drop me off here and come back in about 45 minutes. I should be done by then.”

“No way, chief,” I said. “There’s a leash law in this town and I’m not going to escort you around to the base of every tree here.”

“Aw man,” Jamie said. “A great opportunity wasted.”

When we got home, Jamie almost immediately went horizontal on the hardwood floor. He was completely exhausted from a hard day’s work.

“I’m dog tired,” he said.  “Make sure to wake me up in the morning – I’ve got a lot of unfinished business to take care of.

“There’s work to do.”

“I know what you mean, big man,” I said. “I know what you mean.”

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Jamie is a big ol’ Welsh Corgi. Past versions of this column are posted on the blog page at http://www.houstonherald.com. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Jamie proofs ad copy with Houston Herald reporter and advertising representative Doug Davison.

Jamie proofs ad copy with Houston Herald reporter and advertising representative Doug Davison.

Houston Police Chief Jim McNiell and Mayor Don Tottingham check out the city's proposed K-9 unit.

Houston Police Chief Jim McNiell and Mayor Don Tottingham check out the city’s proposed K-9 unit.

Jamie and Houston Herald editor Jeff McNiell work with digital photos downloaded to a computer.

Jamie and Houston Herald editor Jeff McNiell work with digital photos downloaded to a computer.

Jamie assists Houston Herald publisher Brad Gentry with paperwork.

Jamie assists Houston Herald publisher Brad Gentry with paperwork.

Jamie looks over accounting paperwork with Houston Herald office worker Deanna McKinney.

Jamie looks over accounting paperwork with Houston Herald office worker Deanna McKinney.

Jamie prepares to look over some incident reports at the City of Houston police station.

Jamie prepares to look over some incident reports at the City of Houston police station.

Jamie proofreads a copy of a brochure being held by Houston Printing production manager Leesa Smith.

Jamie proofreads a copy of a brochure being held by Houston Printing production manager Leesa Smith.

Jamie squints to read the fine print on a brochure being held by Houston Printing print manager Tyson Troutman. "Hold it just a little closer."

Jamie squints to read the fine print on a brochure being held by Houston Printing print manager Tyson Troutman. “Hold it just a little closer.”

Jamie takes care of some publishing duties in the Houston Herald office. "Go ahead and trasfer that call to my voicemail, I'm kind of busy trying to get this paper out."

Jamie takes care of some publishing duties in the Houston Herald office. “Please transfer my calls to voice mail. I’m kind of busy trying to get this paper out.”

Jamie hangs out on the Sidewalk Cafe before heading out for his big day at work.

Jamie hangs out on the Sidewalk Cafe before heading out for his big day at work.

The City of Houston sent a letter last week to homeowners along four streets in town to notify them that new sidewalks may soon be built for students at Houston R-1 Schools.

In the letter from City Administrator Larry Sutton, he said funds will be requested from the Safe Routes to School Program. “At the present time, students have to walk in the streets and ditches on these designated sections,” Sutton said in the letter.

The proposed sidewalks will be five feet wide, concrete and cross driveways. The proposed sidewalks will be along the right-of-way on:

-Bryan Street, west side, Hawthorn to Highway 17.
-Ozark Street, north side, Frederick to Airport.
-King Street, east side, Chestnut to Ozark.
-Chestnut Street, north side, King to Hamrick.

Sutton said the city will be notified in June if it is eligible for the funds. The project will be evaluated in a statewide competition. If approved, Sutton said the project is projected to be bid for work in the summer of 2012.