Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Magazine Man & Blaze

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m the Magazine Man, a semi-anonymous writer and editor who, since 2004 (and despite an egregious three-month absence recently) writes the blog “Somewhere on the Masthead.” Unconfirmed rumors have linked me to a fellow by the name of Stephen C. George, who is also a writer and editor—who is in fact the editor-in-chief of The Saturday Evening Post. But really, how much stock can you put in these rumors?

With me is my dog Blaze. He’s a purebred male mutt: part Rottweiler, part beagle (we think), with a little lab thrown in. He’s about 8 years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Well, this is what we look like before coffee. Blaze is something of an alarm clock, slowly nudging me to the end of the bed until I get up and go make the coffee.

What's brewing?

Whatever happens to be available in bulk from Costco. This week it’s Dunkin’ Donuts’ house brand.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

For me, it’s only breakfast, and the recovery of higher-brain functions, which I would otherwise lose without caffeine.

Any treat for Blaze on this occasion?

Blaze usually spends breakfast hovering around my son and two daughters, who provide a rich and abundant source of treat material.

How were you & Blaze united?

Through a convoluted turn of events, Blaze was abandoned by his old family, staked out in a back yard (with no food or water) in the middle of July. He was found by a friend of a friend. This person already owned a dog and had no room for him, so she put the word out among her female friends (she warned people that Blaze didn’t seem to like men). By this time, my elder daughter, the Brownie (3 years old at the time) [photos, below right and left], had overheard me talking about the dog and lobbied hard for me and my wife to go meet him. My wife bailed at the last minute, so I went by myself, expecting to be torn limb from limb. Instead, Blaze acted like I was his long-lost brother and that pretty much clinched it.

How did Blaze get his name? Does he have any aliases?

His previous owners (about whom I was eventually to learn way more than I wanted) had named him “Blazer.” The Brownie, for reasons known only to herself, started calling him “Blazey Bellow Hoska Boo Boo Ba Doo.” I have no idea what it means. Our youngest, the Éclair, calls him “Bazey.” Mostly, he just answers to “Blaze.”

Cat, squirrel, paperboy...?

Delivermen, repairmen, men of any kind (except me). Also birds. And cats—my brother had four and when we went to visit him, there was a famous fight.

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Oh, squeaky-toy. But alas, sometimes he steals stuffed animals too.

What's the story behind Blaze's cancer scare?

A year or so after he came to live with us, I noticed he had a weird red spot growing right on top of his snout. Went very quickly from being a tiny dot to a lump about the size of my thumb. Turned out to be benign, but for a couple of days, we didn’t know. I wrote about it (the first time Blaze appears on the blog), then later this George fellow (who I mentioned earlier) took my story and ran a version of it in his magazine (Jan/Feb 2010 Saturday Evening Post, on newsstands now). I hear it was a very popular story.

Where's Blaze's favorite place for an outing?

Despite the cats, Blaze loves to visit my old hometown in New Hampshire. After our parents died, my brother and I inherited 110 acres of hilly timberland there (it’s been in the family since the 1600s) where Blaze spent many happy hours wandering about. But we only get up there about once a year. The rest of the time, he has to make do with the walking trail near our house.

Who is Blaze's best pet-pal?

Before we moved, he enjoyed hanging out with a rather hyper little dog named Gordon. These days I think he harbors a secret crush on the German Shepherd that patrols the grounds near where we live.

What's Blaze's best quality?

When he “guest-blogs” for me, I give Blaze a rather aloof and haughty voice (somewhere between Shakespeare and The Mighty Thor), but the truth is he’s a very laid-back, friendly, loving dog. At least to women and children. And especially to my children. His love and devotion to them is unflagging. I’ve had a few dogs in my time, and they’ve all been faithful and devoted, but this is a whole other order of magnitude. I’ve never had a dog like him (and probably never will again).

If Blaze could change one thing about you, what would it be?

He would probably tell me to speak less and listen more. He has an uncanny knack for yawning dramatically whenever I’m telling a story at the supper table. And he really doesn’t like it when I scold the kids.

What's Blaze's proudest moment? His most embarrassing?

Well, I’ve been proudest of Blaze whenever he’s leapt to the defense of my family, which has happened about a dozen times. I suspect Blaze’s finest hour (aside from a nasty moment last year with his former owner, which is a story I’m not ready to tell yet) was the time he saved the Brownie from a crazy blackbird that was dive-bombing her (and many of our neighbors). Blaze caught the bird in mid-air and bit its head off. People came out of their houses to watch and made a big fuss over Blaze when it was all over. You could tell he was proud of himself, the way everyone ooh-ed and ahh-ed and he stood there, looking off into the distance like none of it mattered (except that he kept looking back over his shoulder to make sure we were all still looking at him). It was a sweet moment.

As for most embarrassing, I’d wager that was the time he ate an industrial-size bag of Tootsie Rolls (wrappers and all), then promptly threw them up.

Or perhaps the time he was being chased by the kids and my son ran into him, accidentally poking him in the rear-end with his thumb.

Neither incident would score high on his list of Good Times, I think.

Visit the Magazine Man's blog, Somewhere on the Masthead.

Watch two YouTube videos—links
here and here—both involving Blaze and his interactions with the Éclair, the Magazine Man's youngest. You can hear her calling him “Bazey.”

--Marshal Zeringue