A Dog’s Mind

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When Grady was about ten weeks old, my mom bought him this stuffed duck. It’s no bigger than your fist; just a yellow duck head with an orange beak. As he grew [rapidly], stuffed toys became a thing of the past. He’d annihilate anything with stuffing or a squeaker, eating most of the remnants but leaving just enough fluff on the floor so we’d know where the thing went. His weeks with us turned into months, and he got bigger and bigger, but for some reason “duck” remained. He didn’t even try to rip off duck’s tag. The affection between Grady and duck was bizarre and adorable: he’d carry it gingerly in his mouth and cradle it in his hands when he laid on his bed. He never touched a stitch. It was like duck was his friend.

That’s why I should have read The Art of Racing in the Rain last year when I bought it, rather than putting it off until now. It’s such an emotional book when you’ve got a dog in front of you.

The book details the thoughts of a dog so vibrantly and realistically. It’s adorable, yet terribly heartbreaking. I had to keep stopping to give Grady hugs. Enzo, the dog in the story, has a “duck” much like Grady, except his is a stuffed dog, and the author captures perfectly what I think Grady thought about “duck”:

[Enzo, the dog, narrating] “[My owner’s friend] took me to our house to get my things. I was humiliated when he said, ‘Where’s your dog?’ I didn’t want to admit that I still slept with a stuffed animal. But I did. I loved that dog, and [my owner] was right, I did hide it during the day because I didn’t want [my owner’s daughter] to assimilate it into her collection and also because when people saw it they wanted to play tug and I didn’t like tugging with my dog.”

Grady never tugged with duck, either. In fact, he’d hide it from you if you came near him while he was cradling it. He never was vicious or territorial about duck, but it was clear he was playing favorites. Until yesterday, when we found duck’s head separate from duck’s beak and stuffing hanging out of Grady’s mouth.  I guess duck had said the wrong thing at the wrong time, and antsy-because-he’s-on-bedrest-Grady took it the wrong way, and duck was finally retired to the trash can. Nevertheless, when I read that passage in The Art of Racing in the Rain, I felt like the author really was doing his best to understand what goes on in a dog’s mind, and he delivers it well. If you’re an animal lover, this book will probably get to you like it did me.

Before finishing that book, I sat down for a delicious meal made by Shaun: smashed carrot and miso soup. Smashed rather than pureed because we don’t yet have an immersion blender [but it made it on one of our registries!], but delicious all the same. I think it might be best served smashed, because the chunks of ginger or garlic surprise your palate even more that way.

I like to think I can see better today than yesterday, thanks to this dinner.

Smashed Carrot and Miso Soup (Vegan, Vegetarian)

Prep Time:

Serves: 4


  • 2 1/3 pounds of carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • A ping-pong ball sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup miso paste
  • Diced scallions, for garnish
  • 1 tsp sesame oil, for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a soup pot, pan-fry the carrots in a splash of olive oil. Add the onion, ground and fresh ginger, garlic and a dash of salt.

2. Saute until the carrots are soft enough to be mashed with a potato masher. Then, mash into a “mush” consistency.

3. Add the vegetable broth and bring the soup to a boil. Remove from the heat and store in the fridge for anywhere up to 7 or 8 hours (this lets the flavors combine).

4. When ready to serve, re-heat, add the miso, stir well to combine, and garnish with scallions, sesame oil, salt and pepper.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Food, Recipes


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/


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