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Canine Mouthpiece

May-June 2005

Interviewing dogs can be a challenge, but fortunately Watson and Cricket have e-mail.

Q: If you were recuperating in a hospital, who would you want in the bed next to you, excluding relatives?

A [Cricket]: Anybody is OK. I just want to cuddle my people. Or other people. Any people.

A [Watson]: I’d want Susan [Hoffman]. I like to lie on the bed with her, but I don’t cuddle her because I like to face the other direction. My mission is to patrol the premises, not cuddle. I’m no lap dog. I have duties.

Q: When was the last time you cried?

A [Watson]: I don’t cry. But whenever Jon sings “Blue Yellow Lab,” I howl. I’m a helluva blues singer. [Jonathan Hoffman ’69 has recently released his third CD, For Dog Lovers Only, available from his website,, and elsewhere. It contains 14 songs written by Watson and Cricket and sung by Hoffman, accompanying himself with some slick fingerpicking on his cedar-and-koa Goodall guitar and backed up by noted guitarists Terry Robb and Doug Smith and other fine musicians Hoffman persuaded to participate in the undertaking. These are not “cute little dog songs,” says Watson, a labrador/border-collie mix. They address “the important issues facing dogs today.” Hear also Watson’s rollicking blues “Big Smelly Woman,” his idea of a love song. “I want a ripe, smelly woman/The kind I like to sniff/I want a ripe smelly woman/It only takes one whiff/Aroma wakes you from a coma/Knocks you off a cliff.”]

A [Cricket]: This morning. Every morning whenever my people leave me. [Hear her song “Forlorn, Forsaken & Forgotten”: “You went to work and left me here/But I don’t complain./I just sit here abandoned/My nose pressed against the windowpane/You give me food and even love/But sometimes life is rotten/Like when I’m left here all alone/Forlorn, forsaken & forgotten.”] “Unfortunately, guilt hasn’t always worked for me,” says Watson.

Q: What has given you the most pleasure in the last year?

Cricket, with Jonathan Hoffman '69...
Photo by Bud Deegan
...and Watson, with Susan Hoffman
Photo by Jonathan Hoffman

A [Watson]: Last fall, I got Jon and Susan to buy a vacation home in the Oregon Cascades. [Hoffman earns his kibble as a civil litigator in Portland, with the firm of Martin, Bischoff, Templeton, Langslet & Hoffman.] It’s in a place called Camp Sherman, about two minutes from the National Forest, and so we go up there every weekend and I’m just like Hertz: I get unlimited mileage. The smells are entirely different, depending on the season of the year. The rotten, hollow logs are awesome; there’s an entire history of life forms in every one of them. I’ve been inventorying and herding all the deer, squirrels, bunnies, elk, and chipmunks in the National Forest. I’m patrolling the entire area. My people walk a couple of miles, and I run about 30. This is cool!

Q: Are you glad on the whole that you don’t know what’s coming next?

A [Cricket]: I’m just glad, period. I used to live in a place where the people never let me in the house and I lived outside in the rain, mud, fleas, and cold. They were afraid I might shed on their carpet. [Hear her heartrending “My Puppyhood.”] Now I have the run of the house, my people are never far away, and I’ve got Watson wrapped around my paw.

~Christopher Reed