Category Archives: That Black-haired Beauty and I

America the (once) Beautiful and that Black-haired Beauty

I think most of you know the song “America the Beautiful.” Well, this blog is about how it’s becoming less and less beautiful because of a great many inconsiderate people. Yeah, I’m talking about all those idiots (I would use a lot stronger term here, but I’ll be nice) who think throwing garbage, cans, bottles, plastic and styrofoam cups, etc., etc. out the window’s of their vehicles, around our parks and picnic areas, and into rivers and streams doesn’t matter. This also includes smokers — if you don’t care about shortening your life=span, at least be courteous enough to dispose of butts and packages in appropriate places.

That Black-haired Beauty and I have embarked on a campaign to make our little neck of the woods more beautiful again. We often take our walks along a short stretch (1/2 mile) of Hwy 41 here in Florida, as well as a longer stretch along a drainage canal. Our mission is to clean up these two areas by gathering what we may once a week and disposing of it properly. It will take a bit of effort to really clean it up, but after a few weeks maintenance should be easier. Arwen helps by sniffing out anything that once contained food (which necessitates me getting to her quickly enough that she doesn’t eat anything remaining).

So here’s the challenge America: for all of you who take walks, why not occasionally take a bag along and help clean up your little neck-of-the-woods. If enough of us do it semi-regularly (even once a month will help) maybe we’ll actually make some progress in helping re-beautify our country.

And for those of you adding to the problem: GET WITH THE PROGRAM!. You ARE creating a mess out there and it does matter!!! If you just don’t give a …. then maybe you should go live somewhere else; somewhere perhaps where they regularly pick up after lazy idiots like yourself.

And here’s a special message for our young people: YOU will set the stage for the next 50 plus years in this country. What legacy do you want to leave for your generation, and eventually for your children and their children?

Come on, folks. It’s not that hard to make a little effort.


Joe Koob


Filed under Pet Peeves, That Black-haired Beauty and I

Graduation Day

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Congrats to all the new Graduates out there. That Black-Haired Beauty isn’t graduating from anything (unless you considerate it a graduation to move into senior citizen status — if so, then I deserve congrats too!).

Have you ever thought what you might say if you were to ever give a graduation speech. We all have been through enough of them; these days we graduate from almost every level it seems. And if you have had any of the myriad of experiences I have had, you’ve heard some lulus. I even sat through one as a professor that was so depressing I wondered if the Senator giving it was on drugs — it was all about doom and gloom and world Armageddon — now that’s a cheery topic to send the grads out into the world on.

I think if I was to ever give such a speech I would focus on more positive things. Maybe I would start with Kindness — because if you take kindness as one of your major tools in dealing with that wide world out there, you’re going to have a lot better time of it than if you don’t. Then I might just add in a bit of Consideration and a good dose of Compassion. Finally, I might end with the key to all of these: self-awareness. You can’t know how you’re coming across to others, how you are impacting them, unless you pay attention to yourself.

Now grads, get out there and toss a bit of these three around: Kindness, Consideration, and Compassion. Others will really be glad you do; and you will be glad too.


Joe Koob

P.S. My wife has asked me on occasion how I get Arwen to pose for all these portraits: basically trial and error and treats. Here are a couple of pics that didn’t make the cut. Truth is we have a great deal of fun getting to the good one.

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Filed under Musings, That Black-haired Beauty and I



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Did you think I was just going to use this pic once? Here are some “Pet Peeves” doggy style:

Thhpppppptht for negativity. I like POSITIVITY. Bring it on!!! Anyone out there want to add to either of the lists below; this is a good time to let it out! That’s what my Pet Peeves section is all about.

Thhpppppptht for YELLING! There are better ways to communicate. Talking works well; especially if people remain calm and in control. I’ve got BIG ears and yelling hurts (Hint: it hurts others, too!).
And yes, a thhpppppptht for TELLING. ASKING is a much better skill and it is less likely to put someone off. [But that also depends on how you ask —- ask kindly.]

And thhpppppptht for people who never get back to you – that’s called RUDE folks; even if the news is bad, people would rather know one way or another. A double thhpppppptht for those who cut off a relationship without a word, “Thhpppppptht, thhpppppptht.”

A thhpppppptht for all the obnoxious people on the road (or anywhere) who think their time is more important than everyone else’s equanimity. KINDNESS is a better choice, always!”

Thhpppppptht for people who take and take and take and don’t seem to ever give much. Unfortunately it seems from their perspective the world is wrapped around them. Maybe if they tried giving out some doggie treats (kindnesses) once in awhile, such would return to them.

A big thhpppppptht to everyone who fails to communicate – and that would be ALL OF US at times. People can’t guess how you feel, what you think, what you want, what you like, what you need unless you let them know. Better communications would solve three-quarters of most difficult situations and almost all your difficulties with others. Worth thinking about. When you own a dog you learn to communicate on a whole different level. Learn to communicate openly and honestly with everyone!

Thhpppppptht for all hypocrites: most specifically all those people who spend (perhaps) one day a week pretending they are humble, religious, a good neighbor, etc., etc., only to spend the rest of their week scamming, cheating, lying, and otherwise taking advantage of their fellow man. “Thhpppppptht, thhpppppptht, thhpppppptht.” When you go to that great doggy heaven in the sky is the first thing you want to see a big black dog sticking her tongue out at you? “Thhpppppptht.” There used to be something called honor in life and in one’s professional life as well. It might behoove some people to find it again.

A special “Thhpppppptht” for, hackers, scammers, and the like. Your gift is that you are intelligent enough to do something great with your talent. Choose to better man and woman-kind, rather than make excuses for why you do what you do. “Thhpppppppppptttttttthhhhhhhhhhtttttttt.”

“Thhpppppptht” for all those people who think it is their duty to get everyone to believe what they believe, to follow what they follow, to only understand the world as they see it. We’re ALL unique – one of the great aspects of humanity are our differences. Relish those, learn from them, embrace them. Your world and its possibilities will expand exponentially if you just make the effort to be open to understanding that which is different from you.

Doggy kisses for those who:

Are kind to me just because.
Give me a hug when I am down and don’t feel well.
Take me for long walks and spend time with me.
Accept me for who I am.
Know that love is the greatest gift you can give.
Joe Koob

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Filed under Humor, Pet Peeves, That Black-haired Beauty and I

It’s all a Matter of Taste

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That Black-haired Beauty knows something good when she tastes it AND more importantly, because after all she is a dog, when she smells it. I find it interesting that dogs (an Arwen being a golden retriever/black lab mix is classic in this respect) will wolf down (pun intended) virtually anything resembling food, HOW-SOME-EVER there is always that discerning moment where her NOSE comes into play. Hence, though she will eat an amazing array of food-stuffs (and I use that terminology very loosely), she will turn her nose up at, well, say an onion.

Taste is about discernment. And for we humans there are an amazing array of factors that go into what we like or dislike. My daughter, for instance, rejects some foods because of their texture. Also, I remember distinctintly a scene seared into my memory when I was a kid of about nine or ten: I had been invited over to my best friend's house (Walter R., are you still out there somehwere?) for the weekend and that first evening they served up oysters on the half-shell. [Hey, this was France, haute cuisine and all that).] I stared at that oyster for a very long time, but in spite of my best resolve and effort I couldn't put it in my mouth — just didn't equate to my experiences at the time.

Tastes can change, of course. Today, if you put a platter of oysters in any form in front of me, they won't last long.

This blog is a bit of a continuation of the previous one with a slight tangent. We all have "tastes." Tastes that are set through a myriad of experiences from birth on. [And if you believe in essence before existence, perhaps even before that.] Choices we make are based on the billions and trillions of things that have influenced us throughout our lives. The choices someone else makes, though they be so far divergent from yours that you can't understand them at all, are likewise, based on a myriad of experiences and factors.

Yet many people find it so incredibly difficult to give others even the slightest understanding of why they are different from themselves.

Taste/Choices are not about right or wrong. Seriously! They aren't! They are about perspective. Open yourself up to different perspectives, even a little, and you are opening yourself up to vast new worlds.

Rigidity in "taste" is something that completely boggles my mind; yet every day I see, read about, experience people who are so closed-minded that they cannot begin to conceive of someone else's perspectice, choice, taste being acceptable in any way. [Need I mention Congress?]

There are many things I don't understand, and yes some of these scare me a bit, but if I am willing to make an effort to understand that someone else's point-of-view is simply different from mine, not wrong or right, then I have done a remarkable thing.

I have good friends who are so different from me in so many ways that we don't even sit on the same fence (certainly not politically). We are friends because we can get beyond the differences and appreciate the person at the core.

Open yourself up to "tasting" the incredible, wondrous, expansive and ever expanding world we live in. Your life will be far richer for it.


Joe Koob


Filed under Humor, That Black-haired Beauty and I

Difficult Men: A Book for Women by a Man

It’s DONE! It’s almost here!

My new book: Difficult Men: A Book for Women by a Man is at the publishers and should be out soon. Keep looking on this blog for updates and teasers. A lot of work for some long months, but I think it is looking good — mucho help from all my readers who I will introduce you to anon — some great women coaches gave me lots of excellent suggestions.

This book will be available in softcover and as an e-book.

Looking forward to sharing many ideas with you… and by the way That Black-Haired Beauty is doing great. She just turned nine and got a 100% thumbs up with the Vet on her latest physical.


Joe Koob

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Filed under That Black-haired Beauty and I, Understanding Difficult People

That Black-haired Beauty and I: She learns to Communicate

For a dog that didn’t really bark for over four years of her life, Arwen’s communications are really branching out. It wasn’t long ago I wrote about her having learned to bark to go in or go out. Now it has become even more sophisticated. The bark has become a low growl and if that isn’t noticed or paid attention to, after several growls you get the ‘sharp bark’. She has even extended this to wanting the door open from one room to another (we keep them shut in the winter), wanting walks or foods, and other things she gets impatient about.

Talk about being DIFFICULT!

Well folks, if you really think about it, that ain’t so far from the truth when it comes to difficult people. They learn new ‘tricks’; they even learn to growl and bark in the best possible way to get your attention and your compliance.

Here’s something to think about – how do you reinforce their behavior?

Because, unfortunately, we do.

The ONLY constructive way to change a difficult person’s behavior to you is to change your behavior (reaction/response) to them.

Typically we react, and reactions often take the form of ‘Fight’ or ‘Flight,’ both of which in turn tends to reinforce exactly what the difficult person was after in the first place – getting to you.

Ever wonder what they would do if you said,

                “Thank you.” Or…

                “You’re absolutely right. What can WE do about this?” Or…

                “What’s that again?” Or…

Anything different that isn’t negative can work. It puts them out of their comfort zone and they have to regroup. Use different tactics enough and they are likely to figure out you just aren’t worth the trouble. They may not change their overall behavior, but they won’t bother you any more.

Of course, not all situations are the same, so you do have to find the most positive, self-supportive, kind way to change directions.

Now there is one problem of course – at least from my perspective – Arwen doesn’t speak English (unless, of course she actually wants to). Being cute does go a long way though.


Joe Koob

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Filed under That Black-haired Beauty and I, Understanding Difficult People

That Black-haired Beauty and I: Head-Butt Love

I was just settlin’ on my easy chair (that’s what they used to call recliners in the old days) for my afternoon ‘constitutional,’ when that Black-haired Beauty (our dog Arwen if you haven’t been reading) decided it was time for some serious lovin’. She came up to me and pushed her head into my leg, so I reached out and started petting her about the ears, etc. Then…well, I got the ‘head-butt love’ request.

Strangely what she does rather than be content with a bit of head scritchin’ is she pushes the top of her head further into your leg, nose down, as if to say, “Yeah, that’s it my man, now keep it up.” And no matter how much petting, scratching, pats, etc., you give she keeps that head pushin’ in for more. It typically goes on for more than just a coupla minutes.

Not sure whether any of you out there have ever encountered such a behavior in your dogs, but it’s obvious she knows what she wants and isn’t shy about asking for it.

Truth is, we can all use more lovin’ on a regular basis. And there are certainly occasions when a good ‘head-butt lovin’ would be just the right tonic for what ails us. Then again I suppose it takes a bit of courage to butt your head into someone and ask them to scritch behind your ears.

Truth is, too, that difficult people could probably use even more ‘lovin’ than us regular folks. Now I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you butt your head into their leg or stomach and ask for it, but did you know that over a long period of time, if you give them a chance, some, maybe even many, difficult people will respond to positivity, or ‘lovin’’ on a general scale: it’s called, appreciation and recognition.

Instead of thinking negative thoughts and avoiding them, why not give them a bit of head buttin’ by going out of your way to say ‘Thank you,’ when they do something for you; or say something nice in passing, or give them a pat on the back, or a howdy do, or…well, you can come up with lots of ideas.

Truth is, it works. Yeah, it may take awhile, some people are hurtin’ pretty deep, but most people respond to what they get (not what they give out). Give them something to respond to.


Joe Koob

P.S. Sometimes we ignore those doggie head-butts at 5:00 AM. She gets the point and back settles in for awhile.

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That Black-haired Beauty and I: Part V – “Woof”

Interestingly enough Arwen has never been much of a barker. For the first four years of her life she would happily sit on our lawn in MI and watch the comings and goings of the neighborhood. She didn’t bark at other dogs, people, trucks, delivery, men, etc. For awhile we weren’t sure she had a voice in that sense.

To a certain extent that has changed, though she still does not bark a lot – we’re not exactly sure when she made the connection, but she did eventually discover that barking has its purposes. Perhaps the first instances were when walking with her, for some reason she gets rather excited about small dogs. Essentially she got barked at first and then she learned to respond. Now – small dog equals bark first, ask questions later. We haven’t let her leash go to find out whether she is more interested in getting to know them or eat them. Discretion is sometimes the better part of valor.

Or it might have been that she first started to bark when other creatures invaded our yard. She loves to chase rabbits, squirrels, black and white squirrels (aka skunks), deer, ground hogs, foxes, and ??? Well oft we don’t get to see what has gotten her excited as it has already skedaddled by the time we get out to check.

The last ‘barking’ thing she learned, and she really has learned it well, is that when she barks things happen, i.e. it attracts Mom or Dad. So “Bark” I want to get out, “Bark” I want to come in, “Bark,” someone is coming, and so forth. For more important things like foods and walks she makes a noise with her mouth and throat – “Arggwgghwant”. (Well that’s the best I can do!)

Pretty demanding, she has gotten. She will even stick her nose in your face at 5:00 in the morning to let you know it’s time to get up and feed her and let her out.

Guess what? Difficult people have learned these kinds of tricks, too.

And guess what again? Unfortunately we tend to jump when they grunt or bark or ???

The truth is we are ALWAYS part of the equation when it comes to difficult people in our lives.

What is the solution? Change your behavior in response to their behavior.

HINT! You can always find kind, positive ways to change your behavior. You don’t have to fight back or retreat.

It’s worth thinking about.


Joe Koob

P.S. Sometimes we ignore those doggie head-butts at 5:00 AM. She gets the point and back settles in for awhile.

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Filed under That Black-haired Beauty and I, Understanding Difficult People