Philly Creative Guide

Here's the Thing

Bill Haley

Dog Days of Summer
by Bill Haley, 1 Aug 2009

Bill Haley is President, Interactive of Allied Pixel (, an integrated media production firm specializing in the convergence of HD video, web and interactive media. He is also an evangelist for He can be reached at [email protected].

It's 5 am and Buckley's nose is pressed against the sliding glass door while I start a pot of coffee. I shuffle over, give him a pat on the butt, quietly unlock the door and slide it open. Buckley bursts out, in hot pursuit of his Morning Adversary, a feisty gray squirrel. The squirrel is ready for the chase and fakes Buckley out by dodging left and clamoring up the big shade tree. Standing by the tree, tail wagging 80 miles an hour, he breathes in the exquisite dewy morning air. It's going to be a great day.

Buckley was a stray. We found him at the SPCA in Cecil County, Maryland. He was the only dog that wasn't barking. He was just a pup. He weighed 28 pounds. I asked the guy at the desk if he thought he would get much bigger. "Not too much bigger," he said, sounding not too sure. Looking at those paws, we both should have known better. His name was Dallas then, which of course was not going to work as a name for any dog of ours. On the way home we thought about stopping at Buckley's, our favorite bar, in Centreville. We didn't stop, but Dallas did get a new name.

As a puppy, Buckley was hopelessly wild. He chewed everything, peed everywhere, listened to no one. We took him to obedience school – it was 10 Saturday mornings in a row at PetSmart. We watched in dismay as the other dogs learned to sit, stay, come. Buckley wanted none of it. A few weeks after graduation, I blew my stack when he ran away from me for the umpteenth time. All of the sudden he stopped, turned around, looked at me, and came back. He's been by my side ever since.

Buckley goes everywhere with us. He goes tubing down the Brandywine with us. He goes to county fairs with us. He goes on busses with us to the Revolutionary War re-enactment. He goes to the Great Pumpkin Carve with us. He goes to the office with me. (Some clients call in advance to see if Buckley will be there. I guess either because they want to see him, or they don't want to see him. Not everybody likes dogs, but most people do. I worry a little about the ones that don't.)

When our son Graham was born, Buckley didn't know what to make of this new creature in the house. His pecking order in the family had dropped a major notch (though still above our two cats.) Looking back at it, Graham caused much more trouble in his first year than Buckley ever did. But over time they have become real buddies. Nothing makes me happier than to watch them play in the back yard, stealing a tennis ball from each other.

We go on long walks together, Buckley and me. We walk through the hills of Chadds Ford, along the Brandywine, past horse pastures and long-forgotten stone walls. Usually he leads the way and I'm happy to follow. The great thing about being a dog is that you're always living in the moment. At times like this I am living in the moment too, which is something that doesn't come very naturally to me. What a good thing it is to have a good dog.

Now you may be wondering why, in a column about creativity, I am telling you about my dog. Well it is August, the dog days of summer. My brain is on holiday, and my thoughts have turned to having fun. And there are few things I enjoy more than being with Buckley. There will be plenty of time to be serious come the fall. In the meantime, happy summer.

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