Category Archives: Amazing Animals

Tomato Feast!

Today’s harvest.

At lunch we enjoyed two of the tomatoes, some of the celery I grew that I showed you a couple of days ago, and some radishes I grew. We had carrots from the store and a hard-boiled egg. Nice, crunchy good-for-us lunch!

My husband put the different style thermometer in the greenhouse for me this morning. I got seed packets from the store and will read up on when I’m supposed to plant each of them for a fall garden.


We’re trying to have Amber inside with us more and more during the day. My husband took her for a long walk and then we brought her inside while we ate lunch. She dive-bombed Molly, of course, so I put Molly out while we concentrate on Amber for the moment. (She’s asleep beside my feet now as I type this.) Later I’ll bring Molly in and hold her in my lap while Amber cavorts around, wheeling, spinning, and wagging her tail, and see if we can make progress on melding the various members of the family…

Have a wonderful Sunday!

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Trying to Meet the Challenges of a Lab Puppy

Yesterday Amber finally got us to admit that the nice metal gate that my husband made years ago to keep our pit bull, Bambi, and our cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross, Molly, in the office with us will not meet the challenge we have before us.

Amber is fine until one of us leaves the room, she sees Molly, she sees a cat, or her toy rolls under the gate, or…. She proved yesterday morning that, unless one of us sits at the gate, like a gatekeeper, flyswatter in hand, ready to jump up, yell, “NO!” and swipe her with the swatter, the gate will not keep her in. She can still slide under it, though she won’t be able to do that much longer at the rate she’s growing. She can easily leap over it, and that will get easier as she gets larger. The gate is a joke, only making it harder for the people to get in and out.

We ordered another Carlson Walk-Thru Pet Gate from yesterday. We just got confirmation that it has been shipped today and we should get it Monday or Tuesday.

It comes with a couple of extensions, and we still have the ones we didn’t need for the doorway to the porch, so we think we can make this work, though our doorway is 48 inches wide.


Our efforts to allow Amber to come inside with us seem to be working, albeit slowly. This morning, for example, we had Molly sit beside my husband’s chair at the table while we were eating breakfast. We brought Amber in. She ran around like a mad thing for a few moments, and then zeroed in on Molly. My husband was ready with the flyswatter, and soon Amber got the message that if she dive-bombed Molly, she got swatted. She finally decided to lie down at my feet. This worked well until Molly decided to move. We went through the whole thing again, but a shorter amount of time.

Molly is learning that Amber is not trying to hurt her and that her people are aware of the problem and are trying to make the problem go away – eventually.

I’ve been told that Amber will be in ‘puppihood’ until she is 2 years old. Some have said 4 years. I remember my mother telling my brother and me from time to time, “I’ve read all about this stage and you’re going to skip it.” It didn’t work very well for my mom, but maybe it’ll work for us…

Meanwhile, Amber showers us with love (and slobber) every time we see her. Since we see her very often during the day and evening, we’re building a good relationship. One day at a time!

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Boo Has a New Bowl

A new bowl for Boo arrived this morning!

I decided that she really didn’t have enough room to swim around much in the old bowl. I ordered a new drum-shaped 2 gallon bowl. It’s a bit harder for me when lifting it back up onto the divider, but I’ve figured out that I can fill it totally by putting the clean, empty bowl on the divider and then using the extender cable on the faucet to fill it up. :0)


I would like to do everything I can to keep Boo happy. She actually swims over to meet my finger – wiggling at me – when I stop and talk to her. I love her bulbous eyes and really wiggly body with all the fins.  I’m beginning to think I am unable to get a good picture of her. Here is one I found on the net that gives you a better idea of what she looks like.


Black Moor Goldfish – Pinterest

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Sweet, Innocent Puppy…

Amber – 15 weeks

You might be saying, “Awwwwww! What a sweet puppy!”

I’m sporting a new bandaid on the index finger of my right hand from an innocent game of tug of war with her rope. The thing is, you’re playing, having a good time, and suddenly, she cheats, biting YOUR end of the rope – and my finger in the process…. The lesson is that if you’re not the one with the sharp teeth, you’d better pay better closer attention.

This morning my husband was letting Amber have a time in the living room with him. He routinely keeps the retractable leash on her, giving her lots of room to play with her toys, and sitting on the part you usually hold. He then reads a magazine. This morning, all of a sudden Amber was free! He was still sitting on the end of the leash, so – Amber had quietly chewed through the end of the leash that goes to the part you clip on her collar ring. The clipping part was still hanging on the ring – minus the leash. My husband tied the end of the leash around the clipping end so we can still use it, but now we know we can’t depend on that keeping her corralled.

When we returned from Lunch Bunch and errands, I immediately took Amber out to do her business. That accomplished, my plan was to put her in the office behind the gate, refill my coffee cup, and spend some time with her. In the time it took me to get to the kitchen, Amber was out, wagging her tail at me. (She had jumped over the gate.)  Thankfully, my husband picked her up and deposited her over the gate into the office again. I climbed over and went to my chair. Happily enough, she is content (for the moment) to take a nap right beside the wheels of my chair.  I’ll remember not to move my chair…

It might sound like I’m griping, and that would be true – at least on the surface. Amber is definitely a handful. She needs constant care and/or supervision, lots of attention and love, lots of play time and exercise, AND lessons on entertaining herself with hopefully approved activities, AND the idea that it’s OKAY to take a nap and rest at least a little bit every once in a  while. Gradually, we’re adapting to each other. I held Molly in my lap last night while Amber cavorted around, trying to get Molly to play with her, diving at her face, leaping around the room. Molly wasn’t happy with the situation, but she’s beginning to realize that Amber is a big, lumbering puppy who means her no harm. Annoying, yes, but dangerous to her, maybe not so much.

We’re managing to have some quiet times during the day, where everyone takes a deep breath and gets a bit of rest. Then one of us goes out to play or walk Amber, maybe bring her inside for a bit, feed her, etc. Over and over again, until late at night when it’s crate time. It’s going to work out. I’m still looking for good sugar-free energy drinks…



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Silly Humans

My name is Amber. I came to live with the Lewises, a kind-enough couple, but kind of doofus, 5 weeks ago. I’ve been making wonderful discoveries almost every day since then.

For example, I found a squeaker with a new voice in this bright orange bone this morning! I love it!!! I walk around with it my mouth making it squeak continuously. I can drive my older sister, Molly, nuts with it. If I could smile with it in my mouth, I would. :0)

My humans put up a metal gate across the opening of the office, thinking it will make me stay in here with them. My mom went to the kitchen to let Molly in. Was she surprised when I showed up in the kitchen and jumped on Molly! The humans then finally acknowledged that the gate is a joke. Maybe they’ll leave it down now.

My dad took me out with him to the shop. I LOVE going out to the shop because he feeds me a biscuit. I even stop there when my dad ISN’T there, hoping.

My dad put me on a string and then went in and out of the shop throwing stuff into a barrel. Then he did something at the bottom and fire came out of the top of the barrel! And little bits of black stuff started sailing around, all over the yard around the barrel. One landed close to me. I immediately went to sniff it. YUCK! It smelled bad, so I jumped backwards and barked at it Then I crept up on it again, slowly, my tail wagging mightily. I then tried to bite it, even though it smelled bad, because I can’t tell what stuff is until I taste it BLECK! It tasted even worse than it smelled. I spit it out, then sneezed, and my dad laughed at me.

After my walk, I’m back on the porch for a morning snooze. I have to tear up things on the porch before my humans come out again so they’ll feel secure…

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Dog with a Ball

As Amber calms down more, she is discovering that life is really good. She’s an exuberantly happy three-and-a-half month old, fast-growing yellow labrador retriever puppy. She’s gained 20 lbs in 5 weeks. Our vet said, ‘She’s a beautiful dog.” :0)

Every day she discovers another thing she loves. So far, she loves

  • jumping into her kiddie pool several times a day, walking around the perimeter and drinking water
  • squeaky toys. The purple ball in her mouth makes a delicious squeak. She loves to fetch, but wants to hoard the toy when she gets it.
  • shade. Every time she finds a shady, grassy spot, she dives for it, lies down, stretches out, and rolls – in Heaven.
  • sticks. She rarely completes a walk without having grabbed – and many times eaten – a stick.
  • butterflies. She jumps and tries to play with them.
  • cats – but they don’t like her.
  • Molly – but she doesn’t like her.
  • people – she wants to be with us 24/7. She is learning that the better she acts, the longer she gets to stay inside with the people.
  • chewing. Though many toys are provided, she wants to chew on EVERYTHING. We have to watch her like a hawk with a rolled up newspaper, a flyswatter, and a stern, “NO!!!!” with us.
  • treats. She’ll do almost anything for one. She even cheats – pretending to do her business, or peeing several times in the attempt to get more treats. She watches our hands and our pockets, alert for any chance she’ll get one.
  • her crate and other safe places. She readily goes into her crate each night. We got a soft bed to put in there, plus she has a couple of soft toys for snuggling. During the day she pulls out the laundry basket that holds her toys so she can sleep between it and the wall. (Kind of like me in a restaurant. I like the wall behind me.)

Each day is a new adventure. We’re adapting to each other now and things are getting into a bit more of a pattern.

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Oh, Baby!

Amber at 15 weeks today.

We just got home from taking her to the vet for her last puppy shots, a rabies vaccination, and a checkup.

We brought her home 5 weeks ago. She weighed 16 pounds. Today she weighed 36 pounds. She’s a BIG baby!

The vet checked her arm pits where the harness was chaffing her. He said they would just heal on their own. He thought she looked and acted GREAT.  She was friendly and cooperative with him. We scheduled her to be spayed at 5 months, August 7th. We got more samples of Sentinel, to protect her from Heartworm. We can’t buy any yet, because even the 3-pack wouldn’t be the right dosage as fast as she’s growing.

Amber met the vet’s dog, a grown female labradoodle named Ellie. They got along fine, both sniffing and wagging tails.

Amber didn’t fuss with any of the undignified things that happen to dogs on the table at the vet’s. She didn’t seem to even notice the shots.  The vet noticed the “Thunder” leash we were using and asked about it. He hadn’t seen it before. We explained that if she pulls on the leash, the strap around her squeezes her. Her reaction is to slow WAAAAY down, or even stop and sit. This is really a good thing when you have a big dog and you’re not as young or strong as you used to be. Since she’s growing like one of our weed trees, we feel good we found it.  She still will run around or through our legs, if we’re not paying attention, so it’s still a challenge to walk her when she’s off the beaten path of our land.

We let her stick her face out of the window, with her riding in my lap, on the way home. Suddenly, she turned around, looked at me and licked my cheek. We all laughed.

I feel relieved that her underarms are healing well.


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The few times that Amber is still – and I think I can count the times on one hand in the month she’s been a part of our family – I’m struck by her eyelashes.

I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a dog’s eyelashes before. I love a dog’s eyes, and I’m partial to dark noses, but I love Amber’s eyelashes. I still haven’t gotten a good picture of them, but if you look carefully, you can see that they are light, like her hair.

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Photo Credit: Christopher Schwarz/Audubon Photography Awards

We saw an amazing sight out the window of our office this morning. A roadrunner much like the one pictured above was standing in the grass with a tiny snake in his/her mouth. The tail of the roadrunner seemed longer and fuller to me than the ones we usually see. It stood stock still, then looked around as we watched. Then it turned around, flew up to the top of our well house, and then walked over the edge where we couldn’t see it anymore. We don’t know if he/she is feeding babies in a nest somewhere, but it was obviously taking the snake to someone else. Amazing sight!

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New Collar and Tag on the Way

It doesn’t show in this picture, but Amber is wearing a never-used collar we ordered for Molly. Her poor underarms are healing from the chaffing she got from the harness. We think this happened so suddenly because she loves to jump into her kiddie pool and then out again on a LOT of our walks. The wet harness then rubbed against her skin. :0(

I ordered a new collar in a deep purple with a purple tag on it. Since Amber will have a tag and is microchipped, we decided to forego having her name on the collar she will probably soon grow out of.  The collar is an inch wide, so it shouldn’t cause her any rubbing. If it does, we’ll see it more quickly on her neck than we did on her underarms.

She goes to the vet tomorrow for her last puppy shots and her rabies vaccination, plus we’ll ask our good vet to look at her underarms to see if there is anything more we should be doing. I’ll be interested to see how much she weighs tomorrow. We think it will be around 30 lbs.

I sprayed the basket she keeps trying to chew with Bitter Apple spray this morning. She still chewed on the basket until I whacked her with the flyswatter, yelling, “NO!” crossly…

Poor baby. She only has 3 toys in here and two people –

She’s not following many of the suggestions for stopping bad behavior yet, such as spraying her with a water bottle (she LOVES that, trying to bite the stream of water and play in it); shaking a can with coins in it (she stops for a second, then wants to BITE the can); and now the Bitter Apple spray. I’ll keep spraying, just to see if I didn’t spray things well enough, but this is like living with a little kid. She’s always looking for something to get into, and if she’s quiet, it probably means she’s eating something you really like…

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Feeling Bad


Today I noticed a new ‘doggy smell’ when I petted Amber. I made a mental note that we should give her a nice bath very soon. Then she was stopping and licking the floor all around her. We finally stopped and really looked and found that the harness she has been wearing had caused a bare, sore spot under her arm.

We took the harness off, bathed the spot carefully, and put triple antibiotic ointment on it, not having anything specifically for dogs. That seemed to ease the problem, since she stopped trying to lick it.

Since we need to put her on a leash to take her out several times a day, I got concerned that we didn’t have a collar for her. At this point, trying to ‘trust her’ not to spot one of the cats, Molly, or something else while out and running off after it is ludicrous, so I hunted all over the house.

I rummaged around and finally came up with a collar we got for Molly years ago, but it was too large and couldn’t be made any smaller. It’s 14″, just the right size for Amber – for at least a couple of minutes. I was concerned because it’s storming outside, dark as night right now (at 9:45 in the morning) and we should be walking her.

I feel bad because I didn’t really check her for problems with the harness. She’s so active that it’s difficult to look at her carefully, but we’ll start now, and insist that she allow us to look at her all over from now on.  We had been concentrating on touching her mouth, her ears, and her feet, but we should have been making her lie down and let us check her from stem to stern.

We have an appointment on Tuesday to get her last puppy shots and her rabies shot, and we can ask the vet to look at this place and see if we need to do more. For now, the ointment seems to have given her some ease.



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Adaptation is a Beautiful Thing

I’ve told you that, even though we’re stubborn and slow, Amber is teaching us lots of new behaviors, such as

  • providing a new plastic bottle to chew on, free of bottle cap, cap ring, and label;
  • coming to entertain her or take her out every hour and a half or so,
  • changing her kiddie pool water,
  • giving her a treat every time she takes care of business or happens to do what her people say.

I’m happy to report that Amber is beginning to see the pattern of our lives after living with us a little over a month now.  We’re able to let her into the house to hang out with us for a longer and longer time. We’re trying to do this at least a couple of times a day, and NOT entertain her so that she finally lies down and is calm and companionable – at least for awhile.

This morning I wanted to get out and fight with the weed trees that are growing just off the civilized part of our back yard, cutting off our view of the valley below. I put her on the dog run after filling a bowl of water for her, figuring that if she could see me working, she wouldn’t get upset. That seemed to work pretty well. She is catching on to the fact that whining and barking don’t bring people.

My husband was looking for me because he wanted me to help him move a REALLY heavy 1/2 inch thick piece of metal up onto the CNC table so that he could cut it to make a base for his new-to-him ham radio antenna. He saw I was deep in the weed trees, hacking away. He got us a cold drink and moved Amber from the dog run to the long leash on the deck. We all sat out there together – (even Molly! – sitting by my husband where she knew the leash didn’t reach) – and cooled off and talked. We put Amber on the porch when I went out to help my husband.

I cut some more weed trees, and quit when it started to rain. It’s still storming now, with some pretty gusty winds, so I brought Amber into the office. I’ll need to mop up the back porch before she can go back out there. (Fingers are crossed that my new greenhouse makes it through this storm.)

She is lying down behind my chair, having played with all the toys in here, chewed on my basket, the leg of my chair, and the trash can. She is learning “no!” and we played with the rope, the ball, the plastic bottle, and the bone.

We’re adapting to each other a bit more each day. Things are getting more calm – at least sometimes.


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Lifelike Bird Pins – Take 2

Lifelike Bird Pins Embroidered by Paulina Bartnikby

by Christopher Jobson on June 6, 2017 – Colossal



“Warsaw-based embroidery artist Paulina Bartnik stitches colorfully lifelike brooches of birds and other tiny creatures in a dense style called needle painting. Each object begins as a piece of wool which she prods with a special needle in a process called dry felting which results in a surface ideal for embroidery. She then paints with a needle directly on the felt and embroiders the finer details.”



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My New Life

I now walk around with a small pocket knife and my pedometer in one pocket and as many dog treats as I can stuff into my other pocket.  (Replenished at least once again each day).

Amber is now 30 lbs (we think). We’ll weigh her officially next Tuesday, when we take her for her last puppy shots and her rabies vaccine, but we went ahead and increased her puppy food to approximately two cups of food morning and evening, and she’s still clamoring for more.

She has NOT eaten the rubber from around her new water dish because she hasn’t figured out a way to upend it – yet. She ‘plays’ in it, trying to scoop the water out with her paws, rather than simply drinking it. (I guess that would be boring).

Last night she last almost half an hour in the living room with us. She played with her tennis ball and her squeaky ball, her rope, and ran back and forth between my husband and me. We put a gate between our chairs so she couldn’t get out, but she managed to find an opening to the left of my chair, under the table once. :0)

My new life is dominated by

  • when she is fed
  • how long has it been since she went out
  • it’s time to go play with/cuddle her for a bit
  • it’s time to get Molly and Amber together again to see if things have improved any
  • it’s time to bring her inside for a bit since she’s just been out

Anything else that gets done is gravy. I knew that having a new puppy would be time-consuming. I knew that we would have to really work to give her enough exercise. I have to admit I underestimated how much having a sweet, wriggly, BIG puppy would completely dominate our lives.

We’re making good progress on

  • “Amber”
  • “Sit!”
  • “Good Girl!”
  • “Hurry Up!”
  • “No!!!”
  • “Crate”

No so much on

  • “No Bite!” or “No Teeth!”
  • “Come”

We HAVE gotten to the point where Amber expects to entertain herself after breakfast and inside time are over for the early morning, and again in the afternoon. We ALL take a break, breathe a huge sigh of relief and REST for a bit…



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Amber’s Rug

Amber is a very oral, chewy puppy, not knowing how to handle things unless she’s tasted them first. It’s how my arms and the back of my hands got punctures, scrapes, and mysterious lumps and bruises on them when we first got her. She didn’t ‘bite,’ as such. She turns her head quickly from side to side with her mouth open, particularly when she’s excited, and her puppy teeth are very sharp!


We put a multicolored woven rug – the kind that many people use as an exercise mat, or a naptime rug for kindergardeners – in Amber’s crate when we brought it home. We also put a towel in there for extra padding and comfort, plus a soft chew toy.

This is what remains of the rug. It will no longer even THINK about lying flat. It was to the point that little bits of a plastic-like ‘stuff’ were on the floor on the porch. Since we didn’t want her actually EATING the rug, we went looking for a bed that we could put inside the crate. I threw this poor thing away.

You can see the new ‘bed’ that now lines Amber’s crate. It probably won’t look like this for long, so I snapped a couple of pics of it in its pristine state.

We have always used a spray bottle filled with water to deter our dogs and cats from doing things we don’t like. This has – and continues to – work with the two cats and Molly, our 12-year-old cocker spaniel/schnauzer fuzzy white dog. Not so with Amber! She LOVES to be sprayed with water. She wants to BITE the stream of water.

My husband played ‘bite-the-water-stream’ with Amber with the hose while I swept and then mopped the back porch, and then emptied the kiddie pool. She was totally wet and laughing with her tongue hanging out when they finished. She then proceeded to jump into the fresh kiddie pool and splash around even more.

We are definitely in an era now where nothing stays clean, dry, or in one piece around here for very long. My broom and mop are getting a workout. We again thank Cathy for telling us about a pet gate with a people door. I think she may have saved us from breaking bones. Amber can now jump over the gate we had across the doorway. She can no longer go UNDER it, but when we raised it to where she couldn’t jump over it – yet – I was no longer able to scramble over it to get to the porch! THANK YOU again, Cathy.

My sister-in-law, Mary Lou, recommended another good thing in our efforts to stop Amber from chewing on things that are not chew toys. It’s called “Bitter Apple” Spray. I just ordered some, though – at this point – I’d have to spray the whole HOUSE. I’ll have it ready when she zeros in on a few things, continuing to go back to them, like the basket I have in the office, and spray THAT.

One day at a time.

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Amber is Training Us Again


Amber goes right to a basket I have in the office to chew on the edge, so we got her this new rope. She LIKES it, but still goes back to try to chew on the basket after playing with the rope awhile – with or without a person on the other end.

Amber was regularly spilling the ‘no-spill’ water bowl we got her, so we bought a small metal one with a rubber edge. She immediately chewed off the rubber edge, and then dumps the dish before we even leave the porch! I don’t want her to be without water, so we found another one at the co-op today. It’s the same design – metal with sloping sides and a rubber edge – but it’s LARGE. My husband took it out to the porch and filled it up. He said she hadn’t dumped it by the time he came in again….

Amber is pretty good on the retractable leash, walking pretty well with us now. She is no longer afraid going up and down steps. The problem comes when she sees something she really wants, like one of the cats, our dog, Molly, a dragonfly, a clump of dirt she found yesterday…..  and pulls so hard I’m afraid she’ll pull me off the steps or make one of us fall. We ordered a new retractable ‘no-pull’ leash from and it was delivered today. It attaches to her harness, then has a strap that goes around her tummy. When she pulls, it tightens up and squeezes her belly. We tried it today, and it SEEMS to work. She pulled, it squeezed, and she stopped and sat down. We’ll keep working with this and see how it goes.

We’ve been trying to encourage her to take care of business when we walk her. We’ve gotten it across because she LOVES treats. We say, “Hurry Up!” and she pees. She gets a “Good Girl!” and a treat. This works like a charm, with the complication that she’s a smart dog. She now thinks she should get a treat for each pee, and so pees about 4 times while we’re out. We only give her a treat for the first one, so she’s a bit frustrated, looking at us and our pockets, not believing she shouldn’t get another treat. She finally takes care of the rest of her business and gets another treat – but we have to watch her because she cheats! She ACTS like she’s taking care of business, but doesn’t….

She thinks we’re ‘pretty nice,’  but VERY slow to catch on.


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I Think…

Zen to Zany

I laughed aloud when I saw this picture.

My husband and I got used to sleeping when we could, wandering around when we couldn’t, reading for another hour, then sleeping in, or taking a nap.

Then came Amber.


Amber at 3 months

Amber is a 3 month old yellow Labrador retriever. We adopted her at 10 weeks old, a month ago tomorrow.  And what a whirlwind of a month we’ve had!

Now our lives revolve on when Amber was last out. We take her out for at least a short walk every two hours from 7:30 in the morning until about 11:00 at night. If we’re not walking her, we make a point of going out to the porch to cuddle, play, talk, as well as check her water dish. (She’s definitely a water dog. We fill the bowl half full, and then she cannot seem to stand it until she gets at least one paw in it. She drinks it, plays in it, splashes it all over the floor. We’re hoping that she’ll learn that when she does this, she might have to go for a bit where the bowl is empty. (Not long, but we’re hoping long enough to get her attention and maybe get her to change her ways.)

She desperately wants to jump on, and play with, our 12-year-old cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross, Molly,




and our cats, Abby



and Smoke.


The problem is, NO ONE, except her people, wants to play with HER!

The one who handles our new family member best is Smoke. She routinely gets nose to nose with Amber, and then whacks her with a paw. Abby disappears until ‘the baby’ has gone back out on the porch  Molly tries to disappear, and then growls and snaps a bit when Amber relentlessly continues to try to jump on her face. Of course, even when Amber was being good, standing in front of Molly with her head down, front paws straight out in front of her, bottom high in the air, and tail wagging furiously, Molly still growled and snapped.

The only one NOT giving us a hassle right now is Boo, my new black fish. It’s really hard to get a picture of her because of the reflection of the light on the bowl.

This picture is a professional one I found on the net, but it gives you a good idea of Boo’s face. She swims right over to me when I feed her, wiggling her body and lots of fins while goggling at me. She doesn’t say much and doesn’t give us any problems – a real relief right now.

To say logistics of where animals are at any given time is a full time job around here is a vast understatement. Also, in our efforts to get Amber acclimated to the house more, we try to invite her in several times a day. This is complicated because she loves to jump into the kiddie pool just before coming in from a walk, so we have to check to see how wet she is before she is allowed inside…

Suffice to say we fall into bed at night and are probably asleep within 30 seconds or less. We wake up still tired from the day before, but are determined to adapt to our new lifestyle, feeling lucky to have a houseful of wonderful animals.

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Our Puppy is Training Us Pretty Well!

Amber is training us to shut the door to the porch when she won’t stop whining or barking. Happily, she is responding to the bark collar (when she isn’t kicking it, trying to get it off), and sometimes stops on her own when we don’t respond to her noise.  She is training us to come play with her, sit with her on the porch, bring her inside, or take her for a walk or swim when she is quiet. Shhhhhh!


She is training us to look at her water bowl every time we’re out there to make sure it’s full. Since she’s a water dog, she tends to ‘play’ with the bowl, spilling water all over the place.  She gets frustrated with us if we don’t check it and refill it.   She is also trying to get us to feed her more than twice a day, but she has found we’re really stubborn on that point.


She’s training us to take her for a walk every couple of hours, both for allowing her to take care of business and because she loves to sniff and/or eat whatever interesting things we find.


Most of all, she has trained us to carry a pocket full of treats, in case she does something she feels deserves one – basically anything that makes us say, “Good dog!”

We’re making progress every day, but she wishes we would learn faster.

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A Special Treat

On our way to Lunch Bunch this morning, we had a rare treat – a doe was way down the road in front of us. My husband slowed to a crawl. When we got close, we stopped and just looked at each other. (This is not the doe we saw, but it gives you an idea.)  We sat for several minutes and then she went to the side of the road and up the bank.

On the way home, we saw another doe standing by the road looking at us. We went by her very slowly and she didn’t move.

Such a beautiful sight!

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But I Just Want To Play!

Amber is too boisterous and friendly for her own good.

She was 3 months old yesterday and lives to play with us, with strangers, with the cats, with Molly.

Molly and the cats aren’t having any of it. We’re making a point of bringing Amber inside into the kitchen (with the gate up) after she has been taken out and then fed so that she can socialize with whoever is with us. Today it was Abby the cat and Molly the dog.

Abby hissed, spit, and the fled the scene.

Molly would have LIKED to do that, too, but can’t get over the gate. We allowed as much action under the table while we ate as was reasonable, trying to allow them to work it out. Amber was trying SO hard to get Molly to play. At one point, Molly was over by the door to the garage and Amber was in front of her, with her front half down and her back end up, tail wagging furiously. Molly’s reaction was to curl her lip and growl.

After we admonished Amber a couple more times, she actually laid down! Molly kept a really low profile at the other end of the table and that seemed to keep Amber much more calm.

Maybe if we do this every morning, things will eventually tame down…

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It’s exciting to be a puppy! Every day when you go out, you make new discoveries!

Today I discovered that there is a flap in the garage door that I can walk through to get into the garage. I dashed through it, only to have ‘mom’ pull on my leash until I backed out and came with her. We went around the house several times, though, so I got to go through it again and again before the walk was over.

I can go into the house by climbing the steps to the front porch, and climbing the steps to the deck and then to the porch where I stay. There is a gate that keeps me from coming into the house, but sometimes they let me through the people door to visit inside awhile! And NOW I can go through the flap in the garage door, climb the steps and hope they’ll let me into the house from the garage. My sister, Molly, barks at the doors and they magically open so she can go in. I want to do that, too!

I also discovered a small, black wisp of paper on the way to the shop. I like going to the shop because my dad gives me a cookie. He wasn’t there yet today, though. Mom said he was still in the house. When I saw the black thing I stopped dead in my tracks. What was this? I got down low to the ground, inching my way toward it. Suddenly, it moved! I jumped backwards. When it was on the ground again, I jumped at it, expecting it to leap away. It just stayed there. I slowly crept up until I was nose to nose with it. It smelled funny, so I jumped back again. Mom started laughing, telling me that they burned trash yesterday and that was a burned piece of paper. I didn’t understand ANY of those words, but mom finally got me to go on with our walk. After we looked at the garden and then walked around the shop, I remembered the black thing in the yard. I pulled hard on the leash until mom said, “No pull!” I stopped and she gave me a cookie, saying, “Good Girl!”

I LOVE it when she says that!  I’m trying to train her to give me a cookie each time I pee outside, sometimes going three or four times. on one walk.  She used to fall for it, but now only gives me a cookie for the first time. :0(

We started walking again and I started creeping up on the black thing again. This time I threw caution to the wind. I HAD to taste it. I bit down, but it tasted awful! Yuck! I spit it out, shaking my head. I don’t know what that was, but I won’t eat it again.

I can’t wait until our next walk…

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A Fish Called, “Boo.”

I lost Sally, my bright yellow goldfish, the day before yesterday. I had her in a small goldfish bowl and we had added a pump to provide more than enough oxygen. Suddenly, after months and months, the pump failed. I immediately ordered a couple, and they were delivered today, in record time, but it wasn’t quick enough to save Sally.  :0(

I can’t say Sally was effusively friendly, but when I started to feed her, morning and night, she would swim close to me and wiggle excitedly. She really enjoyed feeding time.

Today we were in Fort Smith, so I bought another fish. This one is black with googly eyes. I looked him up and he is a black variant of a telescope goldfish that has a characteristic pair of protruding eyes. This fish is commonly known as a black moor.

I tried to get a picture of him, but he is elusive so far.

He looks like a silhouette here, but I got him to show himself by giving him a small bit of food.



I found this great picture on the net so that you can see what he actually looks like. It’s like a cartoony version of a fish, and I love it.  I’ve named him, “Boo.” Happily, our two cats, Molly, and our new puppy, Amber, won’t have to accept him, and he won’t be freaked out by them, either. It’s basically just the two of us, enjoying each other.

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“Inside” and “Outside”

Trying to teach a dog the difference between “inside” and “outside” is difficult.

Amber knows that when she’s ‘inside’ the crate, she doesn’t want to make a mess. She waits – and we get up early – to take her ‘outside’ each morning.

Now she SEEMS to be learning that when she’s ‘inside’ on the back porch, she shouldn’t make a mess. She hasn’t made a mistake in over two weeks now! We take her ‘outside’ 6 to 8 times a day – sometimes for a ‘hurry up’ walk where we take care of business and go back ‘inside,’ and several times a day much longer walks, where we explore, sniff, see interesting stuff, interact with other family members, find interesting sticks to chew on, or take a dip in the kiddie pool.

Now we’re bringing her ‘inside’ the house a couple of times a day. Sometimes it’s only Amber and her people. Other times she sees Molly, our 12-year-old cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross, who barely manages to stay in the room with her, since Amber is so busy jumping into her face, wanting to lick her and play. Sometimes our two cats are ‘inside.’ Abby, the older cat, tries to disappear, hissing. Smoke taunts Amber. They get nose to nose, Amber’s tail wagging madly. Then Smoke calmly whaps Amber in the face.

These ‘inside the house’ visits are short, intense, and are getting a bit better each time. Amber gets excited, of course; and even though she has just been ‘outside’ to take care of business just before she comes in, might have an accident.

Each day we make progress. Amber’s vocabulary now includes:

  • “Amber,”
  • “sit,”
  • “off,”
  • “no,”
  • “cookie,”
  • “Good Girl”
  • “Walk”
  • “crate”
  • “hurry up” – if it’s first thing in the morning

She is also responds, but may or may not actually:

  • “come”
  • “bring it”, and
  • “leave it”
  • “no pull”

Sometimes she has to wear a barking collar, but is having to wear it less and less. Each day she is a bit better on not pulling on the leash, though all bets are off if there is a dog or cat to be greeted.

She loves anything that squeaks. Yesterday while we were out, we found a pig that makes a farting sound. She LOVES it. :0)

To sum it up – EXTREMELY active, happy puppy. Exhausted, but in love ‘parents.’

“The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.” ~ Unknown


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Amber – Animated Destruction Machine

She’s a sweet, lovable puppy, but she’s a living destruction machine when left to her own devices for long. She has a gazillion chew toys – some really hard rubber, some solid bones, nylabones, some soft, squeaky toys, etc., and yet she also wants to chew the cover to the electrical socket, her crate blanket (behind her, where she’s pulling on some of the strings that hold the fabric together), the edge of a chair on the porch, her un-spillable water bowl, etc.

And she looks so innocent! Such a happy, playful pup. We only walked her six times today, so you can understand her frustration at being neglected…

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Amber’s New Toy

We bought some toys for Amber when we first got her two weeks ago. We also gathered the toys that our other dogs played with for a bit and then lost interest in, or never liked, and put them in a big laundry basket on the porch.

Today, while we were waiting to pay our wonderful dirt guy, Eric, for clearing land for our greenhouse and making our driveway much less bumpy – at least until it rains a lot – I gave Amber the water bottle I had just emptied, minus the cap. She LOVED it.


All you could here on the deck was the distinctive sound of a plastic water bottle being crunched. The just couldn’t get enough of it.


We’ll have to remember this lesson as we go forward. Our sweet Amber has gone from 18 lbs two weeks ago when we brought her home to 25.8 lbs today, when she turns 3 months old.

We introduced her to Eric. A good time was had by all.

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Amber on the Run

We made a 100 foot dog run for Amber, to use when she is feeling feisty and we need to be somewhere else for a few minutes. We usually monitor her while she’s on it, since it’s possible for her to get the harness off if she moves in just the right way at the right time.


She makes quite a show of biting the rope and the connecting hardware, and then happily runs back and forth, finding a cat to chase, or a bug to sniff, or the water dish at one end.  She also gets frustrated because she hates restrains of any kind, and so complains a bit.


We just got back from taking Amber to the vet for another set of puppy shots. She’s 3 months old today. When we brought her home to be a part of our family two weeks ago, she weighed 18 lbs. Today she weighs 25.8 lbs. – a growing girl!  She was a good girl at the vet’s. She tried to play with two doggies that were on their way out while we were waiting. She licked the hand of our vet and smiled at him. He smiled right back. He pronounced her very healthy and set us up for the last set of puppy shots, plus a rabies shot, in three weeks. Then we’re free until we take her to be spayed in August. I can only wonder what she’ll weigh by then…

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Ahhhh- a Bit of Quiet….

Amber has been on 3 walks this morning so far, has inhaled a heaping cup of puppy food, jumped into her kiddie pool, visited her ‘dad’ and Molly in the office, played with ‘mom’ and is finally sleeping.  Ahhhhh – a bit of quiet.

Last night we had a good friend over to share a cookout with us and meet Amber. Amber was amazingly good for a crazy, hyper-enthusiastic puppy. Our friend wore sandals and Amber wanted to lick her toes. Both laughed.

“Properly trained, a Man can be Dog’s best friend.” ~ Corey Ford

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Amber Might be a Weather Girl!

Today we have had Amber for two weeks. This two-week period has changed all of our lives for the better – although it will be good when she settles in more.

She seems particularly hyper today. My husband remarked on it, too. He took her out for her early morning take-care-of-things outing and then fed her. Amazingly, she sat down when she saw my husband was filling her food bowl! After breakfast, I took her for a longer walk. We saw Smoke, the cat, and met a turtle for the first time. Amber looked at it, crept up to it slowly, then jumped backwards, barking.  (I told her I would protect her. :0) )


I just came in from walking her again. We brought her into the office with us, putting up a gate across the doorway. She found Molly, who was trying to take a nap. Molly wasn’t happy with the situation, but she bore it with reasonable grace. Amber tried to play with her again and again. We grabbed Amber’s harness so that the contact was mainly face to face, rather than Amber trying to jump all over Sweet Molly.


Amber played with her tug o’ war toy a few times, but seemed distracted. I have a large, heavy, solid glass paperweight shaped like an apple. I put it on the carpet and Amber loved it. There is no way she can hurt it, and on the carpet, it can’t hurt her.

She usually settles down for a short nap after we go out for the longer walk, or at least is content to play with her toys on the porch for a bit. She is definitely unsettled this morning.

Our weather forecast is for strong storms with rain, wind, hail, chance of tornadoes, and flying hair balls today. She doesn’t seem scared, and she has been through a couple of hard rains while on the porch in the past two weeks.  Maybe I’m wrongly conflating her hyperactivity (even for an active puppy) with the unsettled weather wrongly, but I think we may have adopted a weather girl!

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Tales of Amber

Amber at 11 weeks of age is a study in motion. Saying she is an ‘active puppy’ just doesn’t describe it adequately. If you take your eye off her for a second, she has found something else that is fascinating – and, like a baby – she puts it into her mouth to get the sense of it.

We’re bringing her into the house with us several times a day to teach her house manners. These photos are taken in our office. The dog gate my husband made years ago is up so that she can’t get out – yet. She can’t get under it, but I think she can get over it if she figures it out. So far, she doesn’t know, and that’s a lifesaver for us. :0)


Tomorrow she will have been with us for 2 weeks, and what a two weeks it has been! She is actually sitting for a split second while we put her food bowl down. We say, “Okay” very quickly and declare victory for now. She is much better on the leash and now goes up and down stairs pretty well. She is sleeping in her crate at night with no problems, chooses to sleep in it for naps, and usually manages not to chew her crate blanket TOO much.

She is learning the perimeter of the ‘civilized’ part of our yard. She associates the shop with my husband and dog biscuits, trying to drag me there on every walk. She is nipping less, reacting to “NO!” and the clapping of our hands. (Sometimes it seems that’s ALL we say. When we see this, we change the location or the activity or both.)

Our biggest problem at this point is Molly, our cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross. She misses Bambi and the quiet life she had BA (before Amber). She really doesn’t like the way Amber dives into her face, wanting to play. She is 12 and, though she was the playful one when we had Bambi, she has misplaced her “play” button for awhile. We concentrate on getting them together in a monitored situation and giving Molly lots of love, special perks, and attention.

I’m reading the new book I got yesterday, called, “Everything Labrador” or something similar, to find out what we’re supposed to be doing. I’m hoping they give us new insights into Amber, how we can train her well, and how to integrate her into the family as smoothly as possible.

Our day revolves around when Amber was out last, how long has it been since we had a play time, etc.

New puppies are a joy, AND definitely a character-building exercise.

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This is the way I’m feeling this morning. I slept fine, but our new regimen of getting up at 7:30 to take the new puppy out is taking some getting used to, since we stay up until about midnight. My husband is covered up with a throw, a towel over his eyes, snorking in his recliner, trying to rest now.

We’re making good progress with Amber, but she IS quite a handful. It’s basically non-stop all day until we put Amber in her crate for the night. My husband, who is now cleared for any and all activity from his cataract surgeries, is helping a LOT. We take her on walks 6 or 8 times per day, go out on the porch to play with her, go out to sit with her and hug her, feed her, clean up the porch….

We have had new puppies before, but it was quite a long time ago and the puppy wasn’t this large (I think about 20 lbs now) and not nearly this active. She has a gazillion things to chew on, but is a typical puppy with nothing holding her attention for long.

One thing that has REALLLLLLY helped us is the Carlson Pet Gate With People Door  from that our friend Cathy suggested. (I think of you, Cathy, with gratitude, 80 times a day when I can simply open the gate and go onto or off the porch, not having to scramble over the other gate we had, worrying about losing my balance and falling.)  Amber was already able to climb the gate and get over and would suddenly show up in the kitchen. If we put the gate up higher, she could slither under it, and it was all I could do to get over it. We were thinking of modifications to it, but now we don’t have to!

Amber is modifying her behavior for the better daily. She is a very active, exuberantly happy puppy who makes the Energizer Bunny look like a slug. Even with my husband and I trading off on ‘Amber Duty,’ we are pretty exhausted in this good cause.

We’re lucky that she wants to be with her people. It’s the least we can do to be there for her, teaching her how to act, what’s acceptable and what is not, making our interactions fun and interesting so that she will be able to spend the most time possible with us as she grows.

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Amber and the Tug O’ War Game

We’re trying to bring Amber into the house at least a couple of times each day. We have a gate across the doorway to our office to contain her, at least a bit. The first thing she did was find Molly, who was trying to sleep in her bed at my feet at my computer area. Molly wasn’t too pleased, as Amber kept coming back and trying to lick her and get her to play, but she only growled a bit and didn’t freak out.

Amber then found a tug of war toy beside the bed Bambi and Molly shared. She immediately picked it up and allowed my husband to take the other end. A rousing game of tug o’ war ensued, with Amber pulling, whipping her head, getting more and more into it. My husband would let her have it for a bit from time to time, but she would bring it back to him.


I think dogs instinctively know to use their weight as leverage. She already pulls hard!



Here she is, celebrating victory.

We’re definitely making progress on several fronts.

  • She likes her crate. She doesn’t protest when we put her to bed at night, closing and securing the door. She gets into the crate voluntarily when she wants to take a nap during the day.  She doesn’t want to mess up her crate, so she is learning to control things until we take her out in the morning. She hasn’t had an accident on the porch in a couple of days now.
  • She definitely reacts when we say her name. She is starting to “come” a bit. She is still on the leash, of course, but the leash is one that has the really long self-winding strong cord, so she can get about 15 feet away at times.
  • She is biting and nipping less. We’re making a point of going out to simply sit with her and cuddle several times a day, stroking her all over, touching her paws, her ears, under her chin, etc.
  • She is barking less. She has quite a piercing bark, so if she doesn’t stop within a minute, we close the door. We’re able to leave the door open more and more now.
  • She loves to chase a ball and bring it back.
  • She’s learning to ‘sit’ while we put her food bowl down.
  • She’s learning the words “off!” and ‘no!”
  • She knows that when we say “Good Girl!” she usually gets a treat.
  • She’s walking on the leash better now. We’re walking the perimeter of the ‘civilized’ part of our yard several times a day. She is eager to take a walk and takes an interest in lots she sees. She isn’t fighting the leash so much, and is tolerating the harness a bit better, though you would still think she has fleas when she stops to kick at it.

We think this is good progress from the 13th of May, when we adopted her. It’s a good thing she has a pretty good attitude and seems to want to please us, because she is supposed to be 80 lbs or so when fully grown. We want her to have good manners with us and with strangers and other animals long before then. We plan to take her with us places, meet other animals, etc., so we won’t have to worry that she won’t behave when it’s important.

I’m still waiting on the book “everything labrador” or something similar so I can find out what we’re SUPPOSED to be doing!




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