Category Archives: Amazing Animals

Worth Its Weight in Gold

My good friend Cathy wrote, telling me that she was worried about my trying to climb over the gate between the living room and the porch where our new puppy Amber is. She told me about a new style of gate that has a ‘people door!’ I had never heard of that, and after she helped me appreciate what I was seeing, I showed it to my husband, the installer of all things.

He was a bit worried because our door frames are steel, but he said we should go ahead and order it. It arrived today and we installed it within 10 minutes or less. My husband said, “You should tell this company they’re making a well thought out, well designed product.”

The product is from, a wonderful place that ships the product almost immediately. It’s astonishing how quickly things arrive. This is our third order from them, and I couldn’t recommend them more highly.


Carlson Pet Products Extra Wide Walk-Thru Gate with Pet Door

Carlson Extra Wide Gate with People Door and Pet Door

We didn’t need to use the two extensions that come with this gate. It installed quickly and easily with no tools required. It’s very sturdy. There is no place for Amber to hook her feet to climb over it. She can’t get under it. If she gets so she can climb over this 30″ tall gate, we can relocate it up a bit higher.

The very best part is the people door. We’ve fixed it so it opens OUT into the porch, so that Amber can’t open it by accident. When we go out there, she has to back up, and she isn’t quick enough to go between us and the door closing again. I’m really delighted. I don’t have to concentrate on standing on one foot, lifting the other foot over the gate (which Amber immediately latches onto), trying not to step on her as I put my foot down, then grabbing the door with one hand and bracing my other hand on the brick to the side of the door as I bring the 2nd leg up and over. It’s REALLY been fun when I had something in my hand…

THANK YOU, Cathy, for

  • worrying about me and figuring out a good solution
  • letting me know about it
  • writing back to point out the people door I didn’t see and appreciate the first time
  • your patience and caring

I can’t tell you how happy we are with you and the new gate. NOW – if we could get Amber to quit barking and whining….

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Poor Molly

Molly was 12 in February. She was the follower in lots of ways with Bambi, letting him take the lead, backing off when he wanted what was in the bowl, etc. As Bambi got older, though, she took the lead in some things.

We have a policy of letting one dog out at a time. This encourages our dogs to stay close, even though there is no fence and we are out in the sticks. When Molly and Bambi got out together, though, they formed a pack and were gone, sometimes for several hours, before coming back, tired and filthy, requiring baths.

Molly was the instigator in running off the last 6 months of Bambi’s life. I don’t think he would have gone off if she hadn’t enticed him. He would keep up with her, but then require a couple of days of good sleeping on his bed before he wanted to ‘escape’ with her again.

When we put him to sleep, Molly was totally disenfranchised. She wandered all over the house, looking for him, going from dog bed to dog bed, mournfully. She didn’t eat well and didn’t want to go out. It really hurt that we couldn’t explain what had happened to her cohort.


Now she is besieged by a HUGE rollicking puffball of energy, teeth, and enthusiasm whose greatest wish is to play with her – right in her face. You can see her say, “Oh, ____!” when we take her on the porch each day to socialize with Amber. She used to get under our chairs, obviously wanting us to protect her. Each day they go through a boisterous several minutes, and then settle down in different parts of the porch. Molly is learning to accept the new regime, grudgingly at best.

I think, once the baby calms down a bit, they might actually enjoy playing with one another. Molly is a happy girl, bringing joy to our family. She brightened up Bambi, who was much too serious about everything, and taught him to enjoy life. I’m hoping that Amber will now do the same for Molly.

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Adding My Husband to “Amber Duty”

Things happened quickly for us lately, with having to put our Sweet Pit Bull, Bambi to sleep, at almost 14 years of age, my husband having cataract surgery, and getting our rambunctious new yellow labrador retriever puppy, Amber. Due to my husband’s surgery, he wasn’t supposed to lift anything over 10 lbs or bend over for several days. Today he started doing light duty on taking care of Amber.

I have to admit I laughed out loud when he tried to feed her this morning. He filled her bowl, then started to put it down on the floor. Amber jumped up, right into his hand and there was an explosion of puppy food all over the porch. He yelled some bad words, and I, still laughing – because it had happened to me a week ago – got him to come in, telling him Amber’s second job was as a vacuum cleaner and she would clean up every bit of it.


He just spent quite a bit of time with her on the porch. He put her on the dog run while he put new weed whacker cords on the push whacker for me, then put her on the leash and walked around the house with her. She jumped into the kiddie pool when they went around the back. He came into the office, then suddenly said, “She just got over the gate.” I jumped up and, sure enough, she was in the living room, looking around. I hurried to grab her and put her – still dripping from the pool – back onto the porch and close the door.

Having a new puppy is good for your reflexes. We are all modifying our behavior to accommodate our new lifestyle. We now look at things as BA (before Amber) and AA. (after Amber).

We had gotten quite spoiled, for example, being able to get food for the dogs in the pantry, put their bowls down with both dogs sitting and waiting. At the “OK,” they would start eating. Are THOSE days gone! Molly still waits for an “OK,” but I now am filling Amber’s bowl, putting it on the table within reach, grabbing Amber’s harness and getting her to SIT for a split second while I put the bowl on the floor and quickly say, “OK!”  This has worked reasonably well a couple of times.

I had a really nice time with her this afternoon. I opened the door to check on her and found her asleep in her crate. I started to close the door, but she came out of the crate and wanted to talk. I picked her up and brought her to my chair in the living room. She was still sleepy, so I had a big, sweet, cuddly puppy for awhile. We both really enjoyed it.

I’m not sure how much progress we’re making, but Amber is definitely reacting to her name now. She can go up or down steps now. She walks well on the leash about half of the time. She is sleeping in her crate and not making a mess there. Most of the time she doesn’t make a mess on the porch now.

We’re getting lots of exercise with our walks around the yard. She still hates her harness, and a new baby gate with a people door is on the way…

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Who’s Teaching Whom?

We’re spending a LOT of time with Amber every day, and we’re working on a lot of things, but I begin to wonder who is teaching whom? We’ve modified our own behavior, trying to give her enough love and attention, training sessions, walks, food, water, and just plain sitting on the floor and hugging her.


Amber is complying with a lot of our commands, but I have the hands to show that we’re only successful part of the time so far. She seems happy, but I think we’re learning as much or more than she is. Our lives are revolving on HER schedule.


So far today, we’ve had three walks, food, water, play time with the ball, sitting out on the porch, meeting and getting swiped by, Smoke, the cat, and some quiet time (Ahhhhhhh!)  I have a new bruise on TOP of the old one, and have added one more bandaid…

So, is Amber the teacher and we’re learning to meet her needs – albeit slowly – to HER point of view?


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“We are Fam-i-ly”


I’m feeling rich in animals today. This is Abby, who is still trying to be invisible, or leaves the area whenever Amber is around.



This is Smoke, our recently adopted cat. She follows Amber and me around the house on our walks, stalking, baiting, then smacking Amber in the mouth if she gets close enough.  She is asleep on my daytimer and dog notes here.


Molly is TRYING to accept the new situation. Amber won’t leave her alone, always jumping up, trying to lick her in the face, trying to get her to play. We’re enforcing ‘together time’ on the porch at least once a day, with one of us out there to monitor. We’re making slow progress. We’re giving Molly lots of extra love and attention to help her with the transition. She sits with one of us in the evenings while we’re watching TV, watching a movie, or reading.


And this is Amber at 10 weeks. We adopted her last Saturday. She is definitely making progress, having had to leave the only animal and people family she had ever known and come to live with two new people, two hostile cats, and one hostile dog. She is adapting better and better each day. She makes the Energizer Bunny look like an old, feeble senior rabbit.

It was raining hard this morning when I went to get Amber out of her crate and take her for her first morning walk. She is starting to associate “HURRY UP” with taking care of business. Clutching the umbrella and holding it as close to me as possible because of gusty winds, we went to what we HOPE will become ‘her spot,’ and she did all that was required, receiving treats and “Good Girl!”s.

We got back onto the porch, where I dried her off with a towel and fed her, then squeegeed as much water off the floor as possible.

I decided that a laundry basket would be good as a toy box. I ended up putting it on its side, though, as she couldn’t get into it unless she pulled the laundry basket over. We’ll adapt as she grows.

We got a bin with a lid to sit on the table, holding all the ‘stuff’ we need out there, but keeping interesting stuff out of sight. She puts her paws on the table, trying to reach enticing things.  We now have everything in the closed bin on top of the table, accessible to US, but not to Amber.

Our days are long, comprised of long walks with Amber, playing with her, and trying to train her, giving our other animals the love and attention they need, and trying to get the have-to’s done otherwise before falling into bed.

We had our friend, Carla, over yesterday afternoon to meet Amber. She said that labrador retrievers were ‘puppies’ until they are two years old! I may not live long enough to get us through puppyhood if it’s going to be like this for that long. Carla also made a very good suggestion that we use the command, “OFF!” to mean for her to get paws off of us, the table, etc., rather than using “DOWN,” which would mean lying down on the floor. Carla and my brother-in-law, Bill, suggested that we make a point of touching her feet, her mouth, her ears, etc., a lot so that trimming toe nails, putting in ear medicine, and trips to the vet will go much more easily.

I’m hoping that all of our efforts each day will result in our animals at least learning to tolerate each other, if not being actual friends eventually.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for a sugar-free, low carb energy drink…


Filed under Amazing Animals, Family

Amber – Take 7

Amber is 10 weeks old now. Tomorrow it will be one week since she joined our family. And what a week it has been!

I feel like a member of “The Walking Dead,” between the needs of the new puppy and drops 4 times a day for my husband’s eyes, plus all the appointments, chores, errands, etc. This is definitely a character-building exercise!

Sweet Amber wants to be with her people. The attention we give her much of the day, with walks, playing with toys, introducing her to the other members of her animal family, swimming, etc., are never enough. She IS learning a ton, though. She is better in all areas.

We have a long way to go before she has manners and learns to behave, but she is smart and learns pretty fast. We are working with a stubborn streak…

She has been for three walks this morning and a swim so far. We’re about to add Molly to the porch for HER character-building exercise for the day.

I broke out in welts this morning,  and I suspect I’m allergic to something. I just took a dose of Benedryl and we’ll see if that performs miracles. My hand is better, but I’m sporting a really impressive bruise on the back of my hand. I added to the mix this morning, running into a small, sharp puppy tooth while she was giving me back the ball. Now I have a big bandaid on TOP of part of the bruise…

Amber is learning her name now, plus “NO!”, plus “COME” and “SIT!’  I should be teaching her ‘wait’ and ‘down,’ but it seems that “NO!” suffices for right now. I’m trying to get her to sit while I put her food bowl down. Today we had an explosion of food everywhere when I couldn’t hold her down with one hand while I put the bowl down with the other. Happily enough, she acted like a vacuum, getting every bit of food off the porch floor before looking for more. Since the edge was off, she cooperated more with the plan, sitting for at least one second before I let her dive into the bowl. :0)

We ordered a different style of harness, since she is still kicking at the one you see above. It won’t last long at this rate. The one we ordered has a chest piece of sturdy fabric, with adjustment straps at the neck and under the arms. Hopefully, she’ll be less aggravated with the new design.

So – you’ve seen my days now – comprised of rushing around like the proverbial chicken. Things will tame down in the taking-care-of-hubby department by the end of next week. The dog will take a bit longer…



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Vicarious Beach Vacation – Turtle Rescue

My sister-in-law has been spending the past week at a beach. She’s been kindly sending pics of sunrises and sunsets so I can enjoy her vacation vicariously.


This is a side trip to a turtle  preserve run by the work of volunteers!

This guy below is about ready to be reintroduced to nature.

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Smoke’s Retreat

Smoke came in meowing yesterday while I was working at the computer. After I petted her a bit, she walked off my lap onto the open drawer beside me. It has an old lap tray on it to provide more workspace for me. She laid down and breathed a huge sigh of relief.



It’ a good thing bank statements don’t need to be flat to be used….


Filed under Amazing Animals, Family

Amber – Take 6

You would think Amber were flea-infested, as she stops to scratch on our walks around the yard. Apparently, she is slow to adapt to new things, such as the harness. She’s scratching it so much that it’s starting to fray! We’ll probably need to get her another one in the same size at the rate she’s going. We already have two others in medium and one in large…

The first words she has learned to date are, “Good Girl!”  This is because I say that whenever I can catch her doing something right, and combine that with a treat from PetCo.  NOW I’ll have to get her to accept that she won’t get a treat EVERY time I say the magic words.

She had another good night. I got up early to take her out and then feed her. We’re trying to establish a routine she can appreciate.  She had a short time on the dog run. The stops are working. We had to shorten the string we attach to her harness because she is strong enough to pull the wire to get to the steps of the deck. Now I only have to worry about her getting out of the harness.

When she had been on it for 10 minutes and was QUIET, I went out and traded the run for the leash and we took a walk. We went around to the swimming pool. She went all the way around it, then jumped in. She actually laid down in it today, looking very happy, and then walked around again before jumping out. We had a nice walk, coming in through the garage where I could grab a towel and dry her off a bit. She’s on the porch now, and quieted down after about 5 minutes. HOORAY!


We got the plywood at Yeagers, cut it in half lengthwise, and screwed it to the uprights yesterday. This will protect the screens and she can still see out just fine. There is glass in the screen door and it latches well (when we remember to MAKE SURE it does), so things are pretty secure.


I removed all the extraneous ‘stuff’ from the porch and then mopped again.


Here is her crate, her DIY ‘toy box’ and her non-spill water bowl (hahahahahaha – unless she puts her paw in it and slides it as if it were a frisbee). You can also see the gate that separates the porch from the living room. We were inside fixing breakfast and all of a sudden she was in the kitchen with us! We moved the gate up again – I really get some GREAT exercise trying to get over it and not fall on my head.


We moved the chairs back up against the table which holds our doggie supplies.  This morning my husband and I shared coffee on the porch, invited our dog, Molly, in to socialize with Amber. Molly is still very upset at this undignified, playful, nipping hyperactive ball of energy. Amber really wants a rough-and-tumble play. She tries to get one of us to protect her, trying not to growl. We’re hoping that if we have a session like this every day, Molly will learn that the baby isn’t trying to hurt her.

New puppies – particularly large ones – aren’t for sissies or the faint of heart. I’m insisting that my husband takes HIS turns with her several times each day so that I can catch my breath! I really like her wish to ‘be with the people,’ but right now the intensity is a little much.

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Amber – Take 5

Our lives are pretty much revolving around Amber and the rest of our animals, plus my husband’s cataract surgery. Everything else we were doing has been pretty much put on hold for the near future.

We’re waiting for a Fedex delivery today, and then we hope to get to Yeager’s to buy some el-cheapo plywood. We plan to cut it in half lengthwise and screw it to the uprights on the inside of the porch about 6″ above the floor to protect the screens and still allow her to see out. We can then move the chairs back where they belong to keep her from pulling the table over…


We are serious about keeping chew-toys readily available for her. I’m thinking that the combination of her boisterousness, trying to ‘taste’ everything with sharp teeth, and trying to jump up (making contact with her sharp claws, is what causing the swelling and bruising on my hand yesterday. I’m treating several ‘holes’ and scratches on my hands, not counting the bruising, right now.  She is really sweet and wants to play and love you. I’m working on modifying the WAY she tries to get close to us.

I found a good article on the net yesterday that stresses 10 basic commands to teach her:

  • SIT
  • STAY
  • COME
  • DOWN
  • WAIT

I’m basically working on all these simultaneously, with a couple of sessions a day devoted to a more serious effort.  She’s making really good progress every day. Today is Day Three of no mess in the crate. She’s walking better on the leash, although she still finds her harness annoying. She comes readily down the stairs with me on the leash. I still have to encourage her to go UP the stairs, but once she gets started, she finishes them well. She isn’t crying when I put her on the run for a few minutes each day.

I put a water dish at the close end of the run, thinking she might like that. She did – but used it to play with the water, splashing half of it out before drinking a bit of it…

We got her in the kiddie pool for the first time yesterday. She walked all around, splashing a bit, and then jumped out. She did that two or three times before she decided she had had enough. I dried her off as well as possible and she seemed happy. She did it a bit later in the day while we were taking a walk around the yard. I think this may be one of her favorite things this coming summer.  I couldn’t get pics and hold onto the leash at the same time, so I’ll have to wait until my husband can hold the leash to get some.

We’re starting to establish a routine of sorts. I open the door to the porch, take her out for a walk, bring her back in and play with her until she starts getting distracted. Then I TRY to go back in the house leaving the gate up, but the door open. If she stays quiet, that’s good. If not, and she’s starts barking, I shut the door. She then decides to get into her crate and take a nap. We have about 6 or 8 sessions like this until bedtime.

My husband just came in, saying he checked on her. She was in the crate, on her back with her legs up in the air, snoring. I wish I could have gotten a pic to share, but another time will come.

I told you that we had them put a microchip in her. Yesterday we typed in the number on the medal the vet gave us into Google. The information I had given immediately popped up, with our names, address, phone numbers, so that we could hopefully get her back if she got lost. This is the first time we’ve done this, and it gives me some peace of mind.

I’m spending the day with my husband and new puppy both on a leash, restricting their activities.

Wish me luck?

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Amber – Take 4

I can’t tell you how happy I am with how well Amber is doing with her crate. She has spent two nights in it so far, and no accidents. She voluntarily goes in to take naps – proof above.  She doesn’t go in voluntarily at night, and reminds me of a cranky child who has stayed up past her bedtime but still fights going to sleep. She doesn’t like us to put her in and close the door, but we’re getting a routine going now.

We’ve discovered that if we shut the door to the porch when she is barking badly, she quits. Hooray!

She woke us up a little bit after 2am last night, barking. We weren’t sure what the problem was, but we decided to ignore her. We only got the barest amount of sleep last night anyway, and the barking stopped pretty quickly.

I got her outside a little bit after 5 am this morning, since we had to leave for my husband’s surgery. She’s getting much better about going up and down steps, though she has to be encouraged each time. She is still unhappy with the harness, scratching at it as though she has fleas, but I’m ignoring that.

She has a really good appetite, eating a cup of puppy food morning and evening. She is still playing frisbee with her non-spill water bowl, but she also drinks from it. My arm is still her favorite chew-toy, although I’m squirting her with water when she does it. Both hands and arms (mine) have little dings and red spots from our interaction.

We had more training on the dog run. The stops are working now, rather than her being able to get over them somehow. I think she is safe now, and that’s a really good thing, as active as she is.

I spent some time when we got home from the hospital walking her, playing ball and tugging on chew toys, etc. My steps during the day have increased to over 6,000 for the past three days, so hopefully this will be helpful in my efforts to get the lard off.

I have to REALLLLLLLLLY  concentrate when I’m walking her. She wants to run back and forth and tries to get me tangled up in the leash or when she’s on the run if she can reach me. A good session for both of us.

I’m hoping that it’ll be warm enough that I can see if she wants to swim this afternoon. If she does, I’ll try to snap a pic or two.

Each evening we try to bring her in the house to sit in someone’s lap, nuzzle, and talk. Last night it was Harvey’s turn. Amber sat with him almost the whole time we watched a rented movie! I think she’ll be a Daddy’s Girl….

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Amber – Take 3

Even – maybe ESPECIALLY – because we’re old, we had a good Day Three with Amber today. (A HUGE example, even though she’s barking a bit off and on right now, is that we ALL took a short nap this afternoon.

I was up really early for me today. By the time I had hauled on some clothes and come downstairs, I heard Amber barking. This was the first night she had been in her crate.  I had mentally prepared myself for a real mess, so I would have to learn how to get the tray out of the crate, hose it, and the mat, off, and then throw the mat into the washer after walking Amber.

What I discovered, was that the crate was clean!  I put on her leash and got her right outside, having to fight with the steps she hates for a bit. Then she walked right down, as if she’d been doing this for a long time, and then did everything a dog should do on our walk around the house.  I have to really pay attention because she wants to change sides and tries to wrap herself around my legs as we walk. I realize this is a process, but it would be good if I don’t fall on my head while I’m trying to give her a nice walk.

I brought her back in and fed her. She dived into her food bowl, ate every bit, and then looked at me with her big brown eyes. I gave her a bit more, which she took care of, but more slowly.


I called the vet to ask when a good time would be for us to bring Amber for a puppy check and a microchip. We were there at 10:00. She amazed us by not barking and not being upset at being at the vet. He checked her all over, pronouncing her very healthy. We made an appointment for her next shots in two weeks, and found out that we should have her spayed at 5 months. She weighs 18 lbs at 9 weeks. She was really good, allowing him to check her all over, open her mouth, put in the microchip, etc. without a peep.  She seems to enjoy riding in the car and wasn’t sick either going, or coming home.

We left her on the porch and set out again to do LOTS of errands, since my husband has his 2nd cataract surgery at 0-dark-thirty tomorrow morning.

We modified the dog run when we got home, putting in better stops for each end. Since spraying her with a water bottle usually results in her trying to catch the spray in her mouth – plus she still tends to step into the non-spill water bowl and then send it skidding across the floor a bit, we got her a kiddie pool today. I filled it less than half full and if the weather is pleasant tomorrow and the water has heated up enough, we’ll see if she likes to swim.

Meanwhile, we brought out the soft green weird toy you can see in the pics above. She LOVES it! She chews on it, shakes it, trying to break its neck, and had a delighted look on her face when one of her chews resulted in a squeak from it.

She still really doesn’t like the harness we got for her, but it’s a great way to control her on the leash at least a LITTLE bit, and the vet agreed she would get used to it soon.

She seems to be making a bit more sense of her new life today and is liking it, for the most part. I found her in her crate lying there happily. She is learning that even though she’s on the porch, she meets with Molly every day, for as long as Molly can stand, she sees neat stuff outside the porch, and that we come by on a regular basis to take her out for a walk, bring her food and toys, and sit and play with her.

We’re very happy with her progress. We are exhausted each night after tending to the puppy (and our other animals and chores) all day. She let me sleep until almost 7 this morning. And I REALLY feel better right now after we all had our naps….

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Amber – Take 2

We made two trips to PetCo in Fort Smith today. The first time we THOUGHT we had a crate, but it turned out to be a “Dog Barn” with an open front, which would negate the idea of crate training, which starts tonight….  You can see Sweet Amber lying down BESIDE the crate. This is the only time she was quiet and still today.



This is a regular rubber welcome mat. Amber likes it.


I barracaded the porch screens, trying to protect them from Amber. So far, it has worked!  I tried to sweep the porch. Amber thought it was a LOVELY game, and proceeded to jump on the end of the broom and then chew it. I finally put her on the deck on the leash out there while I finished sweeping, and then mopping the floor.


This is part of the barracade to protect the screens.

The barracade continues.


I taped down a wee pad over a spot where she had peed earlier. She decided to try to chew on the pad. I squirted her with a water bottle and she finally quit. I don’t know if this will last or not, but it’s worth a try. The trash can is a combination toy and hidey-hole for Amber. Sometimes she rolls it around and other times she climbs into it. THEN she peed between the trash can and the wall….

I mopped things up again and then tried to get some pics with Amber playing with some of her toys. She LOVES to chew. Our other dogs weren’t really ‘playing dogs,’ so we have a bunch of different toys to hopefully entice her to chew on THEM rather than the tabs on the back of my shoes, the edges of my jeans,  or whatever else she can find.

Yesterday we started getting serious about dog-proofing the porch and the tiled area in the house, where we put up a gate. It’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ we have down where she can get into it, dump it over on the floor or on herself, or get hurt with it. We also have stuff hanging from hooks that she would LOVE to pull down….

Today’s project (other than buying a bunch of stuff at PetCo) was to make a dog run. We now have a 100+ foot dog run where we can clip her onto it and she can run from one end of it to the other and back again, not getting hurt or getting into anything. I’ll try to get pics of her on the run tomorrow.


This is Amber after she took the non-spill water bowl, stuck a foot in it, and tried to slide it across the floor, over and over. Obviously not non-spill, she spread water all over the floor I just mopped, ran out of water, and pooped herself out. POOR Baby! You can see the harness we got. She doesn’t like it much, and keeps stopping and kicking at herself like she had fleas, trying to get it off. I think in another day or so she won’t notice she has it on.


This is Amber on the long leash we have hanging from the dining area window onto the deck. We have it pretty short right now so she won’t get tangled up in the chairs on the deck.  Now she can be on the deck with us, or on the run when outside, if she’s not on the leash taking a walk around the house, out to the shop and the garden, etc. with me. So far, she really doesn’t want to go up or down steps, but with a lot of ‘encouragement,’ she does it.

Smoke whapped her in the face twice in succession. Abby hissed and wanted to go back outside. Molly spent some time with her on the porch. When she came in, she went straight to her bed for a nap.

I understand exactly how she feels.

We got a barking deterrent for Amber, since she goes pretty much nonstop. Her barking is loud, too, grating on our nerves. We didn’t want to spend a fortune, and we didn’t like the idea of shocking her, so we got what my husband has labeled, “The popeil bark discourager.” Do you remember all the products by the Popeil Company? I don’t thing ANYTHING they made actually did what they said it would do….

Anyway, you put the battery in it and locate it anywhere within 25 feet of the dog. When the dog barks, a red light goes on. At that time, it’s supposed to make a high-pitched sound only heard by animals. It’s supposed to be a sound animals don’t like, so they stop barking. Maybe Amber is intelligence-challenged, or isn’t making the connection between her barking and the sound supposedly coming from the discourager, but it isn’t working yet…

We’re all making lots of adjustments in learning to live together. She’s definitely making the days fly by for us, and helping us to heal the hole in our hearts left by Bambi.

Tomorrow – 1st trip to the vet!



Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges, Changes, Family

Meet Amber

Amber is a 9 week old female yellow labrador retriever. We just got home a few minutes ago from our road trip. She weighs about 15 lbs or so at this point. She can get to be 60 lbs or so when fully grown. Her legs and feet seem really big for the rest of her, indicating she’ll be a large dog.


She was wonderful the whole almost two hour trip home. She didn’t get sick or make a mess of any kind. She dozed off, then woke up and snuggled me, over and over throughout the trip. She seems to like the puppy food we got her, though she wasn’t really hungry. She’s never been on a leash, and so straightens her legs and tries to back up. We got two harnesses, but both were too large. We’ll get the small size on Monday when we’re in Fort Smith again.

Monday we’ll also have a wellness check at our vets and he can tell us when the next series of shots are due, when we should have her spayed, etc.

Amber has already met Molly, though Molly was less than welcoming. She now seems to be avoiding everyone, although she’s at my feet in her bed as I type. Amber is behind the gate on the back porch. She wanted company, so my husband is reading a magazine out there now. I took a toy, hoping that that will give her something to concentrate on for awhile.

Amber also met Abby, our tortoiseshell cat. Both froze in place. Then Abby walked past her in a very dignified fashion. Smoke, our charcoal gray cat looked at her, hit her in the nose with a paw, and then gave her a wide berth. Amber didn’t even react to the paw in the face.

She has a loud bark, but so far, gives it up after a bit. She’s also a bit bite-y, now that she’s more awake, but we’ll encourage her to stop that.  She’s a good snuggler and wakes her tail readily. She seems like a happy dog. We hope that this is the beginning of a wonderful sharing of another dog life. We’ll have to do a lot of work to teach her how to behave, etc., but I think she’ll definitely be worth it.  Most of all, as we reach out, trying to meet her needs,  she’ll help us heal.


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Quiet Friends


Filed under Amazing Animals, Family


We just got home from the vet, having Sweet Bambi euthanized. He would have been 14 years old next month, so he had a good, long life. We referred to him as ‘the vicious pit bull,’ but he was one of the sweetest dogs we’ve ever known, getting along with Molly, our schnauzer/cocker spaniel cross; Abby, our fat cat we adopted from a newspaper ad years ago; and Smoke, our newest adoptee that we got from the vet. All three routinely insulted him by taking possession of one of the dog beds and daring him to try to share it.


At his peak, he was 95 lbs. He loved to go outside and explore on our 8 acres of land. He pranced, holding his tail up and wagging it like a metronome. My husband taught him to get his dish, and then to get Molly’s dish – putting each into my husband’s hand. Bambi and Molly sat together in the pantry after the food was put down, waiting for the “OK” signal to eat.


My husband said, “He gave no quarter, nor asked for it,” resulting in several trips to the vet for repair. He would flip his head, flapping his ears so hard that you could HEAR the crack of it. He burst a blood vessel in one that swelled up, requiring surgery. He then did it to the other ear.

I don’t know if it was this month of the ears repair, or another time when he was attacked by ‘whatever’ and we had to run him to the vet for emergency help, that he was declared ‘Patient of the Month.’


I’m very grateful that we have kind, caring vets (Dr. Singer and Dr. Martin) to give our pets whatever they need. Putting an animal to sleep is a very hard thing, but everyone made the procedure as bearable as possible.  The vet tech, Alisha, who helped Bambi when he had his emergency visit helping to control his bleeding until the vet arrived, was there today, right by Bambi’s side, holding his hand. Both she, and the vet, Dr. Martin, hugged me.

Bambi is now playing in Doggie Heaven. I hope he’s found our other pets who have gone before him. And I hope they all have enough room on the bed to rest together.



Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges, Changes, Family

Sleek Molly

We took Molly to be sheared like a sheep this morning. She’s a schnauzer/cocker spaniel cross and is naturally VERY fuzzy, with THICK hair.

We live on a ridge line on a wooded piece of land. This time of year, Molly runs out to greet the day, full of enthusiasm, barking as if to say, “Look out world! Here I come!!!” She returns a few minutes later with her whole snout, mustache, and beard black, having stuck her nose into someone else’s business. She also has her entire face and head full of burrs. I spent half an hour or so, carefully combing out the burrs, then washing her face and hands (which are also black from digging to get into someone else’s business), and then she wants to go out again…

I explained to the vet’s assistants what our lives are like, asking them to stress to the new groomer Matt (who’s quite a hunk, BTW) that the cute eyebrows, mustache and beard of last time would have to go.

He did a beautiful job. Now I have a CHANCE to undo the damage shes does when she dashes outside to do her worst.

I THOUGHT, when we got Molly, that she would be a sweet, feminine, lap dog. Well, I did get the sweet and the lap dog, but you should never underestimate her ego. She’s a dog’s dog – full of life, not afraid to confront – at least by barking – anything in her territory.

Now I can be sure she’s free of ticks, fleas, and can comb out the burrs pretty quickly. She still hates to get her face and hands washed.

Sleek Molly.

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Books and Cats

Life with Cats via Cathy Ruggiero

I’m trying to keep an eye on my husband, since he keeps trying to do his normal activities right after cataract surgery this morning. One of the things he’s doing is reading and working on the computer – after taking off the eye protection he’s supposed to wear until tomorrow.

I’m quietly moving with him, to the office and then to the living room.

One of the enjoyable things I’m doing today is enjoying Book # 10 (of 45) of the Nora Roberts “In Death” series. I love the strong female detective, her husband Roarke, her partner Peabody, and all the other characters who move with her from one crime to the next. I feel now as if I know them. I care what happens to them. I still haven’t been able to figure out who the ‘bad guy’ is in any of the books.

As I read, one of our two cats is in my lap, rubbing up against the book, wanting attention.

I love being able to spend time this way.

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Reading is FUNdamental

Honey Badgers are Amazing!

My husband emailed me this video of honey badgers. I’m still having trouble believing it. :0)


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Hummingbird Bird Bath Table – Take 1

National Geographic Kids

We’ve had a productive afternoon. I saw a wonderful video on Facebook that showed a tray made into a hummingbird birdbath. My husband asked, “Do you want to make one?” DUH. :0)

The catch was that he wouldn’t pay attention to the picture I showed him, OR the supply list, OR the directions. Other than that, we were on the same page.

We stopped at Tractor Supply to see if they had the tray. What we found were some rubber heavy-duty oblong tubs. My husband said that that would do, but I was confused. I knew there was a tub that acted as a collector so the water could be recycled by a pump, but he said the TUB would be the bird bath. I gave up and just helped find a pump.

We talked about where to put the bird bath. It would need a water supply and electricity, plus we wanted to be able to see it from at least two places. We ended up deciding to attach it to the deck railings close to the back porch. We MIGHT be able to use an extension cord and plug it into an existing electrical outlet, or it won’t be a huge job to run another line. We also have close access to water. We can see it when sitting either on the porch or the deck, and can see it if we’re standing at the dining area window.

We used wood and angle iron we had in the shop to make a support table for the hummingbird bird bath. Our biggest problem was getting it level, since the deck railing isn’t.



We cut and welded angle iron to attach to the ends of the wood and the strong part of the deck. We cut up a good board we had in the shop to create the ‘table.’ We had to use shims to level things up, since the railing angles down toward the house.


Here you can see the wood attached to the deck railing and the angle iron going down to the floor support of the deck. We painted the angle iron with truck bed paint to keep it from rusting.



Here’s a side view of the ‘table’ and the angle iron supports.


I stood on the ground looking at the deck to get this picture.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we’ll tackle the next part of the project – providing electricity to the pump, running hoses, figuring out a receptacle to catch the water in the recycling process, cutting the pipe and drilling it with holes to provide the constant streams of water that act kind of like a sprinkler for the birds to play and bathe in, etc.

Since the tub is deep, I’ll need to find TALL stuff to go into it, to make places for the birds to sit. I’ll look for some greenery and other stuff to add. There is enough space on the railing on either side to maybe have small pots of flowers that might attract the birds.

A LOT of details to figure out and a good amount of work left to do, but I love this idea, even though ours won’t look like the picture. I’ll take pics when we make more progress.

Here is the idea we’re trying to emulate –




Filed under Amazing Animals

Fun with my Fish

When I change the water in my fish, Sally’s, bowl, I like to change the decoration. I was tired of the ones I’ve been using, and so was looking around to see if I had anything else that would brighten Sally’s life.


I have two soap dishes that I love. One is a man in a tub and the other, a woman. I have the man beside the kitchen sink. I had the woman upstairs beside my sink in the master bath. I brought it down, cleaned it up and put it into the fish bowl.




Sally has been swimming around, sniffing at her new digs. I think she likes having a mermaid in her bowl.

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Bright Ideas, Changes


We have a woodpecker family in our back yard. We see them running up the power pole in the back, stopping to survey their domain when they get to the top.  We’ve had a larger one and a smaller one around the deck in the past. Today when I was passing the window, I saw two large ones. I’m assuming it was the mother and the father, but I’m not sure. One stood on the top of the feeder and the other was on the end. You can see one of the woodpeckers here. I went to get my camera, but I only had one woodpecker when I came back.



I think these are beautiful.


Here you can see his nice long beak a bit better.



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Filed under Amazing Animals, Arkansas, Greenwood, Mother Nature

A Beautiful Drawing

My friend, Madeleine Jacobs posted a drawing she did recently. I’m in awe of her talent.

Drawing by Madeleine Jacobs

Drawing by Madeleine Jacobs

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Creativity


This is Abby

This is Abby


And this is Smoke

And this is Smoke

Abby puts up with Smoke grudgingly. And sometimes, not at all, hissing and spitting and wanting on the opposite side of the door from her. “Compatibility” is NOT their thing.

As I was typing this afternoon, I noticed an amazing thing!



Smoke and Abby were in the bed at my feet under the counter NOT fighting!  I took a picture quickly because this is such a rare event.

Miracles DO occur!


Filed under Amazing Animals, Family

Happy Sunday Morning!


Grin - Pinterest

Grin – Pinterest

I love Photoshop. I don’t know how to use it, but I appreciate the people who are clever enough to create photos like this.  (I tried to make out the watermark on this one, but can see only about half of it. )

It’s 61 degrees here and sunshine-y today. I have many things on my to-do list today. I’m thinking of doing the ‘have-to’s’ and then giving myself some time up in my art room today.


It’s now about two hours later than when I started this post.  We’ve now eaten breakfast, done basic chores, grocery shopped, and now have a spaghetti squash in the oven.  (I’m saving the seeds, hoping that I can plant some for the garden.)

I truly cannot believe it’s February. It’s still sunny, and now is 69 degrees F. We have the front and back doors open, plus the window open in the office, so we can bring the outside in.

Do something fun today!


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Filed under Amazing Animals, Attitude

Speeding through the Day

"Gone with the wind fabulous" - Johnathan Cruz

“Gone with the wind fabulous” – Johnathan Cruz

This is the way my day has felt.

On the good side, I’ve gotten a lot of little fiddly things off my to-do-list, like giving our dog, Molly, a session with the defurminator so she will leave fewer big tufts of hair all over the place. (Abby, the cat, is next.)

I’ve cut up veggies to munch and to cook for next week. I’m cleaning out the fridges in preparation for making a grocery list for tomorrow. I’ve made puddings and other stuff, running the dishwasher twice so far today.

And so it goes, the little things that we need to do to make our lives go more smoothly.

It was a good day to do this stuff. It wasn’t supposed to rain but it did, giving me a good chance to do inside stuff. We opted not to go to town, freeing up more time. The only sad thing is that my energy has never been a good match for my to-do list.

My husband is out working busily in the shop while my energy reaches its ebb. I think I’ll have a cup of coffee and put my feet up to see if I get another surge of energy.

I hope you’re having a really nice day.

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Awe-Inspiring Photography, Challenges, Favorite Things


"Ducks" - Paul Militaru Photography

“Ducks” – Paul Militaru Photography

I wish this gorgeous photo had sound. I can ALMOST hear the ducks…

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Paul Militaru Photography

Friends and Rabbits



One of our good friends was having trouble with her computer yesterday. She called to see if my husband might be able to revive it. We spent most of the afternoon there. My job  was to keep everyone away from where my husband was trying to work so he could concentrate. He finally got her computer going after running virus scans and a Windows repair disk on it., plus some other stuff.  There is more work to be done, but the basics have her able to use it again.

She recently got a rabbit hutch and a rabbit! I didn’t take any pictures yesterday, but the one above looks much like the one she bought. She has an outside hutch and an inside cage now. She had a big plastic plate of colorful salad stuff and veggies for him. He had the run of her house (with her watching him carefully). He’s basically litter trained, but he tends to chew on cords or the edge of her rug, so she has to watch him carefully. He comes to her and allows people to pet him. It’s great fun to watch him.



National Geographic

Her neighbors found a wounded wild baby rabbit recently and brought it to our friend. His nose was skinned and his hip was hurt. She didn’t think he would live, but he’s thriving so far. She allows him a bit of freedom, too, and he seems to love it. He lives in her bathroom at night.

The biggest surprise is that the rabbits get along with her other pets: a dog and two cats. She is careful not to let ‘the baby’ come in contact unsupervised with the cats yet, but the dog lies down between the rabbits, and the larger rabbit gets along fine with the cats.  The rabbits try to get on top of the dog. She is very patient, only snapping a bit when one goes too far. The rabbits get the message – at least for a while – and aren’t upset by the dog trying to set limits.

Our friend lost her husband about a year ago now. The animals give her lots of company, plus she is busy trying to take good care of them. And when her grandson comes to visit – which is often – she sure has a full, happy house!

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Friendship

Stunning Photograph

Thanks to Ed Steer Gold and

Thanks to Ed Steer Gold and


Filed under Amazing Animals, Awe-Inspiring Photography

“Mona, When She was a Baby”

"Mona, When She Was a Baby" - Paul Militaru Photography

“Mona – When She Was a Baby” – Paul Militaru Photography

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Paul Militaru Photography

Los Angeles Zoo Signs – Take 7

Obvious Plant via Evie Zimmerman,

Obvious Plant via Evie Zimmerman,

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Grin for the Day