Tag Archives: family
Amber is getting sneakier as she ages.
Her newest “trick” is getting into the trash. This is not your “dump the trash can over and strew it all over the place” type trick. It’s much sneakier. She KNOWS she is not supposed to get into the trash. When we feed Amber and Molly in the mornings, we have Molly on one side of the gate that is in the doorway between the dining area and the living room and Amber on the other, or Amber will sneak by us as we’re fixing breakfast and eat Molly’s food after wolfing down her own.
While we’re distracted, she quietly goes to the trash can beside my living room chair, takes ONE piece of trash out and distributes it in several pieces. She doesn’t dump the trash can. She takes one and ONLY one piece out each morning. She never gets into the trash at any other time of the day – just in the morning. It’s as if she’s taunting us.
If I remember to dump MY trash into the can beside my HUSBAND’S chair, we’re okay. If I forget, the one piece of trash is on the floor when we finish breakfast and are on our way to the office.
We let her in to the dining area as soon as Molly finishes eating. She and Molly like to sit down on the floor beside the dining area table, hoping for a bite or a plate to lick. She knows she’ll be fed – and a good amount. She knows she’ll get a bit extra from our breakfast. She knows she’ll get clobbered if she gets into the trash. The taunt continues….
This is Amber, our 16-month-old, 92 pound (the last time we took her to the vet to weigh her on his scales) yellow Labrador Retriever ‘puppy.’ So far, all we’ve heard about labs being very puppy-ish through two years is true. Amber likes to try to scrunch herself up so that she can sleep in Molly’s bed here in the office. (There is a larger bed just on the other side of my desk – complete with chew toys – but she and Molly like this one best.)
For comparison, here is Molly (our elderly cocker spaniel/schnauzer cross) sleeping in the same bed as I type. (Amber went out to play in the rain.) As you can see, this bed gives Molly a good bit of spread-out-room.
Our latest battle of wills involves Amber going in and out. When the door opens in either direction, Amber is like a bull charging at a red target. She runs right over Molly or the cats, plus us, if we’re not careful. We’re trying to get Amber to sit and wait until we say, “OKAY” before she goes in or out. This is a real test of wills. We have to start getting her to sit before we even touch the door, then keep watching and making her sit until the door is open. If we’re successful, she sits until we say ‘okay’ and everyone lives through the action. Otherwise, not so much.
We WILL prevail, but it may take awhile…
Smoke apparently was up much of the night catting around. She isn’t saying much, but plopped herself down on my calendar this morning and seems not inclined to be particularly sociable until further notice.
She just allowed me to pet her. We have two cats, Smoke and Abby, neither of whom purr worth spit. They seem really happy and spend a lot of time either beside us, being companionable, or sitting on us when they get the chance, often for hours if we’ll allow.
We adopted Smoke from our vet’s office. She was in a cage with some others when we brought one of the doggies in. I went over to the cage and she came right up, rubbing up against my hand and much as she could with the cage between us. My heart melted, but we already had a cat, plus two dogs, and really didn’t need another cat. That night I dreamed of her and named her Smoke in my dream. I told my husband. Being a ‘keeper’ as far as husbands are concerned, he agreed that we did, indeed, have room for another.
This is Abby. We adopted her through a newspaper ad, describing her as a ‘lap kitty.’ It actually took us a day and a half of trying to calm her down in one of our bathrooms before she warmed up to us. In the end, the ad was more than correct. She is now fat, sassy, and a wonderful cat. Smoke is the head cat, though, even though she was adopted second. Abby defers to her in all things.
This is Amber. She is 16 months old now, weighing 92 pounds at last weigh-in at the vet’s. Words to describe her include, “energetic, sweet, exuberant, loving, boisterous, cute, unrelenting, playful, and ‘watch out!'”
Each morning I come down the stairs half asleep. My husband usually makes it downstairs before I do, letting doggies out and starting to feed animals. Sometimes Amber greets me at the bottom of the stairs. Other times in the living room, or the kitchen. I’ve learned to ‘brace for impact’ as we TRY to teach her not to dive-bomb us.
This morning she caught me as I was going to my recliner to retrieve the shoes and socks I had left there last night. She caught me from the side, causing me to almost fall onto the couch while I was trying to sit down in my chair. I took some time to love her, rubbing her all over and cooing to her, trying to get her to calm down. She’s like a volcanic eruption, though. It’s hard to contain all that love and enthusiasm. (I held my feet up off the floor while greeting her, having learned the hard way that allowing her to step on my toes results in soreness and bruises.)
I got her calmed down, only to have to start over when I tried to stand up. She finally heard, “SIT!” and complied – just long enough for me to get completely up and around the chair. She circled around, over and over, tail wagging madly, as I made my way carefully to the kitchen. I finally got through one of the dog gates and closed it between us.
I AM smarter than this dog – I THINK.
We WILL get her to SIT and STAY one of these days ‘real soon now….’
Amber took advantage in the rain let-up for a minute to take a swim in her clean kiddie pool, thanks to my scrubbing it out yesterday and refilling it. She is now wet and happily sprawled out in the foyer, taking a nap. I took some pics last night that I wanted to share. She has taken to sleeping upside down, back legs sprawled, half-on and half-off her bed n the evenings while we watch TV or a movie.
She won’t let you come up to her, no matter how soundly she seems to be asleep. I even had to turn on the camera in the office and get the flash ready before I came out to the living room to get these pics, but she will stay like this for a LONG time, very comfortably sleeping.
She has such a hard life. Don’t you feel sorry for her?
We got a new food and water bowl set up, and then put a tray under it, trying to get Amber to give up her ‘play-in-the-water-dish’ game. So far, it has worked pretty well. Having the water bowl up in the air seems to take it out of the toy category. Fingers are crossed that this continues. Meanwhile, Smoke decided this morning that this was a grand new place to sleep! She even stayed there as Amber stuck her head down through the hole where her food dish goes to check Smoke out.
I would think that having Amber slurping water right over her head would be disconcerting, but Smoke didn’t seem to be bothered at all.
Maybe this allows Smoke to be trampled by the ‘playing-dog-fight’ between Amber and Molly t one less time during the day.
As I walked to the office after taking these pictures, Smoke followed me and is now asleep on the shelves beside me, on top of my calendar and to-do list…
I really like my fish. They don’t do tricks. They don’t say anything. They’re even quite a lot of work, since I’ve been having trouble coming up with a filtering system that was the right size to fit nicely in my aquarium and do the job it’s supposed to do. I enjoy speaking to them, especially when I feed them twice a day. The four fish all get in the upper corner on the right side when they see I’m ready to feed them. They wriggle like crazy and I swear they smile as they anticipate the fish flakes coming into the water.
That said, I bought a different design filter today. This is for aquariums from 5 to 15 gallons, so I’m at the extreme low-end of the scale. I took EVERYTHING out today, including all the gravel. I completely drained the water, washed the inside of the glass, scrubbed everything that went back in and then filled the tank again with the treated water I fix for them so that my tap water doesn’t bother them. (I have 4 gallon jugs of treated water that is room temperature.) I put in the new filter pump with a new filter cartridge.
The newly cleaned tank has been running for about an hour now and is looking pretty good. The fish seem happy, and were even trying to convince me that it was time to feed them – gathering in the corner, wriggling, and smiling.
I don’t mind changing the filter cartridge more than once a month, but I don’t like having to change it every three DAYS as I was before, and it wasn’t even keeping the water clear! FINGERS CROSSED that what I did today results in the water staying clear for longer.
We got a kiddie pool for Amber last year. She was a cute MUCH SMALLER puppy last summer and was a little intimidated by the water. We finally got her to walk around and drink some of the water, but she didn’t want to actually swim in it much.
Now, since the weather is so beastly hot already here – and it’s not even officially summer yet – I let Amber out and she comes back sopping wet. She heads for the pool immediately, leaps in, walks around, drinks some of the water, then lies down in the middle, saying, “Ahhhhhh!” She may do this several times while she’s out. Then she barks at the door, wanting to come in. She’s 93 pounds of bull-in-a-china-shop wet puppy – and exuberant in her (1) wish for a cookie for barking when she wants to come in, and (2) wish to snuggle with her people.
I now keep dog towels at the front door and at the garage door so that I can at LEAST keep her from dripping all over everything. I’ll make this a routine until our weather cools off – hopefully in October – scrubbing out and refilling the pool every 3 days or so. She LOVES her kiddie pool now. She really doesn’t understand why we don’t care to snuggle with her until she dries off….
My dad had a great sense of humor and shared it generously. The humor came in many forms: wonderful stories, jokes, looks, puns, and funny actions. He made us all laugh, even at times when we felt like crying. To him, making people laugh started out as a way to be accepted at school. This was a HUGE thing because one arm was shorter than the other, his left hand almost completely useless – an easy thing for unkind kids to use to bully and belittle him. The fact that he made everyone laugh and forget he might have had an extra challenge gained him acceptance.
He used his wonderful sense of humor to create a one-man advertising agency in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He and my mom celebrated when he finally gained enough clients that they were able to pay the bills more easily. He put my brother and me through college with his talent, finally winning a Silver Addy Award for Lifetime Achievement in Tulsa. The radio stations still play his commercials from time to time to honor his memory. (This happened the first time when my husband and I were visiting my mom and his parents, who lived on the next street. We were in Dillards Department store. All of a sudden I heard my dad’s voice! I dropped to my knees in the middle of the store. One of the clerks rushed over to help me. When I told her what was ‘wrong,’ she explained to me that the radio stations do that every year to honor my dad, since his commercials were so distinctive and funny. )
He taught me to stand back and look at situations as if I were looking at a movie. This allowed me to see the humor in many situations, allowing me to laugh, rather than get hurt or angry. I thank him often for teaching me this.
I miss him, of course, and get weepy at times, but I FEEL him looking down at me – usually when I’m trying something for the first time or sticking my neck out in some way. I can FEEL him smiling at me, urging me on. It lights me up from the inside, filling me and giving me strength.
On his last day, he scribbled on a piece of paper, “Remember me laughing.” And I DO. I cherish memories of him telling a story, laughing so hard at times – unable to go on for several seconds – being able to SEE the situation. The helpless laughter is what I remember most. I’ve forgotten a lot of the stories, but I’ll never forget his joy in telling them.
(One of his favorite stories was about going camping with his friends. If you knew them, this was already funny because neither my dad, nor any of his friends, were outdoor people. He described a laborious afternoon after they figured out where they would camp for the night. One guy decided to dig a hole in the ground because he slept on his back and wanted to be comfortable in his sleeping bag. He would dig a bit, ‘try-the-hole-for-fit’ and dig a bit more until it was perfect. The rest of the guys decided that seemed like a great idea, so they, too, dug holes for their butts. At dark, they got ready for bed. One of the guys was suddenly cursing. They turned on their flashlights to find out what the problem was. It turned out the guy was trying to brush his teeth – mistaking the “Unguentine” for toothpaste!
They got into their sleeping bags, still laughing, and suddenly the guy was cursing again. They turned on their flashlights to see him moving his sleeping bag to another spot. He angrily told them, “I sleep on my stomach!” )
I’m smiling now as I type this, easily picturing my dad trying to tell us this story, laughing his rear end off. I’m so lucky to have known and loved him.
One of the many challenges we’ve had with our SWEET 15-month-old, 93-pound Yellow Labrador Retriever PUPPY, Amber, is that to say ‘she is a water dog’ is one of the biggest understatements out there. When I scrubbed out her kiddie pool a couple of days ago and was refilling it, she wouldn’t even wait for the water to start filling the pool before she was in and out, barking at the spray head on the hose and playing in the water.
This love of playing in the water translates INSIDE, as well, to our aggravation. We try to have water bowls readily available inside and outside for our dogs and cats. Everyone ELSE just goes over and quietly drinks from the large plastic bowl we had. Since Amber delights in putting a paw or two in the bowl and happily spreading the water all over the floor, we switched from the plastic bowl to a large untippable stainless steel bowl. She doesn’t dump it, but manages to splash the water everywhere on a regular basis.
Today we got a new set up we ordered, hoping to solve the problem. This is a food and water bowls combo. The bowls fit into the table-like top, and the top fits onto legs. The table and legs are made of heavy-duty plastic. Since we know our dog well, we found a stud in the wall and screwed the whole thing into the stud. This is a super-sturdy set-up.
We tested it with Molly, our 25-pound, elderly Cocker Spaniel/Schnauzer cross, to make sure she can reach the water. She doesn’t like it much yet, but she is able to reach the water and drink.
Amber looked at it, wagged her tail, and went to do other dogly things.
I just checked, and there was water on the floor. So Amber went back sneakily – when we were otherwise occupied – and managed to splash water out. There is still some water for thirsty dogs and cats to drink, however, and the assembly is still in one piece, still firmly anchored. So we’ve made the problem a bit better, but now need to look for something to go under this to catch as much of the water as possible…
You can’t choose your family, but if we could, we would have chosen John Dennis in a minute. John was my husband’s cousin, but he was much, much more than that. He was our good FRIEND. He and my husband exchanged letters – yes – real letters that came in the mailbox. We would see his return address on an envelope, drop everything, sit down, and I would read it aloud, always laughing at some point, if not more. My husband would then sit down at the computer and compose a letter in reply. He asked me to check it for grammar, paragraphs and spelling, because John was a history professor and my husband didn’t want to make any more mistakes than necessary. We would print the letter and send it off, already anticipating when we would hear from him again.
He was smart in other ways, too, marrying his wife, Murray – our cousin-in-law (I think), but again, much more importantly, our dear FRIEND. When we could arrange it for our house sitter to take care of our house and animals, we would drive to Thibodaux, Louisiana, 9-1/2 hours one way, to visit. We wanted to stay there forever. The Dennises make you feel SO special, SO welcome. We just loved to go talk to them. We didn’t want to be ‘entertained,’ we just wanted to be able to catch up on all the little things that were happening, and be able to hug their necks. John was quite a cook and would feed us as if we were royalty, yet seemingly without effort. I never understood how he did that. And Murray topped off MY visits there by making cheese grits. I’ve never liked grits. My husband has told me for years that I didn’t add all the things to them that made them wonderful. Each time I tried, adding bacon and whatever else I could think of, they still tasted awful. When I tasted Murray’s cheese grits, I immediately LOVED them, eating like a pig. (If we DID live there, I wouldn’t be able to get through the door now from stuffing my face.)
John and Murray have been such a part of Thibodaux that I imagine it will be hard for everyone to pay respects. Both John and Murray volunteer their time and effort to countless community events, charities, sitting on boards to help make Thibodaux an even better town. They have had small gatherings when we’ve been there, put together again seemingly without effort, but missing no detail. Their ‘small gathering’ included more people than my husband and I KNOW! And the friendship and laughter flowed around the room, people visiting and then moving around to visit with someone else. A truly beautiful experience.
I wish I could have sat in one of John’s history classes, kind of like a fly on the wall. You could tell from his general conversation that history was alive for him, and that he would radiate that to his students, making THEM see history in a different, interesting light. He and my husband shared an interest in genealogy – a more personal history.
He had a beautiful attitude even at the end, saying, “I’m ready for the next adventure.”
We are so lucky to have known John. Our lives have been richer for sharing a small bit of his.
Our son’s music room in Thailand is coming together nicely. He says he’ll probably get a keyboard and guitar next. He has to keep buying, selling and changing his stuff because he needs to travel light in his lifestyle. I’m glad that he can play with his goodies now.
I have no idea what the stuff is in the ‘magic box,’ but he sent us a short video of him playing with things, learning some of the wonderful sounds, rhythms, and tunes he can create (if not distracted by all the blinking lights!) I loved watching his head bob in time with his music. :0)
Our sweet ‘puppy’ Amber was a year old March 7th. She now weighs 93 pounds. We’re HOPING that she is now as large as she will get, but people in the know say she could continue to grow for another year! They also say that this lumbering bull-in-a-china-shop with very little brain will continue being a puppy for at least another year….
Amber has improved a lot since I last wrote about her. She is adapting to us and our lifestyle pretty well for a pup with little brain. She is certainly smart and canny enough to manipulate her owners. We FINALLY got her to stop yelling at us when she wants us to take her out. She had been regularly coming to sit beside me while I was working at the computer and then yelling, “WOOF!” quite loudly, scaring my hair off. If I had a cup of coffee in my hand at the time, I would spend the next 10 or 15 minutes cleaning up before I could take her out. (We have learned that, at this point, we can’t trust her outside by herself. She tends to find something wonderful to chew up in the front yard. When she destroyed TWO NEW WELCOME MATS that had been in place for about 20 minutes, that was the wake up call for us to get off our duffs and take her out, rather than letting her out.)
When we’re outside, we tend to bring Amber and Molly with us. We did this a couple of days ago, using the time between rain storms to take them out and walk around the yard. When the doggies had taken care of business, I let them in, as it had started to rain. My husband and I finished looking at something and then came in – to find that Amber had decided to completely dump her water bowl all over the floor. We had a mini-lake!
She hadn’t done this for a long time, but she of little brain remembered THAT was fun!
We spent a half hour mopping and toweling up the mess. My husband got a larger, heavier metal bowl that has no rim to put in place of the one she dumped. We put it in the corner made by the wall of the bathroom and the doggie gate to the living room. We’re hoping that this placement is secure enough she won’t decide to ‘play’ in the water anymore…
Lesson: One cannot trust a yellow Labrador Retriever ‘puppy’ outside OR inside without pretty intense supervision!
Today our 91-pound yellow Labrador Retriever ‘puppy,’ Amber, is one year old!
I sang the birthday song to her, but she just sniffed my jeans pockets to see if I had any treats.
Our lives have really changed since we got her 10-1/2 months ago –
Amber has trained US more than we’ve trained HER. She has taught us to
- always get up with an alarm clock, even on weekends, to take her outside
- feed her twice a day, being careful to not upset her tummy
- put probiotics in her food to help with her digestion
- put drops in her water to help keep her teeth clean
- allow her to walk right up into my husband’s chair during the evening for a good snuggle
- make me jump out of MY chair when she looks expectant and get on the couch so she can snuggle with ME
- keep treats in our pockets at all times
- keep her shock collar and zapper charged up all the time (even though we mostly just need to warn her with some sound now)
- keep her supplied with chewy and/or squeaky toys in every room
- become a gated community, with gates at the office doorway, doorway between the dining area/kitchen and living room, and at the utility room doorway
- respond to a loud, close bark to take her outside
- accompany her when she goes outside so that she doesn’t eat anything that catches her eye
- understand that all bets are off – training ‘gone’ when visitors are here
- realize that she loves people and will get into the vehicles with the UPS, Fedex, or mail people
- understand that anything left anywhere within reach is fair game for a good chewing and/or destroying
- acknowledge that she is the center of our world, around whom all things are planned
- realize that in an argument with a 91-pound puppy, be careful what you wish for
Amber is the proverbial bull-in-a-china shop. If your drink is on the table, she won’t usually bother it with her nose, but her wagging tail will get it every time. She’s a sneaky pete. If you wanted to eat something later, don’t leave it on the counter in the kitchen unless you have the gate closed. It WILL mysteriously disappear. A bounding dog is a strong signal to get out of the way….
An exhausting, wonderful start to what we hope will be a good, long relationship. We’ll be grateful if her brain someday catches up with her exuberance. Happy Birthday, Amber!
Hugs are one of my favorite things. They cure me of most ailments. They fill my heart. I guess one shouldn’t pick favorites, but I have to tell you that hugs from our son are the very best there are – anywhere. He draws me in, wraps his arms around me and squeezes – then squeezes harder if “I” don’t squeeze hard enough for HIM. Then he just holds me. It makes me cry. I try not to let him see. Whenever he comes to visit, he makes sure my hugs bucket is overflowing by the time he has to leave.
“Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class.
When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said;
“Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.”
We thought we were doing a good thing when we taught Amber to bark when she wanted to go out, or was outside and wanted to come in. Soon we realized we had created a monster who LOVES ordering us around. She just comes in and then barks to go out again – and loudly enough it hurts your ears! My husband thinks it’s hilarious when I’m concentrating at the computer and Amber comes up to me and then makes me jump straight up in the air out of my chair with a loud “WOOF!”
Since we have now ALSO learned that letting her out alone results in all kinds of things leaving the garage, the front porch, and other surrounding areas and showing up in the front yard – either in one piece or damaged beyond repair, we are now TAKING her out. It’s now 10:10 a.m. central time and she’s been out 4 times already. This is a battle. We’re trying to get things done and we’re never sure if she REALLY needs to go out or is just pulling our leg. While it’s a problem concentrating or bringing something to completion, it’s also good in that it forces us to get up and moving. I’m also trying to play with her a bit while we’re out, taking a ball or something with me for her to retrieve. It’s good exercise because I make it a point to go out past the shop to my garden in one direction, and then all the way across the top of our part of the ridge line to my greenhouse and then back to the house. Just in CASE she doesn’t demand it on her own, we have an alarm set to remind us that we should go out again.
We’re having ‘discussions’ now about how many times it’s reasonable to take her out. Obviously, Amber would essentially enjoy being out most of the time. When it’s cold and wet outside with a gusty wind, we are less happy about staying out there with her for very long, telling her to ‘hurry up!’ and wanting to come right back in.
‘Discussions’ with a 91 pound lab puppy aren’t very productive…
I let Amber and Molly in this morning and discovered a trail of drinking water bottles and labels all over the front yard. Amber had only been able to open one of them and get the label off another, but I cleaned up the yard and put the rest of the bottles that were in the open plastic wrapping into the garage fridge.
I talked to my husband about our closing the garage door to discourage her from rummaging around in there, but he rightly pointed out that she’ll go through the cat door when the door is closed…
Our front yard has become ‘discovery land’ since we adopted Amber last May. So far, I’ve gone out to find –
- sticks of all shapes, sizes and lengths
- old toys Amber found from previous dogs!
- a full length metal shovel
- my dust mop – with the mop part shredded all over the yard
- the full drinking water bottles today
- gourds I was storing to paint
- buckets of all shapes and sizes, empty and full
- rat catchers from the pest company
- an entire rose bush we threw off the edge of the civilized part of the front yard
- my decorative ducks from the front porch
- a couple of small statues from the front porch
- an entire planter full of demolished flowers from the front porch
- a whole plant from one of the flower planters
- HOLES dug here and there (we DID get her to quit digging in the two empty planters where we’ll plant new rose bushes this spring, thanks to an idea from my SIL
I THINK that’s the list so far. She’s very inventive and seems to be tireless in her efforts to collect things in the front yard. If she continues, my cleaning up after her may be the only form of exercise I need!
Our son lives and works in Thailand. The touristy part of Thailand is in the southern part of the country, from Bangkok south. Northern Thailand is beautiful and much quieter, and he really likes it.
He thinks that it is only courteous to try to speak the language in the country you’re in. When he was in China, he took Mandarin lessons. Now he’s still taking Mandarin and is also taking Thai lessons. In fact, he recently told us he doubled his lessons in both and now feels he’s making good progress.
He has lived in Airbnbs and apartments. One of his big loves, though, is making music. He plays the guitar, drums, a little piano, and loves to create tracks of music for a song, making a track of each instrument and then merging them with his electronic gadgets. He can really lose himself in his music, but hasn’t been able to play the way he would like because it would bother his neighbors. He’s been on the lookout for a house to rent that is by itself a little, yet close enough to his work and his classes. He finally found a really gorgeous place and just moved in today. (He’s sleeping now after a really long day of moving in. There is 12 hours difference between us.)
Here are some pics he sent of his new rental house – (I am DROOLING!)
He’s going to use one room as a music room. He plans to start a YouTube channel and list some of his music there. I’m so happy for him and I can’t wait to hear what he creates!