Tag Archives: family

“Fetch” or “Tug-of-War?”

My husband is asleep in his chair, snorking away, while I’m at the computer. All of a sudden, Amber shows up, trying to stuff her ball into my lap. Being a multi-tasking smart dog, she simultaneously lifts up with her head, making my left arm bounce up, over and over, off the keyboard. This is quite distracting, to say the least. Finally, she looks up at me with her beautiful, liquid, big brown eyes and my heart simply melts. Knowing she has manipulated me once again, she laughs and leads me to the door, impatiently waiting as I find my jacket and I am herded out to the front yard, accompanied also by Molly, our schnauzer/cocker spaniel extremely fuzzy white dog.

The biggest problem in all this is that I’m never sure what game it is that we’re playing. Amber wants me to throw the ball, but she doesn’t want to give it up. I finally throw the ball for her. She snaps it up on the run and returns to me. I try to get her to drop the ball into my hands. She doesn’t, of course. She runs around squeaking it madly, smiling with glee, around the ball, over and over. She wants me to play tug of war with it, but she has the advantage – teeth over fingers on a ball slimy with dog spit.

Finally, she gives it to me and I throw it across the yard as hard as I can. Molly knows to stay out of the way, having been run over many times, but she barks encouragement as she watches. Amber runs like a mad thing, snapping the ball up and running a victory lap or two around the yard, squeaking the ball and laughing. Then she comes to me and we go through the whole process again. For a time she doesn’t seem to need me there at all.  She teases me with the ball, then runs with it squeaking around the yard, drops it, grabs it up again, runs…..

I may never know what game we’re playing, but I don’t think it matters much. We play until one or both of us are tired. Then we all troop inside, I wash the ball and my hands, leaving the ball on the divider for the next time. Amber drinks a ton of water and collapses into a satisfied heap on her bed or by her dad’s foot.

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One Year!

Today our 91-pound yellow Labrador Retriever ‘puppy,’ Amber, is one year old!


Amber at one year – 3/7/2018


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!


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Nino Chakvetadze via Zen to Zany via Cathy Ruggiero

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.



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Short, Powerful Stories – Take 1


“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.”

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The Battle Over “OUT!”

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…


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Destructo Dog

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!


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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!


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Instead of having to play “Pick Up Sticks” this morning, I actually found one of our long, metal SHOVELS in the front yard, plus the part of a mop bucket where you put the mop to squeeze out the excess water, plus a rectangular bin – all from the garage. Apparently, the garage is Amber’s new playground, complete with toy storage area…

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We only had a few errands to run this morning so we asked Amber, “Do you want to go in the CAR?” She grinned and said, “WOOOF!” and started herding us to the door.

She is getting her ‘car legs’ now, crashing into the backs of our seats and falling down less and less. We put the windows down half way on either side of the back seat and she spends her time going from one side to stick her face out to the other. When we get close to town, she vocalizes more, whining as she smells more people, places, and animals.

She waited for us at Yeager’s, and then got to get out of the car with the no-pull collar and leash, at the vet’s. We said we were going to ‘weigh her,’ which we did. (91 lbs), but what we were really doing was seeing if our walking her every day at home was bearing fruit. She did NOT pull on the leash much as we went into the vet’s. (Last time, she almost pulled my husband down at least three times – really scaring us.) This time we went in and told her to ‘sit’ on the scales. She did! She waited patiently for us to say, “Good Dog!”  We took her over to say “Hi” to the receptionist. She just wagged her tail happily and licked her, (NOT rushing around like a mad thing and trying to jump.)  She met a young dachshund (I think) who was in her owner’s arms in a blanket. They were sitting on the bench as we went in. She politely sniffed the dog, wagged her tail, and we left. SUCCESS!

We went a couple more places where Amber waited for us in the car. She seemed to have a really good time.

We’ll continue to walk her on the leash daily, and we’ll put the no-pull collar on her whenever we have Carla and her doggies over for a play date or we go out in public, but there is night and day difference between the way she acted a couple of weeks ago and today!


Not all problems have been solved, however. After playing “pick-up-sticks” with the collection she had gathered in the yard this morning, I found two plastic bins plus a lid that she had discovered in the garage and decided to bring out to the front yard to chew on. She chewed one of the handles off, but the chewed bins are still usable, I guess. :0(



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Amber with Squeaky Frog Toy

I told you recently that we’re trying to get Amber to “Say It!” when she wants to go out, or from the outside of the door when she wants to come in.

Earlier today after she had been out about half an hour, I went to the garage door and peeked out. There she was, sitting on the steps, hoping someone would come. I said, “SAY IT!” through the crack, and after some encouragement, she gave me a good bark. I opened the door, let her in, gave her a treat and said, “GOOD GIRL!” My husband did the same thing when she got to the office, having heard the good bark.

Later, I was typing at the computer, concentrating on answering an email when Amber came and sat beside me. I looked at her and said, “Hi,” gave her head a couple of pats and then returned to my email.

Suddenly, a humongous “WOOF!” erupted from the smiling dog. I jumped straight up in the air, coffee cup in my hand – with both my husband and I saying, “Jesus!” at the same time, and then I managed “GOOD GIRL!” on the way down. I immediately got up, giving her a treat and let her out. She seems to be on the good side of the learning curve on getting out now. Hopefully, she’ll learn that woofing and door opening works in both directions…


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The Gatherer

Innocent looking, isn’t she?  In her heart, though, there lurks the heart of a gatherer –

Today it was

  • 8 long sticks/branches from over the edge of the civilized part of our yard – brought up to collect out in front of the door, just off the porch. I wouldn’t mind if she played with them awhile and then threw them back over the edge, but they’re piled up like trophies of the first morning’s run.
  • A heavy plastic rat killer container. This was provided by our bug people. It’s virtually indestructible, they said, and cannot be opened without a lot of work with serious tools. The poison is inside where only something actually crawling inside can eat it, thank goodness. Amber is content to move it from where it lives at the foot of the house in front to the front yard.
  • iris rhizomes from plants I cut down from the latest cleaning out of the planters. She gets them out of the bucket they’re in in the garage and brings them out to the yard. Maybe this is a hint that she thinks I should be getting them replanted faster.
  • weird bones from I-don’t-know-what-and-don’t-want-to-know.

We take her out first thing to take care of business and then let her out again after breakfast. Mid morning I go out to find out what treasures she’s found. I gather them up (see, I’m a gatherer, too!) and either put them back where they belong or toss them off  ‘the edge of the world’ again.

A new morning ritual.


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Lap Dog – His and Hers

We love Amber, our 9 month old yellow labrador retriever we brought home to be part of our family in May, when she was 10 weeks old and weighed 16 lbs.  I laboriously got her into my lap in my recliner, since she really seemed to enjoy the closeness. As she grew, though, I decided she was definitely not in the lap dog category.

Now, at 9 months old, she weighs around 81 pounds. She still considers herself a lap dog, insisting that my husband allow her up in his lap in the evenings. As you can see, she’s quite a handful.

I watch her out of the corner of my eye when she’s in my husband’s lap. She will suddenly sit up very straight and look at me with a gleam in her eye. I leap out of my chair – not wanting to even THINK about her leaping from his chair to mine – and sit on one end of the couch.


Here I am with our ‘lap dog’ on the couch. My husband snapped this pic for the rare moment Amber was quiet. She’s usually busy lapping my face and making me laugh until I have trouble catching my breath. She’s a great addition to our family.


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“How Much is that Doggie in the Window?”

How Much Is That Doggie In The Window
Recorded by Patti Page
Written by Bob Merrill

How much is that doggie in the window
The one with the waggley tail
How much is that doggie in the window
I do hope that doggie’s for sale

I must take a trip to California
And leave my poor sweetheart alone
If he has a dog he won’t be lonesome
And the doggie will have a good home

Repeat #1

I read in the paper there are robbers
With flashlights that shine in the dark
My love needs a doggie to protect him
And scare them away with one bark

I don’t want a bunny or a kitty
I don’t want a parrot that talks
I don’t want a bowl of little fishies
He can’t take a goldfish for a walk

Repeat #1


I know I’m showing my age, but when Amber started putting her head through the cat/small dog door in the walk-thru gate one morning, watching the people get ready for breakfast and Molly ate her breakfast in the pantry, this song was the first thing that popped into my head. I started singing it and Amber immediately perked up, getting agitated. She didn’t growl, bark, or yodel, but she sounded like she was listening.

I’ve been trying to remember to take my camera into the dining area for weeks now, but never remember to do it until I see her with her head through the door again. Today I used the camera on my phone.

I don’t do that often because my phone and my iMac don’t get along. My husband has to take the pics off the phone on his PC (Microsoft 10) and then put them in the backup files on my computer. I can’t open them until I change the ‘permission’ on each one, change the ‘ownership’ of the file, look at it, then either trash it or unlock it and hit ‘duplicate’ so I can put a name on it. UGH.

Anyhow, I just did this, one picture at a time with a whole group of them, remembering WELL again why I don’t use the camera on my phone unless I need to.

If you’re old enough to remember Patti Page singing this song, you’ll also remember (I think) that there was a dog barking in the song – It would go, “How much is that doggie in the window” (bark, bark) – the one with the waggley tail…..


Filed under Amazing Animals, Are YOU also older than Dirt?, Family, Too?

Amber and the Stick!

I was finally able to get a few pics of Amber playing with her stick –


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I went to the door this morning to get Amber to come back in after some time in the yard. When I opened it, she was standing there, smiling around the humongous “weed tree” in her mouth. I hurried back in to get the camera, but – of COURSE – she had dropped it when I returned.

I took some pics, though, of two sticks Amber brought into the front yard –


Stick # 1 – this is about 3 feet long.


This is Stick # 2 – It’s about 10 feet long. She lost the root ball that used to be on the end of it.  As you can see, she did a bit of digging in one of the flower planters we cleaned out to start over with a new Rio Samba rose plant in the spring.


Here’s another view of Stick # 2. I’m really sorry I couldn’t get a picture of her with this in her mouth. She had a great time outside.

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Amber is our 70+ pound yellow Labrador Retriever who was 8 months old on November 7th.

We are delighted that our animals are accepting each other more and more each day. Although Amber still makes the cats, Abby and Smoke,  hiss and spit when she steps on them, or picks them up off the floor with her nose, mostly they no longer freak out when they’re all in the same room now.  Molly, our Cocker Spaniel/Schnauzer cross, doesn’t try to vanish into thin air when Amber comes in, and they are actually having mock fights now, with a lot of dancing around and fierce growling.

This morning at breakfast, I was able to have Molly lick my bowl without Amber leaping up and taking over. This is a huge milestone. (Yes, I know that we shouldn’t feed the animals at the table, but this is a long-standing tradition.)  We have Amber ‘get down’ on the floor between my husband and me, waiting for her turn. (Sometimes it’s as if she were on a trampoline, but she knows what we want her to do. If we ‘warn’ her with only the noise of the shock collar, she immediately gets down again.

My husband has cereal, and he gives each cat a chance to lap leftover milk when he is finished. This morning Amber stayed down while Molly was licking my bowl on her right,and both Abby and Smoke lapped milk on her left. My husband added a bit more milk to give to Amber because the cats finished the leftover. He started to put the bowl down for Amber and Smoke ran under his chair, straight to the bowl, wanting more. She was actually lapping milk from the bowl when my husband told Amber, “okay.” She looked down and saw Smoke. She seemed to think about it a second, and then very carefully eased down and started lapping right next to Smoke, not bothering her! As she is a big dog with a humongous tongue, Smoke finally eased away from the bowl, ceding it to Amber.

We were both relieved/amazed/impressed with Amber’s delicacy in not growling, snapping at the cat, or otherwise causing a bad event.


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What is it about Labs and Mud Puddles?

This isn’t Amber, but this photo gives you an idea of what my husband and I were dealing with this morning.

I told you in another post that we were going to clean out and empty the hummingbird birdbath today. My husband built a very nice water system for it, using a trash can to hold water and a toilet valve. The system regulated itself, so that if the water level got too low, it allowed the hose to fill it up and then turn off. Because of this closed system we didn’t notice any change in our water bill, even though the birdbath flowed all spring and summer, 12 hours each day on a timer.

I cleaned out the actual birdbath and we’ll store the decorations, timer, etc., in the garage for the winter. We dumped the trash can off the deck into the yard below. My husband was resting, keeping me company and drinking some hot apple cider when we heard the distinctive sound that Amber makes when she finds water. She paws it rapidly, spreading it everywhere, having a great old time.

THIS time it was even more wonderful because it was MUD! By the time we heard the pawing, she was covered in mud from stem to stern, laughing while she made the mud go everywhere. She then laid down in it. GREAT.

It’s in the high 50s with a healthy, gusty wind today, but we chained Amber to the porch and hosed her off as well as we could, albeit protesting dog. We sat on the deck while she shook herself over and over and then got her on the back porch where we could dry her off with towels. She didn’t like THAT, either.

Needless to say, progress on finishing cleaning up the deck came to a halt with the dog wash. We’re now taking a break and regrouping.


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Louisiana Hot Sauce – Take 2


This isn’t Amber, but it could be.

We’ve shifted Amber’s crate and some chew toys into the utility room inside the house so that she doesn’t have to suffer rain, wind, and the coming winter out on the back porch. There is a huge dog bed in there, and Molly and Bambi (our pit) used to sleep on it together. We’re hoping that Amber will use her crate, if she likes, or sleep on the bed with Molly.

Last night was Night 4 of the new regime. My husband was up in the middle of the night, having trouble sleeping, and he heard ”chewing” but hoped she was chewing on one of the several chew toys we make sure are in there at night.

I discovered this morning she was chewing on the baseboard.

When she was on the porch, she started chewing the wood on one end of the porch. I tried all kinds of home remedies and commercial preparations, finally brushing on Louisiana Hot Sauce. That seemed to have worked. I say it this way because we also were bringing her in the house with us a lot more, and the ‘cure’ might have just been a happy coincidence.

This morning I painted a generous amount of Louisiana Hot Sauce on the baseboard where she has been chewing, and along the rest of it, while I was at it. I’m hopeful that our dog is as much of a wuss as her owners about eating hot things….

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Challenge and Laughter

We tend to gauge things around here by “Before Amber” or “After Amber,” since the two parts of our lives couldn’t be more different.

Amber will be 7 months old next week. We got her when she was 10 weeks old and weighed 16 pounds. The last time we weighed her (almost a full month ago) she weighed 62.8 lbs. I think she’s probably around 70 lbs now.

Other than trying to eat the wall of the porch, she has made a LOT of progress in the little over 4 months we’ve had her as part of our family, we’ve ALL done a bunch of changing. Amber is smart and hard-headed. When she was still a baby, she wouldn’t stop barking. Even with her on the porch and the door shut, it was loud enough to hurt your ears and put your nerves on edge. We got a no-bark collar and within days, she stopped barking. In fact, though she whines, she almost never barks now.

She was growing super fast, and we had her on a retractable leash, each walking her several times each day. She is super strong. And did I mention she’s hard-headed? She pulled harder and harder no matter what we did, several times yanking us so hard as she hit the end of the line that we were almost pulled off our feet. Since we’re not getting any younger, we got a no-pull leash. Again, within days, she no longer pulled on the leash. (The one exception to this statement now is when we go to the vet and there are dogs that would like to eat Amber in one gulp.)

She laughed in our faces for quite awhile, making us hoarse and out of sorts after repeating the same command over and over with differing, non-lasting results. We got  shock collar which has a warning sound and then another button for shocking her.  Now, instead of ignoring our commands, most of the time she doesn’t even have to be warned. We pick up the controller and she does whatever we’ve asked her to do without our having to repeat. Sometimes I’ve even just held up my hand as though I’m holding the controller and she immediately decides to do what I asked!

It’s also helpful that she’s food driven and wants to be with her people. She really tries to be good so that she can stay inside with us, go outside with us, go to the shop, ride in the car, or take a walk. She will also do almost anything if a treat is involved. The one exception to this, we’ve found, is getting her to walk down the stairs to the basement. She’ll go up and down the stairs going to the second floor, but will NOT go down the steps to the basement. The biggest difference is that the inside steps are carpeted. I’m not sure why she’s afraid to go down, but she’s adamant. She actually whines and barks as my husband tries to entice her to come down there to him. So far, only two feet on the 2nd step…

Her newest word is ‘out.’ She will come over to me and look at me expectantly. If I don’t respond immediately, she whines. If I ask her, “Do you want to go OUT?” she gets up and leads me to the door. Now we’re trying to teach her to bark when she wants to come in. So far, with the doors open to the cooler breeze, she whimpers and we get up and let her in.  Molly barks to get us to open the door. Maybe Molly will teach her.

Much progress is being made. Much work left to be done. Definitely a difference in our lives before Amber/ After Amber. Interesting, challenging, exhausting, delightful.



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Steaks, Potatoes, and Woofles

I just love this picture!

We’re cooking out tonight – steaks and baked potatoes – we’re not really cooking ‘woofles,’ (sorry, Amber and Molly) but I just HAD to share this picture. :0)

I love cookouts. It’s only going to be my husband and me, plus most of our animals. We all end up in a pile on the deck, surrounded by aromas that make my mouth water just thinking about them. Most everyone is there – the dogs (Molly and Amber) the cats (Abby and Smoke ) – everyone except the fish, who couldn’t care less about cooking out, and our son who is living across the world from us.

As the evening gets darker, we turn on the rope multicolored LED lights, and then, finally, the yellow light that allows my husband to see to cook. :0)  He has a beer in hand. I usually have coffee. We’re gradually getting Amber to quit dive-bombing all the others…

It’s a time to enjoy the wonderful weather. A time to r-e-l-a-x. A time to play with the animals. And a time to talk – all of us enjoying being together in no rush to accomplish anything or go anywhere. The potatoes have been nuked and then transferred to the oven to finish. The charcoal is getting hot and ready to use. The steaks are ready to bring out.

If we’re lucky, we’ll still see a hummingbird or two, maybe a firefly, maybe the pair of doves who sit on the electrical wire together.  I would love it if deer would visit us, but our animals keep that from happening. We did see a deer on the way to Lunch Bunch this morning. I’m glad he decided to dart back into the woods, rather than running into the car. He was there and then gone in the space of a second or two. A beautiful bright spot of nature reminding us to be in the moment, appreciating everything around us.

I hope you have a nice evening planned. I know a special lady who is having a birthday today who I hope is being treated like a queen in celebration. Even if this is a day like most others, I hope you enjoy it to the fullest.  Maybe you can make some ‘woofles!’



Filed under Family, Favorite Things, Mother Nature

Hot Dog

hot Amber

With the temp and humidity today, this afternoon will FEEL like 106 degrees F.  UGH. Our forecasters are saying that tomorrow we’ll finally get our first rain in over a month and a bit of a cool down. Hooray! Meanwhile, we turn on fans, A/C, drink lots of cold drinks, and pant a lot.

hot Molly

The cats and the fish are taking things in stride.







“The Guys”

So, until about noon, we’ll all just sit under the ceiling fan with the doors and windows open, then be really thankful for the a/c until this evening. Some of us hang our tongues out straight, some out the side.

If we get the forecasted rain tomorrow, we’ll all go out (except maybe the cats and the fish) and dance in the rain while my husband can finally burn some trash….


Happy Tuesday everyone!


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Amber Votes, “YES!”

I received the ingredients I needed to try the new gluten-free, low-carb bread today, so a couple of hours ago, I tried the recipe.

I found it a bit vague (for someone of my in-expertise on bread making) because many of the directions were “mix it until it’s creamy.” Well, I ask, “Is this creamy enough?”

Anyway, I got it into the oven, baked it for an hour, then took it out to cool. I made lunch for my husband and me, then took the loaf out of the pan and was pleased that it had risen, though not as much as other breads I’ve made. I sliced into it, cut that piece into four bites. I gave one to Amber, then one to Molly, I ate one and took the last in to my husband in the office.

I grabbed my camera on my way back to the kitchen so I could take pics for the blog. When I went into the kitchen, I found only the small piece of bread on the counter.


I went into the living room to find Amber with the rest of the loaf on her bed, happily eating it. I yelled, ran and grabbed it from her, yelling, ‘bad dog!’ while she looked at me with her innocent face, totally clueless. Apparently she just waited until I left the kitchen to stand up, grab the bread from the counter and take it into the living room.  Since it’s gluten-free, I guess I’ll break it up and let the doggies eat the rest of the huge hunk Amber stole.

This is the big hunk Amber stole.

I have a very small bit left. Not even enough for a sandwich. I’m not even sure if I like it or not at this point, and it’s not fair to the creator of the recipe to remark on it.

I’ve  just learned another lesson from Amber – she’s now big enough to reach anything on the counters in the kitchen. We’ll have to change our habits in there, too, and learn to watch her like a hawk.

So – the jury is still out on the gluten-free, low-carb bread, except for a really enthusiastic “YES!” from Amber….


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Poor Dog!

Poor Amber! Nothing to play with!

When we brought her into the office this morning, all the toys were in the bin in the corner. 10 minutes later, havoc reigns.

Not only are all the toys out of the box, but she’s decided to chew on, and eat the bin! And she looks so innocent…..

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Treat Driven


Our yellow labrador retriever “puppy” Amber is 6 months old as of yesterday and officially weighs 61.6 lbs. She will do almost anything if she knows a treat is involved.

This has made our efforts to train her more effective (thank goodness!) but it’s a problem if you go outside with her and find you are ‘unarmed’ without one treat in your pocket.  (See pic above)

I switched to goldfish because they’re small, fit in my pocket more easily, and a double handful will get us through the day pretty well. She doesn’t seem to mind the change. She loves EVERYTHING, but she goes through a LOT of them, so we’re trying to find cheaper alternatives and use the more expensive stuff sparingly.

Lately I’ve discovered that she will stay pretty much by my side outside without a leash if she is sure I have treats in my pocket. I simply show her one and then we take a nice walk. She is also improving on ‘sit,’ ‘down,’ ‘place,’ ‘get the ball,’ ‘come,’ ‘waiting for an ok before she eats,, not jumping up, and other things. Remaining a challenge are teaching her

  • ‘we’ are NOT chew toys,
  • not chewing on things not designated as toys (we’re hosing things down with bitter apple)
  • not dive-bombing our dignified elder dog, Molly, the cats, etc

Especially challenging is getting her to mind us when others are around. It’s as if she is suddenly blind and deaf, doesn’t know who we are, etc.

Lately, one of her favorite things is catching me on the stairs when I’m coming down in the morning. This morning is a typical example – I got halfway down the stairs. She heard me and came bounding up the stairs to greet me. I’ve learned to sit down on the stairs and give her a lot of love and petting before trying to continue down. Last night I left shoes and socks on the floor in front of my chair in the living room. I know better, but she has to reteach me from time to time.

I had to fight my way over to the chair with Amber trying her best to chew on my toes or trip me. I made it to the chair, but Amber had one of my shoes in her mouth. I retrieved the other shoe, plus the socks, and then had to try to ‘trade’ her something for my shoe. I finally got my shoe and then fought my way back to my chair. She tried to get both socks and shoes back as I squirted her with the water bottle and said, ‘place!’ firmly. She finally responded, though she really didn’t want to. I put on socks and shoes and vowed NOT to leave them again…


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Amber with bit of green plastic bone

I was helping my husband put a gigantic box that the TV came in up into the attic over the garage this morning. After we accomplished that, we swept out the half of the garage that was easy to get to with one of the cars out on the pad.

We went back into the house, but I couldn’t find Amber. I checked with my husband, and he glibly said, “I let her out when we went out to the garage. She’ll be fine.”

I ran out to the front yard and started calling her. I went all the way around the house, calling, but no Amber. I was in tears, still calling when Amber came running across the yard to me, smiling.

I gave her some treats, put her into the house, and then calming told my husband that his life was on the line if he did that again.

(We had agreed that HE could let her run first thing in the morning when breakfast followed. I have taken her out without the leash, walking from the house to the shop. I did it again yesterday, keeping a close eye on her and keeping the walk short. She is coming better now, but I don’t trust that she would come if she were distracted by a rabbit, squirrel, cat, or another dog. We even have COWS across the street that runs in front of our yard.)

My husband gave me the lecture about ‘mistreating the dog’ by not simply letting her out and letting her come home when she’s ready. I told him that we would build to that, but NOT YET!

And so continues the disagreement about when Amber truly knows where home is, when she’s coming on a reliable basis…..



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Busy Morning on the Porch


Right at this very moment, Amber is lying down beside my office chair, asleep. Ahhhhhh!

We’ve had a busy morning. We’re still having a bit of trouble giving Amber food that agrees with her. And, even if THAT is all good, we can’t keep her from acting like a vacuum cleaner outside, eating everything dogs find appealing. UGH.

Obviously, something didn’t agree with her that she ate yesterday. I had to hose and mop the porch first thing this morning. Since she’s been having trouble off and on, we’ve been leaving her crate door open at night. My husband did the initial clean up and then I followed with the hose and mop.

We fed her lightly, and then checked on her in half an hour – my husband had left the Clorox Clean Up bottle on the table. She had knocked that over, spilling about half of it on the porch floor. I leaped up to get THAT cleaned up, hoping she didn’t ingest any of that. I then admonished my husband that we’re at least PRETENDING to be smarter than the dog….

We went out to play with her later and ended up hosing and mopping the porch again –

We took her out and walked her quite a bit, gave her some water and went inside to get ready to go do errands. I checked on her before we left – to find she had taken her bedding from the crate and was in the process of shredding it all over the porch floor.

I put the the intact piece of bedding back in the crate, closed and latched the door to it, put her on the string on the deck since she won’t allow mopping or sweeping without a game of tug of war.  I swept everything up and put her on the porch once again.


Amber on her dog run, waiting for me to get the porch mopped.


Amber with her purple bone on the office bed.


We were gone about an hour. Amber was delighted to see us when we got home. Her porch was still clean! We took her out again, and then let her come into the office.  (If you look behind her head, you can see where she discovered the reams of copy paper on the shelf yesterday –

So far, so good.  Fingers crossed.


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Can you see that Amber lets her tongue loll out to the side of her mouth and down? I think it’s hilarious.

She just doesn’t ‘get’ the idea of fetching and bringing the ball back yet. My husband has been out in the front yard with her a couple of days in a row now. He throws the ball. She runs to get it, picks it up, and then either drops it again, doesn’t want to bring it back, or – if she does bring it back – doesn’t want to give it back to my husband to throw again.

She did it right twice today – much better than yesterday. She got a treat when she brought the ball back and actually allowed him to have it. :0)

The best part about this whole thing is that she and my husband are having fun, both are getting good exercise, and Amber is much more calm in the house after a session. (She’s asleep on the floor beside me now).


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Shh! Amber is Napping!

Sweet puppy Amber is taking a very rare nap. Even though her eyes seem open, her legs are moving in dreams and she’s snoring lightly. She was very hyper this morning, teeing off Molly, our ‘old lady’ white dog, and the cats, Abby and Smoke, all in the space of a minute or two on bursting through the porch door after she ate.

When she wouldn’t settle with us in the office, after each of us played with her for a time, she ‘won a trip back to the porch’ for a few minutes. I let her in again and she was much better. Now I’m getting a reprieve that I know won’t last long. I’ll enjoy every second!


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Our Training Continues


Amber is making progress in getting us to do what she wants, but she gets truly frustrated with how very slow we are to learn.

For example, she wants to play Tug of War with her toys.  She goes and gets a toy, brings it to her humans, and very clearly wants us to grab the other end – the other side – and fight with enthusiasm – in the end letting her win. She is letting us know lately how dumb we are. When she brings the toy, we won’t even TRY to take it out of her mouth. We ACT like we’re going to play, but the minute we meet resistance, we let go, over and over until she finally drops the toy into our laps in disgust. Just as she’s leaving, we throw the toy!  The game is on again until the humans refuse to take their end of the toy. AND her humans get mad when teeth run into skin, yelling and running into the kitchen to wash the wounds off and wrap them with band-aids. Hummmmppph!

Her humans HAVE learned to arm themselves each morning, making SURE they have a pocketful of treats. Amber has taught us to give her treats in all parts of the ‘taking-care-o-business’ process, when she sits, when she comes, when she lies down, when she goes to her place…. all day long – finishing up with going into her crate. This takes a LOT of treats. We routinely get somewhere out in public, one pocket bulging with dog treats.

Amber realizes that getting her people trained will take time, patience, and lots and lots of effort. She’s encouraged that we’re better than we were when she first came to live with us in May.

She’s looking at me, distinctly saying, “Really? You want me to get up?”


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Linda Meyers – Begin with Yes


Filed under Attitude, Encouragement, Family, Favorite Quotes, Friendship


In this corner – Amber, yellow labrador retriever, 4-1/2 months old, 41+ pounds, no brain.




Smoke, 1 year old cat who loves to taunt Amber, shown lying on my calendar beside me as I type on the computer.

Amber was warned not to mess with the cat – a couple of times, the second time with fly swatter shown. She seemed to take it seriously, lying down in Molly’s bed under my feet. She oozed out to my left while I was concentrating on other things. I admonished her and got her to lie down beside my chair.

Suddenly Amber’s nose was on my right, attached to bright eyes and lively dog, plus teed off cat. Smoke hissed, jumped up and whacked Amber in the face. Amber got even more excited. I jumped up and tried to pick up the cat, with the idea of putting her on the other side of the office pet gate.

End result:

  • Smoke is out
  • Amber is on the back porch
  • I have new band-aids on both arms from where Smoke dug in her claws.

Lesson –

Either let them fight it out or use something other than my body to try to break up future altercations. Am looking for a whole-body band-aid or body armor…


Filed under Amazing Animals, Family