Tag Archives: family

It’s a Dawg’s Life

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?




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New Cat Bed?


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…


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Can Fish Smile?

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.

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Wet Amber

Ambrose Bierce via Email from Bill Lites


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….


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“Remember Me Laughing” – Father’s Day 2018

Bubba Watson via sayingimages.com


Jim Wheaton

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.



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Best Deal Ever Made

M. Facklamemail via Facebook/FortheLoveoftheDog via email from Bill Lites

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Delights of Living with a Water Dog

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…



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A Delightful Man

John Dennis

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.

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Our Son’s Music Room

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)

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I let Amber out JUST as the mail lady came up the driveway. :0(

I tried to get Amber under control, but I didn’t have the zapper in hand and Amber was SOOOOO excited that someone came to see her! She was trying to jump up, her wagging tail whipping my leg. The lady was smart, throwing a dog biscuit out from her. Of course, Amber went right after it.

My husband came out then, complicating the issue. Amber started being exuberant again, acting as though we hadn’t spent hours and hours working with her. My husband got frustrated and grabbed Amber’s collar.  All of a sudden, both of them went down on the grass in a pile. I put the package that the lady has just given me down and went to help my husband up. He wouldn’t let go of the collar – being a stubborn man – and Amber wouldn’t give an inch, either.

Finally, we both held Amber down while the mail lady started back down the driveway. When she had gone far enough, Amber quieted. I felt like a referee between my husband of very stubborn streak and Amber, a big dog with small brain….

No one was hurt, but nerves were frazzled on all parts. Amber has 11 more months to do some growing up and calming down while we try to teach her to be social without being ‘deaf’ to commands and over-exuberant. (We’re told that things will get better when she hits the 2-years-old mark. ) I’m afraid there is no cure for my husband’s stubborn streak.

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Just as We Laid Our Guard Down….


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!



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“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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