Going to the dogs and then some
A Life Framed by Dogs -Then and Now
If I told you my first babysitter was a dog, would you believe me?
It's true; my first baby sitter was a full-grown German Shepherd named Asta. She happened to have her own litter of 12 puppies at the same time I was born. Although I was born in Philadelphia, two weeks later we were living in Buffalo, New York, where my dad had been stationed.
Asta was a fully-trained police dog. She'd accompanied my dad during his tour of Germany right after the war and would so again--and even work in time with him in Korea in between. But the year I was born we were all in Buffalo. Asta and her twelve pups, my parents and their one. It was not uncommon for my mom to let me play in my playground out on the front lawn. Asta would station herself alongside my pen and dare anyone approach.
Flash forward a few decades and the tide has turned - it's now me babysitting the dogs.
When German Shepherds Ruled
The Early Years - A family of dog lovers
German Shepherds reined during my formative years. After Asta died, my dad brought a black beauty named Betsy to our home in Germany. Sadly she was with us for only a couple of years and died in Germany. After we returned to the States, a puppy named Schatzie stole our hearts. She moved with us from Philadelphia to Houston.
My teen years were peppered by Schatzie's scaring away any stray boys that happened to roll up the driveway. She apparently thought it was her mission in life, no doubt encouraged by my father--when he wasn't doing his own part by switching porch lights on and off.
The Dogs Take a Back Seat
Life twists and turns and the role of caregiver ensues
The next several decades were peppered here and there with pets, anything from pigeons, cats, parakeets and, yes, dogs. We had a little Beagle during my daughter's toddler years. A shaggy lost Benji-type dog staring into the bowling alley lifted a paw toward me and I took him home. I named him Jeremiah and he accompanied us through my daughters tween years. After that, life became more complicated and, except for a cat named Baby, the animals fled.
During that time I rekindled a long--suppressed desire to write, and so I began a journey immersed in the art and craft of writing and hot on the pursuit of a publishing contract. It took 13 years for me to get that book contract, but I did. Writing remained uppermost in my life and I wrote and co-wrote several more books. At some point the tide arrived. My parents reached their 90s. As their only child, I added caregiving to my daily responsibilities..
A pause as we shift forward.... - Meet the Topknot Twins, Teddy and HoneyBun
I Blame it on St. Francis
Having St. Francis in the yard is like hanging a vacancy sign
Until St. Francis came into my life the number of dogs I had at any one time remained "one". Ever since I planted that concrete statue of St. Francis in my garden, the dogs have been coming. First came Teddy, then came Beau, followed by Riley, increased by Freddie, added to by Charlie, and finally raised by HoneyBun.
It didn't help when I moved back to my parent's house and doubled the number of St. Francis statues in the yard--and had them greeting me every morning when I stepped into the sun room. When I returned to my parent's home, I had four. Then Beau died but Waco came. Two years later Charlie and HoneyBun moved in.
Meet My Dogs - All Six
Teddy - The Shih Tsu & Master of the Realm
He captures everyone's heart
Teddy doesn't walk, he struts. His head is high, his gait is light. He's a dog on a mission. According to the Law of Teddy, that mission is to maintain law and order among his brothers and now little HoneyBun. Then there's those pesky cats who live in Grandma's room. Ever watchful, Teddy barks and let's me know when the cats cry or Granma calls.
Everybody loves Teddy. Of all the dogs, he seems to be the favored one. I think it's those big black bubble eyes that he uses to grab your attention. Who can resist? He's quite capable of making his wants and needs known without a bark. He rules with silent authority except for an occasional grumble--unless he's dealing with the cats.
Teddy and the cats have been a bit of an issue. He doesn't quite get that they don't want him to bark and chase them around my mother's bed. There's a whole lot of yowling and screaming by the cats, yelling by my mother, and barking by Teddy when that happens. Trust me, we strive to keep them apart but every now and then Teddy escapes into the bedroom. Thank heavens he's too low and too heavy to jump up onto my mother's high cherry bed. If he could, havoc would rein.
Teddy keeps a list and checks it twice - Teddy's got his groom on.
Riley the Rockhound - A Cocker Spaniel with a Passion for Rocks
"Sexy Boy", he's the Cocker Spaniel with Sleepy Eyes
He came; he conquered. But not with might. Not Riley. He's a bit of a scaredy-cat and shyness rules. He was 6 months old when I picked him up from his then mother and breeder. It took 30 minutes to do the transfer from her lap to mine as we sat on the parking lot at Home Depot. He shivered and shook and was so scared. When I finally got him home I took great care to integrate him slowly into our pack. At the time I had my Prince of Dogs, my Beau, a majestic, huge Labrador and six-month old Teddy.
Today Riley is a happy, effusive, chatterbox who has a real penchant for rocks. He's particularly fond of river rocks. But any good rock will do. I once watched him work every day for three solid weeks to dig up a rather large piece of concrete left over from when I had the porch built. Once he freed it from the soil, you'd think he'd be happy. Nope, not Riley. He then spent the next week tackling the huge job of moving that rock over to his collection spot. You see it was too heavy and too large to carry in his soft mouth. Riley is nothing if not focused and determined. He got that rock moved and in the right spot where it stays to this day.
Riley's fondness for rocks became public seeral years ago. A friend, who had been sitting in the low recliner, happened to notice a line of rather evenly spaced rocks placed up against a living room wall. She asked if I was doing some kind of new decorating thing. I said, "No, that's Riley's collection."
You see, Riley would bring his favorite rocks in every day and would station them in the living room. About twice a week I would grab a bucket and collect his rocks and take them back outside. We did this for several years until we came to live with my mom. Now Riley has a bunch of river rocks outside by the pond and, I guess for old time's sake, he's carried a few that were large enough to fit in his mouth to his crate where he sleeps with them every night.
Riley's Fun Suggestions - Riley's all about sharing the love.
Frederick - The Maltese, Lost & Now Found
The little dog whose name is longer than his body
Animal Control grabbed this little white bit of fluff one day while cruising my street. I checked the county animal control website and found him. The next day I went to see him. His hair was filthy from fleas, he had no fat on him, and his hip bones protruded. He was a mess. I put a 3-day hold on him.
I picked up Freddie as Hurricane Rita was bearing down on us. He was drenched in fleas. I gave him a bath as the TV blared evacuation routes. A few hours later me, the dogs, my parents and their two cats were headed out of town in a race to escape the high winds and flood waters threatening Houston.
Freddie's more like a tornado than a hurricane, though, when he darts through the house. He's a grand player and can't wait to get into mischief. Today he's a happy boy with a good layer of fat protecting his bones.
Waco the Wonder Dog - The Great Pyrenees
He's a 130 lb Texas A&M boy who'll capture your dog-lover's heart
Waco arrived and filled a gaping wound in my heart after the sudden death of my beloved Lab, Beau. It was December 2nd, 2007 when I traveled to a city dog park to meet him. I'd already found him through Texas Great Pyrenees Rescue group online and been approved for an adoption. I knew the instant I saw his photo he was the one. Who could resist a dog named Waco the Wonder Dog wearing a big maroon cape with a large "W"? Not me. (I'm a closet Superman fan, you know.) When we met for the first time, all I saw was this huge white snowball of fur wearing reindeer antlers coming toward me and, I swear, he was smiling.
Waco is a hoarder survivor. He'd been found with over 50 cats and dogs in a small house in Dallas. He'd traveled from Dallas to Amarillo to Houston and, finally, College Station. He's a wonderful dog with a great soul. Do you know his eye lashes are white? They look like they're covered with fallen snow. I love that.
Charlie - The Pug Who Never Left
Pug antics galore, this little guy will steal your heart
Charlie is a Pug but he often practices his Bulldog Face. Despite the look, he's a sweetheart. Charlie came because his first owner said he had issues. The typical issues of piddling and disobeying. I worked with Charlie and found him a dream. As often happens, it's more a problem with the owner than the dog. He'd been an impulse buy and his owner hadn't been prepared to do the work required to take a puppy into adulthood.
Today Charlie is a hoot. He snorts, snuffles, and snores, all the usual Pug stuff. He's exceptionally sweet and is a very good boy. He gets along with the rest of the dogs and he adores Waco. Since HoneyBun arrived, Charlie now has a girlfriend.
Charlie's List of Favorite Stuff
Honey Bun - A Mi-Ki & Only Girl in the Bunch
Granma's girl, and Charlie's honey, and only 3.5 pounds.
Last year the Easter Bunny came all the way from Amarillo to drop off a pink doggie bed-basket for my mother. This tiny 6-month old dog was nestled in the basket among plastic candy-filled eggs, a pink blanket, and some plastic green basket stuff. She was an early birthday gift. HoneyBun is a 3.5 lb sweetie who is happy with all her new brothers. She's what's known as a Mi-Ki, a new toy breed-in-the-making.
HoneyBun spends her time going back and forth between my mom's bed and the cats and me and the dogs. She's called HoneyBun because she hops like a rabbit when she goes outside to potty. It's really funny. (You should see her tree all the squirrels every morning.) We started calling her Honey Bunny and finally shortened it to HoneyBun.
HoneyBun wants you to know about these
Every Dog Has Its Breed - The canine crew wants you to pass the test--see below.
- Riley's Breed: Cocker Spaniels
Exhibited in the US since the 1880s, the Cocker Spaniel remains one of the most popular breeds. Cockers are intelligent, gentle dogs that thrive as part of a family.
- Freddie's Breed: Maltese
A toy dog covered from head to toe with a mantle of long, silky white hair, the Maltese is gentle-mannered and affectionate, known for being lively, playful and fearless despite its small size.
- Charlie's Breed: Pug
The Pug is well described by the phrase "multum in parvo" which means "a lot of dog in a small space." They are recognized for their even-tempers, playful personalities, and their outgoing, loving dispositions.
- Teddy's Breed: Shih Tsu
A compact and solid dog, the Shih Tzu's long, flowing double coat is its most distinctive feature. The word Shih Tzu means "lion" and although this dog is sweet and playful, he is not afraid to stand up for himself! One of the most popular dogs, this
- Waco's Breed: Great Pyrenees
Despite his regal and majestic appearance, the Great Pyrenees is a keen worker, faithfully guarding his flocks no matter the weather or terrain. With his intelligence, scenting ability and excellent sight, he is an invaluable companion to the shepher
- HoneyBun's Breed: Mi-Ki
The Mi-Ki is a small, friendly, and alert toy dog of lively action, compact and solid yet refined, in two varieties-long and smooth. The Mi-Ki is proud and carries the head high with the tail curved over the back.The sole purpose of the Mi-Ki is that
You Pick: Which Dog has the Best Breed? - Every dog owner says their dog has the best breed. Well--
I've got a problem. We've got a barking debate going on at my house over which breed is better. We've decided to take it to you, our gentle readers. Which breed is the best?
Whose breed is best?
From the Dogs
There's a little more to see but the dogs want you to know they have big plans like videos, photos, and stories. I also hear barks of blogging and websites.
They're all wanna-be stars, especially Charlie. He's succumbed to celebrity dreams of becoming Pug-famous. So please plan to return.
A Happy Dog is a Trained Dog - A few dog training books I've enjoyed
If you have six dogs, you better have them trained. :) I've been working with a dog trainer who has 50+ years experience working with both dogs and horses. We talk a lot about the various trainers and their methods. They are often very different in their approaches. I tend to cull from all.
Dog Trainer Celebrities - YOU Choose - Cesar Milan or Victoria Stilwell
Cesar Milan and Victoria Stilwell have their own shows. Cesar's show is on National Geographic and Victoria's is on Animal Planet. They each have their own approach to dog training and apparently in the past Victoria has not been a big fan of Cesar's. What do you think?
Whose dog training methods are better?
It's a Doggy World and Books Are No Exception - The dogs pawed the bookshelves to get this selection
The dogs share their dog movie picks - No Dogs Gone Wild, but Rin Tin Tin and Benji rank high
The Dogs Have Planned My Future!
Barking abounds as the dogs paw through their ideas
If you've read this far, then you know there are big plans for the future and plenty of bad hair days in the making. I have a lot to learn but as I do, I'll post more information, photos, and videos. Look for future pages on each dog and, yes, probably even a website.
Do we have bad hair days? You bet. Can we get caught in the long dog days of summer? Sure. But we have a lot of fun. The dogs make me laugh, cry, and always smile. I hope I give them a good home, lots of love, and plenty to do.
Dogs are one of those gifts in life that keep giving--they don't seem to know how to do anything else.