Posted in Fun

Upon Opening the Door to a Stranger

We had an unexpected visitor last night. It was one of those days where you can’t wait to get into your p.j.s and just zone out in front of the television. Wait . . . that’s pretty much every night around here.

Well, it had been a long day — early to rise and productive. So I threw on a nightshirt, and okay . . . don’t judge me, but I was naked as a jaybird under that thing.

I know. You’ll never be the same. Sorry.

We turned off the tube at about 9:00 p.m. Bubba got up to close and lock the front door. He turned on the outside front light, and was startled by a brown face in the dark. When I heard his reaction, I joined him at the door.

Now, I wish I had a picture, because he was so handsome. He was young and well-built, and seemed very friendly. We opened the door to see what he wanted, and he greeted us enthusiastically. Bubba and I both glanced up and down the street to see if he was alone, to which we surmised he was.

In the dark, we saw a metal tag hanging from his blue collar. Bubba retrieved my phone from inside, and I tried to read the fine print while he wriggled and nuzzled his way into my heart. When I couldn’t make out the number, Bubba edged his way out the door, keeping one dog out and two in. We traded places, him with the collar, me taking the phone. Bubba’s eyes are younger than mine. Most of him is.

The phone number led to a veterinarian office, after business hours with no answer. We stood still and listened for someone calling in the distance, “Fiiiiiidooooo……” We heard nothing but the usual clatter from houses, traffic on the main road, and dogs barking to be let in one last time before bed. The street, littered with neighbor’s cars and trucks, forced those passing by to slow to a cautious speed. Each time, we hoped they would stop to thank us for holding their pet for them. Each time the cars continued up the hill.

We took turns holding the dog and running into the house. I went in to get a leash, a jacket, and tennis shoes to throw on with my nightshirt. I shut the windows so the dogs’ barking wouldn’t bother the neighbors, and to keep them from hearing our new friend so clearly. Bubba ran in to get shoes. Still, the cars continued up the hill, and no voices called for a lost dog to come home.

We rejected the option to keep him until the morning, either inside or out. We even thought about letting him go, thinking he might find his way back home. But it was obvious there was only one safe choice for us, our dog-family, and this beautiful big, brown pit bull.


While Bubba went in to calm the hounds, I made a call to animal control. She said they would send someone right over. In the meantime, I hoped the owner would come along and save this guy a trip to the pound. He was a strong animal, jerking me this way and that toward the sounds in the night. It was all I could do to keep him out of my emerging perennials.

It was while I was on the phone with a helpful friend (who is somewhat of a dog-angel by nature), getting her take on things, that a city police SUV pulled up. My call ended as this massive beast decided I wasn’t greeting them with the urgency they deserved.

I leaned back on the leash, and was pulled one step at a time, each one faster than the last. By the time the two of us reached the middle of the yard, I had given in to a run.

Please note:  I do not run. Not only are there just too many parts of me that bounce, jiggle, and swing, but my knees are no longer up for the task. Nor is my bladder.

Another pace or two, and my descent to the street had become less than a run and more like what I can only describe as a launch, my wrist wrapped firmly in the handle of the leash. This stunt, which I can remember micro-second by micro-second, happened in the wag of a tail. At once I realized the only thing that was going to save me from a face-plant on the asphalt was if I could hit the police vehicle first.

With my eyes on the goal — the word POLICE in shiny gold letters against the black front fender of the SUV — I put my hands out just as I realized this was not going to end well. My knee hit the pavement at the same time my face struck the “L.” Bullseye. The phone I had hung up seconds ago bounced across the hood of the car.

The panic of ensuring my nightshirt was still covering my undercarriage dwarfed any pain I might have felt. I may or may not have wet myself . . . Just sayin’. One cop took the leash from me while at the same time asking, “Are you okay, Ma’am?” The driver did a combat roll over the hood — okay, he didn’t. But he was at my side in a flash, wanting to reach out to me, but needing to assess the situation before moving the victim.

When he also asked if I was okay, I told him I would be as soon as he helped me up. Giggling, with a bruised pride, I answered his questions — name, address, phone, and how it was I had the dog. They said the decision to call them was the right choice. We all hoped he had a chip, and agreed he was a gorgeous animal. When he asked again if I was okay, I told him I hoped his car was okay, peering in the dark to look for a dent. I wanted nothing more than to tuck my tail and retreat into my house. When eventually they dismissed me, I shuffled off without looking back.

Inside, Bubba came to the door in amazement. “Did they come get him already?” It took me several tries to get the story out between my giggle-fits. Once showered and back in fresh night-clothes, I took inventory of my injuries. One twisted ankle, one bruised and swollen knee, and a scuffed thigh. Bubba brought me a couple of ice packs and I swallowed some pain reliever. He kept repeating, “But I was coming right back out! I should have been out there!” But then I’d have nothing to write about.

I can’t help wondering if I’m the butt of some awfully good police stories today. No pun intended.

Peace . . .

Not our friend, but as close a picture as I could find. Please spay and neuter your animals. Pit Bulls are not for everyone. When choosing a pet, find one that fits your lifestyle . . . and strength.
Posted in Furry Friends

Dog’s Eye View

Me:  You know what is nice about cats?  They don’t beg you to throw a ball, or ask to go in and out and in and out.  They can sit and stare out the window for hours at a time.
Bubba:  Yeah, I got a pet rock that will do the same thing.
Me:  Really?  Well, if it picks up its own poop, I might be interested.

So if they aren’t amused staring out the window all day, what DO dogs look at all day?

Hhhmmm . . . so this is what Sabbath sees when she wakes up under the bed. I don’t know how she fits under there. She literally claws her way out when it’s time to wake up.
We are usually on our walk before the sun has climbed over the horizon.  They like to spook me by seeing things in the dark that I can’t.

I’m pretty sure this is all Barney sees while we are out.

This is always an exciting view!
From the dogs point of view,                                          wildlife is the best part of any walk.
I have to admit, breakfast looks awful!  I wonder why they get so excited about this stuff?
But when Bubba finally gets home and retrieves the stray Frisbees from the garage roof . . .
 . . . it's time to PLAY!  Hey this look like fun!
. . . it’s time to PLAY!  Hey this look like fun!  See how Sabbie turns the Frisbee upside down before she carries it back?

I wonder what I look like to them as they wait for something to fall off the counter while I’m preparing dinner?


On weekends, they like to go outside early in the morning . . .

 . . . and bark at anything that moves!  Then I have to haul their butts back in the house before they wake up the whole neighborhood!

The best part of any weekend is the dog park!

The dogs actually get a pretty nice view with their head out the window. I might have to try that sometime.
This is like clubbing for dogs. Except better, because they don’t have to ask all those silly get-to-know-you questions. If you like someone, you just go up and hump them.


See how silly bubba looks making Sabbath settle down before she chases the ball? It works for like 5 seconds.

When we get home, Barney is exhausted and collapses in the yard . . .

 . . . and watches Sabbath catch her second wind . . .

Peace . . .

Posted in Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree


Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed, the mind can only reflect the true image of the Self when it is tranquil and wholly relaxed.
– Indra Devi

Be part of the Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post

. . . and check out these splendid interpretations!

skpfoto (what word would you use to describe these guys?)
Flickr Comments
Irregular Ventilator
A Little British Pea
Jesse Robben
Meg Travels
A Remark You Made
What’s (in) the pciture?
follow your nose
The World Is a Book – “When shall we live if not now?”


Posted in Furry Friends

Use Your Woofs

Come on in, Dude!  The water's great!
Come on in, Dude! The water’s great!

Just because dogs don’t speak words, doesn’t mean they are any less communicative.  There is an imperceptible language that happens between animals of all species.  Dogs have it.  And humans have it, if we pay attention.  It is that something that tells us, “I think I like you.”

Barney can greet other dogs for half an hour at the park, and then take off after one particular pooch, chasing as if he is half his age.  It’s that thing.  Chemistry?  Somehow you are suddenly aware that you want to know more about that person, or play with them in the grass!

We humans love it when our dogs get along.  We encourage them and laugh when they bow down to invite another to play.  We love it when their tails wag and they give each other positive signs of companionship.  But just like humans, canine creatures need negative forms of communication as well.  They need to be able to say “Dude, you’re all up in my grill,” and “Don’t sniff me there,” or “Hey, I’m not that kind of girl.”

For the most part people have learned to suppress the urge to growl and bite.  We teach our children young to “use your words.”  We think of our pets as little humans, and want them to play nice as well.  Dogs use the only “words” they can, and sometimes it scares us.  However, being the refined creatures they are, they usually walk away from confrontation, and no more than a raised lip or a low growl is needed.

"Mind if I join in, you guys?"
“Mind if I join in, you guys?”

Many humans come to the “rescue” of a dog that doesn’t need rescuing.  Imagine if you had someone doing all your talking for you.  “Oh, she doesn’t like red.  Do you have one in blue?”  “He likes paper, not plastic.”  Sooner or later, you would probably forget how to talk, look at that person every time someone walked up to you, and hide behind them if someone even looked like they wanted to greet you.  You wouldn’t even be able to flip someone off in traffic by yourself!

Barney loves the little dogs, and is especially mild mannered with them.  But sometimes his size is a little too intimidating for them.  Like most dogs, Barney isn’t interested in hanging around where he isn’t wanted.  He will happily find another butt to sniff if the little guy suggests he should.

Yet some humans don’t even give their dog a chance to sniff Barney.  They pick up their pup the minute they see big black Barney round the corner.  Whether they are afraid their dog will snap at Barney, or that Barney will play rough with him, they are reinforcing messages to their dog that he is unable to “use his words.”

Please know that I do possess a little common sense.  I would never recommend humans stand around and encourage dogs to fight.  That isn’t civilized for any species.  There are also those who bring a dog to the park that does not socialize well with other dogs.  It is always important to be aware of your own dog’s triggers and cues.  In my experience, moving away from an escalating situation and simply continuing our walk is the antidote.

Very rarely, there are those instances when, by some humanly imperceptible signal, one dog says to another “Are you looking at me?”  “You want a piece of me?”  And when push comes to shove, a dog has to stick up for what he believes in.  Embarrassed people must step in, break it up, and apologize.  Later, I will ask, “Did that dog give you the stink-eye?”  After all, I can understand a thing like that.

“Okay, little one. You can nap here, but I don’t have to like it.”

At the risk of inviting argument, I would suggest that we give the pups a chance to have a word on their own.  It may sound gruff or threatening to us, but to dogs it’s the only language they know, and it is actually a quite effective one that usually ends in a mutually peaceful agreement.

Posted in Furry Friends



Much time and money is spent figuring out what our pets are trying to tell us.  My dogs seem to devote just as much effort trying to figure out what I am saying to them.   “Go,” “Treat,” “Walk,” “Outside,” “Hungry,” and “Cookie” are very popular words around here.  But every now and then I think they know a little more than they let on.

One day, trying to get Barney out of the car, I clicked my tongue and said, “C’mon boy!”  No go.  He looked at me like I was patronizing him.  So I reasoned with him.  “You know, if you wouldn’t mind getting out of the car, I can close the door and carry this stuff into the house.”  He stood up and stepped out of the car.

Another time Sabbath wanted me to pick up the ball and throw it.  I was, to her dismay, too lazy . . er, uh . . . comfortable in my chair to get up and get the ball.  I tried exciting her, my voice getting higher with each exclamation.  “Go get it!  Get the ball!  Get the ball!”  I tried coaxing her.  “Bring mama the ball, baby.”  Finally it was the heart to heart that did it.  Again I used reasoning.  “Tell you what.  That ball is not going to throw itself.  If you want to chase it, you’re probably going to have to go over there, pick it up and bring it over here.”  So she did.

. . . And so I’ve learned not to humiliate them with puppy-talk.

Overheard around our dog/human family:

“Aren’t you done sniffing that bush yet?  Honestly, Barney.  NOTHING smells THAT good.”frisbee

“Please don’t look so sad when I go to work.  Someone has to bring home the kibble and I don’t see either of you getting off your butts.”  *pointing finger back and forth between them*

“Okay, who pooped right outside the back door?  Who DOES that?”

“Do I look like I want to throw a Frisbee right now?”

“Sabbie, you really ought to play a little hard-to-get with Gus next door.  You don’t want to give him the wrong impression.”

“You know I can’t resist you when you look at me like that, don’t you?”

“Why did you bark at that dog like that?  Did he give you the stink-eye?  I bet that’s what it was, wasn’t it?  He gave you the stink-eye!”

And to the small terrier trying to hump the Great Dane at the dog park?

” ‘At a boy.  Go big or go home!”


Posted in Furry Friends

Valleyfair for Dogs

At the Dog Park

The dog park is like Valleyfair for dogs.  If you aren’t from Minnesota, replace “Valleyfair” with Legoland, Six Flags, or Disneyland.  Basically, you’re looking at an amusement park for dogs.  On the way there, they sit on the edge of their seats, look out the front window and whine, “Are we there yet?”


Barney is an old boy.  He wasn’t always old.  Like myself, Barney once loved to run when he managed to get free.  He would glide gracefully over bushes, streak across the occasional golf course, and could stop on a dime for a good sniff in the grass.  At the dog park, he now ambles clumsily with a stiff back and old paws.  But if you look closely, you can still see the wild in his eyes.

Barney has taken on the role of the official greeter at the park.  Whenever we stop at a bench, a field, or the swimmin’ hole, he wanders around waiting for newcomers.  Tail wagging, he puts his one ear up and jogs over to say hello, which entails both nose- and butt-sniffing.

Official Greeter

When the greeting business is slow, he goes exploring.  Off in the high brush, he imagines he is a lone wolf who has been lost from his pack.  Sometimes, the only clues we have to his whereabouts are the rustlings in the woods, or the movement of the grasses.  Other times, it is a black tail or the one ear flagging his bearings.  On one of our recent trips, we saw him bouncing — something I hadn’t seen since he was a pup — through the grass, tail waving wildly, nose pointed downward.  There were tiny toads all over the park and Barney was determined to play!


Sabbath is the pup at only a year and half of age.  She is also smaller by about 25 pounds, maybe more.  She is named after the band, not the day of religious observance.  The only time she shows awareness of the other dogs at the park is when she thinks they are after her ball.  She lives for the catch.

Sabbath’s favorite part of Valleyfair is the waterpark.  Other human park-dwellers have recorded her water maneuvers.  Proud, we imagine them showing the video at home for proof of this amazing animal they saw that day.  Young children squeal with delight when she cannonballs in the water!  While Barney is our steadfast canine companion, Sabbath is clearly our entertainment.



Photos taken at Battlecreek Regional Park

Just like any other trip to Valleyfair, the “kids” will often sleep on the way home.  Not a peep — just stinky, happy dogs!  At home the parents wearily put all the gear away before crashing on the couch for an hour.  Dinner is quiet, the pups are calm and go to bed early.

The next day the parents are wakened to bumps along the side of the bed.  It’s the “kids” asking when is everyone getting up and . . . . “Can we go to Valleyfair again?

Barney & Sabbie
“Can We Go to Valleyfair?”