Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Our sweet pup has been under the weather, first with some tummy trouble and more recently an eye problem. Both are resolving, thankfully. Chief is a tuff dog, but I worry when he is unwell. J would say I worry too much. But such is my nature. I'm a mom.
We are very fortunate to have a veterinarian who knows Malinois and is a true dog lover. The staff and doctors know Chief (and me) almost too well, but they are all very kind and patient. More than once they have worked us in for an appointment at the last minute. I raise a cheer to my vet, Dr. B., and a second cheer to the kind people at our Pet Hospital!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"A barking dog is often more useful than a sleeping lion." - Washington Irving

It's Saturday and our pack is worn out from the week. I have been substitute teaching more which translates to more play time for our Boy. It's just before 2 p.m. here. Chief is asleep by the couch, J is on his iPad and watching the Longhorns slaughter Texas Tech, and I am, well, blogging. 
What have I learned from my dog this week?  That you can have too much play. Always full of energy, when I bring home Boy after I leave work, he shows very little interest in playing. His routine upon arriving home: walk in the door, drag over to the water bowl, drink for a couple of minutes (I've determined he doesn't stop to drink water when he plays during the day), walk over to the treat cabinet, take the treat I give him to the couch or bed, and settle with a groan or "humph." After that, he naps. He's SO lethargic I start to worry he's sick. Typically he settles either on the couch or on our bed, his way of saying he may be down for the count for the day. I have to coax him out for a walk, and even when we walk he is at a slow pace and tends to walk like an older dog. Too much play.
But he recovers by the next day usually, full of excitement when we wake. It's as if he's saying, "Wow! It's Morning! Wow! It's time for a walk! Wow!... You get the picture. 
As I'm finishing today's post, it is now afternoon and the temperature is a very nice, fall-like 70 out. It's breezy and sunny with some clouds so our Pack has moved outside. Off went the TV, dinner is stewing on the stove thanks to my chef J, and we are comfortable in our chairs out by the pool. Since Chief is still showing some signs of being tired from yesterday, we have put his tennis balls away so he can doze on his bed out here. Peace and quiet except for the rustle of blowing leaves and the wind chimes by my house. 

Two at Play
I'm so happy that Fall has finally started inching into our area. The temperatures are settling in the high 60s to low 70s with some rain in our future (I hope). Leaves are turning gradually; there's a crispness to the air on most mornings. I want to settle in with my sweet boys by me. I want to plan for the holidays and decorate early so that nothing is left until the last minute. I want to clean out the clutter of my house so that all things precious remain inside. But for now, I'll relax outside by the pool with my most precious ones, Chief and J.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween from my little devil

I managed a quick pic of my favorite pup this afternoon as I was setting up for trick-or-treaters. I found this little set of devil horns at Walgreens and bought them specifically for Boy to surprise J. I took a picture here, and there, and have also posted one or two to my Facebook page. Chief was patient but so puzzled about what I was putting on his noggin.
He won't be greeting any dressed up children this evening as the doorbell sets him off. I usually set up a little candy display outside with a sign asking that kids be generous with other trick-or-treaters by taking only two or three pieces. We'll see how honest they are this year.
Here's wishing you all a safe and happy Halloween. Don't eat too much candy! By my next post I'll be ready for Thanksgiving... I love Fall.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language." ~ Martin Buber

Chief has brown eyes. Certainly not uncommon or arresting as eye colors go, but when I look into his brown eyes, there is a knowing. A sense of understanding that can set my heart either to rest or to racing. If it's play or wrestle I seek, I can make a slight change of facial expression and he knows. Those eyes miss nothing. If I'm battling another migraine and feel nothing but frustration with the pain, his eyes are patient and soft. Play can wait, for now. And if I and my hubby are resting, his eyes may be closed but he is still watchful, still careful to protect.

Surely God made this amazing creature just for us!

"Am I camouflaged?"
Right now, my Boy's brown eyes are so drowsy with sleep. He has been awake and playful most of this Saturday. With the Pack all together, he has had plenty of time with his favorite person, J, and more treats than a usual day holds. Our Watcher is going to take an afternoon nap.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It has been too long since my last post. I have learned to just accept that my writing comes to me when it comes. Some days it's feast, other days it's famine.
In looking at my July post, I was beyond ready for cooler weather. Who could blame me with the triple digit temperatures our area was contending with. Several months passed with temps averaging 105 degrees. Our power bill showed 102 degrees as the average temperature for June, so you can imagine what July and August bore. Now it is the middle of October and we are finally showing signs of cooling. Our high tomorrow is 85, and I'm okay with that although I'd prefer the 70's myself.
Chief has shown a preference for cooler weather too as he can play longer without over-heating. He has become more gray in his beard these past months. At only 4 1/2 years old, it makes him look older. Now, J and I have noticed a tiny white spot almost between his eyes on his snout. It's getting bigger; more gray coming. But what a wonderful dog he is. He is still a puppy at play (especially with J) as well as a more confident companion. His love for chasing evil squirrels is unmatched. However, now that we have spotted a couple of armadillos during our early morning walks, he is beside himself wanting to know what those weird looking, squatty creature are. I want absolutely nothing to do with them.
My Boy smiles.
Our weekends are spent as a pack. The mornings start outside by the pool playing or reading, or both. J makes coffee and often lets me sleep in while he takes care of Boy. While we run errands later in the day, we have been able to leave Chief out of his crate for short periods of the time. We are very careful about this since "Maligators" can be very destructive if left unsupervised for too long. So far, so good.
Now as our weekend winds down, Monday is just a few hours away and I am substitute teaching. Boy will have his fun puppy time, but I do miss him when I work. I suppose I like my homebody routine during the week with him. But isn't being apart what makes us appreciate and enjoy that time together all the more? When we are all together watching a movie or sitting outside, I can look over at my boys and think, "This is happiness."

What makes you happy? For me, happiness is:
1. J (after 18 years of marriage, this hasn't changed).
2. Waking up and realizing I got to sleep in.
3. Having someone cook for me. 
4. Completing the list of things I have to do.
5. Chief 
6. A clean house.
7. Folding laundry.
8. Smelling fresh-cut grass or burning leaves.
9. J laughing.
10. Earning money for my family. 
11. Clean sheets on the bed.
12. Laughing til I cry (doesn't happen nearly enough).
13. Visiting with family.
14. Pack time.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ready for a change

Is anyone out there ready for a change like I am? 
For the 18th consecutive day, the temps here in Texas are in the triple digits and there is no relief in sight as we are only half-way through July. We are also suffering from a severe drought. These harsher conditions aren't easy on Chief but he fares SO much better than I do lately. And I am ready for Fall! I am a huge fan of the Autumn season with all its colors and changes. The shift in cooler, more crisp air make romping outside with the Boy so much more enjoyable. Then there is the fall decorations which hit the stores followed by Halloween candy and costumes and yard ornaments - oh my! 
So here's to change! May it come sooner rather than later. I'm not just speaking for myself but for my dear puppy as well.
Can't you just smell the fresh fall air?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My blog is intended to help me remember. I can't remember every thing but I can keep a record to help me and my hubby look back fondly at our journey as a pack with Chief. I expect one day in the future, the far distant future I hope, I will not remember the past. We all forget details of our lives as nature takes it toll, and I've noticed this past year it has become more frequent for me.
My biggest fear is that I will be a victim of Alzheimer's which runs in my mother's family. If that is the case, this blog will not matter at all, but, if old age starts to dampen my memory, I will be able to read this blog and have my Chief right by my side once again. I will be able to laugh at his quirks and sweet personality while marveling at what an awesome dog he was (is). His facial expressions, fondness for food and treats, joy from being with his J, and his affectionate leaning into me are so tangible, I just can't imagine a time without him. But I know sadly there will be. The pictures are of the greatest value to me, and I'm sure J as well.
What I have here is the chronicling of a faithful, loving friend who will forever occupy a large space in my heart.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Good Time Was Had By All

Our pack enjoyed a three-day weekend thanks to America's Independence day. We're pretty low-key so playing in the pool and grilling out was the height of our excitement. And the fireworks. Fireworks set puppy off just like thunder, only worse if that's possible. 
So we are all together, tuckered out and bedded down. My favorite place to be.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I'm just doin' my job, ma'am.

I sometimes grow impatient when my sweet but fierce dog is simply doing his job. Living in Texas, we are fortunate enough to have a pool. A salt water pool. It was built in 1999 and is in remarkably good condition, but a milky white ring has formed around the pebble-tech finish along with calcium deposits around some of the rocks. After researching solutions and calling several pool companies, I found someone to come out and solve the problem. Surprisingly, it wasn't easy either.
I contemplated taking Boy for a play day at Benny's because I knew he would be on high alert watching some stranger lurking in the backyard for a few hours. BARKING continuously, running around in the house announcing the intruder until finally the intruder leaves. Over the years, I like to think I've build up a tolerance to it, but if I'm being honest, I'm not able to shut out the barking and mayhem for very long.  And I do want anyone working in our yard or around our house to know that I have a large, tightly-wound dog that is willing and able to protect me. But the barking!
So this morning, as I calmed Chief when the pool technician walked around the yard, moving this and that, bringing in equipment and generally working, I reminded myself Chief is just doing his job. I chant it to myself: he's just doing his job, he's just doing his job. And he is very good at his job. As I sit on the couch, he hops up and stands over me, leaning in close, watching Tate - the pool tech - out the back windows. Chief growls and watches closely. To me this feels very good, very comforting. I love this dog. Saying those simple words sounds so common, but I can't express how much I feel for this dog who looms so protectively over my lap. I watch him just as closely as he watches outside. He is a breath-taking beautiful animal. I never doubt him. Never.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our good neighbors recently adopted a puppy from Operation Kindness here in Texas. Holly, a mixed breed, is such a sweet soul. She took to me so fast, it was puppy love at first sight. We visit whenever time, and the heat, permits. While I love to take Chief for our visits, I secretly wish for time with Holly-girl and me only.
She's got such a sweet face. 
Holly grows every day and will soon be the same size, if not bigger than Chief.  As of right now, our boy sees Holly as a bit of a nuisance but one day soon I suspect he will be dumb-struck with either love or friendship for the girl next door.
A play-date between friends.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

There is no "Over the Hill" in this house.

Another birthday has cheerfully come and gone, celebrated and honored by my pack. The day started with a fantastic breakfast made by my sweet hubby and was followed by a day of relaxing, swimming, eating and laughing. I've always enjoyed my birthdays, especially after I met and married J. When it comes to wishing me a happy birthday, he truly "gets" it. He has always wanted to mark the day to make it special for me. Love that man.
This year, Chief did his part by giving me a gift and card. Very sweet. His gift was a practical, yet bejeweled purse hook. For those of you who have never heard of such a thing, it's a literally a hook to hang your purse off a table in a restaurant. I have to say, I was a bit surprised he'd had the time to order my gift and pick up a card. He's a very busy guy. Plus, wrapping it without thumbs had to be complicated.
Now that I am 42 and our boy is four - he shares my birthday - we are embarking on another year of chasing our happiness. We will delight in every opportunity to play and work while looking with wonder at those experiences which fascinate us. Don't we all want to wallow in the delight of a sunny day, look for new challenges close by or far away, or just take a lazy afternoon nap? Of course there will be rainy days and slower, more thoughtful days when we will might struggle, but we will forever be together as a pack.
The Boy is stretched out on the couch napping beside me. Once I get up, it's game-on! A new year has begun so let the adventures begin!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Managed to capture these images of a storm as it approached us in Carrollton.
 Going from bad to worse.
 No photoshop here. Spring and summer here are volatile and destructive. We made it thru this one!
I swear it almost looks like a scene out of a science fiction movie where aliens invade our atmosphere. Did I just tell on myself a little?

Summer arrives and the Thundershirt makes an appearance.

Did you hear it thunder last night? Chief heard it, oh man did he hear it. Many pets tend to fear thunderstorms to the point of shaking, whimpering, hiding, and worse. As J and I have learned about our dear dog, he doesn't fear it whatsoever. Instead he interprets thunder as an intruder trying to get in the house and since he is trained to protect us from such a threat, thunderstorms are dreadful for us all. 
I used to enjoy thunderstorms. The smell and sound of rainfall, the flashes of lightening and the darkness a storm brings always made me feel safe which sounds ironic but it is what it is. I like the feeling of safety that comes from being warm and dry in my home while the weather rages outside. However, now I know if it storms at night, which it almost always does here in Texas, sleep will take a distant second to Boy's wild barking and running around the house with his hackles up. And he literally runs around in the house - the floor plan of our house is a circle. His mighty "back off or I'll kill you" bark keeps us up until the storm has entirely passed. The thunder is bad enough but just imagine when it hails! 
To find a solution, I researched non-medicated methods of relief for those poor animals who are traumatized by violent weather. I came up with (play Superman music here) "THE THUNDERSHIRT!" 
The Thundershirt is a soft wrap with velcro that you wrap snugly around the body of a dog. This type of swaddling is similar to what comforts newborns when they are tightly wrapped in a blanket. So last night, the Thundershirt was produced and Boy was wrapped. So can you guess what happened? Here's a hint: J and I are exhausted because from 2:30 - 6 a.m. our dog was running around our house in his mighty Thundershirt barking his heart out trying to keep the storm from breaking into our home. I'm not saying the product doesn't work or wouldn't work for many dogs who suffer from fear of thunder. But think twice if your dog is already a super hero that needs no fashionable accessories. 
Nevertheless, summer has arrived without subtlety and we're in line for another round of storms this evening. At this very moment you wouldn't know our pup gets so very fierce. He is sacked out beside me on our couch, his long deer-like legs stretched fully out for maximum comfort. He is safe and sound, relaxed after a long day of playing, walking, and generally just being my best furry buddy. We're happy and we're home.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Heaven forbid I should go missing, but I pray God I have cheese on me if I do.

Because the heat is just too much to expose our pup to for long periods of time, he gets easily bored. Being Sunday, our pack is all together enjoying the AC and some peace and quiet. After watching a movie, Chief became restless, went to the back patio door and stood, waiting. He wanted to go out to play, however, when we opened the door for him, he wouldn't budge. Opening that door felt like opening an oven door. It's 105 degrees at 4 p.m. on June 19th. Summer hasn't even officially arrived.
In situations such as this, I have come up with a great way to exercise his mind as well as his body. A game of Find the Cheese.  Our good Boy loves him some cheese. To him, it's as good as ball. As a matter of fact, I think he would pass up ball for a piece of cheese. I don't give him cheese that often, and only as a treat/ incentive, so it works very well for this working game. Since I had hubby home today, instead of just hiding the cheese somewhere in the house for Chief to find, I hid with a piece of cheese while Jay "sent" him. It's amazing to watch him work this way, but even more fun to be the one found. Granted I have stinky cheese with me, but I like to feel as though he would find me without it. His reward is the cheese and our praise. Oh how excited he gets when he finds me!
J and I marvel at Boy's instincts. We are proud of him and love him dearly. I sometimes joke that Chief is J as a dog because they share so many qualities. I like to think I'm the buffer, the soother, the calm one. Yet I feed off of both's energy. And I LEARN from them. They both solidify my loyalty and tenacity. Had I a fraction of their ability to stick to anything, I would be a much more confident person. I will just keep working on that. In this way, I suppose while I am challenging Boy, he is doing the same for me. Besides, who wants to be bored in life? And life with my two guys is anything but boring. Sometimes it's work, sometimes it's play, and for Chief it almost always is both.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

If I know you, my dog may know you. Otherwise, you're a stranger.

Chief's not giving in to the unbearable heat here in Texas. As for me, well I wouldn't refuse a nap this afternoon. However, like Chief, I feel like I'm missing out if I sleep away valuable daylight hours. Does our dog ever sneak naps? Absolutely. But as soon as I or J make a move to a different room, Chief is alert and on the move with us. That is his way, his instinct, and in short, his job. It took time for me to adjust to having a constant shadow, but I wouldn't know how to feel comfortable without him now. Chief is a pack-oriented dog, as Malinois tend to be. This is why they make such good personal protection dogs. They have a strong instinct to protect their people, and I'm honored to be one of Chief's people.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Patience: (n) quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care

Living in a place like Texas will make you more patient. This time of year, the humid heat starts squeezing all the enjoyment of sitting on the patio, and I could tolerate that if the season didn't also bring with it insects. If you know me, you know I am a patient person. I have been molded as such by life, but I feel it's part of the fabric with which the good Lord stitched me together. However, after suffering from a rash of chigger bites this week, I'm about ready to board up my bedroom windows and stay in until the oppressive heat of this five month season passes. The severe itching and pain of the bites is only compounded by the extreme heat (at 9:20 a.m. it is 90 degrees).
J and I "enjoying" the sun.
My hubby and I are opposites in many ways related to this topic: he is a professed sun worshipper, I shy from too much sun. While the heat exhausts us both, he can last longer. We both love the pool, and while he can read for hours floating in the water, I can't last that long in the sun. Bugs here ignore him whereas I am eaten like cake. The bugs and heat tend to irritate me, thus I have a very weak chink in my patient armor. 
I suppose I always thought myself to be the patient partner in our house. Of the three of us, I figured I was number one, and our pup trades places for second with J depending on the day. But once summer comes barking, I've decided I'll give myself permission to place dead last.  Patience is no virtue. It's a hard-earned reward.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

When the chips are down...

Thought I would post evidence of this morning's playground incident:
Some of Chief's handy work.

"If your dog doesn't like somebody, you probably shouldn't either."

It has been a long while since I posted here, but something so unusual happened this morning that I wanted to post a record of it.
Typically, random accidents present themselves to me, not my hubby, but as my dear man was playing with Chief this morning, they clashed - Chief's snout landed hard against hubby's mouth. The "pop" sound I heard from the adjoining room was followed by a loud "OW!" so I knew someone got hurt. My husband and I are now conditioned to such accidents involving the dog because we have had our share of injuries. As posted at an earlier date on my blog, we have suffered black eyes, bloody noses, bruises - you get the picture. So when one of us gets hurt our initial question always follows: "Are you okay?" The injured one usually says, "Yeah. Chief just hit me (fill in the blank)." Not so this morning. Hubby sat up with a bloodied lip and teeth and said, "Chief chipped my tooth." He bared his teeth to show a noticeable chipped front left tooth where his perfect smile had just been. I managed to hold back any trace of a smile because I knew that was a painful accident, and J seemed distressed. Having had a chipped tooth as a girl, I knew what a dentist could do to fix the problem. As he checked himself in the bathroom mirror I assured him I would get him a dentist appointment as soon as possible, AND told him I had to get a picture. Without missing a beat he rinsed out his mouth and I snapped a couple of photos.  He went to work with his newly chipped tooth and a cut upper lip. Poor guy.
No matter how careful we try to be or the caution we take while goofing around with our sweet Boy, accidents are going to happen. Will it stop us from the play? Heavens no! I know come this evening when J gets home, he and Chief will be horsing around again, only with a bit more care. You see, Chief and J are puppy soul mates. They know each other very well. I'm almost convinced they knew each other long before they met a few years ago. And I am also confident they will be together in heaven. Jay has told me as such himself. I will be there too of course, whether it is before or after is in God's mighty hands.
I have experienced many "accidents" but am solely invested in God's all-knowing guidance for my life. This includes my husband's as well. Our pack members have come up against its share of challenges, as everyone has, and it is this comforting knowledge that helps us bear the victories, defeats, and all the in-betweens. J and I are currently awaiting some important news which will bring more change to our lives. The ever-present question right now is will we or won't we? It hovers back there in my brain leaving traces of hope and excitement, but I am also bracing myself for a let-down of sorts. If that let-down comes my way, my comfort will be in knowing God wanted us where we are. He is ultimately our Father, and a good, loving father wants only the best for his children. So, are there really "accidents" which occur? Accidents, luck, good fortune...or God's will and all-knowing power? Well, I know the path I follow. God is good and I am blessed beyond what I deserve. Broken teeth and all.