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.