February 9, 2016

White Dog softly said, "I am not sure whether you want to shout YES! or NO!! right now, momma." I was looking at the stuffing pulled from the pillow on the couch and the hole in the fabric. Scattered like spaghetti were strands of the tassels that surrounded the edges.

WD was right; I wasn't sure. There is that moment in forming a relationship with a rescue dog, especially one who has had a particularly hard life, when you KNOW they finally are beginning to understand and trust. It is that moment that they begin to LIVE their new lives...they stopping treading on eggshells and flinching at nothing.  It is a fragile delicate window that is the difference between a bloom beginning to unfurl and reinforcing caution that keeps the pup at the edge of truly being part of the family.

"I know it is not fair," I told WD, "but there is a different standard in play here. What would not be acceptable for you I think shows that progress is being made with Opal. She must learn to trust before she can learn to respect the rules."

I was beyond thrilled earlier in the day when I glanced up from the budget work I was doing to discover Opal had braved jumping up on the fainting couch. I tried not to notice too obviously but she was stretched out and relaxed. A while later some call of the Army in the yard sent her scurrying out the dog door. I am not sure she even knew I had observed her. But there she was, confident enough and trusting enough to be ON the couch without an easy escape route. I smiled to myself.

Before he left for work, Steve asked about the strings all over the couch. I had my suspicions but let him sweep them together without answering.

Opal was unusually interactive across the afternoon and evening, checking on me in the office, coming close enough to touch my outstretched hand with her nose and reclaiming some couch time. It was natural and not intimidating as the White Dogs shifted and resettled in typical fashion.

Shortly before Steve's return, we all went back out to the living room where I discovered the mangled pillow. None of the others have shown any interest since WD went through a tassel chewing frenzy right after we bought the fainting couch years ago. The new factor was Opal's discovery.

I saw her watching from the hallway at the edge of the pack's action. She clearly was waiting for my response. I looked at her. "Did you enjoy napping on the couch, Sparkling Girl," I asked her gently. "You looked so comfy and natural. It was nice to see you spending time with us." She looked pointedly at the pillow. In the same tone I continued, "You probably did not have toys or chewy things at the Puppy Mill. We will have to make sure we get you some toys of your very own to enjoy."

She seemed tentative, as if she was thinking it through. Then she moved calmly into the room, tail curled over her back, ears erect...and jumped up on the couch next to Nilla.


February 8, 2016

White Dog cuddled against me. She had asked for a post breakfast story time and had requested an old favorite. The rest of The White Dog Army settled around us in a half circle. It was a precious sight...YoYoMa had curled his paws around three-legged blue bunny...Zsofia held her precious Dragon...and Sachi rested his head on the little green tennis ball. I was reading what they already knew by heart.

We read for some time. Each time I thought my audience had drifted off to nap and started to close the book. White Dog nudged me to continue. Then the mailman came and I was put on hold as the song was sung and mail brought into the house.

All the pups flocked to the box that come from the online store where we order roasted nuts. This order also included a special treat for Steve and the WDA, yogurt covered pretzels. Only White Dog passed up the delicious smells and curiously nosed the other box. It was from our most amazing family of the heart, Sonya.

Sonya had been Ferguson's foster mom and when we adopted him into the White Dog family, we adopted her. The box contained a gift for White Dog.

"Me?" White Dog said, genuinely surprised. "What is it?" "Well, let's look together," I told her and suddenly the entire WDA was interested.

The box was a nest of sparkling tissue paper and WD had to reach deep inside to find the most amazing gift. It was a small white, well loved, Queenly White Dog stuffie. White Dog looked at me, her eyes shining. "It is like the Rabbit," she said. The Queenly pup wore a beautiful crown and a sash of lovely kind thoughts. White Dog gave a soft growl as Zsofia tried to reach for the gift.

Sonya's card rested in the very bottom of the box.  "Dogs," the front said, "have a way of teaching us love, loyalty, joy and friendship."

The handwritten note inside spoke to White Dog. "This is a gift to White Dog, Siku Marie, Little White Dog of Sue's heart, Sue's Daemon, "Cotton Blowing in the Wind"...the matriarch and Queen of the White Dog Army. Watch over your soldiers and ease their fears when it is time to leave us. Watch them closely and love them unconditionally as they do you. Love, Sonya."

White Dog sat with me for a long time with a paw on the Queen pup and a far away look. Finally she turned to me. "Momma where can we set this beautiful gift where I can see it and ask you to let me hold it but the others won't take it and play without understanding?" "Let us think on the best place," I told her, "but for now, how about if we place her on my desk where she can watch over you all night?" "But she needs a proper special place," WD insisted, "because she has 'become' and is so full of love."

Thank you, Sonya, for filling the heart of one little white dog on the frontier...and her momma.

February 7, 2016

White Dog and The White Dog Army wish all of our friends a Happy New Year, The Year of the Monkey! We wish you 恭喜发财 / 恭喜發財 (Gōngxǐ fācái) 'Happiness and prosperity!'


February 6, 2016

White Dog continued to sit on the fainting couch. "Where is Puff? Show me, Baby Girl." I looked to Sachi and then the others, "Come on you guys where is she. We can hear her but..." Steve had his flashlight and was looking under and behind even the most impossible places. Every couple of minutes, Puff would utter her "Help me I am stuck" trill (she does not really bark much any more, it is more of a soft moan). I was starting to become alarmed.

Zsofia came in and sat on the huge dog bed stuffed under the far edge of the couch next to the wall. "Did you pass on your Houdini magic to Puffers?" I asked her. "Where is she!" Zso stood up on the bed and looked through the narrow crack between the leg of the couch and the wall itself. "Nice try, Sweetie," Steve told her "but I already looked under there four times. She is not there."

Something in every pup's focus on that area finally clicked. "Pull the bed out," I said to Steve. It was not an easy task; the big fluffy mastiff sized bed is wedged under the seat quite a way back but Steve wiggled and pulled at it. And as he did we heard Puff sigh again. "She 's there somehow!" he cried muscling the last of the mattress out.

There she stood, not behind the dog bed as we thought, but rather, stuck between the wall and the sofa end. The curved feet of the couch when snugged up against the complicated old-fashioned baseboard moulding leaves a gap between the wall and the actual sofa of less than six inches.

As part of the aging process our Little Old Lady sometimes seems to seek out impossible places to just stand in...like the vegetable storage or behind the bathroom door. Somehow she was attracted this night to that sliver of comfort but then could not get out. She was hidden from Steve's searching by the dog bed and was too far back in the nook to be noticed standing there.

Steve gently extracted her and held her close. "Baby Girl," you had us all worried." he told her before handing her into my arms. I cradled her and brushed the dust bunnies off of her legs. I looked at White Dog, "Not a word about housekeeping. None of you! Thank you all for helping but you must remember we humans can be pretty dense. Next time do not be so cryptic... loud bark, a point, a wagging tail would be much appreciated."

Steve petted Puff's head. "Not that we WANT a next time."


February 5, 2016

White Dog jumped out of the way. "Oh-oh, I think Sachi is going to be sick," she announced as she cleared space enough for Steve to grab him and try to run outside...but not quite fast enough...the Little Man upchucked about three feet from the door.

We knew our Happy Boy was not feeling well. All day he had avoided wrestling despite Pearl's repeated invitations to play. He sniffed breakfast and walked away. Lying on momma's blanket with his head on my feet was the location of choice for most of the afternoon.

Steve even had to bribe him to eat just a few bites of rice and broth at dinner time and although his head said "yes!" to treats Sachi just lamely took them and set them down at his feet.

"Poor Baby," we told him at bedtime as he crawled to the end of the bed and sighed heavily. "a good night's sleep and you will be MUCH better by morning." Then it was lights out.

Sometime during the night, I felt Sachi jump off the bed rather frantically and head out of the dog door. He seemed gone a long time before Zsofia led him back in and woke me to let me know that he needed attention.  Zsofia?

I sat up and picked up the Little Guy. He was wet and sticky at his back side. I gently said Steve's name trying to wake him without panic. Zsofia felt I was not dealing with the situation quickly enough. She jumped on the bed and stood on Steve, wooing in his face.

"What is she doing out?" he asked as he came to consciousness. "She is trying to tell you we need to look at Sachi."

We turned on the light and discovered our glickie sickie one had experienced an explosive digestive tract and was quite a mess. He was even a bit bloody. Reassuring Steve and Zso not to panic that it most likely was a side effect of the diarrhea, I explained that we WOULD have to give him a bath, right then in the middle of the night. Poor Sachi was clearly exhausted from his body's rebellion but he put up with being soaped and washed and cleaned. He fell asleep wrapped in towels as I dried him. We put one of Puff's sweatshirts on because I worried he would be cold since his furs were still damp. And then we turned to Zsofia.

"How?' Steve asked her. Once again the kennel was still locked. I took a different approach. "I know you are worried about your best friend, Sweet Girl. You were VERY smart to figure out how to come to his aid." With that Steve returned her to her suite, and shut off the light.

It only took the sound of Sachi softly moaning in his sleep to lure Zso back out...only this time we were waiting. Steve has always only locked the top latch of two on the kennel door. Our girl went to the bottom corner and pushed with her nose. The crate door gave enough that she could slip her head out. She twisted like a contortionist until her shoulders were free and then heaved her back legs through. It was efficient and silent. She stood at the end of the bed with her head against Sachi.

"Come on, precious one! You can sleep next to your friend tonight to make sure he is all right." It was more crowded than usual but she wrapped herself around Sachmo and soon all were asleep.
Sachi was feeling better in the morning but still not quite back to normal.
He wanted to keep the sweatshirt on. "Thinks it makes him look gangsta," White Dog said.


February 4, 2016

White Dog was annoyed that the package was still next to the chair, blocking the view from her fortress behind the seats. The package arrived yesterday but in the passing of the day, it was forgotten there.

Puff had a restless night and fussed even during a special late night TV session especially meant to prepare her for a night's sleep. I had vivid dreams of Ferguson stirring on his mat in the bathroom only to find Sachi sleeping there in the warm room when I got out of bed to check. Steve was feeling overwhelmed.

Puff was senior wobbly and Sachi very uncharacteristically subdued. We all have these kinds of mornings or afternoons that seem grey instead of bright. Noticing it anew, I picked up the box and cut the packing tape, not really even looking at the return address. 

My day was changed in the time it took to lift this beautiful blanket and see the special tribute to Ferguson, our Lover of Life.  The WDA crowded around to sniff and see. I called Steve to join us.

There was a special note from Lynne explaining that "this blanket was made with love and prayers in memory of Ferguson Amat Vitam. Additional prayers were lifted by the Fur Angel Blessing Blanketeers. Our hearts go out to Ferguson's family, and we pray that the pain of his loss will soon ease. thank you for taking care of and loving the seniors." 

I do not know Lynne Grubb or the amazing Fur Angel Blessing Blanketeers but I want them to know how their generous act of kindness filled my soul to overflowing (yes, I cried). That someone(s) were so understanding and loving as to send this beautiful memory blanket reminded me of all the things great about humanity...especially those who love dogs...and even more senior dogs. 

This message could not have come at a better time and will be cherished forever. Thank you from The White Dog Army, Steve, and myself. May the Universe shower you in blessings for your thoughtfulness to our grieving family.


February 3, 2016

White Dog later called it "the White Dog Zombie attack." No one argued with her because they were passed out, sound asleep after breakfast.

Opal often gets up in the night and makes a trip outside. The sound of the dog door clicking hardly penetrated my sleep. I never heard the others follow. Steve was totally in the sound sleep zone and noted nothing unusual until the door banged open with a vengeance and Pearl came flying through the bedroom at zoomie speed.

She was followed by Sachi and Bella, also running at top speed...and Zsofia who took a shortcut across the top of the bed to close the gap between her and her sibling. She was wooing up a storm.

Zsofia? I nudged Steve as the thundering train came back through the bedroom and crashed back outside. By the time he awakened enough for me to ask about the Darkest White One, the group was making a reentry, still at the speed of light. I heard them all go into the office (their only option since we close off the living room wing at night), skid to a stop, spin around, and head back out. Now, YoYoMa joined them.

"Steve? Did you kennel Zso tonight?" "Huh? Yeah, of course." "Well she and the others are out in the yard...no here they come...barrelling through the house." "Are you sure?" I did not need to answer as they came through yet again, running and barking like lunatics.

I heard White Dog complain in the office. "They are waking everyone in the house; they are crazy and super energized." Steve had scooted to the end of the bed. "The kennel is still locked," he told me. "So how does your baby happen to be..." she jumped up on the bed to greet Steve..."sitting on the bed with us?"

"And what is with everyone doing zoomies NOW?" Opal finally made an appearance. Seemed that she had been avoiding the whole event and had been waiting for a moment of calm to come in from a simple potty break.

The Zombie Pack, YoYoMa, Sachi, Bella, and Pearl were sitting at my feet as if expecting treats. Zso nosed the treat jar on the headboard in case I had not gotten the message.

"You nut cases wake us in the middle of the night tearing through the house for what? Because you want treats? Really?" I asked. They seemed to find no flaw in their plan. "And how did you get out, Baby Girl?" Steve asked Zsofia. "Instead of an answer she licked his face and lay down in his lap.

"Honestly," I told them. "You are getting ONE treat and then it is back to sleep." I reached for the treat jar. Suddenly ALL the White Dogs were awake and WD trotted in from the office. "ONE! And then good night! And I mean all of you."


February 2, 2016

White Dog asked me, "Do we have Ground Hogs in New Mexico?" It was early and it was warm under the covers so I did what every momma has done at some point in their child's life. I said, "Go ask Dad to look it up for you. He is on the computer." And I curled up deeply in the blankets hoping for a few more minutes of sleep.

It seemed like only seconds before White Dog led Steve, Sachi and Nilla in to sit on the bed to tell me according to learner.com, "Marmot is the Latin name for Groundhog. Woodchuck is the Native North American name for Groundhog. 

Groundhogs live in open fields, open woods, valleys and plains. Some species live in different areas. The Woodchuck lives in Alaska to Quebec to British Columbia to the south east U.S." It seems that New Mexico is Groundhog-less. "OK. Great work," I told them and tried to turn over. White Dog stopped me.

"There's more. The head and body of the Groundhog are 40-50 cm. The tail is 10-17.5cm and the average weight of a Groundhog 2.2-4.5 kilograms. Groundhogs have a heavy body, they're short legged and their fur colours are brown, red or black except for albinos like Wiarton Willie. Their fur has a slightly frosted appearance. Their feet are either black or brown the groundhogs don't have any white on their fur, only around their nose.

"All Groundhogs have 22 teeth to eat with. They have a blunt nose, short ears and a bushy tail. Most of the groundhogs have coarse fur. They have black or brown eyes . All Groundhog males are mostly bigger then females.

"Most Groundhogs live up to 4-5 years. In the autumn the Groundhogs get an extra layer of fat to keep them warm in the winter while hibernating. Groundhogs are also warm blooded."

"Absolutely astonishing. Did you hear that YoYoMa?" He, too was trying to sleep on the other side of the bed; he had hidden his head under the blanket spill on the floor.

"This is kind of interesting," Steve added, clearly into fact finding about rodents in the wee hours of the day. "They have two burrows. One for the summer and one for the winter. Their burrows have a spy hole up top to survey the land, a toilet chamber up top so that the vapors can escape through the ground without making the burrow smell, and a nest. Groundhogs can often be seen surveying the land from their spy hole. When the Groundhogs select the area for their burrow they prefer a soft grassy area with a little bit of a slope and lots of leaves around the burrow to provide food.Seems they are tidy and kind of clever." "Hmmmmmmm."

"Alas," White Dog concluded, "the closest we come is a distant relative called the Yellow Bellied Marmot. And I don't think anyone really cares if he sees his shadow. Well, thought you would want to know. Go back to sleep."

And then they were gone. I heard Yo sigh and let out a slow breath. "Finally."


February 1, 2016

White Dog pulled Steve into the room to take a photo. "New month, new progress," she captioned as he snapped. Others in the White Dog Army had different taglines:

"You said it would not be long until she joined us," Nilla said making room in the crowd.

"Welcome to the Club," muttered Yo, "just remember I am a member and the Founder so I always go first."

"Hey! Not so much!" Pearl.

Today, Opal, our still very shy girl, mustered all of her courage to join the select elite membership of the Share Momma's Coffee Club. Consisting of YoYoMa, Nilla, Benson, Zsofia, Pearl, and on occasion Sachi, the Club meets every morning post-breakfast to share a few sips of heavy cream with a dash of coffee before turning to face the day with confidence.

Opal has been curious and has snuck over when we were alone for a stretched neck sample but today was a full commitment of joining the group, waiting her turn and then  plunging her snooter into the creamy dreamy beverage.

Opal's choice of caption: "Sweet elixer of the dogs, WHERE have you been all of my life!"


January 31, 2016

White Dog said, "What is the saying? January goes out like a crazy lion or something like that?"

We technically had crossed the midnight mark into February but it was still a January night's sleep we were all missing, huddled together on the bed and surrounds at 3:30am.

We had all been blasted to full wakefulness when nature hurled a gale down the mountains at full force without any build up or notice. One moment we were all resting calmly; the next WHAM! windows were rattling, the dog door was banging huge winds were screaming and bullets of ice were attacking every surface of the house. The noise and fury were intimidating. We could see the shadow of our huge old tree in the yard perilously waving its thickest branches like twigs. No one needed my warning for all to please stay inside.

Puff had tried to warn us. Her old sensitive body must have sensed the change in air pressure or some shift occurring because she was restless and reluctant to settle down. In fact, we stayed up half an hour later than normal to cuddle her on the bed and watch an episode of Mozart in the Jungle (usually that puts her into sleepy time mode).

The White Dog Army, Steve and I pulled together tightly, all touching each other and jumping a little at each supercharged volley of hail. Benson tried his best to be a furry block for the swinging dog door until Steve lifted him up to join us on the bed and inserted the metal plate that locks down the door. "Hope nobody needs to go potty for awhile," he said. Their response made it clear that was NOT something Steve needed worry about.

To soothe rattled nerves and to distract the fear, I began to talk about the brave Northern dogs of sledders gone by who faced these same kind of weather crazies. I invited the White Dog Army to curl up around Steve and I (in the blankets and at our sides) as tightly as possible and to tuck tails over noses to conserve body temperature. Zsofia wooed challenges at the wind (she is so much like her momma sometimes) and we all clambered UNDER the blankets making a little WDA cave where we ate a few blueberry treats (you need calories to stay warm on the Tundra, White Dog reminded).

After about an hour and a half the vehemence ended and it began to gently snow. Every pup was exhausted and ready for sleep. Steve opened the dog door, just in case, and everyone took a second to reassure themselves that the winter monster had roared on by peeking outside.

Puff was already snoring softly beside me as the others settled down to join her.