January 21, 2017

White Dog put her paws on the desk. "We're going to post about the March, right momma?" I looked at her and smiled. We had spent time after dinner relaxing as a family and the scene inspired a different direction. "No, Sweet One, I have another idea."

Just a few things I have learned watching my White Dog Army tonight.

Zsofia was gate keeping the door to the kitchen and Benson wanted to get through. There was not room behind her nor could he pass in front of her face. She ignored his polite request to move. I could see Ben thinking and trying not to get frustrated. Then he calmly lowered his head and body slightly and went under her. Mission accomplished. Lesson: Stay calm and figure it out...there is always a way.

Opal is my creamy coffee junkie. She is the only who obsesses about what is still in my cup after the morning sharing of two sips for every pup. She asks at least a dozen times across a day for another drink. She is charming and presses against me. She looks longingly at the mug. She stands on her back legs to paw gently at the cup on my cart. Most days it takes until nearly supper when I am at the last dregs and the cream has solidified but Opal finally wins a chance to finish off the cup. She heads into dinner a happy girl with a creamy mustache. Lesson: Ask and if that doesn't work, ask again. If you don't ask it won't happen and sometimes you need to ask until you wear down the opposition.

Sachi is half Zso's height and a fourth of her weight. The Little Man wrestles with his sister constantly; standing on his back legs to wrap his paws around her neck and twisting. His efforts are filled with grunts and fierce grimaces. He wrestles with determination until Zsofia drops to her belly and "surrenders."  Lesson from Sachi: Give it everything you've got and don't give up.  Lesson from Zso: Sometimes it is better to show grace than strength.

Trixie is a notorious counter surfer. She has taught Steve to be fastidious in keeping the counter tops clear but still every time she goes into the kitchen she checks...just in case. Lesson: If you look up in life you might just discover something really worth the effort.

YoYoMa and Pearl are masters at being able to rest in the middle of bedlam in positions that defy any concept of comfort. It is not that either falls down on the job of protecting our home; both are first responders in the pack. Lesson: Take action when you are called to but also remember to advantage of opportunities to chill.

Nilla, our matriarch, the oldest, jumps like a basketball star for dinner, all four feet in the air in an athletic leap that is amazing. But she can no longer jump "Up" on things; the propelling of her body forward as well as up is more than she can manage. Steve helped her after dinner onto the couch where she lounged like a Queen wearing a blazing smile. Lesson: The little things so often provide the deepest pleasures.

White Dog touched my cheek. "Wow momma!It is good to know you pay attention and are so open to learning from us." "Little White Dog of My Heart, I cannot begin to tell you how much i appreciate all you and the WDA have taught me."


January 20, 2017

White Dog and the White Dog Army got comfortable after breakfast. They felt the somberness of the morning and listened attentively as I read aloud to them from Thomas Paine's The American Crisis, written at the beginning of our nation's history.

It starts with: "THESE are the times that try men's souls." Words that again today seem appropriate. The White Dogs love the vision of America as a scrappy ragtag group of rebels resisting tyranny and fighting for the good of Every person. And they understand how hard won the fight was.

The WDA has a good life filled with blessing and privilege but it only takes a nightly walk to be reminded that for many life is not such a comfortable existence. It is the instinct of our pack to want to protect and care for those who are vulnerable. They understand that when we lose our compassion and stop embracing diversity we stop being the America that our founders created.

At White Dog's suggestion tonight we enjoyed a dinner that was mashup of cultures: curried lentils, southern biscuits, calabacitas, and strudel. We listened to Vivaldi. After, we lit candles and offered a prayer to the Universe for guidance to peace for all.

We will follow our hearts and do what we know we must during these trying times. White Dog put it best, "Heck, momma, EVERYBODY knows the pack is only as strong as the member most in need."


January 19, 2017

White Dog leaned over my shoulder. "It is Throwback Thursday, or as I like to think of it, White Dog Army Tribute Thursday. Let's feature our wise old man who came from Albuquerque."

Oso, the Fearless, walked into the blizzard of White Dogs like he was expected. Like so many of our family, he was not planned but sent. I got an email from a photographer friend who runs a small rescue in town; apparently the city had contacted HER asking if she knew the "Eskie people," us. It was Spring, 2012. They had a older gentlepup who was found as a stray.

We met Joyce the next morning at the shelter and filled out the papers to bring him home. He had some vetting that needed to be completed so we returned late in the afternoon to pick up our newest White Dog.

On the way home Steve and I discussed the introduction methodology we would use, keeping Oso on the front porch and letting the WDA meet him safely before physical contact. We walked onto the porch and Steve removed Oso's leash after I went inside. Oso scratched madly at the door to get in and the Army on the other side whined mightily that we were keeping them apart. So cautiously Steve opened the door a crack...and Oso rushed into the waiting floof of his new siblings.

It was a lovefest from the first second.


January 18, 2017

White Dog came and sat quietly as I picked up the office phone to reschedule my appointment. "Dad is pretty frazzled, huh?"

"Just how much time do you allow for the unexpected?" I asked her. "He did a great job getting everyone up early and fed so that i could get to my very early blood drawn. We were right on schedule and it would get done and we would be home in no time and he would still get to work relatively on time."

"But it is not poor Bella's fault." "I know it is not...and so does dad."

We were just about ready to walk out into the early morning; in fact, I had just stood to zip my coat. Suddenly there was a manic scurrying noise from under the chair and Bella darted out running for the dog door...and leaving a trail of sickness behind her.

The dog door slammed and the Army rushed to investigate. "Everyone, Leave it!" I yelled. Steve looked at the mess and softly said, "oh no!"

Suddenly we were no longer on schedule. The schedule was out of the window. We unbundled and Steve went to fill a basin, get paper towels and the scrub brush. I herded the WDA into the yard to check on their sister and went to make the call.

It seems My Tiny Dancer had on last night's walk eaten something from the street, unnoticed by Steve. It must have percolated all night. The addition of breakfast just pushed her system too far. This we were able to deduce from the vomit on the deck.

When Bella came in I scooped her into my arms. She was shaking with the exertion and cried softly. And she was a mess at both ends. Thankfully Bella is small enough that I could cradle her and do cleanup with soapy water and a cloth by myself as Steve scrubbed the carpets. After cleanup I wrapped Miss B in a warm towel and she rested quietly in my arms.

Steve finished and then jumped in to shower and change. He was going to be late but refused to leave until he made breakfast for my later enjoyment and was certain Bella was "Empty." She was sleeping soundly under the watchful eyes of her siblings when he left.

Later I got a message from him. "I am so sorry you missed your appointment." "Don't be silly," I typed as WD dictated, "you did not cause Bella to be sick and you could not have planned for it. We all love you. Life just sometimes does not get the memo about the day's plan."


January 17, 2017

White Dog gave a correction growl to Sachi for nipping Nilla's flank on Little Terror Tuesday.
He thought she was taking too long at one of the five water bowls in the house. "WHAT?" was his reply. "It was a life or death emergency. My throat was VERY dry. She knows I would never hurt her."

And then he whirled around to do the same thing to Opal who was just walking past.

White Dog was in his face in an instant. "You! Timeout! NOW!" She herded him into the office and left him under Steve's guard.


January 16, 2017

White Dog is not a lover of vegetables. Well, to be fair, she tolerates them ground up in her meals and LOVES them with a good bechamel, butter or cheese sauce...but plain as I am slicing and prepping for dinner, not at all.

Most of the White Dog Army crowds around me begging for slices of cucumber or chunks of carrot or strips of bell pepper (a particular favorite). We were not able to grow a vegetable garden once Zsofia joined the Army because she munched the veggies right off the plants...and often ate the plants as well.

Tonight as the WDA was "helping" me prepare salads for tomorrow's lunch I noticed a certain lack of color in the crowd.

"Zso! We are having veggies. Come on!"

She bounded off the bed and joined us. I reached out a thick fragrant round of cucumber to her. Zsofia sniffed it suspiciously and curled her lip. She turned away and Bella rushed up to claim the piece. "Really? No cukes? You love cucumbers."

And her reaction was the same for the zucchini and the carrot. "Thanks, but nope."

"Has White Dog told you that Princesses in Training do not eat vegetables?" I asked her while preparing to sternly lecture the Queen. Zso wooed that she never REALLY liked vegetables but was merely "trying to please." There was a burst of snickering woofs from her brothers and sisters...even White Dog.

I held out a piece of bell pepper. A piece from the pepper Steve had rescued from Bella who grabbed it when it rolled off of the counter as we were gathering things. "I know these are your favorite," I told her. She snorted and took two steps back.

"Fine." I said, "The others are all waiting." I doled out pieces to every pup who was eagerly pushing forward for my attention. Zsofia watched and listened to the happy munching surrounding her.

She tentatively walked forward and tossed her head. "What?" She stretch out and looked at the cutting board. "Would you like a piece of pepper now? Think about it and please do not accept just because you think I want you to." She nudged at my hand. "For certain?"

Zso took the green strip delicately and in two crunches it was gone.  


January 15, 2017

White Dog politely swallowed her bite of omelette before explaining to the White Dog Army, "According to breed standards for American Eskimos, acceptable coat colors are white, biscuit, and CREAM. But brother I don't think that they meant it as an added highlight!"

CA Stormer loves his morning coffee...so much so that he impatiently pushes under all of the others as they have their morning sips as well.

Around here, he is called Mr. Coffehead...and really doesn't seem to mind...nor does Opal who often grooms him, not out of courtesy so much as for the extra bit of cream.


January 14, 2017

White Dog wanted to go...desperately. She did not understand why Steve was going to such great lengths to chase down her sister to put on HER harness.

"Opal must go to the shot clinic," I explained to White Dog. "She needs her rabies shot so we can renew her city license. I am SURE you are not volunteering to take her place."

Steve came up and handed Opal to me. She was panting and shaking. "Can you help me get her into a harness and leash?" he asked. I motioned for him to give me a couple of minutes with her as i stroked her side and whispered nothings in her ear. I held her tightly. Then I nodded to Steve to bring the harness.

My Sparkling Girl immediately drew her arms tightly to her chest. Working gently Steve moved the straps into the correct position while I provided her anchor. He snapped on a leash. To Steve: "I know you know this, but PLEASE be very careful with her. She is so frightened, she would be a flight risk." He kissed my head. To Opal: "It will be very quick and you will come right home. Dad will be with you and he has treats in his pocket. I will save the last of my coffee for you. Be brave. Hurry home."

All of the White Dog Army watched Steve carry Opal out to the car. (She refused to walk on the leash). And fastened her safely in Pumpkin. Then they drove off. Everyone waited and watched.

After what seemed like forever but was in actuality about thirty minutes Steve called to say they were almost home. "How did it go?" I asked.

"Pretty much as expected. She would not walk and spent the entire time shaking and whimpering. She would not eat any of the treats I had and her eyes about bugged out of her head when the tech came near. But she wasn't the only one. Another pup had to be scooped up for his shot as well."

Pumpkin pulled up and the van door slid open. Steve helped Opal out; she looked around unsure for a second but saw and heard the White Dog Army singing their song of greeting. She was at the door in an instant and could not get inside fast enough.

"Where is my bravest girl," was my greeting as she threw herself gratefully against me. "I told you it would be OK." Opal made a fast circuit around the house, checking, I think, to see if everything was the same. Satisfied, she took the treat rewards she refused while out and looked pointedly at my coffee mug.

"Yes, I promised," I said as I handed down the creamy remains of my cup. She emerged with a mustache. For a brief while she basked in the spotlight as the WDA sniffed and questioned and Steve (feeling guilty) pampered.

Finally she came and rested at her usual spot next to my desk. I looked at her. "Momma," she said, "Will you be mad if I am NEVER comfortable going out into the world?" "Sweet brave girl," I told her, "I want you to be yourself and feel safe. Sometimes, like today, you will need to go, but you will ALWAYS came back because this is your home. If you choose to be a homebody I am ok with that."

She stretched under my hand sliding down her back. "Momma?" "Yes Sweet One?" "There really IS no place like home."


January 13, 2017

White Dog raised her head and looked at all of her brothers and sisters slumbering around us. "Friday the 13th doesn't seem like such bad luck," she said before yawning and putting her head back on the pillow.

I had to agree. Surrounded by the White Dog Army and wrapped in their peace, it was impossible to think that my luck was anything but the most wonderful and good.

I smiled at YoYoMa in particular. He is my protector and doesn't ask for much. He is confident and sure of his place in the world. Yo is pretty independent but this afternoon had chosen to come and curl up at my feet, a rare treat for me. I leaned over but did not touch him, instead I just watched his calm even breathing rise and fall. Eskies have white eyelashes, you know, and I could see them softly flutter in the eye movements of deep sleep.

YoYoMa shifted against my leg so that he was sprawled one leg in the air, totally vulnerable. I longed to drop my hand and stroke his belly but knew he would awaken and the magic would be lost. Instead I matched my breathing rhythm to his.

Most of you know the amazing bliss of watching a furchild in Universal serenity wrapped in total trust. It fills the soul like few things can. You do not want to move for fear of interrupting the connection. You pray for time to stand still. And so it was with YoYoMa.

The part that brought me to tears was seeing the others, equally enveloped the sanctuary of our pack, filling our home...and me...with so much trusting love that bad luck never stands a chance.


January 12, 2017

White Dog pressed against me. "I still get sad when I think about Darby," she said. "I wonder how different things would have been if she had not been such a meteor in our lives."

Darby, aka Daisy, came to us as part of the Hospice Foster Program. She was 17 years old and her people had surrendered her to our city's animal welfare because she was old. It was right after the New Year in 2015. Darby was depressed and heartbroken. Plus the city had done a dental on her that was not healing; she was in pain.

We were warned when we brought her home to the White Dog Army that she was snappish and fearful. In consulting with our beloved Dr. Julia we decided to wean her off of the overload of pain medication so assess whether she would do better less muddled. She did and showed signs of feeling our love.

Darby was only with us three days. The changes and heartbreak were too much for her. The entire WDA mourned her abrupt departure and sang her a Warrior's Song as she was taken to her final rest by the Foster Coordinator.

She is proudly a member of the White Dog Army Tribute Wall and we believe that those three days were filled with love and family inclusion enough to allow her to cross the Bridge in peace. We feel her spirit with us at times and wonder, like WD said, how different things would have been had she stayed longer.