May 26, 2016

White Dog openly laughed at Zsofia's claim that she has "in the womb" memories of knowing her future would lie in a family of White Dogs and that she would be part of this White Dog Army. "But I do remember," Zso wailed. "As far back as my brain goes I KNEW I would be here."

I gave White Dog a momma look and said to Zsofia, "You are here now, THAT is what matters and will be with us forever. In a very short couple of weeks we will celebrate the day you were born and you will be two years old. We will have a party to remember then AND when you came to be with us."

"I DO have a photo of you with your birth siblings. Let's make that our Throwback Thursday Photo. OK?"

White Dog nodded her approval in the interest of placating her baby sister and Zso stuck her head under my arm as we opened electronic folders to find it.

Here it is...
The not yet Zsofia is on the bottom.


May 25, 2016

White Dog and the White Dog Army are not nearly photographed as often as many of our friends and followers. yhis Army's momma is not a photographer and is even less adroit with smart phones and such. So when a friend challenged me to show in just one photo what makes me a happy and proud dog parent, I was intrigued and fearful that I had not enough choices.

This is the single photo I chose. Not what I originally had in my head but a moment captured that shows the interactive togetherness that fills my day...and my heart.
On Wordless Wednesday, I offer the same challenge to my blog friends but am expanding the parameters a bit. In five photos or less, post and share the things that make you a proud and happy paw-rent. All day after making my initial choice I found myself wondering if I should have shown the others of the many aspects of my furbabies that makes me a proud momma...


May 24, 2016

White Dog and the White Dog Army were thrilled to discover that it was finals week at school. "Wow!" Sachi wagged, "This quarter just FLEW by!" All of the others looked at him a little funny as they remembered the difficulties of adjusting to three late nights in a row where Steve did not return until after 11pm.

Tonight was the first night of finals. Steve's students had only to come in, take the open book test and then they could leave. WD calculated that dad would be home in less than half the time class normally takes.

"Don't count your early jerky treats," I warned WD as well as Steve who was excitedly planning an early to home night. "There is always the possibility that the ONE student who did not perform all quarter or who never opened the book will come in convinced he can learn the entire class as he flips through chapters trying to find answers to the questions on the exam. Could be there for the entire time sweating through it. You'll have to pry his fingers from the keyboard at 11:05pm"

The others scoffed at me for not believing.

And when Steve walked in the door to a blizzard of Eskies at 8:15 all eyes turned to me to say, "Told you so!"


May 23, 2016

White Dog watched her brother scamper to his feet and scurry off to follow Steve. "CA Stormer is looking mighty fine these days," she observed.

Our crabby old man IS looking fitter and is feeling much more frisky than when he joined the White Dog Army just two months ago.

His foster mom had nursed Storm back to health and started him on the Road to Wellville by improving his diet and moderating his intake. He was a chunky monkey, not good for an older gentleman with arthritis. She slimmed him down by 7lbs during his stay with her.

The dry New Mexico air and warm sunshine suit our boy...as apparently does the White Dog Army diet. Lots of fresh veggies and fish-based proteins have continued his leaning up. Watching him eat spaghetti squash and broccoli is still amazing. When I make salad I now have to slice two cucumbers, one for the WDA (with Stormer pushing to the head of the line) and one for our salads.

As a result of getting his weight under control, CA has begun to enjoy bedtime walks. Some nights he insists on joining in on two or three of the groups in addition to his normal Sniff and Stroll Brigade. AND he now manages the front steps without any difficulty.

He has done this all without the use of pharmaceuticals. A regimen of glucosamine enhanced vitamins, Alenza (a natural anti-inflammatory) and T-Relief (an herbal aid in fighting arthritis) seem to be keeping him limber and free of pain.

All of which adds up to CA Stormer, at 14, being a fit and hardy member of this Army...even if still a little cranky sometimes.
Can't you just hear the theme to "Stayin' Alive" ?


May 22, 2016

White Dog came to drag me from where I was hiding out in bed pretending to be asleep. "Come on, dad and Nilla and Storm are making buckwheat pancakes and bacon, join us in celebrating Cocooning in Sanctuary Day. We are all going to stay together and recharge. The White Dog Army and I have some things we want to share that I know will make you happy."

"I don't suppose I could just lie here and feel sorry for myself," I asked already knowing the answer. "Nope, we don't roll that way. New day, new hope, isn't that what you would say?"

I hate when my words come back to bite me so I crawled out of bed and reluctantly got dressed. "Just to prove how bummed I am, I am NOT going to brush my teeth," I stated in my best six-year old defiance. "Well good, be sure to give Opal a big kiss, she has been eating poop!"

Out in the living room there was a vase of sunflowers that had not been there when we went to bed. "Sachi's idea but I had to move them higher because he then wanted to mark them for you." Steve called from the kitchen.

Breakfast was delicious and the late morning light and breezes were very calming. The neighborhood was quiet.

After, YoYoMa moved to the center of the room. "Momma, you always tell me that I am the only one who can always make you laugh. I hate seeing you so sad, so the White Dog Army is going to entertain you."

The "show" opened with Bella and Pearl doing a dance acrobatic routine that had them moving, grooving and leaping all over the room, including over-and-under Zsofia. White Dog, at my shoulder, cheered and said "pretty good, huh?"

Benson recited his favorite poem, "Green Eggs and Ham" completely from memory (we have read it together about 90 million times). "Glad he waited until AFTER breakfast for that," WD opined.

Zsofia emptied the entire toy box at my feet and played a rousing game of "Get It" with me, sometimes getting two different toys at one toss. Then she and Sachi gave a wrestling demonstration.

My mood was lifting; how could I stay locked in a funk when being attacked by all this love? Puff even joined the show by gracefully rising and walking steadily around the room before takng a bow in front of me...no small feat for our Little Old Lady...then she tried to chew my leather bracelet.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Opal casually dragging White Dog's bed from the office. It has become a game she plays to be noticed. Stormer's blanket was piled on top as was a toy. My "Hey!" caused her to grab the stuffed moose riding in the bed and present it to me to play tug. Then she exited by grabbing the corner of the blankie and running with it streaming behind her.

YoYoMa once again took center "stage." "Dad and the assistant chefs are signalling that a special dessert is just about ready. So let me wrap up with a few jokes:

How do you get an elephant into a refrigerator?
Just open the door and stick him in.
How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?
First you have to take the elephant out, then you can put the giraffe in.
If all of the animals had a meeting, which one would be missing?
The giraffe, because he's still in the fridge.

Where does a dog park his car?
In a barking lot or a grrrage.

What do you get if you cross a parrot with a centipede?
A walkie-talkie.

When you catch your dog eating a dictionary, what should you do?
Take the words right out of his mouth.

Who Loves you, momma?
We ALL do!"

I was laughing! And then Nilla, Storm and Steve carried in a heart-shaped baked this morning white chocolate cake, fresh raspberries, and freshly whipped cream...."Who wants cake?"

I am the luckiest woman in the world.


May 21, 2016

White Dog looked at the clock before she joined the Welcome Home! Chorus. I leaned over to kiss the Little White Dog of My Heart who was poised on the arm of my chair and shouted above the din, "See, home half an hour before dinnertime just as I promised."  I sank into the momma chair next to her.

The White Dog Army split up to smother Steve (now on the couch) while the rest pressed against my legs and demanded to be petted. It was just the greeting I needed.

Then came the question. I knew they would ask. I had practiced different answers and different moods of response but when White Dog started by saying, "We know things were wildly successful but tell us every detail," I looked at her and tears welled up. Zsofia pushed her face against mine and I cried into her furs. The Army went silent.

"It wasn't," I told them. "everything went wrong. I should have listened to you all and just stayed home." The charity event on Paws To People's behalf, was in fact, a failure. Thankfully, we at least broke even...a far distance from the fund raising dollars that the organizer had promised. And it was money much needed to reach our goal for the year (which ends for us on June 30). We would not have another opportunity to replace this major event.

The White Dog Army and Steve gathered close and held me. "I feel like I just cannot get momentum going. I work so very hard and believe so much." I tried to pull myself back from those feelings but surrounded by my loved ones, I felt safe enough to melt down. "Not a single thing went in our favor."

"Except this," Steve said holding up a photo on his cell phone. "The booth looked great and Tony did a fantastic job on the Saloon Doggie Lounge for the Raffle. It got us lots of attention." It was creatively handmade from recycled materials and was donated with love by one of Steve's former students; we had lots of folks at the festival come up just to snap a photo. .

But even that was smudged by the day...the raffle earnings must now go to replace the pullup sign bent by the wind.


May 20, 2016

White Dog surveyed the stacked totes and looked pointedly at the clock. She is an old pro and had already figured out that we were going to be attending an event for Paws To People. That meant we had stayed up late to do pack out and would have to rise early.

Most of the newer recruits had joined us after event season...and a few even after opera season...so the idea of us being gone twelve hours was daunting. With CA Stormer's funky reaction to Puff, sweet little old lady Puff, looking at him we were a bit nervous. The day trip with Blues Music and huge crowds would be a lot for our senior girl to handle...as would the higher altitude. So we opted to set up the puppy playpen as a Senior Retreat with a layer of newspapers covered by absorbent towels and topped with the cushiest bed in the house. Water in a spill-proof carrier was tucked in as well. Our girl would be "Stylin'" (as Yo says).

I gathered the White Dog Army around for a few seconds after bedtime walks, BEFORE treats, when I had every one's attention.

"Tomorrow is going to be a long day and you might think dad and I have deserted you. Please worry not, we WILL be gone for a long time but we will be home in time for dinners. But we will get up extra early and eat breakfast early as well. Momma hates to leave you all for so long but this is the Charity Motorcycle Run being held to benefit Paws To People so we must be there."

The Army liked the idea of early breakfast, especially after Steve told them that they could all nap after as long as they desired. They were, however, NOT fond of the idea that we were leaving them so long.

"Can't we just have an early breakfast ALL of us...and then ALL of us take naps?" my devoted Bella asked. "Tiny Dancer," I told her holding her in my arms to reassure, "momma would rather spend the day at home with all of you but we all know that we have a mission to save lives from diseases. Dad and I have to go and help people understand." "Beside," Steve added, "momma has promised that we would return before dinner time, you know she never breaks her promises."

"How about some bedtime treats," I suggested hoping to lighten the nervous mood creeping over the WDA. That snapped things around to our normal routine.

But every pup choose to sleep in the bedroom all smashed as close together and to our bed as possible.


May 19, 2016

White Dog was still asleep. So were all of the White Dog Army except Sachi. It was so early the stars were still out and the sounds of birds awakening and traffic were just beginning to build.

Sachi climbed over our legs and made his way to stand on Steve's chest. He began to lick Steve's face as he excitedly whimpered, "WAKE UP! Isn't anyone going to wish me a happy Gotcha Day?"

Steve struggled from sleep. "What?" "It is my Gotcha Day and you all are STILL sleeping. I am going to go tell the others." Steve grabbed his devoted sidekick in a hug. "Happy Gotcha Day, Sachi! I am so happy we can celebrate this very special day with you but lets (he glanced over his shoulder at the clock) wait until at least 5 am before we start the party. For now you can cuddle with me and momma, She will tell you The Story of how she and Oso found you and brought you to us."

Steve wrapped his arm around Sachi who snuggled against him and then he went back to sleep. Sachi The Dauntless One looked at me intensely. "Well?"

"Baby Boy, Oso knew he was fading from this world and wanted to have a paw in choosing who would come home in his honor. Dementia is a terrible thing but he worked hard to stay focused as we looked for weeks...Oso stared at photos and heard stories. When he saw your photo and learned about you, he knew in his heart that YOU were the ONE. He hoped he would still be with us to greet you himself, but sadly, he passed just two weeks before you got here.

"Dad and I pondered how best to bring you to us from California (and the stars or maybe Angel Oso arranged it). We found Adrienne a rescue transporter here in town who said she would get you. Sweet Boy you were the luckiest pup for Adrienne did not wait for other pups needing help get places, she jumped in her truck and drove almost straight through to California to get you; then she drove straight back to bring you to us. Just for you.
"We had been told you were a sickly boy with scarring in your throat and difficulty breathing as a result of two unsuccessful debarking surgeries. Oso thought you would benefit from using Puff's oxygen kennel and knew we had lots of experience with breathing stuff. You have not needed much help, really.
"What we have learned from you is how to deal with an ankle-biter who also nips flanks...and marks things in the house...and who is mostly regally remorseless. But we have more importantly learned that you are a fierce guardian of our home...dad's devoted companion...a love bug at heart...loyal and true.
"You took the Sibe puppy who joined our family under your wing and played and wrestled and taught her how to be a White Dog...and Zsofia, even though she now towers over you, still looks to you as her playmate and best friend.

"The White Dog Army would simply be missing an important element without you, my studly Little man."
In the other room we both heard the musical alert of Steve's phone announcing time for getting up. Sachi was off the bed in a shot barking to all in the house, "Time to Wake Up! Come ON! It is my Gotcha Day! Let the celebrating begin!"

May 18, 2016

White Dog did a double take as she passed us her way out but she knew enough not to break stride or callout the historic moment in progress.

Opal was sitting in my arms on the bed. She has a hesitant look in her eyes but with a body language that said, "Momma, I trust you!" I spoke softly and stroked her ears and side of her face. Then I passed my hand over her side.

Besides being shaved for her life-saving surgery when she was rescued less than a year ago, I do not believe that she has ever been groomed, Tufts of fur came off as I worked her with my hand and fingers. She sat and tolerated the activity, not quite willing to admit it felt good even though for weeks she has been rubbing against everything possible to remove the itching floof...and has watched with interest as the others get brushed.

"Do you think she would let me brush her?" Steve asked, "If you hold her in your arms we could get most of her at least as a once over." I looked in my shy girl's eyes.

"How about it, Opal? Are you brave enough to trust me." I asked her. "And not be set backward in your progress or hate us?" Steve added.

She did not move as Steve laid the brush on her back and drew it along her spine. That one swipe filled the brush. He pulled off the fur and continued while I whispered in her ear and rubbed her cheek.

I could feel her body relax as she realized that it actually felt good. But as with us all her brain took over after a while and she began to worry. Opal shifted and looked done.

At the word, Steve stopped. I stroked her a few more seconds and told her how proud I was that she was so brave. Then she hopped down without a backward glance and went outside.

"I hope we did not traumatize her," Steve fretted. "Well, I am not sure she will be begging you to continue but trust her as well. She knows it felt good and that she was safe. Opal may keep a distance now for a while but do not fear it a setback."

True to my words, my Sparkling Girl was back to normal at breakfast and now lies sleeping at the office door. It was not an epiphany or cataclysmic change to total trust and acceptance, but as she and I exchange glances, I believe we have moved closer.


May 17, 2016

White Dog snuggled in against my shoulder. Benson, Pearl and Bella barked out of the window at nothing. Sachi and Zsofia complained in Steve's ear. YoYoMa grunted loudly and buried his head under the chair, while Nilla and Opal paced unhappily. Stormer, the grumpy old man, was even grumpier than normal.

And poor Puff was wrapped in a towel in my arms. The fierce weather knocked her off her outside routine and she had an accident. It was not shaping up to be a glorious day in the Land of Enchantment.

"How do we go from eighty-one degrees to forty-five?" White Dog whined. "It is the middle of May for dog's sake!" "And I read that the Crest got snow!" Steve added.

Not only was it cold but it was damp and raining. Not even Zsofia wanted to go outside and howl challenges into the wind.

Of course, all of the windows had been open when we went to bed. By the time Steve, shivering under the lighter "Summer" weight blankets, dragged himself up to seal the house, the damp chill had already seeped in. YoYoMa was sleeping like a sled dog, nose covered by his warm bushy tail.

The morning dawned grey and lifeless. Sounds seemed muted and the birds who usually sang us awake were silent. Outside, nothing moved; there was no traffic on our street. No pup had slept well.

And so it continued all day. All of the good stuff seemed somehow less vibrant (like breakfast oatmeal) and everything else (and every other pup) was irritating. There was no joy at White Dog Ranch...LOTS of boredom and resignation, but no joy.

"Come on, my loves," I begged them. "We can choose to sink into a swamp or we can fly above the storm." The White Dog Army, to a member, looked at me and chose to wallow. I kissed each on the head and said, "So be it. I will be in the office working but I am always ready to give pets, belly rubs, kisses, and encouragement. Find me if you need me."