March 18, 2018

White Dog nodded at the figure disappearing down the hallway with a stuffed toy hanging from his mouth. "There is always one crossover moment with the new recruits that sort of marks their acceptance of truly being home. I love witnessing that and know I will never tire of how good it makes me feel."

Roman came a sweet human-loving boy, damaged in an unknown accident, and not really sure about big-family life. He has struggled at times to find his place and rhythm...and still has moments that leave him questioning. But progress is happening. He is eager to please and learn. He fights the instincts heightened by at least four months living ferally but does not always win; he wants to be a part.

This morning Opal, the Toy Manager in our house, was in the middle of her daily ritual of moving the chosen toys for the day from the storage bin to the bedroom. She makes her choices which then are arranged in priorities...immediate play next to or on the bed to last resorts which go out of the dog door and wait on the deck.

Roman passed her to head outside but stopped and did an about face. He looked at Opal and tilted his head. My Sparkling Girl is kind to everyone; she touched Roman's muzzle to let him know that she would share.

My Baby Boy carefully surveyed the choices and nosed the dragon. She wagged. He sniffed it and headed into the yard leaving dragon respectfully where it lay.

But THAT was the stuffy being carried much later in the morning when Roman passed the office. Opal has singled it out and left it next to the water dish for him.  WD came in to report that he was holding and examining the cloth creature curled in his favorite chair in the living room. When I peeked out a short while latter, he was asleep with his chin resting upon it as he held the toy in his paws.

"I think we have another toy player," White Dog whispered. "maybe in time he will even play Get It!"


March 17, 2018

White Dog rushed in and jumped into my lap. She had been helping Steve with some car things while the rest of the White Dog Army supervised from every front room window.

Steve followed her in. "SHOW her!" WD demanded and nudged his arm toward me. "Baby Girl," he suggested, "let me at least call it up on screen." He pushed at his cellphone as she whimpered for him to hurry then she dragged his hand to my face.

"Look, momma! SPRING is here!"


March 16, 2018

White Dog and the rest of the Army tried to make the repairman fix the oven immediately so that they could try to recoup some of the momentum lost when it stopped working yesterday in the middle of baking my birthday cake. But he did not have the part needed and would need to order it.

We would be ovenless all weekend...until Monday afternoon.

Once the White Dogs were reassured that losing our ability to bake affected them actually very little since their meals were already made and in the freezer and treats did not require cooking, the panic eased...for them.

For the humans it meant either relying upon carry out, an expensive 3 day option, rethinking the menu for stovetop meals, or living on cold foods.

Tonight's whole roasted chicken became chicken soup with veggies and dumplings; the White Dogs shared the rich broth and chunks of chicken. As a bonus there was enough boiled chicken left to make chicken salad for another meal.

"Momma is so resourceful!" Zsofia wooed, glad that they were not going to be forgotten in the plans.

The seafood gratin becomes Saturday's stirfry with black beans and garlic with asparagus fried rice.

There was a debate about Sunday...part of the WDA was all for a meat and mushroom tomato sauce on pasta with a salad...part thought grilled quesadillas with spinach, cheese and zucchini would dunk nicely in guacamole...and White Dog argued to fire up the grill in the yard to make salmon and packet potatoes. No decision was reached but as Tizenegy pointed out, "we have some good options."

To celebrate Monday's return to ovenness, it was agreed we should plan baked foods...potatoes, personal turkey meatloaves, roasted veggies...and the long anticipated cake! But just as a backup, momma already has plans to crockpot a corned beef...with mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts if needed for dinner, or yummy sandwiches for lunches across the week.

Paws and fingers crossed. Bella giggled and summed up, "We are like urban pioneers! No oven and eking by on our wits!"


March 15, 2018

White Dog led the Army into the bedroom to ring in my birthday morning. The group was not as raucous as I expected them to be; all gathered to give gentle kisses and lean in for hugs and kisses from me. There was a pinging at the window.

"Oh momma," WD said as she cuddled against me on my pillow. "This is NOT the day we ordered to celebrate you! It is dark and dreary and it is hailing. We wanted beautiful sunshine and a soft breeze that smelled like Spring, not snapping winds that smell like molding leaves."

I sat up and put my feet on the ground as I pulled as many of the WDA as I could hold into my arms. "My loves, this is a day that can withstand anything. We are together. Don't be glum. Let's go put on some gentle soothing music, how about Enya, and have breakfast. Bacon always makes everything seem better, doesn't it?"

 Over a slow enjoyable meal, a plan evolved that centered around cocooning, cooking, and companionship. We were slightly cheered but the pack still had a sense of foreboding that painted everything with a grey haze.

And then we learned Deb was in the hospital after having a stroke. She had no serious damage (thankfully) and it was not her dominant side affected but she was clearly shaken. Her best friend had Deb's pups at her house and Deb was hoping her hospital stay would be brief.

"There is a little reminder of mortality that seems so wrong on a birthday," Pearl said darkly. "She seems like she will recover and the shock will pass," I said.

To brighten the day, White Dog and Steve pulled out my ancient recipe box. Within were the directions for my favorite cake of all time: six thinly layers of white chocolate with dark choc flecks; between the layers slathered dark chocolate ganache and alternating layers of raspberry and apricot jam. It is divine. "But guys, you cannot eat this cake with the chocolate," I pointed out. "Don't worry," WD responded. "Dad and I are going to make extra batter without the dark chocolate and make cupcakes for us. We will put jam in each." Everyone thought that was an excellent plan and that it would create the perfect ending to the scallops, shrimp, and mussels gratin being planned for dinner.
the theory

Before cooking commenced the Army asked to see momma baby photos. Steve had stealthily already dragged the albums from the basement so all gathered around to comment on my puppy photos and to politely try not to giggle. 

Then the cake batter was prepared and put in the oven. Well before the layers were due to be done, the WDA supervisors got restless and the room began to smell like something was burning. Steve rushed to the oven and pulled out cakes burnt beyond help on the bottom and sides but still gooey in the middle. "DAMN!" was the universal response. It turns out the temperature regulator on our oven chose this day's special mission on which to fail. WD was near tears.

The entire group seemed defeated.

"OK, you all think this is the worse birthday ever," I told them. "But here is a message from the birthday girl. I think the niggling demons are a reminder that life and love is about BOTH good and bad moments. A burnt cake and bad weather are such minor things if you think about it. How lucky are we--am I--that we have such a caring family who can come from all parts of the country with all kinds of backgrounds to meld together into the awesome White Dog Army?

"A fancy dinner is always nice and your planning much appreciated. One of my favorite things are long leisurely afternoons together, cooking and sharing the tasks. I know when we fix the oven and can cook again it will be delicious. But we have options and warmth on this yucky day; many do not.

"Each of you is a blessing and a gift beyond anything you can wrap in paper and tie a bow upon. So let's celebrate despite the misfortune. We can order dinner from Orchid Thai...you all LOVE the fish cakes and meatballs with peanut sauce. And coconut milk curry. AND we have ice cream which will be wonderful with a dab of apricot and raspberry jams.

"Happy Birthday to me, my loves!  Thank you all."


March 14, 2018

White Dog sighed a little jealously. "I would have LOVED to spend the day at dad's office, but not the reason Nilla did."

On Monday Nilla in a moment of dementia walked over the soundly sleeping Roman awakening him in full fight mode. He got her on the top of her head and under her chin before I could run out and separate them. Steve came home immediately and we cleaned Nilla up and began treatment.

The spot under her face was at a not easy to see place and she was less than cooperative. Next day we wrestled our old lady on the bed and shaved the chin and neck a bit. The clearer area allowed us to better clean and apply antibiotics.

But this morning it was starting to look infected and she struggled too much for us to feel confident in our triage. Dr. Julia is not in the office on Wednesdays but her associate could see Nilla mid-morning. Steve, on deadline at work, took the appointment. The plan was he would take Nilla with him to the office then run to vets and then take Nilla back to work until the end of his day.

Nilla is a quiet gentle soul who we knew would be sedated and full of medication after the visit; Steve figured Nils would sleep all afternoon.

She did.

Tonight, Nilla seems to be feeling perkier and the wounds are not so angry. We have a new house policy that Nilla, with her increasing "senior" moments will be safely sequestered, gated in the kitchen, when she cannot be fully supervised...both to avoid accidents and to keep her from wandering lost outside.

Roman and I have had a serious talk about his sister. I know he is still adjusting to our ways but his hair trigger, even on three legs, could dangerously overwhelm our girl.

Nilla will heal and Roman will grow into his place here, I tell us all. Time and love. Time and love.

March 13, 2018

White Dog said, "I don't think this is the kind of Tongue-out Tuesday that any one wants to see, Momma! Poor Sachi is feeling so glicky with allergies."

"Thank dog for benedryl," replied Bailey, who was also having itchy eye problems.


March 12, 2018

White Dog nodded. "We all knew there was something special about CA Stormer. He was a dog of mystery right up to the end.

We understood from the first day that Stormer was not an American Eskimo...at least not fully. Eskies we know very well and Stormer had a subtly different body confirmation and a personality that was more intense than any Eskie we ever had before. It mattered not a whit except that we learned his oddities to better love and include him and to make him feel safely comfortable.

But in the back of his head Steve always wondered about his Best Bud's heritage...runs in Steve's family. His mother was a avid genealogist.

When Stormer began his health decline we discussed doing one of those tests to track his ancestry but it was one of those things that somehow never made it to the top of the "to do" list.

And then our boy asked for release but with a caveat for Steve. Steve must do the DNA test so that he would finally have his question answered. Stormer knew it would help bring closure for his dad and that the test would not hurt...it was simply a mouth swab.

Steve sent the samples off the day Stormer crossed the Rainbow Bridge. When he did the swab, Steve sat holding his boy for a long time and they joked about what might be revealed. He made Steve laugh when he suggested that maybe he was not even a dog, but rather, a chimera.

The test results came back today. Stormer was NOT a chimera but was a "designer dog," a perfect 50-50 pairing of American Eskimo and Siba Inu. Who would have even guessed that, I wondered.

Now that the light has been turned on, I can see clearly the curl of the tail, the chestiness, and the broader face from his Shiba Inu side...a breed I had never even thought of before. And in reading more, Stormer presented some of the characteristic quirks of the breed.
One thing was totally validated, that our boy, CA Stormer, was not ordinary by any means. And that no matter what his genes indicated he is forever a beloved member of the White Dog Army.


March 11, 2018

White Dog assigned Roman his first duties on Meal Making Day...to make sure no ingredients were left out of the White Dog Army Casserole. Zsofia was appointed to be his trainer.

"Remember, this is a special batch," she told them both. "In honor of St. Patrick's Day later this week, we are adding oatmeal and cooked cabbage to the mix."

"Are we dyeing the casserole green?" Opal asked. "I heard people make everything green for that day."  "Since this will last beyond the holiday," I told her, "we will  leave the food its natural color."

It took a good part of the afternoon add ingredients, mix, and food process; we all sighed with happy exhaustion as Steve put the fresh container into the refrigerator...and three more into the freezer.

I handed out duck jerky rewards.

"I am not sure if I prefer this," Nilla munched, "or a big sample of our efforts." "Worry not, Sweet Girl, you will get to taste the fruit of your labor at dinner tonight.

March 10, 2018

White Dog, unlike the rest of the Army, looked not at us in joyful greeting, but to see whether I was carrying anything.

One of WD's favorite special treats are paletas, a kind of creamy frozen fruit bar that is a traditional summer delight. Her favorites are coconut or pistachio; she has enjoyed them most of her life.

Apparently she and Steve knew that our favorite little spot for the treat has opened a shop at the National Hispanic Cultural Center where the performance of Festival Ballet's Sacred Journeys was performed. I was gifted with tickets from my family.

When we parked and I saw the ice cream shoppe, I immediately thought that take home would make an amazing "thank you" for the evening and mentioned we should stop after the dance to pick up favorite flavors. "White Dog was kind of hoping you might think of that," Steve smiled.

The music, dance, story performance was powerful and uplifting. I truly enjoyed the evening and was grateful for the opportunity to see it. However, when we rounded the corner in the parking lot, it was clear there would be no paletas...the shoppe was closed and dark. Turns out they only remain open through intermission.

"Damn!" I said. "I was so into the idea of surprising the Army." Steve said that they would understand; but it nagged at me.

"Frozen fruit yogurt bars are not EXACTLY paleta but they would at least be something!" Steve indulged me and swung past the natural food store. We ran in and emerged with COCONUT and strawberry pops...and a happy momma.

When White Dog saw the grocery bag a shadow crossed her eyes for a nanosecond. Then she understood that although it was a compromise, I HAD thought of them all. She smiled and called the WDA to treat positions.


March 9, 2018

White Dog moved to rest her head on my foot. It was that blissful moment post dinner when the WDA gathers filling the office and spilling out down the hallway. We are together and happy.

In just a few moments the mood will erupt in excitement as nite-nite walks begin along with the promise of after exercise treats.

But for right now...