December 19, 2014

White Dog and the others had been anticipating this evening all day...Steve was to graduate with his MBA! Plans were that after the ceremony we would come home and order salmon burgers and malteds for everyone from the diner down the street that makes its own root beer, salmon patties, and in the summer offers butcher bones for pups dining on the patio. We already had checked ahead and made sure that they would allow us to carry out bones.

Sometimes things do not go according to plan. It was critically necessary for me to skip the ceremony in order to guarantee things would be ready for the double events Paws To People is attending on Saturday. I felt beyond awful and exhausted all of my possibilities for alternative solutions. Steve understood but my heart...and the White Dogs...didn't. I begged him to ask a co-worker to take a photo of him in full graduation regalia: robe, colors, new stole and honor cords.

Steve attends EVERY graduation ceremony and sits on the dais. It is part of his duties as the head of two departments. But his initial reaction about his MBA was that it was no big deal. His dean and the head of the school argued to call him out and recognize his achievement...not just for the impressive gpa he maintained but for its value as an example to others. Going back to school after 30 years is not an easy feat and to do it while working a full time job and juggling life commitments is an inspiration to new students facing those same issues as undergrads. He finished with an impressive 3.96GPA. He agreed to "walk" and receive his stole and honor braids.

The White Ones swarmed him when he walked through the door. "Well!" they all yipped. Followed by "Woohoo! Let's hear it for Dad!" I could tell something was not right.

"How was it?" I asked as I kissed and hugged him. "Uneventful," was his reply. "Did you get a photo?" "Nothing to photograph." I was clearly puzzled as was the WDA who quieted and sat waiting.

"They didn't even mention me. I had no diploma waiting. No stole. They did not even read off my name as a grad. Am I invisible?"

"What?!" was our collective response. "Yep, no one in the world even cared." Taiko whimpered. "Except you guys."

Our friend Valerie had dropped off her famous caramel apples for our Christmas gift giving. SHE had remembered and left Steve a little box tied with ribbons of her best candies. She did not remember the ceremony was tonight but she knew it was imminent. She was a lifeline of kindness and her thoughtful gesture saved the day.

"WE are so proud of you. We know how hard you worked and how often it would have been easy to just walk away from the project. We respect you and love you and are so very blessed that you are ours." The White Ones surrounded him, pushing and shoving to get closest and show their love.

"Whether the world knows it or not, we have a reason to celebrate! Let's go pickup that salmon and those bones...and honey, go crazy get the full size root beer shake! There is a new grad in our house!"

December 18, 2014

White Dog made the decision. Steve bartered a for professional time agreement with a young woman who grooms pups and as a result four of the White Dog Army were to receive pre-Christmas spa days. Quickly WD ruled out her and YoYoMa..."we already have a special groomer. What would Scot and Seven think if they ever found out we had gone somewhere else!"

And Taiko is the exclusive customer at Chez Steve's; the only time he has endured another's hand (as gentle as it was) was when he first arrived at White Dog Ranch covered in mats, live tick nests, and incredible filth. It took them nearly four hours to do an incredible makeover and they invited our nervous boy to never come back. But Tai is patient with and trusts Steve which ruled him out.

WD decided that Puff and Bella would be a good team to go together. Both like baths and being brushed. Puff especially loves the warm breezes of the dryer. Both are nervous away from home, but Puff, at least. HAS been to our regular groomer before (although she prefers dad's salon). The girls are scheduled to go next Tuesday morning. I am a bit nervous about my Tiny Dancer who does not like being apart from me.

Today, Sachi and Zsofi were elected. "They love everything," White Dog reasoned. "And they are not particularly picky. That will make them good guinea pigs, I mean, front pups in this project. Besides, what can you do to ruin a puppy's hair?"

With that rousing endorsement, the inseparable friends were loaded into Pumpkin. We waited at home for the pickup phone call (trying not to be TOO nervous).

"My dog, Little Man!" White Dog sputtered when they returned. "Finally you look like an Eskie and not a Pom wanna be!"  then she burst out laughing. Yo said to Taiko, "I bet less than five minutes, how about you?" "Three," was his reply.

The bet was over how long the cute little bows would last in Zso's furs. The boys kind of split the win...one bow was gone by the time she zoomed past us out to the kitchen to check the food bowls but the other stayed in long enough the be captured in photos.
At the salon, waiting. Yes, they DO have a sparkly pink floor!


December 17, 2014

White Dog wasn't too sure my plan would work. But I knew for certain the original scheme was just not going to cut it. It was one of those insistent momma moments.

Many years ago Steve bought for me a fancy gadget that bolts onto the counter edge and with a spindle and crank quickly peels, cores and slices an apple into rounds. Great in principle but I can never get the silly thing to consistently do its job. If the apple is at all irregular in shape the spring loaded peeler skips or gets stuck peeling the same spot over and over.

And so it was today. I had the patience for two attempts then called for my paring knife. White Dog looked incredulous. "You have 70 apples to peel, core, and cut," she reminded me. "Use the machine; it is much faster."

"It is NOT faster if it takes me 20 minutes of fussing to get one done," I fumed. So Steve obliged me...box of apples on the left of the little table (to which I taped a plastic garbage bag to hold peelings), paring knife in hand and tall stock pot on the right of me on the floor. Steve knew not to argue but WD continued to sigh at my shoulder. Once I was set to go, Steve headed to the grocery and left me to the task at hand.

I was most worried about Zsofia and her habit of wanting to sample everything in sight. But she was too curious to eat; she laid at my feet looking up under the tray and watching with fascination. She was rewarded with a small chunk of fruit.

Sachi was the one who wanted to lick every apple quarter I tossed in the pot. Fortunately my stock pot is too tall and at the beginning, not full enough for my Little Man to reach the apples. It frustrated him for a while but a peeling scrap to gnaw upon finally convinced him to nap on the chair. Yo, my true fruit and veggie gourmet, sat politely asking for a sample. I cut and cored half an apple and gave it to him. He returned to his place at the hearth, happy to munch his treat.

Puff did not like having to sit on the OTHER side of the stock pot unable to touch my foot with her paw. My soon sticky hands did not allow for petting so I kept up a steady conversation with her as a means of connection. Bella, under the chair, would reach out a paw from under every so often to tap the pot.

Taiko had the hardest time. First, Steve had left him in the yard too long and the Tender Heart was panicking when Candace brought him in. Then he came rushing over to bury his head in my lap only to find me behind a barricade. I quickly opened a passage that allowed him to press against my legs between the table and I as I worked. He rested contentedly, reassured, and did not care what I was doing above him.

White Dog continued to watch. I knew she was silently counting my progress. It was drudge work but I remembered a book I once read where it was believed that your attitude or mood when you cook gets infused in the food you prepare. Since these apples were for Christmas, it was important that they carry the spirit of love and care and the joy of giving...that was my focus. By the time Steve returned, I was down to seven apples remaining...and I finished well before he had unpacked things into the larder.

My reward was two-fold: White Dog's quiet, "You are awesome, momma!" and the smell of apples and spices simmering most of the afternoon.


December 16, 2014

White Dog and Taiko peered in the bags as Steve carried them in and set them on the floor of the kitchen. "It looks like some things are missing," White Dog mumbled. Tai shifted the contents of one bag with his snooter and sighed, "Nope, no candied cherries." They both looked at me.

"There are a few items we didn't get because they did not have them." I began.  "WHAT  NO COOKIES!" Yo shuffled in and cried out. "Let's not over react. We have plenty to start on and I will make a few calls to see who has candied cherries; that will be better than spending an hour driving all over," I said as I petted the backs of both boys in an attempt to prevent panic.

Bella was now nervously pacing back and forth in the doorway. Steve walked past her carrying the last of the bags. SHE rushed over and plunged her face in the bag. "What else is missing?" she asked. "You know Christmas is just DAYS away!"

Puff was resting on her bed and looked toward the kitchen group. "Chill out, White Ones. Don't lose your holiday cool. Remember, Christmas Magic? It will come together. Believe!" I hugged our wise matriarch with my eyes. Her words hit home and the others calmly supervised the unpacking while I made calls and found what we needed at the last place I expected...our local chain grocery. "Who would have guessed," Steve said as he volunteered to stop on his way to work. There was a HUGE WDA yip of relief.

Zsofia and Sachi, banned from the kitchen because of their insistence on wrestling over the bags and sacttering everypup took some time to seek their own inner zen...
"Let us know when there are warm cookies fresh from the oven to sample," Sachi yawned.

December 15, 2014

White Dog and the rest of the Army had, during the night, found it in their hearts to forgive us for deserting them on Sunday but were taking no chances on a repeat today. All morning and into the afternoon Steve and I were under constant watch and if we moved, we had multiple escorts to accompany us.

It was more than just guilt that prompted a belated Sunday brunch on Monday of scrambled eggs and bacon served atop a buckwheat pancake for each of the White Dogs. Truth be told, I HAD missed them and the routine of being around them.

"You are going soft," Steve teased. "Good thing you work from home or you would need to have a corporate office big enough for the Army to come with you." I HAVE been spoiled being able to work at home and he is right, I do not think I could stand eight hours a day (or the 12+ hours I spent in my last corporate job) without the destressing, recentering, zen perspectives of the White Dog Army.

And so we spent the day, back in our routine...even enjoying a quick afternoon nap with Zso holding me in place by lying on my afghan (WD of course was at my shoulder, Puff at my side and Bella under my chair). Sachi slept on top of Steve and Taiko stretched out so that he would be awakened if Steve moved his feet from the sofa to the floor. YoYo blocked exit by lying across the front door.

It was peaceful and replenishing after the long social day of Sunday which had been exhausting.

But the time came when, Steve had to ready himself for his late night of teaching. Surprisingly everyone seemed to understand that this, too, was part of our routine and that I would be home the entire time with them waiting...

...and somehow, because we were together, it was OK.


December 14, 2014

White Dog laid her muzzle over Zsofia's muzzle. It was only eight in the morning and already the Baby was glum. "Where did it go," Zso woo wooed to her sister. "Yesterday it was fluffy and cold and white in the yard. Now it is just cold muck and somebody stole the snow."

WD started to explain as the others gathered around in support but the Darkest White Dog rushed through the dog door back out into the yard. We all watched her through the patio doors as she pawed at the little bits of white that remained at the edge of the wall. It was pathetic.

It was to be a day of White Dog discontent. Today was the Paws To People fundraiser being held at a local pizza restaurant. We had live music planned in the afternoon and early evening...and a Board of Directors meeting to start the day. I cupped faces and wrapped my arms around ruffs. "Dearest Ones," I tried to gently break the news, "Dad and I will be gone for quite a while today. I will miss you all terribly and will think about you the entire time. Candace will be home to make sure everyone gets out for breaks and will come in to keep you company." Taiko whined. "I promise we will be home but not until after dinner time. Please try to just rest, stay in from the cold, and understand. You know we love you."

The White Dog Army was mad when we returned around 8:30pm. When I tried to tell them about how well the event went, they pointedly turned their backs on me. Puff voiced her opinion by leaving a huge puddle on the carpet. Taiko threw up as Steve petted him and then again just after the cleanup was complete. Sachi and YoYoMa got into a standoff over who would sit against my legs; it almost came to blows. Bella marked over Puff's spot just as Steve brought out the zamboni cleaner. Zsofia was chewing something plastic that we could not identify.

And the worst was that not a single member of the WDA was contrite. Instead they made it seem as though it was OUR fault and that they were mere victims. I called upon their leader, White Dog, to help set them straight. "Tell them it was for a good cause, one we all work so hard for."

Her response was to coldly stare and then walk out of the room.

Walks were taken half heartedly and even treats were lifted from my fingers with a forced air of civility.

"I love you," I said to each one right before we turned off the light. Not a single shake or settling noise or tail thump...just silence.

I hope I am forgiven tomorrow.


December 13, 2014

White Dog Peered out of the door into the downpour. "Ummmm, looks like no walks for The White Dog Army tonight," she told Steve. So we sent everyone out onto the deck for a quick necessary break, handed out nite-nite treats, and took one last look outside.

The rain had changed to snow.

The Army rushed out to get their first tasty flakes of the season. Zsofia was perplexed and stood frozen just outside the door staring upward as big fluffy blops of snow landed on her face and furs. She licked her fur and suddenly clicked. This was a GOOD thing! Off she ran into the yard. It was past midnight and Steve gave her a few moments and then went out to bring her in. She did not want to come.

It was too dark to capture in photos but the rain and snow switched back and forth all night so at daybreak we had a decent dusting of white.

Here is, as White Dog calls it, "Baby's First Snowfall..."


December 12, 2014

White Dog and Puff rode along as Steve went out to get a few finishing touches for our Giving Tree gifts. It was like Puff reasoned, "It is about more than just what these kids NEED. There should be a few fun surprises in their package as well." Of course, the White Dog Army agreed that there should be something sweet. So candy was on the list. Then WD had the great idea of visiting our friend Kristina, a jewelry maker, to see if she had done any happy little things for the Craft Fairs she attends this time of year. Three of our "kids" are girls. Sure enough the errand runners came back with cute little necklaces perfect for the 9-11 year olds, a butterfly, a kitty, and a smiling pup. The Army high pawed our team for their shopping prowess.

Then it was time for WDA Team 2, YoYoMa and Zsofia harnessed up and left to accompany Steve as he delivered fliers about our Pizza Party fundraiser this Sunday. They are a striking contrast in color as they walk with Steve along the shops on Route 66 and ask for shopkeepers to distribute news of the Event. Plus they both are fabulous walkers and did not mind being out for more than an hour and a half. We back at home waited until their return for our afternoon jerky break to congratulate them for a job well done.

Bella and Sachi could hardly wait for THEIR turn. They were in charge of taking packages to the Post Office and picking up late lunch for Steve and I. I was surprised and pleased when they returned with Thai Green Curry Noodles. Steve had a lovely teriyaki salmon which he generously shared bites of.  Additionally, Team 3 had remembered that our little boy giftee needed a little sparkle in his package of clothes, so they brought home a soft stuffed snow leopard cub to include.

Taiko, who had helped me put together the cookie baking list for next week while everyone was off on car rides (he gets car sick if he cannot see out and all of the seats are currently stowed), joined me in sorting all of the treasures into groups for each of the four children. He nodded his head in approval. These kids meant a lot to him as they are all victims of domestic violence and he could easily relate. "I hope there is a reason to smile in each of these packages," he fretted. White Dog suggested, "let's include a tiny bit of our floof in each package, if we believe and add our White Dog energy,  maybe things will get better for them and they will know safety, life without fear, and love!"


December 11, 2014

White Dog looked at snake who was abandoned by Zsofia just seconds before. "Remember the story of Snake," she asked me. It is our Throw Back Thursday tale.

Of course I did. I picked the battered and chewed in a million places stuffie up from the floor and smiled. "It was when YoYoMa was on his way to us," I recalled. "Yeah and the fact that he left HIS snake back in California almost caused the whole adoption to fall through," WD added shaking her head at the memory.

YoYoMa's story was a sad one of health catastrophes and abuse and his rescuer was a concerned friend not an experienced person at saving and rehoming pups. She bounced back and forth several times before it seemed all was good to go for YoYo to join the White Dog Army. The Eskie Railroad picked him up in Northern California and had not been on the road for more than an hour when the rescuer called me.

"Tell them they have to bring YoYo back," she said. It took many minutes to cut through her nervousness to find out that she was worried that Yo would be distraught without the green snake that had been his favorite toy while he was with her. After even more time, I was able to convince her that I would go out that very day and buy a snake EXACTLY like his to have ready to give him the moment he arrived at White Dog Ranch. She vowed to report the dog stolen if I did not keep my promise. She sent me a photo so I would be sure to not make a mistake...and I emailed back a photo showing that I had accomplished the task.
One of the stops during Yo's transport to us was a couple of days as a guest of Big Carl and his family (they still lived in California then). Even though they had no green snake, our boy had a fantastic time.

When YoYoMa arrived and discovered that we had an entire toy box full of neat toys with great smells he was not at all interested in the snake. I posed him with the snake and shot a photo to send so that the rescuer would be at peace.

He never has played with the snake. Puff loved it for a while and ate its head in her attempt to find and remove the squeakers. Taiko sometimes seems to enjoy stepping on it to make noise. Bella has experimented chewing on its tail.

It is one of Zsofia's favorite playthings. She loves to just grab and bite at it until you beg her to stop making it "scream." She drags it around and pounces on it. She uses it as a lure to entice Sachi to try to grab the other end. And now, YoYoMa will occasionally go over and give it a sniff or a taste, then leave it for the kid to enjoy.

Throw Back Thursday: Shortly after YoYoMa arrived in 2011, she discovered the green snake that had been specially bought for him. He never cared much about it, but she greatly enjoyed eating its head.


December 10, 2014

White Dog was consulting with Steve early this morning as he worked on the 2014 White Dog Army Christmas Card. It makes her nervous when there is not a Plan and a Schedule; to her the card still being just a work in progress at this late date was nerve wracking.

And when Sachi joined them and began distracting Steve by asking about all kinds of computer special effects, WD just about lost her Christmas Spirit. "You boys can PLAY anytime," she complained as they laughed and got silly. "If we don't get done with this soon there will be NO point!"

"You sound like momma does sometimes," Steve told her thinking I was asleep and didn't hear that. Actually my girl DID sound like me and I was smiling to myself in pride.

Zsofia left her kennel and headed for the office. A few minutes later White Dog hopped up on the bed next to me. She settled against me with a disgruntled sigh. "I'll be surprised if we EVER end up with a card," she huffed. "NOW the three of them are in there laughing as dad stretches Zso's photo like it is a carnival mirror. I wish they would just FOCUS!"

I stroked her silky fur and totally understood. "Let's rest a bit more," I told her, "then you and I can go over the cookie list for next week and make a REAL plan!" She snuggled closer. "A plan with a schedule and organization?" "Yes, my love. And we will make sure things are done according to the plan."

White Dog licked my cheek. "I love you, too, Little White Dog of My Heart!"