November 26, 2014

White Dog and I tried to quietly sneak past all of the seriously sleeping White Dogs to begin a little prep work for the baking I will do for Thanksgiving. We didn't even make it past the threshold to the kitchen when I heard Satchi jump down from the cushion he was nanoseconds ago snoring upon. And then it was a domino effect...Bella came rushing from under the chair, followed by little waddling Jupiter. Skye was already sleeping in the kitchen and SHE woke up; this alerted Daisy on the couch. Zsofia charged in from the bedroom where she had been stretched out in a sunpuddle on the bed. YoYoMa sloooowly stood and extended his back legs, then sauntered in to stand with the crowd. White Dog bumped into Taiko as she went back out to our chair; HE was coming to see if the refrigerator door was open. (One of Tai's favorite pasttimes is to "look" for things with you in the frig but then refuse to bring his head out once the items are retrieved). I had not even mentioned pumpkin or salmon (two favorites) in my getting ready list.

I looked helplessly across the room at WD. "I am just going to peel apples," I told the crowd. No one moved. "And chop celery...and maybe onions," I continued. Puff came in and sat at my feet. Yo laid down "I can't even move with everybody surrounding me like this," I begged.

"Give it up, momma," White Dog advised from her comfortable bleacher seat. "Wait for dad to come home and help. At least then you have a distraction or can divide the masses. For now, the best you can hope for is that the blizzard parts to let you come back out here. Try bribery."

I moved to left and managed a half step. I tried to go to the counter and was swept along by the white surge. WD was right...

"OK, if you all let me get back to my chair, we'll have jerky!" I announced. I knew when to restrategize. "Jerky time!" I repeated. And magically, a passage opened and I walked back into the living room where I sat down. The fissure closed and once again I was totally enclosed in floof.

Wagging tails and expectant faces waited while I reached for the bag.

November 25, 2014

White Dog looked down from the arm of the chair. "Coffee head!" she sneered. She was ignored, so she repeated her taunt a little louder. "Stop! you are being a brat," I chastised her.

The truth was that Zsofia WAS a coffee head. Just like she is most mornings.

YoYoMa started the White Dog Morning Coffee Club when he joined us years ago. At first it was just he and I sharing my first cup of half coffee, half heavy cream of the day. He has always taken just three slurps and is done. Then Quinn, mostly out of jealousy, joined the Club and demanded longer sips as he came to savor the rich creamy taste. And then Oso delicately lapped at the cup mostly for the brotherly solidarity of the ritual; often his little tongue never even touched liquid. None of the girls was ever interested and the boys were ok with that.

These days it is Yo and I; some mornings Sachi joins us. Taiko comes over to sniff the cup each morning and turns his head away in rejection. It is a special moment between my Big Boy and I as we hover together over my "Eskie Mom" mug. He can be a kind of sloppy drinker whose big deep slurps splash onto my little area rug. Over time I came to realize he did this on purpose because when his drinks are done, he sinks to his belly and snoofles up the drops from the rug.

Zsofia is intensely curious about our habit. She managed to get a drink once by shoving her head under my arm and plunging her snout fully into the cup. Zso wants to join the club.

"You are too young to drink coffee," I have told her. "You are just a baby. We will discuss coffee drinking when you are a grownup." This does not make her happy. So she hovers and stalks and maneuvers trying to sneak in a taste.

She has found a weak point in the system that sometimes grants her a few drops if she is quick enough...she scrunches down and lowers her head so that she is positioned under the cup when Yo takes his slurpy drink. If she has done her physics correctly SHE wins the drops that fall to the area rug...a miscalculation results in a darker shade of White Dog with mocha spots all over her ears and back of her head. Thus, WD's moniker.

YoYoMa is a good brother and has tried to show her how to try to get the drops off of her head and into her mouth by grooming her head and face like a cat does, but has given up because she is hopelessly four-months old.

HER solution is to shake her entire body vigorously and then roll allover the carpet.


November 24, 2014

White Dog stepped gingerly over the mess and took her bed in Steve's closet. She sighed a deep and heavy breath. The mattress in front of her was covered in stuffing and shredded rope and lots of torn bits of fabric. I looked at her sympathetically.

The remains were those of One Armed Teddy Bear on a Rope. It was one of White Dog's cherished childhood toys. Her baby teeth and my stuffie ER skills back then saved her Bear from bleeding out. It was all of those years ago he became one armed and he has lived a quiet but happy life in the toy box since, occasionally nibbled at by YoYoMa but for the most part safe and warm with the other playthings outgrown.

One of the most wonderful things to watch as the White Dog Army learns how to incorporate a baby into our pack is that some of our members are for the first times in THEIR lives exploring pup play that they missed out on.

Bella was a breeder mill pup who was pressed into "service" as soon as her body was able. We are certain that she never had opportunities to play with toys or wrestle with other pups. We know that until she was rescued our Beautiful Tiny Dancer had never walked on grass so it is not a far jump to assume her puppyhood was not joyful.

She has in the past several weeks begun to take more of an interest in Zsofia's activities. In fact, they now regularly wrestle together and play "chase" in the yard. She has also watched the baby's fixation on all of the toys in the toybox. Zsofie regularly empties the toys from their holding bin onto the floor in the living room where she can devote time to each...chewing, asking to play fetch, just carrying some around.

Bella has begun to copy this activity. Steve now has to make sure there are no toys hidden under the chair, in Bella's treasure cave, which is close to the heating duct. She and Zso seem to delight in stealing toys back and forth from each other as well.

And that brings us back to One Armed Teddy on a Rope. It was a collaborative work of deconstruction...Bella destroyed the body and pulled out stuffing; Zsofia, lying calmly at Bella's side,  gnawed the braided rope that held Bear's torso until it was just bits of red and white string confetti.

White Dog looked at me as Steve gathered up OATBEOAR. I sadly shook my head. This time even momma's ER skills with a needle and thread would not be able to save Teddy. WD followed Steve as he took her childhood friend outside to the trash bin. He let he sniff "goodbye" and then wrapped him in a grocery bag and sent him to be recycled.


November 23, 2014

White Dog has become a bit of a canine sociologist since Quinn's passing. She, like me, is constantly intrigued in the wondrous interactions that go into building a family of strangers. Also like me, she is awestruck at the myriad of paths taken by the individuals of the White Dog Army that ultimately seem to lead to the same place...developing trust and a total belief that they are "home."

In particular we were discussing Zsofia and Jupiter and their additions over the summer to our White Dog Army. When Candace came to live with us, she brought alone her Eskies, Skye and Daisy. Both girls have been with her through all the difficulties she has faced and their survival mechanism (all three) has been to cling to each other as life rafts. Both girls move within the WDA without problem but they are most comfortable when they, and Candace are together. When she is not home, the girls join us but tend to stick together on the couch.

Candace adopted Jupiter from Albuquerque's shelter. The little old partially blind girl had been dumped by her owner's family after the woman had passed away. Poor Jupiter at 12 years old have previously been the pampered child of an indulgent human; she was confused and lost at the shelter.

Amazingly Jupiter and Candace bonded instantly; Skye and Daisy accepted her as one of them. In a happier times past, they had been exposed to foster sisters.

Jupiter fit right into their small family but astonishingly seems to think of all of us as her family. She is the only one of Candace's pups who regularly strolls into our house through the dog door, inviting herself to hang out or snack. The WDA doesn't seem to even notice that she is not white...or that she has begun to have her favorite spots to nap and supervise. In Jupiter's eyes, it seems, that she has inherited a HUGE family and lots of places to feel safe.

Zsofia has never known hardship in her short life. She thinks the entire world has been put before he to discover and enjoy. The "new" puppy was only with us for a few days before Candace and her girls moved in and Candace has played a crucial role in helping with potty training and babysitting tasks. Our baby, now a tall lanky teen, still thinks nothing of leaping into her arms to give kisses...or push her way into the Studio to watch movies from under Candace's bed.

Like Jupiter, Zsofia believes that we are all one pack and that she is invited to participate in everybody's business.

Sachi is the only one of the "mature" members of the WDA who is so free with including himself in what goes on in both homes. But he, we all laugh, views himself as the girls "Mighty Protector" and those living in the Studio part of his "harem." He will go visiting there, plop down on the bed and check out bowls for leftovers. Often Candace has to put him out and shut the door to get him to come back to the main house at bedtime.

All of this White Dog notes and adds to the scholarly journal she keeps on WDA developments. As an only child for so long, she is fascinated. With her interest in comparative studies, she wonders how the body of her observations could provide insights into human behavior. As a writer, she thinks there may be a major motion picture somewhere hidden in this all.


November 22, 2014

White Dog and The White Dog Army were torn about the changes to this year's Thanksgiving plans. They were certainly delighted at the thought of an at-home family dinner. Not so thrilled at the probability that Steve will be madly working on his thesis which is due the first of December. We were all saddened at the thought that Michael would not be with us, but we ARE excited to share the day with Candace and her girls.

This was our planning session. And we had to consider some complications...like Candace's job at the airport demanded that she actually work. Steve's school demands pretty much ruled out our traditional trip to the Bosque del Apache to visit the migrating Snow Geese, Cranes, Canada Geese, and various ducks. We would be homebound this year.

Wags appeared and lips were licked as we acknowledged the challenges and turned our focus to the menu. Eating good food always makes a day festive; this was White Dog's logic.

"Well, turkey, of course," started YoYoMa. "Pumpkin pie!" the entire WDA howled. "with LOTS of whipped cream!" "Potatoes and kale au gratin," Bella suggested. "No! Mashed potatoes," Taiko argued. Sachi whispered something to him and Taiko responded, "Oh, wait those are the ones with lots of cheese! I am ok with Au gratin."

"How about some vegetables," I asked. "I could do my grandmother's recipe for fried okra and make biscuits," Candace volunteered. The WDA nodded knowing that Southern cooking would be an excellent addition to our usual. "Apples and green beans with pecans," Puff piped in. "I heard a lady talking about it in the Pet Emporium and it sure sounded yummy." "Don't forget cranberries," WD reminded. "And we need to make that awesome sausage and veggie stuffing. We have to, momma has made that for me every year. Oh, and of course cheese before; nice ones like I like."

"We are missing sweet potatoes," Skye said. "We should make OUR mom's salmon patties too," Daisy volunteered. Jupiter barked her agreement.

"Whoa, gang! We are but three humans and an Army of pups. this is a LOT of food!" "Leftovers, momma," WD pointed out. "There is always supposed to be leftovers.

After more discussion we agreed that Thursday, actual Thanksgiving we would brunch on grazing food like cheeses, salmon, sweet potato pancakes, and fruit smoothies. Candace must be to work by 1pm and does not return until after nine.

On Friday, when everyone is home, we will cook a traditional turkey meal. Everyone loves the idea of two days together to celebrate all of the things for which we are grateful.

White Dog looked at me and said, "Well?" The little white dog of my heart, I love her because she is often so much like me. I knew what she wanted.

"I will get to work right away on the grocery list and a schedule. Let's not forget the sunflowers for the table. It will be a wonderful day." She wagged and I kissed her head.


November 21, 2014

White Dog put on her stern face. "Thought you and dad were just running to the grocery and to the fish market," she stormed. "It has been DAYS!" Mind you, it was fifteen minutes past normal dinner time.

"Where have you..." then she noticed the stack of white styrofoam boxes...actually the entire White Dog Army did. They quickly closed in to surround Steve who high-stepped out to the kitchen to set them WAY back on the counter.

"YOU WENT OUT FOR DINNER!" it was an accusation, meant to make us feel guilty at the thought of seven White Dogs nearly perishing from hunger as we dallied and laughed and enjoyed a gourmet repast. Steve snuck back out to grab the groceries. I faced down the floofy hoard.

"Yes, and did you notice? We did not for a moment forget you! So be patient a few more minutes and you shall belatedly share." "Share from WHERE?" White Dog demanded. "I am not really in the mood for Italian."

"Well then how about Marisco's Alta Mar? Are you in the mood for some Mexican seafood?" Instantly the WDA sat and watched as Steve opened the containers and began making White Dog dinners. Atop of their usual fare, each pup received a wedge of shrimp quesadilla, a spoon of octopus fajitas (no onions), and a bit of mojarra frito with garlic. Tails pounded the floor in anticipation. Even White Dog hopped down and moved to the chair where she perches to eat.

Not a sound was heard as the WDA chowed through their meals. After, Zsofia pointed out that this was the first time she had ever eaten octopus and asked what it was. Her siblings had great sport painting a picture of a monstrous multi-tentacled beast that would wrap her tight if she was ever captured.

Once they had teased the baby into sitting on Steve's lap for protection, they all lined up in front of me. The look was expectant. "Did you enjoy?" I asked. Heads nodded but the look persisted. "But?" YoYoMa cleared his throat. "Aren't you forgetting something?" I looked blank.

"THE FLAN!" was the chorus that answered me. "Sorry, pups, no flan. Not for you. Not for us." Once the shock washed over the WDA, the crowd began to disperse, muttering about the impossibility of NOT having flan to end such an excellent Mexican meal. "What should we do," Steve asked as he worried about disappointing the pack. "We should let them digest a wonderful meal, give them bed time walks in a bit, and night-night treats. They will live and will certainly NOT starve." From somepup in the hallway I heard the softest whisper, "meanie mom!"


November 20, 2014

White Dog loves Throwback Thursday. She especially loves looking at and trying to figure out what life must have been like in the ancient days...before she came to us. These were our pets in 1998, the year we moved from Chicago to Albuquerque. There were NO White Dogs and certainly no White Dog Army. White Dog remembers Milo but the others had all crossed the Rainbow Bridge before she was born.

In 1998, it was just...
Sheena, our first rescue.
Duke, named for the Duke of Albuquerque, our 5-1/2" long iguana
Milo, named for Venus di Milo,  our hellion three-legged iguana who grew to be 5' long and who loved Quinn once he arrived years later.
And Bert, our sweet Bearded Dragon boy, a rescued homeschool science project.


November 19, 2014

White Dog followed my gaze to where Puff lie sleeping on her mattress on the hearth. "She was the hardest one to win over, wasn't she?" the Little White Dog of My Heart asked.

When Steve flew in Terry's streamlined little racing plane to rescue Still Another White Dog, she was broken and nearly feral. Heart worm Stage 3+, ears scabbed and scarred from flea bites, thin lackluster fur, and eyes that never stopped darting and looking for escape. She had been kept outdoors in all seasons of Kansas weather with no shelter save straw strew on the ground. An ex-breeder bitch past her usefulness in a backyard breeder situation gone VERY wrong.

She was terrified of her new surroundings and made a beeline out of the dogdoor to the back corner of the yard where she tried to climb the block wall to escape or dig a nest for herself at every opportunity. For weeks I cried myself to sleep in White Dog's furs because Puff would not even let me touch her. On the sage advice of friends, I learned to sit quietly and ignore her...as hard as it was...waiting for her curiosity to override her fear. Eventually she came close; then actually touched my outstretched hand; and finally, nearly three months later, allowed me to briefly stroke her neck.

Puff arrived four years ago. Today.

In that time Puff the Magical has grown into her name. She is the most tenacious being I have ever met. SAWD is the embodiment of my motto, "NEVER Surrender!" She is the inspiration for what I want to be when I am 87. (At 16 dog years, that is my Little Old Lady's approximate human age).

But she is not forceful. Puff has never been one to insist on a pack rank but confidently accepts the reality that they all are really equals. Just as quietly she nurtures. Zsofia had a baby fascination with Puff that as the "baby" grew was enough to knock Puff off of her feet. She is the one who sat with Quinn, cuddled with Nuka, spent hours beside the buggy that held Oso during his final days. SAWD is the one who saw Taiko's grief the other night over Michael's sudden departure and softly settled touching her brother's paw...and that is how they spent the night. And of course, YoYoMa thinks our cougar is one hot momma. Each of the White Dogs has felt the benefit of The Magical's caring nature.

She is not a softy, though. Make no mistakes. Puff is the only member of the White Dog Army who White Dog allows to prance close and challenge her; SAWD is the senior most member of the WDA both in age and in how long she has been with us. And Bella has experienced a few disciplinary nips as Puff mentored the "new" girl in the White Dog Army way.

From waiting and praying that my Little Old Lady would someday let me caress her, I have somehow earned her love and trust. Some of the most precious moments of my day are those times when all of the WDA is napping except she and I. She will sit next to me, two peaceable old ladies. Together we will watch the trees bend in the wind or the shadows on the wall.And then without a word or big too-do, Puff will reach out and cover my foot with her paw. And there we will remain, joined congenially as we observe the passage of life.

This morning we all shared bacon and oatmeal with butter and cream...Puff is a breakfast lover at heart. It was a clear blue day (just like the one on which she arrived). And we celebrated our girl.

Happy Gotcha Day, Puff The Magical, Still Another White Dog! You are our matriarch and we hope you know how totally and completely you are loved. Siku Marie, YoYoMa, Taiko the Tender Heart, Bella E. Premurosa, Sachi the Undaunted, Zsofia the Sky Eyed, Dad and I all hope to have you with us for many many more of these celebrations.  Without you we would be less.


November 18, 2014

White Dog, the rest of the White Dog Army, Daisy, Skye and Jupiter all gathered around Candace's laptop and my computer screen. We were all wagging with excitement. The last flourishes were added. In just hours we would make history.

The receipt of Paws to People's official non profit status (the holy grail from the IRS, our 501c3) in mid-summer marked the true beginning of our mission to support comparative studies research for some of the nearly 400 diseases shared by pets and humans. Now we could raise the dollars needed to fund our very first pilot studies and seed grants to generate new insights and ideas that will build bridges to cures for monsters like cancer, epilepsy, diabetes.

Our biggest effort to date is a fundraising auction that P2P is holding on Facebook beginning Wednesday, November 19th, and continuing until the 30th. We don't come asking often but we are asking for your support in making sure our first ever grants will be able to push creative ideas that consider possibilities that may unlock the secrets to ending a catastrophic illness that takes too many too soon.

The talented authors, craftspeople, artists and artisans of our Blog family have been more than generous in donating an incredible treasure trove of items. Many of you have kindly added items that will delight and amaze. And to each of you we are more than grateful.

We ask that those in our community who are also socially networked on Facebook help us by attending, bidding, and sharing the word about this Event. To view items Go to the Paws to People Facebook page (Like us) then go to the "Photo" tab and click through Albums to Auction Photos. There you can bid as a comment. Please remember you are bidding to help Paws To People's efforts to fund research in the nearly 400 diseases shared by humans and pets. Your generosity and sharing of this Event are vital to building Bridges To Cures!

Here are but a few of the 150 items we have...
Click on  the link to find the auction.


November 17, 2014

White Dog started a pack howl of joy. The entire White Dog Army was well into about the 14th chorus before YoYoMa turned to ask, "Why are we singing?"

The White Dog Army loves when everyday people do amazing things. We believe they should be recognized and applauded. This was one of those moments.

As many are aware Paws To People has an ongoing drive to collect 7,500 pairs of used shoes which will be sent to nations in need to teach cobbling skills and then promote small business enterprises. For collecting the shoes, our non-profit will earn a sizable finder's fee...which in turn will allow P2P to focus more donor dollars on funding research to fight the nearly 400 diseases that pets and humans share...like cancer and epilepsy. We have collected nearly 2,300 pairs.

One of our most enthusiastic volunteers is a middle school student, Casey, who took the idea of holding a shoe drive to his school and convinced the Student Council to, indeed, hold a school-wide competition for classes to collect shoes for us. It is a little school of less than 400 students total, our Public Academy of Performing Arts.

The President of the Student Council called to ask if we could pick up shoes today. "Sure," I said, thinking we would bring the WDA along to express their thanks; thinking the kids would love them. Then she said, "We have 551 pairs."

Five Hundred Fifty One Pairs collected in one month. Five Hundred Fifty One Pairs!

Five Hundred Fifty One Pairs of shoes in Pumpkin meant that the WDA could not go along to show their gratitude. In fact, Steve was worried whether we could fit that many shoes in the van.

But we did...with the help of these awesome young people! Young people who loved the idea of saving pets and people and who pushed and badgered and convinced their fellow classmates and teachers to empty their closets. What incredible potential this group has!

And the best part? Just as the White Ones finished singing, the phone rang. It was their faculty adviser...11 more pairs of shoes had arrived since we were there just an hour earlier!

Sometimes the world just slaps you in the face with wonder.