Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dr Seuss

We missed the birthday celebration for Dr Seuss the other day. Mom didn't have it on the calendar. We like his books because of the silly rhymes. 
So In honor of Dr Seuss, we asked Mom to write a silly rhyming poem for us to post. Here's what she came up with and remember, we love her but she's no Dr Seuss.

What makes you happy?
A puppy that's yappy?

A tiny grey kitten?

A wooly red mitten?

A soft summer shower?

A peach tree in flower?

 A spin on a bike?

A long nature hike?

 A nap by the fire?
 A breezy kite flyer?

A fluffy white cloud?

 Playing music real loud?

No answer is wrong.
We each sing our own song.

The best thing for me
 A warm head on my knee.

With soft liquid eyes

So gentle and wise.

 A dog's love is the best.

You can keep all the rest.

Happy birthday Dr Seuss.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

At The Ballet

Swan Lake?

Or Frog Pond?

Saturday, February 28, 2015


I love language. I think a lot about words and have some word games that fascinate me. Just think about it, each and every one of us can speak at least one language. I am writing words now that will be read by people I'll never meet in places I'll never see. How cool is that?
Some of us are fortunate enough to know several languages. I would love to speak French and maybe I'll take the time to learn. I know a little Spanish, a little Russian and I studied Latin for several years, though no one I know speaks it. Still I find it useful more than you'd expect. I also understand a fair amount of Dog and Cat and some Budgie. I don't speak those last three, but I can usually understand them when friends speak to me.

English is an intresting language. I like the idea that there are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Examples are: to, too and two. Or how about rain,


and reign.

Or the one that gives so many of us trouble: there, their and they're.

Then there are the words that have two very different meanings for the very same word.

and rock.
Which bring me back to the title of this post... flapper.
My Grandmother was married in 1925 and wore a red Flapper dress at her wedding. I don't know if she would have described herself as a Flapper, but those were the times and she was young and I guess would be considered a Flapper. This is a stock photo from Google, not my Grandmother, but this was the style at the time.
I now have a different definition of the word Flapper, another Google pic.

Every morning one of the first sounds I hear is the shaking of ten furry heads and flapping of 20 ears. It's part of the morning wake up routine. Another part is a strange sound that Fudge makes, part yodel, part gurgle. I can't make the sound myself, I've tried. He makes this noise only first thing in the morning and Noah also does it. Sky did too. None of the girls do it. I don't know why the boys do this or what it means, but I choose to believe they're saying "Good Morning". I'm still not fluent in Dog.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Who Needs A Groundhog?

When Rob and I were first married, we lived in Indiana, Pennsylvania, not far from Punxsutawney. We never got to meet their most famous resident but of course, we were aware of him, as are most people in this country. A couple things have always bothered me about Punxsutawney Phil. First, I'm not thrilled that Groundhog Day is the day after my birthday. It just seems silly.

Second, of course poor Phil is going to see his shadow. They drag him out of his den in the middle of the night when any smart groundhog is sound asleep and surround him with bright lights. How could he not see a shadow?
Third, February 2 is six weeks from March 21, the first day of Spring. Therefore, Phil must predict six more weeks of winter, because that's what the calendar tells us.

But we dog owners have a much better, absolutely sure way to predict the coming of Spring. DOG HAIR!
 Yes, as any owner of a heavy coated breed knows, think Husky or St Bernard, our dogs start heavy shedding as Spring approaches. Our St Bernard, Brandy, used to look as if she was coming apart at the seams, as huge chunks of fur came off. It was impossible to keep up with the brushing.

Tsar would leave an outline of himself in hair whenever he stood up from a nap. I was able to grab hunks of hair from his back legs and still more would pop out.

Porties, contrary to popular belief, do shed but because they don't have an undercoat, they are mild shedders. Sebastian, on the other hand, is our current predictor of the change of seasons.

You in the Northeast will be happy to hear that he has started his Spring shedding. The last few days he's been leaving mouse sized pieces of black hair all over the place.
Keep your silly groundhog, our dogs are better predictors of when Spring will be here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mom's Little Helper

Aren't dogs amazing? The personalities are as varied as the human population. Portuguese Water Dogs were bred to work on fishing boats and in the water. When they were in dock, they were to stay aboard and guard the boat. During the winter when the boats didn't go out to sea, they often acted as shepherds for  flocks of sheep. They needed lots of different talents to be a well rounded Portie. Many of these talents have shown up in my dogs. I didn't teach them these things so I guess centuries of breeding are there in the genes.
Most, but not all my dogs love the water.  Sky and Bailey have no interest in water and stay as far from it as possible. They would stick their heads in water to grab a treat such as a hot dog or piece of apple, but they don't want to swim. That's OK. Lola was slow to become interested in water but last year was jumping into the wading pool along with the others. Tess, Fudge and Noah all like the water but Samba and Norma Jean and Gracie are obsessed with water. We need to hang on to all three in the boat. They'd be happy to jump off and swim to our destination. Norma Jean cannot resist putting her feet in the water bowl whenever she passes it. This means we have to refill the water bowl many times and  do some mopping up on a frequent basis.
Samba had a great nose. I learned to never leave a treat in a jacket pocket. She would sniff it as she walked by, pull the jacket down and work tirelessly at getting the treat out of the pocket. Happily, she never chewed thru the jacket to get her reward. Her daughter, Bailey has inherited her mother's nose. She loves following trails and usually has her nose to the ground tracking whatever creatures may have been in the yard. If I was more motivated I'd get her into a nosework class. I think she'd love it. She also has another talent that has been very helpful to me. She can find almost anything we happen to lose in the yard. This includes dog tags, Syd's collar, parts from the mower and recently, a piece of my windchime that came apart in the bad weather. Sometimes she finds them as she's checking out the yard and other times I'll tell her to 'go find' and she does.
Another talent that has been useful is Norma Jean's herding instinct. You first must understand Norma jean. She lives to help. She absolutely adores me and wants to do anything that will help me. This began as soon as she was born. Even with eyes and ears still closed, she would sniff my presence and come crawling toward me. Once the eyes opened, she was always watching me. She still does. If she senses that I need something, she will try her best to help me.
Sometimes at our last call at night, a couple of the dogs may not want to come in. They may find something interesting at the bottom of the hill and not come when I call. Norma Jean always comes when I call her, though I don't usually have to call. As soon as I open the door, she comes racing to me with her back end wiggling. I don't go down the hill at night unless it's an emergency so I have to keep calling to get my stragglers in.
One night a couple years ago, Norma Jean was waiting inside the garage as I called Tess. Tess didn't  come and I was getting frustrated. Suddenly Norma Jean burst out the garage door and stood looking around. She spotted Tess and took off toward her.  As Tess continued to ignore us, Norma Jean crashed into her, sending her flying. Then she got behind Tess and herded her up the hill to me. When they got to me, Norma Jean was so pleased that she couldn't stand still. She danced all around the garage.
A few nights later, the scene was repeated with Lola. Norma Jean knows the names of each of her siblings and will go after whichever dog I tell her to get. It always works and now after being hit broadside by the rather solid Norma Jean, the others see her coming and decide it's time to come in.
Over the last few weeks with the weather being bad, the dogs haven't spent as much time outside as they would like and everyone is a little restless. Tempers can flare under those circumstances, even with humans. I've noticed that Norma Jean is getting a little too bossy. She's pushing her sisters around when she thinks they need to do whatever she thinks they should be doing. The others are starting to resent Norma Jean pushing them around and are snapping back at times. Nothing serious is happening, just some sisters saying, "leave me alone."  Still, I think it's time to find Norma Jean a new job that she can take pride in, that doesn't involve telling anyone else what to do.
This is going to take a bit of thought and creativity, but I know she'll be more than happy with whatever I decide on. Norma Jean is the happiest dog I've ever met and she makes everyone around her happy, too.

Friday, February 20, 2015


This will be a long post and maybe not very interesting for many of you, but I'm writing it because I need to reconcile my feelings about what happened on Tuesday evening. My emotions were in conflict with my ethics and that's always an uncomfortable feeling, so now I'm laying it all out there in hopes of clearing my thoughts.

I love dogs. I guess you all know that by now. I love all dogs, purebred and mutts. I know that's not a popular idea with a number of people these days. I think if I read "Adopt, don't shop" one more time, I may throw something. At another time I'll go into why I object to that not well thought out slogan, but this post is about what happened at Westminster on Tuesday.

This year the favorite dog at the 'big show' was Matisse, a Portuguese Water Dog. Matisse is three years old and has already won 238 best in show titles. Thia makes him the most winning male dog in history, only about 40 wins away from being the most winning dog of all. From what I understand from other PWD people and others in the dog show world, he is magnificent with almost perfect conformation. He certainly is beautiful and moves exceptionally well.

Matisse did not win. He did not even come in second. The top prize went to a Beagle. Now I have nothing against Beagles, I used to own one, and Miss P seems to be an excellent example of her breed. Still, I was holding my breath during the final judging, hoping that my breed would win the honor and adulation. When the judge announced the Beagle, I yelled NO, and left the room, just as Fudge reported yesterday. I also used some language that was unnecessary. Sorry.

I've been thinking about this for a couple days and last night I was talking it out with Rob, when I had to admit that if I were the judge, I would not have chosen Matisse. Given the group that he had before him, I would probably have made the same decision and chosen the Beagle.
Here's why. Every breed in the American Kennel Club has a standard written by the breed club which consists of breeders, owners and people who love that particular breed. The standard goes into every detail about the breed. It covers size, both height and weight.

It covers what the ears should look like. How does it walk?
 It goes into detail about every aspect of the dog. Is the coat long, short or missing? And what colors should they be?
The standard tells what sort of temperament the breed should have. Is it merry, strong willed, protective, etc

The standard for the Portuguese Water dog is detailed, too. It talks about coat type and how it should be clipped. Two clips are acceptable in the USA.
        The retriever - in order to give a natural appearance and a smooth unbroken line, the entire coat is scissored or clipped to follow the outline of the dog, leaving a blanket of coat no longer than one inch in length. The hair at the end of the tail is left at full length.
         The lion clip - As soon as the coat grows long, the middle part and hindquarters, as well as the muzzle, are clipped. The hair at the end of the tail is left at full length.

Matisse was not groomed to the standard. His coat was sculpted for show purposes. When I showed Samba and Fudge, I showed them in retriever clips and always had them clipped to one inch. We were the only dogs in the ring with the short coats called for in the standard, the others were four to six inches long . At our last show the judge told me that Fudge needed more coat. He did give us a first place, though. That was when I decided that our show career was over. Even the judge didn't know or care about the standard.

The PWD standard goes on to say - The Portuguese Water Dog is spirited yet obedient, robust, and of unexaggerated, functional conformation; sure, substantially boned and muscled, and able to do a full day's work in and out of the water. 

When the judge chose Miss P, the Beagle, he said he could picture her doing the job she was bred for, hunting rabbits in the field. For me, that says it all. Matisse is lovely, but he doesn't look like a dog that would jump out of a boat into cold water to pull nets. He looks like a dog that wouldn't want to get a hair out of place.
In my opinion, the Beagle deserved to win, the PWD did not. Not because he isn't an exceptional dog, because his owners and groomers didn't stick to the standard and didn't allow him to look like a working water dog.

If we write a standard for the breed, then we should aspire to achieve it. If we intentionally go against the standard, than we don't deserve to win. Do I think the PWD community will learn anything from this? No.