Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Who is it? Candygram,ma'am.

Land Shark
 Cue the Jaws theme . . .
  • Victim: Yes?
  • Shark: Mrs. Arlsburg?
  • Victim: Who?
  • Shark: Mrs. Barganuke?
  • Victim: Who is it?
  • Shark: Flowers.
  • Victim: Flowers for whom?
  • Shark: Plumber ma'am.
  • Victim: I don't need a plumber. You're that clever shark aren't you
  • Shark: Candygram.
  • Victim: Candygram my foot. You get out of here before I call the police. You're the shark and YOU know it.
  • Shark: Wait. I'm only a dolphin, ma'am.
  • Victim: A dolphin? Well, okay. (Opens door and screams)
Right, that's from the infamous SNL Land Shark skit from November 1975. Who remembers watching that live on that Saturday night?  Hey, all you people under 40 can put your hands down now. We know better.

My generation not only was there for this landmark comedy, but we repeated the dialog as a running gag.

Some of have even kept it up for the last 37 years.

Candygram, ma'am

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A vengeful spirit

Here to serve as comic relief after that ghost story post is Banana Dog. Jager's snappy costume from a couple of years ago, one in which he agreed to be a good sport about it all.  Here's my dignity, y'all, says Jager. At least she lets me carry it around on a stick.

But the vengeful little spirit got me back by unloading himself about a half mile into our trick-or-treat walk through the 'burb.  And so I got to carry a steaming bag of shame all the way back home.  Dang, Jager, I gag out. What'd ya eat for dinner tonight, a possum or something? 

And anyway, I continue as a family with a Sponge Bob kid gives us a wide berth. You went before we even left our yard.

Nanner nanner, says Jager.

Ghosts in the walls

Now keep in mind that older houses make noises, explains my mom. They creak and moan, but it's just the sounds of the house settling. I don't want you to get scared when you hear weird things.

We nod at this new information. My sister and I were at the terribly impressionable ages of eight and nine, my brother just a babe in arms, when we were plucked from our cozy ranch house in the 'burbs. After moving from one platted neighborhood to the next, and changing schools three times, the rents had bought a small farm in the country. A few furrowed acres of neighbor buffer, a rutted gravel lane and the pre-civil war farmhouse that became our final childhood home. 

The house was indeed aged. Built up from the original rough hewn log cabin, it was two stories of living space with a dirt floor cellar. Questionable fuse-style wiring brought us electrical power and we relied on the wood stove in the kitchen as our primary heat source in the winter months.  The outhouse was a two-seater affair, so we were livin' large there.

Ah, just kidding. Kind of. We really did have a two-seater outhouse, but it was just for showing off.  There was plumbing in the house, in both the kitchen and the single bathroom.  Do note that the important adjective of modern  is woefully missing before the word plumbing. The ancient well pump was dependable not at all. But we could count on the kitchen pipes freezing every winter.

Ok, ok, it wasn't this bad.
Yet, looking at this photo does bring up a twinge of nostalgia.
And yeah, those creaks and moans. Like the old house was arthritic with its knees popping as it settled. And Mom's advise was only effective during daylight hours. In the dark of night with the nearest neighbor much further than a B-movie scream away, things could get a little creepy.

My bedroom was upstairs and built directly over the log cabin. Even without a strong wind to help, sounds would come from the very walls like a mournful spirit, only to end their sad song with a sharp snapping noise. The hell with restless spirits, I think now as an adult. I realize now the flippin' house was probably just one "monkeys jumping on the bed" game away from imploding upon itself.

Anyway, one particular summer evening was a night of restlessness for the old homestead. The walls were humming their usual benign sad song, when a thunderclap of a SNAP jolts me awake. I open my eyes and let them adjust to the darkness. A quick scan of the room to be sure everything is still as it should be. Turns out to be a big mistake, that decision.

I see the rocking chair across from my sleepy self and what?  I blink hard. But no, there it is. A face in the chair. No outline of a body, but merely a man's face, middle-aged, weathered by the sun.  Dark eyes fixed on me. Was he watching me sleep? I can actually see the painted design of the back of the rocking chair behind this apparition.

Remember when you were little and scared of monsters under the bed?  Did you ever hold yourself real still and think if you don't move a muscle the monster will either not know you're there, or if it does know, it will think you're maybe already dead?  And Monster Code dictates that there's no glory in menacing dead folk, so you're completely safe, right?

Ok, that same coping skill works for see-through ghost heads in rocking chairs. I slammed my eyes shut so tight I saw stars. One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi . . . how long does one wait for a ghost to disappear?  There's a fire alarm blaring a red alert in my panicked noggin. What seemed like thirty minutes, but was more likely fifteen seconds, I squinted one eye open to look again. And it's gone. Good thing too, because by then I needed to use the bathroom something bad.

I know, I know. The imagination is a powerful thing. And I was just a kid. The story is true and based on my memory, so much so that I could describe the image right down to the deep lines in its forehead. But you know, back then I loved to read the creepy comic books of the '70's like The Witching Hour and Eerie. So yeah, my brain is hard-wired to enjoy a stroll on the creepy side of things. I might have even been tempted to go the Goth route back then, but Gold Circle didn't have have that kind of cutting edge fashion. So I agree, this close encounter with the spiritual realm was all likely a remnant of a child's waking dream.

Sure, now what about the little kid in the Dutchboy haircut that would look out from the living room window?  Now everybody saw that kid's apparition. Who's that little boy, visitors to the farm would ask.  We don't know his name, was our answer. Hard to explain that one off, folks

The farmhouse is gone now. Weeds have overgrown to allow merely a mention of where the foundation still lies. Our childhood home, those walls that witnessed our family history of coming of age and teenage drama that only girls can manage. The walls that moaned as we eventually grew our wings to leave the nest are lost to their own history. Now when we drive past and look across the fields to see where the big white house used to stand tall above the corn, so far back from the road, I wonder. 

Where do ghosts go when the walls are gone?

The red arrow is where the house once stood. The yellow arrow is the nearest road. A quarter mile of gravel lane separates the two arrows.  Take a moment to appreciate the solitude, the privacy, the flippin'  walk to catch the school bus.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Find us on Facebook, says Euka II

Two weeks left until puppy goodness comes our way. As in the final stages of any expectant mom, I've begun some nesting behavior.

Gotta check off . . .
  • puppy proof the house
  • do an inventory of chew toys
  • stock up on paper towels
  • get the crate all soft and comfy
  • buy puppy food
  • find the puppy collar and umbilical leash
Raising a Super Dog
  • create a Facebook page
Yeah, so far I've been able to check of the Facebook thing.  But this might come in handy for y'all.  Clicking Like will get all the latest puppy derring-do right in your newsfeed. 

While the dog blog is updated on a regular schedule of Wordless Wednesdays and Story Sundays, you just never know when a ridiculously adorable photo of Euka II will grace your Facebook feed. 

Cuz you know, it's not every day I drop something stinkin' cute like this into the dog blog.

Euka II waves good-night to her fans on the Eukanuba  Livestream

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Hey Punkin

Micron-ness channeled into a big orange veggie.
How 'bout some dog inspired pumpkin art to get you in the mood for Halloween?

Designed and hacked out by my favorite kid, we have Micron as a punkin head. And his lovely girlfriend Sam brings us a howling werewolf.

I went all demonic face on my orange veggie. It's the only thing I know how to carve. I'm in a pumpkin rut, it seems.

These shots are from the Halloween archives of 2010.

Boo!  Now who's scary, witch?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Character development

Everett hunkered down in the bed awaiting his prey . Ima panther 
in a tree, says Everett. And I'm gonna pounce you.
(screen shot from the Eukanuba Puppy Channel)
Join me in wishing the Canine Companions for Independence E litter a very happy five week birthday, won't you?  It seems these critters have grown in a flash, from little hamster-like buns into for-real puppies with personalities.  So five weeks old means just another three until the pups go out to their puppies raisers.

Eukanuba Puppy Channel voyeurs like myself no longer need to look at the collar color to identify the pups. Which one is throwing his head back in a yowl? Well, that would be the rather vocal Elmo. Hey! I got something important to tell you, says Elmo. Listen up, guys.

The pup army crawling for a sneak attack complete with an adorable puppy pounce onto a littermate? Yep, that's Everett. 

How 'bout the born leader of them all? Proving the birth order theory of first born having strong leadership skills, we have Emma.

The E's were introduced into a new sensory environment this week and we can all watch as they discover their new digs, thanks to Eukanuba's livestream. Here we all can watch as the furries have the room to spread out and show their true character. Oh, see the red slide in the photo? They'll chug their stubby little legs up that thing and go down head first to the other side. Or butt first. Either way, it makes me say d'awww out loud. And under the slide is a blanket that all eight critters love to sleep on. At the same time. It looks like a tribble factory when they stuff themselves under there.

In the next screen shot, we see the E's at dinner time. These pups get weighed by the breeder caretaker to ensure each little chubster is getting their fill and growing appropriately. The weights were shared this week by Eukanuba:

Emma (Red) - 7lbs 9 oz
Everett (Blue) - 7 lbs 10 oz
Ella (Purple) - 7 lbs 3 oz
Elmo (Neon Green) - 7 lbs
Euka II (Neon Pink) - 7 lbs
Ethan (Light Pink) - 7 lbs 6 oz
Emily (Brown) - 6 lbs
Eliza (Turquoise) - 7 lbs

So yeah, some healthy growing pups, right?  So I shouldn't have any concern about Euka II and her seemingly delicate appetite. While her sibs are tucking into their kibble, she's grazing. Grabbing a kibble here and there. Pick up a mouthful, then off to play with a coveted toy. Another visit to the kibble bar and she's on the bed to enjoy the complex flavors.

Euka II takes over the bed during dinner hour. She's noshing
upon a mouthful of kibble here.
(screen shot from the Eukanuba Puppy Channel)
What does this mean? I dunno, we can all speculate and guess and whatever, but really the chick is only five weeks old. But I'd like to say she has problem solving skills. Euka knows while everyone else is distracted, she now has the entire wealth of the playground to herself. Or maybe it's simply that her littermates smell funny to her and that messes with her appetite.

Aw, but no matter. Just look at the weights again. Euka is right in line with her sibs. Well yeah, expect for Mt. Everett*, the chunky monkey of the litter.  Gotcha covered, Euka, says Everett. I'll make sure you're share of the kibble is eaten. Taking one for the team here.

But it's important to be sure on these things, right? These are important puppies with that whole assistance dog destiny thing looming ahead. So we sent in an expert after dinnertime to get a second opinion.

She's full, cap'n, says Ethan.

Photo courtesy of Chris Kittredge Photography

*I cannot take credit for this nickname, even though I really want to. Ella's puppy raiser came up with this moniker for the chubster.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Caption This #7

You hafta wipe your paws, Yaxley! reminds Micro.  Neener neener!

Ah, it's been too long between Caption This challenges. Here's a shot that makes me laugh every time I look at it.

The expressions on the dog faces just are too precious.  Micron with his neener neener attitude and Yaxley looks like aw, man . . . just let me in.

Any other ideas for a caption?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

News hound

Would you photoshop a halo for me, Food Lady? asks the lovely Inga
puppy.  What? No, there's nothing in my mouth.
You know how you can tell you're in the home of a first time puppy raiser?

Oh, there are the subtle signs if you look in the right places.  See the tv remote held together with a rubber band? How 'bout those flip flops pockmarked with dental imprints? The ink pen next to the phone has been so chewed upon that you wonder how it can even work, let alone still be held comfortably.

And the puppy raiser has that hyper-vigilant look about her, always aware of where the puppy is and what she may be chewing on now.

In-GA! I call in a sing-song voice. Where ARE you?

Ah, our beautiful, intelligent, challenging first puppy, the lovely Inga.  She taught us how to be puppy raisers, absolutely true. But even more, she showed us what this gig is about.

Why we want to go through the house-breaking and puppy proofing of our humble abode. The reason for the consistent training, the socialization.

Because really, I'm just sweet thing.
And why the heartache of saying good-bye after our eighteen months of constant companionship is so completely worth it.

This past CCI August graduation became an experience of mental grounding. We were returning Yaxley to CCI that afternoon and working through the tender emotions that insist on squeezing your heart. This day brought something new to twist things up though. We were completely jazzed to find that Inga and her family made the trip to Dublin to attend the graduation.

Although we've had the supreme blessing to be able to keep in touch, we hadn't seen Inga, Joseph and Julie since graduation two years prior. Near the the end of the luncheon, Julie says, would you mind holding Inga for a few minutes? I need to go see someone.

She hands the leash to me. Inga with her cool brown eyes looks from the Husband, then over to me. [blink] Then back to him and again to me. And for a brief minute, after it clicks, she becomes a puppy again.  Oh my dog! she says.It's you guys!

Inga in deep thought about what to chew next.
She gives a courageous struggle to maintain her training before she loses the fight. Then just as quickly, she composes herself and is once again a professional. Why hello, Inga says. It's so very nice to see you both.

That brief puppy remembrance is now safely stored away as one of the best moments of my life.

Julie returns and I hand the leash back to her and Joseph.

Thank you for letting us spend a few minutes with Inga, I say, I can't tell you how much this means to us.

I would never keep her from you, says Julie.

don't cry don't cry don't cry . . . Thank you, I croak. And we move on to talk with Joseph about his upcoming adventures and plans for school this year.


In the news

Joseph and Inga were in the news again this past week.  Click here for the full article at the Tribune-Review.
This time the two of them were raising awareness of the upcoming CCI DogFest to be held in the Pittsburgh area. From the article . . .
[CCI] will host its first Pittsburgh-region fundraiser, DogFest featuring Snoopy and Friends, Oct. 27. It will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at Peterswood Park, Shelter No. 4 in Venetia.  The event will feature a pledge walk with trick-or-treat stops, a silent auction and a costume contest for humans and dogs. All proceeds benefit the organization.

Joseph Leckenby and his assistance dog Inga take a stroll outside their
Mt. Lebanon home Monday, October 8, 2012. Inga graduated through
the program Canine Companions for Independence.
(Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review)

Friends, family and fans of Puppy Inga, be sure to click through the photo gallery on the website link. Our little chewer of things has grown up. And it's a beautiful thing to behold.

“I like her so much,” said Joseph, 13, while sitting in his family’s Mt. Lebanon home with Inga’s head in his lap. 

Please excuse me now. I think I have something in my eye [sniffle].

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: E Litter Puppy Names

The names of Canine Companions for Independence's E Litter puppies were announced this week on Eukanuba's Facebook page.
Euka II at three weeks.
Photo courtesy Chris Kittredge Photography

The extraordinary E litter was born on Friday, September 14 2012.  Mom Taya introduced us to five girls and three boys, all yellow coats.

In birth order (with collar color) we have:

Emma (red)
Everett (blue)
Ella (purple)
Elmo (neon green)
Euka II (neon pink)
Emily (brown)
Ethan (light pink)
Eliza (turquoise)
The Livestream puppy cam* will be available for about another five weeks until these fuzzies are two months old and then next go out to their CCI volunteer puppy raisers.

*The Livestream is now closed.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Introducing Euka II: She's not a tuber

Kiss me, you fool.   
Photo courtesy of Chris Kittredge Photography
(Social media disclaimer. As I talk about Eukanuba, it is as an employee of P&G Pet Care. However, anything I say in praise of Eukanuba supports my personal belief that we make some great pet food now. 'Tis totally true.)
LOOK AT THIS FACE!, I'm saying way too loudly for cube farm environment. We have rules about such behavior, but we don't call them that. It's "open office etiquette" we say, like Emily Post works here at P&G or something. One doesn't disturb one's cubemates with loud exclamations while waving an 8 X 10 photo over one's head.

Never being the kind of girl with an understanding of etiquette skills, let alone reasonable table manners, I'm compelled to bring everyone's attention to a photo of Euka II that was just forwarded to me by email.

And just look at that face, why don't ya? Here's our next CCI pup in training at two weeks old. She's looking directly into the camera with her newly opened eyes and just daring you not to kiss her square on the mouth.

This is Euka II, I explain to Everyone. She's our next CCI office puppy.

What a cute baby, agrees Maria, my Spanish speaking cubemate. You know what we call a yuca, don't you?

A yooka? I ask. With a long u sound? Isn't that a southwestern flower or something. I thought that was yucca.
Photo courtesy of Chris Kittredge Photography

No, that's different. A yuca is like, um, she patiently tries to explain to me. It's a food important to South America. Kind of like a sweet potato. It grows underground, you know?

Ooh, a sweet potato, I think. Holy cow, that's perfect! I look at the photo in my hands. Right, the stinkin' adorable Euka is our little Sweet Tater. I'm seeing her roly poly puppy body with brown-sugar-cinnamon-on-top sweetness. Yummy enough to melt butter.

Actually, says another cubemate. It's usually called a cassava. It's really a tuber.

What's that you say? A tuber? Oh, ugh. The thought balloon over my head audibly pops. Well, doesn't that just suck the romance right out of it?   This puppy is not a tuber, I think.  Naw, I'm sticking with the Sweet Tater image.

So this precious little package of puppy goodness is Euka II, the fifth born of the Eukanuba sponsored E litter for Canine Companions for Independence. She is, of course, taking her noble moniker from the Eukanuba brand. But there's more to it than just that.

Euka II is also the namesake of Euka, our recently retired VP of Canine Communications at P&G Pet Care.  More about Euka can be found at this link. But she was kind of a big deal around P&G. From the news release announcing her retirement after nine years of loyal service to the company . . .

About Euka

Since joining the team in the summer of 2003, she’s been the official greeter of office visitors, represented IAMS and Eukanuba at corporate events and industry activities, supervised numerous shelter makeovers and visited school children to help educate them about the importance of animals and how best to take care of them. In 2004, her celebrity really took off when she became a national “cover dog” by appearing on Fortune Magazine with P&G CEO at the time, A.G. Lafley.
To learn more about and follow the happenings of Griffin, P&G Pet Care’s new V.P. of Canine Communications, visit or

It's an honor, it would seem, to be carrying on the name of Euka here at P&G. And I'm a little crazy jazzed that this little celeb-to-be will be my charge soon.

We do know that Euka II won’t be stepping into Euka’s paw prints in the executive suite. Her replacement, the esteemed Pawl Griffin, has taken on the role of VP of Canine Communications. Instead our Euka II will be hanging with me in Pet Care R&D to learn about her career as a service-pup-in-training.

I shall call him Squishy and he will be mine
and he will be my Squishy.  
Photo courtesy of Chris Kittredge Photography
Three weeks down, five to go, until I can schmoosh my face in hers and get a good whiff of that wonderful puppy smell. Or start her training.  Sure, we'll do that too.

Until that magical time, I'll be cyber stalking the E litter on the Eukanuba Puppy Channel. Have you looked at this in the last couple of days?  The whelping area has been expanded to include a playground for the pups. They've found their legs and are learning to play with each other.

You know, I do declare myself with having earned a Master level at multi-tasking. Well heck, what mom isn't an expert at performing multiple feats? But a warning to even the best of us. I tried running this Livestream and preparing dinner in the evening a couple of times and it kinda ends badly.  If you consider pizza delivery as Plan B as a bad thing.

So forewarned is four-legged. Or something like that.

There's our lil tater in the right in the center of the action.  (screen shot from the Eukanuba Puppy Channel.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Frankenweenie-fy your pet

What a handsome devil, that Bodine. I believe we've captured his true essence here. A look into his shadowy soul

It's an entertaining Facebook app to promote Tim Burton's Frankenweenie movie that allows you to scrape away that last layer of dignity from your pet and monster them up. And just in time for Halloween. Sa-weet!

Bodine pre-frankenweenied
Bodine's leaning on a Who Dunit book with a just-ate-the-canary look on his mug. Who dunit indeed, says Bodine. Not me.

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